I’m actually a little embarrassed by how much I liked the first book in The Selection series, because I loa...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’m actually a little embarrassed by how much I liked the first book in The Selection series, because I loathe the entire concept of The Bachelor (and THE SELECTION was described as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games). I gave it a shot based on a few reviewers who likewise were surprised by how fun the debut was, and honestly, I couldn’t put it down once I started and I had a similar experience reading THE ELITE.
My hatred for The Bachelor still remains, but the whole concept of girls competing for one guy actually translates to a much more tolerable situation in this series (plus it actually reminded me more of the book of Esther from the Bible). Because The Selection is a traditional practice designed to elevate a ‘commoner’ to royal status and in a sense offer the people a sense of inclusion in the government, the whole concept takes on a different light.
But really, it’s the relationship between America and Prince Maxon that continues to keep me riveted. There are so many obstacles between them (and I’m not even talking about the other girls), and not one feels contrived. The friendship-turned-something-more is full of agonizing betrayal, juicy secrets, and heartbreaking sacrifices. We learn so much more about Maxon this time too. His crown isn’t quite as untarnished as we thought, but neither is America’s–regardless of her justifications.
And Ilea itself is so fascinating since it has its roots in the USA that we all know. I loved digging more into the radical transformation that created the world that America and Prince Maxon live in. From the origin of the caste system, the first King, the rebels, and so much more. The balance between the romantic developments, character growth, and worldbuilding was so well done. I’ll be be anxiously looking forward to the final book in The Selection series, THE ONE, when it’s published on May 6, 2014. It’s really too bad the the TV show didn’t get picked up. I would have loved to watch this story almost as much as I loved reading it.
WHO WAS DRACULA?: BRAM STROKER’S TRAIL OF BLOOD brings depth and intrigue to not only the creation of Dracu...moreReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
WHO WAS DRACULA?: BRAM STROKER’S TRAIL OF BLOOD brings depth and intrigue to not only the creation of Dracula but also the life of his creator, Bram Stroker. There were some fascinating revelations about the various inspirations for Dracula as well a very interesting look at life in the Victorian era theater where Stroker worked while he wrote DRACULA. I loved how Steinmeyer created stories out of Stroker’s letters throughout the book which made it feel like a novel. While the people surrounding Stroker had amazingly rich and complex lives, their stories went on for so long that at times they overshadowed Dracula himself.
What Steinmeyer found as he researched the author’s world was the surprising way Stroker mashed up the characteristics and quirks from those around him including his former boss Henry Irving, Oscar Wilde, and Walt Whitman. One surprising influence was Jack the Ripper who Stroker could have met! The chapter on Jack was really interesting and gave some new insights into one of the suspects in the Ripper case.
Reading WHO WAS DRACULA? really made me think more about the character of Dracula and how such a character has lasted and evolved over the years. The reason for Dracula’s everlasting success well into the 21st century can be summed up by Steinmeyer’s last line:
“A truly great nightmare is once experienced, never forgotten. It is summoned again when we simply close our eyes. It needs nothing but imagination.it is never very far away.”
While WHO WAS DRACULA? felt repetitious at times, though the rewards outweigh that minor quibble. It’s filled with fascinating information on Victorian life, Bram Stroker, and new insights on just who Dracula in fact was.
I was really excited to see Neil Gaiman’s name attached to THE SILVER DREAM, and very surprised to see it l...moreReview Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I was really excited to see Neil Gaiman’s name attached to THE SILVER DREAM, and very surprised to see it lean more towards science fiction than the fantasy I’m used to reading in Gaiman’s work. Aside from that small shock THE SILVER DREAM is a quick read with fast paced action and an incredibly complex world. Even though this is the second book of the Interworld series new readers can pretty much jump right into the story without feeling too lost.
THE SILVER DREAM is somewhat reminiscent of ENDER’S GAME with children fighting a war against a deadly alien enemy bent on destroying the world. What makes THE SILVER DREAM really different from ENDER’S GAME is the addition of mind bending time travel, inter-dimensional worlds, and an odd mixture of science and magic. A surprising and at times confusing concept introduced in the Interworld series involves Joey having hundreds of alternative ‘Joeys’ from various worlds who not only look slightly like Joey but think like him as well. The idea of living with multiple versions of yourself is both a fascinating and horrifying concept to think about.
Aside from the amazing world building and intense action scenes, there is a definite lack of character development. Everyone except for Joey is one dimensional which is disappointing especially for a character like Acacia who sounds like a really cool girl who has to have an amazingly complex and fun back story from the little we can suss out from the the story. Unfortunately, she sweeps in to help Joey, introduces some really interesting ideas on time travel, and disappears before we can get a good grasp on just who this person even is. Other characters introduced come off as so paper thin that I was amazed at the ‘closeness’ Joey had to them.
While there is a lack of good character development, THE SILVER DREAM is a fascinating YA sci-fi novel filled with great concepts, lots of cool technology, and riveting action. I tend to shy away from the sci-fi genre with its overabundance of complex technology talk so I was happy to see that THE SILVER DREAM was surprisingly light on that aspect. THE SILVER DREAM ends on a major cliffhanger which will make the next book in the Interworld series (which has no release date) hard to wait for.
AS TWILIGHT FALLS is one of those romances that I felt a little guilty about liking so much. It was fun, b...more Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
AS TWILIGHT FALLS is one of those romances that I felt a little guilty about liking so much. It was fun, but the more I think about it after the fact, the more I feel it wasn’t as great as I thought. However, while I was reading it, I couldn’t put it down, and the romance between Kadie and Rylan totally sucked me in.
One of the “once I thought about it” realizations I had is that I didn’t really like how the women were characterized. The women in AS TWILIGHT FALLS are all stuck in Morgan Creek, not by choice, and end up sounding a bit passive and whiny for most of the book. All the humans come off as very reactive, not proactive, as if they have no say in their own lives. Even Kadie, the heroine, seems to be constantly dealing with the situations she is put in. Then we have the only woman vampire, Lillith, an evil sadist who terrorizes the human men in the town. You won’t find any women who fall in the middle of the spectrum and I was disappointed by the lack of any strong women in the story.
Luckily, I’m a sucker for a strong, sexy alpha male. And Rylan Saintcrow 100% fits the alpha male description. He gets to be a bit indulgent with Kadie, but even then, he is still smooth and confident of himself, two traits that I can’t do without in my heros. Rylan is sexy, but he’s also a bit scary (he is holding an entire town of people against their will, after all). I think that is part of his allure, the ultimate bad boy vibe that we get from him. The other vampires also give that off, too. I especially liked Micah, who was introduced near the end of the book. He had a great sense of humor and even if he wasn’t completely necessary to the plot he was a great addition.
One great thing about AS TWILIGHT FALLS is that it wasn’t predictable. The set-up is such that the plot could have gone in what I felt was a very obvious direction. However, it ended up taking a turn that I didn’t expect, but at the same time, it wasn’t totally out of the blue, because there were some small hints dropped along the way. It was a creative, unexpected ending, and I really like when stories are shaken up a bit, since I read so many romance novels.
AS TWILIGHT FALLS is a quick, enjoyable read, so long as you don’t think about it too much. It offers a great fantasy- while obviously I would not like to be held against my will by a bunch of vampires, I also wouldn’t mind being indulged a bit by Rylan. All in all, it was a nice light read, and while it didn’t break outside of any conventional paranormal romance tropes, it kept me invested from start to finish.
Sexual Content: Mild sex scenes, references to rape(less)
SILENT WARRIOR is the prequel novella in the upcoming Dragon Kings series which debuts with its first full...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SILENT WARRIOR is the prequel novella in the upcoming Dragon Kings series which debuts with its first full length novel, CAGED WARRIOR, on June 26, 2013. The series name is somewhat misleading since there aren’t any actual dragons in this series. But the promised ferocity and sensuality? Oh, yeah, is that blistering and brutal.
The Dragon Kings are actually a race of warrior demons (I think). There are different clans within this race and each one is ‘gifted’ with a different ability. In SILENT WARRIOR, the leads are both from a clan known disparagingly as thieves since their ability allows them to absorb the abilities of others for a short time. When they first meet, they are literally trying to beat each other to death in a gladiatorial bar fight (think the fight scene between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr. & Mrs. Smith). It’s crazy violent as neither one holds back. But since this is a romance, respect and admiration grows quickly even while landing potential lethal blows.
As you can imagine, if they fight so violently, they do other things with equal ferocity. This is definitively a super hot read and the sexual undercurrents run strong throughout the novella. The language and descriptions are right on the edge of pushing this into erotica territory. As for the characters, both have equal strength and cunning, but where he is brash and wild, she is cool and stoic. It’s an unusual pairing, but it worked really well.
There are a lot of layers to this series that SILENT WARRIOR only grazes the surface of. The history and pending extinction of the Dragon Kings, the cartels that own and restrict the Dragons, the life and death cage matches. I can’t wait to see this world expand and leap into another dark and sensual romance when CAGED WARRIOR is published on June 26, 2013
Sexual Content: Two graphic sex scenes. References to rape. A man attempts to sodomize a boy
An adventure of the purest form, EMILIE AND THE HOLLOW WORLD has stowaways, mysterious lands, foreign strangers, saboteurs, and intrigue, all flavored...moreAn adventure of the purest form, EMILIE AND THE HOLLOW WORLD has stowaways, mysterious lands, foreign strangers, saboteurs, and intrigue, all flavored with just the right amount of magical steampunk technology. Though the pacing was choppy in the first few chapters, alternating between action and large chunks of exposition, once Emilie finds her place on this crew of adventurers and scientists, the story takes off.
Reminiscent of GREAT EXPECTATIONS or TREASURE ISLAND, Emilie is an intrepid youngster making her own way through the world. Emilie, however, very quickly takes a central role in the action. Believably or not, this heroine solves mysteries, plans jail breaks, and keeps pace with the adventurous adults around her. As much as I enjoy adventure for it’s own sake, I need some romance or character growth to keep me anchored in a story. Though Emilie is brave and resourceful, she doesn’t change much from the adventurous girl who ran away from home at the book’s opening. And while Emilie is sixteen-years-old, this book reads more like juvenile fiction than YA.
Age and romance have little bearing on this story, focusing instead on the politics and personalities of the various crews that collide. This intermixing of competing adults was one of my favorite aspects of the story, if only because it lent some much needed credibility to the way Emilie integrates herself on the ship. Despite face paced adventure, the resolution of the action plot alone wasn’t enough to get me invested in these characters, and that lackluster connection ultimate brought my rating down to 3 bats. EMILIE AND THE HOLLOW WORLD is perfect for younger readers, however, and anyone who can appreciate a good adventure all on it’s own.