Friday, July 30, 2010

Ship Breaker: By Paolo Bacigalupi



In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life. . . .


In the current hype of dystopian young adult fantasies, acclaimed writer Paolo Bacigalupi joins the fray with his politically pointed Ship Breaker.

Ship Breaker tells the story of Nailer, a teenager who works as light crew, climbing through the catacombs of the old oil ships collecting whatever metal that hasn’t been stripped down yet. Life is hard for Nailer and his crew and has few rays of hope penetrating his world.

That is until he meets Lucky Girl. She is the only survivor of a massive ship wreck and also happens to be the daughter of the president of an enormous shipping company. Now Nailer and Lucky Girl have to run to find someone still loyal to her father, as her uncle and Nailer’s father hunt them down, hoping to find them and kill them. But with time running out and Nailer’s father closing in, the question remains. Will they survive?

I had heard a lot about Paolo Bacigalupi from his critically acclaimed Windup Girl, and so was more than a little excited to get my hands on his young adult novel Ship Breaker. I expected it to be exciting, engaging, and full of action.

It lived up to its expectations and more.

Ship Breaker is engaging from the very start. As Nailer is forced into life or death decisions and is left for dead by one of his own crew in the very first pages. You really get a sense of the character through his interactions and situations he’s thrust into in these early on experiences and it is through this sense that readers and critics alike will learn to love Bacigalupi’s teenage protagonist. He is sharp, strong, and just enough of an underdog type character to make him endearing.

That said not all the characters are as well developed as Nailer. Pima, her mother, and Lucky Girl, while important to the story did not even come close to receiving the level of development Nailer received, making them slightly two dimensional and weaker characters.

Ship Breaker is well written and pushes a strong environmental message without over pushing it. Because of this and its strong protagonist this story is a great read that fans of dystopian futures should flock to.


8.5 out of 10


Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Published: May 1, 2010

Price: $17.99

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dark and Story Knights: Edited by P.N. Elrod



It was a dark and stormy knight, and nine dark defenders embarked upon a most perilous quest….

They’re the ultimate defenders of humanity—modern day knights who do dark deeds for all the right reasons. In this all-star collection, nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors bring us thrilling, all-new stories of supernatural knights that are brimming with magic mystery and mayhem.

John Marcone sets aside his plans to kill Harry Dresden to go head-to-head with a cantrev lord in Jim Butcher’s Even Hand. Kate Daniels is called upon for bodyguard duty to protect Saimen, a shifter she trusts less than the enemy in Ilona Andrews’ A Questionable Client. Cormac must stop a killer werewolf before it attacks again on the next full moon in Carrie Vaughn’s God’s Creatures. And in Vicki Pettersson’s Shifting Star, Skamar gets more than she bargained for when she goes after a creature kidnapping young girls—and enlists the aid of her frustratingly sexy neighbor.

When everything’s on the line, will these knights complete their missions and live to fight again another day? Find out in Dark and Stormy Knights!

Includes stories from:

Ilona Andrews

Jim Butcher

Shannon K. Butcher

Rachel Caine

P.N. Elrod

Deidre Knight

Vicki Pettersson

Lilith Saintcrow

Carrie Vaughn


Fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresdan series expecting to get the short story that occurs right after Changes will be severely disappointed. As that story isn’t in Dark and Story Knights it’s in Side Jobs. But for everyone else who isn’t confused between the two books will enjoy Dark and Story Knights immensely.

Butcher’s short tells the story of the infamous mobster, John Marcone, as he defends his territory in the name of someone else. Butcher fans will love getting a glimpse into the mind of Chicago’s most notorious villain. Marcone is meticulous, cold, and dead set against Dresdan, and yet Butcher is able to make even this monster of a man seem human. The story isn’t long and fans and first time readers alike will be disappointed with its brevity, but it is a creative intriguing story that will entertain and delight all who read it.

Rachel Caine’s story was a surprise to me as well. It didn’t involve her Weather Warden series, her Morganville Vampire series, or her Outcast series. In fact it didn’t even involve her previous books Devil’s Bargain or Devil’s Due, it was a fresh new short story.

And it was great.

Rachel Caine really demonstrates her creativity and strength as a writer with Even a Rabbit Will Bite. It is captivating and exciting as it reads like the final chapter in a twelve book series, spanning hundreds of years. Caine is able to effectively capture the pain and loss each character feels and is able to express the imperfection in each character, reversing the roles of both characters and leaving the reader in awe of the talent for this story.

Dark and Story Knights is a fantastic collection of short stories from many talented writers, including Ilona Andrews, Carrie Vaughn, Vicki Pettersson, P.N. Elrod, Deidre Knight, Lilith Saintcrow, Shannon Butcher, and the before mentioned Rachel Caine and Jim Butcher. Fans of any of these authors will enjoy reading their stories as they are introduced to new and exciting writers that they will certainly love. Making Dark and Story Knights a great place to learn about new and talented writers as well as a great stopping ground between books of your favorite authors’ series.

7.5 out of 10


Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Published: July 20, 2010

Price: $14.99

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Discord's Apple: By Carrie Vaughn



When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope’s Fort, Colorado, is not the only legacy she stands to inherit. Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom, a place where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. The magic of the storeroom prevents access to any who are not intended to use the items. But just because it has never been done does not mean it cannot be done.

And there are certainly those who will give anything to find a way in.

Evie must guard the storeroom against ancient and malicious forces, protecting the past and the future even as the present unravels around them. Old heroes and notorious villains alike will rise to fight on her side or to undermine her most desperate gambits. At stake is the fate of the world, and the prevention of nothing less than the apocalypse.


What is more powerful than legends?

It is through legends that men can leap tall buildings, women can fly through the night, and men and women of all shapes and sizes transform from ordinary, into something extraordinary.

Discords Apple tells the story of legends. It has created a tale of what happens when magic leaves the world for something better. When the world is in peril, and there is no mystical man to stop it at the last second.

Discords Apple tells the story of the end of the world.

But don’t fear for magic is still in the world it is just stored for later use in the house of Evie Walker. And it is through her hands that the world will either be saved, or burn into a pile of ash.

But with the world in the state that it’s currently in, is it better to preserve what is broken? Or is it better to risk the world to be created anew, like a phoenix rising from the ashes?

Only Evie can decide.

I’d been looking forward to Discords Apple for some time.

It looked like it had everything; mythology, urban fantasy, and an interesting story.

Boy was I wrong.

While Discords Apple has some great ideas in it, it just wasn’t that great as an overall novel. Really what Vaughn did was write a book with three different stories in it and try to connect them into one. The problem with this was it was poorly done. I really didn’t see any reason at all to have the excerpts from Evie’s comic in there. Yes it could have been forshadowing her independence, and demonstrating what she felt for other characters. But even so there could have been much easier and better ways to do that.

After reading the book what I really would have liked better was an entire book about Alex. His story was interesting and never fully explained, such as what happened between giving the items to the Walker family and meeting Evie? He had centuries to wander and look for a way out of his slavery, and yet this is never talked about.

Not only that but I felt the biggest hinderence to the book were its characters. This may have just been me, but I never felt any emotion for any of the characters except for Alex. I thought Evie was boring and didn’t care about her, Arthur was black and white, and Hera was laughable.

All in all I did not like Discords Apple. I had been expecting something great and was given a book with poorly constructed characters, fragmented stories, and a poor and unsatisfactory ending, making this a big disappointment.


3.5 out of 10


Publisher: Tor

Published: July 6, 2010

Price: $23.99

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Newton and the Counterfeiter, the Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist: By thomas Levenson



In 1695, Isaac Newton--already renowned as the greatest mind of his age--made a surprising career change. He left quiet Cambridge, where he had lived for thirty years and made his earth-shattering discoveries, and moved to London to take up the post of Warden of His Majesty's Mint. Newton was preceded to the city by a genius of another kind, the budding criminal William Chaloner. Thanks to his preternatural skills as a counterfeiter, Chaloner was rapidly rising in London's highly competitive underworld, at a time when organized law enforcement was all but unknown and money in the modern sense was just coming into being. Then he crossed paths with the formidable new warden. In the courts and streets of London--and amid the tremors of a world being transformed by the ideas Newton himself had set in motion--the two played out an epic game of cat and mouse.


What do you think about when you think of Sir Isaac Newton?

Most people would only be able to say he discovered gravity.

And yet the life of Sir Isaac Newton encompassed so much more than that. He invented calculus, the silver standard, and prosecuted the most notorious counterfeiter in English history.

And it is through Thomas Levenson’s Newton and the Counterfeiter, the Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist that we are introduced to this multifaceted life of Isaac Newton.

Newton and the Counterfeiter, the Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist is a brilliant biography of Sir Isaac Newton. Readable and enjoyable, Levenson introduces us to the genius, Isaac Newton, and makes him a flesh and blood character rather than the bland name we learned in history books. Levenson’s love of Newton is apparent as Levenson makes the reader experience the excitement and importance of Newton’s discoveries and shows how Newton literally changed the world. At the same time, Levenson takes the reader on a tour of seventeenth century England, including the criminal element of that time. At the end of the story the reader has learned about alchemy, economics, prison systems, and the details of counterfeiting in Newton’s day, all in a page turning enjoyable read.

One of my only qualms with the book in fact was that it was severely misrepresented. From reading the back cover and other information on Newton and the Counterfeiter it was marketed as a mystery novel, and an intricate one at that, but after reading it, Newton and the Counterfeiter has proven to be almost anything but. It showed intricate and interesting information about Newton, his life, his experiments, but when it came to any aspects dealing with the mystery part of the book, it was slow, repetitious, and lacking on any mysterious element. In fact if one thing is to be said about Newton and the Counterfeiter it is that it’s a wonderful biography, but only a relatively mediocre mystery.


7 out of 10

Publisher: Mariner Books

Published: April 12, 2010

Price: $14.95

Monday, July 19, 2010

Accomplice: By Eireann Corrigan



Finn and Chloe have it all figured out. Their school guidance counselor has told everyone that it's not enough to get good grades or do community service anymore - kids like that are everywhere, and colleges are bored of them. So what do you do? Chloe decides they should get attention another way. She and Finn will stage her own disappearance - and then Finn will be the only who finds and saves her. What college wouldn't want them after that kind of attention? It seems like a good plan -- until things start going very wrong.


What would you do reach your goals?

In Accomplice, Eireann Corrigan has created an engaging moral dilemma of a story, begging the question, what do you do when a seemingly innocent plan spirals out of control?

Accomplice tells the story of two good, but only slightly above average students, Finn and Chloe, who enact a plan to gain national media attention to allow both of them to achieve their goal; to get into whatever college they want. The plan involved one of the girls hiding for days on end, causing a commotion and convincing the town to think she was kidnapped. The other girls job was to convince everyone she didn’t know where she was and then find her days later.

What they didn’t count on was how it would effect everyone else.

In this emotional rollercoaster ride, Corrigan does a terrific job of showing the different levels of guilt the girls exhibit and what it does to their friends, family, and to themselves.

While Accomplice was well written and was impressive in the way it was able to convey the girls emotions, I only thought it was ok. This could have been because I wasn’t sold on the way the story was initially set up jumping back and forth between the past and present without any indication on what was happening, or because I never truly cared about the characters.

All in all Accomplice was mediocre. It was not a bad story, nor was it poorly written, but it didn’t do anything to make me love it. Making it a book you could pick up at your local library but by no means something that will go flying off the shelves.


4.5 out of 10


Publisher: Scholastic Press

Published: August 1, 2010

Price: $17.99

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blood Song: By Cat Adams



Bodyguard Celia Graves has definitely accepted her share of weird assignments, both human and supernatural. But her newest job takes the cake. Guarding a Prince from terrorists and religious fundamentalists is hard enough, but it seems like the entire supernatural world is after this guy too. When she is betrayed by those she is employed to help, and everything goes horribly wrong, Celia wakes to find herself transformed.

Neither human nor vampire, Celia has become an Abomination—something that should not exist—and now both human and supernatural alike want her dead. With the help of a few loyal friends—a sexy mage, a powerful werewolf, and a psychic cop—Celia does her best to stay alive. On the run from her enemies, Celia must try to discover who is behind her transformation…before it’s too late.


If I’m being truly honest here, I wasn’t looking forward to reading Blood Song.

I thought it was just another vampire knockoff book that was poorly written with a sub par plot that focused on sex.

Boy was I wrong.

Blood Song was engaging, entertaining, and an all around enjoyable read. It does not focus on vampires or sex but instead is a well written urban fantasy novel.

The story follows Celia Graves, a bodyguard for hire who is turned into an abomination, half vampire half human, when a protection job goes horribly wrong. But instead of focusing on how to reverse the effects or catching her maker, the story instead follows a completely new turn that complicates the plot and sets this book up for multiple sequels.

Graves is a smart, strong, and endearing protagonist who fans of fantasy will flock to. But most importantly Cat Adams (the nom de plum of C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp) have created a well written captivating world for Graves to run around in that readers will love.

The only complaint I had for Blood Song is that there are a few mysteries that seem to need an explanation to understand key points in the characters behavior that are not explained. I understand that the book is designed to be a series that will eventually reveal these mysteries, but it felt like a few of them could have been explained now to further the understanding of this story.

All in all Blood Song is a great book that truly surprised me. It is fun and exciting and will captivate readers worldwide. I enjoyed this book immensely and I personally can’t wait for the sequel.


9 out of 10


Publisher: Tor Books

Published: June 8, 2010

Price: $14.99

Xisle: By Steve Augarde



Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X-Isle, the island where life is rumored to be easier than on what's left of the mainland. Only young boys stand a chance of getting in, the smaller and lighter the better. Baz and Ray are two of the lucky few to be chosen, but they soon discover that X-Isle is a far cry from paradise. Ruled by Preacher John, a dangerous religious fanatic, it's a violent, unpredictable place, where terrible things can happen at any moment. The boys hatch an extraordinary plan in order to protect themselves-the construction of a mighty weapon of defense. But can they complete this weapon in time, and are they really prepared to use it to secure their freedom?

Powerful and compelling, X-Isle is a fast-moving thriller and a great read for boys. Filled with suspense, fights, adventure, and mystery, this is a book that will keep you guessing right to the very end.


Imagine a world where most of the land has been destroyed by floods.

Humans are bundled together trying to survive in whatever way they can, clinging to the last vestiges of their previous lives, their old world.

Now imagine there is place that still seems to retain some semblance of order. A place where people get to eat three times a day, sleep in beds, and where the people there work towards creating a new world.

This is the legend of Xisle. Wouldn’t you want to be there?

Of course Xisle is nothing what it sounds like. Instead of being a place filled with peace and harmony, it is a work camp, where a mad god fearing man runs the boys he tricks into coming to the island to the bone. A place of deceit, pain, and betrayal. A place where animals and people alike are sacrificed, children are beaten, and where hope goes to die.

Welcome to the new world order.

Xisle is another follower of the Hunger Games’ success. It is a young adult novel about a futuristic dystopian society where children will do anything to survive.

And yet it truly was a great book. It has interesting characters, surprising twists, and plenty of action. Augarde really knows what he is doing as this book offers up just enough moral dilemma at the end of the book to create a captivating ending that will keep readers both happy and satisfied.

All in all Xisle is a fun and satisfying book. It was fast paced and offered up plenty of action. And while it does appear to ride on the coattails of Hunger Games, it is imaginative and engaging, making it a great summer read for kids and teens of all ages.


9 out of 10


Publisher: David Fickling Books

Published: July 13, 2010

Price: $17.99

Seth Baumgartners Love Manifesto: By Eric Luper

Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto


Seth Baumgartner just had the worst day of his life.

His girlfriend dumped him (at Applebee's), he spied his father on a date with a woman who is not his mother (also at Applebee's!), and he lost his fourth job of the year. It's like every relationship he cares about is imploding, and he can't figure out what's going on.

To find answers, Seth decides to start an anonymous podcast called The Love Manifesto, exploring "what love is, why love is, and why we're stupid enough to keep going back for more." Things start looking up when Seth gets a job at a golf club with his hilarious and smut-minded best friend, Dimitri, and Dimitri's sister, Audrey. With their help, Seth tracks down his father's mystery date, hits the most infamous bogey in the history of golf, and discovers that sometimes love means eating the worst chicken-salad sandwich you can ever imagine.


While SBLM (Seth Baumgartners Love Manifesto) comes across as a typical young adult novel filled with love, hi-jinks, and the occasional moral lesson, it is so much more than that. It does contain everything mentioned above but does so in a way that makes it all so much deeper. Luper is able to do this by both establishing a strong relatable protagonist (Seth) as well as creating situations that many if not all teenagers have at least experienced in their lives. And yet Luper takes it a step further, he leads the reader along with a certain set of expectations of what the book is about and then twists it at the last second changing the angle of the plot entirely.

Besides offering a sensational twist in the plot SBLM also demonstrates engaging characters, strong dialog, and an interesting story. And while at first I was scared of how Luper was going to incorporate the podcasting, it turned out to be very enjoyable, giving it a unique edge from other young adult books.

All in all SBLM was a fun summer read. It will not most likely win awards, but it is well written, engaging, and relatable, making it a great summer read for teens of all ages.


8 out of 10


Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Published: June 8, 2010

Price: $16.99

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Monster: By A. Lee Martinez



Meet Monster. Meet Judy. Two humans who don't like each other much, but together must fight dragons, fire-breathing felines, trolls, Inuit walrus dogs, and a crazy cat lady - for the future of the universe.

Monster runs a pest control agency. He's overworked and has domestic troubles - like having the girlfriend from hell.

Judy works the night shift at the local Food Plus Mart. Not the most glamorous life, but Judy is happy. No one bothers her and if she has to spell things out for the night-manager every now and again, so be it.

But when Judy finds a Yeti in the freezer aisle eating all the
Rocky Road, her life collides with Monster's in a rather alarming fashion. Because Monster doesn't catch raccoons; he catches the things that go bump in the night. Things like ogres, trolls, and dragons.

Oh, and his girlfriend from Hell? She actually
is from Hell.


Imagine a world where monsters are real.

Yes, the interesting monsters and the boring monsters. Everything from Unicorns to Yetis. And while that may seem all well and good right now, when you’ve got a large infestation of griffins keep eating your asparagus, there’s only one place to call.

And no it’s not ghostbusters.

It’s the CCRS (Crytpobiological Containment and Rescue Service), and before you know it your monster problem will be gone (with the appropriate proof of insurance of course). Be sure to ask for Monster.

This is the world of A. Lee Martinez’s Monster. Monster also happens to be the main character of this hilarious and sarcastic book. Monster is a just a regular guy (who happens to have different powers depending on the different color he wakes up as) who wants to get through the day as easily as possible. He’s got a red hot girlfriend (she’s actually red, being a succubus from hell and all), and a pretty good life. That is until he meets Judy. Creatures keep popping up around Judy making life much harder for Monster, something he doesn’t like one bit. But now that Judy is the key to a fight for the freedom of the universe Monster decides he can try to help her out. If only eh can remember where he put his car keys…

Monster is an incredibly funny book. It’s got interesting characters, funny situations and dialogue, and a decently fast paced plot. But what makes it truly great is the satiric nature of Martinez’s writing. He’s able to turn menial labor jobs into the funniest thing you’ve ever heard of, taking this book from an ok read to a must have for humor fantasy readers.

Monster is a great read for fans of Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett, or Christopher Moore, as Monster battles out the forces of nature while he grumbles about not getting overtime for this. A great summer read.


9 out of 10


Publisher: Orbit

Published: February 1, 2010

Price: $7.99

Monday, July 5, 2010

Black Blade Blues: By J.A. Pitts



Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twenty-somethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval re-enactment group.

The lead actor breaks Sarah’s favorite one-of-a-kind sword, and to avoid reshooting scenes, Sarah agrees to repair the blade. One of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help. And that’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be magic, as the "dwarf" claims? Are dragons really living among us as shapeshifters?

And as if things weren’t surreal enough, Sarah’s girlfriend Katie breaks out the dreaded phrase… “I love you.” As her life begins to fall apart, first her relationship with Katie, then her job at the movie studio, and finally her blacksmithing career, Sarah hits rock bottom. It is at this moment, when she has lost everything she has prized, that one of the dragons makes their move.

And suddenly what was unthinkable becomes all too real…and Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine who is needed to save her world.


Mythology has been in style in fiction for centuries. Whether it be the Odyssey or Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief, people are interested in mythology. Unfortunately not all mythology has been as widely used and accepted as others. For example while people across the world can tell you who the king of Olympus was, very few could tell you anything about Norse or Egyptian gods or myths. Black Blade Blues tries to rectify this problem by bringing to light the stories of Norse mythology.

Let me start this review by saying Black Blade Blues was an ok book. It had some interesting aspects, including; Norse mythology, swords, action, a band of fighters, and magic. But it was still missing something. That something is not apparent to the naked eye, for if you look at Black Blade Blues and what makes it up, you would say it would be a great novel.

Norse Mythology: Check

Urban Fantasy: Check

Action: Check

Decent plot: Check

Reasonable Dialogue and interactions: Check

But still there was something missing from taking this novel to the next level. That said Black Blade Blues is not a bad book at all. If you are fan of Norse mythology or want to be by the time Thor comes out in theatres, then this is a great book for you. But for me it was still missing something from making it the next Harry Dresdan or Nightside series. And so because of this I would say a good summer read, but not a must have summer read.

7 out of 10


Publisher: Tor

Published: April 27, 2010

Price: $15.99