Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Hardcover368 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by NAL
Series: The Great Library,#1
My Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.
Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.
When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

When I saw that this book was being released several months ago, I immediately knew I wanted it. The premise was right up my alley. Books under the control of a central body intrigued me because I've always believed that the censorship of books is criminal. I had high expectations for this book though I had never read anything by Rachel Caine before. And I was not disappointed in the slightest.

Jess is a character who is far too jaded for his years, but given his childhood and background, that cynicism makes perfect sense and defines and shapes his character. I really liked Jess. He's a good person, and he sees things as they are without the polish society spins or the sugarcoat of blind faith. Entering the Library isn't something he wanted, but once there, he's compelled to do well. And he's met with amazing trials--both intellectual trials and harsh ones, and some that are just damn horrifying.

This novel is action packed, and will grip you beginning to end. Not a single page was boring. I was sucked in from beginning, each word drawing me more and more into the world and lives of the characters that Ms. Caine depicts with such ease. There are many horrifying and sad points in the novel, and at times I was moved to tears by the events that took place. But I loved seeing the friendships grow between characters that were from different backgrounds, and competitors for positions in the Library. Seeing those bonds develop gave me a lot of hope for Jess and whatever the future holds in store for him. Because it's sure to be ugly.

The world building in this novel blew me away. I was sucked right into the politics of the Library and knew immediately (because Jess seemed to understand it intrinsically) that it was corrupt. And the more you learn about this world and the Library, the more you see a society that simply must fall. Knowledge is power, but power unchecked corrupts and seeks to control. So I'm dying to find out what happens to the characters in this book because it looks for now like the Library has won. Jess has a risky placement, Wolfe is on the edge of a cliff, and the Library has Morgan, though that might not be as wonderful for them as they think it is. I sense rebellion in the making, and that makes me cheer but also makes me afraid for the characters I've grown to love. I don't want to lose anymore of them.

This is everything a novel should be, compelling, fantastic, rich with human life and problems and emotions. I was completely devastated by how the story unfolded, and this is one book I won't be forgetting any time soon, and one I'd read again and again.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: Until the Sun Falls from the Sky by Kristen Ashley

Kindle Edition513 pages
Published February 22nd 2012 
by Kristen Ashley
Series: The Three, #1
My Rating:
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Leah Buchanan’s family has been in service to vampires for five centuries. Even so, Leah wants nothing to do with her family’s legacy. But when she’s summoned to her Selection by the Vampire Dominion, under familial pressure, she has no choice but to go. 

Lucien has been living under the strict edicts of the Vampire Dominion for centuries but he’s tired of these ancient laws stripping away everything that is the essence of the vampire. 

So he’s taking it back. 

And this is because Lucien has been watching and waiting for decades for Leah to become available for a Selection and he will not be limited with what he can do with her. He will have her, all of her. 

Therefore, Lucien is going to tame Leah, even if he gets hunted and killed for doing it. 

What neither Leah nor Lucien expects is the strong bond that will form between them, connecting them on unprecedented levels for mortals or immortals. And what will grow between them means they will challenge their ways of life and their union will begin The Prophesies which makes them one of three couples who will save humanity… or die in the effort.

I thought this book had an absolutely wonderful premise. And Kristen Ashley is one of those writers that spins stories in spell binding ways. So of course, I had to read this.

I loved that Leah was fiesty, and wasn't just some vampire groupee like a lot of the other concubines were. She didn't want anything to do with Lucien. I loved that she had attitude and fought tooth and nail against everything. But, she also kinda ruined the story for me. Let me explain. The story is told in the first person from Leah's point of view, except for those chapters were we get third person narration and that focuses largely on Lucien. I didn't mind the switch in narration, but Leah didn't attend to her Vampire Studies, so she has no idea about vampire society or law. And since Lucien doesn't tell her much, it made for vague world building in my opinion. Also, Leah had certain personality traits that I found annoying in a woman of forty years. She struck me as more of a college age student at times. So Leah ruined the story for me.

What to say about Lucien. I think too much of my impression is coloured by Leah so I'll say very little. I think there's more to this vampire than we really got to see. I think he has far more depth and emotion than was illustrated from Leah's point of view. He's certainly fierce and wise in a cold way, but he's not unfeeling. I liked him, to a degree.

The book dragged a little for me through the middle portion, but it certainly got very interesting in the last ten to fifteen percent, and a lot of the questions I had were finally answered when the Prophecies came to light, and some other supernatural facts were revealed. I like where the author seems to be drawing the series, and I'm curious to see where it all leads.

Bottom line is I'm intrigued enough to carry on with the series, and am looking forward to book two.

Friday, July 17, 2015

What's the Scoop??? The Ugly Truth of the DNF Pile

There is an ugly truth in the reading world my friends, and that's the DNF pile. You know, the books you did not finish.

If you're anything like me (and most readers out there) you like to finish every book you start. You started it for a reason right? It might get better by the end right? But, the truth is, although I used to force myself to the bitter end of a book, I haven't for a while. And I've found out, I'm not the only one who chooses to do this. Too many books, too little time.

But today, I started thinking about why there are some books out there that I can't finish. What is it about them? I remember one book, a very popular book that has millions of fans all over the world, that I could not finish. And I was so disappointed because I was so into the book for about seventy percent of it. And then it felt like it was over, and yet I still had a whole bunch left to read. Very weird. I pushed myself to eighty percent then threw up my hands and put it on that DNF shelf. Why?
It wasn't that I'd lost interest, though that was part of it. It was that I wasn't feeling it anyway. It stopped being meaningful to me. And that's the ugly truth. I was no longer invested in the story or the characters. In fact, they started to feel ridiculous to me.

The ugly truth is, while this book resonated with millions of people, it didn't resonate with me. And if that's the case folks, well, then it's time to shelve that book. It's an ugly fact, but there it is. And to me, it's far better not to read that book then to read it and feel nothing. Or worse, to be so frustrated by it that I'm tempted to go around telling the world how awful the book is, and how stupid a, b, c and were about it. I believe it's simply better to  put that book on the shelf and move on. Read something else. Because those books on the Did Not Finish shelf still contain a story. And it's possible that one day, they will resonate with me. And on that day, they will be meaningful because something in me will have lit up so that I can see the greatness that is that book.

As always everyone, please feel free to share thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Sweet Revenge by Lynsay Sands

Paperback384 pages
Published November 25th 2014 
by Avon 
(first published February 1st 2000)
My Rating:
Genre: Historical Romance

Highlander Galen MacDonald is on a mission of revenge: kidnap his enemy's bride and make her his. But what he doesn't count on is a clever, fiery lass wielding a blade. When he realizes Kyla is delirious with fever, Galen wastes no time in wedding her.

While Kyla is grateful for the Scottish laird who saved her from marrying a loathsome man, she is just as furious that Galen has claimed her for his bride. But when they share an unforgettable night of passion, will it lead to a marriage of the heart, or will an enemy tear them apart?

So I recently listened to this on audio. I'm becoming addicted to audio. It also allows me to read and crochet at the same time, and combining two of my favourite activities has become just too much fun. 

I always enjoy a highlander romance, and Lynsay Sands is a great author. The story turns into a comedy of errors that had me laughing as misunderstandings and tricks were constantly played throughout the first half, and while Kyla was at the center of this comedy, Galen's men provided me with a lot of amusement. 

So needless to say, you won't be bored while reading this one because you'll be too busy laughing! But the novel has its serious moments too. Kyla is worried about her brother as his wife is intent on killing him. She insists on heading back to England to warn him, and this is where the story really picks up some unexpected connections between villains start to unravel. Kyla is spirited and brave, and when the action picks up, she's always in the midst of it. I liked that she had the courage to fight to defend herself. This is one heroine I won't soon be forgetting. 

As for our hero, I liked him. He was a softer sort of laird that you might expect from a highlander romance, but that was a refreshing change. Alpha grunts of possession are not always necessary. It was very sweet when he confessed he was in love with Kyla, and I liked how he shouldered his responsibilities quietly, without letting them harden him. 

The narrator, Elle Newland did a wonderful job with the Scottish accents. It was sometimes a little difficult to tell the male voices apart, but overall, I can't and and won't complain about the narration as it kept me hooked throughout the book and infused a lot of humor into another humorous book. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Review: A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber

Paperback380 pages
Published May 1st 2006 
by Mira Books 
(first published 2005)
Series: Blossom Street, #2
My Rating:
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Lydia Hoffman owns the shop on Blossom Street. In the year since it opened, A Good Yarn has thrived-and so has Lydia. A lot of that is due to Brad Goetz. But when Brad's ex-wife reappears, Lydia is suddenly afraid to trust her newfound happiness.Three women join Lydia's newest class. Elise Beaumont, retired and bitterly divorced, learns that her onetime husband is reentering her life. Bethanne Hamlin is facing the fallout from a much more recent divorce. And Courtney Pulanski is a depressed and overweight teenager, whose grandmother's idea of helping her is to drag her to seniors' swim sessions-and to the knitting class at A Good Yarn.
Since I loved the first book so much, I decided to immediately listen to the second. I really enjoyed it. Lydia continues to be the main character, and she continues to learn and grow. I find it fascinating that the author has penned a character who is in fact a grown woman, but is essentially still growing up in a lot of ways. Because Lydia battled cancer during her teen years, and again in her early twenties, she missed a lot of life lessons and growth that those years offer us. It seems that she's learning them now, and her shop and the women she meets there are central to her growth.

What is equally fascinating is the characters are all soo different--from different points and experiences in life, and yet manage to not only form friendships but also to learn valuable lessons themselves, and grow as well. Take Bethanne for instance. Here is a woman who might become bitter, depressed, angry because her husband suddenly ups and leaves her and their family after twenty years of marriage. Instead, she discovers herself, her passion for life and opens up a very successful business. She's uncertain at first, but seeing her growth and change over the course of the book is very interesting.

But not as interesting as Elise. I didn't think her character could change much--she was too hard and set in her ways, but seeing her soften to her ex-husband, reach out to Bethanne, reminded me that change is always possible. In fact, it is constant, we just don't always clue into that fact. I was delighted to see Elise learn the lesson of acceptance, and to see how that changed her life.

I'm curious to see what the next Blossom Street novel is about, and eager to read more of this feel good, and wise series.

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