Review: The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Published by Orbit on August 4, 2015
Series: The Broken Earth, #1
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, fantasy, post-apocalyptic
Format & Pages: paperback, 468
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Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

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Review: Zaria Fierce and the Secret of the Gloomwood Forest, by Keira Gillett

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, by Keira Gillett

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of the Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett
Published by Keira Gillett on March 6, 2015
Series: Zaria Fierce, #1
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, fantasy, middle grade
Format & Pages: e-book, 208
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“Come here Princess, and let me eat you.”

On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.

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Review: Pacific Fire, by Greg Van Eekhout


Pacific Fire by Greg Van Eekhout
Published by Tor Books on January 27, 2015
Series: Daniel Blackland, #2
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, dystopia, fantasy, young adult
Format & Pages: hardcover, 336
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Pacific Fire: Another thrilling ride through Greg van Eekhout’s wildly imaginative world of California Bones, featuring entertaining new characters and a dangerous magical plot unfolding in Los Angeles.

I’m Sam. I’m just this guy.

Okay, yeah, I’m a golem created from the substance of his own magic by the late Hierarch of Southern California. With a lot of work, I might be able to wield magic myself. I kind of doubt it, though. Not like Daniel Blackland can.

Daniel’s the reason the Hierarch’s gone and I’m still alive. He’s also the reason I’ve lived my entire life on the run. Ten years of never, ever going back to Los Angeles. Daniel’s determined to protect me. To teach me.

But it gets old. I’ve got nobody but Daniel. I’ll never do anything normal. Like attend school. Or date a girl.

Now it’s worse. Because things are happening back in LA. Very bad people are building a Pacific firedrake, a kind of ultimate weapon of mass magical destruction. Daniel seemed to think only he could stop them. Now Daniel’s been hurt. I managed to get us to the place run by the Emmas. (Many of them. All named Emma. It’s a long story.) They seem to be healing him, but he isn’t going anyplace soon.

Do I even have a reason for existing, if it isn’t to prevent this firedrake from happening? I’m good at escaping from things. Now I’ve escaped from Daniel and the Emmas, and I’m on my way to LA.

This may be the worst idea I ever had.

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Review & Book vs. Movie: Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Published by Vintage on June 14, 2016 (first published July 2002)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, science fiction
Format & Pages: paperback, 281
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Ted Chiang’s first published story, “Tower of Babylon,” won the Nebula Award in 1990. Subsequent stories have won the Asimov’s SF Magazine reader poll, a second Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Sidewise Award for alternate history. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992. Story for story, he is the most honored young writer in modern SF.

Now, collected here for the first time are all seven of this extraordinary writer’s stories so far-plus an eighth story written especially for this volume.

What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven’s other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others.

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Review: Select, by Marit Heisenberg


Select by Marit Weisenberg
Published by Charlesbridge Teen on October 3, 2017 (expected)
Series: The Select, #1
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, romance, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 352
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Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school.

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?

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Review: Fairest, by Marissa Meyer


Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Published by Square Fish on February 2, 2016
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: paperback, 228
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Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

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Review: Win, by Vera Nazarian


Win by Vera Nazarian
Published by Norilana Books on July 11, 2017
Series: The Atlantis Grail, #3
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, fantasy, romance, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 949
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The Games are Forever!
It’s one thing to Qualify and Compete…
Now she must Win.

Gwen Lark, nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl, is among the lucky ones. She’s one of several million teenage refugees to escape the extinction-level asteroid barreling towards Earth and reach the ancient colony planet of Atlantis.

But Atlantis is a strange new world with higher gravity and a blazing white sun, where nothing is as expected. The new arrivals from Earth will now belong to the majority class of non-citizens who face a lifetime of hard work and limited rights.

To make matters worse, Gwen’s rare and powerful talent […] is viewed as a potential weapon to be exploited by the Imperator, as well as a threat to the Kassiopei Imperial Dynasty and its uncompromising control over the people of Atlantis.

A last-minute heartbreak prior to arrival turns to joy, when Gwen receives a declaration of love from an unexpected source. The Wedding date is set, but before she can be joined with her true love, she is forced to compete in the brutal and deadly Games of the Atlantis Grail to save herself, her family, friends, and everything she cares about. Once again, her intelligence, quick thinking skills, resilience, and creativity are challenged to the breaking point.

The Games are monumental, intricate, lethal . . . and the Games are Forever.

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Review: California Bones, by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones, by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout
Published by Tor Books on June 10, 2014
Series: Daniel Blackland, #1
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, dystopia, fantasy, young adult
Format & Pages: hardcover, 304
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When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian.

When Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now, years later, Daniel is a petty thief with a forged identity. Hiding amid the crowds in Los Angeles—the capital of the Kingdom of Southern California—Daniel is trying to go straight. But his crime-boss uncle has a heist he wants Daniel to perform: break into the Hierarch’s storehouse of magical artifacts and retrieve Sebastian’s sword, an object of untold power.

For this dangerous mission, Daniel will need a team he can rely on, so he brings in his closest friends from his years in the criminal world. There’s Moth, who can take a bullet and heal in mere minutes. Jo Alverado, illusionist. The multitalented Cassandra, Daniel’s ex. And, new to them all, the enigmatic, knowledgeable Emma, with her British accent and her own grudge against the powers-that-be. The stakes are high, and the stage is set for a showdown that might just break the magic that protects a long-corrupt regime.

Extravagant and yet moving, Greg van Eekhout’s California Bonesis an epic adventure set in a city of canals and secrets and casual brutality–different from the world we know, yet familiar and true.

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Review: Cress, by Marissa Meyer

Cress, by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Published by Square Fish on January 27, 2015
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #3
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, fantasy, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: paperback, 582
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Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker; unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

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Review: Ash and Quill, by Rachel Caine

Ash and Quill, by Rachel Caine

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
Published by Berkley on July 11, 2017 (expected)
Series: The Great Library, #3
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, fantasy, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 368
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The unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire unite to save the Great Library of Alexandria from itself in this electrifying adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealousy guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny….

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library….

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