Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Coveted - Laura Thalassa [The Unearthly]

The Coveted - Laura Thalassa [The Unearthly]
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Originally Reviewed on Goodreads: January 28, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆

As required:
I received this book through one of the Goodreads giveaways.

Now, for the good stuff.

I haven't read the first one. Haven't even LOOKED at the first one. But after reading this, I want to. It's next on my "to buy" list.

When the "vampire" aspect was brought in, I admit I rolled my eyes - I'm not a big vampire book fan. However, Laura Thalassa definitely put a spin on the whole world that made it an enjoyable read. Seers and Witches and Fairies and... shifters? Point being, it included different types of "supernaturals" or "mythologicals" than just the requisite vampires and shifters and other "baddies" you often find. I mean hey, if you're going to go creative on one aspect of the supernatural, why not just assume they all exist as well and have as much fun as possible?

Now, while it's apparent that the heroine could be considered a young adult, this doesn't necessarily read like a YA novel, which was a VERY pleasant surprise. I find her closest friends to be a good balance for her and actually bring something to the story.

There's not a lot I can criticize about this book. I wasn't hopeful at first, but as I read I found myself engaged and unwilling to put the book down. I was worried about the relationship between Gab and Andre, but was pleasantly surprised with their interaction. For the situations they were in, the situation I picked up on them leaving just a few months ago, and for Gab's headspace, it had just the right amount of tension without going overboard and shattering that element.

I am interested in following this story futher. I want to know why the Devil is after her - and I definitely want to know about this whole "vampire/siren" thing. And what's up with the fates involvement? There are questions left unanswered that intrigue me, and I definitely want to find out more.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Divergent - Veronica Roth [Divergent]

Divergent - Veronica Roth [Divergent]
Source: Kindle
Originally Reviewed: January 27, 2014
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Look, just being honest, this one struck me as a very mediocre book. The synopsis was engaging, had me intrigued and I debated a long time before finally purchasing because I'm not typically a fan of YA fiction (which this strikes me as).

With that out of the way, I do have to applaud Roth on her imagination. It's something I'm seeing a lot these days - authors with a lot of imagination, a lot of great ideas, but lacking either the technical skill or the time to really do them justice. Roth, unfortunately, falls into this category for me.

The idea of factions is reminiscent of old-school India (and I only say that because I'm not as familiar with the cultural arrangements of modern India as I am with the historical). A few of the classes in the book escape me, but the correlations that stand out to me the most are Brahmin/Abnegation (responsible for the "morality" of the people), Kshatriya/Dauntless (the warriors), and the Untouchables/Factionless (the ones who live separate from society and have the really crappy jobs).

Implementing this kind of a system into a modern setting, very possibly in the US itself, is... sobering. The thought that a society would become so self-destructive that they would turn to a caste-like system in order to save themselves, where there is a LARGE gap between factions (socially speaking, at least) and families can be torn apart just by where interests lay... it's a bleak picture of the world in deed, and Roth does a great job of illustrating it.

With an engaging premise and a solid world to build on, I was genuinely hopeful I wouldn't be disappointed by the characters... but I was. (To be fair, this is where I am usually let down the most in a book). This is also usually why I stay away from YA reads, as due to both the age of the main characters and the age of the intended reader, things are not nearly as developed as I prefer.

For a YA read, this would more than likely be one of the more superior reads available these days. From a book fiend who has read everything from Jane Eyre at age 12 to Harry Potter at age 25, it just doesn't measure up.

Monday, January 13, 2014

He's a Magic Man - Susan Squires [Children of Merlin]

He's a Magic Man - Susan Squires [Children of Merlin]
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Originally Reviewed: January 13, 2014
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I got this as a Goodreads Firstreads win, so I'm going to summarize a few points here while the book is still fresh in my mind since I don't have time for a fully involved review:

1. Felt like it took too long to read.
Why? I'm a fast reader. I can get through the early books of the Wheel of Time in 3-5 days. This one, at (less than) half that, took me to the far end of that scale. The first half of the book kept my interest nice and fast, but the more I read, the less I started caring about what happened to the people, or in general.

2. Been there, done that.
The descendants of Merlin, and people who get their power from Morgan La Fey. Athurian-era artifacts. Anybody remember Stargate SG-1/Atlantis?

3. The raging alcoholic.
Okay, score for throwing this in as a twist, and giving Drew the balls to do what she did. However... we're talking, what, a week? Alcoholism doesn't just go away in a week, no matter how thoroughly detoxed. Sure, throw the magic in and everything's hunky-dory, but there is such a thing as relying TOO MUCH on the magic.

4. Drew's got a pair.
This is one ballsy woman. After what we see her face early on in the book, she seems to have this bottomless pit of determination, while still maintaining a healthy dose of "what if"? (Not like she lets that stop her. Like I said, she's got a pair.) I was cheering her on through the entire detox. That gave a REAL nice balance to the whiny high schooler she became any time her gift/power was involved (No, I'm not putting that bit down - considering her familial status and everything else, it almost makes more sense than just about anything else in the book).

All in all, it felt like the first half of the book is where Squires really took her time and thought out what she was writing. Maybe even first 2/3 - then its almost as if a reminder popped up on the calender and it became, "Oh, crap! Deadline!"

I do plan on reading other books in this series, so I can get a better feel for Squires as an author.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mint Juleps and Justice - Nancy Naigle [Adams Grove]

Mint Juleps and Justice - Nancy Naigle [Adams Grove]
Source: Kindle First
Originally Reviewed on Goodreads: January 4, 2014
Rating: ★★★★

** spoiler alert **

Mike and Brooke have enough baggage between them to fill a fleet of jetliners. Between Brooke's nasty divorce and the murder of Mike's wife eight years ago, the odds are seemingly stacked against them from the start.

One thing I love about Mint Juleps and Justice is this - the characters are REAL. Brooke Justice has a real job where she interacts with real people, and has a real fun quirk of believing in good luck signs almost religiously. Mike is a former Marine who is trying to balance himself back into civilian life by running a small-town investigative firm, and giving a military pup its first year of training.

Brooke's job throws them together from day one, and in a small town, chance encounters are bound to happen on a frequent basis once you've met someone face to face. The "chance" encounters turn purposeful when Brooke's baggage forces her to seek the aid of Mike's investigative services.

However, just when things were finally getting settled for Brooke and she begins to gain confidence in her ability to have a relationship with Mike, Mike's world gets turned up-side-down when he finds out, two months after the fact, that the baggage he thought himself finally ready to let go of and move forward from has once again reared its ugly head.

Without going into too many details, the progression of the story - both the main story between Brooke and Mike, and the plots surrounding each of their individual baggage - is fluid and keeps the reader engaged. The only thing keeping me from giving this book a full 5-star review is this - I simply do not like being clued into certain things before the characters are, which is the case with Mike's baggage.

Overall, it's a nice, easy read. It's real people engaging in a real relationship with real problems that can only be overcome together. It's a story I can relate to, and that just makes it all the more engaging.