Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blood Magic - Review

Title: Blood Magic
Author: Tessa Gratton

Synopsis: “It starts off simply. Draw a circle… place a dead leaf in the center… sprinkle some salt… recite a little Latin… add a drop of blood…
“Maybe that last part isn’t exactly simple. Yet somehow if feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents’ horrific deaths. She’s willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family- even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep… and spill some blood.
“The book isn’t the only recent arrival in Silla’s life. There’s Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She’s not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes that this may not be Nick’s first encounter with blood magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can’t deny the dark presence lurking nearby – waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.”

Review: I have mixed feelings about Blood Magic. First, I thought that part of it was predictable. About halfway through the novel I had figured out who the “bad guy” was and I could easily tell who Gratton wanted us to think the “bad guy” was. Nick’s issues with his new stepmother were highly cliché and therefore, boring. Also, Silla’s interest in Nick felt rather forced. Both of her parents have just died, her life is in an upheaval. I need a stronger reason for their relationship than “OMG He saw me do magic and he’s really hot” for this to be believable. My last complaint, and this is a purely personal complaint, is that the sections that were letters from Silla’s Dad are in a font that is supposed to look more like true handwriting and these were really hard to read. I ended up with a wicked headache even though I was wearing my reading glasses.
Thus said, even though it was kind of predictable and I kept telling myself: “You know what’s going on and who did it. Why don’t you go watch some tv instead?” I read Blood Magic in two sittings and had trouble putting it down. It took me little while to figure out why. But I had an epiphany while I was eating breakfast this morning (a cheddar and broccoli omelet with whole wheat toast and coffee); it was probably an effect of the coffee waking up my brain. So here it is. I really liked the story. I love the idea of magic being something in the blood of a person. And I couldn’t figure out everything. The story about who Silla’s Dad really was caught me by surprise, and Silla’s use of imaginary masks to hide behind amused me. . Even though parts of it were predictable, and I got a headache from the silly handwriting font, I found the story engrossing and enjoyable.

Publisher: Random House

If you like this book you may want to read:

Other by Karen Kincy (ISBN: 978-0738719191)Read my review here.

Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan (ISBN: 978-0142409862)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hounded - Review

Title: Hounded
Author: Kevin Hearne
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #01

Synopsis: “Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old – when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
“Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power – plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish – to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.”

Review: This was an enjoyable read. Atticus is smart, sweet, sarcastic and sexy. I want his dog Oberon, who is a simple and loyal friend. In Hounded Atticus uses his wits and his charming personality to defeat a powerful enemy, proving that it’s not always greater strength that prevails. I loved the fact that Atticus owned his own shop. I dream of owning my own store someday and I enjoy reading about characters who own their own small shops. I kept wishing that Hearne would tell us more about Third Eye Books and Herbs because I thought it was fascinating!
I was slightly disappointed with Hounded, but only because this book reminded me a lot of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. That was a good thing and a bad thing. I love the Dresden Files, but when you read as much as I do you’re always on the lookout for something different. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about a smart and sexy hero and loves being drawn into the lives of characters in a witty and well-written novel.

Publisher: Del Rey
ISBN: 978-0345522474

If you like this book you may want to read:

Storm Front by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files book #01 – ISBN: 978-0451457813)

Hexed by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid book #02 – ISBN: 978-0345522498)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mechanique - Review

Title: Mechanique
Author: Genevieve Valentine
Series: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti

Synopsis: “Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic.
“That magic is no accident: Boss builds her circus from the bones out, molding a mechanical company that will survive the unforgiving landscape.
“But even a careful ringmaster can make mistakes.
“Two of Tresaulti’s performers are trapped in a secret stand-off that threatens to tear the Circus apart, just as the war lands on their doorstep. Now they must fight a war on two fronts: one from the outside, and a more dangerous one from within…”

Review: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I’ll admit it, I bought Mechanique because the cover and the title intrigued me and I had a 30% off coupon for Borders. After getting it home I assumed, after briefly skimming the synopsis on the back cover, that Mechanique was going to be a steampunk novel about a travelling circus. Boy was I wrong! I guess I should have read the synopsis a bit closer. I started the book at 530pm, after I got home from work. I had assumed that it would be easy to put it down to make dinner and go to bed early since I had to be up early the next day. No. Everyone has been told by a teacher at some point in their life to never assume. This is what that teacher was taking about. I ended up ordering pizza for dinner and staying up until after midnight because I could not put this book down.
This story about a dystopian world in which magic and the mechanical seem to coexist fascinated me. At first Valentine’s writing grated on my nerves. The tenses were constantly changing and every page had approximately three parenthetical statements. However after the first few chapters I realized that it seemed as if these “flaws” were intended to throw the reader for a loop, quite like a real circus. Valentine is a ringmaster and this novel is her circus.
Don’t make the mistake of believing this to be a steampunk novel about a circus. It’s so much more.
Trying to stay away from spoilers I believe I can say that Boss fixes people that are broken. She changes them into something else, something more or less than human. In a world surrounded by war she creates her own community, her own army, of misfits. Her characters become real people that I felt for. Valentine has created a world that sucks you in and refuses to let you go.

Publisher: Prime Books
ISBN: 978-1607012535

If you like this book you may want to read:

Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt (ISBN: 978-0061054273)

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (ISBN: 978-1597801584)

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt (ISBN: 978-0765360229) See my review of this novel here.