Friday, July 20, 2012

Demon High by Lori Devoti (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Demon High Plot Overview:

There are demons attending Caldera High!

How does Lucinda Dent know?

Because she’s the one who called them and accidentally set them loose.......
Lucinda knew it was a bad idea to call demons - her Mom disappeared ten years ago after dabbling in demon calling for too long.  She’s seen what it can do, but with the bank about to foreclose on the only home she’s ever know, Lucinda needs to find some quick cash.
She and the local ‘acquisitions expert’ at her school work out a way to make some money putting on a ‘unique’ show for those who can pay.  When it all goes horribly wrong Lucinda finds herself in way over her head. 

Now Lucinda needs to find a way to clean up the mess she’s made, before she loses her heart, her soul, her life, or all of the above.

What I thought:
I think that Demon High was a decent enough book, I had a few issues with it but I liked the story well enough.  I did think the name let it down a bit, Demon High just makes it seem like it would be a much lighter kind of book where it is in fact in the dark paranormal spectrum. It is of course Young Adult, the characters are in high school as the name suggests.  I think that it’s one that still reads as a teenage book (albeit one with mature themes and language) but as an adult I still enjoyed it.

I have seen two cover art pictures for this book, I read it as an eBook and I have to say that the cover art on this edition was a much better reflection on the story.  The cover art with the girl with the long hair and white dress along with the name set quite a different tone.  I have used the cover art from the eBook edition that I read in this post, I think it might be a later one, and like I said it is much more appropriate.
I have been trying to figure out just what it was that made this book not as enjoyable as others I have read.  It was a combination of a few things which I will outline below but I do want to note that I did think it had some good qualities and I would not be reviewing it here if I did not think it was worth reading.

First off it was a bit slow starting, and then even once the demons were called and let loose it was all a bit underwhelming.  I felt that it did not really get interesting until they were finally tracking down the bad guy.  For me that part was the best, it was where the characters really shone and I began to get into the book.  In the beginning there was a lot of new information dropped that was not accompanied by much of an explanation.  I know that it’s hard to find a balance and the beginning was slow enough to start off with but some things need to be set up when introducing a new world – we need to know the lingo and the parameters.
Secondly Lucinda, I did not connect with her as a main character, she just seemed a little flat and lacking depth to me. I never ‘got’ how she fell in love like she was supposed to be, it was just never explained enough for me to really feel it.  On the other hand I really liked the character of Brittany; she was tough and I thought she was fresh and funny. I liked that she was a bit on the shady side which seemed incongruous with her perky popular girl personality.

I saw that on other reviews a lot of people did not like the ending; I had no issues with it.  I think that a lot of people reading may be too caught up in happy endings. I liked that this played out more ‘realistically’ if I can use that term when talking about paranormal fantasy.  Of course you have to suspend disbelief for most of the storyline but the human elements and plot continuity still need to work.  The world that was created by the author told us demons were bad news, if it had ended all happy fluffy bunnies I would have been disappointed.
Final Comments and Overall Rating:

Overall I liked the story, it was compelling and dark. I would certainly give another book in the series a chance just to see where it goes and perhaps it will improve on the aspects I did not find as appealing.
Rating: ☆☆☆

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dog Days by John Levitt (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Dog Days (A Dog Days Novel) Plot Overview:

In San Francisco not everything is what it seems. Mason is a talented Jazz guitarist who scrapes by playing the odd gig around town. He is also part of a secret community of magical practitioners and although he has tried to leave that life behind him he is about to be dragged right back into the thick of it.

Leaving a gig late one night Mason is attacked by a supernatural creature, he narrowly escapes thanks to his companion Louie (an Ifrit – a magical being that looks like a small dog) and his talent for being able to improvise with his magic.

Mason realises that he is out of his league and reports the incident to his former boss, the self-appointed law for the magical community in San Francisco. Mason learns that there is something seriously wrong in the magical community, practitioners and Ifrits are in danger. Despite Mason’s initial reluctance to get involved in the end it will all come down to him and Mason will find himself tested to his limits – will he be able to save those he cares about?

What I thought:

I really liked Dog Days and have since read the next three books in the series, I read this one a while ago, but I went back and reacquainted myself with it so I could do a review. I figure if you have not heard of the series or have seen it but not given it a go yet then you will be more interested in the first book, especially if you are like me and like to read things in sequence.

First off I really appreciated the clear amount of effort that John Levitt has put into the storyline and details of Dog Days. The book has a very good plot, lots of interesting characters, the setting is described in detail and the magic system is creative and interesting. Dog Days is a fun and entertaining read with a lot of depth.

If you find yourself thinking it’s a bit slow to start off with, all I can say is please stay with it. Compared with some contemporary urban fantasy it’s not as fast paced, but if you stick with it you will find that it has more than enough action to keep you entertained along with some great twists and turns. I also thought that overall it was a bit darker than some novels in the same field that try to wrap everything up in a neat little happy bow at the end, there are real repercussions even for the winners.

I liked the feeling that you get from the setting, there are a lot of descriptions in the story so you can really appreciate that they are in San Francisco – Levitt describes the landmarks, the neighbourhoods and the feeling of the city - for someone who has never been to America this is great and it really adds to the atmosphere. You can feel like you are there, or at least get an idea of what it is like there.

The magical system in the Dog Days universe is well constructed; it is creative and well thought out. There are lots of things that are still a mystery to the characters such as where Ifrits come from and why only some practitioners have them. I think this is great as I like a good mystery. There are quite a few variations on how the practitioners use their magic and some have more talent than others, this is all well explained and seems fairly coherent so far.

The characters on the whole were well written and you get to know them during the story, they all have their own personalities, rivalries and issues so they come across very human. I did think that the women in the story were a bit light and stereotypical however there were only really only two, so I guess it’s not a huge issue. I liked that the characters responded to most situations realistically and that magic is never the be all and end all, it’s used as a tool and they need the skills and talents of many to help resolve the situation.

Mason is the narrator of the story and is not your typical first person hero (compared to a lot of Urban Fantasy nowadays); he’s much more laid-back and less of a smart ass than many of his contemporaries. While I do like that kind of character I still found Mason likable for the most part, he comes across as very real. Differences are what make the world go round and if all books had the same characters then I am sure we would all get bored in no time. I did find him a bit whiny and judgemental at times but I liked that even though he is magical, he is not all that powerful; he knows how to use what he has to his advantage but suffers no delusions of grandeur.

I think for a lot of people the hero of the book is not Mason but his ‘dog’ – Louie. Louie is a magical being called an Ifrit - some practitioners have these creatures but no one knows why or where they come from. They look like normal pets but are smarter and have talents of their own. Louie loves food and acts just like a dog most of the time; he cannot talk either physically or mentally. I think that’s actually a good thing as it adds to the mystery of the Ifrits and makes his relationship with Mason all the more interesting. I liked that even though they can't talk you still get a very real idea of their personalities, the animosity between Louie and Victor's cat Ifrit is a good example of this.

As with all books there were a few things that did not work so well. I found that there were some ideas that got rehashed to often - the idea that Mason treats his magic like his music and is much better at improvisation than planned study and that he has a lot of undeveloped potential if he could just focus. I felt that these two ideas were talked about a bit much, we get the hint you don’t need to bash us over the head with it every five minutes.

The other thing I noticed was that many times in the middle of the action Mason would go off on a tangent and fill in back-story. I know that sometimes this is necessary if the information is really needed but it often ended up being a distraction from the action. When a character is about to have his face chewed off by a monster, I don’t really need to know about a conversation he once had with his mentor. This might be something that the character could reflect on once the action has finished if it is really important to the story.

Final Comments and Overall Rating:

Overall I really liked Dog Days; I thought it was intriguing, suspenseful and imaginative. John Levitt has a nice and easy to read writing style - the mood and the details of the novel are great and this all adds up to a compelling read.

Dog Days Series: Dog Days, New Tricks, Unleashed, Play Dead

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cartoon - Simon's Cat

This reminded me of a few cats I have known - love this series of cartoons.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kate's Blog Giveaway - Win a Paperback Copy of Taste

Break Curfew!

Cover - Taste by Kate Evangelista

Head on over to Kate Evangelista's blog for you chance to win her new book - Taste. 

You can enter the international giveaway  via Rafflecopter to be in to win you very own paperback copy.

Rafflecopter Giveaway - Taste by Kate Evangelista
Best of Luck Everyone!

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Month, New Hope

I have been very bad at blogging over the past few months, I find I just don't have the time for reading or writing but I really want to as I am pleased with how this blog is going and I have enjoyed getting into the blogging world. I spent the latter part of June making a concerted effort to finish books I have had sitting around for many, many months - some even from last year. I have such a bad habit of reading too many books at once - I'm good at keeping them all straight and picking up where I left off even if its months down the track but it does lead me to getting a bit swamped. Recently I had a long weekend and with nothing else pressing to do I decided to get onto it and get some of them out of the way. I finished about five that weekend - ones where I only had a few chapters left to go; it gave me a great sense of accomplishment. I had three more that I had only made it about a third to half of the way through so those were next on my list. The one that was the longest and that I had only read the first few chapters of was the last one on my list and I finshed it last night. It was Terry Goodkind's - Wizards First Rule and once I got into it on the weekend I got it read pretty quickly. It was a great book and I am not sure why I never read it before now.

Anyway there a only two more on my Goodreads list, one I'm not sure that I want to finish as it's not really my thing and the other one I just wanted to wait until it had my undivided attention so its next on my list to finish. After that I have a few review ones that I need to get started on as I have not done a review in a while. I'm going to try and only read two or three at a time so that I can get them finished and do my reviews on them.

That is my mission for July - read fewer books but actually finish them and do some reviews on said books. Sounds simple but lets see if I can handle it.