15. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

Meditation Workshop by Philip Permutt, 100 pages, read by brian, on 04/02/2015

meditationIn this innovative workshop, popular meditationteacher and internationally acclaimed author Philip Permutt introducesbeginning meditators to techniques and exercises that will enable them to relaxthe body and empty the mind. Included are a specially recorded guidedmeditation and detailed sleeve notes by Philip.    

from goodreads.com

 

14. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Sabotage at Willow Woods by Carolyn Keene, 176 pages, read by Angie, on 04/13/2015

I haven’t read a Nancy Drew book since I was in elementary school and I am not sure they have improved with age. This is the fifth book in the Nancy Drew Diaries series. Nancy is in high school and has two best friends, George and Bess. George’s cousin Carrie Kim is running for city council on a platform of a new sports complex for the neighboring high school. Someone doesn’t want her to build the complex though and starts sending her threatening notes. Nancy goes undercover at the high school to find out who is doing it.

First of all the title and cover of this book has nothing to do with the story. Nancy never goes into the woods and even though Willow Woods would be destroyed for the new sports complex there is no sabotage. The story was pretty tedious and I ended up skimming most of the book. It is overly simple and not well written. Fans of Nancy Drew might appreciate this new series, but true mystery fans are going to look elsewhere.

14. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Drama, Fiction, Paula, Teen Books

I Was Here by Forman, Gayle, 270 pages, read by Paula, on 04/11/2015

Cody and Meg were inseparable…
Until they weren’t.

When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything;so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open; until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is a pitch-perfect blend of mystery, tragedy, and romance. Gayle Forman has given us an unflinchingly honest portrait of the bravery that it takes to live after devastating loss.”

 

Third of book of Gayle Forman’s that I have read.  I love her style.

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction

The Contract by Derek Jeter, 176 pages, read by Angie, on 04/13/2015

The Contract is the first in a planned series of ten by Derek Jeter. It is semi-autobiographical and deals with Derek’s first contract. The contract is between Derek and his parents and it is the set of rules he has to live by in order to attain his goal of being the shortstop for the New York Yankees. His parents are very supportive of his dream, but they have realistic expectations of what he is going to have to do in order to live his dream. In this book, Derek is in 3rd grade and eager to play shortstop during summer baseball. He is disappointed when he is placed on a team where the coach’s son gets the favored spot. Coach Kozlowski not only gives Pete the shortstop position and number 13, but he also ignores Pete’s unsportsmanlike behavior and multiple errors. Derek has to work hard to live up to his contract, respect the coach and his fellow players and do well in school.

This is a better than average middle grade sports story. My one big issue with the book is the fact that the kids are all in 3rd grade. I’m not sure why it has such young characters when all the things that happen seem more like 5th-6th grade situations. All of the baseball stuff seems implausible when the characters are only 8 years old. The kids also don’t talk and act like 8 year olds either. I think the book would have worked better if the kids would have been older. However, if you take away the age of the characters, the situations seem realistic. I also liked that the book doesn’t just focus on play-by-plays of the games, but actually delves into Derek’s life off the field. I think sports fans will enjoy this one even if the readers will be much older than the characters.

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction

Ms. Rapscott's Girls by Elise Primavera, 272 pages, read by Angie, on 04/12/2015

Five little girls of the busiest parents in the world become pupils at Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. Beatrice, Fay, Mildred, Annabelle and Dahlia are all mailed in their special boxes to Ms. Rapscott. The girls have no idea how to act because they have never been taught by their terribly busy parents. Beatrice shouts everything, Mildred spends all day in her pajamas watching her parents on TV, Annabelle reads the Encyclopedia Britannica, and Fay is lost in a family of double octuplets. Dahlia’s box was not properly fastened and is hopelessly lost. The girls must learn how to Get Lost on Purpose so that they can Find Their Way as well as more basic things like baths and brushing their teeth. Ms. Rapscott’s is situated in a lighthouse on the rough seas and provides the girls with comfy beds and uniforms as well as lots of birthday cake and hot cocoa. By the end of the term when they finally find Dahlia the girls have learned how to behave properly and take care of themselves just in time to be sent back home.

