Books and Things

Eclectic reader who also blogs about things that interest me.

Jennifer Estep Interview and Black Widow Giveaway at Books and Things

Black Widow - Jennifer Estep

Come by Books and Things Blog for an author interview with Jennifer Estep, the author of the Elemental Assassin series! There is also a giveaway for Black Widow the newest in the series. 2 Winners! US only. Just click HERE to go to the post to enter.

 

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry - Gail Carriger

Another great installment to this series. Although the bulk of the mystery happened at the last part of the book, the action was throughout as well as the tongue in cheek world in which Sophronia resides. There is a romantic triangle that has built even more within this series. In this one you might root for one more than the other but you should have no idea who she ends up with in the end. There is this world to consider and not just what the heart wants. Plus, we don't know a lot about both suiters and what might be best for either one in the end as well. I hope we get to know both even more as the series progresses.

In this book I think the characters outshine the mystery and that may not be good for a mystery, but it is good for the series. This is a series where I not only love the main character, but the secondary characters. If you love great secondary characters, you need to read this one. They even have a mechanical dog with a great personality!

I give this latest installment 4 stars. I recommend it to those that love tongue in cheek worldbuilding as well as those that love great characters. YA mystery and steampunk lovers should really pick up this series.

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Talon - Julie Kagawa

I'm a fan of Julie Kagawa so I couldn't wait to get this book! I was lucky enough to get it through the Goodreads First Reads program and I devoured this book pretty quickly. I liked the tension she had going throughout the book. I felt like I was on edge the whole time waiting for that other shoe to drop. Although sometimes I felt it was too much tension, it might have been me just wanting to get the bad part over. :)

I think my biggest complaint of the book is the love triangle. I think that this is more of a successful triangle than in her books in the past. Not completely sure who she will pick when before I was completely certain by the end of the first book. Still not a fan of this trope, but it didn't bother me so much that it drug me out of the story.

I would have also liked more worldbuilding. I especially want more with the dragons, but I think that will come as Ember learns more about her own kind. I am also curious about the secret society of the St. George group. I have a feeling learning about these two groups will throw us a few twists and turns as the series moves along.

I give this book 4 stars. I enjoyed my time here. It felt a bit formulaic, but entertaining nonetheless. I am looking forward to finding out more about this world and seeing how far Ember grows. I recommend it to those that enjoy YA PNR and dragons! :)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater

This is a must read book for the series. It is also a series that is designed to be read in order. For me, the newest edition to The Raven Cycle is sort of a middle book. However, I must note that it does not suffer from middle book syndrome. I call it a middle book because it moves the story along from where you were and lets you know that you are on the right path to where you are going. It gives a few answers and also creates a few questions. Yes, this is what middle books should strive to become.

The book starts off as a grey tone in that we are continuing from the last adventure and ends up quite dark and almost pitch black. The surprises in this book darken the storyline and a tissue or two might have to be had during this time. There is some light but it does not lighten the mood at all. The epilogue is a surprise to say the least and it will thrill you and anger you unless you have the next book at the ready. Right now I have a year to wait. *sobs*

I give this book 4 stars. I recommend it to those that love Stiefvater's writing as well as those that like a gripping YA adventure.

Books and Things Blog Tour with US Giveaway!

Prepare for the final book in the House of Night Series by PC Cast and Kristin Cast! Excerpt and Goddess Gift Giveaway at Books and Things blog. Just go HERE to enter! US only.

Night Sky by Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann

Night Sky - Suzanne Brockmann, Melanie Brockmann

We start with a bang in this book and then we work backwards. I get why this is done... to capture your attention and then go with the explanation, but I became a bit frustrated after the first chapter. I wanted to go back to that initial "problem" and move forward from there. Of course if that would have happened, I would have wanted more information... so I guess it worked out in the end. :)

I did enjoy Skylar as a character. Loved watching her grow, but what really captured me was the secondary characters in this book. In some ways they even outshined Skylar. I loved them all! I even liked her mother who seemed a bit on the nutter side. I have a feeling there will be more to that relationship in the coming series.

I enjoyed the mystery in this one as well. It wasn't too hard to figure out, but there were a few small twists along the way. It left you with a good understanding of this world but with several questions left yet to be answered. I feel that those questions are going to be a part of a big arc in this series. There were a few inconsistencies with the girl's power toward the end, but nothing that bothered me. I also had problems with a few words that were on repetition. Still, these things were minor and didn't really pull me too far out of the story.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a pretty good start to a series I wish to continue. I recommend it to those that enjoy the superhero type and kick ass female characters.

Dangerous Destiny (Night Sky #.05) by Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann

Dangerous Destiny: A Night Sky novella - Suzanne Brockmann, Melanie Brockmann

This is a teaser for the beginning of this series. You get an introduction to the world that Skylar will have to inhabit but no more information than that. It really sets the tone for the first book in the series. In other words, it is a good appetizer. I give this book 3 stars. I recommend it to those wanting to really dive into the series, but have the first book on hand.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

A Sudden Light: A Novel - Garth Stein

I admit it took me a few pages to really get into this story but when the ghosts started interacting with Trevor and he fully became engaged within his family's own mystery I was caught. Trevor is an ususal kid who is smart and brave. He is only 14 but reads much older in some aspects of the book. It makes sense since he is a near genius and has had to parent his dad through much of the book. He also finds his vulnerability and you see him as only a kid at times. This created a character I wanted to know.

The ghosts in this story aren't too scary and are either helpful or mysterious. All help him to unravel history that had been going on for a few generations. The characters are lovable except for the aunt, but then again she was very manipulative. I don't want to say too much since following Trevor while solved the mystery was the most interesting part of the book. I also loved the character of the grandfather who is a mystery to himself.

I give this book 4 stars. It had a rocky start for me but finished strong. It is a book that isn't so young that adults wouldn't like it. I recommend this to those that love a good family mystery.

2 Books 1 Winner at Books and Things Blog

2 books, 1 winner! Win a steampunk book, "The Time Roads" by Beth Bernobich and a PNR, "The Heart of Stone" by Debra Mullins. US/Can snail mail addys only. Sponsored by Tor Books. Just click HERE to go to the post to enter. Good luck!

Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch

Snow Like Ashes - Sara Raasch

This is one of those books that I would give to a reluctant fantasy reader. I know that a lot of high fantasy can be bogged down with details making it hard to read for those that aren't used to that sort of writing. This, however, is not bogged down with details, but gives just the right amount to keep the story moving and still put you fully in that world. I was enthralled with the story but once I hit the half way mark, I had a hard time putting it down. Who needs sleep?

My favorite thing about this book is Meira. I loved her transformation from a typical teen wanting to prove herself into a true leader. I also loved the world building in the book. And I will caution you about one thing... there is a love triangle brewing. Not sure how it will play out but it was done in such a way it didn't bother me in the least. I did feel on edge about it, but my worries never manifested. I suspect it is because romance is not a major player in this story but promises to readdress itself in later editions of this series.

I give this book 5 stars. I really enjoyed this book and my only complaint is that I don't have the second book in my hot little hands! As I said above I would recommend it to those that are reluctant to get into the fantasy genre.

PS... anyone kept picturing Xena when seeing this cover? One reason I loved it! LOL

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Chasing Power - Sarah Beth Durst

The book starts off with a girl that has a telekinetic power and her best friend hanging out and abusing her power by stealing. Her secret is not just her power but the fact that her father wants to kill her. So when she meets Daniel she sets out on an adventure she didn't expect, finds out what she really wants in life and meets the challenge of whatever is thrown at her.

Sara Beth Durst usually gives us some great standalones in the YA genre. Usually you have series and a standalone is rare so I think that is one reason her books stand out for me. The other is the fact that I really end up enthralled with her stories. I enjoy her writing so I was excited to get this book. I was not let down.

I did enjoy the characters of Kayla and Daniel but who really shined was Kayla's best friend, Selena. She is the girl you want to befriend. She is loyal, snarky, smart, and witty. She stole the show and I think that is my biggest complaint... not enough Selena. Kayla and Daniel did have their moments as well. Kayla has incredible growth into maturity within this story and Daniel learns to finally listen. There is romance, but no insta-love.

I give this book 4 stars. I really enjoyed the adventure as well as these characters. One other complaint is that while I do like the cover in it's simplicity, it does not fit at all with the book. So, don't look for clues there. :) I recommend this book to those that love a good YA adventure filled with magic.

Lailah by Nikki Kelly

Lailah  - Nikki Kelly
The book starts with a prologue that sets up what we believe Lailah's parentage and what happened to her. It's an interesting beginning and I was looking forward to a great story. Right away I saw the resemblance to the Twilight series. There were other resemblances but this one really stood out for me. I kept thinking that perhaps I was seeing similarities where there was none, but when Gabriel actually sparkled I could not think that it wasn't purposeful in some way.
 
It is a very readable book, but the problems for me started when the worldbuilding took a sharp turn. Usually that is something that is consistent in a book but this one wasn't. It starts out with angels/ demons (vampires) within the Judeo-Christian mythos. Suddenly there was an extra terrestrial element thrown it. If this was at least hinted at in the beginning I wouldn't be bothered by it. I will give the author props for really being able to weave this element well into the worldbuilding, but because it seemed like such a departure for me I had problems with it.
 
My second big problem was with Cessie/Lailah and her "romances". First, I felt this was an very unsuccessful attempt at a triangle. I didn't see the appeal to Jonah at all. In fact he was anything but a demonic bully and he put her in direct harm more than once. Because of the danger she would be so fearful of the vampires she "befriended" but one instance on extreme jealousy with Gabriel had her running back into the arms of Jonah, no fear at all. This is the point I had to stop. The inconsistencies of her behavior was just too much for me so I decided to dnf.
 
I will however recommend it to those that enjoy a YA PNR. Checking the goodreads reviews it seems that you will either love this one or hate it. Might be one to try at the library for the first book.

Embers by Karen Ann Hopkins

Embers (The Wings of War Book 1) - Karen Ann Hopkins

Of course I can't start this review without mentioning the cover. Another great cover by Jenny (Supernatural Snark and Seedlings). Of course I jumped at reviewing this book because of the beautiful cover. It also fits the story very well.

I did enjoy all the characters but would have liked a few of the secondary characters fleshed out a bit  more. I would have loved to know a bit more about Aunt Ila especially and her brother who we only see at the beginning of the book. I would also like to see more secondary characters in general with Ember's quest and I have a feeling there will be more forthcoming.

My biggest problem with this book is with her romance with Sawyer. In the human world he is obsessive, abusive, and a danger to Ember and her loved ones. So while she straddled the line between the supernatural and the mundane I had a problem with her gravitating toward him. However, when she was just involved in the supernatural world I had no problem with him at all. It had to do with context. In this world he was a demon and that was his nature. It made sense.

I give this book 3 stars. I did enjoy the writing and once the supernatural world took over I seemed to enjoy it even more. I'm looking forward to the continuation of this series and finding out what happens next.

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Of Monsters and Madness - Jessica Verday

I'm actually not sure how to rate this one. I have a feeling you will love or hate it but I sort of felt somewhere in the middle with this one. I was looking forward to some gothic piece with Edgar Allan Poe but didn't quite get that. There were aspects of him and his work, but other horror retellings also made their way into the book and I think that is where the book lost me a bit.

First I wasn't too invested in Annabel. I felt distant from her even though I did enjoy her character. The introduction of the other horror tales were not subtle and I thought distracted from what could have been a more interesting story. Either make it an amalgamation of Poe's stories or a total retelling of horror stories. My feelings might be just about unmet expectations and may be quite unfair to the book as a whole.

I give this book 2 1/2 stars. It was quite readable but the elements didn't quite come together for me in the end. I do believe it is a series and I would pick up the next book just to find out what happens. If it isn't a series I believe me rating would go down because of the unanswered questions. Still, if you like a dark gothic atmosphere, you might want to try this one. You may love it so much more than I did.

Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey

Whisper the Dead  - Alyxandra Harvey

I had a bit of a problem getting into this one because it is told with multi-POVs which kept confusing me. Now had I read it right after the first I probably wouldn't have kept confusing the characters. Now when the girls, Gretchen, Emma and Penelope, separate I had no problems what so ever with getting everyone straight. Those parts of the book really took off for me and I was quite enthralled. I believe that if I had reread the first book none of it would have confused me. So, I recommend a reread of the first for those that might feel a bit lost with multi-POVs. I didn't feel that way with the first book and I sincerely think I am to blame for the confusion.

What I did love about this book is that the author went deeper with the characters. I felt like I got to know many of the secondary characters much better in this installment. I also liked how the magic really adds to the plot within this story. I felt it was stronger here than in the first book.

I give this book 3 stars. It is a book with multi-POVs and a complex plot. I do suggest a reread of the first book or even reading it close to reading this one. Don't let that put you off of the book. I think you will find a rich world with great characters within the pages. I do warn that there is a cliffie but it didn't bother me too much knowing that this is a trilogy and the conclusion to the adventure is in sight.

Interview with a Hex Boy: Supernatural Fun When Book Bloggers and Fantasy Demon Hunters Collide (The Divinicus Nex Chronicles) - A and E Kirk

Finally! My official, in print, proof that all the Hex boys are MINE (well, when they turn 21!). I have to say that the first interview in this book was the best, but I may be a bit prejudiced... ;) This brought back so many great memories and a lot of fun. What is great about this collection is that all the proceeds go to First Book and Reading Is Fundamental! What a great way to have a giggle and support a charity at the same time! I, of course, give this one a 5 and recommend it to those that enjoy character interviews and lots of fun. :)