So in the month of July I read 25 books and I reviewed all of them. So here they are:
Graceling By Kristin Cashore **** – In a world where people born with an exceptional skill,
known as a Grace, are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her Uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to carry out his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him. Breaking arms and cutting off fingers are her stock-in-trade. Finding life under his rule increasingly unbearable, Katsa forms an underground Council whose purpose is to combat the destructive behaviour of the seven kings – after all, the Middluns is only one of the Seven Kingdoms, each of them ruled by their own king and his personal agenda for power. When the Council hears that the King of Liend’s father has been kidnapped Katsa investigates … and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap him, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced fighter who challenged her fighting skills, for the first time, as she and the Council rushed the old man to saftey? Something dark and deadly is rising in the north and creeping across the continent, and behind it all lurks the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king …
In Graceling, Cashore creates a world influenced by the politics of absolute monarchy. In this richly drawn story, we are introduced to rulers who are outright corrupt, malevolent, and self-serving. But in this world, they’re not the only figures to be feared for their power. Enter Gracelings. Gracelings are human, but they’re not ordinary creatures. Gracelings are born with extraordinary talents or abilities that make them unusually skilled in common professions or practices. Still, in the world of the Seven Kingdoms, Gracelings are not above their rulers. Gracelings deemed worthy for their skills are exploited by the kings and queens who own them. But in this story, we have a Graceling who defies her king by bringing justice to her land in secret.
Effectively imagined and eloquently told, this story examines abusive rulers and their exploitation of people, but even through this harsh reality, we are shown a sliver of freedom. In this story, the main characters choose who they care for and whether they want to exercise good principles or not. No matter what the restrictions are, no ruler has a real say in how someone should feel for another human being, and though this isn’t the only message in the book, for me, it’s the one that made the most impact.
Absent by Katie Williams **** – After seventeen-year-old Paige Wheeler dies in a freak
accident, she can’t figure out why her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. But when she discovers that she can possess the bodies of anyone thinking about her, she learns all her classmates think her death was intentional; a suicide. Paige is determined to prove her death was real, but that’s hard to do when you don’t exist. And even though Paige is certain she didn’t want to die, why can’t she remember anything about her fall?
Katie Williams second novel Absent was an amazing read. The opening pages debate what it is like to die. And it’s here we learn our protagonist Paige has died. The premise of this novel reminded me of a lot of other books I had read but with one key difference, Paige isn’t just dead – she can also possess the living. As a lover of all horror, thriller and paranormal books this book was right up my street.
The last 50 pages of this book were amazing with secret being revealed and truths being told. The ending of this book isn’t what I would call a happy ending but it has the makings of one. In the end it is for the reader to decide, some will see it as sad and depressing, others will see it as hopefully and full of life. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone that liked My heart and other black holes by Jasmine Warga or 13 reasons why by Jay Asher. This book is heart wrenching, lovely and everything you want in a sweet YA book.
Act of Treason by Frank Dickens **** – 1593. Under Queen Elizabeth’s reign, England is
ravished by the great plague tearing through the country. Religious turmoil, oppression and famine pose dangers in all corners of life.But amidst the chaos a story emerges which paints a new face on British history. George Bullen lives a comfortable but frugal life in London, widowed by the plague and working as a scribe for those unable to write themselves.With aspirations of becoming an author, perhaps selling stories to his old acquaintance Will Shakespeare, he is waiting for inspiration. When a hooded soldier appears, scarred and haggard, hunted by Queen Elizabeth’s men for reasons unknown, George becomes the safe-keeper of his tale. A member of the Duke of Norfolk’s illegal private army, his story begins with lost love and twists its way through death and war to uncover a horrifying secret of the Virgin Queen; a secret for which he will be killed.
This book is a historical novel centered around a outbreak of plauge, which has been done before but this book is told for the point of view of George Bullen in 1598 recording the events that have passed. Due to the time period the book is set in it does lean highly on religion at times, but this is normal for the period. This book is also where short at only 118 pages and makes for a very quick read, espeically for someone like myself who is used to reading books ranging in length from 400 – 600+ pages.
For lovers of historical fiction especially in the Shakespearean period this is definitely for you and I urge you to pick this book up. Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
The Last Time we Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand ***** – Since her brother, Tyler,
committed suicide, Lex has been trying to keep her grief locked away, and to forget about what happened that night. But as she starts putting her life, her family, and her friendships back together, Lex is haunted by a secret she hasn’t told anyone a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.
This is a hard review to write, just as I am sure that this was a hard book for the author to write. In a note at the end, Cynthia Hand talks about the suicide of her brother. Well, I’m inclined to believe that she successfully portrayed grieving her brother.
Quite simply, there is a lot to like about this book. It tugs on your heartstrings in its depiction of grief without using a high concept like that in If I Stay. It feels like a Cynthia Hand book: she made paranormal romance feel authentic and original despite its abundance when Unearthly was published. Writing about grief and suicide is not new, but she’s definitely made this feel authentic and emotionally poignant.
Breaking the Chains by Ioana Visan *** – All it took was one human to figure out how to
lend his guardian angel to another and now Lucifer “Lu” is left to try to fix the situation before it gets out of hand. With his pet human in tow, Lu begins an investigation like no other and sets out to stop the madness before other humans follow suit and interfere with his livelihood.
This book is an extremely short story at only 15 pages long. I liked the character but as you can imagine for such as short novel there wasn’t much in the way of backstory and/or character development. An amazing thing about this story was the cover, the author’s other works also have absolutely divine covers just like this one and I wish every book could have covers like these because they are gorgeous.
This review is obviously very short because there really isn’t much to work with but this did serve as a great appeatiser for the authors other works, and I can’t wait to get into some of those as soon as I can.
Steel, Blood & Fire by Allan Batchelder ***** – You are the greatest warrior ever known.
When kingdoms rise or fall, you are usually the reason why. But you also have the world’s most powerful enemies, and they are about to take a terrible vengeance…
Steel, Blood, & Fire by Allan Batchelder is an engaging epic fantasy novel that incorporates immortality, magic, and the nature of courage and war. There are many elements to keep track of, but it is a gripping tale. The opening pages to this novel where absolutely amazing, they caught me by the throat and kept me riveted to the pages. Each sentences evoked a new emotion; fear, anger, hated even. Not many novels can do this, and this makes Steel Blood & Fire an amazing novel to read.
The ending of this book tied up most of the loose ends very nicely but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered, like what happens to Long will he recover his voice, what of Long and Mardine’s baby, and finally what happens to Shere’s son who Anders altered? But the cliffhanger was great and I really hope I get to read the second book soon.
Eye Spy by Tessa Buckley **** – Over the course of ten days, the lives of thirteen-year-old
Alex Macintyre and his twin sister Donna will change forever… Alex and Donna live in the seaside town of Holcombe Bay with their father, a reclusive inventor, and their grandmother, a school dinner lady. When the twins set up Eye Spy Investigations in an attempt to earn some money, they become involved in the case of Kiki, a missing lap dog. On the trail of a potential dog-napping gang, they are soon investigating three suspects: a bag lady; a mysterious man in a fur hat; and the bikers who hang out at the Starship Café. But as they pursue their suspects, Alex begins to realise that there is a mystery in his own family involving the mother they never knew.
For the offset I loved the twins; Alex and Donna and their quirky sibling relationship. I also liked their dad as a character he is loving but distant at times especially when he is working on his many inventions. I also liked the fact this book is very short at less than 150 pages long, making it quick and easy for readers of all levels.
I loved how things worked out in the end, it was not exactly a happy ending and there were a few loose ends but there is the promise of a better, fuller life for the twins and their family. This was a warm fluffy novel with a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be recommending it to friends and family.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote *** – Controversial and compelling, In Cold
Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote’s comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote was published in 1966, and is based on events that happened almost fifty years ago. The events were real. This is not a work of fiction. The Clutters, an appropriately named Kansas family, have their own complications within their rambling homestead. What family doesn’t? Clutter the father is a farmer. Who isn’t in these parts? Life is not so productive of late. Whose is? The two younger children, a daughter and a son, still live in. The others have left, happily.
And this is where the book becomes deeply disturbing, because it seems to suggest that the individuality that contemporary society seems to demand of us might itself promote a degree of self-centredness, of selfishness, perhaps, that might give rise to nothing less than contempt for others. In the 40 years since the publication of In Cold Blood, it could be argued that such pressures might have increased. Frightening, indeed.
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner ***** -An epic, romantic YA
space opera about two star-crossed lovers who must fight for survival on a deserted planet. It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes – the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet but they won’t be the same people who landed on it.
These Broken Stars was… phenomenal! I dove right into it because I heard some say it felt like Titanic in space, and I love Titanic! While the beginning does feel a bit like that, the rest of the book is something entirely different. I feel like These Broken Stars is a recipe catered specifically for me. We have a star-crossed lovers thing going on, with two people from two different worlds. Combine that with space travel, other planets, alien lifeforms, and a heart-pounding romance, and you have one hell of a book!
I think the one thing I wasn’t totally sold on was something that happens near the end: when Lilac dies and then comes back to life.. or is “copied”? I think the whole thing put me off because I didn’t understand exactly what happened, and we still don’t know. Is this person actually Lilac? It’s hard to say, because her old body is still very much dead. It’s sort of like a clone of Lilac. I guess you could say it’s a “copied” body with Lilac’s soul inside? But I don’t know.. the whole thing was just so weird and I had a hard time coming to terms with it. Eventually I decided to try to forget that she died at all and just pretend that it never happened and that she’s still very much alive… Other than that minor complaint near the end, I absolutely adored this book! The romance was heart breakingly good and I can’t wait to spend more time with it in book 2!
Between Two Ends by David Ward **** – When Yeats and his parents visit his
grandmother’s creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats’s father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and the friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales. Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad–dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the margins of the stories–in order to save Shari and bring peace to his family.
I loved the action packed opening to this novel, although based on the slightly graphic opening I am not sure whether to classify this novel as middle grade or young adult, I personally think it lies in between the two genres somewhere.
I would actually like a prequel about William and Shari’s original adventure, but I also want to see more of Yeats and Shari and whether they will have more adventure with the pirate bookends and if they will meet Roland and Khan again. Overall this was an amazing novel that would be an enticing and entertaining read for readers young and old alike.
Tales From the Lake Volume 1 by Various Authors **** – Remember those dark and scary
nights spent telling ghost stories and other campfire stories? With the TALES FROM THE LAKE horror anthology, you can relive some of those memories by reading the best Dark Fiction stories around. From urban legends and ghosts, African witchdoctors / curses and living dolls, serial killers and seamonsters, to vengeful animals, demons wandering the earth, and the every day fight between good and evil, TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL.1 has it all. So dive into fourteen tales of horror, with short stories and dark poems by some of the best horror writers in the world, including a story by the master himself, Graham Masterton.
Tales from the lake is a compliation of water/lake themed stories, these vary in genre, although Crystal Lake Publishing is known for its horror novels and sotry compliations. I won’t normally read short stories like this as I find them to be flat and lifeless but these stories are considerably well fleshed out.
Overall my favourite stories in this anthology were: Devil Dolls, Alternative Muses and O’Halloran’s because they were all unique and exciting stories that I really wanted to continue on with and I loved their writing style, narrative voice and pace and all would make amazing novellas or novels.
Cinders by V. M. Sawh ***** – As a slave in the bawdy Black House, Rella longs to escape
the whips and chains of her existence. She is chosen for a dangerous mission and offered a chance at freedom. There is only one condition: first she must assassinate the Prince. “Death by god or death by man… but never as a sister of the Black House!”
V. M. Sawh’s retelling of some of the classic fairytales like Cinderella are amazing. They are beautifully writing and slightly dark breathing new life into stories that have been told for decades.
Retellings of fairytales are one of my favourite kinds of stories to read and the only down side to the story was it just wasn’t long enough for me. I would have loved to have gone more in Rella’s background and she how she came to be at the Black House and the trails and struggles she had to go through before this one. But overall this story was amazing and I hope we see a full length novel or even a novella fro
m this author soon.
Anastasia by V. M. Sawh **** – Unlike Cinders this short story is set in the 1600’s in Eastern Europe which is something different for me as I usually steer clear of historical novels as I can never get into them or they seem to go on for hundreds of pages with little or no drama or plot twists.
I loved how in the end the Prince teaches Anna to love as Rella taught him, and her journey of the Black House ends with a boat as it started with one. Although her journey through life has just begun and begins with going home.
Hontas by V. M. Sawh ***** – In this rip-roaring Wild West adventure, intrepid bounty
hunters Pocahontas and John embark on a dangerous mission to stop a train run by a sadistic, slave-driving madman.
As you can probably tell from the title this story is a retelling on Pocahontas. The story like Anastasia is a historical setting during the 1800’s in Western Wyoming. In this story Hontas and John are bounty hunters of sorts trying to destroy a man and his train, for a huge sum of money.
