Tag Archives: Young Adult

Time’s Divide – Rysa Walker (Chronos Files#3)

‘The Chronos Files’ is Walker’s time travel series.  Historians from the future, trained by Chronos, to go back in time to observe.  One person, however, deviates from plan causing a handfull of them to get stuck in their last assignment.  The Revisionist changes key events, creates a religion, and starts a movement causing the entire timeline to shift.  No one can return to Chronos or their time.  Kate’s Grandmother, an eccentric woman she knows little about except her mother hates her, requested she live with her for the summer.  She’s not inclined to, but her college will be paid for if she agrees.  It has a classic leaning, except canon wouldn’t accept a grandmother who technically isn’t born yet.  Kate’s grandmother needs her to fix the past so she can be born.  What I’ve described is the basis of Walker’s trilogy.  The Young Adult time travel series is solid, and complex, enough most people should enjoy it.  There is a love triangle, more or less – it depends on what timeline your in – but it’s handled well.  Walker uses detailed/discriminating theory for her basis of time travel and sticks with it.  People who get frustrated at lengthy scientific explanations shouldn’t be overwhelmed.  Those who need the philosophy to hold up to basic scrutiny will be content.  Walker struck a delicate balance.  Book three, ‘Time’s Divide,’ has twists.  In it she ends her trilogy with Kate being forced to travel to the future despite fears and warnings.

The Cyrists, a religion, has infiltrated governments, law enforcement, and society.  It was created by Brother Saul with help from Sister Prudence.  Saul’s roots are several centuries in the future.  He claims to want to fix the mistakes of the past for a better future, but his motivations are questionable.  The only thing truly evident is he will use any method, or person, to achieve his ends.  He destroyed the future Kate’s grandmother knew.  Kate is trying to fix it with the limited tools, Chronos Keys and Diaries, her grandmother brought with her on assignment.  Keys combined with specific genetics allow a person to travel in time.  The combination is rare.  Kate is her grandmothers last hope at tracking down the remaining unaccounted for Keys.  She is tasked to keep them out of Cyrist hands, and fix the timeline.  Every step forward shifts reality.  Shifts cause confusion, physical pain, and losses.  The last two books dealt with specific events in history, the Chicago World’s Fair, when JFK was shot, etc. Ultimately, in ‘Time’s Divide’ Kate has to infiltrate the Cyrists and travel into the future.  The problem with this is it is an unknown.  Saul’s actions may have destroyed it leaving a void.  She has nothing to research and nothing she can rely on.

Kate Rudd narrated the audio version I listened to, and she does will with it.  She is consistent in her character interpretation and differentiation.  I prefer to listen to this series rather than read it, but you should like it either way.

I enjoyed The Chronos Files trilogy and Kate’s travels to the past.  Walker wrapped up the story well.  She did leave herself an opening to continue but this is supposed to be the last book.  We’ll see.  Since I have more fascination with history than the future this was not my favorite of the series, but it was good.  Walker delivered on her large cliffhanger from the second book.  I think she could have done more with it, but she had an awful lot to complete in this book.  If you are looking for a quick read, small history lessons, well executed concepts of time travel, and action I recommend the series for you.


Book Review: Updraft – Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde’s debut novel left me wishing for a sequel even though I knew her story was complete with this book.  Wilde’s novel is a great stand alone.  She created a world that could be a futuristic dystopia, but I saw it as a fantasy with its own world.  In Wilde’s sky towers she has a young woman preparing for her skytest.  If she passes she can become a trader, like her mother, and fly among the towers, bringing good luck, and visiting the spire.   As teenagers will do from time to time, she chose not listen to her mother, she stayed outside to watch her mother’s departure and skymouths attacked.  She was locked out, unable to get in, and to everyone’s shock was able to shout down the attacking skymouth.  The good luck is she saved her life, the bad luck is it brought her to the attention of the Singers.  The Singers keep Tower law, live in the Spire, and separate from the rest of tower society.  Singers, once identified, learn the secrets of their culture and must break from their families . Wilde’s story centers on Kirit’s journey once the Singers decide they want her to be one of them.   ‘Updraft’ is good Young Adult fiction.  I applaud its lack of romance.  I enjoy love and romance but it’s nice to see young adult fiction centered on a girl whose focus is solely about the situation and task at hand.  Not every story needs a love interest.

Kirit wants to be like her mother, a famous trader and a credit to her tower, but her mistake took her irrevocably off course.  Her skill at flying and her desires became irrelevant.  Singers have the power to change not only her life but the lives of everyone a person cares about.   Many lessons are learned.  Kirit learns that some choices can not be unmade; that your actions effect not only you, and when/what battles to fight and which ones you should leave alone.

