**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [161]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


It was BEA this week, I bet you all got tons of pretties to show everyone! Unfortunately, I'm not part of those lucky person who can attend, so my haul is much much smaller and swoon worthy LOL None the less, I am extremely happy with my lot :)

2015-05-28 12-06-37.240

First is my typical books and both were for review:

The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy (which I loved)
Pirate's Alley by Suzanne Johnson

Now, I am taking photography classes and I am hoping to make a small carrier in the domain. It has become a really passion for me so I bought some books on the Mother's sale of Bookoutlts!

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Bellies & Babies
Focus on Photography

2015-05-28 12-07-22.621Baby Photography Now!
Creative Lightning

And in case you are wondering about my skills, here's my latest impromptu shot with my daughters


And some shot I took in Montreal's old port:


(click for full view)IMG_9128-p

I hope you guys had a great week and I can't when to see the pretties you added to your shelves!

 tynsignew[inlinkz_linkup id=530100]

Friday, May 29, 2015

Giveaway: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

To celebrate the release of Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones, St-Martins are providing a price pack for one lucky winner!

Here's more about the series and the latest installment:

First Grave on the Right is the smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper..

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light." But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.
EightGraveAfterDarkCharley Davidson has enough going on without having to worry about twelve hellhounds hot on her trail. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape onto our plane, and they've made Charley their target. And so she takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can't get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Of course, if hellhounds aren't enough, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.

Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley's tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full…but also tied. While the angry hellhounds can't traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders like evil sentries, so Charley has been forbidden from leaving the sacred grounds. Luckily, she has her loyal team with her, and they're a scrappy bunch who won't let a few thirsty hellhounds deter them.
While the team scours the prophesies, searching for clues on the Twelve, for a way to kill them or at least send them back to hell, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they've accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. Their presence is comforting. But the good feelings don't last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….

Read an excerpt

visit http://www.daryndajones.com/ for more info!



One (1) winner receives:

  • a branded coffee mug,

  • plus the complete Charley Davidson series!


Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by St. Martin’s Press.

Giveaway ends June 10th, 2015.

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About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author DARYNDA JONES won a RITA Award for best first novel for First Grave On The Right. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Jones lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pure by Julianna Baggott

This book came across my radar when it won a youth media award: the Alex Award.  This award is given annually to ten novels written for an adult audience that have teen appeal.  And wowsa- I can totally tell that this book is chock full of teen (and adult) appeal!

The main character, Pressia, is herself teenaged.  She lives with her grandfather outside the Dome, and is physically disfigured.  Years before, the worst possible scenario happened, and nuclear bombs went off across the globe.  Thousands of "chosen ones" were selected by the government to enter the Dome, an airtight structure over a city-sized complex.  Everyone is the Dome is "Pure," having escaped the blasts.  Everyone outside the Dome is now Fused.  Any item near the person at the time of the blast became fused to them; part of them.  So our main character Pressia has a plastic doll head fused over the place of her left fist.  Creeped out yet?  It gets better:  the doll's eyes blink open and shut every time she raises and lowers her fist.  Some have it worse:  another character, Bradwell, has live birds fused into his back.  And just to round out the rotten life, Pressia and Bradwell have just reached an age where the government, from safe inside their Dome, decides if they're strong enough to be trained for the military or so weak as to be used as live targets for aforementioned military training.

Pure may not be for the faint of heart, but it is so very worth sticking with.  The writing is superb.  I love love love my precious books, and this book tempted me to highlight!  The language is just so rich and dense.  There isn't a single word wasted, and you'll find yourself relishing every quote.  Baggott does a fantastic job really making the reader feel the grit and grime and dirtiness of the setting.

She also does a great job making multiple viewpoints work.  We hear mostly from Pressia, so I consider her the main character, but we also hear from Bradwell, Partridge (a Pure), and a member of the elite military force.  Even Fused, Pressia is living her own "normal."  Because of the additional viewpoints, we also get to see how she and other Fuseds are viewed by healthy, whole Pures.  The multiple viewpoints also lead to a lot more "gray area" thinking than you would otherwise assume.  Like, from earlier in my review you'd assume that all the Dome people are bad and all the Fused are good, right?  Wrong.  Turns out there's a lot of ambiguity.   Each character makes their own decisions for their own reasons.

The author doesn't shy away from some pretty graphic descriptions, so even though many central characters are teens, I would not recommend this for younger teens.  Maybe 16 or 17+.  It's length may also intimidate some.  Think more Stephen King-length than airport chapbook-length.

This is the only adult dystopian I've read, but I'd definitely pick up another.  I was hooked from the first chapter!



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Awoken by Sarah Noffke

What if lucid dreams were more than just dreams?  What if some part of ourselves actually went out into the world and experienced our dreams not as if they were reality but, in reality?  That is the world Roya Stark has found herself to be inhabiting.    Not only does Roya have to deal with learning the ins and outs of her abilities and this new subculture they bring with them, but, she also has the  hardship of feeling out of place in her own family.  As an added bonus, she's navigating the murky waters of the 'teen years', a stage when even the best circumstances can be trying and confusing. We get to see Roya at the genesis of her transformations from misunderstood youth to one who wields remarkable  power. There are many parts that could be a day in the life of any ordinary teenager.   This does a lot to make Roya both believable and relatable.  While a relatable character adds to a story, predictable characters  can dull a well developed  character.  Sarah Noffke gets a bit too close  to the predictable at times.  Roya stays true to her character with her actions enough to make it forgivable.  There are other characters in the book  but, none are as well developed as our main character. With the rare exception, most of the others behave almost like set pieces in that, they don't do much beyond their function in the plot.  I don't want to give too much away but, I will say that some of these functionaries become more like real people.   The timing does get the reader ready for the next book in the series.

Some may see many parallels to other more popular books series.  I admit, I had some concern in the beginning but, Awoken diverges from the more commonly used story lines.  The pacing of the story itself is not too bad.  There are some areas where it took me a minute to  discern between flashback and the present.  Much of the back story is handled either through flash back or description.   I really like the way the author does tend to show more than tell so, journeys into the past don't bog down the story.  I only wish there was a bit more texture to some of the scenes.  If the author can make me feel the scene or situation by describing the scene or actions, it helps me get lost in that world.  I chalk that up to personal preference.

It's all in all an entertaining book with a unique take on a seldom used trope.  I like the way  Sarah Noffke handled the complex interactions among the characters.  Though some of the story may ring familiar, it is a story of its own.  This book is a moderate PG13.  I would not hesitate recommend this to a mature teen.Roberts Signature

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Witch of Painted Sorrows Tour: Giveaway!

MJ Rose

Today's we are hosting a giveaway as part of M. J. Rose's tour for her newest release, THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS. M. J. is an incredibly busy woman whose work has been featured all over the place, in places like the New York TimesNewsweek, and on the Today Show. You may be familiar with her work if you've seen the TV series PAST LIFE, which was based on her Reincarnationist series.


Thanks so much for visiting us, M. J.! For more about M. J. and her books, check out the following links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tour Schedule



The Witch of Painted Sorrows by MJ RosePossession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M. J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery.

 Purchase: Amazon


There's a tour-wide giveaway of 3 $25 Amazon gift certificates. Follow the Rafflecopter instructions to enter!

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Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favourite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit  us? Please email me at jenn (at) tyngasreviews (dot) com and we’ll set it up!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Giveaway: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness + Swag

PB boxed set image

To celebrate the trade paperback release of The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, the final book of the All Souls Trilogy, Penguin is offering one lucky winner a copy of the book and some wonderful swag! Tomorrow, May 26th, 2015 is the release of the trade paperback. It's also the release date of the paperback box set. If you haven't had the chance to check out The Book of Life or the trilogy, tomorrow is your chance!

More about The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
the book of life

The #1 New York Times bestselling series finale and sequel to A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night

Fans of the All Souls Trilogy sent this highly anticipated finale straight to #1 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Bringing the series’ magic and suspense to a deeply satisfying conclusion, The Book of Life is poised to become an even bigger phenomenon in paperback.

Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

Read Stéphanie's review

Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Selected questions from a conversation with Deborah Harkness

Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to fact important moral issues?

A. Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations—all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires, and witches rather than confronting issues of race or sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about members of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.

Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept-Tours and reinstate themselves back into a sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Did you draw on your own life?

A. Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family: unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents taught me.

Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who weaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?

A. Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could say it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots—unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can be twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus.

Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?

A. I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.


Thanks to Penguin, one (1) lucky winner will win a paperback copy of The Book of Life, a small Book of Life mirror with ouroboros, a signed copy of Diana’s commonplace book, and All Souls alchemical buttons. US only. Giveaway ends June 1, 2015. Enter with rafflecopter.

giveaway book of life_edited-1

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About the author

Deborah Harkness is the number one New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night,and The Book of Life. A history professor at the University of Southern California, Harkness has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Her publications include works on the history of science, magic, and alchemy.  Her most recent scholarly book is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution.  She lives in Los Angeles.stephsig moon


The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life is the explosive finale of the All Souls Trilogy. In a way, I'm sad to see this trilogy come to end because I fell in love with Deborah Harkness's writing and her characters. This trilogy remains one of my favorites, not only because of the amazing story but because of the attention to detail, the countless, beautiful settings and the imaginative paranormal world.

After venturing in Elizabethan London and sixteenth century Europe, Matthew and Diana are back in modern day world. Still looking for Ashmole 782, the legendary manuscript that is supposed to hold the answers to life (or so they say), they have new and old enemies to face in order to stay together as a couple. Not only are their marriage and lives at risk, but the twins Diana carries are so improbable, other paranormal creatures are bound to be apprehensive and mistrustful of children conceived between a witch and a vampire. That's one of the wonderful things about Deborah Harnkness's writing. Witches and vampires are nothing new in fiction, yet the way she pushes the boundaries of the paranormal society she created resonates with our own modern day problems. People are so afraid of change and what they don't understand, that their first responses are to reject and dismantle. Diana and Matthew are one of my favorite fictional couples. As a witch and a vampire they've had to endure a lot of apprehension and negativity. Despite being fictitious, they feel real and their story is easy to believe.

As Diana continues to explore her magic and her spell weaving abilities, the paranormal world continues to expand. The author's attention to detail is amazing. Simple things like going into the details about the weaving of a spell and the magical tree that bears odd fruits like keys, not only enthralls me as a reader but makes this world that much more believable, despite its improbability.


Family is an important theme throughout the series but even more so in this last book. Harkness didn't reinvent the wheel when is comes to the "modern" family. She shows us that family doesn't need to be simply biological. A family is something that is in perpetual growth, that knows no limits and despite judgement, it's something that should always be what you need it to be. Family is also community, something that you depend on when things get difficult. Above everything else, the author makes us wish for the de Clermont and Bishop family love.

While book two had us travel through history, The Book of Life has us traveling throughout the world. The multiple settings adds depth and wonder to the story. Despite the new settings like New Orleans and New Haven, I'm glad we still got to visit Sept-Tour, Oxford and Madison. Throughout this series, we are also given a taste of magic and supernatural elements, which are definitely dominant in this book, but the science geek in me is thrilled that science was also a major aspect to the story. History and science blends so well together in this trilogy that it should please any academic and educate anyone who is willing to learn.

In my opinion, this trilogy shouldn't be seen as three separate books. It's one big story that should be enjoyed as a whole. There's definitely still lots to tell and I hope that one day the author will elaborate and continue the untold and unfinished stories of these characters. Deborah Harkness's imagination is a rare gift to readers and I'm sure I'll treasure Diana and Matthew's story for a long time.

Read an excerpt and browse extras

stephsig moon

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Shattered Court by M. J. Scott

I'm not a big fan of M. J. Scott's Half Light City series but she's completely won me over with THE SHATTERED COURT.  It's a compelling story and the start of what looks to be a truly engaging series. It's been a while since I've read a book that captured my attention as thoroughly as THE SHATTERED COURT has. The characters and mythology are so very interesting and Scott's done a marvellous job with them!

As always, mythology is a big thing for me and Scott has created a very strong setting for this series. Witches are an accepted part of the world, but their magic is highly constrained, at least in Anglion. It's a societal decision, though, restricting royal witches to "safe" magic, under strict oversight and magical bonds. And marriage, since the Crown marries royal witches off to nobles, depending on how strong their magic is. Outside of Anglion, witches are allowed to practice more than just earth magic, but these kingdoms are regarded as dangerous by Anglion leaders and citizenry. I love the subtext you can read into the story if you choose, much like the Hunger Games trilogy; you can, however, thoroughly enjoy the story without thinking about the real-word parallels. :)

The protagonist of THE SHATTERED COURT is Lady Sophia Kendall, thirty-second in line to the throne and handmaiden to the princess. She is a rather unassuming young woman in many ways - anxious about whether or not she'll come into her magic, and who'll she marry as a result. She's only a few days away from her birthday, the day when she'll discover if she has magic, but the usual ceremony gets cast aside when Anglion comes under attack. She is forced on the run, her only protection a member of the royal guard named Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie. Sophia comes into her magic when she's on the run, which means she doesn't participate in the usual rites, and this is where it gets interesting. Sophia is outside of society's rules and has magic unlike other women in the kingdom. It doesn't make anyone happy, not even Sophia, who finds herself with questions and suspicions plaguing her. Religious and political leaders view her as a threat but she also finds herself with abilities denied other witches by the rituals they usually participate in. Sophia is forced to grow into her new role and her journey through this discovery, and through her new relationships with members of court, is what propels THE SHATTERED COURT forward. Her relationship with Cameron is particularly interesting because it's instantly intimate but also incredibly distant, but there are other relationships that need to be renegotiated after Sophia comes into her power that are just as compelling.

The book ends a bit abruptly to my mind, but it's not a cliffhanger. There is resolution for Sophia's journey but also set up for the next book in the series, leaving me with a mixture of satisfaction and anticipation.  Scott's writing makes reading THE SHATTERED COURT a dream and I think this is definitely the beginning of a wonderful new series. I'm already looking forward to the next phase of Sophia's journey.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [160]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


Life has been so busy lately that I haven't had much time for books. However, I did add a few books to my shelves in the last few days. I'm really looking forward to End of Days by Susan Ee because it's the final book of a trilogy that is truly exceptional.

Hopefully things will get back to normal and I'll have more time to read. I also have to shake this reading slump that's been nagging me.

Have a good weekend everyone!

end of days by susan ee  love, lex by avery aster  yours truly, taddy by avery aster


End of Days by Susan Ee

For Review

Love, Lex by Avery Aster*

Yours Truly, Taddy by Avery Aster*


What is stacking your shelves this week?

stephsig moon[inlinkz_linkup id=528556]

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

Everything Andy and Ami went through in the past two novels leads to this Epic conclusion, this time lead by Ursula, the eldest sister. The faith of the Twelves Kingdoms lays on her shoulders as she has to juggle between an erratic King, the disappearance of her youngest sister along with her children, and her desire to honor her mother's memory.  Of course, there also needs to be a man in the picture, and this one is probably my favorite of the series!

First let me tell you that Ursula is nothing like I imagined from the first two books. She was pictured as stoic, obedient and heartless, and even though she has to uncontrollable desire to please the King, she is no where near as stuck-up as I thought she would be. Even though I was excited for this book, I was actually scared I wouldn't like her, but I was totally wrong. She has had a very difficult past (one she hid from her sisters to shield them) and has a lot of issues to work through. On one hand she wants to follow her heart, and on the other she is fiercely loyal to her father, and both instincts clash terribly.

At first I thought Harlan would be an enemy, but as the story progressed it was clear I had misjudged him. I really liked how attentive he was, how patient and supporting of Ursula he has been the entire book, even though she really was a bitch about it. The only thing that bothered me a bit was how he fell in love with her the first time he saw her, and pledge his life to protect her a couple of hours later. That kind of devotion should be earned, and I thought he handed it wayyyyy too easily. That element aside, I thought the progression of their intimacy was nicely paced and believable (at least from Ursula's side).

The sisterly bond is also an aspect I really liked from this third novel. We see them interact a lot more than in the previous books.

I thought the plot was very engaging and I really liked how one thing lead to another to really escalate toward the final rescue. BUT things went down hill for me after that. The three sisters launched on a mission and it felt extremely rushed. Personally, I think the third book should've ended after this rescue, and there should have been a fourth book, with the narration shared between all three sisters, to really give the final events/battle the attention to detail and intensity it deserved. I liked the major points and how it unfolded, but it needed so much more meat on the bones! It killed me really :(

I liked this book anyway, mind you, and I really love this trilogy as a whole. Jeffe Kennedy was a new to me author before this series, and I was pleasantly surprised. If you like high fantasy you should definitely give it a try, but make sure you start with book one, The Mark of the Tala.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand is the first book in an older series, the Bartimaeus trilogy.  And I'm so glad that it's an older series!  This first book was so good, I'm already excited to binge the series.  This middle grades book was just as enjoyable for me (supposedly an adult, lol) as it would be for an actual middle schooler.  One of the main characters, Bartimaeus, has a great, snarky sense of humor that had me chuckling out loud.

The other main character, Nathaniel, is super relatable.  Yes, he's an 11-year-old boy, but he's got the same impatience and also desire to do good that we all have.  The entire plot comes about because Nathaniel is insulted by a leading magician in the community, and he seeks a rather petty way to exact revenge.  Then when the consequences start to hit, he quickly tries to backpedal in order to avoid any blame falling on those he cares for.  Are you familiar with the phrase "what a tangled web we weave when we first endeavor to deceive?"  That's Nathaniel's situation in this book.  He's an apprentice magician, young and with just enough knowledge to get himself into trouble and not enough to get him back out of it.  When a local magician bigwig belittle's Nathaniel, and the magician that Nathaniel is apprenticed to doesn't stand up for him, Nathaniel concocts a plan to get revenge on both of them at once.  His plan:  summon a djinni (also referred to in the book as a demon or genie; I imagine the "demon" reference makes a few conservative parents of young readers a little nervous, but I digress) to steal an amulet from the powerful magician and hide it in Nathaniel's magician's study.  Both magicians will be insulted when the cops get involved and find the stolen item!  But of course the plan falls a little short of expectations, and the situation spirals out of control.

Now you'll notice that I've referenced magicians and djinni/genies/demons and magical amulets as though they occur every day.  Well, in Jonathan Stroud's world they do!  This book did a fantastic job of introducing all these fantastic elements and making them seem everyday.  The reader never feels lost in this world.  I listened to this book on CD in my car, so it was a bit disjointed, and I was able to easily follow the story.

And as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the other main character is fantastically snarky, which I love.  The Amulet of Samarkand is told in two viewpoints:  young Nathaniel and the djinni he summons, Bartimaeus.  Bartimaeus is very, very, very old; centuries old.  And he is, of course, a bit put-upon that a mere slip of a boy could summon him and force him into his revenge plot.  I loved hearing his internal monologue as he gripes and whines about his task.  Like it's so hard to travel a short distance and pick up an amulet.

Overall, I'm liking this series.  I love how the characters of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus play off of each other.  Just when Nathaniel's timidness would start to get under my skin, we'd switch to a Bartimaeus chapter.  (By the way, the chapters are all headed with a character's name, so there's no question of POV.)  I wanted to take Nathaniel under my wing and love him, and I wanted to be friends with Bartimaeus.  I listened to this first book on CD, and I would continue to do so.  The narration is great; good, even tone and good pacing.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wild Cards I Edited by George R. R. Martin

I hope that nobody is getting too tired of my love affair with anthologies.  This one, however, is an anthology with a difference.  More than just stories along a common theme, Wild Cards is a single story but, from many mouths.  Martina and Dozois bring together the talents of many authors to tell  us a tale of many tales.  We get to see the genesis of a class of humanity.  We even get to meet the creator of this class and get a peek into it's intent.

Tracking character development is a rather tricky since, while it is a unified story, it's told in a patch work of tales and a variety of characters.  There are a few, such as Dr. Tachyon, who are fixtures throughout, but, some only have the span of a chapter or two.  With all of that, you can get a sense of the characters and their struggles.  Most do what they are meant to do, act as set pieces to chart the societal changes that this new class of people have instigated.

I said before that it is a patchwork of stories and though that is true, there is one central narrative that bonds all the short stories and makes it less obvious that there is more than one story teller.  If you see the subtle differences in the descriptions of scenes and circumstances as a way to highlight the differences in the point of view it's written from rather than differences in the writers, the story becomes even richer.

To me, this book brings to mind a mix of the old style comic books and the old pulp fiction novels.  There is a kind of back to basics 'earthiness' to the writing and stories themselves.  This makes them an easy yet entertaining read.

Whether taken strictly as a well formed story or as allegory for modern treatment of people with the differences, these stories are engaging and thought provoking.  If you enjoy old-style science-fiction with a few modern twists, this book will be a good addition to your collection.  This one is definitely for the more mature of audiences and lands deeply in the PG13 range because of violence and adult content.

Roberts Signature

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [159]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


So, recently I decided to go for a few new things and a little bit of nostalgia:

Roberts Books

 I've already said my impressions of Carniepunk, Dead Until Dark and Night of the Living Deed.  They are all worthy additions to anybody's library

Kitty and the Midnight Hour is an interesting book with a more unique beginning for a character.  I had my concerns at first but, as the story progressed, I warmed up to it.

The Codex Alera Series didn't make the vote but, I'm reading that one strictly for myself.  I look forward to reading something from Jim Butcher that isn't from the Dresden Files, though, another story from that corner would be appreciated.

My bit of nostalgia comes in the form of Jurassic Park.  As I go through this story, I realize just how much the movie changed my memory of the book.  That will make for a great rediscovery of a great book.

And while not a book, I thought I'd share this acquisition...

Writing Great Fiction

The Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques lecture series gives wonderful insight in to the art of writing fiction.  I will definitely be going through this again before I start this years Camp NaNoWriMo in July.

So, what blasts from the past or inspirations for the future have you gotten yourself?

Roberts Signature

[inlinkz_linkup id=525783]

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Something finally happened to Jill! I swear, I almost fell off my chair when I heard the news. This whole endeavor started to protect Jill from ill intentioned Moroi and yet nothing ever threatened her... until now. Sydney and Adrian want more than anything to retrieve the sweet girl, but locked away at court to stay protected from the Alchemists is making it very hard to run an investigation. When an escape opportunity presents itself though, they can't let it pass...

I really enjoyed this last installment in the series. Life as a married couple isn't like exactly like either characters thought, especially with Adrian's mom in the way, but they make the best of what they have. At least they are together now. Both are as determined as ever to retrieve Jill and will work really hard toward that goal and I can only command them for their determination and resourcefulness.

The investigation to locate the moroi princess was full of action and surprises and I truly enjoyed every twist. I never in a thousand years guessed who the villein was until it was revealed, and that's always a thrill when it happens! I think my favorite element was the side plot with the quest to find Olive, the moments at the commune and the tiny (literally) surprise. And who would've thought those two were cousins! WOW!

Something I really like also was that Rose and Dimitri held a more important place this time around. They've made guest appearances in the past, but now they are really part of the support team. I love how Mead wrapped up everything and I really really appreciated the epilogue. It was so nice to see how everything went a bit over a year after the big final smackdown.

Richelle hinted that even though this series was over, there might be more books int his universe in the future. I wonder what she has in mind!



Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick

The Time Fetch follows young teens Edward (Dweebo to some), Danton, Feenix (Edith to her mother), and Brigit as they discover a stone that holds time foragers, fight to restore order to their world as the time foragers rapidly eat away at their town, and struggle to grow into themselves and discover the good in those around them.

I would only give The Time Fetch 2 or 3 stars out of 5, but I want to give a caveat right up front:  I read this book right after a fantastic one, and I read it over a very busy few days in my personal life.  There wasn't any time for me to sit down and really get immersed in the world; I read it in short bites.  I feel like that might have colored my "meh" opinion.

The Time Fetch did have a pretty unique and interesting premise.  Edward, kind of a loner kid who's just coasting through life has to find a rock to bring into science class last-minute, so he looks out in his aunt's backyard and chooses one at random.  Turns out this is a very special rock, one that should never have moved.  Now the forces within, little bee-like creatures who feed on time, have been disturbed and released.  Suddenly time is starting to literally fly by!  The kids are in class only a few minutes before the next bell rings.  They get home from school only to find it's already dinner time.  They grow taller and stronger overnight.  I was definitely intrigued by the concept of fantastical creatures foraging on time, like locusts of the fourth dimension!  Unfortunately, I felt like this could have been explained much more if the book was longer or the start to a series.  (It's a standalone; I checked.)

The plot premise isn't the only thing left unexplained.  There's an entire scene with Feenix that never really ends up going anywhere.  After it was all over, I kept expecting it to pop back up later in the story... but it never did.  So it was really unnecessary in the scheme of things.  And Feenix's name!  Her name is actually Edith.  Maybe I missed something somewhere, but I don't think the author ever explains the nickname.

Two of the secondary characters really saved this book for me and kept me pushing through:  Danton and Brigit.  I absolutely loved Danton's energy and enthusiasm and friendliness!  If I was a kid again, I'd totally want to be friends with Danton.  He also exhibits a thoughtfulness beyond his years that is super sweet.  And Brigit is such a sweet thing.  She cares so much for her family and friends.  Although quiet, she shows a great inner strength.

Another redeeming factor:  the Action!  Adventure!  near the end of the book.  The story culminates in some pretty daring do's, where the characters experience a great deal of danger to save their town from the time foragers.

My library classifies The Time Fetch as "Young Adult," but I'd only hand it to the youngest of young adults.  Like some middle schoolers.  I'd be afraid, though, that even a younger kid would question the plot holes, and wind up slightly dissatisfied.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse Book 1) by Charlaine Harris

As you can see, the winner of my poll was Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.  For all those who participated, thank you very much.  It was close but,  in the end, the numbers were clear on who won.

Ms. Harris does a wonderful job of introducing the reader to the characters of the story through the eyes of Sookie Stackhouse herself.  Being familiar with the TV show, I was familiar with Sookie and her brother Jason even though in the book Jason has a slightly different personality and Sookie's is a bit different.  The description and development of the characters was enough to get over all the differences between the two tellings of the story.

We meet Sookie and learn how she feels the whole town of Bon Tempe thinks her odd and keeps her outside of most social circles.  To be truthful, she knows they thinks that because, Sookie can read minds.  It led her to behaving strangely as a child until she could control it better. This situation is also what fueled her attraction to one Mr. Bill Compton and took her down the path that makes this story interesting.

I believe another key element to this story is the setting.  A story could be set in the creepiest of English castles and it still won't have effect that a small town surrounded by deep dark woods.   Couple that with the fact that the town is in Louisiana, legendary home to many voodoo practitioners, and the scene doesn't just draw you into a paranormal story, it swallows you whole.  At times, the setting is like another character in the story.

I always appreciate when an author can go beyond the surface with folklore and delve deep into the past to create the world of their story.  Charlaine Harris does this well in this story which gives it it's own special flair.  I look forward to the next installment if for no other reason than to see what new creature she can unearth from ancient mythology.

Sookie Stackhouse, like Jane Yellowrock or Harry Dresden, is not high fantasy but, more like blue-collar fantasy.  They are also very entertaining reads.  They can also inspire a person to examine some social issues in a different light without trying to tell people how to think (or shame them into it).  Anybody who has seen the TV shows knows, this one is not for the little ones.  It gets a definite R rating from me (the show gets a soft core X).  Language, adult conversations and a few sex scenes not to mention violence and of course, copious amounts of blood is the reasons why.

Next month will be Living Dead in Dallas Book 2 by Charlaine Harris.  Remember, we can spoil the heck out of this months book then.

Roberts Signature

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Shadows by J.R. Ward

This is a big book. Honestly, it was a little intimidating at first, but like any other Black Dagger Brotherhood book, it's easy to read. In the last few books, this series disappointed me a little bit, but it has redeemed itself in my view with The Shadows. There's a lot of point of views in this book, which makes it a little hard to follow at times, but each point of view is interesting enough. The continuation of many story lines and the introduction of new characters keeps things intriguing and fresh.

I knew this book would be mostly about Trez and Selena but I didn't realize that iAm would also play a major part. Trez has bonded with the Chosen Selena but Trez feels like he's not at all worthy of her. He feels like he has tainted his body by sleeping around with an infinite amount of women. Selena knows she has little time left to spend with Trez. With the deadly disease she has, she might only have days left. Whether those days should include Trez or not, is an easy decision for Selena but convincing Trez might be a little more difficult. However, life isn't that simple for Trez because he has been engaged since birth to the Princess of his Tribe. As a Shadow, a superior race of vampires, everything is predestined by star charts and all sorts of craziness. And his predestined future has always been to mate with the Princess in order to continue the royal bloodline. For such a "superior" race, they're kind of stuck with primitive ideas, if you ask me.

After the failed mutiny that attempted to overthrow Wrath from his royal throne, he now rules his people as the elected leader. He has decided to take on a more active role by meeting with his people and hearing their troubles. Abalone, a respected member of the vampire society is more or less in charge of his political office, organizing meetings and keeping track of everything. Great news for the vampire society is the Brotherhood opening its doors once more to new trainees. However, now they're not only accepting glymera males, but also commoners and females. At least some vampires are willing to move into the 21st century with forward thinking and new ideals. I think it's great that Abablone's daughter, Paradise, is thinking of auditioning to train with the Brotherhood. As one of the last females of good breeding and of mating age, this is obviously taboo, but it's great to see more females willing to kick ass. This is definitely one storyline I want to continue reading!

One point of view I'm not crazy about is Assail's. The drug dealer/drug addict story is getting old. It feels like his story has been dragging on in the last few books and I just want it over with. I like his story when Sola, the human woman he's attracted to, is present, otherwise I don't care for his drug dealing life. And his involvement with the lessers? I hate that even more.

Compared to the last couple of books, it seems like there wasn't as much slang and product placement. I hate when there's too much of it. I'm all for pop culture references but when J.R. Ward trying too hard to makes her characters sound and look cool, it's a complete fail. I'm just glad she didn't try too hard in this book.

Like so many paranormal romance books, many things in this book were predictable but The Shadows also kept me on my toes. So many great things happen in this book, even though others were not so great. I have mixed feeling about the ending but I guess many J.R. Ward books end like this. Ward knows fatalistic romance and brotherly love and it definitely shows in this most recent book. Although not as great as the first books of the series, The Shadows is decent addition to the series.

stephsig moon

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Would-Be Witch by Kimberly Frost

I was very disappointed by WOULD-BE WITCH. Based on the description and the blurbs, I was expecting a Janet Evanovich-style story -- some sexy moments, lots of laughs -- but WOULD-BE WITCH was nothing like that for me. I can see where someone might have gotten that idea and perhaps this book will appeal to other readers who enjoy humorous stories but I was quite let down by this novel. It has pieces of what could be a good book but it largely fails to deliver, at least to my mind. This was quite sad since I thought the book opens with a great scene that really establishes who Tammy Jo is in a fun and memorable way.

My main problem is the stereotyping. WOULD-BE WITCH is rife with stereotypes. I don't mind that in a lot of cases -- after all, it's hard to reinvent the wheel with witches and werewolves as your main supernatural beings -- but that's not where I took issue with this novel. I also didn't mind the fact that we had the stereotypical mean girl, country bumpkin-types, Texan he-men, and all that. Caricature-type characters is something I would expect in an Evanovich-like novel and they fit into the style that Frost is using. But there's a line you have to walk when you have larger than life characters and I don't think that Frost succeeded in this novel. There were moments when I found myself taken aback by the way that the one Asian character was depicted. Johnny Nguyen Ho is Vietnamese, gay, and a theatre director. He's also a non-native speaker of English. None of this would be problematic, except for the way that Frost has written his speech. I hope that she was trying to produce a humorous character but to me, it came off as patronising. It reminded me a lot of the way that non-white characters would be depicted on TV in the 60s, with very broken English, because Johnny never use the verb be in his sentences, saying things like "You gorgeous" and "She not tall enough". (Yes, there are dialects where this happens and yes, non-native speakers of English can struggle with the language but this isn't at all accurate.) Unfortunately, I found myself getting more and more put off every time Johnny came onto the page because of the way he was written.

I also found the narrative and pacing to be inconsistent. There was something about the way things were written that felt very up and down and it was challenging to stay hooked on the narrative. I think this may be due, at least in part, to the fact that I found Frost's writing for Johnny so jarring.

There's a love triangle in this novel, among Tammy Jo (the main character), her ex-husband Zach the Deputy and Bryn the Forbidden Handsome Witch. I liked Tammy Jo's relationship with Zach and enjoyed the push-and-pull. I could have done without the Bryn aspect of it. It felt a bit forced at times, maybe because Bryn wasn't terribly well descriptive. I think he was supposed to be mysterious but he came off as rather two-dimensional.

That being said, there were things I liked about WOULD-BE WITCH. Like I said earlier, the opening scene is great. The plot is generally quite interesting -- I always enjoy stories that have that coming-into-your-own theme and Frost writes Tammy Jo's confusion well. There are some nice twists and turns in the main mystery and also in Tammy Jo's learning witchcraft. She's not at all adept at magic and I was quite curious to see how she would get a handle on things. We don't get answers in WOULD-BE WITCH but we do get to see some progress on that front. I also liked a lot of the characters, particularly Zach and Edie. Zach is a bit of a stereotype but a thoroughly enjoyable one. Edie's a family ghost with a lot of attitude. There are also some great new funny moments, particularly early on in the novel.

