Monday, March 31, 2014

The Way I See It by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
A fun novella composed of a collection of emails that records a girl’s unfortunate relationship faintly mirroring the Iliad in a high school drama complete with betrayal and tragedy.

The Way I See It: An Email Novella is a fun and engaging story told in an interesting layout. The story take place in early 2003 when social media and texting were not yet commonplace. A time when you had to directly email your friends, use chat rooms, post on forums, call on the phone or be in their physical presence to communicate *shudders*. It was amusing to read all the outdated internet slang, email host names, and common phrases.

I loved that each character had a very distinct voice in their modified dialogue even down to the way they wrote their emails. A majority of the action takes place off screen but the character narratives manage to support the plot and instill an amplified amount of emotion. The Way I See It: An Email Novella is a fun and engaging story told through a remarkable format.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye

★★★✩
A short, easy to read book full of quotes and the author’s personal anecdotes that encourage mindfulness, gratitude, patience, and compassion.

 Buddhist Boot Camp is a catchy title that has website branding and an online community behind its origin. The idea being that a person should practice what they learn. I felt the title misrepresented the book in many ways.

The book is simple and concise showcasing the author’s personal moments of enlightenment through brief thoughtful stories. The author states that he has studied Buddhism in addition to other religions but presents his ideas in a neutral comprehensive manner.

Buddhist Boot Camp is an easy to read book that may prove valuable to readers wanting a gentle reminder or seeking inspiration concerning mindfulness.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

★★★★★
An ambitious novel that weaves traditional Russian folk lore amid Russia’s turbulent history between 1930-1940. A girl becomes the bride of an immortal entity that rules a dark macabre realm and realizes she is repeating a story that has been played out many times before.

Deathless has poetic prose and the cadence of a classic legend. I felt the story had a deeper meaning that I wasn't quite able to grasp because of my limited knowledge of Russian culture, history and folk lore.

There are recurring themes and philosophies about life, death, love, loss, and war that makes the story hauntingly beautiful.

I enjoyed how the author interwove and reinterpreted creatures, entities, and stories from Russian folk lore and mythology.

 I also appreciated the respect and diligence the author undertook in providing a credible story from a different nationality.

I found the overall story to be incredibly sad, my soul aches and I’m sure it won’t leave my thoughts anytime soon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fearscape by Nenia Campbell

★★★★★
Fearscape is a suspenseful young adult novel about a teenage girl drawn to a mysterious, charming older boy who may also be the predatory stalker coveting her. This is the first book in the Horrorscape series.

Fearscape is an easy read with fluid writing in the style of the young adult genre. The contrasting dark themes enhanced the vulnerability of the main character creating an unsettling atmosphere.

The antagonist was wonderfully complex and disturbing. I enjoyed the head games and manipulation that forced the main character to become more than the sweet naive girl she started out as.

I was surprised by my inner fangirl being so enthusiastic about this book but I definitely look forward to reading the other books in this series.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.]

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Prosecutor by Adrienne Giordano

★★★★
A suspenseful romance novel about a woman gathering evidence to prove her brother’s innocence in a high profile murder case and ignore her growing attraction toward the prosecutor assigned to keep him in jail.

The Prosecutor is an engaging dramatic story with vivid characters. I particularly enjoyed the details and care the author took to create a believable law setting and mindset. I also enjoyed the fact that the romance complicated the story and situation. The Prosecutor is a fun, dramatic law story with great characters.

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads]

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

★★★★
A fantasy novel about an assassinated emperor’s three heirs unearthing the plot against their family while completing their separate personalized training. This is the first book in the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne.

The Emperor’s Blades has vivid description, incredible world building, intriguing philosophies and a subtle magic system. The narrative draws heavily from the hero’s journey plot pattern and archetypes. The story starts off slowly and a bit awkwardly for its lack of progress into the main issue.

The prose and action harmonize as it focuses on the difficult trials of a monk and an elite soldier. A third perspective gives insight into the political and religious state of the empire but is otherwise minimized. The three main characters conclude their personal story arcs while the threat against their lives and the empire increases. The Emperor’s Blades is a good introduction into the developing series.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chasing The Strawberry Moon by Judith A. Grout

★★★★
An embellished memoir about a teenage girl and her best friend hitchhiking across the western U.S. during the summer of 1939 oblivious to the vital role she is suppose to play in her hometown’s developing money laundering scheme.

Chasing The Strawberry Moon, Hitchhiking (for girls) is an elaborate memoir about coming of age during uncertain times. The historical context was masterfully showcased. The novel doesn't directly address the depression or coming war but there is this sense of foreboding that is echoed through some characters. Multiple characters provide different perspectives that help color the era in terms of lifestyle, status, priorities, and morals. The main character overcomes her naivete through meeting these other characters and contemplating her future. This profound historical social commentary was refreshing and felt authentic.

The novel was arranged from interwoven story lines that created a well rounded story. The characters were intriguing and propelled the story into interesting directions. The setting descriptions were vivid and concise. The dialogue was appropriate for the time period and helped to further immerse the reader. Chasing The Strawberry Moon, Hitchhiking (for girls) is a wonderful story with interesting characters and themes that transcend time.

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads]

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Release by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
An engaging sci-fi romance novel about a man burdened with an unintended passenger while pursuing retribution.

 Release is a soft sci-fi story with a sweet romance and a demented villain that adds a gruesome edge.

The world building provided an interesting political system and social structure that added depth to the story.

The sci-fi elements were uncomplicated which allowed smoother and continual action scenes.

Release is a fun, fast paced novel with compelling characters and a charming yet dark story.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Alpha And Omega by Patricia Briggs

★★★★★
An urban paranormal romance novella about the internal investigation of a werewolf pack due to murders and forced conversions.

It is the prequel to the Alpha and Omega series and also takes place between the second and third book of the Mercy Thompson series.

 Alpha and Omega is one of my favorite novellas. I love the characters and the descriptions of their werewolf characteristics. The story is engaging with great dialogue and character development.

Alpha and Omega makes a strong introduction to the series without alienating readers new to the established world.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

★★★★★
An imaginative fantasy novella about an imprisoned talented forger who must replicate the soul of a vacant emperor in a 100 days or die.

The Emperor’s Soul is an engaging story with an intriguing magic system and interesting characters.

I particularly enjoyed the underlying commentary on artistry and the human condition.

Once Upon A Changeling by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
A fun paranormal young adult novel about a teenage boy stuck with a reputation and child that aren't his. To complicate matters the child he’s been raising is actually a faerie stand-in while the original is set to be sacrificed in the fae realm.

Once Upon A Changeling is amusing and fast-paced with an interesting take on faerie and changeling folk lore. The characters are interesting and the high school setting helped fuel the drama.

I loved the main character and couldn't help feeling frustrated and indignant on his behalf. The story was both a mystery and adventure as the characters tried to find the child’s father and gain entrance to the fae dominion.

Once Upon A Changeling is an engaging and enjoyable story with a refreshing take on faerie folk lore.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

★★★★✩
A dark intriguing novel about an aging rock star that has to deal with the repercussions of purchasing a ghost with a vendetta.

Heart Shaped Box is a story with rich descriptive prose. In the beginning I felt the prose was a bit convoluted and it took me a quarter of the book to get used to the author’s style. The detailed prose controlled the pacing of the story allowing a deeper sensory immersion.

I felt an odd disconnection with the main character perhaps because he was in his head most of the time with very little dialogue. I ended up caring more for his dogs and the secondary characters. All the characters had interesting back stories that I enjoyed reading about.

The horror elements were heavy in the beginning bordering on surreal then dulled to interweave with the more mundane atrocities humans are capable of. The vivid details and symbolism left a strong impression. Overall, I enjoyed the story and was surprised by the pleasant ending.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

He's Come Undone by Theresa Weir

★★★★★
A new-adult romance novel about a broke former child actress hired by a group of college girls to break the heart of the campus player.

He’s Come Undone has a familiar setup but I assure you it is very different from the film, ‘John Tucker Must Die’. The characters are complex and I liked that they all had a distinct voice within their given chapters.

What I loved most is that the reader was presented with the male and female mental prospective of the situation. I was also pleasantly surprised by the depth given to both main characters. The characters’ personalities and backstory were revealed in a manner that came across with an authentic natural ease.

The story itself was engaging and well paced running the spectrum of fun, sweet, amusing, dark, and angsty. He’s Come Undone is a wonderful romance that is well composed and transcends the cliche’ setup of its blurb.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ratcatcher by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
A dark paranormal novel about a rock star and his supporters trapped within the scheme of a demonic entity. It’s a unique macabre reinterpretation of the classic tale, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.”

Ratcatcher is an amazing horror story about the price of obsession. It has a vivid portrayal of musicianship that highlights the artistry in addition to the hazards of fame.

The characters are wonderfully complex and constantly develop through out the story. The plot was intricate and engaging with remarkable description.

I particularly enjoyed how the paranormal elements were gradually woven in creating a more mysterious and suspenseful story.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ratcatcher and the ending had me dazed in astonishment.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs

★★★★✩
A fun fantasy novel about a mage born thief who poses as a flippant mistress to a lord in order to find a disguised demon hidden at court. It is a stand-alone novel in a book series set in the world of Sianim [Masques, Wolsfbane, Steal The Dragon].

