Monday, 21 May 2018

Under My Skin - Book Review

Under My Skin (Immortality Strain #1)
by Shawntelle Madison

What is it about:
Everyone wants to either be a member of the Guild or work for them. Little does the populace know that the Guild hides sinister secrets...

For Tate Sullivan, life in her small, coastal town is far from glamorous. The affluent lives of the Guild members and their servants isn't something she has ever wanted. But all sixteen year-olds must take a simple test, and Tate's result thrusts her into the Guild's world, one where they hide horrible plans for those they select. Tate must fight the relentless General Dagon for control of her mind, body, and soul to keep the one precious thing she has always taken for granted: herself.

Her only ally is the same handsome boy she is pitted against in General Dagon’s deadly game. Quinn desires nothing more than to end the life of General Dagon who has taken over Tate's mind. While romance blooms between Tate and Quinn, General Dagon plots to eventually take over Tate's body, and love might end before it even begins.

What did I think of it:
I loved the Coveted series by Madison, so was curious if this book would be just as fun.

Although it turned out this book isn't fun in the way Coveted was, it did turn out to be a cool read.

The future world that Madison created wasn't expanded on much, it even felt a bit old fashioned, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment. I liked Tate and was soon engrossed in the story. There were some story-hooks that I think weren't used to their full potential, but the story I did get was intriguing and suspenseful enough to keep me from grumbling.

Tate's struggle with General Dagon could have been taken a bit further as well in my opinion. At times things felt a bit too easy. Those things aside I had a great time with this book though, and near the end things do get a bit more dire.

The ending is satisfactory while also hinting at much more to come. I fear that there won't be a second book though, seeing how this one was released in 2014, but I can hope.

Why should you read it:
It's a very enjoyable YA red.

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Friday, 18 May 2018

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy - Book Review

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman

What is it about:
Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.

What did I think of it:
This is probably a great book for most people who love the Shadowhunters books, but it didn't work for me.

I went into this read with two wrong assumptions: That this would be stories focused on students in a boarding school, and that I could handle a book full of Simon.

Yes, the Shadowhunter students live at the academy, but that's about where the boarding school experience ends. The academy is a mess and stays a mess. I was wondering why the students would stand for this instead of starting a rebellion. I also wondered how any of the students living in the cellars even survived for more than a week as it was a serious hazard to their health.

Then there was Simon. I didn't much care for him in the Mortal Instruments series and I can't say these stories changed my mind. There was one returning character in these stories I really liked, but we all know what happens to secondary characters who I like, so the less said about that the better.

The stories themselves were nice, but nothing special. I wanted training and boarding school stuff, but most stories used the school as a starting point for teachers and whoever else to tell stories about Shadowhunters and their past successes and failures.

This book won't be a keeper. I will try to read Lady Midnight though, to see if that one gets me back into the world of the Shadowhunters.

Why should you read it:
If you like the Shadowhunter world and Simon this book is for you.

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Thursday, 17 May 2018

On McPig's Wishlist - Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (Rise of the Empress #2)
by Julie C. Dao

This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels.

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn't want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won't soon forget.

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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Flesh - Book Review (repost)

I have been rereading Flesh, so thought I'd repost my review for those who still haven't gotten their hands on it, because it is awesome and everyone should read it, imo.

by Laura Bickle

What is it about:
The dead are easy to talk to. Live people, not so much.

Charlie Sulliven thinks she knows all the secrets of the dead. Raised in a funeral home, she’s the reluctant “Ghoul Girl,” her reputation tied to a disastrous Halloween party. But navigating her life as a high school sophomore is an anxiety-inducing puzzle to her. She haunts the funeral home with her parents, emo older brother, Garth, their pistol-packing Gramma, and the glass-eyeball-devouring dachshund, Lothar.

Chewed human bodies are appearing in her parents’ morgue…and disappearing in the middle of the night. The bodies seem tied to a local legend, Catfish Bob, who has resurfaced in the muddy Milburn river near Charlie’s small town. When one of Charlie’s classmates, Amanda, awakens in the cooler as a flesh-eating ghoul, Charlie must protect her newfound friend and step up to unravel the mystery…and try to avoid becoming lunch meat for the dead.

What did I think of it:
You might know I'm a big fan of Laura Bickle, so you bet I started reading this book as soon as it released.

And this is yet another awesome read!

Charlie is easy to relate to. She just wants to be a normal teen, but living in a funeral home and with a family like hers that isn't easy. I was rooting for her from the start.

The story has a nice build up: you get to know Charlie and her family while there are hints that some weird stuff might be going on, but nothing too obvious until corpses start disappearing...

This story is creepy, suspenseful, and kept me reading until I finished it. There are ghouls, old evils lurking in the shadows, and one of the most awesome grandmothers I've seen in fiction. I also loved the antics of Lothar, the dachshund.

I loved how the story progressed and how the pacing increased as things get more dire. I was intrigued by what was happening and why it was happening. Charlie tries to do things on her own, but luckily she finds people who can help her as things spiral more and more out of control.

As with all good stories I finished it way too soon, but the ending was very satisfying. You bet I got my trotters on a print copy to hug and pet and reread any time I want.

Why should you read it:
Zombies!!! Well... sort of zombies, but still awesome!

Buy from Amazon

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Frankenstein Saga by Merrie Destefano - Alert

Did you know you can get the entire Frankenstein Saga trilogy in paperback already?

Go get this beauty today!

Or you could get all three books separately in print or ebook*:

Shade - Dusk - Dawn

*Shade has already released in ebook, Dusk and Dawn are available for pre-order

Frankenstein meets Dracula in this Gothic retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.

A holiday in Switzerland is supposed to lift Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s spirits. She wants to forget the past and have fun. In fact, everyone in her party is running away from one indiscretion or another—from her fiancé Percy Shelley to Lord Byron to Mary’s stepsister, Claire. But from the moment Mary arrives at Byron’s villa, she knows something is wrong. He rushes her indoors and forbids all of them to go out at night, claiming that the horrible weather has driven wild animals down from the mountains.

The only person who doesn’t seem to be running away from anything is a handsome, young Italian doctor, John Polidori. Instead, he is fervently pursuing local folk legends and a new scientific theory that claims people can be raised from the dead.

But it’s not until they all challenge one other to write ghost stories that the real danger begins. In a nightmare, Mary envisions a patchwork man animated by Galvanism and she begins writing Frankenstein. Likewise, fueled by local legends, John writes The Vampyre—one of the first vampire stories ever written.

What neither one of them knows is that they are conjuring a dark evil. Before long, all of their lives will be in danger—for neither of these characters are imaginary. Far from it.


Monday, 14 May 2018

The Undomestic Goddess - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

The Undomestic Goddess
by Sophie Kinsella

What is it about:
Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership.

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does...will she want it back?

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
This is a nice read.

I will confess it all went a bit too easily for Samantha in my opinion. She manages to keep her worst mistakes hidden from her employers (who are completely clueless btw...), hunky gardener immediately falls for her and helps her, she can cook like a chef after one day of lessons, etc...

I also did not like the implication that housekeepers usually are stupid foreigners, and can't speak English.

That aside this was an enjoyable read. Even without any real obstacles I liked reading how Samantha settled into her new life. Then she gets the opportunity to get back her old life. No surprises there either, even though I had hoped for a bit more nuance.

This won't be a keeper, but still a nice read if you're in the mood for something uncomplicated.

Why should you read it:
It's an easy and enjoyable read.

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Friday, 11 May 2018

Beyond a Darkened Shore - Book Review

Beyond a Darkened Shore
by Jessica Leake

What is it about:
The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.

The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world.

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.

What did I think of it:
This is a really cool read.

Ciara might be the daughter of a king, but her powers make her an outcast. Even so she is loyal to her people and wants to protect them from the danger she sees coming. I loved her strength and her unwavering loyalty. That loyalty goes so far she is willing to join forces with the enemy if it means her people are safe.

Leif had to grow on me. He starts out a bit too 'manly man knows better than weak little woman'. Luckily Ciara keeps putting him in his place and he learns. I liked how they aren't immediately friends, but are unwilling allies until they get to know each other better. I had wanted a more intense conclusion to the building tension between them, but that was not to be.

Knowing a bit about both Celtic and Norse mythology I enjoyed how Leake used them. This story isn't set in a Fantasy world (where I don't mind if an author totally sets own rules), but in a historical setting, so I love that the mythology wasn't butchered. On their quest to save the world Ciara and Leif encounter creatures from both mythologies, and there wasn't a dull moment. The sense of urgency and danger is ever present.

There is lots of action, heartache, betrayal, and difficult decisions. I had a hard time putting the book down. This is a standalone, so it has a satisfying ending with no cliffhangers. I did feel that one small storyline was left hanging, but it wasn't annoying. All in all a great read.

You bet I'll keep an eye on Leake's future releases.

Why should you read it:
It's a great Historical Fantasy YA read.

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