Monday, September 30, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trailer Tuesday: The Eye of Minds

Well, here's another great book trailer by Random House.  Seriously, they keep putting out these great trailers for these books I already can't wait to read.  I enjoyed the Maze Runner, so I can't wait to see what James Dashner comes out with next.  Anyway, The Eye of Minds looks quite intriguing  so check out the trailer below.

Now here's the book summary.

An all-new, edge-of-your seat adventure from James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, The Eye of Mindsis the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.  And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team.

But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.  Quoted from Goodreads

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meme Monday

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: The Wicked Within

Her fate is not set in stone.

Having temporarily defeated Athena, Ari races to break the gorgon curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries. Her one lead sends her on a quest for the Hands of Zeus, an ancient relic last seen in the charge of New 2’s ruling elite, the Novem. But if there is one thing that Athena desires as much as revenge, it’s the Hands of Zeus—and Athena always gets what she wants.
Before either can locate the Hands, the statue goes missing, and a trail of blood follows those who once protected the relic’s secrets. Ari knows that her city, her friends, Sebastian—her life—depend upon her finding the statue before Athena. And with rumors an ancient power is on the rise, that may not be her only concern . . . Quoted from Goodreads


If you've already read the first two books in this series, this won't be a hard sell.  If you haven't, this might be one you need to pick up.  Individually, most of the elements of this story have been seen before.  Hodgepodge of mythological creatures? Check.  Tortured love interest whose inability to communicate causes angst? Check.  Tough as nails heroine, who also manages to be beautiful, while struggling with her own powers? Check.  New Orleans? Check. Evil villain? Check.  Mysterious side character who ends up being vital to the story? Check. Yep, all here---which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your mood.  Still, Kelly Keaton throws everything together to form a compelling story, one with its own twist and turns and background that makes this series one definitely worth checking out.

First, I love, love love the whole Medusa angle.  We get Athena as the villain (poor Hera finally gets a break), and a 2500-year-old curse about to descend on our MC, Ari.   That's what drew me to the story in the first place.  Medusa is always portrayed as the villain, and Athena gets to be the benevolent  enlightened Greek god.  This turns that all on its head, giving the mythology a twist, and this last book is no exception.  

All the characters that you've grown to love over the series are back, along with some new ones.  I've loved watching Ari figure out who she is and her place in New 2 (I love what the author has done in creating this city/world).  Sebastian is dealing with what happened to him at the end of the last book, adding even more issues to their relationship.  We do, however, get a few chapters from his POV, and I loved that.  I loved seeing why he did certain things, and other things, well, Ari wasn't there, so it's nice not to hear major plot points second hand.

The action in this book is even better than the preceding two.  Of course, it's the end, so you kind of expect that, but it's not always guaranteed.  I though the ending was done really well.  Tension continues to build, and Athena proves she really is the goddess of war, manipulating events in a way you can't help but admire (all the while despising because she is the bad guy here).  I love good villains, and she is brilliant.  

Basically, this is an exciting, paranormal adventure. It's a solid 4 stars and a satisfying conclusion to a fast-paced series.  I should probably warn readers about the language, if that's an issue. At this point, I'm kind of sad to see the series end, but I'll admit, I'm kind of hoping there's a spin-off.  Everything wrapped up nicely, but there are enough unfulfilled prophecies and new characters that I could easily see another story.  I'm kind of hoping it's from Violet's POV, but we'll see.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: The Burning Sky

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.  Quoted from Goodreads    Check out the trailer here: The Burning Sky.


This has been one of the most delightful surprises this fall.  Between the premise and the cover, well, I had high hopes, and this more than delivered.  Was the book perfect?  Probably not.  But it was excellent, well done, and I kind of loved it.

First, I loved the characters.  Iolanthe (okay, that name's a mouthful) and Titus are such great characters.  The book's told in duel POV, and each voice very is distinct.  Ioanthe is, in so many ways, your typical 16 year old girl.  Her life hasn't been perfect, and she's not sure she really up for the hand destiny seems to be dealing her. The best part about her is her growth an change throughout the novel.  She's never a weak, wimpy character, but neither is she a hero, and I loved watching her change and grow into her potential/destiny.

