Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Skull Throne: By Peter V. Brett



The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.

Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.

But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.

In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing one another and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.

In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.

Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton—rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.

All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared. . . .

While I should have expected this, the Skull Throne, the fourth book out of five in the Demon Cycle Series, brings even more shocking events to a head than its predecessor, The Daylight War.

Wars are fought, characters introduced, characters killed, and entire plans thrown away, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be unable to put down this remarkable book until your each the last page, and even then you’ll flip back to older chapters trying to see if you really read the insanity that you just read.

That is the greatest reason why you should read the Skull Throne, for while it ends in remarkable cliffhangers for most of the characters we have come to love, and almost everyone is in peril, if you pick this book up you will not be able to put it down. Brett has created a truly remarkable book in how captivating it is. There really are no slow or down moments as readers jump from one war to another, and even when wars end there is constant treachery and intrigue that readers will have to take a day off work before picking this book up.

Brett also keeps the story going by switching between characters mid struggle, as if the reader is flipping between channels attempting to catch only the good bits. This cuts out much of the unnecessary banter many books are left with and focuses on keeping the reader engaged and on the edge of their seat. This if nothing else shows that Peter Brett is a talented author who clearly knows his craft. The way in which Brett is able to seemly maneuver between such staggeringly different characters and different storylines, in a way that not only doesn’t detract from the story but instead enhances it is truly remarkable.

Now that’s not to say that that Skull Throne is all action and no substance. This book still manages to introduce a number of riveting new characters, engage in numerous political debates, and move the story forward in leaps in bounds. My personal favorite new character that is given a POV is Ashia. She is strong, smart, and has a complicated history with a number of main characters that really furthers the story and brings new light to a number of issues the book deals with.

All in all I loved The Skull Throne even as it left me positively shaking with disbelief with the events of the last 100 pages. Peter Brett is an amazing author and readers will clearly be clamoring. His characters are complicated, his story full of action and enough surprises to keep any reader guessing, and the book runs at a pace that will entrance even the most jaded of readers. All in all a fantastic book that I wholeheartedly recommend.

Publisher: Del Rey

Published: March 31, 2015

Price: $28.00

Becoming Jinn: By Lori Goldstein



Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she's just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she's learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny. Mentored by her mother and her Zar "sisters,"

Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all.


First off, the premise of Becoming Jinn is quite fascinating. The lives and tribulations of a jinn. The world of the jinn is incredibly fractured, with the males living in a different plane and the females and their daughters living on earth to grant wishes and fulfill their obligations to maintain their powers. 

The mysteries surrounding this background turmoil as well as the secrets that Azra's mother has kept/continues to keep from Azra unfold throughout the book leading readers to a number of shocking reveals.

That said, while I liked Becoming Jinn but I don't know if the copy I was reading was defective but the ending just did not add up. It felt more like the end of a chapter as opposed to the end of a book, and it leaves readers waiting for the other shoe to drop. Unlike other authors who use cliffhangers to elicit further interest in a series, (Rachel Caine comes to mind) when she utilizes a cliffhanger much of the book's conflict has been resolved that remains is the lead up to the next book or the larger story arc. And while you could claim that this was a build up to the larger story arc, it felt like readers had just discovered what was happening and did not have time to process it before the story ends. It was as if it the tension build and builds and then there is no release.

All in all, readers will enjoy the magic, the romantic intrigue/triangle between Azra and Nate and Henry, and many of the characters (I personally didn't love many of the Zar sisters but I think tat was primarily because they were relatively two dimensional), readers will also be a little disappointed with the ending. That said with the problem with the ending being that things were not resolved that obviously means I was engaged in the story overall for that to bother me. Taking that into account I enjoyed Becoming Jinn and will give the next book in the series a shot and hopefully it continues right where the last book left off, giving readers the thematic release they are waiting for.


Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Published: April 21, 2015

Price: $17.99

Link to Buy:

All The Bright Places: By Jennifer Niven



Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


All the Bright Pages is absolutely devastating.

The main characters Finch and Violet are gorgeously written and utterly heartbreaking. Jennifer Niven explores the intricacies of manic depression, of loss of a loved one, of loneliness, and of first love.

While all of those things could lead to a poorly written and cheesy book, All the Bright Places is anything but. Niven's descriptions and depictions into each of these tough to talk about issues is absolutely jaw dropping in its clarity of insight and ability to tight walk the pitfalls most writers fall in. Readers will positively feel the turmoil of emotion rolling off of the book between the changes in Finch's moods, readers will be heartbroken when Finch makes bad decisions thinking he can't turn to anyone, and they will be ecstatic as his love with Violet helps the two of them grow and heal.

All in all I loved this book, it broke my heart, but that shows just how well written the characters are. I easily recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that will pull on your emotions and that will reel you in until you finish the last page with tears streaming from your face desperately wanting more.


Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Published: January 6, 2015

Price: $17.99

Link to Buy:

Kill City Blues: By Richard Kadrey



James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has lost the Qomrama Om Ya, an all-powerful weapon from the banished older gods. Older gods who are returning and searching for their lost power.

The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall infested with tribes of squatters. Somewhere in this kill zone is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, recover the artifact, and outwit and outrun the angry old gods—and natural-born killers—on his tail.

But not even Sandman Slim is infallible, and any mistakes will cost him dearly.

If you liked the previous Sandman Slim Books then you'll love Kill City Blues, it's as simple as that.

Kill City Blues is dark, funny, and chalk full of kick butt action. Stark has a new mission in this installment in the series, find the Qomrama Om Ya and use it to stop the old gods from coming back and killing everyone and everything. This mission breaths new life into the series and revitalizes the energy of the story.

On top of that, readers will be pulled in from the first page and wont be able to put it down until the last. Kadrey writes some of the most disturbing and excellent action scenes out there and to say Kill City Blues is full of them is an understatement.

Readers will enjoy seeing characters of all sorts from the previous books in the series make an appearance, and will be especially delighted to see Vidocq not have a sizable role again but also see him in action.

Really all that you need to know is that Kill City Blues is dark, disturbing, and full of action. This book is not for everyone but if you've read and liked the previous books in the series then this is definitely the book for you.

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Published: July 30, 2013

Price: $14.99

Link to Buy:

The Autumn Republic: By Brian McClellan



The capital has fallen...
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided...
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one...
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed...

With the completion of his first published trilogy Brain McClellan has set his mark upon the fantasy landscape, establishing himself as a master of his trade.

The Autumn Republic and the rest of the Powder Mage Trilogy are absolutely thrilling. I don't know how McClellan has done it but it honestly felt as if the entire book was one adrenaline filled action sequence after another, with no declining moments in the pace. If fact, between all of the different events going on, there was hardly a place to put the book down to go to sleep. 

Further, unlike other books in which the action acts as a substitute for development and growth of the characters and plot, The Autumn Republic offers new plot lines and character development in spades. This is so much the case that McClellan has taken a mid-level character who previously had a few scenes and has since raised her to the level of co-protagonist. In fact, between the beautiful tying up of previous plot lines, the addition of new even more creative twists, and the shock of the deaths of some of the characters that we've come to love (not saying who) it's hard to think of a way that this book could have been better.

All in all I loved the Autumn Republic. I found myself slipping away at every available free moment (and even some not so free moments) to read more of this spectacular book. I full-heatedly recommend this trilogy to anyone who is looking for an pulse pounding, well written fantasy novel, and feel that it is perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson, Douglas Hulick, and Brent Weeks. 


Published: Orbit 

Publisher: February 10, 2015

Price: $26.00

We Were Liars: By E. Lockhart



A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.


We Were Liars is heartbreaking, breathtaking, and utterly unforgettable. 

Based on the number of reviews on Amazon it appears I'm a bit late to the party as to realizing how amazing this book is, but I honestly must say We Were Liars is a fantastic book that will leave readers sobbing and shocked with its conclusion.

E. Lockhart has done an amazing job creating a story that wraps you up from the first page, and not only doesn't let you go, but also morphs in on itself, changing into a completely different tale, yet at the same time improving upon itself all the time.

Of course none of this could have maintained the attention of the readers if the characters were not so well crafted.

Of course even more brilliant was Lockhart's decision (and said execution of) using fairy tales to convey Cadence's feelings towards the characters in the story at any given time. When her anger was directed at the way her aunts bickered over the inheritance, how her love was ostracized from the family, to her anger towards her grandfather, herself, or just resolution of tragedy itself. These fairy tales helped drive home 

All in all, I loved We Were Liars. It was strong, heartfelt, and crafted in a way that left me guessing as to which way the story was going to turn next, leaving me only to say that I highly recommend it.


Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: May 13, 2014

Price: $17.99
Link to Buy:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Uprooted: By Naomi Novik



“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.


Uprooted is absolutely beautiful and enchanting. I can't exactly put my finger on what causes this but the story and the written feels positively lyrical. This smoothness to the writing alone is enough to recommend this book. Luckily for readers that is not the only thing Uprooted has gong for it.

On top of sensational writing, Uprooted is filled with tons of action, magic and intrigue as to the Wood's origin and its spies at court. In fact the second half of the book is filled with so much action readers will be hard pressed to set the book down until the final pages once they reach this point of no return.

Of course Uprooted also has a strong protagonist who readers will easily root on (no pun intended) in Agnieszka. She grows both in strength of magic as well as strength in character as the book progresses and the story of her independence will be one that readers will easily get behind in support. This intertwining of the magical and practical growth of character helps build the story making her decisions more practical and leaving readers satisfied with the decisions made as opposed to rolling their eyes with the stupidity.

Between the magic, the action, the impressive display of writing ability by Novik and the subtle natural growth of a love interest, there is very little not to love about this book. It kept me engaged and entertained and therefore I highly recommend it.


Publisher: Del Rey

Published: May 19, 2015

Price: $25.00

Link to Buy: