What sort of devilry is this?! A mash-up of Holmes & Stoker, of reality and fiction?! Or rather a series featuring their young, spunky female relatives set in an alternate London — a London powered by STEAM?!?!
Um… yes, please!
If you follow this blog, you may know of my ongoing search for great YA steampunk and my recent disappointments in the genre. But, in regard to the steampunk side of things, I’m happy to report that The Clockwork Scarab pleasantly surprised me. The alternate timeline Gleason has created for her Misses Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker is thoroughly, utterly, and immersively steampunk. Organic, necessary and inextricable, machinery and steam have shaped the very lifeblood of this alternate Victorian London. In other words, it’s more than a few gears, a pair of goggles and a random dirigible sighting.
This was my third Saundra Mitchell novel, and I have to say that, once again, I continue to be impressed by her gorgeous prose and her deeply introspective narrative that mark her stories so distinctly. Set against an eery, supernatural backdrop, the story of Mistwalker is ultimately a very human one about two people dealing with the devastating consequences of their seemingly inconsequential decisions; about two people dealing with their grief, loss, and their search for identity in very different ways. It’s a dark fairytale and there’s plenty of creepy and weird, but instead of the magical, mystical element being the core of this book, Saundra uses it as a vehicle to focus on and highlight the deeper emotional and personal development of her characters. It’s a gorgeous story of healing, forgiveness, sacrifice, love, consequences, of surviving, and living… that’s also shiver-inducingly “other.”
Willa. Stubborn, gutsy, self-assured, hard-working and a little rough around the edges, Willa Dixon’s got life post-high school all planned out – fishing and her boyfriend Seth. But when her younger brother Levi is murdered, it indirectly being her fault, her entire world capsizes and causing her to take a new look her dreams, her life, her family and herself.
Indelible is an inventive take on the world of the Fae. The Twixt is dark, fascinating and well-conceived, while Metcalf’s characters, creatures and environments wonderfully creative and vividly depicted. The mystery is interesting, and the story, while it floundered a bit at the beginning, ultimately sucked me in.
Joy is a great protagonist – an average girl who helps to put all the weirdness in a very human perspective, who let herself get freaked out by the strangeness, the danger, and the creepiness, who didn’t always know the right thing to do or say. But Joy’s loyal and passionate and she’s stronger than she realizes as she navigates through this new unknown as well as her own personal emotional issues.
Unique. That’s the word I keep coming back to whenever I think of Some Quiet Place. Kelsey Sutton has created a gorgeously unique world in which feelings and elements are personified. It’s a little fey and a little something other. It’s bewitching and terrifying and captivating all at once. The story itself is beautifully stark. It’s gritty. It’s violent. It’s a bit ugly and disturbing in places, and for a story about a girl who is unable to feel any emotions, it’s surprisingly moving and poignant.
American Girl on Saturn instantly appealed to me because it’s basically every girl’s celebrity crush day dream come true. Or perhaps I should say, it’s my teenage celebrity crush day dream realized… on the page. Devon Sawa? Jonathan Taylor Thomas? Joey & Matt Lawrence? The one brother from Hanson, you tried to pretend you didn’t have a crush on, but totally did? Yeah, I definitely spent time daydreaming back in the day about those guys…
(BTDubs, whatever happened to Devon Sawa?)
This story unfortunately felt more in love with the IDEA of Doctor Who and it's nuances than actually written in the style and voice of the show and the characters. Still, despite the Doctor and Amy not quite feeling like the Doctor and Amy (and more like caricatures), it was an interesting premise with moments of originality and humor and poignancy. Llewellyn's own original characters were quite good, and brought to life brilliantly by the talented Arthur Darvill. Actually, I awarded this audiobook version an extra star just because his narration is absolutely wonderful. But ultimately, even he couldn't make the Doctor sound like the Doctor.
A very fun adventure, but I'm not sure the resolution made much sense even using "wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey" excuse. Also Nicholas Brigg's (better known as the voice of the Daleks) narration is great, but his portrayal of the doctor is kind of a weird combination of 9, 10, and 11.
EMOTIONS. That’s it. That’s my review. But since that isn’t overly helpful or at all descriptive, I’ll endeavor to explain why. The end of Something Strange and Deadly leaves Eleanor somewhat alone and abandoned. A Darkness Strange and Lovely capitalizes on just how much she’s been so, and depicts the changes and shifts within Eleanor’s character as a response to and because of the situation she’s found herself in. I’ve never considered Eleanor to be anything other than strong; she’s always been wonderfully independent, headstrong, knowing her own mind and extremely capable. But she’s pushed to her limit in A Darkness Strange and Lovely — her mother taking a leave of absence from sanity, The Spirit Hunters (and Daniel) having to flee from Philadelphia, her financial outlook grim with no one but herself to depend on, her social circle ostracizing her, a threatening promise beginning to manifest, and a dormant power within her taking over. The choices she makes are uncomfortable and conflicting, the tension between her and her friends heartbreaking, the dangers she faces are greater, more horrifying and even more personal than before… and it all comes together beautifully in this second novel. And thus, creates ALL THE EMOTIONS.
Overall, It’s even better than the first and I cannot wait for the final act!
Egyptology + the style, class and legend of Audrey Hepburn + high school + Valentine’s Day dance woes + teenage crushes = a recipe for what could be a potentially very cute YA novel with much adorableness.
When high school freshman and Audrey Hepburn fanatic, Jordan stumbles a an old Egyptian bracelet in her grandmother’s attic, she’s shocked to find it’s identical to the one her Hollywood idol wore in the film, Tessa’s Treasure – Jordan’s all-time favorite Hepburn movie. Borrowing it, she wears it to school and her life takes a turn for the utterly strange and weird. Turns out the bracelet belongs to Hathor, the Egyptian goddesses of love, and despite the weirdness, Jordan begins to wonder if perhaps this bracelet can actually help her. I mean, who better to help her win her crush’s heart if not an Egyptian goddess of love?
Oh, Jordan. Be very, very careful what you wish for…
At just over 100 pages, A Dawn Most Wicked proves to be quite a meaty novella, both in size and in content. Providing an interesting perspective into the back story of Daniel Sheridan, this particular moment in his history grants a lot of insight not only into Daniel’s decision at the end of Something Strange & Deadly *shakes fist*, but also allows the reader to see just how The Spirit Hunters were formed, and Joseph, Jie, and Daniel’s first adventure together. This story takes place primarily as a flashback as Daniel visits Eleanor in the hospital in the aftermath of… spoilery stuff from the first book, and is wonderfully book-ended by present day Daniel’s thoughts and struggles as he wars with his feelings for Eleanor. His memory, the story, itself is equally compelling and page-turning – Daniel trying to outrun his dark past, loving a girl he shouldn’t, an ambitious race on the Mississippi in a steamboat haunted with terrifying ghosts. Action, adventure, romance, horror, danger and heartache all artfully rolled into a small story that’s perfectly paced and well-executed.
Though it’s not necessary for understanding the larger story line of this series it does yield some interesting possible foreshadowing into aspects of A Darkness Strange & Lovely, and gives the reader a rare glimpse beneath the gruff, tough exterior of Daniel Sheridan. Character building, peeps. It’s good stuff. If you’re a fan of the series, I highly recommend this novella.
Though initially intrigued by this book, ultimately, When The World Was Flat left me feeling rather unimpressed. Why? Well unfortunately, in the end, it proved to be just more standard trope-filled YA fare. I don’t necessarily mind tropes if they’re used creatively… or used sparingly, but this book was filled with them, and it felt very same old, same old . New boy at school, inexplicable attraction, more inexplicable hot ‘n cold behavior, (spoilerly trope that I can’t reveal, but you’ll know it when you see it), evil mean girl who wants the inexplicably hot ‘n cold new boy with the inexplicable attraction to our MC, stalkerish/obsessive tendencies, love triangle-ishness, MC thinking she might be losing it as weirdness begins to manifest itself, single parent, and so on and so forth.
*** If you are not up-to-date in this series, there will be spoilers for The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers in the following review. ***
When we last left Elisa & Co. in The Crown of Embers, the situation was admittedly a little dire. And by a little, I really mean, “the fiery pit is right this way, and please, take a complimentary hand basket as you plunge straight into it.” More specifically, at the end of the last book, Elisa found herself at risk of losing her country to traitors and civil war, betrayed by a confidante, and the man she loves being forcibly taken from her by her enemies. What Elisa does have in her favor however, is a greater understanding of herself, better knowledge of her limits, what she’s capable of, what she’s willing to risk, what she’s not willing to lose, a new-found confidence, a sense of purpose and conviction, and an impressive and growing grasp of political strategy. Plus, a handful of trustworthy and loyal friends. And really, aren’t those some of the most effective weapons a girl – a queen – can have in her arsenal? Bad dudes, beware.
I think my biggest question upon finishing The Collector was, how is hedonistic-to-the-max Dante going to handle working for Heaven? Can he find it within himself renounce his life of sin, earn his halo and walk the straight ‘n narrow? ‘Cause I seriously doubt it. Turns out this is homeboy’s biggest nagging worry too. ‘Cause dude is bad… and bad is what he’s best at.
Dante. While The Liberator continues on with overall arc to protect Charlie and ensure the coming of Trelvator, this book, to me, is primarily about Dante struggling with his own personal demons and his new-found, and somewhat unwelcome, Liberator status.