21 April 2014

WIR: First post of 2014, skinwalkers and vampires and con men, oh my! & I still hate Divergent.

Hiii.

I just clicked through myself on a comment on someone else's blog (you can see which blogs I like to read in my left sidebar) and I was like DAMN GURL u ain't been blogging this year.

So welcome to my first post of the year. It's not a review, obvi. I'm just catching you up I guess.

I HAVE been reading, though the currently reading shelf on my goodreads account hasn't changed much in forever.

I still haven't finished A Memory of Light, nor have I started Origin, the last book in the Lux series. Maybe I'll do that this week.

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, #1)I do have a glowing recommendation to make. Two actually! The first is the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. Jane is my favorite badass lately, and there are so many things about her and her world I absolutely love.


I discovered the series seeking out urban fantasy books set in New Orleans. There is so much mystique and charm about this city (which I've never visited), and I love learning more about it through books. The secondary location for a lot of the first book, Skinwalker, is Asheville, NC—another city I'm fascinated by in book settings.

One of the best things about the series is that as a female character Jane isn't one of those inexplicably gorgeous everyone-falls-all-over-themselves characters. I mean, she gets propositioned a lot, but that's kind of a consequence of being a fairly decent looking woman surrounded by men in a patriarchal society.

On a brighter note, there is a lot of female friendship in Jane's life! So refreshing to have a guy's girl with female friends! Also did I mention she kicks a lot of ass? There are vampires in this series (boo) but Jane hasn't hooked up with any yet and I'm on book 6 or 7 (yay), but they are all really hot (boo, wait, yay?) so I figure it's only a matter of time.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The second recommendation is for The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I can't really gush too much about this book, and I read it in December (yes, someone got a copy of it from me for Xmas). It's really smart and intricate. It is long, but that seems to bother people less these days than it ever has before. I call it the Rowling/Martin Effect. But if you like con men, plotting, nefarious deeds, and amusing comraderie, definitely definitely check this out.

There are a few more books and series I've read lately, which you can find on my Goodreads (I haven't been reviewing them, just rating), and I'm proooobably going to post about Vampire Academy after I see the movie. I just have to find a theater where it is still playing. And someone to schlep out to it with me. I'm pretty sure all of the usual suspects have seen it already.

Am I going to see Divergent? Eh. I never saw The Host, and I actually liked that book. I wasn't a fan of Divergent.

Anyway, life has been/is still pretty crazy around these parts for me, but I find myself missing posting to this blog, so hopefully you'll see more from me in the near future.

As always, I'd love to know what you're reading, or what you thought about anything I talked about here!

p.s. I'm going to do a giveaway soon, so keep an eye out for that!

 

02 December 2013

ARC Review & Blog Tour for The Guardians by T. M. Franklin + Interview!




The Guardians (More, #2)The Guardians
by T.M. Franklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published November 7th 2013 by TWCS Publishing 





Ava’s life is . . . complicated.
After all, it’s not every day a girl learns she’s not entirely human, or unlocks hidden powers strong enough to make even the First Race sit up and take notice. After surviving an attempted kidnapping and standing up to the Race’s Ruling Council, Ava Michaels returns to college and what she hopes is a normal life. But Ava quickly realizes that for her, normal may not even exist anymore.
In fact, the Council wants her under their control, and they’re not the only ones. The mysterious Rogues have a plan of their own, and it turns out Ava’s a big part of it, whether she wants to be or not.
On top of that, her new relationship is tested in ways she never expected. Her boyfriend, Caleb Foster, has disappeared—accused of betraying the Race—and Ava herself stands implicated in a crime she didn’t commit.
Clearing their names will mean uncovering a web of deceit and intrigue with Ava woven right in the center. To unravel the strands, she joins forces with some unlikely allies; a Protector who once haunted her nightmares, a young girl with secrets as unexpected as Ava’s, and a group of rebel Guardians who have their own fight against the Council.
Together they stand in a battle to find the truth, bring Caleb home, and secure Ava’s freedom—not to mention save her life.
More Information | Goodreads | The Guardians Book Trailer


Review:
After racing through More, I was really excited to start The Guardians. Ava is a likeable character, and I really enjoyed how her relationship with Caleb developed in the first book; no insta-love, a not-super obvious attraction (aside from Ava's roommate being a little pushy), and totally self-aware semi-creepy stalking.

