Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 2015 Wrap Up

Following my new blogging regimen this year, I will be posting a wrap up of all the books I read every month and all the books I bought and list my favorite reads instead of just posting the reviews of my favs (since I am now posting all the reviews I write.)

I managed to read nine books this month which was more than I planned to, so that was a good start to the year in my opinion, and I'm still on track with my Goodreads reading challenge for the year! So without further ado here is my January wrap up:

#1. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (4/5 stars)
#2. The Jedi Doth Return (William Shakespeare's Star Wars #3) by Ian Doescher (5/5 stars)
#3. Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo (4/5 satrs)
#4. The Wild (Secret Journeys of Jack London #1) by William Golden & Tim Lebbon (5/5 stars--This was my month's reread)
#5. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (4/5 stars)
#6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (5/5 stars-- my Classics for Classic Ladies book club read of the month)
#7. Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes (3/5 stars)
#8. Slashback (Cal Leandros #8) by Rob Thurman (4/5 stars)
#9. The Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson (4/5 stars)

Favorite Reads of the Month:

Midnight Thief
The Pennyroyal Academy

Now for the books I bought this month. I wasn't planning on buying many at all, but my friend and I decided to go visit my favorite used bookstore, so...that happened. I ended up coming back with 13 books plus the two I got earlier this month, so it could have been worse, I suppose. But I got a good haul, several books I have been wanting to read for a while, a couple to bring to BookCon to get signed, and yeah, some westerns, I have been in the mood for them lately.

#1. Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne
#2. Ruin and Rising (Grisha Trilogy #3) by Leigh Bardugo
#3. Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher
#4. The Thundering Herd by Zane Grey
#5. The Drift Fence by Zane Grey
#6. Raiders of Spanish Peaks by Zane Grey
#7. Desert Gold by Zane Grey
#8. Silverfin (Young Bond #1) by Charlie Higson
#9. Prowlers by Christopher Golden
#10. When the Eagle Hunts (Macro and Cato #3) by Simon Scarrow
#11. Captain Alatriste (Alatriste #1) by Arturo Perez-Reverte
#12. Purity of Blood (Alatriste #2) by Aruto Perez-Reverte
#13. The Sun Over Breda (Alatriste #3) by Aruto Perez-Reverte
#14. Pirates of the Levant (Alatriste #6) by Aruto Perez-Reverte
#15. The Sea Wolf by Jack London

What did you all get to read this month? Let me know if you had a good start to your reading in 2015 and if you have any must reads for me this year!

Until next time,
Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: "The Wild" by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

This is a re-read for me (I usually do a re-read every month) but I wanted to post the review because it's one of my favorite series, and no one seems to know about it, so I hope you will check these books out after reading this review. Please give the authors your support!

Title: The Wild (Secret Journeys of Jack London #1) by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (Illustrated by Greg Ruth)
Genre: YA, Historical, Supernatural
Rating: 5/5 stars
Synopsis: The world knows Jack London as a writer who lived his own thrilling, real-life adventures. But there are parts of his life that have remained hidden for many years, things so horrifying even he couldn’t set them down in writing. These are the Secret Journeys of Jack London.

We meet Jack at age seventeen, following thousands of men and women into the Yukon Territory in search of gold. For Jack, the journey holds the promise of another kind of fortune: challenge and adventure. But what he finds in the wild north is something far more sinister than he could ever have imagined: kidnapping and slavery, the murderous nature of desperate men, and, amidst it all, supernatural beasts of the wilderness that prey upon the weakness in men’s hearts.

Acclaimed writers Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, along with illustrator Greg Ruth, have crafted a masterful tale both classic and contemporary, a gripping original story of the paranormal in the tradition of the great Jack London.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was one of those books for me that has such a unique premise that I had to read it.. This series is about a young Jack London, before he really became famous, and his supposed 'secret journeys' that are written down, as we see in the preface, by a companion of his who he meets in the book. It was truly nothing like I thought it was going to be when I picked it up, in fact, about a third of the way through, I really had no idea which direction it was going and I liked that. There are so many predictable books out there, but this one really caught me by surprise in every chapter and I could never guess what I would find on the next page. It was very strange, but in a good way, and the kind of way I like. But I'll talk more about that later.

Cover--Yae or Nay: I LOVE the covers for these books and the illustrations inside. I love the weathered look of the picture and how Jack and the wolf are both on it and you can only see a back profile of Jack. Still some of my favorite covers.

Characters: I liked how Jack was portrayed. I don't know too much about the real Jack London, but I really liked how this teenage version of him was portrayed. And from what the authors said in their authors' note, his character is pretty accurate. I liked his two friends, Jim and Merrit and the boy Hal who he rescues from getting taken by slavers up in the Yukon. The slavers were appropriately nasty, and they really were vile. Lesya was appropriately mysterious and exotic, but I won't say more about that for fear of spoilers.

Writing Style: The writing style is partly why I gave the book five stars. This was a very well written book, and the style fit the story perfectly and felt reminiscent of Jack London's writing. It was vivid, and visual and I could totally see all the scenes playing out in front of me which was great because some of the strange scenes could have been very vague. I am a fan of books that portray fantasy and supernatural happenings realistically, if that makes any sense, and this book really did. I liked the setting of the Yukon because it's such a deserted place, that you could actually believe the happenings of this book could happen. I liked how they brought in the story of the Wendigo which came from that area, and the Wendigo was portrayed to be very frightening. There's also some Russain lore in the book too, dealing with the forest spirit, Leshii. That part of the book for me was almost creepier than the Wendigo. This is more of a narrative book, and there's long chunks without dialogue, but it's hardly noticeable if you're not a fan of narrative writing. I go either way depending on who writes it, but this one you will not notice the difference at all.

Problems/What bothered me: I didn't have anything to complain about, truthfully, this book was just so odd that I just kind of went along for the ride and didn't really think about it too much. It kept my attention though, and I cared for the characters, so I must have enjoyed it! Upon re-reading, I actually liked it better than the first time, since I knew what to expect and just sat back and enjoyed the story.

Conclusion: 5 stars. Very unique read, awesome series, one of my favs.

Recommended Audience: Older teens, a guy book. There's a bit of language and lots of gore. This is definitely a realistic book so if you're squeamish of blood, don't read it. Also, it really is kind of creepy. If you want something kind of a cross between Louis L'Amour and Supernatural then this is as close as you are going to get!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: "Siege and Storm" by Leigh Bardugo

Title/Author: Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: While I didn't think this was quite as good as the first one, I still am really enjoying this series, and it was definitely action-packed and a great adventure.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I love the covers for these books. Simple and pretty.

Characters: I do like Alina, she's a strong heroine, but doesn't have an attitude either. There were a couple parts that she started to annoy me in this one (get to that later) but for the most part, she continued to be an enjoyable character to read about. Not a favorite, but I like her. Mal is also a likable character (though again, annoyed me a little in this one) I do really like him, but he's not the kind of character I fall in love with. Nikolai on the other hand, is definitely my new fav. He's just awesome, and sarcastic, and I'm trying to think of who he reminds me of. In any case, definitely loved him. The Darkling continues to be majorly creepy, I love him as a baddie, and I hope he continues to be as evil and cool in the last book.

The Romance: This was the only problem I had with this book. I don't mind Alina and Mal's relationship...but the issues that came about because of it, were annoying. It turned Alina whiny and made me want to slap her, and it made Mal all huffy and acting kind of like a scorned girl. There's threats of love triangles, but I don't know if it will go anywhere, and I know it's not going to ruin my opinion of Nikolai.

Writing Style: The writing style is beautiful, and partly why I love these books so much. It reads kind of like a fantasy and kind of like a fairy tale, and it fits with the world and the story. The world is beautiful, and very unique and creative. There aren't many fantasies based around Russian folklore and culture and I think it fits really well, and is so awesome to read about.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable.

Problems/What bothered me: Besides the romance, not much. I think the book could have been a little shorter, as it did drag on occasion as middle trilogy books are wont to do, but it was still overall an enjoyable read.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I am really looking forward to reading the final book. This one left off with a cliff-hanger so I'm eager to finish the story!

Recommended Audience: Girl read, ages 16 and up. Fans of action/adventure fantasy and Russian folklore would enjoy.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Formatting Site Launch!

I mentioned in my New Year's post that I was working to start up an online formatting business, and I have now finished setting it up, and it is open for business!

You can not go to Once More Unto the Page Formatting Services for all your formatting needs. I wanted to make something easy and affordable for Indie authors to be able to go to to get their manuscripts formatted professionally.

As of now, until the end of the month, if you buy a single service or one of the packages, everything is 50% off to celebrate the launch--I would love it if you would also write a testimonial for your service to help get the business going :)

Even if you do not need Formatting services, if you could help spread the word throughout social media, I would be most grateful. If you know any authors who would be interested, please tell them. I hope you'll all decide to take advantage of the offer. Please drop me an email if you're interested, preferably through the one provided on the formatting site, but even leaving me a comment here if you have any questions would do!

Thanks Everyone!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: "Midnight Thief" by Livia Blackburne

One of the things I wanted to do to boost my blogging this year was start posting every book review I write and not just my favorites. I figure it will give me more reason to write reviews, and also to post on my blog more. I hope you all like it! Also, I'm going to be re-doing my blog soon as well, giving it a makeover for the new year, so it might look different when you come back!

Title/Author: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
SynopsisGrowing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

In her arresting debut novel, Livia Blackburne creates a captivating world where intrigue prowls around every corner—and danger is a way of life.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I've been looking forward to reading this book since it came out and was not disappointed when I finally got around to doing so. It was a bit different than I thought it would be, but I had no complaints.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I actually love the cover, it's simple, yet cool, and definitely looks like a historical fantasy.

Characters: I really liked Kyra, she was an awesome heroine. I'm not always fond of female thief characters, but I really liked her. She didn't have an attitude, acted human, and actually acted like a real thief would. I liked the fact she was not originally a good fighter, thieves rarely are, they usually run, so she was an understandable character, and her sisterly relationship with Flick was awesome, as well as the fact she looked after the orphan children on the streets. I gotta love a character who looks after the orphans! Likewise, Tristam was a very likable character as well. He was an honorable gentleman, but he did what he had to do, and was smart, and simply an enjoyable character to read about. James was a nasty piece of work, I loved to hate him, and that's always a good thing, it means the author did the job right. The demon riders were cool characters and I thought an interesting concept. I won't say more about them, but I liked them.

The Romance: There is a little bit of romance, as is probably obvious, between Kyra and Tristam. But I didn't mind it, and while I'm not entirely sure yet whether I felt it was a little too soon for them to realize their feelings for each other by the end of this book, it definitely isn't insta-love, so I didn't hate it, and I do like them together. They didn't let it cloud their judgement too badly.

Writing Style: The writing style is really good. It's fast paced, and has good descriptions, I was easily able to picture the settings and characters, very vividly. I liked how it's told from a third person prospected but alternates between Krya and Tristam. I also liked the world, kind of maybe 17th century Europe feel to it, and it works.

Accuracy/ Believability: While this is a fantasy, I think that as far as story structure went, the believability worked out well. Kyra fought believably as a female, she had trouble going up against men larger than her which isn't saying anything against her abilities, it's just a fact of life. The politics of this world with the different classes of people was believable and also the fact that women weren't running things made it seem historically accurate, unlike most stories of this nature. I was very impressed with it over all.

Problems/What bothered me: No real problems here. It was an enjoyable book.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I really enjoyed this and I look forward to seeing what the author comes up with in the future. I would love to read more about Kyra and Tristam. Very good for a debut novel!

Recommended Audience: Girl read, ages 14 and up, I would say that even though it's not exactly like it, that Rangers Apprentice fans would probably enjoy this.