Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

**This review was originally posted on my Goodreads**

I had heard from so many people about how good this books is, and frankly, I was disappointed.

Maybe it is just not my thing, but John Carter seemed like a pretentious, self praising jerk. He set himself up above every other character in the book, and took numerous opportunities to assure the reader of his many skills, abilities and qualities, while feigning modesty. 

I understand that this book was written in a different era, but I felt that he looked down on the dog (thing) because he was a 'hideous beast' Dejah Thoris because she is a woman, the Green Men of Thark because they were less civilized than him, and the humans because they were not as clever as him.

On top of that, I found the timeline hard to follow, and did not really understand if John Carter was human or not (because he did not age). Perhaps some of these questions are answered in one of the next 10 books, but I'm not sure if I can force myself to find out. 

I did like the technology aspect of the book though. I found it really interesting especially because of when it was published. It is interesting to see what was considered amazing technology at that time. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoy's Civil War era science fiction.

A Princess of Mars on Goodreads
My review on Goodreads

Review: Eve

Eve by Anna Carey
Eve on Goodreads

I have been eyeing this book up in Books-A-Million for over a year now, and I finally read it! I have to say it was not what I expected, but it was still really good.

This book is a dystopian young adult book with a love story incorporated into it, so while this is a very unique dystopian young adult book with a love story, it is still a snowflake in a blizzard, which unfortunately means, that not a whole lot of this book really stuck with me. That being said, I will be continuing this book because I think there is a lot of potential in this series.

This book follows Eve, a young girl who escapes from her 'school' where she learns they are preparing girls to be baby machines, and teaching them to fear and hate men. I think that that is a really interesting idea, that has some really great ties to today's society.

I really enjoyed the fact that Eve was not a special little flower who everyone loves and dotes on at all times, but is also not a hard core Katness Everdeen type character who kicks some butt, and scares everyone, while being emotionally unavailable. I found her very realistic, and it actually really broke the mold in that respect.

Ultimately, however, it did read like any number of first books in post apocalyptic dystopian worlds. Luckily the second books are always the best!

My review on Goodreads

Review: Marked

Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

**This review was originally posted on Goodreads**

I had heard about the House of Night series books a lot, and thought I'd give them a try, although I admit, I really did not expect to like them all that much. That being said I thought that this book was really well written, and laid out. 

I particularly loved the matriarchal society that P.C. and Kristen Cast have designed and the very unique way in which they write the vampyres. This is not your run of the mill vampires are scary, but these ones are not all bad story. It presents vampires as more of a secret society. 

It isn't a book for everyone, but It reminds me of the popular television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the way that it takes normal problems that teens and young adults would be going through, and makes them into supernatural or magical issues. 

There was a slight(ok, not so slight) undertone of feminism in the book, but it was not irritating, or overpowering. It did not overpower the plot as many of the feminist themed books tend to do. I am pretty sure that there were also ties to Wicca but I am not 100% on that as I am not familiar with that group. 

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought that I would and honestly the thing that held me back from 5 stars was the language. It was clearly trying to be 'hip' and 'cool' but came off childish, unrealistic, and to use a lame word, lame. That combined with some of the choices Zoey made were frustrating, however I guess that's just part of her character. 

Overall I think that this book would appeal to a wide variety of readers, including those looking for a romance, and those looking for something with a little bit more plot to it. I recomend that you give this series a chance!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: The Ice Dragon

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin's take on a children's book! Guaranteed to ensure your child never sleeps alone again! This book is listed as a children's novel by Martin set in the same world as his A Song of Ice and Fire series. So naturally I had to read it, and I was not disappointed.

This book is about a small girl and her love winter, and the great ice dragon that it brings. It is set in a time when the seasons seem to work more like our own, and there is, as always, a great war between nations. Although the language and style were written on a much lower reading level than the main books, this was far from a children's book. Be it descriptions of men lit on fire, or a young girl stepping on a nail and it going the whole way through her foot, the content is not what I would call child friendly. Bur for fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, this was excellent!

the pages were beautifully covered with illustrations by Luis Royo that brought this book to life. This book will most likely be incorporated into the series in some way, much like the Dunk & Egg series of short stories. 

I highly recommend that anyone who has enjoyed the A Song of Ice and Fire series, or the Game of Thrones television show pick up this book. It raises many questions, and leaves room for quite a lot of speculation, as well as several theories!

This book is published in beautiful hardback, so go pick your copy up immediately!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: The Last of the Firedrakes

The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy

I received this book as an advanced reading copy through Netgally from Wise Ink Creative Publishing and before I say anything I would like to say a big thank you to them for allowing me to read this book. 

The long asked question of 'what to read after Harry Potter' has been answered, as long as you don't mind a bit of déjà vu. I thoroughly enjoyed Oomerbhoy's masterpiece, from the stunning cover, to the cliff hanger at the end, and all the wonderfulness between. It took me a bit to get going, but once I did I couldn't put it down

I was initially a little put off by the similarities in the plot to the Harry Potter series, it felt like someone chopped the books into chapter sized hunks, mixed them up and stripped away the details, then put them back together and filled in with a new story. As the book went on, however, the comparisons lessened and it grew in it's own right, blooming into a very compelling story. It still puts you in mind of Dursleys, Hogwarts, and a certain blonde would-be villain, but it has a flavor all it's own. 

I was very impressed with Aurora's character. She was flawed, and young, but she was very likable. I don't always love main characters, but she felt very real to me. She was not obnoxiously over confident, but she also did not float about putting herself down so others would praise her. I liked that she has dark hair, and that she loves her dark hair. This stuck with me for some reason, and I started to picture her like princess Jasmine from Disney's Aladdin!

There was a romantic side to this book, and again, I must say it was beautifully written. I am normally left on the outside of romances looking in thinking 'good, she is happy,' or 'they want to be together' but that was not the case here. There is a point in this book, where Aurora and Rafe's inevitable romance just hits me! Not only did I want it to work out, but Oomerbhoy paints such a beautiful picture of longing that it leaks out of the page and you can feel it. 

Rafe was probably my favorite, and I couldn't help but picture him as a cross between Flynn Rider, and Aladdin! He put me in mind of a Robin Hood character immediately and I loved the depth his character has! I really feel for him in his current mess he find's himself in, and I can't wait to see how he fixes it! 

I think the biggest drawback to this book was that there were places that the plot similarities did become a bit overwhelming, mainly in the begining of the book, so if you are someone who is bothered by that you may not enjoy this book as much as you should. But the similarities are less as you go, so I have high hopes for the next book. No word on when the next book will be out, but I'll be here waiting when it does!

This book is set to be published on August 15, 2015 hop on over to Amazon right now and pre-order your copy!

The Last of the Firedrakes on Goodreads
My review on Goodreads

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

I liked this book a lot more than the first one, and to be honest I liked the first one a lot more once I had the perspective of this book. I was pretty generous with my 3 star rating of Oryx and Crake mostly because of how much it made me think, and continues to make me think, but this book really earned it's 4 stars, and I liked it in it's own right.

I really enjoyed the different points of view of Toby and Ren. It was a little bit confusing at first, trying to figure out the timeline and characters, but it really brought the world to life. I thought there was some interesting religious points brought up by the gardeners, but most importantly I think that this book really showed Jimmy/Snowman's character. All of the characters went through similar, traumatic events, and lived through what was essentially almost the end to the human race. In the first book we see Jimmy sinking into himself, and wholeheartedly believing his is the last human on earth. He thinks that there is no way that anyone else could have survived. On the other hand Ren has no reason whatsoever to believe that anyone else has survived let alone Amanda, the one person she reached out to. But she believes that it is possible. Then Toby who is somewhere between the two, she feels like the last person, but she wants to believe that Zeb survived. She *wants* to believe, but she isn't always able. I really enjoyed seeing Jimmy/Snowman from Ren's perspective, as well as seeing his story as seen by others. It shows that he really is just a misogynistic, narcissistic, low life, that has an inflated scene of his own importance and worth. It was this, I think, that made both books better. The perspective change. I know that I questioned in a review or Oryx and Crake if something was how Jimmy saw things, or how the author saw them, and I am very pleased that this book answers that question. 

If you have read Oryx and Crake you must go and get this book right now because you are missing out if you don't!

Review: Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

**This review was originally posted to Goodreads for a book club review and has been cleaned up for this blog**

A dark look at our future, and fragile psyche of society, Oryx and Crake took me a long time to read, firstly because of personal circumstances, and secondly because of the content. I found it a very interesting, but heavy novel, and frighteningly realistic, if somewhat exaggerated in some ways.

The entire book struck me as a bit disturbing, but it really made me think. The slow, but realistic decline and decay of society touched just a bit to close to home for me. So much of what was described in the begininng of the book is exaggerated, if not outright examples of what happens today. This post apocyliptic world is not created by aliens, or vampires, or magic, it is just us. Even the 'science fiction' aspect of it is not far from reality with genetic manipulation and such. 

The characters in this book were by far the most interesting part, and they were amazingly written. Oryx, as a character was seen only through Jimmy, and I get the impression it was a romanticized view of her too. I thought that her character was awkward. I felt as though I was being steered in two different directions with her. One direction was the 'nurturing mother' figure that cared about the Crakers and taught them things, and who's dying wish was that they be cared for. On the other hand there was this manipulative girl who knew how to play off of people's emotions as well as how to act. I wasn't sure if I believed anything that she said and I almost feel like she was multiple characters all threaded together. This was, obviously, seen best through the girl from the website, the girl from the news, and then what we know is Oryx herself.

