Friday, August 8, 2014

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

Alistair and Fiona were friends when they were little but they haven't really spoken for years when she asks him to write her biography.  Intrigued, Alistair listens to Fiona's story of how she travels into a magical world called Aquavania where she can create her own reality but where there is also the Riverman who steals souls from the children who visit there.  Fiona claims to have already lost several friends and believes she will be next.  She also believes that, like the children who are in Aquavania, Riverman exists in the real world.  Alistair isn't sure what to believe of Fiona's story.  Is she crazy or is she trying to tell him about something terrible happening in her real life, possibly something with her odd uncle who is a Vietnam War veteran?  Either way he is drawn to Fiona and determined to find out the truth.

The story sounds intriguing and in fact I found myself interested in this book right at the beginning.  But the more I read the more angry I found myself at the artsy-ness of it all.  It reads - to me - like one of those things that is meant to sound deep and that people are inclined to praise because it's obvious that it must have some deep meaning.  Or maybe I just didn't get it.  Or maybe, like other things I've watched and read recently that I've disliked, it's just sort of hope-less and I don't like that.  But when I finished the book my first reaction was "Huh?" and then "Ugh."

Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

Natalya knows that one day she will be the Tsarina of Russia once she marries her childhood friend Alexi and he takes his rightful place as Tsar.  Natalya worries about Alexi's health since he has a disease that causes him to bleed uncontrollably.  But Alexi has a secret he shares with Natalya:  his family has a Faberge egg that is filled with magical protection thanks to the sorcerer Rasputin.  As long as the Romanovs control the egg they will be healthy and continue their rule of Russia.  But the people of Russia are tired of starving and working hard while the noble people party.  The Reds stage and uprising to overthrow the Romanovs and share the power equally so Alexi and his family have to go into hiding.  Natalya and her friend Emilia try to escape St. Petersburg but are kidnapped by the Reds who know about the magical egg and want to use it for themselves.  Natalya is determined to protect the man she loves and vows to get the egg out of Russia herself, even if that means getting closer to her kidnapper and learning about his cause.

Obviously, this book is set against the backdrop of the Russian revolution with the real ruling family and their fate as well as actual events that happened at that time.  It is mostly historical fiction with just a little magic in the form of the egg.  What happens in the story is not a surprise.  Natalya is a strong heroine and while the book wasn't a favorite, it's a reliable adventure.

Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

Zephyr is a Harpy who has been banished to the underworld after killing a god, something that should have been impossible.  Her new best friend in Cass who has protected Zephyr several times in the Pits.  Zephyr knows it's only a matter of time before one of the many mythological creatures who are after her finally succeed in killing her once and for all.  So she jumps at the chance to escape to the mortal realm with her childhood friend Tallon who somehow has the ability to travel through the rift between the two worlds.  Once there, she finds that everyone believes she is the Nyx,a dark hero foretold to bring down Hera and her accolytes and restore balance to the world.  Zephyr is sure they are wrong because she certainly doesn't feel like a hero but events have been set in motion that can't be stopped and Zephyr seems to be exuding the power to handle them. 

There are a lot of mythology books out there now but this one has some different twists to it.  The more I reflect on it the more I remember so it's more complex than several others I've read recently. 
In fact, my summary doesn't even include the nature of her powers or what's happening with Tallon, whether we can trust Cass, her Harpy training, and her aunt - all of which are important to the story.  A different take on a popular genre.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

It was harder to fit in than Levi expected when he moved from California to Wisconsin.  Luckily, Macallan took pity on him and invited him to sit at a lunch table with her friends.  From that point on the two become inseparable best friends.  They are so close that everyone assumes they are dating even though both of them have other relationships at different times.  But as time goes on they find that they don't have as much fun with their other relationships as they do with each other and their partners are resentful of the closeness Macallan and Levi share.  But will the timing ever work out for these two best friends to become something more? 

My review:  Ugh!  Make this better!!!