Tag Archives: war

Book Reviews
January 2, 2014 posted by Nichole

No Surrender Soldier – Christine Kohler

17925536A young man, an old soldier , and a terrible injustice. Should the punishment be death?

Growing up on Guam in 1972, fifteen-year-old Kiko is beset by worries: He’s never kissed a girl, and he thinks it’s possible he never will. The popular guys get all the attention, but the worst part is that Kiko has serious problems at home. His older brother is missing in Vietnam; his grandfather is losing it to dementia; he just learned that his mother was raped in World War II by a Japanese soldier. It all comes together when he discovers an old man, a Japanese soldier, hiding in the jungle behind his house. It’s not the same man who raped his mother, but, in his rage, Kiko cares only about protecting his family and avenging his mom – no matter what it takes. And so, a shy, peaceable boy begins to plan a murder. But how far will Kiko go to prove to himself that he’s a man ? Based on a historical incident, No Surrender Soldier is the story of a boy grappling with ancient questions of courage and manhood before he can move on.


No Surrender Soldier is a powerful read, but I have to admit that I was pretty bored throughout the whole thing. It reads as a historical nonfiction book. I don’t know if that was the ultimate plan, but blah. I felt like I was reading an assigned book for class. I could tell that the writing itself was strong, but I just need more adventure and connection to the characters than this book offered.

I really enjoyed that the main character was not your typical white character. It offered diversity and insight to a whole other culture. No Surrender Soldier is a book that I will be quick to recommend to all student age children to immerse themselves in other cultures/religions/mind frames. However, it is not a book that I would recommend to a huge YA lover. It’s more of an educational read.

The characters in No Surrender Soldier were also spot on. Everyone had their own individual voices and personalities. In books like this one, I often worry that the characters will just sort of blend in to each other. That wasn’t the case at all. As I said before, the writing was very strong. It just…..fell a little flat for me.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this one, but I think this is a genre that I will be staying far away from. No Surrender Soldier is a book that I would recommend teachers and parents supply to their students/children, but it’s not a book I would offer up to the YA community.


Pages: 208

Publication Date: January 1st, 2014

Publisher: Merit Press

Rating: : ★★★☆☆

Book Reviews
February 5, 2013 posted by Kiona

Scent of Magic (Healer #2) — Maria V. Snyder

Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible…again.

At the end of Touch of Power, Avry and Kerrick were forced to separate. In Scent of Magic, we pick up with Avry infiltrating Estrid’s army and Kerrick returning to Alga to finally deal with his own country. The separation is brutal. The two were finally together, only to be immediately torn apart. While Kerrick readies his troops and seeks allies for battle against Tohon’s army, Avry prepares Estrid’s troops by teaching them how to move silently through the forest and how to kill Tohon’s dead soldiers. Keeping her identity a secret becomes impossible when she’s reunited with Prince Ryne, Quain, Loren, and Belen. When Tohon finally mounts his attack, he once again comes for Avry and, again, she finds herself alone.

Let me start off by saying I thoroughly loved and enjoyed Scent of Magic; it’s an excellent sequel. With that in mind, I had difficulty with the first third of the book. I think the difficulty stemmed from Avry’s separation from Kerrick. I just wanted the two to be together and my frustration mirrored Avry’s on every page. This only proves how excellent Maria Snyder is at creating characters we care about and relationships that jump off the page. But the frustration was very tough to deal with and often led me to put down the book after a few chapters, just to pick it up again in an hour.

After I got used to the separation, I was impressed by a lot of the elements Snyder incorporated into this book. The plot is continuously fast-paced; each chapter advances the conflict. The plot is intricate and completely unpredictable, with multiple cliff-hangers that forced me to speed through the pages. I especially appreciated the inside look at war strategies and tactics. Watching Avry become a part of Estrid’s group was one of my favorite aspects of this book; she’s so tough and willing to put herself in the line of danger over and over again. In my opinion, she’s one of the most admirable female heroines in YA right now.

I also enjoyed seeing Kerrick take on more of a role as King of Alga. It’s interesting to watch his relationship grow with Danny, as we get to see more of the kind, caring Kerrick that previously only existed with Avry. Speaking of developments, we also see new sides of Quain and Loren, which just further characterizes them as realistic, believable people. All of Snyder’s characters feel like people you could potentially or already have met. They’re just so vibrant.

Of course, Snyder once again delivers a fair share of heartbreak, but she doesn’t wait until the very end to do it. This book is full of a lot of hard moments and Snyder doesn’t sugarcoat the consequences of war. Tohon is as frightening and despicable as ever–a true villain. Snyder further explores the mystery of the Death and Peace Lilies with surprising results–this aspect of the plot never fails to completely capture my attention; I’m completely enthralled by the Death Lilies and, like Avry, I really want to figure them out. As with her previous novels, Snyder’s writing is poetic, concise, and utterly enrapturing. The Healer series is just as compelling as her Study series and worth every minute spent reading. Fans of Snyder will not be disappointed.

Pages: 414
Publication Date: December 2012
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Source: NetGalley
Rating : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote:
“We don’t take orders from you, Sergeant,” Quain said. “Your man tried to assassinate–“

“He isn’t mine. My man has eyes that change color with the seasons.”


Book Reviews
January 8, 2013 posted by Kiona

Daughter of Smoke and Bone — Laini Taylor

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Karou has always been…different. And not just because of her aquamarine hair. All her life, the only family she’s known are chimaera, creatures made up of multiple animal and human parts; by human definition: monsters. But Karou doesn’t see them as monsters; she loves these creatures, Issa with her serpent body and the huge, hulking Brimstone. Karou fills her days with art school and running errands for Brimstone, often dangerous errands wherein she procures…teeth. She doesn’t know what the teeth are for (animal and human), but she does as Brimstone wishes.That is, until angels make their way to Karou’s world and incinerate the portals Karou uses to reach her family. One particular angel, Akiva, is confused by Karou and sets out to kill her for aiding his sworn enemy, but when the two finally face off, he finds he can’t do it. There’s something familiar about Karou, a feeling he can’t quite shake. Through Akiva, Karou learns of a centuries-old war between angels and chimaera that she now finds herself in the middle of. Choosing a side should be easy, until Karou learns Brimstone’s been hiding secrets from her, secrets about who she really is.

I can’t believe it took me this long to pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And yet, crazily enough, I wish I’d waited even longer because now I’m obsessed and the third book in the series isn’t due until next year. I cannot handle that much suspense. But, in case you haven’t already guessed, I’m in love with this book and these characters. Going into the first chapter, I had no expectations. The synopsis isn’t very telling, but the cover was cool and I’d heard plenty of positive reviews. I just didn’t know what kind of world or plot to expect.

Straight up originality it what I received. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is unlike any other book I’ve read in years. Laini Taylor’s take on angels is fresh and invigorating. I don’t think I’ve read about chimaera…ever. These new plot points and ideas immediately captured my interest so that there was no chance of putting down the book once I started. But then there are the politics behind the war between the two races. I’m a sucker for well-laid-out war books. I like having both sides presented to me equally, their flaws and strong points presented for the reader to choose. There’s no black and white here, only gray, which makes the book and Karou’s particular situation endlessly fascinating. I love the way Taylor offers up both sides sympathetically so that we fully understand why Karou’s choice is so hard. Plus, Taylor’s super specific details ensure the reality of this world and highlights the sad truths of war.

Karou is an amazing protagonist. One of the first things I fell in love with was her honesty. Whenever she’s questioned about the unreal aspects of her life, she tells the truth with a quick smirk. When a waitress asks her how she managed to fly, Karou answers, “I really was flying,” with her trademark smirk. As soon as I read about this, I wondered why more characters in YA haven’t caught onto this trend. Think about it: so many shady things happen in YA fiction; vampires are secretive about their desire for blood; werewolves hide their transformation or their wolf-like characteristics; telekinetic characters blame a falling lamp on the wind. And in all these books, it’s so very obvious that these characters are hiding ENORMOUS SECRETS and yet no one ever calls them out. Our protagonists think to themselves, “Huh. That’s weird. There’s something off about him but he’s sooo dreamy,” while we’re yelling at our books, “How stupid can you be?” So, I guess, I appreciate that not only is Karou not stupid, but neither are the people in her world. When something weird happens, people point it out. And when Karou can’t easily cover up an unexplainable phenomenon, she doesn’t. Simple. Believable. Refreshing.

