Category Archives: book review

Book Review: One For The Money by Janet Evanovich

After hearing about this book from my friend E., I found it at a library book sale a few weeks ago and picked it up for a dollar.  I’m not generally a mystery person, I’ll admit.  As you might tell from some of the other books I have reviewed, I’m far more into the Fantasy and the Sci-Fi ends of things. And Vampires.  Never forget the Vampires.

I was a bit afraid that it would be dry and that I would put it down half way because the plot was getting too hard to follow, or a plot device came out of left field that tied everything up in a bow and everyone could move on from there quite neatly. Sadly, that has been my experience with most mysteries. But my Grandma enjoys Evanovich, and E. likes a lot of the same types of books that I do.

First, this is a terrible book to read before bed, because you will. not. put. it. down. It hooked me at the beginning and didn’t let go until the end. Finished it in about a day and a half when all was said and done, reading it on breaks at work, before bed, and while food was cooking. The characters are all clear and multi-dimensional, and could easily be someone you see walking down the street. The myriad of plot lines twist and turn together in such a way that though they might get confusing, they never get hopelessly entangled and it never seems as though Evanovich has written herself too far into a corner. The twists and turns in the plot make sense when you get to them and I felt dense a few times when I didn’t see where it was going until after it already got there.

The main character, Stephanie Plum, meets with wonderfully crazy people all over, from completely insane and scary to her almost weekly lunches with her Italian family in Trenton. I’m a person who loves a good dash of reality in all my stories too, and it’s clear to me that research was done for this tale. The details in Stephanie’s cars and forms of transportation was always a wonderful way to break tension in the story too, letting the reader catch their breath when things began to get intense.

My one issue with this first book in the Plum series is that it ended far too quickly. It was very much a fade to black at the climax of the story and it was just explained to the reader in the last chapter what happened. Telling instead of showing. Personally, I felt rather cheated at the ending and would have liked to have “witnessed” what happened instead or having it be revealed later. But to each his or her own, so I can deal with it.

It’s a quick read, so I got my $1 out of it that I originally spent, but I don’t know if I would pay full price for it. Thankfully, there are libraries and Half Price Books, so I’m set for when I look for the next one in the series: Two for the Dough.

As a side note: I’ll be visiting my family and sister this weekend, so I’ll be interviewing the Sister regarding her thoughts on the Hunger Games while I’m there. Something to look forward to.

cover photo of book from here: http://0.tqn.com/d/bestsellers/1/0/g/9/-/-/one_money.jpg


Um…oops?

So…yeah.  I raelly seemed to suck at this writing twice a week thing the past month.  I could offer excuses, like how Battery Pack made it to Round Two of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, or that it’s in actual book form on my shelf now (more like my floor for this picture, but it exists!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can also say that I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the last month.  For example, I plowed through American Gods by Neil Gaiman for the first time.  Reading the book form of Howl’s Moving Castle (so different from the movie!), and a few books from the local Little Free Libraries.  Add in a Darkover novel or two as I try to make myself like them–so far, it’s not happening–and my weird hour job… There’s been some planning of a new writing project with my friend E.M. Verhalen (also in the second round of ABNA) and going to acupuncture for stress and health and having it work (whoo!).  And some good old fashioned D&D with friends on the weekends, it’s little wonder that I’ve been busy.

But in reality?  I’m just lazy. And the longer it got between times that I wrote, the more guilty I felt, and the more I didn’t want to write because of guilt.  It was a vicious cycle that I kicked in the ass today, and bit the bullet in an attempt get back into this thing.

 

Update on Mists of Avalon: Finished Second Two, the High Queen.  Like Lady of Magic, it focused on the character the section title named, in this case, Gwen.  It’s mainly regarding her impact with Arthur now that Morgaine and Avalon is out of Camelot and off who knows where (we discover later she is with the elves on accident).  Here is where we first see Christianity having a big impact on the life of Arthur rather than the “pagan ways” of Avalon, and him casting aside the banner of the Pendragon to carry the Cross into battle that Gwen made for him.  She thinks that because Arthur isn’t Christian, that is why she can’t have kids.  At the end, she and Lance get together with Arthur’s knowledge and blessing…  Nothing good can come of this.  As soon as I finish one of the books I’m currently reading, I’ll dive back into this one.

The biggest thing I have noted about Mist of Avalon is how hard it can be to slough through at some points.  I mean, we’re dealing with some pretty heavy stuff.  Religious type of heavy, and the “killing” of old ways to make room for the “new” (at least in the eyes of Avalon). But some of the thoughts are beat upside the head so many times that the hose is beyond dead.  It is a paste along the side of the road that one one can identify.   Yes, the amount of research shows through, but at the same time, I got the point when you mentioned it for the 4th time three pages ago.

Gwen is, sadly, very one dimensional, at least in her section.  Which is a shame, as it is “hers”.  She is so very focused on the Christianity aspect of life, that she seems to become little more than a representation of what she is believing in rather than a person.  It is only towards the end when she and Arthur have their conversation about Lancelot and Gwen is given the go ahead to be with the Knight of her Dreams that she begins to develop a personality aside from a Fundie (if you’ll excuse the phrase).

 

So…yeah.  expect me to try to kick my ass into gear more on posting here.  Maybe on Wednesday I’ll do something with this new game that has consumed me.  I suck at it, but I enjoy the story. Which is the best part of any game, in my opinion.


An Almost Book Review Part Two

Well, I finally finished Inheritance last weekend, and I’ve been stewing on it for about a week now.  It’s a good book, but I’m not quite sure how I completely feel about it.

What I did enjoy was the fact that the story didn’t just END when Galbatorix was finally killed.  Paolini went on to begin to describe the troubles that a newly emerging nation might have after a dictator has been disposed.  This is something that is seen a lot in today’s world, and not something often seen in any detail in books I have read before.  So many of the solutions to the problems were incredibly easy though, and people stepped down or to the side with little to no issue once the reigning King was dead. I almost feel things fell too easily into place for the Varden, and I would have liked to have seen King Orrin have more spine that spittle when he was trying to become new leader of the Empire.

Of course, that might have lead to an entire new book.

A lot of loose ends were also still present at the end, such as who Angela is, and why Solumbum is with her.  While I can understand not wanting to give too much away, she was a very powerful character, and many times served as more of a plot device Mary Sue than anyone with real…substance.  Kidnapped?  Don’t worry, Angela is here.  Issues with Werecats?  Angela is coming.  She was a convenient way to solve problems.

The sudden appearance of Dragon Eggs and Souls also seemed very…easy to me.  As did temporal folds that belonged more in something out of a Dr Who FanFic than a fantasy series.  But there had to be an easy way for things to all come together enough that Paolini could finish this in one book.  And the way it was explained, it does fit the world (even if Wrinkles in Time don’t).

The fight with Galbatorix was well done, and the fight with Murtagh really showed just how cruel he was without taking away from the story for descriptions.  He did what he wanted, because he could.  Followed that Evil Overlord List rather well, I must say.

The ending though…that is where my biggest issues lay.  here, get on a ship, steered by elves, meet up with some old friends before you go….and then sail into the West into the Lands…oh, wait…wrong book.  Sail into the East into the Lands Beyond.  The ending really just seemed ripped out of the ending of Return of the King.  Which, to be honest, a lot of people have ripped from Return of the King.  I just don’t think it’s been as blatant.

But yes, all in all, I did enjoy finishing this series. S. has my copy now, so when he finishes with it, I’ll try to get his opinions to add to mine.


An Almost Book review

I had these great plans that I would have the final book in the Inheritance Cycle finished today and I would write a wondrous review on it.

But then there was work.  And unpacking.

And packing to go on a trip.

And just, generally not enough time in the day to read a good book without the rest of the real world getting in the way.

I am over halfway done with it though, and I am enjoying it so far.  I have a few complaints about it, but those are mainly about how there are plot devices happening that seem to come out of no where, left field, and shoved in there because “crap…I forgot about that loose end that I needed to tie up!”

I feel that a lot of that might be resolved if I sat down and reread the other three books though.  It’s been so long since I have read Eragon that I honestly don’t remember much about it aside from “boy gets dragon, chaos ensues”.  And elves.

So I’ll totally take the blame on any failings that the book has right now until I sit my ass down and reread the others.  because otherwise that’s just not fair to the book.

I hope that Paolini writes quicker now though, so that I don’t need to worry about forgetting everything in the 10 years between book one and the last one.


Book Review Eleven: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My first reaction on seeing this book was how thick it was. It’s over 600 pages as a paperback, and I will admit that I was daunted at first by its size. So many fantasy books of this size are often filled with fluff, and the core of the story isn’t seen until late into the final third.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for Patrick Rothfuss’s first published book, and the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles series.

It follows the story of a young boy named Kvothe (pronounced like Quothe) as he travels with his family, performers and actors much like our idealized gypsies. When his father makes a mistake while learning stories of ancient evils in order to make a new song, Kvothe comes back to his family and finds them dead, the Seven, the ancient evils his father was researching, still there, sitting around what remains of his family and their fire.

For some reason, they leave him alive, and thus truly begins the tale of Kvothe. He spends a number of years with just his lute for company, wandering the forests and avoiding human contact. When he eventually makes his way to a city, he finds himself living as a beggar and a pickpocket, trying to survive. After being almost beaten, bloodied, and bruised for being on the wrong side of town, Kvothe takes matters into his own hands and begins a travel that takes him to the University, a place where mathematics, medicine, academics and magic are studied, learned, and practiced.

He finds himself making enemies of several powerful people within the University, students and professors alike, but he makes his friends as well, a new experience for a boy who had otherwise been on his own since the death of his family. Reminders of what happened to them still haunt him though, and his access to the University comes as two fold: to learn true magic and to learn all he can about the Seven.

What really marks this book as different from other fantasy coming-of-age tales is the Story-within-a-story feel it has. Kvothe’s story is being told by an innkeeper, a man known as Kote with bright red hair, a Fae student, and living in a town that has seen better times. When the Chronicler for the King comes, tracking down Kvothe’s story, it is revealed that Kote is Kvothe, and there is none better–in his mind–to tell his tale than himself.

In a world that is quickly going to hell in a handbasket, where demons are being seen more and more, and a great war is raging, Kvothe’s story is told.

When I borrowed this book from a friend, I didn’t expect to tear through it so quickly, nor to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s very easy to get lost in the world that Rothfuss created, slipping far enough into it that it’s almost jolting to return to our own when break is done. Staying up late to finish just one more chapter before bed is something that isn’t unexpected, and becomes the norm when you’re reading the tale of Kvothe.

There are two other books in the series: The Wise Man’s Fear and The Stone Door. Wise Man came out in March of 2011, and as of yet there is no date of publication for The Stone Door. This is both good and bad, as it makes it very hard to wait once you’ve devoured these first two books.

The world is richly diverse, well created, and seems to truly breathe with a life of its own. I highly suggest giving The Name of the Wind a read. Just don’t expect to do anything else while you have it in your hands!

Learn more about Patrick Rothfuss and his books here: http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/index.asp

Book cover from Rothfuss’ site.


Book Review Ten: Inca Gold by Clive Cussler

My word but it’s been a while since I did a review of a book. I have several in mind for this, but one of them I’m rereading now so that I can hopefully post it later this week.

As for today’s review, I give you a brief overview of the first Clive Cussler book that I ever read and still enjoy to this day.

I think I was in 4th grade when I first read Inca Gold. I was iffy on it at first because, up until that point, it was the thickest book I had ever owned, let alone held in my hands. And how on earth could something happening underwater be interesting to someone like me at all? I wanted to be an astronaut, not a person who studied water! But after constant goading by my mom (who had bought the book for me and assured me many many times that I would actually love it) I finally gave it a shot.

