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Thursday, January 28, 2016

REVIEW: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

The first in a series, Under the Never Sky is a futuristic twist on post apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Aria has spent her entire life in Reverie, one of several enclosed pod communities where remaining humans are kept 'safe' from the dangerous outer wasteland filled with savage cannibals and deadly electrified energy storms. Taught that even the outside air could kill her, Aria is devastated when she learns her entire world is a lie. Exiled from home, she meets an Outsider, Perry, and quickly accepts he is her only chance for survival.

Perry is a hunter for his tribe despite the earth's bleak landscape. He, like some other Outsiders, possesses an inherited gift which enhances the senses--his sense of smell--a keen enhancement in such dangerous terrain.  Perry views Aria as troublesome and fragile but also as a valuable asset as he seeks to find his nephew, kidnapped and held captive in Aria's former home.  These two must form an alliance that blossoms into more if they hope to learn the truth and change their fates.

This is one of those YA series that I've eyed for several years but never had the chance to read. Overall, for me this was just a so-so read.  I have no major complaints; however, this particular book blends into the sea of similar post apocalyptic/dystopian titles that flooded the market over the past several years.  There is good world building, character development and dialogue.  While Aria starts off a bit doe eyed and naive, she adapts and grows throughout the book.  The same can be said of Perry as he learns to broaden his horizons concerning Dwellers and the role he must play for the future of his tribe.

Even though I'm not powerfully enamoured with the series as an immediate must-read, I am intrigued enough to continue on with the series.  I'd like to get more answers to the main plot arc and see secondary characters (i.e. Roar and Liv) get some resolution to their story.  I did listen to this on audio as narrated by Bernadette Flagler who does a nice job; however, I wasn't bowled over by the performance as I am with some of the more dynamic audiobook productions.

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

#undertheneversky #veronicarossi #dystopian #futuristic #YAlit #teen #books

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars is one of those books that's difficult to summarize since there is so much happening.  Cadence Sinclair is from a weathly family.  Each summer, she and her relatives travel to their own private island near Martha's Vineyard, where each distinct family has their own houses (subject of much turmoil and sibling rivalry).  This novel centers around Cadence and "The Liars" - a group whose frienship turns destructive. When a mysterious accident leaves Cadence with both physical and mental scars, she finds herself alone and immersed in lies. Two years later, she returns to the island seeking truth but the revelations she encounteers are earth shattering. This is a book where talking too much about what happens would be a major spoiler.  Safe to say there's mystery, tragedy, romance and heartache.

Lockhart's novel is our February 2016 Young @Heart book club pick. I'd always heard a lot about it and the amazing twist at the end; however, it has been one of the many on my 'to-read' list.  I loved it. It is thrilling and face paced. I enjoyed the smart dialogue and the interesting characters.  What I loved most was the interactive experience of trying to piece together the truth right along with Cadence.

Overall, this a compelling novel with appeal to a wide rage of audiences. I'd definitely recommend this for a more mature teen but there is significant adult appeal. Also, if someone is a reluctant reader, this might be a good choice since of the pace, smart dialogue and intrigue.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @elockhart

#wewereliars #YAlit #teen #fiction #review #whatimreading #books #elockhart

PROGRAM: DIY Picture Frames

The lastest Crafty Creations theme was DIY Picture Frames. This was a fun and easy craft project suitable for many ages although ours was limited to ages 12-18.  

  • Plain wood picture frames. (I inherited some leftover from another program but ours basically looked like these.) These frames are generally sold in packs of 12 for around $15 but I have seen larger packages with 50 frames for about $70.
  • Craft supplies (use anything you've got and let teens use their imaginations)
    • Sharpies
    • Glitter
    • Googlie eyes
    • Buttons
    • Pom poms
    • Duct tape
    • Ribbon
    • Sequins
    • White glue
    • Hot glue gun & glue sticks
Other Recommendations:
  • I recommend that this be a registered program with limited spacing available.  I had 12 frames so that was my limit and I had to stick to it.
  • Try to be as organized as possible:  
    • Pass out the frames
    • Have all decorating supplies in one area where participants can go to browse for what the want
    • Have a glue gun station (with proper supervision) - we had two out but I recommend more if you have them

Teen Creations - enjoy these pics of what teens made!

#teen #program #library #teenservices #DIY #crafts

REVIEW: Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine

*Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Expected publication: March 1, 2016

I've always loved the series tagline:  WELCOME TO MORGANVILLE, YOU'LL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE.

If you're a fan of the series then you know that want to leave and allowed to leave Morganville are two entirely different things.  Midnight Bites is a new anthology collection including six new stories. 

Readers are in store for an exciting collection of tales highlighting that Morganville is not an average college town.  These stories give us a comprehensive look at the series, supporting the novels and also providing glimpses into the past and future of these beloved characters. What I enjoyed most were that many of these were from the POV of those who didn't always get a primary voice during the main series run.  Standout stories for me were:

Myrnin's Tale - Myrnin's origin story plus some other background into harsh experiences which shaped his troubled mental state as well as his first encounters with Lady Grey aka Jesse.

Sam's Story - Sam's story as human who falls for Amelie and how a choice to protect her drastically changed his future and that of the Glass family.

Grudge - The death of Alyssa, Shane's younger sister, is such a driving force for his anger and the series.  This story is how this all plays out in the past.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life - Eve Rosser turns eighteen and is targets following her refusal to sign a Protector contract.  I liked this story since its gives readers a look at how she ended up rooming with Michael at Glass House and previews Michael's predicament evident in the first part of the series.

All Hallows - A great Halloween story featuring Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve. 

Anger Management - I loved this one for its insight into Shane and his character.  

And One For the Devil - This is primarily a Myrnin and Claire story with guest spots from Eve and Shane.  I enjoyed this on for its twist on plausible futures and because it was super creepy.  Another highlight is that it takes place after Daylighters so we get to see Claire and Shane married for a year and pretty happy.

Overall, this is a solid collection with appeal to series fans. Some stories were certainly stronger than others; however, it is nice to have these all in one place and with a few new entries.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

#MidnightBites #Morganville #RachelCaine #anthology #vampires #YAlit

Friday, January 22, 2016

REVIEW: Daylighters by Rachel Caine

“But if these past years in Morganville have taught me anything, it's that sometimes you have to just . . . jump. It's not safe. It's never safe. But sometimes you have to live dangerously.” 

Daylighters is the final book in Caine's bestselling Morganville Vampires series.  Claire and crew have returned home to a vastly different Morganville.  With the Daylighter Foundation taking over, the humans are in charge for the first time and remarkable improvements have been made to local homes and businesses. Unfortunately, all the vampires (even the friendly ones) have been imprisoned and forced into deadly experiments by Daylighter leader, Fallon, who claims to have a cure for vampirism.  Great news for some, if they can survive the process. Plus, others have unwillingly been turned into vampire hunting hell-hounds and if that wasn't enough, the Daylighters are hellbent on tearing down Glass House.

This final book has everything readers could want. There's great characters and a compelling story plus plenty of action, romance and some surprising twists.  Fans of the series won't be disappointed. I'll admit to being worried a few times but Claire, Shane, Eve, and Michael plus the other beloved good guys and even our favorite villains have proven more than once that they can handle even the most impossible situations.

It is bittersweet to finish this series after all this time.  I don't own many YA series from start to finish but I do these since I love them so much.  I'm excited to have an advanced copy of the short story anthology, Midnight Bites, to read and review before I say goodbye to these characters.

If you've never had the chance to pick these up, I can't recommend them enough.  Caine is a fantastic series writer.  I've always been impressed with the character development and overall concept.  I fondly remember speeding through the first part of the series because the cliffhangers were so incredible. I'll leave you with my favorite Daylighters quote and possible my favorite of the series:

(Chief Hannah Moses to Mrs. Grant)
"You must be Mrs. Grant."
"Heard of me?"
"You left an impression. You may be the first combat librarian I've ever met.
That earned an almost-full smile from the other woman. "I think most librarians are combat qualified," she said. "It's not as peaceful a job as it looks." 

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

#Morganville #vampires #Daylighters #YAlit #teen #whatimreading #review

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

REVIEW: Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

In 1938, a German chemist made a surprising discovery, that atoms split when placed next to radioactive material. Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin, explores how this discovery launched the scientific race which spanned three continents and forever changed the face of weapon capability and warfare.

This title is more than deserving of its accolades.  Bomb was a 2012 finalist for the National Book Awards in Young People's Literature as well as the 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Book of the Year. It also received a 2013 Newbery Honor.

What I found most profound about this book was its writing style.  Typically, non-fiction titles for any age can steer toward dry and boring prose.  However, Sheinkin presents the events is an accessible, fast paced and compelling narrative format. The story-like quality has readers clamouring for more as they seek to discover the conclusion to all the plotting, risk-taking and deceit. This really is an intriguing read for grades 5 thru adult. I recommend the print book but also enjoyed the audiobook narrated by Roy Samuelson.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

#YAlit #nonfiction #history #science #WWII #warfare

Monday, January 18, 2016

REVIEW: Fall of Night by Rachel Caine

Fall of Night is book 14 of Caine's YA Morganville Vampires series. Claire has decided to leave Morganville to study at MIT following the events of Bitter Blood. She's unsure if her relationship with Shane will last if he can't trust her. The love is there but it takes work. Claire has the opportunity to study with scientist, Dr. Anderson, who has past connections to Morganville. Her new mentor is very interested in VLAD, a device Claire has designed with the capability to neutralize vampire agression. However, the opportunity to live out her dream isn't as wonderful as she'd hoped it would be. Claire misses Shane, Michael and Eve, is unhappy with her new roommate and rather alarmed when some shady characters are all too interested in her invention.

Unbeknownst to Claire, Shane is shadowing her in Boston, partly to ensure her safety and also because he hopes her longing to be together is as strong as his. When Claire's new roommate, Liz, is kidnapped, she learns Shane is in town.  They band together with the help of some surprise visitors (Oliver, Myrnin, Michael and Eve) to track down Liz but not before more problems arise.

This is a solid, if rather angsty, addition to the series.  I'm behind with finishing these last two books; however, since Midnight Bites, a collection of Morganville short stories is slated for release in early 2016, I thought I'd work to catch up.  I always enjoyed these books.  The characters are well written and the world building and story arcs are generally compelling.  These do not move well at our public library any longer since the teen vampire fiction trend has waned.  Nonetheless, I still recommend these quite frequently.

I was glad when Claire and Shane have seemed to work it out.  Caine incorporates great twists, especially at the end.  I'm sure there will be some fallout in Daylighters concerning the events of this book.  I certainly wasn't expecting that ending!

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

#Morganville #FallOfNight #YAlit #vampires #whatimreading #romance #mystery

REVIEW: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Expected publication: February 23, 2016

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a review of Firstlife by Gena Showalter.  This is a my first attempt at a word cloud review but I think I hit the high points regarding the narrative. All Tenley "Ten" Lockwood, a seventeen year old girl, wants is a choice--the chance to choose which faction, Myriad or Troika, she'll sign with when her Firstlife is over but her parents have other plans.

Tortured in Prynne Asylum, Ten remains stubborn regarding her refusal to sign. Showalter weaves a face paced yet rather complicated story where the protagonist must face harsh situations and weigh who she can trust, namely Killian (the hot badboy from Myriad, or Archer, a friend/guardian from Troika). This is an inventive and still enjoyable read for not only Showalter fans but also readers who are looking for unique science fiction. The world building was adequate but I felt as if there was a fragmented quality to some of the transitions.  Tenley's attitude is a bit irritating at times and some of the other characters could have more depth. 

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @genashowalter

#Firstlife #YAlit #teen #GenaShowalter #Everlife #teen #whatimreading

Friday, January 15, 2016

REVIEW: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

“No mourners. No funerals.” 
Ketterdam is a bustling epicenter of trade and just about anything can be obtained for the right price. A new drug has emerged, which heightens Grisha abilities but brings with it deadly implications and addictions. Enter Kaz Brekker, criminal prodigy, who gets the chance at a deadly heist to acquire the scientist responsible for this drug formula. The payout is unbelievable; too bad he's held prisoner in the impenetrable Fjerdan Ice Court.  Too pull this off, Kaz assembles a ragtag team, each with a specific skillset and fascinating backstories that will have readers of any age burning through pages. Here's the team:

Kaz - criminal prodigy and thief known as Dirtyhands. He has an uncanny gift for unlikely escapes.  Kaz is as charismatic as he is tortured by his past and dead set on rising to power and influence to enact vengeance against those who've wronged him. He's intelligent, shrewd, shady and complicated but also capable of emotion. I loved this quote:

“I'm a business man," he'd told her. "No more, no less."
"You're a thief, Kaz."
"Isn't that what I just said?”

I can't wait to read more about him in the next book!

Inej - known as the Wraith, she is a spy, capable of slipping in to discover people's darkest secrets. She has a troubled past too--sold into slavery at a brothel until her debt was paid by Kaz's associate. Inej can scale buildings as stealthily as a cat. Fierce, strong and independent, I loved her character and the interesting relationship she has with Kaz. I hope they can get to a good place where each can be happy.  Her quote at the end, “I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all", just wrecked me!

Nina - is a powerful Grisha, a heartrender. She's capable of killing or disabling an enemy with a flick of her wrist but she's also caring and has a useful skill set for this mission.  Her desire to return home to Ravka is strong but so is her determination to remain in Ketterdam to set right a wrong. I loved Nina. She's strong and independent like Inej but a whole lot funnier. Her relationship with Matthias is pretty epic. I swooned over comments like: “If we make it out of here alive, I’m going to kiss you unconscious.” I'm sure there are profound implications for Nina and the events of this book's ending.   I found her scenes exploring the systematic eradication of the Grisha by the Fjerdans compelling due to the echoing emotions and themes regarding the Holocaust and concentration camps.

Matthias - is a convict and one time Fjerdan Druskelle. The former military witch hunter is hellbent on revenge for his wrongful imprisonment.  The only problem is he's in love with her too. Matthias is harsh and unpredictable but capable of tenderness. Bardugo's writing of this character is stellar in how his beliefs and notions of loyalty change throughout the story. You want to talk about epic starcrossed lovers? Matthias and Nina are it.  This quote:  I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath"---my heart hurts! xoxox

Jesper  - is the wise cracking sharpshooter with a gambling problem and another juicy secret. This secret gives them a huge advantage during the heist. He's got a great sense of humor and I had to chuckle when he drops lines like, "Well, we've managed to get ourselves locked into the most secure prison in the world. We're either geniuses or the dumbest sons of bitches to ever breathe air.”  I like Jesper and am intrigued where the journey will take him.  Bardugo is working a few angles here and I want to see how these notions transpire down the road.  Jesper and Wylan make a good team and Bardugo's writing is building on that.

Wylan - lastly we have the runaway. Wylan has grown up privileged but he has his own dark secrets which come to light toward the end of the book. He's not familiar with this life of crime and danger but other skills such as demolition, art and having been to the Ice Court before make him a valuable member of the crew. And as Kaz recounts, “You're passable at demo. You're excellent at hostage.”  More than once Wylan proves his worth but Kaz is Kaz and uses Wylan as a bargaining chip should the heist go sideways.

I can't recommend this highly enough. I adored Bardugo's Grisha trilogy. The blend of fantasy steeped with Russian influence makes for astounding world building. The premise, mythology, and folklore additions make for a unique experience with just a dash of Heist Society and Ocean's Eleven. As a reader, I get so immersed in her descriptions I don't want to leave this beautifully described world. The author has a gift for creating memorable characters that illustrate depth beyond those typically found in YA fiction. I want more of this motley crew! I finished this book desperate for more and rather panicked that I have to wait until late 2016 for the follow up.  True to form, I bet the wait is worth it.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a must read. I'll leave you with a little more Kaz:

“I’m going to get my money, Kaz vowed. And I’m going to get my girl.”

(gosh, I <3 him!) And, did I mention what a beautiful book this is in print? Go get your hands on it and give is a looksie! It is a piece of art with its cover, black edged pages, red inner lining and the attention to every detail about the visage of the reading experience. Well done Henry Holt & Company, well done!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @LBardugo or check out her awesome website!

#Grisha #SixOfCrows #Dregs #LeighBardugo #heist #whatimreading #YAlit #teen #fantasy

Saturday, January 9, 2016

REVIEW: The Arcana Chronicles (1-3) by Kresley Cole

Evangeline "Evie" Greene has lived a charmed life; well, except for the debilitating hallucinations which left her institutionalized over the summer, a fact which none of her friends or boyfriend know. After an apocalyptic event decimates Louisiana and the known world, Evie learns that her hallucinations are real and is as desperate for answers as she is for survival.  When fate leads her to hunky but wrong-side-of-the-bayou, Jackson Deveaux, Evie has to decide if she can trust him to protect her and aid her in her quest to find her grandmother.

This first book was intriguing since the true story behind the apocalypse, Evie's visions and how it all fits together remained a mystery until nearly the end.  Readers learn with Evie that she's one of the "Arcana characters" depicted on the tarot deck destined to play out a game where Arcana battle amongst themselves to win.  Evie is the Empress with powers to control and manipulate plants and poisons. She has a lot to learn if she is going to survive the game, master her powers and figure out just who she can trust in this battle between good and evil.

Overall, I liked Poison Princess as the first in a series.  Known for super steamy adult romances, Cole certainly pushes the envelope with her depiction of teenage angst and romance--so I'd definitely recommend this for more mature YA readers. The concept is creative and in general I like the characters but don't love Evie.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Endless Knight is book 2 of the series. Evie has claimed the title of Tarot Empress and Jack was there to see it all. She's horrified that she's lost him forever now that he's learned the truth. Evie's relationship trials are the least of her problems since she now has to put her trust in a new Alliance with other Arcana members plus avoid zombie Bagmen, cannibals and deadly storms.

Enter Death, a powerful Arcana with whom Evie learns she has a complicated history. Despite her feelings for Jack, she feels drawn to the deadly Endless Knight. Events are set in motion that will change not only change the game but test relationships and alliances.

Overall, I didn't not like Endless Knight as much as the first book. I missed the dynamic of Evie and Jack on their own.  The addition of so many new characters makes it feel as if the narrative loses focus.  While I understand the need to introduce Death and the subsequent love triangle, I grew bored with this aspect of the plot and just wasn't all that invested. Sure Death is gorgeous, deadly and immortal but he's also kinda creepy and quite literally holding Evie prisoner. Not cool.

My same general warning applies for this book--recommended for a mature YA reader. Significant steamy sexual encounters not appropriate for younger readers.  In general, there is also a high violence level.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In book 3, Evie has escaped Death's castle and is traveling to reunite with Jack and her other "friends" in her Arcana alliance. She learns that Jack has been captured by "The Lovers", perverse Arcana twins know for their heinous torture. Just when they believe they've defeated another enemy, Evie and the others realize that there is a much bigger picture.  In order to survive, she, Jack and Death will have to work together.

The larger question for this book is whether Evie will choose Jack or Death.  She's in love with Jack but her past lives pull her toward Death as well. When Evie does make a choice it seems as if she and her beloved will have a sweet reunion; however, a new enemy arrives with devastating force. Readers will have to pick up book 4 to learn their fate.

