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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Mockingbird

Mockingbird (Miriam Black 2) by Chuck Wendig

"You capture a tempest in your teacup, you better expect a little blood on your carpet and some crazy-ass moonbat conversations at five o'clock in the morning." - Mockingbird

Yep - that pretty much sums up why I love Wendig's Miriam Black series. Miriam is still as crass, crude & rude as ever, and she wears her crazy as a shield, but there is truth to her ways. I read a lot of books with tough as nails female leads. A LOT. Miriam is near the top of my badass list and she does it without any superpower other than her ability to touch a person and know how they die. That and she knows how to fight dirty. The last third of this book is just nonstop action-packed don't-interrupt-me-now-I-mean-it awesome.

If you are new to the freakishly wonderful world of Miriam Black, you can see my thoughts on  Blackbirds, go read the book, then come back.

Book 2's are important. They need to build on the main storyline, show some character progression, and most of all make you want to grab book 3. Mockingbird does all of that so well.

We start with Miriam working at the checkout of a grocery store. She has been trying a "normal" life with Louis, and even wears gloves so she can't touch anyone. The high of finally being able to change fate is wearing thin and "normal" isn't the stuff of dreams. Luckily, we don't spend much time here (Miriam in customer service? cue maniacal laughter), and soon the gloves are off and Miriam is itching to be back on the road. Not necessarily with Louis.

I really like what Wendig has done with Louis and Miriam's relationship. I felt I got Louis a bit better in this book, and he also raises the very important question of what happens to a person when Miriam changes their death, their fate. This is something I hope we get to delve into more in the future.

I also really love Miriam's quasi-friendship with Katey, the terminally ill teacher at the reform school where the bulk of the action takes place. It feels like one of the most honest relationships Miriam has allowed herself to have. True, she knows there isn't a future in it, but I thought it was a big step.

It is at the school that Miriam sees the future horrific murder of a student. The anti-Fate is back in Miriam's life, taunting her, and although she would probably rather go back to the easier life of not trying to give a shit, Miriam has changed. This means she's on a mission to change fate once again. Of course, Miriam has her own way of doing things and some things are larger than they appear.

Stopping there. We can discuss more when you're done reading.

If you liked Blackbirds, you should love Mockingbird. A must for those who love troubled, twisted, kickass characters.

Mockingbird is out August 28, 2012.

[Received an ARC to review.]

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cover Reveal: Conjure

Today the Book Pile joins the cover reveal club, and there's a giveaway too!

Conjure by Lea Nolan is a paranormal YA out September 24.

From the publisher:

"About CONJURE: Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever."
And here's the cover:

I have a bit of a fascination with stories involving Gullah legends and hoodoo, voudun, you get the picture, so this book has been on my list since I first heard about it. On the cover,I like that the girl is kind of hidden behind the tree with the tangle of roots and leafless branches. I like that blue tone too. It's dark but not too dark.

Here's some links to learn more about Lea and Conjure:
Lea's website:

And the Giveaway! Here's the widget:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

edited to add: The giveaway is part of the publisher's promo of the book.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Book Pile Update

I thought I'd give a quick rundown on what I've read, what I'm reading and what's next on my plate.

Read (and working on the reviews):

In a Fix by Linda Grimes: Finished ARC. Review to be posted by release date; 9/4/12

Hex Appeal edited by PN Elrod: I really liked this antho. It has an Ilona Andrews story (WIN!) but I also liked all of the other stories.

Nightshifted (Edie Spence 1) by Cassie Alexander: This one has some head-banging moments. There's some interesting bits though, too.

Heart of Brass (Clockwork Agents 1) by Kate Cross: I liked the romance. Spies, betrayals, amnesiac heroes! For 7 years, the heroine's husband has been missing, presumed dead. I get why the heroine never moved on, but a part of me wishes she had. Still, it worked.

Hexed Anthology: 4 novellas. The best one is Ilona Andrews Magic Dreams (that you can get individually as an eBook now)

No Turning Back (Kathleen Turner #1) by Tiffany Snow: The story moves, but by the end, the heroine 's constant sobbing got to be a bit much. I'm still curious about it, but there is a mighty love triangle and I'm not sure how long I could take that.

Dust Girl (American Fairy Trilogy 1) by Sarah Zettel: I steamed through this one. A A YA fairytale set in Depression-era US. I really want the next one.


Trance (MetaWars #1) by Kelly Meding: This is not what I expected and I'm very scared for the characters. More intense than a lot of set the stage books. Body count is high, but not numbingly so.

God Save the Queen (Immortal Empire #1) by Kate Locke: Very interesting. I'm not sure where the love interest has come from, though.

Mockingbird (Miriam Black #2) by Chuck Wendig: Reading ARC. I'm very glad that Miriam hasn't changed too much. Another author where I'm not sure what is going to happen, who is going to bite it. Lots of tension. Just strapping myself in for another "holy-shit-that-didn't-just-happen-oh-yes-it-did" ride.

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard: Pretty good YA with a steampunkish feel. This has some unexpected bits.

The Broken Lands by Kate Milford: Reading ARC. An MG read that is so, so good. If you like fantasy, I suggest you get your hands on The Boneshaker first, then get ready for this one.

To Read:

Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher

The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby

Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy 2) by Jennifer Estep

Tin Swift (Age of Steam 2) by Devon Monk

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

Sins of the Son (Grigori 2) by Linda Poitevin

Bait Dog by Chuck Wendig

All the Paths of Shadow by Frank Tuttle

And many, many more....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Dreams of Dust

Dreams of Dust by Jeff Shelton-Davis

This is a collection of three short stories closer to the horror side of sf/fantasy without a lot of gore. Each story deals with faith, especially the all-consuming notion of faith, with the results increasing in intensity and destructiveness as we progress through the book. Interestingly, the cast becomes less human as we go from story to story as well.

Devil Come A-Calling: Set in the Wild West with a down on his luck bank robber finding himself in very dire straits with something more evil than he is. This one was the creepiest for me and the darkest, probably because it has people doing horrible things to other people. I do like the late 1800s American West as a setting, so that was a plus.

In His Image: More in your face religious. Intergalactic crusaders trying to conquer an insectoid planet in the name of Christ Pangalactic. Then one of the crusaders tries out the local deities when his god won't bring back his son from the dead. Not my favorite of the three. While the first story had plenty of characters I didn't like, I still really wanted to see them get what was coming to them, and I was satisfied with the end. In this one, the payoff wasn't as big. I just wasn't feeling it.

The Overlord's Dream: Set on a planet inhabited by insectoid creatures living in a hive society. Jubilation at the news that their legendary Messiah-like ancestor is returning soon turns to turmoil as questions over the true nature of this being infect the hivemind. I thought it impressive that even though every character is an insect, I still was pulling for them. And I'm not a big bug-person.

If you are of a certain religious persuasion, this might not be for you (although you probably aren't reading my blog, either). I liked them, although they are a bit darker in tone than my usual. This might not be one to read if you need a pick-me-up after a bad day.

The whole collection is a very quick read, and I did find myself wanting a bit more. Maybe Shelton-Davis will revisit these later. I'll keep an eye out.

[Received an ARC to review.]

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Red (Transplanted Tales #1)

Red (Transplanted Tales #1) by Kate SeRine

Tess Little is a Tale. Known more famously as Little Red Riding Hood, Tess came over to our world along with other fairytales and literary characters after a magical mishap (thanks to the magical muddlings of Aladdin's genie & Cinderella's fairy godmother). She is now an Enforcer for the Fairytale Management Authority (FMA). Then she gets called in to round up some suspects for a series of murders and is teamed with Nate Grimm - a Reaper who is also the FMA's homicide detective. Of course, wouldn't you know it, the suspects are all Tess's exes (Seth Wolf - yes THAT wolf, Vlad Dracula, and Caliban). There is quite a bit of action, secrets, betrayals, and a good share of romance too.

I like the idea of fantasy characters having to live in the Real World. I also can easily picture Little Red Riding Hood as an ass-kicker. I mean, her tale isn't one I'd want to be in, and Tess more than anything wants to be able to escape the legacy of her story. I really liked that different from other fairytale/real world tales, this one includes characters from great literary works, like Shakespeare and Austen. My little reader heart filled with glee when Tess's best friend turned out to be Elizabeth Bennett-Darcy.

I'm not usually surprised when I read, but there was one part that I expected to go another way and I was really happy with how it turned out. Of course, I can't tell you what it is. Read the book then we can discuss.

The book also touches a bit on the soul mate or binding theme, and I like the way it as used here.

And Nate, just yeah. He even cooks! I think I have mentioned once or twice my love of Death as a character.

This feels to me like a UF with a lot of romance. I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the next Tale.

[I received an ARC to review.]