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The Thickety: A Path Begins
The Thickety: A Path Begins
by J. A. White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.04
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Thickety: A Path Begins, September 3, 2014
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THE THICKETY: A PATH BEGINS is intended as a middle grade book: ages 10 and up, grades 5 and up. I know my younger self could have handled this book -- there’s a lot of horror and some graphic imagery -- but it might not be suitable for all younger readers. If in doubt, read the Prologue as that should give a hint as to some of the content of the book.

After her mother is killed on suspicions of witchcraft, Kara, her brother, and her father are the village’s outcasts. Everyone talks about Kara behind her back. The ruler’s daughter, Grace, makes it her special mission to torment Kara while making it look like Kara is the one bullying her. Kara’s father lives in a depressed stupor, unable to take care of his children the way a father should. Kara’s brother, Taff, is sickly. It’s up to Kara to support the family, and that’s a lot for a twelve-year-old to deal with.

That’s where I had trouble with THE THICKETY. I can suspend disbelief about all sorts of things, but I had a really hard time believing Kara was only twelve. Yes, everything she went through made her old for her years, but still. She read like sixteen or seventeen to me, not twelve. In fact, I forgot how old she was until the author reminded me, and I sat there for a moment, kinda stunned.

The things I liked most about THE THICKETY are the magic system and the author’s writing style. I thought using grimoires to power a witch’s magic was neat, and it fit into the world. The author’s writing style sucked me into the story, keeping me reading until I finished the book. At almost 500 pages, I do think THE THICKETY is a bit too long, but it does read quickly. I also liked the chapter heading illustrations; I normally don’t notice artwork, but I did here. They helped me get into Kara’s world.

The ending of THE THICKETY, oh that ending! It’s one that will make you want the sequel *now.* There’s a twist didn’t see it coming, which I always like. However, I do wish that Kara had actually spent more time in the Thickety. Based on the title of the book, and the way the villagers avoid the Thickety, I assumed that it would play a bigger role. The glimpses of the Thickety made me want more. Kara’s village is interesting too, a sort of utopia that’s determined to prove witchcraft is wrong. Again, something I wished there had been more of.

Overall, THE THICKETY was okay for me. I think it might be a bit dark for the intended age group, but I’m not the best person to judge that. It’s a good start to a series, enough to make me want more, but it just wasn’t an amazing book for me.

I Become Shadow
I Become Shadow
by Joe Shine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.71
52 used & new from $4.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Become Shadow, September 3, 2014
This review is from: I Become Shadow (Hardcover)
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You know how most fourteen-year-olds stress about high school? Ren doesn’t have to worry about that for long, because she’s abducted by F.A.T.E., a secret organization that protects the world’s future important people. Instead of worrying about boys, popularity, grades, etc., Ren’s worried about making it through training alive. Most kids taken by F.A.T.E. don’t make it, which is no shock, considering the classes include weapons training with live rounds, beating the stuffing out of each other, and a nightly injection that kills all the nerves in your body.

I BECOME SHADOW starts off slowly and with some backpedaling, because Ren fills the reader in on her normal life before being taken. If you’re confused at the start, keep going and things will eventually make sense. Ren has a unique voice, one I think readers will either like or dislike. She’s sarcastic, mouthy, no-nonsense, and cocky, but sometimes she’s also “woe is me.” Most of the time I liked her narration, but once in a while it did feel like the author was trying too hard.

After Ren starts training and then once she gets her assignment, the book is full of action. I thought the author did a good job writing the action scenes; sometimes I skim them because they’re boring or hard to picture. That wasn’t the case here.

I BECOME SHADOW was almost a really good book for me. There are some great ideas, including F.A.T.E. and its mission. When Ren graduates training, she’s linked to the person she’ll spend the rest of her life protecting. The process makes it almost painful for her to be away from him, and if he’s in danger? Forget about it. She’s supposed to stay in the shadows, but I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying she breaks the rules.

Then we get into the parts of the book that didn’t work out so well for me. Ren starts to have feelings for Gareth, the kid she protects, but are they real or a byproduct of the link? At the same time, she’s pining for Junie, a guy she went through training with. I believed in Ren and Junie’s friendship, but not their romantic feelings for each other. I really wish the author would have kept it as a friendship rather than try to add romance. Because apparently all YA books need romance. Not.

The end of I BECOME SHADOW also felt rushed. A lot of the book is spent on training time, and then some with Ren on the job protecting Gareth. Then the big climax, and boom, the book’s over. When I finished I BECOME SHADOW, I had quite a few questions about F.A.T.E. and Shadows and other things. I’m guessing there will be a sequel or two to flesh things out? I don’t know for sure.

Overall, I BECOME SHADOW is strong in the action and sarcastic heroine departments, but lacking in the romance and storytelling.

Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel (Night and Nothing Novels)
Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel (Night and Nothing Novels)
by Katherine Harbour
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.39
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorn Jack (Night and Nothing #1), September 3, 2014
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Before I start my review of THORN JACK, I should say I wasn’t super familiar with the tale it’s based on, Tam Lin. THORN JACK is a modern retelling, but I don’t think you need to know Tam Lin in order to enjoy this book.

THORN JACK is a lush, detailed, atmospheric dive into the supernatural. It’s a book I want to reread so I can enjoy all the little details and descriptions the author wove into the story. I was sad when I finished THORN JACK, because I knew I’d miss the creepy, dark atmosphere and the dangerous faeries. I am really looking forward to the next two Night and Nothing books so I can spend more time in this world.

When the book starts, Finn is almost … bland. It’s like she’s sleepwalking through life until she meets the mysterious Jack. I admit, I did think of TWILIGHT, but I didn’t get that vibe for long. Finn’s detachedness makes sense, because she’s mourning her older sister. Lily Rose killed herself, but Finn doesn’t know why. Only as she settles into her new town, finds new friends, and learns more about Jack, does Finn start to “wake up.” She also starts to wonder about Lily Rose, and what really happened.

But she’s not sure what’s real and what’s not, and neither is the reader. There are concerts in the woods and parties in abandoned hotels attended by boys with antlers, ghosts, and mythical creatures. There are a *lot* of characters in THORN JACK, maybe too many, but I thought they added to the lush feeling of the book. Reiko Fata was one of my favorite characters, but then, I tend to like evil, dark women, and she’s that and more. I enjoyed all the bits of Reiko’s backstory, and honestly, I could have read a book just about her. I also liked Finn’s friends, Christie and Sylvie. They bond very quickly, which I found a bit unrealistic, but I liked how they were there for each other, willing to help Finn even when she was doing something dangerous or stupid.

Reading THORN JACK was mostly an experience for me. Looking back, there are some things I question and criticize, but overall, I really enjoyed the book while I was reading it. I kept wanting to skip ahead to see what would happen next, and I found myself turning the pages way too quickly. This would be a great book to read around Hallowe’en, both because Hallowe’en plays an important role in the story and because of the general feeling of the season.

Formatting wise, I wish the glossary of “Fata Terms” had been at the beginning of the book, because I didn’t even know there was a glossary. The words (look like Gaelic?) aren’t used that often, but it would have been helpful to know what they meant.

I, Morgana
I, Morgana
Price: $5.24

1.0 out of 5 stars I, Morgana, August 18, 2014
This review is from: I, Morgana (Kindle Edition)
When I read the summary for I, MORGANA, I swooned. Just a little bit. I’m always on the lookout for books about or featuring Morgana, as I tend to like a nicely evil sorceress. Morgana tends to get a bad rap, so reading her story, in her words? I couldn’t wait to start the book.

Unfortunately, Felicity Pulman’s attempt at reinventing Morgana didn’t work for me. I almost put it down several times, and I wish I had given up on reading it, because I honestly can’t remember much of it. The book just didn’t make an impression and didn’t add anything to Morgana’s story for me.

To start off with, it’s very difficult to keep track of time in this book. I didn’t know whether a day, a month, or a year had gone by between some passages, and that’s something that always throws me off when reading. That goes along with the extreme amount of telling. Morgana tells so freaking much of her story rather than showing us pivotal events as they take place. This book is less than 200 pages, but I felt like I plodded through a 400 page book.

So much of what happens in I, MORGANA is repetition. Here’s the pattern:

1. Morgana gets mad.
2. Morgana plans revenge.
3. Morgana feels bad about what happens, but it’s too late to change her plan.

This probably happened ten times, if not more. Morgana barely grows as a character, and never learns from her mistakes. I really disliked her because of this, and because she would feel sooooo bad every time one of her poorly thought out plans created more problems.

Now, even if I dislike the main character, that doesn’t keep me from liking the book … if there’s something for me to like. But I, MORGANA just confused me in every way possible. The author had some “Otherworld” concept, but never actually explained it. The Otherworld was pretty important at the end, so I didn’t get the ending.

