Sunday, January 25, 2015

Doomsday Book - Review

Title: Doomsday Book
Author: Connie Willis

Synopsis: “In the year 2054, students research the past by living in it. So when Kivrin Engle, a history student at Oxford, enters Brasenose College's time machine for transport back to 1320s England, no one anticipates any problems. “But her two-week project takes a frightening turn. A mutant virus has been spreading through Oxford, and Kivrin arrives in the past delirious with fever. She is found and taken to a manor house, and when she recovers, she can no longer locate the time machine rendezvous point. “As Kivrin struggles to adjust to a past that's not quite what she expected, a past where the Black Death is beginning to ravage a mystified, terrified population. With the only people who know where she's gone seriously ill themselves, will Kivrin ever find her way back to the future? Or has she become a permanent exile in a deadly time?”

Review: A stranger approached me in Barnes & Noble while I was book shopping a couple of months ago. We started talking about the book I was holding, and then we started talking about what we both liked to read. We both like strong female characters. She said that she had recently discovered an author named Connie Willis and binge read everything that she had written and wished that there was more. So I wandered in that direction and looked at the Connie Willis books Barnes & Noble had in stock. They had Blackout, All Clear and Doomsday Book. Blackout and All Clear are a series. I had so many books already in my TBR pile that I didn’t want to try a new author by starting a series at that time. So I picked up Doomsday Book; and then there it sat in my TBR pile (which actually could take up an entire bookcase if you included all the ebooks I had piling up at that time). I actually forgot about it sitting there until about a month ago, during the stress of the holidays I was looking for something different to take my mind off of the stress. I saw Doomsday Book sitting there and remembered my conversation with the woman in Barnes & Noble. “It’s time travel” she had said “and the history is very well researched”. Good time travel novels are hard to find. I picked up Doomsday Book with some trepidation.
      Unfortunately it was a weeknight. I couldn’t stay up all night to finish. I read it in two nights and was a zombie at work for two days because I stayed up too late. I had trouble putting it down. Historians using time travel as a means of research is a fascinating idea. In Doomsday Book historians become adventurous heroes and survivors. History becomes real as Kivrin struggles to survive so far away from home.
      I loved this book so much that for two days I talked about nothing else. I talked about Doomsday Book at work and at home nonstop. And then, when I finished it, I stopped talking about it because I was sad it was over. I now also own Blackout and All Clear. Even if you aren’t a fan of time travel you will love Doomsday Book. The writing of Connie Willis is wonderfully complex and the story will draw you in and refuse to let you go. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.

 Publisher: Bantam/ Spectra
If you like this book you may want to read:

 Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis

 Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dream London - Review

 Title: Dream London 
Author: Tony Ballantyne 

Synopsis: “Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage. He’s adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He’s the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world. 
      “But in Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. The towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the East End and a path spiraling down to another world. 
      “Everyone is changing, no one is who they seem to be.” 

Review: Dream London is truly a fantastic read! Ballantyne’s writing is superb. The main character of James Wedderburn is a very good example of the antihero, you aren’t supposed to like him and you won’t. But who he is has been molded by Dream London, just like it’s changed everyone else, it’s not who he really is so you feel sorry for him and find yourself cheering for him when he fights back. Even the minor characters are intriguing and well thought out. Ballantyne has even turned London itself into a character is this imaginative novel. 
      I highly recommend Dream London for anyone looking for an urban fantasy novel with a much different plot from the “normal” urban fantasy novels that are flooding the shelves (No sparkling vampires or sex addict werewolves here). I look forward to reading more of Tony Ballantyne’s work. 

Publisher: Solaris Books 

If you like this book you may want to read: 

 Midnight Riot (Rivers of London #1) by Ben Aaronovitch (see BookGirlR’s review here

 Sixty-One Nails (Courts of the Feyre #1) by Mike Shevdon

It's Not Different, Except It Is

BookGirlR & SuperSteve 9-20-2014
Photo: Daniel Fischer Photography

     Married life isn’t really all that different from unmarried life, except that it is. I married SuperSteve on September 20th. It was a fantastic, small, outdoors Browncoat wedding. With some other nerd fandoms being represented because we are both total nerds.

Yes, we were married by Captain Malcolm Reynolds
BookGirlR & SuperSteve

BookGirlR & SuperSteve

Badger and River were also in attendance.

    After the wedding, and the reception the next day, we were exhausted. Life didn’t seem to go back to normal as we expected it to. The whole summer seemed to build up to this one fantastic weekend, and honestly I was just ready for it to be over. Then suddenly it was over and we could go back to normal, except we couldn’t seem to remember what normal was.
      What did we used to do in the evenings before wedding planning took over our lives? And of course October is a big month for us, we both love fall and Halloween.
BookGirlR & SuperSteve Halloween 2014
Photo: Saurian Arts

     Nothing seemed to get done. We worked. We came home. We lay on the couch and ate junk food. On the weekends we did fun Halloween and fall related activities with friends and family. What happened to the hobbies we used to enjoy before wedding planning? I only read one book in September and three books in October, and I didn’t blog about any of them, and I’ve barely written anything at all. I can’t remember the last full meal I cooked; we’ve been eating a ton of junk food. We didn’t do any fall hiking. SuperSteve hasn’t sat down with a sketch pad and a pencil in months. Married life isn’t really all that different from unmarried life. We were already living together. We were already sharing the responsibility for the bills, and the groceries, and the cooking and the cleaning (he doesn’t cook and I hate to clean). He still squeezes the toothpaste tube from the middle and snores. I’m still an antisocial hermit and a slob. But it is different.
      People kept telling us that, even though we were already living together, marriage would be different. We scoffed at them. It’s not going to be different! But secretly, we wondered if they were right. Marriage is hard, they kept telling us. Why is it any different we wondered? And now we are having trouble settling into married life. It’s almost like the expectation is that it is supposed to be different (aren’t we supposed to spend every free minute together and do everything together?) But it isn’t differnt (we are still individuals with different hobbies and responsibilities). It’s the same and we’re just having trouble settling back into a routine.
      We will get there. We’ve decided to ignore anyone else’s expectations of what a happy married couple should be like and go with what makes us happy. I’m trying to cook more and get back into my reading and writing. SuperSteve is trying to get back into a regular cleaning schedule and draw and read more. We’re eating less junk food and sitting down at the table, with the television off, for dinner as often as possible (3 nights a week minimum). We are accepting that we don’t have to spend every minute together. It’s okay to do things separately and indulge in our individual hobbies. We have decided that married life isn’t all that different from unmarried life, unless you give in to the expectation that it is.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Alien™: Sea of Sorrows - Review

Title: Alien™: Sea of Sorrows
Author: James A. Moore
Series: Alien™ Trilogy #2

Synopsis: “As a deputy commissioner for the ICC, Alan Decker’s job is to make sure the settlements on LV178 follow all the rules, keeping the colonists safe. But the planet known as New Galveston holds secrets, lurking deep beneath the toxic sands dubbed the Sea of Sorrows.
      “The Weyland-Yutani Corporation has secrets of its own, as Decker discovers when he is forced to join a team of mercenaries sent to investigate an ancient excavation. Somwhere in that long-forgotten dig lies the thing the company wants most in the universe – a living Xenomorph.
      “Decker doesn’t understand why they need him, until his own past comes back to haunt him. Centuries ago, his ancestor fought the Aliens, launching a bloody vendetta that was never satisfied. That was when the creatures swore revenge on the Destroyer… Ellen Ripley.”

 Review: I did not like this second installment in the new Alien™ series as much as I did the first (read BookGirlR’s review of Alien™: Out of the Shadows here) because my favorite thing about the entire Alien™ franchise is Ellen Ripley. Without Ripley it’s not a part of the Alien™ fanchise, in my opinion. Women today need more strong female role models. Ellen Ripley kicks some serious ass and doesn’t need a man to swoop in and rescue her. The author, James A. Moore, has made his main character Alan Decker a distant relation to Ellen Ripley, but it’s not enough. He’s taken a strong female character and replaced her with a mediocre male character. Not cool Moore, not cool.
      If you read Alien™: Sea of Shadows as if it is not a new installment in the Alien™ franchise it’s not so bad. The setting is creepy; the Weyland-Yutani Corporation is more evil than the Aliens; and there is enough gory action to keep you on the edge of your seat. So, pretend that this is merely a science fiction action thriller, don’t expect it to live up the Alien™ franchise reputation, and you’ll like it fine.

Publisher: Titan Books

If you like this book you may want to read:

This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman

 Species Imperative Series by Julie E. Czerneda

Alien: River of Pain (Alien™ Trilogy #3) by Christopher Golden
**Release Date November 25, 2014**

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The House of the Four Winds - Review

Title: The House of the Four Winds
Authors: Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
Series: One Dozen Daughters #1

Synopsis: “The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.
      “Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
    “Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.”

 Review:   Mercedes Lackey is my favorite author. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite because I love books so much, and I have several favorite authors, and several favorite series. But Mercedes Lackey is my favorite, of my favorite, authors. I have read her Valdemar series over, and over, and over again. I will never get tired of it. I will read anything with her name on it. Most recently I read The House of the Four Winds.        
     The House of the Four Winds is a fascinating read. I had a busy week last week, and couldn’t read it as quickly as I would have liked, every time I started reading it was torture to have to put it down. This novel has everything you could want in a good read: pirates, adventure, action, romance, cross-dressing, magic and lovable characters!  And can we talk about the cover for a minute?  What a gorgeous work of art!  I want to frame this cover and put it on my wall!  If I could change one thing about The House of the Four Winds I would like a bit more information about what Clarice did after leaving home and before meeting Dominick. Don’t get me wrong, this novel is wonderful just the way it is but adding a bit more information would make it perfect! I highly recommend that fans of fantasy, fans of pirates and fans of romance all read this book!

 **I received this Kindle ARC through NetGalley. **

Publisher: TOR

If you like this book you may want to read: 

The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Five Hundred Kingdoms Series by Mercedes Lackey

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Magic Bites - Review

Title: Magic Bites
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Katie Daniels #1

Synopsis: “When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
      “Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate's guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta's magic circles.
      “The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate's guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she's way out of her league—but she wouldn't have it any other way…”

Review: After reading Magic Bites I had a few questions. The first is: why, oh why, haven’t I read this series sooner? The second is: why hasn’t anyone told me about this series? And the third question I had after finishing Magic Bites is: How soon can I get the next book in the series?
      Fans of urban fantasy will love Magic Bites. The world building that has gone into creating this novel is amazing. The magic “waves” that come and go and make technology unusable is an awesome and very different concept that I loved. Andrews does a remarkable job playing the cards close to her chest. She gives us only the information we need at exactly the time that we need it and keeps the rest to herself, leaving us wanting more when we finally reach the end of this wonderful introduction to a series.
      My only complaint is the character of Curran. He is obviously supposed to be Kate’s love interest, but I didn’t feel it. There’s no heat between the two other than hatred, they are constantly battling with each other and trying to kill/maim each other. That’s not love, or even lust, in my book. I understand that a Beast Lord needs to be very dominant and alpha, but he could be dominant/alpha and still caring. At the end of Magic Bites I’m just afraid that Kate is going to end up in a relationship with an abusive man/Beast Lord. I hope that this issue gets cleared up in the next installment.
      Overall though, I loved this novel and am looking forward to the rest of the series. Seriously, why hasn’t anyone told me to read this? I wasted so much time reading other books.

Publisher: Ace
If you like this book you may want to read: 

 Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay (read BookGirlR’s review here)

 Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (read BookGirlR’s review here)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Midnight Crossroad - Review

Title: Midnight Crossroad
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Midnight Texas #1

Synopsis: “Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.
      “There’s a pawnshop (someone who lives in the basement is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).
    “Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…”

Review: Midnight Crossroad is my current favorite book. I finished it last night and I’m still thinking about Midnight, Texas. I loved everything about it! This is the first novel in a new series by Charlaine Harris. The plot starts out a bit slow, but her writing is so interesting that it doesn’t matter and it’s because she is introducing us to an amazing cast of characters. I loved learning about Midnight, Texas and its secretive inhabitants. My favorite character is Mr. Snuggly, all of my LOL moments involved the cat (and I did actually laugh out loud several times. SuperSteve thought I was going crazy). And I had no idea “who done it” until it was revealed, the whole ending was perfect! If you haven’t read it yet go and get it now! If you only buy one book this month make it Midnight Crossroad! I don't regret it and you won’t either!

Publisher: Ace

If you like this book you may want to read:

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

 The Graveyard Queen Series by Amanda Stevens