Friday, February 28, 2014



Today's post is on Matched by Ally Condie. It is the first in her Matched trilogy and is 366 pages long. It is published by Dutton Juvenile. The cover is gray with a girl in a green bubble pressing her hands on it. The intended reader is young adult but if you like dystopian stories then you will like this book. There is no sex, no language, and no violence in this book. The story is told from the first person perspective of the main character Cassia. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the book jacket- In the Society officials decide. Who you love, Where you work. When you die. Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one... until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no ones else has ever dared follow- between perfection and passion.Matched is a story for right now and story-telling with the resonance of a classic.

Review- I went into this story expecting one thing- a dystopian YA just like all the others in the market right now. That is not what I found. Matched is more like The Giver than Hunger Games and I love that. The story is slow to build. In terms of action not much happens but I liked the slow burn. Cassia slowly goes from happy Society dweller to someone who will not go gentle in that good night. The two love interests are both good characters and likeable. Xander is nice and understanding. Ky is trying to survive The Society but be himself. Both do things for Cassia's character over the course of the story. The character growth that happens is slow but it feels so natural. I believed in Cassia's changes because they were not over night. I liked that it took time for Cassia to see the cracks in her Society. She just did not wake up one morning and see everything wrong with the world. It took her time so that she could see more and more of the wrong. It took time for her to feel frustrated that she could not do anything to change it. If you are looking for a fast-paced, high action book this is not for you. But if you want something that is natural, interesting, and different from the fast-paced then you need to read this book.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To The Letter

Today’s nonfiction post is To The Letter by Simon Garfield.  It is 464 pages long including notes and index. It is published by Gotham Books.  The cover has the title on envelopes and the author name on a smart phone.  There is some language, talk of sexuality, and talk of violence but in none of that is very graphic. The intended reader is someone who likes nonfiction and history but Garfield is a very good writer so give him a try.  With some personal letters aside most the story is told from third person perspective. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Letters have the power to grant us a larger life. They reveal motivation and deepen understanding. They are evidential. They change lives, and they rewire history. The world once used to run upon their transmission- the lubricant of human interaction and free fall of ideas., the silent conduit of the worthy and the incidental, the time we were coming for dinner, the account of our marvelous day, the weightiest joys and sorrows of love. It must have seemed impossible that their worth would ever be taken for granted or swept aside. A world without letters would surely be a world without oxygen.
To The Letter is a celebration of the intrinsic integrity of letters, which is lacking from other forms of written communication, and of the rewards of letter writing as a practice that has dictated and tracked the progress of civilization for more than five hundred years. From Roman wood chips discovered near Hadrian’s Wall to the wonders and terrors of e-mail, Simon Garfield explores how we have written to one another over the centuries and what our letters reveal about lives. He considers the role that letters have played as a literary device in Shakespeare and the epistolary novel, and he delves into the great corresponders of our time- Cicero and Petrarch, Jane Austen and Ted Hughes ( and John Keats, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, Anais Nin, and Charles Schulz).
Throughout he uncovers a host of engaging stories, including the very particular advice by best-selling letter-writing manuals, the tricky history of the opening greeting, the ideal ingredients for invisible ink, and the sad saga of the dead letter office. As the book unfolds, so does the story of moving wartime correspondence that shows how letters can change the course of life.
At a time when the decline of letter writing appears to be irreversible, To The Letter is a rallying cry to put pen paper and create “a form of expression, emotion, and tactile delight we may clasp to our heart.”

Review- This is Simon Garfield’s new book and it is fantastic. It is funny, it is tragic, and above all it is human. From the humble beginnings of letter writing (mostly about who bought what and when) to the current age of instant contact Garfield takes the reader on quite a journey. Interspersed between the chapters is a real life love story that happened between letters in World War II. I love every minute of this book. The writing was so good, the research solid, and the little details that Garfield gives the reader just make the story within the story most special. One interesting thing that I learned while reading this book is that if you miss getting letters in the mail you can sign-up for a Letters-by-mail service for Five Dollars a month. You will get a hand written letter by someone famous once a month. You can write them back if you want. Here is a link to the website if you are interested- . So if you are lonely or just want a personal-like letter then Simon Garfield has the answer for you. 

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Doctor and The Rough Rider


Today's post is on The Doctor and The Rough Rider by Mike Resnick. It is the third in his Weird West Tales and is published by PYR. It is 302 pages long including six appendixes with additional information about the real people in the story. The intended reader is someone who has read the other books in the series, so if you want to read this book start with The Buntline Special. There is no sex in this book but language and violence like any good western no matter how weird; I think that older teens and adult would enjoy this series the most. The story is told in third person close moving from Doc Holliday to Theodore Roosevelt from one chapter to the next. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- It's August 19, 1884. The consumptive Doc Holliday is preparing to await his end in the sanitarium in Leadville, Colorado, when the medicine man Geronimo enlists him on a mission. The time the great chief has predicted has come, the one white man with whom he's willing to treat with has crossed the Mississippi and is heading to Tombstone- a young man name Theodore Roosevelt. The various tribes know that Geronimo is willing to end the spell that has kept the United Stated from expanding west of the Mississippi. In response, they have created a huge, monstrous medicine man named War Bonnet, whose function us to kill Roosevelt and Geronimo and keep the United States east of the river forever. And War Bonnet has enlisted the master shootist John Wesley Hardin.
So the battle lines are drawn: Roosevelt and Geronimo against the most powerful of the medicine men, a supernatural creature that seemingly nothing can harm; and Holliday against the man with more credited kills than any gunfighter in history. It does not promise to be a tranquil summer.

Review- I love this series. It is fun, funny, and so well written. In this chapter of Doc Holliday's weird adventures he has to share the spotlight with Roosevelt. That was the one thing that I did not like about this book. In all the other books the focus was purely on Holliday and I just loved his wit. But in this one the reader spends a lot of time with Roosevelt as the main character. He is okay. The writing is still solid but Roosevelt is very serious. He is not witty. He does not make clever little jokes about what is going on around him. He is, in comedy terms, a straight man. But that problem aside this is another strong book. Resnick does his steampunk with grace that I do not find anywhere else. I think that is because Resnick mostly lets it be magical. He does not bog down the reader with needless details about why or how things work. They just work. Just like Resnick's books; they just work.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dreams of Steam


Today's post is on Dreams of Steam edited by Kimberly Richardson. It is a short story anthology and is 246 pages long. The cover has a woman reading with a boiler behind her. The intended reader is someone who likes steampunk. There is language, talk of sex, and some violence in this anthology. Age 16 and up just to be safe. The stories go from third person close to first person from author to author. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- This is Steampunk! Travel back to a time when steam powered inventions ruled the land, water, and sky. It's a time of extraordinary contraptions and innovative ideas created by men and women who dared to ask the question, “What if ?”. Peer through the glazed window into a world long gone, but not forgotten. Make a cup of tea, find a comfortable chair, strap on your goggles, and be amazed at the power of steam!

Review- This is a pretty good anthology. Like all anthologies some stories were better than others but in my opinion there are only two weak stories of the seventeen offerings. The stories cover everything from airships flights to building mechanical limbs to replace the ones lost in war. Every flavor you could want in both steampunk and short stories. The poetry was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. My favorite story was For the Love of Steam by Missa Dixon. She writes from the perspective of a beloved dog Charlie. Charlie just wants his mommy to be happy again now that the war is over. She lost a leg in the war but she built herself a new one. So she ends up building new arms and legs for people who lost them in the war and Charlie gets a new Daddy. The thing that I really enjoyed about this story was how real the chracters were to me. You can feel how sad Charlie is for his mommy and how happy everything is at the end of the story. The story is so uplifting. Another favorite is In the Mountain Skies by Stephen Zimmer. It is about a man who goes from place to place stopping evil forces with his cat. Together they keep people safe from the things that go bump in the night. For this story it was the world that got me. Zimmer made it so clear and real to me. I believed in the monster and in the magic spring. If you are looking for a quick read or something steampunk or just something different try this one.

