Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving

I hope everyone is recovering from being stuffed full of delicious food and good company.  To those daring and willing, I hope you found success on your weekend shopping.  Just before the holidays, I was delighted to have an extra treat for my Thanksgiving.  A favorite author of mine published her book early and I was able to tuck it away for holiday reading.

Fields of Iron by Shelley Adina

Fields of Iron, Magnificent Devices Book 11, Shelley Adina, steampunk The Gloria arc started strong for me but lost a little of its pizzazz in this novel.  We've been through England, Prussia and Italy with Lady Claire and her gaggle of orphans.  We've been to the Texican Territories and the Canadas with Alice and her Stalwart Lass.  Now, we are exploring Colorado and the Californias with Gloria as she attempts to stop a war in a man's world.

It has been a worldwide adventure with these ladies of breeding and character, and I have loved every minute.  Fields of Iron was one of the weaker novels, but the pages kept turning and important information was given.  The end even included enough tidbits to have me anticipating eagerly Fields of Gold, even if it will be the last in the series.  

This is an all-time favorite series of mine and not one part of the series has disappointed.  Some are more strongly written than others, but not a single one will fail to entertain or keep you from binge-reading.  That is a very rare thing to say indeed.

In the sentiment of Evan Douglas, this post was bittersweet.  This is the eleventh book in the "Magnificent Devices" series, and the penultimate for the series.  I will certainly be sad to see this series go. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

As a special treat for this most awesome of holidays, enjoy an entire series being reviewed.

Shifters & Seers Trilogy by Tammy Blackwell

Fragile Brilliance (Shifters & Seers Book 1)     Infinite Harmony (Shifters & Seers Book 2)     Whispered Visions (Shifters & Seers Book 3)

In this trilogy we have surpassed the story of teenage Scout Donovan and progressed to the college-attending pack in its entirety.  We get to see the Timber Wolves universe from every aspect and a great new cast of characters.  Everything I loved about the Timber Wolves trilogy is here.  The writing style, wit, and gushy romanticism are all active and present.

I binge read the entire series in one weekend and am not ashamed to admit it.  These books are a delight.  They are fun and captivating but have a dark underbelly that keeps the pages turning.  We are presented with another Scooby Doo mystery that really isn't difficult to figure out by the end of the series, but it adds a nice edge to all the sappy.

Each book focuses on a different combination of love in the Timber Wolves pack.  There are more shifters and seers, but we also get a chance to learn a little more about the thaumaturgics and immortals.  I appreciated the chance to be given more information to really feel a part of the characters and the fiction.  

I could realistically say that the theme is the only thing making this set a trilogy.  If you didn't want to read all three, I would say Infinite Harmony was my favorite.  You also will not have to have read the Timber Wolves trilogy unless you want a background on some of the satellite characters mentioned.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Need something strange in your life?

Strange History by Bathroom Reader's Institute

How about strange facts from history? They'll brighten your day and give you something to read in between those reading slumps.  Here's a tidbit; an ancient Olympian won the gold medal while already deceased! You know you want to find out more.

From Uncle John, here is a collection of assorted facts from all of time. I really found this to be the exact level of entertainment I was expecting.  I needed something that would give me a little refresh between the fiction.  Plus, I found the tidbits of history to be really interesting.  Many were even snort while reading amusing. And then again, some were just really poignant statements.  A truly great blend of historical strangeness.

Now to insert my moment of honesty, I don't recall many of the facts I read because I wasn't trying to use this like a textbook to learn anything.  I just wanted some quick reading that would clear the fantasy cobwebs. There is plenty of trivia in here for those who like to cram it away for that weekend bar challenge, though.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It's a book release day!

Today the excellent middle grade novel The Changelings hits store shelves.  It's published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.  How could I not request it with that referral? (Twas brillig and the slithy toves...)

The Changelings by Christina Soontornvat

This book was a fabulous middle grade adventure ride. The set-up for the novel makes it accessible to many readers.  The pacing flows at just the right speed to keep a young reader drawn to the story.  I was able to get through the whole tale in a lazy Sunday. There are also all kinds of interactive extras while you read over at the publisher website.

There was nothing groundbreaking here, the land and characters come from the classic fairy tale fables.  The author didn't try to update them or morph them into a hybrid of any kind.  She left them alone to be what they naturally are.  The innocence at this reading level is just so refreshing.  I wish I found it more often in adult fiction to be honest.

The characters had depth and personality.  I enjoyed every character that crossed Izzy's path, even the ones you're not supposed to like.  Not everything is happy all the time in the book, but there is fun and adventure that saves the day. I just always had to find out what was around the corner. The interactions between the group kept you turning pages as well.

The story is a non-stop ride of adventure. I just wanted to be a part of it. The ending even concluded with some hopeful openings of possible adventures in the future.  I would support those adventures wholeheartedly.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Soleil, so long

This is the post I should have put up last week, but I've just been dreading it.  I am disappointed to have to be doing this review, but now you can't believe anything other than I'm honest about all the books I read.

