Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BPAFF Public Service Announcement: Keep Safe this All Hollows

This is a public service announcement from BPAFF (The Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk)

All Hallows is only two days away, and that means it's time to think about protection before you go out and have your fun on All Hallows Eve. Let's run down the list of what that is:

All Hallows Eve is one of the most dangerous nights of the year to be out because the Veil is thin between our world (the human world) and that of the Fae (or Fairies). All manner of Fae are going to be out, just looking for people to glamour or steal away to their Realm. This isn't a tithe year, so you won't have to lock up your young men, but keep in mind that abduction by Fairies is still a very real threat.

Here's some simple things you can do to protect yourself:

Carry Iron

All Fae are allergic to iron. Any bit will protect you, whether it is a piece of jewelry, a knife, or anything portable. Depending on where you are planning to go on All Hallows Eve, you can decide whether or not you actually need a weapon or just some piece of iron to carry with you.

Four Leaf Clovers

Four leaf clovers will reveal a Fairies' glamour. Fairies can disguise themselves to walk among humans. You may not know you're to be the victim of a Faery abduction until too late. If you carry a four leaf clover, you will be able to see past their human disguise. (Note, three leaf clovers DO NOT work the same, never substitute)


If you don't have iron, rowan is a good substitute, and will do the same thing, though it can't be fashioned into a weapon unless you want a cane or club. Perfect for a night on the town though.

Wear Clothing Inside Out

If you're wandering through a place high in Faery activity, wear your clothes inside out to lighten the risk you will lose your way. Doing this will make you immune to their tricks and spells, but don't rely on this alone. Carry some other form of protection against them.

Note that all of these are good ways to protect yourself from Fairies but it is still highly inadvisable to go anywhere near the Faelands on All Hallows Eve at all. Remember, that if you do not bother the Fairies, they will not bother you.

(This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by Blood Ties: A Modern Tale of Na Fianna)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Books of Note: September Reads

I've decided to continue with the format for my books of note that I did over the summer and list all the books I read as well as bought and then of course, the reviews for my favorite books as usual. I've also decided to link the reviews for the books I don't review directly on the blog to Goodreads. Because I actually do review most books that I read so if you are interested, you can read them on Goodreads.

I read nine books this month, still not as many as I wanted to, but a lot of them were 400+ pages, so I let myself off :P I also managed to read only books I own this month, so no library books at all, and I got through a lot of new releases and series books I have wanted to read for a long time.

Books I Read:

1. Gates of Thread and Gold by Lori M. Lee (Giveaway win) (2/5 stars)
2. Deathwish (Cal and Niko #4) by Rob Thurman (4/5 stars)
3. The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson (3/5 stars)
4. Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga (5/5 stars)
5. Cup of Blood (Crispin Guest #0.5--prequel) by Jeri Westerson (4/5 stars)
6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin (4/5 stars)
7. Found (Mickey Bolitar #3) by Harlan Coben (3.5/5 stars)
8. Slaves of Socorro (Brotherband Chronicles #4) by John Flanagan (3/5 stars)
9. Inkheart (Inkworld #1) by Cornelia Funke (re-read) (5/5 stars)

Books I Bought:

1. Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga
2. Roadkill (Cal and Niko #5) by Rob Thurman
3. Jackaby by William Ritter
4. Found (Mickey Bolitar #3) by Harlan Coben
5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Favorite Reads of the Month:

Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz's serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz's own home in tiny Lobo's Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he's never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: "Like father, like son?" Who is the true monster?
The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet...the Crow King.


I'm going to have to break my normal review format for this one because I honestly don't even know how to go about reviewing this book, and I'm going to try to do it as well as I can without spoiling it, which means it's going to be short.

This was a ridiculously hard book to rate. There is so much in this that is not okay, but it all works out into the story, so I can't really complain and the end really clinched it for me. I'm going to be honest, horrible stuff happens in this book, and when we find out about Jazz's past it gets even worse, but it's not okay in the book, just as it's not okay with the reader and it's supposed to be like that, so while I don't care to read about stuff like that, because it wasn't there to be gratuitous I can deal with it and just feel bad for what poor Jazz went through.

This was a non-stop action book, I read it in two days and only stopped to sleep. The writing as with the previous books is amazing, the twists and turns are wonderful, and leave you wondering whether or not everything will actually turn out okay in the end, and I love that because it's usually so obvious that everything will end well in a book. The twist about Ugly J and the Crows was great, and though I pretty much had figured it out by that time, I thought it was revealed really well. Billy Dent is whack, there's nothing else to say, he was just so creepy.

As for the outcomes, I loved them, I was reading with bated breath, not knowing where it was going, or where Jazz was going, and all I'm going to say is that I was not disappointed. The conclusion was wonderful, way better and more solid than I expected it to be, and overall I am really happy I read this series. Barry Lyga is an amazing author and one of the best when it comes to writing crazed, delusional serial killers. And I do always appreciate that. I really do.

So, yes I ended up rating it five stars in the end, because what else am I going to do with a book that makes me feel the way this one did?

When a corpse turns up at his favorite tavern, Crispin begins an inquiry, but the dead man turns out to be a Knight Templar, an order thought to be extinct for 75 years, charged with protecting a certain religious relic which is now missing. Before he can investigate, Crispin is abducted by shadowy men who are said to be minions of the French anti-pope. Further complicating matters are two women: one from court with an enticing proposition, and another from Crispin’s past, dredging up long-forgotten emotions he would rather have left behind. And as if all that weren’t enough, a cunning young cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker has insinuated himself into Crispin’s already difficult life. The deeper Crispin probes into the murder, the more it looks like the handiwork of an old friend turned adversary. With enemies from all sides, Crispin has his hands full in more than murder.


I was hoping that Jeri Westerson would write a prequel for the Crispin series to tell us how he and Jack actually met, and I was not disappointed with this book. It was a very good prequel (and I'm always a fan of those) and it was nice to see Crispin and Jack get to know each other from the beginning. I have always loved their relationship because it's a bit different from what you normally get with mystery novels, Jack being so much younger than the typical side-kick character you find in the genre, but it works really well with the series and with Crispin's character.

The storyline of this one was really cool too, and I loved how all the mysteries seemed to be separate but kind of intertwined throughout the story to where you were left wondering whether it was all just a coincidence or whether everyone might be involved. It wasn't super hard to figure out, but there were still a couple twists that I didn't see coming, and I still enjoyed the book despite that because I read these for the characters more than anything.

As for secondary characters, I loved seeing Wynchcombe again, I actually really enjoyed his character. He is a baddie, but he's interesting too because half the time he's trying to kick Crispin's head in and the other half, he's helping him. He was one of my favorite sheriffs in the series. I did not care at all for Lady Vivienne, in fact, I found her annoying. That didn't bother me though, because she was supposed to be. What really bothered me was that Crispin was such an idiot about her. I mean, seriously, man, you can't think all ladies are so innocent, can you? And even after she duped him several times, he still fell under her spell. Just several head-shaking moments there, but I think it taught him lessons for later in the series. De Marcherne was a pretty cool baddie though. He was so cold and evil, and French. I enjoyed him a lot.

All in all, another really enjoyable Crispin Guest mystery. I really look forward to seeing the next book in the series, and continuing Crispin and Jack's adventure where they left off!

From internationally bestselling author Harlan Coben comes this third action-packed installment of his bestselling young adult series.

It’s been eight months since Mickey Bolitar witnessed the shocking, tragic death of his father. Eight months of lies, dark secrets, and unanswered questions. While he desperately wants answers, Mickey’s sophomore year of high school brings on a whole new set of troubles. Spoon is in the hospital, Rachel won’t tell him where he stands, his basketball teammates hate him . . . and then there’s Ema’s surprise announcement: She has an online boyfriend, and he’s vanished. 
As he’s searching for Ema’s missing boyfriend (who may not even exist!), Mickey also gets roped into helping his nemesis, Troy Taylor, with a big problem. All the while, Mickey and his friends are pulled deeper into the mysteries surrounding the Abeona Shelter, risking their lives to find the answers—until the shocking climax, where Mickey finally comes face-to-face with the truth about his father.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I've loved the Mickey Bolitar series a lot so far, and while this one might not have been quite as action packed as the previous two, I still did enjoy it and it had a few really good twists that kept me reading it straight through. Anytime I read a novel straight through I have to give marks to the author for that.

Cover--Yea or Nay: No. I really hate these new covers. They are terrible.

Characters: Mickey was always a really enjoyable character. He does what he has to and he doesn't sit around moping about it. I also loved Ema and continue to do so in this one. She never comes across with an attitude and is a genuinely good friend to Mickey. Spoon was less weird in this story and I actually feel like we got to know him a little better. He surprised me. I'm not going to say much more for fear of spoiling the story, but I'll just say that I liked how we got to see some more of the characters and how they played their parts in the plot.

The Romance: Not really any romance though part of the plot is that Ema met a boy online and that's whatever you want to call that. I still think there will be a romance between her and Mickey, and I wouldn't be unhappy with it, but I don't mind them being friends like they are now either.

Writing Style: Same as the others. First person past tense from Mickey's POV. I enjoy his narration, I have no complaints with being in his head. As I said previously, Harlan Coben does so well with suspense, keeping the reader occupied. Granted, it's not a long book anyway, but I read it in a night and a day and it definitely felt like it went super fast unlike some books that drag on forever. It's the kind of thing I look for in a suspense novel (and I have read 'suspense novels' that did not make me sit down and read them cover to cover). The story wasn't quite as awesome or engaging as that of the previous two books, but it was still enough to keep my attention through the whole thing. It was more of a personal story for Mickey and Ema, dealing with things closer to home.

Accuracy/ Believability: No complaints. Obviously, there's not a lot of problem with this in contemporary.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really bothered me. I could say I was mildly disappointed that we didn't get to see more of Luther but the way this one ended up (and I won't say anything!) the next book--which I assume we will be getting?--will be more about that plot line.

Conclusion: 3.5 stars. Not quite as action packed as the previous two books, but still very enjoyable.

Recommended Audience: Fans of suspense and thrillers and that kind of stuff would enjoys these. If you liked the Jasper Dent books and want something a little less dark and desperate, this is a good series to read as a recovery. Guy read but can also be a girl read ages 14 and up.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mid-Year Book Freakout

I got challenged to do this by my friend and fellow blogger Mara at The Reading Hedgehog. And I thought it looked like fun and a good idea so here is my post, kind of a wrap up of the entire year and not just my summer reads.

1- Best book you've read so far in 2014
Okay, this is tough. I've read lots of good books, but only a few really awesome, epic books. As far as books that came out this year, definitely Jackaby by William Ritter. But as follow up books that I just read this year, I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga and Vicious by Victoria Schwab were close seconds.

2- Best sequel you've read so far in 2014
Probably The Shadow Throne (Ascendence Trilogy #3) by Jennifer A. Neilson was the best sequel book I read so far.

3-New release you haven't read yet, but want to
Ooh, soo many! I have heard many good things about The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and really want to read that. I also really want to read Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne. Looks like a good adventure fantasy novel.

4- Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Boys III) I'm both anticipating this one and scared to death by it. I almost wonder if I just want to have it so I can see where it goes.

5- Biggest disappointment
I don't know if I had any books that were a HUGE disappointment. Half Bad by Sally Green wasn't nearly as awesome as it sounded nor was Crusher by Niall Leonard, but it didn't keep me up at night.

6- Biggest surprise
This would probably be Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky. This was one of those books that could go either way, but ended up being good. Not one of the best books ever, but very enjoyable.

7- New author (debut or new to you)
I'm going to do both. For a debut, William Ritter, author of Jackaby definitely and for new to me, Rob Thurman, author of the Cal Leandros series.

8- Newest fictional crush, that's a hard one. Maybe Niko from the Cal Leandros series. Off the top of my head.

9- Newest favorite character
Jackaby, definitely.

10- Book that made you cry
I think I've spent most of this year so far crying over TV series instead of books, but I did cry reading The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Neilson. It tore me up.

11- Book that made you happy
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. Classic adventure novel, and I always adore his books. Makes me feel like a kid :-)

12- Favorite book to film adaption you have seen this year
As crazy as this sounds, I have not seen a book movie this year. I have actually only gone to see three movies this year so far, and none of them were book adaptions. I can probably say with conviction that my favorite will be the third Hobbit movie when it comes out.

13- Favorite review you have written this year
This might sound bad, but my favorite review to write this year was the one I wrote for The Friday Society which I gave one star to because I got to say what I thought about it and use lots of gifs. It's here if you want to read it:

14- Most beautiful book you have bought this year or received
The Barns & Noble Classics edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales It is sooo pretty :-)

15- What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Um...all of them? I don't really plan that far ahead and I actually finished up all the books I told myself I needed to read this year that were already out over the summer, so I'm pretty clean right now :-) Maybe you should tell me what books I need to read before the end of the year??? (I'm serious, I love to hear people's suggestions!)

I'm not going to tag anyone for this, but I would like to thank Mara again for tagging me, because I enjoyed it a lot! Hope everyone has a good September! I'll be back before long with...something :P

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Books of Note: August Reads/ Summer Wrap Up

Well, it's the end of August and the end of my summer reading. I didn't get nearly as many books read as I wanted to, I think about ten less than last year, but I did read some good ones and it's still a good number for how busy I was these months. All in all, I read 25

Here's the complete list of books I read this summer and their ratings:

#1-The Curse of the Thirteenth Fey--Jane Yolen (3/5 stars)
#2-Game (Jasper Dent #2)--Barry Lyga (4/5 stars)
#3-This Dark Endeavor--Kenneth Oppel (4/5 stars)
#4-Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)--Marissa Meyer (3.5/5 stars)
#5-Sense and Sensibility --Jane Austin (4/5 stars)
#6-The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1)--Jonathan Stroud (4/5 stars)
#7-Moonshine (Cal and Niko #2)-- Rob Thurman (4/5 stars)
#8-Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)-- Marissa Meyer (4/5 stars)
#9-Jackaby-- Willian Ritter (5/5 stars)
#10-Strands of Bronze and Gold-- Jane Nickerson (4/5 stars)
#11-The Mirk and Midnight Hour-- Jane Nickerson (5/5 stars)
#12-Half Bad--Sally Green (3/5 stars)
#13-The Strange Maid (United States of Asgard #2)-- Tessa Gratton (4/5 stars)
#14-Beowulf: Dragonslayer--Rosemary Sutcliff (4/5 stars)
#15-Crusher--Niall Leonard (2/5 stars)
#16-Madhosue (Cal and Niko #3)-- Rob Thurman (4/5 stars)
#17-Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1)--Leigh Bardugo (5/5 stars)
#18-The Friday Society--Adrienne Kress (1/5 stars)
#19-The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5)--Rick Riordan (5/5 stars)
#20-King of Ithaka--Tracy Barrett (2/5 stars)
#21-Reckless (Mirrorworld #1)--Cornelia Funke (4/5 stars)
#22-The Iron Hand of Mars (M. Didius Falco #4)--Lindsey Davis (4/5 stars)
#23-North and South--Elizabeth Gaskell (5/5 stars)
#24-Knight of Shadows (Hunter of Sherwood #1)--Toby Venables (4/5 stars)
#25-The Hero's Guide of Being an Outlaw (League of Princes #3)--Christopher Healy (4/5 stars)

And here's the original list of books I posted for my original summer reading at the beginning of June so you can see how many of those I managed to read:

From the Library

Dragon Slayer: The Story of Beowuf-- Rosemary Sutcliff
Madhouse (Cal Leandros #3)-- Rob Thurman
Deathwish (Cal Leandros #4)-- Rob Thurman
Don't be Afraid of the Dark: Blackwood's Guide to Dangerous Fairies-- Guillermo Del Toro & Christopher Golden 
King of Ithaka-- Tracy Barrett
Game (Jasper Dent #2) Barry Lyga
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co.)-- Jonathan Stroud
The Pale Assassin-- Patricia Elliott
Nightmare City-- Andrew Klaven
Far Far Away-- Tom McNeal
This Dark Endeavor-- Kenneth Oppel 
Crusher-- Niall Leonard
Simon-- Rosemary Sutcliff (This is one I have never even heard of before!)
The Friday Society-- Adreinne Kress
The Iron Hand of Mars (Falco Mysteries #4)-- Lindsey Davis
Poseidon's Gold (Falco Mysteries #5)-- Lindsey Davis

