Print copy of KISS OF STEEL by Bec McMaster up for grabs! (US Only) ends 9.22.14

September 14, 2014

Needs Work: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by NIkki McCormack

Series: Stand-alone (?)
Format: PDF
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA - Steampunk
Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT by Nikki McCormack sure sounds good on paper. A thief, a cat with a mechanized leg, a murder, and conspiracies all set in Victorian London. What's not to like?! Eh, a few actually. 

For me the lure of Steampunk novels is it's unique and fantastical world building, It's like the Industrial Revolution on steroids where the world is getting modernized exponentially on one hand, and on the other there's an expectation for society to stay as is, keeping tradition and heeding to rules of conduct and class. Quite the contrast which turns the characters into mavericks. 

Unfortunately THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT has close to none in terms of world building. Aside from mentions here and there of automated carriages, horses, etc. and the cat's leg, I didn't really feel I was in Steampunk Victorian London. The details of this world is left for us to construct and imagine which didn't bode well with me. 

The dialogue also didn't feel authentic. Street urchins like Maeko has a way of speaking and some people might take it for granted but I am particular when it comes of word usage and "book accents" on my historical reads. Aside from the world, how people converse is another device authors use to take us back to a certain time period. No cockney accent here. 

Now it's not all that bad. I like the premise of THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT, it's the kind of craziness that I enjoy reading. I love the chase, the process of solving the murder mystery, getting away from the bad guys, and redeeming some of the characters. Unfortunately the execution of the story fell short. Maeko could've been an interesting heroine to follow but she and the rest of the characters need depth, dimension, and layers to flesh them out. 

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #117 + Ben Barnes & Seventh Son (The Spook's Apprentice)

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 

from publishers, authors and tour organizers

A LITTLE FAITH is special because it's my Matey's debut novel. Emma James is a pseudonym of a fellow blogger, Michelle from Novels on the Run Blog, who is jumping in the pool of storytelling. A LITTLE FAIR is NA-Contemporary and the first book of a series.

Won from Lily Element

Big & Small

Because BEN BARNES!!!

This week is my kid's choice. I don't read The Last Apprentice book series which SEVENTH SON is based on (The Spooks Apprentice, The Last Apprentice-Wardstone Chronicles 1 to be exact) but I love epic fantasies and this one looks awesome! 

Ben Barnes plays Thomas Ward, the 7th son of the 7th son, and he is training to be an exorcist until he was tricked into freeing the Queen B of evil, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), and all hell breaks lose. SEVENTH SON hits US theaters February 16, 2014

Last Week's Reviews

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September 13, 2014

Loved It: Cold Blooded and Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Cold Blooded | Red Blooded
Jessica McClain 3 & 4
Amanda Carlson
Urban Fantasy
October 8, 2013 | September 9, 2014

I am glad that I read COLD BLOODED and RED BLOODED back to back otherwise the cliffhanger from the former would be too long of a wait! Jessica McClain and her ragtag gang of vampires, werewolves, witches, and now a reaper, goddesses, and demons, are in constant motion. Putting one fire after the other, it seems like since Jessica's first shift, the supernatural world has gone cray cray and now Jessica's taken it upon herself to either put to things right or police the otherworld. No wonder "Jessica" in the RED BLOODED cover looks like she could use a fat hearty meal, this gal has yet to stay put in one place since Full Blooded and I think all the adventure sure is taking its toll on her. 

COLD BLOODED is the best and strongest installment in the series and my favorite so far. Immediately following the events of Hot Blooded, COLD BLOODED starts when Jessica's witch BFF, Marcy, and her pack's second, James, went missing which almost started a war between the werewolves and witches because the latter think James abducted Marcy. Obviously that's just the tip of the iceberg and nothing is what it seems in Jessica McClain's world. Marcy missing was nothing but bait because Hell wants Jessica to stand trial in their court for crimes she committed which is also tied to another prophecy. Being a female Lycan and the only one at that is a threat not just among werewolves but to the entire supernatural community. Naturally, Jessica isn't just going to be ushered to Hell willingly so the Prince took her brother, Tyler (my husband), as collateral and saving him is the main plot of RED BLOODED

Now I wasn't crazy about RED BLOODED, I didn't like "Hell" and all the demon politics that went with it. It had its moments, ACarlson can always deliver high powered action so there's that as well as more insight to being the Daughter of Cain and what lies ahead Jessica as she matures. That aside, RED BLOODED felt like an echo of book 2, Hot Blooded, when Jessica saved her mate werecat, Rourke, from the clutches of the crazy goddess, Selene. It's just the stakes are higher this time and weird alliances are formed.

These two books showcase how Jessica is living up to the foreboding prophecy about being The Female Lycan. Her powers are growing, her blood is like ambrosia, and her magic is fast becoming unparalleled and unrivaled. As a character, I love Jessica turning into a formidable heroine without losing her humanity, so to speak. She may be bossy but she still knows what matters. she always give everyone, including her enemies, the benefit of the doubt, and she's loyal to her team and friends to the end. Speaking of her friends, I wish they would be less followers of Jessica's beck and call and assert themselves more. Jessica might be a powerful person of prophecy but she's still a fledgling compared to her team.

As a series Jessica McClain is non-stop action. If you read all the books in succession and write the events in one timeline, all of these happened in a year, give or take. Now THAT is a lot of deaths, close calls, and adrenalin spent. However I also feel the focal point of the series is shifting and I'm still unsure if this is a good thing or a bad thing at this point. Maybe it's unfair of me to compare but when your series name is the same as your MC, I expect that the books would be centric to and directly about her (i.e. Arcadia Bell).

After Full Blooded I feel like the succeeding stories may affect Jessica in one way or the other but it's not necessarily about HER. To me it's like she's more of an accessory than the MC, like what happened in RED BLOODED. The demon business in Hell involves her but if you look at the greater scheme of things, her purpose there was more to aid than anything else. Sure her powers are growing in every installment, which is sort of the series plot and anchors the books as a whole, and as each volume is told in her POV the books are "hers" but IMO it's just a technicality. If you're a follower/fan of the series, I hope you understand what I'm saying. 

To close this back to back review, RED BLOODED ended in, yes, another cliffhanger. This time it's Jessica's dad who needs saving. The series is becoming a chronicle of rescue missions and though I'm excited what's going to happen in Pure Blooded, I have to say that I'm getting wary of the formula. I hope something else happen in book 5 because it's starting to feel like we're reading different versions of the same story.

September 11, 2014

Loved It: Slash & Burn by Alice Bello

Slash & Burn | Kiss
Slash & Burn Series
Alice Bello
Contemporary Romance
April 2014

Before anything else, know that SLASH & BURN volume 1 is FREE on Amazon (and everywhere else) so please grab a copy! The other links are below in case you don't use Kindle. 

Now to my review!

So I've been on a slump, that or I just need more sleep, so I can only read short novels currently. I can't get behind anything "heavy" and I can always trust on Alice Bello to sweep me away with her lighthearted romantic romps, SLASH & BURN is no exception. 

The premise is simple, SLASH & BURN is sort of a second-chance in love with a few awkward situations and sexy times thrown in the mix to keep things interesting. Liz Hamilton wanted to give her V-Card to Jackson Burk back in college but the handsome jock declined it. Liz carried that bitter rejection all these years until one fateful day when their paths crossed once again. Seems like Jackson's been remorseful over what happened between him and Liz all those years ago and he's bent on getting her back.  

SLASH & BURN is leaning more towards the romcom/chick-lit side than the staple contemporary romance with weeping heroines and dramatic confrontations and revelations. Liz and Jackson had quite the... reunion in the dirty back alley. Okay it was a bit yucky because it's dirty in more days than one coupled with their dysfunctional display of exhibitionism but it didn't remain like that for long. ABello has a knack for making awkward situations funny and Liz and Jackson's post coital bliss didn't last for long... unless they want the restaurant owners to call the cops on them. 

Now SLASH & BURN wasn't just about unwise, spontaneous, and animal displays of attraction. It has a few sweet moments and heartfelt interactions between Liz and Jackson that it didn't take long for him to melt her cold heart. Jackson's explanation why he rejected Liz all those years ago was sweet and thoughtful even. The overall conflict does feel a little shallow but in this case it's acceptable because the premise isn't all that complicated anyways. I simply like that nothing about these two novellas are heavy and emotionally taxing.

So, ABello is helped me get through this week and I enjoyed SLASH & BURN immensely! The novellas are to the point, didn't linger much on the extras and the secondary characters were as fun and crazy as Jackson and Liz. The ending of Kiss, volume 2, was a bit of a cliffhanger so I am looking forward to reading how Jackson is getting himself out of the mess especially now that him and Liz are back together.