Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Death: A Review of Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione

First, there were the Underworld General books, in which we learned about demon hospitals and sex demons. From those, grew this series--The Lords of Deliverance, featuring the four horseman of the apocalypse as the romantic leads.

This, book 3, puts the spotlight on Thanatos (who would be Death), and his relationship with Regan, a demon huntress of special talents. And guess what, guys? This is a secret baby book! No joke! In the last book, Regan forced Than to sleep with her, believing that their baby could stop the apocalypse. Because Than has been in a coma-like state for the past 8+ months, he doesn't know about the baby. When he finds out, he's launched into a world of uncertainty regarding how to raise his baby, protect Regan, and take down his now evil brother, Pestilence.

Positive Comments:

I really liked Than. He makes an interesting death figure. I found his struggles, his pain, and his way of dealing with everything to be highly sympathetic.

I like the mythology. After having so many books to build this world, Ione has found a balance between too much and too little world building that really works for me. The angels, the demons, the what, where, and how of the apocalypse, are explained just enough so that you don't feel lost--but not at just length that you get bored.

There's, umm, pregnancy sex. Which is interesting. Than and Regan have great chemistry, and the sex is hot...But I'll admit, I was surprised to see them getting it on while she was 8 1/2 months pregnant and knowing that the baby has this huge part in the apocalypse and they need to time the birth just right...whatever. It didn't bother me, but use your judgement.

Critical Comments:

Regan is given these sort of off-hand flaws and issues. She has OCD, but it's not really a problem. She was bulimic once upon a time, but she's over it now. She has abandonment issues that kind of get solved with no fuss or bother. I just felt like the author half-assed her character development. She's got issues...poof, they're gone. Happy ending! I felt blind sided by it.


I continue to recommend Larissa Ione to anyone who likes their paranormal romance a little on the dark side. If you like demons, sex, and a touch of horror, you'll like these books. If you've kept up with the series so far, I can assure you that Lethal Rider does not disappoint. 4 stars.

Buy the Book: Lethal Rider (Lords of Deliverance)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blod Tour! A Review of Knee Deep by Jolene Perry

This is my third Jolene Perry book, and I can now say with absolute certainty that I am a fan of hers. Her writing has that special, undefinable quality that makes contemporary YA work for me--a quality so rare that I usually only come across it once or twice a year.

Knee Deep focuses on Ronnie, a girl in her senior year of high school, who is in a very unhealthy relationship. Ronnie is just starting to find herself, by trying out for the school play and finding a special love of acting. But her self discovery is hindered by Shawn, her long-term boyfriend, who's behavior is becoming increasingly selfish and destructive. Even as she tries to make excuses for Shawn, and tries to make their relationship work, she finds herself falling for her costar in the play--Luke. Luke is one of her best friends, and very sweet. But Ronnie believes that Shawn, with all of his flaws, is her soulmate.

Positive Comments:

Perry makes this simple, predictable plot emotionally gripping. She takes the time to build Ronnie and Shawn's relationship so that the reader really understands what Ronnie is clinging to. I understood, for example, that Ronnie had created  an ideal version of Shawn in her mind, and convinced herself that he would be that Shawn if only she could be patient enough to wait for him.

I loved Luke, and I felt very empathetic toward him. Having been a friend to an abuse victim, I could clearly understand the position he was in. This position is made all the worse by the fact that he's in love with Ronnie. He wants to protect her, and he can't. Luke is Ronnie's night in shining armor, but she'd rather be with the monster.

Perry writes parent/teen relationships very well. Ronnie's parents are also in the position of wanting to help her, but are mostly unable to. Ronnie's father, in particular, is brilliant in his quest to get Ronnie to open up, and later to help her heal after things get really bad. Every girl should be so fortunate as to have a dad like that.

Overall, I just really loved Ronnie's emotional journey--from stubbornly in love, to torn between Luke and Shawn, to all on her own. And of course, I can't give away how it all ends, but I'll just say that the end was so appropriate and so emotionally fulfilling that I sighed contentedly.

Critical Comments:

Unfortunately, I think I'm the only person in the whole world who DOESN'T find Romeo and Juliet romantic. Ronnie's performance as Juliet was part of what opened her heart to feelings toward Luke, and that's great for her. But I just don't get it. I wasn't able to connect with Ronnie during those times--but that is, of course, a matter of my own taste.

Be warned that Ronnie makes some frustrating decisions. She acts exactly, and I mean exactly, like every abused girl I've ever known does. She stays when things are clearly bad and headed towards horrible. She keeps it all a secret, and she makes excuses.  And that can be as tough to read about as it is to watch.


Young adult fans, romance fans--you really need to give this book a try. It's sweet, sad, and uplifting, all at the same time. The characters are well developed, the tone is relaxed and somber, and the story is thought provoking. 4 stars.

By from Amazon:  Knee Deep

Monday, May 28, 2012

Miscellaneous Monday: If I Had a Secret Baby

Of all of the popular tropes in romance novels, I think The Secret Baby baffles and fascinates me the most. First, I'm always amazed by the leaps in logic and emotion that heroines take when they decide to keep the baby a secret. Second, I wonder why these accidental pregnancy/secret baby plots have such a firm niche--why are these things popular, guys? But third, and most importantly, what if we tried to pull this in real life? Seriously, these stories are not even slightly grounded in reality. Here's why:

1. It is literally impossible to keep your pregnancy a secret. I have lived through high school and college, which means I've seen my share of accidental pregnancies. It takes about two weeks for even your vaguest of acquaintances to learn whats up with you. Your only hope would be to quit your job and move a couple of states away, and even then people's first thought will be "Gee, I wonder if she got knocked up?" And some nosy bitch is probably going to call that guy you were banging, ask him if he knows where you are, and he'll put two and two together, and there you go.
2. No sane person wants to support their baby solo. At the very least, your going to ask for child support. Yet I can't tell you how many category romance heroines I've seen run away from that really rich and handsome guy who fathered her baby. Yeah. Sure. Okay.
3. In the real world, where children are not plot contrivances, there are serious concerns that make keeping your baby a can I put this? Freaking stupid. First, there are the medical concerns dealing with what your baby might be inheriting from Clueless Dad. Second, when Secret Baby grows into Secret Teen, they are going to start asking questions, and demanding answers. You better have a damn good cover story planned.

Personally I'd go with something like this: "A long time ago Mommy was a vampire hunting werewolf/fairy, on patrol in Madeup City, New York. In a quest to achieve a greater end, I formed an alliance with the most notorious antihero werehamster in the city. A torrid love affair ensued. I fell in love with him unintentionally, and wanted to stay with him forever, but was uncertain of his feelings. Then I learned that I was pregnant, and since hamsters are notoriously cannibalistic toward their young, I knew that I had to leave. I didn't tell him because I didn't want him to eat you, honey. It was for you!"
 ...sorry kid, that was my best attempt at making this cliche make sense. This is why I can't be a category author.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (4)

 Stacking the Shelves is a meme brought to us by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews!

Wrecked by Anna Davies (Library)
The Selection (Selection - Trilogy) by Kiera Cass (Library)
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (Library)

And for ebooks, (all given to me to review) we have:

I'd also like to introduce you to my new buddy, Castiel. Cas is a parrotlet that my mom rescued today. He is a bit shy, and was already rejected by one owner after only a day. I'm going to be helping to socialize and hand tame him.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Reading Penguin Goes to the Movies: Men In Black 3

The following is an approximation of an actual conversation that took place between the Reading Penguin and her fiance, after seeing the Men In Black 3 Trailer:

Josh: We have to see that.

Penguin: But it's going to be freaking stupid! It has TIME TRAVEL. Remember how you bitched about the time travel in Harry Potter 3? This will be like that, but with aliens! Which is so much worse!

Josh: We're going to see that.

