Monday, June 29, 2015

The Fold - Review

Title:  The Fold
Author: Peter Clines

                 “IT’S PERFECTLY SAFE. 

“The folks in Mike Erikson's small New England town would say he's just your average, everyday guy. And that's exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he's chosen isn’t much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he’s content with his quiet and peaceful existence.  

“That is, until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve: far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to “fold” dimensions, it shrinks distances so that a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step. 

“The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the Door is completely safe. 

“Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems—and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.  

“As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there’s only one answer that makes sense. And if he’s right, it may only be a matter of time before the project destroys…everything.” 

Review:  The Fold was great for approximately the first 70% of the novel.  The story zipped along and I was really into it.  I loved the main character, Mike, and understood his wish to be normal.  I was on the edge of my seat and excited to see how this was going to turn out.  Then, at 69% (I read on a Kindle so it shows me the percent read) something strange happened (not strange good; strange bad).  Up until this point the story, although written in third person, had been following Mike.  We had little glimpses inside his head and knew what he knew and what he thought.  All of a sudden we are following Sasha.  It was weird and it threw me out of the story.  “Wait… This is a story about a man named Mike, why are we suddenly reading about Sasha?”  And then it head hops several more times before the end of the novel.  If you are going to head hop, which I seriously dislike 98% of the time because it isn’t well done, you need to set that precedent early on.  To start jumping around in the last third of your novel, in my opinion, is unprofessional and shows that you rushed through it, or did not plan properly.  The last third of the novel could have used better editing overall.  The characters repeat themselves.  Other reviewers complained about the use of the ‘f’ word, which I do not have a problem with.  But there is a lot of redundancy in the dialog, and in the narration, as if Clines is beating us over the head to make sure we understand where he is going with the story.  Which is another example of the end of the novel being rushed.
     I enjoyed The Fold, and I do recommend it for lovers of weird fiction.  However, be aware that the writing is not of a professional level before going in, and then you won’t be disappointed when you reach the final third of the novel.

**I received a free copy of this novel, in exchange for my honest review, via NetGalley.**

Publisher: Crown

If you like this book you may want to read:

Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon (read BookGirlR’s review here)

Directive 51 by John Barnes

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Karen Memory - Review

Title: Karen Memory
Author:  Elizabeth Bear

Synopsis:  “Set in the late nineteenth century – in a city a lot like what we now call Seattle Underground – when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront.  Karen is a young woman on her own, making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello.  Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house – a resourceful group – and the poor and the powerful of the town.
     “Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap – a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
     “Hard on the heels of that horrifying discovery comes a lawman who has been chasing this killer for months.  Marshal Bass Reeves is closing in on his man, and he’s not about to reject any help he can get, even if it comes from a girl who works in the Hôtel Mon Cheri.”

Review:  I have yet to meet a novel by Elizabeth Bear that I didn’t like.  That goes for Karen Memory as well.  This novel sucked me in and would not let me go.  I mean, just look at the first line: “You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I’m gonna tell you anyway”.  Told in the first person, Karen Memory allows us to see inside the head of Karen Memery, which is fascinating.  As readers we get to see coarse, outspoken Karen evolve into a steampunk hero, wielding her sewing machine.  One of my favorite things about the novels by Elizabeth Bear is the depth of her characters.  Now that I’ve read a novel about Karen Memery I want a novel about Miss. Francine, Karen’s transgender friend.  I want a friend like Miss. Francine, any takers?
     I love the characters.  I love the story.  I love this book and I love Elizabeth Bear.  Go buy Karen Memory or find it at your local library, you won’t regret it!

Publisher:   TOR Books

If you like this book you may want to read:

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan

Monday, June 1, 2015

Seveneves - Review

Title:  Seveneves
Author:  Neal Stephenson

Synopsis:  “A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb.  In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.
     “But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remains…
     “Five thousand years later, their progeny – seven distinct races now three billion strong – embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown… to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.”

Review:  I loved Seveneves.  I have never read anything else by Neal Stephenson, but now I think I want to!  This book is going on my favorites shelf.  You know; the shelf of books I will frantically attempt to save should there ever be a house fire.  (It’s a lost cause I know.  There are so many books on that shelf it would take multiple trips to save them all.)
     A lot of other reviews have complained about the length of this book.  Yes, Seveneves is long.  It’s 861 pages of awesome story that I could not put down or stop thinking about.  I will admit that around the two thirds mark I was starting to get a little frustrated with how long it was taking to read (It took me a week and a half to get through); but that’s mostly because I’m used to being able to whip through a book in a day or two, three days tops!  Now that I’m finished reading it I’m sad.  I wish there was more. 
     Seveneves is massive, and not just in size.  Readers of Science Fiction, Apocalyptic Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, and students of human behavior will all find something to love about this novel.  Stephenson does it all!  Rush to your nearest bookstore and buy this book.  You will not regret it!

Publisher:  Harper Collins

If you like this book you may want to read:

Species Imperative Trilogy by Julie E. Czerneda

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Iron Ship - Review

Title:  The Iron Ship
Author: K.M. McKinley
Series:  The Gates of the World #1

Synopsis:  “The Twin flees across the sky, bringing in its wake the Great Tide.  The Earth trembles under the shadow of its brother.  Times are changing.
     “The order of the world is in turmoil.  An age of industry is beginning, an age of machines fulled by magic.  Sprawling cities rise, strange devices stalk the land.  New money brings new power.  The balance between the Hundred Kingdoms is upset.  For the first time in generations the threat of war looms.
     “In these turbulent days, fortunes can be won.  Magic runs strong in the Kressind family.  Six siblings strive – one to triumph in a world of men, one to survive murderous intrigue, one to master forbidden sorcery, one to wash away his sins, one to contain the terrible energies of his soul.
     “And one will do the impossible, by marrying the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship, to cross an ocean that cannot by crossed.”

ReviewThe Iron Ship is a well developed novel with an immense cast of characters and an excellent story.  The effort that McKinley put forth on this novel is evident in the development of the world, and the people in it. 
     Don’t let the title and the cover fool you, this is not just a story about an iron ship; there is only one chapter of the novel that is actually set at sea, aboard the ship.  There are a lot of characters in The Iron Ship, the story is focused on the siblings of the Kressind family, but draws in other characters as well.  There is a lot of head hopping that occurs, which was distressing to me at first, however it is so well handled by McKinley that the switches are smooth and not distracting from the story. 
     I kept having trouble putting The Iron Ship down, the quality of the world building was such that I kept getting lost in the story and forgetting that I do not actually live in the Hundred Kingdoms.  My only complaint is that the book ends too soon.  When is the next one coming out?  I want it!

**I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review, via NetGalley**

Publisher:   Solaris

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Sentinel Mage (The Cursed Kingdoms Trilogy #1) by Emily Gee (Read BookGirlR’s review here)

Chronicles of the Necromancer by Gail Z. Martin

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Heir to the Jedi - Review

Title:  Heir to the Jedi
Author:   Kevin Hearne
Series:  Star Wars (Empire and Rebellion #3)

Synopsis:The Galactic Civil War rages on after the destruction of the Death Star and Luke Skywalker struggles to learn more about the Force without the aid of Obi-Wan Kenobi – or indeed without any aid at all. But the few memories he has of Obi-Wan’s instruction point the way to a stronger control of the Force, and he is encouraged to pursue it by a new friend in the Alliance. When Luke, R2-D2 and his new ally are tasked with liberating a valuable asset from the Empire and delivering her to a safe planet where she can aid the Alliance, their journey across the galaxy is fraught with peril – and opportunities for Luke to discover the mysteries of the Force.”

Review:  I would like to start by saying that I am a huge Star Wars fan and also a Kevin Hearne fan.  So when I saw that Heir to the Jedi was a Star Wars novel written by Kevin Hearne I was so excited I squealed a little.  I enjoyed Heir to the Jedi.  But I did have a couple of issues to begin with.
     The first person POV set in Luke’s head is unsettling and kept throwing me off for two reasons.  First, the vast majority of other Star Wars novels are written in the third person POV; so it was strange to be reading a Star Wars novel in first person.  I think I could have gotten accustomed to this were it not for the fact that the POV character is none other than Luke Skywalker, which is my second reason for being unsettled at first.
     Luke is such a well known character from the movies and previous books that most Star Wars fans already have their own ideas of how he should think, and how he should act.  So being told what Luke is thinking, and not having it match what we think he should  be like (and let’s face it, we all have different opinions of what he should think and how he should act), was strange and unsettling.  Had this novel been told from the first person POV with a minor or new main character I think it would have been fine.  But since it was Luke I think third person POV would have been a better choice.
     The plot itself is great. It’s a rollicking good adventure, and I eventually did get past my issues with the first person POV.  I am glad that I stuck with it and was able to get past my initial issues with Heir to the Jedi.

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley.**

Publisher: Lucas Books

If you like this book you may want to read:

Razor’s Edge (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #1) by Martha Wells

Honor Among Thieves (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #2) by James S.A.Corey

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne (See BookGirlR's review of Hounded here)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Afterworlds - Review

Title: Afterworlds
Author: Scott Westerfeld

      “Darcy Patel is afraid to believe all the hype. But it’s really happening – her teen novel is getting published. Instead of heading to college, she’s living in New York City, where she’s welcomed into the dazzling world of YA publishing. That means book tours, parties with her favorite authors, and finding means sleepless nights rewriting her first draft and struggling to find the perfect ending… all while dealing with the intoxicating, terrifying experience of falling in love – with another writer.               “Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, the thrilling story of Lizzie, who wills her way into the afterworld to survive a deadly terrorist attack. With survival comes the responsibility to guide the ghost with whom she shares a surprising personal connection. But Lizzie’s not alone in her new calling – she has counsel from a fellow spirit guide, a very desirable one, who is torn between wanting Lizzie and warning her that… BELIEVING IS DANGEROUS.”

Review: I enjoyed reading Afterworlds. What Westerfeld has done with this novel is awesome. I loved reading about Lizzie’s life and her struggle to adapt to life as a published author and life as an adult, alternating chapters with her first novel. When I first started reading I wasn’t sure I was going to like the alternating chapters, but as I got further into the story I began to enjoy it more and more as I followed Lizzie’s struggle with copyedits, and then read the sections of her novel with which she had been having such issues. I enjoyed the meta aspect of reading a novel that contains a character writing a novel and the novel as it’s being written.
      I recommend Afterworlds for fans of YA and fans of paranormal genre fiction.

Publisher: Simon Pulse

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle (read BookGirlR’s review here)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Guild Assassin - Review

Title: Guild Assassin
Author:  Berley Kerr
Series:   Curse Breaker #1

Synopsis:  “Wendy Magdalena Braca lived in a Victorian mansion under three moons in Jupiter City. But her privileged upbringing falters when after the death of her father and the murder of her mother, she is shipped away to Greenleaf Asylum for Troubled Girls and lived there for years until she is “rescued” by a strange guild that shows Wendy their world; the world of Guild Assassins made up of the Cæcus (normal humans), the Validus (magic-users), and Half-Breeds (demi-gods). In this world, Wendy discovers she is the most special and powerful Validus known to exist, the Curse Breaker.”

Review:  This novel lacked depth.  I couldn’t even force myself to finish it.  I try to finish every novel that I start to read, especially if I am going to be reviewing it.  However in extreme circumstances, if I have reached the halfway mark and find myself wondering why I am torturing myself, I’m allowed to stop.  The premise of this novel sounds great.  I read the synopsis and was excited to begin reading.  Two pages in I knew I had made a mistake.  Guild Assassin reads as if it is a rough draft.  It is written almost entirely in passive voice and there is no depth to it at all.  The characters are one-dimensional, and I developed no feelings for them.  I could care less what was happening to Wendy.  The ideas behind the poor writing have great potential.  With some major editing this could be a wonderful novel.

**I was provided a free copy of this novel by Curiosity Quills Press via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

Publisher:   Curiosity Quills Press
If you’re looking for good steampunk skip this one and try these instead:

Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine  (read BookGirlR’s review here)

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt  (read BookGirlR’s review here)