Firespell (Dark Elite #1) by Chloe Neill
Lily Parker’s academic parents are on a two-year sabbatical in Germany and instead of taking her with them or letting her live with friends, they’ve moved her from NY to Chicago and enrolled her in a very exclusive girls’ school. There she finds out that magic is real, that most of the people who use it are evil, and, oh, for some reason those evil folks have their eye on her, too. If I were Lily I’d be hiding under my bed. But Lily’s the loyal kind. And the stubborn kind. So she follows her new friends right into the heart of the battle.
Hexbound (Dark Elite #1) by Chloe Neill
Lily’s living in a world of secrets. Some she’s keeping, some she’s trying to find out. And it’s likely all of them have something to do with the Dark Elite and the world of magic Lily was drawn into. Just what are her parents doing in Germany? What’s Sebastian up to? And just how does she get firespell to work, anyway?!
Charmfall (Dark Elite #1) by Chloe Neill
As Lily says, charmfail. Everyone’s powers are failing. First they think it’s a plot, something the Dark Elite has done. Then Lily finds out that the Dark Elite is powerless, too. There’s talk of some new leader and before it’s too late Lily and her friends need to find out who that leader is and get their powers back. In the meantime, Lily’s on the planning committee for the big dance and she needs a dress and a date asap, and she needs to set up a meeting between the school’s head mean girl and a vampire. What’s a St. Sophia’s girl to do?
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1) by Gail Carriger
This was right up my alley in that I love stories about boarding schools that aren’t at all what they seem. Carriger’s penchant for silly names (Mrs. Barnaclegoose) fits perfectly in a book about a young girls’ finishing school (where one learns to finish anything that needs finishing) located on a maze of decks hanging beneath three dirigibles. If I were the kind of person to refer to a story as a romp this would be that story.
Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts
This collection of loosely linked short stories is fantastic. It starts with Julia Agrippina recording a history of her family, and, most importantly and specifically, of the Julias in her family. Each story follows another Julia throughout history, and where Julias go monsters follow.
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
I loved the idea behind this story. It’s constant online connection taken to its extreme form showing just how clear the divide between the haves and have-nots is. In a utopian society, everyone would have free and easy access to the internet. In this society, access is determined by your social class and your social class, in turn, determines your access. People working for the corporations stay in their corporate areas with their high-tech gadgets and are well insulated from the problems the rest of their society faces. The middle-class have–and need-their phones for everything from communication to purchases to access to different societal spaces (and that access is limited when compared to that of the corporate class). And people without phones are the lowest of the low, unable to even access certain physical spaces. Throw in branding, activism, terrorism, and some corporate headhunting that might end in death and you’ve got Moxyland.
I read this book ages ago and should have recommended it then because it’s my favorite of Buroker’s books. In Encrypted, Professor Tikaya Komitopis spent the war using her skills to decode enemy missives. So when she’s kidpnapped from her family home she’s terrified she’ll be killed. Her only ally is another prisoner, one as academic as her and with as big a secret. Along with their captors (and an assassin familiar to reader’s of Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge series, if twenty years younger) Tikaya and Rias understand the puzzling technology left by an ancient race and work to keep it out of the wrong hands. Tikaya is a great protagonist, smart, practical, not at all afraid to get her hands dirty.
In the novella, Enigma, Tikaya and Rias are on their way to her home so he can meet her family. That should be trouble enough for them, but, naturally, the second they board a ship they’re in trouble again. Tikaya’s skills as an archeologist and Rias’ skills as just about everything else keep them safe and in the end they make what I hope will be a valuable ally in future stories. It’s filler, but it’s entertaining filler, and it’s a good thing to read prior to Decryption so you understand just what’s going through their minds as they arrive.
Really, they should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. In Decrypted there’s no reason Rias–aka Federias Starcrest, the enemy Tikaya’s people blame for the harm they suffered during the war–would be welcome on her home island. But they, or at least Tikaya, thought Rias’ skills and her assurances of his loyalties would be enough. What they didn’t and couldn’t expect was that secrets dating back to the founding of her island nation would be their biggest problem.
I read Bloodlines when it was first released because I’m a fan of the Vampire Academy books and because I was intrigued by the Alchemists. Bloodlines suffers in contrast to the Vampire Academy books. So much so that I had to make a distinct effort to separate them in my mind while reading. That being said, I liked Sydney well enough to keep reading. Watching her change from the Sydney we first met, the “perfect” Alchemist, to someone who questions the beliefs she’s been taught is fascinating.
The Golden Lily is by far the weakest book in the series, in my opinion. I enjoy Sydney questioning her beliefs, but this book is Sydney running in circles and chasing her tail over all the things she doesn’t understand. We get it, she’s socially awkward, but enough’s enough when she constantly misses things that are happening right under her nose. It’s gone from adorable quirk to annoying one-dimensional character trait. I also find Sydney’s independent study with Ms. Terwilliger to be disturbing because from Sydney’s point of view she’s being coerced into doing something that goes against her beliefs. As readers we know these are Alchemist beliefs that have also been forced onto her, but since Sydney doesn’t know that it’s disturbing to read her discomfort. [Also: A HUGE eating disorder trigger warning for this book.]
In The Indigo Spell this series finally comes into its own. Funny that it does it by moving its main plot far, far away from Alchemists, Moroi, and Strigoi. The main plot has to do with witches, actually one particular witch who through a convoluted plot hole would be targeting Sydney. Sydney and Ms. Terwilliger go on the offense and this time Sydney participates fully, working out her human magic user issues on her own and therefore feeling much less forced into anything. Sydney also seems to be coming into herself, acknowledging who her friends really are and showing them who she really is. [As usual, trigger warning for eating disorders]
- Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead (mastermindtta.wordpress.com)
- Bloodlines: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (isoulereviews.wordpress.com)
- Review: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) – Richelle Mead (unconventionalbookviews.com)
- Kindle Romance Daily Deal! Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (@RichelleMead) for $2.99! (randomizeme.net)
- Review: “The Golden Lily” by Richelle Mead (knitewrites.wordpress.com)
What did you just finish?
The Obsidian and Blood trilogy by Aliette de Bodard (Servant of the Underworld, Harbinger of the Storm, Master of the House of Darts & the Obsidian & Blood universe short stories available to read free via her website) & de Bodard’s Xuya universe short stories, available to read free via her website. The thing about Aliette de Bodard is she is an excellent world-builder. Just excellent.
Her O&B universe is rich and full, a universe where the gods and magics of the Mexica truly exist. Acatl, High Priest of the Lord of Death, is the closest thing to a forensic scientist this world has and so often the one tasked with investigating mysteries. Acatl never wanted to be High Priest in Tenochtitlan, never wanted to have any political responsibility. But it seems his fellow high priests, his Revered Speaker, and even his gods want otherwise. Though Acatl always remains the main character, there are many characters around him, large and small, who make Tenochtitlan live. If you want a peek at Acatl, check out the free short story “Obsidian Shards.”
The Xuya universe is one where China discovered the Americas before Europe, and the Xuya stories take place at various points throughout the history. Some of my favorites were “The Jaguar House, In Shadow” which makes you think very hard about the nature of sacrifice and what you would do for your friends, and “The Shipmaker” and “Shipbirth,” about the Xuya and Mexica mind ships.
Scattered Among Strange Worlds by Aliette de Bodard contains two short stories “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” and “The Exodus.” Both are about cultural values, one about revolutions and what happens after, and the other about a diaspora and the generations after the tragedy that caused it. “The Exodus” is also about merpeople and a longing to return to the sea.
The Witch Sea by Sarah Diemer. This is free right now in Kindle format and I urge you to pick it up. I read it back to back with Scattered Among Strange Worlds and it fit as if they were meant to be read together. Once, long ago, there was a battle, where one human with great will and magic was able to hold back the evil sea creature who would destroy all humanity. She passed her legacy down to her daughter and granddaughter, and just as the sea creature kept on so did they. Until Nor came to the witch Meriel’s island and they fell in love and Meriel learned that sometimes the old stories are just that, stories.
What are you currently reading?
What will you be reading next?
The answer to both questions is Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles.
You’re in the place between sleeping and waking. Everything is peaceful. You’re drifting. You come closer and closer to consciousness. As you do, you feel a twinge. A stab here, an ache there. Your head, your hands. Your abdomen, your back. Your legs, your arms. It all starts to come back, all the pain that sleep, for once, let you forget.
Before you’re fully awake, you’re reaching for your pain meds and wishing that one day it would be better. But it never is.
What did you just finish?
Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer. About half of us have toxoplasmosis. That was my takeaway from this book. Also, totally cool the way parasites can control hosts. But, still, toxoplasmosis.
A Scholar of Magics by Caroline Stevermer. It was good but it didn’t capture me the way the first book–A College of Magics–did. This book takes us, and Jane, to Glasscastle, where Jane naturally gets involved in something big. It was a fun book, with banter and danger and Jane being Jane and I very much enjoyed it. I wasn’t prepared to have a male character take center stage but I liked Samuel, I liked seeing Jane, Glasscastle, and England through his American “cowboy” eyes.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockinjay. If you haven’t read these yet, I notice they are $5, $5.99, and $5.99, respectively, in Kindle format (follow my link). I know, I’m late. I know, you all told me. At least I didn’t watch the movie until I finished the books, okay? I fell into these books and read them starting Thursday night and finishing Saturday night. And by night I mean early Sunday morning because bedtime isn’t until the book is finished.
I adore Katniss. I was going to anyway because she’s an archer and if you know me you know I love an archer. But I love her temperament, I love how she says and does things without thinking when she’s angry. I love that she had to grow up early and hard and I absolutely love that she was able to maintain some sort of innocence through all that. I most especially love that when she’s made into a symbol she makes that work for her and does the right–and difficult–things.
One thing that surprised me is that I came out of these books being very fond of Haymitch. And of the relationship he has with Katniss and Peeta. It’s hard to comprehend what he went through, and the cruelty of having victors be mentors for ever after is terrible.
Okay, talk to me of spoilers in the comments.
What are you currently reading?
This catches me at that rare time between books. I am dabbling a bit, reading a chapter here and there of Chicks Dig Comics because I totally do! Reading this is making me want to read more comics.
What will you be reading next?
I’m not sure. I think I’ll be reading books 2 and 3 of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series. I liked the first book, but they’re no Vampire Academies.