Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review: A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

Title: A Perfect Blood (Hollows #10)
Author: Kim Harrison
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: 02/21/2012
ISBN: 0061957895

It's coming down to the wire now, folks. After this book there's only 2 more books left to the series, with the potential of a bonus book afterwards. I ended up getting this through eBay and I have to say, it was money well spent. Harrison is worth spending money on.

Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth — a would-be creator is determined to make his (or her) own demons. But it can’t be done without Rachel’s blood.

As a bounty hunter, Rachel has battled vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, and more. But humanity itself might be her toughest challenge.

Things are heating up in this book and I mean that in multiple ways. First off, the tensions between the Inderlanders and certain factions of humanity are heating up. There's always been a portion of humanity that hated the Inderlanders and wanted them wiped off the face of the earth, so it's no surprise that Harrison would eventually revisit this idea. What's being done in this book is actually pretty chilling, and HAPA (Humans Against Paranormals Association) is a pretty lethal force here. I've never wanted to reach through a book and slug someone as much as I did in this book.

Secondly, things are heating up between Trent and Rachel. I know that none of us forgot the kiss from Pale Demon, and neither has Rachel. Her hormones are kicking in big time, but I'll warn you: there's not a lot of progress on this front in either direction, but then any progress is good progress. I have a feeling that whatever might ultimately come out of this relationship, it'll probably happen in book 12 and not a page sooner. There is some friendship brewing here, which is good since Rach needs someone who can keep up with her and understand where she's coming from. But regardless of whether or not they end up in a relationship, the tension between the two is so palpable that I'm beginning to think that they'll have to end up in bed together just to relieve it and get it over with. However, there's also the introduction of another potential interest in this book, although I'm not sure what chances he'll have against the Rachel/Trent combo. (Then again, I'm a fangirl of Rachel and Trent, so I tend to think this way about any other guy that comes into her life.)

There's a definite feel of loose ends beginning to get tied up and it's a good feeling. Harrison might have had a bit of a slump mid-series, but this is the Hollows that I fell in love with early on in the series and couldn't get enough of. It's good enough to make me want to re-read the series and is a worthy successor to Pale Demon. Oh, and the minor characters in this book rock. Hard. We finally see Rachel get her pack tattoo (a mild spoiler, but one we all knew was coming) and her tattoo artist is interesting enough to get a spinoff book of her own. (A tattoo artist that works on Inderlanders and humans? There's some material for you right there!)

And before anyone asks, yes Al is in this book. And of course he's awesome. Al is always awesome, even when you want to punt kick him across the room. His interactions with Rachel- and especially his last actions of the book- make me wonder where Harrison is going to go with his character next. There's a lot of potential here for him to be bad in the future, all with incredibly interesting results. I honestly can't wait for the next book to come out so I can see what'll happen next.

If you loved the last book, you'll really love this one. It's a fun ride and I had a blast reading this book.

5 out of 5 stars

Sony Reader WiFi: Want!

I've been trying to postpone my e-reader's inevitable demise, mostly because I'm a Sony fangirl but also because I'm not really head over heels for any of the other competition out there. Either it doesn't have a memory slot (something that probably isn't necessary but a feature I enjoy), it's backlit (hurts my eyes), and/or it's so expensive that I just can't bring myself to really get it (looking at you, iPad).

So in any case, I just discovered the newest Sony reader: the Sony Reader WiFi.

As you can see in the picture, it's a touch screen. I'm not entirely fond of touch screens (mostly because of fingerprints), but it is a pretty nice looking device. It also has a micro SD slot and you don't even have to rip off the back of the unit to insert it like you do in the Nook readers! It's also WiFi, which means that I'd be able to download books from the Sony storefront AND go through their library service, which seems like it'd make it way easier to get books from the library. (It looks to be a storefront for libraries, for lack of a better definition.) It seems like right now Sony has the easiest way to get library books, so if you know that you'll be doing a lot of e-reading through libraries, this is definitely an e-reader to check out.

Engadget has a really great and in-depth review (click here to see it) that has a ton of pictures, and it looks like the size of this unit is comparable to both the Kobos reader as well as to one of the Kindles. That's where I read about the library feature as well as a feature where you can draw/scribble/write/doodle in your e-reader.

What's really great about this is that I noticed that the price point is only $99. This makes it more expensive than the Kindle with ads, but close enough to where the leap up wouldn't be that much of a hardship- ESPECIALLY with the easy library option. I know that people have said that the ads aren't that intrusive on the Kindle, but I have a pretty big problem with spending $80+ on an e-reader that contains ads (there's more than one model with this feature). If I'm going to have ads popping up for as long as I own the product, shouldn't the selling price be lower? After all, Amazon is going to be making some major moolah from selling the ad space to various companies, especially when considering that even after they make $80 from your sale they'll be continuously getting new offers from companies interested in advertising on your reader. (A multi-million dollar advertising feature at the very least should make the most basic reader $50 to make it really worthwhile.)

I have to say, I'm leaning towards staying with Sony after reading about this. I was a bit worried that Sony was being too much of a stick in the mud about e-readers and not being competitive enough, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Charlaine Harris shows her grace while Entertainment Weekly shows poor taste

I'll admit that I don't really read Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series anymore. It's one of those series that I've drifted away from somewhere along the line and just didn't have the time or desire to pick back up again, although there is still an interest.

I remember hearing some disappointment over Charlaine Harris' latest book in the Sookie series, Dead Reckoning, but there was still enough buzz to where the book was relatively well received by a decent amount of fans and critics.

Recently Entertainment Weekly listed Dead Reckoning as one of the worst books of 2011, which to be honest I found in poor taste. Even Harris herself admits that the book wasn't her best, but she says that she had read worse this year.

I just found EW's post to be in poor taste because if they'd done any sort of research, they'd realize that Harris suffered a great loss during the writing of this book. Her mother had been suffering from a long illness and had passed away while Harris was working on the book, which had to have taken a huge toll on her. While this doesn't completely excuse the book (since it was published, after all), I would have thought that EW would have looked into Harris enough to see that there were external influences on her life beyond her control and quietly chose another author to lambast as the "worst of". It might not have made DR any better, but I think that it deserved better than this.

One of the Sookie/True Blood fansites has a picture of the EW article, which lists Harris' book among people such as the Kardashians and Snooki. I just have to say that most of the justification behind this nomination seems to be that people were disappointed with the book and underwhelmed, not that it was exceptionally bad. I've read the Snooki book and I can't imagine Harris writing anything as bad as A Shore Thing.

In true Southern grace, Harris took to her own blog to write about her opinions about the matter. She does admit frustration, but vows that she will work harder to put out better quality work. This is pretty much the epitome of a trooper in my opinion and makes me respect her that much more.

All I can say for Entertainment Weekly is that with so many other famous authors releasing books that have been sub-par (where's Laurell K Hamilton's vote for "worst of" for any of her previous or current books?), it's pretty poor form to choose a book that was written during the death of a loved one. Shame on you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: Mesmerize by Artist Arthur

Title: Mesmerize (Mystyx #4)
Author: Artist Arthur
Publisher: Kimani Tru (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373534647
Release Date: 01/24/2012

Things come to a head in this book for our little Mystyx gang, but I'll warn you: there is still more to come in this series. I'll try to keep the spoilers in this review to a minimum, but some of the stuff that happens here is pretty big.

You can’t move forward until you deal with the past…

Starting over is nothing new to diplomat’s daughter Lindsey Yi. She’s grown up changing schools the way other girls change clothes. Still, moving to Lincoln, Connecticut, is different. Although she’s still reeling from the loss of her parents in an accident, Lindsey is finally in a place that feels like home. Because here, Lindsey’s ability to read other people’s thoughts doesn’t make her weird. It makes her one of the Mystyx.

When Dylan Murphy—hot, popular and a senior—starts to notice her, things get serious, fast. But even as she’s figuring out how she really feels, the Mystyx realize that they’re not the only supernaturals in town. There are other gifted teens who have different motives. And they are hoping to get close enough to the Mystyx to convert them—and the world—to Darkness…

First off, I'll warn people that you might be surprised at some of the events in this book. We do get to see a whole new side of Lindsey, but it comes at a very serious cost for our main characters. I have to admit that I was pretty sad to see certain things in the book happen, but all things considered it made sense that things like this would potentially happen- especially considering all of the pain and loss that everyone has had to go through earlier in the series.

There's a big confrontation in this book and initially I thought that this might have been the end of the series, although there is still another book and enough here is left open to where the series can go into an entirely new direction. I'm kind of digging the way it ended, to be honest. I think it'd be more interesting to see how these new story lines develop.

The only big problem I had with this book is that at times the action scenes felt like they went by a little too quickly. This does help give me the feeling that things are happening fast and furious, but I just wanted a little more detail and explanation in a few places. It just needed a little more time spent on these elements.

Overall this was a good read and one I'd recommend to fans of the series thus far. It's good to get a deeper glimpse into Lindsay's life, although I wish the actions scenes were a little more drawn out. (Especially the final battle of the book.) It's not my absolute favorite of the series, but the last few paragraphs has got me pretty excited for what might happen in the next entry.

3.5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)


Just to let you guys know, you still have plenty of time to win a copy of this book through the contest I'm hosting! This is something that I would recommend as a read, especially a signed copy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Excerpt: Mesmerize by Artist Arthur

Hi everyone! I'm excited to be able to let you have a sneak peek at the next book in the awesome Mystyx series by Artist Author! I'm in the process of reading it inbetween study sessions for finals and let me just tell you, it's pretty cool. I've always been curious about Lindsey and have been waiting for her book for a good long time. I'd say more about the book but I don't want to spoil it for you, so on with the excerpt!

Oh, and by the way... there's an extra bit of awesomeness going on here. Not only do you get to have a sneak peek at the book, but you also get a chance to win a signed copy of the book! Is this an excellent Christmas gift or what?

This contest will run until December the 30th!

© Artist Arthur, 2011

The last time I was out here the moon was huge and it was blue or it had a bluish tint. There was something in the air that night, something I’d never felt before. Until now.

There’s no breeze but the air around chills all of a sudden, so much so that when I breathe out my mouth frost smoke billows in front of me. My arms instantly prickle with chill bumps and I lift my hands to rub them. I keep walking with no real destination in mind. Actually, there is a destination—towards this feeling.

It’s a deep longing, like something inside me reaching out for whatever is out there. Through the taller grass and patch sand/dirt mixture I keep walking. The feeling’s stronger now, my breath pants with the effort of containing it because I’m not walking fast at all. My gaze stays in front of me even though it’s really hard to see anything it’s so dark out here. Dank air filters through my nostrils as I press against memories that threaten to distract me.

The wind stirs and whips my hair around my face. Usually this would bother me, the many wisps itching my fair skin. Tonight, I don’t mind. Nothing can break my stride, nothing can stop this longing ache that seems to be headed towards its sweet relief. My chest rises and falls, up, down, up, down, steady breaths producing a steady heartbeat that grows louder and louder as I get closer.

Above the tall branches of trees bend and whine in protest to the wind’s powerful pull. I step right into the forest without a care what may be beyond the perimeter. It’s even darker here and something scratches my cheeks, bare arms and stabs into my feet. But I keep going.
I can’t stop. It’s calling me, pulling me, needing me.

A great gust of wind howls in my ears just before knocking me flat on my face. Twigs dig into my face and the palms of my hand as I scramble to get up. It’s relentless, this wind that’s whipping so strong around me until I feel like I’m inside a funnel cloud. The only difference is I’m not being sucked up, but pressed further into the earth. I cough out a breath trying to breathe. It feels like something’s standing on my back, pressing me down, down, down. My nails dig into the round snapping twigs, scraping against hardened dirt and I open my mouth to yell but no sound comes out.

Now I think I should be afraid, I should be ready to get up and run as fast as I can from whatever is going on deep in this forest. But the longing’s still there, the feeling that something wants me here, that I belong here is even stronger, like a huge lump in my throat pressing its way down. Trees are breaking, falling to the ground with a loud rumble. The ground shakes with an angry burp and I struggle once again to stand. It’s a futile effort, I’m just not strong enough to fight against this wind. At least I think if I could just stand, to actually hold my head up and see what’s going on, maybe I could get away. All I can manage is to turn my head but that motion earns the stark pain of something cutting across my face. Tears burn my eyes as helplessness takes over and tiny edges of panic outline my mind. I’m going to die here in the middle of the forest, wearing only my NY Yankees night shirt.

Want to know what happens to Lindsey next? Reply to this post and be registered to win a signed copy of Mesmerize.

If you haven't read it already, make sure to check out Mutiny, a novella set between books 2 and 3 of the series. It's set from Franklin's POV, so definitely make sure to check it out. It's definitely worth reading and best of all... it's free! Just download a copy via Amazon ,Barnes & Nobles, or from the Harlequin ebook store!

