Magic Study: The Study Trilogy 2

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Teaser: Yelena has escaped death by running from Ixia. She now finds herself in the jungle kingdom in which she was kidnapped from all those years ago. Trouble still comes from all directions, but what has her scared the most is coming face-to-face with the people who claim that they are her parents and brother.

Short Thought: An exciting sequel that builds upon the first novel very well.

Expanded Thoughts: Wow, plot lines are popping out everywhere. I thought Yelena was just a convicted criminal poison taster, but that was just the surface.

This novel is a good contrast to the first novel. The first was set in Ixia (the cold, militaristic, structured capital) and this one is set in the humid, free-flowing, jungle lands. These are the same jungle lands in which Yelena was born and that are responsible for her magical abilities.

Yelena gets to meet her 'family,' and we get to learn a little bit more about what brought her into Ixia in the first place. She even gets to attend a school that focuses on honing her abilities and expanding her power.

My only complaint is that Yelena has 'mary sue' syndrome. Everything that happens, happens to Yelena. Any problem that arises, Yelena is the only one in the universe who can solve it. If there's evil in the world, it's after only Yelena. Don't get me wrong, it did make it a more casual read, but it sure did get annoying at times.

Additional Notes: This novel contains scenes of mild violence.

Additional Notes: This is the 2nd novel in the Study Trilogy by Maria V. Snyder.

Tempting Danger: World of the Lupi Series 1

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Teaser: She's a tough-nosed detective, he's a playboy heir to a werewolf compound. Fate would bring them together in a way they could never predict.

Short Thought: Sexy, paranormal romance.

Expanded Thoughts: Ugh, so I'll admit it, I have delved into a tad bit of the romantic fantasy (I watched a Lifetime movie that day too geez). I enjoyed it. The plot was forced, characters predictable, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. A "better than TV" read. I look forward to reading these on my estrogen-charged days.

Additional Note: This is the first novel of the World of the Lupi series by Eileen Wilks.

Shakespeare's Landlord: The Lily Bard Mysteries 1

Friday, May 29, 2009

Teaser: Lily Bard makes her living by cleaning houses in the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas. She isn't your ordinary maid. She works out religiously and takes karate several times a week. Underneath it all are scars etched in her skin from her past in Memphis that made worldwide true crime news. With all this, Lily has become one tough 30-something and knows how to take care of herself. As she finally starts getting a routine together in Shakespeare, she finds herself swooped up into town drama--even murder.

Short Thought: Short, uncomplicated mystery targeted to female readers.

Expanded Thoughts: So, I decided to read some more of Charlaine Harris' work after I finished the available Sookie novels. This is one of her older series, and it doesn't have any supernatural overtones in it. It's just pure chic lit mystery.

Lily is a very strange character. She is a victim of a severe trauma (as seen by her many scars) and worked through it by putting herself in the best shape possible. She works out like crazy, and is very good at martial arts. She is very rigid and independent.

This is an average short, summer read. If you want a chic lit mystery that doesn't try to be anything else, then this is your book.

Additional Notes: This book contains some mildly dark themes.

Additional Notes (2): This is the first novel in the Lily Bard Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.

Magic Bites: Kate Daniels Series 1

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teaser: Kate Daniels is a self-proclaimed hard ass living in an alternate world Atlanta. She doesn't have a soft bone in her body, and it makes her a damn good mercenary. For this first adventure, her guardian is found murdered, and she requests the help of several local supernatural factions to get to the bottom of it. She finds herself entwined not only in a savage murder case, but also in the politics of the local shape shifters.

Short Thought: Wonderful, paranormal adventure suitable for both female and male tastes.

Expanded Thoughts: Well, I could never call this a piece of genius or great literature, but dang was it entertaining. It was like watching one of those fantasy shows on TV. If you look at it just as a entertainment piece and easy read, it succeeds. It is simple. There are no complicated characters or plots lines, and everyone adheres to a stereotype. That being said I think I am going to read the next one. Reads like this are perfect in the morning over coffee, or as a great substitute for TV. I mean I am already caught up in the potential love story (they get me every time dag nabbit).

Additional Note: This is the first book of the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews.

The Battle of the Hammer Worlds: Helfort's War 2

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Teaser: Michael Helfort has finally recovered from his last mission and has been assigned to a new ship. He runs into nothing but trouble with his new superiors, and is even held on false criminal charges. Unfortunately, that is just the beginning of his troubles. His ship runs into trouble and he finds himself, and the rest of his crew, captured in an enemy prison camp. What's worse is that the man in charge of his torture is familiar with his name and is determined to break him in any means necessary to obtain information.

Short Thought: This totally can't be a sci-fi space opera, I completely loved it! It wasn't boring, too complicated, or linear. Can't want until the next one!

Expanded Thoughts: The first novel in this series confused me, and I found it hard to follow. But I'm so glad that I decided to read the second one. It was awesome! It was possibly the best space opera, sci-fi novels I've read! (I usually find space operas dry and boring).

The main character, Helfort, is a very complex and human character. We get to see him harmed and forced to make questionable choices while there are forces and enemies at work against him. The other characters are equally complex or interesting. I actually found myself hating certain characters and 'rooting' for others.

If you want to read a space opera/sci-fi book, that actually has a character-centric story, this is definitely the series. It has changed my view of this genre a bit. I can't wait for Book 3!

Additional Notes: This novel contains scenes of mild violence and torture.

Additional Notes (2): This is the second book in the Helfort's War Series by Graham Sharp Paul.

Cast in Shadow: The Chronicles of Elantra 1

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Teaser: The world is split into two major parts--the law enforced lands and the outcast fiefs. The laws of the land are enforced by animal tribes, and the fiefs are full of orphans and chaos. Within all this, a lowly fief orphan is taken in by the hawk lord because of interesting markings that have appeared all over her body.

Fast forward 7 years to when the breadth of the novel takes place, and this orphan, now all grown up, has a spot in the hawks, a strange power, and a chip on her shoulder the size of a crater. She is given an assignment to investigate a series of ritual murders out in the fiefs and finds herself being forced to partner with an aloof dragon and a ghost of her past for whom she hates with a fiery passion. Let the games begin!

Short Thought: Very different, annoying and predictable main character, but mildly entertaining.

Expanded Thoughts: Now, I would not put this in the category of great novels, but I have to say it was very interesting. (I've already queued up the next 2, heh). But it's definitely not on my favorites list.

My main gripe with this novel is that the main character is not likable. She is arrogant, unskilled, immature, delusion, and messy. Very rarely does a main character annoy me as much as this one.

Fortunately, I think I may get hooked on this because the setting is so freaking interesting, and some of the other characters are brilliant and interesting. This series is very unique in this genre. I only hope I fall in love with the character too.

Additional Notes: This is the first novel in the Chronicles of Elantra series by Michelle Sagara.

Grave Sight: Harper Connelly Mysteries 1

Monday, May 25, 2009

Teaser: Harper Connelly didn't get dealt a good hand growing up. And to beat all, she was struck by lightning as a teen inside of the family trailer. She survived, but with a stranger than strange side-effect (other than the usual leg aches, muscle weakness, and anxiety), she can find corpses.

Going on the road with her step brother Tolliver as her manager and caretaker, she has made quite a business off of the gift/curse. Families of missing people often hire her to find a body for a fee. Of course, her 'business' attracts the sneers of skeptics and the intolerant alike, and these become some interesting obstacles for her brother and her to overcome.

Short Thought: Mystery with a unique twist and a wonderfully flawed main character.

Expanded Thoughts: I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. I think it was mostly due to the fact that it didn't have all that cheesy, smutty romance (there's a time and place) in it that a lot of the books in this genre have.

There was also a very sweet dynamic between Harper and her step brother Tolliver. After she was struck by lightning, Harper has trouble with panic attacks and leg pains, but Tolliver is always right there by her side. They care for each other, but in a different way. It was very refreshing to see something different. Some of the novels similar to this follow a stock formula, and I usually don't even have to read it to know what's going to happen. This novel was a refreshing deviation from that norm.

Additional Notes: This is the first novel in the Harper Connelly Series by Charlaine Harris.

The Sleeping God: Dhulyn and Parno Series 1

Sunday, May 24, 2009

(Violette Malan)

Teaser: Dhulyn is the only survivor of her massacred clan. Parno is a former high nobleman. What the two of them have is common is that the both left their pasts behind and became Mercenary brothers who are forever partnered.

Short Thought: Traditional fantasy setup with wonderfully interesting characters.

Expanded Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was a good ol' mercenary, D&D-type adventure. The characters are very interesting to watch. (Or read rather, well at least no dice rollin', eh?) It kept me reading until the wee morning hours. I can't wait to read the next one to better get a feel for this series.

Additional Notes: This is the first book in the Dhulyn and Parno series by Violette Malan

Ill Wind: Weather Warden Series 1

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Teaser: Joanne Baldwin is desperately racing across the country. She's been afflicted by a deadly curse, and is on the run from those who would like to frame her with murder. While fighting to stay alive and hidden, she is searching for any clues that would lead her to her old friend Lewis, a guy who is also on the run and hasn't been seen for years. If she doesn't find him soon, she's as good as dead.

Short Thought: Sexy, light, fun, and romantic fantasy story that steps away from the vampire and werewolf themes to which so many others in the genre are clinging.

Expanded Thoughts: This is the ultimate summer read for the romantic fantasy genre. It's fun; it's simple; and it not long. It is also a nice change from where a lot of the chic fantasy series are going. (Vampires, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, etc). This novel focuses on Djinn (Genies) and using science to control the elements. (Weather, Fire, Earth, etc).

Enough about the fantasy element, what about the romance? I think the author created a perfect counterpart to Joanne in David. He is the perfect guy for every reader. Their dynamic and history is very interesting, and, dare I say it, fiery. It is one of the best romances in this genre I have seen in awhile. I'm curious to see where it goes.

Additional Notes: This novel contains mild sexual scenes and themes.

Additional Notes (2): This is the first book in the Weather Warden Series by Rachel Caine.

Something from the Nightside: Nightside Series 1

Friday, May 22, 2009

Teaser: John Taylor makes his living as a mediocre private eye working in London. Unfortunately, business has been slow as of late, and John is running out of cash fast. John's luck turns around when a mysterious upperclass businesswoman comes knocking on his door with a case for him. She is willing to pay John more money than he has ever received for a job to find her runaway daughter and drag her back home. As always, there is a catch. The daughter is believed to have run away to Nightside, the fabled dark inner part of London. John must make a choice, refuse the job and find other ways out of his financial situation, or accept the job and travel to Nightside where he would have to face a part of his past that he has been running from for years.

Short Thought: Although very cheesy and cliched, I found it entertaining in a "sadistic, twisted" kind of way."

Expanded Thought: I had never read a novel like this before. It wasn't serious and brooding; It was freakin' fun to read! It was watching an old noir film on acid.

The characters in Nightside are ridiculous, and that's why I like them. There are the epitome of a stereo-type (PI, Tough As Nails Chick, Grumpy Bartender, etc), but they have little twists that make them funny and amusing to read.

If you are looking for a short, deliciously, dark, and fun fantasy story, you have to check out this series. My only complaint is that it is beyond cliche at times, and it can get annoying. I hope in later books it won't be this bad.

Additional Notes: This novel does contain some scenes of a dark nature.

Additional Notes (2): This is the first book of the Nightside series by Simon R Green

The Fire Kimono: Sano Ichiro Novels 13

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Teaser: Tensions are high between Sano and Matsudaira (and Yanagisawa). Sano is making preparations to go to war when a murder attempt is made on Reiko and their two children. But it, and his issues with Matsudaira get put on hold when a skeleton belonging to a long lost cousin of the emperor is discovered.

Matters are made worse when Sano's mother becomes the prime suspect and refuses to speak up against the charge. Just when Sano was close to being rid of Matsudaira, his family and he are sentenced to death by execution if he cannot clear his mother's name.

Short Thought: The best in historical mystery. Tense, gripping, rich, and ever-developing.

Expanded Thoughts: What can I say? I have been following this series for years now and will continue to in the future. Though, I am curious to see where the story will go from here. The characters all have grown to different stages in their lives, but the tensions and dangers are ever present. I can't wait to find out!

Additional Notes: This is the 13th novel in the Sano Ichiro Mysteries. (The other books from the beginning are: Shinji, Bundori, The Way of the Traitor, The Samurai's Wife, The Concubine's Tattoo, Black Lotus, The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria, The Dragon King's Palace, The Perfumed Sleeve, The Assassin's Touch, Red Chrysanthemum, and The Snow Empress)

The Battle at the Moons of Hell: Helfort's War 1

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Teaser: Michael Helfort, fresh graduate from the academy, gets his first assignment as a crewman on vessel 387 on a mission to rescue prisoners who have been held on an inescapable planet named Hell. Soon, Michael finds out that his Mother and Sister are among the prisoners. He's willing to do anything it takes to rescue them.

Short Thought: Great main character. It has that 'personal vibe' that many space operas lack. I look forward to reading the next one.

Expanded Thoughts: I'm not a huge fan of Sci-fi in general, but there are a couple space operas I have liked in the past. The cover on this book was pretty (gets me every time), and so I bought it and read it.

It was very hard to follow with all the terminology and alternate worlds (usually why I don't read Sci-fi). The parts that focused on the main character's social life were brilliant, though. I think once I can get a grasp on the world and terms, this will be quite a gem. (with a pretty cover!)

