Thursday, April 17, 2014

Generation V - Review

Title:   Generation V   
Author:  M. L. Brennan
Series: American Vampire #1

Synopsis: “Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess.  A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire.  Well, sort of.  He’s still mostly human.
          “But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore.  His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved.  So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter.  Fort is determined to find a way to out-smart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.
          “But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him…”

Review:  My love of reading comes from both of my parents.  My choice of genres comes from my Dad.  My brother and I shared a bedroom when we were young; and one of my earliest memories is of Dad sitting between our beds, and reading to us aloud from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Recently I have gotten Dad hooked on the urban fantasy genre.  He reads Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris (he loves True Blood), and Kim Harrison.  One of his biggest complaints however, is that the best urban fantasy is about women.  He says that too many of the urban fantasy novels have female main characters, where are the urban fantasy novels with male main characters.  Well, I’ve got one for you Dad.  And you should read the books I’ve listed below as well. 
          This novel was great.  I picked up Generation V on a whim.  I hadn’t heard anything about it.  I just happened to see the second book in the series on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, and after realizing it was the second in a series I decided to buy Generation V first.  I read it in a little bit more than two days, but in my defense I had to work.  I get 30 minutes for lunch at work every day and I always read while eating my lunch.  Today I was almost done with Generation V when I realized it was time to go back to work.  I seriously did not want to go and had to force myself; promising that I would finish it as soon as I got home from work today.
Fort is an awesome character and Brennan has fleshed him out well.  In fact Brennan has fleshed out his secondary characters, and the world within the novel, so well that I want to know more about them too.  Fort’s struggle with his job and his boss is something that many people can relate to, as are his struggles with his family and personal relationships.  Your family does not have to be a family of blood drinking vampires for you to understand how forced the conversation at dinner can be, or how hard it is to say no to a request to show up for dinner with the family; and your girlfriend doesn’t have to be a cheating whore for you to understand what it’s like to be confused and hurt by the opposite sex.  The kitsune are a fun and interesting race that don’t show up in very many other urban fantasy novels.  I enjoyed Suzume’s interactions with Fort and learning about her family.  I was sucked into the world that Brennan has built in Generation V immediately when I started reading and was on the edge of my seat during Fort’s final showdown with Luca. 
As soon as my fiancé and I have had dinner (homemade gluten free deep dish pizza tonight) I’m going to Barnes and Noble to buy the next book in this series, Iron Night
Generation V.  Read it.  It’s awesome! 

Publisher:  ROC
ISBN: 978-0451418401

For more urban fantasy featuring a male hero:

Iron Night (American Vampire #2) by M.L. Brennan

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Monday, March 17, 2014

Alien™: Out of the Shadows - Review

Title: Alien™: Out of the Shadows
Author: Tim Lebbon
Series: Alien™ Trilogy #1

Synopsis:  “As a child, Chris Hooper dreamed of monsters.  But in deep space, he found only darkness and isolation.  Then on planet LV178, he and his fellow miners discovered a storm-scoured, sand-blasted hell – and trimonite, the hardest material known to man.
     “When a shuttle crashes into the mining ship Marion, the miners learn that there was more then trimonite deep in the caverns.  There was evil, hibernating – and waiting for suitable prey.
     “Hoop and his associates uncover a nest of Xenomorphs, and hell takes on new meaning.  Quickly they discover that their only hope lies with the unlikeliest of saviors…
     “Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage ship Nostromo.”

Review:  I love the Alien™ movies.  Ellen Ripley is one of my heroes.  I’ve talked about my love for science fiction and strong female characters in this space before, so I won’t go into it all over again.  But, that is why I picked this novel up during my birthday trip to Barnes and Noble (I go every year on my birthday, see my birthday post from last year here).  I had all of my books picked out, and was heading to the register to check out when this small book caught my eye and I picked it up and added it to my pile.  I had planned on reading the whole book in one day, but I got distracted by the television show my fiancé was watching (Worst Cooks in America is hilarious by the way) so I didn’t quite finish in one day.  While I did like Alien™: Out of the Shadows, I was a bit disappointed as well.
     What I loved:  Tim Lebbon is a wonderful author.  The suspense in this novel had me grinding my teeth and holding my breath as Ripley and her companions rounded corners and boarded elevators.  I found myself shouting at the book, “No!  Don’t go in there!  He’s dead for sure!”  The story idea itself fits well into the Alien™ franchise and was wonderful, fairly original, and at times had me wondering how they were going to pull it off.
     What I didn’t love: Ripley was not the strong female character who does not need a man to rescue her that is represented in the Alien™ movies.  She leans on Hoop too much and, while still strong willed, it seems as if without him she would not have made it.  I was disappointed.  I’m sick of the female characters in my novels needing a man to rescue them.  This is a stereotype that needs to stop.  Had Hoop been another female character I would not have minded nearly as much. 
     I am looking forward to the next one, even though it’s not by Lebbon, and reading this book made me want to watch the Alien™ movies again.  I ordered the boxed set from Amazon because of this book.

