Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle and Hope Larson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
We showed you the Dark Thing on Uriel because we thought it would be easier for you to understand if you saw it -- well, someplace else first, not your own earth.
This week I am reading A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle and Hope Larson. This book has been on my TBR pile since 2013. Here is the description from Amazon:
The world already knows Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, Calvin O'Keefe, and the three Mrs--Who, Whatsit, and Which--the memorable and wonderful characters who fight off a dark force and save our universe in the Newbery award-winning classic A Wrinkle in Time. But in 50 years of publication, the book has never been illustrated. Now, Hope Larson takes the classic story to a new level with her vividly imagined interpretations of tessering and favorite characters like the Happy Medium and Aunt Beast. Perfect for old fans and winning over new ones, this graphic novel adaptation is a must-read.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Book Review: The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

The Hypnotists
Author: Gordon Korman
Series: The Hypnotists (Book 1)
Publication: Scholastic Press (July 30, 2013)

Description: An all-new, mesmerizing adventure from the masterful Gordon Korman!

Jackson Opus has always been persuasive, but he doesn't know that he's descended from the two most powerful hypnotist bloodlines on the planet. He's excited to be accepted into a special program at the Sentia Institute -- but when he realizes he's in over his head, Jackson will have to find a way to use his powers to save his friends, his parents, and his government.

My Thoughts: Jax Opus is a pretty ordinary kid except that he has a gift as a hypnotist. He is descended from two families noted for this ability. When it is discovered, he is offered a place at Sentia which is operated by Elias Mako who "has devoted his life to New York City education and is an inspiration to every single one of us." At first, Jax feels that Sentia is a waste of his time since no one will tell them what they are doing. He also has trouble getting to know the other kids there who are all really busy trying to be the best hypnotists.

Jax finally gets to the stage where he is making some progress when he meets a guy from a rival organization called the Sandmen who tells him Mako is not the benefactor to humanity that he says he is. When Mako convinces Jax to make a video to encourage all viewers to vote for Mako's candidate for president, Jax finally realizes that Mako isn't a good guy. But Mako has hypnotized Jax's parents and left a suggestion that they kill themselves which forces Jax to do what Mako wants.

Jax has to call on the Sandmen to help him get the better of Mako in an exciting scene at the presidential candidate's victory rally. I liked Jax and thought that he was a good kid who got into a bad situation. The story was filled with action enough to keep any middle grader turning the pages.

This is the first book of a three book series and will make readers want to get the rest to find out more about Jax and his abilities.

Favorite Quote:
Whatever the purpose of Sentia was, there seemed to be a standing order to keep newbies in the dark about it. Jax tried asking questions and was invariably referred to Ms. Samuels -- if he got any answer at all. Half teh time, the staff members pretended to be extremely busy, rushing off to be groundbreaking and revolutionary in some other part of the building.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Memes: The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
There was something evil about the Third Avenue bus. 
Friday 56:
Learning you had mesmeric powers was one thing. Actually using them turned out to be quite another. 
This week I dug deep into my TBR pile for The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman. I bought this one at a school Book Fair in 2013. Here is the description from Amazon:
An all-new, mesmerizing adventure from the masterful Gordon Korman!

Jackson Opus has always been persuasive, but he doesn't know that he's descended from the two most powerful hypnotist bloodlines on the planet. He's excited to be accepted into a special program at the Sentia Institute -- but when he realizes he's in over his head, Jackson will have to find a way to use his powers to save his friends, his parents, and his government.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

ARC Review: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land
Author: Callie Bates
Publication: Del Rey (June 27, 2017)

Description: In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

My Thoughts: THE WAKING LANDS was a great fantasy novel filled with action and excitement. It begins with a five-year-old girl taken hostage by a king as a guarantee of her parents good behavior. Then fourteen years pass and Elanna has been thoroughly brainwashed into her captor's point of view and even thinks of him as a foster father which incites the jealousy and spitefulness of his daughter Loyce.

When the king is poisoned by a tainted mushroom, Elanna is the first suspect. She needs to flee to save her life but she doesn't know where to go. Some of her father's loyal people are urging her to return home to Caeris but she wants to go anywhere else. She would like to go to Ida and study botany and a representative of the emperor who is something of a double agent is willing to help with her plans.

However, she finds herself going to Caeris and learning more about the magic that she has been denying all her life since use of magic is forbidden by the emperor. Elanna changes greatly in this story as she learns that what she knew about her foster father was mostly lies and what he told her about her home and family was lies too. 

There are battles, betrayals, false friends and real ones. There is an intriguing magic that Elanna must learn to use to save her country. There is a romantic triangle with Elanna torn between the prince she was betrothed to as a child and the sorcerer from the empire that she might or might not be able to trust.

Fans of epic fantasy will enjoy this richly drawn story filled with intriguing characters and great world building.

Favorite Quote:
Finn reins in his horse to stare beneath the overhanging boughs of the firs. I watch him. There is something golden about him -- maybe it's his hair, but maybe it's his hope. I want to shudder away from it and at the same time I can't stop looking. 
I got this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ARC Review: City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino

City of Angels
Author: Kristi Belcamino
Publication: Polis Books (May 18, 2017)

Description: Nikki Black, a self-imposed lone wolf since her mother died, fled suburban Chicago to escape her painful past. But when her so-called boyfriend reveals why he really lured her to Southern California, she ends up on the streets of L.A. with only the clothes on her back and a destitute twelve-year-old named Rain following in her shadows. The girls seek refuge at a residential hotel above a punk rock bar in downtown L.A. a few months before the city erupts into chaos during the 1992 riots. At The American Hotel, Nikki makes friends and, for the first time in years, feels as if she has a real family again. But everything changes when Rain disappears. Everyone believes Rain succumbed to the seductive allure of addiction and life on the streets. Determined to find Rain, Nikki burrows deeper into the underbelly of a city that hides a darkness beneath the glamour. And when she unveils a sinister cover-up by a powerful group that secretly controls the city of angels, she could lose everything, including her life. City of Angels is an edgy, gritty, mature Young Adult mystery about a young woman's struggle to not only belong ― but survive.

My Thoughts: CITY OF ANGELS tells an interesting story about a complex time in American history. Nikki Black has fled to southern California after her mother's death and her father's self-destruction. She finds herself in Los Angeles alone just in time for the LA riots that followed the Rodney King verdict in 1992. The story tells what life is like for a runaway with no friends.

Nikki finds herself staying in the American Hotel with a bunch of other young misfits. Since Nikki fled a creepy boyfriend and a movie producer who makes child porn with twelve-year-old Rain, she has to be careful that they don't find her. Rain is drug-addicted like Nikki's mother was and also being groomed by a child predator. When Rain disappears one night, Nikki is sure that she has been sucked back into the world the two recently escaped.

Nikki begins an investigation fueled by her own guilt at not being able to save Rain or her mother that has her looking at a new creepy church and the world of child porn. She is assisted by the motley crew that has become her family.

The mystery aspect of the story was engaging and well thought out. The problems I had with the story centered on two things. First, most of the characters were stereotypes: the happy-go-lucky gay character who just learns he's HIV positive, the former cover model who lost it all because of drugs and is just getting her life back in order, the multiracial couple, the musician with the string of girls and his own hidden guilt. Second, Nikki herself seemed much older and much more self-aware than any seventeen-year-old.

Fans of the time period and fans of teens forging their own futures will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
Seeing their faces raptly watching me, I felt like I didn't need my leather jacket or my combat boots to be tough. I could reach down deep inside and find the strength I needed already there. And the best part of all was the realization that when I made myself vulnerable and turned to others for help, I was stronger and more powerful than I had ever been on my own.
I received this one for review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
The last time he came to court, though, he seemed more absurd than monstrous. He had an Agran monkey on a jeweled leash.
This week I am reading The Waking Land by Callie Bates. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Review: Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

Battle Magic
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Circle Reforged (Book 3)
Publication: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (September 24, 2013)

Description: On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?

My Thoughts: Rosethorn, Briar, and Briar's student Evvy having visited Gyongxe and gotten to know the young god-king are now traveling to Yanjing as guests of the emperor. While everything looks lovely around the emperor, they quickly come to realize that he is evil and wants to conquer all the lands around him. His next target is Gyongxe. Briar and Evvy free one of the emperor's slaves who happens to be a prince from another country and they try to make their way to Gyongxe with the emperor's minions hunting them.

Rosethorn is given a mission that requires her to take some sacred objects of her religion to a place were they can be kept safe from the emperor. She is required to do this alone despite Briar and Evvy lobbying to go with her.

Meanwhile, Briar and Evvy along with Parahan join with fighters including Parahan's twin sister as they try to get word to the god-king of the emperor's plans.

This story had a lot of battles and required all of our characters to dig deep inside themselves. Evvy is captured by the emperor's forces and tortured to tell what she knows about where Parahan, Rosethorn, and Briar are. The scenes of her torture are harrowing. Her torture does lead to her being rescued by the heart of the mountain who provides healing and a place of refuge. Meanwhile, Rosethorn and Briar are feeling guilt at leaving Evvy in what should have been a safe place and both are mourning her death.

I thought the world building in this story was excellent. I enjoyed watching our heroes show that their gifts could make them formidable opponents for a greedy emperor. All of the characters were well-developed and engaging.

This is an excellent fantasy series.

Favorite Quote:
Rosethorn held her hands palm up and looked at the sky. Gracious Mila, help me explain how close they came to the most horrible kind of death, she begged her goddess. Give them knowledge of the world before the world kills them. Give me patience, before I buy two barrels and ship them home that way. I beg you, my goddess, guide me before I do something dreadful and box their ears. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.