Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: The Stupidest Angel

The Stupidest Angel
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

This really had some potential, and some of the stuff was downright hilarious. But it did seem to run a bit long at times. Still, Christopher Moore is a funny dude and I'll read more of his stuff.

Plus, the audio was dead-on. The narrator, Tony Roberts, had a great voice for narration and nailed the characters. His delivery of Moore's punchlines was spot on too.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: The Free

The Free
The Free by Brian Ruckley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an eARC review copy from NetGalley.

Looking for a stand-alone epic fantasy? Want some grimdark gritty kick-ass action and some badass magic-fuqery? Look no further. If Joe Abercrombie and Steven Erikson had a secret love child, this would be it. A gruff company of legendary warriors thrown in together with some cool battle scenes, occasional humor, and a wicked magic system with such dire consequences. Magic users that throw this fuqery and its results, along with the cost of these energies, both to the receivers and casters of said magic.

Why 4-stars rather than 5, if it has all the great things I like about fantasy? Well, the pacing was a bit slow at times, and the ending had some parts that seemed rather abrupt. Though the majority of the ending was good for me.

This book is satisfactory as a self-contained story, but it might just leave you wanting more anyway. There's a lot of great world-building going on that is out there for just this one book. I'll definitely read more books if you write them in this world, Brian Ruckley!

For that matter, I need to go back and check out his earlier work. He was on the radar for fantasy to try, but now he's definitely on my list of authors to read.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry

A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry
A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry by Charles Dickens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant! Here we have the wonderful prose of Charles Dickens, read by one of the best voices out there, Tim Curry. I love Dickens for language and humor, and Curry captured that perfectly here. He really brought Scrooge to life. A great story to begin with really comes home for Christmas with this audiobook.

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Review: Sharp Objects

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eh..I didn't like this as well as Dark Objects or Gone Girl. Still pretty good, though. Flynn is certainly good at characterizing messed up people, and making the unlikeable ones compelling. Twists and turns and dark secrets. Good stuff overall, and pretty good first novel all in all.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: Dark Places

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Another mindfuq from Gillian Flynn. I see a theme in the making.

I think I still liked Gone Girl a little better, but not by much. This had some really interesting developments too. I probably liked the character set a bit better in this one, though to say I like any actual Flynn characters might be a stretch. Some I thought I liked, but eventually decided they were fucked up.

Some characters I loathed though, which didn't really happen as much in Gone Girl. I really hated Runner and Deondra with the heat of a thousand hells. I haven't loathed characters like this in some time.

And when I say I hated the characters, I mean that I hated the actual characters. I love how they were written. I'm supposed to hate those two, and Flynn did a really good job making me loathe them.

So yes, after two of her books that what I think Flynn specializes in: well written good characters that make good story but that I wouldn't like at all in real life.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Willful Child

Willful ChildWillful Child by Steven Erikson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars, rounding up.

I'm rounding up because I thought this was a successful break for Erikson from his Malazan series, and it was well written, for the most part.

But it got on my nerves. Part of that is my limited patience with comedy/parody. I like funny, but after the joke has been told I like to laugh and move on. When you stay on the joke for too long, it loses its funny.

As a Star Trek parody, this was pretty funny. If it had been the length of a novella, I would probably have liked it a lot more. As it was, it dragged on too long to keep me amused.

Though I did laugh at the battle near the end, (view spoiler) Some of the dialogue was pretty good. All in all, Erikson did a good job with his story. Not everyone can pull off the humor as long as Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams can.

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Review: A Betrayal in Winter

A Betrayal in Winter (Long Price Quartet, #2)A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.

And I rounded down? Well, it was closer to 4 than 5, but still more than a run of the mill 4. So there we are.

Despite a similar rating, I found this book to be much more enjoyable than the first in the series. Where Abraham was getting his footing in A Shadow in Summer, his voice was firmly established and comfortable here. His unique portrayal of body language had characters using poses to substitute for excessive words (like I wish I could have done with that sentence). In the first book, this was intriguing but I remember it become a bit overdone, tiresome by the end. Here, the poses were executed perfectly and had the exact effect needed.

Abraham had some great intrigue going on with this novel, and though it reached a satisfying conclusion, he set the stage for further books. Which I'm pleased to say are available now for me to continue with.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a bit of a mindfuq.

I was actually pretty impressed. Flynn has a nice style of suspense and drama. She takes a basket of characters I would hate in real life, and makes their story compelling. I wouldn't say she makes them likable, but the reader (or listener) can't help but cheer them on.

Twists and turns aplenty, and though some of it is a bit far fetched, the writing makes up for it. I'll definitely be interested in reading other Flynn books.

Audio readers were excellent. Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne each took one of the main characters and read their chapters. Both of them hit the voices perfectly.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: Legion - Skin Deep

Skin Deep (Legion, #2)Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nice sequel to Legion, Sanderson has developed an urban fantasy here that I could really get into. With all his other projects, I expect this series to remain something of a side job, but if fully developed it could really be near the top of the sub-genre.

This one is a bit longer than the first, being more of a short novel than a novella. On audio, it came out about double the length. That's good, as it gives us more room to develop the main character. Since there are so many of him.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: Legion

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure what I expected here, but this certainly wasn't it. However, it kicked ass! I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel, which just came out this week.

I love the concept of this urban fantasy setup by Sanderson. He's showing me that he can branch out from the epic fantasy rather nicely. I could see a long series here.

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Review: You Have to Fucking Eat

You Have to Fucking Eat
You Have to Fucking Eat by Adam Mansbach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Awesome. Mansbach knows kids, yes he does. This kind of thing brings back memories....

And Cranston as a narrator, excellent. Almost as funny as Samuel L. Jackson was in the first book.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: Star Wars: Tarkin

Star Wars: TarkinStar Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first foray into the post-EU era reboot of the Star Wars novel series. Since this is "official" canon now, it's even more interesting to get a look into the backstory of Grand Moff Tarkin.

Overall, the story is pretty basic. Nothing special, other than that it's Star Wars. There's not a lot of adventure, though there are some battle scenes. The big draw here is the character development of Tarkin himself, the Big Bad of the very first movie. This was Star Wars when it was simply Star Wars. There was no New Hope, no Jar-Jar Binks, and no Ewoks. There was one movie, and Disney did not own it. It was so cool to see Peter Cushing as this villain, as anyone watching movies in that era knew him from horror movies.

My favorite part of this book was seeing the relationship between Tarkin and the other Big Bad Villains, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. We get to see the dynamic between them, most notably that between Tarkin and Vader. For years I wasn't sure the pecking order of the Emperors top two minion/henchmen, but this book sets that straight.

We also get to see some of Tarkin's role in the Clone Wars, and in the early days of the Empire. We got to see how he interacted with Count Dooku and the Separatists. Though I always thought that was the main weakness of the prequel series (besides Jar-Jar), it was interesting to see how he and Dooku related. As a side note, I would have loved to see that part filmed, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee talking over ideologies.

On the audio, I was impressed with the reader, Euon Morton. His narration was pleasant, and his character voices were spot on for the most part. I also liked the addition of the Star Wars music and the occasional sound effects. My favorite was Darth Vader breathing in the background as he listened to Tarkin tell a story of his youth. It made for great atmosphere without being too much.

So this was a good book to read/listen too. Not the best of the Star Wars novels, but it's a great character insight. Best of all, no Jar-Jar.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. It might be surprising that I rate this book so high after it took me 3 1/2 months to get through it. Well, I wasn't intending to speed through it. This was a slow cook meal of a book that I read in small pieces over this time. It was always something comfortable to go back to if I read something I didn't care for, as well as a steadying read if I read something I really liked.

So it served its purpose. I can see why it won the Pulitzer. Though I haven't had a huge amount of luck getting into the award winners, this one carried me along nicely. It reminded me a bit of Empire Falls by Richard Russo in that manner. The story was quite different, but it had that long simmering feel of a story along with great character development. With books like these, the plot almost doesn't matter; it just needs to get us into the heads of the characters.

Donna Tartt is certainly on my radar now.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: The Magician's Land

The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3)The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book through the First Reads program on Goodreads.

3.5 stars, and this is more an average of my feelings than anything. I was all over the map here. It took me a loooonnnnng time to get through this book. At times I was so bored I chose to watch paint dry rather than read. And at other times I was really impressed with the story and characters.

The ending was more of the same. Not bored with it, but there were things that made me go "eh, wtf?" and there was satisfaction with some of the elements.

All in all, it was a good conclusion to the trilogy. At the same time, I'm glad it is over. It was a good trilogy, but I'm feeling somewhat burned out. I think that has to do with my re-read of the first two books than anything with this one, but there it is. But truth is, if I had to muddle through 10 of these at four times the length each, I'd probably run for the hills.

But I can't help but wonder what Lev Grossman will do next...

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Review: Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: War Cry

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: War Cry
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: War Cry by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free eARC of this book from NetGalley.

Dresden rocks! It is so very cool to get a dose of the Dresden Files during the wait between novels of the main series.

In this one, we go back a few books. This story is set after Dead Beat, so spoilers will appear in this review and in the graphic novel if you haven't read that far.

Here, we return to the time that the White Council were at war with the Red Court and Harry had just been made a Warden. Here, Dresden is joined by Ramirez, Wild Bill Meyers, and Yoshimo to take on a group of Red Court vampies led by a typically sinister baddie. Excitement and lots of fighting ensue.

