Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder ★

Touch of Power (Healer Series, Book 1)
by Maria V. Snyder
December 2011

Magician, heal thyself.

Woot!  Hurary!  It's a brand new series from Maria V. Snyder!  In case you don't remember, I practically begged her for a new series when I posted about her young adult book, Outside In last June.  From this, I can only conclude that she is reading my blog!  Seriously though, I think this is her best book since Poison Study.  I picked it up right before bed as a way to relax.  An hour later my husband was fast asleep in bed and I was on the edge of the couch devouring this book as a midnight snack.  A few hours after that, I finished the book completely satisfied but also looking forward to the next book in the series.  How great is that?!  But enough about me and my nocturnal habits . . .

Avry is a healer; a magician able to take on the injuries and illnesses of others in order to cure them.  Once honored for her abilities, she now spends her days running for her life, as healers are hunted and killed for their seeming indifference to a plague that has recently swept the land.  Avry is not surprised when her charitable acts of healing finally catch up to her and she is thrown into prison for immediate execution.  She is shocked, however, when the leader of a band of rogues abducts her and subsequently drags her all over the nine mountains to save a plague ridden prince.  While facing magical danger, betrayal, and the stirrings of love and friendship, Avry must decide whether peace in the land is worth her life.  And you must decide whether or not this book is worth your time.  If you ask me, it's a resounding YES!

Healer Series
Touch of Power
Scent of Magic (TBR 2013)

Entwined by Heather Dixon

by Heather Dixon
March 2011
Greenwillow Books

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in The Keeper's silver forest.  But there is a cost.  The Keeper likes to keep things.

Amazon has been telling me for almost a year now that I needed to read this book.  Every time I looked up a book, there it would be, sitting in the "Customers who bought this, also bought . . . " list.  Well Amazon, you're corporate and a little creepy, but you do seem to know me pretty well.  I absolutely love fairy tales that have been retold or rehashed in some way and this book is a cute, heartwarming rendition of the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

As the oldest daughter in a family of twelve princesses, and as the King's heir to the throne, Azalea has a lot of responsibility.  Keeping up with her duties has never been a problem, however, as long as she finds time to dance.  But when her mother dies, the kingdom is thrown into mourning and dancing is banned.  Wanting to honor their mother's memory, the princesses search for a place where dancing is allowed, and ultimately gain access to an enchanted forest with a strange keeper. Azalea thinks she understands the price of this new found freedom.  But she does not.

While I still prefer Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing for my top Twelve Dancing Princesses pick, this book was charming and unique in it's own way.  Unlike many young adult books written today, the girls don't put up a fuss about being, well, girls.  They are very feminine and expect gentlemen to behave a certain way toward and around them.  I don't really have an opinion regarding the "rightness" of one view or another, but it was certainly a nice break from all the heroines that yell "What, you think I can't do it myself?!" when a guy opens a door for her.  Inner strength isn't all about who opens the door, regardless of gender.

This book also had a very nice message about families and helping one another, even when the other person is acting like they'd really rather you never talked to them again.  Overall, a cute, clean read with endearing characters and positive messages throughout.  Oh, and it gets a plus one for not being a part of a series.

For more books based on traditional myths or fairy tales, see this reading list.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan ★

Glow (Sky Chasers, Book 1)
by Amy Kathleen Ryan
September 2011
St. Martin's Griffin

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.  ~ William Shakespeare

We all know the story of the legendary rape of the Sabine women from history class.  But believe me when I tell you that you've never heard it like this!  Part of a mission to colonize New Earth, the ship Empyrean has been peacefully floating through space for decades.  Fifteen-year-old Waverly and handsome captain-in-training Kiernan were both born on the ship and have known their entire lives that it was their duty to marry early and reproduce in order to ensure completion of the mission.  Their worlds are turned upside down, however, when their barren sister ship attacks, kidnapping all young girls on board the Empyrean.  It will now take all the courage and wisdom that Waverly and Kirenan possess in order to survive their new situations and find one another in the infinite vastness that is outer space.  With incredibly complex characters, a riveting setting, and the knowledge that you can trust no one, Glow is a compelling must read for fans of the futuristic fight for survival.

Sky Chasers
Spark (TBR July 2012)
Possible Book 3 TBA

Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

Shadowcry (The Secrets of Wintercraft, Book 1)
by Jenna Burtenshaw
June 2011
Greenwillow Books

A deathly curse.  An ancient secret.  Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

The price of a major headache from constantly rolling your eyes while reading this book.  Before I say another negative word, I would like to point out that I was interested enough in knowing what was going to happen to the characters that I got through the entire book in a few hours (with a little skimming).

Kate Winters has been living peacefully with her Uncle in their little bookshop throughout Albion's war.  Things aren't going well, however, and wardens have begun to seek special recruits known as "the skilled" in order to aid them in the war effort.  Kate never thought she had anything to fear from these wardens, until the day she raised a blackbird from the dead.  Now Kate must walk through the veil, run from captors, and ultimately make a deal with a murderer in order to save those she loves most.

If it wasn't for the bland, contradictory characters or the countless escape attempts followed almost immediately by capture, this might have been a more enjoyable book as the concept is interesting and the world is well built.  The biggest flaw with this book, however, may have been just how much I loved the dark, villainous murderer.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to like him, but by the end of the book I was head over heels.  If the next book continues his story, then you can count me in!  Otherwise . . . sorry, but you're on your own Kate.

The Secrets of Wintercraft
Blackwatch (TBR June 2012)
Legacy (TBR 2013)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All Men of Genius by Lev Ac Rosen

All Men of Genius
by Lev Ac Rosen
September 2011
Tor Books

"I quite agree with Dr. Nordau's assertion that all men of genius are insane, but Dr. Nordau forgets that all sane people are idiots." ~Oscar Wilde

Let's begin with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, throw in some Jane Austen, salt it with Robert Louis Stevenson and mix in a cup of steampunk.  The end result?  A brilliant young female inventor who dresses as a boy in order to gain admittance to a prestigious male only academy and is subsequently chased by killer automata, kissed by a Duke, and faced with an evil plot that may put all her future dreams in jeopardy.  Or in other words, you get All Men of Genius.  While this was an extraordinarily slow read, the book is well written and interesting enough that you continue to slog through the large cast of characters and Violet's daily comings and goings until you reach the dramatic, action packed conclusion.  Fans of the steampunk genre who are looking for a more adult read should definitely give this one a try!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly

Love in a Nutshell
by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly
January 2012
St. Martin's Press

Kate Appleton needs a job.  Matt Culhane wants Kate to spy on his brewery employees.  Can these two smoke out a saboteur, save Kate's family home, and keep a killer from closing in . . . all while resisting their undeniable attraction to each other?

An even better question would be, can I avoid throwing up while writing this review?  Probably not.  Blech.  As a huge fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books and Wicked series, I was excited to read this novel which has been hailed as a sparkling novel of romantic suspense, small town antics, and secretive sabotage.  Sounds pretty good, yeah?  Well turns out I'm not a fan of books where relationships are the highest priority.  By the second chapter I was sick of Kate's flirty attitude and even sicker of Matt Culhane's internal dialogue about the adorable blond he had just hired.  I would much rather read a book with a real, meaty plot and be served a little romance on the side.  Possibly that is what the authors believe they have done as the romance was actually very tame and not at all steamy.  However, the constant mind chatter about how good so and so looked without a shirt on or how much he wanted her to be his forever drove me nuts.  For that reason, I don't know that I've ever seen a more appropriate book trailer than this one.

This is definitely a book for fans of relationship focused plots in need of a very light read.  The rest of us will just keep looking forward to the release of Evanovich's next book in her Wicked series, Wicked Business, to be released on June 19, 2012!