Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Blog Tour: Orient by Christopher Bollen

624 p.
Publisher: Harper
Published: 5/5/15
Source: From TLC Book Tours for review
Purchase Links: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
Author Links: websiteAdd to Goodreads badge
As summer draws to a close, a Small Long Island town is plagued by a series of mysterious deaths— and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out. 
Orient is an isolated hamlet on the North Fork of Long Island—a quiet, historic village that swells each summer with vacationers, Manhattan escapees, and wealthy young artists from the city with designs on local real estate. On the last day of summer, a teenage drifter named Mills Chevern arrives in town. Soon after, the village is rocked by a series of unsettling events: the local caretaker is found floating lifeless in the ocean; an elderly neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances; and a monstrous animal corpse is discovered on the beach not far from a research lab often suspected of harboring biological experiments. Before long, other more horrific events plunge the community into a spiral of paranoia. 
As the village struggles to make sense of the wave of violence, anxious eyes settle on the mysterious Mills, a troubled orphan with no family, a hazy history, and unknown intentions. But he finds one friend in Beth, an Orient native in retreat from Manhattan, who is determined to unravel the mystery before the small town devours itself.
Suffused with tension, rich with character and a haunting sense of lives suspended against an uncertain future, Orient is both a galvanic thriller and a provocative portrait of the dark side of the American dream: an idyllic community where no one is safe. It marks the emergence of a novelist of enormous talent.
My thoughts:

I was in the mood for a good thriller/murder mystery when this one came up for review. Unfortunately it wasn't everything I wanted in a thriller but the mystery was pretty good.

The book mainly contains a lot of worldbuilding of a small town who are known to not like "outsiders" living in their pristine town. While I can appreciate the attention to detail, it felt as if the mystery got a bit lost for the bulk of the book and it slowed the story down so much I can't call it a thriller. However, I totally agree that the expectation of a thriller was of my own making. That may have colored my view of the book. In the last quarter of the book, the mystery really perked up and I honestly didn't know who the killer was until the very end. My guesses kept getting twisted but it made sense in the end. It does however have an open ending even though it is a standalone. Normally this would bother me but I saw an open ending coming because of the prologue. I had a feeling it wouldn't end like these books normally end. I think that knowing ahead of time helped me to not hate the ending.

I give this book 2 1/2 stars. The worldbuilding and multiple POVs seemed to really slow down the plot of the book. I do recommend this book on the mystery. The ending was good and I did enjoy the twists. I also think that others will appreciate the details given in the book. It does lend a leisurely pace to the bulk of the book which does counter the twisty end. It just wasn't what I personally wanted in a mystery.

About Christopher Bollen

Christopher Bollen is an editor at large for Interview magazine. He is the author of the novel Lightning People, and his work has appeared in GQ, the New York Times, the Believer, and Artforum, among other publications. He lives in New York.

Find out more about Christopher at his website.

Tuesday, April 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, April 8th: My Bookish Ways
Thursday, April 9th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Friday, April 10th: As I turn the pages
Monday, April 13th: BoundbyWords
Tuesday, April 14th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, April 15th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, April 16th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies
Monday, April 20th: The Discerning Reader
Tuesday, April 21st: Books and Things
Wednesday, April 22nd: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, April 23rd: A Dream Within a Dream
Monday, April 27th: Open Book Society
Tuesday, April 28th: Kissin Blue Karen
Friday, May 1st: Wordsmithonia

Friday, April 17, 2015

Audiobook Review: Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill

Series: Chicagoland Vampires #2
Narrator: Cynthia Holloway
11 hrs. 44 min.
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: 1/7/11
Source: Hoopla/Library
Vampires in Chicago! 
You'd think headlines like that would have provoked the fine citizens of the Windy City to take up arms against us bloodsucking fiends. Instead, ten months later, we're enjoying a celebrity status reserved for the Hollywood elite—fending off paparazzi only slightly less dangerous than cross- and stake-wielding slayers. Don't get me wrong. Joe Public isn't exactly thrilled to be living side-by-side with the undead, but at least they haven't stormed the castle...yet. 
All that will change once they learn about the Raves—mass feeding parties where vampires round up humans like cattle and drink themselves silly. Most civilized vampires frown on this behavior—but that doesn't make good copy for a first-time reporter looking to impress his high-society family. 
So now my "master"—the centuries-old yet gorgeously well-preserved Ethan Sullivan—wants me to reconnect with my own upper-class family and act as liaison between humans and vampires...and keep the more unsavory aspects of our existence out of the media. But someone doesn't want people and vamps to play nicey-nice—someone with an ancient grudge.
My thoughts:

I enjoyed this one more than the first and it held my interest much better. I still enjoyed Merit, the heroine, in the story as well as the secondary characters. I have yet to get the warm fuzzies for Ethan but I will say that toward the end of the book I am now willing to admit I may give him a chance. There is still something mysterious with his involvement in Merit's turning (I'm guessing).

I didn't like how the situation was handled with Mallory, her bestie, but it also makes sense. Still, I do hope things aren't dropped and work out. I really like that girl. I'm also happy to say that there is somewhat of a resolution on the triangle and Morgan is not high on my list of likable vamps. Yea, I'm getting close to saying too much so I'll stop now.

I give this audio 4 stars. I'm enjoying Cynthia Holloway's narration and I recommend it on audio if you can get it. Ignore the covers, I'm not loving those and it doesn't look like anything Merit would wear.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Disobedience by Alvania Scarborough

Series: Harker's Hell #1
334 p.
Publisher: Silver Harbor Press
Published: 6/16/14
Source: Caffeinated Virtual Assistant Services for review.

Harker’s Hell. Early settlers thought they’d found a western re-creationist’s heaven. Instead, the new world is a hellish version of the Old West. Now the seeds of long-ago conflict are stirring to life.

Dissonance Walker believed she’d seen the worst life had to offer, only to find she’s dead wrong. Sold to a secret organization by her parents for the price of a new stove, her ability to disobey is ripped away by a brutal experiment. Determined to find the key to restore her freedom, she manages to escape her captors, only to end up in the worst place for a woman that can’t say no—on a saloon stage, ready to be sold to the highest bidder.

Bram Spencer is sure the heat has baked his brains. With his friend murdered and his ranch under attack, he needs to attend a little unfinished business. Buying some fool woman because she pokes at scabs he thought long healed, isn’t on the list. It’s bad enough he has to go through the fuss of rescuing her, now he discovers the only way to grant her freedom is to marry her. This is why he never plays the hero—no good deed goes unpunished.

Secrets have a long life. Sometimes decades. Now the sins of the past have returned, ready to collect their dues. Only trust can save Dissonance and Bram from a shocking evil… but trust is a hard commodity to come by on the frontier.
My thoughts:
This is a mash up of several genres. One is a western which is quite obvious. However, it is set on an alien planet, not earth. While this might sound confusing at first, it really isn't. In fact it reads more like an old western historical with alien parts thrown in for good measure. That made you pay more attention to the worldbuilding.

While I did like the interplay of genres, there was parts of a journal which started each chapter. It was about the founder and how the area became to be known as Harker's Hell. While I did like the added information, it really tended to confuse me. I didn't see how it played in the story until toward the end. Even then it has no conclusion and it appears to be the arc within the series. I think there will be more information as the series progresses. It does look like it continues on within the next book.

While that may have gave me pause, the story as a whole was fun to read. While I actually didn't like Bram at the beginning and even wanted his arse to be kicked throughout most of the novel, I actually melted when he realized he was causing Dissonance, the heroine, actual pain. When his understanding dawned and even though he had to go though one more arse kicking to "get it", when he did, he fully understood and became so kind and sweet to Dissonance. It was his kindness that really got to me. Yes, he had me as a fan in the end.

I give this book 4 stars. While I did find some of the worldbuilding a bit confusing I also felt it will have it's place as it builds within the series. What really shone in this book is the romance and how they truly came together. I recommend it to those that love a good fantasy romance.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Anthology review: The Doll Collection Edited by Ellen Datlow

Edited by Ellen Datlow
Authors: Stephen Gallagher, Miranda Siemienowicz, Mary Robinette Kowal, Richard Bowes, Genevieve Valentine, Richard Kadrey, Veronica Schanoes ,John Langan, Jeffrey Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Gemma FilesPat Cadigan, Lucy Sussex, Tim Lebbon, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Stephen Graham Jones
352 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 3/10/15
Source: From publisher for review
The Doll Collection is exactly what it sounds like: a treasured toy box of all-original dark stories about dolls of all types, including everything from puppets and poppets to mannequins and baby dolls. Featuring everything from life-sized clockwork dolls to all-too-human Betsy Wetsy-type baby dolls, these stories play into the true creepiness of the doll trope, but avoid the clich├ęs that often show up in stories of this type.Master anthologist Ellen Datlow has assembled a list of beautiful and terrifying stories from bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Pat Cadigan, Tim Lebbon, Richard Kadrey, Genevieve Valentine, and Jeffrey Ford. The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other devoted doll collectors from the science fiction and fantasy field. The result is a star-studded collection exploring one of the most primal fears of readers of dark fiction everywhere, and one that every reader will want to add to their own collection.
My thoughts:
As with almost all anthologies it has some great stories, some "eh" stories and a couple that confounded me. Still, I would have to say that as a whole, the collection stayed within the boundaries of horror and dolls. Two things I think go great together. For those that shy away from horror, it isn't too scary that you can't handle it (I'm an admitted wimp) but it is creepy. Not one is a happy go lucky, feel good story. That's a good thing for this collection. :)

I have to say that my favorite stories didn't surprise me. Seanan McGuire and Carrie Vaughn are worth the price of admission for the book. Other stories captured me and creeped me out but there were also a couple that just confused me to no end. I don't want to call out those specific stories since it could rightly be just me and I don't want to color your view of the story before you get to it.

I give this collection 3 stars and I highly recommend it to those that love horror and just being creeped out. :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Audiobook Review: Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Narrator: Cynthia Holloway
11 hrs. 11 min.
Published: 12/21/10
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Source: Hoopla/Library
They killed me. They healed me. They changed me. Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn't exactly glamorous, but it was mine. I was doing fine until Chicago's vampires announced their existence to the world---and then a rogue vampire attacked me. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker...and this one decided that the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead. Turns out my savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now I've traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan "Lord o' the Manor" Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries' worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude---and servitude. Right. But my burgeoning powers (all of a sudden, I'm surprisingly handy with some serious weaponry), an inconvenient sunlight allergy, and Ethan's attitude are the least of my concerns. Someone's still out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches? My initiation into Chicago's nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war---and there will be blood.
My thoughts:
This is a series I've been wanting to get into for a while now. Many, many people have recommended this series and I finally decided since my library had several of these I would put them in the rotation. I was glad that I did.

We see the world through Merit a girl who did not have the best childhood, but thanks to her grandpa she was able to carve out some happiness and supplemented her family with good friends. Speaking of the new found family I have to say that I really loved all the secondary characters. They really made the world easy to embrace.

While I loved Merit and the secondary characters the plot seemed a bit uneven but not enough to pull me out of the story. I feel this has more to do with establishing the world. I also did not warm to any possible love interests for Merit, but then neither did she (even though she is frustratingly interested in one particular vampire...). I'm curious where the plot will take us next. This does not mean it had a cliffie, but it did leave a story arc open. One that will probably take us through a few books.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a good start to a UF series I know I will enjoy.