Thursday, July 30, 2015


by Heather Dixon

Story summary: There is a boy named Jonathan, living an ordinary life in a cold, northern aerial city. There is a plague sweeping through the empire and killing women at incredible speeds. There is a newly discovered chemical, fantillium, which can connect people into shared illusions, speed up time, and even open gateways to other worlds. And there is Jonathan, revealed as a prodigy at controlling this dangerous and enticing substance--and the only hope to save his mother and sister and perhaps the whole empire.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Steampunk, multiple universes, time travel, aerial cities: this book has it all.
  • Light and wholesome, while still having darkness, danger, and adventure.

And Why You Might Not:
  • The science seems quite iffy to me. At the very least, it is very unexplored. And maybe I just wasn't reading carefully enough, but illusioning seems weirdly contradictory. (It all takes place in your mind, yet it has real consequences like throwing people across rooms and transporting to other universes.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Pirates! In an Adventure With the Romantics

by Gideon Defoe

Story summary: I got stuck on the story summary, mostly because of laziness. Plus the Goodreads summary is pretty good this time:
"Whilst visiting their bank manager on the shores of Lake Geneva, the pirates encounter the literary giants of their age: the swaggering Lord Byron, the oddly shifty Percy Shelley - and his beautiful fiancée, Mary. Together they embark upon an adventure that leads them into the bowels of Oxford and the forbidding heart of eastern Europe. Along the way the Pirate Captain must confront some important questions, namely: what is the secret behind his belly tattoo? Is 'Zombuloid, the corpse-beast' a better name for a monster than 'Gorgo: Half-man, half-seaweed'? And, most importantly, what happens when a pirate falls in love?" (from here)
See also The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists, The Pirates! In an Adventure With Whaling, The Pirates! In an Adventure With Communists, and The Pirates! In an Adventure With Napoleon.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • This book--so funny.
  • Lord Byron--possibly a vampire! Mary Godwin--obsessed with monsters! Percy Shelly--grumpy and poetical! The Pirate Captain--like Zeus or the Pacific Ocean and not at all like luxuriantly bearded conch!
  • The footnotes--so informative! and random! and funny!

And Why You Might Not:
  • There are not really any good reasons--it's great! There's some slightly adult humour, I suppose, and some jokes might not be as funny if you haven't read the previous books. But basically, these books are hilarious.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Goblin Emperor

by Katherin Addison

Story summary: Maia's life in seclusion with his cousin is completely changed when his father and step-brothers all die in an airship crash. Especially since it so happens that his father was the emperor, and now Maia is the last heir to the throne. But not only has Maia not been taught anything about the mechanics of ruling an empire, but he's half-goblin in an elven court filled with politics and factions and politics and agendas and politics.

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • Almost definitely the best book I've read this year so far.
  • Introspective character study.
  • Examination of a very realistic fictional culture.
  • So many wonderful subtle relationships between characters.

And Why You Might Not:
  • You get totally dropped into this strange world with no explanations except a glossary and couple short pages describing language conventions. I love this; it makes everything far more interesting. But you have to be in the mood to enjoying flipping back and forth and puzzling out what people are talking about to properly enjoy this book.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Salt and Light

by Mark Shea

Why You Might Like This:
  • Orthodox, balanced, lacking in political affiliation, and spiritually uplifting musings on some of the most important tenets of our Faith.

And Why You Might Not:
  • If you're like me and read Mark Shea's blog fairly often, there might be not a lot of thoughts that are really new.
  • Sometimes I wanted it to go a little deeper into the meanings, especially of the Beatitudes. I know this wasn't really what the book was about, but some of the chapters still seemed pretty short.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


by Kelly Creagh

Story summary: Isobel, cheerleader, searches for her goth-love Varen, who's lost in a Poe-like dreamland. Meanwhile she struggles with depression, her deteriorating relationship with her family, and a decreasing sense of reality.
Sequel to Nevermore.

Why You Might Like This Book:
  • It is a beautiful and atmospheric tribute to Edgar Allen Poe.
  • The romance is unusual--not a typical YA instant-love-for-sexy-bad-boy, but a focus on one girl's determination and heroic bravery to save someone she loves.

And Why You Might Not:
  • Nothing happens exactly. The story summary above is really the whole plot: Isobel searches for Varen. That's it. There still manages to be lots of intensity and action, but if you're looking for developments in the story or relationship, this isn't it.
  • The relationship between Varen and Isobel was my favourite thing about the first book. But Varen is almost non-existent in this book, and their meetings are very sparse.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Case of the Missing Moonstone

by Jordan Stratford

Story summary: Lady Ada Byron (Lovelace), 11-year-old mathematical genius, and Mary Godwin (Shelley), romantic and clever 14-year-old, decide to start a clandestine detective agency. Their first case seems open and shut--the criminal has already confessed! But there's something fishy going on, and Ada and Mary must use their not-inconsiderable wits to save the day.
Also features such memorable people as Percy Shelley, Charles Babbage, and Charles Dickens.

Why You Might Like This Book:
  • Ada Lovelace!
  • And Mary Shelley!
  • Being detectives!

And Why You Might Not:
  • It's purposefully historically inaccurate (e.g. Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace being close in age). I liked this alt-history aspect, but I suppose it could be annoying to some. (There's an appendix with all the real facts at the end, so no one gets too mixed up.)

Friday, July 3, 2015


by Marissa Meyer

Story summary: Retelling of "Rapunzel" in a futuristic, cyberpunk world where Rapunzel is stuck in a satellite instead of a tower, rescued by a dashing spaceship captain instead of a prince.
See the first books, Cinder and Scarlet, and the next book, Winter.

Why You Might Like This Book:
  • AIs, mind control, evolved societies living on the moon, daring escapes, thrilling heroics, and lots of trudging through the desert.
  • Captain Carswell Thorne: Han Solo of YA. 'Nuff said.

And Why You Might Not:
  • By this point, with the story lines and relationships from the previous two books still not resolved, there ends up being a lot of threads going on at once. There are six or more different viewpoint characters, and it gets a little much at times.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


by Marissa Meyer

Story summary: Retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" in a future, cyberpunk world. Also a continuation of the "Cinderella" retelling from the first book, Cinder.
And see also the next books, Cress and Winter.

Why You Should Read This:
  • Great scifi world, funny and interesting characters, just all round great fun.
  • Wicked moon queens! Mental control powers! Charming space captains! Sentient spaceships!

And Why You Shouldn't:
  • There's a fairly typical YA romance. Can be slightly offputting for me.
  • There ends up being a lot of characters with points of view, and it switches up a lot. I like this, but sometimes it can be a bit tiring to switch up so much.