Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I began to read this novel, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I wish I had known because it would have explained away a lot of the confusion I was feeling when I was reading. Anyways, here is my review:

Owl is an antiquities thief who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. And she is in for another adventure. The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural hidden… but they are also the ones responsible for ruining Owl’s archaeology career. Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that. But now, the IAA has a bounty out for the 2 designed of World Quest, an online RPG that is a whole lot more than it seems. Owl needs to find the gamers before the other mercenaries do … but when every clue points to them hiding in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not only does Owl have to deal with competitors, she also finds herself dragged into a game of wits with someone who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The stakes are high, especially when losing means an all-out civil war between 2 powerful supernatural factions.

I felt that I was really at a disadvantage when it came to this novel because of my lack of knowledge on this series and the characters. There was a lot going on and not everything made sense. You definitely need to read this series in order in order to really understand and appreciate all that is going on. I’ve decided not to rate this book or post my review on Goodreads because I don’t think any of my comments would be a fair assessment of this novel since I didn’t do my due diligence and read this series properly. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of this series or is looking to start a new urban fantasy/supernatural series!

Happy reading ~

Visions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #2

It’s been a while since I read Omens by this author but I really enjoyed that foray into urban fantasy. I hadn’t planned on waiting so long to read the sequel but … life … happens. Anyways, I finally got around to it so here is my review:

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones discovers that she is the daughter of notorious serial killers. She finds an ally in Gabriel Walsh, a selfish, morally ambiguous lawyer. Together, they were able to find a devious killer and partially cleared Olivia’s parents from their crimes. Their success, however, doesn’t last long. While Olivia continues to take refuge in Cainsville, Gabriel’s past comes back to haunt both of them.

When Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed just like her, she is shocked. What makes it worse is that the body disappears before anyone else sees it. Olivia is convinced it’s another omen. But when she learns that a real young woman went missing just a few days ago, it makes Olivia question whether the body she saw was just a simple omen – or a message. Who would have left this kind of warning and why? As Olivia tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces that have their own agenda and secrets.

It took me a while to get into this novel because I couldn’t really remember what had happened. But after just a chapter or two, everything started to fall into place. It helped that the author provided recaps of important events from the first book to help set the tone for this novel. Again, we are thrown into a murder mystery that has some supernatural elements to it. I liked that the novel actually managed to answer some of the underlying questions that I had had from before. She also added a whole host of new elements that led to more questions. I will say that there is a whole new level of romance seen in this book that I was not expecting so …. readers be prepared! The dynamic between Olivia and Gabriel gets better in this novel and you really start to admire their witty friendship. One of the things that made me really happy about this novel is that the supernatural elements of the story were a lot more visible, even though it still maintained its main murder mystery plot; what drew me to the series in the first place was a promise of fantasy, and the author definitely delivered on that account. Overall, this is a novel filled with intrigue, supernatural forces, and an interesting murder mystery. If you liked Omens, you will definitely enjoy Visions!

Happy reading ~

Limbo Lodge by Joan Aiken – Wolves Chronicle #5

It may have seemed as if I had forgotten about this book series… but I did not! As I mentioned previously, I have just had zero time for myself and that has led to a decline in my reading time, but I am working fast to make up for it. So without further ado, here I go:

In her latest adventure, Dido Twite is searching for Lord Herodsfoot, who is scouring the globe for new and interesting games. It’s up to Dido to bring him back to London, where an ill King James is in need of a distraction. Dido’s search takes her to a spice island called Aratu, where foreigners seldom venture due to the presence of the deadly pearl snakes and sting monkeys. When Dido lands on this island, she learns of something far more sinister than the poisonous snakes: there is a plot to overthrow the island’s king at his place on the Cliffs of Death. With the help of the Forest People, Dido rushes to the Cliff … but will she make it in time?

I have to admit, this has got to be one of my least favorite books in the series so far. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some positives and I still enjoyed the ride. Let me begin with what I liked:

  • the magic elements were super weird and cool. I liked the mysticism and the way in which those who could use magic were able to even convince the skeptics in the story.
  • Talisman and the Forest People were by far my favorite characters in the story. They were so different and I think Aiken did a fantastic job in creating them and giving them the ropes.
  • the plot against the King was typical Aiken and I loved it because it’s everything I expected and love about this series!

