Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn (Forget Tomorrow #2)

Redd Becker Book Review

Pintip Dunn fills every chapter of Remember Yesterday with driving action.  by Pintup DunnWe quickly learn our heroine’s sister, Callie, committed suicide to stop future memory research. The nation’s leader pushes on, however, with her vision to mold a society with precognition. A society that already knows its future because future selves send information backward in time. The chairwoman’s plans include winnowing out anyone who doesn’t have precognition. The young Jessa commits herself to fulfilling her sister’s wish to stop the project.

Jessa makes an intriguing heroine. She’s dynamic, conflicted and opinionated. Since she and her twin possessed the power of precognition, she believes she has a chance of stopping the research.

The tension of romance muddles Jessa’s perspective, however, when she collaborates with the young scientist, Tanner, to save her sister. Jessa is both aroused and ethically repelled by what Tanner represents to her. But the twist at the end puts their relationship in new light.

Pintip Dunn’s story comes full circle by the conclusion. Fresh imagery make this a fun read. This is the second book of the series, and Dunn leaves plenty of room to continue to story.

Pintip Dunn Wins the  RITA

Although Goodreads readers didn’t classify Dunn’s book in the Romance genre, Dunn won the RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America for Forget Tomorrow in 2016. Dunn placed in many other award lists as well, which recognizes her fresh writing style, intriguing heroines and driving plots.

For a list of 25 great paranormal romances, check out the  Best Fantasy Books website.

Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn (Forget Tomorrow #2)Remember Yesterday (Forget Tomorrow, #2) by Pintip Dunn
Published by Entangled: Teen on October 4th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Goodreads

Follow-up to the New York Times bestselling novel, Forget Tomorrow!
Would you change the past to protect your future?
Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries, if only she’d let TechRA study her. But ten years ago, the scientists kidnapped and experimented on her, leading to severe ramifications for her sister, Callie. She’d much rather break into their labs and sabotage their research—starting with Tanner Callahan, budding scientist and the boy she loathes most at school.
The past isn’t what she assumed, though—and neither is Tanner. He’s not the arrogant jerk she thought he was. And his research opens the door to the possibility that Jessa can rectify a fatal mistake made a decade earlier. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister—even if it means teaming up with the enemy she swore to defeat.

Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #6)

Redd Becker Book Review

Darynda Jones writes cross-genre novels that highlight romance, by Darynda Jonesmystery and the occult. Her writing style captures her protagonist’s sharp, irreverent personality and keeps you in Charley’s mind set. Jones breaks the traditional literary approach, but she punches her story up with fun similes, creative descriptions and unexpected subplots that take the reader on tangents into the world of angels, Lucifer’s children and the afterlife.

The protagonist, Charley, sees ghosts. She inherited the role of ‘grim reaper’ which gives her the power to help souls transition, but additional powers, hinted-at, lurk beneath the surface. With a compassionate perspective and defiant approach, Charley blunders forward resolving crisis for the living and dead alike.

To spice the story up romantically, the devil’s son, Reyes, entangles Charley in his sexy-hot tentacles which creates tension, titillation and intrigue.

For me, a muddled middle of subplots left me wondering. By the end I was left wondering. Many of the subplots don’t resolve cleanly and the ending opened as many doors as it closed. Regardless, plenty more books in the series carry Charley’s tale forward.

Darynda Jones Writes with Wit

Darynda Jones’ fresh writing (as writing coach, Margie Lawson, would say) entertains and keeps the reader captivated. Her characters verge on the hilarious; such as a corpse with a hard-on who rides shot-gun in her car.

A review on the first three Charley Davidson novels at FictionVixen provides the foundation for the series, although it contains spoilers.

Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #6)Sixth Grave on the Edge (Charley Davidson, #6) by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #6
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 20th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 326
Goodreads

Few things in life can come between a grim reaper and her coffee, but the sexy, sultry son of Satan is one of them. Now that Reyes Farrow has asked for her hand, Charley Davidson feels it's time to learn more about his past, but Reyes is reluctant to open up. When the official FBI file of his childhood abduction lands in her lap, Charley decides to go behind her mysterious beau’s back and conduct her own investigation. Because what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, another case has fallen into her lap—one with dangerous implications. Some very insistent men want Charley to hunt down a witness who is scheduled to testify against their boss, a major player in the local crime syndicate. If Charley doesn't come up with an address in 48 hours, the people closest to her will start to disappear.
Add to that a desperate man in search of the soul he lost in a card game, a dogged mother determined to find the ghost of her son, and a beautiful, young Deaf boy haunted by his new ability to see the departed as clearly as he sees the living, and Charley has her hands full. The fact that Reyes has caught on to her latest venture only adds fuel to the inferno that he is. Good thing for Charley she's used to multi-tasking and always up for a challenge…especially when that challenge comes in the form of Reyes Farrow.

The Immortal Throne (The City #2) by Stella Gemmell, author of The City

Redd Becker Book Review

The Immortal Throne by Stella Gemmell portrays a saga of war. As in war, a plethora of characters with conflicting perspectives vie for by Stella Gemmellattention. Gemmell moves in and out of point-of-view in order to connect the reader with the complexities of her characters. The emotional connection with them, however, was not strong for me. I would like more reason to care, besides the complexities of war.

That said, Gemmell’s settings and plot development reflect her strengths as a writer, which are lofty accomplishments. The settings in The Immortal Throne cover a kingdom/city and its environs, but it’s difficult at times to envision the immensity of it through all the details. Regardless, it’s clear the author envisions the settings completely. Her descriptions leave little doubt. If you’ve read my reviews, you know I’m not a fan of books based on setting, but I often read them, because buried within the plethora of descriptions are interesting characters, concepts and plots.

Gemmell Works her Plots

Gemmell doesn’t let you down with plot. She works it like an intricate pattern of lace. Characters find themselves facing a broad array of challenges. Moles, traitors, double spies. Even the innocent  play their part. Greed, loyalty, mythic faith and love bind and drive characters to the end, when Gemmell reveals all. It’s then readers realize the most hidden motives behind the ‘Immortals’.

The final chapter brings the Immortal’s history to light, however, justifications for their actions felt trite and the explanations weren’t required. They added little to the overall story. The message that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely‘ came to life through the Immortal’s actions in the saga. No further explanation was needed.

As a reader, my interest lay in Rubin. The youth opens the story and plays a pivotal role throughout. He ultimately stands as a sort of sentinel at the end.

As with war, most characters came through as pawns of the plot, not drivers of it, but by the end, Gemmell ties up each character’s life. Readers are not left wondering about anyone.

Perhaps a Sequel from Stella Gemmell

The Immortal Throne could have been broken into two books. At 547 pages it is a tome, but new characters and aspects of the city’s complex history and war are introduced so frequently readers remain engaged. The Immortal Throne is the second of a series that could go on indefinitely. For a review of The City check out the foundingfields.com.

The Immortal Throne (The City #2) by Stella Gemmell, author of The CityThe Immortal Throne (The City, #2) by Stella Gemmell
Series: The City #2
Published by Bantam Press on March 24th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 576
Goodreads

The emperor is dead…long live the emperor! The fervent hope of the victorious rebels and the survivors of the uprising that liberated the City from tyranny is that the accession of Archange to the imperial throne will usher in a new era of freedom, peace and stability. If only that were so... As the the City struggles to return to something resembling normal life after the devastation brought on by the rebellion, word arises of a massive army gathering to the north. No one knows where it has come from or who leads it, but it soon becomes apparent that its sole purpose is to destroy the City and annihilate all - man, woman and child - who live within its battered walls. And while warriors go forth to fight and die on the battlefield in defence of their homeland and all that they believe in, bitter family feuds and ancient rivalries, political and personal betrayals, and mindless murder surface within the palaces and corridors of power: it seems the City is under siege - from both without and within . . . With this new novel, Stella Gemmell brings the astonishing story of the City to a spectacular climax and confirms her place as a master of the genre.

 

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, a Cinderella story

Redd Becker Book Review

Ella Enchanted retells the fairytale of Cinderella, but Levine adds several twists. At birth a fairy castes the ‘gift of obedience’ on Ella, thus burdening her with the drive to do as sElla Enchanted, a Cinderella storyhe is told by anyone who orders her. Ogres and a boarding school, where Ella meets her future step-sisters, spice up the tale further.

I found the first part of Levine’s rendition of Cinderella captivating. Toward the end of the book the magic of the read waned. The ball,  pumpkin coach, dancing and losing the glass slipper scenes, although well told, held no mystery or intriguing caveats to amuse me, like the first parts of the book did. For that reason I wouldn’t have considered it a Newberry Honor Book Finalist, but it was.

Still, Ella Enchanted is fun and Gail Carson Levine writes many popular teen books with female heroines.

A Cinderella Tale

As well as originating in multiple cultures this classic fairytale boasts a history of 1000 years in some form. Interesting Literature wrote an article of fun facts about it. And Refinery 9 wrote ‘Nine Stories You Might Not Know about Cinderella’.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, a Cinderella storyElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Published by Scholastic Books on September 1st 1998
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 232
Goodreads

Also see: Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE]
ACE #1

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you'll ever read.
Gail Carson Levine's examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.

EarthSea: The Other Wind by Ursula LeGuin

Redd Becker Book Review

The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle, #6)

The Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin enchants many readers with well reason. The addition of The Other Wind follows suit. This story evolves around Alder, a young sorcerer who dreams of his dead wife. He becomes tempted to breach the wall entrapping her in the world of the dead, but fears the consequences. 

Alder’s dreams of his wife’s ghost persist. He wants to break down the wall between the dimensions, but tearing it down may cause a riff in Earthsea by freeing all dead souls, not only his wife. To find a solution Alder goes on a journey to see Ged, once Archmage of EarthSea. Then he travels to Havnor to find the king who  takes Alder to talk to a dragon in the form of a woman. Only she can mend the riff in the wall caused so many years ago, when dragons and humans parted ways. 

EarthSea

In many of LeGuin’s books, including the EarthSea series, she creates characters with humane issues, then she places them in a strange and wonderful fantasy world. She takes us on journeys where people are tempted, ache to do the right thing, but fear the consequences of their actions. Humane themes drive LeGuin’s stories. In The Other World she deals with issues of the death of those we love.

The Other Wind stands on its own as a story, although reading earlier books in the series definitely fill in references made in this book. A tale with dragons, wizards, kings and a journey woven within very humane challenges. What more could I ask in a fantasy story?

Ursula LeGuin’s written many short stories and five novels based around her fictional world of EarthSea. Wikipedia lists them all.

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson, a fun middle grade fantasy

Redd Becker Book Review

One of my children particularly enjoyed Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson. Upon re-reading Which Witch by Eva Ibbotsonit, I understood why. What fun characters and lively descriptions.

The dark warlock, Arriman the Awful, wants to retire, but he can’t until someone replaces him. When no one appears, he decides to marry and have children who will one day take his place. The choice of wife is critical, because she must be the darkest of dark witches herself.

Which Witch will Win

Arriman’s assistant, Mr. Leadbetter,  sets up a competition at Arriman’s estate. They invited witches from the coven of Todcaster who will compete each day for the grand prize of marrying Arriman. The witches’ magic runs the gamut of gruesome to farcical. Their familiars, magical animal pets, play a vital role in the story; from Mother Bloodwort’s cloud of flies and the twin’s chickens, to Belladonna’s worm. All is written with tongue-in-cheek fun, consequently the contests create hysterically funny results.

A twist at the end winds up the tale with eloquent success. Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson tickles the middle grade funny-bone, but we can all enjoy the laugh.

Eva Ibbotson castes her penchant for the humorous into plenty of other books you may want to read.

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson, a fun middle grade fantasyWhich Witch? by Eva Ibbotson, Annabel Large
Published by Puffin Books on July 3rd 2000
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 272
Goodreads

When Arriman the Awful, the handsome wizard of the North, announces a contest to choose his bride, every witch in town is a flutter. The meanest, most powerful witch will wed the wizard. But little Belladonna is dismayed, because as hard as she tries, her spells conjure up begonias and baby birds, and not a single viper or bloodshot eyeball. She just has to do something seriously sinister in time for the contest....

 

Dragon Rule, The Age of Fire series #5, by E. E. Knight

Redd Becker Book Review

Dragon Rule takes place in a world where dragons live along Dragon Rule by EE Knightside humans and, most importantly, dragons rule there. As expected, cooperation between the groups can be strained, but E. E. Knight focuses on tensions between dragons, rather than the human versus dragon relationship.

Although Knight starts and ends his novel with the Copper, the story diverges into his sister’s and brother’s lives. The reader follows subplots for many dragon characters. Although each is integral to the main story-line, subplots subsume the Copper’s struggle. Perhaps Knight planned for supporting characters to fight the Copper’s battles for him. With that said, no particular character engaged me so much that I burn for the next installment of The Age of Fire series.

If Knight intends a moral message, ‘blood is thicker than water’ appears a possibility. Copper and his brother and sister have very different personalities and morals, but when challenges confront the family, they stick together.

Nice descriptions of dragon environs, the Lavadome and  caves where dragons live helped establish settings, although in general the book lacked the due diligence I expect from an award winning novelist. Knight writes clearly with plenty of dialogue; however, typos occur too often, a complaint many reviews mention and I found unprofessional.

Dragon Rule: Book Five of The Age of Fire Series

It’s clear Knight enjoys writing about dragons. He personifies them with keen attention to their physical limitations, historical contrivances and builds cultures one may expect in a dragon world.

Perhaps because I didn’t read the first books in the series, Dragon Rule didn’t fully engage me. This book doesn’t stand on its own.  It appears written for current fans, as a bridge to the next installment of the series.

Dragon fans should check out the History of Dragons on the Draconsinka web site for some fun information on dragon lore in general.

Dragon Rule, The Age of Fire series #5, by E. E. KnightDragon Rule (Age of Fire, #5) by E.E. Knight
Series: Age of Fire #5
Published by Roc on December 1st 2009
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Goodreads

The author of the national bestselling Vampire Earth series presents the fiery fifth book in his epic dragons saga.
Scattered across a continent, three dragon siblings are among the last of a dying breed?the final hope for their species? survival.
Wistala, sister to the Copper who is now Emperor of the Upper World, has long thought humans the equal of dragons. She leads the Firemaids, fierce female fighting dragons who support the Hominids of Hypatia. Which puts her at odds with both her brothers, for the Copper has no use for the humans he now dominates and AuRon, the rare scale-less grey, would isolate himself and his family from both the world of men and the world of dragons. But as the Copper?s empire roils with war, greed, and treachery, the time is fast approaching when Wistala will have to choose who to stand with? and fight for...