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So I Fell Off the World

Being gone since the first has not been intentional, as you all may have guessed. I’ve fallen into something of a weird place with reading where I’ve read several books and loads and loads of fanfic, and then just haven’t gotten around to wording about it. At least, I haven’t gotten around to wording about it online. I’m rather certain my roommates are tired of hearing about how fantastic that one fic is or how that novella could have done so much better if.

I’m going to work on fixing that, so you can all share in their torment.

Add on to that, I feel like I want to do a break down of the Fear Street Saga trilogy some time. Not another review mind, that would be a bit odd, just another going over going deeper into some of the issues I had with the books. Sort of a “I mentioned this but” thing.

Also, the Arcanium Unbounded review is still coming. So’s Christmas, but hey. My goal is to have that up within the week, so if I’m gone for another twenty days that’s what’s up.

Happy New Year

And after being gone for some time, I return to both my home and blogging. I’m hoping everyone has had a happy holidays, I certainly did. Family was great, haunts calmed down a bit, tiny monster was cuddly, general things. But now it’s a new year and time for new things and getting back on track.

This shouldn’t be much of a problem and, if it is, I will make it not much of a problem. Arcanum Unbounded is being enjoyable so far, I didn’t get as far into it as I would have liked but there you go.

There’s not a lot coming up soon beyond reviews, so if anyone has a suggestion I’m up for rambling about other forms of storytelling. There’s actually a couple posts I kind of want to write, but that I’m worried feel like retreading too much. Those may go up if I can find a way to write them that works for me for the blog. It’s mostly more about the Fear Street Saga and the short cuts used in service to the plot there and also more about Tracer’s girlfriend Emily and my feelings on her and how she could fit into the world for Overwatch. That second one’s going to have a fair amount to do with other fandoms I’ve been a part of in the past and fan reaction kind of stuff. I think it could be interesting but, my massive bias aside, I’m trying to patch together my whats and whys without just posting a plot skeleton for my own fanfic kinda deal.

So, yeah, if you want to see me ramble about stuff that isn’t directly books more or if you just want me to get back to reviewing already, let me know in the comments.

Something About a Girl

So, yesterday’s new Overwatch comic, Reflections, revealed that the series mascot Tracer is in a relationship with another woman. This is huge for a number of reasons, mostly related to how big the game is and that she is one of the more popular characters in it, but also because of how it was presented. Spoilers?

I’m kind of stalling on things to say here because a ton has already been said about this, but the big thing is that the comic itself doesn’t make a huge deal of it’s reveal. Tracer gets home, talks to someone off screen, oh hey off screen person is a girl. Then there’s a minor misunderstanding that turns out for the best, because plot contrivance, and they kiss. It’s a small moment in the comic, a series of them actually, but it makes a pretty massive impact because of what it is. And I think that’s the big thing here, Tracer being gay isn’t treated as an out of nowhere thing that shocks everyone in world, it’s a small moment at home and then on to the rest of the comic. Plus, since Emily seems pretty comfortable around Winston, the series resident PHD. gorilla, we can assume that this isn’t a new thing to anyone. Which is good.

Blizard has been teasing LGBT characters since forever, which takes a little omph out of it, but it’s also really good to see them not only making good on that but doing it in such a big way. I’ve got to repeat, Tracer is the face of Overwatch, the mascot, she’s been around since the announcement trailer. She’s the last character I would have expected, while also being one of the ones I really hoped for.

I am really hoping they do more with Emily as a character, preferably either making her playable some time down the road or having her show up a bit more in the lore. It’s nice that she exists, but I’m a little worried about what happens once the initial rush of excitement fades. Which makes this one of those places where I’m trying to put my pop culture expectations aside and just be happy about the reveal. Because when one of my co-workers told me about it, I about floated through the rest of my shift.

So, as the pun goes. Cheers love, the Calvary’s queer!

Radio Silence is Golden

Right, so as of today I am down to one job and getting stuff ready for the holidays. That means I should be able to end my mini pause and actually start posting again. That’s not going to mean much just now, I haven’t really gotten a chance to read anything in the last three or so weeks, but it means I can start going again.

General stuff, the next actual review is going to be Arcanum Unbounded, which should be awesome. The cat’s been loud and clingy because I’m back and she missed me, it is both cute and sad. Also, the house spooks keep stealing one of the roommate’s sodas, it’s weird but hey, these things happen.

As always, feel free to comment on, pretty well whatever this time, maybe books you’re excited for in the coming year.

A Thing and An Apology

So, hey, I’m behind on reviews again and it’s looking like it’s going to stay that way for the next couple weeks. I got a second job, so all my time has been work or sleep. I’ve been pretty dead on all my spare time stuff, but I figured I could at least write this so you guys would know what was up and that I hadn’t just blinked away on you.

If I get the chance, I’m going to write up a couple of the comic book reviews I’d mentioned a while back. It’s not a full on thing, but it’s something that I could put up to fill the empty space. Then, if it’s a thing that’s enjoyed, I could keep doing those every now and then.

Sorry everyone.

Vanishing Girls

Just like me, I’m late posting this, only a day this time though. This is kind of an older book I’m reviewing today, sent to me by the publisher for an honest review. It took me forever to get done because I wasn’t having any time of it getting my words down. All that said, enjoy and have a happy Thanksgiving!

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Nick and her younger sister Dara used to be best friends, completely inseparable. That was then, before Dara kissed Parker. Before the accident. Nick hasn’t seen her sister since last summer and, if Dara has her way, it looks like it’ll be longer still before she does. But she’s got a job at the local amusement park to deal with and a friendship with Parker to try and patch up. It would be better if her sister would talk to her, but she’ll have to make do.

Vanishing Girls is the first Lauren Oliver book I’ve read, though I had heard of her before. I’m honestly not entirely sure how I feel about it, so this may go a little long. This is also going to be really spoilery because of the way the book and its official description have next to nothing to do with each other, also that talking about the twist is impossible without spoilers. So spoiler alert.

Our protagonists here are Nick, who’s been gone for a year living with her father, and Dara, her younger sister who used to be beautiful but is now horribly scarred by the car accident they were both in last summer. She blames Nick and refuses to so much as be in the same room with her. Nick gets most of the screen time here while Dara gets a few chapters to foreshadow the big twist and show the reader what a bad girl she is.

I lost interest in Nick pretty quickly, she has some promising moments, but the friendship with Parker felt super cringe worthy and they danced around their mutual attraction way too much. Dara wasn’t much better, the rebellious sister to Nick’s perfect daughter, the bad girl who got into partying with much older guys and wound up doing porn as a result. The side characters, particularly Alice, were much better written in a lot of ways and tended to feel more three dimensional. That might have been a less is more thing though, none of them got a lot of screen time.

The big twist, and the scenes immediately preceding it, is where the book lost me though. The plot doesn’t really start until past the half way mark, probably closer to the two thirds mark, so when it hits it feels really rushed. Kind of like the author was reaching her page count and needed to tie it all together so she could spring her big twist and reveal all. That just doesn’t work for me. We get that Dara is the trouble sister, that she acts out to get attention because she feels left out, but then we get this child porn ring plot nearly out of nowhere and Nick rushes off to save her sister from the thing. The possibility of this plot was only mentioned in some of the mini chapters that were formatted to read like an internet comments section in relation to the little missing girl sub plot that the book really didn’t seem to care about. It just doesn’t work. Then of course, we get to the twist and it’s just anti-climactic and weak.

This is the cornerstone of the whole book, the thing that this entire novel is written in service to. The twist hits at the height of the action and just kills all the momentum. So, spoiler alert again, but this whole time Dara’s been dead and Nick has trauma induced dissociative identity disorder and has been alternating between being herself and being Dara throughout the novel. Reading Vanishing Girls the first time through the foreshadowing for the reveal just wasn’t there. It took sitting around after finishing the book to start seeing hints. That combined with the momentum halting way the twist was introduced made it feel very, “surprise, she’s crazy!” To my mind at least, that means the twist was just not worth it. Better lead up would have helped, as it stands it feels very tacked on despite being the central key to the entire novel.

So, all that said, where does Vanishing Girls land? The book has good bones, they just weren’t filled in very well and it reads like a couple of them were shoved back in at the last moment. Some of the side characters are fantastic, which only serves to make the main characters that much more lack luster. I also take issue with the big twist being that the main character isn’t sane, that feels like a really outdated thing to use as the big twist and, again, it wasn’t pulled off well enough to justify itself. That said, I actually kind of enjoyed my initial reading of the book, kind of a turn off your brain thing. So, while I don’t know that it earns it, I’m giving it a three out of five.

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Hello everyone. I’ve got a guest post or from the author of The Bad Boy Bargain. This is actually part of a blog tour, so if you’re interested, check out the other blogs on the tour. Enjoy!

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How a Song Launched an Entire Book

 

I find inspiration for books in a lot of places, but The Bad Boy Bargain was probably the most unusual. Last year, when she heard “Please” by Sawyer Fredericks (from The Voice), my editor, Heather Howland, had an idea for a new YA romance. She posted her thoughts on Twitter—shy guy with a tough shell—and said she wished someone would write it. When I asked when she wanted the manuscript, teasing but also dead serious, we started plotting.

 

“Please” tells the story of a young man who’s found a near-perfect girl, one he thinks he loves, but he’s lying to her at the same time. He’s scared to tell this near-perfect girl the truth about himself because he’s worried she’ll let him go. It’s a song about love and fear, giving and selfishness, longing and despair. All those themes show up in The Bad Boy Bargain, which lends some extra complexity to Kyle beyond the typical bad boy. He’s a guy full of secrets, pain, and shame, but he reallywants someone to see through all of that and love the true Kyle. The working title of the book was called Keeping Faith—because he wants to keep Faith, but needs more faith in himself.

 

As for Faith herself, she’s been mistreated by one guy and has some reservations about being hurt again. The difference between Faith and Kyle is that she’s willing to continue to look for The One even though she’s been burned. She believes in true love, acting with kindness, and being her real self. She suffers from a lack of confidence and self doubt, and Kyle helps her get past that, especially when she struggles with a dance partner who refuses to do his part. Having him in her life restores her faith in love, and in herself.

 

Overall, this story is about two people finding each other and connecting in a way that allows them to be true with each other.

Not a ton to say here. Thanks to the nice folks at Crown Books, I’ve got a review of the final book in the Thrones and Bones trilogy for you. Enjoy!

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Thianna and Karn have lost the Horn of Osius, key to controlling the wyvern and all dragon kind. To keep its power from being misused they’ll have to journey to Thica, the country Thianna’s mother fled years ago, and face down an entire empire. They won’t be alone though. A battle is brewing that will determine the very fate of the empire and, possibly, our heroes as well.

Thrones and Bones: Skyborn by Lou Anders is definitely an interesting read, and a fun one as well. It builds on the previous books well. It has higher stakes, as benefits the last book in the series. It still keeps its balance between Thianna and Karn really well while expanding the cast as well.

So, with the first two books in the trilogy I had a lot of the problems I tend to with most kids or young readers’ books I review. The first one was very black and white in its morality, the heroes were good because they were the heroes and the villains were evil because they were the villains. The second book did better, but still projected its eleventh hour new hero pretty hard. That’s standard in kids’ fantasy, but it does get old, which is something this one does a fairly mixed job on. We have an empire that’s crushing other city-states and forcing them to do its bidding, that’s how it’s done and how it has been for as long as anyone can remember. We have the city-states not wanting to work together because of old grudges. Both are kind of a wash early because it is a ton of new stuff all at once, but then we get into it more and it works.

We also have some party friction from the last book that gets worked though, I really appreciate that bit. As well as I feel Karn and Thianna work as a team, seeing them having to work with new characters and deal with new situations is one of the strong points of the book. The expanded cast did take some getting used to, mostly just because it split the story more than the first books did, but that helps give the story a greater feeling of scope.

The added cast does have one big downside that I can think of. While it’s great for adding scope to the story, it also has the effect of leaving what should have been important character moments out for more minor characters. A little more focus on what was going on with the big villains would have been great. It also has the effect of introducing and then completely leaving out representative characters for the city-states that didn’t get involved in the plot. That feels like a missed opportunity more than anything.

So, where do I sit on Thrones and Bones: Skyborn? It solved a lot of the standard kids’ book problems the first two had, though it still has a few. Those are mostly pacing related, and nothing really big at that. I would have liked to have seen more build to the final confrontation; it was pretty standard for the series on that front. As evidenced by the rest of the review though, I enjoyed the read. This is one of the few series that I not only enjoyed myself, I’m also getting the first one for my younger cousin. So, again, where do I sit on this one? I think it earned a four out of five.

Saying Something

I’ve taken my few days after the election to adjust and get things sorted. It’s time to get back to work. I’m going to avoid getting into life stuff or political stuff or anything similar here.

There will be a review Wednesday. Then the Wednesday after that, and after that. If something comes up, I’ll address it in weekly house keeping. There will still be guest posts. There will still be nonsense about the apartment spooks or the cat or whatever.

We’ll keep going. That’s all there is to do.

Necrotech

So, things should be back to normal posts wise here soon. I will of course be rambling about things that aren’t books, but that’s just business as usual. There’s also a review. The book was sent to me for the purposes of an honest review by the awesome folks at Angry Robot. Enjoy!

Waking up not remembering the day before sucks. Waking up having lost months, with your girlfriend turned into a tech zombie and your team thinking you sold them out? So much worse. Riko’s reputation is shot and the only people who could help her aren’t so willing to help. To find out what happened, or even just make it until tomorrow, she’s going to have to fight smarter and harder than ever.

K. C. Alexander’s Necrotech reminds me very much of Shadowrun Returns, with it’s used future feel and the sharp delineation between the corporate haves and the everyone else have-nots. That just on its own doesn’t really do the book justice though. There’s a thread of desperation to the first third, with Riko trying to figure out just what happened to her and Nanji. Everything Riko’s built in her life has fallen apart, seemingly overnight, and she has no idea what’s going on or what to do about it. That works fantastically well.

Less fantastically, the pacing gets really slowed down in the middle section of the book. That can make it feel like a bit of a slog at times, especially since Riko keeps going over a lot of the same topics repeatedly. Given that one of those problems, Malik Reed, both feels like he’s being set up as a later romance interest and really doesn’t go anywhere as a character the slow down can hurt the book a lot. I really didn’t enjoy Malik as a character or Riko’s reactions to him. While Riko being bisexual is a part of her character, the power difference and back and forth between them really didn’t work for me.

That said, aside from the slowdown, Necrotech is fast, violent, profane, and utterly enjoyable. It’s got a great feel for scenery when it needs it. The tone stays on point for most of the run. And I really enjoyed the mix of futuristic technology with everything being so worn down and broken.

So, where does that leave Necrotech? I’m still pretty frustrated with the middle bit and Malik, but I also really want to read the next one. So, it gets a four out of five from me. There are issues, but I want to see how they’re worked out more than I am frustrated with them.