Friday, December 27, 2013

The Omen Machine - Terry Goodkind [Sword of Truth]

The Omen Machine - Terry Goodkind [Sword of Truth]
Source: Kindle
Originally Reviewed: December 27, 2013
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Unfortunately, Terry Goodkind started to loose me with this one.

I loved the last 3 books of the Sword of Truth. They were philosophical, really dug deep into Richard, both his character and AS a character. He's a free will kind of person and by god it showed.

The Omen Machine does not detract from this - however, it starts veering from a philosophical slant (taking place after the war detailed in the last books of the SoT) into a more theological. Prophecy practically becomes religion.

However, he once again engages the reader using a variety of unusual and intriguing plot twists and manipulates the story and its characters masterfully, as always. I'm intrigued as to what the "Omen Machine" will turn out to be - but I was not so engaged as to have to immediately run out and purchase the next book. I could easily see him trying to turn this into another epic saga, and after completing SoT, reading all of the books written in the Terre d'Ange world by Jaqueline Carey, and STILL not managing to complete the WoT books yet, I don't think I have it in me to become emotionally involved in yet another massive epic - especially if it's going the direction this book indicates.

Hardcore fans of Terry Goodkind will, of course, love it - and what's not to love? You have your old, cranky/cheeky wizard, the dark, brooding and (sometimes overly) powerful sorceress of questionable morality, the noble, charismatic and steadfast protagonist and his ever-lasting love of pure beauty and goodness, countered by antagonists that make you grit your teeth and, despite their being purely fictional, have it in them to inspire hatred in even the most grounded of readers.

However, digging past the surface of what makes Terry Goodkind such an engaging writer, there is definitely something lacking in The Omen Machine that was present in the preceding books - I just can't put my finger on what it is. It will, sadly, prevent me from continuing on.

Timebound - Rysa Walker [The Chronos Files]

Timebound - Rysa Walker [The Chronos Files]
Source: Kindle First Pick
Originally Reviewed on Goodreads: December 27, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

I got this book as a Kindle First pick.

Now, that being said, after my first Kindle First Pick, I wasn't expecting much. Plus, I see a LOT of repeat in fiction being written these days.

The subject matter alone made me sit up and pay attention. Rysa Walker has managed to create a unique and memorable experience with this book that I haven't encountered in a very long time.

I won't say much more other than I could praise this book all day no matter how crazy it made me sound. I really just wish everybody who encounters this will give it a try. It's not your typical romance, as it deals with a protagonist that's still in high school.

One bad thing. Since I got this through the first reads program... I have to wait even LONGER for the second book!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Close Liasons - Anna Zaires [The Krinar Chronicles]

Close Liasons - Anna Zaires [The Krinar Chronicles]
Source: Kindle
Originally Reviewed: November 23, 2013
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

** spoiler alert **

Mia is a college student living in New York. When we meet her, the only concern she has is a Sociology paper she’s supposed to be writing. That all changes quickly, however, when she catches the eye of a Krinar – a member of an alien race that appeared a number of years ago to “co-exist” with humans on earth.

Enter sexual tension. The Krinar (Korum) is domineering, and seems to take an almost unhealthy interest in the younger (read: a few thousand years younger), human woman. As far as he is concerned, she puts up a token amount of resistance before it turns into a matter of “I really have no choice.”

Move on to the subplot… where she also, apparently, “has no choice.” With her roommate being afraid of what’s happening to Mia’s life, she manages to get Mia involved the “resistance” against the aliens. They want to use her as a spy, as she is intimately involved with Korum (though to hear her rail against it in her head it is completely out of her control and she hates him but oh my god what an orgasm).

So now Mia has both her body supposedly working against her, as well as feeling a need to do something to protect her race against the invading alien race dead set on harvesting women as sex slaves and taking over completely.

A number of events repeat themselves in annoying frequency.

1. The number of times Mia gives in and has sex with Korum no matter how mad, disgusted, pissed off, or otherwise absolutely SURE she won’t ever sleep with him again she is. Give him five seconds in her presence and she’s a goner.

2. While there are a number of sexual encounters insinuated but not detailed, the ones that are inevitably end with Mia berating herself, her self-control, willpower, etc. and reminding herself she’s only doing this because she has no control, has to pretend everything’s okay, yada, yada, yada.

3. How often can Mia puzzle over how completely up-side-down her life has turned? Granted, she’s a na├»ve junior at a university in New York. Yet we discover she’s got an internship lined up for the summer prior to her senior year, she’s going for a degree in Psychology and knows exactly what she wants to do with it. This is a woman of conviction and strength, yet you barely get to see it. You’d think, with a focus like that, she’d have better things to think about than sit around wondering how everything got so out of control. She’s a walking contradiction.

And then we get to the end. Korum knew all along Mia was betraying him, and did nothing about it. The whole time, Mia was afraid of Korum, afraid that he would kill her once he found out what she had been doing. Yet, for all of that fear, when everything hits the fan… he simply takes her hand, offers to take her to see her parents, and whisks her away to one of the Krinar compounds, steady as you please.

As a whole, the book left me completely unsatisfied. The intimate scenes were lacking, the emotion between Korum and Mia was barely thought out (at best), and every time there was a discussion with or about the resistance, I found myself rolling my eyes, skipping it, and realizing in the end – I didn't miss a darn thing. I got this book off of Amazon for free, but I can’t convince myself spending the money on the next book to see if it gets any better will be worth it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Witchy Witchy - Penelope King [Spellbound]

Witchy Witchy - Penelope King [Spellbound]
Source: Kindle
Originally Reviewed: November 17, 2013
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I've heard a lot of fuss about these books, and I have to wonder why. Then again, I also have to wonder if I read too much or watch too many fantasy-type series on TV, because most of what I read these days reminds me of some other book or show or author. This one... just more of the same.

I had a number of moments where I flashed back to The Craft and The Secret Circle. Only difference is here (so far at least) there's only 3 witches, but they're still all teenage girls.

One thing I do like about Witchy, Witchy (though at the same time makes it too YA for my tastes) is these girls deal with normal, every day, teenage girl problems. Not all of their problems are magical, and they don't try to use their magic to solve those problems, either. What a relief!

I thing Penelope King has taken a much more realistic approach to the world of witchcraft in fiction than I've seen to date. Real people mean real problems, whereas magic has its own set of problems, and, occasionally, the two will overlap and, well, that's when crap hits the fan.

I may continue to read on just because there are obviously a number of years ahead of these girls and I hope to see the books grow with them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Phantom - Terry Goodkind [Sword of Truth]

Phantom - Terry Goodkind [Sword of Truth]
Source: Kindle
Originally Reviewed on Goodreads: November 15, 2013
Rating: ★★★★

** spoiler alert **

If you're looking for something along the lines of Mages vs. Sorcerors, some big battles and lots of action... look elsewhere.

I've heard a lot of things said about Terry Goodkind since I first began reading the Sword of Truth novels back in high school, both bad and good. Because of where my interests lay in fantasy, I kept on, because there was definitely something ELSE in Terry Goodkind's works that I couldn't find in other fantasy books that I'd read.

The world he developed is extensive and astounding, filled with rich detail. It gives your imagination plenty of room to play whether provided with stereotypical battle action, or more subtle, thought-out, philosophical action.

Phantom is chalk full of the latter. Richard is a thinker. If you've paid attention at all throughout the series, you would know this. Battle doesn't become him, and the actions he chooses in Phantom only enforce this. The last 3 books of the Sword of Truth are the epitome of Khalan's and Richard's personalities. Neither of them enjoy the fight - the do it only when they have to, when they feel there truly is no other option. It's a tactical measure to be used only when it has some real benefit.

It's been a long while since I read Chainfire, but I remember the general premise - which is what's important here. The Chainfire spell is the central motivating aspect behind everything that takes place in the last 3 books. Without it, this becomes little more than a typical, unimaginative high-action epic fantasy, to pull from the books themselves... "steel vs. steel, magic against magic."

Chainfire gives it something DIFFERENT.

I enjoy the almost philosophical twists and turns Goodkind uses to move the story forward. You may read through parts or introductions to people thinking, "Oh, another inconsequential brute" or "why does this even matter?" but Goodkind has thought ahead. He does not introduce events, people, or things without there being a Very. Good. Reason.

I'm going to reiterate here, because this is probably the most important part about whether or not you'll enjoy Phantom or not. If you're looking for a lot of in your face action, the last 3 books in the Sword of Truth are not for you. If you're into the subtleties, the actual MAGIC, and don't mind a plot being moved forward by getting an insight into characters minds, thoughts and deeds, then you'll thoroughly enjoy the Chainfire trilogy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

No Place for a Dame - Connie Bockway [Royal Agents]

No Place for a Dame - Connie Bockway [Royal Agents]
Source: Kindle First
Originally Reviewed: November 10, 2013
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I got this book as a Kindle First pick. I love historical romances, and the synopsis provided made me hopeful that this book would have something that other historical romances didn't.

It DID have a unique element (which is the ONLY reason it's getting 2 stars instead of 1) - but that's about all I can say it has going for it. It read just like any other historical romance with a "spy" sub plot to it that I've ever read, with the same characters.

A sharp, intelligent man masquerading as a "dandy" falling in love with someone he thinks he's not worthy of or isn't worthy of him or whatever self-pitying excuse they come up with. Which is his only fault.

A witty, intelligent female in love with a man she believes is either out of her league socially, or is too much of a rake. Which is HER only fault.

Truly, the most enjoyable parts of the book are when the heroine gets thrown into some situations that I believe any sheltered, non-society female at the time would find to be VERY awkward. And had absolutely nothing to do with the "romance" OR the sub plot of the book.

I would have been quite content to read it without the romance, as it added absolutely nothing to the story, and it would have likely gotten a better rating.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hounded - Kevin Hearne [Iron Druid]

Hounded - Kevin Hearne [Iron Druid]
Source: Kindle
Originally Reviewed: November 9, 2013
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I'm used to reading things of the caliber of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind and Jacqueline Carey for my fantasy fix. While after reading Hounded I would never put Kevin Hearne in this category, I have to give credit where credit is due. He took a pantheon/mythological race that's been done before and put a interesting, if not wholly pleasing spin on it.

I had to tell myself within the first 20 pages something I often tell myself when confronted with arguments about how the ancient gods and goddesses are portrayed in pop culture - they are what they are, and we are not, thus simply by being human we have to put them in a "box" of sorts. This is where the interesting spin came from, as Hearne managed a fictional take that I would consider almost believable. There simply is no such thing as a perfect god or goddess.

I do have an issue with how he portrays the witches. Hearne demonstrated enough chef knowledge of witchcraft, of both the Wiccan and less "traditional" variety that it made me wonder if it was simple creative license or a personal... delusion that caused him to paint them as little more than monsters in human skins.

As to the overall story itself, taking the book as a whole, I simply can't say it was remarkably good or bad. It had its moments of both. I can say that I will pick up the next book in this series and continue reading, but I will give it only one more book to win me over.