Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Disillusionists by Carolyn Crane

The Disillusionists by Carolyn Crane

Mind Games (#1)


Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

Double Cross (#2)
Kitten-Tiger and the Monk (#2.5)
Head Rush (#3)
Devil's Luck (#3.5) 

I finally finished this series up earlier this year, and I loved it, it's become one of my favorite Urban Fantasy stories. I have only shown the blurb for the first book above so I don't spoil anything for you and because it was way too long otherwise. 

The idea of using personality traits as a weapon grabbed me first.  Zinging a criminal with an overdose of fear, recklessness, despair and apathy, anger and more in an attempt to short circuit them from their wicked ways, and reboot them into a life lived by the law isn't like anything I had heard before.  Normally your super powers are being able to fly, shooting lightning bolts, super strength, you know the ones.  But super paranoia? Super recklessness? How was that going to work?

While this new idea got my attention, it was the characters that kept me hooked, Justine the most, her inner monologues as she grapples with her paranoia were so akin to some of the conversations I've had with myself that I really bonded to her, I got her 100%.  The other Disillusionists are pretty much defined by their traits, but are lovable in their own ways. Packard is a mystery, and one Justine is alternately drawn to and frustrated by.  She initially idolizes Otto the Midcity police chief, as does most of the city for his heroic battle against crime, but in time finds out that he hasn't been completely honest with her either. 

Towering over all is the Tangle, a complex mess of highway bridges that seem to be a character in it's own right.  It's a fantastic stage that gives the feel of a system completely overburdened and decaying, that has become so massive and top heavy it's amazing it doesn't collapse on itself, but provides a perfect location for nefarious activity and hideouts.

I'm sad that the story has come to an end, but I'm satisfied with it. 

Right now Carolyn is working on a romantic suspense series called Undercover Associates that I'm looking forward to trying out.  While I'm typically more of a fantasy and paranormal fan, it's her character development and interaction that I really enjoy, regardless of the setting.  For more information on her work see Carolyn Crane's Website.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

From Goodreads:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

From Goodreads:

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

The Raven Boys was my first Maggie Stiefvater book and I'm looking forward to the rest! I have enjoyed the Raven Cycle so much so far, I was drawn in immediately, it was such an interesting idea that spoke to my love of ancient history and the mysteries that abound there. It seemed like such an odd combination to have a private school boy have an obsession with finding the burial place of an ancient Celtic king in Virginia, which isn't actually as out there as it at first sounds if you do a little digging.  History is full of very interesting things we were never told in school. ;)

The range of personalities is wide, from Gansey's easy elegance and competence to Ronan's abrasive destructiveness, Adam's struggles with his pride and anger at his inferior beginnings and Blue's disregard of their social status.  They are all far points on a compass that balance each other beautifully and make for a rounded story.  Even Ronan's pet Chainsaw has her own distinct attitude that made her seem very real, and very much a part of the story.

I actually have to say I liked The Raven Boys a little better than The Dream Thieves which focuses more on Ronan and his fight to master his dreams.  I love Ronan's character, and the dream aspect is very appealing as a plot device but the story line seemed a little more far fetched than in the first book, though still interesting and enjoyable.  I'm completely on board for the rest of the series, and the rest of Maggie Stiefvater's books!

See Maggie Stiefvater's Website for more information on her work.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Seriously Series 2014 - First Check In

I can't believe it's already April, this year is flying by! It's time to check in on the Seriously Series Challenge and see how we're doing! Above are most of the books I've accomplished so far this year for the challenge. Below are my status bars for each section.

Series Started Before 2014

Series = 5/19

Total Books = 8/32

Series Started In 2014

Series = 0/2

Total Books = 1/7

Series Re-Reads In 2014

Series  = 0/1

Total Books = 2/5

I'm exactly 25% of the way through the total number of books on my list, so I'm right on track!  How is everyone else doing?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

From Goodreads:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

 Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

From Goodreads:

The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.

I really wasn't sure what to expect going in to these, the photos used in the covers have that old time eerie feel combined with an extra wrongness that's intriguing and unsettling. I was prepared to find them just too weird, but while they are odd, and really "peculiar" is the perfect word for it, they are also endearing.

The characters are all very alive, with their own distinct personalities aside from their peculiar talents.  The world is our own, current and historical, but also fantastical, often dark and despairing during their travels.  I really felt invested in their struggles, and a bit haunted by some of the scenes presented and their outcomes.

I actually listened to the audiobook so I didn't have the additional photos to look at, but I do intend to go find a real copy so I can check them out.  The covers definitely drew me in, my mind not agreeing with what my eyes were seeing, even though it's there plain as day.

There is a movie scheduled for July 2015, directed by Tim Burton, so I'm definitely on board for that, interested to see how they handle the effects.  I don't see any news on a third book listed yet, but I'm hopeful since the story thus far indicates there should be more. 

Ransom Riggs' website is definitely worth a look as there is information on his other work there, he is deeply interested in photography and old photos and there is a free download there about 13 photographs that changed the world.

When you're ready for something a little different, give these a try.  You might not want to like them at first because parts are just so odd and out of our normal comfort zone of what is, but you'll come around.  I did. ;)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Bloggiesta March 27-30

It's time again for a Bloggiesta! Join us March 27-30 and mark off some of those to-do's you've been meaning to get to, or get some inspiration if you're just starting out. Maybe you've stepped away for awhile and need a kick to get back into it, you'll get all that and more here!

If this sounds like fun to you, head on over to the Bloggiesta Sign Ups Page and then get started on your to do list!

To do:

1. Write/schedule 4 book reviews - 3 down 1 to go!
2. Attend at least 1 Twitter chat done!
3. Work on cleaning up labels
4. Prepare/post a new giveaway
5. Do at least 1 mini-challenge done!
6. Attend the Google+ Hangout (Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern) done!
7. Visit other participants and comment (I need practice at this!)
8. Seriously Series Challenge update post. done!

Whew, that looks like a lot!  Hope to see you there!

1. Attended Social Media Twitter Chat Thursday night at 8 pm, and learned things!
2. Turned on embedded comments so I can reply to individual comments - this excites me!  Thanks to +Tif Sweeney for that tip!
3. Attended +Amanda Shofner's Google+ On Air Hangout Tutorial and now I need to experiment!
4. Completed PicMonkey Challenge and made a new blog header, which led to a complete template color scheme overhaul that may change, but now I know how to do it!
5. Created/scheduled Seriously Series Challenge update, and used PicMonkey again!
6. Wrote/scheduled 1st review - Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series
7. Wrote/scheduled 2nd review - The Raven Cycle series
8. Worked through the About Me Challenge and only needed to add contact info!
9. Got rid of a few pages that I decided weren't needed or interesting to anyone else.
10. Wrote/scheduled 3rd review - The Disillusionists series.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Reading Challenge 3/20 - 6/20 and Read-a-thon March 3/20 - 3/26

I was just thinking I needed a Read-a-thon to get me back in the reading groove, so this is just the ticket! Book Dragon's Lair is hosting a Spring Reading Challenge from March 20th - June 20th, and kicked it off with a Read-a-thon from March 20th - March 26th! Click on the pictures to go to the sign ups, they both start today!

Read-a-thon Progess:

03/20/14 - Starting Line

The First American Army - starting location 103
Blood Rules - starting location 1460
Lover Reborn - starting page 100
Heal Your Headache - starting page 22
A Feast for Crows - starting at 6:10

I'm sure I won't get through all of this in a week, but anything will be progress!

03/22/14 - Update

Backup - Finished!  Picked this up at the library yesterday and gave a quick read last night and today.

03/25/14 - Update

With only one day left, my goal will be to finish Blood Rules, the Kindle says I have just under 3 hours left on it, so hopefully I'll make it!

3/26/14 - Update

So I didn't actually finish Blood Rules, but I only have an hour left on it, so I still consider that pretty good, and more than I've gotten read lately! 

Finish Line:

The First American Army - starting location 103, ended at 103
Blood Rules - starting location 1460, ended at 4425 - estimate 174 pages
Lover Reborn - starting page 100, ended at 128 - 28 pages
Heal Your Headache - starting page 22, ended at 60 - 38 pages
A Feast for Crows - starting at 6:10, ended at 12:00 estimated
Backup - started at 1 - finished at 70

Total = 310 pages and almost 6 hours of listening.

Challenge Progess:

1. Backup by Jim Butcher - finished 3/22/14

Books Completed

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin...time is not on their side.

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove's confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be...anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to

• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they're in "love"
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don't have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe...just

I picked up A Week to be Wicked after hearing much love for the author by Amanda over at On a Book Bender. Our tastes seem to be pretty compatible, so while at the library I decided to see what they had.  A Week to be Wicked is actually the second of the Spindle Cove series, but I went for it anyway, figuring I wouldn't be too lost.  I'm so glad I did, this was a fun, adventurous and intelligent romp that had me laughing and sighing with emotion often on the same page! 

I enjoy historical fiction/romance on it's own, just for the fact of being set historically, but what really gets me attached to a book is when there is another element that ties in to my own interests.  I got that pleasant surprise here, as neither the cover, nor the description hints at the geological/paleontological elements involved.  It's actually a driving factor in the story and I love that!  Francine is a passive but humorous "character" in her own right.  Minerva is a strong woman with scientific interests, she's witty and quick, a girl I could easily identify with.  Colin is a rake, and a mess, but a lovable one, and he does his best to keep his promises, which usually just makes everything go even more wrong the harder he tries.  Of course he's a damaged hero, and we love those right? YES WE DO!  Fictional suffering FTW!

I also loved the dedication in the front: "For all the girls who walk and read at the same time."  Tessa was totally saying to me, "This romance is for YOU!" (I still do it!)

Thanks for the recommend Amanda, I'll definitely be reading more from Tessa Dare!

Amanda's Review of A Week to be Wicked

Tessa Dare's Website
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