Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan

I know what you’re asking: is this book as epic as it sounds? Yes. It is.

"Jason has a problem.
He doesn't remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper. His best friend is a kid named Leo, and they're all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids", as Leo puts it. What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.
Piper has a secret.
Her father, a famous actor, has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he's in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn't recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?
Leo has a way with tools.
His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What's troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper's gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god."

So I would like to say good job to Mr. Rick Riordan for making a successful spin off of his super popular Percy Jackson series. This, just book, from the get go, is way more complex and complicated. Trust me.
What Riordan does is show how once the Greek civilization started to fall and the Romans took over, who they merely tweaked the Greek gods to fit into their own society. A little history lesson real quick: that’s how a conquering army keep the locals at bay: taking what they know and love already, and just changing it little by little till it is something else completely.

There are appearances by some familiar characters from the Percy Jackson Series, like Annabelle and Chiron. However, the new faces is what this story is about: Jason, Piper, and Leo. All three characters have important roles to play on the quest to search for Hera who has been kidnapped…or goddess-naped…or whatever. The action scenes are amazing and perfect for a little bit of an older crowd than what Percy Jackson was meant for.

The writing style is slightly different, told in third person, each chapter being from the point of view from one of the three main characters. All three have secrets to hide and things they are ashamed of. However, it is those secrets that draw them together and make them not only closer friends and allies, but an amazing team.
Leo was my favorite out of the three, and I think that’s because he was a more ground character. He was just a normal guy from a rough background who was just trying to wrap his head around new information that well, a little crazy to anyone else.

This book is filled with everything a good action adventure story should have: twists and turns of a mystery, a little romance, and a whole lot of amazing action.

The Renfield Syndrome - J.A. Saare

Get your shit kickers on. Rhiannon is back and stuck in the future.

“Vampires, and werewolves, and demons, oh my. Rhiannon thought facing off against a deranged child vampire was the most dangerous task she would ever have to undertake, but she’s about to discover making a deal with a demon is far, far worse. Sent forward into another reality, one in which vampires are now dominating nearly extinct humans, she realizes the sooner she returns to her vampire lover, Disco, the better. Unfortunately, time changes a lot of things; including those most trusted around her. When she’s faced with a loss and betrayal unlike any she has ever known, her focus shifts from severing the debt between the demon that wants to kill her, to exacting a revenge that will bring forth consequences she never could have fathomed. By reaching out to the darkness lingering within her, she’ll find the strength to push forward despite the circumstances that would see her dead and buried.
After all, when it’s all said and done, all that she has left to lose is her soul.”

So….how can I review this book with its characters and plot that would not give away everything this book has going on for it? Well, I can’t. You lovelies will just have to start out with the first in the series, Dead, Undead, or Somewhere In Between, to truly appreciate J.A. Saare’s amazing ability to take a genre that everyone thinks they know, flip it around changing it into something that you would have never expected.

What I really enjoyed best about this book, is that Rhiannon, who in general is a total bad ass with a mouth of a pirate, stays who she is throughout the whole book. Sure, there are some scenes that test her resolve and her own person ethics, however, she always comes out as a strong female who really doesn’t need saving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a Prince Charming come and save you, to sweep you off your feet. But sometimes, the Damsel in Distress can do her own saving. And Rhiannon can honestly, most of the time, take care of herself. Trust me. Read the books.

What I love about Saare’s writing style is that there is not long drawn out prose explaining the reality Rhiannon lives in. There are no wasted words. And I like that. Sure, sometimes you need the wordiness for a complex world in a book. Saare writes with efficiency that says, in short, here is what happens and here is how it is, now let’s go open a can of whoop ass. See? No word or plot fodder.

As you can read, I didn’t really go too much into the book in its plot or characters. And that’s just because I honestly couldn’t think of a way to do so without, as River Song would say, Spoilers. But let me say this, this book for the reader who is not faint of heart, because lordy lordy, the ending is not only brutal, but it will leave you scrambling for the next book.

Well played J.A. Saare. Well played. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Matched - Ally Condie

If society tells you what to do…do you do it? Or do you make your own path?

“Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.”

This book was on sale at which is really the only reason why I got it and read it. Sure, the cover is pretty but nothing special. But I figured, why not?

The story of Cassia starts out pretty interesting. Cassia is on her way to be Matched to her husband who ends up being her best friend. The Society, as they are called in this particular Dystpoia, then turns her world upside down just for an experiment to see what emotions can be stirred by giving false information.
The premise is interesting, but half way through the book, I lost my interest. I felt the story of Cassia rebelling turned into a whine fest of how it was all not fair and her fight and struggle to be with either Ky or Xander. I understand that is part of the story, however, the story lost momentum once Cassia started whining.

 The writing is good and I didn’t end up disliking any characters in this book (which is good, since I always seem to end up disliking some main character), I just felt that this book was merely, okay. A quick read that got a little boring half way through and then a little vague at the end in which we don’t know the outcome of Cassia or Ky. Will I read the next book? Maybe. However, not on my list of books I must read right now.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blackout - Mira Grant

If you could…would your rise?

“Rise up while you can. -Georgia Mason
The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.
The year was 2039. The world didn't end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.
Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there's one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it's this:
Things can always get worse.”

Oh Mira Grant: Thank you so much for making me wait with baited breath for Blackout. And it was so worth the wait. This book is pitched as a post zombie apocalypse tale, but for me, it’s a tale of freedom of the press and free speech and political conspiracies that just so happen to be in the world of zombies. It is in fact, not the end of the world. We have rebuilt society with zombies in mind: protocol and safety measures. The people who say we are safe and secure are really the ones who are lying to us.

Grant does great in creating a complex world filled with conspiracies and moments filled with emotion and action. Not wanting to give too much away, just know that this story is filled with twist and turns and “what the hell?!”type moments and moments that made me want to cry. We lose a beloved badass chick and learn that with sacrifices, small and big, are to be respected and cherished.

I cannot get over how much I love this series. And can I say how happy it’s a trilogy and it doesn’t drag out? This series was the perfect in length. There are not wasted words or space and every character is important and moves the story along to the climax point where they bring down the Man.

This zombie series was not one of shot guns and bullet wounds, it was of whispered conspiracies and the power of the written word. A nice change of pace in the world of zombie tales. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Missing Ink - Karen E. Olson

A book that isn’t an urban fantasy or young adult in classification? I know. I was kinda surprised myself.

“Brett Kavanaugh is a tattoo artist and owner of an elite tattoo parlor in Las Vegas. When a girl makes an appointment for a tattoo of the name of her fiancĂ© embedded in a heart, Brett takes the job but the girl never shows. The next thing Brett knows, the police are looking for her client, and the name she wanted on the tattoo isn't her fiancĂ©'s...”

This book is a case of cover love…and it was free for my Kindle. And I know, I tend to get myself in trouble when I judge a book by its cover, but I’m glad I got this book. It was actually a really interesting read. And that always makes me a happy camper.

I really enjoyed the character of Brett. I felt like get a tattoo from her and then have a couple beers afterwards. She was a well rounded character that didn’t feel forced. Her personality and sense of humor seemed to be natural. The supporting characters played really well against Brett. I did feel that some characters were a little more flamboyant than others, but that was probably just to show that the Ms. Kavanaugh is pierced and tatted up, she’s the most normal and level headed person in the whole damn book.

I did enjoy the mystery story element. A woman who makes an appointment but then never comes. Another woman turns up dead. Finger being pointed at any and everyone, including Brett. Oh! The twists and turns! The twists were well place and each chapter seemed to have cliff hangers, which of course, made me curse and keep on reading. I couldn’t put the book down!

I only really have one issue with this book. I did feel that the set up for Brett’s ex-man that seemed to fail. Though he is not fully introduced in the book, I’m hoping that the ex at least makes some kind of appearance otherwise, I feel that is a waste of reading time.

Though this book had it’s cutesy factor to it (i.e. Me and My Gholefriends), I could handle it because Brett is well written and strong protagonist and the plot twists were well placed. Good job Amazon store for putting this on my Kindle as a recommendation to read and thanks for being free. Though to be honest, I would pay for it now knowing how awesome this book is. Here’s hoping the second book is not a letdown…

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

You know…not as action packed as the first two. In fact…it’s a bit of a downer.

My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.
“Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains--except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.”

So I had awesome expectations for this book. I mean, super high. The first book was amazing, and so was the second book that followed suit, but this one…this one left me feeling a little “meh.”

This book was beautifully written. It was poetic and sad and tragic. We see Katniss at her most venerable and her most real I feel. We see her shell-shocked and broken, different from the scheming and do anything to survive Katniss from the previous two books.
To me the book read like one of my dad’s old war novels with the sneaking behind enemy lines and the comrades falling to crazy mutant creatures. Okay, minus the crazy mutant creatures, but still dead nonetheless. The body count and bloodshed was impressive for what is supposed to be a young adult novel. Hell, I forgot from time to time to that this was supposed to be a book for teenagers, which in my mind, is always a plus.
With all the lovely things that I have said about this book, I still found it intensely boring at most parts. There is only so much of the ins and outs of Katniss’s depression and mindless complaints about being in District 13 that someone can take. I found myself struggling through sections of the book where she was in District 13 and being upset with how fast the action went by when it was over.
I did enjoy this book, I really did. I just felt that it was lack luster in comparison to the first two books. It was beautifully written, it was heartbreakingly tragic, and left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth when I got to the end and was left thinking that the epilogue was totally not needed.
So in the end: should you read the Hunger Game series? Absolutely. It is an epic tale that is not for the weak of heart.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vampire Academy-Richelle Mead

I know. I wasn’t too sure of the title either…

“St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever”

I totally avoid this book for a while. The title, to be honest, is a little hokey. I wasn’t too sure that I wanted to read this. I was not drawn in by the cover or the title. I think I first laid eyes on this book a couple years ago at the book store…and just walked by. However, I stumbled across a book called “Bloodlines” and thought, “ah! Now this looks interesting.” Of course, then I found out it was a spin off series of Vampire Academy. Damn. I’m going to have to read this series first.

But I am happy to report, I actually enjoyed this book. No, really. I did.

I enjoyed the character of Rose, the kickass Dhampir. She was tough and super sassy and had a mouth like a sailor: my favorite type of heroine. I forgot from time to time that I was reading a book about a teenage half vampire faced with a bang load of high school drama. From mean girls to high school prom fist fights, to protecting her best friends for falling head over heels for her instructor and mentor, Rose faces all these challenges that seem to fit with her fiery and head strong personality.

What I found super interesting what how Mead was able to take the mythology of vampires and tweak it. I appreciated that there was a history lesson in the book about the history of the vampires and the dhampirs. It helped develop and ground the story in a believe reality.  

With all books I felt there were flaws in the story. My main little niggle of dislike was Lissa. Though Rose is strong and independent, I felt that bother her and Lissa relied too much on each other. Yeah, yeah. I get the why. They are spirit bound together and blah blah blah. I felt that Lissa was a character that was holding Rose back. Granted, Lissa did keep Rose in check when Rose got a little too crazy. However, near the end of the book, Lissa did seem to discover some self reliance that she did not have when first introduced.

By the time I ended reading this book, I found that I have to finish reading this series. One book down, five to go. Here’s hoping that these books do not end up making me made like the House of Night books did. (And that is a totally different blog post)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Catching Fire-Suzanne Collins

Wait. Wait. Say what?!

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create. Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.”

First, let me say, HOLY CRAP! This is one amazing book. Not as strong as the first book, but still amazing. In this book we see Katniss develop into a character that is better defined. In Hunger Games, she was a strong, kick ass and take names kinda gal who is one hell of a shot with a bow and arrow. Those she is still that person in this book; however, there is a vulnerability to her that was not in the first book. She is being forced into a position where she must fall in line and be a good girl, or President Snow will take everyone she loves away from her.

I will give you guys a bit of a spoiler here, so if you don’t want to read what happens, stop now and skip to the last bit of this review.  It is the third quarter quell, the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a lesson must be taught to the people of Panem: even the strongest cannot stand against the Captial. Therefore, the stronger who survived The Hunger Games will be picked to go back into the Arena. Of course, in District 12’s case there is only Katniss, Peeta and Haymich. I liked how it was not just the victors that were affected, but we saw how the people in the Capital were also affected. Not just the items that are imported to them, but also that their victors, are forced to face the horrors of the Arena.

I could not put this book down. The action itself didn’t pick up until Katniss is called back to the Capital for the Hunger Games. However, I was pulled into the story more by Katniss’ trying to discover herself in a post Hunger Games world. The sorrow and guilt she felt combined with her anger and disgust for the society that she was born into.

I’m not going to lie. I was pissed at the end. Not that it was a bad ending, but for the fact that it was a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. And due to this…I just had to go and buy Mockingjay. Damn you Suzanne Collins for making me spend money on amazing books!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Divergent-Veronica Roth

Pick a Faction…any Faction…

“In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.”

I find that these Young Adult Dystopias fall in one of two categories for me: Hunger Games and not the Hunger Games. Yeah, I know. It’s kind of a crappy thing to do to books. However, this book just might break that mold and change my mind into Good Dystopias and Bad Dystopias. Don’t worry folks. This is falls into the Good Dystopias.

From the beginning, this book shows the main character, Beatrice Prior, as someone who didn’t quite fit in with. Not that she was an out and out rebel, but someone who was just slightly different. In the Chicago that Beatrice Prior lives in, society has broken down and five Factions have been developed: Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), Dauntless (the brave), and Abnegation (the selfless). Our heroine is form the Abnegation Faction. The first couple chapters explore Beatrice’s life as Abnegation and how she feels towards them. I like how Roth made Beatrice view her family as an outsider, someone that doesn’t really belong.

I liked the progression of the story as Beatrice chooses to be Dauntless, leaving her Abnegation family behind. Looking ahead of her in what it means to be Dauntless, you see the perversion of the Faction’s standards and what it means to be one of them. Slowly, Beatrice and Four, uncover the blot to over throw the Factions establishment. Without going into too much detail and causing spoilers, the action was well balanced with the drama and suspense of the Dauntless initiation. There were a couple spots in the story that I felt were a little slow, but for the most part the story was well paced and didn’t feel too slow or too fast. It was like Baby Bear: just right.

The only issued I had with the book was the romance. Not that it was bad, and it was well written, I just felt that it kind of came out of no where and was a little too up and down. I understand that Four has to pretend to have nothing to do with Beatrice as to protect her, but I felt that if I was Beatrice (or Trice, as she’s called once she becomes Dauntless), I’d just say “forget it” and focus on kicking ass and taking names. But then again, that could just be my preference. Sometime I feel some romances in books are hooky and silly, feeling forced. I prefer some good ol' fashion ass kicking with a tiny side of romance.

I loved that Beatrice and several others in the book are Divergent, it’s a good contrast to the world of Factions. To be Divergent is to belong to more than one Faction. And in this world, you are either in a Faction, or you are Factionless. There is no in between.

The end of this book left me thinking “What the heck?!” So of course, I have to read the second book, Insurgent. How will the world of Factions survive a revolt? Here’s hoping that Insurgent will be just as action packed as Divergent.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

PSA-Tragedy in Denver

I love movies. Like books, they are that escape from reality we all need from time to time. At one point I use to work at a movie theater. I worked there for two years. Hell, that’s how I met my husband. I was technically his boss and all, but we fell in love there watching movies and speaking nerd.

Normally, I don’t say much when it comes to national tragedies because I know that everyone is feeling the grief and anger over what happened. But for what occurred in Denver, CO at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight rises, but I feel I have to. I was in middle school when the Oklahoma City Bombing happened, and I was in high school when Colombine shocked the nation. I was a freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma, sitting in university center drinking coffee watching the news when I saw the first plane crash into World Trade Center in New York. To me, those were true acts of terrorism. They still affected me, but not on such a personal level as what happened in Denver.

***Here comes the ranting and preachy part of my soap box speech. I promise I’m going to try to keep this calm and professional, but some bad words might slip in…***

To the victims, families of those injured or killed, and the city of Denver, CO: My heart is truly breaking for you right now. As someone who loves movies, and whose husband and friends are always going to Midnight shows dressed as characters for high profile movies, the theater should be a fun place to go. Not a place to fear. I know that this has tainted you, and justifiably so, but don’t let the person who did this to you ruin your love of movies or your life. It is a tough time for you truly, but know there are people throughout this nation, hell, even the world, who are sending you love and prayers. With enough love, we can stamp out the darkness.

To the Nation and the World: Please do not blame Christopher Nolan for this tragedy. It’s not right and it’s not fair. Movies, books, comic books, and all other forms of art is not what triggers people to do such heinous acts against their fellow man. Once a psychopath/sociopath, always one. This guy was already crazy when he decided make a plan on opening fire on a room full of innocent people who were just trying to have an awesome time watching the new Batman movie. Now and forever, this incident will be dubbed “The Batman Massacre.” Do not make Christopher Nolan anymore upset by blaming this on him. He had nothing to do with what happened. But if you do blame him, SHAME ON YOU!

To James Holmes: Fuck You. Simple as that. Some people are going to want to know why you could have done this and ruined the lives not only people in Denver, CO but the rest of the nation. A movie theater is suppose to be a safe and beautiful place to escape the world we live in today. But you decided to take a piss all over that, ruining the one happy place that we, as a nation, can leave the troubles of our lives behind for a few hours. Myself, I don’t really want to know what made you think that this was a good idea. I really don’t. I am not going to let your infamy reign. I am going to choose to remember those who died. Not you. Let me throw this out there in your face: You will be tried, and you will be found guilty for killing your fellow man. Now, if you get the death penalty or not, that is up to the State of Colorado. Normally, I am against death penalty, because I feel the worse prison is forcing them to live out their days under the watchful Eye of the Man knowing that he will never ever be free again. But, in your case, I could possibly turn to the other cheek, the one that lets you fry for killing the one thing that we as a nation could all rely on: The Movies.

So my piece has been said, and I will let it rest at that. I will say no more on this subject. I will let the families and the City of Denver mourn in peace. But let us all remember, don’t blame the entertainment industry for this. Blame the individual who decided to pull the trigger. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Hollows Insider-Kim Harrison

Class is in session. Time to read up folks!

“New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison has won legions of fans with her sexy supernatural novels featuring bounty-hunting witch Rachel Morgan. And now comes a unique look inside her beloved Hollows series that no fan should miss.
The Hollows Insider 
In the Hollows, the supernatural Inderlanders rule, and humanity must abide by their conventions, or else. To survive among vampires, witches, Weres, gargoyles, trolls, fairies, and banshees - to say nothing of demons - humanity needs a guide. And now, written by Kim Harrison herself, here is an insider's look at the supernatural world of the Hollows, from an overarching new story to character profiles, maps, spell guides, charm recipes, secret correspondence from the elusive Trent Kalamack, and much more.
Enter the world of the Hollows like never before!
One misfired spell is all it took to sent investigative reporter Devin Crossman on a mission to uncover all the secrets of bounty-hunting witch Rachel Morgan and expose them to the world. Herewith are all of Devin's notebook entries, a treasure trove of evidence including maps, speces profiles, magic spells, documents from Inderland Security, Takata's song lyrics, Betty Bob's recipes, ley line charms, entries from the Were Registry, articles from the Hollows Gazette, Rynn Cormel's Vampire Dating Guide, demonic spells, and many more entries that cast light into regions of the Hollows that have never been revealed.
But Crossman's one-man war against Rachel Morgan has not gone unnoticed...”

This is a book I got for Christmas in 2011 from my mother-in-law and at that point decided she was the best mother-in-law in the history of all mother-in-laws. When I saw the gorgeous cover, I literally squealed like a little girl. Yeah, awesome mother-in-law.

This textbook sized companion guide to the world of Rachel Morgan is amazing. It is defiantly made for the fans for us to truly understand Harrison’s world she has created. And Harrison poured a lot of love into this book.

You can tell everything was carefully thought out. Though the layout of the book is that of an academic book,  it felt more like an additional story told from a different point of view. Devin Crossman’s journal entries were fun to read, giving a human point of view on a world of the Hallows. My favorite part of the book is the Inderland Security documents, describing the different species from witch to pixy, from banshee to vampire. It provided an awesome insight into what is Rachel Morgan’s Hallows.

This is of course, like I said before, a companion book to The Hallows series. And with companion books, you need to read the books. How many of these books should you read before delving into the Insider's Guide? I would at least the first four books (Dead Witch Walking; The Good, the Bad and the Undead; Every Which Way But Dead; A Fist Full Of Charms). And my dear friends, I know I have said it before, but really, you should read this series if you haven't yet.

I know this was a short review, but to really appreciate this book, you have to be a fan of the Hallows. And not just “yeah, these books are alright” but a dye in the wool “Rachel Morgan is one bad ass check who I cannot get enough of” type of fan. And Ms. Harrison, let me say to you thanks, for thinking of your fans and putting this book together.  It was a blast to read and I feel like I know so much more and appreciate your amazing story telling. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eat Slay Love-Jesse Petersen

Lock and load, ladies and gents. It’s time to kill some zombies.

“Sarah and David have survived the zombie apocalypse. They stood side by side and fought the undead, mad scientists, and even bionic monsters until the unthinkable happened. A zombie bite. But not even that could stop them. Now, with a possible cure in hand, they're headed east, looking for a safe zone behind the rumored "Wall." They're feeling pretty optimistic. That is until Dave stops sleeping and starts lifting huge objects.”

I am so glad that I finally got around to reading the third installment of Jesse Petersen’s Living with the Dead series. I have to say, Ms. Petersen, bravo.  I just don’t know how to thank you for writing such amazing zombie tales.

Sarah and David are still relatable characters, but there is something more to David since surviving a zombie bite thanks to a miracle drug made by Dr. Kevin in the last book, Flip This Zombie. He seems to need less sleep, is stronger, and also seems to be immune to zombies. As with all really awesome books, I can see myself as Sarah and my husband William as David. Though we sometimes are nit-picky with each other, we make a really bad ass team: smart and snarky. And I’m pretty sure if it came down to it, we could be pretty good shots with shot guns.

As an Oklahoman, I totally appreciated that most of the book was set in Oklahoma. And I know that some folks from this state can get a little up in arms about how we are depicted (i.e. Grapes of Wrath) but I could totally see the commune from the beginning of the book being formed here in than one town on the outskirts of Oklahoma City and Tulsa (and maybe Lawton…). And that’s what so great about reading Petersen’s zombie stories: the characters are believable. There is that delicate balance that has be to walked between the ordinary and the extraordinary. I can accept that there is a chance that David has super Zombie Powers without being a zombie because David is a believable individual. I enjoyed the addition of paparazzi news anchor and the drugged out rock star. They provided not only additional entertainment and humor, but also other characters for Sarah and David to interact with.

The mythical Wall proved to be true but not what Sarah and David and company expected. And of course, if you have read Jesse Petersen’s series of short stories, you would have gotten that sense that of course they are not letting those who have survived the End of the World through the Wall.

I’m glad to see that Jesse Petersen left us all hanging in what could possibly happen next to Sarah and David. The difference between this book and the first one: we have left behind the chick lit for some balls to the wall action. It’s no longer about their marriage, it’s been saved. Now, its just about saving the world. Once again I say, let’s lock and load. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Third Grave Dead Ahead-Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson: I know you are a fictional character…but can we be friends forever? Please?

“Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back! And she's drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because every time she closes her eyes she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan. Granted she did imprison Reyes for all eternity, but how is she supposed to solve a missing-persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hell-bent on murder when the devil's son just won't give up on his plan of seduction..... and revenge?”

So I’m going to sing the praises for this book and you people are just going to have to suck it and accept it. No snarky comments about this book. Nooooo. Just a giant love fest  because Darynda Jones has once again come through with further developing Charley’s personality and powers as a grim reaper, and making me laugh out loud and slap my forehead with the things that she says and does. The Reyes plot and the missing wife story line blended well together and I almost forgot that there were two separate story lines. All the characters are well balanced and there is no “plot fodder” (my husband’s description for characters that are mentioned once only to turn up dead. Filler so to speak. My husband is kinda brilliant). 

On a side note, Cookie is even more hysterical in this book than the last two. I picture myself as Cookie when I get a little bit older. But I digress.

The physical interaction between Charley and Reyes was interesting and fun to read. This was the only time they have really been around each other since the first time they met when they were teenagers. Sure, Charley has seen and did some baw-chicka-wa-wa when Reyes in his non physical form. The tension Charley felt was not so much a sexual one (though there was that one scene...), but a “OMG, this guy is an escaped convict.” Reyes is a strange combination of brutal son of Satan and gentle and caring uncle and brother.  And of course, Jones made still made Reyes uber sexy and an uber bastard all at once: makes you love to hate him, and hate to love him. Grr!

My most favorite part of the book was at the beginning when, a poor Charley, who has not slept in two weeks, drives over to Garret’s house, and upon entering his home, turns around and thinks that he has no pants on. And then, she flips out and covers her eyes yelling and embarrassed that he has no pants and crashes into the wall. I was laughing out loud so hard out loud that my husband asked me what was going on. Jones has some great comedic timing with Charley and the situations she was in throughout this book.

I was most pleased when she laid the law down with Reyes and everybody else at the end of the book. I will not go too much into detail, because really if you haven’t started reading this series yet you should and I don’t want to spoil anything for you, she pretty much gives Reyes the middle finger in an amazing display of her grim reaper powers.

I’m going to throw this out to the universe and say Darynda Jones, I totally can’t wait till October 30th for the next installment, Fourth Grave Under My Feet. No. For reals…I can’t wait. Because I know it’s going to be totally amazing! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter-Seth Grahame-Smith

Oh my peas and carrots! How can one not want to read a book with this title?

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."
"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.
Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.
When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House. While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

I read Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the play on a classic. So when I saw the really cool cover and awesome title of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, how could I not want to read a book this book? I was expecting something a little campy told in a fictional way, full of action and adventure and the 16th president killing vampires. But what did I get? Nada. Nil. Zilch. And let me say…I fill slightly jilted. Just an FYI, there is a spoiler ahead as to how the book ends, but I really need to voice my dissatisfaction with the ending.

Here’s my main issue with this book: YAAAAWWWNNN! It was so boring. It read like a biography, which, yeah, I get. But for me, it’s hard to read biographies. It’s just not something that sparks my interest. And the author was trying so hard to write some kind of action into this faux biography but it fell flat and felt forced.  Also, the ending was kind of a cop-out I feel. It’s like Graham-Smith forgot until after the fact that Lincoln had been assassinated and then tried to pull some verbal ninja move and turn it around and make Lincoln a vampire. I mean, really? COME ON! Should have just let the man stay dead.

I can appreciate that Grahame-Smith was able to tweak and weave the idea of vampires into a fictional telling of the life of Abraham Lincoln. You can tell the Grahame-Smith took time picking all the correct words to make sure that the story he was trying to sale you, you would buy. Unfortunately, for me, I could not suspend reality and buy what the author was selling.

It's been a little over a month since I finished reading this book, and as I look back on it, I get a little more peeved that I allow myself to get caught up in the hype. I try so hard, and sometimes the hype is worth it, and sometimes it's not. And Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was not worth the hype. Maybe the movie will be better...but then again maybe not....

Me and My Ghoulfriends-Rose Pressey

Oh wait…was there really a plot to this book? Wait…oh! There it is…I think…

“By day, Larue Donavan is a down-to-earth bookstore owner. But by night, she's a world-renowned psychic investigator dedicated to helping lost spirits find peace. Dead people won't leave her alone and Abraham Lincoln thinks he's in charge of her lovelife. Larue can handle ghosts and undead presidents. It's the living who drive her crazy. When Callahan Weiss moves to town, the handsome newcomer opens a coffee shop right next door. She's smitten from the start, but she's not the only one -- The boutique owner across the street has her eye on Callahan too, and uses witchcraft to fight dirty. When Callahan gets hit by a love spell, Larue will need more than a little help from her ghoul-friends to save the day.”

So I know that first little line is dripping with snarky sassiness, but let me say that this is story was not bad. But it wasn’t fantastic. It was well, mediocre. I would prefer leaning towards either end of the scale in determining if this book was good or bad. But the scales of my book review justice did not want to tip in either direction.

The thing that drove me a little bonkers about this book was that this girl really didn’t seem to have anything better to do than drool over Callahan Weiss (who seems a little too dream boat for me and over the top perfect for my taste), and not liking the evil witchy boutique owner (which, I mean for good reason. She was a bitch). The story was rather slow and I had a hard time getting behind Larue, who in my mind seemed a little wishy-washy. I’m so use to reading paranormal and urban fantasy that is fast paced and full of action, so while I was reading this I found myself bored with Larue’s pinning and whining.

However, all this being said, the writing was decent and certain characters were very fun to read. I did enjoy the interaction between Larue and her ghostly friends. It seemed like they were the only ones who really genuinely gave a crap about Larue and her love life.

I might have enjoyed the book a little bit more if I hadn't read two action pack books prior to this one. But I love my paranormal with a nice big helping of kick ass. Rose Pressey wrote a simply nice story that was a little too cutesy for me. If you need a fluffy chick lit book with little substance, this is totally a book that you should read then.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Perfect Blood-Kim Harrison

Oh Rachel. What have you gotten yourself into now?

“Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth--a would-be creator is determined to make his (or her) own demons. But it can't be done without Rachel's blood”

So the end of Pale Demon totally left me hanging. I wasn’t too sure what to think. What? Rachel with no magic? I mean sure, Rachel has to hide from the demons in the Everafter because she ripped a hole in reality and all, but she is cut off. Hiding being a shiny piece of silver made by Trent with Elf magic, Rachel tries to determine who she is and what she is in A Perfect Blood. Kim Harrison does it again in creating a story that makes me stay up late, turning page after page trying to keep up with the drama that surrounds Rachel’s life.

Harrison shakes it up having a hate group that everyone thought had disappeared resurface, putting Rachel smack dap in the middle of everything. Witches are being killed and turned into something else more frightening and grotesque. And of course, Rachel is being asked to help, or they think she has something do with it.

This book had action in it, but it was more about the internal struggle going on inside of Rachel rather than ass kicking bad guys…though there is some ass kicking of bad guys. It was nice to see this introspective Rachel. I like the struggle of her deciding what to do with the powers given to her and what it really means to be a demon.

The “relationship” that seems to be developing between Trent and Rachel is slow and natural throughout the book. I’m not sure if I see it developing anymore into romance, to seems more like a really close friendship. I think they understand too much of each other and have too much of a negative in their past to make to ever make them a good romantic couple. But then again, I am probably totally wrong and in the next book we will see Rachel and Trent kissing in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

The best part about reading Rachel’s adventures is that when I read, I am totally in Rachel’s shoes. I see through her eyes and totally can root for her and also slap myself in the head at some of the things she says and does. Rachel is still totally amazing, and I cannot wait to see what’s in stall for her now that she has accepted her demon powers and what my favorite character, Al, has in store for her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dead, Undead, or Somewhere In Between-J.A. Saare

We all have rules. But Rhiannon’s rules usually include a billy club cracking a few skulls.

“One bad corpse can ruin your whole day. No one knows that better than Rhiannon Murphy.
She left behind the flash and sass of Miami for the no-nonsense groove of New York City, eager for a clean slate and a fresh start. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her—until now. The deliciously good-looking vampire, Disco, knows her secret. When he strolls into her bar to solicit help investigating the mysterious disappearances of his kind from the city, Rhiannon discovers he’s not the kind of person that appreciates the significance of the word no. But in a world where vampires peddle their blood as the latest and greatest drug of choice, it’s only a matter of time before the next big thing hits the market. Someone or something is killing vampires to steal their hearts, and unlike Rhiannon, this isn’t their first stroll around the undead block.”

My dear friend Jenn lent this to me through the Kindle and I have to say, the internet is amazing. Anyway, I was in need of something adult and not young adult and figured: Necormancer, vampires, the heroine who is bartender in a strip club. You know some bad ass action is in store for the reader.

I must say that I was pleased. I was in dire need of some action in a book and Ms. J.A. Saare delivered. It was sassy and fun, filled with language that any pirate would be proud of, and an interesting twisting mystery of murdered vampires.

I liked that Rhiannon is, for lack of a better phrase, full of true grit. She’s comfortable in her own skin and with who she is and she doesn’t really care what you might think of her. And if she needs, she'll whoop your ass with her home made billy club. The supporting characters helped show her rang of emotional highs and lows and her growing power as a necromancer. Saare developed a fun female lead that you cannot help but root for.

I was, however, put off by the brutal retelling of Rhiannon’s past as well as the baw-chicka-wah-wah scene with Disco and Rhiannon. To me, it just seemed a little too excessive. I felt slight uncomfortable reading the two scenes, like I had accident walked in and saw something I shouldn’t have seen or heard.

Overall, a great book with an amazing twist at the end that left me saying “What in the hell just happened?!” I am totally going to have to read the second installment of the Rhiannon’s Law series.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Iron King-Julie Kagawa

The poor pretty farm girl turns out to be a Faery Princess? Of course. Who didn’t see that one coming?

“Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined. Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home. When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.”

So to be completely honest, I’m not too sure what caught my attention regarding this particular book. I don’t think it was the cover. It wasn’t the description of the book because it sounds like every other young adult book out there. Maybe it was something that I found on Goodreads and thought, what the heck? And to be honest, I tried reading this book about a year ago and it just didn’t pan out for some reason or another. Pretty sure it had something to do with another book I actually wanted to read. But I did finally get to reading this book, and I have to say, I’m glad I did.

Granted, it had most of the typical young adult staples in it, and we all know what they are so I will not go too much into it. I have never read a faery novel before so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I enjoyed the classic literary characters of Puck, Oberon, Titania, and Mab. The beautiful and deadly description of the world of the fae was fun and interesting. I loved the idea of the Iron Fey, because well, it makes sense really. We live in a world where imagination is tied directly with technology. How often do you hear anymore of Nature and it’s great inspiration? Not too much really. So the epic battle between Old and New is a good back drop for the story.

I found some of passages harder to read than others because Megan is like every other young adult female lead, moody and petulant, and the Winter Prince  was just like every other tragic male lead who is drawn to the heroine but is mean to her but then makes some play like she’s his saving grace. The only character that was well written was Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck. But of course, he got shafted in the end.

I enjoyed this story. It left me pleasantly surprised and my interest is slightly peaked to read the second book in the series. Good job Ms. Julie Kagawa. You might have gotten yourself a fan of your book series…

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Countdown-Mira Grant

Where the end of the world began. Total bummer.

“The year is 2014, the year everything changed. We cured cancer. We cured the common cold. We died.
This is the story of how we rose.
When will you rise?”
While reading this novella, I developed a love/hate relationship with this story. I loved the introduction of how zombies came into being. The development of the cure for the common cold and the cure for cancer was interesting and helped explained the back story from the Newsflesh series. I loved how Mira Grant gave a personality to the virus, how it patiently waited for the right time to infect and spread. My favorite party of the story was near the end when describing how the mom went into sudden “amplification” and her body turned and she became a zombie, so to speak.
Now, the hate part. Though Mira Grant is a great writer, I felt that parts of the story dragged. I had to force myself not skip through paragraphs so I wouldn’t miss anything that was going to be important that would give me a better insight into the world of Newflesh. Or, at least that’s what it felt like. Mira Grant managed to pull me into the story where I was afraid to pull my eyes away in fear that I will miss something, but able to kinda bore me at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Mira Grant. I love her detail and her characters. But for me, this novella was a little difficult to get through. I still loved it though. It helped satisfy my need for a zombie story that was different and though provoking; because let’s face it, maybe the cure for the common cold and cancer are right around the corner…and it’s just waiting to meet up and cause the end of the world.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Shambling with the Stars-Jesse Petersen

Celebrity telethon for a zombie outbreak? Ridiculous sounding…but it could totally happen…

“Avery Andrews is her name and directing celebrity telethons after tragedies is her game. But the Northwestern Zombie Outbreak isn't your average tragedy... and once the infection spreads to the studio, Avery and her crew will have to worry about staying alive, not ratings.”

Ms. Petersen. Congrats on being able to make me laugh and be a little scared while thinking “Yeah…this would totally happen.” Being just a regular plain Jane, not a part of the Hollywood scene, it seemed foreign to me. But Petersen did a great job of describing the set up with Avery and her crew in the control room and how after the shit hits the fan and celebrities start chomping on each other, the personalities of each person in the control room react.

What I think Petersen did best was how fast she moved the story along. From the first bite to the mad dash out of the studio for Avery and her assistant, this story was a fast read. I read it in about 30 minutes. I was a little sad when I got to the end because I really did want more. This (and her collection of zombie short stores In The Dead) is an amazing little vignette morsel of yummy blood soaked goodness. But it’s not just a scary story, it’s one that makes you laugh and makes you think about what would you do when the zombie apocalypse comes? Will you freak out and kill yourself by sticking keys into a high voltage piece of equipment? Will you be in denial? Or if you’re bitten, will you do what you can to help your friends survive until you’re not yourself anymore?

Ms. Petersen: Thanks again for making me laugh at the absurdity of humanity and what would happen if Zombies started roaming around. Much appreciated.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box-Mira Grant

Doesn’t always seem to start off as a game?

“Every week five friends get together to play a game-- a game they call the Apocalypse Game. It's a fun time with chips and beer and plotting the end of the world. Except this time, one of them is missing and the stakes are higher than ever before.”

This was a great short story. I mean, really short story. I was kind of surprised by how short it was. But whatever. I’m okay with that. I loved the idea of a group of friends getting together to plot the end of the world. But little does the group of friends know, one of them has actually been doing just that.

Mira Grant has this great ability to set up a totally unassuming situation and then turn it suspenseful. The missing friend having her cheating boyfriend play a recording of her voice describing her scenario as a true to life thing, and then giving vaccinating them and giving the same vaccination to give to their friends and family. And then the end with the knock on the door, and that person coughing just seemed to be the icing on the cake for the suspense of a virus ending the world.

I’m not too sure if this is tied to Grant’s Newsflesh series, but there’s a ominous sense that it is tied the the viruses that caused Grant’s zombie apocalypse.  But oh my zombies! I can’t wait to read to get my little hands on the next Newsflesh book, Blackout. Totally stoked.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In the Dead-Jesse Petersen

You know, I love a good set of zombie survivor tales.

“When the Zombie Apocalypse began in Seattle and spread within days to almost the entire western half the country, the survivors had to figure out how to deal with the plague and live one day at a time. These are their stories.”

Jesse Petersen wrote an amazing compilation of zombie survivor stories. Each story was different from the next. They were more funny, sad and disturbing as the book progressed. I have to say I have read two out of three of Ms. Petersen’s main zombie books series, Living with the Dead, and they are amazing, but I found that these stories more fun to read. The end of each story left me frustrated for more. Not a bad frustrated, but a good one where I was left saying “really?! No more?!” Petersen did an amazing job leaving us, her readers begging for more, without getting pissed off...because there’s nothing I hate more than a book that just seems to peter out and end with a whimper instead of a bang. And thankfully, Petersen doesn't let this happen.

My favorite story was the wedding one. It seemed to be the most satisfying read of them all while I felt that the TV show one felt a little forced. But the one that seemed frighteningly true to human nature was the zoo short story. Can you imagine the government and/or the Private Sector, after the hulabalue of the zombie apocalypse, capturing a couple zombies and then putting them on display for the entire world to see? And then some kid who is being poorly supervised goes and starts what could the second wave of zombie apocalypse? I totally can!

Jesse Petersen captures all that is good and bad about society and shows us that even though the world comes to an end, people really don’t change that much: we are either the survivors, or those that take advantage of the survivors. Man, I can’t wait to read Eat Slay Love and Shambling with the Stars!

The Zona-Nathan L. Yocum

So the world ends. Arizona gets renamed to “The Zona” which is ruled by theocracy simply known as “The Church.” Wait, wait! There’s more!

“The Storms came, and with them disease and blight like mankind had never experienced. Most died, and those who didn't were quick to scramble for weapons, wealth, and control. Petty lords gave way to new societies, and from the ashes of old came the Reformed Arizona Theocracy, or simply put, the Zona. The laws are simple, all sins are punished swiftly and violently. The enforcers, otherwise known as Preachers, roam the lands hunting disgraced men and women. But what happens when Preachers stop killing? What happens when men of honor take a stand against their rulers?”

Let me preface this review with this little story:
Now that I have a Kindle Fire, I love searching the free books section. Granted, a lot of it seems to be not so good or mediocre, but free is free and what if I find that one little gem? I mean, I’m thinking of self publishing myself, so I wanna look for what not to do. So scanning through the free books and what do I find? I “The Zona” with its very simply graphic cover. Looking at this, I’m pretty sure it’s not self published. Read the description. Okay. Sounded interesting. Then I started reading and this book turned out to be almost like S.G Brown’s “Breathers”: It was a case of cover lust. I was tricked.

Now, I don’t want to say the writing was awful. It wasn’t. It was okay. I can see where he was going with the naming of titles and how the scenes of the book were broken up, you can tell it’s written by a screenwriter and not a novelist. As someone who has written a screenplay (yes, I have a completed screenplay that I am way to scared to pitch for fear of rejection and insult), I can tell. I know he was probably trying to put a spin on the writing style to make the story of Lead memorable, but all it left me was feeling confused.

Story wise, I was bored. I kept waiting for something action packed and climactic come to Lead. But, really, all I got was one scene where Lead hallucinates and almost dies, and the other scene is near the end of the book where he fights off the crazed Crusaders. Here was my main issue with this book: I did not like any of the characters. I couldn’t get behind any of them. Terrance, maybe. But Lead, there was nothing that made me say, yeah, he’s the hero and this is the guy I should be rooting for. But why should I be rooting for him? He wasn’t the one who made the choice to break from the Church and stop being a Preacher. It was pretty much made for him. All the other characters were fly by night, never signifying much of anything.
I was reading through the reviews on Goodreads, and most of the reviews are glowing to 3 to 5 stars. I gave it two. And I feel like I was being generous…

I really wished I could have liked this book, but I actually was so bored with it, I stopped reading it and managed to knock out 3 novellas (which were awesome! Reviews to come) before I had to knuckle down and finish this book.

I was reading through the reviews on Goodreads, and most of the reviews are glowing to 3 to 5 stars. I gave it two. And I feel like I was being generous. But really, the world ending by some crazy off the chain storm? If there is an apocalypse, I say bring on the zombies.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins

You know what this book is? Running Man…for teenagers…

“Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survived.”

So I know some of you are way too young to remember Running Man, so let me some up. It’s an old school Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where folks are subjected to run around a death obstacle course while people bet on who will win and die. Which…is kinda what is happening in the Hunger Games… 
However, in this dystopian world, America is gone. All that is left is the ominous Capital and the twelve surrounding Districts. Our hero, Katniss Everdeen, is from the broken and despaired riddled District Twelve, where they mine for coal. Author Suzanne Collins makes sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen a hardened teenager who does what she has to do to survive, which means poaching and gathering beyond the Fence. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book. Katniss hunting in the woods is a good indicator of the type of person she will be and become throughout the book. 
For me, the story rises and falls for me. Her time at the Capital feels like a lull in the book. But then again, all of that time was spent with preparation for the Hunger Games. But even though it was a lull in action, it was interesting to see the dramatic differences from the normal folks in the Districts and those in the Capital. To me it was a little over done with the body paint, crazy hair color, and body modifications, but it worked to show the extravagancy and power that the Capital holds over Panem. 
What Collins does best is describe why the Hunger Games had to be. Once upon a time there were thirteen districts and when they rebelled against the Capital, the Capital squished them by decimating (such an amazing word) District 13 and developing the Hunger Games, taking the peoples children from the age of twelve to eighteen, one male and one female, and forcing them together in an arena of death to kill each other for the Capital’s amusement and to remind the people of the twelve district what happens when you rebel. 
I loved this book. I really did. I was impressed by how well written it was. It made me forget from time to time that I was reading a young adult book. However, I feel that there is a formula that all YA books seem to go by: pretty girl who doesn’t know she’s pretty, the sweet and lovable hero that the pretty girl has mixed emotions for, and the other guy that the pretty girl just can’t get out of her mind. However, this typical YA formula was softened by the violence of the Hunger Games. I was really kind of impressed. 
I got to the end of the book and felt that there really was no real ending. I know there are a few people left out in the world who have not read this book, so I will not be offering up any spoilers. But talking about an non-climactic ending. I mean, I get it, we have to be left hanging so there can be a second book, but I feel that the book just kinda peters out and says “Yeah, I’m kinda sleepy. Gonna take a nap.” 
This book offered a lot for someone who, as of late, is sullen and jaded about whatever books might come my way. So thanks Suzanne Collins for writing a book is unique in a genre of YA dystopians that seem to litter the book market. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

So I figured I’d save some time and review two books at once…I mean…they are in the same series. And it is a short review of both books. 

"Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to diabolical. In this latest installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop them, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth--a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn."

The Battle of the Labyrinth seems to be an Annabeth-centric story. Granted, the tale is told by Percy, but the main focus seems to be put on Annabeth. And thankfully, it wasn’t as a romantic interest, though those feelings do start to peek through. We see Annabeth as she tries to hide her struggles with leading a quest. She is stubborn almost to a fault. When the minor god Janus appears down in the Labyrinth, we see her at her weakest as a bit more the prophecy concerning the Big Three’s children is revealed a little bit more. This tale ends leaving up wondering what is yet to come for Camp Half-Blood and the gods of Olympus, who are slowly being turned against but demi-gods and minor gods alike.  I think my favorite character in the entire book was the Labyrinth itself. Its constant changing made for fun reading because you never knew what the Labyrinth would throw at our heroes. It’s trickery only bested by Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the mortal who can see through the mist. She is able to lead them through the ever changing maze. She is an interesting character that builds up to be a very important character in the next book.

"In this momentous final book in the "New York Times"-bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's 16th birthday unfolds. As the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate."

So not the best description...but this book is by far the most dangerous and action packed for Mr. Jackson. The Last Olympian did have me wondering…who is the Last Olympian? More action packed and emotional than the previous books, we see Percy make decisions that will curse him and make him a hero all at once. But I'm not telling you who the last Olympian is, that's something you can read for yourself.  I think my favorite part of this book when Percy takes a dip in the River Styxs in the Underworld. It is terrifying and emotional. From Achilles’ plea for him to turn away, to the pain that Percy goes through, to realizing who means the most to him and what saved him. Percy’s dip in the River Styxs makes him practically indestructible, but at the same time, leaves him venerable. We see Percy struggle to keep his pride and power in check, because that is really the curse Achilles’ is talking about: allowing oneself to become cocky and arrogant, thinking that they are unbeatable. Pretty deep for a kids book, huh?  But alas, the story ends with the Titans defeated (I’m not telling you how, that you’ll have to find out on your own) and finally Rick Riordan introduces a little romance: Annabeth and Percy play kissy face in a bubble under the water. Yeah. Nice one. 

Here’s what I love most about the Percy Jackson Series: they make me forgot that I am reading books that are meant for my eleven year old nephew. That’s a sign of an awesome book in my mind. All the references are, of course, a bit kid friendly, but I can these books and not be concerned over feeling all pre-teen angstiness. Riordan does this magic trick that allows me to be sucked into his book with his great action scenes. I’m so glad I was able to be sucked into the world of Greek gods. Makes me want to be a demi-god myself.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Own PSA: When Life Gets In The Way

It always seems that Life likes to get in my way and prevent me from enjoy my time writing books reviews. In this case, it's my job as a claims adjuster. My work hours are 10am-7pm. And to be honest, I really haven't had that much time to read since getting out of training. I find that I am totally allowing my job to take over my life. Now, at this point in my life, not too sure what that means. But, I do promise you this: I will schedule more time for me, and that means going on far off adventures in books, allowing myself to be lost for hours. Because lets face it, I have the number three stressful job ever. And though being a full time working mom and wife takes up most of my time, I need to get back to what makes me happy: reading and writing. So, book reviews to come, I promise. Hopefully I'll have a review up for The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan up by Monday night.

Nerd out and have an awesome weekend!
-Candace : )

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices #2)-Cassandra Clare

Oh Ms. Clare…a sequel to your YA Victorian Steampunk Shawdowhunter series, known as The Infernal Devices?! My oh my! I think I have a case of the vapers!

“In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends. With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.”

 I cannot tell you how awesome it was to get this book from my mother-in-law for Christmas. I actually stopped reading a book to read this one. And I am so glad I did. This is such an amazing book. Better than the first, which was totally amazing as well! We delve deeper into the mystery of who is Tessa Grey and there is also some baw-chicka-wah-wah action in this book that had me blushing. Cheeky Ms. Clare!

I have found in the YA supernatural/paranormal genre, there always seems to be some kind of love triangle. This annoys me most of the time. But Cassandra Clare is so good, that I totally forget about the love triangle between Tessa, Jem and Will. We see Tessa’s heart being pulled in both directions, but she’s a smart enough girl that she has bigger problems. I find all of Clare’s female characters are a good combination of tough and vulnerable, and none of those characters are the same. I enjoy the Infernal Devices series a little bit more I think because I fell that Tessa is strong and determined, while Clary from Mortal Instruments is moody teenage girl.  Both characters are strong, but I feel Tessa is a better rounded and written character in that there is a mystery around who she is, something that even she doesn’t know.

In this book, there is more action and intrigue in the hunt for the elusive Axel Mortmain, the Magister. We still don’t know what he wants with Tessa (which is honestly driving me crazy trying to figure out!) but the hunt for him is urgent in that the Institute is what’s at stake. The little surprises that are revealed throughout the book only lead to more mysteries and enigmas that can only be unlocked in the next book, Clockwork Princess. This book read more like a detective story than a YA supernatural/paranormal one. Which, is exciting because I hate when I get all moody like a teenager, being that I am almost thirty years old.

Thank you Cassandra Clare for making me want more and totally having a love/hate relationship with the waiting for Clockwork Princess to be written and put in my greedy little hands. Because I need to know what happens!!