August 21, 2014

Review - Ghost Seer by Robin D. Owens

Ghost Seer
Ghost Seer #1
Robin D. Owens

Published: 22 May, 2014

Berkley Sensation, mass market pbk, 296 p.
ISBN: 978-0-425-26890-2

There's just something about Clare.  Apart from the ghosts...

When her eccentric aunt passes away, no-nonsense accountant Clare Cermak inherits more than just money.  She receives the gift of communicating with ghosts.  While Clare may not believe in sprirts, it's hard to overlook the shadowy talking dog appearing on her bed or spectral cowboys tipping their hats to her in the streets of Denver.  And when she locks eyes with sexy - and living - Zach Slade, there's certainly no ignoring him either.

A former deputy sheriff, Zach is leaving a painful past behind in Montana for a new life in Denver as a private investigator, a job that has him crossing paths with beautiful Clare.  Not the she minds.  After the restless ghost of an Old West gunman demands her assitance, Clare finds herself needing Zach more and more - and not just for help.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

I was looking forward to Ghost Seer, but I have to tell you right off the bat that, for me, this book did not live up to it's potential.  Like numerous paranormal romance books, the use of psychic powers is nothing new, and inheriting them from another family member is a common device.  So when Clare inherits her abilities from her great aunt there was nothing special about that. . . until you find out that her aunt has left her detailed videos and journals to help her find her way.  This was a great twist, and will certainly prove helpful in future installments in this series I'm sure.

Another 'inherited' item from her aunt was the ghost dog, Enzo.  At first he has a lot of trouble trying to get Clare to admit that she has this ability, but there are times when I think that there is more to this furry ghost than meets the eye.  There are a few moments when even Clare questions his form, so perhaps in future books we will find out what is going on there.

Now we come to the main relationship in Ghost Seer.  Zach is a former deputy sheriff, quit due to an on the job injury, and ends up in Denver interviewing for a PI job.  A grumpy, pain in the buttocks character, he meets Clare and within minutes, she's somehow gotten through the hard shell he protects his emotions with.  Surprisingly, it turns out that Zach too has abilities, but instead of acknowledging them - or seeking medical explainations like Clare - Zach has buried any responsibility, or acceptance, of his 'thing' with seeing the crows.  Perhaps this harkens from a Native American ancestry, but he's so not interested in the supernatural.  Which puts him on a collision course with Clare as she comes to accept the responsibilities her gift has in regards to her future, and that of her family.

With two very prickly main characters, it took me a long time to have any feelings for them.  I'm still not that interested in them.  Zach is very standoffish and angry at the world for all the bad things that have happened in his life, and Clare is in over her head and scattered.  The fact that these two end up in bed relatively quickly is just one of the flaws in this series.  I don't know why authors, who are intending to write a series, throw their characters into each others arms ASAP.  The forced intimacy just doesn't work and they usually come off as cheap and easy.

I did like the batty aunt of the guy that runs the PI business.  She's also got a touch of the sight, and is the first to acknowledge Enzo when in Clare's presence.  Annoyingly, there are only a few scenes with the aunt - and the lady that also lives in the house (but I've forgotten her name!) - as well as a lack of character development in Zach's new boss, who is also tolerant of the paranormal aspects.  The ghosts that Clare runs into, who want her to help them, add to the chaos.  It seems like Ms Owens is trying to push very hard to have her world building done in this first book.  So many things going on that it just gave me a headache.

So while this will probably be the only book I buy in this series, I may pick up the 2nd book at my library just to see whether or not it improves.  Okay character development, and average world building that just couldn't deliver on a promising idea.

Until next time,

August 20, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday - Top Worlds

This week we're counting down the Top 5 Worlds.  When I think of worlds, I think of the amazing world-building in my favourite series that allow you to effortlessly jump into a book or series and not question the environment {people, places, objects, technology, etc} around the characters at every turn.

So in honour of the Top 5 Worlds, I have mentally sifted through the hundreds of books on my shelves and after careful consideration, I finally narrowed it down to my top 5 worlds...

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The world of Harry Potter is wonderfully imaginative.  I love the idea of a
 magical world hiding from the everyday, Muggle, world. 

Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh
This is a fabulous series about angels and vampires and Archangels {oh my!}
With a great storyline, amazing characters, action, romance, and every other
emotion from A-Z, the Guild Hunter series is a great way to spend a few hours.


Anita Blake Vampire Executioner series by LKH
 The Anita-verse comes in third for world building.  Although I haven't enjoyed
 the last couple of books in the series, the world building has remained
 amazing.  It takes skills to make shapeshifters, zombies, necromancers 
and vampires seem like everyday folk you might share a town with.

In Death series by J.D. Robb
With 38 books in the series published - and counting - the In Death series is just
a brilliant collection that revolves around the life of Lt. Eve Dallas, and her husband, Roarke,
in the not too distant future of 2060.  Robb's imaginative ideas of what our world might be like
in 50 or so years is so well done that I almost expect to see some of the tech ;-D 

Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
OMG!  The world building in the LOTR trilogy (and The Hobbit) is just so complex
and imaginative.  With languages, poetry and appendices full of information, J.R.R. Tolkien
built a world that is so rich in details that you don't even have to watch the movies to
picture it in your mind.

So that's it for my Top 5 this week.  I hope you enjoyed your stay ;-D.  If you leave a link below to your Top 5 list I'd love to check it out.  Oh, and if you want to join the fun, then head on over to the Top 5 Wednesday page on Goodreads {here}.

Until next time,

August 17, 2014

Review - EON

Dragoneye Duology, Book 1
Alison Goodman

Pub:  2008

A&R, pbk, 430p.
ISBN: 978-0-7322-9011-5

Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, candidate Eon is training to become a Dragoneye - a powerful lord able to master wind and water to protect the land. But Eon also harbours a desperate secret - Eon is, in fact, Eona, a young woman who has endured years of disguise as a boy for the chance to practise the Dragoneye's art. In a world where women are only hidden wives or servants, Eona's dangerous deception is punishable by death. 

Still in disguise, Eona's unprecedented talent thrusts her into the centre of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. Summoned by the Emperor to the opulent and teacherous court, Eona must learn to trust her power and find the strength to face a vicious enemy who would seize her magic and her life. 

Inspired by the rich myths and traditions of Ancient China, this is a fast-paced, exhilarating page-turner that shimmers with energy dragons, and dazzles with deadly intrigue and breathtaking swordplay.

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave..."

After reading rave review after review, I pulled Eon from my TBR pile - where it has been languishing for about 2 months! - and decided to give it a go.  I went into this book with such high expectations that by the time I'd finished it a few hours later I was having a real struggle with the mixed feelings I'd had while reading this book.  Personally, I don't get all the fuss?  It's a good book, but not the mind-blowing amazing read that I'd been expecting after all the online hype.  Was I deceived... or is Eon just not my cup of tea?  That is indeed the question.

Secrets lie at the heart of this book.  Everyone is lying to all and sundry.  If it's not a secret identity, it's a secret agenda, and there is enough political maneuvering that Alison Goodman should go into politics herself!  If it wasn't for the fantasy setting you would have a great political intrigue on your hands.

What I liked about Eon was the interesting world building.  It is clear and concise.  You can see the environment in which Eona and the others are navigating in.  I loved the use of the dragons in this story.  Not powerful creatures to fight, but a necessary partnership for the good of all.  The characters are well developed and are easy to picture, and as every great book needs an antagonist that you just love to hate, Ms. Goodman has ticked all the boxes as Lord Ido is such a hateful, selfish, arrogant and powerful foe that you just can't wait for him to get his just desserts.

But for all the good elements, there were some things that I just either couldn't overlook, or put out of my mind.  I know that the use of the Sun drug was a necessary plot device, but I wasn't impressed with it's use - or the consequences of it misuse in some of the characters.  I'm also not a fan of physical violence against young characters, and was pretty much turned off by the use of such casual abuse by a majority of the characters in this story.   Even the Lord who trained Eona wasn't above slapping her around - all in the name of learning, of course - but it really pulled me out of the story.

So, here I am.  At the end of the review and I still can't tell you whether or not I really enjoyed this book.  I can understand why so many people have raved about it.  The secret between Eona and the Dragons is very special - and unexpected! - and overall the ideas and mythology included was interesting... but would I buy more books if it was a series?  No.  

Perhaps I'm outgrowing YA books after all.  An unusual story, but worth the read.