Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tin Swift

Tin Swift (Age of Steam, #2)
Today’s post is on ‘Tin Swift’ by Devon Monk. It is the second in her Age of Steam series. It is 369 pages long and is published by ROC. The cover has one of the main characters (I think that it is Cedar Hunt) with a Steampunk rifle in his hands, goggles on his head, and an airship behind him. No mistaking this one; it is Steampunk. The intended reader is someone who read the first one (you need to know what is going on), likes Steampunk, and things blowing up (good thing for me because I have read the first book and I like the other two things.). There is some language but not too bad, there is no sexuality, but the violence makes up for that. There is a torture scene with some detail; so the weak of stomach be warned. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of book- In Steam Age America, Men, Monsters, Machines, and Magic Battle To Claim The Same Scrap Of Earth And Sky. In This Chaos, One Man Fights To Hold On To His Humanity- And His Honor…
Life on the frontier is full of deceit and danger, but bounty hunter Cedar Hunt is a man whose word is his bond. Cursed with becoming a beast every full moon. Cedar once believed his destiny was to be alone. But now Cedar finds himself saddled with a group of refugees, including the brother he thought lost.
Keeping his companions alive is proving to be no easy task, in part because of a promise he made to the unpredictable Madder brothers- three miners who know the secret mechanisms of the Strange. To fulfill his pledge, Cedar must hunt for a powerful weapon known as the Holder- a search that takes him deep into the savage underbelly of the young country and high into the killing glim-field skies defended by desperate men and deadly ships.
But the battles he faces are just a hint of a growing war stirring the country. To keep his word, Cedar must navigate betrayal, lies, and treacherous alliances… and risk everything to save the lives of those he has come to hold dear.

Review- This is a very strong second novel in a series. Monk does not drop the ball; the only I wish I had done was reread the first one because it has been over year and so I have forgotten too much, I spent some time remembering details and so on, but it did not stop me from getting into the story quickly again. The story picks up a few weeks after the first novel with our heroes on the road to Kansas. Mae Lindson is going insane from the binding on her and that is important to the story. The details are important but they came back to me quickly as I continued reading. The characters are wonderful as before with brave heroes and I really loved the villains in this one. By that I mean they are very good villains. There are new characters introduced both heroes and villains. The best villain from the first book Mr. Shunt is back in this one and he makes the other villains even better. The magic is still really unknown but believable and wonderful. Honestly I can think of nothing that I did not like about this book. The dialogue is good, the characters grow well over time, the plot is fun and just the right amount of twisty. If you have not read Monk before or her Age of Steam series I do recommend highly.

I give this a Five Stars out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)

Today’s post is on “The Well of Ascension” by Brandon Sanderson. It is the second book in the Mistborn Trilogy and is published by TOR. It is 796 pages long including Metals Quick-Reference Chart, Names and Terms, Summary of Book One, and a sample of An Autumn War by Daniel Abraham. The intended reader is someone who loves high fantasy, political intrigue, and sharp twists. Parents be warned: There is much bloodshed, gore, and darkness. Over fourteen (14) should be fine but use your own judgment. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Evil has been defeated. The war has just begun. They did the impossible, deposing the godlike being whose brutal rule had lasted a thousand years. Now Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire.

They have barely begun when three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

It may just be that killing the Lord Ruler was the easy part. Surviving the aftermath of his fall is going to be the real challenge.

Review- Just like with Mistborn I feel at a loss to try and give this a good enough review. This is hands down one of the best second novels in a trilogy that I have ever read. I have many trilogies over the course of my life and I will no doubt read many more; but this one will stand the test of time. Sanderson does something amazing with this novel. In Mistborn, the first novel, he created a vivid and dramatic world and he fills it out but he does not really leave the main city of Luthadel. The characters grow so much over the course of the story and unlike Mistborn, which takes place over a year, this one happens in months. Vin and Elend grow apart then they come back together even stronger. Sanderson does not really tell the reader much about the past of this world. Why is this god trapped in the well? Where are, if any, other gods? But he does explain much of the Terris lore but I look forward to discovering more. He weaves more and more threads together and I cannot wait to see the end picture. There are epic battles in this one, there are villainous villains you love to hate, and there is betrayal that is unexplained and unexpected. Still little is explained about why Vin can do what she can. Why someone is mistborn or misting is still a mystery but I did not think about this until after I finished reading this novel. I was pleased that Sanderson has think up a faster way to travel that I thought about in the first novel. It is Vin can push and pull metals so she makes herself the center of a wheel basically and rolls to the great battle. Everything about this book will please you as a reader. The more I read of Sanderson the more I understand why Robert Jordan chose him.

