Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 8/31

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

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is Crossed by Ally Condie.  I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Matched.  Sure it was kind of a soft and friendly dystopian novel; but I still had a lot of fun reading it and I can't wait to read the next one!


  • Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
  • Release Date: November 1st, 2011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525423652

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:
"In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever."


Review - Dead Iron (Age of Steam, Book 1) by Devon Monk (3.5 /5 stars)


Dead Iron: The Age of Steam (Cedar Hunt)Reading level: Adult
Genre: Steampunk
Size:  352 pages
Publisher:  Roc Trade
Release Date: July 5, 2011
ISBN: 978-0451463968
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Age of Steam series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This is the first book in Devon Monk's new Age of Steam series.  Previously I have read Monk's Allie Beckstrom series and enjoyed it.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  I absolutely adored the world and some of the ideas in this book.  Unfortunately the story moved very slow in the beginning and there were so many characters I feel like I never really got to know them all that well.

Cedar Hunt is a cursed man and a bounty hunter.  He is hired to find the Holder and in his spare time is trying to track down a four year old boy that went missing from the village.  Ends up lots of people want to find the Holder and Cedar will end up pitted against an immortal beings in his search for it. He will also be fighting side by side with witches and a trio of strange brothers.  Think of this as Wild West meets steampunk meets traditional fantasy.

The world created in this book is complicated but absolutely awesome.  It is very a wild-west frontier setting but with steam devices, witches, immortals, evil magicians, werewolves and the Strange (evil creatures).  The way Monk has blended these things together is absolutely awe inspiring.  I loved, loved, loved this world and really want to read more about it.

The book has some problems though.  It starts very slowly.  This is a complicated world and the story is told from 4-5 viewpoints, so it take a long time (too long) to get things going.  I had trouble getting through the first part, my mind kept wandering.  If you can make it through the first two-thirds of the book though you are in for a crazy wild ride.  The pace really picks up in the last third and the book is impossible to put down.

Okay, now let's talk characters.  There are some great characters in this book.  Cedar Hunt is a great tormented cowboy noble warrior type; loved him.  The witch is wonderful too, as are the mysterious three brothers who are devicers and live in tunnels   Then there is Rose, the shopkeeper's daughter, she has such wonderful potential.  All of these characters have an element of mystery to them and have so much potential to be absolutely awesome.  Unfortunately they don't reach that potential in this book.  There are just too many viewpoints and characters and because of that we don't really get to engage with any of them really well.   Hopefully the next book will address this.

The action scenes are awesome, the idea of glim, and all of the wonderful contraptions are spectacular.  The book ends well; I wanted to read more about it but it wasn't a cliffhanger ending.

Overall an okay book.  I am a bit conflicted because there is so much potential for awesomeness here.  The world is absolutely wonderful, the characters could be wonderful if we got the time to know them better.  Unfortunately the first two-thirds of the book is very slow going.  The constantly changing viewpoints makes it hard to engage with the characters and really slows the story down; I found myself struggling to get through the beginning of the book and then was absolutely glued to the book for the last third of the story. This book is absolutely unlike Monk's Allie Beckstrom series and I really like what Monk's started here.  I am hoping that the next book will focus on less characters and get the story moving quicker; if it does that it will be a spectacular series.  Fans of fantasy and steampunk will find a lot in this world to love and should check it out; or at least keep an eye on the series to see if the next book is as awesome as it could be.  I will definitely be reading next book and hoping for the best.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Audiobook Review - The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) by Michael Buckley (3/5 stars)


The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives - Book #1Reading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size:  312 pages
Publisher:  Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: April 1, 2007
ISBN: 978-0810993228
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Sisters Grimm series
Source: Audio book from Audible.com
Rating: 3/5 stars

I've been wanting to read this series for a while and finally got it on audiobook.  I loved the inclusion of all the fairy tale characters, although I was not completely sold on the characters. The story is just as much mystery as fantasy, and I think middle grade kids will really enjoy it.  I listened to this on audio book and the audio book was well done.

Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have been abandoned by their parents and for the last year have been shuffled from foster home to foster home.  Suddenly they are told they are going to live with their grandmother, which is confusing because they thought she was dead.  Well ends up she isn't dead and Sabrina and Daphne are getting a lot more than a new home; they are getting a crash course in fairy tale creatures and mystery solving.

It was a bit weird to read this book after reading the first few books in the Fables series by Bill Willingham (not a series for anyone but adults).  Both series have a lot of similarities; even down to the real world positions they place the fairy tale characters in.  So it took a bit of work for me not to confuse the two storylines.  That being said, as with the Fables series, I really enjoyed the creative way that all fairy tale creatures/people were tied into the story.

The plot moves along at a good clip and is a mystery at heart.  The mystery is a good one, filled with a couple unpredictable twists and turns.  The plot wasn't all that complicated but was decent and engaging.  There are some neat ideas in here.  I also loved Granny Grimms crazy colorful food!

I wasn't really all that excited about the two main characters.  Sabrina is a sour and spiteful preteen for most of the book; she is prickly and doesn't have a lot of depth to her character outside of that.  Daphne is her polar opposite, cheerful and trusting, again not much to Daphne outside of that either.  Some of the side characters are much more interesting.  I loved Puck who helps out but insists he's a bad guy and Canus, the cantankerous old man who helps out Granny Grimm.  Granny herself was another wonderful character.  So there are some great characters in here, they just aren't the characters featured in the book.  

This book is very much an intro book.  The world is introduced but not explained in much depth.  We get to meet the characters, but much about them remains a mystery.  I think this series has a lot of potential and can't wait to see what happens in future books.

The book ends well but definitely sets up a storyline that will take many books to fully resolve; no cliffhangers though so that is nice.

Overall this was an okay read.  I enjoyed the inclusion of different fairy tales in the story but didn't find it especially creative.  The main characters were a bit simplistic, and Sabrina was entirely unlikable.  I am hoping they characters are filled out better in future books.  This book was very much an introduction book, nothing is explained in much depth.  There is a good mystery here and the magic is woven into the mystery well.  I think middle grade readers will enjoy this read, adults will find it to be a bit too simple and short.  I am planning on reading the next couple books in the series to see if they characters become more likable and the world more well filled out.  I would also recommend the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull as a wonderful book involving Fables as part of our current world and a great fantasy adventure for all ages.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Early Review - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (5/5 stars)

The Night CircusReading level: Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Size:  400 pages

Publisher:  Doubleday
Release Date: September 13, 2011
ISBN: 978-0385534635
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from Publisher
Rating: 5/5 stars

I got an eGalley of this book from the publisher for review.  This was an absolutely magical book.  It was beautiful and wondrous; a story that absolutely captured my imagination and drew me in.

The Night Circus, Le Cirque des RĂªves, 
is magical and mysterious.  It appears completely set up and is only open at night.  Sometimes the things that take place inside it are a bit too magical.  What the innocent circus attendee doesn't know is that the Night Circus is actually an arena for a competition going on between two magicians.  Celia and Marcus have been forced to study magic from a very young age; their masters used very different methods of teaching.  Then the masters bound Celia and Marcus into a competition to prove which student was the best. 

This book is told from a number of perspectives.  Parts are shown to you from your perspective as an attendee of the Night Circus and parts from various characters who participate in the circus.  The majority of the book switches between Marcus's and Celia's story; with occasional interruptions by Isobel.


The descriptions of the Night Circus and the attractions there are absolutely magical.  Morgenstern writes in such a way that the tents come alive, mysterious and sparkling, in the reader's mind.  The premise of the book and the descriptions within the book are so creative and interesting.  I am not sure how Morgenstern thought up some of these things but I am glad she did because they were absolutely wonderful to read about.


The book is incredibly well written and while it has a fine literature feel to it, it is still incredibly easy to read and very engaging.  I read this book super fast, just because I had to know what was going to happen next.  The plot is intricate and very detailed, but never hard to follow.

Next there are the characters.  The book is filled with wonderful and quirky characters.  Celia and Marcus will both steal the reader's heart; they are absolutely lovable and engaging.  The relationship they develop is sweet and complicated because of the lengthy competition they face.

The book ends well and is wrapped up in a creative and surprising way.  When you think back to the story after reading the book, you realize how well planned out the plot was and how so many intricate things were woven together to make this wonderful story.

Overall this was just a fabulous book.  I really enjoyed every little last thing about it.  The plot was intricate, the description beautiful, and just such a creative idea.  The atmosphere of the book is magical and mysterious throughout, but always engaging and easy to read.  Marcus and Celia are very engaging characters who are easy to love, they travel an interesting path together.  I really think everyone should give this book a read.  It is the type of book that should appeal to a wide audience and is appropriate for young adult and older.  If you love magic and mystery in a historical setting this is definitely a must read.  I will be watching out for future books from Morgenstern.



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





The Night Circus

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Monday - 8/29


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 eight books.  Five of them were for review.  I got Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Prized (Birthmarked, Book 2) by Caragh M. O'Brien, and Slayers by C.J. Hill through NetGalley.com.  I got The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann and The Dragon's Tooth: Ashtown Burials #1 by N.D. Wilson through the Amazon Vine program.

I bought two books: Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) by Stacia Kane (on sale v. cheap for Amazon Kindle) and Down to the Bone (Quantum Gravity, Book 5) by Justina Robson (the final Quantum Gravity book!!!).

I also got one book through Paperbackswap.com: Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller by Ben Tripp

You can check out the covers and links to more info on them below.  Hope you all got some excellent books and have a wonderful week of reading!!!

For Review:
  Prized (The Birthmarked Trilogy) Slayers The Unwanteds
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Prized (Birthmarked, Book 2) by Caragh M. O'Brien
Slayers by C.J. Hill
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
The Dragon's Tooth: Ashtown Burials #1 by N.D. Wilson

Bought
Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) Down to the Bone (Quantum Gravity, Book 5)
Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, Book 1) by Stacia Kane
Down to the Bone (Quantum Gravity, Book 5) by Justina Robson

Swapped through Paperbackswap.com

Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller by Ben Tripp

Audiobook Review - Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Book 4) by Jeaniene Frost (5/5 stars)


Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress, Book 4)Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size:
  400 pages
Publisher:  Avon
Release Date: July 28, 2009
ISBN: 978-0061583216
Stand Alone or Series: 4th book in the Night Huntress series
Source: Audiobook through Audible.com
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the fourth book in the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost.  The sixth book, One Grave at a Time, will be out on August 30th of 2011.  I enjoyed this book a lot more than the third one.  A lot happens, a lot of the characters go through some drastic changes.  The majority of the book had me on the edge of my seat and I can't wait to find out what happens next!  I listened to this on audio book, as with the previous books on audio, this audio book is extremely well done.  I think listening to these is even more fun than reading them!



This takes place about a year after, At Grave's End.  Cat and Bones are finally trying to take a vacation when they find out Cat is being hunted by a vampire called the Dreamsnatcher who says he is her husband; Cat has no idea who he is. Of course this ticks Bones off to no end.  Things are very dangerous for Cat because the Dreamsnatcher can kidnap humans in their sleep.  Add to this rumors that Cat wants to be turned into some sort of uber-ghoul and it makes the vampire politics in this book very tense.


Cat and Bones are really put through the ringer in this book.  The first part of the book is very dark.  Bones is angry at Cat, Cat is upset about her lost memories and can't even sleep because of fear of being snatched.  Both Cat and Bones do a number of stupid things that could have been avoided had they communicated better.  


The good thing that sets off all of the bad in the first half of the book is Vlad.  Vlad is present in a big way in this book and proves his steadfast friendship to Cat over and over again.  It was fun to learn Vlad's history and to watch him interact with Cat; he is one of my favorite characters in this series.


The other good thing about all the bad that happens in the beginning of the book is that we get to see Cat and Bones work through all these issues and become a stronger couple after it all.  Lots of interesting things happen to Cat's powers later in the book, this was fun and exciting to read about.  I was a bit confused with how the whole deal about Bones gaining a bunch of power from Mencheres was dropped in this book, but whatever, hopefully it will come up again in the next book.


As with previous books this is more of an urban fantasy than a paranormal romance.  The plot moves quickly, there is never a dull moment.  Parts of this book will break your heart, but fear not it gets better!  The book ends well and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book with Cat and her new abilities.


Overall a very strong addition to this series.  I enjoyed this book a lot and have no complaints.  I loved that we get our witty Cat and Bones banter back.  The beginning of the book is very dark and parts of it will break your heart, but that just makes the second half of the book even more awesome.  It was great to spend so much time with Vlad in this book.  Some really interesting things happen with Cat and her powers too, so I am very excited to see where Frost goes with all this in the fifth book, This Side of the Grave.


This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Early Review - Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports, Book 2) by Cherie Priest (5/5 stars)


Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports, Book 2)Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size:  352 pages
Publisher:  Spectra
Release Date: September 6, 2011
ISBN: 978-0345520623
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Cheshire Red Reports
Source: ARC through Librarything's Early Reviewer Program
Rating: 5/5 stars


I got an advanced reading copy of this book through Librarything's early Reviewer program.  I was soo excited to read this.  I love pretty much everything I have read by Cherie Priest (I've read all her Clockwork Century series and of course the first book in this series, Bloodshot).  Well I loved this book too.  It was so much fun to read; definitely not as serious as her Clockwork Century series but a very fun, fast paced urban fantasy series with a lot of humor.

Our favorite OCD vampire thief, Raylene, is back with more hijinks.  Raylene gets a call from one of her contacts asking her to steal some very valuble magical baculum (penis bones..uh yep that's what baculum are).  It looks to be a simple snatch and grab, of course things aren't ever simple.  Along with this snatch and grab gone wrong, Raylen's housemate Ian has problems of his own.  The head of Ian's House has died and Ian would be next in line, except with his blindness he isn't suited for the position and is being hunted down instead.  So Raylene and Adrian (the drag queen ex-Navy Seal) go over to Ian's House to try and fix things up for him; along the way they may even find out more about Adrian's sister.

This book has three plot lines going on: the stealing of the baculum, Ian's problems with his house, and the search for Adrian's missing sister. These plots are neatly and efficiently woven together making for a fast-paced, action packed urban fantasy that is hard to put down and fun to read.

The characters are part of what make this book wonderful.  Raylene is quirky, hilarious, and very good at what she does.  Adrian is another wonderful quirky character, that is a load of laughs, but also very bad-ass.  There pretty much aren't any characters in this book that I don't like; they are all interesting, engaging, creative and...did I already mention fun?!

The dialogue throughout is also witty.  The banter between Raylene and Adrian is hilarious.  I absolutely love Raylene's snarky attitude and enjoy her constant digressions to only slightly related topics.  Just beware there are numerous sexual references (but no sex) throughout and a crapload of swearing.  I enjoyed it, but it is not for younger readers.

I love where this series is going, some big things happen right at the end of the book that make me excited to see where this series is headed to.  The main plotlines are nicely wrapped up.  You could probably read this book as a stand alone; good background is given in the beginning of the book.  Why would you want to though when Bloodshot was such a fun read too?

Overall I absolutely loved this book.  The plot and action are well done, the characters quirky and funny, it is fast-paced and lots of fun.  I love love Raylene and her snarkiness.  I love where this series is going and am so excited to read the next installment.  I pretty much loved everything about this book.  Is this book for everyone?  Probably not, the humor is a bit off-the-wall and dark, there's a lot of swearing, and pretty much no romance.  But, if you love fast-paced action-packed urban fantasy with a biting sense of humor you should definitely check this series out.


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


Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports, Book 2)