For more information about Artist Arthur or any of the books in the Mystyx series, check out the official website!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book Review: The Lost Goddess by Tom Knox

Title: The Lost Goddess
Author: Tom Knox
Publisher: Penguin USA
Release Date: 01/19/2012
ISBN: 0670023183

If you're looking at this book and expecting a read along the lines of Dan Brown or James Rollins, look elsewhere. While Knox does try to expand on the wildly popular idea of the anthropological thriller, he fails to deliver the compulsive read his fellow authors have managed to bring to the table.

In the silent caves beneath France, young archaeologist Julia Kerrigan unearths an ancient skull-with a hole bored through the forehead. After she reveals her discovery, her mentor is brutally murdered. Deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, photographer Jake Thurby is offered a mysterious assignment by a beautiful Cambodian lawyer who is investigating finds at the two-thousand-year-old Plain of Jars-finds that shadowy forces want kept secret.

From the temples of Angkor Wat and the wild streets of Bangkok to the prehistoric caves in Western Europe, what links Jake's and Julia's discoveries is a strange, demonic woman whose unquenchable thirst for vengeance-and the horrors she seeks to avenge- are truly shocking.

Now I do have to give credit where it's due. Rather than attempt to bring out the same ideas that have already been well trod, Knox manages to find a historical mystery that nobody seems to have written about yet: the Hands of Gargas and the Plain of Jars, two fascinating anthropological and social finds that are woefully underused in the world of fiction. In this aspect, Knox did a good job since these are things that would make for a good anthropological/sociological thriller.

However, where Knox flounders is in his penchant for overstating to the point of tedium. We're given themes, histories, and info dumps, which I admit are unavoidable in any book, but we're browbeaten by these elements until we're rolling our eyes at the occasionally overly dramatic and unnecessary prose. A good example would be how Knox uses the horrific atrocities that the Khmer Rouge made against the people of Cambodia. These elements are stated time and time again, occasionally at the expense of character development. We're told how communism is bad and how horrible the Khmer Rouge was, meanwhile the main characters seem to be little more than a platform for these views. While these viewpoints are valid, they just kept me from getting as invested in the characters as I'd wanted to be. That the plot jumps between different groups of characters doesn't help out either.

Then there's the ending. I won't elaborate, but I'll just say that the message in the end will be controversial to some readers. If it wasn't as subtle as Gallagher smashing a watermelon, Knox could have gotten away with it to where I don't believe anyone would have complained. Sometimes less is more and a briefer revelation with less exclamation would have driven the point in more than pages of exposition. It just diluted everything and made it more overzealous and annoying than thought provoking, making the ending (and the book in general) more of a chore to read than a joy.

Now, it isn't all bad. There are some good scenes in here and the general idea of the book is pretty darn intriguing. If Knox could have gone back and eased up on the overstating of ideas and focused more on the character development, this would have been an amazing read. It could have had at least 40-60 pages shaved off to make a tighter narrative. It's just that the book failed to deliver on its promise and while it might make for an OK library read, Knox still has a long way to go before he gets to Douglass and Preston levels.

1.7 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: Honey Badger Don't Care by Randall

Title: Honey Badger Don't Care
Author: Randall
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: 01/24/2012
ISBN: 1449419658

Honey badger might not care that it's become an internet sensation and now a must-read book, but you absolutely will! I had pretty high hopes for this book and I have to say, it didn't disappoint. If you aren't aware of the youtube video "Nastyass Honey Badger", then I'm going to include the video for your viewing pleasure. Be aware, there is adult language in this video.

If you've seen the video, you know what to expect. If not, then I'll clue you into the awesomeness that this book contains. While you probably won't hear Randall narrating his own show on Animal Planet anytime soon (although we can hope), this book is full of wonderful humor and great insights on animal life. Frankly put, this is a book about animals that's written for those of us who aren't into the long Latin names or dry paragraphs about animal habits. Randall condenses all of these facts into a few pages per animal and it's incredibly fun. If I wasn't won over by the honey badger entry at the beginning of the book, I was won over by the hilarity in the following ones.

I do have to warn parents that they'll probably want to read through this to go over the language and some of the phrases in the book. (One entry suggests that Don Knotts had erm, illicit relations with a bat, but in a non-malicious way.) It's all in good fun and none of it is malicious, but this won't be appropriate for some younger readers.

This was just awesome to read and would make for an excellent late-late Christmas gift. (Or a late Boxing Day gift. Or a Valentine's gift.)

5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)