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Antigoddess - Kendare Blake

In Kendare Blake's Antigoddess, the Greek gods of myth are alive and, well, dying. While some scamper to survive and turn cannibal, Athena and her brother Hermes seek out answers and a means of protecting themselves from the war soon in coming. This was my first Blake read and, while there were elements I disliked, I enjoyed the overall story and its one MC, Athena. She was my favorite Greek character during my Greek myth phase in middle school, and I liked seeing this older, modern-world version of her.


What I liked:

  • The modern twist on Greek mythology. It's not the new original character "children of gods" or (more than one) god in high school, but the actual Greek gods, complete with the grudges of the past.
  • Athena. I'm not sure this story would have worked as well with any other goddess. She's a strange, dangerous mix of wise, but inexperienced; caring, but harshly realistic and practical; weak and tired, yet angry and strong. She refuses to die. She cannot imagine giving up and wasting away. She is determined to overcome or die trying.
  • Oddly enough, the romance. It wasn't overbearing and took backseat when more important matters arose. Aidan and Cassandra fit well without being lovesick teenagers. And using romance, or the threat thereof, to develop the character of the goddess of battle and wisdom (and make her uncomfortable)? Yes. :D
  • Characters die! Seriously, part of the synopsis is that the gods are dying. Somebody had to die or I would have felt jipped.



What I didn't like:

  • The characters seem to be focusing too much on what I what I would call the symptoms. I want to know the root cause of the gods dying! Which, I know, is probably being saved for later, but still. I want to know now.
  • A lot of "coincidences." I'm reserving judgment as I get the feeling this is part of a bigger picture and will be explained in the next book(s).
  • We're a little too removed from the main villains. We don't see them up close much and they don't play a really active role. It didn't bother me a ton as this is an interesting character driven story, but a little more direct involvement from the main baddies would have helped make the fear of them more understandable.
  • It's a small thing, but I was thrown when the author threw in that "his tastes rarely ran toward women" line. It doesn't match any of the character's behavior/dialogue in the story (or his original mythology, I think). It comes out of nowhere, like the author was filling her politically correct quota for the day and/or tossed it in to ensure readers don't suspect/look for any romance between Athena and Hermes. These are the Greek gods, after all.
  • Language. It was all going pretty smoothly, nothing major, nothing much; then a certain Brit says the f-word once and the floodgates opened. You're thousands of years old! Why don't you have larger vocabularies?



Final Thoughts:

I am definitely willing to read the next book and see where the author takes this story...and which desperate, dying gods she'll bring into play next. If you're interested in Greek mythology with a modern twist, you'll probably enjoy Antigoddess. It's not the most unbelievably awesome book in the world, but it's an easy, fun read.

Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells eARC (2.5 stars)

Emilie and the Sky World - Martha Wells

This copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.


When I requested this title on NetGalley, I somehow completely overlooked that it was the second in a series. As the first book was not readily available and the publication date was fast approaching, I decided to read the book as was and review it based on its own merits. (Theoretically, books in a series, while enriched by their predecessors, should mostly stand well enough alone.) So, big disclaimer moment: I have NOT read the first book. This review is based on the second only.



What I liked:

  • The "other life forms" are not at all humanoid or humans with pointy ears, and there are translation difficulties. You hear that Star Trek?
  • Emilie is an overall likable protagonist. She has young, impetuous moments, and smarter, calculated moments. She has emotional ups and downs, but it feels realistic instead of swinging from extremes.
  • The family themes/aspects. Emilie's family troubles are moved aside when more important matters arise, but the room for emotional growth and reconciliation was a nice touch.


