Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Cogling

Cogling Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edna doesn’t know why her little brother has an expensive pocket watch, but when she grabs it from him, he becomes a pile of cogs. She looks for help, but no one believes her story until Ike tries to take the watch from her and notices what it is. Ike tells Edna that this watch is used to keep Coglings going. Coglings are mechanical changelings that are left behind when children are stolen to work in factories. Edna and Ike are determined to rescue her brother and as they discover the deeper plot the hags have to take over the world, they must decide if they have what it takes to overcome these powerful beings. After all, they are just a servant and a thief.

Cogling is the newest book by Mierek and it will delight steampunk fans of all ages. Although it is classified as a children’s book, the main character is 15 years old, so most young adult readers will also enjoy the story. Edna’s adventure has peril and romance, yet the overall story is kept relatively clean for the younger reader. Reader beware that this is not your average steampunk novel. There are a lot of mechanical beings, but the other devices that are usually present in a steampunk story are not included. It doesn’t take away from the story; I found it refreshing that Mierek didn’t feel obligated to include these additional items. It is hard to tell if this will be a stand-alone novel or the first in a series. We will just have to wait and see. Cogling is a quick read that will have readers turning the pages while rooting for the characters to overcome all the different obstacles that seem to be thrown their way.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review: Firstlife

Firstlife Firstlife by Gena Showalter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tenley has spent the last thirteen months in the Prynne Asylum. She isn’t crazy. She just won’t let her parents decide which realm she will live in after she dies. Firstlife is practice and everyone knows that Everlife is where decisions are made. The two realms in power, Troika and Myriad, both want Tenley on their side and have sent recruiters after her in the hopes of convincing her to join their side. It doesn’t take long for Tenley to be on the run, and as she tries to save herself and those around her, she must constantly reevaluate who she can trust. What will her decision be? Will she follow her heart or her brain?

Firstlife is the first book in the Everlife series. The story includes correspondences that give the reader insight into some of the backroom activities of many of the characters. The hidden agendas and secret actions bring to light the depth of deceptions that Tenley can only suspect. Showalter has created a cast of characters that are easy to understand and her world building was creative and complete. The action will constantly rock the reader as they follow each deception and revelation in the story. Although Tenley finally does decide which realm she will side with, readers must wait for the next book in order to discover the answers to most of the questions that are thrown at the them.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: The Academy Alignment

The Academy Alignment The Academy Alignment by David Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Academy has a tradition of educating the children from the world’s wealthiest families. Beginning this year, they have offered a scholarship to Peter Foster, a townie from down the mountain. Peter does not know what to expect, but when he begins to discover secrets about the disappearance of another student, he can’t help but look into the matter. Unfortunately, everyone is trying to cover up what happened and the forces of Dark and Light are in a constant battle in the world and The Academy. Can Peter overcome the obstacles that are constantly falling in his path? What is he willing to risk in order to bring the truth to light?

The Academy Alignment is the first book in The Academy series. Readers will quickly discover that their heart to pumping hard as the prologue gives quick and brutal glimpses into life and death within The Academy. Davis has created characters that are easy to love, hate and understand. Each chapter is told from multiple points of view so readers can break their reading sessions down into smaller portions if needed. The truth about The Academy is hinted at often and readers will begin to understand the secret, but the true unveiling will not happen until the end of the story. This first book does have a clean ending, yet Davis has set up the storyline to easily move into additional books.

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Review: The Shadow's Curse

The Shadow's Curse The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Raim is still under exile for breaking a vow, even though he does not know what the actual vow was about. Unfortunately, that is the least of his worries. Raim’s ex-best friend is now the Khan and he is pursuing darker and more sinister conquests. Raim is slowly learning more about his powers, but he will not be able to stop Khareh unless he wishes to also break the ultimate rule. It seems that Wadi could figure out a way to escape on her own, but as she gets to know Khareh better and learns about the Southern king looking to invade the north, the question becomes who to fight. Will the Northern tribes be able to overcome their differences in order to fight against this Southern foe? Everyone knows the key to the desert is Lazar, but who will control it in the end?

