Retribution Rails

Secrets are like bullets. Ditto the dark, personal stuff. Folks say they’ll take’em off yer hands, share the burden, but really they just load ’em into their own weapons so they can use ’em against you later.

Title: Retribution Rails

Author: Erin Bowman

Series: Companion novel to Vengeance Road

Publication:  November 7th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.

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Berserker

Title: Berserker

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Series: Berserker # 1

Publication: October 10th 2017 by Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 288

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?

Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.

Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.

Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.


My Thoughts:

I had a hard time wrapping my head around Berserker. This is one of those books where I wanted to fall head-over-heels in love with it, but I ended up being so confused at points that it tore me out of the reading experience. I had a hard time coming to terms with the historical fiction meets fantasy because it was so… strange seeing them melded together in this way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book – I just don’t think I got all that I needed to from it, and that’s sad.

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The Book Thief

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

Title: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Series: Standalone

Publication: March 14th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 552

Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.


Thoughts I’m Still Processing:

  • The writing is so unfathomably beautiful. It’s like honesty, sarcasm, and lyricism had a love child and it grew up to be its own masterpiece.

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Blood Rose Rebellion

 

“I was different. But that difference did not mean I was weak or helpless…I could choose to see it as a gift. I could embrace my own power. I could change the world.”

Title: Blood Rose Rebellion

Author: Rosalyn Eves

Series: Blood Rose Rebellion # 1

Publication: March 28th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 416

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.


My Thoughts:

Filled with a highlight of gray areas when it comes to good and evil, Blood Rose Rebellion is a complex tale reminiscent of dystiopian novels like The Hunger Games and Red Queen. Sometimes, when I find myself getting so excited about a book, despite some of the disconcerting comments about why it was not finished by other bloggers, I get so so so excited that the idea of actually reading the book terrifies me. Its’s that way with any hyped book, though. I find myself devoured by it, unsurprising of course, but devoured none the less. Blood Rose Rebellion did just that. It pulled me in, under, and over. I found myself loving this book the longer I held it in my hands. Blood Rose Rebellion was a fantastic story about having to choose between a rock and a hard place.

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That Burning Summer

Title: That Burning Summer

Author: Lydia Syson

Series: Standalone

Publication:  January 24th 2017 by Sky Pony Press

Pages: 336

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s July 1940 on the south coast of England. A plane crash-lands in the marsh, and sixteen-year-old Peggy finds its broken pilot—a young Polish airman named Henryk. Afraid and unwilling to return to the fight, Henryk needs a place to hide, and Peggy helps him find his way to a remote, abandoned church.

Meanwhile, Peggy’s eleven-year-old brother Ernest is doing his best to try to understand the war happening around him. He’s reading all the pamphlets—he knows all the rules, he knows exactly what to do in every situation. He’s prepared, but not for Peggy’s hidden pilot.

Told in alternating points of view, this is a beautifully written story about growing up in wartime and finding the difference between following the rules and following your heart.


My Thoughts:

I’m going to come right out and say it: I struggled immensely with this book. I couldn’t get into it, though the premise sounded promising. I didn’t believe the characters. I didn’t understand motivations. There was no character development. That Burning Summer sounded like a good idea, and it started off in the right direction, but it soon fell downhill into a cesspit of its own making.

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Mad Miss Mimic

I knew nothing. And I found that, yes, I was curious—very curious indeed.

Title: Mad Miss Mimic

Author: Sarah Henstra

Series: Standalone

Publication: January 3rd 2017 by Razorbill Canada

Pages: 272

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Born into an affluent family, Leo outwardly seems like a typical daughter of English privilege in the 1870s: she lives with her wealthy married sister Christabel, and lacks for neither dresses nor trinkets. But Leo has a crippling speech impediment that makes it difficult for her to speak but curiously allows her to mimic other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back… and watch as she unintentionally scares off every potential suitor. Only the impossibly handsome Mr. Thornfax seems interested in Leo…but why? And does he have a connection to the mysterious Black Glove group that has London in its terrifying grasp? Trapped in a city under siege by terror attacks and gripped by opium fever, where doctors (including her brother-in-law) race to patent an injectable formula, Leo must search for truth in increasingly dangerous situations – but to do so, she must first find her voice.


A List of Thoughts:

  • A fantastic Victorian era mystery that will keep you on your toes
  • Leo, or Leonora, is surprisingly easy to relate to. She is fun, quirky, and full of an entertaining spark reminiscent of Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. Oh, and she also has a speech impediment which enables her to perfectly mimic people but stutter in her own voice.
  • Full of twists and turns. I, personally, did not expect this book to be a Victorian-era drug bust esque sort of thing. Henstra totally rocks it.
  • The plot is very complex, in a good way. It’s just enough to keep you intrigued and make you think – not too much, not too little.
  • The characters with their failings and strengths are complex, believable, and a real treat to delve into. Leo, Francis Thornfax (DUDE, HIS NAME), Tom… all of them. They all have such a vibrant spirit – that’s the only way I can describe it.
  • The plot itself is amazing. It is a giant, tastefully crafted melting pot of terrorism in retaliation for banning drugs, romance, mystery, and the perfect bursts of humor. It’s dark, intense, and delightful.

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The Glass Sentence

That is almost always the way with stories. True to their very core, even when the events and the people in them are different.

Title: The Glass Sentence

Author: S.E Grove

Series: The Mapmakers Trilogy # 1

Publication: June 12th 2014 by Viking Books for Young Readers

Pages: 493

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

She has only seen the world through maps. She had no idea they were so dangerous.
 
Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.  Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.

Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.


A Listical of Thoughts:

  • I don’t think the book was able to decide if it was supposed to be Middle Grade or Young Adult – made for a very confusing set of standards.
  • THE BOOK IS A GIANT TEASE! You can’t say things and then not go into detail about them. Where is the why? The how? The who? We need to know these things or else you lose all credibility of your story. Follow the rules of the magic you lay out.
  • The characters are impossible to distinguish from their stereotype behaviors – but at the same time, they are super contradictory. It’s very… strange. Nothing about them was consistent. You can be a stereotype (nooo.. don’t do it) as long as you, once again, follow your own rules and groundwork. Making characters say one thing and do another or not know something and still magically know the answer doesn’t work!
  • I will say, the plot and the world itself is unbelievably original and unique. I am one-hundred percent certain that this is the only reason I finished the book. Maps… I will never be able to look at maps the same way again. The world building is brilliant, so props on that.
  • BUT! Yes, that is a big but there. While the idea of the world is brilliant, the actual execution suffers from a lack of knowledge about itself. If that makes sense. As I have said over and over again, if you are going to create a completely new world, you must set your own rules and follow them. There is none of that here! It makes it unbelievable if nothing is explained and it all works out anyway. We, as readers, need some sort of concrete evidence proving to us that this could actually happen in the circumstances you created.
  • Theo is the highlight of this book (besides the idea itself). I love Theo. He is both the hero of the story and the literal hero of the story – he saved the book for me. YAY THEO.
  • It takes a long while for things to get rolling. If you’re okay with drawing things out unnecessarily, then you can overlook it. However, I quite like getting to the conflict – or at least the hint of the conflict, before the first hundred pages are done, yeah?
  • It would benefit from a Pride & Prejudice & and Zombies-eque ending. Actually, it would just benefit from zombies to make it more interesting.