Monday, March 28, 2016

City of Savages - Review

Title:  City of Savages
Author:  Lee Kelly

Synopsis:  “It’s been nearly two decades since the breakout of the third world war.  Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp ruled by island native Rolladin, who controls the city’s survivors with an iron fist.  For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders.  But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the Central Park POW Camp is the only home she’d ever want.
     “When strangers arrive in the park, carrying a shocking message, Sky and Phee discover there’s more to Manhattan – and their family – than either of them had ever imagined.  As disturbing secrets about the island begin to surface Sky and Phee have no choice but to break the rules to uncover the full truth of their long-shrouded history.  When their quest for answers erupts into violence, Sky and Phee must flee into Manhattan’s depths, where their quest for a better future will force them to confront the island’s dark and shocking past.”

Review:  I love post-apocalyptic fiction.  I read a lot of it, and I’m picky about it.  City of Savages was a fun read.  I enjoyed the premise, and the author did an excellent job of maintaining the tension throughout the novel, building to a nail biting, edge of your seat climax.  There were plenty of surprises and unexpected reveals.  However I found that the two sisters, Sky and Phee, were much too similar and very flat.  The story is told from their alternating points of view and flashbacks involving a diary.  I frequently found myself forgetting whose point of view I was experiencing.  The beginning of each chapter tells you, but Sky and Phee think and act so similar that it was very confusing.  I recommend reading City of Savages, but be prepared for two main characters who are a bit bland and stereotypical. 

Publisher:  Saga Press

If you like this book you may want to read:

Undertow by Michael Buckley

The 5th Wave (5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Book of Phoenix - Review

Title:  The Book of Phoenix
Author:  Nnedi Okorafor
Series:  Who Fears Death Prequel

Synopsis:  “Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7.  She is an “accelerated woman” – only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human.  Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.
     “Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life.  Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.
     “But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story.  Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.”

Review:  I read this novel in one sitting.  I know that’s not unusual for me, but it really was that good!  The Book of Phoenix is a perfect combination of a science fiction and a superhero novel.  Nnedi Okorafor’s way with words is excellent.  I hung on every word, and every phrase.  The story moves along at a fast pace, and kept me captivated until the very end.  The struggle of Phoenix to adapt to her new circumstances and bring down the mega-corporation that rules this dystopian world is heart wrenching, and fascinating.  I highly recommend this wonderful novel.

Publisher: DAW

If you like this book you may want to read:

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sorcerer to the Crown - Review

Title:  Sorcerer to the Crown
Author:  Zen Cho
Series:  Sorcerer Royal #1

Synopsis:  “At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers – one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain – ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
     “But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain – and the world at large.”

Review:  I loved this novel!  It did not go the way I expected based on the cover blurb.  I felt that the novel was much more about Prunella and less about Zacharias than the blurb lead me to believe.  I was fascinated by the story of Zacharias and Prunella.  Together they deal with the heavy issues of racism & sexism.  At first I was annoyed by Prunella’s insistence on just wanting to marry a rich husband, but came to like her more as she came into her own.  Sorcerer to the Crown features a beautifully crafted world with intricate, well thought-out politics, and fully fleshed out characters.  I can’t wait to read the next novel in the series!
**I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review, via NetGalley**

Publisher:  Ace

If you like this book you may want to read:

Uprooted by Naomi Novik (read BookGirlR’s review here)

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Three - Review

Title:  Three
Author:  Jay Posey
Series: Legends of the Duskwalker #1

Synopsis:  "The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more.
     "His name is Three, a travelling gun for hire in a dying world.  He has no allegiances, no family, no ties.
     "Against his better judgment, he accepts the mantle of protector to a sick woman on the run, and her young son.  Together they set out across the plains in search of a mythic oasis, attempting to survive the forces that pursue them, and the creatures of the dark.
     "In these dark times, a hero may yet arise."

Review:  I love post-apocalyptic stories.  A world that's our world but not our world at the same time is fascinating.  Three now ranks right up there as one of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels.  We are never told exactly what ended civilization, but the remaining survivors live in fear of the Weir.  The weir are like electronic zombies.  Are they robots?  Are they people turned into robots? Are they Borg?  Are they Cybermen?  We aren't sure, but they are scary as hell. 
     The main character Three grudgingly takes responsibility for Cass and her son Wren who are on the run from a group of criminals almost as scary as the Weir.  We learn some mysterious truths about Wren and Cass as they run from their past.  Three is a fast-paced novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and I loved it.  The world building and character development are wonderful.  I only wish that we had been told what caused the apocalypse that caused this amazing world.  I recommend running right out and buying Three by Jay Posey.

Publisher:   Angry Robot

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett (read BookGirlR's review here)

Seven Forges  by James A. Moore

The Buried Life by Carrie Patel (read BookGirlR's review here)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey: Review

Title:  Lamp Black, Wolf Grey
Author:  Paula Brackston

Synopsis:  "Artist Laura Matthews finds her new home in the Welsh mountains to be a place so charged with tales and legends that she is able to lift the gossamer-fine veil that separates her own world from that of myth fable.
     "She and her husband, Dan, have given up their city life and moved to Blaencwm, an ancient longhouse high in the hills.  Here she hopes that the wild beauty will inspire her to produce her best art and give her the baby they have longed for.  But this high valley is also home to others, such as Rhys -- the charismatic loner who pursues Laura with fervor -- and Anwen, the wise old woman from the neighboring farm who seems to know so much but talks in riddles.  And then there is Merlin."

Review:   This was my first novel by Paula Brackston.  I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I'm a big fan of magical realism in literature though, so I figured I would give it a shot.  I was expecting Lamp Black, Wolf Grey to be  a quirky romantic story set in a modern world where magic just happens to be real.  It's not that.  Lamp Black, Wolf Grey is a strange, emotional, combination of historical and modern novel. 
     It's not a heavy read.  I was able to read the entire thing in just over 3 hours.  I didn't get very emotionally involved in the story or with the characters; but I was entertained.  There are actually two stories being told in Lamp Black, Wolf Grey.  Laura's story is set in the present and Megan's story is set in the past.  I actually didn't like the strange combination.  I would have preferred it if the novel had either all been set in the present or all in the past.  The combination of both caused neither storyline to ever be fully fleshed out and thus I felt that the novel was lacking.  Thus said, if you are looking for a quick read, I say go ahead and read Lamp Black, Wolf Grey; you will be entertained.

Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Book of Speculation: A Novel by Erika Swyler

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (Read BookGirlR's review here)

When Life Gets In The Way

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, and not a whole lot of reviewing.  Therefore, I have declared November "Catch-up Month".  Expect a lot of extra reviews over the next few weeks.  I'm also pushing my Editing and Marketing Services for Writers hard from now on.  My dream is to be able to make enough that I can quit my retail job and make a living working from home.

In other news, SuperSteve and I purchased our tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Fandango crashed, which I found hilariously funny.  But we were still able to get our tickets for IMAX 3D opening night.  Because of my love for all things Star Wars I have declared December "Star Wars Month" during which I will be reviewing many Star Wars novels.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Readalong - Novels of the Change 1.2

Cover art by: Johnathan Barkat Photoshop Credit: Stephen Fischer


     Well, we've done it. We have made through to the end of Island in the Sea of Time. That means we are now 1/15th of the way through our Novels of the Change reread/ readalong. This week the whole project began to feel a bit overwhelming. But I enjoy the novels and am looking forward to having reread them all in order and so we will take it just one book at a time. Today we are discussing chapters 16-end of Island in the Sea of Time  (If you missed the discussion of chapters 1-15 you can find it here). 

     This section of the novel went by a whole lot faster than the previous 15 chapters. It was mostly fighting and battles. Walker is making me mad, with the way that he is using the natives to get his own revenge. Although I thoroughly enjoy the fact that Captain Alston outsmarted him and now has him on the run.

     I enjoyed getting to see Marion meet Swindapa's family and people. I feel bad for the hard decision that Swindapa is forced to make. Should she stay with her family, or with the woman that she loves? Poor Swindapa is forced to make this agonizing choice. In her culture families stay together forever and there is no personal space, no individual homes, they are always together. In Marion's culture Swindapa is lonely because she is far away from her family and she isn't used to being alone. I'm the opposite of Swindapa, and I enjoy copious amounts of alone time. I would be terribly uncomfortable and overwhelmed in her culture so I can understand how uncomfortable and overwhelmed she is by living in a place so foreign.

     In this section of Island of the Sea of Change we don't get to see as much of the planning or just life on the island of Nantucket. We see a bit, barter with the Indians from the mainland and some law making. But I enjoy imagining how regular people would survive an event like this; and so I hope that in the next novel, Against the Tide of Years, we get to see a bit more of everyday life on the island.

Discussion Questions: (If you are reading along and want to join the discussion feel free to answer these questions, or pose your own questions in the comments)

Now that we have reached the end of the first novel in the readalong how do you feel? Are you overwhelmed by length of the series or are you excited?

What was your favorite part of Island in the Sea of Time? Why?

As we move ahead into the next novel in the series, Against the Tide of Years, what are you hoping to see more of? What are you hoping we see less of? Any other thoughts?

**Join us later this week for BookGirlR's initial impressions of Against the Tide of Years, and remember for more regular updates on BookGirlR's reading progress follow us on twitter @bookgirlr .**