The Shadow’s Curse is the second book in The Knots Sequence. Events in this story pick up shortly after the conclusion of the first book and readers are quickly swept into the next series of events. Things that occurred in the background of the last book are brought to light as characters that were separated for long periods are reunited and confide in each other. Pages will turn in time to the reader’s heartbeat as the tension builds and the question of survival continues to shake. One view on Goodreads calls this a Duology and another view calls it a Sequence, yet I believe it is safe to say that McCulloch’s world will be available for additional stories if she wishes, but she has completed this first quest with a resolution most readers can accept.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: Starflight

Starflight Starflight by Melissa Landers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Solara Brooks was forced to leave the orphanage when she received her felon tattoos and her only plan was to indenture herself to someone in order to earn passage to the outer realm. After several failed attempts, she reluctantly attaches herself to Doran Spaulding, a boy from her school who flaunted his wealth and had made her life unbearable. When Doran tries to renege on his contract, Solara’s only chance of survival is to kidnap Doran to have access to his money. Through a weird twist of fate, they end up on a ship full of felons and Doran discovers that Earth is also looking for him. Not as a kidnap victim, but as part of a conspiracy with his father. Can Solara and Doran make it out without being caught? What secrets may be uncovered as Doran tries to discover why he is being framed?

Starflight is the first book in a new series by the same title. This space adventure has everything a reader would expect to find with the entire storyline seamlessly flowing from stage to stage. Landers’ world building is so effortless that readers will easily fall into the lives of Doran and Solara without feeling as if they are on an alien ship (which they are). Although this is a first book in a series, readers will have the satisfaction of a clean ending with a firm foundation for additional books to follow.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is 1945 and World War II is coming to an end. Yet there are many refugees desperately traveling toward the hope of freedom. A group of unlikely individuals must unite and support each other through this harrowing time while also keeping their own secrets hidden. Their number one goal is to make it to port and onto the Wilhelm Gustloff. If everything works out, when they get off the ship they will be free. Unfortunately plans don’t always go as planned … especially during war.

Salt to the Sea is a stand-alone historical fiction novel that is easy to love, but is not easy to read. Since the story is told in multiple voices that are constantly changing, this book will not be for a lazy reader. Yet those that are willing to unravel these varied stories and continue through the adventure will be pleasantly surprised with the bright spot at the end of all the misery. Sepetys has created a great book that will lead many readers to look for additional information about this little known tragedy.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review: The Killing Jar

The Killing Jar The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kenna Marsden does not understand what happened to the boy, but she does know that she must keep it secret. It has been years since that terrible day, but when her mother and twin sister are attacked in their home, Kenna inadvertently saves them and strengthens the secret powers she has been trying to suppress. Soon after this tragic event, her mother takes her to a commune to live with her grandmother, who she has never met, and she is surrounded by others with the same ability. During her time at Eclipse she starts to understand what makes her unique, but can she accept herself for who she is?

The Killing Jar is a supernatural coming of age story that can’t be bound by one genre. Although I’m sure readers cannot relate to Kenna’s dark powers, everyone can relate to not understanding what is happening to their bodies as they transition from a child to a young adult. The family secret has so many layers that readers will believe the book is wrapping up, and then they will discover a twist that keeps the story going. The Killing Jar is a nice escape read that will satisfy a variety of reading tastes. In this time of series fiction, it is refreshing to read a stand-alone novel.

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Review: The Truth

The Truth The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chris wakes up bound to a chair and Derek wants to talk. With the threat of shears poised to cut off a finger for every lie, Derek is determined to find out the truth about the night that Chris shot and killed Derek’s younger brother. But there is a deeper truth that Chris is not willing to share and if that truth is exposed it could me the end for both of them.

The Truth is a realistic drama that will pull the reader in at the start and never let go. The point of view changes from “Now” to “Then” as Chris explains what happened that night and the days following. The entire book (not including the “Then” flashbacks) takes place in a few hours and readers will find themselves devoting that same amount of time to get to the end. Johnston has created a story that keeps the reader guessing about the truth until the completion. A quick read that will appeal to many readers.

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