Archive | December 2012

Best of 2012

I know everyone is anxiously awaiting my list of favorites for 2012.  Hold your breath no longer – here they are:

5 favorite books read (some were published years ago but I just got to them):

5. The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater – this is a great zombie novel with a strong female MC.  Seriously, more people need to read this book.

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I’m still trying to figure out how I’ve missed this series for so many years.  I have a lot of catching up to do!  (I’ll be posting my full review of this one soon.)

3. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke – Loved this story.  Finn is one of my favorite characters this year as well.

2. The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King – Again, why haven’t I read this series before?

1. Horns by Joe Hill – Such a different story that was funny, sad and everything in between.

Honorable Mention – While “The Passage” or “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin didn’t make my favorites list, they were an important part of my reading year.

Favorite cover of the year was “Crewel” by Gennifer Albin.

Biggest disappointment was “Reamde” by Neal Stephenson.

 

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this year.  I finished with 58 books read.  Not all were great but I learned something from each one.

Review – The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

MSDThe Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a book that has continued to stay with me even weeks after finishing.  It’s the story of Cat and Finn.  Cat is a young girl living with her parents (her dad is the mad scientist).  She lives a fairly unencumbered life – home schooled with afternoons spent wandering through the woods or graveyards.  One day her dad brings home a tutor for her and she meets Finn.  Her parents explain that he is an android but she doesn’t believe that.  At first she thinks he is a ghost given his pale complexion and dark hair.  Over time she does come to believe he is an android but she never fully accepts him as such.  She wants him to feel more for her.  As she grows up, her feelings for him continue to evolve until she is having fantasies of them being together.

I won’t give any more away because you need to read this for yourself.  There were times that I was so exasperated with Cat that I could barely concentrate on the story.  But, Finn broke my heart.  His struggle to understand Cat, be her friend (and more) and just live the life of an android was touching.  I know that sounds corny but it’s the only word I can come up with to describe the feeling.  I began to think about the rights of others, what makes us human and how hard it might be to understand someone so different from you.  But, it all comes down to compassion – even if the person standing next to you is made up of circuits and wires, how can you treat them as a lesser being?  And, are emotions always worth the heartache.  Would it be easier to feel less?

My ARC had a few things that were a little confusing but they are forgiven as this isn’t a final copy.  Hong Kong was mentioned several times and I got a little confused about that.  Along with a note that astronauts were speaking to each other in Mandarin.  (I’m assuming it was a Chinese spaceship but not sure.)  Regardless of these very minor issues, this was one of my favorite reads this year.  5/5 stars and highly recommended.

Thank you to Angry Robot for sending me an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review – The Intercept by Dick Wolf

The InterceptI received an ARC of The Intercept through the Goodreads-Firstreads program.

A group of brave passengers stop an attempted terrorist on a flight headed into the United States.  They become national heroes.  But one of the investigators, Jeremy Fisk, feels that there is more going on than a lone hijacker.  He, along with his fellow detective and lover Krina Gersten, is determined to find out what is really going on.  They will stop at nothing to prevent another attack on US soil.

The Intercept is a simple novel.  I don’t mean that in a negative way.  It’s simply a very straightforward thriller about terrorism and law enforcement’s difficulty in preventing such attacks.  I can’t say the plot twists or reveals were surprising.  I saw most (not all) of them coming ahead of time.

Fisk is strong protagonist and I think we will see several more books from DW in this series.

For the majority of the book, I felt it was a 3.5 star read.  But, because the action did have me turning the pages as quickly as possible at the end, I am giving this one 4/5 stars.

 

Review – Plague by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

hI received a galley of Plague from Netgalley and Belle Bridge Books in exchange for an honest review.

A terrorist is targeting the United States (specifically Atlanta).  His weapon isn’t a bomb, a gun or an airplane.  It’s Ebola.  Specifically a variety of Ebola that is airborne.  CDC doctors, the FBI, a corporate CEO and even Mossad are working to stop him before it’s too late.

This is a tough book for me to rate.  The high level story is very interesting and scary.  If terrorists really do get the ability to use germ warfare, we will be in a world of hurt.  But, there were certain things about the writing style that didn’t allow it to flow.  There were several sections with sentences that were too long and the result was too many commas in a section.  It wasn’t consistent throughout the book but when I hit one of these paragraphs, it was frustrating.

There were some plot issues that bothered me as well.  I won’t spoil them here but character motivations are important to me.  It is hard to believe certain actions are attributable to bright, successful people without more backstory.  I also dislike it when things happen to help the protagonist and they are too convenient and not realistic.

