Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ravings of an Irrelevant Book Blogger

I'm no fool, I know no one is watching.  Google Analytics does not lie.  But you know what?  I find the fact that no one is watching ridiculously liberating.  I could say just about anything and it wouldn't matter.  I could admit that secretly love 'Stars Are Blind' by Paris Hilton, that I'm listening to it as I type this and no one would know.  This blog is like the Carson Daily Show of the internet--does his show still exist, by the way? (See?  See what I mean, self?)  Hardly anyone is visiting my little book blog, not even my mother.

Not yet, anyway.

Oh, but they'll come.  And they'll like it, too.  I'll be like The Bloggess, except I'll talk about books and be a lot less relevant.  It's going to be great.  I'll have reviews and interviews and giveaways.  People will subscribe, they'll love me.  And then?  When I finally win the internet the ARCs and galleys will come pouring in from all the major publishing houses.  I'll be swimming in free books.  A library of my very own.

(Soon preciousss.  Soooooooooon.)

Review: City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #3) by Stacia Kane

(Hey everyone! If all goes well this will end up being an honest to goodness--traditional--book review.  Before I get started I feel I should warn everyone I have ADHD and my medication is starting to wear off, also I dislike doing things the way they should be done--did I mention I also have Oppositional Defiant Disorder?   Because I totally do.  Anyway, my point is, despite the fact that I'm attempting to write a legitimate review I might go off on a few tangents like this.  Just thought I'd warn you.)

When City of Ghosts begins our protagonist, Chess, is on medical leave, recovering from the events of the last book.  Not only has her work life been put on hold, but her personal life is in shambles.  The only friend Chess ever had--Terrible, enforcer to a powerful drug lord--wants nothing to do with her, treats her with disdain, and rebuffs her attempts to make things right.  The other guy in Chess's life, Lex, is reluctant to walk away even after Chess tells him she's not interested.  She wonders why she let anyone into her life to begin with; a solitary life was less complicated.  Much drugs are had.

Then it seems things start looking up for Chess.  She's able to return to work, agreeing to assist the Black Squad on a particularly difficult case involving black magic.  Bound by a powerful spell, Chess is unable to tell anyone what she's doing, why she's investigating a building near one of her dealer's properties.  Because of this she is forced into working with Terrible once again--though, in all honesty, she craves Terrible's company, wants a chance to talk to him--and allow him to accompany whenever possible as she investigates so he can piece together what's really going on and report back to his boss.

Duty bound, Terrible does as he's told--works with Chess--but he is mercilessly cruel, says the worst things to Chess he is less than happy about it.  They discover there may be more to the case than originally thought: more players in the game, and a form of black magic Chess has never encountered before.  To make matters worse the woman Chess is reporting to is condescending and just plain irritating to be around.  Oh, yeah, and Lex keeps showing up.   It's a disaster.

I enjoyed this installment of the Downside Ghosts series.  I wish I could say I loved it, that I'll be giving City of Ghosts five stars, but I can't.  While I reveled in the relationship aspect, I sort of had to slog through the mystery/Chess's professional life.  It's not that the latter was uninteresting, it's just that personal relationships have become a big part of Chess's life, key to her overall character development.  Things between Chess and Terrible are so unbearably awful that it's difficult for Chess not think about it all the time.  Even I spent way too much time being angst-ridden over the whole ordeal.  I lost much sleep over it, walked around feeling like crap for a couple of days.  True story.  This isn't typical behavior; it's rare for a book to affect me so immensely.  

Because of my complete inability to relax until things were somehow resolved between Chess and Terrible, I could not focus on the mystery.  This is pretty unfortunate as the details of this particular case were a lot more complicated than any of the other cases Chess has worked on.  Which means I got a little confused from time to time and I was frustrated with myself and the book. 

Do I place the blame on Stacia Kane?  In her writing?  Her storytelling abilities, originality and timing?  When it comes to this specific series I'd have to say no, I don't blame Stacia Kane.  Sure there are aspects of the Downside universe that don't quite work for me, some of the details are a little fuzzy, and some grammatical errors (ironic I point this out, I know, seeing as I hardly ever edit what I say or write) but none of it stopped me from being so completely consumed by this series that I could do little more than think about it for a week straight.

I mean, it's a dystopian urban fantasy about a drug addict who traps ghosts for a living.  The characters are named Chess and Terrible. Other than Kane's talent for storytelling, for writing emotion in such a way that moved me on so many levels, there's no reason for this series to be among my favorites.

But it is, it totally is.  The Downside Ghost series by Stacia Kane is going on my 'favorites' shelf.  And even though City of Ghosts probably only deserves three stars--overall--I'm going to go ahead and give it four because it ends on such a satisfying note. 

I recommend this book, this series, for lovers of urban fantasy or those looking for something new.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Review: Unholy Magic (Downside Ghosts #2) by Stacia Kane


For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job. As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world’s unpleasant little poltergeist problem—humans filing false claims of hauntings—all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill. But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new “celebrity” assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes.

Someone’s taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it’s the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they—along with their ruthless employers—are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.


Kat, fellow Goodreader (and my favorite Australian) summed up this book best: gut-wrenching. This book ripped out my innards, tap danced all over them, unceremoniously shoved them back inside me, and sewed me up haphazardly. Sure, in the end, my guts were no longer all over the place but serious damage was done. And I liked it. Sounds like I'm being over-dramatic, I know, but you should see my Unholy Magic status updates.

This book, Stacia Kane's writing, sent me on an emotional roller coaster ride from hell. Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad thing. I mean, I do love roller coasters. I love the sensation of plunging down steep slopes and shooting through loop-de-loops at eleventy-billion miles an hour. I love screaming like a maniac, thinking I might die any second (knowing I won't). But see, that's just a regular roller coaster ride.

Unholy Magic, is more like a terrifying ride on a rickety old roller coaster that may or may not be missing some track. While being stark naked. Halfway through the ride you see that, indeed, there is a section of the track missing, and you realize you're about to die--But, wait! Instead of flying off the track and plummeting to a gruesome death, the roller coaster sails across the gap--Speed style--and lands on the other side, tracks lined up and everything. It's unbelievable.

In the end you're still alive and you feel exhilarated and invincible and you want to do it again. You see that you can because, hey, there aren't many people in line. But as you prepare to get up you vomit in the lap of the stranger sitting next to you.  Oh, and hey, you're still mysteriously naked.  

It's horrible, but in the best way possible. Does that make sense?

Now you're probably thinking I don't like like this book--I mean, "horrible in the best way possible" doesn't sound like high praise, amirite?  Well, you couldn't be more wrong.   I enjoyed Unholy Magic despite all the feelings--some downright beautiful, some so cringe-worthy I wanted to crawl in a hole and die--it stirred within me.

I don't know, I guess the best way to describe the experience is by saying Kane's writing is such that I felt as though I was there, within the pages of the book, watching everything play out. Not only that but I felt all of the characters emotions and it was amazing and terrifying and overwhelming all at the same time.

It was great.

I'll be reading Unholy Magic again, sooner rather than later, I just need a little time to recover. Four stars.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1) by Stacia Kane


The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

I'm going to start this review off on a tangent--when do I not?  As far as I'm concerned 2011 has been the Year of Meh.   Television has been practically unwatchable.  Movies released this year: heinous.  The books were, at best, mediocre.  Admittedly, there were a few notable exceptions but, for the most part, I'm disappointed.  

Over the past six months I've grown weary; struggled to finish most of what I've started, and, by the way, failing more often then not--you should see my pile of abandoned books.  Because of this I've been feeling the need to take a step back, maybe not read so much.  Maybe spend my money more wisely--it is ridiculous how much I spend on books and audiobooks.   You know, take a break. 

2011 killed my love of books (and movies and television).   

That said, over the past couple of days I've fallen in love with books (and reading) all over again.   I'm in love.  Love I tell ya.  Can't-get-enough-make-everyone-sick-can't-eat-or-sleep-head-over-heels in love.  Me and reading?  It's like we're on a second honeymoon.  I have Stacia Kane and her Downside Ghost series to thank because of it.  

I know, I know--none of the books in the Downside Ghost series were published this year.   It doesn't matter.  What does matter is I love reading.  Again.  

Funny thing, it's not like Downside Ghosts is The Best Series, Ever.  And it has to be said: it's definitely not for everyone.  However, as far as I'm concerned, it is compelling and addictive.  It's good.  

So.  Unholy Ghosts.  Where to start?   Twenty-five year old Cesaria "Chess" Putnum is a hot mess, and not in that chick-flick cliche can't-get-my-life-together-because-I'm-so-adorably-clumsy-and-I-wear-glasses-that-make-me-look-unfortunate-until-I-finally-remove-them-during-the-makeover-montage-and-that's-when-everyone-discovers-I'm-super-hot sort of way.  I mean the sort of hot mess that's boozy and pops pills all the live-long day.

I'm not going to lie to you.  I avoided this series for that exact reason.  Boozy pill-poppers just aren't my thing, or so I thought.  The other day I was looking through my kindle bookshelf and I noticed that I had the sample of Unholy Ghosts--for the life of me, I can't remember when I downloaded it.  Curious, figuring I had nothing to lose, I decided to give it a chance before I went ahead and removed it.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I couldn't go the rest of my life without reading more.  So I purchased it (FYI, the Kindle edition of Unholy Ghosts is just 99 cents).  

The thing I like about Chess is, well, I pretty much like everything.  Honestly, I don't even mind that she's a drug addict.  Of course, most of her problems wouldn't happen if she wasn't addicted to pills, but if that were the case Unholy Ghosts wouldn't be so good.  One of my favorite aspects of Chess's life her employment.  She works for the Church of Truth as a Debunker, which is a person who goes around trying to debunk claims of hauntings.  If she's able to then she gets a bonus and if she doesn't the homeowner will be compensated by the church and the debunker will rid the home of the ghost.  

Sidenote: Did I mention this is a dystopian urban fantasy?  Because it is.  Basically way back in the year 1997 ghosts escaped wherever it is ghosts go (or actually The City, as it's called in this series) and got all murdery, killing one-third of the world's population.  At the time The Church of Truth was just a small organization but they succeeded in capturing all the ghosts.  25 years later The Church of Truth is the only religion.   They pretty much run the government too.  Worldwide.  

The church has vowed to keep people safe from ghosts, which is why homeowners are compensated if their haunting is real.  /sidenote

Chess is good at being a Debunker and it's something she's proud of.  She also loves the Church of Truth, despite the fact that it reigns supreme.   I can't fault her for it because everything else in her life is crap--growing up being passed from abusive foster home to abusive foster home will mess you up, you know?  And anyway the Church is the only place she's ever felt safe, the only thing that's ever given her life value.   

Anyway, things get really interesting when Chess's drug dealer blackmails her into working for him. <--and I'm stopping right there because I don't want to ruin it for you.  Plus, this review is entirely too long. 

This isn't my favorite book in the series, there are a few things that didn't exactly work for me, but I still like it. (Just so you know Unholy Magic, the second book in the Downside Ghost series is...um...intense.  I'll be reviewing it soon).  Three stars.