Archive for November, 2012


SnowblindSnowblind by Michael McBride

Published November 27th, 2012 by Delirium Books

Cover and synopsis provided by the publisher.

Buy this book at: DarkFuse / Amazon

Synopsis:

They come at night.

Forward.

A stranger staggers out of the wilderness under the cover of a blizzard and stumbles into a diner full of people. He collapses in the entryway, unzips his jacket, and allows the object hidden inside to fall out. Screaming commences.

Down.

Four old college buddies embark upon their annual elk hunting trip into the Rocky Mountains. This promises to be their last, for the passage of time is as merciless and unpredictable as the Colorado weather. And they’re not alone.

Help.

There are other hunters in the mountains, stalking game of a different breed. They know exactly what they’re doing, because they’ve been hunting in these woods for a long, long time. And no one ever survives to betray their existence.

Rating (out of 5): 4 star

Review:

This is a short story (only 69 pages on my e-reader, I know it made me giggle too) but it is a creepy one in that short amount of time.  I had never read anything by this author prior to this story but I must say that I am going to check out his other work now.  The basic premise is that four long time friends go out elk hunting once a year to bond, get drunk, and just have a good time.  This year, however, they run into the middle of a blizzard.  They retreat to the safety of an abandoned cabin for shelter when one of them is gravely injured but soon find that they are not the only ones doing some hunting, but now they are the prey.

The aura of this book is super creepy.  I could feel the tension from the very first page when we have a man who is halfway dead stagger into a diner and throw open his coat and everyone starts screaming.  I admit that I had a moment where I giggled inappropriately imagining him as a flasher, but that passed quickly into uneasiness and major creep factor.  Right away I sensed that this mystery man was one of the four friends but I was anxious to find out which one, and what he had in his coat.  He referred to it as “proof”.  I spent the whole story contemplating what kind of proof and proof of what exactly.

One of the more remarkable things about this story is that I was terrified of this monster, whatever it was, that was stalking these men but didn’t actually see it for the majority.  Not until the very end did we actually see the monster.  Most of the time whatever was hunting them was hiding in the shadows and using the blizzard as cover.  This made it  incredibly scary and every time one of the men turned a corner I wanted to shout, “No!  What if it’s hiding around the corner!!”

I was highly anticipating the ending of the story and that is where it falls off the five star train for me and runs to the four star track.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but I will say that it was one of those moments where I celebrated and then sat there and thought “Wait, what?!  What just happened?!”  It was jarring, which is a good thing.  But it also didn’t make much logical sense to me.  I think anyone with an ounce of common sense would not have done that.  Unless of course they did it on purpose.  Actually, now that I think about it that would make it ultra sinister.  Hmmm, I am not sure if it was a flop ending or magnificently creepy. Maybe you should read this and decide for yourself.

I received an ARC copy of this story from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  No compensation or promises were made.  Thank you Delirium Books for this great read!

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Published July 10th, 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Buy this book at B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover photo and synopsis from the Goodreads book page.

Synopsis:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.

Rating (out of 5):
Review:

Wow, wow, and just wow!  Normally I am a bit apprehensive about reading debut novels because they tend to be either hit or MASSIVE miss.  Since there is no previous work to compare public reaction to, unless I am very interested in a book and hear good things about it, I won’t risk it.  I already have a massive pile of books that just keeps getting higher every day to bother with something that may or may not be good!  But after hearing so many rave reviews about it and seeing some reviewers whose opinions I highly value thinking it was amazing, I knew I needed to check this out.  And all I can say at the end is wow. Now I present you, reasons I loved this book:

First, you have an absolutely compelling cover.  The dragon flying over the village with the faint red splatters on the image.  Admittedly I almost had a panic attack that I had stained the cover somehow, until I noticed that is how it was supposed to be.  The cover was beautiful in its own way and makes you want to read the story.  I am also intrigued with dragon stories, so I’ve been looking for a good one.

Second, you have the way this book is written.  It was lyrical and magical.  The language in this book is beautiful.  I was unsurprised to learn that the author was inspired to write this book by music.  You can almost hear the music as you read.  As a great lover of classical music, I loved this aspect so much. Music is also a vital aspect to the plot so that was a lovely plus as well.  I also have to comment on the vocabulary in this book.  It is classified as a YA book, but the language is not nearly as elementary as a typical YA book.  I loved that, it made the book feel like it was anticipating its audience to be intelligent individuals and won’t talk down to them.  That’s nice.  But if you are not the most vocab rich reader, you will still love this book but there may be a few times that you need to reach for a dictionary.

Third, the characters and world building in this book are superb.  The world is so deeply detailed that you can imagine yourself walking through the streets and see the characters in your mind.  The characters are delightfully detailed and all of them have flaws and talents and their own unique personality.  Seraphina was a character that you can love and then be annoyed with all at the same time.  I found myself yelling at her in pure frustration a few times, but being moved to tears by her at other times.

There were only two things that kept this from a perfect five stars.  I suspected the red herring for the villain a bit too quickly. It felt like it was being shoved in my face “THIS IS THE BAD GUY!!”, that rather quickly I started to think, no this isn’t the bad guy at all. I didn’t have any idea who the real bad guy was but I knew it wasn’t that one!  And the romance.  While at first I liked the unique aspect of this “love triangle” and appreciated that it didn’t come off like a typical love triangle, the way it ended in the book really pissed me off.  I just sat there dumfounded that the hero would suggest something so stupid and selfish!  And further dumfounded that Seraphina didn’t promptly slap him in the face for suggesting it!  Hopefully that will be resolved in the sequel because as it stands this left a bad taste in my mouth for the end of the book.  Two things that prevented me from giving this a five star rating, but ultimately I loved this book and am eagerly anticipating the next one.  If you are looking for something fun, well written, and unique then you might want to give this one a try.

Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders

Renegade by J.A. Souders

Expected Publication: November 13th, 2012 by Tor Teen

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

Cover and Synopsis from the Goodreads book page

 

Synopsis:

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.

Her memories have been altered.

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb… and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

 

Rating (out of 5):

 

Review:

I have a serious, serious case of coverlust for this book.  I first saw this cover online in February.  It is so spectacular that I literally drooled over it.  I loved the cover and the little blurb that went with it and I knew I needed to read this book.  Frustratingly, I couldn’t find it available for pre-order anywhere I looked.  So I added it to my to-buy list and then it got pushed to the back of my mind.  Until I saw it pop up on NetGalley and I had a complete fangirl moment of squealing in pleasure and then praying that I would get a copy for review.  When I did, it was another fangirl squeal moment with the intense prayer that this book not disappoint me .  And I am delighted to say that it did not disappoint at all.
“My life is just about perfect.”

This is the story of Evelyn.  She wakes up every morning and goes out to her gardens and plays violin or does her cross stitching until her Maids come fetch her for whatever task she is supposed to do that day.  Yes, her life is just about perfect.  Or so she thinks, but then her memory isn’t exactly very trustworthy.  We learn within the first chapter of this book that something strange is going on with Evelyn and we realize that although we are in her head for this book, we can’t trust what she’s telling us because she can’t trust what she’s telling us.  From the very start you are put off kilter by this book and it just gets more disturbing from there.

“Failure will not be tolerated. The only result of failure is death
-Enforcer Statute 104A.3”

This is quite possibly the most apt description of Mother (the leader of this underwater world) that one could possibly come up with.  She is intent on perfection.  The perfect society, the perfect citizens, the perfect daughter, the perfect world.  And she will go to any lengths to get it.  Her true nature is given to us as a reader very early on, and she just gets more and more twisted the farther you get.  It seemed like every single chapter I was left with my mouth hanging open in shock that she would stoop that low, and then she would stoop even lower the next time.  Mother was an excellent villain for this book.  Just reading her name  now is giving me chills, and I finished the book hours ago.

“Surface Dwellers are dangerous and manipulative, they should be shot on sight.”

Then we meet Gavin, a Surface Dweller, who is taken into custody and Evelyn is charged with questioning him to discover how he came to their underwater world.  She is intrigued with his stories of the surface but struck that they sound so different from what she has always been taught.  He looks so much different than anyone else in her world of Elysium, and he seems genuinely interested in everything she is and does.  They quickly form a bond and as the lies start being uncovered they go on the run together to learn the truth and make a life for themselves without being under Mother’s thumb.  This romance does have a bit of a smack of insta-love but it didn’t feel that way to me.  It felt like two young people who have been thrown together out of a sheer need to survive and form an instant bond that will hopefully keep them alive.  I liked that, it felt genuine to me.  I also LOVE Gavin.  He is everything you could ever want in a YA hero.  He is smart, brave, intelligent, funny, helpful, thoughtful, and throws in a bit of sarcasm to break up the tension.  He accepts Evelyn for who she is and what challenges are presented to be with her, and accepts that he needs to be a man protecting them but also allow Evelyn the opportunity to do her own bit of rescuing too.  He is protective without being controlling.  He is intelligent without being annoying.  And he is confident without being cocky.  Evelyn is the same way and so they are largely the perfect match for each other.  Evelyn is smart and brave too but also very damaged.  She is broken and damaged and that is something a reader can relate to.

If you looked at this book and thought that it sounded like a fun, fancy free, light-hearted book about people who live in the ocean, you might want to keep on looking.  This book starts out dark from the first chapter and it only gets more gritty and disturbing from there.  But that is what made it wonderful and I didn’t want to put this book down.  I read the last 150 pages or so in one sitting because it was so impossible to put it aside.  There were a few minor issues that kept this from being 5 stars.  First I was never really quite sure why Evelyn was so attracted to Gavin.  I knew why I would be attracted to Gavin but Evelyn only seemed to talk about how he looked different than everyone else and she liked it when he touched her.  That seemed shallow when there were so many other things that could have been added to that.  Also at times there was so much going on with the plot that it got a little confusing to keep track of things.  But, if you want a dark and gritty book that will absolutely capture your attention and have you reading late into the night, then I suggest you buy this book.

This book was received from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  No compensation or promises were exchanged.  All quotes are from an unedited advance copy of the book.

 

The Fleshless Man by Norman Prentiss

Published October 30th, 2012 by Delirium Books

Photo and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at B&N / Amazon

Synopsis:

“The Fleshless Man wants to kill me,” his mother said.

Curtis never enjoyed the cool, oppressive atmosphere of his childhood home, and that atmosphere is even worse when he returns as an adult. His mother is dying, and her illness seems to infect everyone around her: Curtis’s brother has developed a nervous habit that might indicate more serious problems; the attending nurse exhibits puzzling, possibly sinister behavior; and Curtis himself suffers from nightmares and uncharacteristic dark thoughts.

It’s as if the house itself wants his mother to die more quickly—and it will achieve that goal however it can.

Even if it must inspire Curtis to imagine harming his own mother.

Even if it must summon the intervention of a strange entity called the Fleshless Man.

Rating (out of 5):

Review:

I have a feeling this might be a very short review, because it is a very short story.  My ebook edition of this was only 66 pages, so it barely qualifies as a novella but is too long for a short story.  Reading the synopsis I was fascinated by what this book had to offer.  Then I was surprised that it was so short, but still intrigued with the story I started on my way.  And that’s about when the confusion set in.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.

The writing in this novella is not bad, in fact it could be described as very good.  It was descriptive and compelling when it needed to be.  But unfortunately there wasn’t much to describe because the story was so thin.  This author is clearly a good author who deserves all the praise you find on his biography.  Given more time and length I think this story could have been incredible too.  But being so short just made this story confusing and boring in many places.

Let me be really honest here, that line at the beginning of the synopsis, “The Fleshless Man wants to kill me.”  I didn’t even see that part and so when the character Curtis says that his mother said it my first reaction was “Really?  Where? I didn’t see it.”  I still am not aware of when that was exactly because I couldn’t find it.  Much of this story starts as a dream, but I was never fully aware of when we were in a dream and when we were not.  If that was the author’s intention then it was done well, but I didn’t like it.  If it wasn’t the intention then that was a failure.

The monster in this story is glossed over and not really that important to the story which was a disappointment since it bears the monster’s name.  I just wasn’t quite sure what this was about.  If it had been longer and more detailed I probably would have liked it.  But instead I just got to the end and thought, “That’s it?  Really? I have no idea what I was reading for the last 66 pages.”  And even after some reflection, I still find that those feelings are very accurate.
This book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  No money or promises were exchanged.

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Published: October 23rd, 2012 by Harlequin Teen

Cover photo and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository

Synopsis:

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Rating (out of 5):

Review:

I first heard of this book through Goodreads.  Several people whose reviews I trust posted how excited and thrilled they were to read this book and I was intrigued.  Obviously I had heard of Julie Kagawa, but to see several people I trusted so excited about it, then it had to be something special.  I admit to being rather skeptical over whether I would like it or not since it is a spin-off of Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, which I have not read (that will be rectified now!).  But I was not only pleasantly surprised, I was pleasantly blown away.

This is a YA book, without being a typical YA book.  Ethan is the “bad boy” who really isn’t a bad boy he just wants everyone to leave him alone so that he doesn’t bring any more trouble on himself so he acts the role of a tough guy.  That was nice, to see a hero in a YA book that was smart, brave, kind, considerate, polite, gentlemanly, and funny.  I loved Ethan!  Although I admit that there were several moments where I wanted to shake him for being a moron, but he redeemed himself by the end.  Kenzie was also so very different from most YA heroines.  She is smart, funny, loving, generous, selfless when it’s necessary, and self-confident.  That last one made me so happy I almost cried!  A YA heroine with self-esteem and confidence in herself!  It’s like…the holy grail!

Then you have the story, this was really well done.  Half-breed fey and exiled fey are disappearing, and Ethan unwittingly gets pulled into it.  But once he’s into the situation he is determined to figure out what is going on and save one of his school companions who disappeared.  Kenzie gets pulled along just because she was stubbornly following Ethan around and became a target by accident.  They visit Ethan’s sister, the Iron Fey Queen, to tell her what is going on and asking for help about what to do.  When this reunion does not go the way Ethan expected, he strikes out on his own to solve the mystery himself.  I was intrigued with this story, so much that I was cursing at everyone who dared to interrupt my reading time.  I was staying up late to read some more, I was ending my lunch breaks at work later and later just to get in a few more pages.  I got addicted to this book in a bad way.
There was a nice simple romance in this book, which I greatly appreciated.  There was no looking into each other’s eyes and falling instantly in love.  There was no unnecessary third wheel who really doesn’t belong in the story at all.  It was just a simple boy and girl who start out quite snarky and irritable with each other who end up as friends before it develops into more.  I loved that.  I loved watching their relationship develop and grow into something more than just friends and allies.  I ahhhhh’d with joy and love when they finally confirmed their feelings for each other.  This is one of the better romances I’ve read in a while.

There were a few moments where I didn’t quite understand what was going on or who someone was, and I assume this is because I haven’t read the Iron Fey series.  But these minor instances were not crucial to the plot and so I was able to bypass them easily without any effect on my enjoyment of the story.  By the time I got to the end of this book all I could do was sigh in contentment and close the cover on my Nook gently, sad that it was over but thrilled that I loved it so much.

 
This book was provided free of charge by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.  No other compensation or promises were provided.