Friday, August 31, 2012

Review - Forbidden by Syrie and Ryan James (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Size: 416 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 24, 2012
ISBN: 978-0062027894
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in a series
Source: Book from Publisher for Review
Rating: 3/5 stars


I got a copy of this book from the publisher for review. This is the first book in a series; I haven’t been able to find info on future books in this series. It was okay, a pretty typical YA paranormal book...nothing special but decently written.

Claire is finally starting to fit in at her high school, she’s been there two years which is the longest her and her mom have stayed in one place...ever. Now she’s started having strange psychic visions and she is sure as heck not going to tell her mother about them. Alec is sick of hunting down angelic rejects and is trying to take a break from his job by hanging out as a teenager at the very school Claire is going to. Alec and Claire immediately have a connection to each other, little do they know that their love is forbidden because of what Claire and Alec are.

This is a pretty typical paranormal YA book about a girl who finds out she is part angel. It even comes complete with love triangle and star-crossed love.

Both Alec and Claire are very stereotypical paranormal YA characters. Both characters were okay, but weren’t all that engaging to me. I am hard-pressed to describe Claire after reading the book, she just blends in with a million other mediocre YA heroines out there. I also didn’t really enjoy how much of the book took place in a high school type setting and dealt with teen angst type issues.

The plot is okay, but fairly predictable. The writing style is decent but nothing special. Pretty much this whole book is mediocre. There is some mythos behind the angels’ origins, but the world isn’t set up all that well and it is never really expanded on.

Overall an okay story but nothing special. I would personally recommend Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly series over this one; Unearthly is a truly spectacular YA paranormal book focusing on angels and is much better written than this one. I probably won’t be reading any more of this series, just because it didn’t really stand out for me.

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Audiobook Review - Biting Cold (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 6) by Chloe Neill (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade
Release Date: August 7, 2012
ISBN: 978-0451237019
Stand Alone or Series: 6th book in the Chicagoland Vampires series
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 4/5 stars

I listened to this book on audiobook and have a lot to say about the new narrator (not positive). Anyway this is the sixth book in the Chicagoland Vampires series and it was a solid continuation of the series.

I need to comment on the narrator change in this audiobook first. The narrator change was horrible; all the characters fail to sound like themselves and all the voices for male characters sound the same. Merit sounds much drier and less emotional than in previous books; like a pale ghost of her fiery self. Why did they have to switch narrators? If they keep this narrator for future books I will no longer be listening to these on audiobooks. Such a disappointment; these were such great audiobooks....

This book follows up on a lot of issues that started in the last book. Ethan is dealing with Mal being stuck in his head and Ethan and Merit are trying to cobble together a new relationship. Things get even worse when Tate consumes all the evil in the world and goes rogue. Ethan's house is also under investigation by the vampire GP and they are threatening to kick the house out of the GP. So a lot is going on and it is up to Merit to deal with it all.

Merit and Ethan continue to have an on again, off again type of relationship and this drove me crazy. I wish they would just decide what they want and get on with the story. That being said there are some very good scenes between the two.

Mal is trying to kick her addiction to black magic. I am not sure how I feel about the whole Mal storyline; it is so sad to see her degraded from the sparkly and happy person she was earlier in the series. She makes some progress in this book to kicking her black magic addiction, but not a ton. It will be interesting to see how this storyline goes.

It was incredibly interesting to finally have the Tate storyline expanded on. We learn a ton about what Tate is and his history and that was fascinating.

We also finally get some incredibly interesting resolution around Cadogan’s status as a House. I am hoping that we can finally move past this whole political issue and get on to a different storyline.

These books are a bit hard to review because they are so connected to each other. You definitely need to read previous books in the series or you will be totally lost. There are a lot of little storylines going on here and because of that the story progresses, but slowly.

I still enjoyed the story and hope that the Ethan/Merit drama can be set aside for a while in the next book. The ending was exciting and I am eager to see how some of Cadogan Houses’s decisions play out in the next book. The book ends on a very positive note; which was nice to finally have happen in this series.

Overall I enjoyed this addition to the series. We get some resolution around the Mallory issue and around Ethan/Merit. This book ties up a lot of things and sets up some interesting new storylines. The ending is spectacular and I am eager to see where the series goes next. This was a bit of a transition novel and it tidies up a lot of the loose ends from the last couple books. I definitely recommend this series to fans of vampire urban fantasy.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Early Review - The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Gothic/Steampunk
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-0545327862
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Dark Unwinding series
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was a simple, yet well done story that had a gothic/steampunk feel to it. I really enjoyed reading it.

Katharine is sent by her rather unkind aunt to her old uncle’s dark and gloomy mansion; her purpose is to prove that her uncle is mentally unfit. Upon her arrival she finds big secrets in the creepy old house and the village surrounding it.

This was a quick and fun read. The book has kind of a gothic Victorian/steampunk/mystery feel to it. The house she is sent to is very dark and gloomy; the people who tend the house are quirky and mysterious.

I loved how the mysteries behind the house and the village surrounding it are slowly revealed to Katharine and at how she struggles with whether or not to reveal the secrets to her unlikable Aunt.

Katharine was an excellent heroine who was smart, gutsy, and fun to read about. She carefully considers her options and really steps up to the challenges that come to face her. There is a small amount of romance in the story as she comes to better know her uncle’s apprentice Lane.

The steampunk portion of the story is mainly focused on the interesting clockwork contraptions her uncle makes. That was really it for steampunk; the story is much more Victorian in feel than steampunk.

There are some interesting questions raised about madness versus genius; but outside of that this isn’t really a book that involves a lot of deep thought. The plot is well done with some unexpected twists and turns that will definitely keep the reader engaged and interested.

Although the book isn't anything absolutely spectacular it was a fun, quick read and is very well written. I found it very engaging and read the whole book in one day.

Overall this was a great, yet simple, story. I enjoyed the subject, the mystery, the setting, and the characters. Katharine was an excellent heroine and I enjoyed the way she interacted with the world and characters around her. This is a beautifully written Victorian mystery with a dash of steampunk flavor. Highly recommended to those who enjoy Victorian mysteries. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

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

Waiting on Wednesday - 8/29/12



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

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is Out for Blood (House of ComarrĂ©, Book 4) by Kristen Painter
.  Click on the image to go to Amazon and read more about this book.


Out for Blood (House of Comarré, Book 4) by Kristen Painter
Release Date: July 31st, 2012
Publisher: Ace
Length: 448 pages
ISBN: 978-0425256138

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:
After nearly dying at the hands of the Aurelian, Chrysabelle finds new determination to move beyond life as a comarré. That is until the Kubai Mata bring a new task to her doorstep: rescue the child Tatiana has kidnapped, or Mal becomes enemy number one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review - Gold by Chris Cleave (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Comtemporary Fiction
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: July 3, 2012
ISBN: 978-1451672725
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars


I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. It was a very engaging book that was hard to put down; but there were parts I didn’t enjoy. I also thought everything was a bit too tidily tied up for this to be an accurate representation of real life.

This is a story about three cyclists on their way to the Olympics. Kate, Zoe, and Jack meet at nineteen years of age during a training camp. They are all exceptional cyclists...they are all seemingly destined for Gold. Kate and Jack marry and Zoe remains competitive and alone. As the years go on things change. Kate misses her first chance at Gold when she has to stay home with her newborn girl. Kate misses her second chance when her daughter is diagnosed with Leukemia right before Kate’s race. Year pass and now it is time for Kate’s third and final chance to go to the Olympics. Will Kate and Zoe finally be able to meet up in an Olympic competition?

This ends up being a story about family versus competition. It is also the story about how one woman can ruin a lot of people’s lives. There are parts in this story that are very engaging and heartfelt and parts that just felt totally wrong. The story itself is told in both the past and present; we hear bits of both past and present from Kate, Zoe, Sophie, Jack and their coach.

Kate and Zoe are interesting and contrasting characters. Kate is naturally more talented but constantly puts others before herself. She is very Pollyanna in character and I absolutely could not understand how she got as far in competition as she had. She pretty much lets everyone walk all over her constantly. You can tell I didn’t really enjoy her as a character; although she did have to make some tough decisions and my heart went out to her at points in the book.

Zoe is an impossible character to like. She is competitive to the point of obsession. Her and Kate are supposedly friends, but even Zoe’s acts of friendship have a motive behind them. Zoe is truly one of the most destructive characters I have ever read about; she destroys everything.

Jack is another character that ends up being very hard to like. As secrets between the three characters unfold you find that Jack has made some very bad decisions in his past that have had huge consequences.

The most likable character of the bunch is Kate’s daughter, Sophie. Sophie is battling a horrible illness and constantly dreams that she is living in a Star Wars world; some of these scenes are heartbreaking but some of them are highly amusing. Watching how much effort Sophie puts into making sure her parents don’t worry too much about her is thought-provoking and again heartbreaking at times. Sophie is by far the most interesting character in this book.

There is a lot of drama in this book which I am not a huge fan of; think Lifetime type of drama. I did however enjoy the discussion of professional cycling and all the training the athletes went through. I myself am a biker and really enjoyed learning about what these athletes went through daily to keep themselves in Olympic condition.

The book ends up being engaging because it is propelled forward by two questions: will Sophie get better and will Kate go to the Olympics. The plot has a huge twist in the middle that was somewhat predictable.

Things are tied up in such a tidy and happy way, that the ending felt contrived and fake. After all the emotional turmoil throughout the book the ending felt completely false.

So, did I enjoy the book? Well I found it hard to put down and really wanted to know what was going to happen to Sophie. I however did not like the characters much; Jack, Zoe and the coach are incredibly selfish human beings who have made horrible life decisions. Kate is completely boring and hard to admire at all because she has no backbone. The plot was contrived, predictable and everything was tied up in a way that felt fake.

Overall this was an okay read. Those who are into the Lifetime drama sort of literature might enjoy this book. Also those who are into cycling might find some of the discussion around the sport interesting. I found it an engaging read, but still didn’t enjoy it much. Too much drama, characters that were hard to enjoy reading about, and a plot that was tied up in a way that felt very false.

I have heard Cleave’s book Little Bee is much better than this one, but after reading this one I am not eager to read anymore of Cleave’s books.

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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Early Review - In a Fix (Ciel Halligan, Book 1) by Linda Grimes (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: September 4, 2012
ISBN: 978-0765331809
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Ciel Halligan series
Source: eGalley from netgalley.com
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. It was a pretty typical humorous paranormal romance. The idea behind the main character being able to take the form of anyone is interesting and lead to a lot of mistaken identity type situations.

Ciel is an aura adapter, she can assume the aura (shape, appearance, smell, everything) of any person she’s touched. She uses this to run a business where she does things for her client that they don’t want to do. She is out snagging a marriage proposal for one of her clients when things go crazily wrong. Her client’s fiance’ to be is snatched by modern day Vikings and Ciel is forced to call in fellow aura adapters, Billy and Mark to help her out.

This is a funny and cute paranormal romance story. This story is Molly Harperish in humor but with more investigation and some cool aura magic. This story was pretty much a basic conspiracy/crime investigation type of story. The twist is that some of the characters can take on the appearance/aura of other characters; so there is a lot of “case of mistaken identity” shenanigans.

I thought the Viking part sounded cool in the synopsis. In reality it’s not as cool as it sounds. There are a bunch of Vikings who are trying to promote their own masculinity and they have a pretty silly and contrived scheme to do this. This is the backbone of the plot and it is a very goofy plot that doesn’t make much sense.

The characters are what you would expect in a light-hearted PNR. Ciel is a bit klutzy and a bit dorky; but for some reason the guys around her think she is totally hot. Billy is a womanizer who teases Ciel a lot and is kind of goofy around her. Mark is more serious and treats Ciel like a little sister. Ciel has the hots for them both. Then a Viking Neil enters the scene....of course Ciel has the hots for him too. So much of this book is dedicated to Ciel dealing with her love...square?

The ability of the characters to switch who they are is hilarious at times. The book is decently written and an easy read.

Overall this was an okay book. The characters are fairly stereotypical of characters found in this type of book; goofy/funny female lead and the hot men who are inexplicably attracted to her. The plot was just plain old silly...a bit too silly for me. The story had a heavy dose of both romance and investigative crime/conspiracy. Tentatively recommended to fans of light and silly paranormal romance. I personally enjoy Molly Harper’s books more; but this was a decent book with a similar type of tone to it.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Showcase and Mailbox Monday - 8/27/12


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 six books all of them are for review.  You can learn more in the video below or click on the below pictures for more info.



For Review
     

Saturday, August 25, 2012

News - Book Releases for Week 35 (Aug 26th - Sept 1st)