On Starships and Dragonwings

Welcome to a dragon-filled, sci-fi/fantasy reviewing, list-filled blog! 

 

Archetype by M. D. Waters {4 Stars}

Archetype - M.D. Waters

Archetype by M.D. Waters is a chilling tale of a future where control over fetus’ genders led to a shortage of woman, prompting companies to start looking into dark alternatives. Archetype is completely from Emma’s perspective after she wakes up with no memory and no idea who this man calling himself her husband is. Between the voices in Emma’s head, the creepy doctors who refuse to tell her how her accident happened, and the awesome sci-fi technology, Archetype is an excellent adult sci-fi to check out this year!

Note: I received an eARC of Archetype through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

 

Archetype by M. D. Waters (Archetype #1)
Published by Dutton Adult on Feb. 6th, 2014
Genres: AdultSci-fi 
Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . . 

 

Strengths:

  • Let me just start by saying that the writing of Archetype is simply beautiful. Emma’s thoughts are perfectly phrased to make me believe that she is relearning how to speak and interact with the world. Archetype is a book that I just straight up enjoyed reading without even starting to discuss the awesome plot and characters.
  • Just enough detail is given in Archetype for us to wonder what the hell is going on right alongside Emma and the mysteries keep piling up for a while. Emma has dreams that couldn’t possibly be memories and a voice in her head that seems to be from a very different person than who Emma is. I starting guessing immediately but I wasn’t quite right and just loved finding out with Emma what was really going on.
  • While we don’t get to see a lot of the world, the bits and pieces that Emma is told about paint a clear picture of a dystopian world that is actually fairly plausible. Additionally, the technological innovations that are included are pretty fun ;-).
  • Oh Emma, my dear dear Emma. You are such an awesome main character for Archetype and I’m so so sorry that all these horrible things happened to you! I felt for Emma hardcore and loved finding out more about who she was before her “accident.”
  • I am a big believer in sci-fi being used to ask tough philosophical questions and attempt to start answering those questions. Archetype does this in a shocking way and I’m still trying to come up with an answer (good thing there is a second book coming!).

Weaknesses:

  •  Archetype got slow at times. There is a lot of time where Emma is still trying to put the pieces of her mind back together and so no action is taking place. Archetype is definitely a book to pick up when you’re ready for a slower plot but beautiful writing.
  • Gah, the epilogue annoyed me. Of course I can’t go into many details, but it didn’t really seem to fit the story and is clearly there to lead in to the second book.
  • I still have some questions regarding the voice in Emma’s head, since it didn’t seem to fit in with the big reveal. Perhaps we’ll get more details in the next book, but it seems unlikely given where things ended.

Summary:

I have it on good authority that Archetype is great for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale ;-). Archetype is definitely an adult sci-fi with a more classic feel to it, though I think that the mystery surrounding Emma could pull in any sci-fi lover.

 

4 Stars

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews {4 Stars}

Clean Sweep -  Ilona Andrews

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews is an entirely new series that was first released serially on their blog and has since been compiled into the full novella. I’m not a fan of reading on my computer, so I was thrilled to find out that Clean Sweep was going to be released as an eBook (and even print-on-demand!) and that the eBook includes illustrations :D. If you are a fan of Andrews’ other two series or just getting started with your fan career, Clean Sweep is a great introduction to the fun of Andrews’ writing style while introducing a really clever spin on the typical urban fantasy story (there are aliens!).

Note: I received an eARC of Clean Sweep from the author in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Purchase on Amazon

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (Innkeeper Chronicles #1)
Published by Author on Dec. 2nd, 2013
Genres: AdultNovellaSci-fi 
Length: 235 pages
How I got my copy: Author
Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything. 

 

Strengths:

  • I hadn’t been expecting a new world to the extent that Clean Sweep delivers. I for some reason had expected Clean Sweep to take place in the same world as Kate Daniels, but I was completely wrong, so don’t make my mistake ;-). The main awesome selling point of Clean Sweep’s world is that it has the typical urban fantasy critters (werewolves, vampires, witches), but puts a very intriguing spin on all of them: aliens! I’m not saying there are also aliens, I’m saying that werewolves and vampires from our myths are actually aliens from other planets that stop by ours from time to time and human myths sprung up around them. It was so cool reading about where all the human myths around vampires came from in this world ;-).
  • To add another unique layer, our main character Dina is an innkeeper. She owns a bed and breakfast, pretty normal right? Except that it’s for aliens! Dina has a deep connection with the inn (which is alive!) and the whole lore around the innkeepers was just fascinating to uncover. I seriously don’t understand where Andrews comes up with these ideas!
  • The length of Clean Sweep seems a bit debated (Goodreads and Amazon have different numbers), and I think it’s technically a novella, but it felt very much like a nicely-paced novel. I never felt rushed or unsatisfied while reading Clean Sweep, which is one problem I’ve had with many other novellas.
  • THERE ARE ILLUSTRATIONS! There is an illustration for each of the main characters and they are so pretty even just in my eReader’s eInk. I’m really tempted to order a printed copy of Clean Sweep just to pet these illustrations on the page. It was awesome getting to see how the characters looked and gah, they are just so pretty!

Weaknesses:

  •  There is a bit of a love triangle brewing. It wasn’t really a problem in Clean Sweep since Dina just wanted to kick out both guys, but when two guys are interested in one girl, I get nervous.
  • I’m still a bit unclear on some things in the world that I really really want to know. It seemed like the Innkeepers are close to human but have really long lives, or perhaps they aren’t human either? A lot of my questions just make me excited to read the next book, but I wish that I was a bit more comfortable on what is going on with the main character’s species at this point ;-).

Summary:

Clean Sweep was such a fun read. I went in having no idea what to expect except knowing that I love everything Ilona Andrews writes. I ended up once again impressed by the awesome ideas that Andrews comes up with and just wishing the next book was out already >.>. I can see why they decided to self-publish this one, since I honestly have no idea where it would fit in from a marketing perspective, but I’m so glad that established authors now have the option to publish these great stories anyway. If you’re an Ilona Andrews fan, pick up Clean Sweep. If you aren’t all that into urban fantasy but think an alien spin sounds interesting, pick up Clean Sweep :D.

 

Gunmetal Magic Audiobook by Ilona Andrews {4 Stars}

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, #5.5) - Ilona Andrews

I won't be doing my normal format review for this one because I am already swimming in reviews! However, here are my thoughts!

 

Strengths:

  • I freaking love Andrea! She is such a great character with a really heart-wrenching past. We got to see so much more about her, her previous life, what it's like being beastkin, and how she really feels about Raphael. Awesome!
  • The narration for Gunmetal Magic ended up working quite well. A lot of the characters have southern accents, which makes sense given the Pack is based in the south. I ended up being quite happy with Andrea's voice and all the other characters'. 
  • Gunmetal Magic brings in Egyptian mythology!
  • Oh boudas and their shenanigans! Raphael got a bit weird at times, but Andrea has the best pranks ;-).
  • Especially towards the second half of Gunmetal Magic, we get to see inner workings of the Pack that couldn't really be told from Kate's perspective. As Andrea deals with Clan Bouda and figures out what she's going to do, we get a new angle on Clans and how they operate, very cool.

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

Weaknesses:

  • The first half of Gunmetal Magic is dominated by relationship drama and I just wanted to smack Raphael and Andrea upside their heads. Or lock them in a room together.
  • The ending of the big battle etc ended up a little bit confusing, perhaps because I was listening on audio, but also just because there were various rules and reasonings from arguably crazy people >.>. 
  • The narration worked for me in the end, but it did take getting used to!

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

Starters by Lissa Price {4.5 Stars}

Starters - Lissa Price

Starters by Lissa Price tells the story of what might happen if an entire generation of adults was wiped out in the United States due to biological warfare. Callie’s parents were killed years ago and now she must make impossible decisions to keep her brother alive and safe. Starters has the excellent combination of a fairly plausible dystopian premise with delicious plot twists and ethical dilemmas like all good sci-fi requires ;-). I definitely should have gotten to this book sooner, but better late than never right?

Note: I borrowed Starters from my library; go libraries!

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

Starters by Lissa Price (Starters #1)
Published by Delacorte on March 13th, 2012
Genres: DystopiaSci-fiYA 
Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

HER WORLD IS CHANGED FOREVER

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . . 

 

Strengths:

  • Starters has a premise that quite appealed to me. It’s explained that the young and old were the first to be vaccinated against the plague being used in biological warfare (Spore Bombs!) and therefore the healthy adults were the ones that were wiped out when the bombs dropped. This has left Starters (the young people) and Enders (elderly people). However, technology has pushed life expectancy to over 200, therefore there are a lot of healthy Enders to work still. They don’t want Starters taking their jobs however, leading to a strong and horrible class divide.
  • Callie is the MC of Starters and I quite enjoyed her character. She is one of the unclaimed minors, having no living parents, grandparents or great-grandparents to provide for her. She isn’t allowed to work because she is under nineteen, and therefore she and her brother live where ever they can find an abandoned building and steal water. Callie demonstrates how much she cares about her brother and I appreciated that she had up until the events of Starters had a crush but not really acted on it because the situation obviously wasn’t right for kissy times. A practical protagonist!
  • The choices that Callie and the rest of the Starters (and Enders eventually) are presented with are just heart breaking. Gah, one scene in particular makes me sniffle just thinking about it because Callie has to live with how things went down even though she didn’t want it to happen that way. I was also quite moved by the portrayal of poverty in Starters, since Callie and the other Starters struggle with it so much for really unfair reasons.
  • Omg the plot twists! I freaking love plot twists and I didn’t think that Starters would manage to surprise me, but then BAM. The ending of Starters is filled with awesome reveals and just kept popping the rating higher, haha.
  • I really think that fans of Pawn would love Starters. There is a similar body-swapping and pretending element, plus the dystopian setting and fighting to overthrow a corrupt system :).

Weaknesses:

  •  The first half of Starters kept reminding me of other sci-fi and dystopian YA that I’ve read recently. Obviously Starters came out a bit ago, so it actually came before some of the books it reminded me of, but it was still annoying to get mentally distracted by that.
  • There is the potential for a love triangle in the second book, but so far I’m willing to let it slide. Callie is pulled between two guys who she isn’t actually officially involved with and it’s a complicated situation with the whole body-switching thing ;-).
  • Callie’s eyes are apparently the same color, but at one point Michael draws a picture of her with two different colored eyes, which is also how the original cover was. Is this important?? Is it just a metaphor?? I kept expecting something to emerge from these mentions but then nothing did so I’m confused.
  • There is a lot of reference to renegades, friendlies, and unfriendlies. These are obviously the terms that Callie has developed to refer to the other youths on the streets, but it was never really explained what the difference between unfriendlies and renegades is and if there is some organization around these groups or not. I’m fine with new terms, but they need to be expanded upon at some point!

Summary:

Starters has a strong plot with lots of fun twists along with an actually fairly believable premise. While there were elements that were quite familiar given the amount of dystopian and sci-fi I’ve read, I still really enjoyed Callie and her adventure to figure out what the heck is going on in this crazy world. I’m really curious to see where the second book (Enders) goes, since there was a bit of a cliffhanger (i.e. a major reveal RIGHT at the end) and I’m so pumped for her to explore it!

 

4.5 Stars

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci {3 Star}

Tin Star  - Cecil Castellucci

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci is the story of a girl stranded on a space station during a time of great unrest in the galaxy. There are a lot of schemes and political intrigue taking place in the universe around Tula, but she spends most of the book isolated on an out of the way space station with no way of getting off and getting revenge. Tin Star has a plot and writing style that goes back to the classic sci-fi, but with a teenage character, therefore I think it might be good for sci-fi fans that want something a little different than all the action-packed, dystopian stories they’ve read lately ;-).

Note: I received Tin Star from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I read an ARC and some things may have changed in the final version.

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci (Tin Star #1)
Published by Roaring Brook Press on Feb 25th, 2014
Genres: Sci-fiYA 
Length: 240 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. 

 

Strengths:

  • Tula is incredibly isolated as the only human on a space station for much of the book and Tin Star captured that feeling quite well. Tula has very few social interactions, spends a lot of her time looking down at an abandoned planet, and has to figure out all these aliens’ body language.
  • Speaking of aliens, there are lots of them! And lots of different kinds! While we didn’t get quite as much description as I would have liked, it was clear that the aliens didn’t just resemble humans in weird outfits. They are described realistically, to the point where they barely have “eyes” or “arms” and Tula instead just has to guess at what the alien equivalents are.
  • As I said above, Tin Star struck me as having a classic feel. It’s pretty slowly paced and was confusing at times because technology wasn’t always fully explained (why would Tula explain something that is common place to her). However, that lends to a real immersion in this life that Tula is dealing with.

Weaknesses:

  •  Tin Star has a crazy slow start. There is excitement right at the beginning when Tula is abandoned, but then she proceeds to spend a year just making do on the space station. Tin Star is a darn short book, but it honestly didn’t feel like it because it was a bit of struggle at times for me.
  • Tula is crazy isolated (she has one sort of mentor/friend who is an alien) for much of the book and she isn’t a very social person to begin with. I didn’t realize how much this would bug me, but I really wished she could have had at least one close relationship so that I could get to know her and another character through their dialogue.
  • I was happy that there wasn’t really a romance angle as I was reading and then BAM a romance was shoved in at the end. It honestly seemed to pop up out of nowhere to me. Gah, annoying.
  • I kept hoping epic things would start happening and Tula would get swept up in an awesome space adventure. It just never happened. By the end of the book, I sat back and went, well, what actually happened? Apart from a couple spoilery things (that really didn’t make that much of a difference in Tula’s day to day life), nothing has really changed for Tula. Tin Star felt very much like a setup book for the sequel, so hopefully the sequel comes soon!

Summary:

Tin Star is quite short, but due to it’s slow-pacing, it didn’t feel all that short. It has a classic sci-fi feel, with a very realistic portrayal of the isolation of space and the strangeness of being a human among aliens. I’m very interested to see where the series leads, but at this point I can only recommend Tin Star to those who have plenty of patience ;-).

 

3 Stars
Source: http://www.onstarshipsanddragonwings.com

Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder {3.5 Stars}

Taste of Darkness - Maria V. Snyder

Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder is the conclusion to the Healer trilogy. It concludes the story of Avry and Kerrick and their fight to bring peace to their continent after the devastating plague destroyed the fabric of society. Taste of Darkness, and the Healer series in general, struggled a bit with trying to tell too long and epic of a story in three moderately-sized books. I ended up frequently feeling rushed, but also excited about everything that was happening. That being said, I found Taste of Darkness to be a very satisfying end to this fun and creative fantasy trilogy.

Note: I received Taste of Darkness through Netgalley for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder (Healer #3)
Published by Harlequin MIRA on Dec 31st, 2013
Genres: FantasyYA 
Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?

Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.

But there's a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision. 

 

Strengths:

  • Taste of Darkness continues the POV switching between Avry and Kerrick, which worked really well. It gave Taste of Darkness a chance to tell a complete story about the things going on in the world, since again Kerrick and Avry spend a significant time apart. It’s also fun to see what they think of each other *swoon*.
  • Gah! The bad guys get creepier if that’s possible! There is a new villain (pseudo-king) on the scene and he makes Tohon look like a sadistic kitten…. Tohon is still making trouble of course though, leading to all the shenanigans!
  • I enjoyed the intricate plot twists and turns that Taste of Darkness contained. You definitely need to be paying attention, let me tell you!
  • Taste of Darkness had quite a satisfying ending. I wasn’t in love with all the choices made, but I think people will be happy with how things turn out :).
  • We get to find out more about the plague and it was awesome! Avry is so clever and used fairly accurate (if you consider magic is involved) medical know-how, woot!

Weaknesses:

  •  OMG why won’t people just stay dead???? You know how someone dies in the first book but then… yeah that continues A LOT. I won’t tell you who or when of course, but after the third time someone tragically dies, but then really isn’t dead in this series, I get annoyed.
  • Some of the gang of secondary characters conveniently changed personalities and discovered a savant ability when it was obviously really convenient. Ugh.
  • Maybe I was just too tired while reading Taste of Darkness at times, but wow did I get confused at times. Especially in my eARC, there weren’t chapter divisions between Avry and Kerrick’s switches, making it all the more tricky to figure out who is narrating and what is going on.
  • Due to the sheer number of events that are stuffed in to Taste of Darkness, I felt that I got disconnected from Avry. Where is that spunky character that I wanted to be BFFs with in the first book? She’s off doing something and being tough, which is all well and good, but she lost a bit of her human element.

Summary:

Taste of Darkness is definitely a finale that most people will enjoy. If you’ve read this far in the trilogy, you might as well finish right! Plus, there are so many cool things we finally find out about in Taste of Darkness, so I really do recommend it if you’ve enjoyed the first two books. This trilogy in general made me constantly wish it had been stretched into about five books so that we could spend more time with the characters and not rush through events as much, but it is what it is. If that hasn’t bothered you yet, no reason for it to bother you now ;-).

 

3.5 Stars

Parajunkee: All I kept thinking...

 

"That was a really bad wig..."

 

Me: SO AGREED!

Reblogged from Parajunkee

These Broken Stars {4.5 Stars}

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner was a group read with a couple of friends and I am so happy it was! I was a little worried about the “pretty dress” cover syndrome, but it’s fine if it’s a real dress that is salient to the book :D. I was reading These Broken Stars during the time that I was preparing for my qualifying oral exam (ie big scary time where three professors interrogate you!), so it took me a grand four days to finish instead of the one or two I’m sure it would have if my brain wasn’t fizzling out ;-). These Broken Stars has so many wonderful sci-fi elements along with a cute YA romance, doesn’t get better! :D

Note: I received and ARC of These Broken Stars through Netgalley for an honest review. Some things may be different in the final version.

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

These Broken Stars by Amie KaufmanMeagan Spooner (Starbound #1)
Published by Hyperion Books on December 10th, 2013
Genres: Sci-fiYA 
Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. 

 

Strengths:

  • I have long been waiting for a sci-fi story to go where These Broken Stars goes. I seriously was so excited when I realized that it really was going to go there :D. Of course I can’t give any spoilers, so you’ll have to find out what I mean for yourself ;-).
  • The romance of These Broken Stars is both sweet and saucy ;-). There is a nice slow build, even though you know it’s coming, and given the setting it’s completely realistic. Getting both POV makes it all the more entertaining since you kind of just want to bonk the lovebirds’ heads together.
  • There are a couple creepy moments that gave me goosebumps, but not so much that I was really scared. I just had to keep reading to find out what was going on!
  • So many feels D: Have your tissue box ready! But there are happy feels too :D
  • I always enjoy a good philosophical puzzle, and These Broken Stars raises a couple, so enjoy!

Weaknesses:

  •  In retrospect, These Broken Stars had a fairly convenient ending, which made me pout a bit, but I’m excited to read the next Starbound book anyway!

Summary:

Love love love These Broken Stars! I’m super excited to see YA and classic sci-fi mixing and mashing. Space ships and mysterious planets and mysterious moons oh my! Basically if you are even a bit interested in a mysterious planet investigation, you have to pick up These Broken Stars. You will not regret it!

 

4.5 Stars

Copperhead by Tina Connolly {4 Stars}

Copperhead - Tina Connolly

Copperhead by Tina Connolly is the second book in the Ironskin series, set in a Victorian-era world where fey definitely exist, traded with humans for a while and then decided to wage war against them. Copperhead focuses on a different main character than Ironskin: Helen, Jane’s sister. Copperhead has the feel of both a companion novel, since Helen’s perspective is so different from Jane’s, and a sequel, since it tells of the consequences of the fey masks that a hundred women wore at the end of Ironskin. While Ironskin was a loose retelling of Jane Eyre, Copperhead is not a retelling of any classic, which also gives it a bit of a different feel.

Note: I received Copperhead from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

Copperhead by Tina Connolly (Ironskin #2)
Published by Tor Books on Oct 15th, 2013
Genres: AdultHistorical Fantasy 
Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask. Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.

Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in the murder.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.

Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor...and her heart. 

 

Strengths:

  • Copperhead has a large feminist movement element. Since it’s set in an alternative Victorian era, it starts with the same gender-role dynamics that you would expect, but the women of Copperhead develop a large amount of independence and confidence. They realize that they are capable of leaving the men that forced them into fey masks in the first place and that they don’t need to conform to traditional gender roles. There are also a couple of examples of women that were already breaking the gender role they were assigned by becoming actresses and wearing trousers!
  • Helen seemed rather shallow in Ironskin, but we find out in Copperhead just how much of an act she was putting on. Helen is such a wonderfully deep character, pulled between the very real expectations of society to be a perfectly demure woman and the desire for freedom and happiness. The development that she goes through in Copperhead is a wonderful example of how a more feminine heroine can stay true to the real aspects of her character (such as loving fashion), while still becoming independent and strong.
  • The writing of Copperhead very much fits the time setting. It is pleasant and very much got me in the right mindset for the Victorian world in which Copperhead takes place.
  • I freaking love the alternative history that Connolly has created. She continues to drop in awesome little twists, such as Lady MacDeath instead of Lady MacBeth. It’s funny how many little things would likely change if fey made their presence known instead of only being fairytales!
  • There are a couple of plot reveals that weren’t OMG PLOT TWIST, but were still unexpected and fun. This goes back to the feel of Copperhead; it wouldn’t have been appropriate for there to be a huge crazy plot twist, and so the subtle reveals fit just perfect.

Weaknesses:

  •  While I generally enjoyed the writing of Copperhead, the pacing can be described as languid from time to time. There just isn’t all that much action in Copperhead, since much of the book relies on wheeling and dealing and scheming.
  • Helen, while I adore her generally, at times frustrated me due to her lack of confidence. She makes these great leaps and then misplaces her backbone here and there and I felt like she needed someone to snap their fingers in her face and remind her just how much she had already accomplished.
  • There is a bit of a love triangle, which at first didn’t seem like a big deal, and then Helen went and made it a real thing. This is another moment where I wanted her to snap out of it.
  • I really enjoyed that Ironskin was a retelling of Jane Eyre and it feels weird for Copperhead not to be a retelling. They just don’t fit together as nicely in my brain ya know?

Summary:

If you enjoyed Ironskin, definitely pick up Copperhead. If you weren’t a fan of the retelling aspect of Ironskin but enjoyed the rest, definitely pick up Copperhead ;-). It was so cool getting another perspective (and Copperhead really couldn’t have been told from Jane’s perspective >.>) and getting to see a lot more of this world since Copperhead takes place completely in the city. I’m really curious now to see what perspective the third book is told from and if it goes back to the retelling roots. Also these covers are gorgeous and once again accurate! *pets*

 

4 Stars
Source: http://www.onstarshipsanddragonwings.com

Phoenix Island by John Dixon {3 Stars}

Phoenix Island - John  Dixon

 

 Phoenix Island by John Dixon tells the story of a mysterious island with a military-style bootcamp that has much darker purposes than the story’s protagonist, Carl, first assumes. I had been hoping that there would be a bit of a sci-fi element to it, but Phoenix Island barely strayed into the realm of near sci-fi and didn’t pursue the interesting paranormal directions that it could of. Instead, Phoenix Island has an emphasis on violence for violence’s sake, lunatics that want to take over the world, and a very Lord of the Flies feel to it.

 

On Starships and Dragonwings

 

Note: I received an advance copy of Phoenix Island through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

 

Phoenix Island by John Dixon 
Published by Gallery Books on Jan 7th, 2014
Genres: ThrillerYA 
Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Phoenix Island was supposed to be a boot camp for troubled children. But as one boy learns, the secrets of this jungle are as vast as they are deadly.

When sixteen-year-old boxing champ Carl Freeman jumps in to defend a helpless stranger, he winds up in real trouble - a two-year sentence at an isolated boot camp for orphans. Carl is determined to tough it out, earn a clean record, and get on with his life. Then kids start to die.

Realizing Phoenix Island is actually a Spartan-style mercenary organization turning "throwaway kids" into super-soldier killers, Carl risks everything to save his friends and stop a madman bent on global destruction. 

 

Strengths:

  • Phoenix Island’s MC, Carl, really hates bullies and has the strength and fighting skill to stand up to them. I really identified with his deeply-rooted need to protect those who can’t protect themselves, especially when I found out how he came to possess that instinct. Carl does what I wish I could do when I hear of the really extreme bullies: demonstrate to them that they can’t treat people that way and get away with it.
  • The action never stops in Phoenix Island. It seemed like there was always some sneaking or fighting or equally suspenseful scene playing out. I can see why the manuscript inspired a television show since it is definitely made for keeping people hooked.
  • The premise of Phoenix Island is a little crazy, but as things developed, they seemed actually possible. There is some light sci-fi in that some of the technology used isn’t actually viable in today’s world, however it could be in another couple of decades.
  • The ending of Phoenix Island leaves a lot of room for a sequel that I think I would quite enjoy. The mysteries that remain and the things that need to be done have a lot of promise!
  • There is a crazy amount of violence and evil in Phoenix Island, but that grittiness served to make the suspense real. Phoenix Island demonstrates pretty quick that side characters and even fairly central characters will not be spared from injury and even death.

Weaknesses:

  •  The violence in Phoenix Island went way too far for me, however, to the point that I simply stopped caring. I became desensitized to the horrible things happening to the characters because I knew that worse things would keep happening. It was weird when the suspense is lost because I KNEW that the bad thing would actually happen and I just cringed and tried to get it over with.
  • Half of the island is inhabited by the bootcamp and the other half is separated by a big fence and is so scary even the big, bad drill sergeants are afraid of it. You can’t just throw in a mysterious half of an island and not go explore it! The whole book I was waiting for the kids to escape over the fence and find out what is really out there, but no.
  • Don’t read the blurb if you want to be surprised by anything. It pretty much summarizes Phoenix Island and I freaking hate when they do that!
  • There are lots of weird little things that are included by never explained, and one of them is that the romantic interest has a white patch in her otherwise dark hair. Sure, there are lots of medical reasons why she could have discoloration (it’s not dyed, they shave their heads), but it is never addressed. I really want to know! All she’d have to say is, “Oh yeah, I have this discoloration condition” but no, Anya has to be left in the dark again. I know it sounds small, but it’s a non-spoilerly example of the many strange things that are never explained.

Summary:

Phoenix Island is mostly a thriller about a mercenary bootcamp full of psychos, but it had just enough strange and mysterious elements that I kept hoping it would turn into a sci-fi. The numerous mysteries that remained at the end and seem unlikely to be explained in a sequel drove me nuts and the excessive violence forced me to just stop caring about these characters. If you like boxing, you might like Phoenix Island since Carl was a boxer and there is a lot of fighting where he relies on that skill. Phoenix Island just doesn’t seem to be a good book, even a good thriller, for speculative fiction fans because we expect mysteries to be solved and strangeness to be investigated. I did give it a half-star back, though, since I know I’m not quite the intended audience for Phoenix Island, no worries ;-).

 

3 Stars

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder {3 Stars}

Scent of Magic - Maria V. Snyder

Scent of Magic is the second book in the Healer series by Maria V. Snyder. It is full of epic fantasy world-building, magic and scheming in addition to our favorite love birds ;-). This time around we get a POV from Avry and Kerrick since they spend most of the book off doing separate things. While I really enjoyed finding out more about all the magic powers, the world, and who doesn’t love a good fantasy war, I found that Scent of Magic felt like too much in one book and only hit the surface of a lot of the events I was supposed to care about.

Note: I purchased Scent of Magic and all opinions are my own.

 

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder (Healer #2)
Published by Harlequin MIRA on Dec. 18th, 2012
Genres: FantasyYA 
Length: 414 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again. 

 

Strengths:

  • We get so much world-building and magic in Scent of Magic (appropriate title I guess then!) and I loved it. We find out and VISIT the northern tribes (very unexpected) and see the developing continent-wide war first hand. Scent of Magic did a wonderful job making me really believe in these different countries and factions in the war to come.
  • I love it when fantasy stories set up stereotypes about the “barbarian tribes” and then tear those stereotypes down. It was so refreshing that Scent of Magic showed us that all the stories about the tribes aren’t necessarily true and that *gasp* cultures change and develop over time!
  • There are several big plot twists in Scent of Magic and while I wasn’t really surprised by them (mostly because I hadn’t been motivated to think much about them), I did enjoy the reveals. They made sense and clicked aspects into place, which is always good for a storyline ;-).
  • Normally I don’t enjoy when a series switches to a dual POV, but it helped the plot develop much more smoothly. While some suspense was lost (we know Kerrick isn’t dead since we know what’s going on with him), I really enjoyed the adventure that Kerrick went on on his own.
  • Scent of Magic is really about the friendships and alliances that Avry forms. Kerrick isn’t around much, so there is minimal romance, and it turns out Avry is a fully capable human being without the boy around, woot!

Weaknesses:

  •  Scent of Magic had the odd habit of describing dialogue that was taking place without the actual dialogue happening. So instead of Avry said “Hi!”, it was Avry greeted everyone and then they discussed some stuff. It made me feel very separated from the characters since I was being told after the fact a summary of what happened instead of watching it happen myself, ya know?
  • While there is little romance, there is a lot of pining. Avry and Kerrick are separated and so must declare how much they miss each other every chapter; it’s a requirement ya know.
  • Scent of Magic really feels like it should have been two books. It’s pretty long for YA as it is and there was just such a rushed and summarizing feel in order to get through all the events. I just didn’t feel connected to anything happening because I was reading a report on what happened instead of being drawn in.

Summary:

Scent of Magic does a wonderful job of developing this awesome world and magic system that we were introduced to in Touch of Power. However, it tries to fit so much in that it ended up feeling a bit rushed and cursory fairly often. I enjoyed aspects such as Avry’s friendships and Kerrick’s exploration a lot, but I just wish that I could have been shown what was happening instead of told.

 

3 Stars

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore {4 Stars}

Bitterblue - Ian Schoenherr, Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore is the conclusion to the Graceling trilogy and I’m definitely late to the game on this one ;-). I listened to the entire trilogy on audiobook though and do recommend them if you’re like me and still catching up on this awesome fantasy series! One of the big things to know about Bitterblue and the previous books, however, is that they are much more like companion novels than a continuous trilogy. Each book is about a different character and while Bitterblue relies on events that occurred previously, it’s set years in the future and so you probably could easily read it without having read the previous books. I listened to the previous two books over a year ago and only kind of remember them, so it worked out for me in any case ;-).

Note: I listened to Bitterblue on audio and that definitely influences my opinion on the book.

 

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore 
Narrated by Xanthe Elbrick
(Graceling Realm #3)
Published by Dial on May 1st, 2012
Genres: FantasyYA 
Length: 563 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea, still under the influence of her father Leck, a violent psychopath who altered minds. Her advisers want to pardon evildoers and forget everything, but she sees the past holds fast. Two thieves, who only steal what has been stolen, hold the truth and change her life. One, his Grace skill unidentified, has a key to her heart. 

 

Strengths:

  • Bitterblue is a much different book than Fire and Graceling, which made me happy. I was impressed that Cashore was able to write such a character-driven book without her typical kick-butt heroine from the previous books.
  • I loved that Bitterblue brought the whole trilogy together even though it is set so apart from the other books. Katsa and Fire both play big roles and a lot of the questions we were left with about a certain evil mind-reader are pursued in Bitterblue.
  • I loooooved the mysteries of Bitterblue City and all of the strange things that Bitterblue keeps encountering and needs to figure out. Bitterblue the girl is also so like me in her need to make lists to figure out how everything fits together ;-). Lists are the best!
  • Bitterblue is pretty low on the romance but it was just the right amount for me. I enjoyed that Bitterblue had priorities other than a pretty boy given that she is a queen and all! That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have feelings that she has to deal with on her down time though ;-).
  • Bitterblue has a great narrator who fit Bitterblue’s character quite well. While Graceling is full-cast audio, Bitterblue has just one narrator, which seems to be a bit more common.
  • Since the book is so character driven, it was pretty important for Bitterblue to be a strong character and I enjoyed her a lot! She is smart and strong, but very realistic in her difficulties of ruling a country that has been torn apart by the previous king, not to mention the horrors that she and her mother endured when her father was still ruling.

Weaknesses:

  •  The plot is kind of all over the place given the character-driven nature of Bitterblue. I didn’t really know what the actual plot was going to end up being until half-way through I’d say. Things just kind of happen for a while.
  • After 2/3 of the book, Bitterblue gets SUPER TRIGGERY. Horrible things happened during Leck’s rule, including physical and sexual abuse to an absolutely terrifying degree. It was difficult to listen to sections where these things were revealed so be sure you are prepared.
  • The narrator’s voices for different characters were inconsistent, which disappointed me. I like it when I can realize which character is talking just by the voice, but that wasn’t the case with Bitterblue.
  • Despite my general approval of Bitterblue’s character, she can get a bit whiny at times. I just wanted her to toughen up a bit here and there, but I guess I wouldn’t have been much better given the situation >.>.

Summary:

Bitterblue is a very interesting conclusion to the Graceling trilogy. It’s quite different than the previous books, focusing on a character-driven plot with a very different heroine than Katsa and Fire. However, I still enjoyed Bitterblue for being different and for pulling the three books together in a rather fresh way. With the huge number of connected trilogies out there, it was fun to listen to three books that each stood on their own and were simply based in the same world. I wouldn’t say Bitterblue was my favorite of the three (Fire is for the record), but I’m very glad that I’ve finally finished these books!

Fragile Brilliance by Tammy Blackwell {4 Stars}

Fragile Brilliance (Shifters & Seers) (Volume 1) - Tammy Blackwell

Fragile Brilliance by Tammy Blackwell is the start of a new series set in the same world as her Timber Wolves books. This means more awesome werewolves, werecoyotes, and Seers, plus new characters and college :D. I read Fragile Brilliance at the perfect time since it’s pretty heavy on the romance and I was very much craving happy relationship feelings ;-). I like that Blackwell is branching out from her original style and I think that Fragile Brilliance will appeal to YA readers looking for more of a paranormal romance feel with witty writing and female characters with backbones (shocking right??)! I very much recommend that you read the Timber Wolves series before Fragile Brilliance though, since otherwise you really won’t have a good grounding in all the heavy events the characters are dealing with.

Note: I received Fragile Brilliance from the author in exchange for an honest review. I read an advanced copy and some things might be different in the final version.

Purchase on Amazon: Fragile Brilliance

 

Fragile Brilliance by Tammy Blackwell (Shifters & Seers #1)
Published by Author on Nov 26th, 2013
Genres: Paranormal RomanceUrban FantasyYA 
Length: 339 pages
Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Maggie McCray has worked her whole life for the opportunity to attend Sanders College. It’s her one chance at becoming a world-renowned artist, and she’s determined nothing will get in her way. But when a murder brings Maggie and her powers to the attention of the Alpha Pack and the tragically handsome Charlie Hagan, her carefully planned future hangs in jeopardy.

Charlie Hagan isn’t happy when the Alpha Female assigns him as Maggie McCray’s personal bodyguard. Just being near the Thaumaturgic threatens to unleash the primal instincts he’s been suppressing for so long. Charlie knows if the coyote is uncaged, then the person he’ll most need to protect Maggie from is himself. 

 

Strengths:

  • Maggie is our new MC and I loved her so much. It’s great to see a POC as a lead character first of all, but Maggie is so much more than her ethnicity obviously. She has her own fashion style, loves her grandmother, is an amazing artist, and, oh yeah, has magic powers :D. She’s also strong in her own way, too smart for all the rich kids at her college, and determined to make her own way in life. Love this girl!
  • If you’ve read the Timber Wolves books, you’ll know Charlie is a severely broken person at this point. Even if you haven’t read the other series, Fragile Brilliance makes this clear right away. While at first he freaked me out a bit, I quickly transitioned to wishing so badly that I could help him somehow. Blackwell captured the profound lack of emotions that goes along with deep depression quite well. I enjoyed the fact that all the characters from Timber Wolves, including Charlie, were obviously deeply affected by previous events and didn’t just get over it all, which seems to happen in a lot of series.
  • We’ve heard very little about Thaumaturgics previously and we finally get to find out more in Fragile Brilliance :D. How you ask? Mwahahaha, just wait ;-).
  • The feels! Fragile Brilliance has a very central romance plot line and while I’m normally not all that into romance-heavy stories, I ate this one up! Charlie and Maggie felt like friends of mine and at times I just wanted to lock them in a room together, but it was that connection that made me happy to boot up my eReader and sink a couple more hours into their story each night. Maggie is a very different character than Scout and I loved cheering her on.
  • Speaking of Scout! Scout is of course in Fragile Brilliance as a side character and she still is always able to entertain me. There is a whole lot going on for her given the events of the Timber Wolves books and it was interesting to see her new life from an outsider’s perspective. I hope things work out *sniffles*.
  • I freaking love ceramics for the record. When I realized that Maggie was a ceramics specialist, there might have been some bouncing. I have only gotten to throw pots once in college, but it was a lot of fun reading about Maggie’s studio work and living vicariously through her work >.>.

Weaknesses:

  •  I normally enjoy Blackwell’s pop culture references, but there were a few too many for me in Fragile Brilliance and I feel old because I didn’t get some of them >.>.
  • Fragile Brilliance is much more of a romance story than the Timber Wolves series was, so just be warned that it has a different feel than those previous books. I hadn’t quite been expecting this, so I don’t want others to be blindsided.
  • I get kind of annoyed when all the characters are beautiful…. At one point when Maggie is first encountering all the shifters and seers, she’s describing all our old friends and basically declares every single one beautiful. Is this a shifter and seer thing? I mean, I love that Tally isn’t model thin and is still considered beautiful by Maggie and everyone else, but can’t we have some not gorgeous characters that are awesome for their strength and charisma?

Summary:

Fragile Brilliance is an excellent paranormal romance in that it has a romance-heavy plot but still introduces us to new aspects of this world and has a deep and disturbing mystery to solve. I really enjoyed being in Charlie and Maggie’s heads while they figured things out, though I’m hoping that we get to find out more about Maggie and her family in the subsequent books. Definitely pick up Fragile Brilliance if you enjoyed the Timber Wolves series, but be in the mood for a romance ;-).

The Thief - Enjoyable

The Thief - Megan Whalen Turner

I'm not going to do a full review of this one, but I have heard many times that the rest of the series is even better than The Thief, so I'll be continuing and reviewing later books! The Thief felt very much like a set-up/world-building book to prep for the rest of the series, which was what I had heard it would be as well. I like Gen and I enjoyed the twist at the end, but I found myself a little bored through most of The Thief. I'm excited to read the rest of the series though :D.

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette {3 Stars}

Dark Star - Bethany Frenette

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette is somewhere between a superhero and a demon-hunter book with a teenage protagonist whose mom is the one with the superpowers. For some reason I thought Dark Star was going to have aliens, I don’t know why, maybe the star part? Anyway, more demons than aliens, though it’s debatable. While I did read Dark Star in one day, I found myself pretty meh about it the whole time. Also that cover angers me.

Note: I borrowed Dark Star from my library of awesomeness.

 

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette (Dark Star #1)
Published by Disney Hyperion on Oct. 23rd, 2012
Genres: Urban FantasyYA 
Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it's hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she's lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human--something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn't fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers--livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person's memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers' next move. But Leon, her mother's bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won't let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything--and everyone--she loves. 

 

Strengths:

  • The aliens/demons thing is because the bad critters are a race from before the existence of the universe. Totally could have been aliens right?? Anyway, the origin story about the Harrowers and the super-powered Kin was fun to read :).
  • I was a fan of Audrey’s friends and I love it when secondary characters win my heart.
  • Audrey has psychic powers and I thought that they were done well. She has limits, she is still developing her ability to control and understand her power, and the way Knowings come to her worked well for me.
  • When a couple of the reveals happened, they made a lot of sense in retrospect. I wasn’t all OMG, but more along the lines of “Oooohhhh, yeah that makes sense” ;-).
  • Dark Star takes place in Minneapolis/The Twin Cities, a place where I lived for a while, and it’s fairly accurate! There is a quote about snow that amused me, hehe.

Weaknesses:

  •  The cover makes no sense. Am I missing something?? The black sweat-shirt with the star is Audrey’s mother’s superhero outfit and she has blonde hair if I recall correctly. Audrey never wears her mom’s sweatshirt! This doesn’t make sense and I’ve spent way too many braincells trying to figure it out D:
  • I’m honestly getting sick of the demons thing. They are just such an easy villain you know, they are evil by default, we need to kill them by default. I would have liked if the Harrowers weren’t equated to demons and instead just stayed the Harrowers.
  • I was so hopeful that there wouldn’t be a romance. Then at the VERY end two people are suddenly in love with each other. Am I the only one who didn’t see that coming AT ALL??
  • I hate when characters, even teenagers, make stupid decisions like not calling 911 or their superhero mom and doing things on their own that are obviously not going to go well.
  • Audrey of course becomes special and important at the end and it felt quite forced to me. I was a fan of her just being the daughter and curious and wanting to help. Why did she need to suddenly be special??

Summary:

Dark Star is kind of your typical good vs. evil set in the modern day type of story. If you’re just really excited to read something straight forward of that variety, go for it, but it’s really nothing special. I’ll be reading the sequel Burn Bright because I already have a review copy, so we’ll see if things change!

 

3 Stars

Ironskin by Tina Connolly {5 Stars}

Ironskin - Tina Connolly

Ironskin by Tina Connolly is a Nebula-nominated retelling of Jane Eyre set in an alternate history where a war against the fey has just come to an end and the technology that depends on fey power is slowly sputtering away. Seriously, you read that right: steampunk Jane Eyre with creepy fey. I was a little bit skeptical if Ironskin could live up to that awesome description but it did not disappoint! I wasn’t a huge Jane Eyre fan when I read it in high school, but Ironskin has made me love Jane Eyre more and kind of want to go reread it….

Note: I borrowed Ironskin from my library because my library is awesome.

 

Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Ironskin #1)
Published by Tor Books on Oct. 2nd, 2012
Genres: Dark FantasyFairytale Retelling,Steampunk 
Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog 

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation"—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again. 

 

Strengths:

  • Let’s just start with Jane Eyre! Yes yes, we’re all forced to read it in high school, but if you take a step back, it’s a pretty awesome story. Ironskin captures the elements of Jane Eyre that I think high school teachers try to get across, and I actually feel like I understand Jane Eyre a bit better after reading Ironskin. Also, I freaking love Jane Eliot, she’s embodies the things I love about Jane Eyre (spunky, tough, working within a difficult situation and making the best of it, no-nonsense) and adds her own strength due to the fey war. She is a warrior! One of my favorite quotes from Ironskin is from Jane on this topic:

“A defeated warrior is not a victim.”

  • The alternative historical setting was so fascinating! There were all sorts of excellent touches such as different names for Shakespeare’s plays because of the tragedy the fey caused. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is A Midsummer Night’s Tragedy, which kind of conveys how people feel about the fey pretty well.
  • The creepy elements of Ironskin pulled me in immediately. There is a just right amount of creepy that I can handle. Too much and I go to sleep with nightmares, but Ironskin made me just want to keep reading to try to understand what was going on!
  • I am a strong believer that fey should be creepy. I’m not generally a fan of this trend of sexy and nice fey, and Ironskin really gets back to those creepy roots. It’s creepy when a being can seduce and manipulate you but doesn’t consider your life important beyond how entertaining you can be!
  • Especially towards the end of Ironskin, there were a couple moments where I just stared at the page and thought “OMG did that just happen??? No way did that actually happen, I must have read it wrong… OMG it did just happen!!!!” I like those moments >.>
  • Rochester is called Rochart and Ironskin has the same romantic storyline that Jane Eyre has, which I very much enjoyed. Their interest in each other is subtle because it has to be due to class differences, but then everything comes together at the end when craziness happens!

Weaknesses:

  •  There are a number of times when the dialogue doesn’t have character names attached to it and I get so confused. I don’t like needing to go back and try to trace through who said what.
  • The ending of Ironskin departs from Jane Eyre quite a bit and it disappointed me since I can see how Ironskin could have continued with the Jane Eyre retelling but just didn’t.
  • There are dwarves in Ironskin and they play a fairly important role, but I was kind of meh about them. It seemed an unnecessary addition. Now if there were dragons that appeared…. ;-)

Summary:

When Ironskin was nominated for the Nebula last year, I thought the cover was gorgeous but said meh to the Jane Eyre retelling. I was so wrong! Ironskin does an amazing job at breathing fresh air into a classic story with some crazy awesome additions in the fey. Also that gorgeous cover, totally an accurate depiction of Jane down to the shoes! I’m so happy that Copperhead appeared in my mailbox, causing me to decide to finally read this series. Seriously, read this book.

 

5 Stars

Currently reading

Two
LeighAnn Kopans
Horizon
Jenn Reese
The 5th Wave
Rick Yancey
The Way of Kings
Brandon Sanderson