Archive for Book Review

Book Review: Enshadowed

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Enshadowed Cover

Title: Enshadowed (Nevermore #2)

Author: Kelly Creagh

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Varen Nethers is trapped in a perilous dream world — a treacherous and desolate realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel Lanley, plagued by strange visions and haunted by the nightmares of Varen’s creation, is the only one who can save him.
Isobel knows that her only hope lies within a Baltimore cemetery. There, in the early morning hours of Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, a mysterious stranger known as the “Poe Toaster” will make his annual homage at the legendary poet’s grave.
Only the Poe Toaster holds the key to the way between worlds. But even greater dangers lie ahead for Isobel. An ancient evil, draped in veils of white, is watching, challenging her for Varen’s affections. When Isobel finally finds Varen, he is no longer the quiet and brooding boy who once captivated her, but a dark force, powerful and malevolent.

My Review
(Warning: Contains spoilers for book 1)

I… I don’t… WHAT???!

OK *takes deep breath* So, I just finished it. *screams and flails* I’m going back and forth between “I loved it” and “I don’t get it,” but I think that’s what I’m supposed to do. Right? Read more »

Book Review: Glitch

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Glitch Cover

Title: Glitch (Glitch #1)

Author: Heather Anastasiu

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

My Review

Glitch was a bit of an oddball read for me. I picked it up on a “bad day” bookstore run, knowing I’d want to read it eventually, but I didn’t really intend to pick it up that soon. Honestly, it souned a little like something I thought I’d read before, so I was a little leery of it.

While Glitch did indeed remind me of another book Read more »

Book Review: Carnival of Souls

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Carnival of Souls Cover

Title: Carnival of Souls (Series name unlisted #1)

Author: Melissa Marr

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures–if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father–and every other witch there–fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it’s only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

My Review

I’m having a really hard time articulating what I thought about this book. On the one hand, there was a great diversity of characters and a fun setting. On the other, that ending? Awful!

Read more »

Book Review: Until I Die

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Until I Die Cover

Title: Until I Die (Revenants #2)

Author: Amy Plum

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.

As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy.

My Review

I am so glad I won the first book in this series from Julie as a part of a package. I probably never would have tried it otherwise since they classify it as a “zombie” book. In my opinion it is SO not – it’s the shambling brain-eating zombies that I don’t like!

I still really loved the setting. It probably helps that I’ve been to Paris, so I actually have mental pictures to go with her descriptions. My favorite was the scene and descriptions of the Père Lachaise cemetery. It’s a beautiful cemetery in the first place, a wonderful inspiration for writing. Even though I was in Paris in the spring and the weather was beautifully sunny, I could vividly imagine the Héloise et Abélard monument in the bleak miserably rainy January she describes. It’s just such gorgeous imagery. Read more »

Book Review: The False Prince

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The False Prince Cover

Title: The False Prince (Ascendance #1)

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

My Review

GAH! THIS BOOK! Soooooooooooo good!!!

Read more »

Book Review: The Iron Druid Chronicles

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Hexed Cover

Title: Hounded, Hexed, and Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles #’s 1-3)

Author: Kevin Hearne

Summary: [from GoodReads (book 1)]

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.

My Review

Hounded, the first of the Iron Druid Chronicles, was my very first full length new audiobook. I honestly expected to be unable to pay attention enough to form an opinion. Instead I found myself really into the story, trying very hard to not to laugh out loud while I listened at work!

My favorite character, by far, was Oberon, Atticus’s Irish Wolfhound. His commentary was hilarious, so blunt and honest and so very doglike! It’s also worth mentioning that Luke Daniels, the narrator, did a fantastic job with creating voices for all the characters. I never had to wonder who was speaking when there weren’t speech tags – I’m amazed that one person could do that many different voices!

As soon as I finished Hounded Read more »

Book Review: The Marbury Lens

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The Marbury Lens Cover Title: The Marbury Lens (Marbury Lens #1)

Author: Andrew Smith

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.

There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them.

Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.

Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.

But it’s not.

My Review

What an odd little book.The Marbury Lens strikes me as one that would have a cult-like following, and either you love it or you don’t really like it. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter category.

One of the things I really did appreciate about it was the unusual mixture of genres. Half the time it read as a contemporary, while the other half was pure fantasy/dystopia. The juxtaposition made for a fascinating character study. Jack is so incredibly damaged in the real world that it’s never quite clear whether Marbury is real or his own subconscious coping mechanism. In a way, you get the sense of two novels being told, nested together like the matryoshka metaphor that comes up every so often. This meta level alone makes the book seem like it would be a great book to study in a class.

Unfortunately, the fantasy reader in me was incredibly frustrated by the end of the book. The Marbury Lens sets up this beautiful bleak place for Jack to travel to. It is complete with horrifying dangers and terrible yet great adventures. And it is never explained. There are passing references to a recent war that made the world what it is, and it is clear that the worlds are interdependent because everyone has a counterpart in both worlds. THAT’S IT. Now, I will grant that it is entirely plausible for the characters not to know. But as a reader I feel gipped. I don’t understand this world at all, and therefore don’t understand the importance of the world, symbolically.

