Thursday, June 23, 2016

All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes

Title: All Fixed Up
Author: Linda Grimes
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Ciel Halligan #4

Hardcover, 336 pages
Publication: May 24, 2016 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire, has a lot of experience filling in for her clients--as them. A rare genetic quirk gives her the ability to absorb human energy and project it back out in a flawless imitation. She's hard at work, posing as a well-known and celebrated astronaut, about to make a stunning announcement on behalf of the space program...when the photographer documenting the job sees right through her aura. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that he not only knows Ciel’s not who she's supposed to be, but means her harm.

When Ciel's elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor—is murdered in Central Park, and the same photographer shows up at the funeral, Ciel starts to feel even more exposed. Then more adaptors are killed in the same way, and she becomes terrified her friends and family are being systematically exterminated ... and it's starting to look like she's the ultimate target. She turns to Billy Doyle, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, for help, but when an unexpected crisis causes him to take off without a word, she's left to rely on her not-so-former crush, CIA agent Mark Fielding.
It is always a joy to read the Ciel Halligan series, Aura Adapter extraordinaire. And All Fixed Up is no difference. Ciel’s latest gig finds her portraying the first astronaut to give birth in space! The astronaut in question is suffering from kidney stones, so it’s up to Ciel to entertain and answer the press with their many questions on pregnancy and space. But if anyone has read this series, they’d know that Ciel’s life is anything but ordinary. First day on the job and someone is already trying to kidnap her or her client. One again Ciel finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a sticky situation but it goes from bad to worse when said kidnapper starts showing up around her family and friends in the adaptors community and people end up dead.

As I’ve mentioned before, two things you can always expect from Ciel and the gang is action and laughs. And there is no shortage of either! My favorite parts of the book were with the Billy and the family. There’s never a dull moment when the family around. They made the most mundane of situation or task comedic. A particular scene comes to mind that involved James, Devon and Ciel…but I can’t say what without giving any spoilers out. And Billy, he’s always such a charmer and a goofball with his endless mischief and innuendos. While I enjoy all of books in the series, I must say this is my favorite. I think it’s because the book focused a lot more on family and relationships versus whatever problem Ciel found herself in. It wasn’t as fantastical as her previous endeavors. Plus the problem at hand was more closely connected to the adapter community.

My only quibble would be the love triangle that wasn’t. I know that sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Ciel is definitely with Billy but the whole ‘what-if’ she had about Mark constantly pops up. Ciel kept asking herself what if she was with Mark? Would her life turned out differently? Honestly. I found it quite vexing. I thought Ciel made her choice at the end of the last book. If that wasn’t enough, she did something in my eyes as unforgivable and this time she was fully aware of her action. Why the author added it, I have no idea. It made me like Ciel a little less and lose respect for her. 
I didn’t think it served a purpose this time around and in my opinion just made me as a reader frustrated. The book ended on a happy note for the most part and I am still rooting for Billy and Ciel. I just hope she makes a permanent decision and doesn’t jump back and forth in the next book.

All in all, despite the last tidbit I mentioned, All Fixed Up still turned out to be a great addition to this fun series. It is always exciting to be immersed in the adapter world and follow along with the characters on their escapade. If you haven’t read this series yet, then you really need to check it out A.S.A.P. This series is the perfect blend of humor and fantasy and best of all…you never know what to expect from Ciel Halligan, every book is a surprise and treat.




Tuesday, June 21, 2016

[Early Review]: A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

Title: A Hundred Thousand Worlds
Author: Bob Proehl
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 368 Pages
Publication: June 28, 2016 by Vikings

Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Pre-Order|Amazon|B&N|
Valerie Torrey took her son Alex and fled Los Angeles six years ago—leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.

As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars, from a hapless twenty something illustrator to a lesbian comics writer to a group of cosplay women who provide a chorus of knowing commentary. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined.

I’ve read many books in my lifetime; I mean I am a reviewer (snorts). I may not have read quite as many books as I wanted or as much as my fellow reviewers/bloggers. However, I can say there are very few books that made a long-lasting impression, ones that made you contemplate life, self reflect and think about what’s truly important. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is amongst the few. I can relate to what it’s like being a nerd/geek (with pride), and had the pleasure to attend a comic convention twice…so I am a little bit familiar with the world. But A Hundred Thousand Worlds was so much more than the comic-con world, fandom, and the comic/tv/movie industry. It’s a story of family, friendship, and how stories and the people around us shape who we are and how we escape the real world through stories we tell.

