Saturday, June 30, 2012

News - Book Release for Week 27 (July 1st-7th)


Friday, June 29, 2012

Audiobook Review - Devil’s Kiss (Billi SanGreal, Book 1) by Sarwat Chadda (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Release Date: September 1, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1423119999
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Billi SanGreal series series
Source: Audiobook through
Rating: 3/5 stars

This is one of those book where I initially wanted to read it because I loved the cover, I know I shouldn’t be like that...but it happens. It ended up being an okay urban fantasy with mythology focused around the Knights Templar. I don’t think I will be reading any more books in the series though.

I listened to this on audiobook and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. The narrator’s voice is very gravely and bothered me. The narrator did a decent job of distinguishing between characters and it was always easy to tell who was talking.

Billi is being trained to join the Knights Templar whether she wants to be or not. When an ancient enemy of the Templars shows up seeking a powerful mirror, it is up to the Templars to stop him before he unleashes the tenth plague and kills all of London’s first born children. Billi is forced to face the horrors of being a Templar whether she wants to or not.

The idea of a secret group that protects normal humans from the things that go bump in the night is a very common one for urban fantasy. So the premise of this story isn’t anything special. In this book this is all given a religious twist; you have the Knights Templar basically fighting fallen angels and the Devil. While I am not big into religious themed urban fantasy I did enjoy some of the mythology behind this.

The thing I really didn’t enjoy was Billi. She is a disaster of a character. She whines constantly about how she hates training to be a Templar and how she wants a normal life. She pretty much whines non-stop. I wanted to slap her and yell “get over it already!”

Billi constantly discusses how she’s been trained from a young age to be this deadly fighter. So I was excited to see her in action...that is until I saw her in action. Pretty much every time her skills are put to the test she can’t handle it, screws everything up, and either needs a guy or her dad to come and save her. I mean seriously? This is our kick-butt heroine?

The surrounding characters aren’t much better. Billi’s dad is a jerk, although we learn there is a reason for that. Billi’s “kind of” boyfriend isn’t much better.

In general the story and characters are spooky and gritty. This is definitely one of the more gritty YA urban fantasies I have read; I wish I had enjoyed the premise behind the story and the characters better because the writing style itself was pretty good. Just a warning to those who are squeamish; there are some pretty yucky scenes in here...think worms eating kids from the inside out stuff like that.

Overall this was a so-so read. I liked some of the mythology behind the Templar Knights and I enjoyed the gritty descriptions and writing style. This was more urban fantasy than paranormal romance which I liked; I also enjoyed the London setting. I did not like Billi (she is whiny and incompetent) or any of the other characters. I thought the premise was pretty blah and uncreative. I won’t be reading any more books in this series. Personally I would check out The Demon Trappers series by Jana Oliver instead if you want to read about kick-butt demon slaying in the YA genre.

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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Graphic Novel Review - Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires (5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Children’s
Genre: Graphic Novel/Humor
Size: 64 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Release Date: September 1, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1554537679
Stand Alone or Series: Part of the Binky series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5 stars

I first read Binky the Space Cat with my son last year; we really really enjoyed it. So I was excited when I saw Binky Under Pressure sitting on the shelf in the library. It was another great Binky book.

Binky is still a certified Space Cat but then Gracie shows up. Gracie is an adorable striped kitten and Binky is determined to expose her flaws to the family. During his investigation he finds out a shocking truth about Gracie and all of Binky’s Space Cat skills are tested.

This is an absolutely hilarious and adorable book, suitable to all ages. Binky is funny, witty, a bit accident prone and super cute. My five year old loves this series of books and I love reading them with him.

As with all of these books there is a bit of a message/learning here. Binky learns not to judge a book by its cover and to cope with feelings of jealousy. He also learns how teamwork can save the day.

Overall another great Binky book. Highly recommended for kids and parents who love to read with their kids. This is a funny, cute, and very well done book. If you love graphic novels this is one of those great ones that parents and kids will equally enjoy.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review - The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, Book 2) by Richelle Mead (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Size: 417 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: June 12, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1595143181
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Bloodlines series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the second book in the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. Right now there are six books planned for this series; the third book (The Indigo Spell) is scheduled for a Feb 2013 release. This was a decent continuation of this series. We get to see Sydney learn more about magic and watch as she copes with all of the vamps surrounding her.

Sydney is still at school trying to manage Jill’s safety. The vamps in the story are conducting some testing on Dimitri to see how his blood is different from other vamps. There is a lot of high school drama going on about who loves who and Sydney goes on her first date with a guy who seems to be the perfect match for her. The stakes are upped when one of the vamps is kidnapped by a group of Vampire Hunters and only the Alchmist’s ages old connection with the group allows Sydney to help out.

I enjoyed this book but when I sit down to think about what actually happened in this book, well not much happens. The first two-thirds of the book deals with Sydney trying to get through her day to day life. She finds a boy just like her (really smart and socially inept) and starts dating. She has a lot of tense scenes between her and Adrian. She tries to comfort Eddie as Jill continues to date a human. She tries to protect Eddie from Angeline’s unwanted advances. As I said lots of teenage high school drama stuff.

This book really start to get interesting when the Vampire Hunters enter the story. We got hints of this in the first book, Clarence the old vamp who everyone thinks is crazy has been paranoid about Vampire hunters from day one. The history behind this group and the way it ties into the Alchemists history is really interesting.

As the situation gets more dire Sydney has to face up to the fact that she is just never going to be a real physical fighter. In light of this she starts to investigate the magical abilities that first showed up in Bloodlines. This was another incredibly interesting part of the story and I can’t wait to see where this goes.

I enjoy Sydney as a character she is sooo different from Rose; she is smart, socially awkward, and just a bit blind when it comes to Adrian’s feelings. The tension between Sydney and Adrian definitely goes up a notch in this book. The scenes between these two were wonderful; but the way Sydney struggles between the Alchemists’ beliefs and her love for her friends is heartbreaking at times.

The book ties up nicely and adds a lot of interesting elements to the world. Mead is a very good writer; her writing is easy to read and in general very well done.

Overall a pretty darn good book. Not much happens in the beginning, we just follow Sydney around as she tries to cope with everything she needs to do; it was fun to read but didn’t advance the story a ton. The last third of the book though was incredible; lots more about vampire hunters, about Sydney’s magic, and some wonderful scenes between Adrian and Sydney. Highly recommended for fans of the Vampire Academy series and for fans of paranormal YA books. I can’t wait to see what happens in The Indigo Spell.

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

Waiting on Wednesday - 6/27/12

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

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is Gunmetal Magic: A Novel in the World of Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews

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

Release Date: July 31st, 2012
Publisher: Ace
Length: 448 pages
ISBN: 978-0425256138

Synopsis from
Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea's former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate ... and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Graphic Novel Review - Kind (The Good Neighbors, Book 3) by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (3.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel/Urban Fantasy
Size: 128 pages
Publisher: GRAPHIX
Release Date: October 1, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0439855679
Stand Alone or Series: 3rd book in the Good Neighbors series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This is the third and final book in The Good Neighbors graphic novel series by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh. It was a decent, if abrupt ending to the series. I enjoyed learning how Rue dealt with all of the issues facing her.

The land of fairy has taken over Rue’s city. Rue has to decide if she will take her place by her mother’s side and rule in Fairy or if she will try to save the city she loves. Rue is not human, so is it her responsibility to try and save humanity?

I enjoyed the story; it was interesting to watch Rue try to reconcile her new identity with her past life. She is torn between helping her human friends and taking her place as heir to the Fairy throne. There is a bit of mystery as she tries to find a way to save the city from Fairy.

Everything is tied up very well, but the pacing is a bit off throughout the book. The story develops well in the first half and then bam! the ending is abrupt and kind of slaps the reader in the face. I was left feeling a bit startled and kind of thinking “wow that was tied up quickly”. It seemed like a lot of build up for such a simple and abrupt solution.

The characters were so-so; there are a lot of them in the story and I never became all that attached to them. The drawing does a good job of distinguishing between characters and showing facial expressions. The story is drawn in black and white and decently done; it conveyed the surroundings well and did a good job of helping the story along. I wouldn’t say the illustration is beautiful or awe-inspiring but it is okay.

Overall a decent conclusion to this series. I liked that all the loose ends were tied up, but felt like the story ended very abruptly. I never engaged with the characters very well and felt like the pacing was off. Still if you have read the first two books in the series, I would go ahead and read this one as it provides a satisfying ending. I tentatively recommend this series to those who enjoy urban fantasy stories.

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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review - Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (4.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Cyberpunk
Size: 320 pages
Publisher: Grove Press
Release Date: June 19, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0802120205
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program for review. This was a creative and interesting book that combines mythology, cyberpunk, and political activism.

Alif is the name for a young Arab-Indian hacker who generally spends his days protecting his clients from surveillance and censoring. Alif has also fallen in love with young aristocratic woman. Suddenly things fall apart for Alif; his lover spurns him and the State agency known as the Hand infiltrates his system. Alif ends up on the run. He meets with his lover one last time and she gives his a strange book. Who knew that Djinn really existed? Alif is forced to flee through both our world and a magical one as he tries to stop the Hand from destroying both his work and that of his friends.

This book reminds a lot of previous books you might have read; but is a unique combination of all of these books. There is a bit of Gaiman’s Neverwhere in here in how the city of the djinn is hidden within Alif’s city, there are also the quirky characters and flight from unknown evil. There is a bit of Stephenson’s Snow Crash in here as well, which shows in the hacking sequences and in the rebellion towards the government. This story is part mythology, part cyberpunk, and part political statement all set in the Middle East.

That being said it was different than anything I have ever read before. It gave some interesting incite into Middle Eastern politics and culture. At the same time it also references some unique mythology from that region. This is not a book you read quickly, this is a book that you need to think times it gets a bit dense.

This is a creative story, as I said I’ve never read anything like this before. The characters are all pretty good and interesting; although this is more a plot driven story than a character driven one. I don’t know a ton about the Middle East and it was incredibly interesting how the culture was blended in to the rest of the story. Practical issues, like how women eat around their veils, were mentioned in the telling; there are just a lot of interesting cultural things that I never really considered before.

Additionally this story bluntly discusses a lot of other issues in the Middle East region; repression, sexism, censorship, corruption, and separation of social casts. This ended up making the story somewhat educational, despite the fact it is a fantasy.

This is also a wonderful fantasy/urban fantasy. Alif walks in and out of the world of the djinn; it is an interesting concept and an unique world. I love how Alif discovers a new way to program that he believes he has learned from the djinn’s book of stories.

My only complaints would be at times the book is a bit dense and towards the middle-end of the book I thought the pacing was a bit slow. Also, although the characters are fairly well done, they weren’t characters that totally engaged me and pulled me into the story. They were interesting, but I never really cared a lot about them.

Overall an excellent urban fantasy/cyberpunk/political story. This book is unlike anything I have ever read before. I loved how Middle Eastern culture was blended into this fantasy and how we get to see some scenes of every day life. I loved even more that the mythology of this region was highly incorporated into this story. Then of course there were the glorious hacker scenes; where it is code against code to see who saves the world. My only complaints are that the story is dense (which makes it a slow read at times) and the characters were decent, yet not highly compelling. Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy/cyberpunk or for those who are just interesting in Middle Eastern culture.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Showcase and Mailbox Monday - 6/25/12

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.

This week I got 3 books.  I tried to do a video but my Chromebook was updated and can't access my webcam for some reason; yes I went into the plugins and enabled Flash.  Any ideas on fixing this please leave them below.

You can see more info on the two books I got below.  Hope you all got some great books and have a wonderful week of reading!

For Review: