Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: The Dragons of Chiril by Donita K. Paul

The Dragons of Chiril by Donita K. Paul

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 390
Acquired: 6/4/2011
Book of Your Shelf? No
Why I have it: ARC
Series: Valley of the Dragons (1)

Tipper's father, Verrin Schope, has been missing for a long time. When he returns in a most unexpected manner, followed by a magician and his librarian, things start to get a little strange. Verrin Schope is an artist, and three of his sculptures are much more important than anyone could ever guess. In order to save the world (and himself) the statues must be reunited once again. Tracking down the three statues, which have been sold over the years Verrin was missing, proves to be harder than it was originally thought. The journey to recover the statues is what drives the story forward through a very interesting series of events.

I enjoyed reading Dragons of the Valley, and while this book preceeds the story, knowing part of the outcome did not detract from the story at all. Seeing where my favorite characters came from and how they met was great. I did not enjoy the characters quite as much as I did in Dragons of the Valley. They did not develop and grow in a way that I found satisfying, but this being the first book in the series it may have just been setting them up to do so.

A very typical good vs bad storyline, with a few twists to make it interesting. The bad guys were a little too obviously bad. A few more in depth surprises would have helped the story a bit.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review: The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Acquired: 6/9/2011
Book of Your Shelf? No
Why I have it: Book Battle 2011
Series: The Hollow Kingdom (1)

Two young sisters, Kate and Emily, have recently moved back to be raised at the family estate by their new guardian. They don't realize that their new home is near the goblin lands and soon the goblin king takes a special interest in Kate and Emily. The two girls use all their wits try and escape from the clutched, succeeding time and time again. But a strange twist of events, that the goblins weren't even part of, eventually lures the girls back into the reach of the goblin king.

I really enjoyed both Kate and Emily. There were smart and inventive in their ways to avoid the king. They learn to trust and rely on each other. The king himself, Marak, is quite a character. While he is supposed to be evil and mean...the bad guy.. I couldn't help but like him. The king's subjects are quite the variety and are fascinating to read about as well.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Acquired: 6/8/2011
Book of Your Shelf? No
Why I have it: Book Battle 2011
Series: None

Most of us have read, if not at least heard of, the story of Hamlet. The danish prince's tale has captured the imagination of many, but what of the beautiful Ophelia? Where did she come from and why did she behave the way she did. Lisa Klein takes a look into the life of Ophelia before the start of Hamlet, and follows her through the tragic tale.

Ophelia's story is interesting, and Klein did a fantastic job of molding her story into the framework of Hamlet. But there was just something about her that I had a hard time connecting with for some reason. She seemed a bit one sided, always worrying, complaining, and enjoying the same things no matter what the circumstances were. I can see the places where the author tried to make her grow and develop into something more, but she always came up just a bit short....maybe that was the point?

The plot was were it really lost me. I know there is only so much freedom you have when you are working within another famous story, but there was much of Ophelia's life that was up to the imagination. Most of her story just seemed a bit cliche and overdone. I could almost swear I had read something almost exactly the same and that did turn me off quite a bit.

I don't want to turn anyone off from the book too much though. I don't think there was anything actually wrong with the story, writing style, or characters. And I have to admire the way the author was able to keep all the facts from Hamlet straight and fit it into Ophelia's story just right. It just wasn't a book for me.


Book Review: Touched by Venom by Janine Cross

Touched by Venom by Janine Cross

Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Acquired: 4/17/10
Book of Your Shelf? Yes
Why I have it: bookcloseouts.com sale
Series: Dragon Temple Saga (1)

Set in a strange land where dragon masters rule over vast areas of the kingdom called dragon estates, Zarq is a young girl in a pottery clan. Their small clan draws the eyes of the dragon master and their peaceful lives are turned upside down. Zarq's sister is sold into slavery and her mother is slowly losing her mind. Zarq makes a run for it, dragging her mother with her. Their journey takes them to a variety of areas, including a home for the dead and a convent built for the care of elderly dragons. She blames the dragon masters for her mother's condition and her sister's disappearance and will do anything as she seeks her revenge.

A very odd tale, and one that I came close to putting down several times. The beginning sequences were almost to fantastical, and I had a difficult time falling into the story. The characters, while changing, did not seem to have very many dynamic qualities to them. Their circumstances changed their actions, but their personalities or thoughts.

The land itself was well thought out and interesting. The locations each had their own unique charm without ever being perfect. The plot was easy to follow, once you figured out the ways of the kingdom. I'm going to give the series one more book to see if I can get into them a little bit more before giving up on it.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 928
Acquired: ???
Book of Your Shelf? Yes
Why I have it: Re-read of old bookd
Series: Kushiel's Legacy (1)

Phedre has been marked since birth by a scarlet spot in her eye. At first viewed as a terrible flaw, an more observant and educated man, Delauney, sees it for what it really is. Phedre has been struck by Kushiel's dart, and is bound to feel pleasure and pain as one. He takes her into his household to raise and train. But she is not trained in the typical way. She is taught to use her wits and her wiles to get others to reveal their deepest secrets. But Delauney's game is far more dangerous than any of them imagine. When everything backfired, Phedre finds herself left with no one but her bodyguard, Brother Joscelin, and fighting for not only their lives, but the freedom of the kingdom.

A very political book, full of court intrigue and plans. With an aging king and an unmarried female heir, no one is quite sure what will happen when the king dies. Several try to fight for the throne, but are defeated. But the biggest threat is one unseen to anyone. A threat that is revealed layer by layer as the Phedre's story unfolds.

I loved everything about this book. The characters, the places, the events all seem to come to life. The variety of scenery and people is just amazing. The story is full of so many people and places, but it moves at a pace that allows you to learn each one's part in the story before moving on, yet never seems to slow to a point that events become dull or repetitive. My only complaint, and its importance can be debated, is that the reader is not given a log of detail on their deities at first. The deities play a major part in how and why people act the way they do. A great read for those that enjoy epic series. I have book two up to read soon.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 288
Acquired: May 13, 2011
Book of Your Shelf? No
Why I have it: LibraryThing ERC
Series: The Beauchamp Family (1)
Release date:  June 21, 2011 - HardCover and NOOK

The Beauchamp women, Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid, have been around for ages ... literally. They are very powerful witches, each with their own special talents. Many, many years ago they were banned from using their powers and they have been struggling to live "normal" lives ever since. Soon their home town of North Hampton, Long Island becomes a bit of a cauldron for dark energy. Unexplainable accidents and strange disappearances lean the Beauchamps back to their old ways of magic. What seems to be a bit of innocent magical assistance soon turns into a full scale investigation by the tree into what is starting to foul their normally happy town.

All three witches are fascinating women. Their characters are well written and well rounded. Each has her own unique personality that I came to appreciate very early on in the story. As each struggles with their own part of the strange occurrences around town, we see a glimpse of just how powerful they could be if they really tried.

I really enjoyed this book and it ended with an opening for a sequel that I hope arrives quickly. For those of you familiar with de la Cruz's other series, there is an interesting twist that was worked into the story very nicely.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: Carrie Pilby by Caren Lisner

Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner

Pages: 250
Acquired: May 5, 2011
Book of Your Shelf? No
Why I have it: NetGalley
Series: No

Carrie Pilby has always been a bit different. She is a child prodigy that graduated college before most of us would even start it. Her hobbies include reading the dictionary, debating morals with herself (and others if she can), and sleeping in her New York apartment. Carrie has a hard time relating to the people around her. She just doesn't get them, and they just don't get her. She's unhappy and alone, although good luck trying to get her to admit it.

Carrie is a fantastic character. She readily admits that she just doesn't understand people. She knows it's because of her childhood and intelligence. With the help of her psychologist, she sets up a list of things to do by New Year's that will help her open up to other people and relate to them better.

I was a bit surprised to see this was a Harlequin. There is a bit of romance in the story, but it is definitely on the back burner of the story. At center stage is Carrie and the odd group of people she ends up finding herself involved with. They are all very unique and I could see the good, as well as the bad, in all of them. They were the perfect characters to contrast the various aspects of Carrie's personality.

There were no fast paced action sequences or sudden turns of events, but the story moved along like a gentle stream that was very relaxing with just enough ripples to keep things interesting. Carrie's struggles were written in a way that anyone could find a piece of her to relate to.


Book Review: Darkness & Light by Paul B. Thompson & Tonya R. Carter

Darkness and Light (Dragonlance, Preludes, Vol. 1) (v. 1)
37. Darkness & Light by Paul B. Thompson and Tonya R. Carter
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 376
Acquired: Prior to 1998
Book of Your Shelf? Yes
Why I have it: Park of DragonLance World
Series: DragonLance Preludes (1)

Back to the world of Krynn in the first book of the Preludes Trilogy. The series follows the main characters from the DragonLance Chronicles trilogy in the years before the series starts. Darkness & Light follows Kitiara, the feisty female mercenary, and Sturm Brightblade, the honorable Solamnic knight, as they set off on an adventure to find Sturm's home and family. A home which was ravaged and burned when we was a small child, a family that has scattered to the winds. Along the way they run into an interesting group of gnomes and their flying ship. The flying ship, a gnomish invention that actually works, whisks them off and up even better and further than anyone suspected it could....right up to one of the moons. The moon, called Lunitari, is full of surprises and its own brand of magic. As the group tries to find its way home, they are put to the test physically and mentally.

This story could have been fantastic. It's all there. The crazy storyline and the unique characters should have been a slam dunk of a book. Unfortunately it wasn't. The writing style was a little choppy, with lots of action happening far too quickly and down time that seems strangely out of place. The conflicts between the characters are almost comical at times, but it lacked a serious side that I had become used to in the series.