Archive | August 2012

Review – Reamde by Neal Stephenson

It’s been a few weeks since I read REAMDE and I’ve needed some time to get my thoughts together.  This should have been exactly my type of book.  Here is the synopsis from Amazon – “The black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, former draft dodger and successful marijuana smuggler Richard Forthrast amassed a small fortune over the years—and then increased it a thousandfold when he created T’Rain. A massive, multibillion-dollar, multiplayer online role-playing game, T’Rain now has millions of obsessed fans from the U.S. to China. But a small group of ingenious Asian hackers has just unleashed Reamde—a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom—which has unwittingly triggered a war that’s creating chaos not only in the virtual universe but in the real one as well. Its repercussions will be felt all around the globe—setting in motion a devastating series of events involving Russian mobsters, computer geeks, secret agents, and Islamic terrorists—with Forthrast standing at ground zero and his loved ones caught in the crossfire.”

Doesn’t this sound great?  Oh yeah!  So, why didn’t I love it?

“It’s not you, it’s me” – I’ve had to accept that sometimes I just do not jell with an author or a book.  Because I can see the positives in Mr. Stephenson’s writing and the story, I think this may just be a case of wrong time, wrong place, wrong reader.

Now, having said that, there were certain things that rubbed me the wrong way –

– I love a book that’s over 1000 pages – IF it can hold my attention.  I am currently reading a 1200-pager and the next 3-4 on the nightstand are all over 1000.  And, I’m looking forward to each one.  BUT – I don’t like a 1000-pager that didn’t need to be over 450-500.  I think this could have been a great book if he really cut back on some of the extraneous-ness.  I got a little sick of waiting around page 500 and started skimming.  (See, I did care what happened but didn’t want to go through the pain of reading it all the way through.)

– Speaking of extraneous-ness: I get it, you are so much smarter than everyone else.  Let’s throw in every big word we know.  There was one character (Don Donald) that was supposed to be a pretentious blow-hard, so I’ve excluded things said by him.  But, was it really necessary to include:

– Epiphenomenon

– Verisimilitude

– Concomitant

– Bogosity

– Obstreperous

– Desuetude

– Cataliptic (I’ll admit, I still don’t know this one)

– And, my personal favorite – patrilineal.  Couldn’t you just say “Father’s side of the family” or something else that didn’t cause my eyes to roll back in my head?

– I found several proofreading errors including punctuation, capitalization, spelling, etc.  I have forgiven these in self-published novels or those where they didn’t stand out.  I couldn’t forgive them for this novel though.  It was published by Harper Collins and should have been proofread properly.

– Lastly, the MC was pretty much obsessed with his adopted niece.  He pointed out in several scenes that he is “not being creepy”.  Okay….if you have to point it out more than one time, then you are probably VERY creepy!  And, I didn’t get the sense that the author intended for him to be creepy.  So, it really creeped me out.  Make sense?

I’m sure some people have or will love this book.  It just wasn’t for me.  2 / 5 stars for the effort.

Review – The Last Bastion of the Living: A Futuristic Zombie Novel by Rhiannon Frater

The Last Bastion of the Living is the best zombie novel I’ve read and one of my favorite overall reads this year.  Rhiannon is quite a story-teller and not only did a good job at world-building but also created characters that I cared about from the start.

A zombie virus (affected are called Inferi Scourge or Scrags) has been released into the world and the majority of the population has become infected.  The survivors have moved together into a walled city (the Bastion).  But, they have no way to grow enough food and electricity can be sporadic.  There is a valley outside the Bastion that would allow them to have a power plant, mining, cattle and to grow food.  But, the valley was overrun by the Scrags when the gate failed.  A branch of the government, the Science Warfare Division, comes up with a plan to allow a group of soldiers to walk among the Scrags while taking them out.  They will close the gate, kill the Inferi Scourge and the population can move back into the valley.  One of the soldiers chosen is Maria, a war hero from a prior battle with the Scourge.  She is tough as nails but still a woman.  Her boyfriend, Dwayne, is also her superior officer (I know, I know…it’s okay!  These are tough times.)  Dwayne is part of the Constabulary (military) and isn’t included in the planning or execution of this mission.  When Maria leaves they find a way to still communicate covertly.  And, it’s a good thing that they do.

This story has it all – action, relationships – both romantic and friendly, political maneuvering, hacking and more.  I loved, loved, loved Maria.  She is a dedicated soldier, friend and kicks butt!  If there is a zombie apocalypse, I definitely want her on my side.  Dwayne was the perfect partner for her.  They had a real relationship.  There were a few plot twists towards the end (one in particular) that I didn’t see coming.  I love that!

There were several typographical errors but it’s an E-book and I loved it so much that I cannot deduct for them.  Definitely 5/5 stars.  I would give it more if I could!  Recommended for everyone.

 

Review – The Tale of the Vampire Bride by Rhiannon Frater

Edit: 12/4/12 – I have decided that I didn’t like my wording on a few things so I’ve tweaked the review.  Still love the book!

I loved this book!  It kept me awake the night I finished because I couldn’t stop thinking about Glynis, the main character, and how this part of her story ended.  As a woman, I appreciated her strength but she did try my patience a few times.  In the end I decided that it was okay for her to be a little petulant (stomping her foot and pouting when she didn’t get her way).  It actually made her more charming.  She may have been too harsh otherwise.   I don’t want to give away too much because I am recommending that anyone who enjoys vampire, dark gothic horror or just GOOD books should read this.

Glynis is travelling with her family so that they can find her a husband.  Keep in mind that she doesn’t want a husband but her family is anxious to get her married.  They love her and I think they want the best for her.  But, given the time period, this urge to get your teenage daughter married was the norm.  When they come to Vlad Tepes’ / Count Dracula’s / Prince Vlad’s home, things don’t quite go as planned (to say the least).  This isn’t Twilight, people.  Don’t expect Vlad to be a sparkly, piano-playing, tree-climbing introvert.  He is BAD and things get ROUGH!  Did I mention that this is DARK gothic horror?  Let’s just say that I, along with Glynis, hated Vlad with a passion during most of this book.  There is a love interest for Glynis, Ignatius.  But I have to admit that, as a character only, he wasn’t as interesting as Vlad.

When I finished the book, I debated the rating with myself.  It isn’t perfect (my e-book has several typos which would usually drive me nuts).  But, the strength of the story more than overshadowed those slight issues so this is definitely a 5-star read for me.  The scenes where Vlad shows himself, the violent life that he has lived and his true feelings were written in such a way that while you could never forgive him, you could at least have some understanding.  This is rare for me and it takes a very talented author.   Rhiannon Frater rocks.  Read her books!

Review – Spring Cleaning by Brandi Salazar

Spring Cleaning was the second book that I’ve read by Brandi Salazar.  It is a solid story that is well written.  In general, I thought she did a good job building the main characters (Luke and Terri.)  I would have liked a little more information about Luke’s past.  But, overall, I didn’t feel that it was lacking.  Their romance didn’t feel forced and I appreciated that it wasn’t “magical”.  They simply grew to love each other.

While the book was suspenseful, I cannot say I was surprised by the majority of the book.  For the most part, I felt that I knew (in general) what was going to happen.  But, I was suprised at the end.  The main character, Terri, did something that made me very proud of her and bumped this book from 3.5 to 4 stars.  I love it when a woman does what has to be done but doesn’t give up her femininity as a result.  She reacted in a very human way.

This was a self published e-book and I only found one typo (Colic instead of Cowlick.)  Impressive!

And, can we talk about how much the cover model looks like Jennifer Lopez?

Overall a good read and recommended for those that enjoy light suspense.