Friday, December 14, 2012

Book of Choice + 3 GIVEAWAY by Modern Peasants Bookshelf

Who doesn't love the word free? Especially around the holidays when we're all burning through our bank accounts. Well, in an effort to keep your library fat and happy my friends over at Modern Peasants Bookshelf are giving away free books.

Want a few details? Well, one grand prize winner gets a book of choice from Smashwords ($9.99 or less) in addition to three other ebook titles. Two runners up will have a get their hands on three ebook titles.

Check it out, and get a few more details from the Peasant herself.

Edit: Or enter right here!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

'Star Trek: The Next Generation: Resistance' by J.M. Dillard

So, last night I'm laying in bed, where I get most of my productive reading hours in, and my boyfriend turns to me and we have a conversation that starts out something like this, "So are you going to review that one?"

I set the Kindle down just enough to get a peek of him over the bevel, "Of course."

"Well, are you going to mention me?"

"Why would I do that?"

"I don't want you blaming this one on me, that's all." Maybe it was the fact that it was almost midnight and sleep was creeping in, but I just didn't follow and it must have showed because he immediately plowed on, "You know, for getting you to watch Star Trek again and that somehow translating into you getting into the books."


At the time I'd said I wouldn't mention him, but it seems like a good way to answer the question I'm sure was burning through your brain when you saw the title of today's review: Why in all hell would I read 'Resistance' by J.M. Dillard?

B-4 and beloved Spot
Here's the deal. About a year ago he said he'd never watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'd already watched through it in it's entirety twice before, but I will never turn down that kind of opportunity. A year, and a full seven sessions of Star Trek: TNG and four movies later, he's all but given up (he hates Voyager and I can't really blame him on that score) but I was still clinging onto a bit of nostalgia and found that this title picks up where the movies left off. I couldn't help myself.

It's been about a week since that sad day, and I've gotta say that while the book had most of the right pieces, the feeling just wasn't in it for me. In a sense it's laid out in a way that makes it feel like one, super long, episode - which is good. But I didn't fall in love with any of the new characters introduced to fill in some of the big casting holes (left by the Councillor especially), which made most of the "big emotional scenes" fall more than a little flat. As if that weren't bad enough, I kinda just got peeved that the book opens with shipping B-4 off for a good ol' fashioned tear down (for Science!) and ends with not a whisper of him again. That kinda crap just wouldn't happen in the series. Who knows... he's might be brought back in a later book? But I'm not going to read any further to find out. And this isn't even touching on the fact that it's yet another Picard/Locutus and the Borgs drama that only kinda-sorta touches on him and Beverly's now official romance. 

If I were a die-hard trekie I'd keep reading, if only to find out what happens to B-4, but the synopsis and teaser chapter for the next book leads me to believe it focuses on Janeway (gag) and MORE BORGS!!!!!* (grrrr. So. Sick. Of. Borgs.)

Locutus of Borg (stupid Borg)
Bottom line? I won't be reading any further. I usually have a policy that I don't read anything that is based on a show or movie and this experience only helps to reinforce prior findings. It doesn't ruin the show, but it didn't really bring much to the table either. Unless you are a really, truly in need of a Next Generation fix, steer clear.

*Although Q and Lady Q are in it - and there's just something about Q that makes me happy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Blood Rites' (#6 of the Dresden Series) by Jim Butcher

Dresden lives in a spot on my heart right next to the Southern Vampire Mysteries. It is in this way that my reviews for both series are terribly skewed. That said, 'Blood Rites', by Jim Butcher, the sixth in a long chain of tales, is my favorite.

For fear of giving away too much - because that's so easy to do with these - this one has Dresden finding a puppy, getting himself hired to solve a mystery surrounding a porn set, all while working to try and defeat a new Black Court vampire nest.  In true Dresden style, he stumbles his way through it all, cracking jokes, making deals (that may, or may not end up working in his favor), and taking names. 

Seriously though, if you've never picked up a book in the series I urge you, (once again), to get out there and get cracking! This series is too good to miss. And if you're a Dresden fan already... well, you probably read this one years ago, but if you haven't gotten to it yet, this one is absolutely worth the read.

Friday, November 30, 2012

'Redemption' (#4 of The Chosen Series) by Denise Grover Swank

I'll start out by saying that I've been following this series for a few years. It all started one day when I was on the train commuting to work with a brand new membership to Amazon Prime burning a hole in my pocket. I'd purchased the membership because I'm addicted to books and online shopping. To not stray too far off topic I would definitely recommend splurging on the membership if you have either problem. I couldn't even tell you how much I've probably saved over the last few years because of it.

Anyway, in an effort to lower my exorbitant book buying budget, I was determined to exploit the new lending library and find a free title. That first day of free-book-glee I stumbled upon 'The Chosen' by Denise Grover Swank.

For the most part, The Chosen Series has been an okay ride, and one of the better titles I've found through the Lending Library. It's a supernatural series with the main focus laying squarely on the trials that single mother, Emma Thompson, goes through searching for her son, Jake. There are elementals who control fire, water, wind and earth. There are scenes of utter destruction and scenes brimming with hope. It was interesting for sure. But was it worth it?

In some cases yes, others no. 'Redemption' was entertaining - The Chosen (book #1) was a bestseller for a reason. The first few installments where new and interesting details surrounding the characters, their abilities and their relationships are flying around at full throttle had an energy that kept me reading and kept my interest.

Unfortunately, this final installment felt like it was missing something. It was like the gas ran out or the author got bored and it resulted in a full length novel with the feeling of a long, drawn out, wrap up. Emma, who had been so fierce throughout, became whiny and repetitive. While the focus had always been on rescuing her son in the first three novels, it was all she would talk about in the last one. Again, I get it, I'm not a mom, and maybe that has something to do with it. But the characterization simply felt off to me.

In the end, if you've got Amazon Prime, and you've made it this far in the series, then reading through 'Redemption' is no-brainer. Pick it up and go get yourself some closure. Heck - if you've got Amazon Prime and you're looking for something new, go for the whole series! But if you don't, and you've got something else lined up, I'd probably recommend you approach with caution.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

'Warm Bodies' by Isaac Marion

Its not like me to pick up a book based on a movie trailer. But when this is the teaser description: "...a zombie becomes involved with the girlfriend of one of his victims, their romance sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world." I needed to read the book it was based on. I certainly couldn't justify waiting until the films release in February - and so I let this one jump the line*.

'Warm Bodies' is an absorbing read that thoroughly captures the heart and imagination as it follows the everyday thoughts of a zombie named R. Cute, witty and charming, (never thought you'd see those words associated with a zombie novel did'ya?), author Isaac Marion manages to make even the stuff of nightmares into an enchanting tale of love, loyalty, friendship and trust.

Today's bottom line: if you're looking for something of the teeth-gnashing, mindless zombie genre than you're better off steering clear. But if you've ever found yourself wondering if there's anything going on up in that decaying head this one is a keeper.  

*Yes - I know that this wasn't on the Monthly Waiting List. That said, I've actually finished everything except for the Laini Taylor installment... I just haven't managed to get the reviews up... or, well, if I'm being completely honest with you, written yet. And while that's a bit sad... considering it's already the 24th and I've only gotten a review for one of the three promised titles up... it means that the last week of November should see a flurry of activity.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

'The Evolution of Mara Dyer' (#2 of the Mara Dyer Series) by Michelle Hodkin

It was only a few months ago that I was introduced to Michelle Hodkin and her first novel and the first book of this series, 'The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer'. (If for whatever reason you missed it my review of that title can be found here.) And if you haven't read that title yet, I'd suggest stopping here for now and picking that one up.

For those of you who are already familiar with this series, you won't be disappointed. Now I've read some reviews that accuse 'The Evolution of Mara Dyer' of being somewhat slow, dry, or even whiny - but I can't imagine they were reading the same book and I certainly don't agree.

This title is the perfect 'book two'. Not only do we learn more about the main characters and get an opportunity to revel in their love story but, by the end of the novel, Michelle does a fantastic job of beginning to uncover the whys and the hows of what is really happening to them.

For what it's worth, I'm highly anticipating the third installment of the Mara Dyer series, 'The Retribution of Mara Dyer' due out in fall of 2013. It's a new, vivid take on 'boy meets girl' with a dash of science fiction/fantasy thrown in for good measure. If you liked the first, love this kind of YA, or just crave a good love story, this one is for you.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Months Waiting List - November Edition

For the sake of both of us, and in an effort to explain why a certain book by Rowling appeared on last months list but was never reviewed, let me start by saying this:

It was terrible.

Absolutely, undeniably, terrible.

So freaking bad, in fact, that I only got through the first three chapters before I had to give up. It was boring and I just couldn't do it to myself. Nope. I know that I promised that I would read it. And I didn't. And I'm sorry. But it was awful. Really, truly, D.N.R. so I moved on.

J.K.R. - thanks for giving the world Harry Potter but please, for the love all that is written, put down the pen and walk away!

Ok. I feel better now. So back to our normally scheduled programming shall we? You came here to check out what kind of commitment I'm making for November, not to see me rant...
  1. "Days of Blood and Starlight" by Laini Taylor, book two of her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series which in my humble opinion is a must read. (See glowing review of book one here)
  2. "The Evolution of Mara Dyer", Mara Dyer #2, by Michelle Hodkin
  3. "Redemption" Chosen #4, Denise Grover Swank
Only three this month that I can point to right now and with both my birthday and National Murder a Turkey Day that might, realistically be all I get to. But who knows, I'd love to find time to catch up on another installment of the Dresden Files "Blood Rites" by Jim Butcher as it's looking like a month filled with series 'catch-up'. Either that or it's time to tackle the telephone directory which is "A Storm of Swords" by George R.R. Martin. With Game of Thrones returning to TV in March that would give me a few months to absorb it before the show comes back and consumes my Sunday evenings again.

'Something from the Nightside' (Nightside #1) by Simon R. Green

I'm not entirely sure why I picked up the first Nightside book by Simon Green entitled 'Something from the Nightside'. I guess it was because someone, somewhere, told me that it was a lot like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files... and boy, they weren't kidding.

These two series seem to share a lot of the same DNA. Both narrators are lonely, orphaned souls and while John Taylor of the Nightside makes his living as a private investigator with a knack for finding things and Dresden is a professional wizard with a knack, for well, being a wizard, that distinction comes to mean very little in the end. Frankly speaking, if we were pitting them up against each other I'd favor Dresden - if only because he has a dry sense of humor that just cracks me up while Taylor is just, well, dry.

But, this isn't a boxing match and I'm not going to discredit the series because I don't enjoy it as much as another one. And while I will recommend that if you haven't spent time reading either of them Dresden Files is probably the better way to spend your time, I can't say that the Nightside isn't a worthy entry into the genre.

What I will say is this: 'Something from the Nightside' does have some pretty terrific moments: A restaurant that's literally stuck in the 1960's, holes in reality that can bounce you into another timeline and a small group of strong characters that are sure to develop well over the long-haul. The novel also had a surprising ending that served as a great introduction for some additional characters that make a compelling argument to pick up the next book.

So here's the bottom line: If you're all caught up with Dresden, love a good private detective novel (complete with damsel in distress), and don't mind your detectives with a fantasy flair, this one is for you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Borrow One of My Books!

A few days ago I was cleaning up my Kindle archive and realized that the following list of titles are 'loan enabled'. 
  • "Perpetual Light" by Jordan K. Rose
  • "Seed" by Ania Ahlborn
  • "The Hangman's Daughter" by Oliver Pötzsch
  • "Madly" (Novella - Madly Series #1) by M. Leighton
  • "Callum & Harper"(Sleepless Series #1) by Fisher Amelie
  • "Blood of Anteros" (Vampire Agápe Series #1)" by Georgia Cates
  • "Sacrifice" (The Chosen #3) by Denise Grove Swank 
  • "The Hunger Games"(The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
  • "Catching Fire" (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
  • "Mockingjay" (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins 
  • "Mercury Falls" by Robert Kroese
  • "Mercury Rises" by Robert Kroese
  • "Mercury Swings" by Robert Kroese
  • "The Black Blade" (A Gull Village Story) by Sean Huxter 
 And so, with all these titles to loan and no one to loan them to I had a stroke of brilliance (if I do say so myself): Loan them to readers here at To The Point - and that, in a word, is You.
Source: Hummingbird Bridal and Event Company
So how to get your hands on a title? Well, I'd open it up as a free for all but Amazon, in combination with all those pesky publishers, have mandated from powers on high that I can only loan it out once and for only 14 days at that.  So in order to keep it fair-as-fair-can-be we'll be playing by the following couple of rules:
Rule #1: Before requesting a title you've got to be a subscriber of To The Point. If you aren't already, go ahead and use one of the methods to the right.
Rule #2: Leave a comment or drop me a line letting me know what title you're interested in borrowing.
Now here's the tricky part: With only 14 titles to loan, I can only guarantee the first 14 people a title, but the more popular titles might have more than request, that and there's always the chance that more people request than I've got books for so here's what I'm willing to give you even if it isn't one of the title above.

If the title you pick is already spoken for (first come/first serve, scouts honor) then your subscription gets you double entry in my next free book giveaway planned for next month and extra consideration when I loan my next title. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reading Through the Eyes of a Writer - Guest Post written by Ria Majumdar

When Ria Majumdar suggested she write a piece about how writers read as a guest post I jumped at the chance. While T.T.P. doesn't typically wander into this territory, she's done a great job at capturing why I found myself keeping this blog in the first place. But that's enough from me. Frankly speaking, Ria does a better job explaining it then I ever could.   

We all love reading books. If that had not been the case then you wouldn’t be hanging around on a blog that deals with book reviews, unless of course, you are stalking me…

But have you ever read a book that was so good, I mean, so insanely out-of-this-world that it left an imprint on your brain? In fact was the book so exhilarating that it sparked the urge to write something similarly extraordinary in you? An urge that didn’t let you rest since that day so badly that you have been churning out one crap story after another in pursuit of that golden story that would land you in the ranks of that one book that changed your life?

Well, if you have experienced this (like me with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) then congratulations, you are a writer.

Writers have always been voracious readers. We read, cry over the fact that we aren’t good enough, and read more. Well, the cycle can be crueler with you tearing up your manuscript after finishing a particularly awesome book because you realized that your writing sucks big time.

Anyway, this is how a writer reads:-
  1. Goes to a book shop and browses through the volumes until their flying fingers land upon a book that “calls to them” (read: has an amazing cover and that’s why drew attention). Yup, they say don’t judge a book by its cover but don’t we all do just that?
  2. Turns the book over and reads the blurb. If it sounds intriguing then turns to the first page and reads a few paragraphs.
  3. Stops reading because they are getting hooked and realize that their own manuscript at home is a crappy excuse for a novel.
  4. Reads the quotes of authors and magazine editors who read the book and found it hot and happening and imagines their own book described in such mushy terms, then frowns as the suspicion that maybe these people were paid to write such good stuff clouds their mind.
  5. Hushes the sarcastic insights and buys the book.
  6. Reads it in one sitting if it’s good and cries over how crappy their manuscript is.


    Reads the book halfway and laughs at the contents if it’s bad. Then feels overjoyed that they are really, really, really good at writing until their family turns up to beat out the enthusiasm. (We are woefully misunderstood folk.)

  7. Repeats process… on an e-reader now because we are all modern, aren’t we? 
So that’s how we writers read, petting the green cat of jealousy as we enjoy the magic woven in words.

How do you read? Ever felt the spark I was talking about earlier? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author:-
Ria Majumdar is a writer, reader, blogger and undergraduate dentist. She loves her library, which is currently overflowing with books and thinks it’s too weird to write about her own self in third person. So hi, if you want to read more of what I write, feel free to jump over to my blog The Spyglassviewer ( and enjoy some of my dry humor!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Red Rain' by R.L. Stine

Back in the days of my elementary school's mobile book fair, R.L. Stine was starting to make waves with his, at the time brand new, series Goosebumps. It was enjoyable to a point. It always embodied a fun, campy spookiness, and each installment was always liberally littered with entirely unbelievable premises. Yet, even though I enjoyed them I never considered myself a great fan. I would argue that it was because by that age I'd already read half of Stephen King's offerings, and those - especially his earlier works - are truly the stuff of nightmares, so I'd already been desensitized to the spook in Stine's work.

Fast forward a few decades and I found myself intrigued by Stine's latest effort, 'Red Rain' in, dare I say it, the adult horror genre. To tell the truth I can't say I walked into it with particularly high expectations... in fact, I'd remembered so little of his writing style from before that I approached this much like I would a newly minted author.

But then I remember something: The only reason I ever went out of my way to get my hands on anything from Goosebumps was because my mom would always give me ten bucks to spend at the book fair. I'm not sure if you remember your grade school book fairs but the ones I attended were explosions of Lissa Frank (not interested), some series about twins named Jessica and Samantha (Sweet Valley High I think?) and other assorted garbage like locker mirrors, calendars, posters of Saved by The Bell actors and - oh yeah, a handful of semi-interesting books.

Why am I telling you this?*

Well, it turns out that I didn't really like R.L. Stine much growing up either - but when I saw this new title come up a yearning of nostalgia came with it. Unfortunately, for this title, it fell flatter then his kids books ever did.

Was the logo the scariest part of that series?
The premise of adorable twins being swiftly adopted by travel writer Lea and transplanted from their island home to suburban family life is so mundane it hurts. The writing is blocky, pedantic, technical and entirely devoid of a sense of humor. The characters are flat and predictable. What's worse than any of that is that it failed to scare me even once. No sharp intake of breathe, no struggle with myself on whether it would be best to keep reading and find out what happens or put it down and get a glass of water. None of that.

Overall, this one was dead, dry and boring. A book that I would imagine being a tough sell to even the most die-hard now adult Goosebumps fan. My final advise? Steer clear.

*I can almost hear you screaming at me to get to the point already! But you need to allow me a little time - I mean, we are deconstructing part of my childhood here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' by Laini Taylor

'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' by Laini Taylor has to be the best book in the YA, Fantasy genre I've read all year. In fact, it was so good that within minutes of finishing up the last page I swung into the Kindle Storefront and preordered the 'Days of Blood and Starlight' - book two due out on November 6th.

Main character Karou with her natural blue hair, hand drawn chimaera comics and secret double life is hard to resist. Likeable and dubbed with a name that literally translates into the very thing she comes to embody its easy to become submerged in her story and get swept away as the story unfolds.

Even the supporting characters like Brimstone, Akiva, Zuzana and Issa are vital to the story and have a tendency of being much different and more complicated than how they're originally presented. With the entire cast of characters serving their own desires and purposes genuinely, this book quickly comes to life as a story filled with everyone fighting their own internal battles while struggling to shape a better world - all with Karou somehow caught unaware and in the middle. 

If you're looking for the next, great fantasy with a romantic flair, you can't let this title pass you by... but you might want to wait until early November when you can pick up both titles and save yourself the wait!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

'The Hangman's Daughter' by Oliver Pötzsch

'The Hangman's Daughter' by Oliver Pötzsch takes the prize for the best book I've read in a long, long time, and to be honest that surprised me. Not only was this an historical fiction, a genre that I'm not terribly invested (or interested) in, but it was originally written in German and brought over for my reading pleasure in a rather excellently executed English translation.

In what I understand is the first of many in this series*, we find Kuisl, a hangman born from a line of hangmen, his beautiful, brilliant, but cursed, daughter Magdalena, and Simon, a fancy-pants city type whose trained at the university (but never graduated) to be a doctor (like his father) but instead of making a proper name for himself has the misfortune of respecting the Hangman, and loving his daughter. Watching the interplay of these three main characters against the hugely gratifying story that includes but is not limited to a murder, a witch hunt, a political scandal and the impeding doom of the local rulers visit is nothing short of fabulous. 

If you like a good mystery, a good love story or just a good all-star novel, this one is for you. If you need vampires or some young-adult fancy to your fiction... well... I know a good vampire series that's worth your time.

*I can honestly say this is probably the first series I've gotten truly excited about in a long time - and probably the first time I've gotten excited about one that didn't really leave my head spinning over some crazy cliff-hanger. I actually want to read it because I've seriously enjoyed the Hardy-boy-esk nature of the books. This one is good folks - read it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

'The Fever Series', 5 Books by Karen Marie Moning

Before starting this review I feel like I need to make an admission: I needed to force myself to write it. 

When I started writing these reviews a few months ago I promised myself (and the lovely ladies of B4R who will take away my book privileges if I don’t post a review for the monthly reads *gasp!*) that I’d review every title, in any genre, no matter what my opinion of the read. But after nearly a month of typing something out, deleting everything, starting over (with a disappointed little huff), and letting this review discourage me from getting on with my reading, my reviewing and my life, I realized that sometimes you just gotta plow ahead. Write what comes to mind and readers be damned (not you of course – just saying).

Not that I haven’t had trouble getting my opinion coherently expressed in a post before, but for whatever reason ‘The Fever Series’ by KarenMarie Moning was both tough to read through and equally as difficult to write about, but here’s the true conundrum folks: these books weren’t poorly written. They weren’t filled with plot holes. The characters were colorful and even the unlikeable ones were well developed. The idea unique and the world was new. 

So what was the problem? Well – it’s the little things that nag at me. Take the protagonist for instance. MacKayla Lane is cut from the same cloth, heck, she’s cut from the same exact fabric pattern, as Sookie Stackhouse. Now I know what you’re thinking. “But you love the Southern Vampire Novels!”

Yes. Yes I do. 

But Mac just feels wrong. I don’t know how else to put it. She takes all the snotty, stuck-up, self-centered and truly unremarkable pieces of Sookie and leaves most of the character growth and warmth behind. However, having an unlikeable pink princess for a lead isn’t the only piece of ‘Fever’ that left me scratching my head.

Ireland felt wrong too. It truly felt like the only places in the whole of Dublin were Temple Bar and not Temple Bar. None of the characters really spoke like the Irish – that is to say the author didn’t use any real modern Irish lingo to color their heritage appropriately. Instead, the dialogue would reflect a strange twang that seemed more uneducated than accent. 

Lastly, there’s the character of Barrons. Oh Barrons – a beast of a man that MacKayla can’t get her barring on. I could probably dissect the relationship here in detail but I’ll save you the long form and just say this: On some level Barrons reminded me of Christian Grey. Not because he had some kinky, distorted, bondage fascination, but because he possessed that same odd need to control everything about Mac.

And that’s it everyone. Overall, the five books in that make up the ‘Fever’ series are good enough to recommend to people who enjoy the fantasy, young adult genre. My personal feelings of the two main characters aside, it was well done and the ending was a clever surprise, but I won’t be rereading them anytime soon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This Months Waiting List

Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that the title of this T.T.P. segment has changed. What once was the Weekly Waiting List is now the new and improved Monthly Waiting List! Not only will you find out what's currently in my Kindle hopper, but I'll try and shed some light into what else you'll be seeing reviews for (i.e. things I've already read but have been too busy/tired/lazy to get a review up for yet) and why I might not have gotten through everything in my last queue.

So, let's start from the bottom of that list and work our way backwards, shall we? Bottom line is I didn't get to all the weekly reads because the goal of four books in a week was just a slight bit of an overreach. Turns out that in a normal week I can easily get through two titles, three in a stretch, four or more if, and only if, it co-stars my favorite blonde viking vampire*. That and two other titles (Blood of Anteros, (still feel absolutely gypped by that one) and the finale of Forest of Hands and Teeth), in conjunction with an entire five book series by Karen Moning did a fantastic job of preventing me from hitting my lofty, entirely unattainable, goal. So even though an entire month has practically flown by the Hangman's Daughter is only 50% completed - as an aside its absolutely one of the best books I've read all year and I'm embarrassed to admit that it's been shoved out of the way twice now so that I could get through other titles.

And that's the long and the short of it! Finger's crossed you'll see reviews up in the next week or so for the only outstanding title from last month, Hangman's Daughter and another for The Fever Series by Karen Moning (don't think I'll split this one into multiple reviews... nope... no I won't do it).

Enough of the excuses though. Here are the four titles I know I'm going to be churning through over the next thirty days:
  1. 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' by Laini Taylor
  2. 'The Casual Vacancy' by J.K. Rowling
  3. 'Red Rain' by R.L. Stine
  4. 'Something from the Nightside' by Simon R. Green
A bit of a departure from the Y.A. that's been hogging up my time for the last... oh... three months now and I'm excited to take a bit of a break from it to be honest.

*Fun fact: The first time I picked up a Southern Vampire Mystery I literally got through all ten books over the course of seven days. No - I don't just sit at home all day and read thank-you-very-much. I've got bills to pay and a full time job to do it. But thinking about it now... I'm not sure that I slept much that week.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

'Madly' (Madly #1) by M. Leighton

Before sitting down to 'Madly' book #1 in the aptly named Madly series by M. Leighton I'd absolutely no idea what it was about but a friend recommended it, and, if you've been around these parts for any length of time, I'll read just about anything that someone throws in my general direction. This title about Madly James and her world steeped in fairy tale lore is no exception.

At first, two things struck me. The cover being the first. Now I know what you're thinking - this is a book review, not a cover review. Don't worry, I'm not an artist or outragouesly talented marketer so I won't spend too long on it - but the cover turned me off.  Too me it looked cheap, more like a manga cover than any serious fiction I'd ever picked up. The second was how short it was. Only one hundred pages? I thought - well, if I didn't like it than at least it would be an extremely short term commitment.

While I still pretty much hate the cover art, this is a good lesson in putting covers aside and reading the material before passing judgement. Even more impressive was that I got to the last page of this fast paced introductory novella in just under an hour and was disappointed that I'd need to get my hands on the next volume to keep going.

Will I pick up Madly & Wolfhardt (Madly, #2)? Most likely, equally terrible cover and all.

Should you pick up 'Madly'? Well - if you've burned yourself out on young adult fantasy romance then I'd probably steer clear for now. But if you can get past the cover and want to read something in this genre that isn't about vampires or werewolves you've got the green light - just do yourself a favor and make sure to have book two queued up and ready to go! 

Friday, August 31, 2012

'The Seed' by Ania Ahlborn

'The Seed' by Ania Ahlborn is the first paranormal horror fiction I've read in a long, long time. How long you ask? Well, the last time I remember being so scared that I had an internal battle with myself every time I turned a page was back some time before high school when I spent a summer chewing through all the King I could get my hands on. As a rule I'm more drawn to the Sci-fi end of the spectrum.

But for whatever reason this one, about a family man named Jack and his realization that the demons from his past are coming back out to play, caught my eye on a Kindle ad and for only a few dollars... well I decided to give it a spin. Knowing that this isn't my genre of choice, maybe the following should be taken with an ample does of salt.
Generally the book had a slow, methodical pace, especially as the story hit about mid-stride. Understandably, if the author had hit the gas and steered a little straighter through the middle then a good chunk of the drama would have been compromised. Still, the imagery in the first third and last third of the book made the read rewarding.

However, throughout the middle third I found myself wishing for substantially more 'meatiness'. There were some awesome opportunities for showcasing really bizarre, head-spinning, demonic possession-y stuff would have made the entire novel less "bumper-cars" more "roller coaster" (if that makes any sense.) I also have a feeling that if I had children then this one would have struck a deeper nerve then it ultimately ended up doing.

My recommendation is read this if you love demonic possession stories, scare easy, or have children that fuel your nightmares. Otherwise, it may be worth the skip.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"The Dark and Hollow Places" by Carrie Ryan

Generally speaking, this installment in the Forest of Hands and Teeth series was my least favorite. But even after saying that, where it was good, it was great, and at those times it was easily better than the first two. So why does it still win the award for being the worst out of three then?

Well, that's the thing. It wasn't one point in particular, but many little things that all kind of added up to a 'meh' experience. Let's see if I can't get my thought coherently conveyed here, shall we?

  • Problem Numero Uno: The author's vocabulary seemed to be on a major downswing - an overuse / abuse of the adjectives 'raw' and 'ragged' springs to mind here. With the first book, (and even the second to some lesser degree), being full of such colorful descriptions, this one wasn't as solidly written.
  • Point B: For the first time in the three novels, the main character not only thought she was weak - but she was utterly unlikeable to boot. Granted, she'd spent a lifetime thinking that she wasn't good enough, or pretty enough, or punishing herself for being a terrible sister, (and she totally was), but I could deal with all that if she wasn't selfish and self-protecting and self-deprecating to boot. I don't like these people in real life.. I really don't like reading about them.
  • Thirdly: The stories resolution and the actual ending were infuriating because there was so very little closure. I spent a lot of time reading about these people - the least the author could do was give us an epilogue some long time in the future and elude to the happiness of these four main characters - or even just catch us up on Mary. I loved that character and she was all but forgotten about in this installment.

In conclusion (and before I accidentally kick off another rant), if you really enjoyed the first two then read this. It was a fun enough story where readers of the first two will enjoy revisiting this world filled with teeth-gnashing zombies. Or, you might want to pick it up if you're like me and you'll read a series to the end even if it's making your eyes bleed and your brain cells die. In that case you have the green light to go ahead - I promise that it's not 'eye bleeding' terrible... and there are a few scenes in there that are worth the read.

But generally speaking? It might be worth skipping if you didn't much care for the first two, or you have something better lined up in the queue.

"The Host" by Stephanie Meyer

When I managed to get through the entire Twilight series last year I never expected to ever read another Stephanie Meyer novel. I was so put off by that her vampire mythology massacre, (a series that consistently serves as my 'wtf?' measuring stick), that when I caught wind of the buzz around this title I couldn't bring myself to be even a tiny bit interested. That being said, when it came up as my book clubs monthly read I knew the time had come for me to put the grudge aside and give it a shot -- and I'm glad I did.

This book is both an imaginative and thoughtful narrative written solely from the perspective of an alien body-snatcher, Wanderer (a.k.a. Wanda) who has decided to try out Earth for awhile. She's been told to expect heightened senses and emotions, feelings and thoughts. What she hasn't been told, and what nobody really expects, is that her host body's owner, Melanie, is still present - unwilling and unable to forfeit control just because Wanda is in there too.

Throughout the novel a number of great questions are raised for the reader's consideration as Wanda desperately tries to find her own niche, develop her own self, and prove that she isn't just another parasite. She does this even while struggling to maintain the relationships with Melanie's family and friends as well as with Mel herself.

In total, The Host was a fantastic read that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who likes an interesting fiction with a light sci-fi twist. Regardless of whether you were a Meyer's fan after Twilight or not, you will be after you finish this one.