I really don't know how much a new person to the Dresden universe would get out of this, but to a fan that's read everything available, it's a treat. The artwork is excellent and Butcher's voice is definitely there among the writers. (Audio fans might appreciate that I could hear James Marsters in my head when Harry talked.)

A great chapter to help us get by until Peace Talks.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: Galveston

GalvestonGalveston by Nic Pizzolatto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was good. A noir-mystery type story with heart. Great audio, and good to visit the locations in Texas and Louisiana.

So this is the guy that made True Detective. Now my goal is to catch up on that series.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: The Julian Game

The Julian Game
The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

This isn't normally something I'd pick up, but I needed something light, well-paced, and different from my usual fare. This book satisfied all three needs.

The story isn't the most realistic in execution, but it's entertaining nonetheless. I enjoyed the concept of using the internet to create a secret identity and seeing what that can lead to. I enjoyed Raye as a character and sympathized with her situation.

Enjoyable, quick read that puts Adele Griffin on the radar for future reading.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: Artful

ArtfulArtful by Peter David
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free ebook copy of this book from NetGalley.

As Ka would have it, earlier this year I read Oliver Twist. So I was rather intrigued when I later saw that Peter David was putting out a book about the Artful Dodger. I've read Peter David and he is among my favorite comic book writers as well as one of my favorite authors of Star Trek novels. This man wrote the adaptations of Stephen King's Dark Tower comic series! So he's telling the story of one of the better characters from the Dickens novel? Sign me up.

All in all, this was an enjoyable story. David wrote it in a tone to echo Dickens's narrative voice, while adding his own elements of humor to it. And (view spoiler).

It was well paced, and had lots of historical and literary surprises packed in there. The Dodger himself remained an interesting character. I also like what David did with the other characters, both from the original story and other sources. And even the (view spoiler).

I was rather amused by the Artful's perspective on Oliver Twist himself, among his other views.

So yes, this was a good light read with nice pacing and some humor, along with a few surprising plot Twists.

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Review: Sharpe's Triumph

Sharpe's Triumph
Sharpe's Triumph by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is what I expect from Bernard Cornwell: detailed battles and great characterizations. Once again, he makes history come alive. My mind does drift some during the battles, and that's why audio works very well with this stuff, helping me to "skim", sorta. Plus, the narrator, William Gaminara, nails the characters with his voices.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Review: Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories

Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories
Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories by Richard Matheson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finished it on Halloween - that was nice timing.

Great collection of Matheson scary stories. I enjoyed most of them, as I always seem to like his stuff. A few were stories I'd read before, but it was nice to revisit those too.

Favorites: "Witch War", "The Distributor", "Mad House", and the title story. Most of these would be great as Twilight Zone episodes, and some of them were...

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That wasn't normally something I'd read, but thanks to Audible and the Ford Audiobook Club on Goodreads, I scored a free download and gave it a try.

I'm glad I did too. This was an engaging study of a mixed race Chinese-American family in the 1970s, and their way of dealing with the prejudices of the time. More than that, in their coping with outside sources, it's a study of this family and their relationships with each other. It's a study of the ways they deal with a tragedy, as well as the people they became leading up to the tragedy.

The five members of the Lee family are all sympathetic characters, each in their own way. While I certainly wouldn't agree with many of their choices, it was very touching to see how they became the way they were.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review: The Dragon Factory

The Dragon FactoryThe Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. Honestly, this was a bit of a letdown from Patient Zero. It had plenty of action and suspense, and plot and characters. It just didn't have the bullets-flying kick assery of the first book.

Still, pretty good stuff. Some of the villains were stereotypically dastardly, but others were good. I didn't care for the increase of POV switches away from Joe Ledger that this one took. It was jarring for his story to be first person, and then about half the rest of the chapters were third.

The extra .5 star comes from the ending. I was rather impressed with the way the final shakedown came about. Nice heartstring play there, Mr. Maberry.

ETA: Oh yes, at least a half-star must go to Ray Porter for his reading. Very nice. His character voices were excellent.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: The Company

The Company
The Company by K.J. Parker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So how do I review this? Hmmm. I think I'll begin by warning off those that might want to read this without any expectations going in. I won't post spoilers per se, but I will be addressing the flow of this book, beginning to end.

That said,

What in the actual fuck? There, I feel better for having said that. Truth is, after finishing that I wanted to tear my copy to shreds, stomp on them, and kick the scraps into a firepit with the the heat of a thousand hells blazing through it.

So yeah. What the holy fuck was that???

Let's start at the beginning. The premise looked interesting, a story about five war veterans getting together after the war and settling a new home on a faraway island. Rewards for their years of service, yada yada. Of course there will be a conflict of some sort to stir things up, etc. Good so far.

I love the writing. K.J. Parker has a real talent for storytelling and character development. She (or he?) uses the flashback method interspersed with the current story flow to get us to know how these characters click and how they got to be the way they are. Great.

Then the middle happens. Or, I should say, it's more "middle" than "happens". Long narrative that seems to go nowhere. Then it breaks through and starts to get interesting, mildly.

Then we get near the end.

Shit goes down. I'm really getting interested now.

Then. All hell breaks out.

And I'm left with...????? The fuck???

That ending. I'm sitting there going, for real??

Seriously. If the middle had been a little less boring and the ending had been a little less FUCKED, I might have given this book 4 stars. It was well written, (somewhat) engaging, and had good characters.

Oh, and for the record, I don't dislike fucked up endings. Sometimes I actually prefer them. But it needs to make fucking sense. It needs to be a reasonable end of the path that we walked along the journey.

I did actually like the last paragraph or so, regarding the legend that the Company survived to fight each other continuously but it really didn't fit into the context of the rest of the book.

I'll probably try more K.J. Parker, but she's (or he's) on notice. I won't be as forgiving if I run into another fucked up ending like that.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: The Martian

The Martian
The Martian by Andy Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

That was. Well. Wow.

I really don't have words. Except that it might be my favorite book of 2014.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: Revelation Space

Revelation Space (Revelation Space, #1)Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well. That was different.

How do I review a book I didn't understand? For that matter, how do I rate a book I didn't understand?

Or better yet, how do I like a book I didn't understand? Well, it happened. What happened, I don't know so much. But I enjoyed the ride.

So yeah. The writing is beautiful in this book. It will take you places...err places you won't recognize, but places where you will go "whoah..dude".

Seriously, I don't know what it is, but Reynolds does have a great narrative voice, even if his science is way beyond my comprehension level. Imagination like that and supra genius scientific mind, dude could be dangerous.

A special shout out to John Lee for his narration, once more being essential in getting me through out-there British science fiction.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Re-Read of The Magician King

The Magician King (The Magicians, #2)The Magician King by Lev Grossman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unlike the first book, this didn't hold up as well with a re-read. There were parts that were just as good, notably that last chapter. But there were huge chunks where it dragged more than I remember.

All said though, it's still a good book in a good series. Those chunky parts were likely due to middle book syndrome, as well as the fact that I'd read it before. But all of this was in preparation for the final volume in the trilogy, The Magician's Land.

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Review: California

California: A NovelCalifornia: A Novel by Edan Lepucki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free audiobook download from the Ford Audiobook Club on Good Reads.

Dystopia post-apolyptic novels seem to be the rage lately, and through it all I've been seeing one particular title (this one) standing out from the others. So I was surprised and pleased when I got an email from Good Reads inviting me to join the Ford Audiobook Club and participate in a free Audible download group discussion.

I really liked this. I wasn't sure at first that I would, as it is rather slow moving. But the more I read (listened), the more intrigued I became with the society of this near-future California. I wasn't crazy about the main protagonists of Cal and Frida, but I found the supporting characters to be very intriguing, and as we got to know them, I kept waiting for that other shoe to drop.

All in all a satisfying read, and Edan Lepucki is definitely on the author map for me now.

Review of the book itself aside, I thought I'd take a moment to critque the narration. Emma Galvin was the narrator here, and just wasn't great. Her voice is pleasant enough in general, and I'm sure she'd be fine to converse with. But reading this, she was a distraction. Her tone never seemed to change, either from one character to the next, or from one sentence to the next. It was almost robotic in nature. A good narrator could have taken this book to another level, but this one made me come very close to abandoning the project early on. I'm glad I stuck with it, as the book itself is rather good. I fortunately became accustomed enough to her voice to push through, but it was a near thing. I'd even considered knocking a star off the review for this, but I felt the book itself was strong enough to stand on its own rating.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: The Masquerade by Rebecca Berto

The Masquerade: a prequel short to The RentalThe Masquerade: a prequel short to The Rental by Rebecca Berto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read The Rental and seeing that this short prequel was free on Amazon and Smashwords, I figured I'd go for it.

This story was split into halves. The first is from the POV of Rick, and the second half is seen from Vee's POV. She's the point of view character in The Rental, so this might be a case where the prequel is more appreciated after reading the main novel. Readers that take this on first might be expecting Rick's perspective in the longer work, where prior readers will see it as an interesting twist to get his view firsthand in this story.

I wondered how Berto would handle the age thing in this. In The Rental, Vee is just turning legal. So a prequel would put her at...not. But it's handled very creatively here. Fairly wickedly, I must say. And that's all I'll say on the matter...

