Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy release day (finally!) to a dear friend

I have been waiting for this book for 10 years. I am so excited and happy to be a part of the first novel experience. Happy release day Caitlyn, you finally became an author.

Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland

This is a great first attempt at writing. While I may not have swooned over the novel, I give it a solid three stars and do wish to continue with the series. I want to see where this adventure grows and develops. There was enough interesting context on the foundation that some of the newbie writer fatigue can be forgiven.

First and foremost it is a love story with dragons (and I am not automatically fond of love stories taking it down a notch for my interest). The best part of this love story is honesty. The author honestly shows the emotions behind falling in love. While many readers may end the book by wanting to wring Kai's neck (I would be one of those), you need to hold to the fact she is 20. A supposed adult who doesn't really have to be an adult by today's standards. Clearly this is also the first time she has really thought about the long term. So just be happy with the honesty of the emotions the author presented.

Which leads to my second minor disappointment to the story. Where is my dragon history? There are some really awesome dragon battles going on with some really awesome dragons. Clearly the author has researched some areas to expand outside the norm, but I want more! Most readers will be familiar with European dragons and their legends from all the European fairy tales Americans grow up reading. What I enjoyed about this novel was getting tastes of dragons from other cultural mythologies. Different shapes and abilities that just had my imagination seeking more information. This is the main factor keeping me set to come back to the series--further development of these other dragons. 

I may be a little spoiled by Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, but I want to give this series a shot. The price is right for starting a series with a completely unknown author so I suggest giving it a go. The rest of the series will be out by the end of the year, which is another huge plus. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The final trip into the corn. Who will eat whom?

Happy Release Day to Chuck Wendig again! I cannot believe that it has been an entire year.

The Harvesting by Chuck Wendig

I said I was looking forward to the conclusion to The Heartland Trilogy in my last review. Fortunately, the book did not disappoint. I have definitely had an up and down relationship with the series (reflected on my previous review here). The story has contained many aspects that I could live without, but that's reading for you and what makes it so beautiful. There are so many different voices out there, and they can all exist in fiction. I have never found any of these novels to be unreadable.

The conclusion here is succinct and covers all plot threads. I was really pleased how it all came back around--from all the little lines in the first book to the larger points that make the story. However, the book is a little too short to explore the true depth of the characters that are clearly falling apart. We skim the surface of their insanity but never really brush the causes at heart. While all the characters had dispersed on the wind like pollen, they were entangled in each others lives again to ride out the armageddon (showing that there is almost a fatal attraction to what we know and where we've been) in relatively quick order. The build up for all the action seemed to happen rather abruptly.

The story is once again written elegantly and little high class for some of the plot material, but it keeps you reading. I really was entertained by the inclusion of the biological terror that came from Hiram's Golden Prolific. We got to go back to the roots of bioengineering and its consequences on foods. We returned to the debate of nature versus technology. I would say it even made the first two books make a little more sense with Under the Empyrean Sky concentrating on nature and Blightborn concentrating on technology. We fully experienced both sides of the argument.

I am just pleased that an author managed to come up with an ending that feels conclusive and right. I could certainly read more books in the Heartland, but I won't feel like I have missed out on something if I don't. I even gained a greater appreciation for the first two books I read meaning the foreshadowing was subtle enough to not ruin the outcome.

This series is solid. It may not top my list of all time favorite books, but they are easily recommended to readers of many ages. Plus the price for them is right on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Reminiscing my valley girl roots

I have a very hard time believing that many of the things I grew up with, the things that molded and shaped my ideals, are releasing anniversary editions in their second decades. My review for today will be pretty simple. The novel is not the typical kind of book I read or review, but I could not pass up a chance to reminisce about my valley girl roots.

As If! by Jen Chaney

I had to wait a really long time if I would be approved for this novel. I had almost lost hope that I would get it in time for the release. It was so easy to get immersed in this collegiate thesis on such an iconic movie. 

Jen Chaney takes the time to explain how a chancy adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma could become a staple to Generation X and Generation Y. Many others from the previous generations also enjoy the movie, but it ultimately created a new identity for those born after 1975 without ever meaning to do so. 

The whole book is written wonderfully. All of the anecdotes really make you feel a part of the movie from a personal level, not as an audience member. I never felt exhausted by the format of formal thesis writing. Nothing was above my head or pompous. It had a beauty and comedy just like the movie it is immortalizing.

It was so great to connect to my favorite movie in yet another way (instead of watching it for the unknown time and driving my husband from the room). 

Happy release day to the cast and crew of Clueless and Jen Chaney for taking the time to solidify the immortality of such a staple movie. I know this is a different kind of book, but I highly recommend it.