Tag Archives: ya

Fantasy Book Review: Thrones and Bones: Skyborn

Thrones and Bones: Skyborn by Lou Anders

Synopsis:
The chase continues for the legendary Horns of Osius. Thianna and Karn’s quest to retrieve the horns from those who wish to abuse their power takes them to Thica, an ancient land where two tyrant queens reign supreme and where years earlier Thianna’s mother was labeled a traitor. Soon the two heroes are caught up in an epic battle for control of the kingdom, one that puts their very lives at stake. The only way to overthrow the queens is to beat them at their own game. But with an entire empire against them, how can Karn and Thianna hope to compete—or better yet, survive?

Review:
Skyborn is the third installment in the Thrones and Bones trilogy. Two malevolent queens have joined forces to control the dragons by use of the horns. And Thianna is discovers more about where her mother came from.

Desstra, who has gone through tremendous change since the last installment, has some wonderful interactions with her companions. I adore these characters as well as the fascinating worldbuilding. This children’s series is a fantastic and unique take on Norse mythology. Full of adventure, suspense, drama, and humor – I highly recommend the books for fantasy fans of all ages. I only wish the series would continue past just the trilogy.

Book Review: Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds

Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds: Your Introduction to Deities, Mythical Beings, & Fantastic Creatures by Rick Riordan

Synopsis:
So you’ve made it to Valhalla. Now what?
This “who’s who” guide to the gods, goddesses, and other important figures of Norse mythology was commissioned by Helgi, who, after more than a millennium as manager of Hotel Valhalla, became fed up with answering the same questions from newly deceased heroes at check-in. The profiles provide essential stats, interviews, and personal reflections so you can identify the gods and avoid those awkward introductions. Handy facts about other beings round out this go-to tome. You’ll never see Ratatosk as a cute little rodent or confuse a dwarf with an elf ever again!

Review:
This is a fun handbook for fans of the new Magnus Chase series. There are detailed descriptions, illustrations, and more of the Norse gods that make an appearance (or mention) in the books. There is also a spotlight on various mythical beings such as giants, elves, dwarves, Valkyries, and the Norns – as well as creatures like Fenris wolves, Thor’s goats, and more. The illustrations are fantastic. And the bits of lore, mixed with plenty of humor, make for fun reading. This is a great little reference book for those who want to read more about Riordan’s unique take on Norse mythology.

Fantasy Book Review: World of Warcraft: Traveler

World of Warcraft: Traveler by Greg Weisman

Synopsis:
It’s been years since twelve-year-old Aramar Thorne, a clever boy who is never without his precious sketch book, has seen his father. So when Captain Greydon Thorne comes ashore and asks his son to join him at sea, it feels as if someone has redrawn Aram’s entire world. At sea, Aram struggles to get along with the Wavestrider’s crew–especially second mate Makasa, a tough teenaged girl who has been reluctantly placed in charge of him. Just as Aram starts to get his head above water, a band of vicious pirates attack the Wavestrider, turning his world upside down once again. As Aram and Makasa try to find their way home, they encounter creatures both terrible and wondrous, and Aram will seek to understand Azeroth’s denizens as he draws them in his sketchbook, forming unlikely friendships along the way. But the journey is hindered by Greydon’s compass, which never points north. If the compass isn’t leading Aram and Makasa home–to safety–to what destiny is it leading?

Review:
I’m not a gamer, so I wasn’t very familiar with the series. But when the movie came out, I started reading the novels. The writing has been fantastic and the characters are incredibly fun.

Traveler is a children’s book with beautiful illustrations (supposedly from Aram’s sketchbook) of the different characters which he comes into contact. There are very diverse creatures and characters. And Aram’s adventure is fast-paced and highly enjoyable. Full of swashbuckling, pirates, suspense, and humor – I recommend this one for fantasy fans of all ages. And I look forward to the next in this exciting series.

SciFi Book Review: Star Wars: Ahsoka

Star Wars: Ahsoka by EK Johnston

Synopsis:
Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance.

Review:
Ahsoka is on the run and just wants to hide away like Obi Wan. But she isn’t willing to stand aside as her new friends become overrun by the Imperial troopers. She’s an intriguing character with a lot of talent. This standalone story follows Ahsoka as she tries to help defenseless farmers against the ruthless Empire and her path that eventually leads her to the Rebel Alliance.

This young adult novel is exciting and full of adventure, intrigue, and suspense. Events build to a strange pause when Ahsoka goes off-planet for a while and then returns, which made for some awkward pacing. But once the pacing picks back up, the climactic ending doesn’t disappoint. Young Star Wars fans will want to pick up this fun, new story with plenty of heart.

Book Giveaway: Gemina

Courtesy of Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 21. I’ll draw a name on October 22, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Gemina

Fantasy Book Review: Mysteries of Cove Book 2, Gears of Revolution

book tour

Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

Synopsis:
After finding a compass and clues left by Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kallista head west aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for the missing inventor. The two teenagers hope to find answers about their mountain city of Cove, but instead, they find only a blackened forest, ruined buildings, and a small underground city. Almost immediately, Trenton and Kallista are caught up in a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine.

Stranded in a new city, the two friends meet Plucky, a Whipjack girl with mechanical legs, and Ander, a young member of the Order who claims humans are able to communicate with dragons. Can they trust anyone, or have they unknowingly stepped into a trap?
And high above in the sky, the dragons are gathering .

Review:
While searching for Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kallista are shot down and land in a complex colony of survivors. Part of the population idolizes dragons, but others to want to help Trenton and Kallista fix their dragon in exchange for helping them with weapons.

Gears of Revolution is an exciting sequel with plenty of mystery, intrigue, and danger. This is a fantastic, steampunk adventure series for middle readers on up. And this 2nd installment is just as suspenseful and dramatic as the first. We learn a bit more about the dragons, and Earth’s history in this book – and I’m looking forward to (hopefully!) reading more in future installments. This is a talented middle grade author who has developed a fascinating world of steampunk and dragons.

Blog Tour Interview: Jessica Cluess on A Shadow Bright and Burning

jessica-cluess

Author Jessica Cluess joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about her novel A Shadow Bright and Burning!

Tell us a bit about Henrietta.

Henrietta is a sixteen-year-old schoolteacher who is desperately trying to keep her secret magic fire power under wraps. As you do when you’re a teenage girl in the Victorian era. That changes when she’s declared the prophesied one, destined to save England from its longstanding war against seven monsters. So she’s whisked off to London, where she makes another alarming discovery: she’s not the prophesied one after all. All of this makes Henrietta intelligent, brave, someone who is a little too comfortable with lying, and deeply untrusting. However, she also yearns to look after the people in her life, so that’s one very positive quality.

What is this fantasy world like?

Magic is out in the open and very much accepted in this version of Victorian England. The three main branches of magic are sorcerers, who are predominantly wealthy and powerful, magicians, who are scattered and have been relegated to permanent second-class citizen status, and witches, who are killed outright when they’re found. The sharp class division has come about because a decade before the story begins, a magician named Howard Mickelmas and a witch named Mary Willoughby opened a portal to another dimension and let seven horrible monsters through. That stared the war, and got both their magical races imprisoned and killed. There is a reason that sorcerers want to kill witches and only keep magicians downtrodden, but that reason will be revealed later on in the series, so I can’t say too much now.

Can you tell us about your journey in publishing?

My first time querying a manuscript was hell. I’d spent two years teaching myself to write and edit a novel for publication, and after six months of querying I’d had maybe two full requests. It was so dispiriting, and I stopped writing for adults and decided to write for the YA market. I found an idea that I loved, spent a year working on it, and then queried again. This time, the process was pretty much a dream. One week after I queried the man who became my agent, he offered to represent me. A few months after that, we went on submission, and less than two weeks later we had an offer. In some ways, the grueling and painful first attempt at publishing made the later success so much sweeter. I’m extremely grateful that I had that challenging beginning.

This will publish a few days after, but how do you plan on celebrating release day?

I’m going to force myself to sleep later than seven o’clock! Also, I’m planning on getting together with a group of friends that evening, and even though it’s a Tuesday we’re going to have a few drinks. You can’t go too crazy. Everyone has work the next day!

Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

The big inspiration for this series, and for me in general, is Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I call that book my Lord of the Rings in terms of its influence on me, and my writing. Growing up, my parents didn’t keep many fantasy books in the house, but my dad was a big horror guy, so I was weaned on Stephen King. It is the kind of book I didn’t appreciate as much when I was younger, but now that I’m an adult I see its power. Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury were two of my biggest influences as an adolescent, and nowadays I love Diana Gabaldon. There are some great YA fantasy books from up and coming writers like Alwyn Hamilton, Traci Chee, Tara Sim, Audrey Coulthurst, and Roshani Chokshi. And even though I’m not a huge sci-fi person, Dune was one of the most important reads of my life. It was the book that made me want to write speculative fiction professionally, and I’ll always be grateful to it.

Fantasy Book Review: The Scourge

The Scourge by Jennifer A Nielsen

Synopsis:
As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge — and quarantine colony — for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there. However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on.

But will she and Weevil survive long enough to do so?

Review:
Ani and Weevil are loyal friends that would do anything for each other. Ani is a strong and hard-headed girl with a lot of pride. Unfortunately, this gets her in trouble with authority figures; and she winds up in the Colony for Scourge victims. Weevil follows just because he’s loyal and thinks he can help.

This is a fantastic stand-alone story set in a fictional world where a deadly Scourge has the population terrified. The plot is pretty predictable, but it doesn’t make the suspense any less thrilling. The characters are vivid and the story is captivating. The pacing and excitement make it a hard book to put down. Events build to a climactic conclusion that doesn’t disappoint. The Scourge is an engaging story for young adults and adults alike.