The Cover Made Me Read It: Killing Sarai by J.A. Redmerski

This one is a little different. It’s not fantasy. It’s not Science Fiction. It’s not even speculative or young adult. It’s a suspense/thriller/assassin/romance. But just look at those covers. (You get two, because I couldn’t pick editions.)

The Book I Ended Up Reading. Cuz Cover.

Killing Sarai Killing Sarai2
Yeah.

The Plot: “Sarai was only fourteen when her mother uprooted her to live in Mexico with a notorious drug lord. Over time she forgot what it was like to live a normal life, but she never let go of her hope to escape the compound where she has been held for the past nine years.

Victor is a cold-blooded assassin who, like Sarai, has known only death and violence since he was a young boy. When Victor arrives at the compound to collect details and payment for a hit, Sarai sees him as her only opportunity for escape. But things don’t go as planned and instead of finding transport back to Tucson, she finds herself free from one dangerous man and caught in the clutches of another.”

Continue reading

The Cover Made Me Read It: Master of Crows by Grace Draven

Here’s another cover that I couldn’t pass by. Crows and flowy hair. What more can you ask for?

What? Plot? Psh. Who needs plot?

The Book I Ended Up Reading. Cuz Cover.

Yeah.

The Plot:

Welp, on the one hand, you have the renegade sorcerer Silhara, reticent avatar of the evil god, Corruption. On the other, you have Martise a young slavewoman-turned-spy who’s been promised her freedom if she is able to find the proof of Silhara’s crimes that would lead to his execution. She’s set up to be his scribe and apprentice. He is all sorts of suspicious.

Inevitably, romance.

Continue reading

The Cover Made Me Read It: Miserere by Teresa Frohock

The Cover Made Me Read It: Miserere by Teresa Frohock

When it comes to gorgeous covers, I am helpless to resist. Here’s a book I picked up based off on cover art alone. Blurb? Story? Psh.

The Book I Ended Up Reading. Cuz Cover.

Miserere by Teresa FrohockYeah.

The Plot: In a purgatory-style world that exists as a war zone between our world and Hell, demons walk the lands and the prayer has power. When exiled exorcist and ex-holy knight Lucian Negru refuses to help his sister’s takeover plot to release demons upon the lands, she imprisons and cripples him.

Lucian escapes and uses his powers to open a Hell Gate to save the soul of an innocent, breaking the conditions his exile. That sets him on a collision course with Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned to die in Hell years ago and who is tasked on finding Lucian and bringing him to justice. At the same time, his power-hungry sister will stop at nothing to have him broken and back at her side.

Impressions:  Pleasantly surprised! Torment, angst, and redemption? Oh yes. This book hit just the spot. What makes this even better is that though we have uber-tormented and scarred characters, they also come with a healthy dose of matureness, self-aware in a lot of decisions they make. It’s a really nice change of pace. A super sweet story steeped in violence and darkness.

The initial premise reminds me of The Curse of Chalion lite. The minuses? Predictability and a simple plotline that I didn’t really mind. I’ve been starved for an easy fantasy+romance combo read, and this delivered.

The Verdict:  

(If there were a sequel, I’d read it!)

Have you had covers that put books on your read shelf?

[Book Review] In which I fondly remember all those terrible books that made me angry.

Circle of Fire by Keri Arthur

Circle of Fire (Damask Circle, #1)

Here’s the thing, Canaries. I want a book to rile me up. I want to be excited about an unexpected twist, angry about how bad it is,  or gnashing my teeth over some stupid decision a character made. But in between the good, the bad, and the unforgivably bad books, there’s another genus of books – those that are merely pleasantly lukewarm.

That’s kinda this book: a good read, generic backdrop, a plot about Dark Pasts, Evil Sorcery, and Angry Magic Serial Killer, and the usual romantic misunderstandings culminating in a true-love happily ever. I read Circle of Fire over a few enjoyable hours, and I have nothing much to say about the experience. Maybe, “It wasn’t bad”? or “the story was okay”?

The overall set up is intriguing. We get Madeline Smith. Her sister thinks she’s crazy, her brother-in-law thinks she killed her husband, and Madeline is beginning to suspect that she’s finally gone crazy. Maddie’s being haunted by a ghost. Except this ghost claims to be real, and that if Maddie doesn’t help him, he’s going to die and a serial killer is going to go free.  Continue reading

[Indie Book Review] Disappearances, a cute guy, and an impending elf invasion.

Boreal and John Grey by Chrystalla Thoma. Fast, fun, fey and…I just run out of adjectives starting the the letter f. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would not use the word “feisty” when talking about book characters unless I’m talking about a cute-angry kittens (see right). But it was kinda that too.

Written in five “episodes” of about 50-pages each, this little series (“season”) is fun and fast. Ella works for the Paranormal Bureau taking down evil monsters when they cross into her world through the veil between worlds. But for the first time in centuries, they are coming across in droves, and they’re getting harder and harder to kill. When Ella’s work partner goes missing, she finds that she has to rely on a stranger-without-a-past named Finn to survive.

The Dragon (Boreal and John Grey, #3)

I’m no fan of TV terminology in my reading (Associations: episodes, seasons, why is Grimm so terrible? ZIVA WHY DID YOU LEAVE US), but the elves and the stoic male lead with his tragic past more than makes up for any mental sidetracking into all the shows I am currently watching except I’m not because I don’t have the time, but – Continue reading

[Small Chirps] Surviving the Crazy Romance Novel

Those of you who follow the The Canary Review even a bit might know that I have a weakness. This weakness comes in the form of popcorn fiction of the romantic sort. Gimme chick lit, and paranormal romances, and romantic fluff, and I am set.

…or the respective eye size and placement (see above).

However, those of you who’ve been around me a little longer may also know that I am a born again feminazi of the most lovable sort who enjoys constructivist theories on the side and watches adorable Disney movies with one eye trained on the waist-hip ratio of the characters.

So what’s my trick? How do I manage to get through the truly ridiculous without throwing books against the wall?

Easy: I have a very well developed coping mechanism. Let me pull out an example.

I’m going to pick on Feehan’s Dark (Carpathian) series because, well, I haven’t been able to get through a single one of her books without eye-rolling since I was sixteen. But my love-hate relationship with them means I can’t resist the books whenever I spot them.

From what I’ve sampled, this series has all the hallmarks of overblown paranormal romance, from the Good & Noble Vampires™ to the Irresistible Soulmates™ trope used in lieu of relationship-building. Gender roles are crisply defined: The Carpathian Male (read: the vampire guy) is an instinct-driven creature, overwhelmingly possessive and territorial when it comes to “his” woman. Even if our petite, lovely, and compassionate lady is independent and modern, she finds that she much prefers to cuddle with Dominating Male, courtesy of  the aforementioned Irresistible Soulmates™ effect, than do her own stuff. Continue reading

[Book Review] The Host, or the trials and tribulations of the victorious alien invader

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host! A book I had absolutely no interest in reading but kinda liked anyway.

How did that happen? Well, see,  a few days ago, Meg and me, we were looking through upcoming movie releases. And our conversation went something like this:

Me: We should read The Host
Meg: I have been working on the unicorn demon story
  ug
  I know
  When does it come out?
Me: March, I think.
Meg: I call not dibs
\o/

While the real takeaway message of this conversation is “What unicorn demon story?”, I did fold to the inevitable and grabbed the 1,152 page paperback in preparation of the movie version of The Host coming out March 29. Whatzit about? Well, in the near, near future… Continue reading

[Book Review] Another nifty series starter from Rachel Caine

Devil’s Bargain by Rachel Caine

(The Red Letter Days series, book #1)

devilsbargain

I prefer this cover. The other one (below) gives me the cheekbone shot of a goth teen angsting after, I can only presume, her equally morose and dramatic love interest.  

Oh man. Each book I read by Rachel Caine reminds me just why I love this author so very much. The dialogue flows naturally with just the right amount of wit and freshness, the plot and action doesn’t let up, and the mystery and tension just keeps on coming.

 

For our main lead, we get Jazz-don’t-call-me-Jasmine, who’s hit rock bottom, but is still digging – her world was rocked when Ben, her partner, was convicted of murder. One part denial, two parts wishful thinking, she’s desperate to find proof of his innocence, unable to come to terms with the fact that she might have been so terribly wrong about him. In the meantime, she’s dumped into a whirlwind mystery of red envelopes and strange assignments.

Ex-decorated ex-homicide detective Jazz Callender’s career is over – her partner is in jail for murder, her reputation in tatters, and her one achievement for the week is finding a good bar with cheap drinks.  So when a guy in a leather getup hands her a check for a hundred thousand dollars in a red envelope, she can’t figure out whether she’s being set up or the butt of some twisted joke.

But the offer’s legit – all she has to do is partner with a gorgeous stranger, set up a private detective agency on retainer for a law firm funded by the mysterious Cross Society, and accept any assignments they send her way.

Simple enough, right? Continue reading

[Book Review] Beautiful Creatures and Awkward Audiobooks

Meg’s Review of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Audiobook read by Kevin T. Collins (with special appearance by Eve Bianco)

I haven’t read any teen paranormal romance since I attempted Twilight, which all but killed my faith in the genre and scarred my brain for life. But I’m a sucker for any book being made into a movie, so I picked up Beautiful Creatures during a nifty sale at Audible. I figured that if it sucked, at least it would only be $5 of suck.

Much to my surprise, I really liked this first installment of the four-book series. Partially, I think my enjoyment was at the deft move by writers Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl to make the narrator a teenaged boy rather than a girl. It inherently dropped the angst factor by about 75%. They also split the love story, with the majority of it revolving around the star-crossed lovers of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, but there was also the added love story of a boy mourning the loss of his mother that gave the book considerable, and quite unexpected, depth. Continue reading

[Advance Book Review] A healer on the run, an army on the march.

Scent of Magic by Maria V Snyder (Healer #2)

Publication date: December 18th 2012

(This review may contain spoilers of book one, Touch of Magic by Maria V. Snyder.)

After reading Touch of Magic (has it really been a year?) and stamping it with a Five-Canary approval rating, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. And here it is!

Avry of Kazan, the last Healer in all of the Fifteen Realms, is dead of the plague, sacrificing her life to heal the man who destroyed her people…or so everyone thinks. Finally free and able to make her own decisions, Avry’s loyalty is torn between the need to help a sister in the clutches of a vicious mage, her own calling as a Healer, and the need to do her part against the tyrannical King Tohon and his ravaging army. And if she is to do all this, she must part ways with Kerrick, so soon after finding him again. Continue reading