Monday, August 6, 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is one of my favorite reads of the year. It is also one of the ones I find most difficult to talk about what I liked without spoiling the book. It was an amazing journey, told mostly in the form of a type of report, starting as one written in a desperate bid by a prisoner to buy time after she has been caught behind enemy lines by the Gestapo.

Watching the story unfold, learning how the prisoner became an operative and came to be behind enemy lines is amazing. Especially as the threads of the story start to pull together. Because of the way the book is written, quite a bit won't really start to make complete sense until about half-way through but the way that each element fits makes it a pleasure.

I adored Maddie, Queenie, and Jamie. The addition of the World War II female ferry pilot and Special Operations Executive made this book even more special and memorable. The drive and intelligence of Maddie and Queenie inspires me. The decisions Maddie, Queenie, and Jamie face and the way they try to find their way through war and terror with honor is a large part of why Code Name Verity keeps coming back to mind.

*I received a digital ARC of Code Name Verity from the publisher through NetGalley.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind, following in the footsteps of a long line of Fowls before him. He is 12 in the first book Artemis Fowl and he is putting all of his considerable intellect into a plan to rescue his family. His mother has gone nearly catatonic after his father disappeared and Artemis has stepped up to take care of his family, return the Fowls to their rightful place in the criminal underworld, and find his father. Artemis may be young, but he's a genius and he has Butler, a bodyguard who is as good at his job as Artemis is, to do any heavy lifting. So, when he sets his sights on leveraging fairy magic to give him even more of an edge LEPrecon Captain Holly Short has her hands full trying to keep the fairy world secret from the humans.

The Artemis Fowl series is one of my favorites, perhaps even more so than the Harry Potter series, because of how much Artemis grows over the course of the seven books in the series so far. The twelve year old criminal mastermind who is introduced in the first book is very different in a completely consistent way from the fifteen year old young man that we leave at the end of Artemis Fowl: The Atlantic Complex. Along the way, we see Artemis, Holly, and Butler face enormous challenges, struggle against odds that challenge them, and problems that boggle even Artemis's intellect. They make alliances and break them. They grow and suffer set backs. Watching as they struggle and flourish has been one of the joys of the series. So, even if the first one book is a little slow to start, it quickly picks up, and the series is well worth it.

The eighth and final book in the series will be coming out in the beginning of July, 2012.

Monday, April 23, 2012


This evening, the second episode of the last season of Eureka will air and I'm very excited to see where it goes. I've been a fan of the series since the first episode aired, and was very sad when I heard that this season would be the last. I've loved watching Jack Carter becoming a part of the town and watching him change as he adopted Eureka as his own. His start in town was, perhaps not promising. Jack was a Federal Marshal passing through when an accident causes him and his daughter Zoe to have to stop over in town for a few days. Zoe had run away, again, from her home in LA, and Jack was dragging her back, again. And at the end of the pilot, no one was more surprised than Jack that he'd been offered a promotion to Sheriff of Eureka. Henry was friendly, Jo was hostile, Allison was skeptical, Fargo was unable to see a dangerous looking button and not push it. But over the years, they've become one of my favorite teams to watch. And I'm so excited to see the next episodes, while very well aware that each new one I see is one less that's left. So far, it looks like Eureka is keeping with the format that I've loved, of a central problem, usually a scientific experiment gone awry that Jack and his team need to figure out, usually before it destroys the town or the world. Another normal day in Eureka. This season also promises to have another strong arc, hopefully answering some of my questions about what has been an occasional side story that's been popping up every now and again since the first season. I've tried to avoid any spoilers, which is sometimes difficult when talking about a series that has had as wonderful and surprising a run as this one has. This show has made me laugh and cry. I love these characters and will be very sad to see them go. But it looks like the show will end in style and I can't wait to see what happens next! If you haven't seen Eureka, find it on Netflix or DVD and start at the beginning. It is well worth seeing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass knows exactly what she wants. She wants to make the high school newspaper that she has just started in her little town of Sorry-in-the-Vale a success, starting her journalist career. The Lynburns who are whispered about around the town and who have been gone from Sorry-in-the-Vale since before Kami was born have returned. Kami's determined to get their story and publish it in her paper with the help of her best friend Angela. Kami's only other friend is Jared, an imaginary friend who seems a little too real at times. Especially when they learn the Lynburns brought two young men, about Kami's age with them, Ash and Jared. It's not really fair when your imaginary friend shows up, even if you strongly suspected he was real, and is rude to you just before you realize who he is.

