Sunday, November 19, 2017

White Trash Zombie Unchained: By Diana Rowland


WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE UNCHAINED

SUMMARY

Angel Crawford has finally pulled herself together (literally!) after her disastrous dismemberment on Mardi Gras. She’s putting the pieces of her life back in order and is ready to tackle whatever the future holds.

Too bad the future is a nasty bitch. There’s a new kind of zombie in town: mindless shamblers, infectious and ravenous.

With the threat of a full-blown shambler pandemic looming, and a loved one stricken, Angel and the “real” zombies scramble to find a cure. Yet when Angel uncovers the true reason the plague is spreading so quickly, she adds “no-holds-barred revenge” to her to-do list.

Angel is busting her ass dealing with shambling hordes, zombie gators, government jerks, and way too many mosquitos, but this white trash chick ain’t giving up.

Good thing, since the fate of the world is resting on her undead shoulders.

REVIEW

So, the first thing you have to ask yourself is why would a person want to read a series about a white trash zombie? Personally, I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading the White Trash Zombie series, but I have to say not only was I hooked from the very first chapter, the more important answer is BECAUSE THEY ARE PURE FUN!

In her White Trash Zombie series, Rowland has created an endearing protagonist with an interesting cast of characters to surround her in her journey through zombiehood. Of course, the books are not just about being a zombie, they are also about the struggles of believing in oneself, working hard, overcoming obstacles in life and ultimately succeeding, which brings a much more relatable connection to these books as opposed to the overall zombie motif.

On top of creating more relatable characters, these books are also highly addicting. In fact, as mentioned above, Diana Rowland’s writing reeled me in from the very beginning, in part, because the characters are likable and endearing, in part because of the witty and engaging dialog, and in part of the fast-paced action that ultimately drives the book.

In White Trash Zombie Unchained, Rowland sets in motion a new series of events that has drastic ramifications to the overall plot in the White Trash Zombie series. Characters that were once thought dead will be brought back into the fold, new zombie traits and tricks are learned, and even love is in the air with relationships blossoming among our cast of characters.

All in all, White Trash Zombie is a great addition to the White Trash Zombie series. It is an easy to read, fast paced book that it filled with likable characters, and more action than you can shake a stick at. While I would recommend reading the other books in the series first, there is no doubt that this book and the other books in the series are pure fun!

INFO

Publisher: DAW

Published: September 5, 2017

Price: $7.99

Link to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IAUG4WO/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1YQVFJPQETA7P&colid=3G2Q4F0PGLI5U

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Brother's Ruin: By Emma Newman


BROTHER'S RUIN

SUMMARY


The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben's life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn't a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

REVIEW

I know this is old news, but I am a BIG fan of Tor.com’s publishing of novellas in physical formats. While I can’t speak to everyone, this has certainly increased the number of novellas that I have read in the last few years, and it has dramatically increased the number of novellas I’ve read from new authors who I hadn’t read before (usually I would read novellas by established authors I was already a fan of, when they would release a novella to tide their readers in-between books).

Emma Newman is one of the new authors that I was introduced to because of Tor.com’s novella publishing plan, and I’m certainly glad that I was.

Newman’s Brother’s Ruin begins in 19th century England, where those that have magical talents are required to turn themselves into the government for training and regulation. This system is heavily based on a carrot and stick incentive program, if you report yourself, then your family will be handsomely rewarded, and if you don’t then the mages will find you and drag you to them, your family will get nothing, and your family will have shame rain down upon it from the neighboring communities. So, it is no great surprise that the main character, Charlotte, is talented and has been keeping it a secret. What makes it more interesting and what gets the ball rolling is that her brother, Ben, offers himself for conscription into the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts (the mages), when he thinks he is performing magic, when in reality it was his sister. A testing occurs and events are struck into motion that place both Charlotte and Ben into the mages sight lines.

Without giving more away, this was a fun novella that felt as if it was setting the stage for a larger series. A larger conspiracy is hinted at, a dastardly plot ruined, and the players put in place for larger roles and training in the world of magic.

As for the characters, while at times some of the minor characters such as Charlotte and Ben’s parents seemed a bit one-dimensional, many of the other characters offered great promise for future character growth, which is all one can hope for in a 192 page book.

All in all, I enjoyed Brother’s Ruin. I tried it out because of it’s awesome title and I’m certainly glad that I did. I’d be happy to pick up a future installment of this potential series.

INFO

Publisher: Tor.com

Published: March 14, 2017

Price: $3.99

Link to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Ruin-Industrial-Magic-Newman-ebook/dp/B01JZ6SIVM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511069608&sr=8-1&keywords=brother%27s+ruin
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians: By Brandon Sanderson


ALCATRAZ VS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS 

SUMMARY

On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry gets a bag of sand in the mail-his only inheritance from his father and mother. He soon learns that this is no ordinary bag of sand. It is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. Alcatraz must stop them, using the only weapon he has: an incredible talent for breaking things.

REVIEW

Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Are you looking for something whimsical, sarcastic, and all around action packed from a middle grade book? Then Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians is just the book for you.

I was more than a little hesitant to give the Alcatraz series a try. They seemed overly goofy, silly, and not geared towards my age group (myself being a 28-year-old and not a 10-year-old).

However, because this series was written by Brandon Sanderson, one of my all-time favorite authors (so yes, please note that this review is biased based on that statement alone), I thought I would give it a shot.

And let me say, I’m very happy that I did.

Not only is Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians full of fun action, witty and unique characters, and pretty much non-stop fun in a fast-paced form, but it also has enough sarcasm and self-awareness during its many breaking of the fourth wall to keep even older readers thoroughly engaged and entertained.

What do I mean by this you might ask? Well, when Alcatraz speak to the audience he often speaks in such a sarcastic and self-aware tone that readers can’t help but smile and chuckle to themselves. On top of this, when Sanderson so cleverly puts little tricks and entertaining tidbits in the books, such as making the last page of the book a false storyline that will depress and confuse readers who skip to the last page without reading the entire book, he just shows his genius in writing.

As for the books themselves, they are short and to the point. This is not The Way of Kings (Sanderson’s epic fantasy), which runs in at 1008 pages in hardcover format. In hardback, Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians is 320 pages of non-stop fun.

Of course, even though I keep mentioning that these books are loads of fun to read, please note that this does not mean that they do not have substance. Over the course of the series the characters develop and become more complex. Backgrounds are explored, weaknesses probed, and personality traits more thoroughly understood. To be able to do this, while at the same time being able to keep elementary age children engaged is truly a feat upon itself.

So why you should read the Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Series? Well, if you’re looking for a good series for your kid that will entertain them, that you won’t have to worry about them reading, but that will end with them asking to get the next in the series, then this is the series for you. If you have just finished a long epic fantasy and want something light but entertaining, then this is the series for you. Or even if you just want something fun to read at the end of the day, then this is the series for you. All in all, clearly I enjoyed this series and personally can’t wait until the last book in the series is released. But don’t take my word on it, go check out this series yourself, believe me it’s worth it.

INFO

Publisher: Starscape

Published: February 16, 2016

Price:
$16.99

Link to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Alcatraz-vs-Evil-Librarians-Versus/dp/0765378949/ref=pd_sim_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WTX671ZWQ9ZCFGCQ3D3P&dpID=51jOgzLsKYL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=detail

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Mad Lancers: By Brian McClellan


THE MAD LANCERS

SUMMARY

In the colonial cities and towns of Fatrasta, peace has never been easy. Immigrants fight amongst themselves or turn on the native population, while the governing power of the Kez Army steps in only to enforce the will of apathetic local governors assigned by a distant crown.

Young war hero Ben Styke commands a colonial garrison in a sleepy frontier suburb. When the governor’s cruel brother stops for the night, rising continental tensions force Styke to protect the people of his town in a brutal escalation that threatens to destroy everything—and everyone—he has fought for.

