Book Review: Love & War

Love & War by Melissa de la Cruz

First line: Forget Paris.

Summary: As the Revolution is coming to a close Alexander Hamilton and his new bride, Eliza Schuyler, are learning that being married is not always easy. Alex is setting up his law offices and Eliza is establishing their home. The long hours at the office defending Loyalist clients puts a strain on the young couple. Will they be able to continue their love story or will it crumble?

Highlights: I enjoyed the story of their early marriage. De la Cruz does a good job of portraying how hard it would be to try to find a balance in this new country. I particularly liked the struggle of a young patriot having to defend the wife of a Loyalist. He must have faced lots of ridicule from other members of his party.

Lowlights: This is young adult and it feels like it. The love and feelings are very immature. However, it does as good job of bringing the history to a young audience.

FYI: Book 2 in the Alex & Eliza series.

Book Review: Dark Tracks (Book 4 in the Order of Darkness series)

First line: There was an angry bellow from inside the woodcutter’s hovel; the woman, struggling up from the stream with a heavy bucket of icy water in each hand, raised her head and shouted back.

Summary: In the fourth installment of Philippa Gregory’s young adult series we follow Luca, Isolde and their companions on their journey. As they stumble into a small village, they find the townspeople besieged by a troupe of dancers. However, these are no ordinary dancers. These dancers seem to be possessed. What is causing this dance sickness and how can it be cured? These are just a few of the questions Luca wants to find out. But when Isolde is taken by the dancing fever the need to find a cure becomes even more important.

Highlights: I have really enjoyed Gregory’s young adult novels. She is my favorite author. Her historical fiction is amazing. She does a great job of describing the time. This is a great way to get younger readers interested in the past. Even as an adult, I learn new bits of information with each story. I also really like the covers. But if you have read my other reviews you know how much I love a good cover!

Lowlights: These are definitely for young adult. They are not as in-depth and detailed but still gets the story told in a fun and interesting way.

FYI: This is book 4 in the series. Check out her other books (Changeling, Stormbringers, and Fool’s Gold) before reading this one!

Early April new releases

Cover of The Female Persuasion by Meg WolitzerApril 3: The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
From Goodreads: “Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.

Cover of Dread Nation by Justina IrelandApril 3: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (young adult)
Zombies, Gettysburg, and combat schools to put down the dead. What’s not to love? It’s the Civil War, and at the battles of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville, the dead begin to walk, completely derailing the war and changing the country forever. The safety of the country’s citizens lies in the hands of a relatively few people. New laws require certain people to attend combat schools where they learn to put down the dead. And for Jane McKeene, this means more opportunity than she would have had otherwise as she studies to become an Attendant, and trains in weaponry and etiquette to prepare to protect the well-to-do.

Cover of A Necessary Evil by Abir MukherjeeApril 3: A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee
In this followup to A Rising Man, Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant “Surrender-Not” Banerjee are called upon to solve the mystery of the assassination of the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Sambalpore. Prince Adhir was a moderniser, but his attitudes and romantic relationship may have upset the religious elements of his country. But the new heir, Prince Adhir’s brother, appears to be an irresponsible playboy. As Wyndham and Banerjee work to untangle the mystery of the murder, they find themselves in a race to find the murderer before the murderer finds them.

Cover of Macbeth by Jo NesboApril 5: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo (Hogarth Shakespeare)
Famed crime writer Jo Nesbo tackles the classic story of Macbeth. From Goodreads: “Set in a dark, rainy northern town, Nesbo’s Macbeth pits the ambitions of a corrupt policeman against loyal colleagues, a drug-depraved underworld and the pull of childhood friendships. Get ready to helter-skelter through the darkest tunnels of human experience.

Cover of Circe by Madeline MillerApril 10: Circe by Madeline Miller
Circe is the daughter of a Titan, but without the powers of either her mother or her father. Because she is such a strange child, she turns to the mortal world for companionship, where she learns she is not powerless. She discovers that she possesses the power of witchcraft, which allows her to transform her rivals into monsters. Threatened by this discovery, Zeus banishes Circe to a deserted island, but this just allows Circe to hone her craft.

Cover of Love and Other Words by Christina LaurenApril 10: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
A then-and-now story of love. Macy is a pediatrics resident who is busy planning her wedding to a financially secure older man. She has a plan — keep her head down and her heart tucked away. Then she runs into Elliott, the love of her life, around whom her whole world used to revolve. From the teenage Elliott and Macy who grow from friends to much more, to the adult Elliott and Macy who have become strangers until their chance reunion, this story explores what happens when love gets a second chance.

