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.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Don't Drink the Water

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis

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

Summary: There are worse things than death, worse people too.

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

Review: An enjoyable retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth with an interesting mythology although it suffers from a predictable love story.

I love mythology and stories with mythology in them. Since no one believes in the Greek gods anymore, it's always interesting to see how an author portrays them and explains their continued existence in a modern world. I liked how Bevis explained how some of the gods still existed (although it seemed a bit too convenient). I also liked how gods obtain their powers. I liked that this book was a retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth although it still began with a kidnapping.

I was really enjoying this book until I figured that Hades and Persephone were going to fall for each other even though he's immortal and she's only 16. I get that she's a god, but why would Hades have any interest in her? He's also super attractive. I would have preferred him to be scarred in some way and have Persephone fall for who he is under the skin, not his looks. I also wish the Underworld was more like the Underworld instead of a modern playground for the dead. I did really like the twist at the end.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult mythology books.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Lightbringer

The Whispers of the Fallen by J.D. Netto

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. Review based an old edition of the book.

Summary: Ever since the dawn of days, rumors about the Diary of Lucifer echoed throughout Elysium. Hidden from all human knowledge, the Diary was kept a secret, locked away in the small village of Agalmath.

Isaac and Demetre find themselves in a dangerous journey as they uncover the truth about the Diary and those who guarded it for all these years. However, for Isaac and Demetre, danger lies at every step, hidden in the most unexpected places.

Hunted by the Nephilins and the Fallen Stars, they must find others who will join them in the battle against the coming darkness.

Review: A decent read with an interesting fantasy setting with biblical mythology that suffered from flat characters and telling, not showing.

I always enjoy Christian and biblical mythology in a fantasy type setting. Most of what I've read has been in a modern setting on earth so it was nice to read about a different world that still had a Christian mythology. I also liked the addition of the Diary of Lucifer and descendants of the Council being able to open it. It was interesting that Lucifer was still called Lucifer even after he feel since Lucifer means Light Bringer and he lost his light after rebelling.

I enjoyed the story decently well. I did like Isaac and sympathized with his plight along with the Nephilims who kept trying to fight against their nature. Most of the other characters feel flat, especially Nephle. Yes, she was powerful, but she felt like a child. I did enjoy that half of the book was told from her eyes. I must admit to being torn on which side to root for. The book also suffered from telling, not showing, especially when it came to the dialogue. I can tell when someone is upset or annoyed. I don't constantly need descriptive words.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to that enjoy fantasy with Christian and biblical mythology.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Water Greater Than Gold

Secrets (Clockwork Skies, #1) by J. Cunningham

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

Summary: Gelton isn't the revolutionary type. If you asked him, it would bethe last thing he would ever use to describe himself - if you could
get the gefling to answer at all. When he gets entangled in events
larger than his own story, he finds that he's got more than a few
things to learn about himself.

Part speculative history, part fantasy, and definitively steampunk,
Secrets is the first novel in the Clockwork Skies series. Action
packed and full of political intrigue, romance, and richly detailed
fantasy settings, Secrets will entice you from the first page and keep
you guessing until the last.

Review: An enjoyable tale of intrigue, murder, and mayhem set in an alternate steampunk world.

I haven’t read steampunk in a while and after reading Secrets, I am hankering for more. Steampunk is such a fun genre with so many possibilities plus I love the clothes. A quick check on Goodreads reveals that there are many new steampunk releases and I already found some books I want to read. I’m sure I would have gotten back to steampunk eventually as there are steampunk series that I want to read, but I’m not sure how soon I would have gotten there without Secrets.

I love the world that was developed. It focused on far reaching issues and other peoples, colonies, and countries and not just England. I loved the setting, especially poisonous and dangerous water (I’m assuming something like acid rain or possibly a microbe). The different races felt a bit fantasyish to me, but still worked within the context of the book. I liked the characters, especially Gelton and Mia. And considering the few steampunk romances I’ve read and the ones that have been coming out, it was nice to have a romance that was sincere and believable and one that I really liked.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy steampunk.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Fall

The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians by Peter Heather

Summary: A leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe's barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overtuned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome's European frontiers to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378 and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain befor conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the western empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandals' defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada, the west's last change for survival.

Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians.

Review: An enjoyable thesis that argues that barbarians were responsible for the collapse of the Roman Empire.

I want to study medieval literature and I know how much has been lost over hundreds of years. I can't imagine how much has been lost over thousands of years. The Roman Empire must been hard to study and draw conclusions from. There is so much lost information and so many conflicting accounts. I can see how easy it would be to draw your own conclusions. While I have been wanting to read Gibbon for a while, I did not know that he believed that Christianity was the reason that the Roman Empire fell.

Heather believes it is the barbarians that caused Rome to fall. He goes very in depth and provides as much information as possible to support his thesis. As one reviewer mentioned, Heather focuses on the barbarians almost solely as the reason Rome fell. While I need to learn more about Rome and the possible reasons for its fall, the fall must be due to more than just the barbarians alone. I learned a good deal of information about Rome, the empire, and what plagued it. I will try to read more history and scholarship on the topic.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in Roman history.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Share and Share Alike

Taming Taylor (Romps & Rakehells #3) by Madelynne Ellis

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

Summary: Consummate rakehell, Taylor Hulme has two passions in life, extravagant clothes and buxom women, in that order. Never without a spare coat, Taylor, always keeps at least two lovers, just in case the first cannot satisfy his needs. Naturally, he takes utmost care to ensure his lovers never meet.

When Amelia Percival and Verity Quinn discover they’re both being wooed by the same man, they join forces in order to tame Taylor’s rakish behaviour. Holding him captive in his bedchamber, they subject him to a night of erotic torture. Come dawn, Taylor’s sworn to change his errant ways, but he isn’t the only one who has learnt an important lesson about relationships. When passion burns with such intensity, sharing isn’t always such a bad thing.

Review: A short, but very sexy read about one man whose two mistresses find out about the other.

I've read the first in the series (but not the second) and I enjoyed it. They are quick erotica reads. Although the historical setting doesn't play too big of a part in the stories, I still enjoy the setting (I'm a sucker for historical romance). As a warning, this is a m/f/f story so some might not enjoy it. I loved the premise and how Taylor gets his just desserts. The story ends on a happy note with everyone extremely satisfied.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy m/f/f erotica.

Friday, November 1, 2013

They Fall and Get Back Up Again

Life, Death and Iguanas by Marc Newhouse

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

Summary: Life, Death and Iguanas is the story of the life and death of a strong woman who chose to fast until her end rather than endure a living death of Alzheimer’s in a nursing home. It’s also the story of her three sons, struggling to help her, warring against each other, and finally uniting. Lastly, it’s the author’s story of depression and loss, with a bittersweet regeneration and growth at the end. Balancing life with grief, laughter with tears, this book suggests a better way to die—and to live.

Review: A very touching tale of one woman’s desire to go out on her own terms and how that affected her family and friends.

Although they only play a small part in the book, I loved the iguanas throughout the book. I am a fan of reptiles including lizards and snakes and I enjoyed that they were in the book. They added to my enjoyment of a touching and poignant tale. The story Newhouse tells in incredible. Her mother, father, family, and friends come to life through his descriptions. I had never thought much of Wisconsin until now. It seems like an amazing place to visit and even live.

I can’t imagine what Newhouse and his family went through after learning about their mother’s decision. Technically, what Frances did could be considered suicide, but I don’t view it that way. I see it as a woman who decided to go out on her own terms and that takes a lot of courage. But perhaps the people who needed the most courage were the ones left behind. It can be so difficult to be the one left behind. There is plenty of family tension and fighting and Newhouse’s own ongoing struggles with depression.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to people who are looking for a touching and poignant tale about death and dying.