Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review - Written in Red (The Others, Book 1) by Anne Bishop (5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 448 pages
Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Date: March 5, 2013
ISBN: 978-0451464965
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Others series
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 5/5 stars

This is the first book in the new Others series by Bishop. Previously I have read The Black Jewels series by Bishop and absolutely loved it. I got this book to review through the Amazon Vine program, so thank you to Roc and Amazon for providing it for review. This was a spectacular read, the characters were fascinating, the world building was spectacular I just really really loved this book. The second book in this series, Murder of Crows, is scheduled for a March 2014 release date.

Meg Corbyn is a blood prophet, she has fled the facility where she was kept and sold cut by cut for prophecy. Meg ends up in a Courtyard of the Others and applies for a job there as a Human Liaison for the Others. Simon Wolfgard, who leads this group of others, hires her on. What follows is an interesting story where Meg is trying to make a living among the Others while eluding the evil people who want her back as property.

This was a spectacular urban fantasy read. The world building was wonderful and complex, the characters were incredibly interesting, and the plot was solid and well done. I loved, loved, loved this book.

Every character in this book is fascinating. There are quite a few characters here, but Bishop does such a wonderful job introducing them that it’s not hard to keep track of them all. You have ponies that are Elementals, young women who are Seasons, werewolves, vampires, Crow girls, and even creatures that the Others don’t completely understand. All of them have mysterious pasts and are just a treat to read about.

Meg is also a wonderful character. She has gone through a lot but still has an innocence about her. She’s never lived out in the real world before, so there are funny things that she just doesn’t understand. This ends up being a benefit to her in dealing with all the strangeness that defines the Others, she doesn’t know what normal is so she just takes it all in stride and tries to be kind to everyone. There is a lot of humor throughout the book as well, which only adds to its awesomeness.

The world is fantastic. This is a world where the Others used to rule until humans started inhabiting the lands. Now the Others live in small communities, but God forbid that humans ever do anything to upset the Others. The Others can wipe out humanity in the blink of an eye. It makes for a very interesting balance. The humans fear the Others and the Others are ready to pounce on the humans whenever they feel slighted. It’s a super creative world and one that is well put together and very engaging.

The plot is also very well done. The plot is mainly about Meg trying to escape her captors, but there are a lot of other small storylines going on at the same time. The main story wraps up well, but there are still things to be resolved in future books.

Overall I absolutely loved this book. It was a wonderful read. The characters are all very creative and engaging, the world is spectacular, and I just loved the whole story. I highly recommend this series to urban fantasy fans who are looking for something new and fresh and spectacular. This is a very creative book and an absolutely wonderful start to a great new series. I will definitely be reading more books in this series.

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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review - Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn, Book 1) by Dand Cameron (2/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 374 pages
Publisher: 47North
Date: March 12, 2013
ISBN: 978-1611097955
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Fangborn series
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 2/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program. Thanks to Amazon for providing this book for review. This book sounded like an interesting start to a new urban fantasy series; I mean archeology and werewolves sounds kind of cool! It really wasn’t that great of a book, everything about it was okay but not great.

Zoe has been on the run with her mother for her whole life from her father’s violent people. When her mother dies, Zoe is looking forward to a new start at life. Then her cousin is kidnapped by someone, she thinks her father’s people. As she tried to comply with Danny’s capturs in order to facilitate his release she is drawn into an archeological quest to find the keys to Pandora’s box.

I did not enjoy this book and almost didn’t finish it. The storyline was all over the place, the writing was difficult to read and the characters didn’t have much depth and were hard to engage with. I pretty much struggled through the whole thing.

Zoe is a very strange character. Supposedly she was raised running from place to place with her mother, living carefully and avoiding detection. When her mother dies you would think she would be careful, especially when she is followed by some of her “father’s people” through the city. Soo....what does she do? She leads them right to her family and friends, because you know she spent her whole life hiding....how did she not get caught ages ago if she is this horrible at hiding and sneaking around?

Additionally Zoe’s background feels shallow and contrived. She never thought to question why her and her mom ran around hiding until now...when she is in her mid-20’s; she just kind of accepted it. It seemed like a flimsy back story to me and made Zoe seem very 2D.

Zoe has a love interest that also goes quickly in and out of the story. The scenes between Zoe and William are flat feeling and boring; there’s not a lot of chemistry here and it really didn’t engage me at all.

You would think that Zoe trapsing around to exotic locations and exploring to find hidden artifacts would be cool...it was not. The locations aren’t described well and never really come alive for the reader. A number of characters flit in and out of the story but never really make that big of an impression. The idea is cool and I love that the author explores the mythos of Pandora’s box...but the rest is not so cool.

The world building is incredibly weak. Supposedly vampires and werewolves are called Fangborn. The vampires and werewolves are incredibly bland; the vamps can do some mind control and the werewovles are hot-tempered and stronger than normal. To spice things up vamps actually like the sun in this book, but that is about as creative as this world gets. Outside of the Fangborn this world doesn’t have anything else creative or exciting.

The book ends well enough I guess. I just had a lot of trouble caring. I was not engaged with the story or the characters. While there didn’t seem to be anything technically wrong with the writing, I just had a lot of trouble reading the writing style; it didn’t flow well and I had to constantly go back and re-read things because I felt like I was missing things.

Overall not a great urban fantasy read. The world is boring, Zoe is not a character that has much depth, none of these characters are all that easy to relate to. The concept sounds neat, but the execution left a lot to desired. I definitely don’t recommend this urban fantasy read.

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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

News - Book Releases for Week 17 (Apr 28th - May4th)


Friday, April 26, 2013

Early Review - Wednesdays in the Tower (Castle Glower, Book 2) by Jessica Day George (3.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Children’s/Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 240 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date: May 7, 2013
ISBN: 978-1599906454
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Castle Glower series
Source: eGalley through NetGalley.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley(dot)com. Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for giving me the chance to review this book. Last year I read Tuesdays at the Castle and really enjoyed it. This sequel to that book was a fun read but not as magical as the first book.

Things start going strange in Castle Glower. First Celie finds a strange orange egg in a tower that’s never been there before and she needs to figure out what it is. Bran, the new Royal Wizard, is in on the secret but is swamped with identifying a bunch of magical armor and weapons that showed up in a new armor room. Meanwhile a visiting wizard stops by to help Bran and he seems to have a hidden agenda all of his own. Adding to all of this is the Castle’s increasingly erratic temperament; rooms no one has ever seen before are appearing left and right.

This was a fun continuation of the Castle Glower series. Not as magical and whimsical as the first book in the series, but still a fun read. The biggest downfall to this book is that it ends on a horrible cliffhanger and reads more like half of a book than a full book; I felt like half of the story was missing.

Celie and her siblings are fun to read about. They are all very agreeable characters and they work together well. It is always fun to see how well Celie’s family gets along together and how well they work together to solve problems. It makes for a light and uplifting read.

I enjoyed that the storyline is expanding here, we finally get some explanation as to why Castle Glower is how it is. We also learn a lot of history behind the castle itself. The additon of some mystical creatures made the story even more fun.

I did feel like the story was missing some of the whimsy, surprise, and delightful magical feel of the first book though. Part of that is just because we’ve already been introduced to this castle and nothing is as surprising this time around. I also felt like maybe Celie and family were just dealing with too many different problems at once, so the story was a bit bogged down and not as light-hearted and magical as the first book.

The absolultey biggest drawback to this book for me was the horrible cliffhangers. Oh, Miss Jessica why did you have to do that? I hate cliffhanger endings, it really drops my opinion of the book a lot. I hate it when author’s depend on a cliffhanger to force readers into continuing a series rather than just providing a good story and world that makes readers want to come back for more because the author writes well.

Overall a fun continuation of this series. Great for all ages. I enjoyed the magical creatures, the nice family dynamic, and finally learning about the why behind Castle Glower. I absolutely hated the horrible cliffhanger ending; this actually made me not want to read more of this series because I hate it when authors do that. This book wasn’t as magical as the first one, not as much full of wonder and fun. Still I recommend to those who enjoyed the first book in the series and to those who are looking for a good children’s fantasy read that is light and fun.

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Early Review - The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: May 14, 2013
ISBN: 978-0765320322
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in the Rithamist series
Source: Audiobook through Audible.com
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. Thanks to Amazon Vine and Tor Teen for allowing me the chance to review this book. I am a huge fan of Sanderson and have read most of the books he has written and really enjoyed them. I was very excited to see a middle grade fantasy being released by him. This book starts out very slow and was kind of a drag in the beginning, however the last third was excellent and absolutely fascinating. The second book in this series is scheduled for a 2015 release.

Joel is a chalkmaker’s son attending Armedius Academy, he gets to go to school there as a favor to his parents. What Joel really wants though is to be a Rithmatist. The Rithmatist’s are the only ones who can fight the Wild Chalklings. When Rithmatist students start disappearing in the night leaving only trails of blood, Joel and his friend Melody are drawn into the investigation. Joel ends up helping one of the Rithmatist professors do research in a desperate effort to solve the case before more students disappear.

This book starts out very slow and takes a ton of time explaining the complicated magic system. If you stick with it though it does get very good in the second half of the book. The book has a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it but all fighting/magic is dependent on geometry; hence the Rithamatists that practice this type of magic.

As with many of Sanderson’s book this book has a very well thought out, detailed, and complex magic system. In fact maybe it was a little bit too complex. The magic system is explained in detail and there are detailed diagrams throughout the book to aid in this explanation. All of the explanation is very important so that when the book does finally get to the some excellent fighting scenes, you can actually understand what’s going on.

Unfortunately all of this magic system explanation really makes the beginning drag on, I had a very very hard time paying attention and staying focused on the story because it took so long for the plot to get going.

Joel is a decent character, very down to earth and a bit selfish at times. I didn’t engage with him all that well, but then I am not really the target audience for this. He was interesting to read about and likable enough. Melody is very quirky, she sounds very awkward throughout the book and is very offbeat. I also had trouble engaging with her initially, but as the story continued she started to grow on me.

The mystery and plot is well done. Beware though this is just the beginning of a much larger story. As the book continues it gets very very good. The pieces of the mystery start to come together and we finally get to see this awesome and complex magic system in action. The wonderfully paced and action filled ending to this book made it worth suffering through the first half of this book. By the end of this first book I was completely engaged in this world and really wanted to know what would happen next.

Overall this is probably the weakest Sanderson book I have read so far, but I really really love all of his other books...so even if this is the weakest one he's written it is still a good book. The pacing is just very slow in the beginning and the characters were a bit hard to engage with. I did really enjoy the magic system and the world though. The end of the book made up for the poor beginning, and by the time I got to the end I was dying to read more about this world. I would recommend this to fans of MG/YA fantasy, it starts slow but I bet this is going to be an excellent series.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Audiobook Review - Fragments (Partials, Book 2) by Dan Wells (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Science Fiction
Size: 576 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Date: February 26, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062071071
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Partials series
Source: Audiobook through Audible.com
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the second book in the Partials trilogy. It was an excellent continuation of the series and I enjoyed it a lot.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. The narrator does an excellent job of distinguishing between voices and characters and also conveys character emotion well.

Kira is determined to figure out the secrets behind her origins, so she journeys to the deserted Manhattan to find a business office for ParaGen and hopefully find the answers to her questions there. Meanwhile Marcus is still desperately trying to find a cure for RM; issues are complicated when the Partials threaten to invade Long Island. There are many twists and turns and many secrets are revealed.

This was a fast-paced and well done YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic type of novel. Some parts have more of an adventuring feel to them as Kira heads out west to find answers about her origin and I enjoyed these parts a lot. I also enjoyed how we got to see other parts of the United State, for example the wastelands that Kira and crew have to cross.

The book switches between Marcus and Kira; I found the parts from Kira’s POV to be a lot more engaging. Kira is out exploring and finding new things while Marcus is mainly trying just to survive from day to day. This book has more of a science fiction and less of a dystopia feel to it than the last book. There is also a lot of survivalist stuff going on.

Kira comes off as a bit bull-headed and determined throughout the book. While I understood her drive to solve the problem and save the world, she comes off as incredibly selfish at times. Heron calls Kira out on this multiple times, finally Kira starts to question the morality of some of her decisions. Kira does have a point though, she has determined that it is okay to sacrifice a few people to save many...although she struggles with this decision towards the end of the book.

Along with Kira for much of the story are Samm and Heron. Both Samm and Heron were more interesting and fascinating characters for me than Kira. Samm always seems so emotionless but this book explores a lot more about Samm, his life up to this point, and what he wants out of the future.

I thought this book was more consistently paced than the first book. The story is engaging and there were some interesting plot developments. There are lots of twists and turns. Also this book is much darker than the first, all of our characters end up in very bad situations. So while it wasn’t exactly an uplifting story, it was intriguing.

The one thing that really bothered me was that there were a few inconsistencies throughout the novel. For example Kira didn’t even know what a computer looked like early on, but then a short while later she is running searches on a computer without any help. When did she suddenly get so computer savvy? There were also some things that seemed implausible and contrived. For example the wastelands caused by oil rigs burning and off gassing; this seemed a bit contrived for me...especially in the way it was isolated to only a certain region. It made for an interesting story, but I couldn’t help occasionally thinking “this totally does not make any sense”.

Overall I thought this book was an enjoyable read. It’s fast-paced and engaging. There’s a lot of interesting secrets revealed and I enjoyed spending more time with Samm and Heron and getting to understand them better. The world-building is a bit weak and contrived and there were a couple inconsistencies in the story. Despite these I still found this to be an entertaining read. Recommended to fans of YA science fiction/dystopia.

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