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Posts tagged ‘Magic’

Zombies + Pizza = A pretty decent weekend!

So this weekend I found myself with a little down time in the evening.  The other half was wrapped up in course work, so of course I had to be super studious by his side!  And by super studious I mean reading a whole bunch of amazing and incredible books.  Mine have fewer diagrams of human bodies, but they have way more magic and unexplained phenomena.  All the hard work of reading led to a brief pizza break, a viewing of a truly epic horror film, and then more reading!  All in all, a truly satisfying October weekend.

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield had me at zombies.  Though in all honesty it was not the zombies that kept me reading.  Instead, it was the amazing characters and the awesome adventure they went through.  Which more than made up for the fact that the zombies in this book are very much in the background.  Hailey is a sixteen year old girl with the amazing ability to heal.  This power is hers because she descends from the Banished, who came to America from Ireland centuries ago.  Healing, however, is not her only power, that would be too simple.  Hailey can also create zombies, but only if she tries to heal someone when it is too late.  She is finally getting a chance at a normal life, after surviving some unimaginable hardships she finally has a home with her Aunt Prairie and little brother Chubs.  That is all shattered after a secret call to her secret boyfriend Kaz.  Someone tapped the line.  Someone knows where she is living.  And that someone just kidnaped her aunt and brother.  Hailey and Kaz go on a cross-country journey to save their loved ones and protect the Banished from mysterious forces who would exploit them.  They can only hope they’re not too late.

Fantastic plot, wonderful concept and some beautifully created characters.  Littlefield gives herself a solid base on which to make crazy things happen in Unforsaken, and I loved every minute of it.  The powers that Hailey and her family have are understated in the best way.  They never discover an ability that can magically save the day, they have to rely on their wits and the power they already have and have mastered.  The action was superb.  All too often a girl can be overshadowed in a story like this by her oh so hunky boyfriend.  While Kaz does sound oh so hunky, he never becomes the main action guy.  He and Hailey are truly equals in all of the action scenes and plotting and that makes it wonderful to read.  They work so well as a team that I had no trouble believing that two sixteen year olds could take down this mysterious and evil corporation.  The back story is given to the reader in wonderful little hints and subtle remembering of the past.  Never feels out of place, never feels forced and it always is relevant to what is going on at that point in the story.  Overall, I loved this story and cannot wait to get my hands on its companion title!

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There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

So it was rainy, and dreary, and gross.  The weather this weekend was remarkably like that of Prague.  Prague happens to be a city in which most of the book I read this weekend takes place.  Coincidence?  I think not!  I controlled the weather via my reading choices!  Next time I’ll read a book about fire raining down from the sky and see what happens.  Anywho, the book I read this weekend had some fabulous word creation, great mythology, and a heroine who grew on me like a tumor.  You hate it at first, then get used to it, then when it is removed you kind of miss it in a weird way.

My reluctantly liked heroine came from a book by Laini Taylor called Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  Karou fills her sketchbooks with picture of monsters that don’t exist, and tells tales of what they do in their far away world.  Only, their world isn’t so far away.  In fact, it is accessible via a portal just 10 minutes away from her apartment.  Karou has always known these monsters, they are her family.  They are, in fact, the only part of herself that she is very sure about.  But the world is stirring around her, and more creatures are coming out of the woodwork.  Is there something more to Brimstone’s tooth business than meets the eye?  Is there a reason that scorched handprints have been showing up on all the doors?  And who is the stunningly beautiful man who Karou senses following her, and why did he try to kill her?

This book had a heroine who I was sure was going to make me want to hurt myself rather than finish reading about her.  I was all set to hate her.  And then she had to turn out to be kind of awesome.  She never became a blundering wreck, she did not immediately fall for her one true love, and even when she did, she was very reasonable and controlled about the whole thing.  Karou had wonderful perks and some great flaws, and I would let her travel by my side if I had to kick some otherworldly angel booty.  The romance storyline was wonderfully done and meshed in well with the books mythos and world creation.  At no time did I find myself not believing the world that Ms. Taylor was creating, even though it was very far-fetched.

I’m forgetful, but not to this extent!

So I picked up a book I would have never in a million years chosen to read, and decided to give it a shot.  I went through a few basic stages that one goes through when reading a new book they are not sure about.  First there was disgust; I could not believe I was reading this book that was written in such a convoluted way.  The second was despair, this book would never end!  After disgust came grudging respect, the plot was picking up and things were coming together, I hated life a little bit less.  Lastly was acceptance and love.  While I may have wanted to throw the book across the room when I started, by the end I was so involved in reading it I would not have heard if someone had thrown my entire book collection across the room.

The book that had me so emotionally confused was As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott.  Poor Ava wakes up in a room she doesn’t recognize, surrounded by people she doesn’t recognize, being told who she is and that everything will be okay.  She just has a minor case of memory loss.  Ava is convinced that something isn’t right; she remembers nothing about the world she lives in, but keeps having flashbacks to a world she feels is where she belongs.  A world filled with a nasty government, secret agencies that spy on you, and Morgan.  All of these memories jumble together with impressions of people she vaguely remembers, she knows her friends, but in a very different world then the one she lives in.  Is she really the Ava that everyone says she is?  Or is there another world out there, one in which she truly belongs?

This book did not impress me at first.  The book is written from Ava’s point of view, so for the first few chapters as she is struggling with what is happening to her, you are struggling right alongside her.  You keep waiting for the explanation that will make everything clear, that will let you truly grasp what is going on in this book.  Fortunately, as Ava figures things out, what has happened to her becomes clearer, the writing style fleshes itself out, and just like Ava is gaining balance in her world, the writing of the book gains balance as well.  Elizabeth Scott does a good job of separating what is happening in the world where Ava is and the world where she remembers being.  The characterization of the people in the different worlds is done wonderfully and helps to add to Ava’s confusion, as well as helping her solve some problems she is facing.  This is a book that I feel I am going to have to revisit, just because there is so much happening under the surface that I feel like things were explained to me and I completely missed them when I was caught up in the action of the book.  Overall, As I Wake is a wonderful work and I hope you come to the Tucker Free Library to check it out for yourself!

Seven and Sweets all around!

This was a weekend of epic reading.  I wish I had been reading these books while punching a shark.  Or jumping out of a flaming dirigible.  Or building a log cabin out of toothpicks and unicorn tears.  But alas, I read these books on my couch, which is epically awesome in its own way, but nowhere near as cool as a couch made out of live badgers.  Then again, I cannot imagine a live badger couch would be very comfortable.  Or conducive to reading.  Thankfully my couch is, and I therefore spent some quality time reading The Power of Six and the haunting Sweetly.

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore is the long awaited sequel to the thrilling I Am Number Four.  This is a continuation of Four, Sam and Six’s adventures, with the added bonus of number Seven!  While at times I found I Am Number Four to be slow and tedious, I never felt that way with the sequel.  Talk about fast paced and riveting.  The constant switch between Four and Seven, noted by slight but noticeable text changes, was well executed. We go easily from chapter to chapter alternating between Four and Seven, following two stories at once.  You never feel lost or out of place, and everything flows together very naturally.  When it comes time for the separate stories to merge, it is such an awesome back and forth that you just do not want to put the book down.  I loved all the action in the sequel, most of the set up was taken care of in the first book, so we can really get into the alien slaying action.  Now questions are answered in this book, and in a very satisfying manor.  Things that could be ridiculous are handled in a wonderfully believable way as well, not once was I left feeling like the author pulled an answer out of thin air just to appease me.  While the first book left me a little wanting, the sequel has only left me wanting more.  You can trust that this librarian will be on the edge of her seat until Mr. Lore deems it time to release the next book.

I love fairy tales.  I love fairy tale retellings.  I have never had a retelling haunt my dreams quite like Sweetly by Jackson Pearce.  Seriously, this book made me wake up in the middle of the night panicking, and I don’t even have a ton of woods around me.  The writing is wonderful and descriptive, and I love the heroine.  You all know how rare it is for me to love a heroine.  They really need to be awesome to win my respect and Jackson Pearce has written an extremely awesome heroine.   Sweetly is the story of Ansel and Gretchen, a brother and sister who lost Gretchen’s twin one fateful day in the woods.  After their mother died and father remarried, they knew their step mother held no love for them.  This was confirmed when she kicked them out of the house the moment that Gretchen turned 18.  Glad to be able to get away from the forests of Washington which haunted them, the siblings drove as far away as humanly possible.  All the way to South Carolina in fact.  It may have been bad luck, or fate, that made their car break down in the middle of a washed up town.  Things look up when the pretty woman who runs the local candy shop lets them stay with her in exchange for doing some work around the house.  While Ansel is trying to impress the pretty Sophia, Gretchen is being draw to Samuel, a loner who seems to know more about what is happening in the woods around town that anyone cares to know.  What is going bump in the woods at night?  And does Gretchen really want to find out?

 

Goths and Magicians took over my weekend

Yay!  A new book review!  I have been anxiously waiting for a new shipment of YA books to come in, so when they finally did I tried hard not to just pounce on them and scurry away to read them.  Instead, I elegantly walked down to my bat cave and then devoured them like a madwoman.  Double lucky for me, one of the books is by one of my all-time favorite authors.  The other one I have chosen to review was picked at random when I closed my eyes and grabbed.  Enjoy!

The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin was the biggest surprise of the summer for me.  I have never been so taken by surprise as I was by this book.  Aggie Winchester is a junior in high school, the principal’s daughter, and is very much a gothic outsider.  Ever since she was bullied her freshman year, she has depended on her goth friend Sylvia to protect her from the nasty cheerleaders.  But now Sylvia is pregnant and the father is one of the most popular boys in school.  Not that anyone else knows that he is the father.  With Sylvia becoming more and more withdrawn, Aggie is wondering who she really is, and if she is really happy.  Add in a dash of bass fishing, some suspicious ballot box action, and a sexually demanding ex-boyfriend, and life as Aggie knows it is falling down around her.

