The Crown Conspiracy by Michael Sullivan
THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats to the murder of the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.
I've had this book high on my To Read list for almost two years now but I just couldn't get a hold of it. You can therefore imagine my delight when I unexpectedly came across the audio book of The Crown Conspiracy on Podiobooks. I immediately started listening to it and then spent the next couple of days looking for any excuse I could think of to keep on listening (which meant I did a lot of chores during this time).
The Crown Conspiracy was just so much fun, the kind of fantasy that reminds me of why I love the genre. It was fast paced, exciting and contained enough twists to keep me guessing until the end. It's also full of wonderful characters that followed me right off the page, hanging out with me between "readings". Though I was a bit disappointed that the princess, one of the books' few female characters, didn't get more page time. I really liked her and would have enjoyed getting to know her better.
The book's narrator, Nathan Lowell, also did a fantastic job reading it and I now can't decide if I should read the next book or listen to it (that is, if the audio is available). But there is no question that I will definitely be continuing on with this series.
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.
The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.
I Am Number Four is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.
For some reason that I'm not exactly sure of I had developed expectations of I Am Number Four that were so different from what is actually delivered that it was inevitable that I would be disappointed. Part of it was the fault of the book blurb, which seems to promise a thrilling, fast paced scifi adventure. For some reason I was also under the impression that this was dystopia. And I do clearly remember reading a review in which the reviewer said that the story moved so quickly and was so intense that she could barely catch her breath. As it turned out, on all counts I was completely off the mark.
First of all, I Am Number Four takes place in a modern setting, which I didn't mind but I was just a bit surprised. What I did mind, though, was that the story moves forward so slowly without any of the thrills and excitement that the book blurb promised. It's true that someone is hunting for John, but all John does is sit and wait for them to come, while playing around with his newly manifested powers and falling in love some girl he's only known for a couple of days, but for whom he's willing to risk his planet's future for (oh please!) It also never made sense to me why these creatures are trying to kill John. If they had destroyed his planet for it's resources, why did they care if he and the other children escaped to Earth? It just made no sense to me.
I Am Number Four has a great premise, which I would love to see brought to life in the hands of another author. But in this author's hands it just falls flat.
Magic Under Glass Jaclyn Dolamore
Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir.Magic Under Glass was an enjoyable story that had a bit of a younger tone than I had expected, though the same time it surprised me with some of the complex subject matters that it deals with.
Unsettling below-stairs rumors abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.
I very much liked Nimira, a young, feisty heroine who is determined to succeed in this land so far away from her home and I enjoyed watching her relationship with the automation develop from friendship to love. This was a whimsical story that reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones's works, though without the charismatic male protagonists that make her stories so memorable.
Magic Under Glass was a quick, enjoyable read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to most YA fantasy readers.