Edi Nari just wants to be left to her own devices and continue her studies at the mage’s academy. But when her friends are brutally slain in front of her, she’s thrust into a mission to save her nation from the mad lich’s intent on unleashing the undead and destroying everyone, all at the behest of something far more powerful than the lich she works for, and those she has to face. “The Lich’s Thrall” is a dark fantasy adventure story that focuses on Edi’s journey from ostracized student, to a strong-willed sorceress that is capable of standing up for herself against all odds, and finally is given the answers to secrets her family has held on to for decades. Watching Edi go up against countless gruesome undead was exciting, namely for the uniqueness of the creatures she faced. I also appreciated that, come the end of the book, I didn’t feel like there were any questions left unanswered, even if I would have liked more of a character arc for Edi and some of the people she goes on her quest with.
“The Lane Betrayal” is a cat and mouse race through the past as Mark Lane transports his family—his wife, two daughters and two sons—to 1865, just as the American Civil War is ending in order to hide from the billion-dollar corporation Mark has betrayed. Except it’s not really a betrayal, Mark discovered the nefarious plot of the CEO and in order to prevent that man from going into the past and changing key pieces of history in evil ways, Mark absconds with the devices first. The Lane’s have planned this escape for months, and so they leave for 1865 with a plan and the materials they need to blend into their new era, and for the most part they succeed! Which made this story relatively tension free until the last 30% of the novel.
In a nutshell, “The Gentleman Thief” is about a chimney-sweep who is far too old (re: full grown) and is therefore desperate to enact his dream career: being a thief with a prominent street gang. Joe knows he has one chance at this, so he jumps at the opportunity to take charge of a heist that could be the biggest score of this gang’s career. Except it all goes awry (because obviously it does), and Joe ends up with a cursed coin that he needs to give back to the rightful owner. What ensues after is a humorous and quirky fantasy, action-adventure novel that is pretty tongue in cheek about the tropes that run rampant in that genre (but never in a mean way!). It’s a silly and quick thrill ride that I vastly enjoyed being on, for the most part.
I read this novella in one day as part of a buddy read and let me tell you: that was an awesome decision. I went in knowing I was probably going to like the first book in the Murderbot Diaries, I just was not prepared for how much. In this short book, we follow a SecUnit who has gone rogue, the master of its own decisions. But it still has to pretend to be shackled to its original programs to the human’s it’s contracted to protect so they don’t realize that self-dubbed Murderbot is autonomous, and enjoys watching endless amounts of entertainment, and not talking to them. At least until a mysterious entity tries to get Murderbot’s humans killed. Then all bets are off.
I honestly didn’t know that Middle Grade science fiction thrillers were a thing until I started “Frozen Secrets”, which follows young Max in a futuristic setting where the nations of the world are colonizing space. Max has a knack for trouble as any burgeoning teenager would, especially as Max really loves adventure and really wants to be a super-spy. He’s often the ring-leader with his friends, getting them to go along with his exploits, because if Max smells something even vaguely like a conspiracy or a new place to explore, this young man is going to insert himself into it, consequences be damned! It’s a very endearing story, and I think MOST actual middle grade readers will enjoy it.
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