Friday, February 28, 2014

Half-Off Ragnarok: By Seanan McGuire



What do gorgons, basilisks, and frogs with feathers all have in common? They're all considered mythological by modern science, and some people are working very hard to keep them that way. Alexander Price is a member of a cryptozoological lineage that spans generations, and it's his job to act as a buffer between the human and cryptid worlds—not an easy task when you're dealing with women who has snakes in place of hair, little girls who may actually be cobras, and brilliant, beautiful Australian zookeepers. And then there's the matter of the murders...

Alex thought he was choosing the easier career when he decided to specialize in non-urban cryptids, leaving the cities to his little sister, Verity. He had no idea what he was letting himself in for. It's a family affair, and everyone—from his reanimated grandfather to his slightly broken telepathic cousin—is going to find themselves drawn in before things get any better.

I had heard good things about Seanan McGuire for a while now. I had heard positive things about her Toby Daye series, her Mira Grant books, and her InCryptid series. So deciding I’d start somewhere I picked up Discount Armageddon, the first in the InCryptid series. Let me just tell you, it was fantastic. It was fun, had tons of action, was full of engaging characters and put a great twist on the whole monster that goes bump in the night motif. In fact, I liked it so much that I finished both the first and the second book in the series (Midnight Blue-Light Special) in a manner of days, leaving me wanting more. Luckily for me, Seanan McGuire is an incredibly prolific writer.

Now, the third book in the series, Half-Off Ragnarok is slightly different than the first two books in the series. The biggest difference is that this volume follows Alex Price (Verity’s geekier brother). It still follows the events of Midnight Blue-Light Special, but if a reader had to, they would be able to pick up the story and have a grand ol’ time reading the third book in the series first (now I would recommend reading the books in order, but if you haven’t read the other books and this one happens to be calling your name, then have no fears that you wont be able to follow the story.)

Besides changing the protagonist and the setting this book is very similar to the previous books in the series. It is full of fun action, there is a love interest that is filled with problems, its has hilarious quotes from older Healys and Price’s to start each chapter, and it’s just a good fast read. I personally liked the first two books in the series better, but I think that had less to do with Alex, who I liked quite a bit as a protagonist, and more to do with the nature of the mysteries being solved. That said, I fully recommend Half-Off Ragnarok as well as all of Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid Series, particularly for anyone who wants a series they wont be able to put down.


Publisher: DAW

Published: March 4, 2014

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Road Rash: By Mark Huntley Parsons



After being dropped from one band, 17-year-old drummer Zach gets a chance to go on tour with a much better band. It feels like sweet redemption, but this is one rocky road trip. . . .

Zach's in control on the drums, driving the band, keeping things moving at the right pace. But when the show is over, his timing is all off. The jealousies and rivalries within his new group keep him off-balance. The awesome original song he recorded backfires. And the girl he left back home is suddenly talking about this other guy . . .

Road Rash is a fun engaging book that has a great voice that will reel you in and wont let go until the last page.

I loved Road Rash, not only did I commiserate with the protagonist, but like a a great song I could feel all the emotions Zach was going through. I could feel his frustration with bend flare-ups, his confusion with girl problems, and most importantly his love and joy of the music. In my opinion, that’s one of the key distinguishing factor between a good YA (heck this is true for any book, but particularly for YA) and mediocre or bad YA, whether or not the audience is able to feel the emotions that the author is going for. If you’ve bought into the book to the extent that you’re riding the waves of emotion that the protagonist is feeling, then the author has done a good job. Well let me tell you, Mark Huntley Parsons has done a great job.

Of course, on top of loving the characters and the writing, I also thought Parsons did a fantastic job balancing all the different storylines, thus creating a healthy medium for them to build off one another without any of them overriding Zach’s main journey (the only storyline that I wanted Parsons to come back to that he didn’t was the postcard storyline (I understand what he was getting at, but I still would have liked to come back to it)). This, coupled with Parsons excellent pacing of the book, kept me reading to the point that I started and finished the book in the same day.

All in all, I really liked Road Rash. I would easily recommend it to anyone looking for a good read, particularly if they liked Tara Kelly’s Amplified, Jacob Slichter’s So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star, Antony John’s Five Flavors of Dumb, or Love Maia’s DJ Rising (all fantastic books!). In fact, all that’s left to say after finishing Road Rash is ENCORE!


Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Published: February 11, 2014

Price: $16.99

Link to Buy:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Grasshopper Jungle: By Andrew Smith



In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.

This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.

I think the first and most fitting thing to write in a review about Grasshopper Jungle is that I have never read a book like this before. I don’t say that lightly either. I’ve read hundreds of YA books, and thousands of science fiction and fantasy books, and I can honestly say I’ve never read anything quite like Grasshopper Jungle.

Grasshopper Jungle is one part coming of age/confused sexuality YA, one part end of the world horror story, all rounded out with countless non sequitur that somehow connect to the story in a somewhat meandering and plodding path.

To say this was an odd book would be an understatement. To say this was a bad book would be wrong. No, this was a book that kept me fascinated from the first page, as well as kept me guessing. I think that’s one of the strangest things about this book, the way that Andrew Smith arranges all of these seemingly conflicting story lines into a book that is able to not only able to hold them all in without bursting but also thrives amongst these jarring plots.

While only some of the characters are deep, all of them are true. The statements, analogies, stories, and histories that Smith weaves through his protagonist, Austin, are a strange combination of enlightenment, truth, hormones, and profanity. Through these discoveries on the human condition as well as personal discoveries by the protagonist, readers will reminisce and relate to many of the thoughts and feelings that Austin waxes on about.

All in all, I think most people might be scared off by this book. And that’s fine, this book is not for everyone. What it is though is a book that evokes emotion, captivates the reader, and will leave the reader sitting dumbfounded at the end both wanting to know both more and less all at the same time. I can’t say for certain that others will enjoy this book but I believe that I can say that I did, and that was enough for me.


Publisher: Dutton Children's 

Published: February 11, 2014

Price: $18.99

Link to Buy: