“Shattered Blue” Lauren Bird Horowitz

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. The Light Trilogy, #1. Skyscape. To be published September 15, 2015.

ShatteredBlueI received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Noa has been struggling to hold herself together after the death of her sister Isla; her only joy her little sister Sasha and writing poetry. Her dark days take on a little cheer when transfer student Callum shows up at Harlow Academy, and they seem to have an instant connection. Though Callum is a fae who has been banished from his world, and can only live through Light emitted by mortals that drains them of happiness, they fall madly in love.

This love is tested when Judah, Callum’s brother, comes into their world. Judah is brash and fierce, contrasted with Callum’s calmness and quietness of strength, yet Noa finds herself drawn to both of them. When a Hunter from their world captures Callum he sets into motion a chain of events, which will change all of their lives forever.

“Shattered Blue” continues the worn out storyline of love triangles between one girl and two guys, making me want to cry out “ANOTHER triangle?!” I also had some questions and concerns for the author, but don’t want to give spoilers in this section of the review. However, if you don’t mind spoilers, keep scrolling down to read my questions.

Despite the love triangle and a few issues mentioned in the spoiler section, the book was rather interesting and caused me to become invested in the characters. Their search to right the wrongs brought on by lies and deception ended in a huge cliffhanger ending, which sets the stage for part two of the trilogy.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I am confused, and have many questions for the author. How did Judah’s missing ring get into Miles’ pocket when he wasn’t even in the same room as Fabian and Judah when they were fighting over it? What took Olivia and Miles so long to catch up to Judah and Noa when it seemed as if they would be hot on their trail when they saw them disappearing into the woods?

Lastly I want to go on record that I thought Callum’s explanation of what happened to Lily was too complicated to be believable, and was rather strange. Sasha wasn’t adopted, so I don’t know how his explanation fit into a pregnancy, as it didn’t make any sense from a practical point of view. I know it’s a fantasy and readers have to suspend disbelief, but this was rather hard to swallow.

“The Boy” Madhuri Blaylock

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. 2014. The Sanctum, book #2. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Publishing.)

TheBoyWith Wyatt dead from their portal travel to the land of the Ramyan, Dev becomes beholden to Qi to do all he can to return Wyatt to the land of the living. However, Dev doesn’t know that bringing Wyatt back from the dead will have unforeseen consequences which will cause both of them to question everything they hold dear.

In the meantime, while Dev and Wyatt fight their own battles, Ryker’s character is explored in more detail. After coming across as gentle, loving and kind it is a shock to learn he has been secretly killing Magicals. As readers struggle with Ryker’s behavior, Ava and Max Breslin continue scheming to bring down the Clayworths as Head of the New York Academy. Lastly Darby’s heart and various loves are explored in great detail.

I received “The Boy” as part of a promised book review for the Diverse Book Tours blog. I found it to be more blood thirsty and violent as well as more sexual in nature than book one. In addition I was left with a few unanswered questions such as “How did Darby figure out what Jedda was doing when all she had as a clue was her lover’s cryptic words?” and “How did Jools get close enough to Jedda to raise blood on his neck when, previously, Darby was furiously keeping everyone away from him with a very well aimed whip?” With the protective behavior she had been exhibiting, it felt inconsistent to have Jools be allowed to approach Jedda with knife in hand and not have Darby say or do anything about it.

I was able to look past some of the self published author’s usual spelling errors (such as writing “taught” for “taut,” and other errors) because the book had an interesting plot line. I would be interested in reading part three “The Prophecy,” so I could see what finally happens to the evil Breslins as well as to Dev, Wyatt, the Ramyan warriors and the rest of The Sanctum.

Recommended for ages 16 and older.

“The Girl” Madhuri Blaylock

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. (Also available in paperback). 2014. The Sanctum, book #1. Lucy Publishing (Amazon Digital Services.)

TheGirlDev is half demon and half angel, and has been living in India while training to be a warrior. For years her parents have been in hiding from The Sanctum, a group of families called The Circle of Ten, who believe Dev will destroy their way of life. They have ordered Dev be killed on sight and, when they succeed in killing her family, Dev vows revenge on all Sanctum.

The Clayworth family is in charge of The Sanctum’s New York Academy where Wyatt, his sister Jools and his best friend Ryker learned their warrior skills. Wyatt and Ryker hold opposing views of the role The Sanctum plays in their lives. The gods created The Sanctum to protect humans and magicals (trolls, vampires, fairies, etc.), yet their original purpose is long gone because of one founding family’s lust for greed and power. Despite Wyatt’s and Ryker’s differences of opinion in what The Sanctum means to each other and to society, they are inseparable in their love and friendship for each other.

When Wyatt stumbles upon Dev after she escaped The Sanctum’s attack, their lives are forever changed. Little do they know the love they feel for each other, and the invisible bond that ties them together, will lead them onto paths neither had ever expected to travel. It is only a matter of time until they change the lives of all they hold dear.

I received this book to review from the Diverse Book Tours blog, and was a little leery since it was self-published. Readers of my blog know how squeamish I get around self-published books. However I am happy to report there were relatively few grammatical errors and, despite having many similarities to Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series, the storyline was very interesting. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next to Dev and Wyatt, as their star crossed lives seemed destined for heartache from the beginning.

In addition “The Girl” developed strong female characters through the persons of Dev, Jools and the vampire Darby showing them as well trained fighters who remained one hundred percent female and were not dependent on a man to complete their lives.

I was not happy with the title of the book, as Dev is not a girl. She is a strong, independent woman and I wanted a title which reflected that image. I also didn’t like the cover, as I would have preferred to see a photo of Dev, Jools and Darby in action ready to show readers all that a woman can be. I look forward to reading part 2 of the series “The Boy.” 

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Manroot” Anne Steinberg

Rated 1 star * ebook. 2014. Amazon Digital Services* (see note below)

ManrootIn the year 1939 Katherine and her father Jesse, who had been traveling the country seeking work, found themselves in the sleepy town of Castlewood alongside the Meramec River in Missouri. There they were taken in by Freda, the head cook of a local hotel, where Katherine soon found herself alone when Jesse decided to set off for greener pastures without her.

Katherine enjoyed working as a maid and became adept at discovering the healing properties of native plants and herbs, a skill inherited from her Navajo mother. Despite many superstitious tendencies regarding the river, animals and nature, Katherine thrived in her new environment. She was content until a barrage of emotions towards Judge William Reardon, a married man who frequented the hotel and local whorehouses, was unleashed. A strange magical quality seemed to exist between them, and their love for each other knew no bounds. Throughout their affair, Katherine felt a strange sense of foreboding but not even she could predict the future and how they would come to be inextricably bound in a web of love, deceit, hatred and fear.

I found “Manroot” at times to be rambling, forcing the reader to endure more information than was necessary as the author jumped from thought to thought. I didn’t quite get the significance of searching for, and finding, manroot nor why finding one that looked like a man seemed to be significant. In later chapters (even up until they grew up) the children we meet later in the book joined her in this search but the reasoning for it still escaped me.

In addition, Steinberg used stereotypical terms when she described Katherine as being “slender and agile” with “small breasts set high on her torso” then went on to say this was “unlike the soft cow-like appearance of many mature Navajo women.” I found this to be very insulting to Navajo women. Towards the end of the book one of the characters admitted to feeling shame because of how she’d thought Katherine was ignorant, when in fact she was quite intelligent, but this early statement by the author about Navajo women still gnawed at me.

She later went on to use the word “gypped” to describe someone being cheated out of something, an insult towards Gypsies, and I found both prejudicial examples to be quite distasteful. In addition her excessive use of exclamation points was very distracting. I lost track of how many she used in just the first chapter, all of which showed Steinberg could have used a good editor.

At times I did find myself wondering about Katherine’s children and how the future would play out for them but, overall, I didn’t like “Manroot.” However I will leave it up to you to decide if You Want to Read it or Not.

*NOTE: Though the author commented on another site that the book was not self published and was edited by the Publisher Headline Review in London, England, I still thought it needed editing.

“Dangerous Creatures” Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Rated 5 stars ***** 2014. Dangerous Creatures, book #1. Little, Brown & Company (Hatchett Book Group). 327 pp. 

