Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Fox and Phoenix

TITLE: Fox and Phoenix
AUTHOR: Beth Bernobich
GENRE: Fantasy, adventure
PREMISE: In a fantasy world, Kai and his friend Yun go off on a adventure.
MY REVIEW: Like Dragonswood this book reminded me of how much I miss just good old-fashioned fantasy. The author has created a great world here, interesting characters, and has some nice bits of writing in it. If you are an old school fantasy fan chances are, you will love this.
I will say it's a tad predictable. I mean really the only thing to complain about is it tends to drag and I wanted more from the ending but I'm pretty sure there's a sequel coming so I'm not really dissatisfied with that. Plus there's the usual peskyness that comes when a female tries to do a male's POV (and vice versa) in that it doesn't really sound like a guy speaking.
All in all though, this is a satisfying read and I know I want more from this series. Can't wait for the sequel, if one is indeed coming.
WHO SHOULD READ: Tamora Pierce fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five ghost pigs

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: The Pledge

TITLE: The Pledge
Book 1 in The Pledge series
AUTHOR: Kimberly Derting
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: In the future your place in society is decided by what language you speak. For a girl with a gift of understanding every language, this is a dangerous world.
MY REVIEW: I was excited when I heard Derting was going to be doing a dystopian. I liked The Body Finder series well enough but never really fell in love with it because I felt like Derting was holding back at times. I was hoping maybe a dystopian would strech her creativity a bit further and maybe suit her writing more.
But my feelings on The Pledge are the same ones I have with the Body Finder series: creative idea that gets caught up in YA tropes and flat writing. I mean I loved the idea going on here. It was different in a shiny new way that enthralled me for the first half of the book. But like The Body Finder the author fell into tropes such as the instant romance trap, the telling and not showing trap, and of course there's the whole hidden ruler trope which has been done so many times I've lost count. So once again we have a great idea going on but it didn't live up to its full potential and that makes me a little disappointed.
But it's certainly an interesting idea for series. Like The Body Finder it's good enough that I'll be checking out the sequels. I just wish Derting would work on her writing skill a wee bit more to do away with the telling and not showing because I feel like it's holding her back from going from decent to really awesome.
WHO SHOULD READ: Body Finder series fans, dystopian fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five merchants

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (69)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that tells people what new books we've gotten this week. All the links in this post go to the book's Amazon page if you want more info.

Bought book:
Caster Chronicles Book 3: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margeret Stohl-Have I mentioned I love this series? No? Well, now I have.

From NetGalley:
Halflings Book 1 by Heather Burch-I don't know why I keep trying these angel books only about two have really appealed to me (Unearthly is one). But I just keep trying em and trying em in the hopes that I find more good ones. ;crosses fingers and hopes it's good; Thank you Zonderkidz for the eARC. I've heard two different dates for this book: Jan. 17 and Feb. 1. I don't know which is right.
The Agency Book 3: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee-If you haven't tried this series about a female victorian spy then you totally should. Release date is Feb. 28th. Thank you Candlewick for the eARC.
The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina-YA Debut that I've heard lots of good things about. Sounds interesting for sure. Release date is March 13th. Thank you Candlewick for the eARC.

From the library:
Tempest Book 1 by Julie Cross-YA debut from this year. Yes, I heard about all the drama on Goodreads and I am not going to let that influence my opinion. But I will say if anyone doesn't like my opinion on the book they are certainly welcome to no longer read my blog.
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland-historical fiction that was recomended by someone whose taste I usually trust so I'm giving it a shot.
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel-Debut from last year that I missed. I've been wanting to read it since I heard about because it sounds awesome.
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay-YA from last year that I've been wanting to read purely based on the idea which sounds awesome.
Lunar Chronicles Book 1: Cinder by Marissa Meyer-robot retelling of Cinderella. You know you want to read it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

