Book Review – Planetfall by Emma Newman

PlanetfallPlanetfall by Emma Newman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Plantefall is a wonderful science fiction story of humans leaving earth, guided to a new planet by a ‘chosen one’, the Pathfinder. The story begins with a colony settled on the new planet and the tale of how they got there unfolds slowly, tantalizingly so, as Renata Ghali’s life and lies begin to crumble around her when a newcomer arrives at the colony.

As many of the best science fiction books do, Planetfall gives us a startlingly look at humanity and in Ren’s case at certain mental disorders. Her ways of coping with the trauma of Planetfall and all that’s transpired are unhealthy to say the least. From the beginning of the story, we are teased with what actually happened as opposed with the knowledge the majority of the colony has. Emma Newman makes us work for that knowledge. We are almost a third of the way through the story before we start to collect bits and pieces and two-thirds through before we can actually piece together more. And all the while, we are treated to the workings of the colony and those of Ren’s own mind.

It’s a book about resources and environmentalism (living with a minimal footprint and zero-waste). But it’s also a book that considers questions of humanity, faith, belief, and ultimate purpose. And like many great stories, its ending leaves you questioning not only the story but also your own beliefs and your own self.

I received a free copy of Planetfall from the publisher. My review is my own personal and subjective opinion and I have not received compensation for it.

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Book Review – The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Shattered WingsThe House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title itself intrigued me. And then I saw the cover. The image of the throne set in front of a Parisian landscape that includes the Eiffel tower and burning feathers floating down from the sky is stunning. The opening of the book did not lessen my intrigue. The book begins with fall of an angel and proceeds to explain and detail the disaster that Paris has become and the danger that the Fallen face and can create.

We learn that the Fallen, though they rule the city of Paris from within separate “Houses”, are not necessarily safe, especially if newly fallen. Parisians not dedicated to a House prize the Fallen for their parts in order to perform magic and maintain a magical high. Our three main characters, Philippe, Isabelle, and Madeline each embody the main aspects of this world. Isabelle is a newly Fallen. Madeline is an alchemist who belongs to a house and continuously seeks the damaging magical high created from inhaling Angel Essence or the dust of angel bones. Philippe is somewhat of a mystery, but hates the Fallen and who they represent and so tries to live outside of the House system.

These three characters are forced together in a somewhat incongruous way and the story unfolds through their viewpoints. At its core, The House of Shattered Wings is a simple mystery – one built upon discovering whom has created an elaborate plot of revenge against House Silverspires. The revenge is built upon a frightening curse. It is dark and palpably scary. And yet, I wanted more from the book.

I wanted more discussion of theology and philosophy. I wanted to more characterization of many of the Fallen and their faith or lack thereof. I wanted more thought, feeling, and discussion about the rights and wrongs of the War, the House system, and the Fallen’s role in the world. Philippe spends some time considering his place in the world and the way things are, but it is rather superficial. I wanted so much more of this and from more of the characters.

Despite spending a majority of the book with Philippe, Isabelle, and Madeline, I only felt like I truly got to know Madeline. While the book is beautifully written and the descriptions are wondrous (multiple sensations were frequently described), I found the plot and its pacing slightly discordant. I feel like the book the author wasn’t quite sure what she really wanted her book to be – a tale of the Fallen and other Immortals once they become mortal or a tale of a post-war future. Even the discord between Houses and the House system itself could have used more detail. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly I found lacking, but I just know I wanted more. And as a result, the ending felt slightly unsatisfactory and abrupt.

Galley copy of The House of Shattered Wings
Overall, I recommend The House of Shattered Wings as an entertaining and intriguing story. But do not look to it for deeper implications and philosophies.

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Five Fandom Friday – 5 Fictional Characters I Most Identify With

Five Fandom FridaysIt’s Friday. That means another edition of Five Fandom Friday from geeky bloggers all over thanks to the genius of Super Space Chick and The Nerdy Girlie. Today’s topic: 5 Fictional Characters I Most Identify With. I actually learned a little more about myself by pulling these together. There’s definitely a particular type of character I identify with and I’m fairly certain people who know me would definitely agree with my choices. And they are: Continue reading

Book Review – Vanishing Girls

Vanishing GirlsVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vanishing Girls is billed as a psychological thriller and it is that, but it isn’t new and fresh, or even that surprising. But that isn’t what pulled me into this story. First and foremost, even before I’d call it a psychological thriller, I’d call it a story about sisters. The relationship and love between Nick and Dara is heart-wrenching. I have a younger sister whom I adore, but whom I’ve also had my jealousies of and with. I could relate to the emotions in this book and there are a lot of them.
It’s a quick read with fairly simple language. The metaphors are sometimes awkward, but given the speed of the story did not irritate me too much. I did have some issues with the mystery of the missing girl, Madeline Snow. I was so connected to the story of the ‘estranged’ sisters after the accident that this other mystery didn’t feel as natural. It did serve to push the story and the reveal forward, but otherwise it seemed slightly awkward.
I will also say that I knew what was coming in the twist about halfway through the book. That said, I did replay and reread certain scenes after I had finished the book to understand the new perspective. To me, that is a sign the twist was actually well done, even if I did see it coming.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book but it was not for the mystery and instead for the characters and the touching relationship between the sisters – the love and hate, the anger, the jealousy, the forgiveness. It’s a quick read and worth the time.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I Want to Meet at RT Convention Dallas 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here by the The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week, there is a new Top Ten list that The Broke and the Bookish and other bloggers will answer. If you want to join in the book-related fun, feel free. Just be sure to link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget over at The Broke and the Bookish so that others can find your post and you can find other. Because really, what’s better than talking books with kindred souls?

This week’s prompt is Ten Authors I REALLY Want To Meet.  This was actually kind of a hard post for me because I have been very fortunate to meet several of my very favorite authors (Neil Gaiman, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, even George RR Martin).  Given that I am currently in Dallas for the RT Convention, I chose to focus this blog on the 10 authors I hope to meet at this year’s convention.  (I’d also like to point out – the RT Convention is a fantastic place to meet and actually get to know a whole bunch of authors.) Here are 10 authors I’m hoping to meet at this year’s convention: Continue reading

Giveaway!! Balzer + Bray Books

 

As a result of conventions and other things, I’ve got a bunch of books piling up around my house. So, I’ve decided to host some giveaways.  Let’s see how this goes, shall we? First up, I’m giving away three Balzer + Bray books.  A little mystery, a little intrigue, and a little supernatural.  Sound interesting? Enter below to win all three books pictured below (Ten by Gretchen McNeil, Everneath by Brodi Ashton, and Born of Illusion by Terri Brown).
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Book Review – Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ink and Bone is from Rachel Caine (author of the Morganville Vampire Novels). At its core, Ink and Bone is about a love of books and knowledge. But it’s also about power and ignorance and control. In this world, the Great Library of Alexandria has survived time and now has a presence worldwide. But that presence is extremely controlled. There are rules and restrictions and prohibitions about owning books.

Ink and Bone takes places in the year 2031. The main protagonist is a 16-year-old boy who grew up smuggling original copies of books and grew to love those books. His father tasks him with entering service to the Great Library to continue to help his smuggling family. Jess’s experiences trying to gain a coveted position and the relationships he develops make Ink and Bone a great read.

It’s a little confusing at times trying to suss out the positions and reasoning for the various groups (Burners, Ink-Linkers, Smugglers, the Great Library, and even a war between the English and the Welsh). But all these groups set the background of dynamics within this world and create interesting conflict.

Ink and Bone is reminiscent of Harry Potter (academic trials) and Game of Thrones (Greek fire is a lot like wild fire). It also has some common young adult tropes. A variation of the #commonYAline “released a breath didn’t know was holding” even makes an appearance. But none of that bothered me because I was fascinated with the world and the concepts and the struggles Jess faced trying to navigate this world and fit his own beliefs into it.

I truly enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read Volume Two of The Great Library.

Note: I was provided a promotional/free copy of Ink and Bone by Ace or Roc Books, but all views are my own.

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Five Fandom Friday – Favorite Games I Love to Play

It’s Friday. That means another edition of Five Fandom Friday from geeky bloggers all over thanks to the genius of Super Space Chick and The Nerdy Girlie. Today’s topic: Favorites Games I Love to Play. I love games! All sorts of games, but I decided to focus my love on the the type of games that started it all – tabletop games. I’ve loved playing them since I was a kid. So here are my favorite games: Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here by the The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new Top Ten list that The Broke and the Bookish and other bloggers will answer. If you want to join in the book-related fun, feel free. Just be sure to link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget over at The Broke and the Bookish so that others can find your post and you can find other. Because really, what’s better than talking books with kindred souls? Continue reading

Review: Day Shift

Day Shift (Midnight, Texas, #2)Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brief note to begin, I have not read Midnight Crossroad, so Day Shift is my first introduction to the people of Midnight, Texas. That said, my enjoyment was not hindered at all by this fact.

Midnight is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Texas. And that seems to suit all the characters perfectly, which is why additional visitors seem to unnerve the residents. And despite the truly terrible character names, the characters were all so intriguing (enough to make me want to go back and read Midnight Crossroad). You’ve got the tattooed and pierced psychic, the vampire, the witch, the nice gay guys, the mysterious woman, and more. Over the course of the book, we are given tidbits and glimpses into all of these characters and more. We are teased wonderfully with the secrets they are hiding. None of these people truly know one another and we don’t either, even by the end of the book. But, we are given enough information over the course of the story to whet our appetite and not frustrate us.

There are a lot of story threads and a lot of viewpoints which may frustrate some readers but served to keep me intrigued. Although I will admit, I did lost track of some of the different intrigues over the course of the story as we focused on some of the more direct mysteries (the accusations leveled at Manfred and the mystery of the boy left in Rev’s care). Just when you think that even Charlaine Harris has forgotten about some of the stories, she’s weaves a tidbit or reference back in. Harris is great at mystery and she has set up a lot of things in this quirky town to fill several more books.

The story is unfolded in simple language without overly complicated or hard to understand writing. It’s clear and direct and makes the book a fast read. .At times, it feels too simple. The main mystery in the book was not too hard to unravel and guess at which annoyed me until I realized it had wrapped up just to leave room for the return of my absolute favorite character from the Southern Vampire series (aka the Sookie Stackhouse books). I love that the Midnight, Texas books are set in the same world as those of the Harper Connelly and Southern Vampire books for exactly this reason. Day Shift actually has a couple characters known to Sookie making appearances.

Overall, I enjoyed Day Shift immensely. But that enjoyment was very much due to the fact that I was looking for simple, light, enjoyable fare. That’s no to say there wasn’t violence, death, and references to terrible acts, but we didn’t linger on it. It was straightforward. This is exactly the type of book you want to take with you to read on the beach in the summer. This is the Charlaine Harris I grew to love in the early Sookie books (before they went off the rails).

I look forward to checking back in with the residents of Midnight in a future installment.

Note: I was provided a promotional/free copy of Day Shift by Ace or Roc Books, but all views are my own.

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