 

Switching from goths to magicians is no easy feat, and I have no clever segue.  Umm…both books have teenage girls!  Now that the clever segue is out of the way, I can continue telling you about the fabulous Across the Great Barrier by the wonderful Patricia C. Wrede.  Wrede is the woman who wrote the book that shaped a vast majority of my young life.  Many a day was spent trying to be more like Princess Cimorene from Dealing with Dragons and I am better for it.  I was overjoyed to see the Wrede has once again written a heroine that I can get behind, strong, with a good amount of humility, a little magic but not too super special and just the right hint of bravery.  Eff is the thirteenth daughter who is not sure just what she wants to do in life.  Her twin brother Lan, the seventh son of a seventh son, thinks she should be going off to college and honing her magical skills.  With Eff on the fence about what she wants to do with her life, she decides to take on more responsibilities at the college menagerie.  While working there, a Professor asks her to go a journey west, out into the settlements, where animals, both natural and wild, roam free.  When Eff makes a discovery that could shake the settlement of the unknown west to its core, what is the free world going to do?

Some very independent ladies, a boat, an iron dagger and first kisses.

So we have a double feature for you lucky readers today!  Two amazing books for the price of nothing!  All you have to do is come down to the library and check them out!  Isn’t that wonderful?  Shall I tell you about these amazing reads now?  I think I will.

 

First up we have Huntress by Malinda Lo.  Anyone who has read her other book, Ash, will be thrilled to read this prequel.  Haven’t read Ash?  Well we have it here, so now you can read both books without having to wait for the other to be released!  Huntress is the tale of a land whose balance has been thrown off kilter.  The sun has not shone in quite some time, crops are failing and people are getting desperate.  And that is only in the human world.  The Xi are suffering as well.  When the Queen of the Xi extends an invitation to the human king, it will be the first time that a human has crossed into Xi lands since a truce was called centuries ago.  The king cannot go, but sends his son in his sted.  Accompanying the prince are three bodyguards, and two very special girls.  Taisin and Kaede are from The Academy, a school that trains women in the ways of magic.  Taisin has what it takes to become a sage, and she looks forward to it very much.  Kaede has no such talent, and just wants to see the world, this trip being the best opportunity for that dream to come true.  What Kaede does not know is that Taisin keeps having visions of her rowing across an icy lake to her death.  In these visions, Taisin is also very much in love with Kaede.  Can this group of travelers make it across the border of Xi and save two worlds before it all ends?

 

Our next book is Stay by Deb Caletti.  Dramatic and funny and romantic all rolled up into one neat package.  Clara and her father move to Bishop Rock to get away from Clara’s obsessed ex-boyfriend Christian.  Clara is supposed to get a job and start reapplying to colleges, get her life back on track.  Her father, meanwhile, is going to spend his time working on his next novel.  All in all, it is supposed to be a relaxing summer of fun an rediscovery.  Clara settles in just fine, getting a job at the lighthouse and making friends with a few of the locals, including one very hunky boy with a boat.  Unfortunately, Christian’s obsession with possessing Clara did not end with her moving away.  With an ex who is determined to find her at any cost, how is Clara supposed to ever live her life without a shadow of fear following her?

There was a castle on the cover! And a pretty dress! And shiny flowers!

How was I supposed to ignore these beautifully girly trappings?  They cried out, “Read me!  I am full of fancy-pants frivolity!”  If there is one thing I cannot ignore, it is fancy-pants frivolity.  Especially when that frivolity is paired with my all-time hands down without a question favorite fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  I know what you are all thinking, “How could this be?  She normally is all over books about monsters, and blood, and zombies!”  That is true, and as I wrote that sentence I was totally thinking The Twelve Dancing Princesses could be cool as The Twelve Dancing Zombie Princesses.  The fact of the matter is that once upon a time my love for zombies was surpassed by my love for princesses.  Mostly because I did not know what a zombie was when I was six.  But I digress; the book Entwined by Heather Dixon had me enraptured right from the start.  Dixon brought some of the old school Grimm horror to this tale without going overboard, and managed to somehow flesh out not only twelve princesses but a host of supporting characters as well.

 

We start out in a palace that is slightly run down on the eve of the Yuletide Ball.  Azalea has been looking forward to this night, for she is to host the ball and open the first dance with her Father, the King.  The only damper on the whole evening is that her mother is dreadfully ill.  We all see where this is going, right?  That evening the ball is closed in a hurry, the eleven sisters carted off to their quarters, and the king is in a foul mood.  Mostly because his wife has just died after giving birth to their twelfth daughter, Lily.  After her death, the King has to go off to war, but before he goes, he makes sure that the castle is in mourning.  Everyone wears black, the windows are covered, the girls must stay inside, and there is to be no dancing.  Not only are the princesses upset that they lost their mother, but now they are not allowed to dance.  That is until Azalea finds a secret passage way that leads to an underground ballroom where the girls can dance all night long.  The only problem is that the man trapped in this enchanted ballroom, The Keeper, juts might live up to his name.

 

Dancing, Magic, War, Adventure…Entwined has it all.  You could have it too; all you need to do is come to the Tucker Free Library and check it out for yourself!