I give this Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
Today’s post is on “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine” by Paul A. Offit, M.D. It is 305 pages long including notes and a bibliography. It is published by HarperCollins. It is a review of all current alternative medicine from the perspective of a doctor working with very sick people day in and day out. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- A medical expect- the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia- offers a scathing, sure-to-be-headline-making expose of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.
A half-century ago, Acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, Chinese herbs, Christian exorcisms, dietary supplements, chiropractic manipulations, and transitional Indian remedies were considered to be on the fringe of medicine. Now these practices- known as alternative, complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine- have become mainstream, used by half of all Americans today seeking to burn fat, detoxify livers, shrink prostates, alleviate colds, stimulate brains, boost energy, reduce stress, enhance immunity, eliminate pain, prevent cancer, and enliven sex.
But as Dr. Paul A. Offit, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reveals, alternative medicine- an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admits its risks- can actually be harmful to our health. In Do You Believe in Magic? He exposes the risks of alternative treatments, including megavitamins, acupuncture, dietary supplements, and Chinese herbs; debunks the treatments that don’t work, and explains why. He also takes on the media celebrities who promote alternative medicine, including Mehmet Oz, Suzanna Somers, and Jenny McCarthy. Using dramatic real-life stories, he separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy- alternative or traditional- should be scrutinized. He also shows how nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners. As he advises us, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”

Review- I really enjoyed this book. The topic is of interest to me personally because I have some health problems and I do some alternative methods. By the end of this book I was sure that Dr. Offit would not have any problems with what I do in my life. He takes apart the money making machine that is alternative medicine and he names names. It is interesting to learn about the beginnings of alternative medicine here in America and some from around the world. Offit gives information about both the good medicine that works and how good doctors fall from grace. The whole book comes down to this- do not use someone else’s wisdom for your own good judgment. Offit does not blame people for looking help or answers because medical science does not have all of them. He comes down hard on the people who steal from the hopeless. I felt Offit’s compassion for the families just trying to get some hope in dark places.

I give this one Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)
Today’s post is on “Hounded” by Kevin Hearne. It is the first in the Iron Druid Chronicles and is 304 pages long, including a preview if book two Hexed. It is published by Ballantine Books. The cover has the main character in profile drawing a sword from behind him. The intended reader is an urban fantasy fan and that is mostly it but most of us like urban fantasy and this is not a bad one to start with. There is talk about sex, there is detailed violence, and there is bad language so beware. The story is told from first person perspective of Atticus that main character. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old- when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power- plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish- to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Review- I was not expecting much from Hounded other than entertainment but Hearne knows his lore. I have personally studied mythology for almost 20 years when I was very young and learned that people believed in gods other than Jesus. I am not a scholar by any means but I like to think that I have more than just a basic understand of mythology. Hearne passed that tested with ease. He loves his myths too and it shows in this book. Atticus himself is an interesting and fun character. He takes the blows the plot throws at him with grace and ease. He does not really grow but I am willing to put that to the side because this is not just a first novel in a series but Hearne’s first novel. There are some very witty lines but I like the ending lines the best-

“You used way too much Cold Fire,” the Morrigan said. “You should plan on being immobile for a couple of days. I hope that you put on some of that lotion the mortals are so infatuated with. Can’t have you dying of skin cancer.”
The Morrigan laughed mockingly and then squawked harshly as she changed into a crow and flew away. And she wondered why she didn’t have any friends.

Hearne does a lot with the little that he is given. I am looking forward to reading the next and seeing where he goes with this series. The only thing that I do not like about Atticus is that he is a slut but I do not like that in any of my characters. It is some that I just do not like. Maybe because it is too easy of a weakness to have, anyone can have it, and maybe that is the appeal of it. Anyone can have it so maybe more reader will relate to it, I do not know, but other that than minor problem a good first novel.

I give this book a Four out of Five. I get nothing for this review and I got this book for free from Dragon*Con 2010.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Iron Wyrm Affair

The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare, #1)
Today’s post is on “The Iron Wyrm Affair” by Lilith Saintcrow. It is 323 pages long including an author interview and a sample of the next book ‘The Red Plague Affair’. It is published by Orbit books. The cover has the two main characters on it both of them looking at the reader. Bannon is casting a spell with her left shoulder touching Clare who is looking intelligent. The intended reader is a Steampunk fan but Saintcrow is a wonderful writer so anyone who likes well written stories with interesting characters, and a heart pounding mystery then this is for you. There is some language and hinting at sexuality but nothing on page so anyone over the age of 14 should be just fine. The story is told in third person close mainly from Bannon or Clare’s perspective. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. Unfortunately they can barely tolerate each other…

Review- To start with the blurb is wrong. Bannon and Clare do not dislike each other, they just are very different people. Mentath’s are people who are totally logical, always, and sorcery is not logical. That is the main point of disagreement, Bannon is a Prime Sorceress and Clare is a high level Mentath. The world that Saintcrow has created is very close to our own, if you have a passing familiarity with England then you will see what she has changed. For example England is not England but Britannia and Britannia has its own intelligence, it is more than just an ideal but a real being of ancient wisdom. The queen is Victrix not Victoria. I enjoyed identifying all the differences from our world to the fictional one. The magic/logic in this world is fun. Most of the time when magic is in a story there is no talk about things being illogical but not in this one. That is a major point because magic is illogical and that is difficult for Clare to deal with as a Mentath. How Clare deals with it is that he thinks that it is just a logic that he cannot understand at this time. That thought pattern saves him from the madhouse over the course of this book. The magic is slowly revealed over the course of the book like Clare’s thinking. Bannon is a very powerful sorceress who is not afraid of her power but she is smart with it. Something that I have thought of but Saintcrow directly talks about is when sorcerers are having a duel the easiest thing would be to have someone else just come up and stab them in the back. She deal with this by having Shields. Shields are people who protect sorcerers from physical attacks when they are magical dueling. There are so many layers to this book that I could just go on and on. But read it yourself, it is worth your time.

I give Five out Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library but I am going to be buying it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Midnight's Master

Midnight's Master (Dark Warriors, #1)

Today’s post is on “Midnight’s Master” by Donna Grant. It is the first in a new series called the Dark Warrior’s. It is 370 pages long including an excerpt from the second novel Midnight’s Lover. It is published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks. The intended reader is someone who likes paranormal stories with strong romance themes. The cover has two figures the female lead is looking over the male leads shoulder at the reader and the male lead has his back to the reader with a knife in his hand behind his back while he is looking into the distance. There is sexuality in this book so over 18 just to be safe. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- A MYSTERY OUT OF TIME
Gwynn Austin has no idea why her father has disappeared on a mysterious trip to Scotland. When she goes on a desperate mission to search for him, she finds more than she bargains for in a ruggedly handsome, wickedly exciting Highlander who exudes danger and mystery. And when she discovers her own link to Scotland, she’ll have to trust her heart to help her…
Propelled through time by powerful Druid magic, Logan Hamilton uses his immortality and powers of the god inside him to help prevent the awakening of an ancient evil in the modern world. He never expects to find help in the form of a beautiful, alluring, and all too tempting woman whose passion and strength match his own. Together, Logan and Gwynn must fight for their love- before a demon from the past destroys them both…

