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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gunmetal Magic

The latest entry in Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series is out and I am reading (and loving) it!

No further posts until I'm done.

UPDATE: I'm done, I loved it, and I'm celebrating at Stellar Four.

Review: Monster in My Closet

Monster in My Closet (Monster Haven #1) by R.L. Naquin

Zoey, a free spirited wedding planner who has a need to be helpful (even to her good for nothing ex), wakes up to find the monster from her childhood nightmares in her kitchen. Turns out it was all a misunderstanding, his gargoyle wife has left him, and now he needs a place to stay. He is a very accomplished chef, and even though it's all crazypants, Zoey agrees. This is the equivalent of letting the barn door open - soon she finds a Brownie family needing refuge, cares for an ailing dragon, catches the eye of a dangerous incubus, and learns that the reason she is so in touch with everyone's feelings is that she's an empath. Throw in a very hot EMT who is on hand at the deadliest of times, a wedding from hell (actually not literally in this case), clients experiencing death by incubus, and Zoey is in over her head.

The overall tone of this story is pretty light - closet monsters making scones and Zoey's effervescent nature. I actually was pretty into it in the beginning and thought it was a nice break from my usual. However, the nature of the murders - death by sex - is pretty freaking dark and disturbing if you stop to think about it. The incubus is basically a walking magical roofie that kills you. This  felt incongruous to the otherwise light tone, especially when the incubus is targeting people that Zoey knows. It was difficult for me to go from a murder to Zoey's new kooky outfit, and I couldn't wrap my head around many of her actions. I also found it hard to believe she didn't realize what was happening to those closest to her (can't elaborate more without spoilers).

There is a bit of romance, but nothing hot and heavy. I liked that part. I felt the slower progression of the relationship fit. There is the hint at a broader mystery involving Zoey's mom. I found myself wanting to know a lot more about that. I also really liked the supporting characters, especially Andrew, her new aura-reading ally, and Maurice, the closet monster.

Once Zoey finally started acting instead of evading I liked it better, but couldn't get over the disconnect.

[I received an ARC to review.]

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: vN

vN (The Machine Dynasty book 1) by Madeline Ashby

I always wanted Roy Batty to win. I get that he was the bad guy, but the idea of creating sentient robotic beings, giving them a too short lifespan, then just using them for the deadliest jobs or as sexbots never sat well with me either. I always felt that his makers had it coming.

This means that I'm a good audience for this book.

No, this isn't Blade Runner Redux, but we do follow Amy, a vN (sentient artificial being), as she goes from a "child" in a half-human, half-vN family to a fugitive. The vN's have a failsafe - they have a need to make humans happy and seeing a human in pain can short out their system. However, there seems to be a problem with Amy's failsafe, her murderous, twisted granny is stuck in her head, and the humans are trying to capture her. She meets up with Javier, an arboreal research model and his new son, and has to question what is programmed, can robots evolve on their own, will she ever be able to get grandma out of her head, and how can she get home again.

Amy had never really been around other vN, and seeing her relationship progress with Javier and his son was a favorite part. Not that this is a typical romance (I actually hesitate to use the "r" word here). Amy's upbringing has not been "normal" for a vN, and she tends to respond more like a human. So long as her granny, Portia, doesn't take over. Not all humans are that great either. Lots of abuses that don't happen to Amy herself, but that she sees peripherally. There are some pretty violent events, but I was firmly on Amy's side throughout.

There are some good action sequences, but not much humor. The end was resolved a bit too quickly for me, and the POV transition at the end wasn't my favorite. I do like where the story might be going though.

This isn't a roaring sci fi adventure, nor is there a war with humanity (yet), but as a set the stage for a world with sentient AI, I thought it was good and I'll be adding Ashby to my watch and read list.

[I received an Advance Reader's Copy to review.]

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest Post: Shiloh Walker/J.C. Daniels

Today, the Book Pile is the latest stop on the Blade Song Blog Tour. Shiloh Walker is known for her romance books, such as the Ash trilogy (If You Hear Her is one of my favorite rom-suspense reads). Under the name J. C. Daniels, she brings us an action-packed Urban Fantasy. It's got supernatural beings, magic, and a very tough woman with a sword. You know that makes me happy. My review of Blade Song is here.

