Friday, May 31, 2013

DNF Early Review - Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, Book 1) by Richelle Mead (2/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Size: 464 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Release Date: June 4, 2013
ISBN: 978-0525953685
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Age of X series
Source: eGalley from Edelweiss
Rating: 2/5 stars

I got a copy of this book to review through Edelweiss. Thanks to Dutton Adult and Edelweiss for allowing me the chance to read and review this book. I've pretty much love everything else Mead's written; from her YA to her other adult works (excluding her Dark Swan series). That being said I was very excited to read this book. Unfortunately this book was a bit flop for me. Pretty much everything about it was sloppy, confusing, and just not at all well done.

I read about 40% of this book and ended up setting it aside. This is the third time I've sat down to try and read this book and it's just been a struggle for me. I have too many books to read and review to waste time struggling through a book like this.

The story is told from two main viewpoints. The first is that of Mae, she works for RUNA, and is being sent on a mission to Panama as a break from her normal duties. She recently lost her partner and is having trouble coping so RUNA decided a change of pace would be good for her. The second point of view is that of Justin March, a man who has been exiled to Panama for unknown reasons. He is the man Mae is sent to interact with. Together they are supposed to solve a series of murders that are happening in RUNA territory. There is a third POV that of a younger girl whose name I forget.

Let me start by saying that I'm not a big sci-fi fan anyway, and this is definitely a sci-fi type world. So, yeah I guess I should just let you know that. I do love some sci-fi, for example Scalzi writes some wonderfully entertaining stuff. My problem with a lot of sci-fi is that the world throws a ton of unknowns at you and never explains them. You are expected to struggle through and figure out what all this terminology means. This book definitely suffers from that. Mae works for RUNA (at 40% through the book I still don’t know what that’s an acronym for). There is also a sect called EA (it seemed to be some sort of Asian conglomerate). None of this is explained, it’s all kind of confusing and to be honest not all that interesting.

The characters are just as difficult to engage with. Mae is some sort of drug-enhanced fighter. Apparently this makes her edgy...she likes to hit things and have sex to take off the edge. Yet she somehow manages to come off as prissy, elitist, and boring.

Justin is incredibly confusing, I finally figured out that all of the characters he talked to were in his head...I think. Pretty much his POV starts out with him talking to all these people in italics and the people don’t seem to be people that anyone besides Justin can see. So yeah, very confusing. Justin likes to do addictive things like drugs, drink, smoke, and have sex with a different woman every night. I didn’t really like him and didn’t really want to know more about him.

I think Justin and Mae are supposed to be love interests to each other but am not sure. They are sleeping together after a drink at the bar and then hating each other for it very early on in the story. They have absolutely no chemistry together and were absolutely flat as a couple.

The most interesting character of the bunch was the young girl that moves from Panama with Justin in order get a good education at a RUNA university...and I can’t even remember her name because she just wasn’t in the story much.

The story was such a wandering and meandering mess that the whole murder investigation plot wasn’t dealt with all that much in the first 40% of the book. Justin and Mae do some investigating and then the story gets weirder with Justin seeing visions of flowers over Mae’s head. There are also strange people threatening Justin about the Gods and the evil people...but this isn’t ever really explained well and just makes the story a bigger and longer mess.

I finally just gave up on this. The story was meandering and a mess, the characters were not at all engaging. I tried, I really did. I have no idea where this story was going or why. I kind of was beginning to think this was some kind of joke to see what Mead’s readers will tolerate given her past successes.

Overall this was not a good read, I just couldn’t finish it. The world is confusing, the characters are numerous and confusing. Worst of all I just didn't find it engaging enough to work through all the confusion and actually care. I just can’t recommend this book. Check out Mead’s Vampire Academy series if you like paranormal YA, that’s a good read. Check out her Georgina Kincaid series for a decent adult paranormal read. Skip the Dark Swan series and skip this one.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Audiobook Review - The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus, Book 1) by Rick Riordan (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 576 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Release Date: April 3, 2012
ISBN: 978-1423113461
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Heroes of Olympus series
Source: Audiobook through
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the first book in the Heroes of Olympus series by Riordan. There are five books planned for this series, the series is a spin-off from the Percy Jackson series and takes place after the last Percy Jackson book. I enjoyed the book, it was well done. If you enjoyed the Percy Jackson series I think you would enjoy this book as well. You don’t have to read the Percy Jackson series to understand what is going on in this book, however that series does provide a lot of excellent background for this new series.

I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it. The narrator did an excellent job with the different character voices and with conveying the characters’ emotions. This book uses a different narrator than the Percy Jackson series which was a good idea for starting a new series like this. I would definitely recommend listening to this on audiobook if you enjoy audiobooks.

The book is told from three points of view. Jason, Piper, and Leo all go to the Wilderness School for troubled children. Jason, however, has no memory of how he got there or who he is. Piper is the daughter of a famous actor and has a secret of her own. Leo can build things, pretty much out of nothing. All three of them end up at Camp Half-Blood and are sent on quest to help the Gods face a new and dangerous enemy.