Then we have Titus. He's so utterly dedicated to his cause, it's awesome and kind of sad.  Still, it makes him an excellent character. He's so completely good at what he does.  Everything is planned out, every action, every word has a purpose. People like brilliant characters, and he is ruthless, calculating, and brilliant. 

Their relationship is adorable.  I love the romance.  It's slow building (thank you, no insta-love) on both sides, with a solid foundation.  Plus, it never overwhelms the book. It's a delightful development that plays a part in the larger story.

Speaking of story, I love the world Sherry Thomas has created. Yes, there could be more world-building, but I think this book has made an excellent beginning. Magic of different sorts abound, and I loved the contrast between their magical world and England circa 1880. I particularly enjoyed all the little end notes the author included with deeper insights into the history and the world, that you could read then or read later.  It helped flesh out the book without slowing down the action with overlong exposition. The world feels unique, full of fun ideas and an overwhelming villain---well, sort of. This book the villain doesn't really appear until the end.  Instead we get the villain's second in command (who is evil enough in her own right), which provides the perfect build-up for the first book, so we can save the best for last (I mean ,this is a trilogy).  

Basically, this book has everything you could want in a fantasy.  It's got the great evil, brilliant characters, rise of the underdog, romance, action, hidden identities, magic, and a quest against impossible odds.  With the conclusion of Rae Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorn trilogy, I've been looking for a great fantasy series, at this could very well be it.  I'm giving this book a strong 4.5 stars, and I can't wait for the next book to come out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: United We Spy

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever.  Quoted from Goodreads


I love this series.  Seriously. It's light. It's fun. And the stakes get higher and higher with each book.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what I thought about it when I first started reading the series.  I mean, the girls first "secret mission" was to find out how to talk and flirt with an ordinary boy.  It was funny, don't get me wrong, but I mostly just thought about all the waste spy opportunities  if that was going to be the girl's great mission.  Plus, I never really had the desire to label Josh as one of my book boyfriends.  Zach on the other hand . . . well, let's just say the boys, like the books, got better and better as they progressed.

This book is probably the most action packed of the bunch and a lot darker.  Like the last Harry Potter (minus the boring wandering around with no clue what to do next), it moves away from the school and into the real world as the stakes go global. Cammie's left the school before, but this time she takes all her friends, and every one of them is needed.

Cammie's grown up a lot over the course of the series.  What happened in the last book really affected her, and she's still dealing with some of those scars.  It makes you appreciate Zach, Bex, Liz, and Macey even more.  Ally Carter's created such a strong group of friends, and I love that. I really appreciate that Cammie didn't just get the boy and forget everyone else in her life.  All of her friends are there to help her, and while I love Zach, the series is called Gallagher Girls for a reason.

Basically this book is everything you ever wanted in a conclusion.  It's action packed to the end, full of twists, most of which I didn't see coming, but it's also full of hope for the future.  I especially loved the talk at graduation.  It really captured what the books were about.

If you're looking for a fun series with lots of action, humor, and friendship, you need to read these books.  They're a blast from beginning to end, and I've loved watching the characters change and grow.  This series (and the book) are a stunning 5 stars for me. You couldn't ask for a better closing book. I've loved the time I've spent with these characters and I can't wait to see what Ally Carter comes up with next. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Trailer Tuesday: Steelheart

At this point everyone who follows my blog must know of my love for Brandon Sanderson, so it makes sense that I'm thrilled about his upcoming book Steelheart. If you haven't head of him, well, this is as good a book to start with as any.  Or you could check out his 2013 hugo-winning novella, The Emperor's Soul.  Anyway, they just released the trailer for Steelheart a few days ago, so check it out below.

Now, here's the quick summary from Goodreads and the cover. Enjoy!

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. 

Nobody fights the Epics... nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. 

