Monday, October 7, 2013

E-book Short Reviews - October 2013

Why e-book short reviews?  Well....ever been in a reading frenzy where you read 5 or more e-books back to back with no break in between?  And these books are fun, quick reads?  Well that's what happens to me sometimes and when it does,  I break from the long in-depth reviews I normally do and make it short and sweet (SAS)!

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death.  Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.  Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first. Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?  Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a captivating adventure-and a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.

250 Pages

3.5 Star Rating - Recommended Age 15+
A very good follow up to Under the Never Sky.  The romance between Aria and Peregrine continues and has lost none of its excitement.  New characters and new crises keep the book interesting.   No situation in the book was easily dealt with.  
SAS:  I was never bored reading this book.  I enjoyed the storyline between Aria, Sable, Roar and Liv the most.  The 3rd book is definitely on my list to read.

Dark Genesis by A.D. Koboah

Life for a female slave is one of hardship and unspeakable sorrow, something Luna knows only too well. But not even she could have foreseen the terror that would befall her one sultry Mississippi evening in the summer of 1807.   On her way back from a visit to see the African woman, a witch who has the herbs Luna needs to rid her of her abusive master’s child, she attracts the attention of a deadly being that lusts for blood. Forcibly removed from everything she knows by this tormented otherworldly creature, she is sure she will be dead by sunrise.  Dark Genesis is a love story set against the savage world of slavery in which a young woman who has been dehumanised by its horrors finds the courage to love, and in doing so, reclaims her humanity.

233 Pages
4.5 Star Rating - Recommended Age 16+
Such an amazing story!!!  The book contains an extremely emotional story of life as a beautiful slave girl.  The story was very well written.  It showed Luna's acceptance of her situation, but in it her fear and anger.  Avery's love for Luna was an inspiration (, that is how I want a man to feel about me)  But, I must admit, that as much as I loved the story the author did fall into the usual pattern of having the female lead intentionally do something stupid to create crisis (it really is annoying...)
SAS:  Oh so different from the usual vampire story.  I could not put this down.  The real life trauma of slavery, dark magic and the unknown was a powerful combination.  I cannot wait to see what the author has in store next.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.  But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.  Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

228 Pages
3.5 Star Rating - Recommended Age 14+
This book reminds me of Hunger Games.......without the fight to the death between the contestants.  America is a very strong-willed, strong-minded female lead and I liked that she stayed that way throughout the book.  The teen love triangle turned out to be better than I thought it would.  It's believable that although she loves Aspen, her friendship with Prince Maxon would turn into something more.  I liked that the author didn't rush into something romantic between the two characters.  In the first chapters of the book, the author makes you WANT Aspen and America to find a way to be together because they love each other so much.
SAS:  While I wish the story didn't read so much like Hunger Games, it was a good book.  The friendships and animosities between the contestants added excitement to the story.  Team Aspen!!

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.  America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.  Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

230 Pages
2.5 Star Rating - Recommended Age 14+
Very disappointed in the second book of the series.  I understand that the story is based on the love triangle between the main characters, but seriously.  There was so much back and forth by America my head hurt!  Make up your mind already!  There were a few things I did like about this book - the introduction of the rebels and the mysteries they represent;  the situation with Marlee;  Aspen is back in the picture!!!  Team Aspen!
SAS:  Not sure if I want to read the 3rd :(  America's character has changed from the very decisive, strong girl I admired to someone insecure, fickle and easily swayed.  The saving grace is that the storyline is still a good one and more interesting now that the rebels are more active.

Origin (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.
Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.
But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?

313 Pages
4 Star Rating - Recommended Age 17+
Jennifer L Armentrout just can't write a bad book!  The places she's taking this story....ahhh!  I couldn't stop reading.  The romance between Daemon and Katy is always exciting and gets my blood pumping.  There's betrayal, surprises, intense action and loss.
SAS:  Amazing book.  You'll love the whole series so start from the beginning.  Each book gets better and better, so of course this is the best of the bunch so far.  Nothing else to say!

Friday, September 6, 2013

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 

4 Star Rating 
My Recommendation:  Very good YA Novel and even funnier the second time around.

Recommended Age:  14+  I have finished both the Mortal Instruments and the Clockwork Series.  To get ready for the motion picture, I decided to re-read City of Bones so that I could remember the beginning of the story.    I must say, I totally forgot how HILARIOUS this book is!  Hilarious you ask?  Yes!  Jace and Simon's repartee between each other and Clary kept me smiling, chuckling and bursting out laughing.  Beyond the funny moments, it was a great book to read.  The action was exciting and the romance presented a buildup of things to come.  The characters were entertaining and innovative.  I NEVER re-read books, I like new stories to visualize, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading City of Bones again.  

Plot/Pace:  A common story concept - a special group born and bred to kill/capture evil creatures - but the story surrounding the Shadowhunters is very uncommon.  Clary not knowing what she is allows the reader to discover the new world along with her.  I relished the suspense in the story;  not knowing who to trust and  discovering the truth behind the lies.  The pacing of the book kept me from getting bored and browsing through.  I really fell into the story and the characters.

Imagery:  A fabulously imagined world.  The author's descriptions of what mundanes cannot see and the creatures that live among them was stunning.  The Silent Brothers are downright scary looking!  I'm in LOVE with Magnus Bane!  His personality, his quirkiness, the way he lounges is just sexy.  After reading the book, I had a good idea in my head of what each character would look and act like.
Side note - Haven't seen the movie yet, but let's say I'm disappointed in the way some of the characters look - JACE - and I'm hoping their acting fits the personalities in the book.

Romance:  Great teenage love triangle (actually a double triangle).  There's a budding love story, unrequited love and forbidden love.  Something for everyone.  While Clary and Jace are the main romantic couple, I actually felt myself rooting for Simon.  

Action:  I thought this story had a very unique way of passing on powers.  The addition of the parabatai made the fighting scenes more intense to read because it made me anxious to think what one would do to protect the other.    The descriptions of the fights were vivid and realistic.  Even in all of the violence and excitement there was humor.  

Characters:  There are books where the teen heroines are very annoying.  They don't know their limits, think they know everything OR they are too timid, too agreeable with the male leads.  This was not one of those books.  I liked Clary!  She has spunk and is not over confident in her abilities.  If she insists on doing something, its not because she thinks she's as good as the Shadowhunters who have been doing this all their life, it's because she wants to help her mom.  Jace is arrogant, but his sense of humor negates any ill feelings I would normally feel.  The characters kind of played off of one another - in conversation and in personalities.

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me:  Nothing

What Blew Me Away:  The book was very amusing!  I smiled, chuckled and laughed a lot.  I would re-read paragraphs that I liked so that I could experience the feeling, the excitement or funny moment again.

Wonderful book to read, even the second time around.  The entire series was amazing and all are worth the investment to buy and hold onto.

If you like this book, what else might you like???

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Magic Rises (Book 6) by Ilona Andrews

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

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

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

4.5 Star Rating
My Recommendation:  Definitely worth the read.  Very Enjoyable!

Note:  This is book 6 in the series and is not stand-alone.  You must read the previous 5 books.
Recommended Age:  18+ Man Oh Man!  This was the best one so far!  Magic Rises has EVERYTHING!  Humor, action, intense fighting, scheming, spontaneity, jealousy and romance!  Every character in this book and each side story was interesting.  The story was a roller coaster ride of new problems, emotional highs and lows and unexpected allies and adversaries.  I could not stop reading and could not wait to pick it up again.

Plot/Pace:  Perfect.  Throughout the book I kept thinking "What the.." "What's going to happen next"  "Whoa!"  I did not skip a single sentence.  There are twists and turns for the entire story and always something happening.

Imagery:  I had a MGM/Warner Bros production playing in my head.  The fight choreography was structured and very detailed.  The look of the shifters was intricate;  the weapons described with reverence.  I especially liked how the author gave voice to Kate's inner thoughts.  Through that you could understand her frame of mind much better.

Romance:  Wonderful display of what it is to be jealous even when sure of the love you have.

Action:  The book is filled with it - power packed.  There's fighting, life threatening situations.  In those situations, the characters are hurt accordingly.  Not just a scratch here and there, but major injuries, which makes the outcome much more believable.  Neither Kate nor Curran is invincible and they can't save everyone.

Characters:  Loved them all, even the ones you're supposed to hate!  The dialogue between the characters was fascinating.  Six books in and Kate and Curran still surprise me.  I'm not bored with their love for each other or the situations they find themselves in.  New characters in this story are just as interesting as the established ones.  Some even more so.  I think I'm going to thoroughly enjoy seeing Christopher's character in the next book.   Just what will Hugh have planned for Kate?!

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me:  Nothing..well, ok, I was a little disappointed in Kate towards the middle/end of the book.  Can't say more since nothing I want to say would not spoil the book for those who haven't read it.

What Blew Me Away:!  Humor was spot on!  Drama was intense!  This was my favorite of the series so far.

Not a 5 only because I thought to myself, would I re-read this book?  Would it sit on my bookshelf for all times?  No, but it was still a GREAT read.

If you like this book, what else might you like???

Monday, August 19, 2013

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. 

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

5 Star Rating
My recommendation:  Buy the hardback, put on your shelf and loan it out to friends!

Recommended Age:  15+ (Due to Subject Matter)  I went to sleep reading, I woke up reading and at the end....I wept.  What an amazing real story.  Jo is a strong and vulnerable heroine.  Pushing through her circumstances to try and be something better.  Things don't magically work out and bad things happen.  She learns that trust is hard to give and that family doesn't always mean you have to share blood.  You dream, you love, you get hurt, you move on.  This story really touched me.  Days after reading it, I'm still reflecting.

Plot/Pace:  It starts well, ends well and is full of drama in-between.  The book is emotionally packed.  There are parts that made me laugh and parts where my heart ached for the main character.  The events that lead up to the climax resolutions were exciting and kept me anxious.  The pacing was splendid.  I couldn't put the book down.  The storyline had plenty of adventure to keep me engrossed in the story.

Imagery:  Beautifully built story.  In my minds eye, I could see myself walking down the street, walking up to the house on Conti street and meeting Willie's nieces.  I even pictured the dance that went along with Coki's singing.  The writing let me feel Josie's fear, her disappointment and pain.

Romance:  A slow and subtle romance.  Some heartbreak.  How I hurt for Patrick!  I could see it coming though...the way things were written, if you read between the lines you could guess the outcome.  LOVED that!!

Action:  There's a whorehouse and the mob, but the action  doesn't revolve around gun fights and knife fights.  The action in this book comes from the drama of the character's situations.  It was the anticipation of how things would pan out that kept things exciting.  What would happen to Charlie during his dementia?  What would be on the typed page?!  How would Jo figure out her money situation?  Is she REALLY gonna go through with it?!

Characters:  The character relationships were so wonderfully complex.  Even the minor characters were intriguing.  Willie's love for Jo, despite her harsh mannerisms was very touching.  The way the author developed the characters and the story, I could step in their shoes.  I could relate to Jo's disappointment with her mom, her sadness and her hope that something better was out there for her.  The characters flaws and insecurities showed through in their actions and decisions.  Making the story more real for me.

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me:  Nothing really....although...I will mention that I could see that theft coming a MILE away!  Jo should have been too jaded to let that have happened.  But then again...the way she was written, as a reader you know that she doesn't want to expect the worst from those she loves.

What Blew Me Away:  Jo's relationship with her mom, Patrick, Willie and Cokie.  Silly, but I cried with Jo when she got Cokie's gift and his song.  My heart broke for Patrick when I realized why he made his final decision.  Things like that couldn't work out back then, like they can now....sad.  What I really loved about the book was that good outcomes don't always happen.  People get away with doing bad things.  There isn't always justice after betrayal.  And the real unknown.

Buy this book!  Read this book!  Keep this book!  And read it again in a couple of years!

If you like this book, what else might you like???

I don't know o_o!  This is my first time reading a non-fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian like YA book.  If you have suggestions, let me know!!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

2.5 Star Rating
My recommendation:  Now that it is in paperback, pick it up.  I'm hoping Book 2 is better.

Recommended Age:  13+:  Don't believe the hype!  I didn't have to force myself to finish the book, but neither was I waiting until I had a free moment so I could pick it up and read again.  This YA Dystopian fantasy is not as exceptional as some of the latest ones to come out.  It does not have the intensity of Hunger Games or Maze Runner.  It is not as emotionally moving as Pure.  Even without comparing to some of the best dystopians written recently, this book was not as compelling as it could have been.  This was a satisfying novel, but lackluster in its delivery.  One to read when you're waiting on a new book from your favorite series.

Plot/Pace:  A pretty good premise for a book.  Not an overly complicated plot; this was an easy read.  The logic behind the main conflict was not impressive.  It's pretty predictable why things are happening and what the people of power are trying to accomplish.  The book delineates between the have and have nots, but not enough to really understand the struggle or why the struggle even began.  Basic information is given (begging, stealing, scrounging).  Where is the history, so that I can  relate to the current feelings of the characters.  It may be that things are just being revealed in the first book and more reasoning and detail will be developed later.  I hope so...

Imagery:  In my opinion, this is lacking.  Was there enough of a depiction of the Republic and its inhabitants to give the reader a feel of the "new" world?  Yes...But is that enough for dystopian?  No.  I want to get a real feel for just what has happened to the world.  I want to be able to picture the new surroundings and the people and have that resonate with me.  

Action:  Pretty good.  Nothing was over the top or unbelievable.  Yes, teenagers are climbing walls and jumping from buildings, but look at the world they live in an how they were trained.  

Romance:  Meh!  There was no real buildup to the romance between the two lead characters.  They look at each other and there is an attraction and....that's it.  Why?  Why do they stay attracted?  Just because they look good to each other?  They kiss a couple of times, but other than the unexpected first kiss, I wasn't impressed.  Don't put it in the book just to have it in there!

Characters:  Another Meh!  Each character is distinct in how they were written.  Day has his mischievous charm and June is rebellious, but there is no depth to them.  The mistrust and suspicion between the two could have been used to develop their relationship into something meaningful.  A plus was the ruthlessness of the two villains.

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me: spoilers!  Let me try to phrase this correctly.  Explain to me how the actions of one can cause intense pain to another, based on information one "thinks" they know for sure, and the person who felt the intense pain forgives and forgets with no explanation!  And never gets mad...and doesn't lash out or complain or blame the one who caused the hurt.  PLEASE!  Never happens in real life!

What Blew Me Away:  Nothing

My rating does not mean you shouldn't read it..just that this won't be  one of the best stories you've ever read. I was not impressed with this book.  The love story was almost non-existent and the storyline was too simple and predictable.  I did enjoy the action and the antagonists in the story.

If you like this book, what else might you like???

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Intruder (Foreigner Book #13) by C. J. Cherryh

The civil war among the alien atevi has ended. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western Association, along with Cajeiri his son and heir, and his human paidhi, Bren Cameron, have returned to the Bujavid, their seat of power.

But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over.

3 Star Rating
My recommendation:  Buy it in paperback.

Note:  This is not a stand-alone book.  It is number 13 in the series and previous versions MUST be read to understand the characters and plot.

Recommended age:  15+ (This book is intellectually complex)  Intrigue, betrayals, complex negotiations and danger.  Intruder, as with all others in this series, is bursting with these things.  The preceding book had more action and less recent books more political machinations.  This was not one of the best, but still a good book in the series and worth the read.  Adding to the usual plot - Bren Cameron, human savior, negotiating his way through any danger that pops up - are the antics of a more clever Cajieri.  I looked forward to these sections of the book, as they added some fun to the story.   This book revealed more of atevi family dynamics.  In this element of the story I saw more of a similarity with human emotion and reactions from the atevi.  Not much is predictable in a CJ Cherryh book, this was no exception.  The ending leaves me waiting anxiously for the next in the series.

Plot/Pace:  The book moved a little slow for me, but there was such a wealth of information I'm not sure moving the story along at a fast clip would have done the story justice.  The plot is standard for the Foreigner series.  Not predictable with who does the betraying and where danger lies, but neither is it a surprise that there will be a betrayal and danger is always present.  

Imagery: to review this...  Detail and descriptions of the settings and characters - not that great.  But!  The way the conversations are described, the detail written on the flow of events, how the characters are interacting (head nods, eye flicks) offered a great depiction of how the story was building.  Very hard to flip through pages in this book, because there was so much going on.

Romance:  None

Action:  Not until the last few chapters.  While there is a lot of trickery and deception throughout the book, actual excitement with the events taking place doesn't really happen until the end.  The author intersperses the outcomes of the character conflicts in between paragraphs of the final pages.  She jumps from Cajieri to Illsidi, then to the Aiji and his wife, back to Cajieri , then to Bren and Machigi.  The result is a thrilling ending to the book where you can't stop reading.

Characters:  For those who have read the entire series up to this point, there seems to be no real change in main character development.  Illsidi is just as scary and wise.  Bren is, as always, careful and patient and his ashiid is loyal.  There is a closer glimpse into Tabini's relationship with his wife and how he "feels" about her.  I did enjoy the interactions with Tabini and Cajieri and how the author reflects on Tabini's past to show how alike they really are.  Cajieri was my favorite character this time around.  He provided some comic relief.  His character has grown to be more thoughtful and has a better grasp of the diplomatic atmosphere that he is surrounded with.  But since he is still young, the situations he gets himself into, his reactions to getting caught and his thought process on how to get out of them makes a funny read.
One note...I did get a little emotional during the exchange between Lord Geigi and Bren close to the end of the book.  No spoilers, just...that conversation made my heart swell..just a little.

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me:  Nothing
What Blew Me Away:  Nothing

This series continues to be a good one.  Which is saying something, thirteen books in!  I am not tired of reading about these characters and the story has not flagged or become repetitive one bit.  Can't wait for the next one.

If you like this book, what else might you like?
(Not including any other books in this series)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.

Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.

Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.

3 Star Rating
My recommendation:  Buy it in paperback or ebook version.

Recommended Age:  14+ (This is not a YA book, but for "smarter than the average" teens who like reading about new magic this should be ok).
A satisfying novella that builds a world of new magic and royal politics.  Brandon Sanderson has a knack for coming up with unique ideas.  The magic he creates for his books is always different from anything I've read by other fantasy authors.  The book contains amazing explanations on how the magic works and what it does.  It provides a way for the mind to understand and appreciate what is happening.  Shai and Gaotona's relationship really blossoms in this book.  The writing enables the reader to empathize with each character's annoyance, disappointments and finally mutual respect and acceptance.  The story is rife with political intrigue and betrayals, but nothing so complex that you would find this book hard to follow.  The most gratifying aspect of the novella is how you reflect on class/cultural differences and stereotypes.  The Emperor's Soul is well worth reading.

Plot/Pace:  Because this is a novella, it was a pretty fast read for me.  Also, since the material was interesting, I read it quite quickly.  There was nothing too spectacular about the actual plot of the book.   But the world Brandon Sanderson built around the plot was, as usual for him, unique and refreshing.  There were no surprises with how things resolved themselves by the end of the book.  Most of Shai's future actions can be predicted based on the dialogue.  I did love the irony of Gaotona's actions in the Epilogue though!  Well played, Mr. Sanderson.

Imagery:  The book is based on Shai's genius as a Forger and the descriptions of her creations are very vivid.  The author also relates very well, the feelings and prejudices behind the various castes and the mysticism and belief around forging.  No FTPng (Flipping Through Pages) for me in this book.

