The Palace Job (Review)

18685436Title: The Palace Job
Author: Patrick Weekes
Genre:  Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: 47North
Release Date: October 2013
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Netgalley ARC
Pages: 438

Date Finished: June 7, 2015
3.5 Starts

Goodreads Description

Loch is seeking revenge.

It would help if she wasn’t in jail.

The plan: to steal a priceless elven manuscript that once belonged to her family, but now is in the hands of the most powerful man in the Republic. To do so Loch—former soldier, former prisoner, current fugitive—must assemble a crack team of magical misfits that includes a cynical illusionist, a shape-shifting unicorn, a repentant death priestess, a talking magical warhammer, and a lad with seemingly no skills to help her break into the floating fortress of Heaven’s Spire and the vault that holds her family’s treasure—all while eluding the unrelenting pursuit of Justicar Pyvic, whose only mission is to see the law upheld.

What could possibly go wrong?

My Review

The Palace Job is an action-packed romp through a high-fantasy heist.  Like all good heists, the main character, having been wronged and seeking revenge, must assemble a team of highly skilled folks to help get the job done.  Of course, this team includes some strange folks with some strange skills.  Ever wondered what you could accomplish with a horny shifter-unicorn and a death priestess?  Read this book to find out.

A lot of the reviews I read compared this to The Lies of Loche Lamora (LLL) and deemed it lacking.  If you’ve read my review of LLL, you’ll know I was not that impressed with it.  I personally found A Palace Job much more likeable.  The humor kept it light-hearted, the characters were more diverse, and the plot moved along at a brisker pace.  It did have a bit of a slow start, but it picked up at about 20%.  It also avoided the dark, grittier tropes that turned me off of LLL.

I’ll admit the characters could have been a little more fleshed out and the plot could have been deeper, but then it would have been a different book with a different feel.  I personally like it just the way it is.

Wrap-Up

If you like high-fantasy with a little humor and burglary thrown in, you’ll like this book.  The world-building was well paced and not daunting in the slightest.  Weekes actually uses puppets in the book to keep you up to date on the political happenings.  I thought it was a genius way to keep you informed without bogging down the swiftness of the plot.  It’s very similar to the way we get our news in the real world.  (Get it? Puppets?)

It was a fun read and I hope you’ll give it a shot.  3 1/2 stars that I would round-up to 4.

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley, Amazon Publishing, and Patrick Weekes for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Review)

22009560Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Format: E-book
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Pages: 400

Date Finished: March 13, 2015
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

My Review

Another really good book in the series.  I’m ready for book 4!!!  Seriously, Stiefvater loves some cliff-hangers.

Cliffhanger! Hanging from a cliff!

She really is building quite a story here.  It has tons of depth which is typically missing from YA books.

As you know, in my reviews of the last two books, I drew some parallels to Arthurian Legend.  I’m struggling with this one.  I know there is something there, I’m just not seeing it.  I’m thinking maybe Blue’s mom, Maura, is a Lady of the Lake figure, but Persephone may fit that role as well.  Also, I’m pretty sure The Gray Man and Greenmantle have Arthurian parallels.  I’ll have to see what happens in the next book.  Hopefully, they will become more evident.  I’ll keep you updated.

Wrap-Up

Please read these books.  They are really well written and engaging.

The Dream Thieves (Review)

18039177Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Format: E-book
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Pages: 453

Date Finished: February 21, 2015
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….

My Review

I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first, but it was pretty darn close.  This story just continues to go deeper and get richer as Maggie Stiefvater takes us along.  I’d have to say this is pretty much Ronan’s book.  It really delves into his story and the dream magic he can wield, but there were several other things going on as well.

  • There is the introduction of a new character, The Gray Man.  I’m not sure what I think about him.  He seems to be a pretty descent fellow to be a hit man, but the jury is still out.
  • Adam and Gansey are having some major bromance issues.  I like the authenticity of the relationships in these books.  These guys have issues with themselves and with each other.  It is not all “love you forever” like so many YA novels.  There is conflict and they stress each other out.
  • Gansey and Blue are trying to get their crap together.  They can’t decide what the heck they are doing.
  • Adam is struggling to figure out what the ley lines are doing to him.
  • Noah is just trying to stay visible.

So, as you can see, the author has seriously jammed a lot of stuff into 453 pages.

Smoking Merlin animated GIFIn my review of The Raven Boys I drew some parallels to Arthurian Legend.  The comparisons continue here.  Ronan is a pretty freaking awesome stand in for Merlin!  So, if Ronan is a wizard, then Kavinsky is a wizard as well.  I won’t give away any details here because I hate spoilers, but let’s just say there is an awesome wizards’ duel at the end of this book!  I haven’t figured out Noah’s parallel yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Wrap-Up

If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second.  Stiefvater doesn’t lose any steam.

The Raven Boys (Review)

15995747Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Format: E-book
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Pages: 468

Date Finished: January 31, 2015
4.5 Stars

Goodreads Description

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

My Review

I was surprised by how much I liked this book.  I was introduced to the series through everyone blogging about Blue Lily, Lily Blue last year, so I figured I’d give it a try.  I typically have a love/hate relationship with YA, but especially YA Fantasy.  The angst and the conspiracy theories kill me.  They tend to use the same stale tropes, and don’t get me started on YA dystopian!  Ugh!  Sorry, back to the review…

The initial premise of The Raven Boys is that Blue, the heroine, has been told her whole life that she will cause her true love to die when she kisses him.  So, I anticipated a lot of romancy, angsty crap, but I was surprised that the “love story” really took a back seat in the plot line.  The majority of the book was your introduction to Blue, her rambunctious family and the Raven Boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah.  The other major storyline is about Glendower, a lost Welsh king, who is supposedly in a deep sleep and if you wake him, he will grant you a wish.  He is also supposedly buried somewhere along the Ley Lines in North America.  This is the quest of Gansey and the Raven Boys, and it soon becomes the quest of Blue and her family as well.

Now, I will not go into a lot of depth about my theory of how Gansey mirrors King Arthur, Adam passes as Lancelot, Blue is a solid stand-in for Guinevere, and Glendower is the perfect Grail.  I will, however, state that I wrote my college thesis on Arthurian legend in literature, so it tends to jump out at me on various occasions.  This is a straight-up quest story if I’ve ever read one.  I highly recommend delving into some Arthurian legend and making the comparisons for yourself.  The parallels are not direct, but they are definitely there.  It is moments like these, that I wish I was an English major again.

Lastly, Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is stunning.  She truly has a mystical way with words.  I love the imagery her writing conjures.

Wrap-Up

Read it!!  It is one of the best YA books I’ve read.  4 1/2 stars!!

Neverwhere (Review)

6479879Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: March 17, 2009
Format: E-book
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Pages: 400

Date Finished: January 7, 2015
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: neverwhere.

My Review

This is my second foray into Neil Gaiman’s work.  The first one I read was The Ocean at the End of the Lane and let’s just say I was disturbed by his writing.  How a person can make a pink tent so freakin’ creepy is beyond me!  But, I digress.  Gaiman has a way of making things funny, creepy, disturbing, weird, and enjoyable all at the same time.  Don’t ask me how, because I honestly can’t explain it.  I always come away from his books feeling they were really good, but all I can focus on are the parts that made me uncomfortable or creeped me out.  The interesting thing is that Richard Mayhew, the main character in Neverwhere, is pretty much in the same boat as me, amazed, confused and horrified.

There is one thing that cannot be disputed, Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer.  His style is simple and beautiful, yet it evokes such strong emotion in the reader.  It’s as if he reaches into your soul and digs about to see what he can bring to the surface…joy, hate, fear, anguish, etc.  The best description I can give of a Neil Gaiman book is this…

It is like reading a dream.

Wrap-Up

I probably didn’t do a very good job selling you on this book, but I can’t seem to express how I felt about it.  Fans of Giaman’s work will back me up on this, I think.  You cannot put his work in a box.  I do recommend the book!  It was fast-paced and extremely interesting.  The plot reminds me of  a fairytale, but it’s more believable (sort of).  If you like fantasy, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with it.  If you’re not a fantasy fan, you may struggle with surrendering to Neal Gaiman and the worlds he creates.  I hope you’ll give it a shot.

Circle of Desire (Review)

18891507Title: Circle of Desire
Author: Keri Arthur
Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Mystery

Publisher: Dell
Release Date: April 1, 2014 (Originally published 2003)
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Netgalley ARC
Pages: 352

Date Finished: December 27, 2014
2 Stars

Goodreads Description

Two children have been found dead, their souls torn from their bodies. Two more are missing, and Ethan Morgan’s niece is one of them. A dedicated cop, Ethan has every intention not only of bringing her back alive but of catching the monster behind these kidnappings. And he will use anyone and everyone to achieve those aims—even a crazy woman who claims to be a witch. But time is ticking. The victims rarely stay alive for more than seven days. Four of those days have already passed.

In ten years of working for the Damask Circle, shapeshifter Katherine Tanner has never come across anything that goes after kids the way this monster does. The last thing Kat needs is interference from a cop who has no idea what he’s up against. But the greatest threat to Kat may come not from the forces of darkness, but from the man she is beginning to love. Because Ethan is a werewolf . . . and the full moon is rising.

My Review

Ok, I’m going to just jump right in…this book didn’t do it for me.  There was too much everything.  Too much angst, too much sex, too much macho man crap, too much horny ridiculousness, JUST TOO MUCH!  This book embodies most of what I don’t like about paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

The book blurb made it sound like there was going to be a good bit of mystery to the story.  SAVE THE KIDS!  FIND THE KILLER!  No.  There was no real substance to the plot.  The majority of it was about Ethan being in his monthly moon flux, Katherine trying to resist her own urges, and the two of them trying to reign in their love for each other.  I was just really disappointed.  This is the third book in this series and it was, by far, the worst.  At least the first two were fun reads.  I really had to slog through this one.

The book is listed as part of the Damask Circle series.  Other than each book having a character that is a member of the Damask Circle, there is no connection.  I want to know more about the Damask Circle!!  I want to know more about the secret society that steps in when there are other-worldly rumblings.  That would have been interesting.

Wrap-Up

I think Keri Arthur missed an opportunity to make this a really interesting series.  I could only muster 2 stars for this one.  If you only require sex in order to like a book, this may be the book for you.

Shifting Dreams (Review)

17332690Title: Shifting Dreams (Cambio Springs #1)
Author:  Elizabeth Hunter
Genre:  Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Mystery
Publisher:  Self Published
Release Date:  March 5, 2013
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  260

Date Finished: December 4 , 2014
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

Some days, Jena Crowe just can’t get a break. Work at her diner never ends, her two boys are bundles of energy, and she’s pretty sure her oldest is about to shift into something furry or feathery. Added to that, changes seem to be coming to the tiny town of Cambio Springs—big changes that not everyone in the isolated town of shapeshifters is thrilled about.

Caleb Gilbert was looking for change, and the quiet desert town seemed just the ticket for a more peaceful life. He never counted on violence finding him, nor could he have predicted just how crazy his new life would become.

When murder rocks their small community, Caleb and Jena will have to work together. And when the new Chief of Police isn’t put off by any of her usual defenses, Jena may be faced with the most frightening change of all: lowering the defenses around her carefully guarded heart.

My Review

Ok, I am not a romance-y kind of girl.  I like action.  I like suspense.  I like gloom and doom with a lot of grit added for good measure!  My best friend tells me I don’t like books unless there is the threat of world annihilation.  I have to admit there is a grain of truth to that statement, however…

Elizabeth Hunter’s urban fantasy is deliciously clever.  She has written books that completely satisfy my need for action and suspense, yet somehow slip in romance that doesn’t make my eyes roll.  I started with Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries series.  I’m not sure what made me pick it up other than the fact that vampires were included, but I’m so glad I did.  It was a fresh, unique take on vampires and I totally got sucked into the Elemental world.  I still wait with bated breath for every new release.  With all of this in mind, I decided to try the first of the Cambio series.  I was again surprised about how much I liked it.

Jena is a shifter with attitude.  She has a tough exterior, but it’s a defense mechanism to protect herself and her family from unnecessary hurt.  Her relationship with her grandmother is one of the things that really drew me to her.  Jena’s rooted, solid personality made me connect.  Caleb, the hottie of the story, comes across as a hot-shot police officer who thinks a lot of himself, but ends up showing a good bit of depth.

The plot was good, the pace was perfect, and the characters were relatable.  It’s everything I love in a good book.  Throw in some shifters and it’s the making of a love affair.

Wrap-Up

I know a lot of people shy away from self-published writers because of bad plots, bad characters, bad writing, bad editing, etc., etc.  I’ve heard it all, but I really urge you to give Elizabeth Hunter’s body of work a chance.  Where most people rehash the same mythology, Hunter has brought something new and fresh to the urban fantasy genre.  I have not read a bad book by her yet.

Other Work

  • Elemental Mysteries:  A Hidden Fire, This Same Earth, The Force of Wind, A Fall of Water, All the Stars Look Down
  • Elemental World:  Building from Ashes, Waterlocked, Blood and Sand, The Bronze Blade
  • Elemental Legacy:  Shadows and Gold
  • Irin Chronicles:  The Scribe, The Singer, The Secret
  • Cambio Springs:  Long Ride Home, Shifting Dreams, Five Mornings, Desert Bound