Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl was fun and witty with plenty of action and development to keep the pages turning.  I went to my local library to see if the action and good humor continued in the rest of the series.

The Arctic Incident stepped the game up a notch.  The stakes were higher.  A new villain was born.  Old enemies became new alliances.  

Standard spy book stuff.  A bit to human spy, though.  The magic and fairy essence just seems to be missing from this novel despite it taking place in the fairy realm.  I was actually quite disappointed.

Unfortunately, my library only had up to book two, so I'm not going to see if the series rights itself any time soon.  (I have to hope that it must since it continues on for six more books.)

Sorry for such a brief review, I just had such lukewarm feelings.  No hate, but no love either.  Makes for short thoughts.

Monday, December 10, 2018

An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle

177363Had quite an odd moment with this novel.  I reached a point in the story where a Bible quote is discussed.  Immediately after my morning read, I watched the funeral for George H. W. Bush where the exact same Bible quote was read.  I have never had reading so relevant to my life.  It was a very eerie day.  But it really highlighted the beauty of Madeleine L'Engle to me.

To the book itself...  

Polly, the oldest child of Meg and Calvin, is sent to the Murrys farm for the summer to help her education.  There she runs into a fellow she met on a random beach on a vacation in Greece--which is just down right odd.  I know the world is a small place, but it just felt forced in the book.

Not only does she run into such an unusual suspect, but she also manages to walk herself right through a tesseract to ancient America.  (Remember those people we read about in ASTP?  They're kind of back.)

While I did not like the premise one bit, the book is certainly filled with excellent drama.  This is a book about death that triggers some serious philosophical debate.  Because it is about death, it is also very much a book about life.  

Polly is presented with challenges that mean the difference between childhood and adulthood.  I respect L'Engle presenting growing up as maturing, not overly flamboyant rebelling.  The young adult genre could stand to remember that.

This was not my favorite in the "Time Quintet," but I see the series as more of a thematic collection--the concept of spirituality inside science.  (Sometimes this novel isn't even boxed in the set.)

You can really read them in whichever order you please because the story lines are unique and finite.  But as I stated above, this is a thematic series, and reading them in published order builds the themes and ideas.  The characters aren't the main point.  Something that no longer seems done in today's writing.

Overall, I think the series is worth more than its individual parts, but I feel An Acceptable Time is well worth the time reading.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Small Gods by Terry PratchettThis is most commonly cited as grand poobah when I ask people which Discworld novel is their favorite.  I'm not sure why.

Now, now--don't pull out the torch and pitchforks just yet.  Terry Pratchett is preeminent in the writing of fantasy satire.  I even rank religious satire at the peak.  I'm just saying I'm not sure why Small Gods is listed in the coveted number one slot of Discworld novels.  I mean, who doesn't love trumped up turtles?  But even the cute, shelled geniuses can't sway me.

The pacing is incredibly slow, however.  It took me forever to read this novel and was honestly sluggish enough I chose to read several other novels before finishing Small Gods.  This is the first book I've struggled to complete in some time, and I was surprised it was a Discworld novel. 

We clearly are poking fun at organized religion and its disingenuous past in Small Gods.  It just isn't as well handled as many of Pratchett's other works.  The satire is clunky and pushed full in our face with exhaustive dialogue.  Subtlety has been completely lost in the desert with the small gods apparently.  

The philosophy versus religion, as well as the crisis of faith, undertones are in some places aggressive and in others passive.  Passive-aggressive is annoying.  No one likes it.  It jars the story telling.

The characters were some of the most lackluster in the Disc's part of the multiverse of any novel I have read so far.  I think I may have even liked the Faustian characters better--shiver.

I really didn't like Moving Pictures either, so I guess I just want my satire without cliche.  (Is that statement even really allowed to exist?)  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

A look at what the future holds.  Or does it?  That is the beauty behind this collection of short stories by Arwen Elys Dayton.  It will make you think and debate about a topic that is very real.  Are we meant for modification?  Where do we draw the line in the sand?  Are humans capable of playing God?

You may remember that I reviewed the start of the "Seeker" series from Arwen Elys Dayton a few years ago.  They were an excellent set of young adult fantasies with serious depth of character.  When Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful hit Netgalley, I had to request a copy.  (You can check out my "Seeker" reviews here and here.)

This is not an anthology, but it is a series of short stories.  This novel is a timeline of human evolution.  Each story revolves around a character experiencing our transition from human to something evolved.  Their stories are relative.  Through Reverend Tadd, we even get to see how the human reaction evolves.

