cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Books 6-7

Phoebe Douse: Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts  (The Phoebe Douse Trilogy, #1)Phoebe Douse: Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts by L. Samuels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won this on in a Goodreads giveaway which in no way influenced my review. I enjoyed this one. Phoebe is a young woman with the ability to see into people's past and future, however intermittently something she has inherited from her Naan Erika. This has caused problems with friend in her local Texan high school so when the chance to go to an exclusive school in Scotland, where her Naan was from, Phoebe leaps at the chance.

Once there, Phoebe meets up with a group of students who have special classes like her. No one is open with her at first about these classes (it's part of the test) for example Dr. Braithwaite's chemistry classes is like nothing she's ever seen. Soon Phoebe finds herself singled out for additional training by headmaster Duff and she's quickly learning about her abilities, her grandmother's past with the school and a secret organization with in it S3A2. However not all is as it seems. Students are disappearing and Phoebe and her friends could be in danger.

This story brings together paranormal (telekinesis, psychometry etc), alchemy and SF elements along with dark academia themes. Phoebe and her friends Ingrid, Zoe, Renaud, Atwila, Colin and the brothers William and Wallace are well drawn characters with quirks and vulnerabilities. There's a hint of love triangle that is eventually skirted and while Phoebe does have her inheritance from her grandmother we also dodge the 'special one' trope here as well.

It's well plotted and paced (especially once we get to Scotland) I liked also that even though it's a trilogy, the main plot of book one is resolved in book one with obvious threads leading to book two (I'm not a fan of a series where nothing is resolved in book one and it just trails off mid-scene or something). I'd like to see the next book in the series.

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City of the Plague GodCity of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won this ARC from Netgalley which in no way influenced my review. Just wow, this was amazing and so much fun! As soon as I knew it was about Mesopotamian mythology and the legend of Gilgamesh I was there (and the author sealed the deal when he told me there were flying cats!) I love mythology and came into it like most do via Greco-Roman myth (which is actually my own heritage) but I quickly went to Mesopotamian. I'd read and wrote papers on Gilgamesh before I was 19 because how can you resist the world's oldest hero?!?

And wow does Mr. Chadda use him well in this! Sik is a thirteen year old dealing with more than any one should. He is proud to help his parents with their Middle Eastern restaurant in NYC, with dubious help from his older brother's friend, Douad (who wants to be not only an actor but to play the hero). He's also suffering from the loss of his brother, Mo, who died on one of his trips back home in Iraq. The last thing Sik ever expected was to be attacked in his parent's restaurant during closing by a couple of demons and thing made of insects and rot. Unluckily for Sik, the Plague God, Nergal, thinks he has the secret to something Nergal wants desperately.

In order to get it, he infects all of Manhattan in order to tip Sik's hand (bringing in themes of Islamaphobia and mistrust/hatred of immigrants). On Sik's side there's the vain Douad, Belet the martial arts trained teenaged daughter of Ishtar and the goddess herself. (Ishtar has regain her popularity in the pagan world these days. I'm sure she'd approve).

All Sik wants is his brother back and to have his parents healed. What he's about to get is a lesson on being a hero, like his hero Gilgamesh. In fact, he's about to meet his hero but nothing ever goes to plan. Sik has his own epic quest looking him in the eye.

The action in this is relentless and engaging. Had I had time, I'd have read this in one shot. All of the character come instantly to life. These are kids I would love to know (and would love to see adapted to the screen). I was sad to say goodbye to them at the end of this. It is wrapped up in one-shot but could easily be a series. I hope it is as I love Sik and Belet and want to see more of them!

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Tags: paranormal, urban fantasy, young adult

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