Category Archives: Uncategorized

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

scythe coverHumanity has conquered death and achieved immortality. Because disease, hunger, war, or crime no longer exist, a special sect called the Scythedom is created to control the population. They exist to kill, and are the only ones capable of ending a life. Teenagers Citra and Rowan become unwilling apprentices to a man named Scythe Faraday. Though they both initially struggle with the idea of becoming killers, they soon discover they must learn this new terrible skill set to keep themselves alive.

Initially, I struggled with this novel. To be honest, I’m never sure I entirely bought in to the utopia concept of immortality and the Thunderhead – the name for what “the cloud” becomes, an omniscient over-seer essentially in control of all life on Earth. But eventually I became so invested in the story of Citra and Rowan that it didn’t matter that I didn’t buy in to the Thunderhead, I still loved the story. The Scythedom, the professional assassins in charge of “gleaning” the population is becoming more corrupt with each passing year – as you can imagine would happen to a group with no oversight and members who live for several centuries. Citra and Rowan get caught up in this corruption, one on the side of the “new guard” who yearns for change and the permission to glean as many lives as they want in whatever manner they choose. The other ends up on the side of the “old guard” who would never consider killing for sport and understand the importance and solemnity of their jobs. The difference between these two groups and watching Citra and Rowan figure out how they fit in along with all the other struggles that go along with being a scythe was fascinating.

Of course there was a love story – its YA fiction, after all. But it didn’t overwhelm the story – it was almost an afterthought, and was written in a believable way that didn’t take away from either character, especially Citra the female leading lady. The supporting characters were nicely developed. I wanted to know more about Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie, two scythes who lived for centuries and had much more story to tell than we got in this book. Perhaps we will see more of them in the next book. We have a long wait though – the expected publication is 2018!

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Recommended for YA Sci-Fi fans, though at times you need a bit of a strong stomach. 4 stars out of 5. Pick this one up if you get a chance, the series is only going to get better from here.

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Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

night shiftStrange things are happening in Midnight, Texas. Stranger than usual, that is. People are traveling to the crossroads in the middle of the town to commit suicide. Resident vampire Lemuel believes the answer to this epidemic can be found in the old books from the pawn shop, including a book about all the magical and paranormal places in North America. The bad news is the books are written in Etruscan, and Lemuel has to translate them fast before whatever weird force beneath the crossroads starts effecting more than just Midnight.

There were things I both liked and disliked about this book. On one hand, we learned more of Lemuel’s story, which I had been waiting for since the first time he was mentioned. He isn’t your typical vampire, feeding off of both blood and energy. He was also quiet and pretty much left alone by the other people in town in the first two books. Being in his head was interesting, but not particularly unexpected.

The demon-under-the-crossroads story line was interesting. I liked that the whole town had to come together to stop him. I thought the virgin sex ritual was a little awkward, and it’s not like you couldn’t figure out who Fiji was going to pick for her big moment from several chapters in advance. Unfortunately, I thought the whole book was a bit rushed. I discovered after reading that Harris intends this to be the last Midnight, Texas book in a trilogy. Which made the whole thing make a lot more sense. All the explanations were very rushed, and didn’t entirely match up with the setup in the first two books. I was especially bothered by the Teacher/Olivia plot line, which came out of nowhere and ended with Olivia acting rather out of character. I felt like all these characters had a lot more story left to tell, and while I didn’t necessarily want this to turn into a never-ending series like the Sookie Stackhouse series, which I eventually stopped reading, I did think the wrap ups for each character was cookie cutter, uninteresting, and left too many unanswered questions. I hope Harris will change her mind and write more books in this series, because I love these characters and I don’t want this to be the end for them.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

I don’t even know where to begin with this…story (I hesitate to even call it a book). Hang on, yes I do. WHY is this book called Wings if the “thing” growing out of Laurel’s back is a flower and she can’t fly?! This bothered me more than almost anything else in this book, and A LOT of things bothered me.

Ugh I can’t believe I read this entire book. Maybe I kept hoping it would start making sense? I should have given up as soon as the main character figured out she was a plant. A PLANT! A walking, talking, human-shaped PLANT, who has of course the perfect looks, blonde hair, doesn’t need to eat anything ever. What? First of all, that’s not how plants work. And I don’t mean the obvious part – walking, talking – I mean the getting “food” part. Plants don’t eat peaches for sustenance. At least not in any science class I’ve ever taken. Pretty sure they need roots for that sort of thing, which a walking plant would not have. Additionally, I have read quite a few things about faerie lore, and while yes they are always associated with plants, they aren’t walking talking plants. Allow me to reiterate: UGH!

And another thing. How convenient that for these people-shaped-plant-things, “sex is just for fun.” A detail which, by the way, had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the plot. Which to be honest there wasn’t much of to begin with… I mean, this could have been a cool story with Laurel’s family owning the land with the Gate to Faerie, and needing to brainwash a changeling to try to protect it. If the faeries weren’t, ya know, PLANTS! I wanted desperately to enjoy that plot arc. I even tried to talk myself into getting over the whole plant thing. (PLANTS!!) But alas. The rest of the story was driven by a ridiculous love triangle. I can’t handle female characters whose love triangle consists of them literally flirting with two men (males? what do you call a outrageously good-looking boy plant?) at the same time. In the same car. So within like 5 feet of each other. And they’re both madly in love with her even though they barely know her. Guess it helps when you’re really really ridiculously good looking, huh? No one cares that you’re a plant-person that doesn’t bleed. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.

I wouldn’t recommend this book. Choose a better piece of faerie literature instead. Sorry. I don’t usually write such negative reviews because I know there is a real live person out there who wrote the book and whose feelings would be hurt if they read it. But I just can’t find anything redeeming about this one. Maybe the next one in the series will be better? I won’t be reading it, but hey if it is, someone let me know.

May harmony find you.
-Branwen

Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl

beautiful creatures coverEthan just wants something exciting to happen to him. Nothing ever changes in Gatlin. Link has been his best friend since he was five. He lives with his housekeeper Amma who he is pretty sure believes in voodoo, and his father, who hasn’t come out of his study since his mother died five months ago. Then, Ethan starts having dreams of a mysterious girl he desperately needs to save. He doesn’t think much of them, until a new girl shows up in Gatlin, the first new girl in years. Her name is Lena Duchannes. She has moved into the oldest and most mysterious plantation in Gatlin. She has secrets, lots of them–and she’s the girl from Ethan’s dreams.

Beautiful Creatures is the first book in the Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Lena is a Caster, and on her 16th birthday she will be Claimed by either the Light or the Dark, she has no choice about what sort of Caster she will be. Ethan, a Mortal, falls in love with her, and despite the advice from everyone who knows better, is convinced he can help Lena find a way to change her fate. While this was not the most original story line I have ever read, I did like it. I always enjoy stories like this told from the boy, or non-magical character’s POV. I think I enjoyed the book mostly because I liked Ethan and how he acted and reacted to his extraordinary circumstances, like finding out about magic, and that even his mother’s best friend is not just what she appears. I also liked Lena and her love of writing poetry, even though she would whine a little too much for me to handle sometimes. The first half of the book was a little slow and drug on at some points…was it really necessary to describe how evil the other girls at Gatlin high school were so many times? They were awfully stereotypical and I got tired of hearing about them after awhile. I could have done with less information about the Sisters as well, since they didn’t seem to have any purpose at all. Perhaps in the next novel?

This book wasn’t the best YA novel I have ever read, but I did like it and would like to read the next one just to see what happens. There were lots of unanswered questions. Some unanswered questions are fine, but this book went a little over board. And still so many secrets! We’ll see how all that works out in the next few books I guess.

I’ll be honest, I read this book because when I went to see The Hobbit (have you seen the Hobbit yet? You should if you haven’t!) I saw a preview for the movie based on this book, and I wanted to read it before I saw it. I actually think, if done well, this might make a better movie than book. There’s certainly plenty of action and intrigue. I’m looking forward to it.

Happy reading!

-Branwen

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

My first review, and one of my favorites, Hounded by Kevin Hearne.

Kevin Hearne’s Hounded is the first in a series of urban fantasy novels called The Iron Druid Chronicles. The book is a refreshingly new sort of fantasy novel, with a leading male character, written by a man. The novel is fast-paced, witty, and fun.

Atticus O’Sullivan appears to be a young, college-aged Irish lad, but in fact he is a 2100-year-old Druid, and the last one left. He owns a bookstore in Tempe, Arizona called Third Eye Books, where he sells Tarot cards and special teas to college students and other community members who had no idea that the teas they are drinking are more than just tasty. He lives in a small house with an herb garden out back, and he mows his neighbor’s (who, by the way, is a little old Irish lady who hates Brits) lawn. He can talk to his Irish wolfhound Oberon (which is one of my favorite parts. Who doesn’t want to talk to their dog?). His lawyers are as other-worldly as he is. One is a vampire who is almost–but not quite– as old as he is, and the other is second-in-command of the local werewolf pack.

In this story, Atticus is being hunted by one of the leaders of the fae–yes, faeries are real in this world, but not the cute winged fairies like Tinkerbell–who has been after him for several centuries. The faerie god, Aenghus Og, first sends his minions after Atticus, including giants, and a faerie hit squad, which he must defeat with his brave dog, a motley collection of allies, and a variety of spiffy Druid talents. Eventually, Atticus and Aenghus Og have a showdown, and only one survives.

This book could be described as “typical” urban fantasy in that fae, vampires, werewolves, witches, gods, and just about every other magical creature you can imagine are real, and it takes place in present day. However, the book is different from your average fantasy novel in that is spends more time on the plot and developing the characters than the relationship between the main character and their significant other, as do many fantasy novels. There are several female characters, but none of them can really be considered leads. Several characters are introduced, more than one may think would be wise for the first novel in the series, but the reader always learns enough about the characters to remember who’s who and what’s what. The lines between good and evil are not firmly drawn, which adds to the excitement.

This book was written as an adult novel, but it is appropriate for young adults as well. The novel is surprisingly “clean” of profanity and sex, which are usually large parts of many urban fantasy novels.  The novel is filled with pop culture references, including “frakkin’ cylons” “Hatori Hanzo” swords, and “golden protocol droids.” If you are looking for a light, fun, and entertaining read that is sure to have you laughing out loud, then Hounded is for you.

Reviews for the next few books in the series will be posted soon, to get ready for the release of the fifth book in the series in November!

Happy reading,

-Branwen

Welcome!

Welcome to my new book review blog! I will be reviewing both YA and adult fantasy and paranormal books by a variety of authors. You may occasionally find some suspense/mystery books reviewed here as well. The first review will be posted soon!

In the meantime, check out my list of favorite books!

Happy reading!

-Branwen