Tag Archives: alternate universe

Six of Crows

Bardugo, Leigh. Six of Crows (2015). Henry Holt and Co. 479 Pages. $9.99

First book in the Six of Crows Series
Set in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Universe

23437156From Amazon

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

First Lines

Joost had two problems: the moon ans his mustache.

He was supposed to be making his rounds at the Hoede house, but for the last fifteen minutes, he’d been hovering around the southeast wall of the gardens, trying to think of something clever and romantic to say to Anya.

If only Anya’s eyes were blue like the sea or green like an emerald. Instead, her eyes were brown– lovely, dreamy… melted chocolate brown? Rabbit fur brown?

(If you’d like to hear this clip, check out the Read More; Audible has provided a sample of the audiobook which begins with the intro.) 

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Spinning Starlight

Lewis, R.C. Spinning Starlight. (2015). Disney-Hyperion. 336 Pages. $10.09

SpinningStarlightFrom Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

First Lines

After sixteen years, you think I’d be used to the incessant buzz of vid-cams swarming to chronicle every breath I take. I’m not. Good thing, too, or I might not have noticed when one of the tiny airbourne devices slips into the hovercar with me like an errant bumblebee.

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Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Teen Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Chalice

McKinley, Robin. Chalice (2009). 272 Pages. Ace. $7.99

I’ve read every single book Robin McKinley has ever written, and I’ve read some of them so many times that they have fallen apart and had to be replaced. Some, I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed more than others. Chalice is midddling; it’s not my favorite of her books, but it is good.

To explain the world a little bit, there is an Overlord who rules the region, like a King. The region has been broken up into demesnes*, and each demesne has a Master- the lord of the estate- and his Circle which is made up of various people who have different skills and responsibilities. Mirasol- our protagonist- was a simple beekeeper and woodsman until she had to step into the role of the Chalice for an ailing demesne. Too many years of a bad Master, a broken Circle, and a weak Chalice have left the land hurting.

Mirasol isn’t quite sure what she is expected to do as Chalice- she never had an apprenticeship, and acquired the job after the last Chalice died- but she’s learning from the books she can find, and trying to do what she can. As a beekeeper, she was in the unique position to become the only Chalice whose power works through honey, something which makes her feel even more inadequate and unprepared.

There is also the Master, a priest of fire who has lost a lot of his humanity through his priesthood. As the younger brother of the previous Master, he is the next to ascend through bloodlines, but his position as a fire priest has the entire population of the demesne worried. The Master himself is unsure about himself or his ability to help, but he loves the land, and is trying to keep it whole.

Mirasol and the Master both love their home, and want to save the land. Together, they hope to protect the Willowlands, repair the damage done to it, and perhaps find themselves in the process.

This book reads like a fairytale- something Ms McKinley works well with- and has the feeling of high-fantasy which marks all of her work. Chalice, like so many of her other books feels like it is in three parts; the introduction, the rising, and the climax. While the plot remains the same through all three, there are very different feelings from one part to the next. It stays continuous enough that it feels like a single book, which is key.

The Quick Version:

Mirasol is the sort of protagonist who works well for a world so alien to us. She is new enough to her role that she is still learning, which allows the reader to learn with her. She is also the sort of character you find yourself rooting for, and really liking. The Master as well is a very sympathetic character; you want to like him as much as Mirasol wants to like him. The plot and the world are incredibly alien to our own, which means that they are sometimes very hard to understand, but it is mostly explained well. The book is not suspenseful, and does not grab you so you can not put it down, but it is a nice, relaxing read. It gets a 4 out of 5 (perhaps my most common rating) because it is good, but it is not her best book.

I’m sure you’ll want to read it; find it on Amazon, or Swaptree.

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* I was confused by “demesne” when I first came across it. It is a large estate, typically controlled by nobles. It’s not a common word, but it works here.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, High Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Karma Girl

Estep, Jennifer. Karma Girl (2006). 360 Pages. Penguin. $14.00

I picked this one up on clearance at Borders, and thought “why not, for $2.99, who cares if it’s bad?” It wasn’t amazing, but it was interesting, and it kept me reading, which is key. I did not find myself laughing, but I was drawn in by the plot, and it invaded my brain to the extent that I found myself thinking about it while I was not reading.

Set in a superhero universe, where every town has its own villain and superhero*, Karma Girl is about Carmen Cole, and the fury of a woman scorned.

Once upon a time, Carmen was getting married and, concerned for the feelings of her husband-to-be, she went to speak with him before the ceremony. Unfortunately, she walked in on her fiancée and her best friend banging. To make matters worse, their spandex was revealed, showing her fiancée to be a superhero and her best friend to be the town’s villain and his nemesis. Carmen, journalist that she is, snapped some pictures and published them, unmasking her first heroes.

This is the start of the next part of Carmen’s life. She enters a town, unmasks their hero and villain, and moves on, leaving a path of destruction and confusion behind her. This continues until she reaches Bigtime, New York (i.e. Metropolis, New York City, Gotham City et al.) where the Fearless Five fight the Terrible Triad. Things happen, and there is a lot I cannot reveal without spoiling things. Suffice it to say that Carmen is definitely well behind the reader when it comes to realizing identities. Alliterative names are a dead giveaway, and a seeming joke on the genre.

So anyway, our heroes (the Fearless Five) are Striker, Tornado, Fiera (star of her own novel), Mr. Sage, and Hermit, all of whom have some backstory revealed. The villains (the Terrible Triad) are Malefica, Frost, and Scorpion, none of whom get any backstory revealed. Carmen gets forcibly yanked into the Triad’s long, drawn out, and horribly convoluted plot (perhaps the longest and most convoluted I have ever had to deal with). The “twist” is not a good one, as it is not very twist-y.

As far as the story goes, Carmen is a little too stubborn, a little too whiny, a little too obsessed with karma. She’s determined to sabotage herself, and is still bitter at her ex-fiancée three years later. She’s too determined to continue her pity party, even as it becomes increasingly obvious to everyone but her that the Love Interest is interested. Due to the genre, I won’t even bother expanding on this, except to say that it has far more stupid obstacles thrown in its way than are necessary. Carmen herself drags out the romance by being intentionally dense and denying everything obnoxiously. Striker himself is a sad analog of the badass misanthropic anti-hero who goes all mushy and soft on us very early on.

The thing which has doomed this book though, has really and truly made it take a nosedive is that attempted rape is the device upon which the romance hinges. She nearly gets raped, Striker saves her, he goes all mushy and interested, and she goes all “ooh you stopped them from raping me, now I’m going to jump your bones.” She’s really fucked up from this attempt for all of a day, and then she’s too busy being hot for Striker. Ugh.

The Quick Version:

Light, reasonably enjoyable, and vaguely resembling*** an actual superhero story. It attempts to make fun of the superhero genre, which might have been more successful had the author done a bit more research on her genre. Aside from the terrible romance plot device (see above), the book is alright. It scores a 3 out of 5. Mostly because if you set aside the whining and the angst and the poor-me and the stupid bits, you have a short story about a pretty kickass set of superheros.

Want to read it? Get it on Amazon or though Swaptree.

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*Like The Incredibles, or Soon I Will Be Invincible** this world has, and believes in superheros.

**I will review this one soon

*** I mean cut apart, mangled a bit, and sort of mashed back together.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy