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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Review: Trance

Trance (MetaWars #1) by Kelly Meding

While this had many elements of my usual UF reads (kickass action, interesting mythology, and some romance), the overall feel was very different.

Trance is much darker than I was expecting. So very tense. I really wasn't sure who would make it, but I wasn't numbed to the prospect of losing anyone either. Good balance and I was left guessing to the end as to who would still be standing.

The world is still recovering from a horrific war between superheroes and supervillains. Teresa, "Trance", is the daughter of the leader of the Rangers - the good guys. She and other young superheroes were trying to get to safety when all of a sudden all metahumans lost their powers.

The children were separated and sent to live in foster homes.

Fifteen years later, Teresa is harder, more bitter, and definitely not what you would expect from the daughter of a superhero. All of a sudden, she gets her powers back, and she races to the former Ranger headquarters. She meets up with Gage, "Cipher", and they quickly learn that its not just the good guys who got their powers back. The supervillain Bane is hot on their trail. Teresa also learns that she got back her powers and then some.

They are on a race to find the others before Bane does, need to manage their public persona in a world that sees all metahumans as bad news, and stop Bane once and for all.

Betrayals, finding the truth behind what really happened in the war, adjusting to their new lives complete with the baggage of the past 15 years, and lots of action - oh yeah, there is action here aplenty.

There is a lot going on, and everything speeds by, but I liked it. I'll be reading the next one.

Review: Libriomancer

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines

I loved every book geek-fueled moment. It was fun with the right amount of tension and action. I want Isaac Vainio's job and a pet flaming spider. I also really dig the idea of the power we geeks give to our beloved books, movies, and action figures (an idea also found in Geekomancy, another recent read).

Isaac is a librarian at a normal, mundane small-town library. He is also a librarian for the DZP, an organization that patrols the magical community. He used to do field work, but has been demoted due to a past "magical indiscretion." There are vampires - probably my favorite vampires I've seen in some time, and someone is trying to start a war between vamps and humans. Is Gutenberg, the incredibly long-lived and powerful creator of the DZP involved? Who can Isaac trust?

He teams up with a dryad, Lena Greenwood, who needs Isaac's help in more ways than one. Lena is a very intriguing character. It almost feels spoilery to talk about her. I did like her interactions with Isaac. It will be interesting to see where this all goes.

It's another book that I don't want to describe too much. I had such an enjoyable time uncovering everything.

I will say: very cool world & magic system + interesting characters + good action.

I'll be reading book 2.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Some links, deals, giveaways...

Not sure how long this deal will last, but Maria E. Schneider over at Bear Mountain Books reported that Neil Gaiman's American Gods is $2.99 for the eBook at Amazon. Maria is a great source for cheap and free deals on eBooks, as well as a good source for self-published author recs. And I've enjoyed many of her stories as well. There's currently a Goodreads giveaway for her Catch an Honest Thief.

Other Kindle deals:

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep $2.99

Darkwood by M.E. Breen $1.99 - Has been on my TBR list for awhile.

Today at Stellar Four it's Trailer Thursday!

Other Goodreads Giveaways:

Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous edited by Tim Marquitz (US, CA, GB, and AU) - I'm currently reading this one. Creepy but not too gory.

Death: Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman (US)

The Silvered by Tanya Huff (US)

The Wheel of Time Book 1 by Robert Jordan (US)

The Missing by Shiloh Walker (lots of countries)

Stolen by Shiloh Walker (lots of countries)

Hounded (Iron Druid #1) by Kevin Hearne (US) - If you haven't read this one yet, I highly rec it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Better to See You

Today the Book Pile is part of the cover reveal for The Better to See You (transplanted Tales #2) by Kate SeRine. I really had fun reading the first book in this series, Red, and I'm eagerly awaiting book 2. I have a thing for fairytales, and when those tales have to deal with the real world and living life outside their stories, that is good stuff.

From the publisher:

"Coming February 2013 from eKensington

Once upon a time, a spell went awry and Make Believe characters were cast into the ordinary world.

