Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: "Cress" by Marissa Meyer

Title/Author: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, fairy tale retelling
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I've really enjoyed this series from the beginning, and this book was no exception. I continue to love the cast of characters and the new additions and this one particularly had a very classic adventure flair to it.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I love the covers for this series, so pretty yet simple.

Characters: I still loved all the characters I liked previously, Cinder is still awesome, Iko is adorable (definitely my favorite android character ever) and though Scarlet and Wolf weren't in this one quite as much, I still really love them too. Thorne is fast becoming my favorite character, probably. I can't resist loving the characters who are rogues yet still good men. I also really loved Cress, I felt she was a good edition to the group. Since Cinder and Scarlet are two pretty prominent heroines, I liked how Cress is more shy and sweet but still very skilled in hacking and she's strong enough to step up to the plate when she needs to. Lavina is still evil, and Sybil was fun to hate as well. I was interested with the introduction of Winter in this one, I really have no idea what to think of her yet, but I know she's going to make an awesome character.

The Romance: Okay, yes, there is essentially insta-love between Thorne and Cress, or at least on Cress's end, but it actually works here, because it's more fanciful than anything, and she's kind of naive and hasn't had a lot of human interaction. It didn't bother me. Apart from that, really not much romance to speak of. This one was mostly action packed. But I did really end up enjoying Thorne and Cress's relationship and I think it's cute. (view spoiler)

Writing Style: Same as the other books. Love the world building, and how the story is evenly balanced between characters and their development and storylines and the plotlines. It makes for an engaging read, and even though the book is long, it doesn't seem to drag.

Accuracy/ Believability: Despite being sci-fi, I actually to think that the situations of the story are pretty accurate to how they would really happen. It's a pretty well thought out plot for a sci-fi novel.

Problems/What bothered me: Really didn't have any problems, I enjoyed the book.

Conclusion: 4 of 5 stars. Really enjoyed this one, and am very much looking forward to the next one! Can't wait!

Recommended Audience: Readers of the first two, obviously. I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so I don't know a lot of recs, but if you love fairy tale retellings and want something different, these work. Girl or guy read ages 16 and up

(Read review with spoilers on Goodreads

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

Happy Spring everyone! I hope all you northern folks are either getting spring or will soon :-) We've already had 80s here in Florida, and you can have it for all I care. The moment I put my sweaters away, I die a little inside.

But in honor of spring, I am going to clear a little of my shelf space and give away some of my own books which I have several copies laying around of so I can jump start someone's spring reading list!

I will be giving away a copy of Wolfsblood my latest novel a historical paranormal novel, On a Foreign Field my historical novel about William Wallace, and A Case of Poisons my steampunk mystery. So if you like Roman werewolves, Scottish rebels and steampunk and murders by poison, enter the giveaway! All copies will be signed and personalized and I'll throw some extra bookmarks and goodies in as well. You have until next Saturday (the 28th) to enter. Let your friends know too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day 2015!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all! Sásta Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Wear your green and listen to Irish music, try some traditional food. I hope everyone has a grand day :-)

Last year, I introduced what was then my new project Blood Ties a novel set in modern Ireland, but with an ancient and mythical twist. I'm expecting to publish it sometime this summer, but until then, I wanted to give you another teaser to wet your taste buds, so here's an excerpt in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

(R to L: Riordan, Keevan, Caitlin, Ciran, Tierney, Deaglan)

“Goblin patrol!”
            I spun around, sliding my sword from over my shoulder and hearing the answering rasps of my companions’ weapons. Keevan had his shield up and was already in a crouch as I watched the goblins racing up the hill toward us. I did a quick count. There were six. They were missing half their men and a couple of the goblins in this group I recognized from the fight before, having fought them myself, so they couldn’t have just left their wounded. I had a bad feeling the others had gone to intercept Riordan and Deaglan. Maybe they had been watching us the whole time. I could have smacked myself for my incompetence, but there was no time for that.
            “Shoulder to shoulder,” I told them. “There’s only two more than us, we can take them.”
            But the terrain was uneven and wet from the waterfall spray, and as I planted my feet I did not feel the reassuring firmness I liked best in a fight. The goblins charged at us, and thankfully we had the high ground. Keevan took out the first one, just by smashing a shield into his chest and sending him skidding down the damp hillside. Another goblin who had been at the first’s shoulder growled and charged the young Finar with his sword raised above his head. Keevan blocked the blow and staggered back and that was all I saw of that fight, before I was occupied with one of my own.
            A goblin charged me and I recognized him as the one who had tried to shoot Caitlin before. However, this time his bow was slung across his back and he was using a kind of long, deadly looking dagger and carried a small shield. I blocked his first blow with my sword but had to reverse my left arm and take the next on the back of my bracer, feeling a bruise already forming from the force of the blow. I kicked out at him and caught him in the chest, forcing him back several paces as I too leapt backwards, trying to distance myself from the goblin. The movement only caused him to charge me again with even more ferocity and smash his shield into my shoulder, rolling me several paces as I fell with a grunt.
            I nearly lost my sword, but gripped it tighter, and flung myself back onto my feet as he raced toward me again, his blade held ready to stab me.
            I hadn’t realized until then how close I was to the waterfall but only had a moment to let the potential danger of my position register before I was engaged in a life or death struggle again.
            “No where left to run, half blood!” the goblin said with a chuckle, jerking his chin toward the drop off behind me. I grinned and tossed my hair out of my eyes.
            “If I fall, I’m taking you with me,” I told him, swinging my sword in a figure-eight before pointing it at him and motioning him forward with a casual flick of my fingers. “Come on then. What are you waiting for?”
            He smiled tolerantly before he clashed his sword against his shield and leapt off a rock, flying at me through the air and bringing me down. I let his momentum carry him over my head with the help of my boot in his gut but he just rolled when he fell and was on his feet in an instant, even though he was winded, and lunged at me with a growl.
            I grabbed his wrist to keep his blade from my throat and he grabbed my sword arm as well and was pushing me back, closer to the drop—how far down it really was I’d had no time to find out.
            There was a moment when I couldn’t quite believe the fact I was grappling on the brink of a waterfall just like in an overblown action movie, but yet there I was and Keevan wasn’t far behind, still facing off with the same goblin he had been before, who was driving him hard. I couldn’t see where Tierney and Caitlin were because I was a bit too busy for that at the moment, but hoped they were not in as precarious a position as I was or worse.
            There was a sudden yell and, forgoing all training I had ever had, I looked over with concern to see Keevan slipping off his rock and falling down with the rushing water, the goblin he had been fighting going with him.
            I would have screamed for him, even knowing it wouldn’t have done anything, but I was suddenly slammed in the face by the hilt of my opponent’s sword. I teetered back on the precipice but gained my balance just before I received another strike that knocked the sword out of my wet hand. I kicked out at the goblin, but he caught my leg and I knew then, with horror, that this was it. He grinned, knowing as well, and I flailed my arms as he pressed me back. The only thing I could do now was take him with me, but I didn’t even get that chance.
            “Have a nice swim, Finar,” the goblin jeered, before he let me go and I fell backwards. 

Hope you enjoyed the teaser :-) Come back to the blog Friday when I will be posting a Spring giveaway for several of my books! 

Let me know if you're doing anything fun for St. Patrick's Day!

May the road rise up to meet you,

Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: "Scorpion Mountain" by John Flanagan

Title/Author:  Scorpion Mountain (Brotherband Chronicles #5) by John Flanagan
Genre: YA fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars
Synopsis: From John Flanagan, author of the worldwide bestselling Ranger's Apprentice -- an all-new adventure featuring the Brotherband crew and one of our favorite Rangers!

Hal, his Brotherband crew, and the Ranger Gilan have freed the twelve Araluens sold into slavery. Returning to Araluen, Gilan is given a new mission by King Duncan: protect his daughter’s life. Princess Cassandra has survived one attempt on her life already, and now whispers of a second attempt have reached the kingdom. A deadly sect known as the Scorpion Cult is thought to be behind the assassination threat.

Not waiting to see if the knife will strike true, the Brotherband again team up with Gilan to track down the would-be killers.

In this fifth book in the Brotherband Chronicles, old friends reemerge to take on new enemies as the worlds of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband join forces in battle!


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I am still enjoying this series, I'm a huge John Flanagan fan, so I will always read and enjoy his books, but I had hoped this one would exceed the last one, and it didn't really, so I was a bit disappointed, I'll admit.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I'm undecided whether I like the new covers or not. I think I liked the old ones better, but there's nothing wrong with it either. I do like the knotwork on the spines.

Characters: Pretty much, my opinion of all the characters has not changed. I still like Hal, I'm still indifferent about Lydia, I love seeing Gilan again, he was always a favorite character; Thorn is still awesome, I can't help but like him. For the little bit Cassandra/Evanlyn was in this book she still managed to annoy me. I was mostly disappointed with the villains in this book. I always felt that the Ranger's Apprentice series had some awesome villains, even if they were cliche on occasion (the books kind of are, but I love that, classic adventure) but in the Brotherband books, apart from the baddie in the first three (forgot his name) these last two have just been disappointing. Especially since we went through three or four of them in this one. Baddies are important, not to be taken lightly.

The Romance: Still nothing, thankfully, I'm still dreading a love triangle between Lydia, Hal and Stig, but so far nothing.

Writing Style: I'm going to have to be honest here, there's nothing really wrong with John Flanagan's writing style in these books, but I just can't help but feel they're a little less shall we say polished as the first three and especially the Ranger books. I just don't think they have the same quality as the Ranger series, and that makes me sad. I think he needs to try something new. These last two books were huge and yet, nothing really seems to happen, and I never feel like the characters are in danger anymore. Like the Ranger books would actually have me on the edge of my seat; I haven't felt like that reading the last couple Brotherband books. Even The Royal Ranger despite the fact I didn't care overmuch for Maddie had the quality of writing and story crafting that the other books did, but these just don't. In my opinion. I still enjoy these books, but not in the same way I devoured the Ranger series.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable really. Except their escapes are actually getting dull. I would love to see more angst and, yes, if it doesn't sound too mean, wounds and whump. A little more danger would be much appreciated.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from the things already mentioned, nothing else.

Conclusion: 3 stars. A fun read, though I think it could have been shorter, as it dragged with the same old stuff all the other Brotherband books had. Fun to pass the time though.

Recommended Audience: Girl or guy read 12 and up, fans of John Flanagan. But Start with Ranger Apprentice series if you haven't read any of his yet.