Review- I did enjoy this novel. There is nothing surprising in, it does not reinvent the genre but it is not bad. The plot is fun, the characters are engaging, I liked the world. The magic in this world is mysterious but fun and I hope that Grant explains how it works more as the series continues. The hero is probably an alpha male but I did not find him unbearable and the heroine is brave and interesting. This is a continuation of an earlier series that I have not read but it is not a disadvantage as Grant explains everything in a manageable way. Now I do not care about sex scenes so I cannot really give an opinion on them but there are three of them just to warn you. The only thing that I really did not buy about this world was one of the villains. Gwynn’s father is one of the villains but I really did not buy his villainy. It was cheap to me, pulled out just to make his standing with the other villains believable. He feels like a wooden villain just there to move the story along in a certain way. Other than that it was a pretty good read. A nice way to spend a weekend as I did.

I give this book Four out Five stars. I get nothing for my review. This book was bought for me as a gift.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Crow

The Crow (Pellinor, #3)

Today’s post is on “The Crow” by Alison Croggon and it is the third book of Pellinor. It is 511 pages long including maps, notes, and appendices. It is published by Candlewick Press. The cover has the three main characters on it with Hem, who has a white crow on his shoulder, facing the distance to the side of the reader, Zelika looking at Hem, and Saliman looking the Iron Tower. The cover is very telling about the plot of the story. The intended reader is all young adults, not just girls, but anyone who loves high fantasy in the Tolkien style will just eat this up and I should know. There is nothing in this book that should make parents nervous. It is told from third person close following Hem. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Hem is a rough and weary orphan whose brutal struggle for survival ends when he’s reunited with his lost sister. Maerad, though, has her own destiny to fulfill, and the two must soon part. Hem is sent to the golden city of Turbansk in the south, where he learns the ways of the Bards and discovers a hidden gift when he rescues a white crow. But when the forces of the Dark threaten, and a young orphan girl named, Zelika to join the Light’s resistance forces. He, too, has a crucial role to play in Maerad’s quest to solve the Riddle of the Treesong.
In the Third Book of Pellinor, which continues the epic tale begun with The Naming and The Riddle, Alison Croggon creates a world of astounding beauty overshadowed by a terrifying darkness as Hem- and, distantly, Maerad- prepare for a final battle in defense of the Light.

Review- I liked this book so much more than The Riddle. The Riddle continues Maerad’s story from the end of The Naming and this one picks up about two months after the beginning of The Riddle. Hem is learning about how to be a Bard and in the beginning of the story he is a whiny 12 year-old but by the end he is a young man with responsibilities both to himself and to his destiny. Unlike in Maerad in The Riddle the darkness in The Crow is not just as bad. I do not know why. There is little hope, bad things are happening all around them, and one of the main characters dies but there is something about it that is not as bad as The Riddle. The Riddle was not easy for me to read because of all the bad things that happen to Maerad and it was horrible to experience. I just do not know what about The Crow is not has unbearable to read and experience with Hem. Hem grows so much over the course of this book, he really does change into a better person because of all the bad things and maybe that is it. All the suffering that Maerad goes through does not grow her as a person, it is just suffering not growth. But Hem is now a character with power in this story and I look forward to seeing where he is going from here and I cannot wait to see him interact with Maerad again. I do have a problem with the cover because Zelika looks white and she is not, she should look Arabian because that is how she is described in the text but other than that the cover is very good. Croggon renewed my faith in her series with The Crow.

I give this one Four out of Five stars. I get nothing from for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles, #2)
Today's post is on 'The Girl in the Clockwork Collar' by Katy Cross. It is the second in her Steampunk Chronicles. It is published by Harlequin Teen an imprint of Harlequin and was published in 2012. The cover has a very pretty Chinese girl in a purple dress with a huge collar on her neck and a candle in her hand. The intended reader is Young Adult and really that is the best. It is the told from third person close with changing POV of the may different characters in the story. There is nothing sexual in this book but some of the violence may concern some parents so read it before your child to make sure that it okay for them.

From the dust the jacket- 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.
tightens.From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens with supernatural abilities is on Jasper's elusive trail. And they're about to discover how far they'll for friendship.
More than ever, Finley Jayne will rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with
himself over his secret attraction to Finley... and it will risk his life and reputation to save her. Sam, more machine than man, finds his moody heart tested by Irish lass Emily- whose own special abilities are no match for the darkness she discovers on the streets.
Now, to help those she;s come to care for so deeply, Finley Jayne must infiltrate a criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much...

Review- I wish that I could say that I liked this one as much as the first but I cannot. This book was not easy to read, I do not know if that I just was not in the mood to read it or if it was sophomore slump but I just really did not get into the book. The plot was not bad but I just wanted more. I wanted more talking about Finley's two sides, like in the first book. It was talking about but only in passing, not in really part of the plot and I do not know why. It was still important when the first book ended and this one picks up about three days after the first one, so I do not get why is not talked about. The characters do grow some but it feels forces like Cross knew that they should grow but did not know how to make it more natural. The villains are better in this one than the first book because you do not really see one of them coming so I give credit for that. But really this one is just not as a good as the first one and I am hoping it is sophomore slump. It is not great but it is not bad either so I am just ambivalent about it.

I give Three out of Five, not great but not bad. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Stalking the Vampire

Stalking the Vampire

Today's post is on 'Stalking the Vampire' by Mike Resnick. It is the second novel following John Justin Mallory. It is published by Pyr books which is an imprint of Prometheus Books and was published in 2007. The cover has John Justin with a gun in one hand and a stake in the other in front of a wall with missing person pictures and a ominous shadow in front of him. It is 264 pages long with three appendixes in the back with more fun information like a speech from John Justin's partner on hunting vampires. The story is told in third person close point of view. The intended reader is urban fantasy fans but anyone who likes humor, urban fantasy tropes, and good writing will enjoy this. There is nothing in this book to make any parents uncomfortable so all ages over 12 should be fine. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the Dust jacket- It's Halloween and John Justin Mallory's partner, Winnifred Carruthers, has been so busy preparing for the biggest holiday of the year (in this Manhattan, anyway) that she seems short of energy and pale. Then he notices the two puncture marks on her neck...
On this night when ghosts and goblins are out celebrating, detective Mallory must stalk the vampire who has threatened his partner and killed her nephew. With the aid of Felina the cat-girl, Mallory and Carruthers investigate clubs and lairs that only seem to exist on this one night of the year.
His hunt takes him to Creepy Conrad's Cut-Rate-All-Night Mortuary, where he questions the living and the dead, to the Vampire State Building; to the annual Zombies' Ball, to learn more about the undead; to the Hills of Home Mortuary, Cemetery & Delicatessen, where the vampire sleeps by day; and to Battery Park, where all of Manhattan's bats come to feed and sleep. Along the way he meets a few old friends and enemies, and a host of strange new inhabitants of this otherworldly Manhattan.
Locked in an intriguing battle of wits with the millennia-old vampire, Mallory has until dawn if he is to save his trusted partner.

Review- This is the first book that I read by Mr. Resnick. I was not prepared for how wonderful and funny of a writer he is but now he is one of my favorite authors. The humor in this book is more than just the making fun of fantasy and urban fantasy tropes, it is in the way that John Justin is so normal. In the first book Stalking the Unicorn, John Justin is from our world and is now stuck in the other Manhattan. So he handles things in a way that makes prefect sense to me at the very least. The dialog is was shines in this book and that is where the humor really is. John Justin has a very dry sense of humor and that comes through in the writing, the reader gets an excellent sense of who he is. We only see the world through John Justin's eyes but that does not feel limiting, it feel like it is trying to help the reader not over-whelmed by how much the other Manhattan is like ours but so not ours. The more that you have read, as in read other books, the more jokes you are going to get because Resnick knows his literature. The characters are funny, fun, and clever so you are going to like the people that you will meet in this book and when John Justin defeats the bad guy I was so impressed with the cleverness of it that the final two chapters are my favorites.

I give book Five stars out of Five stars because it is just wonderful and you need to read it. Like now. I get nothing for my review and this book was bought as a gift for me from my spouse.