Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Early Review - Skyfall (Troll Hunters, Book 1) by Michael Dahl (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Children's
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 112 pages
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Release Date: January, 2012
ISBN: 978-1434233080
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Troll Hunters series
Source: eGalley through
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got an eGalley of this book to review through It was a fun read and a great spooky beginning chapter book for kids. I loved the drawings throughout and thought the book was well written with a good level of spookiness for kids.

Four kids discover that there are creepy things hidden in the woods. They also discover that they have the power to help save the town from these evil monsters.

The premise of this story is simple but well done. Definitely intended for a younger audience but still interesting enough that I enjoyed reading it as an adult as well. Basically these four kids get involved in some scary events and find out that Trolls are causing all these odd events. They end up discovering that they have the means to fight these monsters.

The book was creepier than I expected. I found some of the parts to be a bit scary, so I wouldn't recommend for really young children. Although the book is written with pretty simple language; I thought that the surroundings, characters, and events were well described and engaging. I loved the addition of pictures throughout the book; this really added to the eerie atmosphere of the book and help conveyed some of the harder to picture monsters and actions that happened throughout the story.

I love books about monsters/mythological creatures and about the people that fight them. This would be a wonderful book to introduce kids to the creepier aspects of trolls and such.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It is definitely meant for a younger audience so young adult and older readers might find the story a bit too simplistic. Still, the story was well done and extremely creepy. The wonderful pictures throughout added a lot to the story and really drove home the eerie atmosphere of the story. It's a quick read, but a fun one. I look forward to reading future books in this series. I recommend this book for younger readers who love fantasy, reading about monsters, and don't mind a little bit of scary in their stories.

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

Waiting on Wednesday - 11/30

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.
This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is The Great Game: The Bookman Histories, Book 3 by Lavie Tidhar.  I love the other Bookman History books; they are crazily creative and so entertaining to read.  I can't wait to read this one.

Release Date: January 31st, 2012
Publisher: Angry Robot
Length: 416 pages
ISBN: 978-0857661999

Synopsis from
When Mycroft Holmes is murdered in London, it is up to retired shadow executive Smith to track down his killer - and stumble on the greatest conspiracy of his life. Strange forces are stirring into life around the globe, and in the shadow game of spies nothing is certain. Fresh from liberating a strange alien object in Abyssinia - which might just be the mythical Ark of the Covenant - young Lucy Westerna, Holmes' protégé, must follow her own path to the truth while, on the other side of the world, a young Harry Houdini must face his greatest feat of escape - death itself.

As their paths converge the body count mounts up, the entire world is under threat, and in a foreboding castle in the mountains of Transylvania a mysterious old man weaves a spider's web of secrets and lies.

Airship battles, Frankenstein monsters, alien tripods and death-defying acts: The Great Game is a cranked-up steampunk thriller in which nothing is certain - not even death.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Audiobook Review - Magic on the Line (Allie Beckstrom, Book 7) by Devon Monk (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Roc
Release Date: November 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0451464286
Stand Alone or Series: 7th book in the Allie Beckstrom series
Source: Audiobook from
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the seventh book in the Allie Beckstrom series. This book has some big changes in store for the characters as they pick up the pieces from the mess that was left after the previous book. I enjoyed it, but the beginning of the story is more of a transition...the end packs some serious awesomeness though. This is not a book to start the series on, go back and start at the beginning or you will be seriously confused. The next book will be titled Magic Without Mercy
 and is due for a April 2012 release.

With the mess that happened in the last book someone in the Authority has to take the blame and someone new has to be put into power. The new head of the Authority is a man named Bratholonew Wray and he has some dark past with current members of the Authority, he also seems determined to make Allie's life miserable. Then Allie starts getting sick when she uses magic and notices Veiled entering people on the streets. The people that the Veil enter get very sick, to the point that rumors of an epidemic of sorts are spreading throughout the city. Allie is convinced that the epidemic has something to do with magic being tainted but Bartholomew disagrees. Allie has some tough choices to make; will she go along with the Authority and watch the city die or will she go against the Authority and accept the consequences?

The first part of this book was a bit tedious but necessary, basically all the loose ends from the last book have to be tied up. People who caused trouble in the Authority must be Closed and the people around them have to cope with this. New leadership must be chosen and put in place. Allie has to try to get back to her own life taking care of the Hounds, dealing with her father in her head, that sort of stuff. All necessary to get the story moving the right way, but it made the story seem a bit aimless in the beginning.

Once Allie starts seeing the Veiled things really pick up. Allie finds herself in direct opposition to the Authority and both her and Zayvion have to make some big decisions. Both of them change a lot throughout this book. Allie becomes harder and has to do some things the old Allie would never have had the stomach to do. Zayvion starts to see more areas of grey versus everything as black and white, good and evil.

The end of the book totally blew me away and I am eager to see how everything falls out in the next book. So, although this series has never been one of those absolutely outstanding ones for me, it is a series that is consistently good and always engaging. I am still reading it seven books in so that says a lot!

Overall a wonderful addition to this series. I thought it started a bit slow with all the clean-up and transition that had to be done from the last book, but the second half of the book saw some huge changes for are characters and the ending was spectacular. I am dying to know what happens to all of our favorite characters in the next book, Magic Without Mercy
 (to be released in April 2012).

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review - Waterfall (River of Time, Book 1) by Lisa T. Bergren (5/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Release Date: February 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1434764331
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the River of Time series
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program (it was also available for free for Kindle a while back). I had heard wonderful things about this book and it ended up being an excellent romantic historical fantasy story.

Gabi and her sister Lia are accompanying their mother on an archaeological dig in Italy when they find some hand prints in a tomb. When they place their hands on the hand prints they are sent back in time, separated, and find themselves in the middle of a power struggle between two Italian families. Gabi has to learn how to navigate this strange time, find her sister, find a way back home, and hopefully guard her heart from the lord of the castle Marcello. Marcello is betrothed to another woman but finds himself drawn to Gabi despite the political ramifications.

There are a couple things about this story that are a bit too fairy tale and convenient. Gabi can ride horseback and fight with a sword from the get-go; this is explained via activities she used to do with her father but is a bit too convenient for my taste. The whole falling in love with the lord who rescues her is also a bit too fairy tale. Despite this I found myself absolutely enraptured by this story and couldn't put the book down.

Gabi is a kick-butt character, she faces a lot of danger in this novel and pulls off being incredibly brave yet still seeming humble about it. She does a number of things that would be somewhat normal in our time, but when she does them in this past era it is so out of character for a woman that it shocks, stuns, and awes the people around her. She was a fun character to read about and very engaging; I found myself really emotionally involved. She has some tough decisions to make throughout the story: does she follow her heart or do what her head says is the right thing to do?

Marcelle was a dream male lead; he is basically the knight in shining armor. Extremely masculine, but tender towards Gabi and very concerned about the welfare of those around him.

Bergren did an excellent job with describing the period and with the language. Gabi reverts to talking in a more archaic/stilted form of language, but she still thinks in normal modern teen slang and sometimes she does slip up in her speech. This was done very well and remained consistent throughout the story.

The plot is well done and is full of conspiracy and plotting, there are some excellent action scenes, and the romance is tender and sweet. Keep in mind this is part of a trilogy so this book does not stand alone, there really isn't much resolved by the end of this book so I would recommend having the second book, Cascade, on hand.

I was a bit dubious about reading this book because of the Bergren's religious background, not to mention the publishing house. I've been conned into reading fantasies before that end up being more treatises on religion than actual works of fantasy. This book was not like that. Being that you are in old Italy God is mentioned a number of times. Gabi occasionally wonders if her being sent back in time was God's will (even though she is admittedly not all that religious) and wonders when people pray to God if he really hears. Besides those mentions this really isn't a religious heavy book. I thought the use of religion was reasonable and fit well with the story, I never felt like I was being preached too or beat over the head with heavy religious beliefs. So don't let the Christian history of the writer or publishing house deter you from reading this book.

Overall I loved this book. The characters, plot, and action scenes were all very well done. Sure all the sword fighting, horseback riding, language skills that Gabi had were a bit too convenient and maybe Marcelle was a bit too perfect...but the package made for a wonderful historical fantasy full of intrigue, adventure, and a very sweet romance. Fans of historical fantasy with romance will find a lot here to love. I absolutely could not put this book down. A lot remains unresolved at the end of this book so I have to admit I immediately went out and bought Cascade and Torrent so that I could read the rest of the story.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge
- The Debut Author Challenge
- Fantasy Reading Challenge
- Show Me the Free Challenge

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Monday - 11/28

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 twelve books.  You can see details on them below.  You can also watch the video below to hear more about the books and where I got them.

Hope you all got great books and have a wonderful week of reading!

For Review: