Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review - Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton (3/5 stars)

I got a digital copy of this book through NetGalley.  I had heard great things about this book and was excited to read it.  Overall it was an okay book; there is a bit too much information dumping in the beginning of the book but the second half is more engaging.

Teagan is just your normal girl working at an animal research facility when Finn Mac Cumhaill enters her life.  Finn is a homeless cousin that Teagan's parents agree to take care off.  With Finn's arrival things start going wrong.  Teagan is seeing shadows out of the corner of her eye, one of the animals she is caring for at work is mysteriously killed, her mom dies of some strange fit, and then to top it all off her dad disappears.  With things creeping in the shadows it ends up that it may be Finn who can actually save them all and Teagan may be part of a world that she never imagined existed.

The beginning of this story is filled with so many Celtic names and so much folklore that it is hard to keep all the mythological facts straight.  With all this knowledge being thrown at you, the beginning of the book felt almost more like a lecture than a story and I had a hard time getting into it.  Luckily the second half of the book was a more engaging.

At times the dialogue came off as a bit stiff sounding and a little unnatural; despite this Teagan, Aiden, and Finn are all interesting and likable characters.  I loved that Teagan was a practical, smart girl who didn't fall head over heels for Finn, but made her romance (or lack of) part of the background.  These characters are refreshing and the world Hamilton has built is intriguing.

I have some complaints though.  I was excited to read a story about goblins, well basically Hamilton hasn't created a story about goblins...this is a story about faerie where all the fairies are called goblins.  I know Hamilton was trying to stick with Irish myth and stuff, but this seems a bit misleading.  Also quite a bit of the beginning in the book is spent telling us about Teagan's job working with Cindy the chimp; they get back to this again at the end of the book but I am still not sure what the purpose of this was.  Maybe it was to show how Teagan got some passing medical knowledge?  It just took up a bit of page space and didn't seem relevant.

I loved Aiden's magical singing abilities and was intrigued by Finn's superhero like fighting capabilities...but I never could figure out what Teagan's purpose was.  She didn't seem to have any really special ability beyond the Sight.  It kind of seemed like she was there to direct traffic.  I would have liked to see her developed into a more interesting character that took a bigger lead in the events in the book.

Overall I thought it was an okay read.  The characters are likable, the world interesting.  The dialogue is a bit unnatural sounding and, while I liked the idea of basing the world in mythology, too much is thrown at the reader at the beginning of the novel and it makes the story flow poorly in the beginning.  Readers should enjoy Teagan as a teenage lead that thinks with her head not her heart and Finn is a wonderfully moral bad boy.  Will I be reading the rest of this series?  Probably not, the writing quality and pace of the book was just too uneven for me and Teagan didn't capture my heart as a heroine.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book 

Review - Rise of the Huntress (The Last Apprentice, Book 7) by Joseph Delaney (4/5 stars)

This is the seventh book in The Last Apprentice series by Delaney.  Originally the series was planned for seven books, but this book definitely isn't the last in the series.  I haven't been able to find an updated estimate of how many books this series will have.  This was another great addition to this series.

This book finds the Spook, Tom, and Alice back on their way to the Spook's house.  Things are getting worse on the war front, the enemies are invading further inland and when the Spook and crew arrive home they find the Spook's house burnt to the ground.  They end up fleeing to the island of Mona where they will find even more trouble than they left behind on the mainland.

This was another creepy, action packed installment in this series.  It is one of the darkest books of the series so far.  The Spook hits new lows with his house destroyed and his enemies stronger than he can handle; this results in Tom and Alice having to step up and take on more responsibilities.  Over everything you can feel the shadow of the Fiend; his presence on the earth is making humans act in more despicable ways than ever, making the war even more brutal than a war normally would be.

Tom and Alice continue to grow in complexity as characters; both of them are constantly toeing the line between good and evil and trying to stay in a happy grey-white area.  All of the characters are sent through horrible trials in this book and it really makes you feel for them.

Most of this book ends up being a fight between Bony Lizzie and the Spook and crew.  I can't help feeling like this book was just throwing in another adventure to stall for time while Delaney tries to figure out what to do with the over-arcing story involving the escape of the Fiend.  Things are getting worse and at some point the Fiend will have to be dealt with; I am hoping it doesn't get drawn out too long and is addressed in the next book.  There really isn't any resolution at all when it comes to the Fiend in this book.

Fans of previous novels should enjoy this book.  Although the story is darker, it is written in the same great style as previous novels and is very readable and engaging.  Quite the page-turner it was hard to put down.

Overall another excellent installment in this series.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series and hope that we finally get some resolution to the storyline about the Fiend.  I love this series, but it is starting to drag on a bit for me.

This book goes towards the following reading challenge:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
The Last Apprentice: Rise of the Huntress 

Blogfest is just around the corner!

This year I am participating in Blogfest!  It should be a lot of fun and I have some great giveaways planned!

I will be giving away different books each day of Blogfest!  So please stop by to see what all the fuss it about :-)

For more information on Blogfest 2010, please click on the picture below!

Blog Fest 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 3/31

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!

My teaser this week comes from Rise of the Huntress (The Last Apprentice, Book 7) by Joseph Delaney.  For those of you who haven't picked up this series it is a wonderful one.  Great storytelling and creepy in nice gothic way.

The Last Apprentice: Rise of the Huntress
Here it is: "A buggane is a demon that usually lurks near a ruin," the Spook began, "but it can roam quite a distance from this central point.  They're immune to salt and iron, which makes them hard to deal with- although they're vulnerable to a silver-alloy blade." Pg. 103

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review - Mockingjay (Hunger Games, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins (5/5 stars)

This is the third, and final, book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  If you read the first two books, you will read this one.  All I can say is to be prepared for one heck of a ride.  A lot happens in this book and Collins doesn't hold off on killing off a lot of people.

The book starts where Catching Fire left off.  Katniss is in District 13 with Gale, her mom, and her sister Prim.  The Rebel group based in District 13 is trying to get Katniss to take up the Mockingjay symbol and become the face of their revolution.  Katniss is unsure if she wants to go this route or not.  Peeta is still missing and presumed captured by President Snow and being held in the Capital.  Katniss's journey eventually leads to the capital itself and a final face-off with President Snow.

This is a hard book to review without spoilers but I will give it my best shot.  The pace of this book is relentless.  Collins does not pull punches when it comes to killing off large groups of people, as well as people we love and care about.  This is a dark book, and that is putting it mildly. 

As far as characterization goes we begin to see even more of what defines Katniss as a character; she is not sentimental, she is a survivor foremost and that it what sets her apart from others.  A lot of the decisions made by Katniss in this book are driven by that personality trait.  In fact at one point Gale and Peeta are discussing Katniss and who she will "choose".  Gale sums it up perfectly when he says something to the effect of "Katniss will choose whoever she can't survive without."

On to other characters.  The ruthlessness we saw in Gale at the end of the Catching Fire is built upon in this book.  Gale is ruthless and practical to the point of dislike at times.  He begins to look like a character that likes what Katniss stands for, rather than who she is.  At the end of book two I was Team Gale all the way.  I thought that Gale and Katniss had more in common in survival instincts and could pull off a good relationship based on those characteristics.  As this book starts and continues, we see a side of Gale that is more ruthless and dispassionate than ever before.

In order to avoid spoilers I won't say much about Peeta, except that he is back in the story for the second half of the book.

Collins does an excellent job at showing both sides of the story.  You get to see both the good the rebel forces do, and the harm they cause in rebelling against the Capital.  As Katniss and team enter the capital, Collins relates the Capital takeover as yet another type of dome just like previous "Hunger Games"  this is an interesting idea and ties the three novels together well.  In each of them we see our teams of characters struggling to stay alive, doing things no one should have to do.  In each book there are brutal deaths.

There's quite the twist at the end of this book.  People may be surprised at who Katniss kills.  All I have to say about this is that I was satisfied with the choice Katniss made, and had actually been hoping that Collins would have it play out that way.  Katniss's actions at the end seemed like the best way to follow Katniss's beliefs, while trying to ensure the best ending for humanity as a whole.

The epilogue was interesting.  It was kind of nice to get a definitive ending to everything that played out before.  It wrapped things up nicely. Still, I didn't think the epilogue was necessary and I think the book would have actually been a bit better and more thought-provoking without it.  As with the previous books the writing style of this book was incredibly readable and engaging; no matter people think of the plot, you have to admit Collins is one heck of a great writer.

Overall I thought this was an excellent conclusion to the series.  Readers may not like how some of things play-out; but I thought they played out realistically and I liked the decisions Katniss made at the end...I thought her decisions really stayed true to the core personality trait of her character, which was to survive.  I am eagerly awaiting whatever Collins comes up with next.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mailbox Monday - 3/30

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.

It was a great week for books again.  Another 10 books came into my house for me to read.

I got the latest Wheel of Time book The Gathering Storm through paperbackswap.com.  

I also bought Mockingjay the finale to the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, mainly because I wanted to read this right away!

I got a copy of The Way of Kings, the first book in Sanderson's new epic fantasy series from the publisher; thanks so much to Tor publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

I book two books through the Amazon Vine program; Plain Kate by Erin Bow and Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.

I also got Cornelia Funke's soon to be published novel Reckless, through Book it Forward Arc Tours.

Then I got two e-books from the author HP Mallory for review: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble and To Kill a Warlock.

Lastly I got two books from the library: Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1) by Jennifer Estep and Rise of the Huntress (The Last Apprentice, Book 7) by Joseph Delaney.

Please see below for more information on these books!  Hope you all have a great week of reading. 

The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time, Book 11) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time, Book 12) 
First Sentence: "Renald Fanwar sat on his porch, warming the sturdy blackoak chair crafted for him by his grandson two years before."
From Amazon.com: "Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, looms. And mankind is not ready.

The final volume of the Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light, was partially written by Robert Jordan before his untimely passing in 2007. Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn books, was chosen by Jordan’s editor---his wife, Harriet McDougal---to complete the final book. The scope and size of the volume was such that it could not be contained in a single book, and so Tor proudly presents The Gathering Storm as the first of three novels that will make up A Memory of Light. This short sequence will complete the struggle against the Shadow, bringing to a close a journey begun almost twenty years ago and marking the conclusion of the Wheel of Time, the preeminent fantasy epic of our era.

In this epic novel, Robert Jordan’s international bestselling series begins its dramatic conclusion. Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, struggles to unite a fractured network of kingdoms and alliances in preparation for the Last Battle. As he attempts to halt the Seanchan encroachment northward---wishing he could form at least a temporary truce with the invaders---his allies watch in terror the shadow that seems to be growing within the heart of the Dragon Reborn himself.

Egwene al’Vere, the Amyrlin Seat of the rebel Aes Sedai, is a captive of the White Tower and subject to the whims of their tyrannical leader. As days tick toward the Seanchan attack she knows is imminent, Egwene works to hold together the disparate factions of Aes Sedai while providing leadership in the face of increasing uncertainty and despair. Her fight will prove the mettle of the Aes Sedai, and her conflict will decide the future of the White Tower---and possibly the world itself.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow."

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The) 
First Sentence: "Kalak rounded a rocky stone ridge and stumbled to a stop before the body of a dying thunderclast."
From Amazon.com: "Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making."

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

First Sentence: "I'd always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden."
From Amazon.com: "Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?"

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate 
First Sentence: "A long time ago, in a market town by a looping river, there lived an orphan girl called Plain Kate."
From Amazon.com: "Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed."

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) 
First Sentence: "I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather."
From Amazon.com: "Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year."

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

First Sentence: "The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal."

From Amazon.com: "Beyond the mirror, the darkest fairy tales come alive. . . .For years, Jacob Reckless has enjoyed the Mirrorworld's secrets and treasures.  Not anymore.  His younger brother has followed him.  Now dark magic will turn the boy to beast, break the heart of the girl he loves, and destroy everything Jacob holds most dear. . . .Unless he can find a way to stop it.  If you're looking for happily ever after, you've come to the wrong place."


Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by HP Mallory

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, a Paranormal Romance (Jolie Wilkins Series, Book #1) 
First Sentence: "It's not every day you see a ghost."
From Amazon.com: "A self-deprecating witch with the unique ability to reanimate the dead. A dangerously handsome warlock torn between being her boss and her would-be lover. A six hundred year old English vampire with his own agenda; one that includes an appetite for witches. The Underworld in a state of chaos. Let the games begin.

Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the Underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand."

To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory
To Kill A Warlock, an Urban Fantasy (Dulcie O'Neil Series, Book #1) 
First Sentence: "There was no way in hell I was looking in the mirror."
From Amazon.com: "The murder of a dark arts warlock. A shape-shifting, ravenous creature on the loose. A devilishly handsome stranger sent to investigate. Sometimes working law enforcement for the Netherworld is a real bitch.

Dulcie O’Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She’s a Regulator—a law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world.

When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she’s either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim.

Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie.

Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie’s got her hands full.

As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals."

From Library:

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1) by Jennifer Estep

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)  
First Sentence: "My name is Gin, and I kill people."
From Amazon.com: "My name is Gin, and I kill people. They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.
Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way -- good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction...especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy."

Rise of the Huntress (The Last Apprentice, Book 7) by Joseph Delaney

The Last Apprentice: Rise of the Huntress 
First Sentence: "The Spook, Alice, and I were crossing the Long Ridge on our way back to Chipenden, with the three wolfhounds, Claw, Blood, and Bone, barking excitedly at our heels."

From Amazon.com: "Things can never be the same again.  The Spook and his apprentice, Thomas Ward, have returned to the county after a long journey and a hard battle. But their troubles are far from over. Their home has been over-run by enemy soldiers. The Spook's house is in ruins, the boggart protecting it has fled, and the malicious witches imprisoned in the gardens have escaped.
Tom, Alice, and the Spook must flee, too, across the ocean to the island of Mona. And it's on Mona that this small band fighting against the dark will face an old enemy grown terrifyingly powerful. Will they be able to vanquish an evil that crawls beneath the ground itself? At what cost?
Will Tom and the Spook ever be able to return home?"