Review- Magic in the Blood

Devon Monk
Urban Fantasy
368 pages
Allie Beckstrom Series #2
Roc/Penguin Usa

Goodreads Synopsis:
Working as a Hound—tracing illegal spells back to their casters—has taken its toll on Allison Beckstrom. But even though magic has given her migraines and stolen her recent memory, Allie isn’t about to quit. Then the police’s magic enforcement division asks her to consult on a missing persons case. But what seems to be a straightforward job turns out to be anything but, as Allie finds herself drawn into the underworld of criminals, ghosts, and blood magic.

One of my new favorite heroines is back, and Allie has to sort through a lot of emotions and missing memories in hopes of figuring out who she's become, this time around.  We start a couple weeks after the end of Magic to the Bone, and I really enjoy when an author does that in a series. I feel like my characters haven't made any important moves or decisions without me. {I'm aware how bizarre that sounds} 

Allie is very inward in this installment and she's sad and a little lost actually. She's not quite as tough because she doesn't really believe in herself; I think she doesn't really trust herself most of the book.  I ended up really enjoying who her character became, but it took a little bit of frustration to get there.  Having a transition in her character so early in the series was an interesting move by Monk, but I have to admit that it makes me really interested to see what's in store for us later on.  

My favorite part of this book is all the new characters that are introduced.  I have secret hopes for all of them, which says a lot about the power of each of them.  But, if I had to pick one favorite it would be Davy.  He becomes Allie's confidant and she really needs someone in her corner, so of course I have a soft spot for him.  I hope he's not going anywhere anytime soon. 

Even though Zayvion Jones isn't around as much as I would have initially liked, or hoped for I began to appreciate his absence.  And I actually think Allie {and the series} will be better for it.  

Bottom Line: A good follow up to a series that is still one of my favorite finds of 2010

4 stars


Coming Up...

This week I've gone home to visit my family in Texas, and I've just discovered that my ipad and blogger are not friends....and now I'm having to work on a PC *gasp*. {apologies for any weird formatting that maybe occur this week} But, I still plan on posting this week remotely now that I've safely escaped the turkey and pie haze.
Here's what's happening this week...

Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk, and Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre.

Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow and Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre (finally) 

News and More:
This week at the amazing Julie's blog, Yummy Men & Kick-Ass Chicks, she's dedicating a full week to nothing but Urban Fantasy. Yay!  She's going to have some amazing author spotlights and visits and reviews. And she's put the pressure on and asked me to explain what it is about Urban Fantasy that has me so obsessed enthusiastic. I'll be stopping by on Wednesday to chat.  If you get a chance I hope you'll stop by her blog throughout the week.

This coming Friday, Dec 3rd is our Book Club discussion of Night Shift. Please come by and chat with me. 

Hope you have a great week!


Lets Give Thanks, Shall we?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US, and I think if you don't give thanks you're no longer a citizen {something about over population}.  So, I wanted to be sure to get my thanks in early. Thank you to each and every one of you who stops in and reads my reviews, teasers, or general musings about books or authors. Whether you're just a lurker or you comment regularly, I thank you! You give me an excuse to continue talking.  

...See you on Sunday

Winner Winner

Thank you to everyone who checked out and commented on Marta Acosta's "Behind the Pen".  The winner of Haunted Honeymoon at Casa Dracula is:

Linda Henderson
"My name would be The Virus, because I think it sounds scary."

Linda please email me your snail mail address.


Review- The Sweet Scent of Blood

Suzanne McLeod
Urban Fantasy
363 pages
Spellcrackers.com Series #1
Ace/Penguin Usa

Goodreads Synopsis:
Genevieve Taylor is a sidhe - one of the noble fae - and she's unusual even in a London where celebrity vampires, eccentric goblins and scheming lesser fae mix freely with humanity...

Genny is a rising star at Spellcrackers.com, where she finds the "M" in magic - which can mean anything from mischief to malice to murder. The spellcrackers are run by the Witch Council, whose ancient tenets prohibit any contact with vampires. And that's just fine with Genny, who wants as little to do with the bloodsuckers as possible.

But when a sinfully sexy vamp is accused of killing his lover, an old debt forces Genny to help prove his innocence, risking her job, her safety - and the exposure of her own dark secrets. Genny soon realizes that she and her client are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle. And it's not just her own neck at stake but the lives of all of London's supernatural beings

My Review:
When I finished the last page of The Sweet Scent of Blood I sat there for a few minutes staring at the back cover, still sifting through everything that just happened. Wow!  You know how sometimes there are movies you just have to give your undivided attention to; no bathroom brakes or popcorn refills?  This is the book counterpoint to that kind of story-telling. Suzanne McLeod brings new meaning to the phrase "a smart read." 

Genevieve Taylor, our heroine, is cut from a different cloth.  And when you read as much UF as I do, I fully appreciated the originality of her character. Genny is a sidhe, a court fae to be exact, but she has anomalies {which I can't tell you} that set her further apart from your run of the mill fae.  Even though Genny is one-of-a-kind, a special creature among millions in London, that doesn't mean she's perfect. Actually, she can't perform spells used to train toddlers.  I enjoyed looking inside a character that could do wrong for a change.  There are still parts of Gen that are a complete mystery, and I suspect that over the course of the series the holes will fill.  I will admit that I'm normally one of those readers that likes things rather buttoned up at the end, nice and tidy, but the way in which McLeod teases you with information has me intrigued not frustrated.  

Actually all the characters introduced throughout the book are creative and well planned.  Though admittedly, in the beginning I was a bit confused about all the character's relation to the story and consequently their relationship to our protag.  Now, everything became straight in my head quickly enough, but when there are several rich characters demanding my attention I need a lot of reinforcement as to their possible purpose to the plot and I didn't get that here as much as I'm use to.  

The world McLeod has created is so inventive I'd suspect we have a long running series in the makings; I can't imagine ever becoming bored with this new version of London.  She's created so many new rules and believable truths that I wonder if McLeod actually resides in a fantasy version England where she can borrow from her everyday. Her plot is constant, and original, and slightly frustrating. {in a delicious sort of way...yes I'm using the word delicious}  Much the way Sherlock Holmes keeps going and going and you're merely along for the ride, Mcleod {through Genny's POV} dangles the answers in front of you but keeps them just out of reach.  It kept an exciting game of "what if" playing the entire story. 

Bottom Line: I know that saying "A Whole New World" is a little Disney, but Mcleod's  London is original, her characters are refreshing, and the plot is imaginative...so call me princess Jasmine. 

4 stars


Review- Grave Witch

Kalayna Price
Urban Fantasy
325 pages
Alex Craft series #1
ROC/Penguin Usa

Goodreads Synopsis:
As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around…

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life…and her soul.

My review:
It's no secret that magic is one of my favorite varieties of Urban Fantasy and Kalayna Price is a new-to-me voice that has now landed herself on my "must watch" list. In Grave Witch, the first book of her new series, she's created a fast-moving story with near perfect lead characters that left me anxious for more.

The many character relationships in Grave Witch were the star of the show for me.  The relationships are true to life and make it easy for any reader to find similarities among their own experiences and relationships.  The plot takes care of the dramatics so the entertainment really comes from the cast. From Alex's best friends Holly and Tamara, to her dog PC, to Roy a disgruntled ghost that wont leave Alex alone, and of course to the new detective in town Falin Andrews; each character has a purpose to the story and they serve them well. 

I will say, some of the magical terms and events that take place aren't explained with as much detail as I think a first book in a series should be. The mis-steps are minor enough that they don't ruin the story in any way, but new "magic" fans might find themselves a little fuzzy from time to time. 

The world Price introduces us to quickly became one I wanted to be a part of, as lame as that sounds. The story's setting is creative and pure fantasy, but I enjoyed how the author mirrored Alex's world to the everyday.  I know that's the point with 'Urban' fantasy, but so often it doesn't feel like that to me.  Sure Alex Craft is a witch and has a friendly relationship with Death {who's actually a big softy}, but she has a room-mate, job demands, and family issues like so many people.  It made it really easy to connect with Alex.

Bottom Line: An entertaining first glimpse at an impressive new world; I can't wait for round 2.

3.5 stars


Coming Up...

This week had me busy busy {away form blogland} which meant little time for reading. Sadly, I only read 2 books this week, shocking I know!  But, I plan to remedy this on my upcoming vacation.  In case you didn't know, this week marks the American Thanksgiving, and I will bravely be traveling with the millions of other people desperate for some Turkey.  There wont be any posts this coming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday because of the holiday. 

This week we'll be reviewing 2 new-to-me authors and series both in the "magic and more" category of Urban Fantasy.  Grave Witch by Kaylana Price and The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne Mcleod.

This week I'll be reading Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk, followed by Wanderlust and Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre.

News and More:
Somehow I landed $15 in Borders Bucks, and of course I used it straight away to stack my TBR.  I purchased Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill, Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk, and Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge.   Previously this week, I purchased Nightshade by Andrea Cremer and I'm anxious to see if all the hype is justified. 
I received and ARC of Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck that I'm really looking forward to.  I had previously read TC before it was picked up by a big publisher and I'll be interested to see how this new version fares to the previous.  I also received the last 2 books in the Casa Dracula series by Marta Acosta, The Bride at Casa Dracula and Haunted Honeymoon at Casa DraculaThe first two in this series were original and hilarious and I can't wait to see what Milagro is up to now.  

What are you reading this week?  What new releases maybe caught your eye?  Hope everyone has a great week and safe travels to all you tryptophan lovers.  


Review- Blood Justice

David Burton
Urban Fantasy
223 pages
By Light Unseen Publishing

Blood Justice begins with the brutal murder of Justine Kroft's daughter.  After her husband's death ten years prior, Justine's life has consisted of her job and her daughter, little else. So facing the loss of her daughter is devastating. After she discovers that her daughter was killed by vampires, Justine will stop at nothing, including becoming a vampire herself in order to avenge her daughter's death and destroy her killers. 

Burton did a great job of making the grief our protag feels real for me. I'm not a mother, but the despair Justine emits had me imagining such a loss easily.  Justine is driven by first grief and eventually revenge.  And I love a good revenge story.  The idea that a normal, extraordinary person can have such strength was interesting to watch. 

Once Justine crosses paths with Simone, a 350 year old vampire, and Justine decides that she wants to be turned into a vampire as well, the story hit a bit of a rough patch for me.  I enjoyed the introduction of all the new characters, but some of the character motivations weren't as sharply defined as I generally like.  For example, Simone decides she wants to help Justine avenge her daughter after their first encounter.  Simone has some revenge of her own to seek out, but she's been around for 350 years.  Why has she decided that now is finally the time to dish out justice for what was done to her?  We get some great flashbacks from Simone, but very little insight into the here and now. It's not nearly irksome enough to ruin the whole book; I just wish things were a little tighter.

Overall the book has some editing issues to work through, but the story is an interesting one and has some great ideas throughout.  Even though I found it hard to understand why some of the characters were making certain decisions I found them all interesting and easy to root for.  

Bottom Line: A good revenge plot with an interesting cast that needs a little tweaking.

2.5 stars

*Book was given to me by the author for review


Virtual Book Club Selection

I apologize for the late announcement this month!  I've so excited to finally be diving into Lilith Saintcrow's 'Jill Kismet' series. This month's book will be the series opener Night Shift

This month's discussion will be held on Friday, December 3rd and will be open all weekend long.  I hope to see you there!

Lilith Saintcrow
323 pages
Jill Kismet Series #1
Orbit Books

Not everyone can take on the things that go bump in the night.

Not everyone tries.

But Jill Kismet is not just anyone.

She's a Hunter, trained by the best - and in over her head.

Welcome to the night shift...


Review- Magic to the Bone

Devon Monk
Urban Fantasy
355 pages
Allie Beckstrom Series #1
Roc/Penguin Usa

Goodreads Synopsis:
Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control...

My Review:
I'm always excited when I'm introduced to a completely new world with a different set of rules.  Devon Monk's series opener, Magic to the Bone, is just that; a friendly handshake, a polite nod, or tip of your hat. Eh, no it's not, it's an explosion of events, a thrill ride, a shot of adrenaline to this reader's heart.

Allie Beckstrom is engaging. The compassion I ended up feeling really attached me to her character.  She's been taking care of herself since she decided as a teenager that the easy road {her father's world of money and power} was not for her.  She's tough for that, but her generosity of spirit sets her apart from other heroines merely looking to survive for themselves.  Allie doesn't become frustrated by the numerous crappy hands that fate has dealt her. She proves over and over again that she's a survivor,  and if that's not a quality to emulate then I don't know what is.
"Don't give me shit for the price I've had to pay to live my life.  I didn't get a choice about losing my mind. Magic is a heartless bitch, and she's had me by the throat for years."

Zayvion Jones is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; and all that adage. From the moment he's introduced you're constantly saying "who are you"? Besides being a perfect counterpoint for our heroine he is mystifying and entertaining to try and figure out. His character really stands in Allie's shadows, and for a powerful male {and you know he's powerful, even if you don't know what the hell he is or really anything about him}, it comes off rather endearing. 

There are so many pieces of this book I enjoyed I could be here forever discussing each of them. I'm always a fan of stories centered around magic, but Monk's fresh ideas, and inventive version of reality made Magic to the Bone completely unique. Monk's writting style was easy to slip into and the pace she sets with the story is thrilling.  Be warned: once you start you'll find it near impossible to stop.  

Bottom Line: A flawed, struggling, kick-ass heroine attached to a cunning plot...I've got a new series to be hooked on.

4.5 stars


Behind the Pen: with Marta Acosta (+giveaway)

I love interviews. But I find the artists behind the stories equalling intriguing, and I think they deserve as much limelight as their characters. So here instead of a list of questions about the story, the plot, and the characters I ask authors the same 11 questions about themselves and hopefully get a glimpse behind the pen...

Author Marta Acosta is one of the most charming and funny people I've met.  So it comes as not surprise when she turns my silly questionnaire into an excuse to cut up. I absolutely love when an author makes me actually laugh out loud (no easy feat with me).  If you missed my reviews on Happy Hour at Casa Dracula or Midnight Brunch check them out. And if you haven't had the opportunity to read anything from the Casa Dracula series then you're in luck.  Marta will be giving away a copy of her latest release Haunted Honeymooon at Casa Dracula to one lucky winner. 

Giveaway Details:

  • Please comment below by telling Marta & I: If you were an international spy or criminal, what would your name be? (it'll make sense once you read the Q&A)
  • Your comment is your entry
  • If you're a follower of this blog you receive an extra entry.
  • US & CA only
  • Contest will end Sunday, November 21st
  • Winner will be announced here Monday, November 22nd so be sure to check back!

Q1: What is the last book you read? 
I don’t remember. I do have The Complete Tales of Henry James beside me on my desk, but I’m just skimming through some of the stories since I read them all before.  Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill is on the top of my to-be-read pile.  My reading is all over the place.

Q2: If you were stuck on a desert island, what book would you like to have with you?
How long am I stuck there? If it’s five minutes, then definitely The Cat in the Hat. This book has it all: a dashing, mysterious, and charismatic stranger. Gratuitous child endangerment, unearthly creatures, fabulous fashions, terrifying situations, and an exciting conclusion. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll grip the edge of your seat.
If I’m there longer, it would probably be the collected works of some writer who I never got around to, like Proust. I hope his novels are one-tenth as deeply emotionally satisfying as The Cat in the Hat.

Q3: What is your favorite swear word?
Oh, it’s fuck. I love to swear because I love words that are emphatic and succinct. I also like words like fulminate and serendipity, which aren’t curse words, but I suppose you could use them as such if forced.  “Fulminate you to the max!” or “Get your serendipitous butt out of  my house!” “

Q4: What is your biggest pet-peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is that I would only get one biggest pet peeve. I’m very irritable, highly critical, bitter, and cranky.  Pretty much anything can get on my nerves at any moment.  Right now I’m annoyed at all the people who justify e-readers by claiming that they’re saving the environment. Yeah, swig that out of your bottled water that was shipped from Fiji. I mean, if you want an e-reader, just say so.  I don’t try to excuse my desire for an obsequious personal assistant who agrees with everything I say.

Q5: What quality do you most like in a man?
Extraordinary wealth and great senility. Really, accidents at home, like falling down the stairs or ignoring the “do not use in shower” label on a blow-dryer, happen all too often.

Q6: What quality do you most like in a woman?
I’m crazy about women who laugh a lot and pick up the tab when we go out to lunch.

Q7: What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
I would like to open a matchmaking service for wealthy old men and impoverished women authors.  I’d call it Dying-to-Meet-You Love Connections.

Q8: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I want to go to Canada, but The Husband says I would just bitch and whine about the cold so I guess I’m stuck in California.  On the plus side, gorgeous weather. On the down side, I live in fear of earthquakes.

Q9: What inspires you?
The idea that somewhere out there is a senile Canadian billionaire who tries to style his hair plugs while bathing. Of course, I still have the current husband, who refuses to style his hair with a blow-dryer.

Q10: If you could be one person (dead or alive) for a day who would you be?
I would be an international master criminal and assassin. Code name: the Spinecracker! Beside every corpse, I’d leave my trademark, which is a copy of The Cat in the Hat with its spine cracked open.  Autopsies would reveal that my victims died from asphyxiation due to a throat full of dry saltines and shredded remaindered vampire novels.

Ok, now do you get what I mean when I say "laugh out loud"?! If you haven't had a chance to read one of Marta's books I beg you to go read one, you wont be sorry.  Thank you Marta for stopping in and making me laugh so early in the morning.

MA: Thanks for letting me fulminate, Jessica! If you’re ever in need of a matchmaking service, give me a call. I think we can work together in a way that would be very beneficial to us both.


Winner Winner

Thanks to everyone for stopping in and commenting on J.A. Saare's "Behind the Pen"  The winner for this giveaway is:

"Sharon S."
Comment: "After reading the review of your book on this site I had to add it to my TBR list. "

Sharon please email me with your snail mail address and if you'd like your book in ereader or print format.  Congratulations.  

Review: Midnight Brunch

Goodreads Synopsis: Hip, funny Milagro de los Santos thinks she's finally found love and a home at the California ranch of fabulous Oswald Grant and his urbane relatives, who have a rare genetic disorder that some call vampirism. But Milagro is bewildered when she's excluded from an ancient and mysterious midnight ceremony whose participants include Oswald's unfriendly parents, a creepy family elder, and Milagro's ex-lover, the powerful and decadent Ian Ducharme. What skeletons are the vampires keeping in their designer closets? 

When Milagro's life is threatened by a rogue family member, she flees to the desert to hide. Instead of solitude, she encounters an egomaniacal actor, a partying heiress, a sly tabloid reporter, and a lavish spa full of dark secrets -- all of which might help her find a way home.

My Review:
Our heroine is really down and out this time around.  Milagro is still hilarious and yes her snarkiness is ever present, but she's faced with the daunting task of sorting through her true emotions while trying to figure out her place among her new family.  She forgets to believe in herself and therefore gets thrown into unhealthy situations away from the ranch.  I really do love when an author pushes their characters. Watching Milagro grow was everything is should be; frustrating, sad, and eventually uplifting.  

Oswald has to go away for work, and at first I was disappointed that this book wasn't all about Milagro and him finally together. (I guess I really am a romantic at heart) But I quickly decided that Milagro needed this time for herself.  She needed to go through everything in this book on her own; make the bad decisions and deal with the repercussions.  

Acosta's writing style has done nothing but improve.  The timeline is real and the flow is nearly perfect.  The new characters she introduces fit seamlessly into the story and every detail of the story has a purpose. (always appreciated by this reviewer)

Bottom Line:  A perfect next step for Milagro.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed.  

4 stars

*Book was given to me by the author for review


Coming Up...

Sunday is technically the start of a new week, but it never fells like that to me.  Rather, it always seems like the end of a week to me; you give yourself the day off, regroup and set your bearings for the week ahead. Sounds like a perfect day to fill you in on what's ahead here.
(I really just wanted an excuse to use this photo, Its humor makes me laugh)

This week we'll be reviewing Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk, Midnight Brunch by Marta Acosta and Blood Justice by local author David Burton.  

I'll be reading Suzanne McLeod's The Sweet Scent of Blood and Grave Witch by Kalayna Price before starting back up on Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series.  I have both Wanderlust & Doubleblind waiting in the wings.

Giveaways & More:
This week we'll be posting a hilarious edition of "Behind the Pen".  Author Marta Acosta has taken my ho-hum list of questions and turned it into stand-up material.  I'm sure she'll be using it during her "Last Comic Standing" auditions.  (is that even a show anymore) 
Anyway, she'll be giving away a copy of her latest release, Haunted Honeymoon at Casa Dracula, so be sure to check back for details to win.  

I'll announce the details about this month's Virtual Book Club selection Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow as well

...phew busy week.  Hope I'll see you here.


Guest Review: Hunger Games

Kristin and I have such similar thoughts on YA literature... can be great, but a lot of it isn't {even if people are screaming at you that it is} So, when she says that a YA book completely rocked, I take notice.  Suzanne Collins' series isn't new, but it's new to us here.

Kristin's Review:
Katniss Everdeen age 16 lives in District 12, otherwise known as the Seam, on the outskirts of the Capital in the country of Panem (formerly North America). Since her father died in a mining accident, it has been her responsibility to provide for her mother and 12 year old sister by illegally hunting and gathering in the woods beyond the District. People in the outlying districts are kept hungry and needy, while people in the Capital prosper. To keep folks in the districts from rebelling, which has happened before, every year an event is held; an event called The Hunger Games. When a child turns 12, every year, his or her name is added to the pot, and at the annual event called The Reaping, one boy and one girl from each district is chosen to compete in The Games. This year, Katniss’ younger sister’s name is chosen, and Katniss volunteers to go instead.

And here’s where it
really gets interesting. The Hunger Games is a YA novel and is told from Katniss’ first person perspective. Instead of limiting the scope of the story, this gives it an immediacy that ratchets up the suspense, page after page.... and boy is there suspense! You see, The Hunger Games are fight-to-the-death. There can be only one winner, and that winner will be celebrated and sent back home to their district to live in relative wealth and comfort. 

The Hunger Games are brutal, unforgiving, and cruel, and the eyes and ears of the public are everywhere at all times. Nothing is sacred, and every second counts. Unlikely friendships are forged and help comes from surprising places, but nothing will prepare you for Katniss’ journey, which, in the end, is one of courage and love.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it, and I tend to be fairly picky about YA novels. Not that there is not a lot of wonderful YA literature out there; there is! However, to be fair, most YA is written in such a way as to draw on the readers level of education and life experience, as it should be! The Hunger Games doesn’t pull its punches, but it also does not have any gratuitous violence and gore, and Ms. Collins does not, at any time, talk down to her readers. I would recommend this book for kids ages 14 and up, or possibly a fairly mature 13 year old. As a mother of three, one of which is a pre-teen, I’ll look forward to the day when one or all of my children picks this up, and I’ll also expect questions at the end. But that’s ok, because a good book does that.  If you like books about a dystopian future with glimmers of hope, and characters to fall in love with, then this is the book for you. I very highly recommended The Hunger Games for young adults and adults alike. 

5 stars


1st Quarter Report

November 1st marked the end of my first quarter, and I thought it was as good a time as any to take pause.  GIve myself a moment to think back...maybe see if I've learned anything.  
I haven't learned shit, but here's what I know:

-If Tweetdeck is on (and constantly popping into view in the right-hand corner of my screen) my concentration is shot, and I get nothing done. Twitter is a black hole, and you're lucky if you make it out alive.

-Most bizarre/hilarious search keyword to date: "store movies fucking"  ...I didn't know I was selling porn, and dying to know what on my site had googlebot thinking this is where that searcher should find their answers.

-I'm a stingy bastard when it comes to 5 stars.  So far I've handed out 5.  Grimspace, Double Cross, As Lie the Dead, Angels' Blood, Greywalker  ...but I'm more generous with 4.5s (there are 8 of those)

-When I like, and I mean really like, a writer, a story, or a hero/heroine, I gush. I'm a gusher; I admit it.  But, I'm taking pills for it, and I should be cured in 4-6 weeks.

-I probably over analyze books.

-My biggest fear is having to write a review on a book I truly didn't like. And I shudder to think about an author requested review for a book that's not very great.... 

-I'm still a bit wide-eyed when it comes to authors.  I still get excited when they respond to a tweet, or mention my review, or shout-out the website.  *blushes*  I'm such the Justin Bieber fan screaming, "Oh my god, Honey! {Insert author here} just mentioned me on her blog!" 

-I don't get "Squeeeee".  I've used it once or twice and said "what the fuck did I just say?"  

-I have an eclectic pallet. (There's my grown-up sentence for the day) I'm kind of all over the board with my book selections...and I wouldn't change it for anything. 

-I get overly excited every time a comment is made, or a new follower joins, or there's a new RSS subscriber.  If I had any rhythm, I'd do a little dance.

Thanks to everyone who visits the site.  I know I'm new and still have a lot to learn, but I hope you'll bare with me as I work out the kinks, and find my stride.   I hope that I start to hear more from you all.  I'm always here to geek with! 


Review- Boneshaker

Goodreads Synopsis: In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. 

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

My review:
To try and label Boneshaker would be a mistake.  Yes, it can be classified as sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, cult-zombie read, and it is all these things. But more importantly, Boneshaker is a tale of the human spirit.  And it should be classified as a literary classic of this millennium.

The greatest triumph of this story are it's characters.  Each character is designed and crafted with such skill and attention to purpose you nearly forget that there's a story-line that needs to be followed.  Each fresh face symbolized a separate and equally gripping emotion.  Hope, Fear, Regret, Redemption, Betrayal, Power.  No one character was alike, yet they become united on a single front; Faith. Faith that their convictions will win out; that their dreams will be fulfilled. The richness of the characters stayed with me long after the pages were spent. 

The delivery of the story was unique in that you're following 2 stories from 2 points of views that mirror one another.  And the suspense rendered by the rotters (zombies), is nearly constant.  The rotters were a wise scare tactic, and even a zombie novelist such as myself wasn't intimidated by their part in the story.  I appreciated the slow-burn of the story, but the pace does dip from time to time. 

There are so many mysteries to be solved throughout the book your mind never lets up. Priest teases you with information, but never quite lets you have the final piece of the puzzle. Most of my questions were answered by book-end, but there are several (mostly character histories) that I hope will be answered in stories to come.  Even though this story-telling approach can be frustrating at times, I admired the effect it had on the story over all.  For me, I became that much more invested.  I was desperate to discover every little piece of information I could.

Bottom Line: Move over Huck Finn, there's a new classic in the ranks and this one has steam-ships, and zombies, and pirates...oh my!

4.5 stars


Winner Winner

Thanks again to everyone who stopped and/or participated in this month's group read of Boneshaker.  I had an amazing time chatting about it.  This month's winner was:

"Damned Lies"

Congratulations!  Please email me your snail mail address & I'll send you your signed copy of Dreadnought.  

Review- Happy Hour at Casa Dracula

Goodreads Synopsis: Latina Ivy League grad Milagro de Los Santos can't find her place in the world or a man to go with it. Then one night, at a book party for her pretentious ex-boyfriend, she meets an oddly attractive man. After she is bitten while kissing him, she falls ill and is squirreled away to his family's estate to recover. Vampires don't exist in this day and age -- or do they? As Milagro falls for a fabulously inappropriate man, she finds herself caught between a family who has accepted her as one of their own and a shady organization that refuses to let the undead live and love in peace.

I don't use the word "snark" or it's colorful cousin "snarky" often, but I'm breaking that fast right now.  Milagro is the definition of "snark".  Open up your Webster and you'll find a curvy latino woman staring back at you by its description. Snark is not about being a smart alick, it's about always being on, about always having an answer. And that can only come from someone with a multi-faceted background and education...hense why I am not snarky.  Milagro is so much more than dry humor and a couple well placed one-liners.  She's someone to be envied. She makes Shakespeare references in the same breath with Latino vulgarity.  And is snappy and educated and sharp as a knife.  Acosta writes her so well, I'd swear that Milagro must be real somewhere living a full life.  And by the end of the book I felt like I knew her as well as I know any of my friends; how pathetic is that.

Acosta has taken a pretty worn-out genre and breathed fresh life into it.  I admire how she's really turned everything on a different angle.  Vampires don't have fangs, have to lather up with sunscreen like a baby on the 4th of July, and will admit "there's no such thing as vampires".  Acosta's vampires merely have a "condition"...and I laugh and I laugh.  

Actually, I laughed a lot in this book.  Acosta keeps everything light, and sets a breezy pace. Our story reads mainly like chick-lit, but the skill of the writing really sets it apart.  There's a conflict, a slightly sorted past, and the hopes of "happily ever after".  I was amazed at how quickly I read through the pages... I know you will too.

Bottom Line: I will follow Milagro anywhere, especially her next book. 

4 stars

*Book was given to me by the author for review


Behind the Pen: with J.A. Saare (+giveaway)

I love interviews.  But I find the artists behind the stories equaling intriguing, and I think they deserve as much limelight as their characters. So here instead of a list of questions about the story, the plot, and the characters I ask authors the same 11 questions about themselves and hopefully get a glimpse behind the pen...

I recently read/devoured Dead, Undead, or Somewhere In Between and I instantly wanted to know more about the artist behind the story.  So, I was thrilled when Jaime agreed to answer my silly questionnaire.  If you're unfamiliar with the book you can read my review here. And because I enjoyed it so much, I'll be giving away a copy to one lucky commenter.  

Giveaway Details:

  • US and CA only
  • Your comment is your entry
  • If you're a follower of the site you get an extra entry
  • Book can be ebook or print...your pick
  • Contest will end Sunday Nov 14th
  • Winner will be announced here Monday Nov 15th so be sure to check back!

Q1: What is the last book you read?
Fallen by Lauren Kate. How can you possibly deny that beautiful cover?  Not to mention, fallen angels are the “in” thing and the book was a captivating read.  I have Torment here, waiting for time in my reading chair.  I’m interested to learn where things go.

Q2: If you were stuck on a desert island, what book would you like to have with you?
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  It has become my favorite book.  The author writes in such a simplistic fashion, but the characters are written in such a way that you can’t let them go.  Though the title, Never Let Me Go, isn’t intended for a reader to take literally, that’s how the book is for me. I just can’t seem to let the damned thing go.

Q3: What is your favorite swear word?
Any variation of the versatile word fuck.  Fuck me.  Fucking hell.  Fucking shit. I’m fucked. If I can apply it into a sentence, I often do.  If my brood picks up on my poor language skills, they are going to make the Osbournes look like the Cleavers.

Q4: What is your biggest pet-peeve?
Mean people.  We live in a world where there is already so much hate being spread around. Why add to that?  I’m a tad snarky here and there, but I’d never intentionally do something to hurt someone else.  I don’t understand why some people feel the need to tear others down.

Q5: What quality do you most like in a man?
A quirky sense of humor.  My poor husband has to have that or he couldn’t deal with me. *grin*  I think that’s why we have what we do with each other.  I can say something totally off the wall, and he’ll come back with something I don’t expect.  It keeps things interesting.

Q6: What quality do you most like in a woman?
Compassion.  By design, many women are nurturers.  The world needs more of that.

Q7: What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
That’s a toughie!  Originally I wanted to become a teacher.  Now I think I’d like to do something to entertain.  Perhaps theater.  Oddly enough, I’m embarrassingly uncomfortable at being the center of attention, so maybe I should consider doing something else -- like being a door greeter at Wal-Mart or something.  I worked in an adult video store in college and enjoyed it very much, so maybe I could work in a video store.  I love talking movies with people (or just talking to people in general).
Boy, don’t I sound ambitious?

Q8: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’d love to travel and visit other places, especially Italy as my husband is Italian and has family there, but as far as living somewhere, I think I’ll stick with Alabama.  I was born here, love it here, and can’t envision myself anywhere else.  Boring, I know, but this is my home, and I don’t have any inclination to leave.

Q9: What inspires you?
My children, cornball as that sounds.  I never knew what it meant to truly love, fear, or care for something more than myself until they were born.  They serve as a constant reminder that there can be good in the face of bad, and even when I’m gone, a part of me will remain. 

Q10: If you could be one person (dead or alive) for a day who would you be?
Edgar Allen Poe.  I would love to delve into his mind for a day, although I’m fairly certain I might be disturbed at what I found.  He seemed to be such a complex man, and I would have loved to know more about his method.

Q11: Mac or PC?
As much as I wish I was a cool “Mac” person, I own and love my PC.  I’m not very good with technology and the way Mac is designed and works frightens me. ;-)
Thanks so much for having me on the blog! It was great to visit and chat with you!