Monday, July 27, 2015

Half-Blood (Ilyon Chronicles)

Title: Half-Blood 

Series: Ilyon Chronicles (Prequel Novella)

Year: 2015

Author: Jaye L. Knight

Summary: "The gasps and murmuring grew. Though some were hardly more than whispers, clear words reached Jace’s ears—dangerous, monster, animal, soulless. He tried to back away from their accusing eyes, but the collar pulled hard against his throat and held him in place."

For all his years as a slave, Jace has known nothing but the hatred people hold for his mixed blood—one half human, the other half the blood of a race considered monsters. Always, he is the outsider and quickly learns it is better to keep to himself. But, when his volatile ryrik blood leads him to do the unthinkable, he is thrown into a world of violence and bloodshed.

Forced to become a gladiator, Jace finds more and more of his heart dying as his master works to break down his will and turn him into the monster everyone believes he is. When a stranger interferes with his master’s harsh punishment, Jace’s world is upended again. But with it comes the possibility of hope that has long since died. Could the man possibly hold the key to escaping the hopeless darkness that is Jace’s life? Is there such a thing as life beyond the cruelty of slavery?
(from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Jace

Review: How Jaye knew we needed this book before we even asked for it still amazes me. I absolutely loved Resistance and I've been dying to get my hands on a copy of The King's Scrolls. Jace has proven himself an epic character again and again in my mind, so to get a chance to take a peek into his life before Rayad was truly amazing. If you call yourself any kind of fan of Jaye Knight's work, then you simply must read this book.

First off, it was a lot shorter than Resistance. I really wasn't sure what to expect reading this prequel, but even from my confused thoughts, Jaye blew me quickly away. I had been afraid at first to dive into it, lest by some terrible design the character of Jace that I had grown to respect in Resistance be damaged. Nope. No way. Instead, this novella opened up an entire new world of understanding who he really was. It added so much depth to him. I was dumbstruck. Pretty much.

I love that Jaye starts out with Jace as a younger boy. She takes us through his childhood, how he grows, what he learns from those he comes in contact with. The foreshadowing... the suspense... the desires... the pain. Wow. Instead of just throwing us directly into his gladiator fights with Jasper, Jaye gave us to see Jace before the fights. 

But the fights themselves! *whistles* I was concerned with how Jaye might handle the progress of the fights, as there were many of them over the course of... quite a long time. But she did marvelously. There were times I felt I was at the arena with Jace - fighting with him, or yelling from the sidelines. He lived up to every one of my expectations and hopes... and then of course, Jasper walked on the scene, and my heart just broke for Jace. 

Really, what more can I say than this book is a must for all Ilyon fans, fantasy lovers, and adventure nerds alike? I give five stars whole-heartedly.    

Advisory: Quite a bit of violence as Jace fights different opponents/enemies, so please expect some descriptions of that. Several characters are wounded and, as a result of his fighting, more than one death follows Jace, haunting him. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Half-Blood on Amazon!

*Please note that I was given an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.* 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Brothers and Betrayal (Tales of Taelis)

Title: Brothers and Betrayal

Series: Tales of Taelis 

Year: 2015

Author: Sarah Holman 

Summary: A boy, running for his life.
A princess, trying to save her people.
And an archer who seeks to defend the defenseless.

Bryon, after witnessing his brother’s murder, takes his sisters and flees into the woods to a mysterious figure known as The Archer who lives there. But though he finds temporary safety, bitterness threatens his heart.

Brianna only wants to help the people of Taelis, but her father, the king, seems bent on making life hard for all of them. She works tirelessly to save the kingdom from war, while secretly helping The Archer.
Join the adventure in… Brothers and Betrayal. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Brianna
~ Bryon
~ John

Review: If possible, this book was even better than the first! I don't know how Sarah did it, but she did! If you liked the first book, or if you like medieval stories, or if you just love adventures in general, you have to read this book!

Sarah's writing, I thought, in this book was stronger. The more she writes, the more she's developing her skill, and it's really a blessing to see. Just well done. I'm really looking forward to more tales from Taelis.

Brianna is the young princess, trying to save her father from ruin. Sure, he's the king and all, but his temper and mindset are such that he insults every noble and foreign ambassador coming through his gates. Without Brianna's interference, the kingdom would have long ago fallen with no trade and internal conflict. But trouble lies with more than just in the palace. Outside the town, outcasts gather in the woods to try to scratch out a living for themselves. Led by a man known to many as The Archer, they are aided by an anonymous benefactor inside the city. 

And then we've also got a third main character, a younger boy by the name of Bryon (keeping well within the "b" theme for this book). I liked Bryon a lot more than I thought I would, honestly. After reading the synopsis for this novel, I expected him to be a moody sort of man/hero (usually my least favorite type of character), but instead, Sarah made him real for me. I loved how his character developed. Absolutely amazing. 

The title, too, is so aptly chosen. This book really is all about brothers and betrayal. The brother theme is well woven throughout the entire novel, but the betrayal was a bit more tricky. At first, I was a little disappointed that the only betrayal came in the beginning of the novel, but plot twist! More betrayal in the end! I won't say what it was, of course, but it was awesome. I wanted it, but I didn't exactly expect it. Well done, Sarah.

You know what else I loved about this book? IT WAS ROBIN HOOD! Yes, rob from the rich to give to the poor. And very well done. I usually don't condone Robin Hood for the fact that he steals, but there's none of that in this novel.

Advisory: Just some fighting/injuries/illnesses, but well done for the tone of the book. And then some hints at a romance, but very light and very well done.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Click here to purchase Brothers and Betrayal on Amazon!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Michael Vey: Hunt for Jade Dragon

Title: Hunt for Jade Dragon

Series: Michael Vey (Book #4)

Year: 2014

Author: Richard Paul Evans

Summary: Michael and his friends must rescue a child prodigy as the thrilling action continues in this electrifying fourth installment of the #1 New York Times bestselling series!

Michael, Taylor, Ostin and the rest of the Electroclan head to China in search of a girl who may have discovered why Michael and his friends became electric. Her name is Lin Julung, or Jade Dragon, and she’s a child prodigy with an IQ higher than Einstein’s—and Ostin’s.

But Hatch gets to her first, and the Elgen are holding her prisoner in their Taiwan Starxource plant. Now the Voice wants Michael and the Electroclan to go to Taiwan and free her before Hatch can realize his dreams of an army of electric children.

The hunt for Jade Dragon is on, and it’s a race against time!
(from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Michael Vey
~ Taylor Ridley
~ Dr. Hatch
~ Ostin Liss
~ Jack
~ Nichelle
~ Ben

Review: Another electrifying tale from Richard Paul Evans! Having founded the Elctroclan, rescued his mother, fought off electric rats, survived the jungles of Peru, and blown up a yacht, Michael returns for yet another adventure - this time to save a young girl who has figured out the formula to make more electric people. If Hatch had the formula, there would be nothing left to stop him from taking over the world. Enter danger, desperation, and dares of the utmost capacity.

After saying goodbye to their families at an undisclosed ranch somewhere three hours from Los Angeles, Michael and the Electroclan travel to Taiwan where they are greeted with everything Chinese. I really like how Mr. Evans incorporated some of the country's culture into the book - especially with the food scenes! It gave a more authentic feel to the story.

While the other books had a lot of chapters dedicated to the bad guys' focus, this one didn't. There were a few chapters here and there written to show us what they were up to, but for the most part, the action stayed central on Michael. I kinda liked it better that way. 

One complaint that I have, though, is the amount of time spent on the members of the Electroclan. There are a lot of kids there, but I'd love to get to know them all better. McKenna, Abigail, Ian... they haven't really had any big parts, other than just being there for the adventure. Mr. Evans has taken the time during the different books of the series to focus a little more on certain characters and develop them more, so that's definitely a plus. I know I expressed an interest in Nichelle in a previous review, and I was not disappointed when she became more of a major character in this book. She probably became my almost favorite character. I'm hoping for more focus on different characters in the next books in the series.

There's also no disappointment for action in this novel! I was hanging on to the edge of my seat as the Electroclan escaped the Taiwan Elgen plant, and wow. Just wow. That was ultimate amazing right there. However, I did think the whole rescuing Jade deal at the end was a little rushed. It kinda felt like the rest of the book had gotten too long so the main goal of the book (rescuing the little girl) had to be stuck in and stuck in as fast as possible. I would have liked a little more information on the rescue.

Advisory: Lots of action, peril, danger... you know, the usual. Guns and explosives and some blood make appearances, but nothing I would deem out of tone for this book. Also some light girlfriend-boyfriend action with a few kisses and hand-holding. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Related Reviews: Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25
                              Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen
                              Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere

Click here to buy Hunt for Jade Dragon on Amazon!