Maggie lives in an urban society that has outlawed the use of magic. When the fabric of the dimensions begins to collapse, and holes in reality start to appear, the government tries to use science to deal with the problem. When Maggie meets her new stepfather for the first time, she knows he is involved in some kind of powerful magic, because he is surrounded by wisps of shadow that loom in the darkness. The shadows seem to move about on their own, wiggling and changing with every mood.
I loved the magical urban setting in this book! It’s very modern, with cars and cellphones, but the history of the world includes magic, passed down by genetics through certain families. The world-building has such great depth, and it was so interesting learning all about the magic system.
Copper reflects on the meaning of life as he faces challenges at his school. He befriends a poor classmate who is being teased and bullied, but that puts him in crosshairs as well. Somehow he must find the courage to stand with his friends, and find out what kind of person he really wants to be. Copper’s uncle and mother give him good advice, but ultimately it is up to Copper to make his own decisions.
This book is told in two parts; the first is Copper’s experiences at school and the second is his uncle’s notes to him about philosophy and the underlying meaning behind everyday things. These two perspectives overlap in alternate chapters. First we read about something that happened to Copper and then his uncle writes to Copper about it, expounding on different moral and social ideas of why that particular experience was important and how it can help to shape Copper into a good person.
Cassia follows the rules. She is excited for the benevolent government officials to choose her Match for her, the man she will one day marry. She is matched with her childhood friend, but briefly sees another boy in her match information. She is told that it was only a mistake, but she’s curious about the other match, and begins to bend the rules and then break them.
I really loved the dystopian setup in this book! The seemingly benevolent government who watches your every move, and makes all your life decisions for you based on data and predictions and genetic compatibility. It was such a cool and interesting setting!
I really loved Cassia’s character development. I loved her internal struggle, and how she begins to question her world. She is torn between two boys, two lives, and two selves. Does she choose to play it safe and have a good life with her match? Or does she choose to rebel and live free, but risk losing everything? I was fascinated by the intricate details of her emotions and thoughts.
The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter by Tom Durwood (Goodreads Author) 2 out of 5 stars In 1860s Egypt, Salima helps her father with his ferryboat business, but she longs for more education and wants to travel and see the world. Hoping to make some money to pay for school, she applies for a clerk position with a company overseeing the construction of the Suez Canal. She becomes entangled with the corruption and danger surrounding the various European and Egyptian powers struggling for control of the new canal.
The writing style is really excellent, and made me care deeply about the characters. However, it could use a copy editor for little things like punctuation.
The plot was exciting, and the adventure was interesting. However, there were times when I couldn’t understand why the plot took the direction it did in some scenes. It wasn’t clear why the characters chose to do what they did, or how they got to a certain point, or how they gained particular knowledge. It was just some little things that didn’t quite add up, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the overall story.
Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal 1 out of 5 stars and Did Not Finish Priya has Lyme disease, and wakes up every morning with pain and fatigue. She joins a support group online with other people who have chronic illnesses, and discovers that her best friend might be a werewolf.
In the first 50 pages of this book, nothing happens at all. Well, we get to see some sweet character introductions of Priya and her siblings for about 3 pages. And Priya joins the support group. That’s it. The entire first 50 pages could have been condensed into 5 pages.
And that’s when I got bored and stopped reading. I have a rule that I have to read at least to page 50 before I will let myself DNF a book, knowing that I gave it a fair chance.