Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill, currently in “book of the movie” reprints as Edge of Tomorrow, is a relatively short military sci-fi march...moreHiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill, currently in “book of the movie” reprints as Edge of Tomorrow, is a relatively short military sci-fi march through one man’s development from green recruit to hardened warrior. The aliens arrived on Earth, they adapted a shape to work best in the environment, and they proceeded to destroy as much of the life on Earth as possible. They eat dirt and pass it as poison. Where they swim, the oceans no longer support life. The surviving nations of the world have banded together their militaries to destroy this threat, the Mimics.
All You Need is Kill is a fairly solid piece of genre fiction all told, though it isn’t without its issues. While a number of minor characters were mentioned in the various focus loops, they never really became anything more than set pieces. While this works for the book over all, it keeps the impact of anything that happens to them from really being there. This is the Keiji Kiriya show featuring Rita Vrataski and, while that works really well to show how different Keiji and Rita are as people and giving a great sense of isolation, it also lead to me not really caring if anything happened to the set piece minor characters. I also feel that the reveal about the mimic’s nature made them feel like, I don’t know, less somehow. They didn’t stop being dangerous, it just took away some of the mystery.
I’m also inclined to say that there isn’t a great deal of “show” in the novel. Again, this isn’t to the novel’s detriment for the most part. Having Keiji mostly talk about his development into a Mimic slaughtering machine just further reinforces the feeling of isolation, but I would have liked to have “seen” more of him watching Rita fight to figure out how she does things, more of him interacting with the other members of his squad and then slowly drifting away from them as more loops passed. I’d have also liked to see more lead up to the book’s climax. There was some, but not nearly enough.
So, to wrap it up, what’s the verdict? All You Need is Kill is a solid book that plays well off of the tropes Sakurazaka uses, and while it has some minor issues they mostly work in its favor rather than being detrimental to the book’s story. So, while there were some things that I did not enjoy, I give it a four out of five. (less)
Amateur detective Anne Marshall and her fiancé Jason Perry are headed down to Florida for Thanks Giving vacation with his parents only to find that hi...moreAmateur detective Anne Marshall and her fiancé Jason Perry are headed down to Florida for Thanks Giving vacation with his parents only to find that his mother’s best friend Maude has been murdered. The only clue is a fragment of a nursery rhyme pinned to her shirt. “Pocket full of poesies.” Anne dives into the mystery, finding out that the victim’s brother had been killed months earlier with a similar note attached to his body.
Jackie Fullerton’s Ring Around the Rosy is, at its core, a book that doesn’t seem to quite know what it is. It combines the out matched heroine of a cozy mystery with urban fantasy’s just kind of there magic with a romance novel’s dead end love triangle. Anne makes for an interesting heroine because she knows that she shouldn’t be digging into the police’s investigation. Her friends tell her not to, her dead father tells her not to, but she does it anyway apparently because she’s the heroine. So she stumbles around trying to figure out what could cause someone to try to wipe out an entire family. And of course she’s torn between the comfortable love that she has with her fiancé and the shock of lust she feels for Detective Reynolds. She’s also teamed up with her father’s ghost who, despite later in the novel revelations about the nature of the other side, seems to mostly exist to be a plot dump and to comfort her about her attraction to Detective Reynolds. So the book kind of feels mushed together between several genres in ways that don’t really work for me.
The villains are also a bit of a problem. Carl Martin is teamed up with his own ghost, Jeremiah, in trying to murder this family. This could have been awesome if the protagonists had been aware of Jeremiah earlier in the novel. As it stands, Carl is being pushed to take revenge for Jeremiah because of their mutual dead families and grief, but Carl and the reader are the only ones aware of Jeremiah for the first three quarters of the book. It makes it impossible for the protagonists to figure much out, so they spend pages and pages spinning their wheels until accidents happen to move the plot along. Plus, again, Anne’s father was following people to find out as much as he could why, after they identified Carl, wasn’t he aware of the other ghost? Especially given that Jeremiah seems to have known everything he needed to regardless of whether he should’ve or not.
Given all that, Ring Around the Rosy winds up being just sort of flatly mediocre. It isn’t bad even with a few instances of overly romanticized dialogue and plot troubles, but it isn’t good either despite decent side characters and what could honestly be an interesting dynamic between Anne and her father. So where does this leave me? I’m honestly not sure. As I’ve said, it isn’t a bad novel and some of my issues with it almost definitely come from having read it out of sequence, but I don’t think I would read the other two based on this one. All in all, it’s a three out of five book that could have used some whittling down and focusing on its plot. (less)
Class is in session for Charles Nukid at Scary School where monsters run amok and being sent to detention could easily land you as lunch for a hungry...more Class is in session for Charles Nukid at Scary School where monsters run amok and being sent to detention could easily land you as lunch for a hungry T. Rex.
Derek the Ghost’s Scary School is an account of a year at the eponymous school, introducing the students and teachers and leading up to the much anticipated (and feared) Ghoul Games. The book takes a chapter with each major character, focusing mostly on Charles but also spreading out so that each character including Derek himself gets some screen time. This tends to make it feel more like a series of vaguely linked short stories rather than a novel.
I have to admit that while I enjoyed Scary School, I wasn’t a fan of how much it referenced itself. While bringing something up and then referring to it coming up later does feel true to voice it gets annoying rather quickly when this is done in several chapters in a row. I’m not terribly big on the insistence that certain things are or were scary but, yet again, it fits the voice. I would definitely give Scary School to my little cousin when he learns to read on his own.
As far as rating Scary School goes, it’s enough away from what I usually read that I’m not entirely comfortable giving it a number rating. It’s good enough that I’d want to share with the younger members of my family and it’s good enough that, aside from the annoyances I mentioned earlier, I don’t have any issues with it. That said, I’m going to give Scary School a four out of five. (less)
Another Friday party in the Benjamin Franklin lounge and Professor Sophie Knowles is looking forward to her weekend getaway with her medevac pilot bo...more Another Friday party in the Benjamin Franklin lounge and Professor Sophie Knowles is looking forward to her weekend getaway with her medevac pilot boyfriend Bruce Granville when everyone’s cell phones start going off at once. Someone’s being carried out of the library on a stretcher, dead. Sophie’s friend Charlotte Crocker has been murdered and it looks like the librarian everyone loved might not have been as squeaky clean as Sophie thought.
Ada Madison’s The Probability of Murder is a good quick read, a soft mystery with a likeable heroine who manages to solve the crime while still worrying about her ice climbing boyfriend and being a good teacher. The story was good, though I could have done with a bit less of Sophie doing busy work to distract herself. I enjoyed the character interactions and would like to see more about how Sophie maintains a friendship with seemingly flighty Ariana. Not sure how I felt about the character detail of Sophie writing word problems as a side job/ hobby, it seems like the kind of thing that would come up again later but it wasn’t used much here. Overall, my problems with the book were more pacing related than anything.
On the other hand, I really liked the characters. A few of the students and professors seemed like the folks that every college has which helped make Henley read true. The atmosphere was good, very small town or artsy part of a small college town. I’d definitely read more of the series.
I give The Probability of Murder a four out of five, it earns it. (less)
Decon Chalk has lived to hunt monsters since one killed his family. When a vampire tries to hire him to kill another hunter, Chalk is interested. He...more Decon Chalk has lived to hunt monsters since one killed his family. When a vampire tries to hire him to kill another hunter, Chalk is interested. He takes the bait and barely survives an ambush and the inexperienced kid he finds himself saddled with. Now he’s got everything from shape shifters and vampires to immortals after him all lead by a nightmare trying to turn the loss of his family against him.
James R. Tuck’s Blood and Bullets is a mix of urban fantasy and action movie with a main character who is a study in over done manly man-ness. Chalk is a larger than life, gun toting, monster slaying badass and he’s going to tell the reader about it at every chance he gets. This gets old really quickly. Chalk is supposed to be the big tough monster hunter who shows up and gets things done, the problem is he reads a lot like a bad self insert from a kid who wants to be the tough guy that solves problems. This could have still worked out alright if the story had been in third person, the plot itself is fairly solid if a bit underwhelming. The book is in first person though with the world’s most talkative know it all narrating everything that he does no matter how insignificant it is. Even with that I would have been alright were it not for the repeat descriptions, Chalk describes his guns and himself at least three times. His apparent effect on some women is also brought up repeatedly. I don’t know if Tuck ran out of things to write with these descriptions or just didn’t trust his readers to remember any of it. The plot, as I said before, is fairly decent. Good guy gets attacked by more vampires than any of the major players in the city should have been able to put together, discovers the big bad’s existence, and has to figure out how to beat her without losing his rag tag team of monster hunters. It’s been done, but that doesn’t stop it from working here. To my mind the things that bring down the plot are, yet again, Chalk’s reiterating things too much, the big bad’s throwing logic out the window because she wants to have sex with Chalk, and the dues ex machina character that shows up towards the end. I’d have really liked to have seen more of the secondary characters doing what they’re supposed to be good at rather than just taking Chalk’s word for it, it seems like most of them could do pretty well as protagonists on their own.
At the end of the day, the blurb for the next book sounds interesting but this seems like more of a series to borrow from the library than one that I would purchase the rest of. I’m giving Blood and Bullets a three out of five for decent premise but a miss with the main character. (less)
Ana Cordona has been left to defend the remainder of her pack since all the males were killed when someone poisoned their well. She’s had to fight off...moreAna Cordona has been left to defend the remainder of her pack since all the males were killed when someone poisoned their well. She’s had to fight off the advances of her neighbor, Sean Taggart, another Alpha who wants both her and her land for his own. When an old flame shows up offering protection for her and her pack it’s enough to accept his conditions and become his mate.
I started reading Katie Reus’ Alpha Instinct expecting a somewhat trashy romance novel with a tough female lead and a thoughtful, maybe a bit sorrowful male lead. What I got instead was a trashy romance novel with a “strong” female lead and a bull headed male lead who was too wrapped up in being the Alpha and doing what was “right” for Ana to consider how she’d feel or react to his decisions. The reader is told that Ana has been leading the remainder of her pack fairly well since her father, the previous Alpha, died. But then Connor Armstrong shows up out of nowhere to claim his woman, his woman who he left for no apparent reason over fifty years ago, and suddenly Ana’s not only not the Alpha of her own pack anymore but she’s also relegated to being a painfully minor character while Connor and his brother go off to hunt down any and all threats. While the boys are away, Ana stays mostly at home taking care of her sisters and being neurotic about Connor’s actions since he left all those years ago. She also can’t do anything apparently because he’s the Alpha, this includes sitting down and figuring out what needs to be done to protect all that land that she knows better than he does and has been protecting herself for months.
There was some stuff with the shifters themselves that might have been interesting were it explained better or introduced slower. There are Alphas, like Connor and some of his men, who are both alphas and warriors and are the one who apparently do all the actual leading. Then there are alphas, like Ana, who are dominant to betas but aren’t warriors so they can’t lead properly because of something. It needs to be expanded on a lot before it makes much sense. Ana can’t complain about Taggart to the werewolves leading body because if she does it means that they’ll send her a man to take over her pack for her, not because she isn’t an Alpha mind but because she’s female, so that’s another thing that needs explaining. Why are the human with attached animal self werewolves bound by the behaviors of wild animals by their government?
I’m not liking this world of Reus’, its logic doesn’t work for me and its characters aren’t terribly likable. Male wolves here apparently recognize their “destined” mates on sight and that aspect of it isn’t done well enough to keep me from having a knee jerk "ick" reaction to it. The male characters take action, and the female characters just are for the most part. I would read more about the only female in Connor’s pack, Erin, but only if she wasn’t being paired off with some dude as her main role. I give Alpha Instinct a two out of five. The writing was pretty average over all, I just couldn’t enjoy it because of the characters.(less)
She is Lady Death, protector of humans, the enemy of every blood hungry monster around. But Kat Redding is a vampire, one who fights her very nature,...more She is Lady Death, protector of humans, the enemy of every blood hungry monster around. But Kat Redding is a vampire, one who fights her very nature, one who desperately wishes she was still human. When the count of a small house tries to force the local werewolf cult to merge with his house Kat has to stop him. But with only a few allies and highly illegal weapons will she be able to succeed before her own nature consumes her?
E.S. Moore’s To Walk The Night covers fairly familiar ground in urban fantasy, the monsters have revealed themselves and humanity has adjusted accordingly. The main differences here are that humanity has been mostly relegated to hiding in the daylight and being preyed upon and there is a stark lack of sympathy for most of the monsters. The second is quite possibly because of Kat’s own bias as it improves after meeting with the Luna Cult. I get the feeling that my review for this book would be significantly different if it weren’t for the preview of the next book at the end. As a standalone novel To Walk The Night falls rather flat, as the beginning of a new series it’s still fairly average but more forgivably so.
I’m going to jump right into the need for more character development and less navel gazing. This is the kind of book that I would have really enjoyed if Moore could have stopped reminding the reader that Kat is a monster and terrified of losing her humanity every time there was a lull in the action. Likewise, I liked the Luna Cultists and Ethan, but it felt like there should have been more to them. I could have also done with either a bit less about her dark and tragic back story or would have liked to see Moore put it off until after Kat’s more developed, it’s something that I’m hoping will tie into the later books but felt like it had too much focus in this one.
On the up side though, Moore managed to do something fairly new with his vampires and werewolves without it feeling forced or gimmicky. Having the two be different strains of a blood born infection was a pretty awesome way to introduce a bit of science while still keeping it magic. I’m also kind of counting on the Luna cult dissidents to show up later with their leader as one of the series big bads. He’d be really good in the role just based on his characterization in this book. It might also be interesting to see Kat have to solve a problem without her weapons since she treats them as her big advantage rather than the skill she has with them.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that, while I enjoyed To Walk the Night, it felt very much like a first novel and it moved rather slowly because Kat kept talking about her self hate and doubt. I’m sure that this will get better in later novels. The action scenes and the bits with more werewolves than vampires were worth the problems from the rest of the book. I’m giving it a three out of five and wondering what happens next. (less)
Audrey Callahan is determined to escape her former life as a grifter in the Edge and live a nice, normal, legal life in the Broken. At least until he...more Audrey Callahan is determined to escape her former life as a grifter in the Edge and live a nice, normal, legal life in the Broken. At least until her father comes to her for one last heist with a pay off she can’t afford to pass up. Kaldar Mar is an agent of the Mirror, a lady’s man, a scalawag, and a gambler. His latest assignment has him searching for a powerful artifact stolen from an impenetrable fortress in an enemy country full of terrifying monsters. Not that any of that is a problem. No, Kaldar’s problem is Audrey, the stubborn redhead who broke into the nearly impenetrable fortress and stole the powerful artifact. He’s going to need her to survive, but can he let her go once the mission ends?
Before Fate’s Edge I’d never read an Ilona Andrews novel. I’d looked at their Kate Daniels novels, but any time I could find the first one I’d be too broke or too busy to get it. That’s something I’m going to have to rectify. Fate’s Edge made me laugh far more than I’d expected. Audrey and Kaldar’s constant attempts at figuring out each other’s angle were just cute. Audrey’s issues with her family were fairly well written and touched on enough to be believable without getting annoying. Kaldar manages to strike a balance between serious business government agent and freewheeling gambler that makes him both charming and rather frightening. The character interactions are top notch with a blend of serious moments and humorous back and forths that serve to humanize the characters. The world is fantastic, all three of them in fact, the Edge and the Weird are every bit as thought out as the scenes in the Broken. The only characters who weren’t terribly interesting were the villains, and that’s forgivable in the grand scheme of things.
One of my only issues with Fate’s Edge was that I’d have liked to have seen more regarding the differences in the way that Kaldar thinks of his family as compared to the way Audrey thinks of hers. My other thing goes back to the villains; they came across as being evil for its own sake as opposed to the heroes who were out for family and country. It would be nice to see them get more development in future books.
By the end of the book I definitely wanted to read the rest of Ilona Andrew’s bibliography and I’d definitely had a blast reading this one. I’m giving this a four out of five because of the thing with the bad guys and some nitpicky things about characters thinking in circles, but I’m also definitely going to pick up the next in the series when it comes out. (less)