4.5 stars Steelheart was my first book by Brandon Sanderson, and now that I’ve finished it, I’m eager to read everything he’s ever written. 5th grade h...more4.5 stars Steelheart was my first book by Brandon Sanderson, and now that I’ve finished it, I’m eager to read everything he’s ever written. 5th grade homework? Yes, please. Grocery list? Give it here. I really wish I’d discovered him ages ago! Have you guys been slacking off? It seems I’ve been missing out on a lot! Now I have to struggle and change my schedule to catch up.
I think it’s clear by now how much I enjoyed this first installment in the Reckoners series. To be fair, Steelheart is a perfect example of publishing the right book at the right time – I doubt superheroes were ever more popular than they are now. Sanderson borrows the basic idea from Marvel and DC, the only difference being that his superheroes – Epics, as he calls them – aren’t here to save anyone; they’re here to take whatever they want exactly when they want it. In Sanderson’s world, law of the jungle is the only law that still applies.
David, Sanderson’s protagonist, is no superhero, he is a regular teen boy, but one who refuses to accept the way things are. After all, Steelheart, the most powerful Epic and ruler of Newcago, killed David’s father when David was just a boy. He may be reputed to be invulnerable, but David is the only one who has ever seen him bleed. I thought Sanderson did a wonderful job with David. For a teen boy, he was both observant and fairly wise, but I loved that he never stopped being a teenager with raging hormones, prone to rash decisions and careless behavior. He was likeable from the very first page, and his remarks were often hilarious, as were his horrible metaphors.
Secondary characters weren’t far behind. Each one of them interesting and complex, with some, like Prof, mysterious enough to keep us on the edge of our seats the entire time. But even with such fabulous characters, Sanderson’s experience is most evident in action scenes. He knows exactly when and how to speed things up and which moments to describe in detail. His control over every scene and every one of his characters is superb and his understanding of the emotional side of his characters enviable.
Macleod Anderson narrated the story confidently and perfectly. He breathed so much life into the main character, I really felt David was the one telling me his story. This was my first audiobook narrated by him, but I will try to find more.
If Steelheart is any indication, Sanderson is an author who can do no wrong. I came this close to giving Steelheart 5 stars but I decided against it because there is still some room for improvement, although admittedly not much. Can I have book 2, please? Like, now?!
In the two years since I started The Nocturnal Library, I’ve never once reviewed a spy thriller, and Lethal Circuit was such an excellent choice for a...moreIn the two years since I started The Nocturnal Library, I’ve never once reviewed a spy thriller, and Lethal Circuit was such an excellent choice for a beginner. The fact remains, however, that I have no experience reviewing these, but I’ll try my best.
Although Michael’s father is a businessman who was mostly absent during his childhood, he raised Michael lovingly and they are, even in Michael’s adulthood, very close. So when his father suddenly goes missing somewhere in China, Michael is devastated, until he learns, several months late, that his father might just be alive after all. Upon receiving the news and the video to confirm it, Michael packs his bags and travels to Asia to locate his dad. But what awaits him in this foreign and often hostile country is more danger than he’d anticipated and quite a few surprises along the way.
The story is told mostly from Michael’s perspective, but Guidnard included short chapters that focus on Michael’s pursuers. I must admit I found those chapters somewhat disruptive, especially since there was very little to indicate the change in perspectives. I’m not a fan of multiple points of view at best of times, but at least these chapters were short. While I could have done without them, they didn’t bother me nearly as much as I’d assumed when the first one started.
I quite liked Michael. There’s certain calmness in him that was reflected perfectly in Ben Sullivan’s excellent narration. Some might consider it dry at times, but he never slipped into an overly dramatic mode, which was especially important during the action scenes.
Reviewing a book like Lethal Circuit is extremely tricky. Everything I write or even hint at is potentially a spoiler, and I’d like to avoid those at all costs. I enjoyed every curveball this book threw at me and I wouldn’t want to rob you of the same experience. Suffice it to say that nothing is as it seems in Michael’s life. If you decide to read this, and you should, be ready for quite a few surprises.
Robin Wasserman sure knows how to scare a person half to death. As I read The Waking Dark, the evil that jumped at me from every page constantly threa...moreRobin Wasserman sure knows how to scare a person half to death. As I read The Waking Dark, the evil that jumped at me from every page constantly threatened to overwhelm. This isn’t a book you can finish in a day, it is simply too intense, demanding and sickening at times. Even readers who are fairly desensitized like I am might find themselves troubled by the events described.
It’s obvious that Robin Wasserman owes a literary debt to Stephen King – she even thanks him in the acknowledgements. That slowly rising feeling of dread King is famous for permeates every page of The Waking Dark, making it a far better novel than Wasserman’s previous work, The Book of Blood and Shadows. Although perhaps just a tad too long, The Waking Dark is extremely well structured and excellently paced, with a story that refuses to be left behind and forgotten.
For the people of Oleander, pure evil – or devil, if you will – is not a matter of belief at all. It’s simply a matter of seeing it in someone’s eyes… or even in the mirror. Good people commit unspeakable atrocities at every turn – the very worst part of everyone’s nature has suddenly come out to play. Clearly Wasserman doesn’t pull back punches just because she writes for teens. Her characters may be no more than seventeen years old, but they both suffer and commit horrible acts of violence. And yet, that’s not all that defines them; we see the best and the worst in most of them.
I’m not usually a fan of multiple perspectives, but in this case, the more characters I got attached to, the more people I had to fear for. Although I didn’t spend much time with them individually, each of the character was extremely well-rounded, with his or her own set of difficulties and issues. Caring for their individual fates, as well as the well-being of the entire town, happened to be much easier than I’d originally assumed.
The Waking Dark is an unexpectedly twisted read that reminds of Stephen King’s best works. I strongly recommend it, especially as a Halloween read. Just make sure to read it somewhere safe and warm, with all the lights on.
Somehow I knew right from the start that Sarah Skilton would surprise me. Her debut Bruised has a very special place in my heart, but it is such a spe...moreSomehow I knew right from the start that Sarah Skilton would surprise me. Her debut Bruised has a very special place in my heart, but it is such a spectacularly unique novel and Sarah Skilton’s authorial voice was hidden so well, that I didn’t quite know what to expect. The same remains true for High & Dry. Skilton is not a conspicuous, self-important writer. She hides behind her protagonists, making it seem that she played no part in the process of their creation and giving them a life of their own, a level of realism that is rare, precious and just wonderful. A strong authorial voice (like Maggie Stiefvater’s, for example), is a truly marvelous thing, but I believe it takes far more skill to hide yourself completely from the reader and leave your characters in the spotlight.
High & Dry is a story about young Charlie, recently left by his girlfriend Ellie, prone to self-destructive behavior and alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. Interestingly enough, High & Dry gives off a distinct noir vibe, so much so that one can almost hear a young Robert Downey Jr. narrating it. There is a certain level of darkness and hopelessness that, combined with a morally ambiguous and fatalistic anti-hero, has all the markings of a true film noir.
Our Charlie is careless, obsessive and self-destructive. He gives us very little to admire or even like. And yet, in the true anti-hero fashion, he makes us root for him nevertheless. Somehow, as he is running around heedlessly getting himself into even more trouble, he runs straight into our hearts and stays there until the end. So what if he is cynical and brooding? What if he lets himself be defined by a failed relationship? There must be an awakening ahead or else we wouldn’t be here, right?
Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Ellie is a young adult version of femme fatale, not because of something she did directly, but because of how Charlie sees her. Somehow, during their relationship and especially after, she has become Charlie’s raison d'être, someone who defines both his character and his behavior. It was heartbreaking to watch him self-destruct and deteriorate, obsess and almost stalk her.
For all his faults, Charlie is staggeringly intelligent, which in a way makes his behavior even worse. Skilton’s greatest strength lies in creating strong voices for her protagonists, and Charlie Dixon’s voice is very impressive. Believable male voices are so hard to find in YA, but Skilton got it just right.
However, if you’re expecting a repeat of Sarah Skilton’s Bruised, you should know that High & Dry functions on a very different emotional level and adjust your expectations accordingly. While both novels have angry, self-destructive protagonists, they are completely different and affect the readers in very different ways.
Skilton has proved to be a very adaptable, imaginative writer, unafraid to take necessary risks. I’ve come to expect wonderful things from her and I admire her greatly. If you’re looking for something different, you needn’t look further. High & Dry is wholly original and simply wonderful.
