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.

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