Stitching Snow – R. C. Lewis

stitching snowTough and gritty Essie has carved out a life on the desolate and frozen mining planet of Thanda.  She is a cage fighter who is also handy with programming and engineering.  She has created drones to help with the mining, seven drones to be exact.  The aptly named drone, Dimwit, seems to stay the closest to her.  Her life changes when the dashing Dane crash lands on her planet.  He is seeking a treasure of sorts.  He’s looking for the lost daughter of cruel King Matthias.  There are reasons Essie has tried for so many years to stay hidden but with Dane’s arrival she is pulled into a war with many factions.   Essie is taken off planet against her will and that is when her troubles compound.

Stitching Snow is a sci-fi Snow White action-thriller complete with an evil stepmother.   I wish there was a bit more with the drones, perhaps in the next installment.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review       Publication date 10.14.14

Posted in adventure, folklore, science fiction | Tagged

Pathfinder: TodHunter Moon – Angie Sage

Pathfinder Tod Hunter MoonPathfinder takes place several years after the finale to the Septimus Heap series.  Sep is now the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, relieving the burden from Marcia who seems to relish her freedom and experiments with Magykal passages.  Pathfinder passes the story torch from Septimus Heap to Alice TodHunter Moon.  Tod (she prefers that to Alice) comes from an isolated fishing village where the members share an interesting heritage as Pathfinders.  Darke is once again rearing its ugly head when evil Garmin invade the village capturing the Pathfinders.  Newly orphaned Tod heroically rescues a friend then fulfills her mother’s wish to journey to the Wizard Tower.  This is where she meets crew: Septimus, Jenna, Marcia, Beetle – well she meets everyone – and of course her own strong Magyk is discovered.  What’s not to like in Tod?  She’s brave, clever, humble, loyal and has two great friends in Oscar and Fergie.  So very good to be back with old friends!  Highly recommend.

eGalley review       Publication date 10.14.14

Posted in fantasy, highly recommend

Clariel – Garth Nix

ClarielThe much anticipated Old Kingdom novel is finally here.  Clariel has a double whamming in lineage as granddaughter of the King and granddaughter of the Abhorsen yet has never met either man.  She has inherited the berserk gene that enables her to control Free Magic creatures.  Clariel is upset when her parents decide to leave their small town close to the peaceful forests that Clariel needs in order to secure their future in the political upheaval of the capital.  Much to Clariel’s dismay, it seems a political marriage is in her future so that she will never be able to return to her beloved forest.  Everyone’s plans go awry and Clairel must come to terms with her lineage.

I eagerly, impatiently waited for the next in the Old Kingdom series that began when Sabriel was published in 1995.  Now that it is here, well, it is not as dynamic as Sabriel, Lireal, and The Abhorsen.  Half the book focused on Clariel moaning about missing the forest and yearning for the forest and ignoring her Charter Magic.  It wasn’t until the dinner scene with Governor Kilp that things FINALLY picked up.  The Abhorsen’s house, Mott, and Free Magic creatures join the story.  But for such a very brief time.  Clariel isn’t the typical heroic Old Kingdom character – she makes a plethora of mistakes and is quick to action without thinking things through.  That’s okay – it makes her real.  My favorite character introduced is Bel.  I wonder what adventures he has coming.  This book can be read as a stand-alone, but the story flows much better if the other books are read first, in publishing order.

eGalley review      Publication date 10.14.14

Posted in fantasy | Tagged

A Cool and Lonely Courage: The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France – Susan Ottaway

Cool and Lonely CourageJacqueline was six years older than Didi and Didi worshiped her, wanted to do whatever she did.  Kind Jacqueline always looked after Didi and didn’t seem annoyed by her little sister’s tagging along.  Didi was christened Eileen, but that name never stuck.  She was always Didi.   When Jacqueline’s desire to fight the Germans led to her role as an agent doing undercover work for the SOE, Didi just had to follow even though Jacqueline had expressly forbidden her to do so.

Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne were born in England during the First World War to an English father and French mother, and in 1926 the family moved to France.  The children grew up feeling French until the Second World War changed things.  When Paris fell to the Germans in 1940 the second son, Frederick, left France and volunteered for the RAF.  Jacqueline and Didi decided to follow him to England and do something to help the war effort.  Special Operations Executive was a secret organization that sent agents to occupied countries.  Jacqueline’s flawless French brought her to their attention and she was trained to be a courier for the French resistance.  Didi soon followed her to France as a wireless operator.

The story is told in a straight forward manner with no unnecessary embellishments or added drama,  just the facts.  I knew very little about the French resistance and the role England had in supporting them with money and personnel, and I enjoyed this well written book that filled the gap quite nicely.  Suitable for older teens.

eGalley review       Publication date 9.30.14

Posted in adult, nonfiction | Tagged ,

Half a World Away – Cynthia Kadohada

Half a World AwayThe enduring, unconditional, and transformative powers of family and love flow through this novel and immediately draw the reader in.  Jaden, an 11 year old boy adopted a few years ago, constantly struggles with the feeling that he’s not good enough for his parents.  He is angry, steals, rebels, and lights fires to cope with his raw and painful feelings. When his parents decide to adopt another baby, this time from Kazakhstan, Jaden knows it’s because he wasn’t enough for his parents.  In order to bond with the baby, the threesome travel abroad for several weeks.  The excitement of the trip is squelched immediately when the parents learn the baby they’d been wanting was already adopted.  They then begin the process of bonding with another child.  The experiences the family has while abroad change them all forever.  The novel is a quick and captivating read that eloquently shows the raw emotions of a family.

eGalley review   Publication date 9.2.14

Posted in realistic fiction | Tagged

The Caller – Juliet Marillier

the callerNeryn was content to snuggle down for the winter in Shadowfell, but the pressing need to find the remaining two Guardians was nagging.  She has been trained by Guardians of water and earth and nowneeds to learn from the Guardian of air. There is not much time to complete her training if she is to be able to muster the Good Folk to combine forces with the rebels before the planned confrontation with the king.  Summer will come far too soon, but winter is coming quickly and the danger of being caught in a blizzard is real. Whisper, one of the Folk, an owl-like being, has  a solution.  He can transport Neryn overnight to the place where the White Lady is likely to be found and stay close by as her guard. After a great deal of discussion, the council decides that this is the only solution.  And so Neryn leaves the security of Shadowfell and once again continues her training.

The book is rather slow and introspective, stressing the importance of careful learning and training in order to use the gift well.  I was sorry to see this trilogy come to an end.  It was so nice to immerse myself in another world, a world filled characters with real emotions and real flaws, characters I came to care about.  Juliet Mariller is a wonderful storyteller.

eGalley review      Publication date  09.09.14

Posted in fantasy | Tagged

The King’s Curse – Philippa Gregory

the king's curseMargaret Pole was careful, oh so very careful.  She had been quietly married to a nice, obedient knight, Sir Richard Pole.  She lived far away from court in Ludlow Castle with her husband who was guardian for Arthur, Prince of Wales.  Occasionally she visited her cousin, the queen, and came to love the royal children, especially mischievous and spoiled Prince Henry.  She became lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine and governess to Princess Mary.  But always, always, she was careful.  Lady Margaret had need to be careful, for she was one of the last Plantagenet heirs.  She was niece to Edward IV and Richard III and the granddaughter of the Duke of Warwick, “The Kingmaker”.  All of her life she grieved for her brother who spent his life in the Tower.  A brother who’s only transgression was his royal birth and who was ultimately beheaded.

This is the final book in the Cousin’s War series and it ties neatly to the Tudor series.  It shows a chilling side of the reign of Henry VIII that made life in England almost unendurable for commoners and nobles alike. As always, the characters are real, believable, and I ached for Margaret, forever trying to do the proper thing, the safe thing.   I greatly enjoyed the book.  It may be Philippa Gregory’s  best so far.  Highly recommended and suitable for older teens.

eGalley Review        Publication date 9.9.14

Posted in adult, historical fiction | Tagged ,