Blogspiration: Of Dreaming…

September 30, 2012 § 5 Comments

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

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Never be afraid to dream, because it is through dreams that you discover the powerful element that is potential. Potential to be strong, to be ambitious, to step outside your comfortable and cushiony box out into the big bad world. To dream for the future is better than dwelling on today, because your dreams determine the present.

Never be ashamed of being a dreamer. They may laugh at you now, but they’ll bow their heads in shame for trying to drag you down with them. Chin up, stay strong, stay focused and remember that the only opinion that matters is yours.

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Review: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 5th July 2011 
Publisher: ROC
Author’s website: www. kalayna.com
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #2 Alex Craft series
Find it at: GoodReads | Amazon | B&N

GoodReads synopsis:

Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.

What I really liked:

  • The plot. The mystery with the severed left feet? Exhilarating, I was riveted the entire time.
  • The time spent in Faerie and the alternate magical realities within the Faerie realm. It was confusing as hell, but I enjoyed the way it was written and the complete lack of predictability the world help.
  • The character dynamics between Alex and her friends and associates, i.e. John, Detective Jensen, Holly, Tamara and Caleb. It’s good to know that these relationships aren’t set in stone and that Alex’s actions affect them deeply with even the smallest action on her part. I’ve read a lot of books where the hero or heroine do something stupendously idiotic, but the offended friend still continues along merrily like nothing happened.\
  • Death, the character. Smoking. Hot.

What I didn’t like

  • The love triangle. From what the gray man told Alex, it really sucks because it seems Death doesn’t even have a chance of being with Alex, that he’s already out of the running for her affection. I hate how these angsty love triangles make me feel – especially in this case because I’m actually rooting for Alex to be with Death, not Falin. Ugh!
  • The parallel of Alex and PC entering Faerie and Dorothy and Toto entering Oz. Alex’s almost fanatical devotion to her dog was so irritating.
  • Alex’s… indifference. I find her a hard character to relate to, she’s incredibly cold and inaccessible to me. She’s passionate about her friends and her job and her magic, but for some reason, that passion doesn’t translate to any particular affinity for me to like her.
  • The introduction of a lot of new characters closer to the end of the book that is obviously laying the foundation for the next book. It was a little irritating because Price obviously wanted the characters introduced, but a lot of them seemed superfluous to the current story (like the reject ‘king’ of the nightmare realm).
  • The scene with Maximillian Bell in the cemetery with his goons. I seriously thought that scene was useless and dragged out that part of the story for me (the part that was supposed to be all gung-ho, oh my god we’re approaching the climax kind of part).

Overall, I liked the second book because of the mystery and the plot. It got a little fuzzy towards the end, especially the parts where she enters Faerie and meets something like half a dozen new characters that we never end up learning a lot about. The romance in the book was considerably lessened because Alex was torn between two love interests, but it seems from the way the book ended that Alex will be staying with Falin for now because of what happened to Edana and the rogue reaper.

I feel really bad for Death, and wish we knew more about the soul collectors and what binds them. Seriously, I feel that Death is so amazing compared to Falin. I can’t even discern the two of them but my heart’s telling me to root for Death and Alex – and even with Edana’s demise and warning, I still want them to be together. Impossible? Fuck it. Even Alex’s relationship with Falin is doomed to failure because of his loyalty to the Winter Court and queen. She just can’t choose the easy way out, can she?

Solid 4 Stars.

My review of Book 1 in the Alex Craft series can be found here.

Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 7th March 2007 
Publisher: Ace
Author’s website: www.ilona-andrews.com/
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #1 Kate Daniels series
Find it at: GoodReads | Amazon | B&N

 

 

 

GoodReads synopsis:

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

What worked for me:

  • Kate, as a character. She’s so badass, so cynical and possesses razor sharp wit and sarcasm, I loved her from the start. She’s independent, determined and stubborn to boot – all personality traits I identify with Alpha Females. I love that she can take care of herself and doesn’t go overboard with the “I’m badass, don’t even think about it” attitude. She talks big, but she can back it up.
  • The little folklore and mythology stories interspersed between the big picture. I loved learning little tidbits about other cultures and their mythos and I admire the amount of research that Ilona and her husband Gordon put in to give the book a bit more juice and credibility.
  • Curran. Oh my, Alpha Male personified. He was hot, and I loved the way his part was written, just fantastic.
  • The range of interesting characters. Saiman the metamorph, Jim the werejaguar and Derek the werewolf. They all added great elements to the book. The only one I’m not too keen on is Ghastek, but eh.
  • The dialogue. I’m big on dialogue and the snappy banter between Curran and Kate was swoon-worthy. And Kate’s thoughts were great too, one of my favourite quotes from the book:

He was describing that moment when you realize that you are lonely. For a time you can be alone and doing fine and never give a thought to living any other way and then you meet someone and suddenly you become lonely.

  • The relationship (or, the laying of bricks for the eventual foundation of a relationship) between Curran and Kate. It was torture, because we knew (probably from the very beginning) that Dr. Toothpaste wasn’t the man for Kate and that it was Curran she was heading for the entire time. You can’t help but root for the Beast Lord! The suspense Andrews was building towards an eventual get together between Kate and Curran was amazing, tiny little flickers here and there, so subtle.

What didn’t work for me:

  • The flow of the story. Even after reading it a second time, I still felt like the events of the story are disjointed, and Kate makes illogical leaps of intuition. The plot stumbles a lot, and I feel like the only reason why I liked reading this book in the first place is the isolated, personal scenes between Kate and other characters when she goes off to investigate.
  • Some elements of the world: i.e. ‘the magic fell’ and ‘tech was up’. It was just… strange. There was a logical explanation of it within the confines of the book, but it just didn’t work for me.
  • The upir. I just didn’t feel like there was enough juice behind this villain, and it seemed so… flashy? I’m not sure what word to use. Is it possible to say that the mystery and the eventual reasoning behind the upir’s crazy massacre was over the top and ridiculous? Anyway, I didn’t like it. Bono seemed too over the top, and the ‘final battle’ with the dragon and Nick from the Order almost had me dropping the book because it was just too much.

As the first book in a series goes, this one didn’t actually impress me as much. I was confused throughout most of it but lived for the action sequences, and the tortuous scenes between Kate and Curran because in my heart I knew they were destined. Kate is a character I can admire, most definitely. She’s a woman who feels comfortable in her own skin, knows how to relatively deal with her demons and isn’t shy to stand up for herself and others.

I felt that since it was the first in the series, Ilona Andrews tried too hard to make the plot epic when it didn’t really need it. The uniqueness of the heroine and her history, the world, and the other major players in the series kept the reader interested enough. Just by throwing the reader through a dozen twists and turns to make the plot development ‘exciting’ just served to confuse.

Kate and Curran are one of my most favourite couples in fiction and they made my Top 10 Fictitious Couples list and the Kate Daniels series made my Top 10 Paranormal Series list.

Review: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

September 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 1st September 2010
Publisher: Penguin
Author’s website: http://www.kalayna.com/
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #1 Alex Craft series
Find it at: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

 

 

 

GoodReads synopsis:

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around…

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life…and her soul.

What worked for me:

  • The plot. It was great, really interesting and the conclusions that Alex made were logical, didn’t leap into the unknown and flowed quite well. The element of mystery was almost tangible, as was the atmosphere of constant danger.
  • Death, the character. He was hot, that’s for sure. I was always intrigued by his presence, he seems like such a great persona! Pity we don’t see enough of him and that he’s basically bound by whatever rules that soul collectors have to abide by.
  • The categories of witchcraft. I liked that Alex wasn’t just a witch, she was a grave witch. I liked the different categories each individual witch could be placed in, because it made it easier to organise in my head and ultimately made it easier to understand the world I was reading about.
  • Alex’s friends: Caleb, Holly and Tamara. I liked the friendship between them; close and dependable but not suffocating.
  • The scene at the Eternal Bloom. Usually ‘heavy’ fae books scare the bejeesus out of me, and I was wary of reading this scene. It was very craftily written though, with everything I expected out of a Fae-run establishment and more. I liked what happened during this scene, too, where Alex cuts the silver thread and breaks the violin’s strings, I was held in thrall throughout this chapter.
  • The sex scene between Alex and Falin. It wasn’t over the top but it was still quite steamy. I liked the buildup towards it, and laughed at the cab scene where the driver is yelling at them.

What didn’t work for me:

  • Falin’s lies of omission. I feel like it was a huge “no-no” after we discovered he is the Winter Queen’s lover and assassin, especially because I had such high hopes for a relationship between Falin and Alex.
  • The quasi-love-triangle that emerges when Alex is near death, between Alex, Falin and Death. I don’t do love triangles very well, especially of the intended lover is unclear and it’s just a tug-of-war with no determined ending or path to walk towards.
  • The world building. I’m heavily into books with fantastic worlds, but I feel that Price’s city of “Nekros” was… really terrible. I mean, with a name like that, it automatically makes me think of cringe-worthy emo teenagers who flaunt morbid labels. The actual world in which Alex lived in was always quite blurry. I didn’t need precise details, but some more information would have been lovely, Ms. Price.
  • Alex, as a character. She seems like she’s so unsure of her identity, her actions are governed on a whim and she seems impulsive without a cause. I can admire an impulsive heroine if it’s in her personality, but Alex jumps back and forth between logic and stupidity at times
  • The dialogue was dry and boring, I felt. I didn’t feel any particular spark between characters through their dialogue, and I’m big on it.

I actually picked this book back up again after about two weeks when I had first begun to read it. The first few chapters are boring, but it was only after the entrance of Detective Andrews did I involve myself into the story. Alex seems likeable enough, and something tells me she’s as special as Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, a special element that will be revealed in subsequent books in the series. I enjoyed the race to find the mysterious ritualistic killer and was interested throughout.

I really hate love triangle books, and I’m hoping the next installment doesn’t have one. Well, let me reiterate: I hate love triangles where the main love interest is unclear and the one in between is indecisive. Hate. That. It just drags on and on.

Still, a 4 Star read – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Further Information:

 

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

September 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 21st May 2011
Publisher: Feral Dream
Author’s websitehttp://susanee.com/
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #1 Penryn and the End of Days series
Find it at: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

 

Amazon book description:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with Raffe, an injured enemy angel. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco, where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

What worked for me:

  • THAT BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS COVER
  • The fast paced action, how every development in the plot didn’t drag on
  • Penryn on the whole. She can take care of herself but isn’t stuck up about being bad-ass. How she isn’t vain and does not view herself as beautiful. How we aren’t told of her loyalty, but see it through her actions and others’ words.
  • The world-building. Damn. Ee does a great job of describing post-apocalypse San Francisco very well.
  • The final scene, after Penryn gets stung by the hybrid angel scorpions and how she could do nothing but observe as her body refused to work due to the paralysis from venom. This was written beautifully. I wonder what Raffe was thinking? Did he think she was truly dead? If he did, why did he fly over the truck as it was making its getaway? Maybe as a last salute and goodbye?

What didn’t work for me:

  • Some parts of the plot seemed superfluous, such as the scenes in Obi’s renegade camp. The fights, especially the one organised by Dee & Dum just seemed so unnecessary.
  • Penryn’s narrative voice, it annoyed me a few times because of the disparity between what she was thinking, to what she did and how she felt – it didn’t connect at times.
  • Raffe, at times. It was strange how he went from complete indifference towards Penryn, to kissing her passionately, to risking his life for her in such a short time without any kind of indicator that he was feeling anything at all. It was a strange leap to make because there were no romantic notions whatsoever except from Penryn’s point of view.
  • Penryn’s teenage infatuation with Raffe. This annoyed me often, because she couldn’t seem to stop ogling him. If there does end up being a romance in the second installment of the series, I’m going to be wary of it because from Penryn’s perspective she’s infatuated with his physicality and is not entirely committed into truly caring for him (though her actions in trying to save him at the aerie said otherwise). I need more!

I’d heard a lot about this book and the significance of it gaining so much popularity considering the author is self-pubbed. Add to the fact that it was relatively cheap on the Kindle Store, I didn’t hesitate considering I’ve been wanting to pick up a fantasy book lately. I liked the ‘ride’. It was frantically paced, and some of the more gruesome scenes had descriptions that had me cringing. A great read and a new look on angels that don’t quite fall with the added bonus of agnostic angels, something new with a kick! Sad to know that the next installment is due out in 2013, poo!

 

Review: A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter

September 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Rating: 5 Stars and The Golden Bookshelf!!

Okay. I need to compose myself for this extended review. Ahem.

A Hidden Fire is the first in The Elemental Mysteries series by Elizabeth Hunter, a self-published indie author. I was pleasantly surprised and totally glad that I decided to give this book a go. Usually I’m wary of free books by unpublished authors, but A Hidden Fire completely blew me away. The best thing is that it’s free on the Amazon Kindle Store! Go get it!

The story revolves around a remarkable and intelligent librarian named Beatrice De Novo who (seemingly accidentally at first) is thrust headfirst into the world of vampires by her affiliation with mysterious, broody Dr. Giovanni Vecchio. Think HBO’s True Blood vs. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Hunter builds a grand world that is so believable, incredible in all ways and has epic proportions. And the dialogue between the two? Beautiful. Just beautiful.

“So, the wooden stake through the heart thing is apparently a myth, but you can be killed by fire. Anything else?”

“Should I be concerned that one of your first questions is how to kill me?”

Her jaw dropped. “What? No! I didn’t mean… I was just curious.”

He snorted. “Well you can remain so.”

“What about the sun?” she asked. “Extra toasty?”

“I’m not going to burst into flames, but I avoid tanning beds.”

“Silver?”

“Some of my favorite cufflinks.”

“Garlic?”

“Please,” he sneered. “I’m Italian.”

Hunter’s writing style is sharp yet graceful and is an exquisite mix of tenderness and brutality. She had me wrapped around her fingers from the word ‘go’. I can’t explain my love for this series – it won’t pull at your heartstrings, hell no, it’ll rip them to shreds. An absolutely fantastic read. And check out that amazing front cover, too!

Spoilers beneath the Read More!

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Booking Through Thursday

September 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Found on Carabosse’s blog:

Do you bring the book(s) you’re reading with you when you go out? How? Physically, or in an e-reader of some kind? Have your habits in this regard changed?

In the past it was always the tangible, touchable, smellable book to hold and cuddle with.

Now, with the idea of recycling, deforestation, space-maximising and money-saving, I’ve had to resort to an eReader. In the long run, I know it’ll pay off. I read off three devices: my Kindle, my iPhone and my iPad, in this order. I only just got the Kindle recently, and I’m so in love with it!

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