Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fantasy Review: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2) by Leah Cypess

Death Marked (Death Sworn #2)
by Leah Cypess

Description:
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.


My review:
Fantastic.

I loved the new setting and the tidy way everything is wrapped up. This story surprised me over and over again, even to the ending. As such, I can’t really think of more to say that wouldn’t spoil it.

The author is a masterful storyteller. I very much loved this story and have no trouble marking it as strongly recommended. If you liked the first book, you’ll love the second.

I borrowed this audiobook from the library.


About the Author:



Leah Cypess wrote her first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, she wrote her first book, about a girl who was shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies).

After selling her first story while in high school, she gave in to her mother's importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. She then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years. She kept writing and submitting in her spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after her first short story acceptance, she sold her first novel.

Leah currently lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband and children.

Author Links:
https://www.amazon.com/Leah-Cypess/
http://www.leahcypess.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2915782.Leah_Cypess

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Fantasy Review: Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah Cypess

Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1)
by Leah Cypess


Description:
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.


My Review:
Great story.

I found it interesting that someone could have super strong magic growing up, but it only be fleeting. The fact that she’s trying to portray strength to her assassin students, but undermining her ability to keep it up the entire time added quite an edge.

The mystery aspect was also great. As she tries to figure out how her predecessors died, she cannot allow herself to forget that she is very likely the next target.

Then there’s the romance. She’s drawn to an unlikely ally, and while he seems likely to reciprocate, she knows she cannot trust him. I thought the author did a great job building characters that act true to their natures and circumstances.

Overall, I loved the book, evidenced by the fact that I immediately borrowed number 2 after reading. I think fans of fantasy will dig this.

I borrowed this audiobook from the library.


About the Author:



Leah Cypess wrote her first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, she wrote her first book, about a girl who was shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies).

After selling her first story while in high school, she gave in to her mother's importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. She then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years. She kept writing and submitting in her spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after her first short story acceptance, she sold her first novel.

Leah currently lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband and children.

Author Links:
https://www.amazon.com/Leah-Cypess/
http://www.leahcypess.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2915782.Leah_Cypess

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dystopian Review: Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Magisterium
by Jeff Hirsch

Description:
On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

With MAGISTERIUM, Jeff Hirsch brings us the story of a complex, captivating world that will leave readers breathless until the very last page.


My Review:
Magisterium is a rather odd blend of fantasy and science fiction. The world is split along a rift between science and magic, and Glenn is a child of both worlds.

This story starts off seeming to point in one direction, then goes somewhere wholly unexpected. The shift in Glenn’s goals is well done, and I must say the conclusion surprised me. The magic and Glenn’s experiments with it are fantastic, coming alive in the mind’s eye.

That being said, I would have liked to see more world building, particularly with regard to the history and cause of the rift, but there is enough there to hold the story together. I’d also liked to have seen just a bit more of the science fiction explained, but this book is focused mostly on the fantasy.

Overall, I really liked this book, which I borrowed as an audiobook from the library. Folks who enjoy fantasy with a touch of sci-fi might like this, but I have a feeling the story might just come off better in audio than in text.


About the Author:


Jeff Hirsch lives in Astoria, New York with his wife who blogs and writes about sewing. They have two cats, but on his various author pages, Jeff is sure to mention his future dog who shall be named Jerry Lee Lewis. He studied both acting and creative writing, and has an MFA in creative writing.

I recommend popping over to both his Goodreads and Amazon profiles to learn more (and see his much more witty versions of this bio). Links below.

Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Profile
Twitter @jeff_hirsch

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Apocalyptic Review: Desecration (Left Behind #9) by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

Desecration (Left Behind #9)
by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins


Description:
The exciting ninth book in the Left Behind series that has sold over 2.5 million copies in hardcover is now available in trade paperback. In November 2001 "Desecration" was #1 on the "New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, " and "CBA Marketplace" best-seller lists. With 50 million products sold, the Left Behind series is an international phenomenon.


My Review:
This one was pretty good!

What I most enjoyed is that God is getting visibly involved, and not only to his loyal followers. Angelic interventions, Chaim and Buck's mission, the battles, and the crazy cliffhanger. Even mystical abilities and manna make an appearance. On the other hand, the sacrifices are much more poignant, including the loss of a few prominent characters from the earliest pages.

Anyhow, this one was much more exciting than the last two, but it definitely leaves you hanging, though not in the "I wonder if they'll make it" sense, unless the reader hasn't been paying attention. The biblical quotes reveal the answer for the specific targets subject to said cliffhanger. And based on the literal nature of the story to this point, I'd say it's only a matter of describing how.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. Folks who've made it this far will probably dig it, too. It's a good bit more exciting than the last two.

I borrowed this from a friend.


About the Authors: 


Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins. He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins.

He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.




Jerry Bruce Jenkins is an American novelist and biographer. He is best known as co-author of the Left Behind series of books with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins has written over 185 books, including mysteries, historical fiction, biblical fiction, cop thrillers, international spy thrillers, and children's adventures, as well as non-fiction. His works usually feature Christians as protagonists. In 2005, Jenkins and LaHaye ranked 9th in Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary list of Hall of Fame authors based on books sold at Amazon.com during its first 10 years. Jenkins now teaches writers to become authors here at his website. He and his wife Dianna have three sons and eight grandchildren.

Books in this Series:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dystopian Review: The Giver (The Giver #1) by Lois Lowry

The Giver (The Giver #1)
by Lois Lowry


Description:
Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

1994 Newbery Medal winner. Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.


My Review:
The Giver is set in a future where humanity is conditioned for harmony and perfection and condensed into tiny pockets of civilization where life and knowledge are closely regulated. Behind it all, though is the Keeper, a person assigned the onerous task of remembering the full and true history of mankind in all its glory and horror. When Jonas is selected as the new Keeper, the former one becomes the Giver, imparting all of his knowledge in a one-way transfer.

What I love most about this book is how Jonas slowly begins to understand the nature of his society. The emotional underpinnings, which only he and the Keeper can experience, are heart wrenching. I think the author did a fantastic job portraying both the best and worst of humanity. And I also loved that once given, everything about the transferred idea, its emotion, memory and importance, are lost to the Giver.

I saw the movie before I listened to the audiobook, but the two are pretty close. Surprisingly, the ambiguous ending of the film was spot on. The ending in the book left me with that same sense of unease and ambiguity. Did he make it or not? I still have no idea, but it did leave me thinking.

Overall I really enjoyed this story. I’d recommend it to folks who enjoy dystopian stories with embedded lessons. It’s a chilling, yet hopeful read.

I picked this audiobook up from the library.


About the Author:


Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing.

She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award.

Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. To learn more about Lois Lowry, see her website at www.loislowry.com.

The Giver Quartet:
Hmm, now that I'm prepping this post, I see that this is actually a quartet, and the ambiguous ending doesn't seem that bad anymore now that I know there is more.