Review – Revival by Stephen King

revival“Home is where they want you to stay longer.”

I finished Revival yesterday and am no closer to being able to articulate my thoughts about this ‘return to horror’ by Stephen King.  There are so many quotes that I want to include for you.  So, rather than force a synopsis and review, I’ve decided to just give you some hashtags that might work.

#oldschoolstephenking

#losingmyreligion

#itselectric

#firstlove

#rockandroll

#comingofage

#family

#monkeyonyourback

#carnies

#everychoicehasconsequences

#whatsontheotherside

#antsantsants

#mother

5/5 stars and I’m pretty sure I’ll need a re-read to truly understand this one.

Review – Son of a Witch (The Wicked Years #2) by Gregory Maguire

son of a witch2 months and 15 days.  That’s how long it took me to get through Son of a Witch.  Considering I average about a book every 2-3 days, that tells you something.

I adored Wicked and immediately bought this one to continue the story.  It took me a while to figure out why it didn’t click with me.  The biggest reason is that Elphaba was the driving force of Wicked.  I felt a kinship with her and cared what happened.  Unfortunately, I really could care less about Liir.  Here’s the rub – I think the writer intends for us to feel this way.  Liir considers himself an outsider who doesn’t fit in anywhere and really has almost no purpose in life.  By creating that character and using him as the protagonist, the author left us with no one to pull for.

It’s clear there are political and societal undertones to all of these books but while it was natural and drove the story in Wicked, it seemed forced here.  There were pockets of action surrounded by pages upon pages of…nothing.  Even appearances by Glinda and the Scarecrow can’t save it.

Sad to say I’m giving this one 2/5 stars.  If I hadn’t already purchased book three I’d probably stop here.

Review – Burn For Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews

burn for meBurn for Me, or The Avon Book, is the first in a new series by Ilona Andrews.  Since Ilona writes one of my favorite series (Kate Daniels), I was excited but nervous.  What if it didn’t live up to expectations?

Let’s just get this out-of-the-way – the cover is, well, crap.  I’ve seen pictures of a supposed alternate cover and it’s hard to believe the publisher chose this one.  Even some of the fan art that is out there would better portray the story.  But, please, please, please.  Do not let the cover deter you from reading BFM.  It does no justice to the excellent story and writing within the pages.

Ilona Andrews always delivers on world building and even though this is only book one we have learned tons about the magic of this world.  Basically, scientists discovered a serum that would bring out natural magical talents in the 1800′s.  Since then many families with these abilities have bred themselves to increase power.  There are different levels of power with the highest being Prime.

The characters are the stars.  Nevada is a private detective who now owns her family firm whose mortgage is held by another magical family.  She has minor magical abilities and can determine when someone is lying or truthful.  She is forced by her contract to hunt for a Prime, Adam, who is using his pyrokinetic power to start fires around the city.  Mad Rogan is the head of a powerful house whose telekinetic abilities are so strong that he is feared by almost everyone.  They have to work together to try to take down Adam before he destroys the city. Secondary characters including Nevada’s family are well written and add a lot of texture to the story.

This is urban fantasy at its best.  If you’re expecting a bodice ripper, think again.  It’s all about the characters and their world.  The love story takes a back seat and that works fine for me.

5/5 stars and very highly recommended.  Get The Avon Book as soon as you can!  Now, excuse me while I go look up the expected publication date of book two so I can start obsessing about it.

Review – Libriomancer (Magic ex Libris #1) by Jim Hines

libriomancerLibriomancer has been on my “maybe one day” shelf for quite a while.  With so many other books to read, I had honestly kind of forgotten about the series.  But then I read a blog post by the author (where he endeared himself to almost every blogger who reviews books) and decided I had to purchase this one immediately.  My fingers were crossed that I would like the book as much as I was starting to like the author.  Thankfully it was a success.

Isaac is a libriomancer – which means his magic is the ability to reach into books and pull out items like phasers, swords and potions.  The Porters, a secret society, are tasked with keeping magic a secret from the general public.  Someone has declared war against the Porters and it’s up to Isaac to save the day.

Hines did a great job starting to build this magical world.  There are libriomancers, vampires, dryads, robots (kind of)  and more.  For a nerd like me the amount of book loving in the story was a treat.  It’s a geek’s fantasy with references to Dr. Who, Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek.  He incorporates real books like Dracula, Oz, and even the more recent Feed by Mira Grant. But he also creates a few new books for the story (can I just say these books sound awesome and someone should write them?)

As with most urban fantasies, the characters are most important.  Since it’s book one, there is still some work to be done but overall Hines was able to give us a strong foundation for Isaac, the Porters and Lena, the dryad love interest.  Smudge, a magical spider, is surprisingly effective as a secondary character and somehow works.  I can’t believe I actually liked a spider?!?!?

A wonderful start to this series and highly recommended for fans of Urban Fantasy and for book lovers in general.  4/5 stars.

Review – The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

the art of racing in the rainThis was one of my favorite reads this year.  Not only because I love dogs (which I do) but also because it was a surprise gift from my husband.

Enzo is a dog.  He was born on a farm to a mean old rancher.  His mom was a “heavy bitch of a lab” but he wasn’t sure about his dad.  The rancher would tell prospective buyers that he was half shepherd or poodle so that people would think he would be smart.  Enzo believed his dad was a tough terrier that walked the farm.

So begins Enzo’s story.  The entire book is written from his perspective.  His early life with Denny (a race car driver), the addition of a wife a child and a lot of time spent talking about the circle of life.

I tend to pick books that are relaxing or that will make me laugh.  So I was more than a little nervous when I realized that this was probably going to include the death of a dog.  (Guys, that’s not a spoiler, it’s pop fiction.  The dog always dies (see: Marley and Me).)  However, I was happily surprised when I spent most pages laughing at something Enzo said or a picture that he painted.  You see, he wants to be a man and he feels that only two things are holding him back – lack of opposable thumbs and a tongue that is too large and unwieldy to form words.  And, don’t get him started on why it’s ridiculous that monkeys are considered closest to man in the evolutionary chain.  Enzo knows all of this because he watches too much television including lots of documentaries on the Discovery Channel.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is close to a 5-star read for me.  Unfortunately, I did have to reduce by one because of a pet peeve.  I love dogs and this could’ve been a spectacular book.  But…there are a couple of plot points that are unnecessary.  They were added to create conflict and evoke an emotion.  That’s the writer’s job.  Fine.  But, don’t be manipulative.  And there were a few times that I felt yucky because I knew that a choice was made to bring out a feeling that was unnecessary and disconcerting.  The story would have been better served by keeping it more realistic and not having people act so horrible that you can’t stay invested.

Overall this is a truly wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

Review – Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7) by Patricia Briggs

frost burnedDear Patty,

I just wanted to say “Thank you”.  When I’m feeling sad or just tired, I know that I can pull out one of your books and everything will be all right.

The Mercy Thompson series is one of my favorite pick-me-ups and you outdid yourself with Frost Burned.  The world you’ve built feels real and we’ve grown to love the characters.  I especially enjoyed the addition of someone from the Alpha & Omega series.  He should stay for a while in the Tri-Cities area.

Somehow you’ve managed to make each installment fresh and new.  Mercy was able to, once again, show why she is one of the strongest women in Urban Fantasy.  Her loyalty to the pack is undeniable.  Adam deserves that loyalty.  So do many of the other pack members except the females.  A large part of me wants you to quit allowing them to hate on her when it’s not deserved.  But, you’ve found a way to make me understand why they dislike one of my favorite fictional people.  Even though I don’t agree, I get that they are jealous and threatened.  Not in the typical ‘mean girl’ fashion (although I’m sure there is some of that) but because she’s different.  And her differences are threatening to them.  Can we just find one female other than Jesse that likes Mercy?  I think Sylvia might be a good contender.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say.  Just thank you.  And, keep writing.  It helps me stay sane and keeps me out of trouble.

Mary

P.S. I gave this book 5 stars.  You deserve it.

Review – Rocky Mountain Miracle by Christine Feehan

Rocky Mountain MiracleChristmas is my favorite time of year and I love to read short stories and novellas set in the most wonderful time of the year.

From Goodreads: “When Cole Steele, a womanizer rumored to have killed his father, meets Maia Armstrong, a veterinarian rumored to practice magic, the sizzling romance could melt all the snow on his Wyoming ranch. And when an injured horse brings them together, Cole can’t help but believe that Maia casts spells on animals—and men. What else could explain the burning passion he feels for her and the thawing of his heart just in time for Christmas?”  

I really wanted to like Rocky Mountain Miracle.  But, if I’m being perfectly honest, it was a 1-star read for me until about 50% in.  The characters were clichéd (bad boy love interest, Mary Sue who just can’t resist him, bad guys who are cartoonish because they have no redeeming qualities).  The story itself was nothing really special.  And, surprisingly, the writing wasn’t quite working for me.  Which was unexpected because I’ve read Christine Feehan before and liked her writing.

After the mid-point, the story itself did pick up.  The characters became a little more believable.  And, I just relaxed and went with it.

Overall, I’d give this one 2.5/5 stars.  And, if you enjoy romance, it’s worth a shot.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.