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The Agency For Crime Investigation And Defense, or as they are better known – ACID, seized power and slowly turned the UK into a police state, where they have absolute power over the country and every individual living in it. They tell you who to marry, when to have kids, where you will live, what your job is - they have sensors in your home - they have rules for everything and mandatory meetings to attend. Any dissidence is quickly squashed through the most brutal means, because once ACID notices you their eyes rarely shift away. And should you be arrested…..it is unlikely you will be seen again.
Jenna Strong knows this better than anyone, but her crime wasn’t seditious - she confessed and was convicted of killing her parents. She is the youngest person ever to be tried/convicted and sent to prison (an adult one of course) since ACID seized power. Jenna was only fifteen. Then, two years into her eighty year sentence, a rebel group breaks her out of jail, gives her a false identity, a new face and fake life partner. Why? Because they believe she may be able to help them bring down ACID and in turn they will help her remember what really happened the night she murdered her parents.
This book is a thriller. If you are looking for a fast-paced story filled with twists, turns and surprises, I would recommend this book for you. To help keep the pace quick, Pass uses a number of writing devices like emails, news bulletins, “hand written” notes, and the like which quickly bring the reader up to speed without bogging down the storyline with extra text. They also help to enhance the police state atmosphere Pass works to foster in her reader’s minds.
While ACID’s premise isn’t necessarily the most unique, recent titles like Matched, Divergent and The Hunger Games (for that matter if you go far enough back Brave New World fits, but I think it serves as inspiration rather than being a derivative- but I digress) all have similar elements. But the difference between ACID and the others boils down to the seriously furious pace it has. Jenna starts out tough - her two years in prison bled out any softness in her character. The book is less convoluted (because it’s a single book rather than a series) and in some ways is more brutal.
Why should you read it? ACID is fun, interesting, a fast-paced YA thriller which delivers precisely what the back cover blurb claims. If you have a slightly reluctant reader who needs something to grab ahold of them, I think this might be their book (it is very female centric so a reluctant male reader may balk at the book). If Pass keeps this book a stand-alone title, you will never feel wanting in the ending of ACID; however there is enough wiggle room that a follow up may be possible sometime in our future! And that would be very exciting!
The books Steelheart and Firefight have been building to this final confrontation with Calamity - an unknown epic who is gifting abilities to humans the world over. But here’s the thing, is he gift more than just powers?
The biggest fly in the ointment in figuring out Calamity is the Professor. The Reckoner’s (resistance fighters) former leader (an Epic himself) who has been fully corrupted by his powers. Now going by the name Limelight, the Prof is following an plan to some unknown ends and seems to be making headway with it. David, who now leads the Reckoners, has his own plan - he wants to save to Prof from himself - which poses several problems: first David doesn’t know the Prof’s weakness (Epics always have one, its what negates their powers and makes them much easier to kill). Second if the Prof spots them, he will hunt them to the ends of the earth to finish them off. Third if the Reckoners don’t deal with Calamity as well, it doesn’t matter if they save the Prof, because there are too many other Epics out there willing to take his place - and there is flat too many of them out there for the Reckoners to kill them all…..
Wow! From beginning to end this book is a non-stop action packed conclusion to this series. Seriously, it was really difficult to put down once I started it!
Without giving any spoilers, Sanderson does a great job in giving a satisfying conclusion to the series - which as readers well know doesn’t always happen! Plus just like the other two books, Calamity has a great sense of humor, with some truly magnificent one liners which still make me giggle when I think about them! Plus Sanderson leaves a bit of wiggle room so that should he want - he can return to this world and write another set of books in it and have it make sense that he can do so.
Now here’s the thing- you do need to read both Steelheart and Firefight before tackling Calamity - since it will make little sense otherwise. However the other two books are wonderful as well so I have no reservations in recommending the whole series to you all. Well that is if you enjoy reading funny, action urban fantasy mysteries. I might recommend them to you if you are looking for something a bit different to read as well - they are just simply great!
“A passion thwarted will often go astray…”
Clariel wants nothing more than to return to the Great Forest, the one place she feels at home. Her mother, a master goldsmith, has moved her family to the capitol city and refuses to grant her daughter’s wish. Clariel’s mother will not be thwarted by anyone, not even the unhappiness of her daughter. So Clariel is thrust into a life she wants no part of, intrigues she doesn’t understand and magic she never wanted to learn. Then a Free Magic creature is discovered to be working in the city Clariel is forced to make a devil’s bargin for her freedom.
I cannot tell you how much I have looked forward to Garth Nix’s return to his Old Kingdom series! I found out this book was coming out and I have been waiting impatiently for it… And wow, what a return to the Kingdom it was!
“Does the walker choose the path or the path the walker?” Is evil born or made? Would Clariel have turned evil if she’d been left alone in the forest as she wished? Or if she wasn’t born with the royal curse of being a berserker? These are the question we must ask when reading Clariel’s story, since we know she goes on to become Chlorr of the Mask, an evil necromancer whom we meet again in Lirael (the second in the Old Kingdom books). Nix does a wonderful job in showing the sticky process of how we become who we end up being - without ever moralizing, philosophizing or judging his characters in any way shape or form! Nor does he give you one key moment which causes her to choose her path was it nature or nurture? There isn’t a clear answer….
Plus, I cannot say how interesting it is to witness exactly how someone turns away from the Charter (their version of “good” magic). While rooting for Clariel the whole time - hoping she will turn away from the fate that - you know - she ends up choosing. This is a huge credit to Nix’s brilliant writing.
This is a prequel to the first three books in the Old Kingdom series; it is not required to read them before trying this book. However I think you will be hooked after finishing this book! Seriously I absolutely adored, relished, obsessed over this book! I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy with a bit of mystery who needs something new to read!
