Welcome to my train of thought. Just a warning, there might be turbulence. I'm a little eccentric, but hopefully you'll find something here that'll make the crazy worth it. Stay tuned for book reviews, ramblings on random things, and all sorts of stuff that tickles my fancy. But keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. My brain is a scary place!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
Published 2013, William Morrow
Stars: ★★★★★

Doesn't matter how many times I read this book (this reread makes #3), I am consistently impressed with Rollins and Cantrell's ability to tie supernatural elements seamlessly into historical events, blending and merging the two to create a fantastic story of good versus evil, betrayal and redemption, and Rollins' typical "save the world" scenario.  Couple that with some amazingly written and developed characters, and you've got yourself one hell of a fun romp!

Now, on to a reread of book two before I tackle the final installment!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ruins by Joshua Winning

Ruins by Joshua Winning
Published 2015, Peridot Press
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Ruins is the sequel to Sentinel, and is the second book in the Sentinel trilogy.  While it does suffer a little from "second-book-itis," it's a solid addition to the series.  It builds on the mythology set forth in the first one, develops the characters further, and goes on a roller coaster ride of events that lead up to a destructive finale... all to set up book three.  The end left a few things hanging, set up a few threads for the trilogy ender, and had a fun twist or two.

All in all, a solid book.  Good pacing, fun storylines, entertaining characters.  I'll definitely finish the series.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Checking In

Just leaving a little note here to check in!  Things have been crazy busy the past few weeks.  This weekend, we're having a surprise party for a friend, so expect some pictures soon, hopefully :)

I'm hoping to get to a point soon where I have some brain/willpower left each day to get some writing done on here, to get some of the stories out of my soul and out in the world!

I'm also going to try my hardest over the next few weeks to start updating some of my permanent pages, especially the links to other awesome blogs!!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Emergence: Dave vs. the Monsters by John Birmingham (DNF)

Emergence: Dave vs. the Monsters by John Birmingham
Published 2015, Del Rey
Stars: ☆☆☆☆☆ (DNF)

 I'm just not going to be able to finish this book.  I've read around 20%, and I can't find a single thing redeemable or potentially redeemable about the main character, and the gratuitous abuse of crude humor and curse words, which isn't a problem for me in general, is so beyond excessive that it's disgusting... and borderline "trying too hard."

It's a shame really, because the concept is an awesome one -- beefy guy, rough around the edges, rugged, messy life, forced into being a hero when a bunch of monsters spring up from under the sea.  Unfortunately for Dave Hooper, I won't be there for his adventure nor for his path to becoming a real hero.

I think what really turned me off was the comment in the first chapter, about the three things he tasted when he burped up the night before -- liquor, snack food, and lady parts.  But it was much more graphic in description than that.  I gave it a few more chapters, but had to DNF.  Just wasn't for me, with the MC as a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a deadbeat, a potty mouth, a druggie, a tax evader, an adulterer, and all around gross.  This author seems to be seeing how much he can get away with, and it doesn't work with this reader.
Thanks to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this galley.  Wish it had worked more for me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Moseh's Staff by A.W. Exley

Moseh's Staff by A.W. Exley
Published 2015, Curiosity Quills
Stars: ★★★★★

Many thanks to A.W. Exley and Curiosity Quills for an early edition ARC for review.  My review is unbiased, honest, and unabashedly fan-boyish. :)

Anita has done it again, and sadly, for the last time, at least when it comes to the deliciously sexy and devilishly fun Artifact Hunter series.  This book provided some necessary closure to a few long-standing storylines, in addition to leave a few tidbits and hints for future events... which are great in case she ever decides to pick back up and write more in this awesome steampunk fantasy series.

Cara and Nate are in a pickle... a frozen pickle.  London is in a deep freeze, a cold snap the likes of which no where in the world that usually has changing seasons has ever seen.  Even the Thames is completely iced over.  People are losing their livelihoods, or worse, their lives, as the never-ending winter takes its toll.  Cara and Nate try hard to get at the root of the problem, and along the way, find old issues with their respective nemeses, the Curator and Inspector Hamish Fraser, coming to a head.  Can the two use their mystical, physical, spiritual, and loving bond, along with their family of blood relatives, more-friends-than-employees, and even a dragon to get to the bottom of their woes and save London from reaching the frozen point of no return?

Anita has set up some awesome storylines that lead to this book... Fraser's loss of his love and desire for vengeance, the Curator's obsession with Cara, Cara's family history... and she ties everything together masterfully.

