Monthly Archives: May 2013

KayKay #CRB5 Review #28 World War Z by Max Brooks

WorldWarZ

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

A co-worker recommended this book last year.  After reading the sample I decided to hold off on reading World War Z because it felt too much like Robopocalypse (which I really enjoyed.)  Now that the movie is coming out, I really prefer to read the book before I see the movie (even though I hear the movie has gone a separate way).  It’s rare that a book is better than the movie, although sometimes both are excellent (Shawshank Redemption- I’m thinking of you!)  How does this soon to be movie adaptation fare?  Here is what I thought….

Plot

The world has been run over by Zombies.  Some people die, some people survive, and the world eventually pulls itself together.  The entire book is disjointed stories about the same world event.  The stories did not tie well together to make a cohesive plot or story.

Plot Score: 2/5

World Building

This is set in our world, that has been overrun by a zombie virus.  The story starts in China, but branches out to the US, South Africa and several other counties.

Location Score: 2/5

Characters and Relationships

Again, this is where the story lacked for me, the event was the thread between all the stories, and sometimes the ‘output’ of one story is mentioned in another story, but there isn’t many relationships developed through the whole book.

Characters Score: 1/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

Be prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse!

Bigger Meaning Score:  1/5

Style

Opening Quote:  “It goes by many names: “The Crisis,” “The Dark Years,” “The Walking Plague,” as well as newer and more “hip” titles such as “World War Z” or “Z War One.””

What was so good about Robopocalypse (And my biggest complaint about that book is my inability to pronounce the title properly), is Daniel Wilson mastered the art of moving a story along, while using various points of views.  There was no movement in this book.  I was completely bored at about 25% into the book, and I wasn’t sure how many more stories I wanted to read.

It is also difficult to build suspense when you know the people he is interviewing survived (otherwise they wouldn’t be telling their story).  He did have a couple stories with a surprise twist (someone who had split personality, etc.) But it wasn’t enough to sustain an entire book.

Style Score: 2/5

Final Thoughts?

-I want to forget ever reading it…

Total Score and Recommendation

8/25- Skip it and go straight to Robopocalypse.

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KayKay #CRB5 Review #27 Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves

Interworld

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

I rarely re-read books, as I have a lot I want to read and not a lot of time to do it.  I had read this book a while ago and just realized there was a sequel.  SO…here I go, re-reading this book so I can be ‘fresh’ for book 2.  (These detailed ‘reviews’ also help me remember how I felt and key plot points of a book, so hopefully, in the future, I can just read this instead of the entire book)  Here is what Ithought….

Plot
This story is about Joey, a young boy (who gets lost walking from the kitchen to the bathroom) finds out that he has a special ability to ‘walk’ between worlds. He finds out that his Earth (which is like our Earth) is one of many in the Altiverse. The Altiverse is an arc of many different versions of the Earth, one end of the arc tips towards magic, while the other end tips towards science. The Earths in the middle are a balance of both. Each end of the arc has a group of ‘bad guys’ who try to take over the entire arc (using either Magic or Science). A band of Joeys from various Earths (some of the incarnations are girls, some have wings, etc. based on the Earth they originated from) work to keep the bad guys from tipping the balance.
When our Joey gets lost, he accidently ‘walks’ into another universe. This triggers the bad guys to come get him, and he is promptly saved by another version of himself (Jay), who dies in transit. He does pick up a Multi Dimensional Lifeform (Hue), which promptly becomes one of his closest friends (since everyone else is mad that he got Jay killed).  During a training assignment, his team is captured and he escapes, only to have the Old Man (who runs the Joeys) wipe his memory and send him back to his world.  His memory is revived by a large soap bubble (which reminds him of Hue).  He then proceeds to save his friends and continue his work to maintain balance in the Altiverse. (“We protect the Altiverse.  We maintain a balance.  That is our brief- to stem the twin tides of magic and science, to insure a mixture of both wherever we can.”
Plot Score: 3/5

World Building

The world is pretty amazing.

The Altiverse- “…looks kind of like a whirlpool and kind of like a tornado and mostly like the shape the water makes as it goes down the drain.”  “Some parts of the Altiverse listen- those are the Magic worlds.  Some don’t and would rather that you listened to them. Those are the science worlds.”

There is a wonderful variety of characters, people from heavier Earths that are shapped like barrels, people with wings, even a hybrid computer/person.

Location Score: 4/5

Characters and Relationships

Joey (and all the versions of himself)- he’s a pretty standard ‘good guy’, which is probably one of the downfalls of this book, since it’s a YA novel, the character falls a little flat.  I felt it was odd that he struggled in regular school, but excelled at “Walking” school, where the concepts were beyond anything we have on Earth.

Mr. Dimas- a really awesome teacher at Joey’s school.  He does a creative job at teaching his students social studies.  (“One of the other teachers asked what this had to do with social studies, and Mr. Dimas said that everything was social studies.)  I hope he plays a bigger role in future books.

Hex- Want magic to take over the Altiverse.  “Their artillery relies on magic-spells, talismans, sacrifices.” They are the bad guys in this book, trying to capture Joeys and use their spirits to pilot their ships.

Binary- Want science to take over the Altiverse.  “They used advanced technology…to radiate out along the arc, conquering as they go.”  They don’t play a huge role in this story.

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

None

Bigger Meaning Score:  0/5

Style

Defining Quote:  “Always remember: In an infinity of worlds, anything is not only possible, it’s mandatory”

This book was written by two authors, and I wonder how that works.  Do they write alternating sections?  Does one person write the outline and the other fill in the detail?  I thought the latter because the skeleton and principle of the story was great, but the execution of the detail was a little to simple for me.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

-I remember liking this book more the first time I read it.  I thought I was re-reading it as an opener to the second book, but now I’m not sure if I’ll read it.

-Recently I watched the new Star Trek movie, and noted that even in the future alcohol is the same.  Then I read the following in this book, and thought it was wonderful that someone has ‘futurized’ alcohol- “Why in the name of all that’s sane would we drink a teratogenic poison when there are so many other ways to construct ethyl molecultes that don’t have devastating side effects?”

-Another of my favorite Mr. Dimas quotes: “Sometimes war is necessary to teach us the value of peace.  Sometimes you need to learn the real value of diplomacy in avoiding war.  And I’d rather my students learned those lessons on the playground than on the battlefield.”

Total Score and Recommendation
13/25-  I don’t feel you can NOT not recommend a Neil Gaiman book, it is his not my favorites, but it should be read…

KayKay #CRB5 Review #26 A March of Kings by Morgan Rice

a march of kings

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

A March of Kings is book two in an (at least) 5 book fantasy series.  This installment was a little over 200 pages, so it’s not a long story, and it moves at a nice pace.  It is a YA novel, and a typical one that tends to be written a bit simply for my taste.  Did it have enough to draw me in and keep me reading? Here’s what I thought…

Plot

Thor, starts out in prison, saves his cell mate from losing a hand, and creates and opportunity for them both to escape.  The king has been killed (by Gareth’s boyfriend Firth) while Thor is in prison, and as Thor sees the king on his death bed, is cleared of all wrong doing.  Gwen forgives him for being in a brothel (which wasn’t really Thor’s fault anyway) and they spend a last night together before Thor is off to The Hundred (a 100 days outside of the ring where they must survive real world scenarios).  While in route via boat, they are attacked by the Empire, but escape going through a wall of rain, but the new locale promises sea monsters and other creatures much worse than The Empire.  (Or so we shall see in Book 3).

The plot was a bit thin and I have a feeling this could have been combined with the next story and not have been a standalone installment.

Plot Score: 3/5

World Building

There is something I really enjoy about this book.  It’s a little more YA than I prefer, but when I finish reading one I know I’m going to read the next installment.  The characters are a bit simple and the plot is a little light, so I’m chalking my enjoyment up to the world that Rice has created.  There is so much here: humans, the creatures in The Empire, dragons, druids, magic, myths and legends.  This world is worthy of an epic fantasy tale.

Location Score: 4/5

Characters and Relationships

Thor- The main character and, if all goes well, the wielder of the Sword of Truth and the uniter of all the lands.  (Pretty big legend to live up to!) He’s all about truth, justice, and the ‘American’ way.

(Does anyone else even matter?)

