Friday, November 30, 2012

Audiobook Review - Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 2) by Laini Taylor (2.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 528 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 6, 2012
ISBN: 978-0316133975
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series
Source: Audiobook from
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. A third book is scheduled to be published in 2013. I really did not enjoy this book as much as the first book in the series, it was just so scattered and depressing. Definitely don’t start with this book, start with The Daughter of Smoke and Bone or you will be totally lost.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was decent. The narrator captured different character voices well and was easy to follow. It wasn’t a spectacular audiobook but it was good enough.

Karou is still in shock from events in the last book and is using her resurrection skills to help the White Wolf, Thiago, rebuild a new and more gruesome army of Chimera to battle the angels and seek revenge. Akiva believes Karou is dead and is doing his best to atone for all the damage he did to the Chimera by diverting and undercutting some of the Angelic attacks he leads.

I had a lot of problems with this book. The constant POV switching kind of gave me whiplash and really broke up the story. The other thing that fractures the story is the erratic time changes and jumping around. Taylor will leave an event hanging and then come back some time in the future to resume that character's POV, then she'll have them go back to explain what happened in the gap after they've been telling the story in the current time. It makes for kind of a fractured mess.

The descriptions are still beautifully written at points and the world very detailed and creative. This world has become epic and massive. We end up reading about a lot of politics in both the Chimera and Angelic regions.

I still am having trouble enjoying Karou and Akiva as characters. Karou is so passive and makes the glaring error of never trying to leverage the service only she can provide to bargain with Thiago. She spends a good 3/4’s of the book whining and being inactive; when she does take action it is to destroy and distance those around her.

Akiva is a bit better, at least he is trying to help save lives throughout the book. Still it takes him a good 3/4’s of the way through the book to actually take decisive action. He is still way too emotional and angsty for me.

The two characters that really lighten, and at times made, the story for me were Zusana and Mik. Zusana and Mik do bring some light and fun to the story. They are both way more interesting than Akiva and Karou and a lot more fun to read about. I am still not entirely sure what the purpose of them being in the story was, but I do think the story was better for their presence in it.

Things are so dark and so violent in the story that at times I felt like the violence was more than actually necessary. This is one bleak story, so don't come to this book looking for anything even remotely uplifting. It is truly the most depressing book I have read this year. Some scenes are so violent and emotionally wrenching that they actually made my stomach turn. There is also an attempted rape scene that is very violent, so just a heads up.

Taylor over explains a lot of the characters emotions as well. It comes off as patronizing at points. As a reader we understand that the tears a character is shedding means they are sad; we don’t need the fact that they are sad spelled out in multiple sentences following the fact. There are a number of places in the book where I felt like things were over-explained and ended up rolling my eyes and thinking “okay I get it already. let’s get on with the story”.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, like the last one. Again I am not a fan of cliffhangers...I think books should have some sort of resolution so that readers come back to read a series because they enjoy the author’s writing and the story.

Overall I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I guess I didn’t realize how much I disliked this book until I sat down to write the review. I really don’t have much positive to say about it. I do think Taylor’s writing is beautiful at points and I think the world she has created is incredibly creative. I have problems with the bleakness of the story, the inactivity of the lead characters, and the way the multiple POVs and jumps in time fracture the story. By the end of the book I thought the whole thing was kind of a mess and really didn’t care at all what happened to these characters. Given all of my problems with this story I probably won’t read the final installment in this series.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gratitude Giveaway Hop Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop!  The winner of the Amazon Gift Card was:


Thanks again for following.  There were 324 entries into this giveaway and the winner was chosen using

Review - Skylanders Adventures: The Machine of Doom by Cavan Scott (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Children’s/Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 160 pages
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Release Date: September 6, 2012
ISBN: 978-0448461847
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Skylanders Adventures series
Source: Gift (for my son)
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the first in a series of books featuring the Skylanders video game characters. It’s a beginning chapter book and has lots of well done pictures.

Spyro and crew go on a quest to recover the Chattering Key in hopes of getting to the Machine of Doom before Kaos does. Along the way they run into perils like stone wyverns, mushrooms of despair, and of course the Machine of Doom.

My 5 year old son is a huge Skylanders fan and was desperate to get this book. I was worried that this was on of “those books” know the ones. Horribly written, horrible to read and only selling because it is a Skylanders theme book. I really wasn't expecting much since these types of books are usually poorly written. Imagine my surprise when this ended up being a very entertaining, fantasy-quest type of book.

The writing was well done; full of witty comments and clever word phrasing that made both me and my son laugh out loud. There are a number of places where silly strings of alliteration are used in very clever ways. The writing isn’t dumbed down for kids and uses some big words and some excellent description. Yes, we had to stop a few times to discuss what a word meant, but I am all good with that considering that my son is getting to learn some new words.

There is a lot of humor in here, some awesome action, and lots of teamwork between Spyro and his friends. There are even some surprising twists to the story and a decently thought-out plot.

The story is a good one; Spyro, Eruptor, and Gill Grunt go on a quest to recover the Chattering Key and get to the Machine of Doom before Kaos does. Along the way the solve puzzles and outwit the bad guys.

There are many black and white pictures throughout the book as well. These were very well done and often very humorous. The book is printed in a larger and unique font that made it fun and easy to read.

Overall this book way, way better quality than other books I've read that are knock-offs of game or toy lines. Highly recommended for fans of the Skylanders realm. This is a well written and fun story, that is actually enjoyable to read. Hopefully future books in this series are just as good as this one...then instead of groaning about having to read my son another cheap, poorly done book based on a game, I can actually look forward to the cool illustrations, fun humor, and a plot!

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review - Rise of Empire (Riyria Revelations Omnibus Edition, Book 2) by Michael Sullivan (5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 816 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: December 14, 2011
ISBN: 978-0316187701
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Riyria Revelations Omnibus series (originally books 3-4)
Source: eGalley from NetGalley(dot)com
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the second book in the Omnibus editions of the Riyria Revelations and includes books 3, Nyphron Rising, and 4, The Emerald Storm, from the original series. There is one more omnibus edition that ties up this series, The Heir of Novron. I got a copy of this to review through netgalley(dot)com; thanks to Orbit and Netgalley for making review copies available. This was a great addition to the series and I think if you enjoy epic fantasy you will enjoy this book.

In Nyphron Rising Royce seeks to uncover more about Hadrian’s past and Hadrian is full of doubt about continuing his work as a thief. The princess hires them to help her travel to a neighboring kingdom to seek an alliance. Along the way they discover more about Hadrian’s origins and his past. The princess also comes into her own when she plots to get Nationalist help to save a city that is about to be taken over by the Empire. We also get to see Thrace serving as a figurehead Empress and see how she struggles with the aftermath of the events that occurred in the last book.

In The Emerald Storm Arista is struggling to run Ratibor when Ersahaddon shows up demanding she help him. When Ersahaddon is murdered Arista is left with an urgent mission to find the Heir of Novron and to find the Horn of Gylindora. Hadrian and Royce take on one last job, they are to board the ship the Emerald Storm and gather intel for the Prince.

This is a very well written and enjoyable epic fantasy. This book tended more towards epic fantasy than the first book. The first book was a bit more high fantasy or swords and sorcery. There are a lot of different plot threads going on and we hear from many different groups of characters. The story is truly epic at this point; it stretches across many nations and the actions the main characters take have repercussions that are felt across kingdoms.

The best part about this series is that there are both strong female and male characters here. This is combines with a wonderfully complex, yet easy to follow, plot.

Hadrian and Royce continue to play a large part in the story. Hadrian finds out a lot about his past in this book and struggles with the cause he thinks he should be living for. Hadrian is sick of being a thief and wants something more. Royce softens some in this book, he spends a lot of time with Gwen and seems ready to settle down with her. He is still one kick-butt thief and killer, but we see another side to him as well.

The characters that really come into their own in this installment are Arista and Thrace. Arista makes huge strides in her leadership ability and undergoes a lot of hardship in this story. As the last living sorcerer she has a lot of responsibility thrust upon her and she handles it admirably. Thrace spends a good portion of the Nyphorn Rising in a kind of exhausted stupor, but as her story continues in The Emerald Storm she really begins to show potential to grow into her position as Empress.

Much is revealed about the Heir of Novron but much is also still a mystery. There are a number of well done side characters that add a lot to the story as well. We are finding that things are going on in the background that our intrepid adventurers are unaware of. I am sure all of these things will culminate in the final book.

The book is very easy to read and well written. There is a lot of humor throughout which makes it a fun read. I am amazed at how complex the story is and yet how easy it is to follow. There are a lot of names in here but I never had trouble keeping track of the characters so kudos to Sullivan for that. There is also an index of characters and maps included in the book.

Overall I really enjoyed this book a lot and highly recommend it to fantasy fans. If you enjoy Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, etc I think you will really enjoy this series. This book is more epic fantasy than the first one is, but there is still a lot of adventure and action mixed in with all of the intrigue and politics. This whole series is highly recommended.

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

Waiting on Wednesday - 11/28/12

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

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is
Click on the image to go to Amazon and read more about this book.

