Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Demon Catchers of Milan

Author: Kat Beyer
Publisher: Egmont USA
Date: August 28, 2012
Pages: 288

Goodreads Synposis:
Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.

My Opinion:

So, I've seen some very harsh reviews coming out on this book and they left me a little bit worried about what to expect. Maybe they lowered my expectations a little of the book. I  didn't dislike as much as those reviews. I can see where so many people are saying that nothing really happened when Mia got to Milan except a bunch of studying. There were a lot of loose threads hanging out there that never got tied up. But, I think that the author was leaving some stuff out there to come back to in future books. (At least I hope that's what is going on there).  To me, it felt like the author was building a background, a scenery or a landscape to tell her real story on. She's set the scene now. Mia had a chance to get to know herself and learn what it is she wants to accomplish and find confidence. We've got an idea of the background and the world. Now, she's ready to start telling stories. Of course, she could have done that in the first half of the book and got down to a story in this first book. But there is potential and I'll most likely pick up a second book to see what happens. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Royal Pain: A Royal Spyness Mystery, Book 2

Author: Rhys Bowen 
Year: 2008
Publisher: Berkley/Audible
Narrator:  Katherine Kellgren

Goodreads Synopsis:
Another hilarious mystery featuring penniless aristocrat Lady Georgie, a feisty new heroine to delight a legion of Anglophile readers (Jacqueline Winspear). The Queen of England has concocted a plan in which Georgie is to entertain a Bavarian princess and conveniently place her in the playboy Prince's path, in the hopes that he might finally marry. But queens never take money into account. Georgie has very little, which is why she moonlights as a maid-in-disguise. She must draw up plans: clean house to make it look like a palace; have Granddad and her neighbor pretend to be the domestic staff; un-teach Princess Hanni the English she's culled from American gangster movies; cure said Princess of her embarrassing shoplifting habit; and keep an eye on her at parties. Then there's the worrying matter of the body in the bookshop and Hanni's unwitting involvement with the Communist Party. It's enough to drive a girl crazy.

My Take:

I really enjoy listening to these books. The narrator is terrific. The books are light and fun cozy mysteries. They have humor galore but just enough mystery and danger to keep it all interesting. If you're a fan of cozies, I recommend these books. I just wish Rhys Bowen would hurry up with the romance between Georgie and Darcy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Throne of Glass

Author:  Sarah J. Maas
Year: 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages:  406

Goodreads Description:
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

My Take:

I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed this book. With all the hype and everybody praising it so much, I was prepared to be disappointed but I wasn't. Instead I found myself spending most of a Sunday reading the book and disappointed to reach the end. 

Celaena is a strong female character. She doesn't take anybody's crap. Even when she was a slave/prisoner in the salt mines, she kept her dignity and reputation. But she isn't just a cold, stone-hearted assassin. She loves fashion, candy, dogs and books. She's also smart and makes her own decisions. Calaena rationalizes things and knows what it will take to reach her goals and obtain the things she wants. 

Dorian and Captain Westfall both make intriguing potential love interests. To be truthful, I think I would have a hard time deciding between the two at this point but I do know which way I'm leaning. I loved the way that Celaena had witty, fun and sarcastic conversations with both guys but she was also very open and honest with them at times. 

I can tell that this story was started as online fiction. It has that same feel to it as The Mortal Instruments series does. That's not bad. It's just that every now and then things feel a little contrived or out of place. Maybe a little childish. But, overall, I loved the story and can't wait to read the next installment.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Her Royal Spyness: A Royal Spyness Mystery, Book 1

Author:  Rhys Bowen
Year: 2007
Publisher:  Berkley
Narrated by:  Katherine Kellgren

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Agatha Award winner debuts a 1930s London mystery series, featuring a penniless twenty-something member of the extended royal family.
Her ridiculously long name is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. And she is flat broke. As the thirty-fourth in line for the throne, she has been taught only a few things, among them, the perfect curtsey. But when her brother cuts off her allowance, she leaves Scotland, and her fiance Fish-Face, for London, where she has:
a) worked behind a cosmetics counter-and gotten sacked after five hours b) started to fall for a quite unsuitable minor royal c) made some money housekeeping (incognita, of course), and d) been summoned by the Queen to spy on her playboy son.
Then an arrogant Frenchman, who wants her family's 800-year-old estate for himself, winds up dead in her bathtub. Now her most important job is to clear her very long family name. 

My Opinion:

I was sold on these books by the  name alone. And it's that kind of humor that just really makes this book. One of those little things that I always enjoy is a good  little cozy mystery and this is the definition of a cozy. Georgie is a terrific character. She's fun, hilarious and caring. Plus, she thinks pretty quickly on her toes. Rhys Bowen created terrific side characters in Belinda, Georgie's non-royal grandfather, her mother, and some insignificant little Irishman named Darcy.  ;)   The series is also set in a wonderful time period. It's a time when women are just starting to stand on their own but there's still enough of the old aristocracy and ways around that they're limited. I can just feel that Georgie is going to end up being one of the trailblazers for women. 