But Karou is awesome for a host of other reasons. She can defend herself. She’s snarky and witty. She’s suspicious (a trait sorely lacking in many YA females). She acts out like any teenager, makes mistakes, but is loyal to her family and friends and never stops trying to help others. And Taylor doesn’t just give us Karou; she also gives us Karou’s best friend, Zuzana, an insanely likable and tough friend. Zuze is not sidekick and she’s definitely not afraid to call Karou on her bullshit. She’s a force to be reckoned with and a person Karou absolutely needs in her life, as well as a person we need for comedic quips and jabs. Karou couldn’t get any luckier than having Zuze for a best friend, and I came to love her just as much as Karou and, later, to appreciate Zuze’s budding relationship with Mik. It’s easy to see that the two deserve each other and that Karou deserves a positive relationship role-model.

Speaking of relationships, Akiva is as smoldering a love interest as any. At first, there’s a slight fear of insta-love, but the further into the book you get, the more you come to trust Laini Taylor and realize she would never make that mistake. As I held out for the end and the answers I knew she would provide, I wasn’t disappointed. Well, I mean, I was, because the ending is absurdly heart-wrenching, but I was happy to see the relationship fully developed and in such an interesting style. Speaking of which, Taylor’s writing style is remarkable; her prose is beautiful, succinct, and poetic. She describes her fascinating settings in intricate details, yet cuts to the point of her plots, allowing her a smooth read that’ll sate any book-lover’s desires. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a must-read for fantasy and paranormal lovers. I admit, it does get a little graphic in its violence at parts, but all the devastation is realistic and necessary to the story’s development. The characters, settings, and conflicts are rich and captivating. This is a book I plan to read again and again.

Pages: 417
Publication Date: September 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Source: Purchased
Rating : ★★★★★

Teaser: “She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.

Book Reviews
September 8, 2010 posted by Christina

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3) – Suzanne Collins

“Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.”

This August there was only one word on everyone’s lips – Mockingjay. Have you got it? Have you read it? Have you seen it? Reviewers, readers and fans alike were camped outside their letterboxes and bookstores, poised for the moment the conclusion to the Hunger Games series finally arrived. However none of the excitement or anticipation could’ve prepared us for the emotional roller coaster 455 pages could bring.

Mockingjay brings us to Panem a few months after Katniss was rescued from the Hunger Games arena by the District 13 rebels. This fact also reminds us that Peeta was not. He is still in the hands of the Capitol, under known conditions.

The rebellion has begun in earnest now. However there are still Districts under the control of the Capitol and there is a disjointed feeling among the rebels. They need a symbol, something to unify them and lead the spirit of the cause. They need the Mockingjay, Katniss. But after all she’s been through can she find the strength be that face? Can she bear being a puppet on show again? How far does she have to go just to be free?

It’s a good thing I had time to process just how I felt about this book after I read it otherwise it would’ve looked like Kanye West took over the blog, writing a review strictly in caps lock. I was only a few pages in when I realized I should’ve eaten or gone to the bathroom beforehand because I was so entranced, engaged, engrossed, totally sucked into this book I knew I wasn’t going to be able to move till I read every last word.

Was I disappointed? That the series was over, yes. By the book itself, no.  The story is so emotional it leaves you feeling shell shocked. The pace of the plot means Katniss never really gets a break, she’s always in the thick of the action which you can see slowly wears away at her already frayed nerves. This also takes its toll on everyone else as the strain and fear push them to breaking point.

There’s no doubt that what the characters face is an outright war and Suzanne Collins gives us everything that goes with it – the heroics and the aftermath. Facing the kind of sights these characters do means you can’t remain unaffected, which is what gives the story a very raw, realistic quality.
Collins never comes across as preachy about the war but she does make you question, just how far are you willing to go and where do you draw the line?

The realism that she brought to the story meant Collins definitely had a no holds barred approach to her characters and nothing was sacred. As a reader I was constantly kept on my toes, not being able to predict what would happen next, you’re left guessing the whole time.

I promised to keep this spoiler free, so highlight the text if you want to see it. (Don’t say you weren’t warned)

My only complaint with Mockingjay is that the ending felt rushed. There needed to be more detail particularly between Peeta and Katniss. The book was so starved of him already; we needed to see that reconnection.

There are no winners or losers in a war, just survivors left to pick up the pieces. But throughout all the pain and despair, there is still hope and love. Katniss has been an incredible character to follow, her bravery and strength never ceased to amaze me I felt so proud of her in Mockingjay.

This book hit me on a new level where I was left nothing but stunned afterwards. I’m DEVASTATED that it’s all over but it’s been an amazing ride with an amazing series. If you’re looking for a happy ending, you’re not going to find it here. You will however find an incredible story that’ll stay with you days later, you won’t be the same again.

Pages: 455
Publication Date: August 2010
Rating: : ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “So, what do you think they’ll do to him?” I ask.
Prim sounds a thousand years old when she speaks.
“Whatever it takes to break you.”

Glimmerglass – Jenna Black
Book Reviews
August 10, 2010 posted by Christina

Glimmerglass – Jenna Black

“Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, Dana decides she’s had it with being her mother’s keeper, so she packs her bags and heads to stay with her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn’t just an ordinary teenage girl—she’s a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, she finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone’s trying to kill her, and everyone wants something from her, even her newfound friends and family. Suddenly, life with her alcoholic mom doesn’t sound half bad, and Dana would do anything to escape Avalon and get back home. Too bad both her friends and her enemies alike are determined not to let her go . . .”

I’ll be honest; I picked this book by its cover. I think in the summary all I saw was “faerie”, “runaway” and “Avalon” before the cover caught my attention and I went “Ooooooooo, I’ll take it!” Often, that’s not a good plan but luckily this time it worked pretty well.

Dana Hathaway has had enough. Enough of having to deal with her alcoholic mother, enough of being the parent, enough of being embarrassed, of constantly moving and enough with her current life. She’s particularly had enough of not knowing the truth about her father. When Dana’s mother fell pregnant years before, she ran away from the city of Avalon and from big shot Fae Seamus Stuart – Dana’s father, to go into hiding and keep Dana away from the Faerie world and its politics.

Avalon is the only place where the mortal world and the Faerie world intersect, and that’s exactly where Dana runs away to in order to meet her dad and escape her former life. Little does she know that her rare status as a Faeriewalker as a result of being half human, half Fae is a coveted position and she’s just walked into the middle of a political war.

Glimmerglass is the first young adult novel by Jenna Black and is the first in the Faeriewalker series. I found the writing to be really engaging and even though it is a fantasy book, for someone who hasn’t read any books about Faeries, I found the concept and rules of the Faerie world easy and quick to grasp. The events in the book mean the characters are always on their toes and it’s very go, go, go.

Soon after arriving in Avalon, events bring Dana to meet sibling Ethan and Kimber. Ethan is of course, gorgeous even by Fae standards and there’s an instant attraction between the two.  His sister, Kimber is guarded and hostile when she and Dana first meet but soon enough a friendship blooms. But what are their motivations for getting involved with Dana?

Our main character Dana is a sixteen year old girl trying to find the parental support she’s been lacking all these years. She’s quite a strong character, having to deal with one crisis after the other but one that also makes mistakes that are true to her age. She’s aware of herself and when she’s being stupid or whiny, but recovers fast, especially when it comes to her potential love interests. She can get a bit blinded by her hormones, but I guess she is sixteen, so she’s forgiven.

I was glad to see that the times when I would think “Oh man, I would freak out and cry if that happened to me” Dana did do that (but without coming across as a baby), which made it more real as opposed to characters who push on tear-free through impossible situations. Perhaps the only weird thing was Dana’s love of Victoria’s Secret and that she reads “dirty” books….haha, uh…awkward.

This book is full of twists mainly with whom exactly Dana can trust and whose side should she be on. No character in this story was two dimensional, each had a definite personality and it made for great reading, with Finn being a personal favorite. By the end you still don’t know who you can trust and can’t trust which gives a great lead (as well as other unanswered questions) for the next book.

Great start to a new series! I’ll definitely be checking out the next book in the series, Shadowspell when it comes out early next year.

Pages: 294

Publication Date: August 2010

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “How many of us are there?” I asked, because there was no point in arguing I wasn’t a Faeriewalker. I wished I could convince myself I’d been hallucinating earlier, but I knew what I’d seen.
I felt, rather than saw, the look Ethan and Kimber exchanged.
“The last one before you died about seventy-five years ago.”