Review: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
Reviews / April 18, 2018

Unbury Carol is a wonderful story that takes you into the mind of Carol, a woman with a condition that causes her to have episodes where she appears to be dead. She goes into a coma like state, her breathing slows to the point of being almost undetectable. From the outside, she seems dead, but she remains fully aware of her surroundings. She can hear and remember conversations that are held around her, but she can’t respond. It’s a living nightmare, having your mind and awareness held captive in her paralyzed body. This book is not going to be for everyone. It is a slow burn and the conflict is not an adrenaline rush type of suspense. It is a psychological horror that really focuses on Carol’s character and the fears and risks her condition presents. She lost her first love, James Moxie, due to her condition as he just couldn’t handle the stress of watching the woman he loves die again and again, always worried if she would come back. After this, she was very selective in who she told, worried that other’s may leave as well. After the death of her dear friend John, the only person who…

Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Reviews / April 5, 2018

I have to confess, I’ve had a mixed experience with Rachel Hartman’s other books. I did enjoy Seraphina, but I actually wound up DNFing the sequel. Because of that, I was unsure if I would read another book by the author. However, the description of Tess of the Road convinced me I had to give the book a shot. Luckily, Tess of the Road was an enjoyable read. I think I always will have a soft spot in my heart for female characters that want to break gender stereotypes and expectations and I especially like when they tend to break rules. There are flashback sections that show Tess being quite the troublemaker, or as her sister calls her a “spank-magnet”. But even though she would stir up trouble, she never did so with ill intent. Her breaking point with rules, family and expectations comes on full force and triggers her to forge her own way and take a path unexpected of her as she sets out on her own (using the girl dressed as a boy trope that I tend to be so fond of). Tess is not a perfect character, she does make mistakes and doesn’t always think about…

Review: The Defiant by Lesley Livingston
Reviews / January 29, 2018

I’ll be honest, I read The Valiant by Lesley Livingston pretty much on a whim last year. It wasn’t a book that was on my radar until after it was released, which is unusual. I read a couple of glowing reviews for it for that essentially made me set my review books to the side because it sounded so good. I was glad I did because it just happened to have everything I love and in just the right amounts. I am very happy to tell you that The Defiant continues with all the strengths and excitement that made me enjoy The Valiant so much. I still love Fallon as a character. She is strong both physcially and mentally, but she is not infallible. She won the admiration and respect of Caesar at the end of the first book, and now we can see how that has impacted her life. Her rise to be favored by Caesar And known as “Victrix” gave her a decent life, but when it comes down to it, she is still a slave and not free to do as she pleases. And winning so much also puts her in the spotlight for potential enemies. Also to add…

Review: The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis
Reviews / November 30, 2017

Overall, The Guns Above was an enjoyable steampunk adventure, with a strong female protagonist and airships and battles. Josette Dupre is an enjoyable protagonist who becomes the first female captain of an airship. Whether this assignment is out of earned respect or a setup to see her fail depends on perspective. Either way, its an amazing opportunity that came her way after becoming a hero when her previous airship crashed. And it turns out her new airship is not just any airship, but a brand new, cutting edge model. Again, since its cutting edge, the likelihood of demise is higher, so whether it was an honor or not is a bit debatable. But Josette is up for the challenge and handles everything with skill and humor. She really is a great character to follow as she lightens things with a great sense of humor and she kicks ass at what she does. One of the things that didn’t work well for me was the sexism. I know the author has done this on purpose, but the misogynistic characters in this just felt over the top. We get the view point from a an overly sexist character who’s only real defining…

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Reviews / May 9, 2017

The Valiant is a book that I thought sounded intriguing but I let it slip off my radar due to other review commitments. But then after I saw a couple of glowing reviews for it, I realized I had to find time to read it. Turns out I absolutely LOVED this book, yes, it is worth of the all-caps. Fallon is the daughter of a Celtic King, and has been training her entire life to be a fighter worthy of joining the war band. We quickly learn that part of what motivated Fallon is that she idolized her sister, who was lost in war, and is determined to become the fierce warrior her sister was. In her tribe, men and women fight side by side. She is head strong and independent, so wants to prove herself as a warrior before thinking of such things as getting married. So pretty much, she is exactly the type of female protagonist that I absolutely love reading about. The day before her seventeenth birthday starts as amazing. She is with Mal, her best friend since childhood, but she is starting to see how their close friendship could evolve into something more. And there is the…

Review: The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville
Reviews / December 5, 2016

“The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly.” – Andrė Breton The Arc de Triomphe secretes urine and the Eiffel tower floats on no grounded support. The mechanical elephant Celebes, once only a famed surrealist art piece, travels in occupied Paris and not alone. Manifestations of surrealist artwork, both famed and unknown, fight the Nazi occupation along with what is left of the resistance. “Liberation was fucked up,’ according to protagonist Thibaut. And that is before the reluctant forces of hell are thrown in. China Miėvelle is always ambitions; as one of the leading names in New Weird his works always live up the genres’ name. His writing will make a reader work and having Wikipedia, the dictionary, and possible a Harvard English professor around wouldn’t hurt when reading. Yet despite the absurdity of the premise, the Easter eggs of surrealist works most have never seen nor heard of, and an author secure in the knowledge that he is the smartest person in the room his works are surprisingly accessible. Last Days of New Paris is no different. A reader doesn’t need to know anything about surrealism to see this…

Review: Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
Reviews / November 28, 2016

It’s no secret I’m very excited for Rogue One this winter. While the movie can’t come soon enough, in the meantime I thought I would whet my appetite with the prequel novel that’s meant to portray events that take place in the preceding years. In case you’re wondering whether you need to read Rogue One: Catalyst before seeing the movie though, the answer is: Only if you want to. Like most Star Wars novels in the expanded universe, I would not consider it required reading, and might even recommend against making this your first Star Wars novel if you’ve not read any before. But if on the other hand you’re the kind of “big picture” reader who appreciates a good background story, then this book will likely put some of the movie’s events into context and enrich your experience when you watch it. Opening soon after the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and into the early years of the Clone Wars, Catalyst tells story of Galen Erso and Orson Krennic, both of whom will be featured in the upcoming film. A long and complicated history exists between the two men, and James Luceno seeks to explore this…

Review: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
Reviews / November 15, 2016

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi may be short, but the concept behind it opens the door for a much larger story. Imagine a world where death is not necessarily final, all depending on how you die. If you die due to illness, natural cause or an accident, then death is the end. However, if you happen to die by the hand of another, if you were murdered, then you will wake up, alive and well, in your bed. At least 99% of the time. So, consider the implications this can present, the different ways that people will be motivated to game the system of death. People participating in high risk activities, suffering from life threatening conditions, they can see this new option to hopefully reduce their risk of death. Scalzi’s world explores the good and the bad with allowing people to tamper with the natural order of things, as this concept pretty much it grants people a way to cheat death. Enter the facilitators for cheating death: dispatchers. Their job is pretty much to murder dispatch people just before they would otherwise die in some way that would not ordinarily grant them a second chance at life. Since this is a novella, I am…

Review: Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Reviews / September 8, 2016

Ghost Talkers is an alternate history set during WWI. The British has a group of mediums, called the Spirit Corps, that is used for intelligence gathering. Their job is basically to interview the recently deceased soldiers before they move on to whatever awaits them beyond this world. The purpose of these interviews is to get critical information that would normally be lost forever , intelligence and information that a soldier would normally take to their awaiting grave. I immediately found the premise of interviewing recently deceased soldiers as part of a war strategy for intelligence gathering fascinating. I couldn’t help but theorize how this could be used, what kinds of information could suddenly become available and I found the possibilities very intriguing (and plentiful). Kowal did a great job with the fantastical element in this story. I loved the mediums and how they were used to gain advantage during war time. Their abilities also carried a risk to themselves if not done properly as safely. Interviews were done with groups that contain supporting members to keep the interviewing medium from losing themselves in the process. Ginger is our main character, and as one would expect, is a member of the Spirit Corps. Ginger’s…

Review: Bite by K. S. Merbeth
Reviews / August 31, 2016

Bite is not the book I was expecting, but I loved every minute of it. For some reason, when I read the synopsis for this book, I got it in my head this was a horror book which was completely wrong. Don’t get me wrong, there are some horrors in the book and world, but it’s a very exciting post-apacolyptic story that follows the journey for survival by one young woman. The world and land has been devastated by nuclear weapons, water and food are scarce, and the surviving people live in a free for all type of world where raiders and worse roam, destroying any semblance of order or safety. Our protagonist is a young woman, traveling completely on her own for several years since the death of her father. This is a dangerous world for anyone to be on their own, but probably particularly so for women. But she is often mistaken for a boy, which probably works to her benefit. Her life changes when things start to look the darkest for her. She is hungry and thirsty, traveling alone in the desert. She starts to resign to her fate when she crosses paths with a group of…