REVIEW

I’ll be honest, I’ve become quite the fan of Brian McClellan over the last few years. I loved his Powder Mage series including the short stories that helped develop character motivations and detail the important events that occur before the series transpires. These short stories include; Murder at the Kinnen Hotel, Forsworn, Return to Honor, and Servant of the Crown, and I’ve enjoyed them all thoroughly.

With McClellan’s new series, Gods of Blood and Powder, looking just as promising as his Powder Mage series, I was thrilled when McClellan decided to write a new short story about one of my favorite new characters in this new series, Mad Ben Styke and beginning of the Fatrasta revolution.

Not only is this short story filled with action, adventure and interesting characters, but it also gives readers a glimpse into a secret about Styke that not even he seems aware of (I would say more but I don’t want to give anything away).

I would only recommend reading this if you are a fan of the Gods of Blood and Powder series (which if you like reading exciting, well written books that are incredibly engaging, then you should be), but if you have read McClellan’s other works, then this truly is a must have piece of cannon. All in all, a must read.

INFO

Publisher: Brian McClellan

Published: September 6, 2017

Price: $2.99

Link to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Mad-Lancers-Powder-Mage-Novella-ebook/dp/B074SVVL8W/ref=pd_sim_351_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=SXT9FYT7KM71N9YMVM3C

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Godsgrave: By Jay Kristoff


GODSGRAVE

SUMMARY

In a land where three suns almost never set, a ruthless assassin continues her quest for vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia's suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow.

When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end him. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between love and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

REVIEW

Are you in the mood for gladiatorial carnage? What about schemes, twists and general backstabbing? How about some good old fashion cursing and sarcasm? Well, if your throw in a bit of family drama and some romance for good measure (I know one doesn’t often see romance and gladiator fighting in the same book), then Godsgrave is the book for you.

Godsgrave begins a few months after the chaotic and bloody events of Nevernight and I can honestly say it does not miss a beat when it comes to nonstop adrenaline pumping action. For that reason alone, readers will have a hard time putting this book down, but for those lucky few who do pick it up, this book has even more going for it.

What else you might ask? How about schemes and backstabbing on such an epic scale that even readers who have a bird’s eye view of the story will be tricked and shocked as plans and schemes unfold. In fact, just when you think you’ve got a handle on all the angles and where everyone has aligned, something will be revealed that shakes the very foundation of reader’s beliefs in the character’s alliances, leaving readers dumbfounded and shaking with anticipation to find out what happens next.

As for the writing, I absolutely love Godsgrave. The world building is grand and unique, while at the same time possessing enough European influences that it allows for easy connections for readers grasp settings quickly without being bogged down with overly cumbersome setting descriptions. The pacing is fast and filled with intriguing subplots that keep the reader engaged. And the characters are truly stupendous. In fact, Mia, the main character, has such a unique and captivating voice that Jay Kristoff so perfectly captures that it’s no wonder that Kristoff is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

All in all, Godsgrave is a great read. However, if you prefer your books to not have sex, violence and cursing, then this is not the book for you. If you don’t mind a bit of sin in your book, then go to your nearest bookstore or amazon and pick up a copy as soon as possible, as this is the type of book that will leave you absolutely dying for the next in the series.

INFO

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Published: September 5, 2017

Price: $26.99

Link to Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Godsgrave-Book-Two-Nevernight-Chronicle/dp/1250073030/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Besieged: By Kevin Hearne


BESIEGED 

SUMMARY

The ancient gods are alive and well in the modern world in this hilarious, action-packed collection of original short stories featuring Atticus O’Sullivan, the two-thousand-year-old Irishman from Kevin Hearne’s New York Times bestselling Iron Druid Chronicles.

