Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jane by Robin Maxwell

Title: Jane
Author: Robin Maxwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: N/A (possible sequel)

Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publication: September 18th 2012 by Tor Books 

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Cambridge, England: 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat, dissecting corpses, than she is in a corset and gown, sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of travelling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientific hero, Charles Darwin.

When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father on an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Rising to the challenge, Jane finds an Africa that is every bit exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined. But she quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets—and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane finds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.

I never read any of the Tarzan books, so everything I know about Tarzan and Jane were learn/seen from popular reference/culture. The year is 1912 and Jane Porter our main heroine is giving a lecture about the missing link between men and apes at a Chicago Public Library. The crowd is heckling her as she gives her speech because she’s a woman.  Amongst the crowd sits Edgar Rice Burroughs who is enthralled with Jane and invites her over for tea, it is during tea that Jane tells Edgar the story of her life.

I don’t read much historical-fiction but I was really interested in reading this book because it’s the first book written for Jane, and was authorized by the Burroughs estate. The book is told in the first person narrative, and the story jumps back and forth through the years. Jane talks about her life in school working towards becoming a paleoanthropologist, Jane on her adventures to Africa where she meets Tarzan and after she leaves Africa. I didn’t like how the story jumped back and forth, it kind of felt all over the place a bit.  The beginning of the book felt extremely slow, and felt like I had to push myself to continue with the story. The story didn’t really pick up till the end, probably the last third of the book. I felt the scenes with Tarzan were the most interesting compared to everything else like Jane’s academia which was a tad boring or the descriptive jungle that was painted (pretty, much I can only take so much description). Jane was an okay character, certainly a headstrong woman but there were many times where I found her to be annoying. She comes off big headed; it was either her way or no way (she thinks she’s always right). The ending was quite a surprise, leaving an opening for a possible sequel perhaps?

This was a well-written book, and you can definitely tell Maxwell knows her craft (having written plenty of historical fiction novels). Overall a good book (2.5 stars for story/overall book but 3 for it being well-written), but the story’s pace was too slow…like snail slow, not a lot of action and a little too feminist for my taste. I’d still recommend this to anyone who wants to read about Tarzan in a different retelling and in a woman’s perspective.

FTC disclaimer:  Tor Books  provided me with a copy of Jane, and in return I provide an honest review.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In a Fix by Linda Grimes

Title: In a Fix
Author: Linda Grimes
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: In a Fix #1

Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Publication: September 4th 2012 by Tor Books 

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Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.

This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable... that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.

Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.

Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.


In a Fix is a fun start to a new urban fantasy series by Linda Grimes.  Ciel Halligan is an ‘’aura adapter’’, someone who is able to duplicate another person’s identity (both appearance and voice) with a little touch of their aura.  Ciel has her own business as a facilitator, meaning people hire her to be ‘them’, and solve a problem they don’t want to do themselves. Ciel’s latest job requires her to get her client Mina a proposal, in which she kind of accomplishes until Swedish Vikings kidnaps him. As Ciel tries to rescues Trey (Mina’s boyfriend) she gets herself tangled in a bigger mess, requiring help from her ‘cousin’ Billy and her brother’s best friend Mark, who are both adapters.

The book is labeled as an urban fantasy but aside from being able to change appearance, there wasn’t any other magical element. In a Fix had more of a contemporary-romance/chick-lit feel to it rather than urban fantasy. Regardless, I love the idea and haven’t seen this in any urban fantasy I’ve read. I think many readers will like Ciel because she’s so full of snarkiness! Yes, she gets herself into a LOT of trouble, even when Mark, Billy or hot Viking Nils saves her from one situation she find herself in another mess of trouble immediately. Some may find Ciel’s attraction of trouble funny or annoying…I myself didn’t mind because it kept the story moving, there was never a dull moment. Then there’s Mark and Billy two hot and overprotective guys in her life, and as you can figure out there is kind of a love triangle thing going on. I like both guys, Mark is more about rules and is all serious and Billy is more of the laid back guy, the opposite of serious (most of the time). There are a lot of sexual tensions among the three, and with their adapter ability it makes everything more interesting. 