The mystery wasn't too predictable but I did figure out who did it before the reveal in the story. I didn't mind that though because I was having so much fun listening to the story.  The narrator Katherine Kellgren was perfect for the book. I don't think I've listened to any of her work before but I am definitely going to be keeping an eye out for her in the future. 

Actually, there's a good chance that I'll move straight to book two in the series from here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hush, Hush

Author:  Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year: 2009
Pages: 391

Goodreads Synopsis:
Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

My Opinion:

Hush, Hush  was a quick easy read. Part of it were pretty creepy but overall I really enjoyed the story. I thought the sexual tension between Patch and Nora was intense. I also wanted their relationship to be more developed and, although that didn't really happen in this book, it looks like it will in the following books. Hush, Hush was kind of a build up as to whether or not Nora could trust Patch or if Patch was the bad guy. Interesting answer to that question but I can't say more or I'd spoil the book. Oh, and the cover is awesome.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Unraveling, Book 1

Author: Elizabeth Norris
Year: 2012
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Pages: 445

Goodreads Description:
Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.
From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl’s fight to save herself, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.

My Take:

This book played to so many aspects of my sci-fi geek. First, Janelle's dad is a total geek. He raised his kids watching X-files and going to Comic Con. There's one scene where they're carrying on a conversation using X-files quotes and I laughed so much because not only did I get it all but my family has done that. Then there were echos of Roswell and Sliders in the story and Firefly even made an appearance. Now you know I'm loving a book when they reference Firefly.  The dialogue was witty and fun. 

But the novel was a lot more than the geek references. There was a good story in here. Janelle becomes a regular Nancy Drew when she decides to investigate one of her dad's cases on her own and finds herself in danger. Norris keeps the plot moving quickly. She Janelle's a tough and smart girl. She figures things out and never thinks about herself when there's danger. She worries about her brother, her dad, and her best friend, Alex. Even at the end of the book, Janelle thinks more about what's best for Ben and not herself. 

Norris also doesn't pull any punches when it comes to keeping characters safe. She broke my heart not just once but twice in this story with deaths. And I love that in a book. It keeps me on my toes as a reader and makes the story more intense.

Unraveling could easily stand on its own but I am glad that there is a second book planned as I want to see more of Janelle and Ben.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finnikin of the Rock, Lumatere Chronicles, No. 1

Author:  Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Year: 2008
Pages: 399

Goodreads description:
At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.
Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock—to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

My Opinion:

I loved this book. It's an honest to goodness real fantasy book. There's trials and tribulations. a main character who's suffered hardship and has to make hard decisions, the heroine is tough and strong and takes no prisoners. Marchetta writes beautifully and is a master of words. The secondary characters were strong and well developed. I saw stories galore that could be told about the secondary characters because there was just so much character to them. I want to hear the stories of Froi, Perri, Beatriss, Lucian and the guards.

I also loved Finnikin and Evanjalin's romance. It was slow and developed through trials. Finnikin had to learn to trust Evanjalin even though he knew from the beginning that she was hiding something and manipulating everybody. 

I do have to admit that it took me a little while to get into the book but once I did, I was lost in Lumatere and didn't want to come out. I was so disappointed when the story was over and wanted to immediately start reading the second book. I borrowed this book from the library but will definitely be buying a copy for my own library.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paths Not Taken, Nightside Book 5

Author:  Simon R. Green
Year: 2008
Publisher: Ace (listed to Audible Edition)
Narrator: Marc Vietor

In the last Nightside book, John Taylor learned that his mother is Lilith of Biblical decent and that she created the Nightside - - and that she intends to destroy it. In Paths Not Taken, Taylor decides to travel back in time with the help of Father Time to stop Lilith. Susie Shooter and Tommy Oblivion go along for the ride. Fortunately for the reader, Taylor and company have a little problem going all the way back to the beginning of the Nightside and end up doing a little tour of history. 

This is a good addition to the Nightside series. I am always impressed with Green's ability to play on words and fiddle with history just a bit. I'm not too sure how I feel about this series become more of a mythology series than a Taylor solving the most recent mystery series. I feel now that it becomes imperative that each book be read in order and that I understand what's happening with all the characters because I might miss something in future books. 

Marc Vietor is a wonderful narrator and I hope to listen to more of his work in the future. If you want some good, easy fantasy books to listen to during your commute or while working around the house, I'd recommend the Nightside series.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shadow Rising: A Tale of the Dark Dynasties, Book 3

Author: Kendra Leigh Castle
Publisher: Forever
Source: Netgalley
Date: July 31, 2012
Pages: 257

Ariane is a Grigori - a noble vampire dynasty that secludes themselves and live in secrecy. Yet all other vampire clans/dynasties fear them. The Grigori watch things happen but never interfere. But now, Ariane's best friend, Sam, has gone missing and the Grigori refuse to take action; so, Ariane sets out to find him on her own. Along the way she meets Damien, a shape-shifting assassin that has been hired to track down Sam and return Ariane to the Grigori. (By the way, Damien shifts into a humongous cat). The two form an alliance to find Sam that quickly escalates to something more. And as they come closer to finding Sam, they learn a secret that could destroy all vampires.

