Monday, March 31, 2014

The Song of the Quarkbeast

17165902

Today’s post is on The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde. It is the second in his The Chronicles of Kazam. It is 289 pages long and it is published by Harcourt. The cover is a corner of an alley with a quarkbeast hiding behind a trash can. The intended reader is someone who has the first novel and loves stories told in new ways. There is no language, no sex, and no violence; just a great story for all. The story is told from the first person point of view from Jennifer the main character. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the book jacket- Long ago, magic began to fade, and the underemployed magicians of Kazam Mystical Arts Management have been forced to take any work their sixteen-year-old acting manager, Jennifer Strange, can scare up. But things are about to change. Magical power is finally on the rise, and King Snodd IV of the Ununited Kingdoms knows that he who controls magic controls everything. Only one person stands between Snodd and his plans for a magic-grab- and that’s Jennifer.
Yet even smart and sensible Jennifer would have trouble against these powers-that-be. The king and his cronies will do anything to succeed- including ordering a just-might0be-rigged contest between Kazam and iMagic, Kazam’s only competitor in the magic business. With underhanded shenanigans afoot, how can Kazam possible win?
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: Jennifer Strange will not relinquish the noble powers of magic without a fight.

Review- I love Fforde and this book is wonderful. Fforde is building to a big plot move but I am loving the journey. Jennifer is a great character. She is funny, witty, and very clever. And with the way things are in a Fforde book she needs to be. We get more about magic and how it works in second volume. The dialog is wonderful and that is what really stands out in story. With all the world building that he did in first novel that he pretty much does not do anymore with the exception of we get to see some of the Troll lands. We learn more about the Quarkbeasts.  There is just so much in this novel that I like. I cannot praise it enough. The characters are good, the setting is fun and unique, the dialog makes this novel for me, and the tone is funny. I cannot think of anything that I did not like about this book. If you have not read Jasper Fforde before try him today.

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fade to Black

15788822

Today’s post is on Fade to Black by Francis Knight. It is the first in her Rojan Dizon series. The book is 347 pages and is published by Orbit. The cover is a black cityscape with white at the top and a figure in red in the center. There is language, talk of sex and rape, and lots of violence in this book; adult readers for the best. The intended reader is someone who likes sword and sorcery, gritty urban fantasy, and anti-heroes. The story is told from the first person point of view of the main character Rojan. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- from the depths of a valley rises the city of Mahala. It’s a city built upward. Not across- where streets are built upon streets, buildings upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from the sunlit summit, and where the forsaken lurk in the darkness of Under.
Rojan Dizon doesn’t mind staying in the shadows in the shadows because he’s got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But when the fate of Mahala depends on him using his magic, he can’t hide forever.
Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And – unluckily for Rojan- this is going to hurt.

Review- Knight does something very interesting with this book and series. She creates a world that is both gritty urban fantasy and sword and sorcery. It is urban fantasy because of the setting. The setting is a miles tall city with the holy and the wealthy at the top and the poor and unluckily at the bottom. There is drugs, working girls, shadowy cops and Specials from the Ministry, and brawlers. It is sword and sorcery because of the magic and the fighting that happens. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Rojan is anti-hero and I love anti-heroes.  He does want to do what is right but he does not want to get killed. It starts out at him going to rescue his niece who has been kidnapped and taken somewhere that should not even exist. It goes from there when Rojan realized what is really going on in his city. I am curious to see what Knight is going to go with the series because of all the fallout from this first book. About the magic system- it is where pain can be used by mages to make things happen. For example Rojan uses his magic to find people. Another mage in the book uses his magic to read minds. The mages is what determines what the magic does. It took me awhile to understand the magic system so just trying to save any future readers time.

