Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fade To Black: By Francis Knight



It's a city built upwards, not across - where streets are built upon streets, buildings upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from the sunlit summit, and where the forsaken lurk in the darkness of Under.

Rojan Dizon doesn't mind staying in the shadows, because he's got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can't hide for ever.

Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan - this is going to hurt.


Fade to Black is Francis Knight’s debut novel, and I have to say, it kept me glued to my seat.

It starts off with Rojan, the protagonist, trying to catch a runaway girl, who tries to electrocute him and set him on fire when he goes after her, and keeps at that level of action until the last page of the book.

Rojan, while a little ruff around the edges at first is a likable protagonist who over the course of the next few books in the series has the potential to really grow into a fantastic protagonist. Now, the character I really would have liked to have read more about was Dendal. Everything I read about Dendal I really enjoyed and in my opinion he has the potential to offer the story some Yoda style wisdom to help explain some of the happenings of the events as well as some comedic relief. I’m not saying the other characters were bad, in fact I really liked most of the characters, I just really liked Dendal and would like to read more of him.

One of my only problems with the book was the way that the author, Knight, kept repeating herself. I understand that she was trying to make the points that; that Rojan was scared of his magic and didn’t like to use it, that he was a womanizer, and that the synthtox, the predecessor of the glow, killed loads of people including Rojan’s mother. But the number of times I read and re-read these points was ridiculous and began getting a bit annoying as it takes the reader out the story and detracts from the overall level of enjoyment in the book.

That said, this was Knight’s first book, and I really enjoyed it overall. Further, I was able to read a preview of the next book in the series Before the Fall, and Knight does a great job picking up immediately where she left off, starting the story at a jog, and getting readers into the story with a bang.

So while Fade to Black wasn’t perfect, it had tons of action, had some good characters, and it entertained me. All in all, I really liked it and plan to read Before the Fall when it comes out as well. 


Publisher: Orbit

Published: February 26, 2013

Price: $14.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Fade-Black-Rojan-Dizon-Novel/dp/0316217689/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361866394&sr=1-1&keywords=fade+to+black

Monday, February 25, 2013

Better Nate Than Ever: By Tim Federle



Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.


I know this may sound like a bit of an over exaggeration, but I think Better Nate Than Ever may be one of my favorite books I’ve read.

Just like the protagonist, Nate, this book just oozes a sort of charm and hilarious innocence that is impossible not to love. Readers of all ages (I’m 24 and loved it) will find something that they can relate to in this hilarious tale of innocence, dreams, and family.

There’s just something about Nate that readers of all ages and sexes will love. He’s innocent, funny, kind but not perfect, and through his eyes you’ll see New York, not as dirty expensive place people sometimes grumble about, but as the most magical place on earth. Nate is awed at the simplest things, from an enormous Applebee’s, to $1 pizza being sold on the street, to the Duane Reeds and Cupcake shops on every corner. He’ll simultaneously make you crack up with the knowledge of what’s actually going on around him, and make you feel appreciative and lucky for the things you do have.

Of course, the author, Tim Federle, takes it one step further. He makes this into a book about love and lost, family and forgiveness, and about discovering the best version of yourself. But he does all of this without feeling corny or hokey. The story just flows, sweeping readers along, until they can’t think of anything else except if Nate will get caught by his parents, or make it to the next level of the audition. I don’t know exactly how Federle does it, but he makes all of these lessons, all the hilarity, all of the heart fit into one 288 page book, that readers wont be able to put down.

I know this all might sound like a bit much, but I’m being honest when I say this book was amazing. I fully plan to follow whatever Federle writes next, because if it has even half the heart that Better Nate Than Ever has, it’ll be one heck of a book. Perfect for all ages.


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Published: February 5, 2013

Price: $16.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Better-Nate-Than-Ever-Federle/dp/1442446897/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361855487&sr=8-1&keywords=better+nate+than+ever

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ex-Heroes: By Peter Clines



Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland. 

Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies—and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.

But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all. 


I don’t usually like zombie books, but I had heard a lot of good things about Peter Clines’ Ex-Heroes.

Wow is all I have to say.

Ex-Heroes may have made me change my mind on zombie books. Clines’ does a fantastic job creating strong interesting characters that are fun to read about, and even more fun to watch kick ass.

That’s one of the first things I have to say, if you enjoy a lot of cool action, battle scenes with different super powers, and just zombie’s getting beaten to a bloody pulp, then this book is for you hands down. The action will suck you in and not let go until the last page of the book.

Of course, while there are a lot of fights, the thing that takes this book to the next level in my opinion is the unique story and the way it’s presented. Clines does an awesome job of jumping back and forth between accelerating past and present storylines, filling in gaps in the readers knowledge while at the same time, keeping them sucked into the action. Not only was this a great way to paint a broader picture of the way of things as they stand, but it also was a great way to create back stories and show first person narratives to expand character development, making the book fuller and better overall.

To be honest, I loved Ex-Heroes. I can’t believe I waited this long to read it. The only good thing about my wait is that it allowed Clines to release Ex-Patriots, the sequel, and work on Ex-Communication, the third in the series. All in all everyone, even people who are not fans of zombie books, should try Ex-Heroes, as Peter Clines has crafted a truly fantastic book and I personally can’t wait to read his other books now. 


Publisher: Broadway

Published: February 26, 2013

Price: $14.00

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Ex-Heroes-Novel-Peter-Clines/dp/0804136572/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361775307&sr=1-1&keywords=ex+heroes

Trickster: By Jeff Somers



Magic uses blood—a lot of it. The more that’s used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find “volunteers” to fuel their spells. Lem, however, is different. Long ago he set up a rule that lets him sleep at night: never use anyone’s blood but your own. He’s grifting through life as a Trickster, performing only small Glamours like turning one-dollar bills into twenties. He and his sidekick, Mags, aren’t doing well, but they’re getting by.

That is, until they find young Claire Mannice— bound and gagged, imprisoned in a car’s trunk, and covered with invisible rune tattoos. Lem turns to his estranged mentor for help, but what they’ve uncovered is more terrifying than anybody could have imagined. Mika Renar, the most dangerous Archmage in the world, is preparing to use an ocean of blood to cast her dreams into reality— and Lem just got in her way.


Trickster is dark, brutal, gritty, and not for everyone. That said, if you’re willing or able to look past or enjoy these qualities then I say give it a shot.

At first Trickster was to much for me. The system of magic is a neat combination of language puzzles that are fueled by blood. It doesn’t matter who’s blood, it seems to comes a lot from junkies, prostitutes, and people who will to bleed themselves for others for a life of riches. The aspect that makes the protagonist, Lem, different from everyone else is that he’s a gifted crafter of the language, but he refuses to bleed anyone else but himself. This tends to leave him with a lifestyle of poverty, low blood levels, and pretty much mass unhappiness as he grists other people to barely make ends meet. Further, there is a hierarchy in the magic system and it comes as a surprise to no one, that Lem is at the bottom, since he wont bleed himself to get to larger more complex magics. But when one of the highest practicers in the world decides she wants to live forever, and is willing to kill everyone in the world to get the blood necessary to do it... well even a lower than low level trickster like Lem can't stand for that, and throw in a pretty girl, and you can just guess what happens. That said, Somer's does pack quite a few surprises into the mix, especially towards the end, so if you're up for a bit of spilled blood then give this a shot.

As for the story, it took me a bit of time to warm up to the gritty nature of the book itself. That said, once the action started kicking up, I couldn’t put it down. Somers’ shows some real promise in the action scenes and in the story after Hiram’s stand, it was at this point that the story and Lem felt like things could finally progress past the duck and cover stage of the book.

All in all, while some of the characters were a bit rough and the story a bit gritty and disturbing, I liked Trickster. About half way through the book there were action scenes galore, because of the events of Trickster Somers has set in motion some potential storylines that could be very interesting in future books. I feel like Lem evolved a bit as a character throughout the book, making him more enjoyable to read, and all in all there’s a lot of potential for future books in the series. So look for me when the next book comes out, because I’ll certainly be giving it a read.


Publisher: Pocket Books

Published: February 26, 2013

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Trickster-Ustari-Cycle-Jeff-Somers/dp/1451696779/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361769506&sr=8-2&keywords=trickster

Dragon Run: By Patrick Matthews



A boy goes on the run in this fast-paced fantasy debut.

Can a zero become a hero?

Testing Day is supposed to be a day of celebration for Al Pilgrommor. Born into a wealthy family, he expects to follow in his successful father's footsteps. Of course, that all depends on the rank number Al receives at the testing. The higher the rank he has tattooed onto his neck, the better his life will be.

To his surprise and horror, Al is revealed to be rank zero, the lowest of the low. He's now not only an outcast - he's also a danger to his entire family. So Al goes on the run, fleeing the brutal Cullers, men who hunt down zeroes . . . and put them to death.

Cast out of his home, cut off from his friends, and armed with only a sword and his wits, Al is reduced to just surviving. As he meets other outcasts, however, he begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a larger game - and that he might have the power to tip the scales in a high-stakes struggle between man and dragon.


Not only does Dragon Run have a great cover, but it also was a great story.

Patrick Matthews has created a fun, exciting, action packed story that is full of relatable and realistic characters. Truly a book I’d recommend to anyone looking for a good read.

As mentioned Dragon Run is full of action. It has sword fights, daring escapes from killers, and fire breathing dragons. The story though is what really hooked me and kept me glued to the pages. Dragon Run is fast paced, explains itself, so reader’s are not left with gaping holes in the story, and just plain well written. I really enjoyed every page and couldn’t wait to see what happened next to Al, Trillia, Bird, and Wisp. This is book is great for readers of all ages.

Of course, what made Dragon Run such a great book in my opinion were the characters. Matthews does an amazing job creating a group of characters (especially the protagonist Al) who show real emotions in a way that readers will be able to commiserate with the lots fate has thrown at them. Not only that, but while these 12 year olds do make a big difference (they being the protagonists and all) it wasn’t completely out of the blue. The fulfilled plans that had been in place for generations. Al’s sword fighting ability was good, but not extraordinary, his escapes from a dungeon, the Cullers, and the magistrate were all because of the help of others. Basically what I’m saying is while Al does turn the tide, everything that takes place in the book makes sense and is realistic. Society is not changed forever because one boy decided to make it so in a matter of days. Even Al’s escape and exile lasted weeks on end, and none of it could have been achieved if not for the help of others. Further, none of the characters emotions are fake. Readers will be able to see the shift from shock, to acceptance, to anger, to resentment, to determination, and all of the changes will make sense.

All in all, Dragon Run is a fantastic book. I have no problem recommending it to anyone who enjoys fantasy or YA and can’t wait to read more books by Patrick Matthews, especially if it includes further adventures with Al, Trillia, Wisp, and Bird.


Publisher: Scholastic Press

Published: March 1, 2013

Price: $16.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Run-Patrick-Matthews/dp/0545450683/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361768565&sr=1-1&keywords=dragon+run

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination: Edited By John Joseph Adams



An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.

Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.


I didn’t use to be a fan of anthologies, but I have to say over the last year or so they’ve really begun to grow on me.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is no exception to this new trend in my mind.

Edited by John Joseph Adams, a veteran of over a dozen anthologies, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is full of some interesting short stories. Some of them are from author’s who I’ve liked over the years, including Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will Be Invincible, Seanan McGuire, author of the Newsflesh novels and the October Daye novels, and Harry Turtledove. And others I had never heard of but will certainly be checking out now that I’ve read some of their material, such as Theodora Goss, Laird Barron, and Jeffery Ford. That’s what makes anthologies great, with the world of books expanding and with time so crunched in what we can read it’s hard to pick out and find new authors. Adam’s compiles a top notch level of authors, and while not all of them were my favorites, there were enough in there that did strike my fancy, that I have no trouble recommending this book as a fun and worth wile anthology.

Now, if I had to pick my favorite from the book, I’d have to say it was Austin Grossman’s Professor Incognito Apologizes: An Itemized List. Not only was it hilarious and original, but it reminded me why I loved reading Grossman’s works, in fact so much so that I went out and pre-ordered YOU, his new book coming out in April. The story is a memo of the inner workings of Doctor Incognito’s love life and plan to take over the world. It is funny, engaging, and makes me wish there were more to read on the doctor’s adventures.

All in all this was a fun book that introduced me to interesting new authors. Anyone looking for new books to read should check this out so they can sample a bunch of fun new authors.


Publisher: Tor Books

Published: February 13, 2013

Price: $14.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/The-Scientists-Guide-World-Domination/dp/0765326450/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361767697&sr=8-1&keywords=the+mad+scientists+guide+to+world+domination

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Red Knight: By Miles Cameron



Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild.

Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's jaws snap shut on your helmet in the hot stink of battle, and the beast starts to rip the head from your shoulders. But if standing and fighting is hard, leading a company of men - or worse, a company of mercenaries - against the smart, deadly creatures of the Wild is even harder.

It takes all the advantages of birth, training, and the luck of the devil to do it.

The Red Knight has all three, he has youth on his side, and he's determined to turn a profit. So when he hires his company out to protect an Abbess and her nunnery, it's just another job. The abby is rich, the nuns are pretty and the monster preying on them is nothing he can't deal with.

Only it's not just a job. It's going to be a war. . .


It’s so hard to talk about how amazing The Red Knight is without giving away half its secrets.

I think one of the best attributes of The Red Knight for me was the way that Miles Cameron was able to utterly surprise me at every turn. This was partially done by establishing likable characters on both sides of the fight in different skirmishes. Cameron started his weave of deception and captivation into the story by letting the reader get to know these characters hundreds of pages before their action begins.

Personally, I was frustrated at this jumping between smaller characters and subplots in the beginning of the story until I realized how deftly Cameron was weaving all the stories and characters together later in the book. In fact, every character and jump away from the main story line was carefully planned, establishing strong characters and a broader more complete picture for the story overall. Not only that, but because readers will be rooting for characters on both sides of the fights, readers will be town in who they want to win. Also this allows Cameron the flexibility to kill off characters, surprise the reader and make The Red a truly amazing book.

Of course as I mentioned above, there are a lot of characters in The Red Knight, and while at times it’s hard to keep them all straight Cameron does one heck of a job making complex and likable characters in this first installment of a five book series. Some awesome characters that come to mind are the Captain (AKA the Red Knight), Michael, Peter, Gaston, Sir Gawin, and Bad Tom (heck even with her limited role I loved reading about Pridentia). All of these characters are different than many of the characters that are in most epic fantasy novels today, and as the story develops become more and more flushed out.

All in all I loved the Red Knight. It was full of non-stop action, had great characters, and really surprised me. I personally can’t wait for the next in the series and recommend it to anyone looking for a book to read, because this is one of the next in a great line of fantastic epic fantasies.


Publisher: Orbit

Published: January 22, 2013

Price: $16.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/The-Red-Knight-Traitor-Cycle/dp/0316212288/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361168075&sr=8-1&keywords=the+red+knight

Monday, February 4, 2013

Prodigy: By Marie Lu



June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. 
But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?


Prodigy is the sequel to Legend, a blockbuster release of a YA novel that rocked readers socks off last year. Legend was filled with action, rebellion, mystery, a love storyline, and a post apocalyptic US thrown in for good measure. Both protagonists, June and Day, were strong willed and engaging to read. Basically Legend was a fun book to read.

Of course, the problem with writing a trilogy is always the second book in the series.

It’s incredibly hard to maintain the excitement and novelty of the characters and situations in a sequel, while at the same time not completely resolving the story. Further, second books in a series often end in a depressing note, allowing the third book protagonists to overcome the obstacles, unfortunately this usually leaves readers miffed at the end of the second book.

Luckily, Marie Lu, the author, does much better than most in crafting her second book in the series. Prodigy is still filled with action, it still has great protagonists, and it still is engaging to read. The love story aspect was laid on a bit thick at times for me, but I also prefer less of that than most, so to each their own.

I really enjoyed seeing how the rest of the world viewed the warring Republic and Colonies, especially the modern day switch with Africa, I thought that was well thought of by Lu.

Of course, while I enjoyed the little things like that, there were a few elements I had trouble swallowing. Such as the ease upon convincing certain people the change. How predictable some of the secret allegiances were, and the inevitable trouble in love paradise.

That said, I really liked Prodigy. It had action, adventure, interesting characters (mostly Day, June, and Tess), and while I didn’t love all of the storylines I liked enough to keep myself engaged and entertained. Finally because of the at the end of Prodigy, I was left shocked. To be honest, I truly can’t wait for the next in the series to see what happens next. 


Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Published: January 29, 2013

Price: $17.99

Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Prodigy-Legend-Novel-Marie-Lu/dp/0399256768/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360047528&sr=8-1&keywords=prodigy