Tag Archives: YA

Deadweather and Sunrise – The Chronicles of Egg

cover24769-small

Well dagnabit – now I have one more YA fiction series to add to my list. One more series that I have to keep up with and wait impatiently between release dates for. Why? Because this is an awesome new series.

Rodkey has created a fascinating world. There are elements of fantasy mixed with allusions to our actual history. It is a complex world that took a couple of chapters to begin to fully grasp, but was well worth it.

The story begins with Egbert narrating his own tale. From the start it is made very clear that he doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of his family. His brother and sister are terrors – and that maybe putting it mildly. His father is a bit of an enigma – I am optimistically hoping we will learn more about him in another book.

Egbert lives on an island in the middle of an ocean that is populated by pirates. All different kinds of pirates. Some of the descriptions of house pirates and field pirates has me sniggering out loud. The creation of the inhabitants of the island and the descriptions of life there are priceless and cleverly unique.

Egbert is a very real young boy. He is not perfect. He stumbles through his misadventures in a slightly comical way, but you are always rooting for him.

One thing that Rodkey does extremely well is mixing in a believable amount of truly frightening experiences and circumstances without getting weighed down by it. The novel still keeps its upbeat optimistic feel. An excellent example of this is the character of Guts, yes, that is his name. I don’t want to give anything away – so just keep an eye out for him.

Millicent is another intriguing character. Despite not appearing through the entire middle of the book we manage to see a remarkable amount of character growth with her. She becomes a much more complex and interesting person that I was expecting.

I am finishing with this review now so I can go read the next book.

You should pick up the first book.

Now.

 

I was provided a gratis copy of this book for review.

 

Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tsavelas

12067894

Marley grew on me – as did the rest of the book. But I spent the first chapter or two wavering between really liking it and being put-off by the unusual style. The longer I read the more the style grew on me.

I still think I would have liked the story even better if the writing had been slightly less esoteric – but even that couldn’t take away from the draw of the story.

Chrysoula Tsavelas has created a vivid reality in “Matchbox Girls” that feels well thought out. The angels/demons/humans idea has gotten a lot of play in the book world lately, but Tsavelas takes the familiar theme and creates new depths and twists. Mixing the Fae in as well was an inspired choice.

Marley is an interesting lead character. We are thrown into the middle of her world without a lot of explanation. This makes for a disjointed and somewhat confusing start. On one level this completely works. I was figuring things out as she was. Where it occasionally came up short is that the reader doesn’t have the knowledge of Marley’s history that Marley obviously has. A few times it almost felt like as a reader I was supposed to already know something that I had no way of knowing. This was a tiny bit frustrating.

There are freaky Angels, mellow demons and two adorable little girls (with intense powers) thrown in the mix as well. My favorite character by far though is “the Whispering Dark” – I mean how cool a name is that. And what a character. A part of me is sincerely hoping that behind that kaiju façade is some incredibly sexy dark demi-god that Marley can totally fall in love with. The chemistry between them was astronomically more intense than between her and either of the other 2 possible hook-ups.

Then there is the odd bit of steampunk  thrown in with the heavenly machinery. Jury is still out on that one, but secretly hoping to be convinced.

I really am looking forward to the next installment. I am hoping that the writing itself will be less disjointed. On the one hand it did help to get into the mind of Marley – who is on medicine to control what she believes is an anxiety disorder – and see the world perhaps as she sees it. On the other hand it seems a bit much at times. Maybe now that she is no longer repressing an integral part of who she is the writing will reflect that by becoming more concise as well. As long as it doesn’t lose the edge it has.

That’s not asking too much… right?

Oh – and more sexy kaiju. Can’t have enough of that particular sexy kaiju.

Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

I love finding completely new fantasy worlds. Especially when they are well thought out and vivid.

That is what I found in “Lichgates” by S.M. Boyce.

Kara Magari gets to do something so many of us science fantasy junkies would love to do. Enter a fantasy realm and become a figure of legend. Three chapters in and I was already so jealous of this chick.

Not that it is all rainbows and lollipops for her. Boyce has a created a history for Kara that makes it easily believable that she would choose to devote herself to this new realm and put our world in her past. While that may seem like a small thing it is often one of the few loose ends in otherwise well-crafted books. A big pat on the back to Boyce for doing this well.

