Thought Provoking and Action Packed

WolfByWolfWolf by Wolf
By: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: October 20th 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

My Thoughts:
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book because the premise was very intriguing to me but the time period and subject matter was sensitive and could go wrong very easily. Thankfully, I felt this book was very well executed and the topics of World War II and the horrible treatment of the Jewish people were treated with care and respect.

This novel was incredibly fast paced and I found it easy to form an emotional attachment to the characters. Yael was a marvelous character who was bold, committed and though she had been through so much and had the ability to skin-shift she was still easy to relate to. I loved that Graudin added the paranormal element of skin-shifting and mixed it with alternative history. Her explanation to how Yael came about her ability was well thought out and plausible. I was worried this mix of alternate history and the paranormal might not work for me but it did.

The motorcycle racing element to the story added such a tense and suspenseful atmosphere and really had me flying through the pages to see what would happen next. In many action packed books the characters are sort of forgotten but not so in this novel. I was as drawn to the secondary characters as I was to Yael. The story flips from Yael’s present to her past. This gave the reader insight into her experiences prior to the race and really added to the story. I was heartbroken to read about her past but also so drawn to her struggles and rooting for her to succeed.

Because her success hinged on the downfall of others it caused me to really question her actions and what my thoughts were on how she was set to succeed. I loved this element of the book and felt that it added so much to Yael’s character. I was as mixed in emotions as she was- to see kindness from some of the contestants but to also not know their motivations. Be prepared though this book ended on a hell of a cliff-hanger. The type of cliff hanger where you are staring at that blank page after the end not believing that there aren’t words…how could that really be it? Give me the next book NOW PLEASE.

Final Thoughts:
Wolf by Wolf was a thought-provoking, action packed emotional read that left me wanting more. I felt that the subject matter was handled well and the characters were well developed and intriguing.

Review of Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

InkandBoneInk and Bone (The Great Library #1)
By: Rachel Caine
Release Date: July 7th 2015
Publisher: NAL
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:
Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

My Thoughts:
I’d heard of Rachel Caine but Ink and Bone was the first book I’ve read by her. Overall, I was blown away with the depth of the world building and characters introduced in this book. What an incredible story she’s woven about the Great Library (how amazing a subject for a novel to focus on). I love alternate histories and Ink and Bone has been one of my favorites I’ve read.

We meet our main character, Jess, in a prologue chapter when he’s a child and book runner for his father. The ownership of printed books was outlawed in this alternate world (the horror to imagine that!) so Jess’ family ran an underground book business. Jess was used by his father to literally run illegal books to buyers. Caine wrote such a strenuous scene displaying Jess’ job that pulled me in immediately and displayed the dangers of the world we’re being introduced to. I was appalled at his father for putting that on his children but also moved by Jess’ love for books at such an early age. The novel then picked up when Jess was a teenager and though he was much older the core of his character was the same.

Before reading Ink and Bone I didn’t read the summary so didn’t know that a good portion of the story would take place in an academy of sorts. I have always been a fan of academy settings so this was a welcome surprise for me. I enjoyed the side characters that Jess incorporated into his life though I was never as attached to them as I was to Jess or his instructor, Wolfe.

I took an immediate liking to Wolfe’s character and felt that he might just be my favorite character in the novel. His role was important to the story and felt that Caine did an incredible job creating a well rounded person. I love a curt instructor that you know has a heart of gold and Wolfe struck me as such immediately. I loved his closed off nature because it made me more curious to learn about his backstory.

The overall story was beautifully done and though the pacing was fairly slow the tension was high. I think my favorite aspect of this book was that quiet tension throughout the entire novel. Not one time while reading did I feel the characters were truly safe- there was an ever present dread I felt that really added to my reading experience.

And for folks wanting a rich world with little romance this book hits the mark. There are a few romances present but none of them take over the storyline. I loved that the characters were so much more than their love interests.

Final Thoughts:
I was very impressed with Ink and Bone and think it starts off a new series brilliantly and I can’t wait to see what happens next for these characters. Since I’ve not read any of Caine’s other books I can’t say how this measured up to her past work but I am a fan now and I’ll be checking out what other books she has published. Fans of fantasy and alternate history with a focus on intricate world building and well rounded characters will find this novel to their liking.

Review of Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

RebelMechanicsRebel Mechanics
By: Shanna Swendson
Release Date: July 14th 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children’s young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

My Thoughts:
I went into Rebel Mechanics with a bit of trepidation. I haven’t had the best luck with steampunk books so I was thinking this would fall into the same traps. I was so surprised with how enjoyable I found this story to be. I enjoyed that the book combined an alternate history with steampunk. This combination made for a really enticing read.

I was immediately absorbed into the world and main character, Verity. The pacing was fast and the steam-punk aspects were a good amount of the story but it didn’t drive the writing. I find that a lot of times it feels like a story was created to feature the steampunk machines but for this book it seemed like an aside to the story-line. I really loved that.

The society in Rebel Mechanics was broken into classes- the Magisters and then the folks with no magical ability. Of course there was division and hatred between the groups and really this drove the story. I found this not to be an entirely unique concept but it worked incredibly well and really, magic= happiness for Kristen. Swendson really captured a revolutionary atmosphere and it gave the book a historical feel though it was an alternate reality.

My favorite character hands down was Lord Henry. He reminded me a bit of the 10th Doctor which I adored. I couldn’t help but see him as David Tennant. Not a bad thing at all.

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Lord Henry was such a fun character and I’d be happy reading a story solely about him. His interactions with Verity were perfect and so cute. The other characters, like the children Verity is governance for, are well rounded and incredibly likeable. The rebels were understandable in their motives even if I didn’t always love the way they approached their cause.

As for the story in this one it was fun and not too heavy. It was a tad easy to predict and I saw the twists playing out before the reveals but honestly that didn’t detract from the story for me. I just found this book to be so engaging and really refreshing.

Final Thoughts:
I really loved Rebel Mechanics. I thought it was such an entertaining read that kept me glued from start to finish. I’m completely sold on these characters and can’t wait for more (there had better be a sequel).