I asked Shiloh to tell us some of her favorite non-romance reads. There's also a giveaway!

Books I adore… the non-romance edition (although you’ll probably notice a theme)


Loved this. It’s one of the first, and best, urban fantasies I’ve ever read and it was really urban fantasy before such a thing existed.


Loved..again, some of the best urban fantasy I’ve ever read. I love the entire Kate Daniels series/world, but since this is the newest, yeah, we’ll go with this one.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A New-To-Me Favorite

The kiddos have become addicted to a new show, and this one they found all on their own.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is freaking awesome. They actually discovered it on their own on Netflix, asked if they could watch it, and were hooked immediately. So was I. Great action, magic powers, epic storyline, fantastic characters - if you have not watched it, I suggest you remedy the situation.

I'm beyond stoked that they have chosen a show with a tremendous, expansive storyline and strong male and female characters. And it has magic in it! My geeky parent heart fills with pride.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Blade Song

Blade Song by J.C. Daniels

Blade Song is a UF with romance. J.C. Daniels is a pen name of Shiloh Walker. Shiloh will be here Monday (and there is a giveaway involved as well). In the meantime, here's my thoughts on the book.

Kit Colbana is half human, half Aeneris - a little known warrior race with some mad tracking skills. Kit has demons - a ginormous understatement - and I liked the details that showed how her upbringing affected her. She stays true to herself, and I loved the pseudo-ultimatum she gives at the end. Loved it.

Kit lives in an Orlando that is a haven for supernaturals. She's a PI, dealing mostly with finding things and people, is wicked with a bow, and has a magic sword. She also has an attitude and tends to speak first, think about the consequences later. Then Damon, a shifter, comes into her office needing her help to find a missing kid, and Kit can't say no. There's an alpha male, some nasty humans, witches, vampires, all kinds of shifters, and of course, lots of action.

You know I love me some action.

I enjoyed this one a lot. Great pacing and I liked the world. The characters were good too, and there is lots more to explore in this supernatural Orlando.

One aspect of Walker's books that I really love is her dialogue. It's organic, doesn't feel forced, and just plain feels right in the story. It might be under a different name, but that is true here as well. The banter was just good stuff.

If you like romance in your UF, this is a good one for you. It's not a Romance, but should have enough to keep you happy. It had the right balance for me.

The teaser for book 2 was damn good as well. I'll be reading that one.

Blade Song will be out August 1.

[I received an ARC of this book.]

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: Geekomancy

Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood

I had a lot of fun with this one. So much that I pretty much inhaled the story.

There were geek references aplenty - I'd gotten Firefly, ThinkGeek & Buffy's "Once More With Feeling" to name a few by the time I reached the 20% mark. Ree is snarky but lovable. This story involves magic users who gain power from genre movies, games, comics, books & toys. There is a string of teen suicides, an underground magical community, and lots of action.

Geekomancy is quirky. Sometimes it's a fine line between quirky and whackadoo, but I don't think this tale ever got absurd. The magic system made a lot of sense. There was learning, limits and consequences. Different people have different strengths. It's not all geek power, either.

No romance here, although there are some connections that can be built upon.

I can't say I was surprised by the reveals, but that wasn't a problem for me. There were a couple of things that seemed too glossed over - things I can't specify without humongous spoilers, but I had such a good time reading it that they didn't bother me. Of course, the next book will have to address this, but it looks like the author is headed that way in the end.

I'll be looking for the next book.

I know that prices can change fast, and I don't know if this price will last, but Geekomancy is $1.99 right now (eBook only). Pocket After DarkAmazon | B&N

Sunday, July 8, 2012

High Action UF Reads

Here are 2 action-packed UF reads. There's vampires, mages, demons and assassins in one, and an interesting new mythology in another. Also, I celebrate the eBook release of one of my favorite novellas with a heroine who kicks ass in her own way.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

4 YA Fantasy Reads

There's fantasy aplenty in these four YA reads. I'd put these in the older YA category. There's a fantasy with thieves and gods, the start of a trilogy where a girl discovers her magic, a werewolf romance, and a retelling of a popular tale from a woman's perspective.