Friday, August 30, 2013

Decatur Book Festival 2013

Labor Day Weekend is coming right up, and as always I'm torn between two great events: The Decatur Book Festival's  amazing line-up of authors and activities, and DragonCon's terrific line-up of sci-fi and fantasy stars and great costumes, of course. I probably will only get snippets of both events - as it turns out it is my weekend to work at the library!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Season of the Witch review

Season of the Witch
by Mariah Fredericks
Schwartz & Wade
October 2013

First line: "You know how it is with little girls."

High school junior Toni is completely ready to forget her ill-fated summer fling with Oliver, but unfortunately, Oliver’s girlfriend Chloe has other plans, marshalling her minions to make Toni’s life miserable. Like Laura with her glass menagerie, self-conscious Toni indulges in a bit of magical thinking, arranging and rearranging her glass figurines at home for the luckiest configuration to help her get through the school day.

Toni’s overweight best friend Ella returns from her summer at “fat camp” with shocking news - her cousin Cassandra is transferring to their school after the death of her younger autistic brother. Cassandra soon befriends Toni with the promise of exacting revenge on Chloe using witchcraft. 

Interestingly, the possibility of witchcraft or psychic ability is left open - while in all probability the girls simply imagine themselves to have special abilities, the reader never really knows for sure. This darkly honest look at bullying, high school cliques and teen drama amidst family tragedy will have readers glued to the page for every last unexpected plot twist and turn.

Compare to:

The List - Siobhan Vivian
Shattered Dreams - Ellie James
Evermore - Alyson Noel

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

This review originally appeared in School Library Journal.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blood Promise review

Blood Promise
by Richelle Mead
August 2009

"I was being followed."

We're finally at a point in this series where the author doesn't feel the need to fill us in on everything that has happened before. All of the exposition is taken care of in a neat, quick prologue. If you haven't read Vampire Academy, Frostbite and Shadow Kiss, go back and take a look at those first.

The action in this book moves away from the school setting, when Rose abandons her best friend Lissa in order to track down her former lover Dimitri, who has been turned into a Strigoi. Rose and Dimitri promised each other that if they ever were to fall in battle, and turned into evil Strigoi, that they wouldn't stop until they'd put the other to rest, and Rose intends to make good on her promise. Having no idea where to begin her search, she decides to track down his family in Russia, hoping that maybe he would have returned there. Sure enough, she does find them, a strong family of women who eagerly accept her into their ranks. Spending time with Dimitri's sisters forces her to re-evaluate her harsh opinion of life outside of her professional duties. In them, she is able to witness warm family relationships for the first time. She also finds that Lissa's spirit ability isn't as rare as she thought, and meets a few more spirit users, including another bonded pair, who have discovered a completely different range of abilities.

Rose also runs into Sydney, a human "Alchemist" part of a secret order who helps hide vampires from the rest of human society by destroying Strigoi bodies. The sudden inclusion of a whole new class of slayers stretched my suspension of disbelief. Rose is told that Alchemists are something that all dhampirs are told about once they graduate school and since she's a drop-out, that's why she hadn't heard of them. I thought it would have been a lot more believable if Alchemists were incredibly rare, or perhaps limited only to certain parts of Russia.

After Rose joins forces with a group of dhampir vigilantes, she finally does track down Dimitri and is disturbed by how much like his old self he still seems. She hesitates a fraction too long, and ends up susceptible to his bite which leaves her completely addled. She then spends several weeks as his prisoner, as he tries to convince her to join by his side as a fully "awakened" Strigoi. For Rose, this is a real look at what life as a blood whore might look like. Seductive, enjoyable... but ultimately, quite empty. Luckily, she is able to come to her senses in time, and aided by some of the ghosts that she is occasionally able to call upon she finds the strength to try and stake Dimitri. Shortly after, she discovers that there may be a way to use Lissa's spirit ability to reverse the change to Strigoi, but unfortunately it will be too late for Dimitri... or is it?

I will be interested to see how Rose will use her new hard-won knowledge of Strigoi physiology in the upcoming books of the series. I'm also hopeful (though, I wouldn't hold my breath) that Lissa will finally start to show some battle prowess herself, wielding magic to destroy her enemies in future installments of this series.

Compare to:

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Summer reading madness has drawn to a close and now I'm going traveling... hence the reduced posting schedule this month. Going to Maine, Chicago, Korea, Cambodia and Vietnam. I'm sure I'll have plenty of interesting stories to share when I get back.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Read in July 2013

This month I read the following the books:

1. Companions of the Night - Vivian Van Velde
2. Dark Mirror - Mary Jo Putney
3. God's Debris - Scott Adams

Picture credit: A Word to the Wise by Charles Dana Gibson


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