The Rest Falls Away (The Gardella Vampire Hunters: Victoria #1) – Colleen Gleason

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Summary:

Beneath the glitter of dazzling 19th-century London Society lurks a bloodthirsty evil…

In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy of hunting vampires, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake.

Review:

The Rest Falls Away is a fun, but rather shallow, bit of historical paranormal romance. While there is an interesting enough set up – vampires are the descendants of the Judas of biblical fame and there are different kinds of vampires…somehow. It’s impossible to miss the Buffy the Vampire Slayer influence vibes that this book has. Vampires turn to dust when staked, and both our heroine and the heroine’s aunt are called to their duty as hunters. While the book does avoid Chosen One cliches – there’s no prophecy or anything – it’s only by the slimmest of margins as Victoria quickly proves to be a super quick study that rapidly sends the vampires into hiding of sorts, avoiding the streets lest they be staked.

The biggest problem of this book is that it feels like we see almost nothing. We see none of her training, but get told soon enough that she’s killing multiple vampires a night. This is supposed to be the story of a girl in Society, and yet we spend very little actual time there either. She attends one or two parties, but we never see her making calls for example, or any of the social activities that you might normally expect to see a girl on her Season participating in. It feels largely of tell, tell, tell.

Adding to this frustration is that the romance with the Marquess feels very instant. He apparently remembers her from when she was 12 and that’s basically all it takes for them to fall in love. One of the highlights of the book is the fact the way the book comes to reconcile her profession and her love life – it certainly feels like it has more consequence than most books of this sort – but I really wish more time had been taken to develop all the characters and their relationship.

All told, I might have have had fun reading it, but by the next morning I’d forgotten 95% of it. Fans of the genre may yet still enjoy it (I do have the next two books and will likely read them at some point) but it’s not necessarily a title I’d go out of my way to seek.

Verdict: Borrow it.

Available: Now

Did Not Finish – Kushiel’s Mercy (Kushiel’s Legacy #6 / Imriel’s Trilogy #3)

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Summary:

Having learned a lesson about thwarting the will of the gods, Imriel and Sidonie publicly confess their affair, only to see the country boil over in turmoil. Younger generations, infatuated by their heart-twisting, star-cross romance, defend the couple. Many others cannot forget the betrayals of Imriel’s mother, Melisande, who plunged their country into a bloody war that cost the lives of their fathers, brothers, and sons.

To quell the unrest, Ysandre, the queen, sets her decree. She will not divide the lovers, yet neither will she acknowledge them. If they marry, Sidonie will be disinherited, losing her claim on the throne.

There’s only one way they can truly be together. Imriel must perform an act of faith: search the world for his infamous mother and bring her back to Terre d’Ange to be executed for treason.

Facing a terrible choice, Imriel and Sidonie prepare ruefully for another long separation. But when a dark foreign force casts a shadow over Terre d’Ange and all the surrounding countries, their world is turned upside down, alliances of the unlikeliest kind are made, and Imriel and Sidonie learn that the god Elua always puts hearts together a purpose.

Review:

I can’t say I saw myself DNFing this book. While I have recommended the first two of Imriel’s trilogy, it’s always been with the bit of a caveat that I didn’t think it as good as Phedre’s trilogy. Part of it was Imriel himself – he hasn’t been the most likable person for much of the series – but more to point, it’s been the use of magic in his series that has served as a turn off.

Magic has always been part and parcel of Carey’s world. In the first three books, the magic seen was generally Divine in nature. More importantly, magic may have had an influence on the story but it never drove nor dominated the series. Even the ending of Kushiel’s Avatar – in which there is a ridiculously huge bit of magic – the journey leading up to that magic was the focus, not the magic itself.

The exact opposite has been true of Imriel’s story. While Kushiel’s Scion is arguably half Phedre’s book and half his, by the time it shifts to him magic starts coming to the fore. It drove the conflict in the second half of that book. It drove all the conflict in Kushiel’s Justice as it does here in Kushiel’s Mercy. And while I love magic, the magic has to be done right and by and large it hasn’t been. It felt out of place in Kushiel’s Scion – we spent well over 400 pages (if not even more) magic free then BOOM out of no where it drives the whole plot. Albeit still ill defined, it was done better in Kushiel’s Justice as it hung over proceedings and drove some action, because that book was really about Imriel’s growth here.

This book, however, is where we lost the plot entirely. The major push behind the plot is as follows:

Wanting to ally itself with Terre d’Ange, an enemy comes to court and casts a spell during an eclipse that makes everyone lose their damn minds, causing the court to become instant besties with said enemy and to forget pretty much everything else convenient to the story to happened before it. The only ones not impacted by the spell are Imriel himself – who thanks to his mom, gets jabbed with a needle that somehow results in him become completely bonkers for thirty days before returning to instant lucidity – and Imriel’s major political enemy because hey, someone has to help Imriel get the eff out of Dodge so he can try and find a way to save the day.

I am not kidding.

And of course, everyone in court thinks that Imriel is the crazy one and no one behaves like themselves and whatever. I just can’t. It’s such a mind boggling stupid concept that it threw me out of the story entirely. The whole thing is just so convenient and so out of no where that it broke my immersion 100% and it just kinda sapped my desire to finish reading. I did skim to the end and can say that there is a HEA (of course) and the question of secession in Alba is so easily resolved that it makes you wonder why it was even presented as an ordeal.

All told, I still recommend Phedre’s trilogy, but Imriel’s trilogy is very much your mileage may vary. I’d been debating as to whether I wanted to give Moirin’s trilogy a go, but as of this moment I think I’m going to pass. If I do, I think it won’ be til 2016 at earliest – I think I need to put some distance between this books and those if I’m going to have any chance of giving them a fair shake.

NEED – Joelle Charbonneau (SPOILERS)

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Summary:

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.” Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

Review:

I’m done with Joelle Charbonneau. Done. Done. Done. The Testing series was a generic dystopian rip-off series that was mildly fun despite its immensely stupid premise of “let’s kill off the best and brightest talents in the upcoming generation” as part of its weeding process.

This book however, ups the stupid to the Nth degree.

Warning: The next paragraph contains spoilers. If you were planning on reading this book, consider yourself warned.

The face of NEED is a grown woman with the motivation of a pissy teenager (her ex cheated on her, let’s go supervise a government sponsored project where we encourage teens to incite violence and kill people!). The project is laughably stupid (it’s so hard for the government to spy on other government these days because information security. Let’s figure out how to use teens to do our dirty work for us in exchange for a cell phone!). The parents in this book are absolutely awful (I’m pretty sure my daughter is an attention whore endangering the life of my son, let’s leave her alone to think about what she’s done with absolutely zero adult supervision!). There is pretty much nothing of redeeming value in this book. Okay. I don’t hate Kaylee the protagonist, but that’s because she’s one of the few decent people in this book. I also don’t hate the writing, Charbonneau is a solid writer with a good sense of pacing and I will say the story never lags.

But man.

I think this book is up there with Allegiant for me in terms of how strong my dislike actually is. At this point, I’m pretty certain I won’t be doing a Worst Of list for the year, but if I were, this would be the leading contender for that list.

Just. Ugh.

Verdict: Skip It

Available: November 3rd

The Death of Dulgath (The Riyria Chronicles #3) – Michael J. Sullivan

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Summary:

When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as rogues-for-hire. Things have gone well enough until they’re asked to help prevent a murder. Now they must venture into an ancient corner of the world to save a mysterious woman who knows more about Royce than is safe and cares less about herself than is sane.

From the best-selling author of The Riyria Revelations comes the third installment of The Riyria Chronicles. Although part of a series, it’s designed to thrill both new readers looking for fun, fast-paced fantasy and Riyria veterans wishing to reunite with old friends.

Review:

The third book in the series, The Death of Dulgath was designed to be able to stand on its own. As my only previous experience with the world was the short story in the excellent Blackguards collection, I can confirm that indeed this book is very newbie friend and a stand alone novel. While backstory between the our leads clearly does exist (and of which I will read about when I get my signed copies of the first two in), at no point did I ever first lost or overwhelmed. I can safely say this is an excellent place to start if you’re at all curious about these books.

