Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson

The Mirk and Midnight Hour



“He was already dead.  Maybe.  He had been grievously wounded—he had expected to die anyway—but they did something to him that sucked out the rest of his feeble life and will, except for the tiny spark of soul that hunkered mutely deep inside.  That’s why he thought of them as vampires.

They half carried, half dragged him to the fire and bade him kneel.  The drumming began and his heart thumped with the drums and he was in the flames and in the beating.  A blade flashed before his eyes.  Sliver.  Beautiful.  Someone called out a question and the answer—“Raphtah”—swallowed him.  He knew nothing more.  He was already dead.”

 

The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson is a retelling of the Tam Lin.  Tam Lin was about a Scottish knight, who was captured by the fair queen in order to serve as a tithe.  A young woman found him and fell in love with him (or was impregnated by him) and found a way to trick the queen and save the knight.  Instead of being set in Scotland and being a knight, this story takes place during the Civil War in the South and it is a Union soldier that Violet must save. 

Violet has lost her brother to the war.  Her state is in chaos and things are only getting bloodier.  On top of one of the country’s most pivotal wars, Violet must adjust to the changes to life as she’s known it, including some visiting cousins.  How was she to know that “the shadow people” are really hoodoo practicing people, or that having her little cousin with her would replace the emptiness left by the death of her of twin brother, or that her long time frenemy would turn out to be a sister, or that she would fall in love with the enemy.

The undertones of antebellum and post-antebellum literature along with the gothic/hoodoo components really made this book shine for me.  Thus far, this is my favorite YA book this year, it is worthy of both young adults’ and adults’ attention. 

Thank You Edelweiss.  4.5 stars!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Strange Sweet Song
 
"If you had looked, then, into the crow’s eyes, if you had been a ghost or a puff of smoke and had floated up to the ceiling to look deeply into those shiny black eyes where the brilliant white keys were reflected, you would have seen a despair bigger than those eyes could hold, bigger than the hall itself.

 

And you would have heard the faintest hiss—an ugly, crackling hiss, as different from the pure, clear tones of the piano as it could possibly be.  You might have noticed the grubby beak was open very slightly.  And you might have realized with a start that the crow was trying to sing. 

 

But perhaps you were there.  Perhaps you already know this story.”

 

Sing da Navelli has always lived in the shadow of her great musical parents.  An opera diva for a mother, whose short life ended tragically, and a well renowned conductor father, it is difficult for Sing to shine on her own.  When her famous father drops her off at Dunhammound Conservatory, she begins on a journey like no other.  Dunhammound is well known, with a history that is rich in the music world, and a dark twisted past.  A dark and dangerous forest is the setting of both the campus and the famous opera that the school will be performing this spring.  Sing needs to snag the leading role of Angelique, the one role she’s always loved, the last role her mother ever played.  She finds that there is something dark lurking in the outskirts of the conservatory, something that involves her Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor.  Could there be truth to the opera written long ago?  Is there really an evil creature in the forest that will prey on human flesh, or grant a wish if it sees deep despair in your eyes?

 

A gothic tale, with a modern twist Strange Sweet Song will both enthrall and captivate readers.  Thank you NetGalley, 4 out of 5 stars!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Half Bad by Sally Green

Half Bad (Half Life, #1)

“I do have a secret, though.  A secret so dark, so hopeless, so absurd that I can never share it with anyone.  It is a secret story that I tell myself when I’m in bed at night.  My father is not evil at all; he is powerful and strong.  And he cares about me… he loves me… And I lie in bed and imagine that one night he will come for me and we will fly away through the night together.”

Imagine a world where everyone is a witch.  They are either a black or white, bad or good.  Now imagine a dangerous life where you are segregated based on the color of your witchcraft, of your family’s witchcraft.  If your white, then you make the rules, after all you’re the good kind of witch.  It doesn’t matter if you kill witches, torture them, and create laws that affect children of mixed witchcraft, because you are doing it for the good of everyone, for the good of the world!

That is the life that our main character, Nathan lives in.  He is the son of one of the most dangerous and loathsome black witch of them all; however, he is also the son of a white witch.  Marcus, his father, is known for killing witches and stealing their gifts but when he killed Nathan’s Mother’s husband it wasn’t to steal the man’s power… it was to away his wife.  Years later, now that Marcus is on the run and Nathan’s mother is dead, Nathan must deal with the fall out of his parents’ tryst. 

This is such a captivating story of racism, hidden in the depths of magic, but still racism.  A story of segregation, and the misguided illusion of social justice.  I cannot wait to pick up the next book to find out how Nathan will get under the white witches’ skins and save the day and the girl.


Thank You Edelweiss!  4 out of 5 stars.

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by MG Buehrlen

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare (Alex Wayfare, #1)

"This is the way my story begins.  Not with a bang but a whimper.  Nothing more than a calm voice, a careful smile, and a pair of spectacles perched on the tip of a thin nose.

But don't let that deter you.  You'll be happy to know a bang comes in the end.

Literally.

Along with a kiss, a promise, a death, a broken heart,and an end to life as you and I would have known it."

Alex Wayfare is a transcender, one of the only descenders who has past lives.  A descender is someone who can touch a soul mark and be transported into another life/body in another time of history and experience things first hand.  A transcender can go back to all their past lives, still be that person, and continue to visit that moment in time.

Alex doesn't know this, because she is on her 57th life.  She just turned 17 and those deja vu moments she's had throughout her life are explained away by seizures and her being weird (maybe crazy).  Alex feels crazy, that is until Porter enters her life.  With his sudden appearance Alex's life changes forever.  She will fall in love, she will change time, and she will never know all the ways the villain of her story wants to hurt her.  In a life full of deceit, revenge, and poor timing Alex must figure out who to trust and what the right choice is, before it's too late.

Thank You Net Galley, 3 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Dear Killer
 
 
 
“Rule one.

Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.

That is the most important guideline, and the hardest one for most people to understand—but I have understood it my entire life…

My name is Kit, but most people know me as the Perfect Killer.

I kill on order, I am everyone’s assassin.  I belong to no one but the grim reaper herself.”

 

 

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell is the story of notorious London serial killer known as the Perfect Killer.  Kit a 16 year girl is our Perfect Killer.  Trained from a young age, by a mother who was herself a serial killer, Kit has grasped and mastered the art of killing.  Living by a code, and keeping anonymous Kit finds her kills through requests via letters left behind in stall at a local establishment.  These letters always start the same, “Dear Killer.”  Kit doesn’t always take every request, even when money is left behind, she thrives on the power of selection and the hold she has on the public.  She’s the perfect moral nihilist; however, she also has another side to her. 

Kit is almost like any other young girl her age.  She goes to school, has a family and even occasionally can carry a conversation with a person.  One letter will arrive that will mesh with her posh alter ego, and the decision that Kit makes could ultimately destroy everything her disciplined mother and she have built.  In a house of cards, one must always be wary of the change in wind. 

I don’t know how I feel about this book.  I liked it at times and at other times I couldn’t get how a mother could do that, or how Kit could be so dense about somethings that occurred throughout the novel.  All I can say is if you like Dexter or other stories that revolve around the serial killer, than you might enjoy this novel.  I know that I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.

 

Thank You Edelweiss, 3 out of 5 stars.

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott


Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood, #1)
 
“If you’re hearing this message, you are invited to be a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed.  All Contenders must report within forty-eight hours to select their Pandora companions.  If you do not appear within forty-eight hours, your invitation will be eliminated.

The Brimstone Bleed will last three months and will take place across four ecosystems: desert, sea, mountains, jungle.  The winning prize will be the Cure—a remedy for any illness, for any single person.

There can only be one champion.”

Set up like popularized dystopian novels, Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott is an action packed mystery.  Tella is living in the middle of nowhere USA, due to her brother’s severe sickness.  The clean open air is supposed to help, but it seems like nothing can save her brother.  That is until Tella receives a package, one with an earpiece that has a light persistently blinking with the prospect of a message.  What Tella receives is an invitation to the Brimstone Bleed, this competition promises the ultimate prize for the champion, The Cure.  This is exactly the miracle Tella and her family need, but why did her father seem so upset about the earpiece in Tella’s possession?  Why did he try to destroy it?  Why did her mother come into her room the night Tella was leaving, with a cryptic message about how their eyes are the same and then gave Tella a feather that belonged to her grandmother? Tella doesn’t know what to make of all of this; all she knows is that she cannot let her brother die and this is the best chance she has to save him.

What Tella doesn’t realize is that there is a much more dangerous plot ahead, one that is generations long, and if you’re on the wrong side things might never look up for you.  This is a story of betrayal and revenge, which ravishes generations of those linked to the original betrayal.  As Tella progresses in this competition, she enters allegiances and finds out that they are all just mice running in circle and manipulated to a higher master’s whims.  But the problem is that everyone in this competition has someone back home that needs the cure, and only they can saved them.

This was an interesting concept.  I did not wholeheartedly love this book, but I think that there is a great chance if the second book is done well that this will be one of my favorites.  The Pandoras are awesome, the drama is high, and there are definitely some crazy competitors.  Blood flows freely and romance can be quite difficult.  Readers will be jumping at the bit to figure out if Tella will make it to the next round.

3.5 stars out of 5.  Thanks NetGalley!

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen


"One war.
Too many deadly battles.
Can a king save his kingdom, when his own survival seems unlikely?"

 The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy, #3)

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the last book in The Ascendance Trilogy.  I have to say that it took me almost to the end of the first to really like it, but by the end of the third book I was fan-girling all the way.  This is the story of a young prince, whose identity was stripped away, left as an orphan to somehow, someday reclaim his throne.  Full of action, suspense, snarkiness, and plenty of romantic drama The Ascendance Trilogy is fun for everyone. 

Our boy king, Jaron, finds himself lost with his kingdom on the verge of war and Imogen being held captive by the enemy as a trap for Jaron.  Our heroes separate during the novel in order to firm alliances and get help to win this war.  Someone must find allies, someone must protect borders, someone must follow duty, someone must bring help, and finally someone must die.  There were moments when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue this journey, especially when one of our main characters ends up not doing so well.  I do have to say the author definitely had me going for most of the book, and when at last everything was revealed I was ecstatic!  Such a HEA ending and much appreciated.

 

4 out of 5 stars, thanks Netgalley!