Renegades
Young Adult / December 18, 2017

Renegades #1. Author: Marissa Meyer. Summary: Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice. The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies―humans with extraordinary abilities―who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew. Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice―and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both. My Thoughts: I think we’ve all been waiting to find out what epic twist Marissa Meyer was going to put on the classic superhero schema. Sure, the plot sounded totally cliche, but obviously she had secrets up her sleeve. …Right? Wrong. Completely, utterly, trustingly mistaken. The world-setting/backstory bears staggering resemblance to Steelheart (which Marietta first pointed out), the superpowers are no different than anything Marvel might introduce, and the romance is thread-bare and tired. Here’s the thing: I love Meyer’s other books and characters. They’re inventive, relatable, and fun….

Left Neglected
Adult / December 16, 2017

Author: Lisa Genova. Summary: Sarah Nickerson, like any other working mom, is busy trying to have it all. One morning while racing to work and distracted by her cell phone, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In that blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over-scheduled life come to a screeching halt. After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In so doing, she also learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most. My Thoughts: Left Neglected plunges us straight into the hectic life of Sarah Nickerson, a highly successful career-driven executive and mom. There’s no time to think as she whirls from email to breakfast to helping kids back to email ontowards school drop-off and then she’s rushing off to work already behind. The writing is so good at immersing you in Sarah’s juggling act that the first couple of chapters are actually stressful. Then one rainy morning no different from any other, careening down a 70 mph highway, Sarah’s life comes to a screeching…

Jane, Unlimited
Young Adult / December 11, 2017

Author: Kristine Cashore. Summary: If you could change your story, would you? Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible. My Thoughts: I think it’s fairly common knowledge, going into the book, that Jane, Unlimited takes an unconventional plot route, seemingly more akin to choose-your-own-adventure than most novels. (Somehow I was unaware of this, and it was quite confusing for a bit.) The whole story hinges around a single quote:…

Guardian Angels and Other Monsters
Adult / December 7, 2017

Author: Daniel H. Wilson. This ARC was provided, in return for an unbiased review, by Netgalley. Summary: In “All Kinds of Proof,” a down-and-out drunk makes the unlikeliest of friends when he is hired to train a mail-carrying robot; in “Blood Memory,” a mother confronts the dangerous reality that her daughter will never assimilate in this world after she was the first child born through a teleportation device; in “The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever,” a physicist rushes home to be with his daughter after he hears reports of an atmospheric anomaly which he knows to be a sign of the end of the earth; in “Miss Gloria,” a robot comes back to life in many different forms in a quest to save a young girl. Guardian Angels and Other Monsters displays the depth and breadth of Daniel H. Wilson’s vision and examines how artificial intelligence both saves and destroys humanity. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: You know how it is with any short-story collection – there are ups, downs, the “what the heck even??” stories. The over all tone of this futuristic sci-fi collection was fairly AI-themed and dark. Not surprising, given the title, but it started off with the…

Top Books of 2017
Outside the Reviews / December 6, 2017

Alright, you know I can’t pick favorites. It just isn’t happening. But I did go through all the book-reviews from the last year, and pick out the top ones, sorted by age. So, here’s some of the books I loved most in 2017*. ~ Adult ~ The Scent of Water. A quiet, slow-paced story set in the countryside. Probably not the sort of thing I usually review, but maybe I should try to find more such stories – this one is on my mental ‘inspirational’ list. To read it was mentally renewing in a way very few, maybe none, of the more ‘exciting’ books was. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Top of the line fantasy by Neil Gaiman. This is the sort of surreal story that slides from creepy to horrifying then somehow into beautiful and back to creepy again, the story of a little boy’s adventures narrated by the adult remembering, a story that might very nearly convince you – at least for as long as you’re reading – that this world is thinner than you thought and there are things behind the stars. Bellwether. This one’s just fun. An oddball sci-fi/realistic story about chaos theory…

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Adult / December 3, 2017

Author: Susan Clarke. Summary: English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory. But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French. All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be…

An Enchantment of Ravens
Young Adult / December 2, 2017

Author: Margaret Rogerson. Summary: A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel. Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life. Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk…