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)
What to say about FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes. I don’t know if it’s because I used to exclusively read high fantasy, but I had expectations goin...moreWhat to say about FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes. I don’t know if it’s because I used to exclusively read high fantasy, but I had expectations going into this book and they were just not met. I’m going to try and break this down without getting too spoilery and explain what I liked, what I didn’t and how I felt turning the last page.
Honestly, the beginning and the end are the best parts of the novel. Right away as the book opens, we have intrigue, betrayal, magic and the promise of more to come. This is followed quickly by a murder that starts a young man on a quest for vengeance and you just know is going to lead to bigger issues. All promising, all interesting – but then I started getting that little crease in my forehead as I continue reading showing I’m troubled.
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)
CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr is a breathtaking whirlwind of a ride through an ama...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 4.5 rating.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr is a breathtaking whirlwind of a ride through an amazing world full of daimons and witches and the most unique City and Carnival around.
Guys, I was completely entranced by CARNIVAL OF SOULS. The world building is fantastic. The City, where the Daimons live after having kicked out all witches to the human world after a bloody war – the only witches still found in the City are slaves to Daimon masters – is crazy realistic. The descriptions of The City and Carnival of Souls (where anything is for sale and they fight to the death in a tournament) leap off the pages and really make you feel like you’re there. The Carnival showcases the brutal yet sensual aspect of the Daimons world, and it’s that more than anything that makes it so foreign and interesting. I mean, murder is basically legal and expected. Craziness.
There are three main character point of views that really give a rounded look at the caste system and dynamics of the world Melissa Marr has developed. Mallory, who, despite being kind of the main character is my least favourite, lives in the human world with her adoptive father, who’s a witch – and she’s a Daimon (but doesn’t know it). I had a hard time getting a grasp of Mallory. She’s loyal to her dad and not afraid to go after what she wants, but I feel we didn’t see enough of her to really get who she is. Kaleb is my favourite. A contender in the tournament taking place in the Carnival, Kaleb is an assassin for hire. He’s so loyal to his pack (I adore Zevi, his pack mate, or family). He’s strong, smart and goes for what he wants. Aya, the third point of view, is an intensely independent female, the only high caste female Daimon in the fights, and she is wicked. Determined, ruthless, but caring and willing to get help when needed. She also has more secrets than I can count, and those secrets – plus some secrets from Kaleb – really propel the storyline into a shocking ending.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr is an action-packed journey through a strange new world, with magic, bloody fights, and some nice quiet moments that balance out the more intense periods. Each character twists their own plot line into the overall story creating glimpse into the big picture that will continue into the second book. Everything just meshes so well together, and the details blew me away. Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a unique, page turning read.(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)
ADAPTATION by Malinda Lo is an interesting young adult science fiction story that g...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
ADAPTATION by Malinda Lo is an interesting young adult science fiction story that gives the reader not just aliens, but Area 51, conspiracies, genetics and one hell of a cliffhanger!
Reese and David are away on a school debate club trip when birds start going crazy and randomly dying, falling out of the air and even into planes, crashing quite a few throughout the United States and Canada. Grounded, the teacher chaperone rents a car and begins their long drive home to San Francisco – and that’s where the action begins. With the bird strikes bringing down planes, the government blocking off areas of cities, lots of questions and no answers, people have begun to panic a bit. There’s an attempted car theft, a shooting, more dead birds and a horrific car accident all within the first bit of the book. But then it slows. And there is a lot of speculation on what happened to Reese and David in the car accident, talking about what’s happening with the birds, Reese has some funky dreams and falls in like with Amber, a girl who literally runs into her one day and has questionable loyalties and aims, Reese does some painting, and then not much more action until the end which leads up to a crazy cliffhanger just when it was getting intense.
Most of the middle of the book actually focuses on Reese and Amber’s growing relationship, Reese’s questions about her sexuality, and the crazy yellow and red room Reese keeps seeing in her dreams that she feels means more than she can remember. After the car accident, she and David were treated at a military hospital and are forbidden to speak of it to anyone else. So of course you know some crazyness had to have gone down while they were there (think genetics). There are plenty of secrets to be had in ADAPTATION, and the revelations about some of them are really well timed and explored. There is quite a good conspiracy going on throughout the story and the sci-fi elements are wicked. I would have liked to see more aliens rather than the insides of military complexes and hospital rooms, but I feel the aliens may play a bigger roll in the sequel. Reese is an interesting character and I enjoyed getting to know her – her voice is very clear throughout the story, as are descriptions, explanations and emotions (especially emotions!)
ADAPTATION by Malinda Lo may be a bit of a quieter sci-fi than I generally enjoy, but there were enough elements that kept me guessing, wondering and frustratingly wanting to strangle government people that I zipped through the book at a good pace and stayed entertained while reading. The rather abrupt end leaves the reader hanging for the sequel, and while that can sometimes backfire, in this case I am just eager to get my hands on book two so I can find out what happens with Reese, David and the aliens! Because guys, aliens. How can you not want to know how the story continues?(less)
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)
THE INFECTS by Sean Beaudoin is one of the more interesting takes on the zombie apo...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE INFECTS by Sean Beaudoin is one of the more interesting takes on the zombie apocalypse that I’ve read lately. It definitely has the most unique beginnings to the outbreak that I’ve read yet!
Nick is your fairly normal teen – until sent to a camp for juvenile delinquents he worked at a chicken processing plant and looked after his eccentric father and Autistic sister. Even the Inward Trek starts out as a normal event in his life…until his fellow delinquents begin eating the others. Yupp, that puts a damper on everything. Nick is hard to get a grasp on, mostly because he has this voice in his head that sounds like the rock and you’re never quite sure if it’s Nick’s own ideas or the voice in his head that leads him to do everything he does throughout the course of the book. Most of the other characters are reminiscent of the “red shirts” of Star Trek fame, except for a few key plays – Swann, Petal and Estrada. Estrada because he lives, Petal because Nick’s is fairly in love with her, and Swann because she basically is the catalyst for the action that happens.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing in the book, but it began to grow on me after a while and was not a huge detractor to the story. There are a few scenes that had me fairly confused, though by the end they seem to make a bit more sense once everything that’s been going on has been explained (some scenes were still confusing, though, like a scene with Nick at a bar in this house they found to take shelter in. I still don’t know what that was about). I did find it a little weird that the outbreak managed to stay contained and none of the surrounding towns seemed to notice what had gone on. But, the zombies are sufficiently gruesome, the action scenes with the teens being chased by zombies, zombies eating people and the end with the army are amazingly detailed and bloody, and the concept is really intriguing. I liked the details near the end that had Nick and the other survivors, and some non-survivors, questioning everything about the outbreak, and if they were really zombies or something else. The whole conspiracy/experiment that is exposed is awesome.
THE INFECTS by Sean Beaudoin is not just an intense zombie outbreak novel. With quite a bit of humour and a little bit of crazy, the story manages to be entertaining from beginning to end. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing, and at times I found the story confusing, I really enjoyed the zombies, their cause and Nick’s own special brand of loopy. Also, the book manages to answers the question of why there’s a chicken on the cover, and I totally called it way in the beginning. I love when that happens.(less)
EVERY DAY by David Levithan is so beautiful. I was unsure how he would pull off the...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
EVERY DAY by David Levithan is so beautiful. I was unsure how he would pull off the idea of a soul that has no body of its own but instead spends every day since its conception in a different body, borrowing a persons life for a day and then moving on, but I loved it and David Levithan did such an amazing job with this book.
Before I get into the review, I want to note that I will be using the pronoun ‘he’ for the main character A, purely because the love interest Rhiannon prefers males, and so is more comfortable with A when A is in a male body.
A is such an complex and interesting character. Growing up without a body of his own, A has the refreshing whole hearted belief that gender, race, orientation, abilities, etc. don’t matter – and he is so right. A has been in the bodies of men and women who have all kinds of unique characteristics, from blindness, crippling depression, all encompassing faith and more. A has seen is all, and been it all. And yet at times I still found A to be stubborn, a bit naive when it comes to relationships (understandable, since he has had no permanent relationships) and intense. But A is a good person. Just think of the damage he could do to a persons life if he was any less a good, honest, caring individual. The two main supporting characters, Rhiannon, A’s love interest and Nathan, a boy who A was for a day and who comes forward about his experience, are wonderfully fleshed out and relatable even with less screen time and being seen through A’s eyes.
Though it would have been nice to see more about how A is the way he is, and if there are many others out there like him, the story was about A’s revelations about his life after meeting and falling in love with Rhiannon. By the end of the book, I had been in tears two different times thanks to Levithan’s lyrical writing and the ideas that were being portrayed. To know that only one person in the world knows who you really are and that you even exist is heartbreaking. It has to be such a lonely existence, and yet this is A’s life – never forming attachments, having belongings or a family of his own. All he has are memories. While I think it would be amazing to experience so many aspects of human life, I see it being incredibly difficult and tiring.
EVERY DAY by David Levithan is one of those books that make you appreciate what you have, and makes you really think about the way you experience life around you and view the people you interact with. Would you be as strong as A in his convictions to not harm the lives of the people he inhabits for a day? Would you be as open to all realms of human life and love as A? I was completely swept away in EVERY DAY, and it is easily my favorite book so far this year. If you want poetic, gorgeous writing in a character focused book with just a hint of mystery and a love story? Than pick up EVERY DAY. It’s beautiful.
“I no longer think she’s just being nice. She’s being kind. Which is much more a sign of character than mere niceness. Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen.” - page 56, ARC(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)
THE DEAD I KNOW by Scot Gardner was not what I was expecting, and that’s completely...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE DEAD I KNOW by Scot Gardner was not what I was expecting, and that’s completely okay! A book more character driven than focused on action, THE DEAD I KNOW was hard to put down, despite being a bit of a quieter book.
Aaron has started work at a funeral home, apprenticing to the funeral director John Barton. The beginning of the story details the beginning of his job, the dead that Aaron goes with John Barton to pick up, and glimpses of John’s family. Aaron is incredibly difficult to grasp, and yet not, at the same time. He rarely speaks to others, and seems very timid. He’s remarkably comfortable with the dead, but has trouble being around the mourners. As the story continues we get glimpses into Aaron’s problems with sleepwalking and the nightmares that are causing it. John Barton and his family, including daughter Skye (who, despite being a kid, I found incredibly annoying. A little bit endearing, she really appeared to help Aaron and some information comes to light that explains a bit about the way she is, but still annoying), draw Aaron out of his shell and discover the cause of his night time escapades.
Scot Gardner’s writing style and character voice is descriptive, a tad abrupt and just very…different, than what I’m used to. It was jarring in the beginning but by the end of the story you can see how well it fits the narrative and just works with the premise of the novel. The mystery behind Aaron’s sleepwalking is handled really well. It takes the course of the book to discover the reasons, with glimpses and hints throughout the story that eventually combine into Aaron’s backstory.
THE DEAD I KNOW by Scot Gardner is a quiet, intense look into the psyche of the main character, and despite the lack of huge action or complex secrets, the story draws you in and gets you thinking. One quote I really loved is found on page 92 of the paperback and showcases a bit of Aaron’s character:
“The police protected the living, ambulance officers protected the injured and we protected the dead. All as it should be.”(less)
FAIR COIN by E. C. Myers is a novel with a beautifully unique concept and execution...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
FAIR COIN by E. C. Myers is a novel with a beautifully unique concept and execution of the idea. An at-first seemingly simple premise (magic coin!) becomes increasingly complex and so much more than it appears.
The world building in FAIR COIN is interesting in that E. C. Myers takes the world we know, and with each wish gets to change it slightly. At first the differences are small, hardly noticeable. But when Ephraim’s wishes get larger and he starts bringing friends along, the world as he knows it begins to change in larger, more obvious ways until he experiences everything from a dystopian like world, to an untouched paradise. The descriptions of the settings, people and emotions are very vivid and draw you into the story completely. Ephraim is an engaging and intriguing main character. He’s got the best of intentions, but starts off fairly selfish and uses the coin for his own gain. I give him props for trying to set things right once he figures out what’s really going on, even if it will mean he’s screwed over. Ephraim’s a nice guy, who’s all teenager. Nathan, on the hand, is rotten. Well, most of the time. It’s hard to explain when I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Just know that it’s fine to dislike Nathan – he’s written that way.
The explanation for the coin is easy to follow, but not overly simple. The results of the wishes and how Ephraim tries to fix things is very much like time travel is for me – it made my brain hurt a little bit trying to keep it all straight. But unlike time travel, I was able to keep everything in a coherent order and figure out what was going on. FAIR COIN by E. C. Myers is an engaging, and often thought-provoking novel. I don’t know if I would have been half as competent as Ephraim at getting things back to normal, and I don’t know that I wouldn’t have gone wish crazy as well. I’m excited for the sequel to see where E. C. Myers takes his characters and world. Oh, and I thought I’d leave you with this amazing quote from page 87, said by Ephraim’s mother:
“When you give someone a book, it’s like saying: ‘I’m trusting you with something that means a lot to me.’ It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, though it helps if you do. What matters is that you understand why she likes it. Why she gave it to you.”(less)
DEVINE INTERVENTION by Martha Brockenbrough is a touching story about life after de...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
DEVINE INTERVENTION by Martha Brockenbrough is a touching story about life after death and living your life to the fullest. With memorable characters, engaging writing and a well-developed plot, DEVINE INTERVENTION is a very enjoyable read.
Heidi has always heard the voice speak to her. Assumed to be an imaginary friend (but Heidi knows it’s something more, it has to be) Heidi gets the surprise of her life when she finally meets Jerome – the voice in her head. Heidi and Jerome are great characters. Jerome is Heidi’s guardian angel. He’s a teen going through soul-rehab, assigned to watch over Heidi and earn his way into Heaven (or not). Jerome is the type of guardian angel that has misplaced his handbook, breaks all the commandments for the dead (albeit unknowingly, since he didn’t read the handbook), and though he’s a bit of a screw-up, he’s loveable and smart, fun and kind. He’s had a bad go of things and Heidi’s good for him. Heidi herself goes through a lot of self-discovery over the course of the novel. She’s a loyal friend, artistic, a bit shy and very unsure of herself at times. Everything that happens to her helps her see the person she can be, and wants to be. She realizes she’s a tough cookie and to stand up for herself.
DEVINE INTERVENTION on the surface is a light read about a guardian angel in soul-rehab trying to help guide and protect a living soul and the hijinks that can occur. But those hijinks are pretty dire, and they have consequences. I really liked the depth that Martha Brockenbrough inserted into the story when dealing with Jerome’s life, death and family, and how things are not always how we see them. Heidi’s journey, too, is quite profound when you really think about it. I find it refreshing how this depth of emotion and funny-sarcastic humour from Jerome interact and mesh to create a well-rounded story. Another aspect of the novel I found really neat were the passages from Jerome’s handbook, detailing the commandments for the dead and the living. It was interesting to see a new commandment and discover that it ties in to what the characters are going through in the following chapter.
I would have liked a few more details about heaven and the system set up for the souls in rehab, since our only information is seen through Jerome and he’s not the most observant at times, and the ending seemed a bit quick and confusing once Heidi and Jerome’s point of views line up and share chapter space. Overall, though, DEVINE INTERVENTION by Martha Brockenbrough is a great debut novel that encompasses a wide range of emotion and character growth. It’s not quite what I was expecting in the best of ways, and I will definitely be looking for more from Martha Brockenbrough!(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)
DEMON EYES by Scott Tracey, the second book in the Witch Eyes series, thrusts readers...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with a 3.5 rating.
DEMON EYES by Scott Tracey, the second book in the Witch Eyes series, thrusts readers right back into Braden’s story with immediate creepy happenings, mystery and intrigue.
While Braden is still recovering from the happenings in WITCH EYES, new developments are arising in Belle Dam that aren’t looking so good for our main characters. Girls are disappearing and there are hints that the demon Lucien may not be as dead as we’d all hoped. Over the course of the book Braden showcases the beginnings of a personality change, but who wouldn’t start to think and act differently when dealing with things that can kill you and a debilitating power – also the uncertainty that is his relationship with Trey (at one point, in amongst them not being together, they end up making out in a closet. I’m sure I found it more hilarious than it was meant to be). And Jason, Braden’s father? I can understand why Braden gets so frustrated and annoyed at him sometimes – he is quite aggravating at times, though I can’t help thinking there’s more to the feud between the Lansings and the Thorpes than Braden is being told. Also, I’m curious how Drew plays into everything. He has to have some more backstory than what has been revealed so far.
I thought I would spend most of this second book still being a bit confused about the witches and the town (do Trey and Jade have powers? People in the town seem to know about the feud, but do they know about witches?), but questions are definitely answered in DEMON EYES that start to clear up some questions for both Braden and the reader! But despite all the answers revealed, more questions just keep coming, things get more mysterious than ever before and honestly, you can’t trust anyone in this town. I’m surprised everyone’s not paranoid about everything and everyone else – I would be. There is a good pace set throughout the book, not too much investigating or too much constant action. The best action is the ending, and there are some great revelations about Grace (the witch who had the Witch Eyes before Braden and large part of the town’s history and founding).
While I found a few plot threads to be a bit hard to follow since there is quite a lot going on and not all the information we need has been presented yet, that’s also a bit of a good thing? There are still lots of loose ends to tie up in the third book, and a cliffhangery ending to lead right into it. DEMON EYES by Scott Tracey is a solid second book in the series. It shows Braden becoming more aggressive in his search for what’s been happening with the feud, in Belle Dam and what’s going on with his Witch Eyes, steps up the plot twists and turns and even has some angsty romance going on. I’m curious to see where the third book takes us.(less)
I love zombie books, I loved the first Benny Imura book, and I loved DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry. In this second book, Benny, Tom, Nix and Li...moreI love zombie books, I loved the first Benny Imura book, and I loved DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry. In this second book, Benny, Tom, Nix and Lilah are headed out in search of the jet they saw during their first venture into the great Rot & Ruin. Of course, everything that could possibly goes wrong does, but what else do you expect in a zombie apocalypse?
I continue to like Benny’s character. He’s so torn about actually leaving his home and safety, and following Tom, Nix, and Lilah in search of the jet. He defines the definition of brave for me in that he’s facing something he’s afraid of and not taking the easy way out. He’s following his family, and gaining a new maturity through every trial that they face. That being said, he can make some pretty bad choices, but he always cleans up his messes and soldiers through with a ton of heart. Tom, his older brother, is swoonworthy. A gentleman, fighter, protector, kind and brave and strong. He looks after Benny and his friends so well. And Nix needs it, too. She’s kind of losing it a little after everything she’s been through. The action scenes are intense and suspenseful and oh man, the hoard. Zombies are coming, and Benny and his friends really need to avoid them. I swear, their close calls are going to give me heart attacks.
I know I’m invested when I actively dislike a character, or in this series’ case, characters. Charlie Pink-Eye’s family had me cringing and despairing for our main characters, and I’m worried we haven’t seen the last of them yet. And the zombies! Nothing is ever easy, and of course things need to be changing. New behaviours are appearing and it has me a little worried for where things will go for Benny and the group in book three. How will they handle the unknown? The zombies and the way Jonathan Maberry doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff is what makes me love this series. One thing I have noticed is the sympathy that is often written for the zoms that comes through from Benny’s perspective, and it’s nice to see it reiterated that these zombies were once living, breathing, feeling people, and that not much is known about them now. Do they still feel emotions or physical sensation? What is like for the zombie? And oh, the ending. To have it so right there that there are few fully happy endings in a world after a zombie apocalypse. DUST & DECAY has some heart-wrenching events, and despite how much I disliked them and wished they could be undone, I respect that they happened.
I cannot wait to see how Benny’s journey through the Rot and Ruin goes, and how Nix, Lilah, Chong and Benny grow as characters and how they’ll handle getting further and further from home and venturing into the unknown.
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)
THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa is a wonderful conclusion to Meghan’s point of view...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa is a wonderful conclusion to Meghan’s point of view in The Iron Fey series. Everything is coming to a head, and Meghan has some tough choices to make.
Meghan and Ash have been banished from the Nevernever, but it doesn’t last very long. The Iron Fey are still encroaching into Summer and Winter territory, and Meghan knows she’ll need to venture into the Iron lands in order to defeat them. With Ash and Puck by her side, the battle is on, and it’s going to change everything Meghan knows. I have to say the battle scenes in this third book are nothing short of awesome. I loved getting to see some actual fighting between the Summer, Winter and Iron fey with Meghan getting right in there and “saving the day” if you will. There are some wonderful moments, too, with Ash after he’s Knighted. He and Meghan really know how to bring the angst and you can’t help but feel for them.
Julie Kagawa’s writing flows well and is easy to lose yourself in. The emotion of the characters comes through loud and clear, and the story never lags. I have to admit I found the plot line with Meghan’s dad a bit random, and I was never a huge fan of Grim – he just shows up to get Meghan where she needs to go, really. It would have been nice to see more of him. THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa leave Meghan’s point of view with an intense decision and ending, and I’m excited to see Ash in THE IRON KNIGHT next.(less)
Besides being a Maggie Stiefvater book, the huge draw for me with THE SCORPIO RACES...moreOriginally posted at Escape Through the Pages with the same rating.
Besides being a Maggie Stiefvater book, the huge draw for me with THE SCORPIO RACES is the fact that it’s a book dealing with killer horses. Something new and exciting, and you know it’s bound to be a little bloody (they are killer horses after all). THE SCORPIO RACES deals with a very unique mythology and I really enjoyed losing myself in Puck’s and Sean’s story.
Told in alternating points of view, the reader gets to glimpse the world of THE SCORPIO RACES through the eyes of Puck, local girl who decides to enter the races for personal reasons and gets swept up in Sean Kendrick and the capall uisce that are captured and ridden in the race, and Sean himself, a quiet teen who pulls off the loner persona wonderfully, and yet is the go-to man for all things to do with the water horses. It is so easy to tell the difference between our two narrators. Even without the name of the narrator at the top of each chapter (of which most are Puck. I would have loved to have more from Sean’s point of view, I got lost in his voice so easily) it would have been easy to tell whom we were experiencing the story through. Puck is headstrong and stubborn, determined and clever but a little bit petulant and reckless. Sean is quite pragmatic, intelligent and just generally good.
Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style is beautiful and draws you in. She never sets out and tells you what time period this story takes place and the mix of modern day and old fashioned legend blends into a great atmosphere for the Scorpio Races to be taking place. Descriptions are vivid and the slow burn romance between Puck and Sean is perfect for the story. It evolves very naturally and calmly, which is very Sean. And since we’re dealing with flesh eating killer horses, there’s quite a bit of death by horse – starting right in the first chapter. It all serves it’s purpose to the plot though. You’ll not find any gratuitous violence. The tension of the races and the build up at the end is delicious, and though you think you know how it’s all going to play out, it’s one of those books where you’re never quite sure if Maggie Stiefvater decided to throw a wrench in everything and surprise you.
THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater is a book that blends myth and modern into a story of love and dedication – for home, for family, and for friends, be they human or horse (or cat!). In the pages you’ll find a story not just about the legend of the water horse, the capall uisce, but a story about heart and drive to keep what you know and love close to you, but also the knowledge of when it’s best to let go. THE SCORPIO RACES may revolve around a dangerous race, but without the people, there would be no race. So even though it may have been the legend of the water horses that drew me in, Maggie Stiefvater’s characters come to life and really make the book memorable.(less)
Anytime I read a second book in a series, I prepare myself for a filler book (just in case), and when it’s not, I am happily surprised. CROSSED by All...moreAnytime I read a second book in a series, I prepare myself for a filler book (just in case), and when it’s not, I am happily surprised. CROSSED by Ally Condie is one of those sequels that contains quite a lot of setup for the next book, but also a nicely paced plot and storyline.
Cassia is determined to find Ky and join the rebellion against the Society. Her journey, along with fellow rebel Indie, takes up the majority of the novel. I really enjoyed the fact that we find out more information about the Society and the peoples that live in the Outer Provinces, as well as The Rising (those rebelling against the Society). Although the plot and action is fairly slow, it is never boring. There is always information being presented to Cassia, Ky and those with them (and to the reader, in turn). Cassia does quite a lot of thinking and growing throughout the course of CROSSED, trying to figure out where she belongs and what she’s willing to do to stay with the person she loves.
Only major issues I had with the plot was that Cassia no sooner finds Ky, than they're off on their own separate ways again. Also, there was constant reference to Xander and a secret that he was keeping from Cassia. I couldn’t for the life of me remember if we knew this secret from MATCHED, or if it was new, so it really drove me nuts trying to figure it out. I do have to say, that Ally Condie’s writing is insanely poetic. I love her style and it’s so easy to get absorbed in Cassia’s world through the words and emotions spilling across the pages. CROSSED is a solid second book, and leaves just enough unanswered questions and new information that I’m curious to read the third story in the trilogy.
ENCHANTED by Alethea Kontis is like a love story to fairy tales. The original story, which at it’s heart is a remix of The Princess and the Frog fairy...moreENCHANTED by Alethea Kontis is like a love story to fairy tales. The original story, which at it’s heart is a remix of The Princess and the Frog fairy tale, manages to include so many shout-outs to other fairy tales that it’s amazing – Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella are very prominent.
At the beginning of the book is the poem that details the personalities of children born on certain days of the week, and each of the Woodcutter girls personify the day of the week they’re named after very well. At first I thought reading about characters named after the days of the week would be slightly confusing (especially because there are so many of them), but Alethea Kontis writes voice very well, and it was easy to keep all the sisters apart. Their emotions, speech and mannerisms are very distinct. Really the main thing regarding the characters I found confusing was their ages. Trix, older than Sunday (whom I’m assuming is in her late teens if not older) often seems to have the maturity of a six-year old. Sunday also says at one point that she never met her oldest brother Jack, so the differences in their ages must be very great, yet the parents do not seem to be old at all. Most of this can be attributed to the faerie elements to the story, I suppose; long lives and youthful appearances.
Prince Rumbold’s scenes at the beginning are quite…choppy? Rumbold is recovering from being a frog, but he’s also seeing things, hearing things, his fairy-godmother Sorrow is doing something to his father the king to keep him young, magic is running wild and it’s all very confusing. The scenes are full of abrupt shifts in places and thought processes, and so much alluding to things that had happened before Rumbold was a frog but that he doesn’t remember, that I was just as confused as he is. The good thing is that things get less confusing very quickly, as his memory returns and the story begins to focus on Rumbold and Sunday, and the three balls. There is a lot of hinting at bad things that happened during the year before Rumbold become a frog that never really get answered, which left me very curious and kind of disappointed since I wanted to know the details. A huge plus in Rumbold’s scenes? Erik and Velius, Rumbold’s guard and cousin, have hilarious banter. They are definitely the comic relief!
The ending of ENCHANTED by Alethea Kontis is so great. There’s this huge big scene with magic spells, giants, love, sadness and maybe even a happily ever after. And though I found a few parts confusing, or unclear, as a whole the story is a brilliant remix and retake on traditional fairy tales. Alethea Kontis put her own spin on the classics and created a world where anything can, and will, happen. Magic is a way of life in the Prince Rumbold’s kingdom, and Sunday’s life quickly becomes more exciting than she could have ever imagined. It’s the details in the writing that make this world come alive, and I would be happy to read more fairy tale stories set in the same world. I feel there is much more that can be explored!
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.
THE IRON DAUGHTER by Julie Kagawa is the second book in The Iron Fey series. In good sequel format, THE IRON DAUGHTER throws you right into the action...moreTHE IRON DAUGHTER by Julie Kagawa is the second book in The Iron Fey series. In good sequel format, THE IRON DAUGHTER throws you right into the action where book one left off and takes you on a crazy ride through the Nevernever that results in Meghan, Ash and Puck confronting foes they thought gone and the courts of Summer and Winter.
I’m kind of in love with Julie Kagawa’s writing guys. It takes nothing at all to lose myself in her books and just completely forget where I am, what I was doing and how much book I have left. It had been a while since I read TH IRON KING before I read this one (umm, 2 years, holy crap) but I could still remember everything clearly and still felt connected to the characters. Puck is still a funloving, rambunctious, sometimes slightly annoying goofball that will do anything for Meghan and Ash is still broody, takes Meghan’s breath away and annoying in his own way. This second book in the series shows Meghan leaving her capture in the Winter court to follow the Scepter of the Seasons that has been stolen from the courts by Iron fey. We are introduced to the Between where Leanansidhe rules as Queen over the exiled faery and provides some valuable help to Meghan while managing to still be mysterious and horde her secrets.
Ironhorse is also back, but as a friend to Meghan which is definitely leading to some huge revelation. I love all the hints that are dropped throughout the course of the book that you just know are going to lead to something but not when and what. The battle scenes are amazing, both the one between Summer and Winter, and Meghan’s battle against the Iron fey that stole the Scepter. Even though times are tough, Meghan still manages to luck out in finding people that can help her which is kind of convenient and I’m still not sure if I like Grim or not – he seems to have an agenda, and I’m hoping he’s not just a big dues ex machina that just helps to move the plot along (I’m thinking no, since that would be odd in fitting with Julie Kagawa’s storytelling).
Meghan goes through all this crap for Faery and she still gets the short end of the stick in the end. There is some great building to Meghan and Ash’s romance that just adds an extra depth to the plot and pace of the story, and THE IRON DAUGHTER brings out a lot of development in the characters. I’m excited to see where it’s all going in the third book!(less)
GRIFFIN'S FIRE by Darby Karchut is a solid, engaging sequel in a wonderful series. Griffin is about to embark on one of the most terrifying journeys o...moreGRIFFIN'S FIRE by Darby Karchut is a solid, engaging sequel in a wonderful series. Griffin is about to embark on one of the most terrifying journeys of his life – high school. Resigned to living his life as a human, Griffin not only has to worry about a math teacher who seems out to get him and his relationship with Katie but a new apprentice moving in to the house – Sergei, who clashes with Griffin like water on fire.
I still really like Griffin, and I think his stint as a human has allowed him to mature and grow in a way that staying a Terrae Angeli wouldn’t have. He seems to have a better appreciation for what he’s lost, and what he has in his relationships with Basil and Katie. A lot of that appreciation comes from having Sergei on the scene, too. Here is someone else who moves into the position with Basil that Griffin can no longer fill, and he begins to doubt Basil’s care. And of course Sergei has to hone in on Katie and manages to bully and blackmail Griffin in regards to their relationship. Sergei is one of those characters that I love to hate.
In GRIFFIN'S FIRE, Darby Karchut has Griffin trying to figure out where he fits in and navigate a world that has completely changed for him. And things aren’t calm now. Nicopolis is still out there somewhere, and he’s been experiencing some weird fluctuations with his powers – powers he’s not even supposed to have anymore. There are some great moments of introspection through the journal entries from Griffin, Basil and Katie, and the battle of words that Griffin and Sergei involve themselves in daily turns into an actual battle near the end, resulting in some tense moments for Basil and Griffin. This second book is quieter than the first (despite being named for the fire element). The ending seemed to come up quickly and be resolved without too much angst, but it has a good lead up to the third book to come, which I will definitely be waiting for.
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!
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!
It’s no secret that paranormal and dystopia are my genre of choice when it comes to books. But that means a read of lot of them, and it can be hard to...moreIt’s no secret that paranormal and dystopia are my genre of choice when it comes to books. But that means a read of lot of them, and it can be hard to find that really unique take on a story that makes you clutch the book in your hands and not let go until you’ve turned the last and wish like crazy that the sequel was out now. HEMLOCK by Kathleen Peacock is just such a book – it’s brilliant.
Most important factor in my love for HEMLOCK is Kathleen’s werewolves. Lupine syndrome is public knowledge, and werewolves could be anywhere. They can shift at will, though they are often slave to strong emotions if they don’t have good control. And their change is rough, body changing and bones moving around. It’s not seamless or instant, and Kathleen’s werewolves can be just as normal as you or I, only they can go furry, or they can succumb to bloodlust and be the scariest thing around. The backstory and off screen story that is hinted at throughout the book is really intriguing. Anyone with lupine syndrome that is identified is sent to a camp where they live in horrible conditions, and the group calling themselves the Trackers hunt down those with the syndrome to send to camps. The werewolves don’t always survive the encounter, though. It’s a huge political set up, and Kathleen only hints at the bigger picture going on outside of the town of Hemlock, where the main character Mac has had her world changed due to werewolves.
Mac is so strong. Her best friend Amy is murdered, Amy’s boyfriend Jason is spiraling out of control, and Kyle’s suddenly looking to be not just a friend anymore, but possibly a boyfriend. Secrets are rampant in this group, and just when you think you may have it figured out, there are nice little twists and turns to keep it all anxious and nail-biting until the end. It’s done in a way where you think you figure it out, then something happens to change your mind, and then you realize you were right after all. Mac gets put through a lot of stuff over the course of HEMLOCK, but she pulls through it. Like any teenager some of her decisions are a bit rash and may not be the best, but she’s confident and determined to find who killed Amy. She’s up against a lot of opposition and the bad guys are truly bad guys – they made me cringe and fear for Mac, Kyle and Jason. Oh, and Kyle…so much love! Jason grew on me, and honestly, I wanted to smack both of them at different times and tell them to smarten up! I’m surprised Mac didn’t.
HEMLOCK is a book I had been waiting for since since July of 2010 and it so lived up to my expectations. Engaging writing that pulls you into Mac’s world completely, characters that you can relate with – be happy, sad and terrified with – and some great backstory that has me wishing for book two all combine to make it so that HEMLOCK is a must to read in one sitting, late into the night when your eyes are blurring but you just can’t put it down.