Archive | May 2014

Review – Zombie Tales from Dead Worlds by Rhiannon Frater

zombie talesZombie Tales from Dead Worlds is the best set of zombie short stories / novellas that I’ve read.  In most collections, you get some great ones, some that are okay and others that are just plain stinkers.  Not so with Zombie Tales.  Every story is unique and each one is a winner.

“The Blanket” – 5/5 stars – a little boy hiding during a zombie attack.  A great start to the book.  I was left with one word: “Whoa”!

“The Scavengers” – 5/5 stars – such a different take on the zombie story.  What is a zombie?  Do they have feelings?  Can they be a part of the new world?

“The Building” – 5/5 stars – another with a young protagonist.  While Letty wasn’t easy to like (what teenage girl is?), you could put yourself into her shoes and feel her struggle with this life.  An unexpected ending that is pretty realistic when you think about it.

“The Necromancer” – 5/5 stars and my favorite of the group – Necromancers help control the zombies in this world.  When Fabiola is called to assist a settlement that has been attacked, she finds more than she bargained for.  Tons of character development with a little bit of a love story within 29 pages.  I was left wanting more.

“The Race” – 4/5 stars – while this was my least favorite, it was still solid.  Again, think about what would happen in the real world of the zombie apocalypse.  It brings out the best and the worst of people.  This story showcases some of the worst.  Not overtly evil people.  Just normal people who don’t choose to do the right thing and then pay for it.

“The False Start” – 5/5 stars – a look at the beginning of a zombie apocalypse.  Lots of running.

If you are into zombie stories, you cannot go wrong with this one.  Highly recommended.

Thank you to the author for providing an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Dreamfever (Fever #4) by Karen Marie Moning

dreamfeverI have 6 books on my “currently reading” list.  Each night I switch back and forth between them because none are fully holding my interest.  They aren’t bad.  Just not special.  I think my problem is that I recently read….Dreamfever.

You see, Dreamfever is close to being a perfect book for me.  It’s full of action but not lacking any emotion.  It begins right where Faefever left off with Mac in the clutches of the Unseelie.  Then, things start happening.  Moning is an unbelievable storyteller who is quite devious with the cliffhangers.  Yes, this book ends with one as well that is even more nerve-wracking.

At this point in the review, I type a sentence and then backspace.  Everything becomes a spoiler which is unacceptable since you must read the Fever series if you haven’t.  And, if you have, well then you know that:

___________ saved _________ by __________ into the ________ and then _________ to the __________.

__________ __________ _____________ to bring her back and she ___________ ___________ for it.

__________ fights ___________ over and over.

__________ has some secrets.

__________ also has a lot of secrets.

__________ dies.

Favorite quotes:

“Oh ye of little faith. Not for IYD… But you didn’t even try.”   (Heartbreaking when Mac realizes this.)

“The nerve. Threatening you and not being precise about it.”

“See me when you look at me.”

Seriously, friends, if you like urban fantasy then this is a must read.  5/5 stars.

 

Review – River Marked (Mercy Thompson #6) by Patricia Briggs

river markedWell, hmmmm….

I am in love with the Mercy Thompson series.  So, picking up this one was like having a night out with a good friend.  But, you know how sometimes you have dinner and the conversation is a little stilted.  There is nothing overtly wrong but things just don’t flow like they usually do.  Maybe you’re just tired or in a bad mood but you didn’t have as good a time as normal.

River Marked was like that.  Enjoyable, well written, a good story featuring Mercy and Adam.  Yet, something was missing for me.  When I read the cover blurb, I expected this one to be a favorite.  The pack and their treatment of Mercy have gotten a little stale.  With our lovebirds on their honeymoon, I knew the pack politics would be kept to a minimum.  And I was right.  There were only a few scenes featuring Darryl, Ben, Warren and the others.  The main fae characters and Stefan are part of the story but really only in the background.

What I liked:

– The wedding.  No spoilers.  Brought tears to my eyes.  Och, here I go again with the crying.

– Mercy and Adam’s relationship.  This is why I read Urban Fantasy.  They’ve worked hard to build their mate bond and no one is going to tear it apart.  Now they can be tender with each other and express their feelings.  I loved it.

– Stefan’s scenes.  He is a favorite of mine.  There is something about this troubled vampire that speaks to me.

What didn’t work so well:

– The big bad.  Again, no spoilers but I didn’t feel it this time.  If a scaredy-cat like me wasn’t frightened, it’s not a good big bad.

– Well, shoot, I missed the pack.  There.  I said it.

Overall, this is a good book and some fans of the series are sure to absolutely love it.  For me, it wasn’t quite as spectacular as the others.  4/5 stars.

 

Review – My Life As A White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

white trash zombieI’ve seen this book around for a while and knew that I had to get to it eventually.  You see, I am obsessed with zombie stories.  And I grew up in SC.  Now, now.  I’m not saying everyone from SC is white trash.  Quite the contrary.  I’ve had multiple conversations with friends about the differences between high falutin, country, good ol’ boy, redneck and white trash (aka trailer trash).  And, truth be told, in many cases I’d rather hang out with someone considered white trash than someone high falutin.

Diana Rowland did a good job of describing the most common version of white trash without making it offensive and over-the-top.  Angel lives in a trailer with her alcoholic father.  Their driveway is covered in empty, smashed beer cans.  The house is dirty and neither of them care.  Angel moves from one minimum wage job to another.  She and her redneck boyfriend do drugs recreationally and Angel has been busted for buying a stolen car.

But, one night something happens to Angel and the world becomes a different place.  After surviving this something (her memory is unclear at this point), she gets a job working in a morgue through an anonymous benefactor.  While assisting with autopsies, she finds that she is attracted to the brains.  Yum.

A reader could just focus on the zombie good-ness and be fully entertained.  There is much love for brains, zombie life problems and a good story to go along with it.  But, there is more to MLAAWTZ.  Rowland has given Angel heart.  She is definitely white trash but she wants to be better.  Once she sees that it’s possible and that she can make real, non-white trash friends, her life moves in a new direction.  Cheesy as it sounds, this is a story about hope and working with the hand you are dealt.  Angel is someone to root for.  She is just like so many people I’ve known in my life who’ve been given a raw deal and they’ve turned it around.  I loved how Rowland built this character within a fun story.

4/5 stars for a good start to the series.  Can’t wait to read the next one.

Review – Faefever (Fever #3) by Karen Marie Moning

faefeverI recently wrote a review of a cozy mystery and my biggest complaint was that the main character wasn’t realistic.  A reader cannot say that about MacKayla Lane.  She is one of the most realistic female characters I’ve read in a long time.  She is rightfully the star of the Fever books.  It doesn’t hurt that you also get Jericho Barrons and V’lane as part of the deal.

“Nobody looks good in their darkest hour.”  When we met Mac in the first book she was shallow and vain.  The loss of her sister began a domino effect of change not only to her personality but even her physical being.  While she still enjoys dressing up and looking good, she isn’t defined by her looks.  Most days she isn’t at her best.  And, that’s okay.

“It went about as well as train wrecks do.”  Good intentions with bad results.  Mac is doing the best she can to find the Sinsar Dubh and solve her sister’s murder.  But every decision seems to have unexpected and unintended repercussions.  Catch a break?  Not Mac.

The Fever series took a decidedly darker turn in Faefever (especially the second half).  Does Mac have any allies?  It is sometimes unclear.  Everyone around her seems to have an ulterior motive and no one is looking out for Mac.  That knowledge is hard on her.  Trusting no one and always scheming to stay ahead of them.  Her world is getting more complicated and dangerous.  Yet, she gets up every day, puts a scarf in her hair and works towards her goals.  I grew to love Mac within the pages of Faefever.

While there is a lot of darkness in this installation, there is also laughter.  Mac creating her Mac-Halo to protect herself from the Shades.  Then testing it out by doing some dance-fighting to “Bad Moon Rising”.  A good writer can break up the darkness naturally with scenes like this.  It wasn’t cheesy and made sense for Mac.  I laughed along with her.  Until Jericho walked in…

Readers either love or hate Jericho.  You will have to decide for yourself.

