Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: Byron : A Zombie Tale (Part 1)

Byron : A Zombie Tale (Part 1) Byron : A Zombie Tale (Part 1) by Scott Wieczorek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was told this book would be a zombie tale in the vein of Warm Bodies or iZombie. Maybe not so much the former (although the movie is closer in tone to this book than the original Isaac Marion book), but the latter? A little more right on the money. Right from the get-go, the book gets into some gloriously grossgusting territory that also easily invites comparisons to that holy grail of zombie-based awesomeness, Zombieland. I mean, those early chapters with the blood everywhere, and the ugly goiter-like swellings? All I would need is the ability to read this while eating tonight's ravioli lasagna dinner (I've not mastered the art of balancing phones and/or computers with dinner plates, whereas I've done the same with physical books for well over half my life), and my evening would have been complete.

My only complaint is the way Byron's love interest is handled. Nothing against Elise - she's super-cool - but it feels like Byron falls in love with her way too quickly. To his credit, though, he points out that very fact in his narration, so he's at least aware of the fact that he's fallen victim to a common trope - which is far more than I can say for most characters. And given this book's mixture of unconventional ideas (some of which, I think, are references to Scott Sigler's Infected series), it's okay to fall back on a hackneyed one or two.

The ending, however, is unbelievably tragic, yet balances surprisingly well with the Bloody Hilarious black comedy of the book's start.

Can't wait to read the next part of Byron's story!

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Ten Thousand Skies Above You

Ten Thousand Skies Above You Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For whatever reason, the first book didn't impress me too much. This book, however, is quite an improvement. Just when you think the multiple universes Gray's created have given up all the secrets they have to offer, along comes another serious - and seriously wild - plot twist to upend the whole thing and force the reader to question all their assumptions about this story world.

And of course the ending demands that I finish out the trilogy, because there's really just no way the "evil" versions of these characters should be allowed to win. They've had enough victories already, methinks.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: The Eternity Key

The Eternity Key The Eternity Key by Bree Despain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's a bit of a come-down in quality from its predecessor, actually. But like many a good sequel, the cliffhanger ending is what saves the book in the end. I mean, seriously, the way this book ends is messed-up, even by Greek mythology standards. I'm talking Mark of Athena messed-up, if that gives you any idea.

Book 3...where are you? And why don't we have a title yet, even?

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Just The First Step - The Authentic Artist

As part of A.L. Woodson's recent #WattpadBooksAreRealBooksToo campaign, I've contributed a short article to her Authentic Artist blog. Since Wordpress doesn't allow me to just hit a button and share the article to Blogger, I'll just present you guys with a direct link to that post instead:

Read and enjoy!

Review: The Bureau of Time

The Bureau of Time The Bureau of Time by Brett Michael Orr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is how you can tell a young male millennial YA writer a la Taran Matharu - he's got a story jam-packed with elements borrowed from just about every other story you can think of, but thrown together in a way that still feels fresh and hyper-awesome.

Brett Michael Orr and his Bureau of Time are no exception.

First and foremost on my list of "Hey, This Sounds Like X!" comparison titles, Bureau of Time edition: Fringe. This book exists in a world of weird science words suspended in colorful gel screens, all set to the tune of an ominous piano-driven JJ Abrams theme song.

And, of course, there's more than one of everything in this book too.

Then we get a little bit of Divergent in our heroes. Here we have a girl who starts out going into a paramilitary environment more than a bit over her head, and is forced to toughen up extra fast. We also have a guy who's already quite capable of kicking major ass, and with all his scars, he looks every bit as dangerous as he is.

And let's not forget today's biggest fictional defier of the space-time continuum...the Flash. Especially with the creepy-ass villain, Zero, who feels so much like Zoom by way of Ultron. Not only that, but this book very easily compares to The Flash's famous fifteenth episode in terms of ultra-high Holy Shit Quotient.

No, seriously. The way that last scene of "Out of Time" had me screaming at the screen was the way I reacted to the final two or three chapters of this book.

And not just because a lot of the climax was set in San Francisco, but also because of the way my ship was being shelled with extreme prejudice. I love these poor characters so much, and Brett Michael Orr is not only subjecting them to a Matharu-level cliffhanger, but also to Riordan-level "This guy is not to be trusted with the lives his super-cool characters."

It's a shame there's no physical copy of this book yet. It deserves to share bookstore shelf space with the best of them. Seriously. I really hope that changes by the time Book 2 comes out.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Review: Rogue

Rogue Rogue by Mark Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been a while since the second book came out, but despite the long wait, it was pretty easy to get back into the final entry in this trilogy. Not many people are reading these books, as far as I'm aware, but they're very good for light entertainment. And, while the story often progressed a little too fast and made it incomprehensible at times without at least two re-reads of a page or three at a time, at least Frost doesn't fall into the same stylistic traps as the first two books (Purple Prose and Totally Radical) with nearly the same alarming frequency.

It's too bad there won't be any more in this series, but hopefully Frost will try his hand at this kind of MG/YA borderline writing again sometime. In the meantime, ave atque vale, Paladin Prophecy.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Untamed

Untamed Untamed by A.G. Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We've been waiting for this little supplement to the weird and wonderful world of the Splintered Trilogy for a little while, and it's great to see it finally here. Three stories this compilation's got. The first one focuses on Alyssa's mom and her own Wonderland misadventures. The second, I believe, was previously published between the first two books, which might explain why it made me remember how much I used to really dislike Morpheus back in the day. He always disturbed me...and besides, I was always on the Team Jeb minority. The sacrifices Alyssa and Jeb have made over the course of the trilogy...I ship them so hard, which means the first half of Story #3, the actual follow-up to Ensnared, gave me the feels something fierce. The second half, not so much in that department, but hey, I knew it was coming all the same, Morpheus finally getting his happy ending too.

How I wish this series weren't well and truly over. Ooh, I need a hug...

And now to wait for Ms. Howard's forthcoming RoseBlood. Just the title alone...

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: The Bone Labyrinth

The Bone Labyrinth The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, like the earlier Sigma adventure The Devil Colony, was sadly a little bit delayed - though not quite as much, being more like 16 months instead of 24. Somewhat embarrassingly, my library was cool enough to order it as far back as June 2015, only for the book to not come out for six months after that. Therefore, it's now officially the book I've had on hold for the longest time ever.

And what a book to deserve that honor. Sure, the plot may seem like a bit of a rip-off of Rise of the Planet of the Apes with the whole genetically-engineered intelligent ape thing, but at least it doesn't have an ending nearly so tragic as that movie. And besides, Baako's presence in the story helps Kowalski start to finally overcome his long-standing fear of monkeys in general. While we still don't know why he hates them, at least he gets character development in this story as a result.

Then, of course, there's the inevitable Sigma-signature plot of historical intrigue and weird science, and holy crap, does this book deliver on that front. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that I'll never look at the Moon the same way again.

Now to sit back and eagerly await the next Sigma book. But first, I think we're overdue for an adventure featuring Tucker Wayne and his war dog Kane. I'll be keeping an eye out for my library to finally order War Hawk whenever that comes out...

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Flash: Of Speedsters And Sweethearts


I'm not too big on math. We haven't been on good terms in years. But today, I'll persuade her to help me demonstrate a few things re: last night's episode of The Flash in simple terms.

Barry Allen + Patty Spivot = Batty.

Batty on the CW + Batty in the New 52 = Ricky Ships It. <3

Batty + Sweetness = Happy Shippers Like Ricky.

Batty + Fighting = See Meme Below.

I still don't trust Harry, in any incarnation, because of this, BTW.

So, when The Flash ended last night with the supremely adorkable Patty Spivot choosing to leave Central City, my immediate reaction was a shocked "NOOOOO..." And then, when the scene played out completely and I was able to process it, I was still in two minds. On the one hand, it's cool that Patty gets to follow a dream she put aside years ago, and if Barry says that her choice of school's a good one, well...

But on the other hand, I'm directing this particular message to the men and women of the Flash writers' room.

Seriously, Berlanti et al.

And that's just the superficial, primordial reaction. Another, more enlightened mind clued me in last night to an even better reason why Patty's decision was a mistake. I hereby bring in the tweet that started a long convo that kept me up past midnight:

Amy's right. Patty's tougher than that, and we all know it. And this is The Flash we're talking about - a show that runs on characters for whom we feel so strongly. We want to see nothing but the best for our heroes. We want them to win, not only when taking on deadly meta-humans and other assorted bad guys, but also when they're connecting with others and forming relationships. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees a lot of myself in Barry. One thing I don't want us to have in common, however, is a terminal inability to maintain a loving, long-term relationship. (Of course, Barry's lucky in that he's had girlfriends, whereas I haven't had one, ever, for so many reasons not germane to this discussion.)

This GIF was begging me to find a time and place for it. :)

Amy also brought up another great talking point in our chat last night - the possibility that Patty will return and help investigate the case of The Flash, as many of us have expected she'll eventually do with her (not without reason) anti-meta position. In my words, "Hello major plot twist!" The tension alone would be enough to drive us poor viewers Batty (pun intended), but at least Patty will get to stay on the show that way. Because, in another reply of mine going back to Amy's original tweet:

Mark my words, Pinecones, this is not the last we'll be seeing of Patty Spivot.

Till next time...

Remember: Denis Leary is always watching. Always.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: The Magicians

The Magicians The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a kind of bizarre meta-look at a fantasy world like the kind we all grew up with - Harry Potter, Narnia, etc. - but filtered through the lens of millennials going to college. Yeah, yeah, sure, they're millennial characters, and that means they're automatically all unlikable assbites...or does it? They're just...complicated, is all. Complicated, and often, struggling to find a place for themselves in this world, magical or not.

No wonder they all want to escape to a place like Fillory.

And no wonder everything that can possibly go wrong, does.

I had to special order this one from San Jose because all the copies at my library were on hold, as people are anticipating the forthcoming official debut of the Syfy TV series adaptation. I was lucky enough to catch the early airing of the premiere in December, and I found it visually stunning and more than interesting enough to try the books out.

I think the series is an improvement, but the book's still pretty good all the same. Now it's really got me pumped for the new show - can't wait to really get into the televised world of Brakebills and Fillory! (Even though neither of them is exactly Hogwarts or Narnia, but that's okay. No place can be Hogwarts or Narnia, except Hogwarts and Narnia.)

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Starling City Storm: A Sweet Little Splash Moment

I went into the writing of my second Spidey & Speedy fanfic piece, Starling City Storm, thinking it would be a great idea to ship the speedster with the Arrowverse's real Speedy herself, Thea Queen. I even made up my own ship name for it: Speedy + Flash = Splash. Catchy, huh? Well, nobody in the Arrowverse fandom seems to think so...yet. I dare you to read the following words and think they don't belong together, at least not in this alternate universe. :)

“Barry, could you help me out here?” Ollie calls me from down the hall, and I slide off the couch to go meet him.

“What’s up?” I ask.

He gestures to his bedroom door, which is closed - and locked, as he shows me when he tries in vain to open it. “Thea’s spent the last twenty minutes holed up in here, and I’m getting worried,” I say. “But because she’ll never trust me again if I come bursting in…”

“Oh, so you want me to be the bad guy?”

Ollie winks. “Not necessarily. I’m sure she’ll open up to you more than she would with me.”

“I heard that!” Thea cries from behind the door.

I look at Ollie questioningly. “You sure this is a good idea?”

“Hey, don’t raise your eyebrows at me,” Ollie laughs. “Eagles like to perch on those things.”

I laugh along with him, but then the good humor vanishes, sucked down a metaphorical drain, as I approach the door and knock gently. “Thea? Can I come in? Please?”

There’s a gap of about two seconds before she answers. “Being polite helps. Okay, Barry. But only you, all right?”

“Yeah, of course.”

I wait for her to unlock the door from inside, then I run through it before Ollie can follow me across the threshold. Thea’s waiting on the other side, and she’s quick - though not metahumanly so - to lock the door all over again.

“I can see why you wouldn’t want Ollie to come in,” I say.

Reflexively, Thea covers her chest with her hands, though it does nothing for her bare midriff. The only thing she’s wearing above the waist is a sports bra. I try not to get distracted by that particular sight - which, of course, is harder than it sounds. Especially because what I want to focus on instead is dangerously close to her undergarments.

“Is that from today?” I ask, pointing at the bruises lining her ribs.

“‘Fraid so.” Thea sits on the edge of Ollie’s bed, pulls her shirt on, and sighs, dropping her head into her hands.

“Speaking of today,” I ask as today’s latest Salish Dam incident comes back to mind, “what happened to you?”

Thea points at her side. “You just saw what happened,” she says.

“That’s not what I mean,” I say, dialing up the firmness of my voice the way Joe does when he’s trying to have a heart-to-heart with me. “Um...well, how do I put this? You were, uh, a little bit of a wild child on the battlefield.”

“Understatement of the year,” she scoffs. “It’s something I’ve had to deal with for a while, and you were just unlucky enough to witness it today.”

“What exactly is it?” I ask. “Don’t hold back, okay? If something’s bothering you-”

Thea looks up at me and holds up her hand, cutting me off. “If Ollie sent you in here to get me to spill the beans to him-”

“This is between us,” I say. Huh - who would’ve thought that twice in less than 24 hours, I’d be acting as a therapist for my fellow heroes? I can see the sign on my office door now - “Barry Allen, M.D., Meta.Psy.D, Pnk.Fl.D, BAMF.”


I nod.

“Okay.” Thea tucks her hair behind her ears and talks. “I’m not gonna bore you with all the details, but...let’s just say I wound up in the Lazarus Pit, and I think I might’ve come back wrong. And...and I think it might be ‘cause I’m Malcolm’s daughter.”

This is a new one on me, especially the latter confession. “You’re…?”

“What, Ollie didn’t tell you?” Thea laughs bitterly. “That’s okay. He must’ve finally figured out that it’s my responsibility, and only mine, to come out as a villain’s flesh and blood. Yeah, Ollie and I are only half-siblings. He’s the lucky one, though, being all of zero percent Merlyn.”

“Well, I know Malcolm’s an odd duck,” I say, “and he’s done some...shall we say, misguided things-”

Thea interrupts me again. “I didn’t ask you in here for a pity party,” she says. “I just needed to confess to someone.” Her lip trembles, and she draws herself into a stiff, guarded stance, like a turtle about to retreat into its shell.

“Hey.” I take her hand, even though I’m only...maybe 38% sure she won’t bite mine off. “Whatever your issues are, you shouldn’t just hold them back.”

“Maybe I should,” she says, tears forming in her eyes. “I’m easily provoked into a homicidal rage these days. Malcolm loves that about me-”

“Of course-”

“But nobody else does.”

I take her other hand, and on both of hers, I gently press my thumbs into her knuckles. Okay, maybe it’s a little soon to get this close with her, but she needs some affection and encouragement, and as long as I’m here… “I can’t tell you how to keep a lid on your emotions,” I say, “because I’m lousy at it myself. But…” I swallow, then reach up to wipe the tears from her face. “You said you went into the Lazarus Pit and that’s when this all started? Then I suggest you talk to Constantine. He might know a way to help you.”

She laughs weakly. “What if I don’t wanna give up my dark side?”

“You work with the Arrow,” I remind her. “I’d be surprised if you did.”

Seized by a sudden urge, I lean forward and kiss Thea’s cheek. In response, she embraces me tightly and whispers into my ear, “Thanks, Barry.”

“Don’t mention it,” I say, returning the hug and stroking her hair.

She takes a tissue to her eyes to dry them better, then opens the door and says, “You can have the bathroom if you want, Ollie!"

“Wasn’t waiting for it!” he calls after her as she disappears down the hall.

As I get off the bed and make my way to the door, Ollie sticks his arm into my path to stop me. “ any chance does your super-speed also kick in when you’re in bed?”

I fall over laughing.

“Yeah, I thought not,” Ollie says when he’s had his fair share of laughter at his own joke. “But if it did...I might just have to disavow all knowledge of your existence.”

“‘Barry Allen, you have failed this girl?’” I say.

“And I’ll definitely disavow you if you bastardize my old catchphrase like that again,” Ollie laughs. “Wasn’t even funny, man.”

I shake my head. “No, no, definitely not.” However, I can’t help but keep on half-smiling as my brain continues to process Ollie’s blue humor.

Review: ARK-13

ARK-13 ARK-13 by B.B. Gallagher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

B.B. Gallagher's latest book is now freshly completed on Wattpad for your reading pleasure. Not unlike Project Sparta, it's got tons of high-stakes action, although this time Gallagher's trying his hand at a different genre - sci-fi as opposed to spy fiction, and with more adult characters as opposed to Sparta's YA. Especially in its second half, the book has a breakneck, cinematic pace, leading up to a major twist ending - one I admittedly saw coming, but was still surprised because I'd tricked myself into thinking that twist would NOT happen in the end. It was a bit of a logic bomb in my head, not unlike that scene in Princess Bride where Vizzini tries to rationalize how he won't be getting the poisoned cup, except he will, so he won't drink it, and...I need to see that movie again to get a better idea of how that went.

With luck, one day Gallagher's books will be on the shelves at major retailers everywhere. But for now, we Wattpadders are lucky to count him among our ranks.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Review: Cruel Crown

Cruel Crown Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I somehow managed to not realize this was a thing until today. Well, not really. I did see a few hints about Cruel Crown floating around the intarwubs, but I didn't really put two and two together and realize it was a compilation of the two Red Queen e-book novellas (so far), with a few bonus features included for good measure.

The two stories couldn't be any more different just because of their protagonists. One is Silver, one is Red. One's royalty, the other a rebel. One is part of the system, and the other won't rest until the system is brought down. It's a pretty good study in contrasts, and together with the exciting forty-page sneak peek to Glass Sword, this quick little Target book aisle read is a nice little addition to this Franchise of Sharp, Bleeding Crowns.

My favorite parts, however, were the bonus materials. I think most of those were Target exclusives, so I do recommend you try to find the book at Target if you can just for those. But in those exclusive bonus materials, we have an awesome array of fanart from around the world (and I'm happy to see that some of this fanart comes from twentysomethings like myself - as if we needed to prove that new adults still read YA.) And, most important of all, there's a map of Norta. Now, while I was expecting that Norta was somehow based on northern England or Scotland or something (mostly because of Mare's last name being Barrow, which automatically makes me think of John Barrowman), I instead saw that Norta was instead based on the northeastern US. Which, given Victoria Aveyard's New England origins, makes all the sense in the world.

And now I can say I'm sufficiently pumped for Glass Sword. Bring it on. And, of course...


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Review: The Red and the Black

The Red and the Black The Red and the Black by Stendhal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Wattpad friend introduced me to this old classic of French literature. It's from roughly the time of Les Mis, but is far less expansive in scope as it follows one principal character. It's lined with satire on the sociopolitical climate of the time, particularly where the Church is concerned, and it runs on the assumption that men of the cloth are, by default, hypocritical characters only concerned with looking important and knowledgeable and classy in their own way.

In other words, it's a tragedy.

Like many classics, it's a dense read, but in all honesty, I'd much rather see this in high school English classes than any Les Mis. Let's face it, teenagers might have a better time connecting to Julien Sorel and his lofty dreams of wanting much more than this provincial life - dreams that will prove so much harder to fulfill than one might think.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: The Searcher

The Searcher The Searcher by Simon Toyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went into this one and found it pretty slow to start, not at all like Sanctus. So, for a little while, I thought this one would be a less worthy addition to the Simon Toyne canon. But after all, this is the author of one of the most underrated, "why isn't this a bloody movie yet?" books of the last five years, so I forged ahead. Eventually, the pacing and action did pick up, enough to overcome the book's relatively weak start, so it now comes recommended by me just like Toyne's previous books. Especially on the basis of the epilogue, in which my one real burning question - is this book realistic or fantastic? - is answered to my satisfaction, even as the book ends on a sizable cliffhanger, definitely Toyne's best since the orange-scented winds of doom from the end of The Key.

My dad gave up on the Sanctus trilogy after the second book (guess the ending was too out-there for him), but I sense he might like this book a little more for its Lee Child-like nature. And I know he laughed when I quoted the "NO GUNS PLEASE - GRAVEYARD IS FULL" sign to him, so that's a good indication there.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've heard tell of the podcast on which this novel is based, often in the same sentence as such cult-classic weird TV shows as Twin Peaks and Gravity Falls. So I knew what to expect when I cracked open this book after finally finding a spare copy at the library. As far as Weird Small Town Paranormal Dramedies go, Gravity Falls is still my favorite, but this book helps make Night Vale a close second on the list of Weirdest Fictional Places In America. I throw around the term "Fforde-like" and variations thereof quite often, and this is just another book that deserves such comparison.

Oh, and it helps that the book comes recommended by the likes of Wil Wheaton and Ransom Riggs, so if you don't trust my opinion (and you probably don't, given that I believe in mountains and consume wheat and wheat by-products on a daily basis), at least trust theirs.

Now...someday, I'll start listening to the podcast - which, for whatever reason, I've never done. Hell, maybe I'll start tonight, if I have the time and energy.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Review: Cross Justice

Cross Justice Cross Justice by James Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another excellent, un-put-down-able, high-stakes Alex Cross story for the list. While not as harrowing as the Cross My Heart-Hope To Die duology, this story is still just as personal for Cross, because of the involvement of his family and his old hometown in North Carolina. And let's not forget the unexpected revelations regarding his family's history. They're deeply woven into the book, even within the seemingly unrelated side plot involving a twisted killer down in Florida who may well be the unholy love child of Buffalo Bill and American Horror Story's Liz Taylor. I mean, it got to the point where I kept expecting Coco to say something like, "Bitches want pâté, pâté they shall have!" But believe it or not, it's not just a silly subplot that exists for shock value. The shock value is there, yes, but the subplot is the subtle set-up for the most incredible reveal of the book's final pages.

Any and all Alex Cross fans should look forward to this book, and for those new to the series, it's a pretty good starting point. Unless you're the sort of person who, like me, wants to begin at the beginning every time, if at all possible.

Oh, and one more thing - in my own Dark Ice Chronicles project, protagonist Jason Cross reads this series, among many other Patterson books. With the revelation of Alex Cross' father's name (I don't believe that was done before, was it?), that detail of mine is a tad bit funny in hindsight.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: Soundless

Soundless Soundless by Richelle Mead
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the Vampire Academy 'verse. I was okay with Gameboard of the Gods. I could not, however, get into this book at all. Right away, it's very slow and boring and not at all engaging. It takes a long time for the expected twist - Fei miraculously becoming the only one in her village who can hear - to come, and when it does, it's easy to miss. You would think that that's the sort of thing that would provoke a cliffhanger ending to the chapter to make it easier to notice. In the hands of an author like Pittacus Lore, or Sarah Benson, or...heck, myself, if my readers' reactions are anything to go by, you'd know when the twist comes.

So I decided to DNF this, and after examining other reviews for this book, I think I might have made the right decision. For Chinese-folklore-inspired stories, I'll just stick to Into The Badlands, thanks.

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Review: The Brothers Cabal

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

And now for something a little different to treat us happy members of the Cabal Cabal - a story largely narrated not by the great necromancer Johannes, but by his slimy, disgustingly vampiric brother, Horst. Most of the time, we get to hear Horst's tale, with Johannes (on his sickbed) interjecting with interludes and footnotes along the way. We're getting a little more Fforde-like with this book, which expertly blends elements and plot points from all three of its predecessors in surprising ways as it merrily leads the reader on another gleeful danse macabre.

Despite the exceedingly rude messages left at the end of this book - particularly around its Nice Epilogue and Nasty Epilogue - I'm game for another Cabal misadventure, whenever that'll come along.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review: The Wishsong of Shannara

The Wishsong of Shannara The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mr. Brooks' challenge: write a worthy follow-up to The Elfstones of Shannara.

Challenge: met.

The next generation of Ohmsfords produces their best fighter yet - the tough-as-nails Brin, who follows in her father's footsteps and goes on another epic quest to save the world. This time, though, the forces of evil will come this close (picture my thumb and forefinger a millimeter apart) to corrupting her beyond repair, should they have her way.

It's the end of the original Shannara trilogy, but not the end of this world, not by a long shot. I've still got a long ways to go on this series. But I really hope that if MTV's Shannara Chronicles comes back for a second season, that they'll base it on this book. It'll be a very nice and welcome change after the first season, the Elfstones adaptation, inevitably reaches its end.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Review: A Red-Rose Chain

A Red-Rose Chain A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More Toby Daye tales are always just what the doctor ordered. Her wickedly dry sense of humor is the biggest plus of all, as always. She and Tybalt have excellent chemistry together, chemistry that just begs to be depicted on screen (I'd love to see Emma Stone for Toby and Sebastian Stan for Tybalt.) The side characters are as colorful and fun as ever (just look at the way the Luidaeg can't help but be rude on the phone all the time, or Quentin sleeping in the car and saying "I hate you" every time Toby tries to wake him up.)

Sure, I've seen that there are some complaining about the "sameness" of every new book in this series, but this is a formula that, for me, works very well. Who knows, though? Maybe the formula will change soon. *imagines Seanan McGuire steepling her fingers like Sherlock and contemplating giving her characters unspeakable fates*

Now...when can we get a crossover between Toby and the cast of InCryptid? I seriously would love to see her reaction to those unlawfully adorable Aeslin mice (although I bet she thinks the rose goblins are cuter.)

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Review: Trollhunters

Trollhunters Trollhunters by Daniel Kraus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Given my disappointment with Rotters, I was a little leery upon seeing the name of Daniel Kraus attached to this book. But with the other name attached - that of Guillermo Del Toro - I knew that this book would be much more enjoyable.

Trollhunters was far better than Rotters, that's for sure. It reminded me a lot of the Goosebumps movie, with a bit of Goonies and Super 8 mixed in. It felt simultaneously retro and modern, and filled with all the scary monsters and super creeps you could hope for. Like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, this book also does a great job of straddling the line between MG and YA. It's a little on the PG-13 side of things, with its occasional Getting Crap Past The Radar, but the middle-grade-style cover helps indicate how all-ages this fast-paced horror adventure really is.

Oh, and this is probably the first book to really turn braces into a torture device, and make it seem realistic even when it's so clearly exaggerated.

Kraus and Del Toro really should collaborate more often. This book could very well be the first of many.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Review: Untold

Untold Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series is a little more lush and romantic than The Demon's Lexicon and its sequels, but that's not bad. The romance never gets too excessive (other than the occasional overuse of the words "solid" and "lean," but then I've been finding myself guilty of doing that same thing in my own writing from time to time), and the characters always stay interesting. And the action, while few and far between, really packs a punch when it happens.

Soon enough, I'll pick up the third book to complete this trilogy.

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