Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: The Badlings

The Badlings The Badlings by Ksenia Anske
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, Ksenia Anske, how you and your imagination continue to be inspired like nothing else. This is my second book of hers I've found on Wattpad, and it's every bit as gothic and disturbing as Rosehead. Here, however, it's a little less Alice in Wonderland and a little more Grimm meets Jasper Fforde (or Neil Gaiman - I've seen a few other commenters on Wattpad who support this comparison.) But there's definitely more than a bit of Fforde in The Badlings' DNA, with its use of classic books and characters who are all out for your blood - if you've committed the grievous sin of not finishing their book. (So, in other words, I should be glad I never read Mad Tome editions of stuff like Obsidian or The Passage or Dragon Tattoo - yeah, I didn't finish Dragon Tattoo my first time around.)

There's so totally a Sequel Hook at the end of this one, but it also ends in a way similar to Pushing Daisies (saying something to the effect of "endings, as they say, are where we begin.") So if there's no sequel, I won't be too surprised - although I would be quite disappointed that Anske's boundless creative mind isn't exploring this world any further.

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Review: Rapture

Rapture Rapture by Lauren Kate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Fallen series concludes with considerable style. Here, we get a wide variety of exotic foreign locales - in the present day this time, not just in the past like in the previous book. Here, we get so many answers about the origins of the Luce/Daniel curse - and boy, those answers are real doozies. Especially the biggest reveal of all, the whole reason why Lucifer went bad to begin with. It's ironic that God went and created the angels as such powerful beings, only to fetter them by saddling them with utter devotion - it gets to the point where the reader's almost on Lucifer's side, until you remember that it's not love he's after so much as power.

At least there's a happy ending, which is made even happier with the epilogue. Just read that epilogue and try not to giggle yourself to death. It won't make you cry, though - that's Cassie Clare's job.

So, ave atque vale, Fallen series. :)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I'm A Goodreads Author!

Yes, you're seeing that correctly - Goodreads has let me into their Author program! You can find my page here. Be warned, though, my page is still as GIF-a-riffic as ever, so it may take a while for you to navigate. (Sorry-not-sorry!)

So far, I've uploaded my four complete novels (not my fanfics) to GR, and you can now rate and review them if you're on GR!

Red Rain

Blue Monday

The Magi

The Scalers

I can't wait to see what you guys think of my books! :D

Review: The Rebirths of Tao

The Rebirths of Tao The Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tao's got a new body this time around, and after years of training, he's every bit as good as Roen now, if not better. Yep, Cameron Tao is a second-generation Prophus host. And in between his parents saving the world from those blasted Genjix, he's gotta navigate that most horrifying of places known to teendom - high school. Thankfully, the high-school thing takes a backseat after a while (in favor of the ongoing Quasing war we're all here for), although Cameron's teenage brain does not. All's fair in love and war, and Cameron's feelings for a Genjix host, Alexandra, definitely qualify as both.

It's a neat, clean, high-caffeine ride, this story. But there's one problem - it's the end of the trilogy, and yet there's totally an open ending. Which I guess I should have seen coming, but it still annoys me, for some reason. Once again, I'm finding myself really hoping for a spinoff-slash-sequel.

Oh well. If this is truly the end of Tao's adventures in first one, then another, Tan body, then ave atque vale to him and all his hilarious historical anecdotes. :)

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Diary of a Teenage Superhero Diary of a Teenage Superhero by Darrell Pitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wattpad has this complete book for free, but only this one - not its sequel, which is available only in a five-chapter sample. This one, however, is quite entertaining on its own, being less of a typical "superhero" story. You won't get too many Marvel-style stories here. Nope, it's a little closer to I Am Number Four in style, or perhaps Heroes - darker, edgier, characters on the run, government agencies involved, that sort of thing. Oh, and they have to stop the apocalypse, of course. It doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but it's still a good story.

The only trouble is that the book ends on a mild cliffhanger. Mild, but still annoying because I have all but no chance of buying the complete sequel anytime soon. :(

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Review: Undertow

Undertow Undertow by Michael Buckley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In San Francisco, people wearing red "Niners" shirts are a good thing, because they're supporting a storied local sports team. In the Coney Island of this book, however, the Niners are anything but fun to have around. Here, they're a gang of anti-merpeople racists whose mission is to ensure that the grand social experiment of incorporating undersea people (the "Alpha") into a human school fails miserably. Even worse, they have the governor of New York (named Bachman, like a certain Tea Party leading lady) on their side.

