30 November 2012

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...
Another great book by a great author.  I was looking forward to reading a fantasy by Snyder after reading her Inside Out series, and I was definitely not disappointed.  The biggest part of what I loved was the worldbuilding.  Snyder built her own magic system in a world that works symbiotically with it.  I like how there are different types of mages and their effects on the world around them are unique.  The magic plants, especially the lilies, are also a nice touch.  Characters are another high point.  I loved Avry and how she grew into her power while keeping her morality and learning what it is to keep a promise to evil people.  I was not as big on Kerrick because of his early manipulations and meanness towards Avry, however, I can see how it really defined his character as the person who would do anything to save his friend.  The plot was good, however it had some really repetitive spots where the gang were yet again hiding out in a cave or walking through a forest which really slowed things down to a near-standstill.  I did like how Snyder is not afraid of being cruel to her characters, and in some areas I almost cried over them (no spoilers!).  The ending was good, making me want the sequel but not being so much of a cliffhanger that I was angry.  I've already got the next book on order and I'll be furiously devouring it in December!

29 November 2012

Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen by Richard Paul Evans

Michael must save his mother—and protect his powers—in the electric sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling Michael Vey, from Richard Paul Evans. Michael was born with special electrical powers—and he’s not the only one. His friend Taylor has them too, and so do other kids around the world. With Michael’s friend Ostin, a tecno-genius, they form the Electroclan, an alliance meant to protect them from a powerful group, the growing Order of Elgen, who are out to destroy them. The leader of the Elgen, Dr. Hatch, has kidnapped Michael’s mother, and time is running out.

After narrowly escaping an Elgen trap, Ostin’s discovery of bizarre “rat fires” in South America leads the gang to the jungles of Peru, where the Electroclan meets new, powerful foes and faces their greatest challenge yet as Michael learns the extent of the Elgen’s rise in power—and the truth of their plan to “restructure” the world.
I thought the first book in this series was a great, but rather cookie cutter, adventure movie.  This book has totally turned the tables on that, though.  Less predictable and much more vivid, I liked this book even more than the first.  The plot twists were more carefully planned and skillfully executed.  The pacing was a little breakneck, but that keeps in line with the first book and the general "keep them wanting it" nature of novels like this.  The characters were highlighted much more in this book, and they really showed growth and abandoned their stereotypes to become actual people.  I especially liked the growth in the non-electrics Wade and Jack.  Their heroism and sense of loyalty really gives kids someone non-super to look up to.  I am less pleased with the continuing geek stereotyping of Ostin, however, I can also see how he is being used to give overweight kids or kids into computers and other geeky pursuits someone to attach themselves to.  If I had to have one complaint it would be that this book is rather graphic.  There is a lot of gross violence, including some really nasty things, and the descriptions of torture and mind control are also graphic and accurate, which all helps in making the book chilling and gripping but might be too much for some readers.  In all, I am even more pleased with this book than the first one and will be anxiously awaiting the next.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a non-biased review. 

28 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

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! 

  Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

March 19th 2013

Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network.

Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance—and into Raine’s life.

Mary E. Pearson brings the story she began in The Adoration of Jenna Fox and continued in The Fox Inheritance to a breathtaking conclusion as Locke discovers that being truly human requires much more than flesh and blood.

The Fox books are great.  I loved both The Adoration of Jenna Fox and The Fox Inheritance, and I can't wait to see where the story goes next!  Be sure to get your pre-orders in now for this book!

26 November 2012

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

My name is Michael Vey, and the story I’m about to tell you is strange.
Very strange. It’s my story.
To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers.

Michael thinks he's unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive.
 I hate saying "this is a boy book", but that's all I heard about this before I read it.  I can see why people are labeling it like that, though.  It's got a male lead character who has super powers, a strong plot line with arch-villains that don't really have much motivation for their dastardly deeds, and tons of action to keep the reader from poking holes in everything.  In fact, this book very much read like the narrative companion novel to an action movie.  That's not a bad thing, even though it may not appeal to all people.  It's just different from your character-driven romance novels. 

