Gail Carriger'sFinishing School series is so silly and so, so much fun. Really, I think I might read it just for the names alone (Sophronia, Dimity,Gail Carriger'sFinishing School series is so silly and so, so much fun. Really, I think I might read it just for the names alone (Sophronia, Dimity, Sigheag, Pillover, etc.)
For Sophronia espionage is not just what she is studying at school; it's a way of life. When Dimity and Pillover are threatened, Sophronia is determined to get to the bottom of it. Plus, the school is making a highly irregular detour and there's no way that Sophronia will tolerate being left in the dark.
My experience with Robin LaFevers'sHis Fair Assassin trilogy was rather mixed. So many people were raving about Grave Mercy when it came out, and I tMy experience with Robin LaFevers'sHis Fair Assassin trilogy was rather mixed. So many people were raving about Grave Mercy when it came out, and I thought it was just okay. Then I read Dark Triumph and had a much better idea of what all the fuss was about. I loved Sybella's story, and it left me itching to read the final installment. Mortal Heart, however, was more in line with Grave Mercy than Dark Triumph for me. I'm as surprised as anyone to find that I loved Sybella's tale the most.
Mortal Heart is Annith's book. Annith, like her sisters, has been trained to be Mortain's assassin. We've had hints of her story in the last two installments. We knew, for example, that the Abbess wants her take over the role of seeress. For Annith, who has been itching to leave the convent and use her acquired skills, this is the last straw. She cannot be trapped at the convent forever. So she leaves under the cover of night.
The next part of the book was where it was a little slow for me. A series of events occur that don't seem to further the plot at all. (Eventually their importance will be realized, but at the time it was slow going.) However, once Annith reaches the Duchess, Sybella, and Isme secrets start to unravel one after another and things really pick up. And wow. Some of those secrets are pretty huge.
Mortal Heart has a lot of pieces to put together in order for the whole trilogy to make sense. I really enjoyed the intricacies of the world that Robin LaFevers created. The melding of the historical and the fantastical is quite well done. I loved reading about the Nine and their followers.
Also, I had been wondering from the beginning how LaFevers was going to bring historical figures Anne of Brittany and Charles of France together, as their countries were at war for the entire trilogy, but we know from history that they eventually must marry. (The answer: in a pretty fantastical manner.)
Overall, I'm not sad at all that I stuck with this trilogy. In the end, I think the pay off was worth it.
Prisoner of Night and Fog imagines what it would be like to grown up under the protection of Adolf Hitler. Gretchen Muller lives in 1930 Munich. Her fPrisoner of Night and Fog imagines what it would be like to grown up under the protection of Adolf Hitler. Gretchen Muller lives in 1930 Munich. Her father became friends with Hitler during the Great War and then died to save Hitler's life during a National Socialist Party demonstration. Uncle Dolf, as Gretchen calls him, has been like a second father to her.
However, Gretchen is now nearing adulthood. She is capable of thinking for herself and begins to realize that under the party doctrine she will never be treated as an adult.
Gretchen then meets a Jewish reporter, Daniel Cohen. Together they start investigating her father's death. What they find will change everything.
I didn't like Anne Blankman's book as much as I thought I would. I think the reason why was because it features a set-up we see so often in young adult novels: Girl meets handsome boy and handsome boy changes her perspective on the world. Along the way they fall in love. It's not that I don't like Daniel or that I think this set-up is unrealistic (even if maybe it is, a little). It's that I have seen this set-up time and time again. Wouldn't it have been wonderful if Gretchen had started wondering about her father's death on her own and then had sought out Daniel herself?
Still, the insider perspective into the early years of the National Socialist Party was certainly intriguing. I'm going to read the sequel and see what happens next. ...more
This book club pick was certainly worth reading. It gives lots of insight into the situation in Pakistan. Malala is a brave, smart, and inspiring younThis book club pick was certainly worth reading. It gives lots of insight into the situation in Pakistan. Malala is a brave, smart, and inspiring young woman. I was very impressed with her tight-knit, supportive family, as well....more
I read Counting by 7s for a book club. And, I think it just wasn't my thing.
