Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Paranormal Romance Review: Spellcaster (Spellcaster #1) by Claudia Gray

Spellcaster (Spellcaster #1)
by Claudia Gray

When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed. 

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them. 

My Review:
Good story! I enjoyed the intrigue behind what was going on in Captive Sound. Build up was good. The curses were interesting. 

Borrowed the audiobook from the library. Good read for fans of paranormal YA.

About the Author:

Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Paranormal Romance Review: No Mercy (Dark-Hunter #18) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

No Mercy (Dark-Hunter #18)
by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Live fast, fight hard and if you have to die then take as many of your enemies with you as you can. That is the Amazon credo and it was one Samia lived and died by. Now in contemporary New Orleans, the immortal Amazon warrior is about to learn that there’s a worse evil coming to slaughter mankind than she’s ever faced before.

Shapeshifter Dev Peltier has stood guard at the front of Sanctuary for almost two hundred years and in that time, he’s seen it all. Or so he thought. Now their enemies have discovered a new source of power- one that makes a mockery of anything faced to date.

The war is on and Dev and Sam are guarding ground zero. But in order to win, they will have to break the most cardinal of all rules and pray it doesn’t unravel the universe as we know it.

My Review:
Great story, definitely racy, though.

Nick from Chronicles of Nick is in here, but those who liked Chronicles of Nick should remember that is her YA series and so is toned down in the romance. I only read the Chronicles, but that was enough for me to recognize most of the major players in No Mercy. 

Folks who like paranormal romance will likely enjoy No Mercy.

I borrowed this from the little free library at my office.

About the Author:

Photography by Sheri Reno/Nashville.

New York Times and international bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is a regular at the #1 spot. With legions of fans known as Menyons (thousands of whom proudly sport tattoos from her series and who travel from all over the world to attend her appearances), her books are always snatched up as soon as they appear on store shelves. Since 2004, she had placed more than 80 novels on the New York Times list in all formats including manga and graphic novels.

Her current series are: Dark-Hunter, Chronicles of Nick and The League, and her books are available in over 100 countries where eager fans impatiently wait for the next release. Her Chronicles of Nick and Dark-Hunter series are soon to be major motion pictures while Dark-Hunter is also being developed as a television series. Join her and her Menyons online at SherrilynKenyon.com and www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrilynKenyon

Author Webpage: http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/
Chronicles of Nick: http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/book-series/chronicles-of-nick/

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Sci-Fi Review: Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance
by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Authority is the second, and Acceptance is the third.

Area X-a remote and lush terrain-has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers-they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding-but it's the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach-the secret agency that monitors these expeditions-is in disarray. In Authority, John Rodriguez, aka "Control," is the team's newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves-and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he's promised to serve. And the consequences will spread much further than that.

It is winter in Area X in Acceptance. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown-navigating new terrain and new challenges-the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting. The mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound-or terrifying.

My Review:

This is not a book you would want to read if you want to feel good or encounter a happy ending. It is the book for you if you want to be left thinking, to experience the ultra-weirdness of an invader that may destroy the world, but heal it in the process, or to unravel a mystery through the eyes of those who may or may not solve it. 

I very much enjoyed this, perhaps even loved it, but I feel this book is probably easier to take as an audiobook. I might have had trouble getting through it in print, especially at first. Still, fans of hard science fiction, thrillers, and mysteries might find this a fascinating but terrifying read. The build is slow, but the dread it brews by the end is almost palpable.

If you're wondering, the movie Annihilation is based on this trilogy and takes its name from the first of the books. That movie, however, took some liberties to deliver a happy-ish ending, though those glowing eyes as the Biologist and her hubby embrace certainly promise something dire.

About the Author:
Called "the weird Thoreau" by the New Yorker, NYT bestseller Jeff VanderMeer has been a published writer since age 14. His most recent fiction is the critically acclaimed novel BORNE, which has received raves from the NYTBR, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and many more. Paramount Pictures has optioned BORNE for film.

VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy was one of the publishing events of 2014, the trilogy made more than thirty year's best lists, including Entertainment Weekly's top 10. Paramount Pictures has made a movie out of the first volume of the Southern Reach, Annihilation, slated for release in 2018 and starring Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, Natalie Portman, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

His nonfiction appears in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic.com. VanderMeer also wrote the world's first fully illustrated creative-writing guide, Wonderbook. With his wife, Ann VanderMeer, he has edited may iconic anthologies. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with two wonderful cats. His hobbies include hiking, reading, and bird watching.

Author Links:

Website  |  Amazon  |  Goodreads

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Chic Lit Review: The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive (The Truth About Series, Book 1) by Alissa Baxter

The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive: A Romance Writer's Email Adventures
by Alissa Baxter

Wrapped up in the dreamy world of romance fiction and flushed with the heady heat of a tropical Durban summer, Angie Wilson is having a hard time separating fantasy from reality. Struggling to choose between a hopeless crush on her gorgeous trust fund manager and a blossoming cyber affair with an enigmatic writer, Angie turns to her zany new friends for advice on love and life. But what does she really want?

A light-hearted romantic comedy.

This book was previously published by Oshun as Send and Receive.

My Review:
The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive explores the complexities of romance in the modern age in a fun, yet precautionary way.

Angie is a likeable character, a romantic who’s desperately trying to be responsible and chase her dream. I enjoyed how her story played out, adjusting to life in Durban, meeting and entangling with the love interests, despite herself.

One of the things I found interesting was that this was written and set in South Africa. The last book I read set there had a strong political bent to it, but not this one. Instead, it feels more like a regular day-in-the-life story. A taking a chance story. A falling in love story.

Another thing I enjoyed was the email romance Angie sparks up with the mysterious romance writer. One, I was super intrigued and wondering whether they’d get together in real life. Two, I was noticing and disregarding red flags just as swiftly as Angie was. I felt it was built and executed just as well as any “in person” romance I’ve read.

This story is pegged as chic lit. I’m not exactly sure what that entails as I usually do not read chic lit. But perhaps it has to do with dose of realism mixed in with the romance, or maybe it’s the relationship-focused storyline, and not just of the main character. I noticed a couple of other stories emerging and playing out, a method I like in a series like this. It allows the author to build interest in the next without resorting to a cliffhanger.

Anyhow, loved this story and recommend it to folks who enjoy chic lit, romance, and interesting settings.

I received the review copy of this book from NetGalley.

About the Author:

Alissa Baxter wrote her first Regency romance, The Dashing Debutante, during her long university holidays. After travelling the world, she settled down to write her second Regency romance, Lord Fenmore's Wager, which was inspired by her time living on a country estate in England. A Marchioness Below Stairs, her third Regency romance, is the sequel to Lord Fenmore's Wager. Also the author of two chick lit novels, The Truth About Clicking Send and Receive (previously published as Send and Receive) and The Truth About Cats and Bees (previously published as The Blog Affair), Alissa currently lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two sons. Alissa is a member of RWA as well as ROSA (Romance writers Organisation of South Africa).

Website  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Classic Review: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

by Kurt Vonnegut

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world's great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

My Review:
Just a fantastic book, but also convoluted, lyrical, and thought-provoking.

I very much enjoyed this story, and I think I'll be quoting "so it goes" long into the future. It's rather dark, but there's a message of never ending, a comfort, that Billy Pilgrim's journeys through time and the resulting mantra convey. And added to that, I'd never heard of Dresden before listening to this book. Scary stuff, and heartbreaking.

Despite it being fiction, the real experiences the author draws from are historically accurate, and to be honest, I wouldn't have read a non-fiction book on the subject, but add in time travel and aliens and I'm all in, so there's that.

Overall, strongly recommended to folks who enjoy time travel books, with some off color bits and dark humor.

I borrowed the audiobook of this from library.

About the Author:

Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines.

During the Second World War he was held prisoner in Germany and was present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience which provided the setting for his most famous work to date, Slaughterhouse Five (1969).

Visit his Amazon page for a more thorough rundown of his works and his Goodreads page for more about his interesting history. 

Amazon  |  Goodreads  |  Website