Review: ‘The Atomic Weight Of Secrets’ by Eden Unger Bowditch

The Atomic Weight Of Secrets

or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black

The Young Inventor’s Guild, #1

Author: Eden Unger Bowditch

Format: galley (available for purchase in hardcover)

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Release Date: 3/15/2011

Length: 320 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley


Publisher’s summary:

In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had. But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

They arrived to take twelve-year-old Jasper Modest and his six-year-old sister, Lucy he with his remarkable creations and she with her perfect memory from their London, England home to a place across the ocean they’d never seen before.

They arrived to take nine-year-old Wallace Banneker, last in a long line of Africa-descended scientists, from his chemistry, his father, and his New York home to a life he d never imagined.

Twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas, already missing his world-famous and beloved mother, was taken from Toronto, Canada, carrying only his clothes, his violin, and his remarkable mind.

And thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta, the genius daughter of India’s wealthiest and most accomplished scientists, was removed by force from her life of luxury.

From all across the world, they’ve been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can’t give them answers.

Things only get stranger from there. What is the book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother’s underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?

How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives? And why haven’t their parents tried to contact them?

Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye, the situation is clear: They and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they’re going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn’t even know they were all working on. An invention that will change the world forever.

But what if the men in black aren’t trying to harm the children? What if they’re trying to protect them? And if they’re trying to protect them, from what?

My thoughts:

What a very odd story. Very odd. Rather sad and rather confusing and rather unfulfilling, once the last page is turned.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. Because I did… very much. I’m just feeling a bit let down, like I didn’t get the big reveal I was expecting and quite looking forward to.

I’m left with questions that I was expecting answers to but didn’t get. Questions such as, what were the items that several of the parents took from their children before disappearing mysteriously and why did their parents need them so badly? What was The Strange Round Bird song all about and how did all of the children know it to the exclusion of any and all other lullabies or nursery rhymes? What was the polymer that Wallace was working on so diligently? Who are the men in black and what was this story all about?

Perhaps it’s all just a set-up for the rest of the series, I thought. Perhaps the big plot point was indeed, the children’s invention and maybe the majority of the story revolved around that one thing: the children handing their invention over to the brothers. Which, I ought to mention, was fantastically funny in a “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” kind of way.

I also mentioned that this story was rather sad. As the summary of the book states, the children are all taken from their parents and thrust into a wholly unfamiliar situation with no explanation whatsoever. Their parents disappear with and the people into whose care the children are placed either don’t know what’s happening or won’t say. The children don’t know who to trust. They’re angry and scared, upset at their apparent abandonment while being half out of their minds with worry for their parents. Despite having absolutely brilliant minds, they’re still children and so naturally have trouble adjusting to a confusing and frightening situation… hence the sad.

I’m hoping that the second book in the series will reveal a few of the tibits that Bowditch left behind the curtain in this first installment. I’ll definitely check out the next book but there will have to be a bit more meat in the story to keep my interest and keep me reading.

Fave quotes:

‘It was precisely because of this strange black attire that Jasper knew this man was there to fetch them, and was not some nefarious stranger out to do them harm. Well, he might well be a nefarious stranger out to do them harm but, if so, he was their own personal nefarious stranger, and Jasper knew they had no choice but to follow.’ ~as reasoned by Jasper Modest

“Don’t ‘don’t’ me. Don’t you dare ‘I don’t’ me when you know I know you know you do, you know, I do, don’t you, hm?” ~Reginald Roderick Kattaning

Review: ‘Green-Eyed Demon’ by Jaye Wells


Green-Eyed Demon

Sabina Kane, Book #3

Author: Jaye Wells

Format: galley (available for purchase as mass-market paperback and audio book)

Publisher: Orbit Books

Release Date: 2/22/2011

Length: 299 Pages

Acquired: via the publisher



Publisher’s summary:

The clock is ticking for Sabina Kane. Her sister has been kidnapped by her grandmother, the Dark Races are on the brink of war, and a mysterious order is manipulating everyone behind the scenes.

Working on information provided by an unlikely ally, Sabina and her trusty sidekicks–a sexy mage named Adam Lazarus and Giguhl, a Mischief demon–head to New Orleans to begin the hunt for her sister. Once there, they must contend with belligerent werewolves, magic-wielding vampires and–perhaps most frightening of all–humans.

But as much as Sabina is focused on surviving the present, the past won’t be ignored. Before she can save those she cares about most, she must save herself from the ghosts of her past.


My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book much better than The Mage In Black! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed that book, too… but this one had more going for it. The team is on unfamiliar ground in N’Awlins and it’s always fun to put characters in a new situation. We inevitably meet some new characters, some of whom ingratiate themselves with the reader rather quickly and who I didn’t have a problem trusting, which is saying something. Lastly, we have a mission, which is two-fold: rescue Maisie and then find and kill the evil grandmother. I’ve rather been looking forward to that since reading book #1, so I’m happy that it’s now become a priority!

So, the book opens with Team Awesome back in Los Angeles, preparing to kidnap one of the Dominae, which are essentially the three head vamps. Not Lavinia, Sabina’s grandmother and the Alpha Domina, but the weaker of the three. The kidnapping doesn’t quite go as planned but they grab their captive and flash on over to deliver her to the Faery Queen in hopes that an alliance can be made as well as to take instruction from Orpheus, the mage leader.

Finally, Sabina, Adam and Giguhl end up in New Orleans to hunt for Maisie in order to rescue her, as well as Lavinia in order to kill her. Enter Zenobia, voodoo shop owner and friend of Rhea, and Zen’s assistant Brooks. I liked both of these characters immediately and found them both to be strong additions to the story. They were also infinitely helpful to the Team as well as colorful and fun to read. We also meet a few other new faces when Zen sends Sabina to a butcher shop to find a blood source and to a local drag club to find an information source.

Things are rather frustrating for Sabina as she feels that she’s constantly on the defensive once in New Orleans. Lavinia finds her right away and with dismay, Sabina realizes that her grandmother has fed on a particular kidnapped mage’s blood and therefore can do magic. Not only does this seem unfair to me, it seems a bit far-fetched. Lavinia can flash herself about after having fed on a mage blood but Sabina, who trained for weeks with Rhea can only do her Cyclops-esque pew-pew trick to incinerate people? No lessons on healing or flashing herself about all bad-ass like the other mages can do? Yet her grandmother can do such things after having a Maisie snack? Hmmm…

So yeah, Sabina’s at a disadvantage from the get-go. Still, she carries on and blunders about a bit, anxious to both find her sister and avoid the affections of Adam. At every turn, it seems that their enemy is one step ahead of them and that reacting is all the Team is capable of doing.

Enter another new face, recreant mage and lead singer of rock band Necrospank 5000, Erron Zorn. His introduction is hilarious and really, I can’t do it justice here so I won’t even try. Suffice to say that he lends the team a hand and then later on, gives them some much-needed intel, info-dump style. I like this character a lot, though we don’t see much of him, sadly.

I had a hard time putting this book down… or putting my laptop down, rather… and was anxious to get back to it and find out what was going to happen, already! I was happy with the way Wells handled Sabina’s growing up thing, it didn’t feel forced and it didn’t feel fake. It felt just right and though she still had a few temper issues and thinking she could handle things on her own issues, she’s matured as a character and it’s good to see.

Had Sabina still been going on with her knee-jerk reactions from the first two books, there would have been much eye-rolling as I read. But she didn’t and there wasn’t. I feel that the pace of the story was good and there was enough humor to give me the occasional chuckle but not so much as to lessen the seriousness of the mission and the emotion of the story as the characters, namely Sabina, realized what was important to them and what they were willing to do to preserve it.

Bottom line, if you enjoy urban fantasy with punchy characters, I definitely recommend this series. Check the books out at, or your fave local or internet book store.

Fave quotes:

‘I’ll give the faeries this: They know how to rock some landscaping.’

“Bael’s balls, can we get outta here already? This alley smells like Satan’s asshole.” ~Giguhl

“…did your cat just talk smack to me?” ~Brooks

‘Hollywood had been getting vampires wrong for decades-don’t get me started on the soulless undead thing… or the godsdamned sparkling.’

“We must never speak of this again.” ~Adam

‘I imagined the list in my head: 1. Perform voodoo ritual on evil owl. 2. Find out who sold us out to the anachronistic Caste vampires. 3. Make amends with lesbian werewolf. 4. Rescue twin. 5. Murder grandmother.’

‘Couldn’t blame him for his fear – no one ever expects zombies.’

Review: ‘Summer Knight’ by Jim Butcher (audio)

Summer Knight

The Dresden Files, Book #4

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: unabridged audio book

Reader: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing Corp.

Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins

Release Date: 06/10/09

(novel released September 3, 2002 by Roc & a 371 page paperback sits on my Dresden shelf)

Acquired: received as a gift


Publisher’s Summary:

Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him — and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case.

No pressure or anything…


My thoughts, which include spoilers… thou hast been warned:

Wow, Harry Dresden is in baaad shape. His ex-girlfriend, reporter Susan Rodriguez left town months ago after the Red Court began to transform her and Harry has been working non-stop in an attempt to try to find a magical solution to her little vampire problem. To no avail. He’s depressed. He’s withdrawn. He’s figuratively, and literally, a damn mess.

To kick off the book, Billy (the werewolf we met in Fool Moon) gives Harry what-for about all of it… his appearance, his self-imposed exile, his lack of work or anything resembling income, his impending eviction from his home and office and his general bad attitude. Then someone tries to kill him. Several someones, in fact. And then it rains toads. Could Harry’s day get any worse? Why, yes… yes, it could.

It would seem that his debt to his godmother The Leanansidhe has been sold, to none other than Mab, the Winter Queen of Faerie. And Mab wants Harry to do him a favor: find out who killed the Summer Knight and stole his power. Oh, and clear her name of the crimes in the process.

Harry isn’t interested. Until, that is, he learns that the White Council of wizards is going to throw him to the dogs… erm, to the Red Court of vampires if he doesn’t ensure the cooperation of the Winter Queen. So he actually has no choice but to do Mab’s bidding. No, really! He’ll be happy to help!

A lot happens in this book. A hell of a lot. Not only do we get to meet the Senior Council of wizards but we’re also introduced to Harry’s mentor, Ebenezer McCoy. We also get to meet the one and only Elaine, Harry’s first love and fellow apprentice to Justin DuMorne. Elaine, that Harry thought had betrayed him all those years ago. Elaine, that Harry thought had been dead. By his own hand.

As if that weren’t enough new characters to get to know, we’re introduced to a whole slew of faerie royalty. Winter queens and Summer queens are plotting and consorting and preparing for a war. A war which will tip the balance between Summer and Winter and which will not bode well for humankind.

We also meet a couple of changelings that the now-deceased Summer Knight had taken under his wing and they want to hire Harry to find their friend. Harry just doesn’t have the time. But he really needs the money so he takes that case, as well. Of course he does, where a damsel is in distress, there the wizard Dresden will be to lend a hand. And most likely get his ass kicked in the process.

So… not only does Harry have to solve the murder of the Summer Knight, he has to fend off vampire assassins and faerie assassins, he has to trust the girl who essentially betrayed him, he has to stop a war between beings so powerful that any of them could crush him on a whim and he has to keep his own kind, the wizards, from mollifying the vampires with his life.

I almost forgot… Morgan of the Grey Wardens reappears in this book and he’s as nutty, fanatical and infuriating as ever. Just another thing counting against Harry as he races against the clock to find out who the baddie is this go’round, stop the war and save the world.

In all fairness, I ought to mention what’s counting for Harry this go’round. Of course I mentioned Billy earlier and he and the Alphas are all for helping Harry out in this latest escapade. They’re pretty bad-ass, too. However, notable mention in the Wizard Assist category goes to Karrin Murphy of Chicago PD’s Special Investigations. Only she’s not acting in that capacity when we see her in this book. In fact, she’s in pretty crappy shape herself.

She’s still having major issues over what she endured at the hands of the Nightmare in the last book and to top it off, she’s facing some difficult to deal with personal issues. It’s the first we see of this side of Karrin and I’m pretty sure that this is the book in which I really, really start to like this character. It’s the first book in which she’s not all in-your-face-bitchy to Harry and that might be due in part to the fact that this is the first book in which Harry is completely and totally up front with her about everything. About the Red Court and the White Council… about his case with the Queen of Winter. About all of it.

To her credit, Karrin handles it all pretty well and then proceeds to kick ass against some pretty tough denizens of Faerie and kind of saves Harry’s bacon in the process. When Harry tells her, “When I asked myself who I could trust, I came up with a damn short list. You’re it.” …I admit that I got a bit choked up. Especially in light of the events at the end of book #12, Changes and what they mean for Karrin in book #13, Ghost Story, due to be released in July of this year. As much as I’m anticipating this next book in the series, I’m afraid that it will be one big sob-fest for me!

I believe I mentioned in my review of Grave Peril, book #3 of The Dresden Files, that James Marsters had finally fully realized his awesomeness as the voice of Harry Dresden. I was premature in that assessment. While Marsters’ reading of that book was indeed awesome, his reading of this book was downright fantastic. Likewise, his reading of the Winter/Summer battle was nothing short of incredible. Well done, Mr. Marsters… well done.

Next up in the Dresden Files re-listen is book #5, Death Masks though sadly, it’s on hold until I finish book #2 of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle, The Wise Man’s Fear. Look for that review by the end of the week. Or maybe by the end of the weekend.


Fave quotes:

‘No one does suave like me. If I was careful, maybe I could trip over something and complete the image.’

‘A faerie queen. A faerie queen was standing in my office. I was looking at a… faerie queen. Talking to a faerie queen. And she had me by the short hairs.’

‘Somewhere out there was a village I’d deprived of its idiot.’

‘I don’t have a muscular stomach. I’m not overlapping my belt or anything but I don’t have abs of steel. I don’t even have abs of bronze. Maybe abs of plastic.’

“That’s what I love about working with you, Dresden. The certainty.” ~Murphy

“Harry, that’s not a plan, that’s a Looney Tune.” ~Murphy

“Consider a haircut, you look like a dandelion.” ~Lea to Harry

“Unicorns. Very dangerous. You go first.” ~Harry to Elaine

“Hi,” I said. King of Wit, that’s me.

“I would have acted sooner but it would have been a fair fight, and I avoid them.” ~Maeve to Harry

“Not only ‘no’, but ‘hell no’.” ~Harry to Mab


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#9 – White Night

#10 – Small Favor

#11 – Turn Coat

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story