Review – Red Blooded (Jessica McClain #4)

red bloodedWell, this is awkward.  I saw this one on Goodreads and it looked like many of my friends liked it.  And I love urban fantasy so it was a no brainer for me.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go as planned.

To be perfectly honest I can’t even write a good synopsis of the story.  I broke one of my cardinal rules and read a series out-of-order.  Since I haven’t read books 1-3 I have none of the background for the characters.  Usually, though, an author will do at least some recapping that allows a new reader to understand most of what is happening (and that will hopefully encourage them to go back and read the earlier books).  If the author did that here I missed it.  All I know is that for this story the main character, Jessica, goes to hell to try to save her brother.  Then other stuff happens.  I don’t understand why he was there and there was so little world building that I have no idea why it’s so hard to get there to go after him.  I do know there are demons, goddesses, shapeshifters (including wolves), vampires and witches.  What kind of powers do they have?  Beats me.  They can fight and there was shifting and magical circles.  Do they get along?  Couldn’t tell you.  Who are the bad guys?  I’ve got nothing.  I think it’s supposed to be Satan but who knows.  Seriously, that’s all I got out of this.

One of my biggest frustrations was Jessica herself.  She was kind of annoying.  Making bad decisions and talking way too much.  Her love interest…God help me I can’t even remember his name.  How sad is that?  Rourke?  Is that it?  Anyway, I felt no connection between them.  At least a good love story would’ve made this more enjoyable.  When they were alone all I heard was crickets.

Sorry to say I’ve got to give this one 2/5 stars and that 2nd star is kind of generous on the assumption I would have liked this more if I had read books 1-3.

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

 

Review – Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2)

fool moonHarry Dresden – Wizard – is back for the 2nd installment of the Dresden Files.  He’s still having money issues and most of his associates don’t really trust him because of the events in book one.  Now he’s being called in to help investigate a murder.  The problem is that he’s also a suspect and as usual things aren’t as they seem.

I am starting to really love this series.  Harry is a strong character and the supporting cast is well-rounded with good and bag guys, friends and foes.  The world building is exceptional with interesting magical elements.  While reading you will find yourself laughing out loud, wincing in sympathetic pain and yelling at one character or another.

But, it’s not perfect and I really want to continue to see improvement in future books (I better since I’ve already invested in the entire series.  Oy!)

The first thing that kind of sticks out is that Harry, while an experienced wizard, makes some dumb decisions.  Now, I loved the book and I want you to read it so no spoilers.  But, come on, Harry.  What are you thinking?  And as a side note – quit blaming yourself for every little bad thing that happens to those around you.  It’s endearing at first but then becomes almost narcissistic.  The world doesn’t revolve around you.

Harry is also a chauvinist.  I mentioned it in my review of book one and it’s even more evident now.  I’m giving him (and the author) a lot of leeway here with a few more books to get it right.  I think he deserves some time as I don’t sense any malice in his actions or even that he fully understands how insulting he can be.  There are scenes where he may be learning from his mistakes and starting to treat the women around him as equals.  I hope so.

Overall an enjoyable book full of great fun and highly recommended.  4/5 stars.

Review – Bayou Moon (The Edge #2)

bayou moonIlona Andrews knows how to write a strong female character.  That is one of the things I love about reading her books.  Bayou Moon, the second book in The Edge series, gives us Cerise Mar.  She is the de facto leader of her family who own a lot of land in the swamps of the Edge.  They are embroiled in a Hatfield and McCoy type feud with another clan, the Sheeriles.  Between her family’s enemies and the magical forces that want something from her, there is a lot to deal with – especially since her parents were just kidnapped and the Sheeriles have set up camp in her grandparent’s old house.  Insert William.  Remember him from Book One?  He’s the changeling outsider who is/was friends with Declan.  He has been recruited to find and kill the Spider (who happens to be looking for Cerise).  They have to work together to fight their common enemies.

This is another great story with well written characters and strong world building.  For most of the pages you feel that you are deep in the swamp with Cerise and William.  It’s muggy, dirty and dangerous.  There are natural and magical enemies all around.  Cerise’s magic is close enough to what we already know of this world but with an interesting twist.  William is a much more rounded character than in book one and we learn some of his backstory and how he came to be William the Wolf.  I liked him in On the Edge and I like him even more now.

So, why am I only giving this 4/5 stars?  Beats me.  Something didn’t click.  Something I can’t articulate.  The writing is great, the characters pull you in and the story held my interest.  But…I don’t know.  It seemed a little long at 447 pages (and this is coming from someone who loves big books).  Longer than other urban fantasies at least.  Maybe it could have been pared down.  For me, the least favorite part of this world is The Weird (with full magic).  Maybe I don’t know enough about it since the books focus on The Edge (and I live in the Broken, duh).  I wonder if books three or four will explore the Weird more fully?  I’ll tell you soon as I plan to finish them ASAP.  You can’t go wrong with Ilona Andrews.

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.