Thursday, July 24, 2014

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Starbound book 1)

Major Tarver Merendsen is an eighteen year old who earned his military promotions on the battlefield instead of behind a desk. He is aboard the luxury space liner Icarus so that the rich can have their pictures taken with him and hobnob with the low born citizen turned war hero. The paparazzi cannot get enough of the teacher's son even as he wishes all of the attention would die down. Always the soldier, he notices a man on the first class deck who does not belong. He tries to make his way across the crowd to see what he is up to. He finally catches sight of the man talking to a young woman sitting at a table. Before he can reach her, several soldiers come up and manhandle the man. Tarver tries to diffuse the situation when he hears the man asking the young woman to talk with her father about the plight of the colonists. The man is removed from the situation as Tarver takes in the young woman; red hair, blue eyes and a beautiful blue dress. 

She refers to up him as Captain and when he corrects her, Tarver is mesmerized by her dimples. They watch each other as she removes and drops a glove. He picks it up and asks if he can sit until whoever she is waiting for shows. He can but he might be waiting awhile for her perpetually late companions. Tarver knows that he should recognize her. It cannot recall her name. The two seem interested in one another and Tarver asks her if she has seen the observation decks. As she is getting ready to agree to go with him, she turns her head and sees her companions enter. Tarver excuses himself when they arrive at the table.

Lilac LaRoux is the richest girl in the universe. Her father, Roderick LaRoux, owns LaRoux Industries which built the Icarus. Her overprotective father treats her as an untouchable princess and men have learned the hard way to stay away from her. Roderick has allowed her to travel without him to New Paris to celebrate her birthday but she is accompanied by her cousin Anna and her bodyguard Swann. When Anna arrives at Lilac's table, she sees the way the two of them are looking at each other. When Tarver leaves, Anna asks Lilac if she knew who that was. Of course she does, his photo has been splashed across the tabloids for weeks. Anna reminds her that no matter how many medals he wears, he is still a teacher's son and she would hate to inform Uncle Roderick of her flirtations. Lilac is amazed that he even had the courage to speak to her at all. At least he left of his own accord and she didn't have to annihilate him in front of Anna and Swann. With so many people on the ship, she knows that the chances are slim that she will ever see him again.

Two days later, Tarver runs into Lilac and her companions again. He asks her since their evening was cut short the other night if she would like to see the observation decks. Anna catches her eye to stop him immediately. She tries to tell him no when he asks what her name is. She is shocked that he has no idea who she is and was only interested in her for her and not her father and his connections. What she has to do is only made harder by his ignorance. She turns him down harshly and cannot stand to turn and look at his eyes as she gets on the elevator. Two men already inside realize who she is and rush the walk by Tarver, they comment that they know better than to be caught alone with Lilac LaRoux. Tarver is shocked that he didn't realize who she was sooner.

Taking out his aggression on the sparring mats down in the military levels in the belly of the ship, he and the others notice that the Icarus lurches. Knowing that something isn't right, he goes up on the upper decks to see if an announcement is being made since the low born citizens will never be informed. A voice broadcasts that they will be doing routine maintenance and not to panic. Tarver realizes by her words that something is wrong but they are trying to keep people calm. He goes by the observation deck and sees that something is terribly wrong. The stars shouldn't look that way if the ship was operating correctly. He knows that the ship is unable to land without completely collapsing on itself. The next announcement is for people to head towards their evacuation pods immediately. Always the soldier, Tarver has a bag already packed for the situation and grabs his coat. He also knows exactly where he needs to go. Making his way with the frightened passengers, he bumps into Lilac and her companions on the balcony. Just his luck but he is coolly polite. Lilac is shocked and Tarver is caught unprepared for the sudden rush of people. He is pushed away from lilac as is her companions. He notices Swann battling her way back towards Lilac and realizes that she is her bodyguard. They are unable to make their way back to Lilac. Tarver hears a scream and realizes he has lost sight of Lilac. He pushes his way towards the balcony railing where the drop below is several stories down. He is about to quit looking for Lilac when he hears another scream. He rushes towards the railing in time to catch a flash of red hair and blue dress going over the railing. Without thinking, Tarver readies himself to jump and land on the floor below.

