Friday, April 30, 2010

April 2010 - In Review

This month I read 24 books.  It was a great month for reading, I gave out a lot of 5 star reviews.  There were just so many wonderful books that I read this month.  I also started my first book giveaway contest which you can find the link to here.

I caught up on the following series;
- Georgina Kincaid Book 5, Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead
- Theatre Illuminata Book 2, Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev
- The Dresden Files Book 12, Changes by Jim Butcher
- The Iron Fey Trilogy Book 2,  Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
- The Parasol Protectorate Book 2,  Changeless by Gail Carriger

I started the following series:
- The Iron Fey Trilogy Book 1, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
- The Curse Workers, White Cat by Holly Black

I finished the following series:
- Jig the Goblin by Jim C. Hines

My Favorite Books of the Month Were:
Goblin War (Jig the Goblin, Book 3) by Jim C. Hines (5/5 stars)
Succubus Shadows (Georgina Kincaid, Book 5) by Richelle Mead (5/5 stars)
The Iron King (Iron Fey Trilogy, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa (5/5 stars)
Changes (The Dresden Files, Book 12) by Jim Butcher (5/5 stars)
Boneshaker by Kate Milford (5/5 stars)
Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews (5/5 stars)
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (5/5 stars)

I  read a couple disappointing books this month that I just couldn't get into:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2.5/5 stars)
Heartless (Tales of the Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (2.5/5 stars)

Here are the stats on the reading challenges I am participating in:
- Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge: 11/12 read
- Debut Author Reading Challenge: 9/12 read
- Young Adult Reading Challenge: 32/50 read
- Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge: Complete!
- GLBT Reading Challenge: 2/4 read
- 100+ Book Reading Challenge: 78/100 read
- 1st in a Series Challenge: 16/20 read

Below is the full list of books that I read this month :-)  Hope you all had a great month of reading too!
1.  Goblin War (Jig the Goblin, Book 3) by Jim C. Hines (5/5 stars)
2.  Voice of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn (4/5 stars)
3.  Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (4/5 stars)
4.  Horror, Humor, and Heroes by Jim Bernheimer (4.5/5 stars)
5.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2.5/5 stars)
6.  Succubus Shadows (Georgina Kincaid, Book 5) by Richelle Mead (5/5 stars)
7.  Perchance to Dream (Theatre Illuminata, Book 2) by Lisa Mantchev (4/5 stars)
8.  The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 by Mike Neal (4/5 stars)
9.  The Iron King (Iron Fey Trilogy, Book 1) by Julie Kagawa (5/5 stars)
10. Heartless (Tales of the Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (2.5/5 stars)
11. Boneshaker by Kate Milford (5/5 stars)
12. Changes (The Dresden Files, Book 12) by Jim Butcher (5/5 stars)
13. White Cat (The Curse Workers, Book 1) by Holly Black (3/5 stars)
14. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (3/5 stars)
15. The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling (4/5 stars)
16. Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman by Jim Bernheimer (4/5 stars)
17. Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, Book 2) by Julie Kagawa (4.5/5 stars)
18. Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews (5/5 stars)
19. Changeless (Parasole Protectorate, Book 2) by Gail Carriger (4/5 stars)
20. Twice as Hot (Tale of an Extraordinary Girl, Book 2) by Gena Showalter (4/5 stars)
21. The Light (Morpheus Road, Book 1) by D.J. Hale (3/5 stars)
22. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (4/5 stars)
23. Stopping Time by Melissa Marr (3/5 stars)
24. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (5/5 stars)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Epic Review - Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (5/5 stars)

I read Warbreaker by Sanderson and absolutely loved it.  Then I immediately acquired Elantris as well as Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy because I wanted to read more Sanderson.  This was a great book and I am so glad that I read it.

The story is told from the viewpoint of three different characters.  Riorden is the Crown Prince of Arelon and is struck down by the curse of Elantris and thrown into that city to rot with the other Elantrans.  Princess Sarene of Teod finds out about Riorden's death on her way to marry him; because of the contract she is considered married even if the other party should die until Riorden's father is no longer ruling.   The third viewpoint is from Hrathen, a leader of the Shu-Dereth faith, who is under a deadline to convert Arelon to the Shu-Dereth religion.  These three characters maneuver deftly through complex politics in an effort to save Arelon, the people and themselves.  Along the way the secret of Elantris is discovered.

Sanderson is an exceptionally story teller; and he really excels at these complex epic fantasies.  My biggest complaints about some epic fantasies are there are too many people to remember, the plot is too complex to remember, the magic system is confusing, and relationships between the characters are unbelievably dry.  Sanderson never runs into these problems; he introduces the people in a way that makes them easy to remember...never once was I confused about who was who.  The magic system is explained very well without getting preachy; we discover it along with the characters.  The plot is very complex and full of intrigue but Sanderson maneuvers through it with such grace you never have trouble following what is going on.

Most importantly Sanderson's characters have heart.  At times they may be a little too perfect, but that just endears them to you more.  I always thought that the Lord of the Rings could have done better with a little more emotion and love between the characters, same with the Wheel of Time series.  I love both of these series dearly, don't get me wrong.  Sanderson just gives his characters a penchant for nobility and love that makes them so interesting to read about.  There is also some humor thrown in now and then which made this book more fun to read than your typical epic fantasy. 

I loved that the story was so complete and that it fit into one book, instead of twelve 800 page books.  I am impressed with the intelligence behind the plot, the serious moral issues discussed, the humor, the love, the magic...just everything.  This book is much like Warbreaker in that is it more about political intrigue than about massive battles.

Overall I loved this book.  Now I am ready to read the Mistborn trilogy.  I also have his Stormlight series on my list to get when it is released.  If you love epic fantasy, intrigue, and magic with a touch of romance you will love this book.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review - Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (4/5 stars)

I listened to this book on audio book; the audio book was really well done with each story being read by a different person who really fit the character.  I picked this book up because I had heard such wonderful things about it. It was a very interesting book and overall I enjoyed it.

The book is basically broken down into a series of short stories about different people living in New York City in the 70's.  In between stories there are interludes about a tight rope walker who walks between the world trade center towers.  In the end all of the stories and characters are tied together in some way.

The book starts out a bit slow; depicting the early life of a pair of Irish brothers and telling about how they ended up in New York City.   One of the brothers is looking for the meaning of God in the derelicts of New York.   Then there is a story told from the point of a old woman who lost her son in Vietnam.  The next story is told by one of the hookers the Irish brother tries to help.  Then a story about a young hacker who hacks into phones near the World Trade Center during the tightrope walk.  Next a story from the mother of the hooker who the Irish brother helped.  Then a story from a judge's point of view, he is the husband of the woman who lost his son in Vietnam.  This is just an example of the first few get the point.  There are nine stories in total, they are interrupted by interludes about the tight rope walker.

McCann does a great job creating believable characters that, while not very likable at times, are easy to sympathize with.  All of the characters are very human.  There is some plot as the stories of all the individuals interconnect and culminate in an interesting ending.  I wouldn't say the book is really plot driven though, it is more about taking glimpses into the lives of ordinary people and what makes them make the decisions they make.  McCann goes into deep descriptions so that you can easily visualize the settings and there is a lot of internal dialogue from the characters telling the story.  This is definitely not an action driven book but more of a slow paced mystery of sorts and a story of the social picture in New York at the current time frame.

The title of the book basically tells you the point of the story: no matter what happens history repeats itself and people's lives go on.

One of my biggest gripes about the book is that it moves at a very deliberate pace.  People who are into action or plot driven stories should skip this one.  If you are interesting in society and history, or about the ordinary man's story than you will enjoy this book.  The other thing that bothered me was how unresolved the ending was.  I was expecting something awesome and the book just kind of ends at the middle of a scene...I suppose this does depict life but I don't really like my stories to end this way.

Overall I liked the book.  It was well done and gave an interesting look into the New York City of the 1970's.  The characters were well done and believable; listening to this on audio book with the different speakers was awesome.  The pace of the book is pretty slow and the ending very open, which were the only negatives to it.   This book is for people interested in the human condition and history.  Action fans or mystery fans shouldn't expect much of either here.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Let the Great World Spin: A Novel 

Waiting on Wednesday - 4/28

Okay "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

My WOW book for this week is "Blameless" (The Parasol Protectorate, Book 3) by Gail Carriger.   For anyone who hasn't read this series, you should.  It is a wonderful mix of victorian, steampunk, paranormal, fantasy, and humor.  I've read "Souless" and "Changeless" and they were both excellent.  "Changeless" really leaves you hanging though, and I am desperate to read the third book "Blameless".   See below for cover and synopsis.

Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate) 
Synopsis From "Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review - The Light (Morpheus Road, Book 1) by D.J. MacHale (3/5 stars)

I got this book through Traveling ARC Tours; thanks to them for letting me be on the tour.  This is the first book I have read by Hale, and though I am not normally a horror read, the premise sounded interesting and I loved the cover.  This is the first book in the Morpheus trilogy. 

