Sunday, March 9, 2014

Blog Will No Longer Be Updated

As readers and followers may have noticed, this blog has not been updated since December. This is because I am not longer doing book reviews. I have decided to keep this blog up so authors could link back to reviews I have done previously.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's In the Cards

A Sealed Fate by Lisa Gordon

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Upbeat and contemporary in style, this riveting narrative features an eclectic mix of characters awash with local color. To escape the pain of failed relationships and careers, both Valda and Larissa take themselves to the exotic locale of Dubai, seeking not only success but a general purpose in life. Valda does indeed find fulfillment--and, to her astonishment, love--but all is threatened when she is introduced to a billionaire Sheikh. Her clandestine relationship with the Sheikh propels her into a murky web of deceit, and she turns to her friend for help. As an astrologer, Larissa predicts that Valda and the Sheikh's destinies were decided from the moment of their first meeting, but she keeps the dire outcome foretold in the charts a secret. Together, the two women soon find themselves gambling in a game of cosmic Russian roulette where the stakes are their lives and their adversary is fate itself. Bravely merging genres and sensitively embracing personal relationships, this spiritual and gritty thriller illustrates the complex theme of choice versus chance.

Review: A tale of destiny, fate, and the decisions we make.

This book bills itself as an example of fate versus choice. Personally, I do not believe in fate or destiny. I believe in chance and coincidence. I believe in making one’s own future. So I was interested to see how fate and destiny would be dealt with in this book. I can certainly see the consequence of choice when Valda decides to move to Dubai, gets a music gig, and then gets involved with the Sheikh. I honestly don’t understand why she got involved with him for she had to have known that once she started, she couldn’t stop.

A lot of this book focuses on Valda growing as a person and getting over her past, which was nice to see. Unfortunately, it takes up a lot of the book and detracts from the thriller aspect of the book. The tone of the book changes when Valda and Larissa become friends. Horoscopes come into play and they are used to help decipher Valda’s fate. I didn’t like this since it made it seem like free will didn’t matter. The ending was rather abrupt, unexpected, and downright sad. It does tie into the theme of fate and destiny.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for a thriller with a fortune telling aspect.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Poignant, Political, and Powerful

The Empire of Things by C. J. Stone

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Politics, paganism and .... Vlad the Impaler. Selected stories from CJ Stone from 2003 to the present. Meet Ivor Coles, a British Tommy killed in action in September 1915, lost, and then found again. Visit Mothers Club in Erdington, the best psychedelic music club in the UK in the '60s. Celebrate Robin Hood's Day and find out what a huckle duckle is. Travel to Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice and carouse with the hippies. Find out what a Ranter is, and why CJ Stone thinks that he's one. Take LSD with Dr Lilly, the psychedelic scientist. Meet a headless soldier or the ghost of Elvis Presley in Gabalfa, Cardiff. Journey to Whitstable, to New York, to Malta and to Transylvania, and to many other places, real and imagined, political and spiritual, transcendent and mundane. As The Independent says, this is "The best guide to the underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx."

Review: A collection of stories and articles ranging from legalizing of marijuana, Stonehenge, hippies, and the state of the British government.

With books that contain only a few stories, I can remember details easily enough. With books with more stories, it’s become harder for me to remember individual stories. So in short, I should have taken notes and I do apologize for that as I will only mention a few stories. I did enjoy this collection and I feel it contains enough of a variety that a reader should find something to enjoy.

The story I found most poignant was Requiem for a Dreamer. It really does show how alcohol can destroy a life. It’s easy enough to say it was a preventable tragedy, but reality is much harder to fix with words.

I enjoyed the article about Drug Problems or Drug Solutions? It’s a very polarizing topic and easily has people up in arms. I really liked the thoughtful and logical way the author approached the situation.

I also enjoyed the section about Stonehenge. It’s a fascinating place with so much unknown, including how it was built, why it was built, and what is was used for. Stonehenge can represent different things to different people.

My least favorite section was on the state of the British government. Perhaps that is because I am American and now too terribly familiar with British history in the 20th century. The author has very strong views towards Margaret Thatcher which might upset a few people.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy nonfiction stories about politics, drugs, and other current issues.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Power of the Creator

The Path of the Fallen (The Fallen Chronicles) by Dan O'Brien

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: The world is broken. The coming of the Intelligence pushed the remnants of humanity deep into the tundra. What remained was a vast sea of ice and the machine city, Culouth. E’Malkai Armen, descendent of the Fallen, has been a citizen of Culouth his entire life. A bitter betrayal, and the inception of a war that will destroy millions of lives, forces E’Malkai to confront the past and undertake a pilgrimage that is his by birthright. As he travels to the cold tundra of the north, the realm prepares for war. The Path of the Fallen is a lonely and arduous path, but it must be walked for the sake of all mankind.

Review: An interesting and different fantasy story intertwined with science fiction elements that suffers from being too long.

The Path of the Fallen is an interesting mix of fantasy and science fiction elements. Most of it is heavily fantasy, but a few science fiction elements creep in and add another layer to the story. I am curious as to what other planets are like. This book throws you into the world and I didn't get much of a good feel for the world. My enjoyment also suffered from the book being too long. There were long stretches were not much happened and the big action of the book didn't happen until the last 50 pages.

I'm always a little ambivalent about prophecies, but the prophecies in this book made sense and fit in with the large mythology of the world. I liked all the unique places that E'Malkai traveled to. Since it's almost winter, it was very apt the role that winter and the cold played in the story. I liked E'Malkai. Sure, he was the subject of a prophecy and that he would obtain immense power, but he was very human. He often doubted himself and didn't want the power he obtained.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who don't mind slower moving fantasy stories with a dash of science fiction.

Friday, November 22, 2013

To Thrive

Gifts of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: In 1950s Australia, during the height of the divisive White Australia Policy, Virginia, a young Aboriginal girl is taken from her home and put to work on an isolated and harsh outback station. Her only solace: the violin, taught to her secretly by the kind-hearted wife of the abusive station owner. However, Virginia's prodigious musical gift cannot save her from years of hardship and racism.

Decades later, her eight year old granddaughter Ruby plays the violin with the passion Virginia once possessed. Amidst poverty, domestic violence and social dysfunction, Ruby escapes her circumstance through her practice with her grandmother's frail, guiding hand. Ruby’s zeal attracts the attention of an enigmatic music professor and with his help, she embarks on an incredible journey of musical discovery that will culminate in a rare opportunity. But with two cultural worlds colliding, her gift and her ambition will be threatened by deeply ingrained distrust, family jealousies and tragic secrets that will define her very identity.

Review: A very touching and moving tale of a young girl who is able to leave an abusive past behind and truly make something of herself.

Australia seems like a world away to me (and I do believe it’s half a world away). As a white American, I have never experienced the type of racism that Ruby and her family go through. I was also unaware that there was such ill treatment of Aborigines in the 20th century in Australia although it should come as no surprise. I do share a similar childhood background as Ruby does so I can sympathize with her plight.

I do feel that even if a reader has nothing in common with Ruby and her family, they will still feel a variety of emotions including sympathy, despair, hope, and joy. Ruby is incredibly talented although life seems to be conspiring to work against her. It really did seem like Ruby would be stuck in that depressing situation forever. Luckily, after a series of events Ruby was able to pull the pieces back together and finally pursue her dreams. My one qualm is that there was too many coincidences and too many happy accidents, which made the happy ending seem a bit forced.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy stories of people triumphing over adversity or fiction set in Australia.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Want to Suck Your Blood

Denial - The Varcolac Journals by Adele Carrington

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: "After careful consideration and contemplation involving far too much alcohol I am resigned to the fact that I hate my life. I am a single thirty-one year old woman, living alone in my two bed terrace on the outskirts of Leeds. I have no job and three failed relationships, the last ending when the bastard bit me, seriously, this guy drew blood." Faith Thomlinson's life isn't living up to expectations, her dull monotonous life had been interrupted by the wealthy enigmatic Jonathan. It's a shame that he isn't all he seems, or is that he is more than he seems? Jonathan holds a bloody secret that will endanger Faith's life and challenge everything she thinks she knows. Adele Carrington is the new name in Urban Fantasy. A truly British book that takes you on page turning journey of Denial.

Review: An enjoyable tale of vampires with plenty of sex and violence and an unusual mythology.

This was the story of a relatively normal and possibly boring thirty something woman whose life gets a lot more interesting thanks to vampires. I might have very well found Faith’s story boring if it was just the diary of a thirty something woman (sounds like chick lit to me which I don’t like). This book was told in a diary format. I am somewhat ambivalent about stories told using diary entries because there is usually so much detail told in a diary and I find it hard to believe that someone could remember all that occurred.

There is plenty of blood, violence, and sex in the story. At times, the sex and Faith’s conquests get boring, but they do play a part in the story. While I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Faith, she could be strong and do what was necessary. My favorite part of the book was the mythology. While doing research on the varcolac (I'm a librarian. I like to do research), I learned about moroi and strogoi which are in the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, which I enjoy.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are looking for an unusual vampire read.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Time Continuum

Black Earth: The Broken Daisy (Black Earth, #2) by David N. Alderman

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: The stars have fallen, and the world is tilting into darkness…

“From dust you came, to ash you go.” – These terrifying words are found spray-painted on an office wall in Tucson. It is a message left by Legion, an otherworldly entity that traveled to Earth in the fallen stars. Now Legion is enveloping the world in darkness, disintegrating almost everything in its path, leaving nothing to stand in its way of the planet’s destruction.

Nathan Pierce is on the run for forging the president’s mandatory barcode tattoo. With a bounty on his head, Nathan finds an unexpected ally in Cynthia Ruin, who agrees to help him save his sister, Daisy, from being executed for treason. But Cynthia’s mother, Theresa, is the one who betrayed Nathan and Daisy. Surrounded by suspicion and doubt, Nathan struggles to stay one step ahead of the world that’s against him, and keep tabs on Cynthia, who may or may not end up selling him out in the end.

In the midst of the darkness, those still alive are forced to fight against Legion’s malevolence or lose their humanity beneath it.

Review: A decent continuation of the first book although one that goes on for a bit too long and leaves the reader with too many questions.

This book continues the first novel. It's been a while since I've read it, but it all came back quickly enough. I hadn't realize how little time had actually passed since the stars fell. Not much time passed in the second book either although Alderman tried to squeeze as much as possible in the book. This book is also a mix of science fiction and fantasy which works pretty well although it's slowly going to fantasy.

While this book was action packed and there were plenty of times where I had an emotional reaction to events, I felt there was too much in this book, especially for how much time has actually passed. God and Legion (the devil perhaps?) take an even bigger part in this book. There are also plenty of supernatural creatures and alien beings showing up. There are also so many questions. I understand that not everything can be answered, but I would have liked some answers at least. I do like that the action is finally coming to a head and hopefully some exciting things will happen in book three.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book and the series for those who like science fiction and fantasy with a touch of the supernatural and mythology.