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 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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Doomsday Book - Review

Title: Doomsday Book
Author: Connie Willis

Synopsis: “In the year 2054, students research the past by living in it. So when Kivrin Engle, a history student at Oxford, enters Brasenose College's time machine for transport back to 1320s England, no one anticipates any problems. “But her two-week project takes a frightening turn. A mutant virus has been spreading through Oxford, and Kivrin arrives in the past delirious with fever. She is found and taken to a manor house, and when she recovers, she can no longer locate the time machine rendezvous point. “As Kivrin struggles to adjust to a past that's not quite what she expected, a past where the Black Death is beginning to ravage a mystified, terrified population. With the only people who know where she's gone seriously ill themselves, will Kivrin ever find her way back to the future? Or has she become a permanent exile in a deadly time?”

Review: A stranger approached me in Barnes & Noble while I was book shopping a couple of months ago. We started talking about the book I was holding, and then we started talking about what we both liked to read. We both like strong female characters. She said that she had recently discovered an author named Connie Willis and binge read everything that she had written and wished that there was more. So I wandered in that direction and looked at the Connie Willis books Barnes & Noble had in stock. They had Blackout, All Clear and Doomsday Book. Blackout and All Clear are a series. I had so many books already in my TBR pile that I didn’t want to try a new author by starting a series at that time. So I picked up Doomsday Book; and then there it sat in my TBR pile (which actually could take up an entire bookcase if you included all the ebooks I had piling up at that time). I actually forgot about it sitting there until about a month ago, during the stress of the holidays I was looking for something different to take my mind off of the stress. I saw Doomsday Book sitting there and remembered my conversation with the woman in Barnes & Noble. “It’s time travel” she had said “and the history is very well researched”. Good time travel novels are hard to find. I picked up Doomsday Book with some trepidation.
      Unfortunately it was a weeknight. I couldn’t stay up all night to finish. I read it in two nights and was a zombie at work for two days because I stayed up too late. I had trouble putting it down. Historians using time travel as a means of research is a fascinating idea. In Doomsday Book historians become adventurous heroes and survivors. History becomes real as Kivrin struggles to survive so far away from home.
      I loved this book so much that for two days I talked about nothing else. I talked about Doomsday Book at work and at home nonstop. And then, when I finished it, I stopped talking about it because I was sad it was over. I now also own Blackout and All Clear. Even if you aren’t a fan of time travel you will love Doomsday Book. The writing of Connie Willis is wonderfully complex and the story will draw you in and refuse to let you go. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.

 Publisher: Bantam/ Spectra
If you like this book you may want to read:

 Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis

 Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dream London - Review

 Title: Dream London 
Author: Tony Ballantyne 

Synopsis: “Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage. He’s adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He’s the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world. 
      “But in Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. The towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the East End and a path spiraling down to another world. 
      “Everyone is changing, no one is who they seem to be.” 

Review: Dream London is truly a fantastic read! Ballantyne’s writing is superb. The main character of James Wedderburn is a very good example of the antihero, you aren’t supposed to like him and you won’t. But who he is has been molded by Dream London, just like it’s changed everyone else, it’s not who he really is so you feel sorry for him and find yourself cheering for him when he fights back. Even the minor characters are intriguing and well thought out. Ballantyne has even turned London itself into a character is this imaginative novel. 
      I highly recommend Dream London for anyone looking for an urban fantasy novel with a much different plot from the “normal” urban fantasy novels that are flooding the shelves (No sparkling vampires or sex addict werewolves here). I look forward to reading more of Tony Ballantyne’s work. 

Publisher: Solaris Books 

If you like this book you may want to read: 

 Midnight Riot (Rivers of London #1) by Ben Aaronovitch (see BookGirlR’s review here

 Sixty-One Nails (Courts of the Feyre #1) by Mike Shevdon

It's Not Different, Except It Is

BookGirlR & SuperSteve 9-20-2014
Photo: Daniel Fischer Photography

     Married life isn’t really all that different from unmarried life, except that it is. I married SuperSteve on September 20th. It was a fantastic, small, outdoors Browncoat wedding. With some other nerd fandoms being represented because we are both total nerds.

Yes, we were married by Captain Malcolm Reynolds
BookGirlR & SuperSteve

BookGirlR & SuperSteve

Badger and River were also in attendance.

    After the wedding, and the reception the next day, we were exhausted. Life didn’t seem to go back to normal as we expected it to. The whole summer seemed to build up to this one fantastic weekend, and honestly I was just ready for it to be over. Then suddenly it was over and we could go back to normal, except we couldn’t seem to remember what normal was.
      What did we used to do in the evenings before wedding planning took over our lives? And of course October is a big month for us, we both love fall and Halloween.
BookGirlR & SuperSteve Halloween 2014
Photo: Saurian Arts

     Nothing seemed to get done. We worked. We came home. We lay on the couch and ate junk food. On the weekends we did fun Halloween and fall related activities with friends and family. What happened to the hobbies we used to enjoy before wedding planning? I only read one book in September and three books in October, and I didn’t blog about any of them, and I’ve barely written anything at all. I can’t remember the last full meal I cooked; we’ve been eating a ton of junk food. We didn’t do any fall hiking. SuperSteve hasn’t sat down with a sketch pad and a pencil in months. Married life isn’t really all that different from unmarried life. We were already living together. We were already sharing the responsibility for the bills, and the groceries, and the cooking and the cleaning (he doesn’t cook and I hate to clean). He still squeezes the toothpaste tube from the middle and snores. I’m still an antisocial hermit and a slob. But it is different.
      People kept telling us that, even though we were already living together, marriage would be different. We scoffed at them. It’s not going to be different! But secretly, we wondered if they were right. Marriage is hard, they kept telling us. Why is it any different we wondered? And now we are having trouble settling into married life. It’s almost like the expectation is that it is supposed to be different (aren’t we supposed to spend every free minute together and do everything together?) But it isn’t differnt (we are still individuals with different hobbies and responsibilities). It’s the same and we’re just having trouble settling back into a routine.
      We will get there. We’ve decided to ignore anyone else’s expectations of what a happy married couple should be like and go with what makes us happy. I’m trying to cook more and get back into my reading and writing. SuperSteve is trying to get back into a regular cleaning schedule and draw and read more. We’re eating less junk food and sitting down at the table, with the television off, for dinner as often as possible (3 nights a week minimum). We are accepting that we don’t have to spend every minute together. It’s okay to do things separately and indulge in our individual hobbies. We have decided that married life isn’t all that different from unmarried life, unless you give in to the expectation that it is.