Well, well, those Strange Chemistry people just keep throwing these little gems at us! It’s the only imprint that has yet to disappoint me in any way...moreWell, well, those Strange Chemistry people just keep throwing these little gems at us! It’s the only imprint that has yet to disappoint me in any way and Cracked is another one of their successes waiting to happen – funny, thought provoking, surprising and surprisingly heartbreaking, it is a great beginning to what promises to be a fabulous new series.
So many YA authors avoid taking risks at all costs, choosing to rely on tested recipes and roads well-traveled instead, but Eliza Crewe cannot be counted among them. The opening scene of Cracked, with Meda in an asylum preparing to eat the soul of a vicious murderer, sets the tone for the rest of the book. Cracked is bold and daring and above all, different, all due to Meda’s distinctive voice and her moral ambiguity. Meda has hardly any redeeming qualities. She is blood-thirsty, self-centered and just a tiny bit evil, but somehow Crewe made her likeable anyway so that, even when her actions make us cringe, we can’t help but laugh at her antics and her witty comments.
I’ve always known I’m a monster. My skin is as tough as sheet metal, my bones are almost impossible to break. I can run faster and jump higher than any Olympian. My strength is unreal. And let’s not forget, I eat people…
Crewe has the teen language down to a T, which gives Meda’s voice additional authenticity and spark. She cannot be mistaken for an older character, and her sarcasm combined with the typical teen wit and sharpness give her an original voice that will cause you to laugh yourself into stitches.
Demons and Templars aren’t new in YA, but Crewe offers a slightly different take. Although just a touch too juvenile at times, the worldbuilding is well structured and rich enough to give the story a very distinctive flavor. Cracked hides quite a few surprises along the way, things I never saw coming and some I suspected but was unsure of. In addition, Crewe has a talent for making pretty standard characters seem new and fully fleshed-out. All this makes Cracked a must read; while it doesn’t offer astounding depth, the entertainment value is practically immeasurable.
Eliza Crewe is a promising young writer who dares to take risks, already a force to be reckoned with. Read Cracked, and then join me in comfort-eating muffins and desperately begging for the sequel. Not because Cracked ends with a cliffhanger – it doesn’t – but because it’s just so darn fun.
4.5 stars If I were to get stranded on a desert island and allowed to pick just one person for company, Carrie Harris would be at the top of my list. P...more4.5 stars If I were to get stranded on a desert island and allowed to pick just one person for company, Carrie Harris would be at the top of my list. Perhaps we’d starve in a matter of weeks (FINE, days!), but we’d at least go down laughing.
Carrie’s foray into Middle Grade fiction couldn’t have been more successful if she tried, and I get the distinct feeling that this lady doesn’t need to try very hard. That’s the real beauty of her prose – her sense of humor, utterly ridiculous as it may be, seems effortless and smooth, never the least bit forced. She did, admittedly, keep it a bit in check, this being an MG novel and all, but her lovely nature still shines from every page.
Middle Grade fiction or not, Sally Slick is Harris’s most mature work to date. A more careful reader will be rewarded by the strong feminist undertones that permeate every page. Sally refuses to live by the social norms, even though she lives in rural America in 1914 and she’s only 14-years old. She wants to be an inventor, not a housewife, and she wants to race tractors with her brothers instead of spending time in the kitchen with her mother.
In Sally Slick and the Steel Syndicate, Sally and her best friend Jet take on bullies, mobsters, the Steel Syndicate, and, worst of all, older brothers. They are resourceful and smart and they always stand up for themselves. Sally is unflinchingly loyal and she relentlessly defends those she loves.
But of course, Sally is not the only shining star of this book. There is also her best friend Jet, a clumsy, awkward, geeky kid, a follower by nature, but one with a lion’s heart. It is virtually impossible not to fall in love with this kid and wish to adopt him. Geeky and awkward or not, he has a spectacular future ahead of him.
Read this book. Share it with your daughters, nieces, and really, women of any age. When you’re done, share it with the boys as well, they have a lot to learn from it. And while you’re at it, read it out loud to your family pets. Every living creature in this world should meet Sally and Jet.
Once again I fell prey to a pretty cover. I just never learn, it seems. I’ll try to make this rant review as short and clear as possible. Plea...more1.5 star
Once again I fell prey to a pretty cover. I just never learn, it seems. I’ll try to make this rant review as short and clear as possible. Please don’t hate me if I don’t succeed.
