May 15, 2013

Recently Read: CODA, Graceling, Sabriel, Sweethearts and more Who e-books


This is going to be a pretty large post, because I somehow completely skipped over posting a Recently Read during April (where did that month go, anyway?!) and I have continued to read quite a bit.
So, what have I been reading lately?


Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore

Here's the book's synopsis:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graces as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away ...
Graceling is a fun fantasy novel with a strong female lead. There's a little bit of action, a little bit of romance and a whole lotta magic, which actually seems to be a mix between supernatural powers and mutation, but I digress. I really liked both the story and the characters, and the relationship between Katsa and Po is a refreshing change from the YA norm. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Magic
For fans of: Disney's Brave, Sabriel

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Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Here's the book's synopsis:
As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be—but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.
I read this novel for my book club; it's the first Zarr novel I've ever read. It's, well ... kind of depressing, and a bit hard to read at times. The story is a little too realistic; it touches on some iffy subjects—abuse, neglect, eating disorders—and nothing's really resolved by the time the story ends. The book is good in the sense that it doesn't pull many punches, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Genre: YA/Realism
For fans of: Lifetime movies, not-quite-so-happy endings

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The Spear of Destiny (The third of 11 Doctor Who 50th Anniversary e-Shorts) by Marcus Sedgwick and The Roots of Evil  (The fourth of 11 Doctor Who 50th Anniversary e-Shorts) by Phillip Reeve

Here's The Spear of Destiny's synopsis:
The Third Doctor and Jo Grant are trying to track down the magical spear of Odin when they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle between two Viking tribes. But one of the Vikings is even more dangerous than he appears to be. Can the Doctor stop the spear getting into the wrong hands before it’s too late?
And here's The Roots of Evil's synopsis:
When the Fourth Doctor takes Leela to visit an immense tree space station known as the Heligan Structure, little do they know that the tree has been asleep for centuries, dreaming of vengeance against a man in a blue box … As the tree awakes, the Time Lord and his companion soon discover why they are such unwelcome guests.
I'm continuing to enjoy reading these glimpses into Who canon. The third story in the series includes a character that we know from more recent series—and smelly Vikings! The fourth story is a bit shorter than I would have liked, but there's a funny mention of Nine and time travel paradoxes, which I enjoyed. Also—Four totally questions Nine's taste in neck accessories, which made me laugh out loud.

Genre: Scifi/Short Stories
For fans of: Doctor Who, Doctor Who expanded universe stories, Doctor Who fanfiction

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Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix

Here's the book's synopsis:
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
Sabriel is another awesome fantasy novel with a strong female character—I like this trend I seem to be on. I also read this for book club, and I liked it probably ten times more than Sweethearts. But that's mostly because this was a fantasy novel with romance and a happy ending, which I can't help but prefer. My favorite part of the book, and this isn't a spoiler, is the odd combination of an old land ruled by magic and a new land with technology of the early 1900s. The two co-exist on the same planet and are divided by a physical wall. I don't quite get it, as it's not fully explained in the story, but I love the idea. It might be explained more fully in the two sequels? I'm going to read them, regardless, as I love the world Nix has created.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Magic
For fans of: Graceling, Game of Thrones

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CODA (Coda #1) by Emma Trevayne

Here's the book's synopsis:
Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.

Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?
I read this book after hearing glowing reviews from a couple of friends who are, in turn, friends with Emma Trevayne. I liked the story a lot—it's an interesting take on the whole dystopian society run by a corporation genre, and Anthem, the main character, is pretty wonderful—but there was something a little too familiar about the story to fully draw me in. I was surprised to find out there is going to be a sequel (or more), too, as the ending brought the story to a satisfying close. But I'm sure I'll pick up the next in the series when it comes out, as I do want to find out where Trevayne takes us next.

Genre: YA/Dystopian
For fans of: Divergent, youth-led revolutions

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I promise to try and post this series once a month in the future so they're not quite so large—and since I've no intention of slowing down on the number of books I read!

What have you been reading lately? Anything I should add to my list?

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