I loved this book. It was straight up romantic urban fantasy. The chemistry between the two main characters was off the charts hot. Damien was one of those jerks with a hard exterior that was really a soft kitten inside (pun intended). I loved watching them fight their attraction for each other. I couldn't help thinking when I was reading the book that this is what Daemon from the Luxe books could grow in to. Granted, I've only read Obsidian but I always wanted to know more about Daemon's feelings and felt like he could have been revealed a little better to the reader. Castle does that. She shows us the gruff and jerky side of Damien but lets us also see that he's vulnerable. In Obsidian, we see the jerk in Daemon but we never get to see his vulnerability until that last little "chapter" at the end from his POV. But I have faith that I'll see those other sides of Daemon in the remaining books. Another Damien/Daemon comparison: Damien calls Ariane "kitten." 

So, I had no idea when I got this book that it was the third book in a series. But, I had no problem understanding the story, what had happened before didn't really matter in the telling of this story (although I am highly curious to see how much of a factor Damien was in the prior stories). I will most definitely be looking for the other books in the series. This was a great urban fantasy and I can't wait to read more of Castle's work. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Author:  Sean Cummings
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source:  NetGalley
Publication Date:  October 2, 2012
Pages:  384

15 year old Julie Richardson is a witch - or a witch-in-training at least - and she's determined to prove to her mother that she's capable and doesn't need her mom's constant meddling and over-protectiveness. So, when Julie and her best friend, Marcus, come across an elderly lady that's been kicked out of her house, Julie's convinced that she can handle this simple poltergeist and show her mom her skills. But things aren't as simple as Julie thinks and it turns out that it's much, much more than a simple poltergeist. Instead, there's a much stronger force at work with an agenda of it's own. When Julie's mother rushes to her defense at Julie's high school, her soul is stolen by dark magic and it's up to Julie and Marcus to figure out what's going on and save her mother before she dies. 

This book felt a little bit younger than what I usually read but it was enjoyable. It was kind of like Nancy Drew meets Veronica Mars. Cummings had some really good dialogue and humor in the story. Plus, there were some geeky references thrown in that had me laughing. I liked Julie and Marcus a lot and thought that they seemed like normal teenagers. I would like to see how the characters grow in future books (which I assume there's going to be more). I'm also really digging the relationship between Julie and her mother. You can tell that there's going to be more there. I liked that she's an actual mother to Julie and tries to protect her instead of be Julie's best friend. And Julie really wants her mother's approval. That desire to please her mother is what got Julie involved in the mess in this book to begin with. 

Cummings has a lot of room to grow with this series and the potential for character and world development is there. This is a good building block for what could become a great series.

Glitch, Book 1

Author:  Heather Anastasiu
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Source:  Netgalley
Pages: 359
Publication Date:  August 7, 2012

Zoe lives in an underground Community in a dystopic/post-apocalyptic society. In this society, computer chips have been implanted in all humans ridding them of emotions in order to prevent future incidents like the ones that happened in the past and nearly led to human extinction. Their mates are chosen for them, their children are "grown" and their jobs are chosen for them. They have allotted times to eat, exercise, and rest. Each person is expected to live for the best of the community and this brainwashing is constantly pounded into them through a feed. But Zoe has started malfunctioning and/or glitching. Zoe is starting to feel emotions, see color and have desires. But, if the Uppers or Regulators notice her glitching either by showing emotions on her face or by a rise in her heart monitor, she'll be taken in and possibly deactivated. What's more, Zoe's glitches have given her the power of telekinesis. Eventually, Zoe meets other Glitchers including Adrien and Max (the two boys in the love triangle). Zoe finds herself struggling with her feelings for the boys and just understanding the concept of "love." She also wants to do something to help other Glitchers. She learns about a Resistance with plans to overthrow the Community.

I pretty much enjoyed this book. In my opinion, Anastasiu crafted her world very well. I understood what was going on and how the people were controlled. I felt what it was like for Zoe to be malfunctioning and trying to control her emotions and at the same time not wanting to lose her newfound feelings. I loved the way Anastasiu described Zoe's shock at seeing colors. That was some good writing. It had me wondering what it would be like to discover color in my teenage years. How would I have reacted? 

The one drawback is that the entire story felt very familiar - like it was something that I'd already read before but didn't quite remember the entire story. That could just be due to my reading too many dystopian books but I wish it had been a little more distinguishable in that aspect. In spite of the familiarity of the story, Anastasiu did manage to throw some good plot twists in at the end. 

Overall, I enjoyed it and I'm wanting to know what happens to the characters.