Lots of authors are trying their hands at breaking into the Young Adult market, and justifiably. It’s got great potential, and a lot of YA books are incredibly smart, and are well worth reading even if you’re no longer part of the “Y”.
This is true of the husband/wife combo of John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard, whose YA science fiction debut, Conquest (a few signed copies remain available) is one to make anyone sit up and take notice. John’s a long-time hit here; it’s no secret that I love all his books. And by incorporating his wife’s talent, Conquest has a voice that is unique to them, which is great.
The Illyri have conquered Earth, and they’ve done much to improve life here. Life expectancy is up, businesses are still flourishing, and yet mankind still wants them gone. The story follows two sets of teenagers: Syl and Ani are Illyri, while Paul and Steven are human. Syl is the daughter of the Governor living in Edinburgh, and Ani is her best friend and daughter of the general whom Governor Andrus trusts most.
But things are troubled among the Illyri in ways that have nothing to do with Earth’s Rebellion. There is significant jockeying for power and postion among the two competing branches, Military and Diplomatic, and the influence of the shadowy Nairene Sisterhood is weaving its way through every negotiation.
When two separate bombings occur just before an unexpected visit from Illyri VIPs, the two Illyri teens and their human counterparts become inextricably linked, and the four may have to learn to work together to defend both their planets.
Conquest is a complex and intricate novel, and the trilogy it’s leading into is going to be one to keep a close eye on. While I found myself sometimes being reminded of other books and stories (and no, I won’t tell you what; you need to read this with your own background. It may be just me, after all), the world that Connolly and Ridyard has created is vibrant and unique, and the people who inhabit it are going to be well worth following through the series end.
This is not a series for younger kids. There are fairly powerful and disturbing elements, some almost verging on horrific, that truly younger readers might find unsettling. But for readers who are tired of glitz and sparkles, who want solid science fiction, this is a series to follow. I know I will!
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Buffy Summers from Sunnydale (ie. Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) had been born in Regency England, specifically in 1812 London? The Dark Days Club gives you a bit of hint of what she and her world might have looked like. Now having made this comparison I must set a disclaimer - this is not a vampire novel in any way, shape or form. Supernatural yes, vampire no.
Meet Lady Helen Wrexhall, an eighteen year old heiress, who is standing on the precipice of her first season in high society. Her first introduction into it will be held in the drawing room of Queen Charlotte (the wife of Mad King George), where a curtsey, a murmured greeting and a kiss from the Queen would determine so much about how successful Lady Helen’s (and for that matter every girl who managed to secure a place on the presentation list) season would turn out. On the brink of this most important day, one of the household maids goes missing. Albeit this is not an unusual occurrence in a household staff as large as her Aunt and Uncle’s, but it does upset her friend/maid, Darby, so Lady Helen promises to do what she can to help locate the missing girl - since the rest of the household seems disinterested in her fate.
This is not the only mystery which has crept into Lady Helen’s sphere; it is however the newest and the only one she has the smallest hope of solving. Well, it is the newest mystery until Lord Carlston (distant familial connection and black sheep) steals an irreplaceable treasure from Lady Helen while she is waiting for her royal presentation for no reason apparent to Lady Helen. These two seemingly unrelated events crack Lady Helen’s clear and simple world into one filled with more shades of grey than she knew ever existed.
While I was reading the opening chapters leading up to Lady Helen’s presentation I felt the pressure I usually feel when reading Regency pieces - a sense of foreboding that somehow her curtsey would go wrong and she’d end up on her back with her underpants being shown to the world (due to her hoop skirt) or she would say the wrong thing about her mother (whose death was mysteriously linked with treachery) or a multitude of other social faux pas which could and did happen during to heroines written during this period. But Lady Helen’s sheer wit and humor propelled me through the pages and we both made it through her presentation with questions but on the whole unscathed.
The prose Goodman writes is really strong and gave me faith my worries over her employing well worn and potentially trite plot devices would be unfounded and boy was I right! Goodman does a fantastic job of pairing Regency social rules with a seriously paced supernatural mystery. At the same time Goodman makes sure her characters care about keeping with propriety even when faced with challenging circumstances. Lady Helen does not throw caution to the wind to follow where events are taking her, thus making her an object of ridicule - which is unlike many books with a similar feel. But Goodman does a great job of keeping this focus from making the book feel stiff or from stealing the focus from the mysteries Helen is trying to solve.
The DDC also does a wonderful job in showing (never telling) a wide range of views and the power men held over women during this period - without EVER making it feel stilted or unbelievable. She also showed with varying degrees how women themselves coped in this male dominated age. All of which helped propel the narrative forward at an increasingly breakneck speed!
This is a fantastic book! While labeled YA it really doesn’t feel that way - if you read Pride and Prejudice (Dark Days Club is far more dynamic and exciting - sorry P & P) or Soulless (DDC is not the least bit steampunk - but has more manners and less skin - but they share a similar wry humor) or Deanna Raybourn (similar feel to the pacing of mysteries both in the ones solved and in those left for us to speculate on while waiting for the next in series) I think you’d really enjoy this book.
The paranormal element is worked cleanly into the story and makes sense historically speaking with the amount of unrest during this period. Luddites, Napoleon, the specter of the French Terror, poverty and the general lawlessness rampant in parts of the country - these historical facts (and use societal rules for that matter) lend the book an air of credibility to The DDC making it feel far more plausible than other books written in a similar vein. Again while this information is present it is not trying to teach you - like message books do - Goodman simply slips the history in as background details. Once again showing her readers rather than telling them about what is going on in this day in history - Goodman is flawless in her ability to slip these details in.
While it won’t be out in time for the holidays, if you need a late gift for a reader I cannot think of a better book for a fan of this period looking for something a bit different. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone and everyone who will listen when it comes out (an apparently before as I am writing this review!). Seriously if you need something to break up the post-holiday blues I think this will be the book for you!
FYI - This series will be a trilogy with the next two books coming out in succeeding years and I simply cannot wait to read them! Can you tell that I liked it?
One of the best things about Young Adult writing today is how very intelligent it is. Punches aren't pulled, bad things happen, and it's not sugar-coated or incredibly sweet. Well, certainly not the best YA writing - you know, the kinds of books that kids actually read, not what their parents think they're reading.
Holly Black's upcoming YA book, The Darkest Part of the Forest (Jan. 13, 2015) takes on all kinds of powerful issues facing teenagers today: racism, isolation, gender identity, parental neglect - and she does it in a compelling, easily readable, highly relateable way.
Teenage siblings, Hazel and her brother, Benjamin, have lived in Fairfold most of their lives. Fairfold is a unique small town in that all the residents, child and adult alike, are aware that the fae are real. There have been fae folk around, well, since Fairfold was established, and there's an unspoken agreement: the fae will leave Fairfold's citizens alone (tourists are fair game) and Fairfold's people will respect the fae, leaving gifts and respecting the fae's rules.
At the heart of the town's tourism trade is a crystal coffin in the woods. Inside is a young man, with ears as pointed as knives and horns curling gently out of his head and curving down behind those pointy ears. He's been there for as long as people can remember. There have been numerous attempts to break the crystal, but all have failed, and the more serious attempts have left those humans who have tried badly injured. Hazel and Ben both love the boy in the coffin, whom they call "their prince".
But the prince in the coffin isn't the only fae they know. Ben's best friend, Jack, is a changeling. He was left in place of a baby named Carter, and when Carter's mother noticed the switch (which was pretty much immediately), she did what was necessary to get Carter back. But instead of returning Jack to his fae mother, Carter's mom defiantly kept both boys, raising them as brothers.
When the crystal coffin is shattered and the horned boy vanishes, everything changes.
Holly Black's books are not for people, young or old alike, who are not willing to look at the darkness that exists in everyone. She understands that everyone has secrets, some more dangerous than others, and that some of the most awful lies are the ones we tell ourselves. When I was a teacher, I often saw the disparity between what parents thought their kids were up to and what said kids actually did; it wasn't always pretty. Holly Black lets us see some of the bleaker sides of being a teenager, and how an inability to communicate easily can make a situation tumble from bad to worse in a heartbeat.
She also challenges her readers to accept situations they may not be comfortable with. Hazel's defiance of gender stereotyping by her need to be the knight, Ben's gayness, Jack's "otherness" that sets him apart, Hazel and Ben's parents' bohemian lifestyle that sounds like fun but had very dark repercussions, and all the messy relationships that happen simply because people are people, these are all the things that Ms. Black handles deftly and compassionately without being condescending or preachy, both of which are unfortunately easy to do.
Last year, Amber and Yasmine Galenorn both insisted that I read Holly Black's book The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and that got me hooked. Holly Black tells one heck of a good story, and The Darkest Part of the Forest is every bit as good. I know I didn't want it to end!
Roots, ties, a general sense of belonging – things Lois Lane never really experienced before; as an Army brat her family moved around too much for these bonds to form. But now in Metropolis, she is weaving her life into the larger tapestry of the city and trying to make it better. But it has been two weeks since her and her friends on the Daily Scoop (the teen version of The Daily Plant) exposed the corrupt gaming company and their unauthorized experiment on her classmates… and Lois is chafing at having to work on a puff piece for the paper. Spotlighting the work an artist and classmate is doing to trying and revitalize a neighborhood everyone has given up on. But you never know when a story will find you! During Lois’s interview, her best friend’s twin sister (The Queen Bee of her high school – the twin, not Lois’s friend) steps out of a cab and collapses on the sidewalk. She’s looking for a doctor who sampled her DNA two years before, gave her a syringe full of something and told her to be on the lookout for some rather oddly specific side effects. This chance encounter leads to a frame job, a mad scientist, mobsters and Lois’s second big story for her editor!
I devoured this book in one sitting! I don’t know how Bond does it, but she takes thrilling comic book-esque plots - novelizes them - and makes them feel plausible. Double Down is a well plotted fast paced mystery which does not rely on the comic canon in order to make it work – which is really is a great feature. So you don’t have to have read extensively (or any at all for that matter) in the comic realm in order to understand what’s going on (I’m not sure if you get more out of the books or not – as I fall into the former group). Bond does really well in making Lois into her own person, without being lost in the shadow of Superman and the issue of really how did a pair of glasses disguise Clark Kent’s alter ego so well?
But this series starts before she is an ace reporter for The Daily Planet – right now she is sixteen and trying to cut her teeth in the newspaper business – while trying to figure out what is means to belong somewhere. Superman is present as well in the series – but once again before the cape and spandex come out of the closet. Right now he is her semi-mysterious (as he will tell her many things, but not his name) online friend…
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading Double Down and Fallout! These are fantastic mysteries which stand on their own merit. If you have a reluctant girl reader who likes any of the comic book based shows – Smallville, Green Arrow or The Flash, I think this would be a great series for them, or for someone looking for books in a similar vein. I would recommend these two books to them without any hesitation!
This book came in our quarterly box of upcoming and new books, which coincidentally corresponded with me finishing the book I was reading at work - and hadn’t brought any back-up reading material with me for this eventuality. Otherwise I don’t think I would have ever picked up this book on my own.
I would have missed out on a great mystery if the planets hadn’t aligned just right that day.
Gwenda Bond’s Fallout is the start of a new YA mystery series which among other things tells us how Lois Lane becomes Lois Lane star reporter for the Daily Planet. Yes that Lois Lane, the girl who was fooled by a simple pair of glass on Clark Kent’s face missing the fact he was the ater-ego for Superman.
Now don’t tune me out.
Fallout takes us back to Lois Lane’s high school days (it is set in the present day-ish). Her father has retired from the Army and the family has moved to Metropolis where they plan to put down roots. Lois’s plan is to fly under the radar and stay out of trouble….for once. Not that her previous troubles were exactly her fault, some people need defending and injustices examined. But as they say the best laid plans of mice and men…
When she witnesses a classmate being seriously bullied and the school administration doing nothing to stop it, Lois cannot help but leap in to the fray to right this wrong. She drags along her new cohorts on the newspaper staff into things and begins investigating. She quickly uncovers a much larger conspiracy at work implicating one of the largest tech firms in Metropolis, one her father is interviewing with, which means she has to pull out her secret weapon, an online friend she knows only as SmallvilleGuy, who is very good with computers and tracking down information – well, with his help, she might just stand a chance of figuring out what‘s going on!
This was a great read. Seriously. If you replaced all the names in the book to generic ones like Tom, Dick and Jane - the mystery itself would still be outstanding. It does not rely on the Superman and Lois Lane canon in order to make the plot work. Bond does what any first book does and introduces you to the characters just as if they were brand new, so an extensive background in the comics isn’t required in order to understand what’s going on.
While extensive knowledge isn’t needed, a little basic knowledge of who Lois Lane and SmallvilleGuy grow up to be is helpful and adds to the narrative. Lois has never met Clark Kent - she only knows him by his online handle SmallvilleGuy - but we as readers know who SmallvilleGuy is. Bond cleverly uses our general cultural knowledge of these two characters to her advantage - it sucks all the creepiness out of the online exchanges between the two, which might have threatened to overwhelm the book, since it is not out of the realm of possiblility that he is an online stalker named Biff three towns over who is trying to goom her for…..well, things that are unpleasant to think about.
This is a YA novel I would recommend to anyone 14 years and older, generally speaking. It feels like it has more of a female lean (as there is just a bit of romantic tension). Not a book – probably – for a serious comic book reader, but fun for someone who is looking for a strong independent female lead reminiscent of Veronica Mars or Buffy. This is a great mystery and I cannot wait until the next installment in the series is released!
I tend to avoid the big bestsellers, the blockbusters, because they don't need my push. (Granted, when some of my faves become big bestsellers and blockbusters, I'm still going to read them!) But once in a while, I give in to the hype and see if what's being said is really true. So I read Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy. And I loved it. I'm not going to say anything about the plot because I'm sure everyone on the planet knows the premise. But there's a reason that this series is so incredibly popular. It's well-written and it's thought-provoking and it's simply good! It does, in fact, have the expected plot points and cliches you might be anticipating. It's an underdog-teenager-tries-to-save-the-world-against-all-odds story, so you know where it's headed before you pick up the first book. And because our heroine, Katniss, is a teenager and has an entire world's worth of teenage angst, anger and willful pig-headed stubborness. But here's what makes it special. Collins doesn't soften things up. This is not a pretty world and very, very bad things happen to good people. This is not a sparkly or resolutely cheerful series. The trilogy is permeated with people doing the best they can with what they've got. Some of the good guys aren't as good as we'd like, and some of the bad guys have a touch of honor that surprises. And Collins makes some realistic and painfully hard choices. Not all the good guys win, not all the bad guys are brought to justice. People whom we've invested in are damaged and killed. There's a lot that is not easy to read because it is harsh and brutal. And that's what makes this such an amazing series. I read The Hunger Games on Friday, Catching Fire on Saturday and Mockingjay on Sunday. These are fast-paced, well-written and engrossing books. I did find Mockingjay to be the weakest, but by that time I was so invested that I didn't mind. These are marketed as YA (Young Adult) books, but honestly, I think anyone who enjoys futuristic dystopian literature will like them.
It’s inevitable, I suppose, that people will compare Mercedes Lackey’s new series beginning with Hunter to The Hunger Games, and it’s true, on a superficial level, they have a lot in common. Post-apocalypse living, a girl with special talents going from living in the back of beyond to the center of civilization to prove herself.
But where The Hunger Games were great, rambunctious fun (and make no mistake, I thoroughly enjoyed them!), Hunter is more complex, more meaty, more subtle and I suspect it won’t be wrapped up in a trilogy. Mercedes Lackey has built a great world, and it would be a shame to limit it to just a few books.
Joyeaux Charmand is a Hunter. After the Diseray, the change of the old world into the current one, Othersiders broke through and took over our world, bringing all the old stories from myth and fairy tale to life, and flooding the world with magic. But they also loosed the Hounds, otherworldly creatures that can bond to a person, become partners in a very real way, and the Hounds are dedicated to hunting down Othersiders.
Joy grew up on a mountain in what was the Rockies, and she was trained by the best Masters of all disciplines. But life on the Mountain isn’t known to those who live in Apex and to stay undetected, a Hunter needs to be sent from the surrounding neighborhoods; it’s been a long time since one has come from this quadrant, and people are beginning to wonder what’s up. Joy is chosen to go to Apex since all Hunters are required to report there; besides, her Uncle is very high in the government, and he wants her near him.
Obviously there are troubles and turmoil, political machinations and all kinds of action. But there’s a subtle and powerful message that Ms. Lackey is interweaving in her story about the nature of friendship, of trust, of duty that makes Hunter the beginning of what I suspect will be a powerful, possibly classic, series.
Hunter isn’t a great book. It’s a very good book. But I think the series is going to be epic.
Years ago the barrier between our world and another weakened - to the point that what was on the other side was able to cross over into ours - and it’s never fluffy bunnies, unicorns or rainbows which make the trek. No, it is always monsters, and these have very big teeth, magic and really seem to enjoy killing us.
But whatever looks out for us humans - be it god, a giant crocodile or Great Panjandrum - gave humans a bit of magic of their own to wield in defense of a crumbling world. The magic comes in the form of spirit hounds. Only a small percentage of people can call hounds, but if they are able to summon a pack (2-8) their lives are irrevocably changed. They are trained to become Hunters, people who seek out and destroy the horrors which now inhabit our world.
Joyeaux Charmand is one such Hunter. Her parents were killed in an “Otherside Incident” when she was very young. Her only living relative is an Uncle, a Prefect for the Apex (very important) and he’s sent for her…. and when Apex and the police call, you have little choice but to go. When she arrives in Apex she discovers Hunters are treated far differently in Apex than at home. Here, they are the height of celebrity, they spawn fandoms and their lives & hunts are constantly streamed to for the population to watch. But what Joyeaux finds most disturbing is the fact that Apex’s population is being lied to, and Hunters are inadvertently part of the conspiracy. Which she slowly discovers is much bigger than she initially realized.
This book is good. There is a lot to learn about in a short amount of time (and my summary doesn’t do this book justice) and Lackey is a master in giving you a lot of information without boring her reader.
But what is most tantalizing about this book are the hints, small kernels of information, which Lackey places in the narrative which make you wonder what is coming next! What led to the barrier being weakened? Who are The Folk? How are the monsters getting through the barrier? Who tried to kill Joyeaux? Is her Uncle in danger? The questions go on and on. This is why I say Hunter is a good YA book - there is a lot of world building, the story is strong, but the world details edge it out by just a hair - but the next book I have a very strong suspicion will be excellent! However it will be one of those things that you will have to start on the ground floor and read Hunter first to know/understand exactly what it going on.
Now don’t get me wrong, while the book places these small kernels for you to wonder, agonize and theorize over, the main storyline of the book is wrapped up in a satisfactory way so the book didn’t leave me with a hollow empty feeling when I finished. It just made me VERY keen to know what happens next!
*BTW - I have tried to read Lackey many times over the years and this is the very first book by her which I have really enjoyed read (aka finished)! If this helps at all!
Joy having survived her elite trials is now part of the team being sent out to fight the bigger and badder monsters (sometimes with enough numers to assult whole towns) which the ordinary hunters are ill equiped to handle. On top of that her Uncle has aked her to patrol Apex’s sewers in city center – as creatures are penetrating farther and farther into the city and normal patrols are no match for them. And this knowledge must be kept away from the ordinary citizens or chaos would break loose….Then there’s Ace, the former hunter who tried to kill Joy and who is now working with the army as a mage (since his hounds rejected him and joined Joy’s pack) and while he’s on a short leash there is still a good chance Joy could run into him and he’d try and kill her again.
AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! This is a great book! Lackey does a great job of peeling a few more layers off of the mystery while adding extra layers on to them!!!! So in the end you are left with just as many questions as you started with - perhaps more refined and specific questions…..but full answers are frustratingly elusive! Which has me absolutly chomping at the bit or frothing at the mouth (depending on the time of day) in frustration of having to wait a whole ‘nother year for perhaps a few more answers?!
In Elite Lackey gives us a good idea of who is playing the long game with Joy and her Uncle. Who MIGHT have driven Ace insane and gave him the information on how to kill Joy during her elite trials. Plus we meet our Lavender clad Folk Wizard again (he was our first contact with the Folk in Hunter – when she was coming to Apex on the train), who has some unknown machinations of his own regarding Joy. If this wan’t enough, Joy keeps finding dead Psimons in the sewers during her patrols – and with the rivalry between the two corps Joy begins to worry she will be accused of killing them. And then things really blow up…..
We said last year that Hunter was a good book; Lackey focused on the world building in the first installment so you’d have a good understanding of post Dissaray earth, where everything you’ve every read in fantasy books seems to have come to life and really, really likes eating people. And like we said last year, we knew Elite would be a great book, and Lackey did not diabuse us of this notion! By not giving us the easy payoff of full explanations right off the bat, Lackey masterfully leaves us eager to turn every page and insanely curious to know where Joy’s life, the Elite, Apex and the Folk are heading next.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes reading urban fantasy. Technically it is a YA book, but it doesn’t feel like it. The only reason it would be categorized as so is because our heroine is in her late teens and while the book has violence in it, it is not ultra graphic. Lackey does a great job balancing on the knife edge of giving you just enough description your imagination fills in the gaps while not having a book which drips blood just by picking it up the violence is so detailed. You have to read Hunter before starting Elite – otherwise the nuances will be lost on you and the politics will make little sense. But I think this investment of time in these books is highly worth while as they are a fun, fantastic and wonderful read!
This perhaps is my all time favorite middle book in any trilogy! In any trilogy the middle book is most often the trickiest book to put together as it needs to pull in shenanigans from the first novel and begin the mechanisms for the last ultimate ending to the series. Usually the middle book is the weakest of the three due to all work and plot lines it needs to tie together. However with Lirael Nix does a wonderful job of introducing two new characters whose back story is firmly enmeshed within the already established world. Which allows for the creation of a very strong narrative which doesn’t fall into the middle book trap that so many do!
When we first meet Lirael, she is turning fourteen and is completely despondent. She is one of the Clayr, who are the seers of the Old Kingdom. The sight comes on at varying ages for the Clayr - however Lirael is now the oldest girl (living in the children’s wing & the oldest she knows of) who hasn’t received her gift yet. It doesn’t help that she looks nothing like the other Clayr, which only intensifies her feelings of not belonging. So in a fit of despondency she decides to throw herself off the top of the glacier (it is above where the Clayr live). While on top of the glacier she accidentally witnesses a meeting…. and this quirk of fate changes the direction of her life.
Then we meet Prince Sameth, or should I say reluctant Prince Sam, who is expected to take up his mother’s bells and become her apprentice. These bells help her (the Abhorsen, which is her title) send the dead back into death, combats necromancers who raise the dead and fights free magic mages which plague the Old Kingdom. The only issue is Sam is literally petrified of this prospect! Having gone into death once on his own - in order to save his school’s cricket team - he encountered a necromancer who is waiting to enslave him. So when Sam’s friend Nick crosses into the Old Kingdom without waiting for him (Nick doesn’t believe in magic - which doesn’t matter as it will try to kill you weather you believe in it or not) - Sam decides to go after Nick to keep him safe. Which is in no way like running away from your problems, nope it sure isn’t!
When these two meet by chance many things soon become clear - something evil is waking in the Old Kingdom, Nick somehow in the thick of the Old Kingdom’s troubles and one way or another Lirael & Sam must figure out what’s really going on and how to defeat it.
This series has been around for twenty years and still is one of my all time favorites! Lirael in particular is my favorite of the series, the other books are great as well - but this one just stands out just a bit more for me. I love Lirael, her struggles and the adventures with her companions. While you do need to start with Sabriel, the first book in the series - you have something to look forward to when you read the next two books - as Lirael is heavily featured. Which is a wonderful thing!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone 12+ looking for a great fantasy/mystery which is like nothing I have really read before or since. Seriously if you haven’t read it yet you really are missing out on something special.
Even more exciting? Nix, after taking a significant break from the Old Kingdom universe, has delved back in! Last year he wrote a prequel to the original series called Clariel, which gives us the origins to a significant villain we meet in the original trilogy. Even more exciting? On October 11th Nix is releasing Goldenhand - which is set six months after the ending of Abhorsen - and features Lirael on a whole new adventure investigating a whole new mystery!!!! I cannot wait!
Sadly, oh so sadly, this is the final book in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger - and boy does it go out with a bang!
Sophronia is not sure whom she can trust especially since her beloved Soap - the only one she could really trust - is gone. Trust issues shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since she attends a school which turns out finely mannered female intelligencers into society (think spies). But when doubt is cast upon even those closest to her, Sophronia find herself in alignment with those she never thought possible. All in order to thwart the Picklemen’s ultimate scheme - to overthrow Queen and country.
This book does a fantastic job in bringing this series to an end. It is full of sassy humor, great wit and some exemplary action! To my delight it also firmly (and finally) places itself) within the timeline in the world which Carriger has created! I am completely satisfied with the ending, she left a few threads she could tug on later should she decide to place Sophronia and her friends in other works (as she has already). But otherwise she gives us a firm and very satisfying end to this great series.
Now should you wish to read this book you do need to start with the first - as the fourth/last book will make little sense otherwise. Etiquette & Espionage is the first book (FYI it is the weakest of the four books - its good - but the other books are Great- but you need to read it in order to understand all the nuances of what is going on). Which is a great segue way into her Soulless series (which is even funnier) and then the Parasol Protectorate (which you do need to read the Soulless series before tackeling- it just will make way more sense if you do!). Then you will be well versed in the fantastic steam punk Victorian world which Carriger has created for us.
My only regret is it took me this long to read it! But I saved it for a rainy day - and boy did it really save it from becoming gloomy!
Cat Morland is ready for an adventure. She’s read so many novels about heroes and heroines performing daring feats and surviving great hardships, Cat’s worried she will never have her chance to face the same sort of challenges. But a lucky star shines on her, to her delight the Allens invite her to accompany them to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Cat is beside herself with excitement: books, theater and fun, who could ask for more?
It is here that she meets Bella Thorpe and Henry Tilney and where her adventures begin.
I must confess, Northanger Abbey was one of the few Jane Austen novels I hadn’t managed to read previously. However when Fran mentioned she’d received an advanced reader of a new novel by Val McDermid based on this classic it gave me the final push, more like gentle nudge, to read it so I read them back to back. I have to say McDermid did a fantastic job in updating this classic. I have not read any of the Jane Austen pastiches which holds a candle to McDermid‘s version.
One key to this book’s success is McDermid, while updating the language style of the original kept many of the words and turns of phrase from the original. This helped to create a solid foundation for the book and created an authentic feel in the new version. McDermid also kept the short chapter structure of the original as well, which helps amplify the tension in both versions.
Another great thing was that she took very few liberties with the original text -- there are no zombies, ghosts or Cat wearing hot pants and worshiping the Kardashians. Thank goodness! There is only one major departure to speak of from the Austen original, which is instead of going to Bath Cat goes to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which revolves around the arts and completely works for the story. Plus the fact that McDermid is Scottish and is describing (what I am assuming) a city she’s been to many times, helps to lend extra authenticity to her descriptions of the city.
A very minor detail which I will pick at is the novels McDermid used in her version. There are the eight novels mentioned in Austen’s version, where Catherine pulls her romantic notions from; The Mystery of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe is by far the most well known. The other seven (often called the Northanger Horrid Novels) became so obscure that experts thought them to be fictional, until they were rediscovered and reprinted in the 1960‘s. However in the new version of Northanger Abbey only one of novels used is a real book (I looked and couldn’t find the novels McDermid referenced). While I understand why this might have been done, to keep the book from becoming dated or legal issues. I think there is some really great YA fiction out there that using real titles would not have been amiss. But all in all, this such a small detail of the story it really doesn’t effect the quality in the least. I just love YA fiction, as you well know, and would have loved to see the choices McDermid would have made to round out Cat‘s reading list.
The reworked Northanger Abbey is part of The Austen Project which takes modern bestselling authors and asks them to rework one of Austen’s classic novels. Last year Joanna Trollope penned her version of Sense and Sensibility (which I must go out and read now…) and Curtis Sittenfeld is reworking Pride and Prejudice which will be out this fall; leaving Emma and Persuasion (couldn’t find info on their authors) for publication, I am assuming, next year. I will be interested in taking a crack at these other titles and see how their authors confront their versions.
I cannot stress how lovely I think Val McDermid’s version of this classic is! I would recommend this book to anyone who has an open mind about reading pastiches. Or to any teen who is looking to cut her teeth into a classic but is a bit to intimidated to try the original text. This book is a great stepping stone to allow a shy reader to gain confidence before taking the next step and reading the book Austen penned herself.
Update: This is not a Pastiche - it is a read alike.
Moria and Ashyn are sixteen year old identical twins who’ve finally assumed the full responsibilities of being the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood. Meaning they must keep the spirits happy and put their mortal coils to rest in the mysterious Forest of the Dead - where criminals are exiled for their crimes (capital punishment having been outlawed). This is Ashyn’s first year venturing into The Forest to lay souls to rest….and something goes very wrong.
This book is a fast-paced adventure/mystery which was fun to devour in one sitting! The author has done a great job in creating a new world, creatures, roles and an interesting back story I would love to know more about., keeping the book fresh and appealing, since it is never mired down in trying to explain why this book is different than all the rest (think of the plethora of vampire, werewolf and ghost novels out there). The other feature I loved about this book is the fact it is simply well written - Armstrong does a great job in writing, which allow the reader to gloss over any possible (and minor) issues with the plot (there really is only one minor issue I have with the plot - why she decided to split the twins up in their flight from Edgewood), but again the writing is so good I can overlook this and still thoroughly enjoy the book.
I would recommend this book for any female, or open minded male, ages fourteen and up (as there is a fair amount of violence).
Kelley Armstrong has taken the urban fantasy world by storm; she's a Big Deal in the vampire world. And her non-fantastical Nadia Stafford series about a great hit-woman are well-known to be some of my favorites.
Now Ms. Armstrong is tackling the Young Adult world with this first in a trilogy, Sea of Shadows and it's obvious she's going to have another bestselling series on her hands.
Twin sisters, Moria and Ashyn, have just turned sixteen and are ready to take up their official roles, Moria as Keeper, Ashyn as Seeker, in their village of Edgewood, which guards the Forest of the Dead. They are charged with helping the spirits that surround them, and once a year, the spirits in the Forest must be attended to. Paired with their bond-beasts, they're nervous but ready. After all, they've been trained, and while there's some danger, it should be fine.
Except this year, things go horribly wrong. And the first steps are taken in what may be a catastrophe from which no one may escape, with Moria and Ashyn unwillingly thrown into the forefront.
Kelley Armstrong is second to none in her ability to build tension and throw twists into her stories. She's unafraid of doing the hard thing, and that kept me reading well into the night. Her style is smooth and easy, but her story is complex and her characters are vivid and compelling. I can't wait to see what happens next! This is a series that will appeal to all ages and both genders, since there are some very strong male figures as well as the twin sisters we're following. And I'm really looking forward to seeing just how deep the bonds go between Moria and her wildcat, Daigo, and Ashyn and her giant hound, Tova. I suspect we haven't seen just what these two beasts are capable of yet, and that's going to be exciting!
David was eight (ish) when Calamity came, a burst in the sky which gave extraordinary powers to ordinary people. These were the powers we had only ever dreamed of in comic books, where super heroes and villains vied for power. And more often than not, the heroes won the day.
Only the heroes never came.
Instead, the government signed the Capitulation Act, basically saying no epic would ever be prosecuted for any crime they committed. And slowly over the next ten years the world was carved into small fiefdoms ruled by the smartest (or cleverest) epic, for as long as they could defend their territory. One of the strongest epics in the world is Steelheart; an epic who rules Newcago through fear and intimidation (to be fair, there is no benevolent epic ruler). Steelheart is an epic whose skin is impervious, has the strength of ten men, turn things to steel and wield energy…in other word is invincible.
The government gave up and no one ever fights back. Except the Reckoners.
The Reckoners are a shadowy group which hunts down epics and assassinates them. Because all epics have a flaw, an Achilles heel so to speak. The problem, they are often simple, very esoteric and difficult to unravel.
It has been ten years since the fateful day in the bank, when David’s father was murdered by Steelheart. For ten years David has been studying, planning, assessing the best way to assassinate Steelheart and his minions.
David knows something that all the others who have faced him have not…he has seen Steelheart bleed, and plans to make him do so again.
This is an absolutely FANTASTIC book. I cannot say enough good things about it. It is a smart action-filled story which never drags or moralizes the situations the characters find themselves in.
This is the first book in what will probably become a trilogy, and it starts off with a bang. I enjoyed following the mystery, what made Steelheart bleed? What is his weakness and how can it be exploited to maximum effect? Who exactly are the Reckoners and can they be trusted?
It is a well-thought-out and plotted book; the author does a great job in resolving the mysteries in the first book while hinting and what may/will come in subsequent books.
