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)