Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2 Middle School/YA Reviews

Goliath (Leviathan #3) by Scott Westerfeld

Let me start by saying how much I have enjoyed this trilogy as a whole. I can't wait until the kiddos are a little older - I think they will love it too.

Now, on to Goliath...

I had a lot of fun reading it - read the whole thing in one day. Good pacing, action, and I enjoy the characters.

Leviathan is still hands down my favorite book of the three, but I like the resolution and the character progression that you find in book 3.

For Deryn, yes secrets come out (but I'm not saying how!) and she learns that there could be consequences for more than just herself.

For Alek, he's felt so much responsibility for the war (since it started with the deaths of his parents), that it's shaped most of his actions. He needs to figure out who his allies really are, and what his limits might be.

Both of them need to decide what it is they really want in their own lives, as well, not just what others want of them.

Down to the action and the gadgets - yep, those are still seamlessly interwoven into the story. The world in this series is just so rich, but it never felt overwhelming, like I was just reading blueprints.

The "bad guy" in this one is mad, yes, but like with many characters, his sense of right and wrong depends on your point of view. With a world at war, right and wrong are in a grey area. It does help shape our hero and heroine's actions though, and that's really the point here.

This is the end of the trilogy, and there is an end that I was satisfied with, although I'd be lying if I didn't mention how much I hope that we'll be treated to more from this world in the future. There are so many places it could go.

Circus Glacticus by Deva Fagan

On the surface, this book seems like a rollicking good ride. An orphan with a mysterious rock, an encounter with a strange masked man, an amazing circus that turns into a spaceship, aliens, epic battles, the value of friends and finding a home, all of that is there. It's just that it was missing some of the finer details to draw out the characters and their interactions. It all felt too rushed, and some things resolved far too easily.

Trix is a hard character to like. I think with a few more insights to her character, it would have been easier to follow and root for her. I am used to kids in tween/middle school age books choosing to go off on their own, not involving the adults, but the reasoning behind it and why their new friends would go along with them, needs to be there. Those scenes felt off to me here.

There were parts I enjoyed, but I was left wanting more, and not in an "I need the next book now" way.

[I received an Advance Readers Copy of this book to review for Amazon Vine. Link goes to Vine review.]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Prezzie List #2 - Young Readers

All righty -here is where we talk about those books for kids who are just getting into reading. For my recs here, I'm mostly going with what the expert (in this case, my eldest kiddo) likes to read. The kid will snuggle on the couch with these books, reading them to herself, her brother, or one of the parentals, so I count that as a win.

Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold

I'd give this one to a boy or a girl. Buzz has a pet fly, named Fly Guy. They have adventures, such as going on a cross country trip or meeting another kid with a pet fly at the park. There was even a school trip to a flyswatter factory. The kiddo thinks they are great. She can pretty easily read all of the words (and it even has chapters like mom's grown up books). The favorites right now are Fly High, Fly Guy and Buzz Boy and Fly Guy (where Buzz creates his own comic book).

Rocks and Fossils by Chris Pellant

It's not just the fantasy books in our house. We bring on the science too. This was a great intro to fossils for first readers (the preschooler loved it too). Just the right level of info along with fantastic photos/illustrations.

Fancy Nancy series by Jane O'Conner

I'm going to say that these are geared more for a girl audience. Nancy is very, very fancy. She loves to dress up, loves first grade, and everything French. She also has an exceedingly good vocabulary (the pages are peppered with the "fancy" name for things). We just recently read the original Fancy Nancy book, but to be honest, that wasn't her favorite. My resident Fancy Nancy aficionado prefers the Explorer Extraordinaire (where Nancy and her best friend Bree have their own nature club) or Poet Extraordinaire (where you have the introduction of many different forms of poetry). There are others on stargazing (another favorite) as well as Tea Parties (got some decent easy recipes and craft ideas in that one). You'll find different versions all over the bookstore/library. There are hardbacks, but also in the First Reader section, you'll find small paperbacks. Illustrations are well done too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Recent Reads...

Tiger Eye (Dirk & Steele #1) by Marjorie Liu

I picked this one up as a Kindle freebie (and as of Nov 27 it's still free on Amazon. I checked B&N but right now it's listed at $7.99). Sometimes you get the freebies and think, well, I'm glad that was free, but other times you get one, devour it, then realize you are in trouble because now you want to read all of the rest. Not complaining too much, my TBR list can always use more, and now I get to add Liu's other books.

Very enjoyable paranormal romance. I liked the way that power was introduced. The set up for future books was well done as well - the side characters were likable. The pacing was good too.

Dela and Hari were believable and I liked their interaction. Another one where there isn't a "big misunderstanding." I cannot stand it when the main obstacle is just a miscommunication that could be solved by a 2 minute conversation. Much prefer the action-oriented romances where there is a big bad (or 2) to deal with.

