It is all to easy to imagine the near-future world in Tobias S. Buckell’s ARCTIC RISING. The Polar ice cap has all but melted and the Arctic has opene...moreIt is all to easy to imagine the near-future world in Tobias S. Buckell’s ARCTIC RISING. The Polar ice cap has all but melted and the Arctic has opened up as a shipping lane, place to live and work, and of course – oil. Anika usually has a fairly easy job of monitoring shipping through the Arctic waters from her airship, until the day she looks a bit closer at a ship showing radioactive readings and is shot out of the sky. What follows begins as a simple need to find out why and quickly becomes a rush to save more than just herself, but the Arctic and the world.
ARCTIC RISING is almost non-stop action from the beginning to the end. Spanning only a few days, Anika’s airship is shot out of the sky, she finds herself in a fight for her life, flees her home and work, is captured, escapes engages in numerous shootouts and oh yea, is entirely too close to a nuclear bomb for her comfort. But even with this amount of action and running around, Tobias S. Buckell still manages to flesh out his characters and allow you to connect with them. I think the main aspect I really liked about this book is Anika. She’s a strong, capable, independent woman. She fights for what she believes in and those she loves, and can handle her own when it comes to the tough stuff. At any time she could have easily given up and given in, but she doesn’t. She keeps going and sees it through to the end. Oh! And, Anika happens to be a lesbian. Best part? She just is. There’s no big reveal or major plot revolving around this fact, her orientation is just one more aspect to her character and it’s wonderful.
I do have to admit that I was a little confused at times as to who were the bad guys and who were the good guys, but I’m thinking it’s supposed to be that way. Anika herself is often unsure as to who’s on her side, and whose side she’s on, and the plot reflects that, though it can be distracting trying to keep it all straight. I think I may have also enjoyed the book more (though I did enjoy it quite a bit) with a different writing style. The writing is good, don’t get me wrong, there were just some turns of phrase and sentences that seemed a big awkward to me, although they may not to another reader.
ARCTIC RISING is a fast-paced fire fight through the Arctic ice and cold. Books that have a plot rooted in possibility are always a bit more heart-pounding than complete science fiction, for the simple fact that such a future is scary to imagine and yet may very well be reality and sooner than we may think. The ideas presented by Tobias S. Buckell for reversing global warming are intriguing and I can’t help but wonder if, it ever came down to such a drastic change in weather and climate, would something like it be attempted? While ARCTIC RISING may be an intense action-adventure, it’s completely thought-provoking as well, and a science fiction that takes place in a not so distant future.
AWKWARD by Marni Bates is a feel-good contemporary. Mackenzie Wellesley feels like she is the most awkward girl in her school – she’s an Invisible who...moreAWKWARD by Marni Bates is a feel-good contemporary. Mackenzie Wellesley feels like she is the most awkward girl in her school – she’s an Invisible who tutors Logan, a Notable who truthfully doesn’t seem as bad as some of his friends. Mackenzie’s suddenly thrust into the spotlight when one of the most awkward moments of her high school career is video tapes and uploaded to Youtube. Overnight she becomes a sensation, and when a popular rock group uses her video as their music video her fifteen minutes of fame suddenly seems much longer.
Mackenzie is such a great character. She is not just an awkward Invisible. She’s smart, confident in her ability, friendly, sassy, and as this whole thing spreads and grows she gains a confidence in herself that just needed a little shove to show up. Her best friends are amazing secondary characters, too. Jane is bookish, and doesn’t have an envious bone in her body, while Corey is the gay best friend who gets his own benefits from Mackenzie’s moments of fame. What I liked best? The fact that Mackenzie and her friends stayed friends through the whole thing. There wasn’t any jealousy, backstabbing or betrayal, and it was great.
AWKWARD by Marni Bates is a well written, light-hearted contemporary that any age can enjoy. The characters drive the storyline amidst awkward moments, budding romance and the pitfalls of instant internet fame. Mackenzie’s navigation of her rise to fame and how it affects her is captivating, and you can’t help but cheer for her. I devoured AWKWARD in one sitting and can’t wait to read the companion book that looks deeper into Jane’s character.
Deborah Coates’ debut novel WIDE OPEN will leave you rushing to turn the pages too fast as you try to work out the mystery surrounding Hallie Michaels...moreDeborah Coates’ debut novel WIDE OPEN will leave you rushing to turn the pages too fast as you try to work out the mystery surrounding Hallie Michaels’ sister Dell’s death. This book was un-put-downable. Not a word, I know, but I devoured this chilly ghost story in one sitting and was constantly kept on the edge of my seat trying to put all the pieces together.
Hallie has arrived back Stateside on compassionate leave from the army after learning of her sister’s death. She exits the plane with ghost in tow, and is soon joined by a second – the ghost of her sister, Dell. Rumoured to be suicide, Hallie is stubborn and clings to the belief that her sister would never commit suicide. She has only ten days to figure out her sister’s death, and there are more threads to the case than she thinks she can ever put together. Add to that the strange storms and lightening that are plaguing her Prairie home, the ghosts of missing girls that keep appearing, and a handsome Deputy Sheriff that has the knack of popping up in the right place at the right time (or the right place at the wrong time, if you ask Hallie), and Hallie feels her ten days slipping through her fingers.
Hallie is stubborn, capable and determined. She doesn’t need to rely on anyone else to do what needs doing, but she’s not too proud to eventually accept help when she needs it. Her sister has died and she’s determined to figure out what happened, and she keeps that determination throughout everything that happens to her over the course of the book. Deborah Coates’ writing drags you into the story with vivid description and emotion. The descriptions of the cold ghosts, the fire that’s plaguing the prairie and Hallie’s thoughts at these times are tingling and so vivid. And our deputy sheriff! Deborah does a great job in keeping you wondering if he’s involved or not. He’s so mysterious!
WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates is a murder mystery with ghosts and magic wrapped up in it. I loved working through the mystery of Dell’s death with Hallie. Though it’s one of those book where you’re pretty sure you know who done it, the little details and clues that Hallie finds along the way pointing her in the right direction were often complete surprises – until she finds it, and you’re like “ohhh, should have seen that coming!” Although sometimes it felt like she found her clues a little too easily, the end result is that there are people involved that were a bit sloppy, and Hallie is a smart woman that takes everything she’s given and runs with it. WIDE OPEN is a wonderful debut that will keep you ready long into the night and checking over your shoulder for ghosts every time you feel a chill in the air.
DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor is more than you could ever wish for in...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor is more than you could ever wish for in a sequel. Taking the reader through forbidden love, betrayal, questioned loyalties and strong friendships, DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT will have you on the edge of your seat gripping the book for dear life.
One of the major reasons that I love this book and series is the writing. Laini Taylor has a beautiful, lyrical style of writing – descriptions are extremely vivid with particular attention to detail and intense emotion from characters and situations. Karou is with Thiago and the other surviving Chimaera in the human world while Akiva is back with his brethren in the other world. War is in full swing and both warlords are kind of crazy. We get to experience multiple aspects of the war through multiple point of views – not just Karou and Akiva, but Zuzana and Mik, and refugee Chimaera fleeing the Angels. With each point of view change comes a completely different way of looking at the situation and an almost new feel to the story. New emotions, outlooks and descriptors. Character voice is perfect, especially so with Karou. She is so changed from the beginnings of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and yet still the same girl deep down. It’s an interesting look at how new knowledge and revived memories can alter a personality but have the new experiences and recent memories leave their mark as well.
The plot in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT hits the ground running. There are plans within plans within plans and it seems that no one can be trusted. Every move is questionable, no one is safe and what you think you know can be completely wrong. Akiva and Karou are both being manipulated and there is more going on behind the scenes of the war between the Angels and Chimaera than they are privy to. Laini Taylor hits hard with ideas surrounding love, friendship and loyalty – Karou and Akiva had forbidden love, Zuzana and Mik are so in love. Zuzana would do anything, and indeed she kind of has, for Karou while Akiva manages to earn a grudging friendship with two of his siblings. Karou showcases a sense of loyalty to her people born of guilt and fear, while Akiva’s loyalty to the cause is sorely tested and even broken. The question for both of them is whether to do what is right or what is easy and always been done – and then even if they do the right thing, it tends to blow up in their faces. Sometimes literally.
The ending of DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT is ridiculous in such a good way. Shit has well and truly hit the fan. Oh look, apocalypse. How fun! I was so tense during the ending of the book and more than just a little excited (it scares me sometimes how much I enjoy a good apocalypse story). I seriously don’t know how I can wait for the next book after that ending. There are so many twists, cliffhangers and “holy crap” moments that the story is always surprising and gripping. DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor is one of those books where you need to know what happens next and each moment leads to the other and flows so seamlessly together you won’t be able to find a good spot to stop and just keep turning pages until before you know it, it’s 2am and you’ve just finished the book. This series is absolutely captivating.(less)
Over the course of my life I have missed out on many a movie night because I refuse to watch scary movies. I am very susceptible to nightmares and hat...moreOver the course of my life I have missed out on many a movie night because I refuse to watch scary movies. I am very susceptible to nightmares and hate being startled or anxious. Surprisingly, books have never really bothered me. The chills and shivers I get ready a creepy ghost story or thriller are very welcome, and PICTURE THE DEAD gave me chills as I was reading it – though reading a ghost story at 2am probably didn’t help!
Our main character Jennie receives news that her fiance Will has died on the battlefield during the American Civil War, when his brother Quinn returns home wounded. Having already lost her brother to sickness, and both her parents, Jennie is a bit adrift and feeling Will’s presence with her. But more than just trying to discover why Will is haunting her, Jennie is determined to find out exactly how he died – and Quinn seems to hold the answer.
The mystery of how Will died is the driving factor in this book and it flows very well throughout the course of the story. Jennie is driven to know what really happened and it helps that she is given signs from Will’s spirit. The pace of the story is kept marching along as Jennie moves from one clue to the next, and though you’re often wondering if Will’s ghost is actually there and leading her, PICTURE THE DEAD gives wonderful belief to ghosts. Jennie is a great main character – she’s distraught over the news of Will’s death, skeptical and yet a believer, unsure of her place in the family and constantly on the search for the truth.
PICTURE THE DEAD‘s mystery and ghostly elements are all based around an innocent and off screen love story. Even though Will is never present, he feels very much a part of the novel – especially since his ghost is haunting Jennie. I really enjoyed the twists in the plot and definitely recommend not reading this one late at night if you’re any little bit at all afraid of scary stories. There are scenes near the end that will send shivers right up and down your spine!
I absolutely loved Alexandra Bracken’s debut novel Brightly Woven and have be...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
I absolutely loved Alexandra Bracken’s debut novel Brightly Woven and have been eagerly waiting another book from her since reading it. When I found out that her second book would be coming out and in the dystopian/apocalyptic genre, I couldn’t have been more excited! And THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken certainly lived up to my expectations and I devoured it. The main character Ruby has been in a rehabilitation camp for six years, sent there when she was ten years old and exhibited symptoms of Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration disease (IAAN) – and didn’t die. This disease has killed most of the children in the United States, and those that have survived show signs of mental powers, whether telekinesis, heightened intelligence, control over fire or electricity, or the ability to enter the mind of another and assert the wielders will or erase memories. But now Ruby has broken out of Thurmond and is trying to survive in a country that fears her.
Although there’s a prologue that introduces us to the reality of Ruby’s situation in the rehabilitation camp Thurmond, chapter one begins with an intense first line – “Grace Somerfield was the first to die.” (pg. 3, ARC). It really draws you into this interesting and terrifying concept of a United States that is losing its children, and terrified of the survivors. I really enjoyed the different factions that have risen up in the wake of IAAN and the back story is woven into the narrative really well. There are so many aspects of this story that I like, including the characters. Ruby is so complex. She’s a survivor, and strong. She hides in the beginning, but by the end has gained enough to lose that she makes the decision to actively fight against what’s happened to her and the other kids. Ruby’s kind of lost but determined to stay free of Thurmond and the other camps. Liam is steady, strong, capable and so protective. But he can rush into things sometimes. Chubs is the humour. He always has to find the worst possible scenario, but it keeps them cautious. He’s optimistic deep down and while he seems distrustful he has a huge heart.
The romance in THE DARKEST MINDS is quiet and believable, as are the friendships and the trust that builds between the characters. No insta-love, thank goodness. The budding romance between Ruby and Liam is slow and sweet but not without its hardships. As I was reading, I couldn’t help wondering if IAAN is world-wide, and why adults were so quick to turn on their children – especially with the majority of them dieing. You’d think even with the extra powers gained (and the Greens are just really smart! How dangerous can that be?) parents would do anything to protect their kids (and yes, I know it was the government taking most of the kids away from their homes, but there are parents in government). So many people are not what they seem and it’s hard for Ruby and the others to know who to trust and what they should be searching for besides the mysterious Slip Kid – the person who is rumoured can get kids home, or at least messages to their families.
THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page. There are some wonderful action moments, and the whole scene in the Wal-Mart was creepy, intense and haunting. There’s also this ridiculously crazy ending that rips your heart out and the desire for a sequel. Sooner rather than later, please! Alexandra Bracken’s writing is emotional and descriptive, enough to have you mood-swinging like crazy while trying to keep up with Ruby and her insane journey.(less)
First and foremost, thank you Julie Kagawa for the vampires in THE IMMORTAL RULES. She has put her own twist on the vampire legends while still keepin...moreFirst and foremost, thank you Julie Kagawa for the vampires in THE IMMORTAL RULES. She has put her own twist on the vampire legends while still keeping them fairly traditional – no sunlight, the hunger for blood, fast and strong. Just the way I like my vamps.
Allison is awesome. She’s strong in so many ways, and yet still impulsive and petulant like any teenager. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, but she works to correct it and better herself. Allison knows she’s technically a monster, but tries so hard to still seem human and even find a balance between who she was, and who she is. She knows humans are food to her now, but it doesn’t stop her from falling for Zeke, a human in the group she comes across once outside the wall. Honestly, I don’t blame her for falling for Zeke. He’s kind, a natural leader and always tries to do the best for the group. He’s got a bit of a problem with following the groups leader, Jeb, a bit blindly, but he manages to overcome some of that. And as we find out more about Jeb and his mission to find Eden, and how he’s raised Zeke, I don’t blame Zeke for wearing blinders sometimes. And I can’t not mention Kanin, Allison’s maker. So studious, full of a need to repent and he cares for Allison in his own brash and tough kind of way. He’s very aloof, but decent.
There’s a religious background to Zeke’s group that I found was very well managed. It’s a part of the plot without being overpowering for those readers who are not particularly religious (like myself), but is present enough so that we can understand the impact that religion holds for Jeb, Zeke and the group searching for Eden. Julie Kagawa’s writing in THE IMMORTAL RULES is very gritty, and she holds nothing back. Death, gangs, gladiator-style games, the ruin that the plague has left on the world…it is all present and accounted for and not sugar-coated. The voice in which this story is told is wonderful, and is bolstered by the worldbuilding and mythology that went into the story. It’s easy to see yourself with Allison in her world, and it’s kind of depressing, though always with that edge of hope I so love to see in post-apocalyptic and dystopian books.
Despite the grit, suspense and intensity of THE IMMORTAL RULES there are moments of pure awesome that liven up the atmosphere. There’s a small poke at the myth of vampires being able to turn into bats, Allison wonders why she’ll ever need long division (even in a vampire led post-apocalyptic world math is still an annoyance), and there’s a great moment where Kanin makes a comment about a lumberjack and Allison just replies “I don’t know what a lumberjack is.” (Page 138, ARC) You’ll find the whole range of emotion and tension in THE IMMORTAL RULES and if you’re anything like me, it will keep you up reading all night because you just have to know what comes next – and that never ends, so you end up reading right through the book. Also guys, for a bit of the beginning I thought I was getting not just vampires but zombies, too. And that would have been all kinds of amazing. But no! Not quite. It’s even more awesome, and I’m not going to say anything more because it will ruin it, but ah. So good. THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa is definitely a must-read for any vampire or paranormal fans.
BREATHE by Sarah Crossan is a book that immediately grabs your attention with its u...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
BREATHE by Sarah Crossan is a book that immediately grabs your attention with its unique, terrifying premise – what if the trees were gone? How would humanity survive, and would we be able to right our wrongs? BREATHE takes the basic, learned-early knowledge that trees provide oxygen to a whole new post-apocalyptic level. Told through three points of view, the reader goes on a journey outside of the Pod (the domed city where the population who survived now live) and into the harsh landscape that our world has become. There are conspiracies, plots, battles and rebellion to be had.
Our three characters are Quinn (privileged son of a high government official), Bea (low-class, best friends with Quinn), and Alina (low-class, member of the rebellion). Through them we experience all aspects of life in the Pod and slowly learn the truth about the company Breathe and how/why they are running the Pod the way they are. The action and mystery start immediately and continue right up to the end of the story, and revelations come hard and fast for some of the characters. The outside world is bleak and Sarah Crossan does an amazing job with description and detail. The two leaders of the opposing factions in BREATHE – the Pod Minsters and Petra, leader of the rebels – could not be more opposite. I found the Pod Minster to be a bit of a joke, and can’t help wondering what it is that keeps him in power – he’s drunk on both booze and power and I’m hoping his rise to power and continued rule is explained in the next book. And Petra I found incredibly intense to the point of harshness and brutality. The action scenes are very well done and Quinn has to make some tough choices in the end in regards to his loyalty to his father and family, or his sense of right from wrong (and what he would do for Bea, too). There was a moment of disbelief regarding the character of Jazz near the end (if you’ve read the book, or decide to read it, you’ll understand) that threw me out of the story for a bit, but other awesome elements to the story made up for it.
BREATHE by Sarah Crossan is an entertaining and interesting book that will keep you reading from cover to cover. With relateable and well developed characters, no love triangle (at least not yet, and I hope never!) but a sweet friends-to-couple romance, and a disturbing concept for a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world Breathe is a very well done debut. Moments in the story will have you trying to catch your breath along with the characters, and wondering how everything will work out in the end when things seem so lost. Well worth the read!(less)
UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Brennan made me so happy. A gothic mystery with magic and suspe...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Brennan made me so happy. A gothic mystery with magic and suspense, it’s entertaining from start to finish.
Kami Glass is a budding journalist and prides herself on her investigative skills and desire for information. She also speaks to the voice in her head, Jared. Kami has such a strong personality, she’s a very easy character to get involved with. She’s funny, smart, takes risks and never gives up. But she also might be a bit too curious for her good and often hasty in her search for answers. She has some great friends, and Jared, her imaginary voice, turns out to be real…and very up and down and all over the place with his emotions and actions. Sarah Rees Brennan has an incredible voice when writing which shines through in characterization and descriptions.
The mystery does get off to a bit of a slow start, but makes up for it with an intense ending that just about killed me. UNSPOKEN is one of those books where things are not always what they seem, and yet are what they seem. Since you don’t think it can be the obvious, any twists that come are still surprises. The romance is slow to form but flows well with the storyline. At times though, I was completely aggravated with Jared and Kami. Honestly, they’ve been in each others heads since birth and now they get shy and snarky? But still, somehow works with the plot.
UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Brennan is an entertaining romp through English country side where magic seems to be everywhere and secrets are a part of the woodwork. Kami gets more of an adventure than I think she ever bargained for and it isn’t done yet! There’s a great mix of humour and serious mixed together with fun characters and good world building. I can’t wait for the sequel!(less)
NIGHTINGALE by David Farland is an intriguing fantasy novel presented in a very unique package – an enhanced e-book, with pictures, animations, music,...moreNIGHTINGALE by David Farland is an intriguing fantasy novel presented in a very unique package – an enhanced e-book, with pictures, animations, music, video interviews with the author and more. My review will of the story itself goes along with my 3 heart rating. I’ll talk about the presentation of the story at the bottom, since I feel the format needs to be mentioned.
Our main narrator is Bron Jones, a foster kid who’s been shuffled through the system into increasingly unsuitable home situations. But it’s not until he comes to live with Olivia that his entire world changes, and not really for the better. Bron is a masaak – not human, he has powers available to him that he can only begin to control. When he stumbles across others like him, Bron and Olivia are in a race against time to hide their whereabouts and discover just who Bron really is, and what he can do. The chapters alternate between Bron, Olivia and a few other characters. The ones narrated by a character other than Bron tend on the shorter side and give glimpses into how Bron’s presence is affecting those people around him.
I found it difficult to connect with the characters in NIGHTINGALE. Bron is very hard to pin down, and though we see most of the story through his eyes you’re never quite sure of his motivations or mindset. Olivia does what she thinks is right, and the best course of action, but I think she’s in over her head and making decisions for Bron that may backfire when he finds out the extent of her ‘helping’. The two female characters that are, of course, immediately in like with Bron are just that – in like with Bron. There’s a sinister male classmate, Bron’s father and mother and a few more characters who advance the plot and are probably important down the road. I enjoyed the story but felt some parts were a little rushed, or missing details that would have given a better picture of some events. A few of the details about masaaks, their powers and such were a bit confusing. I definitely enjoyed the story and want to see where it goes – especially with Bron, since he seems to be something new to the masaak groups (Aels and Draghouls) – but it didn’t suck me in and keep me hooked from page to page, and the ending was a bit too abrupt for my tastes. I’m thinking the sequels will delve more into Bron and his decisions regarding the two factions of masaaks and the main villains big plans.
I think NIGHTINGALE has a strong young adult/adult crossover appeal, and that the enhanced web/iPad version of the book is amazing – but not the best for my reading experience. I don’t own an iPad, so had to read the web version. Which means that I had to wait until when I had long enough moments to sit in front of my computer to read it. I really loved the chapter heading illustrations, music and animations and then the fact that the rest of the chapter was regular e-book. The videos from David Farland were informative, as were the highlighted words or sentences throughout the story that could be clicked on to provide information from the author about why that particular word or phrase or thing is in the book – but they could be distracting and break the flow of reading. Eventually I just stopped clicking and kept reading. Also, by about half way around the book, the chapter headings were just blank white pages with a quote. This may be because I was reading an advance view of the book, but it left me unable to fully appreciate the media aspect of the story.
Although I did not connect with the characters as much as I would have liked, and the format of the story was not my favourite (I still prefer traditional print over e-books), NIGHTINGALE by David Farland is a fairly solid fantasy that I think will appeal to fans of Davids other work and those who enjoy a fast-paced, detailed fantasy world.
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce is the third book in her fairy tale retellings series...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce is the third book in her fairy tale retellings series and revolves around The Little Mermaid, one of my favourite fairy tales. Jackson Pearce manages to keep the darkness of the original tale while incorporating some of the well-known aspects form Disney’s version, and it works very well.
Celia is a triplet – and they aren’t just your normal run of the mill triplets. She and her sisters can see the future, the present and the past. Celia, who can see the past when she touches others, thought she had the most useless gift of the three until she helps a mysterious girl rescue a boy from drowning. Enter Lo and Jude. Lo lives in the ocean. Brought there by the angels, Lo is her second name as she has forgotten her life before the ocean. Eventually, Lo will forget even this part of her life until she one day swims away to be with the angels. Jude is the love interest in a very interesting triangle with Celia and Lo. Though Jude is a main character in the book, Celia and Lo are really the focus and the characters we come to know the most about and feel connect to. Celia’s got the best of intentions and a huge heart. She cares of Lo and is falling for Jude. She’s loyal to her sisters but has some bratty moments. Lo is mysterious, confused, compassionate but hurt and sometimes resentful. Both girls are fully realized, but I can’t say the same for the others. Celia’s sisters are present but have hardly any development, and while we get to know Jude he isn’t explored deeply either. The book mostly focuses on the friendship between Lo and Celia.
The way that Jackson Pearce ties this third book into the other two, SISTERS RED and SWEETLY, is really interesting and different. I confess that I had to go back to SWEETLY and skim to refresh my memory about certain characters, though; namely Naida, who makes an appearance (and thank goodness for chapter headings, or I would have been fairly confused at certain points as to who was narrating – Lo or Naida), and I’m not saying much more about her since it will lead to massive spoilers. Celia’s power of hearing/seeing/knowing the past comes in handy when trying to help Lo and Naida, and the mythology behind the ocean girls (mermaids, if you will) is well done and interesting. I really liked the method of keeping the girls from leaving the ocean (since they don’t have tails!) and the way twins and triplets play into the plot of this book, and the series overall.
FATHOMLESS by Jackson Pearce is an interesting take on The Little Mermaid, and a great addition to the trilogy. The romance between Jude and Celia moves at a realistic pace for teens, and the final scenes of the book are intense with a wonderful message on the power of love for your friends being just as strong as the love for a significant other and family. A highly enjoyable read, and definitely recommended for fans of Jackson Pearce’s other novels.(less)
I went into PURITY by Jackson Pearce knowing exactly nothing about Princess Balls except what the back synopsis told me. Though it doesn’t say so, jus...moreI went into PURITY by Jackson Pearce knowing exactly nothing about Princess Balls except what the back synopsis told me. Though it doesn’t say so, just by the fact that at the end of the ball the participants (well, the daughters at least) vow to live pure lives, I figured it would have something to do with religion so I wasn’t surprised by any aspects of the book, at least.
While PURITY is definitely a story about a girl trying to lose her virginity before she has to vow to stay pure (a nice little loophole. If she’s already had sex, she doesn’t have to worry about the vow), it’s also about how she learns to live with the promises she made her mother before her mother died, gets to know her father and come to terms with how she feels about God and her faith. Shelby is a fairly confused teenager, even if she doesn’t think so. She’s trying to live by three promises that she made her mother, and yet the promises begin to conflict with each other and Shelby is left trying to figure out a way to stay true to both Promise 1 and 3 – meanwhile sort of forgetting to fully listen to Promise 2. One thing I loved about this book is Shelby’s friends. Ruby and Jonas support her fully, even when her decisions may not be the best, and they stick around for the sometimes hard life lessons learned at the end of the wacky plan.
I enjoyed the plot and the changes that Shelby goes through as her quest to lose her virginity and partaking in the Princess Ball brings her closer to her father, her friends and a realization that Promise 2 is just as important as Promises 1 and 3. She does quite a bit of growing up over the course of the story. I would have liked to see more between Shelby and her father. I know the plot was mainly about Shelby’s growth and path to really understanding the Promises she made her mom, but there was so much potential to have really good dialogue and interactions between father and daughter. What is there is wonderful, and Shelby’s dad definitely has an impact on her decisions, whether she really realizes it or not.
PURITY is a story about family, growing up and finding yourself and what you really want in life. I think many will be able to relate to Shelby’s journey, even if they’ve never set out to have sex on purpose in order to get out of a purity vow!
ASH was everything I could want in a fairy tale. It was soft and sweet, with just the right amount of adventure and suspense to keep the story flowing...moreASH was everything I could want in a fairy tale. It was soft and sweet, with just the right amount of adventure and suspense to keep the story flowing and intriguing. Malinda Lo’s writing style is very reminiscent of early fairy tales, and so was perfect for a retelling.
Ash was a wonderful character. I easily sympathized with her, and her emotions and thought processes came across beautifully. The stepmother and stepsisters were perfectly done – they were present enough to be a hinderance to Ash, but still in the background like an afterthought, which just felt right to me. I do wish I had gotten to see more of the fairy Sidhean, though. The book jacket promotes him as dark and dangerous, but I saw him more as lonely with the ability to be dangerous. He was just not what I was expecting. Kaisa, on the other hand, was a wonderful enigma. A huntress who feels sadness for her kills, and a member of the King’s court who may still believe in the old fairy stories. She is gentle, kind and generous and it was inevitable that Ash fall for her. The parts of the story where Ash was with Kaisa were some of the best written. You could almost feel the confusion and wonder that Ash felt.
Malinda Lo manages to create her own unique vision of the Cinderella fairy tale while still staying true to the original. The father dies, leaving Ash alone with a stepmother and two stepsisters. Ash is then relegated to the position of servant. Although there is no fairy god-mother, Sidhean plays that role. Lo adds in her own celebrations and fairy stories, creating an entire world that you don’t see in Cinderella, but there is still a fancy ball at the palace, and a rush to be home before midnight. And above all, there is still a happily ever after.(less)
LADDERTOP VOL. 1 by Orson Scott Card & Emily Janice Card is a fun foray into sci-fi graphic novels. If you’re a fan of Orson Scott Card it’s defin...moreLADDERTOP VOL. 1 by Orson Scott Card & Emily Janice Card is a fun foray into sci-fi graphic novels. If you’re a fan of Orson Scott Card it’s definitely worth picking up.
Robbi is chosen to go work in The Ladder, a structure left by aliens that extends up into space. Only children can fit into the webbing-like tubes in order to do maintenance and keep the Ladder in working order. Anyone who’s read the Ender books will definitely start feeling nostalgic in reading LADDERTOP. Though different aliens and plot, the idea of children being trained for a specific task, in space, is very familiar. It makes me wonder what the story would have read like if it was written in traditional novel format rather than as a graphic novel.
The artwork and layout of LADDERTOP reminds me strongly of manga and without the different hairstyles I would have found it difficult to keep the kids apart. The build up to the beginning of the mystery that Robbi finds herself a part of is interesting, and there’s enough information presented that I’m curious about what the aliens (the Givers) are up to and why they left the Ladders on Earth. One thing I chuckled at, there’s this one panel near the beginning of the book that has some drawings of different spaceships, and I’m pretty sure I saw not only a Borg cube and the Enterprise, but the TARDIS as well. So very neat.
TEEN BOAT! is one interesting graphic novel. Broken into parts, the novel is divided into mini stories – almost like episodes in a television show. Al...moreTEEN BOAT! is one interesting graphic novel. Broken into parts, the novel is divided into mini stories – almost like episodes in a television show. All deal with the adventures and antics of Teen Boat, a typical high school guy on the surface, but with the mysterious power to turn into a small yacht.
The panels in TEEN BOAT! are colourful and easy to follow, and the artwork is very easy on the eyes. The story is, like I said, a bunch of mini-episodes all with an overarching plot of Teen Boat in high school and his adventures. There’s a fun mystery with his friend Joey (who climbs through his window via ladder in the first story, very reminiscent of Joey in Dawson’s Creek) who we figure has some sort of changing power, too, only it’s not yet explored. Leaves something for the next book, I suppose!
TEEN BOAT! is a very random graphic novel, with a crazy premise, but good storytelling and artwork. I see elementary school kids getting a kick out of this one, and teens appreciating the humour and situations Teen Boat finds himself in.
THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen has reminded me how much I love straight-up fantasy, and that I should read more of it. I enjoy nothing more t...moreTHE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen has reminded me how much I love straight-up fantasy, and that I should read more of it. I enjoy nothing more than a brand-new world to explore, and maps are such a plus.
Sage is a thief, a trouble maker, and an orphan. He and three other orphans have been purchased by Bevin Conner, a regent to the King of the country of Carthya, for a plan that Sage fears may more than just border on treason. With the knowledge that he will be killed if he tries to run away or tell anyone that Conner plans to put an imposter on the throne, Sage stays at the manor and participates in Conner’s attempts to make the boys as much like the long-lost Prince Jaron as possible. Lies run rampant in the manor, and Sage’s defiant attitude may just ruin everything he’s planning to outwit Conner.
I devoured THE FALSE PRINCE from page one. A map? You know I’m hooked right away. And then to be introduced to Sage while he’s running back to the orphanage with a stolen roast and all he can think of is to get it wrapped next time before he steals it? Love. Sage’s voice is absolutely enthralling. He’s straightforward, mouthy, sarcastic, defiant and yet cares so much. He’s sneaky, a thief and a protector. He’s generous and strong and just very real. You can tell that even though Sage is often flippant and seems not to take the situation seriously, that everything is weighing heavy on his mind and that he is definitely keeping his own secrets. Secrets that even though you’re pretty sure you know, you still have a wriggle of doubt in your mind until everything hits the big reveal at the end. All the little hints that were dropped throughout the book suddenly make sense – everything plays out in a very natural progression and those hints and seemingly random things/moments all add up in the end to a huge sighing “ah-ha!” moment.
Although Sage and the characters in THE FALSE PRINCE were the driving point for me, the backstory we get into Carthya and the fantasy world the country is part of is very well presented. This whole plot to place an imposter of the king’s long-lost son on the throne is all part of a larger political battle that would have huge repercussions on not only Carthya, but the neighbouring countries of Avenia and Gelyn. Indeed, the events surrounding Prince Jaron being long-lost (approx. 4 years since he presumably died) all feed in to this political situation. The roots of Conner’s plan extend far and wide throughout Carthya and Sage has a huge part to play, whether he wants to or not.
THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen has everything I enjoy in a fantasy – great characters, wonderful world-building, intrigue, murder, treason, storming the castle, loyalty, a pissed-off princess. It’s great! Over the course of the story you’ll find yourself biting your nails in anxiety, wincing, cheering, urging the good guys to win and really feel for Sage by the end. Seriously, he completely makes this story as good as it is. I can’t wait for the sequel!
PEACE, LOVE AND CUPCAKES is the first book in the new series The Cupcake Club by Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk, a mother-daughter writing team. This s...morePEACE, LOVE AND CUPCAKES is the first book in the new series The Cupcake Club by Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk, a mother-daughter writing team. This series is going to be perfect for kids in the grade 4 and 5 age range as it revolves around Kylie, a grade four student.
Kylie has only been at her Connecticut school for a year, and grade four is just as awful as grade 3. Meredith, a popular girl at school, won’t stop making fun of her and saying cruel things and Kylie’s favourite teacher is moving. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, the new drama teacher turns out to be not so bad, and invites Kylie to help her put together a baking club. Gathering three other “outsiders” to the club, Kylie, Lexi, Sadie and Jenna soon go from a baking club to a cupcake club, selling cupcakes and banding together against Meredith and her bullying.
PEACE, LOVE AND CUPCAKES showcases wonderful character voices – Kylie and her friends talk and behave very much like many of the grade fours I know, and while they try to act as mature as possible they are still kids, and make mistakes. Though Meredith is a bully, Sheryl and Carrie Berk do a good job of showing the readers that Meredith is still a child as well, and as her own insecurities and confusion about her place in school. The obstacles that Kylie and the Cupcake Club have to overcome and quite realistic and will keep you turning the pages to figure out what will happen next, and if the girls will make the right choices.
Although a little skeptical that ten year olds would be able to handle the pressure and workload needed to run not just a Cupcake Club but a business, it is easy to set aside that skepticism and just enjoy reading about four grade four girls that manage to start up a successful cupcake selling business quite by accident. PEACE, LOVE AND CUPCAKES is a wonderful start to a fun new series, and the cupcake recipes found at the end of the book will allow for some sweet adventures in the kitchen while waiting for book two to hit shelves.
MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch blends a mix of magic and technology into a truly unique wo...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 rating.
MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch blends a mix of magic and technology into a truly unique world and adventure. The Rift divides Glenn’s world in two – the Colloquium, where she lives, and the Magisterium, the place beyond the Rift that she believes to be barren and lifeless. Until she finds herself running from her government and a visitor to the Magisterium.
The technology and futuristic world of the Colloquium is wonderful. The details that Jeff Hirsch has put into both it and the fuedal-like society of the Magisterium really bring you into Glenn’s world and help paint the pictures of the two lands in your mind. It’s easy to imagine the forests and towns, and the city. Glenn is an intriguing and interesting main character – her mother walked out on the family when Glenn was young, and her scientist father is often wrapped up in work. Glenn strives to be accepted into a program that will send her into space and the new colony planet. Her best friend is a boy she doesn’t even really like all that much, and her entire life gets turned upside down when her dad is arrested and she and best friend Kevin go on the run and find themselves on the other side of the Rift. She manages to keep a good head about her and takes responsibility when needed. She’s determined and strong and wicked powerful. Because oh yes, the Magisterium has magic it does. And also, can I just say I love Glenn’s full name? Glenora. Very neat.
The moments describing use of Affinity (magic) are wonderful. Vivid, colourful and slightly terrifying. Jeff Hirsch is a master of description. The action present in MAGISTERIUM starts early and just continues until the end. The book moves at a fast pace and is never boring. And while this book is pretty awesome, I do have to say that I was often wondering WHY the Colloquium government wants to invade across the Rift. Obviously to try and harness Affinity, but it just seemed kind of strange. They’re so far advanced technologically, why magic? And Kevin, though the best friend and fairly main character, changes so quickly. While in the Magisterium, Kevin is given memories of some other boy. And he immediately flips personalities. But then kind of flips back? I’m not sure, but it was odd, as was the eventual romance between Glenn and Kevin. Glenn’s mother also comes into play near the middle/end of the book, and I won’t say how because I don’t want to spoil it. Although if you read the book you might be able to guess early on when she’ll show up and how.
MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch ends wide open for potential sequels. I would definitely visit Glenn’s world again, if for nothing more then to get further answers to questions and experience the magic, tech and world that Jeff Hirsch has so wonderfully brought to life. I think this one will definitely be enjoyed by fantasy/sci-fi fans, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone wanting to try the genres. Great world building and a kick-ass female heroine keep the pages turning in this book, and contributes to late nights spent reading.(less)
When it comes to TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz, I have really only three words: Magic....moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
When it comes to TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz, I have really only three words: Magic. Gay. Fish.
I think by this point I’m a Hannah fan for life. I loved the previous two books I’ve read from her and this one was no exception to that love. I will say that this book will most likely not be for everyone, but if you’ve read and liked any of Hannah Moskowitz’s other books or think the synopsis sounds great, then definitely pick it up. Not only is Hannah’s writing amazing, but the characters and plot are wonderful. And guys, when I say the writing is amazing I mean it. The way words and sentences are strung together and flow is beautiful, and you can easily feel the desperation, loneliness, love, friendship and fear that is present in the story. The writing easily lets the characters come alive.
Rudy’s family has moved to a remote island in order to save his sick brother. Why? Because this island is home to a species of fish that has magic properties and can cure any sickness. Rudy hears screams at night that he’s told is just the ocean – but he meets Teeth and realizes that he was hearing screams all along. Rudy jumps off the pages. He’s so smart, loving and caring, both selfless and selfish at the same time, and though he makes lots of good choices he makes some bad ones too. And Teeth – half boy, half fish, Teeth is endearing. He tries so hard to protect the fish from being eaten and likes to pretend things are fine when in reality the fisherman catch him every night and do reprehensible things to him. Honestly, throughout the book I just wanted to give him a hug. He desperately just needs a hug. He’s so innocent but world-weary.
There’s a lot of emotion and depth to this story, with questions of what you would give up or do to keep a loved one safe and what happens when it comes down to family or friends. There are tough situations involving rape, and when to know what’s right or wrong. Teeth has had such a difficult and undeserved life – it’s heartbreaking. The relationships here are all so different as well. It’s interesting to see and explore the dynamics of them. TEETH is an engrossing read and the ending of the book comes quickly and is so resigned and sad. There is a moment that is so abrupt it’s jarring, but fits the situation.
TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz is an impressive, heartbreaking, page-gripping, emotional book. It’s almost hard to place it in a specific genre. I would go with magical contemporary. It is such a showcase of intense important issues twisted with a merman element in Teeth. You will cry with and for these characters and if you’re looking for a perfect happy ending, it’s not to be found. It’s difficult to explain how TEETH reaches out and pulls you in. So many feels to be had in one book and I loved it. (less)
THE UNNATURALISTS by Tiffany Trent is an action packed steampunk with a strong heroine...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
THE UNNATURALISTS by Tiffany Trent is an action packed steampunk with a strong heroine and some pretty fantastic creatures. I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, but I thouroughly enjoyed my trip to New London and it’s interesting mix of Victorian era and modern inventions. I definitely liked the addition of so many mythical creatures and the way they played into the story.
Ok so Vespa Nyx. Our heroine. She is kind of awesome. Vespa loves nothing more than working at her father’s Museum, even though, as a woman, she should be home thinking of marriage and housekeeping and all that Victorian era type stuff that women of good breeding were supposed to think of. But not Vespa! Even when she’s basically forced to leave the museum, she’s still finding ways to explore what she loves – oh, and not get killed for being a witch. Vespa goes through major shifts in her understanding of how her world works and yet doesn’t refuse to adapt to change. She sees the flaws in her society and the harm they’ve been causing and fights to see it fixed so that her world will not disappear. She’s a pretty tough cookie. Vespa can be a bit stubborn and slow to act sometimes, but for a teenager she’s got a decent head on her shoulders.
The novel’s chapters switch between Vespa and Syrus, and where Vespa is learned and fairly well-to-do, living in polite society, Syrus is a young tinker who sees life completely different – where Vespa lives in a technological city, Syrus’ people live on the outskirts and still remember the creatures who are native to the world New London inhabits, and treats them with respect. The manticore, sphinx, sylphids and all many of magical beings. Syrus knows what he needs to do and he does it. No questions, very little hesitation. He’s loyal and brave and if he’s a little foolhardy, well, he is only about thirteen. It’s understandable.
But it’s not just the characters that make THE UNNATURALISTS such a good story – it’s the details and the worldbuilding. New London is vivid in description and the details that make the book steampunk are so neat. Even with all the mythological aspects, that sense of technology is still present in clock work hearts, automatons and trainyards. It’s all blended so seamlessly together, and Tiffany Trent is wonderful at showing, not telling. The background for New London and it’s history is peppered throughout the story with details only being presented when they directly result from something Vespa or Syrus is dealing with or thinking about.
THE UNNATURALISTS by Tiffany Trent explores a world where the Victorian era meets technology meets magic and it’s engrossing. The bad guys are sufficiently creepy, the love interest dashing yet mysterious and the action flows well. The end seems to rush up on you a bit, but the pace is well maintained and all the bits and pieces of the story start to come together to show Vespa, Syrus, and the reader what’s really been going on in New London. THE UNNATURALISTS is a well written story, and completely memorable.(less)
I have mixed feelings about EARTHSEED by Pamela Sargent. I enjoyed the story and main character Zoheret well enough, but there were parts that just di...moreI have mixed feelings about EARTHSEED by Pamela Sargent. I enjoyed the story and main character Zoheret well enough, but there were parts that just did not mesh well with me as the reader. I do have to say that the story holds up well to the test of time and does not seem dated at all (despite being written in 1983, and the rollerblading in the beginning). This review is a little longer than my usual, as I’m going to try and articulate my thoughts as clearly as possible. I may run into a few spoilers though I will try my best not to.
First of all, the concept and idea behind EARTHSEED? Love it. Zoheret and her fellow passengers were all born and raised aboard Ship, an AI spacecraft that is on its way to settle a new planet. Ship was probably my favourite part of the story – the AI is both mother and father to these teens living on board, and tries its best to prepare them for what they will face by settling an unknown world, but to also pass on the history of Earth so that they will remember where they came from, and their mission’s purpose. Even Ship is not perfect, though, and things don’t go completely to plan all the time. Ship is a bit mysterious, too, and you can’t help but wonder if it has hidden commands it is following.
Since this review is quite long, please click on over to Escape Through the Pages to finish reading the full review. I gave EARTHSEED a 2.5 rating.(less)
BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond is an entertaining mystery story that surrounds the legend of...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 rating.
BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond is an entertaining mystery story that surrounds the legend of Roanoke Island. Bond has taken the legend and all the speculation about what really happened and created intriguing characters and backstory to not just fictionally explain the original occurrence, but delve into a modern day repeat of the disappearances.
The main character Miranda has an incredibly mysterious past, considering her family is disliked by almost the entire island, she’s apparently cursed, and she’s not sure why. You’d think she’d know something like that. Miranda’s a likes able enough character, she’s sincere and tough, a lady geek and self-sufficient. But she has crazy ideas about relationships, if you ask me. Phillips, the main boy and love interest, is a nice enough guy. Very sweet and capable in weird situations. But he is the catalyst for Miranda’s school life being crap, and she hasn’t seen him in three years. They get together pretty quickly, disembodied voices, curses and disappearances aside.
The story sets up a nice mystery, not all the details are released at once and there is sufficient suspense to keep you turning the pages and wanting to know what will happen next. Things seem pretty hopeless and desperate until the end (of course), but Miranda and Phillips keep hoping for a good ending, and so does the reader. The addition of the FBI agents who are investigating the disappearances and Miranda’s father in particular are an odd addition, especially since they think Phillips, and Miranda, are to blame (for some weird reason).
BLACKWOOD by Gwenda Bond is a creepy and well-imagined take on the Roanoke mystery, with good writing and an interesting plot. While the were some factors that hindered my overall view of the book (including Miranda’s overuse of the word frak), I still found it an enjoyable read and would recommend it to any fan of historical mysteries and magic. Also, can I just say that I loved the Supernatural references, especially since they did that Croatoan episode? Very cool.(less)
THE 2012 BOOK BLOGGER'S COOKBOOK by Christy Dorrity is such a neat idea. If you follow me on twitter, you know my love for baking, so a cookbook that...moreTHE 2012 BOOK BLOGGER'S COOKBOOK by Christy Dorrity is such a neat idea. If you follow me on twitter, you know my love for baking, so a cookbook that combines my two favourite things – reading and food – is definitely a good thing.
Christy has combined twenty-two young adult/middle grade books with recipes suited for each story. Each recipe consists of a picture of the book cover, synopsis, explanation for the chosen recipe, photo of the finished product and then the recipe itself (ingredients and instructions), and blurbs from book bloggers about the book. The recipes range from meat main dishes, to sweets, breads and even a drink. I will definitely be trying out some of the desserts (like the Beignet Chess Squares associated with Gypsy Knights by Rhett and Lafe Metz and the Wind-Whirled Ice Cream Cake associated with Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon). Unfortunately, no matter how good the meat main dishes look, I won’t be trying them since almost all of them contain a pork product, which I don’t eat. I may be able to substitute chicken or beef, though, and still have them work out. However, if you’re less picky than I am and do eat pork, these recipes sound and look really yummy!
While a cookbook on its own would strike my interest, I really enjoy that the recipes are attached to books. Not only do you get some great food ideas, but new book ideas as well! There are a few books found in THE 2012 BOOK BLOGGER'S COOKBOOK that I have yet to read and they have definitely caught my attention. The blurbs from bloggers really help to get an idea of the books being showcased. Now if only I could get this in hardcopy so I can take it into my kitchen and start baking. I’ve been craving ice cream, so ice cream cake sounds good right about now!
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang is one of those books where you’re not quite sure what...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang is one of those books where you’re not quite sure what to expect and then are completely mesmerized by the depth of detail and emotion present. I was hooked from the beginning by this unique novel, and think you will be too.
Eva and Addie are two souls sharing the same body. Everyone starts this one, but then one soul “settles” and the dominant soul is all that’s left – one soul, one body. But Eva and Addie don’t settle on time, and in fact never quite manage it. Although Addie is dominant and Eva cannot move or speak, Eva’s sill present sharing life with Addie. Though not a true hybrid since Eva cannot come forward and control their body, they are still in danger if anyone finds out as hybrids are feared and quickly taken away when discovered. I found this premise of hybrids and settled souls to be completely intriguing. Though I have to wonder at the hints of history we’re given throughout the book (wars and border closings to hybrids and foreigners), and whether hybrids were once the norm. I also can’t help but wonder if the world in WHAT'S LEFT OF ME is a completely new history for the planet, or whether at some point dual souls were a new occurrence.
The dynamics between Eva and Addie are wonderful, as are those between Hally and Lissa and Ryan and Devon, a brother and sister (brothers and sisters?) who never settled and who try to help Eva become more present in her own body. Rather than become jealous or angry at the sister/brother soul the two souls sharing one body work together and get along well. That’s not to say there are never any moments of anger, jealousy or petty upsets but what siblings don’t fight? The relationships between two souls are well realized and very natural. I enjoyed seeing the bit of romance blossom between Ryan and Eva and the questions it brings up for Devon and Addie. The two souls are as unique as if they each had their own body – how would it feel to have your body kissing someone you didn’t have romantic feelings for? It’s an interesting dilemma and I hope it’s explored more in the sequels. This first book was more about establishing the world and characters, and the major action for the series. After Addie/Eva, Devon/Ryan and Hally/Lissa are taken to a facility to deal with hybrids, the tension skyrockets and the actions begins in earnest.
Eva and Addie compliment each other so well, and you really see that in the facility. Eva is completely nurturing and cares for the other children though they’ve just met, while Addie – though she cares as well – is a bit more practical and tries to be the voice of reason. But she doesn’t hinder Eva when Eva is trying to save others or themselves. Eva will also often stop and listen to Addie and they work together for their benefit. The doctors and board members are shadowy, creepy figures (though there is of course the one that seems to have a different agenda, and you aren’t sure whether they can be trusted or not) and the more information on the intention behind the facility comes to light, the more Eva and Addie’s world is terrifying. The questions dealt with about souls, surgery and separation are mind-boggling in a good way, and I’m so curious to see where this series goes.
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang is an intense debut. With masterful characterization, Kat Zhang is developing a world where the question of what a soul is and how does it interact with the body could lead to terrifying, incredible things for Eva, Addie and their world. While the beginning of the book is a bit slower as it sets up the premise for the novel and provides necessary background information, the action does pick up in the last two thirds of the book with some intense moments and heartbreaking revelations. Definitely a solid, engaging story that will have you wanting to cry, cheer and see the hope in amongst moments that seem hopeless.(less)
CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS by Miriam Forster had me happily entranced from page one....moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS by Miriam Forster had me happily entranced from page one. The quickest way to my bookish heart is to write a story that takes place in a complete fantasy world (though with hints of the familiar from our own world, which was neat) so CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS was wonderful imagination-sparking brain-food. Only thing to make it better would have been a map of the City! The Dramatis Personae was nice to have, though, especially since I referred to it more than once just to make sure I had all the names straight.
Right away, the reader is swept up in main character Nisha’s mysterious past and ability to talk to the cats roaming the grounds of the city. We get a good sense of what the city is like, and who Nisha is (as well as her love interest) before dropped right into the murder mystery aspect of the plot. Nisha – independent, capable, calm, scared and strong Nisha – is slowly swept up in trying to solve the murders in an effort not just to save more girls from dieing, but to save herself from being sold. Yupp, being sold. The City of a Thousand Dolls takes in orphan girls and basically (very basically. The book has MUCH more detail on this caste system) “sells” them. Usually as brides, but sometimes to apprenticeships and even bondage (slavery) if they owe a debt. They can be groomed for any caste, and can I just say I loved this world? I was completely intrigued by the history, caste system, the way the City functions and the court intrigue that is slowly spilling into the City.
Nisha has a rough time a head of her solving the murders (and it’s one of those books where you think you might know who the murderer is, but there are very few clues, just feelings, and you hope you’re wrong!), but she has the cats to help (love Jerrit, and holy revelations at the end!), and the will to succeed. The romance found in CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS is very minor, and secondary to the story of Nisha and the City. The intrigue, suspense, fear and worry that spans the novel is amazingly well presented, and I adored the twists and turns that the plot took in regards to where Nisha came from, who’s killing the girls, and what is in store for Nisha after the Redeeming (a ceremony where the girls 16 years old basically are spoken for and money is exchanged).
CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS by Miriam Forster is an amazing debut novel. The scenes att he end are so crazy good – I loved the Court, Redeeming and wrap up of the mystery. Emotional and beautifully written, CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS is so much more than a murder mystery. It explores what it means to have a sense of identity (where you belong and where you come from), friendship, loyalty and what someone will do to keep what they think they is theirs. Miriam Forster has written a richly realized fantasy novel and I definitely recommend it!(less)
Maggie Stiefvater has done it again with THE RAVEN BOYS and completely drawn me in...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Maggie Stiefvater has done it again with THE RAVEN BOYS and completely drawn me in to this amazing world of magic, psychics, boarding school boys and a sleeping Welsh king. And orange cars. We can’t forget the orange car! Despite owning a physical copy of the book, I listened to the audiobook (offered by audiobooksync this summer as a free download) and I loved it. Bill Patton is the narrator and he does an amazing job.
Blue comes from a family of psychics, but she isn’t one. Rather, she helps amplify their own seeing abilities. After seeing her first spirit on Saint Mark’s Eve (a person who will die in the next year), Blue finds herself swept up in a mystery involving four boys (Gansey, Adam, Noah and Ronan) from the local private school, an old murder, a sleeping Welsh king who Gansey is determined to find, an aunt visiting from out of town, magic and sacrifices. The book alternates points of view between Blue, Gansey, Adam and a teacher, Whelk. Through their eyes we see the mystery unfold. Blue and Gansey have the most screen time, and I loved their voices. Blue is a girl comfortable in her own skin. She knows who she is and is self-assured and intelligent, if still a bit unsure of her future at times and seems a little lost every now and then. Gansey is supremely confident and while he comes across as arrogant sometimes, he’s really not. Their first meeting is an awesome scene and I couldn’t help chuckling at it – since you as the reader know more about how tied together Gansey and Blue will be in the near future.
Outside of some awesome characterization – each of our Raven Boys and Blue are extremely well developed. It is easy to see them and get into their voices and histories – the plot in THE RAVEN BOYS is pretty wonderful. There’s this potential for a love triangle that stays up in the air so you don’t even know if any of them will get together, but it works and is perfect for the plot. There are some crazy twists that I did not see coming, at all, but in hindsight I want to facepalm because I should have. It’s one of those deals where the clues for the twists are so subtly hidden throughout the text that when everything finally does come together and get revealed you’re like “holy crap!” followed by “oohhhhh.” There is also some set up for the next book that gets thrown at you at the ending and just leaves your jaw dropped and you scrambling for the sequel – but it’s not out yet!
I was enthralled with THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater from the get go. The matter-of-fact way that psychics and magic are incorporated into the world is wonderful, and the characters are all so well written. The mystery, will-it-be/won’t-it-be romance, threat of future happenings, crazy twists and reveals, and even some emotional upheaval for a character dealing with abuse all contribute to a nicely paced, engaging, hold-your-breath plot – that, while it does wrap up in the end, also dive bombs right into the next book and leaves you wanting more. I greatly enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s writing and highly recommend THE RAVEN BOYS!(less)
THE PACK: RETRIBUTION by LM Preston is the follow up story to The Pack and ex...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 2.5 out of 5 rating.
THE PACK: RETRIBUTION by LM Preston is the follow up story to The Pack and explores Shamira, Valens and the rest of the group as they try to stop yet another conspiracy on Mars while hoping to make it through the Security Force Elites and graduate from cadets.
The book starts right off with the action, with a fire fight in the first chapter and many more following as the story continues. Shamira and the others are questioned about the shooting, and proceed to try and figure out who could be gunning for them (pun totally intended). Besides fire fights, there are some good old fashioned hand-to-hand fights, chases, explosions, computer hacking and the seedy drug underworld of Mars to contend with. Honestly, it exhausted me just reading it all. There was hardly a moment where the characters had time to just exist and breathe. The story does have a really good mystery and some wonderful suspense built up, leaving little clues along the way for the reader to decipher and put together.
While Shamira gets a bit more character exploration and depth in this second book, I still just don’t click with her. And her group of friends? Very little character development outside of how loyal they all are to each other, and how much Valens is in love with Shamira. I still enjoy the society and technology found in LM Preston’s future Mars and Earth, even though a lot of the technology was created very fast and produced some often un-believable results (and Valens has to be a genius of epic proportions to create all the tech that he does). The language and writing is a bit awkward in places with sentences that seem too abrupt, others too convoluted and a mix of swearing next to censured swears (bastard in one sentence, crud in the next), and just some different phrasing and choice of words.
Despite my quibbles with parts of the book, I do have to admit that THE PACK: RETRIBUTION by LM Preston kept me reading to find out how the twists and turns are revealed and the explanations behind why Shamira, her group of friends and her family are being targeted for death. Picking up the story not too long after the first book left off, readers can look forward to a fast-paced, shoot-em-up ride through the streets of Mars, and even some romantic hiccups as Shamira comes to gripes with her relationship with Valens. Fans of The Pack should definitely enjoy this sequel.(less)
SON by Lois Lowry is the final book in the series that started with The Giver and I...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
SON by Lois Lowry is the final book in the series that started with The Giver and I am full of all kinds of feelings. I finished the book, and had to do that big happy/sad sigh where you clutch the book close and then proceed to rave about it to anyone close by. It’s no secret that The Giver is one of my favourite books, and I couldn’t be happier with the conclusion to the story. SON delivers everything and more. Since the story is written in three parts, this review will also be in three parts, a little differently than the way I usually do things.
First up, the beginning. Claire. When Claire was twelve, she was chosen as Birth Mother. Now giving birth to her first “product”, something doesn’t go as planned and Claire is returned to the main Community. It’s as this first section progresses that we realize Claire is little baby Gabe’s mother. I was ecstatic to see parts of Jonas’ story in The Giver from a different point of view. Claire’s observations and feelings help bring back everything from that first book, and even though Claire never mentions his name, we know that the Caretaker for baby Gabe is Jonas’ dad even before he tells Claire his son’s name. And Claire – she’s wonderful. So confused by everything she’s feeling, and all that’s happening to her now, she is still quietly rebelling against the rules of her Community, defying everything she knows for this new feeling – love. Though only around fourteen years old, Claire is so strong and intelligent. When she realizes Gabe is gone, she doesn’t hesitate to leave. Lois Lowry’s writing in this section is wonderful. You really get a clear sense of Claire’s desperation, fear, longing and love.
During the second section, when Claire has escape the community, we get a sense of books two and three, Gathering Blue and Messenger. A different community, new rules, new beliefs. Claire’s experiences in this village really help showcase and outline what was missing from Claire’s Community. Any of those subtle details you may have missed when reading The Giver – like the lack of colour, different weather, feelings and animals – are mentioned and wondered at. Claire does a lot of growing and maturing during this period and proves that a mother’s love knows no bounds. She’ll do anything to get Gabe back, even make a deal with a devil.
Part three is my favourite. It’s all Gabe. I loved seeing Jonas and Kira again, and getting to experience a grown up Gabe. This section really fills in the missing links and final pieces of the puzzle. While The Giver was an unsettling book due to the dystopian nature of the Community, Gathering Blue and Messenger slowly added in the elements of good vs. evil that SON embraces and runs with. Gabe has a huge part to play in ridding his village of ultimate evil in the form of the Trademaster – the man that Claire made the deal with to find her missing son. I had good goosebumps when reading about Claire and Jonas talking and reminiscing; no one else knows of their Community and understands what they dealt with there. Claire and Gabe meeting was tear inducing, and Gabe’s conviction to fight evil and know his mother heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. His battle is maybe not the most epic of fights, but it is so important, and Lois Lowry really knows how to convey emotion and detail in such a way that you are transfixed and absorbed by the story.
SON by Lois Lowry is beautifully written and realized – reading it was like visiting an old friend. Ultimately about the love of a mother for a son, and a son for a mother, SON tackles that age old problem of good vs. evil, and how far we’d go to protect those we love most. There’s a scene and line at the end of the book that had me smiling through tears, and it’s a perfect end to the story. An ultimately happy ending, all those loose threads and questions from the previous books have been gathered and answered as much as they possibly can. Anything left to wonder about will have to be satisfied by the reader’s own imagination. (less)
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury is one of those books that you can’t, and don’t want to, put...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury is one of those books that you can’t, and don’t want to, put down. There are so many secrets and questions, you just need to keep reading to find out what’s happening as quick as possible. The suspense until then is crazy.
Pia has grown up in a secret compound (Little Cam) in the middle of the rainforest, the only child amongst a group of scientists. But she’s not a normal teenager – Pia is immortal. And though she thinks she may know the end aims of the scientists who live in the compound, there are secrets to be had and more going on behind closed doors than she ever wanted to know. Pia is such a good character – I was drawn in to her story completely, and though she is at times very naive and unreasonable, this is how she was raised. Pia knows nothing of the outside world until she finds a hole in the fence surrounding Little Cam and ventures out into the rainforest for the first time in her seventeen years. Despite how sheltered and rigid her upbringing was, Pia still has a sense of exploration and wonder about her, as well as a wonderful moral compass. And despite some moments where she seems to be caving in to the scientific community that surrounds her, she manages to grow a pair near the end and the results are awesome.
The secondary characters, including Eio (the love interest), are well developed for all that we only see them through Pia’s eyes. And I have to say, this is one book where I didn’t mind the insta-love! Eio IS the only boy Pia’s ever met, after all, and he’s sensitive, daring, kind and intelligent. It makes sense that she’d be enamoured with him, and by reading the book from Pia’s point of view, it’s easy to see why Eio falls for her – she seems to defy everything you would expect of her given her past and predicted future of leader of a group of immortals.
The descriptions of the rainforest are absolutely beautiful, and I really enjoyed the details of the local tribe that Eio belongs to and the daily activities within Little Cam. Pia’s whole journey through questioning everything she has ever known is so well played out and thoughtful, and though you can kind of guess some of the big secrets hiding at Little Cam, the truth at the end is still shocking. While the science behind Pia’s immortality is interesting, I wasn’t surprised to see that Jessica Khoury threw a little bit of the magical and mystical into her explanations for certain things rather than rely completely on a scientific explanation.
ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury is a wholly original debut that will keep readers glued to the pages. While I wasn’t, and still am not, sure WHY the scientists at Little Cam and the corporation they work for want to create immortals since they themselves cannot become immortal (unless they hope to find a way…?), I was still drawn into Pia’s story; her ventures into love and life, and the mysteries behind Little Cam and her creation are completely entertaining and at times heartbreaking. ORIGIN is definitely worth picking up, and I can’t wait to see what Jessica Khoury comes out with next!(less)
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards is one of those books that drags you into a world...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards is one of those books that drags you into a world and doesn’t let you go until you’ve turned the last page – and even then, you’re wishing for the sequel right now.
BLACK CITY is told through a dual point of view – our main characters Natalie and Ash, a human and a Darkling (think interesting type of vampire). This really allows you to get a good feel for both characters, but I have to admit, Ash’s chapters were my favourite. Ash is that mysterious bad boy who’s smart, kind, but can be quick to anger and oh yes, is a drug dealer (mind you, he doesn’t do it for kicks. He needs the money for himself and his father to buy food, clothes, etc.). Natalie on the other hand is independent, fairly level headed and strong, a bit prone to jealousy, but loves fiercely and will do what’s right. Ash and Natalie have this forbidden-love going on. And while I rate the book an overall 5, because I did love it and couldn’t put it down, Natalie and Ash’s romance is probably the only blip in the experience. At the beginning, it’s wonderful. No insta-love, but an insta-crush (which is fine by me!) and they snark, fight, get butterflies, all that good stuff. Until halfway through the book – boom. Blood mates. Meant-to-be! So yes, kind of wishing Elizabeth Richards had kept to the “it’s my choice” relationship, but she did manage to mesh the two concepts well in the end. Especially after a huge twist!
The beginning of the book drops the reader right into this gritty world of Black City, and the drama/horrors just continue: drugs, genocide, torture, murder, poverty, experimentation…war. The world’s history is sprinkled throughout the narrative rather than in huge info dumps, which is wonderful. I don’t need to know every little bit of backstory in order to be involved and enjoy the plot and characters. BLACK CITY is not a sunshine and puppies love story. The world that Ash and Natalie live in is pretty bleak. Ash’s people, the Darklings (he’s half) are kept segregated behind a wall, in a Ghetto. The head of their government and church rules with an iron fist as a dictator – dissenters and law breakers are not just executed, they’re crucified, and his word is law. The corruption and fear running through Black City, the government and the history of BLACK CITY‘s world is staggering. The end of the book is heartbreaking and the scenes are intense.
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards is a captivating debut novel. Parallels to real world history are present in the events that are taking place and it’s crushing. There are so many glimpses of hope and future happiness only to have them overshadowed by the despair of the living conditions in Black City and the knowledge that the Darklings are still, and all-too likely will remain, segregated. With amazing descriptions, vivid imagery and emotion and characters that you can’t help but root for, BLACK CITY is a promising start to a series, and I am highly anticipating the sequel!(less)