Thursday, June 17, 2010

Books I've Been Meaning To Review

I love to read. Reading is one of my favorite past times and I spend at least an hour or two a day pouring through my latest book. Some times I read upto a book a week, sometimes one book can take me weeks to finish. When a book isn't as interesting or capturing as I had hoped, I find I don't read as much and when I don't read as much, I get cranky. Perhaps it's the escape into other realms, worlds and other peoples lives that keep me sane.

Lately I've been having trouble finding really engaging reads. I read a lot of books, but most, not all, of them have been up to my standards. I've even picked up a new book and then proptly put it down when the beginning didn't capture me. (and that's almost unheard of for me!)

Anyway, I've been meaning to write reviews about some of the books I've been reading, but I couldn't seem to find the words when I sat down to do it. So I'm just going to do an overview about them all together.

Starting with The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. If that names doesn't mean anything to you then you're reading the wrong books.

Synopsis by Always Dreaming

Mistborn took a little getting used to, that’s why it was such slow reading at the beginning. But the world – once you get to know it – is mysterious and fantastical. How do I begin to describe it? Well, imagine a world that is dark and smoggy, full of falling flakes of ash… always falling and building up and having to be cleared away. There is no green in the city, there is no flicker of life, especially in the eyes of the skaa who are the peasants of the city. The Lord Ruler, one who rarely appears outside of his palace, controls even the amount of hope his peasants can feel. When he does appear in public – it is obvious he could easily and dismissively destroy it and its people. At night, everyone barricades themselves inside their homes, fearing the mists for reasons they’ve forgotten. At night, all is muffled and silent. But, night time is when the most interesting things happen for Kelsier, a first and only survivor of the terrifying mining pits where the condemned are sent to work to their deaths. At night, Kelsier can move freely and undetected through the mists, up and down sheer walls, spinning from spire to spire. Why does he dare brave the Lord Ruler’s wrath? He is a mistborn. And one seeking vengeance.
Mistborn use up the energy of certain metals and alloys to gain access to latent powers. By swallowing small flakes of pewter, for example, mistborn can enhance their physical endurance and strength, something which comes in handy when you want to survive a fatal blow from an opponent…or wrench yourself free from the dungeons. Such people are rare, and are usually found in the ranks of the nobility. Kelsier himself is an exception. He was born among the skaa people, the dirt and sweat of the city. It is the skaa people who toil in the fields and fulfill all the menial labour – all great nations need something to enslave, after all, don’t they? But, something is abnormal about the skaa people. Why don’t they rebel? The sheer size of their population should easily be able to overwhelm any corrupt ruler. There is something more sinister at work in the streets of the Lord Ruler’s city, something a mistborn can detect. The Lord Ruler, O immortal one, keeps his secrets well hidden. Who are the Inquisitors, those skeletal beings with spikes driven through their eyes and horrifying skills at rendering bodies apart? They were once familiar men but now have become creatures with uncanny abilities, seemingly much stronger than even a mistborn. Kelsier is determined to help the skaa rebel against the Lord Ruler and this oppressive force that lies over his city. But he can’t do it alone.
Enter the crewmembers: Breeze, Ham, Clubs, Marsh, Spook, Dockson and Vin. Together they’ll form the grunt work for the secret rebellion, pitting their intelligence and skills towards a task that for thousands of years people have attempted and failed – kill the Lord Ruler and reclaim their city.
Vin herself is a mistborn, but she never knew it until the day Kelsier found her and saved her from a potentially torturous death at the hands of an inquisitor. She is a slight wisp of a girl who prides herself in mistrusting others and keeping to the shadows. It will take a lot of trusting and getting used to newfound powers before this young beaten down skaa can transform into someone whose cleverness and instincts can very well determine the fate of the entire skaa rebellion.

There, that was summed up much better than anything I tried to come up with.
(and I call myself a writer...bah!)

Mistborn: The Final Empire was the first novel of this trilogy and it was great! I was imediatly drawn to this dark and dismal story that took place in a world where the fated hero had challanged the ultamite evil and lost. (wait, is this the guy we're trusting to finish WOT?) The main character Vin is amazing. She follows the regular hero path (starting off as nothing, learing of unknown magical potential, surpassing the master, taking on the ultamite evil) with the exception that the hero is a girl!! How awesome is that? Very rarley do we see females following this path. I, for one, live for strong female roles in movies and books, especially those that can kick as much, or if not more ass then the men. (I'm talking about you, Princess Leia)
There's even a love story in there between Vin and a spoiled nobleman named Eland, that's sweet enough to make me want to giggle and blush in girlish joy. It' also nice to see the power dynamic between a couple be switched up from the regular norm. I read this book in a week.

 Now, The Well Of Ascension, book two, took me over a month to read. I almost went crazy. All the good things about the first book ceased being good. Vin and Eland get together and she starts trying to figure out whether she should be girlier for him. Enter Zane, Elend's half brother who he doesn't know about and who is also in love with Vin. Not only is Zane a Mistborn like Vin, he also likes her gruffer, more powerful side. So which brother should she love? The soft nobleman who would be King or the hard Mistborn who shares her power? Who cares? Groan....

Worst of all, that's the interesting plot line of this book. The rest is politics which are extremely boring.
I didn't finish this book because I couldn't wait to find out what the climax of the book would be, I sat down and finished it just so that it would be finished.

Book 3, The Hero Of Ages, started off very similar to book 2. I cringed whenever I picked it up, but I just wanted it to be over so I begrudgingly started to trudge through it. Oh wait, what was that? Elend's a Mistborn now? Lame. The Ultimate Evil from the first book was just being manipulated by an ultimate-ultimate Evil? Even more lame!

But then something happened, something extrodonary! It got better. It got much better! And suddenly I couldn't put it down. All the questions from the previous books started to get answered and the conclusions were awesome. The ending to this book made ploding through book 2 totally worth it. (and that's saying a lot.)

Over all I give this series 4 out of 5 stars.
I will recommend this series, but my reccomendation will also come with a warning. I think it's only fair that people know just what kind of read they're in for.

Next comes The Accidental Friends Series by Dakota Cassidy.

The first book in this series is The Accidental Werewolf

When Marty Andrews gets bitten by a mangy mutt while walking her teacup poodle, her blond hair darkens, the hair on her legs starts growing at an alarming rate, and her mood swings put her dream job as a sales rep for Bobbie-Sue Cosmetics in serious jeopardy.
Then a drool-worthy man shows up at her door claiming that he accidentally bit Marty. And since he's a werewolf, she is now, too. Thinking Keegan Flaherty is clearly insane, Marty refuses to believe a word until a kidnapping makes her realize there's more at stake than just her highlights. And she must put her out-of-control life in the hands of the man who makes her blood run wild in more ways than one...

I picked this book up because I was looking for something a little bit different. I'm not one for romance novels, but a romantic comedy with bad fantasy clichés like werewolfs, vampires and demons seemed to amusing to pass up. Plus, what a great pen name! (at least I think it's a pen name)
This book follows Marty and her two friends, sassy Nina and quiet Wanda as they help Marty deal with her indroduction to the paranormal world. I laughed through this book at the crazy sayings that Marty had. I mean, who uses "f#*k a duck" as a term of surprise? And frequently? Well I guess people are just quirky.
Now this isn't your pre-teen Twilight-esq novel. This is adult fiction and you can tell why. As someone who has wrote a sex scene or two in her life, I was shocked at the content in this book. Not for the vulgar-ness of it, but just for the sheer lenght. I've gotta say, it's a little awkward sitting on the bus and reading a 6 page sex scene. It's one of those times that you really hope that no one is reading over your shoulder (something I've had a problem with over the years on the TTC) And that doesn't just happen once, in the book, but 3 times!

The second book, Accidentally Dead, follows Marty's sassy friend Nina after she gets bitten by a Vampire!

It's a lousy first day on the job for Nina Blackman when a patient, loopy from the anesthesia, bites her. At least he was cute. But for real drama she can't beat the next evening. Nina wakes up with a set of razor-sharp fangs, bionic vision, supersonic hearing, and a taste for blood. But there's a good explanation: It's her patient, Long Island vampire Greg Statleon. Actually they're perfect for each other--if Nina's willing to commit to one man for eternity.

 Oh my goodness! What are the odds that one of Marty's friends would also be accidentally bitten by a Paranormal? Pretty good actually when you take a look at the series. And wait, all those quirky sayings that Marty used through out the first book, aren't apparently quirky at all, because Nina uses them too! What a coincident! Oh wait, no, that's just how the author writes. hmm...
But that's where the similarities end, right? Nope. Lets see;
- Get turned into whatever 
- Freak out
- Try and find a way to fix it
 - Lean on friends for support
- Fall in love with guy who did the turning
- Come up against other paranormal woman who is willing to kill to get their man back
- At least 3 long sex scenes (middle, 3/4, and end of book), live happily forever after

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Ok, but what about book 3, The Accidental Human? It's about Wanda, the other friend? You don't say.

Wanda Schwartz is raking in the dough selling Bobbie-Sue Cosmetics - and she's a pro at recruiting new saleswomen. So, she's shocked when a man comes to one of her in-home parties - a very hot man. Heath Jefferson is sure to put some extra spin into a lot of women's color wheels.
When Wanda is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it doesn't have to be a death sentence. With a werewolf and a vampire for best friends, she has options that most ordinary people wouldn't. As Wanda ponders what to do about her mortality, Heath reveals he has secrets, and one of them is that his former bloodlust has turned into an old-fashioned lust - for Wanda. And he's already given up too much to lose the love of his lifetimes.

It can't follow the same formula, right? Well, sort of right.

- Get turned into whatever (well, not right away, but is diagnosed with cancer)
- Freak out (check)
- Try and find a way to fix it (well at least accept it)
- Lean on friends for support (eventually)
- Fall in love with guy who did the turning (not the turner, but paranormal none the less)
- Come up against other paranormal woman who is willing to kill to get their man back (this is the only book of the series that this isn't true for)
- At least 3 long sex scenes (middle, 3/4, and end of book), live happily forever after (oh yeah)

This is actually the only book of the series that doesn't follow this formula. It's probably my favorite out of all of them for that reason.

Book 4 (yup, 4 and counting) Accidentally Demonic follows Wanda's sister Casey.

When mild-mannered Casey Schwartz wakes up in jail, she has no memory of how she got there. But after her sister, Wanda, bails her out, Casey has more to deal with than a foggy memory-like abrupt mood swings and fireballs shooting from her fingertips. But things really head south when a vampire shows up on her doorstep...
Vampire Clayton Gunnersson is seriously hot. And seriously taken-by a demon. In a ritual gone wrong, Clayton tried to get rid of his unwanted bond, but spilled some demonic blood on Casey, getting her possessed in the process. Now, Casey has to share her body and manage to keep her growing attraction to Clayton in check, because falling for her demon's boyfriend just might get Casey killed-from the inside out.

Casey, huh? I guess they ran out of friends to accidentally become something. Lets check our criteria shall we?
- Get turned into whatever (check)
- Freak out (check)
- Try and find a way to fix it (check)
- Lean on friends for support (well, sister and her friends)
- Fall in love with guy who did it (check)
- Come up against other paranormal woman who is willing to kill to get their man back (check)
- At least 3 long sex scenes (middle, 3/4, and end of book), live happily forever after (only 2! The end of book one didn't happen! I was shocked!!)

I'd say the formula was followed, wouldn't you?

Overall I give this series 3 out of 5 stars.
It was quirky and funny and I will pick up the next one when it's released next year.
(look for Something Catty in 2011. It's about a woman who gets bit by a cougar and suddenly has an affinity for younger men! HA!)

How about the other books that weren't even worth my time to read?
I tried to read both of them and failed.
If you want to pick these up, I won't stop you, (I mean who am I to tell you what you should and shouldn't read?) but do so at your own risk.

If you have any books to recommend me, please, just drop me a line.

Happy Reading to you all.

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