Romance:  None

Action:  The political turmoil in this book, played out primarily through intellect, not assassinations and battles.  The "action of the mind" shows through in Shai's ability to read her adversaries and manipulate situations to her benefit.  Cleverly written.

Characters:  Shai is a complex character.  She is jaded, suspicious, very clever and intelligent, selfish and yet driven to do her best.  In contrast to Gaotona, who is, if not as intellectual as Shai,  very wise, arrogant, prejudiced and old fashioned.  It is his compassion that makes him a wonderful character to read about.  Reading the development of Gaotona and Shai's relationship was a high point for me in the book.  I wanted her to put him in his place. I waited for him to see her for the artist she is.  
By using caste systems to define his characters,  I couldn't help but think of real life prejudices while I read.   Reflecting on the way we place groups of people into a specific box; expecting certain behaviors based on culture.

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me:  Nothing
What Blew Me Away:  Nothing

A satisfying quick read.  One I would recommend to friends who like Sanderson books and "new"(not yo mama's fairies, elves and dwarves) Fantasy.

If you like this book, what else might you like???

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Island by Michael Stark

The Fever struck hard and fast, rising out of the slums and claiming victim after victim. At first, reports trickled across the wire in small segments relegated to the final seconds of the broadcast news. Lost among stories of failing economies and political bickering, few noticed what proved to be the birth pangs of a monster. Within months, the disease dominated the news as thousands died and infection rates soared.

William Hill knew his chances of avoiding the virus sat squarely between slim and none. With experts predicting a global pandemic, his choices boiled down to not if, but where he would die. While the rest of the world built barricades and set up distribution points for food, he chose a simpler end. The island had been one of the last and best times with his father. He couldn’t think of a better place to spend his final days.

He wanted sun and sand, fresh fish on the grill and cool nights by the campfire. He wanted feel-good days filled with oldies on the radio, days when he could hoist the sails and run before the wind. He didn’t set out to make enemies, but he did. He didn’t plan on becoming humanity’s last hope for survival, or watching over an old woman and an eerie little boy either.

To William Hill, the island seemed as good a place as any to die.

He just didn’t realize how good.

5 Star Rating
My Recommendation:  It is only in ebook format, but if it ever comes out in hardback, buy it and keep it on your shelf!
Note:  This review is for Book One Parts One through The Final Chapters

Recommended Age:  17+ 
This has been added to my "most favorite books" shelf.  While this is not a new story idea - Virus decimates the population, then turns out to be supernatural in origin - the plot of the book definitely is.  Michael Stark confines the bulk of the story to a tiny island, which somehow made the action more intense and the read became more intimate for me.  The main characters are amazingly portrayed with realistic personalities and behaviors.  The imagery was described so well that I actually opened my mouth to spit out when the author wrote "My mouth tasted of bile, putrid flesh, and rancid meat, the sensation so strong my stomach heaved in an immediate rejection ".  Ahh...just spit it out already!  SPIT!!!  This book was very well written.  It is not a quick read.  Don't take that statement to mean boring prose that you have to read through before you get to the good stuff.  It means get your mind ready, there is a lot of information in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed The Island; excitement from beginning to end.

Plot/Pace:  Perfect pacing.  There are a lot of things going on on the island but the author does not overwhelm you with them.  The scenes are not long and drawn out.  Michael Stark is able to setup the conflicts, pull you in with their descriptions, then resolve things just to a point where you are satisfied but anxiously waiting to see what happens next .  While there were no real surprises with the plot, neither is it predictable.

Imagery:  I must admit (sadly) much as I loooved this book, I did find myself skipping paragraphs.  I just really don't need to know that much about boats and sailing!  Unless, you are giving me these lessons because someones life will depend on it later, I don't need that much detail.  I liked that the walks on the beach were detailed enough that I could see it happening in my mind, but sometimes it was too much information.  BUT, with that said!  I definitely found myself in movie mode with this book.  The description of the grisly scenes, the fighting, the was amazing!  My face contorted into so many shapes during this book.  Great is a writer that can make you involuntarily act out on your face what your are reading.

Romance:  None.  Now there was a sex scene..but romance?  None to be had.  This was not that kind of book.  

Action:  Was there action? Was...there...action?  Uh, yeah!  There were fights, battles and even fearful running away.  Again, my mind went into movie mode reading these parts of the book.  Sometimes I found myself reading really fast because I just had to know what was going to happen.  Then I would go back and re-read the entire thing so I could experience it again slowly.  The action was written so well.  Settings described in such a way that you either felt anxiety at William being in a cramped space or hope since he had a chance to get away.  Setting, timing and the details of the monsters he fought all combined to really make you a part of the action.

Characters:  Very realistic.  William did not turn out to be some impossible hero set on saving everyone.  He was consistently a normal man with great leadership abilities.  Still flawed in ways and still able to be frightened.  The other main characters on the island were written just as realistically.  Each having their own quirky personalities and behaviors.  Not much development was done with the secondary characters.  I found myself forgetting who a certain character was when they were mentioned.  Who was Jessie again?  How old was she supposed to be, what was her relationship with the other characters?  

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me:  These only came in mini books!  
What Blew Me Away:  All of it.  The level with which I got involved when reading the book.  Unfortunately, I don't write spoilers, so I can't give examples of the several parts where the action, imagery and character dialog made you feel like you were there.

Goes without saying that this book is a keeper.  One to be shared among friends and recommended to random people!

If you like this book, what else might you like???

Monday, July 22, 2013

Grave Mercy (Book 1) by R L LaFevers

"Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?" 

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts--and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany--where she finds herself woefully under prepared--not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

3.5 Star Rating
My recommendation; Buy it in paperback or ebook!

Recommended Age:  15+ For those who like an "easy-read" historic romance with intrigue, this is a good book for you. Since this is a YA book, the author doesn't go into an in-depth retelling of the time period, but you do get enough history to understand the politics of the time.  When you see the word Assassin in the title, don't think of an action filled book. Grave Mercy tells a very good story of a young girl who finds purpose in a life that started out abused. 

Plot/Pace: The plot stayed consistent throughout the book. The story had a lot of plotting and scheming, but no twists. Nothing had me sitting up in my seat thinking..."Now, I didn't expect that to happen!". Even without surprises, I stayed so interested in what was happening to the characters that I stayed up later every night.  It was difficult trying to stop at a point where I didn't feel like I was going to miss something.

Imagery: Thank you Robin LaFevers for not putting to much description in the book! Whew! I didn't have to FTP(Flip Through pages) too much or skim paragraphs. It was the right amount of description to to let me picture what was happening on the page.  Unfortunately it was not written well enough to where I found myself slipping into movie mode. 

Romance: Just enough for a YA book! No sex (at least I don't believe there was sex. Those that read the book may find themselves confused on a certain part that may have been sex, but wasn't really worded that way, and really Ms LaFevers given what they were going through there shouldn't have BEEN any sex...just saying) The kissing scenes were enough to get my blood just a little heated though. Nicely done!!

Action: Ehhh....only a little. I liked the different ways the girls were trained to kill and the choice of weapons they had to do this with, but there wasn't much murder and mayhem. Not that there needed to be a lot of killing for the story to be great. It happened when it needed to and not just to make the book more interesting. Which I think is a good thing.

Characters: I found myself more interested in the secondary characters than Ismae. Not that Ismae's character didn't have potential. The development of her character in the beginning pulled me in by making me feel for her. But that did not last throughout the book. After a certain point Ismae seemed to have everything together. There was no real conflict other than the attraction/confusion/uneasiness she felt with Duval. Which could have been played up a little more and explained a little bit better.  I felt more pull and emotion for Duval, Sybella and deLornay.  All in all, there was great chemistry between the characters.  The characters were so uniquely described through their actions and words that I started developing the characters in my mind.

What Irked the Shiznit Out of Me: Nothing.
What Blew Me Away: Nothing

And....that is why this book gets a 3.5/5. It was a good read; I'd buy it again. I'd recommend to friends who like this kind of book.

If you like this book, what else might you like???