"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Countdown by Mira Grant

Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella 
by Mira Grant

This was an ok novella... A bit of a let down after reading the Newsflesh Trilogy.

What worked:
  • I liked seeing the doctors who created the virus and the jerk who set it free as far as understanding how it all began. 
  • And despite the peeks at the Mason family before Shaun and Georgia became a part of it, the POV of Marigold was most effective at explaining how innocent lives were being affected. 
  • I liked at the end of each "chapter" they showed the news reports. 

What didn't work:
  • The writing was frantic and vague; I know it was supposed to be a short story, but if a prequel is going to be invented it should add to the story somehow--it needed a little development. 
  • I wish the cause and effect had been built upon a little more; the Mason's are lovely before the infection and despite the devastating loss of their son I don't really see how they transformed into rating-hungry villains.

Rating: 2/5
Originally posted:
 May 16, 12

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Quotable Thursday

This week for Quotable Thursday, I'm reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern...I admit after taking holiday craziness into consideration, I decided to pick a book I already knew I'd enjoy, having already read it (but not yet reviewed).There's no shame in reliving the magic and there is certainly plenty in this book!
Then, so swiftly she appears not even to move, she picks up her jacket from the stage and flings it out over the seats where, instead of tumbling down, it swoops back up, folding into itself. In the blink of an eye folds of silk are glossy black feathers, large beating wings, and it is impossible to pinpoint the moment when it's fully raven and no longer cloth. The raven swoops over the red velvet seats and up into the balcony where it flies in curious circles.
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blackout by Mira Grant

Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy #3) 
by Mira Grant

I was surprised by Blackout. It does not have the high suspense of Feed, or the dark action of Deadline, but it's no less frightening. The CDC is out to prove that zombies haven't taken over the world, mad scientists have; and you're being given a truly inside look at the mad science by the pov of a clone. As you see the story inside the CDC progress, you begin to understand the gravity of the "cold equations"; the corruption, the power, the danger, involved in the science. She may have been created in a test tube, but she's still human... And they talk about her like a used car.

You also get Sean's pov; he's still crazy, but the voices in his head are learning to go from helpful to venomous whenever he doubts himself. There is a severe lack of emotion in this book - not altogether unexpected from the CDC - but the team is coping with the possibility nobody's getting out alive, and if they do survive they have to hide, by shutting down on anything other than what it will take to keep them breathing for one more day. The emotionless outlook, helps remind the readers (as if they could forget) that in a world full of zombies nobody is guaranteed a happy ending.

Your main characters range from the clinically insane to the genetically altered. The doctors you trusted to save the world want to destroy it. The people in a position powerful enough to do something about the madness may have been compromised. The reporters you trusted to tell the truth to the world have been silenced. Yes, the science slows the book. No, it detracts nothing from the plot. If anything, it goes to show you there are worse things in this futuristic world than zombies...and that's really something.

The trilogy keeps repeating the question "When will you rise?" Blackout makes it necessary to ask "Who will you trust when you do?"

Rating: 5/5
Review originally post date:
May 30, 12

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For (could be bookish or not). Here is what I'm most thankful for this year!

1. Horses. They're my therapists; they keep grounded and sane.
2. Books. My escape from a world that tries to drive me crazy.
3.The Roof Over My Head. Seriously,when you're a broke computer-nerd/book-worm you can appreciate the fact that you have somewhere to live.
4. My Guinea Pig. He's old and ailing, but he still whistle's "Good morning," to me when I get out of bed. He's my little buddy.
5. The Internet. Some of my best friend can be contacted through it!
6. Chocolate. Mmmm....

The works of:
7. JK Rowling and Brian Jacques,
8. Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker,
9. Gregory Maguire, Christopher Paolini, and Stephenie Meyer.

10. Writers. To the ones I didn't name and to the ones I did: Thank you for being brave enough to share your imaginations with the rest of the world.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Pi Patel, unfortunately named after a pool, is a peculiarly devout boy growing up in India. His family consider themselves to be "Modern Indians" preferring to put their faith in Business than in God; his practises are unorthodox to his preachers and perplexing to his family.  The shifting of politics in India, force Pi's father to make the decision to sell off the zoo he owned and operated, and emigrate to Canada, beginning Pi's miraculous journey across the Pacific. After the cargo ship, transporting Pi's family and animals goes down, Pis is left stranded on a lifeboat with his belief in a higher power and a dangerous Bengal tiger...

I don't consider myself agnostic or atheist, but I'm not traditionally religious... My parents aren't religious, they didn't take me to church or instruct me on what we believed; I was left to make my own conclusions about the world as I saw fit. I grew up believing in the power of books above all else; books that were meant to teach and books that were meant to entertain, not that either were always mutually exclusive. I worshiped in libraries and bookstores, in school cafeterias and in my own backyard; as someone who's got her own ideas about God, I loved the message this book sent out. "I just want to love God," Pi responds, when confronted by a priest, a pandit, and an imam, who tell him there is no such thing as a practising Hindu-Christian-Muslim, and he must choose only one. How can you not love Pi just a little for defying religious conventions that have sparked so many wars?

Over and over Pi's faith is tested by another recurring theme: The primal need to survive. Pi's been a vegetarian his whole life and now, lost at sea with an animal that is willing to kill to survive and a limited stash of food and water, Pi's going to have to make some tough decisions. In order to keep the tiger from viewing Pi as a potential meal, he has to establish himself as an Alpha and a Provider. That means being more aggressive than the 450-lb cat that threatens his life and ultimately, learning to kill.

I love the metaphors Algae Island offers; Algae Island is a floating island of algae that grows trees to harvest sunlight, has plentiful fresh water pools that poison saltwater fish, and is overpopulated by mindless meerkats... Here on the island, Pi and Richard Parker find everything they need, it's a literal paradise. There's edible greens for Pi and meat for Richard Parker. There's plenty of freshwater and protection from the harsh elements. I can't help seeing a metaphorical Eden at this point in the story. The meerkats -- Pi notes they originate from Africa, while I note Africa as the known birthplace of humanity -- are content living in their mysterious floating garden. Its only when Pi's curiosity becomes too much to bear and he plucks a strange fruit from a strange tree, that he realizes he can't stay on the island forever. He and Richard Parker must leave and never return.

And of course, now we hit the one flaw in the book. The abrupt transition between being lost at sea and making landfall in Mexico. They're at sea--and then they're not. I suppose there is some kind of mirror there, something to be said about the abrupt goodbye to the ocean and the abrupt disappearance of Richard Parker... Pi will eventually be questioned about the loss of the cargo ship and his journey. The officials think his story is a tragic lie, invented to cover up trauma from the actual tragedy. In response Pi tells them another story, more brutal than the first and asks them to sort out for themselves which one they prefer, which one is truth. I won't lie here; the very last paragraph of the book made me cry a little.

Rating 5/5

Ps. It should be noted that the Author's Note is part of the storyline...Just in case you want to read Life of Pi and considered skipping the AN.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Quotable Thursday

Still reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel, but I'm almost done with it! I'm loving the story, although I admit maybe I didn't need quite so much detail on what happens when hyena eats a zebra...
Oncoming death is terrible enough, but worse still is oncoming death with time to spare, time in which all the happiness that was yours and all the happiness that might have been yours becomes clear to you. You see with utter lucidity all that you are losing.
Pi's not having a great time of it right now, but there is no reason you shouldn't! Happy Thursday!

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Deadline by Mira Grant

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy #2) by Mira Grant

Shaun and his friends are in hiding; forced to lay low after the conspiracy they uncovered out on the campaign trail. An employee from the CDC shows up at their door, just after being declared dead. She's got information they need, as a new threat looms on the horizon-- Kellis-Amberlee has a new and dangerous vector as the conspiracy just keeps growing.

This book was even better than the first! The first book was a bit more technical with a closer look at the bloggers of the future, the suspense dribbled out a little slower amidst confusion as the characters began to assemble the pieces of a conspiracy. Which seemed so awesome while I was reading, I didn't bother to imagine the the next level of the story would be so drastically different.

The second book there is no shortage of action: zombies, running, screaming, paranoia... The conspiracy is here, and there is no where to hide. Biology and virology now overshadow our bloggers technical know how, because the virus and the people who have it, are evolving. 

Book 2 is filled with dark tension because its clear something bad is coming and now you know the author has no worries about killing off somebody important. Through each reconnaissance trip, each assassination attempt, each psychotic episode, each moment of calm as our main characters chance a rest in the eye of the storm...You have to wonder who is going up on the Wall next? And each blog post gets more and more ominous as the characters themselves begin to wonder the same.

And the ending is unbelievable. Literally. I didn't believe it so I read it twice.

Rating 5/5
Original review posted:
Jul 23, 12

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Book I'd Recommend to...

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's subject for Tuesday Top Ten: Books I'd Recommend To X Person...(Lister's choice, who to recommend to).

In this case, these are the books I'd recommend to The Reader Who Wants to Get Lost in a Fictional World. These recs are for the reader who just wants to escape and go on an adventure. These are some of my favorite retreats (some of these are series).

1.Harry Potter by JK Rowling. I spent half of my life living in these books; at the end of the day, there are still few things better than hopping on the Hogwarts Express and seeing Harry and the gang.
2.The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant. This is a newer, but completed trilogy; it's a frightening fun world to play in during those long summer waits between seasons of The Walking Dead.

3. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. High fantasy; a poor farm boy, Eragon, is changed forever when he discovers a stolen dragon egg...And the evil King is desperate to claim Eragon and his find.

4. The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire, starting with Wicked: The Life and Times of... While I enjoyed all four books, even I can say the original remains the best. Elphaba was the kind of person I'd want to have as a friend if she existed in real life.

5.  The currently incomplete, but beautifully done, The Victorian Trilogy by Felix J Palma, whose praises I can't stop singing.

6. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This is great if you've ever been enchanted by the darkness inside of Brothers Grimm. A little boy crosses into a world of nightmares and fairytales, where the Crooked Man tries to keep him.

7. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. This is one of my favorite stories, by one of my favorite authors. Characters that are relatable and terrifying at the same time.

8. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman. Outrageously funny...The Apocalypse has arrive and of course, you can never find the anti-Christ when you need him.

9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is one of those books you absolutely love or hate, I happened to love it. The imagery, the magic; maybe it doesn't lend itself to life changing epiphanies, but it certainly makes me want to runaway with  Le Cirque des RĂªves.

10.Call of the Wild by Jack London. I've read this one so many times I could probably recite it. Buck is dognapped and pressed into servitude as a sled dog in the wild north... There is something very enthralling about this  transformation from pet to predator.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quotable Thursday

Today for Quotable Thursday, I'm reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
Just beyond the ticket booth Father had painted on a wall in bright red letters the question: DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL IN THE ZOO? An arrow pointed to a small curtain. There were so many eager, curious hands that pulled at the curtain that we had to replace it regularly. Behind it was a mirror.
 This book is a rarity for me; its not often I see the movie then read the book, usually its the other way around. But the movie was awesome, which meant the book must be better! And so far, I have not been disappointed.

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Feed by Mira Grant

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy #1) by Mira Grant

Scientists cured cancer...Then they cured the common cold. But when the two cures mixed, they created a virus that caused the dead to rise. During the rising, bloggers suddenly became invaluable, these online journalists able to get information out to the public faster than newspapers and the speed saved lives... 20 years later, Shaun, Georgia, and Georgette are talented bloggers invited to cover a presidential candidate's campaign trail and wind up uncovering a dangerous conspiracy that changed the world.

This was fantastic. I'm not a huge dystopia fan but as far as futuristic-world-gone-to-hell stories this was pretty incredible. The book starts fairly humorous to ease the reader into the horror in which the character are actually accustomed to living. Which is a nice place to start a zombie book-- when the running and screaming is over and people are back living their lives as best they can. Then with each new action scene, the dark setting increases its grip on the atmosphere and the humor lessens. The plot twists are well timed and despite the length of the novel, the suspense pulls you headfirst through each catastrophe. 

I loved that the "nerds" of our era turn into the heroes of the future; a team of bloggers following the presidential campaign, unafraid to find, publish, and die for the truth. The story is part science-fiction, part horror, and part political thriller and I can't wait to start the next installment.

Rating 5/5
Review originally posted:
Apr 29, 12

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Covers To Redesign

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and BookishToday's theme is: Top Ten Covers I Wish I Could Redesign.

Honestly, I never gave much thought to this subject before now and we've all heard the old adage, "Never judge a book by its cover," but a well designed book cover can make a world of difference. I've certainly picked up books for no other reason than the the cover caught my eye... and put off reading others because they didn't look as sharp.

 On my To-Read List.

 On my To-Read List.

 Read this, it was an okay book.
 Read this, wasn't perfect but it was entertaining.

 This is on my To-Read, and I know I'm going to enjoy it when I finally dig in, but I just dislike looking at the cover!

So I only picked 5 this week... To distract from my short list, I present you with:
A capuchin on a swing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Evan Burl and the Falling by Justin Blaney

Evan Burl and the Falling (Evan Burl #1)
 by Justin Blaney

Evan Burl is abandoned to Daemanhur castle, under the supervision of his Uncle Mazol. He steals a letter, from the man he believes to be his father, that insists Evan is going to be very powerful and very evil someday, and will eventually suffer a Falling. Determined to prove the letter wrong, Evan dedicates himself to the protection of the Roslings: 12 little girls who are sent to Daemanhur -- who aren't allowed to eat, who can't get sick, who can't die -- and are forced into slavery. When the Roslings start to fall ill, Evan is forced to confront his destiny.

This is one of those books that has the ability to make a reader nervous about literary quality. The copyright page and note from the author acknowledge self-publication--and while self-published authors may have some intriguing ideas they often feel the need to take "creative writing" to a grammatically incorrect extreme. Right away my doubt is fed by the fact that the formatting is a little off. Chapter headings appear before chapters actually appear. My version of this book is also an announced ARC, apparently Evan Burl #1 & #2 are combined and revised in this version; offered up for an unbiased review. As I never read the first editions, I can't tell where Book 1 ends and Book 2 begins (thats a good thing!).

The Prologue aka Chapter 3, starts off with dramatic imagery involved in a literal fall through space; doing exactly what a good prologue should: making the reader wonder how our character got there in the first place. Sadly, the first few chapters following are a bit hard to get through--JB deciding to throw us right into a plotline with very little explanation for why things are happening or what certain things are... Brilliance is overshadowed by confusion.

But the story definitely got better the more I read; the author seems to have hit a rhythm and once I saw words used in context more than once, it was easier to glean the meaning behind them. Before I knew what was happening, all doubts were gone and I couldn't put the story down because suddenly I had all these questions: Who is Evan Burl? Who can he trust? And what exactly are the Roslings?

And instead of trying to answer these questions, Justin Blaney continues to expand his magical world into a "Dark Side of the Rainbow"-like experience. As the magic inside the characters grow, we're shown the price of Sapience: sanity. Imagination is the key to Sapience and the more it is used, the harder it is to separate fiction from reality. If you thought Evan's life was hard in the early chapters...

Over all, I adored this book. There were a few dropped commas, and a couple of misused pronouns as if Blaney forgot who the subject of his sentence was, but nothing overwhelmingly distracting. And since his author's notes say this is the unrevised version, I've got no problem giving him 4 stars while urging him to hurry the hell up with the sequel!

Rating 4/5

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) 
by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling

Cormoran Strike -- illegitimate son of a rockstar, amputee, and ex-military investigator --is a down on his luck private investigator. He's got no home, no money, and he's just lost his girlfriend. Robin Ellacott --newly engaged, working for a Temp Agency, enthusiastic and discreet-- is Strike's new secretary, to her fiance's horror. The police say supermodel Lula Landry, jumped to her death one winter night, but her brother, John Bristow, doesn't believe it. He hires Cormoran Strike to prove that his sister wasn't suicidal and to find out who was with her the night she died.

This book starts humorously, with a few moments that made me laugh out loud, but the comedy fizzles out as the plotline slowly turns on. As far as mysteries go, this isn't overly suspenseful. This isn't a nail biting, stay-awake-reading-all-night type of mystery. This is a procedural, a step-by-step, who done-it; and all though it doesn't pull you forward, it is written in such a way that you keep turning the page to find out more.

I love that Cormoran Strike is so multi-layered, the author made the decision to know exactly who he is and where he's coming from. And the fact that he is having personal problems adds to the story instead of detracts from it because it shows being a detective isn't all he is; sometimes PI stories decide to define the character by their profession.

Robin's the harder character to like; in the beginning, she doesn't appear to be all that well thought out: at first it seems like she's just thrown in for no other reason than Strike needed a Girl Friday. As the story progresses she starts to develop; she's more than just a trustworthy sidekick, she's quick and clever, working the case and the people in it as if it were her investigation not his. I was impressed and thrilled as she worked the saleswomen at the boutique (about the halfway point) and suddenly she was a full blown character and not just a plot device.

I love how all the "suspects" were all so suspicious; it wasn't just a matter of one or two possibilities; the late Lula Landry appeared to be surrounded by people who all had as many reasons to keep her around, as they had to bump her off. Everytime they introduced a new suspect, I pointed my finger and thought, "That's the one because..." And when the end came, I was pleasantly surprised by who actually was responsible.

So if you're a mystery fan, looking for a PI procedural or a JK Rowling fan for that matter: Read it!

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Quotable Thursday

Today for Quotable Thursday, I'm reading: Evan Burl and the Falling by Justin Blaney.
First, the rolling mountains and hills lumbered toward me like hulking bullies, begging for a fight. Then houses and barns popped out of the ground, like grasping hands from a fresh grave, pulling me down into the earth where I belong.
I've only just started this, seems like fantasy with a touch of steampunk. Too soon to tell...well, anything,--Its off to a confusing start.

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Also, a quick note: 
I will be out of town tomorrow, but I've scheduled a review for The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith to post without me. I'll check the comments when I return (supposing there are any). If there aren't I'll talk to you next week!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Smart Mouth Waitress by Dalya Moon

Smart Mouth Waitress (Life in Saltwater City #2) by Dalya Moon

Peridot is an 18 year old smart mouthed waitress. Her mom took off to LA to record an album leaving Perry in charge of her moody dad and her stoner brother. Despite being in charge of her household, Perry's given herself a mission: find a boyfriend.

This is great light reading, the story flows with wit that borders somewhere between sarcastic and socially awkward... Grammatically, the comma placement needs a little work, but the sentence structure was hardly the most distracting thing.

The characters: eh. They had their high points and low points. 

Perry, the main character, comes off as a strong leading lady in some scenes, an image helped by her smart mouth... But her desire to change who she is, simply to impress men and get laid is a bit ridiculous. I know she's 18, but c'mon; she's taking care of her family, working, driving-- one would think she's responsible enough to know better. If her whole personality is about shock-awe, why would she try to be someone else? But every time I started to think this character wasn't worth reading about, she'd surprise me with a peek into her home life or her relationship with friends...

I did enjoy this book enough to consider reading another installment in the series, but I admit to being fearful that I've seen all Dayla Moon has to offer. 

Rating: 3/5
Original post date:
 Nov 18, 12

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish.

This week's theme is Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get My Hands On. My choices are a mixture of books that haven't been published yet, books that might be published, and books I can't currently afford without tossing my budget out the window.

1. Firstly, I'm waiting for the third, but currently unnamed book, in Felix J Palma's series of historical fiction. I know technically he never named an upcoming novel, but he did name his series "Trilogia Victoriana" and my Spanish is just good enough that I know the word "Trilogy" when I see it.

2.Another trilogy ender, that I have to wait for, Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. I'm told the final installment will be "The Doors of Stone." I want to know how Kvothe wound up an innkeeper and why Bast wants him out of retirement.

3.  Inferno by Dan Brown. Its out there, but right now I can't afford it. But I absolutely adore the Robert Langdon stories.

4. The Host sequel, by Stephenie Meyer. I read The Twilight Saga, enjoyed the idea of a modern day fairytale with vampires. Read The Host and was blown away by the visuals of a successful alien take over, and the desert home of the human survivors. And ever since The Host's release she's been teasing us with the idea of a sequel. The Soul, The Seeker...And just when she's made you think she scrapped the ideas, she hints that she's working on it. Is she or isn't she?

5. Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

6. From A Whisper to a Scream and 7. I'll Be Watching You, by Samuel Key aka Charles de Lint. Charles de Lint isn't a new author, but for me he's newly discovered. I bought a book by him a couple of years ago and everytime I'm in a bookstore I pick up a new one. I recently discovered that he wrote two installments of his Newford series, under the pseudonym Samuel Key, because they were horrors. I'm curious to see the difference between his magical realism and his horror...

8. The Twelve by Justin Cronin....I actually made the decision to wait on this one, so technically its a sequel I can wait to get...I do want to read, I just have to be in the mood for something post-apocalyptic.

9. A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons, sequel to Summer of Night.

10. Enoch Primordial by Brian Godawa, because the first novel was so surprising.