Book: Princess of the Midnight Ball
Author: Jessica Day George
Recommend: If you are a fan of fairy tale rewrites, this is great. If not, run the other way…
I picked this one up, being fairly certain I knew what I was in for and was pleasantly surprised how absorbed I was. I have always been a bit confused by this fairy tale honestly and found that this version made it make more sense. Instead of being really confused by the Princesses it made much more sense and I found myself wondering how in the world they were going to get out of the horrible situation they were in. Galen was a great male lead because he seems so normal. I liked the princesses as well because they weren’t obnoxious. I found the back story interesting enough to not be annoyed with it, although I wish there had been a bit more to it.
This is definitely a fluffy indulgent piece of reading which was a great change of pace after reading about vampires/zombies and tons of adult situations. This was a nice change of pace. I think I need to start throwing in teen fiction after intense reads as a habit.
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Book: The Thirteen Hallows
Authors: Michael Scott and Colette Freedman
Recommend: It was well written but there were quite a few negatives. You need a strong stomach for this one.
I thought I was picking up some fairly traditional fantasy. However, this was more modern crime drama/thriller loosely along the lines of the Da Vinci Code combined with an episode of Castle. I wasn’t expecting suspected serial killers with a dash of fantasy. So this one wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.
The big positive for this book was the quality of the writing. One of the best written collaborations I have read in quite some time. The two authors meshed together seamlessly. It made the book very readable. These two author enhance each other instead of bringing each other down.
However, I have a list of reasons that this book might not be for you.
- Extremely gory. Necessary for the storyline but very graphic.
- Fantasy based on the life of Jesus that is not based in fact. (Jesus in Britain – where is that in the Bible?)
- Disturbing sexual content.
- Reads like a crime drama.
- Rushed ending so the authors can string us along with a second book.
This is definitely something to seriously think about before picking up.
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Book: M is for Magic
Author: Neil Gaiman
Recommend: An amusing read by a great fantasy author.
I’m a big fan of the work of Neil Gaiman so when I found this book of his short stories, I snatched it up. While I didn’t love every single story, most of them were really good.
This book is a collection of shorter works, which is always something I really enjoy reading. Short stories are typically extremely well written and can be a lot more imaginative than longer fiction can be. I think my favorite of this set was a crime story using the characters from nursery rhymes. It was so tongue in cheek but the characters took themselves seriously enough that it remained hilarious instead of coming across as hokey.
The seed of what would become The Graveyard Book is also included in this collection as well as a few others which were all fun to read.
Definitely worth the read if you like his other work. If you’ve never read something by him before, start with Neverwhere before getting into his short stories.
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Book: Caught in Crystal
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Recommend: It was okay. A pleasant read..
I know I’ve been saying it quite a bit lately, but I’ve been putting this one off. I have read so many books that I didn’t enjoy that I am becoming more and more wary of many of the ARCs I’ve been receiving. This one screamed cheesy fantasy to me and so I kept delaying. Finally though, I decided to bite the bullet and get going.
This book is part of a loosely connected series. It is not, by far, the first book but they are written so that they can stand alone. This tells the story of an innkeeper with a magical past, one that she left behind in order to marry and have children. She gave up a life of adventure for something simpler. However, when strange visitors begin to show up, she is dragged back into a world that she thought she had left behind forever.
This book told a classic fantasy story with a main character who is more than they seem. It takes this character out of their comfort zone on a whirlwind adventure. This book was unique due to its inclusion of children and the complication they bring to the adventurous lifestyle. It was a fun, traditional fantasy in every sense of the word.
There were a couple of things the author could have done better. For one, her names for things were just cheesy. Examples: The Twisted Tower, The Shining Sisterhood, etc. Characters names included weird spelling and lots of unnecessary letters. Yes, we get it, it’s a fantasy novel but I would like to figure out what the main characters names sound like in my head thanks. Finally, it just takes far too long to get to the main part of the story and when we do, it’s rushed and not well-developed.
While this was an enjoyable, light read, this author isn’t going to be one that I must read more from but she’s also not someone I would avoid either.
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Book: The Strain
Authors: Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan
Recommend: If you like horror, vampires and post-apocalyptic fiction, this one is for you. Graphic language and violence warning.
Okay, I have to admit that when I saw that the author of this book was the same guy who directed one of the darkest movies I have ever seen and was the man directing the two Hobbit movies that are coming soon, I was immediately interested. When I realized that it was a vampire book, I simply had to read this one.
A plane lands at JFK international in New York City. Just after it lands, the whole plane goes dark. Every single shade is drawn down. Everyone on board is dead and missing something rather important – their blood. As the CDC frantically tries to figure out what killed them all, darker forces are at work, trying to cover it all up.
Okay, this was a great read after the last book I picked up. It was fast-paced, adrenaline pumping action with absolutely no wasted words. This book was simple straightforward horror in the best sense. It reminded me of ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King but a bit cleaner and with vampires that are more like the ones seen in The Passage by Justin Cronin. It was a fun read, full of gore and suspense.
I would say that the only negative for this book would be the amount of swearing. I’m not a big fan. I don’t think it adds to the story line. I would also say that it is a very violent book (but given the subject matter, that is to be expected). This is definitely not a book for everyone.
I definitely want to get my hands on the next two books in the trilogy but will be reading them during the daylight hours. Vampire books at night are never a good idea (unless of course they are written by Stephenie Meyer).
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Book: The Lost Gate
Author: Orson Scott Card
Recommend: Definitely! Everyone should read Card’s work. One of the best story tellers I’ve ever read.
I picked this one up when I went to Bookman’s a couple of weeks ago. I have been wanting to get my hands on this book since it first came out and couldn’t pass it up in a used bookstore since it was the only Card book there that I hadn’t already devoured.
If you have never read anything by Orson Scott Card, you need to drop whatever you are reading and pick up Ender’s Game. Now. Not kidding. Don’t bother reading anything further until you have read something written by this man.
Card is best known for his science fiction. Personally I think his science fiction is what pays the bills and fantasy is what he truly loves to write. I love his science fiction but the fantasy novels he writes are even better. This latest book is about a 13-year-old boy named Danny who thinks he has no talent as a mage hidden away in a family compound located in the backwoods of Virginia. However, he discovers, quite by accident that he has a gift. One of the most powerful gifts there are. One that will get him killed simply for existing. Scared, he runs for his life, trying desperately to learn everything he can about the skill that threatens his life. Danny is a gatemage. The only type of mage that can send everyone home. The only kind of mage never allowed to exist.
This is simply one of the best magic systems Card has ever come up with. It’s innovative use of space and time in an almost scientific fashion makes it engaging without being so complex that the reader can’t understand it. Danny is a lot of fun to read with a sense of morality in difficult situations while still being a believable 13-year-old kid. I am really looking forward to the next book in this series and hope for quite a few to follow Danny’s growth as a gatemage.
The only negative I can see in this book is the fact that some of the scenarios feel a bit familiar. Like they were taken from some of Card’s other work, although not enough to make the book unappealing. The reader can see bits of other characters coming to play, even the title of what Danny is, is an obvious reference to Ender’s Game. The gate is down indeed.
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Author: Ted Dekker
Recommend: This series is growing on me.. looking forward to the next one!
This is the second book of a series of four by Ted Dekker. My sister-in-law sent these to me a couple of months ago and I just finished the second one. At the end of the first book, I wasn’t sure how I felt. At the end of the second book, I’m ready to dive into the third.
The book centers on a man named Thomas who is living in two realities. One is very much like our modern world where a virus threatens to destroy the whole world and the only hope is a woman named Monique who invented the vaccine that mutated into the virus. Thomas seems to know more than he ever should and tries to protect Monique and help her find the cure. However when Thomas falls asleep, he wakes in another reality where anything is possible and the modern world is a distant past only remembered through stories.
At first the alternate reality was a bit too much for me, however in this book Dekker seems to have struck the right balance. The allegory in the dream reality is a bit obvious but has a C.S. Lewis quality to it that makes it engaging and interesting.
I would definitely recommend this series at this point and can’t wait to get into White, the next book in the series!
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Author: Ted Dekker
Recommend: If you have a vivid imagination and don’t mind a story that seems to really stretch the bounds of reality..
I am always on the hunt for a good read. A few weeks ago, I read a book co-authored by Ted Dekker. My sister-in-law saw the review and shipped four more books by Dekker to me. She insisted that I would love this series of books.
I have been putting them off for a while, having a bunch of advanced reader copies of books to read but finally got to the first book. This is the first or second book in the series. This book series can be read starting with Black, as I did or starting with White, depending on your mood. It supposed to be a full circle, which is why it is called the Circle series. I decided to read the books in the order they were published in so that I would get the same effect the original readers did.
This book centers around a young man named Thomas who seems to be a nobody. A nobody who has dreams that are uncannily accurate about a virus that threatens the whole world. A super-virus that has no cure or vaccine. A virus that is a mutation of a vaccine meant to save the world. The reader is dragged through two parallel worlds that effect the other.
I had trouble getting into the first book. The dream sequences were somewhat out there and bit hard to swallow for me. However, after a little while, the pace of the book sped up and I was sucked in, even though the dream sequences were still outlandish. By the end of the first book, I still am undecided about this one. I guess I’m just going to have to read the next book and see if I continue to be engaged and see if I can decide if I like them or not. The first book doesn’t really end, it just stops. We’ll see if the next book picks up where the last left off.
I’m not sure exactly what to rate this one, but I am definitely intrigued and open to see what else Mr. Dekker has in store.
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Book: Keeper of Dreams
Author: Orson Scott Card
Recommend: If you like short stories or the work of Orson Scott Card or even if you don’t. He’ll win you over almost instantly…
I love everything I have ever read that Orson Scott Card has written. I haven’t picked up a single book by him that I didn’t enjoy reading. I also have his first book of short stories, Maps in a Mirror. So I was expecting to be thrilled with what I was reading. I wasn’t disappointed at all. His short stories are almost more fun to read than his long fiction because he tends to be more creative in a shorter format and it tends to be better written than his longer fiction and his longer fiction is amazing already.
The book is divided into different sections. The only thing that I could say is that the Mormon stories might be interesting to some but for many they might be confusing if you haven’t grown up in a church background they might not make much sense and in particular his sarcastic story about God and the Devil could be easily misconstrued as something very inappropriate if you didn’t understand the Mormon’s view on God.
I definitely would recommend picking this one up. It’s a great book to have in hand (or on your nook or other less worthy e-reader device) for when you have a few minutes to spare but not enough time for a good book. I would definitely check it out.
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Book: Happily Ever After
Author: Edward H. Carpenter
Recommend: It has potential..
I received this book as a gift from a free giveaway. This is very much not a full sized book but a short story. It felt more like reading an outlined book than reading something completed worked out. I loved the plot idea and thought it was an interesting twist. I wish that there had been more showing the reader what was going on and less telling. He has some serious potential as a writer but has some work to do yet. I hope that as he grows as a writer he decides to revisit this work and expand it because it definitely has the potential to be something intelligent, snarky and just plain fun to read. I wouldn’t recommend it yet but maybe someday in the future if he ever goes back to it.
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Author: Keith Roberts
Recommend: I don’t think anyone would enjoy this honestly..
I picked this up because I like alternate histories usually. This book however turned out to be an exception. The writer does an excellent job of giving you great visuals of what is going on around the characters. The book has quite a bit of symbolism and creativity but that is all the positive that I can come up with about it.
The plot would have been interesting if you didn’t keep jumping to new character, which you later find out are distantly connected to the ones you’ve read about before, but not enough to make them compelling due to the connection. I found the climax of the book very anticlimactic. I think I would have enjoyed it much more had the author taken a bit more time to connect his characters and make you care about the next central character. There is so much that could have made this story more enjoyable for the reader but he just didn’t take the time to do so.
Honestly, I think this one is going out the door and back to the used bookstore. Hopefully no one else will stumble on it and be disappointed by it.
Author: Orson Scott Card
Recommend: Definitely with one caveat..
Okay, I have been wanted to read this due to the title alone for a long time. I’ve read Card’s short stories and find the way that he discusses music extremely powerful. I bought this one at Bookman’s even though it smelled like cigarette smoke and I sneezed the whole time I read it. I was that excited to read this book! I got it right before I got my nook though and for a while anything paper fell by the wayside.
It turns out that it was an extension of one of his short stories which I had loved. It is a wonderful read. The characters literally leap off the page. As a musician I felt an instant connection with it. The main character’s amazing journey is not to be missed. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it will give away too much of the story on this one. I think that the plot becomes more obvious as you connect with this character.
There was one big negative in the book for me that I was blindsided by because of who the author is. Mr. Card is Mormon and though I felt the build up to this, I was shocked by it being included in one of his books. I know that it will prevent many people who read my blog from picking it up and would have a serious problem with it if I didn’t warn them about this. One of the supporting characters is bisexual and there is a scene in the book that makes it very clear. I didn’t expect this of him simply because of the Mormon stance on the issue. While for me, this isn’t something that will keep me from reading a book, I know there are others that it would. While it wouldn’t keep me from reading the book, I do hold to the Biblical view on the issue.
For me, this is one of the most powerful books Card has written. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they can handle it.
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Book: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Recommend? If you are looking for a light fast-paced read with hints of horror…
I honestly was drawn to this book by the cover alone. It’s amazing and creeptastic (not a real word, but it works). I started reading it on my nook a while ago but just didn’t have time to actually sit down and get through it. Today I finally sat down and read it and enjoyed it quite a bit. I actually was still lost in the world of the book and got startled by a coworker as I was leaving the bookstore.
This book tells the story of a young teen named Mackie who is nothing like his peers even though he was raised as one of them. Mackie can’t be around blood, iron or set foot on consecrated ground because he is a changeling and his family knows it. His life starts to fall apart when he finds out that he is dying and starts down a new path that will lead him to the truth about his life and the whole town.
It was a fun fast paced jaunt into some interesting blend of the supernatural and magic. I found the characters oddly appealing, reminding me a bit of something Neil Gaiman would have written as less mature attempt of the memorable characters of Neverwhere. While this was a fun, fast read, I don’t know that it had enough substance to be one of my favorites. This is not a book I’m going to remember for years to come even though it was a fun read.
I think the weak point of this book was that supporting characters were more interesting than Mackie was at many points of the story, particularly Tate, Emma and Mackie’s mother. I also would have liked to see more on the plot line involving Mackie’s mother. I found that part of the story much more interesting than Mackie’s, not that his was bad by any means, I just think that it would have added so much more to the story to show what his mother went through.
Definitely a good Saturday read when you aren’t sure what to pick up next but not something that needs to be on your immediate read list.
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Title: Geektastic:Stories from the Nerd Herd
Authors: Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
I picked this book up at one of the many closing Borders stores in my area. I really just couldn’t resist it on account of the amazing title alone. I must admit- I am a geek of epic proportions. My friends are even worse. I tend to be a literature and music geek but I dabble in most of the major geek areas (except math- cause I’m hopeless at it- that’s what my best friend is for).
I swear that most of these stories happened to me or someone I know. (Especially the last one- you know who you are!!). I loved every second of it. Most of it is funny but some of it really makes you think. This is a great title for the lonely geek who is feeling vastly outnumbered. It will remind you how many of us there are out there. I honestly hope for another installment.
The only negative I can say about this book is that they seemed to deliberately avoid certain geeks. The biggest glaring omission for me was not a single mention of World of Warcraft. This game is the end all be all of geekness. What geek hasn’t logged considerable hours grinding for rep? This needed to be in there and it was completely absent.
I loved that some of the writers were people I actually had heard of and read (most notably, Cassandra Clare- my new hero). I think this is a book that needs to get more notice. If you are a geek, have friends that are geeks or are the parents of a geek- you need to pick this one up.
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Books: Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z
Author Max Brooks
Recommend: If you have a strong stomach…
I’ll admit right now that it has been a while since I posted. Real life just got busy and I was writing when I had free time. Finally this week I decided to delve back into the zombie books I was reading and finished this afternoon.
I picked this up on a whim honestly. I’ve been reading a lot of vampires and werewolves lately and so I figured, why not zombies? It seemed like the next logical step. I love and hate zombie movies. I love them cause they freak and gross me out and I hate them for the same reason. If you are expecting a straight through typical novel read- these books are not for you. The guide is honestly just that. Reading a fictional guide of what to do if zombies were to attack. The second is a long series of short interviews from people who survived and witnessed a worldwide zombie infestation. I honestly found it very interesting. It was the first time that I’ve read anything military related and it has held my interest. I kept going back to compare it to 28 Weeks Later, which I saw for the first time a few weeks ago.
I would warn the reader that this is NOT for someone with a weak stomach. If you can’t watch Bones and eat- don’t read this (yes, I’ve done it- not something I would recommend though). There is blood, gore and humanity at it’s worst in some scenes. This is also not the book for someone who is careful about what they read, or don’t have a good mental filter- read at your own risk- really. I don’t want to get a bunch of comments saying how they couldn’t read it because of the gore, etc. Consider yourself warned.
I loved the realistic feel that the author gave. I think that the way it was written created a feeling like it was extremely realistic, which only added to the tension while reading.
Bottom line, I would recommend these books highly to anyone who thinks that this is their kind of ‘thing’. If you can’t stomach zombies-this is NOT for you
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Book series: The Vampire Diaries
Author: L.J. Smith
Recommend: Not if it was the last book series on earth!!
Okay, I have to admit- I have been sucked into the all things vampire craze. I am a not so closet Twilight fan. You will never see a review of the Twilight Saga on here because I know that I can’t write an objective review. However, after my tenth time through the series, I knew that I needed to find something else to read. My Edward obsession was getting a bit out of control. Someone recommended this book series to me. I have never been so disappointed in a book series- ever! The moment I finished the first four books I had to go back and read Twilight again to restore my faith in vampire books – not kidding.