Additional Notes: This is the 1st book in the Helfort's War"series by Graham Sharp Paul.

Dead Until Dark: Sookie Stackhouse Series 1

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

(Charlaine Harris)

Teaser: Vampires have been living amongst humans for centuries. With the new invention of synthetic blood, they have finally come out in the open as a race. (In the guise of having a disease called 'vampirism.') People are still afraid, but now they know what they should fear.

Enter Sookie Stackhouse. She's a bar waitress in the small rural town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. During the years,rumors have surrounded her because of her special abilities. Sookie has always been able to hear the thoughts of others. It has been a curse all of her life. She can't date, keep good friends, and everyone thinks that she's touched in the head.

Sookie's world collides with the vampires when she gets her first vampire customer at the bar. To her surprise and relief, she is unable to hear his thoughts. From that first meeting on, she intertwines herself with the life of the local vampires and the trouble that comes with it.

Short Thought: Short, Fun, interesting, country-fried paranormal romance.

Expanded Thoughts: This book has a special spot in my heart, because it portrayed the small town country life very well. All the stereotypes were there. (And let me tell you, they exist.)

It didn't let me down; it read so smooth, like a conversation around Virginia slims and sweet tea on a front porch swing, that you could really picture the characters and hear their voices.

I knew that I had to read this novel when I read that it was about the deep south complete with a Vampire named Bill. Not something ancient and mysterious sounding, but 'Bill.' I totally love it!

This novel is a great summer read, or a perfect starting point into the romantic fantasy genre. It has murder mystery, romance, politics, intrigue, and an interesting setting all rolled up into one. If you love that theme of the 'innocent girl' meets the 'brooding mystery man' and 'her world is turned upside down' theme, then you can't pass this novel up!

Additional Thoughts: This novel contains scenes of mild violence and sexual situations.

Additional Thoughts (2): This novel is the first novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series (also known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries) by Charlaine Harris.

Poison Study: The Study Trilogy 1

Monday, May 18, 2009

Teaser: Yelena, who has been imprisoned for murder, awaits her execution. The day finally arrives, but instead of a noose or a pistol, a job opportunity is offered to her. She can choose a quick execution, or she can accept the job of being the General's poison taster which ultimately lead to a slow, agonizing death.

Short Thought: Wonderful, original characters, and unique situations. A wonderful adventure from the beginning onward. I can't wait to read it again.

Expanded Thoughts: I admit it...I actually bought this for the pretty cover. ( those marketers again). I was pleased to find a very entertaining fantasy/action/romance.

The idea of the world is interesting (two main lands: North (Ixia, a communist-like, militaristic land), and the South (a lax jungle land where magic is used as opposed to machines)).

The main character is also very fun to read about (she is a bit of a 'mary sue', but I like her, so that's okay in my eyes). She's not your typical main character. We are introduced to her at her lowest point, as a guilty murderess awaiting her sentence. Her actions and glimpses to her past keep forever guessing her true identity and her next move.

The plot is nicely paced, easy to understand, and still has enough surprises and twists to keep your interested peeked. Overall, this was a nice all around adventure.

Additional Notes
: This is the first novel in The Study Trilogy by Maria V. Snyder. (The others include Magic Study and Fire Study.)

Nightlife: Cal Leandros Series 1

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teaser: This book centers around a pair of brothers, Niko and Cal, who are extremely close due to the unfortunate lives dealt to them. It focuses on the younger brother, namely Cal, who has a dark side (an inhuman father) that just won't die. They have to decide whether to keep running or face their problems head on. Unfortunately, these are the types of problem that won't shrink away nicely.

Short Thought
: Interesting, paranormal story that sets itself apart from others in this genre. The characters, the two brothers, are very human and believable.

Expanded Thoughts: Finally, I got around to a urban fantasy written in a masculine tone. (Surprisingly, the author is female. I'm still shocked about that.) This novel was good, but I think the author was trying too hard with the humor and sarcasm in some areas.

I am going to definitely continue with the series, because it is different that much of what is out there now. I believe this will turn into one of my favorites.

Especially Recommended For: Folks who like Japanese anime, shows like Moonlight, those of us with a dark sense of humor, and fans of fantasy looking to deviate from the romance series

Additional Notes
: This is the First novel in the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman.

The Lies of Locke Lamora: The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence 1

Friday, May 15, 2009

Teaser: How much trouble could one scrawny homeless orphan be? Too much for anyone except an underground con man. He decides to purchase the orphan, and insures his investment by placing a death mark on him. The death mark, granted by the godfather of the underground, means that if the orphan disobeys or gets in someone's way, he can be killed without consequence. So the prophet takes the little orphan, Locke, under his wing and into his thieving brotherhood, the Gentlemen Bastards, to develop his 'trouble' into invaluable skills.

