Publisher: Skyscape


Review: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

January 12, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★

Review: Ticker by Lisa MantchevTicker by Lisa Mantchev
Published by Skyscape on December 1, 2014
Genres: Steampunk, YA, YA Historical, YA Sci-fi
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0 (one guy might be bisexual?)
Disability: 3 (Penny’s bad heart and subsequent bad replacement heart count)
Intersectionality: 0

Lisa Mantchev’s Theatre Illuminata trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series and I don’t think that will ever change. Its whimsical tone and imaginative use of theatrical mainstays like Shakespeare’s plays (among many others) enchanted me from the very first page. Naturally, a steampunk novel from her would have much the same effect on me! Well, that was the assumption. It was as intensely readable as her past works, but like its heroine Penny, it has a bit of a defective heart.

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Review: Silvern by Christina Farley

October 30, 2014 Reviews 0 ★½

Review: Silvern by Christina FarleySilvern by Christina Farley
Series: Gilded #2
Published by Skyscape on September 23, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: finished copy from Amazon Vine
Jae Hwa Lee has destroyed Haemosu, the dangerous demi-god that held her ancestors captive, and now she’s ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life. Then the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. Jae escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it.

But Kud is stronger and more devious than Haemosu ever was. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.

While Farley’s debut failed to impress me, I came back for Silvern with hope of so much more, like something being done about how Jae Hwa feels less Korean than her white-as-bread boyfriend Marc. That’s a serious thing they would need to discuss and I’d love to see that kind of discussion between them. Alas, I didn’t get anything on that front nor did I get anything that made me happy I’d read this book at all. Farley kept me reluctantly reading from beginning to end by using my favorite trope, but Silvern is both a weak second novel in the Gilded series and kinda racist.

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Review: World After by Susan Ee

October 13, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: World After by Susan EeWorld After by Susan Ee
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #2
Published by Skyscape on November 19, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, YA, YA Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

Pretty much everyone who has been on the blogging/indie scene for at least two years knows about how massive a critical hit the initially-self-published novel Angelfall was. We’ve been waiting on pins and needles ever since for the next book, but it took me pretty close to a year to get around to reading the book in question. Oops? Stuff gets in the way. We all know it. While I have fond memories of Angelfall, I can’t say I feel the same about World After because of its serious case of Middle Book Syndrome. Read more »


Review: Gilded by Christina Farley

April 28, 2014 Reviews 2 ★★★

Review: Gilded by Christina FarleyGilded by Christina Farley
Series: Gilded #1
Published by Skyscape on March 4, 2014
Genres: YA Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she's next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There's also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae's heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae's been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she's always been looking for.

Asian fantasy YA is always on my wishlist and it’s darn near on the level of “NEEEEEEED” if the main character in said Asian fantasy YA is actually Asian and not a white boy or girl dumped into Japan, Korea, India, etc. and then stuff starts happening. Gilded quenched my thirst for a little while and I’ll be coming back for the sequel because I really do like where it’s going, but the novel is nowhere near as strong as it should be. Read more »


Review: Bird With the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara Mariconda

January 30, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Bird With the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara MaricondaBird With the Heart of a Mountain by Barbara Mariconda
Published by Skyscape on January 14, 2014
Genres: YA Historical
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
I throw back my tumble of black hair, roll one bare shoulder forward, then the other. The stack of bangles on each wrist shimmies and slides as my hands rise like birds in flight.

Set during the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War, sixteen-year-old Drina yearns to dance Flamenco. When she dances, she forgets who she is. She forgets what seems to be her legacy: I am nothing. I belong nowhere. Why does her mother forbid her to dance, the very thing that makes her feel alive? She wonders about the secrets her mother holds, about the rumored life she had before Drina was born – a story that somehow still holds them both prisoner. From the wandering Gypsy campagne to the vineyard estate of a paternal grandmother she has never known and the dance halls of Seville where Flamenco reigns, Drina fights to discover who she is and where she belongs. Not quite Gypsy, not quite Spanish, she must carve out an identity all her own and discover what it means to be a bird with the heart of a mountain. Full of mystery, loss and longing, this powerful novel brilliantly captures a young girl’s yearning and her adventurous journey to discover her true home.

Any books involving the Roma intrigue me and scare the crap out of me in equal measure, especially when written by someone who isn’t part of that culture. You know why? 90% of the world fails to realize GYPSY IS A RACIAL SLUR OUTSIDERS SHOULD NOT USE and when they’re talking about how they like Gypsy fashion and the Gypsy lifestyle, they are being incredibly racist. The last Roma-related novel I read was Burning by Elana K. Arnold and while the Roma girl’s point of view was perfect, the outsider boy’s was beyond racist and painful to read. Though it isn’t perfect, Mariconda wrote a good, entertaining Roma novel that isn’t offensive. Thank goodness! Read more »


Review: The Meme Plague by Angie Smibert

October 27, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★

Review: The Meme Plague by Angie SmibertThe Meme Plague by Angie Smibert Published by Skyscape on August 13, 2013
Genres: YA Dystopian
Pages: 234
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
It begins with the name JONAS W. on the side of a cardboard coffin—right before the funeral procession blows up. Then it’s the whisper in the back of Micah’s head: Your father betrayed his country. You can’t always trust your own brain. Not when you have one of the mayor’s mandatory chips in your skull. Micah knows that the chip developed by TFC (the corporation that runs the Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics) does more than just erase unpleasant memories—it implants new ones. The MemeCast warns citizens to “fight the hack.”

Micah and his friends have each lost something—a parent, a relationship, a home, maybe even their own identities as they remembered them to be. But together, they can make sure some things are never forgotten.

Election Day is coming, and Mayor Mignon is set to be elected to Congress. It’s time to build a new electronic frontier, one that’s not controlled by the mayor and his cronies. It’s time to get out the vote and shake up the system. It’s time to finally say enough.

It’s entirely possible I’ve used this joke before and forgot, but despite being centered on memory and the government’s control of it, this is a very forgettable series. It’s got the setting and societal critiques down and paints a vivid picture of what may be only of the only realistic dystopias in YA, but it’s so weak in terms of characters and plotting that this almost gets erased. Despite the short length, The Meme Plague is a difficult book to get through.

Smibert writes a thorough critique of how dependent we are on technology and it’s not entirely unbelievable that people would want certain memories removed–or that others would take advantage of that to keep making money. YA has a lot of pseudo-dystopians that say nothing about society and lack teeth, but this trilogy isn’t one of them. If there’s a dystopian fan out there that hasn’t tried at least the first book, I am SHOCKED. And will tell them to start this series right now.

Beyond that, there are pop culture references to things from our time that actually work, like to Forrest Gump (Lieutenant Dan!) and the Matrix trilogy of movies. Not gonna lie, I got a little giddy when one tech setup was described as “so 2012″ and Jacksonville, Florida got a mention. Mentions of my city do that to me.

The narration is part of where the problem begins. We’ve got five narrators sharing this story and they all start to blend together after a while. Velvet’s sections and every ridiculous piece of advice she spouts from her Book of Velvet (her rulebook for life) makes me want to shake her until she stops talking for the rest of forever. Also annoying is Nora and her endless use of the word “glossy” to describe things. Trendy saying of the near-future or not, it’s annoying. Micah’s story and its resolution are great, but they’re not strong enough to outweigh his more annoying co-narrators.

Combine all this with a poorly written open ending for this trilogy and you have a wholly unsatisfying book. To keep it vague, the government is only going to pass the office on to the next, likely corporate-sponsored candidate once it realizes the person who got elected to several positions cross several states can’t ever hold office and nothing at all will change. Gah! I might read more from Smibert if she publishes more, but here’s hoping it will be stronger all-around.