If you enjoy stories about rogues at all, you should enjoy these books.Royce and Hadrian make a good, balanced team. Royce is the cynical and world weary one. Hadrian, for all of years of soldiering, is still naive – very dangerous with his three swords – but very naive, which Sullivan uses to good comedic effect leading an lightness to it that is quite fun considering that the central plot could be written very straight and taken in rather dark or heavy political directions rather easily. Not to say that I wouldn’t enjoy that version as well – there Lady Dulgath is quite the interesting character, and the insight she brights into Royce’s character adds a bit of depth to the story that the book did need to avoid being too light and frothy.

All told, Sullivan knows what he wants to do with his books and seems to do a great job of it. So far I’ve rather enjoyed what I’ve read of this world and I look forward to exploring it further. If you like stories of rogues that don’t take themselves too seriously or are just looking for a fun read, give the books a chance. You’ll probably like them.

Verdict: Buy It

Available: November 15th

Note: The version read was published as result of a very successful Kickstarter project. This is another excellent example of Kickstarter done right with a ton of thoughtful/useful updates and deliver of the digital product ahead of schedule. My recommendation stands: if you’re going to support a publishing project on the site, look for works where the hard part (i.e. the writing) is already completed and they just need money to get it out into the world. Your odds of actually getting what you pay will increase dramatically.

City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) – Robert Jackson Bennett

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Summary:

The city of Voortyashtan was once the domain of the goddess of death, war, and destruction, but now it’s little more than a ruin. General Turyin Mulaghesh is called out of retirement and sent to this hellish place to try to find a Saypuri secret agent who’s gone missing in the middle of a mission, but the city of war offers countless threats: not only have the ghosts of her own past battles followed her here, but she soon finds herself wondering what happened to all the souls that were trapped in the afterlife when the Divinities vanished. Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death? Or do they have plans of their own?

Review:

It’s hard to overstate how much I enjoyed City of Stairs: it was my favorite book of 2014, after all. So as you can imagine, I was incredibly excited to get approval for the DRC of the book. And sadly, perhaps because of the change in protagonist, this book doesn’t quite live up to the original.

City of Blades is an indirect sequel: set in the same world and after the events of City of Stairs but with a different protagonist. For me, this is the biggest problem with the book. On paper, there’s a lot to like about Mulaghesh: she’s former military, bitter, and in the throws of an ongoing binge.I can’t think of another female character I’ve ever read about that’s quite like her.

But she’s no Shara.

I feel like she’s an example of a character that makes a good side character, but can’t necessarily carry a story herself as I never quite got invested her in the same way that I did Shara. And ultimately, that is a problem because until the book kicked into the high gear in the final quarter or so, the book dragged for me. Even the addition of Sigrud didn’t quite alleviate the issue – again, that chemistry that the character had with Shara just wasn’t there. There’s a bit of a sense of trying to recreate the magic as it were, but it didn’t quite get there.

Don’t get me wrong. Its still a very good book and I still recommend it, it just may be a touch of a let down if you loved the first as much as I.

Verdict: Borrow It

Available: January 2016

How to Convention – EyeCon Edition

5/12/17 – Hey everyone! I just want to make an amendment to this old post of mine. When I wrote this initial post I’d say I’d very cautiously recommend this con. Now I’d say go into this convention with a bit of a Buyer Beware. Between the OTH con where they charged $200+ for the best seats for a concert…only for the fans in the cheap seats get invited to join those who paid for the best seats on the floor (and no, those who paid full price didn’t get a partial refund) or the difficulty in getting refunds for cancelled guests, it’s clear that not a lot has cha nged. There’s one incident, however that pushed me over into writing this update: it’s called Genesis.

At some point EyeCon introduced a convention called Genesis. It purposed to be a 90210/Gossip Girls/Gilmore Girls event. They had less than 100 people sign up for tickets so they did the honorable thing and cancelled the event. The less honorable thing? Look at the relevant portion of the cancellation announcement below:

For those 100+ attendees, we apologize and ask you for your understanding. Full refunds are available upon request, you wont have to fight to get a full refund. Were happy to do it. For those of you willing to transfer to one of our other events, you may simply request the transfer to the show of your choice. For now, we have our nearly sold-out event for One Tree Hill in May and Autumn is organizing the first ever North American Greys Anatomy themed event for which we will have information very soon. Any attendee who chooses to transfer to another event will receive a free gift (that wont be available to anyone else) as our token of appreciation. Please forward any and all requests to eyecongenesis@gmail.com . Refund requests will be honored within 14 business days.

Hey! They’re giving refunds! What’s so bad about that? You have to ask. When an event is cancelled, refunds should be automatic. Period. Exclamation Mark. Beyond that, this whole “refund requests will be honored within 14 business days” bit? The convention was cancelled in February. I know someone who as of the writing of this post was still waiting for her refund and now was having to get her bank involved to try and get her money back. They’re so happy to refund your money, amirite? Just be careful, okay? It’s now clear their problems are long term and deep-seated. There are so many good convention companies out there, it’s just hard to recommend one with so many continued problems.

Now back to my original review 🙂

Hey everyone! No new book review today, I’ve been on a bit of a dry spell when it comes to reading for about the past week and a half or so. Things will pick up again as they always do, but in the mean time I decided to do a post about part of the reason there’s no review today: the past several days I’ve been in Atlanta, Georgia for the #TVDLastRide, EyeCon’s final Vampire Diaries convention.

If it’s the last convention, why am I writing a review ? Because EyeCon as a company is still very much around and kicking. Currently there are two One Tree Hill conventions on the docket, and they’re looking to expand into other shows which means they’ll be around for some time to come. I found myself wishing I could have found more information about the company before I made the commitment especially given how expensive this convention is and thought that others might appreciate having it as well.

I’ve been going to cons off and on for almost twenty years now, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned that the con’s management is vital: you make your own fun, but a well-run con gives you the solid bones needed to let you have fun. I’ve done enough of these to have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t. My primary comparison will remain Creation because that is the niche that these conventions are in and Creation does remain the big player in the market.

This post is mainly going to focus on how the convention is run and if the various add-ons are worth your money. Hopefully by the end you’ll know what to expect and where I’d suggest spending the extra money on if money is indeed a concern.

Let’s get started. And yeah. This is easily my longest such post I’ve ever written. Be warned.

Continue reading

Marked (Soulseer Chronicles #1) – Sue Tingey

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Summary:

With no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.

But Kayla is not all that she appears.

And when Lucky is visited by a demonic assassin with a message for her friend, she finds herself dragged into the Underlands – and the political fight for the daemon king’s throne.

Lucky, trapped in the daemon world, is determined to find her way home… until she finds herself caught between the charms of the Guardian Jamie, the charismatic Daemon of Death Jinx – and the lure of finding out who she really is.

Review:

Marked is a bit of fun paranormal fantasy (I hesitate to call it paranormal romance as it never quite gets there, though I’m certain later volumes will get closer) that is being marked as young adult. And while the main character seems to teeter on that edge, the story definitely fits squarely into the young adult niche: if you’ve read enough fantasy, you can eventually figure out who Lucky is…or at the very least if you’re like me, kick yourself for not figuring it out as you’ve ultimately seen this before.

In some ways, this story reminds me of Angelbound about a girl who gets dragged into politics of the underworld and (of course) ultimately has an ability that makes her special. I do think this is a slightly better version of that tale. The opening is stronger and the demons definitely feel more menacing. The Underlands have an old school vibe to them, though the excuse for the lack of technology (what good has technology really done anyway?) is preachy and given how it doesn’t actually contribute to the story as a whole could have been better off tossed.

The companions in this book are probably the best part. There are demon body guards named Mr. Kerfuffle and Mr. Shenanigans, a pet draken which I totally want one for myself, and of course Jinx and and Jamie. The latter two are very much your more typical good guy/bad guy tropes, but again, they all work. I do wish we saw more of the political maneuvering – it basically happens off stage, and I do wish there could have been some actual romance here as only at the very end does our heroine realize that hey these guys are hot, but the quibbles are minor.

This is a fun little book that fans of the genre should enjoy. If you like the genre and you like the description, I think you’ll be pleased.

Verdict:

A strong borrow it.

Available: Now