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hollow City



12396528
Today’s post is on Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It is 396 pages long and is published by Quirk books. The cover is a black and white picture with a little girl who has a big hole in the middle of her stomach. There is no sex, no language but violence in this book. The intended reader is young adult but adults can enjoy this series as well.  The story is told from the first person point of view of the main character Jacob. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- September 3, 1940. Ten Peculiar Children flee an army of deadly monsters. And only one person can help them- but she’s trapped in the body of a bird.
The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom.
Hollow City draws readers into a richly imagined world of telepathy and time loops, of sideshows and shape shifters- a world populated with adult “peculiars,” murderous wights, and a bizarre menagerie of uncanny animals. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one of a kind reading experience.

Review- I have been looking forward to this book for years and I was not disappointed. This volume is much faster than the first book so there is little character development.  It is fast action and world building. Riggs really pushes his skills into high gear for the world building. Jacob and the reader start getting a better idea about the Peculiar world at large . The pictures again help with the atmosphere and to get a better idea about what some the odder things in that world look like. At the heart this book is a journey story. Jacob and company are moving from place A to place B with all the troubles that entails. One thing I will warn about is that the chapters are very long but there are some breaks inside each to help manage the length.  I am very curious to see where Riggs is going with the story now and I am wondering if he is going to write a trilogy or longer. I think that this world has a lot of potential with a rich history that I would love to explore on its own. Either way I enjoyed this book and I recommend it and the first one highly.

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.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Golden City



17707612
Today’s post is on The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney. It is 373 pages long and is published ROC. The cover has the main character looking over shoulder dressed very nicely with the sea and a golden city in the background. There is some language, implied sex, and violence in this book; 16+ and up just to be safe. The intended reader is someone who likes urban fantasy, mysteries, and magic. The story is told in third person close from the point of view of the two main characters. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of The Golden City, reporting back to her people, the Sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores…
When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana survives because of her heritage, but she is forced to watch her only friend die.
Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira- police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.
Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone…

Review-  This book was just great. The setting, the characters, and the mystery were all very good. Cheney can make a scene shine. I know what The Golden City looks like. I want to roam around its streets and eat at the cafes. In addition I love the sea and all the stories about the creatures who live in and both main characters are from the sea. Oriana is a siren and Duilio is half selkie. They both have complicated lives with the sea and living in a pure human world that fears them both. The murders are cold blooded and the killer(s) are more than a little crazy. I so want Cheney to write more in this world. I want to see what happens now that the evil-doers plot was stopped. I want to know more the Sereia and their world. More than anything I want more of Oriana and Duilio. The only thing that I would like is for the dialog to be snappier. The dialog is not bad but it does not sparkle. 

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 and I will be buying it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love

18089976

Today’s nonfiction post is Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker. It is 233 pages long and is published by HarperCollins. It is told from the first person account of Wendy Ruderman with Laker’s thought and actions thrown in. The cover is a long view of Philadelphia at sunset. There is strong language, rape, and lots of violence in this book; 18 and up because of the content. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Although Busted reads like a thriller, the breath taking story it tells- of two journalists’ quest to unmask corrupt police officers and a warped justice system, the reported of which culminated in a Pulitzer Prize- is absolutely true. One afternoon in late 2008, a man walks into the offices of the local tabloid the Philadelphia Daily News and asks to speak with reporter Wendy Ruderman. An imminent casualty of the foundering print industry, the paper is on the brink of bankruptcy, and its anxious staff members are plagued with dwindling resources. But what Benny Martinez tells Wendy and her colleague Barbara Laker is too shocking to ignore; his career as a confidential informant for a member of the Philadelphia Police Department’s narcotics squad has drawn him into a horrifying web of corruption, and now he is afraid for his life.
The decision they make that day to believe Benny’s saga will lead to two journalists to uncover a truth darker than they could have imagined. Busted is Ruderman and Laker’s riveting account of their explosive investigation into the acts committed by rogue members of the narcotics squad. By dint of perseverance, ingenuity, and good old shoe-leather reporting, the women unravel a tapestry of lies almost six years in the making. Starting with a scheme to fabricate search warrants, the scandal soon encompasses the systematic, citywide looting of immigrant-owned businesses and allegations of brutal sexual assault.
The remarkable lengths Ruderman and Laker go to for the story- chasing down witnesses on the city’s grimmest streets, sifting through archive boxes and hours of surveillance tape for crucial clues, and coaxing reluctant victims to come forward- put their determination to balance motherhood with the career they love to the ultimate test. But when they produce a devastating series of articles that blows the lid off the scandal- prompting civil lawsuits against the city and the reexamination of hundreds of convictions (although none of the officers have been charged or convicted of any crime)- they not only win the fight for justice; they also win a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, an unthinkable achievement for two city reporters at a beleaguered regional paper.

Review- This was an eye-opening and riveting read. The amount of corruption that Ruderman and Laker find just by accident was overwhelming. Ruderman and Laker were just two reporters who wanted to find the next big story but then Benny Martinez comes to them with his story they got so much more. Ruderman and Laker have to fight with the cops, lawyers, the threat of losing their jobs, and still try to have some kind of life outside of the story. In the end they find out so much more than Martinez knew and they go after more than just one dirty cop. Dirty barely begins to cover what the cops in this book are. The cops lie, steal from innocent people, rape and sexually assaulting the women they can get alone, and covering it with disdain to both the public and the badge. The fact that the cops who did all of the above are still police officers in Philadelphia just makes it so much worse. Not one of the cops has done any time for their crimes and in fact are not only getting paychecks from the city but still getting all the perks of the job with overtime and benefits. Ruderman and Laker not only lay out the corruption in unit but they disclose for the reader the fact that every ten years from 1970 to present there has been corruption in the narcotics units in Philadelphia.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reached

13125947

Today’s post is on Reached by Ally Condie. It is the last in her Matched trilogy. It is 512 pages long and is published by Dutton. The cover is silver with Cassia in a red dress coming from a broken red sphere and the title is red. There is no sex, no language, and no violence in this book. The story is told from Cassia, Ky, and Xander’s points of view changing from chapter to chapter. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- All will be sorted. Cassia’s journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect fa├žade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.
The wait is over.
One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most- family, love, choice. Her quiet revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion.
With exquisite prose, the emotionally gripping conclusion to the international bestselling Matched trilogy returns Cassia, Ky, and Xander to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long, the power to choose.

Review- I really enjoyed this series. This series is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It is very slow to build. There are no action scenes like in other dystopian novels that are very popular right now. This series is more real I think. It is about three people choosing. The main characters are important to the overall plot but they are not the movers or shakers. Cassia does not lead or make others rebel against the Society. I think that the story is very natural. Most people in life do not lead the masses. They live their lives in quiet rebellion of whatever; just like Cassia, Ky, and Xander. Now this novel has more going on in it than the previous two but I think that it works. The Rising rebellion comes into full focus and all the choices made matter. I like the sense of peace of the end. Not everything is finished. People died and others are still missing but Cassia and the others have made peace with what has happened. I look forward to what Condie is going to write next.

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.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vicious

13638125

Today's post is on Vicious by V.E. Schwab. As far as I know and can tell this is a stand alone novel. It is 364 pages long and is published by TOR. The cover is red with the main character Victor over looking a the city of Merit. There is language, lots of violence but no sex on camera; just hinted at. The story is told from third person point of view moving from character to character. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Victor and Eli started out as college roommates- brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing hidden possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could actually gain extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis inevitable moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor is breaking out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other superpowered person he can find- aside from his own sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, spurred onward by the memory of betrayal and desperate longings, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge- but who will be left alive at the end?
V. E. Schwab's
Vicious is a riveting investigation on the nature of loyalty, the possibility of redemption, and an exploration of our darkest, most thrilling selves.

Review- I loved this book. It was so well written, with great characters, and it is a super hero story. This book could not be more for me if the author knew me personally and wrote it just for me (which she does not and sadly did not). One of the many things that I liked about this story was that there was no hero. There is an anti-Hero but Victor is gray at best like all good anti-Hero's. The villain is a real villain. He is killing people because he believes that he is doing God's work. The only thing I would liked to have is a stronger woman. The main female character is good but she is twelve. I liked her a lot but I do not think that most twelve-year-olds would read this and I think that is a good thing. There are some very adult issues and stuff in this book but it is not an adult story. By that I mean a twelve-year-old could read and be fine. I just do not think that most twelve-year-old kids would enjoy this book as much as an adult. This story is just amazing and if you like superhero stories then you need to read this one.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review, I borrowed this book from my local library but I will be buying for my own collection. Edit I have now bought and it is proudly on my book shelf.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

50 Children

18505779

Today’s nonfiction post is on 50 Children: One Ordinary’s American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany by Steven Pressman. It is 304 pages long including notes, bibliography, and a list of illustrations. It is published by HarperCollins. The cover has a picture of some of the children when they first see the statue of liberty. There is no language, no sex, and violence is only talked about in this book. The story is told from journals and interviews with the children and from the adult involved. The intended reader is someone who wants to read this very enlightening and uplifting story about a daring rescue against all the odds. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- In early 1939, America’s rigid immigration laws made it virtually impossible for European Jews to find safe haven in the United States. As deep-seated anti-Semitism and isolationism gripped much of the country, neither President Roosevelt nor Congress rallied to their aid.
Yet one brave Jewish couple from Philadelphia refused to stand by silently. Risking their own safety, Gilbert Kraus, a successful lawyer, and his stylish wife, Eleanor, traveled to Nazi-controlled Vienna and Berlin to save fifty Jewish children. Steven Pressman brought the Kraus’s rescue mission to life in his acclaimed HBO documentary 50 Children. In this book, he expands upon the story related in the hour-long film, offering additional historical detail and context to provide a rich, full portrait of this ordinary couple and their extraordinary actions,
Drawing from Eleanor Kraus’s unpublished memoir, rare historical documents, and interviews with more than dozen of the surviving children, and illustrated with period photographs, archival materials, and memorabilia, 50 Children is a remarkable tale of personal courage and triumphant heroism that offers a fresh, unique insight into a critical period of history.

Review- This was a moving and inspiring story about the bravery of a few people against the callous and cruel regime. Parts of this story are of course very disturbing and tragic but I think that this is a story of hope really. Hope that the individual can do something like safe innocent children from madness. The Kraus’s just wanted to do the right thing. They were not looking for public praise or fame. They wanted to help. The odds that the Kraus’s had to overcome to get to Germany for the very small chance that they could save some children were not in their favor. The Kraus’s then had to decide which of the thousands of children who needed to be saved. The Kraus’s had help from unexpected places and places where there should have been help there was none. But they never gave up. The Kraus’s never once stopped trying. I highly recommend this very moving book about helping where you can no matter the odds.

I give this book a Five out Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book for free in return for an honest review by Harper Collins.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Eternal Rider

8843801

Today's post is on Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione. It is the first in her Lords of Deliverance series. It is 402 pages long and is published by Grand Central. The cover has a man's torso in greyscale with the author's and title in light orange. There is sex, language, and violence in this book; 18 and up just to be safe. The story is told from third person close of the main characters. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- They're Here. They Ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Born of a match between good and evil, four siblings stand between hell's minions and everything they want to destroy. They are the Lords of Deliverance, and they have the power to ward off Doomsday... or let it ride...
His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.
Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't- or won't- understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both his Horseman's safety
and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.

Review- This was a fun read. I was looking for something fun and different; and this was it. If you like Paranormal Romance then you need to try this series. One thing that was different was no sex until about 2/3 of the book. The story does happen very quickly but the two main characters really talk. Not at first of course. At first they fight and yell and stuff but after that they talk. There is action, battle scenes, and over the top odds. I am looking forward to seeing where Ione is going to do with the other siblings. Especially with one needing redemption. Ione takes something so unsexy like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and make them fun and curious about how they are going to be saved. I thought the ending was a little much with Cerberus coming to save Cara's life but if I started thinking too much about any book I read I would not enjoy any of them. One thing that I truly enjoyed about this book was the descriptions of the landscapes. I really could see the places where stuff happened. I clearly envision the Greek Island where Ares lived or the hell realms where the fighting took place. Ione has a gift with that. All in all a solid and fun read.

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.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Crossed

15812814

Today's post is on Crossed by Ally Condie. It is the second in her Matched trilogy. It is 367 pages long and is published by Dutton. The cover has the main character Cassia breaking out of the bubble she is trapped in; the color scheme for this book is blue. The plot is told from the first person point of view of Cassia and Ky varying from chapter to chapter. There is no sex, no language, and only talk of violence in this book. The intended reader is young adult but if you read and like the first book then you should like this one too. There Be Spoilers Ahead.
 
From the dust jacket- Rules are different outside The Society. Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky- taken by the Society to his sure death- only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.
Narrated from Cassia's and Ky's points of view, this hotly anticipated sequel to
Matched will take them both to the edge of Society, where nothing is as expected and crosses and double crosses make their path more twisted than ever.
 
Review- I enjoyed book two as much as I did book one. I like the slow burn that Condie is doing with this trilogy. There is a lot of character growth in this book. Cassia is learning to see others not to sort them. She does sort people from time to time then she thinks about what she is doing. Cassia is thinking about what The Society wanted to make her into. I like that Cassia is thinking about why she is doing not just doing. Ky learns that to get the future that he wants he is going to have to change how he acts. In the first book Ky did everything to hide who and what he is. In this volume Ky has to survive and in order to do that Ky has to use both his skills and his brain. Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel/series is that I do not think that any of the characters are whiny. When something bad or unexpected happens Cassia and Ky just deal with it. They keep moving forward. They mourn the sad things and then they get up and keep going. I like that. But I think that the blurb for this book is a little deceiving. In my opinion there are no crosses and double crosses. Yes things like people dying unexpectedly happen but no betrayals.
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.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Doctor and The Dinosaurs

17737091

Today's post is on The Doctor and The Dinosaurs by Mike Resnick. It is fourth volume in his Weird West Tales and is published by PYR. It is 301 pages long; including nine appendixes. The cover has Doc Holliday looking cool with a T-Rex behind him. The intended reader is someone who has read the other books in this series and is older than about 13. There is language, violence, but no sex in this book. The story is told from third person close following Doc Holliday. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- The time is 1885, Doc Holliday lies in bed in a sanitarium in Leadville, Colorado, expecting to never leave his room again. But the great Apache medicine man Geronimo needs him for one last adventure. Renegade Comanche medicine men object to the newly signed treaty with Theodore Roosevelt, and they are venting their displeasure on two white men who are desecrating tribal territory in Wyoming. Geronimo must find a way to protect the two men or renege on his agreement with Roosevelt. He offers Doc one year of restored health in exchange for taking on this mission.
Doc leave the sanitarium and enters the world of American paleontology, a field that is being spearheaded by the brilliant Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two men whose genius is exceeded only by their hatred for each other. It is said that the third most important position on any dig sponsored by either of these independently wealthy giants is chief paleontologist. The second most important is the man who rides shotgun and holds the Indians at bay. And the most important is chief saboteur.
Now, with the aid of Theodore Roosevelt, Cole Younger, and Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday must save Cope and Marsh not only from the Comanches and living, breathing dinosaurs but also from each other... which won't be easy.

Review- I have read and loved every volume in this series. It is well written, great dialogue, and takes both the reader and Doc Holliday to places never seen before. I hope that Resnick writes more in this world but if he does not that is okay because he ended it a great place. Some people may not like the ending because it can be read as unclear but I loved it. Resnick left himself room to write more or not. I did like Dinosaur better than Rough Rider because we stay with Doc Holliday the whole time in this story. I like Roosevelt just fine but he is just not as interesting as Holliday. In my opinion that is because Roosevelt is a good man who care about others and himself. Holliday is a dying man who does not in general care about others. Holliday cares about some that is what makes the difference in the two characters. Holliday is the reason that I read this books and I think that is same for most people. Again the appendixes in the back of the book have interesting and useful information. I highly recommend this series and Resnick as an author.

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.