Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

Review of audiobook:
Newly orphaned Alexandria "Alex" Lee moves from the Rain Catcher Farms commune in California, where she and her mother were herbalists, to her grandmother's mansion in Savannah, Georgia. The transplant is difficult. Alex is out of touch with modern culture and is very vocally against the money and power of the Magnolia League, her grandmother's social set. Alex would rather spend time working for others, giving money to charity, etc. But over time she starts to fall in line with the Magnolia Girls (MG's, learning the secrets to their power and incorporating them into her own life. Until the night she discovers something shocking in the Lee Mansion...

Alex is preachy and whiney and a very difficult character to like. I actually preferred the secondary characters in this novel, and would have liked knowing them a bit better. The author also needed a good continuity editor, as there are many contradictions in the text. However, the plot is intriguing and the descriptions of the South are spot on. The reader is wonderful, portraying upperclass Savannah with just the right amount of Southern drawl. I will probably read the second book in the series to find out how the shocking discovery is handled, and to revisit the secondaries.

Magnolia League audiobook
Magnolia League book

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Aoife (pronounced Eefa) is just a few weeks shy of her sixteenth birthday. Unlike most teens, this is an event she’s dreading. At age sixteen Aoife’s mother, Nerissa, and her brother, Conrad, went mad, and the necrovirus that ate away at their logic and reason lies dormant in Aoife’s blood. Aoife, now a ward of the city of Lovecraft, expects that she, too, will go mad on her birthday. Until then she applies herself to the thing she loves – engineering. She’s always had a knack for working with machines, and she studies hard at the School of Engines. Perhaps the numbers, figures and pure science running through her mind will keep the madness at bay.

Then Conrad makes contact via a stained letter slipped under Aoife’s dormroom door. The ghost ink yields a strange and frightening message:

“The ink of the HELP lifted off the page, suspended in the smoke, corpse-pale. As the smoke dissipated, the ink stretched and re-formed, spelling a new phrase in its ghostly hand, the encoded message the ghost ink had kept hidden.

Go to Graystone

Find the witch’s alphabet

Save yourself

With these words Aoife’s life changes and expands in ways she could never have imagined. Along with her best friend, Cal, Aoife hires the handsome guide Dean Harrison to sneak them out of the city to her father’s house in Arkham. Aoife thought that getting out of Lovecraft would be the difficult part, but more hazards lie ahead than behind. Once at Arkham the trio will find long-buried family secrets, dangerous creatures and maybe even romance…if they survive.

This novel was simply amazing. The author has invented an alternate reality where logic and reason dictate social norms, and those who believe otherwise, the heretics, are hunted down and punished by cowled, over-lording proctors. In the midst of this closed environment Aoife shines in her determination and stubborn refusal to be anything other than herself. Her personality is deftly drawn by Kittredge, and readers will find themselves cheering for her as she risks everything to find her brother. Personally, I can't wait for the second book in this new, exciting series, and I highly recommend it to fans of steampunk, fantasy and adventure.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima (A Seven Realms Novel)

The destinies of four teens begin to intertwine in this intriguing fantasy. Raisa, princess heir of the Fells, feels restricted, trapped in her royal duties. Amon, her childhood friend, has returned from Warrior school a different, more soldierly, man. Han "Cuffs" Alister is a street rat and former thief struggling to lead life on the straight and narrow. And Dancer, son of the clan and Han's friend, has become secretive and moody, prone to long silences and snappish remarks. Secrets, both those they keep and those kept from them, drive these teens inexorably toward their destinies.

This first book in a trilogy has a slow start, but the author takes that time to really develop the characters. About a hundred pages in the book really grabbed my interest, and by the end I was totally riveted. I can't wait to get my hands on book two!