Fantasy Book Review: City of a Thousand Dolls

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

Synopsis:
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron’s errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life.

Review:
Nisha is a smart and brave girl, humble but self-reliant. She remembers little of her past other than her father leaving her just outside the City. The City is comprised of almost all women, training girls in various areas such as music, beauty, dancing, and combat in hopes that they will be picked up as apprentices or simply bought by wealthy men.

It’s a unique and brilliant dystopian setting full of mystery and intrigue. The characters are engaging and the story is captivating. Forster’s debut novel is certainly impressive. City of a Thousand Dolls is a coming of age novel with plenty of surprising twists, a murder mystery, drama, and a bit of romance. I loved every bit of this dark and beautiful fantasy. This will be on my list of favorites this year.

Jill Wolfson Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

Furious

Author Jill Wolfson joins SciFiChick.com today with her latest stop on her Blog Tour to talk about her latest release Furious and bringing the Greek mythology of the Furies into modern day.
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The Furies Go to High School
Jill Wolfson

I got the idea to write Furious when my daughter and her two best friends came home from school one day in late October, all excited about their idea for Halloween costumes. They were going to be The Furies, a.k.a. the sisters of darkness, with wild hair, skimpy clothing, wings and hateful expressions.

I was intrigued that these three very modern high-school girls were so drawn to goddesses of revenge that date back to ancient Greece. But that’s the power of myth. A story that arose in one culture and one time resonates across space and time because it speaks to some very important and very human part of us.

We have all felt that life is unfair. We have all been hurt. And we have all wanted to pay back the person who hurt us or hurt someone we love.

So how to update such an old story? I started by reading The Orestia, which is a bloody, revenge-themed trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus, which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. The storyline has all sorts of twists and turns with members of the royal family murdering each other in gory ways, while assorted gods, including the Furies, take sides.

The final play is actually called The Furies and in it, the goddesses of revenge haunt Prince Orestes for killing his mother. But at the end, they are called off and tamed. Given gifts and flattery, their anger subsides and the Furies turn into a trio of goddess called The Kindly Ones.

Curtain down.

But, what if?

What if someone from that ancient time is still so mad that she nurses a grudge for centuries, waiting for the right time to call the Furies back out of retirement.

What if that time is now and the place is a Northern California beach town?

We definitely live in a time of fury. I see it everywhere – on TV and the Internet, on the streets and roads. People are furious about personal problems and larger social issues –the economy, wars, pollution, bullying, racial and gender discrimination, mistreatment of children and animals. There’s so much pent-up anger, and lots of people feel helpless to do anything about it.

Young people feel injustice the hardest. As Stephanie (The Fury Tisiphone) in Furious complains:

What can someone our age do about it? About anything? Write letters? Hold a fund-raiser bake sale? Make speeches in class that nobody reads? I can’t even vote. I have no power.

Well, let’s do something about it!

So that’s how I gave them ancient powers and brought Greek mythology into high school.

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Thanks so much to SciFiChick for hosting this stop on my blog tour. If you want to see pictures of the Furies depicted in art, check out http://jillwolfson.com/furious.html.

I hope you enjoy Furious, and find the fury in yourself.

Courtesy of Macmillan, I have a copy of Furious 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 May 10. I’ll draw a name on May 11, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

Read moreJill Wolfson Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

SciFi Book Review: Reaper’s Legacy

Reaper’s Legacy by Tim Lebbon

Synopsis:
Heroes and monsters clash with government forces in an apocalyptic London. Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a large force of soldiers (known as Choppers), while those in the rest of Britain believe that their ex-capital is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. Jack and his friends know that the truth is very different. The handful of survivors in London are developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving. Meanwhile, the Choppers treat the ruined city as their own experimental playground. Jack’s own developing powers are startling and frightening, though he is determined to save his father, the brutal man with a horrific power who calls himself Reaper. Jack must also find their friend Lucy-Anne, who went north to find her brother. What Lucy-Anne discovers is terrifying-people evolving into monstrous things and the knowledge that a nuclear bomb has been set to destroy what’s left of London. And the clock is ticking.

Review:
This sequel moves back and forth between Jack, trying to rescue his mother and sister from the Choppers and Lucy-Anne accompanied by Rook, searching for Lucy-Anne’s brother. Jack and his friends team up with some unlikely allies as they begin to form a plan to attack those holding Jack’s family and other “evolved” people stuck inside London. In the meantime, Lucy-Anne and Rook journey through London’s most dangerous areas.

As before, both the setting and characters are dark and gritty. Jack’s power-hungry father is an emotional roller coaster for him. The powers that the humans have developed are more times a curse than a blessing. Especially the monstrous ones that Lucy-Anne and Rook encounter. It’s funny that everything that the teens have been through, that Jack and his friends don’t want any more killing – even in self-defense. This didn’t seem realistic, as their hatred for the evil, torturous Choppers should warrant killing them in self-defense when attacked. Despite that annoyance, I really enjoyed this fast-paced sequel. Full of suspense, surprising twists, and a bit of childish humor to lighten the dark mood – Reaper’s Legacy is a thrilling adventure. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for the last installment in this exciting trilogy.

Fantasy Book Review: Poison

Poison by Bridget Zinn

About the Author:
Bridget Zinn was a writer, librarian, and teen literature enthusiast who lived with her husband and two feisty cats in Portland, Oregon, until her untimely passing in 2011. Poison was her debut novel.

Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Review:
Kyra is a very likeable character, despite having tried to kill the princess. She’s a brave heroine who risks everything to save the kingdom. She meets a young man along her journey who challenges her and begins to break down the walls she has put up. And Kyra’s personality further developed thanks to her cute, tracking (dog-like) pig. It’s a darling character that gives Kyra a bit more humanity.

This is a charming fantasy with the feel of a fairy tale. I enjoyed every bit of this fantastic adventure for all ages. Full of mystery, suspense, humor, a bit of romance, and several surprises – I didn’t want this story to end. I was sorry to see that the author passed away, especially so young. But she has left behind a beautiful legacy. Poison is an impressive debut by an obviously talented author. I highly recommend this sweet and captivating fantasy, which has made my list of favorites for the year.

SciFi Audio Book Review: Fox Forever

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

Synopsis:
Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network. Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance—and into Raine’s life.

Review:
Locke is still coping to his new life hundreds of years in the future. Everyone from his old life but Jenna is gone now. And he’s still dealing with unresolved feelings for Jenna, when he begins to form a relationship with Raine. But his blooming relationship with Raine is incredibly complicated as everything he has told her has been a lie. And he has been using her to get information on her father for the resistance.

This is the final installment in the The Jenna Fox Chronicles trilogy. Jenna’s story is ending and this almost entirely focuses on Locke and his story. This novel is also written in first person from Locke’s point of view.

This is an epic science fiction saga for teens and adults alike. Jenna and Locke have their same mind, but their bodies are completely synthetic. They are enhanced and built to live longer lives, but aren’t completely human from the world’s standards. Fox Forever is a dramatic and exciting finale to an impressive trilogy. With engaging characters, mystery, emotional drama, and a bit of romance – this futuristic tale is an unforgettable adventure.

I received an audio (and hardcopy) of this novel, narrated by Matthew Brown. Once again, he does a great job giving the characters a distinct voice. He’s clear and easy to listen to, an enjoyable presentation overall.

SciFi Book Review: Unremembered

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Synopsis:
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe. Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them. Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

Review:
Seraphina not only has no memories of anything before the plane crash, but she has little-to-no knowledge of any slang or twenty-first century life. But she excels at math and numbers. She is taken in by a caring foster family. But it’s soon evident that Seraphina is also emotionally stunted. While she is naturally suspicious of everyone, she has no idea who she can actually trust.

This is the first in a new trilogy – full of mystery, adventure, suspense, and a bit of romance. There is a definite element of science fiction that is central to the story, but this first installment focuses mainly on Seraphina’s journey of self-discovery. Well-paced, with intriguing characters, and a captivating mystery, Unremembered is an entirely memorable novel that I didn’t want to end. Leaving off with a cliffhanger ending, I’ll be eagerly waiting for the sequel.

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