Book Review: Ruins by Dan Wells

“Your lack of ‘purpose’ is the single best thing about you, because it means you be whatever you want.”

(Marcus to Kira)

Ruins by Dan Wells, chapter 41, page 370

 

The remaining Partials and humans are on the brink of war as Ruins by Dan Wells opens. Ruins is the third book in the Partial Sequence trilogy. Kira and Samm are still in the middle of it all, except this time they’re separated by miles of toxic wasteland. There’s still no stable cure for RM, the virus killing human babies, or a solution to beating the expiration date that threatens the Partials. Both sides are desperate for survival, but neither is willing to trust each other.

ruins

Kira and Samm are determined to save everyone and the fragile world that is experiencing its first real winter since the Break.

The final book of The Partials Sequence sweeps across a world ravaged by an apocalypse and now facing another set of extinction events. However, at the heart of it all are small bands of resistance fighters—both Partials and humans, hell-bent on stopping the end of the world.

There’s a lot I liked about this series and about the last installment of the story. It’s more than just a dystopian saga. The Partials Sequence combines sci-fi with a medical thriller, action-adventure, and drama all tied together in a YA package. And for me, it works.

I’ve found the world-building in the Partials Sequence—all the way through Ruins and its conclusion, to be strong and immersive. His descriptions drew me in, from the colonized “civilization” on Long Island to the barren and crumbling city of Chicago, the toxic midwest plains, and the oasis in Colorado that only exists because of bio-tech. Wells has created a world decimated by humanity. It’s not a place I’d want to live, but the survivors have hope.

Character-wise, everyone has an agenda, even the heroes. I really liked how author Wells manages to bring the different factions together without it feeling contrived or unrealistic. Told primarily from Kira’s perspective, Wells does offer readers insight into the minds and motivations of Samm, Kira’s sisters, and even Heron. I’ll admit in book one, Partials, I wasn’t fond of Marcus. By book two, Fragments, he began to grow on me, and by Ruins, I really liked him. His wit and unwavering determination to do the right thing won me over.

If you’re looking for an action-packed dystopian series filled with twists and turns and just the right balance of thriller and romance, The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells is a good choice. Overall, I think Ruins is my favorite of the main trilogy.

Book Review: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

“She took Julian’s hand, and they stepped through.”

(Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare: chapter 33, page 835)

The Blackthorns are back in the third book of The Dark Artifices that’s titled The Queen of Air and Darkness. Cassandra Clare’s epic tale opens solemnly, which is fitting after the ending of Lord of Shadows (book two) ripped my heart out. If you haven’t read Lady Midnight or Lord of Shadows, books one and two respectively, you may want to skip this review as there are spoilers for those books. I won’t reveal spoilers for The Queen of Air and Darkness, though.

QueenAirDarkness

The Dark Artifices spans three books (so far?) and is a sequel series to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. It begins in Los Angeles, five years since the concluding events in the Mortal Instruments and the story follows Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family, characters introduced in the Mortal Instruments.

If you missed it, catch up on my thoughts about Lady Midnight (book one) and Lord of Shadows (book two) before reading the rest of this review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, all 880 pages. Yes, it’s crazy long and there’s a LOT going on, but I have discovered that Emma Carstairs is hands-down my favorite Shadowhunter. Because I love the character of Emma, I’ve flown through this series, even during a few of the draggy parts (of which I feel there were only a few.)

The story picks up after Livvy’s death at the hands of Annabel Blackthorn and Emma’s shattering of the Mortal Sword. The Blackthorn’s, Emma, Cristina, and the Lightwoods are all as shattered as the Mortal Sword, suffering huge losses and caught in the middle of another war with shifting alliances.

At the core of Queen of Air and Darkness is the fight for true love—even if it’s forbidden between two parabatai. Emma and Julian still are struggling with their feelings as their worlds continue to fall apart. There’s also the ongoing fight against bigotry and hatred, on many levels, and it’s woven throughout this series.

While the rest of the Blackthorn family returns to California, the parabatai embark on a mission into Faerie to bring back the Black Volume of the Dead. Their journey is arduous and ultimately, Emma and Julian will find themselves fully entrenched in the parabatai curse and unwilling participants in destruction that can destroy everyone and everything they love.

I enjoyed Emma and Julian’s story, but there are many others throughout this series that kept me turning pages.

Kit and Ty: I love the evolution of the relationship between Kit and Ty. Ty has been one of my favorite Blackthorn’s from the beginning and Kit has evolved into a very likable and interesting character. He fascinates me and by midpoint of this book, I had an idea about his lineage and I can’t wait to see more about him in another series.

Mark, Cristina, and Kieran: I love the three of them together and watching their journey through to the end of the book was fun, although at times frustrating. Definitely, intense in some moments.

Diana Wrayburn: She’s developed into a character I’d love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with and just talk. About everything and anything. I really like her and love the relationship she has with Gynn.

It’s also been a lot of fun to watch young Dru develop and mature. She’s definitely one you can’t ignore and hoping for more of her story in future series.

There also was a nice balance of Mortal Instruments characters interspersed, the tie-ins worked for me. I will say I could have had more Magnus, but then again, who doesn’t want more Magnus?

With any Shadowhunters book, author Cassandra Clare weaves stories for multiple characters across multiple landscapes. Despite the length of the book and many story lines, I never found it difficult to keep track of the different characters. I think this mainly is because each character is distinct with a specific purpose. I particularly liked the way she quick-shifted scenes to give the reader the feeling that certain moments were happen simultaneously.

Overall, I definitely recommend Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, but highly advise you to read books one and two first. You can find additional information about The Dark Artifices series and Clare’s other books at her website: www.cassandraclare.com.

2018 Reading Wrap Up

My Goodreads year-in-review tells me I read 44 books in 2018. This is true and misleading. It only catalogs what I tell it and I don’t tell it everything. If you’d like to see what my Goodreads year-in-review, it’s here

In actuality, I’ve read 50+, I don’t know the exact number because I don’t keep track of all my rereads. You know the ones. Those comfort books you pick up when your life feels wonky, suffocating, bleak, and so forth. We all have those moments and I often deal by escape into a well-worn, many-times-read book.

But I digress. My 2018 Reading Wrap Up features some of my favorite reads of the year and I’m sharing because maybe as you’re putting together your TBR list for 2019, you might want to consider adding one or two or all.

Overall Favorite Book of 2018

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

NewPurpleHearts

Michael Grant’s young adult book Purple Hearts is book three in the Front Lines series featuring Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. In this alternate history, they are soldier girls of World War II. Author Grant gives readers the chance to see what may have happened if women were allowed to enlist and were drafted to serve on the front lines during World War II. I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s raw and wonderful and my overall favorite book of 2018.  

Favorite Author Who’s New To Me

Melissa Keil

I was perusing the young adult shelves of my local library and I saw The Secret Science of Magic displayed cover out. It grabbed me—the cover, the title, and then the blurb. I liked it so much I checked out Life in Outer Space and then The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, which ended up being my favorite of the three Keil books I read. Her characters are likable, quirky, and I totally recommend checking out author Melissa Keil and her books.

Most Anticipated Releases

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

The Evolution of Claire by Tess Sharpe

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

The three books that I’ve listed as my tops were pre-ordered and anxiously awaited, their arrival date circled on my calendar. While I enjoyed The Evolution of Claire, I loved both Purple Hearts and Of Blood and Bone. The latter two are part of series so I already was invested in the story and characters—and neither disappointed.

Favorite Mystery of 2018

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

OOUIL front cover

I love mysteries. My all-time favorite author is Agatha Christie, known as the Queen of Crime and writer of more than 60 mysteries. When I can get my hands on a new mystery, I’m in heaven. This year, I had the pleasure of reading a young adult mystery that I couldn’t put down because it was that good, that immersive. If you haven’t read One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, do it. And then be sure to make a place on your bookshelf for her second book Two Can Keep a Secret which releases January 8, 2019.

Favorite Re-reads of 2018

As I mentioned earlier, I reread—a lot. And I do have many favorites. However, after much consideration, I decided to list four as my Favorite Re-reads of 2018.

Front Lines (Front Lines series book 1) by Michael Grant

Silver Stars (Front Lines series book 2) by Michael Grant

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Until the End by Christopher Pike

2018 was a good year for reading, amazing new stories alongside old favorites. Just yesterday, two new books arrived that will be part of my 2019 Reading List and I’ve two more new releases arriving in the first week of the new year. Yay!

What was your favorite book you read during 2018? Share the title and author below in comments, please as I’m always looking to add new titles to my TBR List.

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

Solas don Saol. Light for Life.”

(page 294: Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts)

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts is book two in the series: Chronicles of The One, which began with the book Year One. If you haven’t read it or my review, please check it out here.

Blood&Bone

This was a book I waited anxiously to receive and when it arrived, I dived in and quickly became immersed into the harsh yet entrancing world author Nora Roberts has created in this series. Of Blood and Bone picks up 12 years after the birth of Fallon Swift, who is The One. She’s lived her childhood on a peaceful farm with her mother, father, and brothers, mostly sheltered from the ruined world decimated by the Doom and now ravaged by Raiders and vicious Purity Warriors.

Like her mother and birth father, Fallon has gifts and it’s these gifts that make her a target for those who despise an Uncanny—witch, faery, shifter, elf, or other magical being. And as The One, she is destined to be so much more. Fallon will have to leave her family to train and fully come into her essence as The One in order to mobilize and lead an army to battle the dangerous, deadly evil forces that threaten all that is good. She’ll learn to be a healer, student, teacher, and warrior, all before her fifteenth birthday.

Once fully trained and reunited with her family, Fallon and her people return to New Hope. New Hope is the town where her parents lived, loved, and had many friends. It’s also the town where her birth father was murdered by his brother.

Of Blood and Bone tells the epic tale of Fallon Swift’s journey into becoming The One, from her childhood days on the farm to studies with the ancient Mallick and the journey and reconnection with New Hope. In book one, author Roberts gave readers a sense of the magicks and their impact for this story. Book two takes it to another level and it kept me turning pages. I really like Fallon and watching her learning process. She’s intelligent, strong, independent, and yet there’s still just a hint of vulnerability.

It made me happy to see some of my favorite characters from Year One thriving in this book, in particular sweet Fred and the lovable Eddie as well as Arlys, Chuck, Katie, and Flynn. We get to know Katie’s three kids better, all teens now. Duncan and Tonia have developed their gifts and together with Fallon, this trio is formidable. I’m looking forward to seeing how they evolve further in book three.

I really liked Of Blood and Bone and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and dystopian stories. Definitely read Year One first, but then grab Of Blood and Bone and enjoy!

You can find Of Blood and Bone at Nora Roberts website as well as her many other books.

Book Review: The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty

“Her writing was witty and entertaining but carefully neutral in describing camp workings and routines, which would give no enemy significant information if it was intercepted.”

(THE TRAITOR’S RUIN by Erin Beaty, Chapter 28, page 108)

The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty is the second in a trilogy that begins with The Traitor’s Kiss and will conclude with the The Traitor’s Kingdom releasing in July 2019.

TraitorsRuin

The young adult fantasy continues the story of Sage Fowler, former apprentice to the matchmaker Darnessa, current tutor to the children of the Demoran royal family, and betrothed of Captain Alex Quinn. I like Sage because she’s intelligent, fiercely independent, and kindhearted. This story has her back in the thick of things, this time even more fully entrenched as a spy and definitely with higher stakes.

At the bequest of the Queen, Sage sets off with the newly formed Norsari, an elite group of soldiers led by her Captain Quinn. While Alex is not happy to have Sage along, there’s no denying her skill for languages and critical thinking that may play an important role in the mission. And it does. Unfortunately, when Sage’s student, the young prince Nicholas, is the target of a kidnapping, the two become separated from the Alex and the Nosari during the fighting. Sage and Nicholas find themselves with the Casumi, soldiers from a far-off land who also are at odds with Kimisar.

Like the first book, author Beaty takes the reader through a world filled with political intrigue, a specific social hierarchy, and cultural customs specific to each of the different lands. There’s a lot going on in this book and at times, in particular in the first half, it was a challenge to keep it all straight due to the unique names and language. However, I enjoy a spy story and Sage is a character that keeps me turning pages. In The Traitor’s Ruin we get to see her relationship with Alex evolve and how she handles keeping secrets from him, much in the same manner he kept secrets from her in the first book.

I don’t do spoilers, but I will reveal that both Sage and Alex find themselves in mortal danger and that not all characters from book one survive book two. There are many action-packed fight scenes plus just the right amount of romance and levity in the right spots. Overall, I enjoyed The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty and look forward to reading book three when it’s released in 2019.

If you want to check out this trilogy and author Erin Beaty, this is her website: www. erinbeaty.com 

Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers & Book Lovers

It’s Cyber Monday 2018 and let’s not forget about the writers and book lovers on your lists! Check out a few holiday gift ideas for writers and book lovers that capture the imagination, offer inspiration, and add another touch of whimsy during a magical season while providing joy throughout the upcoming new year.

Untitled design

NOTE: I receive no compensation for any of these items. I am not connected to any of these artisans, sellers, companies, and so forth. They’re items I personally like and wanted to share as ideas.

Something Wearable

Let’s start with a few gems from Storiarts. A couple of years ago, my wonderful husband gave me this pair of Pride and Prejudice writing gloves. I love them! Seriously, love them and wear them throughout the cold months as I work. As a writer, I totally recommend adding these to your gift list for anyone who spends long hours at the keyboard.

Storiarts also has a several other fun items, and I want to point out the book totes. Personally, I love the Matilda one, but there are many choices and you can’t go wrong with a book-themed tote bag for any writer or book lover.

From the Mareshop on Etsy, discover another type of fingerless glove perfect for a fantasy writer, dragon lover, or anyone who might love these colorful, handmade gems. I’m partial to this pink pair, but there are several colors plus two length styles to suit personal tastes.

Moonglow jewelry ads have appeared recently in my social media feeds and I’ll confess, I think they’re beautiful. Here’s the deal, you pick a significant date and the mini moon on your jewelry will feature the phase of moon from that time. Cool, right?

Why not choose a significant date for the author on your list? It could be the release date of their debut novel or the date they officially signed a contract with their agent or publisher. You can choose from pedants to earrings and bracelets, but I’m partial to this particular bangle bracelet.

Something Wordy

You can’t go wrong with 200 themed magnetic word tiles: Magnetic Poetry Kit—Moist and Other Awful Words. It’s fun, sassy, and can be mixed-and-matched with other magnetic poetry tile kits.

Found at Uncommon Goods, definitely take a look at the literature charts. I loved the Literary Insults chart and the Wine in Literature chart.

Next up is Scapple, a program available through Literature & Latte. It’s a way for writers to brainstorm ideas and connect ideas even when things seem at their most scattered. If the writer(s) on your list love Scrivener, there’s a good chance they’ll enjoy Scapple.

How about a waterproof notepad? Never forget a great story idea when in the shower or bath again. Add AquaNotes to your gift list.

There are so many different literary, book-inspired, and writerly-styled mugs and drinkware available, I could go on and on. But I won’t. Instead, I’m sharing something I hadn’t seen before until today. These are so much fun! And great for English teachers, too! Check out this set of eight plates from Grammar Stuff.  

Something for the Home

Whimsical bookends, beautiful bookends, unique bookends! Head over to Etsy for a huge selection of bookends, truly something for every book lover.

And just fun for, why not a Writer’s Block? It’s the perfect paperweight and desk accessory for any writer.

 

Book Review: Villain by Michael Grant

“People could be amazingly blind to what was right in front of their faces.”

(“Villain”, chapter 8, page 84)

A year ago, almost to the day, I posted my review of Monster by Michael Grant, the long-awaited continuation of the GONE series that originally released in June 2008. Ten years later, readers like me are still caught in the FAYZ and soaking up every word of Villain, the latest installation in this gripping series.

Villain

Shade Darby was there the day the Perdido Beach dome came down. She witnessed the horror that was Gaia, the monster of the FAYZ as well as the death of her mother. When the alien virus-infected rock crashed into the earth, Shade was there to retrieve a piece. Along with her friends Cruz and Malik, she’s ingested a portion of the rock and now they’re part of the Rockborn and able to morph into something more, beings of incredible power. Unfortunately, Shade and friends aren’t the only ones that are Rockborn, and some of the others are using their morphs for more evil agendas.

Villain brings back previous foes, from Knightmare to Peaks, Vu, and the sadistic Drake Merwin—Whip Hand. Adding to the mix is a new villain, Dillon Poe. When morphed as the Charmer, Dillon is unstoppable. His ability to command anyone to do anything with just his words makes him a dangerous, deadly villain. Add to it his lust for power and our heroes have their hands full.

Also returning for Villain are GONE series fan favorite Dekka and brief but critical appearances by Sam and Astrid. Personally, I love the new dynamic that’s developed between Dekka and Armo as well as Dekka and Shade. Author Grant also gives us a new hero in the form of Francis, a young girl who can walk through any solid object and who also possesses a very special trait that may be key when it comes to the final take-down of the Watchers.

Villain took me on a heart-stopping ride, twisting my insides and pushing all the buttons. There are brutal moments, turns, and Chapter 30 that even brought a tear + a very loud “hell yeah!”

“‘What are we going to do? Cruz repeated. She shrugged. ‘I guess we’re going to try and save the world.’”

The GONE series has never shied away from harsh, gory, terrifying imagery and Michael Grant certainly paints a picture. There are scenes in Villain that may be difficult to read, but it’s well done and a complete page-turner.

It’s no secret I am a long-time fan and faithful reader of Michael Grant and the GONE series ranks in my top all-time favorites. For me, Villain continued to deliver the story, characters, and thrills I’ve come to expect and love from this author and series.

If you’ve not stepped into the FAYZ yet, pick up book one: GONE and dive right in. Read ‘em all and be sure to grab a copy of Villain.

 

 

 

Let’s Talk Book-Inspired Parties!

Book-inspired parties! That’s what is on my mind today. This morning I was working on a project for a client—unfortunately not a plan for a book-inspired party, but it was New Year’s Eve related, so fairly festive. Along the trail of research I had the good fortune to stumble upon the InLiterature.net website. This site has fabulous ideas and information for planning a book-inspired party, everything from recipes to decorations plus crafts and activities for kids’ parties.

The books range from classic literature to favorite children’s stories and everything in between.

unnamed (1)
A few of my copies, some a bit more tattered than others. I’m looking at you, HP. 

Just a few of the books included are:

  • A Christmas Carol
  • Coraline
  • Anna Karenina
  • Divergent
  • Dracula
  • Julie & Julia
  • Jurassic Park
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Practical Magic
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Hobbit

And of course you can find pages on the site for Harry Potter party ideas.

Do you want to learn how to make a paper mache mandrake? Here you go. InLiterature.net has step-by-step directions.

How about whipping up a batch of Fizzing Whizbees to enjoy at your Harry Potter party? They have a three-ingredient recipe for that too. It looks so easy!

Several years ago I worked at a library and hosted the weekly reading programs for kids. It was a blast! For the preschoolers each week, it was always a program theme relating to our book of the week. I would have loved to have had access to a site like this. Now I’m actually considering a theme party somewhere down the road. But which book to choose?

So how about it? Do you have any good ideas for book-inspired parties? Share your ideas or links to cool sites in the comments below.

Book Review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

“And why can’t you understand. . . I don’t get what’s so wrong with being happy where you are.”

(Alba, Chapter 8, page 138)

CinnamonGirl

Melissa Keil brings incredible fun and laughter to the end of the world with The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl. It’s a book that pulled me in from the prologue and kept me engaged until the very sweet end. This is the third book by Keil that I’ve read and I’m hungry for more, along with a piece of apple strudel from Albany’s.

Sarah Jane Albany, known as Alba, calls the small town of Eden Valley home. Alba and her mom live in the residence behind their bakery named Albany’s. She’s a comic-book loving artist and the creator of Cinnamon Girl, her newest character who’s being slightly troublesome, almost as much as the events that quickly begin to unfold in Alba’s once even-paced life.

For Alba, tradition and routine are just fine. Why mess it all up with with changes like leaving Eden Valley and going to college? She loves her corner of the world that includes the bakery, her friends, and especially her best friend Domenic Grady, known simply as Grady.

Pals since the playpen because their mothers are best friends, Alba and Grady haven’t really spent a day apart in their lives. But, with Grady’s plans to go off and study law, Alba is in a bit of funk, especially because she’s really not sure what she wants or where she’ll fit in once her best friend leaves for his own adventure. And then there’s this pesky little issue of the world ending. Literally.

So what happens when the end of high school also coincides with the end of the world?

Alba struggles to make sense of her place in the world and the changes that are about to befall her, Grady, and their group of friends. When an obscure television personality predicts the planet’s demise and names Eden Valley as the only place that will survive, their tiny Australian town quickly becomes the center of global attention, filling with end-of-the-world zealots, personalities, and a particular hunky teen actor who also happens to be a former friend of Alba’s and Grady’s.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the quirky characters, including Alba’s entire gang of friends. Author Keil creates a great cast of supporting characters that developed and contributed perfectly to the main story, while at the same time drawing you in—I’d totally read a book that focused on Tia and Petey. The dialogue is witty yet easy to read and believable. Keil paints a picture with her words, giving readers a clear view of Eden Valley and the chaos that an end-of-the-world prediction would bring to a small town.

The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter were awesome! Loved them as artwork and how they connected seamlessly with the story.

Go grab yourself a copy of The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil. It’s a romance spiced with a quirky-sweet main character plus banter, universal truths, and laugh-out-loud moments.

You can check out Melissa Keil’s other books at her website. Also, my review of her book The Secret Science of Magic is here.

Book Series: When Covers Don’t Match

When you own a complete book series, do you care if the books are mixed-and-matched? Does it make you twitchy to own book one of a series as a paperback and books three through six (soon to be seven) as hardbacks?

Yes, I’m looking at you GONE series.

And how about different cover art?

IMG-1753

Currently I own three series, three of my all-time favorite book series, that are not matched. It doesn’t usually bother me until it’s time to clean and re-organize my bookshelves, then it makes me twitchy because they don’t fit in nice and neat.

This brings me to the next question:

Do I treat myself to a new set of each?

 

 

 

Here is the series that stimulated this train of thought:

IMG-1752

The first three books are paperback and the last two are hardback. The first one has different artwork—which I do like.

However, the white really doesn’t go with the darker palette of the other four. Now in reality, does all this make a huge difference?

Of course not.

But it’s my bookshelf and since I gaze at it while working daily, I like a certain aesthetic.

 

 

 

I have no issues owning multiple copies of books or series that I reread regularly and Percy Jackson & the Olympians falls into that category.

I think I just talked myself into new, matching volumes of this Rick Riordan series. Christmas is just 85 days away, so maybe it’s perfect for my wish list.

So who’s going to talk to Santa for me?