Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review: "Ruby Red" by Kerstin Gier

Title: Ruby Red
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #1
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Square Fish
Year: 2012

"Although I had never seen him before, I recognized him immediately. I'd have known his voice anywhere. This was the guy I'd seen on my last journey back in time.

Or more precisely, the one who'd kissed my doppelganger while I was hiding behind the curtain in disbelief.

Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended - and rather eccentric - family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors' peculiar history, she's had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn't been introduced to "the mysteries," and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesly. It comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past.

She's totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He's obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she's seen in any century . . ."

To hell with this! It is things like this that are wrong with the publishing process today.
Separate novels are extremely rare because it is more profitable to pump out series with way too many installments. Sure, it is great to have more reading goodness but too often it is quantity rather than quality. 

This book takes this to new heights. Move over Mt Everest, we have a new kid in town. 

Okay, let me explain what has made me rage like this. 

The story of “Ruby Red” was an interesting concept that I really liked. Time travel, some romance, pretty Victorian dresses. My cup of tea. The writing style was quite nice, whimsical and really easy to read. And the events that occurred were quite interesting, if a little heavy on the prophesy cliché.
The first trouble I had, was the fact that the prologue gave away something that I am guessing is going to be a huge revelation later on. It could not have been more obvious if it held a neon sign over its head and did the watch-me dance. 

Other than that, I had a day and a half worth of a fun read. I never noticed how fast the pages were flying. I enjoyed the build-up to the idea that she was the time-traveler instead of her cousin. Quirky and funny. The first times she traveled through time were interesting as well. More than half the way through the book there was the first action scene. A few pages later was the next one. And theeeeeen. BAM! The book is over. What the fluffy fuck? It is like finishing the first Harry Potter book, after the troll gets in on Halloween. 

This book was very much not worth the full price. It was barely half a book! This is not giving you a little taste and leaving you wanting more. This putting a hand in your pocket and taking money out of it without having the courtesy of even being slightly subtle about it. I would like to know what happens in this book (I refuse to call it a series), but I will not buy the next book. This is giving a middle finger to your readers and I for once will not go with it. It feels like buying a video game, only finding out that in order to complete the game you have to buy 10 extra downloadable contents, 20 bucks each. 

As you can see, Hulk mad. 

*angry breathing*

Okay. Oh yeah, I forgot one thing. One thing that I thought was going to be well done in this book. The romance part. I liked that they were taking it slow at first. If you play on the “first hate then love” angle, then you cannot run into it the first chance you get. And it didn’t, it was very nicely done until the ending. He thought she was a silly piece of work the whole book and suddenly “she was always going to be special to him, magic or not”. Blow me. Really. I haven’t seen a gloss-over this bad since forever. 

Now that I have finished ranting about the story, let me give you something about the characters, which were a tad better.

Our lead is Gwen. I liked her well enough. She did not take everything in a stride, but gave her best. She was fairly funny, if a little bland. I did think that it was a little odd how she just let grown-ups like her mother and the people in the secret society just cart her around without having an opinion. Huh, on second thought, she might not have been as fun as she sounded.
Lesley was Gwen’s best friend. She was research gal. Sounded like a real and true friend. She believed Gwen in places others would have suggested the psychiatric ward and managed to never seem jealous of her friends fortune.
There was one character I would have liked to hear so much more about. Charlotte. The girl who should have been the time-traveler but wasn’t. She spent her whole life training for this but she ended up not being the special prophecy girl. Now this is the angle that would have been an interesting read. Maybe we will get a novella. Something else to buy.
All of my opinions about Gideon were summarized in his sudden change of heart in the second last page of the book. Enough said. 

All in all: Nice writing style. Alright(ish) characters. Good enough of an idea. A really nice cover. All of it ruined by greed. Make a font a little smaller and the borders a little wider and please, gives us an actual story not a 300-page prologue to the story. If you have money to spare and you are willing to buy all three at once, then sure, go ahead and buy them. But there are better things and books to spend your money on.
 This review (rant) has been brought to you by your Book Mistress for the day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: "Immortal Beloved" by Cate Tiernan

Title: Immortal Beloved
Series: Immortal Beloved #1
Author: Cate Tiernan
Publisher: Poppy
Year: 2012

"Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.

Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.

Cate Tiernan, author of the popular Sweep series, returns with an engaging story of a timeless struggle and inescapable romance, the first book in a stunning new fantasy trilogy."

This book makes me go:”Hmmmm.” 

At first it was really hard to find something to make me stick with this. I am so used to books being very action-filled, where something big is at stake all the time, either in the characters life or in the world (or both). Which made “Immortal Beloved” feel very very slow. It’s like this really slow creature that walks in front of you and even if you poke it with a stick, urging it to go faster, it just looks at you, but keeps going at the same pace. At first you walk behind it slowly and mumble to yourself, but after that gets boring you start staring the slow plot in front of you and realize it has a nice behind. And if you could just see the rest of it, then all of it might be nice. Which is my way of saying that after I got used to the slow plot I realized it is actually a very good book.

Despite the slow pace of this story, it has quite an important message. I like how it did not overly glorify immortality. How, even if immortal, you live through poverty, famine and even though you do not die, those dear to you still might. Also, after a long time things start to blur together and you stop finding joy in everyday things and how important it is to get that feeling back. In the end I had to salute Cate Tiernan once again, because she obviously knows how to make you think but ease you into it, as to not scare you away.

Okay, so the story is about a girl named Nastasya who, after a freak occurrence, realizes that the path she is on only leads to destruction and she has to run from her old life and try and piece herself together. I think the blurb makes this story sound a lot more dramatic than it is. It still has all these elements, but the word rehab is really not the best thing to call where she is going. And the story with Reyn is a lot more complicated. My advice: Read it, it will be different than it sounds, but in a good way.

Nastasya was an interesting lead. At first I did not like how she seemed to pity herself and even she did not know why she is doing it. But she really grew into herself. She was obviously one of these characters for whom a life-changing experience was long overdue. And with a little nudging she went with it nicely.
Reyn was one of those brooding characters that usually tends to annoy me but he had such a good back story (actually this book was filled with great characters with great back stories) that in the end I kind of had to like him. I also liked how the romance was very unhurried here.
There were many characters in Rivers Edge. River herself, the people who were there to get the same so-called treatment as Nasty did. All of them great to read. Nelly might have been a little oversimplified, but it did not bother me much.
There were also Nastasya’s friends from before. They were over the top and loud and a complete contrast. By themselves they would have fallen flat but in this book they gave the story that little extra it needed.

“Immortal Beloved” might take a little while to get into, but the overall journey is definitely worth the slow start. It gets 4 well-earned stars from me.

 This review has been brought to you by your Book Mistress for the day.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: "Incubus" by Jennifer Quintenz

Title: Incubus
Series: Daughters of Lilith #2
Author: Jennifer Quintenz
Publisher: Secret Tree Press
Year: 2013

"Braedyn Murphy used to think nothing important ever happened in her sleepy town of Puerto Escondido. But that was before she learned she was a descendent of Lilith, the mother of all demons. 
 Now Braedyn fights to protect humanity from the Lilitu - the beautiful, souls-stealing daughters of Lilith. As she fights the Lilitu, Braedyn must also fight her growing love for her boyfriend Lucas - because giving in to temptation could end his life. Their only ray of hope is an angel's offer to make Braedyn human, but it's an offer she can't accept until the world is safe from the Lilitu. Braedyn knows she's a key player in this ancient war... but she just might be humanity's best hope of surviving the final battle for Earth"

Jennifer Quintenz why do you do this to me? Sleep is good for people, I speak from experience. But somehow your works always have me telling off sleep until I am ready to collapse. It was not a good idea to go to bed 4.30 AM, when I had wake up at 7AM…

So after reading to the early hours of the morning I have now finished “Incubus”. I admit it might not have been nice of me to wake up my visiting sister at 4AM with a loud shout of: “I knew it! I didn’t know it, but damn it, I knew it.” For people who have read the book, this was the moment when I found out who the incubus was. You get it. 

Okay, must calm down.

So, as a sequel to a brilliant opening to the series “Daughters of Lilith”, how did the second book hold up? While reading I kept going back and forth. One time I was almost sure that “Thrall” was better and nothing will ever beat it, but other times I was swearing up and down how “Incubus” must be the single best thing I have ever read. So to sum up, they are both great and make for one hell of a series (especially if you read them back-to-back).

Something I also want to mention is that the cover of “Incubus” IS the single most prettiest and shiniest thing I have ever laid eyes on. The wings, the girl, the sword. Something about it captures this story so perfectly. Just wanted to mention that.

On to the story. I was a little surprised when very early on in the book it became clear that the final battle of all evil is drawing near. I couldn’t help but think that “come on, they just got rid of one, give them a breather”. Which I guess is the point. They do not get a break and if not anything else then the constant now-or-never kept me on the edge of my seat.
The story was paced a tad slower, compared to “Thrall” in which it was BAM – BOOM – BAMBOOM. Which is what I liked about “Thrall” but that is not to say that “Incubus” was too slow. It was still great. I also liked the more human side-story of the battle with Amber. I know, I am too old to care about high-school drama but I have never wanted to punch a book-character in the face so bad before. That was some brilliant writing right there.
If I could wish for one thing then it would be to see Braedyn relapse for a moment. I want to see her give in to the temptation and go Lilitu on everyone’s ass. She made many mistakes in "Incubus" but at one moment I found myself wishing that it wasn't all an accident. In "Thrall" she attacked Parker very intentionally. I wanted something like that but worse.

Braedyn is one thing I liked more in the first book. Because she developed so much in the course of “Thrall”. Here she did make progress but it was a lot more subtle and as I said, what I wanted to see was the giving in.
If I would have the chance, I would just stare at Lucas with suspicion and ask: „After all you have been through, you are still so trusting?” I could not decide if his never-ending faith in Braedyn was sweet or annoying. I think I will go with sweet. So sweet I feel like I'm getting diabetes. 
The book did introduce a few new characters. But not overly much. The most influential of them was Seth. I was torn when it came to him. I will not tell you how it turned out, you have to find out yourself.
As for the incubus himself… I changed my mind a million times about who he was. That kind of thing is really hard not to give away. I was dead-set on one guy and then something happened. But then I doubted myself and it was back to the first guy. Thus the “I didn’t know it but I knew it” part.

Long story short, I loved the “Incubus”. Jenn Q, thanks so much for sending me the copy. I am so happy to give another one of your books five stars and cannot wait to get my hands on “Sacrifice.” (To the skeptics out there, this review is my fair and true opinion, I won’t sell my soul for free books quite just yet).

 This review has been brought to you by your Book Mistress for the day.