Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cheap (or free) books on an extra long weekend.

So, I have found that I love free or cheap book deal posts! Here are several of the free or awesomely cheap books I have recently checked out or plan on checking out this weekend. The picture of the books lead to amazon links. (of which I am an affiliate just so you know) Most of these deals are set to last through memorial day weekend. After that most of them go back to their original prices so watch for that.
Currently at $0.99 as a promotion for the upcoming release for the sequel. I snatched this one up when I realized it was an YA urban fantasy a la Percy Jackson. Helen finds out she is a demi-god and cursed by the fates to replay the cycles the caused the Trojan War. I loved this book! I haven't stopped reading it since I downloaded it a week ago. Seriously, I'm on my second time through. Totally going to pick up the sequel. Best part it has the first three chapters of the next book at the back. Only .99 cents people! Snatch it while you can if you like retellings of Greek myths.

Bah Humbug by Heather Horrocks
This one caught my eye as I was browsing and it was free. So I decided what the heck? It is a cute little Christmas romance story and read it. The beginning is really funny and I enjoyed reading something short, but the book does end unnaturally fast. Unfortunately, the characterization feels a bit rushed in the whiplash ending. Still a clean romantic comedy for the holidays.

The Princess and the Horse by Mette Ivie Harrison
You can see my review of this book here.
Bid for Love by Rachel Ann Nunes
I read this book so long ago I almost don't remember anything about it. Still I am a fan of Nunes and so will pick this up this weekend when it goes free.

The Captain of Her Heart by Anita Stansfield
This book is also slated to go free this weekend! I also read this one a long time ago and I remember not liking it much. Alas, what can I say? It is a romance novel set during Revolutionary War ear. Don't expect much history though, it is very focused on the romance plot. Still if you are an Anita Stansfield fan or just like a good, basically clean romance this is worth checking out for free.

Witch Song by Amber Argyle
Also slated to go free this weekend also in preparation for the release of the sequel Witch Born. You can read my review of the book here.

C is For China by Robyn Chance
I haven't read this one but I am collecting free picture books in the kindle store in preparation for that long awaited day when I finally own an e-reader capable of showing them. So, I can astound and astonish my brood of squirming children at opportune times.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Hunter Chronicles: Return to Exile by E.J. Patten

The Hunter Chronicles: Return to Exile by E. J. Patten
"Eleven years ago, a shattered band of ancient monster hunters captured an unimaginable evil and Phineas T. Pimiscule rescued his nephew, Sky, from the wreckage of that great battle. For eleven years, Sky Weathers has studied traps, puzzles, science, and the secret lore of the Hunters of Legend believing it all a game. For eleven years, Sky and his family have hidden from dark enemies while, unbeknownst to Sky, his uncle Phineas sacrificed everything to protect them.

For eleven years, Sky Weathers has known nothing of that day.

But on the eve of Sky's twelfth birthday and his family's long-awaited return to the town of Exile, everything changes. Phineas has disappeared, and Sky finds himself forced to confront the mysterious secrets he's denied for so long: why did his family leave Exile on that day so long ago? What, exactly, has Phineas been preparing him for? And, the biggest mystery of all, who is Sky really and why does everyone want to kill him?!

Featuring an action-packed plot that covers the gamut of every monster you've never heard of (not to mention weird powers and weapons made out of garbage), Return to Exile is brimming with boy and girl appeal and is a gem for reluctant young readers. And, with a diverse assortment of well-aged monster hunters in the cast, this series will be a hit with adults young and old as well. Recommended for ages 9+." (jacket summary)
It took me a few chapters to get into this book as it seemed to follow the typical pattern of all middle grade fantasies. So, I slogged through the introduction chapters and realized that I liked Phineas, Sky’s quirky and strange uncle. When Phineas disappeared I thought that was also a typical and predictable part of middle grade fantasy. Then it became apparent that his disappearance meant that Sky and his family were in danger. They had only moved to their old town of Exile because of a truce arranged by Phineas, but now that he was gone Sky and his family had no promises of protection. Sky’s father sneaks out in the middle of the night to reason with the group of hunters that threatens the family safety, and Sky decides to follow him.
Sky discovers that the town of Exile holds all the answers to his Uncle’s riddles and stories over the years. That monsters really do exist because an entire pack of them nearly tear him limb from limb, but a rag tag team of teenagers save him at the last moment with innovative weapons made from garbage and serious scientific innovation. This is when the story started to get really fun for me. Sky makes friends with this monster fighting group, who aren’t associated with the hunters officially. Together they try to keep the monsters from harming others in the town and try to keep the prison that houses the Arkhon from failing.
 The prison exists on Phineas’ land and is set to fail very soon. The Arkhon is a  horrible monster that is greatly feared, but if he wasn't bad enough others of other monsters are also locked in the prison with him. If they escape the entire town will be ravaged and destroyed. Inside of all this threat and chaos lie the answers to why Sky’s family is in danger in the first place.
 This story is full of interesting and funny characters. I found the monsters to be unique and formidable foes. I got hooked into the story and really enjoyed the world. Sometimes it feels like the story has too much going on in a few of the ending scenes, but I still loved some of the major plot twists the author managed to pull off.  Overall, the book was a very enjoyable action-oriented fantasy read.   
Check out more about the series at E.J. Patten's Blog. He has trailers and even his own original song for the series under the extras tab.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More by I.C. Springman

More by I.C. Springman

A  little magpie is sad, but is given a marble by her friend the mouse. Pleased with  how the gift looks in his nest, magpie sets out to fill his nest with treasures. Whatever he finds he collects and brings home until his goods and nests multiply. Magpie soon has too much stuff! How is that possible? Read to find out.

A very unique picture book as it is very sparse on words, seeming to have the goal of teaching the concepts of more, less, and enough. This is a great picture book in that the art gives the text a whole other depth of story. The items on the pages are so detailed and repeat page after page so that the book almost feels like a casual eye-spy.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Princess and the Horse by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Princess and the Horse by Mette Ivie Harrison

Fierce has been an outcast in her pack ever since her mother left to be a human. As a hound she is fearless and one of the best hunters in her pack, and though she is not treated well by the others in the pack she loves the forest and her life as a hound. Then she is changed into a human by a princess looking for her precious horse. The wild magic that this princess wields so recklessly has endangered the balance of the world. Fissures form in the ground and from them come white worms that eat the life around them and then imitate it to cause destruction.
Fierce arrives at the nearest human residence to somehow make a life among humans. There she discovers Red, the boy who cares for the hounds. He wishes to learn the language of the hounds, and Fierce finds it comforting to spend time with the other hounds. As they form an acquaintance a woman comes to ask the Lord of the manor for help when the wandering princess turns her husband and daughter into animals. The Lord turns his back on her plea, but Fierce knows that this princess must be stopped and so she and Red go after her.
Convincing a spoiled princess to change her behavior is quite a challenge, as well as facing the worm creatures that are now traveling the forest and harming people. They must return them from the fissures they came from before they alter the world permanently, but such a task requires great cost from those that fight the substance. 
I am really loving the fact that authors are now independently putting up books in series that their publishers dropped, because it means I got to read another Princess/Hound book by Mette Harrison. The price recently went down to 99 cents, which is a total steal! I was so excited when the book went down to that price and snatched it up immediately. In fact, it is still at that price right now. If you are interested in the book at all you should consider picking it up while the price is still low.
I always find something that annoys me in these books, yet I always keep coming back to them because I really do love the voice of the series. This book also has that wonderful fairy tale feeling, and yet still feels substantive. The author often combines vivid emotions and profound views of human nature, but does it in a way  that comes naturally from the world and characters. It also has the interesting romance story that managed to feel the same, but still ended up having a twist that surprised me. For some reason I find the human changed into an animal or vice versa to be a very interesting romance trope in the series. The author managed to find so much tension and conflict in how such a dramatic change affects the characters and how that plays out in the romance plot line.
My complaint is that the world felt a little bit fuzzy to me. Some of the scenes felt odd in that I felt like the setting faded. A entire mob came into the forest to confront the Princess and the her entourage, but I wasn’t exactly sure how they all fit in between the trees enough to have the confrontation the author described. There were several other examples of that where I felt the author was so focused on telling the story she forgot the little background details that makes a story feel sharp and clear.
Despite that I still really enjoyed the book and really enjoyed the story and the characters. Totally worth reading if you are a fairy tale fiction fan.

Find out more about this series at Mette Ivie Harrison's Website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Desert Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke

Desert Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke
"Mystery…Adventure...Romance...Humor...Intrigue! When Julia’s brother announces that his dude ranch is haunted, she believes that someone is trying to sabotage his place and force him to sell. The mysterious happenings have to do with Superstition Mountain, the lost Dutchman’s goldmine, and the great Thunder God. Is it possible that the legend of the Thunder God is actually true? After a terrible thunderstorm, everyone begins to wonder. John and Julia quickly head to Mesa, Arizona and discover a few mysterious events. Will they find out who is behind these disasters before Uncle Kelly’s dude ranch is ruined?" (summary from amazon)
The author contacted me and asked that I review Desert Intrigue, which was a book that was part of a series. Overall, I wished that I had enjoyed this book a bit more, but struggled on account of the fact that the author’s style relied quite a bit on telling rather than showing. This problem affected every aspect of the book from description, dialogue, characterization, and plot.

I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, which may also have changed how I viewed some of the characters in the book. The twins for example didn’t do anything all the funny or mischievous except for give their uncle some oddly flavored jelly beans despite their huge reputation for trouble.  This characterization could have been an impression that author crafted carefully in other books in the series and not so much in this particular novel.

I had a hard time with the dialogue too, which I often found to be of the maid and butler variety and very info dumpy. The characters were also very repetitive about the whole thunder god plot line. I feel like the background for that whole sub plot was explained several times, and it started to feel a little repetitive.  A lot of the time the explanations of the thunder god background happened in very contrived ways that felt forced on the character by the author rather than feeling like a natural part of the story. This made it hard sometimes to get through large sections of the story.

Despite these problems, the author managed to make the ranch a fairly interesting setting and tell and decent mystery story in the process. I liked the twist that revealed the motivations of those wanting to destroy Kelly’s camp, and found that sequence of scenes to be pretty interesting. Overall, though I had a hard time enjoying most of the book on account of the writing style.  Althought Desert Intrigue also gets points for being a clean read.
visit Linda's website to find out about her other novels.