Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Office of Mercy

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Average (304 pages in hardback)
Publication: February 21, 2013 from Viking
Premise: Natasha Wiley has grown up in America-Five, safe and protected under glass with the rest of her community. She finds satisfaction in her Office of Mercy job, where the workers compassionately sweep those who live Outside. The primitive nomads would only suffer, and their existence threatens the immortal perfection that guides her world, but a mission to the Outside forces her to question everything she's been taught.
Warnings: non-graphic genocide, moderate violence
Recommendation: If you're looking for something post-apocalyptic and philosophical, this might be what you want, but it's also forgettable enough that I don't recommend buying it new, especially in hardback. 

Light spoilers in the red pen section, but it's largely either on the flap of the book or heavily implied from an early stage. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Rating: 2.5 stars
Length: Average (379 pages in hardback with largish print)
Publication: June 18, 2013 from Philomel
Premise: Knox is a Patron, born to privilege and protection-- he even has a Proxy to take his punishments. When he steals or vandalizes something, Syd is beaten or given brutal manual labor in punishment. And when Syd thinks he's almost free to have his debt paid off, Knox crashes a car and kills a girl, leaving Syd sentenced to branding and over a decade in prison. Syd tries to run, but he soon finds himself caught between groups with their own shadowy goals.
Warnings: beating of children, branding, non-graphic torture
Recommendation: I'd say to just give this one a miss, but having an incidentally gay POC as one of the main characters sets this one apart from the almost aggressively white-bread vibe that threads through the majority of young adult novels. If you're going to try it, go in for Syd and try not to think too hard about the plot or worldbuilding.

Explaining the identity of the main characters would constitute major and distracting spoilers, so suffice to say that Knox and Syd are joined by an activist girl who hates the whole Patron/Proxy system.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Midnight Riot

I picked up Midnight Riot because I kept running across reviews saying that it was brilliant, unique, down-to-earth. And in some ways it is. In others, I perhaps should have been more nervous about the fact that one of the blurbs is from Mario Acevedo.

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Average (310 pages)
Publication: February 1, 2011 from Del Rey
Premise: Peter Grant is still a probationary constable in London's Metropolitan Police, but he dreams of being a homicide detective. But then he meets the ghost of a thief who can give him details about the murder, and he soon finds himself wrapped up in deeper mysteries than he ever knew were possible.
Warnings: gore of varying levels, magical possession as violation
Recommendation: If you're looking for a police officer instead of a freelance PI consultant or have a soft spot for London, this might be your cup of tea; it introduces some fun concepts, even if all of them don't quite mesh together.

Light spoilers along the lines of "these are characters who exist" are woven throughout the review, but the plot twists are largely untouched.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Passion Play

Passion Play caught my eye based almost entirely on the rich cover art colors and the various reviews: it had glowing notices from Patricia Briggs, Anne McCaffrey, and Sherwood Smith, as well as several authors whose stuff I haven't read yet.

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Detailed and somewhat on the long side (512 pages)
Publication: October 12, 2010 from Tor Books
Premise: Therez Khalina is a sheltered merchant's daughter, struggling to stay sane and happy in the luxurious trap of her father's home. When she is promised into a marriage not of her choosing at the age of only fifteen, she decides to run away from home and seek her fortune. Once she's out on her own, however, she has to struggle just to survive and come out the other side with her sanity intact. The city street of Tiralien lead her to a new and dangerous way of life that will either save or destroy her.
Warnings: rape, gang rape, violent miscarriage, magical and mundane castration, implied torture
Recommendation: Much though I wanted to like this one, it never really seems to come alive-- there's plenty of intriguing potential here in the espionage department, though.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Night School

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Long side of average (426 pages in hardback)
Publication: May 21, 2013 from Katherine Tegen Books (a HarperCollins imprint)-- released January 1, 2012 from Atom (a UK publisher)
Premise: Ever since her brother disappeared, Allie Sheridan has been kicked out of one school after another. After she's arrested for vandalism, her parents have had enough and send her to Cimmeria Academy, a mysterious private school in the countryside. She adjusts quickly, but soon she notices that her classmates won't tell her where they're going after dark....and she has to find out.
Warnings: attempted date rape, murder, detailed portrayal of panic attacks
Recommendation: If you're looking for a mystery-conspiracy set at a boarding school, this one is great-- some of the character interactions are too predictable, but it's a fun way to spend an afternoon.

There are some spoilers about the relationships, but I also consider them fair game because they might be triggery. The love triangle is obvious if you' a book or seen a movie with a love triangle in it. There's the polished sweet rich boy who wants Allie's attention and is easy to love, and then there's the brooding-and-sexy student who snaps at her a lot and has a tragic past. Go. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Six-Gun Tarot

This one caught my eye based largely on the title, and it met my expectations of being absolutely bizarre. Happy Fourth, everyone, and maybe you'll enjoy taking a look at this alternate take on the American frontier spirit.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Length: Somewhat hefty (364 pages in hardback)
Publication: January 22, 2013 from Tor Books
Premise: The town of Golgotha sits in the middle of the desert like any other mining encampment with a dash of civility, but the mountain under Argent Mine hides secrets that modern humanity can't begin to comprehend. A ragged band of people who can't leave the town will be forced to step forward if they are to save their homes and their world.
Warnings: gore, platonic necrophilia, tentacle rape (hello there, tags that have never been necessary on this blog before)
Recommendation: If you don't mind reading closely, The Six-Gun Tarot can be quite fun. It's dark and strange and not infrequently disturbing, but that's part of what makes it so dramatically different from everything else.

I've tried to avoid spoilers, but there are a few light ones scattered throughout, mostly for things that occur in each character's first segment.