Review on Saga Vols 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan

I finally jumped on the Saga bandwagon after nearly all my friends have read it. I love graphic novels and especially ones with lots of weird stuff. This has sci-fi action, aliens, space opera, along with relationship drama, family arguments, grandma and grandpa showing up in the middle in the two main characters running for their lives with their newborn daughter. There is even an author who writes subversive bodice rippers! Ha! A recipe for success if I ever saw one.

My problem is, I really, REALLY liked the first two volumes and then the next two were just kinda MEH to me. I am not a fan of relationship drama and we get a LOT of that in volume four.

We also have the bad-ass, but one-dimensional ex-fiance (Gwendolyn). There’s not much to her except wanting revenge. A bit of a yawn factor there for me.

One of my favorite characters is the Lying Cat. Lying Cat senses when people are lying and it’s hilarious and often comes up in inopportune times. But, Lying Cat also gives the story heart when he offers comfort to Slave Girl (aka Sophie) at one point. The Will is a mercenary tracker who is his best friend. I like The Will.

The sci-fi aspects are off the charts cool. It’s the angst and drama that feels a bit like filler to me. The story of star-crossed lovers who fell in love even though their peoples have warred and despise each other is one we have all seen at one point or another. I just feel like I need a bit more MEAT by this point. I want more action and less, “Is Marko going to cheat on Alana?”

The robot people are kinda weird and funny too. They have TV heads and the king has a huge flat-screen as a head, which for some reason, I found hilarious.

I’m not giving up though. So far, I think if I averaged my rating for the first four volumes, it’d be sitting at about 3.75 stars?

My reviews for the volumes are below.

Saga Vol. 1 at Goodreads. ★★★★★

Saga Vol. 2 at Goodreads. ★★★★

Saga Vol 3 at Goodreads. ★★★

Saga Vol. 4 at Goodreads. ★★★

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Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

The only person I can think of at the moment who reminds me of Sal is Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, even though that isn’t accurate. But, it kind of fits in my mind, so I’m going with it.

I was Sallot Leon—one of the last children of Nacea, orphan and street fighter, highway thief and Twenty-Three.

This book isn’t released until September, so I don’t want to go too much into the plot. The premise is that Sal ends up participating in an elite “audition,” to become one of the Queen’s Left Hands.

Each “Hand” is a gemstone… there’s Amethyst, Emerald, Ruby, and Opal. The last Opal died, so they need a new one. The competition? It’s to the death.

I found this book to be fantastic! I read the entire thing in 24 hours and could barely put it down. I thought the pacing was good, and the action was tempered well with character and world-building and a little bit of romance. It’s pretty much everything I look for in a book.

I have seen a few reviews on Goodreads that accuse this of being a Hunger Games rip off and I would respectfully disagree. The only thing the two books have in common is that there is a “competition to the death.” No one is forced to compete, there is no tyrannical government or districts.

This book is more about swords and assassins. It’s fantasy-lite, meaning it’s more action-adventure rather than about magic or fantastical creatures or beings.

I have also seen a few reviews on Goodreads say they had a difficult time getting into the characters because they were all referred to by numbers and had masks on and I would also respectfully disagree on that point. The majority of the numbered competitors were more like window dressing and not really vital to the story, and the few “numbers” that were main plot points were definitely identifiable and memorable.  Two, Four, Five… you don’t forget them by the end of the book!

Since this is my review space, I have one more point to bring up. I like the way the author handled the “gender fluidity” theme. This was not a story about prejudice or bigotry and no one really even made a big deal of how Sal dressed. When he dressed as a male, he was called “he.” When she dressed like a female, she was called “she,” and Sal said this is how “they” wanted to be addressed. But it was in the background and not a main focus of the book, which I liked, because usually it becomes this huge issue. Sal just was who Sal was.

I guess that is all I’ll say for now since I’m reviewing an ARC. I highly recommend this for readers who like young adult fantasy action-adventure. I’ll probably pick up my own copy of this for my personal library since I would definitely read again, and I can’t wait to read the next one! Fantastic debut novel!

Thank you so much Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!

Review also found at Goodreads.

Tyrant’s Throne (Greatcoats #4) by Sebastien de Castell

What to say about this final installment in the Greatcoats quartet except that it was a very satisfying conclusion. We have our hero Falcio:

His buddy, Brasti, arguably the best archer (and wannabe pirate) in the world:

(I know he’s not holding a bow, but that gif reminded me of him.)

And Kest, the former Saint of Swords:

(He’s the serious one, but that gif reminds me of how Kest might physically look.)

I really love – ADORE – the friendship and loyalty of these three. The humor that was missing from the last book (that one had a much more serious and dramatic tone) is definitely back.

We all know (those of us who have read the previous books) that the kingdom of Tristia is still in trouble and on the verge of chaos. Aline has not been named Queen yet, but Falcio is doing his best to remedy that.

There is a new and surprising villain and the return of another villain that we expected because that loose end had not been wrapped up.

Something happened which I won’t say because obviously spoilers, but I was almost ready to throw my Kindle at the wall.

Those who have read this probably know what I am talking about, and I’m still not quite sure things had to go that way, but I have come to expect surprises from Sebastian de Castell. He takes the reader through the emotional ringer at times.

The amount of adventure, action, humor, and feels was an almost perfect blend. This might have been slightly over-long in my view, but all in all, it truly was a satisfying conclusion that felt authentic. I even cried a couple times!

I highly recommend this series if you like books that remind you of The Three Mustakeers and The Princess Bride. This is one I will definitely return to in the years to come.

I still don’t quite understand why people were always giving Falcio such a hard time, though. He really was smart and made good decisions. He did babble and his inner dialogues went on too long, but he was fiercely heroic and a good leader. I guess it was just part of the deprecating humor and if people listened to him and respected him, there would be no story, right?

I really liked the new young girl character, Chalmers. Brasti will forever be my favorite Greatcoat. The female characters were stronger here than in the previous book. I guess I will view Saint’s Blood as being the book that serves as the “dark night of the soul” for the series.

I guess that is all. Well done! Fantastic series and conclusion!

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!

My review of Traitor’s Blade.
My review of Knight’s Shadow.
My review of Saint’s Blood.

The Red Lily (Vampire Blood 2) by Juliette Cross

This is a blog I wrote about book two in the Vampire Blood series by Juliette Cross featuring Nikolai and Sienna, who we met in book one. It will be released on
July 19, 2017 and was fantastic. Check it out below! 🙂

The Red Lily is book two in the Vampire Blood series by Juliette Cross. The kingdoms are ruled by the dark and powerful Varis vampire family. One of the royals is pulling the strings and powering the soldiers with a blood madness, called sanguine furorem, giving them extra strength and an indiscriminate urge to murder […]

via The Red Lily (Vampire Blood 2) by Juliette Cross — Dust off Your MacHalo

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

NOW AVAILABLE! Release day was yesterday! I highly recommend!

No spoilers. This is due for release February 14, 2017 and I received a digital copy from Netgalley and publisher to read and review. Thank you!

What the hay, I’m giving this all the stars! First of all, it has one of my favorite premises:

– Rich, elite group with special abilities (like healing, pyrokinesis, and telekinesis, etc.) that controls and suppresses the masses until some of them rise up and fight against the tyranny.

I LOVE this type of story! It’s an evil X-Men enslaves humanity thing.

They are called Equals, ironically, although they are only equal among themselves (and even then, not really, because this society thrives on politics and intrigue). I won’t go into the plot because spoilers, but just a little background and setup can’t hurt.

This is an alternate reality world. Great Britain still exists, which is where the story takes place. There is still a United States, but it is split into two. One that has abolished slavery and one that hasn’t. Slavery in this world has nothing to do with skin tone, but whether you are born with Skill.

All “commoners” must give ten years of their lives working in slavetowns. They can wait until they are 80 or 18. The story mainly focuses on two sisters, a brother, and their parents after they enter their slavedays and go to “serve” a powerful Equal family.

The story is told through several POVs. I found the pacing to be great and I was quite wrapped up in the story. It does end on a cliffhanger. But I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I found the Equal characters to be more interesting than Abi or Luke, to be honest. All of the Equals except a few are just horrible. I hated them, but I was intrigued. There are some really good villains you just want to throttle.

I have a feeling this will be a popular book. I hope people enjoy it as much as I did. It has a bit of romance, but not much. The plot drama was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat without wanting to bash my head against a wall.

It is the author’s debut and I think she did a great job. I am definitely wanting more from this world!

The Black Lily by Juliette Cross

Bam! 5 stars! I’ve been waiting for you, wonderful book! So often, I am disappointed by vampire romances. This one was perfect. Everything I love. I’m going to cast my favorite book boyfriend actor as Marius, the vampire prince.

For Arabelle, something like this:

She is no damsel in distress. She dresses in “man pants” in a time when women only wore dresses and gowns. She is the leader of a resistance against the vampire monarchy.

She sets out to kill Marius and of course ends up falling in love with him.

I thought this book was written well. The romance happened fast and there was insta-lust, but it was very believable, and besides, I don’t like romances that drag out forever. It’s a hate-to-love romance.

I loved the encounters these two had. I thought they had fantastic chemistry and the plot was quite substantial for a romance. I really hope there are more!!! I would like to see more of Nikolai. And Sienna. She was awesome. I loved the hart wolves and want to find out more about the magic of Silvane Forest.

The female is not a virgin and even though Marius is almost one hundred years old, it wasn’t quite as extreme as some paranormal romances are. She was experienced in her own way and independent.

I DEVOURED this in one day. It is one of my favorite vampire romances now. I want to go and binge everything this author has written now, even though I think this is her only vampire book. She did it all SO WELL. (I think she has a dragon series and a demon one?) More vampires please!

I have nothing but good things to say about this. I don’t think it is released yet, but I highly recommend. So so good.

I love my vampires and there are a lot of crappy vampire books out there. THIS is a great one, in my view. I would view it more as fantasy, since it takes place in a time of castles, swords, and balls, etc. PNR is generally more often set in “modern” time.

“Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff

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My new favorite book. Kristoff owned this. He’s the rock star of edgy YA fantasy. I haven’t been this excited about a series since Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. I’m serious.

I loved the dark tone of this book. It made me want to put on my Cure CDs and smoke clove cigarettes and ponder the mysteries of life. Yes, I’m fangirling. Give me a moment. This has actually given me book depression because it ended and now, what will I read? I actually want to go and pre-order the hardcover edition! What is happening to me? I suppose now I’ll even have to try Illuminae again!! (I DNF’d that one because I don’t do well with journal/interview/email story-telling. But I must have been on something because if he wrote THIS and co-wrote THAT, it must be awesome too. It just must.
This isn’t released until August 9, 2016, but if you love fantasy, you seriously need to get it as soon as you can. It’s worth paying full price for. Don’t even wait for it to go on sale. It’s that good.

I’m not giving anything away except to say it’s got everything: action, adventure, excellent world-building, cool creatures and magic, dark vs. light, dark vs. dark, heroism, friendship, sex (not the fade to black kind either), lots of stabby stabby. It’s truly epic.

Think about all the female assassins you’ve read about in YA and think about how they would be if they weren’t watered down. That’s how Mia is. I don’t even know if this is YA. She just happens to be a teenager. I know it will be marketed as YA, so I’m going with older teens. It’s a lot edgier than most YA I’ve read. It was just awesome, period. I lurved it.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s for providing a digital copy of this to read and review!!! It was a gem.

Review also found at Goodreads.

Initial post:

Gah! Netgalley and St. Martin’s approved me!

“School of assassins?” Yes, sign me up please!

tumblr_noulz1bjx21s3h43ko1_500

Mating in Flight (Dragon Erotica) by Christie Sims

I read this for science, of course. It was… entertaining. A nineteen year old sorceress virgin (of course) calls a dragon with a summoning spell and he answers her call. She wants to be his baby mama and he’s like… you’re a hot young virginal sorceress, let’s do this.

This is not a dragon shifter, we’re talking fully grown, huge-ass scaly dragon. With a three foot long dong. And somehow, he gets it in there. I guess we can call it magic.

I appreciated some of the descriptions in this. Like this gem:

“her flower released honey onto her pollinator’s malehood”

And “he throttled his member into her”. The author describes said member as “gargantuan meat.” Nice. She even calls their sex a “dance of love.”

I did find it a little gross when she went down on the dragon and his thing was so big, she could only get her mouth over the “hole.”

Overall, this was kind of funny, but I’m not sure it was supposed to be? I was entertained and that’s all I’m looking for in stuff like this. It was better than Taken by the T-Rex, I have to say. 😉

Review also found at Goodreads.

“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review also found at: Goodreads

I’ve been thinking for days now how to review this book when almost everyone has. It seems like almost everyone likes/loves it, while a few didn’t (or didn’t like the second half). When I started it, I wasn’t sure, but before I knew it, I was completely wrapped up in the story and characters. By the end, I had cried, my feels broke, and I was blown away by the imagination of the author and the story she had created. So I guess I’ll just ramble on about a few things.

Even though this book had the trope of “ancient powerful male falls for very young inexperienced woman,” it worked. There was romance, but the story did not revolve around it and it was actually a fairly minor part overall. The girl’s life did not revolve around the male character’s loving her and she was fine with or without it. She had her own things going on and was not a love-sick puppy.

There is a sort of mega alpha jerk in this, but it worked for me. We got to understand why the Dragon was the way he was. He was annoying sometimes and a bit too much “prickly” and cantankerous, but I grew to really love him. Even though he wasn’t really a dragon and that was just his wizard name.

The magic in this book is awesome. There’s spells, chants, illusions, and even magic that can literally shape and change reality. There are fantastical creatures – chimeras and forest monsters. The forest is like a dark spirit that can possess people when they go into it and make them do evil things.

Part of the book takes place at the royal castle and there are politics and intrigue. The end has a more other-worldly, mystical vibe. It really feels like a fairytale laced with mythology.

One of the things I came to truly love was the main character, Agnieszka. She was so kind and giving and had joy in her heart and soul. Her loyalty to Kasia was a foundation of the story. I love how strong she was and how content to just roam around the land and be grounded and use her magic to help the villagers in the valley. She had no interest in being a fancy, rich wizard.

I could go on and on with how much I was unexpectedly swept up by this. I think it will become a favorite for me for years to come and I can imagine re-reading it several times. I am not classifying this as Young Adult because it doesn’t seem like it to me. It just has a 17 year old as the main character. But I highly recommend!

Original post:

OMG you guys. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

RTC.

Buddy read with Buddies Books and Baubles starting January 8, 2016.

Okay, I have to see what all the fuss is about with this book. Everyone in the world seems to have read it but me. Some people adored it, others only liked the first half? I’m curious what I will think. I hope I like it!

View all my reviews

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Krampus: The Yule LordKrampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


“Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!”

We’ve all been taught that Santa and Mrs. Claus look a little something like this:

We’ve all been taught wrong. This is Santa:

And his wife:

Santa is really Baldr, an ancient Norse god and son of Odin. He was known for being all peace, love, and light, but was that the real story or was Baldr a great deceiver?

In this story, after Baldr dies in ancient times, he is reborn as Santa Claus. He takes over Yule and changes the holiday. Well, someone is not very happy about THAT.

Meet Krampus. Our villain, I mean hero, or is it anti-hero? Who knows, who cares. He’s awesome.

Krampus has been imprisoned by Santa/Baldr for 500 years and has just gotten his freedom back, only to discover no one celebrates Yule anymore. No candy in shoes? No tributes? And where’s his bag? Oh yeah, SANTA STOLE IT! The battle to bring back Yule is on. You’re toast, Santa!

Here’s Isabel and Jesse.

They are part of Krampus’s Belsnickels. If Krampus bites you, you become a little bit demon. Your skin gets black spots and you grow claws, have heightened senses, live a really long time, the cold doesn’t bother you, you don’t need to eat as much, etc. But you have to obey his commands. So you’re basically a slave, but hey, things could always be worse!

When we meet Jesse, he has lost his wife and daughter and is pretty much a loser. He can’t keep a job, his truck barely works, and everyone hates him. He gets stuck doing jobs for The General, who runs the meth in town. And the police chief named Dillard wants him dead (and is sleeping with his estranged wife). He meets Krampus and ends up turning his life around. This is even a tale about FRIENDSHIP, people!

It’s got a little bit of everything – horror and gore, comedy, mythology, fantasy… I love how the author wove ancient myths and paganism into the story. Flying yule goats instead of flying reindeer…Krampus is Loki’s grandson…Yule was celebrated before Christmas existed and was about celebrating the winter solstice and the rebirth of the sun and was also connected to Odin and The Wild Hunt. It was about drinking, dancing, sex and partying!

It’s really fascinating. The only reason I am not giving this 5 stars is because there was a little bit of issues with pacing at times. But overall, this was loads of fun and a perfect (for me) Christmas story.

The author, Brom, drew the pictures I posted above. He is amazing!!! So talented.

Original review:

Loved it! What a great Christmas, er, I mean, Yuletide book! I’ll post a review tomorrow, but I think I have found a new favorite author and I LOVED how he worked in ancient paganism and Viking/Norse gods and myths. It’s got crazy hill-billy meth gangs, a Santa who looks like Odin, and Loki’s grandson who looks like a demon with horns. Fun fun fun. Good for both horror and fantasy fans. Highly recommended!

Still $1.99 on Amazon Kindle: 17 DEC 2015.

View all my reviews