Counting by 7s is a story about a diverse group of characters that somehowI read Counting by 7s for a book club. And, I think it just wasn't my thing.
Counting by 7s is a story about a diverse group of characters that somehow make a family. One of my main problems with the book had to do with the fact that I'm getting a little tired of reading about super-special, super-smart kids.
The other big, big problem in the book is the ending when we find out that a certain character was, in fact, very rich, when she had been living in poverty for years. The money was so unexpected. It felt like, since money was the only way to make the story have a happy ending, that's what the author did, never mind how unrealistic.
Most everyone in the book club enjoyed the book, however. I was definitely in the minority....more
In the second installment of Gail Carson Levine'sA Tale of Two Castles series, Elodie, Masteress Meenore, and Count Jonty Um have arrived on Elodie's home island. There they learn that the Replica, a magical object that keeps Lahnt safe, has been stolen. Detection commences.
Stolen Magic introduces a whole new cast of characters and suspects. Elodie, once again, must deduce, induce, and use her common sense to solve the mystery.
Stolen Magic is a cute sequel to Gail Carson Levine's genre-mixing A Tale of Two Castles series, and I, for one, love a good fantastical mystery. This book also reminds me a little of Tamora Pierce'sMelting Stones because the crew is working to keep a volcano from exploding, and it is never a bad thing to be reminded of Ms. Pierce's work.
Allyson and Sydney Tate exist in a somewhat uneasy truce. Allyson is the perfect daughter--interest in her parent's hobbies, baking, and keeping up appearances. Sydney is rebellious, whip-smart, and unruly. She spends most her time skateboarding with her two best friends. The arrival of Graham, the new neighbor, puts Allyson and Sydney back into each others' orbit. There is something about Graham that neither can resist. Allyson with her optimism sees the Graham with innocent eyes, but Sydney is suspicious of the newcomer and just knows there is something off about him.
I quite enjoyed Norah Olson's haunting, psychological thriller. I read it in one sitting. As the reader gets deeper into Twisted Fate it's evident that there is something not only off about Graham but the girls as well. The story is told in alternating perspectives. Each girl has a unique voice. The interspersion of narrations from of secondary characters really added to the story as well, giving the reader access to information that Sydney and Allyson did not possess. Enough clues are laid along the way to keep the reader interested without revealing too much too soon.
Leonora (Leo) and her sister Paris live in less-than-ideal circumstances in Las Vegas with their mother and new stepfather. Paris is the vibrant sister, full of life and enthusiasm. She is an artist and a dreamer. Leo is the more practical sister, set on attending Stanford and becoming a doctor. The two have always relied on one another. Deeply. Emphatically. Which is why Leo panics when her sister disappears from a late-night pie run. Paris has left clues around the city urging Leo to find her and hinting at something more sinister than a late-night prank. Leo must rely on almost-stranger Max to help her hunt down Paris. Finding Paris is a scavenger hunt with high stakes. There are enough clues that something is really wrong, so the reader knows that Leo needs to get this right. However, despite my anticipation of the big reveal, I didn't find myself quite as invested in the experience as I would have liked. Everything about it is solid. It's just missing a real "wow."
Let's talk about Laura Ruby's new book, Bone Gap, and how exquisitely lovely it is. Oh my, I just can hardly even handle this book. The whole time I was reading it I was thinking, "This is so, so beautiful." The writing is glorious. Read it.
In some ways I think that it's best to go into Bone Gap knowing very little. The power of the tale and its beauty were more overwhelming for me because I didn't know what to expect. That said, I almost didn't pick it up because the blurb sounds pretty standard. So, if this write-up convinces anyone to read Bone Gap that was going to pass it by due to its perhaps less-than-inspiring blurb, I will consider my job done. And, if I've already convinced you, wait to read what follows until after you've finished the book. If you aren't yet convinced, keep reading.
Bone Gap takes place in a small town in Illinois. It's about two brothers who have been abandoned by their mother. It's about a girl who is kidnapped. It's about the boy who saw her taken but can't describe her kidnapper. It's about how no one believes him. It's about how abandoned these boys feel. It's about a boy and girl and how they see each other.