So either as an appetizer or a small dessert, this little story will give a taste of things to...happen. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Dangerous Women

Dangerous WomenDangerous Women by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well then. This took me a long ass time to get through (5 months). To be fair, for most of that time I had it on the back burner, slipping a story in here and there between larger projects. I bought the hardcover, but ended up listening to it on audiobook because that fit my schedule better.

So overall, I liked it. It was full of solid, well written stories. I don't think there was a bad one in the bunch. However, while I would say they were "good", many of these were fairly boring. Worth a read through, but not engaging enough to make me love it. After reading similar anthologies with contributions and/or editing from George R.R. Martin, I had high hopes for this, and it just didn't satisfy completely.

Though I will say that the GRRM story included is one of the best things I've read all year. It has a much different tone than his A Song of Ice and Fire novels, or even the shorter Dunk & Egg stories. It's set in the history of these others and has a tone more like The Silmarillion. But it worked very well for me, fitting into the Westeros canon perfectly.

I also loved the stories by Jim Butcher and Joe Abercrombie. Great additions to their respective series as well. Honorable mention to Lawrence Block, Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb), Carrie Vaughn, Lev Grossman, and Joe R. Lansdale. See my status updates that I posted while reading for comments (brief) on each story:

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Re-read of The Magicians (on Audio)

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original review of the paperback, in 2011:

And the funny thing, I'm lifting my rating to 5-stars. It's not even that I enjoyed it more the second time around (though I did enjoy the narrator quite a bit). No, it's more for the way the feeling of satisfaction remains three years later.

This felt different the second time through. I didn't find it quite as humorous, but I didn't find it as bleak either. I found the characters more likeable. That is rather, less un-likeable. It's not that I understand them any better, I think I'm just more accepting that this is simply who they're going to be.

Fewer surprises on a re-read, but it's still a satisfactory experience. It's like watching an old favorite movie. I'm glad that I decided to read it again, before tackling The Magician's Land, which just came out this year.

Next up, The Magician King re-read. Though I won't be doing that one with audio.

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Review: PORN

PORN by Matt Shaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've processed for two days, and only accomplished a middle of the star chart rating.

First off, do Not read this book if you are easily offended by anything in the blurb. They're not kidding. I'm not squeamish at all but this book often had me wanting to scrub out my eyes. But ultimately it is impossible to unsee it. Or even if I could, my brain would remember.

Shaw is a powerful writer. He has a knack for grabbing your attention and holding the reader with tension. He's definitely creative and imaginative. Maybe a bit psychotic lol.

That said, I had to drop my rating for a couple of reasons.

((review continued after tending to grandbaby :))

One, there were several technical issues. Not a lot overall, but enough to distract. Several times I noticed a word used incorrectly in a sentence, and sometimes the tense of the narrative changed from present to past and back again. One time it even did it in mid-sentence. It wasn't often enough that I marked specific examples, but it was distracting enough when reading that I had to re-read the sentence to understand what was meant.

The other thing was the ending. *****SPOILER WARNING****** I felt cheated. Not so much for the way it wrapped up in the epilogue (though that was rather unsatisfying), but the way the last couple of chapters negated the majority of the book. I was like, "huh, wtf??" It was all a dream?? The present storyline at least was nullified by this "reveal". Ugh. *****END OF SPOILER WARNING******

It was a gross-out. It was incredibly freaking disturbing, nearly to the point of being offensive. I'll give it a pass for that though, as I was warned by the book's blurb, cover, and description.

So yeah. It was well-written but damn, what a mindfuck. I actually give Shaw props for that. Keep in mind that I'm a big fan of Quentin Tarantino and Stephen King. And that I never get scared or overly disturbed by their stuff. This, however...yeah.

I probably won't read more stuff in this sub-genre. It's just not for me.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Review: Bird Box

Bird BoxBird Box by Josh Malerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. Just wow.

Well, more than "just".

When I started this, I was immediately confuzzled and didn't see where it was going, what was happening, nor why any of it was happening in the first place. I was concerned that it might not be a book for me.

However, there was a thread of curiosity which piqued, a thread that was created by the tension described in that chapter. I was blind, but I could feel the horror already. Much like the main character, I imagine.

So I kept going, and soon I was well and hooked. Only real life (that annoying thing sometimes) kept me from flying through this book obsessively.

I won't go into the particulars, as it's meant to be learned gradually. And rest assured, all the pieces and threads do come together. It's rather impressive how it all merges from a series of timelines to a single thread.

