Review: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

I feel like a jerk. Let’s just come out and say that steampunk is really not my thing. I find it hard to orient myself in a skewed version of history. I find myself wondering “okay, so what’s different from reality and what’s the same?”

All the same, I was mostly enjoying this book up until the Kiss. I just thought that a genteel young woman of the nineteenth century, like Eleanor, wouldn’t have been so…pushy, bold, brazen, whichever word you prefer. If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ve probably noticed that me having problems with the romantic elements is something of a trend. Romance seems to be where I get into trouble with most books. Anyway…

The plot:
Aside from my problems, I truly believe that this is a good book. I read it mostly while making dinner and it’s a miracle I didn’t burn anything. This book is fast paced, interesting, keeps you guessing, and leaves you hungry for the next. I liked Dennard’s twist on zombies.

The characters:
Eleanor was a strong, funny, yet relatable and lovable heroine. I rooted for her and appreciated that she had her vulnerabilities. Her loyalty to her brother was deeply touching (and something I related to, with three of my own!). She’s independent and has an endearing sense of humor. I’d certainly invite her to my slumber party!

I like to note the love interest, so let me talk about Daniel for a second. Daniel is often sarcastic to the point of rudeness and doesn’t overly respect the expectations of society. He has a chip on his shoulder and a guilty conscience over past wrongs, but is doing his best to make up for them.

The other characters were well-fleshed-out and believable. There all had their faults, flaws, and perfections. From Eleanor’s out-of-touch mother, to Clarence, the wealthy gentleman, they were all 3D. No cardboard here!

Ms. Dennard is a talented storyteller and I do look forward to reading more of her work in the future. If you like sassy girls in corsets, zombies, steampunk, or all of the above, give this one a go!

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Ten Characters I Would Vote For If They Ran For President

With the race for the President of the United states of America coming up, the airwaves have been bombarded with political message after political message. (Those of you who live outside the US, be grateful.) I just so happen to not like either candidate and I can think of ten individuals I would rather vote for. So without further ado, may I unveil my presidential nominations in ascending order.

10. John Carter of Mars

John Carter

Here’s a bloke who’s all action and no talk. A war hero who’s taken on the hordes of Green Martians, you couldn’t ask for a stronger personality. However, his strength is also his weakness and his rather martial mindset could be a problem during diplomatic state visits.

9. Peeta Mellark

Unlike Mr. Carter, Peeta has the gift of speech. He has a way of inspiring people which would be invaluable as a leader. He’s also cute.

8. Doctor Who

The Doctor would make a brilliant president. Clever, open-minded, and creative, he always knows what’s best. Though, he might find the restrictions of office to be a bit much, which is why he’s No. 8.

7. Dumbledore

Wise, patient, kind, from what I’ve seen, Dumbledore would be an awesome president, too.

6. Shepherd Book

Image source: http://www.fireflywiki.org/img/Book23.jpg

The retired black-ops specialist turned priest in Firefly would also be an excellent choice for his open-mindedness, cleverness, and sense of humor.

5. Armandius Caersynn

Armandius Plontagent Kirlistan Caersynn is strong, brave, and does a fine job as High Lord of Green Haven, so I say we vote him in.

4. Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander

As a Wizard of the First Order, we wouldn’t have to worry about a security detail for this president. Not to mention he would see to it that White House dinner parties always had excellent menus.

3. Prince Caspian

Do I really need to explain? Caspian is good-hearted, strong, patient, and tries to do the right thing. (I may have also had a crush on him at one point, but that’s irrelevant.)

2. Gandalf

Gandalf.jpg

Another president who wouldn’t need a security detail. And with the wisdom of centuries inside that head, who can protest his qualifications?

1. King Arthur

The Once and Future King would be the perfect president. He united All Britain, didn’t he? So long as we keep a look out for Morgan Le Fay and keep him from meeting Guinevere until after she hooks up with Lancelot, we’ll be fine.

So…who would you vote for?

Review: Captured (The Captive, #1) by Erica Stevens

Captured (The Captive, #1)

Blood Slave.
Captured, taken from her beloved family and woods, Aria’s biggest fear is not the imminent death facing her, but that she will be chosen as a blood slave for a member of the ruling vampire race. No matter what becomes of her though, Aria knows that she must keep her identity hidden from the monsters imprisoning her. She has already been branded a member of the rebellion, but the vampires do not know the true depth of her involvement with it, and they must never know. Though hoping for death, Aria’s world is turned upside down when a vampire named Braith steps forward to claim her. He delays her execution, but Aria knows it’s only a matter of time before he drains her, and destroys her. Especially once she learns his true identity as a prince within the royal family; the same royal family that started the war that ultimately brought down humankind, reducing them to nothing more than servants and slaves. Aria is determined to hate the prince, determined not to give into him in anyway, but his strange kindness, and surprising gentleness astonish her. Torn between her loyalties to the rebellion, and her growing love for her greatest enemy, Aria struggles to decide between everything she has ever known, and a love she never dreamed of finding.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

So, I saw a Goodreads ad for this book and was intrigued by the premise. I went and looked it up on Amazon and jackpot! It’s free! I downloaded it and read it and ADORED it.

The length of this story was perfect for me (about 180 pages). As a personal preference, I like being able to finish a book in an afternoon instead of over a weekend.

In a futuristic world where vampires have achieved rule over the humans, mankind is mostly reduced to menial positions of servitude to their immortal overlords. Still, a few rebels hide in the forests waging guerilla warfare against the vampires. The seventeen-year-old daughter of the rebel leader, Arianna, is captured in a raid and sold as a blood slave to the future vampire king.

Braith, the eldest of the three vampire princes, is fascinated with the human girl in spite of her annoying tendency to back talk and defy him at every turn. Arianna is sure Braith’s a monster like every other vampire she’s seen, but as time passes and he doesn’t force her to give him blood or anything else, she finds herself starting to like, maybe even trust him. But blood slaves are not meant to have long lives and time soon begins to run out for Arianna.

Anyway, this book was awesome. I mean, can you top a YA dystopian paranormal romance with VAMPIRES? Ha! I thought not. The writing style was beautiful and while there were some typos and formatting errors, they could not discourage me from gulping down this story with a gusto. Within minutes of finishing this book, I went and snagged the next one. So what are you waiting for? Go read this thing!
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Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

For lack of a better word—WOW!!!

This book was completely, totally, freakin’, AMAZING. I’ve found a new Favorite of All Time. Ms. Maas, you are officially one of my idols. I am now on a severe Reader’s High (a sense of lingering euphoria resulting from reading an outrageously good book).

I’ve had two copies of Throne of Glass on my shelf for a few weeks now, but haven’t picked either of them up because I’d read the novellas and knew that once I started it, I wouldn’t be able to properly function as a sane individual until I finished it. (And I was right.)

I started it in the afternoon and my eyeballs were practically glued to the book until I reached page 300-ish about 11:00 at night and I finally decided to go to sleep. But I couldn’t get the story out of my head and woke up at 3:30 in the morning dying to know what would happen. After tossing and turning for awhile, I broke down and read the final 100 pages while everyone else was properly asleep.

Once I finished it, I stayed awake for about another half hour, grinning like a moron and running over the awesomeness of the story in my head.

The plot:

The plot was quick paced and relentless, but not so fast I was emotionally exhausted by the end. There were places where I could stop and catch my breath, but the pace never came to a complete stop. Though a satisfying amount was explained at the end, there’s still plenty of questions unanswered and I’m very, very excited for the next book.

The characters:

Well, Celaena won me over for good by the second chapter of The Assassin and the Desert, yet she did it all over again here. She is the perfect blend of arrogant, vulnerable, kind, deadly, and strong. People, don’t you dare go comparing her to Katniss and Katsa, she is far more awesome.

Dorian was a likeable character, though I could get frustrated with him at times. (Which was just another thing that kept yours truly flipping the pages.) I found his moral struggles with foreign policy and his father’s conquering mentality to be very compelling and he was very helpful in providing the occasional ridiculous comment to soften the tone.

