Throwback Thursday: Rose by Holly Webb

Rose (Rose, #1)

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

A young orphan is chosen to become a maid in the house of an alchemist, Mr. Fountain, but as she learns her duties around the house, she becomes aware of the magic that permeates it.  Magic that the other staff can’t see or feel.  Not long after she starts work, news comes that children are disappearing off the street, and Rose soon finds herself looking for a missing orphan friend.

I received this book from the publisher in anticipation of the sequel’s release and blog tour.  (Look for my review here with a giveaway of Rose and the Lost Princess on May 18!)

Originally published in the UK, there are numerous facets of this book built towards a UK audience; however, since the story is set in a magic-filled Victorian England, there is no required fore-knowledge.  Especially since the author takes plenty of time to set up the orphanage and the world building around Rose.  The rest of the world beyond Rose is absent except for the occasional passing mention.  For example, since Rose lived at an orphanage too poor to afford magic, there is no mention of magic at all before she learns of her new master’s position, but Rose brushing this information to the side with very little concern until she discovers she might have a magical side.

The pacing for this book flowed so well, I didn’t realize I was halfway through the book the first night I picked it up.  The villain was incredibly creepy and reminded me of the Elizabeth Bathory legend, but that plot point seemed to come from almost nowhere as there was very little build up.  The climax of the story made sense though and left the reader with a sense of wanting more from these characters and this world.  I look forward to finishing Rose and the Lost Princess.

This title is especially suited for young readers who enjoyed the movie Annie or the Harry Potter series and for those who enjoy reading something light now and then.

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Throwback Thursday: The Charmed Sphere by Catherine Asaro

The Charmed Sphere (Lost Continent, #1)

Paperback, 473 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Luna Books

I’ve been wanting to re-read this series for some time now, and I was finally able to make the time to read the first book.  Actually, I purchased the ebook/audio package from Amazon since it was around $5 for both, and I started listening to the book on Audible before moving to the ebook and finishing it with the physical book.

Here’s an abbreviated history of how I came to initially love this series.  I judged the book by its beautiful cover, looked for it at every used bookstore until I found it a year later (limited money as an early teen), read it, loved it, discovered there were more with similarly amazing art, purchased and devoured them as they came out (with money from my part-time job), and last year, I contacted the author to acquire signed bookplates!

So, I discovered two things during my re-read.  1) I still love the characters, world, and magic system that Asaro built.  2) There was definitely a pacing issue throughout.  This was the largest of the 5 book series, and I believe the other 4 books were edited to be more concise.  But, that was the only issue I had really.  The magic system is based on shapes and hues of colors, which lent itself to the reader paying more attention to descriptions.  I think the magic was the best part of this first book, which does feel like an introduction to the magic system and the main country of focus.

I do hope that I can find time to continue re-reading this series  because I enjoy visiting this world.  And if the author ever has a chance to write more stories in this wonderful world or with these characters, me (and my money) will be there waiting.

Summary:

Once Chime had been the most promising mage in the land, feted and celebrated for her potential and future role in the kingdom. Then Iris, her young competitor, made a stunning leap in skill and turned Chime’s world upside down.

Now no longer the most powerful, no longer promised to a prince– and still unable to harness her magic properly– Chime was set adrift. As was the new king’s cousin– and former heir– Lord Muller. Yet when the neighboring kingdom threatened war, Muller and Chime were tasked with uncovering the plot. Both were flawed, yet unwilling to accept a lesser destiny than they had once known. Could this quest be the opportunity for redemption– or would it lead them to their deaths?

Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire, creates her first full-length fantasy novel in a world rich with magic and power. Originally a glimpse of the kingdom of Aronsdale in “Moonglow” from the Charmed Destinies collection.

Throwback Thursday: Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold

I’m more of a fantasy reader usually, which means that I absolutely LOVED Lindskold’s Firekeeper series! However, when I learned that her newest series also had intelligent animal companions, I decided to give it a try. Turns out, Lindskold is just...

I’m more of a fantasy reader usually, which means that I absolutely LOVED Lindskold’s Firekeeper series! However, when I learned that her newest series also had intelligent animal companions, I decided to give it a try.  Turns out, Lindskold is just as talented at science fiction writing as fantasy.  I was immediately pulled in by the characters and think that Lindskold kept good pacing with exposition, world building, and action.  Here’s what you need to know!

Pros:
Strong female lead character
Intelligent animal companions
Interesting, intriguing backstory and world building
Excellent pacing
Relationships have time to develop realistically
It’s the first in a series

Cons:
Choice of plot device (no spoilers here)
Strange “mechanical” blurbs at the end of chapters

Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons 🙂 Mostly the “mechanical” blurbs were lost on me when I read them, but they did make sense the further I read into the story.  I am definitely excited for the next book!

I had my brother-in-law pick up a copy of this title when the author had a signing in Albuquerque, NM.  At about the same time, I was in communication with the author regarding bookplates, which she graciously agreed to sign.  And shortly thereafter, I won the final prize in her contest, and I received an uncorrected proof of the sequel, signed of course!

January Reads-New Releases I’m Excited to Read

January flew by so fast, I didn’t have time to read and review all the new releases during the month.  So, I decided to share the January releases I’m most excited to read when I can fit them in.  Kind of a Waiting on Wednesday but in reverse.

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

I’m probably the most excited to read Truthwitch because so many of my favorite authors have endorsed it (i.e. Sarah Maas and Maria V. Snyder), plus all the rave reviews floating around.  Hopefully, I’ll have it read before I meet the author at BookCon 2016 in May 🙂

Summary:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)

Eon and Eona were favorite reads while I was in high school, so when I saw an advanced copy of Alison’s first in a new series at work, I picked it up.  The story sounds promising, and I look forward to reading more from Alison.

Summary:

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Night Study (Soulfinders, #2)

Maria is one of my all time favorite authors, and I re-read the original Poison Study trilogy last year in anticipation of the new books with Yelena and Valek.  I’m still not sure when exactly I’ll have a chance to read these, but I’ll almost certainly have a blog entry about the series!

Summary:

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

The Night Parade

The description for The Night Parade reminds me of Spirited Away, which I loved!  I don’t know that I’ll be able to read this one this year, but it’s already part of my collection, so I’ll read it eventually.

Summary:

The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare.

But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked… and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth – or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.

The Time Garden by Daria Song

The adult coloring book fad is in full-swing, so I thought I might take a look at the touted offerings being marketed for adults.  (I’ve always just made children’s coloring books my own while wishing they were more complex.)  The Time Garden actually has a through story to explain the drawings inside; however, it is so small and flimsy that I found myself wanting more of the story to give it depth or, alternatively, for there to be no words at all.  In either case, the illustrations are the main focus, and they are gorgeously detailed.  You can tell the author/illustrator put a lot of time and effort into these pictures while leaving plenty of space for the reader/artist to create something unique.

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The book itself is printed on a heavier stock of paper, not quite card stock as there’s plenty of bend to the pages.  I haven’t tried out markers to check into bleeding issues, but colored pencils, ink pens, and gel pens worked great.  (Crayons would probably also work if you had the finer tips due to all the little areas in these drawings.)  If you want a flat surface to work on, you have three options. 1. Photocopy/trace the page before coloring.  2.  Tear out the page.  3. Risk breaking the spine.  The spine is not very thick so breakage or bending should not ruin its appearance; however, I found myself annoyed when trying to hold back the pages. There are also plenty of illustrations that have been duplicated, where one side has lots of detail and the other has mostly outlines (see image 1 above).  I liked having the option to create my own version of something the author/illustrator provided. Overall, this is a fantastic coloring book designed for adults who want to relax, be creative, or just have fun!

ABOUT THE TIME GARDEN

A dazzlingly beautiful coloring book for all ages, The Time Garden will sweep you away into a whimsical cuckoo clock–inspired world, created in intricate pen and ink by the internationally best-selling Korean artist Daria Song. Then, explore the magical world outside the clock through the eyes of a fairy in the sequel, The Time Chamber: A Magical Story and Coloring Book.

Journey through the doors of a mysterious cuckoo clock into its inky inner workings to discover a magical land of clock gears, rooftops, starry skies, and giant flying owls—all ready for you to customize with whatever colors you can dream up.

Cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . When the clock strikes midnight, you’ll wonder, was it all a dream?

The Time Garden features extra-thick craft paper, ideal for non bleed-through coloring, and the jacketed cover with flaps is removable and colorable. Special gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine and a To/From page make it perfect for gifting to adults and kids alike.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DARIA SONG is an author and artist with a master’s degree in fiber arts from the Ewha Womans University Graduate School of Fine Arts. Winner of the Kyung Hyang Arts Contest, Song has exhibited at numerous galleries and museums in Korea, Singapore, Turkey, and Hong Kong. She is a lecturer at the Kaywon School of Arts and her illustrations can be found in Amore Pacific and SK Planet. She spent five years of her childhood in San Francisco before returning to Korea, and the sense of wonder and mystery that comes from living in a far-off place inspired her internationally best-selling adult coloring book, The Time Garden.I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.Don’t forget to check out the newly released sequel, The Time Chamber.

The Time Chamber by Daria Song

New Installment for AceRocStars

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I was going to do another Waiting for Wednesday post, but yesterday I received a new batch of books from the wonderful people at Ace and Roc.  This batch is a little bit different from the first few mailings in two ways.  First, there was a slight variation in which books people received.  Second, several older novels were included, which were each the first in their respective series.  I received 9 books, 4 ARCs and 5 finished copies.

Finished:

A Kiss before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Anno: An angel who has chosen to renounce Heaven to live on Earth, Boston private detective Remy Chandler must put his unique talents to work–the ability to speak and understand any language and to hear others’ thoughts–when his angelic former colleagues enlist his assistance to help find a missing Angel of Death, and he uncovers a conspiracy aimed at destroying the entire human race.

Control Point by Myke Cole

Anno: Tasked to bring order to a chaotic world, Army officer Oscar Britton, a lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, becomes public enemy number one when he manifests a rare and prohibited magical power.

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Anno: The first book in a new trilogy describes what happens in Midnight, Texas, a dried-up, one traffic light town, when a mysterious new resident, Manfred Bernardo, moves in.

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Anno: Raised by the Brothers of the Sixth Order, Vaelin Al Sorna, a Warrior of the Faith, must battle the Empire and even his own father in the first book of a new, epic fantasy trilogy.

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Anno: Depending on her veteran brother’s benefits in a city where jobs outside the drug trade are rare, Flynne assists her brother’s latest beta-test tech assignment only to uncover an elaborate murder scheme.

ARCs/Galleys:

The Last Dream Keeper by Amber Benson

Anno: Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness, and if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost.

Thunderbird by Jack McDevitt

Anno: When an ancient stargate is discovered near Devil’s Lake in North Dakota, the ensuing race to claim and explore the stargate triggers heated debates about humanity’s role in the galaxy.

Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel Jose Older

Anno: The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie’s botánica, where she worked. But the closer they’ve gotten, the more she’s seeing the world from Carlos’s point of view. In fact, she’s starting to see ghosts.

Admiral by Sean Danker

Anno: He is the last to wake. The label on his sleeper pad identifies him as an admiral of the Evagardian Empire–a surprise as much to him as to the three recent recruits now under his command. He wears no uniform, and he is ignorant of military protocol, but the ship’s records confirm he is their superior officer. Whether he is an Evagardian admiral or a spy will be of little consequence if the crew members all end up dead. They are marooned on a strange world, their ship’s systems are failing one by one–and they are not alone.

I can’t wait to dig into this new material since most of these authors are new to me.  BUT, I love researching new books and authors, so bring it on!

All annotations taken from Baker & Taylor.

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey (Agent of Hel #1)

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1)

Finally finished this one! I was trying to read it before ARCHON (beg. of Oct.), where I had a chance to meet the author, but only made it five chapters in before the event. When the Kushiel series first came out, I was not a fan as the subject matter didn’t sit well with me in high school; however, I find myself wondering if now might be a good time to try again since I really enjoyed Dark Currents! Once I had time to just sit and read, this went really quick. I’m not sure I can say that this urban fantasy does anything particularly different or wonderful that other authors haven’t already done, but I did enjoy the story. And the characters were a lot of fun 🙂 I look forward to reading the rest of the series, and maybe it will get better as it ages. Here’s what you need to know!

Pros:
Loved the pop culture references and didn’t hate their in-text explanations (i.e. Last Unicorn, Twilight)
World building made sense and was well thought-out
Easy to read writing style
Inclusion of various mythologies (Norse, Christian, Russian, etc.)
Strong character building for female characters
Only minor romantic tidbits

Cons:
Almost all the men mentioned were “hot” or attractive
Most of the women were as well
Mystery element was a bit weak

Overall, this is a fun, fluffy read (although the subject of rape does come up), and I found myself enjoying the story. I think my favorite bits would have to include the lamia/horror starlet, the portrayal of ghouls, and the pop culture references. Maybe not a series for everyone, but definitely give it a try.

Ad: Additional reading (There’s something better out there.)

Give it Time (It’ll grow on you.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload—not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres, and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.

To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly.

But when a young man from a nearby college drowns—and signs point to eldritch involvement—the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime—and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her demonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.  (From Amazon.com)

Links to the rest of the series (no reviews at this time)

Book 2: Autumn Bones

Book 3: Poison Fruit

Waiting for Wednesday

I’ve seen many other blogs posting about books they are excited for on Wednesdays, so I thought I’d add two more titles that I’m really excited for.

The first comes out in November, but I’ve already pre-ordered a UK paperback copy through Book Depository (I try to keep series in the same format and I own *signed* paperbacks of Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress).

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)

Book 4 in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: Winter!!  One of the most anticipated books of the year, and I’m one of those anticipating, or course 🙂

About the book: Princess Winter is admired for her grace, kindness and beauty, despite the scars on her face. She’s said to be even more breath-taking than her stepmother, Queen Levana…When Winter develops feelings for the handsome palace guard, Jacin, she fears the evil Queen will crush their romance before it has a chance to begin. But there are stirrings against the Queen across the land. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even find the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long. Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter claim their happily ever afters by defeating Levana once and for all?

For something a little more recent with ties to my TBR pile, I’m excited for the sequel to The Diabolical Miss Hyde, which is called The Devious Dr. Jekyll by Viola Carr.

While I have yet to read the first one, this series has me really excited to see a female protagonist with a demure, lady-like side and a sexy, aggressive side.  I’m looking forward to awesomeness and hope that I am rewarded.

About The Diabolical Miss Hyde:

In an electrified Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with newfangled technological gadgets. She will need every advantage available to catch a terrifying new psychopath splattering London with blood. Hidden in the grimy shadows, the fiendish murderer preys on beautiful women, drugging them before slicing off their limbs. Finding the “Slicer” can make Eliza’s career, or unmask her darkest secret. Like her father, she has a hidden second self that emerges when she drinks his forbidden magical elixir. Just a few sips, and a seductive and impulsive Lizzie Hyde is unleashed.

The members of the Royal Society do not trust Eliza, and they send their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a dangerous sorceress. The careful doctor knows that one wrong step can make her prey to the clever Lafayette, a man who harbors an evil curse of his own. No matter how much she craves the elixir, she must resist.

But as the Slicer case draws her into London’s luminous magical underworld, Eliza will need the potion’s power to help her–even if it might attract the attentions of Lafayette.

Even if it means setting the wild Lizzie free. . .

What are you looking forward to reading in the coming months?

New and Improved Redd’s Reads!

Tumblr is not currently fulfilling my expanding desire for book review sharing, so I’ve decided to upgrade to WordPress for a different feel.  I’ll keep my Tumblr up to share some reviews there as well, but hope this is a better platform.

Here are the rating systems I have been using in place of stars:

Standard-

R★: Highly recommended. (Must-read right now!)

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Ad: Additional reading (There’s something better out there.)

M: Marginal (Not recommended.)

Redd’s Rating-

Crazy Amazing (There’s nothing better.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

Give it Time (It’ll grow on you.)

Mind Candy (Just a fun read/Not much depth.)

Library Read (Don’t buy it yourself.)

Maybe you should pass (Yep.)