Friday, December 10, 2010


by Aprilynne Pike

7 out of 10

To be fair, I read this book some time ago.  I actually read the ebook version, which only took me an hour and a half or so.  If I'd rated it immediately after reading it, I think it might have been higher.  I think the fact that I read book 2 before rating has also impacted that rating.

That being said, I liked this book okay.  There was a really neat premise, and I like fairies as a general rule.  I don't want to spoil the big reveal, so I can't say too much, but it was a neat idea that I liked quite a lot.  I don't think the author executed it that well, though.

Again, without saying too much, one of the biggest issues for this book for me was that the author kept emphasizing the scientific basis behind the magic system, but the scientific basis doesn't actually hold up.  I would explain how it doesn't hold up, but then that would be telling.  For the general intended audience, however, I don't think it will really be a big problem.  For the nongeneral audience, you may be able to suspend your disbelief better than I was.  Usually, I don't have a lot of difficulty doing so, but this was a hard sell.  I can totally buy the explanation of "it's magic" as long as it's consistent, and I can buy a strange sci-fi explanation, again, as long as it is consistent.

Perhaps that is the best summation of my feelings for this book: inconsistent.  I really liked some parts and felt they were done well.  I felt 'meh' at best about others and felt it could have been done better.

Recommended reader:  10 to 14 year old girl.  I think they wouldn't be bothered by the not-as-solid science background but could really get into the love triangle aspects that were present (and done well).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Monster Hunter International

Monster Hunter International
by Larry Correia

9 out of 10
Definitely not YA.  12-year-olds, turn around now.

Incredibly enjoyable.  Owen Zastava Pitt is attacked by his were-wolf boss at work and is introduced to the world of B-movie monsters that are secretly alive and well, unbeknownst to the general population.

There are werewolves, gargoyles, vampires, wights, and various other undead.  There are hot chicks with glasses, hot chicks with no souls, and everything in between.  And Owen?  Kicks butt.  I think that might be the actual translation of "Zastava".  Owen Butt-kicking Pitt.  Oh, and let's not forget the elves.

There's a little something for everyone.  On everyone's mind: does Owen get the girl?  You'll have to read it to find out.

This is a roaring action read, and you won't want to put it down.  The side characters are awesome and have their own well-developed personalities, too.  The reveal of Holly's story gave me nightmares, in a very cool and yet bone-chilling way.

Monster Hunter Vendetta is out now!

Catching Fire

Part Two of the promised series.

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

7 out of 10
YA post-apocalyptic fiction.

This book is a clear example of giving your fans more of what they like, but not as successfully as the first time.


You've been warned.  Okay, if you liked the Games in HG, there's more of that here, and it's good.  The games are different, but I'm not convinced they had to happen at all in this book.  It seems somewhat contrived that Katniss and Peeta end up in the games...again.  I mean, didn't I read that already?  I do like the secondary character development, though.  In fact, that's what made this a positive read.

All in all, I think this book is worthwhile to read, though not memorable on its own.

I Am Not a Serial Killer

No, seriously, I'm not.

I Am Not a Serial Killer
by Dan Wells

9 out of 10
YA horror-fantasy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I really like Dan Wells, not just his books.  You see, Dan is part of a group of three authors, including Brandon Sanderson and Howard Tayler, who make a podcast that I really love.  As an aspiring writer myself, I listen to Writing Excuses regularly (I hesitate to say religiously because I make it a point to only do religious things religiously), and I think you should, too.  Even if you don't want to be a's just that awesome.

The book is about a pre-sociopathic teenager who is struggling to keep his demons in check.  He's fascinated by death and serial killers in particular.  When a body is found in his hometown, he sees some red flags and knows immediately a serial killer has come to town.

John Cleaver struggles with using his particular knowledge set to help catch this killer without becoming something worse in the process.  It's amazingly well-told, and I'm sure countless fans wonder how Wells could write such a chilling main character with such insight.

We discover something that turns the story upside-down halfway through the book, and I'm not going to give that away.  You'll just have to read it and find out for yourself.

Beware: Once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.  And don't read it late at night, alone in a dark, empty house.

I recommend for fans of horror, fantasy, or really great writing anywhere. Not for young teens, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

8 out of 10
YA post-apocalyptic fiction.  This is part of a three-part series leading up to my review of Mockingjay, book three of this trilogy, which came out just recently.

Essentially, I loved it.  It had great pacing and was at times thrilling, sensitive, and romantic.  One major issue which pervaded the entire series was the lack of practical writing, which is explained in the podcast.  Collins seems unsure of how many people are really present in Panem, how big each of the districts are in terms of both population  and physical space.  I know district 12 is the most sparsely populated, but the inconsistencies require a suspension of disbelief that could easily have been fixed with an understanding of basic economics.

The games themselves are intriguing and thought-provoking as well as full of action.  I highly recommend this book to both young adult and adult alike.  There is mature subject matter, but little to no sexual innuendo.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


by Edith Pattou

10 out of 10

YA fantasy.  I rarely give a full 10 to anything, but I think this book deserved it.  Not that it was perfect, but because I would have no reservations about recommending this book to anyone.  No caveats, no hedging.  If you're a person who can read, I think you should read this book.

Rose has been brought up in a superstitious household, and there is some element of supernatural in her life.  This is a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon (the fairy tale), which in and of itself is unusual.  I have actually read The Blue Fairy Book, in which the fairy tale is recorded, but it's much less well known than, say, Beauty and the Beast, of which this is not a retelling.

As a retelling, I think Pattou does an excellent job.  There are elements that are taken directly from the fairy-tale, like the drops of candle wax, sleeping potions, and trolls.  There are completely new elements, also.  The guides that Rose encounters are developed characters in their own rights, and the birth-direction superstition is new and intriguing.

One thing that may throw readers is Pattou's use of shifting narrative.  At the beginning, we learn that this story has been recorded in a book, each person faithfully recording parts of the story.  The prologue seems almost contrived in that aspect, but the book itself holds up very well.  I typically don't like first person or shifting narrative, and this book employs both; however, Pattou does it so successfully that by the end of the story it seems like exactly the right way to have done it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Mermaid's Madness

The Mermaid's Madness
by Jim C. Hines

8 out of 10

YA fantasy, fairy-tale retelling. I couldn't decide between 8 or 9 out of 10, but settled for 8 just because it's very genre-specific.  If you don't like fantasy, YA, and fairy-tales, this probably isn't the book for you.  If you're willing to give it a try, though, there's a lot in it that is very well done.

I always think about who I could recommend the book to when I'm reviewing it.  If there's really no one that I think would enjoy reading it, it's not worth a lot of effort on a review.  When I was reading this one, I knew before the first chapter exactly who I would be letting borrow it next, which is a fun thing about reading.

My cousin, a 14-year-old girl, loves fairy-tale retellings.  I've read some that were okay and some that were pretty good, but this series has so far been awesome.  They're very different from the original stories and have a complete world they are all set in, which lends it a dashing-adventure feel.  Each book still stands alone, though I would recommend reading them in order so that you can get the character development progression.

That is one thing well done in this series: the character progression.  There are three main characters:  Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, and they each develop along the way.  As I'm reconsidering this book (it's been over a month since I read it), I remember enjoying so many different things about it that I want to get book three now.  As in, I have to be done with this review so I can find it online.  See ya!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Overton Window

The Overton Window
by Glenn Beck

4 out of 10

I have to say, I really wanted to like this book.  At best, I can only give it a 'blah' review.  There were lots of interesting points in this book, but it was interesting in the same way that Beck's show is interesting.

As a political thriller, it was distinctly lacking in the 'thrill' department.  The pacing and tension is very methodical throughout and doesn't have a lot of ups and downs.  At any point during this book I could have put it down without having to pick it back up immediately.  That's not a good thing in a thriller.

I had a hard time identifying with the main character, Noah Gardner.  Noah is the son of a progressive big-wig, and he doesn't have a lot of redeeming qualities.  He's not bad, but he's not really good, either.  It's probably pretty realistic, but it's not very interesting to read.  Molly was much more likeable to me, but by the end, I liked her less, not more.  As for the side plot with Danny, it ended up being majorly involved in the climax of the story, and I liked neither.

Without any spoilers, the climax was a little ridiculous.  And it went downhill from there.  Reading my review, it seems like I thought this book was really bad, but it was mostly just 'blah.'

The list of resources in the back in which Glenn shows where he got most of his ideas  was probably the best part.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Forbidden Game

The Forbidden Game
by L.J. Smith

9 out of 10
YA urban fantasy

This isn't a vampire book, in spite of being written by L.J. Smith (author of the Vampire Diaries, which I also enjoyed).

I read this while at Girl's Camp.  It is already a creepy story, but being alone in a tent reading by flashlight made this so much creepier.  And yet, I couldn't put it down.  That may be because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to sleep if I didn't finish it.  There was a satisfying amount of romance without being overtly sexual, which is something I really like about L.J. Smith.

The premise is that Jenny, who is somewhat shallow at the beginning, wants to buy a game that her friends will think is cool.  With some reservations, she chooses The Game, which turns out to be a portal to the Dark World.  Her nemesis, Julian, has been watching her for some time and wants her soul.  In order to defeat him, she must win three games against him with the help of her friends.  Each book in the omnibus edition details one game.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Sunday Philosophy Club

The Sunday Philosophy Club: an Isabel Dalhousie Mystery
Alexander McCall Smith

6 out of 10

Not a great score, but it gets slightly better than even because I did actually finish it. As a mystery novel, it was sincerely lacking. As a philosophy book, more interesting than not. Of course, I would like to point out that it is supposed to be a mystery, not a course in philosophy.

The main character is Isabel Dalhousie, a middle-aged editor of a philosophy journal. She witnesses a young man's death and feels morally obliged to investigate. That is the motif of this novel: morally obliged. She actually ponders (and does so at great length, I might add) the philosophical grounds for the majority of her actions, some of which could actually inspire debate, while others merely helped cure my insomnia.

There is really no fast-paced action or suspense. The whole book is like an exercise in the practical application of ethics. We could have read this in my philosophy class in college. At least in comparison it would have been interesting.

And there's just one little thing: Isabel is in love with the boy who is in love with her niece. It's excessively weird, and I just wanted to ignore it, but it kept coming up. By the end of the book, I was screaming "cougar" in my mind.

That being said, if you're interested in philosophical debate, it is fairly well written, and there is a plot behind all of the educational material.