Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - The Ocean at The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

It's Tuesday again, and I made it to the library today! So I've got a huge stack of books to read. Happily, I managed to find a lot of the books that I've been wanting to read. And one of them is The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (I love Neil Gaiman's books! Well, his children's books).

My teaser:
" "What... what did you do to them?" I was unsure whether or not I ought to be upset.  
Ginnie Hempstock said, "they're fine. Just a little snipping, then a little sewing and it'll all be good as gold." (Page 97)

What is your teaser this week?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sacrificed: The Last Oracle by Emily Wibberley

Since Emily very kindly sent me a print copy for review, I decided to do a little test. I handed the book to my dad and asked him if he could find anything different about this. He looked at the front, he looked at the back, he flipped through the pages, and finally told me there was nothing different about it. He was so surprised when I told him this was a POD book from Createspace - it looked that professional. And that was my general impression of the book - if I didn't see the Createspace slip of paper, I would have thought it was a normal book.

Sacrified: The Last Oracle, is about Clio, the youngest daughter of the Oracle of Sheehan. Her mother is cold and distant, and her sisters turn that way once they become Vessels. Because of that, she's always hated the Oracle, and believe that it's nothing more than a bag of tricks. Unfortunately, her family is murdered by Mannix, the mysterious advisor to the King, and Clio is forced to be the next Oracle. Everything she thought false, she has to re-examine. But she's fleeing for her life, so while she's still in shock, she joins the slave girls heading to Morek, the city that hates Oracles. And of course, she runs into Riece, a commander of Morek, and also a hater of Oracles. How will she survive?

I really enjoyed this book. Clio was a very sympathetic character, and I was rooting for her from the start. She really struggles, and she grows through the book. At the start, she was whiny and basically rebelling for the sake of wanting to be different, but at the end, she learns to see past herself, even though she still has a long way to go. Well, the ending change was a bit heavy-handed for me(Clio reflecting a lot on it), but this is a debut novel, and I'll close an eye to it.

Plus, the twist at the end of the book - woah, you need to read it. Ok, no spoilers, promise.

Even the 'love triangle' (which was more like one relationship and one one-sided love) wasn't annoying to me. I normally dislike this aspect of the book, but I'm really happy that Clio wasn't torn between the two guys. She liked one of the them, and the other was like a brother to her (I was under a mistaken impression at the start though, which meant that I spent a good bit of the book rooting for a character that had no chance).

Overall, this is a really well-written novel. Clio is a sympathetic protagonist, the plot is solid, and despite that there's a romance, it didn't annoy me.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mysticism & Myths Anthology

After a long, long time, I'm finally participating in another blog tour! I poked my head out because the subject matter sounded really interesting! (Also, I was hoping to see if any Asian ghosts made their way in). Since it's a collection of short stories, I thought I'd quickly review each story in the collection.

First up, Bound by Blood by Margo Bond Collins. It actually features a Filipino monster (a aswang), which made me really really happy. It did veer into a direction which I didn't completely expect, but I found it to be an interesting read, and it raised my expectations for the rest of the collection.

Second, Isa: Gift of the Baloma by Perri Forrest. I have to admit, I skipped this story. The first scene was rather explicit, and not something that I'd normally read. If you like steamy stories though, you should like it.

Third, Mico, Anguta's Reign by Dormaine G. I liked this one! It involved were-wolves, and a murder mystery. Personally, I would have loved it to be more in-depth, but that would make it a full-length novel instead. I sorta-but-not-really saw the twist coming (I'm not sure. I felt surprised yet not surprised), so yes, it's a pretty good story.

Fourth, Cursed: A Yorkshire Ghost Story by Karen Perkins. A pretty spooky ghost story for me with a vengeful ghost - if this was a movie, I'd avoid it because I'm a scaredy cat. The ending is pretty open, and like Mico, it has the potential to be a full length novel that made me stay up all night. The only small niggle I have is that for one character, the "thou" and "thees" seem to be rather mixed up with "you" arbitrarily. Either that, or the author was using it in the Shakespearean sense ("thou" being the more intimate form of expression), but it didn't really seem that way either.

Fifth, Carnem Levare by Jaxx Summers. I liked the descriptions of Venice in this city, but the story dragged a little. I think it was two different POVs (this involves another vengeful ghost - this time, that of a jilted lover), because I was pretty comfortable in one, and switching to another was a bit of a shock.

Last, but not least, The Life Keeper by Abby L. Vandiver. This was a really strong story to end the collection with. It looks at life in a small Romanian town, and the legend of the strigoi, a sort of vampire. I must say, the ending totally threw me, I did not expect it. But, the dynamics of an outsider coming into the family was interesting, and I enjoyed the narrative voice.

Overall, most of the stories are pretty solid. I wouldn't say that you can give this to any kid you know who likes mythologies, but if you know an older teen or adult that likes reading about different monsters, but doesn't have time to go through a whole novel, this collection would be a pretty good fit.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book as part of Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for a free and honest review.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

HEY EVERYONE! I don't normally do this, but I found out that Cindercast: A Tale of Tides (Volume 1) by Michael BlackBourn, which is a book I've been wanting to get, is free for Thursday and Friday (I believe US time? So anyway, go get it! The link I included is to the Amazon US store, but I managed to get it on my Amazon Japan store for free too!


I really, really wanted to like this book. It's got a pretty cover, comparisons to authors I like and an interesting sounding story. But, I didn't. Not really. It's really sad, because everyone else seems to really love it.

The Dress Shop of Dreams is about Cora, the scientist who doesn't open her heart, Walt, the guy who's always loved her with the radio-perfect voice, Etta, Cora's grandmother, Milly, the woman who listens to Walt's voice on the radio and fell in love and Dylan, Walt's boss. Those are a lot of people, and they all have their separate stories. Oh wait, there's also Henry, the policeman.

One problem I have is that all the separate stories never feel like they're tied together. If it weren't for the fact that Cora and Etty are related by blood, and that Henry has been in love with Cora (although he promptly got in a relationship with Milly at the start of the book), there are no links. Cora suddenly embarks on a quest to find out what really happened to her parents at the mysterious fire (that was an unexpected turn), and Henry just gives up after one attempt at the start of the book. Meanwhile, Etta just interferes and then has her own thing going on.

I suppose I could see connections and all that if I cared for the characters. But I always felt this gulf, as though they were distant figures across a huge, fast-flowing river, and I only see what's going on. It may be the present tense narrative, which works wonderfully in many novels (like the book I reviewed yesterday, Broken Monsters), but not this. I just kept feeling like the author was telling, not showing the whole way, and it made me feel detached (also, I checked my notes and there were a few sudden jumps from the head of one character to another, which was a bit dizzying).

For me, this book just lacked the magic spark. Plenty of others love it, so if you're curious, it's worth borrowing the book or reading a sample to see whether you like it. It just didn't quite make the cut for me.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.