Monday, March 16, 2015

Frostbite - Richelle Mead

Let's just say this right here, right now: it really does suck being Rose...



Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose... 
It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks... This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory. 
But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

So I preface this review in saying that it has been awhile since I have read the first book, Vampire Academy. The review is around this blog somewhere. Just know that I did enjoy that book quite a bit. However, I found all six books in this series on Amazon for my Kindle and well, they were super cheap and how could I say no?! But, because of that, I have been reading these books pretty much non stop (well, with the exception of that read and review of Combustion by Elia Winters). What I'm getting at is that the next few reviews will be me talking about the Vampire Academy series. That being said, on with the review! 

I feel like these books have been around log enough that most people have read them, but if you have been like me and you are just now getting around this this series, I will try my best to keep this as spoiler free as I possibly can. 

Like I said before, it's been a while since I read the first book so I appreciate the prologue at the beginning. And just so you guys know the players I shall briefly explain. Rose is a dhampire (half vampire and half human) and her bestie is Lissa, a Moroi vampire (living vampire). The bad undead vampires are Strigio. Both sets of vampires drink blood to survive, but Strigio are the real douche bags and kill folks. Oh, and Dimitri and Mason are Dhampires and Tasha and Adrien are Moroi. Okay. Good? Basic gist of characters. Now onto the review. 

Here is why I like Richelle Mead's writing: Rose's voice is very conversational and you feel like you can trust her. Her thoughts and emotions and reactions are ones that we would naturally have, so it's  super easy to relate and root for Rose. You want her to be with Dimitri, but she is also realistic in describing the horrors when a Moroi family and their dhampire guardians are murdered. Despite the supernatural setting, I am able to suspend my beliefes because Rose's emotions are set in reality. Is she a bad ass? Yup. But when the shit hits the fan, well her reactions are totally legit. 

The best written part of the book for me is the after math of Mason's death. (Yeah. Spoiler.) Mead captures what I think is a pretty good idea of death first hand and the emotions and personal implications of witnessing death first hand and them delivering those death blows. It's not something that was glorious or something totally kick ass like an action film. No. Rose, a seventeen year old girl,witnesses her pseudo boyfriend get his neck broken and the fear and rage that comes along with it. Sure. Her reputation as some big badass Guardian is set in stone. However, she is somber abor the kill. She realizes that killing someone, even if that someone is an undead vampire, takes a piece of you   Or at least that is how I interrupt it. 

Niggles. Problems. A couple. As much as I love Rose and can relate to her on some level, she falls into the trap of "I know better, let me handle this on my own, I don't know what I really want, oh shit I'm in way over my head" female lead character that seems to plague protagonist now a days. However, I can forgive this because it creates conflict and action for Rose. The other issue is constant reminder the Moroi vampire men love those sexy dhampire ladies. Ugh! Okay. I get it. Show me. Don't tell me. I don't need a constant reminder of horny teenage hormones. 

We have the introduction of some new characters: Tasha and Adrien. And they are interesting as Moroi vampires go. They are not teenagers and seem to bring a bit more balance to the book. Yes, they are older than Rose and Lissa, but not by a whole lot. So the interactions between these new characters were pretty refreshing.  

Yes. I like this book. The story moves at a much faster pace than the first book. But, we do have some forgiving to do for that as its a new series and world building must be done. However, there's A LOT of over description of certain elements. Repetition to me equals word filler and plot fodder. And yeah, that's what some of this book was. ((Cough cough)) Rose's relationship with Mason ((cough cough)) Mason's death ((cough cough)). Poor Mason was plot fodder from the very first book. Shame shame shame.  

Anywho....

There you have it folks. My review. I suggested this series to my most fabulous friend Cara and she told me she is eating them up. She's on book 4. I'm just now about 25 percent through the fifth book. But we shall she how finishes first. Despite all the feels and teenage dramarama, these books are ones that can never be sipped. They need to be devoured. 