Bottom line, a great addition to the urban fantasy genre that I think many people will enjoy. I usually like my urban fantasy dark and gritty, but I enjoyed this funny-lighter side of urban fantasy. If you don’t mind a witty, stubborn character full of snark then this might be for you. I am already looking forward to the next book in the series, Quick Fix which hits stores August 2013. 

FTC disclaimer:  Tor Books  provided me with a copy of In a Fix, and in return I provide an honest review.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Title: Ghost Planet
Author: Sharon Lynn Fisher
Genre: Science Fiction-Romance
Series: N/A

Mass Market Paperback, 342 pages
Publication: October 30th 2012 by Tor Books

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Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world—a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she'd struggle with the requirement to shun these "ghosts." She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.

As a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy—creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone—oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love—Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.

But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man that she loves.

 I don’t remember the last time I read such an imaginative and enjoyable science-fiction novel, or actually a blend of equal parts science-fiction and romance.  I love the concept of Ghost Planet where every colonist that lives on Ardagh 1 ( kind of like a copy of earth) has a ghost ‘alien’ that’s bonded with them in the form of a dead person they once knew. Elizabeth Cole accepted a job on Ardagh 1 to get as far away from her ex-fiancé as possible. Upon arriving she meets her boss, an incredibly handsome Irish man who helped launch the Ghost Protocol. Murphy explains the rule of Ghost Protocol to Elizabeth, stating that a colonist and their ghost ca never talk or interact with one another…it’s against the law. On the night of Elizabeth’s arrival she discover she’s a ghost, that she really died on the way to Ardagh 1 and that she’s become Murphy’s ghost.  Both Murphy and Elizabeth must find out how this all happened and at the same time fight their attraction to one another. 

This is an excellent debut novel; Mrs. Fisher created a believable-realistic group of characters and the world in which they inhabit. It was easy to follow and understand how Ardagh 1 worked, and even though the ghost ‘alien’ are a reincarnation of the former self, they are no different than the colonist or when one was alive. When I first read it, I actually thought they were “like” a ghost, where no one can see them really but, they are just like any human. They still act like their former self; they still have their memories, eat regular food, feel emotions and procreate. I love Elizabeth. When she found out she’s a ghost, she was sad but just for a moment. She was determine to find out how to live with being a ghost, more about the ghost protocol, and if there is a way to “detach” from Murphy.  She’s a headstrong woman, and don’t let her being a psychologist fool you…she can totally kick butt and get her hands dirty. 

This is a debut novel not to be missed; I highly recommend it to all Sci-fi/Romance fans, and if anyone ever seen the movie THE ISLAND (has almost the same feel). The world that Mrs. Fisher created is so original and fascinating that it will keep you glued to the pages till you finish! I definitely will be checking out future works of Mrs. Fisher. 

FTC disclaimer:  Tor Books  provided me with a copy of Ghost Planet, and in return I provide an honest review.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stray Souls By Kate Griffin

Title: Stray Souls
Author: Kate Griffin
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Magicals Anonymous #1

Trade Paperback, 464 Pages
Published on October 30, 2012 by Orbit

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'Don’t look back. It wants you to look back.’

London’s soul has gone missing. Lost? Kidnapped? Murdered? Nobody knows – but when Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she’s a shaman, she is immediately called upon to use her newfound powers of oneness with the City to rescue it from a slow but inevitable demise.

The problem is, while everyone expects Sharon to have all the answers – from the Midnight Mayor to Sharon’s magically-challenged self-help group – she doesn’t have a clue where to start.

But with London’s soul missing and the Gate open, there are creatures loose that won’t wait for her to catch up before they go hunting.

Stray Souls is the first in a new series, ‘Magicals Anonymous’ by Kate Griffin.  This book takes place in the same world as Griffin’s Matthew Swift novels (Yes, the Midnight Mayor does make an appearance), but with a different narrator this time. Our main heroine, Sharon Li has just discovered that she is a Shaman, a seer, who can see the truth in all things, and can walk in the shadows (between worlds). Within in a couple of hours of finding out she’s a Shaman, she’s given the biggest task ever…find the missing souls of London. Someone is ripping souls out of London’s foundation, and among the souls missing is their lady of 4 A.M. Greydawn. Greydawn is one of London’s biggest player, she guards the wall between what is there, and isn’t there (creatures/things that live in the shadows, unseen to the human eyes).  It is up to Sharon and her band of misfit, Magical Anonymous support group to find the one responsible, and the missing souls.\

The layout of the book was extremely different than any other books I’ve ever read, there were chapters that were only one page long (did a double take at one point LOL), and chapter ‘confessions’ from the many of the secondary characters. While this is an urban fantasy, and one of the genres I love reading in..I had to put my normal expectations in the back seat because Stray Soul is written more with British humor. At the beginning of the novel, I was a little skeptical on whether I’d enjoy the book or not…since one had to get use to the writing style and humor.  As the story went on, and I met/learned more about Sharon’s Magical Anonymous group, I began to really love the plot, world, characters. Magical Anonymous is a support group for magical beings with issues. There’s only one word to describe these delightful bunch….Quirky. They’re all oddballs but it what makes them different and stand out. Readers will encounter an ‘almost’ druid, a gourmet foodie troll, a germaphobe-OCD vampire, and a goblin who’s the second greatest Shaman to walk the earth. 

Stray Souls was a great start to a new series; I enjoy this world and the characters and am thinking about picking up the Matthew Swift novels now LOL. I highly recommend this series to anyone who’s looking for different, and funny. While this isn’t your typical urban fantasy, (leaning more on the not too serious side), I’d say give it a try…I guarantee it’ll make you smile and laugh. 

Just to give you a little tidbit of what the book is about:

WARNING! There’s A LOT of cussing in the book lol. 

In this scene, Kevin our OCD vampire is letting the group know he’s only able to drink a “Certain” type of blood. 
“So I went to the doctor and she was all like ‘So you’ve got a syndrome’ and I was like ‘Are you fucking kidding me? I’m like the bane of the Immortal fucking night or whatever what the fuck do you mean I’ve got a syndrome?’ and she was all like ‘Yeah but it’s a cool syndrome’ and I was like ‘Lady, don’t give me this it’s a cool syndrome stuff, because I’ve gotta tell you I’ve got some real issues with personal hygiene anyways and if you’re about to tell me that my body is now, like, out to get me, well I honestly can’t tell you what I’m gonna do….’So when you were living your blood group was O negative and now you’re dead’-and you know she said ‘dead’ which I thought was just so prejudiced- ‘and now you’re dead your blood group is still O negative, so that’s like the only blood group you can drink.’”

“Is that a popular one?” asked Mrs Rafaat

“Like fucking no!” moaned Kevin, throwing his hands up in the air. “Only like fucking eight percent of the population or whatever!..”

The following scene Kevin is telling the group to get tested:
“Well, I’d say you should like get yourselves tested and signed up to the donor register,” exclaimed Kevin. “And I hope you’ve all got donor cards too because there’s like thousands of people on the organ donor register who die every year because they can’t get a part and I’m like, guys, charity begins at home, you know?”

A scene where the group is sneaking in to Burns and Stoke:
“I’m surprised we haven’t seen more security,” said Edna. “Surely if this wendigo character knew we were coming, he’d be trying harder to stop us?”

“Oh my God,” moaned Kevin. “Have you guys been living in like, the twelfth century? Never invite the wrath of God by wondering why things are going well!”

“Are you always this pessimistic?” asked Edna, ruffling within her purple cardigan. 

“Uh…undead, duh?”

As you guys can see I really like Kevin :D.