Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Carrier of the MarkThe Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great start to a new series! The one thing I definitely can say is that I am extremely glad this book lived up to all of the chatter I saw on Twitter and on different sites. Leigh Fallon took the young adult supernatural world and made it her own. It is very hard to be original with all of the new books out there and so many imitations of work that have become famous, especially if you are a reader as well as an author. The cover is gorgeous and what drew me to the book first. It is an ARC so I cannot complain about editing. I am a doctoral candidate with a ton of research and writing skills so my bar is set really high there and for an ARC the editing was not too bad. I imagine that by the time this is at final print it will be close to perfect.

A student who moves around a lot relocates to Ireland and attends a new school. She discovers new friends and new things about herself. She is introduced to an entirely new world because of her family history and the fun, action and mystery begins there.

The setting was well described. I love reading about other countries and the author did a wonderful job of making me see what the characters saw, from cliffs overhanging beautiful bodies of water to green hillsides during September. The description of beautiful buildings and what the homes looked like was well done. It really works as an e-fieldtrip.

The characters were very well developed. I could tell right off that some people were very suspicious to me and I can't wait to find out if I am right in future books. Meagan and her friends behaved the way young adults tend to and I have to say that the siblings and their relationship were very well done especially given their history. I had a thought about one thing and I hope I don't forget it by the time the next book comes out and I hope it is something that will be developed in the forthcoming books. That is another thing that I liked about The Carrier of the Mark. There was mystery and intrigue and it left you wanting to know more.

I especially liked that the friendships felt genuine. The teenage love is gag worthy as those of us who have to watch or hear “snogging” tend to always think! A perfect example of how Leigh Fallon was on the mark with colloquialisms. But, it was not nauseatingly over the top, which is the one thing that tends to make me run from romance books. I'm kind of a "want to see cool powers, good characters, a lot of butt kicking, and a good story" kind of reader. This book did not disappoint. It gave me a bit of everything I like in a book.

The final thing I will say is The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon is a perfect example of why so many adults are reading young adult urban fantasy these days. It's just a good book.





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Monday, April 25, 2011

Dark SoulsDark Souls by Paula Morris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A good friend at a local indie heard me raving over Paula Morris' Ruined. When the ARC for Dark Souls came in she saved it for me and surprised me with it last a short time ago and I could not resist starting it as soon as I was able. I am really not a ghost story fan. But, I really love Paula Morris' writing. She really tells a good story. I will start with the cover. It is haunting but, I really like it. The cobblestone streets and the whole 'Old England' appeal to it just draw me in and I imagine there really is a street that looks like this in York.

We have a set of new characters in Dark Souls. I have to admit I was hoping there was more New Orleans in this one. But, one of the things that this author does so well is set a scene. She does an excellent job of helping you feel as if you are actually seeing the buildings, streets and people yourself. She does not overdo it by inundating us with what someone is wearing or what the furniture looks like. She gives us what is pivotal to the story. She just has a way of making you see the picture in your head if you are visual reader like me.

In Dark Souls a family tragedy has turned the Tennant family's world upside down. They decide to take advantage of both parents having a chance to do some visiting work in York, England, and make it a family vacation. Miranda, the curious intelligent protagonist of the story, has come to England with what might be seen as a gift or a curse. As she works her way through it alone she becomes engulfed in a mystery that has its basis in the early 1800's and is one of the pivotal moments in York, England's history. The story is well written and supports my initial reaction to Paula Morris' writing skills and I look forward to where she takes us to visit next.





Sunday, April 24, 2011

The President's Vampire (Nathaniel Cade #2)The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Cade is the president's vampire inherited from president to president. The story of how this occurred is told in Blood Oath and is a good read also. In this installment Cade and Zach are up against not only some of the same elements from Blood Oath but, some pretty nasty creatures. I do have a few holes in my memory from Blood Oath. But, I remember really liking it a lot and thinking how cool would it be if the president had a weapon like that. I was excited when I saw the latest in the series was being released. I got a hold of a copy a few days before it hit the shelves and it did not disappoint.

I am not that squeamish, but, some of it was a bit gory for me. But, it did not take away from how well the story was told. I am not a big government intrigue fan, though I did enjoy the Bourne movies. But, there is just something about how kick butt Cade is through and through. More than that he seems to have a deep belief in what he does which makes his oath even more of a bind on him. It feels like a carryover from whom he was before he turned and that even then he was a devoted patriot. I always go back to Blood Oath when he first made his appearance in the story. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it but, it was a very exciting scene and is well worth reading Blood Oath if you have not taken a look at that one yet.

I have to wonder if the blurbs at the beginning of most of the chapters were true research or rumored projects or just part of the story. I can say that initially they were quite interesting. When I was excited to get to the rest of the story they felt like roadblocks so I started ignoring them so I could get to what happened next with Cade and poor ole Zach who smartens up quite a bit. I felt like I was in the theater yelling at the idiot saying no don't do that and watching them do it anyway for most of Zach's part in this story. But, he did not disappoint and Cade's protection of his partner is part of what makes you feel like there is more to what he does for the country then just his oath. Of course, Tania is still Tania and we have to wait and see how she feels about her part in this story in the next installment. I'm sure she'll wax poetic for about 3 seconds.



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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin, #4)Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was lucky enough to receive an electronic ARC of Tangled Threads earlier but will be buying the physical copy for that great cover. You can never go wrong with the Elemental Assassin series and Tangled Threads is no exception to that rule. I have been totally enamored of this series since Spider's Bite. Despite the heartache, hardships, and even, stolen good moments that occur in Gin's life she finds a way to persevere.

One thing that never changes, and is very prevalent in Tangled Threads is the descriptions of the environment. Despite Ashland, NC being a real city, Gin's Ashland is a world unto its own with its dividing line where stepping across one street means you are at serious risk from not only mere thugs, but, vampires, evil dwarves or some other badness you might run into that might not be fully human. Something that always strikes me about this series, and Jennifer Estep’s writing in general, are the vivid descriptions. For example, "green, glossy Kudzu vines curled around a trellis that partially obscured the porch. So did a thick cluster of rose bushes, although their branches were bare for the winter, except for the long, curved, black thorns that glittered like polished jet". This depiction immediately made me think of my great-grandmother's back porch that ran the length of the back of the house.

Another great thing about the books is the main character, Gin. Despite Gin's myriad of edges there are parts of her that you can’t help but like and those parts even make you want to be like her, even if for just a few minutes. Maybe you would not go right out the door and whip out a silverstone knife and make someone pay for what they've done to make your day harder, or you might not bring a building down on someone's head, but, you sure can imagine it on a really bad day and I bet it will help take the edge off.

One thing that never changes, and is very prevalent in Tangled Threads is the descriptions of the environment. Despite Ashland, NC being a real city, Gin's Ashland is a world unto its own with its dividing line where stepping across one street means you are at serious risk from not only mere thugs, but, vampires, evil dwarves or some other badness you might run into that might not be fully human. Something that always strikes me about this series, and Jennifer Estep’s writing in general, are the vivid descriptions. For example, "green, glossy Kudzu vines curled around a trellis that partially obscured the porch. So did a thick cluster of rose bushes, although their branches were bare for the winter, except for the long, curved, black thorns that glittered like polished jet". This depiction immediately made me think of my great-grandmother's back porch that ran the length of the back of the house.

Another great thing about the books is the main character, Gin. Despite Gin's myriad edges there are parts of her that you can’t help but like and those parts even make you want to be like her, even if for just a few minutes. Maybe you would not go right out the door and whip out a silverstone knife and make someone pay for what they've done to make your day harder, or you might not bring a building down on someone's head, but, you sure can imagine it on a really bad day and it might bring a sly smile to your face.

The supernaturals in the Elemental Assassin books have been given an original perspective in the urban fantasy genre and the description of their powers and how they interact with other powers gives the books more depth. Jennifer Estep has taken the four elements and breathed a different life into them with her stories. Tangled Threads takes up the mantle and gives Urban Fantasy fans something in which to immerse themselves. The characters we have grown to love like Gin, Finnegan, Jo-Jo, Sophia, Xavier and Roslyn are there. But, now we have more of the new additions like Bria and Owen. We get to learn more about Gin's past and the build-up towards the inevitable crescendo between Gin and Mab is hanging in the air and making it hard to wait for the showdown.

Mab may not know who she is dealing with yet, but, she has brought in the big guns to take out The Spider. Elektra LaFleur's background is as dangerous and scary as Gin's. But, does she have what it takes to bring down Gin Blanco, retired assassin, The Spider? It is well worth the time to find out. This is an amazing addition to the Elemental Assassin series and I sure hope that Pocket and Jennifer Estep are interested in seeing where they can take Gin and the gang after the big showdown. I know that even with the impending showdown forthcoming Jennifer Estep has the skills to keep Gin's story moving forward.





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