TITLE: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Book 1 in the Chaos Walking series
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: dystopian/science fiction, adventure
PREMISE: Todd has lived in Prentisstown, a town made up solely of men his whole life. But a month before he turns thirteen his life and world changes forever.
MY REVIEW: Practically the only real problem is a matter of taste. Simply put, this book will not appeal to everyone because of it's dark nature. If you want happy romantic books...I'd go elsewhere. Plus Todd is bit hard to relate too at times.
But if you're willing to give it a chance, this book is a wild ride from beginning to end. Definitely one of the more unique ideas I've come across in YA in awhile. Yes, it is violent and very dark but it's like Girl With a Dragon Tattoo where the violence is used as commentary on humanity. True I did have issues with the writing style at times because it would be frusterating at some points. Particularly when Todd would learn something through noise and we wouldn't, but as it was all revealed at the end it's a small frustration worth it in the end when you do find out because boy is it a doozy.
Considering the massive evil cliffhanger at the end I will most definitely be reading the next book. It's just a matter of when I'll get to it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Science fiction fans, dystopian fans, Lord of the Flies fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five knives

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

TITLE: Lola and the Boy Next Door
AUTHOR: Stephanie Perkins
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: contemporary, drama, romance
PREMISE: Lola is perfectly happy with her life, until Cricket her childhood love moves back in next door.
MY REVIEW: For the record I give Perkins tons of credit for managing to get me to enjoy contemporary romance. Nothing against the genre really, it just isn't my thing. I just find most of it boring and predictable. Yes, Lola is a cliche much like Anna and the French Kiss was. But it is cliche done well and in her own quirky style so I don't mind it as much.
I will say I don't think this one was as good as Anna and the French Kiss but it was still pretty solid. Plus it was so fun to see Anna and St. Clair in it trying to not too subtly play matchmaker/mentor with Lola. It still had Perkins' sparkling dialogue and fun characters and again managed to get me to enjoy a contemporary romance. So honestly I'm not complaining too loudly here. Though it has to be said: who the hell names their kid Cricket? I know it's California and rich people but really? Naming your kid Cricket is all kinds of cruel.
So if you loved Anna and the French Kiss which at last count was pretty much everyone you will probably like this one as well.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anna and the French Kiss fans, contemporary romance fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five wigs

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review: Dragonswood

TITLE: Dragonswood
AUTHOR: Janet Lee Carey
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: fantasy, adventure
PREMISE: After she is accused of witchcraft, Tess and her two friends flee their village into the mysterious dragonswood.
MY REVIEW: So the first book from 2012 I read this year! This is not a bad way to kick off a new book year either. I will say Tess was a bit underdeveloped (as was her romance with Garth), and it had a bad habit of dragging in the middle. But for a first book? Not bad. I definitely give points for originality.
Dragonswood is straight up fantasy that the author obviously thought out. True I was a bit fuzzy on one or two details but that may have been just me missing out on a detail here and there. I was just so happy to be reading a fantasy book again. Hardly any YA authors do epic fantasy like this anymore. Most of the fantasy in YA is heavily grounded in our world. Which is fine but sometimes I just crave another world you know? I was sort of hoping the success of Graceling would start a revival of sorts but it seems there aren't any takers. I can literally count on both hands the number of epic fantasy in YA that was published last year and two of those books were from the same author (Tamora Pierce, or as I call her the lady responsible for getting me into fantasy in the first place). So I hope maybe Dragonswood will jumpstart a fantasy trend? Pretty please? I love my urban fantasy but I love the magic that comes from going into a world that you know nothing about.
So while this could use a bit of work in the character department, it was still a rather solid fantasy. Not sure if this is going to be a series. Judging from how it ended I don't think so, but you never know.
WHO SHOULD READ: epic fantasy fans, Tamora Pierce fans, faerie fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Eve

Book 1 in the new Eve trilogy
AUTHOR: Anna Carey
CATEGORY: Young Adult
GENRE: Dystopian, romance
PREMISE: Eve learns a terrifying truth about her school and runs away.
MY REVIEW: Once again, like Bumped there is technically nothing wrong with this. Plot was clear (mostly), there was a fast pace, every so often there were nice passages of writing. It was okay book when one looked at it writing wise.
But there was not one ounce of original thought in this book. Literally it is all the dystopian tropes that have been going around piled into one book. Like Wither it was trying to be A Handmaidens Tale by Margeret Atwood. Like Wither it failed because the author completely missed the point of A Handmaidens Tale which no was NOT about romance. The world building is also very sloppy. The biggest issue in this book though is Eve herself. She is what I call a passive Mary Sue. Basically she does not move the plot forward. Things happen to her and she reacts usually with people telling her she should react. Even running away from the school wasn't her idea! No, a teacher caught her and somehow knew she figured out their secret and basically told her to run off. Then of course comes in the naivete which I could see but was so over the top that I couldn't believe how dumb Eve was for a school valedictorian. I mean Arden wised up and she was in the same boat. Honestly I sort of wish this had been told in Arden's point of view because she was much more interesting to me then Eve. Also SHE was proactive.
So no, it's not the worse book I've ever read. But it is definitely one of the least original out there. If you just want a dystopian you don't have to use much brain power on, then go and check this out from the library. But if you read all the YA dystopians you've probably already know this plot.
WHO SHOULD READ: dystopian fans not looking for original plot
MY RATING: Three out of Five

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: Bumped

TITLE: Bumped
Book 1 in the Bumped Trilogy
AUTHOR: Megan McCafferty
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: dystopian, romance
PREMISE: In the future two sisters reunite after being seperated.
MY REVIEW: This is a difficult book for me to review because frankly I didn't like it. However a part of me recognizes that this is one of those books that people will either despise or love as seen by the mixed reviews on Goodreads. To be fair to the author, it has a clear plot, there are some hilarious lines, writing is passable, and the idea was interesting. Technically wise, it's not a horrible book.
Too bad I hated all the characters. Sorry, there was not one likeable one in the bunch. The religious sister was self-righteous and selfish, the non-religious sister was just selfish, both the male leads were sexist and I was irritated by the constant slang the author made up that was childish. It doesn't help that once again we come up with a great dystopian concept and then ignore it in favor of dull melodrama. Seriously YA authors, WHY DO YOU DO THIS? Now yes, I have heard the claims that this is supposed to be satire. Well, sorry but even when one looks at it as satire it doesn't work because the book doesn't say anything. Satire is supposed to have something to say about whatever it is that it's satirizing (is that a word?). I didn't get any message from this book. If there was one, it was lost in translation big time.
But again, this is something that will either appeal to you or it won't appeal to you. That's why I say check it out from the library first to see if it's to your taste. As for me, I'm not bothering with the rest of what is apparently a trilogy.
WHO SHOULD READ: romance fans, fans of McCafferty's other books, dystopian fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five eggs

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (68)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that tells people what new books we got over the week.

From NetGalley:
Spellbound Book 2: Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz-In my effort to keep up on new releases I'm trying to use Net Galley again. I was for a bit then stopped. I'm starting back up again. Thank you Harlequin Teen for the eARC.

From the library:
Fox and Phoenix by Beth Bernobich-fantasy debut from last year that didn't get much buzz for some reason even though it sounds rather awesome.
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting-One of the many dystopians last year written by the author of The Body Finder. Should be interesting even though I've heard mixed reviews about it. As someone who wasn't as in love with Body Finder as everyone else, maybe I'll love this more?
Theatre Illuminate Book 3: So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev-What I believe is the conclusion of one of my favorite fantasy trilogys.
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff-I loved The Replacement and this one looks just as good. Apparently about the daughter of a demon and an angel.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: Once a Witch

TITLE: Once a Witch
Book 1 in the Witch series
AUTHOR: Carolyn MacCullough
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: Witches, urban fantasy, drama
PREMISE: A girl with no magic in a family full of magic users tries to find her place in the world.
MY REVIEW: I actually quite enjoyed this book. True, one or two things were obvious. The MC was a bit annoying at times, and the writing isn't anything special. But it's one of those books you just can't help but enjoy.
One of the things I loved was the world MacCullough created. She thought it through (mostly, the time traveling is a bit funky) and it was a fun world to be in. The plot was also a solid one. I'm a sucker for family drama and this one had that in spades. Granted I would have prefered the MC to wind up not having powers at the end because I think that would have been a better message about how you are just fine the way you are but still, it made for a interesting twist. I didn't even mind the romance. Gabriel was a fun love interest.
All in all this was a fun addition to the witch genre. I look forward to reading Always a Witch.
WHO SHOULD READ: Witch fans, fans of family drama
MY RATING: Four out of Five spell books

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: A Clash of Kings

TITLE: A Clash of Kings
Book 2 in the Song of Fire and Ice series
AUTHOR: George R. R. Martin
GENRE: fantasy, drama
PREMISE: The conflict continues between kings and queens.
MY REVIEW:I was one of the many who fell in love with Game of Thrones last year thanks to HBO bringing it to everyone's attention. I will warn those that don't know: this series is not happy. These are not ideal characters. In fact, many of them you will want to smack (hey there, Theon) many times. But they are fascinating at the same time.
Clash of Kings is just as good as the first. So many developements happen, so many people die (seriously if you couldn't handle Deathly Hallows or Mockingjay don't read this book). Yes, I cringe a bit at the treatment of women in this series but it makes sense. This is a obviously modeled after history. In history women were treated horribly. What's interesting here is to see how they respond to it and manage to thrive as well as they can despite the rampant sexism they face. So no, I actually don't think Martin is anti-feminist (since I'm sure someone will bring that arguement up).
I continue to love this series and hopefully will finish the remaining three books this year (as well as the Millaneum Trilogy by Stieg Larsson).
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read (or watched) A Game of Thrones, epic fantasy fans
MY RATING: Five out of Five knights

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Death Watch

TITLE: Death Watch
Book 1 in the Undertaken Trilogy
AUTHOR: Ari Berk
CATEGORY: Young Adult
GENRE: paranormal
PREMISE: A boy goes to live with his uncle and learns past family secrets.
MY REVIEW: Here's the thing, I love the concept of this book. The idea behind it and the thought into the world is fabulous and I did like that the author tried to have some sort of emotion in there. But that's the key word there: tried.
Because frankly Berk's writing is just not on par with the story idea. This is a case where I wish either the author had spent more time building her craft or the idea had gone to another more gifted writer. Berk's writing is flat, her dialogue is terrible, and she tends wander with the plot a lot. I bet if you cut all the useless scenes in this book, it would be about down to two hundred pages. It doesn't help that she didn't build her characters either. They were all two-dimensional, especially the drunk mother who was basically deliberately written so we'd hate her. There's a lot of tell but don't show writing going on too that tends to treat the reader like they're dumb. Honestly this felt like a elementary level book masquarading as teen fiction though I hesitate with that because I've read some very well written children's books in the past (Harry Potter anyone?).
This was just a case of the story being good but the writing being bad enough to eclipse a lot of the good that is going on in the book. This is why I wish authors/publishers would take more time with manuscripts instead of just turning them in and getting approval. At the very least EDIT because I'm sorry, I don't think there was a lot of editing going on here. If you really are interested in this, I would just check it out from the library.
WHO SHOULD READ: paranormal fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five watches

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ditched Book Review: A Beautiful Dark

TITLE: A Beautiful Dark
Book 1 in the Beautiful Dark series
AUTHOR: Jocelyn Davies
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: romance, urban fantasy
PREMISE: A girl is fought over by two guys basically.
WHY I DITCHED IT: My resolution this year reading wise was to not bother with books that I can tell from about chapter 5 that I'm seriously going to dislike. If I can tell that soon then I'm just not going to bother with it because life is too short and I've got too many books to read this year to waste it on stuff I'm going to hate every minute of. In the past when I've ditched a book I just haven't reviewed it because I don't think one should review something they haven't seen/read all the way through. This year I'm going to let readers know the book exists and that I attempted to read it and then give my reasons for ditching it. If any of you feel I left off too soon, then please feel free to try and get me to give the book in question another shot but honestly I can't gaurentee I'll do it.
With Beautiful Dark it wasn't that the book was bad, it was just that it was completely unimaginative. Every single idea I saw in these first few chapters has been done to death. Poor little orphan girl caught up in great prophecy? Been done. Love triangle with two guys fighting over a girl? Been done to death. Opposing sides trying to get said girl on their side for whatever dumb reason? Done. Literally I was yawning by chapter ten. Perhaps there's some grand reveal in the end, I don't know but honestly the first part is just so dull I didn't care enough to even power read through to get to the end. None of the characters were compelling in anyway and the writing was pretty generic. It was just same old same old and I've frankly had enough of these books that take ideas from other books and mesh it all together in a utterly uncreative way. I got up to about chapter fifteen before I just couldn't take it anymore.
But hey, if you're a fan of these angel book things, you may like this better then me. It's just I've come to the conclusion that angel books just aren't my thing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: Past Midnight

TITLE: Past Midnight
Book 1 in the Past Midnight series
AUTHOR: Mara Purnhagen
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: paranormal
PREMISE: Charlotte moves to a new school with her ghost hunting parents.
MY REVIEW: I don't really have much to say about this book so this will be a very short review. The thing is sometimes you get a book that just is what it is. Not very groundbreaking or fantastic but not horrible either. Just there. That is what Past Midnight is.
Story was decent, characters were okay, plot was okay, everything was just...okay. Not very memorable in a good or bad way. If you like ghost books then you'll probably get a kick out of this but if you never read it, you're not missing out on anything huge.
WHO SHOULD READ: Ghost story fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five trucks

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (67)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that tells people what new books we got over the week.

Downloaded to Kindle
Stacy Justice series Book 1: Opal Fire by Barbera Annino-Kindle Freebie though now it seems to be back to regular price.

Bought at Barnes and Noble:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman-It's Gaiman, need I say more?
Millanium Trilogy 2: The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson-Trying to wrap up this trilogy this year. I meant too last year but got side tracked by Game of Thrones which I'm also trying to finish up this year.

From the library:
Eve Book 1 by Anna Carey-Dystopian debut from last year that I've heard mixed reviews about.
Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey-First debut/book of 2012 that I'm reading! Fantasy thing that looks cool, plus awesome cover.
Bumped Book 1 by Megan McCafferty-Dystopian from last year that I've heard some good things about.
Once a Witch Book 1 by Carolyn MacCullough-UF witch series I've been meaning to read for awhile now.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins-Companion book to Anna and the French Kiss which I highly enjoyed so I'm looking forward to this one.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood

TITLE: Anna Dressed in Blood
Anna series Book 1
AUTHOR: Kendare Blake
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: horror, paranormal
PREMISE: Cas hunts ghosts. Then he meets a ghost that confuses him...
MY REVIEW: Sometimes you just want a good old fashioned horror story and this book is one that totally delivers on that front. True, I wish the romance part had been better developed but on the whole this was a very strong debut that has become one of my favorite reads this month and had I read it last year would have been a top book for me.
Blake's writing is nice and smooth. She writes fabulous dialogue, she doesn't have stereotyped characters, and she doesn't mince with the horror aspect of this. It's also creative! A definite new perspective on ghosts. I just really want to know more about this world because I feel like we haven't gotten the entire picture of it yet, but it is the first book so I'm letting that issue go in the hopes of finding out more in the second.
All in all a really good read. If you love horror or don't mind scary books I'd definitely pick this one up. I can't wait for the second book and whatever else Blake has in store for us. This is a author to keep a eye on in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: horror story fans, Coroline fans, Bad Girls Don't Die fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five dead girls

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review: Liar's Moon

TITLE: Liar's Moon
Book 2 in the Thief's Errant series
AUTHOR: Elizabeth C. Bunce
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: fantasy, adventure
PREMISE: Digger once more gets caught up in royals business. This time she must help Durrel himself.
MY REVIEW: I loved Star Crossed when I read it last year for a challenge and looked forward to reading Liar's Moon. Luckily Liar's Moon is just as good as the first. Yes, it drags a bit, and I would have liked more developement for the Digger/Durrel relationship but all in all I'm pleased with this sequel.
There's great world building, good plots, and it was a treat to catch up with the characters I grew to love in Star Crossed (Raffin!). There were several twists and turns I didn't see coming and that cliffhanger is downright evil and will have you clamouring for the next book.
If yo loved Star Crossed you will not be disappointed with this sequel.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Star Crossed, Tamora Pierce fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five thieves

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review: Drink, Slay, Love

TITLE: Drink, Slay, Love
AUTHOR: Sarah Beth Durst
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: Vampires, unicorns, urban fantasy
PREMISE: Pearl is a young vampire who gets stabbed by a unicorn, giving her the ability to walk in the sun and for the first time, feels.
MY REVIEW: I got a kick out of this like I do all of Durst's books. She's very tongue in cheek. She knows she's dealing with campy material and runs with it. Sure I wasn't crazy about the convenient ending, and sometimes Pearl felt a bit Sueish but everything else was just so much fun.
While Pearl felt Sueish sometimes she's an enjoyable Sue and goes through growth so I can't complain too loudly. It was nice seeing the author show us the effects that being a vamp has on her and how suddenly growing feelings effects her ability to function as a vampire. The romance was sweet, I actually did like Evan even if I find his whole changing her life part a little questionable. I loved the hell out of Bethany and was happy that the populars weren't made into the stereotypical mean girls of the school.
If you've read Enchanted Ivy or Ice, you've got a good sense of who Durst is as a writer. She puts new spins on things, has a lot of fun with well known subjects, has plenty of imagination, and is just plain fun. I look forward to whatever she brings us next because with Durst it's always a surprise.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Ice and Enchanted Ivy, vampire fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five bottles of blood

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review: The Night Circus

TITLE: The Night Circus
AUTHOR: Erin Morgenstern
GENRE: fantasy, romance
PREMISE: In a magical circus a rivalry takes place over several years.
MY REVIEW: Night Circus came onto the book scene with a bang. Everyone was singing it's praises, it got a movie deal before it even hit shelves, and has been a bestseller for a few months now. I will say I do love it, but it isn't completely without faults. I didn't care for the jumping around in time business (but that's a personal peev, and not really something that hinders the book, it's just annoying for me). There were one or two missed typos, the romance was...sweet but a tad bit predictable and thus about the least interesting thing about the book.
For me the biggest draw was the writing. While yes, the style did occasionally get on my nerves (I particularly hated it when the author would have passages that went "so and so went here and then here and then here") and was a tad rough around the edges. But there was some really beautiful writing in there. Particularly when the author went about describing things or would put in a little morsel here and there that became important later. This author does have talent. She just needs to polish it a bit more. Another draw was the atmosphere of the book. I love magical feeling books like this one. I can totally see why this got a movie deal. The plot was also really interesting itself, when one ignored the lackluster romance. Because everything else but that was strong. It felt like a combination of Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell (but not as dull as rocks as that book was) and the movie The Illusionist (which I totally rec by the way) with a dash of Tim Burton's Big Fish (by the way filmmakers, if you're smart you will have Tim Burton directing this. This has his name all over it).
So yes, there were a few problems with this but considering this is a first book that was a apparently written during National Write Your Own Novel month, I have to say I'm impressed. I just hope the next one (if there is a next one) answers some more of my lingering questions at the end. Mostly concerning the circus itself.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell fans, The Illusionist fans, circus book fans, anyone inclined to pick it up.
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five tents

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In My Mailbox (66)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over The Story Siren that tells people what new books we've gotten over the week.

Downloaded to Kindle:
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantasky-I was not the hugest fan of Jekyll Loves Hyde but people keep telling me this is better. Since it's free I'm going to give Fantasky another shot.

Bought at Books A Million:
Leviathan Trilogy Book 1: Leviathan by Scott Westerfield-Already read and loved this beautifully illustrated steampunk novel by Westerfield. Got in the phenomenal bargain section Books A Millian has.
Leviathan Trilogy Book 2: Behemoth by Scott Westerfield-They also had book 2 which I have not read yet so expect upcoming review.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Got this for FREE because of the bargain book sale they were having. This way if I don't happen to like this one (possibility given it's a bestseller) then I didn't waste any money.

From the library:
Undertaken Trilogy Book 1: Death Watch by Ari Berk- 2011 Debut that I've heard nothing about that sounds interesting.
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies-2011 Debut novel paranormal romance thing.
Past Midnight Book 1 by Mara Purnhagen-Been meaning to read this series for awhile now.
Shifting by Bethany Wiggins-About skinwalkers from Navajo mythology.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: All These Things I've Done

TITLE: All These Things I've Done
Birthright Book 1
AUTHOR: Gabrielle Zevin
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: dystopian, drama
PREMISE: A girl in the future who is part of a mafia family gets accused of poisoning her ex boyfriend.
MY REVIEW: Like all of Zevin's books, this one is well written, well plotted, and well characterized, and unique. I really have no huge complaints about the quality of it because it is a very decent book.
But I do have complaints about the fact that once again we have a great Dystopian set-up and it's virtually ignored in favor of dull romance and predictable drama. Also I had some issues with the romance particularly the whole "hey I love you after knowing you for like a month. Great. I don't want to have sex until marriage even though I'm not a very religious person and have said so. Awesome. Let's get marred! Sure!" Then they get married without any protest from the family? Just...WHAT? It doesn't help that I see no real basis for the relationship to begin with. It felt like he married her just to tick off his dad.
But those issues aside this was a interesting book and well written despite some faults. I just hope the next book goes more into the world problems because otherwise why on earth are you bothering to make this Dystopian if you're not going to use it?
WHO SHOULD READ: Gabrielle Zevin fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five chocolate bars

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review: Mastiff

TITLE: Mastiff
Book 3 in the Legend of Beka Cooper Trilogy
AUTHOR: Tamora Pierce
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: adventure, fantasy
PREMISE: Beka goes on a hunt to find the young missing heir to the throne.
MY REVIEW: Okay this review is probably going to be very biased as most of my reviews about Pierce are because her Tortall/Circle of Magic books are the books that I credit with getting me into fantasy/YA back in the day. Gosh I’ve been reading this series since the nineties! So I’m terribly fond of these books and eagerly await each installment and they never disappoint.
Now I will say a few issues I’ve come across as I’ve gotten older. Pierce has a bad habit of slightly mocking the girls/people who don’t think like her main character. That is people who aren’t liberal. While yes, I don’t always agree with the religious set, particularly the snotty ones in this book, I don’t think you should mock people for their beliefs. They are allowed to believe what they want even if you yourself don’t agree with it. That’s one aspect of these books I don’t particularly care for. That and while I love the strong girls message, she does tend to hit you over the head with it. But I’ve kind of had to let that go, it’s a personal peeve and doesn’t change the fact that these are still very good books.
The writing is still strong, she still has fabulous characters and doesn’t mind making them complicated or difficult to like. I like Beka but I’m sure there are people out there who struggle with how detached she can be. She still does fabulous world-building that is the biggest appeal of her books for me. The worlds of Tortall and the world in Circle of Magic are just so dense and just wonderful.
In short if you love Tamora Pierce, you will not be disappointed, unless you wanted Beka to end up with Rosto like I did in which case oh well. Luckily Farmer is just as fun so it’s not that big of a deal. Next up: A Circle of Magic book with Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn in Yanjing. YES! Sorry, love those three. Everyone else may prefer Tortall but for me it’s Circle of Magic all the way. I can’t wait for the one with Tris in magic school.
WHO SHOULD READ: Tamora Pierce fans, fantasy fans, fans of the first 2 Beka Cooper books
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five Dog uniforms

