Monday, November 19, 2012

Cold Days: By Jim Butcher



After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?
Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…His soul.


The worst thing about Cold Days is that finishing it means you will have to wait another year or so before you can read another new Harry Dresden book.

Besides that very sad fact, this book was amazing.

Cold Days starts out by introducing readers to Harry’s new life situation as the Winter Knight. Harry’s rehabilitation plan with Mab consists of everything from deadly fae trying to kill him, poisonous spiders, and pretty much every other dangerous and terrible fate thrown at him in a “if it doesn’t kill you it’ll make you stronger” sense. Of course once rehabilitated, the fun really starts, as Harry’s asked to do the impossible, kill an immortal.

The story moves on from there in a fashion somewhat similar to Butcher’s other books in the series. That said, while Cold Days does follow a similar pacing and formula for revealed points of information, there are some attributes that make this holy different. First, the entire book is seen through a dark and grave lens, making everything much more perilous and fewer moment of humor. This is reminiscent of the situations our heroes are facing, everyone has been damaged emotionally and physically by Harry’s passing and in the time afterwards. Further, readers will be shocked by the new secrets and alliances that are revealed in this installment of the series. The puppet master’s themselves are revealed for the first time, giving a brief glimpse into the Black Council, the cause of the infighting between summer and winter courts and the red and white courts, and the rise in power of the Fomor. Of course, with every question answered even more are raised.

That said, this in my opinion is one of the best things about the series. How Butcher builds these relationships and subplots over time, that even dedicated readers will be shocked by. Characters that barely had a mention five books prior are suddenly at the forefront. Everything can come back to haunt you. This constantly keeps readers on their toes, making the series utterly fantastic.

Each book in the series now, become a bestseller, and there’s good reason for it. It’s an amazing series, with fantastic characters that grow and change throughout the books, they are filled with action and adventure sure to keep readers guessing until the end. All in all, go buy Cold Days, but make sure to read the previous books in the series first, but don’t worry, it’ll be worth it.


Publisher: Roc

Published: November 27, 2012

Price: $27.95

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elemental: By Antony John



A mysterious and powerful fantasy adventure from a Schneider Award winner

In the near future, most of the population of the United States has been destroyed by the plague. The few remaining survivors live in colonies on the barrier islands off the East Coast. In one colony near Cape Hatteras, almost all the members have elemental powers and can control wind, water, earth, and fire. All but sixteen-year-old Thomas. When the Guardians, the powerful adult leaders, are kidnapped by pirates seeking to take over their colony, it is up to Thomas and a small group of teens to save them and preserve the mysteries of the island.


Who doesn’t love powers? Add pirates, secrets, and a hidden dystopian society, and sounds like you’ve got a grad slam.

Elemental has all that and more. Making it a fantastic lower YA book.

I heard of Antony John back when I read Five Flavors of Dumb, which was absolutely amazing. The characters were well crafted and realistic, the pacing at a good clip, and the story interesting and worth the read.

So when I saw that he was writing a book that sounded like The Last Airbender, I couldn’t wait to see what he pulled out.

The first thing to note is, Elemental is not Five Flavors of Dumb. John spends much less time developing characters and much more time creating webs of secrets and mysteries that middle grade boys and slightly older will love.

Of course, since there is so much time spent creating the many mysteries that drive the story, and very little time solving them, readers may feel as if the pacing is somewhat uneven. But with the cliffhanger of a revelation at the end of the book, which promises a sequel, it makes sense that John uses much of this book to set up the solutions that I feel confident will be revealed in later installments in the series.

The other thing that makes this book great for younger YA readers is the level of action in the book. Elemental includes kids spying on pirates, discovering powers, battling with weapons and powers, and telling the future. All of these things will keep hesitant readers continuing on in the book long after they normally would have lost interest.

All in all a fun book for upper-middle grade/lower YA readers that is chalk full of excitement and adventure. 


Publisher: Dial

Published: November 21, 2012

Price: $17.99

Days of Blood and Starlight: By Laini Taylor


Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Ar student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is--and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Sometimes I’ll read a book and will absolutely love it. But over time I’ll remember I liked it, but have trouble recalling exactly how much I liked it. I’ll try to tell myself that it was good but not fantastic, and that it just happened to come along at the right time in a reading spell. If I’m unlucky this feeling is right, but every once in a while a book will prove to me again why it really is fantastic. Days of Blood and Starlight proved to me just how amazing Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Days of Blood and Starlight really are.

Days of Blood and Starlight is absolutely amazing. I was hooked from page one and was utterly unable to put it down. School work had to wait, TV had to wait, friends had to wait, all until I reached the last page, leaving me gasping for more.

So to help you realize why I liked Days of Blood and Starlight so much here are a few of the reasons why.

First off, the characters are absolutely fantastic. They are full, realistic, and yet still maintain a sense of magic about them that makes them absolutely enchanting. Not only that but since many of the characters were introduced in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the author, Laini Taylor is able to delver further into many of the characters psyche’s. Personally I think my favorite characters in this book were Ziri, Amzallag, and Zuzana. All of them just bring such richness to the story, no matter the size of their part, and really just take this book to the next level.

Of course, besides the characters Days of Blood and Starlight is full of action, death, and jaw dropping surprises. I’m usually pretty good at predicting what will happen, but this book had me on the edge of my seat with excitement, eagerly awaiting what was going to happen next. Truly fantastic.

