Monthly Archives: March 2014

Book Review: Daughter of Chaos (Red Magic #1)

Standard

Author: Jen McConnel

Genre: YA

Summary: There comes a time in every witch’s life when she must choose her path. Darlena’s friends have already chosen, so why is it so hard for her to make up her mind? Now, Darlena is out of time. Under pressure from Hecate, the Queen of all witches, Darlena makes a rash decision to choose Red magic, a path no witch in her right mind would dare take. As a Red witch, she will be responsible for chaos and mayhem, drawing her deep into darkness. Will the power of Red magic prove too much for Darlena, or will she learn to control it before it’s too late?

Review: Jen McConnel knows how to keep the tension high. In the novel, Daughter of Chaos, tension is brought on early, with Darlena choosing a path that she didn’t know existed. This focal point is driven throughout the novel, leaving readers almost as desperate as Darlena to find out more about Red Magic.

The tension rises more as the life she once knew is taken away from her. Her parents are scared, her friends are misunderstanding, and a plethora of goddesses keep showing up,trying to convince her to use Red Magic their way, but leaving Darlena with more questions than answers. She is frightened and intrigued by the power that she wields, hoping to be able to do good for the world; not just destruction. Her journey for answers takes her farther than she realized she’d ever go.

Recommendation: Read

Image

Cheers!

Advertisements

Book Review: The Rithmatist (Rithmatist, #1)

Standard

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: YA

Summary: More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

Review: Brandon Sanderson is known for his world building, and he does not disappoint in his first YA novel! Sanderson is a master of pacing, so don’t be worried about getting overwhelmed in this world he has created. Sanderson slowly introduces readers to the world of Rithmatists, Rithamtics, and Chalklings. It’s a fun ride, with a murder-mystery intertwined as well!

Sanderson has added steampunk elements to the twenty-first century, along with a sort of magic. Rithmatists are able to draw–with chalk–cirlces, lines, and pictures that come to life. Wild chalkings are those chalk creatures that are untamed and are wreaking havoc on the United Isles. Oh yeah, Sanderson splits the States into Isles! 

Joel, a non-Rithmatist, is obsessed with Rithmatics and finds himself in the center of a murder-mystery invovling Rithmatist students from his school. Melody, a Rithmatist who’d rather being drawing unicorns, also finds herself in the center of things, alongside Joel.

This is the first novel in a new series, so the pacing is nice and slow. However, the tension is kept high with the disappearance of students and new teacher who stirs the campus into a frenzy.

Recommendation: Read!

Image

Cheers!

Book Review: The Program (The Program #1)

Standard

Author: Suzanne Young

Genre: YA

Summary: Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Review: Readers are immediately immersed into Sloane’s unraveling world. She has already lost her brother, her best friend, and now she’s facing another friend’s “illness” as well as her boyfriend, James’. He is the only thing she has left and would do anything for him. But she is forced to enter The Program soon after he is released, with no memory of her.

Young takes readers on a journey through The Program, which camoflage’s itself as therapy. Readers watch as Sloane goes through every important and special memory of James. Young keeps the pace a little slow, showing the exact effects of the pills Sloane is forced to take before and after therapy. She keeps the tension high as readers realize what’s happening before Sloane does.

In the end, there is an erie feeling, a sense of loss but also of hope that springs forth in the last few chapters.

Recommendation: Read!

Image

 

Cheers!

Book Review: Relativity

Standard

Author: Cristin Bishara

Genre: YA

Summary: If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities. 

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

Review: Bishara has done an excellent job intertwining science and YA! There is plenty of math and string theory in this book, but you never feel bogged down with information.

It’s a slightly heart-wrenching read, at least for me. Ruby is forced to move from her home and best friend, halfway across the US to live with a stepmother and stepsister (who makes it clear that she hates her). Ruby focuses on her loss. The loss of her mother at age four, the loss of her best friend (and love interest), the loss of everything she knows and loves. 

I’ve been there. I’m sure plenty of readers have, in some way or another. So what does Ruby do when she finds a way to jump planes of parallel universes? She searches for the perfect one, of course!

Bishara keeps the focus tight, which in turn keeps the tension high. The emotional arc is beautifully done, as is the characterization. This is a short read, but I felt connected with Ruby.

Recommendation: READ!!

Image

 

Cheers!

Book Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow

Standard

Author: Robin Wasserman

Genre: YA

Summary: It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.  When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love.  When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark. 

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead.  His girlfriend Adriane, Nora’s best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

Review: Robin Wasserman has written a wonderful stand alone book! There’s blood and love and an ancient mystery. What else could you ask for?

Her characters are unique, though spun from the normal archetypes. I loved that each character turned out to have a secret! (I refuse to be much more spoilery than that!)

I had the privilege of hearing her speak on a panel at AWP in Seattle last week. They were discussing creating a career in children’s and YA. This is not Wasserman’s first book (or second or third or tenth!) She has taken the time to hone her craft, and in this book, it shows.

The tension rises well as the action does. Nora’s emotional arc is slow, but forefront and is very authentic. My favorite craft element of this book though is the voice! Wasserman has created a wonderfully sarcastic, bright, and lovable main character with Nora.

Recommendation: READ!! 

Image

 

Cheers!