Incendiary – Book Review

Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

Synopsis:
Renata was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a memory thief, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata was used by the crown to carry out the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown. The Whispers may have rescued Renata years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred — or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she drained during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit — and the boy she’s grown to love — is taken captive by the notorious Principe Dorado, Renata must return to Andalucia and complete Dez’s top secret mission herself. Can she keep her cover, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the fate of the entire kingdom — and end the war that has cost her everything.

Review:
The premise sounded interesting, but I had no idea how captivating this story would be. The world is inspired by Inquisition Spain, yet full of magical mental gifts that are hated by all who don’t possess them.

Renata/Ren is a complex character – gifted and strong, but traumatized with little self-worth. She can read the memories of anyone she touches, with the ability to drain them to empty shells. And she becomes a spy in the place she hates the most in order to find a dangerous weapon and enact her revenge.

Incendiary is the first in a planned duology. Full of intrigue, betrayal, suspense, and drama – this was easily one of my favorite novels this year. There are vibrant characters, a complex and unique world, and an exciting plot that makes this a must-read for YA fantasy fans.

Chosen Ones – Book Review

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Synopsis:
Fifteen years ago, five ordinary teenagers were singled out by a prophecy to take down an impossibly powerful entity wreaking havoc across North America. He was known as the Dark One, and his weapon of choice—catastrophic events known as Drains—leveled cities and claimed thousands of lives. Chosen Ones, as the teens were known, gave everything they had to defeat him.

On the tenth anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat, something unthinkable happens: one of the Chosen Ones dies. When the others gather for the funeral, they discover the Dark One’s ultimate goal was much bigger than they, the government, or even prophecy could have foretold—bigger than the world itself.

Review:
Sloane was one of the Chosen Ones and now has to live with her celebrity status as well as the trauma of her past. She and the rest of her colleagues are all dealing with their notoriety differently. And when tragedy strikes, they are once again pitted against a magical foe.

As a fan of the Divergent series, I was interested in reading this novel for adults by Roth as well. This is a dark and deep story that focuses on Sloane, a strong but damaged young woman. I love this character and her development over the course of the book. Some of the magical stuff was confusing to me, but the pacing and suspense picked up in the final third of the book. And while some of the surprises were a bit predictable, it didn’t make the showdowns any less intense. I thoroughly enjoyed this adult debut from a talented author.

Loop – Book Review

The Loop by Ben Oliver

Synopsis:
It’s Luka Kane’s sixteenth birthday and he’s been inside The Loop for over two years. Every inmate is serving a death sentence with the option to push back their execution date by six months if they opt into “Delays”, scientific and medical experiments for the benefit of the elite in the outside world.

But rumors of a war on the outside are spreading amongst the inmates, and before they know it, their tortuous routine becomes disrupted. The government issued rain stops falling. Strange things are happening to the guards. And it’s not long until the inmates are left alone inside the prison.

Were the chains that shackled Luka to his cell the only instruments left to keep him safe? In a thrilling shift, he must overcome fellow prisoners hell-bent on killing him, the warden losing her mind, the rabid rats in the train tunnels, and a population turned into murderous monsters to try and break out of The Loop, save his family, and discover who is responsible for the chaos that has been inflicted upon the world.

Review:
Dystopian scifi is really popular, especially in YA media. And this debut is very impressive. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such an engaging and suspenseful novel. There is a sense of panic and fear that makes this book impossible to put down. Luka is a sympathetic character. And the rest of the kids Luka meets, we learn along with him what their true characters are when they’re put to the test. This story is original and exciting. And I’ve read that it’s already been optioned for a TV series.

This is the first in a planned trilogy. And I can’t wait for the next installment.

The Companions – Book Review

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn

Synopsis:
The consciousness of the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service of the living. For the wealthy, this means an opportunity to remain with their families long after their physical bodies have deteriorated. For the less fortunate, they are destined to be rented out to strangers as the intellectual property of the corporation that owns them. But one young woman, Lilac, is about to change everything…

What does it mean to be human? Can human consciousness be owned? Is defying death a gift or a prison? What if identity theft truly meant having all your thoughts, memories, and experiences stolen?

Review:
The Companions is a unique novel, as told from eight different characters over a course of time. We’re first introduced to Lilac who becomes a Companion for a young girl. She has all the memories and personality of who she was before, but limited to a robot body. But an act of rebellion steers can change the course of Companions forever.

This is an impressive debut. Each character was so unique and well-crafted that it was easy to jump into each scenario. And I got wrapped up in each narrative. This was an emotional roller coaster with plenty of suspense and heartache. I do wish some things were better explained, like why the companions artificial bodies deteriorated so fast and why there weren’t ways around that. And the ending felt a little disjointed and unfinished.
But overall, I really enjoyed this strange and tragic tale.

Wizard for Hire: Magic Required – Book Review

Wizard for Hire: Magic Required by Obert Skye

Synopsis:

The final answer to the existence of magic.

Ozzy and his friend Sigi are in more danger than ever before. After being injected with the mindcontrolling serum, Ozzy is learning to control the minds of people, but he is still being hunted by Ray, the power-mad villain who will stop at nothing to find and possess the formula. And on top of that, Rin still claims he’s a wizard, but he and Clark are missing, leaving Ozzy to wonder once again if magic really does exist.

When it becomes apparent that the minds and free will of all mankind are in danger of being controlled by whoever controls the serum, Ozzy and Sigi join forces with strange new friends that claim magic-like abilities. When Rin finally returns, Ozzy will discover once and for all what happened to his parents, what really happens at those popular fantasy conventions, and if magic truly exists.

Review:
Magic Required is the third installment in the Wizard for Hire series. Rin and Clark have returned. But Rin has a mysterious mission that he doesn’t share with anyone. Ozzy and Sigi have been trying to return to a normal life, while waiting for Rin to return. Meanwhile, the villain Ray will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Just when you think you think you have Rin and his magic figured out, we get another curve-ball that makes you doubt everything. I love how we’re kept guessing. Yet there is a satisfying ending. I thoroughly enjoyed this magical trilogy with quirky characters. There is plenty of humor, suspense, and heart in this middle grade adventure.

The Revenge of Magic: The Future King – Book Review

The Revenge of Magic: The Future King by James Riley

Synopsis:
Dealing with monster attacks and his missing father has been hard enough for Fort Fitzgerald in his first month at the Oppenheimer School. But there’s another school for magic, this one in the United Kingdom, that’s about to create even bigger problems.

Six of the Carmarthen Academy students found themselves lost in time when they first started learning magic. Now they’ve returned, with news of a coming war that the students claim only they can stop.

But their new plan for the world might lead to an even worse future, one that Fort and his friends are destined to help bring about, no matter how much they might want to fight it.

Can Fort change the future that the Time students have already seen play out? Or is he destined to pay for his past mistakes for all of time?

Review:
The Future King is the third installment in this fast-paced, fantasy, adventure series for middle readers. This latest novel is adrenaline-filled from beginning to end. And though action-packed, I do wish there was the same amount of character development as before. This was the first time I kept getting a few of the minor characters confused with each other. But the story certainly moves along to a surprising, big finale. And, as before, the next in the series can’t come soon enough. This is a solid series with an engaging and unique world of magic.

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