• ❤ Tue, May. 28, 2013

    Review: The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

    Disclaimer: No spoilers from The Girl with the Iron Touch but read with caution if you have not read The Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl in the Clockwork Collar!

    The Girl with the Iron Touch

    The Girl with the Iron Touch info

    Review

    Griffin King and his growing group of friends have dealt with their share of evil in the past, but they are about to experience evil on a whole new level. When automatons kidnap Emily O’Brien and instruct her to save their master via implantation, she quickly learns that the donor is none other than Garibaldi, The Machinist himself. He should have died when the warehouse collapsed on top of him awhile ago, but his body was never recovered and now Emily understands why.

    While the gang searches for Emily, Griffin deals with physical attacks from the Aether that deplete his energy as well as his feelings for Finley; Finley sorts through her conflicting feelings for Griffin and for Jack Dandy; Sam frantically searches for Emily to bring her home safe and reveal how he feels; and Jasper is off with Wildcat on their own business.

    But Emily is in the most danger and she has to use her wits and mechanical prowess to trick The Machinist and his automatons without them catching on…or at least stall them long enough for her friends to find her.

    First, I would like to note that I did not read the synopsis before reading the book and now that I read the synopsis in preparation for this post, I am a bit baffled. Things happened in the synopsis that I do not recall reading about in the actual book. I know it took me a few days to get through it, but my memory is usually better than that so I am not sure if this is one of those cases when new content has been added to the finished book that I did not get in the ARC or if the synopsis is just off or if I am just losing my mind. Just so you know!

    Troubles that plagued the gang in The Girl in the Steel Corset came back to bite them at their heels in the third book, The Girl with the Iron Touch. Each of them, but Sam and Finley especially, suspected that Griffin had inklings of what might be going on from his connection to the Aether, but since he would not let them in on it, lots of arguing ensued. But discord between them turned to concern when Emily went missing.

    Evil had returned and it was worse than ever but Kady Cross managed some lighter moments between her characters. She slowly revealed romantic feelings between a few of my favorite characters, which felt like a long time coming. But I was disappointed by the lack of another of my favorite characters in this series and book: Jasper. Where was Jasper? He was here and there, but he was not there nearly enough for me and when he was there, he was distant, which makes sense after what he went through in The Girl in the Clockwork Collar but I missed him.

    At this point I must deal with another misconception of mine. For some reason I had been thinking of this as the last book in a trilogy and I noted that almost all the way through to the end, it never felt like an ending to an overall story. It felt like a continuation that would go on even after The Girl with the Iron Touch. The actual ending did have some closure but it was still open-ended enough to suggest updates from Kady Cross in the future….and then I learned that she is actually working on the fourth book in the series. So yes, it is a series, not a trilogy and there will be more soon!

    Overall, The Girl with the Iron Touch did not excite me as much as the others but I am chalking that up to work and the holiday weekend distractions rather than any faults with the book (except the lack of Jasper!).

    Recommended for fans of steampunk. Read if you like Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and Etiquette & Espionage as well as Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly, both of which feature historical settings with steampunk themes.

    Rating: 4

    Kady CrossKady Cross is a pseudonym for Kathryn Smith. The Girl in the Steel Corset was the first in the Steampunk Chronicles series. There is also a short prequel titled, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne. The second full-length book was The Girl in the Clockwork Collar and now the third, The Girl with the Iron Touch, is available. Cross lives in Connecticut with her husband and cats and is currently working on the fourth book in the series. Also, stay tuned for 1 July 2013, when her second eNovella will release, titled The Dark Discovery of Jack Dandy.

    Buy on: AmazonThe Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million

    Related posts:

    Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset
    Review: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar


    Comments

    Tags: 2013 | review | YA | fiction | ARC | eBook | NetGalley | 2013 150 Reading Challenge | 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge | 2013 Young Adult Reading Challenge | science | steampunk | historical | 2013 eBook Challenge |
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  • ❤ Sun, May. 12, 2013

    Review: The Savage Blue by Zoraida Córdova (The Savage Blue Blog Tour) + Giveaway

    Disclaimer: No spoilers from The Savage Blue, but read with caution if you have not read The Vicious Deep!

    The Savage Blue Blog Tour

    The Savage Blue

    The Savage Blue Book Details

    Review

    A lot has happened since Tristan Hart learned that he was a merman and the son of the Sea King. He met tons of merpeople and other fantastical creatures, including an oracle, he was plagued in his dreams by Nieve, the crazy sea witch with the shark teeth, who also sent her deformed creatures to attack Tristan and his friends…he even lost one of his good friends in all of the chaos.

    And the chaos only continues to grow as Tristan searches for the remaining trident pieces and realizes that he must pool the resources around him. But instead of gaining, he stands to lose through multiple betrayals and everything comes down to one choice: pursue the kingship or pursue Layla.

    When The Savage Blue began, it quickly became apparent that only two weeks had passed since the end of The Vicious Deep. Zoraida Córdova sucked me back into her wonderful Coney Island and underwater worlds – so much so that I barely paused and remembered to take any notes while I was reading. Córdova really brought to life something special with these books and with Tristan Hart, a super well-written and realistic male character. I loved his personality and humor and his flaws.

    Tristan still had his sarcastic humor that lightened up even the direst of moments and things between him and his best friend Layla have heated up to entice and tease themselves and the reader amongst everything else that was going on. These scenes were nice little breaks from the very different kind of tension going on for most of the book.

    I liked that Gwen, the lone merprincess, was still around a lot in The Savage Blue. I enjoyed her even though I was not sure if she had some other hidden agenda…for now, I like to remember her as she was for the majority of the book.

    Thalia was not around as much but her brother Kurt was and Córdova gave the reader the opportunity to learn more about him regarding his past and his personality. It was fun to see his softer and his silly sides and his ire and sensuality was also revealed, which was all a big change from his cool and calm demeanor. Even with everything I learned about Kurt in The Savage Blue, many more questions were raised.

    The Savage Blue was even better and more intense than The Vicious Deep. There was tons of action and revelations, some of which were incredibly shocking and totally unexpected for me. This book definitely seems like the game-changer of the series for me and if the next book follows the bar Córdova set for herself, it promises to be even better than the first two and totally epic.

    Recommended for readers sixteen and older who enjoy fantasy and paranormal books and who want a realistic teen male voice as the narrator and protagonist. If you are already a fan of The Vicious Deep, there is no doubt that you have to read The Savage Blue immediately.

    Rating:5

    ZoraidaZoraida Córdova decided becoming an author was her path in life when she read In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and because of an English class she took. The Vicious Deep was her hilarious and suspenseful debut novel and The Savage Blue is now available.

    Buy on: AmazonThe Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million

    Related posts:

    Guest Post: Zoraida on Learning English
    Review: The Vicious Deep


    Comments

    Tags: 2013 | review | YA | fiction | fantasy | paranormal | ARC | eBook | NetGalley | 2013 150 Reading Challenge | 2013 eBook Challenge | 2013 Young Adult Reading Challenge | The Savage Blue Blog Tour |
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  • ❤ Mon, Feb. 18, 2013

    Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda (Triple Threat Blog Tour)

    Triple Threat Blog Tour

    Hysteria by Megan Miranda

    On a fateful summer evening, Mallory’s boyfriend Brian breaks into her house. He is drunk, belligerent, and coming at her, causing damage to her and the house. In self-defense, Mallory kills him. Although she was never charged or saw the inside of a prison cell, the details of that night are murky and haunt Mallory every day.

    After Brian’s mom begins stalking Mallory’s house, her parents get a restraining order and then decide to send her to Monroe, a boarding school in another state, where she can get away from everything going on at home. Mallory does not mind the out so much, but she does mind having to leave her best friend, Colleen, who has been there for her every step of the way.

    At school, Mallory realizes she cannot totally escape her past when she runs into Reid Carlson, a boy whose father was a friend of hers. What makes things worse is that Jason, another student, has connections at the school and knows what Mallory is capable of. No hiding this secret. Especially since the visions come to Mallory every single night and begin leaving physical marks on her body, making her question what is real and what is not.

    Hysteria was a very well-written book that revealed things in such a way that kept me guessing and also satisfied me as I was fed each nugget of knowledge. The book was not really scary, but it was a psychological thriller that made me feel uneasy for Mallory and the other characters at times. Mallory lived through a traumatic experience and even though it was considered self-defense, she had lived with guilt ever since and she began having hallucinations - at least that was what I had hoped they were because they seemed so real. She thought Brian was coming for her every night in a constant replay of what happened that night and nothing she did could stop it. Her body even began to physically suffer from one part of her hysteria. Reid, a boy she almost became involved with a few years back, told her that his mom experienced hysteria after a traumatic event and that he learned it was called conversion disorder and it might apply to Mallory, but she was doubtful and so was I, not knowing how long and to what extent it could last.

    As Mallory dealt with her daily trials at her new school, I learned more about that summer she dated Brian through alternating flashbacks. However, they did not necessarily stay in order so that every time I thought I would read about the actual killing blow and know exactly what had happened, it would flash back to a different passage.

    Hysteria was a very psychological thriller. I was not sure the exact circumstances of the incident that led to the murder so there was, to me, the possibility that it may not have been self-defense or that what actually happened was different from how Mallory remembered it. Then there was what physically happened to Mallory and I could not tell if it was real because she hid the physical evidence from other people even though there was at least one time that I thought someone else noticed it but Megan Miranda crafted the scene so carefully that I could not know for sure. I could not help but sympathize with Mallory because she felt like a victim who was still being wronged for what happened to her and what she did to save herself because everyone else stayed far away from her for the most part and acted like she was a bad person and a liar…but they never acted afraid of her like I felt people would have around someone who had killed.

    Oooh, and Miranda gave me a huge shocker in the last quarter or so of Hysteria that blindsided me. As if that was not enough, there was another shocker closer to the end; one that really, really mattered. There really was a lot of mystery and even more suspense. It was a page turner that I enjoyed and I was even more into it than I was with Miranda’s debut young adult novel, Fracture.

    Recommended for young adult book fans fourteen and older who enjoyed Megan Miranda’s Fracture as well as other boarding school thrillers such as The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman and the high school thriller Cracked Up to Be, because I think you will enjoy Hysteria much more!

    Rating rounded up from 4.5 because I do not have half-ratings.

    Rating: 5

    Megan MirandaMegan Miranda was a scientist, high school teacher, and then a stay-at-home mom before writing Fracture. Her debut was inspired by her fascination with scientific mysteries, particularly those involving the human brain. She has a BS in biology from MIT and lives near Charlotte, North Carolina where she volunteers at MIT. Hysteria is her second novel and the third, Vengeance (2014) will be a sequel to Fracture.

    Buy on: AmazonThe Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million

    Related post:

    Review: Fracture


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    Tags: 2013 | YA | fiction | ARC | review | thriller | mystery | contemporary | eBook | NetGalley | Triple Threat Blog Tour | 2013 150 Reading Challenge | 2013 eBook Challenge | 2013 Young Adult Reading Challenge |
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  • ❤ Thu, Jan. 31, 2013

    Review: The Midwife’s Tale by Sam Thomas (Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours)

    HFVBT

    The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas

    The Midwife's Tale details

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    Publication Date: January 8, 2013 | Minotaur Books | 320p

    SYNOPSIS: In the tradition of Arianna Franklin and C. J. Sansom comes Samuel Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Midwife’s Tale.

    It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. Even as the city suffers at the rebels’ hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion. One of Bridget’s friends, Esther Cooper, has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to be burnt alive. Convinced that her friend is innocent, Bridget sets out to find the real killer.

    Bridget joins forces with Martha Hawkins, a servant who’s far more skilled with a knife than any respectable woman ought to be. To save Esther from the stake, they must dodge rebel artillery, confront a murderous figure from Martha’s past, and capture a brutal killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. The investigation takes Bridget and Martha from the homes of the city’s most powerful families to the alleyways of its poorest neighborhoods. As they delve into the life of Esther’s murdered husband, they discover that his ostentatious Puritanism hid a deeply sinister secret life, and that far too often tyranny and treason go hand in hand.

    review

    Against the backdrop of civil unrest in seventeenth century York, England, Lady Bridget Hodgson does what she does best: delivering babies. But her life becomes immensely more complicated when her friend is accused and found guilty of killing her own husband and when her new maid Martha’s past ends up threatening them both.

    I have to admit that within the first few pages of The Midwife’s Tale, I was surprised to learn that midwife Bridget Hodgson was Lady Hodgson. I believe that Sam Thomas’ book is the first I have read around this time period and earlier that dealt directly with a midwife rather than a few sentences during a birth in other historical fiction novels (which is totally okay). I guess I never picked up on or thought much about a midwife’s station while reading other books so I was glad to have this story to read and to expand my thinking.

    I really liked and respected Lady Bridget Hodgson. Despite being born into wealth, she had faced more than her fair share of hardship and although every ache and loss grieved her, she never let it rule her. As a still young and twice-widowed woman, she was very wise and chose to remain unmarried and focus on her duties as a midwife. Bridget almost always could tell when she was being lied to and she did not make rash decisions, weighing both sides and allowing the benefit of the doubt when it made sense to do so. Through it all, she still had her fears and her frights but it served only to turn her into a more three-dimensional character.

    I was also fond of Martha; she was quite the spitfire. She was a skilled maid, but she had far more useful and shocking skills that came in handy in certain situations. She was funny and bold and Bridget usually did not scold her for it, rather enjoying the humor and other outrageous comments Martha made. However, part of me always worried about her potentially turning on Bridget.

    The characters were fantastic but the murder mystery (or should I say “mysteries”?) were both equally vexing. The first involved Bridget’s good friend, Esther, a merchant’s wife. Accused of murdering her husband, she was sentenced to die and Bridget, convinced of Esther’s innocence, raced against the clock to clear her name by investigating the case on her own with Martha. The secondary murder was a bit of a surprise, and of course it was horrible, but it added depth to the story. Thomas formulated both mysteries really well. I could not tell what the outcomes would be and every time Bridget doubted herself, I doubted as well. There was much happening with various characters and various accounts so that it was not clear to me how the story would play out – which is what I want in a mystery. I wanted to guess at the next clue and the ultimate resolution without being certain of the answer and The Midwife’s Tale gave me that.

    Furthermore, the time period was attractive to me. I would not normally read a book centered on a midwife, but I love English history, especially from the Plantagenets through the Stuarts. The Midwife’s Tale took place during King Charles I’s time as the first English Civil War escalated, a few short years before the demise of the monarchy and Oliver Cromwell’s subsequent rule. There were allusions to the king and his policies and of Parliament and Cromwell that all played out in the background but affected Bridget’s life through the fighting right outside of York’s walls and by the political strains of leaders inside the walls that trickled down to affect what she was facing directly.

    Thomas did excellent work marrying historical fiction with murder mysteries. The Midwife’s Tale was an exciting page-turner that I wanted to read straight through but I had to take breaks here and there to take care of real life. It was also thought-provoking. Thomas and his characters challenged and tested the social order of their world, known to them as the natural order. Bridget was close to her elderly servant Hannah and she allowed her to speak freely to her. She hired and then befriended Martha, who was her junior in age but still closer in age to Bridget than Hannah. Bridget had Martha help her with births and they even took refreshment and some meals together. Additionally, Martha not only spoke freely with and to Bridget, but she also spoke boldly. It shocked Bridget once in awhile but the word that came out of Martha’s mouth amused her and she recognized a kindred spirit in her with her strength, confidence, and intelligence. But Bridget’s relationships with her servants were very different from those of most of her peers. No one else she knew had such relationships with their staff and some could be downright cruel.

    If you choose to read The Midwife’s Tale, which I highly recommend, you will learn of the injustices done to the servants and how their masters/mistresses could most times get away with being cruel while the servants suffered extreme consequences if they pushed back. I appreciated how Thomas explored these social and economic issues and the human condition. Those issues were the most prominent for me as I read, even though the political side was present.

    Recommended for readers sixteen and older who love reading historical fiction, especially set in seventeenth century England, and for readers of mysteries. Those looking to begin reading these genres would do well to read The Midwife’s Tale because it represented the best of both genres. It will whet your appetite and more. Because it was a murder mystery set in a very different time, there were violent and gruesome depictions integral to the plot. I definitely recommend The Midwife’s Tale as a book to buy for your shelf and/or eReader and to gift to others!

    5 Stars

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sam Thomas
    Sam Thomas is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy. He has published articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. Thomas lives in Alabama with his wife and two children.


    Buy on: AmazonThe Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million

    Thank you to Amy of Passages to the Past for allowing me to be a part of The Midwife’s Tale tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

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    Tags: 2013 | review | adult | fiction | historical | ARC | NetGalley | mystery | 2013 150 Reading Challenge | 2013 eBook Challenge | 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge | 2013 Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge | Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours |
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  • ❤ Wed, Jan. 30, 2013

    Review: Exposure (Twisted Lit, 2) by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

    Exposure Twisted Lit

    Exposure Details

    Review

    Skye Kingston is no stranger to being a social outcast. Even though she grew up with almost everyone at her Anchorage, Alaska high school, Skye lives her life on the periphery, preferring to hide behind her camera lens than face people full on. She really only interacts with the school newspaper crew, a group of three unique girls, and Craig McKenzie, her good friend when he is not near the in-crowd and her sole crush. But a twist of fate throws everyone’s high school career off course. Amongst weird prophecies, a crazy cheerleader, and too many horrible truths, Skye needs to decide whether to keep all she knows to herself or reveal it all while more lives are destroyed.

    Told in retrospect, Exposure chronicled Skye’s turbulent senior year of high school, Shakespeare-style. Kim Askew and Amy Helmes updated and twisted the classic Macbeth tragedy play into something familiar and yet different with its teenage characters and altered events. I will admit that I have never read or seen Macbeth. But I think most will agree when I point out that certain elements of the play have seeped into common knowledge and are recognizable to those of us who have not yet read it (some day). The ascension, the betrayal, the three witches…even the forest that moved – a few of the moments to which Kim Askew and Amy Helmes paid homage.

    I mainly connected with the main character, Skye. After her, I liked Cat, Kaya, and Tess for their independence and confidence in themselves and each other. All of the other characters were just…there. I felt Skye’s emotions throughout Exposure though: worry, guilt, dread, anxiety, relief, and more. I knew something bad was going to happen and I was on edge almost the entire time I was reading. What I did not know was which events would lead up to the ultimate bad thing or revelation. Skye’s life was spiraling out of control and everyone had secrets that should have been brought to light sooner to minimize the damage done.

    Interesting side note: a lot of the character names were Scottish, which was cool, but even cooler was what I learned while reading another book. Skye is the name of the largest island of Scotland. I love those little tidbits, don’t you? It probably is not new to most, but it was new to me because I do not know much about the parts of Scotland apparently!

    Exposure was a good story. It was the second book in Kim Askew’s and Amy Helmes’ Twisted Lit series, but both books cover different Shakespearean works with different characters, so I believe that they do not have to be read in order. The drama definitely sucked me in and had me on the edge of my seat. I was ambiguous about the last three or so chapters, but I realized that the outcome was necessary and I allowed the very last few sentences give me hope for Skye.

    Recommended for readers fourteen years and older who enjoy retellings and Shakespeare. There was some violence and language but nothing to shy away from.

    Rating rounded up from 3.5 because I do not have half-ratings.


    Kim Askew possesses a Bachelors degree in Renaissance Literature that has come in handy for her current projects. She has been published in various magazines and journals and she has been interviewed in newspapers and on radio for her work in pop culture. In addition to Exposure, she has authored Tempestuous with Amy Helmes.




    Amy Helmes is an author, editor, and consultant in Los Angeles. In addition to co-writing the Twisted Lit series, she had written Boys of a Feather: A Field Guide to North American Males and Boyfriend Wisdom.

    Buy on: AmazonThe Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million

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