Monday, May 25, 2015

The Iron Ship - Review

Title:  The Iron Ship
Author: K.M. McKinley
Series:  The Gates of the World #1

Synopsis:  “The Twin flees across the sky, bringing in its wake the Great Tide.  The Earth trembles under the shadow of its brother.  Times are changing.
     “The order of the world is in turmoil.  An age of industry is beginning, an age of machines fulled by magic.  Sprawling cities rise, strange devices stalk the land.  New money brings new power.  The balance between the Hundred Kingdoms is upset.  For the first time in generations the threat of war looms.
     “In these turbulent days, fortunes can be won.  Magic runs strong in the Kressind family.  Six siblings strive – one to triumph in a world of men, one to survive murderous intrigue, one to master forbidden sorcery, one to wash away his sins, one to contain the terrible energies of his soul.
     “And one will do the impossible, by marrying the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship, to cross an ocean that cannot by crossed.”

ReviewThe Iron Ship is a well developed novel with an immense cast of characters and an excellent story.  The effort that McKinley put forth on this novel is evident in the development of the world, and the people in it. 
     Don’t let the title and the cover fool you, this is not just a story about an iron ship; there is only one chapter of the novel that is actually set at sea, aboard the ship.  There are a lot of characters in The Iron Ship, the story is focused on the siblings of the Kressind family, but draws in other characters as well.  There is a lot of head hopping that occurs, which was distressing to me at first, however it is so well handled by McKinley that the switches are smooth and not distracting from the story. 
     I kept having trouble putting The Iron Ship down, the quality of the world building was such that I kept getting lost in the story and forgetting that I do not actually live in the Hundred Kingdoms.  My only complaint is that the book ends too soon.  When is the next one coming out?  I want it!

**I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review, via NetGalley**

Publisher:   Solaris

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Sentinel Mage (The Cursed Kingdoms Trilogy #1) by Emily Gee (Read BookGirlR’s review here)

Chronicles of the Necromancer by Gail Z. Martin

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Heir to the Jedi - Review

Title:  Heir to the Jedi
Author:   Kevin Hearne
Series:  Star Wars (Empire and Rebellion #3)

Synopsis:The Galactic Civil War rages on after the destruction of the Death Star and Luke Skywalker struggles to learn more about the Force without the aid of Obi-Wan Kenobi – or indeed without any aid at all. But the few memories he has of Obi-Wan’s instruction point the way to a stronger control of the Force, and he is encouraged to pursue it by a new friend in the Alliance. When Luke, R2-D2 and his new ally are tasked with liberating a valuable asset from the Empire and delivering her to a safe planet where she can aid the Alliance, their journey across the galaxy is fraught with peril – and opportunities for Luke to discover the mysteries of the Force.”

Review:  I would like to start by saying that I am a huge Star Wars fan and also a Kevin Hearne fan.  So when I saw that Heir to the Jedi was a Star Wars novel written by Kevin Hearne I was so excited I squealed a little.  I enjoyed Heir to the Jedi.  But I did have a couple of issues to begin with.
     The first person POV set in Luke’s head is unsettling and kept throwing me off for two reasons.  First, the vast majority of other Star Wars novels are written in the third person POV; so it was strange to be reading a Star Wars novel in first person.  I think I could have gotten accustomed to this were it not for the fact that the POV character is none other than Luke Skywalker, which is my second reason for being unsettled at first.
     Luke is such a well known character from the movies and previous books that most Star Wars fans already have their own ideas of how he should think, and how he should act.  So being told what Luke is thinking, and not having it match what we think he should  be like (and let’s face it, we all have different opinions of what he should think and how he should act), was strange and unsettling.  Had this novel been told from the first person POV with a minor or new main character I think it would have been fine.  But since it was Luke I think third person POV would have been a better choice.
     The plot itself is great. It’s a rollicking good adventure, and I eventually did get past my issues with the first person POV.  I am glad that I stuck with it and was able to get past my initial issues with Heir to the Jedi.

