[Book Review] An agent and an assassin go time traveling

The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P., #1)

Chevie is seventeen and already an FBI agent – except ever since a mission went disastrously awry, the FBI has done its best to bury their not-very-legal underage agents program, and Chevie along with it. Now Chevie’s been banished to London, assigned to babysit an old house with a weird steampunk-looking pod.

Two hundred years away and into the past, Riley finds himself clutching a knife, with Garrick, his master, urging Riley to make his first kill as his assassin apprentice. Except, Riley’s first kill goes terribly awry, and he is suddenly on a collusion course with Chevie and her modern reality.

Take a pinch of time travel, a dash of two words colliding, a secret government program, and two spunky character. Then add a murderous villain obsessed with a betrayal, a gang of angry rams, and a conspiracy that goes back to the future and forward to the past. And it’s up to Riley and Chevie to team up and stop all the crazy. Continue reading

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[Book Review] I can’t tell if the dystopian socio-economics here are better or worse than in the first book

Meg’s Review of Insurgent by Veronica Roth

This review will contain spoilers for Insurgent.

The Goodreads Choice Awards 2012 are in, and Insurgent by Veronica Roth was crowned top YA SciFi Fantasy book of the year. I’m sort of baffled by this – by the fact that it beat out this whopper of a list:

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
  • The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  • The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore
  • Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass

I mean come on – beat Cassandra Clare and the wonderful new comer Cinder? Mostly I’m surprised because I read Insurgent and started this review post in July and could never get up the gumption to actually write it because I was just that unimpressed by this follow-up to Divergent.

Insurgent opens more or less immediately after the chaos of the previous book. A quick refresher about this whacko world (you can read more about it here): In some sort of post-apocalyptic Chicago, the city’s population is split between five factions: Dauntless (courage), Erudite (knowledge), Candor (honesty), Amity (friendliness), and Abnegation (selflessness). Well, Abnegation is pretty much not there anymore because of a revolt that led to all of them getting offed (long story), and the Candor and the Erudite are now in this epic pissing battle standoff, while the Amity has shut their doors and poopooed on the whole lot of them. Oh, and most of the Dauntless are mind-controlled zombies. Continue reading

[Book Review] The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

(Book four of the Lost Heroes Series)

This review will contain spoilers from Son of Neptune.

Remember how much I raged at the cliffhanger for The Son of Neptune? Well, that ending now looks like rainbows and cuddly butterflies compared to what Riordan left us with in The Mark of Athena. I’m officially back to being pissed at him for being so good at leaving readers hanging.

Athena picks up right where Neptune left off, with the giant flying Greek battle ship hovering over the Roman demigod camp. The Romans are none too pleased with situation, but they allow the Greeks to come down to the city unarmed. Not that demigods need to be armed to do damage.

Less than two chapters in, and we have Annabeth MMA-launching Percy to the ground in order to threaten his life should he ever leave her side again. It was a lovely reunion between the two star-crossed lovers, and an even better treat to finally be inside Annabeth’s head and seeing the plot through her eyes at least some of the time. Continue reading

[ Series Review ] The girl who sees ghosts, enter stage left

Series Review: The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong

I first came across Armstrong’s writing when she published Bitten (werewolf, paranormal, romance) so when I saw that she had written a Young Adult series, I was torn between curiosity and a skeptical mistrust of yet another neck-and-lips cover – plus, the books are called “The Darkest Powers.” How in the world was the series gonna pull that off?

It starts with The Summoning.

Chloe Saunders is a regular film-loving teenage girl – right up until she has a psychotic break in the middle of the school day and nearly falls off the school roof. She ends up in Lyle House, a home for troubled teens with its own regimen of meds and surveillance. You can probably guess by the glowing jewel (and title) on the covers above that this won’t be a story about a young girl overcoming mental illness. In fact, as time goes on, Chloe begins to wonder whether the ghosts in Lyle House might just be real after all. Continue reading

[Book Review] Kane Chronicles Closure

Meg’s Review: The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

Audiobook read by Katherine Kellgren and Kevin R. Free

  

I can plow through a novel much faster reading than listening to the audiobook. Often times, if it’s a book I have been dying to read, I’ll double-fist it: audiobook at work, Nook at home. This was totally my game plan for The Serpent’s Shadow. I even had it in hardback and Nookbook form. (I’m not Riordan obsessed; no, not me.) And I know I could have had the story done faster and the review up quicker if I had switched over to reading, but I couldn’t — just couldn’t — tear myself away from the audiobook.

Continue reading

[ Book Review ] Diving into the Cabinet of Earths

The last time I read a children’s book was circa January 2008, my freshman year of college. Over that bitter winter break, I read (and fell in love with) Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. After that, I was up to my ears in Modernist literature and 19th century Russian philosophy, with nary a moment to spare for anything unrelated.

As I was about to graduate, I discovered that a professor in my favorite department – Slavic Studies – was about to release a children’s book of her own in January 2012. Intriguing! How would this professor, with myriad scholarly articles to her name, transition to children’s literature? Naturally, I had to find out for myself. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] Lions and Tigers and Zombies, oh my!

Kat’s Review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

In Hollowland by Amanda Hocking, hardcore teenager chic Remy travels with a Canadian, a rock-star, and a fashionista teenybopper through a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ravaged landscape on a quest to find the military quarantine holding her brother. Romantic subplots are plentiful, but for a post-apocalyptic tale of horror and adventure, there aren’t enough zombies to fertilize a garden. The true monsters the companions encounter are their fellow man (in the form of polygamous cults, armies of psychopaths, and military law). But while these subplots are tense and suspenseful, it was a downer that the slow-moving zombies never made me fear for the character’s lives or health. In part, this was because they had a lion in their car.

Wait, what? Is that a typo?

Nope. It’s a lion. Lioness, to be precise.

Though Hollowland starts out with a modified T.S. Eliot quote, and the title is a nod to his melancholic poem “The Hollow Men,”  I would have pulled a more tonally appropriate title and quote from Old Possum’s Practical Cats.

Ripley (the aforementioned lion) is a very practical, zombie-eating feline. When Remy (the teenager) takes pity on a chained-up lion, the cat ends joins their party rather than eating it, and then goes on to display a remarkable preference for rotting, undead flesh. The tigers show up later, but they seem to prefer to make friends with evil humans.

This entire Lion-Tiger thing may have caused some fatal suspension of disbelief issues, but that’s a chirp for another day.

Let’s shift back to the reading experience: Continue reading