Monday, November 30, 2015

The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Wizard Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #2)Seph is a wizard without training, and his powers lead to the death of a close friend. He's sent away to a private school and finds the headmaster is also a wizard. However, the headmaster wants to bind their powers, and it doesn't feel right to Seph. When Seph refuses, the headmaster punishes him mentally and physically. After months of torture, Seph is rescued by a guardian he's never met, but danger follows him to Trinity, Ohio. There's a battle brewing between wizards and other groups of Weir, and secrets about Seph's past will be revealed.

This book is a sequel to The Warrior Heir. It's probably for more mature readers, since the main characters are in their mid-teens or are adults. Characters from the first book reemerge halfway through the plot and support Seph in his struggles. Most of the main characters are in their mid-teens. Reading the first book will help with understanding the relationships between wizards and the centuries-old feuds between the different houses. Seph is a powerful wizard, but his lack of training makes him an underdog in the book. His kindness and compassion for others makes him a very likable character. As in the first book, characters are manipulated, and wizards are scheming against each other. For these reasons, surprises pop up when characters seem to change sides or reappear after being forgotten. It makes the book interesting and entertaining.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mysteries of Cove #1: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

Fires of Invention (Mysteries of Cove, #1)Trenton lives in the community of Cove, sealed below the earth's surface, to escape from the death and destruction caused by man's inventions and new technology. Trenton is fascinated by machines, and he has a talent for making them work. However, new ideas are forbidden in Cove, and being called an inventor is about the worst thing anyone can call him. He wonders about a strange piece of metal he found down in the mines, and he meets a girl named Kallista who happens to be the daughter of a crazy inventor. Her father died in an explosion, and the piece of metal is a clue from him. The kids find other pieces and secretly assemble them. They're shocked when they finally realize what they're making, but it's a good thing they did it. They discover the history of Cove is a lie, and danger is waiting to destroy everything they know.

This dystopian novel is the first one in a new series. I've read other books where the government tries to control people's thinking, but this book makes creativity a crime. Trenton's character shows that it's real hard to stop people from thinking and wondering how things could be better. The theme of the book seems to deal with how technology and greed can ruin our planet, and some of that may be true. The actual danger to Cove is something totally different. I wasn't expecting the truth about Cove's history, although I probably should have expected something like it after the kids built their machine.The plot requires readers to think, although the last fourth of it has more action. The book probably won't appeal to all readers, but I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dragon Slippers #3: Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George

Dragon Spear (Dragon Slippers, #3)Creel and Luka visit the new home of Shardas and Velika, the king and queen of all dragons. Velika is carrying her first batch of eggs when she's kidnapped. A dragon they rescued in book two leads a band of smaller dragons who take the queen to a faraway island. These smaller dragons are dying off, including their queen, and they need a new queen to help their colony grow. With the help of the king and other friendly dragons, Creel tracks Velika to the island and finds she's being held captive in a volcanic cave. Her plan to help Shardas rescue Velika becomes complicated when it's time for the queen to lay her eight large eggs. The captors will fight anyone trying to take Velika or the eggs, and they'll hunt her down again if she somehow manages to get away.

You should probably read the first two books in the series, but this book can be enjoyed on its own. This book doesn't have the action found in the other books, but it's able to develop a good amount of suspense. The dragons are the main characters in this book, although the plot follows Creel. The conflict belongs to the dragons. Creel's younger brother has a bigger part than he had in the previous books. He's never seen dragons before, but he becomes an apprentice to one of them, learning to make potions. I've enjoyed the series and recommend it to other dragon lovers.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Heir Chronicles #1: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #1)Jack was going to die as an infant until he had surgery. The surgeon was a wizard and transplanted a warrior stone into his heart. The stone gives Jack warrior powers, but he takes a medicine for sixteen years to hide them. Now, the summary gets tricky. There are two main families of wizards, the White Rose and the Red Rose, and they've been battling for centuries. They decided to create a competition, to the death, between warriors from the families, and the family of the surviving warrior rules the Wizard Council. There are very few warriors left in the world now, and Jack doesn't know about any of this history until wizards attempt to kill him. He begins intense training to prepare him for a competition that he has little chance of surviving.

This series is probably for more mature readers, since all of the main characters are in their mid-teens or are adults. It took me a little time to get into the book, as I tried to understand the history of the wizards, warriors, and other characters. However, I quickly became engrossed in the plot and couldn't put it down. Jack transformed from an average teenager into a powerful warrior. He had conflicts with a bully, he had girl problems, but he had two loyal friends to support him. The plot included twists, as some characters turned out to be evil. The wizard attacks provided action, and not knowing the characters' motivations added mystery. The plot built up to a suspenseful climax with a very unexpected surprise. I really enjoyed the beginning of this series and plan to read the next book, Wizard Heir.

Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George

Dragon Flight (Dragon Slippers, #2)Creel  became a hero in the first Dragon Wars, but she's now returned to her life as a seamstress. However, when an alarming report arrives that an army of dragons with human riders is preparing to invade the kingdom, she volunteers to enlist help from the local dragons to go on a scouting mission. She is good friends with the king and queen of all dragons, but they are secretly hiding, trying to heal from their injuries. Everyone else believes the king and queen died in the war. Creel discovers the army of dragons is being controlled by leather collars, but the identity of the one controlling them is a surprise. A new dragon war is looming, and it will pit brother against brother.

You can probably understand this book without reading the first book in the series, Dragon Slippers, but I really enjoyed both of them. Creel's character doesn't have any special standing in the kingdom other than being a war hero and being the good "friend" of the younger prince. The king doesn't appreciate these facts or help from the local dragons, and this becomes a problem later in the book. I was surprised when the conflict with the dragon army was resolved midway through the book, because the secondary conflict was anti-climatic.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Afterlife Academy by Frank L. Cole

The Afterlife AcademyWalter is struck by lightning and wakes up three days later, only to discover he's dead! He aces his orientation test and is immediately sent on his first assignment for The Afterlife Academy, skipping the required four years of training. His job is to protect Charlie from any evil creatures, like wraiths, shades, and demons. Charlie has discovered The Summoner's Handbook, a book that will allow him to summon all of the evil creatures into the mortal world, and neither Walter nor Charlie truly realize the power of the book. Walter accidentally possesses Charlie's body, and it's clear that he doesn't have the training to handle the importance of this mission. He manages to fend off several attacks from shades and demons, but it's only a matter of time before Charlie and he lose the book and open the door to disaster.

This book is not among the classic novels of all time, but it was really fun to read. Walter and Charlie become unusual partners, since Charlie knows more about the evil creatures than Walter. Walter gives Charlie middle school advice to help him deal with bullies and the cutest girl in school. The plot is able to mix the "serious" problem of demons possibly overrunning the mortal world with interpersonal problems between Charlie and Walter, and between Hoonga (the main demon in the book) and other evil creatures. The book includes humorous moments, as Walter and Charlie try to work through middle school and after-death problems, and Hoonga plays terrible games like Old Maid, Monopoly, and a Jenga-like game played with bones. I recommend this book, and it's great for fans of the "Men in Black" movies.

The Books of Umber #3: The End of Time by P.W. Catanese

The End of Time (The Books of Umber, #3)Umber and Hap have safely returned home, but trouble soon follows. Hap is supposed to master his unique powers to become one of the most powerful Meddlers ever. It's the only way he'll be able to save millions of lives in the world Umber came from. However, an evil sorceress grows more powerful in her prison cell, and it's no secret the prince detests Umber. Umber's life will be in danger if the king's failing health does not improve, and the prince gains control of the kingdom. And word is spreading of a terrible fire monster bringing death and destruction from the Far Continent. And, oh yeah, the Executioner has already killed the other Meddlers, and Hap is his next target. There's a whole lot of disaster going on!

This book is the last one in the trilogy, and you need to read the first two books. You can type "Umber" in the search box found at the top of my blog to see my other reviews. The plot in this book followed a straighter path than the first two books. The prince was a threat to Umber, and everything revolved around that problem. The other conflicts became the focus at different times, but the prince was a constant. A surprise from Umber's previous life pops up to create a huge problem. I liked how the author resolved the climax. Hap used his new-found powers to travel to many settings from the previous books. Problem creatures from those plots became solutions to Hap's problem in this book. Creative thinking by the author!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel

Darkwing (Silverwing, #0.5)Dusk's father is leader of the chiropters, bat-like creatures, on the island, but Dusk is not fully accepted. Chiropters glide through the air, but Dusk wants to flap his wings and fly. Dusk is able to use clicking sounds to help him see in the dark. The other chiropters are angry that he wants to be a bird, and the birds are angry when he actually learns to fly. A serious battle is brewing. Meanwhile, a side story tells the tale of Carnassial, a rebellious fetid. The fetids teamed up,with other beasts to destroy all of the eggs of a common enemy. However, eating the eggs gives Carnassial a taste for meat, so he starts secretly killing other beasts to feed his hunger. He's kicked out of his prowl for it, but his destiny will soon collide with Dusk and the chiropters.

I started reading this book thinking it was a sequel to Silverwings, but it's not. All of the characters and the setting are totally different. The names of the creatures in the book were based on real animals, but they're very early versions of the animals, like fifty million years ago. I had trouble visualizing some of the ground creatures. A theme in this book is definitely about conforming to the expectations of society while still having confidence in yourself. Dusk was afraid to tell his parents about his unique abilities, because he didn't want to get kicked out of the group. Carnassial was in the same situation. It was easy to see Darwin's theories, evolution, at work, as Dusk's abilities made it much easier to hunt and protect himself. To describe the plot simply, it's about predators, prey, and the food chain; animals trying to eat while not being eaten. Only the strong and cunning will survive.

Michael Vey #5: Storm of Lightning by Richard Paul Evans

Storm of Lightning (Michael Vey, #5)Michael, Taylor, and the rest of the Electroclan are on the run again after escaping from Dr. Hatch and his Elgen army. They head to Mexico where Michael's mother and Ostin's parents were hiding in a compound, but they learn it was attacked and obliterated. The Elgen atrackers were unaware the families and members of the resistance escaped earlier, but now the Elgen have arrested Taylor's mother. They're using her as bait, so they can kidnap, or kill, Taylor. Meanwhile, Dr. Hatch is continuing his invasion of Tuvalu, complete with newly invented war ships. He hopes to control 98% of the world's energy production within the next couple of years. He makes Quinten king of Tuvalu, but there's trouble brewing.

Type Michale Vey into the search box found in the top left corner of this site to see my reviews of the previous books in the series. You need to read the other books first, or you'll have no idea what's going on. The Electroclan are teenagers with amazing electrical powers, although Dr. Hatch has his own small force of powerful teenagers. The early books in the series had more action than this one, but it still has its own adventure. This book focuses on character relationships, and Dr. Hatch is teaching everyone, including his own followers, that dictators don't trust anyone. Ostin is an interesting character in the series, because he's the only member of the Electroclan without any powers, other than being really, really smart. The resolution of the book brings back Schema, a bad guy ousted by Hatch earlier in the series. He's grabbed by members of the resistance, so I assume they'll all play bigger roles in the next book, coming out in 2016.