Any narrator who uses the word nefarious in the first few paragraphs and comes from a line of lady detectives including Miss Marple and Veronica Mars is bound to catch my attention, in the best of ways. And there is clearly a mystery, a big one, that the entire town of Sorry-in-the-Vale is keeping about the Lynburns. I loved Kami's spunk. Watching Kami and Jared interact both through a telepathic link that they both have known since birth and more traditionally was wonderful and hilarious. I also loved that this is as much a story about the group dynamic between Kami, Angela, Holly, Ash, and Jared as they come together to work on the paper and are drawn into they mystery. The only bad part of having read an advanced copy is that there is longer to wait before the next book comes out!

One quick note, Unspoken ends at what seems to be the best stopping point, but still in the middle of things, where I'm sure the sequel will pick up. However, if everything not being wrapped up is going to bother you, you've now been warned. But, really, it's so worth it! I'm probably going to run out and get a copy of it as soon as it comes out in September!

*I got an ARC of Unspoken from the publisher through NetGalley.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ripper by Stefan Petrucha

Carver Young has dreamed of being a detective for his whole life. The only information he has about his parents is a cryptic letter from London dated 1889, when Carver was 7, to "Boss" he finds in the orphanage's files. When the orphanage is to be moved, Carver, Delia and Finn, the three oldest of the orphans around 14, are told that there won't be room for them. Each is lucky enough to be adopted and Carver is taken in by a former Pinkerton detective who soon has Carver involved in a new Pinkerton agency that's working underground (literally) in New York, right under the nose of Teddy Roosevelt's police force. Carver's first case has him running across the startling series of murders that have started in New York that bear a striking resemblance to those of Jack the Ripper.

I loved the atmosphere of this book. The combination of Jack the Ripper, Pinkertons, and the urban fantasy feel of the adventure in New York city were fascinating. Also, I greatly enjoyed the very steampunk style of the gadgets that the New Pinkertons had developed, along with the steam powered underground train and elevator that they used as part of their headquarters. Watching Carver as he is taken under Mr. Hawking's wing and as Carver begins to find his feet in the deepening investigations was fun. I liked that for all Carver was very resourceful and brave, while having the habit of rushing into things before completely thinking them through. I appreciated the atmosphere and the tight pacing of the book, which kept reading later than planned more than once. I can't wait for the next in the series; seeing where Carver, Delia and Finn go will be very interesting!

Friday, April 6, 2012

White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel Sharpe knows that his best shot at getting by is to pretend to be normal, which is difficult since his whole family are con artists and workers. His mother is able to work emotions, his eldest brother is a physical worker for the mob, his other brother works luck, and his grandfather was a death worker for the mob, each with a touch of a hand. Cassel knows that he's the only one in his family who isn't a worker. He's always thought of this as a liability, a deficit, but now that he's going to a private school, he's beginning to see that not being a worker in a world that mistrusts their powers might not be all that bad. Cassel knows he killed his best friend Lila. But he doesn't quite remember the event or why. When Cassel wakes up on the roof of his dorm after dreaming of a white cat, with no memory of how he could have gotten there, he begins to question everything he knows.

White Cat is the first book in the Curse Worker series, and though each book comes to a satisfying conclusion, I was very glad that I had Red Glove on hand when I finished reading White Cat, and that Black Heart came out less than 48 hours after I finished reading Red Glove. Cassel's world is rich, filled with interesting characters, many of whom I'd love to see in their own books. It is a world of magic where ungloved hands are threatening and tantalizing. There are few clear cut answers even when one desperately wants to do right. A richly satisfying series that delivers from start to finish.

As the books feed right into one another, I'd suggest starting with White Cat.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood is easily one of my favorite reads so far this year. It was recommended to me by Felicity Disco, who was right on the money. This book finds Cas Lowood hunting ghosts, as his dad did before he died. His mom moves from town to town with Cas whenever he finishes another job. He's only a teenager, about to graduate High School, if he ever stays in one place long enough, but since his dad died taking on a ghost, Cas has been determined to do the job. And he's always been able to do it alone, with his mom doing whatever she can do to help patch him up afterwards.

When Cas hears about Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost who has been killing anyone who enters the boarding house where she lived, he's intrigued. When Cas and his mom set off to face this new ghost, Cas is sure that he'll be done in a few days, weeks at the most. That's before he ends up in the house against his will and Anna doesn't kill him though she clearly could. That's before everything he knew about what he does and why it's a good thing, starts to come into question. That's before he starts to care about the people in his classes, and the town as things spin out of his control.

I loved that Cas's mother is an active part of the book's plot and Cas's life, and that she is willing to do anything she can to help. Cas is still the one that has to actually confront the ghosts, but she's there, and she worries, and she's his mom. After reading several YA books where the parents were absent, I found this refreshing. I also enjoyed watching Cas start to engage, when he clearly had good reasons to resist. Watching him make friends and grow connections for the first time was wonderful. And can I just say, I really liked Carmel. You'll understand if you read it. I'll also note that the book is beautiful. The ink is maroon and it added to the mood as I read.

One quick note, this book is bloody. There's a reason that Anna is described as Dressed in Blood. It is fairly literal. I didn't have much of a problem with it, but I did decide it was worth a warning. All of the violence and blood did seem to be plot relevant.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve

Ziska's great-grandparents were Jewish, which means that in 1938, so is she as far as the Nazi party is concerned. On the eve of World War II, Ziska's mother seizes the chance to get Ziska out of Germany. Ziska goes to England on one of the kindertransports that had been arranged to take Jewish children to foster families in England. There she finds herself living with a Jewish family and becoming Francis. She has to deal with the living in London during the war and worrying about her friends and family that she left behind in Germany while questioning who she is, what she believes, and where she belongs. I found this to be a very interesting coming of age story and a new view of the English home front in a Jewish community.

MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertshe

MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche covers Rachel Bertsche's year long quest to find a new local BFF. After having been in Chicago for a year, and not developing a new local best friend to compliment the collection of long term best friends that were now long distance, she decided that something had to change. In a leap of faith and determination, she decides to commit to 52 friend dates in a year. What follows is an wonderful trip through not only the stories of the people she meets when she makes the determination to make the first move, but a survey of the research that has been done on who becomes friends, what are good things to look for in friends, and what roles friends play in people's lives. My favorite part was the insight into why we need friends.

One of the other things I enjoyed is the variety of examples of how to meet people who are potential friends in the book. Great insight that I've used both for myself and to friends who are also looking to build friendships closer to them as well. In a society that seems to be increasingly mobile, the willingness to go out and find friends when they don't just appear is important. MWF seeking BFF gives encouragement and ideas for how to get started.

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Seeds of Discovery and Roots of Insight

Seeds of Discovery and Roots of Insight by Breeana Puttroff are the first two books in a series that I recently discovered. I was completely captivated by the story and the characters, especially Thomas Rose.

In Seeds of Discovery, Quinn Robbins' attention is drawn to her mysterious classmate William Rose. Once she starts paying attention to him, she only has more and more questions about who he is and where he comes from. So she decides to follow him and find out. Little does she expect him to be from a fairytale kingdom on the other side of a magic gate that connects her little Colorado town to the kingdom of Eirentheos. Once there, she finds herself caught up in inter-kingdom politics and a mysterious epidemic as she meets William's family and finds the answers to most of her questions, only to find more questions needing answers. In Roots of Insight, Quinn, Willams and Thomas's story continues with further adventures in Eirentheos and challenges as Quinn tries to balance her attachment to the people she met in Eirentheos and with living her life on Earth with her family and close friend Zander.

The world of Eirentheos was fascinating to visit and get to know along with Quinn. While there is a very fairytale feel to the world, it isn't the typical fairytale world of the Grimm stories, and that was one of my favorite parts of the books. The world felt rich and new. The other part was the characters. Watching Quinn explore and discover the world William and his younger brother Thomas was wonderful. I laughed out loud nearly every time Thomas was around. I can't wait to read the next book and see what happens with Quinn, William, Zander and Thomas.

Seeds of Discovery is available in ebook and paperback from and starting 1/9/12, Roots of Insight will be there too!

*I bought Seeds of Discovery and was given a ARC of Roots of Insight by the author but was not paid or otherwise compensated for this review.