Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review - Magic Without Mercy (Allie Beckstrom, Book 8) by Devon Monk (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Roc
Release Date: April 3, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0451464484
Stand Alone or Series: 8th book in the Allie Beckstrom series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the eighth book in the Allie Beckstrom series. It was a good installment in the series and was an enjoyable read. All of these books encompass one large story, so make sure to start with book one. If you are a fan of urban fantasy, this is a fun and creative series to read.  The ninth book in the series, Magic for a Price, releases in November of 2012.

Magic has been poisoned and Allie and crew are trying to get samples from all of the Wells to try to determine what is wrong. The poisoned magic is still making Allie sicker than anyone else and no one knows why. Just when the crew thinks they have a chance at fixing magic, the Authority gets in the way and makes things even more difficult.

This series is hard to review because this is just one long continuous story. This book adds to the story and does move some elements forward, not a ton is resolved here though.

I love the magic system in these books, how you have to pay a cost to use your magic. Allie doesn’t use magic much in this book because it makes her extremely ill to do so.

Most of the book is spent trying to get samples from the Wells of magic and trying to figure out how to purify it. We get to see a lot of Zayvion doing awesome magic in this book; he can seriously do some outstanding things...but of course he pays a high cost to do those things.

We also learn a lot more about Stone, the gargoyle, and how he was created and what he can do. A portion of the story is also dedicated to Davy and the crazy way they are dealing with his magic illness.

My personal favorite part of the story was watching Terric and Shane finally start to work together as Soul Complements. It was so nice to see some story progression there; the awesome magic those two wield when they work together is something to behold.

So, yeah, a lot of story progression but not much resolution. I really enjoy the characters and the writing is well done. The book was a fun and quick read. This isn’t my favorite Allie Beckstrom story but it was still entertaining. As I mentioned before you have to start with book 1 or you will be totally lost.

Overall a decent installment in this series. Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy; especially for those who love creative and unique magic systems. Solid characters, a fast-paced plot, and a creative magic system make this a fun read.

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 5/30/12

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

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is Fables Vol. 17: Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham

.  Click on the image to go to Amazon and read more about this book.

Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Publisher: Vertigo
Length: 144 pages
ISBN: 978-1401235161

Synopsis from
The tights and capes have been stored away forever, but it remains to be seen if Haven and its refugee inhabitants have survived the onslaught of. Where do the Fables go from here? Bigby and Snow White's cubs try to move forward after learning a hard lesson about life and death. And the loveable, fan-favorite hero Bufkin the Flying Monkey gets into more trouble when he finally reaches his homeland of Oz.This Fables volume includes issues 108-113 of the original series.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Early Review - The Dust Girl (American Fairy Trilogy, Book 1) by Sarah Zettel (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Size: 304 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 26, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0375869389
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the America Fairy Trilogy
Source: ARC through
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got an eGalley of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. I was really excited to read this book, I love fairy tales and was curious to read about a fairy tale in a 1930’s American setting. The book ended up being very underwhelming; the story was simple, not all that engaging, and just overall mediocre.

Callie lives with her mother in Kansas and spends most of the time fighting against the continuous drought and frequent dust-storms that have made her sick. When her mother disappears in a sandstorm Callie is left to fend for herself and discovers that she is not exactly human. She will have to journey to California with a hobo boy named Jack if she is ever going to save her mother.

I will be blunt...I didn’t like this book much...I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t all that engaged in it either. I thought everything about it was a bit washed out (like the cover). The landscape and setting were kind of blah, Callie and Jack were kind of boring, and the journey they take was similar. That being said is wasn’t poorly written, I just didn’t find it to be an exciting read.

Callie kind of goes with the flow for most of the book; she accepts the fact that she’s half fairy pretty readily. She has occasional moments of strength, but for the most part she was like every other YA heroine you’ve ever read about. She fancies Jack and is determined to find her mom. She makes many of the same mistakes (trusting strangers who say they know her) over and over again.

Jack was okay too, but nothing special. He is kind of your bad boy thief type and goes along with the adventure to get a good story. He also makes a lot of mistakes and never comes off as a real strong or noble hero.

The setting was an interesting one for a fairy tale, it is a creative idea. It didn’t really work for me though. The 1930’s dust bowl as a backdrop of a fairy tale? Sounds kind of neat. But the scenes were never really described in a way that made them come alive for me; everything just seemed washed out.

I also enjoyed how Callie used music to call magic. Unfortunately the magic system wasn’t well defined and the rules to how Callie could use her magic were inconsistent. I like my magic with some consistency (I know probably sounds a bit silly).

My favorite part of the book was when they went to the Fairyland amusement park. I loved the irony in this part of the story and how different parts of fairy tales were blended in with something like an amusement park. If the whole story had been more like the end, this could have been a great read.

Overall it was an okay read. It is a quick read and is decently written. Everything about the story was mediocre; although the 1930’s is an interesting setting. I personally wouldn’t recommend reading this book if you like fairy tales; there wasn’t as much fairy tale to this story as there was adventuring through the 1930’s. So if you are interested in American Historical Fantasy this might interest you, unfortunately there isn’t a lot to the’s pretty simple. I won’t be reading any more of this series.

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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Early Review - Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, Book 1) by Leigh Bardugo (4.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 368 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: June 5, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0805094596
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Grisha Trilogy
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This is the first book in the Grisha Trilogy. I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program and was really looking forward to reading it. It was an excellent read; wonderful characters, a creative world, and interesting magic. The second book in the trilogy, Seige and Storm, is scheduled for a 2013 release and the third book, Ruin and Rising, is scheduled for a 2014 release.

Ravka is a nation torn in two by the Shadow Fold, an area of darkness full of viscous creatures. Alina is working in the army as a mapmaker and their ship is attacked on a journey through the Shadow Fold. When Alina saves the day with a power she didn’t know she had, she is whisked away to the Palace to be trained as a Grisha. The whole country is hoping Alina can defeat the Shadow Fold once and for all, but when nothing is as it seems how will Alina know what is right and wrong?

This was a great book. Bardugo does an excellent job of submersing the reader in a wonderful new world that is fascinating, yet somewhat dark and troubled. The descriptions are very well done and make the scenes easy to picture, the story really comes alive. It is fast-paced and engaging.

I love the idea of the Shadow Fold, a mass of dark creatures slowly devouring an area of the Kingdom. I love some of the twists and turns the story takes as we learn more and more about the Shadow Fold. This is a world I enjoy reading about and want to learn more about.

Alina was one of the weakest elements in this book for me. She comes off as overly naive for the first portion of the book. I find that hard to believe given that she hasn’t exactly lead a sheltered life; she was an orphan to start and then she’s been working in the Army. She seemed over-simplified and her naivete contrived. She does develop nicely as the book continues and towards the end of the book I was finally starting to enjoy her character a bit more.

The other leads are the two male characters. Mal is Alina’s childhood friend that she has a crush on. He is a great character and heartbreakingly human in both his mistakes and his triumphs. I really enjoyed reading about him and was a bit disappointed he was out of the story for such a large portion of the book.

The Darkling is the second male character and he is everything his name promises. He is the darkness to Alina’s light magic; he is old, he is powerful, he is sexy, he is dangerous, and mysterious. He is a wonderful character and you have to admire his confidence and his joy when he finds Alina and her Light magic. He is kind of my favorite character, I enjoyed his complexity.

If you are thinking...well great...another YA romance’s really not like that. You’ll have to read it and see but that really isn’t the focus of this book and Alina doesn’t spend time agonizing between the two men.

Another thing I enjoyed was the Grisha culture and society and the magic system that went with it all. It made for a great fantasy and was incredibly interesting to read about.

The book ends at a good spot, but definitely has more that will need to be resolved in future books.

So even though I really enjoyed this book I couldn’t give it five stars. Although this is a good book, Alina is just a bit too simple, there is too much focus on how beautiful all the Grisha are, and the plot itself was a bit too predictable. It was like this book was almost completely wonderful but not quite.

Overall a very unique and engaging fantasy novel. There is a great world, an intriguing magic system, a fast paced plot, some excellent characters, and a little bit of romance too. I definitely recommend to fans of fantasy; especially YA fantasy. Older fantasy fans might find the whole plot a bit simple. I will definitely be reading the next book, Seige and Storm, when it releases.

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

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Showcase and Mailbox Monday for 5/28/12

Hello and welcome to Showcase Sunday. Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

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.

I got three books this week all of them were for review.  No video this week, I am out camping as this releases.

Hope you all got some wonderful books and have a great week of reading!  Also hope you are all doing something super fun over the Memorial Day weekend.

For Review:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Early Review - Night’s Engines (The Nightbound Land, Book 2) by Trent Jamieson (3.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy
Size: 400 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: May 29, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0857661876
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Nightbound Land duology
Source: eARC through
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This is the second book in the Nightbound Land duology. I got an eGallery of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. This is a wildly creative and dark series and this book did a good job of continuing and concluding the events that began in book one.

David and Margaret are in the city of Hardacre and need to journey North to the Great Engine if they are going to have any hope of stopping the Roil from consuming the whole world. David is trying to fight off the infection that Cadell gave him that is turning David into an Old Man, as well as deal with his Carnivale drug habit. Margaret remains addicted to her weapons and will stop at nothing to get David to the Great Engine.

This book is set in an incredibly creative world. Basically you have the Roil, a seething mass of bad things that likes heat and is taking over the world, and you have the humans that fight the Roil (equipped with cold technology weapons). Thrown into all this you have the Old Men, creatures of huge appetite that are incredibly ancient and may (or may not) have the good of humanity in mind.

David and Margaret are more likable as characters in this book than they were in the first book. Sure David is still an addict; but he also fights a constant struggle with being taken over by the Old Man (Cadell) who dwells within him. Margaret is still trigger happy and paranoid, but she is also incredibly loyal to David...or maybe more to the quest of defeating the Roil.

There are other characters sprinkled throughout the story, but the story goes through so many different viewpoints that we never get to know these characters very well. This book isn’t really about characterization, it’s more about a creative world and an eternal struggle against an ever growing enemy.

The book focuses on Margaret and David’s journey, but many parts of the book are from different points of view as well. These different points of view help to show you how different parts of the world are suffering, but they also make the story loose focus a lot of the time. When all was said and done, I failed to see how all these extra bits really contributed to the whole.

Each chapter started with a quote from somewhere, the quote kind of sets the tone for the coming chapters and gives a bit of history.

I had more trouble reading this book than I did the first one. All the viewpoints made the story too scattered. Too much time was spent with David’s constant battle with the Old Man inside of him. Not enough time was spent on fights with the Roil. I was really hoping to learn more about some of the giant Leviathan-like creatures in the Roil and more about the Roil itself, that really wasn’t the focus of this book. The conclusion was also fairly predictable and I wished that there had been some more engaging twists and turns.

The book wraps up well and remains true to the kind of hopeless feel that this whole world has to it.

Overall this is a decent conclusion to this duology. I had some problems with the scattered points of view, while it shows the broader scope of the Roil, it also scattered the story. The story moves slower than the first book and was fairly predictable; the characters are so-so. The thing that is really awesome about this book is the world that is created here; I really wish this book would have focused more on what the Roil was and the creatures in it. I recommend this to fantasy fans who love creative world-building and are interested in a steampunk flavor to their fantasy.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by I am a Reader not a Writer!

My giveaway for this hop is a $10 Amazon Gift Card.  So please fill out the form below to enter.  Also check out all the other great blog participating in this hop below.  Thanks for stopping by!