A number of hours later, I finally put it down because it was time for dinner, even though I still had chapters to go!

I reread it a few years ago and it’s just as good as I remember. The premise behind it is that Dirk Pitt, one of the main guys at NUMA (which actually exists, I found out later. Cussler made it) and his partner, Al Giordino, drop into a jungle in South America and rescue a team of researchers stuck at the bottom of a sinkhole filled with water–they found an air pocket when the oxygen tanks ran out, thankfully–and it gets more intense from there. From the jungle where they find the strange remains of a ship belonging, possibly, to Sir Francis Drake, they are taken captive by a military organization which they must make a harrowing escape from.

Pitt soon finds himself caught up in a ring of stolen artwork, missing Inca treasures, a soccer game player with heads, and a hidden river that flows beneath the wilds of the southern US that also leads to a treasure chamber of mind-boggling proportions.

While the book is pure escapism, it’s a heady mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond all mixed together with underwater exploring. If you’re looking for a good read that will keep you entertained, this is the book for you.


Book Review Nine: Fox and Phoenix by Beth Bernobich

One of my favorite things in the world to do is to read a new book, doubly so when it’s from a new author.  Or at least an author that I haven’t heard of before, as Beth Bernobich certainly isn’t new to the world of writing.

And it shows in her first YA novel Fox and Phoenix, coming out October 13th.

Fox and Phoenix takes place in a world like China, only with more magic, less giant walls, and spirit animals accompanying those who live there. Add in a dash of fairy tale, romance, some court intrigue, a dying King and a missing Princess, and you have the beginnings of a story that grabs you from the first sentence and doesn’t let go until the end.

It starts off introducing the characters Kai, Mami, and Yun, first seen in a short story Bernobich wrote as a prelude to this novel.  Mami owns a magic shop in Long City (which, as an aside, means “Dragon City”.  I knew those lessons in Chinese would come in handy some time!), and recieves words that the King has fallen ill.  When the court tries to get a hold of the Princess, currently studying at the university in the neighboring Phoenix kingdom, they receive no answer time and again.

As things go more out of control, Kai finds himself taking a cross country journey to the Phoenix Kingdom with just a cranky, re-animated Griffon and his friend Yun as companions.  Of course, it never goes easily, and the trio find themselves fending off assassin attacks, missing magic, and missing spirit animals that had been with them since birth.

And when they get to Phoenix City, their troubles are just beginning.

While this book is billed for those in 6th grade and above there is cursing in it, but nothing stronger than the occasional “damn” when Kai is feeling exceptionally emotional and overwhelmed.  My knee-jerk reaction on reading it was to not let my younger sister who is in 6th grade read it.  And then I remembered what I was reading at her age and decided I was likely being over protective, especially since I would recommend it to anyone else.

My one complaint is that the ending seems to tie up all the loose ends in quick succession, making it somewhat hard to see what had happened the first time I read it.  I feel as though a bit more time at the ending and explaining what had happened would not have gone amiss and would have made the book better all in all.

It is clear that Bernobich has done her research into Chinese culture enough to integrate it into this world of hers, which makes it come more alive with every passing phrase.  Words in Chinese that might not clearly be known by readers (such as the Griffon’s name) are explained within the story itself, really immersing the reader in a fully fleshed out world.

I highly, highly suggest you read this book when it comes out.

Pre-order and buy it here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fox-Phoenix-Beth-Bernobich/dp/0670012785/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318222498&sr=1-1

Visit the Author here:  http://www.beth-bernobich.com/

Interesting addendum not really pertaining to the book, but still a cool thing I wanted to share:  Apparently Beth Bernobich attended the Universität Heidelberg in Germany. I will fully admit to a squee when I read that and I wonder if she and I had any of the same professors from when I was there in 2010.  Some of them looked to have been around since the end of WWII…