Category Archives: Fantasy

All These Things I’ve Done

Zevin, Gabrielle. All These Things I’ve Done (2011). Macmillan. 367 Pages. $2.99

Birthright | Book One

From Goodreads

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

First Lines

The night before junior year– I was sixteen, barely— Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me. Not in the distant or semidistant future either. Right then.

Admittedly, my taste in boys wasn’t so great. I was attracted to the sort who weren’t in the habit of asking permission to do anything. Boys like my father, I guess.

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Daughter of the Centaurs

Klimo, Kate. Daughter of the Centaurs: Centauriad #1. (January 24, 2012). 384 Pages. Random House. $10.99

First, a brief disclaimer. I received an advance copy via NetGalley in August, 2011. It is entirely possible there have been changes. All opinions expressed are my own, and have not been influenced by the publisher. Expected publication is January 24, 2012.

From Goodreads

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

First Lines

For as long as she can remember, Malora has dreamed of dancing with horses.

“Daughter of the Mountains,” Malora’s mother calls her, for her skin and hair are the dusky red-brown of the rocks, and her upturned eyes– so like her father’s– are the vivid blue-green of the nuggets of malachite that dot the streams running down from the peaks.

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Under the Never Sky

Rossi, Veronica. Under the Never Sky (January 3, 2012). 384 Pages. HarperCollins. $9.99

From Goodreads

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love – one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

First Lines

They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.” A million ways to die out there. Aria never thought she’d get so close.

She bit her lip as she stared at the heavy steel door in front of her. A display screen read AGRICULTURE 6–NO ENTRY in flashing red letters.

Ag 6 was just a service dome, Aria told herself. Dozens of domes supplied Reverie with food, water, oxygen– all the things an enclosed city needed. Ag 6 had been damaged in a recent storm, but supposedly the damage was minor. Supposedly.

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The Trouble With Kings

Smith, Sherwood. The Trouble with Kings (2008).  328 Pages. Samhain Publishing. $5.00*

The Trouble with Kings by Sherwood Smith (Cover)From Goodreads

Princess Flian finds herself the unwilling object of desire of three royals. Is the one she wants a villainor a hero? Waking up in a strange place, Flian Elandersi at first doesn’t know who she is. One wicked prince tells her she is secretly engaged to an even more wicked king who wants to marry her right away. But before that happens, yet another wicked prince crashes through a window on horseback to sweep her off her feet. Memory returns, and Flian realizes that all any of them seem to want is her considerable wealth, not her pleasant-but-ordinary self. She longs to escape the barracks-like, military atmosphere and return to civilization and her musical studies. Who is the villain? Prince Garian Herlesterlanguid, elegant, sarcastic? Prince Jaimhe of the dashing horsemanship? Or King Jason Szinzar, whose ambiguous warning might be a threat? Flian decides it’s time to throw off civilization and take action.

First Lines

I woke up.

By the time I’d drawn one breath I realized that if I’d had anything else to do, I ought to have done it. My head ached before I even tried moving it. I decided not to try. Some experiments just aren’t worth the effort.

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Mastiff

Pierce, Tamora. Mastiff: The Legend of Beka Cooper #3 (2011). 608 Pages. Random House. $18.99

Beka Cooper | Book Three

Please be aware of two things:

1) This is the third book in a series. It may contain spoilers for the first two Beka Cooper books, though I have done my best to avoid spoilers for this book.

2) This review of Mastiff is pre-release, based upon a galley. I did not receive it personally from the publisher*, but it is a galley nonetheless. The book is due out October 25, 2011, which gives you plenty of time to go buy and read the first two books (Terrier, and Bloodhound) so go buy them. Because this is an un-edited, pre-release galley, some details may change.

On that note, I’ve put the entire post behind a “more” tag, because there is no way to even give a synopsis without sharing details of the other books. If you’d like the short version? I feel that with every book she publishes, Tamora Pierce grows as an author, and Mastiff is no exception. It was brilliant, and managed to be all I had hoped for and more. I look forward to reading the published volume.

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Of Dukes and Deceptions

Soliman, Wendy. Of Dukes and Deceptions (2011). 285 Pages.* Carina Press. $3.82**

From Goodreads

When Nicholas Buchanan, the Duke of Dorchester, accepts an invitation to visit a country stud farm, he counters his boredom by striking a wager with his henchman that he’ll bed the poor relation, Alicia Woodley, before the end of his stay. But he reckons without Alicia’s disdain. She’s disgusted by Nick’s cavalier attitude, unimpressed by his grandeur and wants as little as possible to do with him.

Between her newfound role as family charity case and fending off the attentions of both her clueless cousin and the arrogant Nicholas, Alicia Woodley has quite enough to contend with…but when her life is endangered, quite possibly from those closest to her, surprisingly it is Nicholas who seems determined to ensure her safety. As they conspire to uncover secrets that the family wants hidden at all costs, they discover a passion that surpasses all obstacles.

First Lines

Cambridgeshire, England, 1820

The narrow village streets were crammed solid. Various animals and every sort of conveyance competed for the limited space. Stallholders selling anything from fresh produce to bolts of material and edible delicacies had set themselves up wherever they could find the room. Females engaged in the oldest profession were openly plying their trade, oblivious to the noise and lack of privacy. Fleet-footed children readied themselves to relieve the unwary of their valuables.

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The Taming of the Rake

Michaels, Kasey. The Taming of the Rake* (2011). 384 Pages. HQN Books. $7.99**

Synopsis

Meet the Blackthorn brothers— Three unrepentant scoundrels infamous for being mad, bad and perilous to love

Charming, wealthy and wickedly handsome, Oliver “Beau” Blackthorn has it all…except revenge on the enemy he can’t forget. Now the opportunity for retribution has fallen into his hands. But his success hinges on Lady Chelsea Mills–Beckman—the one woman with the power to distract him from his quest.

Desperate to escape her family’s control, Lady Chelsea seizes the chance to run off with the notorious eldest Blackthorn brother, knowing she’s only a pawn in his game. But as Beau draws her deep into a world of intrigue, danger and explosive passion, does she dare hope he’ll choose love over vengeance?

First Lines

“Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” – As You Like It, William Shakespeare

Oliver Le Beau Blackthorn was young and in love, which made him a candidate for less than intelligent behavior on two counts.

And so it was that, with the clouded vision of a man besotted, that same Oliver Le Beau Blackthorn, raised to think quite highly of himself, the equal to all men, did, with hat figuratively in hand, hope in his heart and a bunch of posies clutched to his breast, bound up the marble steps to the mansion in Portland Place one find spring morning and smartly rap the massive door with the lion’s head brass knocker.

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The Emperor’s Edge

Buroker, Lindsay. The Emperor’s Edge: A High Fantasy Adventure in an Era of Steam (2010). Digital Only. Self-Published. $.99

I figured “Eh, $.99? Why not?” That’s the problem with Kindle, and instant-gratification low- or no-cost books; “Why Not?” That’s how you end up with a to-be-read list hundreds of books long. I kid you not, it’s gotten completely out of hand, even if you disregard everything except the ones I actively intend to read soon instead of just eventually. That’s how I ended up with Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge.

From the Author’s Website

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.

First Lines

Corporal Amaranthe Lokdon paced. Her short sword, night stick, and handcuffs bumped and clanked at her thighs with each impatient step. Enforcer Headquarters frowned down at her, an ominous gray cliff of a building that glowered at the neighborhood like a turkey vulture, except with less charisma.

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Red Glove

Black, Holly. White Cat (2011).  325 Pages. Margaret K. McElderry. $17.99

The Curse Workers | Book Two

Please be aware that because this is the second book in a series, there may be spoilers for the first book, White Cat. Proceed with caution.

Also included in this post, my opinion on “Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces,” which was a teaser to bridge the gap between White Cat and Red Glove. (I loved it.)

From Goodreads

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

First Lines

I don’t know whether it’s day or night when the girl gets up to leave. Her minnow silver dress swishes against the tops of her thighs like Christmas tinsel as she opens the hotel door.

I struggle to remember her name.

“So you’ll tell your father at the consulate about me?” Her lipstick is smeared across her cheek. I should tell her to fix it, but my self-loathing is so great that I hate her along with myself.

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White Cat

Black, Holly. White Cat (2010).  336 Pages. Margaret K. McElderry. $7.99

The Curse Workers | Book One

The lovely ladies of Reading In Skirts and I have a pseudo-bookclub. Pseudo because we live very far apart, and because we don’t meet as consistently as we like. (Mostly it’s my fault for having two part-time retail jobs.) Recently we tackled White Cat, (and then agreed to read Red Glove) and this is what I’ve managed to decide, as far as this book is concerned.

From Goodreads

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the con men.

First Lines

I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles. Looking dizzily down. I suck in a breath of icy air.

Above me are stars. Below me, the bronze statue of Colonel Wallingford makes me realize I’m seeing the quad from the peak of Smythe Hall, my dorm.

I have no memory of climbing the stairs up to the roof. I don’t even know how to get where I am, which is a problem since I’m going to have to get down, ideally in a way that doesn’t involve dying.

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