This series was my first ever steampunk series, and I've come to love it.  I'm sad it's over (maybe just for now???), but look forward to reading anything else that pours out of Anita's fantastical and deliciously dirty mind.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sentinel by Joshua Winning

Sentinel by Joshua Winning
Published 2013, Peridot Press
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Thanks to the author Joshua Winning for providing a review copy of this book one after I was approved on Netgalley for book two, without realizing it was a book two!

So, we all know that YA is chock full of "something happens, teenager learns they don't know their world, find out they're special, etc" type books.  And yes, this is one of them.  It's a trope that will be hard for the book universe to ever shake, because young adults love that potential destiny feeling, that maybe one day it could happen to them.  It's a fun and easy way to tempt them to read, and as an adult reader, you can either accept it, or you can whine about it.  Me? I'll accept it.  I'm a grown man with boring job, and a relatively unexciting life, so I'm all for getting my fun and adventure where I can find it.

That being said, this book has a pretty interesting new idea.  It's no JK Rowling, but honestly, who's going to be able to reproduce that?  It is, however, a really fun concept.  There's a secret world, hidden under the thin surface of reality, in which Sentinels guard the world from dark forces... but the dark forces have been quiet for so long that the Sentinels got a little complacent, and while the darkness was quiet, it wasn't gone -- it was slowly seeping its way through the barriers between worlds, scheming, and plotting.  And now it's time for those plots to come to fruition...

I think my biggest problem with this book was the insanely slow pace.  Don't get me wrong, there's action -- and it's often -- but the plot itself doesn't move forward all that much in this book.  It suffers from "Setup Syndrome," in which the author has such a big concept to push that the framework takes a while to assemble.  But, the world-building was done well, so it wasn't a huge problem or anything that made me enjoy the story any less.  I can appreciate a slow burn as long as it's headed somewhere.  And if the end of this book says anything, it's definitely headed somewhere.  I'll definitely read book two, and if that one picks up the pace, I'll finish the trilogy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art by Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art by Gwenda Bond
Published 2015, Capstone
Stars: ★★★★★
(Prequel short story for Lois Lane: Fallout, just released)

Just like with Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction, I just loved the author's take on Lois Lane. If these snippets are foreshadowing of the quality of her Lois Lane, then I can't wait to get my grabby hands on a copy of Lois Lane: Fallout!!!

"I might not be an art prodigy, but like I said, I do have other talents. There is no one better than me at running into trouble."

The blurbs are right -- if you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer's snark or Veronica Mars' fierce determination and wit, you'll probably love this Lois Lane.

Lois Lane: Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction by Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane: Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction by Gwenda Bond
Published 2015, Capstone
Stars: ★★★★★
 (Prequel short story for Lois Lane: Fallout, just released)

Thanks for Netgalley for providing a review copy of this exclusive short story prequel in exchange for an honest review.

This mini-novella gives a little background information and sets up the storyline for Lois Lane: Fallout by giving us a sneak peak at Gwenda Bond's take on the famous female love interest for Clark Kent/Superman, this time imagining her as a teenage Army brat with a penchant for Nancy Drewing, snark, and putting her foot in her mouth.

"Who even asked you?"
"No one... Unfortunately for you, I've always been on the nosy side."

Essentially, she's the perfect YA version of the young woman who's going to end up at the Daily Planet as a tour de force of reporting glory, and I can't wait to see how her move to Metropolis and getting a full length book will work out.  Guess I'll have to pick up a copy of Fallout and find out, eh?

(I also loved the hints at other DC characters, like Lois' General father, her sister Lucy, and a certain bumbling geek with secrets.)

The Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan

The Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan
Published 2015, Disney Hyperion
Stars: ★★★★☆

I may have an unhealthy obsession with Rick Riordan. Seriously, I love Percy Jackson, I love Heroes of Olympus, I love the Kane Chronicles, and I'm waited with bated breath for Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard to start this fall with Swords of Summer... so of course, I'm insta-buying anything with his name on it.  This is the third in a series of crossovers between the characters from the two Greek/Roman series and the Kane siblings from the Kane Chronicles. 

The first starred Percy Jackson and Carter Kane, who had to fight a giant crocodile. 

The second featured Annabeth Chase and Sadie Kane squaring off against a multi-headed monster.

The Crown of Ptolemy features all four of them coming together to fight against the magician responsible for the, err, "issues" they faced in the first two.  It includes lots of hijinks and of course, silly but hilarious dialogue.

