Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman (5/5 stars)

Okay so I am a huge Gaiman fan. I know Gaiman has released a couple books for children, but I don't have any of them. When I saw "Crazy Hair" was coming out I actually pre-ordered it. All my expectations were met; it is a great kid's book and I also enjoy it as an adult.

I read through it first by myself to make sure it wasn't too scary. Personally the fact that the main character has all of this crazy stuff living in his hair creeped me out a little. Then the girl gets sucked into his hair; which I thought might be scary to my 2 1/2 year old son. Still once the girl is in his hair she has a really good time. The pictures (in true Dave McKean style) are very abstract and a little creepy. There is one picture in particular with a pirate ship swooping through huge hair folicles that is a bit odd. So all-in-all the normal mix of wildly creative, creepy, strange that I have come to expect from the Gaiman/McKean team. The book itself is a good length for a toddler; long enough to be a good story but short enough to keep their attention.

So, how did my son like it?

He absolutely loves this book. We read it over and over. He loves that every stanza ends with "crazy hair!" and screams that closing statement at the top of his lungs. He thinks it is really neat that all of this stuff lives in this guy's hair. When the girl gets sucked into the guy's hair he thinks it is hilarious and he has memorized all of the neat things she does "dancing in his crazy hair!"

He also finds the abstract artwork fascinating and will spend (well not hours) but minutes at a time (that's a lot for a toddler) just staring at them and pointing out the things he sees.

In summary I was very pleased with this book and so was my 2 1/2 year old son. We read it every night. It is a great story with wonderful artwork. It made me anxious to get some of Gaiman and McKean's other children's books. This is a book that I will keep forever; it definitely gets a spot on my keeper shelf. I would strongly recommend this book for all ages.

Revelations (Blue Bloods, Book 3) by Melissa de la Cruz (4/5 stars)

This is the third book in the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz. I thought this one was the best of the series; I would give it 4.5 stars if I could!

In this book things are coming to a head. The Silver Bloods are evidently somehow infiltrated into some of the prestigious Blue Bloods families but no one knows who or where. With Lawrence running the council things are changing at Duchesne school. The students are now learning more about how to defend themselves. Things are getting worse for Bliss; who instead of just having blackouts is now plagued by horrible visions while awake too. Something is wrong in South America and Lawrence is called away to deal with it. Schuyler spends time in misery when she is adopted by Charles Force; she also spends a lot of time in this book trying to reconcile her relationships with Oliver and Jack. Mimi spends most of her time planning her bonding with Jack; when she isn't making Schuyler miserable.

This book had a much faster pace then the second one. The plot line twisted again and again; which I actually thought was well done and enjoyed. I thought this book, more than any of the previous ones, really kept you on your toes mentally and kept you second-guessing yourself. I thought this book really set the stage nicely and made the series into something bigger than high school girls that are super pretty and happen to be vampires.

There are, of course, the prerequisite modeling scenes. I actually enjoy reading about these so they don't detract from the story for me. The amount of time Schuyler spent whining about whether or not she loves Oliver or Jack got seriously annoying; but as the plot moved along she didn't have time to dwell on this forever.

As I said, I thought this was the best book of the series. I liked how complicated the plot got at the end and how dire circumstances end up. I think the story was well tied up, but leaves you wondering what will happen in the bigger picture. I loved that there was a lot more action in this book too! This book finally made me really excited about this series :-)

Masquerade (Blue Bloods, Book2) by Melissa de la Cruz (4/5 stars)

This is the second book in the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz. I was pleasantly pleased with this book. After reading both Melissa Marr's "Ink Exchange" and the remainder of the House of Night series I have to say, I think Melissa de la Cruz writes much better than either of those authors.

Schuyler travels to Italy with Oliver in hopes of finding her grandfather; she hopes he can help her figure out how to fight the Silver Bloods. Meanwhile the Blue Blood community is planning the Four Hundred Ball and at Duchesne School Mimi is planning an exclusive after party. Also a mysterious new kid, Kingsley, enters the scene. Will Schuyler find what she seeks? What will happen to Mimi as she walks a darker and darker path?

I like this book better than the first book of this series. There is a lot more plot and things move along at a fast clip. It was nice to see Schuyler doing something productive and really taking the initiative. The tension between Oliver/Schuyler/Jack and Jack/Schuyler/Mimi continues to make things interesting. In this book you feel like things are kind of building to a climax as you find out more and more about the Silver Blood taint within the Blue Blood community.

This book is also a fun read if you like fashion and reading about the elite. There are a couple good fashion shoots that Bliss and Schuyler attend and some discussion about style and fashion in general. I happen to enjoy fashion so I find these parts of the book to be interesting and entertaining.

I thought many of the characters really filled out in this book. I also thought that this book was more linear and didn't jump between characters in a way that was as distracting as the first book. All in all I really enjoyed the book and am eagerly awaiting the next book. Just remember these are books to read for fun and really aren't all that deep. Although I will say that this book had more depth than the first book.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bear's New Friend by Karma Wilson and Jade Chapman (3/5 stars)

This is a story about Bear who hears a noise in the woods. Bear keeps running into his normal friends in the woods but none of them are the ones making the noise. In the end the animal making the noise was hiding because it was scared and is happy to be friends with Bear.

The pictures in this book are really cute. My two year old loved the repetitive phrase "And Bear says 'Who?'" He loved repeating the Who part. He also loved naming the animals and repeating the sounds they would make.

