Tag Archives: rating 3.5 of 5

The Master Magician

Holmberg, Charlie N. The Master Magician (2015). 47north. 226 Pages

The Paper Magician | Book Three

Holmberg-TheMasterMagician-19817-CV-FT-V4This is the third book in a series, and this post may contain spoilers for the first two books: The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician.

From Amazon

Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own—an ability long thought impossible.

While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.

First Lines

Ceony, wearing her red apprentices’ apron over a ruffled blouse and plain brown skirt, stood on her tiptoes on a three-legged stool and stuck a square of white paper against the east wall of the Holloways’ living room, right where the wall met the ceiling. The family was celebrating Mr. Holloway’s awarding of the Africa General Service Medal, and had submitted a request to hire the local Folder– Magician Emery Thane– to fashion the party decorations.

Of course Emery had passed the “frivolous task” on to his apprentice.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes

O’Brien, Cory. Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology (2013). Perigee Trade. 304 Pages

tumblr_ncowy3sgun1sokmcuo5_r1_1280From Goodreads:

All our lives, we’ve been fed watered-down, PC versions of the classic myths. In reality, mythology is more screwed up than a schizophrenic shaman doing hits of unidentified. Wait, it all makes sense now. In Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O’Brien, creator of Myths RETOLD!, sets the stories straight. These are rude, crude, totally sacred texts told the way they were meant to be told: loudly, and with lots of four-letter words. Skeptical? Here are just a few gems to consider:

  • Zeus once stuffed an unborn fetus inside his thigh to save its life after he exploded its mother by being too good in bed.
  • The entire Egyptian universe was saved because Sekhmet just got too hammered to keep murdering everyone.
  • The Hindu universe is run by a married couple who only stop murdering in order to throw sweet dance parties… on the corpses of their enemies.
  • The Norse goddess Freyja once consented to a four-dwarf gangbang in exchange for one shiny necklace.

And there’s more dysfunctional goodness where that came from.

First Lines

Introduction

(Or the Part of This Book You Can Safely Tear Out If You Need to Make It Slightly Lighter for Some Reason)

‘Sup guys.

Here is a book I wrote, and I hope you enjoy it.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, General Fiction, Humor

All These Things I’ve Done

Zevin, Gabrielle. All These Things I’ve Done (2011). Macmillan. 367 Pages. $2.99

Birthright | Book One

From Goodreads

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

First Lines

The night before junior year– I was sixteen, barely— Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me. Not in the distant or semidistant future either. Right then.

Admittedly, my taste in boys wasn’t so great. I was attracted to the sort who weren’t in the habit of asking permission to do anything. Boys like my father, I guess.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Wife by Wednesday

Bybee, Catherine. Wife by Wednesday (2011). 222 Pages. Self Published. $.99*

Wife By Wednesday CoverFrom Goodreads

Blake Harrison:
Rich, titled, and charming… And in need of a wife by Wednesday so he turns to Sam Elliot who isn’t the business man he expected. Instead, Blake is faced with Samantha Elliot, engaging and spunky with a voice men call 900 numbers to hear.

Samantha Elliot:
Owner of Alliance, her matchmaking firm, and not on the marital menu… That is until Blake offers her ten million dollars for a one-year contract. All she needs to do is keep her attraction to her husband to herself and avoid his bed. But Blake’s toe-curling kisses and charm prove too difficult to combat. Now she needs to protect her heart so she can walk away when their mercenary life together is over.

First Lines

“I need a wife, Carter, and I needed her yesterday.” Riding in the back of the town car en route to Starbucks, of all places, Blake Harrison glanced at his watch for the tenth time that hour.

Carter’s startled laugh rode on Blake’s last nerve. “Then pick one of the masses and walk the aisle.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Daughter of the Centaurs

Klimo, Kate. Daughter of the Centaurs: Centauriad #1. (January 24, 2012). 384 Pages. Random House. $10.99

First, a brief disclaimer. I received an advance copy via NetGalley in August, 2011. It is entirely possible there have been changes. All opinions expressed are my own, and have not been influenced by the publisher. Expected publication is January 24, 2012.

From Goodreads

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

First Lines

For as long as she can remember, Malora has dreamed of dancing with horses.

“Daughter of the Mountains,” Malora’s mother calls her, for her skin and hair are the dusky red-brown of the rocks, and her upturned eyes– so like her father’s– are the vivid blue-green of the nuggets of malachite that dot the streams running down from the peaks.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Just a Little White Lie

Halberg, Lynnette. Just a Little White Lie (2011). Digital Only. Carina Press. $3.99*

This review is pre-release: It comes out September 12, 2011

Lynnette Halberg, Just A Little White LieFrom Amazon

Lucinda Darling thinks she’s ready to get married. Even though Donald doesn’t give her butterflies, the heiress is ready to make her marriage work. She’s got the dress, she’s at the church and her fiancé…is making out with his ex. So Lucinda stuffs her tulle skirts into her tiny sports car and hits the road…only to have her car break down.

Jake Parker knows he’s not ready to settle down. But Grandma Hattie is sick, so, to make her happy, he’s returning home to find himself a fake fiancée. When Jake rescues Lucy from the side of the highway, she goes from runaway bride to temporary fiancée.

Lucy hopes to escape the public eye in small-town Georgia, but she doesn’t expect to fall for Jake’s charming hometown, let alone Jake himself. Soon Jake and Lucy both start to wish their lie were true. But Lucy knows she must stop their pretense before Jake’s family—and her heart—are hurt so badly they’ll never recover.

First Lines

A single daisy bloomed between the curb and the sidewalk, its cheerful yellow-and-white head bobbing in the Gulf breeze. Lucinda Darling hiked up the skirt of her bridal gown and stomped on the flower with her white satin stiletto.

“He loves me not, he loves me not, he loves me not.” She ground the flower farther into the dirt with each loves me not.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Of Dukes and Deceptions

Soliman, Wendy. Of Dukes and Deceptions (2011). 285 Pages.* Carina Press. $3.82**

From Goodreads

When Nicholas Buchanan, the Duke of Dorchester, accepts an invitation to visit a country stud farm, he counters his boredom by striking a wager with his henchman that he’ll bed the poor relation, Alicia Woodley, before the end of his stay. But he reckons without Alicia’s disdain. She’s disgusted by Nick’s cavalier attitude, unimpressed by his grandeur and wants as little as possible to do with him.

Between her newfound role as family charity case and fending off the attentions of both her clueless cousin and the arrogant Nicholas, Alicia Woodley has quite enough to contend with…but when her life is endangered, quite possibly from those closest to her, surprisingly it is Nicholas who seems determined to ensure her safety. As they conspire to uncover secrets that the family wants hidden at all costs, they discover a passion that surpasses all obstacles.

First Lines

Cambridgeshire, England, 1820

The narrow village streets were crammed solid. Various animals and every sort of conveyance competed for the limited space. Stallholders selling anything from fresh produce to bolts of material and edible delicacies had set themselves up wherever they could find the room. Females engaged in the oldest profession were openly plying their trade, oblivious to the noise and lack of privacy. Fleet-footed children readied themselves to relieve the unwary of their valuables.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Fantasy, Historical Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Romance

The Summoner

Green, Layton. The Summoner (2010). Digital only. GryphonWorks. $2.99*

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started poking at this book; it seemed interesting enough, but not my usual read. It’s fairly apparent from my choice of books that I like young adult and romance novels– both genres known for being rather easy reads**. But I figured “why not” and found myself quickly engaged.

Synopsis

Dominic Grey is world-worn and jaded,  stuck in a dead-end government job in Zimbabwe. When a diplomat– and friend of the Ambassador– goes missing in the middle of nowhere during a Juju ceremony, Dominic is told to investigate. He won’t be alone, however; Nya Mashumba– local government official– will be escorting him and keeping an eye on his progress, and Viktor Radek– cult expert– will be helping out.

Things aren’t as straightforward as anyone hoped, and Grey is in deeper trouble than he could have imagined. Someone has sent him a message– back off– and he needs to find out who before anyone else disappears.

First Lines

The only thing Dominic Grey knew for certain about the disappearance of William Addison was that it was the strangest case to which he had ever been assigned.

Thoughts

It’s not often that I read a book cold, without knowing anything about it. I often pick books up because I know the author, or I liked the cover/blurb or I saw a good review. I usually have some idea what I’m getting into before I decide “sure, why not?” but in this case, at least, the results weren’t bad.

I found myself pleasantly surprised, for the most part. Dominic Grey is an interesting protagonist with an imperfect past. He’s really good at a couple things, and has a few character flaws which keep him interesting. He apparently speaks three languages– which are never listed– and is very well traveled. He’s a fairly accepting character, who doesn’t make snap-judgements. On the whole, while not an every-man, he is a bit of an ideal-man.

The writing is good, if not spectacular; descriptions were vivid, and most of the dialog was relatively natural. There were moments where characters were overly-expository in their speech, but with a topic/setting most people don’t know a lot about, it’s a damned-if-you-do/don’t balancing act. I feel like for the most part it is alright, though it does get a little bogged down in the second chapter.

The plot is really what makes this book interesting; there is an evil Juju man sacrificing humans to an evil spirit, and Grey, Nya, and Viktor are entangled in the puzzle. There are parts that are surprising, and parts that are not, but on the whole it’s intriguing enough to keep you reading (and good enough that I actually enjoyed reading it; I didn’t want to put it down.) It manages to move along quickly enough that you don’t get bored, without rushing along so fast that you get lost, either. At no point did I have to go “wait, what just happened?,” which is a good sign.

With good writing, solid pacing, an interesting plot, and good characters, this book is worth reading. It gets a 3.5/5*** — I liked it, but I didn’t love it. (Though I wouldn’t have felt upset at having paid $2.99 for it, either.) If it survives and becomes a series, I’ll probably check out the next book.

___________________________________

* Disclosure; I received a free copy of the book for review.

** There are always exceptions to the “easy reads,” The Hunger Games, for example, is not “easy” in any way. (But it’s well worth it.)

*** I am not the sort to read mystery/thrillers often, and I do not enjoy them as much as I enjoy sci-fi/fantasy/romance plots. I think if I were more of a mystery/thriller type this could easily have been a 4/5 or higher.

4 Comments

Filed under Book Review, General Fiction, Mystery & Suspense, Realistic Fiction

Glass Houses

Caine, Rachel. Glass Houses (2006). 239 Pages. Penguin. $6.99

The Morganville Vampires: Volume 1

From the Back Cover

Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Don’t stay out after dark.

It’s a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows– one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school’s social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn’t have the right connections– to the undead who run the town.

When Claire heads off campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life. But they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood…

First Lines

On the day Claire became a member of the Glass House, somebody stole her laundry.

When she reached into the crappy, beat-up washing machine, she found nothing but the wet slick sides of the drum, and–like a bad joke– the worst pair of underwear she owned, plus one sock.

Thoughts

I clearly have a strong bias towards strong female characters, which are not really present in this series. Claire is smart, but she’s a victim; she doesn’t get revenge, doesn’t stop the bullying, and the violence, she just flees. There are definitely times when retreating is the best idea, and this book is full of those times.

There’s a lot going on here; an entire town is run by vampires, and most of the human denizens live in fear, and are largely treated as livestock. They are branded by their “protector” who has control over many parts of their lives. They are required to donate blood, their movements are tracked, and they don’t even pretend to have the freedom to leave. What makes them put up with it? Fear and complacency.

Perhaps because of the fear and complacency, when Claire gets into trouble, the only people who try to help her are the loners and outsiders, the people who nobody else wants; Eve, Shane, and Michael. Things start to get really crazy when the four outcasts realize that they can’t keep running, and they aren’t safe, even together.

The novel manages to be interesting, and relatively unique. Everything fits together, and it seems cohesive, which is something. It’s hard to read about characters who are victims to everyone, who never have a true victory, and who are unfortunately at the bottom of the totem pole with no hope of ever rising from that position. There are still moments of humor which lighten the whole thing up, and which count for quite a bit.

This particular volume ends in a semi-cliffhanger, so I would advise having the second volume on hand to continue the story.

It gets a 3.5/5; it’s good, but not amazing.

2 Comments

Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Othello (Volume 7)

Ikezawa, Satomi. Othello 7 (2006). 192 Pages. Del Rey. $10.95

Previously: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6

The Story This Far…

Yaya Higuchi is your typical Japanese teenager; she goes to school, hangs out with friends, and tries to fit in. Unfortunately, in her efforts to fit in, Yaya has taken it too far, and has become an incredibly quiet, timid girl who gets picked on because she takes it.

Enter Nana, a loud-mouthed opinionated girl who thrives on violence and will enforce Justice upon those who deserve it. She confronts school bullies of varying calibers; from Yaya’s “friends” Seri and Moe to the Hano the pimp, Nana cleans the school. But Nana’s work is never done; there are gropers and molesters and perverts and all sorts of icky people for Nana to beat.

However, there’s more going on for Nana than just Justice; she longs to be a singer, a real rock-star. When an opportunity presents itself (in the form of an invite from Shohei himself) Nana takes it, determined to follow through, no matter what.

Yaya, meanwhile, has withdrawn, unable to comprehend everything which has been going on in her life; she cannot handle the turmoil, and reality is just too upsetting. This leaves Nana in charge of their body until further notice. Will Yaya ever come back? And if Yaya does come back, what will happen to Nana?

In This Volume

Moriyama is worried that Yaya will never come back to him, can he do anything to coax her out? Nana, meanwhile, is pursuing her dream, and wondering what will happen to her if Yaya never returns. Everything comes to a not-so-surprising conclusion.

Thoughts

The series as a whole is very interesting; Nana and Yaya are opposites, completely different people stuck in the same body, yet they need each other. Without Yaya, Nana wouldn’t have restraint, and without Nana, Yaya would lack the courage to do nearly anything. Having been forced to abruptly come to terms with the fact that there she has another personality which she is not aware of is difficult, at best.

Interestingly, the two share the same dream, though Nana pursues music with a more single-minded determination than Yaya, who would not go against her father’s wishes to chase her dream.

There are some issues; characters fade in and out as convenient, setting is frequently established in one frame, and then the characters float in empty panels for a while, and sometimes the story doesn’t seem to know where it’s going. However, the story still fights on through all this, and ends up being a very fun, interesting approach to discovering your identity.

This volume gets a 3.5, because it was a bit rushed, and got a little too cheesy right at the end. However, the series gets a 4/5.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Graphic Novel, Shojo Manga, Young Adult Fiction