ARC: Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

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I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.  This in no way affected my review.

Gates of Thread and Stone follows Kai, a young woman/girl that is living in the slums with her brother, Reev.  He is a bouncer and she delivers mail.  Her best/only friend is Avan, a shop-owner’s son.  When Reev doesn’t come after his shift one night, Kai is determined to find and save him; like he saved her years earlier.  Joined by Avan, she embarks on a quest that will lead her discovering just who she is and her role in their world.

Lame, I know.  But I’m having problems trying to come up with something without spoilers.  Grr.  So much of what happens is spoilers!  There is a great many people and events talked about, with most of them being reveled at the end.  Again, which makes it hard NOT to give any spoilers.

The book’s blurb hooked me, making me think of a YA fantasy novel.  Yet, this isn’t quite right.  At times I thought of a Sci-Fi/steampunk (which is close), yet also not quite right.  About midway through, an item briefly mentioned made me rethink how I would categorize this, and gave me new insight into the world Kai lives in.

It also made me wonder about the relationship between Kai, Reev, and Avan.  Thankfully, Kai and Reev’s relationship is truly that of an older brother/younger sister.  The way the point was made that they weren’t really related had me wondering… Kai/Avan, on the other hand, is all muddled and confused because Kai is all muddled and confused.

Even as I struggle to write this review, I’m antsy to return to this world in the next book.  Sometimes, the books I like/enjoy the most are the hardest for me to review.  4.5 Stars.

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SERIES: Castle Glower by Jessica Day George

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I am in love with these books!  They follow Celie, the youngest princess in the magical Castle Glower.  From protecting the castle from evil doers trying to take over the throne to trying to make her way back home from another world; Celie shows that age and gender does not prevent you from becoming a hero.  I’m planning on getting these for my nieces for their birthdays.

Tuesdays in the Castle is a good introduction to Princess Celie and her beloved Castle Glower.  Every Tuesday the castle will switch things up by adding and removing rooms, making life difficult for most of the residents.  But not Celie.  She looks forward to each Tuesday so she can learn more about the castle and work on her atlas of it.  Which all comes in handy when she needs to use all her knowledge and wit to protect and save her family when outsides try taking control of the throne.

Wednesdays in the Tower provide Celie with an egg, her Royal Wizard brother with a bunch of old and unknown weapons, and the castle is starting to act weird.  Celie must protect the egg and what hatches while trying to figure out what is happening to the castle before it’s too late.

Thursday with the Crown immediately starts out where Wednesdays in the Tower left off.  I don’t want to give anything/too much away; just that the origins of the castle come to life, and the mystery of why it appeared in Celie’s homeland.  This book wasn’t as strong as the other two, but it is still a good addition to the overall story.

While these books seemed to be more aimed towards a middle school reading age, I think anyone looking for a light/fluff read will enjoy this series.  4.5 Stars overall.

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ARC: The October Faction Vol 1 by Steve Niles & Damien Worm

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I received a copy of this graphic novel from the publisher through Netgalley.  This did not effect my review in any way.  1.5 stars.

I had a hard time following this story line. I felt like I had been dropped into the middle of a story I should already know the beginning. The art work is rough and dark; dark enough that on my iPad I had an extremely hard time making out what was supposed to be happening.

I won’t recommend this to anyone, and I won’t continue reading the follow up volumes.

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ARC: Wayward vol. 1: String Theory by Jim Zub

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I received a copy of Wayward from the publisher through Net Galley.  This had no bearing or influence on my review.

I LOVED Wayward vol. 1.  I am anxiously waiting for volume to be announced, so then I can get antsy waiting for it to be released.  I might just break my own rule and buy the individual issues.  It was that good!

The story starts with Rori, a half Japanese/Irish, arriving in Tokyo to start living with her mom.  This is also the first time we see her ‘strings’; glowing ribbons that lead her to here she needs to go/be.  Soon she runs into the crazy girl, the bad boy (who eats spirits), and another young boy with odd abilities.  There are some monsters and a mysterious figure that seems to have a connection to them.

As much as I find the story and the drop dead gorgeous artwork enthralling, I can’t describe the story.  I just can’t.  There is so much going on all at once; I’m not 100% what is taking place.  Except for the end, but that’s a spoiler.  *shh*  Hopefully the next collection will shed some light on some of the actions happening.

4.5 Stars

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ARC: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

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I received a copy of of this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affected my review.

The blurb for this book hooked me, even if I was a tad leery about a fan ‘guide’. I have been a fan girl for so long, I’m not willing to date myself by giving examples of my first fandoms. So what could this guide give me that I didn’t already know?

Sam Maggs did a wonderful job including as many general fandoms as possible!  There are book-, TV-, comic-, game-, and even Disney-fans.  The only real disappointment I had in this regard is she tends to focus on the current, widely known books and TV shows. She didn’t talk about lesser known titles that could have become new favorites.  Understandable, but still slightly disappointing.