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review: Unholy Ghosts

TITLE: Unholy Ghosts
Book 1 in the Downside Ghosts
AUTHOR: Stacia Kane
GENRE: Urban fantasy, paranormal
PREMISE: Chess is a paranormal catcher on the job for a dirty drug dealer. The case she's on winds up being more then expected.
MY REVIEW: Again, not many feelings about this book. It had a very interesting idea for sure. I loved the world that Kane created. It's interesting. In that it was very creative. However everything else? Typical UF du jour.
Tough heroine with multiple love interests? Check. Random sex out of no where? Check. Mystery to solve? Check (thankfully this one was interesting). Because the heroine is tough, she is bitchy to everyone? Check. Yeah, nothing new to see here folks. Move on.
If you're in the mood for a UF and don't care about uniqueness then yes, I rec this. The plot is okay, the mystery is decent, and the characters flawed. But if you want to feel like you're reading something fresh and new, I wouldn't bother.
WHO SHOULD READ: urban fantasy fans who don't care about uniqueness
MY RATING: Three out of Five ghosts

Book Review: Soul Thief

TITLE: Soul Thief
Book 2 in the Demon Trapper's series
AUTHOR: Jana Oliver
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: Urban fantasy
PREMISE: Riley continues her job as demon trapper despite new obstacles.
MY REVIEW: I...have no real feelings about this book to be honest. I liked the uniqueness of the first one and that is still felt here but now some of the sparkle has worn off and it's starting to look like every other urban fantasy series out there: down-on-her-luck Mary Sue has several love interests and solves mysteries and naturally fate of the world falls to her.
The characters are still fun and everything and I still love Oliver's writing and fast pace and her dialogue. But...it's not very original. If you read these urban fantasy things on a daily basis, you've basically read this series. I'm only keeping up with it because I love Oliver's world-building and I like learning more details as we go along.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of The Demon Trapper's Daughter, Buffy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five demons

Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review: Between the Sea and Sky

TITLE: Between the Sea and Sky
AUTHOR: Jocelyn Dolamore
CATEGORY: Young adult
GENRE: mermaids, angels, romance, fantasy
PREMISE: A mermaid goes to find her sister on land and winds up falling in love...
MY REVIEW: I have to repeat what I said about Dolamore's first book: I LOVE her imagination. She manages to make tired YA trends (in this case mermaids and angels) and make them feel shiny and new. She describes stuff beautifully, her characters are likeable and honestly there really are no real hard reasons to dislike her stuff.
But at the same time it's also rather predictable. If you love fairytale-like books I totally rec her stuff. But if you want something a little less cutesy with more meat too it...you're probably better off going elsewhere. Because while I like her books they are somewhat obvious ending-like and rather cutesy.
So to recap: good imagination and great for fairytale lovers. But also a bit average and predictable. Makes for a decent library read but I'm not sure if it's a must read. I will say this for her: she managed to get me to like a mermaid book. While I still find it as juvenile as I find most of these YA mermaid things, it is enjoyable which the other mermaid books didn't have going for them.
WHO SHOULD READ: mermaid fans, Little Mermaid fans, fairy tale fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five fish tails