Book Review: Of Neptune

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Author: Anna Banks

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 330

Review:

The Syrena trilogy comes to an end with this last installment, Of Neptune. Anna Banks has built this trilogy around a half-human half-Syrena girl, Emma, and Syrena prince, Galen. Each has their world turned upside-down with the revelation of the other’s existence. And each have fallen for the other.

Of Neptune, takes Emma and Galen on a trip to the mountains, taken on part to finally be alone together. But they stumble upon a town that once again defies their worldviews. Emma is confronted with the fact that she is a half-breed and that she doesn’t quiet belong anywhere. But could she belong in this small town?

Galen must face the fact that Emma will never feel accepted as an ocean-dweller. While his hearts wants Emma to live happily, it also wants her to be with him. He is faced with the question of whether or not Emma wants what he does.

The town of Neptune holds two very different outcomes for each Emma and Galen. Both have vastly differing reactions and it seems that Neptune’s fate lies in the hands of them both. But are they capable of changing their worlds once again?

Anna Banks has done a spectacular job with raising the stakes in this last installment. She continues to throw roadblocks in Emma and Galen’s happily-ever-after, beginning with the surprise death at the close of the second book. The ripple effect of this incident echoes throughout the novel. Banks has done wonders, shedding light on how each person views death and acceptance, and how each of these affects a relationship. Even one that was supposed to last forever.

Recommendation: Wonderful! Must read! (After the first 2)

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Book Review: Winterspell

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Author: Claire Legrand

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 464

SummaryThe clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Review: This novel was a wonderful read! You can clearly see the similarities with The Nutcracker, but Claire Legrand has taken it to the next level.

Clara is fully fledged character, who changes throughout the story. Legrand uses definitive action and setting for all her characterization. The world-building in this novel is phenomenal! I loved the world of Cane, the twisting magic, and the dark curses. Legrand also spends some time on the physical aspects of the three creatures who inhabit Cane: faeries, mages, and humans.

This novel is a fast paced adventure, with trouble, both romantically and physically, at every turn. Clara must face class differences, politics, and must find the strength to withstand all, or be forced into servitude in one world or the other. 

Recommendation: Wonderful! Must read! NOW

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Book Review: Incarnate

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Author: Jodi Meadows

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 374

Summary: New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Heart

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

Review: Jodie Meadows has done an amazing job setting up this strange world. The idea of people being the same souls, who are reborn over and over again, is new and intriguing. Adding in the idea of “what would happen if a new soul arrived?” brings more intrigue and mystery to the story.

Meadows has created some full characters as well. The main character, Ana, is defensive yet intelligent– a great combination for a strong female lead. Sam is more mysterious. With his many past lives, readers get the sense of who he is in each lifetime, but still aren’t sure of his actions and the reasoning behind them.

This book has wonderfully set the stage for the next in the series. Ana must figure out why she was born, what happened to the soul who never returned, all before she is stranded and alone until she dies, unsure if she herself will ever return.

Recommendation: Wonderful! Must read!

Book Review: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

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Author:  Robert A. Heinlein

Genre: Science Fiction

Summary: It is the year 2076, and the Moon is a penal colony for the rebellious and the unwanted of Earth. The exiles have created a libertarian society in order to survive in their harsh and unforgiving environment, their motto being TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Looming over them is the Luna Authority, the heavy-handed Earth administration, who trades life necessities to the “Loonies” in exchange for grain shipments to the starving populations of Earth.

As the situation steadily deteriorates the inhabitants of Luna come to realize that they have little choice but to revolt against Luna Authority in order to save themselves from resource exhaustion and a subsequent environmental apocalypse.

A small band of dissidents emerges to lead the revolution. This consists of a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic, and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike. These people ignite the fires of revolution, despite the near certainty of failure.

Review:  This is only my second “true” science fiction novels. That being said, it was amazing!

Not only does Heinlein have a great grasp on plot, but he also has a way of teaching the reader something without actually teaching. This book is heavy on tech speak, political speak, and extremely heavy on revolution theory. But it is presented in a way that is interesting and that drives the story forward.

The characters are very well developed, as is the technology. What you need to remember is that he wrote this book in 1966. BEFORE WE WERE ON THE MOON. Once you begin to read this book, you’ll understand just how genius this man was!

The setting was unique, as was the situation, the technology, and the plot. I must say, this was a fascinating read with some stong craft work!

Recommendation: Wonderful! Must read!

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Book Review: The Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)

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Author:  Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction

Summary: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

Review:  There were things I absolutely loved about this book…and things that I didn’t.

Deborah Harkness has created an interesting world in which there are four species: humans, witches, vampires, and daemons. I loved the way she built this world, along with all the rules and regulations. I also love the magical caste system and the specifics of each species. She has put a unique spin on witches, vampires, daemons, and the way they interact in the world together. That got me hooked right away.

I also loved the female lead character, Diana. I loved that she was a historian and that Deborah really showed you the ins and outs of an alchemical historian. It made me want to get my PhD! The male lead character, Matthew, wasn’t so bad either, if not a bit too stereotypical.

I was on my way to finishing this book in less than a week when suddenly the “romance” novel appeared. The middle of this book is a romance novella. I’m not a romance reader, never have been, but maybe in the future. But not now. So, needless to say, the story seemed to veer away from the tension and the magic and the mystery. All that was sais was “i love yous” and “swoon”. And I had to stop. It wasn’t my cup of tea. (You’ll get that pun later).

Finally, near the end, the romance let up a bit and the tension came back. Not fully, but it did. I’m on the fence about finishing the trilogy. Like I said, Deborah put a great twist on the magical creatures and their rules, and I do love the plot of the story. I just can’t handle the romance stuff…

Recommendation: Borrow from your local library first

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Book Review: Killer Instinct

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Author:  S.E. Green

Genre: YA Thriller

Summary: She’s not evil, but she has certain… urges.

Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.

Why?

Because she might be one herself.

Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return… in parts.
When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…

Review:  WOW! I couldn’t put this book down. Amazingly written and filled with nonstop action. S.E. Green knows tension. The entire book is full of rising tension, action packed scenes, and a well crafted plot. I have to admit, I was trying to figure out the mystery the entire time. The ending was wonderfully drawn out and had a great twist!

Most thriller’s are action-based, and Killer Instinct is no exception. Lane aka Slim aka the Masked Savior is constantly getting her hands dirty. But Green brings in two more layers. One is Lane’s stream of consciousness. Readers learn about her “urges” as she feels them and as she figures out her own view on them. She is extremely analytical about the whole thing, and very self-controlled. 

The second layer Green brings to this YA thriller is more of a subplot. Though Lane doesn’t have the same emotions as a normal teenage girl, she still has the capacity to feel for others. Readers will see that she is not merely acting on her urges, but acting on her sense of justice. She defends those who can’t defend themselves. She feels more for the innocents or the weak than she does for herself. This caring quality is what gets her stuck in a twisted game of lies, blood, and murder. She must decide whether to accept her inherent urges or to take charge of them.

Recommendation: Get your hands on this ASAP

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Book Review: Fledgling by Nicole Conway

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Author:  Nicole Conway

Genre: YA Fantasy

Summary: Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future.

While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.

Everything Jaevid learned at the academy will now be put to the ultimate test.

Review: Nicole Conway is a great writer! Fledgling is 100% story. I have to admit, the “hero’s journey” is my favorite type of story, so this was right up my alley. 

Conway has created an interesting world in which humans, grey elves, and dragons exist. Only, not in harmony. The main character is a half breed, hated by both humans and grey elves, finding no place he really belongs. Until one day, he accidentally talks a dragon into choosing him as a rider. Suddenly Jae is in the elite training academy for dragonriders and he must prove that he belongs there.

This book touches on the subjects of faith in oneself, bullying, and discrimination. As a halfbreed, Jae is discriminated by both humans and grey elves. Niether knows that the other side hates him as much as they do. Jae goes through his life never fitting, never having friends, and never having a life to look forward to. He’s stereotyped by each side as well. Both think he’s a traitor and both think he’s sided with the other. In reality, he has no choice, because neither wants him. He is constantly bullied and name called by everyone, humans and grey elves alike. Jae must find the courage to have faith in himself and to choose where he wants to be in life. Only then with he ever find happiness or a reason to build a future life for himself. 

Recommendation: Fun and entertaining read!

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