With sections on vocabulary, ways to find like-minded new friends, conventions, to name a few, a lot of ground gets covered. Thankfully the information provided doesn’t feel thrown together or missing key things the beginner should be aware of.

Saying that, there is one big problem I have with this.  And, not being sure how to word what I mean right, I’m sure I’ll make some people mad.  While the issue of safety is stressed (numerous times, which I an NOT complaining about), I get the vibe that it is more of an internet issue to worry about. I would’ve liked to see convention trolling/harassment covered better.  I don’t cosplay, but I have friends who do.  One was stuck in an elevator with a drunk man who made inappropriate comments, and made her feel unsafe getting off in her floor in case he followed her.  Another one got harassed and groped when she had a low-cut outfit on.   These things happen, and, sadly, most times Con security have other things to worry about verses some harassment.  It’s not ok, but anyone planning on cosplay should be aware this happens and there might not be any repercussions.

The only other issue I had is a small one.  In the beginning when she discusses the different types of fan girls, she has a ‘key accessories’ listing.  I am many of these fans, and don’t have any of the listed items.  And while it is not said,  but I feel implied, that to be a fan you should have these items or something like them.  Not a big deal, but something that has bugged me.

3.5 stars.

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Jackaby By William Ritter

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Jackaby is a supernatural twist on Sherlock Holmes for YA readers. The whirlwind action surrounding the killings takes on an almost realistic tone when told for the view of Abigail Rook. Newly to the US, she becomes Jackaby’s assistant (not really by his choice) and we get the unique perception of someone who is being influenced by the supernatural world, yet is blind to it. Jackaby CAN see and interact with it, causing much confusion to the people around him. This is great for the story and character development.

Abigail Rook is a ‘normal’ girl with no gifts other than being normal. Something Jackaby seems intrigued by. She is the character with the most development; going from a skeptic to a believer and willing to place her life in Jackaby’s hands. Even saying this, she’s not a gullible/complete believer. Proof is still needed in someway or another.

R. F. Jackaby is the main detective. He is a seer, someone who can see the supernatural world. While compared even by Abigail to Sherlock Holmes, he is not as great of a mind, nor does he notice as much mundane things. But he is good at what he does, even if at times he forgets to take into consideration others around him.

The supporting characters come in all shapes, sizes, and species. They help to create the scenery and push Abigail into becoming the strong character she is at the end. While the book is titled Jackaby, it is more about Abigail and how her association with Jackaby changes from the student who ran to the states to avoid facing her parents to the woman she is at the end.

I think the culprit was fair obvious, but that in no way took away from my enjoyment of this book. I HIGHLY recommend this book to mystery lovers who don’t mind a the dash of fairy for added spice. 5 Stars.

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ARC: Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

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I received a copy of this book to review from the publisher. This in no way affected/influenced my rating and review.

Rebel Queen is a fictional account of Queen Lakshmi and her fight for India told by one of her inner circle guards, Sita. At least, that’s what the condensed version of the book’s description leads you to believe.  Instead, most of the book is about Sita’s life as one of the rani’s and her problems with the politics that come with it.  Lakshmi is a minor character, and very little of her is seen.

Sita (after loosing her mother in childbirth) starts training to become a Durgavasi; one of the female warriors that protects the rani, the Indian queen.  Hoping to be chosen so she can provide a dowry for her sister, she suffers at a time when it is almost unheard of for a woman to use weapons.  I liked Sita.  She’s not perfect; even while being petty, you can tell she has a good heart.

Through Sita’s eyes, we get a tantalizing view of Indian culture during the East India Company’s boom and influence on her country.  This was the part of the story that fascinated me.  The practice of purdah and the seclusion of men from women; the dowry practices and implications that has on your caste.  These are cultural side-notes that might not be well known, and are interesting .  Also, the British’s blatant disregard of the local customs and the fall out from them that help spur the war is another interesting fact I didn’t know.

When it comes the the actual fighting, Ms. Moran pulls no punches.  Atrocities are committed by both sides, and while the British are viscous, the Indians were as bad if not worse.  I felt sick after reading some of the POW treatment and the way the civilians on both sides were treated.

The Rebel Queen is a story more about Sita than her Queen.  If you are coming into this book expecting an account of Queen Lakshmi’s life and battles, you will be somewhat disappointed (like me).  You do get glimpses of her life early on; towards the end of the book where Sita interacts with her more you get a better idea of her as a queen and her love of peace.

I give this book 3 stars.  It was a good book, but I had no problem putting it down for long stretches at a time.  Also, I was expecting Queen Lakshmi to have more of a presence.  I would recommend with warnings.

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