Monday, September 24, 2012

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles #2) by Kady Cross

Read: September 22-24, 2012
read in 3 days
pages: 416

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles, #2)

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling - or dangerous. 

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him...for the life of the girl Jasper loves. 

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens. And tightens.

I don't know if its because I JUST finished this book or if was a little more than that but I enjoyed this story much more than the one in The Girl in the Steel Corset. Part of it could be that I was already invested in these characters and was already rooting for them. I really liked these characters especially going into this novel. It took a good chunk of the last book for me to really want to stick with these characters and this story. I admit what got me was the relationship or the potential for a relationship between Finley and Griffin. I just had to see how this was going to play out so I picked up the next book. Luckily though Kady Cross does tease throughout this WHOLE book I was satisfied with where things seem to be going.

This novel gives the reader much more action than the first novel. I remember thinking the last novel things moved very quickly to a climax and an ending, but these wasn't quite enough build up. This one however was a bit more drawn out over the course of the novel which is what kept be interested aside from the maybe or maybe not relationships.

So the gang heads to NY to try to break Jasper Renn free after his being arrested by bounty hunters for murder charges at the end of the first novel. The gang wonders if they can believe the story or is the story wrong and they can truly trust their friend Jasper. In order to work their way in to getting Jasper, Finley comes up with a plan to join the ranks of Reno Dalton's gang of criminals. While her plan is crazy, one she does not consult with an overprotective Griffin, he later realizes the plan just might work. They are on a mission to stop Dalton in whatever his criminal goal may be and as the novel progresses they have countless run ins with him and a particularly annoying Miss Astor-Prynn who is determined to snag Griffin as her husband. In many chance meetings with Finley Miss Astor-Prynn attemps to be Finley in her place, or the place that Miss Astor-Prynn believes her to be in which is below her on the social ladder. This whole debacle between Astor-Prynn, Finley and Griffin was one of my favorites in the novel. Well that and Finley's hog tying a man dressed in her unmentionables! Love her bad ass attitude and that she takes zero crap from ANYONE Griffin included!

I won't give anything else away, and I don't really think I gave away too much as it is, BUT if you happen to read this novel let me know what you think about Mei. I'm still a little up in the air and I'm not sure if I really feel all that sympathetic towards her. Since we don't get much back story or anything on her in terms of why she acts the way she does, or at least has been acting I'm just not sure why she was compelled to act the way she did. I kinda wish Finley and her would have had another go around honestly and maybe we could have learned a bit more about her. But alas that did not happen.

I will for sure be picking up the next book in the series. I'm bummed I have to wait til next year but maybe it won't be too terribly long. I'm even more excited now to see where things go with this little gang. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys a little romance, steampunk themes and a good adventure. Oh and if you read the first book and were only so so on it this one may win you over!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The First Night by M.S. Fowle

Read: September 9-22
read in
pages: 71

The First Night (The First, #1)

Book blurb:
Alex was just twelve years old when she learned monsters are real. Now, nearly ten years later, she and her team of fighters are locked in a secret war with Odin, the ancient faction of wealthy elites genetically engineering these monsters – the Chimeras. But Alex never knew why Chimeras were created… until she meets Zeke. He is Odin's true target, him and his kind. They are of legends and myths. They are the First. But are they friend or foe? There's only one thing Alex knows for sure… don't ever call them vampires.

Not a bad start to a little series. This provides a good bit of action and an interesting take on vampires and their predators the Chimera. The novel follows a gang of young adults who have come together on a mission to rid the world of these evil creatures. Each individuals family has been destroyed in one way or another by these creatures and they are out to seek revenge as well as prevent any further harm. It has become a race against production and evolution as the Chimera are being mass produced more are becoming more evolved in their skill.

The story is told from the point of view of Alex the leader of the urban gang out to destroy the Chimera. Her chance encounter with Zeke during battle one night against the Chimera forges an unlikely alliance that proves useful to both. Through conversations with Zeke, Alex learns that the term "vampire" is a foul term that he and his group find "disrespectful and offensive". He explains that they prefer to be known as "the First" because they feel "vampire" tarnishes their honor. After learning that they share the common goal of eliminating the world of Chimera Alex beings to wonder if there could be potential in joining forces to accomplish their goals. While things are not tied up in the end of this novella there is a set up for the story to continue in the next book.

Overall the story is fairly short and a pretty good quick read. I enjoyed the story and will be continuing the series. I lucked out and bought book one when it was free on Amazon free on Kindle. So after starting book one I snagged the next three which so happened to also be free. If you are tired of the same old thing in urban fantasy, but enjoy a story with vampires this series may interest you.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Read: September 13-20, 2012
read in a week
pages: 340

The Demon Trapper's Daughter (The Demon Trappers #1)

I have been wanting to read this book for a really long time now. I read the bonus short story Retro Demonology and was hooked. There was a lot of action with Riley, the young apprentice, and I was so sure I would love the novel as well. I was disappointed that I did not enjoy it as much as I was hoping to.

Book blurb:
It’s the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Atlanta is no exception. Fortunately, humans are protected by Demon Trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night. Seventeen-year-old Riley, only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing attraction to fellow Trapper apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving citizens from Grade One Hellspawn. Business as usual, really, for a demon-trapping teen. When a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood, she realizes that she’s caught in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell.

I really expected to get sucked into this series but even now as I read that above blurb it really does nolt give any idea of what the actual plot line of THIS book is. The blurb covers what happens in the bonus short story, which in reality was the first couple chapters of this book. A bit misleading really. If you are expecting adventures in trapping demons, well this might not be the book for you.

So the book is set in a future time, granted it is only 2018 but the descriptions seem possible if you are pessimistic in your current world view, for instance the gas prices well prices of everything has sky rocketed and people literally don't drive all that much. A lot of places seem to be abandoned and converted to other uses, for instance a parking lot has been converted to a market, Riley's home is an old hotel, and the kids attend school in old grocery stores and Starbucks buildings. The kids attend school not every day but once a week either morning, afternoon or evenings for like 4 hours. A half hour block for each subject with only one teacher for all subjects. The demons could be really cool but they really only get blah as they get bigger. The smaller demons are the cooler ones. I especially liked the little Klepto's who went around stealing pretty shiny items. Those were cute and they were not particularly harmful.

I expected there to be some scenes like the one in the short story of Riley capturing demons, but the couple of times that there was some trapping going on it was pretty tame and things weren't really keeping my attention all that well. The one big climax came out of no where. I'm not sure why it happened the way it did. There was absolutely no build up or tension. And my biggest gripe is there is no hint of any resolution at the end of this book. You would literally need to pick up the next book to figure out where things may go from here. It seemed rushed, like oh we need an ending and then I'm going to add another chapter  but explain nothing about how it will progress the story further. 

I got a bit disgruntled when just over half way through I started seeing typos. Things like missing words "a" "the" and "that". Words that would have helped make the sentences make more sense. I had to work at a couple sentences to figure out what the author meant. Also the kicker for me was the word keyed as "keep" but as I read the sentence I knew the tense should have been "kept". No matter how many times I read that sentence "keep" never once made sense in there. I also saw some missing quotation marks. I felt the last half of the novel just got sloppy in both story and in editing.

I'm not sure I can recommend this to any one. Its a great creative premise it just was not pulled off very well. I will not be continuing the series. It was sad because I bought this book and checked out the next two books from the library expecting to enjoy the first so much I would need the next two. I was sadly mistaken and returned them to the library first thing this morning. It was a fairly short book and to be honest it should not have taken me this long to read it. I had plenty of time I just lacked interest in the story and characters.

My best advice is : READER BEWARE

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Read: September 9-11, 2012
read in 3 days
pages: 292

Book blurb:
Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

I stumbled across this book buried in the young adult section in the library. The copy I read has the cover pictured above and looked a little older like the picture looked a little faded. It was published in 2009, so its about 4 years old now. When I started looking for the image above though I saw there is a gorgeous new cover that is being printed with the newer release. 


Viola! Now that cover would have caught my attention a bit more than just the title intriguing me. I think this new cover would have helped make it a display book more than just stuck in the shelf with only its spine available to see. Either way after skimming the jacket cover the story did catch my attention and I decided to check it out. Which I'm glad I did because I enjoyed the book.

At first the book is a little slow and it took a bit to catch my attention, but once it did I did not want to put it down. Tamsin is a likable enough character. She has spent her whole life believing she has no Talent while her family is full of Talent. She wants nothing more than to disappear into the crowd of ordinary people and leave her family life behind. We meet the young professor at the book store with Tamsin and while initially he seems harmless enough as her grandmother warns her "things are not always what they seem." Her family is known to find missing things and offer other "magical" solutions to the small town she affectionately refers to as "Hellcrater". Rather than admit she is not Talented and won't be able to help the professor the reader can understand that she wants to show her family she can be useful in spite of their treating her as though she were an outcast and failure. 

Once Tamsin agrees to search for the missing family heirloom I was pulled into the story and didn't want to put the book down for anything.  The book has a good mystery to it surrounding the family and their magic as well as a sweet love story twined in nicely as well. The focus of the book was more on the magic of the witches and I liked that each witch had their own Talent no two were alike. While the focus was the magic and finding the heirloom I found myself wanting to learn more about this love story the is also trying to develop. Maybe with the next book things will be examined further and I'm looking forward to picking it up to see where things lead. This book ends with some closure to the heirloom events while also opening things up for the story to continue.

I don't really have a lot to say about the novel which seems weird. But I feel it was really short and if I were to talk about too much that happens I'd be giving the story away and I don't want to do that. I'd recommend the book for someone looking for a urban fantasy with a touch of mystery, time traveling and a sweet love story entwined into a quick little read.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

God Save the Queen (The Immortal Empire #1) by Kate Locke

Read: September 3-7, 2012
read in 5 days
pages: 354

God Save the Queen (The Immortal Empire, #1)

Book Blurb:
The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.

For starters, I knew nothing about this book. I was quite surprised to see that it was recently published and even more surprised to see I got it so quickly from the library. Made me wonder a little about whether there was any hype over wanting to read this book or not and if not then maybe it was not so good. Well after a little digging around I find out that Kate Locke is a pseudonym, one of a few apparently, of Kady Cross....aka Kathryn Smith oh yeah and also Kate Cross.  Dang it! If I had known all this I wouldn't have read THIS book next. I just finished the book The Girl in the Steel Corset which is by Kady Cross. I thought that one was ok, but I like to get a break from the same author and switch things up a bit. I was a little mislead. I try not to read too much about a book before I start it because I don't like spoilers and I'm always afraid a review could sway my opinion and cause me to miss out on a book I would have otherwise enjoyed. They have before. So that aside I did start reading this one anyways. I was already 30+ pages when I discovered the pseudonym thing and for me I'd rather keep me going than to just drop it.

There are three things that I didn't particularly care for and I'll just get those out there and move on to what I liked and what kept me reading. The first thing that annoyed me to no end was the constant use of "bloody", "bollocks", and "fang me". I understand "fang me" was used rather than the F word which was creative BUT not as often as it was repeated. I understand also that the book is set in London and there are going to be other phrases they use that we here in America do not, but it is painfully clear that the author is not British in her overuse of the words. I also noticed early in the novel there are some spellings that are obviously intended to be British but they just fall away and you never see them again. That was strange and not consistent. The other thing that bothered me was more for understanding the plot. I had no clue what the heck was going on or how these classes of people came to be. We have Vampires, Werewolves, Goblins, and Humans. You also have these halvies running around that can be part Vampire and Human or part Werewolf part Human. Very odd. Humans are the minority in this society as somehow the Aristocracy is completely full of nothing but Werewolves and Vampires. Something to do with the plague causing these mutations, but why it is that only the Aristocracy are Vamps and Weres is beyond me. I did appreciate that Author Note at the beginning that gives you the run down on the time and place historically. That was helpful. I think though that the Author's Note should have mentioned the fact that there is a very handy little GLOSSARY and UNDERSTANDING THE ARISTOCRACY section in the back of the book!!! How do you NOT tell your reader?? I'm the reader who never reads the end first and I don't flip through so I'd never be looking at the end for something I need to know in the BEGINNING!! Lastly the other annoyance was that this book is billed as steampunk. This is not steampunk. This is urban fantasy on steroids. There are so many underworld creatures that it is a bit much to keep all of the goings on straight until you get really vested in the story. There are some gadgets that I guess the author was going for steampunk but the story is set in the 20th century and all the gadgets we see are common place just named something different and somehow they work slightly different. Not quite what I think or expect of steampunk. I expect some gadgets I really don't have an idea as to what they are or how they work! So once I resigned myself to the fact that I was not reading steampunk but in fact urban fantasy I was a little more on board. I was bummed as I was wanting to read steampunk but got urban fantasy.

All right that is all out there. Now this was not a terrible book. I did not hate the book. I did enjoy it honestly I did despite what I disliked. There is a fairly interesting story going on here. The main character can be a bit obnoxious at times she is only 21 or so and is a bit on the immature side. Very quick to respond emotionally especially where her family is concerned. If not for the family we honestly would not have a story. What kept me reading though was the introduction of the character Vexation "Vex" MacLaughlin aka Vex or the MacLaughlin. Now I've never been one to favor a wolf character; I've always preferred the Vampires. But THIS Alpha Were has something that I can't describe. He kinda won me over. HE was what kept me reading. I read this to the end, despite wanting to throw it across the room because of all the times I read "bloody", "bollocks, and "FANG ME", I continued to read to see how much Vex would appear and what his role was in this story. The name is weird I will say that....Vexation....yeah but Vex was a good way to shorten it. Almost seemed like Vex was picked first and then it was like oh crap I need a FULL NAME! How about Vexation cause that may sound mysterious. Whatever either way the name works for the character.

On the whole there is a lot going on so I can definitely see where this is going to be a series. IF I should read any further it would be to see if my favorite character Vex remains a part of the story. That's what kept me here, that would be what could draw me in again. Since this is the first in the series and was just released it may be awhile before I can expect another. At this point I'm undecided.  I'm on the fence looking over thinking hmm would it be worth the jump or remain where I am.

I'd recommend the book to someone who enjoys urban fantasy with a kick ass, no wait kick arse according to the book, heroine with an interesting twist to how Vampires and Werewolves come to be and a dash of steamy romance, then by all means pick this up. OH and please read the back material! Trust me it will all make much more sense!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) by Kady Cross

Read: August 27- September1, 2012
read in 6 days
pages: 476

The Girl in the Steel Corset 

Book Blurb:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one... except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch.

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her and says she's special, says she's one of them . The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets, against the wises of his band of misfits. And Finley thinks she might finally be a part of something, finally fit in-until a criminal mastermind known as Machinist threatens to tear the group apart...

I was really looking forward to reading this novel and was glad to have found it at the library when I went looking to pick it up. So I found this copy that has the The Strange Case of Finley Jayne included and picked it up. I thought about re-reading the 78 page prequel, but since I read it back in November I didn't think I would need to. Turns out I did not. I do remember enjoying the prequel though and thinking this series couldn't be to be too bad because I thought the Finley character was a pretty tough chick. I found this novel proved she wasn't super soft but she did have a soft side so it was a nice compliment. As it turns out there is a reason she is balanced but at the same time unable to completely control this darker side of her personality.

So this novel finds Finley Jayne at least initially on the run from her former employer due to an altercation with Lord Felix, the son of her boss. This was no problem as she makes short order of teaching the young man a nice lesson on how you SHOULD NOT treat a lady no matter her station in life. While on the run, she is plowed down by the handsome Griffin King who fears he is the cause of her injuries. He decides to have his buddy take her back to his home and have her looked over by their friend Emily who so happens to be a handy live in doctor of sorts. 

After Finley finds herself in Griffin's home, and his finding out just how she came to be on the run, Griffin decides he just may be able to help Finley get her two personalities under control. For some time Finley has been noticing these shifts in her personality that seems to be a bit of Jekyll and Hyde is sparked by her anger or fear giving her an inhuman strength that luckily saves her life. This strength is what allowed her to overcome Lord Felix and is what causes her to be unsure of her actions on the nights the darker personality takes control of her body. While Finley is intrigued by the two parts of herself she would like to be in control of the two parts, and Griffin promises to help her do just that. The only issue I take with this premise is it seems a bit unbelievable that after only one session with Griffin Finley finds she has better control while she had zero prior to the session. It seems that a few sessions would have been a bit more believable. But I kind of let that go and didn't let that bother me much.

There is an arcing story line and an actual mystery they are working to solve. I admit I figured out the connection prior to the characters discovery which was fine, but I would have liked a little more of a twist and mystery to the plot. There are the four young adults, Griffin, Sam, Emily and Finley, and are later joined by Griffin's pal Jasper, that make up this motley group of people with these unique powers that can not be exposed to the outside world. There is a man working to expose the truth and the group works to stop him. In doing so another tie is found to the man that makes Griffin especially interested in making sure the man's plans do not come to fruition. A few action scenes are nice in the novel and build up some needed tension for the story.

Overall this novel isn't bad. It is billed as a steampunk novel, and I agree there are elements of that to be seen. Set in London in 1897 and plenty of steam power being used and a little play in the Aether. Another staple is the presence of automatons and random little gadgets which is pretty cool. I enjoyed the little descriptions of the style of dress of both the women and the men. I liked the characters enough to consider reading further in the series and hope to see a little more of the character Jack Dandy. I found him interesting and would like to see a little more about him. I was a little disgruntled to find that I have to get the next book if I want to see just where one story line is going. I hate a tease like that in a series especially when it is something that has been toyed with for 400+ pages and even somewhat mentioned at the end only to be left hanging with a hint that something may happen in the next novel. Just give me a little closure or some idea that things are going where I want them to. Luckily the next book is already published so I'm not going to have to wait any longer than the length of time it takes the library to get the book to me. Otherwise I'd be at the mercy of the publishing world to get my answer. Hopefully I get a satisfactory answer with the next book.

I would recommend the story if you are looking for a little romance and a little bit of steampunk. I think the Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, are better in these areas, but while I'm waiting for the Clockwork Princess to be published Kady Cross' books will suffice.