This book was a solid addition to the extended Percy Jackson world. This book features a different set of characters. It's a bit formulaic, but I liked the Percy Jackson books so I am okay with more of the samish type of story done in a different sort of way.

All of the characters are very engaging, easy to relate to and interesting. They all have a lot of depth to them and have secrets and mysteries they need to unravel. As in the Percy Jackson books, all three of them need to figure out who their godly parent is.

They go on a quest to free Hera from capture and along the way find out they are facing an enemy even more dangerous than the Titans. I won’t say a lot more than that about the plot. As with previous books by Riordan there are lots of excellent action scenes and encounters with crazy and creepy mythological creatures. There is a lot of humor throughout as well which makes these books a fun read.

I pretty much liked all of the characters equally. It was nice to have part of the story from a girl’s (Piper’s) perspective. This should make the book a bit easier for young girls to relate to as well. I enjoyed the characters’ interesting powers too.

As I said above the layout of the book is very similar to other books Riordan has written; the characters get a quest, fight an evil monster, travel, fight another evil monster, travel to beat a tight timeline and then confront a very big bad monster. I enjoy the action and the mythological creatures, so I happen to enjoy the story even if it is similar in structure to previous ones.

I love how this books builds on the Percy Jackson series some. We do hear about the characters from the Percy Jackson series and they are in the story some. They don’t play a major part in the story, but they are there in the background and occasionally the foreground influencing events and helping out our new characters.

Overall this was a very enjoyable and entertaining read. I loved the expansion on the world we were introduced to in the Percy Jackson series. I enjoyed the new characters a lot and found them interesting and easy to engage with. I love the new plot and the new big bad enemy that these heroes have to face. I also enjoyed the mythological fights and creatures that we run into throughout the story. I definitely recommend this to fans of middle grade fantasy. I also recommend to anyone who enjoyed the Percy Jackson series. I can’t wait to read The Son of Neptune now!

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Audio Book Challenge
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- TBR Pile Reading Challenge
- Young Adult Reading Challenge

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Early Graphic Novel Review - The Bramble by Lee Nordling and Bruce Zick (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Middle Grade/Childrens’
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 32 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Release Date: September 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-0761358565
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from NetGalley for review
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. Thanks to Carolrhoda Books and Netgalley for giving me the chance to review this book. When I saw this graphic novel about a boy finding monsters in a dark forest I was hooked and dying to read it. It ended up being an okay read, a little confusing at parts and the drawings were more sketches and seemed a bit incomplete.

A young boy is being teased and bullied by some older boys when he can’t catch them during a game of tag, then he falls into the Bramble. The Bramble is a mysterious world full of friendly monsters and an evil dark wave that threatens them. When he helps the monsters defeat this evil dark wave they celebrate with him. Soon he has to journey home, there he uses what he learned in the Bramble to deal with the bully he was having trouble with and to make new friends of the human type.

The illustrations are cute but have an unfinished feel to them. They are done mostly in muted browns and blues, which match the tone of the story well. Still the sketchy feel they had to them bothered me a bit, like maybe the illustrations weren’t quite all they could be.

There are very very few words in this book, it’s mostly told through pictures. Giving the sketchiness of the illustrations and the complete dependence of the story on these illustrations, you end up with a story that is kind of confusing at times. I had to go back and re-look multiples times to try and figure out what was going on in the story.

Still once I figured the story out it is a cute one. Basically the boy befriends the monsters and then uses his own strengths back in his own world to make new friends with the kids that were mean to him before. It’s a good story about friendship, using your strengths, and forgiveness. So there’s a good message here if you can follow the story.

Really this book comes across as a bit of a Where the Wild Things Are but for the middle grade age set.

Overall an okay book. I love the theme and the idea here and really enjoyed the positive story. I was disappointed in the unfinished feel the illustrations had and a bit disappointed at how hard the story was to follow. This was a bit like a Where the Wild Things are but for the middle grade crowd...and with poorer illustration. I would recommend taking a quick look at the illustration of the book before buying just to see if it appeals to you.

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

Waiting on Wednesday - 5/29/13

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

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is
Magic Rises (Kate Daniels) by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: July 30th,  2013
Publisher: Ace
Length: 368 pages
ISBN: 978-1937007584

Synopsis from
Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Early Review - Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy, Book 2) by Leigh Bardugo (5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 448 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: June 4, 2013
ISBN: 978-0805094602
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Grisha trilogy
Source: From Publisher for Review
Rating: 5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book from the publisher for review. It was a wonderful continuation of this story, I think it was even better than the first book in this series. The third book in this trilogy, Ruin and Rising, is scheduled for a 2014 release date. You definitely need to read the first book, Shadow and Bone, to know what is going on in this one.

Alina and Mal have fled across the True Sea in hopes of escaping the tragedy that ended the last book, and of course in hopes of escaping the Darkling. With Alina trying to hide her ability as the Sun Summoner she is growing weaker and weaker. When the Darkling emerges from the Fold with a new and terrifying power Alina begins to despair. That is until a mysterious and charismatic privateer steps up to help Alina and Mal. Alina decides to try to return to Ravka to save the city she loves, but as she grows in power she is drawn further and further away from Mal and more and more towards the darkness.

This was a spectacular read. I loved the creative world-building in the first book of this series, this book grows that world and expands it. We get to journey to new regions of ice and snow, and sail dangerous seas, not me mention venturing into the darkness of the Fold again. This is a wonderful world and I love reading about it.

I thought that the characters grew a lot in this book as well. I wasn’t a huge fan of Alina in the first book, she was a bit too passive for me. In this book she finds her strength and her will to do what is right. She works to master her power and seeks out more power. Alina does all of this in an effort to help, but as she finds she likes the power she struggles to maintain her identity. Alina was wonderfully complex and had to deal with some tough decisions in this book.

Mal is in the story quite a bit as well. He is supportive of Allina, but also a bit overbearing at times. He just doesn’t want her to change and is starting to fear the power that she is becoming. As with Alina, he is a complex character who is struggling with his love for Alina and what he feels is the right thing to do.

The Darkling is in this story a lot less than in the first book. He is there looming over everyone and creating fear. He’s gained some interesting powers and I continue to find him fascinating. Still he is more in the background in this story.

The character that really steps up and shares the spotlight with Alina in this book is Sturmhond, the privateer. He is incredibly charismatic, witty, and intelligent. He also has a bevy of secrets that will blow you away. He was a wonderful addition to the story.

The plot is well paced and engaging. I had a lot of trouble putting this book down. The writing is absolutely beautiful and flows well. The story is intense, but there is some humor throughout as well. Seriously you have magic, sea battles, epic darkness versus light fighting was just wonderful.

Overall this was just an absolutely wonderfully done fantasy read. This book is highly recommended to fans of fantasy, and not just YA fans but fans of all ages. This is a magnificent world with complex and engaging characters. The storyline is epic and takes a completely new twist on the epic battle between light and dark. The pacing is wonderful and the book is impossible to put down. I want to read Ruin and Rising now!!! This is a highly recommended and absolutely stunning fantasy read.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- YA/MG Fantasy Reading Challenge
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Young Adult Reading Challenge

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review - Summerkin (Winterling, Book 2) by Sarah Prineas (4.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size:272 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 23, 2013
ISBN: 978-0061921063
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Winterling series
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This book is the second in the Winterling series. The series will continue in Moonkind which is scheduled for a Jan 2014 release date. I enjoyed this book just as much as the first one, it was a wonderful middle grade fantasy involving fey. I would definitely recommend reading Winterling before reading this book.

In the last book Fer defeated the evil Mor making her the Lady of the Summerlands. Now Fer is back in the human lands and longs to return to the Summerlands. When she returns her people don’t know what to make of her and her unique way of doing things. This includes the High Ones who request that Fer journey to their lands to compete in a contest that will prove whether or not she is the true Lady of Summerlands.

This is a magical story full of adventure and intrigue with enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged and entertained. It’s appropriate for all ages as well, although one of Fer’s competitors is very cruel to those around him.

I love Fer as a character. She has times when she is uncertain of her actions but always decides to stay true to what she thinks is right. Everyone is telling her she is ruling the Summerland in the wrong way, but she sticks with what she believes to be right. I also loved her kindness and her loyalty to those she considered friends.

Rook plays a large part in the story as well. As a pouka his loyalty to Fer is constantly called into question. He himself struggles with the call to be true to his family of poukas and his yearning to help out Fer as a friend.

A good portion of the novel is spent with Fer in competition with some other competitors. They were all interesting characters and these scenes were action-packed and engaging. Going on along with this storyline there is the mystery of a missing crown.

My favorite part of this book is the world. The descriptions are incredibly well done and create excellent imagery for the reader. There are new creative and magical things around every corner so you never know what to expect.

The book is well written and a fairly easy read. The plot isn’t incredibly complex (it’s written for young readers) but it is complex enough to keep an adult interested and engaged.

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. I love the magical world and the wonderful creative descriptions throughout. Fer is an excellent example of a growing girl who is trying to do what she believes in, even if doing what everyone else thinks is right would be the easier path. This is an absolutely wonderfully creative and engaging fantasy, I highly recommend it to all ages of readers who love fantasy. I can’t wait to read Moonkind when it releases.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- YA/MG Fantasy Reading Challenge
- 150+ Reading Challenge

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Showcase Sunday and Mailbox Monday - 5/27/13

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.

You can see the books I got this week below.  No video this week, as I am off camping for Memorial Day weekend.  Lots of e-books for not a lot to show anyway.

Hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

For Review: