Marked in Flesh: In Which War Breaks Out

22062202Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
Penguin/Roc: March 8, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Free from publisher

I’d go there again!

As I’ve read this series, I’ve enjoyed each book to a different degree. The first one drew me in, the second and third one let me down a little. And as you’ve figured out by now, I liked this one quite a lot.

Marked in Flesh brings the conflict between humans and Others to a disastrous climax. The fight between the bad humans and the Others turns into war in this book. (more…)


And the apocalypse comes to private school in ‘Starling’

9248345Starling (Starling, book 1) by Lesley Livingston
HarperTeen, August 28, 2013 (Young Adult, Urban Fantasy)

My rating: Beach vacation

I’ve been meaning to read Starling since it came out, and I’ve heard wonderful things about Lesley Livingston, so at long last I got my copy of Starling and started reading.

Mason Starling is a rising star for her private school’s fencing team and she’s hoping to make the national team. Practicing all that she can and crushing on her fencing partner, Cal, are pretty much her biggest concerns at the moment. She’s had a seemingly charmed life, considering her dad is a millionaire; of course, these rich families always have skeletons in their closets, although Mason doesn’t expect them to jump out and attack her. Or for a naked guy to fall out of a tree in the middle of the storm and fight off zombie creatures. Oh private school; where anything can happen.

It seems that Mason is a descendent and part of an ancient prophecy that spells out the end of the world. It’s part of the Norse mythology for Ragnarok that states:

One tree. A rainbow bird wings among the branches.
Three seeds of the apple tree, grow tall as Odin’s spear is,
gripped in the hand of the Valkyrie.
They shall awaken, Odin Sons, when the Devourer returns.
The hammer will fall down onto the earth to be reborn. (p. 98)

Apparently Mason and her brothers are part of this prophecy, although Mason is left in the dark about her ancestors while both her older brothers have the inside scoop. Instead Mason’s cloistered at Gosforth Academy, where all the other students are descendents of servants for the gods of mythology. Some seem to be aware of this fact, but others, like Mason, don’t have a clue. But, when this prophecy starts to unravel, Mason and others start to see some strange and monstrous characters in New York City.

Overall, I thought Starling was okay. It was entertaining and there was some funny moments, but I felt that the story wasn’t original. This mythology mix has been done before and so has the prep school motif. For me, I didn’t think there was really anything that stood out for me that made Starling markedly different from other stories that I’ve read. So while there wasn’t anything really wrong with the story, I did feel that it fell flat for me because of the unoriginal theme.

I did like the characters and the writing style of the book. In my opinion there are not enough teen books that show multiple points of views. I thought this technique was extremely appropriate for Starling considering that many characters had different levels of understanding of the prophecy and the existence of magic and gods. The focus was definitely on Mason and her romantic lead, The Fennrys Wolf (a.k.a. naked guy), but I thought the inclusion of multiple points of view kept Starling interesting enough for me that I could continuing reading something that I wasn’t completely invested in.

As for the secondary characters that readers get to know, I have to say I really hope we get to see a turn around with Rory Starling, Mason’s middle brother. I’m getting an Edmund from Chronicles of Narnia vibe here, and I’m hoping that Rory’s not all bad, although this may be wishful thinking. As for the rest of the secondary characters, I really liked Roth Starling (the eldest brother), Cal (Mason’s crush), and Heather (the token gossip queen). At this point these characters are not completely fleshed out and are somewhat stereotypical, but I would love to see these characters grow a little in book 2, so fingers crossed. Because of the wide array of characters, I think Starling will have appeal to both guys and girls; however, the feminine cover may turn away some readership.

Ultimately, I liked the book, but I’m not inclined to rave about it, and I think only finishing the trilogy will tell me whether or not I’ll be recommending this trilogy to friends and teen readers.

Similar Reads

Valkyrie RisingThe Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1)

Valkyrie Rising: If you’re liking the Norse mythology focus of Starling, check this one out.

The Girl with the Steel Corset: More uber-rich teens with magic – but they’re living in steampunk London. it’s such a cool series, and only gets better with each book.

The Nightmare Affair: Private school with magical students, only these students know what’s what. Much more of a mystery focus here.

Fulfilling a prophecy in When Shadows Fall

whenshadowsfallWhen Shadows Fall by Bruce Blake*
Best Bitts Productions, October 1, 2013 (Epic Fantasy) My rating: Beach vacation

“A hundred hundreds seasons ago” the Goddess banished the Small Gods to the sky”, leaving humans alone on earth. The prologue of this epic-esque fantasy (-esque because it’s a bit too short and I don’t know yet if there will be three, or fourteen, in the series) captivated me. It opens with the cataclysmic events that sets the prophesy sequence in motion. The prophecy is the key.

Post-prologue, Prince Teryk is our main character, a bored, cocky young man who, when exploring the castle with his sister one day, finds an arcane scroll in a long-abandoned room. He learns of the Small Gods, their history, and their return (as prophesied the scroll). Teryk is convinced that it is his destiny to save the world from the return of the Small Gods, and the destruction of humankind. His story (and Danya’s), is not the only one the reader follows. N’th Ailyssa Ra is a woman who worships the Goddess at a temple in an unspecified location. Disturbing worship that entails bearing female children and continuing the line. Enclosed in a temple, never seeing the outside world, conjugating with men at regular intervals, and marking periods and pregnancies and births with chalk on the walls of their rooms. There’s also Horace Seaman, a crude sailor who finds himself overboard a becalmed ship as a monster rises from the deep. And Thorn, a childlike creature who traps and bargains with birds.

Teryk plots to follow his destiny, Danya prepares to go with him, while their sword master and guard, Trenan, works hard to protect them. N’th Ailyssa struggles to face her uncertain future, Horace Seaman fights to survive in the strange land where he washed ashore, and Thorn contrives to escape his prison.

The tenuous connection between such disparate protagonists added to the suspense and intrigue of the story, and kept me reading to figure it out. There are lots of plot surprises, hints, and foreshadowing. All in all, my enjoyment of the stories was increased by the mystery of the prophesy and how all characters and stories connected.

Although this book has epic fantasy sympathies, it is much more palatable, with a slightly quicker and often more streamlined pacing, a slightly smaller number of characters. I will be interested to read how everything fits together, and how the prophesy plays out in future installments.

Caution: some very crude and explicit language in Horace’s chapters.

*e-ARC provided by NetGalley


Read-alikes (click on any of the following to be taken to each book’s Goodreads description)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy #1) The Curse of Chalion (Chalion #1) Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky #1)