Sunday, February 26, 2012

Future Release Review: The Prophet

The Prophet (Apr 24th)
Book #3

The Prophet is a solid book, with all the elements that first drew me to this series. As always, these books are well written and has a added creep factor, without rising to a level of Horror. However, I do admit that it took me an inordinate amount of time to get through this particular book. The book has less of scary and creepy feel as the second book, The Kingdom, but a satisfying and somewhat final conclusion, made this a worthwhile read.

With Asher behind her, Amelia returns to her life in Charleston and her haunted detective. A ghost of a murdered cop enlists her help, and she quickly becomes embroiled in dynamic mystery, full of lies, murder, drugs, and ghosts. And at the center of all this is Devlin's hedonistic dead wife.

I had numerous issues with this book, none of which had anything to do with how it was written.  Amelia is a different person around Devlin.  She displays a marked amount weakness, co-dependency, and lack of self-worth.  I spent most of the book wanting slap some sense into the woman.  Other mild annoyances include: revisiting the Devlin subplot, the lack of suspense & fear, and the cliched endings to the ghost & murder mystery subplot.    The ending alludes to this being the last book in this series.  If this is the case, I will gravely be disappointed.

In summary, I liked this book overall, but I can't say it was my favorite.  The pace was about the same as the others, but I found my interest waning at times. Having said that, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of the series.

Warning: One sexual scene, albeit, not too graphic.

This book is set to release on Apr 24th. I received an advanced copy via Netgalley.

-Life is too Short to Read a Bad Book-

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A good Sci-Fi Read

Judging by the cover and reviews, I thought I was in for a steamy Sci-fi Romance ride. Well, it didn't end up ringing true to my initial impressions. This book is more like a Sci-fi thriller/adventure with romantic elements. I was very surprised on how well constructed and interesting this story turned out to be. No truly steamy parts, but definitely a very good read nonetheless.

Earth is a distant generational memory for a group of colonists traveling to their new home, Paradise 18. That is until an incident causes them to crash land on the closest habitable planet of Tundra 37. The mystery of this strange frozen world and the half human pilots, known as the Seers, suddenly starts to unravel.

The book takes the precarious perspective of various people aboard the ship. One a disabled but very sharp girl, that doesn't really fit in the new world the colonists are working to build. Another is the perspective of one of the Seers, a once human girl who is now more machine and controls the ship, along side her twin sister. Through her flashbacks, we get a bit of a glimpse back to the Old Earth and the causation of the devastation that catapulted these survivors into space in the first place. We also get to see the story from Gemme and Miles perspective, which held the majority of the romance in this book.

I thought the romance was spot on, but a bit tame. More YAish than I first expected, but it was still good. The best part of the book was the main story. Well constructed and damn interesting, I thought every perspective and scene was well placed and edited. It all seemed to fit well together. However, I do have to comment that there seemed to be quite a few mistakes or typos throughout, but not enough to be truly distracting.
Gemme is a hi-tech matchmaker who pairs the next generation of Lifers aboard the Expedition, a deep space transport vessel destined for Paradise 18. When the identity of her lifemate pops up on her screen, she's shocked that he's the achingly gorgeous and highly sought after Lieutenant Miles Brentwood, a man oblivious to her existence.

Believing everyone will think she contrived the match, she erases it from the computer's memory. Just as comets pummel the ship and destroy the pairing system forever. With the Expedition disabled, the colonists must crash land on the barren ice world of Tundra 37 where Gemme is reassigned to an exploratory mission, led by Lieutenant Brentwood. Only in the frozen tundra does she understand the shape of his heart and why the computer has entwined their destinies.

In summary, If you are looking for a good Sci-Fi story with a bit of romance, then this book might be for you. As a self-proclaimed UF lover, I really did enjoy this book. If you are looking for steamy romance, then I would suggest a book called Demon Possession. This book is labeled as book #2 in a series, but it reads like a standalone and I didn't miss anything from reading this book on its own.

Note: Safe for 15+
-Life is too Short to Read a Bad Book-

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Best Buy gift cards w/ eReader purchase

Best Buy gift cards w/ eReader purchase: $20: Kindle Touch, Nook touch; $25: Nook Color; $30: Kindle Touch 3G

This coming week's Best Buy ad features free gift cards with eReader purchases. The eReaders are otherwise typical MSRP. The rewards are as follows:

* Kindle Touch (w/ special offers): $20 gift card (Price: $100)

* Nook Touch: $20 gift card (Price: $100)

* Nook Color: $25 gift card (Price: $200)

* Kindle Touch 3G (w/ special offers): $30 gift card (Price: $150)

This ad is valid for next week, 2/12 - 2/18. Doesn't say if this promotion will be available online.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

$50 Walmart Gift Card w/ Kindle Fire Purchase

Walmart Stores are selling the Kindle Fire 7" 8GB WiFi Tablet + $50 Walmart Gift Card for $200. So, essentially Walmart is selling the Kindle Fire for $150.  This deal can be had on Walmart online.  I'm not sure if this deal is available in the store.  Valid from Feb 5th-14th.
Walmart Link   Slickdeals info Link

In sad Sunday news, my PC's hard drive finally shit the bed, after yet another unceremonious power surge (however it was like 9yrs old, so it had to have happened sometime). This has got to be the 10th power surge I've experienced in my new place.  I finally waved the white flag and order a couple of UPS' in anticipation for the next siesta. Anyways, it might be quiet around here until I get my new hard drive.

Phase 3: Weekend Project

The center was sitting at my doorstop yesterday, right after returning from my 4th hardware store visit. Trying to find the best color of stain and method is proving a bigger challenge than finding the right piece of furniture. I do have staining experience, but mostly with Minwax waterbased stain. The oil is way too messy, odoriferous, and takes forever to dry. This time around, I had to ditch the waterbased, since they don't come any "natural" looking colors.

Okay so here is what it's supposed to look like unfinished and assembled.

This is what it looks like, right out of the box:

1-Minwax Gel Stain (Cherrywood)
2-220 grit sand block
3-Oil based Pre-conditioner 
4-Oil based Satin Polyurethane 

Of course after reading the instructions, my excitement dwindled a bit, because now I have to run to the store, yet again, for wood glue this time.  

My only issue was where to start.  Should I sand each piece first outside, then assemble and stain or stain and assemble?  I have a bit of a predicament with not a lot of room and a apartment rule against staining, so I'm going to have to do this on the D-L and mostly inside.  I hope I don't suffer any brain damage as a result. 

So I decided to stain everything first outside, then assemble at the end.  My first go with the gel stain turned out pretty good, but I'm unsure if this is "The" color.  

The gel is thicker than I imagined and has the consistency of pudding:

One coat on a unseen piece of wood:

This is two coats later, and while it's nice, I'm still not sure whether I should get another color and go over it.  I plan on adding one more coat later tonight.  I might go two-toned later after assembly.  

At this point, my tv console is looking more like the item below, than my original inspiration.  Please chime in if you have any suggestions or tips.  Thanks

Update: After lots of sweat and tears (okay, there weren't many tears involved), I finally finished. Yippee.  Now I'm working on my first computer build this weekend

Finished Product:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Weekend Project & Ramblings

I'm currently in the middle of a major Entertainment upgrade, which is sort of silly for someone who doesn't even have cable/sat and spends most of the time reading.  The uprgraditis hit me about 7 months ago, when I departed from my last place in Northern Cali. Unable to easily rid myself of my back-breaking old CRT, I was resolved to handling LR Audio and my bedroom's A/V setup for now.

Phase 1: Living Room
Old: 5-Speaker Sony HTIB w/ AVR & Sub
          Zenith dvd player
New:  RX-v671 Yamaha 7.1 AVR ($340)
            1 Polk Center ($99)
            2 Polk Towers ($215)
            2 Boston Acoustic CR67 bookshelf Speakers Surrounds ($99)
            HSU VTF-1 10" Subwoofer ($399)
            Panasonic 3D BD Player (Free-After Selling Avatar 3D)

Phase 2: Bedroom
Old:  20" Samsung CRT
            Pair of Bose Computer Speakers
            Sony dvd player
New:  37" Panasonic LED Tv  ($430)
            1 Pair of BA CR67 Bookshelf Speakers ($89)
            8" Outlaw Subwoofer ($175)
            Old Sony AVR, from HTIB
            Panasonic 3D BD Player (Free -After selling Avatar 3D)
            Belkin Universal Wireless Tv Adapter/Bridge ($16.99)

Phase 3: Entertainment Center
I actually like my old entertainment center. It matches the rest of my furniture and it has plenty of space to hid all my junk, however it doesn't fit anything bigger than a 37" LED tv. I sort of figured I painted myself into a corner all those years ago when I bought the darn thing. So the old center goes, and that's the part where I'm currently at now.

I really wanted this:

But at $1400+ and not having the opportunity to check it out first, it wasn't really an option for me.

So instead I bought this unfinished center for $311, with the hope that I can recreate a similar look of the uber expensive one.  It took almost a month to receive it, but now I'm pretty excited with the possibilities. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Overpriced E-Reads

I've never heard of St. Martin's Griffin Publishing House before today. I'm not usually all that interested about the ends outs of how my daily entertainment makes it from author to reader, but when two of my most wanted new releases are priced higher than a steak dinner at Sizzler, I take notice. I don't know what this publishing house is thinking pricing an e-book so high, considering it takes zero dollars to produce or distribute it, minus the fees associated with selling on different sites.

Here is hoping that this isn't product of a greedy cooporation, but just the extra costs associated with the production and marketing of these books and maybe a donation to helping this company with their yearly altruistic endeavors, like helping the very need kids of Bavaria out. Because there are needy kids there as well, I know, I looked it up.

Third Grave of the Left
Book #3

E-Price: $10.99
Book #2 E-Price: $9.99

Saddie Walker is Stranded   
Book #2

E-Price:  $9.99
Book #2 E-Price: $14.99 discounted to $9.99

New Release: Haunted

Haunted  2.99
Book #2

This is the second book in the self-published UF series by Ms. Natusch. A well written and edited book that continues Ruby's interesting story. I found this book well paced and quite witty at times, but I do have to concede that I thought the first book was in a league of its own, even with a few minor complaints.

So why didn't I like this one all that much? It's hard to pin-point exactly why this book never entirely drew me in, but if I had to say, it was probably the lack of character development and its thin plot. Everything about the first book worked to bring me in. From its engaging beginning, where we find Ruby mysteriously hurt and sitting under a tree, not knowing how she got there, to the thrilling ending where she makes her heroing escape with her new found friend Cooper. Overall, I found the first book's plot very tight and completely thrilling from beginning to end.  But I can't really say that about the second book, and we don't really progress all that much through the series' main plot either. I thought this book was fine, however I really never found myself entirely vested in the plot or the characters, like I did with the first book.

As I said, the plot runs a bit thin, with the first half consisting of Cooper becoming a troubled roommate, Ruby taking in a friend's teen, and Ruby attending dance class. This book's story is definitely a slow burn, as we discover the true mystery behind all the weird occurrences in Ruby's life around mid-point. And once I did get into the meat and potatoes of it all, I just didn't find it all that interesting or had enough wherewithal to care about the outcome of anyone, especially young Peyta.

Not much of the series' main plot is covered until the very end.  And that part seemed rather rushed and just a mere afterthought. We also don't get much interaction between Ruby and Sean throughout. Because of this, we get little in the way of sexual tension or romance in this book, especially compared to the first.

In regards to character development, it felt like the focus was more on Ruby's friends, rather than her, and her ARC sort of suffered as a result. In addition, I found myself disliking Ruby more and more, as the book progressed, due to her vindictive, snarky, and nagging behavior. Her venom towards Sophie also seemed a bit excessive and I found myself actually rooting for Sophie by the end, and I don't think that was author's intention.
After his near death experience only months earlier, Cooper’s behavior is rapidly deteriorating.

So what does Ruby do? She adds a new roommate into the mix. When her friend Ronnie is abruptly called away for a family emergency, Ruby takes in Peyta, Ronnie’s highly intelligent and overly observant teenage daughter. With an increasingly unstable Cooper in the house, Ruby fears for Peyta’s safety.

But when Peyta’s behaviors become as perplexing as Cooper’s, Ruby finds herself juggling a series of lies to ensure their safety as well as her own… Until the lies, and the bodies, start dropping.

In Summary, while I do think this book is well written, it just didn't hit the same notes for me as the first. And because of that, it was a miss for me. Still, I'm curious and anxiously await this author's next effort.

Warning: Expletives freely used.

-Life is too Short to Read a Bad Book-

Future Release Pick

The Kingdom  
Book #2  (Mar 27)

One of the most haunting & unnerving series I've read, gets even scarier. Another well written read, that starts off a bit subdued, but quickly escalates to an eerie thriller that reveals plenty.
Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town. Amelia has been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but she quickly comes to the realization that she was brought there for another purpose entirely.

And while our haunted and handsome detective doesn't make an appearance in this book, there's still plenty of hot romance to be had, as Amelia uncovers the mystery behind the strange town that is Asher Falls. What makes this an especially good read, besides the eerie backdrop, is the amount intrigue, family betrayal, incestuous like affairs, and secrets that are uncovered, along with finding out how it all relates to Amelia.

Somewhere between a Dark Fantasy and a Horror, I found quite a few scenes to be completely unnerving and extremely creepy.

“His voice came from the bottom of the stairs. He was no longer in the chamber with me. But the arm was still holding me....  I was alone in the chamber with Emelyn Asher’s withered corpse.”

In Summary, if you liked the first book, then you will definitely enjoy this one. For those who are craving a bit of thriller/horror with their Fantasy, this is the sure ticket. Reaching my top favorite series to follow, I look forward to reading more in this series and anything this author has to offer.

Warning: Some Violence & Sexual Content, but no sex.

I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley.  This book is set to be released on March 27th.

2-The Kingdom  (Mar 27, 2012)
3-The Prophet (Apr 24 2012)

-Life is too Short to Read a Bad Book-