Book Review – Redshirts by John Scalzi

Title: Redshirts

Author: John Scalzi

Format: Hardback

Published: 2012

 

This book came to me as a recommendation of a co-worker and friend of mine.  He told me that if I liked the TV series Star Trek I would like this book.  I was told that it is a comedic take on the classic trope of red shirts always dying.  If you know anything about Star Trek it was always true in the original series that if there was a random person in a red shirt that was part of an away team mission, they were going to die.  The book tells the story of a ship where this fact is known and no one wants to avoid away missions as they might be that person destined to die.

 

I will admit that when I started the book it felt a bit flat, the story progressed slowly as the main characters who were all ‘red shirts’ were introduced.  It also bothered me for a long while that there were two similarly named characters Duvall and Dahl.  There were times it was hard to keep them straight even though Dahl is the main protagonist, a pacifist and male while Duvall is one of the supporting main characters who is female and a bit of a partier.  Still, when first learning names it is hard to keep track particularly when they are speaking to one another.

 

However, when the characters get on the ship and Dahl starts experiencing first-hand the oddness that is the spaceship Intrepid things grow to be interesting.  One minute, Dahl can be speaking with his fellow officers and the next minute they are rushing off to get coffee or have vanished to do inventory yet again.  When this happens a senior officer walks in and recruits him for an important and impossible mission, speaking about science that makes very little sense yet must be accomplished.   Given task Dahl is supplied with a box that works much like a microwave and will give the solution to the problem at the last minute.   In addition to this oddity there is a strange yeti man who seems to know that there is more going on than meets the eye.

 

While there is so much that can be said about this book a lot of it would blow the surprises contained within.  So without blowing the story I’ll say that the story is worth the read and the effort to get past the slow start.  The story picks up with good comedy, classic tropes of science fiction and a nice sense of adventure and impending doom.   You really aren’t left lacking or wanting in the story and it satisfies you in the end giving you a story that is well worth the read.  Over all I’d give the book 4 pages.  It isn’t a book I’ll go running out to buy a copy and tell all my friends about but for the right person looking for the right book?  You-betcha, I’ll tell them about Redshirts.

Book Review – Discount Armageddon

Title: Discount Armageddon

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 2012

 Discount Armageddon (which I will never spell correctly the first time) is the story of a girl. A girl who really loves to dance, and who wants to be a professional ballroom dancer. Unfortunately, this girl was born into a family who work with creatures of fairy tales and legends, and she will have to choose which path to follow, because she can’t follow both.

Meet Verity Price. After doing very well on a reality dancing show, Verity is in NYC trying to decide if she wants to pursue her career in ballroom dance, of if she wants to fall back onto the family business of cryptozoologist. Unfortunately, life gets in the way. A member of the Covenant of St. George, who pretty much have a “shoot to kill” order for the Price family as well as any cryptid that they see, has arrived in Manhattan, and cryptids are going missing. They’re going to have to work together to find out why, and to stop it all before the rest of the Covenant descends on the city and ruins Verity’s life in the process.

I enjoyed the book a lot. Verity is a fun heroine, one who knows what she’s worth and isn’t about to let other people tell her otherwise. And although she’s not sure which way she wants her life to go, both choices are presented as valid options, with both their pros and cons. I also liked that even when Verity is shagging Dominic’s brains out, that she doesn’t really trust him to have her best interest at heart and even though it hurts when she runs up against the brick wall of his convictions, she’s not willing to back down.

(As an aside, it was fairly obvious that Dominic was going to change his mind about how he interacted with the cryptids, but the change of mind was very sudden, and not believable. Some of this comes from the first-person POV, as we don’t get to see Dominic change his mind, and some of it is that Verity pretty much just believes him.)

I also really enjoyed Verity’s friends and family (I particularly loved the way she interacted with her old brother Alex, and am excited to learn the third book is about him). The world-building is not showy, but gradual, and every time you need more information, it comes out organically.

The villains – one is very easy to spot, as the text tells you about it, and the other I suspected pretty much on introduction, but even knowing about them doesn’t diminish enjoyment in the story.

While I enjoyed reading about the mice, I would never want to live with them. Verity is a stronger person than I am.

I have the rest of the series on hold at the library, and am looking forward to delving more into this world. A solid 4/5 stars.

Book Review – The Witness

I wouldn’t classify this as one of Roberts’ best books, but it held my attention once the main part started, and I might want to reread it as some point in the future. A solid 3/5 stars.

Book Review – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2012

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland is the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland and picks the story up a year later. September has returned from her adventures in Fairyland changed, and the past year has forced a bit of growing up, but also thrown a few obstacles in her way. She no longer fits in with her classmates – she’s been through things, seen things, that they haven’t.

On the eve of September’s thirteenth birthday, she finds her way back into Fairyland again. What she discovers there is that everything is completely wrong – her shadow, given away during some of the events of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, has taken over the Fairyland-Below and is stealing everybody’s shadows. In doing so, she’s also stealing the magic out of Fairyland.

Although September longs to see her friends again, she chooses to go to Fairyland-Below to fix the mistakes she’d made. There she meets with the shadow versions of her friends, but they’re different, just as her shadow-self is different. She also makes new friends, and new mistakes. One of the best things about September, though, is that she’ll admit she’s made a mistake and then try to fix it. (Sometimes she knows it’s a mistake and goes ahead and does the thing anyway, which keeps her from being perfect-and therefore boring.)

The big twist in the story resolves a question I’d had about a thing in the previous book (I won’t spoil either), and although it took a while for me to get into the one – I think i was more than halfway through before I got to the “no stopping place” – once I did, I plowed through.

All in all, I’m giving this 3/5 stars –  though it would have been closer to four with the slowish start.

Book Review – Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar’s Game 2

Title: Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar’s Game 2

Author:  QuinRose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published: 2012

 

Oh my goodness!  This book was amazing!  I have enjoyed all the love stories in the other books but this story is less about the love and all about the plot of the story.  This story is edgy filled with a bit of danger, and a lot of mystery as there are things unknown to Alice and the reader about the April Season and the truth about a lot of characters is revealed here on some level.   There is more to this Wonderland than we would have originally thought and more to the characters found here.  It feels like this whole story is about fighting for the life of Alice.  It is quite interesting to say the least.

 

The story is quite good and the character interactions are fantastic, I love the humor that paces alont with the novel and I love how the character interact with Alice and how important they all are to her.  Of course some of my love for  some of these characters might have grown with some of the side stories I’ve read but all the same it is quite good and I am enjoying  it.  I am quite eager to get to the next book and find out what the fate is for our dear Alice and she navigates through the fantastic world of Wonder Land not knowing the danger that she is in.

 

Over all, I would give this book a 4 out of 5 pages and say that you should read this book.  Read a bit of Country of Hearts, know what happens in Clover such as the land shift and the new characters found there then dive right into Joker.  I am most certain you will not regret it particularly if you like a good mystery of sorts like I do!

Book Review – Uglies Shay’s Story

Title: Uglies Shay’s Story

Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Devin Grayson

Illustrator: Seven Cummings

Format: Paperback

Published:  2012

 

It can be easily said that one of my favorite authors right out is Scott Westerfeld.  I have admired every single book of his that I have read.  I think this man is a master of his craft as he tells nothing but amazing and gripping stories even his weakest stories are still something I very much enjoy.  I envy him his skills in a good way.  So when I learned that there was a comic book that he had a hand in that gives more story to Scott’s amazing Uglies Story I had to read it.

 

To describe this book is difficult.  It was good the images were fun and gave me a lot of great visuals it was awesome to see some of the characters instead of just imagining them but at the same time, I don’t know the story was certainly not as strong as the original story. Really it has been a long time since I read them and I think that might have been some of my failing.  This book is certainly a companion to the main series and I think it would have helped if I had re-read the main series before getting to this story. As there were moments when the story crossed over with the book and in favor of not re-telling that story it left me going wait – what happened here? I know I should know what happened here but I don’t remember!

 

The book was good but really needs to be read shortly after you have read Scott’s book Uglies first.  Really this book has made me want to unpack my books and fine the Uglies series and re-read the story because it was that good and it filled me with nostalgia for the good read that the books were.  Over all I would give this a 3 out of 5 pages because it was a good read and it would be better if I remembered the original story better.

Book Review – Invincible Ultimate Collections Vol 7

Title: Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol 7

Author/Illustrators: Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn  FCO Plascenicia

Format: Hardback

Published:  2012

 

As promised the follow up review for the next book in the Invincible series, and I’ll start off with saying “Wow”.   There is so much packed into this one book that it is hard to believe and with that in mind I’m not sure where I stand on this installment.  Don’t get me wrong this was another great book and I enjoyed it, the art is fabulous as always and everything was vibrant and it popped but there was so much and it’s just I don’t know maybe too much in some ways and in others I just – I don’t know.

 

This time I’m going to be diving right into the spoilers of the previous books and so if you don’t want to know you want to go read the books and then come back.  Again as always you have been warned.  So Book 7 is the Viltrumite war as promised and so much more.  We are given action right off and the book flows more like a movie than a comic book I know both are visual media but I think the way the war effort was presented would be better on a big screen rather than in comic book format, particularly when the title character is not in action for a good portion of the story.  I won’t tell you why that is the case as that is for you to read. It was a good read, and it was neat getting to know Oliver and Mark’s dad a bit more but at the same time it read a little flat after the action as we prepared for the war.  That isn’t to say it wasn’t important to see it, it was needed to see the preparation it gave it a sense of reality.  Again visual audio media might have been more gripping than just images on a page but that is simply my opinion.

 

Anyway the action picks up and Mark comes back into play.  I will start by saying this is probably the most bloody of the books considering that this is a war and really how things progress and the conclusion of the war was really unique and it was kind of exciting to me because there is so much potential for future stories and really it was interesting, I really liked the imagery that went with it as well.   This gets us only halfway through the book and then things become a little episodic with small things here and there but at the same time these small things are of epic size and portions.  It was weird to me and it was different.  I think it was probably good in the overarching story to go with episodic moments instead of crafting such a large story as the series has been doing things for a while.   The characters deal with emotions from the war and it is true to human nature but it is certainly lacking in emotion.  In conjunction with this Mark is continuing to deal with the idea of who he is and what he will and won’t do – how far he is willing to go and the guilt of all the lives lost because of his failures and his actions.  Really, in a lot of ways Mark’s story bored me a little bit but it makes senses at the same time.

 

I will admit, that for me the most interesting part of the story was Robot now known as Rex and Monster Girl and what their alluded story is all about, something I very much want to learn about more because there is a lot of issues and emptions involved with that, but not much was alluded to.  I think the most bothersome and disappointing part of this latest installment was the end, it left it sort of flat and open, what Mark is doing makes sense and I like but everyone’s reactions at the same though in character just seems crazy and really it doesn’t leave a promise for a whole lot of action and I just have no clue what the next book will hold.  I always had thoughts and ideas and I was always left clamoring for more wanting to know what happens next but not this time.  Sure I’m curious and I want to know and when I can get my hands on the next installment I’ll pick it up to read but it won’t be agony to wait for the first few days/weeks after finishing the book like it usually is in the past.

 

With everything in mind, I will say the story is still good I still love invincible and there were some great moments but not enough to push this book past a 3 out of 5 pages.  Really this was a lot like the middle story in a trilogy a lot of stuff that needed to happen but not a whole lot to it.  Not to say the Viltrumite War conclusion wasn’t action enough but the war itself was maybe 1/3 of the book as the rest was the resolution and repercussions and one off stories that will I’m sure lead to bigger and better things in further installments.

Book Review: BNA 75

BNA 75: The Flight Plan of Nashville International Airport (1937-2012)
Text: Christine Kreyling
Format: Hardback
Published: 2012

BNA 75 is a history of the Nashville International Airport and its people for the past three quarters of a century.
The book has extensive history of the airport itself, but also great factoids on how airports work (For instance, why do you have to walk all the way to gate C-24 when C-2 through C-15 are empty…?) and great factoids about the area. (In case you can’t tell, I’m really into little trivia factoids.) For instance, did you know that Nashville had a library right in the airport? I wish that they still did that sort of stuff today!

If you aren’t into Nashville, a portion of this book isn’t going to be that interesting to you. But if you’re into aviation or airports, you’ll be okay with overlooking them. I’ll give this a 4/5. Read it. 😀

Book Review – Waiting for Dad

Title: Waiting for Dad: A Yoga Story for Kids

Written & Illustrated By: Lakshmi Gosyne

Format & Year: PDF eBook, 2012

 

Okay, when I heard the title and concept, I thought that the book was going to go one of two ways; it was either going to be awesome or awful.  

So the book’s a pretty fast read.  The entire PDF is only 32 pages, and some of them are full page illustrations.  Basically, the kid is waiting to be picked up after school, and Dad isn’t there.  So the book is the kid’s imagination of what could have possibly happened to him.   And, for each scenario, there’s a somewhat appropriate yoga pose to go with it.

I have to say, the Yoga felt a little out of place in this book.  For instance, at the beginning, the kid waves to a friend and then we’re doing the “happy pose” – um.   While the rest of the book is illustrations, the yoga is photography, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I have to question who these kids are.  I’m guessing they’re the author’s children, but their positions are a bit sloppy – which is fine if they’re kids a the class, but since these are the how-to pictures, I’d really like to see better posture, you know? Their side stretch, for instance, is supposed to be stretching one side and curving.  It’s not supposed to look like a kid raising his hand.

Also, the layout was weird.  I wasn’t able to get a proper side-by-side view (whoever did the layout needed to put in a blank page near the front) so I was seeing the wrong two pages together.  I don’t know if being able to view this book properly would help or not, but the yoga and the text are sort of smushed on the same page, and I think that hurts the book a bit as well.  

The story itself was okay.  I think it ended pretty abruptly – another page would have been nice.  Or even another sentence.

 

So, it’s hard to rate this book.  Conceptually, I like it.  And I think that if, say, a teacher was reading this out to a class and getting them to do the yoga poses that it’d be kind of cool.  But just as a book to read, it falls flat.  Because we don’t do half page ratings here, I’m going to give the concept a three and leave it at the rest of the book needing tweaking to get there.

Book Review: Orbiting Home by Jaxin88

Title: Orbiting Home

Author:  Jaxin88

Format: Fanfiction

Published: 2012

Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7896028/1/Orbiting-Home

I will give you a fair warning that this is not a typical book review and this type of review will be extremely rare for me as I typically do not read fan fiction but I figure if one particular book that I won’t properly name save for the fact that color grey play a large part in the title, that a better written fanfic review on occasion won’t do anyone harm.  Thus I am presenting you dear readers with Orbiting Home by Jaxin88.  This story is a cross over between Doctor Who and Firefly something I’ve wanted to see done before and have even had wry thoughts of doing myself simply for personal entertainment.  Thus when a friend of mine mentioned this story I was intrigued.  I figured the most I would do is peek at it and not really read it considering my patience for fanfiction is very limited for various reasons ranging from poor storytelling to terrible grammar that even I can’t ignore (which is saying something as I am terrible when it comes to grammar and typos myself).  Yet, when it came to Orbiting Home I was pleasantly surprised, before I knew it I was about eight chapters deep and wanting to read more!

When starting the story Janix88 warns that this is a continuation of a previous story they wrote but was not fully necessary to read first.  The big thing you wind up figuring out is that Rose ends up becoming Bad Wolf again and can with a thought travel through time and space and even freeze time, of course at a cost in regards to her strength and energy.  It is also revealed that she is not entirely human because of this and pretty much immortal like the doctor, whether or not this includes surviving something like a bullet is left unknown in this fic.  Knowing this before reading is helpful but not necessary as it was easy enough to figure out.  The fic follows Rose as she searches for the Doctor who is lost somewhere in the Verse that is known to those of Firefly.  It gives a good back story to how things came to be and include old villains from the TV series of Firefly such as Nishka and Badger and follows a modified version of the Serenity Movie considering the Doctor and Rose are present for this adventure now, and quite honestly both Rose and the Doctor are game changers.

Over all, Janix88 does a splendid job of capturing the voices of the characters particularly from the Firefly universe such to the point that I can practically hear the actors speaking the lines as the characters which is a rare occurrence for me.  Additionally the story played like a movie and I could see the images well in my head as Janix88 did well allowing the knowledge of the show to paint a bit of the picture and filling in the gaps with nicely done descriptions.  As far as fanfiction goes I find this to be one of the best out there, it is rare to find a gem like this in the world of fanfiction as most of it is very poor writing from budding authors who are just starting out.  Though I find most fanfiction to be junk that can’t hold my attention for long, I respect it for what it is as that was where I got some of my start in writing, becoming brave enough to share my work and learning the craft better than the basic skills that I started out with.  As far as fanfiction goes I would give this a four out of five page rating as things were well written and there were no gaping plot holes. As far as comparing it with a professionally written book I might actually have to give it a three it was good but certainly not professional grade, to reach that point there would have to be a heck of a lot more substance to the story, yet if that were the case my interest would have been quickly lost.  That is after all the fine edge of a fanfic as it needs to be short and sweet to survive will on the internet but then lack the quality of a book which requires more substance.

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