The story is very unstructured and immature, and the narrative technique is a bit odd, which is a euphemism for messy and poorly thought through. At first, the focus switches between two groups of teens from one chapter to the next, but as they get separated, the number of perspectives increases. Instead of focusing on the groups (not POVs in the usual sense) we get short chapters from Alec’s, Jack’s and Aubrey’s points of view. I suppose this was meant to help accelerate the pacing somewhat, but what it really did was stop me from connecting with any of the characters. The only one I felt even remotely sympathetic towards was Jack, but even that wasn’t enough to keep me engaged.
And yet, if there is a main character in this mess, it’s Aubrey, not Jack. And Aubrey is one of the whiny ones, insufferable and utterly self-absorbed. She does come to her senses later in the story, but by then it’s far too late.
In the beginning, while the two groups are still together, the second group of teens (Alec, Laura and Dan), commits unspeakable acts of violence without any real reason or justification. They are supposedly terrorists, but terrorists always have strong motivations that make sense to them, if not to us. This was just a group of teens with superpowers going around killing people and causing natural disasters for no apparent reason other than because they can. I really wish this had been done differently. Terrorism is something we all have to live with to some degree and the psychology of it, the motivations of these terrorists is a great foundation for a book. Approaching the subject this superficially is disrespectful and somewhat insulting. No author should write about such serious matters thoughtlessly and immaturely.
The treatment of the teens in Blackout, aside from being awfully unrealistic, was obviously heavily inspired by concentration camps in World War II. The shower scene reminded me so much of The Schindler’s List, except that Wells completely failed to address the psychological aspects of being stripped naked and forced to wash with a group of people. Regardless of whether the showers are harmless or not, the entire experience is hurtful and very degrading. And yet Wells just skips right over it like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
And how likely is it that the government would lock up every single teen in the country overnight? Where are the parents? Where are the human rights groups? Perhaps it’s silly to complain about credibility in a book about kids with superpowers, but this entire thing bordered on ridiculous.
I will now end my rant because I see no point in tormenting you guys any further. I think I’ve made myself pretty clear, but in case I haven’t, here’s my recommendation: don’t waste your time and don’t be fooled by the gorgeous cover.
Intricate and richly imaginative, The Bone Season is a book that clearly stands out, one of the very few titles completely worthy of the hype. Rarely...moreIntricate and richly imaginative, The Bone Season is a book that clearly stands out, one of the very few titles completely worthy of the hype. Rarely do I get so utterly swallowed by a book, living and breathing along with its characters, but Samantha Shannon’s debut held me prisoner for days. Though admittedly willing, I was no less a captive than Paige Mahoney was in Sheol 1.
And what a horrible place Sheol 1 is. Shiny on the outside, rotten on the inside, based on slavery and lead by the vicious Rephaim, it is a prison for voyants and unlucky humans alike. Paige is brought to Sheol from Scion London for killing a man by using her powers. She is immediately chosen by Arctrurus, Warden of the Mesarthim and the blood sovereign’s fiancée and taken to his tower for training.
Paige and Warden start as enemies: he her master and she his furious slave. She hates him, there is no doubt about it, even though it’s often obvious that he goes out of his way to protect her from his fiancée Nashira Sargas, the blood sovereign. Slowly, gradually, and above all realistically, their relationship changes from outright hatred to something akin to respect, closely followed by affection and attraction. It’s one step forward, three steps back for Paige and Warden, every ounce of trust has to be earned over and over, but to lose it is as easy as breathing.
He and I were natural enemies; there was no use pretending otherwise. And yet he had observed so much about me: the way I held myself, my tension, my vigilance. Jax was always telling me to loosen up, to let myself float. But that didn’t mean I could trust the man who kept me locked in this cold dark room.
The social structure, both in Scion London and especially in Sheol 1 is extremely well thought-out. Samantha Shannon thought of everything and she created a realistically structured society, based on fear and mistrust, as these things usually are. Shannon’s writing is well-measured and elegant, each word carefully chosen and each sentence a beauty to behold. I find it almost astonishing that this is her debut novel. With her prose, she shows a level of maturity many seasoned authors can only dream about. Even though The Bone Season is set in the future, her writing has that easy grace I associate with older, classical authors.
With her superb narration, Alana Kerr turned The Bone Season into what is surely one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. Her calm, steady voice gave Sheol 1 a three-dimensional quality and personality to its inhabitants. Through her interpretation, Paige Mahoney became more than just a character on page, she turned into a strong young woman, brave but slightly detached, and it’s because of this detachment that her emotional moments came across more strongly, making me shed silent tears while witnessing her heartbreak.
