Skin Books, Book 1

Alice Broadway
Scholastic, 2017

From the dust jacket, “There are no secrets in Saintstone. From the moment you’re born, every achievement, every failing, and every significant moment are all immortalized on your skin. There are honorable makes that let people know you’re trustworthy. And shameful tattoos that announce you as a traitor.

“After her father dies, Leora finds solace in the fact that his skin tells a wonderful story. that is, until she glimpses a mark on the back of his neck … the symbol of the worst crime a person can commit in Saintstone. Leora knows it has to be a mistake, but before she can do anything about it, the horrifying secret gets out, jeopardizing her father’s legacy … and Leora’s life.

“In her startling prescient debut, Alice Broadway shines a light on the dangerous lengths we go to make our world feel orderly—even when the truth refuses to stay within the lines. This rich, lyrical fantasy with echoes of Orwell is unlike anything you’ve ever read, a tale guaranteed to get under your skin …”

And get under my skin, it did! I read it in two days it was so good and captivating. Leora is so meek and compliant in the beginning but in a matter of a few months she grows into herself and becomes a confident young woman who does the seemingly impossible.

I’ve read books where the characters tattooing is meaningful to the story. But this is the first story I’ve read where a whole society revolves around a person’s lifetime collection of tattoos. There is a ring of dystopian fiction to it but its beautifully told and the author saves the best for last to keep you turning the pages.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws – an original story, a strong female protagonist, and beautifully told – a perfect combination!!



The Ship of the Dead

ship of the dead

The Ship of the Dead
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3

Rick Riordan
Disney Hyperion, 2017

From the dust jacket, “Magnus Chase, son of Frey, the god of summer and health, isn’t naturally inclined toward being a brave warrior. Still, with the help of his motley group of friends, he has achieved deeds he never would have thought possible. Now he faces his most dangerous trial yet.

“Loki is free from his chains. He’s readying Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, complete with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It’s up to Magnus and his friends to stop him, but to do so they must sail across the oceans of Midgard {better known as Earth}, Jotunheim, and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it’s ready to sail. Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon. But Magnus’s biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. Does he have what it takes to outwit the wily trickster god?

“Life preservers are mandatory for this wet, wild, and wonderous adventure, the third entry in Rick Riordan’s #1 bestselling Norse mythology series.”

Another outstanding book from Rick Riordan. Have I ever mention how much I love his books? Oh, yes, with every review I write I say it! This book is so much fun, filled with page turning adventures, I felt like I was aboard the Big Banana with Magnus. (The Big Banana is a highlighter-yellow Viking warship provided for Magnus and company to use.) The reader doesn’t have to have an extensive knowledge of Norse mythology (or, really, no knowledge); the thing required to enjoy the story is an imagination and a willingness to be taken on a wild ride!

The only drawback is that the book is definitely one of a series. To thoroughly enjoy the adventure, the first two are a must – if you need to get caught up, here are links to my reviews of Book 1, The Sword of Summer and Book 2, The Hammer of Thor. And while this final book, The Ship of the Dead, definitely ends this series, I doubt this is the last we’ve heard of our hero – Riordan left the ending open for the future adventures of Magnus Chase!

Rating 5 out of 5 paws – need I say more?

In case you want to brush up on your Norse mythology, here’s a link to check out: Norse mythology









Betsy Cornwell

Clarion Books, 2017

From the dust jacket, “Nicolette’s Cinderella story is over, and she’s finally living her own fairy tale happy ending. She’s a successful inventor now, free of her horrible stepfamily, and content in her loving friendship with Caro, a palace servant, and Fin, the Prince of Esting.

“Then she receives a message from her long-lost housekeeper, now a revolutionary, begging her to bring the prince to Faerie for a diplomatic meeting. Nicolette fears a trap, but decides that the chance to end the bloody war waged by their kingdom is worth the risk.

“Together with Fin and Caro, she ventures across the monster-filled ocean to the lush continent she’s always dreamed of visiting. There, mechanical armies and dark magic await as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries – and themselves.”

This is the sequel to Mechanica (click on the name for a link to my review) and it was good. When I read BobbieSue’s review, I saw she hadn’t planned on reading the sequel but I’m glad I did. it had been 2 years since the Library first read Mechanica and it took a while to remember the character’s story. but once I did, I enjoyed the book, for the most part.

The main character, Nick (Nicolette) is a brilliant inventor and creates machines to aid in housework and mechanical trinkets to wear. She is in a ‘friendship-relationship’ with two other people, Caro and Fin, which, I will admit freely, made me uncomfortable at times. The three of them love each other equally and are with each other as much as possible. They sleep together in one big bed and there’s no obvious or implied sexual attraction or activity, but they do kiss and hold each other frequently. Let the squeamish reader be warned!

But beyond the discomfort I found with their group relationship/dynamics, the story was exciting and imaginative. Its full of mechanical beings, or automatons, who are brought to life by the use of Ashes, a magical ingredient harvested in a truly terrible way. There is a large battle scene and many fey, Estingers and automatons are killed but none of it is too gruesome or gratuitous.  The author has crafted a sequel better than the first book – so far away with the original fairy tale theme of Cinderella – that it could almost stand on its own.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because Nick’s story touched my heart. This book ends neatly and doesn’t need another follow-up; but you never know with authors these days!






The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 3

Lauren Destefano
Simon & Schuster, 2013

From the dust jacket: “After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

“Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for the future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

“In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren Destefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.”

When I finished the first book of this trilogy I hoped against hope that the intensity with which the author wrote would be maintained throughout the series. I hoped, but doubted as I had been let down by so many authors before (J. K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Angie Sage & Jasper Fforde being notable exceptions) never fulfilling the promise of a good story. Well, I can add author Lauren Destefano to the list of notable exceptions – this series of books was heart-pounding, exciting, depressing and wrung-me-dry of uncried tears all the way to the last page of the third book.

I am unable to reveal any of the painfully exquisite details of Sever – the slightest hint would ruin it – but suffice it to say, this series was one of the best I’ve read in a long while and will stay with me for a long time after. And although I can’t see myself rereading it any time soon (the emotional rollercoaster I went on with the characters just about wore me out), I’m keeping the books just in case. This was the perfect ending to Rhine’s story and the trilogy as well. Love, love, love these books.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws only because I’m not sure I’ll reread them, but the Trilogy gets 5 out of 5 paws!






The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2

Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster, 2012

From the back of the book, “Escaping the mansion was just the beginning. As Rhine and Gabriel leave one gilded cage behind, they are trapped in another. In a carnivalesque scarlet district presided over by a twisted ring mistress, Rhine is a risk of being sold back to the Gatherers—but fate has other plans. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine undertakes the perilous journey to Manhattan, determined to find her twin brother.

“The landscape is grim and the road is long—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty ad you men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughan, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion by any means necessary. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

Pretty good sequel – I almost put it down in the beginning, it was too dark and depressing in the scarlet district (the place where brothels are), which includes drug use/abuse. But, I took a breather and kept going. And am I ever glad I did. This sequel does NOT disappoint. Rhine and Gabriel go from trial to trial all the time moving forward searching for what can’t be found. I do have to say that for someone who is of a melancholy nature, some parts of the book are difficult to get through. I had to put the book down midway through because the darkness was so deep that I was getting depressed. But after I put it away for an hour and listened to some soothing music, I was able to pick it back up and read through to the end. And as awful as the events of the book were, it did end on a hopeful note.

As I mentioned before, there is some drug use/abuse – both covert and overt – in pill, candy and injectable form. There is generalized discussion of prostitution and ‘peeping tom’ perversion but nothing graphic. And toward the end of the book there are some fairly awful ‘medical’ procedures performed on Rhine that made me nauseous. (Like I usually do in scary movies, I closed my eyes. Then I realized I couldn’t read the words with closed eyes! Silly me!)

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because of the intense emotions it evoked in me, both good and bad (okay, mostly bad emotions) — but Fever is a really, really, good book.