And the results aren’t always happily ever after…

Everyone thinks fairy godmothers can do no wrong. But if not for a certain spell mis-cast by Lavender Seelie, Cinderella’s former fairy godmother, the Tales would not be stuck in the Here and Now. Fortunately for Lavender, she’s about to get a second chance at a happy ending…

The Refuge, a sanctuary for wayward Tales, seems like the perfect place for Lavender to start a new life—especially when she discovers an unexpected ally in Seth, the brooding werewolf who’s been typecast as a villain ever since his run in with Little Red Riding Hood. But when humans from nearby towns start turning up dead, their bodies mutilated with archaic Tale symbols, Lavender wonders if Seth’s deep sensuality has blinded her to the truth. And that distraction could put innocent lives in danger. Including her own…"

I have to be honest. While I knew that Seth would be getting his story, I was a bit surprised that Lavender is the female lead. We only got a small taste of her in Red, so I'm looking forward to seeing what SeRine does with this character. Considering that fairy godmothers are always the support staff in fairytales, I like that this one is getting her turn center stage.

And here is the cover:

Well Hello, Seth! My, what big...I think I'll let you fill in the rest.

Sidenote: Anyone want to take bets on how many times someone has uttered those words today?

I have seen many variations on the bare-chest male cover, and I'm glad that this one isn't headless. I also like that the eyes are very vivid. I was checking against Red's cover and I like that the font is carried through, but Red's simplicity remains my fav of the two. This definitely catches the eye and lets you know that there's going to be Romance here. Red skirted UF/PNR for me.

I think I'll just ruminate on it a bit more while you go check out the giveaway*.

As a special treat to celebrate the cover reveal, Kate is giving away three copies of RED (Transplanted Tales #1). Enter using the Rafflecopter widget:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find out more about Kate SeRine and Transplanted Tales:

*This giveaway is part of the Cover Reveal Party, not a Book Pile giveaway.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: The Kingdom

The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2) by Amanda Stevens

This is another hugely addictive series. I talked about the series as a whole over at Stellar Four. This time I'm just reviewing the second installment.

If you haven't read The Restorer yet, you might want to skip reading this review until you are caught up.

Amelia has taken a job on a remote island as a way of distancing herself from the haunted John Devlin. She meets the alluring Thane Asher and uncovers a murder mystery and the truth about where she came from. (Cue intense dramatic music)

She also gets a dog.

Like The Restorer, this one is atmospheric and angsty, and just freaking delicious to read. I love all of the gothic glory and tortured romance. It completely works and I want more. It's another book where I don't want to tell you much about story specifics because it was all part of creating the broody, thick tension-filled setting and I don't want to spoil it for you.

There is kind of a love interest in Thane, but we aren't in love triangle territory. I can't explain why, but we aren't there.

I do stand by my thought that Amelia needs to find some way to scratch that itch. Really.

Again, we see ghosts that follow Papa Grey's definition, but we also see signs that there are more to ghosts than just what Amelia knows.

We get some answers in this one, and a bit of a teaser about who will be featured in the next book. I will be reading it soon.

Review: Redshirts

Redshirts by John Scalzi

The short review: I really enjoyed this book.

A little explanation:

I cut my sci fi teeth on Star Trek re-runs. My entire family watched every Trek series together (original through to the first season of Voyager).  I bought my uncle a red t-shirt that read "Expendable" (from Thinkgeek) for Christmas. I also bought him this book.

I have a touch more than an armchair interest in writing as well.

I AM the audience for this book. It's meta. It's funny. It made me want to watch old Trek episodes.

Ensign Dahl and his friends have just been assigned to the Intrepid - a ship with a horrifically large body count on away missions, and where every now and then the captain and crew get caught up in an overwhelming need to make everything as dramatic as possible. It's like they are living in a sci fi tv show - except it is a horribly written one.

I just can't even describe more without spoiling the things that I enjoyed so much.

I will say that the story ended before I thought it would, with the remaining pages giving bits about some of the peripheral characters. I don't feel anything missing from the main storyline, though.

I'm curious as to how someone who didn't like Trek would approach this book, but then I think they might not at all, so the speculation is a moot point. Yes, sometimes it is a bit "on the nose" but I felt like I was in on the joke, so it didn't bother me.

Review: Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels (Black Knights Inc. #1) by Julie Ann Walker

It's like The Expendables, except along with the ass-kicking, guns & explosions you also have Romance and smexytimes. The characters do make a joke about this, which I appreciated.

As I am a fan of The Expendables in all its action-packed glory, as well as a fan of Romance with big bads and action of all kinds, this was a very fun read for me.

Nate has been lusting after his best friend Griff's sister for years. After a job gone wrong, Griff is killed and Nate is too wracked with guilt to do anything but try to protect Ali, and that means keeping his distance. Ali has always had a thing for her older brother's best friend, but thinks he doesn't like her because he is always so aloof. When she realizes someone is following her and the danger is mounting, she knows that Nate is the only one who can help.

Cue Ali's introduction to Black Knights, Inc, a group of covert operatives who operate under the guise of a bike shop. Pretty soon all hell is breaking loose and things are heatin' up all over. Just what I want in a fun, escapist Action-Romance.

Nate & Ali worked for me. I bought their relationship. There is some miscommunication, but given the context, that was totally natural. There was more puking than I normally see in a Romance, but it was OK.

I liked the cast of side characters, too. Can't wait to read Becky & Frank's book - they have some excellent banter and tension going on.

Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

This story punts you out of the plane and lets you free-fall without a parachute into the world. It took some getting used to, but I got absorbed in it. So much so that it was high on my list of addictive reads (I talked about it over at Stellar Four).

This is the first book in the Bannon & Clare series. It's alt-Victorian with magic, gadgets, deductive geniuses, conspiracies against the crown, fantastical creatures, and a team that may or may not be able to trust each other.

I referred to this book in the past as steampunk, but I'm starting to question the use of the genre name. Overall, I don't know that much of us really have a concrete definition of steampunk. I've been thinking about it, and I tend to lump fantasy with alt-history (esp Victorian England or late 1800s elsewhere in the world) and some kind of gadgetry in the steampunk sub-genre. I think this is pretty consistent with your average reader. Purists might be gagging right now, but so be it. Feel free to school me in the comments.

I would say that Saintcrow takes elements of steampunk/alt-history to concoct some bookish alchemy, and I truly enjoyed the effect. I can't say that I understood every reference. There are a couple of lines of dialogue that completely went left when my brain went right. It really didn't matter for me.  I rarely understood the techno-gobbledygook on Star Trek:TNG, but I still watched it faithfully every week. The arcane references felt much the same - background detail that the characters knew all about, but weren't crucial to understand the main plotline. What worked was the vivid descriptions and that the world was revealed as the action went along. We didn't have a lot of asides telling us all about the world. I gleaned what I could as the story progressed.

Miss Emma Bannon is a sorceress. A very, very powerful sorceress. She is overworked, isn't sure she can trust her Shield, Mikal, and is still reeling from a traumatic event in her past. Mr. Archibald Clare is a mentath - a deductive genius (think Sherlock) who survives on logic and must have puzzles to stimulate his vast intellect or he might go mad. Throw in an Italian assassin, a German mechanist, and loads of conspiracies and you have one action-packed story.

Now, seeing the line-up with the magical Miss Bannon and logical Mr. Clare, you might be thinking, "Opposites attract, there is going to be some kind of romance here." Yeah, you can think that, but if it's romance you're after, this isn't that book. Not that there aren't developments, but it's not the crux of the story. Can't reveal anymore without spoilers.

Of course, I long ago stopped thinking that I would get the usual from Saintcrow. Now I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Review: The Earl's Dilemma

The Earl's Dilemma By Emily May

I was in a bit of a rut last week. It happens. I needed something completely different from my usual fantasy fare and this historical romance fit the bill.

It's a quick read, easy to get into, and I liked the characters.

James needs a wife or he will be disinherited, and only has 2 months to find one (of course), so he decides to settle on his best friend's sister. He likes her, she isn't afraid of him (he has a tendency to scowl and "look stern"), and he thinks they will get on tolerably well. Since she's on the shelf and not known for her beauty, he thinks this is a slam-dunk arrangement.

Kate has secretly been in love with James for years. She overhears James' talking to her brother and she hears him say that he doesn't love her, but he's sure she'll agree to marry him. He says some other insulting things as well. (Note: In reality, for the time, I suppose this would have been an ideal match for her, but this is a Romance, so I went with it.) Kate says no, but that she will help James find a woman he can love.

Of course, as Kate introduces James to the other eligible young ladies he starts realizing that Kate is the only one he wants. Then he has to convince her he is sincere.

I did love that Kate didn't have to marry. She wasn't going to be sent out into the streets. She had a very strong relationship with her brother and had her own fortune - enough that she could establish her own household if she wished. So, she didn't have to marry anyone. I really loved it when she told that to James, too.

It was diverting for a few hours and was a warm & fuzzy romance. If you like historicals (or like me, just need a change of pace for a bit), you should look into it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Full Blooded Winner!

Congrats to Maria! Amanda will be sending you your signed ARC very soon!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and big ginormous thanks to Amanda for the giveaway!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcome to the Pack Tour (& Giveaway!)

Love the pretty cover!

Amanda Carlson is back (you might remember a little Q&A we did for the Blooded novella). This time the Book Pile is a stop on the Full Blooded blog tour and I could not be more excited. There's a prezzie for one lucky reader too!

From the blurb: "It's not easy being a girl. It's even harder when you're the only girl in a family of werewolves. But it's next to impossible when your very existence spells out the doom of your race... Meet Jessica McClain -- she just became part of the pack.

In the vein of Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs, a new urban fantasy that rewrites the werewolf myth..."

Full disclosure, Amanda is a dear friend and I got to witness and read this story from the very beginning. That said, I was eagerly waiting for each installment, so I'm not bs-ing you when I say it's a damn good read.

The book starts with a bang (worst "wake up call" ever) and just keeps going. The action is great. I love that we are thrown into this world, and even though Jess has been on the periphery of it, she now has to learn quick, and we get to tag along.

Werewolves, witches, vampires (not romantic, these are evil suckers), demons, and so on. Jess has just become the only female werewolf - something everyone in the supernatural community seems really pissed about. Throw in prophecies, conspiracies, and betrayals and this is a fun ride.

There is some romance, but this isn't a Romance. I thought it fit well with the story.

Love the characters - Jess is my kind of heroine. Marcy is fantastic as the witchy friend. Tyler, James, Danny & Nick - I love them all, but have to go with Danny as my fav. Cocky with an accent. That'll do it. And Rourke, very well done indeed.

With Jess as the solo female in the pack, you might say it's raining men.

But don't think that this is a "Jess juggles four boyfriends as well as fights for her life." Nope. This is action first, and often. With a hefty dose of kickass on the side.

I received an ARC of this book, and I got to read this story from the beginning, eagerly awaiting each new chapter, so I feel a lot closer to these characters than I would a new to me series. That said, I would come to the end of each chapter and howl at having to wait for more, so I really liked it from the earliest start. It's a great start to a series.

Full Blooded is officially out September 11, but some copies have been seen "in the wild" already.

Now to the Giveaway: Amanda has generously offered a signed ARC of Full Blooded to one lucky commenter. If you could wake up tomorrow as a supernatural, what would you be? Leave a comment with a way to contact you by Wednesday, September 12. Tweet about the contest and get another entry (include the tweet URL for your second entry). Winner announced Thursday. US & CA only.

Note: if you don't want to leave your e-mail in the comments, you can send it to me at kindleaholic [at] and you'll still be entered.

Thanks, Amanda! The rest of you, read this book!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: In a Fix

In a Fix by Linda Grimes

First book in a new UF series that is devoid of the usual vamps, shifters, fae and magic. Instead we have a group of aura readers - with a touch they can become anyone's double. I found this aspect to be very intriguing. There are so many chances for someone to abuse this power as well as use it to help. Will be interesting what happens as the series goes on. Add in spies, demented conspiracies and interesting family/friend dynamics and it made for a fun read. It also felt lighter to me than other UF without being too light. The main bad guy is nuts, but he isn't as bad as some.

Ciel uses her powers as a kind of "life fixer," stepping, literally, into someones shoes to make things go their way. She runs her own business, but her family and close friends always seem to be butting in. She's the proverbial little sister and is tired of everyone treating her like a child.

Then her latest "fix" goes south when her client's boyfriend is kidnapped right before he can propose, and Ciel kicks her way into the big leagues alongside longtime friend Mark and irascible "cousin" Billy.

This book was so easy to get into. That doesn't mean there weren't parts where I felt that my disbelief had to be suspended a bit more, but when I was in the story, it didn't bother me. There were a few instances where I got really ticked at Ciel for barging in without fully understanding the consequences, but I could also see why she did it, in a way. Ciel does have some growing up to do.

There is a romance, of sorts. I really hesitate to call it that, to be honest. I felt more like Ciel was finally coming into her own and starting to live it up a bit. In no way do I think she is ready for settling down. At times it felt like there was almost a love quadrangle going on, but then since there really wasn't any firm relationship progress, I can't really even call it that. Mostly it's flirting and a few kisses. And maybe a bit more (so those who need a little smexy-action won't feel too left out). It's a woman who has always been on the sidelines. I can see where she'd want to live a little.

A lighter UF with a very intriguing mythology. I'll be looking for the next one.

[Received an ARC to review.]