Michelle’s Review: Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Michelle’s Review: Salt and Storm by Kendall KulperSalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 2014-09-23
Genres: 19th Century, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women, Historical, Multigenerational, United States, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Sea witches is not something that I have had much experience in reading about. But Salt & Storm presents a magic structure that was intriguing and had me interested through most of the book. Each of the Roe witches has their own specialty, something that makes me turn into a little kid, imagining what my own specialty would be. (Don’t ask, I haven’t decided yet.)

If I’m remembering correctly, this book to me had a lot of opportunities to become cliche but avoided most of them. The setting was unique, being both historical and paranormal, on an island somewhere in the northeastern U.S. In some regards, I almost wished for more setting of the world beyond, but it matched the type of isolation Avery was feeling on the island.

The author’s note was perhaps the most interesting to me, which sounds strange, but it really helped tie things together for me. The book had its flaws, and it wasn’t a perfect read for me, but it was definitely an enjoyable one.

pj - michelle

Michelle’s Review: Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Michelle’s Review: Ink Exchange by Melissa MarrInk Exchange by Melissa Marr
Published by Harper Collins on 2008-04-29
Genres: Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow. Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life. The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .

I read Wicked Lovely years ago. It was another book that I liked enough. But when I was discovering a new used book store, perusing the young adult section, the spine of this book and its title caught my eye. I didn’t really know that Wicked Lovely was a series, and didn’t know that Ink Exchange was part of it. I knew the author was the same but didn’t quite put it all together. But I was surprised to see that the book was signed by Melissa Marr. That was cool! So I bought it, despite previously having no intention of continuing with the series.

It was the book that had been sitting on my TBR the longest this summer so I finally got around to it. Unfortunately, because of how long it had been since I had read about Aislinn and the Summer Court, I could barely remember what had happened before the events in Ink Exchange. And this book definitely just jumped right into it.

To say I was confused through most of the book is putting it lightly. I understood Leslie well enough and her motivations, but I was confused about the larger plot. I mean, I think I get it, but I’m not sure. It was not easy to follow and I don’t know how much of it is because of things that were included in the first book or was simply not explained right in this book. I do wonder about the success of a book if someone picking it up cannot follow it without having read the book before it. Isn’t that how most series are discovered (or at least used to be discovered as we would wander the shelves of the library or bookstore)?

There were some standout characters (okay, well Niall) but it wasn’t enough to save the book for me. It was okay, but it wasn’t a fun read for me. Too much confusion and teen angst.

pj - michelle

Michelle’s Review: Solstice by P.J. Hoover

Michelle’s Review: Solstice by P.J. HooverSolstice by P.J. Hoover
Published by Macmillan on 2013-06-18
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy & Magic, Greek & Roman, Legends, Myths, Fables, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 381
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy the Earth. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom. Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth—her very identity…. An imaginative melding of mythology and dystopia, Solstice is the first YA novel by talented newcomer P. J. Hoover.

I’m very conflicted over Solstice. It was like it was two different books to me, one that I didn’t like and the other that I was more interested in. All together, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

It was the first half that didn’t make the cut for me. Earth is grappling with the effects of global warming. More and more people are losing their lives every day as the temperatures rise to more than dangerous levels and new storms become stronger. The description of that world entices me into the story. But unfortunately the execution was a little lackluster.

Piper is in high school with a very over-protective mother. She lives in a little oasis of a greenhouse while the outside world has to be misted with cooling gel and and watches the temperature rise and obeys the subsequent warnings. I grew weary of the amount I was told that Piper’s mother was over-protective. Now, by the middle to the end part of the book, I completely understand just how protective she was. But in the beginning, it became a little eye-roll worthy.

By page 56, there was a love triangle, which I really wasn’t a fan of either. Again, by the end, it comes into clearer focus why that has come to be. However, I imagine that for a reader more inclined to not finish a book than me, it would make a persuasive argument to put the book down before you get to the redeeming part.

The end of the book left me much more happy, but also wishing that the entire book had been that way. The big reveal was fun and I really enjoyed the ending. It’s just very unfortunate that the rest of the book wasn’t that way for me.

pj - michelle

Michelle’s Review: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant

Michelle’s Review: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin GrantSteampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by gavin grant, kelly link
Published by Candlewick Press on 2011
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Science & Technology, Short Stories, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 420
Format: Hardcover
In the first major YA steampunk anthology, fourteen top storytellers push the genre's mix of sci-fi, fantasy, history, and adventure in fascinating new directions. Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre's established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Visionaries Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have invited all-new explorations and expansions, taking a genre already rich, strange, and inventive in the extreme and challenging contributors to remake it from the ground up. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.


From the Stash is just my way to denote when something is from before I had the blog. I have been reviewing books since January 2010 so I’d like to showcase some of that past work. This was originally reviewed in January 2012.

Brand new library book with the smell intact (don’t judge!), the anthology was my first formal introduction with the steampunk genre. And while these stories sought to be different from the cliches of the genre (which I have yet to encounter due to my beginner level with it), I have learned some things about it.

My thoughts about the genre as presented by the anthology: what sets steampunk apart from science fiction or fantasy, magical realism or alternate historical fiction? I suppose steam punk is a melding of all these genres into a broader, or perhaps more narrow category, but it doesn’t pass the test for me. I feel like the genre, and by that I mean the authors, are trying to hard to fit their stories into a particular label that at this moment is a very popular one and therefore sensational. I will continue to read the occasional steampunk novel, but I fear I cannot wholeheartedly support this movement, this literary niche without either further research or a change of heart.

That said, the anthology was a pleasant read. Each story was in fact different, and yet flowed into each other, with themes from the previous story leading into the next. Some standouts: The Last Ride of the Glory Girls – a wild west female coming-of-age story; Everything Amiable and Obliging – Holly Black is a best-selling author for a reason as this story about love and robots was riveting; Seven Days Beset by Demons – one of the two graphic stories in the anthology, I loved the art and the simplicity of the story; Hand in Glove – almost a crime noire set in California with an odd culprit; and The Summer People – which while I will argue that this was definitely more fantasy/magical realism than steampunk, was an interesting story set in Appalachia with entities that might be known as fairies.

There were other good stories in the anthology, but some felt more forced than others. Overall, I looked forward to seeing what the next story had in store and I would recommend it to anyone, whether they are mechanized veterans of the genre or interlopers into the strange world of steampunk.

pj - michelle