Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ringing in the New Year GIVEAWAY

Hi Everyone,

In order to celebrate another successful year of reading at Blood Rose Books, I have decided to have a blitz of a Giveaway. What better way to start the new year off than winning a book, sounds like a fun idea to me. This giveaway will be a winner's choice, but there is a catch, you need to choose a book that Blood Rose Books has reviewed in 2012. 

I am excited to see which book or books get the most hits. I hope everyone had a great 2012 and an amazing 2013. Good Luck and I look forward to hearing from you all in the New Year!!!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Amanda Kyle Williams: Stranger in the Room

This is the second book in Amanda Kyle Williams' Keye Street series. I think that you could read this as a standalone novel as there is not much related back to the first book, some of the relationships that Keye has and some of the previous events are mentioned but overall they do not affect the plot. However, I really enjoyed the first book The Stranger You Seek, so you may just want to pick it up for a good read. Williams picks up a few months after The Stranger You Seek, and Keye is still trying to comprehend and deal with what has happened to her, but she has bills to pay and White Trash needs to eat so she takes on more cases than she really should.

Everyone thinks that Miki is just off her Meds again and is seeing things, hearing noises; I mean Miki is an alcoholic and a drug user so why should anyone believe what she has to say. Good think that Miki has a fairly famous cousin, well famous for many of the wrong reason and Keye Street has been taught that she cannot say no to family. Miki is convinced that she is being stalked and wants Keye to figure out who especially when she claims there was someone in her house. APD Lieutenant Aaron Rauser also needs Keye's help when a thirteen year old boy is found strangle and he needs Keye's help with the profile. However, Keye also needs to pay the bills, so she has accepted a paying job investigating the contamination of cremated ashes, even though it sounds like the missing cow from the year before, but it pays the rent. With all of this going on Keye needs to keep her focus on all the cases if she has a hope of getting everyone out alive.

It took me awhile to get into this book. I am unsure why as I enjoyed the first novel, but for some reason this book was unable to grab my attention right off. I'm not sure if it was the flow, or the book picked up a little too far after the first (I believe it is a few months later) but the first few chapters in the book were unable to really grab onto me. However, once I got past this funk in the beginning I realized once again why I enjoyed the first book, Keye Street. Keye is a great character who is strong, cynical, witty and flawed, and well very real. Her struggle with addiction, her adoption and her relationships are what draws the reader in, and then watching her work on cases, while attempting to quell her need for a drink is fantastic.

Williams knows how to write characters, there is depth in all the characters that she has created, but the main focus is on Keye. I appreciate that Williams does not let Keye forget that she was an alcoholic, there is always that need for a drink and with job that Keye does there is a need and temptation constantly. I liked that Williams took the time to show more of how Keye struggled with her relationship with her mother and south and what it was like growing up as a Chinese child in the American South (and really shows how some people minds have not changes). I felt that the reader gets to know a lot more about Keye in this novel that the first novel, especially with the introduction to Keye's cousin Miki, who is a lot like Keye, even if she does not want to think that, but Miki is also things that Keye thinks that she could never achieve. 

I like that Williams has the intersection of two different lifestyles with Keye, the one where she helps Rauser out and the one where she does different types of private investigator work, in this case cement mix in urns instead of a family members ashes. Of course this is taking place in a small town and Keye in a small town you know that there are going to be some funny moments. I like that Williams uses the small town setting to add the humor and give the reader some relief from the intensity of her other cases. Some people may find the intersection of the two different cases to be a negative because it takes away for a while from the main plot, which is Miki’s stalker but what people do not realize, is that this is what most investigations are like. An officer, detective or private investigator will have multiple cases they are working on, and at times cases are put aside to work other. So yes, the main plot does take the back seat to the ashes investigation, but this just makes it more true to life. I personally liked the funeral investigation, more than the case that involved Keye's cousin Miki. I found that the funeral investigation was more interesting and involved more of Keye's detective work, than Miki's case, until later in the book. Additionally, the ashes investigation had everything that a reader is looking for, a mystery, some thrills and humor, it is just a nice change from the ordinary, and as I stated above, a nice change from the seriousness of the other cases.

