Book Review: The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson

Book Review: The Art of Language Invention by David J. PetersonThe Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson
Published by Penguin on September 29, 2015
Genres: Non Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
An insider’s tour through the construction of invented languages from the bestselling author and creator of languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Syfy series Defiance.

From master language creator David J. Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers. Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation, covering its history from Tolkien’s creations and Klingon to today’s thriving global community of conlangers. He provides the essential tools necessary for inventing and evolving new languages, using examples from a variety of languages including his own creations, punctuated with references to everything from Star Wars to Michael Jackson. Along the way, behind-the-scenes stories lift the curtain on how he built languages like Dothraki for HBO’s Game of Thrones and Shiväisith for Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, and an included phrasebook will start fans speaking Peterson’s constructed languages. The Art of Language Invention is an inside look at a fascinating culture and an engaging entry into a flourishing art form—and it might be the most fun you’ll ever have with linguistics.

Book Review:

THE ART OF LANGUAGE INVENTION is a thorough, funny introduction to the basics of creating a language. Apparently, making a new language involves a lot more than making a word list or alphabet. Who knew?

I tend to geek out over learning how things are done, and I learned a lot reading this book. I swear I learned something on every page. The author gives information on a ton of topics, such as the different types of oral sounds, how grammar plays a role, and even a quick primer on font creation. There’s also sections on how language evolves in different ways and why that’s important, morphology, and thinking about how aliens might speak. I had no idea just how much work and creativity goes into language creation, nor did I know that there are communities of people who create languages for fun.

THE ART OF LANGUAGE INVENTION really could be a textbook. It is a bit dense at times, but I’m just a layperson, not a linguist or beginning conlager. To keep things from getting too dense, the author includes case studies on how he created languages for shows such as Game of Thrones and Defiance. I could see those sections being super interesting for fans of those shows, since it really was cool to see how he evolved Dothraki from a few words in the books to a real language. Lastly, the author has a humorous writing style, and he uses jokes and pop culture references to make his examples easy to understand.

I’d recommend THE ART OF LANGUAGE INVENTION for fans who want to know more about Dothraki, Castithan, Irathient, or any of the other languages created by the author; people who want to dip their toes into creating a new language; or even sci-fi/fantasy writers, because just thinking about how a language might evolve could help with worldbuilding.

Giveaway:

Thanks to the generosity of Penguin, I’m offering a copy of this book for giveaway! US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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David J. Peterson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily Holleman

Book Review: Cleopatra’s Shadows by Emily HollemanCleopatra's Shadows by Emily Holleman
Published by Little Brown and Company on October 6, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Page-turning historical fiction that reimagines the beginnings of Cleopatra's epic saga through the eyes of her younger sister.

Before Caesar and the carpet, before Antony and Actium, before Octavian and the asp, there was Arsinoe.

Abandoned by her beloved Cleopatra and an indifferent father, young Arsinoe must fight for her survival in the bloodthirsty royal court when her half-sister Berenice seizes Egypt's throne. Even as the quick-witted girl wins Berenice's favor, a new specter haunts her days-dark dreams that have a habit of coming true.

To survive, she escapes the palace for the war-torn streets of Alexandria. Meanwhile, Berenice confronts her own demons as she fights to maintain power. When their deposed father Ptolemy marches on the city with a Roman army, both daughters must decide where their allegiances truly lie, and Arsinoe grapples with the truth, that the only way to survive her dynasty is to rule it.

Book Review:

I wanted to like CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS more than I did, because I thought the idea was a great one. The author intended to reimagine the beginning of Cleopatra’s saga by telling the story through her younger sister Arsinoe. Cleopatra barely appears this book, which I was more than okay with, as I tend to like historical fiction that centers on lesser known figures. Arsinoe, and Cleopatra’s older sister, Berenice, are both footnotes in history because of their more famous sibling, but both had important lives of their own.

CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS alternates chapters between Arsinoe and Berenice. Berenice takes the throne when King Ptolemy sails to Rome for aid. Arsinoe is left behind in the palace by her father and mother, a lost child. Berenice struggles to hold the throne, to find enough men to fight for her, and to deal with her vengeance hungry mother. Arsinoe longs for Cleopatra, in the way younger sisters long for older sisters, but must beg Berenice for her life.

I think my biggest problem with CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS is that … it just wasn’t very interesting. It wasn’t riveting or page-turning. It didn’t keep my attention. There were portions that were good, such as Berenice debating between her mother’s lust for vengeance against Ptolemy’s other daughters or mercy for Arsinoe. Berenice was much more interesting for me than Arsinoe, but even so, many of her chapters plodded along. Arsinoe’s chapters were even more boring — even though her life was in danger, I never felt like she would die, and I got tired of the many tutoring lessons. Other readers might find the inclusion of Roman histories and tragedies interesting, but I eventually had enough of being lectured. I also had a lot of unanswered questions, such as why Ganymedes left Arsinoe in the market. Based on the bonus material at the end of the book, I have a feeling CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS is the first in a series, so perhaps my questions will be answered in future books.

I’m a character-driven reader, and unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with either Berenice or Arsinoe. I didn’t like or hate either one of them. My feelings towards both, and the secondary characters, were very blah. The author didn’t bring them to life enough for me to care about what they did or what happened to them, and an hour after finishing CLEOPATRA’S SHADOWS, I’ve already forgotten a fair bit of the book.

Socialize with the author:

Emily Holleman:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Book Review: Vengeance Road by Erin BowmanVengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Western, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

Book Review:

VENGEANCE ROAD is a book that grabbed me from the second sentence and never let go. I read this book straight through, and I feel like I followed Kate every step of the way on her quest for vengeance.

I’ve never really liked Westerns as a genre (books or movies), but I do like the time period. And even before I started the book, I thought Kate sounded like a great character. A girl who disguises herself as a boy to get justice for her murdered father? Yeah, that’s right up my alley. So I took a chance with VENGEANCE ROAD, and boy am I happy I did. If you’re a little hesitant on the Western part, don’t be. If you like books about vengeance, with murder and shoot outs and a strong, strong main character, don’t pass this book up.

Kate is the real gem in this book. I adored her from the start. When she finds her father hanging from a mesquite tree and their home burned, she doesn’t sit back and cry. Well, she does, but only for a minute, and then she’s off to get revenge, Colt and Winchester in hand. Kate’s Pa raised her to be strong, to fend for herself, and she uses that strength to keep herself together even when she finds out secrets about her family. Kate’s prickly, loyal, and determined. Even when she gets herself in over her head or rushes into danger, she owns up to it. I also liked that Kate grew throughout the book, and by the end, really thought about what vengeance meant and what it was worth.

I just loved Kate’s voice. I mean, I’d think just like her if I was after someone who’d killed my father:

“See you in hell, mister.”

And that’s where I’m going, sure as the sun will rise, ‘cus I feel nothing. No remorse. No guilt. Not even a sliver of doubt. He deserved it, and I’d do it again. I’d do it over and over, and I wonder if something’s wrong with me.” (p. 10)

Kate’s Pa was great, too! We only see him in a few flashbacks and Kate’s memories, but he sounded like a great dad. Even though he kept secrets from her, he taught her how to defend herself and how to be a good person. I could easily see why Kate would want to punish his murderers.

The only thing I had a little trouble with in VENGEANCE ROAD was the thread with Kate’s mother. I can’t say why without spoiling things, but it was a bit over the top for me. But otherwise, I really enjoyed VENGEANCE ROAD, and I hope the author writes another Western YA, because she knocked this one off the trail.

Socialize with the author:

Erin Bowman:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae CarsonWalk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 22, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

Book Review:

WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is the first in Rae Carson’s new Gold Seer trilogy, a YA series set during the California Gold Rush. While the main character can sense gold, which gives the book a touch of fantasy, this first installment is mostly historical fiction as Lee travels from Georgia to California in a wagon train.

I don’t know about you, but I liked playing The Oregon Trail game as a kid, and this book really did feel like the game come to life. But with a great cast of characters, especially Lee. I really liked Leah. She’s devoted to her family, helping them work their claim and use her special ability to make things a little easier. But when her parents are murdered, and her only living relative turns out to be a slimy man who wants her gold divining ability for himself, Lee takes her life into her own hands. Disguising herself as a boy, she manages to survive plenty of dangerous situations before even setting foot on the trail. When she makes mistakes, she learns from them. And though she’s afraid Hiram might find her, she relentlessly keeps going in an effort to have independence and use her ability for herself.

WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER spends a lot of time on the trail to California. I really got the feel of how difficult and dangerous such a journey was, and all the various hardships one could face. I think the author did a fantastic job of setting the scene, making me feel like I was on the trail. Rae Carson also showed the attitudes of that day, such as racism towards Native Americans and African Americans, and contrasted them with modern views. I also liked how Lee thinks about family, if it’s possible to pick your own. I like the idea of having a new family based on shared experiences and bonding, and not being forced into staying with bad blood.

I did expect a bit more fantasy in WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER, mainly because of Lee’s gold sensing ability. Lee doesn’t question her talent or wonder where it comes from. I wanted to know more about it, but I suppose that’s coming in the next books. There are also a couple of hard-to-believe events, such as Lee finding two people from home in the space of weeks in Independence. Looking back, the pacing of WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is also a bit slow, with so much time spent on the trail and Lee’s difficult journey. I’m guessing the purpose of the book is to forge Lee into an even stronger woman, one ready to face off with her uncle.

Overall, I’d recommend WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER if you’re looking for a great YA historical with just a touch of fantasy. I really can’t wait to see what’s next for Lee and the others.

Socialize with the author:

Rae Carson:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory by Barbara Ann Wright

Book Review: Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory by Barbara Ann WrightThrall: Beyond Gold and Glory by Barbara Ann Wright
Published by Bold Strokes Books on September 15, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Like heroes from an ancient tale, Aesa and Maeve plan to raid foreign shores, claiming gold and glory for their homeland. Young and in love, neither considers what will happen if one is chosen to be a warrior and the other is left behind.

On a mist-shrouded island, Aesa meets Ell, a woman enslaved by an insidious curse. Maeve walks the path of dark magic and finds Laret, a woman well acquainted with pain. Together, they must break the magic surrounding Ell, an act that will force them to choose between their dreams, their homes, and the women they love.

Book Review:

THRALL: BEYOND GOLD AND GLORY is a standalone LGBT fantasy set in a Viking-esque world. I was drawn to this book for two reasons: strong female characters and Vikings. I mean, lesbian warriors and witches? Gimme!

In some aspects, THRALL is a fantastic book. In Aesa and Maeve’s country, there’s no judgment for liking who you like. A woman who likes women? Great. A guy who likes guys? Great. Do you want a polyamorous relationship? That’s great, too. Are you the partner of a warrior away on a raid? If there’s an agreement, there’s nothing wrong with you seeking a bed partner.

I don’t want to make it sound like THRALL is all about sex, because it isn’t. Those things are mostly mentioned in passing, which is both good and bad. Good because it’s just a part of Aesa and Maeve’s society, and there’s no need to comment. It’s just how life is. Bad because I’m a greedy reader, and I would’ve liked to see more of all the different relationships in the author’s Viking world.

Aside from Aesa and Maeve, who are both strong women who want to do what’s right, there’s another great character in THRALL. Laret is the first transgender woman I’ve read in fantasy, and she stole the book for me. I think she was good representation, and also because her magic was the most interesting to me. Laret’s a blood witch, but instead of cursing people, she breaks the curses of other blood witches.

THRALL also has an interesting take on fae, and I enjoyed puzzling out that mystery. But otherwise, the book lacked a bit for me. Maybe because THRALL is a standalone — I really wanted to learn more about the author’s version of Vikings, to see more of their magic system and culture beyond raiding. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think I just wanted more overall. More magic, more worldbuilding, more character and relationship development, more action.

I think if THRALL were the first in a series, I’d be more lenient, because that “more” would come in other books. But then again, a standalone is always nice… I don’t know. I just went in with high expectations, and while I really liked some parts, other parts didn’t live up to those expectations.

Socialize with the author:

Barbara Ann Wright:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne

Book Review: The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma TrevayneThe Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on July 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Grave robbing is a messy business. A bad business.

And for Thomas Marsden, on what was an unremarkable spring night in London, it becomes a very spooky business. For lying in an unmarked grave and half covered with dirt is a boy the spitting image of Thomas himself.

This is only the first clue that something very strange is happening. Others follow, but it is a fortune teller’s frightened screams that lead Thomas into a strange world of spiritualists, death and faery folk.

Faery folk with whom Thomas’s life is bizarrely linked. Faery folk who need his help.

Desperate to unearth the truth about himself and where he comes from, Thomas is about to discover magic, and ritual, and that sometimes, just sometimes, the things that make a boy ordinary are what make him extraordinary.

Book Review:

The cover for THE ACCIDENTAL AFTERLIFE OF THOMAS MARSDEN is what first drew my attention to the book. It’s got the right touch of spooky whimsy that made me curious about Thomas without being too scary for the intended age.

Thomas is a grave robber, but it’s never scared him until the night he finds a boy who could be his identical twin in a grave. A note in the boy’s hand identifies him as Thistle; there are also theater tickets for a spiritualist’s performance. The note and tickets send Thomas on a meandering journey to discover the truth about who he is, and then on a quest to save a group of faeries in London.

What I liked most about THE ACCIDENTAL AFTERLIFE OF THOMAS MARSDEN was the author’s unique take on changelings. I won’t spoil it for you, but I haven’t seen changelings done that way before, and I’ve read a fair amount of faery books. I also liked the idea that faeries could talk to the dead.

Otherwise, I thought the book was a bit slow-paced and confusing at times for middle grade. There were a few times I wondered why this or that was included, and the ending left me a tad disappointed. However, I did like that THE ACCIDENTAL AFTERLIFE OF THOMAS MARSDEN is a standalone, and I also think readers will like Thomas. He’s an ordinary, relatable boy. Once he learns the truth about himself, he doesn’t change much, but he’s determined to do whatever necessary to help the faeries.

Socialize with the author:

Emma Trevayne:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

Book Review: The Sisters of Versailles by Sally ChristieThe Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
Series: Mistresses of Versailles #1
Published by Atria on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France's most "well-beloved" monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot - and women - forward. The King's scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie's stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

the sisters of versailles blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE SISTERS OF VERSAILLES by Sally Christie. The tour is hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and you can visit all the stops here.

Book Review:

THE SISTERS OF VERSAILLES is the first in a historical fiction trilogy about the mistresses of Louis XV. This first book is about the five Nesle sisters, four of whom became the king’s mistresses. It sounds extraordinary, even for a king, but it’s true. They’ve been overshadowed by Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry, which I think is a real pity.

I’d never heard of the sisters before — this book is the first time they’ve been written about in English. I usually enjoy historical fiction that introduces me to new people and/or time periods, and here, I definitely enjoyed my introduction to the Nesle sisters. I think the author did a fine job of giving each their own personality and ambitions based on what is known about them. THE SISTERS OF VERSAILLES is written from each sister’s perspective, and their voices are distinct enough that it’s not confusing. The book spans over a decade, and reads like a historical epic that’s light enough to be enjoyed by readers who might not want a ton of historical detail, but want to read about Louis XV’s early mistresses.

Louise, Pauline, Diane, and Marie-Anne all have their time with the king for their own reasons, whether it’s actually love or to gain power and security. I liked, disliked, and wanted to slap reason into each at various times, which I think speaks to the author’s success at turning little known historical figures into living, breathing women. As for Hortense — the one sister who didn’t succumb to the king — she begins and ends the book, an elderly woman looking back, realizing that life isn’t as black and white as her pious, judging self once thought.

Louis XV was Louis le Bien-Aimé — Louis the Well-Beloved — but he wasn’t so loving to the sisters. I liked seeing the king through their eyes, and then their lives after him. THE SISTERS OF VERSAILLES doesn’t really go into the politics of the time, perhaps because most of the sisters are isolated and don’t care too much about politics. The book mainly focuses on life at Versailles, the intrigues and scandals that make up palace life. I quite liked the relationships between the sisters — a little love, but mainly of the “what can she do for me” variety, with competition and hatred thrown in. I found the different feelings rather realistic, especially at a time when women had to manipulate their surroundings as best they could to improve their lives.

About the author:

author sally christieI’m a life-long history buff – and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I’d been writing (“writing”) ever since I was able to hold a pencil.

If you’d told my 12-year old self that I’d not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I’ve finally come full circle to where I think I should be.

I currently live in Toronto and when I’m not writing, I’m playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang).

For more information please visit Sally Christie’s website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.
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Buy links: Amazon | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Chapters | iTunes | Indiebound | Kobo

– leeanna

Book Review: After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga

Book Review: After the Red Rain by Barry LygaAfter the Red Rain by Barry Lyga
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on August 4, 2015
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
A postapocalyptic novel with a cinematic twist from New York Times bestseller Barry Lyga, actor Peter Facinelli, and producer Robert DeFranco.

On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to megacities and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day she comes across a beautiful boy named Rose struggling to cross the river--a boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet.

But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart after the Magistrate's son is murdered and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do Deedra and Rose know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet.

Book Review:

I haven’t read a Barry Lyga book before, but I’d heard good things about them. AFTER THE RED RAIN has an interesting summary — I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic books — so I gave it a go.

But after finishing, I’m honestly not sure what I read.

AFTER THE RED RAIN asks a lot of questions and introduces some cool ideas, but fails to follow through on answering those questions or developing those ideas. I don’t know if this book is a standalone, but if it is — I’d recommend not reading if you’re the type of reader that likes a complete ending. There’s quite a bit left unresolved at the end, which left me disappointed.

The setting of AFTER THE RED RAIN was my favorite thing about the book. There’s no explanation for how the world ended up in its current state, but the current state is well established. People live in Territories, go to work for their ration, and that’s about it. There’s nothing to hope for, because although I saw Ludo Territory as a miserable place, with dangerous air and rain, food recreated from the DNA of extinct animals and plants, and citizens tracked through their brands, Deedra and the others don’t know any better. They don’t know anything about the past, so they think their world is good, and getting better. That aspect of the book was well done.

But the rest of AFTER THE RED RAIN… I got the impression this is a book written to be a movie. There are some chapter long fight scenes that I could see recreated in an action flick. There’s Deedra the orphan, surviving on her own and doing okay, but then falling in love with the mysterious Rose. There’s a corrupt government magistrate and a mad scientist. There’s a shocking revelation about “the Red Rain.” There’s a scene where Deedra and Rose stare off into the scant sunlight and talk about making a difference.

I wanted more character development for Deedra and Rose. I wanted to know where the heck Rose came from, and what his purpose was. And so on. I wanted answers! I also think AFTER THE RED RAIN was too long, limping along at a slow pace to the vague ending.

– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

waiting on wednesday

illuminae by amie kaufman and jay kristoffIlluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Release Date: October 20, 2015

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

I’m sure everyone else has featured ILLUMINAE already, but now it’s my turn! I am lucky, because I’m actually reading ILLUMINAE now, and it’s bloody fantastic. It’s good sci-fi, which — yay! I can count on one hand the good sci-fi I’ve read in YA.

I’d feature the whole series for my WoW pick if there were covers and summaries for the next books, because I am so excited about this whole series. ILLUMINAE is told/written so creatively, and I’ll admit, when buzz first started for the book, I was a bit worried it wouldn’t live up. You know, the hype monster and all that. But ILLUMINAE slays that hype.

Socialize with the authors:
Amie Kaufman:
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Jay Kristoff:
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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Book Review: Alice by Christina Henry

Book Review: Alice by Christina HenryAlice by Christina Henry
Published by Ace on August 4, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Retelling
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

Book Review:

I’ll admit that I’ve never read ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but I know the basic story. And I’m always up for a retelling of a classic, especially a dark, inventive retelling. ALICE is definitely dark and inventive, full of horror with a shot of weird and “WTF did I just read?”

I had to read this book in bits, because at times the world was just so overwhelmingly bleak for women. In the Old City, girls are often commodities, taken or sold, raped or killed. The many mentions of rape and abuse got to me, and I do wish there had been a bit less of women being victimized in the book.

Otherwise… I think the best way to describe ALICE is to say it’s a mindfuck. A mindfuck in the very best way possible, mind you. I was never sure what would happen next, and often felt like I was tumbling down the rabbit hole. ALICE picks up ten years after the tea party (and other events). Alice has spent those ten years in an asylum, because when she came back from the Old City, she was ruined and babbled about the Rabbit. But she couldn’t remember what happened to her, so eventually her parents locked her away. For years, her only contact has been Hatcher, an axe murder in the cell next to hers; they talk through a mouse hole. When the two escape from the asylum, the story really begins, because the fire that sets them free also frees the Jabberwock.

There’s just enough of the familiar (Cheshire, the Rabbit, Caterpillar, etc.) but the author puts her own inventive spin on everything. I think Christina Henry did a fantastic job in establishing the gritty, yet fantastical world and the characters within. Because Alice and Hatcher can’t remember most of their lives before the asylum, they discover important things along with the reader, which I enjoyed. The writing also fits the book perfectly: it’s sparse yet descriptive, and there are some great lines on power and death. I also liked Alice’s growth throughout the book; she grows from a girl who wants the safety of the hospital to a quietly confident woman.

At first I rated ALICE three stars, but as I worked on my review and thought more about the book, I upped my rating to four stars. ALICE is a book that crept into my mind, much like the Jabberwock crept into Hatcher’s, and made me really think about it.

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– leeanna