One of my FAVORITE things about this book, and the series in particular, is the idea that this superhuman race are separate but entwined with humanity throughout history. The powers that the First Race have reminded me a bit of the movie "Push" actually, if only in the way they are named. They're powerful, but Franklin keeps the narrative on course, without exploding it into a Bruckheimer-esque overdone too-big situation.

In The Guardians readers find out more about Ava, her background i.e. being adopted, and why/how, and get to see more of Caleb, but more importantly, TIERNAN.

Why am I so partial to him? He's kind of unlikeable in the first book. In fact, he's the BAD GUY for the greater part of it. I think I have a soft spot for meanies who get softened down by the protagonist. Like cats, once you win them over.

Will he be a love interest? Won't he? (see my interview with T.M. Franklin below, where I ask her this question.)

To be honest, I won't be too sad if he isn't, the love triangle is kinda tired in YA, in my opinion. Tired, but somehow still engrossing enough that I yearn for it?

All in all, this book is a very good follow-up to the first in an excellent series. A fast-paced, quick read, with a sort of fantasy-meets-science-fiction premise that is accessible to fans of both genres. It's blended enough that science nerds won't be tripped up by technobabble, and fantasy fans get kick-ass characters with fantastical powers.

View all my reviews | buy at TWCS | Barnes and Noble | Amazon
 
Author Bio:
T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, More, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.

In addition to More and The Guardians, Franklin penned the Amazon best-selling short story, Window, as well as another short story, "A Piece of Cake," which appears in the Romantic Interludes anthology.

Connect with T.M. Franklin: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Interview:

MORE  was a NaNoWriMo novel, right? I love to see NaNo novels in print. What kept you in Ava's world during those 30 days?
NaNo was so good for me. I really needed the daily accountability to keep myself writing. NaNo really emphasizes that you should just keep writing – and not go back and try to edit at all. That was really hard for me to do. In the end, though, it helped a lot. I was able to get about 2/3 of the book done during the month of November. They key, for me, was my outline. It allowed me to keep writing and avoid those times when you just don’t feel inspired. Since I knew where I was going, I just focused on getting the words down and going in the right direction. I went back later to clean it up and make it better.
Do you have any tips for WriMos getting bored with their stories (coughmecough) or having trouble with discipline and writing every day?
Ugh. I’m one of you this year! It’s really difficult to focus on writing when I’m so deep in promoting my new release. I don’t have any great tips other than the old Nike adage – just do it. Even if you put your novel aside and are writing something else. Just write something.
 
I creeped on your NaNo profile a little bit, and I noticed your working title for book 3 of the MORE trilogy is Twelve. Will readers get to meet all of the Twelve?
Yes, to a certain extent. Some you’ll get to know more than others.
You've mentioned before that you get to know some of your characters as you write them. I love Tiernan, his character, his internal conflict between being a loyal Protector and his loyalty to his friends. How was getting to know Tiernan for you? Did anything surprise you? (I laughed out loud when Ava said that under his Veil he looks like Michael Cera/Jesse Eisenberg, I did NOT see that coming, but I loved “Zombieland”)
I’m so glad you enjoyed him, because I loved expanding on Tiernan’s character in The Guardians. That was probably the most fun I had writing the story, along with developing the relationship between him and Ava. I always knew he’d play a bigger role in the second book, and that there was more to him than initially met the eye in MORE, so I don’t know if I’d say anything about him was surprising to me. I would say that I smiled a lot while writing his scenes, however. I like him a lot.
Speaking of Tiernan, in the first part of MORE, Ava mentions to her roommate Lucy that she finds Tiernan attractive, even though she was terrified of him at the time. You've decided to avoid the love triangle route (thank you), but is the book completely closed between them, or is it possible the attraction will resurface later on?
Ava knows who she’s meant to be with. As for Tiernan, well, he’s a bit broken from a past relationship, so we’ll just have to wait and see how he deals with that and what his romantic future looks like.
You wrote Ava's heartache with Caleb so well! I haven't felt a YA rocky relationship so deeply since (don't laugh) Stephenie Meyer's New Moon. Ava's situation in The Guardians is so much less...pathetic because she empowers herself to find him. Did you write the situation with that in mind?
One of the things I like about Ava is the way she deals with all the craziness that’s thrown at her. Instead of whining or falling apart or relying on others, she keeps pushing forward. She may not always make the right decisions, but she really tries to do what she thinks is right. An important aspect of the whole trilogy is that it’s not all about Caleb rescuing Ava – sometimes (to quote Pretty Woman) she rescues him right back. 
I'm a mythology nerd, and I love the idea that mythological figures like the Titans of Greek mythology and the biblical Nephilim were actually members of the First Race. Can you talk a little bit about your inspiration for that? Will readers get to see any historical or mythological connections in the final book of the trilogy?
I had all of this backstory in mind about the Race when I was writing the first book – all of these characters in myth and history that either were Race or Rogues or Half-Breeds. For example, maybe Attilla the Hun was a Rogue who was trying to seize power for himself, but was taken down by the Council. Or that Jonas Salk’s assistant was Race and he was the one who actually pushed him in the right direction to develop the polio vaccine. Maybe Medusa was a Half-Breed whose power was uncontrollable, so she had to be stopped - that kind of thing. A lot of it has fallen to the wayside because it just didn’t seem to fit anywhere. There’s a possibility some of it may come up in the final book, though – perhaps the true history of Merlin and King Arthur. 
What inspired the characteristics and abilities of the First Race, and how did you decide which abilities (such as tele- and pyrokinesis) to give them?
I sat down and thought of all of the cool powers I could think of (and then Googled some more!) Then I sat down and connected powers to characters. Protectors, like Tiernan, Katherine, and Caleb needed to have gifts that would aid them in their jobs, of course, so tracking and shifting made sense for them. Same for the Council, which I talked about more in The Guardians.
The powers for the Twelve were even more of a challenge. I don’t want to say too much about that yet, but it should be fun to see some of those revealed.
Will readers see more variety of abilities in the next book, such as, I don't know, flight, or underwater breathing?
Maybe not those particular gifts, but yes, you’ll see a lot more.
Could the First Race be responsible for mythological creatures like angels and mermaids?
Yes, that was kind of my thought process behind the Race in the first place – that maybe these mythological creatures weren’t really what you think. I hinted at that a little in MORE in describing some of the Race who couldn’t leave New Elysia because they were just too beautiful. People could easily mistake them for angels. Maybe mermaids didn’t really have fish tails but could swim really fast and breathe underwater – and the storytellers added the fish tails along the way.
Ok, last question: if you could cast a TV series for the trilogy, who would you cast, and would you go cable or primetime network, say, the CW vs. HBO?
Oh wow – this is a hard question! I mean, this is so far beyond what I could hope for, but if we’re dreaming, let’s dream big, right? Lol!
I think the most important thing to me would be that whoever made it had the budget for the special effects – in particular, the Veil would be a concern for me – the rest shouldn’t be too difficult. So whoever could do that I’d be happy with.
Odette Annable
Sarah Roemer
As for a cast, I think I’d prefer an unknown for Ava – someone who could make the character her own. But Sarah Roemer has a good look for her. Or one of my readers suggested Odette Annable, who is beautiful and would also be a good choice.

For Caleb, I’m kind of torn between Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty, Covert Affairs) and model Mark Ricketson, who was suggested by another reader. (Although who knows if he can act? LoL!)

Christopher Gorham
Mark Ricketson
 I’d love Charlize Theron for Madeleine and Billy Burke for Gideon. A bald and scarred Colin Egglesfield for Tiernan, Asli Tandogan for Katherine, and there’s a Japanese actress named Maki Horikita who has the right look for Emma.

But a lot of that’s based on looks alone – to be honest, I’d be happy with a cast of new actors to try and bring the story to life. Actually, I’d be thrilled if anybody anywhere ever wanted to actually see it as a TV show! Lol!

Thanks for reading!

And thank you to The Writer's Coffee Shop for the ARCs, and to T.M. Franklin for being generally awesome!

25 November 2013

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux, #1)

Obsidian (Lux, #1)Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published May 8th 2012 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (first published November 23rd 2011)
ISBN 162061006X


When seventeen-year-old Katy Swartz moved to West Virginia right before her senior year, she'd pretty much resigned herself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring, but then she spotted her hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up...until he opened his mouth. Daemon Black is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. It's hate at first sight, but when a stranger attacks her and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. The hot guy next door? Well, he's an alien. Turns out that Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities and Katy is caught in the crosshairs. Daemon's touch has lit her up like the Vegas Strip and the only way she's getting out of this alive is by sticking close to him until her alien mojo fades. That is if she doesn't kill him first.

You know how sometimes a book is just exactly what you needed and is so particularly good at what it is that you just...

You just read it until 3am.

That's how good this book is. What it does, it does perfectly. I'm so blown away by how excellently the twisty, embarrassing, infuriating feelings of adolescence are crystallized in this book.

And there are also aliens. Come onnnnn this is too good.

Katy is so likeable, and very real. She has insecurities, but they aren't crippling or overdone. She's beautifully admirable in her courage. She's so many things I was at her age but she manages to overcome them.

Let's not even get me started on the chemistry. Hnng. Hnnnnnnnng.

Can I just say I'm glad I was a hopelessly abstinent loser in high school because if I had a boy like Daemon living next door, taunting me like that, I would have spent all of my spare time scratching at his bedroom window. Hooo lawdy.

Jennifer Armentrout does rocky, awkward, embarrassing, douchey relationships well. She does action and mysterious backgrounds well. Action, check. Banter, check. Mean teenagers, check check.

Just...read this book so we can fangirl over it together.

And yes, before anyone asks, I AM jealous that fictional, seventeen year old Katy's book blog is more popular than mine.

View all my reviews | Buy Obsidian on Amazon.com

NaNoWrimo: Update on extreme failure

So predictably I haven't been writing for NaNo. I don't know what it is, maybe it's the pressure, maybe it's that I am just really bad at juggling life and stuff, but I've topped out at about 6 or 7k words.

Top 3 reasons why:

 

1. I got bored.  

Like, really really bored. My story, which seemed so new and exciting was starting to feel real. Like real life. I knew too much about it and I couldn't be excited about something so mundane. The ironic part is it's an urban fantasy, so maybe I just need to up the amount of dragons and monsters and butt kicking and stuff.

2. The mood.

Seriously, what's up with that? I really wanted to want to write. I did. But I was invariably tired or grumpy or couldn't focus. What are this.

3. That pesky social life.

Now, don't laugh, because I'm not making this up. People actually wanted to hang out with me. It's like every time I even put my fingers to the keyboard my phone would go off. Usually friends, but sometimes work. I had four work events, but I could have written despite those. It was the fact that I had friends to talk to that really threw me.

Unfortunately there isn't a real solution for any of this. Whenever I am feeling particularly loser-like I am usually too restless to sit and write. So even if this was an off season for me and the calling cards ceased coming in, I doubt I'd be any more productive.

I'd have to write like 9k words a day to finish NaNo by the end of the week. Can I do it? Probably. I've written 10k in a day before, but that took monumental effort. Will I do it? I don't know. I am not sure I can commit to that. It's a really draining endeavor, and to be honest it's not really up to me. I'd basically need someone (coughboyfriendcough) to take care of all of the things for the next five days. I don't know if that's something I can ask. Or will receive.

I'm pretty disappointed in myself, but it's not too late. On the upside I've been reading, and have a review to post later today. I'm also doing a blog tour for T.M. Franklin's The Guardians on Dec. 2. So check back in a week to see what I thought of the book (spoiler alert, I loved it) and read my interview with the author!

How is your NaNo going?

08 November 2013

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, week 2



So I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. This is my fifth or something year participating and I have yet to win, so I'm really trying to put all of my mental resources into writing, which means less (or no) reading. And probably no review blogging.

 I'll try to post here with my updates. I really like my story idea, and I think it's going along swimmingly, though I've got less than half of my day 8 target words written. I'm hoping to use the next couple of hours to really knock some of my word count out of the park.

Word count: 5074
Cups of coffee desired: 2309410397410410

31 October 2013

Happy Halloween! Review: To Have and To Code (A Modern Witch 0.5) by Debora Geary

 It's All Hallows' Eve, and I think it is really fitting that the book I read today is about witches, because the costume I threw together last minute is a "witch" (Halloween being on a work day really de-prioritizes the costume energy).  Complete with stripey socks.



I've had this book sitting on my kindle for several months, and a fit of boredom this morning led me to read most of it. Here's the review. Happy Samhain!

To Have and To Code (A Modern Witch 0.5)To Have and To Code
 by Debora Geary
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Published September 12th 2012
by Fireweed Publishing
Nell Sullivan is fiery, easily distracted by cookies, and doomed to wear the peach monstrosity at her best friend’s wedding.

And she’s a witch.

Daniel Walker is a former baseball player turned bored hacker looking for a challenge. Hacking Nell's online gaming world is going to get him a lot more than he bargained for.

A prophecy says they will make babies together – but when it comes to the love life of a modern witch and a hacker, prophecy might not get a vote.
It's really unfair of me to rate this book so low because it really wasn't bad, I just expected different things of it than what it gave me. I started it because it was free in the Amazon lending library and it's about witches. Here are some things I'd wish I'd known about it before starting.

1. There is no sex in it. NONE. Lots of "heat," so much, in fact, that stuff is always threatening to get melted. Cool right? Yeah, I guess, the first 20 times it's threatened. Then it loses threat power.

2. There isn't enough magic.

3. It's set in 1997. Somehow I missed this for the first three quarters of the book. It's about computer programming/gaming. Let's just say if you know anything about computers it's going to be a low level buzz in the back of your brain the entire time you read it.

4. The characters are wayyy too close. All of them. They all talk too much about their feelings and are way too interested in the feelings of others.

All in all, it's a nice read if you're interested in romances between characters with few flaws, no sex, and lots of destined true love. Not what I needed today, but still written well!

View all my reviews

29 September 2013

What I'm reading: everything, pretty much.

Do you ever get the sudden rush of horror and despair when you think about how many books there are in the world (at least, in languages you can read), and how little time you have to read them?

I've been experiencing a bit of that lately. Just a bit. *stares blankly at wall*

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)I'm halfway-ish through the final book in the Wheel of Time series. I've let it sit in the backburner of my kindle because after racing through thirteen other books I don't really want to be finished with it. It's not really the type of series I'm likely to ever reread, so I guess I'm trying to keep the world alive in my mind.

I've kinda gottten sucked into Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series, which is a testament to how entertaining they are, because I am SO very over vampires. But these books are like a rocket, you get sped through these stories and are kinda hooked. Like the (good) action movie equivalent of urban fantasy.

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)I've been reading other series too, but so quickly I haven't had the wherewithal to review the books individually. Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid series is six books long, and I tore through them. I doubt I'll ever get around to reviewing them, so I'll just say that I enjoyed the world she crafted, even though Georgina being a succubus kind of sank the character into the hot-girl-at-whom-all-male-characters-throw-themselves territory. I'm not such a huge fan of this, but I enjoyed the story, which is very romance heavy. Shrug. It was pretty good anyway.

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)I also started Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts series. I'm on the latest right now. This series is really interesting! It's set in this sort of dystopic future society where ghosts are murderous and are held in captivity in the City of Eternity by the Church, whose motto is "Facts are Truth." Cesaria "Chess" Putnam, the protagonist, is a drug addict with an insanely depressing past. She's a weird anti-heroine that isn't really that hard to like. I love the gritty aspect of the setting, a look into an addict character like Chess's mind, and the slang Kane uses, which other reviewers have noted is actually brilliant in that it's not racist. It's also kind of infectious. Bump (a pimp/drug dealer) is probably the most entertaining dialogue to read. He uses the eff word with true artistry.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real MagicHmm, what else? I read a book called The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic which I adored. I think I should definitely review that in depth. (I just checked Emily Croy Barker's Twitter account and she's working on a sequel. YAAAASSSSS)

That's all really, right now. I've been really busy this last week and kind of burned out on reading, but that's usually temporary. I'm thinking about getting back into more contemporary general fiction and literary fiction. I've been glutting myself on fantasy books to cleanse my mind palette, but I'm starting to feel as if my standards are being lowered by popular fiction. I'm open to book suggestions, although I have a stack of to-read books on my night stand that nearly reaches from the floor to my hip...maybe after the new year.

What have you been reading?

12 August 2013

Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published 2011 by Viking Penguin
ISBN 0670022411
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

This book had a LOT of problems. Really kind of troubling problems. I liked it anyway. Sit down, I'll tell you why.

I'll start with what I loved with this book: the settings were excellent. I love coming to know a place through a book. I've never been to Oxford but I think I caught a sliver of it through the narrative. I loved the academic parts of it, and I loved that I learned things about history from it. I always enjoy picking up tidbits of practical knowledge from fiction. The premise of the book was interesting. And here is where we run into my issues.

This book is disturbingly like Twilight. Don't get me wrong, I loved Twilight, despite my better judgment and its many flaws, but this book is supposed to be a book about a witch and her personal struggle against fate, or the underground political struggles between the supernatural races. This would have worked out in a really interesting way if not for one thing: homegirl falls in love with a vampire.

There is something about [male] vampires in urban fantasy acquiring the power to utterly ruin any story the minute the heroine falls for them. It doesn't happen every time, see Sunshine or Rachel Morgan, but it seems to tap into this dark well of perverse desire to be absorbed entirely into someone else's life in certain authors of certain books. The relationship turns into this black hole that seems to swallow everything else. Granted, relationships often do, but you can't realistically let your life be subsumed into that of a really old dead guy when you are just beginning your own journey of self discovery without your readers thinking you've lost your damn mind. Which is pretty much what happens here.

Luckily this guy is ptherwise pretty interesting and you get to go to France and find out a buncha stuff. But the original plotlines suffer for this.

Don't even get me STARTED ranting about the whole alpha male/pack business. We get it, vampires are animalistic. Let's just go ahead and disregard all feminist social progress. Because he just can't help himself. EYE ROLL

I really enjoy reading books about witches. Unfortunately, this book was almost entirely hijacked by vampires from the beginning. I really would have liked to learn more about Diana's parents and her Bishop lineage. I would DEFINITELY liked to learn more about daemons. Not the secrety things, just more about what they are like and what differentiates them from...well, mentally gifted and disturbed humans. Because aside from being savants, I can't pinpoint a single thing.

All in all, a good/ruthless editor with a scalpel and an aversion to vampire hijacking would have done this book a world of good. It was about a hundred, maybe two hundred pages longer than I expected it to be (ebook), and about the same length stretched out/overwritten. Despite all of my issues and opinions to the contrary, I did really enjoy this book and can't wait to read the next one.

I know. I'm hopeless.

View all my reviews

05 August 2013

Review: The Restorer (Graveyard Queen, #1) by Amanda Stevens

The Restorer (Graveyard Queen, #1)The Restorer
by Amanda Stevens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Published April 19th 2011 by Mira
ISBN13 9780778329817
  
My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims—lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.
I really wanted to like this book more. It has all of the ingredients to bake up into a beautiful cupcake of favorite book, for me anyway. Ghosts, Charleston, NC, hot guys, murder. The reason the first half of the book took me forever to get through (or at least it felt like an eternity) was due to the style of the writing.

This is SO unlike me to say, but the narration style was overdone. It was too...stylized, too over-written. No one thinks in such a flowery, erudite way. But people sure do write that way. I'm sure I've got pages and pages of abandoned writing that read exactly the way the beginning of The Restorer does.

It's too bad, really, because what was shooting to be beautifully written, almost literature, wayyyy overshot, but had atmosphere and intrigue. Luckily it eventually did get better. That or I just got used to it.

Amelia Gray isn't a very interesting or well fleshed out character (I can tell you exactly one thing about her personality: that she's reserved) but her circumstances make up for it. Lots of stuff happens to her. Interesting stuff. And all of the information about graveyards is fascinating!

Definitely a good summer read, with lots of ghosts and southern gothic settings. My cup of tea, mostly.

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30 July 2013

Advance review: Elysian Fields (Sentinels of New Orleans #3) by Suzanne Johnson

Elysian Fields (Sentinels of New Orleans, #3)Elysian Fields
by Suzanne Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Expected publication: August 13th 2013 by Tor Books 
ISBN0765333198
An undead serial killer comes for DJ in this thrilling third installment of Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series.

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combatting an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.
I started reading the Sentinels of New Orleans series in my desperate quest to tide myself over before the new Alex Craft and Kate Daniels books come out at the beginning of August and end of July, respectively. I've mentioned before that the southern setting is a big draw for me, and N'awlins seemed like a great place for a paranormal urban fantasy. It is really fun to get to know the city and its legends and night spots through these books.

Royal Street, the first book in the series, introduces the heroine, deputy Sentinel Drusilla Jaco (call her DJ or she will pummel you), a minor wizard living in New Orleans right before Hurricane Katrina hits. Her mentor, Gerry, goes missing, her city is devastated, and it's up to her to make it right. With a new partner foisted on her - one who just happens to be extremely hot, the story and setting are interesting. The second book is even better, even though the narrative jumps forward two years and all of the characters' relationships...don't.

Now we skip to THIS book, which albeit is an ARC (I love NetGalley), so there might still be some changes that show up in the finished copy, but from what I read, either my memory is awful or Suzanne Johnson's writing style and editor changed. Dramatically.

Don't get me wrong, the story is still great. You'll be hooked. It's a page turner, and that's exactly why I have a problem with it. The chapters feel truncated and stilted. DJ ends the narration of a chapter in a punchy, dramatic way, and then picks up at the start of the next chapter with an entirely different temporal subject. It's hours or days later, and the cliff-hanger of the previous chapter gets resolved in a quick, past-tense aside. Not gonna lie, I felt cheated. I would almost ALWAYS rather "see" how an altercation or issue gets resolved than be told. It starts to be less jarring toward the middle of the book, but that also may be because I became accustomed to it.

All in all, decent read, I will definitely pick up the next in the series when it comes out next year, and I will go down with my 'ship. There are like a bajillion (3) absurdly attractive guys in this series vying for DJ's attention and Johnson is being VERY clever with these relationship plot twists, that clever boots. Pirates and shifters and elves, oh my. Though it's kind of a dead giveaway which one is meant to win out, he's the only one who hasn't done something jaw droppingly awful to DJ in the past two books, so it's hard to root for anyone else.

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