V’lane is my type of character.  A little good, a little bad and a little unknown.  You never know what you’re going to get when he enters the scene.  That’s entertaining.

Lastly – the ending.  I can’t decide if it was genius or devious.  It’s a good thing I already had the next book on my nightstand.  The last few pages broke my heart.

5/5 stars for a series that has gotten better and better.  I cannot wait for the next installment.

Review – The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan

cat and caboodleWhen feeling stressed, there are two types of books I tend to pick up.  Most recently I’ve gravitated towards urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  Most of them have a good story with a little romance and action but they are light enough to be relaxing.  In the past, I almost always picked up a cozy mystery to calm my nerves.  So I have a lot of fond memories of these cozies.

Last month, I was walking through Barnes & Noble looking for one of my sanity novels.  I saw The Whole Cat and Caboodle in a rack and loved the cover so I pulled it out.  (This is why publishers are willing to spend so much on the covers – they can make or break a book’s success.  You have to want to pull the book out of the rack.)  After reading the synopsis, TWCC went into my ‘buy pile’. Oceanfront setting, small shop, black cat, an old high school flame.  This seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

Did I enjoy it?  Yes.  Was it something I will remember in a few years?  Probably not.

Cozy mysteries are at their best when there is a strong story with characters who are realistic.  My favorites have flawed MCs who make mistakes, get angry and are REAL.  I think TWCC could have been much better if the MC, Sarah, wasn’t quite so perfect.  It seems that everyone likes her (except an old high school friend and it’s clear that their rift was the friend’s fault not Sarah’s.)  I don’t care who you are; there are going to be those that just don’t like you.  It doesn’t ring true that Sarah has no real enemies.

Sarah is also very close with her grandmother and all of her grandmother’s friends.  She hangs out with them.  She gives furniture restorations classes for them.  She allows them to hang out and be busy-bodies in her shop.  Again, this just isn’t realistic.  Sarah is a young woman and, in the real world, she might do some of these things but not to this extent.  It’s too goody-goody.

There is a clear love interest but many of the other men in town also seem interested in Sarah.  This didn’t bother me as it’s pretty typical in a cozy.  She’ll probably date one for a while, they will break up and then her true love will express his feelings.

As I’m wrapping up this review, I am realizing that I sound very jaded.  My reading preferences go through phases and maybe I am too much into being real right now.  I have a good life but it’s hard.  I work a lot, have little time for friends (and a harder time trusting them) and almost no time for myself.  Maybe the lesson I should learn is that I could strive to be more like Sarah.  Hmm….cozy mystery as therapy.

3/5 stars.  Good but not great.

Review – Into the Temple of Shadows (In Darkness We Must Abide, #11) by Rhiannon Frater

Beautiful lonely girl  in long dress

Is anyone out there obsessed with a television show?  Each week, you wait for the next episode on pins and needles.  There may have been a cliffhanger last week or maybe we were left with tears or smiles and want to see what is next.

Reading a serialized novel is a similar experience.  We wait for the next episode to find out what is happening to our favorite characters.  This format won’t work for everyone but I happen to love it.  The anticipation of the unknown.  And, knowing that more is to come if I am just patient.

Episode 11 of In Darkness We Must Abide continues Vanora’s story.  She is fighting what appears to be her destiny.  There were some revelations about her power and the path she may need to take to change her fate.  In this episode she is forced into an uncomfortable and unexpected alliance.  Those of you that are familiar with the series will enjoy her interactions with her new ‘friend’.

In past episodes, Vanora’s relationship with Armando has been an integral part of the plot.  They are now separated and Vanora is standing on her own without him right there to be her protector.  This makes her a more realistic and, honestly, likable character.  She’s always been strong but now she can really flex her muscles.  For the first time, I can see a future for Vanora without him.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I want this to happen but now I know she can make it on her own.  I like that.

5/5 stars.  Thank you to the author for providing a copy as part of the read-a-long.