I am honestly so conflicted about this book that I’m not even sure whether I liked it. There were things I liked about it, and there were things I didn’t like. I want to read more to find the explanation I’m looking for, but do I really want to put myself through that if it doesn’t deliver? I really don’t know. Bottom line: Proceed with care!

Book Review: Dearly, Departed

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Dearly, Departed Cover

Title: Dearly, Departed (Gone with Respiration #1)

Author: Lia Habel

Summary: [from GoodReads]

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

My Review

Dearly, Departed was a really interesting experience for me. For one thing, I don’t generally like zombies and this book has them in hordes! I knew that going in, but enough people told me that the zombies (mostly) didn’t act like zombies that I very tentatively picked it up (metaphorically with two fingers and held at arms length!)

The zombies honestly didn’t bother me too much, and I was very surprised by that! The bad zombies were the kind I abhor, but they were kept enough at a distance that I was able to just treat them as a general threat instead. The thing that did bug me? The multiple narrators, which normally I have no problem with! In this case, there were enough different narrators that I had trouble keeping them straight. Even though each chapter was headed with a name, I often forgot to look, or forgot what it had said by the time I was a few pages in. This was especially true as I got toward the end and started getting into it, and that’s where they switched points of view the most!

On the other hand, I absolutely loved the New Victorian setting. It was sort of cyber-steampunk – SO COOL! I would love to see more books in that type of setting, because there’s just so much that could be explored!

In the end, I’m still kind of on the fence about this one. I wanted to hate it because there were Zombies, but I didn’t. I wanted to love it because the setting is SO COOL but I didn’t quite. And I still don’t know if I’ll pick up the next book or not.

Book Review: Seraphina

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Seraphina Cover

Title: Seraphina (Seraphina #1)

Author: Rachel Hartman

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

My Review

Honestly, between dragons, epic fantasy and court intrigues, if I hadn’t like this book I would have been a little worried there was something wrong with me! But it most definitely lived up to and even exceeded my expectations!

I’ve lamented many times that there are so few dragons in fantasy right now, but the truth is they’re pretty difficult to write. They serve pretty well as a distant villain, since there’s all these stories of sacrificing maidens. But at the same time, dragons are famously sentient. Ms. Hartman does a good job of incorporating both sides of dragon nature. By making Seraphina only half dragon, she also makes the dragons much more relatable. It’s one of those ideas that is incredibly unique and yet so obvious I wonder why no one has ever tried it before.

The other thing I loved about this one was the vibrant writing style – I really did feel like I was watching a movie instead of reading. I loved that Seraphina was a musician, and the descriptions of her music really brought it to life for me. I was able to vividly imagine the city and all the different types of dragons and half-dragons. I especially loved the little trinkets the lesser dragons made (I don’t remember what they were called, sorry!).

And, of course, then there’s Lucien Kiggs. He is one of my favorite love interests that I’ve ever read. He is complex – compassionate but strictly responsible. He has a lot less prejudice than the rest of the characters (or at least it seems like he does). He’s happy to work with Seraphina until he finds out she lied to him, and he admires and respects her without seeming chauvinistically surprised about it.

I can unreservedly say that this book has only my highest recommendation – easily one of the top 10 books I’ve read this year!

Book Review: Storm

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Storm Cover

Title: Storm (Elemental #1)

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Summary: [from GoodReads]

 Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys; all the ones she doesn’t want, ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming

My Review

This book (along with a few others – Obsidian comes to mind) seemed to be THE book of the summer this year. While I probably would have read it eventually anyway – who doesn’t like a good elemental story? – that certainly bumped it up my list a few notches.

There were a few things I really loved about this one. The premise is kind of Tamora Pierce meets YA paranormal and I kind of liked that. Elementals are a rather unused and under-explored type of magic user and I love them all the more for that.

I also really enjoyed Becca’s balance. She’s caring and sentimental but is also a little bit badass. She’s hurting from her past but eventually she finds the courage to face up to it and move on. She was almost too balanced to be realistic, but she’s so nice that you like her anyway.

Despite its many good points there were still a few things that bugged me. For one, the love triangle felt a little contrived. I was never really convinced that Becca really liked either of the boys. I got the feeling that while she enjoyed the attention, she was more just along for the ride, and I half expected her to dump both of them and go after someone completely different.

I have to say, I think I’ve read to many YA paranormal romances recently, because I saw the big surprising twist ending coming from a mile away. As much as I love trying to figure out what is going to happen as I read, I’m sometimes a little disappointed at how often I’m right.

Overall I would say this is a fun (if thick) read. I will definitely be looking out for the next book – I’m curious to see how a change in narrator will affect the tone of the story.

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