Skyhunter

Skyhunter by Marie Lu is the first book in, what I believe to be a new young adult duology.

The Karensa Federation has conquered almost all of their continent, leaving Mara as the only free nation left. But how much longer can Mara remain free when mutant beasts, known as Ghosts, rove and ravage at will.

Mara’s elite fighting force, the Strikers, are tasked with killing these monsters and pushing back the Federation for as long as possible. But defeat still seems inevitable.

Still, one Striker, a refugee from another war torn country, an outcast, refuses to give up. Talin Kanami knows just how brutal the Federation will be when they finally arrive and she is determined to save the city she now calls home. When a mysterious prisoner is sentenced to death, Talin’s instincts tell her to save him. Will her actions doom them all or will hope prevail?

It took me a few chapters to get into this book but after that, I flew through it. I really loved how the author makes Talin mute and even she isn’t sure if she’s just stopped talking or if her vocal cords were damaged when she fled her home as a child. I also think Lu handled, how to portray her communication, well. The fact that the Strikers all know how to sign and take an oath of silence on the field, worked perfectly in this book.

Lu also does something great with the relationships in this book. The Striker and his/her Shield have such a fascinating relationship, forged of stronger stuff than just friendship and loyalty. And I am glad that Red and Talin work toward that relationship first, rather than any lovey dovey infatuation. If we are heading that way in book two, well it is slooooow and just the way I want it.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong book with some memorable characters and a neat post-apocalyptic setting/conflict. This one gets a solid 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

American Dirt

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings is an adult fiction novel about a Mexican mother and son forced to flee to American.

Lydia Pérez lives a quiet life in the Mexican city of Acapulco with her husband and eight-year-old son Luca. And while the cartels are always a problem, Lydia and her family have never felt outright threatened.

When Lydia forges a friendship with the overdressed and suave Javier, she had no idea she was talking poetry with the head of Acapulco’s newest cartel. What’s worse, her journalist husband is publishing a “tell-all” profile about the man and the repercussions will change Lydia and Luca’s lives forever.

Transformed into migrants overnight, will Lydia and Luca make it to America with their souls intact?

My book club picked this one as our next read. It is not one I would normally pick up on my own, so for that I am grateful to read outside the box. But, and I may be the majority here, I did not overly enjoy the book. I felt like the author walked the middle of the road instead of pushing the boundaries one way or the other. Either go too cautious or too graphic; for a title like this, about this topic, trying to play both sides, just doesn’t work.

But the real thing that bugged me about this book, was that the final confrontation between Lydia and Javier was both unbelievable and lacking. The entire book was about Lydia’s relationship with Javier and escaping his wraith. The reader waits the whole book for a final confrontation and what we get… well it didn’t do anything for me.

I also needed a more satisfying ending. Again, it felt lukewarm–probably due to the missing confrontation I just mentioned. But seriously, they are on this whole journey and it just never felt like it ended. The ending didn’t feel like an ending but more of a place to stop.

This wasn’t a bad book and it was neat to read a book I’ve seen getting tossed back and forth in the news, but it was only OK in my opinion.

This one gets 2.5-3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix is a standalone adult fiction book.

Patricia Campbell gave up being a nurse to become a homemaker and mother in a respectable community–white picket fences and all. She cooks, cleans and looks after the children. The only thing she really has to look forward to is her monthly book club, a group of southern mothers like herself, who share a mutual interest in true-crime and mystery novels.

When a single bachelor, with some strange habits, moves into the neighborhood, Patricia ropes her book club into a different sort of mystery. And when children in the poorer neighborhoods begin to go missing, Patricia begins her own investigation. But what she uncovers is even more horrible than she could ever have imagined. Will Patricia and the girls be able to fight this monster and still get dinner on the table by five?

Sorry, I had to add that last line. God this was weird. I went through several different emotions while reading this one. First, I was stoked because I didn’t actually read the blurb about the book and was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was actually going to be a vampire that the girls had to fight. Then, I got a little bored. Finally, things got waaaay too graphic and I was pretty much grossed out and happy to get it all over with.

There’s some real twisted moments in this book and the way they are described is just… icky. I normally don’t have a problem with dark books, even those that deal with some pretty horrendous stuff. But I sort of felt like I was being fooled a little bit here. The author goes to so much trouble to make the reader feel like the book is going to be a peachy, easy going book with a vampire or two thrown in. And then BAM out of know where, it gets dark, gritty and graphic.

Some people are going to love this book but it was not for me. I’m not even sure why I am giving it three stars, I disliked it so much, but I am.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Poisoned

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly is a fairy-tale re-imagining of Snow White for a Young Adult audience.

To rule, once must be strong and powerful; there is no place for kindness and the gentle hearted. Or at least, this is what Sophie has been told her entire life. According to her step mother, Queen Regent, and the rest of the court, weak, foolish, silly Sophie doesn’t have what it takes to be the ruler her country needs. So when the huntsman pulls out his knife and plunges it into her heart, Sophie shouldn’t have been surprised.

And even though Sophie believed everything they said about her, it was still a surprise. But, what was more surprising, was waking up.

Given a second chance at life, will Sophie muster the bravery to fight for her kingdom and the will to rule it as she seems fit?

I really enjoyed Donnelly’s Stepsister, so I was excited to pick this one up. And, although it was an entertaining read, I wasn’t wowed by it. I enjoyed it but I could have used a little bit more toward the end. Like Stepsister, the villains, weren’t ordinary villains–they were abstract entities personified. <<And that’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away. And this was interesting, a little preachy at times but it’s meant to be written as a “lesson.”

Now that I think about it, what I liked best about the book, were the side characters. I just loved the hound master’s son, the dwarfs, Will and Arlo, even our villains. But Sophie, fell a little flat for me. We see her journey throughout, both physical and emotional, but she still felt a little two dimensional to me.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me. I’ll be interested to see which fairy-tale Donnelly picks up next.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Shadow Cipher

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby is the first book in the York series, a juvenile fiction, historical re-imagining, series for 4-7 graders.

In 1855, the Morningstarr Twins, the greatest and most mysterious architects New York City has ever seen, go missing and in their place, a cryptic puzzle promising to lead to a treasure greater than can be imagined. But decades later the puzzle still hasn’t been solved.

In the present day, twins Theo and Tess, along with their friend Jamie are determined to solve the puzzle and save their home, one of the original Morningstarr buildings, from being torn down by rich developers.

Most people have given up on the puzzle and don’t even think it ever ends but Tess, Theo and Jamie believe that the puzzle is just waiting for the “right” people and time to be solved.

Will they solve the cipher before it is too late?

This was a fun, action packed book that actually got a little dark toward the end. Going into the first hundred or so pages, I really just thought it was going to be a happy go lucky book, where the kids solve the puzzle and save their home… Willy Wonka-esq. But by the end, you find out that there is so, so much more going on and that is why this is a series.

That being said, I enjoyed the eccentricities of the children and the friendship they are forging. But I think the best part of this book is the re-imagining of certain historical facts, an alternate history, that bring a really great dynamic to the story. Little things like the Statue of Liberty being copper colored still because they used a chemical to keep it from oxidizing. To bigger tweaks like the Colonies not pushing the Indians off their land.

You also see a lot of “hints” in this book that, may not make sense or seem important at the time, but will definitely show up later in the series. Theo’s “dreams” for one, I predict that these will be more than just dreams.

Overall, this was an interesting read and is going to make a good book club discussion. I am going to give it a low 4 stars for now.

That’s all for now!

-M-