Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

first-grave I knew this before but my Mom has good taste because this book was delightful.  Charley Davidson is not just a Private Investigator, she’s also a Grim Reaper.  Sorry, not just a Grim Reaper, she’s THE Grim Reaper.  Which isn’t such a terrible job one might imagine. She just helps the departed cross over to the other side.  Also being the Grim Reaper and a PI, she is also her detective uncle’s secret weapon when it comes to solving crimes since she can see the dead and you know, ask them who killed them.  It sort of cheating but whatever.  When we meet Charley, she’s been called by her Uncle Bob to help her with a new homicide.  It soon develops into more then just a simple triple homicide but something all together.  Too complicate things even more, Charley has been having these super realistic dreams that may not be something more supernatural.  Charley now in a race of time to solve a mysterious deaths of her dead clients, figure out her dreams and stop people from trying to kill her over and over again.  Charley is smart, funny and sarcastic. My kind of person.  The cast of characters are fun and fill out the story but Charley is the real star of the story. She is strong and independent but still carries the scars of years people thinking she was crazy but it doesn’t stop her from keep trying to help people, dead or alive.  There is one case in here that is truly sad and heartbreaking and you really feel for not only Charley who truly felt she was helping but for her client as well.  Sadly, just like in real life not everything turns out the way we want them too.  That said, I’m really looking forward to the next book. If anyone is on the fence about this one, I say just jump in! Especially fans of Sookie Stackhouse.  There may not be Vampires, Werewolves and such but fill of supernatural beings, colorful cast of characters and wonderful female protagonist.

Scary and Spooky books to read before Halloween.

 

With Halloween just a few days away, I thought I would revisit some of the more scarier and spookier books I’ve read.  For all the books that I read that have vampires, witches and werewolves in them, not many fall under the horror genre.  So some of my picks don’t really fall into the typical Halloween fare but they are scary nonetheless.

scowler Scowler does fall in the horror category as it was super suspenseful and scary.  I picked this book up because I knew that Daniel Kraus was working with Guillermo Del Toro on Trollhunters.  The fact it takes place in Iowa an added bonus.  Ry and his mother and sister are barely scraping by on their farm and Ry is doing everything to distract him from the pain of the physical and emotional abuse of his imprisoned father.  Everything starts to fall apart when a meteorite falls and his father returns to the farm. Ry must defeat his father with the help of his imaginary childhood friends, including Scowler.  This book is super super creepy. With a scene at the end that still sort of haunts me when I thing about it.  It’s not just a great scary read but also delves into the effects of abuse has on it’s victims.  The fear of facing is ones abuser maybe as terrifying as taking on a monster but being able to face that fear takes real strength.

the-strain I admit that I still have nightmares from this series.  Particularly since I live in New York City and ride the subway through many of the same stations that they talk about in this book and I can’t help but wonder if they are vampires down there.  You may have seen the show. I haven’t so I don’t know how it compares but I can’t imagine it as scary or creepy as the book because I’m pretty sure most of the book is not cable ready material.  New York because the epicenter of a virus that turns people into vampires. Instead of the traditional being bite on the neck by a vampire to be turned, people are turned by little worm like things.  Gross.  Eph and his team at the CDC investigate several mysterious illnesses only to find themselves in the middle of a epidemic that deals with ancient vampires.  As they try to stay alive and figure out what’s going on and how to stay alive and not to mention dealing with family drama.  It’s the perfect scary series to read for Halloween. The ending of the series is truly heartbreaking.

coldestgirl Holly Black is one of my favorite authors.  She’s never boring.  Her books are never the same and truly original.  In the The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, whole cities have been quarantined off because of vampires.  Vampires have let’s say got out of control and in these Coldtowns vampires and humans leave together.  Some humans more willing then others as some had the misfortune of getting stuck inside when the walls went up.  Tana’s mother was bitten by a vampire and later died. After a wild party, Tana wakes to find that only she, her ex-boyfriend and a tied up vampire are alive.  The vampire virus takes a couple of days before it takes hold and Tana is determined to save herself and her companions by going to one of the Coldtowns away from her family.  It’s not your typical vampire story.  It was truly refreshing read and Gavriel is a vampire worth crushing on.

unfortunate-events Ok, so this is scary or spooky as the others but the make no mistake the story of the Baudelaire siblings is truly terrifying.  When their parents tragically die and they are sent to live with Count Olaf. Things get worse from there.  A Series of Unfortunate Events is truly an understatement as the unfortunate events are usually the faults of the adults they are put in the care of.  Violet, Klaus and Sunny are put in one bad situation after another from the very first book when Count Olaf tries to marry 13 year old to get a hold of their fortune.  Is there really anything more horrifying then that?  The first couple of books are a little formulaic but once you get to book five things really start to pick up and things get really scary.

What are your favorite Scary or Spooky books to read?

 

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

uprooted I can sum up how I felt about this book with one word. Meh.  Is that a word?  It started off slow but eventually picked up and I became interested but well meh.  It wasn’t that it was bad. I just thought it would be better.  Maybe that’s because both Maggie Stiefvater and Rick Riordan, two authors who I love gave it such high praise on Goodreads that I had higher expectations for it.  So what’s it about? Every 10 years the Dragon comes down from his tower and takes one girl back with him.  The Dragon is the Lord of the Valley and a wizard, not an actual dragon as some stories say he is.  The girls he takes always come back changed but never say what they did while they lived in the tower.  The people continue to  do this because the Dragon helps defend them from the mysterious Wood that lies just beyond the Valley.  The Wood has a very mysterious evil about it that corrupts all that come in contact with it.  Agnieszka knows that her best friend Kasia is going to be the next one to be picked.  It’s common thinking that the Dragon always picks the most special girl out of her generation and it’s widely agreed upon that Kasia is that girl.  So it’s surprise Agnieszka who is not a great beauty or has any special talent beyond getting dirty is picked instead.

Setting this story up took  a lot of time and that’s what slowed down the pace of the story in the beginning but once it was able to get over establishing who everyone was, what the Wood was and why the Dragon does what he did, the story was able to move forward at a faster pace.  Agnieszka is a likable character.  She’s the typical heroine as she isn’t special on the outside but is on the inside.  Her relationship with the Dragon starts off antagonistic.  At first he really wants nothing to do with her and the same for her too.  We eventually learn that he picked her because he saw that she too had powers and it was his duty to teach her.  She isn’t really into the lessons until her village is under attack from the Wood and the Dragon is not around to help.  This is when things after speed up.  The plot starts to fill out.  We meet Prince Marek, who comes to the Dragon for help of saving his Mother who ran into the Wood 20 years ago and never heard from again.  The Wood ups it’s attack but and like most things the politics get in the way.  The Wood is crafty and is plays everyone perfectly and Agnieszka is always a step behind but still a step ahead from everyone else.  The battle at the end is a little bit anti-climatic after the previous battle but it’s a good ending.  So maybe I’m missing something but I thought it was good but not great.

Review: Civil War by Mark Millar

civil warI have to remind myself that the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is not the same as Marvel Comic Universe. The Captain America and Iron Man that we have grown to love in the movies are not exactly the same in the comics.  They may share some story lines, traits and beliefs but really they are different characters.  As is the story is going to be a different story then the movie.  For one thing thing, in the comic the story relies kinda heavily on the involvement of both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, both teams that do not exist in the MCU.  So the reasons why the registrations of Superhero’s is necessary had to be changed but the central argument seems to be the same.  To have a governing body to oversee superhero activities or continue to have autonomy on their work.  I can understand both sides.  On one hand, just because you have super human abilities does not mean you are or should be above the law and do what ever you like and then force other people to pay to clean up your mess.  On the other hand, you can’t force someone to work for someone without a choice of employers.Not everyone has the same prioritize and they shouldn’t be forced to submit to others.  I’m not sure how it’s going to play out in the movie since it doesn’t come out until Friday but I feel like the in the comic they were definitely more Team Captain.  Team Iron Man was doing all sorts of shady things.  Cloning older superheroes and creating new ones who will follow their directions.  Release super villains to track down the rebelling superheroes.  Who is supervising them?  The more I read the more I felt that people’s anger was misplaced.  What started it all was a few Mutants (were they actually X-men?) are filming a reality TV show.  They track down other mutants in Stanford, Connecticut. Even though they know they are out matched and they confront them anyway for the sake of better ratings.  They end up dying and taking with them a whole bunch of kids from a near by school. Now this is truly a tragedy but why blame all superheroes and not the producers and the network of the show that pushed them to get bigger rantings.  I haven’t read all the Civil War collections, as I see their are many, so maybe there are more to this then just that but it seems to me this is blaming all for the actions of few.  Say, like blaming the all Muslims for the actions of terrorist even though majority of Muslims live peaceful lives are are just as angry and appalled by the actions of Isis as everyone else.  Captain America, The Falcon, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four Spider-Man and so on are not going out looking for trouble they are only responding when there is.  That’s a big difference.  Maybe regulations should be made but this all of nothing solution that is presented in this is probably not the way.  I found this book to be enjoyable.  Gave me a lot to think about.  Not sure if if really prepared me for what’s to come in the movie since as I said in the beginning these are different beasts but I’m glad I did.

What do you do about alleged Plagiarism?

This Tuesday Cassandra Clare is set to release the next book in her Shadowhunters Novels. Her series is highly popular and is now on it’s third series inside this world.  The previous The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices were highly successful.  The former has already inspired a movie (a really bad one) and a TV show (from what I’m told is actually not bad and is doing well in the ratings but I personally couldn’t get past the first 2 episodes). Unfortunately the release of Lady Midnight, the first book in The Dark Artifices series is under a little bit of a cloud.  Sherrilyn Kenyon, the author of the Dark-Hunters series, is suing Clare for copying her ideas.  Kenyon’s series was first published in 1998 and Clare’s in 2007. They both center around an elite set of supernatural warriors that defend the world against demons and other supernatural beings.  Clare has of course denied it by saying she wasn’t influenced by Kenyon’s work.  I have read all of Clare’s books but I haven’t read any of Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters books.  I’ve read the Chronicles of Nick, which I love.  Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough.  The series is a YA spin-off of the Dark-Hunters series and has overlaps with her original series, with characters appearing in both.  Are there similarities? Sure? Probably?  I don’t think the idea of elite warriors who fight demons is new or original.  So I’m not sure what the outcome is going to be but does it matter?  Should I be concerned that Clare might have taken some ideas from Kenyon?  It hasn’t changed my opinions of her books.  They may have similarities but they are both very different in tone and style that they don’t feel the same.  Actually, until this lawsuit I didn’t even occur to me that they were similar.  Not the same way that drew comparisons between Julie Kagawa’s Talon series to Sophie Jordan’s Firelight series.  I wouldn’t say that one copied another but they definitely pulled from the same ideas. I think this gets a little murkier is the fact that Clare has been accused for plagiarism before.  During her fan fiction days, she was accused of adding quotes from TV shows and whole passages from an out-of-print book. There are whole debates about the ethics of fan-fiction.  Some would argue that fan-fiction itself is a form of plagiarism.  Needless to say this doesn’t help Clare’s cause but I don’t think it necessarily proves anything either because again, I think there is some ethical murkiness when it comes to fan-fiction. From what I’ve read, Fifty Shades of Grey is far closer to Twilight then Clare’s The Draco Trilogy was to Harry Potter but I can’t say for certain.  So where does this leave me?  I had already bought my copy of Lady Midnight before this came out so I will read it but my excitement towards it has lessened.  As readers do we have a responsibility here or not? If so, what exactly is it?  I’m kinda I’m curious to hear what others have think about this.

What I Can’t Wait to Read in 2016

It’s 2016!  Happy New Years!!  A new year means new books!  And we love new books even if they just add to our TBR pile.  So here a 10 books that I’m super excited to read in 2016!

  1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater- The final book in the Raven Cycle and I couldn’t be more excited and dreading at the same time.  It is well documented about how much I love the series and Maggie as an author.  I can’t wait to see what will happen to Blue and the Boys but at the same time not ready to say goodbye.
  2. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – The first book in Rick’s new series The Trials of Apollo is going to be good.  I just know it.  For one thing Percy is back!  That’s really all I need to know.  I also hope it means that Leo is also back and happy and in love with Calypso.  That would be the best.
  3. Untitled by Sarah J. Maas – So the next book in the Throne of Glass series doesn’t have a title but hasn’t dampened my excitement for it.  Aelin has all but declared her intentions and now heading for home.  The real fight for Erilea is abou to get real.
  4. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir –  An Ember in the Ashes was one of the books that I loved the most last year.  A mixture of historical fiction, dystopian and fantasy it was truly something refreshing.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.
  5. The Last Star by Rick Yancey – The final book in the 5th Wave series should be interesting.  The 5th Wave was full and real but the The Infinite Sea was a intriguing but not as entertaining.  Now that we know that who the aliens are and not things are really going to go down.  Not to mention the movie for the first book comes out soon and I’m quite interested to see how it transitions from page to screen.
  6. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – The Red Queen was the other book by a new author in 2015 that I really loved.  The other was Ember in the Ashes.  It was quite a debut.  I can’t wait to see what Mare will do now.
  7. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – It’s been over a year since Cassandra’s last series ended. She has filled the void with her novella series Tales from Shadowhunter Academy it hasn’t been the same.  Now we are moving from New York City to LA with Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorne five years after the end of The Mortal Instruments so of course the world is once again in peril and it’s mostly the Clave’s fault.  I do hope it’s better then the last 3.
  8. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I’ll admit that I was only so so on the first book but I think this series has real potential and I’m willing to give it a go.
  9. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – Magnus and friends stopped Ragarnok from happening at least for now and now he’s going to have help from his cousin Annabeth.  (Annabeth is going to be very busy this year) We know from the last book that Thor lost his hammer and judging by the title that is going to be a major part of this book but he won’t be the only God as we also know that Loki has been pulling strings for a long time. Things should get interesting.
  10. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon – Now I’m not sure if this book is really going to come out this year or not but according to Goodreads, it’s scheduled for 11/3 so *crosses fingers* Paige has taken over the syndicate only to be betrayed by her former boss.  It’s time to start a revolution against Scion but I have a feeling they won’t go down without a fight.

And so many more books I want to read and not to mention try to complete our reading challenges. It’s going to be a busy reading year.  How about you? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Beth has already done a short review on this book so here I am to give a longer, spoilerier review. This is a dystopian novel set in a future post-nuclear-holocaust Sudan. It follows the life of Oyesonwu, a woman born of rape and blessed with magic powers that she will use to change the world. This novel did not shy away from presenting the horror of rape, weaponized rape, genocide and female genital mutilation. Okorafor has a powerful voice and I am really glad to have read this book. I am also looking forward to reading more by this author. After the cut, though, I am going to discuss some problematic things in this novel.

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