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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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:

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.....

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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!

View all my reviews