I admit that this book first caught my attention through its title (I have a deep fondness for feral children in literature - though this has nothing...moreI admit that this book first caught my attention through its title (I have a deep fondness for feral children in literature - though this has nothing whatsoever to do with them), and kept it through its premise of a blend of Irish mythology and modern setting. It’s more of a middle-reader story than young adult with its heroine and narrator, Maddy, thirteen years of age. She lives with her grandparents in County Cork after the death of her parents. Maddy is an angry child, yet sympathetic. And her adventures are somewhat reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia novels, though the mythology here is pure Ireland.
Despite the intended audience, there is a bit of foul language (“hell”, “bloody”, “stuff”), but since the majority is more Irish slang than American, parents may not be as concerned. Ultimately, it’s an engaging read and one that I would imagine an audio version (if done properly) would be quite pleasant. There are hints to the sequel included at the end. While I did not feel a personal connection with any of the characters, younger readers are probably more inclined to. I particularly appreciate the way that the Irish mythology is woven into this story, and I am curious to see how Golden will move forward with this series.(less)
It’s engaging from the start - though Keye’s inner narration still has not reclaimed the same polished mix of edgy humour and wry observations that is so prevalent in the first novel. The outside perspectives add to the mystery, though the plot contains a rather large measure of predictability. Though there are a few unexpected twists - and it moves at a very fast pace. It’s an entertaining and horrifying mystery involving multiple murders of very young women. Several mentions of the recently solved case of similar crimes in Ohio adds to the book’s overall authenticity. And the ending seems to hint that the fourth book will involve a plot closer to home for Keye. It’s an intriguing finish that will leave readers anxious for more to come in this series. I know I am certainly looking forward to it!(less)
This book opens with plenty of action. It claims to be a blend of fantasy and history, set in Ancient India. It leans much further towards the histori...moreThis book opens with plenty of action. It claims to be a blend of fantasy and history, set in Ancient India. It leans much further towards the historical side, but this unique setting certainly stands apart from other blends of history and fantasy. Unfortunately, the writing style heavily detracts from this promising premise. The perspective is inconsistent throughout, the verbs typically passive and none of the characters feel particularly convincing. Sometimes flaws like these plague the first books in trilogies, and later books flow with more polish, but without something to truly hook the reader in, I doubt that many readers will feel compelled to continue onward.
Maybe it is the high hopes that I harbored for this one, but I simply do not like it. Reading it feels more akin to a chore than a pleasure and I probably should have set it aside rather than plodding through to the end. The format of the entire novel includes dialogue filled with exposition interspersed with action. This keeps the pace moving along, but leaves no room for character development. The ending creates a cliffhanger, but even that is not enough to make me eager for the next novel. The battle scenes are easy to visualize, but so much of the character motivation is simply missing. This all the more disappoints me because its premise is such a wonderful idea - I just wish that it were executed in a way that fully expresses its exciting ideas. Needless to say, the Shiva trilogy, for me at least, ends here.(less)
I usually try to avoid picking up a series mid-stream, but when I picked this one up, I initially had no idea that it was the fifth book in the Ellie...moreI usually try to avoid picking up a series mid-stream, but when I picked this one up, I initially had no idea that it was the fifth book in the Ellie Hatcher series. With some trepidation, I started reading it - ready at the first sign of being lost in the series to set it aside until I could read the first four books. But, amazingly enough, Burke manages to insert information about her characters without it feeling too "series-y" - I liked Ellie immediately, and never felt too lost when there were obvious references to past novels. Burke includes Hatcher's past here which I appreciated as I have definitely read series books where the author includes no such reminders to readers (or inclusions to newcomers to the series). And most amazingly of all, I never once had that “missing-something” feeling that I expected.
And ultimately, I was quite glad to have read this book! Last year, I read one of Burke's standalone mysteries, If You Were Here and greatly enjoyed it, but I think this one is even better. I like the dynamic between the characters, and the relationships add to their development. The dialogue flows very smoothly and along with the NY setting, adds to the realistic feeling of the novel as a whole. There are new perspectives here, too, outside of the series regulars which I think adds to making this a book that is all right to start with. I like the cold-case angle and it’s a nice blend of police procedural and legal novel. But, I am definitely planning on reading those four previous books in the series now after enjoying this one so much (in order, of course - though nothing seems to have been given away about the plots of the previous books). And I am looking forward to following the future novels as well! It's a fast paced and engaging read!(less)
I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. Of course, I have long held a soft-spot for epic fantasies, but in recent years it has bee...moreI actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. Of course, I have long held a soft-spot for epic fantasies, but in recent years it has been much rarer for me to find a new series that sparks my memories of being young and first falling in love with the genre - and unfortunately, even going back and re-reading some of those novels as an adult has even proved disappointing. But Johansen’s debut novel reminds me all over again of the wonder involved in reading a good fantasy.
Kelsea Raleigh, nineteen, leaves her isolated home to take her place on the throne of Tear. Hidden away like a fairy tale princess, Kelsea is more of a tomboy than refined princess. Not a beauty, she enjoys the outdoors just as much as she likes to be curled up with a good book and a tasty meal. Her mettle is quickly tested on the journey to become Queen. With a great cast of characters, mysteries and magic, it’s an absorbing tale. and Johansen taps in a bit to the popularity of dystopian fiction in basing this new land after a great Crossing - there are some familiar relics of modern society which only makes this fresh landscape all the more intriguing.
Though the conclusion is satisfying, I’m eager for the sequel. It’s a well-written and intriguing beginning and I imagine that more books in the series will move at an even faster pace. I sincerely hope the wait isn’t too long for the next installment - and I hope that the Fetch plays an even larger role! I think he is my favorite character!(less)
This YA debut novel is a fun read. Amy Gumm’s life in Kansas is not going well - teased since her parents’ divorce (which is the catalyst for landing...moreThis YA debut novel is a fun read. Amy Gumm’s life in Kansas is not going well - teased since her parents’ divorce (which is the catalyst for landing her and her mother in the Dusty Acres trailer park) as “Salvation Amy.” Now seventeen, Amy still has her enemies - and after being suspended for fighting with her popular (but pregnant) longtime nemesis, Amy feels like her life can’t get much worse. As her mother heads out to the bars with the tornado warning sirens blaring, Amy finds herself abandoned with only her mother’s pet rat, Starr, for company. But when the tornado hits, Amy quickly learns that Oz is real - and much darker than the classic Judy Garland film ever revealed. This dark twist on Oz brings in references from the L. Frank Baum books as well as the film and has Amy struggling to put together the disparate pieces of Oz’s troubles - and also along the way discovering who she is and what she really wants.
The book makes for an exciting, fast-paced read that pays homage to the earlier versions of Oz while allowing Paige to put her own unique stamp on it. The adult language may disappoint parents of younger, advanced readers, but it also makes it more appealing to the crossover older readers in the market. The ending leaves readers anxious for the sequel - which will hopefully flow a bit smoother and clean up some of the lingering loose ends and mysteries. I hope the wait isn’t terribly long!(less)
I have been a fan of Cain’s writing after first reading Heartsick in the spring of 2008. She continuously writes fast-paced plots with some surprising...moreI have been a fan of Cain’s writing after first reading Heartsick in the spring of 2008. She continuously writes fast-paced plots with some surprising twists. But the Gretchen/Archie series feels a bit uneven with some installments much more enjoyable than others. This novel marks a new start to a fresh series. The novel introduces main character Kick Lannigan. Famous for her kidnapping, Kick spent five years as a victim and then ten years after her rescue learning how to never be a victim again. Along the way, she fosters her own obsession with trying to help other kidnapped children. Dealing directly with pedophilia, this is certainly a dark thriller but an exciting one as well.
Cain introduces more complex characters here - and even more importantly, ones that don’t so strongly remind readers of other characters from other novels (the dynamic between Gretchen and Archie feels strongly influenced by Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs series). The book ends with plenty of room for sequels and this is a promising beginning. I’m looking forward to following it to see what will happen next!(less)
It’s been almost a year exactly since I read (and loved!) the first book in Sakey’s Brilliance series, Brilliance. Needless to say, I have been lookin...moreIt’s been almost a year exactly since I read (and loved!) the first book in Sakey’s Brilliance series, Brilliance. Needless to say, I have been looking forward to this one since finishing the first book’s last page. Sakey captures audience with his unique alternate reality. In 1981, an emergence of special genius called “brilliants” changes society completely and changes the world. Nick Cooper, brilliant and hero, continues to be the main focus of the series, but Sakey introduces some new and sympathetic characters here. “Norm” scientist, Dr. Ethan Park, plays a substantial role.
Sakey inserts just enough reminders of the past plot to help jog the reader’s memory (though I definitely would not recommend starting with this one - I think this one is better enjoyed with the first one in your library!). He sucks the reader back into his world with a continued use of other forms of media interspersed throughout the book, giving Sakey’s world a firm grounding in this version of reality. The plot moves along at a very quick pace and I can easily imagine shutting out the rest of the world to read this in one, breathless sitting. It’s exciting and thought-provoking. And like its predecessor, this one also exudes a cinematic quality. The plot takes some genuinely surprising turns and the last page leaves me quite anxious for the next installment - my fingers are crossed that it won’t be another year!!(less)
I have read nearly all of Armstrong’s novels and this start to a brand new young adult series is an exciting one! And its cliffhanger of an ending wil...moreI have read nearly all of Armstrong’s novels and this start to a brand new young adult series is an exciting one! And its cliffhanger of an ending will leave readers eager for a sequel! Unlike her other novels, this one is pure fantasy and reels in the reader with plenty of excitement. Twin narrators with magical powers and mystical bonds to a larger wildcat and hound add to the fun. Ever since Sweet Valley, I have been a sucker for stories featuring identical twins and this is no exception to the fun. The romantic element adds to all the page-turning entertainment - with plenty of funny and realistic banter between the characters. There’s plenty of loose ends and mystery remaining to the plot and the magic which will, I am sure, all become clearer in the next installments to the series. It’s fast-paced and exciting - I really can’t wait to see what will happen next!(less)
Wow! What a thrilling continuation of the series!! And though this may be the end of the trilogy, my fingers are firmly crossed that this isn’t the ac...moreWow! What a thrilling continuation of the series!! And though this may be the end of the trilogy, my fingers are firmly crossed that this isn’t the actual end of these wonderful characters and this rich fantasy world that Laini has created. The ending of the book really seems to be setting up more to the story... and if I had my own gavriel to spend, I would surely use it to have a follow-up trilogy in hand...
