Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Sorry for any glitches in this post. I write it from the mobile app, but this is perfect for today.

What better Christmas Eve story to read than Lily Stargazer? This review will be brief because the story is brief but filled with the spirit of the holidays.

Chasing Christmas Past by Melanie Karsak

That's right. Melanie Karsak has given us a short story about my favorite airship crew on Christmas Eve. It is an excellent little short and a great introduction to the series if you haven't started it yet. We get to meet the full crew gearing up for the annual Yuletide Airship Race and see how some of our favorite relationships began. I love these little short stories in between publications; they keep my excitement from fading and the series on my mind.

This is seriously one of my favorite series. Earlier on my blog, I reviewed both Chasing the Star Garden and Chasing the Green Fairy so read through those if you are curious about this great series. I am also very much looking forward to Chasing the Fog next year.

I hope everyone enjoys their individual holiday season!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Peculiarity abounds through time and space

This review is for the second book in a series! I will not be divulging any spoilers to the initial plot, but please be mindful that Hollow City will not be as much of a fun read if you do not start with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, of which I gave 3 stars.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was an excellent first novel. Of course it had its limitations and growing pains of a fledgling book, but I appreciated the new story and unusual gang of characters. There is a sideshow, vaudeville theme combined with creepy photos from history. The main character is dealing with tragedy and new found extraordinary life. Young adults, of a sort, coming of age, of a sort (oooo--mystery), while they travel across South England. These ragamuffins are actually quite endearing. The second book is even quite the improvement on the first gaining it an easy 4.5 stars.

This is not a horror story; this is not a pee-your-pants, bone-tingler; this is not for those who wish to shut the book in the freezer. Perhaps for this reason the books have been getting a mix of praise and abysmal reviews. Know what you are reading before you rate it in the trash bin. The book is about a group of teenagers. If you expected it to be anything but a tad bit creepy and chock full of odd, then shame on you.

The adventure continues on directly where the last book left off. This beginning is not made to just walk right into; you will need to read the first novel to understand the plight the children find themselves facing. As the story develops, we get to meet even more peculiar children and even a few peculiar animals, and the pacing for the whole plot is quite right. There is a deadline to this story, and we are certainly pushed along (while also getting to enjoy the scenery). The writing develops quite nicely in this sophomore novel as well as the plot. I can really feel this author getting his feet under him.

The book abruptly ends as with the first novel. The story itself is wrapped up nicely, but we are then presented with so many new questions. Excellent form of cliffhanger. I look forward to the third novel. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Seriously awesome magic here

Phew, that is over. As much as I love the success of our conferences at the day job, they are a bit exhausting. I end up with very little time to read. I need to have a new resolution for next year--find more time to read and find someone who will pay me to do so. I am unfortunately going to fall short on my reading goal of 75 books as well this year. Plus side to this, promotion at work is what is eating up my time. This week, back to Netgalley for some of my standard fair--epic fantasy!!

The Fifth Vertex by Kevin Hoffman

I got an email from Netgalley about a great new Young Adult writer who is going to compete with the big dogs of epic fantasy. After reading this novel, I believe they got it right. I would easily give The Fifth Vertex 5 stars based on its writing and fantasy creation. This is a great fantasy novel with some seriously awesome magic. You don't see the standard elf/dwarf/magician dynamic in this story and that is refreshing in itself, but what I absolutely love about the story is the global span. You have cultures that clearly never leave their little spheres suddenly crushed together and having to get along. They need to determine where to lay their trust amongst betrayal and deception.

These are also not races of the dark ages with nothing but stick huts and horses that are found in your typical epic fantasy. Hoffman has broken out of the box to find interest for the modern Young Adult fantasy enthusiast. The races he created have technologies--really cool technologies: wind cloaks, submarines, and siege towers from hell. 

I appreciated the growth of the main protagonist, Urus Noellor. This is clearly a coming-of-age story being in the Young Adult category, but it had a fresh feel. He is learning his magic with no help from anyone and completely (realistically) scared out of his wits about what the magic could do to him and those around him. He is also deaf, which puts a wrench in anyone teaching him and a new meaning to isolation. While at the same time, we get to see the development of Cailix in her magic via tutors--deranged, frightening tutors, but at least she has someone to teach her. Hoffman is uniquely showing us both sides of the coin. 

The antagonists of the story are appropriately creepy and villainous. They are truly disgusting. There are multiple types of magic and each is very well developed in the story. I never really felt lost for character abilities. The mystery of what we don't know struck my curiosity, not my frustration--love. This book has all the great epic fantasy aspects. I am really looking forward to The Blood Sigil

A sad fact that seems to becoming more of my reality--I am not happy with where modern literature is going. This fact did not completely detract from my enjoyment of the story and it certainly cannot reflect on the magnitude of awesome that is The Fifth Vertex. Fortunately for me, there are still plenty of classic pieces of literature out there that I have not read to give me relief between struggling with adapting to modern literature.

To keep up-to-date with The Sigilord Chronicles visit Kevin Hoffman's website, his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Quantum mechanics in modern fantasy

What a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. I am grateful to have had such a relaxing break from work with my family. It really recharged my soul. I was also able to read quite a bit. One of the books from the weekend was a gift from the author. I really liked the concept of the plot so was pleased to be invited to review it. I think it could be placed somewhere in between the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres; it definitely has aspects from both present. The novel should appeal to quite a large crowd.

The Branches of Time by Luca Rossi

I found this book to be very intriguing. The first couple of chapters were a little rough as I got used to the author's writing style. The flow and language didn't pull me in right away (which could be caused by some translation struggles), but I am glad I continued reading. The pacing evens out and we get to the meat of the problem for the protagonists pretty quickly leaving plenty of pages for the actual development of characters and plot. I was extremely pleased with the depth of world creation happening straight from the beginning.

There are a lot of threads being carried out simultaneously in both time and space. We have two countries that were once one. They are divided by physical barriers to keep each other safe from one another, but 2,000 years later the citizens are questioning the wisdom of their forefathers. Then we have some time travelers. Then we have some aliens/gods (who knows just yet) watching over all of it. That is a lot to have happening. Surprisingly, I didn't really feel all that lost with the characters. Each chapter has a feel of its own to separate out where the story is going.

Some of the character arcs are not to my liking, but that is all a matter of personal taste. Once again, I find a book getting a little too explicit without the real need. Especially when all the other scenes are handled so wonderfully without it. It does give the story a nice dynamic difference, however, and I certainly hate the character (which I am pretty sure is to be expected of me). I guess I'm just not ready to role with the literary times of gratuity.

What I truly enjoyed about the story was the concept. Time travel and quantum mechanics can bring up the most fascinating discussions. I really appreciated Rossi's description of how time and space are interconnected like the branches of a bush. There was a lot of thought provoking story line despite feeling like the narrative was a little chaotic. The ending just sort of happened, and I kept hitting the forward button on the Kindle anyway looking for the last chapter. 

Honestly, I just think there was a lot for the author to tackle with so many story lines needing to be woven together. Certain aspects are going to suffer with all the juggling. I look forward to seeing where the series goes, and I give this first novel a healthy 4 stars.