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.    Quoted from Goodreads

Monday, September 16, 2013

Meme Monday

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Shorts: The Transfer

More Four! Fans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by "The Transfer," the first of four new short stories told from Four’s perspective. Each brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory, and relationships.  Quoted from Goodreads


I've thoroughly enjoyed the Divergent trilogy so far, so of course I have to pick this up.  Here's the thing.  I like Four.  I love Four.  He's a great character and the perfect compliment to Tris, so of course I'm thrilled to hear more about his story.  Plus, with Allegiant coming out and being told from Tris and Four's POV, it's nice for the novellas to balance things out.

Since, the summary doesn't really give us a lot of details, this is basically Four's choosing ceremony and first day in his new life.  It shows where his name comes from (yeah, if you've read the other books in the series, this really isn't a spoiler), and him figuring out the person he wants to be.

I did really like the material covered in this book.  Honestly, we don't really learn anything new, but we do see scenes we haven't seen before, we get a lot more details on things that were previously glossed over (Four's relationship with Marcus---Ugg---and some interesting things about his mother.)

My one complaint is it's length.  I realize it's a series of 4 novellas, which will make for a great "book," but when I compare it with Rae Carson's The King's Guard or Jodi Meadow's Phoenix Overture, it seems short and incomplete by itself.  And, well, you're paying the same price for a lot less book. It's a bit like my complaint with Free Four.  That was so short I felt sort of cheated.  Still, this is much, much better than Free Four, so don't let that discourage you.  The material is good, it's just (at least by itself) not as good as a lot of the other novellas out there.

Still, like I said again, I love seeing the early version of Four---pre-Tris---when he's still figuring out who he wants to be and where he fits in the world. This novella's a fun read.  I can't wait to see what the other three will be about (besides Four, of course).  All in all, this is a great 3.5 stars for me. Maybe once I've read all four (ha, ha, you see what Veronica Roth did there?) I'll bump them up to 4 stars. Still, it's a great little something to tide everyone over until Allegiant comes out.  Then after, we'll have more to hold us over until the movie!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: Blackmore

Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?   
 Quoted from Goodreads


This book is exactly what I needed right now.  I've been reading so much paranormal/fantasy/scifi stuff, and will continue to do so (have you seen my Anticipating September list?), that this was the perfect contrast.

This is the second book I've read by Julianne Donaldson---I adored Edenbrook, but you never know.  She could be a one hit wonder.  Doubtful, since everyone I know who's read it really enjoyed it, but still . . .  some people liked this one better, other people liked that one.  All I can say for sure, if you liked Edenbrook, you need to read this.

This book is cute, adorable, but also kind of sad.  Kate's family is horrible, especially her mother who is nothing but pure, undiluted, tawdry evil, and her sisters aren't much better.  Her brother's cute, her father distant, but there was no hope for the girls. That actually kind of made me sad. Her two younger sisters aren't even mentioned, but with a mother like that and no Kate to help them, I don't see a lot of hope for their future.  Plus . . . well, besides Kate and her single aunt, there really aren't any good female characters in the whole book.  Basically all the fathers are absent and the mothers manipulative. Even Kate's best friend is a lazy tattle-tale and the "perfect" Miss St. Claire is designed to get on your nerves.

Still, this is a "proper romance" and the romance itself is excellent.  Henry's sweet, caring, and everything you could ask for.  Kate, well, she's messed up by her family and her secrets, has a bit of a temper, but she's also kind, fun, and desperate for adventure.  I loved watching the way their relationship unfolds. Half of it's in the past, half at Blackmoore, but with each chapter you can't help but cheer them on, hoping they can work everything out, even as you better understand the things keeping them apart.

If you like the Regency Era or are just a fan of Edenbrook, you should check this out.  It's a sweet, delightful romance that you can't help but fall in love with. Right now, I'm giving it a strong 4 stars. If you're looking for a great romantic read, look no further.  I'm definitely a Julianne Donaldson fan, and I'll be keeping an eye out for anything else she writes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: The 100

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.   Quoted from Goodreads


I have mixed feelings about The 100.  Don't get me wrong.  I totally get why the CW decided to adapt this for television. We have four main characters, everyone has a secret, there's survival, life in space vs. returning to earth, lies, romance, a lot of teenagers running around without adult supervision, dystopia meets science fiction, etc. Something is always happening.  There are cliffhangers and flashbacks galore.  It's really perfect for television with seasons and seasons of episodes and plenty of material to play with, I can see this going far.

That's really part of the reason I decided to read it now.  I wanted to form my own opinions, get to know the characters for myself before the CW takes over my imagination.

Like I said before, there's lots of action, secrets, lies, etc.  All our main characters have been convicted, everyone is hiding something horrible, and it takes most of the book to find out what it is. Which was half my problem.  I loved the mystery aspect, but I had a hard time connecting with our main characters.  It doesn't help that we only get each one's POV ever four chapters.  The book's a fast read, but it wasn't a long time to make a real connection.  Then there are all the secrets.  Everyone's a bit shady, even if they did bad things for good reasons.  Everyone is broken.  It makes for great storytelling and intriguing characters, but at least for me, it made them hard to connect to.  

The ending was absolutely horrible. I'm all for cliff-hangers, but leaving each of our four main characters on a different sort of problem is just mean.  It's so exhausting that it's hard to really feel for them individually.  You just get a nice lump of dread in the pit of your stomach as the book ends.

I also wanted a little more world building.  The book was so short---okay 277 pages, but with two very different locations, multiple story lines, flashbacks,  and four POVs, it's hard to cram much in. We have forbidden love, a love triangle (note: these are two very different plots with different characters), survival on a "new" world, establishing a good group dynamic/organized labor/power play, medical emergencies, everyone's backstory to establish, etc. While it's all interesting (and again perfect for TV) this first book seemed a little rushed and everything was a tad underdeveloped for me.

Still, this is the sort of read that's hard to put down.  Something is always happening, secrets are spilled, discoveries made, and you have to keep turning pages.  Honestly, I'm intrigued to see where the author will take the rest of the series.  This book throws the reader into a much larger story, and I can see the next few books getting better and better.  For me, it's a nice, 3 stars. Really, it's got everything you look for in a book, I just wished it would have focused a little bit more, maybe concentrated on one or two story plots and really developed them.  But it's only the first book, like I said, and I'm excited to see what happens next. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday Shorts: Phoenix Overture

This breathtaking and lyrical novella captures a thrilling and momentous decision for a young man and the people he loves. Told from the perspective of Sam, the sensitive musician from Jodi Meadows’s Incarnate series, lifetimes before he meets Ana, Phoenix Overture is a story of love and loss, strength and courage, and facing the consequences of the hardest of decisions.

Phoenix Overture offers existing fans a deeper insight into a favorite character and the intriguing history of Heart, while new readers will find a stunning introduction to this rich world and the romantic, captivating fantasy of the Incarnate series.

In the wilds around the Community where Sam and his family have taken shelter, life is dangerous. Dragons, trolls, centaurs, and other monsters fill the world. The word comes from the council that everyone must leave and journey to rescue their leader, Janan, who has been abducted by a mysterious new enemy in the north. Faced with overwhelming threats that bring death and destruction, Sam and the others reach the northern Range and, reunited with Janan, are given an unimaginable opportunity. Although it would give them the privilege to live and learn and love without fear, the choice is not without its own dire consequences. And lives—though not theirs—are sure to be lost. Just how much are they willing to give up to save themselves?  Quoted from Goodreads


Excellent.  Perfect. Exactly what it should be.

I could just quit there.  Really.  Much like Rae Carson's  The King's Guard, this is everything I look for in a novella.  First off, it's 138 pages, so you honestly do get a decent story with this one.  There's enough time to really explore Sam's character and origins. Second, we see a lot of things that we don't get in Incarnate and Asunder.  There is very little retelling of stuff we've already learned.  Sure, we know where the book is headed.  We know who Janan is and what he will become.  We know Sam and Stef.  But the rest of it.  It's all new---so knew, in fact, that even Sam doesn't remember what happened in this book. 

As for the actual plot of the book, it's it's own, heartbreaking adventure. I love seeing where Sam comes from.  Sure he has thousands of lives, but the core his personality and the things that shape him are the same.  We also get some of those perfect moments: the first time Sam plays the piano, the first time he shares his flute music with others, his first meeting with Stef. They're all here for us to enjoy. We also get to learn about Sam's original family. Yes, I know that's a weird sentence, but I found it fascinating.  

Of course there are still unanswered questions I'm guessing Infinite will address, but the story is a perfect prequel.

So, should you read this book?  Absolutely. This is an amazing series, so anything that leads you to it is worth it.  Plus, if you've read the other books, it's an excellent addition to the world-building and background of the story.  I'd actually read it after reading Asunder because it does  have some spoilers for that book, though, because it's a prequel, I can see why you might want to read it first.  And you probably could.  You'd just know a few things before Ana figures them out.

This gets a strong 4 stars from me. Like I said above, Jodi Meadows writes the perfect novella. Now I have to suffer until January for Infinite to come out.  At least September is an excellent month for books . . .

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays

"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. 
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.   Quoted from Goodreads


Maybe I'm being overly generous because I'm still caught up in the world of All Our Yesterdays, but I love this book.  I mean, did you read that premise?  I was sold on that alone. Add to that the excellent cover, and I was a fan already.  Time travel books, if they're done well, are some of my favorite, and this is no exception.  I love the idea behind it, the contrast and similarities between Em and Marina, and the way the story plays out.

The story starts out with a bang and never really lets up.  We first see Em in prison. Everything is bleak, the world is broken, and  then she gets a message form herself.  From the future.  I mean, great hook right there.  

I loved the contrast between Marina and Em.  Em is dedicated. She's been on the run, tortured, and imprisoned for months.  Marina is the epitome of rich and spoiled, with shallow friends and an unrequited crush on the boy next door. Then something happens, and you get to see from Marina's POV the beginning of Em's world. It makes Marina a little bit harder to connect to than Em at first, but she grows on you.  Plus, her plot line is so interesting, you can't help but be excited when we see the story through her eyes. I won't go into too many details because I don't want to spoil anything, but I loved the duel point of view.

As for the time travel, itself, it's kind of fun.  I love the list.  The crossed out list of fifteen other things Em has tried to change the past besides killing him.  I love the loop. The way she's lived the same four years over and over again, each one a tiny bit different, but ultimately leading to the same place.  Sure, it's kind of convenient the way time itself is a player, healing and preventing catastrophic paradoxes, but it's kind of interesting, too.  It's a fun little spin, you just have to have an open mind.

Besides just time travel, we get lots of different kinds of action. The parts from Marina's POV come across more like a political thriller, full of government conspiracies, assassinations, and the secret service.  Em's is all about the time-travel side of things: watching how things change, her fears of loosing the bits of good that came with the bad, and eventually the end of this version of herself.  Plus, there are a lot of fun reveals.  Some, of course, are pretty easy to guess, but there were a few I wasn't expecting, and with time travel, that's always fun.

As for the romance, it's deceptively complicated and surprisingly sweet.  We get to watch as one relationship begins to fall apart while another one grows. You know where the book is heading, and while your heart sort of breaks for the characters, there's hope there too.  

All in all, I'm going to give this a strong 4 stars, which basically means everyone should read this.  It's an excellent beginning to a new series  and I can't wait to see what happens next.  Everything really does sort of wrap up at the end, but there's a few loose holes I can see leading towards the next book. Still, while I can't wait to see where the author takes this, it's also a satisfying book on its own---so you kind of get the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review: The Morning Star

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1890

Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, wants to be known as a doctor, not a necromancer. But Tsar Alexander III forbids women to attend medical school; his interest in Katerina extends only to her ability to raise the dead. Twice now, Katerina has helped him by using her power to thwart the forces of darkness—vampires bent on resurrecting the lich tsar Konstantin Pavlovich so that he can take what he sees as his rightful place on the throne. Katerina thought she had bound Konstantin to the Greylands, the realm of the dead, but he has found a way out. Now he is searching for the Morning Star, a sword that will allow him to command a legion of supernatural warriors.
Katerina must find the sword before Konstantin does—and she must travel to Egypt to do so. Along the way, she puts up with unwanted attention from her former fiancĂ©, the nefarious Prince Danilo, and struggles with her feelings for her true love, George Alexandrovich. But with the looming threat from Konstantin, Katerina's focus remains on the sword. Russia's fate will be determined by whoever wields the Morning Star—and delivers the final blow.   Quoted from Goodreads


I'm kind of sad to see this series end. Part of me also hates to see things drag on and on, so I'm a bit conflicted. It was fun, I love the different/magical take on history, and I finally figured out most of the Russian titles (I was really confused in the first book). 

