“Down through the Way she fell, feeling the wind and the pressing darkness, the dizzy thump when she landed on the bank. She was through. The air felt softer here, the shadows deeper—and the pull of her connection to the land settled into her bones.”
In the Summerlands, time moves slowly, roots grow deeply, and change is not welcomed. But change is needed.
After defeating the wicked Mor and freeing her kin from deadly oaths made to this false ruler, Fer is now the rightful Lady of the land. Yet her people don’t know what to make of their new Lady’s strange ways, and neither do the High Ones, the rulers of the magical realm, for Fer is an outsider—half human.
To prove herself worthy of the Summerlands crown, Fer is summoned to compete in an epic contest where her strengths and skills will be tested and her loyalties challenged. Can she trust Rook, the puck she calls friend? Can she trust herself? If Fer fails, she will lose her land and the Way will be closed to her forever.
I’m trying to be better about reading series. I have a horrible time keeping track of when new books come out. Since I liked Winterling by Sarah Prineas so much, I was really pleased when I found the sequel Summerkin. I adore classic fairy tales and being a middle grade book, I knew Summerkin would be imaginative and adventurous. I had a few issues with it but I still enjoyed reading it.
What I Liked
Rook and Fer’s bees were my favorite characters. Rook is a mischievous puck and his friendship with Fer causes a lot of conflict with him. I loved all of the pucks really. The bees were really interesting and it was nice to see nature helping Fer in such a way.
The fairy folklore and law woven through the story is vastly fascinating. I’ve studied it a bit in my Pagan studies and especially find the law of three intriguing. (Being asked a question three times, swearing an oath three times, etc.) It was a pleasure seeing the fairy culture expanded in Summerkin and Prineas’ world building is exceptional.
What I Didn’t Like
It was predictable. When using the fairy tale theme in a novel, it’s best to change it up somehow and make it truly original. But I knew pretty much what was going to happen in Summerkin after a few chapters.
I could have done with some more character development. Rook gets most of the attention on that end and it leaves the other characters a little flat. As the main character, I would have liked more focus on Fer and her thoughts and we’re never given very much information on the bad guy. There are also a whole host of secondary characters that could have been amazing if given a little more attention. They end up as background scenery because they were no neglected.
Summerkin left me feeling a little bored and let down. I finished it but I wasn’t wowed and it lacked any punch. It’s filled with clichés and overused ‘pure-hearted maiden’ formulae that made the whole book predictable and Fer a little one-dimensional. Summerkin by Sarah Prineas was a comfortable magical read and gave a good hit of nostalgia to the heart but the plot was rote and the characters dull. It’s good for a lazy read but don’t expect anything exceptional.
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Published April 5th 2011 by Atheneum
Format: Paper Book
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magical, Historical
Goodreads | Amazon
Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she’s inherited her mother’s magical talents, and despite Stepmama’s stern objections, she’s determined to learn how to use them.
But with her eldest sister Elissa’s intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat’s reckless heroism will be tested to the upmost.
If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true love?
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis has been on my to read shelf for some time and it’s only recently that I’ve gotten off my butt enough to go through my backlog of books. I’m sorry I waited so long! Kat, Incorrigible is a middle grade book and has the same original and imaginative quality to it that I expect from really great middle grade books. There is a host of likeable characters, a spot of magic, and a plot that ended up being more than I expected.
What I Liked
The plot of Kat, Incorrigible surprised me with a bit more depth than I was expecting. The book has a type of Matilda feel to it and the introduction of the Guardians extended the plot further than I was assuming it would be. It took a book that might have been just merely cute and predictable into something with a bit more meat on its bones.
I liked all the characters. Everybody has depth to them and I didn’t feel as if I were reading about cardboard cutouts. Kat is hilarious, her sisters are spot on in their rolls and play an active part in the plot rather than just being there for scenery, and even the bad guys are awesome, in a mustache twirling type of way.
I liked the setting and timeline. I found the Victorian aspects of proper manners and dress to be interesting. It added to the plot without being stifling. Younger readers might not care for the focus but older readers will find it to be a good detail.
What I Didn’t Like
There are times where Kat seems kind of bumbling. I know she’s young, only twelve, but at times she sort of annoyed me. She makes up for it by being stubborn, feisty, and independent. The sisters aren’t much better sometimes. Elissa is insipid and needs a good whack and Angeline is so self-involved and arrogant that I want to kick her. There were times when I just wanted to start throwing things.
There is not enough information given about the magical system and the Guardians. We’re left kind of wondering what the big fuss is all about. I’m hoping the sequel corrects this and we learn more as Kat’s training starts.
The plot and dialogue are a little wandering. I found myself waiting for things to happen, especially at the beginning, and some conversations between the three sisters are rather like beating your head against the wall. Yes, it’s very “family” but it’s also annoying.
Middle grade books are often my favorite and Kat, Incorrigible is no exception. It was a quick and fun read at under 300 pages and made my Saturday afternoon very enjoyable with a cup of tea and a comfy chair. If you are looking for a magical adventure but don’t want anything too heavy, than this novel is what you are looking for. There is nothing ground breaking but Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis is a great weekend read nonetheless.
“One woman’s story as she blogs – and fights back – the zombie apocalypse”
Allison Hewitt and her five colleagues at the Brooks and Peabody Bookstore are trapped together when the zombie outbreak hits. Allison reaches out for help through her blog, writing on her laptop and utilizing the military’s emergency wireless network (SNET). It may also be her only chance to reach her mother. But as the reality of their situation sinks in, Allison’s blog becomes a harrowing account of her edge-of-the-seat adventures (with some witty sarcasm thrown in) as she and her companions fight their way through ravenous zombies and sometimes even more dangerous humans.
I probably shouldn’t read zombie novels. They apparently give me nightmares, even the slightly humorous zombie novels. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux is a novel about the zombie apocalypse as told through one young woman’s eyes. Allison is a normal person and she’s just trying to survive as her world is turned on its head and the dead walk around munching brains. It’s less Resident Evil and more The Walking Dead like. (Neither of which I can watch because I gross out easily.) Allison doesn’t go off in some epic journey to find the source of the zombie infestation and put an end to it. Nope; Allison is just trying to survive and that makes Allison Hewitt is Trapped a relatable read.
What I Liked
Surprisingly, I liked the format. I’ve ranted about epistolary novels before (I find letters severely limiting and very boring.) but the blog entries read so closely to normal first person POV that it didn’t bother me and the added comments from other survivors were interesting.
Roux doesn’t pull any punches. People die. People go crazy. People are nasty. People betray each other at the blink of an eye. Allison takes justice into her own hands and her world is very much survival of the fittest. Allison kills people, not just zombies. It can be painful to read sometimes. Society goes to shit very fast.
Good mix of secondary characters that we both love and hate. Not all the ‘good people’ make it and the cast changed through the story so we get a new set of secondary characters with every location shift. We see a lot of different people and see the many different ways in which they react to the zombie apocalypse.
This may seem stupid to everyone else, but I like how Roux dealt with the sanitary aspects of the end of the world. There is no more running water. Allison and her crew stink and they know it. They have to deal with the not functioning toilets. A lot of other zombie novels gloss over that and I like that Roux didn’t do that. It’s uncomfortable and gross but it’s a part of reality. I like seeing those mundane little details that make the story so much more believable, instead of everyone suddenly no longer needing to pee.
What I Didn’t Like
I want to punch the guy in the end letter. Way to miss the point, you ass. This is how real people survived and what they had to go through. You have no right to turn your nose up now that you’re safe and can indulge your self-righteous morals after the fact.
Allison is an adult, in her middle 20’s, and the novel is rated for adults, not YA readers. I don’t know if I’m just too used to reading YA novels, but Allison doesn’t come off as being that old. She sounds like a teen, 18 or possibly 19 years of age. Which makes the so-called romance between her and Colin weird at best and a little gross as worst. It just doesn’t mesh.
Not a bad zombie novel, all things considered. There is a blurb for the sequel at the end, Sadie Walker is Stranded, that seems even better and I will definitely be reading it, nightmares or not. Allison Hewitt is Trapped was a wild ride and I’m glad I picked it up. I love the cover, the format worked for me, and I liked the characters. It’s rated adult just for violence and other nasty business both zombie and human but I think a mature teen could handle it. A fan of zombie novels should definitely pick it up. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux will make a good addition to their collection. Zombie squirrels, everybody. That’s all I’m saying.
First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.
After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.
Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
I usually don’t read dystopian and post-apocalyptic books. It’s a big genre and really popular but they’ve never been my cup of tea, as they say. Other reviewers and bloggers seem to absolutely love them but I’ve always been leery of picking them up. I think it’s because our society is just one sideways sneeze away from being just like the ruined civilizations in those books and having human nature thrust into my face in all its nasty glory like that make me uncomfortable. So, it’s understandable that I had trouble getting into Orleans by Sherri L. Smith. I’m probably not the best person to be reviewing this book, so I urge you to make your own decision on Orleans and pick it up, especially if you like dystopia but want to get away from a few of the worst YA clichés.
Things I Liked
Wow. The world building is awesome. Orleans is detailed and disturbing. It has a Lord of the Flies vibe to it. [I hated the Lord of the Flies in high school. Scary ass little book.] The entire world of the Delta felt rich and startling.
Double thumbs up for having a non-white protagonist. The whole world of Orleans and the Delta is full of diverse ethnicities and it’s awesome to see such a varied cast when most YA books have a strictly Caucasian cast or only minor characters with a non-white race. I feel cheesy and very ‘privileged middle class white person’ for saying this, but it’s awesome to see.
There is no romance. Fen and Daniel never see each other as sexual beings and thus we are spared that YA cliché. I think it’s because Fen is a teenager and Daniel is in his early 20’s. It’s hard to tell because Fen does not ‘sound’ like a teen and I initially had her pegged as older than she is, somewhere in her early 20’s. It’s hard to tell with them because Fen sounds so much older and Daniel sounds so much younger than they really are. But my point is that Fen and Daniel are never interested in each other romantically and it’s like a breath of fresh air. No star-crossed lovers here folks.
Baby Girl is not annoying. I was initially wary of having a newborn baby as such a prominent character since I really, really dislike children. Especially really young children that don’t understand what ‘shut up’ means. But, while the baby is the catalyst for the plot, she is not really active and thus not annoying.
Things I Didn’t Like
On the other hand, Baby Girl is sometimes so inactive that I forget she’s even there, even though she’s strapped to Fen chest for most of the book. In all the other reviews I’ve read for Orleans, nobody has even mentioned the baby. I find that kind of weird since she’s kind of the whole reason for the journey but I guess you can’t do a whole lot with a newborn. In Fen’s own words, ‘she eats, poops, and sleeps’ and that’s about it.
Fen’s speech pattern. It got very annoying, very fast. It would have been fine if it were just the dialogue but Fen’s part of the book is written in first person, something I’m not very fond of, and all of it is in this Southern bayou dialect that seems very cartoonish to me. It takes some patience to get used to.
I’m not fond of changing POV and it felt extra unnecessary in Orleans, especially when Fen and Daniel were in the same place. The chapters from Daniel’s point of view didn’t really add anything and I feel could have been utilized a bit better.
It’s sometimes really hard to like the characters. Fen is really cold, even with the little baby, and Daniel is kind of frustrating and self-involved. It’s hard to find aspects of the characters to connect with and care about. This makes it difficult to be invested in the characters and care about what happens to them.
The world that Smith creates is super creepy and disturbing but fascinating at the same time. The Delta is a harsh place with harsh people and explores the many different ways that humans can be horribly brutal to each other. Like I said, having human nature striped of all its rules and shiny veneer can be disturbing for some. Warnings besides, Orleans is full of action and is a wild roller coaster ride with awesome characters, really incredible world building, and a fast moving plot. You will be huddled into a ball of feelings by the end, I guarantee it. Orleans by Sherri L. Smith is a good example of the dystopia genre and possibly one of the better.
I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer.
When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force running scared with no leads. So Jazz and his girlfriend Connie hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.
Meanwhile, Jazz’s dad Billy is watching…and waiting.
Have you ever read a book where it feels like the book attacked you, mauled you, and left you sitting stunned at the end wondering what the hell just happened? Game by Barry Lyga is that book. It chewed me up and spat me out. Its predecessor, I Hunt Killers, was one of my favorite books of 2012 and I was so excited when the sequel came out in mid-April. I was a bit daunted when I got my copy of Game and saw the book was huge at over 500 pages. I thought for sure Game couldn’t merit such length and that I would get bored or annoyed with it eventually. That was not to be. I couldn’t put it down.
I’m trying to make my reviews more interesting, so bear with me while I try a few things. (Lists!)
Things I Liked
Jazz Dent – Jazz makes the whole series. He’s crazy and disturbing and probably the most interesting teen character I’ve ever read. His powers of observation rival Sherlock Holmes, both in behavioral analysis and crime scene investigation. Jazz is the bomb, as they say. (Or time bomb, as the case may be.)
Connie and Howie – Game has awesome secondary characters and it was awesome to see Jazz’s girlfriend and best friend bust a move and really drive the plot along with their own actions rather than just being swept up along in Jazz’s wake.
Creepy to the max! – I’ve read a few murder mysteries in my time but Game has managed to make my skin crawl in a way that hasn’t happened in a while. I think this is mostly due to Jazz’s unique insight into serial killers and his often deadpan way of delivering those details as if it’s nothing special. It shows that Jazz himself is cracked in a very special way. We’re getting to see into the motives and minds of the killers in a way I haven’t read before. There is also a new sexual aspect to Game that wasn’t focused on in I Hunt Killers. As a female, this focus is both frightening and fascinating.
Never slowed down! – When I saw Game was over 500 pages long, I was sure it would lag and bog down. But the novel maintained a swift pace that hurries a reader along to the next big event and those 500 pages just flew by. I couldn’t turn pages fast enough!
Things I Didn’t Like
Repetitive – After a certain point, Jazz can get repetitive. Look, I get that Jazz’s big thing is trying to keep himself from turning into his Dad, king of the killers. Jazz struggles with two parts of himself, the part that was created by Billy Dent and the part that society tells him he is supposed to act and think like. He’s worried that having sex with Connie will trigger him into violence and he’s constantly analyzing his every action against the sliding scale of crazy. But after a while, you just kind of want to slap him.
Jazz is a genius/Everyone else is dumb as a rock – I said before that Jazz’s powers of observation are impressive. Unfortunately, Jazz’s powers are shown by making everyone else, the NYPD and the FBI, look like idiots. This is a common flaw with teen characters in adult situations. But the men and women of the NYPD and the FBI are trained professionals and having Jazz constantly one up them is ridiculous. Jazz may have an unique insight into serial killers growing up under Billy Dent’s tutelage but he has not been trained and it’s really quite annoying when he does that continually, like the whole of the police force are idiots and couldn’t catch fish in a bucket.
Believability – The NYPD and the FBI seek a teenage kid for help with a murder investigation. Yep. Uh huh. I believe that. Not. While I could believe Jazz getting mixed up with G. William and everything in small town Lobo’s Nob because it honestly fell into his lap, I can’t accept that people from New York would seek Jazz out for help in the same situation, no matter who his father was.
Stupid Girl Syndrome – Connie, what the hell do you think you are doing? Are you nuts? You seem like a smart cookie, so I can’t understand why you are suddenly acting like the dumb blond in the classic horror movie. What the hell?
Game by Barry Lyga is my first 5 star rating of this year. It has problems but the amount of awesome in this book makes up for any flaws. My biggest beef is the ending, in which we are left completely hanging with no resolution at all and all the characters in dire situations. I think I may die of frustration before the next book becomes available. I rarely enjoy a sequel as much as I liked Game. There is no second book slump for this series. I Hunt Killers was great but Game bumped it up to a whole new level of intense. I have to advise readers to read cautiously if you have triggers for violence or gore. It’s a little gross in some places. Game is also more sexualized than I Hunt Killers was and that might put some readers off. Mature readers only, people.
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Published February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Paper Book
Length: 307 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Spy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Mystery
It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.
Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger’s legions of fans have come to adore.
It took me a little bit of time to wander my way through Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger. I heard great things about her Parasol Protectorate series and this was my first steampunk novel, so I was excited to read it. My excitement waned after a while and I finished Etiquette & Espionage in fits and spurts. It pained me that I didn’t love this book more. It had all the makings of an awesome novel with an original world (I haven’t read the Parasol Protectorate yet. So this was my first experience in this world.), a healthy dose of paranormal (Vampires! Werewolves! Oh my!), and some really interesting characters. But while it had all the pieces of a great book, is lacked any actual plot to focus on.
There are two things that keep Etiquette & Espionage from being a complete flop; great characters and the humor. All the girls at the finishing school are quirky and interesting. Sophronia, the main character, is spunky but could have had a bit more depth to her. Frankly, I was more interested in the characters she interacted with, like the other girls, teachers, and the sooties, than I was in Sophronia herself. There are great one-liners and fantastic humor. But all the cheeky jokes and turn of phrase wit in the world won’t hide the thin plot and slow moving action in Etiquette & Espionage. The setting gets the most attention, giving us a rich world with the finishing school, but leaving other aspects of the book languishing.
I feel as if I’ve read someone’s first draft and that I’m missing half of the book; the half where something actually happens. At the end there is some action involving the mysterious prototype and what could be some suitable villains but then the book ends before anything really exciting can evolve from it. We’re left with some funny characters and a fantastic world in which nothing much happens. I’m pleased with my first real foray into steampunk. That aspect of Etiquette & Espionage was fantastic but just didn’t have the support of a good plot to make the book really great.
I am intrigued enough that I’ll check out Parasol Protectorate. I loved Carriger’s world building and want to see more. Etiquette & Espionage read more like a middle grade book than a young adult book. The age of the characters and innocent and almost not there nature of the romance lends itself better to younger readers. (Not that that stops any 30 year old women from reading it.) But humor and quirky characters cannot disguise the slow and boring pace or the underdeveloped plot in this book. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger was great for a steampunk novel but ultimately fell a little flat.
Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia’s led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it’s revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she’s ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins – long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control – she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history, forever.
I picked up The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal while browsing through the library. It had been on my to be read list for a little while but hadn’t generated a lot of excitement that I could see on the other blogs. I read the blurb and thought the story would be a pretty straight forward ‘finding your place in the world’ novel. There was a nice twist that made the novel a bit more exciting than I expected but otherwise the characters and situation in this book were pretty bland. The main character, Sinda, is too accepting of her fate and simply allows the people she thought were her parents to basically kick her out of her life and send her off to a relative she didn’t even know existed. While I can understand Sinda being in shock at that moment, she’s a bit too much like a doormat to inspire much reaction from the reader.
When Sinda arrives in her aunt’s small village, her situation is more amusing than pitying and the reveal of her magic is predictable. It’s only as she returns to the city that things start looking up, novel-wise. At first, I thought the rest of the plot would be Sinda’s ‘journey to self-acceptance’ that ends with her being best friends with the new princess and generally becoming the most awesome royal advisor ever to the new Nalia. But there is a twist, things start to happen, and Sinda grows a backbone and a personality. The romance is not overwhelming but not very interesting. Best friends since they were little, Sinda and Kiernan of course fall in love with each other. It’s clichéd. Thankfully, it’s not focused on until the point of nausea.