Ourea is a beautiful world. It has been well planned and shows sparks of creativity is the peoples that populate it. There are hints of some of our favorite races from other fantasy realms – but no blatant rip-offs. It is more of a nod to those races. The ruling hierarchy and how it works is truly fascinating. I am excited to see how that plays out.

The concept of personal freedom takes on a very literal meaning in this book. The debates we normally see around this issue take on a more real as opposed to philosophical tone because of this.

There was a little awkwardness in the dialogue at the beginning but after the first few chapters this disappeared. Perhaps the beginning chapters could use a slight tweaking to fix this.

Braeden is a fantastic character. Multifaceted and intriguing. Talk about taking battling an inner demon to a new level, Boyce has done it in this complex character.

I am excited to see what this series brings.

 

I was provided a copy of this book for review.

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Usually I really hate starting a series in the middle or anywhere other than with the first book, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I started The Lost Prince. This is book 5 in a series. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this did not keep me from enjoying the book at all.

Julie Kagawa does a wonderful job creating a story that can stand on its own, but still feels like it belongs in a larger whole. That is difficult to do. Perhaps it was made easier because this book starts the story of a different character than the other 4 books. Whatever it is – it works.

There have been a multitude of faerie (fairy) books in the last few years – some of them have been really great – the majority have been rather weak. It is hard to take was is essentially a well-known concept that everyone has some knowledge of (though very few actually know any detail about) and make it fresh and new without bastardizing it. Kagawa has managed to do just that.

Ethan is an imminently relatable character. Yes he is supposed to be a loner, outsider and all of that – but the reasons why he is such are what make him someone we all can relate to. He has a deep compassion and goodness that speaks to anyone. And the difficulty fitting in and worry about hurting others is something most have felt.

The faerie worlds created seem vivid and real. I would like to know more about them and the history and such, but I understand that is one of the problems coming into a series anywhere other than the first. I will just have to go back and read the rest of the books to get my backstory. Which is as it should be.

The prose of the book is excellent. It has a very modern feel and moves very quickly. The new takes on some familiar characters is fun and quirky. Overall the entire book has a fresh feel with a hint of darkness. It contains elements of some of the most popular genres without being cookie cutter. There are hints of steampunk and vampire, but on the whole it is a unique and fully created world.

 

I was provided a copy of the book for review.

The Forever Contract – Avery Sawyer

This is a short novella in the burgeoning YA dystopian fiction genre.

There are some really good ideas here. The underlying main concept is fantastic. A world where you can choose to have your consciousness uploaded into a virtual world. Still being able to interact with those in the “real” world via computers screens is fascinating. The idea of watching those you know in their self-created virtual worlds. Even the reasoning behind why this is happening works – water shortages that cause wars, arid land that won’t support crops. Then throw in an undercurrent of suspicion. A few that don’t believe everything they are being told. The set up and the background are great.

Where this novella lets the reader down is in the execution.

Perhaps it is because the concept is too large to be contained in a novella, but the entire story feels rushed and lacking.

The bare bones are there but nothing is given depth or fleshed out. The main characters, Casey and James, are mere facades. They are not real people yet who encourage the reader to become attached. The potential is there.

Casey is a young woman about to make a huge life altering decision. Her boyfriend James is facing the same decision. But the entire tension between their differing views is played out in grade school type dialogue that is far too simplistic for what should be complex and deeply layered emotions.

The same happens in what should be climactic moments. They end up falling flat because the reader has not suspended that disbelief and embraced the world Sawyer is trying to create.

This disappointed me. I wanted more. If the time were taken to develop this into a full length series (if properly fleshed out I easily see 2 books just with what story is already there and a 3rd or even 4th book of what is hinted and left unanswered) it could be mesmerizing. I want to know what the secrets are. What caused the water wars? What is really going on in Chicago? What is the real purpose behind the uploads? What was James’ mom doing?

There is a lot of potential. But it cannot be recognized until the story, the world and most importantly the characters are fully realized. This means giving the depth and complexity they now lack.

 I was given a free copy of this novella to review. And while happy to have had the chance to glimpse what could be, I would not have purchased this in its current form.

Recent Entries »