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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