Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Birds of Prey, Vol. 3: A Clash of Daggers by Duane Swierczynski, Romano Molenaar (Illustrations)

Release Date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
Source: Library Copy
Author Links: Website | Goodreads

The Birds of Prey lose one member but gain another, all while the team itself is pulled apart by personal demons and a traitor in their midsts. Plus, Mr. Freeze is out of Arkham Asylum and looking for revenge on the Court of Owls! His first target? The newest member of the Birds team, Strix!
Collects issues #13-17 and BATGIRL ANNUAL #1.








Starling pulled out a guy's eyeball in this thing!
No, she didn't stab him in the eye. She pulled his freaking eyeball out and turned it around so he could see himself!
Sorry. It was my favorite part of the book, and I felt it needed mentioning.
And by favorite, I mean just the Birds of Prey stuff. Naturally, the Batgirl Annual #1 that starts the story off is supah-awesome. But I'd already read that one in Batgirl...something or other.
So, I don't think it really counts, you know?

The action starts right off the bat when Katana's husband/sword get stolen...by ninjas!
What's a half-crazy samurai girl to do when ninjas steal her man? She's going after them, of course!
Unfortunately, she and the rest of the Birds are still getting over the toxin they were exposed to from the last book.
Thank you, Poison Ivy!
Everyone tells her to wait until they get a little stronger, but she's not having it.
Out the door...Poof!
And what happens when you go trotting off without backup?
In Katana's case, she ends up in getting kidnapped (pretty quickly) by the same Death Cult Ninjas who took her sword. Evidently the leader has it out for Katana due to some unfortunate incident yet to be named.
All we know so far is that she DISHONORED the clan. And from everything I've read, that's a real sticking point with those Ninja-types.
Are the Birds gonna leave her out there on her own?
Hell no!
They come in guns a blazin', snatch her from the jaws of death, and scoot out the door! Sort of. Cause she ain't leaving without her sword. And who can blame her, really? So the ladies grab a random ninja that's lying around, in the hopes that they can get him to talk later.
This is the part with Starling and the eyeball!

Speaking of Starling, it appears that she has Amanda Waller on speed dial. I'm really interested in seeing where that part of the story takes us! Does it have something to do with the Suicide Squad, or is Starling just a spy for Waller? She does seem to genuinely care for her teammates, but I can't imagine that this is going to end well.

Batgirl's story from the beginning of the volume comes into play when she introduces the newest member of the team, Strix. Her actual name is Mary, and she was a Japanese WWII survivor recruited by the Owls when she was ten. Cryogenically frozen or whatever they did to their Talon assassins, she's about the same age as the other Birds on the team now. She's mute, but whether it's because she can't talk or won't talk isn't totally clear to me. At any rate, she's a wild card.

Condor also shows up, and eventually ends up on the team. Sorry, but his character doesn't interest me in the slightest. Is it sexist of me not to want a guy on the team? Probably.
But that's honestly not why I didn't like him being added to the roster. He just struck me as sort of a goober. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think he adds anything cool to the title.

Katana takes off for parts unknown at the end, in order to deal with some unfinished business.
Ninja business?
I'm really hoping that they haven't decided to boot her off, because I was just starting to warm up to that wacky chick.

Volume 3 is a step up from the last volume. Last time around, I wasn't really sure this title was going anywhere. It wasn't bad, but I wasn't crazy-impressed either.
This story? Much better. Where it goes from here...we'll have to see.
I can see the potential for it to crash and burn, especially with the seemingly endless rounds of rotating cast members. Then again, that may be what keeps the title fresh. Who knows?



Monday, April 21, 2014

Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop (4/22 - 5/3) INT





Fairy tale re-telling of your choice (Up to $15)
Book Depository must ship to your country.







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[Coffee Shop Talks] Book Conventions



Book conventions -
Have you been to any before or heading to any this year? 


The only convention I've been to is Comic-Con in San Diego and that was several years ago. We didn't really have it on our schedule to meet any authors at the time. We waited in line for the actors and comic book artists. Charlaine Harris was there that year and I believe either Kim Harrison or Patricia Briggs made an appearance also. If I had went by myself I probably wouldn't have minded waiting in their ridiculously long lines, but I had someone with me who isn't as author crazy as I am.


I did get to meet Adrian Phoenix. I didn't know it was her I was talking to at the time...not until she signed my book. 



I would love to attend Authors After Dark this year or meet Darynda Jones & Delilah Dawson at the RT convention, but for now I'll just have to enjoy looking at the pics my blogger buddies post =)







      

Early Review: The Dark World (Dark World #1) by Cara Lynn Shultz


Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Twitter | Goodreads | Website

Paige Kelly is used to weird--in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn't fazed by Paige's propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she'll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that's overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.



This was a weird one.
At times, I would really be into it, flipping the pages all excited-like...and then all of a sudden POOF! 
All of my previous interest was just gone.
At first I couldn't really figure it out, but after a while, I noticed my zone-outs seemed to be correlating with the two main characters getting all sappy with each other.
Seperately, they're both very cool. Together, they're the perfect recipe for Boringsauce. I've been trying to put my finger on why I felt that way for days now, but I'm still not 100% sure. Something just felt off.
My best guess is that the romance felt too young and silly for me.
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it's a young adult title. And I'm a crusty old chick.
So that probably means that the target audience will enjoy the angsty teen bits. 'Cause they're, you know, angsty teens.

The premise of the story isn't supah new, but I thought it was cool anyway. The basic idea is that there's a world that mirrors ours, except that it's Eeeevil. Well, sort of. It's been taken over by demons, and the warlocks on this side of the fence want to go back and reclaim their throne. But for now, it's all brimstoney and crumbling. It was never really explained, but I'm just assuming the general idea is that once the warlocks take control of it again, it won't smell like sulfur or be all flamey. Otherwise, I can't imagine why they'd want to go back.

Paige is like that kid who can See Dead People. She pushed a little boy out of the way of an oncoming bus, got smooshed, and died for a few minutes before being revived.
When she woke up, Ta-da!, she had the world's most ostracizing superpower. She can't always tell the difference between the living and the dead, so she ends up looking like a mental patient when she strikes up a conversation with (what everyone else assumes is) a wall.
So. Yeah. Not popular with her peers.

Logan is...
Ok. I can't say much of anything about him without giving away spoilers. But I liked him. He's not an ass, and he had a really good backstory. Unfortunately for you, you don't find out what it is till the end of the book. Sorry.

Even though I wasn't blown away by it, I'm still interested enough to want to read the next book, so I think this will probably do well with the YA audience.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: The Forever Watch by David Ramirez


Release date: April 22, 2014
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Digital ARC / NetGalley
Author links: Facebook | Goodreads

All that is left of humanity is on a thousand-year journey to a new planet aboard one ship, The Noah, which is also carrying a dangerous serial killer...

As a City Planner on the Noah, Hana Dempsey is a gifted psychic, economist, hacker and bureaucrat and is considered "mission critical." She is non-replaceable, important, essential, but after serving her mandatory Breeding Duty,  the impregnation and birthing that all women are obligated to undergo, her life loses purpose as she privately mourns the child she will never be permitted to know.

When Policeman Leonard Barrens enlists her and her hacking skills in the unofficial investigation of his mentor's violent death, Dempsey finds herself increasingly captivated by both the case and Barrens himself. According to Information Security, the missing man has simply "Retired," nothing unusual. Together they follow the trail left by the mutilated remains. Their investigation takes them through lost dataspaces and deep into the uninhabited regions of the ship, where they discover that the answer may not be as simple as a serial killer after all.





The Forever Watch was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the two main characters and their complicated relationship. The mystery was interesting enough. I liked the setting and loved the ending. Everything in between was kind of meh.

The story takes place on the Noah, a vast ship carrying humans to a new location now that Earth is no longer habitable. It's described in a way that doesn't feel like the entire story takes place on an outerspace vessel. Everyone aboard lives in different neighborhoods. They go shopping, attend parties,
 and dine at restaurants. If they plan on taking a stroll they can feel the heat of summer or the chill of winter and they can view the sunset in the distant horizon (a sky simulation created by City Planning). It's a habitat designed to mimic Earth.

Occupants on the Noah receive neural Implants that allow them to access data and communications with just a thought. It also allows them to share memories, have conversations without speaking, and some even have the ability to write commands or ideas into others' minds. There are also various psychic talents, such as psychokinesis.


The protagonist, Hana, finds herself helping a friend investigate a murder mystery that seems to be a part of a larger cover-up. When getting to know her character we learn about a traumatic event in her past and the difficulties she's having after giving birth to a baby she will never see. She also experiences difficult emotions during her new relationship with Leon, which
 was complicated for various reasons. They have different social and financial statuses so her friends look down on him. The murder investigation also adds additional stress because they find themselves in a situation more dangerous and complex than they imagined. 

Technical aspects of the story with the Nth Web and Hana's search for data was a little difficult for me to follow. I skimmed the majority of the conversations that had any mention of Hana's psi-tablet, Analytical Nodes, swarms of programs, coding, data manipulation, etc. I understood that this was vital to the story, I just couldn't get into it. Also, I was a little disappointed that this was the method they used to try and solve the mystery. That meant there was little hands-on effort involved and I personally found that to be a bit boring.

Despite my issues I would still recommend The Forever Watch to any sci-fi fan. It had a great concept and the mystery came with a surprising reveal. Once I reached the last 3/4 of the story I couldn't put it down. Seriously. If anyone expected me to do anything helpful or productive, they were sorely disappointed. I wasn't getting up until every secret was revealed and I learned every characters' fate. I will definitely be watching for more of Ramirez's work in the future.




Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) by Kelley Armstrong




Release date: April 8, 2014
Published by: HarperCollins
Source: Digital ARC/Edelweiss
Author links: Site | Twitter | Facebook


Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn were marked at birth to become the Keeper and the Seeker of Edgewood, beginning with their sixteenth birthday. Trained in fighting and in the secret rites of the spirits, they lead an annual trip into the Forest of the Dead. There, the veil between the living world and the beyond is thinnest, and the girls pay respect to the spirits who have passed.

But this year, their trip goes dreadfully wrong.

With all the heart-stopping romance and action that have made her a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and set in an unforgettably rich and dangerous world, this first epic book in the Age of Legends trilogy will appeal to Kelley Armstrong's legions of fans around the world and win her many new ones.


      




If I had to choose one word to describe this story, it would be intense. From the moment Ashyn first steps foot into the Forest of the Dead the action is non-stop, the obstacles are never-ending and the twists and turns keep coming. Whether they are escaping their captors, battling creatures of legend or simply searching to find one another, there is never a dull moment for sisters Ashyn and Moria.

The story is told from both sister's point of view, alternating between the two at various times. I enjoyed getting to know them individually and seeing the differences in their personalities. I thought Moria was a bit more interesting because she was spirited, brave, and confrontational at times. But both protagonists were enjoyable.

While this story is in the young adult category, it's still very dark with plenty of deaths and violence. I can't even begin to count the number of times that a life was lost or blood was shed. It's a part of what made this story so intense. You never knew who was going to make it out alive. And there were so many different ways that it could happen...the talons or razor sharp teeth of a Shadow Stalker, the claws of a giant bird, the deadly venom of an oversized worm or simply a knife in the back. Danger lurked around every corner.

The only reason I'm not giving this story a 5 star rating is because there were some scenes that felt like fillers and didn't seem to add to the direction or advancement of the story. It was a bit lengthy at 400+ pages when it didn't need to be.

The world Armstrong has created is magical, deadly, and wildly imaginative with vividly described characters and landscapes. It's yet another of her series that I'm adding to the must-follow list.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop (4/17 - 4/24) INT



Your choice of any April release (up to $15) in e-book, hardcover or paperback format.
(Book Depository must ship to your country.)


Here are some of the novels that have released or will be releasing this month:



Thank you for stopping by! Good luck!




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