Okay, so I said I liked Dorian, which is true. But I’m still for Team Chaol, 100%. Chaol wasn’t nearly as prone to jealousy as the prince, which I thought was charming. He falls for Celaena against his better judgment. I admired his loyalty (even that to the King), his level-headedness, and his bravery. He’s also quite compassionate and kind under that gruff exterior.

Nehemia, the foreign princess who befriends Celaena, is another excellent character. Strong, intelligent, courageous, skilled in (spoiler), I think she is a great friend for Celaena and I look forward to seeing more of her.

Usually, I mention the bad guy in this paragraph. Problem is, there are about a half dozen to pick from. So I guess I’ll go with Dorian’s father, the King, since he seems to be the main baddie. The King reminds me of Darken Rahl from Legend of the Seeker. That means he is a wicked, powerful, evil character you just can’t wait to get bumped off and at the same time you’re morbidly fascinated by his seemingly pure evil nature. As far as villains go, the King is perfect. Celaena’s fear of him is completely understandable and I thought that was something else that made her relatable as a character (don’t we all have something we’re scared of?).

I am wondering about what’s going on with Arobynn Hamel and how life’s treating him. He’s mentioned a few times, but we’re not really sure about him. After reading the ending to The Assassin and the Empire, I’m vindictively hoping something unpleasant happens to him.

So that was a pretty long review. Well, what can I say? I’m entitled to gush. This book is the best I have read in a very, very long time and in my opinion, it leaves all the popular books I’ve read behind in a cloud of dust. In other words, go read it. Please, and then we can all gush about it. =)

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Review: The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragon Slayer, #1) by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

A friend loaned me this book for a road trip, thinking I would enjoy it. Man, did she think right!

Jasper Fforde’s writing is a glorious mix of moral messages and delightful humor. While we were driving, I would spontaneously burst into laughter and my brother would stare at me like I was nuts.

The plot:
The plot twisted and turned like a roller coaster. I was never really sure where it was going, but it was moving so fast and so well, that didn’t matter! I kept my eyes on the pages as we barreled along miles and highway and lost track of time!

The characters:
Jennifer Strange is sixteen, but has more responsibilities than many adults. She runs what is basically a group home for magicians, sorceresses, apparitions, ghosts, and things that no one’s really sure what they are. I adored her dry wit, her affable nature, her dedication to do the right thing no matter what, and her quarkbeast.

Quark, or simply “the quarkbeast,” is like a little shaggy terrier with razor-sharp spikes instead of fur, that eats metal as a main food group. He was an adorable, faithful, lovable addition to the scene and now I want a quarkbeast!

Tiger, who is more or less in training to take over Jennifer’s job in two years, is another cute addition to the cast.

There were plenty of other faces, King Snod, Magawon, Arthur the moose apparition, Maltcassion the Dragon…each brought something special to the story and each was enjoyable in his/her own way.

This was a great book! I was impressed with how the clean the ending was and I do hope you go look into it!

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EXCITING NEWS!!!

I  would like to announce something very, very exciting! I have just completed my first-ever novella and it will be published January 22, 2013!

image

Now it’s all rather hush-hush…

But what I can tell you is that the title is Fanged Princess, it’s about vampires,  there’s a good dose of romance, the cover reveal is going to be next month, and the main character is an eighteen-year-old vampire named Hadassah Chadwick (and I am very proud of myself for coming up with that name). You can even check it out on Goodreads, here! So, until November, guys can all be like…

Ta-ta!

Review: Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1) by Rachel Morgan

Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1)

1. Receive assignment.
2. Save a life.
3. Sleep.
4. Repeat.

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.

(A novelette)

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

 

Short book=Short review

I got into this book very easily and stayed hooked until it was done. Vi is determined, all-work-no-play kind of girl who is good at what she does and strives like no other to be the best. At the same time, there is an endearingly vulnerable side to her and I was kept on the edge of my seat watching the romantic sparring between her and Nate. This story ends in a cliff hanger that has left me dying for the next novella, and the others in this series are high on my to-read list. =)

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