Wilde’s writing is good.  Her story, while is definitely a coming of age story, has some unique attributes.  Her world is interesting, set in the clouds her towers grow from bone. Her people are a society created from the aftermath of war.  They are a remnant of a people who struggled to create their society heavily reliant on law, tradition, and the Singer’s.   Wilde doesn’t give into utilizing trends or obvious cliché’s  when the plot became tricky.  I applaud Wilde for sticking to her guns and relying on her solid plot to move the story along.  It made me cheer to see youth having bigger things to worry about than a love interest.  I enjoy love stories.  Love is an integral part of who we are as people – how we react to it when we get it and when we lose it. It is a driving force, but I like recognizing teenagers/children are more complex.  Multiple forces and concerns grow people into adults.  It’s nice to see others highlighted.

Khristine Hvam narrated the audible version.  She does a great job.  She’s well-known and has narrated ‘The Chronicles of Elantra’ series by Michelle Sagara, ‘The Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ by Laini Taylor, ‘Conversion’ by Katherine Howe, and ‘Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines amongst several others.  Hvam didn’t disappoint with ‘Updraft’ she handled several characters and the emotion of the story with ease.

This is a strong book with solid world building.  If you are in the mood for a good coming of age story, that does not rely heavily on romance, this is one of the few books that falls in that category with a female protagonist.  I hope Wilde continues writing.  I was surprised this was her debut.  Her writing reminded me of a seasoned author.  I have high hopes for her writing career, and look forward to reading more of her novels in the future.  I would definitely recommend this to teenagers but I am an adult and I enjoyed it.  I expect other adults to enjoy it as well.

I received this from Audible in return for an honest review.  If you would like to go to audible and sample a snippet of Hvam’s narration take the link below.

Half The World – Joe Abercrombie

Half the World (Shattered Sea, #2)

‘Half the World is the second book in the Shattered Sea Series.  The second book in coming of age series typically explore the same protagonist as a new adult swiftly taking it out of the young adult category, but Abercrombie is clever.    ‘Half the World’ remains young adult by giving us two new young ones to follow.  They provide us new perspectives of Father Yarvi’s and Gettland’s struggles with the High King.  Instead of being inside Yarvi’s head we see him through the eyes of new characters, Brand and Thorn.  I think it was smart.  It allows characters to grow up and accomplish great tasks with the required, realistic maturity needed.  We also get to experience a story with a longer ARC than a few years in a traditional young adult format. Brilliant!

We meet Brand and Thorn as they are finishing their training to become warriors.  In Gettland, being a warrior touched by Mother War, is esteemed above all else.  Thorn as a young woman, I can’t say lady because she discourages the idea, is challenging social norms.  Her father died at the King of Vasterland’s hands when she was young and idolized him.   She wants nothing more from life than to be just like him.  A young woman of Gettland can be touched by Mother War but it is rare and discouraged.  She deals with opposition by being prickly, and challenging.  She sees everything as a fight but the result of training continually and being unwilling to give up has made her capable.  Brand’s challenges are nothing like Thorn’s.  His parents both died when he was young, his father was a drunk, and he lived as an orphan caring for his young sister by eating out of the midden heap.  Everything he has he earned by doing jobs no one else wanted.  Being a warrior he sees as the answer to providing for himself and his younger sister.  He is the opposite side of the coin from Thorn.  He holds dear to the idea his mother gave him that if you do good it will one day return to you.  Thorn holds to the ideals her father molded into her – you have to fight for everything you get.

As fate conspires, these two learn that no matter how hard you work, life isn’t always fair.  For different reasons they end up in Father Yarvi’s hands on a mission to find Gettland allies for an inevitable war with the High King, maybe more accurately in a war with Mother Scaer.  The road to either war or peace is littered with bodies, and these two young ones learn the world is not black and white.  What oaths must you keep and which ones do you have to bend to survive?

Abercrombie did a wonderful job with this book.  Their were some awkward moments in his interpretation of a young girl, but being a teenager is awkward.   The moments that make you cringe relate to maturation and romance.  A part of me was questioning why Abercrombie had to include them but the answer is clear.  He is writing young adult fiction and a huge portion of surviving being a teenager is surviving these experiences with all the a gawky and ungainly skill of youth.  It made me laugh companionably.  I grew to appreciate it.