Within the first page I was captivated by Alex and his mother Val. Val is a TV actress turned theater artist and is slowly returning to the tv/comic circuit after being M.I.A for years. Readers follow Val and her nine-year-old son Alex, as they travel cross country from New York to California, stopping along the way at various comic book conventions. I’ve said this many times, but it’s true, I’m a sucker when it comes to family stuff. I loved the mother-son relationship; it’s touching, realistic and heartwarming. While I enjoyed all the con stuff, their relationship was the highlight of the book for me. I also really enjoyed all the secondary and tertiary characters. Brett and the con ladies are at the forefront. I thought they were all very well developed and realized. Most side, background characters I've read aren’t as detailed or well written resulting in forgettable one-dimensional characters but Proehl’s characters were the complete opposite. He did a wonderful job at creating distinct and unique characters. And I enjoyed reading about each and every one of them.

A Hundred Thousand Worlds is equal parts imaginative, smart, fun and full of heart. I’ve read a handful of great novels so far this year, but I must say that A Hundred Thousand Worlds has climb the ranks to be one of my top reads. I loved the story, the characters and the writing was impeccable. This is Proehl’s debut novel, but if this is anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what’s to come. Proehl is definitely a writer to watch! I highly recommend A Hundred Thousand Worlds to everyone. A Hundred Thousand Worlds is not only for comic con fans…this is a novel that goes beyond its targeted audience; it is a novel for the every reader, young and old.








ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bob Proehl grew up in Buffalo, New York, where his local comics shop was Queen City Bookstore. He has worked as a bookseller and programming director for Buffalo Street Books, a DJ, a record store owner, and a bartender. He was a 2012 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction and a 2013 resident at the Saltonstall Arts Colony. He has written for the 33⅓ book series and worked as a columnist and reviewer for the arts and culture site PopMatters.com. Proehl currently lives in Ithaca, New York, with his family. 

Connect with Bob! Twitter|Website|Goodreads|




 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

[Series Spotlight] Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Unlike most of the previous series spotlights, NINTH CITY BURNING hasn't been published yet! NINTH CITY BURNING is set to hit stores on September 6, 2016 and I can't wait to read it. NINTH CITY BURNING is Black's  highly anticipated debut novel and the first in what is to be an incredible series. The war is here, are you ready to fight?


September 6, 2016
Pre-Order|Amazon|B&N|

Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut...

We never saw them coming. 

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy's tactics are changing, and Earth's defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.


EXCERPT

The Valentine War, Earth 500 Years Ago

It starts with the world how it used to be, with countries and billions of people living everywhere. Back then there was no such thing as thelemity, and people built houses and machines sort of like they have in settlements today, but all of that changed when the Valentines came.

The reason we call them the Valentines is that the day they first attacked, February 14 on the old Western Calendar, was called “Valentine’s Day”. We still don’t know what the Valentines call themselves, because we’ve never been able to talk to them. We don’t even know what they look like. People had all sorts of different names for them early in the war, but “Valentine” is the one that ended up being the most popular. It used to mean something totally different, but not many people remember that now.


We never saw them coming. All at once cities just started disappearing. A city would be there, everything totally normal, and then it would be gone, nothing but rubble and a cloud of dust. By the time we figured out we were under attack, half the cities in the world had already been destroyed. We tried to fight back, but the Valentines had thelemity, and our strongest weapons were next to useless. They probably would have killed every single person on the planet, except for one thing: It turned out we could use thelemity too.





About the Author

J. Patrick Black has worked as a bartender, a lifeguard, a small-town lawyer, a homebuilder, and a costumed theme park character, all while living a secret double life as a fiction writer. While fiction is now a profession, he still finds occasion to ply his other trades as well. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he likes to visit the ocean. NINTH CITY BURNING is his first (published) novel. He is at work on his next book. 
(Bio via author's website)


Connect with J. Patrick!


Monday, June 06, 2016

One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail by Kevin James Breaux

Title: One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail
Author: Kevin James Breaux 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail #1

Trade Paperback, 307 pages
Publication: April 6, 2016 by CreateSpace

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|
America's population is slowly dying due to an epidemic, and Alexander, an ancient, immortal shaman, has medicine that can heal people. It has one small side effect-Alexander's able to control the minds of anyone taking the drug, nicknamed "dust." Alexander plans to take over the country once dust is released to the general public, crushing anyone who stands in the way. He needs just a little bit more of a certain magical ingredient to make the medication work properly: fairy wings. 

An intelligent, stunning fairy, Sabrina was also America's sweetheart-until a video of a crime she was involved in surfaces, nearly destroying her. A year later, she's finally ready to step back into the spotlight. Together with her bodyguard, Mira, a water spirit in human form, Sabrina's prepared to start over. Things are starting to look up until she meets Alexander in a club and goes from social outcast to tortured captive in the blink of an eye. Will she be able to escape the evil shaman and his mind-controlled slaves in time to save herself and everyone she cares about?
 Kevin J. Breaux is best known for his fantasy series the Soul Born Saga which I am a fan. One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail is his latest foray into the Urban Fantasy genre and he did it well. There were many paranormal creatures; from vampires, wendigos, elementals, shamans, mummies, to zombies and faeries! I’ll be honest, at first I thought with so many paranormals, the story would surely be weighed down. But it never was! Breaux incorporated the paranormals into the story flawlessly and every detail made sense from their purpose to their background/history.


The background and world building was pretty solid as I said. I liked learning about each of the characters and their past and how it shaped their lives and personalities. However, the characters themselves weren’t as strong or developed as I hoped. Sabrina London, our heroine is a celebrity and a fairy but I never connected to Sabrina or the others. She is celebrity and all but not the kind that had good press. Next we have Moselle, Sabrina’s best friend who is a mummy. Moselle’s story was the most interesting as I’ve never read about a modern day mummy. I love all things Egyptian. She can only live in natural light, she takes humans’ life force and wraps her body in silk to maintain youthful(even though she’s almost 4,000 years old), and snakes take a liking to her which she says is a curse. Then there’s Cade, Sabrina’s vampire boyfriend who is from the civil war era and Jackson, the human of the group. The two get sucked into Sabrina’s life when a villain starts hunting Sabrina for her wings. While the men had equal page times as the ladies, I still found them to be small supporting characters.

Overall I enjoyed One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. It took some time to get the story rolling but once it started it was non-stop action till the end. And just when I thought everything was good and dandy, readers are left with a cliff hanger that I had soooo many questions about! I would definitely recommend this brand new series to a mature audience, since there are graphic scenes and profanities. 



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Foundry's Edge by Benny Zelkowicz & Cam Baity

Title: The Foundry's Edge 
Authors: Benny Zelkowicz & Cam Baity 
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Series: Books of Ore #1

Hardcover, 448 pages
Publication: April 15, 2014 by Disney Hyperion

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


For Phoebe Plumm, life in affluent Meridian revolves around trading pranks with irksome servant Micah Tanner and waiting for her world-renowned father, Dr. Jules Plumm, to return home. Chief Surveyor for The Foundry, a global corporation with an absolute monopoly on technology, Phoebe's father is often absent for months at a time. But when a sudden and unexpected reunion leads to father and daughter being abducted, Phoebe and would-be rescuer Micah find themselves stranded in a stunning yet volatile world of living metal, one that has been ruthlessly plundered by The Foundry for centuries and is the secret source of every comfort and innovation the two refugees have ever known.

Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz have fashioned an intensely inventive, engaging, and thought-provoking tale of two worlds on a collision course and the two young rivals who find themselves on the front line. The Foundry's Edge is the first book in a trilogy that will transport young readers down a mechanical rabbit hole and send them on an adventure that explores the hidden costs of indulgence, the perils of unchallenged nationalism, and the world-altering power of compassion and conviction.
Before I get to my review, I just want to tell you guys how beautiful this book is in person. The end page (right when you open the book) has a black background with symmetrical patterns repeated from top to bottom, each page has another pattern that complements those end pages  in lines/dashes and the book has silver gilded edges! That’s my favorite part of the book’s aesthetics!

I had a good idea of what type of book The Foundry’s Edge was when I started it. It’s Steampunk Fantasy, with a lot of reviewers comparing it to Alice in Wonderland. I definitely got that vibe; the world of Mehk is scary, enchanting and strange all at the same time. What I liked most about the book was all the gadgets and tech the authors created. it was just as unique as the city of Mehk…considering the gadgets derived from there. As for the set up of the story it is standard, somewhat formulaic. The Foundry’s Edge follows two preadolescent, Phoebe and Micah, on a rescue mission. It took me longer than usual to get engaged with the story and characters. Things didn’t get truly interesting till they entered the City of Mehk, where they met an ancient and a friendly Mehkie and from there it was nonstop action as they tried to outrun Goodwin’s men/ robots.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t like either kid at the beginning. Phoebe and Micah were cruel to each other. There were endless name calling and petty retaliation stunts and tricks. I didn’t find it funny or amusing. But when Phoebe’s father and Micah’s employer was kidnapped, the two put their differences aside to rescue him. It was a long time before the two called a truce, which literally happened in the last couple of chapters of the book. The two cannot be more different, which isn’t surprising since Phoebe comes from a wealthy family and Micah from the more questionable part of town. But at the same time they work well as a team (well, once they stopped competing). Phoebe was calculated and had better intuition. While Micah was more of a risk taker, the type to act/talk before he think but that didn’t stop him from outsmarting and outrunning the bad guys at every turn. Phoebe and Micah did a lot of growing up in the short span of the novel, which can be clearly seen at the end of the book. With the surprise ending that changed the two lives’ forever. I am intrigued to see where Baity and Zelkowicz will take Phoebe, Micah and Dollop next.

Overall, I enjoyed The Foundry’s Edge way more than I expected. Despite the book’s rocky start the world building and characters are pretty solid and the last half of the book was intense and full of action! I can’t wait to read book two of the series, Waybound! This series is meant for Middle Grade, but I think it will appeal to all audiences.




Thursday, May 05, 2016

[Series Spotlight] The Books of Ore by Benny Zelkowicz and Cam Baity

Today's series spotlight is on Benny Zelkowicz and Cam Baity's Books of Ore series following Phoebe and Micah on a mission to save Phoebe's dad. Along the way they discover a secret so big, it will change the lives of everyone in The Foundry forever.

The Books of Ore series is a middle-grade steampunk fantasy but is enjoyed by people of all ages. The Foundry's Edge was released April 2014 and the sequel, Waybound was just released last month! To learn more about the series and authors, check out the post below! 




For Phoebe Plumm, life in affluent Meridian revolves around trading pranks with irksome servant Micah Tanner and waiting for her world-renowned father, Dr. Jules Plumm, to return home. Chief Surveyor for The Foundry, a global corporation with an absolute monopoly on technology, Phoebe's father is often absent for months at a time. But when a sudden and unexpected reunion leads to father and daughter being abducted, Phoebe and would-be rescuer Micah find themselves stranded in a stunning yet volatile world of living metal, one that has been ruthlessly plundered by The Foundry for centuries and is the secret source of every comfort and innovation the two refugees have ever known.
Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz have fashioned an intensely inventive, engaging, and thought-provoking tale of two worlds on a collision course and the two young rivals who find themselves on the front line. The Foundry's Edge is the first book in a trilogy that will transport young readers down a mechanical rabbit hole and send them on an adventure that explores the hidden costs of indulgence, the perils of unchallenged nationalism, and the world-altering power of compassion and conviction.



Phoebe Plumm and Micah Tanner are a long way from home and entrenched in a struggle with no end in sight. The Foundry, an all-powerful company that profits off the living metal creatures of Mehk, is unleashing a wave of devastating attacks to crush the rebel army of mehkans known as the Covenant and capture Phoebe and Micah, dead or alive.  

But the Covenant believes that their ancient god, Makina, has chosen Phoebe for a sacred task: to seek the Occulyth, a mysterious object they hope can turn the tide against the Foundry. With her father gone, Phoebe's once unshakable determination is broken, and while Micah tries to uphold the vow he made to protect her no matter the cost, their enemies are closing in and time is running out. 




ABOUT THE AUTHORS


Cams portriat
Via Authors' site
CAM BAITY 

Cam was born during a nasty heat wave in Richardson, Texas. He has been drawing ever since he figured out how to use his hands, and in second grade he wrote his first book about an adventurous wombat in fluorescent high-top sneakers named “Mr. Cuzul.” In fourth grade, he got his first taste of celluloid when he starred in an independent feature penned by Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Tracy Letts. Fortunately for Cam, the film was never completed.

Attending the Arts Magnet High School in Dallas, he won accolades for his work including First Place in Painting at the 1996 Visual Arts Guild Exhibit. Cam’s obsessions with art and story collided when he studied animation at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan as well as Calarts. He made \short films, which screened around the world at festivals like Cinequest, Anima Mundi, and the BBC British Short Film Festival. With fifteen years of experience in the film industry, his credits include major motion pictures such as Team America: World Police and popular television series like Spongebob SquarePants and Robot Chicken, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation.

Cam’s dream of becoming a published author has come true at long last. But so far his novels are surprisingly wombat-free.
                                                             


Bennys portrait
Via Authors' site
BENNY ZELKOWICZ

Born in Ottawa, Canada to professional musicians, Benny bucked family tradition to pursue a sensible career in the hard sciences. While studying biopsychology at Oberlin College, he spent countless hours in the lab, carefully analyzing the tiny brains of the African knifefish.

By the time he graduated, he realized that his own brain was consumed not with his research, but with the film he was animating in his spare time. So Benny left the poor fish alone and earned an MFA at CalArts, where he developed a special love for stop-motion, clay, and sand animation. His award-winning film, The ErlKing, screened at Sundance, Annecy, and The New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Benny directed the BBC/CBC animated series Lunar Jim and provided the voice for the title character.

Over the past thirteen years, Benny has worked on tons of commercials, music videos, feature films, and TV shows.


CONNECT WITH THE AUTHORS

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

[Blog Tour] Review: The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer

Title: The land of 10,000 Madonnas
Author: Kate Hattemer
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication: April 19, 2016 by Knopf

Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest review/blog tour.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death.
I’m a sucker for road trip books and while The Land of 10, 000 Madonnas was a road trip of sorts, it was also a quest and journey of self reflection/discovery. Jesse Serrano knew he would never make it to college, and due to an atrial septal defect (hole in the heart) he passes away at the age of 17. He leaves behind his family and friends who are still grieving months after his death. But on the day of Cal’s graduation she receives a package from her late cousin. He planned a trip to Europe for her and her brother, their cousin Ben, his girlfriend and best friend. Wanting to fulfill Jesse last dying wish to take the trip, the four of them trek across Europe in hopes of finding Jesse’s estrange mother.

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas is told through multiple POVs, readers even get to see through the eyes of Jesse with excerpts from his journal he left Cal. I love seeing exactly what each and every character is feeling and thinking. What I like about books that take their characters on a trip is that I am able to see and learn about places I’ve never been to before. I can picture the quaint little village the group passes through and the mountain they hiked in Berlin. And I certainly hope to see the beauty of Europe one day.

Hattemer did a good job creating realistic and relatable characters. I thought that everyone was fully development and unique in his/her own ways. Cal is what I’d call your average teenager, there isn’t much that makes her standout but she isn’t someone that’s invisible either. Her brother, Trevor is always making jokes or light of a situation; he goes with the flow and never takes anything too seriously. I thought Ben was hilarious; he’s a perfectionist in everything he did. He’s a stickler for rules, super organized, plans everything to a T, School/History Buff…he’s knows everything except socializing in the real world. I like Ben, his idea of fun would include staying at home and researching. Lilian, Jesse's girlfriend is the girl that other girls want to be like but at the same time has a wall that keeps people at a distance. As for Matt, he’s like Cal, average, somewhat good looking but other than that unremarkable. I enjoyed most of this book, but I do have one complaint, which would be the pettiness between the two girls on the trip. Before the group boarded the plan Cal and Lillian were already butting heads. I mean, yes, I get it, they are both in pain and grieving but many times they forgot the real reason for the trip. They would constantly verbally attack and instigate one another (well Lillian more so than Cal). Thankfully it wasn’t the entire book, as we got towards the end; the girls had a better understanding of each other. This was exactly the point of the entire trip. Jesse wanted them to go on a pilgrimage for self reflection and so they can help each other cope and learn to live without him.

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas was a solid read. I thoroughly enjoyed it more than I expected. It is a story about love, friendship, family, self discovery, coming to terms with grief, acceptance and most importantly how to move on and live. The Land of 10,000 Madonnas was heartwarming, poignant and even had a touch of humor.