Penguin: *Loud sigh* Fine. Okay. Whatever.

Josh: We have to watch the first two before we go.

Penguin: WHAT? Bull shit. No. I'm not doing it. I won't. Too much stupid. I can't-

Josh: We are watching them. I'm buying them, and we're watching them.

*Penguin looks for a weapon, finds only popcorn, and must therefor surrender. Reluctantly.*

And that is how I wound up going to see Men In Black 3 in theaters opening weekend. After watching the first two. Which means now my head is all full of aliens and secret government agencies that police aliens and freaking Will Smith, who is sort of sexy, and Tommy Lee Jones, who is so old it's kind of scary.

To clarify, as a kid, I really enjoyed the first Men In Black movie. I'm a geek. I like science fiction. What else can I say? The second one, however, was pretty bad, and I must have realized that even back then, because it left so little impression on me that watching it again was like watching it for the first time, and not in a good way. This reinforced forever the idea that sequels are usually BAD. But I digress....

Men In Black 3 was not a great movie, but it wasn't necessarily as awful as I expected. The basic plot, as shown in the trailer, is that a bad guy somehow goes back in time and kills Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) before he was ever Agent J's partner. Agent J (Will Smith) inexplicably remembers Agent K and their entire partnership, but everyone around him does not. Still with me? Okay. So Agent J has to go back in time, to 1969, to keep Agent K from getting killed and to make sure the world is saved and has this special world protecting shield...thingy.

Here are some things that worked about it:
  • Younger Agent K is played by a guy who does a remarkably good Tommy Lee Jones impression. There's a great dynamic between the characters of Agent J and Agent K that is maintained well in this movie--with fun, snappy dialogue and lots of humor.
  • There's an alien named Griffin, who can predict an infinite number of possible futures. I really enjoyed that concept and the breadth that it added to the story. 
And here are the Bullshit Moments:
  • Time travel is not easy to write, Slick. You pretty much need a brain that works in perfect flowchart fashion and keeps track of an infinite number of small details in order to not create inexplicable plot holes. AND you have to add limits and rules to the time travel so your characters won't be able to use it for every stupid problem, which will ruin the tension of your book/movie. AND you open up a can of worms in terms of philosophical questions. This movie? Yep, there's plot holes. There was a time when there should have been two Will Smiths but there was only one Will Smith, which by their own world building was WRONG. There are huge, unexplained questions about who remembers what and why they remember it and how that effects the time stream. It's just not good.
  • A character warns Agent J that 1969 is not going to be a friendly place for a black man. Predictably, it isn't, and he has some run ins with a few cops early on. Later in the movie, we see another black character in a position of great power, on the launch site of the rocket bound for the moon, telling a bunch of people what to do. No explanation as to how he got into that seat of power. No comment on whether it's unusual. Nothing. It's just there. If the movie had not played up the racism angle earlier, I wouldn't have noticed it--but because they did, it becomes one more unexplained detail that bothers me. 
  • This movie made the 1960s look about as stereotypically 1960s as it possibly could. Everyone had Jackie O hair and go-go boots. Josh commented later that it would be like showing the 1990s with every single person wearing wind pants and bowl cuts. It looks like a costume party, not the real deal.
And that, in a nut shell, is my impression of Men in Black 3. While I can easily see this being my least favorite summer movie, it wasn't necessarily painful to watch. If you do happen to be a huge fan of the Men in Black franchise, knock yourself out. Otherwise...go see Avengers. Seriously. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Follow Friday 5/24/12

Q: Activity! Dream cast your current read.

Oh boy, I am BAD at theoretical casting...

I'm going to go with  Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas, only because I've actually thought about actors that would work in those roles:

For the hero, Leo, I would cast Joe Anderson:



...because I saw him in Becoming Jane and realized that he looks great in period costume. And he could pull of Leo's personality quite well.

And for Cat, I'd go with Kate Winslet:








...because she fits the part looks wise and because I just like her.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Review of On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniel's series is perhaps my favorite ongoing series right now--it's at least in the top five. That sort of standard was a lot for this book to live up to and...well...

On the Edge is set in a very different universe. In this world, there is a dimension known as "The Broken", which is essentially our world--no magic, just ordinary people. Then there's "The Weird", where everything runs on magic. Between the two, there's the Edge, land of outcast who don't quite fit anywhere. Here, we meet Rose, an Edger with unusually strong magic. She's been pursued all of her adult life, by men who would sell her or use her to breed magic babies. Rose has two younger brothers to protect, in addition to keeping herself safe. So when Declan shows up on her doorstep, claiming he wants to protect her, Rose is naturally suspicious and hostile...despite her attraction to him.

Positive Comments:

I wasn't that engaged by the large, overarching plot of this novel. Instead, I became fascinated with the minutia of the story. I was interested in the magic Rose possesses and how it works. I wanted to visit more of the Edge and the Weird. I was engaged with what was going on with the kids. Jack and Georgie, Rose's brothers, are a far cry from the useless plot moppets I expected. I was especially impressed with the subplot involving Georgie's ability to bring things back to life, at the expense of his own health.

Declan and Rose...Rose and Declan....They had their moments. The dialogue was great. These two had enough chemistry to justify calling this book a novel with strong romantic elements--though not necessarily a romance novel.

Critical Comment:

So here's the thing...remember that overarching plot I mentioned? My attempt to explain to you, and to myself, why I didn't like it are probably going to be laughable, but here goes:

--Declan shows up on Rose's doorstep and seems to want to marry her or make her his mistress for a thousand wrong reasons. At this point, I'm mad at the book and worried that the two might form a marriage of convenience or some ridiculous thing.
--Rose agrees to  give Declan three challenges, and if he succeeds at them, she'll cooperate with him. At this point, I'm intrigued. I figure, okay, he can do these challenges, they can fall in love for real over the course of them, and I'll be happy.
--But guess what? There's a much bigger problem going on, and that problem is monster dogs eating people, and that kind of takes over the book.

I don't think the big monster plot was necessary. I just...I didn't care. I wanted more relationship building, and more character development, and more of the boys and their antics, and more of just about everything else. Especially relationship development. I wanted to see more of Rose and Declan together, working out their differences, figuring out where they fit in each others' lives.


If you like urban fantasy, especially if you enjoy a good monster hunt, you'll enjoy this book. I would recommend it, to a lesser extent, to casual fans of paranormal romance. This book was good, but it didn't have the magic of the Kate Daniels books. 3.5 stars.
Buy from Amazon: On the Edge

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Nott: A Review of Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep

I received an ARC of Dark Frost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third book in the Mythos Academy series, featuring a gypsy named Gwen. Gwen is a champion of the goddess Nike, and she's charged with finding and hiding a special dagger. This dagger has the ability to free the evil god, Loki, who would unleash chaos on the world.

Positive Comments:

I find Gwen extremely charming. I like that she's a comic book geek. She's blossomed a great deal since book one, going from loner to a confident young woman who supports her friends and flirts with Logan.

Logan is sexy as hell. He's a tormented bad boy, which is an extremely popular archetype, and I can't get enough of him. I'm anxious to see Logan and Gwen finally start to connect on a deeper level.

The secondary characters are fantastic. In this on, I give special mention to Grandma Frost, who kicks ass and bakes cookies. I love that. I also loved Nott, Gwen's mythical wolf companion.

This story was action packed from start to finish. It opens with a battle, has a mystery in the middle and finishes off with some big, game changing events.

Critical Comments:

Some of Gwen's actions--or lack of action--maddened me. She makes questionable (arguably stupid) decisions, and then when things go bad as a result, she survives only by luck and because her friends rescue her. I want to believe that she will improve in this--that soon Gwen will be standing on her own feet. But three books in, I expected more.


I'm very fond of this series. I'd recommend it to fantasy fans, young adults, and those who love mythology. 4 stars.

