Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Timepiece by Myra McEntire (Hourglass book 2)

"A threat from the past could destroy the future."

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read Hourglass, Stop! I don't want to ruin one of my favorite series for you.

Kaleb Ballard’s parents were time travelers, just like his friends Emerson Cole and Michael Weaver. Kaleb’s ability is empathy, to sense emotions of his close friends and those he touches. Now Kaleb and Emerson’s lives have been changed forever by his father’s former partner, Jack Landers. Jack manipulated time to bring Emerson to Ivy Springs, Tennessee after the accident that caused the death of her parents. He also killed Kaleb’s father and stole enough memories from his mother to land her into a coma. Now Jack is on the loose and time travel seems to be in flux.

Only those with the time travel gene were able to see rips; people “stuck in time superimposed on the present”’ but now Kaleb is seeing them as well. On the night that Emerson’s brother hosts a masquerade party at his restaurant, Kaleb sees rips everywhere. When Jack appears with a gun, Kaleb seeks revenge for those he loves and cares about. Jack tells Kaleb that “killing him would be the worst mistake of his life.” The gun fires which breaks a mirror and Jack disappears. Kaleb then notices a man entering the restaurant through a veil. He says his name is Poe and he is there to deliver a message to the Hourglass. Their actions in going back in time to first save Liam Ballard and then Michael have disrupted the time travel continuum. He grabs Emerson, pulls her into the veil with him and threatens to slit her throat. Poe further states that Emerson’s ignorance of the law is no excuse for her saving Michael without suffering the consequences. He slits her throat and tells Kaleb to find Jack Landers in order to have any hope of repairing the damage. If the Hourglass is successful, they can choose which timeline they wish to follow. If Jack isn’t located, time will be rewound and a timeline will be chosen for them. There is a possibility that the timeline could be repaired with no consequences to Liam, Michael or Emerson’s lives. The Hourglass has until midnight on October 31 to find Jack Landers. Poe pushes Emerson out of the veil to Kaleb and she is unharmed.

What has happened to the time travel continuum? Who is Poe working for and what do they want Jack Landers for? Can Jack be found in time? Why would Kaleb killing Jack be a mistake? Will Kaleb’s mother wake up from her coma? Can Kaleb repair his relationships with his father and Michael? And what timeline will the Hourglass choose to follow if they are successful?

The story of the Hourglass will conclude with Infinityglass in 2013.

Once again I feel in love with Myra McEntire’s story. A bit skeptical at first changing POV, I loved Kaleb through all of his faults and becoming is own man. Cannot wait to see where the final book goes!

Visit Myra McEntire's website.
Visit Murphy's Law Coffee, a fan site for the Hourglass series.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read either Graceling or Fire, Stop! You will be lost reading Bitterblue.

"How can she find her place as a true queen when her kingdom is only just waking up from the thirty-five-year spell of a madman?"

Bitterblue has ruled as Queen of Monsea for the past nine years. Her country is trying to wake up from the thirty-five-year nightmare that was her father’s rule. Leck’s Grace allowed everyone to believe the lies he told and endure his cruelty. Initially helped by her uncle, King Ror of Lienid, she still heavily relies on the advisors of her father. Now eighteen, Bitterblue is indecisive and struggles to rule a kingdom she truly knows very little about. Her advisors are pressuring her to marry one of the unwed princes of the Seven Kingdoms; possibly one of her cousins Prince Skye or Prince Po of Lienid. Bitterblue refuses to discuss the matter.

In her private quarters, Bitterblue strikes up a conversation with Fox, a castle servant with the Grace of fearlessness. She asks Fox how she is about to enter the castle at all hours and learns of the protocol her own housekeeper has established. An idea formulates in Bitterblue’s mind to don a disguise and sneak out of the castle. Her aim is to discover what lies beyond the palace walls that she is missing.

 Bitterblue begins sneaking out undetected at night and soon discovers a story room under one of the city’s bridges. There she hears a story about her father’s reign and cruelty that she knows all too well. She inadvertently draws the attention of a young man that she realizes looks Lienid but isn’t when she steals some coins to pay for her drink from a drunken man at the bar. He watches her and Bitterblue realizes that his violet eyes are two different shades and wonders what his Grace could be. She notices that he steals from a man’s coat pocket, collects his friend and leaves.

 Bitterblue continues her nightly adventures and soon becomes addicted to hearing the stories. She also sees the Graceling thief and his friend everywhere she goes. They eventually strike up a conversation. Saf, the Graceling thief, claims he only steals what has previously been stolen. He is Monsean but was raised on a Lienid ship by sailors. Saf came to spend time with his sister and met Teddy, who gave him a job in his print shop. Bitterblue keeps her true identity a secret but reveals that she works in the Palace as a baker and they accept her story.
An attack breaks out in a story room one night and Saf instinctively steps in front of Bitterblue to protect her. She notices Teddy looking ill and Saf tells her to offer him her shoulder because he is drunk. When they get outside, Bitterblue discovers Teddy has a knife in his stomach. Saf sends her to retrieve the one healer he trusts and bring him back to Teddy’s shop. She runs and soon realizes the gravity of the situation. Bitterblue finds herself going back to the palace to retrieve her own Graced healer, Madlen. Madlen goes with Bitterblue to treat Teddy and promises to keep her identity a secret. After a long night, Teddy is stable but not out of the woods yet. Saf is extremely grateful, yet wonders how a palace baker could bring the Queen’s own Graced healer to help Teddy and accomplish what no other healer could. He offers to walk her back to the palace so that the Queen won’t be without her morning bread.
Upon sneaking back into her bedroom, Bitterblue is startled to discover Po waiting for her. He tells her that the Council has overthrown the King of Nander and they are concerned that she may be having challengers to her sovereignty or unexplained attacks. She wonders about the attack on Teddy and Po questions what she was doing with the Graceling outside the castle in the wee hours of the morning. She skirts around the question and Po lets her know that he will not rat her out today but doesn’t promise to keep her secret. Later Bitterblue and her chief advisor meet with Lord Danzhol who objects to his town being chartered and wishes to marry her. When Danzhol realizes he will not be getting his way, he knocks her advisor unconscious and attempts to kidnap her. After a struggle, Bitterblue stabs Danzhol and breaks down as Po and her guard comes to her aid.

 Soon Bitterblue finds herself in the middle of several difficult situations, struggling to do what she believes is right. She agrees to house the Council’s campaign against Estill in Monsea, even though the ramifications for her people could be deadly. None of her advisors are willing to discuss Leck or his atrocities. They attempt to push Bitterblue forward and refuse to let her correct the damage to Monsea by Leck. Bitterblue is confused as she finds her feelings for Saf changing, even though he doesn’t know her true identity.

 "But if Leck is dead, why isn’t it over?” Will Bitterblue be able to set Leck’s wrongs right? How is Leck still controlling the people of Monsea eight years after his death? What are her advisors not telling her and why? What happens when Saf and Teddy discover Bitterblue’s true identity? Why is Po struggling with the secret of his Grace? Can Bitterblue become the Queen she desires to be?

Fans of Graceling and Fire get to revisit some of their favorite characters and will be left waiting for further adventures in the Graceling Realm.

Visit the Graceling Realm webite.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

The day started out like any other in Monument, Colorado. Mr. Reed, the high school bus driver, was late as usual, coming just after 7 am. Mrs. Wooly, the middle/elementary driver, was on time. Dean and Alex Grieder climb aboard their respective buses and head towards school. Looking around the bus, Dean notices the usual crowd of kids he doesn’t fit in with. There is Niko Mills, aka “Brave Hunter Man” who lives with his grandfather at the base of the mountain and supposedly lives off the land. Jake Simonsen, the jock football player who recently moved from Texas, is talking with Astrid Heyman, a champion diver on the swim team, about making money selling concessions at the football games. Josie Miller is chatting with her friend Trish Greenstein. Before too long, a tinging sound comes from the roof of the bus. ting is soon replaced by TING and a hail storm of epic proportions strikes.

By 7:15, both buses reach the parking lot of the local Greenway superstore. Mrs. Wooly is able to drive her bus to safety, right through the store’s front doors. The high school bus is battered heavily and overturns in the heavy downpour of hail. Mr. Reed and several students, including Trish, are killed or badly injured. Overcome by smoke, Dean just wants to stay under his seat and sleep but Niko drags him to the safety of the other bus before theirs explodes. Fifteen students and the driver were on the high school bus when the hail started, but only Jake, Brayden, Niko, Astrid, Josie and Dean make it to the safety of the Greenway superstore.

Mrs. Wooly takes charge indie the store and gets everyone situated. When Dean’s younger brother Alex, a computer geek, realizes that no one’s minitab is connecting to the Network, he freaks out. With lots of back-ups in place, the Network should always be functional. The loss of communication with the outside world means that no one will know about the bus accidents. Mrs. Wooly leaves the six high school students, two eighth graders and six elementary kids in the Greenway to go for help. She tells them not to go outside or let anyone in.

The kids head to the electronics department after lunch and find a flat-screen television that doesn’t depend on the Network for a signal. The older kids are shell-shocked as they watch CNN. It turns out a volcano on a small island in the Atlantic violently erupted and triggered a megatsumani that destroyed the East Coast of the United States. It brought down the Network and caused the freakish weather occurring across the country. It is the worst natural disaster in history. Feeling numb, the little kids gather up some candy and everyone gorges themselves. They eventually fall asleep only to be violently shaken awake the next morning by a massive earthquake. The store is still standing but things have fallen and broke. The television now only has sound. They hear talk about the rarity of the earthquake when a breaking news announcement is made. The residents of Colorado and neighboring states are warned that NORAD’s chemical weapons storage facilities were damaged and are warned to stay indoors and seal all outside openings.

The kids gather the necessary supplies from the store to seal off the front doors around the bus. When they are finished, Dean realizes that the AC unit is on and needs to be turned off. The older kids cannot figure out how to turn it off, so several of the older boys go onto the roof to seal off the store from there. They are soon stopped in their tracks when they discover a large black cloud spiraling up and spreading across the sky over NORAD. It looks like a giant ribbon pooling in the sky.

What exactly is happening not only in Monument but around the world and can 14 kids survive what seems the end of the world in a mega superstore?

The action in this book really picks up towards the end to set up for the sequel Monument 14: Sky on Fire.

Visit Emmy Laybourne's website.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Years earlier, Tom Hancock almost succumbed to a boating accident on Lake Superior but was saved by a mermaid. Needing his life force to sustain herself, she agrees to trade Tom’s life for that of his infant son, Jason. The townsfolk thought Tom’s mermaid tale was just crazy talk and the Hancock family soon splintered and abandoned their lakeside home. Now years later and the recent death of Tom, Jason decides to move back to the Lake Superior house with his wife and two daughters for a less stressful life. It turns out Tom wasn’t crazy and danger lurks for the Hancock family in the form of the mermaid’s vengeful children.

Calder White has been tied to his “sisters” since he fell from his parents’ sailboat on Lake Superior when he was three years old. With their mother’s death, Calder can only be set free from the bonds of his murderous merfolk family by his “sister” Maris, now head of the family. If Calder helps them collect the long standing debt of Jason Hancock’s life, Maris will set him free. All Calder needs to do is use one of Jason’s daughters to lure him to the water where he will meet Calder’s sisters. What Calder doesn’t count on is falling for Lily Hancock or the fact that she doesn’t fall for his mermaid charms. It seems that Lily may believe her grandfather’s crazy talk about killer mermaids after all.

Will Calder’s sisters finally get the revenge for their mother’s death they have been seeking? Can Calder fulfill his part of the plan and earn his freedom? Does Calder convince Lily that there are no monsters in Lake Superior? And what happens when Calder falls for Lily Hancock?

It seems that mermaids may be the new vampires. I adored the rom-com Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, but I was completely surprised by the ending of Lies Beneath. I cannot wait to see how Calder’s story plays out with Deep Betrayal in 2013.

Visit Anne Greenwood Brown’s website.