30 July 2012

Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler

Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on, from the school bullies to the teachers. But things change drastically when Death tells Billy he must stand in as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now armed with a Bow that allows him to strike with disease from a distance, Billy lashes out at his tormentors...and accidentally causes an outbreak of meningitis. Horrified by his actions, Billy begs Death to take back the Bow. For that to happen, says Death, Billy must track down the real White Rider—who is lost in his memories.

In his search, Billy travels through White Rider’s life: from ancient Phrygia, where the man called King Mita agrees to wear the White Rider’s Crown, to Sherwood Forest, where Pestilence figures out how to cheat Death; from the docks of Alexandria, where cartons of infested grain are being packed onto a ship that will carry the plague, to the Children’s Crusade in France—all the way to what may be the end of the world. When Billy finally finds the White Rider, the teen convinces the man to return to the real world.

But now the insane White Rider plans to unleash something awful on humanity—something that could make the Black Death look like a summer cold. Billy has a choice: he can live his life and pretend he doesn’t know what’s coming, or he can challenge the White Rider for his Crown. Does one bullied teenager have the strength to stand his ground—and the courage to save the world?

Loss is another great Horsemen book. This one concentrates on bullying, and has another layer of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. At the very beginning I was a bit confused as to which problem the book was dealing with just because the other books had only one issue to deal with, but I quickly resolved that and got thoroughly absorbed into the book. Billy is a very well developed character, and has a very realistic way of dealing with all the issues that are piled on him. Later on the book changes a bit and veers away from the prior two books by becoming even more fantasy with psychological time travel, which is not something I enjoyed as much as the rest of the book. I would rather that Billy dealt with his problems in the way that the prior books did, with introspection and demonstration of his problems and how other people deal with them and reassurance that the sufferer is not alone. I thought this led to a resolution that wasn’t as punchy as the other books. I did, however, enjoy the fantasy aspects and the more thorough explanations of how the horsemen worked to not only cause their designated problems but also to moderate them, doing good as well as evil. In all, this was a more complicated but worthy successor to the series that I read in a day and I will be anxiously awaiting the final book.

27 July 2012

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Since I'm on Vacation this week I can't do Follow Friday, so you get an extra book review instead.

Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

I started out loving this book’s premise. It’s a nice twist to see a plot about humans hiding in plain sight among vampires instead of vampires hiding in human society. The book doesn’t disappoint, either. The plot is refreshing, with hints of a love triangle that never pan out, a quick pace with lots of tension even though there’s little action or blood, and tons of developing introspection. The vampire society is doled out in small enough chunks that you never feel there’s an info dump going on. The character development is skillfully done, detaching the reader from the characters, especially Gene, in order to show his isolation and emotional turmoil and yet as a reader you’re still drawn to him and root for him. The other characters, though, are harder to like since you know they are ultimately the enemy, which works against some of the things the author tries to accomplish in the book. I’ve heard this billed as a Hunger-Games ripoff, and while I can see the connections I think there’s more than enough unique about The Hunt to draw new readers in.

I received a copy of this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

26 July 2012

Avatar: The Last Airbender Vol. 1 by Gene Luen Yang

The wait is over! Ever since the conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender, its millions of fans have been hungry for more--and it's finally here!

This series of digests rejoins Aang and friends for exciting new adventures, beginning with a faceoff against the Fire Nation that threatens to throw the world into another war, testing all of Aang's powers and ingenuity!

* The continuation of Airbender and the link to its upcoming sequel, Legend of Korra!

* Written by Gene Yang, author of the National Book Award-nominated American Born Chinese

I loved Avatar: The Last Airbender from somewhere around the end of season 1, so I was very excited to see that they were continuing Aang’s story in comics. I was kinda disappointed with this book though. First, it was short. Very short. I feel it’s probably too short for its price. They should have bundled at least 1 and2 together for the list price of $10.99. I alsofelt there was way too much PDA for a relationship between a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old girl. Perhaps I have been away from 12 year olds for too long, but I remember holding hands in public being a significant relationship step, and a quick peck being the pinnacle, but the comic seems to show extended makeout sessions and they just rubbed me the wrong way. The main plot line about difficulties with conquering colonies needing relocation was interesting, and I want to see where they’re going to go with it, but I’m not sure I’ll continue the series because of the cost of the books.

I received a copy of this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

25 July 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Skylark by Meagan Spooner

This is Breaking the Spine's Waiting for Wednesday, where bloggers post about a book they just can't wait to get their hands on! 


  Skylark by Meagan Spooner

August 1st 2012

Sixteen year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky.

Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children's innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret – but can she stay alive long enough to find them?

It sounds like a futuristic dystopia combined with a steampunk edge!  I'm looking forward to seeing if this book can bridge both genres.

23 July 2012

The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl #2) by Eoin Colfer

The Arctic Incident sees the slightly older, perhaps slightly more mellow arch-criminal Artemis recovered from his last adventure, richer now that he has his half of a hoard of fairy gold, and happier since the Clarice Starlingesque superfairy Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon returned his mother's ailing mind to full health. But there is still much unfinished business: Artemis Fowl Sr. disappeared when a daring escapade designed to free his family from their criminal--not to mention deeply lucrative--past and move the family's assets into legitimate enterprises went horribly wrong. Held captive by the Mafiya (the Russian organized crime syndicate) for over two years, he has been declared officially dead, but Artemis Jr. knows in his heart (yes, he does have one) that his beloved father is still alive, and he is determined to find him. Meanwhile Captain Short is temporarily on assignment to Customs and Excise as punishment for letting Fowl separate her and her People from their gold and is finding her stakeout duties a little dull. It soon becomes obvious that the pair have need of each other's considerable skills, and before long they are on track for an adventure that will ultimately have far-reaching consequences for both of them.
The Arctic Incident is a worthy follow up to Artemis Fowl in every way. Like its predecessor it’s short and easy to read with a lot of action and adventure packed into a little space. I liked how the plot made Fowl and the Faeries friends, it was a good twist and made it so much easier to find a villain to root against. The villain behind the Bwa’Kell is well written. I was especially appreciative of how many characters were re-used from the first book. It is nice to watch them grow, especially Holly and Artemis. I like how Holly has to get over her problems with Artemis because she needs him. Artemis does a lot of growing in this book, he's shown as a lot more emotional and acts a bit more like his age.  The few new characters are very thought-out, and I look forward to seeing them again (wow, it’s hard to write this without spoiling the book!). I received a copy of this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

20 July 2012

Feature and Follow: July 20

Q:Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

Hmm, that's tough because I pretty much buy the books I want to have.  How about autographed copies of a First Edition Harry Potter or Hunger Games?  Or two upcoming books that I'm really looking forward to getting: Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake.

Note to commenters:  I appreciate your comment, but I'm going on vacation to another country right after I post this, so I won't be replying or following back for more than a week.  Don't worry, though, it'll be first on my list after I return!

19 July 2012

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories—they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

The Artemis Fowl books have always had a soft spot in my heart.  I read them as they were first coming out because they were quick, addictive reads.  They still are, and they hold just as much magic on re-read as they did the first time I read them.

The plot of the book seems simplistic, but Colfer is a master at making the simple work well.  There are twists where there need to be, and luls right when you need a breather.   The pace is a little harried, but that only makes you want to read more because you can't find a place to stop.  There is also a great mix of fantasy and science, making the book hard to categorize.  Although fairies have magic they also have advanced technology to combat humans and keep them undetected, which I really like because there is not the dependence on magic as a "cure all" in the plot line.

The omniscient narrator lets you have a peek into the brains of many of the main players, which helps to develop them in a short space.  There is a descriptive block when each character is introduced, but Colfer only gives the needed information, letting the reader discover the rest as they get to learn the character.  The omniscient narrator also makes it very hard to root for a side, putting Artemis and the fairies on equal footing in earning the reader's love.  If you want a book you can read in one setting and come out feeling happy, this is a quick, satisfying read.

I received a copy of this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

18 July 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

This is Breaking the Spine's Waiting for Wednesday, where bloggers post about a book they just can't wait to get their hands on! 


  Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

August 7th 2012

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.

Cybernetic superheroes, I think this is going to be an interesting blend of genres that I hope results in a good book.

16 July 2012

400 Followers Giveaway

Well, it's been more than a week since I promised you a 400 follower giveaway.  Bad, bad blogger!  Better late than never, though!  And this is a long giveaway since I'm going on vacation next week so I won't be around to pick winners, so this will last until July 29th.  Here's the rafflecopter, if you can't see it then visit the blog or click the link (some sites like facebook and LJ don't accept the applet code).

Since I have 400 followers I'm picking 1 big winner and 4 second-prizes.  Big winner gets their choice of book from the book depository (up to $15).  Second prizes get to pick from my giveaway box:


Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in "the golden hills of the west": California.

Along the way she meets Jack, a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company — there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very much aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.

If you’re looking for a sweet, quick read I recommend you pick up this book. Although it doesn’t have a lot of deep thinking or commentary on society Dust Girl does have a lot of history and a good bit of magic to keep things going.

The best thing about this book is the worldbuilding. From the research of the depression and the dust bowl in Kansas to the careful inclusion of the fairies, Zettel has built a wonderful world for her book to live in. Callie is a delightful character and manages to encompass all the complications of her age and race in such a difficult time. Jack also has problems with his age and his race, and he also has a harsh past, but he manages to care and is a great tour guide for Callie on her journey. The lack of romance is nice, although there is a foundation laid for a future spark to grow between them. The rest of the characters are well-written, from the Hoppers to Shake and Shimmy, but I won’t spoil them for you.

The plotting was good but not great. I liked the introduction, but it did move a bit slow. I think the reader could have caught up on things had the book started with the big dust storm. The middle of the book was great, with action happening right where it needed to and not bogged down by too much exposition. The ending, though, felt very rushed, the denouement was a bit disjointed and not in the flow of the rest of the book, and the cliffhanger was maddening.

The cover of this book, though, makes me sad. I was extremely surprised when the narrator declared that she had an African American father because of the picture on the cover. I really wish they had used a girl who was the same ethnicity as the narrator of the book, especially one that talks so much about racial issues and segregation. It’s a sad commentary on the book’s publishers.

I received a copy of this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

14 July 2012


Natalie Parker has a pretty incredible giveaway over on her LJ!

Go check it out now!



13 July 2012

Feature and Follow: July 13th

Q: What drove you to start book blogging in the first place?

I think I kinda fell into it.  I started giving my opinion of books I read on my LJ.  After a while I decided to start a blog just for reviews to interact more with the book review community and get more visibility on my reviews.

12 July 2012

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon


On the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--Ai Ling discovers a power welling deep within her. She can reach into other people’s spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams…and that’s just the beginning.

Ai Ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor’s palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. She must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. and then she meets Chen Yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. Here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend.

The plot of Silver Phoenix is really the center-point of the book. Like most classic fantasy it revolves around the quest Ai Ling is on and the people she meets and travels with. There has been a great deal of work put into the worldbuilding, and the connections with real Chinese culture through its religion, customs, and even food are bountifully evident. The characters deal with a lot of trouble, too, and Pon isn’t shy about putting her characters in danger. There never seems like an obvious way out, which I liked. The characters had to think, and I did too, but the way out was always a result of their cleverness and reaction, not coincidence. These fights do serve to disconnect the book, though. Like a lot of epic fantasy the story can seem like a series of side quests unrelated to the overall arc for a great part of the book. I think that fans of the genre will find the plotting excellent, though, because the side plots are enjoyable and do bring the protagonist closer to her final battle.

Ai Ling is the definition of a strong female character imo. She has flaws and strengths that are realistic, and her powers have pluses and minuses as well. She makes decisions based on logic and her gut, and everything seems to follow her characterization well. With such a strong lead it is harder to develop the people around her, and some of the lesser characters fall a bit flat because of it. Chen isn’t one of those, though. Chen is a great male role model, supportive without being overbearing or overprotective but still flawed. The romance that develops is realistic and lasting, not a love-at-first-glance surface relationship but a true partnership that strengthens both of them. However, they are still individuals as well, and the ending only served to underscore their connection as well as their individuality. If I had to find a flaw in the book, though, it would be with Zhong Ye. His motivations weren’t always apparent, and I was left feeling that his actions were a little off from his characterization. He needed some more time in developing who he is and why he acts as he does.

11 July 2012


Well, the read-a-thon is almost over, and I still haven't done a challenge!  So I picked the easy one sponsored  by The Reader Bee:

What is your most anticipated book for 2012?
(It can be an upcoming release, or one that's already been released.)

That one's easy:

I LOVE the riders of the apocalypse series, and I loved this book so much it's been really hard for me to write the review because words escape me!

And, since it's almost over, here's what I've accomplished:


Waiting on Wednesday: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This is Breaking the Spine's Waiting for Wednesday, where bloggers post about a book they just can't wait to get their hands on! 

  Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

August 7th 2012

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

This sounds a lot like "Liar's Moon", I hope it's half as good!

09 July 2012


Finished book #1!  Off to write some quick review notes before I start another!

The Human by Janine K. Spendlove


Eirnin's silver eyes, now showing hints of bright yellow, widened in astonishment as he stared, transfixed, at the red blood dripping from the wound on Story's foot.

"What are you?"


A simple question with a not-so-simple answer for seventeen-year-old Story, who finds herself, a lone human, thrust in the middle of a war between creatures she once thought only existed in faerie tales.

I’m not usually one to read a self-published work, but I made an exception for The Human, and I’m glad I did. The book felt a lot like old Tolkien High Fantasy, with a vast sprawling world and epic races of characters. Add in a good dash of good old fashioned Wizard of Oz with its ‘need to get home’ premise and its throngs of characters centering around a naive central figure and you’ll be pretty close to the feeling of this book and its world.

The characterization in this book is a little wonky. Story is not consistenly written, feeling at times like a little girl with her “it’s not fair!” exclamations and at other times a seasoned adult. To be fair I feel this is a ‘Tolkienism’ so it wasn’t too annoying. I liked how the author took a common Mary Sue trope of ‘eyes changing with mood” and worked it into a raceo f characters in a way that didn’t make them seem overpowered. It’s something that’s pretty easy to get annoying quickly but I thought Eirnin skirted the line very well. The romance is set up pretty much from the beginning, and although it’s telegraphed with a big shiny neon sign the journey seemed pretty realistic and healthy. The other characters are fun and given enough characterization to serve their purpose. The plot has the pacing of Tolkien (glacial) but it works along with the feel of the world and the book. The major plot twist is telegraphed well in advance but it comes with a twist that works well.

In all I recommend this book to anyone who’s longing for the golden age of high fantasy with all its tropes and highlights but yearns for strong female characters to take center stage. If Tolkien annoys you, though, you may want to give this a pass. Myself, I’ve already pre-ordered book two.


Yay!  Sometime Sunday I hit 400 followers!  A giveaway is certainly in order!  I'll organize something in the morning, so watch for it!

08 July 2012

Once Upon a Readathon

I'm participating in the Once Upon a Read-a-Thon!  I hope to knock out some Netgalley reads I have outstanding:

We'll see how far I get!  I'm starting with Dust Girl, I've been really wanting to read it for a while now!