In fact, if I had to say something was lacking in this book it's character(s).  The characters are clear, but they're not really very differentiated from each other.  In fact, the author seems to characterize people by their super powers, which works okay for the kids but not really at all for the villains or the non-supers.  The differentiation is also very cliche' for the super kids, for example the one that can take away pain is super empathetic while the one that can take away power is a power-hungry torturer.  The cliche' doesn't end there, though.  The plot starts out very predictably: there's a boy hiding his super power, he discovers he's not the only one and suddenly a group out to get him kidnaps his girlfriend and his mother to hold as ransom until he uses his powers to do evil things for them.  The whole book reads pretty much as you'd expect with a plot like that.  However, just because it's predictable doesn't mean it's not also enjoyable.  The lack of character development is made up for in pure action.  There's a good dose of science thrown in, and I give special kudos to the author for trying hard to come up with a plausible reason for the superpowers and ways to differentiate powers while still grouping them along a theme.  In all, I label this book enjoyable but predictable, and which way the scales tip depends on the reader (and, possibly, their mood at the time of reading).

21 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Touched by Corrine Jackson

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! 

Touched by Corrine Jackson

November 27th 2012

Remy O’Malley heals people with touch—but every injury she cures becomes her own. Living in a household with an abusive stepfather, she has healed untold numbers of broken bones, burns,and bruises. And then one night her stepfather goes too far.

Being sent to live with her estranged father offers a clean start and she is eager to take it. Enter Asher Blackwell. Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his senses to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector recover their human senses. Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll becoming for her—if Asher doesn’t kill her first.

This is Book One in the Touched trilogy.

I love the unique premise with this book, and I'll be watching for it!

18 November 2012

Stacking the Shelves: November 12-18

The Cybils judging has me on the list for a ton of books, so to help me keep track of them I'm joining in this Sunday meme for a while.

From Publishers for the Cybils:

   From the Library:


16 November 2012


The Cybils are eating my brain y'all!  I've skipped yesterday's post and today's Follow Friday to read some more.  I'll hopefully get some reviews up next week of all the wonderful books I've been reading, and in the meantime comment and comment back on some of the stuff you've been saying here (I'm woefully behind, very sorry!).  I'm also contemplating a post or two about being a Cybils judge, not on the books themselves but about my mindset behind reading the books and what it's like to face a huge stack of tbrs that only gets bigger every day.  Would that interest any of you?

14 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Undeadly by Michele Vail

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! 

Undeadly by Michele Vail

November 20th 2012

The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.

The taken-to-hell books are becoming really popular right now, but I've not seen one that uses ancient Egyptian mythology, which gives this book edge enough that I'll try it out.

13 November 2012

Tortured by Caragh M. O'Brien

Now, in this new story that bridges the gap between Birthmarked and Prized, Caragh M. O’Brien answers her readers’ most common question with a tale of suffering and determination from Leon’s perspective. Be warned. The story is a spoiler for the first book in the award-winning trilogy.
This short story had great characterization.  I loved getting to know a bit more about Genevieve.  It also provided some very good clues to bridge the time between Birthmarked and Prized, but even better it was a coherent story in and of itself.  Recommended to readers between the two books.  Read it for free at http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/12/tortured.

Books n' Nails

12 November 2012

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.

Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.

I am ashamed that it took a Cybils nomination of the third book in this series to get me to go back and read the first one.  I am so glad I did though!  I immediately fell in love with Gaia and her crazy messed up world!  The first thing I noticed about this book is the language.  It is so beautiful!  It's not long or prosey, but it does have a lyrical feel to it, as if the book is really an old epic poem.  My next favorite was the character Gaia.  She is so realistically painted!  I loved her obsession with her burn, even though I saw the twist with it a mile away.  I also liked her determination and her caring and dedication to the women around her and the principles her mother instilled in her.  Grey is a great foil and the romance in the book is subtle verging on barely existing, which is nice because Gaia really doesn't have much time for romance with the breakneck plot that she's embroiled in.  That was the third thing I liked: the mystery.  This book has a great unknown and the pacing in revealing the details is genius.  I had to keep reading because we were always on the verge of discovering something new and very important!  Those discoveries always led to more questions than they answered, though, which keeps the plot rolling.  And this breakneck pace keeps the reader on the edge of their seat right up until the ending which, while not a cliffhanger, definitely leaves room for sequels and doesn't try to tie up the questions asked in a pretty bow.  I read the book in one setting and immediately ordered the next it was so good, I highly recommend you try this book.

