SciFi Book Review: Changeling

Changeling by Kelly Meding

Dahlia “Ember” Perkins is the new Meta (superhuman) on the team and has the ability to absorb and manipulate fire. The super-heroes-for-hire have done everything they can to welcome and accept Ember into their group, but she still feels like she doesn’t fit in. The Metas are called in to help local police with a bizarre murder where only the victim’s skin is left behind. And when clues lead to an old case of Ember’s, she soon finds herself the target of a killer.

This is the sequel to last year’s Trance. While Trance felt more like a super hero/super villain showdown, Changeling feels more like a mystery/paranormal cop show. While still in the same series, the point of view shifts to another team member as well. Meding has done a great job with character development. No shallow cardboard cut outs here. And I was surprised that the drama was just as interesting as the action-packed adventure scenes. This fantastic sequel is packed with suspense, thrills and plenty of surprises. Urban fantasy, scifi, and super hero fans alike will enjoy this dark, intense series.

Fantasy Book Review: Tin Swift

Tin Swift by Devon Monk

Cedar Hunt has been traveling with the Madder brothers, Mae, Rose, and his brother Wil. Cedar has promised to lead the Madder brothers to the mysterious Strange weapon called the Holder. Cedar can track it, thanks to his curse. Every full moon Cedar feels the call of the beast within himself. Mae is a witch and once they find her coven, she has promised to free Cedar and Wil from their curse. But when they come across a town that stinks of the Strange and all the people are dead, Cedar will have to make hard decisions that will alter their course.

This is the sequel to last year’s Dead Iron, bringing back some great characters. Cedar has blossoming feelings for Mae, the recent widow who is slowing going insane because of her link to her coven miles away. Unfortunately, the Madder brothers aren’t in this story very much, but we’re introduced to an airship full of new, fun characters.

Monk flawlessly blends fantasy, steampunk, and western in this fantastic series. And surprisingly, I enjoyed this one even more than the first. With swashbuckling adventure, mysterious artifacts, magic, and imaginative steam-powered technology – Tin Swift is not to be missed. Fast-paced and exciting, I flew through this one and couldn’t put it down. I’m certainly looking forward to future installments in this incredible series.

Mystery Book Review: The Harry Houdini Mysteries: The Houdini Specter

The Harry Houdini Mysteries: The Houdini Specter by Daniel Stashower

Harry Houdini is a struggling performer, trying to become famous. Houdini and his brother Dash will agree to just about anything to get on the stage. Dash and Houdini are asked by an old friend to expose a conman holding séances and claiming to speak to a wealthy widow’s recently deceased husband. But during their séance, even Houndini can’t manage to immediately figure out how the conman, Lucius Craig, created a ghost-like figure that seems to have murdered one of the guests. And Craig was completely tied up to a chair, which Houdini himself secured the ropes.

This is the third installment in the Harry Houdini Mysteries, though is wholly standalone. As a fan of the famous escape artist, I love reading about Houdini – even fictional accounts. Stashower’s atmosphere and dialog feels like an exciting Sherlock Holmes novel, set in a slightly later time period and with a seemingly unsolvable mystery. In this series, Houdini is an outrageously eccentric and flamboyant performer who is always “on.” He obviously appreciates Sherlock Holmes, but is significantly more showy and absolutely believes that he is one of the world’s greatest performers and escape artists. Dash plays straight man to Houdini’s over-the-top hilarity, and the two are incredibly funny and charming.

The mystery within The Houdini Specter was inspired and engrossing. The characters are completely loveable. And the final climactic showdown was suspenseful and thrilling. Fast-paced and a quick read, I couldn’t put this down and devoured it in just a couple hours. I will definitely be picking up the rest in this fantastic series.

YA Thriller Book Review: Cold Fury

Cold Fury by TM Goeglein

Sara Jane Rispoli is part of a close-knit Italian family. Her father, uncle and grandfather all run a bakery. But when her uncle’s jealousy of her father causes a rift in the family, Sara Jane learns that her family has been keeping some dark secrets. Then her house is broken into and her parents and brother disappear, and Sara Jane discovers, courtesy of a hidden notebook, that her family has been rooted in the Chicago mafia since the days of Al Capone. Now, Sara Jane is on the run from a determined, hooded pursuer and a dirty cop, while desperately trying to find out what happened to her family.

Sara Jane is a smart sixteen-year-old with a good heart. She doesn’t have any desire to join any cliques at school and would rather hang out with her family. As a result, she doesn’t have many friends. But she excels at boxing, her favorite past time, that seems to fuel a strange “cold fury” that burns within her in times of distress.

