Give the Dark My Love (Give the Dark My Love #1) by Beth Revis #bookreview #YA #fantasy

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her. 

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague. 

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.

Alchemy and necromancy – that’s what initially drew me to this book.  Also the beautiful cover.  A protagonist with all the best intentions finds herself walking the fine line separating light from darkness – it’s an intriguing hook.

Nedra’s transformation from a dedicated student determined to find a cure for the plague to a desperate alchemist who turns to necromancy is fascinating, and done to perfection.  So many times I wanted to yell at her to consider the consequences of her actions – but if she did, I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a story.  It’s difficult to like her character by the end of the book, but an excellent portrayal at what grief can do to a person.

Grey is a sweet love interest – and it’s a case of insta-love, but his character doesn’t add much to the story.  He attempts to be a moral compass for Nedra, but she’s an obstinate girl.

There are a couple of twists toward the end – one I’d figured out, and the other a bit of a surprise.  The beginning is more of a slow burn, explaining world-building and magic, but the pace picks up toward the middle.  I’ll be interested to see where this series goes in the second book.  This book is scheduled for publication September 25th, 2018.

Thanks to Penguin First to Read and the publisher for the ARC.

The Devil’s Thief (The Last Magician #2) by Lisa Maxwell #TuesdayBookBlog #YA #fantasy #historicalfiction

In this spellbinding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Last Magician, Esta and Harte set off on a cross-country chase through time to steal back the elemental stones they need to save the future of magic.

Hunt the Stones.
Beware the Thief.
Avenge the Past.

Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.

Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.

To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.

In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.

As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.

The first book in this series was easily a 5 star read for me.  At nearly 500 pages, I almost didn’t request it because of the length – but it didn’t feel that long when reading it.  At 700 pages, I didn’t hesitate to request The Devil’s Thief  because of how engrossing the first book was, but this novel felt like a chore at times, and the series still isn’t complete.  With the third book (I’m assuming it will be the last?), the series will be considerably even longer than Stephen King’s uncut version of The Stand.

The dual timeline is compelling, and not at all confusing.  I liked seeing how events in the past influence the present, and the changes in some of the characters over that time period.  I gasped at a couple of surprising twists, and the world-building remains top notch.  Characterization is also strong, and I enjoyed spending time with these characters again.

However – Esta and Harte are disappointing.  The majority of their story focuses on the romantic drama/tension between them, and does nothing to advance the plot.  Viola and Jianyu have the more interesting plot developments by far, and Julian is a nice addition to the lineup.  There’s also a good amount of repetition, but this was an ARC, and final editing may take care of that and lower the word count.

Although this book underwhelmed me and didn’t move as quickly as the first, I’m curious to see where the next book goes, and I want to know the fate of these characters.  The Devil’s Thief is scheduled for publication October 9th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1) by Tara Sim #bookreview #steampunk #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time. 

I think I’m a steampunk fan – I’ve read several steampunk books and enjoyed all of them, and I adored the Victorian London setting in this novel.

The whole premise of clocks controlling time tantalized me, and I connected with Danny almost immediately.  I know clocks and cogs aren’t for everyone, but the fact that Danny could ‘feel’ time and diagnose a clock’s problem fascinated me.  His relationship with Colton was very sweet, although a bit on the ‘insta-love’ side, but I chose to overlook that.

Timekeeper had been in my TBR for a while, and when the theme for one of my book clubs was an LGBT novel, I immediately thought of this one.  A perfect selection, and one I’d recommend.

The Yak Guy Project by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #scifi #dystopian

Imagine waking up in the desert with no idea what happened to you. You have clear memories of situations and places, but a complete loss in personal matters… like your own name. This situation is bad, and you have no idea how to get home.

When you’re rescued by a talking yak, the situation gets exponentially worse. You’ve obviously lost your mind. The immediate needs of a ride off the salt pan and searing heat, along with a drink of water, outweigh the concerns about your mental state.

This is exactly what happened to the Yak Guy. In fact he’s been placed in an alternate world and given a chance to start over in life.

Can this selfish, almost parasitic, young man learn to start over in a world where charity is hard to find? Life is brutal and short here, but he’s going to have to adapt or perish.

The Yak Guy Project is loosely based around The Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Those with experience in Tarot will spot people and situations from the Major Arcana.

I’ve read several books by this author, and his extensive imagination astounds me.  A yak teaching a man basic survival skills and how to become a better person?  Definitely a unique concept.

Generally, coming of age stories apply to teens, but it’s an apt description of the Yak Guy (Ted) in this book.  He comes from a life where he takes advantage of others, doing almost nothing to support himself, earn his way, or take on responsibility.  The yak teaches Ted some valuable, but hard-learned life lessons in a new world that lacks the luxuries he’s accustomed to.  Not how to live with a lower thread count – more like how to survive life or death situations, and find food, water, and shelter.

As with all this author’s books, there are some quirky and memorable characters along the way, as well as a thrilling adventure.  I especially enjoyed the Yak with his practical, no-nonsense approach to life, and sarcastic wit.

I highly recommend this to fans of offbeat, innovative sci-fi/dystopia with characters that will stick with you long after reading.

 

 

The Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse #bookreview #YA #scifi

Rett wakes on the floor of a cold, dark room. He doesn’t know how he got there, only that he’s locked in. He’s not alone—a girl named Bryn is trapped in the room with him. When she finds a mysterious bloodstain and decides she doesn’t trust Rett, he tries to escape on his own—

Rett wakes on the floor of the same cold, dark room. He doesn’t trust Bryn, but he’ll have to work with her if he ever hopes to escape. They try to break out of the room—

Rett and Bryn hide in a cold, dark room. Safe from what’s outside.

But they’re not alone.

I liked the description of this book, and it has a Maze Runner/Groundhog Day/Memento feel to it.  As the description implies, Rett has ‘do overs’, waking in the same room, Bryn with him, etc., and although the descriptions vary each time he wakes, the repetition gets to be a bit much pretty quickly.  The pace picks up somewhere around the 50% mark.

With their backgrounds, it’s easy to sympathize with Rett and Bryn, and their trust issues are understandable.  Their lives haven’t been easy.  I enjoy anything having to do with time travel – this book adds a nice spin to it, and the world-building is interesting.

While Echo Room held my attention for the most part, it was just an okay read for me.  I never felt like there was a ‘big reveal’ moment, and the ending comes about quietly.  I’m not sure if the author has a sequel in mind, but there’s potential for one.  This isn’t a bad book by any means, just more of a slow burn for sci-fi fans.  The Echo Room is scheduled for publication September 11th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.

This cover is stunning, and initially what drew me to this book, and the title is very clever.  Once I started reading, the world-building enchanted and intrigued me and, along with Ember, I enjoyed learning about the Otherworld, its rules, and the creatures inhabiting it.

With his pumpkin and Headless Horseman  comparison, Jack is my favorite character in this book, but I have to admit, Dev is one of the most charming vampires I’ve come across in a while.  Del, Finney, Frank (you can probably guess what that’s short for) – all are wonderful characters, but it took me a while to warm up to Ember – probably because of my frustration with her actions early in the book.

While the world-building and characterization are strong points, the love square between Ember, Finney, Jack, and Dev grew a bit tiresome and takes up a chunk of the book.  I also had to backtrack numerous times when the POV changed abruptly during paragraphs – which happens a lot.

With the satisfying ending, I don’t see the author doing a sequel, and there’s no need for one.  It’s nice to read a standalone in a genre with so many series.  This is a perfect read to curl up with on a chilly fall evening – even better if it’s closer to Halloween.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.