Thursday, March 26, 2015

Continuing amongst the stars

Only one week until we get the second great book of the month. 

Sea of Stars by Amy Bartol

Under Different Stars was recently re-released, and I was given the opportunity to read the new revision through Netgalley last November. The concept of a Sci-Fi novel seemed like a good break from my epic fantasy binge. You can find my thoughts on the first novel here.

I was wonderfully excited when the second novel showed up on Netgalley so soon after the re-release. With Under Different Stars fresh on my mind, I gladly picked up Sea of Stars. Super impressed! This novel even manages to be better than the first. I have completely overlooked the Sci-Fi feel. Kudos to Amy Bartol.

We have completely left Earth behind and landed in the middle of a civil war on Ethar, and Kricket seems to be stuck on both sides. The war brings with it a story filled with action and political intrigue. From the second I turned on my Kindle, I was on an amazing roller coaster. The action just never seemed to stop. There was a great balance between the imagery and imagination. Bartol certainly knows when to stop the description and let the reader take it away. I never seemed to know what was going to come next. Impressive when Kricket sees into the future.

Kricket isn't wanted by either side, yet both are willing to rage epic battles to have her. She is the ultimate pawn in their political games. We get to enjoy the dynamic of Kricket and her Etharian bodyguards battling against her terrifying antagonist Kyon as well as throwing in some new characters from the other houses of Ethar. The world expanded and the magics expanded as well in this story.

There was strong development progression in this second novel. I highly recommend the entire series knowing that such a great follow up comes along.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Hope every one is having a Happy St. Patrick's day. Please be safe with your activities if you choose to be out tonight. In the spirit of the Emerald Isle and its Celtic neighbors, here is a review for a novel releasing in two weeks. 

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Oh, what to write when I have mixed feelings about a book. This novel was good but not great. I would definitely add it to my library, but it won't be one of the dog-eared copies that gets read once year--maybe more once a decade.  I give it four stars. The low points for me were just not low enough to not give the writing credit.

This is the story of a woman raised in glamour and sheltered by money despite her mother's scandalous reputation. Maddie feels like she has horrors in her life because WWII is going on putting a dint on the finer things in life, and she is facing isolation from her mother-in-law for not having the right kind of blood.

Then, her husband drags her to Scotland and Maddie learns what real horror is. Scotland in the late part of WWII felt authentic. While some of the facts were elaborated for the artistic purpose of entertainment, Gruen tried to keep everything on the correct timeline with historical names and places intact. There were plenty of small details used to highlight the war setting. You could really feel unsettled with how people existed in a state of tension and hope every day. The people Maddie meets are brilliant. Meg and Anna are just truly great female characters. 

Speaking of characters--Nessie! The myth and legend of the Scottish Highlands lives large. Plus, we get a few of the other golden Scottish legends thrown in there with her. Big positive to me when you write a story about a very superstitious people.

There is a strong dynamic between the protagonists and the antagonists. The overall character interactions were honest and I really felt pulled into their lives. I hurt with them and shared in their joy. I really can't put my finger on what kept me from falling in love with this story. For some reason, there just wasn't a strong spark. I didn't rush to pick up the book when I came home, and it took me longer than usual to finish. I still easily give the story 4 stars and recommend it to all readers.

Visit Sara Gruen's website to get your pre-order in for March 31, 2015.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sometimes you just need a re-read

The day job has been grueling to say the least for the past couple of weeks. As spring ramps up, our business booms. In itself a good thing, as it means more money and gorgeous weather. On the downside, I don't read nearly as much as I would like and usually fall irreparably behind on my 75 books a year goal. It really does not help when I hit a reading slump at that exact moment as well. I have been reading fast and furious all year. There have been many new authors that I am so excited to have been introduced to, but sometimes you just need the good, old classics. I'm talking cracking-spine, dogeared goodness. To get out of my slump, I decided to pull an original off my shelf. The very book that introduced me into devouring fantasy novels for the adult reading level--Through Wolf's Eyes

Through Wolf's Eyes by Jane Lindskold

Image result for through wolfs eyesIt was introduced to me by a dear friend who has become a published author in her own right during our senior English class when I sought book recommendations. I was tired of the general literary fiction and wanted to read something from an author who hadn't been under dirt for more than a decade.

It is the reason I read fantasy fiction to this day. The world development and detail without being monotonous is wonderful. I get swept away all over again in my re-read. I have been away from this series for so long I really got to appreciate the details from a new stance in a new decade of my life (and couldn't recall anything of what was going to happen). These new life experiences really made this oldy a fabulous new goody with new perspectives. Also, reading it as a reviewer put a shine to it. The book is still as good as when I first read it, if not better.

We meet Firekeeper, a girl raised by wolves. Enough said on the awesome. There is political intrigue abounding and magic. The setting seems medieval while the costuming seems American Revolution. Fascinating that I never really noticed those details 12 years ago. The characters are intricate and interact well with each other. There are multiple nationalities and cultures including the four-legged and winged. All the threads weave into a beautiful tapestry. We don't lack in some action with our dialogue too.

The greatest part about this novel--all of the novels have been published!! Where I had to wait a year or more between the original publications, (and admittedly would forget storylines since I read so much in between) I can now greedily consume all the series in a row. As can you, which I highly recommend doing. Binge read away!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Great books coming this month

Last week I posted some excellent cover reveals for books coming out later this year. Today I will be posting about two great books releasing on the same day. Get ready for March 31st! The reason why I have not posted many reviews this month--I have been hammering away at some amazing ARCs from Netgalley. I have managed to read quite a few books. I even started a re-read of a classic favorite Through Wolf's Eyes by Jane Lindskold. While the book may have been published for over a decade, I'll be posting a review later this week.

Here are some details for March 31st (and two I am very excited to release). Click at the page to see what's coming at the end of the month.