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley.**

Publisher: Lucas Books

If you like this book you may want to read:

Razor’s Edge (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #1) by Martha Wells

Honor Among Thieves (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #2) by James S.A.Corey

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne (See BookGirlR's review of Hounded here)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Afterworlds - Review

Title: Afterworlds
Author: Scott Westerfeld

      “Darcy Patel is afraid to believe all the hype. But it’s really happening – her teen novel is getting published. Instead of heading to college, she’s living in New York City, where she’s welcomed into the dazzling world of YA publishing. That means book tours, parties with her favorite authors, and finding means sleepless nights rewriting her first draft and struggling to find the perfect ending… all while dealing with the intoxicating, terrifying experience of falling in love – with another writer.               “Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, the thrilling story of Lizzie, who wills her way into the afterworld to survive a deadly terrorist attack. With survival comes the responsibility to guide the ghost with whom she shares a surprising personal connection. But Lizzie’s not alone in her new calling – she has counsel from a fellow spirit guide, a very desirable one, who is torn between wanting Lizzie and warning her that… BELIEVING IS DANGEROUS.”

Review: I enjoyed reading Afterworlds. What Westerfeld has done with this novel is awesome. I loved reading about Lizzie’s life and her struggle to adapt to life as a published author and life as an adult, alternating chapters with her first novel. When I first started reading I wasn’t sure I was going to like the alternating chapters, but as I got further into the story I began to enjoy it more and more as I followed Lizzie’s struggle with copyedits, and then read the sections of her novel with which she had been having such issues. I enjoyed the meta aspect of reading a novel that contains a character writing a novel and the novel as it’s being written.
      I recommend Afterworlds for fans of YA and fans of paranormal genre fiction.

Publisher: Simon Pulse

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle (read BookGirlR’s review here)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Guild Assassin - Review

Title: Guild Assassin
Author:  Berley Kerr
Series:   Curse Breaker #1

Synopsis:  “Wendy Magdalena Braca lived in a Victorian mansion under three moons in Jupiter City. But her privileged upbringing falters when after the death of her father and the murder of her mother, she is shipped away to Greenleaf Asylum for Troubled Girls and lived there for years until she is “rescued” by a strange guild that shows Wendy their world; the world of Guild Assassins made up of the Cæcus (normal humans), the Validus (magic-users), and Half-Breeds (demi-gods). In this world, Wendy discovers she is the most special and powerful Validus known to exist, the Curse Breaker.”

Review:  This novel lacked depth.  I couldn’t even force myself to finish it.  I try to finish every novel that I start to read, especially if I am going to be reviewing it.  However in extreme circumstances, if I have reached the halfway mark and find myself wondering why I am torturing myself, I’m allowed to stop.  The premise of this novel sounds great.  I read the synopsis and was excited to begin reading.  Two pages in I knew I had made a mistake.  Guild Assassin reads as if it is a rough draft.  It is written almost entirely in passive voice and there is no depth to it at all.  The characters are one-dimensional, and I developed no feelings for them.  I could care less what was happening to Wendy.  The ideas behind the poor writing have great potential.  With some major editing this could be a wonderful novel.

**I was provided a free copy of this novel by Curiosity Quills Press via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

Publisher:   Curiosity Quills Press
If you’re looking for good steampunk skip this one and try these instead:

Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine  (read BookGirlR’s review here)

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt  (read BookGirlR’s review here)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Accession - Review

Title: Accession
Author: Terah Edun
Series: Serath Web #1

Synopsis: “Sixteen-year-old Katherine Thompson wasn’t trained to rule a coven. That was her sister – perfect, beautiful Rose. But when a mysterious plane crash kills off the heir presumptive of the Sandersville coven she has no choice.
 “After stepping in to fill her sister’s shoes, Katherine realizes she didn’t have a clue – faery wars, depressed trolls and angry unicorns are just the beginning.
 “For centuries, her family has served the high Queens on both sides of the Atlantic but it is a well-known rule that mid-level witches stay away from high-level Queens.
 “But when Katherine’s youngest cousin vanishes without a trace in the Atlanta court and no one wants to investigate, Katherine decides to step into the darkness on her own. She will soon discover that nothing, especially in a queen's court, is as it seems.”

Review: I have no idea how I managed to read this whole novel. Was it strength of will? Was it great determination? Or was I punishing myself for something? I really have no idea. When you learn to write creative pieces in grade school you are taught to show, not tell. Based on this novel I would say that perhaps the author was absent the days they went over that in class. This novel could have used an editor or two, it's full of mistakes. For example: “Katherine narrowed her eyes. She didn’t want to debate lineage with her mother now. Although she was very much aware that the queen’s mother and her sister’s mother were different individuals. It was why the younger sister was Queen of Sandersville and the older one was not.” (ch. 25 Loc. 2907) There is so much wrong here. It’s all telling, no showing. This is an info dump (a lot of info crammed into a short narration), and there is a sentence fragment in there. The line that starts with although needs more. Although they were different individuals they had a lot in common? Although they were different individuals they were still very much the same? Although they were different individuals what? Finish the thought please! The entire novel is full of mistakes like this and then it doesn’t end. That’s right; the novel just abruptly cuts off. Each novel in a series should have its own plot that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even if there is a larger storyline that continues into the next novel the current one must have some sort of fulfillment or your reader will feel cheated and be ticked off. Accession does not have a plot that ends (I really had trouble finding any type of plot at all). There is no ending.  And as a reader I do feel cheated and ticked off. At this point I don’t really care, but I would like to ask the author what exactly the plot was because I couldn’t find it. Don’t read this one, you’ll regret it like I do.
 **I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley.**

Publisher: All Night Reads

Skip this book and try one of these instead:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

Monday, January 26, 2015

Catching Up


          So as many of my readers have noticed things have been kind of quiet around here for several months. I've been struggling with some mild depression and anxiety. At first I was embarrassed and I didn't want to admit it to anyone but my hubby and my closest friends. But then it got to the point where others started noticing. I've been hibernating (more than usual) and even the things I usually enjoy doing weren't bringing me any pleasure or joy. I've done a lot of reading (although not as much as normal) but when it came to actually writing the reviews I just couldn't summon the energy. 
           Then, 10 days ago, my Grandma passed away. She was a wonderful woman. The strongest woman I knew. She lived with us when I was growing up. She was there when I got off the bus from school. She helped us with our homework and our music practice. When my sister and I started being homeschooled she was the one who was home with us every day. She never said no when someone else needed something. She was always willing to give us a ride to the library, or to play cards for hours. She took us camping every summer. She was always there, and now she's not. After receiving the call that she was gone I sobbed. I bawled like a baby for more than an hour. I cried until I just couldn't cry anymore. And it wasn't all for her. Some of it was for me. Finally, the sadness that I had been feeling inside had an outlet. There was a viable reason for the release of my pain. And now I feel better. At first I thought I was a horrible person. My Grandmother dies and I feel better? But she knew how I had been feeling. She was one of the people that it was always safe to talk to. And she wouldn't want me to be depressed. She would be glad that her passing helped me to deal with my depression. 
           Don't get me wrong. I'm still sad. I'm sad that she isn't here anymore. I'm sad that when I go home to visit my Mom and Stepfather she won't be there with a smile and a cup of coffee. But I laugh, and I smile and I am finding pleasure in my favorite things again.  I'm not depressed. And that would make her happy. But now I have a lot of catching up to do. I'm trying to read more, I'm trying to write up my HUGE backlog of reviews, and I'm trying to do what's best for me. Because I can't be happy if I'm not taking care of myself. 
           Thank you to those of you who have gotten in touch with me to make sure that I'm okay. I am now.

Beauty's Beast - Review

Title: Beauty’s Beast
Author: Amanda Ashley

Synopsis: “Beauty:
           “Fair of face and figure, Kristine is young, innocent, pure. Yet she has been condemned to the gallows for killing a man. The only one who can save her is a lord so infamous that some say he is the son of the Devil himself…
           “And the Beast:
         “Erik Trevayne is called the Demon Lord of Hawksbridge Castle, but few know of the curse he lives under. Or the terrifying changes slowly gnawing away at his humanity. When he weds her, all he wants of Kristine is a son. But when he beds her, a wild hope is born – that love that can tame even the most monstrous of beasts…

Review: Beauty’s Beast started out great. I loved getting to know Kristine and I really felt for her when they were preparing to execute her. Then there’s a last minute rescue and it’s all downhill from there. Erik is selfish and condescending; I have no idea why Kristine falls in love with him. And there's the sex.  He practically rapes her and the language used to describe the act itself is old fashioned, archaic and clunky.  Kristine is a weak simpering woman until the very end of the story when she suddenly grows a backbone made of steel, which is not very convincing. And the ending is rushed. It’s as if author Ashley suddenly realized she had reached her word count and decided to end the novel in 2 paragraphs, which left me feeling empty and cheated. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
 **I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley.**

Publisher: Kensington/ Zebra

Skip this book and try these instead:

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Master of Shadows by Janet Lorimer