Thanks for reading. Remember to always be a pirated. Unless you can be a pirate. Than always be a pirate!!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Combustion - Elia Winters

Get those cold showers ready, ladies. This steampunk-esque romance is quite steamy. See what I did there? Steampunk. Steamy. Oh...never mind...



For explosive chemistry, all you need is the right catalyst…A war orphan, Astrid Bailey is content living her adult life alone, working as a contract machinist. Her real passion, though, is inventing felicitation devices that promote women’s sexual empowerment and help them find pleasure independent of a man.The upcoming World’s Fair, with its substantial cash prize, is an opportunity to open theshop she’s always imagined and hopefully solve her financial woes. Except the committee has denied her entry unless she obtains a “sponsor”. Astrid suspects they mean “male”.Eli Rutledge, noted watchmaker, knows entering the fair will solidify his reputation asan innovator —but he’s fresh out of ideas. Until Astrid approaches him with her outrageous product line. With no other options, though, he agrees to lend her his good name. As construction heats up, so does their chemistry—and the complications. Astrid is unaccustomed to asking for help, much less sharing credit. And Eli fights an attraction that could spell professional disaster. As the Fair date approaches, Astrid and Eli must decide how far they’ll go. For the business…and for each other. 

So a couple formalities before the review:
First, I want to thank Samhain Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read and review. Thank you kindly! This book has a publication date to the masses of May 5th 2015. 
Second, this book is...well...how should I put this? This book is late night. Like Skin-amax with a steampunk feel and a better written plot. It is a romance novel but don't worry, it's not like that Fifty Shades of Gray crap. But! It is very smexy. So very smexy. It is not for the faint of heart. That being said, if you are easily offended or get flustered/embarrassed at the mere mention of sex, well. Skip over this review and maybe check out one of my other reviews. 

Anyway, on with this spoiler free review!

For those of you who don't know what steampunk is let me break it down for you. The cut and dry definition of steampunk are works that are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian or America Wild West. There is a lot of steam powered devices and very unique and interesting (sometime hair brain) ideas for machinery and inventions. 

I'm going to attempt to review this without going too much into story and  Books like these I normally read after reading something that was super intense of full of lots of emotional drama. Sometimes your brain needs some junk food. And this book, though extremely well written, was that. It was fun and though there seemed to be attempts at deeper meaning and intended conversations about female sexuality, it was still light. As books like this should be. I mean, it's a steampunk inspired tale. Instead of something like cool weapons, you have a woman who makes sex toys. Boom. I said it. I went there. 

The characters that this tale focuses on are thankfully not completely vapid airheads who only care about boning. No. Astrid and Eli are looking to enter and win an invention contest at the World Fair. They have legitimate ambitions. They wish to have success. And no. I'm not going to tell you what the invention is. It's a spoiler and also, well, I'll get all embarrassed and blush if I told you. So, that's interesting. But as well written as these characters are, they are still the archetypal romance novel characters. Astrid is the sassy and strong female who just needs the right man to love her, but she doesn't know it. Eli is just as stubborn as Astrid, and she finds her brash but he can't help but be drawn to her. It's a formula for this genre. But if it's it broke don't fix it. Elia Winters simply takes this formula and tweeks it just enough to make it her own. Two type A personalities meet and sparks fly. And it's well written. 

Your probably sitting there thinking "Hey, this is a romance novel. What about the sex?!" It's there. Hello. It's a requirement. And thankfully those sexy time scenes aren't just like "oh hey. What's up? Let's bone." The smexy scenes are written to flow with the narrative. I'm someone who doesn't mind a sex scene, as long as it moves the story along, contributes to the overall plot of the story. Now, I know that's deep for a what some would call a simple romance novel. However, I see that as a sign of someone who is good at there craft. So what if it's a "trashy romance novel"? Doesn't mean it has to be badly written. 

Overall, this was a remedy to all the overwhelming emotional drama of the Vampire Academy book series I'm trying to get through. Those books are great and I do like them, but sometimes one needs a break from vampires, teenage drama, and Feels. So, why not take a two day break and read some smexy book? And a well written sexy time book at that! Like, proper sentence structure and grammar usage while they are getting it on and begging for more. Remember, grammar matters. 

Once again, thanks to Samhain Publishing and Netgalley. Appreciate ya. Also, the publication for this is not until May 5th. So you may have to wait a bit if your interested in reading this. Just remember, longing makes the heart grown fonder. 

Thank you so much for reading. If you have a few, leave me a comment. Or if you have any book suggestions. 
Until next time. Remember to always be a pirate. Unless you can be a pirate. Then always be a pirate!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Splintered - A.G. Howard


A decedent of Wonderland goes tumbling down the rabbit hole and brings a boy toy along with her. Curiouser and curiouser…

 

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now. When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

I read this book as a read along with a few other awesome ladies. Through Facebook posts, they know what I thought about this book. And honestly, I wasn’t too sure if I was going to write this review. But, I decided, what the hell? Let’s get some words down and out there for the world. Because I have a feeling I’m not the only who feels the same way I do about this book. So, without further ado, on to the review.
This book starts off with the following: “I’ve been collecting bugs since I was ten; it’s the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quickly.”
And I was sold. This line alone set me some high expectations. I mean, super clever! I enjoyed the idea of a crazy lead character and them being completely aware of it. Alyssa tries everything to keep secret her crazy mother and what appears to be the ever increasing psychosis. But then, Jeb is introduced…and it kind of goes into the shitter at that point.
Let me explain.
This book gave me mixed emotions. I enjoyed the idea of the book. The twists and turns were well written, Wonderland being a land of strange and exciting place. Tons of possibilities. But Jeb. Controlling and pain in the butt Jeb. I don’t blame Jeb though, it’s just how he’s written. The way he’s written seems to have DOUCHE BAG all over him. He treats Alyssa like she’s made of glass. And, Alyssa lets him do that. I feel like there is a lot focus on his garnet labret piercing.  I don’t always need to be reminded that it was there. I don’t need to know how it scratches her skin. I’m good. And, not his fault either. That’s our narrator, Alyssa. She relied far too much on Jeb. Any time that Alyssa slipped into the madness of Wonderland, it was always Jeb that snapped her out of it, brought her back down to reality. But really…I didn’t like Jeb because of the constant mention of his STUPID piercing. He is more than a god damn piercing. Hello!
The other niggle for me about this tale was that once entering Wonderland, she suddenly has these memories about Wonderland. Oh wait! HOLD THE PHONE! She’s been there before. It’s just her memories are reprised. Really? I feel like the author was trying to be a ninja and through this in there without us knowing any better. I felt like there was a ton of repetition with descriptions of certain items. Too many slap in the face analogies.
But! Despite all of this, the ending was the best part of the book. Well not the very very end…but the near the end of the book. It held the best twist there is. And no…not going to tell ya. Just know that it probably the best written part in the entire book. It is the real time we see any time of real emotion other than fear, wonder, unrequited love or lust. Don’t get me wrong, those things are fun to read about but I need a mix of emotions. Alyssa’s emotions were all petty ones up until the end where she grows some balls and confronts her fears and all her insecurities.
I would go into Morpheus, but really…I don’t have much to say. He’s manipulative. He’s scheming. He’s supposed to be ungodly hot. Oh yeah. And he’s crazier than a bag of cat. He is the best written character out of all the characters, and he did have genuine moments of brilliance, but most of the time, he felt forced. And it was a little creepy that he’s all hitting on Alyssa, a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL, and he’s supposed to be like ageless or whatever. I just don’t know what to say.
So I wanted to like this book. I did. I loved the very first paragraph. And I love reinterpretations of classic fairy tales and stories. But for me, this one was just too far off the mark for me. I couldn’t get behind the main character and I couldn’t honestly make out who the villain was. Was it Morpheus? Who? And her mom’s being institutionalized seemed like a complete and awful waste of time.
But, I’m glad I read this book. Despite its flaws and some misgivings, I like being able to discuss books with a group of people. It makes the story more fun, even though I didn’t truly love this book like I wanted to
Until next time!
Remember to be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate…then always be a pirate!