Overall this is my favourite story in the series because Pocahontas was my favourite Disney princess and still is to this day so it doesn’t matter who writes the words as long as they are a good, well formed, exciting retelling of my favourite lady.
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner ****
– Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents. Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood, and he is determined to avenge the children who were let down by the terraforming corporations. When he catches Lee, he returns to base with her as prisoner, but as the rebels plan her execution, Flynn gets second thoughts. He and Lee quickly escape together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.
This Shattered World is the second in the original Starbound series by this outstanding duo. The novel features two new characters but also ties into the first novel, These Broken Stars. which saw the wealthy Lilac LaRoux and soldier Tarver Merendsen thrown together after they crash land on a mysterious planet.
This Shattered World is another fine novel by this amazing triology. Fans of science fiction will find a compelling mixture of romance, suspense and action. I can’t wait for the next novel!
GR3T3L-1 by V. M. Sawh **** – When they are stranded on the surface of a hostile alien
world, two sentient robots H4NS3L-671, the military-minded combat drone, & GR3T3L-1, the advanced surveyor prototype, find themselves with neither memory nor mission.
This is the final book in the Good Tales for Bad Dreams series and it is a unique because it is the only book set in the future. This is book is set in the year 2136 and is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel.
Overall I loved this novel, and I would have loved to have gone into more detail and more background on more of the characters like Dr. Li and the other solider. I would love to find out why AI creation was against the law. I have so many question about the surroundings of this novel although I am extremely satified with the ending. I hope V. M. Sawh writes a full length novel someday or at least more of these wondergul short stories.
Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner ***** – Set in the same world a
s the Starbound series’ (Disney Hyperion) earlier hits but featuring new characters, this title is bound to be accessible and enjoyable to fans and new readers alike. A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to protect them from destruction. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck. Now, on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head.
Wow! What an amazing series conclusion Their Fractured Light was! It’s always a bittersweet experience reading and reviewing the final book in a series, especially if it’s one that’s as phenomenal as this one was. If you haven’t read thisintergalactic romance series yet, then read it, because you’re missing out on an action-packed, thrilling and romantic experience.
In the end, I thought Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner crafted a smart, brilliant and just plain enthralling series ending with Their Fractured Lightand I bow down to them for ending the book the way they did – I sincerely hope they co-write more books in the future. I can safely say that the Starbound Trilogy wasout of this world (pun intended!).
The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare **** – Think you know magic? Think
again. The Magisterium awaits . . . Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst – but fails at failing. Now he must enter the Magisterium. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning. Call’s biggest test is still to come . . .
I have read several other books by both of these authors and loved them, so I was really excited to start reading the Iron Trail – the first book in the Magisterium series – which at only 146 pages is relatively short considering some of Cassandra Clare’s’ books end up in the 600+ pages region.
Overall even though this novel is on the young side of YA it was great and I loved it. In some ways it was very reminiscent of Harry Potter but other than the fact its a story about a boy who wield magic they have nothing in common, the world, magic system and enemies are completely different. I have to say I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to recommend it to more people.
H.A.L.F: The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright ***** – H.A.L.F. (Human Alien Life Form) #9
is the product of genetic engineering, the union of human and alien DNA. Created to be a weapon in a secret war we don’t know is coming, he proved too powerful to control. He has lived for seventeen years in an underground lab, sedated and trained to be a cold-blooded killing machine. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the lab and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.
I loved the opening of this novel it was dark and mystery and possibly provides some background into what happens later in the novel, but for an opening chapter it did exactly what it was meant to do; it caught my attention and made me frantic to read on and find out what happens to the mystery inhuman baby.
I cannot wait to read more from these characters and find out more about the aliens and why they left Jack behind, so many mysteries. I can’t wait to dive into the second book and have my questions answered. For any sci-fi novel lovers, action novel lovers or military novel lovers or all of the above I highly recommend you pick this book up as soon as you can.
The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin ***** – It had to end sometime, but Mara
Dyer had no idea it would end like this. She wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told and she doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance, but with loyalties betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story. Retribution has arrived.
The Evolution of Mara Dyer ended on a wicked cliffhanger, and this book picks up right after. What I liked from the get-go is that now that Mara knows (or at least has a vague sketch) what happened to her (that she’s been manifested and watched by Dr. Kells and everything has been more or less staged since the asylum) she seems to have much more control over her situation. She’s done being afraid of her powers and of her psychological differences, and is ruthless when it comes to escaping and getting her life back and protecting those that she loves. The action begins with a rather gruesome scene and two murders (neither of which I was particularly sad about, considering how heinous Kells and her assistant were).