Although I do not think that this book is as good as the first it is Keye as a character that will keep me coming back to Williams for more. As long as Williams keeps Keye as authentic and true to her character as possible I will always be back for more. If you are looking for a new up and coming thriller author to read, Amanda Kyle Williams is the author for you, as her books have everything you could want in a thriller read; Mystery, strong and interesting lead character and of course some thrills.


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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rhiannon Frater: The First Days

In the first novel in a zombie apocalypse series Rhiannon Frater explores what happens when two women are thrown together and the only way that they are similar is the need to survive.

It is the morning that the world ends, the dead are coming back to life, but the government is not willing to call it anything other than a bad case of Ebola. Katie a prosecutor was just getting for court when she is confronted with something that used to be her wife. Jenni who was only trying to protect her kids from her abusive husband now finds herself fleeing all her family. Thrown together by chance, these two women must face the new and every changing world together. They will need to fight and adapt in order to survive. But how long can a prosecutor and a suburban house wife last on the road with zombies chasing after them?

This book starts out with a very creepy beginning. All I could picture after I put the book down the first time were a child’s fingers under the door desperately trying to get out, trying to get to his mother, but he wasn't looking for a hug, well unless it was a blood and meat filled hug. This first scene is what draws the reader in and sets the expectations of the book. I will say for a horror aspect it never quite reaches this height again, but Frater already has you hooked, so she has done her job. This book has some interesting action scenes in it as Jenni and Katie attempt to find a safe place to live for even just one night. However, my favorite thing about zombie books, is to see how the author adapts the people within the book, and how it may not be the zombies that the characters should fear the most. I think that Frater did a great job showing how the zombie apocalypse affects people differently, people cope in different ways and then there are people who will take advantage of chaos situation. I believe that this is where Frater excelled within the book, as the overall story and action were slightly lack luster.

I am not a fan of Jenni as a character, she is too whiny and emotional for me, however, this is not to say that she is not a good character in a book, she is just a hard character to like. Jenni represents a different aspect of how people can change but also stay the same in a zombie apocalypse. She did not like her life before the zombies occurred she was planning on taking her children and leaving her abusive husband, but that choice was made for her. Now Jenni has a life where she may not be safe, but she does not have to worry about someone who supposedly loves her hurting her again, therefore, in a way her life has turned out for the better. However, due to the fact that she was in an abusive relationship so long it has shaped some of her thought processes, for example thinking that she can only fix things through sex. This also means that it takes a while for her to find her own inner strength instead of just relying on the people around her.

Katie was by far my favorite character within the book. She was a great mixture of hard and soft. She knows that she has to adapt in this new world to survive, but she is struggling with the fact that she was unable to kill her wife Lydia when she is turned into a zombie and this fact constantly haunts her. I did not like that the novel started with Katie portrayed as a lesbian, but enter in a good looking strong male character and Katie is all of a sudden bisexual, just seemed a little bit odd to me and Frater attempting to do something that was more towards the norm and that there was this need to have a relationship like this in the book. I did like that Katie and Travis do not have an instant sexual relationship. If that would have happen I would not have finished reading the book.

This book has a very different type of narration, which I could not figure out. The novel is never told from a character's point of view but there were points within the book where personal thoughts would be within the description of that was going on around the characters, but the reader never knew whose thoughts they were. Therefore, there were times when I did not know whose head I was in or if I was even in one of the character's head or was in the overseeing narrator’s thoughts, it was a little bit confusing at times. I took to thinking that I was in Katie's head, even if she was not there, as she was the character I liked the most within the book. I think this may have been just a rookie mistake for Frater, and I am interested in seeing if this may have changed in the next books in the series

Frater's book does not add anything new or different into the now ever popular zombie genre, so if you are looking for something new this book will not be for you. However, Frater does a good job in keeping with the classic zombie and drawing the reader in through her characters and their fight for survival. Overall, I would say this is a good read, and will appeal to most people who like the zombie genre.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Suzanne Collins: Catching Fire

By now most people know who Suzanne Collins is and that she has written The Hunger Games series, and yes I jumped on the band wagon of the movie and read the book before seeing the movie earlier this year. So most people now will know you will need to read the first book The Hunger Games, before picking this one up, or else you are a reader will be completely lost.

Katniss and Peeta have done the impossible; there have been two winners for the annual Hunger Games. They have defied the capital and everything that the Hunger Games stands for. But if Katniss thinks that things will return to normal once they return to district 12, she is completely wrong. Due to the fact that she has defied the Capital, the Capital now feels that she owes them, or else those she loves around her as well as the people in the district. Katniss represents something that all the districts have been looking for, hope. Hope for a time without the oppression of the Capital.

I believe I stated it when I reviewed the Hunger Games that this review is by an adult reading a YA book who does not read YA books on a regular basis. Therefore, there will be some childish things that occurred in the book that do annoy me. However, this is not to say that Collins was misguided in having these events, thoughts or actions, they work for a YA audience but I am writing my review more for adults who are still considering reading this book.

I did not enjoy part one of this book; it felt like this book was going to be a filler book. It felt that Collins wanted to make this a trilogy and she knew how she wanted to start and end, but was left within nothing for the middle. The book does begin to pick up about halfway through part two and part three. But I do not think that there were too many surprises or twists within the book that could not have been predicted. However, I did overall find the book enjoyable and it had moments where I needed to know what would happen next and I think that most people will see the book this way. I enjoyed the moments in the Quarter Quell and I thought that this is where Collins' creativity excels. Collins is able to write a story that will keep people entertained, whether you are a youth or adult, but I think an adult reader will have more issues with the story, characters and grammar than a youth will.

I did not enjoy Katniss’ as a character in this book. There were times in the Hunger Games where I was able to relate to her, but I think this was due to the fact that she was on her own, and she did not have to interact with other characters. Interaction with people outside of  Gale, Katniss struggles to the point where even the reader is unable to relate to her. I also found that Collins portrayed Katniss as not as smart in the Hunger Games. I do not know if this was due to the fact that Katniss was out of her element of hunting (but surely she can be good at more than one thing) but it appeared to me that she left all the difficult decision and speaking to Peeta or Gale or Haymitch, really anyone else other that Katniss. Katniss also all of a sudden became a naive girl who is not aware of what was occurring around her and really was only concerned about herself. I just feel that Katniss took a step back in maturity and development in this book. Additionally, I disliked that there is a love triangle. While I do not read too many YA books, I know enough about the popular YA books out there to know that this seems to be a growing trend. Do girls need to have two guys wanting her attention to be happy? No, I don’t think so, but I do not understand why YA authors seem to think so and I personally think that it sets a bad example.

Additionally, as an adult I noticed that there are several instances of poor sentence structure, and use of periods (and I am no way stating that my writing style is perfect, far from I assure you). While this does annoy me somewhat in regular book, I think the fact that this is a young adult book which is typically read by young adults who are developing these skills it sets a bad example for them. If an experienced and published author writes this way it must be right, so why can't they as well? 

Overall, this is a fairly good read if you are able to get past some of the negatives I pointed out above. There were points within this book that were enjoyable and felt like Collins was getting back to her stride of the Hunger Games; it was just a shame that it took about half of the book to get there. I think once you have made it this far in the series you feel compelled to read the next novel and I will read it eventually to see how everything ends.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Brett Battles: The Cleaner

In his debut novel Brett Battles introduces the reader a cleaner, nothing too violent, just cleaning up a body or two if necessary, but even a cleaner has to get his hands dirty every once in awhile

Jonathan Quinn, does not have a violent career, but it often does involve dead bodies and a little clean up when needed. So when he is requested by "the Office" to make sure that everything cleans up nicely when a body is discovered in a fire, Quinn believes it is just another regular case. But Quinn would not be good at his job if he was not thorough and ask the right questions. When his handler at the Office, suddenly won’t answer his questions, he knows that this is more than just a simple cleaning job. Quinn knows he must have been asking the right questions, as he is suddenly on someone's death list and his only hope is to get some help from the past but this will put even more people in danger. It may have started out as a simple cleaning job, but now Quinn is going to need to get his hands really dirty in order to keep himself and others around him alive.

I was surprised to find out that this was Battles’ debut novel; this book had all the aspects I would expect from a seasoned writer. I really enjoyed this book. It had an interesting story, that was able to keep me entertained throughout and never let me down with being too cliché or predictable. Battles did a really good job of keeping me on my toes as you were never really sure what was going to happen next. Battles does a good job in keeping his novel fast pace as there was very little down time for Quinn, therefore, it was the same for the reader. This also causes you not to want to put the book down as there never seems to be a right time for that, which is I think is quite a complement for any writer, you just want to get through the next few pages or chapter and all of sudden you have not gotten anything done that day except read a book (sounds like a good day to me though).

The book is centered around Quinn when he is already well versed in the cleaning business.  I like that Battles took some time for backstory of other jobs that Quinn has done as well as show some of the relationships that he has been forced to call on in this novel. He also takes the time to explain how and why Quinn got into the cleaning business. I appreciate the backstory as it lets the reader get to know Quinn better. I know that some readers do not like flash backs within novels as they can distract from the story that is currently happening, however, I think that the back flashes that Battles chose to show in The Cleaner were needed and well placed within the book, that they did not disrupt the flow of the book and actually enhanced the story.

I really like Quinn as a character. He is strong, likes to stay in the background and as a cleaner but is not afraid to get his hands dirty. He is cool under pressure, but I think that Battles did a good job in balancing his tough guy persona with his personal feeling for Orlando. He was also able to counteract the seriousness of Quinn’s personality with his interaction with his apprentice Nate. I think Quinn's character has the ability to appeal to lots of different individuals as you are able to see both sides of him

Fans of action adventure novels with a "government agency" twist will enjoy this book by Battles. I found this book fast paced, well written and an interesting plot that will keep you from putting this book down. I look forward to reading another book by Battles.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Devon Monk: Magic to the Bone

In the first of a series revolving around magic Devon Monk shows that using magic is not all it is cracked up to be: 

Using magic has its price and every spell will exact its price from the user, but with the discovery and commercialization of magic, people have discovered a way to offload this price onto unsuspecting and innocent individuals. This is how Allie Beckstorm makes her living. She is a Hound and has the ability to track the magic back to the person who has offloaded it. Allie is summoned to the St. Johns part of town where an offload has taken hold of a young boy and Allie is determined to find the perpetrator. When the Hound leads back to Allie's father she is not surprised and has vowed that he will pay. What Allie does not know if that this was not a one time thing and this Hound back to her father will throw her back into the world of Black Magic that she has tried to hard to get away from and this time being around black magic will exact a fatal price.

I enjoyed Monk's take on magic, it was interesting, and slightly different from other magic based novels I have read. I especially liked that there were magic free areas around the world, where if people wanted to they could live a life free from magic. I also liked Monk's forethought on how the use of magic could be commercialized, utilized and sold as a product, very capitalist of her and to me very interesting as well as beyond the more typical idea of just paying people to perform magic (which does still happen in the book). Now there were magic companies where they made expensive clothing or homes or anything commercial I am sure one could think of. It was also interesting that when you use magic there is always a consequence for the magic that the person has used. Everything from a head ach to bruises to death, magic will always exact it's price.

Allie is portrayed a street smart woman, even though she came from a well off family, but seven years away from that life has really shaped her. I found it interesting that magic's side affect for Allie is different from other people and that she looses pieces of her memory. Therefore, she is forced to write down her notes in a book that she always keeps with her (think of the movie Memento, but not as extreme, great movie by the way). I wonder what would happen if her note book was to go missing, how much of her life would she forget or has forgotten. However, I did not like that Monk decided to have one of those instant romances in the book. As soon as Allie met Zayvion, she needed him and wanted him in a span of a few minutes. Allie, who had been independent for most part of her life now, needed someone else there, to help her through everything. I just felt that this contradicted the character that Monk had created at the beginning of the book.

Zayvion himself is an interesting character and I wonder of his power and his love for the Pine smell. This it the only book I have read in this series so immediately I think he has some sort of werewolf roots, but there is nothing to completely support this theory in the book. I’m not 100% sure yet that I like Zayvion as a character, his handling of certain events did not make him my favorite character, but he is an interesting character nonetheless

This book was okay for me, as I found it sided more with the paranormal romance genre than just paranormal. I do think that Monk was able to create some interesting twists in the use of magic and I did like the interaction between magic, technology and commercialization, however, I do not know if that is enough to bring me back to this series. I found that this novel was lacking action sequences that I personally enjoy in novels as well as a lack of mystery. I believe you are able to figure things out fairly early in the book and are waiting for the main character to catch up to you. I think if you are a fan of paranormal romance you will enjoy this book and probably this series, but if you are like me and like things on the darker side and less romance, you will probably want to skip this one. So we’ll see, I may pick up the next book, just not too sure yet as I have so many other books to read. I’ll have to check out some reviews of the second book to help me make up my mind


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jennifer Estep: Web of Lies

This is the second book in Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series. You will need to read the first book in this series Spider's Bite, as it shows the development of Gin's character, relationship and the powers that she has.

In the second book Estep explores what happens when the Assassin the Spider decides to retire.

She was one of the most feared assassins in the world, known only as the Spider to those who would seek her skills or by those who want to hunt her down. But now she has decided to retire based upon the advice of her murdered handler, she is giving the normal life running the Pork Pit a try. Gin should have known that there could never be a normal life for a former assassin especially when running a money making establishment. Not only has Gin had to deal with would be robbery (in which one of  the robbers turns out to be the son of wealthy high up elemental in the city) but also gun shots into her establishment which were meant for a rather unassuming young woman, Violent Fox. Gin never likes to see the innocent harmed therefore; she offers her bodyguard and detective duties to Violent and her grandfather. With the shots raining down on them and some pushy high up elementals that Gin feels need to get taken care of, Gin begins to wonder if retirement really will be the thing that kills her.

I really enjoy Estep's Elemental Assassin series. Even though I am only two books into the series, I think that Estep has created a unique set of characters, world and plot, but yet is able to keep the basics of what makes the paranormal genre interesting and what keeps readers coming back for more. This is a really good follow up book to the first book, and I think that by having a strong second book, Estep is setting a great tone for the rest of the series (I find that there are many times when the second book does not live up even close to the first book, this one is right up there). Estep has a great gift for having the ability to mix action (and there is quite a bit of that in this book which I loved), mystery, romance and paranormal elements which helps keep a reader interested throughout the book. I think that due to the fact that Estep is able to achieve this mixture she will appeal to larger variety and range of readers. Estep would also be a safer choice for those who want to try out the paranormal genre because the world that she has created is not too different from our own, as well as the powers that the elementals possess are not too far out there. They are controlling elements which I think that people are able to easily comprehend (I may be dating myself here, but think of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and who didn’t love that show a child)

I really like Gin as a character. She tells it like it is and at times she may come out as harsh, but she does consider all options, just the most likely answer for Gin is just to kill the person. I really like the progression of all of Gin's relationships within this book both the both good and evil ones. Although some of the characters and readers may not think it, Gin is actually very smart and analyzes each situation as to decide whether she should reveal and use her abilities that she had developed as the Spider or play the dumb blonde that many think she is. I think this is a true warrior ability, to not only pick and choose your battles but to be very particular about who and what your show even you allies.

I wonder how much longer Gin will be able to keep off Mab's radar. I think it will be very interesting and I cannot wait for the day that Gin is able to do some damage to Mab as this seems to be a constant theme within the book, as well as the mystery behind Gin's missing and possible alive sister. I think it is this eventual duel that I will cause me to continue to read this series and cannot wait to get my hands on Venom.


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