Posted in Loved It, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Wayfarer

9781484715765_p0_v3_s192x300 Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre:   Science Fiction

Rating: L

Synopsis:

Etta Spencer didn’t know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas-the eighteenth century privateer she loves-and her natural time.

When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she’s blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she’s been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.

Still devastated by Etta’s disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether.

From colonial Nassau to New York City, San Francisco to Roman Carthage, imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, New York Times #1 best-selling author Alexandra Bracken charts a gorgeously detailed, thrilling course through time in this stunning conclusion to the Passenger series.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: I didn’t realize that this was the conclusion to Passenger.  I assumed that this was the middle book in a trilogy. I guess I should have read the synopsis on the back of the book.  So what did I think?  I loved it.  A lot of ground was covered in this book, but it didn’t feel rushed.  It was very interesting to learn that the ability to time travel was a direct result of alchemy.  Usually you read about alchemy changing things into gold or giving eternal life; although there was some eternal life after a fashion in this book.  I’m a little bit sad that this series is over; however the ending does leave it open for the author to be able to return to this world at some point.

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Posted in Fantasy, Loved It, Young Adult

Three Dark Crowns

Author:   Kendare Blake 

Genre:     Fantasy 

Rating:    L

Synopsis:

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown. 

Opinion 

It’s been a while since I found a series that I really enjoyed. This series will take sisterly rivalry to the next level.  The story centers on a set of Queen triplets- Arisnoe, Mirabella, and Katherine. Each of them is born with a gift.  Their queen mother knows what their gifts are from birth. Mirabella is an elemental. Katherine is a poisoner, and Arisnoe is a naturalist. The only problem is that of the three, Mirabella is the strongest with her gift.  Arisnoe and Katherine are so weak they are almost giftless. Each Queen is raised with people who can train them in their gift.

The story details life for each of the queens leading up to their sixteenth birthday.  Each of the families raising the queens have grown to love them and are desperate for each to survive and become Queen. Two of the sisters seem to accept their fate.  However, Mirabella doesn’t want to kill either of her sisters.

A plan is devised to give Mirabella a bloodless victory, but it backfires. Then the year starts, and all three queens want vengeance. 

But there is one tiny problem. Arisnoe discovers after an attempt by Katherine to poison her that she isn’t a naturalist. She’s a poisoner. 

So that begs the question, if the Queen knows the gifts of the triplets upon birth, how On earth did she get the triplets gifts mixed up?  Was this the design of the Queen?  Did someone switch two of the triplets on purpose?  However this happened, this is shaping up to be a fight like none other.  I think all of the queens might be the most powerful of their true gifts, and they will be more than evenly matched. 

Posted in Loved It, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult

Passenger

Author:  Alexandra Bracken

Genre:   Science Fiction

Rating:  L

Synopsis:

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.

Opinion:

So I saw this book in the Young Adult section in Barnes and Nobles.  The description was very interesting.  You know how much I enjoy time travel novels.

This series is about people who are born with the ability to travel through time. It is not clear who the progenitor giving them this ability is, but this gift runs through families.  Etta has been kept from this life by her mother for a reason, but is thrust into the center stage without explanation or training.  It seems that each of these families has a “heirloom” for better word, and one man wants it in order to save a lost love.  See these passages through time only go to certain  years and there are many rules about where/when travelers can go.  This man, the head of the Ironwood clan, hid his first wife in a time where no passages connected in order to protect her as the traveler families constantly war with one another.  Well someone planned well and was able to kill the woman and there was nothing that Ironwood could do to rescue his wife.  However, the heirloom of Etta’s family can change that.

This is a grand adventure novel, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the novel.  Things ended at a really shocking point.  I do like the fact that one of the main characters is a young man of color.  Right now, it is shaping up that he’s going going to be the lead character in at least the next book.

Posted in Fantasy, Loved It, Young Adult

An Ember in the Ashes

Author:     Sabaa Tahir

Genre:       Fantasy

Rating:      L

Synopsis: 

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: Wow!!!  I saw this book in Barnes & Noble, and I was very intrigued by the cover.  I got distracted by a couple of other books that came out, but I did eventually come back to read this one.  

This one had a bit of a slow start.  Don’t get me wrong, it started with a skirmish, I meant in terms of getting to the real conflict of the series.  For a long time, I kept wondering why this book was a fantasy, but eventually the author got into some of the mythical creatures.  By the end of the book, I was definitely hooked.  I can’t wait to see how this series is going to turn out.  I’m hoping that the fantasy elements will play a much bigger role in the next book; they should, particularly as this entire world’s history has been shaped by mythical creatures (though most don’t recognize this).  I have a sad feeling that the Martial Empire is going to learn far too late the consequences of taking knowledge/technology from creatures whom they have no hope of truly comprehending.  

I like the character’s Laia and Elias.  Obviously, they are going to end up together (this is a YA novel after all).  I found Elias to be a lot more interesting of the pair.  I think it is because he has had such a strange life- being abandoned by his mother and then subsequently being adopted byhis grandfather.  I’m really curious as to who his father is.  His mother mentions that Elias’ father failed to kill her.  This would suggest that he isn’t a pleasant man, but Elias’ mother is rather twisted so it is hard to know how credible she really is.  Elias’ mother is also rather interesting.  She exhibits such hatred for her own father, yet she appears to be having the family motto tattoed on her body. There’s a lot going on here.  

Anyway, my prediction for the series is that Laia and Elias will help the Scholar and Martials put aside their difference and work together to defeat their common enemy.  But we shall see.  

This is a great series to start this summer.  

Posted in Loved It, paranormal, Young Adult

Something Strange and Deadly

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Teaser:

“Like Jie, I didn’t—couldn’t—avoid stepping on the corpses. My ankles and heels rolled and sank as we progressed forward.”

Author: Susan Dennard

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

Rating: L

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. And when she discovers that the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and wreaking havoc throughout the city, she knows that her brother is involved.

So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. But as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters, and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life may hang in the balance.

For some odd reason, I had the hardest time grasping the concept that this book took place in the US. I don’t know why! Maybe I was subconsciously thinking about, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This is definitely a zombie story. It is different from other zombie stories in that the thing causing the zombie-ism is necromancy rather than some disease.

I liked the author’s concept of magic. There are different forms of magic for example necromancy versus voodoo. People seem to be born with innate ability for different branches. Like many fantasy books though, necromancy is always very bad!

This book, in addition to being paranormal, is also part mystery. From the beginning of the book it becomes clear that the dead rising have to do some thing with Eleanor’s missing brother, but it is not clear what. It’s also unknown why the necromancer is awakening the dead. The author had a few red herrings thrown in there. There were a couple of characters that I suspected. I think I figured out who the necromancer was 3/4 of the way through the book.

I did like Eleanor’s character. She had a lot to deal with like poverty and disgrace of her sather’s past actions. Surprisingly, she was kind hearted and gracious despite all of it. The mother I could not like! As far as I am concerned she was trying to pimp her daughter out in a societally acceptable manner. I think I kept thinking this was set in England because of the whole impoverished lady having tho marry the wealthy gentleman.

Oh there was this one funny reference in the book to the Grecian bend. In case you were wondering, back in the 1820’s this stance became popular in the US. It was considered fashionable. A woman was supposed to have her butt poked out and her chest out and tilted downward. It was supposed to be enticing to men. As you can imagine, this stance worked well with the bustle, Well I tried the pose based solely on the description; I didn’t cheat and google a picture. Let me tell you what! My dog was watching me, and even she was giving me funny looks! It was so ridiculous! Not to mention provocative! I can’t believe people back in the day encouraged women,unmarried, to present themselves that way!

There is a second book called A Darkness Strange and Lovely. That review will be up next!

Posted in Liked It, Young Adult

Circle of Friends I: Lori

Most of you will remember this book because I used it as a teaser a few weeks ago. Remember the girl that delivered the kidney punch?

