"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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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kraken by China Mieville

Would it be cheesy to say I thought this mystery was spellbinding? What if I mean it literally?

The book starts off with a heavy science fiction feel. The main character, Billy, is a curator at a museum, where he preserves dead creatures in formalin. Including, Archie aka The Kraken, a giant squid, unharmed by fishermen and death, perfectly preserved. Then the story tries to claim an air of satire, with characters that swear regardless of reason and talk in nonsense. I can see why so many people who reviewed the book negatively called it ridiculous, but they were paying too close attention. The more I accepted the nonsense-circular-dialogue, it became much easier to read in between the lines and understand what the characters weren't saying. Like an optical illusion, the less you look the more you see.

The book quickly squashes the notion of science fiction, inviting strange cults, magicians, Gods, angels, and an assortment of other creature-thing-people-hybrids, into the heart of London, and into a war for or against the Apocalypse. This is a who-done-it where everyone has a motive and gets the chance to point the finger at someone else. If I had to compare the book, (which I usually hate doing, but I'll do it) it would be a hybrid of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

The humor and magic is enchanting; the violence overly gory to remind the reader this is not a fairytale. This is the End... We just don't know whose end. The mystery was well played. The plot twists and character revelations were unexpected and try as I might, I could not guess the end. Nothing spoils a book like predictability.

And the characters were just plain weird. Seriously. Some of the most un-magical, un-extraordinary people you will ever meet. Billy Science Geek. Marge the Artist. Dane -- Well, okay I guess Dane was pretty interesting guy... But seriously? The leader of the familiars, Wati, had this big back story on how rebellious he was in life. And in the end, he served everyone else. I don't know if China Mieville struggled to finish that thought or if I just missed the train.

But all in all, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed where CM took care to be vague and enjoyed the details even more. I loved the constant shout-outs to Star Trek, the idea that the world is full of religions and magic, and that modern technology combined with the right "knacker" means anything is possible.

Oh, yeah, I want that iPod.

Rating: 5/5
Original review posted:
Aug 31, 12

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten I'd Never Wants

 My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme/s were Top Ten Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In OR (since some of you might not read stuff with different worlds) Top Ten Characters I'd NEVER Want To Trade Places With.

  1. I wouldn't want to be Harry Potter.
  2. or Frodo Baggins.
  3. I wouldn't want to live in the world depicted by Mira Grant's The Newsflesh Trilogy,
  4. Or during Justin Cronin's The Passage.
  5. I wouldn't want to be Evan Burl
  6. or Quentin Coldwater.
  7. I wouldn't want to live in Alagaƫsia although I'd love to meet a dragon there.
  8. I wouldn't want to be Pi Patel from Life of Pi
  9. or Duane from Summer of Night.
  10. I wouldn't want to live in the England depicted by SM Peter's Whitechapel Gods.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quotable Thursday

This week I'm reading a sci-fi story, The Biomass Revolution by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. This is a very curious story, a revolution has taken place, citizens are now monitored and restricted by use of Artificial Intelligence, and citizens are told there are no survivors outside the walls of Tisea. In this passage, the main character, Spurious, is wandering through a decrepit neighborhood to visit his childhood home...
"The state of the buildings could not help but remind him of the refugee camp he visited less than a year ago. The camp was called Halo by the State, but was known by the locals as The Inferno. Its purpose was to house all immigrants captured and awaiting deportation. The conditions at Halo were atrocious, and the State purposely built the camp far away from Lunia, hiding the view from the State employees."
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I thought the story was beautifully told; the Gods of the Old World want to go to war with the Gods of the Modern World; Shadow is the errand boy for the Gods of Old.

I love how emotionless Shadow is; it makes him feel like an outsider, an observer, even though he's cast as the protagonist. His impartiality makes it feel like the Gods and Goddesses are more important, more active characters even though I know less about them than I do about him. I loved the balance of past and present, I loved that the fantastic moments slid so easily into reality.

This almost received five stars; it didn't because the ending wasn't as well thought out as the rest of the story. It was too abrupt. First, it surprised me that Shadow went from being an impartial third party to the hero in a matter of few pages. And the murder mystery aspect fell flat; I guessed what was happening to the children of Lakeside and who was behind it before it was actually revealed. So as much depth and mystery as Gaiman gave the war between Gods, he was not as clever handling the mystery of Lakeside and that was mildly disappointing.

Rating: 4/5
Original post date:
Mar 30, 12

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme is: Top Ten Things On My Reading Wish-list (if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.) 

This has got to be one of the strangest lists yet, and I love it, because it allows me to list creatively. So what do I wish authors would write about?

  1. A sci/fi-fantasy story about discovering the lost city of Atlantis.
  2. A sci-fi/horror about an alien abduction victim.
  3. A contemporary fic- about someone who was friends with someone who grew up to be a school shooter. Because you have to wonder just a little how the loved one of such a person didn't see it coming and how they get over that they didn't see.
  4. I want a Dracula-esque vampire. No more falling for teenage girls or blood and sex mash-ups. I want a cold, calculating, emotionless, sinister creature of the night... And let's have it written from the monster's point of view.
  5. Pirates at war with each other.
  6. People lost in the Bermuda triangle.
  7. A close encounter with Bigfoot.
  8. Mermaids lost on land.
  9. A dystopian world without sunlight.
  10. Most of all, I want authors to stop getting their romances all up in my paranormal!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Fort by Aric Davis

Tim, Scott, and Luke plan on spending their summer in their new tree fort, playing sniper with air rifles when Molly Peterson, a friend of Tim's sister, goes missing from a drive-in. While out in the woods, the three boys are sure they see Molly being held at gunpoint by her abductor. Detective Van Endel, who is in charge of the investigation, knows someone is lying to him and dismisses the claims as a cruel hoax. Tim, Scott, and Luke set out to clear their names and save the girl, while Detective Van Endel tries to find out where Molly was when she went missing and who was the last person to see her alive...

Unlike with the characters in this story, Aric Davis has no problem revealing the murderer/kidnapper to the reader early on. The moments with the killer were unsurprisingly the most disturbing; he's a rapist suffering from PTSD caused by his time in Vietnam. Molly's struggle for survival is heartbreaking and captor is terrifying. He is terrifying because he's delusional and because a part of him knows he's delusional and he acts on his impulses anyway.

Tim, Scott and Luke are realistically written. They might be kids who witnessed something terrible, but they're still kids. They aren't super-sleuths even though they've taken it upon themselves to find out who took Molly. They aren't going to the scene of the crime and pulling up clues, they're using a child's common sense. A creepy man will live in a creepy house. He's injured so he won't maintain his house: look of the creepy house with the un-mowed lawn... And as they try to narrow down their list of suspect, they begin to learn a secret about growing up. 
"Why would an adult be so shitty at being an adult? It just didn't make any sense. His dad's leaving made no sense, and now Luke's mom, Emma, made no sense. It almost made him question adulthood in general.  What if they're all just faking it? What if none of them has the slightest idea what they're doing?" 
They begin to learn that even adults don't have all the answers.

My only complaint with this story, is that the police scenes are slow and foolish. At first it was little things about the way they spoke; Detective Van Endel greeting Molly Peterson's mom with a "my pleasure" like a missing child is no big deal and later advising her to take a Valium like his night job is pharmacology. But then it spans out to his use of a psychologist who doesn't appear to offer opinions on actual psychology but instead on "feelings". And when he interviews the three boys, he asked them what Molly was wearing...Only to tell them what Molly's mother said she was wearing. Even in the eighties, any detective worth anything would still have to worry about something like a false or fed testimony... Disbelieving the kids is one matter, telling them to tell you what you want to hear is another matter entirely. 

I think this book would have been better if Davis had put a little research and a lot more effort into police and profiler procedures, but even without that effort the book was still pretty good. It was slow to start but hard to put down once the mystery got in full swing.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale

This book should come with a warning. It's absolutely wonderful for the person who LOVES words to the point of madness. It is not for the reader looking for something "light." I admit, I am not sure where to start my review (there was sooo much content), so I may ramble a bit.

Bruno the chimpanzee always wanted to be human…Then Lydia Littlemore, a primatologist, adopts him from a zoo and teaches him how to speak English. The story starts dramatically, humorously, as Bruno’s animal nature clashes with human society and eventually the story spirals deeper into darker more serious material. Cognitive thought, philosophy, art, shame, love, and grief; what it means to be human and the sacrifices Bruno unknowingly makes to become one. Several times during the reading, I laughed, blushed, and cried… I forgot the story was actually written by a human hand and began to think this the story of Bruno, told by Bruno. And more than once I was surprised to find Bruno pointing out ridiculous human concepts that weren’t quite so ridiculous before he pointed them out, providing a unique look into the human psyche.

(I have to stop to acknowledge that a very insightful human author wrote this book.) 

But don’t dive in just yet, there is a reason this story missed out on five stars. Bruno is one wordy chimp with an important message and like the Ents from Lord Of The Rings, Bruno feels nothing is worth saying if it doesn’t take an exceptionally long time to say it… Could the author have done more with less? The world may never know.

So if you traditionally speed read or consistently skip the ‘boring parts’ you are going to miss things. Important things. He’s not saying it for his own pleasure, although he takes pleasure in saying it, but for the benefit of the readers. This book is creatively preachy: in a way, it makes you fearful to be too human, by sharing the skin-crawling injustices done to ‘just an animal’ and the perverse side effects of an animal that just wants to be human.

Overall, I think this was an entertaining read with several driving messages and beautiful characters… But you do need to have patience to sort through the narrative of a chimp with a huge ego and even bigger vocabulary.

(You won’t regret reading this on a kindle---Kindle has a dictionary for those long words you don’t want to admit you don’t already know.)

Rating: 4/5

Review original post date:
Oct 30, 12

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. I'm sorry to say, it's a list of two today.

I've never been one for following books by release date, unless it's for a series I'm following (as is the case with Hollow City) or a favorite author announces an upcoming release. Cursed be the Wicked happens to be the book of an internet buddy of mine or I would never have heard of it.

As  it is, none of the author's on my watchlist are making any exciting announcements. I don't even have a clue where to go to get a list of upcoming novels. I hear about books through the grapevine or find them while wandering around bookstores. I'm very aware that a lot of the blogs doing the TTT will have no problem making a full list and I'm curious:

How do you do it? Where do you go to learn about Upcoming Releases?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: Cursed be the Wicked

This Monday morning, I am delighted to present the cover for upcoming paranormal romance, Cursed be the Wicked.


          Title: Cursed be the Wicked
          Author: J.R.Richardson
          Genre: Paranormal Mystery Romance
          Release Date: March 5, 2014

Cooper Shaw lives his life under a pen name and enjoys the anonymity it provides during his journeys across the globe as a seasoned writer for a travel magazine. When his job lands him in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts to cover the famous Festival of the Dead, he soon realizes that he can’t stay invisible forever as he faces ghosts from a past he’s been trying to forget ever since he left.
The city holds nothing but bad memories for Coop until he meets a quirky young woman with an old soul and curious insights by the name of Finnley Pierce. While she acts as his tour guide through a town he thought he knew, Finn helps him unearth the truth of his childhood and might even begin to open up his heart.
By unraveling the mystery of his father’s murder, Coop may finally accept who he is, where he came from, and perhaps even realize what he wants for his future.
About the Author:

A writer of stories and lover of life.
Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity. Today she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.
Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

She’s always loved writing, so in her spare time, she wrote a novel that’s been picked up by the good people at Soul Mate Publishing.
Author Links:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Quotable Thursday

"The little map Nan had drawn was in her bag, but she'd etched it on her memory. She turned away from the great stone walls, took the path toward the deep woods. Passed winter-quiet gardens, spreads of soaked green..."
I'm not making a whole lot of progress with my reading this January. There's been a lot of distractions. I'm hoping to have some time to myself to read soon...

And I've got news about an upcoming novel, to be shared on the 13th of January, so pop on by if paranormal mysteries are your cup of tea!

Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Nick Carter--not that Nick Carter--has 48 hours to save the world. Aliens owe Earth all the money in the universe because they've been stealing our music...And rather than go universally broke on music pirating fines, they want to help us self-destruct.

This book was funny, but you probably won't find the meaning to life inside of it, if that's what you're looking for. It does make a few cold jabs at the digital generation; media piracy is at an all time high because everybody's doing it, simply because everybody else is doing it.

And if you like lots of science in your science fiction, this probably isn't the book for you either. There's plenty of gadgets, intergalactic travel, aliens, and fantastic alien planets, but very little logic as to how any of this is possible. This is the kind of science fiction you weren't meant to think about. The emphasis is on the humor and the adventure... both of which were enjoyable, but the adventure was more impressive than the humor. Some of the jokes were hysterical, while others took too long to get to the punchline.

Over all, I thought it was a fun read, but it definitely takes the science out of science fiction.

Rating 3/5
Review originally posted on:
Dec 5, 12

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: It's a New Year.

This list/post was inspired by the Top Ten Tuesday list, The Broke and Bookish had scheduled for today. This week's theme was supposed to be: Goals/Resolutions For 2014 (bookish, not bookish or a blend). I've taken a few liberties with the list today.

Facebook now has a feature that tries to display what it thinks the highlights of my year were...It always pisses me off when Facebook just assumes stuff on my behalf. I mean, who does it think it is? I can leave it any time, right? But it did make me think about the highlights of my year and what I thought they were. So here is a list of my most memorable moments of 2013!

  •  In May I brought home 5 orphaned bunnies and kept three, Lady B, Sprout and Moon.
  •  In June, I graduated from college and later I threw out my back.
  •  Throwing out my back turned out to be a good thing, because it was shortly after in July, I started this blog! And I have 11 followers that I know of, 8 here on Blogger, 3 on Bloglovin.
  • In August, I solidified my decision, that after getting a job, my first purchase would not be a car, like a responsible adult would choose, but a horse because let's face it, a horse would make me way happier...
  • In December I did all my Christmas shopping and wrapping early...First time I ever did that.
  • And I finished my 2013 GR Reading Challenge; I challenged myself to read 30 books and I wound up reading 33!

It's always good to look back at your highlights; remember the good things and how they made you feel because its easy to get caught up in the bad. But it's also inspiration for the future to consider what you want your next highlights to be. And do you know what I want next year?

  • I want to lose ten pounds so my pants stop trying to strangle me.
  • I want to get a job so I can get that horse.
  • I want to read 30 more books.
  • I want to write a book of my own.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Quotable Thursday

Today I'm starting Dark Witch by Nora Roberts. This was a Christmas gift and even though Nora Roberts isn't an author I'd have picked for myself, I hear good things so I'm giving it a go. Today for Quotable Thursday, you're getting the opening lines...
"Near the shadow of the castle, deep in the green woods, Sorcha led her children through the gloom toward home. The two youngest rode the sturdy pony, with Teagan, barely three, nodding with every plod."
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Stars Rain Down by Chris J Randolph

For the most part, this story was really well written with an ambitious plot. The story starts with alien Kai, waking up to a destroyed world and being sent off to warn other planets...Then the story transitions to characters Jack and Marcus, humans living in a futuristic Earth. Jack is an Emergency Rescue worker and Pacifist, while Marcus is an astronomer and astronaut searching the galaxy for a drifting alien vessel... 

The characters were well thought out. The pacifist must become the war hero and the passive scientist must work to save the world from intergalactic invaders. The action sequences were exciting and devastating. The plot twists: who the invaders are and what they're after, were shocking and dripping with irony. The paths of the main characters, Jack and Marcus, ran beside one another but never crossed.

The reason this story avoided the five star hit, was the ending. Don't get me wrong, I liked parts of the ending; I'm a sucker for happy endings... But it was rushed and untidy. In a hurry to bring us the end, the author abandoned detail and jumped right ahead to vague intentions. Two out of three characters weren't clearly dead or alive at the end... And the minor characters weren't even sure what happened? If you save a planet from complete destruction, wouldn't you tell everyone you'd done it? So if the two missing characters are dead... Why didn't their friends tell the story? If your friend saves the world and dies to do it, wouldn't you want him to be remembered? So how could no one know the details? Eh.

But if you don't mind slightly obscure endings, don't let the ending stop you from reading this story.

Rating: 4/5
Review originally posted on:
Dec 9, 12