06 June 2016

Leah Westfall: Goldscryer

Goldscryer by Rae Carson:
1. Walk on Earth a Stranger.
2. Like a River Glorious. (8.2016)

Strength Rating: 4
Recommended: 4

Leah Westfall, 15, lives with her parents in Dalhonega, Georgia. She helps her father work the land, search for gold and hunt for their food. While most of the jobs she does are not what the other girls in town would do, she is happy with her family - and her best friend Jefferson McCauley.

Before school, Jefferson comes up to her with a flyer. Gold has been discovered in California - enough gold to report across the nation. And Jefferson wants to go make his fortune. He lives with his father who is more concerned with drinking than raising a son. Jeff has been keeping the homestead and finding them food, but wants to strike out on his own.

When Leah's parents are murdered, there is nothing keeping her in town. Nothing except an uncle who hints that he has uses for her. He is the only one left who knows that she can feel the gold in the ground. Leah gets a bad feeling from him and plans her escape. If she can catch up to Jefferson by Independence, Missouri the will travel together.

Carson has written a novel that feels a bit like the Grapes of Wrath, but set in an earlier time period. Leah's magic plays little role in the first book in the series, but will likely come more into play if she reaches California. In the mean time, this is a great historical novel of a time of change in American history when thousands of people headed west toward a vague promise of gold.

29 May 2016

Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama: Custard Protocol

Custard Protocol by Gail Carriager:
1. Prudence.
2. Imprudence. (7.2016)

The Custard Protocol is the third series by Gail Carriger set in the same alternate history world. Chronologically, the first series is The Finishing School, followed twenty years later by The Parasol Protectorate, then another twenty years before The Custard Protocol.

Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, aka Rue, has three of the most influential parents in London. Her blood parents are a werewolf and a preternatural who both work for the Queen. Her adoptive father, raised by him for political and security reasons, is a rove vampire and also works for the Queen. Together, the three of them plus the greater werewolf pack and vampire drones, raised Rue to be a self-sufficient, strong young woman.

When Rue is gifted a dirigible by her father, Lord Akeldama, she immediately sets about setting up a crew to set sail for India. Dama is sending her to explore a new tea that could become all the rage in London. Joined by her best friend, Primrose Tunstell, her brother Percy Tunstell and Quesnel Lafoux, Rue is planning a one to two month float. What she does not know is that Dama has other plans for her along the way. Plans she may have been told if they had not unexpectedly left a full day early.

Filled with beloved characters from her previous series, and introducing the next generation, Carriger has begun another wonderful series. While it is difficult to pinpoint one favorite book, her Parasol Protectorate, Finishing School and now Custard Protocol series are definitely up there on the list of the most fun I have had reading. Carrigers books are creative and delightful. If you have not yet been introduced, start reading them today!

21 May 2016

Thorn Bathu: The Shattered Sea

The Shattered Sea by Joe Abercrombie:
1. Half a King.
2. Half the World.
3. Half a War.

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 4

Thorn Bathu is one test away from becoming a warrior. Each year of study runs more girls out of the program until she is the last one. Now Thorn is the last. But something goes wrong during her last fight and a classmate is killed. Her teacher, who never wanted to pass her, accuses her of murder.

Thorn is introduced in book two of the series. Book one's main character is Prince Yarvi. 

14 May 2016

Safiya fon Hastrel and Iseult: Witchlands

Witchlands by Susan Dennard:
1. Truthwitch.
2. Windwitch. (1.2017)

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 5

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is the first book in her Witchlands series set in a world ruled by three empires that have been at war for centuries and are now almost to the end of a twenty year truce.

Safiya and Iseult are Threadsisters, their fates and emotions tied together through an earlier act that sealed their friendship. Now they do everything together - even though they are from very different backgrounds.

Safiya fon Hasstrel is a Domna (lady) of Cartorra. She has been raised to take her place in the courts with the other high born. Safi is a truthwitch - she knows when someone is telling the truth or lying. It is a rare witchery and could be used for political gain if she was found out.

Iseult is from despised people, the Nomatsi, who are wanderers. Her looks cause much prejudice in people. As a threadwitch she can see the threads coming from people, the threads that tie communities together - often made up of emotions. She can see the mindset of a crowd or if someone is scared or angry.

As the twenty year truce approaches its end, there is a summit between nations to try to continue the peace - or at least a couple people are there for peace. Others are positioning for the restart of the war.

07 May 2016

Lady Helen Wrexhall: Dark Days Club

Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman:
1. Dark Days Club.
2. Dark Days Pact (1.2107)

Strength Rating: 4
Recommended: 5

It is 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to be presented to the queen and enter British society as an adult. Helen and her brother are being raised by her aunt and uncle after their parents death. Helen's aunt is hoping the stain of Helen's mother does not limit her chances at a good marriage. Her mother was accused of treason.

Two men notice her as soon as she is presented. Her brother's best friend - a match that would rank Helen so high she would be in line for the crown. And a distant cousin who is trying to find his way back into society after being accused of killing his wife.

Goodman has taken regency England and added a new element in this alternate history series. Hidden in the world Lady Helen is entering is another layer - Deceivers who feed on people and the Reclaimers who have to protect society from them. This is a great start to a wonderful series!

15 June 2015

Sophronia Temminnick: The Finishing School by Gail Carriger

The Finishing School by Gail Carriger:
1. Etiquette and Espionage.
2. Curtsies and Conspiracies.
3. Waistcoats and Weaponry.
4. Manners and Mutiny.

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 5

The Finishing School series is an alternate history, steampunk tale about a finishing school that teaches dance, dress and etiquette along with death, diversion and espionage.

Sophronia Temminnick is the youngest child in a London household. Her sisters are all about dressing and following social rules while Sophronia is more interested in how things work. She is always getting into trouble and while trying to eavesdrop on a conversation between her mother and a friend, she tumbles out of the dumbwaiter and splatters food all over her mother's friend.

This is the same day she learns that she is being sent to a finishing school - Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. She will be traveling to the school with an academy representative and two other students.

Even before she can arrive at the school, the action begins. And the longer Sophronia is at school the better suited she thinks she is to be there - in spite of the fact that she regularly breaks the rules.

Carriger has created a wonderful steampunk world. The Finishing School series takes place in the same world as her adult series, the Parasol Protectorate.

14 June 2015

Alina Starkov: Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha Trilogy:
1. Shadow and Bone.
2. Seige and Storm.
3. Ruin and Rising.

Strength Rating: 4
Recommended:  3

Alina Starkov grew up in the dukes home with the other orphans of the boarder wars. She is still inseparable from her best friend Malyen Orestev. When they left the orphanage, they joined the army. Now he is a tracker and she is map maker. They are on their first assignment near the Unsea - a black stain on the country that divides it in two. Crossing the Unsea, or the fold, is dangerous as there are creatures who live in the dark and love the taste of human.

When their group attempts a crossing, Alina has never seen a dark so black. She hears things coming toward their ship. The Grisha, or masters of small science, use their magic to send fire toward the beasts as soldiers use rifles. Alina is terrified when they are attacked. But when one of the creatures attacks Mal, she throws herself in the way and wishes with all her might to save him.

Suddenly, a light as bright as sunlight blooms. The monsters are held at bay. When Alina wakes up they are back in the town they left before attempting to cross. Before she knows it, Alina is thrown into a carriage and sent to the capital. She will be tested and trained to use a power she doesn't believe she even has.

03 November 2014

Cleiona Bellos and Lucia Damora: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes:
1. Falling Kingdoms.
2. Rebel Spring.
3. Gathering Darkness.

Strength Rating: 4
Recommended: 5

 In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

11 September 2014

Rielle Lazuli: Millennium's Rule by Trudi Canavan

Millennium's Rule by Trudi Canavan:
1. Thief's Magic.
2. Angel of Storms. (2015)
3. Successor's Son. (2016)

Strength Rating: 3
Recommended: 5

Rielle Lazuli lives in a land ruled by priests. They believe that magic comes from the Angels. Anyone other than a priest using magic is immediately arrested for stealing from the Angels. Because using magic causes a stain in the air visible to those who are magical, the tainted are usually caught quickly. Rielle has been able to see stain her whole life. As this means she has magic potential her aunt tells her to keep it secret. They don't know what the priest do to those who can see it.

Tyen Ironsmelter is a student of archeology and sorcery at the Academy. He is on an expedition when he finds a tomb he has been researching. Students often pay their way at the Academy by bringing back artifacts found on digs. Tyen is somewhat disappointed when the only thing he finds is a book. Until he opens it. The book was once a woman named Vella - a powerful sorcerer in her time who was turned into the book against her will. She stores all of the knowledge of everyone who has ever held her.

Tyen knows he has to turn the book over but wants to make sure Vella is not put in a storage vault or destroyed for her outdated magical knowledge - there has been an industrial revolution of sorts since she was put in a tomb. But if Tyen is caught with Vella he will be branded a thief and kicked out of the Academy.

10 September 2014

Iolanthe Seaborne: Elementals series by Sherry Thomas

Elementals series by Sherry Thomas:
1. Burning Sky.
2. The Perilous Sea.

Strength Rating: 4
Recommended: 4

Iolanthe Seaborne has been hiding all of her life. He guardian has moved her from school to school where hopes to hide her from the Bane and his Inquisitor. As an elemental mage she may be targets for her powers. But Iolanthe doesn't think she is in too much danger. Until the day she needs to fix a spell that has been ruined.

When she calls lightning from the sky everything changes. Prince Titus has been waiting for an elemental mage to call lightning as seen by his mother's prophecy. He has already set up a place to hid the mage - whom he was convinced was going to be a boy.

08 September 2014

Ileni: Deathsworn series by Leah Cypess

Deathsworn by Leah Cypess:
1. Deathsworn.
2. Death Marked.

Strength Rating: 4

Ileni is a Renegai sorceress. She was thought to be one of the strongest magicians ever, but her magic is starting to fade. With all of the skill in the world, no magic means no spells. The Elders have decided to send her to the Assassin's Caves to teach magic. The last two Renegai sorcerers who were sent were killed.

While Ileni is scared to meet the Assassins - her people are taught to fear the young men who only leave their mountain cave to murder - she is resigned to her fate and doesn't really want to face a life without magic.

02 September 2014

Wren Connolly: Reboot by Amy Tintera

Reboot series by Amy Tintera:
1. Reboot.
2. Rebel.

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 5

Amy Tintera introduces readers to a new kind of undead. A virus KDH, named after the site of the first outbreak Kill Devil Hills, reprograms people after they die. The theory is that the longer someone is dead, the stronger and less humane they are when they reboot.

Wren 178 is the highest number reboot known. She was dead for 178 minutes before she came back to consciousness. Now she is one of the best soldiers at HARC (Human Advancement & Repopulation Corp). She is also one of the top trainers of new reboots. As a 178 she always gets first pick of the new recruits, but she surprises everyone including herself when she picks Callum 22. The under 60s have too many human emotions left to be easy to train, but there is something about 22 that is changing the way Wren thinks.

13 November 2013

Calaena Sardothien / Aelin Galathynius: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass series
by Sarah Maas:
1. Throne of Glass.
2. Crown of Midnight.
3. Heir of Fire.
4. Queen of Shadows.
5. Empire of Storms.

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 5

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is the first book in her Throne of Glass series about an assassin who must pass a test to become the king's champion or be doomed to a short life in a work prison.

Calaena Sardothien is the Assassin of Adarlan. But few now that the infamous assassin is a woman who is only eighteen, though her work is well known. After a year in the salt mines of Endovier, Calaena is told she is to return to the capital city of Rifthold to a contest to become the king's champion. She is being sponsored by his son, crown prince Dorian, partly to spite his father. If she wins, she will serve the king for four years and then earn her freedom.

21 August 2013

Juliette: Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi:
1. Shatter Me.
2. Unravel Me.
3. Ignite Me.

Strength Rating: 4
Recommended: 5

Juliette Ferrars has been locked away for much of her life. Her parents locked her in her room and people at school kept their distance. Now she is in a cell and she has not even spoken to anyone in the last 264 days. But that is about to change.

The Reestablishment (the government that controls most of the world) has plans for her. They wish to turn her into a weapon of torture for their cause. They are still fighting rebels in an attempt to eradicate all previous culture and ties to any other form of government. And in order to convince her to work with them, they will use the one person from her past with whom she has an emotional connection.

There is an underground movement opposed to the Establishment, called Omega Point. And they also have plans for Juliette.

Either way, Juliette will play a roll in what becomes of the world in this excellent dystopian series.

*Book 3, Ignite Me, is due out February 2014.

03 June 2013

Yukiko: The Lotus War by Jay Kristoff

The Lotus War by Jay Kristoff:
1. Stormdancer.
2. Kinslayer.

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 4

The Shima Empire is run by one man - the ninth Shogun of the Kazumitsu Dynasty. Though he is in charge of the running of the empire, he is more concerned with getting what he wants personally. And others in the Tiger Clan as well as the other three clans (Fox, Dragon and Phoenix) must no offend him or they will be killed. What he wants now is a thunder tiger - a mythical griffin-like creature that has been extinct for years.

Yukiko will join her father on a wild griffin chase to the Iishi mountain range - a place where humans do not travel due to legend of demons - knowing that failure will result in the death of the whole hunting party.

When Yukiko and a thunder tiger meet, her secret gift of being able to communicate with animals may be the only thing that will save her life.

Kristoff has created a dystopian world where the Blood Lotus is destroying much of the population - either with it opiate or by destroying the land in which it is planted. The regime is oppressive and ripe for someone to challenge it.

26 April 2013

Catherine Hassi Barahal: Spirtwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott

Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott:
1. Cold Magic.
2. Cold Fire.
3. Cold Steel.

Strength Rating: 4
Recommended: 5

Catherine Hassi Barahal has been raised by her aunt and uncle since the age of six when her parents were killed in a flood. Though she has few memories of her parents, she has the journals her father wrote as he traveled the world.

Before Cat and her family can get ready to visit an air ship that has just arrived in their city of Adurnam, a man shows up at their house. Not just any man, but a cold mage. And he is there to fulfill a contract between the Four Moons House and the house of the Hassi Barahal - a contract sealed by magic. He asks who is the eldest daughter. Cat is older than her cousin Bee by a few weeks.

The next thing Catherine knows, she is being married to the mage without even knowing his name. She is told to pack a small trunk and prepare to travel to her new home.Cat will be thrust into a new world of magic and politics where she will be used as a pawn by a powerful house.

22 April 2013

Eona: Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

Dragoneye by Alison Goodman:
1. Eon: Dragoneye Reborn.
2. Eona: The Last Dragoneye.

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 4

Each new year as the twelve-year cycle of power changes to the next Dragon (based on the Chinese cycle of animal years) the ascendant Dragon chooses the next apprentice and the previous apprentice becomes a dragoneye. This is the way it has always been. The cycle turns with the exception of the Mirror Dragon year. The Mirror Dragon has been gone for 500 years.

This year is the year of the Rat Dragon. The chosen one will bind to the Rat Dragon and continue the cycle. Eon has been training for four years to be among the twelve 12-year-old boys to compete for the attention of the dragon. But Eon is neither 12 nor a boy. Eon is really Eona and if anyone finds out she and her master and his whole household will be put to death.

If Eon is not chosen her master will lose everything. If she is chosen she will have to keep her secret while becoming part of the ceremony and tradition that rules the land.

10 April 2013

His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers

His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers:
1. Grave Mercy.
2. Dark Triumph.
3. Mortal Heart (2014).

Strength Rating: 5
Recommended: 5

His Fair Assassin series that takes place in 1489 in Brittany at a time when the rule of Brittany is inherited by a thirteen year old girl and both France and her nobles plot to take over control of the country.

Mortain is the god of Death. Those who serve in his convent are not nuns but assassins. They are trained in the art of killing and to see the signs of those marked for death. And in this time of unrest, they are the perfect spies within the royalty and nobility.

LaFevers' series is great historical fiction with a hint of magic/fantasy or religious fervor that presents as such. The books will pull readers in right away and keep them enthralled until the last page, only coming up for air to check her blog for the publishing date of the next book!