Fast forward several years, and Locke and his 'brothers' of the Gentlemen Bastards are the most successful tricksters in the city, and fortunately they are the only ones with that knowledge--until a man who calls himself the Grey King appears and Locke finds himself in the most trouble yet.

Short Thought: Beautifully rendered adventure. It has become one of my favorites.

Expanded Thoughts: I actually started out hating this book the first fifth of the way through. It was very hard to understand and plot lines were popping out everywhere. (As you may have guessed, I read for...LEISURE, not brain exercises.) I almost put it down and cut my losses.

Then, like it was a different novel altogether, it became wonderful. Think of a fantasy Ocean's Eleven, but deeper, smarter, and more interesting. The world that Scott Lynch has created is very interesting; and he isn't afraid to place REAL obstacles and tragedies in the main characters' ways. (My favorite thing about any author...)

It was also nice to read a 'masculine' (not about clothes, love, or sex) fantasy novel with depth. We get introduced to beyond witty and intelligent partners in 'crime' who have formed a life long friendship (reminiscent of the westerns my dad watches, or military mates). The pace is wonderful, and the humor is ACTUALLY hilarious. (Gasp!)

Additional Notes: This novel does contain scenes of a dark nature.

Additional Notes: This is the first book in The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch.

Dragonflight: Dragonriders of Pern 1

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Teaser: A young woman bitterly seeks to claim her meager place in the country that once betrayed her. Little did she know that fate would soon intervene. She is soon swept away and placed in the company of the fabled 'dragonriders.'

She has been chosen to be the new weyrwoman, the caretaker of a female dragon, and must raise her dragon to be the mate of the leader, alpha dragon. The woman is overwhelmed but accepts her position, and she begins to lay out plans of her own.

Short Thought: A classic favorite for many fantasy readers. Very unique and vivid setting.

Expanded Thoughts: So a friend of mine has been hounding me to read this series for years. I thought I would finally oblige him. From what I am told Mrs. McCaffey has more fantasy lit cred than Piers Anthony, so I had to finally try it.

I won't lie; I hated this novel the first quarter of it. Perhaps it was the dated syntax or the complicated world, but it just didn't have that magic spark for me. But once the world became clearer to me, I actually enjoyed it, and what a genius imagination this author has! I would have never thought that concepts like this could exist or be created!

For the genre (classic, epic fantasy), it was brilliant, but I gave it a lower rating than most because I am just not a huge fan of this style of fantasy. It's a little too dry for my soap opera-y side, but I can clearly see why so many people have fallen in love with this series. Who knows, maybe in the future I'll conquer the rest of this series. I would almost bet on it at my creepy, fast readin' pace.

Additional Notes: this is the first novel of the Dragonriders of Pern series

Dauntless: The Lost Fleet Series 1

Teaser: For as long as anyone in the Alliance military can remember, they have been at war with the mysterious and powerful Syndic forces. As the Alliance continues to introduce new technology in hopes that it will improve their chances, they find that they are losing worse than ever. Times are dire, and they are at risk of becoming slaves to the Syndic. All hope is dwindling fast until a ship comes across an ultimate find in an old wreckage site. A legendary soldier of the past that has been in a deep sleep for decades.

Jack Geary awakens to a different world. The Alliance that he pledged his life and service to so many years ago is a different creature. To make matters worse, during his slumber, grandiose legends about the great 'Black Jack' Geary are told by everyone--his story has even made it into the education program of every soldier. If that wasn't enough, all of the crew worships him and views him as their savior and solution to all their problems. Despite his out-dated methods, ignorance of the technological advances, and the impossible expectations of the crew, Geary will try his hardest to get them home safely.

Short Thought:
A definitively masculine adventure that is a wonderful addition to the space opera genre.

Expanded Thoughts
: I must admit that I picked this one up because I saw the words: "space", "military", "hero", and "combat" in the description. Being a long term fan of the Robotech novels (as well as Robotech/Macross animated), I had to pick it up and check it out.

I wasn't disappointed (except no Veritechs, but hey, maybe one day), the combat scenes were well described (like naval warships doing formations in the ocean), and the main guy was a likable 'tragic' hero.

I hope the next book is just as entertaining as this one.

Especially Recommended For: Fans of space-themed television shows (Robotech, Gundam, Babylon 5, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, etc.), Fans of stories surrounding militant politics, readers looking to ease their way into this genre

Additional Notes: This is the first book of The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell.
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