This series centers around a rich, shallow girl named Elena and two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon. I can’t say much more about the plot line without complete disbelief on your part. I am not kidding! It’s just THAT BAD! The author forced a love triangle that makes no sense, Elena becomes a vampire (and way too early) and it just get more ridiculous the further you read. Beyond the flat and improbable plot, the characters are completely awful! Elena is so shallow it hurts and then she goes through a complete personality makeover with no motivation. Stefan is too wimpy to be believable (this coming from an Edward girl) and Damon is just too unpredictable to be valid.
From what I hear, the TV show is nothing like the books but I have not been brave enough yet to try watching it after suffering through the horrific tragedy that is the book. It makes better kindling than it does a novel. I may tackle the show this summer but I almost anything would be an improvement on this- don’t waste your time reading words behaving this badly!
Author: Orson Scott Card
Recommend: Definitely- an interesting twist on sleeping beauty…
This is one of my favorite Card books which is somewhat odd because it is not his normal science fiction fare. This book is a fantasy that includes both a typical fantasy setting and the modern world mixed together in an extremely unique and engaging story. What would it be like if you were running through the woods one day and found something straight out of a fairytale book? Would you kiss the sleeping princess? What if that princess wasn’t exactly what you thought she would be? What if your prince charming showed up in tennis shoes instead of armor?
This sleeping beauty tale only takes the essence of the girl in her everlasting sleep and the rest is all original Card.
I can’t really come up with a negative for this one. It will grab you and suck you in from beginning to end.
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Book: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict and Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Author: Laurie Viera Rigler
Recommend: Definitely- they are both a fun read.
I picked up Confessions at the library after seeing it in the bookstore. It tells the story of a modern girl named Courtney Stone who gets thrust into the eighteen hundreds into the life of Jane Mansfield, an unmarried daughter of a gentleman. She might even get to meet the real Jane Austen, who has not yet come out as the author of her books. I loved the book and kept wondering was happening with the real Jane, trapped in Courtney’s modern world. I was delighted to find Rude Awakenings at the bookstore a few weeks later which of course tells Jane’s side of the story.
These books are both fun fantasy spins. I would suggest reading Confessions first as it was written first and seems to flow better.
Definitely a fun diversion for summer reading, especially if you are an Austen fan.
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Books: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr
Author: Christopher Paolini
Recommend: For a light read…
the books so far...
I have to admit that for this one I watched the movie long before I got to the book. I thought the movie was alright but that it would be so much better if it was a book and so I went searching. I quickly picked up the first two books and read through them quickly. They were a lot of fun to read and easy to get through.
The story follows a boy named Eragon, who accidentally discovers a dragon egg. The egg decides that Eragon is the one meant to ride him and so it decides to hatch, stealing a plot line from Anne MacCaffrey. Mr. Paolini continues his story in a predictable but fun manner. The only complaint I had with this book was that I could exactly where he took ideas from because they were not well disguised. There are major plot points from books/movies which include, Terry Goodkind(Wizard’s First Rule series), George Lucas (Star Wars trilogy), and Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away ). I can think of more and I’m sure there are many others that would be obvious to others. I laughed when I found them, wondering if everyone else reading them found it as obvious as I did.
That being said it is a great read and I can’t wait for the next book.
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Book: The Child Thief
Author: Brom (yes only one name)
Recommend: Yes if you like real ‘fairy tales’ instead of the Disney sugar-coated versions
I love Peter Pan. I have read the original version, practically memorized the Disney movie, and have seen the play. One night I was walking through my bookstore and started looking through the employee recommended books. Sometimes I’ll come across something really good that I was unaware of. This book is one of those cases and to think I almost didn’t buy it because of the price (this is one expensive book- just warning you now)
I started reading and couldn’t seem to stop. A lot of the things I read I find gripping however this was unusually intense. This version took everything we know about Peter Pan and twisted it down the darkest path possible. I knew I was in for something very different and dark when the book opened with a child who is being molested and chooses to go with this strange boy thinking that nothing could be worse but she would be wrong. When going to ‘Neverland’ is worse than being abused… you know you are in for a dark twisted ride.
Along with the fabulous story line, the book has amazing artwork which is all done by the author. I found the art oddly familiar until I read Brom’s bio and realized that he had done art for both World of Warcraft (which I play) and Magic the Gathering (I used to be an official Wizards of the Coast tournament judge) and it all began it make perfect sense.
This book is amazing but definitely not for the faint-hearted. Definitely on my list of summer rereads
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