Unfortunately this book is pretty long and wordy for a board book and I have had a lot of trouble getting my son to sit down and read it. He loves to read books, normally he will tolerate a longer book, but he tells me this one is boring and always wants to put it away. The parts where Bear says "Who?" don't necessarily make any sense with the rest of the story and are kind of put in weird places. Also this book doesn't really teach anything about friendship; it says on the cover it is "A Book About Friendship". If anything it touches on issues of shyness but even that is only brief.

In summary the pictures are cute. The story length and content leave a lot to be desired (especially from my two year old son's point of view). This book will never be a favorite of his or mine. Also don't be misled, this isn't a story that teaches some sort of deep-seated lesson about friendship. It also isn't a story that is educational in any way. The only positive parts about this book were the repetitive "Who?" phrases that my son enjoyed and the fact that there are animals in the story. It's an okay book but will most likely be gotten rid of sooner than later.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (5/5 stars)

I loved this book. But then I am a big fan of your classic down and dirty comics. I think if you like dark graphic novels you will dig this book.

Sandman Slim (or Jimmy if you want to piss him off) has just escaped from Hell. He is here to revenge his girlfriend and will stop at nothing to get the guys that did her in. And, hey, if he gets stuck in a plot to stop world destruction on the way to his main goal who's to say that he actually meant to save the world?

Sandman Slim is your typical down and dirty anti-hero. He does good deeds because he is stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. He has no intention of being a hero. He has a dark biting sense of wit, and this shows through in the number of over-the-top biting analogies he makes or phrases he tosses out. Almost every line he speaks sounds like it's jumping out of a comic book; so if you don't like this type of writing I would skip this book. I felt like I was wandering the dark streets of a dirtier Gotham City for parts of the book; at other times I was sure I had fallen into Simon Green's Nightside books.

I enjoyed this book immensely. The dry, dark sense of humor had me chuckling a number of times. Slim's gun-toting attitude was amusing as was his serial stealing of hot cars. Oh, yeah, and Slim is a super cool magician too, so don't forget that.

Slim was one of those characters that keeps getting beat to a pulp and then gets up and dusts himself off for some more; reminded me in some ways of both John Taylor (Nightside series) and Harry Dresden (Dresden Files). All of the characters in this book were quick and dirty types (a lot of over the top quotes thrown around like in the Nightside series). I particularly liked the Jade and the Doctor, as well as Slim's close alchemist friend.

This book was quick paced, action packed, and didn't pull any punches when it came to the gore involved. If you don't like to get down and dirty then don't read this book. Surprisingly there really wasn't any explicit sex, just violence galore.

The book wrapped up nicely, but there could be more books in the future featuring Sandman Slim and I certainly hope that there are.

I would recommend this book if you liked: The Nightside by Simon Green, Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Sandman by Neil Gaiman, or dark graphic novels (Batman, Sin City, etc.).

You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore (1/5 stars)

I found out (after reading this book) that it was the sequel to "Bloodsucking Fiends" and also had characters in it from "A Dirty Job". I didn't know that when I read it. I have read two other Moore books "The Stupidest Angle" and "Fool". I thought "The Stupidest Angel" was so so; I absolutely adored "Fool". I thought "You Suck"...well, I thought it really sucked.

I thought the first page of the book was funny and it went downhill from there. Tommy gets turned into a vampire by his girlfriend and his girlfriend is supposed to be getting out of town. But, Tommy bronzed the old vamp who turned his girlfriend into a vampire so that old vamp is still around. Then Tommy's friends go to Las Vegas and blow all their money on a Blue Hooker. That basically was the story. Does it make sense to you? Well it didn't really make sense to me and there didn't seem to be a point to it.

I didn't really like any of the characters that much; the only character worth speaking of is Abby the goth girl. She was funny at parts, but even her long slang filled journal entries got boring to slog through after a while. I never figured out what the point of the story was; there wasn't anything of interest (or even urgency) propelling the story forward. All the characters ran around in a confused daze with no purpose what-so-ever. Now remember I have read Moore a couple times before so I know that that is part of his charm, but this book was ridiculous.

I didn't find any of the humor to be particularly clever (unless you are a twelve year old boy - this is a general statement I am not trying to stereotype 12 yr old boys...). I had a really, really hard time finishing this book. I put it down and said "forget this waste of time" more then once. Then in the last fourth of the book things picked up, so I decided to finish it. Then there was the ending, which was just plain stupid and screamed that Moore didn't want to write this book and had no idea how to finish it.

This book really knocked Moore down a few points in my opinion. I probably should have picked a better book of his to read. I am still interested in reading "Lamb" because I love a good parody of religion as much as the next person. But I won't be reading any more Moore books for a bit until the disappointment of this book clears through my system. If I hadn't read "Fool" before this book there would be no more Moore in my future (sorry for the horrible more Moore phrases....).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Monday Weekly Book Haul

Okay if I don't stop getting so many books I will never get to the end of my pile. The library has continued to get in books way faster than their predictions. So imagine my surprise when I showed up last Thursday to pick up a book and they had 5 books for me to pick up...geez.

From the Library:

A retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I love retellings of classic fairy tales and am looking forward to this one.

Yep, still reading this series too. Rumor is it will all be over soon. I thought "A Lick of Frost" was okay so maybe this one will be even better.

This is the sequel to "Evernight" I am hoping that it is an excellent read.

Another book in a series I think has been mediocre at best. Maybe I will give the series up after this book; we will see. Still it is one of the only series with classic fairies in it.

Another series where I read the first book and thought it was okay. I have the second book to read and then this one. Hopefully it will be a good read.

From Paperbackswap.com

This is the sequel to "Night Calls"; which I own but haven't read yet. I have heard great things about this series though.

I got this book soley because someone want to swap me books directly and this was one they had that sounded interesting. It will go on the shelf as an oddity for me to read when I get a chance (Like that will ever happen).

This book just sounded funny and entertaining...and it had Zombies...so I had to have it.

From Amazon Vine:

I got this from Vine. I am about 50 pages into it and absolutely loving it; it is a gritty book that reminds me a bit of a classic comic book story with a little Jim Butcher and Niel Gaiman thrown in :-)

A book I got through Vine for my son. It is okay a little wordy but the pictures are nice. I can't get my son to sit through it though.

Well that's it for this week! And I think that is more than enough :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Just Another Judgment Day by Simon Green (5/5 stars)

This is book 9 in the Nightside series by Simon Green. I love this series and I loved this book. Last I heard there are going to be 12 books in this series; I hope it is more because I enjoy this series immensley.

The Nightside has a new Authority in place but the New Authories have a problem. Walker comes begging John Taylor to deal with it. You see the Walking Man is coming to the Nightside. The Walking Man is a human man that delivers the wrath of God upon humanity. The Walking man sees in black and whites, no greys. People are either bad or good and, the Nightside being what it is, everyone in it is in trouble. In fact the Walking Man is bent on destroying the whole darn place. The New Authorities need John to find the Walking Man and...deal with him.

This was a great book. As usual it opens with a small case that John Taylor and Shotgun Suzie have to solve; this case is just as interesting and creative as the rest of the book. These books continue to be wilding entertaining, bizarrely creative, and an all around great ride. I love the way Green throws in off-handed comments about the strangest things. Just the fact that the book starts in Strangefellows bar with The Tribe of Gay Barbarians doing the Cancan is enough to make me eagerly devour the whole book. Too bad it was over so quickly.

In this book Shotgun Suzie joins John for part of the journey but John's closest friend is a monster hunter from the Middle East named Chandra. Chandra is a great character. We learn even more about Walker and where his power originates. John and Suzie come to more of an understanding in their "relationship". Madness and mayhem are everywhere. And of course John has to face the Wrath of God.

These books continue to be hilarious, fast-paced, action packed, surprising, creative, and all around hugely entertaining. I was sad when it ended and am eagerly awaiting the next book.

Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn (4/5 stars)

This is book 6 in the Kitty Norville series. I thought this book was better than the last book and a great addition to the series.

In this book Kitty returns to Denver to try and live a normal life with her new husband Ben. Well, of course things don't stay normal. Kitty's pack is being hunted by a horrible, invisible, fire-loving supernatural creature of some sort and Kitty thinks it might be tied to the events that happened in Las Vegas in Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand.

This was a great addition to this series. For once Kitty is in charge; she is making smart (if not always informed) decisions and carrying out plans. Her wry sense of humor is still in force, there is a lot of action in this book and it clicks along as a super fast pace. I was happy that the storyline dealing with the Las Vegas shapeshifters was expanded on and Odysseus Rex was part of that wonderful storyline. Rick is a great character and another new mysterious vampire enters the scene.

I love that this book propelled itself forward without needing all the emotional baggage that comes along with the unstable relationships featured in a lot of paranormal series. Kitty and Ben have a happy, stable relationship and it is nice to see a good story where the characters are well-adjusted caring individuals.

The latest news I heard was that there was only going to be 7 books in this series. I am not sure if that is still true or not. Either way I am looking forward to the next book.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (3/5 stars)

This is the second book by Melissa Marr. It is in the same world as "Wicked Lovely" and many of the same characters are present. It happens after the events in "Wicked Lovely" but follows the story of Leslie one of Ash's friends.

Leslie is having a rough time; with a dad who constantly drinks and a brother who is always high, she has a tough time keeping it together. Things change when she decides to get a tattoo and gets drawn into a world of darkness she never even knew existed.

I liked Leslie's character better than Ash's character. Leslie had more depth and struggled against a darkness in her nature that was interesting. As for the rest of the story it was okay. The book is a quick read and I was never bored. Still there is something two-dimensional about Marr's writing style. The characters still feel a bit flat and the story is predictable. I don't really think the world is all that creative either. The deal with the tattoo was interesting and probably the most creative part of the book. The writing style is very straight-forward; nothing lush or even all that descriptive.

I feel like this is the beginning of a series involving Leslie. This book (although wrapping up the main story line) left many things hanging and left the reader wondering. I didn't feel like the story was as complete as "Wicked Lovely" was.

Overall, I am finding that Marr writes books that are quick, brainless, summer reads. They are okay and kind of engaging but nothing all that special. I am again going to recommend Holly Black's Fairy Tale series as a great replacement to this series. Also Charles DeLint's Moonheart duology is another great fairy book. In fact I like Pike's "Wings" better than this book too. So if you are looking for a good modern fairy tale I would check out those books.