What I didn't like:

  • I could mostly picture the world, and the descriptions are pretty good, but I wanted to know more about how the technology and the aether worked. Two possible culprits: Emily doesn't know/care and/or the author explained most of it in the first book. Either way, I felt a bit in the dark.
  • The narration. Until a third of the way in, Emily's perspective seems to play leap frog with a less personal, more removed third person perspective, and she fades into the background when too many other characters are present/speaking. After that first third, Emily's voice and thoughts become more apparent.
  • Emilie's relationship speculation moment. We've just found out something major about the bad guy(s) and two pages later, Emilie is hoping that the doctor and his ex-wife didn't break up because he was still in love with Mr. So-and-so. I was like, wha? I know it was one paragraph, but it was jarring to me for several reasons: 1) I didn't read that in the doctor's dialogue. I was thinking, where did this come from? 2) It seemed out of place in a somewhat Victorian world, and 3) Emilie rarely wastes time speculating on other people's relationships. (She's usually too stuck in her own family drama, and romantic entanglements have even rarer appearances.) Why did she start now?



Final Thoughts:

On the one hand, I'd like to go back and read the first book and see if it fills in some of the information gaps. On the other, while the story was pretty well written and intriguing, I didn't get attached to any of the characters, which makes me a little apathetic about picking up another in this series. Still, if you like sky-ships or a Victorian sort-of steampunk with a dash of magic, you'll probably enjoy.

Vitro by Jessica Khoury (2 stars)

Vitro - Jessica Khoury

In Vitro by Jessica Khoury, Sophie is out to find her mad-scientist mother, but both she and her childhood friend-turned-pilot Jim get more than they bargained for when Skin Island won't let them go. I was conflicted on rating this one. It was a little like whipped cream, I think- tasty, and you get it quickly, but not much substance and it doesn't stay with you.

What I liked:
It was a quick read. Despite some slow moments, the plot keep a fairly quick pace.

Although I had several hunches that turned out to be right, I was curious to see which plot paths the author would take. It kept me reading on.

What I didn't like:
I never really cared about any of the characters. Life-changing secrets come to light? Meh. Close scrape? Turn page. Character death? Yawn.

Underused character(s). The evil could have been so effective, but it got limited screen time and when it was there, it was too simple. What happened to complex villains? There were also some side characters I would have liked to see do more.

Final Thoughts:
I think I breezed through Vitro as quickly as I did because it was like TV- quick, easy, lots of action/plot, limited emotional/mental investment. (And I caught myself avoiding my current review book and knew I needed to get reading again.) The science ideas were semi-interesting, but I didn't connect to anyone or anything. I may read the next book in this set of companion novels(?), but it would probably be as another palate cleanser.

For more reviews, tomfoolery and book talk, check out my blog, Booked til Tuesday.

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (3 stars)

The Princess Curse - Merrie Haskell

I've been searching for a good 12 Dancing Princesses retelling. I loved Wildwood Dancing and it's a fairy tale you can take in so many directions. The Princess Curse is an interesting blend of the 12 Princesses, Beauty and the Beast and the story of Persephone. It isn't the totally amazing retelling I was hoping for, but, despite its flaws, I liked it. (The nice cover art doesn't hurt either.)


What I liked:

  • I like that the author draws out the dark, Persephone undertones in this twist on the 12 Dancing Princesses. The Greek elements work pretty well.
  • The protagonist, Reveka, has future aspirations beyond what is usual for her station, but she is also practical and aware of her likely future. Overall, she is believable for the era/world created.
  • The ending is not a clean cut happily ever after. It's kind of opened ended. It closes off this story arc and hints toward a happy-ish future, but it also leaves room for a sequel, although none seems to be in the works.


What I didn't like:

  • The plot/pacing is a little sluggish at the beginning and through the middle. Then it suddenly picks up and progresses quickly. A faster start and more consistent pacing would keep the book from dragging here and there.
  • I realize this is technically a MG book, but it's definitely upper-MG. Which is why I was irked that most of the side characters are a little simple, a bit one-dimensional. It's a short book; I know there's limited time. But the slower spots could have been put to better use fleshing out some of the cast.
  • The ending feels rushed. It doesn't go into the multiple layers and detail I'd have liked; and while the open ended finale is good in some ways, I would have liked a little more closure on this story.



Final Thoughts:

It's not the greatest fairy tale retelling out there, and Reveka is not the most likable protagonist in the world; but it's a quick read with a bit of magic and fewer easy outs than typical MG fairy tales. If you're looking for a quick bite of fantasy, this should do the trick.

The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson eARC (2 stars)

The Tyrant's Daughter - J.C. Carleson

This copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.


The Tyrant's Daughter follows Laila as she adjusts to life in the United States, following her father's assassination, and sees her home and family from a new perspective. Having studied abroad, I probably should have been better prepared for the lengthy periods of confusion and culture clash. Unfortunately, the whole book was filled with this confusion, and Laila's constant lack of direction didn't work for me.



What I liked:

  • There are some authentic, typical teenager moments that made me smile. Silly little things, like high school gossip. 
  • Bastion, the little brother. He does not play a large, active role in the story, but he quietly adjusts to life in the States, playing and watching cartoons and being a kid. Goodness knows he's gone through some horrible things, but, from what I saw, he seems to bear it stoically with either dignity or denial. For him, life isn't paused or over. It just has a different set of scenery. 



What I didn't like:

  • The narration style. The Tyrant's Daughter is told in first person point-of-view, and it's not a novel so much as a collection of small scenes woven in with many, many thoughts and commentary. It was a little like a diary, or a personal essay, and the resulting story style and structure was not my favorite. 
  • The narrator. The main character, Laila, has just loss her father, her home and her country. She is struggling to adjust to life and culture in the US. She finds a new balance by adopting a sort of Humanist view--that is, there is no absolute right or wrong. Everything depends on the context in which you live. So things that were frowned upon or illegal in her Middle Eastern country are not wrong for her to do in the U.S. This perspective persists throughout most of the novel. It makes her a wishy-washy character without a firm opinion or belief about anything, and it made me fear for her future. If she will accept anything as right or wrong depending on the environment, why would she not accept terrorist extremism or the oppression of women, if it were the accepted norm, were she to return to her country? 
  • Missed opportunity to include diverse beliefs. People have beliefs, religious or otherwise, and their actions and decisions are shaped by these beliefs. I wasn't looking for a clash of Islam and Christianity or a final resolution of their differences or anything; but to present both a girl from a heavily Muslim Middle Eastern country and a missionaries' kid without either one professing or seemingly being invested in faith beyond "there's something out there" struck me as strange, almost an avoidance tactic, and definitely a missed opportunity for a frank and relevant discussion. 
  • The end. Laila's decision(s) is consistent with her character, but it frustrated me. She still has few clear priorities and seems likely to float along with whatever tide hits next. It gives me little hope for her future or her brother's. 



Final Thoughts:

Honestly, were I not reading this book to review on NetGalley, I probably wouldn't have finished it. I like the general concept, but the execution didn't work for me. However, if you're looking for a Middle Eastern MC, a book that delves into the perspective of a dictator's family and/or like the sound of the narrative style, you'll probably enjoy this story.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop (3 stars)

Written in Red - Anne Bishop

I've been working on hunting down some "adult" series and authors to read (to give me more options when YA becomes too saturated with love triangles and such). I'm glad to say that this was a promising first kill. Which sounds really horrible, now that I've written that. Anyway, Written in Red is a story of an alternate world in which humans aren't at the top of the food chain and all natural resources are controlled by the Others. A little Planet of the Apes meets The Jungle Book, but more paranormal and with human technology similar to modern day stuff.


What I liked:

  • No romance. It had me scared for a chapter or so, but nope. None. :D
  • The "paranormal" Others are not just humans who happened to turn into animals. They are fundamentally different, which makes their reactions to Meg's human thoughts and behaviors amusing.
  • The humor. There were these light, sometimes subtle, fun moments. I know the setting and plot were often tense and dangerous, but I loved the humor and wish there had been even more. (Minor spoilers) Like the crows stealing Meg's pens and slowly returning them in exchange for toys. Or the werewolf guy napping on the dog bed!


What I didn't like:

  • Chapters in Asia Crane's perspective. I was fine with all the perspective switches except this one. I recognize Asia's chapters provided information that would have been difficult to obtain/understand elsewhere, but I really disliked seeing things through her eyes. She was this odd mixture of strangely competent and horribly naive, not in a good way. She was overly trusting of big promises from bad guys who were most likely to lie, cheat and kill.
  • At times, the fact that Meg is the main character. I would start thinking about how I'd rather follow x cool person for a bit instead. But the fact is, Meg is likable, and no other character in the story could have effected the conflicts and changes she did. Her "special-ness" meter is a little high for my liking, but there are good reasons for those special traits that not only fit the story but play key roles in engaging conflict and character development.
  • Despite knowing a lot about it, the world never felt fully fleshed out to me. Possibly because of the surreal mixture of modern-like cities and technology with obviously old world and Other elements. And the fact that, despite hearing about other towns, other places, the story was restricted to one smallish city, and often to one "neighborhood." I'd like to know more.


Final Thoughts:

Not perfect or "oh my gosh!" but I enjoyed it, I felt invested in several of the characters, and I'd like to read more. Definitely on the lookout for the next in this series, and I may pick up some of the authors' other books as well.

White Space by Ilsa J. Bick eARC (3 stars)

White Space  - Ilsa J. Bick

This copy was provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Some things may be changed in the final version.


White Space by Ilsa J. Bick was pitched as "The Matrix" meets Inkheart. I think that's a somewhat accurate description, but throw in a little "Inception" and a dash of "Dr. Who." If this sounds like a strange combination, it is. Think suspense thriller mixed with speculative sci-fi/fantasy and a healthy helping of horror. This is the first of Bick's books I've read (though I've been meaning to read Ashes forever), and it was way different from my usual light, fluffy reads; but overall, I think it was pretty good.


What I liked:

  • It messed with my head. I really liked the shifting realities and unsure footing as to what could/would happen. Are the characters real people or actual characters in books? If you've been written, is your end predestined or can you still make choices that change the story? What is reality?
  • Emma - She had her annoying moments, but for the most part, she was a reasonable, sensible, insane protagonist. I liked the chapters in her perspective and would like to see her further developed.
  • Eric - He was a big brother who loved his little brother; wanted to protect others in general; and had a little angst, but never dwelled on it or bogged anyone down. In short, he was a nice guy, the kind you'd love to meet. Also, he was smart! He was logical, levelheaded and often the voice of common sense in the group.
  • The Writing major in me really liked the shifts in style and tense for the different perspectives and different Nows (presents/worlds/realities/stories). I liked seeing the different moods, atmospheres and voices effected by style changes and seeing the story from different characters' points-of-view.

What I didn't like:

  • The book had a slow start, approximately 60 pages of setup from a 5-year-old's perspective. The writing made an effective 5-year-old's voice, but I wanted "normal" narration after the first 10 pages and the whole scene felt too drawn out. If I hadn't been reading to review, I probably would have put it down during this time.
  • Too much of a good thing - Every chapter increased the tension, contributed to the atmosphere and dropped tiny hints about the world and the plot. But a lot of it should have been cut. 560 pages is pretty hefty, especially for YA, and there were many parts they could have cut without damaging the story. I liked its rambling, surreal feel, but it needed to be reined in and trimmed down.
  • The multiple perspectives - I'm a little torn on this one. I thought it was handled well, and there were certain things we wouldn't know, or would require info dumps,  without chapters in certain people's POV's. On the other hand, this many perspectives contributed to the giant page count and definitely could have been trimmed.
  • The end. They pulled a Twin Peaks on me. It's not a cliffhanger, but it felt like the first chapter of the next book. So put it in the next book! I'd prefer a less concrete ending over this. It leaves you hanging on too many unanswered questions and feels like the author is manipulating you into buying the sequel.



