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Monday, October 31, 2016

REVIEW: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Book 2 in the Illuminae Files continues with a sci-fi saga on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where readers meet two new characters who will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. Immersed in their lives among the space station, they are unaware that Kady Grant, Ezra Mason and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home not only from these deadly assault teams but also from vicious predators snacking on station residents.  Toss in a malfunctioning wormhole ripping the time/space continuum in two and readers are in for a treat!

“Her eyes shining with the light of it.
Beneath, between, beyond.
Along the endless circle.
Down the ceaseless spiral.
And waiting for her on the other side?
Just like he promised.
“A whole sky of different stars.” 
Gemina is another feast for the senses with the narrative told through a dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics. The print version is a visual wonderland thanks to the care given the narrative and layout by Kaufman and Kristoff as well as the absurdly awesome additional illustrations by Marie Lu. The complexity of plot and character development is astounding as is the projected voices of key players Hannah, Nik and Ella.  I was pleased when Katy, Ezra and ADIAN joined the game and can't wait to see what transpires for the third novel in 2017.

A quick addition - while the print is AMAZING, I can't speak highly enough about the full cast audio as well.  I own both and it was truly an experience to immerse myself not only in the text but also the stellar audio production.

Final rating: ALL THE STARS! 

Follow the authors on Twitter: @misterkristoff @AmieKaufman

#Gemina #Illuminae #YA #teen #audiobook #awesomeness

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

REVIEW: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Thor's hammer is missing again and Loki is up to his scheming plots of doom in Riordan's second entry to the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.  

Magnus and his friends learn that the hammer is not only missing but in enemy hands. They'll have to find it quickly or the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer's return is the gods' worst enemy, Loki--and the price he wants is very high. 

Back are Riordan's humor, sense of adventure and great characterization.  He remains one of the few authors for children and teens who adequately incorporates characters of diversity as major players within his stories.  Sameera inspires as a Muslim Valkyrie, Heart, positively promotes deaf culture and new character Alex is gender fluid.

One drawback for me was the rather disappointing audiobook.  Sword of Summer had been narrated by Christopher Guetig and was phenomenal with its pacing, pronunciations and general performance. However, The Hammer of Thor switches narrators to Kieran Culkin and he just misses the mark.  As a scholar and fan of Norse mythology, Culkin's pronunciations are incorrect and became distracting.

Overall, this is a solid entry for the series and sets up the great potential for another adventure with the 2017 release of the third book The Ship of the Dead.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

#HammerOfThor #MagnusChase #NorseMythology #YAlit #teen #humor #adventure

Sunday, October 16, 2016

REVIEW: Artemis, Wild Goddess of the Hunt (Olympians #9)

*Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair review*

Expected publication: January 31, 2017

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, finds power through her skilled hunting ability and mighty bow despite the fact that she was shunned (it's all Hera's fault) even before she was born and was destined to live a life of solitude (her choice since her mother was treated so poorly). 

She slays those who wish to do harm to the innocent and takes care of the young and helpless. She protects women and young girls, helps in childbirth, soothes, and is unrivaled in her hunting abilities. But a word of caution, do not cross her because her wrath is not to be taken lightly.

Author George O'Connor continues to artfully share his knowledge of Greek myth in another dynamic graphic novel representation.  The included myths are the platform of our understanding of Artemis and the illustrations only seek to enhance these classic stories.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @GeorgetheMighty

#artemis #graphicnovels #greekmythology #georgeoconnor #theolympians #yalit #teen

REVIEW: Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Aelin's journey toward queendom is far from over. The dark continues to rise and if she and those she hold most dear are to have any kind of a chance, Aelin will need to not only hone her magic but build an army of allies that Erilea has never seen before, many enemies who must now become allies.  Aelin struggles to keep those she loves safe; however, with war looming, she's discovered that a daring quest and long sought answers might ask for significant sacrifices. 

I can't speak highly enough about this fifth book of the series nor all the Throne of Glass books as a whole.  These take epic fantasy writing, world building and character development to a whole new level.  While still categorically YA, these books are speeding into the new adult and beyond genres.  I adore them but caution that they should be for a mature reader. They are violent and increasingly sexually explicit--not to be found in a school library.