The False Princess is your pretty standard fantasy/ fairy tale novel. It’s got ties to Cinderella and The Prince and Pauper. Everything and everyone is a little bland. I greatly wanted to learn more about Sinda’s birthmother and also more about the queen, who apparently felt something for Sinda even if we’re shown that with only third party information. O’Neal missed a great chance for some angst that would have spiced things up. As it is, Sinda’s numb reaction to everything is a little boring after a while. The False Princess does get a little more interesting near the end, where there is actually action happening, but it’s a little too late to save the book. I liked The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal, the second twist was good, but the majority of the novel was just okay.
A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen’s blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!
Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?
The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!
I’m really trying to keep up with my series reading. I had trouble getting into The False Prince, the predecessor to this book. I was kind of neutral on the character until the end when we realized how amazing Sage/Joran really was. I was excited for The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielson because clever, almost genius characters give me tingles and I really wanted to see what Sage/Joran would do in this book. I was not disappointed.
There is some debate on whether The Runaway King is better categorized as Middle Grade rather than Young Adult. I say it can be either way. This book has a lot of action, indicative of Middle Grade books, and lacks the nauseating romance that has infected the Young Adult genre. (I’m about one more teenage suck-face fest from rabid insanity. We’re talking clock tower and rifle level of nuts. I’m quickly becoming the blogger that hates Young Adult romance with the fire of a thousand suns.) At the same time, The Runaway King is a little violent for younger readers. I’d probably let a preteen, about 12 years of age or older, read this book but not anyone younger. (Unless they were well-read and mature for their age.)
The Runaway King got a rare rating of 5 stars from me. I felt more comfortable with the book now that I knew what to expect with Sage/Jaron. I could see how he manipulated the situation when he could and could appreciate the parts that were just dumb luck. I feel like not all the secrets were revealed in this book and we will have to wait until the next installment to find out all of Sage/Jaron’s plans. For instance, I’m certain that it was Sage/Jaron that sent the message to Roden to return early and that Sage/Jaron sending the army off to move rocks in the north is really secret training but we’re not expressly told in the novel. I think Sage/Jaron is collecting a chessboard of pieces to fight the war coming in the next book.
What romance there is, is not heavy handed or thrown in our face. Imogen herself is an independent, interesting character. A couple of the secondary characters are a bit cliché, like Fink, and the pirates are a little less deadly and more honorable than one would think from their description. I can’t remember if Gregor was in the first book and his sudden appearance as villain and mastermind evil doer is a bit sudden and confusing. By the end of The Runaway King, Sage/Jaron has gained the love of his people and now his kingdom is tumbling headlong into war. Frankly, I can’t wait for book number three of The Ascendance Trilogy, which we don’t know the publication date or even the name of yet! The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielson is a runaway hit.
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Published September 25th 2012 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Paper Book
Length: 404 pages
Genre: Zombies, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Horror
Reading Level: Young Adult
Goodreads | Amazon
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real…
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies…
I don’t read a lot of zombie books. (They have a habit of giving me nightmares. Nightmares where I have a Japanese katana sword, speak French, and kick ass but then have to throw myself out of the dream when the zombie munching gets too graphic.) But my obsession with everything and anything to do with Alice in Wonderland won out over my hesitation and so when I was browsing the shelves at my library I picked up Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I’m weak. I do believe this is the first zombie book I’ve read in almost a decade. (And no nightmares! Although there was one crazy Wonderland dream…)
Alice in Zombieland was not what I expected. For some reason, the blurb made me think this was going to be an apocalyptic zombie novel and that our Alice character would be in an ‘end of the world’ situation. (Thus, creating some sort of new ‘Wonderland’ for our Alice character to live in.) Maybe I fell for a stereotype but the book couldn’t have been farther from what I envisioned. It’s set in contemporary times (In fact, at one point Alice mentioned reading The Iron Fey series and I had to blink in surprise at the destruction of the fourth wall.) and knowledge of the zombies is afforded to only a few select people. The zombies themselves are untraditional and Showalter had to create a whole new mythology for the creatures in order to explain why only certain people could see and fight them. I’m not sure I like the new mythology Showalter created. It works for the book but at the same time it’s a bit absurd. It sort of squashes zombies and ghosts together and gets a bit messy in the process. Also, to my disappointment, the Alice in Wonderland connection is thin at best. There are some scattered references that really don’t bring anything to the novel and that’s it.
Of course, my biggest beef with Alice in Zombieland is the romance. (Romance is pretty much the bane of my existence in Young Adult books.) Alice is a good girl, Cole is a bad boy, they are both ridiculously hot, and have an ‘Instant Connection of Destiny’. So a good portion of the book is them playing relationship yoyo and sucking face. There is even an ‘Ex-Girlfriend of Doom.’ Oh, and Alice is an extra special snowflake among special snowflakes. The only thing that saves Alice in Zombieland for me is that everyone can kick zombie butt and most of the characters are rather interesting, when they’re not trying to get into each other pants. So, the romance is clichéd, the zombie mythology interesting but a little convoluted, and there are a lot of awesome fight scenes. For me, Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter was a typical teen drama that was okay but not great. Other reviews bring me to believe you either loved this book or hated it. I fall somewhere in the middle.
Scorch by Gina Damico
Published September 25th 2012 by Graphia
Format: Paper Book
Length: 332 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Grim Reaper, Modern Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult – I do think this one is unsuitable for younger kids
Goodreads | Amazon
Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby is a teenage grim reaper with the bizarre ability to damn souls. That makes her pretty scary, even to fellow Grims. But after inadvertently transferring her ability to Zara, a murderous outlaw, Lex is a pariah in Croak, the little town she calls home.
To escape the townspeople’s wrath, she and her friends embark on a wild road trip to DeMyse. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, it feels like a prison to Lex. Her best chance at escape would be to stop Zara once and for all —but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara’s killing spree?
I’m horrible about reading series. I read the first book, I may even love it, but by the time the second book comes out I’ve forgotten about it. Lucky for me, Scorch by Gina Damico was already waiting for me when I finished the first book, Croak. I was late to the party but that meant I could go straight to the next book. Now, all I have to do is remember to get the third book, Rouge, when it comes out this autumn. Here’s hoping I can remember to pick it up by then! (Warning! Spoilers for the first book in the series, Croak.)
In this book, we return to the town of Croak with Lex and some new Juniors. The Grimsphere is still being terrorized by Zara. The group realizes that Zara must have some insider help because she keeps getting into Croak without triggering the security alarms, has gotten a new scythe from somewhere and is crashing with purpose again, Damning those she feels deserve it. (Or is she? What a clever twist!) The Senior Grims are slowly turning against Lex and the other Juniors, led by Norwood and Heloise, and Uncle Mort is trying everything in his power to protect his niece and her friends and sort of failing. It’s just a good old time in grim reaper land!
I have a deep seated loathing for the cliché where the main conflict is people’s inability to share information. If there was more communication between adults and teenagers in this book there wouldn’t be half as many problems as there were. But Uncle Mort is a secretive asshole and Lex is stuck in the mentality of us against them and nobody is sharing their information. This pretty much means that everyone is fumbling around in the dark and things would be so much easier if they just talked with each other. But god forbid Mort treat his niece like an intelligent person or Lex act like anything but a competitive snot. It’s one thing when nobody knows a piece of information but it’s entirely another when butthead characters refuse to share information. Then they just end up looking like petty morons.
(grumble, grumble, stomp all over) Despite hitting a pet peeve of mine, Scorch was a good book. It avoided the second book slump by being fast-paced and exciting. I felt like you didn’t have time to get bored because Lex and her friends were always racing headlong into danger and the unknown. Lex has no sense of self-preservation and she’s slightly reckless. There were a few slight hiccups. I felt the man in white that we see just once in Croak should have gotten more page time just to keep him in the forefront of our minds. He turns out to be an important character but it feels like he was just kind of dropped on us. He’s lead-in could have been more gradual. There are a lot of small puzzles to keep track of and that makes for a suspenseful but occasionally aggravating novel. Altogether, Scorch by Gina Damico is a great second book and I be looking forward to book number three this autumn.