Join the fun, if you've read up to this point.  Otherwise, jump back to the beginning and start with Percy Jackson and the Kane Chronicles. You won't regret it.  They're loads of fun. :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Published 2009, Tor Books
Stars: ★★★★☆

"Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them."
~William Shakespeare

While reading this book, this quote from Shakespeare echoed through my mind.  Some of the characters are born with greatness (like the God King, Susebron), others achieve it (like the Returned god, Lightsong or the dynamic Vivenna), and, to tie it all together with my favorite one, some have it thrust upon them.  Specifically, when talking of those who have it thrust upon them, I think of Siri.  Her wild, uninhibited unwillingness to be tamed made her the perfect person to send in place of Vivenna.  Though Vivenna didn't understand this at the time, she wasn't prepared, even with years of training, to be the person needed to change the world.  This would fall to other people -- Lightsong, who grew from lazy god to the very definition of hero; Siri, who in learning to love a God King found herself and helped makeover her world; Susebron, growing from "kept man" to a true leader...  But don't let this simple fact that Vivenna wasn't prepared to change the world lessen her impact on it.  She makes a choice that eventually leads her to dramatically update her perspective on how the world around her works, and in doing so, becomes a heroine in her own right.

Just like with Way of Kings, I feel like Brandon Sanderson is decent at plots (though maybe not at pacing, because much of the first half of this book bored me to tears) but really shines when it comes to CHARACTERS.  He makes them come alive on the page, like he as the author Breathed life into them, makes some easy to love, others easy to hate; forces us, as readers, to alter our own perspectives and maybe see our own world in a new light through the lives of these other "people" in other worlds.  He demands us to see the Colors around us through these heroes and heroines and villains and anti-heroes and morally ambiguous and everything-in-between characters.

He's restoring my appreciation for the high/epic fantasy genre, that's for sure.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key #1 by Clay and Susan Griffith

The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key #1 by Clay and Susan Griffith
Published 2015,Del Ray
Stars: ★★★★☆

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Seriously, thanks.

Like my first status update on Goodreads for this book said, I have two words to describe this book: "hell" and "yes."  This book was a complete and utter fun-tastic bookgasm of action, adventure, and magic.  Like steampunk? It's got a bit of that.  How's about urban fantasy? That's in the mix.  Love a little magic?  Prepare for lots.  Enjoy supernatural creatures, insane asylums, creepy ass experiments, alchemy, explosives and firearms, betrayals, redemptions, twists, turns, revelations, snarky male leads and kickass female ones, or a great supporting cast?  Well, welcome to the world of Crown & Key, where the pace is fast, the women are fiesty, and witty repartee abounds. It's kind of like an HP Lovecraft or a Maplecroft (by Cherie Priest) had an illicit affair with a Dresden Files or a Hollows and birthed this love child.

Not to say the book is perfect.  The characters are developed enough to carry the story, but not as much as I wanted -- they intrigued me and I wanted more.  Thankfully there are more books forthcoming.  Also, the villains certainly could have used some extra fleshing out.  Overall, a solid romp that falls firmly in the FUN column.  If you want a fast, fun, quick read that's chock full of urban fantasy and gaslight steampunk, this is your book.  Do yourself a favor and get this one, going in ready to have a little fun. :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
Published 2015, Ace Books
Stars: ★★★☆☆

Thanks to my good friend Jessica from Rabid Reads who let me read her book swag ARC.  This review is honest and unbiased.

Charlaine, you naughty minx, you've done it again.  You've made me wish I lived in Midnight, Texas.  Regardless of the weird stuff that goes down in Midnight, I want to live there.  The people seem so nice and everyone is tightknit.  Just think it would be a fun place to live!

Unfortunately for Harris, she didn't nail it this time around.  Perhaps some of the myriad loose ends she left hanging were for book three.  If so, that's fine, but some of them felt completely ignored at the end of the book.  Left there dangling, really.  And that "dramatic" but not so dramatic scene at the end to connect with the hold-ups she'd been dropping hints about through the book didn't work for me.  Felt rushed, forced, and sloppy.

Overall, I loved the addition of some more characters from Sookie's series.  I wish that the two characters had bigger roles, especially the one who had the teeny tiny role.  You'll know which one that is when you read it.  I don't want to spoil any of it.

I really liked getting a little more background on Olivia, the Rev, Chuy, and Joe... but I wanted more growth in Lemuel, Fiji, and Bobo, and even Manfred as well.  And we got absolutely NO character development or background for Madonna and Teacher, which is disappointing too.  Harris can't keep leaving little hints that Midnight is special and everyone is there for a reason and then give us NO tidbits or teasers or information on these characters.

As a whole, I was very entertained by this book.  I pretty much always am when Charlaine is writing it.  But it wasn't her best work, considering the relatively obvious mystery solution and the sloppy addition of more storyline threads and very little character development in general.  I'll definitely still read the third one, as I like this multi-verse that she has created but it definitely won't be one of those "GOTTA HAVE IT NOW" books.