REVIEW: The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

REVIEW: The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny LundquistThe Princess in the Opal Mask (The Opal Mask #1) by Jenny Lundquist
Published by Running Press Kids (2013), eBook, 352pg
Filed under: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Got my copy from: Bought
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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Every Fairy-Tale Ending Has a Price. . . .

Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria's royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face--including Wilha herself.

When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face . . . with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks.

I bought this book because of Clare’s review! Go read Clare’s review because it is very well-written.

Unfortunately, I had an almost completely different experience from her! First, the good:
1. the cover.
2. princess(es)!
3. court intrigue kinda? And then…

Currently reading: Essential X-men Vol. 2

essential x-men instagramI’ve been marathon-listening to Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men during my commute, and it’s given me a hankering for superhero comics! The last episode I listened to talked about a few good ways to start reading the X-men series, one of which was to pick up the Essential X-men collections. They’re basically black-and-white reprints bound into hardcover. My library had Essential X-men Vol. 2, so I decided to start there!

It’s SO GREAT. It’s silly and melodramatic, but in an amazingly entertaining way. I’m super glad I listened the podcasts beforehand, though, because it prepared me for what to expect character and plot wise. And it prepared me for Chris Claremont’s writing, too! I love picking out the various things I learned from the podcast– like CC’s mean narrator voice, and Professor X being a terrible mentor.

So I definitely recommend listening to the Rachel and Miles!

Downsides: I do miss having color pages, if only because late 1970s comics clothing is a thing of terrible beauty. Sean Cassidy’s horrible plaid pants! I CAN’T.

What’re you reading this weekend? And then…

REVIEW: The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey

REVIEW: The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian FarreyThe Vengekeep Prophecies (The Vengekeep Prophecies #1) by Brian Farrey
Published by Harper Collins (2012), Hardcover, 400pg
Filed under: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade
Got my copy from: Library
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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“You can’t convict what you can’t confirm.” That’s the motto of 12-year-old Jaxter Grimjinx and his infamous family of thieves. And while Jaxter may not have his father’s burglary prowess, his mother’s forgery skills, or his little sister’s mastery of sleight-of-hand, his book-fed knowledge of non-magical solutions to magical problems makes him invaluable to the family’s heists.

But the Grimjinxes may have pulled one con too many in their hometown, Vengekeep. After swapping the prophetic tapestry used to guide Vengekeep’s actions for a fake concocted by Jaxter’s mother, the Grimjinxes are stunned when the false prophecies begin coming true, bringing destruction in their wake.

Suddenly, Vengekeep is besieged by “natural” disasters and rampaging monsters, courtesy of the secretly enchanted counterfeit tapestry. With his family forced to stay and combat the impending doom, Jaxter must leave his hometown in search of a way to keep the increasingly dangerous prophecies from wiping Vengekeep off the map.

Things that make me happy:
1. Brett Helquist’s illustrations.
2. Con artist families.
3. Con artists turning into heroes.
4. Con artists going on adventures and getting into trouble.

So it’s no surprise that I loved The Vengekeep Prophecies, as it’s got ALL THOSE THINGS. It’s almost as if it were written specifically for me! And then…

REVIEW: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

REVIEW: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily KoppelThe Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
Published by Grand Central Publishing (2013), Hardcover, 288pg
Filed under: Adult, Biography, History, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: Library
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.

Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other's children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.

As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.

I love space! I love people who study space, people who go out into space, people who send other people out into space to study it, etc. etc. You hand me anything involving space ships, aliens, or intergalactic flight, and I am THERE.1

I’m particularly into the early space stuff, from the 1940-1970s. The Astronaut Wives Club, on the surface, seemed like something I’d be into because it covers that time period AND it’s about an aspect of humanity’s history with space that gets overlooked. It’s about the women married to the dudes who went out into space! Should be awesome, right?

Well…not so much. And then…

7 books to take with you on a trip across the seas

7 books to take with you on the high seas

The closest I’ve ever been on a boat is looking at a picture of the Queen Mary, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love reading stories about people who have adventures on the high seas! I’m partial to pirates and naval captains, but I’ll basically read anything if the summary even sniffs near the word “seafaring.”

Here are seven of my favorite books that take place on the ocean:
true confessions of charlotte doyle new cover 1. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

On a long, grueling journey from England to Rhode Island in 1802, a 12 year old changes from a prim and proper girl to a swashbuckling mate of a mutinous crew and is accused of murder by the captain.

Why it’s awesome:
You don’t get many stories about a young girl making her way from typical young gentlewoman to swashbuckling sailor, and this one is particularly intense. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything, including the increasingly mad captain’s violence towards the crew. Besides the thriller aspects, there’s also a lot of interesting information about ships and the people who sail them, plus life on the sea and all its perils. Charlotte is a particularly good character– strong and unwavering in her beliefs, as well as of course being adventurous and willing to do hard work. It’s a wonderfully fresh look at a coming-of-age story, and a ripping good yarn as well. And then…

Currently (re)reading: The Warrior’s Apprentice (also, it’s annual book purge time)

Warrior's ApprenticeI’m currently in the early stages of a reread of The Warrior’s Apprentice, a Vorkosigan saga book. I LOVE IT SO MUCH it’s actually making me giddy reading it, and I have to keep taking breaks to calm down. I’m a little surprised at how vehement my love for it is, since when I reviewed it the first time I only gave it 3.5 stars. But that’s the nice thing about rereading! All the things I liked about it the first time gets added to all the things I like about now, and it turns into something AWESOME.

Meanwhile, I’m going through my paper book collection and getting rid of anything I can.

I’m out of room, y’see! And a lot of books in my collection are ones I’ve read once, five years ago. I’ve kept them because I might want to reread them someday– but it hasn’t happened yet, and meanwhile I’ve got about two inches of space to move around in my bedroom. And then…

REVIEW: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

REVIEW: Three Parts Dead by Max GladstoneThree Parts Dead (Craft Sequence #1) by Max Gladstone
Published by Tor Books (2012), eBook, 336pg
Filed under: Adult, Fantasy, Fiction
Got my copy from: Bought
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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A god has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.

Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb’s slim hope of survival.

I can’t remember how this ended up on my wishlist, but it probably had something to do with the cover. LOOK at it! It’s so amazing– and the story inside is just as good.

Loved the protagonist, Tara, and her scary-competent boss. Abelard, a monk with shades of various Terry Pratchett characters, was also very likable. I had a great time rooting for Tara and Abelard to solve the mystery and save the city.

I also REALLY liked the way the characters (and the story) worked through different ideas of power. Power of gods vs. humans, power of man vs. woman, power of the mind vs. body, etc. It made the story more thoughtful than just a regular fantasy-mystery– though of course it’s a superb fantasy-mystery, too! And then…