Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: High Heat

High Heat High Heat by Richard Castle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a while to pick up this Castle book, mostly because I almost forgot it was coming out until about six months after it did. And that, I think, owes a lot to the fact that the show closed out its eighth and final season last year on a pretty sour note, with an annoying storyline of Castle and Beckett being forced to stay apart most of the time, not to mention the fact that, had a ninth season been ordered, it would've been without Beckett or Lanie and would've suffered so much as a result...and, of course, this book, in between its developments of an "American ISIS" and a strangely charismatic independent presidential candidate from Texas, plants the seeds for replicating that aggravating Castle Season 8 storyline.

So, on that basis, I wasn't a fan of this book. But at least it sets up the ninth and final novel - the long-awaited Nikki Heat/Derrick Storm crossover event - with gusto, so there's that.

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Review: Unplugged

Unplugged Unplugged by Donna Freitas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I decided to give this one a try because I saw its sequel sitting on the "New Books" shelf at the library a few weeks back and decided to go back to the beginning. What I found in this book was a sort of YA version of The Matrix, but with far less agonizing philosophy and far more cheesy, cornball teen love. Oh, and the occasional bit of thrills and chills and action, but even that feels surprisingly lacking over the course of this surprisingly long book.

It's not that bad a read, and it's pretty addictive, but I can sort of see why A) this one doesn't have a terribly high GR rating, and B) this one isn't getting tons of hype.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


"Strangelove, strange highs and strange lows
Strangelove, that's how my love goes
Strangelove, will you give it to me?
Will you take the pain?"
- Depeche Mode

"Tonight I feel my heart begin to fail me
And my head begin to fall
Like two ships crossing their paths
I see you like a new dawn

My perfect stranger, don't sail away
It was meant to be
We met this way
We met this way..."
- Civil Twilight

"'Cause you use your heart as a weapon
And it hurts like heaven..."
- Coldplay

"My body is a cage
That keeps me from dancin' with the one I love
But my mind holds the key..."
- Arcade Fire

"If I could turn the page
In time that I'd rearrange
Just a day or two
Close your, close your, close your eyes

But I couldn't find a way
So I'll settle for one day
To believe in you
Tell me, tell me, tell me lies..."
- Fleetwood Mac, "Little Lies"

"And it feels like I'm just too close to love you
There's nothing I can really say
I can't lie no more, I can't hide no more
Gotta be true to myself
And it feels like I am just too close to love you
So I'll be on my way..."
- Alex Clare

"Do you know what's worth fightin' for?
When it's not worth dyin' for?
Does it take your breath away
And you feel yourself suffocatin'?"
- Green Day, "21 Guns"

"Your skin, oh yeah, your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
Do you know, for you I'd bleed myself dry
For you I'd bleed myself dry..."
- Coldplay, "Yellow"

"When we lift the covers from our feelings
We expose our insecure spots
Trust is just as rare as devotion
Forgive us our sinful hearts..."
- Rush, "Emotion Detector"

"Follow me, you can follow me
And I will not desert you now
When your fire's died out
No one's there, they have left you for dead

Follow me, you can follow me
I will keep you safe
Follow me, you can follow me
I will protect you..."
- Muse

"It was a cup of good intentions
A tablespoon of one big mess
A dash of overreaction
And I assume you know the rest..."
- Barenaked Ladies, "One Little Slip"

"In the garden I was playin' the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You, you were actin' like it was the end of the world..."
- U2


Cassie Clare goes all-out for the final entry in the Mortal Instruments series. Of course, it's not the end of the Shadowhunter-verse, not by a long shot. We're only halfway along the ride, people!

But I have to wonder...just how is Cassie gonna up the stakes in future installments? She literally took the cast to Hell and back again in this one. (Speaking of which - does Cassie watch Sleepy Hollow? I have to wonder based on Chapter 14.) And the things she put them all through...those were some seriously intense feels she subjected us to.

My favorite things about this one, though, were A) the return of Tessa Gray (and while I wish she could have had a bigger role, CoHF was already long and jam-packed and epic enough anyway without her, much like TASM 2, so I'll forgive that lost potential), and B) the introduction of the two MC's for The Dark Artifices, Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn.

*pants, takes a breath*

Well. This was an amazing ride. Wish I could have caught it sooner (the rest of the world had about three years' head start on me.) Ave atque vale!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Abaddon's Gate

Abaddon's Gate Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the first two books of The Expanse well enough, but compared to Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War, Abbadon's Gate had a certain something lacking. No, it wasn't the action - that was pretty much all there like expected. The problems lay mostly in two things: A) the lack of Bobbi and Avarasala, two of my favorite characters from Caliban's War, and B) the general sense that this book was mostly filler, a whole lotta nothin' plot-wise. I get that Holden and crew are fighting the good fight, but at this point, it's hard to tell even what they're fighting, if at all.

I hope the fourth book picks things up a bit, because I wanna see some improvement.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Mars One

Mars One Mars One by Jonathan Maberry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When it comes to Jonathan Maberry, I usually expect tons of action and tons of horror. This book lacks the latter and features less of the former, being much more focused on characters and feelings. It's different for him, but maybe sometimes, a little different is a lot good. Although the story does suffer from some slow pacing - especially in its first 100 pages or so - and frequently drops hints of a greater conspiracy but leaves them hanging, untouched, for extended periods of time, it's still a very addictive read. The short chapters and the surprising emotional emphasis help.

This, I think, is going to be a standalone novel, but if there's a sequel, I'd be happy to give it a read. Oh, and the playlist at the end. Terrific choices, especially the TONS of David Bowie. And who says YA characters shouldn't be allowed to appreciate good music from before they were born?

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All

Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All Guardians of the Galaxy: Collect Them All by Corinne Duyvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Corinne Duyvis has published two original novels, and for her third book, she's giving us some nice little Marvel YA. Though it's not my favorite Marvel YA - that honor, of course, still goes to Margaret Stohl's Black Widow books - Duyvis gives us a pretty unique and unexpected novel that proves to be a quick, fun read. It's not perfect, though. Some of the characterization feels a little off to me - Quill comes across as less respectful of women than even his film counterpart, Gamora feels a tad underdeveloped, and Rocket...well, he's a scene-stealer for sure, but Duyvis' insistence on liberally filling his dialogue with made-up sci-fi swear words like "flark" and "d'ast" and "krutacking," in addition to the more standard "freaking," feels pretty out of place, as does his nicknaming of Gamora as "Gam" or, worse, "Gammy." But around these flaws, Duyvis gives us a story just as thought-provoking as her original novels - when Groot gets cloned and each clone's existence saps a little more of the original's power, is it ethical to collect them and wipe them out, or keep them alive and well-cared-for?

There are no easy answers.

Keep in mind before going into this book that it's not really related to the movies, despite featuring the same band of five Guardians. It wouldn't take place between the two volumes released thus far, so unlike Stohl's Black Widow books, it's really not explicitly part of the MCU. But if you like Marvel, and you like Guardians, you owe it to yourself to pick this book up and give it a good read.

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Review: Star Wars: Rebel Rising

Star Wars: Rebel Rising Star Wars: Rebel Rising by Beth Revis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beth Revis delivers a really good story that helps bridge the gap between the prologue and main story of Rogue One by detailing what happened between the time Jyn Erso wound up with Saw Gerrera and the time when she was rescued from an Imperial prison. Along the way, we see Saw's very slow descent into borderline madness as he becomes ever more fanatical about his cause, Jyn's nasty disillusionment with her father, and even, in a few scenes that remind me just a bit of E.K. Johnston's Ahsoka novel for some reason, Jyn finding companionship in a boy her age named Hadder. I almost wish he'd appeared in the movie...oh, but it's probably for the better that he didn't. But it'd be nice to see more of his story sometime.

I think Revis should write more Star Wars stories - heck, maybe even the backstory of Rey, should she choose to accept such a mission.

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