Marshall Seaver is looking forward to a great summer, but then things start to go wrong.  His dad has to go out of town to Las Vegas and his best friend is being shipped off to the family cabin.  Then Seaver, in a fit of anger, breaks a golden ball that is a memento from his deceased mother and things start to get creepy.  Marshall is being haunted and he keeps running into the image of Gravedigger, a graphic novel character that he created.  He needs to figure out what is going on before people start dying.

This book is definitely more of a creepy psychological thriller than a gore fest.  I am a person who is easily scared and I found many parts of this book to be incredibly scary.  I know it is aimed at young adults, but if you have an active imagination I would read it when there are other people around and it is light outside.  Really it did freak me out.  There are some mystery elements to the story as well, Marshall's spends a lot of time trying to piece together various pieces of evidence as he searches for his best friend.  There are also some gross parts; the characters drowning in a boat shed full of blood comes to mind.  The book in general is very reminiscent of your typical teenage horror film.

The book takes a while to get going, it plods slowly ahead with a couple creepy scenes here and there.  Then in the last third of the book things really pick up.  When all was said and done I wish that Hale had gotten through the beginning of the story quicker and spent more time dealing with all the supernatural strangeness surrounding Gravedigger and the Morpheus Road.

I didn't like any of the characters all that much.  Marshall is okay, but I didn't find him particularly engaging.  Sydney is an ice-queen and, though her character thaws a bit as the novel progresses, I still never liked her all that much.

The supernatural surrounding this story is never really all that well defined.  You can't tell if Gravedigger is an anomaly or part of a more world-wide problem.  The story itself is summed up completely, but there are some story threads introduced at the end that promise to be interesting in future books.

Overall I thought the story was okay.  I am not a big horror fan though so it was a bit too scary for me.  The idea behind the Morpheus Road is intriguing but not very well detailed in this story.  The characters were so-so and the story starts out slow.  I am interested to see what the second book in the series brings, but I will probably wait to see what other people say about it before I commit to reading it.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- 1st in a Series Reading Challenge
- Thiller and Suspense Challenge
The Light (Morpheus Road) 

Teaser Tuesday - 4/27

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my teaser comes from "The Light" (Morpheus Road, Book 1) by D. J. MacHale.
The Light (Morpheus Road)
Here it is: "I kept looking over my shoulder, hoping the guy in the red jacket wasn't following me.  I made it back to Main Street with nothing more to show for my efforts than a stitch in my side and another piece of a confused puzzle." Pg. 133

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review - Twice as Hot (Tales of an Extrordinary Girl, Book 2) by Gena Showalter

This is the sequel to Playing with Fire.  It was a good book and lots of fun to read.  If you liked the first book you will like this book even more!  This is a light-hearted book not meant to be taken all that seriously.

Belle is finally getting her life together.  She has a great job as a paranormal investigator, her superpowers are under control...kind of, and she is planning her wedding to Rome Masters (the super hottie she meet in the first book).  Then everything goes wrong Rome gets attacked by Memory Man and has all his memories of Belle stolen and Rome's exwife is feeding Rome lies to turn Rome against Belle.  Memory Man has disappeared and seems to involved with super-villain Desert Girl.  If Belle wants to salvage her relationship with Rome, first she will have to track down Memory Man and save the world from Desert Girl.

If you liked the first book in this series you will like this book.  This was a fun and fast-paced read.  You are really pulling for Belle as she struggles to deal with Rome's evil ex-wife.  Tanner is a lot of fun and you see more of Cody (the lightening wiedling superhero) than before.  The plot is well done and the book is very readable and engaging.

Belle does a better job of holding her own in this story than in the previous book.  You also get to see a bit more superhero butt kicking than in the first book.  There still is a lot of sex and talking about sex and this book is definitely more on the romance side of paranormal romance.  Still it is all in good fun and leaves you feeling happy at the end :-)

At times Belle is still a bit immature and needy; especially in the beginning of the book.  She does manage to pull herself together though and redeems herself in the end.  Also it was a bit corny how everyone was grouped into happy couples at the end; definitely a fairy tale romance type of book.  The tone of the book reminds me a lot of the Aisling Grey series.

Overall a great fun summer read and a feel good novel.  Just beware this is more romance than urban fantasy.  Belle isn't my favorite heroine, but she's alright and she's fun to read about.  I hope that Showalter does more books in this world.  So, far this is my favorite series by Showalter.

This book goes towards the following challenges;
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Twice as Hot (Hqn) 

Novella Review - Stopping Time (Parts 1 and 2) by Melissa Marr (3/5 stars)

I picked this up as a freebie on my Amazon Kindle. You can't argue with the price. It is the story about what happens between Leslie, Niall, and Irial after the events that occur in "Ink Exchange". The story is so-so. Not a horrible read but nothing to write home about.

Part 1 is a total cliffhanger, so download Part 2 at the same time so you can read it right away. It's a very quick read; Part 1 takes maybe 20 minutes to read and Part 2 another 20 minutes or so.

Overall, it was something to read. I didn't hate it, but I didn't enjoy it that much either. So it gets an okay from me. The plot was predictable and the writing quality was standard for Marr.

If you are really attached to Leslie and want to know more about her and her boys go ahead and pick up the story to read. Just don't expect anything earth-shattering.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review - Changeless (Parasole Protectorate, Book 2) by Gail Carriger (4/5 stars)

I was really excited to read this book because I loved the first book "Soulless" so much.  This was a wonderful addition to the series; great humor, some romance, lots of adventure.  I really enjoyed it; except for the ending.

Alexia is awakened when her husband is summoned away for an emergency in the middle of the afternoon (nighttime for those of us non-paranormal beings).  Something has turned all of the supernatural creatures mortal and Queen Victoria is not happy.  It is up to Alexia to figure out what happened and what secrets her husband is keeping from her.

There were a lot of things I loved about this book. The action scenes are well done, the plot moves along quickly, and there is a dry cutting sense of humor throughout the book.  The writing style is easy to read and engaging.  Carriger introduces some wonderful new characters: mainly Madame Lefoux.  I loved that so many steampunk elements were attached to this story.  The descriptions of Madame Lefoux's inventions and how they worked was fascinating.  I also enjoyed the dirigible journey the characters went on.  Alexia's upgraded parasol was wonderful too and made for some fun elements to the story.

There were some things I did not like about this book.  Ivy Hisselpenny was so ridiculous at times that it went past humor and into just plain annoying.  Alexia and Conall sneak around behind each other a lot, sure there are some steamy scenes between this husband and wife pair, but mostly they are just sneaking around plotting behind each other's backs..which is not the great relationship I had hoped for.  Then there is the ending.  The ending was abrupt and an absolute cliffhanger.  I abhor cliffhanger endings.  Carriger is a skilled enough author that I like reading her books, I don't need to be forced into reading the next one by a cliffhanger ending.  Conall's reaction at the ending is absolutely uncalled for as well and kind of came out of nowhere.

Overall I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to reading the third book "Blameless".  I was disappointed in some aspects of Conall's and Alexia's relationship and I was extremely disappointed in the ending.  Other than that, this was an excellent read.  Those who love Jane Austen style humor, steampunk, or just loved the first book "Soulless" should definitely check this book out.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate) 

Novella Review - Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews (5/5 stars)

This is a novella that I picked up for my Kindle.  It is set in a sci-fi world, different from any of Ilona's previous books.  It is also more of a romance than either of her other series.

Meli has retired from her work as an energy wielding assassin.  Then her Family asks one more thing of assassinate the man that ruined her life.  The story is set in a futuristic world where Mafia-like families maintain order and humans have been biological engineered to be exceptional.

This isn't a long book, it's a novella.  Despite this fact Andrews does an excellent job creating a believable world and engaging characters.  She give the characters wonderful history and wonderful chemistry.  The writing, as usual, is incredibly engaging and a joy to read. 

There is some action in this book, but it is mostly a story of two characters at odds with their worlds.  The romance aspect is much stronger in this story than in other books from Andrews, and the sex scenes much more explicit.  I am not huge on romance and prefer action, but I really enjoyed reading this book.  I fell in love with the characters and was on the edge of my set just hoping for a happy ending.

The story ends well too.  This is a very interested world and I hope we get to see more stories set here.

Pick this up if you get a chance, it is well worth the $2.00 it costs on Amazon.  Even if you don't have a Kindle you can read it on your computer.  It will be a story you are sure to enjoy.

Mailbox Monday - 4/26

Mailbox Monday can be found at: The Printed Page

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. 

I was pretty light on getting books this week.  I really am trying to make an effort to read through the 180 so that I have to read.  So, I only got three books.

The first one I got through's Early Reviewer program and that was "Shapeshifter" by Holly Bennett.  The second book I got from Traveling ARC Tours and that one is the first book of The Morpheus Trilogy called "The Light" by D. J. MacHale.  The last book was a Kindle book that I picked up for free on Amazon called "Regina in the Sun" (Children of the Goddess, Book 1) by R. G. Alexander.

Check out more details on these books below!  Hope you all have a great week of reading :-)

The Light (Morpheus Road, Book 1) by D. J. MacHale
The Light (Morpheus Road)
First Sentence: "I believe in ghosts."
"#1 NYT bestselling author D.J. MacHale's Morpheus Road trilogy brings readers down an ethereal pathway between the worlds of the living and dead."

