Latest Entries »

Fall Into Books 9/22

FIB-tear-jerker

I’m not a fan of tear jerkers. Not surprising I’m sure, but the best way to lose my interest in a book is to try and force me to have emotions. I don’t like when fiction tries to make me cry.

That isn’t to say that I dislike it when books evoke emotion, but I want that to be developed over time. Give me the group of companions that are built up throughout the book and we see them grow closer as they work together. Let me see them share their plans and dreams for the future. Then if some of those companions don’t make it to the end of the story chances are good I will have feelings over that, particularly if a character they were especially close to then makes a point to finish their quest. That I like. But it doesn’t work for me if that happens before I’ve gotten to know the characters and how they work together.

Similarly, doing something harmful to a minor minor character and having the protagonist or, worse yet, the love interest react like that was their best friend isn’t going to work for me. I need a reason to care beyond just being told I should.

That said, Brian Jacques’ Martin the Warrior legit made me cry at the end, not only the first time I read it, when I didn’t expect it. But also the next couple of times when I knew that character, arguably the deuteragonist at that, was going to bite it. He’d done a great job of building the character, making her central to the hero’s journey and the adventure at large and giving her a future to work towards even when Martin himself inevitably leaves so the rest of the series can happen. Then boom, a sudden moment in a pitched battle, and she’s gone.

It’s a scene that’s stuck with me since the last time I read the book in freshman year of high school. It’s also the scene that any other character death scene has to stand up too.

Advertisements

Fall Into Books 9/21

FIB-Bookmarks

I feel a little silly on this one, I’ve got like four of the very well made woodmark bookmarks from the Second Star Books boxes.

I use playing cards, a euchre deck only uses about half the deck after all.

Or the event cards from last Kami con, mostly the level one cards because I wound up with spares.

Or the art commission of Tracer and Emily I got  done at Magic City Con. That one I really like. I’ve laminated it and everything so it’ll last a good long while. I wish I’d thought to get the artist’s card so I could suggest her here.

But I seldom use things that were actually meant to be bookmarks as bookmarks.

I had a hard time writing this one. It gets minorly spoilery, due in part to the official blurb itself . This one’s thanks to netGalley for providing me a copy for review. Here’s Sean Grigsby’s Daughters of Forgotten Light. Enjoy!

Daughters of Forgotten Light cover

Oubliette, prison city, population: forgotten. Unwanted. Worthless. The women society doesn’t want. It’s been Lena Horror’s home for the past ten years. A flimsy truce keeps everyone from killing each other. Keeps the gangs mostly in line. At least, until something unexpected arrives in the quarterly supply drop. Back on Earth, Senator Linda Dolfuse has been ordered to find an excuse to wipe the prisoners off of Oubliette to allow good, honest citizens of the United Continent of North America a chance at a better future away from the frozen Earth and its endless war. Seems like a smooth enough job until she sees something on the drone footage that shouldn’t be there, the baby she’d given up.

This is one of those books that I started reading ready to love it. The concept of a prison world ruled by motorcycle gangs where unwanted and misbehaving women are sent to be forgotten, that’s something that has a lot of potential. Unfortunately the writing just doesn’t stand up to the concept.  Similarly, the Earth side portions, where corrupt politicians live big while their constituents are often forced to sell their children to Oubliette or the massive unending war just to survive, could have been fascinating. That concept could have carried a book on its own if it had been done well. It just doesn’t. And then, of course, we have the mess with the baby.

The baby thing bothers me, in part because it could have been done so much better, but largely because it lands the book with a bunch of hardened prisoners who all want this helpless kid for what feels like no reason. Each gang is only allowed six members and, even with the treaty keeping outright murder from happening, none of them should be willing to give up one of those slots for something that’s such a handicap against the other two gangs. Of course this means that all three gang leaders want the kid, because reasons? I keep coming back to that. I don’t want to say that they all want the baby because women, but it feels an awful lot like that. The cannibals want her, the all black gang wants her, and Horror wants her. Horror wants the kid mind, not the Daughters as a whole. It also isn’t even like the baby was a secret test and the drone was sent to see how the prisoners would react to her, the drone came way later in the book and existed just long enough to force the two stories together.