So clearly, there were some positives. However, there were some flaws that made this book drop below my expectations.

  • Dido lacked that charm I’ve become so accustomed to seeing. In this novel, she was quite flat and had no real purpose; this novel would have still moved fine without her presence.
  • Lord Herodsfoot and King were really blah characters. I just didn’t like their complete helplessness in every situation. I understand that Aiken created them specifically to be this way, but I just don’t like useless characters.
  • there were a lot of holes in the plot that didn’t make sense (and that’s saying something since most of the books in this series are wacky!) and the introduction into this adventure was very awkward and stilted. The transitions could definitely have been better!

Overall, the novel still maintained its wackiness and had an awesome fantasy element to it. However, it didn’t tie things as well as it could have and Dido really didn’t shine. I’m hoping that the next book in the series will be better; for now, this novel gets a 3.5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Yes!!!!!!!!! A new Neil Gaiman that I haven’t read!!!! I was so excited when I heard about this book’s release, but I waited to read it at a time when I knew I could afford to do no work and just focus on the book – because Neil Gaiman deserves it! Anyways, here is my review:

Norse Mythology is a collection of stories that begins with the creation of the nine worlds, delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants, and concludes in Ragnarok, a time of death and rebirth. We are introduced to Odin, the all-father; Thor, Odin’s son, known for his brawn but not for his wisdom; and Loki, son of giants, a trickster who constantly shifts between good and evil.

Yes, that is a very short summary of the novel. But I really cannot get into any more detail than that; in fact, giving the summary was pointless in itself. Anyways, as I mentioned, this is a collection of stories, arranged chronologically to a point. What makes this book so wonderful is that it takes the original stories and delivers them in a more straight-forward way, making it more accessible to readers. Gaiman takes away a great deal of flowery language that is usually seen in these types of stories and reimagines the gods in a more modern and interesting way. He highlights each god’s strengths and weaknesses, and makes the conversations easier to follow while not losing any subtle nuance. It goes to show why Gaiman is considered a master storyteller! This was a short read, mainly because a lot of the less important jargon was removed, but also because the stories itself were presented in a more interesting manner. If you have read other works by Gaiman, you can see how Norse mythology has inspired him in other original works by him! All in all, this was just a fresh take on classic mythology and it was highly entertaining and worth reading!

Happy reading ~

Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

The Tempest is one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare. Something about the story and the magic always captured my interest, and I relish any chance to get back into that world. It’s one of the reasons that I love reading retellings of it, and so I was glad to hear of this one. Here is my review:

Miranda is a lonely child, with only her father, some animals, and a few spirits to keep her company in the abandoned Moorish palace where she lives. Her father’s fascination with a terrible wailing spirit trapped in a pine tree has him constantly practicing his magic, an art that he refuses to explain or teach to Miranda. And then there is the presence of a wild boy, who leaves little gifts for Miranda on their doorstep but never tries to make contact. Miranda knows her father has great plans but his refusal to provide her with explanations means she is left with a great deal of questions about who she is and where she comes from. The wild boy Caliban is a lonely child, too: orphaned at a young age, he has had to fend for himself and has no language that he speaks. When Caliban is summonded and bound into slavery by Miranda’s father, he rages against his shackles…. and yet, he yearns for the the kindness and love he sees in Miranda’s eyes.

This is by far one of my favorite retellings of The Tempest. It is dark, rich in detail, and takes the time to pull apart the characters and show their depth. When Shakespeare first wrote this, it was branded as a comedy. However, after this rendition, it is really better seen as a tragic romance. I love how the author reimagined Caliban, a character that I had always pitied in the original work. I also loved the dark undertones to the story, and how Miranda’s father is shown to have some madness inside of him. I could not put this book down and I felt so drawn to the different characters and their interaction; the author really made the relationships come alive in this story. While the story’s general plot line doesn’t change, the additions in nuance and character building really give the story a different element, and renders this retelling unique. Overall, a wonderfully written novel that tugged at my heartstrings!

