**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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Starflight by Melissa Landers

I absolutely loved this book. It has everything a good sci-fi needs: a derelict ship with a group of outcasts for a crew, a space government conspiracy, space pirates and two young adults running away from the government and those space pirates. Fans of the TV show Firefly will love this book, and while it has many similarities, the actual story is very different.

The protagonist of the book, Solara Brooks, will do pretty much anything to get on board a ship that will bring her to one of the new colonies, on the outskirts of space. And that includes becoming a servant for Doran Spaulding, her high school bully and nemesis. Their servant/master relationship doesn't last very long as Solara cons her way out of it, in a very genius way. Solara is very clever and mechanically proficient, so fans of Firefly will compare her to Kaylee. As an orphan, she really didn't have many chances in life, and when she was just about to graduate from high school, she got into trouble and convicted for crimes she helped commit. In this world, every felon gets tattoos on their hands, advertising their crime and making it very difficult to find a job or be trusted. Solara hides her hands out of shame but the crew members of the Banshee slowly start to trust her, despite their knowledge of her shady past.

Solara is a survivor and a fighter. She will do just about anything to succeed in life, and she's not afraid to take chances. Doran Spaulding was born into an easy life. His father owns a very wealthy oil company and he's always taken advantage of his status to get what he wants. Solara turns his life upside down, and honestly, it's probably the best thing that's ever happened to him. Especially now that he's wanted by the government, Solara's street smarts come in handy quite a few times. Solara and Doran are the most unconventional pair, but for some reason, they work well together. They started off as enemies, became "cohorts" (their word, not mine) and then developed strong romantic feelings.

Honestly, the world the author created isn't crazy original. There are no alien life-forms--just humans traveling in space. However, the way it was executed was genius. Her story, the action and her amazing characters make Starflight stand out from the crowd. I really enjoyed the slow build and the fact the details were only revealed when they were absolutely necessary.

Fans of science-fiction will surely enjoy this one. It's an easy novel to read and it has just enough romance, action and science to make it a well rounded novel. The author will surely explore her universe a little bit more since she left quite a few questions unanswered. In the few hours that I spent reading Starflight, I fell in love with these characters so I definitely want to know what happens next.

stephsig moon

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stacking The Shelves [199]

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 Saturday, everyone!  I had a really good week, and I really hope y'all did too.  Nothing out of the ordinary to make it great- just lots of little things.  Yesterday a teen at work "interviewed" me and asked if I loved my job, and I didn't hesitate a moment before saying "yes!"  Enjoying my work as a teen library services specialist makes it easy to get up in the morning and face the day.

It hasn't been too long since the last time I hosted Stacking the Shelves, so my list of books to share isn't too long.  What did you bring home?  Please share!


On Becoming Birthwise

On Becoming Birthwise by Anne Marie Ezzo, Sharon Nelson, Diane Dirks, Pam Harer, Sharon Auguston, and Kathy Hoefke:  I read and enjoyed On Becoming Babywise so much that I figured the birthing companion would be just as helpful!  We'll see.  :)


Six of Crows Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:  a coworker told me another coworker that this book is absolutely fantastic and we must read it.  I trust this coworker's opinion, so I immediately checked it out.  And look at that cool cover design!

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Alexander McCall Smith

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith:  And I also continue reading this lovely little cozy mystery series!  I just so enjoy "visiting" Botswana during my commute.

What books did you bring home this week?  Leave your link below in the comments!  (Linksy to come.)  Have a great weekend, all!


[inlinkz_linkup id=611473]

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Meridian by Josin McQuein

A quick heads-up:  Meridian is the sequel to Arclight.  You can read my review of Arclight HERE, and there may be slight spoilers for Arclight in the review below.

When Meridian opens, the Arclight community is relatively stable.  Folks are back to somewhat regular routines.  Anne-Marie is now a teacher, Tobin is a perimeter guard, and Marina works in the Arbor.  Everyone knows now what Marina was, and what she is now, and most are ok with it.  At least they tolerate her.  And Marina is discovering that she may not have been 100% "cured" anyway.  For about 8 pages, the reader thinks that things may have finally settled down in the Arclight.  Marina even seems moderately happy when working in the Arbor, and with Tobin.

Then everything goes nuts again.  Of course!  It wouldn't be a very exciting book if Marina and Tobin and Anne-Marie simply grew up and lived happily ever after, right?  Before you can blink an eye, Tobin and Marina start having horrible, horrible nightmares.  In them, the Fade form a flood and drown them.  Anne-Marie's brother, Silver, and Dante all start to turn Fade.  What is going on?  The Fade are supposed to be somewhat neutral now- they keep to their own place in the Dark, but they're not active enemies, either.  So why are people starting to turn again?  How are the Fade even getting into the Arclight, with the perimeter back up and running?

This is a NONSTOP book.  Every time you start to think that the characters have the next challenge figured out, NOPE.  There they go again- change in plan, change in challenge.  In Arclight, they thought they'd figured out the Fade in general- turns out (in Meridian) that there might actually be an even bigger threat.  One that even the Fade they know are frightened of.  On a positive, there might also be other human survivors out there.  I'm reflecting back on the book this evening, and I don't think that any of the main characters sleep at all for the last 2/3 of the book.  That's how much action is in there!

(On sort of a side note to all the action... a coworker recently challenged all of us to come up with a list of YA books that don't involve romance.  While Tobin and Marina definitely care about each other, there is absolutely no time for any romance in this book.  I think there was one quick kiss.  No handholding, no declarations of love, no monologues about how beautiful the other is.)

As I wrote in my review of Arclight, Marina is a difficult character to connect to/empathize with.  It took me most of Arclight to start to empathize with her, and I never really came around to fully liking her.  Same in Meridian... maybe she's just hard to read?  But her actions and words never came across as very emotionally available.  She comes across very cold and indifferent.  Perhaps also there's just too much going on.  Only half of the chapters are from her point of view (the other half are from Tobin's), and there's so much plot going on that character development takes a backseat.  I couldn't even physically describe most of the secondary characters to you, they're so underdeveloped.

On the plus side- lots of plot!  As I mentioned, tons of action.  There's also plenty of description of setting.  Y'all, this is a very dark book.  Literally.  Most of it takes place at night, of course, and the characters are being pursued/attacked by clouds and swarms of dark nanites.  These are described as being black, like grains of iron, that drip off of the Fade and off of the trees and puddle in the ground.  I'm so glad that the author spends time on description.  The whole theory of sentient nanites that can be in a person's blood or in their skin, or even operate independently, is so foreign to my worldview that I needed the descriptions to be able to picture it at all.  There is, however, very little explanation of the theory or origin of the nanites in Meridian; you'll need to read Arclight first to understand.

Overall, not a bad read.  I definitely flew through it, because I couldn't put it down in the midst of all the action!  However, there was very minimal character development or growth, so that takes a few half-stars off my rating.  Also, the ending really feels like it sets up a third book, but the author's website makes no mention of any more Arclight books.  Bummer!

Marie[inlinkz_linkup id=611473]

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Arena by Holly Jennings

How thin is the veil between real and imagined?  How much of reality is real and how much of fantasy is imagined?  These questions are at the core of Kali Ling's struggle in a life dominated by image, story and the competing realities of actual and virtual.

In Arena by Holly Jennings, the real and surreal clash into a vortex around one warrior: Kali Ling.  To paraphrase Mr. Rod Serling: This is an adventure of sight, sound, smell, feel and mind.  The ultimate question being can Kali and her team Defiance make it to the end intact.

Holly Jennings brings us deep into the not too distant future and the world of eSports in a way that is plausible and sometimes disturbing.  The story takes place almost entirely in and around the training facility of team Defiance.  At times this made the place feel either isolating or confining or even protective to the character’s different times.  Most of all, it helps elevate or even create tension and conflict within the story.

When we first meet Kali and her team, they all seem oddly two dimensional.  That does not last very long.  Soon, we are drawn into Kali's world and witness how she handles all the situations that arise from that one event that altered her world forever.  We also get a good view of the effect the event and Kali's changes have on them.  Since the story is written in first person from Kali's perspective, we only get the development in the others from her observations.

Although this book is described as dystopian but, I find that doesn't quite fit.  It does show the problem that society has with eSports and could be seen as allegory to current times sports or entertainment industries.  What we don't see is the downfall of a society, social order or government like we do in most dystopian stories.  I see this as a very well-constructed hard science fiction.

Arena by Holly Jennings is a hard hitting science fiction story that is very forward thinking in many ways.  This book both touches on and tackles some very sensitive subjects in a bold and clear manner.  If it weren't for the language, the violence and mild sex scenes, I would recommend this for teens everywhere.  With those two things in mind, I have to give this an R rating but, suggest parents look into it for teens seventeen and up.

Roberts Signature

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

THE SCORPION RULES might seem like your generic Young Adult dystopian novel but I was pleasantly surprise. It is original and very well written. The world building is exceptional and while it might be a little far fetched, it's based on a real world problem that could, in theory, happen. Global warming is a reality in this book, and the world is drying up. Drinking water is becoming rarer. Four hundred years in the past, people started wars over water, and so, an artificial intelligence being took it upon himself to end all wars by blowing up cities around the world in order to control the world populations. The AI knew blowing up cities wouldn't work in the long term, so he decided to take world leaders' children hostage to help them keep the peace. And so began Talis's rule.