DangerousCreaturesLena, Ethan, and Link are finished with high school and ready to move on with their lives. While Lena and Ethan are planning to go to college, Liv and John are heading to Oxford. Ridley and Link’s on again off again romance is off because Link dared to say he loved her. Unable to tell him her true feelings, Ridley leaves Gatlin for New York where she loses at a high stakes gambling game and is bound to Lennox Gates, a dark Caster, for two house markers. One marker requires she provide his band with a drummer, which means making up with Link and tricking him into going to New York. The other marker she will owe him remains mysteriously unknown but Nox promises she will owe him big-time, and will be a year in his debt.

Afraid of the power Lennox now holds over her, and afraid for Link, Ridley is at Nox’s mercy. Unable to understand the strange attraction she has for Lennox, Ridley doesn’t know even darker forces have Nox in its grip. Unfortunately, those forces will stop at nothing to get her and Link to join Nox in a dark future of its choosing.

Once again Garcia & Stohl have mesmerized readers with this new, exciting series featuring Ridley, Link and the Caster world. The huge cliffhanger ending will leave everyone excitedly awaiting book #2. 

PS – Be sure to read the e-novella “Dangerous Dream” before you read “Dangerous Creatures” to have a better understanding of Ridley’s gambling losses and to learn more about how she and Lennox met.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Clockwork Princess” Cassandra Clare

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. The Infernal Devices, book #3. Margaret K. McElderry Books.

ClockworkPrincessIt is with mixed feelings I write about the last book in “The Infernal Devices” series. I deliberately set out to reread the series after rereading “The Mortal Instruments.” In the latter I was severely disappointed, but with the former hope has sprung anew that Clare can write a great series without dragging it on ad nauseam as she did with “The Mortal Instruments.” Without spoiling the plot revealed in “Clockwork Princess,” I would like to advise readers to have a box of tissues ready while reading, as they’ll be needed. Now, on with my review.

Tessa is preparing to marry Jem, leaving Will’s heart broken into a million pieces, while Mortmain continues his bloodthirsty path of vengeance against all Shadowhunters.

The Consul is not happy with Charlotte, and has enlisted the help of spies to rid her as Head of the London Institute. Despite the clues she finds pointing to Mortmain’s whereabouts, he refuses to send her aid leaving them all at Mortmain’s mercy.

Meanwhile Mortmain has bought up the entire supply of yin fen needed to keep Jem alive, leaving him to die, and kidnapping Tessa. She holds the key to his plans, and he will stop at nothing to get it from her.

As Jem lies dying his final wish is for Will to find Tessa, so Will rushes off to Wales to rescue her. Despite knowing all this, the Consul will not be moved leaving Charlotte to make a decision that may cause all the Shadowhunters left in her care to die.

Clare leads her readers on another wild adventure through the streets of London and Wales as the Shadowhunters seek Mortmain and his army of evil automatons. Betrayal, tears, loss, sadness and death along with laughter, love and happiness are all bound into the pages of this final book of the series as it reaches its satisfying conclusion.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Clockwork Angel” Cassandra Clare

Rated 4 stars **** 2010. The Infernal Devices, book #1. Margaret K. McElderry Books.

ClockworkAngelOrphaned Tessa, all alone in New York in 1878 when her aunt died, jumped at the chance to join her brother Nate in London. After arriving she was taken in by the Dark Sisters, and imprisoned in their home. With no place to go, and Nate’s whereabouts unknown, Tessa was at their mercy. Forced into exploring her “gift,” Tessa learned that when it was perfected she would be given in marriage to the Dark Sisters boss, the Magister.

Meanwhile, Shadowhunters Will Herondale and James Carstairs began an investigation into a series of mundane murders, which led Will to discover Tessa in her prison. Sent to live at the London Institute, Tessa, Will and Jem are soon involved in the mysterious Pandemonium Club in their quest to find the Magister. With an army of clockwork automatons out to kill all Shadowhunters and kidnap Tessa, the Shadowhunters have their work cut out for them.

I read this series several years ago, and decided to give it another whirl. It was as enjoyable as the first time, and will also be enjoyed by old and new fans of Clare.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.