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31 December 2013

The Assassin's Curse (Assassin's Curse #1)

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke is the first book in her Assassin's Curse series.

Ananna of the Tanarau is a pirate. And now that she has come of age, she is to be married into another pirate family, the Hariri Clan. But when Ananna meets the young man she is to marry, she is less than impressed. His family spends more time on land than on the sea and he has some strange idea that she would have to listen to him instead of making her own decisions. When she escapes into the city instead of marrying him, he warns her that his family will retaliate. They will hire assassin to kill her.

Ananna has heard of the Assassins. Legend has it that no one has ever lived once targeted by them. And she is stuck in the land of Lisirra as she cannot go back to the harbor where two families search for her. A woman in the market tells her she must fight the assassin. The woman gives her words to say and a potion that will help. But Ananna has always been terrible at magic, not matter how much her mother tried to teach her.

When Ananna saves the assassin out of reflex, she sets off a curse that will change the course of her and the assassin's lives forever. Now they must try to find a cure for what is known as an impossible curse.

Clarke has created a fantastic world of pirates, magic, and legend. Readers will devour this book and head straight to the library for the next volume.

Clarke, Cassandra Rose. (2012). The Assassin's Curse. New York: Strange Chemistry.

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29 December 2013

Also Known As (AKA #1)

Also Known As by Robin Benway is a novel of espionage, safe cracking and high school.

Maggie Silver is a sixteen year old spy. Her parents are spies and she picked her first lock at age three. The work for the Collective and travel around the world stopping bad things from happening or collecting evidence to catch the bad guys. It is finally time for Maggie's first solo mission.

She is in New York to infiltrate a private high school and befriend Jesse Oliver to get to his father's computer. He may be writing a story that will expose the Collective and Maggie's family. What Maggie doesn't count on is how hard it is to fit into high school.

Luckily, she makes one friend - Roux. Maggie has never had a friend her age before and though it goes against remaining anonymous, she likes Roux. And Roux knows Jesse Oliver so it could all work out.

Benway has written a fun novel combining espionage, friendship, humor and intrigue. Fans of Ally Carter's Heist Society will love this book as will other readers of spy novels.

Benway, Robin. Also Know As. New York: Walker Books.

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27 December 2013

The Living (The Living #1)

The Living by Matt De La Pena is the story of a cruise gone wrong.

Shy is excited about his summer job. He wanted to save some money before his senior year of high school and the Paradise cruise lines pay better than fast food. It also gives him some time away from home after the death of his grandmother.

His second cruise is an eight day voyage to Hawaii. But as the crew and passengers are getting settled into the routine of the ship, news of a massage earthquake on the West Coast of the United States changes everything. Theoretically, in the middle of the Pacific, the ship is safe from tsunami, but the ship is not quite in the middle of the ocean. It is just off of the Hidden Islands.

Without much warning, the crew must put in place the emergency drills it has been learning and try to save as many passengers as possible. Shy will begin the hardest week of his life.

De La Pena has written a young adult natural disaster novel with a few twists thrown in for fun. This book is fast-paced and readers will devour it.

De La Pena, Matt. (2013). The Living. New York: Delacourte Press.

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26 December 2013

Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion #1)

Pawn by Aimee Carter is the first book in her Blackcoat Rebellion series - set in a dystopian United States future.

Kitty Doe just took her test. At seventeen each citizen takes a test to see where he/she will work for the rest of their lives. Their ranking from I to VII will determine how comfortable their lives will be. Though people who score a I or II are rarely see again. Kitty is smart, but only scores a III. All of her life she believed that the test put people where they were supposed to be. Now she is told she will work in the sewers in Denver. But her boyfriend, Benjy, has yet to take the test. She is sure he will get a VI - the highest anyone outside of the ruling family can score.

Before Kitty can dwell too long on her fate, she is approached by someone she never thought she would see in person - and asked if she wants to become a VII. She will be Masked, or surgically changed, to look like the Prime Minister's niece, Lila Hart. What she doesn't realize, is the the real Lila Hart was just murdered.

Carter has created a believable world where rebellion is about to arise. She has placed her main character at the center of the fray - giving her a voice to influence the rebels, but possibly at the risk of her life. Read this fast-paced series that reads like a cross between dystopian science fiction and the feel of a royal family structure out of historical England.

Carter, Aimee. (2013). Pawn. New York: Harlequin Teen.

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25 December 2013

Be Mine (Jackson Hole, Kowalski Family)

Be Mine includes stories by Jennifer Cruise, Victoria Dahl and Shannon Stacey.

Too Fast to Fall by Victoria Dahl is part of her Jackson Hole series. Jenny Stone is a bartender at the Crooked R Saloon. She also has a habit of driving too fast. Deputy Nate Hendrix has pulled her over six times for speeding in her classic car. He can't understand why she can't just slow down and be safe on the roads. After another warning, he makes her promise to take a driving course on safety. But when they see each other in the Crooked R, sparks fly.

Alone with You by Shannon Stacey chronicles the opening of a new bar/restaurant in upstate Massachusetts. Jake has only a couple of days in the city before he heads up to begin renovation on what will become a second location of Jasper's Bar and Grille. To see if it might fit into the new place, while in town Jake goes to a local bar for trivia night. He is paired with Darcy. After one great night together, they lose contact to be reunited when her boss sends Darcy upstate to help with the opening of the bar.

Sizzle by Jennifer Cruise is the story of an advertising executive and an accountant working on the launch of a new perfume.

Cruise, Jennifer. Be Mine. New York: HQN.

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22 December 2013

Hostage Three

Hostage Three by Nick Lake is story of a British family being captured by Somali pirates.

Amy is in her last days of high school when her father decides he is going to buy an yacht and sail around the world with his family.

Unfortunately, just as they are all settling into the voyage, the enter the Gulf of Aden - between Yemen and Somaliland - the yacht is captured by a crew of Somali pirates. What follows is captivity on the yacht while the pirates try to negotiate an agreeable price for the hostages.

Lake has written a book that, more than a pirate novel, is the story of a young woman coming to terms with the death of her mother while coming of age. She develops a friendship with one of the pirates and seems fairly unfazed by her captivity. The setting eventually gives her and her father a chance to get to know each other again.

Lake, Nick. (2013). Hostage Three. New York: Bloomsbury.

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20 December 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith is (hopefully) the first book in the Cormoran Strike detective series. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for JK Rowling.

Cormoran Strike is a private detective. He is not having much luck in business at the moment and he has just left his girlfriend to move into his office. He had been using a temp service for a secretary but can no longer afford to pay her - but forgot to cancel the service.

When Robin shows up for her first day of work for a PI, she just misses being run over by a beautiful woman leaving the building. When she gets to the top of the stairs, she is not missed by Strike, who knocks right into her.

Now Cormoran's luck might be changing. Robin seems like much more than a secretary and suddenly he has a new client - one who can pay.

John Bristow found Strike in the yellow pages and remembered his name from childhood. Strike was friends with John's older brother. And now that he needs help, Strike seems like the best option. John's sister, the supermodel Lulu Landry died three months ago. The police ruled it a suicide, but John is convinced she did not jump to her death. He hires Strike to prove it.

Galbraith is a great writer who weaves this mystery like a master. Anyone who likes mystery will love this book and hope for more featuring Cormoran Strike.

Galbraith, Robert. (2013). The Cuckoo's Calling. New York: Mulholland Books.

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16 December 2013

City of Lost Dreams (City of Dark Magic #2)

City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte (a pseudonym for authors Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch) is the sequel to City of Dark Magic.

Sarah Weston, a musicologist, is back in Europe. After her stay last year in Prague it is surprising she would return, but her friend Pollina needs her help. Pollina is a young music prodigy who is dying of a defect on one of her chromosomes. Sarah is back in Europe to hunt down a doctor doing experimental gene therapy.

Doing away with a linear passage of time, Flyte has created a mystery filled with long-dead musicians and alchemists, and a 400-year old dwarf, all in a setting of the amazing cities of Prague and Vienna.

While hard to fit into any one genre, the City of Lost Dreams series is bewitching and strange read that will stay in the minds of reader for a long time after they run out of pages.

Flyte, Magnus. (2013). City of Lost Dreams. New York: Penguin Books.

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12 December 2013

Reboot (Reboot #1)

Reboot by Amy Tintera is the first book in her Reboot series - a dystopian science fiction novel about life in what is left of the United States after the virus KDH spreads.

KDH, named after the city where it began - Kill Devil Hills, NC - is a virus that swept the US. In order to have an unaffected area, part of Texas was walled off and no travel was permitted into the city. The problem with the virus is that, while it kills many who contract it, they don't stay dead. But don't think zombies, these post-humans can still think and function. They eat actual food and not people. But they are stronger than humans and they don't necessarily have the same human emotions. That depends on how long it takes you to come back to life. Those whose bodies complete the change quickly will be more human.

Wren 178 is the highest number reboot known. She was dead for 178 minutes before she came back to consciousness. Now she is one of the best soldiers at HARC (Human Advancement & Repopulation Corp). She is also one of the top trainers of new reboots. As a 178 she always gets first pick of the new recruits, but she surprises everyone including herself when she picks Callum 22. The under 60s have too many human emotions left to easy to train, but there is something about 22 that is changing the way Wren thinks.

Tintera has written a novel with a new kind of zombie - many people will argue that they are not zombies - a post-human fully functioning being that could be the next evolution in human history. Her science fiction is great and her characters are compelling. She will have instant fans for this first novel in her series. I was reminded of both the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi in the feel of the story.

Tintera, Amy (2013). Reboot. New York: HarperTeen.

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11 December 2013

The Lady Risks All

The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens is a historical romance that takes place in London in 1823.

Miranda Clifford is used to taking care of her brother. Now that Roderick is an adult she needs to let him make his own decisions, but still she finds herself following him out of the house one night. When he enters the large white house down the street, Miranda is sure he is up to no good or about to get into trouble. The house belongs to Neville Roscoe, London's gambling king.

Neville Roscoe is not what he appears. Sure he owns dozens of gambling halls and hells, but that is only one part of his empire. He also runs a group called the Philanthropy Guild. And that is were Roderick was headed when Miranda broke into her neighbors house to save her brother. After being caught and invited to listen in on the meeting from the shadows of the library, Miranda is forced to concede that perhaps Roderick doesn't need her anymore.

But when Roderick disappears, Miranda turns to Roscoe for help. And in spite of a lifetime of warnings not to risk her or her family's reputation, she insists on accompanying Roscoe on the trail of the men who kidnapped her brother.

Laurens is known for her historical romance novels. If you are a romance fan and have not read Laurens, this is a great place to check out her work before diving into one of her many series.

Laurens, Stephanie. (2012). The Lady Risks All. New York: Avon.

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04 December 2013

Prophecy (Prophecy #1)

Prophecy by Ellen Oh is the first book in her Prophecy series. The Dragon King's Prophecy states: "Seven will become Three. Three will become one. One will save us all."

Kang Kira is the only woman in the king of Hansong's army. She is the prince's bodyguard as well as his cousin. The people fear her as the demon slayer. In fact, she is still killing demons, thought the populace thinks there has not been a demon among them for years.

The other skill/curse Kira has is that she sometimes has visions. And when she dreams of an invasion, the king sends her and his son to the mountains to be safe. Unfortunately, with the changing tide in the Seven Kingdoms, nowhere is safe. While she would give her life to save her cousin, it is also thought that he may be the one from the Dragon King's Prophecy from thousands of years ago.But the same blood that runs through the prince's veins also runs through Kira's. She could be the one from the Prophecy as well. Either way, she will have to fight.

Ellen Oh has created a fantasy series that reads like it is based on ancient legend. This series will appeal to readers who loved Graceling, Eon, or the many other great YA fantasy series featuring kick-ass chicks.

Oh, Ellen. (2013). Prophecy. New York: Harper Teen.

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03 December 2013

The Republic of Thieves (Gentlemen Bastards #3)

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is the third book in his Gentlemen Bastards series.

Locke Lamora has spent most of his life as a thief. As a child he stole to live. When he was adopted into the temple of the Crooked Warden, he became a master of both thievery and lying. Now Locke is in a delicate situation. No one in his right mind would work with the Bondsmagi of Karthain. But he has little choice - it is work with them or be left to die.

So Locke and his best friend, Jean Tannen, are off to Karthain to help win an election. Each election is backed by money from the mages as they choose sides and help guide the party they want into power. Of course, they could do this by magic, but they see it as entertainment to watch the mere humans battle over seats to the city.

Told through both present day and flashbacks to their time being trained as Gentlemen Bastards, Locke and Jean - plus the other they grew up with - tell the story of the life of Locke Lamora. Lynch's series is great fantasy filled with capers and outrageous cons.

Lynch, Scott. (2013). The Republic of Thieves. New York: Del Rey.

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02 December 2013

The Murder of the Century

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age of Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins is a narrative nonfiction look at a grisly murder in 1897 that turned New York City into chaos and allowed a change of guard in the newspaper world.

In June of 1897, parts of a body are found floating in the Hudson followed by other parts from the same body turning up in Harlem. Identifying the body, without its head, became the next order of business. Put together painstakingly due to the science available in that time period, the newspapers (and to less a degree, the police) build a case for no only who the murdered man was, but who killed him.

At the time, the largest circulating newspaper in New York was Joseph Pulitzer's World battled with the new Journal owned by William Randolph Hearst. Hearst went so far as to hire a team of detectives to search for clues. And the murder gave them the canvas to create a new style of journalism - the tabloid. News with more story than fact.

Collins has done extensive research of the time period and collected many sides to the story of the murder of the century. Though I do not usually read true crime novels, this is more of a complex look at our history using the lens of the one murder.

Collins, Paul. (2011). Murder of the Century. New York: Broadway Paperbacks.

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