I cannot give exact details, as I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but trust me when I say this is a great book. I would recommend it for any male reader 13+ (or open minded girl as there are several strong females, but it is told exclusively from David’s pov) looking for a different kind of hero/super power book. You cannot go wrong.
Seven loyal drones who work in the mines and a hard earned reputation as the best cage fighter in the Station has afforded Essie solitude. For seven years she has worked hard, and has slowly etched out her own small patch on Thanda.
But like all good things….
One night while walking home Essie watches a shuttle streaking from the sky and crash in the flats. An illegal visitor… Essie decides to help get him on his way, lessening the chance government officials will notice him and come sniffing around the Station.
Essie wasn’t just looking for solitude on Thanda; she was hiding, and now someone has found her.
I could not put this book down. Funnily enough it is one of the most original books I have read so far this year. I say funnily, because it is based (very loosely) on the fairy tale “Snow White”. Lewis has re-imagined all the characters, politics and setting, creating a whole new concept for the story while keeping the essentials of the original fairy tale. Interestingly, knowing this book is based on “Snow White”, I could pick out the familiar elements of the story. However if you didn’t know this fact, it would read like a great suspense/action adventure novel which could stand on its own.
This book captured my attention from the start and would not let me go. I would recommend this book for any girl (or open minded boy as there is a strong male lead in it as well) twelve or older. I cannot stress how much I enjoyed reading this book!
Seriously Snow White in outer space with robots sounds like the punch line to a joke, I know, but it really works!
Robots! This book needs more robots!
Amber insisted I read Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis, and she was absolutely right. It’s a hugely fun book, and it’s going to be a great hit. I hope we’ll get signed copies, but even if we don’t, this is a book to watch for.
It’s being marketed as “Snow White goes sci-fi”, which is true, but it’s not the traditional story, so you might as well tuck that into the back of your mind and simply enjoy the story as is. Essie is living in a mining colony on the planet Thanda, hiding from her past. She’s a talented computer tech, and she’s updated seven mining drones, each with its own personality and talents.
When an interplanetary shuttle crashes near her shack, Essie and her seven drones save the pilot but his presence becomes a challenge to her. And when she’s kidnapped, Essie has only her wits and her computer knowledge to save her from her past, which includes a truly wicked stepmother.
Stitching Snow is a fairy tale, no doubt about it, and the Snow White references are obvious, but getting caught up in the classic fairy tale could cause you to miss some of the subtleties and much-changed dynamics in this new tale. R. C. Lewis addresses some troubling issues that are no part of the older tale, and she handles them with care and sensitivity while never slowing down an action-packed story.
But I want more robots, darn it, and I sincerely hope she writes a sequel where the seven drones play a much bigger part!
For the 10th anniversary of Twilight Meyer has re-published her original novel - then you flip the book over and you have the reimagined version called Life And Death, which is the original Twilight novel in which 98% of the character’s genders are reversed.
Meaning? Bella becomes Beau and Edward becomes Edythe. Life And Death is the same book as Twilight only told from Beau’s (male) point of view instead of Bella‘s (female) - just trying to be clear here. Why? In the introduction Meyer explains that she views Twilight as a book about the obsession/frenzy of first love - a story which she believes works for either sex - not just for the female point of view (BTW the gender swap is more pervasive than just Bella and Edward: it is Edward’s family, Jacob & the Wolves, teachers, Bella’s gaggle of school friends and the odd waiter - everyone except Bella‘s mom & dad have been swapped). But the big question here is does it really work?
Due to the rewrite Life And Death has a far more polished feel to it, this reimagining allowed Meyer to clean up all the clunky phrases, expand explanations and clear up any inconsistencies in the original text (since Twilight was the first book she ever wrote). The real differences lie in several key scenes which were altered due to the fact they wouldn’t work correctly with a male lead. But Meyer uses a deft hand in keeping the significance of the scene intact while altering the details to suit (don’t want to give too much away). Not bad, just different.
No one knows where the Wood came from. No one in the valley remembers a time when the Wood didn’t hunt people and envelop whole villages. But everyone knows that the Dragon (an old and powerful wizard) is the one who keeps the Wood at bay and in exchange he takes one girl every ten years to serve him in his tower. Agnieszka was born in a choosing year, but she feels very little fear of being chosen - because her best friend Kasia is the most accomplished girl in her year. Everyone knows Kasia will be the one to leave the valley - until the choosing day when the Dragon makes up his own mind on which girl to take.
It has been a very long time since I have read an epic fantasy novel (there are light mystery elements to it as well) and I am sure glad this was my first foray back into the genre. With aspects of Into The Woods and Beauty And The Beast this book is quickly rising into classic favorite status in my library. Coupled with a unique and well-imagined foe, wizard and chosen one, this book is an absolute joy to read!
Dense, well paced and complicated, I cannot properly explain how engrossed I became in the book. While this type of story, something along the lines of a fairy tale or legend isn’t new - Novik breaths new life into this story telling tradition. How? Well to begin with, there isn’t a single damsel in distress - everyone needs saving somewhere along the lines - witches, warriors, wizards and a Queen. No one type of character is left tied to the railroad track waiting for their knight in shining armor to save them. Secondly, not all of the foes which are encountered are supernatural and no one is truly shiningly good or utterly bad. You understand their motives and can related to what happened - making me feel connected to the people I was reading about. Lastly I enjoyed the fact each character evolved in their relationships with the other characters. No one was static (well except for those who died, but that isn’t unexpected) anyone and everyone who encountered the Wood never left the meeting unchanged.
It’s funny the more I like the book the harder it is for me to write about it! But trust me, this book is well worth your time and energy.
My 52 With Christie: A.Miner 2015