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.

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.

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

The Glass Magician (Review)

22341276Title: The Glass Magician
Author:  Charlie N. Holmberg
Genre:  Fantasy; Urban Fantasy

Publisher: 47North
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Netgalley ARC
Pages: 224

Date Finished: December 8, 2014
3.5 Starts

Goodreads Description

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

My Review

After my luke-warm review of The Paper Magician, I finally decided to give The Glass Magician a shot.  It was better, but still not fabulous.  It only received a 1/2 star more.  Once again, the concept was really good.  The characters were likeable and the plot was decent, but it was missing that spark that ignited the burn to read it.  Do you guys know what I’m talking about?  Avid readers will know what I’m saying.  There is something that draws you to a really good book.  It sucks you in.  Sometimes you don’t even know exactly what draws you in, but I know this didn’t do it for me.

Much like the first book, the middle was slow.  Holmberg has really strong beginnings.  Then it seems like she loses her way a little in the middle and then pulls it all together in the end.  I’m not sure if I would recommend these books or not.  I know I won’t be reading any more of them.  With that being said, I’m sure there is a group of people this book will appeal to.  It has beautiful magic in it which is really unique, plus there’s a little romance.  Like I said, it just didn’t do it for me.

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley, 47North, and Charlie Holmberg for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

A Short Stay In Hell (Review)

13456414Title: A Short Stay In Hell
Author:  Steven L. Peck
Genre:  Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher:  Strange Violin Editions
Release Date:  March, 2012
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  104

Date Finished: November 20, 2014
1 Star

Goodreads Description

An ordinary family man, geologist, and Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he’ll be reunited with his loved ones after death in an eternal hereafter. Then, he dies. Soren wakes to find himself cast by a God he has never heard of into a Hell whose dimensions he can barely grasp: a vast library he can only escape from by finding the book that contains the story of his life.

In this haunting existential novella, author, philosopher, and ecologist Steven L. Peck explores a subversive vision of eternity, taking the reader on a journey through the afterlife of a world where everything everyone believed in turns out to be wrong.

My Review

I consider myself a fair reader.  I try to always see the good and the bad in books because I want my readers to get a fair analysis.  Now, with that being said, I know there is really no such thing as an unbiased review because we all see things through our own filters.  But, I digress.  I said all of that to say this…I truly did not like this book.  It was actually the most boring book I have read in a really long time, maybe ever.  Thank goodness is was “a short stay” or it would have been a DNF for me.  I could not have endured it any longer.

The initial introduction to the plot was interesting.  It turned all expectations of hell upside down.  In the opening lines a Christian faces a demon demanding that there has been a mistake, the demon reveals that the only true religion is Zoroastrianism and that there are only a few thousand of them in the world, so there has been no mistake.  From there on, the main character, Soren, who happens to be a Mormon, is thrown into a giant library.  When I say giant, I mean there is no end to it.  It goes on infinitely.  He is told that when he finds his own life story written in one of the books, he will be able to leave hell and go on to heaven.  So, the search begins.  That’s it.  It chronicles Soren’s time in hell looking for his story.  The interesting part is that he spends very little time looking for his story.  It is more about his interactions with other people in hell and dealing with the depression of being in hell.

Overall, it was exhausting.  At the 50 page mark I was looking to see how much more was left.  The interesting thing is that it has over a 4 star rating on Goodreads.  This makes me wonder what the heck I missed.  Did it somehow go over my head?  Are these 225 people who reviewed it all philosophers or students of existentialism?  I think I’m too literal or too logical or too something to get this book.  I just haven’t figured it out yet.

Ok, so if you are the deep thinking, philosophical, theological type, you may enjoy this book.  If you read it and you don’t get it either, please let me know.

Once Upon A Time is Now (The Grimm Curse #1) (Review)

9952991Title: Once Upon A Time is Now (The Grimm Curse #1)
Author:  Stephen Carpenter
Genre:  Urban Fantasy & YA
Release Date:  December 10, 2010
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  83

Date Finished: November 16, 2014
3.5 Starts

Goodreads Description

Fifteen year-old Jake Grimm is the last living descendent of the Brothers Grimm, who wrote the famous fairy tales in the 1800’s. But Jake grew up with foster parents in Los Angeles, never knowing his true destiny until he ran away from his unhappy foster home, to the place of his birth–Woodland–a small town nestled deep in a Northwestern forest.

In Woodland, Jake discovers that the famous fairy tales are all real, and they are happening today. And Jake, as the last living Grimm, is the only one who can stop the witches, big bad wolves, and evil stepmothers who are all alive and well, and about to wreak havoc in the small town of Woodland, following the death of Jake’s great-uncle Eustace.

But these fairy tales creatures are not like those in the old stories. Woodland is a modern place, and the creatures Jake battles seem like completely normal, modern people–to everyone but Jake. Only Jake can see them for what they really are, and, together with his friend and apprentice, Madeleine, he must fight to prevent the evil that is all around the unsuspecting teens at Woodland High. 

My Review

When I found out Stephen Carpenter was one of the creators of Grimm (one of my favorite TV shows) I decided to give this book a shot.  It is similar to Grimm, but with a more pronounced YA vibe.  The main character, Jake, is only fifteen and has no idea what he is.  He gets pushed into the deep end of this crazy new world immediately upon arriving in Woodland.  Luckily, Madeleine shows up to help him along.

At only 83 pages, this tale was short and sweet.  It held a good bit of action, but I really would’ve enjoyed a little more build up.  The characters needed some fleshing out as well.

Overall, it was a pretty decent read.  I’d like to read a few more in the series to get a feel for whether they build or remain self-contained fairy tales.

Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6) (Review)

20818790Title: Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6)
Author:  Leigh Bardugo
Genre:  Fantasy & YA
Publisher:  Tor
Release Date:  June, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  32

Date Finished: November 17, 2014
3 Stars

Goodreads Description

In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things.

My Review

This folk tale relates to The Grisha trilogy in that it is set in the same world.  It does not have any of the same characters, so if you’re looking for Alina or Mal, you will be disappointed.

I didn’t like Little Knife as good as Bardugo’s first two folk tales, but it was still pretty good.  It had a wham-o ending.

I think Bardugo should seriously dedicate the majority of her writing to folk/fairy tales.  She has quite a talent for it.