**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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell

OHMYGOODNESS!  How much did I LOVE this book!  I usually hate when a book has a blurb on the front proclaiming it "*famous book title* meets *famous book title*" but in this case it turne out to be so true.  The Twistrose Key had a blurb saying it was a mash of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass.  So accurate!

Eleven-year-old Lin has had a rough couple of months.  Her family has moved to the city from their farm, and then Lin's pet rat Rufus passes away.  On a cold, wet night, Lin goes exploring in her cellar and finds a magical key, addressed to her.  Next thing she knows, she's in Sylver, just as Lucy passed through the wardrobe to reach Narnia.  This is where I got hooked:  only a couple pages in and I was rearranging my life to make extra reading time!  You see, Sylver is where especially well-loved pets or tame wild animals go after death.  They become larger and more dextrous and gain speech and they live in a little town.  How AWESOME is that premise?!  To think that our beloved pets never truly, completely die, but instead go on to a magical place?  Lin has been "summoned" to Sylver to help solve a mystery.  There's one semi-human (human in shape & form, but very magical) family that lives in Sylver and helps maintain the magic.  Unfortunately, they have disappeared.  If Lin can't solve this mystery and find them in just a few hours, Sylver will start to unravel as the magic unwinds.

Ya'll, this upper middle-grades story was so good that I'm trying to convince the hubby (usually only reads adult nonfiction) to try it!  The writing and pacing were excellent.  I never found myself bored or skimming.  In fact, this book took me a little longer to read than usual because I would find myself lingering over a particularly well-written passage.  It was hard to remember that C.S. Lewis himself didn't write it!  I so enjoyed "walking" around Sylver with Lin and Rufus, and meeting other animals.  When the task grew dangerous, I found myself getting pretty nervous.

The characters themselves definitely added to the book.  The friendship between Lin and Rufus is so sweet.  Neither is perfect, but they complement each other well.  When Lin gets too impatient and impulsive, Rufus is there to force her to slow down and think.  And when Rufus encounters a fear, Lin is there to help encourage him along.  The characters also did most of the heavy-lifting of world building.  Because this is Lin's first (and probably only) visit to Sylver, Rufus continues to explain things to her as they go about town searching for the missing people.  This also clues the reader in on the social mores and infrastructure layout of Sylver.  Super helpful, and meant there were no long paragraphs or sections describing scenery.

The mystery itself was really well done too.  Lin continually uncovers clues throughout the evening, but you'll be guessing until the end!  There's no way anyone could predict that ending.  Don't worry; no spoilers.  Just saying that the clues were doled out often enough to keep me very, very engaged, but not quite enough clues were given for the reader to solve the mystery before Lin does.  I love "group solves" in mystery books!

To sum up:  excellent writing, characters you'll love, gorgeous setting.  I'm adding Tone Almhjell to my "auto-buy" list!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Quantum Lens by Douglas E. Richards

Alyssa Aronson has found herself in quite the quandary. Due to her position and talents, she leads a somewhat isolated existence. After meeting Mr. Brennan Craft, she may decide that could be preferable. First, however, she may want to find out who this man really is and what connects him with two opposites: a radical Muslim leader and an American billionaire.

In Quantum Lens, we get to learn a bit about Alyssa and her adventures with Mr. Craft. As much as we learn though, I still couldn’t get a good feel for her character. That is true for the rest of the characters in this book a well but, I half expected to have a better understanding and more empathy for Alyssa.   Brennan also seemed either a bit less than I had hoped he would be. Craft actually bordered on being a Mary Sue character, in my humble opinion. Yes, I realize Brennan is male but, the significance of a Mary Sue has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the credibility of luck and ability. It was hard for me to feel any sense of drama or suspense in regard to the prospects of any of these characters without that crucial connection to them.

Another aspect that reduced the feeling of drama was so many of the predictable scenes and sequences. I’m not trying to get politically sensitive but, using Islamic extremists as a plot device is getting to be beyond worn out. I actually am very intrigued by the concept of this book and would love to see it addressed with some better constructed characters and maybe a few M. Night Shyamalan type twists. I am perfectly willing to believe that it could be just me and that I’ve read or seen more of these plot devices and twists than many people. Others may read this and get more from it than I did but, I just didn’t see enough uniqueness in the delivery of what could have been a very exciting story.

I did like the scenes, the scale and the pacing of the story. Scenes and portion intended to be action based were well placed among quieter scenes of exposition.

Quantum Lens is a good attempt at an awesome concept for a techno-thriller. It’s good but, not great. There is some language, violence and adult situations that land this book in the PG13 area.

Roberts Signature

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Sunny Vampire by Stacy McKitrick

Since I've been travelling for the last couple of weeks, I needed a fun and easy read on my kindle and this is the book that I came upon. It was exactly what I was looking for and I'm glad to have met these vampires.

Jack and Sunshine are the main focus of this book and we first meet them in a alley where Jack is waking up and can't remember how he got there. What's more, he can't remember anything about the lovely young woman next to him who is in the midst of becoming a vampire. Since she looks like his late wife, he questions whether he's the one that turned her, but since it's illegal to turn someone into a vampire without their consent and the permission of the Committee, he really wishes he could remember what happened the night before.

Sunshine wakes up in the midst of becoming a vampire with no recollection of how she got there either. As she slowly comes to terms with her new status, she is also learning how to control her vampire powers and how to survive in this new world. Her transition isn't made easy as Jack tries his best to help her but can't seem to find the right way to explain everything. Their instant sexual attraction doesn't make things easy since it makes Jack forget to tell her a few (important) things.

Their burgeoning relationship is fun to read, if not a little bit unrealistic, since everything seems to happen really fast. You don't tell a guy or a girl that you love them after less than one week of meeting them! But for the sake of fiction, if you go along with it, Sunshine and Jack are a fun couple to read about. As they investigate their loss in memory that fateful night, secrets begin to unravel and Sunshine doesn't know if she should trust Jack anymore.

In this book, Stacy McKitrick hasn't reinvented vampires but she has put her own spin on vampire hierarchy. The Committee, the body of vampire that govern vampires and sets up rules, really makes sense. Honestly, their rules are realistic, such as a mortal can not be changed without his or her consent and the mortal needs to be educated prior to the change. What makes this book interesting is the fact Jack actually works for the Committee as a judge of sorts. Not having any recollection of the night Sunshine was turned really bothers him because he has no clue whether he changed her illegally or if he was set up to be punished by his own Committee.

Overall, My Sunny Vampire is a fun and fast read. Honestly, there's nothing exceptional about the book but it did keep me entertained with its fun and steamy scenes. The fun characters really do make this book interesting and if you're in the mood for an amusing paranormal romance, this book might be a good pick.

stephsig moon

Friday, July 24, 2015

Stacking the Shelves [169]

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!


Jenn here, for the first time in months! Things have been busy, per usual, and I've not kept good track of the books I've gotten since my last STS post, which was last year, so here are a few of my purchases/review titles from the past little while.

I hope you're all having a great weekend and I look forward to seeing what you've added to your shelves this week.

For review:

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer EstepSpider's Trap by Jennifer EstepThe Shattered Court by M. J. Scott

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep [review]
Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep [review]
The Shattered Court by M. J. Scott [review]


Misery's Way by J.C. DanielsPirate's Alley by Suzanne JohnsonHidden by Benedict Jacka

Broken Souls by Stephen Blackmoore
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Misery's Way by J.C. Daniels
Hidden by Benedict Jacka
Pirate's Alley by Suzanne Johnson
Shades of Treason by Sandy Williams

Freebie (Canada/US only):

Autumn by Sierra Dean

Autumn by Sierra Dean

What have you added to your shelves?

[inlinkz_linkup id=548183]


Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Dacia and Lou are embarking for the trip of their life when they head to Romania to meet with their mother's family. A lot of secrets awaits them, and nothing could prepare them for what they will have to face.

Silver in the Blood has a fun concept, but the execution was lacking for me. The first 50% of the novel is, I'll dare say, boring. It took me almost 2 weeks of reluctant reading, wondering if I should give up altogether, to reach the 50% milestone. The world building is extremely slow and Jessica is so focused on keeping things vague and mysterious that she completely lost my interest. Up to that point, the characters were drab and typical.

Thankfully, things finally picked up when the big, bad secret (which, let's be honest, wasn't much of a surprise) was revealed. There was finally interesting moments and some action to hang onto. The characters finally had some flavor as well! Dacia who had been outgoing and fast-spoken thus far suddenly became almost catatonic until she knocked out of it toward the end. Lou, on the other hand, had been a shy introvert who turned onto a confident and strong woman. I think Lou's transformation is the only thing I really loved about this book. She was like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.

The lore had an interesting (if not completely original) flavor. The legend surrounding the Florescu family was good, but there was definitely not enough details about Mihai's family. Do they have powers of their own? Why would the Florescus feel compelled to protect them for centuries if they don't have anything special? We don't get answers and it just didn't make sense. I liked the part about the Wing, the Claw, and the Smoke. It was an interesting twist.

We don't meet Dacia's mother at all and it is kind of disappointing because I was curious about her. What kind of woman would send her daughter across the world to face such trauma?

Overall, my review is clearly negative. It's not a bad book, I know many are raving about it, but its flaws bothered me. If you are curious about it, I would suggest getting it from the library.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Just a heads up, in case you've been locked in a bunker for the last decade:  New Moon is the second book in the Twilight Saga.  So if you haven't read Twilight, you might want to check out that review first.

As I mentioned in that review, I'm reading these fresh.  I never read them during the big hype about 10 years ago.  In fact, I'm a little afraid to admit this, but I was a Twilight teaser.  I teased folks who read and loved it.  :(  I'm so sorry!  Now I'm reading them and I get it.

The writing isn't bad at all!  In fact, it's pretty good.  And the pacing feels right also.  Yes, there is teen angst.  And yes, there are moments when you want to reach into the book and give Bella a good shake and make her reconsider her life choices.  But overall, it's not too shabby.  And it's hard for the library employee in me to "put down" any book that gets folks reading.

While Twilight focused nearly entirely on developing Bella's character and her relationship with Edward, New Moon focuses more on Bella and her friendship with Jacob.  And I LOVED that!  Even in Twilight, when Bella was dating Edward, I was wanting more Jacob.  From that first party on the beach, he just seemed so sweet.  I'm not that old, and I can remember being a teen and wanting to do nothing but be with the boyfriend.  Now that I'm (supposedly) an adult, I recognize the value of balancing time at work with time with the hubby and time with friends, but teens are so very in-the-moment.  They often get caught up in these 20 minutes or so, and don't always think about the big picture.  In this way, Stephenie Meyer created such a believable character in Bella.  She makes some highly questionable decisions, but she's so genuine about it.  She so often thinks she's doing the right thing... even when she isn't.

I loved seeing her friendship with Jacob develop.  And I loved the slight "mystery" surrounding Jacob in the second half of the book or so.  No spoilers, so I can't even tell you what is mysterious about Jacob!  Somehow I managed to never hear about the spoiler during the hype.  (Lucky stars, I guess!)  I totally figured it out before Bella, but I think that's because I knew what kind of genre this book fit in.  And I was enjoying the unfolding of their friendship so much that I didn't even care that I was faster on the uptake than Bella!

Part of the appeal of these books has been the audiobook narration.  Ilyana Kadushin is fantastic!  I think these are the first books I've heard read by her, and I hope the next two are read by her too.  She gives Bella a very authentic voice, has clear and steady speech, good pacing, and fantastic enunciation.

And for those of you out there curious:  at the end of New Moon, I'm Team Jacob.  That could change after Eclipse, but for now that's where I stand.


P.S. I feel a little silly asking this, but can anyone explain the titles to me?  I thought I might have just missed something with Twilight, but then New Moon was never clearly explained.  Perhaps to do with Jacob's situation?  But then what does "twilight" reference?  I hate feeling left out of the loop!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

If You've Got It, Haunt It (A Haunted Vintage Mystery) by Rose Pressey

If you sell clothing in a small town, it can be very beneficial to have the attentions of a well known person of influence known for their  style.  Cookie Chanel may have agreed before she actually received such attentions if that person hadn't passed on before they met.  I suppose the endorsement of a ghost wouldn't be received in the same spirit as it would from a living person.  That is the least of Cookie's problems because, now that she has Charlotte Meadows' attention, she can't seem to get rid of her.  That is unless, possibly, maybe there could be a chance that if Cookie solves Charlotte's murder, Charlotte will move on.

Cookie Chanel is such a bright, energetic and independent character, it's easy  to not just like her but to nearly fall in love with her.  She reminds me a lot of  GirlBoss ,Sophia Amoruso.   We get to see more facets of her personality than just the chipper young woman who owns her own vintage clothing store but, that is the enduring impression.  A person that most people respect and like.  She has her now constant companion, Charlotte Meadows who, while she was alive, was a person most people respected and tolerated.

The small town setting fits with the vintage clothes store and gives the story the feel of a pulp fiction detective novel.  The reader is ever at risk of drifting into feelings of nostalgia either from the descriptions of clothing or Cookie's own car. Rose Pressey did a wonderful job of weaving the fashion and feeling into her fiction.
This is a murder mystery and characters get hurt and some die. With that said, it's still a very light and fun read. We experience this quaint town with it's eccentric cast of characters through the eyes of Cookie as she tries to navigate the politics and societal pressures all while trying to help Charlotte and keep her business going. I probably could point out half a dozen tropes that have been used (some over-used) but, I won't. The story works, tropes and all, and it's entertaining.
If You've Got It, Haunt It is a very fun read especially for anybody into vintage clothing or nostalgia for the early to mid 20th century. It's a very light PG13 due to some of the subject matter but, I wouldn't hesitate to suggest it to a teen.

Roberts Signature

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Spider's Trap Blog Tour: Review + giveaway

Spider's Trap Tour Banner

A quick warning: Spoilers for previous novels abound in this review! If you're not caught up, you might want to skip down to the giveaway. :)

Gin's in a very different position in SPIDER'S TRAP: she's spent much of the series hunting Monroes and dodging assassins and now she's the queen of Ashland's underworld. "Reluctant" doesn't even begin to describe how she feels about it but her feelings become moot when someone plants a bomb on her friend Phillip's boat while she's on board for a meeting. The would-be assassin's magic is unlike anything Gin has ever faced, and she can help but think it's related to her past, though she can't quite put her finger on it. Nonetheless, Gin being Gin, she goes into full seek-and-destroy mode, to ensure the safety of her loved ones.

The books in the Elemental Assassin have a definite structure to them: Gin meets threat, Gin spends novel trying to defeat threat (usually with at least one attempt that goes awry - at great cost to her person), Gin survives (again, often at great cost to her person). Within this structure, there's usually a lot of nice personal and thoughtful moments, particularly in the past couple novels, where Gin has struggled with being "out" as The Spider and how that affects the people she cares about. In SPIDER'S TRAP, Gin's reflections go in a different direction, taking us back to her early days with Fletcher, which is one of the reasons I really enjoyed this novel. Every few books, we get to dip our toes into Gin's early days -- you can't quite call it an idyllic childhood, can you? -- and these are my favourite stories because we see how Gin became the woman she is. And we get to learn about Fletcher, who I'm very attached to despite the fact that he's been dead for pretty much the entire series. Gin's formative years and her time with Fletcher are always fascinating and SPIDER'S TRAP is no exception. Estep has given us another peek at Gin's younger self, and of Fletcher in his prime, and I loved it. (As an aside, I would happily read a prequel series just about Fletcher with or without teenaged Gin and Flynn.) Without going too far into spoiler territory, I think I can safely say that it was quite fun to have Gin be something of a secondary player in some of the reminiscences. I'm afraid to be less cryptic, so you'll just have to read through the novel to really get what I mean by that!

I have such big love for SPIDER'S TRAP that I could go on and on but I'm very concerned that I'll inadvertently ruin some of the surprises so I think I'll have to sign off now. ;) I'll close by saying that, as ever, Estep has written a fast-paced, action-filled novel that also manages to deliver great character development and pithy dialogue. It's no mean feat to keep a series interesting once it's hit double digits but she's done a fine job. I'm always eager to read the next Elemental Assassin book and SPIDER'S TRAP has truly delivered. It's exciting, satisfying, and will have you hooked from the opening scene. I dare you to read the excerpt linked below and not run to the bookstore to get your own copy!

Read an excerpt


There is a tour-wide giveaway with different prizes depending on region. Make sure you check the Raffelcopter for details. The prizes:

1 winner will receive an entire print set of Jennifer’s Elemental Assassin series - all 13 books! (US/Canada only)
10 winners will receive one copy of SPIDER’S TRAP (US/Canada only)
1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card (this is open internationally!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [168]

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!


 Hey ya'll!  Hard to believe we're halfway through summer.  (I work in a library, so I measure "summer" as the span of Summer Reading.  In my little corner of the world, that's June 15th-August 15th this year.)  And guess what!  Today is my wonderful mom's birthday.  And Monday is my dad's!  So a shout out and happy birthday to my folks!


I give them a lot of credit in fostering my love of reading.  They are also readers, and they provided me with so many great books and library trips growing up.

And speaking of books....  It's only been two weeks since the last time I hosted Stacking the Shelves, so my stack is a little lighter this time.

Rose Society Marie Lu Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant Joanna Wiebe

A coworker went to the American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco and brought back a "sneak peek" of Marie Lu's The Rose Society and The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe for me.  Can you believe I haven't read any Marie Lu yet?  And we share the same first name!

Battle Cry of Freedom James McPherson

The hubby bought Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson last weekend, and I know I'll end up reading it too.  The Civil War isn't really something I know much about, but I'd like to know more.  And then the hubby and I can talk about it together!

Love Ruby Lavender Deborah Wiles

Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles is just a fun-looking little audiobook I picked up at the library last week.  Sometimes I like something a little more light-hearted in the summer months.

What about you?  What books did you bring home this past week?  Click the link (I remembered this time!) to join in the fun!


[inlinkz_linkup id=545767]

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud

The Golem's Eye is the second book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.  If you haven't read the first book, The Amulet of Samarkand, I recommend checking out that review first to avoid spoilers.

Quite a bit of time passes between The Amulet of Samarkand and The Golem's Eye.  Nathaniel is now 14 years old, and working for the government in Internal Affairs.  He's very into keeping his profile low and his fashion high.  He is happiest when his life is plodding along serenely.  Unfortunately, there's a Resistance movement building up in London; a rogue group of young people staging small attacks around town, trying to discredit the magical government.  Nathaniel is tasked with investigating and disbanding this group, led my a young lady named Kitty.  Nathaniel soon finds himself traveling to the enemy city of Prague and summoning his old "friend," the djinni Bartimaeus, to help him.

A slight sidebar to the book itself:  my local library classifies it as "Juvenile," and I'd recommend it to middle grades readers, based on writing style and language, etc.  However... the main characters are both young teens (older than middle grades readers), with no characters at all under 13 years old.  Also, the book is chock full of political intrigue, which is great, but some of it may pass over the head of younger readers.  I think it's a great book, and I can totally see myself recommending it to 8th or 9th graders.  So please don't let the "J" category put you off trying this book; I think it's a YA in masquerade!

In The Golem's Eye the reader gets an additional p.o.v.  From the first book, we've become acquainted with Nathaniel and Bartimaeus; in this book we also get the p.o.v. of Kitty, the young leader of the Resistance movement.  I don't want to give any spoilers, but I'll say that seeing through Kitty's eyes makes a big difference in the tone of the book.  Not everything is black and white; there is some more gray when you get to see the reasons or motivations behind someone's actions.  Not to condone attacks on the government, but Kitty and her friends may be more "lost" than "vicious."

We do, however, still get to enjoy Bartimaeus' witty repertoire!  I totally nominate Bartimaeus for Sassy Djinni of the Year.  His blunt honesty and appraisal of situations has me laughing out loud.  Literally.  I get these books on CD for my commute and sit at red lights laughing to myself, possibly worrying the other drivers around me.  :)  I could recommend this series on the basis of Bartimaeus and his sarcasm alone!

And then there's Nathaniel.  Poor Nathaniel is just trying to do his very best job in Internal Affairs when all the mess hits the fan.  Next thing he knows he's traveling undercover to an enemy country, investigating an anti-government group and their attacks on magic.  In The Amulet of Samarkand I felt a little pity for Nathaniel and his circumstances.  Even the circumstances he created for himself; I was still rooting for him, like you root for an underdog.  Unfortunately, in The Golem's Eye, I felt like he came across kind of wimpy and whining.  The action and Bartimaeus was enough to keep me listening, though.

So as I mentioned, I listened to this on CD.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Simon Jones narrates both, and he's got a delightful British accent.  And I love how he reads the Bartimaeus parts!  Good cadence, maybe just a little bit low and accented, but always understandable.  Two thumbs on the narration!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

When the leading lady of a story is said to be 'heartbroken', we take this to mean she has suffered a tremendous emotional disappointment.  Alas, if it were only so for Penny Farthing, for she had literally  become heartbroken in that her human heart failed her.  Due to the resourcefulness of her dead sister's fiancé, she was given a second chance only, this heart has likelihood of becoming broken as well.  It's a race against time for Penny at a time when her greatest benefactor is in serious trouble.

This is were Ticker by Lisa Mantchev starts us out with the story of Penny.  She takes us on a journey through Penny's world from the view of the plucky young lady who never seems to slow down until forced to by her own body.  Constantly harassed by her brother, Nic,  and her friends to slow down and take better care of herself.  We also, eventually get to see what price Penny's antics put on her closest allies like her family an her friend Violet.  I got the impression of a young woman still discovering her place in the world and how she can effect it.

