Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

Title: How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight #1)
Author: Jax Garren
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: Out Now!
eISBN: B0092MPT80

Look at that cover. Isn't that the most enticing thing you've ever seen? I'll fully admit that I was drawn in by the kick butt cover that had a beautiful and strong looking woman on the cover that wasn't the typical "porcelain doll" perfection that you often see on romance covers. Well, that and I loved her outfit.

The Beast 

Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley "Hauk" Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He's starting to lose hope...and then he sees her. 

The Beauty

Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn't see. After she's kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed. 

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more? 

Now doesn't that sound cool? Not only do you have a book based around a burlesque dancer, but you also have an updated telling of Beauty and the Beast. Ok sure, I know that this is far from the first, but I really do love fairy tale re-tellings because most authors will put an interesting spin on the tale. That the "beast" in this one is scarred from fighting for his country is a nice twist because of what it might bring in the future of the trilogy.

First let me tell you the good. This has a good premise, that of an underground society, a rich girl turned burlesque dancer drawn into a conspiracy that applies to her more than she could imagine, and teasings of a potential romance between her and her occasionally rough savior Hauk. We're given a nice little sex scene early on in the book, which I'll warn you- is the only sex scene you'll get in this novella. There's some nice actions scenes here as well that occur later on in the book.

The bad? We don't have a huge amount of world building early on in this book. We're told some things, but by large this felt like it was part two of a larger series rather than the first book. I kept feeling like I was missing out on a lot, which kept me from getting as immersed in the book as I'd otherwise like. Every time I started getting really pulled into the story I'd read something about the Underlight in an offhand way, reminding me how little I knew about the world and reinforcing the "second book" feel. I think this was deliberately done so that we'd learn about the world along with Jolie and empathize more with her, but it just drew me out of the tale. I'd like to say that this wasn't a big issue, but I know that for some this will be a deal breaker. Some won't mind this, some will, and while I know that part of this was because of the huge secrecy requirements of the Underlight, it still bugged me. It also didn't help that at times we went from no information to total information deluge. I just think that if it'd been a little more spaced out info-wise, it would've made it a more even experience.

Overall though, this wasn't a bad read and I'll say that it's worth the two dollar "cover charge" to read. I've read a lot worse that I've paid a lot more for and despite feeling occasionally lost, I'm curious enough to see what will happen next.

3 out of 5 stars

(eARC provided by Netgalley)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Goggles' best and worst of 2012

Hi all! I figured that I should detail some of the best stuff I've read this year. Some of the things I'll mention here are books, others will be things in slightly different formats. Not all of these were released this year, but are books or things that I've just recently discovered.

First off will be the best:

2012's best

1.  Jeanine Frost's Vampire Huntress series

I recently started this series this year and already I'm hooked on the audiobooks. The series is entertaining enough to where I think I'd like it even without the audio narration, but Tavia Gilbert really is one of the most talented narrators I've ever listened to as far as audiobooks go.

2. Trish Milburn's Coven series

While I admit that the series felt more compressed than I'd like, partially hampering my enjoyment of the trilogy's finale, this was an incredibly fun series to get into. I liked the characters and I especially liked that there wasn't that much of a love triangle in this as there could've been. Such things can be fun, but it's also nice to see things get more quickly resolved. 

3. The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz

If you're not aware of her, Julia Wertz is the insane mind that brought you Fart Party, a fun and fairly random webcomic about her life. In Infinite Wait Wertz talks about how she came to discover that she had lupus. It goes over her life in general as well, but all in all it's a sometimes sad, sometimes funny look into what was a pretty tumultuous time in her life. Not only does she dig into her feelings over the diagnosis, but she also touches upon her realization that she had become an alcoholic.

4. All things Junko Mizuno

Love the weird? The really, really weird? Then you'd probably like Mizuno's work. It's candy-colored bizarreness wrapped up in what has to be some of the cutest artwork I've seen in a while. If we were to mix Bjork with the Birthday Massacre, then crack them open to see what makes them tick, I think the resulting imagery would probably resemble Mizuno's artwork.

5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

This is the comic book series that has pretty much taken a lot of people by surprise by how popular it's gotten. Not only is the artwork freaking amazing, but the story line is just as good. It's your basic space saga mixed with a war between rival planets, with a pair of lovers caught in between it all. Definitely one of the stronger series out there. 

Worst of 2012

1. Becca Battoe's narration of Fifty Shades Freed

Out of all of the audiobook narrations I've heard this year, Battoe had to have been one of the most ill fitting narrators out there. She's not completely talentless, just a poor choice to narrate such a sexually charged book. Sure, sure, you could argue that it wasn't helped along by the book being completely repetitive, far too long for the story it tried to tell, and that the writing itself wasn't all that great. The thing about narrations though is that a good narrator can make any book 500% better. Battoe just made Ana seem like more of a vapid moron than what she actually was. She's probably great in her YA and kids books, but putting her to work reading an erotic novel is like getting Clay Aiken to play quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys: it's just not going to work.

2. The Revealing Eden fiasco

Here's the thing about the whole Save the Pearls scenario: I honestly don't believe that Foyt meant to come across as racist, clueless, and inept as she came across. If she'd done more research for the book, worked out the inconsistencies more (of which there are many), and taken the criticism from various ethnic groups more graciously, much of the scandal and outrage would never have developed. It's just that in trying to insist that she was right, that her book wasn't offensive to many different people, and that everyone else had the problem and not her, she made more people upset because if she couldn't see where her book was being offensive, she pretty much missed the whole point her book was trying to make in the first place. What pushes this up into the "worst of 2012" is that some readers didn't act much better, with at least one person trying to publish her personal information on the internet.

3. Shenanigans by Ian Shaughnessy

I think this has to have been one of my least favorite comic books of the past 3-4 years, let alone of 2012. An unbelievable plot (even for fiction) is further ruined by characters that are so unlikable and annoying that you just wish that a blimp would fall on them or that a zombie would come across and eat someone. It doesn't help that the romantic paring in this series is fairly unhealthy. Even Edward "Red Flag" Cullen and Bella "blank stare" Swan had a healthier relationship than these guys do.

4/5. Online Bullying

I'm not going to name names or point anyone out in specific because most could probably find this information out fairly easily. There are entire blogs and groups out there that covered most of the online author and reviewing wankery this year. What makes this worthy of two entries is that occasionally you had some poor behavior on both ends. While it's never OK for an author to go onto a review and bash someone's opinion for not liking it, it's also not cool to go around publishing their personal information and habits online. That goes for everyone, not just the people who claim to want to "stop bullying" by putting out information that people wanted to keep private. (And yes, there are screencaps out there with this info!) Even if you disliked her, putting out Foyt's home address and phone number is a pretty dick move. If you want to comment on something you view is unfair, comment on it nicely and step away if you think you're going to get heated. Don't go overboard by doing stuff like that. Even if all you don't intend to do that person any harm, that doesn't mean that someone else will share those same sentiments. We're readers. Not freaking Encyclopedia Dramatica. 

Press Release: IDW Heads into Darkness!

IDW Heads Into Darkness!
Publisher Announces Prequel Series to J. J. Abrams’ Upcoming STAR TREKTM Movie

San Diego, CA (December 14, 2012) – IDW Publishing will publish STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS, the official prequel series to Paramount Pictures’ upcoming movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. Like the best-sellingCountdown series before it,COUNTDOWN INTO DARKNESS will be the only place for fans to experience the events that set the stage for J.J. Abrams’ sequel to the 2009 blockbuster film Star Trek.

Written by Mike Johnson with a story by Roberto Orci and art by David Messina, this 4-issue miniseries will lead directly into the May release of Star Trek Into Darkness, bridging the gap between the two films and giving fans an exclusive peek at the film’s mysterious story.
“We were thrilled by the reception that the original Countdown prequel comic received in 2009,” saysJohnson. “We're excited to be working again with David Messina and the team at IDW to bring fans an all-new original story that leads directly into the next film. Star Trek is back in a big way in 2013!”
Packed with the high-stakes adventure and sci-fi intrigue that has made the Star Trek franchise a global institution, STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS is sure to delight the legions of fans anxiously anticipating the continuing adventure of the intrepid crew of the USS Enterprise.
STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS #1 ($3.99, 32 pages, full color), licensed by CBS Consumer Products, will be available in stores in January 2013. 

Diamond order code: NOV12 0340

STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS digital comics will be available via the iOS Star Trek Comics and IDW Comics apps, online at, and in the Apple iBookstore.

“STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” is written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof, based upon “Star Trek” created by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by J.J. Abrams.  Abrams will also produce with Bryan Burk through Bad Robot Productions, along with Lindelof, Kurtzman, and Orci.
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About IDW

IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro’s The TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE, Paramount’s Star Trek; HBO’s True Blood; the BBC’s DOCTOR WHO; Toho’s Godzilla; and comics and trade collections based on novels by worldwide bestselling author, James Patterson. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints; Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studio.
IDW’s critically- and fan-acclaimed series are continually moving into new mediums. Currently, Warner Brothers and Barry Sonnenfeld are attached to adapt LORE into a feature film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Disney are creating a feature film based on World War Robot, with Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes and Sony bringing Zombies vs. Robots to film.

Note: I'm fairly excited about this. My inner trekkie fangirl squealed over the Dr. Who and Star Trek crossover, so I'm excited about this as well!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Romance at Random's Hot Holiday Hop

Hi all! I'm just writing this quick blog to let you know that Romance at Random is holding a holiday giveaway for some really great prizes! They're giving away a $25 giftcard to the retailer of your choice, but they're also giving away copies of Julie Kenner's Release Me!

I have to say that I'm more excited over the potential to get a copy of Kenner's book than the giftcard, so part of me wants to snarl and keep this hop quiet to increase my chances of winning. (But I won't because that's mean and besides, being a bibliophile means sharing good books and chances to get them, not hoarding them like a dragon!)

For more information check out Romance at Random or click the links below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway