This was so enjoyable!
I was in the mood for a good mystery and/or crime drama and this book filled both gaps. The characters were engaging and interesting and the small town element was fascinating. I enjoyed that just as much as I enjoyed the mystery element.
The mystery itself was good -- it was actually two fold. We examine the mysterious deaths of Luke and his family in present day...while also flashing back to examine a mysterious death of one of Aaron's childhood friends. The two mysteries blended seamlessly together with the small town characters creating a rich story full of depth.
I can't write too much about the story lest I give away spoilers (and that's the absolute worst...especially with a good mystery). So, long story short -- check out this book if you are in the mood for a good mystery with interesting characters.
This book is getting four stars based largely upon the strength of Christian Coulson who narrated the audiobook. You might know Coulson as the young Tom Marvolo Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He was absolutely fantastic. He has the most pleasant voice that it made this book so enjoyable to listen to.
As far as content goes, I found Gentleman's Guide to be pretty good. The characters were interesting and the plot, once it started moving, was decent. I was worried at first because it seemed like the book was just going to be Monty rhapsodizing about how amazingly good looking he was...and that got old really fast. In fact, I almost put the book down right before Monty steals the item that kicks the plot off...I'm glad I stuck it out, though, because it picked up from there.
As has been my tendency of late with any historical fiction, let's talk about my biggest issue biggest issue with this genre...anachronism. When I read historical fiction I want the research of the time period and attention to detail to shine through the characters and setting. It drives me crazy when historical fiction is riddled with modern sentiment. Gentleman's Guide had a goodly amount of anachronisms sprinkled throughout that popped up every so often to annoy me. The strength of the writing and the fun characters (even though they were often the vehicles of the anachronisms) made the story worth continuing...I just wish authors would take the time to not promote modern themes in a historical fiction. (Although, part of me wonders if I can really complain about anachronisms in historical fiction when part of the plot centers around successful alchemy...which, while alchemy was an aspect of history, there's no proof it ever bore fruit...so would that make this a historical fantasy as opposed to a historical fiction which would then make my issue with anachronisms pointless? Don't know. I do know, however, that that was most likely a poorly written run-on sentence.)
My complaint about anachronisms aside...<b>Gentleman's Guide</b> was a fun listen with solid character building. Can't speak to the print version, but definitely check out the audiobook for a fantastic listen. Young Tom Ridde does a great job with A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue.
I won't lie...one of my primary motivators in attending YALLFest was that Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller would be keynote speakers. When YALLFest announced that they would be keynotes I was already intrigued by the premise of Otherworld (even though it was not yet published) and knew I would like to hear them speak about the book. Plus...I'm a fan of Segal's tv/movie credits as well so count that as a plus. While I ended up having mixed feelings about Otherworld (check out my review here), it was great meeting Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller. Their keynote panel was interesting (Segal even sang the Muppet song) and the meet and greet with them following the panel was great. Definitely the highlight of the day!
A quick rundown of what exactly I did at YALLfest (in list form because I'm a tad bit tired after the business of the weekend):
Pros and Cons of the weekend?
Interested in YALLfest 2018? Be sure to visit their website [www.yallfest.org] for more information!
Warning: There are some spoilers!
I'm really enjoying this new genre that's popping up (Is it a new genre? it's probably not new at all and I'm just late to the game...) -- the "Oh hey, the video game I like is actually real" genre. I read Warcross earlier this year (really enjoyed it) and Otherworld plays into some of those same tropes as well.
Otherworld presents some intriguing ideas...what if your favorite MMORPG game (anybody for World of Warcraft?) was revamped to allow for VR headsets? What if the AI in the game becomes sentient? What constitutes "life"? I think these questions raised by Otherworld are the shining moments of the book and I wish more time was spent diving into them. The Children were a fascinating subset of characters that I feel we barely scratched the surface on. I think we will encounter them in future books...but I wish more time was spent fleshing out their dilemma and their origins.
If you've played any MMORPGs before you will probably appreciate the various realms within Otherworld. I chuckled at Mammon which translates to anyone who is interested in inventory management and wealth accumulation in game (*cough* me *cough*). The jungle realm is essentially one big PvP arena. And the list goes on. Fun little nods to those types of players who play MMORPGs.
The book is dragged down somewhat by typical young adult characters. We have the rebellious teenage boy who is just "misunderstood" by his out of touch family. We have the damsel in distress...but not too much distress...that the boy is trying to rescue. Evil parents - either through deliberate maliciousness or being out of touch - make regular appearances as well. The characters seem a bit flat in light of the Otherworld backdrop.
I had one big issue with the book's plotting (spoiler ahead!): We spend most of the book trying to find Kat...where has Kat gone...how do we meet her at the Glacier...where is Kat...etc... Then Simon plugs back in at one point and -BAM- there's Kat. She's just...there. I remember feeling really irritated when I read that. We just spent 2/3 of the book on a search for Kat and there's no reward for it. He plugs back in and she's just there whispering to him to wake up in Otherworld? How...anticlimactic. I wanted more from their reunion...more from Simon finally catching up with Kat. It felt like it kind of fizzled.
I was rather let down by the ending as well. I thought it was a solid build up with a decent plot (despite the flat characters) only to have a trite and forecasted young adult ending. I also think the story was designed to leave on a cliffhanger and anxious for the next book, but I did not really find it so. I re-read the last few paragraphs just trying to see if I missed the big cliffhanger...but didn't see anything indicating a cliffhanger. It almost ends like the end of a chapter rather than the end of the book.
This one is falls between a 3.0 and a 3.5 in my opinion. I originally rated it a 4 star read, but after more consideration I just find that the characters and the rather "meh" ending knocks it down a peg. I still really enjoyed the book and I think this series has potential - especially as we dive into the questions that the Otherworld raises. As the series moves forward I do hope that the main characters of the story become as multi-faceted as the AI characters who dwell in Otherworld
What a great read. In Blood Song we follow Vaelin Al Sorna as he finds himself at a very young age unwillingly enlisted in the Sixth Order - a military branch of the Faith. We journey with Al Sorna as his connection with his classmates turn into the bonds of brotherhood. From the Sixth Order he begins a journey of political and military intrigue with twists and turns the whole way.
I really enjoyed the character development and world building in Blood Song. Anthony Ryan spends his time honing each character, presenting a rich cast of people that the reader cares about. There is gradual world building throughout the story - no info dumps here.
I am slightly concerned by the reviews for book two and three...it looks as though Ryan shakes up his storytelling technique and branches out to maybe bite off more than the book(s) can feasibly chew? I will still move on to Tower Lord, however, based on the strength of Blood Song...hopefully knowing that Ryan changes his storytelling technique ahead of time won't throw me out of the story? Hopefully? We'll see.
Fretting about the next books in the series aside (I'm probably just borrowing trouble), I really enjoyed this. Blood Song is the type of slow-burn fantasy that really holds my attention. This is military fantasy done right.
The Tunnels is a fascinating glimpse into Cold War history. I've always been interested in modern history -- especially modern military history. When I saw the synopsis for The Tunnels I knew I had to read it. Greg Mitchell addresses a historical (yet timely) episode of the Cold War in examining the varied effects of the Berlin Wall and the actions of the brave men and women who strove to rescue others from oppression. Mitchell does a great job discussing the historical, political, and social ramifications of the Wall. Through The Tunnels we also branch out into the larger aspect of the Cold War as Mitchell discusses the domino effect of nuclear war and mutually assured destruction.
Mitchell presents the history in an absorbing way while still focusing on individual people. The image of one of the women escaping through the tunnels in her designer wedding dress is haunting and poignant. How better to put a "face" on forgotten history than to give a name and a photo to remind us that real people struggled with these life threatening circumstances.
The author also brings to light aspects of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall that is not readily taught in schools. The Cuban Missile Crisis is discussed in school history courses (at least in mine it was), but I had no idea about the CBS or NBC film crews on the scene. It's always disconcerting to think you know the story...only to find an entire chapter was missing.
I would recommend The Tunnels as an engaging read that brings to light an era of history that is quickly drifting out of the national consciousness. Mitchell forces us to look at how walls did not work in the past...and won't work in the present.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is such a fun take on the "classic horror" genre! I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. Theodora Goss does a great job hearkening back to the classics while still creating a fresh and fun new story. I was worried that I would be unhappy with how the classics were treated...I mean, there's a reason why they are classic stories, you know? I worried for nothing, though, because Goss did well. There were all the elements from the classic horror stories while learning about the new characters -- the daughters of these famous "monsters".
If I had one complaint with the story, it was the character asides sprinkled liberally throughout the book. I listened to the audio version of this story and was not initially aware that Goss was utilizing this tool to help build her characters. Mixed in with the story are snippets of dialogue from the characters after all the drama went down...their voices as they "proof" the written text of the story. It was a strange literary device and, to be honest, it threw me for a bit of a loop. I wonder if the written text has some visual way of noting that these were asides and not part of the immediate plot? In the audiobook version there is no warning or break...the narrator veers off into these out-of-story character asides with no differentiating between them and the main story. It was confusing at first and took a while to get used to. I eventually did get used to this device...but it took some time and I was not a huge fan of it for about the first fifty percent of the book.
That minor irritant aside, I do appreciate the risk that Goss took in writing her story this way. I think it ultimately paid off to help create more vivid characters. We didn't have to spend as much time in the story itself creating these characters...the off-shoot narratives helped do that.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daugher is such a fun read and I would easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys the classic monster-horror genre.
I'm conflicted about Artemis.
Did I like it? Yes. It was a fun, fast-paced science fiction novel that, like The Martian, is heavier on the science than the sci fi books I typically read/enjoy. Weir does a good job of presenting science (whether it's legitimate science or fantastical science) in an interesting manner even though sometimes there is a LOT of science explanation. Some of the supporting characters were also quite interesting -- Jazz's father and Rudy the security enforcer to name a few. I found that these supporting characters and the engaging world building of this "city on the moon" drew me into the story fairly early on.
Did I dislike it? Yes. My dislike centers mainly around the central character - Jazz Bashara who is easily one of THE most annoying characters I think I have ever read. She reads more like a prepubescent boy than a twenty-something woman. A dirty joke here and there is one thing...but her entire monologue is one crude joke after another. Her one-liners just become tiresome fairly early on in the plot. I kept hoping Weir would tie her strange characterization into the plot somehow...but it just never materialized.
I found it to be an interesting story...I just don't know if the issues I had with how the main character is portrayed justifies (for me) spending the time to read the story.
My issues with Jazz aside, if you enjoyed The Martian and Weir's writing style then I would recommend you also check out Artemis. This title will be released on November 14, 2017.
A Big thank you to Netgalley for providing this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.