I considered giving this a full 5-star review, but didn't for two reasons. One, though I didn't dislike the ending, it could have been better considering how good it was to that point. And two, the suspense and not-knowing is a big part of the effect, and I don't think a re-read would be able to capture that. Much like The Blair Witch Project, once you know how it plays out, most of the tension is gone. To me, a 5-star book is one you'd want to revisit a few times.

But that said, this is a great thrill-ride. If you like a quick paced freaky scare, it's a good one to pick up. It'll stay in your mind for a little while too, so be warned. You might not want to read this too close to bedtime. Or any open windows.....

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Heir of Novron

Heir of Novron (The Riyria Revelations, #5-6)Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By Mar, that was f'ing phenomenal! And now it's over...doh!

Perhaps part of my subliminal reason for putting off finishing this series for so long was that I didn't want it to end. Whatever, that's bullshit. I was just being lame. This should have been devoured upon release!

Wintertide was the best book in the series. Yes, out of six 5-star efforts, this is the one I'd put (slightly) above all the others. The twists and turns, and the climax - wow!

Percepliquis was a slight letdown, but only because Wintertide was so intense. This was the epic coming together of all the loose threads of the series, and it delivered. Oh, if that title is tough to pronounce, I believe we could subtitle it The Fellowship of the Horn.

Yes, we get an all star lineup (of sorts) as the cast is picked out to complete the final job of Riyria. And then a dungeon crawl! All sorts of beasties and more revelations (hence the title of the series), and more climaxes than a holiday night in Medford House.

Sad to see it come to a close, but it did so in top form. Kudos, Mr. Sullivan. This is a series that will definitely be revisited.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Spritzerville,…Ohio?

Spritzerville,…Ohio? by Jason R. Koivu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How cool was that?

As a disclaimer, I will state that Jason R. Koivu is a Goodreads friend of mine, and that he sent me a free copy of his book. Perhaps he saw that I was weird enough to appreciate it.

"For mature readers with immature minds."

Bernard Wimple tries so hard to live a simple life. He's a practical man that wants to sell hats. Is that too much to ask for? Well, maybe he'd also like to win the affections of the local schoolteacher. But still, a pretty "normal" life, right?

That might all be well and fine, if he didn't have more grandmothers than customers. And a flatulent pet toadie. And if his neighbors didn't include a Poop Baby, stoner mice, evil clowns, a one-eyed trouser troll, and a dozen demonic desserts.

I often found myself comparing this collection of linked stories to Terry Pratchett's Discworld. (Whoah, sit down, Jason - you're now in the presence of greatness.) This is because of the way downright hilarious and silly things happen throughout the story, yet it keeps a strong sense of being a story. That is, the story is the important thing. The fart jokes and innuendos are a bonus. While it's far too absurd to be a "real life" tale, belief is suspended as the reader is drawn into the action. I mean, of course we were hooked when the clowns were unleashed.

...but that poor poor Pomeranian!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: The Rental

The Rental
The Rental by Rebecca Berto

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In disclosure, I'm noting that I was given a free eARC copy of this book by the author, who is a Goodreads friend of mine.

Also in disclosure, I'll state that I don't normally read romance novels, erotic or otherwise. I say this to put my rating in perspective; by putting it out there that this type of story isn't normally "my thing", I can show why my enthusiasm might not be as high as someone that gets off on this stuff, so to speak.

So why am I here? This is the third book I've read by Berto, each one inching a little further away from my personal comfort zone. But I figure Berto can use an honest review outside of her target audience to see just how well her written word crosses over.

It does that. Yes, I'm giving this a middle of the road rating, but it's still one that says I "like" the book. I found myself very intrigued by the story and where it was going. I cared for the characters, and downright adored Vee, the main protagonist. I often found myself on the edge of my chair, wondering what was going to happen next and how they'd push the envelope.

So what's the problem? Well, not a problem so much. I just didn't enjoy this book start to finish as much as I had the previous works I've read from this author. Precise and Being Kalli felt a lot smoother in narrative. I really think that it's the romance factor that makes it jarring for me. As I said, I'm not a reader of the genre.

But that said, there was plenty of payoff in the Holy Shit! moments. And you know, I just had to turn that page...just one more time.

So yes, it's definitely worth a read if the subject matter doesn't bunch your panties too much. But then, if you're reading my reviews, you're probably not too easily offended.

Or I'll be flagged...

Anyway, thanks again for the ARC, Rebecca. "And you, young Skywalker; we shall watch your career with great interest."

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Rise of Empire

Rise of Empire (The Riyria Revelations, #3-4)Rise of Empire by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here I continued my audiobook re-read of the first three books of the Riyria Revelations, giving Nyphron Rising another go. It's funny when I look back on my original review from 2009. Funny how anxious I was to continue with the series, and at how I'm sitting here close to five years later writing down my reaction to that very book.

What the hell happened? Well, to make a boring story short, I fell behind when books 4 and 5 came out. Then I found out that Orbit had bought the series and would be re-releasing them even as the sixth book was being finished up. So it was easy enough to wait...

Then I started collecting the new editions from Orbit (while still building the original collection). By the time 2011 was coming to a close, I decided a re-read was in order.

I re-read the first two books but ran out of time before the New Year. I was literally finishing up Avempartha when the ball dropped in Times Square. Why does this matter?

I had put a ban on myself for the entire year of 2012. A ban against re-reads. I had found that I read too many books I had already read in 2011, so I needed to force myself to read new books.

The good news: I did it. I successfully made it through 2012 without re-reading a single book.

The bad news: Nyphron Rising went un-re-read. Since it was fuzzy in my old memory, I couldn't continue with The Emerald Storm.

So then after 2012 was over, it felt too soon to read the first two books again. Then I found out the prequels were coming out! I scooped those up and read them both, loving every page.

So then finally this story comes to a close as in the middle trimester of 2014, I decided it was past time to get back on the series and read it, start to finish. I kept hearing great things about Tim Gerard Reynolds on the audiobook and decided that would be a great way to do my re-read.

Success! I have found him to be the perfect reader for this series, and one of my favorite audio readers to date. As a result, I continued with his narration even after catching up on the re-reads and venturing into the unknown with The Emerald Storm. (See what I did there?)

The Emerald Storm, wow. What a start. Early on I found myself shaking my head as the author seemed to have completed a transition from a Terry Brooks influence to that of a grimdark master. I was WTF??? O_O > What's this, George R.R. Michael J. Sullivan?? Did you really just go there??

And so he did. Man, what had I been missing?

I did get a bit concerned that this would end up being my least favorite of the series though, as the parts on the ship seemed to get long. But I need not have feared, as the story quickly came back together.

And yes, as soon as I finished, I queued up my copy of Heir of Novron. Not waiting five years six months this time, oh no!

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Review: Kitty Rocks the House

Kitty Rocks the House
Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. I'd round up, but I've rated all of the other books in the series at 4-stars, and this one wasn't quite as good as those.

I enjoyed it, but there was just something off this time around. It seems like several subplots sprouted up and never found a way to connect. Still, it was enjoyable to read these, just a little jarring with the shift from one to another. Maybe that was the point - showing how Kitty is getting close to the point of being overwhelmed with everything going on in her life. It just made for a story that wasn't always smooth.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: Two Tales of Terror

Two Tales of Terror
Two Tales of Terror by Kelly Hashway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was cool! Two stories in just a few pages, and both were great. "The Monster of All Monsters" deals with things that go bump in the night, from the things' perspective. Then "#Zombies" is an account of a zombie apocalypse told through Twitter. Short and sweet, they both combine humor and terror to pack a quick punch.

Free links for Nook or Kindle editions on the author's homepage. It's definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Theft of Swords

Theft of Swords
Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-reading this so I can continue and finish up the Riyria Revelations series. Listening to the audio this time around.

Excellent reading to an already excellent book. Tim Gerard Reynolds really makes the characters come alive, and his narration is spot on. Even though I've read this book a couple of times already, I found myself eagerly looking forward to picking up the earbuds and listening in on Hadrian and Royce.

Here are my original reviews, from 2009:

The Crown Conspiracy

I won't re-hash them too much, but even after repeat readings, my love for these stories does not diminish. The Crown Conspiracy is full of twists and turns, and Avempartha is more of a slow burn, building up to a surprising climax. Together they form an excellent pairing, much like the main characters.

Theft of Swords is a very good title for the 2in1 omnibus too, considering how well it relates to the stories in each book.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ugh. "The Monotonous Road" isn't just a chapter heading, but could be a blurb for the book.

I give up. Now it's becoming buried in religion. It was boring before it became a religious study.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Review: Hit Man

Hit Man
Hit Man by Lawrence Block

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a cool introduction to a new (to me) series by Lawrence Block. It's about, as the title suggests, a hit man named Keller.

Each chapter is an assignment for Keller, so it's like a series within a single book. This style kept it from ever becoming a bulky read.

Or listen, in this case. I found the audiobook and was pleased to try it out with this method. The actor Robert Forster did the narration and I'd have to say was pretty much perfect for this book. He really fit the style of the writing, and the character of Keller.

I will definitely be picking up more Block, and more in the Keller series in particular.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Minority Report

Minority Report
Minority Report by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic short story from Philip K. Dick. I was actually surprised at how much I liked this, as I'm not normally a huge reader of short stories and I know Tom Cruise was in the movie adaptation. But it was very engaging and quick paced. I'll need to read more of his shorts, if this is any indication of the quality. Who would have expected the short story from Philip K. Dick to be so good? While I did see that climax coming, it was still very satisfying.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Hollow World

Hollow WorldHollow World by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free eARC copy of this book from NetGalley.

...and I also bought a paperback from the author's website, because I enjoy and collect his work.

...and this is a great addition to that collection! First off, I'll say that I did not like it quite as much as Sullivan's Riyria books, but that's more from genre-preference than any issues with this book.

This book is certainly a fine celebration of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, as well as being a seriously good novel in its own right. As the author admits in his introduction, his work is more fiction than science, as he uses fantastical methods of achieving his time travel method and the future world that's encountered there, in Hollow World. But at the same time, there's some real plausibility to it. I mean, suspending a little disbelief and it all falls into place nicely. Whether or not this ever could happen, it's explained well and works for the story.

I wasn't surprised to like this book, but I was surprised at how much of a study of sociology, religion, and the human experience we ended up seeing. This book scores a big A+ for addressing social issues that make the reader think. So not only an enjoyable story, but one that leaves us looking at ourselves as well. It's a future that could come to pass, but it's also a good introspective of our present and past.

Did I mention the world building? Yes, Hollow World has that as well. The society that Sullivan postulated in his future is very realistically detailed. It is a world any of us enjoy visiting, but one that could be scary to envision. Is this future better or worse than what we have? The answer is yes.

Sullivan had several little gems in his writing that made the reading experience more enjoyable:

"Maybe was just a convenient shield to hide behind when reality proved to be a bitch."

"...but two dead bodies in front of a farmhouse had left them helpless. Ellis wasn't a cop, and had never served in the military, but he was from Detroit."

Those are just two examples. I caught myself re-reading passages all through the book as they'd either made me chuckle, or were serious food for thought.

This could have rated a 5-star book with me, except for the pacing. Don't get me wrong, the slowish pace worked very well for this book, and it did build up to a great payoff. It just didn't have me completely engaged all the way through in the way that I see a 5-star book doing to me. All in all that's a minor thing, and not even what I'd consider a fault in the story.

So in summary, well done Mr. Sullivan! I will shelve my signed copy in a safe place for a future re-read.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Chucked at 10%. I should have known better. How many times have I seen all those awards listed in a blurb and been suckered into trying a book?

I'm just not doing it. Maybe it gets better, but no. I'm not getting trapped into losing a couple of months of my life because I'm determined to finish a China MiƩville/Gene Wolfe-type experience. Maybe I'm not smart enough to grasp this genre.

Or more likely, I just don't give a damn.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: Hunt the Wolf

Hunt the Wolf: A SEAL Team Six NovelHunt the Wolf: A SEAL Team Six Novel by Don Mann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free ebook of this novel from NetGalley.

Now this was a nice break from everything. An espionage/action/adventure that was quickly paced and well developed. The writing itself wasn't spectacular, but it was solid. The characters are interesting, though I'd like to see them drawn out a bit more. Perhaps in future books in the series.

It was a bit pro-military-rah-rah, but that's to be expected when one of the co-authors was a SEAL himself. And that's fine; it was appropriate here. I'm ex-military myself, so it's refreshing to see that patriotism and pride in service still exists out there.

I do think this would make for a cool TV series, if done right. I'm certainly interested in reading more of the books.

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Review: Dumbledore's Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final

Dumbledore's Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final
Dumbledore's Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final by J. K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sure, why not? I mean, I'd like to see a sequel as well as the next Potterhead.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review (Sort of): The Word Exchange

The Word ExchangeThe Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

I received a free copy of this book through the First Reads program at Good Reads. I also was given an eARC by NetGalley.

While I appreciate these freebies, I shouldn't have clicked those buttons to put myself in the running for them. I started this book tonight, and was quickly going, ""


Earlier this year I read a book called The Book. It was a dystopian near-future tale about electronic reading devices replacing real books and eventually controlling what we think, etc. I don't want to compare this to that (I'll get to that in a minute), but some of that basic plot is here again. Or so it would seem, if I could understand the plot.

I also don't want to compare them because this is well written. I mean, I can't understand it, with all the big words and gimmicky language, but I can at least see that this author knew what she was doing. She had genuine fun crafting a story of language with language through language. Or something. I don't get it, but I can see that it's done well.

The Book was just rubbish. I won't even mention the author, as I don't feel this is the place to criticize his work. Or rather, his piece of dystopian paranoid claptrap filled with spelling and grammar errors.

This book obviously had some hard work put into it. That's why I feel kinda bad not continuing with it. But since I don't get it, and can see that it's just going to annoy me and take a huge amount of time away from my reading schedule, I'm going to take a pass.

Thanks go out to the publisher for the freebies. I do appreciate them.

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