Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beautiful Child: A Newly Edited Sample Of Red Rain

***SPOILER ALERT***

Inspired by Ashlyn from Wattpad and a little something she said during tonight's #tcbwatt webcast, this post will be largely devoted to sharing the majority of a short new chapter from Red Rain which remains unreleased, as it does not go into the edit currently available on Wattpad or Write On. This is a new Chapter 24 (the previous Chapter 24, "Oh Love," will now be numbered 25, but its title will remain intact), entitled "Beautiful Child" after a lovely song by NCIS star Pauley Perrette. I chose that song because, thematically, it's very appropriate, as it includes one of my characters coming out of the closet - in more ways than one, too. And there's another character who never lived long enough to have a physical presence in my story, and had she heard this song, it would have made a difference. I'd like to think it's a sweet little story I've got going on here, with its message of love and hope for all involved, and I would hope the Pinecone Army agrees with me.

A few little notes - first off, this is set late in Red Rain, after Fionna's death (hence the huge SPOILER ALERT on top of this post). Also, Rachel and Dani have changed hair colors, so Rachel's now redheaded and Dani's blonde. Finally, yes, I've done away with the whole "are they a couple or not?" thing that Alex and Rachel have going on in the currently online version of Blue Monday. Now, Rachex is to be an Official Couple throughout Blue Monday and beyond, and this scene includes the moment when they make their first romantic connection.

With that, here's the music, and away we go:

As time goes by, I find myself feeling a little bit less dispirited from day to day. There are exceptions, though. Lots of exceptions. From November to December, I infrequently lapse into periods of depression brought on by memories of Fionna. I don’t even have that many of them, but those that I do have, especially the happy ones, force me to think of what could have been.

Like the possibility that, on holidays, I could have taken Fionna home with me to meet my mom. Or vice versa. Thanksgiving and Christmas, I dread them now, because I know these thoughts will be occupying my head the whole time.

If I’m in my room when my “fits of the sullens,” as Mrs. Weasley might put it, strike, Luca’s usually there to bring me back to normal. He often succeeds - like when he shows me hilarious GIFs of the various Doctors giving great quote, or Baymax from Big Hero 6 (which I never got to see at the movies, in the end) being an inflatable white puppy chasing a soccer ball.

Sometimes, though, he’s not in our room. Or I’m not. There’s a time right after we get back from Thanksgiving break where I spend hours folded into a window seat in the lounge, staring into space with wet eyes. Luca tries to get me to come back to the dorm with him, but I refuse, not wanting to move. Rachel also comes up to me and holds my hand just long enough to say, “If you ever wanna talk to me, my door’s always open.”

I file and save that in the back of my brain for a while. Then, the next time I end up in that window seat, on the last full day of school before winter break, I tear my gaze away from the snowy skies and walk into the girls’ dorm hall. Checking the name tags, I soon find the room Rachel shares with Dani.

“Hey, Alex,” she says when she opens the door after I knock on it. “Feeling all right? Of course not; that’s a stupid question. Come in, come in.”

Entering her room, I’m directed to sit next to her on her bed. She has a few posters on her side of the wall, unlike Dani’s, which is bare and undecorated. The most prominent one is of 5 Seconds of Summer, Hell’s biggest boy band.

Above that poster is a small flag with three stripes. Pink on top, blue on the bottom, and a narrow purple band in the middle.

Following my gaze, Rachel covers her mouth as she starts laughing and blushing. “You recognize that, huh?” she asks.

“The bi flag,” I say.

She looks down, still with a flaming red face to match her hair. “This, uh, this isn’t how I imagined coming out. I usually take that down if anyone else comes in.”

“That’s okay,” I say, laying my arm over her shoulder. “You’re telling the right guy.”

“No duh.” She looks up at me for a moment. “The only people who know are you, Dani, and my family. By which I mean my parents and brother.”

“You have a brother?”

“Mm-hmm.” She pulls out her phone and shows me a picture of herself arm-in-arm with a tall, broad-shouldered Ian Somerhalder look-alike. “This is Carl,” she says. “He’s a junior at USC. And no matter how many girlfriends he ever has in his life, he always says he’ll never love them more than he loves me.”

“Sounds sweet.”

“You should know. You’re the only other guy I’ve met with a heart to rival his. And that’s not the only thing you’ve got in common with him.” The next picture she shows me depicts Carl from behind, shirtless and showing off his wings on the beach.

Featherless wings. Like Gabe’s.

“That’s right,” Rachel says as my jaw drops. “You aren’t the only hybrid in Heaven. Our dad’s a demon, and our mom’s an angel.”

“Your dad’s probably hella more chill than mine.”

“Oh yeah.” She puts her phone away. “He was so proud of me when I came out to him and Mom.” She wipes a tear from her eye. “It was a really sad time for me at that point. Kind of like what you’re going through right now, actually.”

“How so?”

Rachel takes my hand - hers, I feel it shaking. “You know why Dani got me as a roommate, of all the girls at Balthazar?” Her lip trembles. “‘Cause I was the only girl in our class without one. And the girl I used to room with - she was Mia Kang.”

“No!” I cry. “Not her!”

“You remember how she killed herself last summer?” she asks. “Most people don’t realize it was ‘cause her parents found out she was a lesbian.”

“Oh my God.” I don’t know what else to say.

“Yeah,” Rachel says. “We were...we were in love. And she was my first love too.” Wiping her eyes, she adds, “First girl love, anyway. Mia was there for me after Steve and I broke up - and then she wasn’t. I still miss her, even now, and it’s been six months.”

Now I understand what she meant when she said her door was open. Her story has really tugged my heartstrings. Not with sadness, but longing. Hope. The desire to offer her a level of love and solace she hasn’t known for months, and have those feelings reciprocated.

It’s a stupid idea, but I think I owe it to the both of us to go for it. I lace my fingers with Rachel’s and feel her squeeze my hand in return. Then I turn my body so I can face her more properly as I kiss her salty, tear-stained lips.

I expect her to pull back in surprise, maybe even disgust. But she responds by pulling my head even closer to hers, deepening the kiss.

Compared to the one spicy kiss I had with Dani, and Fionna’s awkward-but-sweet ones, Rachel blows them completely out of the water. I’ve never felt this way before, hammered with this kind of wild, intense mix of emotions. My heart aches for her similarly broken one. At the same time, it merrily skips a few beats, overjoyed at the opportunity to kickstart its reconstruction.

Her hair’s tangled around my finger when our lip-lock is broken. We gaze into each other’s eyes for a few moments, then she says, “Thanks. I...I needed that.”

“So did I.”

This would be the perfect time to ask if she’d like to meet up again sometime. Like, on a date. But I think we’re both so overwhelmed by our kiss that we completely forget to voice that question. Stupid me, I even leave her room without getting her email or her number or anything.

So I spend all of winter break dying to see Rachel again, hoping against hope that this kiss wasn’t just a one-time thing. She’s right - I do have a big heart. Too big by half. I’m going with a Pink quote for this one: “Why do we fall in love so easily, even when it’s not right?”

Turns out, though, it’s the opposite of not right. The first day back at Balthazar in January, when I see Rachel, I kiss her on the cheek, and she jumps into my arms to hug me back. She even leaves a yellow Post-It inside my hood, with her email and number written on it. “Should’ve given that to you before break,” she says.

“Love you too,” I say, holding her hand as we sit in the lounge’s biggest armchair.

The Scorch Trials Movie: Or, Mad Thomas And His Army Of BAMFs

Before you read this post, I have a bit of mood music for you to enjoy. It's a sample from the soundtrack for the movie I just saw in theaters today, and it's one of the best pieces of movie music I've heard since the theme from Pacific Rim. It's fast-paced, intense, and perfectly exemplifies the panic-inducing Holy Shit Quotient of its movie, especially around the two-minute mark with a sound effect that's best described thusly: "It's quiet. Too quiet...wait, that's a goddamn countdown clock! EVERYBODY RUN!"