The second book has no description, cover, or even title, but I’m ready to sell a piece of my soul to get it regardless. Paige and Warden have a long and presumably dark journey ahead of them. I look forward to it more than I can say.
3.5 stars The long-awaited, breathlessly anticipated final book in Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky trilogy is finally here, but is it everything I...more3.5 stars The long-awaited, breathlessly anticipated final book in Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky trilogy is finally here, but is it everything I’d hoped for? Not really. Rarely does a middle book end up being the strongest of a trilogy, but it’s been known to happen now and then, and it happened here. Through the Ever Night set the bar extremely high for this conclusion, and while Into the Still Blue reached significant heights, it stayed well below its predecessor.
The struggles and losses continue in this book – some more painful than others – but none have the impact of the loss we faced in Through the Ever Night. Looking back at the whole picture, I’ve come to realize that the intensity present in the first two books, the gripping fear and uncertainty of survival simply weren’t there now. If anything, Into the Still Blue was somewhat predictable, and while there were lives lost, I saw every death coming from a mile away.
How strange that I didn’t find Perry and Aria’s relationship convincing at all in this book! Perry held back too much, they each had their struggles and secrets and things they just didn’t discuss, and even when that changed, the closeness I’ve hoped for, the intimacy I’ve come to expect, was gone. It pains me to admit this, but there was something missing between them and as a couple, they lost at least some of their shine. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the daring route Rossi took with Aria and Perry. They remain a favorite in so many things, most of all the complete lack of drama and/or love triangles between them. But while I liked the idea, the execution was somewhat lacking, and their previous chemistry was virtually non-existent.
Strangely enough, Aria and Roar’s friendship continued being the highlight of the series. That’s where I found the closeness I wanted to see in other relationships as well. While it was never more than a pure, honest friendship, I still felt more intimacy between them then I did between Perry and Aria. Aria found a perfect friend in Roar and he found the same in her. However, by far the most interesting and emotionally intense part of this book was Perry’s friendship with Roar. The pain, the guilt, the resentment, it all came crashing down on them both and they were tested unlike ever before.
Into the Still Blue would have benefited from a longer epilogue, a chance for fans to calmly say goodbye and close a book with a satisfied sigh. After all the pain and suffering we (and the characters) were put through, after all the tears for lives lost, I felt that we deserved something more, akin to what Melina Marchetta gave us in Quintana of Charyn or similar to what Ann Aguirre did with Horde. Here, the ending felt rushed and entirely insufficient, so here’s to hoping for another novella to make things right.
Despite feeling a bit underwhelmed by this conclusion, I’d never hesitate to recommend the trilogy to anyone who would listen. The quality of Rossi’s writing makes up for most things that went wrong, and these characters will certainly stay with me for a long time to come.
There are very few people who can tell me to go read a book without offering any further details and expect to be obeyed, and Ann Aguirre is definitel...moreThere are very few people who can tell me to go read a book without offering any further details and expect to be obeyed, and Ann Aguirre is definitely one of them. So when she told me to read this book because it made her feel all the feels, I didn’t hesitate for a split second – I ordered the hardcover that very same day. I knew in my heart she would never steer me wrong.
When the World Was Flat is one of those books that sneak up on you while you’re busy looking the other way. It starts with a series of tropes, a small town setting and a girl that doesn’t quite fit in. But let me tell you this: never has the new-boy-in-school trope been used better than in this book. I wish I could spend a day in Ingrid Jonach’s head, it must be a real wonderland in there.*
If I tell you that Ingrid Jonach is Australian, will that make things clearer for you? Yes, I bet it will, this is pure Aussie magic at work. Going into the details would ruin the experience, it’s best to read this without any prior knowledge about it, but suffice it to say that I fell in love with the details and unexpected developments in this book.
The science part of this story is flimsy, stretched far too thin, but I don’t think Ingrid Jonach had been trying to write a science fiction novel. It is a romance, and if you read it as such, you won’t be bothered by much of anything, especially not the theory of relativity.
I trusted a dear friend and ended up a richer person for it. You can now choose to trust me and do yourself the same favor. When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) is a book with a soul. You may end up not liking that soul, but at least you’ll know it has one. And if you decide to pick it up, please let me know whether it made you cry.