Bone Gap made me feel that swelling, tingling sensation that you get when you are reading something truly amazing. I loved the characters. I loved the mystery. I loved the strangeness. I loved the atmosphere and the mood of the book. And, most of all, I loved the writing.
The best way that I can think to describe Bone Gap is that it's as if someone melted together The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, The Vanishing Season, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane stirred them up and then poured out a glittering, new work of art. The language in Laura Ruby's book is every bit as lovely as those novels. And, as with those books, Bone Gap teeters between reality and the otherworldly. There's just a hint, just a glimpse, of magic to these tales, and it's that slight otherworldliness that makes them so utterly captivating.
Although those three books were really the closest to Bone Gap in terms of feel and style, for me, I also came up with a few other connections:
Shadow Study picks up approximately eight years after Fire Study left off. Yelena is the liaison between Sitia and Ixia, keeping the balance between the old enemies. Valek moves back and forth between the two countries and this is how the couple maintains their relationship. The book opens with Yelena on her way to meet Valek. During the journey she is shot by a hidden assassin. All seems well until days later after Valek has already departed. Yelena is hit with a horrible illness and when she recovers her magic is gone.
The chapters in Shadow Study alternate between Yelena, Valek, and Janco. I really enjoyed this about the book. I especially loved spending a little bit more time with Valek. His memories of assassin training and his younger years added so much to his character, and I loved getting to know Valek a little better. Likewise, I enjoyed spending time with Janco. He has a fun personality and his chapters were never dull. Although Yelena, Valek, and Janco seem to be on very different missions, it's clear from early on that the threads of their three stories will come together. It's so gratifying when they do.
For me, the hardest thing about reading Shadow Study was that it's been so long since I've read the other books in the series. You guys, 2008 seems like an age ago. Between then and now I've had two children. The oldest is now five. I wrote a dissertation and finished my PhD. I've moved three times. 2008 was like another lifetime ago and remembering anything but the very basics of the Study series was just not possible. Also, I never read the Glass series that features Opal Cowen or any of the three Study series short stories. Shadow Study seems to do a great job bringing the Study series and Glass series together. And, although I was at a slight disadvantage having never read the Glass series, I never had trouble following the story line. Avid Maria V. Snyder fans will love Shadow Study, but if your reading of this world has been a little spotty, like mine, you won't be in over your head.
My one quibble about the story is that the climatic battle takes place off the page. I felt a little disappointed that I had to black out with Yelena and miss the finale.
Overall, this is a great addition to the worlds of Ixia and Sitia. Study series fans are going to be thrilled. Valek fans, especially, will rejoice. Shadow Study has renewed my love of the series. I am so excited that there's more to come.
I read the first part of Ileni's story last year. The first book, Death Sworn, takes place in the assassin caves where Ileni, whose magic is disappearing, serves as their tutor. Ileni came to the caverns convinced that the assassins are pure evil, but once the assassins have a face and a voice, Ileni finds the situation much more complicated.
The situation in Death Marked is similar. Ileni, having left the assassins at the end of book one, goes to the Empire to learn for herself if it's as evil as she's always been taught. She is accepted into the sorcerer academy and, as with the assassins caverns, she finds things aren't quite as black and white as she's been taught. She finds sympathy and camaraderie with some of the students. Plus, Ileni is tempted. She loves being powerful again. And the academy's cache of lodestones fills the emptiness her lost magic left behind. But at what cost? Those lodestones are filled with death.
In Leah Cypess's sequel, Ileni can't seem to figure out who she is. Is she an assassin? A spy? A traitor? Her internal conflict is expressed quite well. Death Marked, on its own merits, is a very lovely book. Well written with powerful characterization and an evocative setting. However, it just doesn't work as a series conclusion. It doesn't feel like an ending. As I neared the conclusion of the book I started to wonder how it could possibly wrap everything up satisfactorily. The answer was that it couldn't. My first thought after finishing was, "that was the end?" I'm not convinced that anything has changed by the end of the book. What's the situation with the assassins and Sorin? It's all left hanging. At the very end of the book Ileni comes up with a way to fix the whole lodestone problem, but Karyn immediately turns it into something sinister. It feels like a set up for more conflict. There's obviously still much more work to be done. How will Ileni and a couple of sorcerers change the entire Empire? Does Ileni actually have the power to change things?
Death Marked reads like a second book in a trilogy and like a set-up for a powerful concluding third book. I don't know if this series was originally suppose to be a trilogy or if Leah Cypess is trying to upend the fantasy genre with a quieter, less dramatic, less conclusive ending. Either way, I found the ending painfully unsatisfying, and I'm not sure that I would read a sequel even if there was one.
Avery West has one rule, "Don't care too much." It's a rule of necessity that allows her to deal with the constant moving for her mother's job. But it's a hard rule to follow, and she's starting to feel a little too comfortable in her new home. She has a some friends and the new kid, Jack, asked her to the prom. At this point Avery's mother announces they are moving. Again. Avery's just about had it, so when Jack and another mystery boy, Stellan, tell her that he father's family wants to meet her, she takes off with them. To Paris.
Avery's lost family has private jets and balls and apartments in the Louvre. Yes, that Louvre. Her family is really a part of a secret organization called The Circle that rules the world. Then someone tries to kill Avery. This family isn't at all what Avery was expecting. Soon she and Jack are searching for clues to unravel an old family mystery linked to the attack on Avery.
The Conspiracy of Us promised to be a mad dash around the globe. It's kind of got a The DaVinci Code vibe, with old artifacts revealing clues to the future. I enjoyed the mystery and the jaunts between Paris and Istanbul. The pacing of the book is a bit uneven. I wished that the book was just a bit more heart-pounding, the action a little faster, and the danger just that much more intense. The intensity does ramp up as the book nears its conclusion. I did quite enjoyed the links to ancient history and the Napoleonic Era.
Maggie Hall's debut has promise. I'll be interested to see where she takes the sequels. I hope they get smarter and twistier.
Avery VanDemere has never felt like she fit into the VanDemere clan. The child of a scandal, she never knew her mother and grew up in her grandmother's mansion. Once she turns eighteen she plans to leave the VanDemere world, with all its propriety and privilege, behind. Then Avery and all her VanDemere relatives learn that their Justine VanDemere is dying, and she has engineered a competition to determine who will be her heir.
Kate Kae Myers'Inherit Midnight is a lot of fun. It's kind of a cross between The Amazing Race and Who Do You Think You Are. I got a kick out of the extreme, high-stakes genealogy. Justine VanDemere is obsessed with family history. The VanDemeres are whisked around the world as the competition progresses. Each test takes place at a different location and each has to do with one of the VanDemere ancestors.
As Avery learns about her ancestors, she has some moments of self-discovery as well. As would be expected in a competition like this and in a family such as the VanDemeres, there is back-stabbing, cheating, lying, out-and-out villainy, but there are also moments of bonding between Avery and some of her family members.
I wasn't super swoony over Riley Tate, but I was glad that he was there to help Avery along, and I think he was a good friend to her.
The third and final addition to the Princess Academy series is an absolute delight. It's no secret that I basically love all things Shannon Hale, butThe third and final addition to the Princess Academy series is an absolute delight. It's no secret that I basically love all things Shannon Hale, but this one is extra special.
Miri is on her way back to Mount Eskel when she receives a summons from the king. The neighboring kingdom of Stora is threatening invasion but may be placated with a royal Danlandian bride. Miri is to go to the swamps of Lesser Alva and establish a princess academy there where she will prepare three forgotten royal cousins to wed a king.
Conditions in the swamp are, well, pretty bleak. The girls, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus, are completely wild and not at all interested in courtly affairs or book learning. In fact, they don't have time for any of that nonsense. They are too busy just getting by. Miri, now stuck in the swamp with the sisters, must make this work somehow.
The Forgotten Sisters is full of really poignant emotions. And I loved this best about the book. Miri is miserable in the swamp and fiercely misses Peder and Marda, but then she begins to love the girls and understand their lives. This transition is communicated so eloquently. Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are fabulous additions to the series. Fully developed and every bit as likeable and unique as any of the girls from Mount Eskel.
