Monthly Archives: June 2012

UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

UnEnchanted is a YA novel and is one of the better written attempts to cash in on the Twilight craze.  Throw in a bit of Grimm (the TV series), faeries, fairy tales gone wrong and you have a mildly entertaining book.

The basic plot isn’t that complicated:  Our heroine Mina Grime – with the tried and true Bella Swan personality of clumsy! and unpopular! – discovers she’s the descendant of the Brothers Grimm who were tricked by ancient fairies to fill a magic book (a Grimoire, of course) with captured stories.

But the stories aren’t your typical fairy tales.  They’re been shifted, adapted and turned into modern re-tellings, some of which are actually clever.  In the first book we see Hansel and Gretel as well as Red Riding Hood.  Chandra’s clever twist in the Red Riding Hood story caught me rather nicely by surprise!

However, there are flaws with this book.  The main character is a better done Bella, but it’s still a wincingly obvious un-character who has flashes of being her own, interesting and flawed person … only to be shoved back into being Bellamina Grimm.

I enjoyed this light little YA romp enough to buy the sequel, Fairest which takes on Cinderella in a cleverly twisty fashion.  UnEnchanted is worth the read and worth the price.

The author has three published books, two in the UnEnchanted series, with a fourth coming out soon.  Her website is:  Chandra Hahn: Books

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What’s in a review?

Reviewers use different means of rating their books.  Stars, hearts, thumbs, knees and elbows, even smilies.  For myself, my rating system is a bit less (okay, a lot less) organized.

If I like a book it’s either okay, good, fun, worth a read, or great.

If I don’t like a book it’s either okay, bad, horrible, terrible, or worthless.

For me, the true test of a book comes to three questions:  Would I read it again?  Would I recommend it?  Would I keep it?

I’ll read just about anything once.  Reading it twice means there was something a little extra to the book that stuck in my head, something that brought me back to it.  It might be as little as liking a name, or how an author described something.  Who knows?  Just that little spark of something extra.

However, just because I’ll read something doesn’t mean I think it’s worth inflicting on other people.  If it’s a book worth sharing, I’ll share.  More rare, unfortunately, is a book that has to be shared even if the other person has no interest in the genre or author simply because it’s that good.

And then there’s the question of keep or not to keep.  I’m easy going about keeping books and even easier about donating them to the library or good will.  If it’s not worth keeping, it’s not necessarily that the book was bad.  It just wasn’t good enough.

Maybe I should switch to stars … that made no sense at all, did it?

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Dragonchaser by Tim Stretton

Dragonchaser is a fantasy novel with mermaids, magic, slaves and political intrigue set in a pseudo-roman/greek time period.  The book starts when the main character, Mirko, rescues a mermaid.  So far, so good; standard heroic set up …

But wait!

He’s a bouncer at a brothel, exiled from his homeland for reasons unknown, and works as a spy and – eventually – a galley master on a boat crewed by slaves and owned by a conniving, unpleasant, would-be Peremptor of the city.  So, not so much a standard hero novel.

In this city of Paladria politics are almost as much won though popular opinion as coin and scheming, and one way of winning the favor of the crowd is for a politician’s ship to win a series of races against other ships.  Throw in a love interest or two, and a handsome rival, and you’ve got the makings of what could be an interesting story.

However, I never really felt all that attached to Mirko – or any of the characters, really.  The villains were mortal, human and petty (which is refreshing; a cartoonish villain can do more to ruin a story than any insipidity on the hero’s part) and the story moved along at a good, steady pace.  I just never felt drawn in.

To me it felt like I was reading the second draft of a book, one where you could see the potential in the story and how, with a little effort, it could turn into something fun.  I enjoyed the way Stretton brought magic into the story and how nicely all the pieces were lined up.  Nothing felt forced, plot-wise, and nothing felt fake.  It just felt a little … unfinished.

Because everything was so neatly planned out it seemed as though Mirko had little more to do than go where he was told to go, see what he was told to see, do what he was told to do, and then to move on to the next page.  I never got the sense of urgency from any of the characters, or the sense that the events of the story were bigger than they were.

But even with that, it was a solid read and well-written.  While I would have wanted more from the story, I wasn’t left feeling cheated or like I’d wasted my time.  For a free book it was well worth the price, though it’s not one I’ll be keeping on my kindle.

It does not appear as though a sequel is in the works, though the other has two other books available at Amazon for purchase and several short stories up at his web page.

Author’s Website:     Acquired Taste

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Free, free, free!

For Christmas I was given a Kindle Fire, and like many new owners I immediately rushed to Amazon in search of shiny new books to fill it with.  Two problems soon became apparent.  Ebooks are expensive!  Many times the ebook I want to download is more expensive than simply buying it in paperback; sometimes it’s more expensive than buying it in hardback!

Add to that some of the books I need new copies of (since my paperbacks are disintegrating from use) like the Demon Of Undoing or the Pride Of Chanur simply aren’t available.

So, I turned to the vast selection of free books.

So many, many free books.  And I have zero restraint when it comes to books.  In order to make myself read each and every one of the several hundred free books I seem to have downloaded, I’m going to review them and record them here, where no one will ever find them.

So, here we go:  My first review will be Drag0nchaser by Tim Stretton.

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