I love being surprised by new authors. And this was a breath of fresh air. Goeglein’s story of Sara Jane’s family is fascinating, weaving in Chicago’s mob history back in the days of the prohibition. I found myself completely caught up in the excitement and suspense. Cold Fury is YA thriller with a complex plot, fascinating characters, and fast-paced adventure. This riveting story was impossible to put down. The climactic ending, left on a bit of a cliffhanger that left me wanting more. Thankfully, this is just the first in a planned trilogy from an obviously talented new author. YA adventure fans as well as adults should check out this outstanding debut.


Cold Fury releases from Putnam Juvenile on July 24, 2012.

Fantasy Book Review: The Legend of Jig Dragonslayer Omnibus

The Legend of Jig Dragonslayer by Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines’ charming and funny fantasy series, The Goblin Trilogy, is available today from DAW Books – including Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero, and Goblin War!

Below are the reviews previously posted on this site for the included novels:

Goblin Quest
Jig is a small, even for a goblin, and often gets ridiculed by his peers. While patrolling through neighboring tunnels, Jig stumbles upon a group of adventurers. Captured for his knowledge of the underground tunnel system, Jig is forced to join the group and their search for the Rod of Creation. Legend says that the Rod was made by a dangerous Necromancer and is now supposedly held in a dragon’s lair.

Join Jig on this fun journey of laughs, danger, and magic. In this distinctive fantasy, we get to view life from a goblin’s point of view. As Jig learns more about the world around him, he also begins to learn more about himself. And as Jig’s character develops throughout the story from the different situations and obstacles that he is forced to endure, I found myself growing more attached to the little goblin.

Goblin Quest is a cleverly written adventure fantasy with a not-so-ordinary goblin hero. Goblins are usually viewed as villains in most fantasy stories, so it was humorous to see the reversed roles where the humans are the greedy fortune hunters. I thoroughly enjoyed this fun and exciting fantasy debut and will definitely be following future episodes.

Goblin Hero
After recovering from his adventures in slaying the Necromancer and the dragon, Jig is now known as “Jig Dragonslayer.” Unfortunately for him, an invading army of pixies know about him too. When an ogre comes to the goblins (Jig specifically) for help with a pixie infestation, Jig is forced to lead a group to investigate. But Veka, a wizard-in-training, is jealous of Jig’s hero status, and decides to save the day herself. And she just may jeopardize everyone’s chance at defeating the invaders to their land.

I was surprised to find that I enjoyed Goblin Hero even more than its predecessor. With even more laughs and excitement, Jig becomes the reluctant hero once again. Every character is unique with wonderful quirks. From the brawny goblin who pretends to be dumber than he is to the hobgoblin warrior who faints at the sight of blood, this fantasy is cleverly written from beginning to end. I can’t recommend this series enough.

Goblin War

Jig has bested a dragon, necromancer, and pixies; but now he’s up against a powerful orc and her army. To make matters worse, Jig has to deal with an army of humans as well. As a long-lost secret is revealed about Tymalous Shadowstar’s forgotten past, can Jig trust his benefactor enough to stand against the most powerful being Jig has ever encountered? Humans and the “uncivilized creatures” lives all may hang in the balance as armies clash and a dark plot unravels.

As a fan of the first two installments, I had high expectations for Goblin War. And I wasn’t disappointed. There is plenty of adventure, humor, and magic contributing to make this a fantastic fantasy. Jig’s character has been slowly developing over the course of the trilogy. And big questions are revealed that have been looming since the beginning. The humor is the most wonderful aspect of this unique series, and this latest had me laughing out loud (especially a certain reference to a Shel Silverstein story). Each of these books has been better than the last. This series is a must-read and one of my all-time favorites!

Fantasy Book Review: Team Human

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

New Whitby is a safe haven for vampires, as well as a residence for a human population. Mel has never had a problem with living in the same town with so many vampires, since she has never had to deal with them before. But when one joins her school, her best friend Cathy quickly falls for the uptight, undead in a seventeen-year-old body. Mel will do anything she can to keep Cathy from a decision she may regret. Meanwhile, Mel is asked by another friend to look into her father’s uncharacteristic behavior and disappearance.

Mel is a smart and strong character. She has a good heart, especially when it comes to her friends. She puts her friends’ problems before her own, even when she meets an odd human boy raised by vampires. They have a particular chemistry, but she focuses more of her attention on Cathy’s vampire romance and the missing father mystery than their budding romance.

Larbalestier and Brennan have teamed up to create a familiar vampire YA fantasy with a unique twist. I’m a fan of vampire stories, so I loved the idea and wasn’t disappointed with the wit or suspense. Though a bit predictable, the story is fast-paced, engaging, and suspenseful. With plenty of humor, teen angst, family drama, and even zombies – Team Human is a fun and exciting story that both Team Edward and non-Twilight fans will enjoy.


Team Human releases from Harper Teen on July 3, 2012.

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