Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Dump

See?  Gwyneth Paltrow lets her books pile up too.
Well I have a few confessions to make . . . exactly ten of them, actually.  That's right, I'm ten books behind in my reviews and it's totally stressing me out.  Lately I feel as if I only have time to read OR write about reading, and I seem to be choosing the former most often.  So, I've created this "Book Dump" for two reasons.  1. So you can see what I've been reading (I'm sure there are at least a few people out there who find my book selections utterly fascinating from a scientific standpoint).  2. To tell you that I'm considering quitting the blog and taking up Goodreads.  By switching to Goodreads I would be able to continue to rate, review, and sort the books I've been reading with far less effort than I'm currently expending.

So, choose among the following:
1. Get a blog review once a month or so.
2. Follow me on Goodreads and see ALL the books I'm reading.
3. I continue the blog, but in a Book Dump format where I basically throw up everything I've been reading in one post every few weeks or so.

In the meantime, here's what you've been missing out on!

The Goblin Wood (Goblin Books, Book 1) by Hilari Bell
The Selection (Selection, Book 1) by Kiera Cass
The Body Finder (The Body Finder, Book 1) by Kimberly Derting
The Pledge (Pledge, Book 1) by Kimberly Derting
Wicked Business (Lizzy and Diesel, Book 2) by Janet Evanovich
Firelight (Firelight, Book 1) by Sophie Jordan
Vanish (Firelight, Book 2) by Sophie Jordan
Heir to Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters, Book 4) by Juliet Marillier
Seer of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters, Book 5) by Juliet Marillier
The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, Book 2) by Richelle Mead

I've written short reviews and rated these books on Goodreads if you'd like to check them out.  Find them here:  www.goodreads.com/hmclayton

Friday, August 3, 2012

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 1)
by Laini Taylor
September 2011
Little, Brown and Company

She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil's lair.  She wasn't innocent now . . . 

I must sadly report that this book has been yet another example of what I like to call the "Graceling Effect."  Allow me to explain to you what exactly this phenomenon involves.  The "Graceling Effect" covers all instances in which I was supposed to absolutely love a book and for some reason I skimmed at least half and clawed my eyes out during the rest.  "You will love it!"  They said.  "It's exactly the kind of book you read!"  They said.  "The cover looks awesome!"  I said.  "The premise is perfect!"  I said.  Alas, the stars were not in alignment.  This has happened to me a number of times over the last few years.  Graceling by Kristin Cashore was the first.  To this day I still have people recommend that book to me (I usually reply with hysterical fits of giggles).  I had so many people tell me to read it, in fact, that I gave the series a second chance and read book two, Fire.  It was worse.  So this is what I want to tell you about this book.

I did not like it.  I don't know why I didn't like it.  Perhaps I have some sort of mental block against a romance with angels.  (Fallen suffered similarly at my hands.)  However!  That doesn't mean you won't like it.  In fact, I strongly encourage you to read this book.  Not only does it have stellar reviews, but the writing itself is fantastic and the witty dialogue had me laughing out loud in a few places.  Why this wasn't enough to save it for me, again I don't know.  I will say that the first few chapters (and the European setting!) had me completely hooked and it wasn't until the great reveal and unravel at the end that I got bored, bored, bored.  Maybe it was the romance that killed it for me.  I'm honestly very upset about not liking this book, which is why I keep trying to figure out what was wrong with it.  Especially since the alternative is that there's something wrong with me!  *gasp!*

With her bright blue hair and sketchbook full of monsters, Karou is a mystery not only to others, but to herself.  Raised by demons, Karou has no idea who or what she is.  Until the day she meets Akiva, a gloriously handsome angel, sent to destroy her family.  Now Karou must put all the pieces of the puzzle that is her life together, and accept that the truth will be stranger than anything she has ever imagined.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Days of Blood & Starlight (TBR November 2012)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce ★

Sisters Red
by Jackson Pearce
June 2010
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The wolf opened its long jaws.  Rows of teeth stretching for her.  A thought locked itself in Scarlett's mind:  I am the only one left to fight.  So now I must kill you.

A few months back I read Sweetly by Jackson Pearce and absolutely loved her twisted retelling of Hansel and Gretel.  I was delighted to learn that Sweetly was in fact book two, or at least a companion novel to an earlier book, Sisters Red.  Happily, they are definitely companion novels in that they one can be read individually, out of order.  But I did learn a lot about the history and methods of the villains that appeared in Sweetly by reading this book, which focuses on a retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

Scarlett and Rosie March hunt Fenris - werewolves that not only killed their grandmother, but also stole Scarlett's eye when she was a young girl.  Using red cloaks, sweet perfume, and their feminine charms, the sisters lure the wolves out before slaying them with hatchets and throwing knives.  Scarlett has always lived for the hunt, and ridding the world of one Fenris after another is her passion.  But even though Rosie excels at hunting, she doesn't enjoy it, and longs for a different life where her feelings for a young woodsman wouldn't mean betraying Scarlett.

This book's premise had me devouring page after page, eager to delve deeper into the darkness that is a Jackson Pearce fairy tale.  I only had one disappointment, and that revolved around the romance.  There was a sister that I thought needed a little love in her life and I wasn't thrilled with the way it was resolved . . .   Nevertheless, this book is an excellent addition to Pearce's fairy tale collection and I can't wait for more!

For more fairy tale awesomeness check out this list of retellings!

Companion Novels
Sisters Red
Fathomless (TBR September 2012)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Council of Mirrors by Michael Buckley ★

The Council of Mirrors (Sisters Grimm, Book 9)
by Michael Buckley
April 2012
Amulet Books

Once upon a time there was a sleepy river town called Ferryport Landing . . . 

So begins the last book in the Sisters Grimm series about a town full of fairy tale characters constantly getting themselves into trouble.  Luckily for the townsfolk, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are on the case, ready to take on their own possessed Grandmother as well as an entire army of magical creatures in order to finally end the Everafter War.  This is a series that would be very difficult to read out of order so be sure to read it from book one!

I have never understood why these books aren't more widely known and read as I think they are absolutely fantastic!  That said, and this being the last book I really wasn't looking forward to ANY kind of ending the author was going to give me.  But then, in a surprise twist of fate, I got my wish and instead of everything being wrapped up prettily in the last chapter, it turned into the book that would not end.  First the book ended.  Then it had an epilogue.  Then it had another epilogue.  Now normally this might be okay, except that it actually opened up way more questions than it resolved!  I wasn't curious about Sabrina's adult life before, but now I am!  And I'll never know.  Unless of course there's a new market for Sisters Grimm fan fiction . . . ?  Just putting that out there . . . You're more than welcome to write me some . . .

The Sisters Grimm
The Fairy-Tale Detectives
The Unusual Suspects
The Problem Child
Once Upon A Crime
Magic and Other Misdemeanors
Tales from the Hood
The Everafter War
The Inside Story
The Council of Mirrors

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Shamer Chronicles by Lene Kaaberbol

The Shamer's Daughter (The Shamer Chronicles, Book 1)
by Lene Kaaberbol
First published in English in 2002
Henry Holt and Company, LLC

Who dares look into her eyes?

If I had stopped reading this series after the first book, I believe I would have given it a star.  Instead, I found myself desperately slogging through book after book waiting for things to pick up and improve.  Sadly, for me they didn't.  Even sadder is the fact that I liked the characters less and less the more I got to know them.  By the end of the series, I was completely disgusted with even my favorite characters from book one. I think what I'm trying to say here is, if you're going to read these books, try to be satisfied with the ending in book one, because it honestly doesn't get much better.

Dina's mother is a Shamer, a person gifted with the ability to reveal the soul's deepest secrets simply by looking into their eyes.  Frequently called upon to look at hard criminals and common thieves alike, Dina knows the stress and sadness of her mother's lonely life.  For who would willingly look into the eyes of someone who knows all your darkest thoughts and actions?  Which is why Dina is so unsure and even a little ashamed of her new power when she learns she has inherited the Shamer's ability.  But when her mother is called to Dunark castle to assist in the investigation of a triple murder, Dina will come to know the true burden of the Shamer's gift.

Dina is a plucky little heroine all throughout the first book and I enjoyed her adventures and encounters.  Young fans of literature that features dragons, magic, and a little political intrigue may enjoy this series.

The Shamer Chronicles
The Shamer's Daughter
The Shamer's Signet
The Serpent Gift
The Shamer's War

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Man With the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green

The Man With the Golden Torc (Secret History, Book 1)
by Simon R. Green 
June 2007
Roc Hardcover

All those things you heard about as a kid?  The boogeyman under the bed?  The creature in the closet?  The ghost in the . . . er . . . garage?  They're for real, people.  Believe me, I know.  I'm Eddie Drood.  And if it weren't for me and my family, all the things that go bump in the night would be mucking the world up, big-time.

You can call him Bond.  Shaman Bond.  Or at least that's what he goes by when he's on the job, working for "the family" as a secret agent who quietly dispatches those too familiar bumps in the night.  And he's good at it too, or at least he thought he was until the family sent an entire army of dark elves, aliens, and witches to kill him.  Now Eddie's running for his life, from the most elite agents in the world, looking for the answer to questions such as "Why does my family want me dead?", "What secrets are the droods hiding from the world?", and "When did Molly the evil witch get so dang hot?!"  Together with a few new friends, Eddie will go deep into the world of the evil creatures he's hunted his entire life in order to expose the dark truth about the family he's always held so dear.

Filled with plenty of fun parody, action, magic, and even a little romance, Eddie's adventures as the world's most top secret agent won't disappoint!  It may not be my new favorite book, but when you're in the mood for a little Bond action with a sci-fi twist then give this series a try!

The Secret Histories
The Man with the Golden Torc
Daemons Are Forever
The Spy Who Haunted Me
From Hell with Love
For Heaven's Eyes Only

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross ★

Kill Me Softly
by Sarah Cross
April 2012

She'd never looked more beautiful, more perfect, than she did when she was dead.

Before I say anything else about this book, there is something about it that you have to know.  I just wouldn't feel right not warning you about the terrible, horrible thing that happens on page 331 of this book.  The thing that makes you curse your very existence and gnash your teeth as you shake your first at the heavens screaming "Why?!  Why has this thing happened to me?!"  That's right, this book . . . ends.  You heard me.  After 331 pages of delicious bad boys, twisted fairy tales, and dark forbidden romance this book ended.  *sob*  It wasn't even a bad ending.  Everything is very nicely wrapped up, HOWEVER, the author must understand that she cannot simply create an amazing world with such seriously messed up characters and not expect us to need more of their stories.  That's right, Sarah Cross is putting the grimm back in fairy tales.

Mirabelle has spent her entire life with her two guardians who have told her nothing about her parents nor her birthplace, Beau Rivage, beyond warning her that she must never go there.  Fed up with the secrecy surrounding her beginnings, Mira runs away from home right before her sixteenth birthday to find her parents' graves.  Upon arriving in Beau Rivage, Mira begins to notice that the town's inhabitant's seem a little off.  Especially since her new friends include a very pale girl who likes apples, a charming boy who wields swords, and an obnoxious playboy with a beastly personality.  Mira feels like she has fallen into a fairy tale but which character is she?  And will she have a happily-ever-after?

Fast paced and utterly enchanting, I highly recommend this fairy tale where good and evil are not always as black and white as they seem.

Check out this list for more modern fairy tales!