Donna Underwood has always felt like a freak. She has to constantly wear long gloves to cover her arms: arms that are covered in intricate ironwork, r...moreDonna Underwood has always felt like a freak. She has to constantly wear long gloves to cover her arms: arms that are covered in intricate ironwork, repaired with magic within and without after an encounter that left her father dead and her mother as good as dead. Donna is a part of a society of alchemists, both seeking the philosopher’s stone and protecting the world from elves, fae, and other magical creatures. When Donna’s best friend Navin is stolen by the wood elves, she must enlist the help of her new half-fae friend to find a way to get her friend back.
The Iron Witch is a fast-paced read involving magical creatures, attractive boys, and lots of alchemy. My favorite parts of the book involved learning more about the alchemical society to which Donna belongs, and the different parts of the alchemical laboratory.
I liked the set-up of the book. Navin’s a really great best friend/cute boy character, and Xan also seemed like he might have a lot to him. Watching Donna reveal herself to these two guys took up a great deal of the book. The second half of the story, after Navin is kidnapped and Donna and Xan go on a quest to save him, felt a little rushed. I could have done with more dramatic tension and more obstacles to get to where Mahoney wanted to go and to balance out the character introductions. This is the frst book in a series (I believe it is a trilogy), so hopefully the next two books will be a bit meatier since they don’t need to set up the initial character introductions.
The Iron Witch is a quick read, and one that I did enjoy. If it seemed too short to me, that just says that it really did leave me wanting more. Needless to say, I’ll be picking up The Wood Queen when it comes out next year.(less)
**spoiler alert** *Warning* Spoilers ahead if you have not read the first two books in the series. If you have, please proceed.
In the first book of th...more**spoiler alert** *Warning* Spoilers ahead if you have not read the first two books in the series. If you have, please proceed.
In the first book of this series, our heroine, Meghan Chase, ventures into Faery to rescue her brother, and finds that she is the daughter of Oberon, King of the Summer Fae. She travels into the Iron Realm, which is poisoning Faery, and defeats the Iron King to save her brother. Book two tests Meghan by having her love, Prince Ash, captured by the Iron Fae, while a war is brewing between the Winter and Summer courts, with Meghan at the center. In the most recent book, the stakes are even higher as Meghan must defeat the impostor Iron King, stop the spread of the iron sickness, and save all of Faery.
Kagawa has once again written a fast-paced, fun, exciting fantasy novel that will keep readers guessing at every turn. Ash and Meghan are finally able to be together, but that doesn’t mean that life is easy for them. They are living as exiles of the Faery realm, and must also avoid being kidnapped by a faction of the Iron Fae while in the human world. The plot climaxes in a series of battles that are more intense than anything that has come before in the series. The final showdown between Meghan and the false Iron King (I don’t think I’m spoiling too much there, because you know it’s going to happen) is satisfying. And I may have been dense, but I did not guess the false Iron King’s identity until it was revealed to the reader.
Meghan really comes into her own in this book. She learns, she takes charge of situations, and she is able to care deeply for those around her and to unite, at times, with her enemies. All in all, she’s a great female protagonist. I really appreciate that she and Ash manage to avoid falling into Bella-Edward relationship stereotypes.
The support characters are strong here, as well. As always, I love every scene that involves Grimalkin, and Puck is also fun to read (although maybe not as much as in the first book). Some new minor characters are introduced, including a really spunky, cute one named Razor.
This is probably the darkest book in the series, but that also makes it the most intense, and, I think, satisfying. We are left on a bit of a cliffhanger, so you’ll be chomping at the bit with anticipation for The Iron Knight, set to be released this coming fall. The Iron Fey is a strong series, and not to be missed by fans of fantasy.(less)
In the latest installment of Sookie Stackhouse’s story, Sookie once again finds herself in a web of trouble due to her relationships with the vampires...moreIn the latest installment of Sookie Stackhouse’s story, Sookie once again finds herself in a web of trouble due to her relationships with the vampires, weres, and fairies around her. The book begins with Sam’s bar, Merlotte’s, being firebombed while Sookie is on duty, and doesn’t let up much from there. Sookie also knows that her two fairy kin who are living with her, Dermot and Claude, are keeping secrets; plus, her vampire lover Eric is fighting with his second in command, Pam, and Sookie suspects it may have to do with her and the things he isn’t telling her. The book contains revelations about Sookie’s “gift,” her grandmother’s relationship with the half-fairy that fathered her dad, and other details of Sookie’s world.
Dead Reckoning was exactly what I have come to love about this series, and about Harris’s writing. There is plenty of action, yet nothing ever gets so dark that it cannot have you laughing out loud again in a few pages. Sookie is a very persuasive character because she has such an understand about the characters that surround her, she has a sense of humor and ability to deal with the troubles life deals her, yet she can also stand up for herself, no matter what it takes.
