22
Mar

Review: Steelheart

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Steelheart
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brandon has written another fantastic book. Brandon is well known for his fantasy and unique magic systems.

He takes it a step farther in this post-apocalyptic action novel with Super-Villians with amazing superpowers. The only people fighting them are the “Reckoners” who study these super-powered people and search out their weaknesses.

Steelheart is the name of one of the main villians and this is the story of how a boy who saw Steelheart bleed once searches for a way to kill him in revenge for the death of his father.

Setting: Some sort of cosmic burst gave some people extraordinary powers. And, in this world, absolute power corrupts absolutely. These super-people (called Epics) desire to rule over people and to crush their will. They have destroyed cities and created their own little kingdoms within a post-apocalyptic America. The story happens in what was once Chicago. The descriptions of the ruin and squalor are so realistic I had to keep looking out my window :-)

Characters: David is a very interesting character. As a boy he saw Steelheart kill his father (this is not a Spoiler because it is on the jacket sleeve and it happens in the prologue). David studies the Epics and wants to become a Reckoner because he wants revenge. Brandon does not shy away from this motivation, even addressing it head-on with some dialogue between the characters. We also get to know some other characters – members of the Reckoners. Megan, who is beautiful and dangerous and close to David’s age. The leader of the group, a guy with a lot of science to help them in their fight. And other members of the team, an arms dealer, security people, and even a little bit about the Epics (not in first person POV, but in some unexpected ways).

Plot: The main plot is about trying to learn about Steelheart and his super-partners in order to try to kill them. There is also a plot line for romance and friendship and trust. Things get pretty complicated by the middle of the book. And by the end, you’ll be blown away as Brandon keeps ratcheting things up every step of the way. So, in some ways, it is superficially similar to caper plot of Mistborn. Yet, it is more about fighting your inner demons.

Conflict: Obviously, the biggest conflict is with the Reckoners and the Epics. And with David and Stellheart and the Reckoners. And then David’s revenge. And then the motivations of the team of Reckoners. And then the conflict between living with the known bad versus pushing for a change that could be worse. And . . . there’s a lot to thing about in this fairly short (by Brandon’s standards) book.

Text: I loved the different super-powers and how the weaknesses fit in with those. I loved the character interactions and the great dialogue as well.



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22
Mar

Review: The Princess and the Bear

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

The Princess and the Bear
The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great parallel novel for The Princess and the Hound. It has been awhile since I read the first one, but this is really a self-contained novel so it did not matter. I was able to pick up on everything easily because of how clear and descriptive Mette is in her descriptions.

The basic plot is that a prince was turned into a bear as punishment for his deeds. Then a hound is turned into a princess and then a hound again (yeah, a little confusing, but it makes sense in the novel). They are sent back in time – in their human forms – to try to save the prince’s kingdom from a terrible evil magic that threatens everyone, and to save the kingdom from invaders and distrust of all magic.

It is a love story with two strong protagonists, which is where Mette truly shines in her writing.

It was a joy to read. I look forward to reading the next in this story universe (The Princess and the Snowbird).



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19
Mar

Review: The Eye of Minds

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

The Eye of Minds
The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was like a mix between the Matrix and Tron . . . so every nerd and geek should read this.

Also, apparently, there is another book. I’m not sure if it is a series or just another that is set in the world, but it was a good read.

Characters: James really excels with his characters. The main character is Michael, who is a virtual reality gamer – total body immersion. Maybe this is also like Total Recall then too :-)
Michael has a couple friends who he only knows online who help him.

Plot: The main plot is that someone is messing with people in virtual reality – making it very dangerous. The government wants Michael and his hacker friends to find out who is doing it so that the government can stop them. But it is a potentially deadly game to trust a teenager with.

Setting: Most of the setting is inside this virtual reality environment where you can go into game areas inside the city of the VR world. Michael and his friends need to explore some pretty dark corners to figure out what is going on.

Conflict: There is the main conflict with the hacker who Michael is trying to track down, but there is also conflict between Michael and the government (their methods are a little nefarious).

Text: This is an interesting YA scifi thriller that I think young and old alike will enjoy.




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19
Mar

Review: Princess of the Silver Woods

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Princess of the Silver Woods
Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the next installment in the “Princesses” series by Jessica – which is a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses. I don’t know if this is the last in the series, though, because each one is a self-contained story. There are perhaps hints of future troubles at the end of each book (including this one, although not as much as previous books). I love the tagline for this one: Sometimes the wolf is the hero, and it’s the grandmother you have to watch out for!

This book is about the youngest Princess, Petunia.

She accidentally gets kidnapped, but eventually gets to her destination because of her spunk and fun attitude.

But, being kidnapped was far safer than the threat that is the King Under Stone who is threatening her and her sisters again and carefully leads them into a trap that takes them back to the midnight ball.

Petunia and her sisters fight to escape their prison with some unlikely help.



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19
Mar

Review: Everfound

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Everfound
Everfound by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great ending to a fantastic series. I’m excited to read more by Neal.

Mary is sleeping in her glass coffin (but she is no Sleeping Beauty full of love for all creatures), Mikey and Nick are trying to find Allie and Milo, and we meet a very scary beast called the scar wraith.

The fate of Everlost and the living world are at stake if Mary and her minions can’t be stopped.



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19
Mar

Review: Tuesdays at the Castle

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Tuesdays at the Castle
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has been awhile since I’ve read something by Jessica (hurry up and write more!), and so it was so much fun to get back into her head and this great book about love and family and castles that are alive!