Publisher:   Titan Books
ISBN:  978-1781162682
If you like this book you may want to read:

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey (ISBN: 978-0316129084)

Alien™: Sea of Sorrows (Alien ™ Trilogy #2) by James A. Moore (978-1781162705) **Release Date July 29, 2014**

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things - Review

Title: The Museum of Extraordinary Things 
Author: Alice Hoffman

Synopsis:    “Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.
      “The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.”

Review: Hoffman has an art for taking the ordinary and making it seem magical. At first I was jealous of Coralie. How awesome would it be to grow up surrounded by fantastical objects like “the hand with eight fingers, the human skull with horns, the preserved remains of a scarlet-colored long-legged bird called a spoonbill, rocks veined with luminous markings the glowed yellow in the dark, as if stars themselves had been trapped inside stone . . . . the jaw of an ancient elephant called a mastodon and the shoes of a giant found in the mountains of Switzerland” (2 & 3) as Coraline describes them. It would be like growing up in a natural history museum combined with items that belong in a store like Obscura Antiques & Oddities (if you haven’t seen the television show Oddities check it out here). My jealousy tapered off as Coralie’s father made more of an appearance and I realized that she is as trapped as the one-hundred-year-old turtle in The Museum.
      Eddie’s story truly brought to light the working and living conditions for the working classes during the early part of the 20th century. I learned about it in school, in several different classes in fact, but it somehow seemed so far away. Even though The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a fiction novel, it is based on some major historical events that did happen during the early 20th century. I took pleasure in watching both characters grow emotionally until they are eventually both right for each other and come together with violent results for those around them. Fans of magical realism, the television show Oddities, and those looking to breathe some magic into their everyday lives will love The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

Publisher: Scribner
ISBN: 978-1451693560

If you like this book you should definitely read: 

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (ISBN: 978-0425190371)
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (ISBN: 978-0553384833)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Farm - Review

Title: The Farm
Author: Emily McKay
Series: The Farm #1

Synopsis: “Life was different in the before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are – holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…
      “And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible. “Lily and her twin sister, Mel, have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else does – like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears of out nowhere, offering to help…
      “Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…”

Review:   The Farm was wonderful. I read it in one afternoon, in one sitting. Seriously, I didn't even get up to eat or pee. Mel and Lily are great characters faced with a tough decision. Lily doesn't always make the right decisions but everything that she does is because of her love and concern for her sister. I love books with strong female characters. Women don’t always need to be rescued by a man. It’s nice to have another person to lean on occasionally, no one can be strong alone forever, but having a man swoop in to save the day is just insulting. Author Emily McKay allows Lily to be strong. She leans on the people around her when she needs to, but she doesn't have to.
      In my opinion there is an obvious flaw in The Farm. I was a bit turned off by the “head hopping”. If you have read my other reviews then you know that I do not like first person narratives that jump around between more than one character. If you’re going to write in first person then pick a character and stick with them. If you can’t tell your story that way then first person is not the correct point of view for your story! That said, I was able to overlook that flaw and enjoy The Farm. I look forward to reading more in this series.

Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 978-0425257807

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

 The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle see BookGirlR’s review here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gil's All Fright Diner & Monster - Reviews

Title: Gil’s All Fright DinerMonster
Author: A. Lee Martinez

Synopsis: Gil’s All Fright Diner : “Duke and Earl are just passing through when they stop at Gil’s for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning to stick around – until Loretta, the eatery’s owner, offers them one hundred dollars to take care of her zombie problem. Given that Duke is a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, this should be easy money.
      “But the shambling dead are just the tip of the iceberg. Seems someone’s out to drive Loretta from the diner and is more than willing to raise a little hell on earth if that’s what it takes. Duke and Earl suddenly find themselves facing such otherworldly complications as undead cattle, an amorous ghost, a jailbait sorceress, and the terrifying occult power of pig Latin,
      “And maybe – just maybe – the END OF THE WORLD, too.”

Monster: “Monster runs a pest control agency. He’s overworked and has domestic troubles – like having the girlfriend from hell.
      “Judy works the night shift at the local Food Plus Mart. Not the most glamorous life, but Judy is happy. No one bothers her, and if she has to spell things out for the night manager every now and again, so be it.           “But when Judy finds a yeti in the freezer aisle eating all the Rocky Road, her life collides with Monster’s in a rather alarming fashion. Because Monster doesn’t catch raccoons; he catches the things that go bump in the night. Things like ogres, trolls, and dragons.
      “Oh, and his girlfriend from hell? She actually is from Hell.”

Book GirlR's Review:  Looking for something a little different? Something fun that doesn't take itself, or anything else, too seriously? Look no further! I loved both of these books. If I had to pick, I like Gil’s All Fright Diner a little bit better, but only because I enjoyed the story a bit more. They are both well written with a wonderful sense of humor. Monster was fun but I didn't particularly care for the characters of Monster or Judy so I found it hard to get into the story like I did with Gil’s All Fright Diner. I’m always on the look-out for something a bit different and both of these novels are just that. I plan of reading more A. Lee Martinez’s novels in the future and I recommend that you do the same.

Publisher: TOR and Orbit
ISBN:   Gil’s All Fright Diner: 9780765350017
             Monster: 9780316049917

If you like this book you may want to read: 

Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez (ISBN: 978-0316049924)

Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin (ISBN: 978-0575085435)

1500+ Books Take A Lot of Boxes To Move (And Are Heavy)

Have you ever moved 1500 books? Plus all the other household essentials like furniture, clothes and dishes? I can now say that I have (I had lots of help). It was not fun, but it was worth it. BookGirlR now lives in a larger apartment in the upstairs of a house with her fiancé, instead of in an apartment complex. Yes, that’s right, since the last time I blogged I have moved, and gotten engaged. This is a huge change for the woman that does not particularly enjoy change. But now that we are mostly settled in (the books are back on the shelves) I’m back.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seeds of Earth - Review

Title: Seeds of Earth  
Author: Michael Cobley
Series: Humanity’s Fire #1  

Synopsis: “The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning.  With little hope of halting the invasion, Earth’s last roll of the dice was to dispatch three colony ships, seeds of earth, to different parts of the galaxy.  The human race would live on … somewhere.
          “150 years later, the planet Darien hosts a thriving human settlement, which enjoys a peaceful relationship with an indigenous race the scholarly Uvovo.  But there are secrets buried on Darien’s forest moon.  Secrets that go back to an apocalyptic battle fought between ancient races at the dawn of galactic civilization.  Unknown to its colonists, Darien is about to become the focus of an intergalactic power struggle where the true stakes are beyond their comprehension.  And what choices will the Uvovo make when their true nature is revealed and the skies grow dark with the enemy?”

Review: I have made no secret of the fact that Science Fiction is my favorite genre.  It is also the genre about which I am the pickiest.  I like a certain type of Science Fiction.  Julie E. Czerneda, David Brin, and Elizabeth Bear are my favorites, and I’ve generally been really pleased with everything I’ve read from Orbit Publishing.  Strong characters and a well developed world are vital; the actual science is secondary to me.  If you tell a strong story with an emphasis on character and world building I won’t even notice if your science is a little weak or even unrealistic.  (I was an English literature major, science is not my strong suit.) 
          That said.  I liked Seeds of Earth.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.  Cobley obviously put a lot of thought into his world building, and character development.  I love the Uvovo and wish that I could go live with them for a time.  I love the back story of the three ships leaving earth, the “seeds of earth” and how the colonists on Darien hate AI tech because of the betrayal by their AI.  The worlds of Darien and its forest moon are complex and I love it.  However, I feel as if Cobley tried to do too much with Seeds of Earth.  There is too much crammed into this novel and it began to get a bit tedious.  The storyline jumps around between many different characters which got a bit confusing, and there are several different stories being told within this one novel.  It made my brain hurt and I had to keep taking reading breaks because I was getting jolted out of the story and had to think too hard to keep track of everything that was going on.
          Overall I recommend Seeds of Earth, and I will be reading the rest of the Humanity's Fire series, but be prepared because this isn’t a relaxing, lose yourself in another world kind of read.

Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978- 0316213981

If you like this book you may want to read:

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S. A. Corey

Survival (Species Imperative #1) Julie E. Czerneda