Sunday, December 30, 2018

Wereworld #2: Rage of Lions by Curtis Jobling

Rage of Lions (Wereworld, #2)My name is Whitley, and Drew and I are searching for Lady Gretchen. She was taken by the Werelion Prince Lucas, and I've managed to pick up their trail. However, I've been injured by an undead creature which means someone is practicing dark magic. Drew has been captured by the Werelion's supporters, and I don't know what's happened to him. He's been reluctant to accept his destiny to become king and doesn't understand how much the citizens need him. King Leopold has been trapped in his castle for two months, but something tells me the evil monarch hasn't given up. Is it possible he's hatching a plan to take back his crown? I don't know who would help this tyrant, but support for Drew hasn't been overwhelming. It feels like something huge is about to happen.

You should read Rise of the Wolf before reading this book. I must give you fair warning that the series contains explicit violence. The wereanimals don't fight cleanly, especially when their lives are at stake. I've been a little surprised by how fragile the cast of characters has become. I can usually sense when new/minor characters might become more important in the future, but several prominent characters don't survive this book. There are numerous battles between supporters of Drew and Leopold, but there is in-fighting too. Some characters can't be trusted, but their traitorous behavior isn't always foreseeable. Hector has been a good friend to Drew, so I haven't liked the changes he's been experiencing. He'll be a character to watch in the future. Overall, I've enjoyed the first two books in the Wereworld series, although I could do without some of the graphic violence. I like Drew's story as he tries to understand his new life, and I'm anxious to see something positive happen in the third book. If my comments haven't scared you off, give the series a try. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Keeper of the Lost Cities #7: Flashback by Shannon Messenger

Flashback (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #7)My name is Fitz, and I'm irate the Council is sparing my brother's life. Alvar says he can't remember his despicable crimes, and he's going to be allowed to serve his sentence at Everglen! The Neverseen are always one step ahead of us, but Gethen says this isn't part of their plans. Sophie and I are frustrated that we're forced to lay in bed, while we recover from echoes resulting from a Shadow attack. Emotions cause them to flare up and undo our healing. We've decided that we must learn to fight back even though elves aren't used to violence. However, the Neverseen have no problem hurting and killing us. And as if these problems aren't enough, we're sure the alicorns need help. Five kingdoms of intelligent creatures are uniting for the first, but it seems like we're always missing something when it comes to the Neverseen. 

This series is very entertaining if you're ready for a lot of reading. This book lacked the adventure and action of the first six books, at least until the plot arrived at the climax. Sophie and Fitz were injured and were under medical care for most of the first half of the plot. Other characters were off doing things, while Sophie was confined to bed rest, dealing with internal struggles/scars. It was hard to describe much action and drama, while the main character was stuck in one room. At least Sophie's love life became clearer. She also gained a few more bodyguards, but the pattern has become tiresome. Her defenders have always said she shouldn't leave without them, but she ends up doing just that. Also, the defenders have said they'll be ready for the Neverseen next time, but they never are. It's become annoying, since nothing has changed. I would expect Sophie and her friends to have learned from past mistakes. Overall, I'm still enjoying the series, but I hope the next book shows Sophie becoming more intelligent and the elves making progress toward stopping the Neverseen. The rebels have clearly been out-thinking the elves, and it would be nice to get a sense the elves might be able to stop them.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Wereworld #1: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling

Wereworld : rise of the wolfMy name is Josh, and I ran away from home when my father tried to kill me. I didn't understand the changes happening to me, but I was thankful for help from strangers. I've been told I'm a Werelord, but I'm not fully sure what that means. All I know is I have nowhere to go while being hunted by the king's troops. Hector fled with me, and I was forced to take his cousin Gretchen along with us. She’s supposed to marry King Leopold’s son and doesn’t think much of me. Now, Gretchen’s disappeared, and we have no idea where she went. It feels like everything’s going wrong, even though Hector thinks I’m destined for great things. Nothing good will happen if I can’t control the power within me.

I wasn't sure how I'd like a book with many characters changing into animals, but it was okay. They remained in human form most of the time, as Josh learned to control his changes. The animals emerged during conflicts and fighting. Actually, there was a good amount of violence, and the description of creatures fighting wasn’t pretty. I always enjoy a good underdog story, and this book fit the bill. Josh’s powers needed controlling, and most of the citizens were against him. His body’s unusual ability to heal came in very handy for much of the book, as the king’s soldiers were especially nasty. More importantly, Josh's compassion and character were much more significant to the plot. Despite his insecurities, he found it difficult to ignore injustices and stepped in to help while others stepped back. His honorable character gave others hope and motivated them to stand up for themselves. The climax to the story wasn’t unexpected, although the author saved a couple of surprises for the end. His growing affection for Gretchen will likely be an important topic in the future. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and plan to read its sequel, Rage of Lions.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Adventurers Wanted #1: Slathbog's Gold by M.L. Forman

Slathbog's Gold (Adventurers Wanted, #1)My name is Alex, and my head is spinning. I quickly became the eighth member of a team on a quest to kill a dragon called Slathbog. I don't understand half of what the others are telling me, and I think the shopkeeper made a mistake when he said I have wizard abilities. My brain is still finding it hard to believe in magic, but some recent events have changed my mind. I thought I was lucky to survive a troll attack, but now I'm not so sure. An oracle believes in my potential, but she says I must stop doubting myself. Can I possibly become a powerful wizard? Can I become a fierce warrior too? It's hard to believe I'm now in the middle of my first adventure, and the others seem to be glad that I'm here. I don't think there's nothing special about me, but what if I'm wrong?

As you read this book, you should remember what the characters say. Once you believe magic is real, everything else is easy. The same goes for  the rules for Adventurers; don't try to figure them out. Don't question how Alex can stow his belongings in a four-room storage bag or how the Adventurers decide to divy up the treasures they collect. Many novels allow young characters to discover their powers in a big way. Alex's biggest accomplishment for the first half of the book is starting and dousing fire. Bigger questions surround his elfin sword and the ring he collects. The ring is magical, but Alex is warned not to use it until he knows more. Actually, Alex is much more cautious than most characters with his emerging powers, as he  understands the horrible, possible consequences from uncontrolled magic. I'm most impressed by the code of conduct displayed by all of the Adventurers. Their behavior exhibits dignity toward each other and creatures they meet, and it's important to honor the memories of the deceased. These qualities are in the forefront throughout the entire book. Overall, Slathbog's Gold is the start of a series, and I'm excited to get my hands on the sequel. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford

The Left-Handed FateMy name is Max, and I must find the second piece to a devastating weapon that could end a budding war and prevent others. I only have cryptic clues about its capabilities, but I can't let it fall into Napoleon's hands. Lucy and the crew of the Fate helped me find the first part, but locating the second one has become an adventure. The Americans and Britain are now at war, so it makes sailing the Atlantic more treacherous. A mysterious brig has been materializing along with eerie lights, and we've only barely managed to escape. Now, the Fate has been overtaken by an American ship and is being controlled by a very young lieutenant. He's helping us protect the first piece of the weapon, but we'll soon be without a ship and on our own. 

This book follows Bluecrowne but didn't have the same amount of supernatural detail. Other than the secretive weapon and strange lights, the rest of the events were fairly realistic. There were a few references to the previous book, but this plot described a totally unrelated story. Lucy was still the main character, but her feisty personality was muted a bit due to circumstances aboard the Fate. She displayed compassion and honor, even with her enemies, but wasn't able to utilize all of her talents. She became more of a detective than an adventurer. My biggest issue with the story concerned the weapon. It was the focus of the conflict, but the characters weren't sure what it was or what it could do. It was hard to understand how weaving cards could have anything to do with a destructive device. How can readers understand the problem if the characters can't explain it? Overall, I enjoyed the characters, including the new lieutenant, and I liked the idea of the problem. I enjoyed the climax. However, the whole project wasn't as entertaining as Bluecrowne. More clarity and more supernatural elements would have helped. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fairy Tale Reform School #1: Flunked by Jen Calonita

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School, #1)My name is Gilly, and I need to be home with my family, not here at the FTRS. I look around at the teachers and other students, and I'm not so sure anybody's getting reformed in a positive way. I mean, the Evil Stepmother is running the place, and her wicked daughter is the biggest bully in the school. Something fishy is going on. The surrounding forest is dangerous and off-limits, so why would a teacher enter it? The gargoyle statues creep me out, and I could swear one of them was watching me! Miri the magic mirror is always spying, so it's hard to sneak around the hallways and rooms. However, I think I can get out of the FTRS immediately if I can find dirt on the evil stepmother, so I've got to keep snooping around. Little did I know the trouble I'd find.

It took me awhile to realize I'd already read the third book in the series earlier this year! I enjoy Gilly's sassy attitude and her compassion for others. She's in reform school for trying to help feed her family, and she lied to the teachers to protect her new friends. Kayla becomes her roommate, but I was surprised when the girl disappeared for most of the plot. Jax is Gilly's closest ally, but he's keeping a huge secret that isn't revealed until later in the story. The plot reads as a mystery, as Gilly searches for a scandal that will allow her to get early release from reform school. All of the adult characters come from familiar fairy tales, but the students are unknown variables. Which ones are good, and which ones are part of the problem? The book teaches a nice lesson on honesty, as Gilly slowly learns that stealing may not be the best way to solve her problems. This is ironic, since Kayla and Jax are first drawn to her ability to lie and her sneakiness. Overall, the series shares a fun adventure of conspiracy and magic, and I think most younger readers will enjoy it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Keeper of the Lost Cities #6: Nightfall by Shannon Messenger

Nightfall (Keeper of the Lost Cities #6)My name is Sophie, and my human sister seems to be adjusting to my elvin world better than I expected. However, my human parents were kidnapped by the Neverseen and are being held in a place called Nightfall. I keep thinking there must be a bigger reason why the rebels spread Everblaze throughout California, but I wasn't ready for the truth. The Neverseen helped a mysterious criminal escape from prison, and the rebel leaders have horrifying plans for humans. All of this has led the Black Swan to create a trial alliance with the ogre king. Who would have ever believed elves could cooperate with their enemies? Ro, the king's daughter, has been a formidable ally, and I'm starting to realize we may have misunderstood the ogres. Who knows if it will be enough to stop the Neverseen's devastating plans?

You need to read this series from the beginning. Much of it reads like a mystery, as Sophie and her friends try to thwart the Neverseen's evil schemes. Even though Sophie is the leader, it's fun to see how all of her friends are able to coordinate their talents as a team. The rebels have always been one step ahead of the group in past books, but this time Sophie's team starts to anticipate what's going to happen. The mysterious convict adds more uncertainty to the plot, since her identity, ability, and motivations are unknown. Her twisted thinking is the platform for all of the Neverseen's plans. However, her vision has been twisted by recent leadership, so a new conflict develops. If you've read my posts about other books in the series, you're aware of my annoyance with Sophie's obliviousness to potential love interests. Three characters have clearly displayed affection toward her, and she finally eliminates one of them. I'm not sure how many books will eventually be in this series, but I'm on a waiting list for the recently-released seventh installment Flashback. Overall, I'm really enjoying the journey and recommend you give it a shot.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #3: Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)My name is Jacob, and I'm traveling through time to rescue peculiars captured by the wights. Addison is able to follow their scent, but I'm not thrilled about where it's led. Emma, Addison, and I now find ourselves in Devil's Acre, a dark, disturbing slum full of scoundrels ready to attack us. However, we've uncovered the reason behind the recent rash of peculiar disappearances, and it stems from Miss Peregrine's brothers. Caul has wicked dreams of a land full of souls from dead peculiars, but his brother Bentham is helping us stop him. Both of them have plans for me due to my growing ability to control Hollows. These deadly creatures are usually unstoppable and feared by all peculiars, but I've never controlled more than one of them. If I can't master my talent, the lives of all peculiars is doomed.

You really need to read the whole series in order, or you won't fully understand this conclusion. It's been several years since I read the previous books, and I wish they had been fresher in my mind. Old, black and white pictures of odd characters fill the pages, as seen above, and it's fun to see how the author works them into the story. Each peculiar has an unusual talent that makes them unique. Anna can create fire, Addison is a talking dog, and another character is invisible. A subplot deals with the budding relationship between Jacob and Anna. Anna once loved Jacob's grandfather (she doesn't age in her loop), but her heart now belongs to Jacob. It may sound weird, but it makes sense in the context of the book. I found Jacob's interaction with the Hollows intriguing, as his empathy for the deadly beasts was ironic. He had a strong connection to his first Hollow, and a form of trust seemed to grow. I kind of felt sorry for the creatures and wish they had come to better fates. Overall, this series is imaginative and deserves your attention. Give it a shot!