Archive | September 2013

Review – The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giverI wasn’t sure what to expect when I borrowed The Giver from my library’s e-book collection.  It had been on my ‘to read’ list for quite a while but I never made it a priority.  “It’s a children’s book.  Will I really get anything from reading it?”  I wish I hadn’t waited so long as this book is a treasure.

SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD:

Jonas is about to turn twelve.  In his world, you are given your assignment at your 12th year ceremony.  The elders have watched you and determined your skills so that you can be trained to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc.  As Jonas watches all of his friends getting their assignments, he realizes that they have skipped him.  At the end of the ceremony, he is called forward and told that he has been selected as the next Giver, a rare honor.  Unsure what this means, Jonas begins his training the following day.

The world that Lois Lowry has created may seem ideal to many.  Everyone is basically equal and there is little to no discord among the people.  In fact, no one really knows about pain and suffering.  Yes, you might slam your finger in the door but someone will come right over to give you pain relief.  But, true pain is unknown.  War, famine, political unrest – none of these exist in this world.

What do you give up for this utopia?  Pretty much all free will.  The government tells you when to play, what you are going to do with your life, who will be your mate.  And, by mate, I simply mean companion as you are also required to take pills that eliminate all of your ‘urges’.

I avoid online political discussions at all costs as I think those are best left for debate in person.  However, I do believe that no matter your political leanings, The Giver is thought-provoking.  If we are going to give the government power over certain aspects of our lives, we should consider the long-term benefits and dangers.  I’m sure there are those that have no issue with government control if it means peace.  Others would fight to the death to avoid living under someone else’s thumb.

The Giver is the person who holds all of the negative memories of the world.  He is charged with remembering what it is to die during a war or freeze to death during an avalanche.  Yes, he keeps some good memories too but the weight of the negative ones is a hardship few can endure.

Jonas’ story doesn’t have a happy ending.  If you want that, you should go read some Dr. Seuss.

5/5 stars for a book I will give to all of my nieces and nephews.

Review – Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

bound by nightBound by Night is the first book in the new Larissa Ione series – MoonBound Clan Vampires.

Riker, a member of the MoonBound Clan, lost his mate twenty years ago while she was a slave for the Martin family.  Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rebelled and she was horribly injured.  While Riker wants revenge for his mate’s death and for all of the wrongs done by the Martin family, he also needs Nicole’s help to prevent war with another vampire clan.

This is an enjoyable and fairly easy book to read.  Overall, the writing works well and the story flows.  Larissa Ione has created a world with a lot of tension between vampires and humans.  While I liked some of the twists (vampires out and about during the day), I was a little unclear about some of the details regarding their origin and abilities.

The connection between Riker and Nicole was the main storyline.  They are a good couple and have a lot of chemistry (i.e. it’s pretty hot).  But, sometimes I felt that their continued gravitation towards each other didn’t make sense in a particular moment.  Nicole has been terrified of vampires since the night she was attacked and she seemed to accept his attentions (cough) pretty easily after a few false starts.  Riker has hated the Martin family for over twenty years and his reluctance to become involved with her seemed a little more realistic.

I would recommend this one for fans of PNR and of Larissa Ione.  There is a good story here and a lot of heat between the characters.  It’s definitely a setup novel for future books in the series and I can already pick out the other members of the clan who will find love in future installments.

3.5/5 stars.  Thank you to the publisher for providing an E-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Pretty When She Destroys by Rhiannon Frater

pretty when she destroysPretty When She Destroys is the final installment in the Pretty When She Dies trilogy and it does not disappoint.

Amaliya, Cian, Samantha, Jeff and the rest of the gang are back for their final battle with the Summoner.

No spoilers but I will tell you that this didn’t go as I expected.  It’s always a good thing when an author can shock you with twists and turns.

Amaliya is a complicated woman.  She cares deeply about those close to her and is willing to do whatever (!) it takes to keep them safe.  Her relationship with Cian has given her an anchor and their love is palpable.  One conversation did make me take a step back and look closer at them.  Honestly, I had to remind myself that Amaliya is very different from me and it makes sense that she might have much different boundaries in her relationship with Cian.  I’m still somewhat surprised but they are a great couple.

Boy, has Samantha grown on me since the first book.  I didn’t care for her very much when she was Little Miss Perky.  Now, she is one tough cookie and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s nice to see her relationship with Jeff as a contrast to Amaliya and Cian.  And, of course, I loved that the friendship between Amaliya and Samantha has grown even stronger.  They are interconnected and to see them really start to trust and lean on each other was special.

I am sad to see the end of the series but what a ride it has been.  5/5 stars.

Review – Dying is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann

dying is my businessPrior to writing this review, I looking through my notes and status updates while reading. Pretty early on I made the note: “Needs to get moving.” Boy, did Nicholas Kaufmann do just that!

Dying is My Business starts out almost as a basic thriller with Trent being the muscle for his boss, Underwood. He’s bringing in someone who has information that Underwood needs. Pretty quickly we learn that Trent isn’t like other thugs. For one thing, he can’t be killed. If he is shot, stabbed or drowned, his body will come back by sucking out the life force of the person nearest him. Trent also seems to have a conscience. He works for Underwood simply because he doesn’t really know anyone else and he believes Underwood can help him find out about himself. Trent has no memory beyond a year ago and is desperate for answers.

When Trent is sent on the assignment to steal the antique box, everything changes. He meets a group of people that slowly become his friends. And, his eyes are opened to the supernatural elements in the world around him – witches, vampires, shapeshifters/wolves, gargoyles and more.

I really, really liked this story. The author did a good job of humanizing Trent and making us pull for him. I loved that we didn’t get all the answers but we learned a lot about this world and the creatures who inhabit it. For the most part, the good guys aren’t all good and the bad guys aren’t all bad. These shades of gray make the characters more interesting and believable. The budding friendship between Trent and the other members of the group was an important part of his growth and affected his decisions. The author did a nice job depicting the struggle between making the best decision for yourself and the best decision for someone else. And, I appreciated that there were feelings between Trent and Bethany but neither of them pushed it (which is how it should really happen when people are caught up in a life or death situation.)

4.5/5 stars and a must read!

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

Review – The Purge by Rhiannon Frater

the purgeEpisode 9 of the In Darkness We Must Abide serial was taut with emotion and gave us revelations about Vanora’s fate.

If you’ve read the prior episodes you know that Vanora has experienced great loss in the past year. It doesn’t appear that things are going to get any easier for her. Since I don’t want to give anything away, I’ll just share a few of my favorite quotes with you:

“Honey, demons were never angels. We didn’t fall. We’ve always been demons.”

“I think you should lay down for a little bit,” he said at last. “You look far too pale”…….”I AM albino.”

“My brother and sister have been obsessed with our ages and that you’re a vampire, but I just can’t care about those things. Not anymore. I wasted too much time in Austin away from a brother who loved me and now he’s gone. I may lose my sister before all of this is over. I may lose you. I might lose my own life. No more regrets. No more running away. Okay?”

I loved the addition of an Incubus and the mythology of the Seven Sisters and The Fates. The next episode cannot come soon enough.

5/5 stars. I recommend this for everyone who enjoys dark stories including vampires and other creatures. The serial format makes the story even more interesting. Check it out!!

Thank you to the author for providing an e-book as part of the Readalong!

Welcome to the IDWMA Scavenger Hunt in order to win an e-copy of an episode of your choice you must find the blog that features the phrase GET READY FOR THE PURGE in their review. Once you find that blog enter in the blog name on the Rafflecopter. Here are the links of the participating blogs:

www.parajunkee.com

http://contagiousreads.com

http://offbeatvagabond.blogspot.com/

http://mybookaddiction.com/

http://unabridgedbookshelf.blogspot.com/

http://inlibrisveritas.wordpress.com/

https://lowcountrybooklover.com/

 

Review – Something Borrowed, Someone Dead by M.C. Beaton

sbsdOccasionally I like to add a cozy mystery to my reading list.  I find them easy to read and relaxing.  The problem is that so many of the series have become stale.  So, when I saw Something Borrowed, Someone Dead as a Goodreads – Firstreads option I thought it might be a winner.  It is part of a series (Agatha Raisin #24) but since I had not read any of the prior books, the characters and story would be new to me.

Alas, it just wasn’t mean to be.

From Goodreads: “Gloria French was a jolly widow with dyed blonde hair, a raucous laugh and rosy cheeks. When she first moved from London to the charming Cotswolds hills, she was heartily welcomed.  She seemed a do-gooder par excellence, raising funds for the church and caring for the elderly.  But she had a nasty habit of borrowing things and not giving them back, just small things, a teapot here, a set of silverware there.  So it’s quite the shock when she is found dead, murdered by a poisoned bottle of elderberry wine.  Afraid the murder will be a blight on the small town, Parish councillor, Jerry Tarrant, hires private detective Agatha Raisin to track down the murderer.  But the village is secretive and the residents resent Agatha’s investigation. Of course that doesn’t stop the ever-persistent Agatha from investigating and sticking her nose where no one wants it—especially as the suspect list grows. And, as if it isn’t enough that Agatha’s ex has reentered the picture, the murderer is now targeting Agatha!”

The main issue with SBSD is that absolutely no one is likeable.  Agatha is petty, jealous, manipulative, vain and, in some cases, very, very stupid.  All of the other characters have such major character flaws that you never pull for any of them (well, in some cases I did pull for the murderer to get them…does that count?)

And, the story itself was pretty weak.  I wasn’t interested in the details after reading about 30%.  For the most part I just wanted it to end.

Sorry guys, I cannot recommend this one.  1.5/5 (only because I’ve read worse books recently if you can believe it).  Thank you to Goodreads for providing this ARC through the Firstreads program.

Review – The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

The lost princeLet’s face it – Julie Kagawa is one of the best storytellers in the YA world right now. She somehow balances character development and world building while giving us an action and emotion packed story. Anger, love, friendship, heartbreak and laughter are all within the pages of her novels.

Her Iron Fey series included some of my favorite reading moments last year. The Lost Prince – Call of the Forgotten #1 is set in the Iron Fey world but focuses primarily on Ethan Chase, the brother of the Iron Queen, Meghan. If you remember from the earlier series, Ethan has always had the sight (ability to see the fey) and was kidnapped by them at a young age. Meghan’s story started with her quest to save him. Ethan has become a loner and avoids the fey at all cost. He is also pretty bitter about Meghan’s absence in their lives now that she lives in the Iron Realm.

The bad news for Ethan is that the fey haven’t forgotten about him and he is drawn back into their world when he discovers a half-breed friend is missing. Ethan’s fight to find and save his friend takes him on a dangerous path and, once again, forces him to face that he isn’t “normal”.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Prince. At first I wasn’t sure that Ethan is as strong a protagonist as Meghan and honestly, I’m still not 100% convinced. BUT – through the story, you do start to understand the struggle he has had for a normal life while dealing with the loss of his sister. His anger with Ash (for taking her away, at least in his mind) was palpable. Kenzie, Ethan’s love interest, is someone I want to know even more. She has a complex life and it will be interesting to see where JK takes her.

Now onto some minor spoilers so I can have a little fun discussing my favorite parts:

– We do get a minor update on Meghan and Ash. They are still living as husband and wife in the Iron Realm. And….

– They have a son, Keirran. Ethan not only learns that he has a nephew but because of the way time works in Nevernever, Keirran is his age (while Meghan and Ash still look like teenagers themselves as they are basically immortal.) Keirran has a lot of power. He is part human, part Iron Fey and part Winter Fey (from his father). This power and the prophecy about his future makes everyone nervous. While no one tells Ethan their concerns, he does pick up on it during his time in the Nevernever. For some reason, Meghan wanted to keep Keirran and Ethan apart…..

Keirran was my favorite character in The Lost Prince and I’m glad to see more of him coming in The Iron Traitor. But, I just know JK is going to break my heart. The blossoming friendship between Ethan and Keirran combined with the ‘unknown’ prophecy makes me a very nervous reader. And, Kenzie has a lot to overcome as well to get to a potential HEA.

4.5/5 stars. A wonderful start to the series but I had to hold out an extra 1/2 star as Julie Kagawa always hits her storytelling stride with the 2nd book (which I have already started by the way – oh, the feels!)