After a reading slump in March and early April, I read ten novels in the second half of April — that’s almost a book-a-day.
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater ★★★★★ (YA, realistic fantasy, mythology)
- Mercury Rises and Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese ★★★☆☆ (paranormal fantasy, indie, apocalyptic)
- A School for Villians by Ardyth Debruyn (MG, high fantasy, wizard school parody, humor, indie)
- Foiled by Jane Yolen ★★★★☆ (YA, graphic novel, fantasy, fencing)
- The Hidden Institute by Gamblin Brand ★★★☆☆ (Sci-fi, humor, steampunk, indie)
- The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, and The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Chima Williams ★★★★☆ (YA, epic fantasy)
- Untraceable by S.R. Johannes ★★★★☆ (YA, mystery, outdoorsy, adventure, indie)
The Scorpio Races. But that’s hardly fair — it would be hard to put any book up against the lyric beauty of Scorpio Races. Moody and atmospheric, I felt the cold wind blowing off the sea and the fog creeping over the island reading this book on a warm, sunny, spring day. You won’t be able to put the book down.
Best Indie Book?
Untraceable. Without hesitation. S.R. Johannes writes a tight, fast moving adventure story with a strong, ourdoorsy, girl protagonist. Thoroughly enjoyable. Can’t wait for the next one.
The Rest of the Indie Books?
Mercury Rises and Mercury Falls were readable but I probably won’t read another book by Kroese because the of long, monologic, dialogs where the characters serve as mouthpieces for the author’s philosophical beliefs. These ideas are expressed over and over again until I found myself skimming large sections of the book. I enjoy a book with a philosophical undercurrent (such as Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy) but not when the ideas are spelled out for me. Repeatedly.
Also, the 70’s and 80’s pop culture jokes were so over-done that I had to stop reading to roll my eyes. What saved these books for me (and made me read both books) was that I loved the character of Mercury.
The Hidden Institute is a fun book featuring Dickensian street urchins; a dystopian, steampunk, quasi-Victorian world; bear polo; witty, Jeeves-like robot butlers; tattooed assassins; balls; intrigue; and an illegal, underground school for the upwardly socially mobile. Unfortunately this book needs polishing, tightening. The pacing needs work, as do the character and plot arcs. The storytelling is intriguing enough that I’ll give Brand Gamblin a chance with the next book he writes.