Soleil by Jacqueline Garlick

I was so stoked for this book.  "The Illumination Paradox" started as an incredible series.  The world was a new kind of apocalyptic dystopia. The diseases were unique with a slight touch of steampunk, and the characters had an air of disturbing that is just on the correct level of creepy.  I honestly felt like this series had something special to it.  I was eagerly awaiting the third book.  My super nerd reached critical mass when the author announced that book three would be in our hands on Harry Potter's birthday!

Then, Soleil published.  Then, my heart broke.  The first chapter was an editing nightmare.  I have learned from previous novels this does not get better, but I wanted the conclusion to the adventures of Eyelet and Urlick so I steamed ahead.  My heart broke a second time.  Not only was the text grammatically butchered, the flow had lost all it's spunk.  The story line had skipped into full throttle bull rush passed all the wit and sass that made this series start strong.  And then... Yes, and then, we literally fell down the rabbit hole.

Really? This wonderfully unique series had to fall down a flipping rabbit hole!  Don't get me wrong, I love Alice in Wonderland, but I really do not love the over abundance of authors using it as a crutch.  Write something original!  But, back to the review.  After we escape that hell, we are reintroduced to Eyelet and Urlick bumbling through their story.  The ending was something I had so looked forward to, and I was crushed.  I would have dedicated all that time in wonderland wannabe to Limpidious (the world you created author!), the world I wanted to know about because that was the unique story that brought be back to each book.

All right, that was brutal. Let's hit some positives. There were some truly emotional moments and a little bit of sap. I did not hate the book;  I was just truly disappointed.  Maybe writing one book a month is not a good goal to set yourself.  Soleil sadly paid the price for this ambition.  I kind of want my $3 back.  Maybe we'll get an updated copy some day that can at least redeem the plethora of grammatical errors.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Stan Lee makes a Chinese restaurant placemat

I have read several graphic novels and mangas at this point, and thoroughly enjoyed them, I thought it was time I attempted comics again.  You may remember I previously mentioned wanting to get into the nerd culture of comics as I am a fan so many other nerd cultures staples.  I dipped my toes in the manga market with series I was familiar with through anime; a pretty safe starting point.  Then, I received a couple of graphic novels from Netgalley, and they have been utterly fantastic in their stories -- even if the art wasn't my match.  This go around I requested something by a true, blue comic king -- Stan Lee.

The Zodiac Legacy #1 by Stuart Moore

Stan Lee created a new universe of comic characters with writer Stuart Moore.  They wanted an edgy Asian twist to their superheroes.  Each character has the power associated with an animal of the Chinese zodiac.  There are a series of books and a set of matching graphic novels.  I picked up the graphic novel from Netgalley. I like East meet West kind of literature.  Let's give is a shot.

My impression -- Captain Planet meets a fortune cookie.  The story line wasn't completely horrible, it was just super cheesy like Captain Planet. A group of random teenagers out to make the world a better place.  It just screams 90s cartoon.  Plus, the art kept my mind there too, bright colors and clothing styles all inspired by the era that put  fluorescent accents on everything.  The artwork was actually the piece I liked best about this novel.

Maybe that should be my indicator.  If I like the art style, I'm going to be in for a flop of a story.  The previous two graphic novels I've read have not been visually to my liking, but I really enjoyed the character development and plot.  Here the artwork plays to my nostalgic sensibilities, but the story liked any character depth.  All we learn about the gang our their powers.  Which don't get me wrong, they are super cool, but I want to know more about the characters.  Their individual stories just seemed to be lost but very important.

Honestly, if I need an Asian flair mixed in with my very Western mindset, I'll stick to my all time favorite Avatar: The Last Airbender.  This series really just did not engage me.  Now, other people may absolutely not feel the same way towards this series.  It might be right in the wheelhouse of what they are looking for in their East meets West agenda. To those, I say pick it up and try it out.  But maybe at your local library first.  The price tag is a little hefty for the risk of not enjoying this graphic novel.  To get more hyped up for the series, check out their website.

Monday, August 15, 2016

2-for-1 make up post

My, my. I've done it again. I've vanished for quite some time this time, but I promise I have a good reason. I got a job. A very cool job. A full-time copy editor job. This means my posts will become sporadic again as my time for reading becomes divided even further. I promise I'll make the reviews that do get posted count.

I also have been reading some non-fiction books that don't fit the review style I have built on this website. These books weren't about enjoying them or wanting to pick them up time and again. They were about learning and expanding. If you would be interested in the same kind of discovery, I'll give you some information and let you on your way.

Becoming Worldy Saints by Michael Wittmer

The first of the non-fiction books I read to help with some clarity. I find a strong pull to study the different religions of the world to understand where each side of the argument is coming from.  This piece highlighted some good points on Christianity. A worthwhile read for sure. The author wasn't preachy which could easily be over achieved in a religious text. The information was provided to guide you to your own conclusions.

I have some people in mind who need to read this. It was quick to get through and really left a lasting impression.

The Norse Shaman by Evelyn Rysdyk

I just ended up having too many personal issues with this book. I can't recommend it. Never will. 

But some information for those who may not be so inclined. It is a source book for shamanic journeys of the 21st century. There is some history sprinkled in there to instill an appreciation for such an old belief system and in-depth guidance on shamanic practices.

But I found the focus of the dissertation to be all wrong. I picked it up based on a description for learning how the old became the new. I ended up very disappointed and 25% unfinished.

Again, two non-fiction pieces I spent with the last month. I'm back on track to reading some light fiction and will have two good reviews for you hopefully this week, but don't hold it against me if I miss my deadline. I will get them posted before another month goes by as summer is winding down, and my mountain requires a lot less attention.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Because Gold Cat just wouldn't sound as good

I hope everyone had an excellent Independence Day, and the digit count remains at 20. I know we had a blast (hehe, pun) here attempting to make more noise then our neighbors. Living on the top of a mountain has some serious perks. Cleaning up from the celebrations the next day made me a little late for the release of The Copper Promise by Jen Williams. Catch the review below.

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

I clicked request without really knowing much about the premise of this novel for two reasons. 1.) Angry Robot Books--I have really enjoyed every author I have read from them so far. Their selection for publication is pretty top notch. 2.) The description included mages, monsters, and gods. My kind of fantasy.

Now, when I started to read the novel, I felt an instant disconnection. I'm not really sure why. The story just didn't seem to fit the description for the novel I had requested. Maybe I was in a completely separate mindset from when I hit the request button. This does not make the book terrible; it just meant I had a loss of interest to overcome. And I did--when a giant dragon popped out of the ground. Not what I was expecting from the rather vague depiction of "monsters" in the teaser.

We go adventuring with Wydrin (aka The Copper Cat), Sir Sebastian (the exiled knight), Gallo (the charmer), and Lord Frith (the dead prince who isn't quite dead). A pretty typical gang for an epic fantasy quest. While the crew is pretty textbook, there are some interesting elements to the magic that keep it in the house of epic fantasy without being completely overplayed. There are creatures with an intriguing dynamic (hello brood army, I'm talking to you). And then there were some elements I could have completely done without for purely personal reasons. 

The novel has a clear conclusion to the misadventures of the epic questor, but the story has clearly been left open for some sequels. The plot has movement and multiple points of climax which sort of turned anti-climatic for me. You really can't go wrong if you are looking for some swashbuckling, magic-ridden fun. Overall, 3 stars for the initial effort; let's see what book two brings to the table.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Like sands through an hourglass...

It is July. The heat is rising. The fireflies are out in droves to the accompaniment of a cricket orchestra every night. Corn on the cob. Grills. The summer season has really begun. Click on the Book Giveaway tab to grab yourself what I would consider to be the perfect summer read-- Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina. The tenth novel in the series is due this fall so get started now.

White Sand by Brandon Sanderson

It is no secret that I am a massive Sanderson fan. A friend of mine recommended the "Mistborn" trilogy back in high school, and I have been reading ever since. When I first began the books, it was not apparent that all the different series and stand-alones he was producing would be connected. A decade later and readers have been informed by Sanderson that there is a bigger picture--Cosmere. It is all connected. The lands and magics. They all come from something larger than any individual series. That scope--that is amazing.

He has written middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, fantasy, epic fantasy, and he even completed the "Wheel of Time" series. Now, he is trying his hands at graphic novels. It seems impossible that any reader could not be a fan of Sanderson. He has a format for anyone. White Sand enters the graphic novel scene with a new set of characters plus some others previously introduced--but don't worry, you won't need to know any of it as all of his stories can stand alone despite their unity. 

I'll be honest; it is not my favorite of his endeavors. Sanderson builds a mighty picture. He is a man of words. Graphic novels just do not have the space for the kind of set up I expect out of Sanderson. BUT; I was very aware of this when I requested to read the Advanced Copy. 

The overall read was not disappointing. 5 stars for the layout, graphic style, color palette, and all that artsy stuff. The introduction of the characters and conspiracy were just a little crunched for me. For what is there, it is Sanderson level 100% and certainly worthy of 3 stars. Sanderson magic systems just hook you in with their depth and viability--sand mastery included. Total package is 3.5 stars and certainly on my recommended reading list. An absolute must for Brandon Sanderson fans.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Half the year has flown by fast

It is astounding to think that half the year has already gone by so quickly. There has been a lot of growth and change on the website packed in that little space. I hope you have appreciated all the new book goodies. Please leave me feedback for how to improve. I'm really working to make a go of this website.

Highland Raven by Melanie Karsak

I am patiently, yet excitedly, waiting for the third novel in the Lily Stargazer series to publish. While I wait, I thought it would be nice to check out some of the other works by Melaine Karsak. She has a horror series about zombies and a Shakespearean romance series available. I'm not one for zombies in this over-crazed phase of fad, so I picked the fiction based from the play Macbeth. (Who doesn't love some Scottish tales right now? Is one fad really better than another? Maybe I'll try out those zombie books next after all.)

This is not the original title or cover art of the novel. It has been through some rebranding in its year or so since publication. I felt those marketing pains as I had some hurdles in the first couple of chapters. I persevered, though, and am thankful for the growth in the latter half of the book. 

The idea of seeing from Lady Macbeth's viewpoint after hundreds of years living in the shadow of Shakespeare's most frightening woman was interesting speculation. There are plenty of nods to Shakespeare for the discerning reader as well as a good bit of historical research, but these novels are always more a fun game of what-if. This is one of the better done character sketches in historical fiction, but maybe not in terms of Lady Macbeth.