Aside from the themes of youth, ‘Half the World’ is a compelling story about Gettland’s survival.  The politics of war and peace is muddy.  Those who are supposed to speak for Mother War and Father Peace are not that different.  They just use different weapons.  Do you prefer sharpened steel or coercive tactics?  Both take force of will.  Gettland, for all its strength as a warring nation, is small with enemy’s surrounding her.  If they are to succeed in not submitting to the High King they can’t do it alone.  Yarvi must find allies in this book.  These first two books, aside from individual character themes, appear to be preparation for war of a grand scale in the third.

I was impatient for this book.  ‘Half a King’ reminded me of reading coming of age, high fantasy tales when I was a teenager.  It was well written.  Abercrombie did not disappoint with his second book. I’m just as excited to read the third when it comes out.  The Shattered Sea is the first series I have read by Abercrombie but what he has created here makes me want to read more of his work.  I’m impressed with what he has brought to young adult fiction with this.  It is a creative format for a series.  I like the growth and story arc it allows.  This second book boosted my already high impression of Abercrombie and The Shattered Sea.  I believe anyone should be able to enjoy it.

The Thickety: A Path Begins – J. A. White

The Thickety: A Path Begins

A young girl loses her mother at the age of six.  Her mother is accused of witchcraft and killed in front of her in the small colonial village of Denoran.  The village is on an Island surrounded by dark forest known as the Thickety.  It’s black life continues to encroach on the town despite clearers cutting it back every day.  It reminded me of ‘The Heart of Darkness.’  No one can enter and not be changed if they survive at all.



This was another book I found in search for Halloween novels, and it is Halloween Approved!  Halloween is referred to as The Shadow Festival.  Activities include  costumes and traveling from house to house for treats.  There is even a corn maze.  Sordyr is the dark creature that controls the Thickety and the Shadow Festival is dedicated to cautionary tales of Sordyr and is the night he is at his strongest.

This is an intelligent middle school/young adult book that adults can enjoy too.  It centers around Kara who is twelve years old.  She has taken on the role of caring for her family in the absence of her mother.  Her brother is sickly and her father has never gotten over the loss of his wife.  He is barely functional.  Her family is looked down upon if not openly despised by the villagers because their mother was a convicted witch.  The village is a tightly knit religious community and what the “Fender,” similar to a governor, says is law.  The Fender believes Kara is a witch and has believed it since she was six.  He has no proof, however.  If this was not enough adversity for a young girl Kara has a nemesis in the body of a beautiful disabled girl named Grace.  The community sees Grace as a fair-haired angel.  She only shows her dark, cruel, and manipulative side to Kara and her brother Taff.

‘The Thickety’ is filled with magic.  It explores a few themes: what is not understood is seen as dangerous, and the price of power.  Kara is tempted by Sordyr’s creatures into the woods and finds a grimoire.  As she explores its power it brings out darkness, jealousy, vengeance and anger in her.  Sordyr is very similar to the concept of the devil in colonial stories of witches.  He provides temptation and power to young women in exchange for their mortal soul.   The focus of his attentions are on the disenfranchised and outcasts.  I believe that J.A. White did proper research into witch hunts like the Salem witch trials and utilized it intelligently to create this fictional tale.  It is age appropriate for middle grade children but doesn’t shy away from the unfortunate truths of historical  witch hunts.  I am impressed with this new series.   It is a good Halloween read.  It would be frightening for young children but is appropriately suspenseful for older children and young adults.  It is a great introduction to early Halloween traditions in America and colonial belief in witches for young adults.  I recently read The Penguin Book of Witches which is a book of collected true accounts of witch trials.  I was pleasantly surprised that J.A. White’s story kept so close to historically accurate portrayals of the early American beliefs in witches.

There is a wonderful audible version of this book narrated by Susan Duerden.  She has narrated several other books I enjoyed like ‘The Rook.’  She is one of my favorite narrators.  I recommend this in both book and audible format for people with children from the ages of 11-18 and people who enjoy young adult and middle grade books.

Time’s Edge (Chronos Files#2) – Rysa Walker

Time's Edge (The CHRONOS Files, #2)


I recently finished the first book of this series, ‘Time Bound.’  I gobbled it up.  This book was no different.  I shoveled it in without swallowing.  I couldn’t put it down.  We get more time travel, new time lines, people who are different because the time line has changed.  It was intriguing and fun.  The first book took us to the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair stocked with the serial killer H. H. Holmes.  This one we takes us to the assassination of JFK, and the campaign trail of Roosevelt.  Walker picks some fascinating times and places for her characters to travel.  This is the great second installment of the Chronos Files and I encourage you to acquire it.

Kate is back in her original timeline.  There are a few minor things that have changed but the important things, like her parents existing and having her, are back to the way they were.  She is working hard to restore the timeline with Catherine, her grandmother, Connor, and Kiernan’s help.  They are tracking down the keys of the other historians who were stranded when Saul destroyed Chronos.  It’s not always easy to convince them of what has happened, or that they need to give up the keys.  Add to those issues that some of the missions are downright dangerous putting Kate in the path of crocodiles, flying bullets, and lynchings.

This is enough to deal with but Kate is being run ragged by her grandmother whose cancer is progressing making her moody, forgetful, and impatient.  Kate loves her but when she is dealing with Kiernan, who wants her to be his Kate (a Kate that no longer exists due to the disruption of the timeline who loved Kiernan, it’s a bit stressful.  Kiernan tells her how the missions went during the alternate timeline and how frustrated she was with Catherine.  It helps but also fires some frustrations with her grandmother.  Add to the fact she followed through and  introduce herself to the new  timeline Tre, her old boyfriend, and they are trying to figure out exactly what they are to one another.  I previously said that there wasn’t really a love triangle but in book two it legitimately develops into one.  If these irritate you I encourage you to read the books anyway because the rest of the book make up for including the young adult trap.

The Cyrists didn’t go away and they are as dangerous as ever.  In ‘Time’s Edge,’ you learn more about the religion, how and why Saul created them, and about Prudence’s involvement.  Shifting timelines change the level of popularity of the Cyrists but not their fundamental beliefs or structure.  Those remain the same.

Sometimes the second book in a series fails miserably, but Walker did well by keeping our interest with a legitimate storyline that ends in a true cliffhanger.  I’m just as impatient for the third book as I was the second.  She gave us more character history, more information to flesh out motives, and historical information that does not stray to far from the truth.

It is young adult science fiction, but it is good enough to keep adults interested and entertained.  Parents have nothing to worry about in having their teenagers read this.  Swearing is minimal if not non-existant. Sexual relationships are discussed but I would say it is age appropriate.  You can always read it first, but I would say it’s probably an excuse to get your hands on the book before the teenager in the house to avoid having to wait.  Enjoy.

I received this from NetGalley and Amazon Children’s Publishing in return for an honest review.

Timebound – Rysa Walker

Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1)

Time Travel, strong female lead, 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, multiple time lines – what’s not to like.  ‘Timebound’ is the first in Rysa Walker’s Chronos Series.  At this point we know there will be at least three books in the series.  The second book is scheduled to drop on October 21, 2014.  I’m ready for it now.  This is light and fun young adult fiction adults can enjoy.  Walker would have delved much deeper into the science of time travel etc. had it been for an adult audience but  ‘Timeboound’ is still solid.  In some respects it has a flavor of Connie Willis’s take on time travel, but that detracted nothing for me.  Walker also travels to The White City of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.  This is an intriguing time frame for the amount of inventions, scientific discovery, rampant crime, the onslaught of a huge population influx in Chicago for a short period of time, and the notorious serial killer H. H. Holmes.  Walker takes us into this world without overwhelming amounts of historical information or exploiting the dark gritty level of crime to the level of ‘Devil in the White City.’  I enjoyed this book quite a bit.

Prudence Kate Pierce-Keller is a sixteen year old girl who goes to the private school her father works at.  She splits her time between her mom and dad’s house.  The book opens with her grandmother, Katherine, coming into town and unexpectedly wanting to meet with Kate and her mother, Barbara.  Barbara is reluctant,  she has a terrible relationship with her mother.  She only agrees to meet with her because  of Katherine’s diagnosis of cancer.  During the awkward lunch Katherine states she is leaving the house and everything to Kate.  Completely unconditionally she wants Kate and her mother, or Kate and her father, to stay with her so she can get to know her grandchild.  Since Kate is curious and it will be a cold day in hell before Barbara lives with Katherine, Kate and her father move in.

This is where things get interesting.  Her grandmother is  a trapped time traveler from the future.  Who knew? She has a medallion that glows for those with the ability of time travel.  Kate sees blue light and that capability is about to change her life.  Kate is a genetic anomaly, but the integrity of the time line depends on her.  In the future, where Katherine met her husband Saul Rand, children are scientifically altered to increase their abilities and make them suited to specific professions.  Katherine and Saul are historians who, who work for Chronos, and travel through time.  It is very strict about rules.  They protect and ensure the time line is unaltered.  Saul has different ideas, however.  He builds the Cyrist Religion while he is on assignment to purposefully change history.  Aided by his knowledge of the future he amasses power and uses it and the church to control history.  On the day Katherine got stranded in 1969 along with the other historians Saul set off a bomb that made it impossible for them to return to their time.

Saul, however, has not been lazy.  He figured out that while he can not time travel descendants of time travelers can.  He used the Cyrist religion to adapt and alter the timeline.  Kate is the only weapon Katherine has to counteract the damage he is creating.  The story brings us to the center of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.  Kate is on a mission to save her family and history.

This was a delightfully fun book.  It’s just complicated enough, and just accurate enough that I could suspend disbelief and enjoy Walker’s first installment of the Chronos Series.  I said that I believe both young adults and adults can enjoy this.  Does it fall into YA traps?  The romance could be considered a love triangle, but, maybe not.  Can you really have a love triangle when the two male pieces of this puzzle only exist in different time lines?  It’s a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no.  You don’t have two petulant boys pushing a girl to choose to love them and only them.  So, I would say no, and Walker succeeded with the minor romantic element.

What I read is dependent on my moods.  Sometimes I want something that will really challenge me.  That is when I turn to the epics and Umberto Eco.  Sometimes I want something dark and gritty.  That is when I go for mysteries and crime thrillers.  Sometimes I want something lighter that is pure entertainment.  This is when I usually reach for YA, maybe a Nora Roberts book, or light Urban fantasy.  This book falls in this category but I have to give Walker credit and say this is on the higher level of YA.  It’s not just filler or candy.  Now, we get to wait for book two…sigh…

The Casquette Girls – Alys Arden

The Casquette Girls

In Alys Arden’s book ‘The Casquette Girls,” New Orleans has been decimated by a hurricane and most of the city is evacuated.  Only a few brave souls have returned.  The roads and electricity are still down, and continued challenges getting milk, meat, and fresh food.  Help is promised but slow, and all the dead have not been cleared from the condemned buildings and houses.  There are few Police and First Responders.  Looting, and crime in general, is mounting, and a rash of murders are occurring that don’t seem to be hurricane related.

This is the town, Adele Le Moyne, returns to with her father.  Her father runs a well know and well patroned bar in the French Quarter.  She is a 16 year-old brunette, who works at a bakery of repute and goes to a High School for the Arts.  She has just returned after a forced evacuation to France that landed her with her mother she has not seen since she was young.  She is desperate to stay in New Orleans.  This is young adult fiction, and it is paranormal YA that includes vampires, witches, and werewolves on the fringe.  Arden does a fantastic job of describing New Orleans and is able to  juxtapose the city pre-hurricane and post hurricane.

To be honest, I am a bit weary of teenage paranormal romances, especially ones with vampires.  I also, however, did read ‘The Twilight Series.’  They are not my favorite books but I enjoyed them for what they were.  What got my attention her was the intriguing tie in to the historical story of The Casquette Girls.   I wanted to see what Arden did with it, and she did pretty well.  At one point in the book I got a bit unfairly annoyed and felt my eyes rolling back in my head at the romance, but I had to remember this is about a teenage girl.  A big part of being a teenager is dealing with your feelings of attraction in a generally awkward manner.  It comes with the territory.  Is she attracted to a vampire? Yes.  Is she attracted to  a witch.  Yes.  The story’s main focus, however,  is not on romance but on a young witch coming into her powers with a rash of murders that relate to the story of  the infamous Casquette Girls.  The minimal romance is just a bit of frosting to an intriguing mystery.

If you are unfamiliar, The Casquette Girls were orphans from France Louis XIV sent across the ocean  to marry the young men of means and aristocrats he had enticed into settling New Orleans. La Nouvelle-Orleans up to that point had been settled by criminals and prostitutes.  The name “Casquette Girls” came from the fact that the trunks or baggage that carried their dresses and dowry were in the shape of burial caskets.  The Catholic Church came to the city to set up schools specifically for young women of any race at the same time.  Their convent was the home to The Casquette Girls until they could find suitable marriages.  As you can imagine this was not the safest of situations for young girls.

I am trying not to give spoilers but I will say this.  The book is fairly well written.  I enjoyed the modern and historical story of The Casquette Girls.  I was pleased that Adele is not a frail girl in need of saving.  I will say there was a point I got disgusted and nearly abandoned the book when I thought she was going to be “saved by the vampire,” but was pleased with how Arden resolved the story. I recently read an article that many young YA heroines are white brunettes because blonde’s are too trite and girls of other ethnicities to risky.  I can’t speak to that but I will say there does seem to be a  trend, and yes this book does have a young brunette heroine. Overall, I think Arden did a good job, and I would recommend it to teenagers or an adult in need of light reading.

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