Dying for a Living

by Kory M. Shrum

4/5
I don’t even know how I fell into this book. All the sudden I was completely into it. And I don’t even like Zombies!!

01DfaL

This is one of the most original stories I’ve read in quite a while. These are not your average zombies. We are talking about Necronitic Regenerative Disorder (NRD): Necronites!

I’m totally into the adaptation of myth, fantasy and fiction to real life and the existing social structures. That is definitely one of my favorite book genres, and Dying for a Living is precisely that.

This a 7-book series about an NRD-positive girl named Jesse Sullivan, who’s only trying to make a living and staying out of trouble, until someone tries to kill her. As in dead-dead! How rude!

Jesse is a Death Replacement Agent. Basically, her job is to die for other people, like a twisted kind of bodyguard.  it sounds like an awful job and she doesn’t quite enjoy it, but what else can you do when people aren’t very nice to her for something she can’t control.

I think this is as much a book about supernatural powers and characters, as is a comment on institutionalized discrimination. And I always enjoy my fantasy more with a pinch of reality thrown in. What can I say?

JS02It has supernatural creatures, distrusted government agents, crazy friends, a murder mystery, religious fanatics, a bit of family drama and a twisted love tangent. what is not to like?

It really left me hooked, and definitely on the lookout for the other 6 books, starting with Dying by the Hour.

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The Twenty-sided Sorceress (8)

Dungeon Crawl

By Annie Bellet

4/5For a whole minute there, after finishing Magic to the Bone, I feared that the story would end there and leave the loose ends to my imagination.

Then I remembered there was a book #8.

And while Samir is defeated, he’s not actually dead yet. He’s still wreaking havoc inside Jade’s mind, and something is bound to go wrong with carrying such a formidable foe on your neck.

Then, there’s also that whole owing-an-unknown-favor-to-a-vampire thing. Can he really be trusted? He helped her, true, but it wasn’t free.

Thankfully, Dungeon Crawl addresses all these little loose ends, although not all of them.

We get to see Jade’s recovery after the big confrontation with Samir, and how she hasn’t quite recovered. She’s still having nightmares and paranoid feelings, that you can see reflected in how she designed her house when rebuilding after the fire: Extra exits everywhere.

Of course, is it really paranoia when people ARE after you? She is living with what can be considered former law enforcement. There’s bound to be people trying to kill Alek after god-knows how many years of being a JUSTICE.

Thus, a sniper shooting him in the head.

Does he die? You will have to read the book. But do you honestly think I wouldn’t be raving and tearing things apart if my favorite character in this whole series would’ve died so nonsensically!?

I’m always up for getting more Alek. Extra chapters from his perspective are my absolute favorite. But I DO feel like I’m missing something. There’s this whole thing happening in New Orleans, that I don’t have my detail from and jeeps getting referenced. I need the deeds! Especially if they will answer all questions about the Council of Nine.

All in all, I really really liked this book. It was GREAT! Even with the zombies and other strange undead creatures.

And I’m not even bothered by the fact that this is NOT the end of the story yet. There are, at least, two more books coming out soon. I’m actually excited about it.

Definitely looking forward to reading more about Jade Crow and her band of friends.

Curious Books (4)

Packing for Mars.

The Curious Science of Life in the Void.4/5

Finally! Exactly what I was looking for by reading all these Curious Books: one as interesting and hilarious as Stiff.

p4mars

This book is GREAT. It had me laughing out loud often enough to get me quite a few side-looks. I might have even seemed a bit crazy every now and then. In hindsight, the hospital waiting room might not have been the best place to be reading such a funny book.

It still doesn’t outdo Stiff (that one is still my favorite), but I’ll be talking about poop in space, cube food and the perfect all-women space crew for days.

As always, one of the things that I enjoy the most about Mary Roach‘s books is all the fun and interesting things that I get to learn from them. And not only because she explains them in a hilarious way, but because it all rouses my curiosity.

I couldn’t possibly be satisfied by the summary explanations we got from the Columbia disaster, so I had to look it up. And that took me to the Challenger explosion. And now you can imagine me asking everyone I know if they remember watching or learning the news about either one.

Of course, this books also brought to mind another of my all-time favorites, the Martian. It made me think of all the things that will be necessary if we ever want to realize this collective pipe dream we have of stepping on Mars, of colonizing it.

How many people have already died or suffered injury in our efforts to leave this planet, how many more will die and suffer in our pursuit of the Mars dream? Like the books points out at the end, is it really worth it?

If you’re into space travel stories, this just may make everything more hilariously absurd. Just in case you hadn’t thought about the nitty-gritty details!

Magic to the Bone

by Annie Bellet

4/5
Bombs, hostages, mercenaries, and magic! How can that not be GREAT!?

I really liked that ending.  I think it was totally appropriate until I realized there’s another book yet to come. What’s up with that?

I wish the had been more Alek, as always. Too much Harper, again. And there wasn’t even a big explosion, even when there were lots of explosives.

And, of course, I could’ve used more magic…

Spoiler Alert

… Isn’t she supposed to be a mythical creature made of pure magic? Or something like it? I was expecting her to wipe the floor with Samir, but I guess that would’ve been too much after their first fight ended up lopsided.

There was a lot of opened questions, though. Like, what happened to the shifters and what0’s gonna happen to the town after they were totally abandoned like that. And the Fae, what’s up with them? Will they try another way to break the seal?

Is that why there’s another book?

And now, Jade Crow is the savior of the whole town of supernaturals!!

Jade Crow for president!!

No. Make it…

Queen Jade Crow!!

The downside of binge reading, though, is that I almost capped my monthly book-budget. It means I’ll have to wait a week before I can get the last book in this series. In the meantime, there’s a couple of books waiting.

It’s just a matter of picking one.

The Twenty-Sided Sorceress (5)

Hunting Season

by Annie Bellet

4/5
Two on one, how is that fair?!

Ok, this was book number four of The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series and it was action packed! Full of new and exciting magical and mythological creatures. There were even unicorns!

This story has way more exciting magical battles and creatures, and two of Samir‘s apprentices to contend with. There’s a druid, and a leprechaun, and even time-manipulating. It’s simply GREAT!

Jade is starting to show real leadership talent and the friendship and loyalty are heartwarming. And I really like this kind of love story: the one where not everything is perfect, but there’s trust and communication and they both can admit that they are faulty and work on it. It makes me think that this an actual real couple that can work through their problems in a mature way. I hope they can make it through all the evil coming their way.

I really liked this one. It is full of action and a lot of magic, and things seem to be gearing up for the great final battle. The big bad, Samir (aka evil exboyfriend), is down two apprentices, so we’re definitely expecting him to show up at any minute.

And that ending! Talk about exciting.

And of course, that’s why I hadn’t even stopped to consider what that ending meant, hen I was already getting started on book #5: Heartache.

Like Jade and Harper would say:

Boss Fight!

Pack of Lies

by Annie Bellet

4/5

Ohh! Things are starting to get really interesting!

I really liked this one. So much that I basically read it not stop until I had through, I even had a very unproductive day… totally distracted.

Alek is back after leaving and not calling for a while, and things look like improving between him and Jade. If it weren’t for the murders getting in the way, we would have a great romance novel!

I’m joking, of course. the murder mystery is one of my favorite parts.

What could possibly make it better, you ask… magic! There is new magic, and even a magical assassin coming into the picture. And that on top of a massive pack of wolves that might be killing each other.

It is all full of excitement. Definitely a GREAT book.

Why couldn’t my life be full of sex instead of violence?

I really enjoy the light and funny way Annie Bellet writes. The humor and funny references to popular culture. There was even a Matrix reference! How nerdy! I loved it.

Why can’t my life be more like a porno than a horror movie?

And if all of this is not enough to draw you in… We finally got a taste of that big bad guy that had only just been mentioned until now!

I’ll just have to read Hunting Season, d maybe finally get to know Samir, the evil ex-boyfriend.

 

Justice Calling & A Murder of Crows

by Annie Bellet

4/5

First, I started by reading Justice Calling in a matter of hours. I really liked it. It remained me a lot of Grave Witch.

There is magic, mystery, a handsome law-enforcer and a witch (of sorts). What’s there not to like?!

There are missing people and a race to find an unknown witch doing horrible stuff. It sounds just like an Alex Craft book, doesn’t it? Of course, I liked it!

It all starts with nerds and shape-shifters. And then, there’s a handsome moody man with a scary prediction. It is a fast-paced book with enough explanation so we all get to know this world Annie Bellet has created for us, without being repetitive. (Except for the “Jury, judge and Executioner” thing). And of course, it leaves you wanting more. And that’s why I binge-read the first two books in a day.

The second book, A Murder of Crows, has more magic, more shape-shifters, and more crime-mystery. While during the first book, our main character, Jade Crow barely starts to show her true powers, for the second book, we can see her experimenting with them and trying to gain more an more power in order to finally come face to face with nemesis that, so far, we only know by name.

The ending of the second book is way more exciting and unexpected than the first, and a bit sad. After the last chapter, my book has a teaser for the next book in this series, that just swallows you up and there’s no way for you not to be looking forward to the next book in this series.

I had to slap myself in the hand and make myself go back to Bonk, that while I am enjoying it, it is absolutely nothing like these books. I’m torn.

The Savage Dawn

by Melissa Grey

4/5
I can certainly say that I am now a fan of Melissa Gre’s writing. I loved the references and the dialogs and even the characters, but I cannot say that I absolutely loved this book.

The individual parts were awesome. Bird people with feathers for hair? Loved it! Dragon people with scales on their faces? Loved it! The lonely human stuck in the middle of an ancient war only to have ended up uniting them all to fight a common stronger enemy? Absolutely amazing! But still… somehow, I feel there was something missing. Something that is not there and keeps me from loving it all as a whole.

 

First, let me tell you about all the things I adored. OK, it is mostly to things that I adored in this book, and why it is my favorite in the whole series… Jasper and Dorian.

That was just simply one of the cutest couples I’ve ever read about. I was hanging from every page waiting to know what was to be of them. From the whole “I cannot be happy without my prince” thing at the beginning, through the whole “you cannot have him” bit, and all the way to the new Dragon Prince and his Avicen consort. That was simply the wildest love story! Absolutely one of my all-time favorites. I would totally read this whole trilogy over and over, just to experience them, time and time again.

And maybe that’s one of the reasons I was left a tad unsatisfied. For a moment there I was biting my nails out of my fingers thinking that my favorite couple will be split apart irrevocably and how totally depressing that would be.. and then, no! They both survived the war and can live happily ever after. Except… that they come from two very different societies that have been at war with each other for centuries and they are both needed at their respective homes for the reparation and rebuilding… but we wouldn’t know anything about it, because the book ends without letting us hear from them. At all.

I understand that the main story there was about the Firebird and all this magic that she supposedly had (that she ended up not knowing how to use and not needing to save the world), and her ill-fated romance with this prince whose throne was stolen, whose sister went homicidal, who has been tortured and still jumps into battle with her…

But I needed more Jasper & Dorian!

And even a little bit more Ivy or Rowan… or even some more of The Ala. I feel like a lot was going on behind scenes that we missed and would’ve been awesome to read about.

On the other hand… I think Echo and Cauis’s ending was great. That huge sacrifice and pain, and that tiny and slim ray of hope barely out of reach. Genious! I really like that.

What did you think?

Who id you prefer, Caius and Echo or Jasper and Dorian?

Catching Fire

4/5
by Suzanne Collins

 

I was actually not expecting to like this book as much as I did.

Catching_fireHonestly! I really liked it. it is filled with action and a lot of not knowing what is happening. I loved the fact that it was all told from the perspective of Katniss, so every time she’s confused or surprised or shocked, you are as well.

Not to dismiss the all-knowing narrator, but I do enjoy being surprised.

I have to say that for me, this book was a lot about betrayal. But I kind of liked that. It felt right to feel like that when everything feels like a battle for survival. And it IS a battle for survival! At least for Katniss

SPOILER ALERT

… She feels like she’s betraying her life-long friend, by faking a relationship with Peeta, but at the same time, Gale having feelings for her and trying to push their agenda with her when all she wants is to find the light at the other light of this tunnel she voluntarily got into, that feels like a betrayal to her.

And, on top of all that, comes the expected but not any less shocking betrayal of the government. She tried really hard to please the President. She did what she was asked, and was willing to do more… but it didn’t make any difference. The government still breaks all possible trust, as small and tentative as this could’ve been, by sending her back to fight for her life to that place she barely survived the first time.

And, just in case you thought that wasn’t enough to break all her trust in people in general, her friends betray her. By lying, by plotting against her, by using her as a pawn in their own game… as if she hadn’t had enough of that. It doesn’t matter if they think it is a noble cause or if they call it a Revolution or whatever.

It is all a betrayal, for Katniss. She is being forced into a role and into actions that don’t come of her own volition. You know how we call in the real life when someone is forced against their will to do something they don’t’ want to do? ABUSE! She’s being abused! By her friends! I feel for her.

I would’ve gouged Haymitch‘s eyes out without remorse.

But that’s just me.

… I think the only person in the whole book who doesn’t demand anything from Katniss is Peeta. I think he sees what she’s going through, and most of all, he understands her. He can empathize and he just loves her, anyway she lets him, being with her in any capacity she needs. That is true love.

That is true love.

Shades of Magic (2)

4/5A Conjuring of Light.

I really really liked this book. This whole series, actually. Even when it took me waaaaaay to long to actually finish it. I blame it all on this the most inefficient year I had when it comes to my reading. Only to my reading, though, because work has been crazy busy.

But, even when there were quite a few of forced pauses in between my chapters, this book was amazingly grabbing. I loved getting to know Holland, who until now seemed only as a secondary character, especially that last chapter from his point of view. His whole story, though, it was all heartbreaking and enlightening as to why he does as he does and is as he is.

And I loved, even more, getting to know Rhy and the complexities of his relationship with Alucard.

And Alucard, and his messed up family!

And the Queen and her inability to express herself to Kell

And that is all before we even get to the Shadow King and the growing relationship between Kell and Lila., it was honestly a great book. I will totally recommend this series to anyone who may listen.

So, why only a 4/5? You might be asking… Well. It was the ending.

No. I’m not trying to say that the conclusion/solution to their problem was anything but great, but I do think that the last chapter… The emotional wrap-up… Felt a bit brushed over. Too fast, too superficial.

After everything the brothers now share, there was no conversation, no reunion, no normal goodbye. And with Lila! When did they agree to leave to follow HER dream of being a pirate? Wasn’t she toying with the idea of settling down? And what happened to Kell’s promise to be by his brother’s side when he became king?! And to Holland’s world? And what I’d the letter to King George say?

Again, too rushed. I wasn’t satisfied.

But really that was my only qualm. Besides that, the book was real. The whole series was awesome.

The Shadow Hour

4/5
Ok. Another story that turns out has another sequel.

I’ve read many stories with multiple point of view and there are some pretty awkward and confusing stories out there, but I can honestly say that The Shadow Hour isn’t one of those.

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

You get a bit of the drama, with the love triangle of Rowan, Echo and Caius; you also get a bit of the sweet stuff, with Dorian and Jasper and how their relationship blossoms in spite of the war going on; but you also get a bit of comic relief here and there and Ivy with her compassionate view of a world and the people that have done her many wrongs.

It’s  great story, but i’m not sure I liked where it ended. An absolutely not sure abut what to expect on the next one. While I enjoyed this one with its mysteries and budding romances, it felt a bit anti-climatic by the end.

And, honestly! there was too little heard from the Ala. She is one of my favorite characters!

But well… I guess there is no other option but to wait for the next installment and go from there.

NSFW 

4/5

Specimen by Shay Savage

Definitely not appropriate for reading in public, specially if you’re like me and it requires effort and concentration to keep what goes through your head to show on your face.

Specimen by Shay Savage
Specimen by Shay Savage

I did enjoy it, though. Besides the hot and detailed sex descriptions, there is also a good story being told. There are super soldiers, and brain-machine interfaces, mad scientist experimenting with human beings, and all a bunch of stuff that can be considered immoral, but it is not because it happens in a post-disaster world.

It kind of made me think about all the things we would be willing to do to eachother as humans when survival is the immediate goal. I imagine we wouldn’t be so “civilized” then…

I also like the ending of this story. It took a moment to let it settle, but I honestly think it couldn’t have gone any other way. And it wasn’t even that surprising with the pace and direction of the book. It did feel a little sad, though.

But I won’t spoil it for you. Let me just say that it took me back to when I read 1984 by George Orwell. That’s all I’m saying.

Current goal: Cake.

4/5
Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

As you know, I’m a fan of Shay Savage‘s books. To me, they are like a good scoop of sorbet. Delicious, refreshing and excellent to cleanse my mind from all stories and free it for new stories.

It is not uncommon for me to get stuck on a story. Sometimes, even when I didn’t really enjoy the, that much, little pieces of moments get replayed over and over in my head. Sometimes, I even dream about them for days in a row… And even when that doesn’t happen, I feel like little left over residues of old stories and plots get smeared in my mind everytime I read a new book.

Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage
Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

But there are these ones… these stories… that take everything else out of my mind as I go trough them. Like washing the blackboard before using it again. Win Some, Lose Some felt like that.

Of course, that is NOT to say that I didn’t enjoy it for itself. This is the only book I have ever read with a main character with autism. I think that makes it special.

Matthew Rohan is a very smart young man, to whom very sad things have happened, but all that on top of his social deficits, are not really what defines all that he is… And I think that’s the main thing we all most always remember. Our differences, be these what they’d be, are not what defines us as people… Our actions do.

But this is not the only reason I liked this book, it is also lovely. The budding relationship between Matthew and Mayra, the bond between siblings that Matthew enjoys with his sister even when they both have their own issues, and even the glimpses we get of all other relationships between many characters… I thought it was all simply lovely.

This was a heartwarming reading, even win the sad and dramatic bits.

But, hey! There’s a reason why I like Shay Savage‘s books so much.

Pleasantly surprised

4/5

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

I’m not sure what I expected when I started this book, but this was a great story.

There was magic and tattoos, yes… But there was also political maneuvering, gypsies, murdering whores and tragic love stories. There were powerful enemies and allies, and there was a good dose of fighting and gore.

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler
Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

It honestly has everything it needed to be an amazing mindblowingly fantastic book, but it isn’t. I’m not sure I can tell you what’s missing, but I know there’s something lacking.

I think it might have something to do with the details. The strange thing is that there’s so much going on, and so many different points of view… And still I felt like I missed more than one thing and that the important things were being left unsaid.

SPOILER ALERT

For example… We met the commanding officer in charge of pursuing the young Duchess, Rina Veraiin, and while I always appreciate the point of view of the enemy… We never know what he thought of his supposedly hapless quarry after the slaughter at the temple. That would have been an awesome insight.

And then, there was the mysterious third Mage to arri pave from the enemy’s land. We get a small glimpse, meant to build him up as the ultimate opponent. Powerful, knowledgeable and greedy. And then, it took one chapter to see him in action and get rid of him all together. That was a bit anticlimactic.

Like they say… It is all in the little things. There are little things that make this story awesome, like the magic tattoos that can be collected, the loyal friends/subjects that follow and support our main character, the different perspectives from the same conflict that help you see the bigger picture… But it was also the little things that keep this story form being all it could have been.

All this is not to say that I won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy. As most books nowadays, this one is part of a series… A Fire Beneath the Skin. It might take me sometime to get the other two books, but I definitely want to know how this story will end. Maybe our cool Duchess will end up with a full-body tattoo!!

Odd one out

4/5

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

This might not have been my favorite among the three books that make the whole series, His Fair Assassin, but it was undoubtedly very good and a fair ending.

Ismae‘s story has much political intrigue, and a sense of  self-discovery and finding your our strength.  She’s manages to find herself and her faith, outside of the boundaries of the into tutor hat has fostered her for years. Unlike that, Sybella‘s story was more about family intrigue and the capacity of depravity mankind can reach, about finding peace and love when you have suffered much. She finds her own capacity for love, honest and devoted faith, and even manages to learn to thrust others.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

This story though, Anneth‘s, felt completely different.

We got a completely different love story, deeper and more complex. And more family drama instead of intrigue… But here was also less action.

This story felt slower.

With Dark Triumph, I couldn’t stop. I simply couldn’t get it out of my head that something dramatic and game changing could happened at any moment, but Mortal Heart had more waiting periods when nothing happened. We even got some implied and not-so-implied time jumps!

I think I’m more a fan of stories that happen quickly with a somewhat fast pace. The times of introspection where Anneth‘s debates what she’s feeling and what could thing possibly mean, drove me a bit crazy… But it all helps to separate clearly and definitely the three girls and their distinct personalities and backgrounds.

One of he things that I definitely loved about this third and last part of the series is the presence of Death as main character. We had had glimpses of him before, when he shows himself to Ismae and the to Sybella. These ARE his daughters after all. His presence has been implied and hinted at. He was a real entity in the background for most of the first two books, but now we got to really know him and understand him. He is more than just a silent shadow, he is almost a man. That was one of my favorite parts in the whole series.

How can I not be totally intrigued and besotted with stories that give flesh, mind and heart to mysterious and incomprehensible ideas as Death itself? Right?