Tag Archives: strong female protagonist

Corrie Wang’s The Takedown 

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Corrie Wang’s The Takedown 

Corrie Wang’s The Takedown wasn’t really on my radar until I saw it on the Amazon editor’s picks for YA in April, but I’m so glad I snagged a last minute ARC on NetGalley.  I could not put it down. There is a lot going on in this story beyond the very compelling mystery of who is trying to ruin Kyla, and it is both timely and engaging.  The Takedown is publishing Tuesday, April 11, 2017, and it is well worth your time.


Goodreads Summary

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

My Thoughts

It was thought-provoking to follow Kyla through an experience that blurred her carefully cultivated and curated image.  I really thought I would be cheering for the downfall of this queen bee, so imagine my surprise when her narrative voice spoke to me deeply.  Some people will only see a teen drama with a scary message about personal privacy, but I saw it as a book that makes readers think about how actions will always have consequences – good and bad.  Kyla’s character goes through a nice development without betraying her – she doesn’t have to become the things others want her to be in order to grow into a better version of herself – and that was really important to me as a reader.  The messages are relevant and strong, and I think they can speak to a wide audience.  And that mystery?  It kept me guessing right up until the big reveal – bravo! This is definitely going on my high school classroom library wishlist, and it is a book I will highly recommend to my students.  Language (some of it in annoying but relevant text talk) and situations are appropriate for grades 10+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Bone Witch

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The Bone Witch

I had really high expectations for Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch, especially because the publisher said it was for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.  The comparison is fair – these authors offer fantasy with diverse cultures and exotic settings.  They all feature magical elements and female protagonists who find themselves outside of their comfort zone in battles they never asked to fight.  My problem is that those comparisons lead me to expect a lot of action in The Bone Witch, and when it didn’t deliver, I was disappointed.  That is a real disservice to this book, though.  The Bone Witch has a lot to offer fantasy readers, and it is a solid four star read if you go into it with the right mindset.


Goodreads Summary

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

My Thoughts

This is a beautifully detailed book that develops a strong narrative voice and a rich culture and setting.  There is an elaborate way of life that readers must come to understand in order to see what the narrator is up against, but that takes a lot of time to establish.  If you are looking for more action, it is likely you will grow impatient with the minutiae of Tea’s life and training.  Readers who pick this up with clear expectations that this book is building to what I believe will be an epic battle in the next book will fare better.  I was particularly interested in the dual narrative – the author alternates  between Tea in the present and Tea in the past.  I liked how that built a lot of suspense, and I thought it was an interesting way to break up the monotony of dancing,  combat lessons, and detailed clothing descriptions.  I found the ending very intriguing, so I’m pretty sure I will pick up the next book, and hope that all the heavy lifting is done and we can advance to some pretty fierce action.  The exotic setting and the necromancy will interest many of my high school readers, but I question how many of them would stick it out, so I would recommend it to readers who have the patience to let a story build over those who want girls hacking away with swords every second (not knocking that, since usually I’m that reader).  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl From Everywhere

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The Girl From Everywhere

I am generally a sucker for time travel or pirates, so I was pretty sure I had hit the jackpot with this book, which combines both.  But I wasn’t convinced I had a five star read on my hands until the end.  Then my brain exploded. There is a lot of set up to this story that really pays off in the last third of the book. Don’t misunderstand, the first part of the book is still engaging, but it really comes together when all the pieces fall into place in a very satisfying way.

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Goodreads Summary

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

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My Thoughts

Nix is the narrative voice in this story, and it is easy to feel empathy towards her plight.  She is also smart and resourceful, but she still manages to make the mistakes and have feelings that teen readers will find believable.  The cast of secondary characters is diverse and entertaining, and they have back stories that book lovers and history enthusiasts will adore.  While the romantic relationships fell a little flat for me, I think it reflects both Nix’s own inability to make big decisions until her fate is decided, and her formative experiences with Earth-shattering love.  I wasn’t bothered when they didn’t sweep me away, but some readers will be disappointed.  I think it is more important to consider all the messages about love – the kind you feel for your family, your friends, and even places that you hold sacred.  Those are all thoughtfully touched on in this work.  The biggest draw for me, though, is the concept.  It really grabbed my imagination – time traveling pirates (of a sort) on a quest that takes them to places real and imagined with the help of maps and faith-fueled magic.  While some readers might find the rules a little limiting, I thought the idea was sublime. It takes some time to really establish how the idea works, it is so worth the effort.  It is also worth your time to read the author’s notes at the end, especially if some of the literary and historical references elude you (I’m an English teacher, and I still found it enlightening).  Overall, I think this is a book that will appeal to dreamers and readers with the souls of adventurers, and I have plenty of those in my high school classes.  This is definitely going on our classroom library wishlist.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+, but it will hold appeal for adult readers as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Bright Blaze of Magic – Jennifer Estep wraps up her YA Urban Fantasy series

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Bright Blaze of Magic – Jennifer Estep wraps up her YA Urban Fantasy series

Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series almost lost me with the second book, Dark Heart of Magic , which lost a lot of the things I loved about the first book, Cold Burn of Magic.  I’m happy to report that this book, the third (and possibly final) in the series, brought back all the warrior woman, action packed, mafia maneuvering that I could desire.

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Goodreads Summary

“The characters are as fantastic as Estep fans have come to expect.” – RT Book Reviews

Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families–and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I’ve got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…

“An adventurous ride you will never want to get off.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout on Cold Burn of Magic

My Thoughts

Bright Blaze of Magic is exactly what I wanted in the third book of Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series.  The action kicks off quickly and doesn’t let up until the very end.  The fast pace and focused plot make for a quick and engaging read.  I have to admit that the second book, Dark Heart of Magic, was a disappointment for me with its draggy pace and love-sick teen drama, but Estep regained her footing in this story by giving us back the smart and impetuous thief we all adored in Cold Burn of Magic.  That’s right, folks, the real Lila is back, and she isn’t going to let the Draconi’s take away her new family.  Don’t get me wrong, Lila’s character arc is still in motion, and she has given up her loner status, but she seems to have found her place and purpose and that makes all the difference.  I really felt like this book pulled the series all together, and resolved some long-standing conflicts in a satisfying way.  I’m not sure where Lila’s story will go next, but I’m definitely looking forward to finding out.  Word on the street is that this is the last book in the series, but I didn’t feel that finality, so I can dream, right?  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rebel of the Sands is my newest YA obsession

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Rebel of the Sands is my newest YA obsession

I really, really enjoyed this book, and I really didn’t expect that.  Lots of books that try to combine the western and the fantasy genre just don’t work – my standards are high for both, and when you combine the two, I’m downright looking for issues.  However, Rebel of the Sands, with its Wild West meets Arabian Nights feel, is spot on.  If you don’t believe me, just sample it.  I ignored this offering, but I took the publisher up on its sneak peek two days before publication.  Big mistake. I spent two days desperate to get back to this book.  I didn’t even flinch when I preordered it and paid $11.  I needed this book, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Get out there and find it because it really is a five star read.

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Goodreads Summary

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

My Thoughts

Rebel of the Sands is populated by characters I easily embraced.  They aren’t perfect, but they have the potential for greatness hovering in hidden places.  I particularly liked Amani because she is so tough, independent, and single-minded.  Her journey from that girl to the one who will change everything for her kingdom is smart and compelling.  This journey really is the heart of this book because it is essential to themes about independence and friendship, selfishness and selflessness.  I liked this message, and I think there are many readers out there who will as well.

The plot was really better than I could have imagined, and, sure, there are elements of the western and Arabian mythology, but neither of those overwhelmed the story.  Do not skip this book just because your dad had westerns on a loop when you wanted to watch cartoons as a kid.  Do not skip this book because you hate the word Djinn (I know I can’t be the only person who feels aggressive when they see the spelling of that word.  It grates like nails on a chalkboard).  I hate Alladin with all the pent up ugly that is in me, and I still loved this book.  I know it will appeal to a wide audience because it has characters with heart who are fighting for what is right against a government driven by greed – you know you love that stuff – it’s what kept you secretly watching The Hunger Games movies and The Divergent movies even though you know that the last one is going to blow chunks because we all know that book ticked off the entire population of YA girls on Earth (well, that one might have been about that hot guy, but, still).

If you love Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, with the tough-as-nails female protagonist, or if you enjoyed the travels and travails of the characters in books like Stone Rider or Walk on Earth a Stranger, you owe it to yourself to give this book a chance.

I’ve lead you to water, Kiddies.  It’s up to you to drink.

I did receive a sneak peek of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, but I bought myself a copy of the book and I’m buying my beloved students a copy, so this is my real and honest opinion (It always is, anyway).

Gena Showalter’s YA offering, Firstlife, is the pop ballad version of the age old battle between good and evil

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Gena Showalter’s YA offering, Firstlife, is the pop ballad version of the age old battle between good and evil

So, I own a Miley Cyrus song.  An embarrassing one that is probably from a Hannah Montana album.  When my son saw it in my downloads the other day and began laughing his preteen butt off, I was ashamed.  But I rallied.  You see, See You Again makes me remember what it was like to be so young and uncertain in love, and, By Golly, it’s catchy.  It might be a far cry from high brow, but I enjoy it, so that should count for something.  I kind of feel the same way about this book.  It wasn’t a great literary work, and it might even have been a bad literary work in the scale of things, but I was engaged.  I’m a little embarrassed at how much I was entertained by it, but I did while away a few happy hours in this strange work, and that counts for something.  I gave it three stars.

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Goodreads Summary
ONE CHOICE.

TWO REALMS.

NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

My Thoughts

While Firstlife has sweeping themes about the battle between dark and light and the conflict between individual versus society, serious readers will find it difficult to navigate the fluff.  The first twenty percent of the book is full of unnatural conversational patter that relies heavily on references to testicles.  It is fast, and perhaps funny to the right audience, but it makes it hard to take the concept seriously from the start.  Add in the fact that the main character, Ten, seems more torn about her conflicted attraction to a super hot guy than the actual outcome of the battle for her soul, and this book becomes little more than a pop song rendition of one of literature’s most enduring themes.   Now, I’m a bit of a snob, and it hurts me a little to admit that, despite its shortcomings, I thought Firstlife was pretty engaging.  I didn’t understand the concept completely, but there was just enough there to keep me reading for answers.  There was a lot of suspense because, though I had my clear ideas about which side should win this fight, Ten was stubbornly uncertain until the end.  And while I didn’t care for all of the characters, I have to say that many of them were surprisingly dynamic.  I think the real star of the show was Ten’s nemesis turned ally, Sloan.  Overall, this was an entertaining, if not exactly memorable, read.  Language and innuendo make this most appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dark Heart of Magic is the second YA urban fantasy in Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series

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Dark Heart of Magic is the second YA urban fantasy in Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series

Jennifer Estep’s newest books, the Black Blade series, had a pretty great start in Cold Burn of Magic.  I was anxious to see what would happen in the second book.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed because the hardcore warrior girl from CBOM is definitely losing her edge as she becomes attached to people.  It still makes for a decent YA urban fantasy, and this one includes some pretty intense competition, but I think the target audience will enjoy it more than adult readers of YA.

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Amazon Summary

Something Wicked This Way Comes . . .

As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight–or the danger.

Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents,” it looks like someone will do anything to win–no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…

My Thoughts

I enjoyed the second installment in this series, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first.  I think that is in part because this story felt younger in terms of themes and concerns.  A lot of time was spent dealing with the various romances thwarted by family and personal loyalties when I just wanted threat and battle. Lila also seems a lot less independent now that she has been taken in by the Sinclair family, so she feels more like an average teen than the street smart loner we started with.  There are pros and cons to that, and I understand it is part of her character’s growth, but I honestly preferred the tougher, edgier Lila.  Not everyone will feel the same way, though, and plenty of readers will be excited to watch the relationship between Lila and Devon evolve as she becomes less standoffish.  This book does also provide some new revelations about Lila’s mother and her past, and I thought that added a few great complications that kept the story fresh.  Some readers will find the pacing is slower than expected (presumably because it is setting up situations for the next book) and some will be disappointed at the ease with which they spot the bad guy.  Neither of those were barriers to my enjoyment.  I look forward to where this series goes with the next book.  I think this will be more appealing to the target audience than to adult readers of YA simply because the drama and romance will be more engaging to that demographic.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Black Widow: Forever Red – YA introduction to a mysterious Marvel character

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Black Widow: Forever Red – YA introduction to a mysterious Marvel character

I want to warn you that I know very little about the Marvel Universe, so I can’t tell you that this is going to rock your world or ruin your life if you are a superfan.  What I do know is that I had no knowledge of the Black Widow character when I started reading, and I enjoyed the book.  Ignore the fact that it is written by Margaret Stohl (unless you think highly of Beautiful Creatures, which I don’t).  This book was in no way reminiscent of anything else of hers I’ve read.  Ignore the fact that it is YA because adults can enjoy this book, as can readers of both genders.  I gave it four stars.

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Goodreads Summary

Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.
Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

Black Widow:Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

My Thoughts

The plot is action packed and engaging.  Lots of things blew up and lots of weapons were used.  There is some crazy cool science experimentation that will take down the good guys in a pretty stealthy way.  I don’t think the plot will disappoint anyone who likes super heroes.  The pacing is designed to engage readers, and there are some pretty surprising turns in the story.  I particularly liked the style the author used – chapters were separated by classified transcripts of interviews about the incident that the entire book leads up to.  It built suspense because they were part of a Line-of-Duty Death Investigation, so I knew something major was going to happen but each one shifted my guess about who was hurt or what had gone down.  I liked the characters, and I thought the author did a good job of bringing Tony Stark’s personality alive in the book – I did see the first Iron Man, so I could imagine RDJ spouting those lines.  I connected with Natasha probably because I am old and she is the adult in the situation, but most of the target audience will connect with Ava and Alex.  This is actually their adventure/nightmare with Natasha acting as a sort of dual narrator.  Some readers will be disappointed by that, but it thought it was rather smart – considering how much the book made me want to know more about the Marvel world, I figure this is a great way to bring in a new and wider fan base.  I think it was also a smart decision not to go too heavy on the romance because, though there are emotions, they are not enough to keep male readers from enjoying the book.  I think this is going to appeal most to middle school readers because the YA characters felt younger, but I did enjoy it as an adult reader because it did deal with the emotions that experiences like the Red Room can have on a readers life.  This wasn’t a stupid happy story – there was real suffering and reflection in here, and I think that translates very well to my idea of the world of super heroes before Hollywood slicks them up.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 12+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Walk On Earth A Stranger is Rae Carson’s start to a new western series, and it is phenomenal!

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Walk On Earth A Stranger is Rae Carson’s start to a new western series, and it is phenomenal!

I loved this book from the moment I saw the cover – I have bloodhound senses for westerns, and I knew this book was exactly what I needed in my life.  I was so right.  The majority of the book takes place on a wagon train headed to the Calofornia goldfields, and I cannot explain how very happy that made me – thank you, creators of The Oregon Trail computer game – you instilled a lifelong obsession! This book is going to make so many readers so happy that they took a chance on it.  I don’t care if you hate historical fiction or if you dislike westerns or if you didn’t like Rae Carson’s other books – this book is absolutely worth your time. You can sample the first chapter (which includes author annotations and sketches) via this link if you don’t want to take me at my word.

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Goodreads Summary

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

My Thoughts

Action, adventure, romance and lessons about loyalty and family make this both a joy to read and a book to ponder.  The protagonist, Lee is a smart, determined, and tough girl, and she is also one of the most lonely souls in YA fiction right now.  Readers will be drawn to her character, not just because of the empathy her situation evokes, but also for her innate goodness.  She wants so much to embrace the people around her, but her secret forces her to keep a part of herself back, and others sense and respond to that distance.  That is what makes her plight universal – almost everyone has experienced the isolation and sadness that come with having to keep part of yourself concealed.  The cast of secondary characters do initially feel repelled by her standoffish behavior, but as her true nature begins to shine through her disguise, they are drawn to her –  You can change your appearance, but you usually can’t hide who you really are.  I’ll admit this book wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I am not in the least disappointed.  I was expecting more of a quest, and I worried it would be too close to the other western YA that just published, Erin Bowman’s Vengance Road (excellent read as well).  This book is more about Lee’s journey West than a quest for gold or revenge, but it is also her journey towards finding her place in the world.  There is plenty of action and conflict, but it was quite contemplative as well.  It is well paced to develop the plot, the characters, and the relationships.  I didn’t savor it because I devour good stuff, but I know it is a book that I will come back to time and again.  The resolution, while satisfying, does leave room for additional books in the series, and I will certainly be looking forward to reading them. Five star perfection!

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Ward Against Death – A bumbling hero navigates murder, magic, and one undead assassin

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Ward Against Death – A bumbling hero navigates murder, magic, and one undead assassin

Ward Against Death is going to be the perfect read for someone.  Ward is a screw-up who just can’t seem to catch a break, and the brilliantly efficient Celia (a secret assassin) is his perfect foil.  Murder, magic, necromancy and secret societies abound in this fast paced adventure.  Maria V. Snyder (who I adore for her Poison Study books) blurbed it, and Ward is favorably compared to Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files (I kinda see it).  I sort of feel like a punk because I didn’t fall in love with this book, but I was bored and easily distracted all the way through.  Ward, I honestly believe that it’s not you – it’s me.  I’m sure there is a reader out there somewhere just waiting to get their hands on you.

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Goodreads Summary

Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is.

But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her.
However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…

My Thoughts

This book just wasn’t my thing, and that is surprising since the word “necromancer” paired with a female undead assassin should have really been right up my alley.  I think the biggest problem for me is that these characters are running all over the town for answers but those answers never added up to much for me as a reader.  So, I couldn’t put the puzzle together without one of the characters explaining in detail what had just happened.  When the two characters did slow down. They usually split up which didn’t give them much time to really bond as a team.  All the running around also stalled their development as characters – I didn’t feel like they were more than just characters, and that made me apathetic about the outcome of the story.  I also struggled with the many character names and the intricacies of this world – I just couldn’t seem to grasp how the social structure was set up, so I didn’t really understand the advantages of killing people or not killing people or raising people from the dead.  I really had to force myself to read this book after the first few chapters, but the whole time I was reluctantly reading, I was thinking that some readers would really love this story.  I think this book has a lot of things to recommend it to the right reader, but that just wasn’t me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.