Shapeshifter by Holly Bennett
First Sentence: "She woke in the early dawn, the light still only a promise in the dissolving darkness.
"A woman trapped in the body of a deer.  A dark sorcerer in relentless pursuit.  A mysterious child, found along on the slopes of a great mountain.  Set in the wild, magical landscape of iron-age Ireland, Shapeshifer is a tale a rapacious evil, quiet courage and the healing power of love."


Regina in the Sun: Children of the Goddess Book 1 (Kindle Edition)by R. G. Alexander

Regina in the Sun (Children of the Goddess)
First Sentence: "She was going to die."
"There's only one place left to run-into forbidden arms. Children of the Goddess Book 1 Children of the Goddess Book One When she arrives at Ye Olde Haven Pub, the sanctuary for Trueblood Vampires, Regina is wounded and desperate. Her only thought is to save the Deva Clan, her family, from the dangerous Loups De L'Ombre, the Shadow Wolves. She knows she will not exactly be welcomed with open arms. She is, after all, an Unborn, the lowest caste of Vampire.
As a natural born from the purest line, Zander Sariel knows the rules are sacrosanct-a Trueblood mates with his own kind. But one taste of the young Unborn is all Zander needs to know that rules were made to be broken.
With enemies at every turn, Zander risks everything to save Regina from the monster that hunts her, his own kind's ignorance and-if he must-her lack of faith in her own unique abilities.
Only together do they have a chance to defeat the shadow that haunts their future, and save their entire race from extinction."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review - Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, Book 2) by Julie Kagawa (4.5/5 stars)

This was the second book in the Iron Fey trilogy.  I got it as a digital galley from the publisher.  It was a great book and a wonderful continuation of the series.  The third (and final) book in the series "The Iron Queen" is expected to be released in early 2011.

Meghan is fulfilling her promise to reside in Mab's court.  Robin is still recovering from his wounds from last time.  Meghan sees Ash infrequently and when she does he is very cold towards her.  Then everything is shaken up when the Iron Fey steal the Scepter of the Seasons, throwing the courts into chaos and threatening the human world as well.  Meghan, Robin, Ash, and Grimalkin must track down the Scepter and return it to Mab before the whole human world is thrown into unnatural and chaotic weather.

This was a wonderful book.  It starts out a bit slower than the first book did.  Meghan spends some time whining about how horrible the Unseelie court is and how she can't understand Ash's coolness towards her.  After that though the story quickly picks up and starts going forward at a crazy fast pace.  Then Meghan spends more time holding her own and really starts to prove herself.

As in the first book, Kagawa does an excellent job with characterization.  All of my favorite characters were back including Grimalkin, Robin, and Ash.  There were even more fascinating characters introduced; one of my favorite new characters was Leanesidhe, Queen of the Between.   All of the characters are very likable; Kigawa just does an excellent job with them.

I loved that Meghan is developing new and interesting powers.  I also continued to enjoy the traditional fae having to pit themselves against the new Iron Fey.  Action scenes were well done too.  The writing style if very readable and straight-forward I really enjoyed it.

This book does a good job of wrapping up the main storyline but leaves you desperate to know how Meghan's journey will continue.

Overall a great book.  A bit slower start than the first book, but in the end it picks up and is interesting.  Creative, interesting and fast-paced; this is a very engaging book and is an excellent addition to the series.  If you liked the first book you will like this one too.  I've been impressed with Kagawa's writing and have really enjoyed this YA fairy series.

This book goes towards the following challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - 4/21

Okay "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

I seem to be stuck on anthologies.  So, this week my WoW books is "Songs of Love and Death" edited by Gardner Dozois, George R. R. Martin.  This book includes stories from a wonderful collection of authors.  See synopsis below for details.

Songs of Love and Death edited by Gardner Dozois, George R. R. Martin.
Pages: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: November 16th, 2010

Synopsis from  
A groundbreaking anthology of fantasy and romance from bestselling authors in both genres, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.
Includes stories from:
-Jim Butcher, “Love Hurts” (a Harry Dresden story)
-Jo Beverly, “The Marrying Maid”
-Carrie Vaughn, “Rooftops”
-M.L.N. Hanover, “Hurt Me”
-Cecelia Holland, “Demon Lover”
-Melinda M. Snodgrass, “The Wayfarer’s Advice” (an Imperials story)
-Robin Hobb, “Blue Boots”
-Neil Gaiman, “The Thing About Cassandra”
-Marjorie M. Liu, “After the Blood”
-Jacqueline Carey, “You and You Alone” (a Kushiel story)
-Lisa Tuttle, “His Wolf”
-Linnea Sinclair, “Courting Trouble”
-Mary Jo Putney, “The Demon Dancer”
-Tanith Lee, “Under/Above the Water”
-Peter S. Beagle, “Kashkia”
-Yasmine Galenorn, “Man in the Mirror”
-Diana Gabaldon, “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” (an OUTLANDER spinoff) 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review - Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman by Jim Bernheimer (4/5 stars)

I got this book from the author in exchange for an honest review :-)   I really enjoyed it a lot; it's a great paranormal ghost action story that is fast paced and creative. 

Mike Ross returned from fighting in Iraq less an eye and with some hearing loss.  His eye is replaced with a donor eye upon his return home.  There is only one thing wrong, now he is seeing ghosts with his new eye.  As if life for a recuperating vet wasn't tough enough, now Mike's got ghosts hunting him down because they want him.  Apparently Mike is a rare type of person called a Ferryman; a Ferryman hasn't existed in the States for over a century and he is plunged into the dangerous world of ghostly politics.

This was a really good book.  The book is broken into thirteen episodes.  Initially each episode deals with Mike solving a ghostly mystery and the episodes are somewhat contained.  As the story continues there begins to be more of an over-arcing story that ties everything together.  The book is nicely wrapped up but has a couple loose threads that need to be answered in another novel.

In the beginning the writing is a bit rough and the characters a bit over-characterized, but after the first couple episodes Bernheimer really hits his stride.  Mike isn't the most likable character; he is crass, prone to anger, and in some ways your typical ex-army guy, yet Bernheimer gives Mike a noble streak that makes Mike likable and real.

The idea of Mike seeing the dead with his implanted eye and the whole way Mike interacts with the ghost-world was very well done and creative.  I really enjoyed learning about it.  Again, Bernheimer does a great job of making Mike's interaction with the dead reasonable and believable.  The plot is non-stop and propels the reader forward making the book hard to put down and the action scenes are really well done.  Bernheimer does a great job throwing in some dry humor to keep things from getting too serious.

I have a couple small complaints; Berheimer's characterization of women is a bit rough at times.  Most of the female characters are annoying as all get out and a bit cliched.  This was something that got better as the book continued.  The female characters introduced later in the novel were more reasonable and interesting.  Bernheimer did do an excellent job characterizing the male characters.  Also in the beginning of the book I thought some of the language felt a bit forced and the characters were a little over done; this is also something the went away after the first couple chapters.

Overall this was a great read and a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed Bernheimer's take on ghosts and interactions with them.  I think this is a start to a wonderful new series and really look forward to reading the next book in this series.  Bernheimer is definitely a writer to keep an eye on; he has some great ideas and a fun writing style to read.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- 1st in a Series Reading Challenge
- Thiller and Suspense Challenge

Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman 

Teaser Tuesday - 4/20

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This weeks teaser comes from "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Treasure Island (Puffin Classics)
Here it is: "Not a soul was to be seen.  The planks, which had not been swabbed since the mutiny, bore the print of many feet, and an empty bottle, broken by the neck, tumbled to and fro like a live thing in the scuppers." Pg. 137

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review - The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling (4/5 stars)

I got this book as part of a clearance bundle at Half Price Books.  This is a short kid's book (beginning chapter book) that tackles the evils of candy and the results of selfish behavior.  It was a fun read and I liked it.  It is suitable for kids of all ages and adults will find it amusing too.

John loves candy, especially chocolate.  He loves it to the point where his parents are getting concerned and are trying to get him to give up his candy habits.  Then one day John finds a strange coin and stumbles upon a strange candy shop.  The coin buys him a box of chocolates.  When he opens that box it is not what he expected.  Now everything tastes like chocolate and his affliction (at first a blessing) seems to be getting out of control.

This was a cute story with good illustrations.  It is pretty short for a novel, as an adult it took me maybe 15 minutes to read it.  The idea of everything tasting like chocolate and turning into chocolate is amusing and good for a few laughs.  Overall a great retelling of the King Midas story that kids should be able to relate to well.  The writing was straight forward and easy to read, very appropriate for the age group it was written for.

The book also teaches a good lesson about moderating the amount of candy you eat, not being greedy, and not being selfish.  This was a fun book that I will be keeping around to read to my son when he gets older (he is only three now).

The Chocolate Touch

Classic Review - Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (3/5 stars)

I have tried to read Treasure Island numerous times.  A couple times when I was younger and once as an adult.  Every time I found it to be a bit boring and ended up not finishing it.  This time I was determined to make it through it.  I made it, and the book was okay but I think compared to modern day adventures the adventure in this book was pretty tame.  I read this on my Amazon Kindle

I think everyone knows the basic story.  A young boy and some companions form a company of sailors and take off to find buried treasure on Treasure Island.  Ends up part of the company are pirates and mutiny upon landing at the Island.  Struggles on Treasure Island commence between the loyal sailors and the pirates.