Will I read the next book, "Fragile Eternity"? Maybe. I will probably get it from the library. As I said these are super quick reads, 3-4 hours tops, so it's not a huge investment for a little fun.

Monday Weekly Book Haul

I got another round of books last week. Mostly from the Library; the Library is much quicker about getting books I want to read than I though they would be! So Kudos to them on revitalizing my faith in my local library.

From the Library This Week:

I have been waiting to read this book and am so excited to finish it.

I haven't been thrilled with this series but the books are okay and a fun, fast summer read.

Yes, I am still reading this series. Shame on me. But, notice I am no longer buying the books...not even used.

From Amazon Vine:

There was a special Amazon Vine edition this week featuring business books. Since I am interested in everything I though, why not?!

I acquired this indirectly from Vine; as me and my mom swapped Vine books.

From Paperbackswa.com:

I am very excited to read this book by Brandon Sanderson. I loved "Warbreaker" and am excited to read more of his works.

This book has on my paperbackswap.com wish list forever. Hopefully it will be as good as it sounds.

Well that is all for this week! How am I ever going to keep up with all of these books coming in? I don't know but getting them is always exciting!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Aurelia's Colors by Jeffery Overstreet (2/5 stars)

I was excited to read this book based on the reviews I had read. It is written in a lush and poetic style; which I usually love. However somehow this book managed to make the characters and setting somehow seem stiff and unreal despite the delicate prose of the book.

Aurelia was found as a toddler by a river. She is raised by the Gatherers, people who have been thrown out of the walls of the city for various crimes. Many years ago the Queen forbade colors; all color belongs only to the upper class. Unfortunately for Aurelia she excels in finding color in everything and the palace wants her for the their own. Will Aurelia succeed in giving the commonfolk back their colors?

As I said the writing is beautifully done. The story unfortunately did not grab me. The writer constantly switches viewpoint between tons of different characters and I found that very distracting. It was hard to get involved or really care about any of the characters. The writing style, despite its beauty, did little to bring the scenes in the book alive for me. I also found the story in general to be a very dull read, it moved forward at a very deliberate pace. I had a lot of trouble getting through this book.

The imagine my shock (not knowing Overstreet is a Christian writer) when the whole story drops any pretense of creativity and becomes just another retelling of the story of Christ. The parallels between the story of Christ and Aurelia were painfully transparent and the ending of the book had my eyeballs rolling as the characters and story were pushed aside to pull everything together into a perfect retelling of the classic religious story.

In summary, the story starts out beautifully written but the writing and characters are dry, the plot creeps along and is a bit schizophrenic because of the multitude of viewpoints it is told from. I had a lot of trouble getting through this book. Then when the whole pretense of a creative story was dropped to re-deliver a story of Christ that has been delivered a million times before it just added to my ire. I won't be reading anymore of Overstreet's books; they are just too boring and preachy for me.

White Witch, Black Curse (The Hollows, Book 7) by Kim Harrison (2/5 stars)

This is the 7th book in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. In a series that has consistently blown me away with its great writing quality and fast pace this book was a huge disappointment. I really feel like Kim Harrison was forced to write this book and forced to wrap up the whole Kisten mystery and didn't want to; this book just drags. Quick side note: I listened to this on audio book and the audio book quality was great.

In this book Rachel is trying to remember what happened on the night when Kisten was murdered. Ford is along to try and help her jog her memories. Ivy is still trying to solve the Kisten murder in her own way. Then they get called on a case that ends up involving a mother Banshee who may be killing to feed her child. Oh and Pierce (you know the guy in the short story done in the anthology "Holidays from Hell") pops into Rachel's life. Also like usual Rachel is having trouble with Al (her demon teacher) and is trying to keep things with Marshall on a "strictly friends" basis.

As you can tell from the above things were kind of jumbled together; Rachel didn't seem to know what she was doing most of the book. There are so many things that bothered me about this book. First and foremost is Rachel's whining. I mean you probably could have cut 50 pages out if you had eliminated some of the whining; I felt like counting the number of times Rachel said "But, I'm a White witch!" with an honest to god foot-stomping whine...the number of times this was said had to be in the double digits at least; were they trying to drive home the book title? Rachel acted pathetic throughout the book and constantly said she would change things while she constantly made the same horrible decisions over and over again. It just wasn't interesting to read about that.

Next issue is the Kisten thing. All this build up over multiple books over who Kisten's killer was...it was very anti-climatic. The conclusion to the Kisten murder was weird too (I won't give anything away) but it was very rushed and very unsatisfying and really felt forced; like someone told Harrison she had to wrap up this plot point so she grudgingly did it. My only positive reaction to this part of the story is that we finally can (hopefully) stop hearing "Who was Kisten's killer?".

Then there is the appearance of Pierce, a minor character in a short story in an anthology half of the readers of this series probably haven't read. Pierce takes a major part in this story and I thought it was odd that he suddenly plays such a big role in Rachel's life. His inclusion felt forced and unnatural. The Banshee character Mia was also unsatisfying; there was so much "we have her, we lost her, we have her, we lost her" that I just got bored with the whole story. Rachel's whole moral struggle with bringing in Mia was odd, it was like Rachel completely lost her sense of right and wrong and wandered around confused for most of the Mia investigations.

Of course, to bring even more pain into the mix Harrison had to (again) bring up Ivy and Rachel's blood balance. I had really, really hoped we were done hearing about this. In fact it seemed pretty tied up in the last book and I was disappointed to see it rear its ugly head again. Bringing this up, yet again, added to my boredom and made me roll my eyes...I mean come on let the characters move on and get on with the story. Same with Marshall, what was up with his relationship with Rachel, is it there just to take up page space?

There were a couple good pieces to the story. Pierce is actually an interesting character and I am eager to see more of him. Eddings and Glenn were great characters and added more to the story than any of the other characters. Al stole the scenes he was in too. Also Bis was awesome and I hope the gargoyle is in the story more in the future. Rynn Cormel is an intriguing master vamp and I am also eager to find out what his future actions are. In fact all of these characters were way more interesting than Rachel and Ivy; maybe Rachel's character is just getting tired. All I know is something has to change or I will be getting rid of all the books in this series and dropping it.

All in all a disappointment. This was a long, long book that felt forced and chased itself in circles a lot. There were a couple bright spots, but overall I just wanted the book to be over.

Succubus Dreams (Georgina Kincaid, Book 3) by Richelle Mead (4/5 stars)

This is the third book in the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead. While I enjoyed this book, I didn't find it as compelling as the second book was. The side characters introduced in this book also weren't as engaging as those introduced in the second book and I really missed Bastien.

In this book Georgina keeps having really vivid dreams the night after she takes a victim; the dreams leave her incredibly drained of life force. As if this oddity isn't bad enough the demon who owns the contract for her soul brings in a succubus named Tawny for Georgina to apprentice. Georgina is trying to cope with all of this and it is creating a stress on her relationship with Seth.

I didn't like this book as much as the last one; I thought Georgina was a bit unfocused through parts of the book. Also the side characters didn't grab me and hold my interest like Bastien did. It seemed like a lot of this book was focused on Georgina's struggles with her daily life, more than any big investigation. Having a bunch of angels in the book was interesting but they flitted in and out of the story so quickly that I didn't think they were developed into characters all that well. I thought Tawny's character was annoying and somewhat unnecessary. My biggest problem was with the ending. I won't give anything away but I thought that multi-book build up between Georgina and Seth was poorly and quickly treated at the end of the book (if you read the book you will know what I mean).

The things I did like were the interludes that told stories from Georgina's past. These short glimpses into Georgina's former aliases were griping, very interesting, and bittersweet. I also liked meeting the demon who took Georgina's soul. I found it very intriguing that Carter again hinted that Georgina's contract with hell might not be exactly what she thinks it is; this is a theme continued from the second book. I also liked the inclusion of Dante as a supporting character; he is somewhat interesting and I hope his role is bigger in future books.

The overall theme of this series seems to be Georgina's struggle against her contract for her soul and I am intrigued to see where this over arcing story leads. I was somewhat disappointed that the mystery and characterization wasn't as engaging as the second book. It was still a good read though and I look forward to the next book; I am still wishing these books had more action in them. They remind me a lot of the Kitty Norville series in their level of action.

Succubus on Top (Georgina Kincaid, Book 2) by Richelle Mead (5/5 stars)

This is the second book in the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead. I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than the first book. I thought Georgina really came into her own as a character, some interesting side characters were also added. There was more urgency to this book too.

In this book Georgina knows something is up when her co-worker and friend Doug starts acting strangely. Georgina is determined to get to the bottom of Doug's issues. She is interrupted by a pleasant surprise when Bastien, an incubus whom she has had a close friendship with for centuries, shows up. Bastien is assigned with taking down a prominent conservative radio host; and is enlisting Georgina's help. Meanwhile Georgina and Seth are still trying to make their "hands off" relationship work.

This book was much better than the first one. With Bastien present you get more look into Georgina's history. The issues with Doug end up being really interesting and Georgina gets sucked into an investigation that propels the story forward. I thought Georgina gained a lot more personality in this book and that her character really became something special; she is smart and has a way of helping people out that is really admirable despite her demonic nature.

The plot-line of this book was tighter and more compelling than the last book. I felt like in general the writing was better. The characters of Carter and Bastien added a lot to the story. In summary I liked this book; my greatest complaint is still that I wish there were more action scenes. I guess these books are just much more paranormal romance than they are paranormal action.

Fables and Reflections, Sandman Volume 6 by Neil Gaiman (5/5 stars)

This was another excellent volume in the Sandman series. Instead of being one long story this book consists of multiple stories; each story illustrated by a different artist. The stories are what the title suggests; fables and reflections.

The stories touch on familiar fables and myths. Everything from Faust to Eurydice. This book was particularly interesting since more of Morpheus's family shows up. You get to meet a number of his siblings; his sister Death in particular makes a number of appearances.

I enjoyed both the artwork and the stories greatly. Each story has its own little dark sense of humor, always with a touch of irony woven in. The stories are engrossing and thought provoking; while expanding on both well known and obscure fables and myths.

A great book. I continue to love this series and am excited to read the next book.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Weekly Book Haul

Okay so I am going to start keeping track of the books I got in the previous week. Last week was quite the haul; since I picked up a whole bunch of books (3) from the library, got a book through paperbackswap.com, bought a couple kids books, and got a book though the Amazon Vine Program.

From the Library:

Finally I am reading "Ink Exchange" by Melissa Marr. I didn't like her first novel "Wicked Lovely" much but I thought I should give her one more chance since I *do* love reading about fairies.

Got my hands on "Kitty Raises Hell" too. I am excited to see where this book goes. These books are never "keepers" for me so getting it from the library was perfect; but they are entertaining.

I found Moores Fool book so entertaining I was excited to get this one.

From Paperbackswap.com:

I have really been looking forward to reading this book too. I was so excited when my "wish" was granted last week.

From Amazon Vine:

I got this through the Vine program. I am not sure what I am in for with this one; but it should be an interesting read.


I had to buy this book for my son. We've read it a few times and he loves it. It is a wonderful kid's book.

Another great book from Gaiman. A bit too old for my two-year old; but he will love it when he gets a bit older.

So, that is it for the books that came in last week. Stay tuned from more book reviews this week. I'll list my next haul of books next week. Also, just cause they are listed doesn't mean I'll get to them soon (excepting the library books); I just have so many cool books to read!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Roar by Emma Clayton (3/5 stars)

I got this book as an Advanced Reading Copy from the Amazon Vine program. This was an interesting book with a few creative elements and many not so creative elements.

Ellie has been kidnapped by a man seeking to develop her "powers" for some unknown purpose. Mika is her twin left behind; everyone believes Ellie is dead except for him. They both live in a world where the northern hemisphere of the earth is walled in order to protect humans from the evil Animals infected with the Animal Plague a generation before them. Ellie it trying to get home and Mika is trying to find a way to get to Ellie despite the fact no one believes she is alive.

This was a fast paced, engaging read. It had some creative elements in the idea of an Animal Plague wiping out half of the earth. Unfortunately it had more uncreative elements in it. For example trapping a subset of humanity behind an enclosure and telling them they are all that is left is a concept explored in many novels. Also genetically modifying kids to develop special talents for fighting or humans morphing to a new species are also both topics that have been overdone in both books and film. Still, if you like reading novels about these types of things this could be the book for you. Personally I thought that this story rehashed a lot of the stories out there. If you are interested in this type of story I think The Storm Thief, The Tripods series, The Hunger Games, and The Diamond Age do this type of story in a more creative and better way that this book does. A lot of people also like The City of Ember (although it wasn't a favorite of mine) and this explores a similar type of story.

What really got me about this book was the end. The ending is rushed and very unsatisfying. This book is either blatantly setting up the reader for a new series or the author just had absolutely no idea how to end the book. Many of the main events in the book were left unresolved and other events are only partially or quickly wrapped up. Nothing about this book was surprising mainly because there are already so many books like this available; especially in the young adult category.

This book is a quick read about isolating humanity in a post-Armageddon type walled city; it is also about genetic modification. If you are really into these topics this isn't a bad read, but it is not an especially mind-blowing or enlightening read either. I personally don't think I will be looking into any more of Clayton's work; it just wasn't creative enough.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

News: Kim Harrison = Dawn Cook?

I am trying to expand the book blog a bit with various bits of news that I find out.

Today I learned that Kim Harrison is the nom de plume of Dawn Cook. I have been curious to read some Dawn Cook novels. Now that I know that one of my favorite authors, Kim Harrison, is none other than Dawn Cook herself I am definitely going to add the Decay Princess series to books I want to read. This was apparently posted in the a May 2009 article of Locus magazine.

Also it was with much sadness last week that I learned that David Eddings past away. I have read a couple of his series in the past and really enjoyed them; they were excellent examples of hardcore adventure fantasies. It is always sad when such a steadfast fantasy writer passes away :-(

That's all for today. I am also going to try and start posting what books are added to my seemingly endless pile of reading as time goes on.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Update of the Dreaded Series Reading Chart

Okay so it has been a long, long while since I posted my famous chart of all of the series I am reading. Here it is in all of its glory. I have added in notes about all the info I know about upcoming books in the series, series length, etc. etc. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Enjoy! If it says I am on book 0; that means I have not started to read that book yet. Eventually I will get all of these series read, or I will give up on them. Whatever...

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, Book 1) by Richelle Mead (3.5/5 stars)

I was really looking forward to reading this book. The Vampire Academy series is one of my favorite new series and I was hoping that Mead's first adult series would be just as engaging. I didn't find this series opener as engaging as Vampire Academy was and I thought the characterization was a bit weak. The world that Mead created is interesting though and the main character has to deal with interesting moral issues.

Georgina Kincaid is a succubus. Unfortunately she is a somewhat unwilling succubus; instead of corrupting good souls she tends to feed off of the bottom-dwellers of society, much to the disdain of her demon boss. Georgina likes to live as a human and holds a job at a book store. When immortals in the community start dying after they argue with Georgina, the demon and angel community wants to know how she is involved.

I wanted to love this book, but I really only found it somewhat engaging. Georginia has been alive for centuries yet she still seems to struggle with some basic interaction with humans; which I found a bit unbelievable. She is also an indecisive and weak character. She spent a lot of the book getting distracted and making decisions and then unmaking them. She also spent the majority of the book whining about her succubus nature and then giving into it and then whining that she gave into it. All in all I thought the main character left a lot to be desired. Georgina's bright spot was her sharp wit; which after reading Magic Bites, still wasn't nearly as sharp as Kate Daniel's.

The above being said, some of the side characters were worth meeting. Gerogina's demon boss was interesting and his angelic friend Carter also promises to be an engaging character. The book writer Seth has many dimensions to his character that are just starting to be explored. The world itself is also interesting; Mead's angle on demon/angel politics was engaging and I am interested in learning more.

All in all I was expecting more of an paranormal action book and what I got was a paranormal romance novel. The actions scenes are all but non-existent; in fact Georgina spends some of what could be the most intense action scenes oblivious to the world. There are sections where the book drags quite a bit and not a whole lot happens. Overall though the book was engaging and interesting to read. In fact I have to say that the last three or four chapters in this book really redeemed it and made me decide to read the next book.

I am trying to keep in mind that this was kind of the intro book to the series, so overall I think it was okay. I am interested in what the second book will bring, but still on the fence as to whether or not I will continue reading after that. I really like my paranormal books heavier on the action, than on the romantic side. This book was definitely more of a romance. It has potential to be more of an action type.

I really enjoyed Kate Daniels series more than this one so far. I also enjoyed Mead's Vampire Academy a lot more. Hopefully the next book will be better.

Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins (5/5 stars)

This is the fifth (and so far) final book in the Underland Chronicles. I think it was my favorite book of the series and I think it did a nice job of wrapping up the series in a realistic (if not fairy tale happy ending) type of way.

You enter this book right where you left off in the 4th one. Gregor is returning to the castle with his injured comrades and running to let the Underlanders know they are about to be attacked by rats. Gregor finds out about the Prophecy of Time and ends up heavily engaged in war with the enemy. This story is basically all one long battle between the rats and the humans.

It was a great story. There was a ton of action and some waiting too; as is realistic for a large scale battle. A highlight is when Gregor's sister Lizzie shows up to help break the Code of Claw. Lizzie is great character and it was nice to see her get some page space. Also you learn a lot more about Ripred's past and why he is how he is; I loved this since he is one of my favorite characters in this series.

So, much happens in this book. It is a fun, fast-paced read. With great fight scenes and great lessons. There is a lot of emphasis on the craziness of war; "how do you decide which side is right?" and "does anyone really win in a war?" This series will do a good job of growing with the younger audience it is aimed at. In this book Gregor and Luxa have to deal with tougher questions than they have previously.

I loved this final book and overall think this is a great children's series. I think young adults and adults alike will also enjoy this final book and wish that maybe Collins was going to write a few more books with these wonderful characters.

Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins (4/5 stars)

This is the fourth book in the Underland Chronicles. It was a great book as things really start to heat up in the Underland.

When one of the bats returns the crown that Luxa left with the Nibblers; Luxa knows the Nibblers must be in big trouble. Gregor is also making regular visits to the Underland to visit his ailing mother; during these visits Gregor trains with Ripred to improve his echolocation and in one visit meets the Bane. The Bane has grown substantially since Gregor saved him and is becoming a creature to match his name. Frustrated with the slowness of the council Luxa convinces Gregor and crew to meet with the Nibblers, but the Nibblers have disappeared and Gregor and Luxa (accompanied by Howard and Boots) are in for another another adventure that leads to a climax in the Underdark that has so long been inevitable.

This was a great book. It ripped along at a very fast pace, was very entertaining, and hard to put down. I just flew through this book. This book is different from the previous books in that the book is not a contained adventure; this book ends in the middle of the action and leads right into book 5. So, I would definitely get book 5 ahead of time to avoid frustration of being stranded in the middle of the story at the end of this book. It is also different from the other books in that there is not a prophecy forcing the story forward.

There is more blood and violence in this book than the other books. As the characters mature, so do the things they are forced to deal with. Luxa and Gregor both grow a lot as characters and begin to accept their responsibilities. You get to see a lot more of Gregor's rager abilities and a lot more of Luxa making the decisions a Queen must make. Ripred and Boots are deeply involved in the story too; these are probably my two favorite characters in this series.

A great addition to the series. Leads you to the climax of these books; very engrossing and fast-paced read. I wasn't thrilled with this series after the first couple books; but the last two books have made reading the series all worth while!

Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock (4/5 stars)

This was a cute book and a fast read. I actually listened to it on audio book and the audio book was well done.

Princess Benevolence is not you typical princess; she is not beautiful and she wants nothing to do with being a princess. When her parents are killed on a journey she is left alone with only the dreaded Queen as her teacher and guardian. Every time Ben thinks she reached the lowest low in her life things get worse; that is until she stumbles upon a magic room that leads her into an amazing adventure.

More than anything this book is about growing up. Ben is definitely not a likable character in the beginning on the book. There are a number of times when I think she deserved what the Queen dealt out; Ben is selfish and whiny. I kind of wish that a bit less of the book had been spent developing Ben's unsavory character. About a third of the book deals with Ben as she is forced to take on princess responsibilities that she detests. I would have been happier if Ben's character had been established quicker and we had moved on to more interesting parts of the story sooner.

After the first third or so the story picks up the pace. This story is a coming of age story clear and simple. It is not a complicated story and is an appropriate story for children and young adults; I enjoyed the story too. It was nice to read a good story that spans a large age group.

Although not the most wonderful or intricate story; this story is a cute twist on your classic princess and dragon fairy tales. It is simple and sweet story that doesn't tax your brain but still teaches some important life lessons. It was a fun read as Princess Ben has a dry sense of humor people should enjoy. I also enjoyed how Murdock wove some elements from classic fairy tales we all know and love into the story.

I would recommend this book and I look forward to more books by Murdock. If you like fairy tales and stories about princesses; this is the book for you. This isn't a life-changing story but it is a light and enjoyable read that has a good message in it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Swoon by Nina Malkin (1/5 stars)

I got this book through Amazon Vine. I was excited to get it because I actually had this book on my wish list. Boy was I disappointed.

The concept is interesting. Dice has some psychic ability. When her friend Pen falls from a tree and dies for a moment; Pen's body is entered by the spirit of Sinclair (Sin). Sin was wrongly murdered many, many years ago and wants revenge against the town of Swoon (where they all live). Sins presence makes Pen act out and Dice tries to exorcise Sin; instead she ends up giving him a physical body that allows him to wreck havoc in person instead of through Pen.

Okay if the premise sounds interesting, it is. Unfortunately the execution of the story left a lot to be desired. All of the characters come across as stereotypical and flat. The story itself is inconsistent and disjointed; chapters end in the middle of a scene only to have new chapters start in a completely different setting. It leaves wondering if some pages fell out of the book or something. An example of this: a big deal is made about how Dice need to hitchhike to get someone to drive her back to New York city, she meets a psychic there. In the middle of their meeting the chapter ends. In the next chapter Dice is suddenly back in Swoon getting ready for a Halloween party. How did she get back to Swoon? A big deal was made about how she got out of Swoon, so how did she suddenly get back? What happened to her meeting with the psychic? I mean really would it hurt to have some consistency?

I also had a bit of a problem with this being dubbed a young adult novel. Throughout the novel drug use runs rampant. We are talking use of every kind of drug you can think of; it is casual use with no real purpose to the story. The drug use is such that every single character in the book casually uses drugs; it really gives the message that all young teens casually use drugs and I found it kind of disturbing. Which leads to the problem of the casual sexuality in this book too. I am all for liberal sex (big fan of the Anita Blake books here); but when you have young adults having loads of casual sex among themselves, trying to seduce teachers, and descriptions of casual sex between senior citizens...it was all just a bit weird for me. I would have been uncomfortable reading this as a "young adult".

Now let's briefly discuss Sin and Dice's "relationship". There is no relationship. Dice loves Sin (for no reason) and Sin constantly abuses her emotionally and occasionally physically. Still somehow Dice and Sin are supposed to be the ultimate star-crossed couple...ummm no, they are just dysfunctional. I found many of the characters' relationships with each other to be equally disturbing and unhealthy. I also never really got the point of the story.

Some of the above could be excused if the story was fast-paced, engaging, or fun to read. Unfortunately it is none of those. I had a lot of trouble getting through the book; believe it or not all of the sex and drug use was so prevalent it got very boring to read about. The whole time I read this book I was just counting down the pages, hoping that soon I would get to the end of it.

I usually try to find something positive to say about a book; but seriously I did not like this book and I have nothing positive to say about it.

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins (4/5 stars)

The third book in the Underland Chronicles is one of the better ones so far in this series.

Gregor is called back down to the Underland when a horrible plague breaks out among the Underlanders. Upon arrival in the Underland Gregor finds himself swept up in yet another prophecy; The Prophecy of the Blood. Can Gregor and others find the cure for the plague in time? Or will all of the warmbloods be destroyed?

This was a quick read and a fast-paced novel. I continually find the presence of Boots as the two-year-old Princess of the crawlers (as I have a two year old son, I find that Boots' character is spot on). Gregor grows quite a bit as a character in this novel as do the people he travels with. There is a lot to wrench your heart in this novel and a lot of hope too. All of my favorite characters rejoined and it was nice to see Gregor's mom play a larger role in this book. There is also a ton of action and some great new characters that make an entrance.

I thought this was a really good book in this series. It made me really look forward to the next book in the series. I also think when my son gets a bit older these would be great books for us to read together.

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn (3/5 stars)

This is book 5 in the Kitty Norville series. It was definitely not a strong book in this series. The book really spent more time kind of setting up a new story.

In this book Kitty and Ben decide to go to Las Vegas to get married. Only things start to get complicated. Kitty's boss talks her into doing a televised version of her radio show while she's in Vegas and Rick asks Kitty to deliver a note to the Master vampire of Las Vegas. Things begin to fall apart when Kitty finds out about the local Las Vegas pack and stumbles upon new types of magic and a secret that the local vampires have been keeping under wraps.

This was an okay book in the series. I felt like Kitty spent a lot of time running around sticking her nose in where she shouldn't and in general not really accomplishing anything. It was a bit frustrating to watch Kitty not have a clue what she was doing. She even had trouble getting guests for her radio show. In general the pace of this book was a bit frantic and not in a griping and engaging sort of way. There is also a large shortage of action scenes; I think there is one action scene in the whole darn book...maybe two.

None of the characters were really developed any further. A lot of main characters from the previous books are conspicuously absent for most of this book. Even Ben is only actually present for a very brief amount of time. Overall it seemed like the sole purpose of this book was to introduce some new characters and set up some big events for the next book; so let's hope the next book is better.

Which leads me to the positive points of this book; it wasn't a total loss. Balthasar and Odysseus Grant are amazing characters. New and interesting magic elements move throughout the story. The book is a quick and still fun read. It is somewhat engaging. This is an okay book about Kitty; just don't get too excited about it. See it as a necessary read to continue on in the series and hope that the 6th book is awesome.