This is a book for the younger chapter book reader. It isn’t quite a beginning chapter book but is definitely geared towards 7 or 8 year olds. It is quirky and fun with exciting adventures and silly circumstances. The girls each have their own personalities and defining traits which makes them easy to tell apart. The illustrations are wonderful and greatly add to the story. I’m not sure if this is going to be a series or not, but the ending leaves things open for further adventures.

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sarah

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson, 338 pages, read by Sarah, on 04/12/2015

  Single Kitty and her best friend, Frieda, own a small book shop during the 1960’s.  One night after painting her bedroom, Kitty falls asleep and dreams of a wonderful family complete with loving husband and a housekeeper.  She wakes up feeling a loss for what might have been.  These dreams continue and become so real, that Kitty doesn’t want to wake up alone anymore.  This book is very good, but I figured out the plot twist early on.  This book will engage your mind and compel you to keep reading!

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kim K, Romance, Thriller/Suspense

Crazy for her by Sandra Owens, 306 pages, read by Kim K, on 04/12/2015

When his best friend and fellow Navy SEAL, Evan Prescott, died in his arms on the battlefield, Logan Kincaid gave his word to watch over Evan’s widow. But for two years he kept his distance…torn between honoring his solemn vow and succumbing to his secret love for his fallen comrade’s wife. But when Dani Prescott desperately reaches out to Logan for the help only he can give, he rushes to her side—determined to fight for her safety as fiercely as he fights against his own buried desire.

Someone claiming to be her husband is stalking Dani and her infant daughter, making them virtually prisoners in their remote country home. Logan’s elite military training and high-risk security expertise have outmatched more dangerous enemies. But the real challenge will be the burning temptation that threatens to overcome Logan whenever Dani is near…especially when she reveals her own hidden passion.

–from Goodreads.com

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Melody K, Romance

Come to me recklessly by A.L. Jackson, 448 pages, read by Melody, on 04/12/2015

His heart was turned off…
Until she turned him on…

Christopher Moore gave up on the idea of love years ago. Now, his life is an endless string of parties and an even longer string of girls. Enjoying the physical perks with none of the emotional mess, he’s convinced everyone that he’s satisfied—everyone but himself.

Samantha Schultz has moved on with her life. Finishing her student teaching and living with her boyfriend, she’s deluded herself into believing she’s content. But there is one boy she never forgot—her first love—and she keeps the memory of him locked up tight. She will never allow any man to break her the way Christopher did.

When Christopher’s sister and her family move into a new neighborhood, Christopher is completely unprepared to find Samantha living at the end of the street. Memories and unspent desires send them on collision course of sex, lies, and lust. But when guilt and fear send Samantha running, Christopher will have to fight for what has always been his.

–from Goodreads.com

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Short Stories

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman, 310 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/23/2015

Gaiman’s newest book is exactly what you might expect. It’s a collection of short stories and poems that exemplify his style. An introduction explains the title (though I am of the opinion that pretty much any Gaiman story written for an audience older than small children could easily be titled similarly) and individually addresses the origins of each of the works contained in the book. It’s kind of nice to have those bits of commentary in the beginning. I was a little surprised to find that I had already read a couple of the stories in other contexts (“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” – in its stand-alone format with illustrations- and “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”). It turns out that all of the stories have been published elsewhere, which was slightly disappointing. I suppose it is nice to have them all collected rather than attempting to track them all down individually. There’s a lot of variance in tone and subject, though they are all still distinctly “Gaiman”. I was extra-happy about the final story, “Black Dog”, which takes place in the American Gods universe. I wouldn’t recommend this for the new-to-Gaiman reader, but for long-time fans, it’s quite the treat.
13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier, 320 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/18/2015

1932, Sydney: the Australian government has outlawed guns, so gangsters have perfected the art of killing with razors. The most dangerous part of town, Razorhurst, is home to two rival gangs known for their ruthlessness.
Kelpie has been living on the streets for years. How many, she’s not sure. She doesn’t even know how old she is nor does she know her parents. She was raised by Old Ma until Old Ma died. Then Kelpie was raised by Old Ma’s ghost. Now, Kelpie knows enough not to trust every ghost she meets, but heads into the boarding house looking for the apples a local ghost had promised were there. Instead of apples, Kelpie finds a young woman standing over her sliced-up boyfriend. That young woman is Dymphna Campbell, Razorhurst’s top prostitute, also known as the “Angel of Death” since none of her boyfriends seem to survive. She works for the infamous Gloriana Nelson, one of the two crime bosses that have given their Sydney neighborhood its name. Dymphna and Kelpie could not possibly be any more different, but they have one major characteristic in common: they can both see and hear ghosts. Dymphna has been successful in hiding her ability; even ghosts don’t realize she can see them. Kelpie believes she’s the only one who sees them, but she’s at least learned not to speak to them in the company of other living folks. The dead man that Kelpie and Dymphna meet over is Glory’s top standover man and Dymphna’s boyfriend. And his ghost will not shut up. Kelpie wants no more to do with these people, but Dymphna has actually been hoping to meet Kelpie for a long time. Dymphna intends to take Kelpie under her wing and help to navigate life with their unique shared ability. Kelpie helps to get Dymphna away from authorities as they arrive to investigate the dead body. The girls then embark on a tense, day-long mission to elude Mr. Davidson and the authorities while not making anything worse for Glory. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll both have lives left to salvage at the end of the day.
I loved, loved, loved this book. Not only did I get to read about an era of history that I knew literally nothing about, but the story itself was great. It’s hard not to be a little wary of historical fiction that uses a supernatural element, but in this case, the ghost aspect was fascinating. The writing was fantastic; its use of period slang genuinely emphasized the sense of place. Kelpie and Dymphna are both amazing and complex characters. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out (without slowing down the plot any). The pacing is swift, especially since the entire book’s action takes place within a 24-hour time span. It never sacrifices its integrity for the sake of brevity, however. Instead, it is refreshingly concise. One gets the sense that there’s not a single wasted word. This may not be a book for everyone, but for those looking for an experience both educational and entertaining, Razorhurst will be a rare treat.

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Ant Colony by Michael DeForge, 112 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/14/2015

This is, by far, one of the strangest graphic novels I have ever read. As the title implies, it is about an ant colony. Or, more specifically, the collapse of an ant colony. The narrative follows several ants: a homosexual pair of males, an adolescent ant and his amoral father, a police officer with the gift of meta-narrative and an infertile female ant (only the queen is fertile in the black ant colony). Things get particularly weird when the spiders come to the area. The fluids produced by the mating spiders have a hallucinogenic effect on a red ant colony which causes them to begin attacking the black ants. In the meantime, the adolescent ant has accidentally ingested powered earthworm and subsequently gained prophetic powers. The adolescent ant’s amoral father has decided it would be entertaining to destroy the egg sacks he’s supposed to be guarding. War breaks out amongst the two ant colonies, which leaves the anthill all but abandoned. The brutal war kills off most of the ants, leaving the survivors to strike out on their own.
DeForge’s artwork is totally unique. Yes, each insect is identifiable, but they’re not depicted in the way in which we’re used to seeing them drawn. The spiders have a distinctly wolfish quality to them and appear to have ingested far too many stimulants. The centipede has taken on the form of a stretch limo. The black ants are distinguished amongst one and other by the bumps on their heads and their colorful, visible internal organs. And then there are the bees…. The best way I can think of to describe this book is that it’s a bit like an ant-based version of Watership Down – on peyote. It’s crazy. It’s funny. It’s confusing. It’s kind of brilliant.

