Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Big Fix

The Big Fix is the third book in the Ciel Halligan urban fantasy/mystery series by Linda Grimes.

As with any other series, it is best to read the novels in order for the most fulfilling reading experience. Therefore, please find links to the prior book titles and my reviews of them here:

In a Fix
Quick Fix

For those of you who have already read these books, feel free to read on. For those of you who haven’t, there could be minor spoilers of the first two books – you’ve been warned!!!

Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor, is still determined to make her business work and be self-sufficient.

Just because her hot boyfriend wants to help her out financially doesn’t mean she would ever accept. But she WILL accept his referral for a new client, since she so desperately needs one.

Plus, this job is a fun one!

Getting a chance to take on famous action star actor Jackson Gunn’s aura for a snake handling scene (he’s apparently terrified of snakes, who knew?!) should be a fast way to make a good amount of money.

But then things go terribly wrong.

While Ciel is dealing with the slithery creature, including the blonde bimbo actress in the same scene, Jackson’s wife is killed.

As in, murdered.

And Ciel has now provided Jackson with the perfect alibi. Did he do it and purposely use her aura adaptor skills against her?

Ciel hopes from hell to high water he didn’t – but she has to look into it with best friend turned new boyfriend Billy and kinda/sorta “former” crush of the century CIA operative Mark.

That won’t be awkward…

I loved In a Fix and Quick Fix – Ciel is a short, red-headed smart gal and the novel’s premise of aura adapting is a unique fantasy skill that works well in combining with a contemporary mystery novel. Just lots of fun.

Romantic elements are also very spicy and full of tension, making for a fast paced read. As I’ve said before, these books tend to go into the more explicit for love scenes – but due to the overall fluffy fun of the story I am able to let it slide.

The Big Fix kept these elements, most definitely. Yet I felt the core mystery was… uninteresting? Starts off with an entertaining twist involving Hollywood and famous people – but then, I personally had guessed whodunit LONG before the actual reveal. It felt a little underdeveloped, which was sad since I was so looking forward to this follow-up.

On the personal and romantic levels, The Big Fix was stronger. However, a couple of developments this third book takes in those areas as well were a little startling and left me a little stunned. Not bad, really, just… wow.

Unfortunately, not as flat out awesome as the first two – but I would still be all over reading a book four if there is one. Hopefully the plotline is more thought out and complex next time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Of Noble Family

Of Noble Family is the fifth and final novel in The Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal.

I am passionate about this series, primarily due to the absolutely wonderful characterizations and lovely Regency atmosphere. Therefore, I strongly recommend reading these books in order:

Shades of Milk and Honey: Here
Glamour in Glass: Here
Without a Summer: Here
Valour and Vanity: Here
Of Noble Family

As you can see, you can click on each prior title to be swept away to my reviews of those books. Again, if you are not caught up with the series – I ardently recommend reading them, in order, before this review of the final book!

After their exhausting time in Italy, Jane and Vincent have been able to do some relaxing with Jane’s family, including her sister’s new baby, whom they both find themselves enjoying immensely.

Yet, when news comes to Vincent stating that his estranged, fugitive father has died – his soul is thrown into turmoil. He attempts to push aside the tumultuous emotions and horrific memories of a cruel father and agrees, with Jane by his side, to go to the West Indies on his elder brother’s behalf.

It’s a long sea voyage and the heat of Antigua is instantly wearying. However, the married couple do not plan to stay long – especially once they realize Jane is more than seasick.

But what they find at the estate is that everything they’ve been told is a lie. And getting back home may not be as simple as initially believed…

Anyone who has read my reviews of the books in this series know that I adore this story. I adore the Regency era, the excellently paced feeling Kowal gives it, the expertly done language that provides a sense of Jane Austen that so many try – and fail – to emulate, the delicately approached fantasy element in the Glamour magic and most of all: Jane and Vincent.

Together and apart, Jane and Vincent are two of my favorite characters in literature. Smart, flawed, complicated but oh-so-devoted to each other and their glamour art, these two are a realistically portrayed married couple. It’s not often, and it’s unfortunate to say, that a novel can keep up the romantic tension and intense chemistry that Jane and Vincent have – once married. Yet not only does Kowal do that, but she makes it EVEN BETTER by making them best friends – thoroughly knowing and caring about one another. Such a gorgeous, addictively readable couple.

Placing them in this unpleasant situation (which I am not providing much details on for your optimum reading pleasure) is terribly suspenseful and left me with worse nerves than Mrs. Bennett at times. But what a rewarding read!

This is truly a series that I will look forward to rereading in the future!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Global Literacy Infographic

Literacy Day

Attributed to: https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker

Uglies

Uglies is a YA dystopian novel by Scott Westerfeld.

Still an ugly, Tally is looking forward to her upcoming sixteenth birthday.

That is the day she will have her operation to become a pretty, as everyone does at sixteen, and move to New Pretty Town - the place all the newly gorgeous young people in society spend their time having fun all the time.

Her best friend Peris has already turned pretty – and the loneliness Tally feels as she waits for her day to join him is hollowing out a hole in her heart. She worries he forgets about her as he adapts to his new, pretty life.

When she meets Shay, Tally is shocked to learn that Shay is not as excited to turn pretty. She says odd things, such as not liking the idea of looking like everyone else – not liking that they are unable to consider their current faces pretty.

So, Shay running away right before her own operation stuns Tally – but not as much as it might have. Yet, when heretofore unknown authorities in their society approach Tally and offer her a choice – find Shay and the rebel group she joined outside their city limits or never have her own operation – Tally knows the world she knows will never be the same…

Uglies is a fairly popular book – there’s a good chance you’ve already read it or have heard of it. The concept of everyone being cosmetically altered to be pretty at the age of sixteen sounded interesting to me, so I finally jumped in. This is the first book in a four book series.

Though Uglies has an intriguing premise and some compelling dystopic details, I found myself not loving Tally. She was not all that likable to me. A bit boring, a bit too much of a follower sheep and just all together not interesting as a heroine to me.

As the story continued, my ongoing inability to get myself to care about Tally caused me to become more and more disenchanted, unfortunately. Uglies definitely felt like more of a plot driven novel, rather than character focused.

Instead of fleshing out its people and peeling back layers of information as to how this society came to be, what is truly going on, etc., I felt that not much was truly happening. There’s an odd little love triangle and romance that did not work for me either – no chemistry, no tension, no true suspense.

Despite having a hopeful bibliophile heart and still being attracted by the original premise, Uglies never lived up to the hype for me. Sad, but true.

By the end, I had a slight curiosity as to what might happen next – but I wish I’d liked it better. Unless I was handed the remaining three books for free, I do not see myself pursuing the rest of the series any time soon.

Definitely check it out for yourself, though! It’s a bestselling series that MANY readers have found extremely suspenseful! This is simply one book lover’s opinion alone.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A World without Princes

A World without Princes is the second book in the middle grade fantasy trilogy The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

As you may recall from my review of The School for Good and Evil, I absolutely LOVED book one. I strongly, strongly suggest reading these books in order. If you have not done so already – run, don’t walk, to a copy of The School for Good and Evil. In the meantime, avoid this review of book two for potential spoilers of book one.

If, however, you have devoured The School for Good and Evil already – feel free to proceed in learning about A World without Princes.

Best friends Sophie and Agatha have returned to their hometown of Gavaldon to live out their Happily Ever After. But things don’t seem as perfect as they expected…

When Agatha secretly wishes she chose a different happy ending – with Tedros – she inadvertently reopens the gateway from Gavaldon to the School for Good and Evil.

And it’s not at all the way they left it.

Inextricably changed, Sophie and Agatha find that their choice of an unorthodox Happy Ending has effected the School for Good and Evil in terrible new ways.

Witches and princesses are no longer enemies and have decided that, due to the extraordinary choice Agatha and Sophie made, princes are not necessary. New enemies have been established and a new dean has taken over. One with potentially suspicious motives…

Sophie, this time, is determined to get back home once more – Agatha, however, is torn. She knows she should want to return to Gavaldon with her best friend, but she cannot deny that it was her secret wish that brought them back in the first place…

This trilogy is so fantastic!!!

Yet again, author Soman Chainani flips our preconceptions around in a marvelous way. We have determined in our reader minds who was “Evil” and who was “Good”. Now we have to reconsider yet again.

Cleverly putting forth the grayness of humankind, rebutting the black/white concept, we are again faced with not only some great humor, phenomenal world building on the unique fantasy/fairy-tale end but also the question of friendship, love and romance.

There were times when it was quite heartbreaking as suspicions, lies and trust are tested. A World without Princes goes to some dark places, yet it’s also a fun, quick read.

All I can really say is that I’ve ordered my copy of the final book The Last Ever After.

And I. Cannot. Wait!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions is a YA anthology of stories by numerous best-selling authors and edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong.

Pulling together short stories together regarding journeys – whether physical or not – these authors provide plots featuring vampires, faeries, angels and more. Authors include such bigwigs as Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Carrie Ryan and more.

One of the main reasons I wanted to read Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions was for the short story by Kelley Armstrong. I’m a huge fan of her Darkest Powers trilogy and Facing Facts was a great little reunion with my favorite characters of hers – Chloe and Derek! Facing Facts did not disappoint!

Generally, however, Enthralled was a mixed bag.

Giovanni’s Farewell was a good, sweet story by Claudia Gray. Let’s Get This Undead Show on the Road by Sarah Rees Brennan and At the Late Night, Double Feature Picture Show by Jessica Verday were interesting diversions, both creative and with a little spunk.

Then there was Carrie Ryan’s Scenic Route – a quick but effective post-apocalyptic survival tale of two sisters. In fact the sisters theme was working for me in Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions, as one of my favorite stories of the bunch was Jennifer Lynn Barnes The Third Kind – an awesomely creepy, fast-moving story that was one of the few to feel like a completed tale. Gargouille by Mary E. Pearson had a great sense of being haunting and romantic, as well.

Some good offerings!

Sadly, the remainder of the stories were primarily samplers of the authors’ series, taking place in their existing novels as a side story. Obviously this worked for me with Kelley Armstrong’s Facing Facts – but as an outsider to other series, I found the other stories to have a varying degree of interest to me as a non-reader of their books. Oftentimes, that varying degree tended toward the lesser end.

Yet, the few strong contributions in Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions made the overall read a good one!