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.