Showing posts with label 5 Star Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5 Star Review. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2013

eBook Review: Diary of a Dragon

You hold in your hand a sacred trust—a dragon’s diary. My diary. And that trust has been horribly violated by that dreadful Princess Lillian, or you wouldn’t be holding it. My own personal diary, published for all to see! That human female has no shame.

I do, however. I do not wish my secrets spread about. Please, I beg you, put this book down now and walk away, kind browser. Respect an old dragon’s privacy. No matter what the princess thinks, these matters of violence, blackmail, and unnecessary romance are not for the eyes of others!

No, no, don’t even open it! Ignore the attractive illustrations and the shocking true secrets of dragon life!  You’ll be sorry!

All right, you won’t. But I will.

I hate princesses.

This is, simply put, the cutest thing this side of fantasy short reads ever.  I downloaded this on a whim, because who doesn't like dragons and their diaries?  Other then a bit of threatening to eat a Princess this is a good book to share with a child.  Granted the humor is probably more dry then most kids' books, but since Flammiferus (yes that is the dragon's name) hates pretty much everything a kid does they should emphasize with him.

Basically Flammiferus kidnaps a princess, who then proceeds to demand all sorts of things of him until he finally gives in.  Just as he's getting used to her however she decides to play Dragon Matchmaker and finds him an eligible dragoness.

Things rather devolve from (for him) from there.

For a quick read I definitely recommend this.  The print book is also avail (in limited quantities) from Subterranean Press and I'm willing to lay bets the illustrations are even cooler in print.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: The Rules

1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

Creepy cover is creepy.  Especially once you read the book, 'cause that makes the creepy eyes stand out more.  I greatly enjoyed Kade's first three books (The Ghost and the Goth trilogy) though I was a wee bit hesitant to broach this book at first since it sounded a bit...not my cup of tea.  Hybrid human/aliens aren't my normal reading preference especially where young adult reading is concerned(blame some of this on the Roswell tv show and the brooding portrayal of teen wangst in the face of certain death, doom and apocalypse).  However, or in spite of my reservations, I was intensely curious to see where Kade took it all.

Very happy I did.

Like Ghost and the Goth, Kade took a couple concepts and gave them a face-lift.  Small town living, parental legacies (and neglect), popularity and high school social hierarchies all are given a swift punch as Kade explores just what a toll these things can take.  Admittedly some of this was tried and true from the G&G books, but we have far less reason to like Rachel than we did Alona and the stakes are far greater for Ariane than ever they were either Alona or Will.

If you don't read the blurb than the first chapter, told from Ariane's POV (the chapters alternate between hers and Zane, her hm 'reason' to break the rules more or less) then things may feel a bit stuck in the middle of something.  She just barely hints that something is off about herself, but doesn't quite go into detail until a chapter or so later.  Zane meanwhile, who is introduced through Ariane's POV first (and a total jerk), evolves from a guy desperate to do something gain his father's approval to a guy who realizes it not worth losing his soul in the process.

Rachel goes from mean-spirited, to wicked and lands on cruel before making an almost redemptive action (in a ruthless self-serving manner).  The party scene near the end cinches it, but I felt a bit bad for her because like Zane she was desperate to gain the attention of people, but unlike Zane she was happily selling her soul to do so.  Her last scenes with Zane and Ariane can almost be seen as 'Maybe she finally understands' light, but whether or not we see her again is dubious (given the direction of the end).

This next paragraph is a spoiler, so you'll have to highlight it:
Mark Tucker, Ariane's 'father' (or more accurately her rescuer/adoptive father), as seen through Ariane's eyes is a hardworking, meticulous man who while restrictive (for her own good) and demanding cares for her.  Not as much as his real daughter, but still she senses affection from him.  So when it turns out that he was part of the 'new experiment' that the scientists are running for the last ten years it REALLY was a surprise.  Until in hindsight you notice things that she noticed in an absent manner.  I think Kade did a really good job setting clues in the book towards the eventual reveal, even if that hurt like the dickens. [end spoiler]
This was a fast paced, intriguing start to a new scifi series.  Like the G and G series I'm hooked on what seems to be an impossible (or at least really ill-considered, on the part of the characters) romance and I want to see what the truth is for Ariane and how she settles with who (and what) she is.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: A Long, Long Sleep

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. 

Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose-- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire-- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes-- or be left without any future at all.

Oh, oh this book.  Tez (of Tez Says) really enjoyed this book and I was inclined to read it because its a scifi twist on Sleeping Beauty (plus at least one other fairy tale I can't put my finger on), but this book was WONDERFUL.  It was perfect; perhaps not technically perfect, but it was perfect for the time I was reading it.  There's a scene, near the end, when Rose is confronted with a lot of harsh truths really quickly and I had tears pouring down my face.  This reminded me of The Adoration of Jenna Fox (by Mary J. Pearson) actually as both dealt with gaps in memory and struggling with identity.

From an outsider perspective, Rose's memories don't match up quite right from the get go.  Not just the fact she knew her boyfriend Xavier from he was in diapers, aging next to him in fits and spurts until they were the same age finally.  Someone mentions she should be in her late 70's, based on the birthdate they found and she muses silently that she's really more like a hundred years old given all the times she's been "stassed" (put into stasis) throughout her childhood.

Her casual acceptance of this goes from worrisome to outright disturbing when a character--the boy who found her, Bren, says she uses being stassed like a drug to escape.  Little things throughout the novel start to make more horrifying sense.

And then there's the ultimate revelations close to the end that just...this poor girl.  The twist with the person hunting her was surprising, but fits in so well with everything we found out that its almost sickening too.

I found her friendship with Otto, a teen boy part of a hybrid/genetic experiment done by her parents' company while she was stassed,  to be fascinating.  Unable to 'talk' with each other, their conversations by instant messenger are far more revealing then any other discussion. The anonymity of the screen helps them both I think.

This isn't a fast paced book; Rose slips in and out of her memories often, and her memories aren't told sequentially for the most part.  She's also rather...vague as a personality at first.  Partially because when her parents were alive she didn't have one really.  They told her where to go, what to wear, how to talk.  The only time she really acted on her own was when she was with Xavier, but even then she was so afraid of her parents taking it away she didn't really act on her own.

A unique retelling of the sleeping beauty fairy tale, this princess overcomes her demons and figures out how to save herself.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Graphic Novel Review: The Adventures of Superhero Girl

What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores, and have a weakness for kittens, and a snarky comment from Skeptical Guy can ruin a whole afternoon? Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks brings her skills in character design and sharp, charming humor to the trials and tribulations of a young, superhero battling monsters both supernatural and mundane in an all-too-ordinary world.

This was such a fun and amusing book!  Meet Superhero Girl (that's not really her real superhero name, but well she lives in Canada...) as she tries to find her place in the world out of the shadow of her brother Kevin's super-heroic infamy.

She saves cats, helps old ladies cross the street, battles ninjas, deals with a skeptical obnoxious superhero fanboy and searches for an archnemsis (who won't steal her job and become rich from giving up a life of crime).

These are loosely connected comics ranging from a few panels to a few pages, that mostly pick up from where the other left off (except when it goes into the past as Superhero Girl chose to strike out on her own, about half way through the book).

I know Hicks' artwork and charm from the short comics that are occasionally featured on Tor.com (for fannish things--reactions to movies and such).  This is my first time reading an original work of hers and I loved it.  Perfect for all ages with colorful artwork and plenty of humor.

The book begins by having Superhero Girl doing stuff you don't see heroes doing much of nowadays; their own laundry (how to deal with a  shrunk cape!), explaining their weird disappearances to roommates and friends, saving cats (even if they don't want to be saved).  At first this really is just a book of 'day in the life of a superhero' with only the title character tying them together.

It changes when we start to learn more about her past and meet her brother Kevin.  SG was his sidekick back in their hometown and while this seemed fine and dandy for him, she wanted something more.  Wanted to be recognized on her own merits.  The scene where she explains to him is heart breaking on both sides.  Kevin clearly doesn't want her to strike out on her own, but he let's her because he's unselfish.  Equally I don't think SG wanted to hurt him or leave him in the dust, but she couldn't find an identity. 

Anyone with a sibling can understand.  I know I surely can.  Its like 'But wait...why can't we go back to you following me around and thinking I'm the super coolest?'

At any rate I think this will please just about anyone.  Hicks draws and writes for an all ages crowd, but doesn't sacrifice impact.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Graphic Novel Review: Fables Deluxe volume 4

The aftermath of the Adversary's attack on Fabletown, and the impending birth of Snow White and Bigby Wolf's children! Meanwhile, Boy Blue goes on a mission of revenge, and origins of some of Fabletown's residents are revealed when Snow goes on a mission to the desert.

**Obviously spoilers for the first volume , second volume and third volume are included in this review**

This volume covers issues 28-33 and the stand alone book "1001 Nights of Snowfall".  It also made a liar out of me as I didn't remember that Bigby had spoken in depth about his WWII days (in this volume's "War Stories") when I wrote the review for the recently released Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland standalone book.  Though I'm not entirely sure how the two fit together as they both depict the same basic events, but Bigby did it for entirely different reasons in either accounting and for entirely different people.  So.  Yeah.

As mentioned above "War Stories", "The Mean Seasons" and "1001 Nights of Snowfall" are the story-arcs contained within.  "War Stories" has Bigby meeting with a dying friend from his WWII days (seriously this guy has revealed himself to more Mundys then anyone else I can think of) and their memories (plus a battle with Frankenstein's monster!).

"The Mean Seasons" has Snow giving birth to her and Bigby's litter of pups, a surprise visit from an estranged parent, the election (and fallout) from Fabletown's first democratic vote and the perils of putting ambitious, but untested people in charge.

"1001 Nights of Snowfall", which falls outside of the normal stories and recounts Snow's visit to the desert to warn the Sultan that the Adversary was ravaging the Arabian Worlds just as he had ravaged the European Worlds.  Therein lies the story of Snow and Charmings, post-wedding troubles, the tragedy of Ambrose's family, Rose Red and Snow meeting Frau Totenkinder (and in turn that lady's troublesome past), Bigby's beginnings and a couple other stories I was less interested in.

"War Stories" mainly served as a filler arc to fill out Bigby's life a bit and give the writers/artists time to recover from the Adversary's invasion (plus the readers, cause omg).  It works well enough for what it is, but I was really more interested in getting to Snow White giving birth.  SevenSix lovely kids and Bigby's father's visit made Snow's life a bit more hectic.  With Prince Charming now in office it also gave her the perfect excuse to leave her post as the deputy mayor (a post Beauty took up and does not like).  Meanwhile Bigby, unable to follow Snow, leaves as Fabletown's sheriff, giving the keys to Beast who may or may not prove his mettle well.

There's smaller things that also advance some of the over-arching plotline that are better noticed in hindsight. A lot of this is build up for the next volume (which is hella surprising) however.

"1001 Nights of Snowfall" is an eclectic mix.  Different artists for each story, its a bit disturbing honestly.  Especially the implied past Snow has and the horrifying tragedy that Ambrose desperately tries to never remember.  A couple are fun - the story of Mersey Dotes and Colonel Thunderfoot, proving that sometimes you should be content with where you are.  Diaspora (and The Witch's Tale) is gorgeously illustrated by Tara McPherson and easily the most interesting of the stories contained, also explains a lot regarding Frau Totenkinder and Rose Red.

We're barely even a sixth of the way through the series however!  So much happens that some of this is probably something the Fabletown residents look back and say 'My that was an easier time'.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review: The Emperor's Soul

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.

Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.

Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.

By now its pretty obvious I'm a Sanderson fangirl.  He ranks in my top 5 favorite authors and is an insta-I'll even pay full cover price for the hardcover buy.  This isn't to say I think everything he writes is perfect (I had some issues with The Alloy of Law for instance), but by golly his writing makes me excited to read every time.

This is his second stand alone novella of the year (after the contemporary mystery/urban fantasy Legion, which I have yet to review) and I think this one fared better then Legion.  Not because its longer (they're about the same length), but because it played more on his strengths.  The magic system here was as intricate as they come--in about 140pages he conveys a system just as detailed as anything in Warbreaker or The Way of Kings.  Unfortunately unlike his longer epics the information is more or less explained to us instead of organically weaving itself into the plot.

That's okay though, this is a much shorter work so I expected that.  This is loosely tied in with Elantris (as in, set in the same world, but not the same characters, setting, magic system or tone at all) and for his eager fans that bloody trickster that runs throughout all his books (tied in with the Cosmere at least) gets his due here as well.  Sanderson approaches this magic system from a more philosophical bent.

Forging is, in essence, re-writing something (or in this case someone's) history.  Shai uses it for theft and amusement, but she's highly skilled at the little details other people seem to miss.  She's a perfectionist.  She doesn't just Forge a broken table into a sturdier model, she Forges it into something it can be proud of, something that speaks to its 'soul' and sense of being.

By contrast Gaotona, and the whole Empire Shai is being blackmailed into saving (kind of), view Forging the same way people view reproductions of artwork or sculptures.  Its there to please the eye, nothing more.  The debates the two get into are intriguing.  Shai's people believe everything has a soul and its important to respect that.  Gaotona's internal debates on whether or not what they're asking her to do--that is save Ashravan by Forging his soul--is ethical is what makes up the meat of this book.

I won't say what the end result is.  Its unexpected in many ways and yet suits the story.  Though many of the other characters are thinly written, and the world isn't as well fleshed out as his previous works, this is still a solid reading experience.  This may in fact be a good book to hand to a Sanderson newbie--its short enough that they won't feel intimidated, but gives a good accounting of his writing style to lure them into his longer works.

Monday, May 23, 2011

E-book review: Pieces of Paper

Title: Pieces of Paper
Author(s): Jeannie Lin
Publisher/Year: Self-Published/2011

Synopsis: A chance encounter brings a hint of romance to a young woman's journey through the streets of Tokyo. This semi-autobiographical short story by the author of Butterfly Swords explores questions of identity and connectedness in the digital age.


Review: Lin prefaces this story by saying that this is a semi-autobiographical story about her own experiences in Japan about ten years ago.  Its a very short story, just above 20 pages and I think well-written.  The tone of the story is warm and welcoming as 'Jeannie' in the book explains to us how she came to be in Japan by herself lost and searching for the tea ceremony.

Throughout the story she observes how awkward she feels despite the fact she is Asian and surrounded by other Asians.  I've never quite left Caucasian dominated areas before, or been in a situation where I couldn't insist that there be some sort of English around so I understand everything.  The closest I've come would be Inner City Philadelphia (where you'd be hard pressed to find anybody who can speak English no matter their race) and certain parts of NJ.

Jeannie sets the scene well; the nervousness, but excitement one feels when visiting a new culture and learning new things.  The awe when you realize that there are far more busy and insane cities out there then just in the US.  The near constant bombardment of sensory data while you try to acclimate.  I would have happily read about Jeannie's experiences while she wandered around Japan.

The inclusion of Scott, a graduate student studying Eastern Asian Religion, made for an interesting comparison for Jeannie and the reader.  Jeannie observes that his everyman American looks felt more comfortable to her then seeing the scores of people who shared her genetic history.

This was a diverting insightful piece that felt kind of like talking with a friend after a trip.  Jeannie, the character, isn't afraid to discuss her flaws or touristy thoughts.  Her enthusiasm to enjoy her trip to Japan was obvious making the story relaxing to read.

Buy Links

// Smashwords

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Divergent

Title: Divergent
Series: Divergent Book 1
Author(s): Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen/2011
-Webpage: Veronica Roth Webpage
-Blog: Veronica Roth Blog

Synopsis:  In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her


Review:  Wow.  This is one of the more hyped books in the blog-o-sphere right now, which hasn't worked out so well for me recently, but DIVERGENT lives up to the promise.  Part of this might be because the concept appeals to me greatly.  The idea of the Factions, like-minded individuals all living and working together as a community, pleases me.  You know your place in the world then.  No worrying about finding it.

The narrative style suited the book very well.  Beatrice (Tris after the Choosing ceremony) has a very straight forward way of describing her surroundings.  Her descriptions are detailed, but efficient.  She doesn't dwell on unimportant details, though she does repeat herself (in regards to how she feels about certain people) a lot.

Roth treats all sides of the equation equally.  She doesn't present one Faction as better than the others, nor does she condemn any one Faction.  Nor does she give broadstrokes to all the characters.  Even the despicable ones, like Peter or Eric, are given depth and understanding.  Doesn't make them better people, but it goes a long way from merely pointing at them and saying 'See? See? They do bad things!' and just leaving it at that.

Tris admires something from each Faction, maybe because of who she is (a 'Divergent') she's able to SEE that all sides have something to offer.  This is important to the storyline, especially later in the book, and something I'm anticipating Roth going into more details for.

Despite some things working out, or at least coming to a conclusion, this was a bleak book.  Not depressing exactly, but it left me feeling dismayed.  After everything that happens things just seem to get WORSE.  As the first book in a planned trilogy this is a clever way to hook me for the next book, but it doesn't mean I'm still not crossing my eyes in vexation.  

Buy Links

// Indiebound // Book Depository // Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Review: Sean Griswold's Head

Title: Sean Griswold's Head 
Author(s): Lindsey Leavitt
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury/2011
-Webpage: Lindsey Leavitt Webpage
-Blog: Lindsey Leavitt @ LJ

Synopsis:  According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.


Review:  Contemporary fiction, whether it be young adult or mainstream, doesn't often interest me.  If there's not some sort of magic or supernatural element running amok I'll probably not be interested.  The blurb for SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD however had me hooked.  I can't pretend I went through something similar to what happened to Payton, both of my parents are rather healthy all things considered, but Leavitt crafted a novel that spoke to my fears as a teenager.

Getting into fights with a friend, that first crush that blossoms into more, trying to maintain some sort of balance...that's all stuff that's easy to relate to and feel for.  High school is hard enough without then finding out your father is fighting a serious disease (never mind her family felt a need to hide it from her for her 'own good').

Throughout SEAN GRISWOLD I would begin to feel heart broken for Payton.  Her slow decline from compulsively organized to angry, hurt and rebellious teenager is a gradual degradation.  After he initial anger wears off Payton lashes out at her parents in a way she knows (instinctively) will hurt them.  Its not malicious or cruel, she is merely trying to hurt them the way they hurt her.  I could understand her feelings, it was a crappy way to find out about a life-altering disease and an even crappier way to find out that even after fifteen years of being the straightest edge you can imagine, her parents still didn't feel like she could cope.

Maybe they were right, if nothing else Payton proves that she jumps to the worst conclusions as quickly as possible from the barest information.  Sean has headaches--ergo he must have a brain tumor or something equally horrific and life-threatening.  She hates not having control and if she admitted that she was terrified of what could happen to her father she lost the control she based her life around.

Following Payton and Sean's courtship was amusing and exasperating.  Payton, and her friend Jaq, do practically everything a teen girl does when she has a crush.  They follow Sean.  Analyze the smallest fragment of a conversation.  Engineer ways to see him more.  Reading about Payton's quest to know more about him was like reading about my teen years spent trying to find out more about my crush.  Her ups and near misses and embarrassing moments had my feelings all over the place while I alternated between rooting for her to talk to him and wanting to smack her up side the head for being dense.

At times the writing is a little shallow and glosses over things, mostly because this is from Payton's point of view and her story.  I wanted to know more about Sean and Grady's friendship/past...but that had little bearing on the present.  Its my hope that Leavitt chooses to explore Grady's life and Jaq's life in the future, they both faced issues that teens handle every day and would make a good counterpoint to Payton's tale (though I'll be honest, I want to read more about how Payton and Sean turn out!).

In the end this book made me laugh, cry, sigh dramatically and ponder just how drama-filled high school can get.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and just as importantly, I think it handled difficult subjects in a way that teens (or even non-teens) can understand and emphasize with.

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