The time line is super vague. Three months pass between our introductory supply drop and the one the drone shows up on. That’s three months for both Senator Dolfuse on Earth and the prisoners on Oubliette, with it being repeatedly mentioned that there is nothing to do on Oubliette except fighting or having sex. Three months where Horror and the Daughters of Forgotten Light seemingly do nothing except get their new member, Sarah, her motorcycle and her weapon. Then it’s like Horror remembers that the cannibals have that baby she wanted and she’d been itching to break the truce her mentor set up anyway, let’s go take the kid despite having not prepared for a fight at all.

The worst of this is, the three month gap was taken up with Senator Dolfuse’s adventures in ill defined guilt and getting the drone on the shipment. She’s probably the single character we spend the most time with, but she feels way less important than the others. The Earth bits would have probably served better as shorter segments that attempted less with the world building, as is, they just felt like they dragged on forever without showing anything for it. It could have been great to see Dolfuse checking in more actively with the Vice President, or having her interact with characters that are against shipping, showing her growing awareness and how she changes as a result. That could have been aces.

If we had seen any character development, that would have been great. Most of the women on Oubliette are terribly static, which isn’t helped by the vague timeline because there isn’t really anything for them to grow from. Horror we see being aggressive and murdery, but it feels empty because she’s just like that, either ready for violence or ignoring everything because baby. The new girl goes from being afraid of everything, including the other Daughters, to being jaded and nearly as violent as Horror in the space of something like three paragraphs. She gets what feels like way too much page space talking about how Oubliette has taught her not to trust anyone when we don’t see Oubliette teaching her not to trust. It doesn’t work, especially given that early on Sarah feels like she’s meant to be the reader’s view point into the workings of Oubliette, and we never really get that either.

Even leaving aside the character issues, the world building really isn’t there for me on this one either. There are so many things that feel like they need explanations that just get breezed by. Why are only men sent to the army? Why wasn’t an eye already being kept on Oubliette to make sure that they weren’t just dropping prisoners into an airless void? Why not provide something for the women on Oubliette to do with their lifetime of being stuck in the middle of nowhere? How can the UCNA afford to ship these women to space and fight this massive war, but then food is horribly scarce and the average citizen is in real trouble of needing to sell one of their kids to survive? It’s all very forced feeling, things need to happen so that the plot can exist, but they can’t be gone into deeply enough to feel solid because reasons. I really feels like the author was trying to fit two or three books worth of information and ideas into half a plot.

Daughters of Forgotten Light is a book that I really, really wanted to like. I was excited to start it despite the baby thing in the blurb. I mean, really, space motorcycle gangs and a plot from Earth to wipe them out, that falls right in my wheel house. It just didn’t have nearly enough substance to it, everything felt half done and under baked with a rush to the end that leaves neither a satisfying conclusion nor the possibility of a next time. There were a lot of cool ideas. But then they felt wasted when nothing came of them. I finished the book not caring if anything changed for the better, if anything changed at all. I feel like Sean Grigsby could be a really decent author with a couple more books under his belt and a better feel for character and flow. After this, I’m not likely to be there for it though. Daughters of Forgotten Light gets a one out of five.

Fall Into Books 9/20

FIB-TBR

My TBR list is massive and unfortunate. If all the books on it were print editions I could likely fence in my apartment building with it and still have a few books left over. That being said, I think my most immediate TBR books, not directly related to the blog at least, are Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway and her latest Ghost Stories novel The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

I’ve been looking forward to Every Heart a Doorway since I was half way through Down Among the Sticks and Bones, the second book made me want to know more about the setting and what had come before. I have ideas of what’s going to happen thanks to the third book, Beneath the Sugar Sky, but I’m also enjoying the series enough that I want to dig in to it more. Plus the next one’s coming out in January and I want to be ready for it.

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is something of another beast entirely. Not just because it comes from a different series but also because the book that preceded it, Sparrow Hill Road, is both a ghost story and sort of a series to itself. Sparrow Hill Road was initially a set of short stories all featuring Rose Marshall, the Phantom Prom Date, as the lead character. So each chapter is a self contained story within a story. It leaves me really curious as to whether The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is going to follow that pattern or be a more straightforward novel. That and I want to see where the road takes Rose next.

