My Bookish Ways

Review: Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry
Publisher:
 St. Martins Press
YA Horror/Zombies
Benny Imura Series
5/5 

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

REVIEW (I reviewed this wayyyy back when it first came out and I was still on Blogger, but it got lost in the move, so here it is, all prettied up and shiny!)
Rot & Ruin has zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. It also has all of the good stuff that usually accompanies zombies, thrills, chills, and of course, kills. However, Rot & Ruin is not a zombie book, not in the traditional sense. It’s a coming of age story in a time where everything is dangerous, and nothing is quite how it seems, and about the birth of a hero.

The book begins about 15 years after First Night, when the dead started coming back to life, and focuses on Benny Imura, 14, and his older, zombie hunter brother Tom. Benny is about to turn 15, and that means he’ll have to get a job, or his food rations will be cut in half. I’ll be honest, at the start of this book, I thought Benny Imura, our 15 year old star, was a whining, moody little brat and was actually worried that I wasn’t going to like him at all. On the other hand, his older brother Tom was a quiet, kind, strong presence that eventually grew into a much bigger role later in the novel. Benny tries his hand at a number of jobs before deciding, kicking and screaming, to go into the “family business”, aka zombie hunting, or as Tom prefers, becoming a “closure specialist”. Benny has fuzzy, vague memories about Tom running away with him and leaving his parents to the mercy of the zombies on First Night, and has nursed bitter resentment for him ever since. Benny idolizes the obnoxious, loud mouthed bounty hunter Charlie, and thinks his brother is a coward, not only for what he perceives happened on First Night, but because Tom rarely talks about what he does to put food on the table.

It’s only when Tom takes Benny out into the Rot & Ruin (the zombie infested area beyond their fenced in town), that Benny begins to realize just what his brother does on a daily basis, and his entire world view is turned upside down, and when his friend Nix is kidnapped by zombie hunters with the most evil of plans, Benny has to look inside himself to find courage he never knew existed.

This book was hard for me to review, because I recently read Patient Zero, and The Dragon Factory, both by Jonathan Maberry, and I absolutely could not put them down. So, perhaps unfairly to this book, I expected more of the same, just toned down for a Young Adult audience. Rot & Ruin took a bit longer for me to get into, but that was ok, because the payoff was worth it! There’s plenty of guts and action to please boy readers, and the characters show much more insight and maturity than many of the YA titles out there right now. There was also plenty to please this girl reader, and there were some heartbreaking moments that really made me love the characters. I wavered between a 4.5 and a 5 on this one, so I’ll give it a 5! I’ll eagerly look forward to the next Benny Imura novel!

Purchase Rot & Ruin: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Giveaway Winner: City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore

I’m so excited to announce my winner for City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore!

Congrats to Amy Harlib!

*Winner was chosen by Rafflecopter, has been notified, and has 48 hours to respond! Thanks to everyone that entered!

Review: The Naming of the Beasts (Felix Castor #5) by Mike Carey

The Naming of the Beasts (Felix Castor #5) by Mike Carey
Publisher:
Orbit/Jan. 2011
Urban Fantasy
Felix Castor Series
5/5

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but if you ask Castor he’ll tell you there’s quite a bit of arrogance and reckless stupidity lining the streets as well. He should know. There are only so many times you can play both sides against the middle and get away with it. Now, the inevitable moment of crisis has arrived and it’s left Castor with blood on his hands. Well, not his hands—it’s always someone else who pays the bill: friends, acquaintances, and bystanders. So Castor drowns his guilt in cheap whiskey, while an innocent woman lies dead and her daughter comatose, his few remaining friends fear for their lives and there’s a demon loose on the streets. It’s not just any demon—this one rides shotgun on his best friend’s soul and can’t be expelled without killing him. It seems that Felix Castor’s got some tough choices to make, because expel the demon he must or all Hell will break loose—literally.

REVIEW
The aftermath of the disastrous events of Thicker Than Water still has Felix Castor reeling. They’ve left his former best friend (possessed by a rather nasty demon) free, and Felix an emotional mess, drowning himself in alcohol and sorrow. After a pretty nasty binge, Felix shakes off his sorrow in an attempt to get a handle on a mess that deep down, he blames himself for; finding Rafi Ditko and freeing him from the demon Asmodeus once and for all. The demon definitely has his own agenda, and after visiting the crime scene of his first victim, Felix knows he must track him down, at all costs. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one working the case. His old nemesis, Dr. Jenna-Jane Mulbridge, is also on his trail, not to mention the Anathemata, who was the cause of the massive mess that set Rafi free. To add to the considerable stress of finding Rafi, Juliet, Fix’s sometimes partner and incidentally, also a succubus demon, is acting very, very strangely, to the detriment of her wife, Sue. It’s getting worse all the time and Fix is at a total loss as to how he can help, but he’s determined to do what he can. Eventually, he’ll have to seek the help of Jenna-Jane and her crew, which now includes Trudie Pax, a former Anathemata member, and also the nephew of a man that was killed during an exorcism gone wrong, and he blames Fix for his death. You can imagine that things are a bit strained, but Fix will need everything at his disposal to find Rafi and get rid of Asmodeus for good, before he kills everyone Fix loves, and then heads after Fix himself.

The Naming of the Beasts is the 5th book in the Felix Castor series, and it’s just as good as the previous four. No one writes like Mike Carey. He has created an alternate London full of ghosts, zombies (not of the brain eating kind), loup-garous, demons, and other supernaturals that lovers of urban fantasy and noir will want to visit again and again. Fix is tough and smart, but certainly not superhuman, and it’s his rumpled charm that will get you every time (at least it does me). We get to wrap up a huge storyline in this one, with explosive results, but I have no doubt that Mike Carey has plenty more in store for Fix and his friends. There are endless possibilities with this series, and I hope Mr. Carey keeps Fix’s world alive for some time to come. If you like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, or Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novels, you’ll want to dive into this one head first. Superb writing, fascinating characters, and a haunted London steeped in history make these books a must! Very highly recommended.

Purchase The Naming of the Beasts: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop: Enclave by Ann Aguirre and Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

It’s Friday, and that’s always a happy making day, so what could be more happy making than a giveaway, and a hop? I love doing hops every now and then because they are a great way to connect with readers and bloggers alike! I’m offering 2 books for giveaway: Enclave by Ann Aguirre and Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, so check out the book descriptions and the giveaway deets, and good luck!

Also be sure to hop on over to all the other participating blogs and see what they have to offer! Thanks so much to I Am a Reader, Not a Writer, and Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf for hosting!

Click here to see entire list of participating blogs!

About Ashes, Ashes
A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl’s unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares.

Epidemics, floods, droughts–for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she’s rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can’t continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There’s something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

About Enclave (read my review):
New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20′s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You must fill out the form below.
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy each of Enclave by Ann Aguirre and Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 1/18/12
6. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Books kindly provided by Scholastic and Macmillan.

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Giveaway Winners: To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore and Skinwalker and Bloodring by Faith Hunter

I’ve got 2 giveaway winners to announce today: To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore and Bloodring and Skinwalker by Faith Hunter! Thanks so much to everyone that entered!

To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore

Congrats to Christina Bodden!

Skinwalker and Bloodring by Faith Hunter

Congrats to Teressa Oliver!

*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified, and have 48 hours to reply.

Review: That Thing At the Zoo (novella) by James R. Tuck

That Thing At the Zoo (Deacon Chalk novella) by James R. Tuck
Publisher:
Kensington/Dec. 2011
Horror/Urban Fantasy
3.5/5
Review copy courtesy of the author

Shredding monsters is his stock and trade. He sniffs them out, tracks them down, and corners them. End of story. But when the tables are turned, expect the unexpected. . .

Knowing his enemy is a rule Deacon Chalk swears by. But he’s never seen anything like whatever is leaving the Atlanta Zoo’s most dangerous predators bloodless, skinned, and hanging high in treetops. And he’s only got till sunrise to keep it from turning the entire city into a slaughterhouse. Now Deacon is in zoo lockdown with a handful of staffers to save. His zookeeper backup has more guts than monster-hunting experience. And the only chance Deacon has to run this thing to unholy ground is to risk unleashing his darkest, most uncontrollable instincts. . .

REVIEW
James R. Tuck’s Blood and Bullets is coming out on Feb. 7th, but you can meet his hero, Deacon Chalke, before then in this down and dirty novella. Deacon is a supernatural bounty hunter with a grudge, and he’s been called to the Atlanta zoo to hunt down a rather nasty creature that’s been preying on zoo employees and animals alike. With the help of a zookeeper (who proudly sports a mullet), Deacon takes on a hungry and vicious evil, and it loves the taste of humans. You’ll zip through this one lightning fast, and Tuck doesn’t waste time on flowery prose. Deacon is a man’s man, but he’s got plenty of personal pain to contend with, and it more than fuels his prowess as a bounty hunter. That Thing at the Zoo is a great intro to Tuck’s new series, and will have you adding Blood and Bullets to your pre-order list pronto!

Purchase That Thing At the Zoo (available now on Nook, and on Kindle Jan. 27th): Barnes and Noble
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Giveaway: Grimspace (Sirantha Jax #1) by Ann Aguirre

Who’s in the mood for a giveaway? I am! I’ve got a SIGNED copy of Grimspace (Sirantha Jax #1) by the awesome Ann Aguirre. This is one of my all time fave series, so check out the giveaway deets, then go forth and enter! Good luck!

About Grimspace:
As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun’s not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her…for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You must fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!).
2. Giveaway is for 1 SIGNED copy of GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 1/18/12
6. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Review: Black Heart Loa (Hoodoo Series #2) by Adrian Phoenix

Black Heart Loa (Hoodoo Series #2) by Adrian Phoenix
Publisher:
Pocket/June 2011
Urban Fantasy
Hoodoo Series
4.5/5

“An eye for an eye is never enough.”

Kallie Rivière, a Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a bent for trouble, learned the meaning of those ominous words when hoodoo bogeyman Doctor Heron targeted her family for revenge. Now, while searching for her still-missing bayou pirate cousin, Kallie finds out the hard way that someone is undoing powerful gris gris, which means that working magic has become as unpredictable as rolling a handful of dice. The wards woven to protect the Gulf coast are unraveling, leaving New Orleans and the surrounding bayous vulnerable just as an unnatural storm—the deadliest in a century—is born. As the hurricane powers toward the heart of all she loves, Kallie desperately searches for the cause of the disturbing randomness, only to learn a deeply unsettling truth: the culprit may be herself. To protect her family and friends, including the sexy nomad Layne Vallin, Kallie steps into the jaws of danger . . . and finds a loup garou designed to steal her heart—literally

REVIEW
Black Heart Loa picks up about 24 hours after the start of Black Dust Mambo with two gunmen bursting in on Kallie and the gang. Keep in mind, some super explosive secrets have JUST been revealed to Kallie about her past, and now her cousin Jackson has been abducted and buried alive, so time is of the essence. Kallie, Belladonna, and crew aren’t about to take this invasion lying down, but if they don’t get to Jackson in time, his number may be up. It doesn’t help that magic has gone haywire and the death loa Baron Samedi is on the loose, due to a summoning-gone-wrong. Also, the Hecatean Council is looking for Kallie, and it’s not because they want to shake her hand. Kallie is harboring a big, deadly secret, and there’s a storm coming…

Whew! Reading Black Heart Loa will get you more worked up than a Level 5 hurricane! Not in the dirty way, although there is some delicious sexy in this one. There’s just lots of stuff going on, and Adrian Phoenix expertly weaves her magic with multiple story lines, against the stormy backdrop of the Louisiana Bayou. Let’s see, you have Jackson getting kidnapped (and secrets of his past are lurking), a clan of loups-garous running around, magic going wonky (to sometimes humorous effect), a ginormous storm threatening to destroy the entire area… Oh, yes, then there’s that pesky loa inside of Kallie that some not nice folks are dying to get their hands on, not to mention the whereabouts of her soul is still a mystery. The bayou setting in this series is a character unto itself, so setting hoodoo magic and mayhem against it creates a thrilling atmosphere that you will certainly get lost in. In spite of the cornucopia of hotties running around (Layne, Jackson, Dallas, did I say Layne?), the theme of girl power is very much a defining part of Black Heart Loa, just as it was in Black Dust Mambo. Kallie and her best friend Belladonna will do anything for each other, and the women of their family, as well as the various loups-garous and Vessel clans are forces of nature. Seriously guys, this is a meaty book and you certainly won’t regret reading to the end, when Ms. Phoenix most certainly brings the sexy (grins fiendishly). She brings the awesome too, but that’s to be expected. I thought I enjoyed Black Dust Mambo, but Black Heart Loa was even better. Can’t wait for the next one!

Read my review of Black Dust Mambo (Hoodoo Series #1)

Purchase Black Heart Loa: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Review: Fate’s Edge (The Edge #3) by Ilona Andrews

Fate’s Edge (The Edge #3) by Ilona Andrews
Publisher:
Ace/Nov. 2011
Fantasy
3.5/5
Review copy borrowed from the lovely Chelsea of Vampire Book Club

Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades…

Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he’s going to need Audrey’s help…

REVIEW
The Edge series is so much fun! Each book features different characters, however, the settings and the characters do overlap and interact. In Fate’s Edge, we follow Kaldar Mar (cousin to Cerise, who you may remember from Bayou Moon) and Audrey Callahan, lock pick and thief looking to go straight and be done with her family forever. Audrey takes on one last heist, but when she finds out that she’s stolen a dangerous artifact that could fall into the wrong hands, she feels compelled to help Kaldar Mar get it back.

Ilona Andrews has created a fascinating fantasy world with the Broken (that would be our world), the Weird (full of magic and strick family structures), and the Edge, which falls between the two worlds. She somehow manages to combine Southern backwoods sensibilities and clan hierarchy with high fantasy, and it totally works. Audrey’s situation is heartbreaking. Her brother is an addict that refuses to get clean, and her parents would choose him over her, in spite of him being a no good loser. Her father convinces her to take on this last heist to get money for her brother’s rehab, even though they all know that it won’t do any good. She agrees to do it on the condition that she never has to see her family again. Kaldar Mar is hired by the Mirror (sort of the Weird’s version of the CIA), to reclaim the artifact and keep it out of the hands of The Hand (a bad news group of folks with an evil agenda). Kaldar is a rogue and a conman, and in spite of the intense sparks between them, Audrey vows she won’t fall for his charms. The problem with this is that a chair would fall for Kaldar’s charms. Seriously, he’s a hottie. You may want to slap him sometimes, but at the end of the day, you still want to fall into his arms. I have to admit, Audrey does a pretty good job of resisting him for most of the book, but she really can’t avoid the inevitable, can she? There’s plenty of action in this series to satisfy urban fantasy fans, and enough magic slinging to make fantasy fans happy as well! Add lots of sexual tension, steamy romance, intrigue, double crosses, necromancy, shape shifting and flying dragons to the mix, and you’ve got a fantasy cocktail that’s quite fun! Now, I must be honest, Fate’s Edge is probably my least favorite of the three, but I still  enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say you have to start at book 1, but having some backstory does help when going into it, although the authors provide enough info that it wouldn’t confuse a newcomer too much. Ilona Andrews fans (of which I am one) and fantasy fans should love this series!

Purchase Fate’s Edge: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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New Releases: Jan. 10th, 2011

There’s some great new releases this week, so check ‘em out (most release Jan. 10th)

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror:
Nameless by Kyle Chais
It Came From Beneath the Sea… Again by Susan Griffith, Clay Griffith, and more
Lothaire by Kresley Cole
The Rook: A Novel by Daniel O’Malley

Mystery/Thriller
Start Shooting: A Novel by Charlie Newton
Gideon’s Corpse by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen: A Novel by Thomas Caplan
Red Means Run by Brad Smith
The Jaguar (Charlie Hood) by T. Jefferson Parker

Young Adult:
A Million Suns: An Across the Universe Novel by Beth Revis
Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
The Katerina Trilogy, Vol. I: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

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