Thors BFF- Reece-We don’t see him too much in this installment (he helps Thor out of a jam), but I have a feeling he’ll play a bigger role once they get into their 100 day trial.

Thors girlfriend- Gwen, who may or may not end up being his step sister (if the King is his true father…) I guess it’s good they haven’t slept together.  Maybe this is why Gwen’s mom was so adamant about keeping them apart.

Thors current enemy- Gareth.  I say current, because there are bigger baddies he’s going to have to face, and I have a feeling Gareth should be dealt with by the time Thor completes The Hundred.

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

None

Bigger Meaning Score:  0/5

Style

Defining Quote:  “Nothing in this world- not you, not I- can stop the current.  It is a parade of puppets, in the service of fate.  It is a march of kings.”

Is it a cop out to write so many ‘gut feelings’ into a book?  Can we get a real reason a character suspects something other than instinct?  Thor ‘senses’ Reece will believe him, Godfrey gets a feeling that Gareth is involved with his fathers murder, Erec falls in love at first sight.  It seems that after relationships are established, one doesn’t have to ‘sense’ things anymore, you know a persons character.  For example, by this point Thor should know Reece will have his back, not cause he ‘senses’ it, but because he has built that type of relationship with him!

Sometimes I feel the characters act out of character- for example, King MacGil sending Thor to the dungeon when he had previously been fair and just- AND loved Thor.  Even he was confused by his own actions.  And Gareths wavering feelings on killing the king and the actual task of ruling.  I guess this is an attempt to build multi dimensional characters, but I’m sensing it doesn’t work for me.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

– We got the old ‘have you ever felt you were meant for something else” line.  Who hasn’t felt that way??  Everyone can be more than they currently are…

Total Score and Recommendation
13/25- I have already purchased the next book and will be reading it

KayKay #CRB5 Review #25 Crimes Against Magic by Steve McHugh

crimes-against-magiccover

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

Steve McHugh took on an epic task of pulling together every mythology that is popular today.  Fae, Vampires and Werewolves? Check.  Wizards? Check.  Gargoyles and Nightmares? Check.  Greek mythology? Check.  All of this tied together with King Arthur and the Knights of the Rounds Table.  Was he able to make it all work?  Here is what I thought…

Plot

This story follows Nate, a powerful sorcerer, who lost his memory.  At the same time you get part of his (immense) back story as Merlin’s assassin.  Presently Nate is working as a thief for a vampire though his human assistant- Holly.  After a seemingly random touch, he starts to regain his memory as his past rears its ugly head.  Before he lost his memory he was trying to stop a group from experimenting on kids to create the perfect fighting machines (gargoyles and nightmares).  Mordred, Nates archenemy- who is behind the experiments- finds out Nate is alive and tracks him down (thanks to Holly’s evil brother Lee) and holds Hollys family hostage in exchange for the research Nate took when he killed Dr. .  Nate regains enough memory (with the help of a psychic teenage neighbor- Dani) to find the missing research.  He then finds the Fates who help him regain all his memory (in a jumbled order), but gives him enough to fight and kill the Gargoyle Achilles.  He ends up killing Mordred via assassination in the epilogue.

Plot Score: 3/5

Location, Location, Location

The most amazing thing about the world that Steve McHugh has created is how he tied together several mythologies.  At times, it is hard to keep everything straight, but overall he takes standard mythologies to make a unique world.  It was an interesting concept to pull everything together.

Location Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships

Let me categorize by mythology:

Human- Holly, Nate’s human ‘assistant’.  SHe loves Nate and I hope in future installments that relationship is explored (at the end of this book he tells her he can’t be with her.)

Vampire- Francis and Laurel- vampires that help Nate out.

Werewolves- Tommy, a werewolf from Nate’s past- he doesn’t play a big part of this story because Nate hasn’t reconnected with him in the present, but I expect him to show up in the next story.

Greek Mythology- The Fates are the characters that give Nate back his memory.

Arthurian Mythology- Nate is actually cool with King Arthur and is Merlin’s Assassin.  These characters don’t really show up in this book, I would hope to see a future book with Nate in Avalon.

Sorcerer/Gargoyle/Nightmare- A gargoyle and nightmare is what happened when sorcerers use too much magic and let it overcome them (which is why I have grouped them together)  Our main character- Nate, is a Sorcerer, who at the end struggles to make sure magic does not take him over.  I thought he was a fantastic character, tough, but caring.  When people wronged him (or innocents), he was ready to kill, torture and destroy. And he had pretty kick-butt powers of controlling air and fire (maybe its is also a little bit Avatar the Last airbender)

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

None

Bigger Meaning Score:  0/5

Style

Opening Quote:  “Rumors of how the French had murdered their own people reached me long before I’d arrived at Soissons.”

I liked the way the book switched between the present day (with Nate’s memory loss) and the past.  The past and future integrated well, and gave us clues about Nate.

I have a terrible memory, so it’s hard for me to remember all the mythology surrounding the Greeks and the Arthurian phase.  I liked the attempt, but I feel like it may be better to not have introduced everything in the first book.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

-The middle/end of the book dragged a little for me (I employed those handy skim reading techniques), but I would definitely invest in the next book.

-Steve McHugh has great ideas, and as he develops in his craft of writing, I think he could be an author to watch.  There was a lot to this character that can be developed.

Total Score and Recommendation
12/25- I will read the next book, and I think the series has a lot of potential.

KayKay #CRB5 Review #24 The Godling Chronicles: The Sword of Truth by Brian D. Anderson

The Godling Chronicles 1

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

One evening my iPad mini (which I have promptly replaced) went all crazy on me and purchased book 3 in The Godling Chronicles series.  (Really!  This happened).  I decided to read the sample for book 1, which was good enough that I invested in reading the entire book.  I should probably note this book was written by a man and his 7 year old son.  Here is what I thought…

Plot

Gewey, a ‘normal’ boy, raised on a farm, find outs he’s the child of two gods.  At the same time, a dark power is rising to take over the world (and has locked the door to heaven so the gods can not help).  He is humankind’s last help, but he has not idea of his power or how to use it.  This book really focused on his journey and the introduction of his companions.

I felt it was a nice little adventure, although I felt like some of the plot points were just pulled together with no purpose in the bigger picture of the story.

Plot Score: 3/5

Location, Location, Location

Takes place in a world with gods, half golds, and godlings.  We haven’t seen much from the gods because they are locked in heaven. There are also elves, who don’t get along with the humans.

Location Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships

Gewey- the son of two gods, he just finds this out at 17, and is swept up in a journey to learn about himself and save the world (or at least hid from the big baddie).  I also did not care for the name Gewey…it doesn’t seem very ‘god-like’.  He is very trusting of his instincts and his gut feeling, so we will see where that gets him.

Lee Starfinder- A half god (son of the sea god), he is entrusted to keep Gewey safe.  I wanted him to be more of a good mentor, but he seemed short-tempered with Gewey.  He also has a goofy name (Starfinder).

Kaylia- An elf that Gewey saves and then joins his party.  Gewey basically proposes to her (in an elf language that he doesn’t speak).  She’s a great fighter, but young for an elf.

Dina- A half elf that Gewey is also interested in.  This is probably the most unique part of this book.  Normally there is one true love and you know who it is from the beginning.  Here, I’m not sure if it’s Dina of Kaylia.

In a journey I expect more character development, but these characters came off as a little flat.

Characters Score: 2/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

None

Bigger Meaning Score:  0/5

Style

Opening Quote:  “It was all the Dark Knight could do to keep his teeth from chattering.”

I haven’t quite figured out (for me) what makes a book YA.  For me, I think about the simplicity in the writing and the maturity of subject.  I love it when there is a well written YA book- like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.  This book was written a little too young for me.  Attention YA Authors: Please stop under-estimating kids!

The most frustrating part of the story was the randomness of the plot lines.  Perhaps they are pulled together in a future novel.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

-I’m not sure that this story is memorable.  I’m half way through the next book and this one has already started to slip from memory.

-This book really dragged in the middle for me, it wasn’t pulling me back in to be picked up and finished.

-Note to self: only read book 2 if in need of book to read…

Total Score and Recommendation
11/25- Despite the flaws, there were parts that I enjoyed, and I may continue reading the series (since my iPad mini already bought book 3)