Tag Archives: young adult

Review of City of York (Kingdom in Darkness, #1), by A. Person

I received a paperback copy of City of York from the author, A. Person.

Description from Goodreads:

The Kingdom has been around for as long as mud has been on the planet. Magic abounds—and dragons are its physical manifestation. Once vibrant and proud, they now live in varying states of depression after having their wings clipped. New dragons have not been created since that fateful day, and the magical force has only dwindled with the passing of each dragon.

The Community, the residents of the Kingdom, are no longer the dominant beings in the world. They have ceded that title to humans, or as they inconsiderately call them, Cromies. To ensure the Kingdom’s survival, the Council of Elders made the monumental decision to concentrate all the magic in one place: New York City. From the far corners of the world, the Exodus occurred. Dubbed the City of York by this mythical Community, here they all follow the Order to stay concealed and not bring harm to the general population. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants at large, the Community lives among them.

In the present day, Emily and her friends Cat and James run a start-up news organization. Their quest to inform the public has them unexpectedly crossing paths with members of the Community. When it is discovered that they have an affinity to magic, they are all provided guides, and they immerse themselves in this hidden world.

A motley cast of additional characters is encountered along the way. Prominent among them is Hollister McAvoy, who is a magically made billionaire. He has harnessed the power emanated by dragons and brought cheap, renewable energy to the city. While the Cromies rejoice, he continues to work toward his ultimate objective. There is an age-old prophecy that foretells the dawn of a magical revival. With access to money and technology, he aims to fulfill it by creating prosthetic wings and returning dragons to their former prestige. Can the Kingdom remain in darkness when dragons once again fly?

Review:

Reviewing this book is difficult for me. So, I’m going to start with a note. I accepted a copy of this book from the author for review. Unfortunately, there was some time between when I got the initial email and when I investigated the book on Goodreads to see if I wanted to read it. The result was that I missed the fact that though “Emily and her friends Cat and James run a start-up news organization” they are in fact teenaged journalist. (In all fairness, Person’s email did say this, but I depended on the book blurb in the moment.)

This means that I expected an adult fantasy book, but found myself reading a lower young adult (almost middle grade) book. One with a tendency to purposefully mix metaphors and spells with names like bye-bye boo-boo. I was not pleased with this discovery. Of course, that’s not the book’s fault. But I mention it because it 100% affected my enjoyment in reading it and I think it would be unfair to not mention it.

Outside of the disappointment around genre, I found the book to have too many characters, depend too heavily on its quirkiness, and lack a satisfying conclusion. That’s not to say it was without positives. If you do enjoy silly witticisms, this will be right up your alley. The world the book builds is interesting, the writing is clean and it’s well-edited.

I think, sadly, this is just a case of the wrong book for the wrong reader. A tween-slash-lower teen would probably really enjoy it. With that in mind, I intend to see if my 13yo would like to read it (maybe even review it) and then I’ll put it in the Little Free Library.

Review of Monster of the Week (The Rules #2), by F.T. Lukens

Cover of Monster of the Week.

I received an advanced copy of F. T. LukensMonster of the Week through Netgalley. As it happens, I’ve also pre-ordered a paperback copy. But I won’t have that in hand until October.

Description from Goodreads:

Spring semester of Bridger Whitt’s senior year of high school is looking great. He has the perfect boyfriend, a stellar best friend, and an acceptance letter to college. He also has this incredible job as an assistant to Pavel Chudinov, an intermediary tasked with helping cryptids navigate the modern world. His days are filled with kisses, laughs, pixies, and the occasional unicorn. Life is awesome. But as graduation draws near, Bridger’s perfect life begins to unravel. Uncertainties about his future surface, his estranged dad shows up out of nowhere, and, perhaps worst of all, a monster-hunting television show arrives in town to investigate the series of strange events from last fall. The show’s intrepid host will not be deterred, and Bridger finds himself trapped in a game of cat and mouse that could very well put the myth world at risk. Again.

Review (with spoiler):

I generally adore this series. I absolutely loved the first book. I can’t say I loved this second one quite as much, but I did really enjoy it. I’ll start with what I like. There is a lot of love here. Bridger has a wonderfully supportive crew and the theme of Found Family is a wonderful one. The cast of regular characters are quirky and fun and effortlessly diverse. And I really appreciated that Lukens allowed Bridger to cut the toxic family member from his life, rather than force an artificial reconciliation. 

Things I didn’t like as much was the plot dependance on the ambitious, ‘evil professional woman.’ It’s more nuanced than that here, but it’s still a pretty shitty trope that I hate. I thought things got a little didactic at times. And the focus of the book was less on the action and antics of the cryptic, here in Monster of the Week, and more on Bridger’s school life. I preferred the former. 

All in all, I can’t wait for more of Lukens’ work. 

Review of Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

I borrowed an audio copy of Justina Ireland‘s Dread Nation through the library.

Description from Goodreads:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. 

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Review:

It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did I really enjoyed it. It can be uncomfortable at times, but it’s also a worthy reminder of the overt evils of our recent past and the myriad ways it’s still evident in society today. While the Survivalist in the story speak openly about their supremacist beliefs, I whole heartedly believe it realistic of the sorts of arguments slave owners used in their time and modern day racists mimic today. It would be hard to read this book and not relate to Jane’s rage and indignation. 

I also simply really liked Jane. I liked that she’s self-reflective and honest with herself (even about the fact that she sometimes lies to herself). I liked that she’s smart, resilient and loyal. She made a superb heroine. 

On a side note, I have reached an age where I actively avoid books likely to contain rape scenes. I’ve just gotten truly intolerant of it in my entertainment. There are times it’s instrumental to plot, but FAR too often authors toss it out lightly and I just can’t with it anymore. So, when it became apparent that Jane and Kate were going to be placed at the mercy of a group of men, I prepared myself to grit my teeth through the obligatory ‘woman is victimized’ scene. I am happy to report it never happened. So, if you’re like me and try to avoid such things, know Ireland go there. A plus in my mind. 

All in all, I happily recommend this book. I know the fact that it has zombies in it will put a lot of people off, but I hope people do give it a chance. And if you’re interested in audio books, Bahni Turpin did a great job.