A Review of Amber Eyes

Amber Eyes (Children of the Blood Moon #2) 
By ~ S. D. Grimm

I was very excited to have been invited to read and review Amber Eyes as part of the blog tour hosted by Unicorn Quester.  This young adult fantasy series has a lot going for it; action, adventure, magic, family, friendship.  Amber Eyes is the second in a three-part series, starting with Scarlet Moon and ending with Black Blood, which will be released January 2019. 

I had not heard of this series prior to being invited to the blog tour and I needed to do some catching up in order to review Amber Eyes.  I started with reading Scarlet Moon first so that I would have a background of the characters, the world and the story in general before reading Amber Eyes.  I'm glad to say that after reading two of the Children of the Blood Moon series back to back is that I could easily read the third right away, if it was available, as I am not yet tired of this world.  S.D. Grimm has created an incredibly interesting universe filled with magic and friendship.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Darkness retreated from the light of the scarlet moon, but has since grown even stronger. The Mistress of Shadows has found a new pawn—one that may be the key to unlocking the door to her underground prison. Now evil threatens to escape its shackles and destroy the land. 

In the aftermath of loss and betrayal, Jayden’s fight with the enemy still isn’t over. But while she isn’t sure she can stop the Mistress alone, leaving her friends might be the only way to keep them from being consumed by the darkness.  

With lives hanging in the balance—and no time for error—can Jayden make the right choice?

While I enjoyed reading Amber Eyes, there were just one very minor thing that I personally  didn't like.  Teen Angst.  For myself I find that a lot of young adult novels are filled with teen angst and it is overwhelming for me to read as an adult.  I’ve been there and experienced those feelings and I don't need to relive it through fictional characters, however that is my personal feeling of teen angst.  I think that if I read this as a teen I would really relate to the situations and feelings the characters were experiencing.  While Amber Eyes had a bit too much teen angst for me, it wasn't the entire story, and Grimm also included themes about perceived personal failings, family and friendship.

That being said, the characters experienced a lot of personal growth during Amber Eyes, so I was able to understand that this teen angst was there to provide them with the emotions needed to grow as a character.  I look forward to seeing how this growth expands in the last book, Black Blood.

Amber Eyes also has just the right level of fantasy.  I really felt like I could imagine the world that this story took place in and I think that even someone who isn't necessarily into fantasy would enjoy reading Amber Eyes, and The Children of the Blood Moon series in general.  With common enough characters names and limited amount of made-up words, it is very easy to imagine this world filled with magic, and yet not become overwhelmed with a bunch of names places and things that exist in the authors imagination.  

I enjoyed Amber Eyes, and I look forward to coming back to this series when Black Moon comes out.  

If you would like to check other reviews of Amber Eyes and author interviews I encourage you to check out the rest of the bloggers on the tour.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Scarlet Moon and Amber Eyes in exchange for an honest review.  

 

To Purchase Amber Eyes in Canada

AmazonChapters

 

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 22nd Tuesday, January 23rd Wednesday, January 24th Thursday, January 25th Friday, January 26th Saturday, January 27th Monday, January 29th Tuesday, January 30th Wednesday, January 31st Thursday, February 1st Friday, February 2nd Saturday, February 3rd Monday, February 5th

A Vision of Fire

A Vision of Fire (The Earthend Saga #1)
Authors ~ Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin

As probably most people who will have randomly come across A Vision of Fire, I picked up this book because of Gillian Anderson.

If you've never heard of Gillian Anderson before, well you are definitely not a child of the 90's with a nostalgia of The X-Files

I live in Vancouver, BC, where The X-Files was originally filmed and I distinctly remember watching the show with my mom and on nights when I was babysitting.   So yes, an old love of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder is what propelled me to read this book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work. 

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.

A Vision of Fire isn't a great book, but neither is it a bad book.  It's mediocre in everything it does.  From combining Norse, Voodoo and Aliens, to Caitlin O'Hara having a deaf son who provides her with the ability to understand unspoken languages, A Vision of Fire tries to do to much and doesn't really succeed with anything.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading A Vision of Fire, I did, but it isn't a great book, it's just middle of the road, something to read in-between other more exciting books.  

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 1

This review is the first part of a three part series of reviewsof The Gray Tower Trilogy.

The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy #1)
Author ~ Alesha Escobar

The Tower's Alchemist has one of the most ridiculous synopsis I've read for a book in a long time. 

Wizards Vs. Nazi Warlock Vampires.

Yup, you read that correctly, Nazi warlock vampires.   I received this book in a witchy Story Bundle I purchased in May 2017 and I have to honestly say that I would have been unlikely to read this book had I just come across it on my own, the premise just sound ridiculous.  Boy, I sure would have missed out on a FANTASTIC read.

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Nazis have unleashed occult forces throughout Europe and the Allies are forced to recruit and employ wizards to counter their attacks. Among them is the battle weary spy, Isabella George, a Gray Tower dropout trained in Alchemy. Longing for retirement and a life of peace, she accepts one final job-extract a deadly warlock from Nazi occupied France and prevent him from unleashing an alchemical weapon that will devour the continent.
But France is crawling with the Cruenti, vampiric warlocks who feed off other wizards. When things don't go according to plan, one Cruenti sets his deadly eyes on her.
Betrayal is everywhere. Even some of her closest allies cannot be fully trusted. Worse still, she finds, she can't even trust herself. She becomes a woman torn between her charismatic spy lover who offers her what she desires most, and one of her closest confidants, whose soft seductive eyes hold deadly secrets about her past, and the Gray Tower itself.
Plans within plans. Plots versus counter plots. Heists gone wrong, sword-wielding Catholic priests, and the greatest manipulation of history that has ever been seen, is just a taste of what Isabella George is in for, in her final mission.

Thank you Story Bundle to introducing me to author Alesha Escobar and The Gray Tower Trilogy.  The ridiculous synopsis of Nazi warlock vampires is really well done.  Hitler had an obsession with for the occult so it would make sense, in a world where wizards and magic existed, that Hitler would have Nazi warlocks on his side.

In researching spy's during World War II, Escobar discovered some pretty amazing women who went undercover and helped the Allies ultimately win the war.  Bits and pieces of these women, and their accomplishments, shine through in The Tower's Alchemist and you feel like they could have been real people.

All of the characters in the story are very intriguing.  Good, bad, neutral, I was fascinated with all of them and really wanted to know what what going to happen to them.  

I sure am glad that I gave The Tower's Alchemist a try and I'm extra glad that I happen to have the second and third books in this trilogy as I immediately started Dark Rift (the second in the series) once I finished The Tower's Alchemist

 

Is Death Really the End?

A Review of Afterlife
Author ~ Marcus Sakey

There are some books that you just read that have no effect on you, there are some books you read that make you cry, other books that make you laugh, and then there is Afterlife, which makes you think about life and death.  

In Marcus Sakey's new book, Afterlife, he explores life after death and a love that transcends both.  Not only does Afterlife make you ponder the meaning of life, but it is also filled with pop culture references that made me chuckle every time I came upon them.  I found that it made the character of Will Brody more relatable, despite actually being dead for most of the story (don't worry, that's not a spoiler). 

When FBI agent will Brody tries to stop a serial sniper form terrorizing Chicago,  little does he know that the sniper is possessed from an evil from beyond the grave. When Will loses his life to the sniper he discovers that there is more after death then he ever believed.

Claire McCoy, FBI task force leader, and secret love of Will Brody, is devastated by the loss of her agent and lover. She becomes even more consumed with discovering the snipers identity and walks herself into a dangerous situation, subsequently loosing her life, but taking the snipers life with her.

In the afterlife, Will and Claire find each other and are horrified to discover beings that devour the souls of the dead, some of these beings are so powerful the can "ride" the living.

It's up to Will and Claire to lead the other souls in the Afterlife, standing up to these beings so called gods before they can continue killing the living.

I have to admit, it took me quite a long time to write this review, I found myself struggling to articulate how I felt about this book.  I really did enjoy it, and at times I found it hard to put down, which for me is the sign of an good story, but it was almost like there was so much going on, I didn't know how to write about it. 

At a certain point, all I can do was to write down a few thoughts and press the publish button.  Would I recommend this book to someone else, yes, and I would tell them that it was an interesting and enjoyable read.  Am I excited about the prospect of Afterlife becoming a movie, I sure am.  I think that it could make a stunning movie and provide a lot of interesting discussions about the meaning of life and death.

4 Penguins

I received an free ARC of Afterlife from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review ~ Equus

equus

Equus (Rhonda Parrish's Magical Menageries)
Anthology

The friend who originally suggested to me that I start to write book reviews managed to hook me up with my very first "official" review.  I was so excited to receive an ARC copy of the Equus anthology from Rhonda Parrish and be given the chance to write a review, but I failed...sort of.

Not every book is for every person, and Equus is just a book that isn't for me.   I will preface this by saying that short stories in general are hard for me to get into.  There have been some short stories that I have enjoyed in the past, but I've always been surprised when I do like them.  For me I find that with short stories, just as I'm starting to get into them, the story is over.  The second thing that Equus had going against it (at least one I discovered as I started to read it) is that I just don't care about horse.  I mean, I like them and I think they are pretty cool and I always go and see the RCMP Musical Ride at the Pacific National Exhibition, but aside from a periphery care for horses, I discovered that I don't really want to know anything more about them.  So my attempt to read Equus and review it made me gain some new knowledge about myself,  horses just are not my thing.

All of the stories I did read/skim through had quite a bit of description of the horses, how they move, the equipment they need the feeling or riding one. I just had a hard time caring about all this description of the horses and their riders. If you like horses I suspect that you would enjoy this anthology quite a lot. It just wasn't my thing and after attempting to read it for the past few months and finding myself dreading picking it up, reading a page or two and then putting it back down, I decided that it would be better to put it down for good and move on.

0 Penguins (with the notation that I would recommend this to someone who likes horses)

Ack! Apologies are in order

Hello everyone!  I wanted to send out a quick apology that my next book review is taking so long.  I'm actually almost finished writing it and I'll have it posted shortly.  

The reason for the delay is that I found myself getting a little overwhelmed trying to write a long and detailed review of the books I've been reading.  It it started feeling like is was a chore instead of something fun to do and as I read more and more books, the thought of writing long reviews of them became something I was dreading.  I didn't want to give up doing the book reviews, but I also needed to figure out a way to continue to enjoy reading and not dread writing the review.  

It took me some time to finally decided what I wanted to do with the book review section of my website.  In the end, I came up with the idea to write the reviews in a different manner than I had started out with, the biggest change is that I'm not going to worry about how long they are.  Some books I just really don't have anything to say and others I have a tone of stuff to say and those books that I didn't really have anything to say about them were incredibly stressful to write "enough" words about them.  So from this point forward some of my reviews might be short and to the point while others will be more detailed.  I'm going to let the writing just come and not pressure myself to reach a specific word count.  I feel that this will be a good compromise between continuing with the reviews and not overwhelming myself with trying to become a wordsmith.

You may be wondering what I have read in the meantime since my last review. Well I've read twelve and a half books between May and June.  Eleven of those books you'll find  have a short review in the post, with a fuller review of the book Pandemic (The Extinction Files #1) by A.G. Riddle as my next "full length" review.  I hope you enjoy reading the mini-reviews.

Mini Book Reviews

#1) The Seventh Plague by James Rollins
A pandemic style story with ancient Egyptian origins.  The member of Sigma Force have to discover who is trying to unleash a plague straight out of the bible.  This isn't one of my favourite of the Sigma Force stories.  I've been finding that each story seems to be getting a little bit more and more ridiculous as  this series has been going on.  I also found that The Seventh Plague seemed to be action scene followed by action scene without a ton of character development.  This being the twelve book in the series (with a bunch of novellas too) I wonder if James Rollins is getting tired of Sigma Force.  I hope the next book is better.

2.5 Penguins

#2) Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez (translated from French into English by Mark Polizzotti)
The North American debut of Frank Thilliez will provide you with one of the best murder mysteries I've read.  The story starts off with an old-film connoisseur who ends up blind after viewing his most recent acquisition, an odd film from the 50's.  While his ex-girlfriend investigates his blindness, she discovers that the film is connected with 5 bodies that were recently discovered in the woods.  This murder-thriller is filled with shocking plot twist that will have you travelling from France to Canada, Egypt and Rwanda and keep you guessing right until the very last sentence and beyond.

5 Penguins

#3) Bred to Kill By Franck Thilliez (translated from French into English by Mark Polizzotti)
The sequel to Syndrome E.  While investigating the brutal animal attack of a graduate student, it is discovered that she was actually murdered.  The investigation leads us into the Alps only to discover that a thirty-thousand-year-old virus has been discovered and their are plans to unleash it on the world.    

Bred to Kill picks up about a year after the events in Syndrome E.  While the murder mystery of Bred to Kill isn't quite as gripping as Syndrome E, the personal development of the police detectives more than makes up for it.  I wish that I could either read French or that more of Franck Thilliez's novels were translated into English.

5 Penguins

#4) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The main idea behind American Gods are that gods exist because people believe in them.  American Gods centres around Shadow and his work as an errand boy for Mr. Wednesday.  

A cross between fantasy, fiction and ancient mythology American Gods is Neil Gaiman at his best.  It's a real shame that I just don't really like Neil Gaiman.  I read the book because the show was coming out and I wanted to see what it was all about.  For 3/4 of the book, I found it just barely interesting enough to keep reading and it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that I was final hooked.  This book took be 12 days to read, which may not seem like a lot to some, but when I finish a book on average every 2-3 days, this was an extremely long time for me.

1 Penguins

#5) Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson
This short novella is a science fiction detective mystery.   At some undetermined point in the future we gain the ability to produce a "snapshot" of the day.  An exact recreation of any given date.  Detectives use the snapshot to help solves murders.  

I really enjoyed this novella.  The idea of a snapshot was quite creative.  I'm not a huge fan of short stories or novellas because just as I'm really getting into them, the story is over.  I felt that Brandon Sanderson did an excellent job of balancing the shortness of Snapshot while still providing the details needed for me to enjoy.

4 Penguins

#6) The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Some point in the future, after a great tribulation, earths humanity only has a dim relocation of humanity before, a small village roots out "deviations" and destroys them as abominations.  The Cyrysalids focuses on one boy, who hides that he his a deviation.  

I enjoyed reading The Chrysalids.  This is one of the books that tends to be on the high-school syllabus, but I always had the English teacher that taught the "other" books on the syllabus, so I never read this in school.  I was entertained throughout, my only complaint being that the ending of the book seemed a little rushed and I would like to have know what happens afterwards.

4 Penguins

#7) Thrawn by Timothy Zhan
Grand Admiral Thrawn was first introduced in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire Series.  Now considered to be Legends and no longer cannon in the Star Wars world, many believe that it was this series and it's captivating antagonist that brought Star Wars back into mainstream and paved the way for the re-releases and prequels, and now an entire world of movies.  Disney was very smart to bring Grand Admiral Thrawn into Cannon and they were even smarter to have Timothy Zhan write Thrawn's history.  I grew up reading the now legends Star Wars novels, and while a lot of them were and are quite terrible stories, there were also a ton of them that were quite amazing, including the Heir to the Empire Series.  Thrawn is the first book in the new canon that I have really enjoyed.  It reintroduces us to the blue skinned, red eyed Chiss commander and documents his rise through the Galactic Empire to become a Grand Admiral.  If you've only ever seen the movies, you can easily read Thrawn and be captivated by this master of military strategy.  

4 Penguins

#8) Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson
The third and final book in the Reckoners Series by Brandon Sanderson, and my favourite of the three.  The professor has gone rogue and it's up to David and the rest of the Reckoners to save him from himself.  These stories are about the corruption that the people who've gained special powers have to face.  

I found the first two books in this series filled with a lot of teen angst, and if put me off reading the final book for a long time.  The teen angst is gone from this book which I was very relieved.  Overall, it's a good wrap-up for the series, although the ending and final climatic event felt a little rushed.

3.5 Penguins

#9) Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
During the late 1800's while the gold-rush towns are popping up everywhere, two rival palaeontologists, Marsh and Cope, are on the hunt for dinosaur fossils.  William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than common-sense makes a bet with one of his school-mates and finds himself in the West assisting on a dig.  When he is abandoned by the paranoid Marsh he joins forces with Cope and discovers a grave of huge historical significance.   With this find comes grave danger and his life is on the line.  

This is Michael Crichton at best, blending history, science and fiction flawlessly.  The palaeontologists, Marsh and Cope, are based of real people and the history of finding dinosaur fossils in the West are loosely true.  William Johnson is the fictional made up character that allows Crichton to blend history and fiction together in a cohesive story.  

4 Penguins

#10) Spin (Spin Saga #1) by Robert Charles Wilson
When the stars disappear, replaced by a black membrane, three friends will be forever changed once it's discovered that the black membrane has placed the Earth in a temporal stasis.  

With a cast of well developed characters, I was drawn into the story right from the get-go.  The narration takes place in both the past and present.  The present day narration takes some time before you understand what's going on and only until the past narration catches up do you fully get the scope of the story.  I very much enjoyed this science fiction story and at the time of writing this review I'm currently reading the second one in the series, Aixs.

5 Penguins

#11) Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn
Human Martian, Polly Newton, is sent to her with her brother Charles to the pretentious Galileo Academy on Earth.  While there Polly and Charles struggle to fit in with the privilege Earth teenagers as strange accidents start to happen.  

I really wanted to enjoy this story as it seemed very intriguing, a fish out of water type story, but I didn't.  I hated the main character, Polly.  I found her to be a whiny person filled with teen angst and never learned from her mistakes.  The story itself was well written though, which is why I was able to finish it and not give up half way through.

2 Penguins