As a Child of Peace, Greta has been prepared to die for her country. If she can survive past her her 18th birthday, she'll be free, but until then she's a hostage for the Pan Polar Confederacy, what used to be Canada. As the Crown Princess of the Confederacy and the Duchess of Halifax, she doesn't get special treatment. Like all the other Children of Peace, she has been raised humbly on how to survive off the land. Since she was five, she has lived in one of the many Preceptor schools with other world leaders' children. What happens the weeks following the arrival of a new hostage, Elián, will forever change Greta's life. Greta's attracted to this new boy. As a 16 year old teenager, she is confused over the feelings she has for him. He's trouble, alway saying and doing the wrong things, which he gets punished for time and time again. I think she's simply awed by someone who is willing to break the rules despite the obvious repercussions. However, he's definitely trouble because Elián represents the possibility of death. Their two countries are on the brink of war, and if war is declared, they're both dead.

The slow world building is necessary to understand the chilling situation these characters are in. And while it was necessary to understand their daily lives, I kind of didn't want to know about goat breeding. But again, it was necessary to understand that these children are taught how to live off the land, and the goats are kind of important in the long run. I would have appreciated a little bit more background information about many of the characters. Greta spends her days with her cohort but not much is known about these characters beyond the fact that their parents are world leaders.

I applaud the author's audacity to include LGBTQ relationships in this YA novel. I feel like it kind of came out of nowhere, especially since I thought the attraction between Greta and Elián was obvious. I thought the author might expand this relationship, seeing how their two countries are enemies. However, Greta develops (or realizes she has) strong romantic feelings for her female roommate. I totally didn't see that coming, and I think Greta didn't either. Still, I applaud the author for trying for a different kind of romantic triangle.

Although I don't like Greta's final decision towards the end of the book, I understand why she did it. The whole concept of artificial intelligence and copying one's thoughts and psyche in order achieve a sort of immortality isn't something new, but the way it's described in this book is quite original.

THE SCORPION RULES was a thought provoking, science and technology based book that I highly recommend. It might not be as action packed as other dystopian books on the market, but this book should not be overlooked. Just because the female protagonist isn't taught self-defence doesn't mean she can't be a strong leader. Greta, while a bit naive, is a clever and respected girl who might have what it takes to help control world peace. I really enjoyed reading her story and can't wait to find out what happens next.

stephsig moon

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stacking The Shelves [198]

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!


Feb 2016 STS for Robert

So tell me, how will you fill your spare time and your shelves?Roberts Signature[inlinkz_linkup id=609628]

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

Shovel Ready is a dark, fast-paced, adult, dystopian noir novel.  I read mostly Juv and YA, so I always expect adult books to go a little more slowly.  Y'all, I flew through Shovel Ready!  It's a true page-turner.  There's not a single unnecessary sentence in the whole novel.

Shovel Ready is a dark dystopian- it takes place in a future NYC, about a year after nuclear bombs were set off in Times Square.  Most people fled the city, so it's a little odd to be reading about the main character moving about downtown so quickly and easily.  There's never a wait for transportation or traffic to contend with.  In fact, the main character, Spademan, doesn't even have a legit job anymore- he was a garbageman, but there just isn't that much garbage to collect.  Now he has the illegitimate job of hired assassin.  Very convenient that he used to be a garbageman- he knows how to get rid of "trash."  I found it interesting, though, that as the book progressed, I liked Spademan more and more!  I never thought I'd find myself liking a hit man!  I think it was at least partly his snark.  I do love me some snarky characters.  I'll take "dark" or sarcastic humor over slapstick any day of the week.

One thing about the book, though- the layout of the text.  This is not usually a detail worth talking about, but it is in Shovel Ready.  You see, there are no quotation marks.  At first this gave me a little pause, but I got used to it really quickly.  There is still indentation to signify that a new thought or new speaker was beginning, so that's good.  I loved the flow of the writing so much, though.  I put a snippet from the first chapter down below to try to entice you to try this book.

Beyond the book taking place in a dystopian NYC, there's also futuristic tech featured.  After the world went to pot, some enterprising entrepreneurs came up with a new kind of internet called the limnosphere.  People can "tap in" through special beds- they go unconscious in physical body while their subconscious hangs out in the limnosphere, where they can be anything and do anything they want.  Some of the richest people left in America even pay special nurses to come by and give them IV nutrition so that they never need to leave the limnosphere.  This ends up playing a huge part in the book, with the main characters interacting both in the physical world and the limnosphere.

I loved Shovel Ready, and plan to read the sequel, Near Enemy, soon!  Here's a small snippet from the book so that you can see the way it's laid out, and how sarcastic Spademan is:
People get upset when you say you kill people.

Fair enough.

But wait.

What if I told you I only kill serial killers?

It's not true, but what if I told you that?

Now what if I told you I only kill child molesters?  Or rapists?  Or people who really deserve it?

Wavering yet?

Okay, now what if I told you I only kill people who talk loudly in movie theaters?  Or block the escalator?  Or cut you off in traffic?

Don't answer.  Think it over.

Not so self-righteous now.

I'm just kidding.

There's no such thing as movie theaters anymore.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Shadow Rites: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter

This is a review of the 10th installment to the Jane Yellowrock series.  A thus far intriguing and exciting series that I would not want to spoil for any of you who may not be current in it.  If that is you, stop reading this and start reading the first book right away, I'm sure you'll be hooked immediately.  When you've caught up, come back and read up on what's new with Jane.

The Big Cat is back!  Along with her partners Eli and Alex  and so many of her friends and acquaintances that we have grown to know and appreciate.  Still in the Big Easy and still Enforcer for Leo Pellissier and getting ready for the big meeting between witches and vampires.  The only problem is, two witches decide to visit Jane early and leave a mystery in their wake.

When it comes to stories about anything fantastical or paranormal in the U.S., it's hard to beat a New Orleans for the setting.  It is a city rich in cultures and the histories that surround them.  Faith Hunter makes good use of this setting every time she brings back to visit with Jane.  In this book, as well as the others, her use of scenery enhances the mood either by matching it or by contrast.  Well appointed offices, posh parlors and smelly swamps all do their parts to lull the reader into false security or to put the reader on guard for the next beastly attack.

One of the traps for a series of this depth is the possibility of a lack of growth in the characters.  At ten books into the series, the Jane Yellowrock series does not have that problem.  Jane herself continues to have enough mystique in both her future and her past that we may yet see a great deal more of her in books to come.  Her compatriots get similar treatment.  We still don't know much of Eli Younger's past and Alex Younger might be a future that bears watching.

The plot and pacing themselves are somewhat familiar but, don't feel forced or formulaic.  We have general ideas that conflicts will happen and resolutions reached.  Thing is, it may not happen in the order you expect.  Some resolutions may be from books past some conflicts remain in place.  Much like real life, you don't know when things will settle down.

Shadow Rites: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter  maintains and actually boosts the momentum initiated by the previous installments of this series. Very entertaining though it lands comfortably in the PG13 rating for me.  There's very little in the way of language but, the violence and mature situations keep it there.

Roberts Signature

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

As far as YA books go, this one is pretty intense. While it isn't as good as the first book, this sequel is non-stop action, character driven and very dark.

Curiously, as much as I loved and sympathized for the main character, Adelina, at the beginning of the story, I really don't agree with some of the decisions she's made throughout the course of the novel. Her revenge has driven her into making some of the worse mistakes in her life, and while she thinks she's doing the right thing, clearly she's on the wrong path. She has some pretty dark thoughts and I wonder if they're really coming from her, or from an ominous source.  I really hope she can redeem herself in the next book, because since reading the last scene, I kind of hate her. I know hate is a strong word but the fear and the power she uses to control people is definitely something I disagree with. Her Elite power to create illusions isn't just something useful. It has now become her weapon, and ultimately, I think it will be her demise.

Cast out by the Dagger Society in the previous book, Adelina searches for new allies. When thieves and mercenaries start following her, it's clear Adelina is going in for a fight. At first she's determined to free the malfettos of Kenettra, those children, like herself, marked by the blood fever. But her goal to save those that can't protect themselves turns into something more. Along the way, she sets her sight on something bigger, the throne and the crown jewels of Kenettra. Of her new followers, Magiano is one of the new characters that I really enjoy. He's probably one of my favourite characters of the book since he's probably the only one that stays genuine to the end. He still remains a mystery, but one thing he's unable to hide is his feelings for Adelina. He clearly cares for her, though she's blind to it.

Since the fall of their leader, the Daggers have allied themselves to the new Queen of Beldain who's ultimate goal is probably to usurp Kenattra. The Daggers and Adelina may want the same thing, but unable to forgive, they fight a common enemy while also fighting each other. As much as I liked Raffaele in the previous book, in this one he's uninspiring and lost. I think, ultimately, all the characters at this point of the series, are lost.

This series is not for the faint of heart and is better suited for an older Young Adult audience. The story in general is pretty dark and the author clearly isn't afraid of killing off some of the key characters. The final battle of the book is riveting, dramatic and a blood bath. So many things happen in this book and I've done a poor job of gathering all my thoughts together. While I really enjoyed The Rose Society, I feel like I need to read the next book before I recommend this series to anyone.

stephsig moon

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stacking The Shelves [197]

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 Saturday, everyone!  Over on my personal blog, Marie's Reads, I've been doing the PopSugar Reading Challenge on Saturdays.  Hosting Stacking the Shelves this week gets me off the hook from admitting that I haven't checked anything off the list this week!

So here in NC, it's been COLD.  I know a lot of our readers are much farther north than I am, and will laugh:  it's been in the 40s (Fahrenheit) here all week.  And Sunday/Monday are only going to be in the 30s!  But good news (and I hope I'm not jinxing anything here): there's been some chatter about potential snow on Monday.  I'm super excited!  Where I live, 1"-3" of snow/ice accumulation is enough to get a snow day off work, and for me that's a read-a-book-while-drinking-hot-chocolate day!

So here are all the books I've brought home in the last couple of weeks, since the last time I hosted Stacking the Shelves.  Gosh, it's been since before Christmas!  You'll see some Christmas gift books on my list, and you'll also notice that I got on a No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency kick.  And the baby books continue... some friends warned me that I'd just make myself nervous reading baby books; I found that I was more nervous not knowing.

What did you bring home this week?  Join the fun with the link below!


Come Rain Come Shine Jan Karon If You're Lucky Yvonne Prinz Shovel Ready Near Enemy Adam Sternbergh Hedgehugs Steve Wilson Lucy Tapper No Better Friend Robert Weintraub

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon:  My mom and I love love love the Mitford series by Jan Karon, and this is the latest release.  My mom got it for me for Christmas... and I got her the same book!  :)

If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz:  I don't know much about this one; it was gifted me by a coworker who's opinion I totally trust, so I'm looking forward to it.

Shovel Ready and Near Enemy by Adam Sternbergh:  I was sent Near Enemy by the publisher for review, but hadn't yet read Shovel Ready, so I quickly ordered that for myself on Amazon.  I always feel so grateful and excited when publishers send finished copies and not just ARCs!

Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson & Lucy Tapper:  Ok, technically this one was a gift for Baby, but he's not completely here yet so I read it out loud.  He'll see the pictures in April.  :)

No Better Friend by Robert Weintraub:  And this one was technically a gift to Hubby, but I plan to read it because he told me that it was so good.  It's about a guy and his dog during WWII.  Hubby had to promise me that the dog makes it to the end; I can't read sad books where the dog dies!

Becoming Eve Susan Shepherd

Becoming Eve by Susan Shepherd:  I had to take a picture of this book when I received it- the author herself wrote such a nice inscription inside and then tied it up in a pretty tulle bow!  I was so fortunate to be part of a group of "beta readers" when Susan was first drafting this book last year, and I think I was nearly as excited as she was when it got published!  The book is nonfiction, about Biblical womanhood.  It's totally readable (not written in academese) and enjoyable!  I can honestly say that the material covered within positively impacted my marriage.


March Geraldine Brooks On Becoming Babywise Gary Ezzo Robert Bucknam Mama Tried Emily Flake Blue Shoes and Happiness Good Husband of Zebra Drive In the Company of Cheerful Ladies Miracle at Speedy Motors Alexander McCall Smith Situation Momedy Jenna Von Oy

March by Geraldine Brooks: I'd begun listening to the audiobook of this back in the summer, and the file was corrupted.  Finally got around to getting a hard copy and finishing it.  Not my fave book of the year.

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam:  Fantastic advice from two doctors on how to get your newborn sleeping through the night by 10 weeks.  Definitely going to buy my own copy of this and put it to use!  I'll let you know if it works.  ;)

Mama Tried by Emily Flake:  I haven't read this one yet, but it looks like a good laugh waiting to happen.  An impulsive grab off the shelf while I was visiting a different branch.

Blue Shoes and HappinessThe Good Husband of Zebra DriveIn the Company of Cheerful Ladies, and The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith:  I just can't get enough of this lovely little series!

Situation Momedy by Jenna Von Oy:  The subtitle promises "laughing your way through pregnancy and year one" and the book delivers!  I'm usually a bit wary of celeb memoirs, but this one was fantastic and I recommend it to expectant and new moms.  I literally laughed out loud at bits.  I was sold in the first chapter, when Jenna gave us all permission to enjoy and appreciate the miracle of growing a human life... and also to feel completely miserable/out of sorts/uncomfortable.  You CAN experience both of these things!  Sometimes all at once!

So that's what I brought home; how about you?  Remember to use the link below to join the fun!

[inlinkz_linkup id=607180]

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn is loosely based on the tale of 1001 Nights, but it's also so much more!  True, it opens with the focus on Shahrzad, who is the latest bride of the Caliph of Khorasan.  He has been taking brides and killing them the morning after the wedding for months now.  One of those past brides was Shahrzad's best friend, and her plan is to survive long enough to avenge her.

I felt that The Wrath and the Dawn got off to a bit of a slow start.  There were quite a few characters to introduce, and the story took a predictable route with Shahrzad telling Khalid (the caliph) tales at night to keep him interested, and to keep herself alive.  However, there was also the intrigue, with Shahrzad being quite the revenge-seeking fireball, and with a secondary plot following Shahrzad's male relatives as they plot ways to help her from afar.

Also the setting!  It's not every day that I read a book set in the Middle East.  I loved loved loved reading the descriptions of the clothes and the palace and the social mores!  Even Shahrzad's handmaid is beautifully described in glittering silks and flowing mantles.  I never thought I'd be a fan of a desert setting until I read Renee Ahdieh's descriptions of it.  Maybe it's partly due to the fact that I'm writing this review right after a rare ice/snow storm in my neck of the woods (southeast US), but I so longed to be in the sun and the sand!

After the first somewhat predictable third of the book, the story takes a bit of a turn from the original 1001 Nights.  The action picks up, with multiple attempts on Shahrzad's life... surprisingly, not by Khalid!  Then there is also the development of a love triangle.  Personally, I'm not a huge fan of these, but they do tend to up the intrigue a little.  And the reader gets to pick a "team!"  (I changed "teams" a few times through the course of the book; it's not as clear cut as other books have been.)  On top of all that, there is the secondary plot line with Shahrzad's father, uncle, and second cousin, who are trying to help her avenge her friend's death.

Now, you may be asking yourself why I'm reviewing this book on this site.  Tynga's Reviews is all about fantasy and the paranormal, right?  Guess what?  There's MAGIC in The Wrath and the Dawn!  You must be patient; it doesn't make an appearance right away.  And I won't give any spoilers, but the magic becomes more and more prominent to the storyline, up to a can't-put-down climax!  So that's why The Wrath and the Dawn (and, I imagine, it's sequel) fit on Tynga's Reviews.

I'll wrap up by mentioning the climactic end... it's a doozy!  I read well past my bedtime because it was too exciting for me to put down, or to fall asleep while reading.  Then the book stops.  Bam.  With so much more that I need to know!  I'm so so so glad I read this book after the sequel has been released so that I don't have to wait to find out what happens next.  So just a warning:  you may want to go ahead and get both books from the library at once; you'll be glad you did!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Downfall of the Gods by K. J. Parker

What if you did a really bad thing and wanted absolution from the deity of your choice.  You might go to the local temple of said deity and pray for forgiveness and make offerings.  But, what if that deity suddenly appeared to you and denied you petition in person, how could one possibly react?

That is the opening to the very unique tale in Downfall of the Gods by K. J. Parker.  Lord Archias seeks out forgiveness and redemption of his soul only to be turned down flat by the goddess he was praying to.  Instead, they reach an arrangement that leads to adventure.

From the very beginning of this book I was struck by one thing:  this is a narrative written with little embellishment or physical detail and yet the tale remains compelling.  My first reaction was that it was very much like a more mature version of a Roald Dahl book.  Elements like location, scene or time were given sparingly and only when crucial to the plot.  It was a more plain spoken and direct interpretation of a story that allows the reader to paint their own picture.

Not only were scenery and setting  given in Spartan measure, the characters were likewise not over-done.  We get very little in the way of physical description and only start off with just a bit more about who the characters are in this world.  What we do get is excellent character development of our central characters.  With a narrative that is this short and bereft of window dressing the author seems to have banked on the motivation of the characters.  I have to say, it pays off very well.

Downfall of the Gods  is raw yet entertaining storytelling.  This book proves that, though helpful, a good story does not require dramatic scenery to create drama.  I do have to rate this a PG13 due to some of the language and some mature subject matter discussed in the story.



Roberts Signature

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Awakening by Jayne Faith and Christine Castle

Jayne Faith and Christine Castle hooked me with their first book in this series. I think it's the cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor that makes things really exciting. I'm a big fan of The Hunger Games, but quite honestly, I hate the flakiness of The Bachelor. I think it's the terrifying idea of losing your life if you don't win the competition that makes things way more compelling than the fake TV show. In my experience, self-published books can be pretty hit and miss, but in this case, I really think the authors are on to something.

This book is so much more than a game of survival and a love story between the two main characters. It's also a story about two races coming together, despite their very different cultural views, and fighting for Earthfell's freedom. Maya is from Earthenfell and she is one of the Obligates fighting in the Tournament of the Offered. Toric is the Lord of Calisto and the Sacred Texts say that no Calistan can step foot on Earthenfell until the prophecy says so. The whole idea behind the Sacred Texts and the Calistan religion is a little bit confusing. I hope more is revealed in the upcoming book so that things may be clearer and complete. The authors may be holding back purposely, but either way, I'm sure more is to come.

The attraction between Toric and Maya is really sweet. I really hope we see their relationship grow, despite their differences. Toric's dark past and sexual needs shocked Maya but she's not that innocent anymore. The Tournament has hardened her and she's now ready to fight for her life, even if that means taking advantage of Toric's obvious infatuation with her. The newest challenge in the Tournament will be difficult for Maya, and I honestly didn't see this twist coming. I hate the fact the authors announced what the new challenge will be and ended the book on a cliffhanger. Since the next book might be coming out next month, I'm not too annoyed, but I'll still be waiting impatiently.

The rest of the characters add a lot of antagonism and mystery to the story. Akantha, the Mistress of Tournament, is a ruthless and jealous woman. Engaged to Lord Toric's brother, Jeric, she's jealous of Maya who seems to have enthralled both brothers. She's out to get Maya, and is willing to do whatever it takes for her to fail. Jeric is confused, and doesn't know his place anymore. As Toric's younger brother, he was once named heir when Toric was considered dead after being kidnapped for years. Now that Toric is back, he seems wandering without a path. I kind of feel sorry for him, even though I don't agree with some of the things he's done or said to Maya. Toric's mother is another player in the political game. We don't know much about her, and she hasn't really had a prominent role in the story yet, but I anticipate her having a bigger role in the coming book.

Overall, I think this was a decent sequel. I hate the cliffhanger we were left with, and quite honestly the book could have been a little longer. Many questions were answered, yet many more have arose. The series so many different genres, including romance, young adult, science fiction and paranormal that I'm sure it will please many reader. As a fan of all these genres, I think the authors have created a wonderful mix.

stephsig moon

Friday, February 05, 2016

Stacking The Shelves [196]

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 weekend everyone! I'm just here to share my latest purchases with all of you. Let's get to it.

Feb 6, 2016

the awakening


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

The Awakening by Jayne Faith and Christine Castle (ebook)

Lit Cube

The Forever Watch by David Ramirez

Let me know what you got!

stephsig moon

[inlinkz_linkup id=605828]

Thursday, February 04, 2016

John Dreamer by Elise Celine

John Dreamer had a really interesting and unique concept, but failed a little in it's execution.

The book opens when Andy wakes up to find herself in a vast white room with seven chairs.  She notices that one has her name on it, and the style of the chair fits her personality.  One by one, other teens appear in the room, all of whom have their own chairs (with different styles/personalities).  What are they doing there?  How did they get there?  Are they dreaming?  Or even dead?  And if not, how do they get out?  Eventually a very flamboyant guy called simply The Guardian appears and explains just a tiny bit to them:  they are all here to fulfill their dreams.  Then he disappears again.  What on earth does that mean?!?  And what's next?

First (of course), the good!  As I mentioned, this is a totally new-to-me plot.  It doesn't fit neatly into any of the more common YA genres, like paranormal or dystopian.  I suppose I'd call it "psychological suspense light."  I was definitely hooked from the beginning, wanting to know more, just like the characters.  I tried to guess at what The Guardian meant when he told them that they would all fulfill their dreams, and I couldn't.  Also, Andy was kind of an everywoman.  She wasn't overly smart or overly pretty or overly confident or overly shy.   Even the outfit she is described as wearing is average:  a white top with jean shorts and sneakers.  Almost anyone could identify with her.  The remaining six characters covered the gambit from short & nerdy to chubby & shy to an everyman (male)... something for everyone!

A big appeal of the book was the mystery, so I won't tell you what The Guardian means about fulfilling dreams.  But once that part of the story starts to unfold, it is rather neat to see each character's reaction, and what happens when they have attempted to fulfill their dream.

So now the flip side:  John Dreamer was a pretty short, quick read (only 203 Kindle pages), which didn't leave a lot of room for character development.  I felt like all the characters (even the main character) were very 2D.  And I wanted more!  This story was totally interesting, and I would have happily read a longer book with more character development.  Just as with the characters feeling a little flat due to short length, the action also fell a little flat due to the short length.  Again, I would have happily read a longer book if it meant more detail and development of the dreams!  No one is ever going to like every single character in every book, but I think I would have really liked most of these characters... if I got to know them better.

This is kind of a side note, but I would go see this if someone made it into a movie!  The Guardian is just screaming to be on the silver screen.  (I vote for Christopher Walken for his part.)  With Hollywood borrowing so heavily from the book store lately, I hope someone discovers John Dreamer for next year's YA summer flick.

