The Freemason’s Daughter by Shelley Sackier

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The Outlander series for the YA audience—a debut, full of romance and intrigue, set in early eighteenth-century Scotland.

Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.

Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex.

Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for?

In Shelley Sackier’s lush, vivid historical debut, someone will pay a deadly price no matter which choice Jenna makes.

Picked up an ARC from NYCC 2016.

This story is being advertised as “The Outlander series for the YA audience” and I don’t agree. I never read Outlander, or seen the show, but from what I have heard The Freemason’s Daughter doesn’t have enough romance to earn that comparison. I am not saying I expect sex scenes in a YA novel, but there wasn’t enough heat between Jenna and Alex. Or Jenna and Daniel.

There also was not enough action, conflict, or suspense. Not much happens in the book until the last few chapters, which were rushed and then it ends abruptly. There were some points when I thought it would finally become exciting,

Spoilers!

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Top Ten Tuesday – July 25: All about the visuals: Favorite Graphic Novels/Comic Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

This was originally a TTT on January 31, but I never got to do it.  I’ll do it now in honor of SDCC this past weekend, and since The Broke and the Bookish prompts are on hiatus.

Been years since I read all these Clone Wars volumes. I’m just mentioning the parts that stuck out in my mind.

1) Star Wars: Clone Wars, Volume 7: When They Were Brothers
Script by W. Haden Blackman, Art by Brian Ching

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Many on both sides of the Clone Wars have been wounded or killed. But the war has taken its toll on the survivors, too.

Consumed by the belief that the Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress still lives, Obi-Wan Kenobi has temporarily forsaken his duties and recruited Anakin Skywalker in his desperate hunt for Ventress.

But Anakin believes that Obi-Wan is chasing a ghost-because he himself killed Ventress. And Anakin’s doubts about his former Master’s quest are not assuaged when, following the trail of the rumors of Ventress’ existence, they walk into a trap set by their old enemies, the bounty hunter Durge and Count Dooku!

A tale that tests the strengths of the bonds of brotherhood!
• Collects Obsession Issues 1-5 and the 2005 Free Comic Book Day comic.

I don’t love the art, but I like it. It’s a bit scratchy at times, but the story is my favorite. First of all there is Anakin and Padmé on Naboo. Five months before the events of RotS. MMM-hmmm. *waggles eyebrows* *whispers: Luke and Leia*
Second, Obi-Wan interrupts them to ask for Anakin’s help hunting Ventress.
Third, Ventress!!! She lives.

2)Star Wars: Clone Wars, Volume 9: Endgame
Script by John Ostrander, Pencils by Jan Duursema, Inks by Dan Parsons, Colors by Brad Anderson.

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In the jungles of the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk, Quinlan Vos wages a battle of impossible odds against his own troops to protect his loved ones. On the icy Outer Rim world of Toola, Jedi Master Kai Huddora takes a terrified Padawan into his charge after her own master falls to Order 66. Amidst the forests of New Plymto, Dass Jennir finds himself in league with a band of rebels he’d led attacks against only days before. Not all Jedi are scattered across the galaxy however, and soon, a brave few will plot to topple Sith rule-by setting a trap for the newly unveiled Darth Vader!

• Collects Star Wars: Republic 79-83 and the one shot Star Wars: Purge

I love the conclusion of Quinlan Vos’ story and that he survived Order 66 (this is now Legends). The artwork for the pages when he reunites with Khaleen and meets his son Korto are so beautiful. Clean and realistic. I like comic books where the art looks so realistic you feel it can be a photo.

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Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons Of Ares #3

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Story by Pierce Brown, Script by Rik Hoskin, Art by Eli Powell.

Amidst the Sons’ daring operation, Fitchner recalls the assignment where he learned about true strength and honor from the Reds his Gold contemporaries looked down upon. Haunted by the things he experienced at The Institute, his life takes a turn as he meets the woman who would forever change his life…and, therefore, society as a whole!

 

I have been looking forward to this issue because we get to see Fitchner meet his wife, Brynn. Comic books always sum up the story so we don’t get the in-depth details, but I liked seeing how their meeting occurred and relationship developed.

I don’t see why the curse words are blocked out. I think of this story as being for adults and there is plenty of violence in them, so why block out the curses?

I still don’t like the sloppy style of the artwork. Though the cover by Toby Cypress, with Brynn’ flaming red hair is my favorite. Looking at the past issues I like the covers by Toby Cypress and not the covers by Eli Powell.

Looking forward to more Fitchner and Brynn, even though it does not end well.

4.5 out of 5 scythes. 

 

 

Nemesis (Project Nemesis 1) by Brendan Reichs

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He killed me. He killed me not. He killed me.

It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.

For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.

 

I got an ARC from NYCC 2016.

I enjoyed this book because it was a quick page turner. I just had to know what exactly was going on and if my suspicions were correct. The suspense pushed me to speed through.

I didn’t see the explanation coming but I don’t think my theory was that far off. There are still some questions that need answers. I’m sure it’s being saved for book 2.