*And I will, in fact, be spending a day in her head, we all will. She’ll be at The Nocturnal Library with a guest post for Something Wicked Returns very soon.
Statement of fact: the world needs more urban fantasy anthologies. There’s no doubt about this, it’s a great way to discover new authors or refresh yo...moreStatement of fact: the world needs more urban fantasy anthologies. There’s no doubt about this, it’s a great way to discover new authors or refresh your memory about a series you enjoy. And here’s another fact: there are very few people I’d trust more to put one together than Tim Marquitz, and with Manifesto, he proved me right. Because I’m always right. Duh.
If there’s one thing most of these stories have in common, it’s that they’re raw and unconventional; not quite stories in the traditional sense, but rather episodes that start and end at equally random places. They are completely unrestrained in the violence department, and some of them have strong elements of horror. I don’t see big publishing houses allowing such freedoms in their anthologies, so I’d point this out as yet another advantage of indie publishing.
Anthologies in general are so hard to review, I never quite know how to approach them, but I’ll do what I usually do, point out a few stories that were more impressive and/or memorable than the rest. In Rev by Kirk Dougal a revenant tries desperately to redeem his past sins in hopes of dying and finally staying dead this time. The rules of his existence are laid down pretty quickly, albeit somewhat awkwardly, and the entire story is bold, violent and surprising.
In I’m An Animal. You’re An Animal, Too. by Zachary Jernigan a female vampire (or something akin to vampires) searches for the next person to turn into one of her own. The characterization in this story is fabulous: this three hundred-year-old creature without pity or compassion, completely unrestrained in every way, was portrayed remarkably well. The story is not for those with a weak stomach. Gore, monsters and senseless violence all seem to be part of Jernigan’s signature.
By far the most impressive story in my (not so) humble opinion is Los Lagos Heat by Karina Fabian. In it, a dragon private investigator tries to solve two seemingly unconnected cases at once. I liked Vern so much that I immediately researched all DragonEye PI books and short stories and I’m determined to find make time for them very soon.
In Queen's Blood by Lincoln Crisler Max has the ability to cross over to a parallel world, a place he calls Erth because it’s almost, but not quite, a mirror image of our own. Crisler is clearly a very confident writer and his experience and self-assuredness radiate from every page of this far-too-short story.
Manifesto is urban fantasy in its rawest, most elementary form. It is a constant source of surprises. Without the restraints of formulas, tropes and confines of the genre itself, one never quite knows what to expect. Here’s to hoping that these editors will put together something similar very, very soon.
Tim Marquitz will be here later this month to tell you more about Manifesto UF so make sure to stop by.
Precinct 13 is a nifty combination of urban fantasy and police procedural, quite a pleasant surprise for someone who adores both like I do. Running fr...morePrecinct 13 is a nifty combination of urban fantasy and police procedural, quite a pleasant surprise for someone who adores both like I do. Running from her old life, Alex gets a job as Hughes County medical examiner and becomes even more involved in the very thing she fought so hard to run away from – anything and everything supernatural. On her new job, she is forced to work with Precinct 13, a special police division in charge of all paranormal crimes. Alex questions everything about this, especially her own sanity, and her voice is what makes Precinct 13 a truly interesting read.
While the plot isn’t exactly original, the main character certainly is. It’s not often that we find heroines who truly question their sanity for seeing/believing in the supernatural, to the point of seeking medical assistance and agreeing to take heavy medication. Following doctor’s advice, Alex also runs from her beloved boyfriend Valentine because he tends to encourage her explorations of the paranormal, which Alex believes to be catastrophic for her sanity. The romance is a bit odd, perhaps, but that only makes it all the more interesting. Valentine is as mysterious as they come, and Alex is unsure whether she should trust him or stay as far away as possible from him.
There’s nothing to suggest that a sequel will ever be published, which is a shame, in my opinion. These characters have heaps of potential that could have been turned into a great urban fantasy series, and we’re always in need of those.
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell has the quality and the warmth of a children’s classic. It is a gorgeous story about a little girl in search for her...moreRooftoppers by Katherine Rundell has the quality and the warmth of a children’s classic. It is a gorgeous story about a little girl in search for her mother. There aren’t many stories like this, not anymore, and as a parent, I’m extremely grateful when I discover one to share with my daughter.
