Friday, February 28, 2014

I've joined the Twitterverse!

So much book/blogger/reader/author stuff happens on twitter, and I felt like I was missing out on a lot. So I finally made myself a twitter account :)

So here's the link:

and my twitter handle is @spidersilksnow. So follow me, and let me know what your twitter handles are so I can follow you back! I've already started following some of you fellow bloggers :)

And if anyone has tips on how to get started with twitter, they would be much appreciated as well!

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Review: The Waking Engine

17910112Title: The Waking Engine
Author: David Edison
Genre: Fantasy, adult fiction, science fiction, steampunk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.
Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.
Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.
Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.

This book reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman's fantasy - it's very atmospheric, and there are more than a few elements of the grotesque, bizarre, and fantastical. The Waking Engine is quite a unique beast, and I don't even really know how to review it. I think the best way to put it is that this book made me laugh, cringe, hyperventilate, gasp, ponder, and smile.

The Waking Engine's mythology is very intricate and unique. The concept is pretty much that when you die, you simply pass from one world to another, living in various worlds until you finally end up in a world where you can achieve True Death. The City Unspoken is one such place, and this is where Cooper finds himself. Cooper is a bit of an anomaly, and a lot of people have plans for him - he just has to figure out who to trust and how to stay alive. Meanwhile, the aristocracy is stuck inside the Dome, and Purity Kloo sets her mind to finding a way out of her guilded prison. Along the way, she discovers startling secrets about her family and her world. This books also features a mad fairy-queen who is poisoning herself with technological mods while attempting to take over the world, Cleopatra in a form you've never seen before, Death boys who make people slaves to their bodies, First People who are the closest things to Gods in this universe, and other fantastical creatures.

It's really hard to talk about this book because there was just a lot going on. At times it was confusing to keep track of all the characters and their secret motivations/sudden revelations, but I thought this book needed to have that much going on. It's less about any one character and more about the complexity of the world itself - you have to be really patient reading this book because it takes a long time for pieces to click together.

I was intrigued by the premise, and the book did justice to it. The writing was gorgeous, and there were a lot of little moments that really made me think. The story did drag towards the middle, and there are still some things I'm not clear about, but I'm okay with that - half the fun of this book is letting some enigmas stay that way.

*A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Aerenden - The Child Returns

13498421Title: Aerenden: The Child Returns
Author: Kristen Taber
Genre: Fantasy, young adult

My Rating:  3.5 of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:
Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.
After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.
Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.
But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom's fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.

*A free e-copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

This wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised! Aerenden: The Child Returns is about Meaghan's journey to an unknown world after witnessing her parents' brutal murder. With her friend Nick as a guide, Meaghan discovers the truth about her life and her identity, all while trying to stay alive.

I thought the author did a good job of creating a parallel world and connecting it to the real world. Aerenden is a kingdom in this parallel world, and its inhabitants are all born with certain powers - healing, sensing danger, receiving visions, reading emotions, etc. People coexist surprisingly well for such a diverse community, but of course there is a power-hungry twisted bad guy who wants to control the world. This man, Garon, isn't actually a character you get to meet in this book, but you do see his twisted creatures in action. These creatures are the Mardróch, which paralyze their prey with fear by looking at them. I really liked the (terrifying) concept of the Mardróch, and I felt like they were one of the most well-imagined and best parts of the book.

Yes, I thought the antagonist's creatures were the best part of the book - not the antagonist himself, nor the protagonists. I didn't find the main character particularly compelling in this novel, but I did think that she grew quite a bit throughout the course of the book. Since the majority of this book was setting up the major conflict of this series, I think Meaghan will become a stronger character in the later books.

Meaghan starts out rather passive, and just goes along with what people tell her. She might ask a few questions but won't push it if people refuse to giver her answers. She struggles to understand things, and has an admirable stubbornness when it comes to following her moral compass, but she doesn't really get to do much. This is partly the fault of Nick, her friend/Guardian/love interest, who is bent upon protecting her. While he has good intentions, it got tiresome to keep reading conversations that went along the lines of:

Meg: "Why didn't you tell me this deep dark secret/terrifying truth earlier?
Nick: "I wanted to protect you from the world as much as possible, dearest!"

I take issue with this because it implies that Meaghan is too weak to handle the truth (or at least that Nick thinks so), and we are led to believe that she is in fact a strong and capable leader with much potential for greatness. It's hard to reconcile who she is supposed to be with how she acts and how others treat her, because at least for me there was a conflict there.

As I mentioned before, I felt like this whole book was one big set-up for something big to come later. Although the end of this book was intense, the majority of it was Meg figuring out her new role and trying to navigate her relationships with people. I think a lot of what she learns and how she grows throughout the novel is important, but I just wish there was a little more intensity and urgency in the plot to go along with it.

I think I got a lot of negative things out of the way, but I want to stress that I did enjoy this book. I was pleasantly surprised by the introduction of many multi-faceted secondary characters, and I'm excited to hear about their pasts and futures. It's nice to see relationships between people besides the main characters, since this usually takes precedence over everything else in most YA. I also liked that Meaghan and Nick not only had adults guiding their lives, but that those adults weren't just background noise (again, a problem that plagues most YA). And as mentioned before, I found the concept of the world very intriguing.

I would have liked to see a darker, more intense story to go along with the opening, but I think that may have to wait for later books. Overall, not a bad fantasy novel.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Spotlight: THE CHASE

Today is the release day for Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg's The Chase! I will have my review for this book posted in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime check out the book trailer and giveaway!

RELEASE DAY SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: THE CHASE by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg


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THE CHASE by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Bantam – Random House
On sale: February 25, 2014

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, New York Times bestselling authors of The Heist, return in this action-packed, exciting adventure featuring master con artist Nicolas Fox and die-hard FBI agent Kate O’Hare. And this time around, things go from hot to nuclear when government secrets are on the line.

Internationally renowned thief and con artist Nicolas Fox is famous for running elaborate and daring scams. His greatest con of all: convincing the FBI to team him up with the only person who has ever caught him, and the only woman to ever capture his attention, Special Agent Kate O’Hare. Together they’ll go undercover to swindle and catch the world’s most wanted—and untouchable—criminals.

Their newest target is Carter Grove, a former White House chief of staff and the ruthless leader of a private security agency. Grove has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, a crime that will torpedo U.S. relations with China if it ever becomes public. Nick and Kate must work under the radar—and against the clock—to devise a plan to steal the piece back. Confronting Grove’s elite assassins, Nick and Kate rely on the skills of their ragtag crew, including a flamboyant actor, a Geek Squad techie, and a band of AARP-card-carrying mercenaries led by none other than Kate’s dad.

A daring heist and a deadly chase lead Nick and Kate from Washington, D.C., to Shanghai, from the highlands of Scotland to the underbelly of Montreal. But it’ll take more than death threats, trained henchmen, sleepless nights, and the fate of a dynasty’s priceless heirloom to outsmart Fox and O’Hare.


ENTER THE CHASE GIVEAWAY! a Rafflecopter giveaway


Description: 33077_AFlores:Users:aflores:Downloads:Janet Evanovich_Photo.jpgJanet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

Connect with Janet

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Description: 33077_AFlores:Users:aflores:Downloads:Lee Goldberg_Photo.jpgLee Goldberg is a screenwriter, TV producer, and the author of several books, including King City, The Walk, andthe bestselling Monk series of mysteries. He has earned two Edgar Award nominations and was the 2012 recipient of the Poirot Award from Malice Domestic.

Connect with Lee

  |  Facebook
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  | Google +

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Fire Country Book Birthday!

Today is Fire Country's book birthday. You can find my review of it here, and look below to find out how to get your own free copy! The series is a lot of fun to read, and the author is really cool too - I hope you all take this chance to start reading a really good series!

Today, Fire Country by David Estes turns one year old. In the first year since Fire Country was born, so much has happened. David signed with an agent, sold more than 10,000 books, wrote five more books and published a further three). He knew he just had to celebrate and he'd love for you to be a part of it! David owes so much of his support to the blogger community, and he wants everyone to have the chance to be a part of the Fire Country Birthday Bash.
Everyone goes home a winner, simply follow the prompts below and swipe your eCopy of Fire Country from Smashwords. Read and leave a review on Amazon if you enjoyed it. Feel free to share the code with your friends, family, neighbours and literary inclined pets.
Coupon Code: WH62C
Expiration: March 1, 2014
What's a party without prizes? Yes, David is not only giving everyone a chance to download their own copy of Fire Country, book one in the Country Saga for free, but he's also giving you stuff too. You could win an Amazon giftcard open internationally, U.S residents can win a signed copy of the David Estes book of your choice, or a handful of David Estes eBooks of your choice. Awesome.
Visit David via his Blog  Facebook • Twitter and via Goodreads
Pay Perry the Prickler a visit on Twitter and Goodreads

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

16160797Title: The Cuckoo's Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)
Genre: Mystery, adult fiction

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.
Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Mystery novels were one of the first chapter books I read as a kid. Cam Jansen, Nancy Drew, the Boxcar children, the list goes on. I think some of the first stories I ever wrote (when I was at the ripe old age of 6!) involved mysteries for my 6-year-old protagonist to solve. But somewhere along the way, I stopped reading them. I was beginning to find them formulaic, and I was frankly getting bored of trying to figure out who the thief/murderer was. This book reminded me of all the things I loved about mystery novels as a child, and I think I still have a soft spot for them.

The Cuckoo's Calling revolves around an investigation of a famous actress' supposed suicide. Her brother believes it was murder, even though the police have decided otherwise. He enlists the help of Detective Cormoran Strike, a rough, large, middle-aged man with some problems of his own to deal with.

What I really loved about this book is that it was similar to Tana French's In the Woods - the novel focused more on the characters than the actual mystery. There was Cormoran Strike, obviously, who had to deal with his complicated situation with his ex-wife. He's in a bad place financially, as well, and everything about his life seems to be hinging on this case. There's Robin, his clever and surprisingly resourceful temp, and a whole cast of colorful characters who have their own ideas about what happened to Lula. I really liked all of the characters, eccentricities and all. Robin and Strike had distinct voices, and it was interesting to see the case from both their points of view.

Although it's obviously written in a different style and for a different audience, I feel like the core of this novel is the same as that of the Harry Potter series - it's tightly plotted, with little details coming back when you least expect it, but the real joy is rooting for the characters and watching them grow. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I will be looking forward to more of Rowling's mystery novels.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Fantasy Friday 2 - Dragons!


This is a meme hosted by Rinn Reads where anyone can join in and talk about anything Fantasy!

This week I thought I'd talk about dragons.

I've read a lot of books that involve dragons, and it's always cool to see how they are portrayed. Here's the rundown on different types of dragons and where to find them!

  1.  Saphira The Inheritance series - this world is really similar to that of Lord of the Rings (and a lot of other high fantasy) since it involves dwarves, elves, and an evil mysterious king. But what makes this world awesome is how important dragons are. The dragons have a pact with the humans and elves to form a partnership known as the Riders. The dragons choose someone to bond with, and spend the rest of their lives together. I loved how dragons were portrayed as both magical and mysterious yet playful at the same time. Saphira managed to turn things into diamond without even trying, and yet she acts like a little kid in a candy shop on other occasions. Even if there aren't many dragons in the series, the few that are there were incredibly majestic and beautiful creatures.
  2.  Vollys from Gail Carson Levine's The Two Princesses of Bamarre - This is a lesser known book by the author of Ella Enchanted, but I read and loved it as a kid. In this book, Vollys is this huge creature who likes nothing more than roasting people alive and eating them. But let no one say she doesn't give you a fair chance - she'll keep you around as long as you keep her amused . The catch is that it isn't very easy to amuse a dragon who's lived for hundreds of years...
    Both breath-taking and terrifying, Vollys is one of my favorite literary dragons.
  3.  Smaug! This dragon shouldn't require much explanation, especially since the new Hobbit movie came out recently. Smaug, I think, is more terrifying on screen than in the book, but he is still a formidable force in both instances. I thought it was both funny  and a little freaky how attuned Smaug is to his cavernous wealth. He has so much, but can still smell when a single gold coin is out of place.
  4.  Seraphina - This is one of the most original adaptations of dragons that I have ever seen. In this world, dragons can take on human shapes at will. Dragons - even in their human form - are incredibly calculating and logical; it's hard to imagine they have any emotion at all. Their notorious intelligence and lack of emotion obviously leads to tension between dragons and humans, which tears poor Seraphina apart since she is half-dragon and half-human. I really loved the mythology of this book - I've never read anything quite like it before or since.
  5.  Eon(a) - In this world, there are 12 dragons as well as a Mirror dragon. Each one is tied to a dragonlord by a pearl, and they are summoned when their dragonlords are in need of power. This series blended more Eastern folklore involving dragons than other books I've read, which was refreshing.
  6. 10664113 Daenerys' dragons - these dragons haven't had the chance to do much yet other than fly around and fry the occasional sheep (or person...). I thought it was interesting how there was an entire dynasty who had "the blood of the dragon" and could tame these incredibly volatile creatures. Unlike the other books mentioned above, the dragons don't really have much character - they're just there to look scary. I'm hoping this will change later on!
  7.  Earthsea - I have only read one of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea books (the horror! I know, I'm planning on reading more), and it didn't feature dragons too heavily. Dragons are still a big part of the world though, and are said to have shared a common ancestor with humans. The dragons have wisdom and knowledge that no one else does. One of them, Tehanu, is one of the most incredible characters - she has taken on a human form, but sustains burns to half her body from her dragon form.
  8. Icefire - last-dragon-chronicles Photo Icefire - this was one of my favorite series as a kid, and involves a line of sybils who make clay dragons that can come to life. There are also evil witches, dark matter and alien creatures, and shaman polar bears, but dragons are really the focus of this world. It is said that the dragons are made from the earth, so when they die they turn back into clay after shedding their "fire tear". This fire tear has incredible magical properties, which the above mentioned evil witch and alien creatures want to exploit while the polar bears try to protect it. I realize how ridiculous I have made this series sound, but I promise it's not as random as it seems, and is in fact very thought-provoking and well-written!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 15

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being A Blogger/Reader

This has been one of my favorite blog posts to put together - can I just say that Pinterest is amazing? I hope you enjoy this!

1. Books help me escape the real world when it gets too boring, dull, stressful, or upsetting. Sometimes I just want to forget about that midterm or get over my rainy day, and reading about the adventures of people in other places, times, and worlds just helps me take my mind off of everything!
The Random House Group - Google+ - A little Friday quote for all your lovely book lovers out…

2. Characters sometimes make better friends than peopleguilty as charged :)

3. Understanding literary comics like this one:
The Instagram of Dorian Gray

4. Knowing what happens next because you've read the books and the TV show/movies haven't caught up
Us real fans get it
5. This definitely applies to fellow book bloggers and people I know personally :)

6. This is the only kind of hangover I'm ever going to have :)
The Hunger Games...I just finished the trilogy a second time.  The hangover is worse.

7. I've learned a lot - about life in general, and about random things like politics in 16th century France,  and virology
Learning-quotes-reading-quotes-books-quotes-Abraham-Lincoln-Quotes-All-I-have-learned-I-learned-from-books..jpg 550×550 pixels

8. This just says it all:
 How to learn vicariously ~ read and judge for yourself, prior to being emotionally involved in the situation yourself!

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Blog redesign...yet again

Hello lovely blog readers!

I'm a Do-It-Yourself kind of person, and even when I've finished something, sometimes I just keep having this nagging voice in my mind that tells me that something isn't quite right.

I redesigned my blog a couple of months ago, and I was pretty happy with it at the time. I had never done anything involving Photoshop or CSS before, and somehow I managed to figure how to redesign my blog with a lot of helpful tutorials and websites. Still, looking at some other blogs that had been redesigned, mine didn't look as clean or as professional. At the time, I was just tired of redoing it, so I just left it as is.

But today I figured it was time to try again.

I'm much happier with this blog now, but we'll see how long this layout lasts!

Here are screenshots documenting the transformation. What do you think?



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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: Pivot Point

11988046Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Genre: Young adult, science fiction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
I picked this book up because I had heard nothing but good things about it and I needed something short and fast to read after plodding through two really large/dense books (A Dance with Dragons and MaddAddam in case you were wondering). While this book was fast, it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be.

I'm trying not to be dismissive of this book simply because it's YA - I've read a lot of excellent YA that really makes you think and tackles issues and ideas that adult fiction is often too formulaic or too constricted by genre to deal with. Even without those heavy ideas, there is plenty of YA that is just fun to read. This book had a lot of potential, and it really seemed like it could be both fun and interesting, but in the end it wasn't either.

Addie is part of a secret community of paranormal people. Her power is Divergence, which means she can see the two outcomes of her choices before she makes them. The book opens with a bombshell choice - her parents are getting divorced, and Addie has to decide which one to live with. Of course, she uses her trusty super-power to figure out which path would be better, and of course there is a lot more hinging on her decision than she initially realizes.

I liked the characters in the novel - they were pretty realistic, and they had their own quirks and endearing qualities. Addie has been raised by parents who can detect lies or persuade her to do things, so she is obviously very obedient. Still, she struggles with doing what she wants to and what is expected of her, which is something I could relate to. Her friend Laila is the stereotypical loud and proud best friend who can erase memories. There's the jock football star, Duke, and the only non-paranormal main character, Trevor. Oh, and there is also a psychopath.

Afterthought much? That's what the entire plot felt like to me. Addie sees some pretty horrific outcomes involving a psychopath but decides that there's nothing she can do about it and just makes a personal decision, hoping things will work themselves out. Most of the story focuses on her relationship with her friends, and while a lot of those little moments were adorable (Trevor! Be my best friend!), it was just bizarre to me that Addie doesn't do anything about the guy who's responsible for murder. I felt cheated because most of the book was just showing the two different outcomes of her decision, and the final chapter was just like "oh look, everything happened according to plan." Granted, the decision become more complicated than I expected it to be, but I felt like the majority of the book was just filler because half of it never happened.

This started out as a fun and fluffy book, but just ended up being a little one the ridiculous side. I don't think I'll be picking the next book up.

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