From My Bookshelf

Moonshine (Cal Leandros #2)-- Rob Thurman
Knight of Shadows (Hunter of Sherwood)-- Toby Venables. 
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)-- Marissa Meyer 
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)-- Marissa Meyer
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5)-- Rick Riordan 
Shadow and Bone-- Leigh Bardugo 
Reckless-- Cornelia Funke 
The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw (League of Princes #3)--Christopher Healy 

I planned to read 24 books and I read 25 so at least I got my original goal, even if I didn't read all the exact books I planned to. I did get to all the ones from my own shelf which made me happy because some of those I had had sitting there for a while.

Now onto the books I bought this month! Since it was my birthday this month, I bought some extras and won one in a giveaway for review, so here's a picture to show what I got, there's 17 in all and I have also pre-ordered a couple new releases for next month as well:

From Barns & Noble with by Birthday giftcard I got 

Grimm's Fairy Tales (The complete collection in the B&N classic which is LOVELY and illistrated and everything. I love it.)
Dracula--Bram Stoker (also in the B&N classic but the newer ones they have come out with, but it's really nice quality)
Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2)--Leigh Bardugo 
Game (Jasper Dent #2)-- Barry Lyga 
Blackout (Cal and Niko #6)--Rob Thurman
Doubletake (Cal and Niko #7)--Rob Thurman

From my Powell's order I got

Montmorency on the Rocks (Montmorency #2)--Elanore Updale (I was supposed to get a hardback but instead I got a galley copy so I'm still looking for a hardback to finish my collection. It was on .95 cents though, so I can't really complain)
The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) --Maureen Johnson (I never found this one at the library and I loved the first one, so I am excited to read it finally)
The Near Witch--Victoria Schwab (Liked this one a lot)
Vicious--Victoria Schwab (I loved this one too, and I have finished my collection of Victoria's books)
Inkheart (Inkheart #1)--Cornelia Funke (I had this one previously, but I recently replaced the paperbacks I had of this trilogy with hardbacks so now they are all HBs)
Outlaws of Sherwood--Robin McKinley (This is another one I read a while ago, but really liked and decided to buy finally.)
Deathwish (Cal and Niko #4)--Rob Thurman
Madhouse (Cal and Niko #3)--Rob Thurman
Slashback (Cal and Niko #8)--Rob Thurman (trying to collect all of these, I only have two left now :)

I also bought Cup of Blood (Crispin Guest #7) by Jeri Westerson from Amazon because that's the only place I could get it. It's actually a prequle and I have been looking forward to this one for a while.

And I won a copy of Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee in a Goodreads Giveaway, so I'm excited to get to that one too.

And now on to my favorite reads of the month! I was really bad about writing reviews this month so I only have two for books I really enjoyed:

Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a portal in his father's abandoned study. Over the years, he has made a name for himself as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. He's also made many enemies and allies--most important, Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting vixen whom Jacob cares for more than he lets on.

But life in this other world is about to change. Tragedy strikes when Jacob's younger brother, Will, follows him through the portal. Brutally attacked, Will is infected with a curse that is quickly transforming him into a Goyl--a ruthless killing machine, with skin made of stone.

Jacob is prepared to fight to save his brother, but in a land built on trickery and lies, Jacob will need all the wit, courage, and reckless spirit he can summon to reverse the dark spell--before it's too late


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I always love Cornelia Funke's books, and this one was no exception. She's one of my favorite fantasy writers ever, and adding that to this being a brother story only made it better!

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, I think it's wonderful and somewhat creepy and yet Fae looking. Definitely an eye-catcher for me.

Characters: Jacob Reckless is a flawed yet likable character. I found myself easily attached to him. He was very human, but in a good way. The reader can relate to him, and though he made some poor decisions at times, he did everything he had to to get his brother back to normal. I approve of him in that aspect and he's joining my list of Awesome Big Bros ;-) I really liked Will as well. He was quiet and sweet and his love and belief in Jacob even after his long absences was very touching. Clara was also a very likable character. I wasn't sure if she was going to be a problem later on in the story, but she's a sensible heroine, and did what she needed to. I liked her a lot, as well as Fox. I also did rather like the dwarf Valiant. Even if he's kind of one of those characters who does what's best for him, he came around in the end. The baddies weren't actually quite as bad as they could have been, but you still knew they meant business. Hentzau and Kami'en were bad but not all that scary. The Dark Fairy however, really was rather frightening and was much in the tradition of the Old World fairy queens.

The Romance: The romance isn't really a huge part of the story, even though Will and Clara's relationship and love for each other does play a part. (view spoiler) Either way, the little romance in this book was not annoying or anything.

Writing Style: As typical to Cornelia Funke's books, the writing was lovely and the world building so wonderful. I loved the illusions to all the old fairy tales, and the creatures that inhabited this world were both frightening, interesting, and sometimes cute. I loved the idea of the Goyl, I thought it was a really cool idea, and have not really read anything like it before. I really would love to say more about it, but I can't really say anything but that it's awesome and I love it! I think I will still always loveInkheart best of all Cornelia's books and her worlds, but the Mirrorworld is definitely a close second.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable.

Problems/What bothered me: No problems, though I might have liked a little more backstory to begin with. The only very minor complaint I could give is that the book starts rather abruptly and jumps a lot of years between chapters one and two. But it's not hard to follow along. I also--and this is just personal preference and I have been spoiled by other stories--but I would have liked to have had more brotherly moments between Jacob and Will. A lot of times it's almost as if we're told of how much they care for each other, and partly, yes, it is their characters, but I would have liked to see more bits between them (view spoiler)But that's only a minor thing and didn't keep me from enjoying the book any less.

Conclusion: 4 stars. Really enjoyed it, though I think I will always love Inkheart best. Can't wait to read the sequel!

Recommended Audience: Cornelia Funke fans who have not read this need to, and just anyone who loves fairy tales and well crafted worlds. Girl or guy read 13 and up.

(Read this review with Spoilers on Goodreads)

England, 1191. Richard Lionheart has left the realm bankrupt and leaderless in his quest for glory. Only Prince John seems willing to fight back the tide of chaos threatening England – embodied by the traitorous ‘Hood.’

But John has a secret weapon: Guy of Gisburne, outcast, mercenary, and now knight. His first mission: to intercept the jewel-encrusted skull of John the Baptist, sent by the Templars to Philip, King of France. Gisburne’s quest takes him from the Tower of London to the hectic crusader port of Marseilles – and into increasingly bloody encounters with ‘The White Devil’: the fanatical Templar de Mercheval.

Relentlessly pursued back to England, and aided by the beautiful and secretive M̩lisande, Gisburne battles his way with sword, lance and bow to a bitter confrontation at the Castel de Mercheval. But beyond it Рif he survives Рlies an even more unpredictable adversary.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This is the Robin Hood retelling I have been waiting for. As soon as I heard about it I wanted to read it. It's fresh, it's fun, and it keeps the traditional adventure of Robin Hood stories but without Robin as a protagonist, who I really get tired of.

Cover--Yea or Nay: It's cool, I don't have a problem with it, but it's not the one I would pick either. For the kind of book it is, it works.

Characters: Okay, so since I watched BBC's Robin Hood series, I have had a real soft spot for Guy of Gisburne and since Robin really ended up annoying me in that series, I have kind of gotten tired of him as a character in general. The last really good Robin Hood story I have read was Robin McKinley's Outlaws of Sherwood But this one has Guy as the main character, and he's the good guy. And he was genuinely, a good fellow. He wasn't an anti-hero, he was a black knight with a white heart. I really liked him a lot. Robin Hood on the other hand was a creep and portrayed very well as a villain and a sociopathic con man (the bad, dangerous kind). He's not even portrayed like that just because you're getting Guy's POV, there's hard evidence to that fact. I'm going to warn you now, that if you have a problem with Robin being portrayed as a bad guy, you're not going to like this book. I personally liked this fresh take on his character. I thought it was very well done. Galfrid was one of my favorite characters though. He was a kind of sardonic and cynical person and made a good companion to Guy. I didn't have anything against Melisande, though I was afraid I would at first. She ended up being the good kind of strong female character. She did the job she had to, but didn't try to do Guy's as well. Tancred was actually a scary villain when you got to know him. I wasn't quite sure he wouldn't disappoint at first but I think he did pretty well. I also liked how both Richard and John were portrayed. I personally agree in full on how Richard was portrayed. And John was actually not portrayed as an idiotic milksop either, which I think it more accurate.

The Romance: Not a whole lot of romance. Guy and Melisande do share feelings for one another, which can probably be guessed, but it takes up hardly any of the story at all, and only really comes about at the end.

Writing Style: While not the most spectacular, it was engaging, and fast paced, and good for the kind of novel it was. I actually really liked how this was geared as an adventure novel so it wasn't just a slog through historical details that so many medieval books set in this era are. It wasn't the actual swashbuckling thing you would normally expect from a Robin Hood book either, thankfully (because I'm kind of tired of that, it's overdone and wouldn't have worked here) but more almost like James Bond for want of a better description. Guy was working as a retrieval expert and under cover in this one, and there was the added almost steampunk flair with the cool inventions and things he carried. All in all, I thought it was fun and a definitely different take on the Robin Hood story.

Accuracy/ Believability: Strangely, this book is classed as fantasy actually, but there wasn't really any fantasy elements apart from the cool contraptions Guy carries. It's not alternate history, there's nothing weird, but it's the kind of historical novel "true" students of history would probably would not like but I don't find they like much of any novels. Nothing jumped out at me as being inaccurate. But this is more meant to be a fun read and if it's not quite perfect, that's not the point.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really bothered me. There was a bit of language though scattered, and a couple moments of "adult content" but never graphic. Certainly, there was less of both than I have found in a lot of YA novels. I'll mention that there is gore for those of you who don't care for that. Typical medieval level but again, not too graphic, but I'm probably a poor judge of that. Still PG 13

Conclusion: 4 stars. I enjoyed this book a lot. it is now one of my favorite Robin Hood (or rather not Robin Hood) novels. I am excited to see where this series goes. I look forward to seeing more of Guy and Robin dueling it out.

Recommended Audience: Good guy read, but girls who like adventure and this kind of thing would also like it. If you are a fan of BBC's Robin Hood series, mainly because of Guy and are as tired of Robin as I am, this is definitely for you. Ages 18 and up.

Before I end the post I thought I would show you something else I got for my birthday. Yes, I have finally gotten a bust; his name is Octavius:

Friday, August 22, 2014

"On a Foreign Field" Free for Wallace Day

I've realized how bad I've been recently with my promotions and trying to sell my books more than usual, so I finally decided to try out the Kindle freebie promotion on one of my books, and since today, August 23rd is William Wallace Day, I thought using it on my book On a Foreign Field would appropriate.

So, I want you all to enjoy a Kindle copy of On a Foreign Field for free! I would also appreciate it if you would leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or even your blogs when you are finished reading it. It always helps. If you really want to, you can tweet me your review so I can be sure to see it :-)

The promotion will last from today until Tuesday the 26th, so you have several days to download it. Don't forget to do so! And I hope you enjoy the book! You can find the direct link below:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Books of Note: July Reads

Well, I felt like I read more books this month, but I guess I didn't read all that many more than last month. However, I read a LOT of really good books this month, so I am very happy about that :) I also went to my used bookstore this month, but didn't get nearly as many books as I expected. They didn't have any of the ones on my list, so I decided to not go crazy and save my money to make a Powell's order in August as a birthday present to myself ;)

Complete July Reads List:

Jackaby by William Ritter (5 stars)
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (4 stars)
The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson (5 stars)
Half Bad by Sally Green (3 stars)
The Strange Maid (United States of Asgard #2) by Tessa Gratton (4 stars)
Beowulf: Dragon Slayer by Rosemary Sutcliff (4 stars)
Crusher by Niall Leonard (2.5 stars)
Madhouse (Cal Leandros #3) by Rob Thurman (4 stars)
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo (5 stars)

Books I Bought:

The Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain #1) by Lloyd Alexander
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (wanted to read this one for a while so I decided to buy it)
Prison Ship by Paul Dowswell (This is the second book in a series and I don't have the first, nor have I read it, but I have on good authority that they are good and I do like Dowswell's books.
The Eagle and the Wolves (Macro and Cato #4) by Simon Scarrow
Brian Boru Emperor of the Irish by Morgan Llywelyn
The Lost Sun (United States of Asgard #1) by Tessa Gratton (won the new one in a giveaway so I decided to buy the first one too :)
Slaves of Socorro (Brotherband Chronicles #4) by John Flanagan

Won in Giveaways:

The Strange Maid (United States of Asgard #2) by Tessa Gratton

Favorite Reads of the Month

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.


*ARC review*

Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was a love at first sight book. Some books are like that, and sometimes, on a good day, they don't disappoint. And Jackaby did not disappoint. It's like all my favorite things put into one: Victorian mystery with faeries, and a wonderful, funny protagonist and awesome cast of characters. Seriously, I can't get over how perfect this book was.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, I like the cover very much! I love the silhouette because it's not so much that you can see a blatant character impersonator on it and it's lovely and obviously looks Victorian.

Characters: Abigail Rook was just the kink of heroine I love in these sorts of stories. She's completely without an attitude, she's awesome and can get a job done, and still be ladylike, she's funny, and she just has an all around great character. Jackaby, on my gosh, I just LOVED him so much. He was kind of like Sherlock Holmes but was a lot nicer. Like he might say things that offended people but he never meant them, he was only stating the truth. As a huge Holmes fan, I love to see the nods to it, and I honestly can't say everything about Jackaby because I simply love him and that's it. I also totally loved Charlie Cane the junior detective. He was sweet, and wonderful, and the kind of guy character I like to read about, especially in historical fiction. I just wanted to see more of him. Inspector Marlowe was a good rival for Jackaby too, though he actually could almost qualify as a villain. He's rather more mean than he needed to be to poor Jackaby and that made him an interesting character. Unlike Lestrade from the Sherlock Holmes stories, he actually dislikes Jackaby very much and if not just annoyed by him like Lestrade is with Holmes. The supporting character were lovely too. I loved Jenny the ghost and Douglas the duck was a fun addition as well.

The Romance: Not much in the way of romance, but there is a little crushing between Abigail and Charlie. I'm not adverse to it though, I really like them together.

Writing Style: Not only did we get awesome character, but they are accompanied by a lovely writing style that made the book all the better. Abigail is the narrator and I loved her voice. This book reads like a Victorian novel, and has all that lovely distinctively British humor to it. I actually had to keep reminding myself this was set in New England and not London or somewhere in England because it really has the feel of a British story. Of course, Abigail is British so that might have some impact on that too. The whole feel was right, and again, I loved her her narration incorporates the subtle little humor that I always love so much. And adding the supernatural element to a Victorian mystery is only ever going to make it better. Like I said, this is kind of my dream book, you can't get better than this in my opinion. I loved the world William Ritter created and how he incorporated faeries and other supernatural creatures into it. To this point, I have only read Urban Fantasy books that have done so well, but it's even more awesome to see someone take that idea and set it in the past. And the way he used the classic stories and folklore and made it fit a Victorian time period was totally awesome. I can't say more because I don't want to spoil anything, but if you know your folklore you're going to appreciate it.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not totally applicable. Historically, I didn't have any complaints, and since I'm a walking encyclopedia of the strange I also must report that the lore is pretty sound too, or at least utilized in a way that totally nods to the actual legends.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing, but the fact that I wished this book was about three times the length and that I really want the next one now!