Overall, the narrative was brilliant. I laughed. I gasped in delight at the excellent action sequences, the surprises, the revelations, the long awaited proclamations of love and attraction AND I cried myself to sleep when I finished the book........NO LIE!

I can't fathom having to wait an entire year for the next part of this story. I guess I will have to find solace in starting the series again from the beginning and waiting impatiently for the television series to make its debut on Hulu.

Final rating: ALL THE STARS!!

Follow the author on Twitter:  @SJMaas

#EmpireOfStorms #ThroneOfGlass #fantasy #YAlit #adventure #magic 

REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

After a few weeks, I'm still not sure I have to words for how wonderful Crooked Kingdom was to read and experience.

In Six of Crows, Kaz Brekker and his crew pulled off an epic heist that they never thought they'd survive. However, instead of celebrating their victory, they are once again fighting for the lives. Double crossed and virtually crippled by the kidnapping of a valued team member, the group is low on resources, allies and morale. As even more powerful forces arrive in Ketterdam to investigate the deadly drug jurda parem and its affect on the Grisha, new and old enemies test the team as a war brews.


Inej - is super awesome beyond measure! DO NOT MAKE HER MAD!

Kaz - oh, Kaz how I adore you!

Matthias - I need to go cry in a corner!

Nina - you're a bad ass but eek, easy with those new powers, girl!

Jesper - careful there, don't gamble your money or your heart!

Wylan - so adorable, great with the things that go boom and some added surprises!

I am delighted that this duology had such a stellar ending even if this phase of the story has to come to a close.  This rag-tag team of thieves, crooks, and misfits are fascinating as are their individuals stories past, present and future.

Bardugo doesn't disappoint for action, suspense or romance plus adding in plenty of questions for future writing explorations in this fictional world AND making me sob like a baby.

Perfect in nearly every way, I can't wait to pick up both novels and read them again and again.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

#CrookedKingdom #LeighBardugo #YAlit #teen #lovelovelove

REVIEW: Extraordinary October by Diana Wagman

October is an ordinary girl; that is until three days before her eighteenth birthday.  She has an itch that won't go away and can suddenly hear dogs talk and make crows fly.  If that wasn't extraordinary enough, two new and very handsome boys at school begin vying for her affections.

Soon October learns that she's far from ordinary and is in fact the daughter of a troll princess and fairy prince, and a pawn in a deadly war between the two factions.  October will have to use her new powers to save her family and stop a mysterious evil threatening the fairy world.

This is a charming read for Wagman's debut into YA fiction. I was delighted to get a sneak peak at the finished novel months ago and I am so happy that the publication launch has gone so well for such a talented writer who imbues the page with a unique vision and stellar characterization. And look!!! I'm a blurb on the back cover!!!!

My library is lucky enough to have Wagman visiting for a special writing workshop in November.  We're lucky to have her and it is going to be a great afternoon!

Follow the author on Twitter: @dianawagman  OR visit her website.

Click here to buy the book!

Monday, October 3, 2016

REVIEW: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling

What do these words mean and what impact will they have on a seemingly innocent senior field trip for Sera and her peers?

A hiking trip in the forest turns deadly when a flash flood separates the groups. Stranded, wet, and without means to communicate with the outside world, Sera and the others are determined that things will look brighter in the daylight; however, when it appears they've been drugged, their chaperone is out of commission and other ghastly occurrences begin happening, the terror rises and they just want answers and to be rescued.

Suddenly, it's clear they're being hunted but by what or who?

One Was Lost is an edge of your seat thriller for reader grades 9 and up.  There are plenty of thrills and chills plus mystery and some delicious romantic angst. Readers will be captivated from start to finish to find out the truth--with plenty of surprises along the way.

I was happy to read this as part of the Teen Scene prep for this year's Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, Ohio.  This is my first read by author, Natalie D. Richards but it won't be my last.

Final rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @NatDRichards

#OneWasLost #nataliedrichards #mystery #thriller #YAlit #teen #BooksByTheBanks