October 31, 2014

Quest for the Red Sapphire

 -This book was given to me in return for an honest review-

Quest for the Red Sapphire is a High Fantasy novel that fans of Lord of the Rings will love.  With the help of a small band, Linvin starts out on a quest to find the mythical Red Sapphire in the hope that they can prevent it from being used for nefarious purposes.

On such a quest there surely must be shenanigans barring the way to the goal.  And there were many, many bumps along the way, which just made this book more exciting!

I loved the story, but wasn’t crazy about the writing style.  I call this the Tolkien Problem. 

I’ll explain because that makes no sense.

Like Tolkien’s works I loved the story and the world- it was fantastic and grand and exciting.  The writing, like Tolkien’s, was a bit antiquated and at times slowed the story down a bit.  I tend to have a hard time maintaining interest with such language.  

That isn’t to say that it wasn’t well written, it was- really well written.  The language itself was beautiful.  There were some awesome lines, but I had too many favorites to post them all here.

If you enjoy Tolkien’s writing style and are looking for another good fantasy- this is your book!

October 17, 2014

The Lady's Blessing

-This book was given to me in return for an honest review-

I absolutely adored this novel.

The Lady's Blessing is a fantastically written historical romance.  The main character, Felicity, was realistic and yet retained the ideals modern women value.  Felicity may seem a bit weak to modern readers- always needing to rest and feeling faint- but to readers who love historical fiction, it is details like this that make a historical character realistic.  Women did feign headaches when they were too emotional and wanted to go lie down.   Felicity is demure and well behaved as any lady of this time period should.  And yet she retains her spunk.  She knows who she is and what she wants, and on occasion she shares that quite adamantly.  Her brief moments of spunk were awesome.

I also loved the relationship development between Felicity and Graham.  Too often romance novels skip straight to the sex.  I much prefer to see the relationship build and grow.  The gradual way Felicity comes to love Graham stole my heart, and the inclusion of Kate, Graham's daughter, in the story was beautiful.

Fans of Jane Austen's work will love this book.  If you are looking for a short, well written, beautiful, historical romance- this is the story for you.

5 out of 5 stars for The Lady's Blessing.

October 16, 2014

The Only City Left

-I was given a copy of this book for an honest review-

This book is a roller coaster of awesome and unexpected.  The Only City Left is a novel that will attract fans of The Maze Runner, Miazaki’s "The Cat Returns", and werewolves.

When I first picked up this book I had no idea of what I was getting into.  But it ended up being so much better than I had anticipated.

The cover is perfect.  At first glance it perfectly alludes to a futuristic, dystopian YA novel, but the moon is the crucial element that makes this the perfect cover for this novel.

The Only City Left starts out quite simply, our main character introduces his world to us and gives us his goal- seeing the Roof of the World.  I knew from the very beginning there would be some obstacles in his way.  I couldn’t have guessed just how many obstacles there would be!

Allin’s journey from young boy to confident hero throughout the novel is fantastic, and his companions along the way are as delightful as they are unexpected.

Andy Goldman’s futuristic version of Earth is compelling and original.  The many levels of the City and the amazing citizens of this world pose so many questions that had me ravenously flipping through the pages.

Also…the Clinkers terrify me.  I will be having nightmares for months.  I exaggerate…but really.  Terrifying.  I have not encountered any characters, since reading Joseph Delaney’s Last Apprentice series, that has creeped me out as much as these Clinkers did.  

Favorite quote:
“Then a team of cats had given me a massage while another cat took my measurements.”

This image made me giggle- how does a cat give a massage?  My cat massages me…with his claws... it doesn’t feel good!  I loved the city of the cats.  It was awesome and well imagined, an oasis in the tragedy of what remains of the Earth.

I give The Only City Left 5 out of 5 stars, and I cannot wait to read book two of Allin’s journey.

October 8, 2014

Tears of a Heart

So excited to be doing another review request!  

This review is for Tears of a Heart, by Chase Blackwell.

A continent on the verge of war.
A boy who is destined to become a legend.
A truth waiting to be uncovered.

A powerful coming-of-age tale of a young man destined to become one of the most powerful men Verold has ever known.
It’s a unique tale of adventure, adversity, and strength. Written with the hand of a poet and the heart of a warrior. The book’s action and depth will astound as the reader delves deeper into the masterful world painted in detailed strokes.

The prologue piqued my interested and by the first chapter I was sold.  The language is expressive and at times achingly beautiful and almost bardic.  A previous reviewer remarked that the style is similar to Tolkien.  I have to disagree.  I think the style is more reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss.   Fans of Rothfuss will love this book.  

The sense of world in Tears of a Heart is just fantastic.  In some books it is easy to pretend that the culture the protagonist belongs to spans across the entire world.  Chase Blackwell does a fantastic job of showing how big and varied Aeden’s world is.

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I ADORE Brandon Sanderson.  One of my favorite things about his writing is how well he lays hints.  Tiny, tiny hints that only register in the subconscious that make that big reveal that much better.  Blackwell has the same talent.  The way he laid hints and prods at the future was fantastic.  That red door… even if I had not enjoyed the book I would have been forced to keep reading to figure out what is behind that door…

Seriously…it’s killing me.

