Posts Categorized: 3.5 star books

The Queen of Blood: Review

The Queen of Blood: Review

The Queen of Blood is the sort of quiet, more subdued fantasy that mostly feels dreamy and innocent. And then Sarah Beth Durst will turn right back around and remind you at various points that this story has quite the emotional barb. The story of young Daleina, training to be a potential successor to the queen of Aratay, is one in which you will find many of the more common fantasy tropes, but also many subverted. And it’s such an endearing story, and well done in the telling, that I found I didn’t much mind how much of the book follows well worn fantasy paths. Daleina’s world is one full of bloodthirsty spirits. There are spirits for each of the four elements, as well as tree spirits. These pernicious inhabitants barely tolerate the existence of humans; their blood thirst is only ever barely sated. The one force keeping the spirits from… Read more »

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Mini Reviews: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Round Up

Mini Reviews: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Round Up

Here we have three entries that show just how varied fantasy novels can be. There’s a historical, paranormal fantasy, a fantasy romantic comedy, and a graphic novel that is part steampunk, part epic fantasy. Let’s take a look!              Title: These Vicious Masks Author: Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars Release Date: February 9, 2016 Publisher: Swoon Reads Age Group: YA Source: Borrowed I’m so glad I read this absorbing paranormal historical story set in Victorian London. If you typically enjoy books placed in this setting, These Vicious Masks will not disappoint. There are all the usual trappings: young heroine who defies Society and its restrictive gender roles, a dashing gentleman (or two), and a paranormal mystery/quest driving its heart. Evelyn is our sassy, independent MC on a quest to save her gentle, kind-hearted sister from the hands of a devious mad scientist bent… Read more »

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Steeplejack: Review

Steeplejack: Review

It’s interesting to ponder what qualifies as a fantasy and what exactly makes that so. You can have fantasy that takes place in whole other realms replete with magic and magical creatures. You can have fantasy that places in our very own world, but with elements of the wondrous. Then you have works like Steeplejack, in which there is no magic (or none yet presented) but the world it takes place in is not our own, and so it is a fantasy work. It just occurred to me while reading how interesting the many varietals of fantasy works are.  This is a book that reads very much like a historical crime novel that takes place in 19th century South Africa. But it is not 19th century South Africa, only a land in an unknown world that has many echoes and similarities to it. Does this seem like a complaint? Not… Read more »

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Future Shock: Review

Future Shock: Review

Don’t you love that feeling when you’re totally immersed into a story from page one? Future Shock grabbed my attention from the get go with heroine Elena’s sharp wit, tough exterior, and good heart. The fast pace of the plot and the time travel element made this one a futuristic sci-fi mystery I really enjoyed reading! Nearly 18, and about to be kicked out of the foster care system in which she has found little refuge, Elena is nearly out of options. When approached by a mega-corporation to sign on for a 24 hour that all but guarantees her way into a well-off future, Elena doesn’t hesitate too long. The mission, it turns out, involves sending a motley crew of 5 teens (all but one also from the foster system) ten years into the future to report back on advancements in technology and any other pertinent info that might benefit… Read more »

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A Curious Beginning: Review

A Curious Beginning: Review

If you’ve been itching to curl up with an absorbing historical mystery that will make you laugh and swoon, then A Curious Beginning is right up your alley! I am not usually much one for mystery novels, but the combination of features here, Victorian London, an intrepid and super sassy heroine (also a lady scientist, yay!), and a developing romance hit all the right checkmarks for me. I’m glad I gave this one a try as it really is a super enjoyable set up to what could, finger crossed, be a long and rewarding series! The story begins with our heroine, Veronica Speedwell, burying  her last “relative” and remaining connection to her childhood. A foundling, Veronica had been raised by two spinster sisters, often moving at a whim around the country, causing constant upheaval in her life. Veronica soon discovers, though, that her very life is under attack, with mysterious… Read more »

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Passenger: Review

Passenger: Review

Time travel! Romance! A hunt for hidden artifacts! Alexandra Bracken’s latest book, Passenger, tells the story of teen violinist Etta Spencer, who is pushed through a wormhole on the night of her debut and ends up on an 18th century ship en route to New York. Etta quickly learns she’s been kidnapped by the head of a family of time-travelers who are holding her mother as hostage and who want her to retrieve something her mother stole many (many, many) years ago that could (literally) change the course of human history. Her mother’s hidden it away in time and left a series of clues only Etta can decipher that send her to different periods of human history. Think of it as “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?” but instead of chasing Carmen Sandiego through history, Etta and her partner are chasing down a priceless, dangerous artifact. To find it, they have to locate… Read more »

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Front Lines: Review

Front Lines: Review

What if the draft had been extended to young women in WWII as well as men? That’s the premise of Michael Grant’s new book, Front Lines, and that’s pretty much all I needed to know before making grabby hands at it at NCTE this year. I saw the cover, saw the tagline – “she’s fighting for her country” – and was like, oh yes, I shall be reading you, book. I mean, I will read alternate histories any day of the week and if they’re alternate histories that focus on women’s experiences, then hell yes, I’m there. And as far as that goes, Front Lines did not disappoint! So Front Lines follows three young women – Rio, Frangie, and Rainy – as they enlist in the army and are shipped overseas. They have different motivations: Rio, a white girl from California, wants to do her part (but is also talked into it… Read more »

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