Setting: The book is set in a medieval time in a land where it is possible for castles to be alive. There are hints of other kinds of magic, but that is the main focus of the book. We spend a lot of time with young Princess Celie, who seems to understand the castle best as she explores new areas of the castle and then as she uses her knowledge to try to find out what has happened to her parents and the new councilors who have come to “guide” her and her older siblings in ruling the kingdom in their parents’ absence.

Characters: Celie is young, but very brave and caring – which makes this a fun read. We get to know her courageous and smart brother, Rolf; her conscientious and dependable sister, Lilah; and a host of foreign dignitaries who run the gamut from quiet to overbearing. And we aren’t really sure who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. And, of course, Castle Glower is a special kind of character. All the adding of rooms and such that it does magically makes me think of the Winchester Mystery mansion, but even cooler than that!

Plot: The basic plot is that the king and queen go on a little trip but are apparently attacked. They seem to have been killed, but the Prince and Princesses don’t want to believe it. They are forced into taking on the responsibilities of running the kingdom while trying to do what they can to protect themselves from supposedly well-meaning councilors, save the castle from stealthy invaders who are up to no good, and try to determine what happened to their parents and why.

Conflict: There is a little bit of sibling conflict, but the main conflict is between the kids and the grownups who are trying to control them. Who is doing it out of concern and who is doing it for power? There is also the heart-wrenching conflict of losing one’s parents and having to fill those shoes at an early age.

Text: Jessica’s writing is always full of light – it just sparkles!



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19
Mar

Review: Cross My Heart

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Cross My Heart
Cross My Heart by Julie Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another awesome book from Julie! This one was just as touching and fun as the “My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life” book.

I couldn’t put it down and finished it in one day. I highly recommend it, especially to LDS readers who want more stories like those Jack Weyland wrote (only less sappy and more full of awesome).

Plot: The general story is about a 20-something LDS woman who is trying to find the man of her dreams amid a love quadrangle (triangles are so passé) with twists and turns that involve ex-boyfriends, crazy parents, scheming bosses, stolen work, and Boston.

Characters: Jillian is the main character, and she is immediately likeable for her snarky attitude and her straight-forwardness. She’s an ad executive and is great at what she does. But she wants more out of life than just work. She reminds me of some people I know who are actually kind of in the same situation as her regarding dating and marriage. I gradually came to care about Jillian and really wanted her to be happy. Is it weird that she felt like a real person? In any case, there are 3 “love interests” in this story for her. One is insecure, one is competition for her job, and one hates ad executives. Yet each is charming in their own way and teach Jillian about herself.

Setting: The story starts in LA but quickly moves to Boston, the land of Jillian’s upbringing. Yet, her experiences in LA and on the plane ride there combine to give her a fresh perspective on the town she called home. And we get to go along for the ride.

Conflict: It’s a romance – of course there is conflict. But it is also tied up with her career and with her religion and her crazy parents. That is part of what makes this such a page-turner.

Text: Wonderfully written with great insight into the characters’ minds to make it seem oh so real.



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3
Jan

Review: Curse of the Broomstaff

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Curse of the Broomstaff
Curse of the Broomstaff by Tyler Whitesides

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

According to the acknowledgements, there will be a 4th and a 5th book in this series. I’m thrilled with it and look forward to reading more of the adventures. The twist with the Aurans is pretty awesome too.



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29
Dec

Review: Battle of the Ampere

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Battle of the Ampere
Battle of the Ampere by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fun followup to the second book. It jumped right in where we left off. I am amazed that the writer of the Christmas Box can write such a sadistic and vile antagonist so well (of course the good guys are also well-written).

I didn’t want the book to end and anxiously await the next book in the series.



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29
Dec

Review: Everlost

   Posted by: Garrett   in Path

Everlost
Everlost by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had heard that this was a good book from one of Scott Card’s reviews. And now I believe him for sure! I didn’t realize it was a trilogy – so I just barely put the other two on my wishlist.

This is a teen paranormal book. Paranormal as in it deals with “ghosts” or rather, the spirits of those who get stuck halfway between life and the light at the end of the tunnel, in a sort of limbo that the residents call Everlost.

Setting: Most of the book’s setting is in Everlost in various cities on the east coast. It is, of course, a ghostly kind of world with spots of safety (places that were truly loved or memorable) and the rest of the world which they see hazily and are unable to interact with. And, if they stay in one place too long that is not “solid” then they slowly sink to the center of the earth. Because gravity apparently still affects their spirits.

Characters: The story centers on newcomers Allie and Nick. As such, we learn about the place as they do. The other characters are all 16 and under kids (because only kids apparently get stuck in this limbo). They learn about some monsters and others who don’t look like monsters but act like it. They also are not ready to “rest in peace” quite yet and are searching for a way home or to the light instead of just getting into an eternal ghostly rut.

Plot: The overarching plot is simply for the two to try to get back home and to figure it out from there. There are some side roads with teen love of other spirits, battling a true monster (the McGill), and learning more about the nature of what Everlost is and what they can do while here.

Conflict: Most of the conflict comes from losing their memories of their lives and of going against the grain of what the other bands of spirits want. There are more civilized bands and some very wild and aggressive bands. And they have to navigate between them all in their quest. There is some conflict with friendship and loyalty and love.

Text: The writing was well done and quite appropriate for the audience (and even this slightly older reader).



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