Friday, December 18, 2015

First Light: (The Red#1) Review

First Light The Red #1

Linda Nagata

Saga Press

June 30, 2015

4/5 Stars

   This book is about Lt. James Shelley.  He is a member of the US Army but not really by choice but because he is doing his time from a protest march.  I think the book was very interesting given that most of it deals with both near future technology and a near future world where DCS’s basically run the world.  It’s quite interesting how Linda Nagata has weaved two very futuristic concepts and making them very realistic and tied into the world we have going on now.

    While I really loved the majority of the book.  I have to say that while James Shelley comes off as a realistic army officer most of the time.  I found some of his reactions to some of the events, odd.  Also, the way that some of the officers in his squad are portrayed sometimes borders on stereotyping.  Which I understand that the book is set in only the main character’s point of view might actually make this more likely.  I have to say that considering how long the squad as been together that the majority of them should be more than just a name and a sentence.

    I have to admit that having the entire story in one book and having it be the first book in a series is amazing.  I have to hand it to Linda Nagata for this.  Very few authors can pull off a one hundred percent self contained story in a any kind of series.

Court of Roses and Thorns Review

Court of Roses and Thorns

Sarah J. Maas

Bloomsbury USA Childrens

May 5, 2015

3/5 Stars

    So since I read the Throne of Glass, I decided I would give Sarah J. Maas’s other book series.  Which is much different but kind of similar.  Different is that the book isn’t about assassins with hearts of gold in strange love triangles.  Similar in that the main character is a woman and the book IS essentially a romance.  The story however, is MUCH better than the Throne of Glass series.  I was immediately more interested in this slightly pat theme of a Fae world crossed with the mortal world.

     The problem with that, is the story IS basically pat.  Until the end, which is a whole lot different and quite a bit better than most other books of it’s ilk.  While this excellence does appear a litlte eariler it never really rears it’s head until then.  The worst part is that the pinnacle part of the book is actually a rather old and well worn riddle.  I don’t know why the author thought it would make anyone think twice but perhaps it’s my vast reading knowledge, but I don’t think so.

      What I will say is that I didn’t hate this book as I did the Throne of Glass’s starting novel.  Hopefully this book is a sign of better things to come.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Throne of Glass
Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
 (August 7, 2012)
2/5 Stars
       So I just finished reading the first book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.  She is a very popular Young Adult author.  Not on the level of Suzanne Collins or even Cassandra Clare.  But she is quite acclaimed.  I mostly decided to read this book due to the fact that Goodreads had given the third book in the series the Best of Young Adult Fantasy on Goodreads.  Which I thought interesting considering that Uprooted by Naomi Novik lost to it.  Which was odd to me considering that Uprooted, in my opinion is hardly a Young Adult book.  The main problem with the book is that the main character is supposed to be a renowned assassin.  A cold blooded killer.  She is none of those things.  She probably should have just been some girl that had some warrior training.  After all that she had been through in life and considering what an amazing assassin she was supposed to be.  She seemed little more than an inexperienced girl in all things in life.  And quickly gets embroiled in a love triangle with the Crown Prince and the Captain of the Guard.  As much as most people don’t like the cover above, it’s much more accurate than the cooler, more attractive cover.

        Why did Sarah Maas decide that the main character need to be an assassin?  Why is the Prince such a weakling?  I don’t hate the book, except that in principle the book is lazy.  There are so many inconsistencies and things that make the characters seem to be caricatures not characters that have depth and interest.  There are certainly good examples of books where the main character is female, strong, interesting, etc…  Without making the mistake descending into the pat of love triangles and artificial affectations like trying to make a 19 year old girl an assassin.  Not that, I don’t think this is possible or even a good idea.  In fact, the summary for this book sounds absolutely wonderful.  But in execution, it seems more an exercise in girly drama rather than action. Being an assassin really doesn’t lend itself to being a pretty princess, which is exactly what the main character seems to want to be.  She even gets a puppy during the book.
       So Sarah Maas seems to want guys, to want to read her book; But then when they discover that book is 2/3 romance novel and 1/3 everything else.  They are immediately turned off.  The interesting part, is that a lot of women seemed unimpressed and rather repulsed by the main character.  I was more or less fine with the main character’s attitude which is what women mostly seem to hate about it.  But let’s try at least making sense if we are to make a story where an assassin is the main character.  Like maybe making the main character as interesting in chapter 1 as in chapter 30.  Which is one of the main issues I have with the book.
       There are two more books in this series and apparently the second book is much better than this one.  But I really can’t bring myself to bother considering how much better stories there are out there.  But I will give Court of Thorns and Roses a try.  Perhaps that will be better, but I don’t have high hopes.  But one never knows…

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pathfinder Tales: Lord of Runes

Pathfinder Tales: Lord of Runes

By Dave Gross

Tor Books
Pub Date   Jun 16 2015

3/5 Stars


         This is the first of the Pathfinder Tales books that I’ve been able to get my hands on.  The book starts rather slowly but as it moves forward it gets very interesting and considering there is a cliffhanger ending it only makes that ending even more maddening.  I’m not sure if this was the author’s intent; but it was certainly a little annoying.  The main characters are well written, but for the most part this book seems like a 1990s Dungeons and Dragons novel and not a particularly good one.  The best thing about series like Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance is that for the most part they can be appreciated without knowing a lot about what is going on in the book’s greater series.  In this case however, not so much.  I haven’t read any of the other Pathfinder books but I’m guessing they are similarly weaved together with demons and dragons.  They, I suppose are also tenuously tied together by what they call in the book; Pathfinder Chronicles. Which is interesting, but ultimately not enough to get me THAT interested in the book’s greater series.  However, I would like to know what happens…  Hopefully, these novels are not spaced very far apart.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest Book Review

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Holly Black

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

January 13 2015

4/5 Stars


       While I usually really like Holly Black books in general.  I found this book to be a bit wanting in a few cases.  Firstly, the dissonance between the real world and the pseudo-real world she created is jarring in a number of places.  Such as, when she is talking about the Folk killing "Tourists," and that it was OK as long as they didn't mess with any of the townsfolk.  Really?  So some 16 year old girl is going to think it's alright for the Folk to murder people as long as it isn't anyone she knows?  Really?  I could have probably swallowed this from an adult's perspective but not a teenager.
     On this note as well, it was hard to judge what time frame this takes place in and therefore made it even more puzzling when it came to things like grammar or slang.  I guess it probably took place in the 90s but its still impossible for me to be sure.
     The other thing I didn't like was a long scene about three quarters of the way through the book  that is nothing less than a blatant;"parents just don't understand" scene.  Which considering these people have all been living in this magical town for years makes so little sense; I had a hard time getting through it.  That was one YA trope that we could have done without in this case.
     Everything with the Folk and the main characters was incredible.  I really loved the idea of Hazel and Ben being monster hunters.  This was the magical and cool part of the book that kept me reading.  All in one sitting, in fact.  So thank you Holly Black for that.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014 Review

Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014

Rich Horton

Diamond Book Distributors

Pub Date: Jun 10 2014

4/5 Stars


         So I always have some trouble with anthologies; I should probably be used to reviewing them by now.  But I haven’t gotten there quite yet.  But here we go…

          There are plenty of cool stories in this collection but here are my favorites, in no particular order:

                  A Stranger from a Foreign Ship, Tom Purdom

                  Effigy Nights, Yoon Ha Lee

                  Rosary and Goldenstar, Geoff Ryman

                  The Bee Her Heart, The Hive Her Belly. Benjanun Sriduangkaew

                  Dragonslayer of Merebarton, K.J.Parker

                  Loss, with Chalk Diagrams. E.Lily Yu

                  They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass, Alaya Dawn Johnson

                  A Window or a Small Box, Jedediah Berry

                  Live Arcade, Erik Amundsen

                  Found, Alex Dally MacFarlane

                  A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel, Ken Liu

                  It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and We Feel Fine, Harry Turtledove

                  The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls, Howard Waldrop

                  Out in the Dark, Linda Nagata

                  On the Origin of Song, Naim Kabir

                  Town’s End, Yukimi Ogawa

                  The Discovered Country, Ian R. MacLeod


               What I found so exciting and interesting about most of these stories is that they are so original, different from most of what is out there right now.  I also found the fact that the best stories are written by authors who have only written short stories or at least are only famous for writing short stories.  Some of the stories are seeming, at least to me, a tipping off point for any number of novels.  I’m kind of amazed that NONE of the authors that had my most favorite stories had never written in the longer form.  But perhaps that’s why these stories were so well crafted and interesting.  I would certainly recommend that anyone with a descent amount time, picks up these short story collection.