Monday, June 29, 2015

Book 78: Control

Control, by Lydia Kang

Usually I don't like books that revolve around genetic tampering, but I liked this one because the heroine is interesting and the story was atypical. I also dislike dystopian novels, but this one grew on me because the setting and the story were different.

The United States has fractured into combinations of states, like Nebraska-Kansas, or Iowa-Missour. The heroine and her sister were raised by their doctor father and the family moves every 10 months or so. Not just to a new house but to a different state/country.

After an unfortunate accident the two girls learn who and what they really are, meet people who care about them and people who just want to use them, and learn who their father really was.

This book is a keeper.

Book 77: Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire, by Josephine Angelini

The best part of this ARC (advanced reader copy) was the way it was packaged. A book inside a box with two covers. 

First it's all fire (left). Check out the eye looking through the flames.

Lift the flap, and it's about a girl walking through fire. (right)

Then you get dull (below).

Salem, Massachusetts. Lily is weird. Her usual body temperature is very high (get it, fire). Allergies threaten her life on a daily basis, but she refuses to let them control her. She's indomitable. What she sees in Tristan is lost on me.

Then there's another world, where things are exciting and witches really exist. Lillian is in that world, and she's powerful big bad nasty scary and many other adjectives. 

This book flunked my test. I read the first thirty pages, the last thirty and didn't care about anything in between. Amazon says it's the first in a new trilogy. You wouldn't know it from this ARC.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book 76:The Warded Man

The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett

Everyone at GHPALS liked this book but no one wants to read the sequel after reading the synopsis on Amazon. It takes a direction different than the ones we envisioned.

In this book the reader learns about a world where humans are terrified of the demons that come out at sundown (but leave at sunrise). People hide behind webs of magical wards. They don't know how they work, just that they do when made correctly, and maintained. Only a few very brave, and highly paid, men travel between inhabited areas by camping at night inside a ring of warded plates strung together. Consequently the villages, towns and hamlets are isolated. Human population is naturally decreasing under the constant demon attacks.

Three children grow to adulthood in the course of the book, each ready to help change the balance of power between humans and demons. More importantly, they are poised to help change the attitudes of their fellow humans from cowering in fear to fighting back. Our PALs liked all three of them.

Book 75: Rise of the Horde (World of Warcraft)

World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde, by Christie Golden

This book explains how the noble orc clans were transformed into the orcs in the World of Warcraft game. Back stories are nice and enhance the game, but an orc is an orc. Hordes of them are awful. This book isn't.

Book 74: Phoenix Island

Phoenix Island, by John Dixon

One has to admire Carl Freeman in a way, though he has bad judgement and no self-control. A champion boxer, he just can't stand by while someone is being bullied. A judge sees his potential and sends him to Phoenix Island instead of jail.

There the book goes south. Phoenix Island is your typical secret military training camp in a jungle full of lethal creatures on an island in a shark-infested sea.

There's the usual fight with the big bad, but not a typical ending, and that almost redeemed the book. 

Book 73: The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson

This book is a cross between Phil Foglio's fabulous  Girl Genius Online Comics and the later books in the Wizard of Oz series. Two rural kingdoms, a girl with a secret and another who helps her. Nice ending. Not a sequel in sight. Love the mechanically inclined heroine. She's a great role model.

Book 72 : Glass Houses

Glass Houses, by Rachel Caine

The PAL who picked this book had read the first volume in the Weather Warden series. She'd liked the premise of it, that humans with special skills protect the rest of us from mother nature, but lost interest after the ending. The heroine should have stayed human.

But she digresses.

Heroine Claire, 16-year-old girl genius whose parents won't let her go to the ivy league colleges that want her (she's too young) winds up at Texas Prairie University menaced by a pack of mean girls in the dorm. Fleeing, she finds new lodging in a weird mansion with 3 strange roommates.

By the way, the town is full of vampires but no one outside the city limits knows it. Unless you wear a special bracelet you're not protected. Claire gets hold of a book the vamps want & her home is attacked.

So here's our big question. If Amelie doesn't want other vamps to know her secrets, why did she write them down? No one in the book asked her.

The book ends in a real cliff hanger–a knife plunging down on a main character. By then we didn't care.

Book 71 : Scan

Scan, by Walter Jury & Sarah Fine

There are too many books about families with a secret heritage where the parents don't educate their kids about that heritage until it is too late. This is one of them.

That is so stupid. Parents, tell your kids what they're in for. Prepare them from the beginning, don't spring it on them. That's like the British Royal Family neglecting to tell a boy he's a prince. Keeping it a secret while training them for some "trust me you'll need this" future just results in rebellious surly unprepared kids. And probably gets you dead because they can't back you up.

The coolest character in this book is Christina the girlfriend. I really liked her because she kept her head when things got rough and pulled her boyfriend & father out of the firing line when they needed her most. 

The book ends too abruptly. Like someone decided to cut a page in half. Guess it's a set up for a sequel.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book 70: Sanctum

Sanctum, by Madeleine Roux

This book is the sequel to Asylum, which our PAL had not read. You don't need to read the first book to understand everything that goes on in this book, thankfully.

Sanctum is illustrated with real carnival photographs, not ones taken for this book. Since we had an ARC the photos were grainy but you could see enough to tell they were interesting.

Three about-to-apply-to-college teens return to the scene of a big-time summer trauma because a nutso fellow trauma victim said they needed to go back. Since the three teens are having nightmares (understandably, once you find out what happened). Naturally the main character doesn't tell his parents where he's going. As you would expect, things don't go well.

This is one college you would not want your children to attend. If you were a student, you wouldn't want to go there either. It's a real turn off to have a dorm that used to be an insane asylum.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Book 69: Alistair Grim's Odditorium

Alistair Grim's Odditorium, by Gregory Funaro

Hooray! A book that isn't the first one in a trilogy! One that stands on its own, with a satisfying, complete ending. Thank you, Mr. Funaro.

This is a great book for Harry Potter lovers. Its setting is Dickensian England, moving from a rural area to London. A poor chimney sweep and his wife find a baby at their hovel's door and take it in. The boy is given the name Grubb with 2 B's because all wrapped up in swaddling clothes he looks like one. Told the Yellow Fairy left him, Grubb has a pleasant life, for a peasant, until his foster mother dies and he is forced to become an apprentice chimney sweep. Finally he runs away from a pair of bullies and his life is changed forever when he finds himself in Alistair Grimm's Odditorium.

And what a place it is, full of gadgets, gizmos, magical things and very interesting characters. It's fantasy crossed with steampunk and Charles Dickens, with humor. We liked it.