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Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: The False Prince

Book Review: The False Prince

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

When young Sage is taken from an orphanage by a nobleman named Conner, his suspicions are aroused when he finds he’s not the only boy that has been taken. And their appearances are all fairly similar. Conner tells them he has a plan to groom the boys and to choose one of them to replace a missing prince, yet ensuring Conner remains in control. Sage and the others soon learn there is no escape from Conner’s plan except by death. Conner holds many secrets and will go to any lengths necessary to see his plans through.

Sage is a bold and brash young man and is surprising likeable. He says things that most would think, but never say aloud. He disguises his cunning intellect with hotheaded and sarcastic remarks. And he’s clearly the only one who could match wits with the scheming Conner.

The False Prince is the first in a new trilogy, yet this first story ended well, without major cliffhangers. Sage is a memorable character and completely engaging. With the mood dark and covert, I couldn’t put this one down. Nielsen’s writing is captivating and full of thrilling suspense. With plenty of plot twists and surprises, there is never a dull moment in this adventure novel for middle readers on up.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Fear

Fear by Michael Grant

The former town of Perdido Beach is now called the FAYZ by its survivors located within the dome surrounding town where everyone over 15 years old suddenly disappeared. Just as an uneasy peace has fallen over the survivors for the past several months, the dome is changing, losing its light. The weakening of the dome is an opportunity for the enemy called the Gaiaphage. It could mean escape from its prison. But the children fear the coming and consuming darkness, as their world goes completely black.

The children of the FAYZ have gone through an incredible ordeal – starvation, sickness, infestation, mutations, brutality, murder, and more. There are some major changes in this installment, but it’s still not the end. One welcome addition is the story of the adults outside the dome. We finally see how they’re handling the giant mystery and the change/weakening of the dome. Grant’s characters are certainly flawed, yet there’s still the greater struggle of good versus evil. This fifth novel is just as dark and intense as before and answers are finally coming to light. Very violent and at times heart-wrenching, this story has the feel of Lord of the Flies meets young X-Men. I have read that the series will end with the next installment. This action-packed, suspenseful series has me eagerly awaiting the final resolution.

Browse inside and check out an excerpt here: http://bit.ly/GKhWli

Fear will release from Harper Teen on April 3, 2012

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Illuminate

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Haven Terra is just turning sixteen and given the opportunity of a lifetime. She and two other top students have been granted internships at a luxurious, high profile new hotel in Chicago. Haven immediately sees something different about the hotel staff (dubbed The Outfit) – they’re all model-beautiful with little personality. Haven quickly forms a crush on the gorgeous second-in-command Lucian, who barely looks out of high school himself. But with information given from a mysterious book, Haven soon realizes the hotel staff has a dark plan – trading souls to the devil. Now, Haven and her friends are all that stand against the evil threatening the souls of Chicago.

Agresti’s debut novel is impressive and surprising. Marketed for young adults, the subject matter is age appropriate yet dark and suspenseful enough for older readers as well. The hotel management and Outfit are incredibly ominous and creepy. Yet Haven’s innocence and goodness seems unshakable. While some of the outcomes are predictable (especially since the big mystery for Haven is unfortunately given away on the back cover), the suspense is not lessened in the least. While the novel is lengthy, the story didn’t seem to lag, keeping an even pace and steady character development. The characters were completely engaging, and the story had me hooked from beginning to end. Don’t miss this recent release from a talented new author.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Adventurers Wanted: Albrek’s Tomb

Adventurers Wanted: Albrek’s Tomb by M. L. Forman

Alex Taylor joins his third adventure to find the long-lost dwarf Albrek and his magical ring that helped the dwarves find land rich in minerals to mine. Alex now has a staff and is no longer an apprentice, but has full wizard status. But the group of adventurers is in for variety of trials and obstacles before they discover what happened to Albrek and his final resting place.

Alex has matured and grown more confident in his abilities, yet still seems doubtful when he hears about his potential. The adventure and excitement are even greater in this third and final installment in the Adventurer’s Wanted trilogy. Though, there seems to be endless stories to tell, so I hope Forman continues to write more in exceptional fantasy world. His worldbuilding and unique characters are fascinating and engaging. A thrilling, quest-based fantasy – this world has its share of evil, but the majority of characters uphold honor and charity above greed and material wealth. Which is funny considering that on the surface an adventurers’ career goal seems to be accumulating wealth. I highly recommend this light-hearted, epic fantasy trilogy to readers of all ages.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: The Calling

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

A forest fire forces Maya Delaney to flee town in a helicopter along with the mayor, and several other teens. But she’s sure the fire was set on purpose, and her fear is justified when the teens are kidnapped. But a helicopter crash helps them to flee deep into the woods of Vancouver Island. With their would-be captors hot on their trail, the group must rely on their wits and special abilities to see them home.

The second installment in the Darkness Rising trilogy, The Calling centers on a select group of teenagers and their wild adventure trying to find a way back to civilization, knowing they can’t trust anyone. Maya has a secret – that she’s a skin-walker, just one of the gifts that have been bred into the teens.

Though the trilogy must be read in order, there is a convenient, brief review of events from the first novel that I found extremely beneficial since it’s been a year since the last release. This novel reads like a survival thriller film – an abundance of suspense, adventure, and pulse-pounding excitement. While the first laid the foundation with the characters and was engaging, this sequel was darker with non-stop danger and suspense. This fast-paced, young adult fantasy trilogy is entirely captivating. I’m not sure how all the loose ends will tie up in just one more final installment, but it promises to be a wild ride.

The Calling releases from Harper Teen on April 10, 2012.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Fair Coin

Fair Coin by E.C. Myers

Ephraim Scott arrives home from school to find his mother passed out in the kitchen, after trying to kill herself with alcohol and pills. But her reason for the attempt is what shocks Ephraim. She was told that Ephraim had been killed, his body identified at the morgue. His mother’s purse contains the dead boy’s personal effects which surprisingly holds his own library card and a strange coin. After receiving mysterious instructions to flip the coin and make a wish, Ephraim wishes that his mother never went to the hospital and that she was more mothering. The coin grows warm and seems to grant his wish, as he returns home to a drastically different mother. Then, the coin grants his wish that his crush would like him back. But the coin has changed other things too, and not all for the better.

Ephraim is sixteen, with a geeky and somewhat annoying best friend. His crush is Jena who is pretty, smart and popular. While Ephraim is a relatable, good kid, the power of the coin quickly begins to have a negative effect on his friend, turning him dark and disturbing. The suspense continues to build to a heart-pounding finale. Impossible to put down, this fast-paced scifi adventure is laced with teen angst and humor. An impressive debut, Fair Coin is a non-stop thrill ride with plenty of unexpected twists.

Fantasy – Fiction Book Review: Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion

Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull

Jason is back home, after returning from his adventures in Lyrian. But knowing Rachel is still there and in possible danger, Jason manages to cross back to Lyrian the same way he got there last time – through the mouth of a hippo. Meanwhile, Rachel is developing her magical talents, and it’s soon apparent she has more potential than anyone thought possible. The two Beyonders must eventually meet up with the Blind King and start a quest to bring together sympathetic kingdoms to rebel against Maldor.

Second in the Beyonders trilogy that began with A World Without Heroes, Seeds of Rebellion brings back many familiar characters as well as some new that quickly became favorites. Mull’s creative world of Lyrian has a fantastic array of unique races, some familiar with a new twist. A favorite character is Ferrin, a displacer who can remove body parts at will without harm, who is completely honest about his traitorous tendencies yet wants to remain loyal to Jason.

This quality epic fantasy is geared towards a younger crowd but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. A quest-based fantasy, the adventure is even-paced and woven with complexity. Plenty of mystery, suspense, magic, and humor make this sequel even more enjoyable than the first. As a fan of Mull’s Fablehaven series, I can’t get enough of his bold characters, amazing worldbuilding, and quality storytelling. The novel ends with a cliffhanger and plenty of build-up that will leave readers with high expectations for the third and final installment.

Sci-Fi – Fiction Book Review: Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Apprentice Tom Natsworthy rescues his mentor Valentine from a gruesomely, scarred girl bent on revenge. When the would-be assassin, Hestor, is thrown from the moving city of London, Tom is pushed after her. Both want to get back to London, so they make an uneasy alliance after Hestor tells her story of Valentine’s dark past. Meanwhile, the officials in London have an ancient, secret weapon that could prove unstoppable against any city in their path.

First in the Predator Cities Quartet (also known as Mortal Engines Quartet), Mortal Engines is set in a future world where most of our knowledge of technology has been lost and cities have been made mobile and hunt each other to grow and survive. Reeve’s dark, cut-throat world includes desperate and eccentric characters that are completely engaging. This highly entertaining steampunk world is written for middle grade, but can be enjoyed by adults as well. Full of adventure, intrigue, and drama – this fast-paced story is impossible to put down.

Mortal Engines will be re-released in the US by Scholastic Press on June 1, 2012.