The writing style of this novel has definitely aged with time.  It isn't horrible to get through; it's pretty readable and the beginning of the story really grabbed my interest.  As time goes on though the story gets bogged down with description and predictability.  This isn't a story where characterization or action scenes are a strong point.  It is an excellent adventure in the sense that they end up on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere; the struggles they face though are more related to dealing with the pirates than dealing with any trouble the Island throws at them.

Maybe this story is just too well known, but for some reason I found it very predictable and this made getting through the lengthy descriptions even tougher.  This book does do a wonderful job describing pirates and personifying their characters, but it isn't much fun.

I think younger readers will find the story tedious and boring, they may also struggle with the stilted language.  Older readers may appreciate the lush descriptions, but will ultimately find the action scenes lacking and the adventure to be not quite as adventurous as in modern day works.

Overall an okay novel.  Not as exciting and engaging as I had hoped for.  Now I can say I read it and move on.  I don't know that this is one I will read to my son when he gets older, I think it would bore him.  When compared to other classic novels I have read this year, this was my least favorite.  I found both "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "Pride and Prejudice" to be more engaging and interesting.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Treasure Island (Puffin Classics) 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday - 4/19

Mailbox Monday can be found at: The Printed Page

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. 

I only acquired one paper book this week and that  was "Underkingdom: Disco Goblins vs the Machine" by Jonathan Culverhouse.  I received this book directly from the author, so thanks to Culverhouse for sending it.

The rest of the books I got were e-books.  I downloaded a whole bunch of free classics to my Kindle consisting of: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Phantom of the Opera, Anarine Karenina, Great Expectations, and The War or the Worlds.  Then I also purchased a large variety of either free or $0.99 books that looked very interesting to me.

More information on all of the books can be found below.  Hope that you all have a great week of reading.

Underkingdom: Disco Goblins vs the Machine by Jonathan Culverhouse
Underkingdom: Disco Goblins vs The Machine (Volume 1)  
First Sentence: "Something that looked almost exactly like the Klamp family cat crept in with the early morning mist."
"An unexpected school trip leads Angelica into the strange and dangerous Underkingdom, where she meets a timid goblin whose passion for all things human includes 1970's disco music and Earl Grey tea. How will this unlikely hero help her to defeat a ruthless king, rescue Angelica's schoolmates before they become the filling in a giant pie, and stop a monstrous war machine, which rises from the earth taking the heart of central London with it? The answers lay somewhere inside Underkingdom: Disco Goblins vs The Machine. A light-hearted novel which should appeal to young adults and grown-ups who enjoy reading children's fiction."

Wistril Compleat by Frank Tuttle
Wistril Compleat 
First Sentence: "The torches hurled on the tiny inn's wood-shingled roof, which should have touched off an inferno with the first lick of flame, merely guttered and went out."
"All three of Wistril's magical misadventures are included in this complete compilation of cantrips and catastrophes!

Wistril Besieged --
Wizard Wistril's wants are simple -- four meals a day, a steady supply of honey-gold Upland beer, and above all else, peace and quiet.
All but the latter are in plentiful supply at Castle Kauph. Despite secreting himself in the Wild, Wistril finds himself battling an army of relentless mercenaries while the entire population of the nearest village takes refuge in his home. Even Kern, Wistril's long-suffering, sharp-tongued apprentice, isn't sure whether the army or the houseguests will prove to be Wistril's undoing!

Wistril Afloat --
Wistril doesn't believe in lake monsters -- until they invade the lake that just happens to provide Wistril's favorite fish dinners. Faced with the choice of adjusting his menus or daring the wilderness around Lake Ovinshoon, Wistril and Kern soon have bigger problems than mere lake monsters on their hands.
Because while Wistril wishes only to study the beasts, others wish to hunt them and skin them. Will Wistril's peaceful White Chair magics prevail against a ruthless band of wyvern-hunters who have only profit on their minds?

Wistril Betrothed --
If ever there was a determined bachelor, thought Kern, his name was surely Wistril.
So when Wistril's wife-to-be shows up with a pursuing army on her heels, life at Castle Kauph is turned upside down. And when another suitor for Lady Emmerbee's hand arrives, with a dark and menacing wizard of his own in tow, it's up to Kern and the rest of Castle Kauph to get Wistril wed without losing his head!

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Curse  
First Sentence: "The prisoner stood with his hands tied in front of him, tired, beaten, and filthy, but with a proud back befitting his royal heritage."
"Kelsey Hayes was just a freshman in high school when her parents were killed in an automobile accident, sending her into the foster-care system. After graduation, she takes a job at a circus in Oregon to earn money for college. There, she becomes fascinated with the star attraction, a white tiger named Dhiren. When the tiger is sold to the mysterious Mr. Kadam, Kelsey is heartbroken—until Mr. Kadam offers her a job as Dhiren’s traveling companion. Because of her strong affection for the tiger, she agrees . When their truck is hijacked on a dirt road outside of Mumbai, Dhiren leads Kelsey deep into the jungle. There, he reveals his true nature: he is a three-hundred-fifty-year-old Indian prince, cursed by an ancient magician to live out eternity as a tiger. Young-adult readers will be enthralled by this mystical adventure story of a girl who risks her life to save the man she comes to love."

Sleepwalker: The Last Sandman by Brad Marlowe
First Sentence: "There were no shadows in the place some call Nod until the night he was created."
"A dark force is born from the uncommon imaginations of young Sean and Cole Golden, casting a cold shadow over Nod, the ever-changing land of dreams. When the malevolent entity abducts the Sandman, and then snatches its own creators from their cozy beds in an Iowa farmhouse, Jake (the boys’ cynical father) is forced to resurrect the imaginative child within in order to cross the adult-proof barrier that separates the real from the surreal. In Nod, a world literally made of our dreams, the younger Jake must rescue Sean, Cole, and the Sandman before the sleep-deprived citizens of the world burn everything to the ground.

Jake faces physical manifestations of all manner of dreams, including a treacherous money forest, Lost Lake (where mankind’s collected regrets churn beneath black waters), They and Them (monochromatic Siamese twins who are the architects of The Rules for accountants and elementary school teachers), The Tree of Hope, and Death himself—who turns out to be a pretty nice guy. But despite the wondrous locales and characters contained in the story, there is a current of authentic emotion tethering the whimsical fantasy elements to a credible reality like the string of a bright red balloon tied around a child's wrist.

SLEEPWALKER: THE LAST SANDMAN is a modern fantasy without wizards, faeries, dragons, or vampires. It is an exploration of the origin of dreams and the tale of a world-weary, brokenhearted father’s love for the sons he has neglected far too long. It is a fantastical journey through lost love and rediscovered hope that may lead to redemption—for one family, and the world entire."

Celia and the Fairies by Karen McQuestions
Celia and the Fairies 
First Sentence: "Every night after Celia was tucked into bed she tiptoed out of her room and sat quietly on the upstairs landing."
"When Celia Lovejoy’s parents announce that her grandmother is coming to live with them, Celia is delighted. Now while her parents work at their toy company, she can spend time with Grammy instead of going to bossy Paul’s house.
When her grandmother tells stories about the fairies living in the woods behind Celia’s house, her parents are quick to dismiss it. “Just a lot of nonsense,” says her father with a wave of his hand. Her mother reminds her that a ten-year-old girl is too old to believe in magic. But if there are no fairies, how to explain the glimmers of light she sees from her balcony at night? And why does she dream of a fairy girl begging for help? All of the answers are in the woods, if only Celia is brave enough to find out.
An engaging story sure to delight readers everywhere."

Bite Me by Parker Blue
Bite Me  
First Sentence: "The stench of rotting garbage filled my nostrils as I scoured the dark streets of San Antonio for something to take off the edge."
"An edgy book for teens that spans the gap between YA and adult fiction. Life after high school is tough enough without having to go 15 rounds with your inner demon. Val Shapiro is just your ordinary, part-demon, teenaged vampire hunter with a Texas drawl. And a pet hellhound named Fang. Soon enough she finds herself deep in the underbelly of the city, discovering the secrets of the Demon Underground and fighting to save those she loves. Whether they love her back or not. "

Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese
Mercury Falls  
First Sentence: "The Apocalypse has a way of fouling up one's plans."
"Years of covering the antics of End Times cults for The Banner, a religious news magazine, have left Christine Temetri not only jaded but seriously questioning her career choice.

That is, until she meets Mercury, an anti-establishment angel who’s frittering his time away whipping up batches of Rice Krispy Treats and perfecting his ping-pong backhand instead of doing his job: helping to orchestrate Armageddon. With the end near and angels and demons debating the finer political points of the Apocalypse, Christine and Mercury accidentally foil an attempt to assassinate one Karl Grissom, a thirty-seven-year-old film school dropout about to make his big break as the Antichrist.

Now, to save the world, she must negotiate the byzantine bureaucracies of Heaven and Hell and convince the apathetic Mercury to take a stand, all the while putting up with the obnoxious mouth-breathing Antichrist."