"Iliac is able to catch herself on the balcony landing two floors down. In their panic, no one notices her. She feels someone tugging on her arms. Tarver is there and pulls her to safety. Lilac wants to look for Anna and Swann but Tarver tells her that they will never find them. He wants to go to the escape pods but Lilac stops him. Having grown up around the ship, she knows that the crew escape pods are closer and leads Tarver there. She doesn't want to share a pod with him for fear or what her father will think when they are found but Tarver will not leave. He doesn't want to be anywhere near her either. They strap themselves in and Tarver initiates the launch sequence. Soon, a power surge strikes the ship and the power fails. The emergency backup comes on but the launch sequence has stalled. Knowing everything that she does about the Icarus when a girl in her position should not, she removes the control panel and searches for the correct wires to fire the pod away from the ship. Not acting at this point what Tarver thinks of her, she is able to detach the pod and is quickly knocked unconscious from the blast.

Tarver is able to secure Lilac back in a seat before gravity fails. Looking out the viewing port, Tarver sees that the ship has fallen into the gravitational pull of a planet. He doesn't see any more escape pods and knows that the Icarus is unable to survive the impact. He wonders how a rich born girl like Lilac knew what to do the ship. She comes to and as their pod is pulled towards the planet, they are silent. They crash land on the planet and. Lilac wonders when they will be picked up. Tarver doesn't have the heart to tell her the truth about the ship. He wonders about the air quality of the planet when Lilac shows him that the pod has been punctured. They both know if they are able to breathe the planet's air, someone must own it and it will be covered by colonies. They are both relieved.

The planet seems to be in the final stages of terraforming but Tarver cannot imagine why the colonists haven't arrived yet. He decides to hike to a hill to get a better vantage point and Lilac insists on coming with him. Along the way, Lilac proves herself to be somewhat capable and Tarver is surprised that she doesn't complain. When they reach the hill's crest, Tarver wishes that Lilac had stayed behind. In front of them, they can see the Icarus, falling in pieces from the sky. Tarver puts his arm around Lilac's shoulder. They then see smaller pieces of the ship beak off, almost like shooting stars. Tarver realizes with horror that they are the escape pods. No one else had Lilac to help in their escapes.

Soon the two of them realize that there is no communication link and the planet they crash landed on is uninhabited. They begin to trek through the forest and across the plains to cross the mountain range. The Icarus and hopefully rescue lie beyond. As time passes, Tarver and Lilac's icy relationship thaws. Outside the planet they currently inhabit, they would never be together.

Will Tarver and Lilac be rescued? Did anyone else from the Icarus survive? Do they wish to resume their former roles in society or have they manage a new, better existence for themselves? What will Lilac's father think about their situation? What happens when it seems that the planet they believe to be uninhabited actually is?

This Shattered World due out on December 23, 2013, the stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

Dust Lands Trilogy by Moira Young

Book one - Blood Red Road

“In the Dustlands, you fight or you die.

Eighteen year old twins Saba and Lugh are complete opposites, right down to their looks. Lugh is fair like their dead mother while she is dark like their father. The three of them liv with their younger sister Emmi live along the shores of Silverlake, or what's left of it. Rain hasn't fallen in a long time and its shoreline has shrunken. Pa believes that he can read the future in the stars but no matter what he ritual he does, the rain doesn't come. Frustrated, Lugh is ready to leave him behind and Saba will follow her twin anywhere. Before they can make any real plans to leave, a terrible dust storm cuts across the lake and heads their way. Lugh and Saba race towards the storm cellar where their father and Emmi await them. Looking for her pet crow, Nero, the twins have to crouch down to keep from being struck by lightning. Saba is thrown off of her feet and Lugh helps her get up. The storm passes and leaves a red haze. Then out of the haze comes five men riding horses.