A quick, slightly flawed, but still entertaining read.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson

Bands of Mourning is the 6th book in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.  During this review I will be revealing some plot points from the first five books and yes, by that I mean spoilers.  So, if you haven't yet started reading this series and intend to, I suggest you come back to this review once you've gotten this far.  After all, this isn't just a book series, it is a real adventure.

In the previous book, Shadow of Self,   Waxillium, Wayne and Marasi learn there's a kandra doing mischief.  Masquerading as various people and doing the one thing kandras aren't allowed to do, killing people.  Fortunately for the trio, there is another kandra sent by Sazed (now known as Harmony).   This one comes in the guise of a lovely woman named Melaan at a party. Melaan lets them know that the kandra they are going up against is named Paalm, a kandra who has lost one of the spikes that gives the kandra their sentience.  At the end of it all, when Wax finds that the kandra who had been causing all the problems was really Lessie, his dead wife. Waxillium had fallen in love with a being that was sent by Harmony  to guide him to a goal. This is just a small bit of what went on.

To me, this was a masterstroke by Sanderson to bring the characters to a pivotal moment.  The interplay and tension among these compatriots in nearly tangible in this installment.  I have to tease right here and say that, one of the casualties of these two books is a hero.  In the end it was a deed that needed to be done and there was another to take the place.  There seems to be almost a theme between Shadow of Self and Bands of Mourning.  An idea of the end of one being the beginning of another.  As proof, we see the end to some notions we had about these characters washed away just to allow them into more complex and real people.

The story itself is what we have come to expect from Brandon Sanderson. It's rich in detail and there is sufficient action and revelation to keep the reader fully engaged.  This one also has an even that I so wanted to happen but, was afraid would never come.

Being released so soon after Shadows of Self was a surprise and the book itself made it a very pleasant one.  There is quite a bit of violence a and some occasional innuendo all of which inches this one into the PG13 area for me.



Roberts Signature



Monday, February 01, 2016

The Siren by Kiera Cass


There seems to be a lot of mixed reviews about this book. Unfortunately, I agree with many reviewers that The Siren isn't really worth the read. I wanted to give it a chance since it was independently published back in 2009 and now recently republished by HarperTeen. I figured that meant it was a good story and worth polishing up to publish it the traditional way. Despite the fact the writing was cleaned up and the cover was given a makeover, I was very disappointed with the book. The mythology behind the Ocean and the existence of sirens was promising, but the main character Kahlen and her story were uninteresting and flat.

Kahlen has only 20 years left in her 100 year sentence as a siren and she has always followed the Ocean's rules. She's counting down the years until she's free from the Ocean demands, despite the fact the Ocean has been her "mother" for years. How she can love the Ocean when she's forced to kill with her song for her will remain a mystery to me. The story behind the mythology is that the Ocean needs to feed off human lives in order to survive. She uses the sirens to lure people to their demise and in return for 100 years of servitude, the sirens are given a new chance at life. I can understand Kahlen's melancholy because I would hate being forced to murder thousands of people to keep the Ocean alive. The idea of sacrificing a few for the many is unethical, especially since the sacrificed are chosen at random.

Kahlen's constant depression is lifted when she meets a boy named Akinli, and since it's against the rules to speak to any human, she tries to ignore him at first. Strong feelings develop between the two and after only a few days, Kahlen is convinced she's in love. Loving a boy is something the Ocean would absolutely disprove of, so she runs away from this "amazing" boy in order to keep him alive. Kahlen falls back into depression and most of the story is spent reading her inner turmoil about how she hates killing people and wished she could live out her normal human life now, instead of waiting another 20 years. The only thing that makes the story bearable is the Ocean and Kahlen's siren sisters. Elizabeth, Miaka, Aisling and Padma each have their own story, and honestly, any of their stories would have been better than Kahlen's. For reasons unknown, we ended up with the story of the most boring siren.

The personification of the Ocean was the only thing I liked about the book (that and the cover, but that doesn't really count). I enjoyed how the sirens try to teach the Ocean how to love and explain Kahlen's pain. The mystery behind the Ocean is constant, which makes it an intriguing character throughout the book.

The majority of the time, I don't mind first point of view books, but in this case, it wasn't the best method to tell Kahlen's story. The end of the book focused on Kahlen's return to human life, but that meant forgetting everything about being a siren. How can the story be written in the first person, when all is forgotten in the end? It just doesn't make sense.

There are so many things wrong with this book, especially the boring main character. The unrealistic love story is another disappointing factor and if the author would have taken more time developing this relationship, I think it might have been a little more genuine. It takes more than a quick dance and cake to fall in love. True fans of Kiera Cass might enjoy The Siren, but for any other reader, I would stay clear of this book. If you're intrigued, head for the library instead of the bookstore.

stephsig moon