Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Blood Street by Carl Alves

Title: Blood Street
Author: Carl Alves
Publisher: End of Days Publishing
Release Date: November 24, 2012

Blood Street is True Blood meets the Sopranos set in the streets of Philadelphia. When vampires tangle with the Philadelphia mafia, one thing is certain - all hell is going to break loose.
Alexei chose the wrong neighborhood to claim his latest victim, a member of Enzo Salerno's crime syndicate. Now Philadelphia mob boss Enzo Salerno is determined to hunt down the man who killed his associate in such gruesome fashion in his South Philly row home and serve his own brand of old fashioned Italian style vengeance.
Perplexed by this unnatural murder, Salerno uncovers clues that lead him to believe that this was not a mob hit, and that a vampire was responsible for this death. Magnus, the leader of Alexei's brood, must use all of his resources to save them from both the mafia and the FBI, sparking a bloody war that plays out in the streets of Philadelphia. Who will survive on Blood Street?

This was truly like nothing I have read before.  The description is spot on: True Blood meets The Sopranos.  It was kind of amazing to see the mesh between the vampire underworld and the mafia.

Let's talk about the plot:
This plot was completely believable.  It starts with the gruesome murder of one of Enzo Salerno's associates.  Before long, this mob boss is swept up in getting vengeance for his friend.  Until more people are murdered and the FBI is brought in.  FBI Agent Mark Andrews and Enzo have to put aside their differences if they want to catch this serial killer and make him pay for his crimes.

The murders are so horrific, they're in the news as being done by "The Vampire Killer."  Only, no one actually believes it could be by a real vampire.  Because, you know, vampires aren't real, right?  This book is super action-packed, full of all types of fighting.  And crazy weird vampire lore.  

Let's talk about the characters:
Alexei is the main "villain" of the book.  He is a vampire who is over a thousand years old (talk about ancient).  He is the "Vampire Killer."  He has a penchant for consuming human organs, even though it is taboo.  And he has a strong dislike for his brood leader, Magnus.  Alexei is a slightly predictable character.  He always wants blood and never cares about being discreet to hide his kind.

Magnus is the brood leader of the vampires in Philadelphia.  He is about as old as Alexei.  But he hates Alexei.  Magnus is a more complex character.  It was hard to know what he would do from moment to moment.  He kept his thoughts hidden well.

Enzo Salerno is Philly's mob boss.  He operates off loyalty.  He doesn't want to believe vampires are real, but when he finally faces the facts, he has to accept the truth.  And he nearly gets himself killed from his vendetta against all vampires.

Mark Andrews is an FBI agent assigned to investigate Salerno's alleged illegal activities.  When the "Vampire Killer" strikes again and again, he decides he has to put old grudges aside and ask for help in the least likely place.

So what did I think?
Overall Alves did a great job creating the dark and dangerous setting of South Philly.  And the mafia and vampire world combined together was very interesting.  Completely recommended to anyone into paranormal, fantasy, or horror.

Note: I received a copy of this for in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (10) Court of Fives

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're super excited about!

This week I'm waiting on:

Title: Court of Fives
Author: Kate Elliot
Pages: 448
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 18, 2015

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors--one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy--causes heads to turn. When Kal's powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test her new friend's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Well.. It's mah birthday today!! wooo!!  I'm so excited about the upcoming release of this book.  I'm hoping it will motivate me to get my arse moving and exercise.  But really, the plot looks amazing.  And high fantasy is totally my thing.  Can't wait (even though I'm just getting older and older lol)!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's Top Ten theme is Top ten books that feature characters who are... orphans!!

Well isn't this one just obvious?  Wil and her band of misfits are all orphans fighting for their kingdom.  And I just love this book so much.  Did you guys check out the covers for the novellas? They're so pretty I want them all!!

Even if you don't know all about who Celaena really is, if you have read the first book you know that her parents were murdered and she escaped and became a famous assassin.  These books are amazing.  I am so excited for Queen of Shadows to come out!

So the main character doesn't start out an orphan in this book.  But she is one about... one chapter in 1 think?  

Alina and Mal are both orphans from the beginning of this series.  They even grew up in an orphanage.  

Do I need to say it? Pretty much all Cinderella stories feature an orphan in some way or another.  And this one is a cyborg!!

Mather and Meira grow up without parents as refugees from the kingdom of Winter.  Not too spoilery... but... one of them actually still has parents!  I'm not saying who though!

This book... was such a strange dystopian.  The main character is in jail for murdering her parents.  But she escapes and lots of identity crises ensue.

Finn and Sean's father died.  Their mother abandoned them.  They only have each other, their farm, and Roza... until Roza goes missing.

This entire series... I can't even count the orphans on one hand... Let's see (by the way, spoilers!): Robb Stark dec, Sansa Stark, Brandon Stark, Arya Stark, Rickon Stark, Jon Snow dec, Viserys Targaryen dec, Daenerys Targaryen, Robert Arryn... good God Martin! 

I really loved this book.  And Arin was a wonderful character.  He was so complex.  He just wanted to be part of a rebellion for his country, but things got so complicated with Kestrel.  I have to get the second book...

What's your top ten?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Writing a Book

So I was searching my computer and found an old file entitled "Chapter 1" (because that is so descriptive, right?).

Sidenote: The files on my computer are all named things like Chapter 1, Dragons, ehhhh, Untitled, Untitled 1.  Apparently I know what things are by the worst description possible. End Sidenote

Anyway, I opened it up and found that it was a YA dystopian I had started writing about 3 years ago.  I totally forgot about it.  I had gotten writers block and just set it aside. But today, the ideas started flowing and I was like "whoa! I could actually finish this!"

I wrote about 2 1/2 chapters today and came up with a whole bunch of new ideas.  I changed a bunch of names, and I practically changed the entire plotline.  I went back through and revised a bunch of stuff, reformatted some lines, etc.  I hope I'm on a roll.  But we all know that things happen and you just get stuck.  But I'm hoping to have a finished manuscript to bring with me to YallFest.  A girl can dream, right? (And to answer my own question: I'm sure nothing will happen with it, but sure. I can dream.)

Does anyone else try to write and experience (apparently extreme) writer's block?  What do you do to deal with it?

Review: The Temple of Doubt by Anne Boles Levy

Title: The Temple of Doubt
Author: Anne Boles Levy
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: August 4, 2015

Set on a unique and magical planet called Kuldor, The Temple of Doubt tells the story of a young girl who pits her doubts against her faith.

It's been two six-days since a falling star crashed into the marshes beyond Port Sapphire, putting the wilds off-limits to fifteen-year-old Hadara, a loss she feels deeply. She's eager to join her mother beyond the city limits to gather illegal herbs and throw off the yoke of her tedious religious schooling. Medicines of any sort are heresy to the people of Port Sapphire, who must rely on magic provided by the god, Nihil, for aid. And if people die from that magic, their own lack of faith is surely to blame. At least, that's what Hadara’s been taught—and has so far refused to believe.

Hadara and her mother have ignored the priests’ many warnings about their herb gathering, secure in knowing their tropical island is far from Nihil’s critical gaze. Then two powerful high priests arrive from Nihil’s home city to investigate the fallen star, insisting it harbors an unseen demon. This sets off speculation that an evil force is already at work in Port Sapphire and brings one of the holy men to Hadara’s doorstep. When he chooses Hadara as a guide into the wilds, she sets off a chain of events that will upend everything she’s been taught about the sacred and the profane.

The Temple of Doubt is the first installment in a series that follows a teenager who is given a greater destiny and purpose than she could’ve ever imagined.

As a whole, the concept of this book was interesting.  I like the thought of a rebel against religious fanaticism.  But the entire society was annoying.  They were completely puritanical, and it made reading about certain things almost painful.

Things that were awesome about this book
The Gek creatures.  I mean come on. Lizard people?  That's pretty cool.  The magic that was used was also pretty neat.  The overall plot was interesting too.

Things not so awesome about this book
The world as a whole.  I didn't like the way the puritanical people acted about everything.  I also wanted to punch Amaniel in the face multiple times, but I have a feeling that was the point.  One other thing that annoyed me was Hadara's little crush on Valeo.  She thinks she's all grown up and in love, but the girl has no idea what love is.

The end kind of fell flat as far as cliff-hangers go.  But at least I was still asking at the end, "Was it a star? A demon?  Maybe another god?"  What was it that fell from the sky?

Like I said, I didn't love it.  But the plot kept it interesting enough for an enjoyable read.  Recommended to those who like more fantasy-like dystopians.

Note: Received eARC from Edelweiss for an honest review.