The author is a former meteorologist.  So, he used several cloud names including cumulonimbi which, again, just seemed liked overkill.  The word “cauliflowering” was used as a verb.  He also used the phrases “mushroom treatment” and “rock and a hard spot” which felt out-of-place and somewhat outdated.  None of these word usages were awful but they did keep me from enjoying it more.

I did enjoy the references to native trees and flowers in Atlanta – living in the south, I see most of these every day.  Plus, I lived in Oregon for several years and was excited to see Cannon Beach (one of my favorite places) referenced.

Overall, it was a good book but not great.  3/5 stars.

Review – The Shining by Stephen King

the shining“He would make her take her medicine. Every drop. Every last bitter drop.”  Chills.

Jack Torrance is a husband and father.  After being fired from his job as a teacher, he accepts a caretaker position at the Overlook Hotel.  He and his family will watch out for the place during the off-season.  Because of the winter weather, they know that they may be stranded there for weeks at a time.  This will give them all a chance to be together and also allow Jack to write the next great novel.  The hotel and its’ permanent inhabitants have a different idea.

The Shining is a frightening book.  Yes, it’s scary because of all the paranormal things that happen with the hotel’s ghosts.  More than that, it’s scary because of Jack.  He wants to be a good man, husband, father, writer, etc.  But, you see, Jack has some anger management issues.  He was fired from his job as a teacher because of an altercation with a student.  He broke his son’s arm in anger.  Jack is ‘ripe for the picking’ as the one to do the dirty work for the ghosts.

The Shining is also sad.  You could feel Jack’s struggle.  He doesn’t want to hurt anyone but his demons won’t allow him to live a normal life.  One of his demons is alcohol.  Most of us know someone who is a different person when drinking.  Jack is that person.

Danny, Jack’s son, has some special powers.  He has “the shining” or ability to talk with others with his mind.  He can also see what others are thinking and in some cases, what is about to happen.

Wendy is Danny’s mother and turns out to be one tough mother!  I much prefered her in the book versus the movie.

Almost every other character is compelling – Mr. Ullman, Hallorann and so on.

The Shining is a favorite and 5/5 stars.  Stephen King is now writing a sequel with Danny as the MC.  I cannot wait.

 

Review – Demons at Deadnight by A&E Kirk

Demons at DeadnightDemons at Deadnight is the story of Aurora Lahey. She can see demons and isn’t too happy about it. When they start coming after her, things go from bad to worse. On top of everything else, she can’t decide if the Hex Boys are her allies or enemies.

This book was a lot of fun. It’s easy to read and has a strong storyline. Aurora is one of my favorite YA heroines this year. The Hex Boys really were an interesting group. You can’t tell if they want to protect, date or kill Aurora. Ayden was my favorite as I’m sure the authors intended. But they all were a great part of the story and I want to know more about each. Still not sure about Matthias but I’m willing to give him a shot.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“…sometimes I could even locate them using this weird second-sight that I wished would go Helen Keller.”

“…but the truth is I’ve got grace management issues.”

I loved that the authors included some of the recipes mentioned in the book at the end. I really need to try Jayden’s Triple Chocolate Cookies.

As soon as I finished, I went in to see when I could download book 2. It doesn’t even have an expected published date. ARGH!! I need this book now.

4/5 stars and definitely recommended. It’s $0.99 on Amazon – a steal.

 

Review – The Department of Alterations by Gennifer Albin

Department of AlterationsThe Department of Alterations is a short story that occurs prior to the events in Crewel.  Karoline Swander is the wife of an influential man and they’ve been unable to have a child.  (Of course, it’s all her fault, right…Excuse me while I get sick).  Sorry, back to the story.  She has used up all of her legal options so she goes to a ‘tailor’ who may be able to help her get pregnant.  It doesn’t end well.

I enjoyed re-visiting the strange and awful world of Arras. The more I read about it, though, it is becoming clear that women really are second class citizens and men have all the real power.  I hope this will start to change as Ms. Albin continues the Crewel series.

Karoline’s story was briefly mentioned at the beginning of Crewel and it was interesting to get more details.  Cormac, one of the powerful men of Crewel, makes a brief appearance.  He really is a scumbag.  If I had any doubt this story confirmed that for me.  And, Karoline’s husband Max is quite the stereotypical D-Bag himself.

Just a quick note about the cover – the cover art for Crewel was gorgeous and soft.  This cover is disturbing but it fits the story.

If you enjoyed Crewel and want to read a little more, then go to Tor.com and find this short story.  4/5 stars.