Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger Duology
Genre: YA Fantasy
Etta Spencer is a violin prodigy, determined to play her debut and make her way in the professional music world. In one night, everything that she knows and loves is ripped from her, as she is torn from her world and her time, and forced to travel years from her home. She didn’t even know that this was possible until her legacy was forced upon her. Nicholas Carter is living his life upon the open seas, free from a family and burden that have plagued him for years. The sudden arrival of Etta upon his ship, however, changes all of that for him. He must now journey through time with her to find a powerful object that this family believes that only Etta can find for them.
I decided to start the year out re-reading this fun novel that I read, but didn’t review, at the end of last year. I really, really enjoyed this story. The writing was beautiful. The character development was great. It was much better than I have been seeing in many YA novels of late. The world building was phenomenal! I felt that I was on the journey with them, and I wanted to keep going! Fortunately, I am about to re-join all of our players in the sequel of this duology, Wayfarer. You can look for that review to come sometime in February. One thing that I truly enjoyed about this YA was that, while there was a bit of a romantic element to the story, it wasn’t so heavy on the romance that it overtook the rest of the story. It also wasn’t an overly anguished YA romance, which was refreshing. If you enjoy time travel adventure in your fantasy, this is a great book to look in to!
Author: Lorraine Thomson
Series: The Dark Times
Publisher: Bastei Entertainment
Sorrel lives in a world with no power, little food, and limited people and entertainment. She is fairly content in her walled in village, though, where everyone works together to get by. She has her mother, her siblings, and the boy she likes seems to have chosen her back. Things seem to be ok, for the most part, until the day that the mutants came. They ripped her family from her, and took David and several other kids from the village as hostages. Sorrel sets out on a journey that she may or may not survive, determined to get David and her youngest brother, Eli, back from the mutants, or die trying.
I really enjoyed this Thomson novel. It has been a while since I have read a dystopian, so it was fun to journey back in to a dystopian land. The world-building was well done in this book. The only real issue that I had with it, is that we don’t really get any type of a back-story at all as to what lead to this new era. It would have been nice to have gotten some hint as to the past issues that lead up to the now. That may very well be a personal preference, though, and did no really detract from the visualization of the current world. The main players are all well developed, if not always likeable. Likeability in the mc’s is certainly not something that is a must-have for me to enjoy the book, although I do need to understand their motivation, which was evident in this case. One thing that this book has, that I was not expecting, was the added bonus of making me consider morality: Who truly were the “good” and “bad” beings, in this case? Was it the humans or the mutants? Were any of them truly good or bad, or is it a matter of the position that you can place yourself in to see their point of view the most easily? I was not expecting that out of this novel at all, but it was certainly there. I always enjoy it when a book can make me consider things a bit deeper. The only other criticism that I found was that it did drag a bit in some parts, although it picked back up soon after, so it was not an issue to push through those areas. Overall, this was a good start to, what will be, a new trilogy. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Author: Lisa Carlisle
Series: The Berkano Vampire Collection
Nalia has held a grudge against that Makara Coven since they turned her away as a child. In order to secure their assistance in helping save her village from the vampires, she swallows her pride and agrees to return to them for help. After an attack, however, she winds up stranded. As she is alone, and attempting to find her way, a starving vampire finds her and offers to help her. That help won’t come free, though. Nalia must make a tough decision. The wrong choice could prove devastating, and not only to Nalia herself…
Witches and Vampires from Lisa Carlisle…do I need to day more? Ok, fine, I will! The newest work is a standalone in the Berkano Vampire Collection (No worries, they can be read in any order!). This is the first of this collection that I have read, but I definitely want to read more! Carlisle’s world building was phenomenal, as always. It was so easy to get lost in this world, and just want to stay there. The character development was also as great as her other works. Each of the characters was fully fleshed out, and it was easy to see where and why they belonged in the story. I love everything that I read from Carlisle, but this is easily one of my favorites. I hope that you guys enjoy it as much as I did!
Author: Linsey Miller
Genre: Fantasy/YA Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Sallot Leon, better known as Sal, is a street fighter and an excellent thief. Sal, however wants more from life than robbing nobles and fighting. In the midst of a robbery one day, Sal finds a flyer for auditions for the position of Opal in the Queen’s Left Hand- her personal assassins, named after the rings on her left hand, and decides to go for it. The auditions turn out to be not only training, but a fight to the death with the other contestants. This is a fight that Sal may not be prepared for, but is determined to win and get revenge for their country that was destroyed by the nobles that are in the capitol and the heart of Elise, who they are growing closer and closer to. Will Sal survive to live out this dream?
Guys, I finished this book, and immediately said that I needed more! Seriously, check my Twitter feed! This is that wonderful rare occasion where I have trouble believing that this is a debut novel. The characters were so well rounded and fleshed out. I absolutely loved that the main character, Sal, was gender fluid. It made this character all the more interesting, and definitely an underrepresented community that we should see more of. Miller writes characters that you want to become invested in. The world building was so lovely, and easily visualized. It had enough romance in it to add to the story, but not so much as to make it the focus. This is written as a YA Fantasy, but truthfully it is just a very well written Fantasy that would appeal to anyone looking for that type of escape. I can’t wait to find that escape again in the next installment!
Author: Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl from Everywhere
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
This sequel to The Girl from Everywhere finds us once again aboard the ship Temptation, where it is now Nix’s turn to take the helm and try and change fate- this time the fate is her own and Kashmir’s. After everything that happened in Hawaii, the crew find themselves back in New York where Nix finds out that it has been seen that she is destined to lose her love. She can’t imagine her life without Kash, and is determined to find a way to change this destiny, when the possibility presents itself. Is it possible to change fate? What is she willing to give up to change time?
This is one of those wonderful instances where the sequel was as good as, or possibly better than, the original book in the series. Heilig’s writing is rich and captivating. Her characters, even the secondary ones, all have great depth. The world building is absolutely phenomenal. I would say that it is even better in this installment than it was in the first. I loved that this book had some chapters told from Kash’s POV, so we got an even better look in to his mind and thoughts. Although I have always been a fan of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genres, I have never been one to be caught up in anything involving time travel. This series, however, has grown to be one of my favorites. The only hesitation that I would have, is that this was originally slated to be a duology. The ending left it open to the possibility of further installments, though, if the author chooses to do so. I, for one, fervently hope that she does, because I would like to see the story go a bit further, and have some questions answered, before we call it the end.
When Darkness Whispers
Haunted by an unclear past, biologically enhanced Marine, Eva Montreaux, can’t be distracted from her mission. With Americans being murdered on the island of Okinawa, it’s critical. But when her investigation brings her face to face with Marcos Delacruz, it triggers memories. Ones she lost. Memories that somehow include him.
You guys will remember this wonderful author from my past review of her novel Knights of Stone: Mason, you know, the series with the hot Gargoyles! She’s back with this new novel, which promises to be very different, but looks like it will be awesome. I, personally, can’t wait to get my hands on it! Of course, my review will follow once I do. It releases this Thursday, May 11, so pick up a copy!
Author: Gregory Little
Series: Unwilling Souls
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Ses and the Artisan Guild are on the run, after she unwittingly revealed their headquarters while saving her father and keeping the gods imprisoned. She placed her trust in the wrong person, Murien. They now must make the long journey to their new headquarters, Ocypode. Once they arrive, however, things are not the way that they expected them to be. They are worse. Meanwhile, Murien is sent undercover in the Pit to infiltrate the apprentice smiths. Things begin happening there, and he doesn’t know who he can trust- quite the turn of events. The gods have servants who are on the move, and putting plans in to action, and Ses is forced to team up with unlikely allies to get to the bottom of it.
I was blown away by the first book in this series, Unwilling Souls. Unfortunately, a lot of time when that happens, the sequels can’t live up to the original. I am so, very, happy to say that was not the case here! The phenomenal world building from the debut only got better. The character building continued, and the characters became more complex. This story was just as gripping as the last, and was so enjoyable to read. I look forward to much more from this author!