Monthly Archives: August 2013

#BookReview – The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (@realjohngreen) #nerdfighters #thefaultinourstars

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsThe Fault In Our Stars – John Green
YA Fiction Romance
337pp

/mancard
In my man-card defense, I didn’t realize the genre until after I bought it on a whim; this was a Goodreads.com favorite, so I gave it shot.
/end mancard

“You have to promise not to fall in love with me.” If you’ve seen or read A Walk To Remember, then you know what you’re in for. “Fault” a simple and predictable premise: two teen cancer patients fall in love. One of the two is terminal. That’s it. That’s the main premise.” Do the math.

I have to wonder about the people that write book sleeve descriptions of novels. In my last review of “Wayward Girls” you already had an idea of what was coming. Well for this one, the description is a spoiler in itself. That said, I enjoyed this.

It’s a simply written novel. By simply written, I mean it’s a screenplay which will be a movie by the way, starring Shailene Woodley (good casting there) and some other dude from the Divergent movie that plays Caleb Prior, Ansel Elgort(who?). I’m doing my usual digressing here. The writing is simple and to the point. Not that I’ve read Nicholas Sparks novels (and don’t plan on it), but I’m sure it’s safe to say this is nothing like that. That’s not to say that this is bad story telling. There are a lot of great quotes in this here novel. If I could figure out how to look at everything I’ve highlighted in this novel on my Kindle, I’d share some of them. And by great, I also mean cheesy.

I’m not going to lie. I got emotional towards the end. This is no surprise when I get engaged with a novel that I enjoy. Usually I fist pump or go” WTF, are you kidding me?” to myself. This was more of a sentimental feeling. There were other parts where I grinned, chuckled, and laughed. No. I didn’t cry but I did find myself getting emotional towards the end. And the end…

When a main character dies (this is no spoiler, I did mention this is about two cancer patients), it should have ended. However, Mr. Green felt the need to extend it. I consider it an epilogue. He considered it adding more chapters and not calling it said epilogue.

If you’re a romantic at heart, you can do no wrong with “Fault.” It’s sweet and endearing. The protagonists aren’t too pretentious and mouthy unlike the movie “Juno;” I had to turn off that movie because I hate the Ellen Page’s character. I don’t know what characterizes “chick lit ( a term which I find offensive but that’s another story),” but if I had to guess, I think I just read one for young adults. Okay?

Purchase this book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Paperback and ebook giveaway

Enter to win a paperback or ebook copy of Eyes of the Chameleon, The - Graham A. Dixon

The Eyes of the Chameleon

by Graham Dixon

Cassius Toledo is a detective with the Berkeley Police Department. And while unusual is not unexpected in the Berkeley area, even he finds the randomly placed eyeballs that keep popping up at various locations a bit odd. What they lead to is even odder. He finds himself involved in a mystery that is much larger than just the Berkeley campus and eventually takes him and an unusual team halfway around the world. How do eyeballs, a group of witches and the Yangtze Damn all come together… that is what he has to find out before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Eyes of the Chameleon by Graham A. Dixon

The Eyes of the Chameleon

by Graham A. Dixon

Giveaway ends September 15, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Enter to win an ebook at

ebook giveaway

You can also read a free excerpt at www.cassiustoledo.us

The Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch #review

The start of this book is a bit chaotic and confusing – and while I feel that was on purpose – it did make it a little difficult to get into the story.

Danielle Monsch has imagined a world where our earth has collided and combined with another dimension in which many of the creatures and races we had thought to be myth actually exist.

The main story takes place 26 years after this event.

Larissa is a 26 year old young woman born at the very moment of this cataclysmic merging of two realities. Her father and 4 brothers are all police in the same town. This town is supposedly protected by magical wards from many of these new mythical races.

And as to be expected – there is something about Larissa that makes her different and special – that she is of course unaware of.

The Stone Guardian from the title is actually a Gargoyle. He is the leader of the secretive and feared gargoyles and is called Terak.

Terak and Larissa are drawn into a life or death mystery about what makes her special and how it relates to the end of the world.

And there is a love story. Between the Gargoyle and the human.

And that would be ok – if it wasn’t so awkwardly  portrayed.

Monsch does not seem comfortable writing about and expressing sexual thoughts and situations – so you end up with 2 twentysomething adults expressing their sexual desires and wishes like gawky teens in the middle of puberty. And they are both virgins. I don’t know if this is a nod to the ridiculous Twilight series or some misplaced nod to old fashioned Christian values – either way it gets in the way of what is basically a decent and interesting story – and that is unfortunate.

A good concept, some decent writing and the start of intriguing characters are bogged down by the fact that the author can’t decide whether she is writing a YA novel or more mature adult fiction.

If she can make a decision and embrace it – and leave out the awkward sex scenes – this series could be alright.

I was provided a gratis copy for review.

A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway #review

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Steam Punk.

I have heard alot about it, but have tended to avoid it.

The idea of mixing Victorian sensibilities with fantastical steam powered pseudo-modern gadgetry and a dash of magic seemed to be trying too hard. I have picked up and put back several of the tomes over the years without feeling the need to sit down and dig in.

SO – this is the first Steam Punk novel I have actually read.

And it was’t bad.

Jane Holloway writes an intriguing tale.

Because this was the second book in a series it took me a bit to feel like I really had a grasp on the world and how it works. Exactly how steam is supposed to do everything it somehow does is still a mystery to me. For the sake of the story I was able to suspend most of my questions and just accept it though.

The story somewhat centers around the niece of Sherlock Holmes, Evelina, and her friends. Evelina is a very progressive modern girl who happens to be able to use magic. Her friend Imogen is having lucid nightmares that may be tied to a string of Jack the Ripperish murders. Nick is a Gypsy pirate who also possess magical powers and happens to have an elemental spirit to control his airship.

From what I can tell this is a well thought out series. This second book could stand alone as a story but obviously works within the larger narrative as well.

I felt the opening dragged a little and was a tad confusing – but if one has read the first book that might not be a problem.

It was engaging and I might be tempted to read the next in the series – but I’m still on the fence about completely embracing the whole steam-punk world.

I was provided a gratis copy for the purpose of review.

 

#BookReview – The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown (@karenbrownbooks) – @Atriabooks

wayward
The Longings of Wayward Girls – Karen Brown
Fiction
336pp

It was the summer of 1979. We’re introduced to Sadie Watkins. A young girl with a vivid imagination and aspirations, intent on leaving her small Connecticut town.

It is now the fall of 2003. Sadie Watkins is now Sadie Stahl. Sadie has married and is now with two young children, yet, still in same small Connecticut town. Not much has changed.

“Wayward Girls” tells the story of Sadie Watkins as both a young girl and as a mother of two. As a young girl we find Sadie and her friend pull off a prank that goes terribly wrong (Hey, don’t hate! No spoiler here, it’s on the back of the book’s sleeve description!). As an adult we find Sadie Stahl encountering a person from the past of 1979. Let the fun begin as the past and present intersect to tell the story of a young girl coming of age and of a woman who has fallen into the same path as her mother.

Told in both third person past tense and first person present tense as she switches from a young Sadie to an older Sadie, respectively, Karen Brown does a brilliant job and describing the atmosphere and setting of a small town. I’m too young to know what 1979 in a small sub-urban town may have been like, but Ms. Brown presents to the reader a vivid description throughout the novel of the feelings, the sounds, and the sights of what it must be like. It’s not just 1979. Ms. Brown does an excellent job of character development of Sadie to us, the reader, as the novel progresses.

That said, from a technical standpoint, I loved it. However, I hated the story itself.

Antipathy and pity toward our “protagonist,” Sadie, is what I felt (as I’ve mentioned in a previous book review: if you can feel something about the character(s), the author must be doing something right vs. feeling apathetic). I can understand the decisions Sadie has made but from the outside looking in, I wanted to throw this book many times. I’ve sent texts to a friend as to how much I hated this and I felt like I had to soldier through this novel. But then it picked up 200 pages later. Yes, I said 200 pages later (out of 300 plus).

I’m going to backtrack a bit. I had described this book as “fiction.” Expanding on that, Goodreads.com has tags that describe this as fiction suspense, thriller, and/or psychological thriller. It’s not. It really is just romance fiction with elements of “thriller.” It’s not until the final 100 pages that the “thriller” kicks in, and even then, I found it far from thrilling although I must admit, it was an intelligent, well thought out, unconvoluted wrap up to the story.

I read that someone stopped reading with about 50 pages left in the book before (s)he gave up and didn’t care how it ended. For me? “Wayward Girls” is like one of those TV Shows/Movies where you’ve already vested so much time into it that you have to see it through. And to be honest, despite the arduous 200 page journey, the destination was grand.

Purchase from :

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

#Review – Hood by @StephenLawhead // Historical Fantasy


Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead
Book One of the King Raven Trilogy
Historical Fantasy 496 pp

The year is 1093. The King of England is William II, aka William the Red, and the Normans are plotting their further control over English territories. And Wales becomes the screwed casualty. Thus starts our adventures with Bran ap Brychan and his “merrymen.”

Hood a tale that re-imagines the lore of Robin Hood not as English but as Welsh. If you’re like me, the only thing you know about Robin Hood is from the Looney Toons or Disney’s anthropomorphic version, i.e., limited. There’s also Errol Flynn and Kevin Costner’s interpretation of Robin Hood of which I’ve never seen. And there’s Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood which I suppose is forgetful because I recall nothing of it, but I digress.

Going into this with limited knowledge of Robin Hood, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. The character development of our protagonist was great; slow building but by the end of the novel a fist pump is in order, especially by the end of the epilogue. The characterizations of the antagonists are grand; you hate them with varying degrees of odiousness. However, as much as I loved the protagonist, Bran, I found myself having more affection towards the supporting characters behind Bran. If one of those characters gets written off, I may or may not become emo-devastated.

By the end of Book One, the tone has been set, the intrigue established leading into Book Two.

With an open mind and open to genres, I don’t think you can do wrong with Hood. There’s a certain realism with the setting and environments presented to the reader. The fantasy portion seems to be steeped in Albion folklore/fairy tales and not necessarily, “I cast magic missile on your ass.” I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “must read” book, but something to add to the queue should the genre fit your mood.

#Dust Day! @hughhowey releases Volume 3 in the #Wool Saga! 8/17/2013

Dust Saga Volume 3
Exciting news for all you Woolverse fans out there — Today is the day Hugh Howey (http://www.hughhowey.com) releases his third and final volume (*panic*) of the Wool saga.

Here’s the brief description, for those who are not yet familiar with the Wool stories:

In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.

If you are absolutely new to Wool, you’ll need to start at the beginning and move your way through. Trust me, it’s worth it. I’ve turned at least 5-6 friends into Woolites, and I’d like to turn you, too.

Start with Wool, keep moving through with Shift, finish up with Dust. Wonder how you’ve survived the past [however many years] without Hugh Howey as a part of your reading list.

Amazon links:

Wool – Omnibus Edition (1-5) (Volume 1)
Shift – Omnibus Edition (1-3) (Volume 2)
Dust (Volume 3)

Barnes & Noble links:

Wool Omnibus (1-5)
Shift Omnibus (1-3)
Dust

#review – Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather (@PhutureNews) – New York catastrophe.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I got this book (well, I had an inkling given the title and coverart). Gifted to me by a friend, my opinion going into it was, “meh.” I went to goodreads.com and amazon.com to check out the reviews and the premise and it seemed interesting enough.

Set in present day New York, we’re presented with a chain of events that isolate New York from the rest of the world. You have 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and now this…

We follow two sets of families that are neighbors in an apartment complex as the shit hits the proverbial fan. As I kept reading, I kept thinking, “Ok, get to the nitty gritty of it all! What’s going on here!?” But instead, it became a development of themes: family, survival, and community (or lack thereof). Chapter by chapter I was left with thinking, “What would I do? Can I do what they did?”

Clocking in at 353 pp, it’s a quick read given the prose. For me, it reads like a screenplay (take that as you will); everything is straightforward and to the point. The prose was not nearly as elaborate as when I was reading, “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell”, but what can you do? Everyone has their own writing style and what’s important is how you feel (hopefully something) by the end of the novel.

The ending of the novel could have gone one of several ways. In the end I would have been satisfied with any of the various scenarios that it could have gone, given the build up. With “Cyberstorm” it’s all about the journey.

Cyberstorm is available at amazon : Buy Now!!

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Celebrity accessibility via Twitter & Facebook – @doctorkarl, @wjdavies, @neilhimself, @orangewriters

Reaching out to interact with those we find wonderful/talented/beautiful/intriguing and having the opportunity to be noticed by them, or even engage with them is exciting, and with the explosion of social media in recent years, those opportunities have expanded. The latest trend of accessibility of those we hold dear who are also well-known is cool.

My own list:

    Authors

Hugh Howey
Neil Gaiman
WJ Davies
Jason Gurley
Patrice Fitzgerald
Judy Blume
Michael Bunker
Tahlia Newland
Piper Kerman

(gee, no obvious trend there)

    Television Actors / Writers

Wil Wheaton
Marlee Matlin
John Barrowman
Wayne Brady
Shawn Ashmore
Eliza Dushku
The entire cast of Orange Is The New Black
OITNB’s writers

    Science-y Types

Michio Kaku
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki

The cast and writers of Orange Is The New Black often have “Twitter parties” scheduled for an hour at a time once a week where fervent fans are given the opportunity to ask questions and have a much higher likelihood of getting a response.

Self-published authors frequently use the interaction of Twitter and Facebook to engage their audience, encouraging loyalty as well as effective word-of-mouth advertising via shares and recommendations. Almost all of my new book purchases come via the recommendations of people I trust, especially the rec’s from authors of other authors THEY like.

Who do you interact with that could be classified as a “celebrity”, be they local, niche, or “in their own mind”?