Friday, August 29, 2014

TBR Tag - My To-Be Read List

So, A Perfection Called Books made a fun TBR Tag post with some questions for other bloggers and readers to participate in. Since I'm finishing up a beta read and won't have a new review for you guys today, I thought I would share some of my answers to this little challenge. I don't really have many people to tag, but I'd love to see everyone's answers anyway! It's fun seeing what everyone is reading this year!

The Questions!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
I use Goodreads, as well as my Google Calendar. While Goodreads is great for putting books I'm just mildly interested and want to pick up someday, my Google Calendar organizes the upcoming books so I can actually keep a reading schedule.

Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?
It's sort of a mix. I have a lot of review requests come in as ebooks, so that takes up a good portion of the list, but I also buy random print books at thrift stores and get them from events, so there are still plenty of print editions. I put them in my list in the same format I own them. If it's just something I want to read and haven't bought yet, I usually just do the e-book version.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
My Google Calendar knows all. I organize all the upcoming reviews and reads on that, and just pick which one is next. Sometimes something will REALLY catch my eye though and it cuts in line, so it's not a perfect system.

A Book That's Been On Your TBR List The Longest 

Oh dear lol. Uh, Clockwork Prince has been on my list since 2012. I actually own it, and started reading it once, but then college got crazy and I set it aside and apparently never got back to it. I keep meaning to, but then I move and it gets boxed back up... Lol I feel like this is reader shaming. I'm sorry poor little book! I didn't mean to neglect you!

A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR

So, Storm Siren was the most recent book on my list. Another blogger reviewed it, and I was actually pretty interested in giving it a shot, even after their thoughts. It had a really cool cover. What can I say? I'm a sucker for pretty things.

A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because Of Its Beautiful Cover
I love pretty things, so there are quite a few in my To-Read list based on their appearances (I'm an artist, what can I say? I really like pretty shiny things). This one was actually on there twice because I added it at two different times, so I think that's noteworthy. I really don't remember what it was about, all I know is I find the cover really striking.

A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading
I've actually read it before, so I don't know why I put it in my TBR pile. I think I keep telling myself someday I'll re-read it because I can't remember what I liked about it. But the more new books I get, the farther down my list it seems to go.

An Unpublished Book On Your TBR That You’re Excited For
It's not on my Goodreads list, but it's still in my Google To-Read pile until she puts the info up ;). I am really excited to see where this story goes, since I think the few things I didn't like in the first book will finally be resolved. Elements is still in the works, but I am hoping to get my paws on it soon....

A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone’s Read
But You  I want to read it, but it costs so much! I was so bummed that it's like a $9 ebook. An ebook! *sigh* I may buy the print version, but it will have to wait until a good pay day. In the meantime, I will just wait while everyone else reads. *does not sulk* *okay, sulks*

A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You
I own it, it's in my Nook. I'm waiting to buy the paperback when it comes out as well to complete my collection. But I know as soon as I read it I'm going to sulk because the next book isn't out yet, so I've starved myself from the story line for the sake of the greater good! Or, that's what I've told myself. I also sort of want to read it during November as my NaNoWriMo inspiration. So there is that also.

A Book On Your TBR That You’re Dying To Read
Also Cress. I really want to read it. >.> It's like a cookie, just sitting there... waiting for me...

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?
131 currently. That number is probably going to jump though in the next week when I start prowling the Goodreads giveaways again. *shifty eyes*

I Tag:
Jesikah Sundin 
And anyone who read this. : ) 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spark: Legends of the Shifters by J.B. North

Spark: Legends of the Shifters
Author:  J.B. North
Publisher:  Amazon Createspace
Pages: 302
Release Date: April 30th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

For more than a decade, Ivy Oliver has lived in a dark, crumbling orphanage where she was sent after her parents’ death. Her only hope for a life of simplicity and happiness is the trial, a test that frees her second form from where it’s been buried since her birth. 

That hope is dashed, however, when she transforms into a creature that rips her away from the only friends she’s ever had and ensures that her enemies are numerous. She is dragged unwillingly to a school that will discipline her in the ways of survival and defense. There, she makes both friend and foe. She discovers things she never knew about her past and her future. This tiny, insignificant girl is faced with a crushing destiny that might be too staggering for her to bear. She will have to abandon her shy, quiet demeanor and take on a fearless spirit if she wants to survive.
Magic, shape-shifting, a little romance and adventure: Spark had all of these elements and then-some, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. While I was a little bummed by the ending (in a good way. You know where you want to take away one of the author's stars because they're a jerk, but you liked it enough you let them keep it?) this book had a great pace and like-able characters. 

One of the things I most liked about this book was the relationships weren't all romantic. I like seeing family love, and friendship, rather than just full on romance. I enjoyed seeing Ivy grow as a character, and while she was pegged as having a powerful second form, it didn't feel too overdone. It wasn't like all of a sudden she was unbeatable and untouchable; she developed as time went on and worked her way into that position. 

There wasn't a huge cliffhanger at the end of this book, but there was enough plot left to keep me wanting more. Most of the characters were dynamic and likable, although maybe Roland could have been fleshed out a bit more. When I got to the last page, I was disappointed it was over, which is always a mark of a good book to me. And what can I say? I'm a sucker for stories with shape-shifters. Especially when we get to have some magic involved.

The ending still sucked. I'm still debating keeping that last star out of spite. Maybe I will forgive the author whenever I read book 2.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Zylan's Messengers by Sid Goodman

Zylan's Messengers
Author:  Sid Goodman
Publisher:  Amazon
Pages: 302
Release Date: November 8th, 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Three civilizations, separated by billions of years in time and millions of light years in distance, come to life as their disparate histories converge to help the human race survive in 2408, when all of their bad decisions come back to haunt them. 

Ecological disasters, resource depletion and pollution have finally overcome technology’s ability to cope, as a last minute technological reprieve is offered from one of the alien races … but with a cost. 

Zylan’s Messengers reveals how one alien race was the proximate cause of the most destructive event in recorded human history; one that has never been fully explained, and how it forever altered the course of human development. 

Zylan’s Messengers is a story of the human condition, and humanity’s unique ability in the animal kingdom to make conscious choices that were bad for their own survival as a species

So, I am just going to start off this review by mentioning this book wasn't my cup of tea. While that doesn't mean it was necessarily "bad", I feel like a lot of my personal reading preferences kept me from enjoying this novel. Sid Goodman has taken a lot of time to think through the worlds he has created, but I found it hard to connect to anything that was happening. The first few chapters feel really disjointed, there is a lot of information all at once that makes things feel slow, and at times it reads like a bunch of interconnected short stories, but not necessarily a full novel. It starts picking up towards the end, but I never quite got into it.

It didn't feel like there were characters in this book so much as there was just a story being told for a good portion of the novel. There are individuals we hear about, but I'm not sure we ever really connect to any of them. Most of the dialog didn't feel natural to me, and it felt a little too scripted to really be believable. I don't know, I just felt really distant with everything happening. It felt like the author thought through his worlds, but it was hard to relate to anyone in them. Once the Messengers make it to new worlds, that changes a bit, but I feel like it may have happened a little too deep in the novel.

The author clearly has some big ideas happening, and while I'm not a scientist and can't vouch for the research, it felt like he knew what he was talking about, which was a good sign. The science was a bit heavy, which is always a good or bad thing with a sci-fi depending on the reader. Overall, this may be a book others will enjoy, but it may just not have been the right book for me personally. I want to be in the action, not necessarily observing from a safe distance, so that's where things fell short and never really picked back up.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Brush with Darkness by Jamie Maltman

Brush with Darkness
Author:  Jamie Maltman
Publisher:  Testudo Press
Pages: 350
Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book I of Arts Reborn 

Creativity is magic, with imagination the only limit to its power. Yet others choose instead to channel the power of destruction. Or so the myths say. Neither has been seen in centuries—until now. 

Simon Baroba joined the Pazian legions to make a name for himself, rejecting his father’s failing business, and his late mother's faith. 

Shadush leads the Scentari and lusts for revenge on the Pazian Republic that stole his people’s land. And he will have it—through his mastery of the power of dark flames. 

In the aftermath of Shadush’s slaughter of the legion, Simon stumbles across his own buried creative abilities. As he explores the potential of his Talent with Elysia, the intriguing young woman who secretly creates sculptures of incredible beauty, Simon discovers much more about the evil magic he faces. 

In order to save his friends, himself, and the entire Republic, Simon must navigate a treacherous maelstrom of political intrigue and shifting allegiances, torn between ambition and curiosity, duty and love. 

ARTS REBORN is a new fantasy series set in the Republic of Pazh, home to diverse peoples and cultures, reminiscent of ancient Rome, Greece and the Mediterranean. It follows the story of the individuals touched by these opposing magical forces of artistic creation and malevolent destruction.

It is rare for a book to combine genres like Brush With Darkness does. War, art, and fantasy rarely mingle, especially in this way, but I did enjoy seeing the execution. While the beginning was a bit slow, eventually I found myself drawn into this world, and by the end I was fairly pleased with the outcome.

While I enjoyed the story overall, I will admit the opening was a bit slow for me. Military strategy and conversations tend to bore me, and a lot of the back story was hard to concentrate through. While the writing was good, I did find the pacing a little off in the opening. Then again, I like books with a little more action at the front, then world building afterwards. Another thing that made the story a little difficult to get into was all the different countries, ethnicities and unusual names. While some readers will really enjoy that, I tend to be a little lazy sometimes, and hate trying to keep track of a ton of unfamiliar locations, so they felt a little distracting from the story. Again, small things that won't bother a lot of people, but something to keep in mind if you're looking for an easy read.

The plot itself was unique. I liked the way magic is treated in this world, and how the characters use art as a means to fight. Not something you see every day. The love interest wasn't bad either, which was always a plus. It will be interesting to see where the author takes the story from here, and I think once you start getting into this series it makes it easier to keep up from book to book. The ending wasn't super exciting, but it was still a nice read overall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley

Nefertiti's Heart
Author:  A.W. Exley
Publisher:  Curiosity Quills Press
Pages: 280
Release Date: February 11, 2013
Source: Purchased on Amazon

Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.

London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father - sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality.

Her Majesty's Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti's Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.

Self-preservation fuels Cara's search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.

I picked up this book on Amazon awhile back, because I was a sucker for a pretty cover. Overall, the interior rose the the expectations, although there were a few places where I was a bit let down. When you mix a mystery, romance, and steampunk, it usually has pretty satisfying results, and this was no exception. Well-paced, like a blended concoction of some of my favorite novels, I was glad I picked it up all in all.

In the beginning, I loved the Sherlock Holmes sort of feel this world had. Even with the mix of steampunk elements, the old-timey mystery and hunt goes hand in hand with some of my favorite classics. Initially, I loved Cara and how headstrong she had become. I liked that we got to see her open up to someone and learn to let someone help after years of being alone, but I can't say I liked how Nate went about things. 

Honestly, I saw reasons for Nate's attraction, but it was hard to understand why Cara reciprocated. Nate seemed manipulative, self-centered, and intent on dominating her, which I didn't like. I really loved Cara's self-assuredsness, which the romance sort of took away. I wanted Cara to be able to at least fight back and defend herself when trouble hit. Instead, like many readers, I was disappointed in the way she ran to Nate like a damsel in distress. That didn't match the tomcat I loved in the beginning. 

The book does get steamy in a few places, and the ending was perhaps a little overkill for me. I thought it was well written, but I was reading the book for the smut so too much of it distracted from that. It felt like the romance took precedent in a few too many places. For a character who has been a victim in the past, her response to the manipulation was troubling. Where is the character who shot intruders and is armed to the teeth? Why is she swayed by a pretty face so easily, when the guy rarely shows qualities to back it up? Cara doesn't seem like someone who would have fallen for the dangerous and handsome pirate type. Even she questioned it at many placed, but other than her hormones going out of whack, there didn't seem to be a good reasoning there, so that was a disappointment.

Overall, I am still looking forward to reading more of these books, but I did feel the initial relationship weakened Cara as a character. She's tougher than that. Let her fight her own battles a bit so I can really root for her. I wanted Nate to earn her love rather than just seduce it, and I wanted Cara to maintain her independence, even when she learns to trust others. 

A few critical words, but that comes out of love for the character rather than dislike for the overall story. There is promise here, so long as the steaminess doesn't get in the way. Steamy as in romance, not er, steampunk. 

Onto the next book!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Looking for More Books? Book Subscription Services Recap

Hi Guys! So, awhile back I wrote a post about two book subscription services: Oyster, and Scribd. (Link in case you missed it) I figured it's been a few months so I might be overdue for an update (and if you've been wondering about this "Oyster" I keep mentioning, here's a good chance to get informed)

To summarize, Oyster and Scribd are both subscription services for books. You pay a monthly fee, and then you get access to browse their libraries and read as many books as you want. While I eventually discontinued Scribd (their reading list just didn't impress me), I have stuck with Oyster and am really pleased with how the collection has expanded. I did look into the new Amazon service, but I didn't really want to invest in Amazon Prime at this time, and Oyster has worked fine for me. Since March, Oyster has expanded to almost 500,000 books, and added compatibility with Android devices (yay for all you non-apple users!) The appearance has gotten even snazzier, and it's ease of use continues to be a highlight for me, even with the non-standard scrolling some people complain about. (I actually prefer the vertical scrolling personally, but that's just me)

Most of the books in Oyster aren't recently released, but there are a lot of best-sellers so it's nice to pick up on books you missed reading while they were hyped up. It's also fun to pick up some more obscure books you maybe didn't read (for instance, I nosed through The Psychology of Joss Whedon the other day, just because it popped up on the new release page) While I do love all my indie authors, it's nice to sit back and see what's happening in the main-stream from time to time. Plus, I still adore how pretty the app is. I never thought I'd like reading on my phone that much, but I'm a sucker for shiny things.

So what sorts of books does Oyster have right now? Well, just to give you an idea, here are just some of the books I reviewed since I got the app:

I also read Titanic: The Long Night and Selling Women Short, and today I added another 10 or so books to my reading list.

Twisted Fairy Tales are fun.

So what's the downside? The only real flaw I found with having a subscription service like this is some months I am reading a lot of other books beyond Oyster. When you pay $9 to read 2 or 3 books that are normally pretty expensive, it doesn't feel so bad. But on that occasion you read one book you only somewhat liked for the same fee, then you feel a little bummed. This month I'm pretty jazzed about my options though, so we're on an upswing. I would recommend it if you're reading more than your wallet can handle. And if you decide you want to give it a shot, I happen to have a handy little referal link to save you a few $: Shameless plug, I know. But discounts are pretty awesome, and my first free month got me hooked in the first place.

Anyway, in case you were wondering how my opinion has changed since I first started with Oyster, there's my update on my experience so far. This post is not sponsored by Oyster in any way, just FYI. I just really like how pretty it is. <3 and the awesome books. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Emergency Exit by Ever N. Hayes

Emergency Exit
Author:  Ever N. Hayes
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages: 399
Release Date: April 5th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Date: October 2020 
Place: Ely, Minnesota 

They didn’t know what to do. 
Would you? 

Let’s say you just found out you’d survived a massive chemical attack. How it happened and how many others lived through it…you don’t yet know. You don’t know the when (exactly), the who, or the why. You just…don’t…know. 

You have so many questions, but there’s no doubting what you’ve seen. Surreal as the aftermath may be, this isn’t a hoax. This is for real. 

You scramble back to where you were—where you were safe—and hear a message on the radio confirming this is widespread—across all of North America. There are probably thousands of other survivors out there—for now--people who got lucky like the nine of you. But it’s not over. Not even close. That message tells you an enemy army is on the way to finish the job. It’s only a matter of time. 

So what do you do? You’re only 20. The Marines have prepared you for a lot…but this? Your dad, your girlfriend, and your little sister…they’re not ready. How could they be? None of you are. But you only have two choices: Stay—and await the inevitable—or run. 

Supposedly there’s one safe haven left—ONE—and it’s clear across the country (and an ocean) in Hawaii. But the enemy knows that too. They’ll be lying in wait as you run right at them. That’s your best chance? It can’t be. There has to be a better way. 

But you know there isn’t. You have to leave behind a mother, your friends, neighbors and families—an entire lifetime. You have to leave behind everything. You have to face off with fear, with the massive devastation, and the force that will be hunting you all the way. 

This is it… 

The only way to live is to leave.

Of all the end of the world scenarios, the one that pans out in Emergency Exit is interesting, if nothing else. Most scenarios focus on gathering supplies, sitting and waiting out the chaos or bunkering down. But when chemical warfare annihilates almost all life in the US with one fell swoop, the survivors in this story have a different sort of survival struggle. Supplies aren't hard to find, there is plenty to go around, but they are forced to run like animals as the enemy tracks their movements. 

I sort of liked and disliked this book for many reasons, but the biggest thing that stopped me from loving it was the cast of characters we ended up with. I'm a fan of the 'average Joe' sort of survivor, someone I can relate to, but this book didn't really give me that. I mean, we had two of the worlds best snipers with insane military knowledge, their younger sister who just happens to be crazy talented with a bow and arrow, plus their entire extended family seems to conveniently be at a remote lake to survive the chemical attack... I know, it can happen, but that doesn't give me much to relate to. When they manage to meet up with someone who conveniently has an underground bunker with a water hatch, it just pushed my disbelief a little too far at times. 

I like end of the world scenarios I feel like I could live through. This felt like a group that got the world's best survival poker hand thrown at them. While the idea of raiding a Cabellas and taking whatever I wanted seems fun, at the same time, it left me feeling really distant. This was pretty much the story of the lone group of survivors talented and intelligent enough to get away when the rest of the US gets killed. Can't say that group would have me in it. 

Keep in mind, that's personal preference though. The action was good, the writing was nice, and I can see a lot people would enjoy. My lack of interest in military operations, guns, hunting, and special forces may have put me at a disadvantage.

There were some things I did enjoy about the story, which is why my rating is still as high as it was. The writing was good, the pacing kept me interested, and I liked the duality that takes place in the story between Captain Eddie and the survivors. I like books that blur the lines between one side and the other, so that was nice. Some of the conversations (especially dealing with Raegan and Tara) felt a little flat, but they did add a slight sense of normalcy the initial group was missing. Little things here and there. Overall, I can't say it was a book I would really need to read again, but maybe a few friends might enjoy it more. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Zeus is Dead by Michael G. Munz - Review and Blog Tour!

Hi guys! I got a chance to participate in the Zeus is Dead Blog Tour, so this post is going to include some extra fancy promotional stuff that may make this post longer than normal. Before we get to all that fun though, here is your normally formatted review to kick things off:

Tadaaaaa Pretty Review Stuff

Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure
Author:  Michael G. Munz 
Publisher:  Booktrope
Pages: 446
Release Date: July 11th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

You probably saw the press conference. Nine months ago, Zeus's murder catapulted the Greek gods back into our world. Now they revel in their new temples, casinos, and media empires—well, all except Apollo. A compulsive overachiever with a bursting portfolio of godly duties, the amount of email alone that he receives from rapacious mortals turns each of his days into a living hell.

Yet there may be hope, if only he can return Zeus to life! With the aid of Thalia, the muse of comedy and science fiction, Apollo will risk his very godhood to help sarcastic TV producer Tracy Wallace and a gamer-geek named Leif—two mortals who hold the key to Zeus's resurrection. (Well, probably. Prophecies are tricky buggers.)

Soon an overflowing inbox will be the least of Apollo’s troubles. Whoever murdered Zeus will certainly kill again to prevent his return, and avoiding them would be far easier if Apollo could possibly figure out who they are.

Even worse, the muse is starting to get cranky.

Discover a world where reality TV heroes slay actual monsters and the gods have their own Twitter feeds: Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure! 

If there is an award for being the most well-researched smart-ass, I think Michael G. Munz would take the prize. And I mean that with the most adoring and praise-inducing admiration I can manage. While I'll try not to polish the author's ego too much, this book quickly rose through my level of favorites with it's wit, geekiness, and careless disregard of the ever prevalent fourth walls; Zeus is Dead is clever, yet entertaining in a manner that made it hard to put down. If you like Greek Mythology, humor, and ridiculous plot lines common in stories like Monty Python or Space Balls, you might like this book. It may be a love it or hate it sort of project, but I thankfully was one of the former readers.

Now that I've gushed a little bit, and possibly lost a few readers for using the term "smart-ass" in my review, I guess I should take some time to actually talk about the work. The first thing I should probably warn you is this is not a "linear" sort of story-line. If you want to go from point A to point B, this may not be the book for you. Part of the fun of this story is the careless side-trips we encounter along the way. One minute you're talking about the gods return to power, the next a clumsy, poorly trained ninja is tripping in the forest and being rewarded with glitter paper. While the main characters are important, so is some of the silly none-sense thrown in on the side. I'd liken some of the side-trips to the book Stardust; you never know what will turn out to be relevant later.

This book works because it embraces the ridiculousness. Yet, there is still a story that carries you through it. There are a few moments of language and poking fun that happen that may offend a few readers, but it is a story involving Greek gods, so that may be a given in those aspects. To be honest, there were probably some jokes that went over my head at times, but I never felt to bogged down by them. It was fun, yet balanced, which is something that is pretty difficult to manage. I liked that the gods in this story were still "human" on many levels. They didn't feel fearfully overpowered, their misadventures kept me entertained, as well as their modern adaptions in comparison to their more historical counterparts. It really did bring a fresh twist to some old subject matter. 

And adorable kitten monsters of death. Can I keep one?

This is one of those books that is less about the ending, and more about the journey along the way. I'm not sure I wanted to reach the end, to be honest. I was having a little too much fun giggling along the way. 

Tour Goodies and More!

Find Zeus is Dead on:

About the Author

An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington State in 1977 at the age of three. Unable to escape the state’s gravity, he has spent most of his life there and studied writing at the University of Washington.
Michael developed his creative bug in college, writing and filming four exceedingly amateur films before setting his sights on becoming a novelist. Driving this goal is the desire to tell entertaining stories that give to others the same pleasure as other writers have given to him. He enjoys writing tales that combine the modern world with the futuristic or fantastic.
Michael has traveled to three continents and has an interest in Celtic and Classical mythology. He also possesses what most “normal” people would likely deem far too much familiarity with a wide range of geek culture, though Michael prefers the term geek-bard: a jack of all geek-trades, but master of none—except possibly Farscape and Twin Peaks.
Michael dwells in Seattle where he continues his quest to write the most entertaining novel known to humankind and find a really fantastic clam linguine.
Find out more about him at While there, it wouldn't hurt to get a FREE copy of Mythed Connections, the spiritual prequel to Zeus is Dead.

Contact Michael on Twitter / Facebook

Ordering Information
ZEUS IS DEAD: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure
By Michael G. Munz
Paperback price: $20.95
eBook price: $4.99
• Available on in Kindle and paperback versions
• Available on in Nook and paperback versions
• Title is available internationally – please contact us directly if you do not see it on your preferred book purchase website
• Discounts or customized editions may be available for educational and other groups based on bulk purchase
• For further information please contact


Monday, August 11, 2014

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil
Author:  Soman Chainani
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages: 496
Release Date: June 6th, 2014
Source: Oyster Book Subscription Services

“The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.”

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

What can I say? I really loved this book. Charming, creative, and fun, I was ecstatic when Oyster added it to their reading collection. I'm a big fan of duality, and the concept of good and evil lurking in everyone, so this story was really appealing to me.

I thought it was interesting seeing how the 'evil' school was handled. I liked seeing the reasoning behind the villains thoughts, and how they trained to fight good, and why. I also liked seeing the way good had perhaps been a bit corrupted with time, focusing on looks and princes not necessarily just doing what was right. Plus, throw in a warped overseeing power, and that just makes everything more fun.

There is a scene at the end a number of people commented on (I will try to avoid spoilers) that did knock the book down a tiny notch for me. While I don't care who kisses who, I wish there was a bit more reasoning behind the why and what it meant and all of that because it did confuse a lot of people. It may be a regional thing, or a personal thing, but I know where I'm from you only kiss someone you're in a romantic situation with. Some people treat that differently, so I'm not sure if this is one of those cases, or a shift towards the romantic. If that all sounds cryptic, once you read the book it'll make a bit more sense. Or you can just read the spoilers of other people blurting it out. 

That happens too..

Overall, I liked the twisted fairy tale sort of vibe to this book, the schools, the classes, and the plot. Yeah, I just like some magical fluff sometimes. Now to wiggle away and capture book two....

Friday, August 8, 2014

Earth Sentinels by Shaman Elizabeth Herrera

Earth Sentinels
Author:  Shaman Elizabeth Herrera
Publisher:  Blue Gator Inc
Pages: 268
Release Date: May 18th, 2014
Source: Received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Shaman Elizabeth Herrera’s personal experiences deeply influenced this poignant adventure featuring a group of shamans, a fallen angel and indigenous peoples who use supernatural powers to save the planet from mankind’s greed, corruption and indifference. Inspired by current events, Earth Sentinels leads you through the world’s most pressing issues, offering amazing insights while instilling hope. 

“Riveting! A must read!” — Dennis Nighthawk, healer and spiritual leader, retired military, and member of the White Laurel Band of Cherokee

“A succulent portion of cold, hard truth played out with characters you share affinity with, understand and love.” — Mark Champion, founder of

While this book has a beautiful cover, and some great goals, I don't feel I was quite as taken to it as other readers. While I consider myself eco-conscious, much of the story felt very heavy handed dealing with these hot environmental issues. The politicians were always bad guys, out to steal the indigenous peoples land, and anyone who supported oil or nuclear power did so for their own selfish reasons. People were all dumb and ignorant, oblivious to what was going on. It had a very black and white stance on the environment, and what we should do to protect it. But I found that a little hard to stomach as a reader because the issues are always bigger than that. 

I disliked that the books answer to saving the earth was to pretty much kill anyone that stood in their way. Innocent workers of these companies were swallowed alive by the earth, killed by wild animals, and killed by lightning. It just seemed a bit harsh to me. Why did the answer this book promoted have to be violence? Hopelessness? It acted like Native Americans were the only one who cared at all about the earth, and even the news stations treated them as the enemy. Personally, I'd just like to feel like we've come further than that... I wanted pictures of the scroll to do something, to sway people. I wanted to see individuals fighting for the earth, not just at the end. There are a lot of people actively fighting to be greener, eco-friendly, and to make the earth a healthier place. I just feel like this book diminishes their efforts.

This felt like a book written in anger, which makes it difficult to really enjoy for me. The romance felt forced, the characters regret for their actions just seemed temporary because there was no lasting consequences for answering violence with violence. This book just negates the battle people are already having to make a more eco-friendly environment. In the end, I'm just not a fan. This was just a very dark story, and it wasn't my cup of tea.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Unleashed (Makai Series Book 2) by Toni Kerr

Author: Toni Kerr
Publisher:  Featherfoot Teen
Pages: 333
Release Date: June 5th, 2014
Source: Received from author in exchange for an 
honest review

Tristan can't wait to get to Darnell—a place where people have similar powers to his own and won't know about the horrific events that led to being exiled from his previous home. Unfortunately, they do know, and so does Lazaro, a ruthless man determined to regain possession of the powerful emerald Tristan stole.

And Lazaro isn't the only one on a quest for Tristan's blood. 

A secret society of overzealous dragon slayers believes Tristan is a worthy target to hunt. When he is captured and put on trial for being an abomination to mankind, his continued denial of dragon ancestry won't keep him safe for long. The Slayers have been hunting for generations, and in a private museum of artifacts and past conquests, Tristan discovers a handful of gems akin to the emerald and a new mission—if he can survive long enough to escape captivity. 

But amount of protection or denial can save him from himself.

After the first book in this series, I was admittedly a little let down. Thankfully, Unleashed does help sort out many of the frustration I felt with that story. In Unleashed, we get some more answers on what's happening and a bit more dragon lore, and while there were a few things I still wasn't a fan of, I did enjoy this book more than it's predecessor. 

I think one of the more interesting things about this book was we get to learn more about dragons. It doesn't just feel like 'dragon' is tacked on as an accessory term finally, and there is more story as to who is a dragon and why. I liked seeing some of the old powers expanded on a bit, and the story felt more fleshed out. There was a lot of hallucination in this story, which can make it confusing for the reader, but I didn't find it too overwhelming. 

The thing that is still a little bothersome is the sort of limitless power feeling that comes into play. People are doing so much, and there really aren't good boundaries over what they can or can't do. I like my super powers to be a bit more controlled: you can use telepathy and telekinesis. The end. The Makai books don't really have boundaries like that I could see, so most of my frustration stems from just that personal desire for better corralling of powers. The only other real problem I had with this book was Dorian was just...gone... for like, almost the entire book. Since she was like a main character to start out with, that was sort of depressing. I wished she had been involved more, but she almost felt a little like an after thought near the end. 

Overall, I was satisfied with the answers this book provided and it helped ease some of my frustrations from the first book.