 

Book Review: Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue

Wires and Nerve: Volume 2: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer

First line: Almost a year has passes since we overthrew the wicked tyrant, Queen Levana, and crowned my best friend, Cinder—AKA Princess Selene Blackburn—as the true queen of Luna.

Summary: In the second installment of the Wires and Nerve graphic novels by Marissa Meyer we see Iko and Steele continue to hunt the blood thirsty genetically altered soldiers of Queen Levana. The soldiers have refused to return to Luna and accept that the war is over. With the planned trip to Earth, Cinder and her friends are worried about being attacked while celebrating the new peace treaty between the two nations. It is up to Iko and Steele to prevent this from happening.

Highlights: I loved the Lunar Chronicles. The fairytales intermixed with science fiction/fantasy were fun and exciting. I was happy to see that Meyer was going to continue and expand her universe with the Wires and Nerve stories. I am not much of a graphic novel reader but these were fun. The drawings were simple and monotone but still fit perfectly into the Lunar universe.

Lowlights: With graphic novels, the stories are usually short and very basic. I wanted more. I wanted to see more of my favorite characters. This is why I cannot read too many graphic novels. I like a fuller story.

FYI: Second in the series. However, you need to read the Lunar Chronicles before reading these!

Late February new releases

Feb. 20: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott
Six close friends from Oxford spend what they hope will be the perfect summer getaway together in a farm house in France. And it is, until they meet the girl next door — Severine. For Kate, Severine is an unwelcome presence, who undermine’s the groups loyalties. Kate knows that after a huge blow-up on the last night of the the holiday, that things are not ever going to be the same. Some actions are unforgivable and some people are unforgettable, even if they are never seen again. But a decade later, Severine’s body is found. Suspicion begins to swirl around Kate, who finds herself buried in deception and has no one to help her get free.

Feb. 20: The Woman in the Water by Charles Finch
The latest in Charles Finch’s Charles Lenox mystery series takes the reader back to Lenox’s first case in 1850. Lenox is struggling to make a name for himself as a private detective, and Scotland Yard refuses to take him seriously. An anonymous letter sent to the newspaper is from a person who claims to have committed the perfect crime, and in the letter they promise to kill again. Lenox believes this is his chance to prove himself. The killer’s sights end up set on those closest to Lenox, and he ends up in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Feb. 27: The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1) by Sayantani DasGupta
Kiranmala is just a normal New Jersey sixth grader when she wakes up on her 12th birthday. Then her parents disappear and a demon blasts through her kitchen trying to eat her alive. Her parents had often told Kiranmala fantastical stories — like that she was really an Indian princess. Then, two swoon-worthy Indian princes show up at her door trying to rescue her. Now she’s sucked into another dimension: one full of magic and mythical creatures and magical maps. She has to solve riddles and avoid demons and try to avoid the things that want to kill her, while trying to find her parents and basically save New Jersey.

Feb. 27: The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus
Typically, the movie comes after the book, but in this case it’s the other way around. The highly rated movie, which is still out in theaters, was released a couple of months ago. Critics have said that director Guillermo del Toro was “at his visually distinctive best” with this film. He has joined forces with author Daniel Kraus to tell this love story in novel form. Elisa Esposito is mute, and works as a janitor in a research center in 1962. One night she sees a creature she isn’t supposed to, and it eventually becomes her sole reason for living. io9 says in its review that the movie and the book tell this spectacular story in two very different ways.

Feb. 27: The Hush by John Hart
This book takes the reader back to the world Hart introduced in The Last Child. But you don’t have to read that book before you read this one. Johnny lives alone, 10 years after the events that changed his life. Books have been written about his exploits, and people are curious, but Johnny works hard to maintain his privacy. His one connection to his past is with his childhood friend, Jack. Jack senses danger in the lands Johnny lives on, but Johnny doesn’t want to discuss it.

Book Review: Tarnished City

Tarnished City by Vic James

*May contain spoilers–see my review of book one, Gilded Cage.*

First line: Jenner reined his horse to a halt, and it stamped and snorted in the long blue-black shadow of the trees.

Summary: In a modern day Great Britain the powerful are called Equals. They have magical powers called Skill. And the common people live their lives just as we do except for each person is required to serve 10 slave years during their lifetime. Many are sent to the slave towns to work in factories but the Hadley family are assigned to work at a home of an Equal. However, when Luke kills the Prime Minister he is condemned and sent to the dreaded prison island for a lifelong punishment. His sister Abigail is determined to rescue her brother. She escapes and tries to find the other rebels who are intent on bringing down the Equal regime and end the slave days. Revolution has begun in Great Britain and it will be a battle to the death.

Highlights: This series reminds me of the Hunger Games. There is lots of action and drama. The characters are really well established. I hate Whittam Jardine almost as much as President Snow. I was deeply saddened by several deaths in the story. I was completely shocked when they happened that I gasped and had to take a minute to recover from them. If a book can make you do that, you know that you are invested in it. I keep having complicated feelings about Silyean. He is an interesting character that I cannot decide if I want to trust or not. When I was nearing the end the whole story sped up and it was like a marathon. I had to finish it and was exhausted at the end. It was great! I cannot wait till the author releases the final book to find out how the story ends, if I can trust Silyean and see if the Hadley’s survive the revolution.

Lowlights: The magical powers of the Equal is called Skill. I felt like the word was over used at times. On several pages, the word is mentioned multiple times. As a reader of the series, we understand what they are doing. It does not have to be pointed out repeatedly.

FYI: Lots of violence.

Book Review: One of Us Is Lying

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

First line: A sex tape.

Summary: Five students are in detention. All were put there because they were caught with a phone on them in class. However, when one of the students, Simon, dies during detention the others are all suspects. Simon is the school gossip. He posts all the rumors and secrets of his classmates on the internet making him one of the most hated kids in the school. Each of the “Bayview Four” know that they were being framed but by who?

Highlights: This has been compared to The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars and I think that is spot on. I love both and together they are great. I really enjoyed this debut novel. The mystery is good with little twists. The characters are great representations of teens and the problems that they deal with. Problems with family, friends, relationships, sports, and school. There was the jock, the brain, the popular girl and the burn out. It was a fun fast-paced novel. I will definitely keep a look out for the author’s next book.

Lowlights: Nearing the end I started to guess at the conclusion. It felt like all the likely scenarios were too easy so the better option was the not so obvious one.

FYI: Great for younger readers who want a good thriller.

Book Review: Renegades

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

First line: We were all villains in the beginning.

Summary: Nova is a villain. Adrian is a super hero. Nova was orphaned as a child when the group called the Renegades failed to save her parents from an assassin. Fueled by hate for the group of super heroes she joins a group called the Anarchists. When the plan to kill the leader of the Renegades fails Nova devises a plan to join the super hero force in order to bring them all down from the inside. But she did not intend to like the people she is meant to hate. Or even fall in love with the son of leaders of the Renegades.

Highlights: The cover is amazing. It is truly a cover for a super hero book. The bold colors and design are perfect for the story. This book falls in during the perfect time. Super hero movies and books are on the rise and this one great for readers of this genre. I liked that the characters. My favorite was a minor character, Winston (the Puppeteer). He is creepy and funny at the same time.


Lowlights: Most of the book is an introduction to the world and characters. The beginning is slower moving with most of the action happening at the end of the book.

FYI: This is the first of a duology. If you like this check out the author’s series, The Lunar Chronicles, a sci-fi fairy tale adventure.

I was lucky enough to attend an event at Watermark Books in Wichita when Marissa Meyer was promoting this book.  She was wonderful!  I loved listening to her talk about her ideas and plans for the book.  She has a great sense of humor and can tell a great story.  I laughed a lot while listening to her stories about writing.  I was really excited to get her to sign Cress, the third book in The Lunar Chronicles series.

 

December new releases

Ah, the holiday season is upon us. And that means the gift-giving season is upon us as well! If you are having a hard time finding the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list, maybe a book is the answer. We’ve got several great new releases listed below, and most of them will be out  before Christmas—with the exception of the last two titles, which will be out Dec. 26, perfect for late gift-giving!

Do you have a favorite book that you love to give as a gift? If so, share it with us by leaving a comment.

Dec. 5: Year One (Chronicles of the One #1) by Nora Roberts
On New Year’s Eve, a sickness suddenly spreads across the land. Within weeks technology begins to fail, governments have collapsed and half the world’s population is dead.  Survivors have to figure out how to work in this new world, a world where magic is beginning to rise up as science and technology have been destroyed. Some of the magic is good, and some is evil. In this new landscape, one is never sure if someone they meet is a savage or a savior.

Dec. 5: Enchantress of Numbers
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Ada is the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron, and as such, destined for fame even before she was born. Her mother is estranged from Ada’s father in an attempt to save Ada from “her perilous Byron heritage” by immersing her in study of mathematics and the sciences. When Ada is introduced into society, she develops a relationship with inventor Charles Babbage and over time, comes to terms with her own imagination.