Finally, this entire series is just incredibly original. It is a breath of fresh air, cleansing the pallet of previous stale and unoriginal books that have accumulated in the recesses of the brain, reinvigorating the desire, nay, the need, to read again. Now when I say it’s original, I don’t mean every part of the book has never been seen by the light of day. There is a struggle in love, political deceit/backstabbing, and a war. But the characters/creations are vivid and imaginative, the situations pulse-pounding, and the solutions and decisions each characters make are will leave readers absolutely stunned.
And it is the combination of all of these aspects that makes this book unique and absolutely fantastic, truly one of the best books I’ve read this year. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Published: November 6, 2012

Price: $18.99

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ten: By Gretchen McNeil



Don't spread the word! Three-day weekend. House party.
White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do not want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which involve their school's most eligible bachelor, T. J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for three days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?


So I just finished Ten, and I have to say, wow is it gripping.

Fans of horror movies will see a lot of similar themes and scares in Ten, but even so and even knowing where it might go, it was utterly gripping. I honestly couldn’t put it down even though I knew I shouldn’t be reading this at night, (as now I’m scared and have to read something happy and more carefree), but wow if it wasn’t captivating.

Ten is filled with action, death, surprises, and as mentioned before is gripping in a way that will keep readers stuck to their seats until the last page. I’m not a fan of horror movies or books, but I do recommend this for anyone looking for a shocking and captivating book, especially if you’re a fan of the horror movie genre. Perfect for the Halloween season. 


Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Published: September 18, 2012

Price: $17.99

Link to Buy:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eve & Adam: By Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate



In the beginning, there was an apple –

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker's head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die – not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect . . . won’t he?


Do you remember the Animorphs series? That was the product of the collaboration of Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate. Since then, I’ve also been a fan of Grant’s BZRK series, so I couldn’t wait to see what these two had up there sleeves in Eve and Adam.

Eve and Adam started from a re-imagining of the story of Adam and Eve, and the two authors have done a wonderful job putting a new and fascinating spin on the old tale. Readers will be spellbound as Eve struggles with the bonds and uncomfortable disconnects of creating something as complex as a human, let alone the perfect boy.

But this story isn’t just about a girl making the perfect boy instead it’s filled with action, shocking secrets, moral decisions, and of course love.

I loved the way the book stars with a terrible car crash reeling the readers in immediately, and setting a precedent of action and adventure for the rest of the book. While the book doesn’t meet this precedent throughout the entire novel, there are plenty of action packed moments.

Besides the action, readers will enjoy the alternating POV of the different characters. My favorite character probably was Solo. He’s a strong, vengeful character, who is forced to reconsider his motivation after seeing the world through the eyes of Eve. He is likable and full of a take charge attitude that helps keep the story going at a nice pace.

Of course, while I really enjoyed the action and the characters, I did find a bit of the love triangle aspect of the book a little much. I understand that is one of the basic premises of the book, but I would have preferred it span over a longer period of time before such drastic decisions were made on these feelings.

All in all I liked Eve & Adam and can’t wait for the next book in the series. As the story leaves off with readers itching to find out more about Adam and the others. 


Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Published: October 2, 2012

Price: $17.99

Link to Buy:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars: By Katherine Marsh




Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born?

Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands?

Jepp of Astraveld needs to know.

He left his countryside home on the empty promise of a stranger, only to become a captive in a luxurious prison: Coudenberg Palace, the royal court of the Spanish Infanta. Nobody warned Jepp that as a court dwarf, daily injustices would become his seemingly unshakable fate. If the humiliations were his alone, perhaps he could endure them; but it breaks Jepp’s heart to see his friend Lia suffer.

After Jepp and Lia attempt a daring escape from the palace, Jepp is imprisoned again, alone in a cage. Now, spirited across Europe in a kidnapper’s carriage, Jepp fears where his unfortunate stars may lead him. But he can't even begin to imagine the brilliant and eccentric new master—a man devoted to uncovering the secrets of the stars—who awaits him. Or the girl who will help him mend his heart and unearth the long-buried secrets of his past.


Rarely do I read a book that is written with such advanced skill as to evoke images of great poetry, while at the same time possessing a level of ease allowing even the most reluctant of reader to be swept into the story.

All of this leaves only one word to describe Jepp, Who Defied the Stars.


Now because you probably want more from a review than just one word I’ll say a bit more about the book. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is one of the best written books I’ve read in a long while. It is full of beautiful written scenery and descriptions, yet gripping. It is filled with three dimensional characters that you see the faults in, yet still understand there decisions, as they’ve been built as humans not stick figured characters. And it moves at a startlingly quick pace for a book that spends so much time describing the surrounding world and characters in such in-depth detail.

Jepp is a fantastic character. He is smart, likable, and fallible. Of course this ability to make mistakes and be swayed by emotion is one of the reasons readers will love Jepp, as they will commiserate with his journey and growth, getting chocked up at the low points and feeling elated at the high. He is a well crafted character who is just a kid learning as he’s forced into impossible situations away from home.

Of course, besides making Jepp a wonderful character, Marsh also does a fantastic job recreating the world and situations of the 15 and 1600s. My personal favorite fact based location/character was Tycho and Uraniborg, which I found fascinating, reading as Tycho mapped the stars with nothing more than math they discovered and rudimentary materials. Absolutely fascinating.

As you can probably tell I very much Enjoyed Jepp, Who Defied the Stars. I thought it was well written, gripping, original, and balanced story building with plot development very well. All in all I would easily recommend this book to ANYONE I happen to come across, adult or teen. Go buy it. 


Publisher: Hyperion Book CH

Published: October 9, 2012

Price: $16.99

Link to Buy: