Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

seige and storm

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

In this second part of Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, Alina and Mal are on the run from the evil Darkling in strange, foreign lands.  Somehow the depraved magician captures them again, and forces Alina to kill yet another magical animal and create a second amplifier for her magical sun summoning powers.  Much excitement, fighting and escaping ensues with the pair eventually being helped by an arrogant and infamous privateer.  He ends up taking them back to their homeland of Os Alta, the three working to save their country from the laziness of the current sovereign and the takeover by the vicious Darkling.

This was a great follow-up to Shadow and Bone, and I liked it even better.  In addition to lots of complicated plot action, the author continues to build their world for the readers, introducing us to new notable characters, too.  I highly recommend this to fans of the first novel, fantasy readers, and anyone who enjoys a strong female protagonist.

shadow and bone

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

shadow and bone

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Seventeen-year-old Alina Starkov and her best friend Mal have been together since they were children, both orphaned by the Border Wars and raised on the estate of Duke Keramsov, who took in orphans and war widows.  Together they join the army, she becoming a cartographer and Mal showing his skills by learning to be an expert tracker.   Their homeland of Ravka has been at war for years, and their regiment is being sent across the Shadow Fold, a pitch black area also known as the Unsea where horrific monsters are said to lurk in wait to attack humans.  When the Volcra do indeed attack their sand skiff, Alina is able to save herself, Mal and a few other travelers using some magical power she had never really known that she had.  She is immediately called a “Sun Summoner” and is taken to live at the king’s palace and become a Grisha, a revered group with special powers who help the king and are led by the mysterious Darkling.

This debut novel pulses with nonstop action and adventure.  My interest was captured immediately and I found myself going to bed early on a family vacation just to have time to read.  Bardugo creates an intricate fantasy reality that she describes in rich language, making it easy for readers to get caught up in Alina and Mal’s world.  Although the book contains some Russian words and names, readers will not be deterred from the fast-paced storytelling.  There is a romantic element interwoven through the story, adding even more plot twists to the book.  I loved this story and can highly recommend it to readers who enjoy dark fantasy, briskly-paced adventures and paranormal romance.  The sequel is on order for the  BHS library.

Seige and storm

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Cabot updates the Persephone and Hades myth in this first outing in her new  trilogy.  The beautiful seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera technically died by drowning in the family swimming pool but was revived, and hasn’t been the same since.  She didn’t see the bright lights that she had heard other people with near death experiences talk about, but she did meet the handsome, young controller Purgatory, from where souls are sent to either heaven or hell.  Although he tried to make her his bride, she escaped and has become weary of trying to convince her family and various therapists of what happened to her.  She has disengaged from her friends, classes and family, and her mother moves her back to their family’s ancestral homeland on an island off the Florida coast.  The story is full of twists and turns, from Pierce’s near death, to her best friend’s actual suicide, to an uncle who’s been recently released from prison.

Although the plot devices will keep readers engaged, it all became a little too much for me.  Cabot (famous for the Princess Diary books) manages to maintain a balance in the story telling, but I found myself drifting off mentally during the reading.  Regardless of my reaction, I thing Cabot fans and readers who love paranormal romance will be taken with this title.  We also have the second in the series–Underworld, and have the third on order.

underworld


Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

clockwork princess

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

This conclusion to Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy will have her hordes of fans begging for more books.  Luckily for them, the City of Bones movie will be released this summer.  The writer’s Facebook presence and fan websites are going berserk, most of us are just hoping that the movie lives up to all this hype.  Back on point, this book is a  thrilling and satisfying conclusion to the first two books.  All the important plot points are in place:

  • An engagement between Tessa and Jem
  • The love triangle still simmering between Tessa, Jem and Will
  • Mortmain has decided that marrying Tessa will somehow solidify his plans to take over the  worlds of the humans, the downworlders and the Shadowhunters
  • And he is up to even more despicable tricks this time, including launching his endless army of merciless automatons
  • And everyone’s favorite vampire Magnus Bane makes a brief appearance.

clockwork angel          clockwork

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

unbecoming

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

When seventeen-year-old Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital, she quickly learns that her best friend,  and her boyfriend and his sister have been killed in a freak accident in a building that collapsed while they were trying to explore its mysteries in the middle of the night.  As the only survivor with no memory of what happened, Mara is traumatized, and her family relocates to Florida to give her a fresh start.  As she begins her new private school, Mara quickly draws the negative attention of the local mean girl, while also intriguing the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen.  But when she continues to have terrifying nightmares and starts to see her dead boyfriend, her unwelcome and frightening memories begin coming back.

This suspenseful book will keep readers engrossed and on their toes following the clues Hodkins slowly reveals.  Teens looking for a smoldering romance will be more than satisfied, as the gorgeous and mysterious Noah Shaw is relentless in his pursuit of Mara, who’s not exactly fighting him off.  I highly recommend this to teen readers who enjoy mysteries and suspense, romance and a touch of the paranormal.  Hodkins continues the story in her next title The Evolution of Mara Dyer.

evolution

Forever

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

This third title in Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy picks up Grace and Sam’s love story where she left readers hanging in Linger.  In Shiver Grace and Sam met and fell in love.  The problem was that Sam was a werewolf each winter.  In Linger  Sam figured out  way to remain human, but then Grace started shifting into her latent werewolf form.  Forever takes their love to its culmination, when they strive to stay both human and in love at the same time.

While Shiver is still my favorite of the three, this book was a lot stronger that than Linger. They plotting was tight, and the minor characters of Cole and Isabel played crucial roles, instead of simply feeling as if they were thrown in to add interest.  Many readers found them pretty unlikable, but inthis book they feel more human, with the writer painting them in shades of gray instead of just black and white.

I would recommend the series to fans of urban fantasy and anyone looking for a good romance.

         

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Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole has been seeing ghosts from the past since her parents were killed in a freak accident four years ago.  She was even institutionalized at one point due to the mysterious visions and deep grief she could not overcome about her parents’ death.  But her much older and caring brother keeps bringing various experts to try to help her, and she even lived a somewhat normal life for three years at a boarding school, using meds that numbed her emotions, but at least let her function.  But when her scholarship runs out, she returns to live with her brother Thomas and his wife in their home in Ivy Springs, their small Southern hometown.

No one knows, but she stopped taking her medication recently and has begun seeing the visions from the past again–from Southern belles reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara to jazz trios in her brother’s newly renovated restaurant.  Knowing that she’s not feeling right again, Thomas brings his newest expert to try to help Emerson: a handsome, mysterious hunk barely older than she is to whom Em feels magnetically drawn.  This Michael Weaver seems to believe and  understand her visions, and not only wants to help her control them, but needs her help for a secret project involving the cryptic Hourglass institute he works with.

This book is a fast and fun read that will not disappoint fans of the paranormal, romance and fantasy.  It’s the first in a series, and readers will eagerly want the next installment, Timepiece which we have on order.  Here’s a link to the author’s blog for more info about her and the book:  http://myramcentire.blogspot.com/.