All in all, I was vastly disappointed in Dead of Winter. While Evie had been tolerable in the previous books, I found her incredibly irritating. She's indecisive and whiny which I can't stand. The love triangle notwithstanding, the plot felt fragmented and I just couldn't engage. I think I'd like it more if there were altering POV with Evie, Jack and Death. Despite my disappointment, the ending was enough of a cliffhanger that I will read the next book.

Final rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

#ArcanaChronicles #PoisonPrincess #EndlessKnight #DeadOfWinter #YAlit #tarot #teen

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

REVIEW: The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells

Partials is the first book of the Partials Sequence series by Dan Wells.  A take on apocalyptic dystopian fiction, this novel chronicles the state of the world eleven years after the fact. Nearly the entire human population has been wiped out. Survivors live in a small community on Long Island. What's worse is that a deadly plague continues to kill every infant born with the youngest of the 'plague babies' (those who were toddlers at the brink of the apocalypse) now turning 14.

Kira Walker, 16, is a trained medical technician determined to find a cure for RMS--that is if she can do so before it become mandatory for teens at young as her to become pregnant. Discovering that Partials--a bioengineered group of super soldiers, holds the key to the cure, Kira and a few select allies attempt to capture one of these highly trained soldiers in her search for a cure.  Little does she know that this quest will unlock secrets not only concerning the world ending war but also everything Kira ever knew about her past.

I enjoyed this book.  There is a graceful depth to this complicated world building with equally compelling characters.  Wells hasn't skimped on the details of this broken society.  These survivors truly are in dire straights, as are the Partials, when Kira learns that they too are on the verge of extinction.  This is a unique perspective within the oversaturated dystopian market that I would definitely recommend to readers who enjoy the genre or who want a well written and though provoking series.

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Fragments is this series' second installment.  Having learned some startling truths about her past, Kira has left everything and everyone she's ever known to scour the 'mainland' for answers concerning her lineage and her father's role in the company that ended the world. This search spans the entire continent as Kira joins forces with several unlikely allies.

This novel features parallel storylines as Marcus--Kira's best friend and one of her romantic options--endeavors on his own mission to take a stand and help his people.  This change in POV makes him much more interesting during this phase of the series.

Overall, the addition of these plots and perspective shifts enhance the world building and character development begun in the first book. Samm develops more personality the longer he stays with Kira and Heron is a really interesting character.  Readers' hearts will break for Afa--what he's been through and his fate. I know others have remarked that they thought this book was also a bit slow in pacing; however, I was more engaged by this novel than the previous one.

Final rating 4 out of 5 stars

Ruins is the final book in the series. Having voluntarily sacrificed herself as Doctor Morgan's guinea pig, Kira hopes that the answers for curing both RM and Partial extinction lie in her DNA. Unfortunately, she is not the answer; however, Kira deduces that the cure for both actually lies in these two factions living harmoniously with each other--the cure for one is the cure for the other. She sets out to find other Partial groups in an attempt to broker a truce and foster agreement toward working together for a common good. However, she meets resistance and some scary characters.

There's a lot going on in this book besides Kira's quest:

Wells continues the parallel storytelling of the previous book. Samm and Heron remained in Denver with the human settlement--they too discover that the cures long sought are mutually exclusive. Wishing to share the discovery, the head east to Long Island.  Marcus and his crew are trying to divert a nuclear attack; whereas Ariel and Kira's other adoptive sisters journey toward a scientific lab that may save the life of an infant infected with a deadly disease.

Did I mention that winter is back for the first time in nearly 13 years? Yeah, its a bit like Game of Thrones.

This final installment was a bit of a letdown for me as a reader. While the romantic element of the series has been subtle throughout, I didn't care for Kira's indecision and felt as if the ending was a rather forced. In general,  I had high hopes for Ruins, especially since I'd enjoyed the others so much. However, this book just dragged on and on. I was waiting for an epic conclusion but the ending seemed far too rushed for a book that the general pacing was so slow. There is a general thematic lesson that the author wishes readers to acknowledge--that a peaceful coexistence is the only way to repair the ills of the world. When I got to the last page I actually said aloud, "That's it?" I was left wanting more finality or at least an epilogue.

Final rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

#Partials #YAlit #teen #dystopian #science #DanWells

Monday, January 4, 2016

Blogging for ALA's OIF Blog!!

I'm thrilled to share that I'm a contributing blogger to ALA's Intellectual Freedom Blog for 2016.  My first post is up this week regarding libraries and censorship.  I explored the debate and its connection to the recent ruling to keep Gayle Forman's Just One Day in Rosemount Apple Valley Eagan schools, a district in suburban Minnesota.

Find my post here!

@OIF #IntellectualFreedom #JustOneDay #ALA

Saturday, January 2, 2016

REVIEW: The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa

**I won this book on Goodreads! A huge thanks to Harlequin Teen and author, Julie Kagawa, for making that happen!**

The Iron Warrior is the final book of the Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten series, a continuation of Kagawa's Iron Fey series. When last readers saw Ethan Chase, we feared him dead, slain by his nephew--the Iron Prince, Kerirran.  A month has passed and by some miracle Ethan has survived.  He must set out on a new quest to save all of Faerie,the human world and most importantly, Keirran.

This journey takes him as well as fan favorites--Kenzie, Ethan's love and iron gremlin, Razor deep into the heart of Faerie on a quest to find Annwyl, Keirran's ill-fated love for who he sacrificed he soul to save with dire consequences. Finding Annwyl is the easy part since they then have to convince Keirran to destroy the amulet, keeping her alive, of his own free will in order to reclaim his soul and to sway his allegiances away from the Forgotten Queen before she permanently drops the Veil between Faerie and the human world. (Got all that? Ok, moving on...) Along the way they get help from some unlikely allies, most notably the Thin Man, Grimalkin and the Wolf.

I loved this book and the whole series too much to spoil it for readers. Safe to say the character development and adventure fans have come to expect from Kagawa are present. There's a fantastic blend of storytelling with humor and romance. Ethan finds a way to channel and dispel much of his rage and negativity toward the Fae, especially Ash now that he understands his sister's choice to stay in Faerie as the Iron Queen.

My favorite characters remain those who support the protagonists and and how they move the story along. I adore Razor. His little one liners make me laugh out loud every time.  "Evil, bad kitty!"  I'm also a sucker for Grimalkin, since his first appearance in Iron King way back when.  His demeanor exudes my favorite attributes of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.

Kagawa remains one of my top 5 YA fantasy/sci-fi writers.  I always say a mere sentence of hers is worth far more than paragraph upon paragraph of other authors' writing.  There is an attention to detail that appears effortless but draws the reader in fully, spinning glorious tales of adventure, romance and woe. Her book boyfriends are some of the most swoon worthy around.  I don't think I'll ever not gush over Ash. He's just that perfectly awesome.

If you've never read any of the series, what are you waiting for???  Go forth and read! I also highly recommend the audiobooks. Iron King, Iron Daughter, Iron Queen and the short stories from Meghan Chase's POV all read by Khristine Hvam; Iron Knight narrated by the ever fabulous MacLeod Andrews and The Lost Prince, The Iron Traitor,  and The Iron Warrior all read by Jake Lewis.

I've read other reviews that expressed shock and dismay concerning one particular main character's fate.  I'll agree that I wanted more from this outcome; however, I am holding out that the day will come for readers to get a more satisfying conclusion.  While Kagawa touts that this is the final conclusion to the series, I hope she revisits these characters in the future with, if not another series, possibly a set of short stories where everyone finds redemption and a happily ever after.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @JKagawa

#IronFey #JulieKagawa #TheIronWarrior #YAlit #fantasy #books #whatimreading