• In ancient Egypt, Atticus agrees to raid a secret chamber underneath the library of Alexandria, dodging deadly traps, only to learn that on-site security includes two members of the Egyptian pantheon.
• At a Kansas carnival, fun and games turns to murder and mayhem, thanks to soul-snatching demons and flesh-craving ghouls luring visitors into an all-too-real house of horrors.
• Verily, in olde England, striking up a friendship with William Shakespeare lands both Atticus and the Bard in boiling hot water with a trio of infamous witches.
• During the Gold Rush, the avatar of greed himself turns the streets of San Francisco red with blood and upsets the elemental Sequoia. Atticus may have to fight fire with fire if he’s going to restore balance.

More, you say? Indeed there is—including bogeymen, vampire hordes, wrathful wraiths, and even a journey to the realm of the dead. Prepare to be besieged with nine tantalizing tales—not to be missed, never to be forgotten.

REVIEW

Here are the reasons I tend to enjoy short story collections:

· They can introduce me to new authors;

· They often involve a fun theme, such as different takes on villains, or dragons, or roller derby, pretty much the imagination is the limit; and

· They are quick and easy to read, like a sampler of chocolates.

Unfortunately, when authors come out with short story collections of their OWN works it usually doesn’t achieve any of these goals. Reader’s are often reading the short story collection only because they already know and like the author, and in fact it usually is a terrible place to get to know the authors work if you are a new reader because they tend to jump around between books in the series, thus leaving new readers confused and jumbled. As for the theme, you could say the theme is the series itself, yet often short story collections such as this one are filled with previously published stories, so those that follow the author’s works get little to nothing new to read. On top of all of that the publishing of a short story collection of works in an author’s universe usually means the author is trying to fill time to keep fans satiated between books, which unfortunately often does not work, since it usually contains very few new stories in a series and often does not advance the plot or development of the characters the readers of the series love to read about.

So, after reading all of that should you buy Besieged?

100% yes!

Why, go through all of that negativity then if I’m just going to say to buy the book? Well, I wanted to truly outline how Besieged really is different than most I read.

First, very few of the stories published in Besieged have been published before, which gives actual material for readers to enjoy. Second, much of the new material takes place between the last book in the series, Staked, and the forthcoming book, Scourged (which also so happens to be the last book in the series!). On top of this, most of these are novellas as opposed to short stories. Why is this important? Not only do these novellas give Hearne more room to explore stories and stretch his creative legs, they also serve as a kind of bridge if you will between the books, because of the length of the novellas, readers are truly able to sink their teeth into the world of Atticus and the Druids (including Owen and Granuaile). Not only that, but readers are given a glimpse into the rationale behind Atticus’ motivations through Owen’s eyes. As for the novellas other stories, readers will be treated Granuaile going on a vampire raid, a new vampire threat who is even older than Leif!, Atticus’ previous animal partner, and my personal favorite stories of Owen and the new apprentices.

Ok so, you like the novellas, what else is good about Besieged? How about some of the other fun and exciting short stories. These include stories Atticus vs. the Egyptian gods, Atticus inspiring Hamlet, and even a story from Owen’s perspective on how he originally met and took Atticus on as an apprentice. All of these are awesome and entertaining stories that fans of the series will surely love.

All in all, think of Besieged as less as less of a short story collection and more of book 8.5 of the series. It is entertaining, full of likable characters and helps prepare readers for the events of the Scourged. Because of that alone, it’s a must buy for any fan of Kevin Hearne.

INFO

Publisher:
Del Rey


Published: July 11, 2017

Price: $27.00

Link ot Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Besieged-Stories-Iron-Druid-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01MA4NHAM/ref=pd_sim_351_15?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=ZKM1FFXTSBP4X48CPG9K
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Injection Burn: By Jason M. Hough

INJECTION BURN

SUMMARY

Skyler Luiken and his ragtag crew of scavengers, scientists, and brawlers have a new mission: a long journey to a distant planet where a race of benevolent aliens are held captive behind a cloud of destructive ships known as the Swarm Blockade. No human ships have ever made it past this impenetrable wall, and Skyler knows not what to anticipate when they reach their destination.

Safe to say that the last thing he expects to find there is a second human ship led by the tough-as-nails captain, Gloria Tsandi. These two crews—and their respective captains—initially clash, but they will have to learn to work together when their mutual foe closes in around them and begins the outright destruction of their vessels—along with any hope of a return to Earth.

REVIEW

So let’s start this review out by asking a very simple question to those reading this.

Did you read the prior Dire Earth Cycle books in the series?

If not, WHY NOT? (but seriously they are fun, engaging fly by the seat of your pants books that are definitely worth a read!).

Assuming you have not read the previous books in the series, let’s assume for the sake of argument that you want to start with this book, Injection Burn, without having read the other books in the Dire Earth Cycle. You want to know, is this a bad idea. The answer is mixed. Could you read Injection Burn without having read the previous books in the series. Yes, you could. In fact, enough of the story is summarized and new characters introduced that you could probably catch the drift of the previous books and still thoroughly enjoy Injection Burn. HOWEVER, if you wanted to FULLY enjoy the Dire Earth Cycle, then I’d recommend reading all of the books in the series in order, purely from a character development standpoint (ok… and because they are awesome books that are fun to read, and I’d hate to see them ruined because you skipped ahead).

In fact, the best way to think of Injection Burn, is an accelerated on-ramp for new readers, which also moves the plot along a few thousand years for the main characters in the previous Dire Earth Cycle books, thus moving the ball along for older fans of the series.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s discuss the book, Injection Burn, itself.

As mentioned above, the primary advantage of reading the previous Dire Earth Cycle books before Injection Burn, is the character development that has occurred up to this point in the series. While Hough does summarize the relationships between the older characters in the series, he does not spend a lot of time building on these relationships. Instead Hough has focused his character development prowess on the other newer characters in the Dire Earth Cycle, such as Gloria, Beth and Xavi. Speaking of new characters, I can’t wait until Beth meets the main crew of Eve, as her obsession and fanboy tendencies with the crew of Eve will lead to particularly hilarious results. In fact, between Skyler’s awkwardness, Prumble’s reveling in it, to Sam’s annoyance and probably threats of bodily harm if it isn’t stopped, this scenes almost rights itself in its hilarity.

That said, readers of the Dire Earth Cycle are really in it for the action, and while Hough spent a decent amount of time setting the stage for the big events, the resulting action scenes in the final third of the book are more than worth the wait. In fact, all of the Dire Earth Cycle are great book for anyone looking for massive adrenaline shots from their books (think the equivalent of six cappuccinos in book form). And in Injection Burn, Hough has done an absolutely fantastic job of creating tense, enthralling situations that keep even the most easily distracted reader glued to their seats.

Of course, the other two thirds of Injection Burn do not leave readers bored waiting for the action and suspense. As mentioned above, Hough uses this time to set the stage so that interactions of every kind are ripe with tension and mistrust. Therefore, not only do you have chaos from the battles with the enemy (the Scipios) but there are massive amounts of confusion, suspicion and even violence and threats between the new characters, old characters, and even characters who readers thought were allies.

All in all, Injection is a fun book that is a perfect on-ramp for new readers as well as a great continuation for fans of the previous books in the series. As a fan of the previous books in the series I enjoyed the new character and found the mistrust that emanated from all of the parties very organic and enthralling to read. Further, while Hough certainly has not scrimped on the amount of action in Injection Burn, it also feels like just he prelude to the real event in the next book in the series, Escape Velocity, which makes Escape Velocity my next can’t wait to read book , ESPECIALLY since it comes out in less than a month!

INFO

Publisher: Del Rey

Published: May 30, 2017

Price:
$9.99

Link to Buy:
https://www.amazon.com/Injection-Burn-Earth-Novel-Cycle-ebook/dp/B01LK9H94E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497021469&sr=8-1&keywords=jason+hough