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books

Eden West by Pete Hautman, 320 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/13/2015

Seventeen-year-old Jacob lives a life very different from the average American teen.  He’s spent his entire life living in the same twelve square miles of rural Montana, a fenced-in compound known as “Nodd” or “Eden West”.  He’s a member of a group called the Grace, an insular cult that has its members awaiting the arrival of archangel Zerachiel who will spare them all the horrors of the apocalypse.  Jacob is dutiful and devoted to his faith, but things cease to be simple for him when he meets the teenaged daughter of the rancher whose land is adjacent to Nodd. Contact with outsiders is discouraged, but Jacob can’t help but be intrigued.  Around the same time, a new family joins the Grace.  This new family includes a boy who is around Jacob’s age, Tobias.  Tobias is less-than-thrilled to have been uprooted and moved to the compound by his mother and sister. Jacob attempts to introduce Tobias to the ways of the Grace, but he soon finds that indoctrination of the unwilling is harder that it seems.  Complicating matters even more is the appearance of a wolf who has been attacking the sheep tended by the Grace.  Is Jacob’s faith strong enough to adapt to these new changes or will the outside world eventually win out?
Questioning faith is not a particularly new topic for Pete Hautman to tackle, but when he does, he really does it well.  Jacob is a surprisingly sympathetic character.  Readers will rarely, if ever, agree with his assessment of the outside world, but the struggles he undertakes are familiar just the same.  Interesting thematic components round out what is otherwise a fairly straight-forward, coming-of-age tale. Secondary characters are well-developed and provide a fascinating contrast to the youth of Nodd.  Issues of faith are treated with sensitivity and never feel forced.  This would make a great discussion book for older readers.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher.  I am not in any way compensated for a favorable review (other than my own personal edification).

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Ms. Marvel, Volume One: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, 120 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/08/2015

What’s not to love about this graphic novel? Kamala is a teenager living in Jersey City. Her life revolves around her family, her faith (Islam) and her love of superheroes. She’s a bit of a fan-girl, really. She dreams of a more exciting life, but her super-strict parents are quick to ground her whenever she gets even remotely out-of-line. In a classic teenager move, Kamala sneaks out to go to a party hosted by some of the popular kids at school. Quickly realizing that these kids would prefer to poke fun at her Muslim upbringing than actually be her friend, Kamala takes off on her own. All of a sudden, something mysterious happens. A strange fog rolls in, causing Kamala to pass out. She has a vision of superheroes speaking to her which ultimately ends up in Kamala becoming the new Ms. Marvel. Kamala now has shape-shifting powers that she’s not exactly sure how to execute on command, which makes for some entertaining scenes. It also serves to further complicate her relationship with her parents as Kamala becomes determined to live up to her new (secret)moniker.
I’m definitely interested to see where this series goes. Kamala is a great character; she’s easy to relate to and is absolutely likeable. The very idea of a Muslim-American teenaged girl superhero is pretty progressive, though that aspect is almost over-done in this comic. The art and writing are great and the storyline is thoroughly entertaining. Highly recommended.

13. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Autobiographies, Katy, Memoirs, NonFiction

The glass castle : a memoir by Jeannette Walls, 288 pages, read by Katy, on 04/12/2015

The-Glass-Castle-by-Jeannette-WallsThe Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing–a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

From www.goodreads.com.

Loved this book!

12. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Prairie Fire by E.K. Johnston, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 04/12/2015

Prairie Fire is the second and final book in the Story of Owen. It picks up a few months after the first book. Siobhan, Owen and Sadie are joining the Oil Watch as planned despite the terrible events they experienced. Owen and Sadie are dragon slayers and Siobhan has joined as Owen’s bard. She is determined to tell his story despite the fact that her hands no longer work as they did before. She can no longer play musical instruments or compose music, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still hear the song around her.

The Oil Watch is not like they expected. Owen and Siobhan angered the Canadian government with their heroics on Manitoulin even though it endeared them to the people. So not everyone is a fan when they arrive at base. There are a lot of politics at play as the conservative government tries to suppress the new style of dragon slaying Owen is advocating. Despite the opposition they settle in to training and their first posting. They meet a lot of other dragon slayers and support staff and learn more about dragon slayer.

Dragon slaying is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of stomach. It is hard work battling giant lizards who breath fire and acid. It is also extremely dangers as our heroes find out.

This is one of those books that when you finish you are crying horribly and throwing the book across the room. Of course, you immediately go lovingly pick it up and flip back through the story to see what you missed. When I started the book I thought it wasn’t nearly as exciting or interesting as the first one. The action is a bit slower as our heroes are going through basic training and their first posting. But that all changes during the final chapters and you are left wondering what the heck just happened to your world.

This is one of the best series I have read in a long while. The thought and detail that went into the world-building is amazing. I would actually like for E.K. Johnston to write a history of the this world as her next book. I was always fascinated by the little snippets of alternative history she provides about this world and Canada in particular. I wouldn’t even mind more books about the dragon slayers of this story just anything to stay in this world.

11. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 04/11/2015

The fourth book in the Fairyland saga takes us away from September and Saturday and introduces a new character to love. Hawthorn is a troll baby who loves being a troll till one day when the Red Wind decides he is going to the human world as a changeling. Hawthorn becomes Thomas and looks human, but never really fits in to the human world. There are too many confusing rules to remember like “smiling is very complicated. Scowling works better but you are not allowed to do it except in private” and “I will understand everything when I am Grown-Up. A Grown-Up is a Person Taller Than Me” and “if something is good, it is off-limits”. Thomas keeps a list of the rules in Inspector Balloon, his notebook, but they don’t always help him navigate the human world. They do help when he starts school and introduces the kids in his class to Inspector Balloon though. He particularly likes Tamburlaine, a girl who doesn’t seem to fit in either. Together they figure out that they are changelings and can do magic, which ends up transporting them back to Fairyland and all kinds of mischief.

Things I learned:

“A Changeling is rough and wild, vaguely unhinged, a bit of ariddle, a bit of an explosive, and altogether maniacal when its fur is stroked the wrong way, which is always!”

“A choice is like a jigsaw puzzle. Your worries are the corner pieces, and your hopes are the edge pieces, and you are the middle pieces, all funny-shaped and stubborn. But the picture, the picture was there all along, just waiting for you to get on with it.”

“If you trample upon the rules you may be ticketed, or executed or elected to high office and given a splendid parade.”

“All children are required to attend School, which is like a party to which everyone forgot to bring punch, or hats, or fiddles, and none of the games have good prizes.”

I adore these books. I think Valente might be one of the most creative authors out there. Her way with words reminds me of Terry Pratchett in a way. A reader could spend a lot of time just pouring over her words and phrases. There is something magical and mystical and funny and ironic about the way she writes. I love all her books and will probably read everything she writes.

11. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Island of Shipwrecks by Lisa McMann, 464 pages, read by Angie, on 04/10/2015

Alex and company have survived falling off the world, but are now stranded on the Island of Shipwrecks. Their ship has been destroyed, but they are able to bring it to the island and scavenge supplies from other wrecks. Unfortunately, they also have to deal with the constant hurricane that hangs over the island. Back on Quill, Aaron is planning yet another attack on Artime, this time with the help of the Quillitary. Alex and the rest of the stranded heroes have no idea what is happening back on Quill or just how dire the situation is about to get. Things progress in unexpected ways and both Alex and Aaron have to deal with situations they never thought possible.

I am really enjoying this series. I do wish the last two books were already out so I didn’t have to wait to find out how things are going to turn out. I feel like this book moved just a bit slower than some of the other books. The time on Shipwreck Island was not as exciting as Pirate Island or the Island of Legends. I am interested to see what happens in the next books as Alex figures out how to battle the new enemy of Gondoleery and save Aaron from the Island of Shipwrecks.

11. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Island of Legends by Lisa McMann, 400 pages, read by Angie, on 04/08/2015

Magic has been restored and Lani and Samheed rescued. Just when the Unwanteds are taking a break, the island is attacked, which leaves them with more problems than before. But that doesn’t stop Alex from going forward with the plans to fulfill his promise to Sky and rescue her mother from the Pirate Island. The journey takes them beyond Warbler and beyond Pirate Island to the last island in the chain. The quest is not without its dangers as they discover both monsters and friends in the sea. Alex is coming to terms with his new power as Mage and trying to deal with his feelings for Sky. Aaron is also exploring his power as he discovers he is more like his brother than previously thought.

This was another exciting edition to the Unwanteds story. I really enjoy exploring all these other islands with our heroes even as I wonder about the sense in leaving Artime without its strongest fighters when danger still lurks in Quill. This book, like most of the previous ones, ends on a cliff-hanger which made me want to grab the next book immediately.

11. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Island of Fire by Lisa McMann, 464 pages, read by Angie, on 04/07/2015

Island of Fire picks up where Island of Silence left off and things do not look good for our heroes. Artime is gone, Mr. Today is dead and the Unwanteds are in desperate straits. They have no food, no water and no magic. They are leaderless and vulnerable to attack from Quill. Alex is now the head mage, but he has no idea how to restore magic or to save his friends on Warbler Island. Mr. Today’s death left him alone and powerless with no idea how to change things. Lani and Samheed have been captured by the silent residents of Warbler. They have been collard into silence and blinded. They  have no idea what is happening on Quill or why Alex has not come to rescue them. All they have is each other and the hope that they will find a way home. Alex becomes more and more isolated as his attempts to save Artime fail. He starts relying on newcomer Sky as a confident. Aaron continues to grow in power and appoints himself High Priest after killing Mr. Today and imprisoning Gunner Haluki.

These books just continue to get better and better. I love that we are now exploring the world outside Artime and meeting people from the other islands. Alex and Aaron are both maturing and dealing with events that most teens their age do not have to deal with. I enjoyed the different ways they reacted to the death of Mr. Today and the destruction of Artime. My one quibble is the fact that both Alex and Aaron are teenagers and have become the leaders of their people. You wouldn’t think adults would be interested in following a young man when there are people with a lot more experience. But of course this is a book for kids so it makes sense that the kids would become the leaders.

11. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Island of Silence by Lisa McMann, 416 pages, read by Angie, on 04/06/2015

The first battle in the war between Artime and Quill has been fought, but the war is far from over. High Priest Justine is dead and the gates of Artime are open for all of Quill. Necessaries flock to the magical world to escape the drudgery of their lives. Artime welcomes the newcomers and allows visits between the two worlds; however, tensions still run high with the Wanteds in power. Aaron has fallen from power, but is determined to climb back up. He starts gathering new allies and preparing to keep the fight with Artime going. The battle with Quill has also made Mr. Today realize he needs to train a successor. He chooses reluctant Alex despite the fact that he is still young and learning. When two strangers wash up on Artime’s shores things get even more complicated. Who are these kids and why do they have iron chokers around there necks and why can’t they speak? Sky and Crow have escaped from another island where they were slaves. Alex, Lani, Meghan and Samheed head to Warbler Island to investigate. Unfortunately things do not go as planned and Alex is forced to choose between his friends in order to escape leaving Lani and Samheed behind. Just as they approach Artime, magic disappears leaving the Artimeans vulnerable to an attack from Quill. The book ends on a desperate cliffhanger that leaves the reader reaching for book three immediately.

The action ramps up in this darker sequel to The Unwanteds. I immediately wanted to start reading the next book as soon as I finished this one (and of course I did). Alex and Aaron are both left to explore their power and figure out how to be leaders. It is interesting how similar and different their paths are. I liked that we got off of Quill and visited another island in this world. The connections between Warbler and Quill are interesting and surprising and left me with additional questions about the creation of Quill. This series is extremely popular and deservedly so. I am thoroughly enjoying it.