The other characters that make an appearance are gems and make this story complete. They really help to flesh out the concept of Lady Macbeth being a living, breathing piece of history in a way the play just didn't capture. I especially loved Sid. Oh, Sid, you belong in Wonderland. Another area of interest is the realm of the three witches, and I hope will be present in the next books with some more detail.

This novel certainly has a graphic nature and would not be recommended for teens.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Happy 200th Post!!

In honor of my 200th post, I have a fantastic day for you! 

1. The blog has undergone a complete overhaul and turned into a fully fledged website. All the interesting extras I have been adding on over the years are now allotted their own space. Please leave all feedback on how this site can be of use to your bookworm endeavors.

2. On the Author Interview tab, we have an interview with Anna Kashina about her latest release, Assassin Queen. We talk about the "Majat Code" series and how she put the whole trilogy together. We also get an insight into what she does to step away from the writing table.

3. Shelley Adina has provided an autographed copy of her introductory novel, Lady of Devices, in the "Magnificent Devices" series. If you are new to this site, you will need to know that this is my all-time favorite steampunk series. This is a giveaway not to be missed out. Head over to the Book Giveaway tab to enter for chances to win.

4. A new review from another amazing author, Charlie Holmberg. Just scroll down to read my thoughts on Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

I know I had been away from the blog for awhile with no hints or allusions as to what was happening. The first half of the year was a chaotic hodge podge of life events and reading. An evaluation of all of it put the dedication into revamping this into a full scale website. Now we are back for a killer second half of the year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

She has done it again!

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie Holmberg

Charlie Holmberg has done it again. She has written an amazing book. Like all the novels to come before this one, we get a story of immense depth. There is a reason for everything even if it isn't obvious at first glance. I had inklings throughout the novel that I knew the ending, but I was never really sure and kept turning the pages. The characters are realistically dynamic. You want to know what happens to them.

I was slightly hesitant at the start because the description and cover left me unclear on the direction. (This seems to be a hurdle I really need to overcome with Holmberg's books as they are proving to be quite unmerited.) The opening was all sweet and endearing, and then, you are smacked in the face with the bitter. It is not what I was expecting at all and had my attention held fast. There are some lovely easter eggs during the middle for fans of fairy tales. With the current fad for rewriting the classics of literature (much to my twitching eyebrows distaste), I am happy to see an author nod to the tales of yore without trying to overtake them. And then comes the ending you are expecting yet still surprised that it all happened. That is a good book.

Holmberg writes some of the most thought-provoking fiction I have ever read. When I close that final page, I end up reflecting on everything I have just read for some time. The stories give me entertainment and value. I love them. Plain and simple, they are amazing. They are not perfectly written and certainly have their faults that some people may not be able to get over. I say: read them again--with an eye to learn a lesson, not merely to escape into a good story.

Pre-order your copy today over at Charlie Holmberg's website. There is a giveaway over at Goodreads for a copy until June 28th.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The final journey with Temeraire

We have just two weeks left before we say goodbye to Temeraire the dragon. For more information on the novel, visit Naomi Novik's page. There will be a contest for an autographed copy announced soon as well!! My thoughts on the series that has spanned a decade and captivated me from the beginning are below.

League of Dragons by Naomi Novik

The concluding novel of the "Temeraire" series has arrived. After many, many months of anticipation (and a full circle of my time on Netgalley), I had chills picking up League of Dragons. It is the conclusion to a nine book series with which I have had my ups and downs. The bar has been set pretty high, even for a dragon. Utmost honesty and realization here--the level of hype means I was going to be undoubtedly left wanting with this novel. 

I was not disappointed with this novel, just left a little flat because I had an entire year to hype it up in my head despite my best efforts not to do so. The war with Napolean is on its last legs and all stops must be pulled to ensure a victory. The precarious balance of Lawrence and Temeraire's position in society with their battle prowess is felt the most in this novel. There is plenty of tension to keep the pages turning.

Where it all fell a little flat for me was the politics. Wars are not won through their heroic battles; they are won afterwards in a drawing room. I get that. Showing me all the sides of the war is novel worthy. Lawrence's decisions are very guided by the reception of his sense of duty compared to the leadership. I was just disappointed to see so much precious page space dedicated to the politic maneuverings when I fell in love with this series for the dragons in the war for Europe. I got a lot of verbage and very little action. There were many characters missing that I would have liked at minimum a cameo for the final novel.

The ending was finite, but again, flat and slightly rushed. Overall the book felt like a trope of socioeconomic commentary instead of the fantasy debate on how the world would have been if we had dragons. I still happily recommend everyone read the "Temeraire" series. Being able to read the series all the way through without interruption is a large recommending factor as well.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Monday

On this day of sunshine, grills, and pool season, remember why you are able to do all those fun things. As summer unofficially begins, it is the season of vacations and beach reads (even if you have no beach, pool, or deck, there is sunshine and a greater need to get away from your kids). Go pick up a book and start the unofficial summer season in the best possible bookworm way.

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

I took another zany break with Terry Pratchett this month. When I seem to be taking life too seriously, it helps to read some Pratchett. His satire can really put your perspective back into order.

This is the seventh book of Discworld. While they are absolutely not required to read in order, as many are standalone novels, I find that it gives each book the best flow. The overall atmosphere gains traction with each story that can be missed if you just breeze in midway.

This twisted tale of the Egyptian and Greek ancient civilizations is not my favorite of Pratchett's pieces. Something is just missing from the characters and scenery. The satire of religion and beliefs was spot on, though. Pratchett just has a way of pointing out the obvious flaws in something without tearing the system down.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Call of the Syren

Thankfully the sunshine has decided to linger around a little extra for me today. Clouds are definitely brewing, but they are happy, fluffy white puffballs for right now. I actually kind of feel like a Bob Ross painting sitting on my deck right now. With the springtime blossoming all around, I have been in a mood for light-hearted reading. I continue with the "Septimus Heap" series today.

Syren by Angie Sage

Another good showing from Angie Sage. The whole series has been enthusiastically fun while being about some pretty serious business. I guess I just appreciate the style of making our mundane, modern things Magyckal with twisted spellings and exaggerated capitalization. Not to mention the actual magic being activities we have been doing as household chores all these years. (Seems legit that a medieval serf time-traveler would find a Toaster magical.) The series has given me a boost of imagination and flair. I really look forward to the next novel--and maybe even the next series, "TodHunter Moon".

The characters pick up right after the close of Queste.  While everyone in the previous couple of books have been scattering about on their individual journeys, we see a complete collision course of destiny in Syren. The villains are up to no good as usual, but there is nothing exceptionally dark about these books. They don't take themselves seriously, yet they have some really good things to say about family, friendship, loyalty, and all those other good morals you want your kids to learn. I really enjoy the lessons imparted from Septimus' and Wolf Boy's time spent in the Young Army. If you are ever flying off to deserted islands on your dragon, remember your Hostile Territory pack.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Riding the waves of imagination

It is new book Tuesday! I have one for you today that is so new, it isn't even on the shelves yet. Ha! Check out below what I had to say about a collection of short stories by one of fantasy's legends.

Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip

This is a compilation of short stories, which was a refreshing pace to read for me. I could easily pick it up in the middle of my hectic day, read a quick fantasy, and get back to work after I had finished the story. The stories are the quintessential escape for the lunch hour. Warning side effect of these stories: I did find myself daydreaming for most of the day after reading just small pieces. These are the types of fantasies that open you to the fae and just don't let go immediately. I felt like I had become part of the wind and words, floating around waiting to be reality.

No two stories focused on the same characters or places, or time for that matter, but there were some common themes that could tie all the stories together. Pure fantasy and fae mysticism. We meet witches, gorgons, sea deities, and mermaids. Humans and imagination blend until you aren't sure which are there in front of you. The words are lyrics that just sweep you away in the siren's song. Overall, most of the stories seem to have some pull to the sea. I have not read that many sea-faring fantasies in my day, but these ones would be sure to compete with the best.

My favorite of the collection was "Gorgon in the Cupboard." I already want to go back and re-read that story. McKillip's writing just swept me away into such a vivid world of words come to life. I was so unaware that the ending had even happened, though on reflection it made perfect sense. Many of the others had that seem ethereal hold over me, but others just never seemed to capture me. I will easily give this collection 4 stars. The novella being my least enjoyed story keeps it from getting all the stars; since it was the longest story in the collection, I was hoping for the most interaction there. I will still be recommending this to any and all people with imagination.

I have not read many compilations, but this one just cannot be missed. Check it out June 14, 2016 from Tachyon Publications. Amazon has an awesome pre-order sale going on now.

Friday, May 20, 2016

I'm feeling glad, I got sunshine in a bag

After enjoying a long morning in the sunshine to recharge the batteries after so much rain, I am back with some more reviews. I really needed these blue skies; I must be part reptile. The sunshine just makes me wake up. Now I may be able to actually keep up to date with my reviews.

Queste by Angie Sage

Every novel, I have been progressively impressed with the "Septimus Heap" series. I started them as a filler for my "Harry Potter" whole, and now I have a respect for them in their own right. The wit and humor are stellar. The writing style is light and easy to get through making these books perfect to keep your spirits up during a week of rain. There is a constant sense of sarcasm that just fits my personality perfectly. The magic in the book is fun and everything has flair. This series creates a vivid journey into my imagination.

Queste does not deviate from any of the beauty of the first 3 novels. The characters continue along with their charm in a new journey to discover the House of Foryx. We get a handful of new characters to build out the story and keep everything interesting while maintaining all the great qualities to have come before this story. I seriously can find no fault with these novels if you are looking for something happy, witty, and adventuresome.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

From Muspelheim to Niflheim

Time just seems to disappear completely on me these days. I was doing such a brilliant job of keeping up to date with everything, and then-bam!-one day missed turns into a week later. I was busy with organizing the house, cleaning up the yard after 10 days of rain and travelling with the husband. There was definitely some reading in there to recuperate from massive amounts of cleaning and yardwork. The briefest of reviews will come today as I get back on track with my upcoming novels for Netgalley and an interview with Anna Kashina. An exciting conclusion to the week, in my humble opinion.

Iceberg by Clive Cussler

I enjoyed The Mediterranean Caper so much, I picked up Iceberg to see if it was a fluke or maybe, just maybe, I actually like something out of the adventure/spy genre. I think I managed to come across an author that has plenty published to give me a genre shake up every now and again. The novelty might lie largely in the date of publication and the removal of the PC filter. There is actually some pretty forward thinking stuff in these novels when you just let an author write the character as he comes out of imagination.

Dirk Pitt entertains me. I was even thrown off the scent a couple of times because the plot became over the top conspiracy level. I just never would have gone there in a million years, and I didn't hate that the author did. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

New week, new genre

It's a new week, so let's get it kicked off with a new genre. Well, to be accurate, a new genre for me to be reading and reviewing on my blog. I have never liked the mystery/thriller/suspense/adventure genre and have often made note of that when I read books that walk the line with other genres I do read from regularly. I feel that too often the authors from the world of intrigue never seem to develop foreshadowing correctly. They play their hands much too early, and I am left reading a book for which I know the ending.

The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler

Reasons I read this book:
  1. Recommendation. When I worked as a bookseller, it was my job to know all the sections in my store. I needed to not just know the best sellers from each genre, but what made them best sellers. I also interacted with many readers who held different opinions to mine. (This is a very healthy way to get your dose of reality for the day.) Clive Cussler was recommended to me when I got into a conversation with a customer in regards to my aversion to their favorite genre. I was told that Cussler is not an average intrigue writer. His stories aren't about spies or detectives in the stereotypical sense, and the mysteries are always a little bit unusual. It seems only fair of me to keep an open literature mind if I am to successfully recommend books to other readers, and my library had a copy of the first in the series. (Weird pet peeve: I must always start with the very first book or video game in a series; even if the current plot is completely independent of prequels. This can be tricky when a series or franchise began before 2000.)
  2. Publication Date. The book was published in 1973. It is a whole other world. I almost felt like I was reading a fantasy book in a way. The dialogue used is from another era; the jargon is a little before my time and places have changed names, though most of the technology is an overlap so I never felt completely adrift. There were often references I had to search because they have become dated.  
  3. Publication Date, part 2. I am also completely in love with the lack of a PC filter. These books say what comes to mind about the people and places around them without worrying about hurting someones' feelings. I miss that in literature. Why do we always have to make every single demographic happy? It's unrealistic.
  4. Burn out. I seriously had a fantasy/literary burn out; to the level a young adult/middle grade book wasn't going to palate cleanse. I really needed to get a book way outside my reading pay grade. This one did that with flying colors.
I loved it. Actually, I read the book in one day. They do not appear to be long term reads (as I am now half way through Iceberg in just half a day). This adventure was the exact break I needed from the epic journey of fantasy. Even light, fast young adult reads can really get you bogged down in the emotions. Dirk Pitt keeps you interested but not overly invested. I now understand a little more clearly why people get addicted to this genre. I was also pleased that I never really knew exactly what was going to happen. I had several hunches that ended up being spot on but could still be surprised by some of the information. The story was a great escape and has me renewed for the amazing line of fantasy coming out this summer.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The most mind-boggling book I've ever read

... and the mind-boggled review to go with it. This book was the most unique reading experience I have ever had in decades of reading.

Assassin Queen by Anna Kashina

This week we have the final novel of the "Majat Code" trilogy. I previously reviewed the first and second novels and have read a short companion novella as well. Some may recall me raving about the first novel and being slightly disappointed about the turn of the second novel. The novella was more in tune with Blades of the Old Empire and added to the hype for The Guild of Assassins. So with the letdown from the latter book, why did I get the third? More importantly, how did I feel about it?

Redeemed and exacerbated. How can you feel both of those at once? That is the mystery of the third novel of the "Majat Code." There were some extremely awesome, butt-kicking scenes reminiscent of "Blades," and the romance from "Guild" was still included. I was excited and disappointed at the same time reading this book. I can easily say I have never read anything with that emotion set previously. 

The plot devices were mostly formulaic, but a couple of instances just really threw me off my guard. Many times, characters would monologue for pages while I had already figured out the decision. There were no completely-did-not-see-that-coming moments, more wow-she-really-went-there-with-that moments. When I was lagging in my reading, one of these moments would come up. Then, five chapters later I realized I was supposed to stop reading an hour ago.

The final estimation of this book: just read it for yourself. The experience will boggle your mind. It truly was a great way to end the series. Despite the down moments and some pet peeves on writing style, I found it hard to break from reading. It was a unique reading experience and I recommend everyone else try it for themselves. I feel that the uniqueness will include incredibly varying opinions for decades to come.

Visit Angry Robot Books for more information, author interviews, and where to find your own copy. Assassin Queen publishes June 2, 2016.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Not your typical library. Would you want a card?

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. We are back on new book Tuesday with an oldie, but a goodie. After plunging through a waist-high stack of Netgalley need to reads, I finally found the bottom. Miracle! I even managed to situate my reading schedule from Netgalley to allow a small window for personal reading. The below novel has been practically burning a hole through my shelf since Christmas, so it is new to me on this release day. It craved being read. I complied.

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

I love this series! And now, Tim Burton is making a movie from the first novel? What! He is absolutely the best director and creative mind to bring Miss Peregrine to the screen. If you have not yet begun this series, I highly recommend you look into now. There is a wonderful box set on Amazon that is worth every penny.

Freak shows have become increasingly popular in television, movies and literature. They blend the natural world with fantasy in a laid back fashion. Your imagination doesn't have to be as big to enjoy tales of the peculiar. The stories aren't as exhausting to read as those wonderful epic fantasies. They are like escape-lite.

This collection of peculiar children have made some of the most fun adventure reads for me. They have a touch of grim but keep everything from plunging into total darkness. There is whimsy and heartache. A balance of light and dark that would make any tightrope walker proud. I really cannot express how greatly this book has balance and symmetry in its writing. 

We pick up exactly where we left off in Hollow City. There is not a moment to catch our breath as the peculiars charge ahead into new and fascinating (in that creepy kind of way notable to this series) loops. Jacob struggles with the old and new better than most coming-of-age novels: making decisions in life is never easy and never comes with the solution we imagined. The ending isn't unpredictable, but it concludes the trilogy sweetly and succinctly. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

A way better version of Mulan

Need an epic get away for the weekend to wild, exotic places with strange and unusual guests? Check out the book below. It will immerse you in a whole other world. The story is a more in-depth and gruesome reality-driven version of Mulan. Though I do miss my Mushu. The whole thing actually took me several weeks to read, which is a truly rare occurrence in my bookworm zone.

The Pirate Empress by Deborah Cannon

This is a compilation of stories that were released in serial format on Kindle where I found it in my recommendations section of Kindle Lender Library. I am really pleased I rented a copy. My blog is strong proof of my love for folktales and lore, when I read the Mulanesque plot I was hooked instantly. European stories are obviously the most known to me, so I really love diving into the tales from "exotic" countries.  

The Asian beliefs have been founded around mysticism and superstition; it is a natural fit for my fantasy mind. I love reading tales from China especially. This collection of works was truly exceptional at capturing the fantastic otherworldly stories of the bygone days. A highlight for me, these tales are not happy. Now don't misunderstand. They are not sad in the sappy way you have to keep the tissue box near by; they are real. The heroes receive hardship and struggle to overcome in exchange for the assistance of the gods. They actually have to work for their gain. As it should be!

I love Chinese myths. They are so ghoulish and dynamic. Hopping corpses and fox faeries and all other manner of disturbing demons constantly trying to interfere with the mortal plane juxtaposed with gods who are rather aloof in their human interactions. Their stories are a fresh change of pace from the Greek and Roman gods of my humanities classes. Then the mortal heroes themselves are humans--real-blooded humans, flaws and indecisiveness included.

Another aspect of the Chinese folktale is the passage of time. These stories aren't heroic epics of months to possibly a year; they span decades. The characters evolve and journey. There are places for the story to take you into the epic and get lost in the imagining. That is exactly what happened with The Pirate Empress.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Release Day Review

It has been awhile since I have reviewed graphic novels on this blog. Growing up with a huge passion for fantasy books and Japanese cartoons, it seemed a likely path for me to get into comics; yet I never did. Then a decade later my husband and I branched into Magic: The Gathering, which is commonly sold in comic stores. I tried again to complete my nerd status by getting into comics. Now, graphic novels are more popular, and their subscription rate became better balanced between content and cost. I was willing to give them a try.

The Looking Glass Wars: Crossfire by Frank Beddor, et. al.

I love the "Looking Glass Wars" series in regular print format. They are an amazing series that twists the tale of Alice in Wonderland. Beddor sees it as how Alyss influenced Lewis Carroll to write his story from her life, not as a retelling of the tale itself.

Weekly, I receive a digest on graphic novels from Netgalley. I was hyper excited when last week included the "Looking Glass Wars" continuation. Thank you to the publisher for granting my wish. With The Looking Glass Wars: Crossfire, we go beyond Alyss's adventures and into her life as queen of Wonderland.

For the obvious points: 

  • It is a graphic novel, so the meat of the story is not as fully fleshed out as a print format would be able to cover.
  • Art is aesthetically pleasing in vastly different ways to every individual.

Now that those points are out there, I can honestly review this book. I would recommend it to all while my actual enjoyment was mediocre. I was pleased with the characters and their plot development. There was plenty of background information with thrilling new adventures. We get a continuation of the story diluted down to a fraction of the pages, but none of it feels cramped. All the magic of Wonderland is still present. Their are thought-provoking conversations and a range of emotions for such limited space. The pages just fly by without realizing time has passed. 

What made the experience lackluster for me was the graphic embodiment of Wonderland. The art style is not my favorite as I prefer much cleaner lines and brighter colors. This is a completely personal observation for the book and no way detracts from the quality of the writing or story. Many may find the art appealing and heighten their experience. I want to make sure those who flip through it and dismiss it for the washed out feel DO NOT pass up the chance at a great story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How do you tax embezzlement? She didn't know.

As everyone crunches down to meet the tax deadline, I have a novel that might be of interest. Why not read about some accidental embezzlement to ease the sting?

The Assistants by Camille Perri

All right, let’s be honest. I picked this book because the synopsis was like reading a mini pic of my life. A thirty year old assistant wondering where she has gone with life. Hmm. Familiar. I had to request it. Now that I have read it, I’ll say it is 3 stars worthy. I could certainly see glimpses of my own life and decisions which gave me a level of empathy I always enjoy in my reading, but you don’t have to have lived this exact life to be drawn into the story.

The writing is witty and snappy. Even though it is a very serious story, it never takes itself too seriously. The whole thing remained a fun read. The references border along the millennial line that the middle of my generation experiences from having had computers most of our lives but not cell phones attached to our palms. The dialogue comes from someone who was a teen in the mid-90s with dazzling flashes of struggling life in the Big City. The plot never bogs down in too many details about how exactly she fell into the rabbit hole. We feel her dilemma of embezzling and definitely sympathize with her gastrointestinal stress from said embezzling. We are left wanting to turn the page wondering just what moment was it that got her caught instead of having to slog through her every nerve inducing anxiety. It all felt very Catch Me, If You Can.

My only complaint comes from the overall message. If you are the underdog and do illegal things, but have a really, really good excuse of being overworked and underpaid and was just trying to stand up for equality, then you get to move forward with your social justice. Nope. Doesn’t fly with me. I was also never a fan of Robin Hood. I’m more a Ritchie fandom—teach a man to fish. Handouts for the sake of equality distribution just makes really dumb people who don’t know how to put their hand down.

You can check it out for yourself on May 3rd.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Come fly with me...

...let's take off in the blue. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I spent mine on video games and reading because I had snow outside. In April? Indeed! I have plants in bloom and snow. It is spring, right? The plus side to such temperatures is lack of guilt for cuddling under some poodles indoors reading the day away. Gardening certainly can't be accomplished with frozen ground. This week will be a busy week and make up for all the sloth, but I'll still find some reading (and review posting) time because I'm a bookworm first and foremost.

Fields of Air by Shelley Adina

28802356I continue to love this series. I am hoping inspiration just keeps on churning. I am incredibly attached to the characters at this point. They have morphed before my very eyes. I have loved, laughed, and lost with them. And at an incredibly alarming rate! There is a new book every year—actually just a little less than a year. And they are all wonderful. They never seem to suffer from being so close together.

Sure, I have some that are ranked higher than others, but they have never suffered a bad review from me. I buy, and then subsequently read, each one when they are released. I should probably pace my reading to extend my time with these characters, but I just cannot put the novels down once they are in my hand.

Gloria is proving to be a wonderfully endearing character. She is the American version of Lady Claire. We are following along as she grows and finds her voice as the sudden owner of a major corporation. Very American of her. Her transformation from the beginning of the series has certainly been the most pronounced. She went from being a background character of Claire’s escapades to the leading lady of her own trilogy.

We continue to get adventure, subterfuge and romance in healthy balance. Plenty of things explode and plenty of people have awkward interactions with each other. We also seem to get a fair share of floods. These women really need a weather alert chicken to keep them drier. But then again, we wouldn’t get to meet such fascinating people. Hill people? Really? Love it! I’m really looking forward to where Gloria is going to go from here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Happy Thor's Day

Another day and another post! I am making some serious headway on my reviews while continuing to read two books at once. I certainly am an overly ambitious bookworm. Netgalley keeps my e-reader filled, and I now have a new library card burning a hole in my pocket. Hard copies and digital reading fun for all hours, all locations, all situations! Again, I am an unapologetic bookworm.

Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

With a stop to my new library, Sword of Summer was sitting right there on the end cap as I entered. I had just put down Ancient & Epic Tales from Around the World. Why not some more history and mythology? Plus, I really enjoyed the Percy Jackson series. What I love about Riordan is light-hearted fun with a lesson.  I, also, really enjoy the History channel’s Vikings. So naturally, a book about Vikings from Riordan is a must. I was not disappointed.

The humor is snappy as always. The sarcasm level lifts right up to the gates of Valhalla. The characters are able to interact with each other seamlessly. Teenage arguments are just hilarious. I could not help but crack a smile about every five minutes. My husband probably sat next to me thinking I was deranged. The adventure is paced to just keep flipping the pages. I tore through chapter after chapter and had to really force myself to achieve other things with my day. I really didn’t think I would get a book of dwarves and elves from the land of the Vikings. Didn’t I pick this up for a dose away from epic fantasy?

Now, I will admit my Norse mythology knowledge is rough. I know the very basic set of gods and what they contribute to our theology. Not to mention that the knowledge has been derived from the History channel more than research at this point. I do feel that some of the representations were a little off this time. I am completely aware that Riordan puts his own spin on the gods, but I feel he stays pretty close to the established mythologies. This deviation did not in any way hinder my enjoyment of the book, however. It increased my need to read up on some Norse history, which is exactly what I want my books to do. Yes, I know. Very nerdy of me. I want my books to teach me something; even if they are fiction. I now have the spark of curiosity to not only read the second Magnus Chase book, but to also brush up on my Norse gods. A victory of a 5 star book.