Say the title in your best Aidan Gillen impression: "You're Not Getting Out Of Here." And enjoy John Paesano's finest:

Now...my review. (WARNING: SPOILERS!)

At long last, I've gone and seen the second Maze Runner movie, The Scorch Trials. I went into it knowing that it would be quite different from the book, even more so than its predecessor. Remembering how the differences between book and movie made the latter that much better, I had high hopes for this second installment.

My hopes were met and then some.

Talking with my friend after seeing the movie, I've realized something. God love James Dashner and his #DashnerArmy, but The Maze Runner is a rare example of a book (or, in this case, series) that works so much better as a movie that the book actually suffers for it, paling in comparison. It's especially noticeable with this second movie, because I found the original Scorch Trials to be the weakest novel in the trilogy, but I'm thinking that for the movies, it'll be the opposite for me. For me, The Scorch Trials movie could be this franchise's Catching Fire, the middle installment that wipes the floor with its predecessor and sequel on so many levels.

When mentioning Catching Fire,
never fail to invoke Johanna Mason.

The first major difference between the book and the movie here is that, instead of having two Mazes (one mostly boys, one mostly girls) competing to run across the Scorch to safety (except it's really not), the plot is instead kicked off by the Group A survivors (Thomas, Newt, Teresa, Minho, etc.) and newbie Aris (from Group B) discovering the deadly, Island-esque secret of WCKD. Instead of sending the survivors of the many Mazes to a safe place, they're harvesting them for the cure to the Flare. That's when Tommy Boy and company realize they gotta vacate the premises yesterday, and maybe even take down a few hapless security guards in the process.

Can I haz electric tazer rifle too? Please? Pretty please?

The outcome of the plot is largely the same as in the book, though, with Teresa still being a traitor and bringing WCKD to the safe place, exactly where they're least wanted. It would've helped if Thomas could have discovered it sooner with the telepathic powers he had in the book, but the movies wisely discarded that element, because I think the writers knew it would make it harder to believe that Teresa could be so good at hiding her betrayal for so long. (Also, on the subject of Teresa, Kaya Scodelario's American accent has improved considerably since her appearance in the first movie. There, my cousin and I both agreed that it sucked, although she definitely made up for it with the throwing-of-fruit scene.)

Along the way, it's a pretty bloody wild ride, as Newt might say. (Or as I would say - my most attentive Pinecones would've noticed why by now, I bet.) The desert landscape of the titular Scorch looks like Mad Max by way of I Am Legend - postapocalyptic, more broken than the outskirts of that Limbo city from Inception, and eye-catching in every way. It helped that I saw it in the new Barco Escape 270-degree format, with two additional screens positioned to the side of the main one. I hear this technology was first showcased last year on the original Maze Runner movie, which I was not able to catch in theaters, sadly. This year, however, my local theater was one of the lucky few selected to feature the Escape screens. While the display needed a bit of work - anytime the extra screens kicked in for close-up footage, the three images didn't join together as seamlessly as they should have - it was perfect for the inevitable sweeping, panoramic first shot of the ruined city in which our protagonists found themselves.

Despite not really being in the movie, this shot
is actually pretty representative of the Scorch.

That's just one of many serious visual treats this movie has in store. And boy howdy, does this movie deliver on the effects. Both Maze Runner movies are shockingly less expensive than the appear. The first movie was budgeted around $35 million, and this one at $61 million. You probably wouldn't know that, though, from the lifelike CGI ruins, insanely pyrotechnic climax, the collapsing factory (which is itself prefaced by an explosion with a highly original ignition source - an electrically-tipped device attached to the needle of a record player, playing a hilariously dissonant-for-the-scene Hawaiian-type ditty which I will refer to only as "Jorge's song"), and of course the Cranks. While Dashner doesn't do their description much justice in the book, as far as my best friend and I can remember, in the movie, they're the stuff of Greg Nicotero's nightmares. They're the most gnarly zombies ever put to film, if I do say so myself. I'd like to see the walkers of The Walking Dead run up stacks of escalators, or pop out of underground undergrowth, or take terrifying plunges through broken windows in half-collapsed skyscrapers.

Not a lot of detail in this shot.
But that's okay. I don't wanna scare the kiddies.

Thanks to this movie, I think it's safe to say that Wes Ball has landed squarely in my list of top five directors whom I would love to see helm a film version of Red Rain. Other top contenders include Len Wiseman (from whom I have only one degree of separation, because we graduated from the same high school about twenty years apart), Marc Webb (director of my favorite movies, The Amazing Spider-Man series), James Gunn ('cause Guardians, you know), and Joss Whedon (who could do with a slight change of pace following his two-in-a-row Avengers kick.)

Fame, fortune, and glory, I hope.

There are also a number of actors here whom I would love to see in a potential Red Rain movie. There's a whole buttload of professional Hey, It's That Guy! stars - here we have such examples as Lili Taylor (Da Chief from Almost Human), Aidan Gillen (you'll never see Littlefinger the same way again, and certainly not without wanting to punch his lights out for being such an assbutt prick to our poor Glader friends), Alan Tudyk (whoever decided on his character's wardrobe needs a medal for extreme tackiness), and Giancarlo Esposito (Jorge. 'Nuff said.)

And as for the young up-and-comers, there are plenty of great ones to go around, and they need our eyes on them, 'cause the vast majority of them are going places, methinks. Chief among them are my three most fancastable. Katherine McNamara (my pick for Rachel from Red Rain), the new Clary Fray, appears here as Sonya, a survivor of Group B, and it was awesome to finally get a glimpse of her at work before the premiere of Shadowhunters. Not to mention I was not-so-secretly fanboying, 'cause she's my new celebrity crush. And why not? Between her great looks, her big brain (IMDb informs me she graduated high school and college early), and her being a fellow Spider-Fan (unless I remember her recent Twitter Q&A wrongly), what's not to love about her?

Blondes don't have to be dumb, but they still get to have fun.
New Avenger's Gwen Stacy, or MJ?
Either way, she'd rock the house.

Newt deserves mention as well. I've noticed that everyone and their mother wants Thomas Sangster to play a part in their books-turned movies. My friend would like to see him as the lead role in her rabies-themed survival horror story. Taran Matharu would love him to be Tarquin in a Summoner movie. I've chosen him as the face of Gabe (and before I forget, does anyone know of any proof that Sangster's got a good fake American accent? I'd love at least one character in Red Rain to have one, the better to fool my dad like Andrew Lincoln did on The Walking Dead.) Sangster is a talented dude, because these three characters I've mentioned are a pretty diverse lot, and he could prove more than a match for their roles. Also, these are all barely-post-adolescent roles at most, but that's okay, because Sangster doesn't seem to have aged much beyond seventeen. Therefore, any extreme Andrew Garfield-level Dawson Casting is excusable for him.

If Newt dies, we riot. You with me, you cheeky bastards?

Let us not, dear friends, forget Dylan O'Brien. But what could I say about him that hasn't been said before? I believe he's our generation's next great action hero.

Preach, dude.

And, like the rest of us, he's an incurable goofball. Just see this next GIF or any Teen Wolf blooper reel for proof ('cause most of the highlights of the latter are his fault).

Better not dance like that in the Maze for real.
The Grievers can be really harsh critics.

Between the movie-magic eye candy and the serious star power, I have no choice but to award The Scorch Trials an A+ grade. It's my favorite movie of 2015 so far, and while there are some serious future contenders for that same title (Crimson Peak, Mockingjay: Part II, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), this one's guaranteed to remain in fourth place at worst. The next movie's less than 18 months away now, but the wait for Feb. 2017's probably gonna feel a little bit like this:

But it's less torturous than waiting for Sherlock.

And now, I have to stop writing - I really need to sleep, but I might dream about the Scorch instead. Till next time, Pinecones!

#FeedTheRightWolf
Remember: Denis Leary is always watching. Always.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review: All Fall Down

All Fall Down All Fall Down by Ally Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've never read Ally Carter before, but I've heard a lot about her, and I figured this would be a great place to start. I wasn't disappointed.

It's an unusual setting - a fictional Mediterranean nation called Adria, which has been occupied by about every historical empire or army under the sun, from the Mongols to the Romans. It sounds a lot like Malta, in fact.

The characters are cool - starting with protagonist Grace, who comes across as a hybrid of Mara Dyer (without supernatural powers) and a younger Kate Beckett, and also including her new friend Noah, one of those athletic and adorkable types of an unusual ethnic mix who just begs to have Tyler Posey fan-cast as him.

The writing sags a bit in the middle or so, but the ending, when Grace's memories are revealed and we get a cliffhanger that's oddly reminiscent of the close to Gotham Season 1, makes up for it on so many levels.

When the second book comes out, I'll do my damnedest to ensure I'm first in line at the library for it.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: The Young World

The Young World The Young World by Chris Weitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw a lot of negative reviews for this book, with most of them being complaints that the story isn't really anything new or original. Dystopian, New York, teenagers in the apocalypse, fighting and banging and even eating other people's thighs, Hannibal-style. Yeah, not very original - but the likable dual narrators (smart Jeff and sassy Donna, who sounds way more beautiful than her self-description) and high action made up enough for it.

Oh, and the cliffhanger - I can't stop reading this now, can I? I just hope that it doesn't end up losing quality in later books, the way Partials (to which this book is often compared, as far as I noticed in the reviews) did.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: Devil's Pocket

Devil's Pocket Devil's Pocket by John Dixon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first book in this series read like Matthew Reilly did The Maze Runner. This one reads more like James Rollins doing James Dashner doing The Hunger Games. That might just be the best way to describe this epic mashup of Roman-esque gladiator fights in the modern day (at least one of which required Carl to fight with a broken arm - dear God) and numerous references to Greek gods, Viking funerals, and Dante, and impending apocalyptic doom - not only from the volcano that gives this book its name, but also from the ever-escalating schemes of Stark and his masters, the Few (among whose members I wouldn't be surprised if there were members of previous Omniscient Councils of Vagueness in fiction, like the Guild, or the 1% of the 1% - including Whiterose - from Mr. Robot.)

The plot threads are mostly tied up neatly at the end, but there's definite room for a sequel. So I really hope Mr. Dixon makes this a trilogy at least - and that we don't end up having to wait as much as 18 months or more for the next book!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: Irkadura

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

And now for something completely different from the ever-popular, ever-undiscovered Ksenia Anske. There are a few of her usual trappings - strong female lead, talking dogs, bizarro fantasy - but overall, this book is so very much not Rosehead or The Badlings. It's a million times Darker and Edgier, with the Lisbeth Salander-like horrors the protagonist has to face. No wonder she slips into a fantasy world where everyone and their mother (literally) has their spirit animal revealed for her to see.

It's very much worth reading, though, for the story involving Irina and Pavlik - those poor kids. :( And also the eaglet, whose personality reminds me strongly of that scorpion from Orphan Black ("Shut up about the butter!") Not to mention the brutal revenge Irina gets in the end for her mother's boyfriend's crimes - that would make Tarantino take notice.

This might be my last Ksenia Anske book for a while. I definitely need to take a breather before starting on her Siren Suicides trilogy.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: The Girl in the Spider's Web

The Girl in the Spider's Web The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first heard this was happeneing, I was overjoyed. Never mind the fact that this was based on a new manuscript, not linked to the partials left on Larsson's laptop - more Lisbeth Salander? More Mikael Blomkvist? More Lisbeth Effing Salander? This felt like just what the doctor ordered.

It's not as good as any of the three original Millennium books, largely because it feels like this one has much less of our (anti)heroes' involvement in the story. It's like, did Lagercrantz come up with an original thriller idea and later decide to add Lisbeth and Blomkvist as an afterthought? That's the impression I'm getting.

However, even with the limited use of Larsson's characters, it's a pretty good story on its own. Like many recent James Patterson books, this one gets a little deeper into sci-fi territory with its allusions to AIs, I, Robot, and Marvel Comics (including the secret origin of Lisbeth's hacker handle, Wasp.) Speaking of secret origins, Lisbeth's personally connected to one of the Big Bads in this story, in a way you probably won't see coming until halfway through this book, and even then only if you're lucky.

Because of that connection, I really hope that Lagercrantz comes back to write another Lisbeth Salander story. There's definitely room to expand on this new story thread, and it better happen.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Review: Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

UNOFFICIAL PLAYLIST:

"You don't have long, I am on to you
The time, it has come, to destroy your supremacy!"
- Muse

"Don't take my heart, don't break my heart
Don't, don't throw it away..."
- Tears For Fears, "Head Over Heels"

"When we are young
Wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal for a limited time..."
- Rush, "Dreamline"

"Hey, there's a whole lotta people
Wonderin' who you are
They think you walk without a care in the world
But they've been wrong so far..."
- Don Henley, "Shangri-La"

"Must be somebody up above
Sayin' 'Come on girl, yeah, you gotta get back up!'"
- Alabama Shakes, "Hold On"

"She wants to dance like Uma Thurman
Bury me till I confess
She wants to dance like Uma Thurman
And I can't get you outta my head..."
- Fall Out Boy

REVIEW:

At first, I was a bit worried that the length of this book would make it too daunting a task to really enjoy. Luckily, like with a good Harry Potter or Song of Ice and Fire book (or Cassie Clare's epic-sized City of Heavenly Fire), this book delivered lots of high action over its considerable length. In addition to the action, there was a pretty good balance of romance (#RowlinRocks), and, dare I say, Lovecraftian horror. Those Valg... *shudders*

Now, having finished the book, I kinda have to say, it feels like this would be a good ending. Much of the story has been wrapped up, with a few loose ends, but none too annoying. It helps that a major antagonist dies in the end (I hope - it would be just like Maas to revive this character in later installments, I think.) So...two more books? Bring them on, but I'm thinking this might be the peak of the series for me.

Of course, I've been wrong before...

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review: The Fate of Ten

The Fate of Ten The Fate of Ten by Pittacus Lore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS***

Again, I had to wonder going into this - why is this the second-to-last book? The apocalypse has already begun, and there's no way it can take them until Book 7 to finally take down Setrakus Ra...right?

Apparently, it can. However, he's left very weak and with a spear in his chest last we see him - which can only be a good sign. With luck, he's finally dying, and they won't need to kill Ella first to get to him either. And we finally get a look at his past, not to mention that of Pittacus Lore - turns out Setrakus was even more of a Lucifer-type than we thought, believing his discoveries of how to artificially induce Lorien Legacies could finally overturn the system. Erm...nope. Sorry, dude.

Speaking of Pittacus, we get another surprise revelation about him. He doesn't really have *all* the Legacies. He just has one that lets him copy those of others, called Ximic. I think I remember a fan theory once that suggested that it was the secret to getting all the Legacies, using John's healing Legacy (which he learned after meeting Marina) as evidence of not only that, but also of John's theory that he himself is the next Pittacus. Genre Savvy fan, I salute thee!

Oh, but the ending...I can't believe they actually went there! Sarah...why'd you have to die? :'( Now John knows how Marina feels. Poor kids. War is Hell, but hey, at least Sarah should be in Heaven now, I hope.


Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find something with which to drown my feels.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Review: The Necromancer

The Necromancer The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Feeling like The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus by way of Jim Butcher (or perhaps Jasper Fforde, based on the semi-frequent use of comedic footnotes), this book is just as "fiendishly funny" as its GR blurb promises. Not to mention the dust jacket, which provides a fictional bio for its title character and ends on this gem of a line: "Where he lives is none of your verdammt business." Maybe I've seen National Treasure one too many times (actually, that's impossible, but the point still stands), but verdammt is one of my favorite foreign cuss words by far, which made that line extra-funny to me. It helps that Cabal, being unambiguously German, provided me ample opportunities to practice my Christoph Waltz impression (why it sounds more Scottish than Austrian, I have no idea, but it's a work in progress all the same.)

Since I'm gonna be finishing up the Nightside series soon, I think I may have just found a pretty neat new urban fantasy series to which I can become easily addicted. :)

View all my reviews

Review: Pocket Apocalypse

Pocket Apocalypse Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True story - my dad saw me reading this one and asked, based on his brief glimpse of the cover, why I was reading a romance novel. I was sorely tempted to read directly from the book and prove him wrong, but then I decided, what does it matter? I don't have to prove anything, because I'm enjoying this book too much. :)

It's actually a shame that now that I'm finally used to having Alex as narrator, we're gonna switch back to Verity for the next one. Sorely missed she was, and now sorely missed will Alex be. Not to mention Shelby and her family of Australian cryptozoologists - what is it about that country and its wildlife, real or cryptid, that's so fascinating to outsiders?

But I know one thing's gonna remain constant - the Aeslin mice. Seriously, every time those shrill little buggers show up, I practically die laughing, they're so bloody adorable! And when you read about Alex smuggling them overseas in a plane's kitchenette, and sternly warning them not to Denude the Cheese Cabinet? Priceless. Pun intended.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Half-Off Ragnarok

Half-Off Ragnarok Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew this book was gonna switch POVs to Alex instead of Verity, so I was expecting a little bit of tone change to happen. I just wish it didn't feel so serious. For some reason, the humorous moments didn't come nearly as often as in the previous two books. Fewer pop-culture references per page may have had something to do with that. Not to mention fewer Aeslin mice per chapter - although they were there, thank God.

So, while the style shifts are gonna take some getting used to, at least they're happening now that we've got a new hero in the house. Yeah, not every Seanan McGuire lead has the instant Dead-Like-Me-style prickly charm of Verity or Toby. And I really enjoyed Shelby's presence, especially for that supremely adorkable scene where she encounters Crow for the first time. With apologies to those unstoppably cute Aeslin mice, you've actually been outdone. :)

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Review: Armada

Armada Armada by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't think I've ever seen a book so wall-to-wall with pop culture references - and, being largely of the sci-fi and classic-rock varieties, these references go very much appreciated by me. The story seems like a very familiar one, but that's done completely on purpose, with total self-awareness of the tropes and cliches involved. Take the 21 Jump Street movies, dial down the raunchy comedy, dial up the nerd factor and Holy Shit Quotient, and you've basically got this here book.

If this one doesn't become a movie in the next five years, our universe is officially broken. Universe, prove you're not broken. See the movie potential? Make it so.

*drops mic*

*"Vital Signs" plays behind me as I walk offstage*

View all my reviews

Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can definitely see why this one's getting so much hype - it's essentially The Hunger Games in a setting that's closer in appearance, military, and technology to the ancient Roman Empire on which Panem was loosely based. This book has just about everything you can expect in a dystopian - an oppressed young woman, a young man who's stuck in the system, evil overlords, an evil Commandant (ugh, the Commandant.) It's pretty high up there with The Young Elites and Snow Like Ashes as one of the best fantasy dystopians of the last year or so.

Book 2...where are you?

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: Lights Out

Lights Out Lights Out by James Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Three years we've had to wait for the conclusion to Daniel X, and I think it's safe to say that wait was too long. Although the book was wild and action-packed and pulled no punches, so it's almost worth it. I was at least glad I was able to remember just about everything necessary from the previous books, even though I haven't picked one up in a few years now.

I think the best part of the book for me was the numerous Night At The Museum references. Not only for the part where Daniel and his friends visit the Museum of Natural History, but also for the Dance Party Ending, which totally would have belonged in one of those movies (although the surfeit of current hit artists in this book's finale would, if featured in NATM, probably be heavy on the old Earth, Wind, and Fire instead.)

Now, for the third time in less than a year, I'm bidding a James Patterson YA series ave atque vale.

View all my reviews