By far the best part of this book is Sophie’s relationship with her foster father, Charles. Charles always encouraged Sophie’s peculiarities and never tried to fit her into a mould. His only method of upbringing was to love Sophie as much as possible – everything else was to work itself out. Parents can learn a lot from Charles; oftentimes we try too hard and focus on all the wrong things, and in the process, we neglect what’s most important. Sophie ate from book covers because she tended to break plates; she never brushed her hair, allowing it to become a tangled mess; she wore trousers sewn by Charles when girls were expected to wear pretty dresses, and she was homeschooled, mostly on Shakespeare. But she was the happiest child, free to become the person she was meant to.
"I know these sorts of people. They are not men. They are mustaches with idiots attached."
Rundell’s writing is a thing of beauty, smooth and elegant, easy and utterly charming. She created a wonderful and magical story, full of love and unconventional beauty. It is almost impossible to describe why this book feels so much like a classic, but it does. Books like Rooftoppers are extremely rare and I’m eager to share it with the people I love.
"Sophie," said Charles, "knows all the capitals of all the countries of the world." Sophie, standing in the doorway, whispered, "Almost." "She knows how to read, and how to draw. She knows the difference between a tortoise and a turtle. She knows one tree from another, and how to climb them. Only this morning she was telling me what is the collective noun for toads." "A knot," said Sophie. "It's a knot of toads."
Nicola Barber handled the narration extremely well. Her characterization is excellent and her voice laced with humor in a way that can keep the attention of smaller kids. Sophie’s naiveté and sweetness were evident in her speech and she even pulled off a decent French accent when it was needed. Judging from my daughter’s severe lack of patience, I can’t see younger kids sitting through 6 hours of audio at home, but if you’re planning a longer road trip with your children, I strongly recommend this book as an excellent way to make the time go faster. Both you and your children will gain a lot from it.
This is a book children and adults both can read and reread several times. I know I would have, as a child, and I probably will now. I can’t wait to share it with my daughter. Do yourselves a favor and give this wonderful book a chance.
Teenage fighter pilots. Did you read what I just wrote? Because I’m not kidding here: Teenage. Fighter. Pilots.
Can I end my review here?
Because real...moreTeenage fighter pilots. Did you read what I just wrote? Because I’m not kidding here: Teenage. Fighter. Pilots.
Can I end my review here?
Because really, those three words should be enough to make any living soul desperate to read Night witches. Teenagers are flying planes and fighting wars people, facing enemies both human and supernatural. For those of you who don’t know, night witches were Soviet female military aviators in World War II. L.J. Adlington, inspired by their story, created a whole new world in which teenage girls fly military airplanes against a dangerous enemy.
Rodina is a nation willingly lead by an artificial intelligence, Aura. It is the source of all knowledge and the only real decision maker in the country. Not connected, the citizens are lost since they rely on Aura for everything. They are proud of themselves for shedding the confines of religious beliefs and turning entirely to technology. But at night, when no one is listening, there are whispers of witches just beyond Rodina’s borders. There, the Crux reside, a far more primitive, superstitious nation, and the war between the two is brewing.
Rain Aranoza is a girl who is constantly underestimated – by her parents, her cousin and everyone else who matters – until she is invited to take part in a new fighter pilot program. Suddenly, Rain is flying Crux airplanes and discovering new and shocking truths about herself. During this time, she meets Reef, a silent and competent Scrutiner (kind of a law enforcement) and even though he’s dangerous for her on many levels, she finds herself unable to stay away.
It’s easy enough to draw a parallel between Rodinians and their connection to Aura and our own dependence on the internet. The world Adlington created is a great analogy for our world, and the advantages and flaws she skillfully pointed out can easily be applied to us. The paranormal element, which I won’t go into for fear of spoiling things, is just as fascinating.
Night Witches is elegantly written and gorgeously atmospheric. Adlington’s descriptions are minimal, yet vivid and strong and beautiful. She is prone to stringing very short sentences that give her narrative a staccato rhythm, which, instead of making her prose seem choppy, makes it fluid, distinctive and unique.
I strongly recommend this for those of you who occasionally like to step away from tropes and expectations. Night Witches is a gorgeous story and one I’m sure you won’t regret reading. L.J. Adlington will stop by The Nocturnal Library in October to talk about the dark Russian mythology she researched for her novel.