Monday, February 23, 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic: By V.E. Schwab



Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there's Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London...but no one speaks of that now.Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.


V.E. Schwab (AKA Victoria Schwab) is an amazing writer who with every book published further proves her talent.

V.E. Schwab's first adult novel, Vicious, was dark, poignant, and utterly captivating.

Knowing the above facts, it is no surprise that V.E. Schwab's second adult novel, A Darker Shade of Magic, does not disappoint.

Of course the best part any V.E. Schwab novel are the characters. Each character is just so delightfully vivid that readers will feel as if they've known them for years, leaving readers with a longing for more once the last page is finished. Kell, the protagonist, is delightfully complex, a character who appears to have everything and yet is unhappy, distant, and yet when push comes to shove is willing to throw his own life away if it means saving those he loves. Coupe this with a strong, street smart thief who has somehow managed to keep alive a tiny shred of hope for the future and a protective instinct for those smaller than her that forces her into unsightly situations, and you have a receipt for likable character that are sure to get into mayhem galore.

But A Darker Shade of Magic is not just character development, world building, and sensational covers (seriously! both the UK and the US covers are amazing) it also is filled with captivating magic, betrayal, and magic fights to the death, all moving at a clipping pace to leave even the most in shape of readers winded.

Between the sensational characters, the superb writing, and more action and intrigue than you can shake a stick at it's no wonder that I highly recommend A Darker Shade of Magic and am personally waiting on the edge of my seat for the next thrilling installment in this wondrous series. Therefore, if you are a fan of young adult, fantasy, or just good writing with engaging plots and relatable and likable characters, then both V.E. Schwab and her newest book, A Darker Shade of Magic are for you.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Gloria O'Brien's History of the Future: By A.S. King/100 Sideways Miles: By Andrew Smith




Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she's never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way...until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person's infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions--and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women's rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

I have been on an existential YA kick recently. Of the books I’ve read I have particularly loved A. S. King’s Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future and Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles.

First, I’d like to say that I am a huge fan of A. S. King and Andrew Smith, these writers are absolutely superb. They have written absolutely spellbinding works of fiction such as Winger, Reality Boy, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, as well as many others, that manage to simultaneously defy any normal writing style and thought pattern while at the same time play on such key and fundamental emotions that readers will think it is their world and experiences that these amazing writers are describing.

Glory O’Brien tells the story of a girl who learns how to finally reach past the fear, sadness, and loneliness that she lives in after her mother’s suicide, while 100 Sideways Miles tells the story of a boy with epilepsy, describing in beautiful and heart wrenching detail his struggles, his first love, and his fears.

One of the things I loved so much about both of these books was the incredibly relatable and potent protagonists. These protagonists spoke/thought with such profound truth and raw emotion that it was impossible to not be left in awe of them.

These novels focus on a piece of these protagonists lives, the story does not end with these books, it is merely finished telling the tale, finishing in a way that will leave readers both yearning for more while at the same time finding these beautiful vignettes of life positively radiant.

All in all, these authors are absolutely sensational. Their prose are superb, their characters both unique and relatable (I still don’t know how that can be but they manage it), and the stories they tell are both captivating and mesmerizing. I can’t praise these books and their authors highly enough and I implore you if you are looking for something spectacular to read to go out and give Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future and 100 Sideways Miles a chance.

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Finn Fancy Necromancy: By Randy Henderson



Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy at the age of fifteen, when the surviving victim of a dark ritual was found in his bedroom. Convicted and exiled to the Other Realm for twenty-five years—twenty-five years as a disembodied soul, tormented by the Others—Finn is now being set free.

But his return is met by a magical attack on his escorts, and he finds the body of the woman he was accused of attacking all those years before, freshly murdered with necromancy—the perfect frame job.

Finn has only a few days to discover who is so desperate to keep him out of the mortal world, and find enough evidence to prove it to Arcane Enforcers who already view him as a criminal.

Unfortunately, his family is little help. Father has become a mad magical inventor. Brother Mort fears that Finn wants to take over the family business. Sister Samantha is now a jaded hacker allergic to magic. And simple but sweet brother Pete still believes he’s a werewolf because of a childhood dog bite.

Finn is joined by Zeke, a former Arcane Enforcer and fellow exile seeking to prove himself worthy of returning to duty—even if that means proving Finn guilty. Together, they will battle magical creatures, family drama, and the challenges of Finn's love life as they race to solve the mystery of who wants Finn returned to exile, and why.

Finn Fancy Necromancy does not attempt to hide the ball as to what kind of book it is. It is filled with whimsical and sarcastic humor, centers around a mystery supported by a good deal of action and magic, and throws in a number of 80's references into the mix for good measure.

This is not a serious fantasy such as Game of Thrones, but it is not trying to be. Instead this is a humorous romp of magic and mayhem, similar to Terry Pratchett's Discworld series that will be sure to entertain and put a smile on your face while you read.

The author, Randy Henderson, sets the stage for this amusing reading ambiance by creating a protagonist that is likable, relatable, and has a sarcastic wit. This coupled with the humorous mischief and mayhem the Finn and the other characters get themselves into (including evading yeti's by pouring piss on their heads) make Finn Fancy Necromancy a fun and entertaining book to read.

Overall Henderson has done a fantastic job creating likable characters, a compelling story, and enough humorous dialog and mayhem to keep most readers plastered to their seats to the last pages. All in all, I highly recommend Finn Fancy Necromancy and think it's perfect for fans of Lish McBride's Hold Me Closer Necromancer, A Lee Martinez's The Automatic Detective, and/or Terry Pratchett's Sorcery.

Publisher: Tor Books

Published: February 10, 2015

Price: $25.99

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gemini Cell: By Myke Cole



US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…

The fact of the matter is that Myke Cole is a fantastic author who gets better with every book he writes.

Control Point was fast paced, full of action, and had an interesting take on magic in the military. Of course, while all of Cole's books contain these attributes, (Gemini Cell being no exception) what Cole has improved dramatically with every book are his storytelling and his character development.

To that end, Gemini Cell is his most impressive book yet.

In Gemini Cell, Cole has gone out of his way to create a compelling strong willed yet complex protagonist in Jim Schweitzer that reader readers will love. But Cole doesn't stop there, as he uses his impressive array of talent to further develop Jim, showing his fear of this new world that was forced upon him, his struggle against his new foes and allies, and his ultimate decision and resolve of what is most important to him.

Of course through all of this another aspect of Cole's writing that sets him apart is his ability to describe as well as invoke emotions. The anxiety, the depression, and the longing that Cole depicts with crystal clarity is all sensationally done.

All in all Cole has taken his books from being fun exciting reads to the level of fine craftsmanship in writing, in creating this fantastic novel. Now that said, Gemini Cell is still filled with mystery, magic, more action then you can shake a stick at, and a fascinating new take on zombies. In summary, Gemini Cell is a fantastic book and Cole a superb writer who I eagerly anticipate new books from.

Publisher: Ace

Published: January, 27, 2015

Price: $7.99

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Foxglove Summer: By Ben Aaronovitch



When two young girls go missing in rural Herefordshire, police constable and wizard-in-training Peter Grant is sent out of London to check that nothing supernatural is involved.

It’s purely routine—Nightingale, Peter’s superior, thinks he’ll be done in less than a day. But Peter’s never been one to walk away from someone in trouble, so when nothing overtly magical turns up he volunteers his services to the local police, who need all the help they can get. But because the universe likes a joke as much as the next sadistic megalomaniac, Peter soon comes to realize that dark secrets underlie the picturesque fields and villages of the countryside and there might just be work for Britain’s most junior wizard after all.

Soon Peter’s in a vicious race against time, in a world where the boundaries between reality and fairy have never been less clear....

Ben Aaronovitch is sadistic in the way that he crafts his cliffhangers for the end of his books. The most shocking of which occurred in the previous book in the series, Broken Homes. In this cliffhanger, the faceless man was forcibly released from Peter's capture by none other than Peter's partner, Leslie.

So it comes with no surprise that I, like other fans of the series, have been eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, Foxglove Summer. Foxglove Summer takes place after the dust has settled on the affair. Peter has been questioned thoroughly, Leslie is still missing, and moral is at an all time low. The books self contained mystery focuses on the kidnapping of two little girls out in the country. Peter is sent out to investigate and supernatural mayhem ensues.

While Foxglove Summer does little in the way of answering readers questions of why Leslie betrayed the Folly (even though Peter does make some guesses), nor tying up any of that storyline, or even facing off against the faceless man again, it does act as a sort of cathartic release for Peter. Aaronovitch does a fantastic job delving into the suffering, frustration, and betrayal that Peter feels without over doing it. The raw emotions are fantastic, feel very realistic, and once again show the talent that Aaronovitch has at his disposal.

In summary, I thought Foxglove Summer was one of the better books in the series. There was action, fun dialog, and the story moves at a clipping pace. All in all Aaronovitch appears to improve with every book he writes and it makes it so there is little else fans of the series can do but further recommend this superb series.


Published: January 6, 2015

Publisher: DAW

Price: $7.99

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