Asunder (Incarnate) by Jodi Meadows
Release Date: January 29th, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Length: 416 pages
ISBN: 978-0062060785

Synopsis from
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Graphic Novel Review - Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires (4.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Cihildren’s
Genre: Graphic Novel/Humor
Size: 64 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press, Ltd.
Release Date: September 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1554537686
Stand Alone or Series: 4th book in the Binky series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This is the 4th book in the Binky the Space cat children’s graphic novel series. This was a cute installment in the series and my son and I really enjoyed reading it together.

Binky has been authorized to train in other space cats. He is excited to welcome his new cadet and has worked very hard on a training program. When his cadet shows up though he is nothing like Binky thought he would fact Binky thinks he might even be an alien spy!

These books are super fun. The drawings are humorous, well-done, and adorable all at the same time. If you love cats you will love Binky the Space cat. The whole premise of these books is that Binky thinks his house is a space ship, insects are aliens, and outside the house is space. He is on a mission to protect his humans from the evil aliens.

There’s a great little mystery here as Binky and his neighboring space cat try to figure out what’s up with this new cadet. Along the way the cats learn a lesson in tolerance. They learn that people can be good at different things and that you should accept people for who they are and allow them to contribute to a cause in their own way.

These are well written graphic novels that are entertaining for both adults and kids. I highly recommend them; especially if you have a kid that’s a fan of cats.

Overall a great installment in the Binky series. The illustration is well done and the story is full of twists and turns. Binky is funny but always well-meaning and his mission to save humans from all aliens is one to be admired. Recommended to cat fans of all ages.

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

Monday, November 26, 2012

Early Review - Trapped (Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 5) by Kevin Hearne (5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 320 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: November 27, 2012
ISBN: 978-0345533647
Stand Alone or Series: 5th book in the Iron Druid Chronicles series
Source: eBook through
Rating: 5/5 stars

Thank to netgalley(dot)com and Del Ray for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is the fifth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles. The sixth book will be called, Hunted, and is scheduled for a 2013 release. This was an excellent addition to this highly entertaining series and a lot of things come to a head in this book.

Granuaile is finally done with her druid training and ready to be bound to the earth, but Loki has been freed and is disrupting travel through the planes. As a result the only place Atticus can bind Granuaile is right outside of Olympus. Atticus and Grauaile end up dodging Bacchus, dark elves, and vamps dressed as clowns. They need to figure out what is going on if Atticus is ever going to get Granuaile's binding finished.

This was a very fast paced story with lots of wonderful mythology. This book ties up some loose ends from previous books while starting some new storylines as well. As usual with these books there is a ton of humor.

This book starts out twelve years after the last one ended. This was an awesome decision on Hearne’s part because that’s just a blink of an eye in Atticus’s life and we get to pick up right where Granuaile has finished all of her druidic training.

Atticus has made a lot of enemies in his long life and this is the book where he finally has to pay for some of those bad decisions. He faces off with Bacchus and ends up involved with Leif again as well. In addition to that we are introduced to the super mysterious and creepy dark elves. Yep, Atticus has been blaming Dark Elves for everything bad that happens for a large part of his they are here to make him pay the piper.

Atticus does have some good growth as a character. He is learning to stand back and let Granuaile make her own decisions. He also finally confesses his feelings about Granuaile too.

Granuaile has some amazing character growth in this novel too. Granuaile has changed in the years that she’s been training, while still staying the same witty and intelligent character she’s always been. Now she can kick some serious butt as well, she makes some awesome decisions, and she doesn’t stand for any of Atticus’s crap. She’s with Atticus because she respects him and loves him, not because she needs him to protect her. She adds a lot of fun to the story and is completely deadly with a knife...

Oberon is here as well and continues to drive some incredibly funny and witty dialogue.

The beginning of the story consists of Granuaile and Atticus dodging a lot of their enemies while they try to finish Granuaile’s binding to Gaia. In this part there are a lot of things happening that don’t seem related. As the story continues Hearne does an excellent job of bringing all of these story threads together. Many things from previous books are resolved, while many new story lines are started. Of course hanging over everything is the question of when Ragnarok will happen.

There is a ton of mythology in this book; Norse, Greek, and well as a good dose of adventures in faerie land. I continue to enjoy the Norse gods the most, the story of why they want revenge on Atticus is the most relevant. The Greek Gods are less engaging, but still add a bit of fun to the plot.

Overall a wonderful addition to this series. Lots of action and humor, as well as character growth. It was great to see Granuaile come into her own and I continue to really enjoy the mythology woven into the story. The story is fast-paced, creative, and well thought out. This whole series is highly recommended to urban fantasy fans. I would definitely recommend starting with the first book of the series, because all of these books are pretty awesome.

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Showcase Sunday and Mailbox Monday - 11/26/12

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 two books.  You can also click on the pics below to go to Amazon for a synopsis.

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



Saturday, November 24, 2012