I give this anthology a Four out of Five Stars. I get nothing for this review and I bought this book with my own money.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographical Marks


Today's nonfiction post is Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston. It is 340 pages long including notes and recommended reading and is published by Norton. The cover is red with a Pilcrow casting a shadow with the title and author name in it. There is no sex, no language, and no violence in this book. The tone is scholarly so at times it can be difficult to read; it is told from third person. There Be Spoilers Ahead.
From the dust jacket- Every character we write or type is a link to the past. A charming and indispensable tour of two thousand years of the written word, Shady Characters weaves a fascinating trail across the parallel histories of language and typography.
Whether investigating the asterisk and dagger- which alternately illuminated and skewered heretical verses of the early Bible- or the @ sign, which languished in obscurity for centuries until rescued by the internet, Keith Houston draws on myriad sources to chart the life and times of these enigmatic squiggles, both exotic and everyday.
From the Library of Alexandria to the halls of Bell Labs, figures as diverse as Charlemagne, Vladmir Nabokov, and George W. Bush cross paths with marks as obscure as the interrobang and as divisive as the dash. Ancient Roman graffiti, Venetian trading shorthand, Cold War double agents, and Madison Avenue round out an ever more idiosyncratic set of episodes, characters, and artifacts.
Richly illustrated, ranging across time, typographies, and countries,
Shady Characters will delight and entertain all who cherish the unpredictable and surprising in the writing life.
Review- I enjoyed parts of this book hugely and I struggled to read others parts. That was because of the very scholarly tone of the book. The tone is not inappropriate but it made some chapters harder to read than others. But at times it makes the overall narrative drag. Some chapters like the one on the Interrobang were clever, funny, and very interesting. But then others like about the Dash were not. I think that part of the problem was I felt that Houston was going off on a tanget. With the Dash chapter he spends most the chapter talking about early typewriters. It was important to the Dash, sort of. But in the end I was glad to get back to the much more interesting story about how some punctuation marks started and have changed over the centuries. I loved when Houston was talking and explaining about punctuation was created and the people behind it. Those were the best chapters and parts of chapters in the book. This was in general a great read and I am curious to see where Houston is going next because I will read his next book.
I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Doctor and The Kid


Today’s post is on The Doctor and The Kid by Mike Resnisk. It is the second in his Weird West Tales series and is 322 pages long including appendixes with more information about the real life people and events. The cover has Doc Holliday with a cool Steampunk gun and a large wolf behind him. The intended reader is someone who loves Resnick, likes Steampunk, or just well written stories. As it the second book in a series you should read the first one just so you know what is going on. There is some language, talk of sex, and a good amount of violence in this book; young adult and up. The story is told from third person close of Doc Holliday. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- The time is 1882. With the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the battle with the thing that used to be Johnny Ringo behind him, the consumptive Doc Holliday makes his way to Leadville, Colorado, with Kate Elder, where he plans to spend the rest of his brief life, finally moving in to the luxurious facility that specialized in his disease.
But one night he gets a little too drunk- hardly a novelty for him- and loses everything he has at the gaming table. Doc realizes that he needs to replenish his bankroll, and quickly, so that he can live out his days in comfort under medical care. He considers his options and hits upon the one most likely to produce income in a hurry. He’ll use his skill as a shootist and turn bounty hunter.
The biggest reward is for the death of the young, twenty-year-old desperado known as Billy the Kid. It’s clear from the odds that Kid has faced and beaten, his miraculous escape from prison, and his friendship with the Southern Cheyenne, that he is protected by some powerful magic. Doc enlists the aid of both the magic of Geronimo and the science of Thomas Edison, and he goes out after his quarry. He will hunt the Kid down, and either kill him and claim the reward or die in the process and at least end his own suffering.
But as he is soon to find, nothing is as easy as it looks.

Review- This is just another wonderful piece by Resnick with interesting plot, expanding character development, and Steampunk goodness. Doc Holliday is still himself from the first book and I loved it. There is magic, great dialog, and exciting action. I want to know now if Billy the Kid was as much as a punk that Resnick makes him out to be. Resnick has made me interested in Wild West history something that I was not really interested in before. Maybe that is just the nature of good books to make you want to read more and be interested in things that you were not before. Resnick is in general a very strong writer but his dialog is hard to beat. So much about the characters is given to the reader in the conversations that they have. If for some reason that you still have not read Resnick and you read my blog/reviews you really need to read him. Resnick is one of the most talented genre writers of our time.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book as a gift.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dead Harvest


Today’s post is on Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm. It is 362 pages long and is the first in his The Collector series. The cover is blue and white with the main character collecting a soul in a stylized noir look. The story is told from first person perspective of the main character Sam. There is language, lots of violence, and no sex in this novel; 18 and up just to be safe. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- Sam Thornton collects souls. The souls of the damned, to be precise. Once collected himself, he’s now doomed to ferry souls to Hell for all eternity, in service of a debt he can never repay. But when he’s dispatched to collect the soul of a girl he believes is innocent, Sam does something no Collector has ever done before: he refuses.
A stunning mix of urban fantasy and noir-dark crime, Dead Harvest marks the debut of a fabulous new talent.

Review- This is a fun but not very original story. Sam is interesting and he makes the plot move as he deals with his past. The overall world is still pretty mysterious. You know that heaven and hell are in a stale-mate and both want to keep it that way. Sam works for hell because of something he did while he was living and he hates it and himself. One thing I want to see for the next book(s) is Sam forgiving himself. He did not know that he was dealing with a demon but he just cannot let it go. There are so many side characters that matter in this book that it can be a bit hard to keep up with. But if you stick with it you will a thrill ride of a tale. This novel does have a very gritty noir look and feel to it. Sam smokes and thinks about the past. The girl is innocent with very big bads coming for her and no one believes her in but Sam. Add in treacherous angels and powerful demons with some blues for back ground music and you have the mixing for an entertaining evening of reading.

I give this book a Four out of Five Stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Monday, February 10, 2014



Today’s post is on Goliath by Scott Westerfeld and illustrated by Keith Thompson. It is the last volume of his Leviathan trilogy. It is 543 pages long including an afterward. The cover has the two main characters on the cover looking heroically at the reader. The story is told from third person close moving from Deryn and Alek’s perspectives over the course of the story. There is no language, no sex, and some violence in this story. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant/maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath that can end the war. But whose side is he really on?
While on their top-secret mission, Alek finally discovers Deryn’s deeply kept secret, Two, actually. Not only is Deryn a girl disguised as a guy… she has feelings for Alek.
The crown, true love with a commoner, and the destruction of a great city all hang on Alek’s next- and final- move.
The thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, which was called “Sure to become a classic” (SLJ).

Review- This was a fantastic series. The adventure, the Steampunk, and the characters were just prefect. Alek and Deryn grow so much over the course of the series that they are new people. One thing that I think that Westerfeld would like is now I am interested in learning more about World War 1 because I do not know much about it. Westerfeld has given the world of Steampunk something so great in this series. In Goliath he brings everything to a very good close. I would like to see if he is going to write more with these characters or at least in this fascinating world. Westerfeld does so much world building over the three books and he never drops the ball once. I hope that he does more. The way that he moves from England to the Middle East and then to America over the course of the story feels very real. The reader feels as the characters move from place to place. Alek and Deryn really are the heart of the story and they are such great characters. I am sorry to be done with this series but I am so glad to have read it.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Stalking the Zombie


Today’s post is on Stalking the Zombie: Fables of Tonight by Mike Resnick. It is published by American Fantasy Press and 222 pages long. The cover has John Justin in his fedora with Felina behind looking very fierce. The intended reader is someone who has read the John Justin novels, loves urban fantasy and humor. This is a series of short stories written in-between the novels so it adds favor but nothing much to the core of the John Justin mythos. The stories are told from third person close of John Justin. There is no language, no sex, and all the violence is fun. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Stalking the Zombie collects all of Resnick’s short stories featuring his hard-boiled detective John Justin Mallory, a quick-witted, honest private investigator caught up in the intrigues of dangerous Manhattan, but it’s not our Manhattan (or his).
Mallory is stranded in an alternate reality populated with leprechauns, a Blue-Nosed Reindeer, frightened goblins, The Chinese Sandman, pink elephants (no, not that kind), Card Sharks, lamia eggs as well as the odd Zombie. If that wasn’t harrowing enough, there’s the powerful demon who rules the whole East Coast underworld, the Grundy, who has become Mallory’s sworn mortal enemy. Although that doesn’t stop the demon from helping the P.I. solve a case now and then when it’s in his interests, much to the chagrin of Mallory’s partner big game hunter Col. Winnifred Caruthers. And when Mallory needs some “muscle”, he enlists the help the his “office cat”, the irrepressible cat-woman Felina with the Very Sharp Claws.
Mike Resnick’s delight in writing these mysteries is infectious. His Mallory skewers classic fantasy menaces with a cool modern-day logic, all the while indulging in a long string of hilarious, biting retorts the resulting “fables of tonight” are quite addictive.

Review- I love John Justin Mallory stories. They are funny, witty, and just plain good. Some of the stories I have read before but most where new to me. Resnick give me what I wanted in this collection. More snarky dialog, more weird mysteries, and more Grundy. The stories go from right after John Justin is stuck in the other Manhattan to just after the last novel. So if you have read all the novels like I have then you will get all the jokes but if you are just starting in the John Justin world do not worry. You will get most of the jokes because Resnick is just poking fun at the urban fantasy genre. Another thing that I love about Resnick is how consistent he is with his characters. I love knowing that Felina is just waiting to abandon John Justin and that Winnifred will have her guns and hunting trolls to find whatever in that Manhattan. If you have never read Resnick that you need to start now.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book for a birthday present, Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dark Invasion: 1915 Germany's secret war against America


Today's nonfiction book is Dark Invasion: 1915 Germany's secret war against America by Howard Blum. It is 512 pages long including notes and index. It is published by HarperCollins. The story is told from journals, interviews, and recent conversations with the people involved to the silent author; it is third person close. There is language, talk of sex, and violence in this book. Because of content 16 and up just to be safe. The cover has a newspaper on it with the title and author name overlaid on it. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- When a “neutral” United States becomes a trading partner for the Allies early in World War 1, the Germans implement a secret plan to strike back. A team of saboteurs- including an expert of germ warfare, a Harvard professor, and a brilliant, debonair spymaster- devise a series of “mysterious accidents” using explosives and biological weapons to bring down vital targets such as ships, livestock, and even captains of industry such as J. P. Morgan.
The New York police inspector Tom Tunney, head of the department's bomb squad, is assigned the difficult mission of stopping these enemy agents. Assembling a team of loyal operatives, the cunning Irish Cop hunts for the conspirators among a population of more than eight million Germans. But the deeper he finds himself in this labyrinth of deception, the more Tunney realizes that the enemy's plan is far more complex and dangerous than he first suspected.
Full of drama and intensity, and illustrated with photographs throughout,
Dark Invasion is a riveting nonfiction war thriller that chillingly echoes our own time

Review- This book is fascinating and I just could not put it down. The overall plot is pretty simple. Stop America from entering the war. But the execution is so much more complicated. Germany sends and uses some smart people who in turn use dumb people to get the job done. This is the story about the first known Anti-America spy-ring and the first homeland security trying to find them. All of the people are interesting. Tunney is smart and determined to stop the deaths. The German's are just loyal followers to the Fatherland and everyone else is caught between them. The scope of Germany's plans to terrorize America is frightening. The will to serve and destroy is really scary. As I was reading all the things that happened I just kept thinking “Why wasn't I taught any of this in school?”. Because I knew nothing about it at all. If you want an eye-opening and exciting war read, I highly recommend this book.

I give this book a Five out of Five. I get nothing for this review and I was given this book as a free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 3, 2014



Today’s post is on Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld. It is the second in his Leviathan Trilogy and is 485 pages long including an afterward. The cover has Deryn on looking heroic with lightening and gears around her. The intended reader is young adult but anyone who likes alternate history will love this series. There is no language, no sex, but some violence nothing too intense. The story is told from the third person close of either Deryn or Alek. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.
Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan’s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.
Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

Review- This is a very strong second novel in a trilogy. Westerfeld is an experienced writer so there is no middle volume slump. Instead he ups the game into high gear. More secrets are exposed, more action, and of course more Steampunk. In the first volume it is about the fantastic creatures that the Darwinists make and are making but in Behemoth it is about all the Clanker technology. The only thing I wished for was I wanted to see or read the Behemoth described. That is really left up to the imagination when with a two page picture of it. In the picture you can see part of its head but mostly its teeth. Like the first volume the pictures make a wonderful addition to the story. They help give the background of scenes because, at least for me, as I was reading the scenes I was not getting a lot of detail about the world around the characters but the pictures help make that more real. I am about to start the last novel in the trilogy and I am so excited about it!

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my own money.