In this story, we see a further progression of relationships Sookie has, and some enemies finally put down. There aren’t a lot of big mysteries waiting to be solved here, but we do get answers to questions that have always been a part of the series. Unfortunately, Jason doesn’t make an appearance, but we get plenty of Eric, some Bill, and even a little Alcide. It’s a vampire and fairy heavy book, and were politics don’t play too much of a role, but there’s more than enough to keep a fan of the series happily reading.
If you’re somebody who has been keeping up with this series, you will really want to read this book. And if you haven’t, pick up book 1, Dead Until Dark, and get started.(less)
Bryn has finally found some sort of stability as the human alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack of werewolves. Nothing ever remains easy, though, and trouble...moreBryn has finally found some sort of stability as the human alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack of werewolves. Nothing ever remains easy, though, and trouble begins when an injured strange wolf shows up at her front door requesting protection from his pack. However, he’s carrying many secrets, and Bryn needs to dig deep to find out how much of a threat this new wolf actually poses to the safety of her pack.
Trial by Fire is a nice sequel to Raised by Wolves. It continues the story of the Cedar Ridge Pack right where it left off at the end of the last book. The threat this time isn’t just werewolves, although there’s plenty of that, but another outside group that is even more adept at harming werewolves. As the story develops, the political motivations surrounding circumstances is stripped away. I really didn’t see the ending coming, so congrats to Barnes for catching me by surprise with the final development.
I really appreciated Bryn’s willingness to let others help, and to lean on her pack members when she needs them most, rather than playing the heroine. It speaks to the true meaning of teamwork and leadership. I’m also relieved that Barnes hasn’t fallen into the stereotypical love triangle trope in this book. The plot moves forward due to much more mature and complex tensions.
Trial by Fire will certainly satisfy fans of Raised by Wolves, and will leave you waiting for the next book.(less)
Enthralled features 16 stories by 16 of the most popular current YA paranormal writers. Stories range from the appearance of a ghost guarding a road,...moreEnthralled features 16 stories by 16 of the most popular current YA paranormal writers. Stories range from the appearance of a ghost guarding a road, to twins with unique capabilities, to a vampire trying out a new vending machine. This book is a great sampling of many of the different writers, especially of popular series, that are hot on the market today, and a nice variety for fans of paranormal fiction.
The only issue I had with the anthology was that nearly all of the stories take place in the universes of series. This is either a good or a bad thing: good if you’re a fan of the series and want more, bad if you have never read them and are completely lost. There were a couple of really strong exceptions: “Red Run” by Kami Garcia, “At the Late Night, Double Features, Picture Show” by Jessica Verday, and “I.V. League” by Margaret Stohl are all stand-alone stories. I have to say, Verday’s story was my favorite. It’s completely geeky and raucous fun. How could you not love a story that features zombie girl scouts and a carfull of vampires dressed up, going to see Rocky Horror Picture Show?
This anthology is a must-have for fans of any of the authors featured, and is worth picking up for fans of the genre in general.(less)
History professor Frank Nichols has been blacklisted from academia after stealing the beautiful Eudora from a tenured professor. The two have been dow...moreHistory professor Frank Nichols has been blacklisted from academia after stealing the beautiful Eudora from a tenured professor. The two have been down and out on their luck, until Frank inherits a house from his aunt in rural Georgia. Frank, a Northerner, is fascinated by his monster of a great-grandfather, and the ruined family plantation, so the pair move. Not all is quiet and quaint in Whitbrow, GA, however, and they soon come to find that the town has a very dark secret–one that is tied to Frank, and so secret that the town itself has forgotten the reason for the very rules that have kept it safe. Nobody goes across the river, for good reason.
I loved this lush, dark Southern gothic tale. Buehlman captures the tone of Depression era Georgia in the language on every page in this book, so that I felt I was transported back, and that the book could have been written in the time when it take place. I’m usually quite picky when it comes to historical fiction, but the setting and vocabulary rang true to me. Whitbrow is filled with interesting characters that were fleshed out nicely, so that the town itself came alive.
The story moves along, with not too much happening out of the ordinary, other than a dog getting hit by the moving truck, and the townspeople’s strange habit of releasing pigs in the area across the river once a month. Only, there are other clues along the way–slight, unsettling occurrences that signal that all is not right in the town. However, they’re easily brushed off until it is too late.
I had no idea that the story would take the turn it did. Out of nowhere, I was astounded by where Buehlman chose to go. Except that it worked. Far from simply being a thriller, this turns into out and out horror, and I loved it. As a girl who has been reading a lot of YA horror lately, it was a real treat to read a horror novel for adults, that is so sophisticated and nuanced in its buildup.
I know that there will be those that disagree with me, and that will dislike the events in the last quarter of the book, but I really think that Buehlman delivered, far more than I ever expected from this unassuming book. And for my money, that’s the best kind of horror.(less)
In the small town of Claysville, the residents know that who ever is born there must be buried there. There is also a tradition of giving the dead the...moreIn the small town of Claysville, the residents know that who ever is born there must be buried there. There is also a tradition of giving the dead the things they need, like food, drink, and prayers; otherwise, if the dead don't get these things, they become hungry and may come back to seek them from the living. Fortunately, Claysville always has two people to help take care of the dead: the Graveminder, who does the rituals to keep the dead in the ground, and the Undertaker, who assists and protects the Graveminder. When the current Graveminder is killed in a gruesome murder, her step-granddaughter Rebecca is called to town to take her place. Rebecca must learn to accept her role as Graveminder, come to terms with her relationship to the Undertaker, Byron, and fix the mistakes of the past before more Claysville residents are hurt or killed.
Graveminder is my favorite kind of story: dark, atmospheric, mysterious, dangerous. I love the concept of the Graveminder and the Undertaker, both working to uphold a bargain made by a town long ago. The sense of ritual and community is strong in the story, even though both main characters left Claysville for a while, so they are able to see their town through the eyes of outsiders. The Barrow family, who have provided the town with the Graveminders for hundreds of years, has an established lineage. I'd compare this to the kind of lineage and heritage found in Anne Rice's The Witching Hour, although that book is much more sprawling than Marr's is here.
Which brings me to my next point. Marr has done a great job with creating an atmosphere and mythology in a short space, while not neglecting storytelling and plot. She drops the reader right into Claysville, and part of the fun is finding out what is going on in the town. The book takes place in a very short amount of time, and there's plenty of action, concentrated into the span of just a few days. All the while, we know that there will be more to the series, and don't feel rushed. I do wish the book had been a bit longer, but just because I was enjoying it so much.
Bravo to Melissa Marr for making the transition from YA writing to adult fiction so successfully, and for building such a creative, yet believable, world. Graveminder rocks.(less)
In the aftermath of the Robot War, a soldier on the front lines makes a discovery that allows him to create a history of the events that changed the w...moreIn the aftermath of the Robot War, a soldier on the front lines makes a discovery that allows him to create a history of the events that changed the world forever. Robopocalypse recounts the first creation of the robot mind Archos, and intelligence that decides that life is amazing, and humans destroy life, so humans must be destroyed. The events unfold as more robots are infected by Archos, and heroes, both human and robot, rise to try to stop Archos from taking over the world.
While reading Robopocalypse, I constantly found myself comparing it to Max Brooks’ World War Z. One of my first thoughts about the book was: are robots the new zombies? Creatures that can somehow pass on an infection that changes the hardwiring to want to kill humans, while remaining nearly unstoppable? Another similarity was the way that the story was told through past events that chronicled how it all went down. While not as global in scope as Brooks’ book, that kind of storytelling was still effective here.
This book is a war story, pure and simple. There is exposition about the nature of the enemy, its tactics, and the defensive strategy of the humans. Parts of the book take place in Afghanistan, where there is a much more familiar war already happening. Other characters must arm themselves to stand up to the much stronger machines. There was something kind of macho about this book: it’s all about robots at war, and there is almost no romance at play. It was actually refreshing for me to read something that was so unapologetically masculine.
Heavy on the action, and jumping from narrator to narrator, Robopocalypse kept me highly entertained, and would probably transfer well to the big screen. I recommend it to fans of the zombie genre who want to branch out and read something a bit different, but not too different.(less)
The more extreme your form of revenge, the more disastrously it bites back!
Homer Gibbons was a horrific serial killer, put to death by lethal injectio...moreThe more extreme your form of revenge, the more disastrously it bites back!
Homer Gibbons was a horrific serial killer, put to death by lethal injection. The thing is, one doctor made it so he would come back after death. Now all of Stebbins, PA is overrun by zombies, and it’s up to two cops and a reporter to try to save the survivors–including hundreds of children–from eradication as part of government quarantine. But how do you fight a contagion that is 100% infectious and 100% fatal, especially when has the face your friends and neighbors?
Dead of Night is a thrilling, gory, nail-biter of a zombie novel, and I loved it! We get zombies from page one, and the story builds in a slow crescendo of apocalyptic horror. This is my favorite adult novel Maberry has written to this point, proving that instead of becoming tired of writing about zombies, he’s continually honing his craft and growing.
There is a running theme throughout the book of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.” Each chapter opens with a few stanzas of the poem, which set the mood for the desolation to come. The zombies themselves are continually referred to as Hollow Men, shells of the people the used to be. Since we get the National Guard involved, and the promise of extreme war tactics against this rising tide of the walking dead, Maberry’s allusion also draws the connection between today’s conflicts, zombie or otherwise, and the wreck of humanity left behind after World War I. The conclusion is implicit: this is the beginning of a global crisis that will change the world forever.
The story jumps from scene to scene, showing what is happening with the major players involved. For me, the main character is Desdemona ”Dez” Fox, a combat vet turned cop with a huge chip on her shoulder and a seriously screwed up psyche. Dez’s baggage both holds her down and spurns her on to fight for her town and what is right. The other main player is Billy Trout, her off-again flame. I think Trout had the largest character arc in the story, and it was really satisfying to see how both of these characters allowed the crisis to bring the best out of them.
As for the zombies, Maberry keeps it traditional, but with a twist. He alludes to The Serpent and the Rainbow method of voodoo zombie, but throws in a mixture of biological engineering and natural parasites to create a formula that gives us reanimated dead. The bitten die, then come back as mindless shambling corpses, hellbent on biting whoever they can. The twist is that they retain consciousness, although they are trapped by their bodies and the instinct of the contagion. Imagine committing unthinkable acts with no way of stopping yourself, over and over. Yeah…terrifying.
I think fans of the zombie genre are going to eat this book up. The police/military/conspiracy subtexts keep the story moving forward, and there’s a very small town, personal motivation behind wanting the characters to live. Highly recommended to fans of horror and zombies!(less)
William, Earl of Mercia, has just awoken from a long sleep. He’s a vampire, created in the 13th century, who slips in and out of time as the ages pass...moreWilliam, Earl of Mercia, has just awoken from a long sleep. He’s a vampire, created in the 13th century, who slips in and out of time as the ages pass, all while he remains 16 years old in form. This time is different, though. It starts with the prophetic ramblings of his breakfast victim, to which is added a strange notebook full of writings that seem to have to do with Will. Demons begin attacking him. What’s more, Will meets Eloise, a runaway that seems to be wrapped up in his destiny. He must discover who is sending the demons after him, and in the process try to finally solve the mystery of the vampire who made him.
Blood is richly atmospheric, and a great read for those who love their vampire fiction to be part of the gothic fiction tradition. As in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, much of the narrative consists of Will musing on his immortality and the pain of living forever while those around him must die. The world moves on, but Will does not. We are able to dive backward in history to Will’s medieval life, and sense the dank decay of the tomb beneath the cathedral where he spends his time.
The action gets started pretty quickly, though. This book is short–it doesn’t take long to get right into the meat of the plot. If anything, I wish it would have spent more time detailing Will’s previous life. Wignall’s writing is so lovely that I could have used more meandering through the ages.
I raced through this book. I devoured it on a red-eye flight when I really should have been sleeping, but I was compelled to keep going until I finished it. This is being described as the first of a trilogy, and I can only hope that we learn much more about Will past and his connection to Eloise in the following books. If you like your vampires dark, brooding, and ancient, this is the book for you.(less)
Liz seemed to have everything: her boyfriend was the hottest guy in school, she was the queen bee of the cool crowd, her father bought her anything sh...moreLiz seemed to have everything: her boyfriend was the hottest guy in school, she was the queen bee of the cool crowd, her father bought her anything she wanted, and she was incredibly beautiful. She was all these things, until she died on her 18th birthday. Now, she’s stuck in limbo on earth with a boy from her school who was killed a year before. Together, they slowly regain memories of their lives, and try to piece together who killed him, and why Liz died. In the process, Liz learns many lessons about how to be a good person that she never learned in life.
After picking up Between, I immediately felt like I’d read this book several times in the last year. Pretty popular girl dies, life is revealed through flashbacks, we see that she wasn’t nice, and she learns the error of her ways. Some books with similar plots: 7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando, Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison, and The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade. Even though I felt like I knew exactly what to expect, and how the mystery would resolve (I was right), I still found myself getting sucked into this book.
At the beginning, main-character Liz is downright obnoxious. She feels superior to everybody around her, and seems more concerned by the state of her water-logged body as they fish her out than the fact that she’s dead. However, the book slowly goes into a character study revealing why she is the way she is, and how she’s created a persona to protect herself from something terrible that happened to her early in life. Like Liz, many of the supporting roles in this book turn out to be fully fleshed-out characters, complete with flaws and layers.
If you haven’t read any of the books I mentioned above, pick up this book. It’s less intense than 7 Souls, but much more serious than Here Lies Bridget or The Ghost and the Goth. And even if you have read those books, you may still really enjoy Warman’s writing and the way she teases out the solution to the mystery of these two deaths.(less)