February Reads-New Releases I’m Excited to Read

As February comes to a close, I find that there are many new releases that I didn’t have a chance to finish.  But, I hope to read them this year.  Unfortunately, I fell behind on my 2016 pub. date challenge, but not because I didn’t have time to read.  No, it’s because I found myself devouring a few books from my TBR list that wouldn’t let me go (i.e. A Court of Thorns and Roses).  So, here’s what I’m hoping to read soon!

Unhooked

I haven’t read very many Peter Pan retellings or stories set in Neverland, so this title really intrigues me.  Especially since it seems to have a darker take on the whole place.

Summary: For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Starflight (Starflight, #1)

I’m probably going to read and review this novel in conjunction with a Firefly post or potentially when Syfy’s two Firefly-esque shows (Dark Matter and Killjoys) start back up this summer.  I’m usually not that excited about science fiction, but I could get behind this book.

Summary: Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe.

The Forbidden Wish

I loved the Arabian nights and Aladdin’s story when I was younger, and this story tells the tale through the eyes of the jinn from the lamp.  Hopefully, this book will deliver a new perspective to the whole thing.

Summary: When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years — a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

Red Moon Rising

I’m not sure how I feel about this book except that the summary sounds interesting.  It could go either way for me, so I probably won’t read it in the near future, but definitely do want to give it a try.

Summary: Space-farmer Rae Darling is kidnapped and trained to become a warrior against her own people in this adventurous middle grade space western.

Rae Darling and her family are colonists on a moon so obscure it doesn’t merit a name. Life is hard, water is scarce, and the farm work she does is grueling. But Rae and her sister Temple are faced with an added complication—being girls is a serious liability in their strict society. Even worse, the Cheese—the colonists’ name for the native people on the moon—sometimes kidnap girls from the human colony. And when Rae’s impetuous actions disrupt the fragile peace, the Cheese come for her and Temple.

Though Rae and Temple are captives in the Cheese society, they are shocked to discover a community full of kindness and acceptance. Where the human colonists subjugated women, the Cheese train the girls to become fierce warriors. Over time, Temple forgets her past and becomes one of the Cheese, but Rae continues to wonder where her loyalties truly lie. When her training is up, will she really be able to raid her former colony? Can she kidnap other girls, even if she might be recruiting them to a better life?

When a Cheese raid goes wrong and the humans retaliate, Rae’s loyalty is put to the ultimate test. Can Rae find a way to restore peace—and preserve both sides of herself?

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

Here’s another one that I’m not sure about.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about it though, so I’m willing to give it a shot.

Summary: Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks, #1)

I’m a big fan of anything that is similar to X-Men with awesome powers that people just have.  However, I very much dislike Jane Austen.  That being said, I’m not sure that this is Jane Austen-style writing, which is what I dislike, but instead is set in that time frame.  I’m hoping for the latter since that means I’m more likely to enjoy it, but I have heard good things, so it should be good either way.

Summary: Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

Stars Above

After I read Winter, this collection of short stories will be next.  I’ve loved The Lunar Chronicles thus far and am sad to see it end; however, that means the author can try her hand at something else.  I’m looking forward to it 🙂

Summary: The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.


The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century.

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Flunked Paperback Release and Giveaway!

9781492601562-PR

Now in Paperback!

Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School

By Jen Calonita

February 2, 2016; Tradepaper ISBN 9781492620815

 Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for Flunked: Fairy Tale Reform School

“Spellbinding and wickedly clever.” –Leslie Margolis, author of the Annabelle Unleashed novels and the Maggie Brooklyn mysteries

 “A fresh and funny take on the enchanted world. (And, who hasn’t always wanted to know what happened to Cinderella’s stepmother?)” –Julia DeVillers, author of the Trading Faces series and Emma Emmets, Playground Matchmaker

 “Charming fairy-tale fun.” –Sarah Mlynowski, author of the Whatever After series

“Fairy tale fans will love this clever and lively tale of magic, friendship, and courage.” –Discovery Girls Magazine

“Gilly’s plucky spirit and determination to oust the culprit will make Flunked a popular choice for tweens” –School Library Journal

“Calonita blithely samples from fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and folklore in this lighthearted first book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series.” –Publishers Weekly

“There’s much to amuse and entertain fans of classic tales with a twist.” –Booklist

 

Summary:

Would you send a villain to do a hero’s job?

Flunked is an exciting new twisted fairy tale from the award-winning author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series.

Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked, exactly…but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).

Until she gets caught.

Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?

Goodreads Link

 

Buy Links:

Amazon- http://ow.ly/WeJLe

Apple- http://ow.ly/WeK0H

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/WeK6d

BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/WeKdn

!ndigo- http://ow.ly/WeKih

Indiebound- http://ow.ly/WeKox

 Jen Calonita New

About the Author:

 Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series and other books like Sleepaway Girls andSummer State of Mind, but Fairy Tale Reform School is her first middle-grade series. She rules Long Island, New York, with her husband Mike, princes Tyler and Dylan, and Chihuahua Captain Jack Sparrow, but the only castle she’d ever want to live in is Cinderella’s at Disney World. She’d love for you to visit her at jencalonitaonline.com and keep the fairy-tale fun going at happilyeverafterscrolls.net

 

Social Networking Links:

Author Website: http://www.jencalonitaonline.com/MG_Flunked.html

Book Website: http://books.sourcebooks.com/enchantasia/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FairyTaleReformSchool

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenCalonita?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jencalonita/

Excerpt from Flunked Fairy Tale Reform School:

There’s a boy up there, standing on the crystal chandelier! He has slightly curly blond hair and is wearing a uniform—­a navy sweater vest over a white shirt with khaki pants—­but his boots are muddy. He’s stepping on priceless crystals with cruddy boots? Is he insane?

“Jax! What are you doing up there?” Kayla whispers heatedly.

“I’m cleaning the crystal for Flora,” Jax says and rolls his eyes. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m making a break for it.”

Kayla applauds. “Yay! This time I know you can do it.”

I shade my eyes from the light bursting through the stained-­glass window next to the chandelier Jax is perched on. “Busting out? Why?” I ask Kayla. “I thought you said this place was cool.”

Jax laughs loudly and looks at me. I feel slightly stunned. I’ve never seen violet eyes before. “FTRS was fun for a while, but strange things have started happening and I don’t want to be here when something bad goes down.”

Strange things? What kind of strange things? Why does Kayla suddenly look pale?

“He’s exaggerating,” Kayla tells me, but she doesn’t sound convincing.

Drip. Whatever Jax is holding is leaking. Kayla and I move out of the way so we don’t get wet. “Grease,” Jax explains to me. “It lubes the window.” He swings the chandelier, and as it nears the window, he uses a fork to try to pry the window open. “A few more tries and I’ll have it.”

“Then what are you going to do, genius?” I ask. “You’re two stories up.”

Jax’s eyes gleam. “I’ve jumped from higher spots before.”

“It’s true,” Kayla says to me. “Jax once jumped from the gym to the dining hall turret. That was three stories up. We call him the Escape Artist. One time he even managed to break into Azalea and Dahlia’s rooms and borrowed their keys to the indoor pool so the whole dorm could take a midnight swim.”

“Impressive,” I tell him. “And I thought I was good at tricking obnoxious royals.”

“She stole a dragon’s tooth clip from one this morning,” Kayla fills him in.

“Nice,” Jax says. “Your first pull?”

“No, I’ve been doing it for a while,” I brag.

“Me too,” Jax says. “My father is a farmer. You can only get so far trading vegetables. I needed to kick things up a notch.”

For some reason, I don’t think any of us are going to make the transformation Headmistress Flora is looking for. “Why do you want to break out so bad?”

“I’ve got places to see, and Enchantasia isn’t one of them.” Jax swings the chandelier so hard the crystals clang together. The window latch pops open, and I watch Jax leap from the chandelier to the tiny window ledge. I’m in awe. Jax looks down at us smugly before pushing open the window. “Are you sure you two don’t want to join me?”

“There’s no time for us,” Kayla says. “Get out of here. Wait!” Her eyes widen. “You deactivated the alarm on the window, right?”

“There isn’t one,” Jax insists. “If there was, I wouldn’t be able to do this.” But when Jax lifts the window, we hear:

EEEEEE! EEEE! EEEE! Unauthorized exit! Unauthorized exit!

The shrieking sound is so intense that Kayla and I cover our ears. Within seconds, Flora is out of her office and running toward us.

Swoosh!

I feel something brush past me and I whirl around. When I look up at Jax again, a large, muscular man with a long mane of hair is hanging on to the window ledge, his furry hands pulling Jax back by his shirt. How did the man get up there without a ladder?

“Mr. Jax,” the man says in a low growl, “we really must stop meeting like this.”

 

ALSO BY JEN CALONITA:

 9781492604044-PR

Charmed: Fairy Tale Reform School

Available March 1, 2016; Hardcover: 9781492604044

Check back Wed. for my review of Charmed!!

Edited: Due to unforeseen circumstances, my review of Charmed will be greatly delayed.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

 

Summary:

 Charmed is the exciting sequel to the wildly popular Flunked — second in the brand new Fairy Tale Reform School series where the teachers are (former) villains. “Charming fairy-tale fun.” -Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series.

 It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.

 Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her.  As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.

 Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…

 Goodreads Link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25879858-charmed?from_search=true&search_version=service

 

Pre-Order Links:

Amazon- http://ow.ly/WeOuR

Apple- http://ow.ly/WeOzZ

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/WeOFR

BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/WeOKq

!ndigo- http://ow.ly/WeOPV

Indiebound- http://ow.ly/WeOWC

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway Fairy Tale Princess Book Pack

Runs December 23rd -Feb 29th (US and Canada only)

It doesn’t look right, but the link is good!!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 8th 2016 by Ace

As promised…

I was able to finish reading this book just in time to post my review as promised, but it really wasn’t that hard because Patricia’s writing style reads smoothly and quickly.  As I mentioned in last week’s post (Throwback Thursday), Mercy Thompson is one of my favorite series, and I plan to reread the whole series over the course of 2016.  Which is even more imperative because I have forgotten the stories behind some of the newest characters.  😦  Patricia does include enough backstory throughout the first half of this novel that you needn’t have read the previous books to understand this one; however, those stories give a deeper meaning and explanation for why various small actions have large consequences.

Possible spoilers ahead!

We start the book with a battle against a troll on a bridge, but after it’s vanquished Mercy and her werewolf pack discover that Tad and Zee escaped Walla Walla Reservation and they brought a fire touched human child with them that needs protection.  I think this is the book we’ve all been wanting after the Fae declared war on humans.  We’re starting to see the heart of the issues that the Fae are facing and how the older ones are afraid to compromise to continue into the future.

I greatly enjoyed the mix of politics and action throughout.  It was balanced and allowed the reader time to sort out the implications of something before jumping into the next scene.  I was starting to lose track of characters though as we were flooded with so many new ones while still retaining most of the older ones.  That being said, I’m hoping some of the new ones come back in the next book as I want to know more about them.

My favorite part about the character of Mercy is that she still has flaws and recognizes when she needs help even as she grows and develops.  This is what I want from strong female protagonists: the ability to defend yourself and others while acknowledging that one person cannot do everything alone.  And once again, Patricia shares a story where Mercy displays all of these things.

I hope she finishes book 10 very very soon 🙂

 

From the publisher:

Mercy Thompson has been hailed as “a heroine who continues to grow and yet always remains true to herself.”* Now she’s back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer…

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

*Library Journal

Throwback Thursday: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)

In preparation for Mercy Thompson’s 9th book, I decided to go back to the beginning and read Moon Called again just to see how far we’ve seen Mercy grow.  My goal is to finish re-reading the entire series this year, but since I want to share Fire Touched with you next week Wednesday, I’ll focus on the first book for now.

This book was just as captivating and intriguing as I remember it, which according to Goodreads, the last time I read this book was back in 2007.  The main protagonist, Mercy, has a lot of depth and complexity as a character, which shines through the slightly clunky text of this first book.

Patricia brings together many supernatural elements in this series setup, and shows her readers how they interact without bogging the story down with heavy exposition.  Mercy provides a lot of the backstory exposition in her thoughts and reflections on events, and I found I didn’t mind this approach.

The writing style is very fluid, easy-to-read, and doesn’t leave room for dead space.  The clunky aspect comes in with the amount of characters that are introduced, who are all important to the plot of this first book.  Several of them are only fringe characters in this book, but become more important over the course of the series, but introducing that many characters is incredibly ambitious and hard for the readers to keep track of.

That being said, I liked or loved almost all of those characters.  Patricia certainly knows how people function, and most of her characters did not read as stereotypical or caricatures at all.  In fact, I found the whole book highly believable and wondered whether I could visit these characters in Montana on my next trip out.  Moon Called works as a fantastic example of what urban fantasy is, and I find myself recommending the series often.

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)

Next week, I’ll feature Fire Touched as my Waiting on Wednesday review, so make sure to come back and check it out!

Book Review: Pop Painting by

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Camilla d’Errico has gained wide acclaim for her illustrative work, and has been nominated for the Joe Shuster Award and the Will Eisner Award. She has worked with Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Hasbro, Disney, Sanrio, and Neil Gaiman, and created her own cult-sensation properties Tanpopo and Helmetgirls. She is also well known for her melting rainbow, big-eyed girl oil paintings, which have made her a hit in the international Pop Surrealism movement. Visit her at camilladerrico.com.

 

 

Childhood Loves upon Re-Read

Today, I want to talk about perspective.

Specifically, how a book can read differently from the view of a child than from early adulthood.  (There is probably even another layer here with later adulthood, but I can’t yet speak to that.)

This year I’ve been reading in two directions, forward with the ARCs I’ve collected and backwards with my TBR backlog and delayed re-reads.  And what I’ve noticed with the re-reads is that sometimes books work better for a specific age, but I’ve also been surprised that my feelings for a book are very similar.

I just finished re-reading The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, and I remember loving this book when I first discovered it in grade school.  I still found myself enjoying the easy, quick read, but I didn’t feel the same love when I finished.  On a critical note, the setup to the story was drawn out over the first half of the book and the epic poem of Drualt was included almost in its entirety over the course of the novel.  Also, the romance was underdeveloped and a little creepy.

But, this mixed-up fairy tale did a great job portraying two differently strong female characters who had to overcome princess stereotypes and use their strength and wits to prevail at the end.  As a young girl, this read was important to my flailing self-confidence as it showed that I could overcome my fears to become the person I wanted to be.

This book is great for younger readers who may need a boost to their self-confidence or who love other books by Levine.  Readers of an older age and maturity will also enjoy this fun read, but it may not hold the ground-breaking revelations that make it great for those younger readers.  No matter what your age, The Two Princesses of Bamarre is a lot of fun.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Summary:

Twelve-year-old Addie admires her older sister Meryl, who aspires to rid the kingdom of Bamarre of gryphons, specters, and ogres. Addie, on the other hand, is fearful even of spiders and depends on Meryl for courage and protection. Waving her sword Bloodbiter, the older girl declaims in the garden from the heroic epic of Drualt to a thrilled audience of Addie, their governess, and the young sorcerer Rhys.

But when Meryl falls ill with the dreaded Gray Death, Addie must gather her courage and set off alone on a quest to find the cure and save her beloved sister. Addie takes the seven-league boots and magic spyglass left to her by her mother and the enchanted tablecloth and cloak given to her by Rhys – along with a shy declaration of his love. She prevails in encounters with tricky specters (spiders too) and outwits a wickedly personable dragon in adventures touched with romance and a bittersweet ending.

 

As I continue to reach my reading goals this year, I’ll share more reflections about how perspective can color re-reads and what they mean to my life’s journey.  Have you noticed this phenomena in your own reading?  Feel free to share your stories in the comments.  🙂

January Reads-New Releases I’m Excited to Read

January flew by so fast, I didn’t have time to read and review all the new releases during the month.  So, I decided to share the January releases I’m most excited to read when I can fit them in.  Kind of a Waiting on Wednesday but in reverse.

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

I’m probably the most excited to read Truthwitch because so many of my favorite authors have endorsed it (i.e. Sarah Maas and Maria V. Snyder), plus all the rave reviews floating around.  Hopefully, I’ll have it read before I meet the author at BookCon 2016 in May 🙂

Summary:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)

Eon and Eona were favorite reads while I was in high school, so when I saw an advanced copy of Alison’s first in a new series at work, I picked it up.  The story sounds promising, and I look forward to reading more from Alison.

Summary:

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Night Study (Soulfinders, #2)

Maria is one of my all time favorite authors, and I re-read the original Poison Study trilogy last year in anticipation of the new books with Yelena and Valek.  I’m still not sure when exactly I’ll have a chance to read these, but I’ll almost certainly have a blog entry about the series!

Summary:

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

The Night Parade

The description for The Night Parade reminds me of Spirited Away, which I loved!  I don’t know that I’ll be able to read this one this year, but it’s already part of my collection, so I’ll read it eventually.

Summary:

The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare.

But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked… and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth – or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.

Post-Apocalyptic Trilogies

 

 

 

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Today, I want to try something a little different than the usual book review: a cross-over analysis.  This past weekend, I finished re-reading The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, which was the first in a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic future where the youth is tested by corrupt adults who don’t want anything to actually change.

Sounds familiar, right?

That’s because we recently wrapped up The Hunger Games movie series and the Divergent movie series is moving toward completion.  Both of these franchises are based on book trilogies that also feature post-apocalyptic futures, where the teenagers have help to overthrow the conniving, power-hungry adults in charge.

Here’s a rough publication timeline, so you know when they came out in relation to each other.

2008-The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2009-Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

2010-Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

2011-Divergent by Veronica Roth

2012-Insurgent by Veronica Roth

June 2013-The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

October 2013-Allegiant by Veronica Roth

2014-Independent Study and Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

So, you can see that all three series came out around the same time, but didn’t really overlap, and if you were to look at the reviews for both Divergent and The Testing, you would see several comments comparing them to The Hunger Games.

If you like any of these series, you will probably like them all since they are similar in concept; however, there are some major differences in writing style, characterization, and believability.  Now that I’ve shown you some of the background information, I’d like to share what I thought when reading each series (there will be some spoilers sprinkled throughout).

The Hunger Games

I really enjoyed the first book and wanted to keep reading just to see what else the author had in mind for her world.  Both the setting and the reality tv aspect of this were intriguing, and I liked how Katniss made it through various obstacles and came out on top.  The second book was interesting because there were new challenges, but the story structure was almost the same, and there was almost no new world building.  Book three was a chore to get through because Katniss had fallen into depression (which is reasonable), but then she became super whiny and wouldn’t accept any kind of help.  I also thought there was a lot of gratuitous ‘named character’ deaths, which didn’t add any depth to the story line.  And, I absolutely hated the epilogue because it counteracted everything the series had built towards to that point.

To recap: If this had been a standalone, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.

Divergent

I did not make it all the way through this series.  I thought book one was interesting, but I didn’t enjoy the main character, Tris, and the romance seemed forced.  The setting was in Chicago and the various factions working together made a lot of sense, but there was just not quite enough substance for me.  I did try to read book two, but I only made it half way before I skipped to the end, and I didn’t feel like I missed anything in that 150+ pages except a lot of whining and planning.  And when I heard that she dies in the last book, I knew I wasn’t going any farther in the series.

To recap: The characters weren’t alluring enough to keep my interest.

The Testing

I LOVED this series!  All three books were thoroughly enjoyable and provided plenty of world building, characterization, and setting exploration as well as being more clever and intellectual than brute strength or plot monkeys.  I connected with Cia because she was presented as a well-balanced character with enough flaws to be realistic, but she wasn’t a love-sick puppy in a triangle and she was able to accept help even when she knew not to trust the source.  Also, there was very little whiny filler.  I dislike whiny protagonists since I have to deal with plenty of those types in real life.  Although the constant reminders that Cia can trust no one run through the whole trilogy, it wasn’t overly distracting and it was true.

To recap: The cleverness, world building, and characters work together to make an enjoyable trilogy.

This style of comparison was a lot of fun, so I’ll probably do more of them in the future.  I hope it was useful and interesting while being informative.