Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Loki's Wolves

In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarök, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.

When I heard that Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr were co-writing a novel, I didn't even care what the novel was about. They've long been my favorite authors, so I knew whatever they came up with would be brilliant. And... I was right! Loki's Wolves is the first book in their middle grade series, The Blackwell Pages. It follows Matt (a descendant of Thor) and Fen and Laurie (descendants of Loki) as they try to save the world.

Matt finds out early on that Ragnarök is upon them. The end of the world. And it's up to Matt, a middle schooler, to save everyone. If he can't stop Ragnarök, most everyone on Earth will die and an ice age will be upon them. When he finds out that his family might not want to stop the end of the world, he takes off to find the other descendants of the Norse gods to help him.

I really enjoyed this book. One of the best things about reading a book by Melissa Marr based in folklore or mythology is that I know it was done right. Melissa knows her stuff when it comes to lore, and I appreciate that. I love folklore and mythology, and nothing bugs me more than when it's screwed up.

Both Melissa and Kelley are amazing storytellers, and together they've created a fun, fast-paced book. It might be shelved in Middle Grade, but it can definitely be enjoyed by all ages. Pick this one up. You won't regret it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: A Modern Witch

Can you live 28 years without discovering you're a witch? — Lauren is downtown Chicago's youngest elite realtor. She's also a witch. She must be - the fetching spell for Witches' Chat isn't supposed to make mistakes. So says the woman who coded the spell, at least. — The tall, dark, and handsome guy sent to assess her is a witch too (and no, that doesn't end the way you might think). What he finds in Lauren will change lives, mess with a perfectly good career, and require lots of ice cream therapy.

I found A Modern Witch by Debora Geary while playing around on Goodreads. It sounded like something I'd enjoy since I love most things witchy. And then a good friend said she loved the series. So I bought it and read it. It was enjoyable, and I liked the characters. But it was slow. The beginning was confusing, starting with a scene where one of the guys told his sister she should go with the red lingerie. Whut?

There was no build up and no climax. The closest thing to a climax happened about 60 pages from the end, so the last 50 pages felt like filler. Like a short story/novella that would fall between novels one and two. I kept wondering why there were more pages since it seemed like the story was over.

While I enjoyed the characters, they were all happy, all the time. There was no conflict between anyone. While I'm not a fan of lots of arguing and drama, a bit of tension here or there would've been more realistic. Even the one sad scene was almost cheery. And the happy all the time stuff sometimes came off cheesy. It was definitely a fluffy, feel good book.

There were several kids in the novel, but I'm going to focus on Aervyn, since he was a big part of the story. He's a four-year-old. There was nothing about him that was believable as a four-year-old. I get that he's going to be the most powerful witch of his time, but he read more as seven or eight. Another issue I had... He had no rules to follow, no consequences for his behavior. He teleported his almost nine-year-old sister from the shower to the backyard nekkid and mom laughed it off. If he's going to be powerful, he needs to learn boundaries. As someone who has spent a lot of time around small children, he needed to be more believable for me.

There were a lot of weird reactions to things. For example, one of the female characters said one of the guys was making her uncomfortable. His response was, "Usually I like hearing that from a woman." Again, whut? A lot of the issues I had were small, nit-picky things, but these things took me out of the story. And they happened way too often. Also, it's not a good thing when my favorite thing about the book is the cover. Which I LOVE, by the way.

Despite these few complaints, I did enjoy it enough to read book two. But I'm not dying to get to it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Cinder

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I picked up Cinder by Marissa Meyer shortly after it hit the shelves. I love faery tales, and faery tale retellings, but Cinderella isn't my favorite. However, when I heard that Cinderella was going to be a cyborg, I knew I had to read it. The cyborg element gave the story a new and unusual twist, that I know hadn't been done before.

Like so many of my books, I let it sit on my shelf for too long. This happens when there are too many unread books to choose when picking out a new one. And like so many, I wish I had picked it up sooner. I absolutely loved it. Chapter One starts with Cinder, a gifted mechanic, sitting at her booth in the market, waiting for a customer to bring by something for her to fix. And while she's waiting, she removes her tiny, rusted foot, excited that her assistant Iko is on her way with a new one. And who shows up, but Prince Kai, asking for Cinder to fix his android. She certainly can't turn him away.

I really enjoyed Cinder and Prince Kai. There was something between them from the beginning. But in New Beijing, cyborgs as seen as "less than." So she hides her true self from him. This book is a good mix of futuristic sci-fi with dystopian elements and faery tale. The society is still working on building itself up, and the Lunar Queen wants nothing but destruction. Prince Kai and Cinder work together to prevent the queen from getting what she wants.

The stepmother and stepsisters from the original Cinderella play a big role in Cinder's life. But other than the characters, and the ball at the palace, there isn't much pulled from old tale. I definitely think that helped me to like the story more, as it was much more exciting and interesting than an ordinary girl falling for a prince, and vice versa. Iko, Cinder's android assistant, was my favorite character in the book. She was so much fun!

The most unfortunate part of the book, the thing that kept me from giving it a full five stars, is that I figured out a major reveal very early on. I don't think there was much Marissa Meyer could have done differently to avoid that. It was just really obvious. And it did detract a bit from my enjoyment of the book. The next book in the series, Scarlet, is out, and I'm hoping to read it soon! I'm also hoping to read "Glitches", the prequel short, and "The Queen's Army" (story 1.5) before that.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Clockwork Mafia (and giveaway)

Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father's duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can't resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal.

His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason's strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands.

With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He'll have to win over Henrietta's trust, and her heart, before it's too late...

I was so excited to get my hands on Clockwork Mafia by Seleste deLaney... since I loved Badlands so much. In Badlands, we're introduced to Ever and the crew of the Black Hawk, including Spencer (the captain), Zeke, Mahala, and Henrietta (a doctor). In Clockwork Mafia we get to learn more about Henrietta. I was a bit concerned, since I didn't much care for her character in Badlands, but it turns out I enjoyed her and her story even more than Ever's.

Henri is odd and eccentric. So, of course, I should like her. But those qualities are problematic for her. She's grown up in Victorian London, or rather the steampunk version of it, and she's expected to be a proper lady. She needs to find a suitable husband, but that's just not her. Another thing we have in common! She's a doctor and has a knack for inventions.

In Clockwork Mafia the mob is after Henrietta. After her father's death, they need to get his work from her. But she's also got Carson (a marshal) and St. Clair (a lawyer) following her to get their hands on her father's work as well. I loved Carson from the moment he stepped into the first scene. He's a hero and possibly the only way Henrietta can survive the mob. Unfortunately, Henri's heart wants the one person who would not be a good match for her in society's eyes. That would be the lawyer.

This book not only has romance, but also action and adventure and a fun cast of characters. The world that Seleste created is so much fun with the airship and clockwork contraptions. We get to see the characters we love from the Badlands but has someone else stepping up as leading lady. I loved this book so much, that I'm giving one away. Enter to win an ebook copy of Clockwork Mafia by Seleste deLaney below. And if you win, and don't have Badlands, I'll throw that one in, too.

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