Writing good and bad developments in a story is a delicate balance.  Too many awful, soul crushing developments and the reader no longer wants to read the character’s pain.  Too few and the reader gets bored.  Blackwell walks the line really well, the moment you think nothing worse could happen to Aeden is the moment all hell breaks loose.  And I loved it.

I love gray characters.  I often pull out Nabokov’s Lolita to reference the trust placed in a main character.  The main character in Lolita is a child predator, and yet he lulls the reader into a false sense of security, often causing us to forget that he really is a bad guy.
I am not entirely sure yet if Aeden is a hero or villain in this world, and I find that so compelling.   I love how we know a bit about his future, just enough for us to question our trust of him as the protagonist.  But with each section as Aeden as narrator I was won over again- completely trusting that Aeden was a good guy.

Two things I did not love so much:

The language sometimes seemed a bit awkward, and used passive voice quite a lot.  But I was willing to overlook these instances because in other sections the language was beautiful.

The story starts out really strong, setting up our main character, the world he is living in, and the main conflict.  But when he enters the monastery the story got a bit slow.

My favorite lines:
This line was brilliant.  Wisdom rolled into a sentence.  

 This line will not make sense to those who have not read the book, but I got goosebumps.  It is amazing how words can evoke feeling.  These are the perfect words placed in the perfect moment. 

October 3, 2014

Main Street

I got a request for a review this week, and I was super excited.  I love reviewing novels!  Thank you Alexis Rae Hudson for reaching out to me to ask for a review.   I am greatly disappointed to say that I cannot say that I enjoyed the book.  However, I would like to make a disclaimer and remind everyone that these are my opinions only.  While I may not have enjoyed the book, others might- so take what I say with a grain of salt.  But my duty as a reviewer is to review them honestly- and so I shall.

I loved the front cover.  Gray and mysterious.  And it gave clear indication of the type of book I was getting into.  Erotica.  Bring it on.

While the erotic parts were steamy, they were, unfortunately the only part of the book I didn’t want to rip into with my editor’s pen.

Length.  The first thing that really struck me was the pacing.  We were flung from scene to scene too quickly, not given a chance to really delve into the characters, get to know them, empathize with them.  

The two first characters: Skylar and her father Carter.  Skylar refers to Carter throughout the book as ‘Carter’.  I thought at first their relationship must not be fantastic, thus giving us a reason for why she wouldn’t call him Dad, but later she calls him terrific…so I was at a loss.  These kind of unexplained discrepancies drive me nuts because I can’t stop thinking of the WHY.  There must be a reason- but I cannot figure out what that reason is.

Skylar is described as the “girl next door” look, and later we find out that her hips and breasts have filled out from working out (um- not possible btw) and her legs are muscular from her stripper training.  Other than these details we don’t really see Skylar.

I know I sometimes expect too much from erotica.  Some people are of a mind that it should not be realistic-, I call this fluff erotica.  If you can manage to not question the unbelievable parts- very enjoyable.  Skylar goes into an establishment looking for work- but they only have jobs for strippers.  He has every type of exotic woman except the normal looking one- so obviously he just HAS to have her?  Right.  He then begins to talk her into taking the job.  In great detail.  Maybe because I have never tried to get a job as a stripper, but I cannot imagine someone wanting the “normal girl” look so bad that he has to basically beg her to agree to be hired.  Sir, there are many, many normal girls that could be molded and taught how to strip.  Why does it HAVE to be her?  

That being said, I was really looking forward to seeing Skylar’s journey from “good girl” to knowledgeable stripper.  Her trials, the pain and bruises, fittings, learning how things work, how to approach clients.  All of that.  I took a pole dancing class once for research- no lie, writing research.  That shit is HARD.  My thighs were black and purple for two weeks following.  I really wanted to go there with Skylar.  Sadly, this part was skipped over.  

And then she meets THE ONE.  By falling over him, which was fun.  But then they go all “I want you”” I need you”.  *sigh*  Am I the only one who finds getting to know someone sexy?  That is the best part of an erotic novel!  The tension before the resolution.  Anyway.  Literally she falls over him, he asks if she is okay, and then BAM- “ lets sex”.  Also she is a virgin…and she initiates the sex with a blow job.  Which she of course knows how to give….perfectly.  And she swallows.  This might all be believable if we saw her grow from girl next door virgin to strong, sexual stripper…but we didn’t.  But then the actual act itself was much more believable.  Hudson does a good job capturing the delicate balance between the wanting and not knowing what to do.  The sex kind of gets away from Skylar and before she knows what’s what, it’s over.  Erase that bj and this scene was a thumbs up! 
I won’t go into any more detail about the rest of the story in case I throw out any spoilers.  

Main Street could greatly have been improved with the help of an editor for overall discrepancies, plot holes, and grammar.  I found several misspellings (after two and a half years as a copywriter…I can’t NOT see them).  And the commas.  *sigh* One of my initial notes as I was reading was, “Oh god…the commas.”  I don’t think I have anything further to say on that.  But yes, an editor would have helped.  Greatly.

I give Main Street, sadly, one star.  Although I did not enjoy this book, if you like fluff erotica, give Main Street a try- let me know what you think.