Category: Four Star


Not posted on a Wednesday, but hey, I didn’t skip this week. Quick reminder that the giveaway for The People’s Police Giveaway is still going until midnight Sunday the 19th. This book’s one that I bought rather than being send to review. So, enjoy!

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Beautiful Remorse is your new favorite band. You couldn’t say why if asked. You couldn’t even really say anything about the lyrics. But their music does something for you. To you. It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard, and their singer, Airee MacPherson. She’s fantastic, completely out of this world.  Strange things keep happening with each new track they release. Beautiful Remorse is your new favorite band, and your favorite band cannot save you.

Scotto Moore’s Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You: a tale in ten tracks is a quick fun read that’ll pull you along right to the end. The first two thirds of the book is solid genre fiction, but then it gets to a certain point and everything starts to feel kind of rushed. Think of it a little bit like a love letter to the Cthulhu mythos through the lens of modern internet culture.

There are a few bits that needed more attention throughout the book. Without that, the end isn’t a total big lipped alligator moment, but it does still feel under supported. I’d have liked more exposition on Aimee’s plan or the music itself, though the narrator’s limited knowledge goes a ways towards explaining that away.

My other big issue is with the characters. I legitimately cannot remember the narrator’s name or much of anything about him. The same goes for most of the characters that aren’t Airee, they sort of get lost in her or the music and just don’t come up again. I could easily say that this was a purposeful thing and that a big part of the point was a collective nothingness for humanity. It still doesn’t really work for me in the long run though, at the end of the day I’m still very much invested in character over plot.

More than anything, Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You reminds me of a B movie. Despite its faults, the story is aggressively readable and fast paced. It’s eyes off the action to build tension, which works well in a lot of ways. This is a book that could have been a lot better with a little work, but it doesn’t need it to be a fun book. If that makes sense at all. It’s fun, it’s fast, and at the end of the day I still really enjoyed it.

So, where does that leave us? While Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You has some issues, I still had a ton of fun with it. So, from me at least, it gets a four out of five.

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.

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.

So, day one of posting stuff for Halloween. I’m pretty excited, not gonna lie. Even the spooks around the apartment have quieted down some, either they’re getting used to us or they’re getting ready for Halloween too. But, regardless, on to the review!

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Fear Street is cursed. Since Shadyside’s founding, the town and the street bearing the name of its most infamous residents have been haunted by murderers, vengeful ghosts, and all manner of horrors. When an innocent girl is burned as a witch, the first link in a chain of vengeance that will span centuries is forged. A curse is cast, and a legend begins.

The Betrayal begins at the end with Nora Goode staring in horror and disbelief as the Fear family mansion burns down, taking her beloved Daniel with it. The story, however, begins over two hundred years earlier in the village of Wickham in the middle of a witch scare as several girls have already been burned at the stake. A girl, Susannah Goode, is framed for witchcraft by her beloved’s father, Magistrate Benjamin Fier. She and her, also accused, mother are innocent. Her father however is not and, after having his family taken from him and being robbed by the Fier brothers, William Goode vows revenge and places a curse on the Fier family.

Right off the bat, this is pretty gory for a kids’/YA book, and that fits the Fear Street Saga trilogy pretty well. It also does a good job with build, even knowing how things ultimately end there’s this sort of looming sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think a good part of that is that our protagonist for most of the post betrayal book, Mary Fier, had nothing to do with that whole situation. She hadn’t even been born yet and is just a girl. Even knowing what her father and uncle did, having her as the protagonist makes the rest of the Fier family look better because she cares for them.

Unfortunately, while I do adore Mary as a protagonist for what she does for the story, The Betrayal is still very much set up for the other two books. The ending also feels a bit rushed, like Stine knew where his start was and where the ending was but he only had a certain number of pages he was allowed. It gets the point across, but it also feels pretty cheesy.

So, I know that my review and score here are ultimately pretty heavily influenced by nostalgia, but even rereading this as an adult I enjoyed it a great deal. So, The Betrayal by R. L. Stine gets a four out of five. Let’s see what happens next.

The Killing Jar

Is this really what it looks like? I’ve posted a review after all this time and it’s not even a holiday. Speaking of, I know what I’m gonna do for Halloween. More on that in a bit, for now, enjoy!

The Earth is wrecked.  Staying outside without a respirator is certain death and most of humanity lives in domed cities while scientists on the moon colony search for an acceptable new home world. Unfortunately something keeps killing them.

The Killing Jar by R. S. McCoy is an interesting piece of apocalyptic sci-fi in part because most of its individual parts should be bog standard by now, but they are combined into something quite entertaining. That’s largely because of the characters but also because each subplot has a sense of weight to it, like it’s going somewhere big.

This is one of those books that was really hard for me to review, largely because most of the issues I have with it are things that could have been dropped without a ton of change to the book proper. A big example of this was the, essentially, caste system that this society runs on. It wasn’t much of a bother to me until later in the book as I was thinking back on things. There was also some relationship stuff that really irked me, I’ll get to that later though.

So, there’re three tiers of society, plus a garbage level for people who don’t fit their caste or run off for whatever reason. Scientists get a bunch of genetic modifications to be tall and smart, they get the best pay, and they’re generally the most respected, but they don’t get to fall in love and they don’t get art or music. Craftsmen don’t get the genetic modifications, don’t seem to get paid much, and do most of the work building and maintaining everything, but they seem to get more personal choices than scientists. Then there’s artists, they don’t really seem to have a place in this world. Artists legitimately seem to exist in the plot for the male lead to get angsty over having to give up music and so his best friend can abandon him and science for his boyfriend. That’s probably a writing oversight thing, the book doesn’t really go into any caste except the scientists.  But if the author was going to use this particular convention, complete with mandatory selection day when you come of age, I really wish she’d done more with it.

My second big thing, as mentioned, was some of the relationship stuff.  Most of the relationships are painfully surface level and, much like the social striation could have been cut pretty easily. There’s a couple of exceptions that I feel like were done pretty well, but they were the exception rather than the rule. It’s not like the ones that weren’t done well were a huge part of their respective plots, it’s just that I feel like they either could have been done a lot better or came out of left field.

Now, all that said, I really enjoyed the book for the most part. It had a few more side plots than I would have liked, but they felt like they were going places instead of just being there as filler. The characters didn’t communicate well, but half of them are teenaged and the other half have hidden agendas. I definitely appreciated how much each character was gone into, especially given the number of side plots going on. The ending leaves me, instead of disappointed, curious to see where everything goes from here and how it all ties together.

So, all that said, R.S. McCoy’s The Killing Jar gets a four out of five.

The Family Plot

So, this seems like a good opener to Halloween season. I admit, this one feels a little rushed to me because I was trying to hit a deadline instead of just getting it done when I could. But I’m happy with how it turned out and hopefully you all will enjoy it.

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Music City Salvage is in a bad way. Their stock has been standing on the shop floor for months and their last two big sales haven’t come through with payments yet. So it seems too good to be true when Augusta Withrow shows up offering the salvage rights to her family’s mansion and all its outbuildings. In a last bid to keep the lights on and stay in business Chuck Dutton, Music City Salvage’s owner, snaps up the rights and sends his daughter Dahlia and a hand full of workers to break down the site. The place is beautiful, an absolute gold mine for the struggling company. Unfortunately, once they arrive the team discovers that someone or something never left the house.

Cherie Priest’s The Family Plot is not what I would usually grab first on a trip to the bookstore. I’ve just not found a lot of horror that holds me for the long run. After this book, I’m going to have to reassess that.

A lot of the horror I’ve read in the past has relied on a gimmick to make the scary happen, which makes it pretty hit or miss if the gimmick works for you particularly, the scares work. The Family Plot doesn’t do that. It builds its ambiance and characters slowly, letting the reader get used to things and introducing minor bits. Then it builds.  This works really well for me. It also doesn’t shy away from its supernatural aspects; the ghosts are there right from the beginning just as a matter of fact. The house is old, so it’s haunted.

I’m also a big fan of what the author did with the characters. Because she took that same slow build approach she used for the horror aspects and applied it to character interactions and development as well. We start out with the main character Dahlia, her lay about Cousin Bobby, his son Gabe, and the new guy Brad. We don’t get huge blocks of back story on them, most of what’s told rather than shown is told using Brad as a window for the reader. Then that’s pretty quickly replaced with what’s shown and we get more in-depth.

That does bring me to one of the only issues I have with the book though. For all the good the author does with her build up, the follow through feels kind of scattered. Once the main plot hits we get some really cool ideas, but then it seems like they get passed by on the way to the climax. There’s also a bit near the end that the book could have done without, but that’s my only other big thing.

So, how does it all add up? I did really enjoy this book and would like to see more like it from Ms. Priest, but there were just those couple of things that prevent it from getting a full five. Tightening up some of the ideas used would have gone a ways, but could have also gone a bit far on the other side really easily. I think I would have also liked to have seen more of the team discovering the Withrow family back story. That said, the writing is good and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. So I think The Family Plot earned a four out of five.

Karn is a champion at the game Thrones and Bones, but not much of a farmer or trader. He wants to see the world and all it has to offer rather than be tied to his family farm for the rest of his life. Thianna is a frost giant, as able in the snow and ice as any, but an outcast because of her human mother. When they are introduced at the yearly trade meeting at the Dragon’s Dance, a friendship is born. A friendship they will soon have to rely on for their very survival.
Lou Anderson’s Thrones and Bones: Frostborn is a middle-grade fantasy novel set in a world based on, essentially, Viking lore. The main characters are fairly easy to get into, and I appreciate that Thianna is the physically more active of the two. It’s a nice turn-around from what is usually done and fits with her being half-giant. Karn’s being the smart one seems a bit more tied into the Thrones and Bones game than I would have liked, but when that’s the title of the series you kind of have to expect it to be important. The side characters weren’t as well done, but served their purpose.
The only real issues I can think of are fairly minor. There was a lot of toilet humor, while it’s not totally unexpected it might have been more effective to tone it back. Also one of the villains was meant to be tricky about their villainy but for all their behavior might as well have been named Antagonist MacEvildude. Again though, middle-grade novel it probably isn’t as obvious to the intended audience.
So what’s the verdict? While the humor was a little hit or miss and the bad guys could have been better, I really dig that cleverness won the day as often as fighting did and that the protagonists were as well rounded as they were. Thrones and Bones: Frostborn earns a four out of five.

 I not quite live blogged it, and I’ve knocked around what kind of movie I think it would make (this without seeing the movie that they did make), so let’s end this terrible run on sentence and get on to the review.

I’ve talked about this book before in my not quite live blogging of it. So, given what I’ve already said and about a week after reading it, let’s take a swing at reviewing this thingy.

Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill, currently in “book of the movie” reprints as Edge of Tomorrow, is a relatively short military sci-fi march through one man’s development from green recruit to hardened warrior. The aliens arrived on Earth, they adapted a shape to work best in the environment, and they proceeded to destroy as much of the life on Earth as possible. They eat dirt and pass it as poison. Where they swim, the oceans no longer support life. The surviving nations of the world have banded together their militaries to destroy this threat, the Mimics.

All You Need is Kill is a fairly solid piece of genre fiction all told, though it isn’t without its issues. While a number of minor characters were mentioned in the various focus loops, they never really became anything more than set pieces. While this works for the book over all, it keeps the impact of anything that happens to them from really being there. This is the Keiji Kiriya show featuring Rita Vrataski and, while that works really well to show how different Keiji and Rita are as people and giving a great sense of isolation, it also lead to me not really caring if anything happened to the set piece minor characters. I also feel that the reveal about the mimic’s nature made them feel like, I don’t know, less somehow. They didn’t stop being dangerous, it just took away some of the mystery.

I’m also inclined to say that there isn’t a great deal of “show” in the novel. Again, this isn’t to the novel’s detriment for the most part. Having Keiji mostly talk about his development into a Mimic slaughtering machine just further reinforces the feeling of isolation, but I would have liked to have “seen” more of him watching Rita fight to figure out how she does things, more of him interacting with the other members of his squad and then slowly drifting away from them as more loops passed. I’d have also liked to see more lead up to the book’s climax. There was some, but not nearly enough.

So, to wrap it up, what’s the verdict? All You Need is Kill is a solid book that plays well off of the tropes Sakurazaka uses, and while it has some minor issues they mostly work in its favor rather than being detrimental to the book’s story. So, while there were some things that I did not enjoy, I give it a four out of five.

So this is an interesting situation.  I did totally intend to have this posted a couple of days ago but haven’t felt well for the last couple of days and more or less ignored it.  Bad at being timely.  Enjoy the review!

Paranormal investigator Savannah Levine is a powerful magic user, but after a case that tore a family apart she would give all her power to fix things.  Something heard her.  Now she stuck dodging witch hunters and searching for answers as a threat to the entire supernatural world rears its head.

When I requested Kelly Armstrong’s Spell Bound for review I didn’t realize that it was part of a series, much less the penultimate book of a thirteen novel series.  That said, it didn’t bother me nearly as much as it usually does to jump into the middle of a series and the book stood quite well on its own.  The characters were, for the most part, quite likeable and written in such a way that it didn’t feel like I was missing major parts of their development having missed several books.  I did find the whole thing with Savannah losing her powers frustrating because of how utterly helpless she thought of herself as being and how much other characters insisted that she wasn’t.  It was a little too real world for what I normally read, but also kind of endearing because people actually have moments like that.

All said and done, I definitely enjoyed Spell Bound, enough even to go back and read the other eleven when I get the chance.  I give it a four out of five for being a totally worthwhile read with a minimum of issues.

Computer is running slow at the moment.  I’ve finally gotten a summer job and can get a set schedule going here, break out of my do nothing slump.  I’m going to try once again to catch up on my backlog of review books before I get more behind than usual.  That said, on to the review.

Aiden Nomura uses his skills as a hacker to open doors, to see how the universe works.  His life is game, until a new Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic opens near his boarding school in Bern, Switzerland.  With the opening of the new TFC come sudden bombings and the news that Aiden’s cousin Winter has had a mental break down.    He returns to the US immediately to help her.   But the Hamilton he returns to is far different from the one he remembers.  Between a citywide crack down and the growing underground movement, will Aiden be able to rattle the right doors before someone gets hurt?

The Forgetting Curve is a solid sophomore entry in Angie Smibert’s dystopian young adult series.  I like that the focus was moved away from Micah and Nora, the main characters of the previous book, but stayed close with Micah’s best friend Winter and another of her friends Velvet.  The balance of focus between the three characters feels much better this time around with each character taking different approaches to the mystery of why Winter doesn’t remember anything about Memento.  That said, The Forgetting Curve feels a good deal slower than Memento Nora.  It digs a good deal more into the characters’ quiet drama, lots of introspective questioning of what’s the truth and what’s just another door that needs opening.

The TFCs were much less of a thing this time around, less of a looming presence in the background, the focus was much more on Nomura’s newest cell phone.  The Chipster is the newest part of the new government initiative requiring every citizen of Hamilton to get a microchip implanted at the base of their skull for identification.  For their own good of course.  I kind of liked the change of focus here, it shows how quickly the problem is growing as people trade freedoms and privacy for perceived safety.  This is actually one of the changes that made The Forgetting Curve feel like an improvement over Memento Nora.

I don’t know that The Forgetting Curve is as solid as it could be, there were a number of spots that were a bit slow for my taste.  Where it felt like the plot was getting a little bogged down in the details of Hamilton’s politics and the sudden return of Winter’s parents just as she’s had her apparent break down.  It was good though and I really look forward to reading the next one.  I give The Forgetting Curve a four out of five.