I liked Min a lot. She was a fighter. Noah was annoying at times but the build up of his character makes sense in the end. What I felt had no foundation was the attraction between them. I was glad that the love triangle (I guess they are obligatory in YA novels) was minor and not the focus.

The bullies/popular kids were mainly one dimensional but I understood the motivations when I guessed correctly about two of them.

Sometimes the dialogue was repetitive when the three main characters were searching for answers or were discussing theories.

These critiques are not deal breakers. I found it to be an engaging story. The set up was exciting and reveal left me wanting to know some answers.

I am looking forward to Phase 2. Goodreads says Genesis comes out in March 2018.

4 out of 5 Resets.

Some of my thoughts. Beware: Spoilers!

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Pierce Brown’s Red Rising: Sons Of Ares #2 by Pierce Brown, Rik Hoskin, Eli Powell

Story by Pierce Brown, Script by Rik Hoskin, Art by Eli Powell.

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Pierce Brown’s Red Rising continues with Sons of Ares!

While the Sons of Ares are on the run as their mission takes a deadly turn, Fitchner Au Barca’s time at The Institute is revisited. He learned many lessons there, but the most important of all was one of loyalty. The Peerless Scarred stand above all and look down on the rest. Their dismissal of one of their own proves to be a fateful error.

I liked it better then the first issue. Still not a fan of the style of artwork.  The story is picking up and there was more background story for Fitchner’s parents and his time at the Institute. I like the way it left off for the next issue and I am really excited for it.

4 out of 5 Scars.

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn, Marc Thompson (Narrator)

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In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power—uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Darth Vader; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, Ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat and leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics, where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendancy.

I really enjoyed this book and one of the many reasons why is because Thrawn is part of the new Disney canon! I was so happy to see him on Star Wars: Rebels. Not much was changed about him. Still the same species, still a tactical genius and a savant at studying artwork to know his enemy. I squeed when he gets his Star Destroyer, Chimaera. I now want to go back and listen to the audiobooks of The Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command).

It feels funny rooting for him because he works for the Empire, but he is just so good at what he does. Of course he has faults. He’s not very good at politics and he does face prejudices for being an alien from the Unknown Territories.

I really enjoyed Thrawn’s insight into people. There would be an aside of his observations of them and their reactions. Like studying art, it’s how he would anticipate their actions.

I also loved how every chapter started out with his how-to-be a genius at strategy. It was like the Star Wars version of “The Art of War by Grand Admiral Thrawn.”

A few critiques:
1. Some parts I thought were slow and my mind would wander off. Mostly it was the parts with Arihnda Pryce, but there is a point to her subplot. Her political manipulations balance with Thrawn’s military tactics. Some of the missions Thrawn and Eli were on were slow, but they all come together in the end and add up to a final conclusion.
2. Sometimes Thrawn’s voice was so soothing I would drift off to sleep and would have to go back and listen again. (Thrawn says “Perhaps” a lot. A LOT.)
3. Thrawn’s aide, Eli Vanto, got on my nerves sometimes. He was taking too long to get up to speed with Thrawn’s plans.

Marc Thompson is an excellent narrator. I know I said Thrawn’s voice was so soothing I would drift off to sleep, but it was so perfect. Matched the voice on Star Wars: Rebels. He was also excellent at performing the voices for the Emperor and Tarkin.
My favorite voice though was Arihnda Pryce’s friend. I think her name was Jewett? I can’t find her on Wookieepedia. It is really annoying when their articles and character lists are incomplete. I wonder if the printed edition has a Dramatis Personae…
Anyway, her voice was so funny. It was like the Star Wars version of a valley girl and I could not be more amused by the way Marc Thompson performed her voice.

From now on I want to listen to Star Wars on audiobooks. It’s like a radio drama with the sound effects and the music.

4 out of 5 Glowing Red Eyes.

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Spoilers Below.

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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I loved this book so much. During the epilogue I was reading through tears. I felt the outcome of events was very plausible and a good balance to the fateful events that took place throughout the book.

I didn’t cry the entire time, just during the epilogue. It was also really funny too, like when Times Square was compared to hell. I feel the same way. As a native New Yorker the setting was another favorite thing of mine. It really made the story come alive. I could picture everything about it.

I connected with both Natasha and Daniel. Like Daniel I believe in fate. I think coincidences are very, very rare and it’s most likely something “meant to be”, that events are lining up to all connect together.
I also believe there are infinate multiverses. For each choice we make somewhere out there is a version of us that made a different choice.

I love the short chapters (makes for a fast read), and the different points of view from the older generation that immigrated to the U.S., the kids who grew up in the U.S., and the strangers who effect and are affected by the main characters. It really made it complete and balanced.

At the end of the month the film adaptation of Nicola’s other book, Everything, Everything, is coming to theaters. I hope it’s a good adaptation and does well at the box office so that this book can also be adapted into a film.

5 out of 5 Suns that are also stars.