Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 2/29

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

This week my Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dress in Blood, Book 2) by Kendare Blake.  I love these covers!  I still haven't read the first book, Anna Dressed in Blood, but I really want to read that too. Click on the image to go to Amazon and read more about this book.

Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dress in Blood, Book 2) by Kendare Blake
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 304 pages
ISBN: 978-0765328663

Synopsis from
"In this follow-up to Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas begins seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep, and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong. These aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review - Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (4.5/5 stars)

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Dystopia
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: January 31, 2012
ISBN: 978-0062060754
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Incarnate series
Source: ARC through Goodreads First Reads
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through Goodreads First Reads. This book has an absolutely stunning cover and to be completely honest that was what initially drew me to it. The synopsis though was also intriguing; I haven't read many books focused on the idea of reincarnation. This ended up being a very engaging and engrossing read; if you like dystopias and are interested in reincarnation then you will love this book.

Ana in a New Soul or a No Soul depending on your point of view. She is the first person in thousands years not to be a reincarnated soul but a new soul that no one knows. Because she is born another soul that has been reincarnated many times does not return. Many people shun and even hate Ana as a No Soul since she prevented one of their own from being reborn. Sam saves Ana's life and is one of the few people who believe that she is a New Soul; something exciting and refreshing and definitely someone worth teaching. Sam thinks that Ana will bring much needed new ideas into their society.

This book is an intriguing blend of fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian society. The residents of Heart have been reborn over and over for thousands of years; from certain viewpoints their society seems ideal. Like many supposed Utopias though, their society has its dark side as well.

Heart is constantly under the attack of evil Dragons and Sylphs; yet why do these creatures hate Heart so much? The question is a mystery. The Sylphs especially seem to have a special interest in Ana and she doesn't understand why. These parts of the story make for wonderful fantasy elements and a fascinating world that is easy to get caught up in.

The way the society reincarnates and the mysterious tower at the center of Heart have a bit of a sci-fi feel to them. So all in all the story is a very interesting blend of genres.

Ana is a wonderful character that has to deal with some heartwrenching issues. Even her mother hates her because of what she is and this makes her defensive and slow to trust. Despite this she has such a wonderful drive to learn and is so excited about new experiences. This is part of what draws Sam to her. It was wonderful to watch Ana change as a character throughout the book and watch what she is capable off with people around that don't hate her.

Sam is also a wonderful character. I loved his openess with Ana and how he believed that she was vital to keep their society...well vital. The way he is torn between his feelings for Ana and his status as her Guardian makes their love somewhat starcrossed. Him and Ana have wonderful chemistry and it was wonderful to watch them getting to know and love each other.

A number of the side characters are incredibly engaging as well. All of them are very real and it is fascinating to hear them all talk about their many different lives and experiences. It is also interesing how they have such a blase attitude toward death. They just aren't scared of death like Ana is.

The plot is well done, although a lot is left unresolved at the end of the book.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. Meadows has some wonderful characters that are easy to relate to and engaging. This is a wonderful and intriguing world that should appeal to a wide range of fans; there are fantasy elements in the form of dragon attacks and mysterious slyphs and there are dystopian elements with a stagnant society that is constantly reborn and mysteriously provided for. The huge role reincarnation plays in this society is very unique and something I haven't read about before. I found this to be a very engaging read with a lot of mystery and a great romance as well. Highly recommended for fantasy fans and fans of dystopian reads.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Dystopia Reading Challenge
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review - The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbit (3/5 stars)

Reading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 272 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 3, 2012
ISBN: 978-0061963131
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone?
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got an advanced copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. This sounded like a fun and magical middle grade read. There were some neat concepts in this story but it takes a long time for the story to get moving. By the time things are really starting to get interesting the book is over. I had an absolutely awful time with this book keeping my attention; I am not sure why but my attention just kept wandering off.

Maya just wants her mother to recover from cancer and be well again. When Maya's father gets an offer to move to Paris it is a dream come true for most of the family. When Maya's brother is kidnapped it is up to Maya to scour the magical underworld of Paris for him. Little does Maya know two families are feuding (one believes in science and one in magic); at the center of it all is the Cabinet of Earths.

I stopped and started this book a couple times. I was finally determined to get through it, but it was still a slow read and I had trouble reading for very long without loosing my interest. It's not that this is a bad story, in fact it is a pretty neat just takes a very long time to set up the story and none of the characters were really all that interesting to me.

The story is somewhat complex. There are two families in Paris's magical underground. Both of them know the secret to immortality and at the heart of this secret is the Cabinet of Earths, an addictive substance called anbar, and a history of missing children.

Maya and the surrounding characters were all okay; they just seemed a bit two dimensional to me. None of the characters were all that interesting and, while I didn't mind reading about them, they never really captured my imagination.

The Cabinet of Earths and its purpose was a mystery for the first half or more of the book; why Maya was drawn to it and what it was used for was speculated about early on, but uncertain throughout. There are a lot of things going on throughout the beginning of the book that don't seem all that related. In the end they are all important, but rather than coming off as clever this just came across as kind of cobbled together.

Overall an okay read. I loved the Paris setting and thought the concept of the Cabinet of Earths was interesting. None of the characters really drew me in though and it took a very long time for the story to get to the interesting parts. I kept trying to read this book and my attention would wander because I just couldn't get engaged with the story. By the end, the story just wasn't that memorable and I was happy to be done with it. It is set up so that the characters could have more adventures in future books, but I wasn't able to find info on whether or not there will be another installment in this series. Middle grade readers who enjoy a magical realism type story set in a foreign country might find some here to love. I personally won't be reading future books in this series.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Debut Author Reading Challenge

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Monday - 2/27/12

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.

Okay I know I've missed a couple weeks of In My Mailbox.  But I have a good excuse...I was on vacation somewhere nice and warm...and I didn't really get any books to speak of while I was gone.  Which is awesome because I already have way to many books to read.

This week I got four books.  Three for review and one from the library.  Click on the pics to go to Amazon to read the synopsis.  Or watch the video below to hear more about them.

For Review:

From Library:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review - Heart of Steel (The Iron Seas, Book 2) by Meljean Brooke (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/SciFi
Size: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Release Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-0425243305
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in The Iron Seas series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the second book in the Iron Seas series by Brooke. This book is not a continuation of the characters in the first storybut instead follows around the Yasmeen, the captain of the pirate airship the Lady Cosair, and Archimedes Fox, the famous treasure hunter. While I didn't find the story as compelling as the first book, it was still a good story. There wasn't as much world building, there was more focus on intrigue and Yasmeen and Archimedes' relationship instead.

Yasmeen had sent Archimedes plunging to his death, or so she thought. She is on her way to convery her condolences to Archimedes' sister and sell a valuable daVinci print when Archmedes shows up again. Someone attacks Yasmeen's airship leaving her destitute. Now Yasmeen and Archimedes are forced to plunge deep into Horde occupied Morocco to right past wrongs. Will they be able to concentrate on their goal and resist the pull to each other?

I love the steampunk feel to this novel and the politically/technologically complicated world that it is set in. I missed that this book didn't expand of the world but rather depended on the world set up in The Iron Duke (the first book) to hold the story up. We do get to visit more of the Horde occupied areas when the characters travel to Morocco. Most of the story though concentrates on Archimedes' debt and his efforts to repay it. Yasmeen gets tangeled up in the story when she tries to take off with a valuable daVinci print that Archimedes had acquired. The story also spends a lot of time with Yasmeen and Archimedes trying to learn how to work together while falling for each other and trying not to piss each other off.

The two main characters (Yasmeen and Archimedes) are very well done. Both are charasmatic and engaging characters. They both have interesting and complex backgrounds. I didn't think their relationship was as steamy as the one portrayed between the characters in the Iron Duke, but it was more a relationship of give and take and mutual I did enjoy that. In some respects their relationship was more realistic than most of the relationships you see in typical romances.

I love this world and enjoyed the characters. I just didn't find the story quite as compelling and the romance between Yasmeen and Archimedes quite as engaging as the story and characters in the Iron Duke. It was still a fun and easy read and I enjoyed it.

Overall a solid addition to this series. Love the world these stories are set in; it is a complicated political world with heavy steampunk elements to it. Yasmeen and Archimedes are interesting and charasmatic characters that were fun to read about. There wasn't as much world building in this book as in the first and I missed that. I also didn't find the romance between Yasmeen and Archimedes to be as compelling as the romance in the first book; but I did like that their relationship was built on mutual respect of each other. If you like romance with some adventure and an interesting steampunk setting this is the book for you. Recommended to steampunk fans and fans of paranormal romance.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Steampunk Reading Challenge

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 2/22

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

This week my Struck by Jennifer Bosworth.  I have to admit the cover really caught by eye for this one and the story sounds neat too. Click on the image to go to Amazon and read more about this book.

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Length: 384 pages
ISBN: 978-0374372835

Synopsis from
"Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything."

Audiobook Review - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (5/5 stars)

Reading level: Adult/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/SciFi
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: August 16, 2011
ISBN: 978-0307887436
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook from
Rating: 5/5 stars

I pretty much loved everything about this book. I listened to this book on audio, imagine my surprise when I realized that this was narrated by Will Wheaton (I just listened to Fuzzy Nation a couple weeks ago which was also narrated by Will Wheaton) and he again did an absolutely stellar job of narrating. This book is so fun and is really a kick to read if you were ever interested in, or part of, 80's geek culture. It also has a strong cyperpunk feel to it; so fans of cyberpunk should also considering checking this book out.

Wade lives in 2044 and the future is bleak, power shortages have most of humanity struggling and out of work. So most of humanity live their lives in the OASIS; a virtual reality creaked by James Halliday that consists of thousands of worlds. This is where Wade goes to school, where he plays, and where he is raised. When Halliday dies he leaves the ultimate puzzle/lottery behind. Halliday has hidden an Easter Egg in the OASIS and whoever finds it will win Halliday's substantial fortune. Wade is one of many Gunters (egg hunters) who has spent years searching for the prize. When Wade stumbles on a clue that leads him to the first key his life is changed forever.

Did you grow up in the 80's? Do you love games of all types? If so this is the book for you. This book basically is everything 80's geek culture could ever ask for. There are references to numerous 80's video games in here: Joust, Golden Ax, PacMan, Zork, and many others. As well as references to 80's movies, music, TV shows, etc. All of this is wrapped into a quest to find three keys, conquer three gates and win the prize. So there is a bit of a classic Dungeons and Dragons feel to the book as well. But this is DnD with a cyber punk twist. Certain worlds will allow magic, and others tech, but chaos regions allow for both creating some truly mind-blowing scenes involving magic, guns, and lasers. The amount of awesome 80's trivia in this book is incredible; Cline definitely put a ton of research into writing this book.

This isn't just a geek fest, there is a lot to think about in this book too. Wade's closest friends are people he's never meet in person. Wade also spends a very small amount of time in the real world; his body is mearly a piece of equipment that he keeps exercised and fed so that he can jack in to the OASIS. This brings up questions about what it means to live; do we need to do things in person for them to be real and fulfilling? As you learn more about the genius that is Halliday this question comes to a head; was he happy with his creation or did he regret his lack of interaction with other humans?

Then there is the evil corporation that has hired people to play in the OASIS for them; this group of OASIS players is known as the sixers and they do everything in their power to win Halliday's Easter Egg. The sixers are basically everything corporate that Halliday hated. With the Gunters going against the Sixers you have a classic story about the normal everyday man facing off against the evil corporation.

As Wade and his friends make more progress towards finding the Easter Egg consequences start to leak out of the OASIS into the real world and people start dying. It becomes less and less clear where the OASIS ends and the real world begins.

The characters in this book are awesome; they are all so real and fun to read about. The story is absolutely engaging, it is pretty quest based so that is the main driver...but as the story continues it becomes more and more compelling and impossible to put down.

All in all this book was an absolute blast to read. It was a fun read for someone like me who loves gaming of all types, it provided some great food for thought, it was funny and heartwarming, full of great action scenes and completely engaging. I highly recommend this book. My only caution would be if you do not like gaming and do not know anything about 80's culture then a lot of this book is going to go right over your head. A lot of the negative reviews for this book are from people who don't like gaming or just don't get it. So, uh, seriously if you don't like gaming why are you are reading a cyberpunk fantasy novel about 80's gaming culture called Ready Player One!?

Highly recommended, an absolute blast to read, I can't wait to see what Cline comes up with next.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge
- Dystopia Reading Challenge