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review 2018-12-17 02:58
The Golden Tower (Book 5 - Magisterium series)
The Golden Tower - Holly Black,Cassandra Clare

Audience: Middle Grade

 

For the first time in Call's life, the house he had grown up in looked small.

- first sentence

 

I've missed the Magisterium; I didn't realize how much until I started reading this book. It has been a while, so I went to the Book Series Recaps website and read the summaries of the first four books. Call and his friends have been through a lot in the past 4 years, and the final year of magic school isn't any easier, in fact, it may be the toughest year yet.

 

Call is full of doubt and flaws; he wants to be good, but he has reason to doubt who he is at his very core. He questions his actions and decisions constantly, but his intentions are always good. He wants to protect his friends and the school, he wants the girl to like him, he wants to please his father and impress his teachers. He insists he isn't a hero, he is just left with no choice. But he never runs from danger, in fact, he seems to find it more than most.

 

In this final year at school, Call isn't the only one who doubts his intentions. Most of the other students fear and resent him and his connection to the Enemy of Death. Many of his friends aren't exactly his friends anymore. He feels alone, except for the voice in his head that is (I won't explain this because I don't want to spoil it).

 

This book is fantastic. My only complaint is that this is the final book in the series. I keep hoping the story might continue when Call and his friends go to the Collegium, but the summary refers to this as "the monumental conclusion to the Magisterium series," so it seems like I'm out of luck.

 

I highly recommend this book especially to grades 4-8.

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-12-17 01:06
Better than average
Blindsided - Gwen Hernandez

How could he not admire a woman who understood camouflage?"

 

A Marine scout sniper working now as a security expert and a hacker who has tried to go white hat from her childhood black hat days.

 

I loved this heroine, she was smart, not only in her computer abilities but understanding how the hero was better equipped to handle certain situations and listened to him. However, there wasn't a lot of that happening as she was the one who dictated a lot of the efforts to help them out of their bind. 

 

The gist of the story is that her employer has clients that hire them to find security leaks in their computer systems, except the employer is lying about the companies hiring them and takes the weaknesses the heroine gives him and uses it to steal information from the companies. The hero is hired by the employer in a set-up situation as he tells him he thinks the heroine is the one stealing from the companies but is really a big set-up to make it look like the hero is helping the heroine. 

 

I promise you, it makes sense in the beginning and you'll think the employer is an evil genius but the reader doesn't get much insight to the villain and the suspense side gets pushed to the side too much in the middle. Basically, the suspense side started off very strong but faded away and rushed at the end. 

 

This couple was great in that the hero and heroine meshed super well and it was understandable that such an accomplished guy like the hero would be a little rattled about how competent the heroine was and how her skills were more important in this situation, he gets rattled but he also found her hot because of this and I find him hot because of that. Along with the suspense side, I thought their romance stalled a little in the middle, even though the story slows to focus in on it more. I thought the middle meandered or slowed too much overall. 

 

I'm definitely going to find the other two in the series and read them as this author intrigued me with her suspense writing and different characteristics to her characters. 

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review 2018-12-17 00:24
Silver Silence (Psy/Changeling # 16 Psy/Changeling: Trinity #1) by Nalini Singh
Silver Silence: Psy-Changeling Trinity S... Silver Silence: Psy-Changeling Trinity Series, Book 1 - Nalini Singh,Angela Dawe,Orion Publishing Group Limited

Silver Marcant is the scion of the power, influential, Marcant family. She is also the assistant of Kaleb Krycheck, de facto leader of the Psy. She also runs the global emergency response network


She is a busy woman

 

She has little time for people trying to kill her, or big clumsy werebears trying to insert themselves into her life



This book marks the transition of the Psy/Changeling series into the new series, the Trinity era - and I really have to praise how excellently this has been structured, as I referred to in Allegiance of Honour the transition book in the series. That book excellently summed up where nearly everyone was in their lives, the position of the world and what would be the new conflict coming forwards. The overarching story of the last 15 books has been the fall of Silence

 

Silence is over. Silence is done, that chapter is closed and with Allegiance of Honour setting up the new foundation we have the new conflict: what happens now? Where is the world? Especially as it becomes apparent that the different races need to be more united than ever

 

Behold the Trinity - where Silence has fallen and the whole world has changed - and with it the whole tone of the series is much broader as well. The previous series felt more focused… we had a couple and the werewolf pack/psy group they were part of. And it was pretty much localised. Yes there was the fall of Silence, but largely the battle against Silence for most of the Psy characters for most of the books has been survival. Even the Arrows, the Shapeshifter packs, Devraj Santos’s hidden group, are all stories of survival (well and romance, obviously). Survival against the evils of Psy Society, against discovery and occasionally about their survival against their own exploding psy abilities. Yes society is changing in the background but that’s more a side effect of their quest for survival rather than a goal they’re actively pursuing until the last few books


And so now we have Trinity and I think branching a whole new series was the ideal way to do that and emphasise how the foundational theme of the series has changed. Trinity, forged from the Humans, Changelings and Psy to create a more hopeful, united future. And paradoxically, a more diverse one (in terms of factions): the Psy have somewhat broken or, rather, with the fall of the Council the divisions have become more relevant. We don’t have “the psy” we have the Arrows and the Empath Collective and the Nightsky group and Kaleb’s faction suddenly being more individually defined even as they work together. Or the shapeshifter packs who are distinct entities rather than the unity of the Wolves and Leopards. I think they’ve always been so divided but rarely were they all so involved in the close, personal focus of the previous books.

 

Which brings me to the excellent choice of Silver as the protagonist for this book - Silver Mercant so nicely bridges all of this and brings the new collective focus on several factions since she’s the head of the global emergency network while she herself is both perfectly aligned with Kaleb Krycheck while at the same time being a member of the powerful Mercant family which is allied with him but definitely not in his pocket. Silver represents the different factions being balanced but ultimately acting in unity that truly defines this new series. She’s an excellent choice of protagonist to herald in this new era


In addition she has all the qualities of Psy that are so powerful - powerful psychic abilities, cool collectiveness and a fierce, insightful competence that is impressive to behold. But she also has a deep vulnerability stemming from her powers - one that Silence saved her from, a nice and important reminder that Silence wasn’t imposed on a whim but because it was literally trying to save the Psy race and, if it is discarded, then there will be problems from that. I love Silver, she’s a microcosm of everything the new Trinity faces.


And then we have her love interest because it is a romance. And I’m kind of torn. I have said again and again over the last 15 books that I am not a fan of these repeated shapeshifter males poking distant Psy women, crossing their boundaries, pushing touches on them, invading their homes, bypassing her security and generally ignoring everything she wants until she gives in

 

 

Read More

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/12/silver-silence-psychangeling-16.html
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review 2018-12-17 00:14
The Mane Squeeze (Pride #4) by Shelly Laurenston
The Mane Squeeze (The Pride Series) - Shelly Laurenston

Bears!

 

Werebears! Why do we have so few shapeshifter books about werebears? We need more werebears!

 

Big clumsy snuffling, curious werebears that just want to know how things work and then end up breaking them because they’re just big, hulking, strong goofy people who are just adorable!

 

And all the bears want is plenty of honey and salmon and sleeping a nice long time all in peace without the other shapeshifting species getting in the way.

 

While those other shapeshifting species view them as massive engines of destruction to be poked at your own risk. And I think that’s a nice element; I mean we have big scary wolves and lions but when it comes down to it, a grizzly bear is a grizzly bear and every other predator is better off leaving it alone.

 

So we have Lock, our big, sexy, lumbering bear with his ice cream and honey and nice long sleep in and his quietly perfectionist carpentry, being generally exasperated by the manic antics of all the other shapeshifters around him. Oh and he knows that lions, tigers or bears, a Philly girl is apparently scarier than anything else, which amuses me muchly.

 

And those antics include the Wild Dogs which may still be my favourite shifters in this series because they’re goofy and silly and they have fun and they play and they chase their tails but are still probably more united and more serious and even more dangerous than the other packs. I love their whackiness, their geekiness, their squabbles and how they leave the poor bears thoroughly thoroughly confused by all that energy, random weirdness and big tearful eyes if they need to get there.

 

And I like Gwen and her story - I like her struggles for independence in the face of her mother’s plan for her - and her brother’s interference. I like that, even though she has the skills and knowledge to follow in her mother’s footsteps, she’s pursuing something else she wants to do. She faces a lot of discrimination because she’s a hybrid - a child of two different shapeshifters: She’s a Tigron, half tiger half lion. I think more could have been made of her Tigron nature and what it means - same as her best friend Blayne who is part wolf part wild dog. But I think it’s interesting that they didn’t emphasise any supernatural difference: because it’s not necessary or even accurate - and instead focused on how they were treated differently. A lot of supernatural prejudice involves a group facing discrimination but it turns out that, yeah, there’s a good reason for that. This managed to emphasise both the direct hatred they faced AND the subtle, not-feeling-welcome feeling that Gwen’s family gave her felt more real.

 

Gwen and Blayne have a great mutually supportive relationship covering their mutual plumbing business (which is excellent) through to calling each other out on their ridiculousness, through to roller derby. They work really well together and have an excellent us-two-against-the-world vibe.

 

 

Read More

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2018/11/the-mane-squeeze-pride-4-by-shelly.html
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review 2018-12-16 04:52
The Belles - audiobook
The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton,Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

Audience: Young Adult

 

We all turned sixteen today, and for any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps and pink champagne and card games. Maybe even a teacup elephant.

- opening lines

 

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In this world, Belles control Beauty and Beauty is a commodity. People are born gray and will pay anything to be transformed. The society is fixated on Beauty - there are even rules to prevent people from going to extremes. For example, a Belle cannot make your proportions so outrageous that they don't look like the natural human form. Camellia (and the other Belles) wants to be the favorite and live in the palace. But, in this world, nothing is as it seems and danger and betrayal are everywhere.

 

So, I think this book was trying to make a statement about how much our society reveres beauty. And how dangerous this could be when taken to the extreme. There are many issues tackled in this book including gender equality, male privilege, the way woman warp their bodies to be "perfect," and the idea that beauty is not just what we see on the outside. It does a good job of raising the issues without seeming preachy.

 

Camellia is fixated on being the Favorite and being the best and she can't handle the idea of failing. But she is naive and doesn't see what is happening around her - the deception and danger. I found the evil character to be very obvious and couldn't believe that Camellia wouldn't see right through her. She often walked right into a trap that a blind person would have seen coming.

 

The world is interesting with the teacup size elephants, giraffes, and dragons. But some of the descriptions are a bit much and I found it distracting. When describing a scene or a place, the author used a lot of imagery and flowery language - too much really. It stood out to me and it shouldn't - I should be able to picture the scene in my head without thinking about how many similes or metaphors the author is using.

 

The audio was very well done. I enjoyed the narrator's accent. I read the first couple of pages on the Amazon preview and I was glad I listened to the audio. There are many words that are hard to figure out how to pronounce. Not having to think about that allowed me to enjoy the story more. 

 

I did enjoy the story and when the ending was more than a bit of a cliffhanger, I was looking for the next book in the series. It doesn't come out until some time next year. If it had been available when I finished this book I probably would have read it, but I don't know if I will still be as interested when it finally comes out.

 

I borrowed the audio from my local library. The book is a Florida Teens Read program nominated book for 2018-19.

 

 

 

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