So many of the popular YA books out there tend to have third books that fall apart somewhat, but this is most certainly not the case here. The third volume picks up right where Days of Blood & Starlight end, but adds even more elements and perspectives to make the plot’s scope all the larger and more detailed. There are some twists to the plot that are more predictable than others, and the sheer amount of betrayals borders on the overwhelming. Taylor still manages to deliver some real surprises along with some genuinely heart-stopping moments.
And though there are definitely elements of a satisfying conclusion here, I am really hoping that this isn’t really the end... So much of the book feels devoted to setting up new questions and conflicts which hopefully will be resolved in a spin-off or something. But all in all, this has been a lot of fun reading this trilogy and I am definitely eager for more from this talented author! (less)
I think this is one of those rare sequels that is even stronger than the first book in the series! I like this follow-up to the Daughter of Smoke &...moreI think this is one of those rare sequels that is even stronger than the first book in the series! I like this follow-up to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone actually a bit more than the first. The focus here shifts from the central romance and more to the larger conflict between the angels and chimaera. But the modern, human world is hardly forgotten - and Karou’s friends still play roles here. Like its predecessor, this one too ends on such a cliffhanger that I am having a hard time focusing on anything other than when I can start reading the final book in the series.
The plot twists a bit more here with bigger surprises - including some genuine shocks! It is a bit longer than the first book, but it moves at an even faster pace. More characters and perspectives are added, making the story feel fuller. But it’s a sad story, too, and definitely a darker sequel than I expected. The ending especially feels like a new direction for the overall storyline and I am just loving these books! It’s such an engaging tale with great characters and some truly unique aspects to the fantastical elements. The magic here feels clearer and more defined. There is a lot of action and violence here, targeting this series towards the older readers in the genre.
I really like the settings, the characters and I am so glad that I am able to just read this trilogy consecutively - I would just hate to have to wait to continue onwards after an ending like this one!!(less)
I am so glad that I held off on reading the fourth book in the Matthew Corbett series, The Providence Rider, so that I could read it consecutively wit...moreI am so glad that I held off on reading the fourth book in the Matthew Corbett series, The Providence Rider, so that I could read it consecutively with this fifth installment to the historical mystery series featuring the young problem solver. This book opens almost immediately after the previous book’s close and once again, Corbett’s head has not fully come to terms with the events of the past novel. McCammon offers reminders of not only the events covered in the last book, but the earlier volumes as well. Still, I am glad that i have the events and characters all fresh in my head - this is not a series that can be fully enjoyed if read out of order.
The book opens engagingly, and page-count wise, this is definitely the briefest of Corbett’s adventures. It clips along at a very fast pace and compared to the heftier volumes at the start of this series, this one almost feels like a novella in comparison. That’s not to say that this isn’t an entertaining story in its own right, but it is definitely the least complex plot-wise to date in the series. It moves along quite quickly and the new characters (with the exception of the villain, of course) are well-drawn and sympathetic. The pieces of the plot fit nicely together - both within the scope of this story and drawing from previous novels as well. There are a few sections not from Matthew’s point of view that stick out a bit, but I do hope that some of these characters will also appear in future books. And the ending sets up the sixth book quite well - and I hope that the wait for its publication isn’t too long! I am really looking forward to it after this rather cliffhanger of an ending... (less)
After the very memorable - and thrilling - events in the third volume of the Matthew Corbett series, this fourth installment picks up just after the e...moreAfter the very memorable - and thrilling - events in the third volume of the Matthew Corbett series, this fourth installment picks up just after the end of Mister Slaughter. Those events weigh heavily on the series’ central character, Matthew, leaving in a foggy state. The nefarious tentacles of Dr. Fell reach out to the young problem solver, drawing him closer to him than ever. It’s an exciting novel with a change of scenery outside of the young colonies. The sea voyage and the overall aquatic undertones lend this book a fresh aspect in the series. Though it has been a few years since I read Mister Slaughter, McCammon kindly includes some refreshers not only of that book of the two previous novels in the book - but even with those reminders, this is not a series that I recommend reading out of sequence.
I love McCammon’s writing style and he balances his lifelike characters with the historical setting and a thrilling plot. Problem-solver Corbett is a resilient and sympathetic hero and I am quite curious to see what repercussions this rather explosive conclusion will leave him to deal with in future installments in the series. And though it is nice to see more of the shadowy Dr. Fell, this book raises just as many questions about the professor as it answers! The series is a fun read and I like the setting up of this archnemesis, as well as the introduction of some new and engaging characters. (less)
The twelfth book in the Andy Carpenter series proves once again that to be friends with Andy means that his lawyerly skills will be called upon to def...moreThe twelfth book in the Andy Carpenter series proves once again that to be friends with Andy means that his lawyerly skills will be called upon to defend you from murder. This time it’s series regular and police captain Pete Stanton that stands accused (personally, my fingers are crossed that the thirteenth book in the series will feature Edna as the accused - a murder at a crossword convention sounds like the perfect fodder for Rosenfelt’s blend of mystery and comedy). The murder of Danny Diaz puts his young son under the care of Andy and fiancee, Laurie. This family dynamic adds to the series and the characters’ overall personal arc and growth.
In the tradition of the series, this is fast-paced and a lot of fun to read. And behind one “simple” murder, lurks a much larger plot. The characters rally together and I especially enjoy the way Rosenfelt chose to end this book - it definitely makes for a surprise and adds to my excitement for the next book in the series. This is a great addition to the series and the plot holds some genuine surprises in its twists and turns. And, as always, there are plenty of laughs along with the thrills. In the more recent books in this series, this one definitely ranks amongst my favorites!(less)
Like the previous ten books in the Andy Carpenter series, this one makes for a fast-paced and fun read. Rosenfelt balances the thrilling action with h...moreLike the previous ten books in the Andy Carpenter series, this one makes for a fast-paced and fun read. Rosenfelt balances the thrilling action with his usual humour and fun banter between the series-regular characters. This time, Andy finds himself with an unwanted client at the behest of friend and computer-guru, Sam. Sam’s high school sweetheart has been charged with the murder of her wealthy husband. But his death soon proves to be just one amongst many - a part of a high-level plot set to unfold on Memorial Day. The large scale of the conspiracy and the political angle makes this one of Carpenter’s more “big-picture” cases. As a result, the book itself is a bit lighter in the courtroom drama. With a tight timeframe, the plot moves along quite quickly and some of the series’ longtime characters have less of a role here than typical of the series.
But there are some new characters introduced and I hope to at least hear more about Crash in the next books in this fun series. These books always make for reads that fly by with their brief chapters that make it so easy to just “read one more chapter”. For the most part, this book will work if read out of order, as not too much of past plots are revealed here. Still, I am glad that I have read this series in order. This is one of the more straightforward plots in the series, but after finishing it, I am, as always, eagerly awaiting the next book!(less)
The first in a Young Adult fantasy trilogy, this is an intriguing start to a series and a really enjoyable read! It’s an engaging read, filled with sy...moreThe first in a Young Adult fantasy trilogy, this is an intriguing start to a series and a really enjoyable read! It’s an engaging read, filled with sympathetic and unique characters. The landscape of the fantasy itself, feels richly detailed and actually works well with blending the contemporary Earth-settings. The cliffhanger of an ending has made me glad that I waited to pick this book up until the trilogy was complete - I can’t imagine waiting to read the rest! I am thoroughly hooked on these characters and this plot!
The mixture of modern and fantastic works well and it is a creative book. I think the older end of the YA readers will greatly appreciate this thrilling story. And though I usually find the romance - especially in this genre - terribly cheesy, it actually works very well here. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!(less)
The sixth installment of the Kate Burkholder series is one that I eagerly awaited reading. I have been following this series since the very first book...moreThe sixth installment of the Kate Burkholder series is one that I eagerly awaited reading. I have been following this series since the very first book, Pray for Silence, and this is an exciting addition to the series. Although, it once again makes it hard to believe that Kate actually thinks of Painter’s Mill as such a crime-free town... once again, brutal murders are cutting across the town - ones that have roots in a robbery gone wrong thirty-five years earlier. Vengeance is cutting down the perpetrators - one at a time. This is not Castillo’s most unpredictable plot, but she does manage to slip some surprises into the overall story.
The ongoing relationship between Kate and John is perhaps the lowest point of the book. Their relationship has begun to feel repetitive and the pacing of its development over the entire series is so slow that it has gone from tantalizing to dull. Hopefully the seventh book will make more progress in that area of the book... As always, though, the book ends too soon and I am once again eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!(less)
This start to a new fantasy series immediately thrusts the reader in with its action. The writing relies heavily on visual detail which helps give sha...moreThis start to a new fantasy series immediately thrusts the reader in with its action. The writing relies heavily on visual detail which helps give shape to this new landscape and society. Sprunk’s style is initially engaging and he never shies away from physicality of the scenes - not too many novels even bother to mention bathroom/toilet situations! The level of action and violence keeps the pace fairly fast, and Sprunk balances the perspectives of Horace and Jirom, two outsiders to this land, with a few other voices to make this a more balanced whole.
But despite its strong start, there is something lacking here... it just isn’t the epic fantasy that I had hoped for. This is a mostly male-dominated cast, but that doesn’t really seem to be the cause of my dissatisfaction. I think it is more the lack of character development. The book begins to drag, despite the action because the characters are all so isolated. Though relationships begin to grow between the characters, there is a lack of emotion,spirit to their interactions that bleeds over into the reader - it is difficult to feel connected to any of the characters. And the nearly non-stop action feels more like it is thrust upon the characters than truly relating to any of their choices which only adds to my general apathy for them. Horace’s frequent flashbacks to his old life are repetitive after a while and fail to actually develop him into a three-dimensional character.
There are elements of solid writing, but without the heart and connection, the book falls flat. The non-stop action keeps the pages turning, though in places the action itself becomes hard to follow. The set-up for the sequel is there, but ultimately, I don’t plan on continuing on - and I wish that I had stopped reading the book midway through rather than finish it. (less)
Like many Harris fans, I have been wondering what she would follow up her popular Sookie Stackhouse novels with. And finally, with this book, the wait...moreLike many Harris fans, I have been wondering what she would follow up her popular Sookie Stackhouse novels with. And finally, with this book, the wait is over. Set in Midnight, Texas, this start of a new trilogy opens slowly, but finishes quite strongly. Harris devotes a lot of time to clearly setting the scene - of the one-stop town and its inhabitants. Filtered largely through the perspective of newcomer (and psychic), Manfred Bernardo, it quickly becomes clear that there is more lurking beneath the surface. The high level of detail certainly makes everything quite vivid, but it does slow down the pacing quite a bit. Though I don’t recall ever being stunned by the quality of the writing in the Sookie Stackhouse books, I don’t recall them being so passively written - “was” and “were” are by far the most common words in this book. And the hinting towards the secrets becomes a bit more frustrating than titillating after the first two-thirds of the book are through!
And though this is a brand new series, the supernatural side of things - with a vampire, a witch and a psychic, feels set in the same universe as Bon Temps. Manfred’s perspective as a twenty-two year old man is not consistently convincing in his youth or his masculinity. It takes a good portion of the book before it becomes easier to connect with any of these characters, so I admit to initially being a bit disappointed. But, eventually, the book hits its stride (especially with the development of Mr. Snuggles’ character). The lightness, humour and sheer fun that I expected from the first page do emerge in the last third of the novel. The pacing picks up and by the end, though it does feel like a complete story, I am looking forward to seeing where the series will go in the future - without the long exposition I have a feeling that the sequel will be much stronger!(less)
Over a year ago, I read Neuhaus’ debut novel to the American market - Snow White Must Die. Though I initially enjoyed it, I recall my disappoint in le...moreOver a year ago, I read Neuhaus’ debut novel to the American market - Snow White Must Die. Though I initially enjoyed it, I recall my disappoint in learning that the publishers had decided to start translating Neuhaus’ Bodenstein and Kirchoff series with its fourth book. Curious to see where this book - reputed to the be the sequel to last year’s release - lay in the series, I was again disappointed to see that the publishers have chosen to continue to produce this series out of order to American readers. Though this is the second novel to be translated, it is actually the sixth book in the series. It does seem like references to Snow White Must Die have been inserted here, but I am not certain if those references are even present in the original German version... I wish I understood the rationale behind this odd order of translating volumes and publishing them here!
Like Snow White Must Die, the book opens up with a plethora of perspectives. But eventually, the various plots begin to coalesce into a very thrilling conclusion. This conclusion in particular has my fingers crossed that these seemingly sadistic publishers will translate the actual next book in the series for their American audience... As for the quality of the translation, it feels quite smooth and feels very natural. The plot, though a bit slow to start, certainly amps up the pacing by the end. Even more impressive, the characters - some who are genuinely unlikable at first - actually grow and develop over the course of the book. In thrillers - and even more especially with characters that seem unlikely to appear in future installments - this type of character growth is rare and stands out all the more as an impressive feature of this read. I do hope the remainder of the series (as well as future novels) are translated soon! (less)
I first became curious about Burke’s books after reading his daughter’s mystery novel, If You Were Here, last May. Though I don’t usually listen to my...moreI first became curious about Burke’s books after reading his daughter’s mystery novel, If You Were Here, last May. Though I don’t usually listen to mysteries, I decided to give this one a try - and I am glad that I did! The narrator does a wonderful job of bringing Dave Robicheaux to life (and I was even more surprised to recognize the performer’s voice while flipping through channels - he played a DA in a made-for-TV movie!). The narrator brings the other characters - and their regional accents - to life quite well. And if the remainder of the series (nineteen more books!) were available in unabridged versions by this same narrator, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase the rest in this format! That is how wonderful the performance is!
As for the storyline itself, the plot holds some big surprises, but the real strength of the novel lies in the way it captures New Orleans and its surrounds. The ending makes me curious to explore how this has spawned such a long-lived series as it feels quite complete. And though initially published in 1987, there is still something very modern about the book (though, naturally, there are hints to its time period in the lack of cell phones, some crime scene tech, etc). I am looking forward to following this series!(less)
I have read Jordan’s dragon novel, Firelight, and though I recall it being a bit silly, I do remember it fondly. This is less of a traditional fantasy...moreI have read Jordan’s dragon novel, Firelight, and though I recall it being a bit silly, I do remember it fondly. This is less of a traditional fantasy, and more of a dystopian fiction novel - set about ten years in the future. In Jordan’s vision of the future, science has narrowed down the gene responsible for violent behavior. Davy, a seventeen year old senior and musical prodigy, has everything going for her - the hottest boy in his school loves her, her best friend vies for her attention and she’s all set to attend Julliard. And in an instant, this perfect life falls apart. The results from Davy’s gene test have come in - and she is a carrier of the HTS gene, colloquially known as the kill gene.
Thrust into a new school, with new rules governing her life, feared by her friends and family, Davy struggles to navigate her life marked as a dangerous killer. Carriers of the gene are treated as second-class citizens (reminiscent of Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke) and give America the feel of Nazi Germany more than the puritanical Hawthorne overtones of Jordan’s novel. The second half of the book - with Davy even further removed from her former life - reminds me a bit of Mind Games by Kiersten White. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I hope that the sequel will be released soon! It’s a fast paced novel - I think I read it in about three hours! With the violence, romance and age of the protagonists, this is for the older end of the YA market. the interludes between chapters hint at a broader scope than just Davy’s story, so it will be interesting to see what Jordan will do with these characters and this grim version of the future that she has created. I imagine it will incite some interesting discussions amongst its readers - and I definitely plan on reading a sequel. (less)
Talty’s second novel follows up last year’s Black Irish and features Absalom Kearney - though it doesn’t directly spoil the plot of the first book, it...moreTalty’s second novel follows up last year’s Black Irish and features Absalom Kearney - though it doesn’t directly spoil the plot of the first book, it is best to read these in order. Abbie lives and works still in Buffalo, and once again those familiar with the city will see Talty deftly bring it to life. This thriller opens right up with a serial killer on the loose, escaping custody and headed straight for his old hunting grounds. Once again, Abbie proves to be a thorough and quite likable heroine. The book’s brief chapters and fast-pacing make this a solidly entertaining read - and one that becomes quite difficult to put down! I read it in just one sitting - despite being up with a different good read the night before!
This sequel falls more under the police procedural sub-genre than the first book in the series. Abbie follows both sanctioned policework and below-board dealings to produce her results. It’s a straightforward yet interesting read. The ending twist isn’t completely unexpected - and the final resolution though tidy on the surface, leaves some gaps in common sense in its wake. But the Hangman does make for a rather chilling villain and the chase is fun to read.
Abbie herself isn’t given much room for development in this follow-up. This is all the more startling considering the time spent in the first novel in the series on her past, her relationships. There are a few nods here to her personal life, but the police case is by far and away the main focus here. It’s an entertaining series and I hope that a third installment will devote more time to the recurring characters in the series. And even if it follows this police procedural format, I will still continue to follow the series. (less)
Exactly a year and three days ago, I stayed up nearly all night and read in one sitting the first novel in Anne Bishop’s Others series. And though I p...moreExactly a year and three days ago, I stayed up nearly all night and read in one sitting the first novel in Anne Bishop’s Others series. And though I promised myself that I would genuinely try not to read it so quickly - I have done it again. I feel like the hourglass has been flipped over once more and I am breathlessly waiting for the third novel (please, please sooner than March 2015???)... Maybe next year, I will savor re-reading both this one and its predecessor, Written in Red, to make the experience last a bit longer... But my impatience was far too great this time around for any re-reading!
This is a terrific sequel - wonderfully exciting while still taking the time to develop not only the main characters, but the secondary ones as well. And once again, Bishop has planted the seeds for where the next installment will go...just to make readers salivate all the more for the next book. Bishop’s skill in creating these immensely likable characters is universal in all of her novels, but I think this batch of characters and this unique backdrop is one of her finest. Naturally, the scenes with Simon and Meg shine the most here, but the varied other characters - both newly introduced here and returning from Written in Red - are three-dimensional and charming (well, unless they are the villains... Bishop has a gift for creating some vile villains, too).
Meg and Simon’s relationship grows here - tantalizing (though realistically) slowly - which only makes the waiting time all the more frustrating... Bishop’s world-building here does lean closer to the urban fantasy subgenre rather than classic fantasy, but it really just feels so characteristic of her wonderful style. She populates this creation with familiar characters and creatures that are twisted just so to make them uniquely hers. I am absolutely in love with her writing, the characters, the dialogue - every time I close the back cover on one of her books, I am just so sad to go back to waiting - or it makes me want to re-read all of her old novels yet again - I have had to buy new copies of some of the Black Jewels books because mine just couldn’t take the constant wear-and-tear! What a talented author! And this new series ranks amongst her best books! (less)
This marks the seventh installment in Hayder’s Jack Caffery series (following Poppet). As usual, Hayder hooks in readers from the very first chapter....moreThis marks the seventh installment in Hayder’s Jack Caffery series (following Poppet). As usual, Hayder hooks in readers from the very first chapter. She has a real skill in relaying the immediacy of the action, the heightened emotion and offering readers tidbits of information that the other characters have not yet discovered - heightening the tension. Hayder opens up with a family thrust into an alarming situation while returning Jack’s attention to the main plot revealed to readers in The Treatment (the second book in the series). Jack has been searching for clues to his brother’s disappearance from thirty years before on-and-off throughout the entire series. And though readers know more than Caffery, I think we have all been waiting for these terrible truths to be known to Jack (although I admit I never thought it would not be addressed again for five books!).
The Walking Man, introduced when Caffery leaves London for the countryside policing, makes an appearance here and provides the link between Jack’s past case and the current case that he forces Jack to investigate - that of a little dog, Bear, with an ominous note attached to her collar. Readers ricochet back from Bear’s family to Jack, doggedly pursuing each meager lead. It is such a well-plotted novel as it takes several unexpected turns as each chapter amplifies the tension to an even higher level. The plot unfolds so cleverly - Hayder feeds the reader just enough for them to feel clever themselves before pulling the rug out yet again with another surprising twist. It is an impressive skill that she has mastered!
The book ends in a satisfying way, though I am curious how Jack’s newfound knowledge will change the future of the series. And I already can’t wait for the next electrifying installment of Hayder’s mysteries. I have read all of her novels, and I just find myself enjoying them more and more with each one! She has a true talent for disturbing plots and wonderfully real characters!(less)
In 2008, I first discovered Hayder’s darkly electrifying skill in the first novel in the Jack Caffery series, Birdman (I highly recommend starting fro...moreIn 2008, I first discovered Hayder’s darkly electrifying skill in the first novel in the Jack Caffery series, Birdman (I highly recommend starting from there and reading this series consecutively). This book marks the sixth addition to this thrilling series. Though it has been almost two years since reading Gone (the fifth book in the series), Hayder’s novels are the kinds that linger in your memory, and with this rather chilling cover, it is a gripping read. There are some reminders about the previous novels, but for those who have forgotten about Misty’s death, these reminders may not be introduced early enough (even I started to wish that I had re-read the series again from start to finish - and I will, some day, as that is my favorite way to experience a series). With a backdrop largely set in a mental institution, this book amps up the horror quotient along with its police procedural actions. The new characters are well-developed and it is also intriguing to see more of Jack interacting with Flea.
The brief chapters aid the novel’s fast pacing along and the spine-tingling imagery makes this book sure to offer nightmares (especially for those who find dolls - or the titular poppets - creepy) if set aside just before bed. The Maude makes for an intriguing urban legend that adds to the tension quite exponentially. This dark mystery fits in nicely with the rest of the series and though its intensity doesn’t quite match those of the earliest novels, it is still an intriguing and tense read. Hayder’s plot twists unpredictably and the ending comes in a breathless - and surprisingly satisfying (almost uncharacteristically uplifting) way. Hayder’s rather sinister imagination continues to prove as engrossing as ever. I am looking forward to the seventh installment in the series, Wolf.(less)
John Connolly is, without a doubt, one of my very favorite authors - so much so that I actually asked for this UK edition for Christmas (since it wasn...moreJohn Connolly is, without a doubt, one of my very favorite authors - so much so that I actually asked for this UK edition for Christmas (since it wasn’t due in the US for an additional two months!). This is the first collaborative novel that I have read of his, and though I know little about his writing partner, I admit that initially, I wasn’t completely certain this was the same Connolly responsible for creating the Charlie Parker series or The Book of Lost Things. The book opens with a lot of passive verbs, simple writing. And though this is marketed as a YA series, his other YA series, the Samuel Johnson series, is not plagued with this oddly clunky style. But, thankfully, after the initial exposition introducing the characters and the situation on Earth with the alien overlords, the book hits its stride and the glimmers of Connolly’s greatness begin to become more apparent.
There are some shifts in the perspective that continue to distract throughout, but once the action begins to truly unfold, the book is impossible to put down - I read it in one sitting! Connolly has always displayed a real gift for blurring the lines of genres and this is no exception. It is a mixture of dystopian teen fiction (with the caste system, the youth of the main characters), pure science fiction (alien races, advanced technology) and more classic fantasy (magic, detailed background and a journey). Perhaps the rather dull start lies more in the nature of collaborative writing - anyone who has written a school paper with a partner or group quickly realizes that it is a lot more difficult than it originally seems... But without having read anything of Ridyard’s it’s difficult to say... And though it is far from the flawless read that I expected it to be - outside of the perspective there are some dystopian tropes here (sliding onto a soapbox at times, some literal hair-pulling teen emotions) but at the book’s heart it is a thrilling plot with a wide range of developed and mostly sympathetic characters. Older readers will most likely enjoy this too, as the teen romance is kept pretty minimal and isn’t as cliched or all-consuming as the genre so often seems to demand.
The book matures into a dark story, violent and emotionally heart-wrenching. It becomes a stronger and stronger novel the further in you get. There is such a difference between the beginning and the ending! It’s an electrifying conclusion and I am very curious to know how many more books are planned in the series and where the sequel will go. It ends to perfectly set up Empire. By the end, this is a strong start to a series and now, I am left with the same feeling that I am always left when finishing the latest Connolly book - exhausted from staying up too late, and anxiously counting down the days until the next release date! (less)
Presented as a Christmas gift alongside some rave reviews, I must admit I opened this book up with some high expectations. And though I wasn’t immedia...morePresented as a Christmas gift alongside some rave reviews, I must admit I opened this book up with some high expectations. And though I wasn’t immediately let down, I didn’t find the opening pages as engaging as I had hoped. The oddly inconsistent point-of-view really distracted me and it took quite a while into the first section for me to truly feel hooked. But, as I kept on reading the plight of this captured Scottish woman, written through her confession to the Nazis who have her under torture, the book soon became every bit as engrossing as I had initially expected. Even better, Wein eventually offered an explanation concerning that distracting perspective.
But it was the second half of the novel that completely sealed my affection for this genuinely thrilling WWII YA novel. More of the plot emerged, but Wein still managed to include surprises along the way and keep readers guessing. She really made the characters come fully to life while balancing the horrors of war along with her own passion for aviation and its history. It was an absolute joy to read a YA novel that features two strong, intelligent and brave female heroines. Their strength - and that of their friendship - set the book apart from others in its genre. The time period - which can feel overused - instead felt fresh here. A sequel, Rose Under Fire, was released earlier this year and I am curious to check that out! (less)
Once again Valente succeeds here in sharing the wise and wonderful adventures of September. Another year has passed and September, now fourteen, is be...moreOnce again Valente succeeds here in sharing the wise and wonderful adventures of September. Another year has passed and September, now fourteen, is beginning to grow up even more. And as every day passes without a return to Fairyland, she begins to feel nervous that there may be an age limit to her adventures. Simultaneously, September struggles with a topic that first came up in The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There - her destined job. At long last, she forces her way back into Fairyland - in a new fashion, and with some extra baggage - both planned for and not expected. Her entry offers her a disappointing answer to her question of skilled position.
In an effort to reclaim the Model A car that unexpectedly joined her in Fairyland, September ends up traveling to the Moon. And an entirely new layer of Fairyland is revealed. Familiar friends appear, but the pacing here really moves at a breakneck speed (my constant dilemma with Valente’s books - savor the words, or be consumed by the storyline) - all the events happen in just one action-packed day! And the ending marks the series’ first genuine cliffhanger. I am more anxious than ever to continue reading this absolutely divine series! I hope the wait isn’t too terribly long for a fourth installment!(less)
The second book in Valente’s delectable Fairyland series opens up nearly a year after the adventures described in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyla...moreThe second book in Valente’s delectable Fairyland series opens up nearly a year after the adventures described in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. September’s weekdays in school in Omaha are only brightened by her memories and the secret of her times in Fairyland. Readers get a chance to see a bit more of Omaha in its WWII time period, which adds a greater dimension to the story. And as only her special Sundays with her mother abate her fierce longing for Fairyland, her thirteenth birthday brings September stumbling back to the land she has been dreaming about.
But, as hinted at previously, her missing shadow lies at the heart of this new plot and is the root of some unfortunate changes within Fairyland. September must once again set things to right. This time, though, she travels to a new part of this strange and exciting realm - Fairyland-Below. This topsy-turvy place is a sort of mirror to the goings-on above. There are some familiar characters here, but nothing is exactly the same - this is a very different realm and ruled by Queen Halloween.
Valente’s lush style continues to enchant readers here. She is an amazingly talented writer. Her craftsmanship of words is simply perfect - it speaks to the soul, as silly and melodramatic as that sounds. It is fun to revel in her words, just as Queen Halloween leads the Revels in Fairyland-Below. This is really the perfect sort of sequel because it neither outshines its predecessor nor pales in comparison. It is a balanced, consistent addition to the Story. And again, it ends with some hints about what is to come in The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two. I can’t wait to see what delightful new adventures this third book will bring! (less)