When Demons Walk is considered a stand-alone novel however it utilizes an established magic system that may be overwhelming to new readers unfamiliar to the series.

For a more rounded and enjoyable experience I would recommend this book be read last in the series as opposed to third. The story itself is a fun mystery with interesting new characters and a new region of Sianim to explore.

The Sianim series is a set of Patricia Briggs' earliest work. It lacks the caliber of her popular Mercy Thompson series however I believe this book is one of the more polished out of Sianim. It that shows a greater grasp of prose, description, dialogue, and focused point of view. The subtle romance is also threaded through the story better. When Demons Walk is one of the better composed books of Sianim and I found it a good addition to the series.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Behind Those Eyes by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★

An amusing dark novella about a girl who abruptly becomes a vampire with only her knowledge of vampire pop culture and myths to guide her.

Behind Those Eyes has a wonderful portrayal of musicianship that the main characters bond over. The romance between the main characters was complex and dark as they both sought solace for their grief. The romance story line was dramatic and agnsty. Though the vampire pop culture tidbits and the main character's personality helped lighten the mood.

[Note: Behind Those Eyes was originally titled Little Sister: A Vampire Novella]

Undeadly Sinful by V.J. Chambers

★★★★✩
A fun and engaging short story about a sassy vampire huntress searching for a rogue vampire while being distracted by another.

Undeadly Sinful is a parody on the popular vampire romance genre. I found it amusing as I've read a lot of books in the genre.

It was fast paced making it feel too short and the ending was abrupt. I enjoyed reading it but I just wish it was longer.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Invoke by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
An engaging and adventurous paranormal new-adult novel that recaptures the legend of King Arthur through the possession of contemporary characters.

Invoke is a novel with multiple plot lines that interweave to form a fascinating story. The characters have to deal with their lives being altered and entangled with the legend of King Arthur. This paranormal duality causes relationships between the characters to be tested in a unique and interesting way.

The magic system used adds underlying elements of suspense and mystery. Overall, Invoke is a dramatic and ambitious novel that delivers a compelling story.

Margo Quinn, Zombie Fighter by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★

A recommended read for readers interested in an engaging, action packed short story about a rescue mission amid a zombie infested city with a strong female lead character.

Margo Quinn, Zombie Fighter is a solid short story. It was a decent length and told a full story without rushing or cutting corners.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Brighter by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
A thrilling new-adult novel about a college town with a mysterious and deadly entrapment that never allows its residents to leave.

 Brighter has a cast of authentic complex characters that are coming to terms with life post graduation in addition to realizing their town and its residents are not what they seem.

The prose and pacing creates an enjoyable and engaging story. While subtle elements of horror and mystery forge a suspenseful constantly unfolding plot.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mischief by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
A fun urban fantasy novel about a musician set during an alternate 80’s where magic is prevalent. It contains a reimagined depiction of pixies, ghouls, and witches.

Mischief is a novel with an intriguing magic system that is further complicated by the era of the 80’s. Pixies aren't cute fairies but masters of illusion content with blending with society except for the few that want to destroy all humans.

Black pixies feed on the flesh of humans while ghouls need to feed on the dead flesh of humans. Meanwhile humans have established a police force to eradicate high profile creatures and users of magic. All of this combined with witches, an ancient evil, music, bad romances, and unlikely heroes.

Mischief is a fun read with a great magic system, an interesting plot, complex characters, and an enjoyable portrayal of musicianship.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Death Girl by V.J. Chambers

★★★★★
A dark and suspenseful story set amid high school. Its horror elements create a darker, edgier young adult novel that may be uncomfortable for some readers. It contains brief depictions of violence, sex and eating disorders that while graphic are not overly explicit.

Death Girl is a story with interesting flawed characters that are described in an unreserved authentic manner. The story is more exploratory as the characters are introduced but then quickens with dramatic twists that add a sense of foreboding and suspense. The ending was surprising and abrupt but I can appreciate it more recounting the experience.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite

 ★★★★★
A recommend book for mature readers interested in reading a deviant macabre book that contains: serial killers, murder, m/m eroticism, drug use, HIV, necrophilia and cannibalism.

Exquisite Corpse is a book with intriguing characters that intertwine in a disturbing yet engaging plot. The prose and descriptions are detailed and sensuous.

This is further capitalized on by the story being told from four different points of view. Allowing the reader to become intimately familiar with the minds of two serial killers and their victims.

This may prove to be an uncomfortable experience for many readers and I would not suggest this book to those easily offended or squeamish.