The Good, the Bad and the Infernal by Guy Adams

There is a town called Wormwood.  At least, that's what it's called this time.  It has gone by other names, it has existed in other places.  But this time, it's due to appear in the American West. Every time it appears, explorers and adventure seekers go out of their way to find it and unlock the secrets of the town. The biggest secret?  In the center of town there is a doorway into heaven.

The Good, the Bad and the Infernal is the story of a few of these explorers, none of whom realize what kind of journey they are about to embark upon.  Wormwood has a way of testing people, throwing weird mystical and supernatural obstacles in the way to challenge anyone who approaches, from people-eating towns to steam powered people.

The story is told in several separate, apparently unrelated, sections, one from the perspective of a banker on his way West, another featuring a band of villainous circus performers, and a third of a British inventor, his daughter and a group of monks.  It's pretty short, but it leaves a lot open for the next in the series, least of all the arrival at Wormwood.

There is a wildly inappropriate scene near the beginning of this book, FYI, so I'll aim this firmly at the older teens, but otherwise, neat premise.
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The Legionary Chronicles by Adam Nichols

Gaius, an ordinary sheep herder living in the countryside, has always longed to be a soldier in the Roman army. He gets his chance when he attracts the attention of a passing proconsul, who turns out to be Caesar himself. At Caesar's invitation, Gaius joins the Roman army, eager to fight exciting battles, avenge his father and find his fortune. Sure enough, his legion is soon engaged in all sorts of bloody battles, with Gaius and his friends often finding themselves fighting for their lives. But the battles are not Gaius' only concern. He's barely stepped into camp when he runs into Lanius, another soldier who immediately takes a disliking to Gaius. When he discovers a sword protruding from his bed after Lanius sneaks into his tent, he can't help but suspect Lanius' intentions are more sinister than he first thought.

I personally like to read historical fiction once in a while -- though the only other title I've read with a setting in Ancient Rome is the Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff back in university. I do remember enjoying the action and plot in the book, so I was interested in trying this series by Adam Nichols.

The first book of the series, War in Gaul, has a bit of a slow start and I found myself anxiously waiting for some serious action in the battlefield. There's a fair bit of conversation and description of the various characters and warring nations and it's not until near the middle of the book that you see the first large scale battle -- and Gaius ends up watching it, rather than actively participating. The book is written in old 'Roman speak', which helps to establish the era and culture, but has the potential to make things more tedious to read. That said, things steadily pick up after that, and Gaius has some exciting encounters with enemies trying to hack him up with various weaponry. The scenes are quite descriptive at times as well, and give a glimpse of the horrible, chaotic massacre the battles really were. There are plenty of historical, geographical and religious references in the story that are explained by footnotes at the end of each chapter. It was good to have these at this location instead of within the text, because I'm sure so many details would really bog down the plot.

I found the second book, The Golden Eagle, to be more interesting, mainly because the plot moved faster -- but I am still waiting for events and characters to come together to build and reach a real climax. Lanius is definitely a mysterious character that I hope will continue to add intrigue and an extra layer of complexity to the story.

I think this series will appeal to teens who are looking for historical fiction that gives a real sense of the era in which it takes place. And once they hit the bits with swords hacking and spears flying, they might want to read the entire series.

Check out the Legionary Chronicles on Adam Nichols' amazon page

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Blog Tour: SYLO by D. J. MacHale

Thank you for stopping by our blog for the SYLO tour.

The first one to die was Marty. He was playing football and dropped dead in the middle of the game. The second one was Mr. Nelson. He was competing in the sailboat race, lost control and crashed.  Before the third tragedy happens, the US military branch SYLO moves in and the residents of Pemberwick Island watches the president declares their home a quarantine zone on TV. They have found a deadly virus.

But is it really a virus? Tucker is not so sure. He saw things that just didn't add up. Strange explosion over the sea. Weird planes that make musical noises. A shifty guy offering him a red crystal-like drug that gives you super strengths. And when Tucker witnesses Captain Granger, the leader of SYLO, gunning down and killing a resident, he knows this can't be about a virus.

This is the first book in the new SYLO trilogy by Pendragon author D. J. MacHale. It has all the much sought after elements for a book that will appeal to boys: action, mystery, best pal, action, fighter planes, explosions, action, conspiracy, action, missiles, narrow escape, action, betrayal. Oh did I mention action? Readers will breeze through the book also because of its easy going writing. The characters are a little inconsistent in their behaviour sometimes, but likable. My only quibble is that it suffers from the "first book syndrome". Too many things are held in suspense for the next book, and I'm sure the characters will agree with me that we need at least a few answers to make this a satisfying read. Much like Steven's complaint about the James Dashner books, too much "I'll tell you later".

SYLO will be published on July 2. Thank you again to Razorbill for arranging this blog tour and providing us with an advanced copy.
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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Having survived four waves of alien attacks, having watched her family get killed off one by one, Cassie is so, so tired of running and hiding, but she forges on, because of a promise to his little brother to come get him from the camp, a promise she is not sure she can keep anymore.  How do you get help when no one can be trusted and when you can't tell the enemy from your fellow human beings?

The 5th Wave is Rick Yancey's new offering and it's quite a departure from his other books. It's been getting a lot of buzz and glowing reviews, and it looks like something that will be fitting for our blog.  The book does pretty well in maintaining tension through the 450+ pages, and not providing any descriptions of the aliens makes the story more suspenseful and creepy. "Don't trust anyone" is indeed a good motto for any survivors in Cassie's world, and readers will be doubting who is the good guy, if there is even one. However, the romance was forced and poorly written and did not work for the story at all.    (I thought we're not trusting anyone here) The story was also a little too predictable so while you want Cassie to reunite with her brother, you never doubt that it will happen. It was more the story of Ben Parish, Cassie's old classmate, that gave me incentive for me to read on.

I read that aliens are going to be the next big thing in YA. Let's see how others stack up to the 5th Wave.
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