Monday, November 17, 2014

REVIEW: The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

The continuing story of Ceony Twill and Magician Emory Thane didn't quite live quite up to it's predecessor, The Paper Magician, for me. I'm not sure if I was simply in a different frame of mind this time around or what, but was Ceony this annoying in the first book? If she was, I certainly didn't pick up on it until now.

Ceony has been pining after Emory ever since she saved him in the first book. The bad guys are still on her tail, consistently putting her and everyone around her in danger. But I seriously felt that the emotions she now has for Emory have clouded her judgement, making her quite short-sighted and reckless! Gone is the young girl I fell in love with in The Paper Magician and while she's still headstrong, she's now making foolish decisions and letting her emotions rule her actions, putting everyone in jeopardy with her foolishness.

I also disliked how a certain details in the story would come along and then suddenly be dropped and forgotten. For example, what happened to that super nice safety bicycle Ceony had, the one she took to her luncheon with Delilah with the enchanted tires that wouldn't wear? When she fled the scene, she just left it there, never went back to retrieve it, and it was never mentioned again. Perhaps the author thought it an unimportant detail but it still bugged me that Ceony would treat her belongings so carelessly. Several other things about the way Ceony now acted and thought irked me too, one that was already mentioned by several other reviewers was her thinking that Langston needed a wife because he didn't know how to cook? Puhhlease!

That said, I still liked the story overall, and found it a fast-paced and entertaining read despite it's drawbacks for me. If Ceony wasn't so vexatious this time around, I may have even liked it as much as The Paper Magician.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

REVIEW: Doctor Who: Lights Out by Holly Black

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

I love Doctor Who, and I quite enjoyed this short story. Holly Black has captured in writing the expressions and mannerisms of the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) quite well. There was one part, when the Doctor was describing the duties of his companion, in which he says, "remind me how brilliant I am, notice things that I've already noticed, ask me questions whose answers are so blazingly obvious that it would never have occurred to me to explain." That quote had me cracking up laughing. It is soooo snarky Capaldi-esque!

In this forty-page story, the Doctor meets and befriends a young, scaly monster at the Intergalactic Coffee Roasting Station (ICRS). When the lights go out and one of the coffee shop patrons is murdered in the dark, everyone becomes a suspect. The Doctor works through the clues in his usual genius way, deducing the murderer and saving the day.

Thank you to NetGalley and Puffin Books for providing me a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: The Void (Witching Savannah, Book 3) by J.D. Horn

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Mercy and Peter are happily married and looking forward to the birth of their son. Unfortunately, it seems everyone has it out for Mercy right now, and her life is consistently being put in danger. The other anchors of The Line want to take her out, afraid of the power she holds, and their fear that she will be responsible for taking down the line down and letting loose all the old Gods and Demons to return to our world. Not only that, but severed body parts have begun to show up scattered all around Savannah, all with dark magic attached. The Taylor family, in their usual close-knit fashion, have bound together to protect Mercy, while at the same time trying to get to the bottom of these horrible slayings and figure out the meaning behind them.

The third and final installment in the Witching Savannah trilogy ends with a bang! There are all sorts of twists and turns that will keep the reader on their toes. Whether you'll like all those twists and turns however, I can't truly say. Like the previous books in the series, the story really draws you in. It's fast moving, the characters are well developed, and the writing gives you a spectacular feeling of place, as if you're walking the streets of Savannah yourself. I was happy to see Jilo make a minor re-appearance here as well as she was definitely one of my favorite characters.

The story shifted drastically about halfway through however, and many readers may be disappointed they're not getting the nicely wrapped-up ending they were seeking. I did find it a bit unsettling myself at first, but after awhile, I resigned myself to what was going on and then was pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out, especially after I'd been expecting the worst. Overall, I quite enjoyed the Witching Savannah series and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good ole southern witchy tale.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, 47North, for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

REVIEW: The Source (Witching Savannah, Book 2) by J.D. Horn

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Mercy Taylor has finally come into her powers and is slowly learning to control them. But when her long-presumed-dead mother makes an appearance, and asks Mercy to keep her presence a secret, Mercy starts to wonder whom she can really trust--the sister who tried to kill her, the aunts and uncle who hid the truth about her mother's death, or even mother herself, who is suddenly making a reappearance in Mercy's life after twenty plus years.... With all the deception surrounding her, Mercy knows she needs to get to the bottom of all these mysteries before it all blows up around her.

This was a pretty good follow-up to The Line, although overall I liked the first book slightly better. We learn a few secrets about Peter here, and though he was more of a background to Mercy and Maisie's story in the first book, his character begins to take on more prominence in Mercy's life here, though not necessarily for the better in my opinion. The same is true of Emmet, the golem who manifested during The Line, and I actually came to like him better in this book. I hope to see some of the loose ends with Mercy's mother tied up in the third book, The Void, which I plan on reading next. And I hope Peter finds out the truth about himself too. I don't think it's right his family keeping such an important secret from him!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

REVIEW: The Line (Witching Savannah, Book 1) by J.D. Horn

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Mercy and the rest of the Savannah Taylors are part of a long line of witches that have been given the responsibility of holding down the "Line" that keeps demons from entering our world. Mercy's fraternal twin, the golden-haired Maisie, was born with all the beauty and power of a true witch, while poor flame-haired Mercy is ordinary and weak, powerless by comparison. Burdened throughout her life as a disappointment to the family, Mercy has blissfully accepted her lot in life, living instead in the glow of her sister's blessed existence, and remaining remarkably happy and full of spunk for someone in her shoes.

Though the main character was only 20 years old (21 by the end), I wouldn't consider this a young adult novel as there's a few adult themes going on, or at least discussed. I believe it may actually fall into a somewhat new genre called New Adult. So parents, definitely don't push this one on your teen unless you've read it first yourself.

Overall, I thought this was a really good read that ramped up even more about halfway through and then kept you on your toes right up to the very end. The first chapter started out a bit choppy, and didn't seem to have much to do with the rest of the story. After reading it, I didn't have a strong sense about the book overall, but in retrospect, it seemed to have introduced and even added a bit of dimension to several characters in the story, Mercy's included, without having to go into long lengthy explanations. The characters were well developed and I really felt for Mercy and everything she went through. Though I did question her angelic like quality of being able to unequivocally forgive some of the people who've wronged her so terribly. Mother Jilo, another awesomely drawn character, really pulled you into the whole vibe of Savannah. Witches, Hoodoo, boo hags, and golems... all taking place down in the deep south. I look forward to the next title in this series.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

REVIEW: The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

The Time Roads is an intriguing collection of related steampunk era stories that tie together into a larger, more complex picture. Ireland, referred to by it's ancient name of Éire, is the stronghold of Europe here, instead of England. Mathematical scientists of the time have discovered ways to access alternate realities by traveling what they call the Time Roads. These time roads later prove quite invaluable for Queen Áine and the livelihood of the Éire kingdom, which is under threat from Anglia (England) and the Prussian Empire, to name but a few.

The first and fourth stories, the longest of the four, are both told in the first person point of view from Queen Áine of Éire. The second and third stories shift to third person point-of-view and focus on different characters which are still related to the overall picture. I actually liked the first and fourth stories best, feeling more of a connection with Queen Áine. But at the end of the first story, I did find the shift to an entirely new set of characters whom we hadn't yet been introduced to, a bit unsettling at first, and I honestly didn't like that story as much as the others. Once I realized how it tied into the overall story however, I was a bit more tolerant. :)

I also longed for a pronunciation guide throughout. The spelling and pronunciation of the many Celtic names were difficult to master, and without it, I had a harder time remembering and recalling names since I couldn't sound them out in my head as I came across them. My Kindle came in quite useful in this regard as I could highlight and search for previous mentions of that particular name, but if I had to read this one in traditional book format, it would've bugged me quite a bit more.

Overall, the stories were quite thought-provoking, with some better than others as already mentioned. The character development was decent and the world building was great as I truly felt immersed in the time in which these stories took place. I look forward to reading further works from Beth Bernobich.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

REVIEW: The Dark Victorian: Risen (Volume 1) by Elizabeth Watasin

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

A rogue re-animationist is causing mayhem in the streets of 1880's London, reanimating the dead to all sorts of deadly, nefarious deeds. But the Crown has their own weapon to fight back. The Secret Commission, an arsenal of supernatural beings, has been established exactly to help fight such crime. Artifice "Art", a very recently reanimated Quaker, and her partner Jim Dastard, a talking skull, have a job to do if they're to stop the string of recent murders plaguing the city.

Having only been recently reanimated, and remembering nothing of her former life by design, Art's journey of self-discovery is endearing, warming me to her character even more. For we as the reader get to discover and learn more about her as she does herself. And her partner Jim, a reanimated skull with no other living organs or parts and fueled by fire and smoke, is chock full of witty remarks and simply darling as well.

I truly enjoyed this supernatural romp through the streets of Victorian London. The author tells a lively, animated story, full of mystery and intrigue, and the characters of Art and Jim are simply awesome! The world building puts you right in the middle of the action, the author's descriptions giving just the right amount without bogging things down... a perfect balance. I very much look forward to reading the following titles in this entertaining series.

Many thanks to the author and NetGalley for providing a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

REVIEW: Carniepunk by Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, Allison Pang, Kelly Gay, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Meding, Jackie Kessler, Mark Henry, Jaye Wells, Hillary Jacques, Nicole D. Peeler

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

All the stories in this anthology revolve around the carnival and/or circus life, a subject I really enjoy. Didn't y'all want to run away and join the circus when you were younger... or is that just me? ;)

I reviewed this book on a story by story basis, and most of these stories were really good. I was also introduced to several "new to me" authors whose books and series I've since added to my TBR or wish list.

Painted Love by Rob Thurman - 6 stars
This story about a man, who's really a monster underneath, is purposely misleading, deceiving the reader into believing something that isn't so, just as Bart wears his false face to the rest of the world. I thought Doodle's endless narratives could drone on a bit too long at times, but overall the story was thought provoking and had me rereading it again after I'd finished.

The Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. Dawson - 6 stars
Parts of it were cool, other parts, not so much. I enjoyed the carnival scenes, but the reality of the situation was pretty depressing.

The Demon Barker of Wheat Street by Kevin Hearne - 8 stars
This was a fantastic short story, part of the Iron Druid Chronicles taking place after the 4th book in that series. The writing really drew me in, snarky yet action-packed. It can definitely stand on it's own outside of the rest of the series, but I enjoyed it so much that I immediately hunted down the Iron Druid Chronicles and added that series to my TBR list.

The Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry - 1 star
Sorry but I didn't like this one at all. A transvestite junkie in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies. No thanks!

The Werewife by Jaye Wells - 6 stars
A riveting tale that teaches the lesson to be careful what you wish for... particularly while in the vicinity of the carnival freak show.

The Cold Girl by Rachel Caine - 7 stars
This was a fast-paced young adult story, and it held my interest throughout. Though I didn't like seeing Kiley as a victim, it at least depicted life honestly, albeit brutally, as to how cruel some people can be.

A Duet with Darkness by Allison Pang - 3 stars
I didn't really get this one at all, and the end was too obscure and made absolutely no sense to me. All the characters were unlikeable as well. Not a great introduction to this author for me.

Recession of the Divine by Hillary Jacques - 6 stars
The Greek goddess Mnemosyne taken on a human form and enslaved as a fortune teller at the local carnival. An interesting read.

Parlor Tricks by Jennifer Estep - 7 stars
An exciting short story that takes place in the world of the Elemental Assassin series. I got a bit of a feel for the main character Gin and think I'll check out the full series of which these characters are a part.

Freak House by Kelly Meding - 8 stars
Really liked this one, so much so that I'd like to check out more of this author's work. The title of this story states that it's a Strays Short Story, though I don't see that that's the name of any of her existing series, so I don't know if these characters are part of any of her other books or not. I hope so however, as I really liked the characters of Shiloh and Julius and would love to learn more about them.

The Inside Man by Nicole D. Peeler - 7 stars
This was a pretty decent read, and also part of an existing series, Jane True. I'm not sure if I loved it enough to seek out more books by this author or not, but I will definitely be checking goodreads to see what the Jane True series is about and find out what others thought of them.

A Chance in Hell by Jackie Kessler - 7 stars
I enjoyed this one, and liked Jezebel's character. I guess this is part of the author's Hell on Earth series, the first 2 books of which I have somewhere in my TBR boxes in the garage. I may just have to pull them out to add them to my more current TBR pile after this short but enticing short story.

Hell's Menagerie by Kelly Gay - 5 stars
The story itself was alright, though I didn't care for the author's writing style all that much. The action scenes, which should've been fast-paced and exciting, were instead bogged down with excessive detail. For this reason, even the actions scenes seemed to just sort of creep along with the rest of the book.

Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea by Seanan McGuire - 7 stars
Mermaids are magical! Though this story wasn't nearly as dark or action packed as the others, the author's writing style really drew me in. The quality of that writing, combined with mermaids and carnies, will definitely have me seeking out additional works from this author.