Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review - Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6) by J.R. Ward (2/5 stars)

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6)Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Roamnce
Size:  560 pages
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: June 3, 2008
ISBN-13:   978-0451222725
Stand Alone or Series: 6th book in the Black Dagger
Source: Audio book from
 2/5 stars

This is the sixth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by Ward.  The 9th book in the series, Lover Unleashed, was released in March of 2011.  This book was by far my least favorite in this series; it tried to be more of an urban fantasy than a paranormal romance and as a result pretty much failed at being spectacular in either genre.  I listened to this on audio book, this audio book had the same narrator as others in this series.  It is an okay audio book but the narrator for these isn't my favorite.

This is mainly the story of Phury and Cormia.  Phury is fighting a drug addiction and struggling in his place as Primale to the Chosen; Cormia is trying to find her place in the world outside of the Chosen's Realm.  The story also spends a good amount of time following the story of John Mathews.  We also learn a lot more about Xhex and Rehvenge.  In addition to all of that the Lesser society is gaining strength and is featured a lot more in this story.

Okay so let's be honest, I read these books because they usually have an absolutely entrancing romance and lots of interesting emotionally damaged characters.  There aren't usually a ton of fight scenes and usually there is just enough plot to hold the story together.  Ward is good at writing that type of story and that is what I read this series for.  In this book Ward tries to do something different.  Phury and Cormia have a lackluster romance at best; much more time is spent focusing on the Lessers gaining power and on other traumatic things happening to the Brothers.  I keep waiting for Phury and Cormia to have a absolutely scorching romance, but it was more of a fizzle and a compromise.  

Ward spends so much time jumping between characters that the storyline creeps along in incredibly slow progress.  I lost track of the number of perspectives we hear the story from; it somewhere in the four to six range.  It just makes the book so long and so little happens.  I know at times I have said I would like more urban fantasy in this series, but I have to say that if this is Ward's shot at urban fantasy....well then I think she should stick to paranormal romance.  The urban fantasy parts were mediocre, they were boring and predictable.  I was just waiting for this book to end.

The story ends okay.  The Lesser are definitely gaining power and the Brothers are in a bad spot.  I did like that we learned more about the Chosen in this book.  Things get a little crazy though; suddenly Ward is introducing angels and lizard-people into the story and I was like...uh...okay what is the point of all of this?  I am sure there is a point.  But honestly I don't read these books for their complexity, I read them for fun.  There just wasn't much fun in this one, just strangeness.

Overall a very mediocre entry into this series.  The romance between Phury and Cormia is lame, it never really catches fire.  The added urban fantasy should have appealed to me, but I just found the story to be predictable, told from too many viewpoints and long.  By the end I was just thrilled it was all over; Ward is trying to tell the story of too many characters at once and it makes for a cumbersome book.  While previous books have been incredibly hard to put down, I found this book hard to keep reading.  Will I listen to the next book, Lover Avenged?  I am just not sure.  I would love to hear Rehvenge's and John Matthew's stories, but if they come packaged like this story I think I am going to have to pass.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- Audio Book Challenge List

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review - Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari (2.5/5 stars)

Ashes, AshesReading level: Young Adult
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Survival
Size:  352 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: June 1, 2011
ISBN-13:   978-0545255639
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Advanced Reading Copy from the Strand
 2.5/5 stars

I bought an ARC of this book at The Strand bookstore when I was in NYC for the Book Expo this year.  I had been trying to decide if I wanted to read this book or not.  I love post-apocalyptic survival stories so I decided to pick it up.  It was okay, not nearly as good as some of the other options out there, but an okay story.

Lucy has been surviving on her own for nearly a year in Central Park in NYC.  After small-pox epidemics annihilated the population, the climate changed alternating droughts and horrible flooding.  When dogs and floods drive her out of her makeshift home she ends up with a group of survivors living commune stle.  The mysterious Sweepers have started picking off members of the commune one by one an Lucy is frustrated with the groups acceptance of the situation.  Lucy is intrigued by a boy named Aidan and is urging him to rally the group to fight, but there are things about herself Lucy doesn't know that complicates the issue.

This book starts out very slow.  Around page 80 or so I almost stopped reading it, I didn't like Lucy as a character and Treggiari's writing style was just a bit too mechanical for me.  She does an excellent job describing the gritty side of survival; blisters and uncleanliness, gutting animals etc but somehow it just wasn't that interesting..the writing style was a bit to disconnected or something.  Once Lucy meets up with the large survivor camp things pick up and get a bit more interesting.

The "romance" between Lucy and Aidan is pretty thin, which is odd since the book touts itself as a romantic read.  There are lingering glances and a kiss or two, not much meaningful conversion.  The romance is definitely pushed to the back of the story, the story focuses more on survival and figuring out the mystery behind the Sweepers and their purpose.

The plot was a little schizophrenic.  In the beginning is was a book about survival, the mid portion focuses more on commune living, and the end is suddenly about genetic engineering and the science of vaccinations.  I think somewhere in here there could have been a really great story, but it got confused because Treggiari couldn't figure out what to focus on.  I was a bit thrown with the whole evil scientist thing at the end of the book.  I mean come on, that was so predictable and so cliche, I expected something more profound or deeper to happen. I was also a bit disappointed that we don't get any insight into the rest of the world.  The book is very focused on just Lucy's little world.

The characters were okay.  Lucy, Aiden, and Del are fairly engaging, if not really likable.  As readers we never get enough incite into them to really make us care a whole lot about what happens to them.  The book ends well enough and resolves the major plot point while leaving the characters overall survival problems unsolved.

Overall this was an okay book.  It starts out slow but the second half is engaging enough if a bit cliche and unfocused.  The characters are okay, the plot is a bit unfocused, and the book didn't have as big of an impact on me as I hoped for.  The problem is there are so many great post-apocalyptic young adult books out there.  I would personally recommend skipping this book and checking out the following books: Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell, Feed by Mira Grant (more of an adult read), Divergent by Veronica Roth (more of a dystopia), and Wither by Lauren DeStefano (more of a dystopia).  After you read all of those if you crave more post-apocalyptic survival YA reads then maybe check this out.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- The Debut Author Challenge

Ashes, Ashes

Waiting on Wednesday - 6/29

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

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is The Fire King (The Invisible Order, Book 2) by Paul Crilley  I got a copy of the first book, Rise of the Darklings, last year and really enjoyed it.  It's a Victorian middle grade fantasy of sorts, with faeries and all that.  I loved it to pieces.  So I am very excited to see how the second bok in the series is.

  • Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA
  • Release Date: September 27, 2011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606840320

Synopsis from "Emily and her friends travel to 1666 to save London from the Great Fire and otherworldly creatures."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review - A Tale Dark and Grim by Adam Gidwitz (5/5 stars)

A Tale Dark and GrimmReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 192 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: October 28, 2010
ISBN-13:  978-0525423348
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
 5/5 stars

I saw this on one of the book blogs that I follow and it just sounded like an absolutely awesome read.  I am so happy I picked it up at the library and will be buying a keeper copy for my personal library.  It was an excellent book; hilarious, yet does a wonderful job of taking the reader through a number of dark and traditional fairy tales. 

Hansel and Gretel didn't have a great start to see their father chopped their heads off.  Well, of course, they did come back to life but they weren't really all that comfortable with their dad after that.  So, they decided to find new parents.  There search takes them through a number of darkly traditional fairy tales and in the end they find out...well...there are worse things out there than a parent that chops off your head.  The stories have interjections from the author throughout that are absolutely hilarious.

This book may be a bit dark for younger kids who don't understand dark humor; heads are chopped off as are fingers...but the author does warn you about all that.  The author's asides throughout the book are absolutely hilarious.  The matter of fact way the tales are told and the way more modern slang and langauge is used throughout make these tales hilarious and accessible.

I seriously laughed out loud for a good portion of this book.  Not only is it funny but it is very clever too.  Hansel and Gretel are cleverly worked into a number of fairy tales you will recognize when you read them.  There are some gruesome things in here, but each time you are warned ahead of time by the author.  Definitely lots of gallows humor.

I read the whole book though in one sitting, it is very engaging and interesting and did I mention funny?  Just a very creative book that does an excellent job with fairy tales and presenting the darker versions of them in a humorous and accessible way.

Overall just a fantastic book.  It was surprising, hilarious, and very well done.  Fans of the traditional dark fairy tales and humor will love this book.  I will definitely keeping and eye out for any more books by Adam Gidwitz.  

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Blog Hop Winner

Thanks to everyone who participated in this Blog Hop.  There were 317 entries, winners were chosen using

Review - Shift (Shade, Book 2) by Jeri Smith-Ready (4/5 stars)

Shift (Shade, Book 2)Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN-13:  978-1416994084
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in Shade trilogy
Source: Bought
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the second book in the Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready.   The third, and final book, Shine is due out in 2012.  This was an excellent continuation of the series.  I continue to enjoy the mystery, the creative world, and the engaging characters in these books.  You should definitely start with the first book in the series, Shade.

Aura calls to Logan every night in hopes of turning him back from a Shade to a Ghost.  Aura is also involved with the wonderful Zachery; he is alive while Logan is dead.  Also while Zachery was the last person born before the Shift, Aura was the first and they are worried that being together might spell catastrophe for the world.  Zachery and Aura are doing their best to solve the mystery of the Shift, they both think it could be more dangerous than either suspected.  Aura will also have to choose between her dead boyfriend, who she has no future with, and Zachary.

This book was incredibly well-written.  The writing style flows very nicely, the characters sound so natural and it is just a joy to read.  Aura and Zachery are characters you really love and are pulling for throughout the book.  Even Logan seems like less of a jerk than he was last book and, as a reader, we start to see things more from his perspective in this book.

The mystery surrounding the Shift is incredibly interesting and I really enjoyed following Aura and Zachery as they unravel it.  I also thought that the influence that Aura and Zachery have on each others' special powers is intriguing.  The plot is well paced and this makes the book very hard to put down; you are always wondering what will happen next.  Aura's struggle between choosing Logan or Zachary is also engaging and heart-wrenching.

My only complaint with this book is that is spends too much time following Aura as she whines and moans and complains about Logan and Zachary fighting over her.  There is too much of "Oh Aura likes Logan, now she likes Zack, now she hates Zack, now she likes some other guy".  At points this drama got a bit eye-rolling and I just wanted to get on with the mystery behind the Shift.

Overall this book was incredibly well written and made for an excellent read.  The world is very creative and interesting and I loved following the mystery behind how the Shift was caused.  Aura, Logan, and Zachary are wonderful characters that are incredibly engaging.  If the teenage drama had been ratcheted down a notch this book would have been absolutely perfect.  I think fans of the first book, Shade, will love this book.  This is honestly one of the better young adult paranormal series out there.  So, if you love paranormal YA make sure to check this series out.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Monday - 6/27

IMM is a meme started at The Story Siren with some inspiration from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.

Anyone can participate in IMM and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you've bought or books that you've gotten at the library.

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.

This week I got nine books.  You can see more info on them below.

Hope you all have a wonderful week of reading!

For Review
The Secret of the Water Knight Ashes (Ashes (Hardcover - Trilogy))
The Secret of the Water Knight by Rusalka Reh
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
The House of the Scorpion   [HOUSE OF THE SCORPION] [Hardcover] Arcane Circle (Persephone Alcmedi, Book 4)

Fathers and Sons (Curran POV) Shadowmagic Victoria Gardella: Vampire Slayer (The Gardella Vampire Chronicles)
Fathers and Sons (Curran, Vol 2) by Ilona Andrews
Shadowmagic by John Lenahan
Victoria Gardella: Vampire Slayer by Colleen Gleason

From Library
A Tale Dark and Grimm The Kane Chronicles, Book Two: The Throne of Fire
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles, Book 2) by Rick Riordan