Effect it she does.  Not the she goes out looking for trouble.  It seems to find her  when she needs it least of all.  A case could be made that this story is filled with oft used tropes.  Maybe so but, I always felt that the real test for readability was not the unique nature of  the story.  It's in how well the story is told and how entertaining it is to the reader.  I think Ticker hits both of these points well.  This is the closest I've come lately to a well told steampunk story.  A tiny bit more There's a fair bit of violence and the romantic interactions are very Victorian in nature so, I would give this one a PG13 rating and wouldn't hesitate recommending this to my own 14 year old to read.

Roberts Signature


Monday, July 13, 2015

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

However unsatisfied I am with this series, I think I will always keep coming back for more out of sheer curiosity. The Anita Blake early days were great. You knew what she was all about: fighting supernatural bad guys, using a lot of guns, and sometimes using a little bit of supernatural powers to save the day. Then came the sex and the ardeur, and that was fine, until it simplybecame too much. The most recent books feel like it's all about Anita's polyamorous relationships, no matter what bad guys seem to be hunting down innocents.

At least Affliction does have some decent fight scenes and police work. There isn't even a sex scene until a good couple hundred pages. However, there's a lot of talk about Anita's sex life and her numerous (20+!) sweeties. The repetition and the explanations are getting old and frankly you can almost guess who she'll sleep with next and how the book will end.

One aspect of the book that's new is that we travel to Micah's hometown. As one of Anita's main sweeties, I think it was about time that we learnt more about the wereleopard king. I enjoyed meeting Micah's family, and getting more information about his back story. He's always been a little bit of a mystery, even thought he's been in Anita's life for quite some time. It's sad that we only get to meet his family now, under bad circumstances, as his father lays dying in a hospital bed. And because they aren't exactly sure what supernatural force is killing him, Anita feels it's her duty to investigate and find out exactly what is making bite victims like Micah's father, rot from the inside out.

For me, this series has always been a guilty pleasure and I'm not ready to give up on it yet. Most characters are pretty great and I love reading about them. Despite the book being 500+ pages, it feels like not very much happened. A lot of it is filler, descriptions of all the pretty men in Anita's life, about who works out the most in the gym and whom can outfight or outgun whom. There's also a lot of law enforcement posturing and Anita refuting her "reputation" for being a bad ass executioner and a polyamorous lover. I'm going to cut this review short because ultimately, whether you read this book or not, nothing much in the Anita-verse will have changed. Read at your own risk!

stephsig moon

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [167]

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!


Greetings from the San Diego International Comic-Con!!!!!

My family and I are in the middle of 4 days of pop-culture madness!  I just managed to get a few things onto my shelves in spite of all the weirdness and rushing around to get here.

STS July

I have been finding more interesting sci-fi titles lately.  That's what lead to my purchases Douglas Richards' Quantum Lens, Robert A. Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky and Lisa Mantchev's Ticker. So far, all very interesting books. I did get a little urban fantasy with Rose Pressy's If You've Got It, Haunt It.  I'll have a bit more to say on that later.

The past couple of days have been a rollercoaster ride with surprise appearances from Bill Murry, Jennifer Lawrence adorably tripping on her own tongue and Peter Capaldi just being some crazy mix of Peter Capaldi and The Doctor (Doctor Who).  Also, my son made his cosplay debut as Deadpool!


What madness have you allowed onto your shelves?   Roberts Signature [inlinkz_linkup id=544259]

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

Have you ever wondered what the kids of Disney's most famous royalty and villains would be like?  In The Isle of the Lost, Melissa de la Cruz explores just that!  In this book, we follow the adventures of the teen kids of Belle & the Beast, Jafar, Cruella de Vil, Maleficient, and the Evil Queen.  I was actually debating at first whether or not to review the book here on Tynga's Reviews, because all of the villains and their progeny have been banished to a magic-less island.  A book with no magic?  That wouldn't do.  But it turns out that Carlos, Cruella's son, is a tech whizkid who has invented a machine that briefly allows magic back onto the island.  This spark of magic set in motion a whole chain of events for the group.

I was definitely drawn to The Isle of the Lost by it's gimmicky nature:  the story of the teenaged children of Disney's most (in)famous villains going on a magic-filled adventure together.  That being said, I do feel that the gimmickiness will draw a clear line between those who will love the book, and those who will hate it.  First, a basic working knowledge of and love of classic Disney is required in order to full "get" all the references.  Also, there is a lot of book before the reader gets to any action, wherein the main characters are hanging out about town, interacting with other minor Disney characters, and developing setting.  Disney fanatics will love this; others may find it a bit tedious to wade through.  Personally, I fell more toward the latter group.  Many minor characters are briefly introduced and then never mentioned again, which I found off-putting.  But I could see a Disney-loving teen totally digging "seeing" all their faves living together on an island!  Second, this book is a "prequel" to a made-for-TV movie.  This isn't a spoiler; it's clearly stated in many places.  Not everyone is into the whole multimedia series experience.  This actually led to a great discussion with a library customer about the pros and cons of the multimedia experience.  Another well-known example of this is the 39 Clues series; there are many books in this series, and all contain hints/clues and special log-in information to allow readers to also interact on a website.  They're very popular.  I didn't watch the movie after finishing this book, and I'd be very interested to talk to someone who does, to see how the total package experience went.

But I digress.  Back to the book!  As I mentioned before my whole gimmick and multimedia experience sidebar, the four main characters embark on a quest of sorts in the second half of the book.  All four are children of villains, and are expected to act as such.  Where most parents encourage their kids to share and play nicely with others, these kids have parents who encourage dirty tricks and graffiti.  So it was very interesting to see how de la Cruz would write them into a "group project" of sorts.  I feel like she did it pretty well!  The characters are definitely a bit caricaturistic, but they're beyond 2D.  For an upper middle grades/young YA book, the writing is superb.  As an adult reading it, it felt a little "young," but I was reading it with the eye of a young teen, and I could totally name a few tweens that I'll be recommending this to.

The best news?  No spoilers, but The Isle of the Lost works as a standalone too.  So no worries if you don't want to try the movie!  No cliffhangers.

You'll just need to read the book to see if the quartet accomplishes their magical goal!


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Club Dead (Book 3 of the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries) by Charlaine Harris

This is a review of Club Dead, Book 3 of the Sookie Stackhouse series. If you haven’t read, but may someday in the future want to read the previous books, please come back once you have. Unless, of course, you like spoilers, because, I’m likely to spoil the heck out of the first three books right off the bat.

Here I am in book 3 already, and I still, get a little tripped up by differences in the book Sookie and the TV show Sookie. Along with Sookie’s more pronounced physical attributes in the book, she also seems to be less likely to believe in her own appeal. I think it’s an interesting character trait that is realistic. I we use the other characters reaction to Sookie, we get a slightly different picture of her. They seem to see her as a strong willed, sharp minded and rustically beautiful woman. It’s really the only thing that explains how she can be the center of gravity to so many odd and dangerous events. Little things like a maenad causing a small group from Bon Temps, including her best friend Tara, to lose all sexual control right before Sookie’s eyes.

In this installment, we meet Alcide Herveaux, surveyor from Mississippi. Alcide is commissioned by Eric to help Sookie with a little project. As to be expected, the situation around this project isn’t quite what people expect. Though this is not a straight forward murder mystery, there are elements of one woven throughout the story. There are many dead bodies that show up but, for the most part, you know who the culprit is. It’s all that surrounds these events that makes the real mystery.

This story is easy to follow and makes sense even with the twists and turns it follows. My only real disappointment was with the lack of a secondary plot. In the first two books, there were at least two plots going on almost simultaneously and I thought that gave the stories a bit more authenticity. After all, life doesn’t occur consecutively. All too often, things happen concurrently and inconveniently.

This is still a worthy addition to the Sookie Stackhouse collection and I am still enjoying the journey. As always, this book is intended for a mature audience with the violence, language and sex scenes. I would put this deep in the R rated area.

Roberts Signature

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Cage by Megan Shepherd

This book is quite out there but I was hooked right from the start. Alien abduction isn't an original concept but the ideas in this book are far fetched enough to be innovative and entertaining. From the writer of The Madman's Daughter trilogy (which I still haven't read), The Cage is Megan Shepherd's  first book of a new trilogy about alien abductions, love, deceit and survival.

The introduction to the characters and their new habitat is perfect because we're as confused as they are about their situation. Abducted from Earth, five strangers are place in a fake environment, expected to follow the rules set by their captor, who calls himself Caretaker. Caretaker, who's name is actually Cassian, is definitely not human, but has a human shape and some human features. For some odd reason, Cora is mildly attracted to her captor, even though she would never admit it to her fellow prisoners. At first, the five humans learn to live together in their fake and experimental setting but Cora never gets comfortable enough to ignore the black windows which are placed everywhere for surveillance and evaluation.

The whole concept of holding humans in a (rather large) cage, like we would animals in a zoo, is quite frightening. Personally, I've never been able to watch Big Brother because I find it almost barbaric. I don't care if the Caretaker says it's to save and protect the human race. Cassian is part of the Kindred, a race they believe are more "intelligent" than humans because of their psychic and telepathic abilities. The Kindred's goal with the experiment is obviously not just to protect Cora and her new friends. They must have a secondary agenda and Cora is determined to escape, no matter what it may be.

The book has multiple point of views so we really get to see this world through every captive's eyes. Cora, however, is the main point of view and main character and she's in fact the most rebellious prisoner. She defies the rules set for "their own good" and tries to reason with the other prisoners who eventually seem to surrender. At first, she thinks Lucky, a boy she forms a bond with, might be willing to help her, but his lies and hidden knowledge about her Earth life makes things a little awkward. Even more so, her Stockholm Syndrome attraction to Cassian makes things even more awkward between Cora and Lucky.

The weird relationship between Cora and Cassian is interesting to follow. At first, I didn't really know what to make of it. Cassian seems genuinely interested in Cora's safety, but it's obvious he has deeper motives. The Stockholm Syndrome thing is a little cliché, but entertaining none the less. Oddly enough, I didn't know whether to care about Cassian who seems actually really nice, or be disgusted by the whole affair.

My one concern with the rules of their captivity is that the prisoners are expected to copulate in order to keep the human race alive. Honestly, a little bit too much for a YA novel, in my opinion. Some characters cave into the pressure, more out of attraction than duty, but still, I hated seeing them forced together for some larger purpose. Teens are pressured enough in this day and age that they don't need to be forced to have sex in order to survive. A real scientific experiment would have let things take a more natural course.

The Cage is dark and twisted enough to be really interesting. I love a good sci-fi, especially when it's heavily influence by science. In this case, this human social experiment is a little extreme but I love it none the less. The characters are tested mentally, physically and intellectually. Their reactions in this experiment are actually quite realistic and I would hate to see if tested for real, would human really be that deceitful when it comes to surviving. Megan Shepherd may have experimented with a new genre and in my opinion, she succeeded in taping into the sci-fi genre. I can't wait for the sequel!

stephsig moon

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [166]

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!


Happy Fourth of July!  I'll be joining millions of Americans in barbecuing, hanging out with friends and family, and then watching some fireworks.   And it's a day off work!  While I love "my" teens at the library, it's also nice to have a day off, you know?  Speaking of work... a shout out to all the summer librarians out there!  Where I am, we're in it to the elbows (at least!) with all kinds of Summer Reading fun, and I know we're not alone.  So here's a toast to everyone out there planning & leading summer library programs!

Ya'll are probably getting used to my rather long lists when it's my turn to host; it's very hard to work in a library and not bring home all the books.  I think I kept my book stack to a reasonable level this time!  It's been about a month since my last hosting, and I only have two new purchases and seven library loans.

Wrath Dawn Renee Ahdieh Fireflies Book Brett Ortler


The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh:  In June, I hosted Renee Ahdieh, Carrie Ryan, and Brendan Reichs at my library.  It was such a fun evening!  As the authors talked about their books, this one really caught my eye as one to have.

The Fireflies Book by Brett Ortler:  Also in June, I went on a camping trip with some family and friends to see a special fireflies spectacle in the Great Smoky Mountains.  There's this phenomenon that only happens in this one place at this one time of the year:  thousands of fireflies all blinking in unison!  I don't have words for how cool this experience was.  Whenever a gift shop presents itself to me, I have to find a book for more information on the place I'm visiting!

Mug Meals Dina Cheney Orthodoxy GK Chesterton Nightingale Kristin Hannah Red Jacky Collis Harvey New Moon Stephenie Meyer Daughter of Deep Silence Carrie Ryan Nimona Noelle Stevenson


Mug Meals by Dina Cheney:  Once a month I do a cooking program at my library, and I'm thinking some of these would be fun to try with the teens!

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton:  This one came from a recommendation, but it looks pretty information-dense.  Might take me a little bit to get around to.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah:  Another one from recommendation!  On my personal blog, I'm doing the PopSugar Reading Challenge, and I needed "a book that made you cry."  This one came with the recommendation for potential to fulfill that!

Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Collis Harvey:  Does this one need explanation?  ;)

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer:  Despite all the hype years back, I never read this series.  I'm doing it on audiobook during the commute, and the reader was really good.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan:  As I mentioned above, I met the author last month.  I was able to try her book out through my library.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson:  Another recommendation!  One character on the front cover is a redhead, so that's a good sign.  ;)

What about you?  What did you bring home this week?  Leave a link below by clicking on the link-up or leaving a comment.

[inlinkz_linkup id=541384]

Friday, July 03, 2015

Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

What could be worst than seeing your soul-mate die in your arms again and again? It's the hand Regin The Radiant was dealt when she fell for mortal Aidan the Fierce. She wasn't quite in love yet, but cared deeply for him, and after a night a weakness, when he claimed her in passion, he died in her arms, killed by a dreadful vampire. He loved her body and soul, and swore he'd come back to her. And he did, only to die in a similar fashion every time. Regin is now determined to stay away from her dear Aidan because she can't handle the pain anymore. This reincarnation of Aidan have very different plans for her though...

Another awesome installment in the Immortals After Dark series! Kresley has never been wrong for me with her adult titles (surprisingly I don't really like her YA), and Dreams of a Dark Warrior was another success. This title was a bit different because the hero is actually a bad guy. And I mean, a REALLY bad guy. He is a leader in an organization bound to destroy all Lorekind, and when he captures Regin, it's not to sweet talk her into bed. He does (or commands) unspeakable things to all paranormals, and Regin was no exception. I liked how believable his journey was, and if I had been in the place of Regin I would've told him too little, too late dude! But I guess that Valkyrie is more forgiving than I lol. I actually pitied him in the end, and he worked really hard to earn redemption, so I must give him credit for that.

Regin was radiant *snickers* no seriously, the girl was really shining through with her spunky personality. I loved that she was determined to do the right thing, even if Aidan (named Chase in this reincarnation) was awful. I loved how she kept her head held high in even the worst situation, and has a fierce desire to protect her loved ones. Her interaction with her roommates was fun and endearing and her respect for her berserk ally was commendable.

The plot all takes place in the same location and it's quite a feat to keep things interesting in such a limited location. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, wondering when Chase would give in and remember Regin, or if she would give up and sacrifice him yet another time. The tension between them was excruciating, and that's without mentioning the unbearable sexual electricity. I was wondering when they would jump each others' bones.

One of the aspect I like about Kresley's book is that the time lines on each novel overlap. This story takes place in the same time frame as Demon From the Dark and Pleasure of a Dark Prince. Since Lothaire played a big role in the novel, I am guessing "Lothaire" - the novel, will overlap some as well. I think it keeps things interesting and it's refreshing because it's different from any other series I've read.

Dreams of a Dark Warrior was a very satisfying read, and if you haven't started this series yet, I must ask you, What are you waiting for???


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

This might sound crazy, but I think Sinner, the fourth and final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, is the best of the run!  (An aside:  I realize that the previous sentence is a little "off."  Maggie Stiefvater set out to write a trilogy, but then her fans and publishing house pressed for a fourth book.  She complied.  Hence a trilogy containing four books.)

I am fortunate to have a job that brings me into first- and second-hand contact with YA authors at times.  I heard second-hand that Stiefvater didn't want to write Sinner, but I'm so glad she did.  This book is quite different from the original three books in the trilogy.  I'd describe it more as a contemporary romance than a paranormal romance; it's the love story of Cole and Isabelle, and it's just a background piece of information that Cole happens to be a werewolf.

You'll remember from the first books that Cole was a very famous musician before he became a werewolf.  As the frontman for the uberpopular Narcotica, Cole was living the stereotypical badass rocker lifestyle, chasing booze and girls and highs.  When the illegal substances stopped providing the desired high, he turned to lycanthropy.  Now, after a year spent "dead" (?)/missing, he's back.  It's Cole, who lives life louder than most, so he doesn't just quietly start going to Starbucks again.  No, he's signed on to a special reality show where he's put in a house with a new drummer and a new bassist to write and record a full album in six weeks.  Along the way he'll be up to his usual hijinks:  impromptu block parties; bassist auditions on the beach; late night diner runs with a hired driver.  The only difference will be his sobriety.  He's spun the story that he spent time getting clean; readers of this series will know that he spent that time in Minnesota as a wolf.

Another new aspect to his life is Isabelle Culpepper.  No longer interested in chasing a new girl every night, now he's yearning to come home to the same girl (Isabelle) every night.  Sinner is told from dual viewpoints:  both Cole & Isabelle.  The entire book is about Cole, but it was great to get to see the view from an outsider looking in as well as hearing about events directly from Cole.

In the previous books, Cole doesn't even rank as a secondary character.  He's more like a well-developed tertiary character.  In this bonus book, he's the main character, and the reader really gets to see him grow and mature.  Sinner is totally a story of redemption.  Cole comes to grips with the choices he's made in the past, and the relationships he's formed and broken and reformed, and takes those life lessons to heart.  He's lived a lot since becoming famous, but in this book we see him get to be a teenager.  A teen with a lot of fame and independence, true, but a teen nonetheless.  We see him recognize his loneliness, and seek to build healthier relationships.  We see him start to take more responsibilities.

Sinner hooked me right from the start, and it'll probably hook you too.  It opens with Cole on the road from LAX to his new "job" as reality TV star.  He's on the phone, on a radio interview, and he's 110% rockstar with his flippant answers and conversational tangents... then he gets bored with LA traffic and abandons his hired car on the freeway to continue on foot!  I married a musician, and he came with lots of musician friends, and that whole "loose agenda" thing is totally in keeping with character.  I find that most artistic folks are more fluid with plans.  Not a bad thing!  They know what they enjoy, and what they don't, and they go with it.  I love being along for the ride.  (In case you're curious... I'm more Dewey Decimal-minded.  We're a well-balanced couple.)

I know I've talked your ear off, but I'm almost done!  (I just loved this book so much!)  A note on narration, since I listened to this on CD:  fantastic!  It had two readers, so Cole and Isabelle each had very distinct voices.  The readers were clear and easy to understand, and the cadence was very comfortable.  Even though there were two readers, there wasn't a jump in volume between the two.  The only (very little) pet peeve:  the narrator announced "Sinner, Disk X" at the beginning of each CD.  I have a multi-disk CD player in my car, and that sort of announcement interrupts the flow for me.

Two incredibly enthusiastic thumbs up!


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Claimed by Evangeline Anderson

To find that yourself in a position to aid in the understanding between your own culture and another can have its own reward. If it comes with a price equal to or less than your own gain, the rewards should be even greater. Then why does Olivia balk at being a part of a bridge between two cultures when she has so much to gain? Well, it might be the price of only rarely seeing her family, to include her fraternal twin sister. It may also be the other culture, who is from another world. An even greater disincentive might be she is expected to be not so much an ambassador, but a bride to a rather large warrior.

This is familiar, though not overly abused, story of two complete different people reluctantly bound by fate. We get to discover an alien race and culture alongside a woman who was thrust into it without warning. This story has many of the common pitfalls in store for Olivia though, many are approached uniquely enough to make them feel newer. We also get to see and feel the personal struggles of some of our characters as events unfold and easier and safer routes seem to appear but, those opportunities often run counter the characters beliefs, convictions or goals.

The main characters of Olivia, her sister Sophia and Baird and his brother inhabit most of the scenes and so, are the most developed in the book. As time goes on, through flashback we are given glimpses into their lives. These flashbacks start to answer many question they (and we) have of the others. Some of the exposition felt a little uneven to me. Much of what was given up in the first few chapters could have been teased out throughout the book to add to the drama.

This book has a significance I had not expected. I am accustomed to books with some steamy love scenes that include frank descriptions of sex. What I did not expect from this book was how frank and how often the subject was brought up. The phrases run from the somewhat clinical to euphemistic to plain vulgar. Now, I’m no prude and I offer this story, Kryptische, as proof. It was written by the author as a companion piece to my last year’s Camp NaNoWriMo novel. When I read it, I thought it wasn’t too bad even though my novel is much tamer. Point being, I can not only endure but enjoy a well-crafted sex scene. These came off tepid to me because of the constant vulgarity. It’s likely a matter of taste or maybe I’m just that jaded.

Claimed is an entertaining book with a very intriguing premise. The idea of two very divergent races with needs the other can fulfill if they can work past their differences is a timely tale no matter when it is told. This is not one for anybody younger than 18 and get a definite X rating for language and sexual content.