Dec. 5: The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2)
by Katherine Arden
Vasya returns as a young woman, and is compelled to choose between a forced marriage to a prince or life in a convent—both of which will leave her cut off from the world she longs to explore. Instead, she chooses to leave home disguised as a boy and sets off on an adventure. A battle brings her to the attention of the Grand Prince of Moscow, from whom she must hide her secrets, even after she realizes that she is the only one who will be able to stop the mysterious forces that could destroy his kingdom.

Dec. 12: You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Heather
Samantha, an accountant, lives her life as safely as she knows she should. Then Nick comes into her life and she can’t help falling for him. However, when he plans a dangerous kayaking trip, Samantha ends their young relationship in anger. Fast forward two years, and Samantha’s grandmother has had an accident, so Samantha travels to Thunder Falls, Idaho, to be with her. Who does she find there, but Nick. With the encouragement of their family and friends, and a whole church congregation, can they try again?

Dec. 19: Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfells (young adult)
Four boys from a prep school make plans to go on a camping trip in Yosemite National Park. What could possibly go wrong? Before the group even gets out on the trip, one of them backs out. Then, a girl replaces him. Then, there’s a fire at their intended campsite. So they decide to take a treacherous trail to the top of Yosemite Valley and the bad decisions really begin to pile up. After more mishaps and issues, one of them doesn’t make it back to their tent and the rest of the group tries to figure out what happened while desperate to survive themselves.

Dec. 26: The Road to Bittersweet by Donna Everhart
Wallis Ann Stamper is 14, and lives in the Appalachians, which is not easy but she finds it satisfying. Her older sister is a mute and musical savant and is constantly watched over. Wallis, however, is rugged and and practical. When a flood forces her family from their home in the middle of the night, Wallis is exposed to a whole world beyond the banks of the creek that carries the family name. As the family makes its way to the hill country of South Carolina, the experiences Wallis has will take her across some rough terrain, not all of which is physical.

Dec. 26: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
The scholarship Nora Tufts received was a step toward becoming a medical specialist. Then she was hit by a car. Then she overheard her boyfriend hitting on another doctor and that was two huge steps backward. So Nora goes back to the tiny Maine community she was so eager to leave 15 years before. And they don’t necessarily want her back.

November new releases

There’s definitely a chill in the air and we’ve seen our first forecast for possible snow (already?! it’s far too early for snow!). Break out the hot cocoa and some marshmallows, find a soft blanket to curl up in, and grab a good book! If you’re looking for something new, here are a few books scheduled for release this month (all of them before Thanksgiving!) that we recommend.

Nov. 7: Now is Everything by Amy Giles (young adult)
Hadley Macauley is at the center of this debut novel, told in alternating then and now chapters. Hadley’s family may look like a perfect family from the outside, but they are hiding a dark secret. Hadley is doing everything she can to keep her sister safe from their father, but after Hadley’s relationship with Charlie deepens, a violent incident at home changes everything. After Hadley attempts suicide, everyone wants to know what happened that day at home, and Hadley’s not saying a word.

Nov. 7: Renegades by Marissa Meyer (young adult)
From the author of the Lunar Chronicles comes the first in a new series about a syndicate of good guys who rose after society crumbled and chaos ruled—the Renegades. As champions of justice, they’ve brought about peace and order, which is appreciated by everyone but the villains they’ve vanquished. Nova is on a mission of vengeance for a villain who has the power to crush her, and when she meets Adrian, they both end up in danger.

Nov. 14: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #3)
Brandon Sanderson does epic fantasy with the best of them, and the third installment in The Stormlight Archive series is no different. Humanity is facing a new Desolation in the Voidbringers. The violent Everstorm is sweeping the world with destruction. But nestled in the mountains above the storms, Shallan Davar unearths dark secrets in the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant. Previous books in The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings (#1), Words of Radiance (#2), and Edgedancer (#2.5).

Nov. 14: Artemis by Andy Weir
New science fiction from the bestselling author the The Martian is set in the near future in a city on the moon. Life in Artemis is pretty rough if you aren’t one of the rich tourists, so a little smuggling won’t hurt anything and certainly helps pay the bills. But when Jazz gets the chance to pull of a perfect crime, what could go wrong? Until she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy for control of the city itself.

Nov. 21: The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris (middle grades)—this book is on order so is not available yet on the catalog
Carter is a street magician. When he runs away to a sleepy New England town, he finds friends and more magic. After a greedy boss and some crooked carnies move into town, Carter teams up with five more kids who think like he does. They set out to rid the town of the bad guys, using magic and teamwork, and in the meantime, find friendship, adventure and their own self-worth.

Nov. 21: The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
From Goodreads: “A moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.”