This book will seriously make you think about our future.  It lays the foundation for conversations that are being had now in the scientific community but will be had around the kitchen table soon. 

At first, I was a little off with the short story chapter style.  I really got involved with the characters and their part of the human equation when their story would be over.  Every chapter has a conclusion to the individual voice with little bridge to the next chapter.  It was a little jarring.  However, each short story is beautifully built, and I really appreciated the short story format by the end of the book.

You will be able to get your copy Tuesday, December 4.  Head here to pre-order your very own copy.  You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

6699003I was feeling nostalgic so went looking for a fairy tale to read.  Why not one about a 12 year old evil genius looking to steal the pot of gold?  Also Artemis Fowl is about to get a silver screen treatment.

I have always had very mixed feelings towards fairy tale retelling.  I understand fairy tales were meant to be passed along and that will include its own bit of telephone with each iteration.  However.  The amount of modern retelling that abuse classics to the point I can't even find the original backbone is exhausting.

Artemis Fowl is able to take the fairies of old and insert them into the modern world because this is inspired by fairy tales as a whole without trying to retell any specific story.  Artemis Fowl plans on putting his white collar crime family back on top by robbing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

He is assisted by an intense mercenary trained from birth to complete any challenge, Butler.  He is hampered by a loony tunes mother.  He is definitely operating above his age group.  But can he really outsmart the fairies, who have protected their gold from humans for millennia?

This is a completely enjoyable quick read that I really hope they don't screw up in Hollywood.  It is action packed without being overly serious and grim.  An excellent variety of fairies are represented.  I'm going to need to see if my library has the rest of the series.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle

Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4)
Time does not flow like a river towards the sea in L'Engle's cosmos.  Many Waters takes place somewhere in between A Wind in a Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet--and some 3,000 years in the past.  

The story of Noah getting a fictional treatment gives me some mixed feelings.  I love that L'Engle's books have spiritual and quantum physics mixture, but taking a biblical story and making it her whole plot is a stretch for me.

Yet despite my misgivings, I couldn't put the book down.  L'Engle's writing is enthralling and thought provoking.  I may not have loved the subject, but the lesson was one of her best.  

The adventures of Sandy and Dennys start in the lab when they accidentally tamper with an experiment.  They find themselves in a desert with no way to return home. 

Unicorns make a second appearance.  These aren't your standard fairy tale unicorns.  These are quantum unicorns that travel through space-time.  We are also introduced to water divining mammoths, seraphim, and nephilim.

The regular people are interesting characters too.  The way that everyone interacts with each other and the lessons they all take away from each other are what make this story.  It is full of tension and excellent pacing.  I just wish it hadn't been Noah.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio RacesI had really meant to put this review up in time for the scorpio races, but I missed it and the opportunity for ambiance. But everyone here already is aware of my lack of timeliness so we'll just get along to the review.

On an island off the coast of what appears to be Britain of a begone era, a group of riders take on the ultimate challenge--racing water horses.  A young man named Sean has an astounding relationship with the water horses, but Kate wants to prove that it's not all about the local legends.

This is a gut-wrenching tale about choices, home, and love.  The cast of characters is a vast array of usual suspects.  They have nothing extraordinary about them, and that is what makes them some of the best developed characters I've read.  I was incredibly impressed with the sense of reality even being in a fantasy island with mythical creatures.

I picked this book off an Amazon sale for the horse race plot.  I want to be very forthcoming, if you are looking for a high action horse race, don't get this book.  If you want to read a high quality story with the bonus of horses, then certainly pick up this novel.  

The story pacing is definitely slow, but I never felt like putting the book down.  The characters are gripping and the tale itself is life.  By the end of the book, I was mesmerized.  A definite 4 star book.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la MuerteToday is Dia de los Muertos, and I have a spooky treat for you.  This is a nice little story if you are looking for seasonal reads to enjoy with all the festivities of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.

This is a side story from Lady Mechanika's past.  There is significance in character building, but none towards the plot that has been building in Volumes 1-4.  

Lady Mechanika has just lost Dallas and headed to the remote village of Santa Catarina.  She is trying to hide from her pain but has arrived in Mexico during the Dia de los Muertos festival.  The citizens convince her to participate as it will be more healing than hiding in her room getting drunk.

The citizens do not know, however, that Lady Mechanika always manages to run into the wrong people when she is on holiday.  The Jinentes del Infierno have been taxing the village for years as an order of protection.  Of course, Lady Mechanika can't abide bullying, so she gets involved.

The three comic set is short and sweet and a great Mexican culture representation.  How we deal with the loss of our loved ones is perfect for Dia de los Muertos, and the eerie coloring and gory plot are perfect for Halloween.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon

Image result for Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightI'm not even really sure how to write this review.  This was a rather unusual read for me.  I typically stay away from big general fiction sellers.  My mom gave me this book in our version of a book subscription box because it has a poodle on the cover and the lead character has autism.  

There were plenty of factors to this story that were relative and my mom gave it to me so I had to read it.  I finished the book last year, but I have put off writing the review for all the other books I have read in between.

In the end, I figured out how I feel about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  I enjoyed this book.  It has an excellent plot, characters, and writing.  I found nothing negative to say or dislike about the book.  But, there was nothing special.  There was no factor that made this book a favorite of mine.

It is a completely average book to me.  However, it does make sense that it is getting stage treatment--which looks utterly ridiculous and horrifying--from its popularity and has sold millions of copies.  

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Where the Stars Rise edited by Lucas Law and Derwin Mak

Some are good, some are great and some I really could have gone without ever reading.  But that's just how an anthology works.  I've lately really become fond of anthologies.  It is nice to just pick up a short story between projects.  Especially with the weather taking a quick turn to the cold side, I've not been able to garden for as long as I would like in a day.  I enjoy coming in for a hot cup of tea and a quick read.

Where the Stars Rise is a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories by Asian authors.  It has been a vastly interesting collection.  The eastern mythos provides an entirely different spin than I have been raised with and gives a nice edge when I get in a fantasy slump.

Some of the stories I would love to see get an entire novel based on these short prequels--such as The dataSultan of Streets and Stars by Jeremy Szal.  

Some were just great stand alone stories that really make you think about life--like any good science fiction should--such as Weaving Silk by Amanda Sun and Vanilla Rice by Angela Yuriko Smith.  I especially like the interlinked paradigms from A Star is Born by Miki Dare.

Some were just over my head because I don't have enough cultural heritage to understand the myths the authors are building around--such as Udatta Sloka by Deepak Bharathan.

Overall I give this short story collection 4 stars.  The ones I truly enjoyed well overrated the ones that were beyond my understanding or just poorly written (which there were only two).

Friday, October 19, 2018

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12; Witches #3)While the witches are not my favorite arc of the Discworld (that honor goes to Death), I do highly appreciate Granny Weatherwax--she is a very sensible woman--and Nanny Ogg is a hoot.  On the flip side, Magrat is starting to rub me raw.  I wish her character would trade places with Granny's hat (there is a little bit of a pun there).

The satire here is all about fairy tales and happy endings.  It's fairy godmothers versus witches in a showdown for who gets to influence the city of Genua.  There is great humor--as always with a Pratchett novel--overlaying the very serious topic of predestiny and choice.

Nanny Ott speaks fluent foreign, and I couldn't stop cracking up.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry

Image result for A Sudden, Fearful DeathWe've dealt with coercion, deception of honor, sodomy, and pedophilia.  Why not move onto rape and women's rights?  I'm starting to wonder if Perry's need to shake up the social cauldron is just ruining this series.

A nurse that Hester knew in the Crimea is found stuffed into a laundry chute at Royal Free Hospital.  All the staff are suspects, but everyone certainly looks with more scrutiny at the nurses than the respectable doctors.  We get into yet another status argument of women's capabilities--ad nauseam

The debate of man versus woman is the sole purpose of the entire case, which again spends most of the story being a courtroom drama with very little detective work.  In fact, being a nurse's death, we have Hester at the front of the novel and Monk barely present.

Not that I'm not grateful to be away from the amnesic suffering of Monk, but this is "A William Monk novel."  I really expect there to be more detective work and less legal argument.

I'm really started to fatigue of this series.  How I was hoping to find an excellent Victorian detective series with some morals.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time Quintet, #3)There is an extravagant time skip between A Swiftly Tilting Planet and A Wind in the Door.  Meg is now married to Calvin and very much pregnant.  I'm actually happy that an author didn't waste sequels on developing romance and dragging us through Meg's angsty teen years.

She is home for the Thanksgiving holiday--where only Charles Wallace remains at home--since Calvin is overseas at a lecture.  Her mother-in-law is suddenly drawn to attend when she has never participated in Murry functions previously.

L'Engle has taken us through the cosmos to determine what is reality, shrank us to minuscule farandolae to determine size is relevant, and now she is sending us careening through time to determine inter-connectivity.  Charles Wallace must learn that when you ask Where your are, you should really be asking When.

What would a children's fantasy be without mythical creatures?  We've met aliens, stars, and dragons.  Now, we get unicorns.  Such beauty and glory in the creatures that L'Engle depicts.  

I love the morals and the lessons that are ever present in the "The Time Quintet."  Some of the books are better than the others, but the series as a whole should never be forgotten in time.  The story elegantly weaves the history of people through a thousand years of time.  The decisions that were made by our ancestors is the consequence of our future.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Defend and Betray by Anne Perry

Image result for Defend and BetrayPerry certainly isn't afraid to tackle any social subject.  That is what drew me to start this mystery series.  I was hoping for a good mystery that I didn't solve right away but have failed in that mission.  What keeps me renting these books is Perry's unforgiving delve into social niceties. 

For all of that, Defend and Betray went too far off the soapbox for me.  Some subjects are naturally abhorrent to a rational human.  They don't need attention drawn to them.  While you may be trying to help the victims, you are just shining a spotlight on a behavior that could be given unintended consequences for all the attention.

The only redeeming factor to this book--after skipping chapters at a time when I figured out why Alexandra killed her husband--was the court scene at the finale.  I was only too happy to have missed the unnecessary dissertation on the immoral acts of the Carlyon family as well as the always too lengthy rambling of Monk trying to figure out his amnesia.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet, #2)Madeleine L'Engle took science and made fantastic stories for children.  She combined the modern sciences with the magic of faith and tradition.  A Wrinkle in Time presented children with string theory, stars, and the power of love.  Now we get to explore identity, mythology, and biology.

While I'm sad we've left behind Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, we have a new and fascinating set of characters.  And dragon fewmets.  

Proginoskes and Sporos join Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin at school with Blajeny.  The trio have traveled the vast universe to save their father from IT and learned about the dark stain spreading through the cosmos.  Now they must learn that size is relative and darkness can taint everything.

We are introduced to the true villains of the series.  The Echthroi are fallen angels, whose goal is to stain the song of the cosmos, and they are very determined to destroy Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin.  They do not want the students to graduate from their three trials and create quite a bit of mischief and mayhem.

Meg's struggle can become a little tedious and certainly overdone.  We knew from the first book that she has a hard time accepting herself and her abilities.  We really did not need the continuation.  It tarnishes her education in becoming a Namer--in my opinion.  The concept of Naming is wonderful and should have been able to shine more brightly.

Proginoskes is one of the most beautiful characters L'Engle has created.  I seriously broke down into tears by the end of the book, but they weren't the sad kind.  The poignancy of this novel is just as strong to me as an adult as it was as a child (perhaps even more, actually).

This is easily my favorite series to make children think about the world around them and discuss the bigger questions.  While "The Time Quintet" makes up quite a few fantastical things and places, the concept of Let's Pretend and reality is key to the entire series.  What is real?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry

A Dangerous Mourning (William Monk, #2)Monk number two was certainly an improvement on number one, but it didn't have a high bar to jump.  

We are back in aristocratic Victorian England to solve the mystery of a young woman found dead in her bedroom with the only suspects living in the house.  Nothing but class politics and home bound intrigue here.  Exciting (image my sarcastic eye rolling).

While I love Victorian England because of the many moral debates that can arise from it, this go around it was too on the nose.  The whole novel is servants versus gentry, man versus woman.  Sigh.

Also, the author still lingered on Monk's amnesia for too many pages.  It is frustrating to slog through so many unnecessary paragraphs.  I can't figure out if it is the author's attempt at burying the clues or just some really poor editing decisions to make this book 368 pages.  I feel this could have been a 200 page book easily.

The mystery was marginally better hidden this time.  While I knew the cause of death by the halfway point, I wasn't able to pin down all the players and motives involved until the 3/4 point.  A Dangerous Mourning managed to get itself one whole extra star in rating for being mildly more entertaining and taking longer to solve than The Face of a Stranger.

I'm going to try Defend and Betray next because the writing does seem to be improving considerably, and the moral discussion possibilities are strong for a mystery series.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Image result for a wrinkle in time bookI decided to reread A Wrinkle in Time because husband and I just watched the movie, and it seriously irked me.  It has been a considerable time since I first read the "Time Quintet." I couldn't remember the exact details of the book, but the message of the book had always lingered.  The movie just screamed that something was severely off kilter.  After the reread, I managed to get even angrier at the movie.

I don't expect a movie to be an exact visual representation of the book--because cinema has proven they have no idea how to do that.  I do, however, expect you to stick to the source material in a few basic ways.  Keep the plot, keep the characters, and keep the message.  Disney managed to throw all three categories out the window.

A Wrinkle in Time is a beautiful story of string theory and astrophysics.  It has an amazing moral dialogue to help children think about their impact in the world and just how small they are in comparison.  

Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit are some extremely phenomenal ladies.  They take Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace on an astounding journey through the galaxies to rescue their father from IT.  They go to fascinating planets and meet incredible entities along the way.  They learn valuable lessons at every juncture.

The writing is serious while being fantastic and captivating to a young reader.  It easily deserves all the awards it has received.  The story is timeless and still incredibly modern despite its original publication date.

A Wrinkle in Time is a great starting point for children to think about what good and evil mean, and their influence on the world around them.  I highly recommend these stories for every child.  Never ever let them see Oprah's movie.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry

Image result for anne perry face of a strangerI decided to depart from my usual reading list again for a change of scenery.  I pulled a list of LDS authors and found Anne Perry.  She writes in the mystery genre, and I thought this would be a good chance to try a mystery that could be more than just the murder. 

I wasn't disappointed on that front.  The story wasn't just about the murder of Joscelin Grey.  There was a bigger argument going on with the characters.  I was also very smitten with the Victorian setting; the hansoms, the elite, the urchins.  It was all reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes.

What I did not find entertaining, and almost made this novel impossible to read, was Inspector William Monk.  The major premise of his introductory novel revolves around a London detective waking up in hospital with amnesia.  

And he deals with that tragedy through the whole book with feet dragging, whining, blubbering annoyance.  This was very much a case where the author told too much instead of showing the reader the landscape and letting them wander.

The second negative was the matter of the who-dun-it portion.  I figured that out at the half-way point and had to slog through the rest of the novel dealing with the long winded red herrings. 

The clue that proves the killer's identity was not very well hidden in the foreshadowing.  It kind of stuck out like a sore thumb in the dialogue, and then the author pointed it out two more times.  Not very subtle.

I keep trying to find someone in the mystery genre worth reading, but I don't think I've found it just yet.  I'm going to give the second novel a shot because I enjoyed the Victorian setting and moral undertones of Anne Perry.  Hopefully she gets better at hiding the clues as she gains experience.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Reaper Man (Discworld, #11)
Halloween decorations and candy are filling the store shelves.  Pumpkin spice has been spotted in its staple foods.  Fall is getting ready to gear up, and I'm getting ready for my favorite season.

I have never been one for seasonal reading.  Beach books, fall favorites, spring flings have never really made a difference to me.  I read what I'm feeling at the given present and be damned if it is out of season.

However, this fall, I have a couple of stories that really just go with the weather too perfectly.  I didn't read them in the fall, but I'll recommend them for fall reading.

Reaper Man is one of those fall books.  You can certainly read this book whenever you feel like; because as with any Pratchett novel it is good for time immemorial.  This is a satire of consumerism and the life of Death.

It revolves around the harvest in plot and motif, which makes it an exceptional fall novel. Death has been given the chance to Live, which makes the perfect storm of excess life for consumerism to breed.  Who doesn't want to read about soldier trolleys?

The Color of Magic, Guards! Guards!, and Reaper Man are the top of the Discworld favorites list fighting it out for the championship.  Every time I reread this one it scythes it way a little bit closer to the top--one stalk at a time, one click, one grain of sand.

This is a 5 star novel anytime, but also a perfect read to get yourself all geared for fall and the harvest.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sacred Seas by Karen Amanda Hooper

Sacred Seas (The Sea Monster Memoirs, #3)I read Tangled Tides and Dangerous Depths in 2014.  Somehow I only managed to review one of them for the blog.  Whoops.  The conclusion of the trilogy took four years to make it to print, so I reread the first two novels one weekend to catch myself up with the characters before starting in on the finale.

You can read my thoughts on Tangled Tides here.  Sorry you can't read my thoughts on novel number two.  I remember now that the story was good, but not great.  I was never inspired to write a review, and then time happened.

I have waited four years for the conclusion, plus I bought it--and I read every book I spend money on no matter what.  Now that I had reimmersed myself in the world of Yara and company, I was ready to start Sacred Seas.  

On rereading them, I still enjoyed the first novel and its fresh look at mythology, but my interest in the story has paled quite a bit.  I'm in a different point in my life.  These novels do not resonant in the same manner they did in 2014.

The conclusion was an excellent conclusion in technical terms.  It tied up all the ribbons of story line that had been floating through the waters.  It achieved what all finales require--an end.  However, I was mostly disappointed in this novel.  

Despite this being the story of Treygan and Yara, Koraline played the leading lady more often this time.  It seemed odd to throw in a whole new side of the story in the last act.  There were new characters and new plot devices.  This is probably due to taking four years to write the story.  A sudden inspiration for the ending meant that connecting pieces had to be inserted, if somewhat awkwardly.

Maybe a spin-off in the between years would have been better suited.  I would have really enjoyed a spin-off novella instead.  It would have set up the plot and Koraline would have had her own space, which she deserved being such an excellent character.

The modernizing of myth by giving the Kraken a personality and an existence beyond ship swallowing monster was fantastic.  There was so much room for him as a villain.  A love triangle, though.  Flat.

The ending saved the series for me.  Making the mythology their own and bringing ancient history into our modern times was worthy of all the time I spent rereading the first two novels and the third.

In conclusion, I'm disappointed, but I largely put that on myself.  I couldn't connect with these books at this stage in my life.  That happens when a series takes a hiatus.  No fault to the author.  Time is the enemy to all.  

I will still gladly recommend this series to anyone looking for a story steeped in Greek mythology.  It gives a nice modern twist to the classics that is reinvigorating.  These books are also probably well suited for the YA audience they are geared towards.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Lady Mechanika: The Clockwork Assassin

Lady Mechanika Vol. 4: The Clockwork AssassinWe have, today, the fourth installment in the world of Lady Mechanika.  You can catch up with Vols. 1-3 here, here and here.

Our steampunk mystery for today revolves around Mr. Lewis's past colliding with his present.  There is a dark secret behind the work of Blackpool engineers, and Lady Mechanika is the leading suspect for their crimes (insert dramatic mystery music).

The first volume suitably pulled me in with its steampunk Holmesian heroine, Lady Mechanika, and her endearing drunk engineer, Mr. Lewis.  The original duo are back in action, and we get to figure out why Mr. Lewis is always drunk.

I must admit, I almost lost my way with the truncated Volume 3 and non-arc short La Dama de la Muerte.  But I persisted.  The short wasn't related to the main story and was kind of like those holiday specials of your favorite show--you watch them but wouldn't mind if they didn't find their way to the DVD release.  I wasn't going to be deterred from returning for Volume 4.

The true pull to this series is the why of Lady Mechanika, not her individual escapades.  I'm glad my curiosity prevailed because Volume 4 brought back the action and intrigue of the first volume.  Sure, I knew who-dun-it before the big reveal, but there were enough little twists and turns in the story to make it worth the investment.  Plus the gizmos and gadgets and artwork certainly more than made up for the plot simplicity.

For the numbering confusion of readers out there, this is Volume 4 of Lady Mechanika's story to find her creator.  Purchasing websites list it as Volume 5 because they consider the non-related short La Dama de la Muerte to be Volume 4.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Traitor Born by Amy Bartol

This whole novel is just page after page of tension.  I really didn't even care that this is just a repurposed Kricket series.  The world and characters are different enough to make this an entirely different read.  The author found a plot formula that works for her writing style and created another success.

While this is a book about political intrigue and love at its heart, there is something about the world and characters that make me want to read more.  Sure, the male characters are all identical in appearance and personality--and Roselle seems to fall in love with them at the drop of a hat despite having fallen in love with someone else 10 pages ago.  

Sure, the plot has been done and done again in YA novels presently--it's a badass young woman who is learning how to be herself while contending with being a badass.  The action scenes are fast-paced and thrilling while being completely unrealistic.  So many cliches!

But, that just doesn't seem to matter as I kept turning the page to find out what came next.  There is a magic to Amy Bartol that makes me read her books despite having obvious character flaws and stereotypical plots.  Her twists and turns in the action mean that 5-6 hours later I've read the entire book and emerge in the real world dazed that the day is gone.  Magic I tell you.

The path has been set for Roselle to escape her conniving mother in the Fate of Virtues.  She has become the most protected Secondborn in existence.  What will she be expected to do now?  And who will she be expected to crown the victor?  So many people and factions are trying to make Roselle their icon and their hero they have forgotten she is person, even if Secondborn and raised to fulfill her duty without question.

I'm ready to be reading the conclusion in all its glorious trope ridden plot that I won't be able to put down.  I want to be back in the worlds that Amy Bartol builds.  They are full ecosystems I just want to visit time and again.  That's what reading for entertainment is all about.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Happy Labor Day

Thanks to all those who labor and sacrifice so the people in their lives have an easier existence.  To the farmers and ranchers who work long hours so we can eat.  To the technicians and operators who destroy their health so we can have manufactured products.  Thank you one and all.  You are underappreciated and often unrecognized.

The Plastic Magician by Charlie Holmberg

My absolute go-to author when I need a perk in my reading list.  I have yet to be disappointed by a single story she has written.

The Plastic Magician is a continuation to "The Paper Magician" trilogy.  Ceony's story was wrapped up wonderfully at the end of The Master Magician, but the world still exists and time keeps on ticking.

We are now a few years along when we meet our new protagonist, Alvie Brechenmacher.  She is a character near and dear to my heart as we are identical twins.  

Alvie is an American girl heading across the pond to take an internship in Polymaking--plastic magic.  In England, she meets an incredible new cast of characters along with some excellent cameos from our favorite Folders.

The new characters are a delight and interact as well as the original cast.  While reading "The Paper Magician" trilogy will help you understand the magic system, The Plastic Magician needs to remain a story read on its own merits.  They are not the same characters and should not be compared with the originals.  This is a continuation not a copy.

Their is conspiracy and intrigue as Magicians deal with the harsh reality of inventions and intellectual protection.  Holmberg once again gives us quite a large concept to consider on progress and what does "for the greater good" really mean.  That's why I love her writing so much.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The New Dark by Lorraine Thomson

I was disappointed in this one.  Another grab on Netgalley that didn't pan out quite they way I was hoping.  Picking new books is tough.  When I have high hopes for a story from the synopses and it doesn't deliver on the premise advertised, I find it very hard to support the novel.

This novel plus The Queen of All Crows really put me in a bad place when trying to write helpful, objective reviews.  Even when I dislike a book, I try to remain objective that others may find what I consider faults to be entertaining or essential to their reading experience.  

Now that I have recuperated with some very excellent reading--reviews on those in the next couple days--I feel ready to write about The New Dark

This is a book about an EMP future.  There are no electronics, there is no grid; there are only mutants.  That was the hook that made me pick it off the "shelf."

I am really attracted to the idea of a world without the grid.  I gravitate towards books that have this premise.  Then the author threw in mutants.  How very X-Men.  Plenty of room to make a book impossible to put down.  Except that didn't happen.  I never really made a connection with the story and didn't feel the need to invest my time in it.

Then Sorrel comes across the Free People.  Wow.  I could be reading it completely wrong, but I really just did not like this section.  I felt like the story had stepped away from itself and onto a soapbox.  The reader was left there to wallow in the politics.  We also end up in a major metropolis run on slave labor.  Mutant and human race relations abound.  How many tropes can we shove in one manuscript?

Unfortunately, the story suffered from mediocre editing.  Maybe in ten years they can get a new editor on it and release a reboot edition.  While they're there, they can eliminate a few of the extraneous YA stereotypes.  Best of luck to any who go forward and try this novel.  I hope you find something to enlighten you.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Catching up

When we moved to the mountains, we inherited a landscape I knew very little about.  With an increased liking to be outdoors, I endeavored to spend more time outside this spring.  I learned about all the local plants and what was growing in my garden.  I revitalized the things I wanted growing and rooted out what I didn't.

It all kind of fit in with my revitalization towards reading.  Modern authors were really starting to bum me out.  I wasn't falling in love with series they way I once did.  I read a few new books this spring--and those reviews will be following in the coming days as all my plants start to go dormant and I head back indoors--but mostly I reread old favorites or got my humor back with Terry Pratchett.

What I read in the lull of gardening:

Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8)This just cracked me up.  Dragons and old people love story.  Prime satire of epic fantasy.  Just when I thought I was tired of epic fantasy, I just needed to read something that poked fun at to love it all again.

Eric (Discworld, #9)

Not my favorite of the series.  But Rincewind is always a great character to go with on a misadventure.  Maybe it's just because I never read Faust I didn't get to suck up as much of the satirical beauty of Pratchett.

Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10)

Full on satire of the movie industry.  Even the name Holy Wood should have you in tears from laughing.  This one is in my top favorites of Discworld.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

I read this just to compare to the Netflix series.  I'm kind of a nerd for comparing silver screen to the printed word.  I actually did enjoy the books and may dedicate some time to finishing the series--maybe...some day...

The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars, #1)  Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars, #2)  ArchEnemy (The Looking Glass Wars, #3)
I discussed this trilogy back when I was granted an ARC for the graphic novel continuation.  I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  This trilogy is the only retelling I approve.  You can catch up with what I think of the series here.

I'll be spending the rest of this weekend working on full reviews of the more current books I've read--some with disappointment and some with great energy.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn (Mistborn, #1)  The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)  The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3)
After a soul crushing read of The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan, I was really in the mood to backtrack to some classic authors that made me a bookworm.  I needed to reassert that there are good authors out there.  There are good novels of magic and wonder and epic awesomeness.

I went back and reread the "Mistborn" trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.  I fell in love with the series immediately and they left a very lasting impression with me.  They are what all these modern authors should be aspiring to do when they create these dystopian worlds and female protagonists.

I was not disappointed in the reread.  While this time around I knew everything that was coming, I was able to absorb even more goodness from the story.  This is the absolute hallmark of a master author.  No matter how many times you read a story there is always a new angle to view and new lessons to learn.  

Vin is amazing, but she is not the story.  She is merely part of a lesson to be learned.  The world that Sanderson creates around her is cosmic and complete.  The magic system of Allomancy and Feruchemy is well thought out and dependent on the story.

A decade later and I still feel the same way about these stories.  I recommend them to every person looking to get into epic fantasy.  They are epic.  They have it all.  They are the real deal.

The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan

I actually ended up finishing this book at the end of last year, but I needed to step away before writing my review.  When I "closed" the book, I was antagonistic and aggressive towards it.  If it hadn't been on my Kindle, I probably would have thrown it out the window, down the mountain.  Now that I am sitting down to finally write up the review a lot of that emotion is coming back so I will be keeping this review incredibly brief.  

To say I am disappointed by this novel would be an understatement.  I truly enjoyed The Bullet Catcher's Daughter immensely.  The trilogy was strong, but the first novel was something new and exciting that pulled me in from the first chapter.  The series lagged a little in the middle, but it finished strong and I continued to have high hopes for the author.  I even bought Kindle and paperback copies of each.  

I knew The Queen of All Crows was going to be a new trilogy.  It would have the same protagonist and some supporting characters, but they would be in a whole new situation.  I just wish that situation hadn't felt like an overdrawn, exhausting propaganda pamphlet.  This work was so, so disappointing.

If you were a fan of The Bullet Catcher's Daughter, I would not recommend this book to you.  If you are looking for pirates, political intrigue at every corner and an all woman society, then please pick this up and find some entertainment where I just couldn't.  

I'll continue to check in with the author to see if Elizabeth handles her predicament better than my current predictions and for any new works that might go back to those bullet catching days.  But for now, I will certainly not be supporting this work. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Happy New Year and Happy Release Day

2017 was a big year for Slavic influence--I read The Bear and the Nightingale, Uprooted, and The Fifth Doll; I also played several video games that centered around Slavic myths.  When Penguin sent me an ARC for The Girl in the Tower, I was ready to close out my year with more cheryti and snow.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The holidays kept my reading time somewhat limited, but The Girl in the Tower was a tale that just kept pulling at me to read chapters whenever I could squeeze them in.  

I was more impressed with this novel than I was with The Bear and the Nightingale.  I don't often enjoy the second novel in a trilogy more than the first because it often seems like the author is trying way too hard to write a second novel.  Those forceful pages were not present here.  There was a growth in writing that made the cohesion of storytelling better this time around.

While Vasilisa wandered the woods and mingled with cheryti in the first novel, she was a truly wild spirit in this novel.  The magic was more present and more real.  Perhaps it was all because we knew the characters and the myths now, the author didn't have to invest as much setup and we, the readers, got to enjoy the wild ride.  There even managed to be some tiny little twists.

I'm really glad that I got introduced to this series.  It has been an exciting set of reads and new stories.  For any bookworm, that's all we can ask.  The conclusion of the trilogy is due to be released this year as well.

The novel releases today, and I will be giving a hardback copy, direct from the publisher, of The Bear and the Nightingale to one lucky reader so they can get caught up before picking up The Girl in the Tower.  Check out my Giveaway tab for your entry.

Here's to another wonderful year of the printed word.