The Forgotten Sisters is also not without its share of high-stakes drama. Soldiers. Pirates. Snakes. Caiman. The Chief Delegate. Bandits. Epic Escapes. You get the picture. It's all in there.
Miri's linder magic continues to develop in the most intriguing ways. Linder helps her unravel these sisters' secrets. Peder is stalwart and fabulous as ever. And I just loved Miri's educational lessons and how they came to matter in late chapters. As Miri says, "Think of learning as storing up supplies you may need for a harsh winter."
I listened to Landline at the very beginning of the year. The book takes place near Christmas, so I felt like it was very seasonally appropriate.
I lovI listened to Landline at the very beginning of the year. The book takes place near Christmas, so I felt like it was very seasonally appropriate.
I love Rainbow Rowell. She write beautifully, and I certainly stayed up way to late many nights listening to this. I loved the concept of the landline. I also enjoyed the leaps back and forth through time as Georgie is remembering her college days.
What I'm not so sure about it Neal. The book is kind of a reverse on the typical gender-roles. Unhappy, stay-at-home dad and married-to-her-job wife. That, in itself, was at least interesting. But Neal is so supremely unhappy, and, honestly, I'm not sure why, exactly. Yes, Georgie works too much, but I'm not convinced that Neal's unhappiness is entirely Georgie's fault. I don't know, am I going to get booed off the internet now?
What I did love was the lovely parentheses that brought the family together.
I would love to pick this for a book club one day. But is there too much swearing and controversy? Book clubbers advise, please....more
I wasn't crazy about the first novel in the Palace of Spies series. It kind of felt like a long preface to me, and it's true that there was a lot of gI wasn't crazy about the first novel in the Palace of Spies series. It kind of felt like a long preface to me, and it's true that there was a lot of groundwork that needed to be laid. Most readers aren't intimately familiar with this historical era. However, I had this feeling that the sequels could be more enjoyable, and I'm so glad that I can the next book in the series a shot.
Dangerous Deceptions once again finds Peggy in the court of the Prince Regent (the future King George II). She has gained the trust of her sovereigns and has been kept on to continue rooting out deceivers in the court. Peggy soon finds herself facing a personal problem. Her uncle insists that she fulfill her betrothal contract to Sebastian Sandford. As he is absolutely horrible, there is no way that Peggy can let this happen. Thus, she engages in a little spy work for her own benefit. However, as is to be expected, Peggy soon learns there are greater forces at work.
Sarah Zettel's novel is just a lot of fun. I like Peggy's voice quite a lot. She navigates us through the maze of courtly politics quite well. It's an interesting period of history, and I, for one, enjoy being front and center, if you will, for all the underhanded courtly intrigue....more
Despite their differences, Nick (short for Nicole) and Dara have always been especially close sisters. That is until a horrible accident changes things. Now everyone is tiptoeing around Nick and Dara won't speak to her. Some wounds take a long time to heal.
Lauren Oliver always wins me over with her writing. She just knows how to use words to their full potential. Vanishing Girls is no exception. The writing is superb. The book alternates between Nick's words and Dara's. Each has a distinct voice. Vanishing Girls is a psychological thriller and, as with all psychological thrillers, it's best to go in without too much forewarning. I will say, however, that the characters and the setting is very well drawn.
As is to be expected in a psychological thriller there is a big twist, and I don't know what the deal is exactly, but I keep figuring out the twists in these books way earlier than I would like! (I knew what was going on in We Were Liars about a third of the way in, for example.) I had my suspicions very early on in this book and then starting paying really close attention to all the details that you are probably supposed to miss. The clues are in there. And really, this is a compliment. Twists should not come out of the blue. The groundwork should be laid. However, I'd really like to be surprised. Maybe I've just read too many books with a similar big reveal, as of late, (view spoiler)[(We Were Liars, Twisted Fate, The Half Life of Molly Pierce.) (hide spoiler)]
However, that said, I was absolutely compelled to finish Vanishing Girls. I had to know if my suspicions were correct. I had to know what was so unsettling about Nick and Dara's relationship. I had to know what was going on with Parker. I would have loved to read Vanishing Girls in one sitting.
One hundred years have passed since Aurora fell under the sleeping curse, and she's just been awakened by prince Rodric of Alyssinia. Everything is different. Her parents are dead. The city is much larger. Alyssinia is full of unrest and rebellion. And everyone seems to think Aurora is a tool to be used. Completely disoriented and with no one to trust, Aurora is mired in a sea of uncertainty.
Rhiannon Thomas's debut novel had a lot of potential. I love fairy tale retellings, and Sleeping Beauty seems to be quite the thing these days. I like the idea of exploring the weirdness of fated love and the reality of missing 100 years. Coming off of Stacey Jay's fabulous Princess of Thorns, I had high hopes for this one. I was not overly impressed. Nothing really happens in A Wicked Thing. Aurora seems to spend most of her time locked in her room. I understand that Aurora is disoriented and overwhelmed, and that part of the story is very realistic. Thomas's tale really did make me think about how different things would be if you missed 100 years. However, that said, Aurora is an incredibly passive character. Things happen to her and she reacts. At the very end of the book she turns the tide a bit and does the unexpected but really it's too little too late.
Red Queen is Victoria Aveyard's debut novel, and it has been getting a ton of buzz. And you know what, it's well deserved, which is such a relief to write.
Mare Barrow is a Red. She lives a day-to-day existence in a Red slum thieving to get by. In Mare's world there are two types of people, Reds and Silvers. The two are differentiated by their red and silver blood and the fact that Silvers possess a wide array of super-human powers. Some are extraordinarily strong; some are telekinetic; some read minds. Silvers live like gods in fabulous palaces expecting Reds to be serve them, worship them, and, above all, be subservient to them. Mare is sick of all of it. She's sick of the feats of strength meant to lord the Silver's powers over the Reds. She's sick of being hungry, dirty, and ill-treated. But most of all she is sick of the mandatory conscription that has taken her brothers to the war front and will soon take her.
Then through a series of tragedies and coincidences, Mare finds herself working in the palace where it's discovered that she has extraordinary powers of her own. Suddenly, Mare, a lowly Red, is a huge threat to the Silvers, who, in order to cover up Mare's powers, bring her into their world. And it is a dangerous world, indeed.
There's so much to love in this book. Red Queen is kind of Red Rising combined with X-Men and set in a dystopian world. If you love dystopias, this one won't disappoint. The setting is pretty well done, especially once we get to the palace. If you love a book with superpowers, like I do, Red Queen is for you. There's a wide variety of supernatural powers, and they make all the court intrigue just that much more dangerous. Mare position in the Silver court is incredibly unstable which makes for a great deal of tension and suspense. And, best of all, the princes are fabulously complicated.
Dark Triumph is Sybella's story, and as others have mentioned (and as the title implies) it's a much darker tale than Ismae's. For me, this was part of the book's appeal. The stakes are high in Grave Mercy, but in Dark Triumph everything is ratcheted up a notch. Not only are there political problems but very personal ones as well. For Sybella, this situation truly is one of life or death, and she may not escape with her sanity intact.
Sybella is a spy in her father's house. Sent back to d'Albret by the Abbess of St. Mortain, Sybella is at the heart of the rebellion against Duchess Anne. It's a dangerous place to be, for d'Albret is truly black at the core. And is his household resides another monster, one whose love for Sybella has twisted into something rotten. Sybella finds her sanity chipping away with every day.
Then the Abbess orders Sybella to rescue the Beast of Waroch, who was believed to have fallen in battle against d'Albret's men, but who, in reality, lives languishing in the dungeon.
I love the Beast. I loved him in the last book. He was probably my favorite character, and so I was just thrilled to be following his story this time around. And Beast and Sybella. They really work.
I'm pretty sure that I am going to be in the minority, as Snow Like Ashes has picked up a lot of fans and won some reader's choice awards since it was published in October, but I just could not get through this book. And you guys, I really tried. I started the book three different times. I eventually got more than halfway through, but it was slow going, and I finally had to throw in the towel. The main problem for me was that this book just didn't feel fresh and new.
Snow Like Ashes is set in a land divided between two types of countries, the Rhythms and the Seasons. The Rhythms experience a typical seasonal progression. The Seasons, however, only have one season throughout the year. This is kind of a cool idea. The problem is that we never really get to experience it because we don't spend any significant amount of time in a Season.
Sixteen years ago, the country of Spring decimated the country of Winter. Now it's people are enslaved except for a few compatriots who are fighting to get Winter back. Among this band is Winter's young king, sixteen year old Mather, who was saved from Spring's invasion when his mother gave him to her trusted general. The small band without a homeland is a common trope in fantasy fare, and there wasn't much to enliven it in Snow Like Ashes. This aspect of the story struck me as a less spectacular version of Melina Marchetta's superb Finnikin of the Rock.
Meira is our main character. She wants to be a warrior, but she is constantly told to wait at home. Meira seemed like a decent fighter to me, and I didn't read far enough to find out why Sir wouldn't let her fight. It always irks me when a character isn't given the answers they so desperately need. Why not just explain to Meira why she must stay behind? The lack of answers drives Meira to reckless behavior.
Then Meira is betrothed to Theron, the Prince of Cordell, in order to form an alliance. Enter another common fantasy trope: the forced marriage and rebellious fiancee. To top it off, Meira is not told that this is going to happen or why. Her fellow Winterians just spring it on her. That was never going to work for a girl like Meira.
With the betrothal comes a love triangle between Meira, Prince Theron, and Prince Mather. It's not that I hate love triangles, but at this point they have been done so many times that a love triangle has to be pretty spectacular or I'm over it. And this particular love triangle features Meira, a prince, and a king. It's just a bit much. Plus, I have no idea why anyone likes anyone else.
Sara Raasch's book dangles the promise of cool magic. I just wish I had seen more of it.
Ignite is the second book in Sara B. Larson'sDefy Series. In the first book Alexa helped wrest the kingdom from the evil King Hector. Now that Damian is on the throne things in Antion are looking up. The gross wrongs of King Hector's realm are beginning to be put to right, and Alexa no longer has to hide the fact that she is a girl. However, there is one little sticky issue: she's still in love with him. And even though Alexa has determined that it's best for the country if she and Damian are not together, that hasn't made the decision any less painful. Alexa's personal issues aside, there is still a lot of work to be done in the kingdom of Antion. A regime change such as this calls for a delicate balancing act. Most especially, Damian and his advisers are wary of how the surrounding countries will treat the new Antion. They get a chance to find out right away when the neighboring country of Dansii sends an envoy.
Defy was just okay for me, but I really enjoyed Ignite. I think part of the reason is that this book has a lot more political intrigue. There's abduction, poison, swordplay, and, of course, magic. I liked that we got more up close and personal with the villains in book two. You can't hate a villain with the same venom if you don't really know them.
My one complaint about this book is kind of reminds me of when an interviewer asks about a personality flaw, and the interviewee reports on a flaw that is not really a flaw. Here it is: Alexa does everything in this book. She has to fight everyone, solve all the mysteries, and basically save the kingdom single handed. I know that Alexa is awesome and all, but doesn't King Damian have anyone else that can wield a sword?!
Miriam Foster's newest books in the Bhinian Empire series is a companion novel to City of A Thousand Dolls. Empire of Shadows is, in fact, the story of how Nisha's parents met. It begins as Mara, having been cast out of her family group, enters an order that trains individuals to become warrior-protectors of their charges. Once Mara's training is complete she leaves to seek out someone to pledge herself to.
I love the fascinating and rich world of the Bhinian Empire. We get to read a lot more about the Sune in this installment, and, as they are very mysterious creatures, that was quite a treat. Also, I love a fantasy with a lot of political intrigue, and this one definitely has that going for it. Mara ends up working for Revathi, a noble girl, in the capital city of Kamal. It's the hot season, so many of the nobles are away for the summer. I loved the atmosphere that was created by this half-empty city. Revathi and her grandmother are pros at playing the games of court, and they have these delightfully cynical attitudes. I quite enjoyed them.
The other main story line follows the path of Nisha's father, Emil. He is a Kildi and a member of the Arvi clan, but not entirely comfortable with his role there. Emil, for me, takes a bit of a backseat to Mara. For one, I think that this really is mostly Mara's story, and also, Mara is so kick-butt awesome Emil falters a bit in her shadow.
One of the most pleasurable parts of reading this story is putting the pieces together with City of A Thousand Dolls. I loved seeing the connections between that story and this one. We get some additional insight into well-known characters (Esmer! Stefan!), and it was interesting to see how some of the politics of Nisha's time had their origins in Mara's time.
Graeme Simsion's sequel to The Rosie Project takes Don and Rosie around the world to New York City. Don is a professor at Columbia and Rosie is workinGraeme Simsion's sequel to The Rosie Project takes Don and Rosie around the world to New York City. Don is a professor at Columbia and Rosie is working on an MDPhD. Life seems to be good for the pair until Rosie announces her pregnancy. Then commences a series of, as Don would call them, disasters.
I ended up really loving this book, but, while I was reading the first half especially, I kind of felt like I was watching a train wreck. One disaster after another conspires to derail (to continue the train metaphor) Don. Then his inability to cope with the problem leads to another disaster. It's a chain reaction that you aren't sure Don's going to survive unscathed. However, in the midst of all this problems, it's so lovely to see how deeply Don cares about his old and new friends. Some of the disasters are caused through the best of intentions.
I didn't really realize how much baggage Rosie carried into this relationship until I was well into this second book. I think some readers could be really, really angry with Rosie, and I kind of don't blame them. I guess it's nice to see how Don and Rosie are fully formed individuals, both with big, possibly relationship killing issues. It puts them on more equal ground.
As the disasters begin to be resolved in the second half of the book, I no longer felt the need to metaphorically cover my eyes. I feel like Don grew a lot in this book, becoming a caring individual with lots to offer to so many.
The conclusion of the book takes place at Christmas, which made it a perfect choice for the holiday season.
The Unhappening of Genesis Lee has a really interesting premise. Gena is a member of the Mementi, a small segment of the population that stores it's mThe Unhappening of Genesis Lee has a really interesting premise. Gena is a member of the Mementi, a small segment of the population that stores it's memories in beads or links. They have the ability to remember everything as the bead store memories with absolute precision. The Mementi have an uneasy coexistence with the rest of the members of their society. When someone starts stealing memories the whole town might could very well go up in flames. Gena may have the key to solving the mystery, if only she could remember it.
Shallee McArthur has created a very interesting world. The story as a whole is kind of a science fiction thriller, with the main characters racing to uncover the criminal. However, there is also a good bit of the deeper themes of remembering and forgetting, friendship, family, and loyalty. The questions about what gives an individual his or her identity are all carefully balanced with the fast-paced plot. The book deals with social prejudices and the moral implications of scientific advancement.
I love the title of this book. In addition to being clever, it's very applicable to Gena's situation. I liked how Gena kept forgetting Kalan, and the two would have to work out their relationship all over again. It almost had a fate-like feel.
I've got a several other books on my to-read list that feature a similar situation. I'm eager to see how other author treat the storing and forgetting of memories.
The Rent Collector has a very interesting setting. It takes place in the largest dump in Cambodia. In this dump live many people who make their livingThe Rent Collector has a very interesting setting. It takes place in the largest dump in Cambodia. In this dump live many people who make their living salvaging items from the garbage.
Parts of the book were less believable than others, but I enjoyed learning about this kind of life. As always, the book was greatly enriched by the discussion....more
Deanna Raybourn has written four novellas set during traditional English holidays. Last year I read Silent Night. This December I read Twelfth Night.Deanna Raybourn has written four novellas set during traditional English holidays. Last year I read Silent Night. This December I read Twelfth Night. This traditional English holiday marks the coming of the Epiphany and concludes the Twelve Days of Christmas, so clearly, it is perfect for the holiday season. This time the whole March clan is gathered at Bellmont Abbey as it is customary for their family to put on the Twelfth Night Revels for their English village. I love having the whole March clan together because there is always a ruckus and a good bit of eccentricity. It was particularly fun to get to know some of Lady Julia's young nieces and nephews. The mystery this time involves an abandoned baby and a haunted cottage.