Conclusion: 5 stars. Not only is this one of the best books I have read this year so far, but I think it might be the best, and I'll be looking for a book to top it for a while, I think.

Recommended Audience: If you like Sherlock Holmes and Faeries, read this. If you like faerie stories and Victorian mysteries, this is definitely for you. And if you've wanted SuperWhoLock, this is probably as close as you will ever get ;-) Could be both a girl or guy read, ages 12 and up.

(Also read my friend Mara's review on The Reading Hedgehog)

 A Southern girl. A wounded soldier. A chilling force deep in the forest.
All collide at night’s darkest hour.

Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has been left at home in Mississippi with a laudanum-addicted stepmother and love-crazed stepsister while her father fights in the war—a war that has already claimed her twin brother.

When she comes across a severely injured Union soldier lying in an abandoned lodge deep in the woods, things begin to change. Thomas is the enemy—one of the men who might have killed her own brother—and yet she's drawn to him. But Violet isn't Thomas's only visitor; someone has been tending to his wounds—keeping him alive—and it becomes chillingly clear that this care hasn't been out of compassion.

Against the dangers of war and ominous powers of voodoo, Violet must fight to protect her home and the people she loves.

From the author of Strands of Bronze and Gold comes a haunting love story and suspenseful thriller based on the ancient fairy tale of “Tam Lin.”


Thoughts on the Overall Book: After enjoying Strands of Bronze and Gold I was really excited to start another book by Jane Nickerson, and I was not disappointed with The Mirk and Midnight Hour In fact, I think, overall, I liked it better than Strands. It had an awesome atmosphere, creepy themes, and, in my opinion, more likable characters.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes! It's a lovely cover, when I got the book from the library I actually just sat and stared at it for several minutes. It's something about the lighting of the picture that I really like :)

Characters: Violet was just the kind of female protagonist I enjoy reading about in historical fiction. She's capable, she's a strong character, but she's not overbearing with an attitude. The reason I liked her more than Sophie from Strands was because she wasn't as trusting and naive as Sophie was. She seemed much more mature and capable of looking after herself and, overall, I liked her a lot more as a protagonist. Thomas was obviously a favorite character. He was quiet and sweet, and just a very gentlemanly guy, and I really loved him. I do kind of wish he had been introduced earlier on in the story, but while reading it, I really didn't notice that I was so far in and it served to get to know the other characters better. I never did like Dorian, I thought he was a jerk and I was glad that Violet, while I think she really wanted to believe he was doing good, never really seemed to. She was never so ready to trust him that she got in trouble for it. Seely on the other hand, I loved. He was such an adorable little boy, and I just wanted to give him a big hug. I LOVED his relationship with Violet. She was so sweet taking care of him like a little brother, and that won her over to me even more. I liked Laney too, who kind of acted as an older sister to Violet, her voice of reason when she needed it. I also really liked Swallow, I thought she was cute, and I thought it was nice how her and Seely became good friends. Violet's stepmother, Miss Elsa, was kind of useless, but she wasn't a terrible character either. I'm still not entirely sure what I think of Sunny. I came to terms with her by the end of the book (view spoiler) The VanZeldts are very interesting characters as well. Very mysterious and creepy. I got chills up my spine reading about them. I also liked seeing characters from Strands that made it kind of fun. Because, while it's not really necessary to read this book after Strands if you did read it, you will appreciate the inclusions of certain characters.

The Romance: I really liked the romance between Violet and Thomas. It was sweet, and nice to read. It made you want to see them get together. All issues that occurred were worked out swiftly and without too much trouble.

Writing Style: Again, as with Strands this was really the highlight of the book. Jane Nickerson writes so lovely. She is so suited to historical fiction, that her writing style seems like something authentic to the time period. I'm going to admit right now that the South is not my favorite place in the world, I can appreciate parts of it, but I would rather be other places. The way Jane Nickerson writes it makes it come alive and seem magical. Like old world magic, and I love that about her books. I love when an author can take a place or a setting I'm indifferent to, and make me fall in love with it. The only problem I can mark in her books at all, that really wasn't an issue for me personally, is that they do tend to start out slow. It takes a while to get into the actual plot of the story, but she does that to acquaint the reader with the characters, and that is a mark of an author who cares about the people in her books. Because of this, the reader becomes attached to the characters in turn, and really cares about them and what happens to them. And this is a Tam Lin retelling. Tam Lin is actually one of my favorite ballads, but I have problems with it. If that makes any sense at all. I have long been looking for a retelling I like (I'm actually in the course of writing my own) but this is the first one, in a very unlikely place, that I have loved honestly. Yeah, there's no faeries, which is the main reason I love the ballad in the first place, but incorporating Voodoo and Hoodoo and African folklore was totally awesome, and definitely original. I was very impressed. The illusion to Tam Lin are actually rather subtle, and to catch them, you'll have to know the story well, and I think that made me appreciate it even more at the end. It was creepy and wonderful and I really loved every page of it.

Accuracy/ Believability: The historical accuracy is very believable and sound. I don't know a whole lot about the African folklore talked about here, I don't know a lot about it at all, so I can't say whether that was accurate or not. What I do know about Voodoo and Hoodoo seemed to fit in with this book. Again, not my forte, but I do like keep myself appraised of all things strange and creepy ;)

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really bothered me in this book, I enjoyed it a lot!

Conclusion: 5 stars. So far my favorite Tam Lin retelling, and another wonderful book by Jane Nickerson. I cannot wait to see what she has in store next!

Recommended Audience: If you love Tam Lin retellings, you have to try this one, because it is so different that it is just really awesome, and I don't think you'll be disappointed! Girl read, ages 15 and up.

(Read this review with spoilers on Goodreads)
(Also read my friend Mara's review on The Reading Hedgehog)
 Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I really enjoyed The Lost Sun so I was excited to start the new book in the United States of Asgard Trilogy and I was not disappointed. I actually might have even liked this one more than the first, but I'd have to re-read them both to say for certain.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I like the overall concept, but the girl is not how I pictured Signey. It's shiny though ;)

Characters: Signey Valborn is probably one of the few Valkyrie characters I have really liked. Mainly because no one seems to be able to get traditional valkyries but it was refreshing to read about a traditional valkyrie character as in, not one who hates men just for the sake of them being men, and all that rubbish. She was a strong female character with an actually enjoyable character to read about. She didn't have the Attitude, and she was willing to work with other people and accepted that she needed help and actually welcomed it. Overall, I really liked her and I felt for her journey. I really liked Ned Unferth as well. He's that kind of quite, mysterious character that I always enjoy, and I'm not going to give away spoilers, but I loved his story and who he turns out to be. Very clever! I also really liked getting to see Soren again and Baldur and a few of the other characters from Book One. I also really loved the berserker band that Signey gets in with. They were awesome, and I loved how she kind of became 'one of the guys' with them and how they treated her as a comrade in arms. Redstripe the troll was also adorable.

The Romance: There really isn't a lot in the way of romance. Signey does obviously feel something for Ned. If there was any more of what there was, it probably would have annoyed me, but because of what happens in the story, it's bearable.

Writing Style: I love Tessa Gratton's writing style. The whole world she has created is amazing here. I love Urban fantasy that pulls from mythology. I actually think we got to see more of the world in this book than the first one which might be part of the reason I like this one a fraction better. I just loved to see how the old Norse traditions fit into modern day America. My favorite thing might be the troll watching at the Mjolnir Institute. That was awesome. But apart from just the world building, the story-line itself is amazing. The whole correlation to Beowulf was awesome. It's one of my favorite epic stories so I always love seeing a nod to it, and the way Tessa Gratton incorporated it into the story was wonderful. I'm not going to say any particulars, because I don't want to spoil anything, but it's cool. A lot of bits of this story actually feel like they're written in epic or saga style and I loved that about it too. The first one had a little bit of that, but not nearly as much as this one did. It fit the story better overall, I think.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not really applicable, but as far as the Norse myth goes, it's very accurate or formed in a way that it's a nod to the original stories, but fit to the modern era. Tessa Gratton definitely knows her stuff.

Problems/What bothered me: Not really any particular thing. I could have done without the mooning Signey does after Ned and her random fling with one of the berserkers, but it's nothing too bad I guess. As far as content warning, there is an almost? sex scene in chapter 27, but it doesn't last too long.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I have really enjoyed this series so far, and I hope Tessa Gratton continues it. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Recommended Audience: If you liked the first one, definitely check this out. And if you haven't read them and love Norse Mythology, you must try these, you won't be disappointed. This one seemed more a girl read than a guy read, 17 and up.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunshine Award

I got nominated for the Sunshine Award by my friend and fellow writer (not to mention crocheter!), Abbie from Yarns and Tales. Thanks very much! She's currently working on a fantasy story that she has been posting on her blog, so do check that out if you have the chance. It's very good so far :-)

Here are the rules of the Sunshine Award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog
  2. Answer the list of questions
  3. Nominate other bloggers and inform them of their nomination
  4. Create questions for your nominees
*You must post the Sunshine Award button (photo above) on your blog :D

Here are the rules of the Sunshine Award:

Abbie's Questions:

1: If you could invite any ONE of your characters over for a day, who would it be and why?

Ooh, tough one. I'd probably say Anthony though, from my Anthony Maxwell mysteries. I would enjoy his company and we could talk cases and books and drink coffee.

2: When you were little, what did you want to be when your grew up?

I think probably, I mostly wanted to be a zookeeper. But after high school biology, I kind of gave up that idea with a violence and turned to more scholarly matters that do not involve science. (Apart from toxicology and the science of poisons, of course. But that's all writing material ;)

3: If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which one would you choose and why?

Seriously? This is such a hard question. How can one even begin to think of this? I really don't know, I love a lot of books. Maybe The Complete Sherlock Holmes? It is one book so it counts!

4: Sherlock's blogger or Doctor's companion?

I haven't yet seen Doctor Who (I know, I know, I'm going to remedy that soon!) But I'd probably still have to choose Sherlock's blogger. One, I'm already a blogger and a writer, two, I love solving mysteries and going on adventures, and three, I would be well equipped to put up with his ridiculousness and more likely than not join him in it. And I'd always make sure I had a weapon handy when he forgets ;)

5: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Hmm, maybe flying, but I'd also kind of like to be invisible. It would be a hard choice between the two.


My Nominations:

Mara (The Reading Hedgehog)
Carolyn (Three Little Birds)

My Questions:

1: What was your first favorite book as a child?
2: A dinner party with five fictional characters. Who would you invite and why?
3: What's something you've always wanted to do but haven't gotten to yet? (i.e. hobby, event, trip, etc)
4: Movies or TV series?
5: What kind of music do you like to listen to?