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Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 06-11-2017

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A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings, #1)A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

This book rep­re­sents a major change from the Iron Druid series, so I worked hard to set aside my expec­ta­tions of Hearne based on lov­ing those. A Plague of Giants is every bit as well-writ­ten as that series, maybe even bet­ter! Still, I didn’t come away tru­ly car­ing about the char­ac­ters. That could have some­thing to do with the way the sto­ry is pre­sent­ed, but I can’t be sure about it.

The book just ends, very abrupt­ly, with the nota­tion, “Con­tin­ued in vol­ume two, A Blight of Black­wings.” That put me off some­what. I like read­ing series, but with each vol­ume I want a large­ly self-con­tained sto­ry, one with a begin­ning, mid­dle, and end­ing. I under­stand leav­ing some plot threads unre­solved, so as to build inter­est for the next book, but there’s just too much left unre­solved here. Will I read Blight when it’s released? Maybe — but I’m unlike­ly to rush right out and buy it.

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Review: Attack the Geek by Michael R. Underwood

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 24-03-2014

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Attack the Geek (Ree Reyes, #2.5)Attack the Geek by Michael R. Under­wood
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Excuse me, but SQUEE! More Ree Reyes! More Drake! More East­wood and Grog­nard! Yes, more Geeko­man­cy!

Michael Under­wood is back with a delight­ful novel­la and if I have ANY com­plaints, it’s that this is a novel­la instead of a nov­el. That’s just because I am a greedy fan­girl read­er. The sto­ry itself is ful­ly devel­oped, and the novel­la is exact­ly the right for­mat for it.

Attack the Geek def­i­nite­ly isn’t the place to start in the series, as it relies on pre­vi­ous knowl­edge of the char­ac­ters and the uni­verse, but if you’ve read the pre­vi­ous nov­els, you will NOT want to miss this install­ment when it is released on April 9.

Now I’m left hun­gry for Ree Reyes #3, though!

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Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 13-09-2012

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Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World, #1)Gun­metal Mag­ic by Ilona Andrews
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I’m fair­ly sure that I missed a Kate Daniels book, because I don’t recall some of the events referred to in this book. That annoys me, and I’ll have to go back and read what­ev­er the last one was out of order now. It’ll be worth it, though, because Ilona Andrews’ writ­ing is always fun. Gun­metal Mag­ic is no excep­tion.

This is the first nov­el to focus on Andrea Nash, Kate Daniels’ best friend. Exposed as a shapeshifter, she’s been kicked out of the Order. She had just cho­sen to obey orders from a supe­ri­or offi­cer instead of fight­ing with the Pack, which led to a breakup with her lover Raphael. Now she has to rebuild her life from a shat­tered ruin.

Andrea is a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter, abused repeat­ed­ly in her ter­ri­ble child­hood and raised to be ashamed of and hide her shapeshift­ing nature. Her rela­tion­ship with Raphael is informed by their bou­da nature, but her human side isn’t left out by any means.

I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoy the part that Atlanta plays in Andrews’ books, but as a near-native Atlanta I’m bound to be biased in that respect.

This vol­ume and the bonus novel­la “Mag­ic Gifts” are def­i­nite­ly worth­while read­ing for any fan of the Kate Daniels series.

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Book Review: Enthralled edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 13-08-2012

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EnthralledEnthralled by Melis­sa Marr
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

Jour­neys, lit­er­al or oth­er­wise, are the theme of this young adult anthol­o­gy. Appro­pri­ate­ly enough, it was con­ceived as the result of a book tour.

“Giovanni’s Farewell” by Clau­dia Gray is a sweet, com­ing-of-age sto­ry of sorts. The twist is that it fea­tures a broth­er and sis­ter, twins, rather than just one per­son. They vis­it Rome with a school group while deal­ing with major changes in their lives. There was too much back­ground crammed into a short sto­ry, but it was inter­est­ing.