Final Thoughts:

I didn't love this book, but I liked it. I had fun following the story, so it earned its 3 stars. That said, this book will not be for everyone. It's 560 pages (but a new series, not a long awaited, extra thick sequel), the writing is heavily stylized, it gets a little gory, and the shifting perspectives of reality may hurt your brain. If none of these things scare you off, you'll probably enjoy the mind-bending ride.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George (3 stars)

Princess of Glass  - Jessica Day George

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George is not the Disney Cinderella you know, and, having read a lot of Cinderella retellings, I'm pleased to say it still brings something new to the table. Poppy is part of a royal study abroad--minus the studying--to make nice with countries whose princes died after failing to break her family's curse. (I spent a semester abroad in Spain and sympathized with the culture shock element.) Poppy quickly finds dark magic at work in the form of a mysterious woman mesmerizing all the men at the balls, and it's decided: Cinderella must die. (Not so much on the dying, but it sounded more dramatic.)


What I liked:


  • The protagonist, Poppy. While Rose (in Princess of the Midnight Ball) was a fine protagonist and strong in her own way, she spent much of her story either sick or as a damsel in distress, doing little to try to fix the situation. Poppy, even in danger, is rarely a damsel in distress. She fires a pistol, she is a pistol, and her louder personality and lesser conformity to societal norms resonated more with me. She's also a card shark. ;)

This book is more of a retelling than the last one, which I felt stuck closely to the original tale. Princess of Glass took more liberties with the plot and characters, and it felt more original.



What I didn't like:

  • The romance is a little rushed. Poppy never melts into a puddle of goo, but...it feels a little fast. Still, not horrible compared to many fairy tale retellings, and I liked the pairing well enough.
  • I am a firm believer in approaching magic spells and curses gone wrong with humor, not angst. The author gives us a little of that, but in general, everyone was worried. When your friends and family are magicked into acting like fools, have some fun with it (and take pictures for future blackmail) while you search for a cure. :D
  • The ending is too rushed and too vague for me. I was unclear on exactly what beat the villain or how it happened. I must have missed something important because it looked like poof! Instant victory!
  • Roger. I don't mind him as a character and he never steals the spotlight, but his being there and his peculiar skill set is a little too convenient. I like it more if Poppy has to solve the whole curse problem alone.


Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, more so than the first I think. It has a spunky heroine, a prince who needs rescuing and a good dose of magic. Definitely worth a read if you like fairy tale retellings and don't mind another twist on Cinderella.

Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander (2 stars)

Taran Wanderer - Lloyd Alexander

I made it through Book 4 of the Chronicles of Prydain. Only one more to go and I can officially discard the shame of having never read one of the most lauded series in children's literature. ;) This book is, as the title suggests, all about Taran ... and the wandering he does. The pacing and plotting felt pretty slow throughout, but I'm hoping this dedicated search for self-worth means the fifth book will have a little more adventure and a little less Assistant Pig-Keeper identity crisis.


What I liked:

Oddly enough, the "crafty" sections. I loved the descriptions of smithing in the forge, weaving on the loom and throwing clay on the wheel. There's a certain magic to it, watching something take shape and form. It's a bit of a spoiler (warning), but I also liked the lack of success in Taran's quest. If he had suddenly found an easy answer and rooted his identity in it, all the growth he experienced in the series would have gone down the drain.


What I didn't like:

It got very, very slow, kind of like that Dr. Seuss book "Are You My Mother?" -- very unhurried and content to ramble across the countryside, though not necessarily happy or accomplished at any point until the end. Also, there's a coincidence that was just a little too much to take, one all the heroes would have been dead without. Ah well, I suppose the main cast has to stick around for the last book.


Definitely not the most adventurous, fast-paced book in the series, but still worth the read, especially, I think, for kids. It's a little heavy handed in its delivery, but the message of basing your self-worth on your actions instead of your lineage or wealth is always relevant; and the idea that you may never be the best, or even good, at something you love to do, while crushing, is also an interesting concept to present to kids.

Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander (2 stars)

The Castle of Llyr - Lloyd Alexander

I am still working my way through children's classics I strangely didn't read as a child, and I'm now 3/5 of the way through the Chronicles of Prydain! This wasn't the strongest entry in the series, especially coming off The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron, but it wasn't boring and featured more character development for our adventurous Assistant Pig-Keeper. :)

What I liked:
The conflict. Lloyd Alexander is brilliant about continuously putting Taran in uncomfortable situations that force growth. Bringing back Achren and giving her story some closure was a good move, too.