11 November 2012

Stacking the Shelves: Nov 4-11

The Cybils judging has me on the list for a ton of books, so to help me keep track of them I'm joining in this Sunday meme for a while.

From Pyr for the Cybils:

 From the Library:

 Purchased E-Book:

09 November 2012

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

I'm off on a trip to Canada, so no Follow Friday today!  Instead you get an extra review from my Cybils readings:

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Blake is back, and so are her wonderful characters.  Cas is really the star in this book, he grows up a lot and we learn a lot about who he is and what he stands for.  He also retains his snark, which brings just enough lightness to some pretty heavy scenes.  Thomas and Carmel are along for the ride, and it was sweet to see their relationship morph as they tried to find their way in it and around Cas.  There's also this great new character named Jestine who I totally loved.  That's good, because you really have to love the characters to love this book because most of it is all about them.  Plot-wise the first half of the book just didn't work for me.  It was very slow, very angsty, and not quite put together, the pacing a total mess.  The book really hits its stride about halfway through and gets better from there, but I don't know if it's enough to excuse the first part.  The first half of the book really felt like "middle book syndrome", while the last part of the book scared the crap out of me.  The other issue I have with this book is that it's definately a series book.  You can't read it without having read Anna Dressed in Blood or it makes little sense. 

08 November 2012

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Blood sings to blood, Froi . . .Those born last will make the first . . . For Charyn will be barren no more.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home... Or so he believes...

Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.

And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

Gripping and intense, complex and richly imagined, Froi of the Exiles is a dazzling sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, from the internationally best-selling and multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road and The Piper's Son.
I think I'm going to dub the Finnikin books "YA Game of Thrones".  There are a lot of similarities between the two, and the epic fantasy political intrigue feels similar, too.  Froi of the Exiles is incredibly complicated.  I had the Game-of-Thrones problem of not being able to keep characters and plot lines straight as we switched back and forth between Froi and Lucian.  However, when I read carefully I was able to untangle the threads and find a plot that sparkled.  Marchetta has a unique ability to take a character that did some thoroughly dispicable things (attempted rape) and make him someone a reader wants to identify with.  Froi also had a great foil with Quintana, showing them as two people linked by fate and also in similar situations fighting to survive and make sense of a crazy world.  The pacing was a little strange due to the switching points of view, but it still had some real high points and the lulls were well placed.  The real gem was in the worldbuilding.  I loved being able to see yet another country in Marchetta's world, and I can't wait to see more!

07 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas

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! 

Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas

November 13th 2012

Beatrice, whose Visions are clearer than those of the other Seers, trains to defend the Institution and the City from the Dreamcatchers. As the City prepares for an invasion, a Dreamcatcher named Echo tells Beatrice that war is imminent, and they must save each other in order to survive. Beatrice keeps this information from her best friend, Gabe, jeopardizing her allegiance to him and the Seers. Now, threatened by both the Seers and the Dreamcatchers, Beatrice must learn who she can trust, and make decisions that may cause her to lose Gabe or Echo forever.

This book sounds like a mix between magic fantasy and dystopian sf, which really intrigues me.  I'll be watching for this book!

05 November 2012

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

From the very first page I fell in love with this book.  Kami is a wonderful character and I enjoyed being in her head.  I also really liked her connection with Jared and ((dude, most obvious spoiler EVER)) their shared mind-talk.  It was really nice to see how being a mind-reader made it HARDER to have a connection with a person, not easier.  The cast of characters around Kami is diverse and well fleshed out as individuals.  The book also had an amazing voice.  I thought it was hilarious that I was actually reading half the characters' dialogue in an English accent . . . it felt that real to me.  This is probably because the setting is very vivid and made me feel like I belonged on the English countryside (who am I kidding, I always thought that).  It's really good that this book has such great characters and setting, because the plot is seriously lacking.  Although there's a breathtaking conclusion the beginning is really slow and the pacing is atrocious.  The first half of the book seems to be "figured out something bad about Jared, Jared is blocking me out, can I trust Jared, find out what Jared's hiding, Jared is blocking me out . . ." ad nauseum.  It was so fun to learn more about Kami and Jared that I excused all these problems, but I can see how some people would be very annoyed with them.  Finally, just as the plot gets going there is a big crash-bang ending and then . . . nothing.  Talk about the mother of all cliffhangers!  I was left clambering for the second book, which I'll probably read in one setting just like I did this book.