Happy reading ~

Elves by Jean-Luc Istin

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One of my favorite things about graphic novels is how the artwork pulls me into the story. It makes reading a lot faster and allows me to get immersed into the world that the author is creating. I’ve been trying to read a lot more graphic novels nowadays so I was quite happy to have received this novel as an ARC!

This novel consists of 2 stories: The Crystal of the Blue Elves and The Honor of Sylvan Elves.

In The Crystal of the Blue Elves, the Blue Elves of Ennyla are found murdered. When Lanawyn, a Blue Elf, and Turin, her human ally, begin to investigate this crime, their trail leads them to a clan of Yrlans, Northern men who hate Elves. At the same time, Vaalann, a young Blue Elf, is about to go through an initiation test to divine her future under the guidance of Mother Prophetess. It seems that Vaalann’s future is linked to the Sacred Crystal, a powerful artifact that allows the wielder to control the ocean. Is Vaalann the messiah the Blue Elves have been waiting for?

In The Honor of Sylvan Elves, the Sylvan Elves are recluses that stay in their sacred grounds. Anyone who dares enter their territory soon become their prey. Meanwhile, Eysine is a city-state that has always respected the ancient pact between Elf and Man. But when a powerful army of Orks lay siege to the kingdom, Llali, the daughter of the King of Eysine, goes to remind the Elves of the treaty and their pledge to help.

Thus begins Elves, a sprawling saga of mythic proportions!

The art in this graphic novel is definitely beautiful but that’s the only thing I enjoyed about it. There were so many weak areas in this book. One of my major problems was the plot. The pacing was completely off; it was too fast in some places and too slow in others. The story line in the first story was unique but its execution was poor; the characters were sloppy, the writing style was choppy, and I always felt as if I had been thrown into the middle of the story. In terms of the second story, the flow and writing style were better, but the characters still lacked depth and the plot itself was boring. This wasn’t a terrible graphic novel, but it was by no means good. But hey, at least the artwork was impressive!

Happy reading ~

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine – The Great Library #2

After the spectacular journey in Ink and Bone, it was all I could do to not rush out and get this next novel. I wanted to read it leisurely, when I knew I would have enough time and energy to devote to this series. As soon as I finished my last final, I put everything else away and began to read this book. Here is my review:

Jess Brightwell survived his introduction to the Library, but serving in the army is nothing like what he imagined. With his best friend lost and Morgan, the girl he loves, locked away in the Iron Tower, his life and the lives of his other friends has changed forever. After embarking on a mission to save a friend, Jess and his group of allies make one wrong move and find themselves being hunted by the Library’s automata, forcing them to flee Alexandria and head to London. But London is no longer safe. The Welsh army is approaching, London is burning, and Jess must decide where his loyalties lie.

Did this novel live up to the standards of Ink and Bone? Not a chance. To be quite honest, this novel was so lackluster in comparison to its predecessor. Nothing happens. Seriously, it’s just a lot of talking and conspiring. Almost all of the novel was spent with Jess and the rest of the gang trying to figure things out. It was quite annoying to continually read about this, especially once it became clear how things were headed. The craziness and the intrigue and the characters that had me so fascinated were very dull in this book. Jess had almost no personality, and none of the other characters sparked my interest like they did in the previous novel. There was just no growth and no forward movement except in little jerks. This book was definitely a disappointment, especially following the amazing quality of the first book. I hope that the next installment redeems this series!

Happy reading ~

Fyre by Katherine Bogle – Chronicles of Warshard #0.5

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was unaware that this was a novella when I first began reading but considering that I also received the ARC for Haven, the first novel in the series, I thought it would be a good idea to start with this prequel novella as it would give me an understanding of the major players!

Haven has never felt comfortable in royal gatherings and jumps at the chance to sneak away and race her brothers on horseback. But when the young princess is injured, her identity is called into question.

As heir to the Rythern throne, Lucian has a heavy weight on his shoulders. But when he is forced to leave the warfront by his father, he does so reluctantly. Little does anyone know that this decision would prove costly.

The battle for Helms Keep has disastrous consequences for Marcel. Soon he finds himself fighting both enemy forces and his own memories.

For her own safety, Astrid is sent to the family cottage in the Cinder Mountains. However, the cottage is less than cozy what with the frigid temperatures and knee-high snow. With only a few guards to protect her, Astrid must find a way to dig deep into herself and find a way to survive.

This novella served as a sneak preview for the story that comes ahead in Haven. I found the premise intriguing, but the short stories here were a bit too abrupt in the way they end. I liked reading the first story about Haven, but her other siblings weren’t all that interesting to read about. Hopefully, that isn’t the case in the first book! Either way, this novella has me interested in reading this series!

Happy reading ~

The Stolen Lake by Joan Aiken – Wolves Chronicles #4

What I love about this series is that you never feel like you’ve missed anything when you wait before reading the next book. In the beginning of each book, the reader gets a chance to remember the particulars that led to this current situation, and then the story takes up and you get lost in all the action. With this particular book, the author mentions that it can be read as a standalone and has no bearing on the rest of the series. So if you are intrigued by this author but don’t have the time to read the whole series, this book is a good place to start! Anyways, enough rambling, let me get on with my review:

On her way back to London aboard the Thrush, Dido and the crew are summoned to the aid of the queen of New Cumbria. Her island has been a source of help for Britain in the past, and now she uses that connection to seek justice. When the crew arrives, they find that the island is a very unusual place, full of birds that are big enough to carry off men, and fish that eat human flesh and leave only bones as remains. The queen is greatly distressed because she believes that a neighbouring king has stolen her lake. It is up to Dido and the rest of the crew to face the many dangers that are present on this island in order to get the lake back.

In comparison to the previous books in this series, this one is definitely unique. While this novel continues in the style of alternate history, we also see unique fantasy and mythology elements. Once again, we see Dido as the star of the show. Her humor and quick wit save her time and again. I actually loved the adult characters that were introduced here as Dido’s companions; unlike the other books, most of them were quite ready to follow Dido’s directives and were a great asset to her! The plot, while not related to anything Hanoverian, was still delightfully sinister, and the evil characters were quite well drawn up! There are certain things that I found weren’t addressed fully in the book, but apart from that, this novel was just as fun and amazing as every other book in the series! I think this may be one of my favorite stories about Dido so far, but I’m going to read the next one to see if it can top this!

Happy reading ~

Black Friday by B.R. Myers – Night Shift #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After absolutely loving the first book in the series, I was really excited to have the chance to read this one. It’s taken me some time to get here, but now I’m done! So here is my review:

It’s been a month since 19-year-old Daniel Gale survived a vicious attack at Willard’s department store. As the culprit waits behind bars for a court date, Daniel and Mary spend every night shift researching Willard’s history in order to find some clue to save Mary and the others from a life stuck in the department store. But when an ally passes away, it reveals a shocking letter filled with confessions that will make Daniel and Mary question everything they thought they knew.

After really loving the first book, I am sad to admit that this one left me quite disappointed. The magic and the glamorous vibe were non-existent, and the plot plodded on to the point where I simply couldn’t care. Most of this novel was filled with Daniel wandering around, moping because he wanted to spend more time with Mary. And there were so many impassioned moments where they declared their love for each other… and it was really cringe-worthy. I couldn’t really feel the “true love” angle that the author was throwing in, because it just seemed to happen so quickly and with no real development! There was so much focus on the romance that I felt that the actual mystery-solving aspect got very little attention. I was craving clues and the kind of intrigue and suspicion that were the focal point in the previous novel. But since the author just glazed over it, I didn’t really feel invested. There were so many things that the author left open-ended in the book and that really bothered me. I don’t want to reveal any of them now because I don’t want to spoil the story but I really hope she clarifies it in the next novel. The last 50 pages or so moved at a very quick pace, which was a bit startling to read. But the author did leave an interesting segue for the next book in the series. I will definitely give the next novel a chance because there is a lot of potential for this series… I just hope that the author focuses more on the plot than the lovey-dovey feelings between Mary and Daniel!

Happy reading ~