It's a romance, but I also got a superhero/comic vibe from it. The psychic detective agency aspect is fun - Dirk & Steele employ "special talents" who read minds, start fires, change shape, etc. to right wrongs and keep those talents safe from governments or other groups that would exploit them.

Blood Rights (House of Comarre #1) by Kristen Painter

I was expecting more romance - and there is some romantic tension, but this is not a "Romance". I'm putting it into the UF category. I've also seen it referenced with YA, but I don't think that is a good fit at all. This is an adult book, and has some very dark moments (although nothing too graphic or gory).

The worldbuilding was cool - a complex society that you are thrown into. Hidden from human eyes, vampires and other supernatural creatures exist in their own societies. You have the Comarre - kind of like geishas, in that they are companions to vampires, their blood is very powerful, they are known for grace and beauty. A very secretive society, Comarre also have a more deadly purpose. They are well trained in weapons that can kill vampires or other supernaturals.

Chrysabelle, a highly prized Comarre, is on the run. Her patron is dead and she has been framed. She turns to her anathema (outcast) aunt for help. She falls in with an anathema vampire, Malkolm, who is haunted by spirits of those he's killed (physically, Fi haunts him, and the voices of his victims torture him). We also get Doc, Mal's varcolai (shifter) associate, and get an intro into the other supernatural communities, most of the illegal sort.

We've got conspiracies, lots of action, magic jewelry, the devil, and the end of the world as everyone knows it. There is kind of an ending, but it is really just set up for the next book. I'll be reading it.

There are a lot of new terms thrown around for paranormal creatures we fans are all familiar with. It was easy to get into the lingo, though. I have to admit that I was not surprised by who Tatiana turned out to be, but I was surprised by some of the events at the end.

Fate's Edge

Some series just get their own post, and Ilona Andrews Edge series is one of those. You might be familiar with my adoration of Andrews Kate Daniels series. The Edge is different in that each book follows a different couple (like a romance series), but still has the phenomenal world, complex characters, exciting action scenes, and humor that I fell in love with in Kate's series.

Fate's Edge (Edge #3) by Ilona Andrews

One thing that I have come to appreciate from Ilona Andrews books is that I just have so much fun while I'm reading them. Also, the worldbuilding is fantastic, so it really does feel like an escape from real life. This is the third book set in the Edge world, an actually very complex world, but I never felt lost as characters jumped from the Weird to the Edge to the Broken and back again.

If you haven't read any of the edge books, well, first you need to start with On the Edge. You also need to know that the Earth in this universe has the Broken - the nonmagical world that you and I live in. Then you have the Weird, a parallel world where magic is everywhere, in everything. You have Adrianglia, which is in a state of detente with Lousiana, and in book 3, we have the intro of West Egypt.  In between is the Edge where magic still thrives, though not as easily as in the Weird. Filled with clannish, feuding families, they live a hard life. This time we travel to the West coast and get a sense of what the Edge is like in the pacific northwest.

We first met Kaldar, a snarky thief and Cerise's cousin, in Bayou Moon. The battle with the monstrous Hand has left him with a thirst for vengeance and a job with the Mirror, the Adrianglian secret service. His latest job is to find and recover an artifact stolen from West Egypt, and Louisiana's Hand is the likely culprit. The job was done by an expert thief, and it takes one to know one...

Christmas Prezzie List #1 - Picture Books

As you all know, I love reading. My book collection is a large and glorious thing. Someday I will have a room ringed with bookcases to the ceiling and it still won't be enough room. And that's not even including the eBook collection.

It should come as no surprise that the kiddos have their own collection of books - from factual to fanciful, books are just a fixture at home.

Should also be no surprise that books are a favorite gift. With that in mind, here are a few picture books to consider if you are looking for a present for a young reader (or an adult who loves good illustrations).

Note: these are a couple of my favorites published in the last few years (I'm not including some of my all-time favs, like Where the Wild Things Are, because, well, I think you've already heard of it).

Friday, November 25, 2011

On to Christmas...

Today is Black Friday here in the states - the day that people pack the stores looking for deals. The "official" start of the holiday season. Deck the malls with crazy shoppers....

And I am still in my jammy pants avoiding it all.

I am thinking about what I want to give as presents (and to be honest, what I'm hoping will be under the tree for me), so I'm putting together a few lists. I'll start posting next week, so if you need some ideas on book gifts for kids, teens, or adults, I'll have a few recommendations. I'll probably have a few awesome t-shirts to share too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful...

In honor of tomorrows feast of turkeys, trimmings, pie and family togetherness, I thought I'd join in with my list of things I am thankful for.

First of all, of course, family. Even when they drive me crazy, I still love 'em and wouldn't really want things any other way. Bonus - both kids are in love with the library and finding new books (WIN!)

Thank you to all of my friends - the ones I see in real life, and the ones scattered around the globe. Without my cyber-friends, I wouldn't have anyone to to talk to about all of these awesome books.

It hasn't been an easy year, and so many of you have been so wonderful with your support and caring words - thank you.

Thank you to Hollywood for putting out few movies I want to see so that I can put my entertainment dollars towards books.

Thank you authors, editors, graphic artists, librarians, everyone who has a hand in bringing me my beloved books. You gave me an escape when I needed one and made my days a lot brighter.

If you are stateside and celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday. May it be as hectic or relaxed as you want it to be. If you aren't celebrating, then I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week and a great weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Reader's Perspective...

What a freaking minefield!

Nope, not talking about the pre-holiday crush at the grocery store today. I'm talking about publishing. More specifically, self pubbing vs indie (yes, there is a difference) vs traditional, insult-slinging, "house slaves" and primates doing horrible, despicable things to amphibians. I have recently encountered a lot of crap that has nothing to do with bad storytelling, although there have been several points of common sense as well (Dear Author, Tobias Buckell and Chuck Wendig - look 'em up if you haven't already). I know, if there is epic WTF-ery on the internet it must be a day ending in "y" but I think I finally reached my quota for tolerating it. And if you think I'm being "too sensitive" please leave your name and book titles in the comments so that I can make sure I never read your book (just like I'll never buy anything from the two jackholes who brought us the Raping Monkey - and this is from someone who digs crude potty humor on occasion - some lines should NEVER be crossed).

I see this mostly because I have an interest in the publishing industry as a whole, and I get on Twitter, hover around Goodreads, and (when I feel like I have enough patience) go back to the Amazon forums, and through it all I wonder, who is the audience? For all the rants, the mudslinging, is it trying to get the traditionally pubbed writers to abandon their contracts to strike out on their own? Rallying the growing number of self-pubbed writers? Convincing media, reviewers, book bloggers to take a look at more self-pubbed works? Actually trying to get readers to give self-pubs a chance? Cause when I think about what is necessary for the viability of self publishing, those last two are a lot more important than arguing over which method is better.

And the winner is...

First of all, thank you to everyone who entered the Head Rush giveaway. Thank you also to Carolyn Crane for answering all of our questions, and to Samhain for providing the e-ARC.

Now, on to the winner...


Since I already have your contact info, I'm sending you a message on your prize. Please respond within 48 hours (or I have to pick another winner). Rules is rules. ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Q&A with Carolyn Crane (and a Giveaway!)

It's been a lot of fun doing the Disillusionists re-read. We had a pretty good discussion the other day on Mind Games at the Goodreads group, and now folks are starting Double Cross. Getting ready for the eBook release of Head Rush December 6 (it's already available on Audible, and the paperback will be out in 2012).

I've really enjoyed this series the second time around. I feel like I "get" Justine better, and I loved re-discovering all of the small details that make up the Disillusionists' fascinating world.

Carolyn Crane has been kind enough to stop by to answer a few questions, and the awesomeness that is Samhain is offering an e-ARC of Head Rush! Right here! (Details to follow the Q's)

So let's all welcome Carolyn, and get on with the fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Catching Up

I've been re-reading, reading, not feeling so good at night (when I get most of my stuff done), and all of that has meant no new posts, but I'm fixing that now.

I'm still working on my Kingdom of Gods review - some things just need to percolate for awhile before I set them in stone.

I need to re-do my original review for Mind Games based on the re-read. Seriously, I highly recommend re-reading books when you can. I know I get caught up in new, shiny, pretty bookies, but it is a lot of fun to re-discover characters and stories. Be sure to check back on Nov 17 - We've got Carolyn Crane answering some of your questions and a giveaway!

On to reviews - I've got one fantasy short story and a steampunk, alt-Victorian...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Questions for Carolyn Crane

I hope you are enjoying your re-read (or first read) of Mind Games. Next week, Carolyn Crane will be dropping by, so if you have any questions, post them in the comments or e-mail them to me kindleaholic (at) gmail (dot) com, or if you are on the Goodreads Re-read Group, put them there. You have until tomorrow, November 9, to post your questions.

Then stop by here next week on the 17th as we discuss the Disillusionists with Ms. Crane! There's also going to be a giveaway - an ARC of book 3, Head Rush (I know you want it)!

Audiobook out now, eBook out Dec 6.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Mind Games Re-Read

I need to re-read books more often. This isn't the first time that I've enjoyed a book more on the second try (the same was true for Interview With a Vampire and Discord's Apple), but so often I'm overloaded with all of the new shiny, pretty books, that I don't have the time to re-read. I'm going to start making time, though.

My favorite part is getting to experience those little touches that you might not recall months down the line but they make the story so much more enjoyable while you're in it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mind Games Re-Read

Time to shake off the sugar coma from last night, take a little bit of the dog that bit ya' (surprisingly, Gobstoppers are my friend today), take a mental break from Nano, and start re-reading (or reading for the first time) Carolyn Crane's Mind Games.

The Goodreads group is here or leave comments on the blog.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Remember, there's going to be a giveaway coming....