I really wanted to like I, MORGANA, but the execution of the story and Morgana’s character just didn’t work for me.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Storms of Lazarus (Shadows of Asphodel, Book 2)
Storms of Lazarus (Shadows of Asphodel, Book 2)
Price: $4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Storms of Lazarus (Shadows of Asphodel #2), August 18, 2014
Last year I read SHADOWS OF ASPHODEL, the first book in Karen Kincy’s dieselpunk/steampunk series of the same name. I enjoyed the combination of necromancy, airships, automatons, magic, and other good stuff. I hoped there would be a second book, so I was excited to see STORMS OF LAZARUS pop up. I liked this book even better than the first, which is a rarity for me.

STORMS OF LAZARUS starts off right after the end of SHADOWS OF ASPHODEL. There isn’t much recap of what happened in book one, which is my only complaint about this book. I read the first in December 2013, so I couldn’t remember a lot of what happened. More of a refresher would have been helpful, but otherwise, STORMS OF LAZARUS was quite enjoyable.

In the first couple of chapters, Ardis and Wendel are arrested, meet a vampire, acquire a pet raven, reunite with Konstantin, and survive an airship crash. And oh yeah -- World War I is about to start. Ardis, Wendel, and Konstantin travel to Prussia in an attempt to stave off invasion, but you know nothing goes to plan. As with the first book in the series, the author shows off her creativity, bringing in a clockwork dragon and wasps, and making an interesting connection between necromancers and vampires. The backdrop of war also makes for a lot of adventure, and the book is almost non-stop action. There’s even more automaton battles, which made me a happy reader.

In the first book, I didn’t quite support the relationship between Ardis and Wendel, but here I was rooting for them. Ardis really supports Wendel in Prussia, where he has to face the family that disinherited him because of his necromantic abilities. Wendel is his usual sarcastic but noble self, and has some great lines. I’d quote some of my favorites, but that would spoil things.

Basically, if you liked SHADOWS OF ASPHODEL, then I think you’ll really enjoy STORMS OF LAZARUS. It has everything the first book had, but *more*. It’s like a double helping of dieselpunk/steampunk goodness. I sincerely hope there’s a third book in the works, because I need more of Ardis and Wendel’s story.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements)
White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.18
78 used & new from $3.71

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1), August 18, 2014
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WHITE HOT KISS is a book I just did not like. I should have stopped reading after the first few chapters, but a lot of book bloggers I know really like Jennifer L. Armentrout, so I kept going in the hopes the book would turn around. For me, it didn’t, and I suffered through 380+ very long pages.

Now, I’m quite critical of romance in books, and the chemistry between Layla and Roth was nonexistent. I was really hoping they wouldn’t end up romantically entangled, as there’s sort of another contender, but nooooo. For the record, I do not find stalkers or “I know what you’re feeling better than you do” types of guys swoon-worthy. Roth is both, and more. I really didn’t like that he insisted Layla was attracted to him when she said she wasn’t. He claimed he knew better because as a demon, he could smell human emotions. I don’t find overbearing sexy, nor a good example.

I actually groaned when Layla and Roth made out instead of focusing on the more important things. Like the plot. There’s some sort of demon uprising going on, but once Layla gets over her initial dislike of Roth, she’s pining for him and more worried about him than a possible apocalypse. Other than hoping the book would pick up, I was a bit interested in the Wardens (gargoyles) and demons, but there’s not a whole lot about them. The book revolves around perfect Layla and superhot Roth.

Frostborn (Thrones and Bones)
Frostborn (Thrones and Bones)
by Lou Anders
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.59
85 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frostborn (Thrones and Bones #1), August 18, 2014
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The summary for FROSTBORN sounded super intriguing. Norse-inspired middle grade fantasy? A main character that loves board games? Another main character that’s stuck in-between the human and giant worlds?

But FROSTBORN failed to grab my interest, and I had to keep making myself pick it up. There was a lack of action for the first third or so of the book, and something about the dialogue just didn’t work for me. There were a lot of jokes and attempts at humor, but they felt almost … too modern? I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but it seemed like the author wrote how he thought kids interact instead of how they actually do.

FROSTBORN has very nice chapter heading illustrations, which added to the text. Usually I don’t pay much attention to illustrations, but I liked these. I also liked that Thianna and Karn aren’t pigeon-holed into stereotypical gender expectations. Thianna’s half frost giant, half human, but prefers her frost giant side. She tends towards action first and thinks later. Karn loves the Thrones and Bones board game, and uses strategy learned from the game in as many situations as he can. There’s a joke in the book about Karn opening a tavern to cook rabbit on a stick, while Thianna will be the door giant. So this isn’t a “girl book” or a “boy book,” which is always nice to see.

There are some pluses to FROSTBORN, which even includes the rules for Thrones and Bones so readers can try to play the game. But the book just didn’t keep my interest -- I wasn’t eager to keep reading. Younger readers might get into it more, and I can see it being a good introduction to fantasy, but … I think I just expected more from Lou Anders.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 27, 2014 4:34 PM PDT

by Michelle Krys
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.78
60 used & new from $3.43

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hexed (Hexed #1), August 18, 2014
This review is from: Hexed (Hardcover)
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I’m always on the lookout for a good witch book. Last year I really enjoyed the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins and the Witches of East End series by Melissa de la Cruz. I was hoping HEXED would kick off a new series I loved, or at least liked.

Unfortunately, I rather disliked HEXED. I can’t think of one good thing to say about it. With tons of popular YA elements crammed in, the book wasn’t original at all, and it was one of those that I could barely remember once I’d finished it.

I didn’t like Indigo at all. Indigo’s the epitome of everything you’re supposed to be in high school: a cheerleader, popular, smart, has the star football player for her boyfriend, etc. For some unknown reason, she’s nasty to Paige, who turns out to be one of the very few people Indie can count on. Indie literally bangs on Paige’s window one night with nary a word of apology and expects help. Me no likey. Paige was the only character I liked, because she had a head on her shoulders and didn’t care one bit about popularity, but she doesn’t get a lot of page time.

I can like a book without liking the main character, but other than Paige, I didn’t like anything else. For someone that’s supposed to be so smart (third highest GPA), Indie continually puts herself in dangerous situations without thinking. As for the rest of it … I can’t remember what the heck happened. I meant it when I said this book was unoriginal and unmemorable.

SentrySafe CHW20221 Medium Chest Safe, Charcoal Gray
SentrySafe CHW20221 Medium Chest Safe, Charcoal Gray
Price: $49.85
5 used & new from $24.99

3.0 out of 5 stars SentrySafe Medium Chest, August 6, 2014
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I keep all of my important documents in a large safe in my house, but I thought it would be handy to have a smaller safe for things I use on a daily basis. The SentrySafe Medium Chest kind of works for that, but I’m not sure if I’ll actually continue to use it.

I’m more worried about robbery than a fire, so that’s what I thought about for this product. For me, the biggest problem with this safe is it would be so easy to pick it up and walk off with it. There’s not any way to secure it somewhere inside your house, and it’s not that heavy. I suppose you could use it as a travel safe, but again, it would be really easy for someone else to take it.

Although the rest of the safe seems very well made, the handle feels like cheap plastic. Compared to the weight of the safe, I feel like the handle would eventually break.

The medium safe fits letter-size paper, but anything else, such as legal size, would need to be folded. The directions say not to store firearms, combustible materials, medications, delicate items (jewelry with working parts, watches, stamps, photos), or pearls. For “delicate items,” you’re supposed to put them in an airtight container before putting them in the safe.

If you’re considering this product, I’d think about exactly what you want to store, and for what reason. The safe is supposed to protect against fire and water damage, and SentrySafe says that if the safe is in a fire and seals, they will ship a replacement free of charge (if the safe is registered).

Remington S7231 Wet to Straight Straightener, 2-inch, Black
Remington S7231 Wet to Straight Straightener, 2-inch, Black
Price: $24.28
18 used & new from $20.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remington Wet to Straight Straightener, August 6, 2014
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My mother and I have both been using the Remington Wet to Straight Straightener for about a month. Her hair is mostly straight, with some wavy areas. Mine is about the same, as well as thick and heavy.

My mom has been using it every day, and really likes the straightener. The only thing that she has trouble with is the small settings dial and its hard-to-read numbers. The 2-inch plates are a good size, and the product as a whole isn’t too heavy or cumbersome.

I did try the straightener when my hair was wet, although it’s not something I would do on a daily basis. I’m worried that it would damage my hair if I did it all the time -- I couldn’t believe how much steam came out! If you use this product on wet hair, make sure that the vents aren’t toward your face. But it does really work. Within minutes my hair was 100% dry and straight.

There are only two things I don’t like about this straightener. The small settings dial is one. It’s on the inside of the handle, and even my eagle eyes have trouble seeing the numbers. I have to hold it directly under the light so I can make sure I don’t have the heat turned up too high. The second thing I don’t like is that there’s no switch to go from dry to wet mode -- it’s determined by heat strength. There’s a LED indicator to show if you’re ready for dry or wet hair. It’s not really a downside, but I wish it had a switch like a hair dryer, like how you can set for warm or cool.

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