Sinless by Sarah Tarkoff
In Grace Luther’s world, morality is physically enforced. Those who are “good” are blessed with beauty, while those who are not suffer horrifying consequences—disfigurement or even death. The daughter of a cleric, Grace has always had faith in the higher power that governs her world. But when she stumbles onto information that leaves her questioning whether there are more complicated—and dangerous—forces manipulating the people around her, she finds herself at the center of an epic battle, where good and evil are not easily distinguished. Despite all her efforts to live a normal teenage life, Grace is faced with a series of decisions that will risk the lives of everyone she loves—and, ultimately, her own.
Grace is a mild-mannered, pious 17-year-old. She’s easy to like and relate to. She remains beautiful by doing good and praying. Those who commit sins or even curse, are “Punished” by disfiguring ugliness or even death if the infraction is bad enough. Then, she meets a boy who is able to do bad things and not be “Punished” by ugliness which causes her to question everything.
Sinless is a captivating debut novel. The challenging premise will make readers think and question. It’s unpredictable with great pacing. Full of suspense, intrigue, and drama – this story is captivating from beginning to end. I look forward to the next in this exciting series.
Assassin’s Creed: Last Descendants: Fate of the Gods by Matthew J. Kirby
Only one piece of the Trident of Eden remains – Isaiah, a rogue Templar agent, has discovered both the faith prong and the fear prong of this powerful relic. Should he possess the devotion prong, there is little that can stop him. For the time being, Owen and his fellow teens have established an uneasy alliance across Assassin and Templar lines in order to stop Isaiah while they still can.
Over a thousand years earlier, Styrbjorn the Strong, a Danish warrior, leads the Jomsvikings against the Danish king, Harald Bluetooth. It is on those Viking battlefields that the secrets of the devotion prong lie. It is there that the fate of the world, the truth behind the teens’ collective unconsciousness, and their ancestral links to one another lie. History has already been written. The rest is up to Owen, Javier, and the other members of their unlikely alliance. The actions they take will change the world of Assassin’s Creed forever.
Fate of the Gods is the final installment in the Last Descendants trilogy set in the Assassin’s Creed universe. This group of teens have been through several ancestors’ memories that have tested their mental resolve. And Owen decided to stay with the megalomaniac Isaiah – which puts Owen’s life at risk and Isaiah close to having all three pieces of a powerful artifact.
The final piece of the trident, has been traced to ancient Scandinavia. So the teens get to experience their ancestors as Vikings. The Viking ancestors are pitted against each other in a brutal battle that culminates to a surprising ending. This was my favorite book in the trilogy – full of action, intrigue, and drama – both in and out of the Animus. The story arc concludes in an exciting way. But I will certainly miss some of these characters.
Valiant Dust by Richard Baker
Sikander Singh North has always had it easy―until he joined the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and only Kashmiri, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he has to use his fists. When the Hector is called to help with a planetary uprising, he’ll have to earn his unit’s respect, find who’s arming the rebels, and deal with the headstrong daughter of the colonial ruler―all while dodging bullets.
Sikander comes from a royal family, but entered the military. Some of his crewmates believe he gets special treatment or hasn’t earned his place. But he soon proves his worth and his skills with his new placement. And when Sikander and his ship are tasked with subverting a planetary rebellion, he finds his emotions get a bit involved as well.
Valiant Dust is the first in a new, military scifi series. Sikander is a likeable character with a sense of honor. The unique, future-worldbuilding of cultures and casts is strong and detailed but not overwhelming. And the characters are engaging. I enjoyed this fast-paced adventure with plenty of action, intrigue and a bit of romance. I definitely look forward to reading more in this promising new series.
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I love these behind-scenes books of the art behind my favorite films. And this latest is fantastic.
There are early concepts of characters and wardrobes.
And stunning images of new aliens.
Early concepts of Canto Bight.
The new weapons and new ship designs.
And my favorites are usually the beautiful location shots and scenic concept art.
The Last Jedi was a visually stunning film. And this book of the art behind the film is fascinating and makes for a great gift, coffee table book, or collector item for fans. I look forward to going back and reading the little details now. But the art alone makes this book a must for me.
Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely
Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great.
When Pity learns she is about to be sold off by her father, she decides to escape to the West. However, the place she flees to has it’s own set of rules. And earning her keep may destroy her soul. Pity is talented with her mother’s hand-me-down pistols. But she’s never had to kill a man.
Gunslinger Girl is set in an alternate world of a Wild West, after America had a second Civil War. The land is harsh, and still allows for backward and cruel treatment of women. I was hesitant with the first couple chapters, but the story picked up and wasn’t as dark as it initially felt. Pity and her love interest are sweet and relatable. The story is fast-paced and full of drama, intrigue, suspense, and a bit of romance. Events build to a surprising and action-packed finale. And this captivating debut leaves off in an interesting way that will leave readers eager for the next in the series.
Have Sword Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
It is strange enough that Odo and Eleanor have stumbled upon a sword in a dried-up river outside their village. It is even stranger that Odo is able to remove it from where it’s buried. And it’s REMARKABLY strange when the sword starts to talk.
Odo and Eleanor have unearthed Biter, a famous fighter from earlier times. By finding Biter, Odo instantly becomes a knight – a role he is exquisitely unsuited for. Eleanor, however, would make a PERFECT knight — but she’s not the one with the sword.
Odo is a strong and humble young man who doesn’t have any desire to be a knight. Whereas the brave Eleanor dreams of being a night. But an enchanted sword chooses Odo to be a knight, when they pull it from the river. For their first quest, the friends decide to investigate the river drying up. Odo is convinced he can give up being a knight then and pass the honor to Eleanor.
Have Sword Will Travel is a fantasy for middle readers that all ages will enjoy. The story is full of humor, adventure, and excitement. It reminded me of one of my favorite fantasy authors – Lawrence Watt-Evans. Specifically, his classic – The Misenchanted Sword. I loved that both men and women can be knights in this land, and Eleanor has an attainable goal if she can prove herself. This is a fun story with engaging characters that I thoroughly enjoyed. I would love to read more adventures of Odo and Eleanor – this would make for a great series.
Star Trek Discovery: Official Collector’s Edition
This is an official behind-the-scenes look at the new show. With 96 full-color pages, it has the feel of a large, hardback magazine. It covers range of topics including: how the show came about, profiles on the characters and actors, the Federation, the Klingons, a timeline of Star Trek, technology, uniforms, and some stunning artwork. As a fan of the show, I loved looking through this book. For those who have been watching After Trek, there isn’t much new information here. But it’s something tangible. And I’m a sucker for Star Trek books of any kind. Plus, the book helps to tide me over until the second half of the season airs on January 7th.