What I didn't like:
There's very little of Eilonwy in the story. She's one of my favorite characters in this series and the story had a limited female presence without her. The story also heavily featured the clumsy, somewhat useless Prince Rhun who was sometimes amusing, sometimes exasperating.

The pacing felt slower and the buildup to the climax less effective than in the last two books, but it was still an enjoyable enough fantasy read, and I'm looking forward to finishing this series. :)

Defy by Sara B. Larson (1 star)

Defy - Sara B. Larson

My copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may be changed in the final version.

Defy is Sara B. Larson's debut YA novel and my first eARC from NetGalley. I was a little wary of picking up this title based on the emphasized romance in the synopsis, but I took a chance. I think I can best sum this up as Mulan meets Twilight. Alex is masquerading as a boy in the army/Prince's Guard and there's a magical background and a love triangle. Had the story focused in on the Mulan elements, I think I would have liked it. Unfortunately, it was almost all romance and love triangle.

What I liked:
I was interested in some of the supporting characters, namely the other members of the Prince's guard; they seemed like fun guys with a lot to bring to the table, and I would have liked to learn more about them.

I'm still confused about this fantasy world (South America-inspired? South Asia? India?), but I liked the general idea of two warring nations with an imperial catalyst and magical soldiers in the middle of a jungle. Again, though, I wish there were more. The lack of world building made it difficult to invest myself in the world's politics and wars. It wasn't fleshed out enough.

Marcel, Alex's twin brother, and Rylan, a member of the Prince's Guard and Alex's friend. I don't know whether Marcel was a "genius,' but he seemed to be a good big brother and I'm a sucker for those characters. Rylan was a genuinely good-hearted guy, loyal and understanding. He would have been great except for a certain piece of dialogue near the end that resulted in my taking away his Man Card.

What I didn't like:
Alex/Alexa: She is supposed to be an unbeatable fighter who has been in the army and passed for a boy for years. Her narration and actions made this premise completely unrealistic for me. There was no way she had not been exposed as a girl after three years in the army/Prince's guard unless her brother was both Einstein and Houdini.

Perspective: Alex's narration sounded like a hormone-crazed, lovesick teenager. I think the story would have been more enjoyable in third person point-of-view or from a different character's perspective.

Telling v. Showing: The majority of the first-person narration centered on Alex telling us stuff, often romance related. There were few fully described, played out scenes; and the scenes we did get often centered on her romantic interactions with the love interest(s) instead of the war, kidnapping, etc.

The Romance: I don't like love triangles, and in this case, there was nothing to be angsty about once Alex made a choice ... which she did. But then she kept whining and agonizing over it. It got old fast, especially when there were matters of life, death and country at hand.

I was pretty disappointed with this one. The story had some interesting ideas, but they were never fleshed out and took backseat to romance. In the middle of a war and being kidnapped. Alex was supposed to be a butt kicking soldier, but all she thought or talked about was the love triangle. She was the poster child for women who over-think relationships and, on several occasions, a damsel in distress. Apparently there's a sequel in the works, and I hope it does more world building and explains more about the magic system.

Princess of the Midnight Ball (3 stars)

Princess of the Midnight Ball (Princess #1) - Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses featuring a knitting soldier, a few ancient magic users and, obviously, 12 princesses. It read much like the original tale in that everything went by so fast, but it was still a fun, enjoyable read.

What I liked:
This retelling retained many of the original elements of the story; all the original darkness and magic was present. The villain was fairly creepy (would have loved to see more of his world), and the curse(s) made the king's "solution" to his daughters' dancing plausible.

What I didn't like:
I wished I'd gotten to know the princesses better, besides Rose that is. Because there were so many characters and so many things going on, the plot seemed to fly by. Which sometimes made the characters/story feel surface-level only. I was in the mood for a light read, so this didn't bother me too much ... except when certain characters made stupid, cocky moves that created unnecessary complications and danger. Be a good soldier and pull off the operation smoothly; then those pages can be used for other things, like more character development. :)

While not the best fairy tale retelling I've read, this was a light, fun story and came right at a time when I needed an easy, fantastical read. If you like fairy tale retellings and/or are looking for a light fantasy read, give this one a shot.

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown (3 stars)

Born of Illusion - Teri Brown

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown stars Anna Van Housen, an aspiring magician in 1920's New York with a fame-crazed mother who does mentalist shows and forces Anna to assist in her illegal, but profitable, after-show seances. It has its flaws, but Anna is an overall likable protagonist, and the magic illusions are fun. :)

What I liked:
For the most part, Anna is a smart, resourceful, sensible girl. Her insight into and descriptions of the magic/illusions were entertaining; and I didn't mind the way her supernatural abilities were woven into the plot. The underlying conflict between mother and daughter also made for an interesting family environment and power struggle.

What I didn't like:
The love triangle was a little annoying, as were its corresponding miscommunications. The author spent a lot of time on misdirection with the main conflict/danger/antagonist, so the end felt a little out of nowhere. My biggest letdown was the lack of setting; I mean, it was there, but I didn't feel immersed in the 1920's and I really wanted to see more of that world. I wanted the same magic atmosphere I felt during the stage shows and illusions.

Despite Anna's reduced common sense regarding certain men, the story was, overall, fun and entertaining. It was an easy, light read and I'm interested in seeing where the author takes the next installment.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (1 star)

The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater

Really interesting use of magic, literally making dreams come true, and I liked how it tied into Cabeswater, which keeps it connected to the main quest.

The writing was descriptive and easy to fly through.

I don't really care about any of the characters.

Increased sexuality was at best awkward and at worst creepy. Didn't enjoy the homosexual undertones. Not my cup of tea.

Adam. Mostly because I understand him too well, his infuriating pride and the selfish, hateful mentality he hangs onto. It pokes at sore spots.

I wouldn't call it boring, but there were parts where I wasn't interested. 

Lack of answers. I came out of it with a ton of questions and zero answers. How many dream thieves are there? How/why did two end up in the same town? Did Kavinsky steal from a different magic forest when he was in Jersey? The only real progress toward Glendower came at the very end, and, as interesting as all these separate magical pieces are, I'm impatient to see more connections revealed.

Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed certain aspects of this story, but when I finished the book, it left a sour aftertaste. I will be carefully considering whether to read the next.

The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (3 stars)

The Song of the Quarkbeast  - Jasper Fforde

Light, fun, humorous, though not quite as much as The Last Dragonslayer. Jennifer Strange's responsibilities seemed to weigh heavier on her.

Something, usually something strange, is always happening. The pace rarely slackens and the story always marches forward.

The story is full of weird, zany characters.

The title felt misleading. Quarkbeasts do play a big role in the story, but it took a little long for them to appear onstage. I kept wondering where the Quarkbeasts were.

The humor quotient felt lower than in the first book. Jennifer is worried for much of the book and responds to several unfortunate happenings with dread, despair and fear. I think the drama and tension would have built up well even if she were less distraught.

No dragons. (Not that they're required, but dragons are awesome.)

Final Thoughts:
A fun, light, quirky fantastical read. A great way to spend an afternoon.

The Search for WondLa by Toni DiTerlizzi (3 stars)

Tony DiTerlizzi'sThe Search for WondLa [Hardcover](2010) - T.,   (Author,  Illustrator) DiTerlizzi


  • Eva Nine is a fun, believable young girl. Her reactions to a world completely different, and more dangerous, than all she knows make sense.
  • The world created is so interesting. It feels original and strange and amazing and absolutely alien.
  • The illustrations are beautiful.



  • The pace drags a bit here and there.
  • There are a few "too convenient" or less than fully explained moments.


In Short:

A fun, creative fantasy anyone can enjoy, though girls are probably more likely to pick it up