26 August 2011

Review: Stay

Stay (Callie Rose #1)Stay by C.C. Jackson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Why is there a butterfly on the cover of a book about fairies?

From Goodreads
Callie is shocked when she is ripped from her home in the middle of the night. She is taken to a city that she never knew existed only to find that she has a strange connection to her sexy captor. To top it all off, he tries to convince her that she is not even human. She learns that she is actually a fairy. Not just any fairy, but a fairy who has been destined to become queen of the fairies. The only problem is that the current queen is a cruel tyrant and Callie will have to fight for the title that she was meant for. She is not completely convinced that this is a life that she wants to live. She would love nothing more than to go back to being the normal human girl that she always thought that she was. When tragedy strikes, Callie finds that she no longer knows who she can trust. She must learn to survive on her own in a harsh underground world. She finds herself dealing with the struggles of life and love for the first time. Two gorgeous guys, a bunch of new friends, and a whole new world. Will it be more than she can bear?

There's a few things that are a little odd, with Stay. The main issue for me was the writing style, as well as the characters reactions to both each other and the situations. First, the writing is far too formal, and at times it was as if I am reading a very serious textbook - if this is Callie's voice, she does not speak as a teen or young adult would. Other times, sentences end abruptly and the tense changes. It's just awkward.

Additionally, Callie, along with the other characters, are... weird. They act erratically and hold no appeal. I just could not care about them. There are many sentences phrased awkwardly, or do not fit with the writing style.

The thing is... I really dislike weak main characters. Characters that need to follow someone, or can't do anything without the one they "love". Callie is one of these characters.. and once this becomes apparent in a novel or series, for me, it's really a point of no return. The novel cannot be redeemed.

Still, if you want a quick read and have $0.99 to spare for an e-book, you may still find it to be worth it. There are people who enjoy Stay, obviously. I am just not one of 'em.

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25 August 2011

Review: Blackveil

Blackveil (Green Rider)Blackveil by Kristen Britain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders. But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium.

Britain's Green Rider series has been one of my favourites since reading the first book many, many years ago. Green Rider is definitely the best in the series, followed closely by First Rider's Call, the second book. I found the third, The High King's Tomb, to be somewhat less impressive than the first two but was still a book I felt was worthy of the series. The fourth book, however... let's just say this one has some problems.

There are quite a number of things that were issues for me, and perhaps some are just a little nit-picky.

1. Pacing.
The length of this book was not so much an issue, but I must ask... Was it really necessary to have so many pages for how little that occurred in the book? The first couple hundred pages consisted of... very little story progression. It was slow! Additionally, there is a lot of back-story, and reference to previous books, all throughout the novel. Sometimes it works, and is welcomed, but it came across awkwardly and was not always necessary. Another issue came from the point-of-views at the beginning of the book, which leads into my next point.

2. Where is Karigan?
The first couple books in the series focused more on Karigan than any other character, and that changed more notably in the third. I found it a little awkward at first, but it is understandable to add more POV's as a story expands. However, with Blackveil, it seemed as if Karigan was being shoved into the background. The book starts off following Grandmother, and then switched to Stevic G'ladheon, Karigan's father. (And Stevic is boring!) I did not understand why he was chosen as a character to follow, even briefly.

3. What's my Genre?
When did this turn into a Romance? And why are there pirates? Seriously?
Yes, there has been always been someone Karigan is interested in, but it's never been enough to really qualify the novel as a Romance, to me. The second issue I have with this is that the main character (is she, still?) is not even a part of the romance(s) that occur in the novel. She's stuck away in Blackveil.

4. Blackveil
Blackveil, we are told, is a creepy, dark, and dangerous place. Bad Things happen in Blackveil. We are told this, and as I read this novel I really did not get the impression was all that bad. Sure, some people went crazy, and some people died, but that happened similarly outside Blackveil, as well. Turns out the water is still drinkable, most of the group survived, and Karigan Saved the Day (again.) Mostly. Given what was eluded to in previous novels, I expected a little more out of the "other side of the Wall."

