Thursday, July 28, 2011

Demonglass Leaves Quite A Mark

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous book, Hex Hall, or don't mind knowing some spoilers for it. Demonglass, however, will remain spoiler-free.

Hex Hall
Book 2
By Rachel Hawkins
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Okay, so last semester at Hex Hall didn't go as well as Sophie had hoped. Between her major crush, Archer trying to kill her, her great-grandmother killing her best frienemy, and finding out she's actually a demon, there's nothing else Sophie can think of that could make her life suck even more. Well, except maybe finding out that she could snap and kill everyone around her without warning. Yeah, that'll just about do it.

The good news is there's a way to remove the danger entirely. The bad news is it would take away her powers and quite possibly probably kill her.

Determined not to be a danger, Sophie travels to England with her father (demon), her best friend (vampire), and her betrothed (warloc—wait, WHAT?!) to go through with the Removal. But once she arrives, she's met with shocking news that puts her plans on hold. With newly-made demons mysteriously appearing, The Eye increasing their attacks against Prodigium, and nearby Archer sightings, who would have thought the Removal would be the least of her worries?

(For an even more tantalizing summary/hook, check out the description from the UK version.)

Before I get started, I've got a quick cover complaint: The cat's still there. Um...why? Didn't we already establish in the last book that there are no cats? Okay, fine, it's cute and sorta points to witches. So maybe a stranger looking at the cover would get clued in that it's about that any reason to keep taunting those who are reading the books? Oh, and don't ask me the significance of the reflection, since I'm pretty certain the only nice dress Sophie ever wears is black. Complaints aside, it's still a gorgeous cover.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge

Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge 2011 Hosted By The Shady Glade

Yep, I've delved into insanity at last. I've decided to dedicate the next 3 months to one of my all-time favorite authors. Some of you followers will probably remember my various gushings about her in my reviews, Top Ten Tuesdays, or my post about her visit last October. So I think I'll let the challenge host explain what this particular insanity is all about:
So why this challenge? Well, Tamora Pierce is one of my all-time favorite authors, and she has a new book coming out October 25: Mastiff, the last book in the Beka Cooper trilogy. To celebrate, from now until October 31 I'm going to reread all of the Tamora Pierce books!

So I thought it would be fun to have others join me. I know I'm not the only one out there who's a Tamora Pierce fan, after all. So set a goal to finish a set, or re-read your favorite. And if you haven't tried her books yet, maybe you want to give them a try? She has 27 "full" books currently published, not including books that she's edited, contributed a short story to, or her comic book series for adults. So there's a little something for everyone out there.

This reading challenge is totally low pressure. You can set a goal as big or as little as you want. Choose your challenge from the list below. Some of her books are quite small and quick to finish, while others are more hefty. So pick a goal you think you can reach:

Page - A good start for beginners. Complete 1-4 books
Squire - For those ready for the next level, complete 5-8 books
Knight/Lady Knight - A steady challenge at halfway, complete 9-14 books
Duke/Duchess - For serious fans, complete 15-20 books
King/Queen - This level is for serious fans, and comes complete with a royal title, complete 21-26 books
Emperor/Empress - For diehard fans, think you can finish all 27 books?
~ Alyssa @ The Shady Glade

As for myself, I'm insane enough to attempt the Empress Level and will be reviewing all the books from now up until I receive a copy of Mastiff from the library (hopefully one of the first - I'm only 8th in queue!).
Tamora Pierce Series Collection Book Shelf 2011
That's right, I'm tackling my entire shelf of Tamora Pierce, plus little help from the library. Really, I'm only 'missing' 3 books...and by missing, I mean haven't bought because they're not in Mass Market Paperback. Yes, I'm anal like that.

Anyway, here's my planned order for the challenge:

Circle of Magic Quartet
1. Sandry's Book
2. Tris's Book
3. Daja's Book
4. Briar's Book
The Circle Opens Quartet
5. Magic Steps
6. Street Magic
7. Cold Fire
8. Shatterglass
The Circle Reforged Novels
9. The Will of the Empress
10. Melting Stones
Song of the Lioness Quartet (Alanna)
11. Alanna: The First Adventure
12. In the Hand of the Goddess
13. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
14. Lioness Rampant
The Immortals Quartet (Daine)
15. Wild Magic
16. Wolf-Speaker
17. Emperor Mage
18. The Realms of the Gods
Protector of the Small Quartet (Kel)
19. First Test
20. Page
21. Squire
22. Lady Knight
Trickster Duet (Aly)
23. Trickster's Choice
24. Trickster's Queen

Short Story Collection
25. Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

Tortall (Past)
Provost's Dog / Beka Cooper Trilogy
26. Terrier
27. Bloodhound
Of course, my insanity wouldn't be complete without me trying to set an impossible challenge for myself BESIDES 27 books in 3 months... So, I'll be trying to clean out my pending-review list before tackling the Pierce challenge. I'm hoping to get everything (10 books) read and reviewed by August 5th.

I suppose I could try pushing it back another week...but that's going to make it tough to take that week off in September for my Flordia vacation. Ah well, we'll see what happens. In any case, be on the lookout for a slew of reviews coming your way!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Most People Just Say Hex

Hex Hall
~Hex Hall~
Hex Hall
Book 1
By Rachel Hawkins

Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Life can be a real Witch sometimes. Well, at least that's what 16 year-old Sophie Mercer thinks after she gets the news about her latest mess-up.

It was supposed to be a simple love spell—nothing should have gone wrong. Of course, that's what Sophie thought all the other times she tried using her powers. You'd think that after three years and umpteen forced re-locations she'd have learned her lesson. Good thing there's a school for that.

Hectate Hall—a reform school for shapeshifter, witch, and faerie kids who don't know how to lay low (you know, since humans tend to be a bit jumpy around magic). And if reform school is as great as it sounds, Sophie's got a lot to look forward to. I mean, who wouldn't want three of the most powerful students as enemies, a creepy ghost as a stalker, or the most hated kid in school (who happens to be a vampire) as a roommate?

Let's hope there's a class on surviving reform school...

If I may, I'd like to start off by asking kind of a strange question... Does anyone else remember that Disney Channel movie series, Halloweentown that aired in the late 90's, early 00's? The main story was about Marnie Piper/Cromwell and her journey towards finding her magical powers while working to save this magical dimension (Halloweentown) and it's monster/mythical creature inhabitants. My favorites of the series were definitely the third and fourth movies:
Halloweentown High was about trying to integrate the Halloweentown teens (werewolves, trolls, fairies, etc.) with regular humans through an exchange student program. When the Knights of the Iron Dagger, a group dedicated to the elimination of monsters, resurfaces and threatens the teens, it's up to Marnie and her family to keep the students safe, or lose their magic.
Return to Halloweentown has Marnie choosing to attend Witch University, which for the first year is allowing non-witches/warlocks to attend. But the new admission policy doesn't exactly have everyone jumping for joy, and Marnie's soon caught up in a conspiracy that could change the inhabitants of Halloweentown forever.
Okay, I know what you're thinking... Why the huge explanation of this movie series in the middle of your Hex Hall review? Well, in reading Hex Hall, I couldn't help but compare it to these Halloweentown movies:
  • Main character is a teenage witch in the process of discovering her powers
  • She has a mysterious, magically powerful family member
  • There is a dangerous Order out to kill non-humans
  • She is attending a school specifically for witches and non-humans
  • Heroine takes it upon herself to solve the problem
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the similarities at all. I always liked the Halloweentown movies, but I always wanted more. More mystery, more drama, more danger, more character angst—and I was younger than the main character! With Hex Hall, I felt like it was a nostalgic trip back...but this time it was better!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ushers Are Hot!

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Ushers, Inc.

When the streets are full of bloodsuckers, werewolves, zombies and ghouls, where will you turn? The cops don't know how to stop them, the Army's pretty much given up and even the Marines are stumped when their bullets and grenades fail to stop the onslaught.

Have no fear, Ushers, Inc. is here! Four high school movie ushers, who collectively have seen over 42,000 hours of B- and C-horror movies know just what to do.

Did you know copper pennies can stop a zombie in its tracks? Did you know garlic paste is twice as effective on vampires as garlic cloves? Did you know werewolves are absolutely petrified of seeing a Hershey's kiss? Abby Cooper, Head Usher, does.

So, when it's the monsters versus the monster hunters, who you gonna call?  Ushers, Inc., that's who!

First tip: Don't read the prologue if you don't want spoilers! Yes, it offers a cute little preview of the fun and excitement that is to come, but it also reveals the outcome of the final chapter. So, trust me on this one, just start on chapter one and if you're not instantly hooked, just wait until chapter four—that's when the real action starts.

And by action, I mean the most hilarious, cheesy, B-movie antics you ever could have dreamed up. Fans of the SAW franchise should shop somewhere else, because this horror is more akin to that of Fright Night, Big Wolf on Campus, or the original Night of the Living Dead. Not that the stakes aren't just as high for these characters—no one wants to be a werewolf's next snack—but let's say that the suspense, monsters, and gore are kept to a B-movie budget and thus Ushers, Inc. is pretty kid-friendly.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

We’re Referring to this Affected Dimension as Solidity

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Solid Trilogy
Book 1
By Shelley Workinger
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks
Series Website

Clio (Calliope) Kaid thought everything was normal. Well, as normal as having a famous writer for a mom could be. But between the moving around the country and changing schools every year, everything else seemed to be pretty clear cut.

That's when the government tells her that she was involved in an unauthorized genetic experiment, and that she's to report to a secure location, along with 99 other teens, so that they can help with any abnormalities caused by this alteration.

So it's off to a new school once again. At least this time she'll be a freak among freaks, right? Nothing like sharing an unknown deformity to bring about teen bonding. And she'll need those bonds if she's going to get to the bottom of a conspiracy on the compound. One that might even date back to before she was born...