Jimmy, or Snowman, being the main character was obviously the character you are able to best inspect. The thing that I noticed repeatedly throughout the book was Jimmy/Snowman's concern for how he sees himself. I think that for most of this book he acted like he was better than Crake, somehow more moral, and I wasn't sure if the author wanted us as readers to think that too, or if we were meant to pick up on the hypocrisy of it. I think that, although Crake was an extreme individual in an extreme environment, and I don't agree with what he did, I think that he at least stuck to what he genuinely (or at least from what I could see) thought was right, or best for the Earth and intelligent life on it. Crake was upfront about watching the kiddie porn, and enjoying all of the horrible games and shows and websites that they frequented, but Jimmy tried to act like he was better than it all. There is even a passage where he says: //"He'd meant well, or at least he hadn't meant ill" He never wanted to hurt anyone, not seriously, not in real space-time. Fantasies didn't count." // I think that says a lot about his character. Also he created a new name for himself so that he could wipe the slate clean. I didn’t realize how much he had separated himself from his past until he was reading what he had written just after the outbreaks and he says: //”Whatever Jimmy’s speculations might have been on the subject of Crake’s motives, they had not been recorded. Snowman crumples…”// This felt a lot like him separating himself to the point that he thinks of his past self (Jimmy) and him now (Snowman) as two different people. I did not particularly like Jimmy, or Snowman for that matter, and I felt as though he almost represents the masses. Everyone looking for the guy next to them who is 'way worse than me'. 

My favorite character was Crake, because he was the most interesting and also I can really appreciate a straight forward person. I think that part of the reason he ended up the way that he did was that he grew up playing God. He graduated from a high school in a development for family members of genetic scientists, went to a college that encouraged creating new species or animals and plants. He spent his whole life playing God while surrounded by a world that was tearing it's self apart, and entertainment that made death into a game. I do not think he was a good person, nor do I think that that is an excuse, but I did find it interesting.

It was interesting that the Crakers did seem to be developing the spiritual/religious aspect regarding Oryx and Crake despite Crake's efforts. I think it is an interesting link the the Nature vs. Nurture question. Were they naturally developing the spiritual aspect or was it more to do with the way Jimmy/Snowman taught them about Oryx and Crake. Is it a part of being alive that makes living things look to a higher power, or were they mimicking Snowman's reverence towards Oryx? I think he turned it into a mythology for them because that is what he understands. When children are young, they get mythology, so that's what he gave the Crakers. 

There was plenty more points of interest in this book, and I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts about it!

Anyone have thoughts on Jimmy & Crake? What about Jimmy and Oryx? What do you think about these characters and who was your favorite?

Review: Graceling

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I'm very late to the game here, but when it comes to this book it's most defiantly better late than never! I know that the book world and the world of young adult has been raving about this book for, well, forever. I myself have had it on my to-read shelf since September of 2011! Well I finally got around to reading it and let me tell you, it is marvelous!

Right off the bat you get thrown right into the middle of a world, and in the middle of the excitement! There is no winding up period in this book, you learn about the world, and the political situations on the fly! As you race around with Katsa, you begin to learn about Gracelings and how this beautifully crafted world functions. There is something wonderfully realistic about a society that would fear and hate these gifted individuals, and their mismatched eyes, and it allows the book to have the touch of fantasy, while the majority of the world is carrying on as normal. 

Katsa reminded me of a more likable Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I particularly loved that she focused on the important things going on in the world, and was not immediately swept away by a man. Although there is eventually a romance that unfolds, it is not overwhelming, and it does not eclipse the overall plot of this book. It felt more like a story of building trust, and a true relationship, than the terrifyingly unhealthy obsessions that I am seeing more and more. 

I am really looking forward to the sequel, especially because this book actually contained what I would have thought would be the climax to this series, so I can't even begin to imagine what is coming next!

What's a book that everyone read long before you did, and are you feeling like you missed the excitement train?

Review: City of Bones

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

**This review was originally posted on Goodreads**

There has been a lot of hype about this book lately and I noticed that it was being made into a movie so I figured I would give it a chance.

I think that there was an interesting, well thought out plot, with a unique world in here somewhere, and if you scrape off the poor romance, Mary Lu's, and stagnant characters you might be able to catch a glimpse it.

Some of this book was wonderful and the detail was great, with interesting and as I've said, unique ideas, but then there were the scenes that just overstated things, or restated them. I feel like some of the times there will be a well written passage, and then Cassandra Clare would just cut and paste it later on in the book. I found a lot of the writing poor if I'm perfectly honest.

Another problem I had with this book was that just about every character was impossible to like. Clary and Jace were quite irritating and I could not ship it. I couldn't get involved in the 'love story' which overwhelmed the whole book, so it made reading this hard. 
Alec was irritating and irrational. At one point Clary met him, then he hated her. I had to flip back to the previous page to see if I missed something, but no. No, he just hated her. No reason. Isabelle was similar, although she started out with some potential (I guess). I think that most of this book could have been edited down to the first half of a book (the boring- get used to a world half). 

Because I am a crazy person, and I can not just abandon series, I will continue on in this series, but I really do not recommend this book to anyone, and it blows my mind how many people are completely obsessed with it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: New Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity

New Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity by Sean Ryan, Jeremy Roberts

I received this as an advanced reading copy from DC Comics through NetGalley, and I would like to first thank them for the opportunity to read this comic.

This is the first 'The New 52' DC comic that I've read, so I was actually a little bit lost. I think that is honestly mostly because I am used to novels, where you pick up book 1 and read from 1 to 3, or 7, or whatever. The comic book world, I've found works a little bit like this: 'Oh! number 27, 15, 8, 42, and 9! I haven't read any of these but know basically what happens! I must buy them!' That being said this was pretty easy to pick up on what was happening in them. 

I just heard that there will be a Suicide Squad movie so I'm pretty excited about this! I think it was a great introduction to what the series (line?) is all about. I particularly loved Harley Quinn! The Joker's daughter was really interesting too, and it really makes me want to read some other comics about him!

The publishers requested that all reviews be held until publication, which it is now available! However, as I wasn't sure if these were all published together or not, I will not go into any plot specifics, but rest assured it was really good. The art was beautiful and I actually read the whole thing in just one sitting!

This seems like a really great place to start if you are looking to start comic books, but I'm no expert! I particularly love that there are not really any 'good guys' in this. 

How do you all feel about gray area villains and heroes? 

New Suicide Squad Vol 1 on Goodreads
My review on Goodreads

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Sometimes a classic is just like a really old rich guy in a cape hitting on someone else's girlfriend, and that's the impression I got from Dracula. As anyone who is my Goodreads friend already knows, it took me an incredibly long time to read this book. It was actually on my currently reading shelf for a very long time (like 3 years) because I just could not find the drive to read this dusty old book when there were so many books I actually wanted to read. I recently started reading Stephen King, however, and he mentions that his book Salem's Lot was heavily influenced by Dracula so I pushed through and finished it.

I did not like this book. I thought it was slow, and boring, and honestly disappointing. There was very little of Dracula, and instead page upon page of pointless love triangle (octagon?). I think the whole thing just went on forever and then ended very unsatisfactory. 

I am glad I read it, however, because I now feel like I have a much better understanding of the vampire genre. I understand why so many vampire books are romances, and why there is always a love triangle. It has always bothered me, but I do now understand why. I think it's hilarious when people attack Twilight when this book read more like a cheesy romance than a horror. 

I was also not a huge fan of the style the book was written in. I've never really liked reading journals or letters and this book was comprised of mostly that. 

If you liked books like The Vampire Diaries, or The Sookie Stackhouse books, you should go out right now and get this book, but if you're more like me, and are tired of boring sappy stories about girls that everyone wants, skip this book. I 'm glad I read this, but mostly for the experience of having read it, and the context it brings to other books, but then, I've never been big on classics.

How do you think the classics hold up to their reputations?

Dracula on Goodreads
My review on Goodreads

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Review: Carrie

Carrie by Stephen King

What happens when you mix high school, crazy, and supernatural powers? Carrie, that's what! This was my first venture into the world of Stephen King. I know what you're thinking how did this girl escape Stephen King for 25 years? Surely she's encountered it and just doesn't know it! Well my friends, you would be wrong. I was busy reading and re-reading, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter, and perusing the forums for fan theories. So now, years past when I should have been exposed to things everyone knows about, I'm trying to catch up. A wonderful woman I work with suggested to me that I start with Carrie so I did. 

The first thing that struck me about this book was that it was wonderfully written. Even the sporadic writing style of jumping from narrative, to documents and back again oddly worked. The only thing I knew about Stephen King was that he's 'that horror guy with a million books' so I was under the impression that someone with that many books could not possibly be that high quality. Boy was I wrong!

While I didn't find this scary, I thought it was a brutal view of a tortured high school student with exaggerated consequences. The frank discomfort that this book gives the reader is so effective in getting it's message across. 

The way this book is designed you know from the beginning it's not going to end well, but I still had that hope that if Carrie could just hang in there until after high school, things might be OK. 

I was very excited to find that this is also the first novel that Mr. King wrote, and that I can continue through his books chronologically (I love chronological reading!) and see his writing progress!

I would absolutely recommend this book to every high school student. Perhaps if more students put themselves in the head of the 'losers' they would be a little nicer. I would also recommend this to almost anyone, as it is an excellent book