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Book Review: Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

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Sky Raiders Review

Official Overview:

Cole Randolph was just trying to have a fun time with his friends on Halloween (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But when a spooky haunted house turns out to be a portal to something much creepier, Cole finds himself on an adventure on a whole different level.

After Cole sees his friends whisked away to some mysterious place underneath the haunted house, he dives in after them and ends up in The Outskirts. The Outskirts are made up of five kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. It’s an in-between place. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from our world, or from other worlds.

And once you come to the Outskirts, it’s very hard to leave.

With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, it’s up to Cole and an unusual girl named Mira to rescue his friends, set things right in the Outskirts, and hopefully find his way back home before his existence is forgotten.

4 stars

My Review:

When I started Sky Raiders I was worried it was going to be a little too fantastical for me, but the more I read the more I enjoyed it.  The world Mull creates is amazing.  The Five Kingdoms is a combination of originality and the dreams and imaginings we all had as children. Was it weird sometimes? Yes, but only when it was meant to be weird.

My biggest issue with the book was I felt the plot kept getting in the way. (I am aware this is a weird issue, and I may be the only person who suffers from it). This isn’t to say I thought the plot was bad, it was just I got introduced to this great culture of the Sky Raiders and wanted to spend the entire book exploring the world and lifestyle, but wasn’t able to because the plot took me forward to a different part of the Five Kingdoms.  It was like reading Harry Potter, but not being able to explore Hogwarts. My favorite parts of books are the characters and the world building, and while I was able to learn more about the characters, I felt I never got enough of the world, which in all honesty, is probably a sign that the world was amazing. A book that makes me want more is usually a good thing.

I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series.

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Two Side Notes:

1. This book isn’t due to come out until Tuesday, but I’ve seen some stores putting it out early, so you may be able to get a hold of it today if you so choose.

2. Brandon Mull will be visiting the bookstore I work at on March 18! 😀 This will actually be the second time I get to meet him. He is an incredibly nice guy and takes the time to talk to each person who comes to get a book signed. I’m not sure how much time he’ll have to answer questions, but if there is anything you are dying to know about him or his writing process put it in the comments and I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

Brandon Mull


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Escape Reality Book Club: March’s Nominations

Hosted by Apathy & Rhetoric and The Obsessive Bookseller #EscapeRealityBC

#EscapeRealityBC

 Hosted by The Obsessive Bookseller and Apathy & Rhetoric (That’s me!).

Escape Reality Book Club is a monthly online book club. Everybody is welcome to join. If you want to know more about how it works click here.

Here are the nominations for March:

 shadow-and-bone

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

100

The 100 by Kass Morgan

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – again.

seraphina

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

unraveling

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle’s mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died… and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth’s destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.

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Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

You have until March 10 to vote. Choose wisely.


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Escape Reality Book Club’s Selection for February

Hosted by Apathy & Rhetoric and The Obsessive Bookseller #EscapeRealityBC

#EscapeRealityBC

Hosted by The Obsessive Bookseller and Apathy & Rhetoric (That’s me!)

Votes have been tallied and this month’s winner is Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson!

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Reading starts today!  Join us for discussion at our Facebook page and on Twitter at #EscapeRealityBC all this week. Comment below if you’ll be joining us. 🙂

If you’re wondering what this book club is you can read about it here.


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Book Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

This is a special book review because it is the review of January’s reading selection for the Escape Reality Book Club. (My apologies for being so late.) If you haven’t already voted for February’s selection, hurry up! Voting ends tonight (Feb 14).

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Abandon review

Official Overview:

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

1 star

My Review:

This book was extremely disappointing. I am a huge Meg Cabot fan, but if this book is any indicator Meg Cabot seems to have forgotten how to write. Everything is told in back story. Even when you think you’ve finally caught up, the book jumps ahead two days and then recaps. It’s annoying to say the least, not to mention boring. Cabot breaks the number one rule of writing: show, don’t tell. Everything is told.

 I also found the characters to be annoying sometimes and maybe unrealistic. Don’t even get me started on the romance scenes. Completely unbelievable (and remember, I normally like cheesy romance novels). The main character goes from terrified to in love in record time (with no real explanation why), while the boy she loves really needs to learn to communicate better.

There were moments that I loved, and thought showed great potential, but they were few and far between. I almost gave this book two stars just because of those small glimmers of hope, and because Cabot is one of my top ten favorite authors, but the reality is I can’t see myself recommending this book to anyone.

In conclusion, if you want a great, fun read I suggest any Meg Cabot book but this one.


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Escape Reality Book Club: February’s Nominations

Hosted by Apathy & Rhetoric and The Obsessive Bookseller #EscapeRealityBC

#EscapeRealityBC

 Hosted by The Obsessive Bookseller and Apathy & Rhetoric (That’s me!).

Escape Reality Book Club is a monthly online book club. Everybody is welcome to join. If you want to know more about how it works click here.

It’s time to vote for February’s book. Voting lasts from now until the fourteenth, and then we’ll read and tweet about the winning title the following week.

Here’s the nominations:

steelSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson

There are no heroes. Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.  Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

the-enemyThe Enemy by Charlie Higson

They’ll chase you. They’ll rip you open. They’ll feed on you…When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician – every adult – fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city – down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground – the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there – alive?

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Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

miss-peregrineMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

rithmatistRithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles. As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.


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Book Review: The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

trioUndead Pool Summary

Official Overview:

Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering.

Rachel must stop the occurrences before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and it becomes all-out supernatural war. However, the only way to do so is through the ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils.

4 stars

My Review:

I love this series, but at the same time always feel a little bored when I read it. Unfortunately, I can’t pinpoint why. The books have excellent plots, wonderful characters, and great writing. They just never seem to move as fast as I want them to. Perhaps I’m too impatient.

In any case, The Undead Pool is of the same caliber of quality as all of the eleven previous books, which means all you super fans out there should be very excited. While maybe not my favorite of the series, I definitely think Undead Pool is one of the better ones. The sad news is there is reportedly only going to be one more Hollows book after this one, which surprised me because I felt this one ended with enough new intrigue to keep the series going for awhile. 😦

One of my favorite things about this book was the character interaction. A key part to this series has been the trio (Rachel, Ivy, and Jenks) working together and helping each other. Each character had a unique skill and role to play. I’ve felt as though that element had disappeared in recent books, but am happy to say it makes a comeback. This of course means we see more of Ivy again, who seemed to have disappeared in the last couple of books. I missed her. The way she interacts with (and intimidates) people is always fun to read. Now, if only we can get back Glenn…

I also liked the development of Trent’s storyline, but I won’t give any details on that because of spoilers. I’m just happy that certain actions finally take place.

The second thing I really loved was the elven magic and the direction Harrison took with it. It opened up whole new realms of possibilities. I’ve always liked that in this series the magic has a clear method about it and seems almost scientific. Elven magic, on the other hand, breaks that mold. It follows completely different rules (which is probably why it gets called wild magic), and that excites me. I don’t know how to say more without giving away spoilers. Let’s just say the next book should be interesting.

There were a lot of key things that happened in this book (some subtle, some major) to progress the overall arc of the series. I was happy to see some of the loose ends that I felt were dragging the series down finally get resolved in this book. There was also a lot of new avenues opened, which left me (and will probably leave you, too) eagerly anticipating the next and final book. Let’s hope it comes quickly.


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Top Ten Worlds I Would Want to Live In

As promised…

1. Hogwarts from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Who wouldn’t?

2. Pern from The Dragonrider’s of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey – First off, you have the chance to be a dragonrider. On dragons that can go between time and place. Then there is the whole society of crafters and holders, which sounds kinda awesome. Plus who wouldn’t want to live on the Southern Continent where you can swim in the ocean all day and pick your dinner off of trees? Sure, there is the deadly thread that falls from the sky, but as long as you’re indoors you’re fine.

3. Fablehaven from Fablehaven by Brandon Mull – A secret reserve for all things magical that also has its own swimming pool. Just the fairies alone would make it worth it.

4.The Castle (and other worlds) from the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage – The Castle is my first preference because it has the underground tunnels and is the place to be if you want to become a wizard. However, the Marram Marshes and the Port sound pretty fun too. The forest would be fun to visit, but maybe not live. I think I’d try to stay clear of the Badlands.

5. Aloria of the Belgariad and Mallorean series by David Eddings – I can’t decide where in Aloria I’d like to live because each kingdom is so unique and fun. I’m thinking maybe Drasnia because of the spying (aka: knowing everything) and the secret sign language. I’d really like to be a sorceress, but living in the vale sounds kinda lonely.

6. Fictional Earth in The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs – This world is just like ours with the added benefit of werewolves, vampires, and fae; however, something about it is a lot more compelling than other paranormal stories. I think I could thrive in a werewolf pack like Adam’s or Bran’s. 🙂

7. Camp Half-Blood from Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan – I think the idea of being half god appeals to me way more than the actual camp, but I have always loved Greek mythology. I don’t think I’d enjoy the fighting though…

8. Fictional Historic England from most historical romance novels – So I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have liked the real England way back when, but the romance novels make it sound fun. Lots of parties and dances and a society that thinks people should never speak to each other until after they’ve been introduced, which would take away a lot of the anxiety. Not to mention, I’d be a total wallflower, which means I would be the one who got the devastatingly handsome and perfect man who plays the hero in all the best novels.

9. Krynn from the Dragonlance Saga by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman  –  I love the gnomes. I also think it would be cool to live in a tree. It’s been a long time since I’ve read these books, but I remember liking all the settings.

10. New Avalon from How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier – First off, everyone should read this book. It is uniquely brilliant, which is why I want to live in its world. The people in the city seem awesome and quirky and fun. I also want a fairy. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what mine should be. 😦

 

There you have it. A list that turned out to be much harder than the one about places I’d hate. I’m still not sure this list is accurate. Here are a few more titles that almost made the cut (mostly because I like their magic):

Landover from The Magical Kingdom of Landover series by Terry Brooks

Four Lands of The Shannara Series by Terry Brooks

Elenia from the Elenium and Tamuli series by David Eddings

Midkemia from The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist

D’Hara from The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind