Flame of Olympus
Middle Grade / Juvenile / July 28, 2017

Pegasus #1. Author: Kate O’Hearn. Summary: When Pegasus crashes onto a Manhattan roof during a terrible storm, Emily’s life changes forever. Suddenly allied with a winged horse she’d always thought was mythical, Emily is thrust into the center of a fierce battle between the Roman gods and a terrifying race of multiarmed stone warriors called the Nirads. Emily must team up with a thief named Paelen, the goddess Diana, and a boy named Joel in order to return Pegasus to Olympus and rescue the gods from a certain death. Along the way, Emily and her companions will fight monsters, run from a government agency that is prepared to dissect Pegasus, and even fly above the Manhattan skyline—all as part of a quest to save Olympus before time runs out. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Flame of Olympus is definitely on the lower end of middle-grade age ranges. It was too simplistic and obvious on all counts to really appeal to me; I saw the plot twist coming within about two sentences of the first lead-in, and all the character development was laid out very explicitly. More, while I do enjoy a good story with Greek/Roman mythology, I didn’t really appreciate all…

Winterling
Middle Grade / Juvenile / July 27, 2017

Summerlands #1. Author: Sarah Prineas. Summary: “We live here, my girl, because it is close to the Way, and echoes of its magic are felt in our world. The Way is a path leading to another place, where the people are governed by different rules. Magic runs through them and their land.” With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land. Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the Mór rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter. (Published Summary) My Thoughts:…

All Clear
Adult / July 3, 2017

All Clear #2. Author: Connie Willis. Summary: In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-traveling future of 2060—the setting for several of her most celebrated works—and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler’s bombers attempt to pummel London into submission. Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory—but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians’ supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own—to find three missing needles in the…

Why I Hate Romance So Much
Outside the Reviews / July 2, 2017

[Disclaimer: I’m 17, folks. While I’ve watched long-standing married couples around me, including my close-knit parents, read plenty of books, and drawn a few conclusions of my own, I’m the first to admit I know next to nothing about romantic love.) If you’ve read any number of my reviews, (you haven’t? Um… don’t worry, that’s easily remedied. Shoo. Go read.) you’ll have noticed a recurring theme in my outlook on romance. Ranging from mildly annoyed to severely aggravated to outright furious, if there’s a love interest in the story odds aren’t good for my thoughts on it. But it’s an inconsistent hatred, because there are the romances I fall in love with, the love interests I praise, even love triangles I can put up with. (I think. Not sure I could name one, actually.) So what’s going on? A number of things. I’ll start with the least important and work up. Number one: it’s generally trope-ridden. I’m not dismissing love and/or romance in a story as a cliche in itself; they’re some of the oldest building blocks. Love, death, (and taxes), right? But the romance I tend to encounter, perhaps most especially in YA, is filled with side-cliches. The sarcastic,…

Blackout
Adult / July 1, 2017

All Clear #1. Author: Connie Willis. Summary: Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas–to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Don’t go into Blackout thinking science fiction. Even though that’s technically the genre, since the time-travel short circuits out in the beginning, and the actual execution is historical novel. And…