I wish I could give this 4.5 stars, but Goodreads isn't about that. So I'm going to give it more than 4 stars because that's what it deserves. Red Ris...moreI wish I could give this 4.5 stars, but Goodreads isn't about that. So I'm going to give it more than 4 stars because that's what it deserves. Red Rising is every bit as good as you may have heard it was. I've heard it likened to The Hunger Games so while I enjoyed those books and movies, I didn't want to read a story retread. Finally, I relented and I'm glad I did.
Red Rising is like The Hunger Games only in that there is a competition in which children die. While yes, they do die, it is less blood sport than the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is about one person leaving the arena, the competition in Red Rising is actually a school. The best and the brightest of the gold ruling class are invited to participate. It appears some of the lesser of the ruling class are invited too but to reveal more would be a spoiler.
In any case, the school is meant to establish who the best and the brightest are and if during the course of the school someone should die... then things are as they should be.
I'll go ahead and clip things there. Basically, there are similarities but you should not approach or walk away from Red Rising strictly due to that comparison.
The book's protagonist Darrow is a likable enough guy. He's driven in equal parts by love and rage, so there is that spark of unpredictability. Which side is going to win out in a particular situation?
The book was fun and interesting. I cannot wait for the next book.(less)
The Trouble with Horses is that they can surprise you. Or at least this book did. I’m not the target audience of this book. I’m admittedly more of a G...moreThe Trouble with Horses is that they can surprise you. Or at least this book did. I’m not the target audience of this book. I’m admittedly more of a George R. R. Martin guy, or a Stephen King guy, or even a Terry Brooks guy. That’s the stuff I like to read. So when I was given a review copy of this book and told to just be honest about what I thought of it, I sort of figured it might be a form of torture.
I’ve never read Pride or Prejudice, so I came into this story with no expectations. I quickly learned what type of person Elizabeth was. I learned the kind of man her father was. And I learned about the world in which the characters exist in a natural way. It wasn’t force fed to me as some sort of primer on Jane Austen.
I think that’s saying something. I never felt lost or like I wasn’t in the know. I actually found myself bothered by people interrupting me and when I got to the end I was pretty surprised to discover that I was actually disappointed that it was over. I didn’t expect that at all.
The writing was great. The characters were great. The story never felt rushed despite the fact that it was a novella. For me, I thought the story was well executed. I enjoyed it. And that’s the mark of a good book, in my opinion. (less)
The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon is a book that I have very mixed feelings about.
Let us start by imagining a world where our cell phones anticipate...moreThe Word Exchange by Alena Graedon is a book that I have very mixed feelings about.
Let us start by imagining a world where our cell phones anticipate what we need before we need it. We begin to wonder what our grandparent’s birthday is and it springs to life with the information we need. All it required was a thought. That word on the tip of our tongue appears on the screen just before we need it so you can complete your thought without missing a beat. If you can imagine that, then you can imagine the power and obvious desirability of the technology in this book.
The Word Exchange is an online marketplace where words are bought and sold. Did you forget the definition of a word? Have the definition instantly available for mere change. A quick micro-transaction and viola, the word you intended. But we get pretty familiar with the words we use, don’t we? What if we became so dependent on technology that our brains no longer stored memories as efficiently since we have these nifty devices reading our thoughts and providing the data we seek?
The Word Exchange pulls a very clever trick here. The characters in our book write definitions for the NADEL, a dictionary. Their vocabulary is spectacular. I had to use the ‘word lookup’ feature of my Kindle Paperwhite frequently, especially during the first quarter of the book. It provided an incredibly unsettling feeling that maybe this dependence on technology is already happening to us. Maybe we are already forgetting these words that were once a part of our language.
This trick, in my opinion, was only clever because I was able to very quickly grab a definition. If I was reading a paper copy, I don’t think I would have spent the time looking up words. Although perhaps it would have been sufficient to drive a different point home. That point being that if we’re not using this language, we lose it. If it isn’t saved somewhere, it could be gone forever.
On this premise the book succeeds. Then comes the Word Flu. The Word Flu is an illness that strikes and presents much the way the flu does that we’re familiar with. High fever, nausea, vomiting, etc. However, the Word Flu also presents in such a way that words in your vocabulary are replaced with others. Often times nonsense.
Since a condition of my early readers copy is that I not share any text, I will prepare my own example.
“Why is everyone oxbowing at me,” she wondered. “I did remember to kaneek my pants, right?”
And this example also serves to make one of the points of The Word Exchange. Words are powerful. They are functional. Is everyone looking at her? Is everyone shoving her? Did she remember to wear her pants? Or zip her pants? Words disappearing is problematic for society.
It’s also problematic for the reader. At least for this reader. I read to disappear into a story. I was never able to comfortably settle into The Word Exchange. These breaks would snap me back to reality while I considered what was actually trying to be said.
This is one of those instances where I think the author was making a point but that it also worked against them. The mechanic is beautiful and works. Unfortunately it works to a fault. I found myself hating to read this book.
The books pacing seemed glacial until about the halfway point. From there it seemed to accelerate to a snail’s pace. I think the author or editor must have known that because they occasionally dropped hints that certain parts of the story would pay off later. An example might be something like, “And I’d learn soon that it wasn’t so cut and dry.” They had to keep dangling a carrot. I considered walking away repeatedly and only the obligation to the review kept me hanging around. But I was miserable finishing.
The characters were good enough, I guess. Our character lead Anana was likable enough but also capable enough that I never really feared for her all that much. I guess that makes sense though since much of the danger was presented toward people she cared about, and not necessarily directed at her. Also, despite her being in near constant motion it seems like she’s more a victim of circumstance rather than actually moving the story forward. Honestly it feels like most of the book is just happening to her, she’s not manipulating her circumstances at all.
As for the other characters, Anana seems to care about them but I never saw enough to share in her feelings. I really found myself even struggling to care about anyone beyond her. Even when they set the stage for a romance, I couldn’t care less.
So I guess that’s probably enough. The things that work in the book work tremendously. I get the idea that in the future the Word Flu could really disrupt us due to our growing dependence on technology. I get the idea that words are powerful and losing even some of them could be disastrous. The story itself though, the meat and potatoes of The Word Exchange were just meh.
This one was a hard one for me, folks. And it kills me to dislike a book that executes its premise so well. But here we are.
Another incredible addition to A Song of Ice and Fire. So much happens in this book it's incredible. And the character who decides a man's fate in the...moreAnother incredible addition to A Song of Ice and Fire. So much happens in this book it's incredible. And the character who decides a man's fate in the epilogue was mind blowing. Very exciting conclusion to this book. So many dominoes set into place in this one.(less)
A 3-star review according to Goodreads means I liked it. And I did. The Gods of Guilt is a good book. I liked it. I would have loved to be able to giv...moreA 3-star review according to Goodreads means I liked it. And I did. The Gods of Guilt is a good book. I liked it. I would have loved to be able to give 3.5 stars but I'm unable to do so. The Gods of Guilt has some very startling moments and there are some big events that will affect future books but it was the ending that turned me away from a four star rating.
For better or for worse, I am a character guy. I like Mickey's courtroom smarts and his team, but I also care about his personal life and this book just scraped the surface. And that ending felt so rushed it was jarring. I was a little distressed to find a key witness on the stand and look at my ereader and see "8 minutes remaining in the book" showing.
So for me, the ending hurt the overall score. But don't get me wrong. The Gods of Guilt is a good Lincoln Lawyer book and the surprises within will ripple throughout additional books but I would have wanted at least another chapter. Even just a single one probably would have gone a long way toward resolving my issue with the ending.(less)
Another great Bosch book. And probably one of the better ones too. It isn't the best, but it's very good. The pacing felt nice. The reveals were well...moreAnother great Bosch book. And probably one of the better ones too. It isn't the best, but it's very good. The pacing felt nice. The reveals were well timed and there were some surprises. Overall not a lot of development of the Bosch character, but what is presented is the Bosch we know and love.(less)
I read some of the negative feedback on this book but upon completion I don't understand it at all. I've been fairly critical of Brook's last several...moreI read some of the negative feedback on this book but upon completion I don't understand it at all. I've been fairly critical of Brook's last several books. I liked them but they didn't do much for me. I never really felt invested or like too much was at stake. This book felt different. This book did a good job of keeping you invested in the characters of the first two books and Witch Wraith just delivered an exciting book all around. It seemed like once I got to the halfway point I didn't want to set it down. I could see the pieces sliding into place, and desperate times felt really desperate, and I just couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
I’m going to do something a little different and rate S. for the story Ship of Theseus and the S. experience.
Ship of Theseus itself is a really intere...moreI’m going to do something a little different and rate S. for the story Ship of Theseus and the S. experience.
Ship of Theseus itself is a really interesting yarn. It’s unlike anything I normally read and it felt like an epic piece of prose. It felt meaningful and intriguing. It seemed to be saying something. And it makes sense that there would be some social discourse in there due to the fictitious author, V.M.Straka, and his penchant for writing books on par with Ray Bradbury. In fact, this book, felt to me like it had a bit of Fahrenheit 451 to it. That’s no small compliment.
Then we get into the experience of S. and that’s where this book really shines. I am a reader who prefers ebooks now. I loved hardcovers, I loved paperbacks, but now I would really just prefer an ebook. This book will not be the same in an electronic format. The same can’t be said of Ship of Theseus. That book would be fine, still great, in ebook. But S. is about more than the words written by “V.M. Straka.”
S. is also about Eric and Jen. Their discovering the text and each other. It is their handwriting and the mystery and each loving detail that was packaged in this book that makes S. special. The book looks like an old hardcover. The pages are yellowed and stained. The copyright inside the book reads 1949. There are stamps of ownership. There are rubber stamp marks in the back where the book has been lent. And then there are the extras that help flesh out Eric and Jen’s story.
The extras are where the attention to detail really shows. The different pieces of evidence are presented on the weight of paper you might expect them to be on. A copy of a letter seems to be on copier paper. A newspaper insert seems to be on an appropriate weight paper. A letter with college letterhead is a nice heavy paper and there is even a map written on a coffee café napkin that is, you got it, an actual napkin. And these are just a few of the loving reproduced items tucked inside the pages.
While I may struggle with the ultimate endgame of S. I will never regret the purchase because it has made print exciting again. It has produced a good that eBooks can absolutely never duplicate. And it was long overdue. S. is a winner in every sense of the word. (less)
I wish I could give it 3.5 stars or that Goodreads rating system didn't place 3 stars as "I liked it".. and 4 stars as "I really liked it." ...
The Tr...moreI wish I could give it 3.5 stars or that Goodreads rating system didn't place 3 stars as "I liked it".. and 4 stars as "I really liked it." ...
The Troop was good. Mayebe even really good. In the acknowledgements Mr. Cutter indicates that he tried to walk in Steven King's footsteps and I'd say he did well. The book was at times disturbing and visceral to the point of almost having to set it down. For being a horror story there was the very troubling aspect of the story that could be real.
For all of the trouble that the man-made sickness brings to the small island, some of the biggest threats are there within the hearts of men themselves, or in this case boys. You have a cast of characters that are at once relatable if you know teenage boys at all. You have the alphas. You have the runt. The fat kid. The best friends forever. You even begin to care for some of these boys. I say only some because Mr. Cutter gave us some hard-nosed stubborn hard-to-love characters too. I’ll spare the gist of the story since that’s well established in whatever book store you’d pick up The Troop from. Instead I’ll just give you a few thoughts.
If you are squeamish or adverse to violence, avoid this book. It’s a really great scary story, but it is hard to read in parts. Animals are killed, for survival purposes. The repercussions of that life taken felt immediately honest. I remember shooting a field mouse as a boy and immediately being horrified by what I’d done. You’ll see boys make a decision, for a much better reason than me, but the response they display is exactly the same. Shock. Sadness. And wonder.
There is also violence against people. And it’s not all due to the sickness that comes to the island. The island serves as an opportunity for someone with a propensity for violence and hunger for torture to entertain those desire freely.
The Troop kept me guessing. What would come next? Who would be the next to go? Would anyone make it out alive? And just when you think you have some closure on the situation, you get to the final chapter. What’s to come?
If you like OLD Steven King books, the books that crowned him the master of horror, check out The Troop. It’s cut from a similar cloth. It’s at times hard to read, but it’s never tiresome. You may put it down only for your hearts sake.(less)
Buffy was one of my favorite shows and who isn't bummed when their favorite show leaves the air. Especially given the fact that it was on for seven se...moreBuffy was one of my favorite shows and who isn't bummed when their favorite show leaves the air. Especially given the fact that it was on for seven seasons. You get sort of attached. I've known Joss has been a part of the eight and ninth seasons for a while but I never got around to checking it out until now. I'm glad I did. The comics are a great continuation of the show. I can actually hear the words as if the actor was delivering them. Some of the illustrations are spot on and others are sketchy.. but overall, I think the first book is really well done. I'll be buying books 2-4.(less)
Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing is proof positive that Steven Luna is not a one-trick pony. His Joe Vampire books are paranormal (emphasis on the no...moreSongs from the Phenomenal Nothing is proof positive that Steven Luna is not a one-trick pony. His Joe Vampire books are paranormal (emphasis on the normal) books that mix mundane day to day tasks like office work with the unexpected challenges of life as a vampire. And boy is that Joe Vampire sarcastic. Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing is not. It’s sincere, heartfelt and while ‘Joe’ made you laugh, ‘Songs’ just might make you cry.
Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing is about 17-year-old Tyler Mills who lost his Mom six months ago. He lives at home with his father who stands in polar opposition of everything Tyler stands for. Tyler is a creative, musical prodigy with dreams of supporting himself on music. Dad is a practical, hard-working mechanic. Dad is roots, while Tyler is wings. It’s a water and oil combination that becomes combustible once Tyler discovers one of his late-mother’s journals with a secret that turns his world upside down and threaten to destroy what remains of his family.
Going much further into the book would only serve to spoil what are some pretty surprising revelations, so I’ll spare you that. What really stands out to me is how well Steven Luna writes a 17-year-old boy; with all of the attitude, frustrating certainty of the world, and piss and vinegar that 17-year-olds display. Tyler is at once likable and a bit of an asshole. He jumps to self-righteous conclusions and sometimes finds that he’s made mistakes that he’s reluctant to admit to anyone but himself. In short, his character flaws should be all too familiar to anyone who’s been there or is currently living with a teenager themselves.
Another thing that really comes to the surface is loss. Make no mistake, this is as much the story of Tyler’s loss of his mother as it is his coming to grips with what her secrets mean. In between the butting heads with his old man he must encounter and deal with this very fresh loss. There is a small part in this book that really kicks me in the gut having lost my dad just shy of two years ago.
“It feels like I’ve been broken and pushed back together in the wrong shape. Like there’ll always be something in me that doesn’t fit together the right way anymore.”
In some ways Ty’s journey is familiar to parts of my own. And that ability for a message within the book to transcend the story – revealing a truth – is what, in my opinion, makes a memorable read. This book is going to stay with me for a while.
Thanks Steven for sending me an advanced readers copy. I guess I’m supposed to disclose that I’ve been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I wasn’t asked to love it. I was only asked to read it and tell y’all what I think, and I have. I really enjoyed it. And I think you will too. (less)
The dumb white husbands awake to a ghoulish day two and manage to find some common ground. Unfortunately that common ground is soon soiled by some ver...moreThe dumb white husbands awake to a ghoulish day two and manage to find some common ground. Unfortunately that common ground is soon soiled by some very unexpected visitors. One Dumb White Husband will face the consequences of some bad past decisions. And you just know it's going to be funny as hell.(less)
Another solid Dumb White Husbands book. The Home Owners Association has forced the DWH's to join a bowling league to bond in hopes of making peace for...moreAnother solid Dumb White Husbands book. The Home Owners Association has forced the DWH's to join a bowling league to bond in hopes of making peace for the neighborhood. And all goes about as well as you'd expect with the DWH's until the walking dead begin lumbering around. Things get desperate when the dead get in and families go missing. Can the guys pull it together and work together for the common good? Probably not, but they'll at least poke, jab and jaw at each other until the situation is resolved.
If that doesn't sound like fun by itself, at least look at two unique zombie fighting tools: Peach Schnapps and A Garden Weasel. Sorry, Garden Badger. What good would those be? I guess you'll have to see for yourself. Wallace has done it again.
I guess there is some stupid rule about declaring freebies when leaving reviews? That being the case, I got this book free due to being a member of his newsletter. Freebie disclaimed.(less)