Lori Anders is an Olympic hopeful in swimming. She’s been training for it since she was three. So the story starts with a bang! Lori stands up to two boys who wanted to bother her friend and ends up being their target a couple of hours later on in the day. Who should rescue her but the attractive quarterback named Jason Phillips. The two begin dating, become inseparable, and fall madly in love. This book chronicles primarily Lori’s life through the rest of high school and college and her shot at the Olympic dream. I know that’s not telling you a lot about the book. As you recall, I don’t spoil books that have not been published.

If you hated Twilight then you will like this book. I personally think this book was much better than Twilight for several reasons. First, Lori wasn’t nearly as annoying as Bella. Second, Lori had aspirations beyond staring at an attractive guy’s face. Third, Lori is not emotionally promiscuous. Fourth L. Diane Wolfe is a decent writer. See my review of Breaking Dawn for further elucidation.

Lori has many admirable qualities. She was focused, very disciplined, and mature for her age. She was also quite caring and seemed to bring out the best in everyone. She did have some vulnerabilities though. Her parents were always away. So she spent a lot of time by herself. I think this made her a little too dependent on Jason- well too dependent for my taste anyway. I really liked the fact that she had goals for herself and worked hard to obtain them. This of course is a complete contrast to Bella who had no goals whatsoever and had luxury handed to her on a platter.

I know that my next few sentences are going to cause some teenaged girl somewhere to take a hit out on me, but I don’t think I really liked Jason. I can see how he would work for a girl like Lori, but good heavens, I think I would feel stifled. But different strokes for different folks, right? This was a recurrent them throughout the book. I think I would have liked to see more conflict for Lori and Jason. Both did spend a great deal of time away from each other, I think I would have liked to see them struggle a little bit more with being true to one another. Also, I would have liked to see them have been poor. One of the things I have observed with couples who got married this young was that they gained strength of character from having to work hard to make ends meet. I think I would have also liked to see the characters change more. College changes a lot about a person. I don’t know of any person who left college the same person they were when they entered.

I would recommend this as a good series for teens to read- especially as an alternative to Twilight. I think most parents will appreciate the fact the way sex is dealt with in this book. The main characters don’t engage in premarital sex. There is plenty of angst, but it is rationally tempered. Lori and Jason are honorable children. They don’t lie and sneak around behind their parents back the way Bella did.

This book is the first in a five book series. The other books will deal with characters introduced in this book.

Book 2 is about Lori’s friend Sarah
Book 3 is about James Sheppard
Book 4 is about Jason’s friend Mike Taylor.
Book 5 is about Lori and James’ mutual friend Heather.

Circle of Friends Book I: Lori will be available for purchase on March 31, 2009. You may purchase this book from The Bluestocking Guide via the Amazon link to the right.

Since you are here, I’ll like to remind you that the Blog Party starts on The Bluestocking Guide on March 20,2009 at midnight sharp. The party lasts a week. I’ve having 13 authors visit that week, and I believe there will be 8 book raffles, plus I will have a contest or two. Don’t forget!!!

Posted in Loved It, paranormal, Speculative, Young Adult

Twilight

Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her dad after her mother remarries and relocates. She has to settle into a new school and a new way of life. And Forks- well, it’s the kind of town where everyone knows everyone’s grandparents and the like.
The school thing isn’t too bad though. Although she didn’t have to many friends in Phoenix where she had lived, she attracts a great deal of attention at her new school. What is even more difficult for her to comprehend is that there are a number of guys that are vying for her attention. Then she seems them in the cafeteria. They are the Cullens family, and they were the most beautiful people she had ever seen. The five Cullen children were adopted by Dr. Carlisle and Esme Cullen, who were also beautiful.
Bella has the fortune of sitting next to Edward in her biology class. But he, uh, reacts with a surprising amount of distaste. Throughout the class, he leans away from like he is offended by her odor; and later he goes as far as to try to re-arrange his schedule so he doesn’t have classes with her. Next Bella knows, Edward is missing from class for the rest of the week. But when he comes back, he is quite polite and gentlemanly towards her. Thus the cat and mouse game begins. Edward is quite fascinated by Bella because he finds her difficult to read. She on the other hand can hardly keep her wits about her whenever she looks at his glorious face! Then Edward saves her from what would have been a horrible car accident (one of the boys in her class lost control of the car on ice and nearly plowed into her). Then she realizes that Edward is not all that he seems. He’s incredibly fast. To top it all it seems that there is an Edward sized dent in the boy’s car. Her own personal superman? Or something else? One thing is for sure, Edward’s family seems a wee bit annoyed about his heroics. Further still Edward is rather ambivalent about answering Bella’s questions as to how he saved her.
Spoiler Alert
Bella figures out the answer to her question from a “campfire” story told by Jacob Black. The fact that Edward is a vampire doesn’t freak Bella out. She is more than tolerant; she’s downright accepting. Edward takes her to meet his “family.” He and Carlisle (his surrogate father) tell her the history of how the Cullen family came to not hunt humans…

Carlisle was born shortly before the time of Oliver Cromwell. His father was a minister who hunted “demons.” It seems as though Carlisle’s father saw demons everywhere much like those in the Crucible. Carlisle carried on after his father, but was a lot more reasonable. But he did find some real vampires. On the night he and his followers attacked, an elderly vampire attacked him. Carlisle hid, but turned into a vampire soon after. Appalled by what he had become, he tried various ways to kill himself. After not eating for a long period of time, he attacked a herd of deer and discovered a way to satisfy his need to feed without becoming a monster. The Cullen clan is the largest vampire clan outside the Volturi (an Italian clan).
Some vampires have gifts. Edward can read minds (well of everyone except Bella). His “sister” Alice is able to see the future. Jasper can influence the emotions of those around him.

Anyway, as part of her day with the Cullen family. She watches them play baseball. In the midst of the game, another group of vampires show up- James, Victoria, and Laurent. These hunt humans. When the get a whiff of Bella’s scent, the hunt is on as far as James is concerned. A dangerous cat and mouse game ensues with the whole Cullen clan acting to protect Bella and her parents. They get James in the end, but Bella nearly dies.

I was reluctant to read this series. I heard many people going on about it. But, I’m not into pop literature so I resisted. What changed my mind? Well I listened to this podcast called Fire and Ice. I was looking for book review podcasts. Anyway, the four teenage girls were drooling over Edward. Ok! Drooling doesn’t begin to cover it. So I purchased the first one. The rest is history…

Bella- I was annoyed with this girl. That’s not bad. I think a good book is one where you can become irritated with the characters. She was just so irritatingly not observant. I figured out pretty quickly that Edward was a vampire. I mean Meyer does follow Bram Stoker in that vampires are these irresistibly beautiful people. And ok, I get that he’s drop dead gorgeous. But come on, you can’t control yourself better than that? And for crying out loud, love is fine but why would you throw you’re life away to be “undead” for all eternity. Edward, although lovely, is the first man sees ever fancy herself in love with. What’s the rush? Take some time to figure out who you are first?
Edward, is quite the cultured gentleman. As SIP noted, there was the Jane Austen reference to Edward Ferrars and Edmund Bertram. Actually he reminded me of the character Lucian in Underworld. I can sort of see why the girls were swooning over him. Anyway, he is a lot more rational about Bella’s humanity. It’s good someone has their wits about them.

There was one tiny thing I didn’t like. WHAT WAS UP WITH THE LACK OF NECK BITING IN THIS BOOK??? I mean no one died. I was hoping that with the introduction of James, Victoria, and Laurent someone would get it. But nope, no one died. To me that is the hallmark of a vampire novel-that someone dies. I was hoping for some chills.

The book was extraordinarily well written. It was told from Bella’s point of view. My understanding is that Ms. Meyer is going to write this novel from Edward’s perspective. That may be quite interesting, especially the hunting scenes. Stay tuned for New Moon which is the next book in the series.

Word on commenting: Apple is in the process of transferring everything to a new domain web.me.com There is just one problem, if you’ve accessed my site through web.me.com/bluestocking_bb you will not be able to leave a comment. So kindly change the address to web.mac.com/bluestocking_bb…(rest of the permalink address) Basically swap the me for mac. When the domain change is complete, I’ll inform you. Thanks.

Posted in Fantasy, Rated S, Young Adult

Here, There Be Dragons

Three Oxford men receive letters to meet one Professor Siguersson- Johm, Jack, and Charles. Oh, they all have different reasons for being at the house. It is however, a great pity the Professor is already dead by the time they arrive. Jack was asked to deliver papers from the solicitor; Charles needed the Professors annotations for an article. John was the Protege, who hadn’t been studying much as he was on leave from WWII.

The three men go to a social club at 221B Baker Street (That’s right, Sherlock’s address). There they are met by a mysterious man named Bert. It seems that the three men were chose to be the new Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica, which is an atlas with the maps of all imaginary and mythological places, also known as the Archipelago of Dreams. The three were chosen for their imagination in addition to the fact that they were Oxford scholars. The Professor was murdered because the evil Winter King wants the Geographica for himself. Thus begins the greatest adventure any of the men had ever taken beginning with take the Indigo Dragon (a dragonship) across the divide between our world and the imaginary one.

The Archipelago of Dreams had been ruled by King Arthur. The Silver throne was passed to his heirs. All the races- Centaurs, Troll, Dwarves, Elves, and Mythical beasts swore allegiance to him. All these years the other races had been content to allow a human king because the dragons in the land answered to the High King. However things began to change in the world as things began to change in our world. There is a spill over effect. The problems in the Archipelago culminated in the death of Arthur’s entire line. The killer was none other than the High King of that time Archibald. As a result, a Parliment was created in order to rule, till they could decide how to replace the king.

In this chaos, the Winter King decides now is an opportune moment to seize control of the Archipelago. First he unleashes the Shadow Born, who are creatures whose Shadow/Sould has been removed. They are immortal and grow stronger the longer they exist. Next he creates Shadowlands by essentially removing the soul from the earth itself. The only thing that keeps him from ultimate power is that he lacks the Geographica.

Although the trio receive help from Bert, his daughter Aven, Capt. Nemo, and the Morgaine, they barely manage to stay one step in front of the Winter King. Things are complicated due to the fact that John was never told for what job he was being prepared. As a result, he cannot always ready everything on the map as it is in many different ancient language because he neglected his studies due to being drafted in the war. It is a particular problem as John is the Caretaker Principia. As the story progresses, Jack and John both have to overcome personal hindrance. They both succeed, but someone must pay a heavy price. In the end the three succeed in saving the Archipelage. When they return to England, Bert reveals to them that all of the past Caretakers had been writers-famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even Sir James Barrie. As the new Caretakers the three men sign the book, and the reader finally understands the destinies these three men are to fulfill. Ok I’m going to pu up a spoiler box. I’d like to do some character analysis but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read the book.

My non-spoiler opinion was that the book was masterfully written. Owens mixed fact and fiction in a seamless way. The Archipelago is both in and not in our world. If you liked the mythology references in Harry Potter, then you will love the book even more. There are mystery elements of this story, and figuring them out prior to having the answer revealed depends entirely on how well read you are. It’s a fun read. It was my train read this week. I couldn’t wait to get on the train. Oh, I’m still trying to figure out who the Cartographer is. If you have any ideas, please share them with me. The second book in this series is called The Search for the Red Dragon and is on the bookshelves now. The third book called The Indigo King comes out October 21, 2008. The author says that this book is being made into a movie by WB.

Spoiler. Go no further on Pain of Death. You have been warned

Bert is revealed to be none other than Hubert G. Wells known as H.G. Wells.

John is J.R.R. Tolkien. This should have been more than abundantly clear with the whole language thing. I mean, Tolkien created several languages and wrote the Lord of the Rings to showcase his talent.

Charles is Charles Williams. I have never read his work nor ever heard of him. I intend to rectify that. Be that as it may, Charles Williams was part of the literary brat pack known as Inklings along with John and Jack.

Jack is C.S. Lewis. I knew lewis went by Jack. It all made sense with he whole shadows and him being able to restore the people and the land. If you didn’t know, Lewis wrote a book called Shadowland. It was about the death of his wife Joyce.

In this book, Owens, provides explanations for where these men got the inspiration for their book. I’ve already bought the second book. I’ll let you know how that one is.