5. (contains spoiler. highlight to view.) Drugs and Rape are Okay!
So... there's a conspiracy that occurs after an assassination attempt on King Zachary. He is poisoned and lying in his could-be death bed, and his advisers are conspiring to move up Zachary's and Estora's wedding - obviously without the king's consent. It turns out this was not enough, so Britain includes that the wedding must be consummated, with an audience, to ensure heirs. Zachary (who is poisoned and dying and until this point, mostly comatose!) and Estora are drugged and eventually, well, work on marking heirs. How is having sex with a sick, poisoned, and feverish man who can hardly speak for himself be 1: possible and 2: okay? The whole scene was quite surprising, and somewhat disturbing in the implications. Even after all of this, it was presented in a very insensitive and tactless way, as well.

6. Cliffhanger'd
Returning to the pacing issue, the book felt short plot-wise. There were a lot of pages, and because very little happened, Blackveil felt like a story half-told. By the time the ending came around things were finally getting interesting and.. that's it. It is almost as if the majority of this book was set-up for the next - it was really missing that extra bit (of something) the previous ones had. And now we won't get to know what happens for another 2-3 years, if we're lucky. Alas, that's something for another day.

I do want to mention that, despite some odd phrasing and spelling errors, Blackveil is generally well written - something that has been improving steadily throughout the series. Overall, I enjoyed most of the book, despite the areas that were severely lacking. Given the amount of time between books getting published, I suppose I have expected more out of this book. Still, I will be picking up the next in the series, and not-so-secretly hoping some of these issues are addressed.

But, no.. really, what is with the pirates?

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20 August 2011

Review: The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, #1)The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A review of less than 1007 words could not describe the Magnitude of Awesome that is The Way of Kings. Clearly, I have failed in this.

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19 August 2011

Review: Hush Money

Hush Money (Talent Chronicles #1)Hush Money, Talent Chronicles #1 by Susan Bischoff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads:
Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Kids with psychic abilities tend to mysteriously disappear when they get noticed. Joss has spent years trying to hide. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss, who is best friends with her long-time crush, who is actually talking to her. Life just got more complicated.

I picked up this book due to the cover. (Hey - I admit it!) And it was available as an e-book for $1.00. Win-win, I thought. It seemed interesting enough, previewing the first few pages, and for only $1.00 I couldn't really go wrong - I have spent as much on far worse.

My initial reaction was that it seemed... interesting. The writing style was easy to follow, and did not come across as awkward like some other YA books I have read. It took some getting used to the alternating between two protagonists, and there were a few times when, despite the names being listed, I got confused about which character was the focus for certain sections. The issue seems to come from the two characters not being different enough in their way of thinking.

Once the story itself is set up, the title of the book becomes obvious. The idea of Talents (the term for various powers) works thus far, as well.  I am interested in seeing how far it's taken in the following book(s). The characters, main and supporting, seem strong and realistic. Their actions, while not always agreeable, make sense for their situations.

I found Hush Money to be a quick and enjoyable read, and things really do pick up in the end. The real disappointment for me was how short the book was, and how swiftly it all got wrapped up. Still, this was money very well spent. I will be awaiting the sequel.

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18 August 2011

Review: Switched

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1)Switched by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There were a few things that bothered me about Switched from the outset, but it was hard to really pin-point just what it was at first. As I continued with the book I realized it was  the main character, Wendy, that seemed a little unrealistic. I found myself asking questions about her character, and I could not help but feel she was, well.. not very smart.

She lets a young man into her room, even though she doesn't want him there, and repeatedly does things she considers are a bad idea. At first she is concerned about her family, but once she leaves she seems to forget them all entirely. Wendy's decisions seem to be used to push the story along, and didn't always make sense. I just didn't understand why she was doing these things, and her role in the story seemed very passive. True, she is supposed to be young, but she lacks basic common sense... and any real drive to do anything for herself.

With the novel itself, I found myself counting how many times Wendy used the word 'foxy' to describe a male in her vicinity. Foxy really doesn't tell me much, and it is a little much to have it used repeatedly. There are other words, better words, that can be used to express the same thing.

Regardless, I finished the book. I just don't like it enough to continue with the series.

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17 August 2011

Review: Nightschool, Volume 4

Nightschool: The Weirn Books, Vol. 4Nightschool: The Weirn Books, Vol. 4 by Svetlana Chmakova

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't like cliff-hangers like this, at all. It's one thing to leave suspense, things left unfinished.. but.. not done this way. This volume felt almost rushed through the second half, like there were so many ideas and plot points that needed to be combined into only a specific amount of pages. Why not make it one extra volume? If it means keeping the book at a proper pace, fleshing out the villains, adding more depth, and helping us (readers) understand their motivations... why not?

Sure, it's not all that complicated to begin with, but the series arc deserves better than a rushed ending like this. Even the ending itself, which I will not spoil, felt almost like it was an after-thought, or a cop-out. It was quite disappointing ending compared to those of the previous volumes.

Still, I will give this book 4 stars. I really did enjoy it, overall, despite the issues I had with the story. Svetlana Chmakova is one of my favourite artists, and her work really does make her novels shine. I will be picking up the next volumes in the series, once it starts up again. I only hope the series strays away from cliches like that one from here-on-out.

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Review: Dark Descendant

Dark Descendant (Descendants, #1)Dark Descendant by Jenna Black

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dark Descendant is a quick read. Jenna Black has a way of writing that is very fast-paced, and I managed to finish the book in just a few hours.

While the quick pace keeps the story moving forward, it doesn't leave much time for character development, or much elaboration in other areas. Aside from mention, not much else is given about the Gods, or their descendants. Even with the main villains, Konstantin and Alexis, the reader is left wondering much about these characters. Even by the end of the novel, I am still left with a large number of questions about the world.

Another issue I found was with the main character, Nikki Glass. The story is told in 1st person, and she is our narrator. This works out fairly well, as it allows the reader get a feel for who Nikki is and how she thinks. However, it seemed that we were often told who she was, rather than really shown. "I'm a bleeding heart" was one very common line, as well as a few others I cannot recall off-hand. Sure, she may be strong, good at her job (Private Investigator), but we are told this repeatedly and often, by Nikki.

While there are some issues with the novel I find a bit awkward or off-putting, it was certainly not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. After only a few pages I was hooked, and had to read the book to its end before anything else. I will likely pick up the second book in the series, as well, which should be out early 2012.

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16 August 2011

Review: Cat Paradise

Cat Paradise: v. 5Cat Paradise: v. 5 by Yuji Iwahara

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cat Paradise is, obviously, about cats. Cats are everywhere. Cats are talking. It's a cat-thing.

The artwork is perfect for the series, and Yuji Iwahara really has a good sense of showing emotion through posture and facial expressions. While the art is the highlight, the story does falter somewhat throughout the series. There is a severe lack in the overall direction of the story, and I really had no idea where it was going until the very end.

It seems like the series is searching for a place to go, and the final two volumes in the series are rushing to pull the strings together and wrap things up. While full of action and adventure, it still feels like somethings are lost - left behind.

There was not enough depth to the characters, despite lightly delving into the past of some. I get the sense that this series could have taken things a little slower, plot-wise, and worked more on character development just a little bit more. Even some the villains were running out of time, getting themselves jammed into a few pages in the final volumes.

Overall, it is an interesting story. I found the interaction between cats and human characters to be cute, and even amusing at times. The artwork is what really holds it all together, however, and though I may not read the series again in its entirety, I would recommend it to cat-owners, lovers, or appreciators. It has the charm many will enjoy and, perhaps, even a younger me might've enjoyed it just a little bit more.

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15 August 2011

Review: Elantris

ElantrisElantris by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Elantris is a bit of a mix, for me. I like some aspects of the novel, but others seemed to drag on, and on, and on... It took me far longer to read this novel than it should.

First of all, I should mention the world is amazing - it's extensive, it feels real, and the magic is explained in a way that is both interesting and makes sense. There are a lot of different magical terms, country names, and religions in the book, but not once did I get lost or confused about what-was-what or who-was-who. It was gradually explained and by the time things started happening, I was all set.

And things did happen. Quickly at first, keeping my interest, and then the plot stumbles into Boring-Town. And it's a long, slow, trip through Boring-Town. Here, it all starts getting repetitive. It goes in circles between the three main characters' point-of-view's for much of the middle of the novel, all trying to decide what to do next and how to counter their opponents moves. Things really only start moving forward again (at a reasonable pace) in the last 100-or-so pages.

The last portion of the novel is where the fun really starts, and it's a shame it is so short compared to the rest. The end is put together fairly well, leaving some things open just in case. All said, it is a solid fantasy novel. It's not amazing, but it is worth reading at least once.

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Review: ing the Ghosts of Ascalon

Ghosts of Ascalon (Guild Wars, #1)Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ghosts of Ascalon is first of the books intended to bridge the gap between the online RPG, Guild Wars, and its successor, Guild Wars II. The book introduces a new race, the Sylvari, and takes us into a changing land of dragons, war, and a quest for treasure.

It should be said that I do play and enjoy Guild Wars. I bought this book because the in-game lore is of interest to me, and because I plan on playing Guild Wars II.

I would say the story was 'okay' - it's not spectacular or amazing, but it isn't terrible, either. The story is interesting, despite being predictable, and the characters are likeable. The thing is, you have to take this book for what it is. It is based off an RPG, it meant to connect the two games together, and doesn't go too in-depth on much of anything.

In the end, I did enjoy the book overall. It's just missing that extra little bit.

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Review: Silver

Silver: My Own Tale As Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of MurderSilver: My Own Tale As Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder by Edward Chupack

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I like pirates. I like pirate stories.
Silver is my exception.

This book had an interesting narrative, told in the voice of Long John Silver. That was about all I found interesting. The story-telling lacks greatly, and coupled with Silver's way-of-speech it just becomes confusing. What could be said in a couple sentences takes pages to express. And there was a goodly amount of speech circles to tread around, as well.

When I find myself reading the same paragraph over and over and I am only 3 chapters into a book I have been trying to read for weeks... I know it's time to call it quits.

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7 August 2011

Review: A Spell for Chameleon

A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth, #1)A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read various Xanth novels throughout my life, and never in any sort of order. That's how it works, checking out books from the libraries (as we all know) - you take what you can get, when it shows up.

In the last few years, I have searched used book stores, online and not, and finally collected the entire series, up to Jumper Cable. That, in itself, was an adventure.

For "A Spell for Chameleon" it is very much how I remember it, and it is definitely the puns the keep me interested. It's just fun. That said, one can see the book is a bit dated now. The way females are portrayed, for one, can be somewhat off-putting. I think anyone will be able to enjoy a book like this, if they allow themselves to.

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2 August 2011

Review: Falconfar Needs to Stay Far, Far Away

Dark Lord (Falconfar Saga, #1)Dark Lord by Ed Greenwood

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Quite Terrible. I disliked the style and cliche overload front the start, but tried to give the book the "Benefit of the Doubt" by reading a few more chapters. "It has to get better" I thought.

I cannot even bring myself to donate this to a library. I would, however, recommend it to My Wost Enemies. You know who you are.

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Review: Machine of Death

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories about People Who Know How They Will DieMachine of Death: A Collection of Stories about People Who Know How They Will Die by Ryan North

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not sure what I was expecting, when I pulled this book off the shelf at my local Chapters bookstore. This collection is far more amusing than I should admit.

The idea of a machine that can predict the way a person would die is very, very creepy. It could read CANCER or JULIA or OLD AGE. However, it's never quite that simple - each of these could mean very different things based on different circumstances. Due to this, the stories were insightful, though-provoking, witty and terrible in the best way possible.

There is something special, here.

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