Car­rie Ryan’s “Scenic Route” is a dis­turb­ing, post-apoc­a­lyp­tic sto­ry set in the world of The For­est of Hands and Teeth about two young sis­ters try­ing to sur­vive in an iso­lat­ed cab­in. The old­er sis­ter keeps the younger one occu­pied with the plan­ning of a road trip that will nev­er hap­pen, always hop­ing against hope that the girl won’t real­ize what their real­i­ty is. How long can they stay iso­lat­ed enough to sur­vive? Bloody, fright­en­ing, and vis­cer­al.

“Red Run” by Kami Gar­cia is the sto­ry of a girl who has lost the only per­son she loves in the world, and the trip she takes to avenge his death. How do you hunt a ghost? Maybe it isn’t fair, com­ing right after Ryan’s sto­ry, but I didn’t tru­ly feel the main character’s feel­ings.

Jack­son Pearce’s “Things About Love” is a sweet sto­ry involv­ing a jinn research­ing love. I felt like I’d come into the mid­dle of some­thing, so I checked and found that she’s writ­ten a nov­el, As You Wish, in the same set­ting. While this sto­ry tech­ni­cal­ly stands on its own, it would prob­a­bly be enriched by hav­ing read As You Wish.

“Nieder­wald” by Rachel Vin­cent is the first sto­ry I’ve read in her Soul Scream­ers series. Sabine, a macha (night­mare), takes a road trip with a human acquain­tance and detours to Nieder­wald, Texas, home to the harpies. No, there’s no way that could go wrong. Of course you know from the moment they hit the park­ing lot that it will go wrong, but at least it’s an inter­est­ing sort of wrong.

Melis­sa Marr’s “Mere­ly Mor­tal” feels as though it’s prob­a­bly set in the same world as her Wicked Love­ly series.

“Fac­ing Facts” by Kel­ley Arm­strong is set in her Dark­est Pow­ers uni­verse. I read the first of those books, but obvi­ous­ly a lot has passed since then, and there were spoil­ers in this sto­ry. It real­ly cen­ters around Chloe and Tori, with a lit­tle Derek tossed in. Tori learns some­thing she doesn’t want to know and reacts bad­ly, run­ning off on her own, which is dan­ger­ous. Chloe goes after her and they get into trou­ble. That seemed rather pre­dictable to me, but at least the type of trou­ble wasn’t what I expect­ed. Tori doesn’t seem to have changed since the first book, but Chloe is com­ing into con­trol of her abil­i­ties.

Sarah Rees Bren­nan’s “Let’s Get this Undead Show on the Road” is about a boy band that fea­tures a vam­pire, Chris­t­ian. He’s an unusu­al vam­pire, all alone with­out a nest or a sire. His jour­ney seems to be about his iden­ti­ty as a vam­pire, although the band is on tour and has anoth­er sort of jour­ney to make, as well.

“Bridge” by Jeri Smith-Ready is told from a ghost’s point of view, 233 days after death. It’s frus­trat­ing being a ghost, because most peo­ple can’t see or hear you. There are things you have to accom­plish before mov­ing on, though, that require com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the liv­ing. Find­ing a “bridge” and work­ing things out takes a lot of effort. This was a touch­ing sto­ry, bit­ter­sweet and well-told.

Kim­ber­ly Dert­ing’s “Skin Con­tact” near­ly broke me. Rafe is look­ing for his girl­friend. He knows where he needs to go, and he’s guid­ed by dreams. This sto­ry near­ly broke me. It’s told spar­ing­ly, and some­thing feels per­fect­ly right about it, but it hurts. Accord­ing to her author biog­ra­phy, Rafe was intro­duced in her nov­el Desires of the Dead.

“Leav­ing” by Ally Condie is a very lit­er­ary sto­ry, about a girl left behind after her moth­er dies and her father leaves. She spends the sto­ry prepar­ing to go after her father. It’s hard to describe much more than that, or to have much of an opin­ion. It was well-writ­ten and I think I’ll prob­a­bly remem­ber it for a long time.

Jes­si­ca Ver­day’s “At The Late Night, Dou­ble Fea­ture, Pic­ture Show” is a dark­ly fun­ny sto­ry about a girl from a fam­i­ly of mon­ster hunters. She’s usu­al­ly the bait, but tonight she has decid­ed to be the hunter — with­out back­up. I’d like to read more from Ver­day.

“IV League” by Mar­garet Stohl just didn’t hit me right. It’s the sto­ry of a bunch of south­ern vam­pires on a col­lege tour, which could have been fun­ny but wasn’t writ­ten that way. The whole thing just didn’t sit well with me, per­haps because the main char­ac­ter seemed too unre­al­is­ti­cal­ly out of touch for some­one who obvi­ous­ly had access to tele­vi­sion and the inter­net.

Mary E. Pear­son’s “Gar­gouille” is the most touch­ing love sto­ry in the col­lec­tion. Just read it.

“The Third Kind” by Jen­nifer Lynn Barnes is, on the sur­face, about a road trip to San Anto­nio. The real jour­ney is much deep­er, one of com­ing to under­stand­ing one’s call­ing.

Rachel Caine’s Mor­ganville is the set­ting for her “Auto­mat­ic.” I think I’ve read a Mor­ganville novel­la, but my mem­o­ry of it is dim. The Mor­ganville Blood Bank intro­duces an auto­mat­ed with­draw­al machine, essen­tial­ly a soda can dis­penser. Michael Glass is ordered to try it first, as a demon­stra­tion for the old­er, more tra­di­tion­al vam­pires, with unex­pect­ed results. His jour­ney is one of self-knowl­edge. I didn’t real­ly care much about him, his jour­ney, his girl­friend, or any­thing else. The set­ting and char­ac­ters do noth­ing for me, but your mileage may vary.

Alto­geth­er, the anthol­o­gy was worth read­ing. There were some low spots, but that’s true of any col­lec­tion. To be fair, I’m sure some­one who is more enthu­si­as­tic about young adult fic­tion would also be more enthu­si­as­tic about the works here.

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Review: Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 11-08-2012

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Hunt the Moon (Cassandra Palmer, #5)Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

Chance must have thought read­ers were bored with the Cassandra/​Mircea match, because much of this book is spent with Cassie falling for Pritkin with­out real­ly being aware that she’s get­ting into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry.

Palmer isn’t one of my favorite char­ac­ters. She isn’t an ass-kick­er, but she’s prob­a­bly some­what more real­is­tic than most para­nor­mal hero­ines for that fact. She’s com­ing into her own by stand­ing up to Mircea more in this vol­ume, but she does it in child­ish ways. I find her annoy­ing par­tial­ly because I’d hate to try pro­tect­ing her from her­self, much less any­one else.

I don’t hon­est­ly under­stand why Mircea and Pritkin are attract­ed to her, either, but part of the romance for­mu­la is the hero­ine has to be irre­sistible to at least one, prefer­ably more than one man. I do find Mircea and Pritkin inter­est­ing (they just have bad taste in women), so they and the plots hold my inter­est.

To be fair, Cassie seems to be grow­ing up a lit­tle bit. Not entire­ly, but she’s grow­ing a lit­tle. She does vehe­ment­ly claim to care about whether or not oth­er peo­ple get hurt try­ing to pro­tect her.

This book also serves as back­sto­ry time for Mircea and Pritkin, as we learn a lot more about their pasts. Things drag a bit while they relate their sto­ries, and in fact there seems to be lit­tle point in what we hear from Mircea (read­ers of the series already know a lot about his fam­i­ly and his­to­ry).

Alto­geth­er, I wouldn’t have read it if I weren’t already so far into the series. I do wish Chance would switch focus to anoth­er char­ac­ter. (I’m aware of the Dori­na Basarab series set in the same uni­verse, and con­sid­er them to be bet­ter books in gen­er­al). I sup­pose that’s unlike­ly, see­ing as it’s the Cas­san­dra Palmer series.

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Review: Spellbound by Kelley Armstrong

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 10-08-2012

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Spell Bound (Women of the Otherworld #12)Spell Bound by Kel­ley Arm­strong
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

Wak­ing the Witch and Spell Bound should tru­ly be read back to back. In fact, they should be read with 13 on hand, almost as a tril­o­gy with­in the series.

At the end of Wak­ing the Witch, Savan­nah silent­ly thought that if it would reunite an orphan with her grand­moth­er, Savan­nah would glad­ly give up her pow­ers. Some­thing heard her and took her up on that unin­tend­ed deal, and she finds her­self pow­er­less for the first time in her life.

Savan­nah has always been so very pow­er­ful that she has count­ed on her spells more than most witch­es or sor­cerors do, so she finds liv­ing with­out them to be very dif­fi­cult — espe­cial­ly since a witch hunter and oth­ers are after her. There’s a Super­nat­ur­al Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment that wants to use her as one of its fig­ure­heads, with or with­out her coöperation, in their quest to bring super­nat­u­rals out of the clos­et and into the spot­light. She has to do some seri­ous soul-search­ing and growth in the process of avoid­ing ene­mies and get­ting cre­ative about stay­ing alive.

The plot moves extreme­ly quick­ly, so much so that I couldn’t keep track of what day it was in the book. In fact, it moves right into the plot of 13. I’m hav­ing fits because I don’t have it on hand, and I just can’t wait for the library to get around to me on the hold list — I might have to break down and buy it instead.

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Review: Shady Lady by Ann Aguirre

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 07-08-2012

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Shady Lady (Corine Solomon, #3)Shady Lady by Ann Aguirre
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I have to give a fair­ly high rat­ing to a book that involves a woman who large­ly saves her­self from mul­ti­ple assas­sins (nat­ur­al and super­nat­ur­al) sent by the head of a drug car­tel. There are sexy men in her life (three, in fact), but she’s def­i­nite­ly the hero­ine here, not a cling­ing vine. That’s a refresh­ing approach.

To be hon­est I don’t think this book should be shelved with para­nor­mal romances at all. It deserves to be called urban fan­ta­sy, or some­thing along those lines, because rela­tion­ships are not the main focus of the plot.

Corine has changed a great deal from the begin­ning of the series, and we learn much more about her back­ground in this vol­ume, explain­ing some of her behav­ior. The expo­si­tion is nev­er tire­some or with­out rea­son — it’s worked into the plot very nice­ly. I enjoy see­ing char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, and get­ting more of the “why” helps the read­er make sense of her deci­sions.

This vol­ume feels like the end of the series, but it was a nice lit­tle tril­o­gy and well worth read­ing.

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Book Review: The Horns of Elfland edited by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 08-06-2010

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The Horns of Elfland The Horns of Elfland by Ellen Kush­n­er

My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars
It took a while to track down this vol­ume, as it has long been out of print. Inter­li­brary loan was, once again, my friend. But how odd to read an actu­al phys­i­cal book again, when I’ve been read­ing ebooks almost exclu­sive­ly late­ly!

Review: Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 07-06-2010

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Blood Oath Blood Oath by Christo­pher Farnsworth

My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars
Blood Oath is an inter­est­ing and fair­ly refresh­ing vari­a­tion on the vam­pire riff. Most of the cur­rent tales give us a suave, sexy preda­tor who mes­mer­izes his or her prey, leav­ing humans pin­ing for their pres­ence. They might even fall in love with a human. Nathaniel Cade, how­ev­er, refers to humans as food, say­ing, “Would you have sex with a cow?” That makes much more sense to me. It’s a good thing he isn’t inter­est­ed, either, as the typ­i­cal reac­tion peo­ple have to encoun­ter­ing him is utter pan­ic, often involv­ing the loss of blad­der con­trol.

Book Review: Changes by Jim Butcher

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 10-05-2010

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Changes (The Dresden Files, #12) Changes by Jim Butch­er

My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars
I do not give out many 5-star rat­ings, but for this book I couldn’t do any­thing else. That is despite the fact that Jim Butch­er did some­thing I hon­est­ly didn’t think he would do to his legions of loy­al read­ers, some­thing that I absolute­ly detest. Some­thing that I will not tell you about, because I loathe spoil­ers.