Although I didn't love WOULD-BE WITCH, I would suggest that you try it yourself to see if it's more your cup of tea.

Read an excerpt (and review snippets)


Saturday, May 09, 2015

Stacking The Shelves 158

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


I've been away from home on vacay this past week, so my stack is a bit shorter than usual.  As always, lots of great library finds, plus a few purchases.  What did you bring home this week?  Use the link below to share!


Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.  This one was actually a freebie.  I work in a library, and folks will often leave books on a table in the break room for others to read and enjoy.  Like a book exchange.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is one my hubby purchased while we were away.  He was near the end of his current read when we arrived in D.C., and he was afraid he'd finish it without another book ready to go, so we stopped by the local Barnes & Noble.  I will of course read it after him.  :)

Take Note! George Washington the Reader by Amanda C. Isaac.  I purchased this at Mt. Vernon.  It's all about the books that George Washington read and loved.

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs.  This was another last-minute Barnes & Noble buy by the hubby.  We love the show Bones, so we're both looking forward to reading this one.  (We actually stayed so very busy sightseeing on our vacation that the hubby never finished the original book that he packed, let alone either of the two we purchased!)

From the Library:

Where Valor Rests by Rick Atkinson, James Balog, Dave Black, David Burnett, Bruce Dale, David Alan Harvey, Brian Lanker, and Creighton Adams.  I got this one just before we left for D.C.  It's a beautiful and thoughtful book about Arlington National Cemetery.

The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden.

A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes.  Another book requested because we love the TV show!

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  On my personal blog, I'm working through the PopSugar Reading Challenge, and one checklist item is "a book published the year you were born."  This book fit that checklist item, and it's a classic that I've never read.

Donna Bell's Bake Shop by Pauley Perrette, Darren Greenblatt, and Matthew Sandusky.  This is a baked-goods cookbook (YUM) by a star of the TV show NCIS, which we love.  Man, I get a lot of my reading from TV, don't I?

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith.  I got this one on CD, and the narrator has this lovely, melodic accent.  So soothing, even during rush hour madness!

The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens.  Another one on CD.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis.  I've heard nothing but praise about these graphic novels!  As a former Girl Scout camp counselor, I'm looking forward to plenty of laughs with this one.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  My sister-in-law recommended, and she hasn't steered me wrong yet!

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud.  I got this one on CD too.  This is my first Jonathan Stroud novel, and I'm excited.  I hear nothing but praise for his writing.  I'm about halfway through the book as I write this post, and it is definitely going well.

And you?  What books did you bring home this week?  Click the link below to share your stack!


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Friday, May 08, 2015

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

What a difficult situation! Sydney has been kidnapped by the Alchemists and sent to re-education. Can Adrian find her before they completely brainwash her? Or will he fall to despair and get back to his old way to cope?

This Bloodlines series is getting more and more intense! Mead really raised the bar when she split them apart, exposing their weaknesses and strengths in turns. I truly loved and respected Sydney's determination to not bend her will, and even though she had to to survive, she still managed to play the system. She's extremely intelligent and resilient and she more than prove it in this novel. As much as I love Adrian, it wasn't so easy for him to stay on the right path. He struggled a lot with his inner demons with his shield (Sydney) gone and he has to work extra hard to find the strength to be the man she needs him to be. I really felt for him in his dark moment, and I totally would've held his hand.

Nina, a moroi we met in the previous installment disappointed me. She allegedly has a crush on Adrian, yet she can't grow a spine and stop him from destroying himself in despair. I wish she'd have been a better friend to him instead of a weak tag-along. On the other hand, Marcus, Eddy and Neil worked really hard to find a way to get Sydney out and I command their effort. I felt particularly bad for Eddy who thinks he failed to protect her, just like he did Mason, in the original Vampire Academy series.

*very slight spoiler ahead* When Sydney and Adrian finally got back together (I mean they had too, right?) it got really intense in a very different way. I loved seeing them fight to avoid the alchemists and how Adrian managed to turn the tides. It was one hell of a conclusion and I NEVER saw it coming. I mean WOW. If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about!

Normally this is the point where I would tell you how I am dying to read the final novel in the series, The Ruby Circle. But truth is, I already read it before I even wrote my review lol I went from this book right next to the following installment. And I do have a lot to tell about this one too in my next review *winks*

If you haven't read Richelle Mead's books yet, I strongly urge you to. Pick a series, any of hers, and you'll be pleased I am sure!


Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Ohmygoodness how much did I LOVE this book?!  <--See?  I can't even write coherently or maturely about it.  Too excited.  I've been waiting nearly a year since the last book in the series!  That was entirely too long.  And now I'll probably have to wait another year for the next book....  If you haven't yet started this series, I do recommend that you start with the first book, The Name of the Star, followed by The Madness Underneath before reading this review.

This YA series is just jam packed with all the things I love:  it's set in modern-day London, most of the characters attend a boarding school, the main character is from small-town Louisiana, there are ghosts, and one of them is Jack the Ripper.  In The Shadow Cabinet, there even two "bonus" elements:  interdimensional (I think I just made that word up) travel and a cult!

I know that's quite a list of plot elements, but never you fear:  Maureen Johnson weaves it all together so very skillfully, and manages to include a lot of character development and interaction in between all the action.  During the previous book, Rory met the Shades, a kind of ghostbustin' group that are responsible for her still being alive.  In this book, the reader really gets to know the Shades a lot better as she works with them to find Stephen's spirit and bring him back, out of his coma.  One of Rory's tasks is to go through a ton of notes and books from Stephen's apartment to try to determine where his spirit may have settled, and as she goes through the personal items and journals, we learn a lot about him and his interest in the Shadow Cabinet.  This is also where we get a little romantic development in the book:  Rory isn't blind, and knows that Jerome is awesomely sweet and really cute, but he doesn't know about ghosts.  Stephen is also really cute, and Rory can talk to him about ghosts.  You'll just have to read the book to find out how all that goes!

For a medium-length YA book, Maureen Johnson sneaks in plenty of atmosphere.  I so loved reading about Rory's travels around London in pursuit of Stephen!  London is definitely on my travel wish-list, but reading books set there is as close as I can get right now.  There's a fantastic scene in the book in a cemetery.  I won't give away any spoilers, but there is foggy mist.  That feels very "London" to me.

I can't talk about the Shadow Cabinet too much without spoilers, but it turns out that it's something like the Illuminati theories here in America.  Or the Knights Templar.  And Stephen was looking into it, so the rest of the Shades end up looking into it too.  Very realistically, many of the characters are non-believers, but a few are skeptical believers.  I can talk a little more about the cult.  The book opens with a flashback scene to the 1970s, where two young people have recruited ten other young people into their worship of ancient Greek gods.  During a ceremony, they kill all the kids.  Fast forward 40 years, and now the Shades discover a tenuous link between Rory's psychologist, her classmate Charlotte's disappearance, and this cult from way back when.

I read physical copies of the first two books, and branched out into audio for this third book.  WOW!  I may need to go back and listen to the first two also.  Nicola Barber is one of my new all-time favorite narrators after this.  She does nonregional dictation for most of the book, and a realistic Louisiana accent for Rory, and a clear & fantastic British accent for all the other characters!  And she switches smoothly and effortlessly through all three accents!  I was so impressed with the conversations between Rory and any other character, when Nicola had to switch back and forth multiple times between southern & British accents.

Two super enthusiastic thumbs up!


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Carniepunk by Rachel Caine

This is one of my favorite ways to find new story sources, the anthology.  I know there are some who aren't partial to anthologies but, when they are good, I can't help myself.  It's like a two pound box of See's Nuts and Chews all for me.  In the case of Carniepunk, there are more nuts than anything else.  This is a collection of strange tales that are all set in the creepiest yet alluring place, the carnival.  Bright lights, darker shadows, shifty characters and freak shows are fertile territory for tales of the paranormal or urban fantasy.

This book came with a bit of a surprise in the form of an Elemental Assassin story by Jennifer Estep that I actually liked.  Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with Ms. Estep or her writing style.  I don't know if it was the story or the main character but, for some reason, the first book in the series never appealed to me.  This anthology gave me a chance to see the character in a different light and made me consider trying out the next book in the series.

There are several other stories in the book that had the same effect on me.  Stories of love lost or found, discovery or rediscovery and stories of sacrifice and betrayal all to the tune of a merry-go-round or sideshow barker.  I must admit that I had initial concerns that, with such a distinct theme. I thought there might be too much replication of story line.  That was not the case here.  Instead of story after story of creepy clowns, the book is a patchwork of stories dealing with the dark denizens of the midway.  There's a little bit for everybody: ghosts, demons, and creatures from other planes are in some of the best written short stories of the genre.  I personally would have loved to have seen something from Charlaine Harris or Jim Butcher but, you can't have everything.

This would be a great read around Halloween but, there is quite of bit of language and mature content.  This is a definite PG13 drifting into the R rating at times so, I'd leave this one to the grownups.


Roberts Signature

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Giveaway: Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

giveawaybanTo celebrate the release of Day Shift by Charlaine Harris, Penguin is generously offering one copy of Midnight Crossroad to a lucky winner!

midnight crossroad

Stephanie reviewed the book yesterday, so I invite you to check her review!

Giveaway open to US & Canada

Ends May 19th, 2015.

Fill the form to enter!

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Monday, May 04, 2015

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

This book is definitely interesting. There's something mysterious and captivating behind the story and the characters kept me engaged through it all. I'll be the first to admit that this book isn't for everyone. From the various Goodreads reviews, it's obvious readers will have different responses to this first book of the series.

Midnight, Texas is a very small town. It's home to a variety of interesting characters, including a psychic, a witch, a vampire, a gay couple with a dog, a straight couple with a baby, and other seemingly normal people. One thing they all have in common, however, is that they all have their secrets. Manfred the psychic, the newest guy in town, quickly learns that no one asks questions in this small community. Those who want to share do, but it's unseemly to flat out ask about people's history. Manfred is alright with that until strange things start to happen. Especially when the community finds a decomposing body on the outskirts of town. Questions are now guaranteed.

The main reason why this book won't be for everyone is the slow build up. Not everyone will appreciate the slow and detailed introduction to the characters. Personally, I really liked it because it allowed me to really understand the characters before things unraveled. I'll admit, the book isn't full of action. It isn't even full of paranormal stuff. I would classify this book as a mystery first, with paranormal elements infused to add depth and detail. It's almost as if the author couldn't get away from the genre that truly made her famous. But somehow it works and I'm glad for the paranormal stuff.

Enter this book with an open mind. Forget that Charlaine Harris is behind the Sookie Stackhouse books. I haven't read Harris' other series so I can't speak for those, but Midnight Crossroad is definitely different from the Sookie books. It kind of reminds me a little of Kelley Armstrong's Cainsville series with the murder investigation and the constant secrets. It also has the mysteriousness of a Stephen King novel with all its different characters and point of views.

I'm keeping this review short because I truly believe readers need to explore it on their own. Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. Yes, because I really enjoyed it, despite being a little disappointed with the very little amount of action it included. No, because I don't want to be responsible for recommending a book that you won't like. I will be checking out the next book, which is releasing this week because the residents of Midnight, Texas charmed me as much as the ones from Bon Temps, Louisiana did. I definitely want to know more about them and see where their stories will lead us.

stephsig moon