Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - , No comments

The Dream Thieves:

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Version: Harback and NetGalley eBook
Author: Maggie Stiefvater

GoodReads Summary:
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

After finishing The Raven Boys, I felt like it took forever to get my hands on a copy of The Dream Thieves. Yes, I had high expectations and Maggie Stiefvater did not disappoint and because of this, she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

The story picks up two months after Adam wakes the Cabeswater ley line. As far as Gansey, he is still obsessed with finding Glendower, Blue is still the only non-psychic in her family, Noah is still dead, Adam is still slowly loosing himself, and Blue’s family is still a bit quirky.  However, one character changed dramatically, and that was Ronan. I won’t go in-depth because I would hate to spoil the story, but you slowly discover that he’s not the complete jerk you may of thought he was. In fact, much of the story centers on Ronan, a boy who from his dreams, can create reality.

Ronan is the only Greywaren but Kavinsky also possesses the same ability. In fact, it’s Kavinsky that helps hone Ronan’s gift. I’m not exactly sure where Kavinsky’s rage comes from or why he’s out to cause chaos, – much like the joker from Batman – but it would have been nice to know why. When these boys pull objects from their dreams it draws on the ley lines energy and causes a detectable spike. The spike is what leads men hired to hunt the Greywaren to Henrietta.

Spoiler Alert :
It’s hard to describe what I want to say without spoiling parts of the book, but here it is. Personally, I’m glad the romance between Adam and Blue ended, because Adam comes across as weak and annoying. Blue finally came to terms with her attraction towards Gansey and I think it’s time they take the risk. Also, I was a bit shocked that Maura fell for Mr. Grey. I saw it coming after their first encounter, but it was definitely not one of my pre-reading predictions.

I have mixed emotions about the ending for several reasons. First, Mr. Grey is terrified of his older brother and he passes that on to the reader, but when they meet the ending is simple and abrupt. I was expecting more. Secondly, even though I’m glad Kaminski is out of the story, I feel that something was missing. Lastly, I liked the cliffhangers, but dislike the fact that book three is nowhere near being released, but that ones on me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Guest Post: Jack Croxall

Hello everyone! I'm happy to bring you a guest post from author Jack Croxall, where he describes both his love for Halloween and the inspiration behind his new book entitled "X". For your reading pleasure, Mr. Croxall has graciously provided an excerpt. Be sure to check out his new book on Amazon and feel free to ask any questions you may have below. 

Guest Post: Jack Croxall:
I love Halloween. Not just because of the fancy dress and mischievous hijinks, but because of all the spooky stories that rear their creepy heads to give us goose bumps, shudders and, most importantly, that little something extra to think about. A gory supernatural horror is all well and good, but I find a spooky tale is all the more unsettling if it is driven by something real; by a theme or character we can relate to, or even by a situation we recognise from real life.

Throughout the beginning of this year, I’d been mulling a horror story over in my mind constantly. I had a character, a claustrophobic setting and an unforgiving menace, but no actual theme – no real point to the story. Luckily though, I got one idea and just ran with it. That true-to-life idea turned out to be the very thing that gave the story meaning, and turned it into a tale worth telling. 

Title: X
Author: Jack Croxall

Fifteen-year-old X thinks she is going to die. Shacked up in the cellar of an old farmhouse, she starts a journal to document her last few days. Much less than a few days if the things outside manage to get in.

I spend all of my daylight hours in this musty old cellar now. It’s woeful, and I bet it smelled this bad even before everything turned to crap. Great. My second sentence and I’ve already resorted to swear words. When I decided I’d start this diary (five minutes ago) I thought it would be my poetic and deeply-moving goodbye to the world. Maybe I’d write about love and loss, or maybe even the splendour of nature. Then, if anyone ever found it, at least I’d have left something to be remembered by. As well as my corpse, of course.

This was a bad idea.

OK I’m an idiot. There’s nothing else I can do down here; I’ve rooted through every cardboard box a hundred times, organised and reorganised my supplies until I can recite the labels on the cans by heart, and even built a fort. So, I’m back. Hello. Again.

God this diary is going badly.

But there’s just enough light coming in through the boards I nailed over the cellar’s tiny window to write by. So I may as well. Stops me constantly staring up at the window waiting for a shadow to pass by.

Where to start? Well, my name is – actually, I think I’m going to refer to myself as X. That sounds mysterious. If you’re reading this and want to know my real name, I still carry my purse. Stupid I know. But my railcard is in there and, if you really want to know who I am, go find me and fish it out. I won’t bite.

A best-selling short story, X is available through Amazon UK and Amazon US now.
 Much more info at www.jackcroxall.co.uk

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - , , No comments

Witches and Wizards:

Rating: 3 Stars
Version: Hardback
Authors: Anton and Mina Adams

The full title is "The Learned Arts of Witches & Wizards: History and Traditions of White Magic", but I've shortened it to "Witches and Wizards" for convenience. 

For most of us the practice of witchcraft and the terms 'witch' and 'wizard' are shrouded in myths and mystic rites. Here is a visual almanac that lifts the veil on the story of witchery. This elegant book offers a concise, accessible history of witches and sorcery and also provides a fascinating insight into the world of magic - sacred places, power spots, magic sites, and ways to reconnect with nature through rituals and practices. Lushly illustrated with pictures drawn from medieval to contemporary sources, this beautiful compendium is an informative guide to the history, traditions, and ways of witches and wizards.

I decided to pick this nifty little book up at my local bookstore, to provide a “nonfiction” perspective on the Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge. I didn’t go looking for a book on magic… it just caught my eye as I was perusing the stacks. Not to mention, it was hard to miss with the reflective lettering and colorful design. Seriously, if you’re ever in a bookstore, look for this book. When you find it, check out the pages and layout. I think you’ll see what I’m talking about.

As for the book, it was both very brief and informative, but at times I thought it was trying to test my impartiality. This is the particularly reason I placed nonfiction in quotations, because some sections seemed overly fantastical. Please keep in mind that I’m in no way trying to discredit the authors or their beliefs, just simply stating my honest opinion. Also, I noticed the reviews on GoodReads and Amazon were both lacking in numbers and slightly low on ratings. For example,
GoodReads: 38 Ratings, 3 Reviews
Amazon 6 Ratings, 6 Reviews
This combination of low ratings and reviews, coupled with the first review I saw entitled “The first book on the Craft I ever read, but not very accurate is some areas” did not help enforce this book’s credentials.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the connection between chapters of this book and topics from some of my favorite YA books. For example, “Witches and Wizards” provided a brief run-through of ley lines and ley centers, which can be found in “The Raven Cycle” by Maggie Stieffvater. It also provided an overview of the Egyptian gods that’s key in Michael Scott’s “The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” series. Other topics of this book touched on real world applications such as breathing exercises and meditation techniques, a few of which I’ve seen in fitness training sessions.

Overall, this book helped quench my curiosity, but I couldn’t take it too seriously.  I think it was a timely selection seeing that Halloween is nearing!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013 - , , , No comments

Witch Eyes

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Version: Paperback
Author: Scott Tracey

 Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.

Have you ever had a book that’s call to you, one that would beckon you to pick it up while browsing a library or a bookstore? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. At the time, I was in the middle of another book, but I kept finding myself yearning to read Witch Eyes. Perhaps, this is why I found the book so…  disappointing. I had put so much hype on the story that it ultimately let me down. There was just so much potential and I feel that the book didn't come close to matching it.

Braden is the story’s main character. His mother died when he was born and his father left –abandoned- him with his uncle. Braden has a special ability, not only is he a witch, but he also has “witch eyes”. This trait is extremely rare and only one other person is credited with possessing the same ability. However, as with most things, his abilities come with a price. Braden must always wear sunglasses, not only to hide his eyes, but to also filter out the influx of incoming information. He doesn’t know the precise limits of his ability, but he knows that he can instantly unravel and comprehend spells; see past memories of locations; trace magic; and get an occasional visions. When Braden decides to use the witch eyes, he must always keep in mind the consequences, because the longer he uses them, the more sever the pain. For example, a few minutes can lead to a migraine, but any longer can lead to unconsciousness. A turn of events leads Braden to Belle Dam, a city where a centries old magical war - not un-similar to a modern Hatfields versus the McCoys – is brewing. Due to his extreme ability, both sides desire him. Yet, extreme circumstances inhibit him from choosing – It would spoil the story to explain what these are.

In my opinion, the ending was horrible. You would think the concluding battle between a witch and a demon would be climatic, but it wasn’t. Skip the power struggle, there was none; it ended with a gunshot, albeit a very unusual gunshot.

I decided to give it week, read another book, and then look into purchasing the sequel: Demon Eyes. However, the summary didn’t seem to continue on from book one. For instance, the summary states: “After destroying the demon …”, but wait… did he? After a bit of thought, I realized I had literally forgotten the ending. I guess the thought of a witch “destroying” a demon by gunshot didn’t register. The reason I included my lapse of memory is to provide a gage of how unremarkable the ending was for me. Ultimately, I feel this book did provided entertainment, but failed miserably with living up to its potential.