This book isn’t about fixing or saving anyone. At it’s core it’s about a group of people who through genetic abnormalities have been dealt a very different hand of cards than most other humans, and how they eventually have to learn to live with themselves and their powers- most of which live in that grey area between good and evil- and try to pursue a meaningful lif as they are, abnormalities and all.“I’ve done terrible things I regret and terrible things I don’t. But I don’t need to be fixed. I don’t need to be saved. I just have to keep going.”
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare **** – The Nephilim face extinction at the hands
of a half-demon warrior. Clary Fray finds herself wishing for her normal life back in New York now more than ever. She just wants things to be normal, but they can’t be, ever. Clary is a warrior for the Nephilim now, a race of fighters who are human-angel descendants. The Nephilim are under attack; war has been declared on their entire race. Clary’s stake in the war is kind of personal: her long-lost brother Sebastain, now half-demon, is the one who’s leading the fight. When he kidnaps Clary’s mother, Clary and her boyfriend Jace call upon their Nephilim comrades to help them rescue her mother.
I love that the Clary in this book is still every bit the Clary she was at the beginning of the series. She doesn’t really allow herself to be changed by love or loss, and that takes strength.
A petal in the Wind by Miko Johnston **** – May 1899: Luska, “almost eight”, lives with her
pregnant Mama and disabled Papa in a shtetl—one of the small villages that dot the Russian countryside. A clever and resourceful girl, she knows why everyone in her village worries about pogroms. But her parents’ teachings and whispered fears can’t prepare Luska for the coming horror, when the Cossacks destroy her shtetl, and everything, and everyone in it. By luck she is spared, but left orphaned, alone and with only a bundle of old clothes.
I loved the opening chapter to this novel, being introduced to a loving, warm family dynamic but also being introduced to some darker dangers as well. I also really liked the fact this book is set in Russia as I haven’t read many novels based in this countrty. For an novel this one is rather short at just over 200 pages long making it a fairly quick read.
I loved the ending of this book and how Luska made her physically, mental and emotional transformation into Lala heading to Bohemia with her new family. And even though she never forgets her real family she has them safely tucked away in her heart. Mike Johnston has planned to write a sequel to this book and I really hope I get the chance to review it when the time comes.
23. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare *** – Something terrifying is waiting for Tessa
Gray in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Tessa seeks refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Tessa finds herself fascinated by – and torn between – two best friends…
There’s something in this book for everyone. Vampires, Demons, Clockwork Men (made of cogs and springs, a primitive robot), Shape Shifters, Faeries, Evil Humans, and even Werewolves make a brief appearance. Not to mention a good story. These creatures make up the Downworlders, beings or persons who are in part supernatural in origin.
One last item: there are amazing things that happen in this book. Perhaps it helps that the characters find them amazing as well. The Shadowhunters may be hardened warriors but they don’t kill Vampires with a shrug such as one might expect from Abraham Van Helsing. And although they are as inventive as Captain Nemo, they do not seek riches or fame. The Shadowhunters are probably the last of the truly chivalrous combatants left in the world. They do not wear armor or ride fancy horses as in the days of Knights but they never stop and they never give up. Their level of dedication to fighting evil is truly inspirational. I hope you will read Clockwork Angel. I promise it’s a good ride.
24. Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne ***** – Evie, Amber and Lottie: three girls facing
down tough issues with the combined powers of friendship, feminism and cheesy snacks. Both hilarious and heart-rending, this is Evie’s no-holds-barred story of struggling to live a “normal” teen life in the grip of OCD, from the acclaimed author of The Manifesto on How to be Interesting.
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s nearly off her medication and starting at a new college -High School for Americans- and no one knows about her as the “girl who went crazy”. Evie is even making friends and going to parties. The last thing to be ticked off her list is going to be harder than she thought.
If you haven’t read “Am I Normal Yet?” yet, then I highly recommend you do. It’s a really good read and you will not regret it. Holly Bourne is an amazing author and I absolutely love all her works.
25. The Blackbird Singularity by Matt Wilven ***** – I am not posting the review for this
book until August 5th as part of the publishers’ blog tour for this book, even though I wrote the review in July.