Buy from Amazon: Dark Frost: A Mythos Academy Novel

Monday, May 21, 2012

Misc. Monday: TV Finales

Today, I thought I'd return to my Misc. Mondays roots a bit and share my final thoughts on my favorite TV shows for the season.

Supernatural: This is still probably my favorite show on television. I think it's past it's true golden era (seasons 4 &5), but I still enjoy the hell out of it.

Things I Loved In Season 7:
  • The dynamic between the boys remains strong. Even when Sam was off his rocker, dealing with Satan induced insanity, there was still a lot of great dialogue to be had.
  • A few really great individual episodes. My favorite of the season was Death's Door, when Bobby wonders around in his own head after being shot, trying to climb back to consciousness long enough to deliver a message to the boys. Seriously, Bobby, I love you. You're like the alcoholic uncle I never had. And you will be missed.
  • Castiel. Simply love his character in general. I loved his appearances in the final two episodes, in which he became a peace loving tree-huger. Cas, if you're out there and you're reading this: I will help you save the monkeys. 
Bullshit Moments:
  •  As an overarching villain, the Leviathans just didn't interest me. There was just so much heavy handed "Americans are fat, and it's killing them!" subtext in this story. Instead of dying from heart disease, we're all going to be eaten. Fine. Whatever.
  • They freaking perma-killed one of my favorite characters! Sad panda!
  • After seven seasons, I think they're starting to severely stretch their limits when it comes to dramatic season end cliffhangers. I could almost hear the writers' thoughts: "Well, we've already sent them both to hell, put them in comas, stolen their souls, unleashed Satan and other untold evils...but we haven't sent either of them to purgatory yet! Score!" I should probably withhold judgement on this until I've seen what they do with it next season, but all I can say is--really guys? 
Once Upon a Time: This is the finale that surprised me the most, and I'm wondering if it won't spell creative death for the show. I hope not, because I really enjoyed this first season.

Things I Loved:
  • Emma is a kick-ass heroine. She's likable, but not perfect. You can sympathize with her, although she's led an unusual life. Her growing relationship with Henry was the most engaging aspect of the non-fairytale half of the show.
  •  The fairytale portions of the story were pretty much always entertaining. I enjoyed seeing familiar stories with unfamiliar twists. 
  • So many individually wonderful episodes. It's honestly difficult to pick a favorite. I'd have to say Skin Deep is the one that pops to mind first. In this episode, we learn some of Rumpelstiltskin's backstory, including an occasion when he fell in love. Beauty and the beast, and a sympathetic villain? Yes, please!
  • Engaging characters. I loved Red Riding Hood, I loved August, I loved the nun/fairies, all of it. I love that even the freaking mirror is a character.
Bullshit Moments:
  • I don't think I'm ever going to think of Regina as sympathetic. Giving her a cheesie and predictable young adult love story didn't help. Sorry.
  • Mary Margaret and David. Interesting how I enjoyed, even adored, the Snow white/Prince Charming part of the story, yet heavily despised them in their real world versions. I especially disliked the soap opera-esc cheating/revenge/miss person plot. Ugh...really?
  • Didn't really care for the ending. If this had been the series finale, and it was all over, sure. But I feel like they've written themselves into a place were the story is going to have to increase in ridiculousness or be retconned in order to stay interesting. I hope I'm wrong.
Grimm: The show I care the lease about while still caring. I think it's because I love fantasy but don't really love cop shows, so I don't know how to feel about something that merges the two. 

Things I Loved:
  • I find Nick to be at least marginally likeable. He's kind of an average Joe, other than the fact that he's a Grimm, so it's hard to get really attached. But it's hard to hate him, too.
  • Loved Monroe and everything about him. Such a quirky, fun character.
  • Favorite episode was Last Grimm Standing, because it involved cage fighting among supernaturals. Don't ask me why I find that exciting. 
 Bullshit Moments:
  • Hello, overarching plot? Remember me, the viewer? You want to explain what you're doing? Seriously, they've been working so hard to make the mythology dense and interesting--good for them. But sometimes, you are going to need to stop and explain what the pieces are, if not how they fit together. Plus, sometimes, less is more
  • Dear Nick: Keeping supernatural secrets from your loved ones never works out well in the end. Call Mary Winchester from Supernatural, ask her about it...oh wait, you can't. BECAUSE SHE DIED. I was continuously baffled as to why Nick would stay with Juliette, let shit happen to and around her, and not tell her anything until the last possible second. Bad boyfriend. Bad!
 Honorable Mentions: I tried to watch The Secret Circle, but gave up maybe five episodes in. I'm a little surprised that they cancelled it, but not sad. Terra Nova train wrecked, which I thought was a little disappointing. There aren't enough good science fiction shows for me. I also briefly watched Awake, which was a show that wanted to be so much more than a show ever can be. I felt that story would have been better as a movie, and wasn't surprised that it got cancelled.

So that's that, folks. What about you? Did you watch any of these shows, and if so, did you like them? Agree with me? Disagree with me? Through carrots at me? Share your comments. Happy Monday!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stacking The Shelves (3)

Welcome again to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews!

Bayou Moon (The Edge, Book 2)(Bought New)

And for Zippy the Kindle, I got:

Stravaganza - City of Masks

 Still trying to moderate my book acquisitions while I work on this monstrous TBR pile!

What did you add to your stacks this week? 

Friday, May 18, 2012

On Gifts: A Review of a Job From Hell by Jayde Scott

A Job From Hell is probably about as stereotypical of a vampire book as you can get. I can't really say why I decided to read it, but I can tell you that it did not knock my socks off.

Despite a distinct lack of domestic skill, Amber accepts a job as Aiden's housekeeper and quickly discovers that there's something odd about him. He sleeps all day and never seems to eat know the drill. Amber is Aiden's fated mate, so she's obviously stuck falling in love with him. Then she ends up unwittingly participating in a paranormal race where the prize is a supernatural power that will make her a walking target.

Positive Comments

The dialogue and character interactions are actually very clever. At times it might be a little forced, but at least it's amusing.  I liked the cast of secondary characters, perhaps more than I liked either main character.

The plot approached interesting, but it did so from a sideways route. I kept thinking that if the author had focused the book on different elements--the prize, the magic book thingy, all of the darker stuff introduced in the world, the book might actually be really good. This actually gave me vague hope that the sequels might be decent, although I have no immediate plans to read them.

Negative Comments

Fated mates. Don't like them. End of story.

To be more specific, I do think that fated mates can be a good trope, but you cannot use it in place of relationship development. You still need to have your characters go from meet cute to happy ending via a well paced, logical route. This book doesn't do that. A lot of the emotions, especially on Aiden's end, are "I must be with her because she is my mate." There's nothing specific that makes them work as a couple.

It's just terribly cliched. Aiden is a rich vampire. Amber is a financially struggling human. Come on now, can't we rise above this old gambit? And then there's the "will he or won't he turn her" plot. Boring. Boring. Boring. Nothing new to add, the plot goes exactly where you'd expect it to, and you'll feel like you've wasted hours of your life.

Amber is a flaccid, dull heroine. She surprised me a bit near the end, when she actually became somewhat useful. Otherwise she's incredibly boring. She's an ordinary girl with ordinary goals. She takes a job she's not qualified for. Finds herself in a fish-out-of-water situation when surrounded by rich supernaturals. Reacts to it exactly as you would expect her to. Even her flaws are boring--she's clumsy and she can't cook.


There's nothing wrong with the writing style, and the book wasn't a total disaster. For me, it was mostly just dull. So I'm going to warn you off of it, but gently. If you're a huge vampire fan, for example, this might be a satisfactory book for you. It just wasn't for me. 2 stars.

Buy From Amazon: A Job From Hell (Ancient Legends #1)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Follow Friday 5/18/2012

 FF 2012 Feature & Follow #97

Q: Summer Break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?

I'd like a nice cozy cottage, somewhere where the air is clean an there aren't too many people. Let's say Alaska. All I need in coffee, books, and internet access.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Thor: A Review of Hammered by Kevin Hearne

This poor book fell victim to my crazy life. I started it while still finishing school, literally in between finals and packing. It got carried home an lost in a box, found again when I needed something to read on the way to my wedding dress fitting. Got shoved aside again because one of my my best friends was in town for the first time in ages, and I wanted to spend every waking moment with her. And finally, I finished it while dining on hastily ordered Chinese takeout behind a pile of boxes that I will have to sort through at some point. Later. I always reason that the mark of a good story is the ability to survive a reader's reality, to still make an impact no matter what might be going on. Hammered survived my reality in as much as I was never tempted to give up on it, even after the third time I had to reread the middle because I'd forgotten what was going on. 
The book opens with Atticus climbing Yggdrasil, the world tree of Norse legend, signaling that this is going to be a Norse mythology themed book. In fact, the book focuses on Atticus's quest to fulfill his promises, first to steal an apple or immortality and later to help his friends kill Thor. This book is a bit weightier than it's two predecessors in that it asks questions about fate and morality and decision making.

Positive Comments:

Again, I was invested despite an awful lot of distraction. Atticus is a likeable character, and I wanted to see him succeed. I was invested in Hearne's version of the mythology, and how all of the gods of this world fit together. It borrows much from American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and I mean that as the highest compliment.

It has a questing, adventure seeking tone to it, and I love that in a fantasy novel. I deeply respect a quest. By far my favorite part of the book was when the group of men who want Thor dead sit around a fire and tell stories about why they want Thor dead. Is this a cheap, quick way to deliver character motivation? You bet. Did I lap it up like chocolate syrup? Oh yeah. By the time they got done, I wanted Thor dead too. And even though I was tired of this book, and wanted desperately to move on to other things, I had to finish at all costs.

Critical Comments:

I'm not a big fan of fate/destiny plots. The introduction of gods who warn Atticus that they've seen his future if he helps to kill Thor, and it's a grim future, frustrated me on a couple of levels. First, because it isn't necessary. He should be able to figure out for himself that this course of action is likely to screw him over. Do we really need harbingers of doom to tell us that? Second, because the prophecies are so vague and so heavy-handedly foreshadowing. Perhaps something slightly more or slightly less subtle would have suited the story better.

I felt that there were far more characters than necessary. It was a crowded story. I can sympathize with the author's desire to display so many awesome characters, but I can't help but feel that the overall story suffered for it.


I'm continuing to recommend this series whenever possible. I love the mythology, the ideas, and the writing style. I love Atticus. This wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't bad either. 3 stars.

Click here to buy: Hammered: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Three

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Brats: A Review of Symphony of Blood by Adam Pepper

When I started this book, I knew two things: It was supposed to be horror/urban fantasy, and the main character was a PI. The first made me optimistic, because I love urban fantasy and I love a little blood and gore. The second made me weary because I am not by any means a mystery fan, and I tend to grade mysteries very harshly.

Hank Mondale is a private investigator in dire straights. His gambling addiction and poor management skills have put him in the kind of debt that could threaten his life. So, when a rich man hires him to investigate a case in which his daughter is being harassed by some unknown "creature", he takes the job. Hank assumes that the daughter is truly insane and/or on drugs (she is), and that the creature cannot possibly be real (it is).

Positive Comments:

The book had great set up. We learn that Hank is something of a screw-up, which is perfectly fine by me. I live to sympathize with screw-ups, provided they have other likeable qualities or get on the road to redemption at some point. The investigation surrounding the creature was interesting, because even though I'm not a mystery fan, I like to see fictional characters murdered in interesting ways. I'm messed up like that.

The monster was oddly appealing. I enjoyed learning about it's nature and it's dark, messed up thoughts.

Critical Comments:

The story started to break down for me as soon as we were introduced to Mackenzie, the rich guy's daughter. She's a brat of colossal proportions. She's an idiot. She is selfish. She has no morals. She clearly, clearly deserves to die horribly. If her life being on the line was supposed to alarm me, it didn't. I wanted her dead.

Furthermore, I never felt like I did find or connect with Hank's sympathetic side. There's no meaningful character development. There's no meaningful anything with this character. He exists, he does things, he survives. Good for him, but I need more than that to get me through a story.


You have to like horror, and you can't expect much in the way of depth. It's a semi-interesting, shallow horror story. I can't say I'd strongly recommend it, but I don't warn against it either. 2.5 stars.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Misc. Monday: Captain Crushes

Most of us have, at one time or another, experienced a crush on a fictional character. But can you remember who your first fictional crush was? I think my own childhood crushes shaped my taste in men forever after. So, today, I'd like to share my top 5 early character crushes (in no particular order).

--Captain Benjamin Franklin Hawkeye Pierce, of MASH. That show was on a lot when I was a kid, and so it had an impact if for no other reason than repetition. Even as a kid, I tended to latch onto characters based on personality more than anything, and boy does Hawkeye have personality. He's a womanizer and is generally disrespectful of all things, but he still has a lot of heart. I think the trait that had the most lasting impression for me was his humor. I love a funny guy.

--Han Solo, of Star Wars. I'm not even a little ashamed of this one, although I probably should be. Han Solo was the one who started my hopelessly unhealthy love of bad boys. He was smart mouthed, he was sexy, and he had his own freaking space ship. What more could the young heart wish for? My very best friend as a child used to play Star Wars with me--he was Han, I was Leia. So it's no wonder that he was the first boy I ever kissed.

--Jafar, of Aladdin. This one I am vaguely ashamed of. Look, I know he's evil. I knew it even then. But...damn, I've always sort of liked villains. And there's something about him. He's dark, he's twisted, he's powerful. He turns into a snake, he locks people in dungeons, he hypnotizes sultans to make a grab for the thrown. I don't know. All I can say is that Aladdin never did it for me. He's a nice guy, but if I were Jasmine I'd have probably married the inappropriately older, evil, psychotic royal vizier. Which is yet more proof that I'd make a crappy princess.

--Angel, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And yet again, we come back to my attachment to unhealthy and impossible relationships. I always wanted to rewrite Angel's story to make it happy, and I always wanted to make me the star of that happiness. But I'm too lazy for fan fiction, and Angel is probably only good because it's tragic anyway. Angel made me latch on to the idea of redeeming a bad guy. Like, maybe Jafar and Captain Hook and Voldemort and Satan could all have happy endings if someone would just fix them. Or maybe they'd just end up more miserable. Seriously, screw you Joss Whedon.

--Sirius Black, of Harry Potter. In my defense, this was when there were only three or four books out and no movies. No Gary Oldman cast in the part, and not horribly abrupt death. He was a really minor character, but that was all the more reason for him to hold my curiosity. I think it was the wrongful conviction, escape from prison thing that did it for me. Plus the shape shifting. And he's loyal, he's courageous, and he's terribly reckless. Again, I wanted a happy ending for him. When he died, I got so mad that I actually put the book away and did not finish it for a good three months. It still hurts me.

So those were my early crushes, and I think it's easy to see why I love the characters I do today. Now it's your turn to share with the class: Who were your childhood crushes, and what made you love them?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (2)

Last week, I miraculously restrained myself from getting any new books. This week, however, I broke down and picked up a few.

Firelight (Darkest London) by Kristen Callihan (Bought Used)
City of Bones (Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare (Bought Used)

Both of these are books that were highly recommended to me.

And for my Kindle, I received:

Knee Deep by Jolene Perry (Given to me for review)

How about you guys? What exciting things got added to your TBR this week?
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