I’ve also got the remaining Please Don’t Tell My Parents novels that I want to get read, so two and a half books there. I’m really enjoying the third one, Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Have Henchmen, so I’m sort of expecting to be finished reading it by the end of the week or sooner.

And, of course, there’s all those books I’ve gotten for review through netGalley.

It’s a long list.

 

I’ve been sitting on saying this, because it was one of the things that was stressing me out, but here recently I took the Jones-cat to the vet for her yearly shots and to make sure all systems were go. There was a concern before that that her heart might not be working right. I’m happy to say that, in addition to the very healthy lungs and teeth she was more than glad to show the vet, everything is good. She’s a healthy kitty.

Not that that totally belonged here, but still. Past that, I’m running slow this week both on regular stuff and also on things for the challenge. I should be back on track for both by Friday, I’m planning the review for then. It’s a bit of a mess just now, I know where I’m going with it but I also keep spinning off on side thoughts. I need to rein it in a bit.

Not a lot to talk about beyond that.

The Survive blog tour is still running, so give that a check. You can find the links to the other blogs involved here.

Standard stuff then. If you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. I’m kind of in shouting at the void mode here with the challenge. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. Anything from that is currently going to a replacement video camera for attempting blog related bookish videos. In either and any case, have a good evening and enjoy!

Survive Blog Tour

Hey all, the house keeping post is going to be a bit postponed this week. Today, I’m happy to host my stop on the Survive blog tour and with it a guest post from the author, Stephen Llewelyn. He’s going to talk about one of his protagonists here, so I’ll give him the board. Enjoy!

Survive

Hi Lauren,

Thank you for your interest in my book.

Five things about Tim

There are three main protagonists in ‘Survive’, Captain James Douglas, Commander Jill Baines and Tim Norris.

I have chosen to write about Tim as he is a complete outsider; he is young, has no power or reputation but soon finds himself in a position of trust and importance well beyond his years.

Love of natural history and dinosaurs

Rather obvious this one. Tim and I share a wide-eyed wonder of how everything works, so from that perspective at least, I see some of myself in Tim.

Resilience

Starting at the beginning, Tim Norris is a sixteen year old school leaver. Orphaned at the age of two, he was fortunate enough to be adopted by a young couple, Drs Ted and Patricia Norris, both low earning scientists. Tim’s adoptive father was a metallurgist with a fascination for the history of life on Earth. He shared this passion closely with Tim for the next ten, fairly happy years. Unfortunately, Tim then lost the only father he had ever known to an industrial accident at the age of twelve. This heartbreaking disaster made the world a much darker and lonelier place for Tim and Patricia and because of it he becomes at once closer to his mother and more introverted. Eventually, Patricia, through hard work and dedication, wins a placement on the Mars Mission. Tim follows her career avidly, so that he can share fully in the life of the only person he has left. He encourages her to take the position, so that they can leave all the pain and overcrowding behind to be part of something vital and exciting. They leave Earth full of hope, but a terrorist attack directs their hopeful future into a terrifying past. During the journey back to Earth, Tim has a long heart to heart conversation with another teenager onboard named Rose. He explains how the loss of his parents and later, his adoptive father, have affected him. From this it is clear to see how and why someone so young could become pessimistic. However, Tim is not ruled by pessimism. Despite being poor and, it has to be said, unlucky with most of his parents, he knows he is blessed with his adoptive mum. Furthermore, it may well be a catastrophe which sends the USS New World back in time, but Tim wouldn’t have it any other way…

Intelligence and awkwardness

Tim has exceptional amounts of both, although new friends help him to slowly overcome the latter with varying levels of success. His brilliant mind becomes a resource aboard the New World as Tim spearheads a ‘Cretaceous Living’ educational programme to help people to adapt to their new reality. It is, of course, all too easy to build a protagonist who is brilliant at everything; Tim on the other hand, is not physically impressive or cool in any way. In fact, he is fairly hopeless in some respects, social awkwardness to name but one. Girls send him into a blushing panic and throughout the book he has to learn how to have friends because it’s all new to him. As for romance, I believe that any man who reads the appropriate passage within the book will be reminded of the first time he ever put his arm around a girl and, depending on how well it went, will either smile ruefully at the memory or put his head in a bucket! Tim’s lack of confidence is probably not helped by his new best friend, Woodsey; who has far too much. Aside from being accused of speaking like a textbook – textbooks being his only friends up to this point – Tim also has the misfortune of being spotted by Woodsey on both occasions where he realises that he likes a girl and just maybe one might like him too.

Courage

Tim’s poor start may have made him a little pessimistic and lacking in confidence but when it really matters he is most certainly no coward. Just speaking out in a room full of adults and very senior staff takes enormous courage for this young man. Tim had made a career out of being unnoticeable at school, and he finds it hard to push himself still. However, it just so happens that with the new reality the crew are thrown into, Tim’s knowledge and even opinions become very important to everyone. Although he feels and is very junior, when the ship is in peril just before the New World attempts to land on the old world, the very old world, Tim refuses to hide away from the action. He will not be separated from his mum, although who is looking after whom becomes a little blurry.

Humility

What has always been a hobby, albeit a passionate one, for Tim is now serious currency aboard the USS New World. As the only person with the slightest inkling about what the crew will face when/if they manage to land safely, Tim very quickly comes to the notice of the senior staff. Suddenly he is included in meetings and decision making processes beyond anything he could have dreamed of. Even his young contemporaries are genuinely interested in what he knows and keep up a constant barrage of questions, banter and playful insults. This new ‘rock stardom’ could easily turn a young lad’s head, but Tim has known so much loss in his young life that he remains grounded and enjoys his new standing with surprising humility and gratitude. However, he is a teenager and so with a little help from his new friends, he still manages to find trouble. For years it was just Tim and Patricia and they have a close and touching relationship; as with his adoptive father, she is the only mother he has ever known. This places her in an ideal position throughout the book to berate him for getting into trouble with Woodsey and to destroy his teenage world by attempting to proudly hold his hand when he tries to speak up in a meeting!

stephen-llewelyn

Author Information

Originally from Dudley in the West Midlands, Stephen Llewelyn works in construction.  Years spent digging into the foundations of ancient buildings, steeped in a vivid sense of the past, inspired his research into palaeontology and, in turn, shaped his inventive science fiction trilogy.  Llewelyn lives with his wife and their four dogs in the mountains of Snowdonia, North Wales.  The cover design for Survive features a line drawing of a Giganotosaurus skull by Hannah Armstrong, a young artist who died in tragic circumstances; Llewelyn plans to donate a percentage of royalties from the sale of Survive to the charity, MIND, in Hannah’s memory.

Website: http://www.stephenllewelyn.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.llewelyn.142

Fall Into Books 9/15

FIB-debut-author

So, this is one I kind of have to cheat on. There isn’t really a favorite book by a debut author I can think of just now, but I do have a debut novel that I’m really excited to read. It’s the relaunch of a series I grew up with so, even though I would usually avoid talking about stuff related to the original author due to her stance on fan fiction, I am super excited for this one and really want to see what her daughter is going to do with the books here and going forward.

Dragons Code

Check it out! New Dragon Riders of Pern novel coming out next month. This is the book that middle school me would have would have 404ed at the idea of getting to read early. Adult me is also more than ready to dig in.

This came out later than planned. This one’s thanks to the awesome folks at Curiosity Quills Press. Here’s Richard Roberts’ Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon. Enjoy!

Please Dont Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon cover

Bad Penny and the rest of the Implacable Machine are bored out of their minds. Going back to school after a break full of super villainy and fighting heroes both their own age and grown up will do that. So of course they jump at the chance to visit Jupiter and see things no human has before. No human except the ones who already live there. With a homemade space ship and the help of a giant spider the Implacable Machine will see everything from alien invaders to robot overlords and the colonies trapped between them. With any luck, they’ll be able to help the rebels and their new friend get their homes back and be on their way towards heroism.

Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon follows Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Super Villain pretty directly with the Implacable Machine trying to settle back into day to day school lives. It’s got a really strong start there, giving the reader a taste of how dull things are after Penny and company have gone toe to toe with some of the best of the best but then have to go back to being just kids. It gives the reader one of a number of good reasons why the team is so ready to take up Spider’s offer to see what lies beyond the asteroid belt first hand. But it also pulls back a little to anchor things back in the reality of the setting, which is good because the book goes way out there.

This one feels a lot slower than the previous book, largely due to the necessity of doing all the world building for the Puppeteers and the Jupiter colonies and, and, and. This is unfortunate because it slows the book down just enough that it makes it easy to put down. There are all these places being introduced and their rules and culture and it leads to things feeling a little flat. The Puppeteers are scary aliens that can take over people and force them to do whatever. One of the colonies is very steam punk flavored and people are constantly being told what to do by the automatons that functionally rule the place. It feels sketched out but not quite filled in.

There’s a similar problem with some of the characterization. The new friend character bounces between being totally cool with Penny’s powers and how they work and then freaked out about it and jealous over how her brothers and everyone else react to Penny’s power. It’s like a switch flips when Roberts felt the situation demanded it. It doesn’t tend to feel like it fits, like there should have been more build for it and more awareness on Penny’s part. The final boss of the novel has a similar issue, though I can’t really go into that without spoilers.

There are parts that are a ton of fun, especially early on before they reach the Jupiter colonies. The whole bit surrounding the Red Herring being built is a lot of fun. Plus the little bits of Penny and company in class and their classmates’ reactions to Penny’s power manifesting make for a couple of nice notes that what she’s got going on is out of the ordinary. I’m also interested in seeing how the workings of her power continue to develop, given the way Mourning Dove reacts to it and how much it seems to be capable of when given free reign. I’m really excited to see more of all that as the series continues.

As and over all thing, I enjoyed Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Super Villain more than Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon. While both needed world building it flowed much better for me in the first book, likely due to being set in our world but with supers.  I would have liked to see more put into the new characters introduced, but I feel like at least a couple of them are going to show up again later, so it seems pretty reasonable that they would get more development then. Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon is nowhere near a bad book though and I am very much looking forward to reading the next one, so it gets a three out of five.

Fall Into Books 9/14

 

FIB-Jumping-Genres.jpg

What do I even read outside of sci-fi/fantasy anymore?

I’ve got a fair stack of romance novels featuring cute girls falling for each other that I want to get to at some point. But I keep putting those off for things that I’ve been sent to review.

That said, Kate McLay’s The Housing Crisis still stands out as being a really cute story. It’s a book that I would read again given the time. The characters were cute and I liked their interactions. The romance could have been given more time to develop, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. There’s really not a lot that I’d say here that I haven’t already.

I’d definitely read more romances by McLay though.

Fall Into Books 9/13

FIB-Cover-Love

I don’t have a good intro to this one, so let’s just jump into it. What are some book covers I really enjoy? Let’s do a top five, plus one for a book I’m really excited for. These aren’t in any particular order save for that extra one.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones cover

One of the big things I dig about the cover for Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the combination of the chest that Jack and Jill enter the Moors through and the Moors itself. Everything is very grey and stony except for the light coming from the chest, from the other side of the door. It says a lot about the world we’re going to.

your-favorite-band-cannot-save-you-cover

I don’t have a real reason for this one. Just something about the lighting and colors and just that little bit of wrong in the face. I like the bit of other worldliness it has.

Issue 1 What Dreams May Come pt 1. cover

This one might be cheating a little, since this is for a comic issue rather than a full on book. But it still gets a place here because I want a poster of this to go over my entertainment center. Special note to the ghosts in the margins, especially the one losing her head in the corner.

Meddling Kids cover

Look what’s showing up again! Seriously though, the cover gets me because it feels very like the title card for one of the old Scooby Doo shows. It’s very shaped like itself, with excellent use of the limited pallet and the use of the moon as a frame for the title detectives. It’s just really nifty.

Weavers Folly cover

Full disclosure, this one is entirely because of the wild hair and glowing tattoo. The color and lighting are dynamic. I like the way Lysistrata is cast in shadow. But the rock star vibe to it is what wins me over.

And, lastly but not leastly, number six for the book that hasn’t come out yet.

Kingdom of Needle and Bone

The sketchy quality on this is fantastic. The cells in the background, the needle full of what looks like blood, and the shift from flesh and bone to skull, all of those are good. But the contemplation on the flesh half of her face makes it for me. I was ready to ask to review this book before I noticed the author’s name or read the blurb just based on the impact of the cover.