One of the men is Procter John, their neighbor who briefly visits once a month. They asks him if Lugh was the one born at midwinter and Procter tells them yes and that he has been looking after him like they had asked. The man asks Lugh how old he is and he answers eighteen. The twins know that something is wrong. The man pulls out a bolt shooter and fires at Procter John, striking him dead. Lugh tells Saba to go fetch their Pa but she won't leave him. Go, he yells and heads for the lake while Saba runs to the storm shelter. Pa asks her if they have come and she realizes that he has seen this day in the stars. She runs into the shanty looking for her crossbow and comes out and shakes her Pa. He finally comes to his senses and she sees the old Pa from before her mother died. He tells her that his time is nearly up. He has only been able to see glimpses of the future but that she must stay strong. Lugh, Emmi and others will need her and not to give up. The horsemen have caught up to Lugh and have surrounded him. Saba and Pa take up their crossbows and run to Lugh. They fire and miss while two of the riders have lassoed Lugh. They dismounted and bound his wrists and ankles. Saba and Pa take aim again and another rider turns and fires his bolt shooter. Pa falls and Saba realizes the bolt has gone through his heart. Pa is dead. She runs towards Lugh but her arrows fly wild in her anger. One of the riders fires a bolt that strikes her in her hand. Bound, the riders hoist Lugh onto a horse. Saba screams and begs them to take her as well. Lugh tells her to go back and take care of Emmi. Saba promises Lugh that she will find him as the men ride away with her brother. Emmi runs out of the shelter and takes in the death and destruction left behind. She runs to Pa and Saba falls to the ground. The skies open up and rain finally falls.

Why did the horsemen come after Lugh? What was so special about him being born at midwinter? Will Saba be able to keep her promises to Lugh and Pa? Can she find Lugh? What happens to her and Emmi?

Book two – Rebel Heart
“No one is safe.”

Book three – Raging Star
Loyalty and betrayal. Lovers and enemies.

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (The Wolves of Mercy Falls book 3.5)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, Shiver, Linger and Forever, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story about one of my favorite fictional couples for you.

“Can this sinner be saved?”

Isabel Culpepper and her family left Mercy Falls, Minnesota for Los Angeles, California to attempt to start a new life after the death of her brother Jack. Finishing the last five months of her senior year of high school is the least of her worries. Her parents have separated and she and her mother live with her mother’s sister and her daughter. With few friends, Isabel works as a model for a fashion designer. She has the aloof personality down pat. She has attempted to get over Cole St. Clair, whom she left behind in Mercy Falls where he had become a wolf. She wasn’t expecting Cole to come crashing back into her life.

Cole St. Clair has drastically cleaned up his rock star life since he was bitten and became a wolf. Booze and drugs no longer give him the release that shifting into wolf form does. He is back in California to not only restart his musical career but make amends with Isabel. Signing on to be the star of a web show where the stars are known to become train wrecks, he is determined to be a success instead. When his initial meeting with Isabel doesn’t go as planned, will Cole be able to win her back or will he slip back into his former rock star life?

One of my favorite book couples, I was extremely excited to read more about Cole and Isabel’s story. Snippets of Sam and Grace’s life back in Minnesota are sprinkled throughout the story.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha trilogy book 3)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the first two books in the Grisha trilogy, Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, Stop! I don't want to ruin one of my favorite series for you. 

Over two months have passed since Alina Starkov’s failed attempt to stop the Darkling at Os Alta. She, Mal and some of their friends/supporters have taken refuge in the cavernous White Cathedral with the Apparat. Alina has yet to fully recover being kept underground. The Sun Summoner cannot call forth even a tiny sunbeam. She uses trickery with the help of two Inferni and a broken mirror to appease the followers of Sankta Alina that the Appparat has gathered. With only two of the three amplifiers of Morozova in her possession, the Apparat hasn’t lent his full support to Alina’s quest to find the bones of the firebird. She is keeping the one clue from a childhood memory under wraps because it is the only leverage she has against the Apparat, who is determined to keep her under his thumb.

The Grisha are feared by the Sun followers but none more than Genya, bearing the scars given her by the Darkling. Alina is monitored everywhere she goes and hasn’t been allowed to speak to Mal since their arrival. When Mal and the others execute a daring plan to escape the White Cathedral, the Apparat places doubt in Alina’s head about who she can really trust. Gaining the upper hand on the Apparat, Alina hopes that the Sun followers stay safely hidden from the Darkling while she begins her search for not only the firebird but Nikolai Lantsov.

Who can Alina trust? Will Mal and the others stick by her? Can they locate Nikolai/Sturmhond? How can he help Alina? Does the firebird exist or is it merely a legend? Are its bones the third of Morozova’s amplifiers that Alina needs to defeat the Darkling? Who will Alina choose to spend the rest of her life with? Can the Fold finally be vanquished? If she becomes queen of Ravka, does she take the throne by herself or will she share it with someone?