Monday, March 31, 2014

Hedgie's Must Reads: March 2014

Happy spring! Though you wouldn't be able to tell it's spring with the weather around here. Rain, freezing nights - bloody awful. However, things are starting to push through the soil - lots and lots of flowers! Yay! March was a really good reading month for Hedgie and I. Only two bad reads, and they were only 2-strawberry reads, not Special Awfulness Award or 1-strawberry. I hope next month is just as good.

March Reading Wrap-Up

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (3/5)
In Kestrel's world, women either join the army or get married. The daughter of the kingdom's most famous general, Kestrel's choice ought to be obvious. It isn't. When she buys a Herrani slave for no reason that she understands, her choices become even muddier, as she questions her country's right to enslave those they conquer. But the slave Arin isn't all he seems, either; he has rebellion in mind. The first book in a planned trilogy/series, I did find this oddly entertaining, despite the rather heavy romance and clumsy world building. The beginning is slow, but the end picks up, and the characters are all relatively likable, though not entirely memorable. Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, great for fans of Defy and other fantasy romances.

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray (3/5)
Book #1 in a series. Descended from a line of witches, Nadia is able to sense magic as well as use it. So when she arrives in quiet, dilapidated Captive's Sound, she knows that dark magic is responsible for the almost-sick feeling the town has. Then she meets Mateo, a young man whose family has been cursed to go insane from seeing the future. Mateo has been seeing Nadia in his dreams - dreams that often end with her death. And now his dreams are coming true. A really fun witch-fiction book. The romance isn't as heavy as one might expect, Nadia is a good protagonist, and the story holds a very dark and spooky aspect. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of witch fiction like The Cahill Witch Chronicles!

Steadfast by Claudia Gray (3/5)
Book #2 in the Spellcaster series. Nadia and her friends thought they had defeated the Sorceress Elizabeth and saved Captive's Sound. But something dark has escaped and now people around town are falling unconscious from some strange illness. The spooky aspect is actually a little less in this installment, the romance a little heavier, and Nadia spends a bit too much time blaming herself for things. But as a sequel, and a bridge between Book #1 and Book #3, it worked very well. Besides, how can you not like Asa? Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of witch fiction like The Cahill Witch Chronicles!

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull (3/5)
Book #1 in the Five Kingdoms series. Cole and his friends are just having fun on Halloween, checking out the new haunted house in the neighborhood. But suddenly things go horribly wrong, and Cole and his friends are taken as slaves into another dimension called The Outskirts - an in-between place with bizarre wonders and a High King who is up to no good. It's up to Cole to save his friends - and quite possibly The Outskirts itself. This is a really fun adventure/fantasy book with a lot of weird stuff that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That isn't due to any bad world building, though - Cole is merely as ignorant as we Readers are, and we're learning right along with him. Girl-and-boy read, nine-and-up, great for Brandon Mull fans!

Pawn by Aimee Carter (3/5)
The first book in The Blackcoat Rebellion series. When Kitty is given a chance to go from a lowly III to a VII, she takes it. But she's gotten more than what she bargained for, when she's surgically Masked to look exactly like the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. Now, Kitty must pretend to be Lila - a girl who had a load of secrets. Secrets that Kitty has now inherited. As far as dystopian goes, it wasn't bad. I didn't care about Kitty, but I did like Knox, there is no love triangle, and the dictatorship is relatively believable. Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, good for fans of dystopian.

March Best Reads

Cress by Marissa Meyer (4/5)
Book #3 in The Lunar Chronicles. Cress has been trapped on her satellite since childhood, tasked with spying on Earth for Queen Levana. Now the queen has ordered Cress to hunt down Cinder and her friends, but Cress wants to do nothing more than help them. Scarlet is still my favorite, but Cress was most certainly not a disappointment as a third book. Cress is a great addition to the crew, there's lots of development and setup for Book #4, and I simply cannot dislike anything about this book! Girl-and-guy read, fourteen-and-up, great for fans of fairy tale retellings and science fiction.

Thief's War by Hilari Bell (5/5)
Book #4 in the Knight & Rogue series. In the aftermath of the stopping the wreckers and Jack escaping, knight errant Michael and his reluctant squire Fisk head on to more adventure. Michael hopes to track Jack and his mysterious "employer" down, but Fisk isn't willing to capture his former mentor - the man who taught him everything to survive on the streets. Neither of them has any idea just how powerful this mysterious "employer" really is . . . until it's too late. This might be my favorite out of the series. The villain is just - oh my gosh. He totally made this book. There's the characteristic humor, the mystery novel feel, and the hint of magic. But Roseman is so amazingly creepy. Girl-and-guy read, fifteen-and-up, great for fans of fantasy and Hilari Bell!

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington (4/5)
A scholarship to one of the most prestigious prep schools is Liv Bloom's only chance out of the foster care system. But just when life seems to be going Liv's way, she's brutally murdered. As a ghost, Liv begins to discover the dark secrets surrounding the school and the prestigious families that attend it. She's not the first girl to have been murdered, and their ghosts stalk the halls. Liv must rely on Gabe, an outcast scholarship student who can see and hear the ghosts, to help her solve her murder and the murders of the other girls. This is a beautifully-written, fast-paced, haunting story. Lots of good characters, but not a lot of character development, and yes, insta-love. Which somehow worked.

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (4/5)
Book #1 in the Age of Legend series. Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of the Forest of the Dead. Their job is to sooth the damned souls of condemned people and keep them from leaving the Forest of the Dead. But when Ashyn goes to do this, things go horribly wrong. Something escapes and soon creatures from legend begin to appear everywhere. This was a very creepy, but very awesome and engaging book. I really liked the characters, the world, the plot, and even the writing. Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of high fantasy and supernatural.

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (4/5)
Book #1 in The Internment Chronicles. Morgan has lived on the floating, isolated world of Internment her whole life - a place where everything is the same, and everything is kept safe by the ever-vigilant eyes of the monarchy. But Morgan is obsessed with the world below, and when a young girl is murdered - the first crime in a generation - Morgan begins to question her perfect world. The Author's writing has excelled in leaps and bounds, the characters are wonderful, and the world is just pure awesome. I really, really enjoyed this book, and I cannot believe it's written by the same person who did The Chemical Garden Trilogy. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of dystopian!

March Worst Reads

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin (2/5)
Book #2 in the Ashfall trilogy. Darla and Alex have lived through a lot since the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted and plunged the world into the Dark Ages. But now they must retrace their path in order to find Alex's parents. But the dangers they faced almost six months ago have grown, and Alex will have to be stronger than ever before when the unthinkable happens. Ashfall dragged in areas, but I still liked it. Ashen Winter is essentially Ashfall all over again - only slower.And this time around, I no longer care what happens to Darla and Alex. If it weren't for the continued plausibility of this post-apocalyptic world and the cannibals, I would have given it a mere 1/5 strawberries. Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (2/5)
Prenna James is part of a small community of time travelers who have traveled back to 2014 to escape a future devastated by plague and poverty. But Prenna soon realizes that the community leaders are doing nothing to change the bleak future, and it's up to her and the boy she loves to stop one single event that changes the entire course of history. I liked the characters at first, and the plot was even well-paced at the beginning. But then it got totally bogged down by romance and preachy eco-mentalist messages. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of time travel and eco-mentalist babble.

Best and Worst Book of the Month

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