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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Giveaway Winners Announced!

It's finally time to announce the winners of the month long Winner's Choice Book Giveaway - the first of many giveaways to be hosted on To The Point!

Without further delay our winners are:

Ria, the captain at the helm of another awesome blog, SpyGlassViewer. She hasn't told me what title she's interested in yet, so Ria - if you see this, reach out and let me know!
Christina, writer of Christina BookReviews, and one of the moderators of the Books4Review group over on Goodreads, (an excellent group filled with some exceptionally lovely bloggers and book reviewers). Christina has requested "Rapture" by Lauren Kate - book #4 of the Fallen series. I have to say that while I don't have time for another series commitment, this one looks pretty good...

Congratulations to each of you and enjoy the books!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Not to Miss List: Autumn, 2012

Like the live-stream corgi puppies on the Pet Collective's YouTube channel, there are some thing you shouldn't miss this fall. For a taste of what I'll be doing as the weather cools off take a look at the list below:
Pullman hit the list mainly because of the powerhouse His Dark Materials. While I can't say I was absolutely in love with how the Pullman series ultimately ended (a little too heavy on the religious pushing for me), I'm insanely interested in seeing what he can do with a few classic fairy tales. 

Lesser known authors, that in my humble opinion you should be reading if you aren't already, also have entries coming. I'm truly looking forward to the captivating and creative continuations that Denise Grover Swank and Michelle Hodkin are sure to put out with their next efforts.

Then there's the could be great, could be horrible, but nostalgia inducing adult fiction entry from one of my favorite authors from way back when I was still in elementary school: R.L. Stine.* I'm still not sure how that one is going to pan out seeing as I've never read any of his adult novels but even still, I'm eagerly anticipating this title so that I can find out what he can do outside of the child-oriented Goosebumps series. J.K.'s book is on there for much the same reason.

Lastly, you'll have probably noticed that I've been a little sneaky and popped the upcoming season premier of Doctor Who into the top slot of what should be a list of book recommendations. Truth be told, I'm just trying to turn the entire world into Whovians. (And I'm chomping at the bit  for an official schedule announcement - come on BBC! Give us a date already!!)

*I know, you were probably thinking I'd say J.K. Rowling but while I did read through all her Harry Potter entries and I am certainly looking forward to what she can do outside of the young adult arena, I'm sad to say I experienced them mostly during my college years and am much less concerned about her ability to appeal to a slightly more.. um... 'adult' population.

"Blood of Anteros" by Georgia Cates

This is the first book in a series that I will not be continuing because I couldn't even get through the first half.

There. I said it and yes, you read correctly. I am writing a review for a book that was, in my opinion, so terrible that I will never find out how Curry eludes his maker Marsala. I won't ever find out how the doomed romance between him and Chansey resolves. I'll never get a chance to figure out what being an Agape really means to any of them.

And what's worse? I don't care to.  For the first time in my brief history as a book reviewer I'm throwing out the golden rule of bracketing every critique in two compliments. It just isn't possible for me this time.  In fact, I almost didn't review "Blood of Anteros" because after looking at all the glowing reviews for this series, some even written by other reviewers that I follow and trust, there is a small part of me that believes that maybe, just maybe, I'm the outlier - and it's my opinion that stinks... not this book. But after further consideration I truly feel like this one needs to avoided. But why? I'll give you three reasons:
  1.  Curry is a vampire. A vampire who can walk in the daylight because of some strange ecliptical happening. Which is all well and good but once you get reading he'll say things like he can't eat real food, making a big excuse to avoid going down to breakfast because he doesn't want his non-food-eating self revealed. But then a chapter or two later he'll be scarfing breakfast with the same group of people.
  2. Even by the halfway point I still got the sense that the author was still trying to figure out the point and overall, vampire element felt like it was jammed into the story. 
  3. Lastly, the editing is terrible! This in and of itself makes it really, really, difficult to read because I constantly found myself trying to make sense of a misused (in some cases totally missing) word or poorly punctuated sentence. If this thing was being graded by my old college English professor, this thing would have gone in the trash and gotten an F.
To everyone who loves these books I'm sorry for the hard lined review. To everyone else, read at your own risk!   

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Week's Waiting List

It's inevitable. Whenever I've actually found a captivating series one of two things happen.
  1. Assuming that the series in question is completed, I'll get to about book two and wouldn't you know it, it's like the book gods smile down on me and all of a sudden my Kindle is choking with titles that tempt me every time I power the thing on. 
  2.  Conversely, if the series isn't complete, and I'm madly in love with it*, its near impossible to find anything that is even remotely as good/interesting/well written. It is in these times that I awaken to find myself in the middle of a 'book drought.'
The good news, at least from a reviews perspective, is that I'm currently in a type 1 scenario and I've got a pretty decent waiting list sitting on the Kindle at the moment just waiting for me to get through book three of the Carrie Ryan books. Once that happens you should start seeing reviews for the following pop-up over the next week or so:
From what I can tell this is a fairly solid chunk of grade-A reading material and I'm especially keen on starting 'The Host' (even though I wasn't particularly impressed with the Twilight novels).

*As an aside one of my all time favorites ends this upcoming May and I'm not entirely sure if I'm thrilled or preparing for a week long depression when it finally comes to a close. (Team Eric!) Either way, Charlaine Harris caused one of the largest book droughts in my recent history - she's just that damned good. Took me about six months to really shake it off and realize that the Sookie-verse was not the end-all-be-all of my reading.

Free book Giveaway, Winner's Choice! Ends Monday August 20th (Next Monday!)

In case you've forgotten to enter the Free book Giveaway it ends only one week from today!

Click here to enter and see full details.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"The Dead-Tossed Waves" by Carrie Ryan

The 'book two' of a three-part series is dangerous business. It can be everything you hoped and dreamed, leaving you determined get your hands on the last installment, or it can break an otherwise great story to smithereens. Thankfully, Carrie Ryan is an excellent story teller and book three is in my future even if the pacing that the author developed so nicely in book one, (and even this books first half), was frankly lost for a chunk of this efforts second half, but it does pick up again to hit a good stride before reaching the end, so not all is lost.

It is worth noting that if you've read book one and you're looking for more on book one's Mary you won't be entirely disappointed, but this might be quiet different then you may have hoped, (it was for me). The author has switched the narrative focus to Mary's daughter Gabrielle to tell the tale as another generations struggles with our dear, dear friends the Unconsecrated. Finally, this 'book two' effort of The Forest of Hands and Teeth has a spectacular ending, making it a worthwhile read - especially if you liked book one or find yourself in the mood for a good, old fashioned zombie apocalypses tale.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"The Forest of hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan

Mary, a teenager living in a village somewhere in the middle of the Forest of Hands and Teeth, dreams of what lies beyond the hordes of Unconsecrated that keep her and her people so isolated. Bound to follow the child-rearing focus of the Sisters near tyrannical grip on her people she sees no other choice but to give up and marry the boy who she doesn't love... that is until her town falls and armed with only her mother's stories from the world pre-Retun and her small group of surviving friends find refuge on the Path.

A great read for anyone who enjoys the post-apocolyptic genre, light fiction or a solidly written teenage narrative similar to the Benny Imura stories from Jonathan Maberry. Overall, this one is worth the price of admission and I'm already digging into book two.

"Callum & Harper" by Fisher Amelie

At its core the story of Callum & Harper by Fisher Amelie is a classic 'love at first sight' romance, with a twist. Told in alternating perspective so that half of the story is from Callum's point of view and the other half is Harper's it becomes clear that both of these love-stricken fools are perfect for each other - if only they could figure that out for themselves.

As the story unfolds and more problems are introduced for each half of the couple to conquer, there's a real possibility that a happy ending may not be in store for the love-lorn duo.

With an excellent cast of supporting characters, well drawn leads and interesting plot twists that will have you guessing until the end, this is a fun, quick read that falls neatly into the "page turner" category.