Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Agent of Artifice Winner!

The winner of the signed copy of Agent of Artifice is:

Jessica Peeling

Congratulations on your win! Your book will go out as soon as I receive an email with the details on where to send it.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and be on the lookout for the next giveaway!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Last day to enter giveaway!

I hope that everyone out there had a good turkey day yesterday. Even though the holiday is over, remember to be thankful for your blessings every day. And be safe if you are out there shopping this morning. There are a bunch of crazies out there I'll bet.

I am sorry the Agent of Artifice review came so late. Last week I got really sick, and as soon as I got meds for it, my DH and daughter got a stomach bug. So I was drugged up for a sinus thing and still trying to take care of them (sounds fun, huh?) and didn't get all the posts in I intended.

It is up though! So remember to check it out and comment for the giveaway, which ends at midnight tonight! There is still a low number of entries, so anyone has a good chance! Remember, you get one entry for each giveaway post or Townsend review post you comment on, as well as for following on FB or GFC, and for tweeting!

I will be away from internet at the renaissance festival all weekend, so the winner will be posted Monday! Good luck to everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Agent of Artifice



Agent of Artifice by S. Evan Townsend
ISBN: 978-1937593186
302 Pages
Available in Paperback and on Kindle


Synopsis:
In this sequel to Hammer of Thor, the story of the adepts continues as told by Michael Vaughan. On the surface, Michael Vaughan looks like an ordinary guy - he has lots of money and loves chasing women. Appearances can be deceiving though. In reality, Michael is a rouge adept sent on a mission to assassinate Fidel and Raul Castro in Havana. Using spells, he is able to infiltrate the enemy bases but things don't go according to plan and he is caught. His talisman is stolen from him, leaving him in a weakened state, fighting for his freedom and to reclaim his life.

My Thoughts:

Agent of Artifice has an abundance of colorful Cuban imagery and historical insight. It paints a picture of life on the streets of Havana in the mid 1950s. As with Hammer of Thor, the historical images are greatly detailed, but there is a good balance of fantasy as well, so the "non-fiction" elements aren't really overbearing.

The main character is an everyday Joe, so to speak. He shows his flaws in a manner that makes him seem more human and likable. In fact, all of the characters have their own well developed personality and traits.You get a feeling for who the characters are and the interactions between them are believable.

This book is a non-stop action movie in text format. Vaughan takes you on a trek from Cuba to the US and back again, with never a dull stop along the way. There are plenty of well written battles and a ton of other action packed scenes involving poker games and character relations.

One thing that was noticeably different in this sequel was how the time line of the events was handled. In the first book in the series, everything was done in a linear fashion, while in Agent of Artifice, the story jumped around, having "flashback" moments and then coming back to the present. Often, this can be confusing, but I think it was handled well. There were very few moments where I got confused with the order of events or which characters were present in the current time and place.

Overall, I thought that this was a great story. Agent of Artifice is an exciting adventure that you will not want to put down until the end. It is a worthy sequel to Hammer of Thor, with plenty of action and intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat. I can't wait to see what is next for this series.

I was contacted by the writer and given a free copy of Agent of Artifice in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Parent's Guide:
Agent of Artifice, like it's predecessor, is an excellent read for the older youths, like high school and college students. It is a good clean book - full of action but devoid of graphic violence and foul language. The writing is complex and younger kids would find themselves lost in the detail and historical descriptions and probably be bored easily.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Agent of Artifice Giveaway!

Look what came in the mail yesterday! This is the prize for the Agent of Artifice giveaway. A signed copy of the book, which just came out this Tuesday. Not sure if you can see the signature with the glare on the photo.




You may notice that the review for Agent of Artifice is not up yet. I have been fighting with sick, and after getting a shot at the doctor's office this afternoon, I came home and slept all day. Still not 100%, but I wanted to update so everyone knew what was going on. The review will be posted by tomorrow afternoon.

What this means is I am extending the contest deadline to next Friday. That's right! Another week to enter. I could end it earlier in the week, but with the Thanksgiving holiday, I don't see a lot happening on the postal front. So, remember to enter by next Friday for a chance to win this great book.

Ways to enter:
1 entry - Be a follower on gfc (Google Friend Connect)
1 entry - Like Paperback Goddess Blogs on Facebook
3 entries - Tweet about the reviews and the giveaway. Tag @PB_Goddess in tweet.
2 entries - Comment on the reviews for Hammer of Thor and Agent of Artifice
2 entries - Comment on the 2 other giveaway related posts (this one and this one)

That is a NINE possible chances to win the book! Good luck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hammer of Thor


Hammer of Thor by S. Evan Townsend
ISBN: 978-1937593049
380 Pages
Available in Paperback and on Kindle


Synopsis:
The humans like to think they are in control, while really, they are manipulated and controlled by magic users who live among them, known as adepts. The adepts see the rest of humanity as below them. No government can control them and no authority can stop them. Some adepts are good, while others are evil. All are powerful. Many adepts use ancient relics called talismans to increase their power. The most powerful talisman in the world is The Hammer of Thor. When Hitler steals it from its rightful owners, the Valkyrie, an American adept called Francis Kader is reluctantly drawn into the effort to retrieve the Hammer from the Nazis. He sets out on a journey that leads him to a confrontation with Thor himself. What can this adept do to defeat an immortal god?

My Thoughts:

Hammer of Thor is a treasure of historical and cultural insight. It brings forth images of life in America and Europe during World War II. It gives intelligent and well researched descriptions of the technology that was available at that time, in a serious yet somewhat humerous manner. The historical images are greatly detailed, but there is a good balance of fantasy as well, so the "non-fiction" elements aren't really overbearing.

The characters are interesting and make you want to like them - even some of the bad guys. To be honest, I was rooting for Morgan. Each character had it's own well developed personality and traits. Often in books with as many characters as this one has, they become a blur at a point and you forget who is who beyond the main three or four. This was not the case here. Each character had enough distinct and memorable traits that it was easy to distinguish who they were when they returned after several chapters' absence.

There is a plethora of action to keep you on your toes. Kader hops from continent to continent throughout the book and never seems to see an uneventful moment. The battle scenes are well written, and you can imagine the actions unfolding in front of you, like you are watching a movie. Even the less eventful scenes are detailed in such a manner that you feel involved.

Hammer of Thor is a non-stop adventure from beginning to end. It sets the bar high and does not disappoint. There is action and intrigue, and it always leaves the reader guessing. With many books, I figure out the ending long before I get there, but with Hammer of Thor this was not the case. Every turn was a surprise.

I was contacted by the writer and given a free copy of Hammer of Thor in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Parent's Guide:
Hammer of Thor is an excellent read for the older youths, like high school and college students. It is a good clean book - full of action but devoid of graphic violence and foul language. The writing is complex and younger kids would find themselves lost in the detail and historical descriptions and probably be bored easily.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Reviews and a Giveaway!!

This week, I am dedicating my blog to a somewhat new writer - Mr. S. Evan Townsend.  This year has been a busy year for Mr. Townsend, with the release of Hammer of Thor back in the summer, and the sequel, Agent of Artifice, which goes on sale tomorrow! This week, I will be sharing my opinion on both books - Hammer of Thor on Tuesday and Agent of Artifice on Thursday.

I will also be giving away a SIGNED copy of Agent of Artifice! How do you get a chance to win? Easy.
Be a follower the blog on GFC - one entry.
Comment on this post - one entry.
Comment on each of the reviews after they go up - one entry each.
Tweet about the contest and the reviews - one entry each (max of three).  Tag @PB_Goddess in tweet.
Like Paperback Goddess Blogs on Facebook - one entry.

That is a possible eight chances to win! The last day to enter the giveaway will be Friday, November 18th, 2011. One winner will be chosen at random from all entries received, and will be notified by the following Monday. Remember to leave an email address to be contacted at, and check back Monday to see the winner posted on the blog!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dragon's Pupils - The Sword Guest


Dragon's Pupils - The Sword Guest by Martin Chu Shui
ISBN: 978-1921578472
300 Pages


Synopsis:
Liz is a half Australian and half Chinese girl growing up in Australia. her primary focus in life is environmental issues, particularly watching her friend’s handsome brother, who is an environmental activist. When, on the eve of her fourteenth birthday, a catastrophic accident sets thousands of ancient monsters loose, Liz's world changes forever. Suddenly Liz finds herself wishing she had paid more attention to her father's numerous ancient Chinese stories, as she finds that she must learn many new skills and call on all of her Chinese heritage to prevent the monsters from destroying Earth. Aided by her twin brother Henry and her best friend Sue, Liz sets out to discover why the monsters exist and how to stop them. Can she learn enough about a world she has ignored to stop the monsters in time?

My Thoughts:

I want to start off by saying this: The Sword Guest is an exciting and original story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it once I got into it.

The narration in The Sword Guest is abundant with cultural lore. I love seeing the various ancient Chinese stories that bring forth images of the Great Wall and days long gone. There is plenty of action to keep you entertained as well. The battle scenes are descriptive without going so far as to be overbearing. The varieties of monsters and villains and the interactions with them are interesting. I found myself surprised when vampires came into the story, but liked the way that they were written. It was a refreshing change to the more human vampires portrayed in so many novels today.  

The characters are well all developed, each having their own desires and dreams. Most importantly, they were likable. Focusing on the main three characters Liz, Henry, and Sue - I found myself at moments questioning the believability of their actions. Not their "super hero" actions - this is a book after all - but rather their everyday, "normal" actions. There was something about the way these fourteen year old children were running around, sometimes without parental consent, at potentially dangerous environmental rallies and protests, that irked at me a little. Even when they asked for consent, it was no big deal, like it was an every day occurrence. I loved that they were impassioned about their cause, but it still felt a little too farfetched. However, saying this, I have never been to Australia and I do not know the cultural differences. Children are raised differently across the world, and it is very possible that this is what the writer experienced growing up in Australia.

This book was written to target an adult market or a teen / young adult market, and it will be much better received in the youth department. The action and story is there, but many adults may find it hard to relate to heroes in their early teens. 

There was one notable thing that confused me while reading this story - the use of parentheses. In most books, a reader will come across a phrase or word that they do not understand, and they will have to look it up. There are several words in The Sword Guest that may have that effect on readers. Yet, I noticed on some of the simpler ones, there is an explanation within the writing, in parentheses. To me, this is seen as an editorial note, and it is distracting because it pulls you out of the story. As I read, the use of parentheses cropped up a few times, either defining a phrase or giving a background explanation of something occurring. It just seemed to me like there had to be a better way to put that information in there that would not bring the reader so abruptly out of the narration.

Aside from the parentheses, the biggest issue I had with The Sword Guest was the number of spelling and grammar errors - the first one as early on as two pages into the story. I came to discover that there were several such errors throughout the book. Now, I don't see this as all the fault of the writer. Writing a book is a long and arduous process, and a writer needs to have a good support system of editors and proofreaders behind them. This book was in need of a little more editing before publication. With a bit of polish, it would be perfect.

A while back, I was contacted by the writer and given a free copy of The Sword Guest in exchange for a fair and honest review. To be honest, when I was approached to review the book, I agreed knowing very little about it. I don't even recall if I read the synopsis first. I made a claim that I would review anything, and I planned to stick to it. I am really glad that I got to read this book though, because it had all of the elements of a good book - interesting characters, good background and lots of lore, a few surprises, and plenty of momentum. I am definitely looking forward to more from this writer.

Parent's Guide:
The Sword Guest is an ideal fantasy novel for young readers. The writing is not too difficult, but also not so simplistic that it gets boring. It has plenty of things to keep them entertained, as well as reminders to be environmentally conscious. I would highly recommend this book to preteens and teens - particularly those who enjoyed novels like those in the Goosebumps series. It does not use foul language, however,  there are a number of violent encounters, some of which are graphic. I would advise parental discretion based on the age of the child and how easily they are affected by visual imagery.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Magyk

Magyk by Angie Sage
ISBN: 978-0-0605-7731-5
576 Pages


Synopsis:
The seventh son of the seventh son, named Septimus Heap, is declared dead and taken away by a midwife on the night of his birth. On his way home that very night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, discovers a bundle in the snow which contains a baby girl with violet eyes. He brings her home and the Heap family raises her as one of their own. But there are many questions to be answered. Who is this mysterious baby? What really happened to their son Septimus?

My Thoughts:
Magyk is a colorful read, full of fantasy and whimsy. The author describes everything in such a detailed manner that you could almost see the tiny room that the Heaps spend their days in, or close your eyes and navigate your way along the city walls.

The characters are unique and full of personality. They each have their own kooky traits that make them feel a little more real. You find yourself being drawn into their world, empathizing with them as they face trials and willing them to succeed.

With the lore, it reminded me, in a way, of Harry Potter. It had a similar wizard and non-wizard conflict and epic battle with an evil wizard feeling. One big and notable difference is that, Harry Potter lived in an imaginary world within our real world, while the Heaps live in a completely original world. Now, I am not saying that Magyk is just like Harry Potter - it is, by far, a different story, and one with it's own merits. However, if you are a fan of such works as the Harry Potter series, you will most likely enjoy this book.

It did seem to me at times that the writer had a touch of ADD. The story would be going smoothly about some event that was occurring, and then would, all of a sudden, shoot off on a wild tangent. Not about something un-related, mind you. They would mention something in the path of the narration, and then go off into a three to four paragraph of the description of the particular item. It didn't feel out of place, just strange. Afterward, they would go back into the narration of the story, and it flowed okay, so it wasn't really a big deal.

This next bit is something that gave me a giggle. I joked to someone that you could tell the writer was a woman because she had a shoe fetish. Not really, but it did seem as though she had an obsession for this one pair of purple shoes. They were mentioned several times, and it was never a casual mention. Every time they were brought up, you were given more information about the materials, the origins, even the emotions they had. From what I could tell, they were not even integral to the story in any way. Perhaps they have more meaning further down the line though.

Overall, Magyk is an entertaining read. The plot is very well developed. I was a little sad that I guessed the big plot twist before the end - in fact, I knew it from the setup. I don't blame this on the writing though. I blame it on the fact that I grew up reading Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew, and that I love watching Detective Conan. It's just how my mind is programmed to work. The same thing happened with a few of the other books I read right after this one. Darn my inquisitive mind.

Despite figuring out the end before I got there, I absolutely loved Magyk. It was an interesting story that kept the reader's attention from beginning to end, and I am eager to continue the series.

Parent's Guide:
Magyk is an excellent fantasy novels for young readers. I would highly recommend this book to preteens and teens - particularly those who enjoyed novels like those in the Harry Potter series. It does not use foul language. There is a small number of violent encounters, none of which are graphic or gory. Magyk is a nice, safe read for young ones.