23 book reviewed in a minute

I was reviewing the last book I read, and I thought, “You know, I should put that on my blog.”

Then I thought about the 23 books I’ve read this year and how I ought to review them on my blog, too. But who has time to read 23 book reviews?

So, I present to you, with apologies to Rinkworks, 23 BOOKS REVIEWED IN A MINUTE! That means very, very, very short reviews of each.

Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings by Lydia Sherrier

Lily: I’m a wizard.
Sebastian: I’m a witch.

They solve PROBLEMS with MAGIC.


The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue

Twelve princesses are cursed to DANCE EVERY NIGHT until LILY agrees to MARRY her BLACKMAILER.


Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Revelations by Lydia Sherrier

Lily: Sebastian, are you keeping secrets?
Sebastian: Yes. Lily, are you keeping secrets?
Lily: Yes.



Fire Water by Domino Finn (book 5 of Black Magic Outlaw)

Cisco goes to the ELEMENTAL PLANE and there learns an INTERESTING FACT.


Dragonfriend by Marc Secchia

A girl named HUALIAMA is TOO TOUGH TO DIE because DRAGONS. Also GRANDION has secrets TOO.


Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Allies, by Lydia Sherrier

Lily and Sebastian don’t TRUST EACH OTHER because they’re a WIZARD and a WITCH with TERRIBLE HOME LIVES.


A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones

VIVIAN SMITH is FAMOUS for RUINING ALL OF TIME. See: nuclear war in WWII.


Spellsmith and Carver, by H.L. Burke

Auric: I hate my crazy dad.
Jericho: I love your crazy dad.
Auric: I hate you now, too.

CRAZY DAD runs away into the FEYLANDS.

Auric: I take it back.


Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Legends, by Lydia Sherrier

Lily and Sebastian go to ENGLAND because of MORGAN LAFEY.


Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall

A bunch of KIDS go to MARS to escape ALIENS but find aliens ANYWAY.


Cities of Gold by Douglas Preston

A couple of guys try to retrace the path CORONADO took from Mexico up through New Mexico. The desert SUCKED back then and it STILL SUCKS.


Coiled, by H.L. Burke

Brothers: One of us turns into a snake when somebody looks at him. The other turns into a snake when nobody is looking.

Sisters: One of us has healing powers but gets uglier when she uses them. The other gets more beautiful the more cruel she is.

Now they have to GET MARRIED.


Excalibur by Tim Marquitz

Captain: We can fly this alien ship even though it was designed by BUGS

BUGS start KIDNAPPING PEOPLE

Captain: Let’s rescue these people.

BUGS HATCH OUT OF THEM

THE END


Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Anna is a WEREWOLF OMEGA which means she can CALM DOWN OTHER WOLVES. So when a WEREWOLF starts hearing VOICES she can CALM HIM except the voices are caused by an EVIL WITCH.


The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Valancy has a WEIRD NAME and a BORING LIFE. Then she finds out she has A YEAR TO LIVE. So she IS RUDE TO HER RELATIVES and GETS MARRIED.


The Tethered World by Heather L.L. FitzGerald

HOMESCHOOLERS go to a FANTASY WORLD that is really the GARDEN OF EDEN with ELVES.


Dragon Lyric by Bethany A. Jennings

Dragon: Wives are beautiful. And delicious.


Fabled, by Kara Jaynes

A girl can’t go to ARCHERY SCHOOL so she runs away and FIGHTS FAIRYTALES INSTEAD.


The Midnight Queen, by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Sophie is studying MAGICK even though it’s IMPROPER.

Gray: I am disgraced and accused of murder. Shall I teach you magick?

Sophie’s father: I have a plot to kill the king and pin it on Gray.

Sophie and Gray GO ON THE RUN.


 

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Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus (why you should read it)

Yep, this is a book review. Of a really fun book. You ready?

No, I did not just say that in a WWE wrestler’s voice.

Anyway, here’s the official summary:

By day, book-loving wizard Lily Singer manages library archives. By night? She sleeps, of course. In between, she studies magic and tries to keep her witch friend Sebastian out of trouble. Much to her displeasure, he finds it anyway and drags her along with him.

From unmaking ancient curses to rescuing a town lost in time, Lily and Sebastian fight to avert magical mayhem. Meanwhile, Lily’s mysterious past begins to unfold–a past hidden from her by those she trusts most. Will she be able to discover the truth despite them?

And now for my review.

This isn’t really urban fantasy, not if you take UF to mean clever wizards as the underdogs in a massive struggle against an overpowering evil force against the backdrop of a rainy city. This is more like what I think of as contemporary fantasy (and might be at home on a shelf of paranormal cozy mysteries): Girl and guy solve mysteries. They have chemistry. They exchange witty banter. They drink tea. Oh, and occasionally they do some really interesting magic.

I think that’s one thing that attracted me to the book in the first place. The magic system is based on Sumerian cuneiform (which has always intrigued me). It smacks of frontiers. The heroine, Lily, is always learning some new spell by examining an ancient artifact. It thrills my little paleontologist/archeologist heart.

The hero, Sebastian, is a witch. But he’s a witch in the sense that his magic comes from trading favors with other beings. And the beings he prefers to deal with are fairies. So there’s lots of him bribing various fairies and pixies with booze. It’s hilarious and not very witchy. It’s like the lighter moments in the Dresden books when Harry bribes the pixies with pizza.

The book is laid out kind of oddly–it’s basically three novellas rolled into one book. So in Story 1, you meet Lily and see how she deals with a haunted house. In Story 2, you follow Sebastian into the seamy underworld of Alabama and see how his fairies help him take on a drug ring. In the third story, the artifact of note in story 2 has been used to freeze a whole town in a time loop. Think Groundhog Day.

It’s kind of odd reading three stories in one book. But they’re all heavily interconnected. The shorter length makes for quick reading (again, like a cozy mystery).

Since I’m always in the market for light, fluffy reading, this book hit the spot. I’m also reading the second book, which is supposed to take the metaplot a little deeper. There’s also a kickstarter going for books 3 and 4, which will be out soon (yay!).

What are you waiting for? Go grab a copy!

The eternal good/bad review conundrum

I like to read books. Who here saw that coming?

*raises hand*

I try to only read books that I know I’m going to like, or heavily suspect that I might like. I don’t like giving books bad reviews–heck, I don’t like giving mediocre reviews. I prefer those glowing “OMG this book was rad” reviews that other readers totally ignore.

It’s why I’m usually hesitant read random books from people I know. I don’t want to hurt their feelings with a lousy review.

3 stars

When I do read a crummy book, I only review it on Goodreads. Goodreads is kind of like Facebook for books, and doesn’t affect sales ranks the way Amazon reviews do. And it’s been a while since I really ripped into a book, anyway. The lowest rating I’ve given in the last six months has been 3 stars. That’s a “It was okay” rating.

But that still leaves the sticky question–what to do about a peer’s book that I felt had issues, but it’s too late to fix them?

Refuse to leave a review at all? Notify the author that I had issues? Leave a dishonest review?

I have to keep reminding myself that reviews are for other readers, not the author. Any time I’ve left scorchingly honest reviews, those reviews get up-ranked by people on Amazon. Much to my chagrin.

badbookreviews

What do you think? Only review when you love something, or be honest? And if honest, do you confine your honesty to Goodreads?

Three book reviews: Raven Kin, Aster Wood, Lindorm Kingdom

So far this January, I’ve gobbled up three newly-released books, one of which was an advance reader copy. I wanted to share them with everybody!

The books in question:

three-books

Disclaimer: I totally shop books based on their covers. Notice how all these have rocking covers? Oh yeah.

First:

Aster Wood and the Blackburn Son (Book 3)
This is the third book in the series. It’s about a teen from Earth, except this is a dying Earth with poison rain and stuff. Aster stumbles across a weird gold-etched page in his grandmother’s attic, which turns out to be a teleporting link to another planet. As it turns out, there’s a bunch of these planets, all related because they share a crumpled space-time area called The Fold. Except a bunch of mages unbalanced the Fold and now all the worlds are dying. Cue Aster’s attempts to fix things in book 1 and 2. And now book 3:

My review: After the end of the previous book, when one of the characters was turned evil, we knew that Aster was going to spiral for a bit. And he does–the first few chapters are hard to read. I kept thinking that Aster badly needed a friend. Fortunately, he finds the other characters fairly soon. Somebody has enchanted the city of Stonemore, making all the people there laughing, singing members of a Disney movie–completely unable to defend against the army coming to wipe them out.

So Aster runs around, trying different things to save his friends and his sister. In this book, we learn more about the glowing white animals that have helped him before, and they’re totally awesome. We also run into some more characters from book 1, as well as learning some surprising new twists about the Corentien.

All in all, a solid addition to the series, and leaves you wishing the next book was already out. 🙂


Second:

Lindorm Kingdom

Summary: What if your freedom came through the one who was meant to destroy you?

The lindorm has more power in his dragon body than his human mind can reliably control. The strength that has kept him alive until now is growing into a liability. He’s running out of time to break his enchantment, and he doesn’t even know how to start.

As a teenage single mother, Linnea endures cruelty and indignities to maintain her independence in a culture that only values the strong. When she tries to save a vulnerable child, her persistence irritates the wrong people and her jealous stepmother offers Linnea to them as lindorm bait.

No one cares if Linnea will be an effective means to get past the dragon’s defenses, a strategic distraction, or simply its last meal.

Linnea and the lindorm are expected to eliminate one another, but these two have never been good at doing what’s expected of them.

My review: This is a hard book for me to review. On one hand, I’ve looked forward to reading it for a really long time, and it’s a great take on the fairytale about the girl who must wed the dragon.

On the other hand, the writing is … strange. The first third of the book is extremely hard to read, because all the dialogue is non-sequitur. There’s very little description for a long time, and there are at least 5 first-person perspective characters who we swap between very quickly. The book does improve, however, and the flow gets better as the story enters the fairy tale part.

I would have been happy had the book ended after Linnea frees the lindorm from his curse. After that, however, I had a hard time following the other characters and their political machinations. I had seen what I paid for, in essence. It was like we went immediately into stuff that would have been better left for book 2.

Linnea is a strong-minded heroine who bears the stigma of being raped and having a kid, yet her rapist “proved his innocence” by murdering her father (due to the kingdom’s twisted laws). So a lot of this book deals with her preoccupation with being raped by everything male, and her rapist’s preoccupation with raping her again. The lindorm, of course, is exempt from this–until his spell is lifted. Her story and the lindorm’s are the most fascinating plotlines.

There’s a bunch of other stuff going on with the prince needing to marry a princess from a neighboring kingdom to prevent war, and djinn, and fairies (?). But I personally didn’t find that as engaging as Linnea and the lindorm’s storylines.

This is all my personal impressions, understand! Other readers may enjoy the book far more than I did. I think fans of Anne Elizabeth Stengl, especially, will eat this book up. But it fell a little flat for me because of comprehension issues.


Third:

Raven Kin (The Blackfeather Chronicles Book 1)

Summary: Silas is the last of a rare species of alchemical creature, and he’s quite content in his role as his mistress’s favoured companion. Anwyn is kind, and in his eyes a goddess. What more could a griffin ask for?

Only all is not perfect in the city of Anfi, where unfortunates are considered chattel, and the shift from noble to slave can happen overnight. Mistresses, however kind, do not possess divine powers. And fate has other plans for Anwyn. Silas must learn all that there is about what it means to be raven kin. Pampered pets don’t live long when they’re left out in the cold.

The might of the Janian Empire is great, yet when Silas finds himself embarking on a desperate mission, he discovers that there are things greater even than an empire.

And empires crumble.

My review: I picked up this book’s sample primarily for the cover art. A raven-griffin? Haven’t seen one of those before.

A look at the sample proved that the writing is solid, the world building good–kind of a Roman Empire on the verge of collapse–told through the eyes of Silas, griffin of mysterious origins.

I bought the book and read the whole thing in one afternoon. The book reads like the Queen’s Thief books–like historical fiction that, oh wait, has magic in it. Silas is besotted with the human girl who raised him, and knows that no good can come of her illicit romance with a slave.

Younger and more sensitive readers can be assured that while sex and rape are discussed, it’s all through the distant, practical viewpoint of a griffin–discussing how men twist the mating act. It’s never on screen.

While this book wraps up its story nicely, I’m eager to read more books in the series! Alas for new books–one must wait so long for sequels.