And that's just the beginning. Blending Alien Nation with Zoraida Cordova's Vicious Deep, this story is wall-to-wall with strong social commentary, sympathetic backstories for our good guys, and, yes, always a Bigger Bad, who apparently supports Syndrome's theory of "When everyone's super, no one will be." It's compelling from start to finish, and ends with (of course) a major cliffhanger, for which I can't wait for Book 2 to come along. My only complaint is that one of my favorite characters dies about two-thirds of the way through this book, and I'm not quite sure it was necessary...but maybe later, that death will have gained the meaning it needs.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: Mindwar

Mindwar Mindwar by Andrew Klavan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Klavan instantly surprised and entertained me with his Homelanders series, but this one was a bit of a pain to slog through in comparison. Not that it was a bad story, though. It was a pretty entertaining little mixture of Homelanders and The Mortality Doctrine. But it was quite complicated compared to Homelanders, much less futuristic and deadly than The Mortality Doctrine, and overall actually pretty middle-of-the-road. Also, I found it a lot harder to connect to Rick than to Charlie, largely because of Klavan's decision to write this book in third-person instead of first like Homelanders. We're less in Rick's head as a result, especially when the story temporarily leaves Rick to focus on the bad guys and what they're doing. Several times.

However, it's a good enough story on its own that I'm more than willing to pick up the sequel whenever I can find it at the library. And that's exactly what I'll do sometime in the near future.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Alert

Alert Alert by James Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This latest Michael Bennett book is, as its dust-jacket blurb promises, the most explosive and action-packed entry yet in the series. Full-tilt and intensely messed-up, the book depicts an escalating string of terrorist attacks against New York which owe a lot to the Dark Knight Saga, particularly when a brazen broad-daylight assassination is pulled off. Seriously, this book is just begging for Chris Nolan to write and direct the movie yesterday. Only he would be able to do it justice and keep it believable, even when the story actually gets to the point of straining credulity (which it does, in a storyline involving another planned bombing on a Cape Verde island. At least one character compares this plan to Dr. Evil or a Bond villain in terms of sheer audacity and impossibility...except, maybe it's not so impossible after all.)

It seems Patterson's really been on a roll with letting sci-fi elements creep into his crime books - from Confessions to Truth Or Die, and now this. Where will he go next? We'll just have to wait and see.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Rebel Allies

I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Rebel Allies I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Rebel Allies by Pittacus Lore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally, some much-needed answers after The Revenge of Seven and Hidden Enemy! Chief among them - who is GUARD? The answer is, thankfully, revealed in the first novella of this collection, while the remaining two are devoted to GUARD's backstory. And what a backstory it is. Move over, Marina, Nine, Six, Sam...I've got a new favorite character in this series, and if GUARD doesn't show up in The Fate of Ten, I'll be sorely, sorely disappointed.

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Review: The Martian

The Martian The Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm sure I'm not the only one who picked this book up just because it's soon to be turned into a star-studded movie directed by Ridley Scott. At least I had an idea of what to expect - survival, action, sci-fi, and bizarrely funny dialogue. This book has those in spades - but especially the last one. My uncle, who read this one before I did, warned me and my dad that Mark Watney's sense of humor was particularly juvenile. He wasn't kidding ("look, a pair of boobs!") - but hey, it works, because it's the perfect defense mechanism for a guy who's all by himself on a strange planet. It works so well, in fact, that I actually came to hate it when the narrative broke away from his log entries to focus on the human efforts to get him back home. Even though those are just as necessary to the story, they feel so much less entertaining in comparison.

My parents are dying to see this movie, and I'm sure we'll all end up going to the theater for it sometime in October. Preferably after I see Crimson Peak, though. But this movie, with its many great actors (and, of course, Ridley Scott at the helm), should be really good, even if they have to clean up most of Watney's dialogue for a PG-13 rating.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Compared to the prize-winning story that made Harper Lee a household name, this one isn't quite as good. It's good on its own, but To Kill A Mockingbird sets the bar way too high for this book to ever reach. However, it's very thought-provoking, nevertheless, especially in the way it handles discussion on the Civil Rights Movement. Scout (I can't bring myself to call her "Jean Louise") is very much modern, having been raised to respect all people and gone on to live in New York, a more progressive and diverse place than Maycomb County. And everyone around her is either stuck in their Southern ways (I'm looking at you, Aunt Alexandra!) or, dare I say, considerably complicated (like Atticus.) I won't get into the discussions (and, later, nasty arguments) Atticus and Scout have over the course of the book - they would spoil the story too much. Even though, by now, that particular aspect of the story's been spoiled to death (an "It Was His Sled" moment, as TVTropes would say, or perhaps "All There Is To Know About Go Set A Watchman.")

One not-too-spoilery thing (for this book, anyway) I will nitpick a bit about, one point, the narrative mentions the trial of an unnamed black man accused of rape. Automatically, I'm thinking Tom Robinson - except it's said that Atticus helped this man get off on the charge, when we all remember Tom Robinson was found guilty. To what do we chalk this up? Are these two different cases? Or is this an inconsistency that was kept as-is from the original draft after Harper Lee went on to write TKAM instead? We may never know.

So, the theme of this book can be summarized, pithily, as "Growing Up Sucks." Or, better yet, "When you grow up, your idols will fall, and you'll lose your religion - in more ways than one, possibly." Yeah, I can actually see why Lee said, for so long, that she wouldn't release another book - because TKAM is a classic, and anything that taints its legacy in any way (as this book does just for painting some of Lee's most iconic characters with a darker brush) really isn't all that necessary. And I can't exactly see this book being taught alongside its predecessor in high school English classes - unless the teacher happens to be a soul-crushing cynic (like some of those from my old high school), or just that into the concepts of dichotomy and round characters.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: Positive: A Novel

Positive: A Novel Positive: A Novel by David Wellington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was surprised when I first went into the GR page for this book (I'd picked it up blindly at the library) and found it being compared to Justin Cronin. Cronin's acclaimed novel The Passage is a long, sprawling novel which I found very, very overrated. The comparison to Guillermo Del Toro was much more on the mark for this epic piece of postapocalypse. From the get-go, Positive is dark, dangerous, and visceral. Between the smelly shellfish at the start, Finn's mom going zombie, and all the trouble he gets into afterwards with marauders and death cultists and the like...sweet Jesus. My balls still hurt for Finn from that one scene about 120 pages in, too.

There probably won't be a sequel to this one, but if there is, I'll definitely be first in line for it at the library.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Truth or Die

Truth or Die Truth or Die by James Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read a few good Patterson standalones that really deserve to be the first in a series, and this one is no exception. However, I would much prefer to read a whole series of Truth or Die books if it focused not on its protagonist and narrator, Trevor Mann, but instead on Owen Lewis. Outside of his YA series, Owen is the Patterson character I've connected to best, mostly because I found it very shockingly easy to identify with him. Sure, he's a genius, and I'm, well, not. Not in the way he is, at least. But he and I are close in age, similar in appearance (or so I'd have myself believe), and practically identical in our senses of humor - especially when it comes to dishing out weapons-grade snark. His Alex Trebek impression, in particular, had me in stitches. And his lines in general were great opportunities for me to practice my always-in-need-of-work Dylan O'Brien impression (I'd fan-cast him as Owen, easy.)

Besides, without Owen, there wouldn't have been as much of a story in this one. Well, I suppose someone else could have invented the highly disturbing Applied Phlebotinum on which this book runs, but would they have left such an amazing impression as Owen? In the words of my trusty childhood Magic 8 Ball, "Don't Count On It." And there's so much potential for a crossover between an Owen Lewis series and some of the other works in Patterson's library - particularly Michael Bennett (for the New York setting), or Confessions (again, New York, and also for the not-so-secret sci-fi genre elements.) Seriously, Tandy Angel and Owen Lewis teaming up? How cool is that?

Well, I can always hope. And that's probably all I'll be able to do, unless the seemingly-impossible happens and my crossover dreams come true.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Rosehead

Rosehead Rosehead by Ksenia Anske
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really, why isn't this a bloody movie yet? When it does become a movie, they'll be hard-pressed to prevent it from being rated R just for the freaky bloodiness alone. Alice in Wonderland has nothing on this masterpiece of European oddity. It's cool enough that there's a talking dog and an adventuresome young lady in the lead roles, but then the monster, one of the most original monsters you'll ever see (and who makes it easier to take Petal Power more seriously as a villainous threat than, say, Marluxia), comes along. You will find yourself entertained beyond belief, even when Rosehead proves herself as the most disgusting creation you'll wish you'd heard of sooner. You will wish this wasn't the only book in the series. You will need to read more from Ksenia Anske, one of Wattpad's most gifted storytellers.

Count on it.

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Review: Orion Rising

Orion Rising Orion Rising by Chard Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a unique little post-apocalyptic vision - think Total Recall 2012 (the world's population restricted to only a few small corners of the globe, and jam-packed into those tight, confined spaces) crossed with The Last Ship (seafaring adventure aplenty.) There are a few slow spots, but then the action ramps up again, reminding you that this is a dangerous, deadly future populated with people trying to survive, as you do.

I'm told that this one won't exactly have a direct sequel - but there is at least one story planned to be set in the same universe. So it'll be more like Westerfeld's Last Days - a spinoff-sequel, maybe featuring the return of Orion et al. I hope.

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Review: Third Time Lucky

Third Time Lucky Third Time Lucky by J L Pawley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Icari return for their third adventure - only this time around, the story is longer, less adventurous, and a hell of a lot more personal. New members join the Flight (if you don't love Rory right away, or keep calling her that even after she takes the Flight name Lory, SHAME ON YOU.) At least one longtime Flight member dies. At least one falls seriously ill. Angelists and Evos continue to lurk about, being evil.

And in the end, there's so much bittersweetness - because you can't help but cry, even though there's more than a few sparks of hope for the future of the Flight.

Next up, the third Origins story, then A Flight Christmas (!), and finally, Final Stand! :D

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: Brigands M.C.

Brigands M.C. Brigands M.C. by Robert Muchamore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

CHERUB's penultimate adventure goes for And Now For Something (Not) Completely Different. It's a lot more grounded than the sort of teenage Bond-esque fare the series is known for, and it even incorporates a little bit of Kill Bill (and, even more so, The Professional) into its storyline, with the primary conflict being Dante's family getting killed off by the Brigands, and then, years later, his joining CHERUB and getting his revenge on a mission designed to infiltrate the same biker gang. And, let's face it, Dante's story is every bit as compelling as those of the Adams sibs, if not more so. If any character deserves his own spinoff series, he does.

Also a real refreshment - the decreased presence of cherubs who aren't James or Lauren. With fewer relationship issues involved (I was getting pretty sick of the Cheating Cherubs trend I'd been noticing), the story did a considerably better job of holding my interest.

It's just really sad that there's only one more adventure left for James...but that's okay, because I'm reasonably certain this one will remain my favorite anyway.

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review: The Murder Complex

The Murder Complex The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a downright unusual little story here. It borrows the alternating female-and-male POVs of Legend (without the color-coded text). It includes short, whip-fast chapters like a James Patterson book, which gives the story some much-needed trouble applying the brakes. The book does have trouble figuring out where it's going at first, but eventually this deadly post-apocalypse makes sense in so many ways.

Honestly, I can't believe it took me this long to find this book. Well, if it had been available at my library, maybe I would've found it sooner. Oh well - now I can set my sights on the sequel. :)

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Review: Midnight Blue-Light Special

Midnight Blue-Light Special Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm so glad I picked this one up along with Discount Armageddon, 'cause I don't know what I would've done if I'd waited to read that one before getting the sequel. The Verity withdrawal would've killed me - and it very likely still will, what with the reveal in the Acknowledgments that the next two InCryptid books will have Verity's brother Alex as the main character. I was actually disappointed to read this. What can I say? I've fallen hard for Verity, so much more so than for Toby. The fact that she bears a pretty noticeable resemblance to Emma Stone (according to the cover art, at least) really helps. (I also said Toby's cover-art pictures looked like Emma Stone - which proves only that I keep seeing her everywhere.) And that also made it hard for me not to cry when Verity talked about what Antimony calls her "Gwen Stacy thing," but let's not go there.

Oh well. I can always hope that Verity will be back in the driver's seat for Book 5. And that even without her in the lead role, the next two books in the series will still include considerable ass-kickage, more geek references than you can shake a stick at, and of course those maddeningly adorable Aeslin mice.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review: Discount Armageddon

Discount Armageddon Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Verity Price may be very much into dancing, but that doesn't mean she's got zero geek cred. Let's face it, she wouldn't be a Seanan McGuire lead if she didn't. And between her dancing, her geek cred, and her super-duper-always-awesome skills of ass-kickage, she's every bit as awesome and memorable as Toby Daye. Ramming the point home is her playlist at the end of the book - unsurprisingly, it's my kind of playlist too. Eclectic and awesome, including such gems as "Manic Monday" and "U + Ur Hand" (I seriously couldn't stop singing that song, in particular, to myself as I kept reading this book.) Why can't Toby have that kind of playlist? She deserves one too. I might just make one for her someday.

I'm just glad my library finally got their hands on this book. Despite being in the Bay Area, my library's not been keeping up on their McGuire very well lately. But now they finally completed the collection with this book, I've been able to start and enjoy this one, then move on to Book 2 very quickly - I'm just gonna take an Orson Scott Card break first. (But I don't think I'm gonna love Speaker For The Dead nearly as much as this one.)

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tiny Teen Wolf Cast

Inspired by the weird and wonderful misadventures of Twitter's favorite adorable thing, @tiny_hannibal, I've decided to turn the cast of Teen Wolf into tiny-fied versions of themselves. Here they are!

On the left, we have Lydia, Stiles, Liam, and Malia. Down the middle are Derek, Scott, and Jackson. And on the right, of course, are Allison, Isaac, Danny, and Kira.

Whew - that was fun to draw. Now back to writing and/or random tweeting! :D

Review: The Deaths of Tao

The Deaths of Tao The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No sophomore slump here for Tao - the second entry in the series really ramps up the stakes as the Prophus and Genjix (I wonder who copyedited the back-cover blurb, 'cause they misspelled "Genjix" there - although, to be fair, my computer doesn't seem to accept it as a word even when spelled correctly) well and truly go to war. The Genjix plan, in particular, is the stuff of legend, and hopefully will never be attempted on this planet in reality.

That ending, God. *goes into cave to special-order Book 3, the title of which actually seems to make more sense now*

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review: Endgame: The Complete Training Diaries

Endgame: The Complete Training Diaries Endgame: The Complete Training Diaries by James Frey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although not every Player's secret backstory is super-duper-totally compelling, a fair few of them are. Chief among them - those of Marcus, Sarah, An, and Jago. There's also the story behind Aisling's father Declan, which (based on the Sky Key blurb) is an important building block for her character. Because after all, every game needs a Game Breaker.

Overall, this was a nice little treat to pass the time while waiting for Sky Key. That one needs to be in my hands NOW.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review: Passion

Passion Passion by Lauren Kate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew I was waiting for validation of my decision to read this series, and finally, it has come. Ms. Kate, in this installment, decided to go for Something Completely Different - time travel, and lots of it. Oh, and Bill, who's now my favorite character in this series, simply for the breath of fresh air he provides.

But most importantly, answers about the series' driving mysteries have finally been provided. And hoo boy, were they nasty answers. Let's face it, as far as this book is concerned, Supernatural's got it wrong - there's no bigger bag of dicks than Satan. (SPN's Metatron tried, though. Oh, how he tried.) And now, the ending of this book really raises the stakes, so I have to finish the series now, even if it turns out this book was just the series' peak. (I really hope not, though.)

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Aww, The Birthday Feels... :D

Yesterday, I turned 22. A few Wattpad friends, upon learning of this immediately teased me with a certain Taylor Swift song (no names, because the Secretary insisted on disavowing all knowledge of their actions - and yes, I saw Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation today, which I highly recommend to all living within a hundred miles of a movie theater!) However, some others gave me a different, much more awesomer type of gift. I think this might be a personal record for me - today, I got no less than three ( <3 ) Wattpad dedications!

First off, the latest chapter of Sarah Benson's The Bloodstone Prophecy - her second Shadow Wars novel! (Think Kane Chronicles or Children of the Lamp for an older audience - YA Egyptian adventure.)

Second, this review of Red Rain, penned by Wattpadder @Falling4Angels.

And third, the ever-amazing @SkiesAfterRain gifted me the first-ever fanfic of one of my stories - in which Jay, Evan, and Harris go to Comic-Con!

Many thanks to all of you for rocking out loud! :3 :D