What I loved.  First off, the history.  I know that sounds silly in a book full of vampires, necromancers, fairies, etc. but it's true.  You can tell the author really did her research, lining up certain events in the book with real, historical happenings.  It makes this series stand out from so many others.  I love that George Alexandrovich really did travel to Egypt about that time, that Tsar Alexander III forbade women from attending medical school in Russia.  It all played into the book's magical plot, but also fit historically.

Second, I really do love Katerina and George. Their relationship was adorable.  I love how Katerina is, in many ways, a girl ahead of her time, but not in that annoying, transplanted 21st century girl thing so many books fall victim to.  I love her passion for medicine and how that also fits into history.  Then there's George.  After the first book, I immediately had to look up what happened to him in real life.  We all know what happened to his famous/tragic brother, but him? I had no clue.  The nice thing about this series, too, is that despite its parallels to history, it offers more hope for change.

As for the action, there's plenty of it to go around.  We get some interesting new threats, plus all the old ones come back . . . often in ways I didn't expect.  There are Katerina's private struggles, her moments to shine, then there's the epic battle you sort of knew the three books were building towards.  As for our villains, one is delightfully evil, the (sort of) other, ambiguously complex, and I love that.  It keeps everything from getting too black and white, while also not allowing things to get too twisted into knots in the grey area.

All in all, this is a fun series, especially if you like alternate history or Imperial Russia. Honestly the book is probably a 3.5 stars for me, but because I enjoyed the series so much, I'm bumping it up to a 4.  It's a very different book from so much of what's coming out right now, that I found it refreshing, interesting, and so much fun to read.  I can't wait to see what Robin Bridges does next.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Anticipating September

Ah, beautiful, lovely September. It is one of the best month for books. If you don't believe me, check out my list below.  I'm pretty sure it's the longest one this year.  Plus, these are just the books I'm excited for.  This doesn't include all the other ones out there that I've never heard of or don't really interest me right now.

Really, there are so many titles here I've been waiting for.  First, of course, is Ally Condie's conclusion to her Gallagher Girls series.  But then there are so many other new books or continuations of great series that some weeks I hardly know where to start.  Plus, I'm still stuck in the amazingness that was August 27th's book releases, so who knows what I'll do this month.  I do actually have other things I should be doing besides reading.  Sometimes.

Anyway, here's my list.  Check them out.  I'm way too excited for most of them, and who knows how I'll make it through all of them, but oh well.  It's going to be a great month for books.

                   Eternal –Kristi Cook
                    Scorched – Mari Mancusi
                    The 100 – Kass Morgan
                    Island of Fire – Lisa McMann
                    Phoenix Overture (novella) – Jodi Meadows
                    The Last Apprentace: I am Alice – Joseph Delaney
                    Conjured – Sarah Beth Durst
                    The Transfer (novella) – Veronica Roth
                    The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black
                     Starry Nights - Daisy Whitney

            10th: The Chaos of Stars – Kiersten White
                    The Antigoddess – Kendare Blake
                     Thornhill (Hemlock #2) – Kathleen Peacock 
                     Blackmoore – Julianne Donaldson

            17thUnited We Spy – Ally Carter
                     The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater
                     The Burning Sky – Sherry Thomas
                     Battle of the Ampere – Richard Paul Evans
                     The Wicked Within – Kelly Keaton

            24th: Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson
                    Untold – Sarah Rees Brennan
                     A Radiant Sky – Jocelyn Davies
                     Vicious – Victoria Schwab
                     A Spark Unseen – Sharon Cameron
                      Find Me –Romily Bernard 
                      Inhuman –Kat Falls 
                      Through the Zombieglass - Gena Showalter