Category Archives: Staff Recommends

Heartless by Marissa Meyer REVIEW

heartlessAvailable at the library this fall.

I managed to snag an advanced reader’s copy of Marissa Meyer’s first book post-Lunar Chronicles. I attended a panel discussion with her, Matthew Quick, Amanda Talley and Paul Rudnik. Meyer talked about her love for Alice and Wonderland and how it inspired her to write a prequel about the Queen of Hearts.

Meyer’s Heartless addresses what life might have been like for Catherine the Queen of Hearts before she became queen. Was she always so mean? Did she want the power and control of being queen? Meyer gives a look at her own idea of what the world of Hearts was like before Catherine the Queen took reign.

The book intrigued me from the start. I love the fantastical world of Alice and Wonderland and Meyer’s world of the Lunar Chronicles. Heartless does not disappoint in painting a world full of oddities and clever characters. Meyer’s descriptions of costumes, the Mad Hatter’s hats and Catherine’s bakery treats come alive off the page. I enjoyed her portrayals of classic characters from before Alice’s time in Wonderland.

The story overall, is well written and I was almost sad when the story ended because I wanted to keep reading more about the characters. But of course, I could go on to read Lewis Carroll’s works instead!
If you loved the Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer’s first standalone novel will be a great read for you. And for those who love the whimsical world of Lewis Caroll, this book will delight. You may have to wait a while though, this book will be released on November 8th, 2016.

Starflight by Melissa Landers REVIEW

starflightAvailable in Print.

Starflight starts a new science fiction series for author, Melissa Landers. This book was one part Firefly and one part comedic Shakespeare but lots of fun all around.

Starflight centers around the story of an orphaned girl, Solara Brooks, who is setting out for new opportunities in the fringe planets of the galaxy. Her trek is derailed when she ends up stuck traveling with her arch nemesis from school, Doran Spaulding. Through a series of events and calamities, Solara and Doran make their way on board the Banshee where they quickly become friends with the ragtag crew of misfits on board.

This book started out wobbly for me. I liked the premise and the storyline so I soldiered on but the first third was hard to get into. I think my main hang up was my lack of empathy for the characters. Solara’s true personality didn’t shine through for more until she was on the Banshee. Once aboard the ship, she and Doran really blossomed as characters for me. Things take off at an epic pace from there. There are pirates, run-ins with the law, crash landings and escapes from bounty hunters.

Rocky start aside, once I knew the characters fully, I truly enjoyed the book. I’m a big science fiction fan and I love anything with fast paced action. Starflight meets all the criteria for me there. The characters all have secrets, weaknesses, strengths and desires that make them interesting to get to know. I believe the second book in the series will highlight the story of two other characters from the banshee, Cassia and Kane.

I think this series will only get better with time and more books so I look forward to the next one. If you are a fan of science fiction, good humor and action-packed hi-jinks, give this series a whirl.

Happy Reading!
Warren Branch

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom REVIEW

22701879Available in Print.

This book is not something I would typically pick up for myself but it was a book choice in a monthly book subscription I’m a part of (Uppercase Box, if you are interested). I haven’t been disappointed yet by the book choices, including the more realistic high school drama ones. Not If I See You First definitely falls in the realistic/love story/high school drama category. However, the premise and the main character stood out to me as being a little out of the average for this genre.

The main character, Parker, is blind. No, that’s not a spoiler, it’s pretty obvious from the get go. Told from her point of view, you get an interesting ‘look’ at what life is like when you have to rely on your instincts instead of your eyes. Parker is witty, sarcastic and straightforward. I liked her from the start. She is also flawed. Pretty much all the characters had their own flaws. This drew me into the story more. I felt like I could relate to the characters on a different level because they had the same everyday, run of the mill personality flaws that you might find in your own group of friends or yourself. It’s the flaws in these characters that lend them their charm. Parker and her friends get along well because they embrace the flawed aspects of each other whole heartedly.

The story itself revolves around an incident that happened to Parker in the 8th grade. She’s now a junior in high school but changes in the school system lead to her to face an old friend she believes betrayed her. Throughout the book, Parker is forced to examine how she reacts to situations and how she limits herself as well. By the end of the story, after facing her fears and facing some truths, Parker is able to strengthen her bonds with her friends and family. I think Lindstrom tells an amazing story of trust, honesty and compassion in Not If I See You First.

If you are a fan of realistic drama and sarcastic characters, give this book a try. It’s a great story that I read through in a heartbeat because I was so drawn in by the dialogue and the character’s storylines. This was Lindstrom’s debut novel and I’m sure we’ll see more great things come from him.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

Raging Sea by Michael Buckley REVIEW

RagingSea[1]Available in Print.

Raging Sea is the sequel to Undertow by Michael Buckley. The third book in the trilogy, Heart of the Storm, will be out in November 2016.

When I first read Undertow last year. I couldn’t put it down. The story grabbed me and I devoured the book in 2 days. I wrote a review for Undertow last year and the part that stuck with me the most was this: ‘The storyline of the humans versus Alphas really hit home with me as our own country deals with issues of race, immigration and equality. I think the story of Undertow weaves an excellent example for teens and gives readers a new view on these issues. Buckley took a present day topic and worked into a fantasy world that somehow we can all still relate to.’

This still remains true in Raging Sea. Raging Sea picks up two weeks after the cataclysmic event that ended Undertow. Lyric, Bex and Arcade are on the run and trying to find their family and friends who have been abducted by an organization known simply as White Tower. Of course they are captured by White Tower but Lyric quickly learns that White Tower’s motives are not what she assumed. While Lyric and her friends are dealing with the shady business of White Tower, a war is raging on the East Coast between the US military and the Alpha. The country is divided, the military is struggling and Lyric may be their only hope.

What I like most about this trilogy so far is the way Buckley packs in a lot of action around the emotional story lines of the characters. I’m not one for sappy love stories and while romance, love triangles and heartaches play a large role in the character’s lives, Buckley finds a way to break up the teenage drama with action, intrigue and political strife.

I think this book is a great fit for anyone who enjoys futuristic dystopia. If you are a fan of the Hunger Games, Lunar Chronicles or the Divergent series, check out the Undertow series. I’ll be impatiently waiting for the conclusion to Lyric’s story in November.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo REVIEW

Available in Printsix-of-crows-cover-bardugo and eBook.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.

Wow, this book. This book was awesome. It was all my favorite things and then some. There was action, intrigue, mystery, suspense, comedy, drama and daring characters. I loved every bit of it.

Basically the story revolves around a band of thieves and misfits as they try to pull off the ultimate heist. Of course there is a lot more revolving around the story but that’s the main plot line. This book has a big complex world reminiscent of Westeros. It’s set up beautifully by the author so you never feel bogged down with too many names or details. Bardugo also gives amazing descriptive details for the buildings, cities, costumes and cultures throughout the story as well.

The underlying themes of the book are very relevant to our own American history and current issues around the globe today. I think Bardugo did a marvelous job of intertwining cultural differences, slavery and prejudices throughout the story. She has a previous trilogy (the Grisha trilogy) that inspired the world for Six of Crows. I plan on tackling the Grisha trilogy as soon as I can.

This book is part of a trilogy (I believe?) and I can’t wait for the second book to come out later in 2016. I would recommend this book to any adventurous reader, especially those who are a fan of fantasy worlds, complex characters and a good heist!

Happy Reading!
Warren Branch