Monday, September 26, 2016

Awoken by Serra Elinsen

Okay, I have to make something clear before I just go into this. There's kinda of an ongoing joke about this book. The joke is to review this book like any other and take it seriously. However, I don't think I can play along. I want to get my opinions about this book out straight, but I can't do that and play along with the joke at the same time. The fact is that THIS BOOK IS A PARODY! This is NOT a serious book! This book makes fun of the paranormal romance genre and many of the tropes that go with it by exaggerating them tenfold. This was written as a joke! "Serra Elinsen" is not real! This book was written by internet personality Lindsey Ellis (known by some as the Nostalgia Chick) and her friends Antonella Inserra, Elisa Hansen, and five other ghost writers AS A JOKE! It is meant to be, and I quote, "terribly awesome or awesomely terrible". I bring this up because this knowledge is not only the only reason I would ever pick up this book, but it is also the single, solitary fact saving this thing from the Waste Bin of Despair!

The book is the story of Andromeda Slate, your everyday unflawed boring-as-room-temperature-water girl who lives in Maine. Her life starts when she meets the unbelievably hot, verbally abusive, jerk in every form of the word, Riley Bay. It turns out that Riley is more than he seems, however, when it's revealed to Andromeda that he's actually the almighty Cthulhu, the Lovecraftian leviathan who is to bring about the apocalypse by summoning forth the ancient Old Ones. But Riley cannot fulfill his destiny...out of contrived love for Andromeda.

Yeah. That's it. That's what they're going with. Keep in mind that Andromeda is INTENDED to be the worst character ever written and boy oh, do they succeed. Andromeda (or Andi) Slate is the most selfish, uncaring, heartless, thoughtless, unsatisfied character with severe dependency issues of all time! And she's funny for it. I was torn this whole book between rolling my eyes and laughing at this daft bimbo and the other half wishing all manner of unholy fates to befall her. She is just evil! And yet she's supposed to be a relatable teenage girl who you want to root for. Oh, I rooted for her, alright. I rooted for her to DIE! When it comes to the climactic fight toward the end (or any other times her life is in peril) all I could think was "Die! Die! Kill her! No, don't save her! Son of a...." this was pretty much the experience for me.

Cthulhu incarnate was no better. Riley is so abusive, so harsh and uncaring, so violent and heartless, that of course a moron like Andi would fall for him. He's such a jerk that he drives a guy insane just for playing a prank on Andi and tossing her into a pool. Yeah, it's like that.

There are other characters in this book and all of them are so much more interesting that they are severely underplayed. Because of course. Uncle Neil (Nyarlathotep) has a wealth of knowledge and a ton of fun stories, but isn't allowed to share them because our stupid "protagonists" keep interrupting him. Andi's friends, Bree and Vik, are friendly, kind, funny and of course Andi abuses them like mad to the point where you wonder why the heck these nice people are friends with this dumb broad. Even the "villain" of the book, Scarlet Espitola, is more fun to read about. They keep talking about how she's a scorned woman, but make no mention of why she was scorned. Andi is also immediately threatened by a sexually confident woman and despises her at once, even though she's done absolutely nothing wrong.

The events in this book play out like they were perfectly planned to stab at all other kinds of YA tropes. From being rescued from rape attempts to being pampered like a princess, Andi gets everything that any girl could possibly want. There are also countless references to Phantom of the Opera, Andi's favorite book (naturally), and goes on and on and on and on about how Riley is her phantom and who they are totally playing out the "most romantic" story of all time. Note: Please bear in mind that Phantom of the Opera is a HORROR story about a mutilated man who TAKES ADVANTAGE OF a young ("young" here meaning UNDERAGE) soprano. Yeah, the most romantic story of all time. Screw you, Andi. I didn't even begin to go into all the ways this story butchers the H.P. Lovecraft stories from which Cthulhu and the Elder Gods derive from, mostly because I'm not overly familiar with them myself, but from what I hear it is quite the discourtesy. Discourtesy equal to outright mutilation, if I'm correct.

Final Verdict
This book was hard to read, it really was. The horrible main characters and the teeth-grinding amount of Phantom references made me want to use the book as some kind of weapon on something innocent and small on several occasions. But this books is supposed to do that. It's meant to make you want to kill Andi and root for the apocalypse. Therefore, in its mission, it succeeded. This fact alone saves it from the Waste Bin and so I say that this book is, indeed, worth checking out at your local library!

Have you read the book? What did you think? Do you want to read it now? What's the worst paranormal romance book you've ever read? Comment below and share your thoughts!

Next time: Let's get the month of October started off with something that's supposed to be scary and succeeds!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons

Alice with a sawed off shotgun. Just take a minute to soak that in. That is just one of the many details that adds to the awesomeness of this book. A colorful, magical, action-packed adventure not only through Wonderland but through stories of all kinds.

The story begins with Alice returning to Wonderland and finding that all the Wonder is being sucked out of everything. The residents are mere shells of their previous selves and everything whimsical is being tossed into the massive Rabbit Hole (which is pretty much a wormhole connecting our world with those we hear of in stories). The de-Wondering is the fault of Ace of Spades, who is fascinated with the idea of a world that is all order and propriety, and is determined to squash out what remains of Wonderland so as to mimic the real world. Alice, however, has other ideas. She travels far and wide to gather an army to fight against Ace and restore Wonderland to its proper glory, meeting famous characters from stories of all kinds as she does.

This book is just a ton of fun. Alice, in this version, is a really enjoyable character. She's really good at just accepting each miraculous new finds with ease. Whenever she comes across something impossible, she just shrugs and says "good thing I'm crazy or this would be really weird". She's also quick on her feet and ready to fight. There are some times in the book where she takes a life, and it does affect her, but not so much that she's crippled beyond being willing to fight again. She also makes "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" sound as BA as "Go ahead. Make my day." She's just fantastic.

Also, the twists and different takes on all these classic characters is really well done. A clockwork Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves are illegal moonshine smugglers, and card soldiers who disguise themselves as famous tricksters such as Rumpelstiltskin and Loki to trick whole kingdoms onto Ace's side. Alice's closest allies are the Lost Boys, lead by a slightly-older-than-normally-portrayed Peter Pan and they actually make a really good team. Everyone is enjoyable and gets just the same amount of development and care.

If I had to nitpick, I would say that I wasn't thrilled with the idea of making Alice from modern day Missouri (which Wonderlanders mistake as being Misery). Apparently, because the Rabbit Hole is a wormhole, details of what goes on in the story world get spread across time and space in ours, which inspires writers from different time eras to bring all these stories together here. Kind of a clever loophole, but kinda feels like a cop-out. Still, it's not really brought up much and doesn't really affect the story, so I guess it's no big deal.

This book has all the things you'd want a fairy tale crossover to have, fights with Jabberwockys, daring escapes from magic kingdoms, villains getting their heads blown off, happy reunions of long lost loved ones, it's just a great time.

Also, Cthulhu.

Not another word out of me. Just read it!

Final Verdict
This book was the most fun I've had since I started doing this. I laughed, I cried, I laughed more and this book has definitely earned its place on the Shelf of Recommendation!

Have you read this book? Do you want to read it now? If you did, what did you think? What's your favorite crossover between classic characters? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Next time: Speaking of Cthulhu....

Monday, September 19, 2016

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

You like The Hunger Games? You like Game of Thrones? You like a book that tries to combine the two to cash in on...I start off it's own franchise? Well look no further than Throne of Glass! The first book in the epic saga of Celaena Sardothien, master assassin of Erilea.

The story if of said assassin, who has been captured and imprisoned in a death camp, getting released by the son of the man who imprisoned her. The King of Adarlan is holding a contest of the worlds most skilled fighters and the winner will become his Champion. Adarlan's Crown Prince, Dorian, has decided that Celaena would be the perfect candidate for the competition so Celaena, eager for a chance to win her freedom, agrees. But, just as the contest is in full swing, the competitors start being murdered viciously in the night. Evil forces are at work and Celaena is locked in a battle for her freedom and her survival.

Now, as I said, this story does take a lot of details from better source material than itself, but I did find that just about everything I had to complain about seemed to resolve itself rather nicely. For instance, the characters in this book need time to get to know, because right off the bat I didn't really like any of them. Celaena stunk of Mary Sue, at least in the beginning, being overly perfect and having no flaws and even less personality. But as the book went on, her flaws and personality shone through and she actually became an interesting character with a unique mix of masculinity and femininity. She is an assassin, a very good one, and she knows it and brags about it and can throw down with any guy who dares go up against her. She also likes pretty dresses, candy, and puppies.

The rest of the cast is pretty straightforward and, in some cases, cliche. Crown Prince Dorian and Captain Chaol are alright, but then you have the stereotypical mean girl in Kaltain and obvious, threatening Cain (even his name is stereotypical). Most of the other competitors are so without defining character that they don't even have names. For the most part, they're either hit or miss.

I also wasn't crazy about the mystery aspect of the story either. What the author tried to put in as a subtle hint just read like an obvious smack in the face. It doesn't take long to figure out the mystery behind the murders, which is a bit of a disappointment. There's also the fact that the climax of the story, the big fight near the end, relies on a magical insta-solution, when I would rather it have ended in an actual fight. A bit of a let down.

There is, however, an area in which this book succeeds where most other YA novels fail miserably: the love triangle. Both Dorian and Chaol are interested in Celaena and, honestly, either one of them would be a good match for her. Dorian acknowledges that Celaena is unlike any girl he's ever known (not interested in his crown and such) and finds he's drawn to her lively spirit. Chaol is quiet, a bit brooding, but steadfast and loyal and you really believe he'd do whatever it takes to protect Celaena. I'm not crazy about love triangles at the best of times, but this one has no obvious choice and all three are interesting enough to make me want to know how it will play out.

Final Verdict
Tough call on this one. There are elements that are really good, some that are really not, but overall I did enjoy the story, I found myself invested in it, so I am going to say that this book is worth your money at your local bookstore.

Have you read Throne of Glass? Do you want to now? If you have, what did you think? Comment below and tell me all about it.

Next time:(singing) She's an Alice with a shotgun, fighting 'till the war's won, she don't care if Wonderland won't take her back...

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

This retelling of the classic tale of Bluebeard has got it all. Dangerous tasks, a dastardly villain, magic, high stakes,...and hedgehogs. Because why not?

The story is of young Rhea, a fifteen year old miller's daughter who lives in a world where minor magic is common knowledge, but true sorcerers are hard to find. So it's strange when a sorcerer shows up out of the blue and asks for Rhea's hand in marriage. Too poor to refuse, Rhea is sent to visit the Sorcerer's manor, only to discover that he's been married before. Six times, in fact. With each of his wives having suffered some horrible fate. Young Rhea must fight to outwit the sorcerer before she becomes his next bride...and his next victim.

As I said before, this story is based mostly on the tale of Bluebeard. It's not as dark as Bluebeard, but it isn't too light either. This story is kind of an odd mix. It hits at disturbing material with just what happens to the brides when the Sorcerer gets a hold of them, but you don't actually see it. Then there's the inclusion of Rhea's hedgehog companion that's straight out of a Disney movie and doesn't really feel like it should be in at all.

One of the aspects of the book I like best is Rhea getting assigned certain tests which, if she can complete, she can get out of the marriage. These are definitely the kind of element you like to see in fairy tale stories. The tasks are creepy and complicated, and Rhea has to use cleverness and whatever resources she has to succeed. Rhea's a good character in that regard. She's scared a lot, but she toughs it out and gets through it. She's determined and, while she does have a tendency to cry a lot, she just gets back up and finishes the job.

There are however, some points to the book that take away from the good ones. The first wife, Marie, seems to be pulling the strings when I really wish Rhea would do more things on her own. When *MINOR SPOILER* Rhea does end up failing one of the tests, it's kind of a let down. You get there and it's like, "Really? That's it? Well...okay." It's an anticlimactic end to what was the best part thus far. Also, I really wish the Sorcerer was a bit more threatening. While you see his handiwork spread across the story and you know he's a terrible bad buy, you never see him being a bad guy. He's barely in it and, when he is, he just kinda stands around and barks orders. There is one scene where he torments Marie, be even then I just didn't really feel the threat coming from the guy. The horrible things he did to the brides feels almost like something that someone else did but he took the credit for. I just wanted a little more threat out of the guy.

Final Verdict
This book felt like it was walking across a lot of fine lines. Like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a dark adult book, or a friendlier kid book. Dark or light. Scary or safe. It felt indecisive and so I was indecisive. The good parts are still good, there's nothing particularly awful about it and, if it sounds like something you'd enjoy, by all means check it out at your local library.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Do you want to read it now? What's your favorite adaptation of a fairy tale? Comment below and tell me what you think.

Next time: That doesn't sound very comfortable....

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Schooled in Magic by Christopher G. Nuttall

It's the school-based magic story that schools other school-based magic stories (or thinks it does), Schooled in Magic! This book dares to do what others like it have rarely done before: give an in depth look on the criteria of magic and how it works. How's it handled? Well, let's take a look.

The story is of a young nerd named Emily. Emily is sad because she has a verbally abusive stepdad and a constantly drunk mom and hates school because it doesn't teach her anything useful. Quite out of nowhere, Emily is zapped away from her terrible nerdy life when she is kidnapped by an evil Necromancer who wants to kill her because she's a supposed Child of Destiny, who is to bring great change in the world. Emily is saved by another wizard named Void, and is sent to Whitehall, a school of magic where she learns the skills needed to survive the Necromancers, and maybe leave an influence on the world herself.

Okay, first off, you know those smart kids back in school who liked to prove to everyone else how smart they were by blathering on and on about smart stuff they knew even if it didn't have anything to do with what you were learning? This is kinda like that. Oh, don't get me wrong. This book is very smart. A lot of thought went into it, the process of spells, the delicate process of alchemy, the multitude of ways things can go wrong, it's all thought out very well. The problem is that this book knows how well it's thought out. There's this tone in the book that just sounds like it thinks its better than everyone else who's tried this context before, and goes into detail about who it's so much better than them. It comes off as a bit arrogant.

Speaking of arrogant, let's have a little chat about Emily here, shall we? For someone who is perfectly happy about being brought to a strange new world, she sure does complain about it a lot. She says she  can't be this Child of Destiny because she can't do anything for the world, but she's constantly thinking up ways to change the world by introducing basic numerical systems and stirrups and stuff like that. I just get the feeling that she finds the medieval nature of this new world almost beneath her and she longs for things she had before, even if she never wants to go back. It's not like she's mean or ungrateful, just that she doesn't seem to want to fit in with this world, but make the world fit to how she wants it. I wasn't crazy about her.

Then there's the fact that this book is wordy! 75% of the time if felt like I was reading an instruction manual for something I could never possibly make ever. The "class" sections of the book take up the brunt of it and they go into so much detail that it feels like I'm back in high school doing assigned reading in a textbook. News flash: Most people don't read text books for fun! They read them because they have to! These magic instructions, while indeed well thought out, just go on so long you almost have to be reminded that there's actually a plot to this thing.

Emily's nerdy nature also leads to a crap ton of references in this book. She brings up Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and so on and so forth. These wouldn't bother me except that they're everywhere! Now, sometimes it works okay, like her naming her Martial Magic team the Redshirts and then acknowledging that that might be a bad omen. That's fine. But when you're in the middle of the big climax of the book, lots of crap is happening, mass hysteria and this girl stops right in the middle of an intense moment to stop and reflect for two paragraphs on something stupid in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Time and place, girl. Time and place! Also, she brags so often about how much better she is compared to Harry Potter, I wanted to put this book down and read the entire Harry Potter series again out of pure spite!

Final Verdict
Schooled in Magic is a smart book. It really is! You can tell a lot of work went into it and the ideas behind magic and the world set up. Unfortunately, with that intelligence came arrogance that, alas, some nerds can possess. If you can look past this, then I recommend that this book be checked out at your local library.

Next time: Seven brides really creepy guy.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I'm a sucker for a good heist story. This is a new adventure taking place in Bardugo's Grisha universe that was explored in her previous Grisha Trilogy series...which, regrettably, I have not read. After reading this, though, I really want to.

The story begins on the city of Katterdam on the island of Kerch where a thief named Kaz "Dirtyhands" Brekker, is hired to do the impossible. A mysterious substance had been developed that enhances the powers of the Grisha (people with magical abilities), turning them into monsters before they wither and die. The creator of this substance has been imprisoned in the dreaded Ice Court, a fortress far in the north that keeps even the most powerful Grisha in check. Kaz, along with five hand picked accomplices, must break in and free the prisoner and discover the secret before more people die.

Any fan of Danny Ocean and his gang of risk taking thieves is going to friggin' love Kaz and his group. Each person has their own purpose and abilities to contribute to the scheme, and the relationships between them range from budding romance to bitter exes. Kaz is just the kind of guy you want leading a team like this. Mysterious, devious, calculating and slick and cold as ice. The crew ranges from a sharpshooter with a gambling problem, a spy called Wraith, a Grisha who can manipulate the minds and bodies of others, the list goes on. Each member of the group gets his or her time to shine and they are all just splendidly written.

Having not read the books that came before this, I was at a bit of a disadvantage, not Knowing what a Grisha is and what-have-you. But, like any good tie in or addition, I didn't NEED to go back to avoid confusion. It took minimal effort to get a good idea of who is who and what is what so it all comes together nicely.

Having so many characters, the story does jump around a lot. There are six interesting people with their own interesting back stories. They're all good but it is a lot to take in and remember and can distract from the heist story. This is a minor problem, though. The story is gripping and leaves you yelling things like "hurry up!" and "be careful" and "get out of there" at the page as though it will make a difference.

Sadly, the ending does kinda leave you high and dry and crying when you realize that the next book isn't out yet. Still, I had a blast with this book and anyone who likes a vast world, great characters, and a thrilling plot is gonna love this.

Final Verdict
Six of Crows is just awesome. It makes me want to pick up anything else the author has written and I am happy to say this book earned a place on the Shelf of Recommendation! I'm looking forward to another scheme with great crew.

Next Time: Magic 101 isn't as fun as I thought it would be....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Selection by Kiera Cass

In the wake of the successful Hunger Games series, which was inspired in part by the hit reality TV show Survivor, someone came along and decided to do the exact same thing except instead of Survivor, it's The Bachelor. The Bachelor Games, if you will.

The story is that of a girl named America Singer (groan). She gets picked along with a multitude of other girls to take part in the Selection, an event where the country's prince choses a bride from among the Selected girls. But America is already in love with her secret boyfriend Aspen and so when she discovers that Prince Maxon is actually a nice guy, she finds her heart torn between the two.

First off, if you like The Bachelor and triangle romances, there's technically nothing wrong with this book. For me, however, it comes off as just a little cliche. There's not a lot of meat on the bones of these characters that really drags you in. Maxon is just typically nice, Aspen is your very typical Disney Princess "wishing for more out of life", and America (cringe) is your typical bland protagonist that you're not quite sure why everyone loves who is amazing at everything without really trying. Yeah. That's kind of it.

There are sparks of interest throughout the book and potential for good ideas. The set up of the story is interesting and could work, but without interesting characters, it's hard to care about it. I did find it hard to put the book down at times but not so much because I was enthralled with the story but more like "there's GOT to be something interesting on the next page" kind of way. The scenes between America and Aspen just drag on and on, their sugary sappiness is just draining and not at all interesting. The ending of the book is very abrupt and the revolution subplot just feels out of place, like there had to be a revolution because these novels need a revolution.

A lot of things feel like they were added just because they felt like they needed to be, as though the author was following a Young Adult recipe. Dystopian future. America (the country) in shambles. Other contestants raging for inexplicably mean girl to overly nice BFF. A caste system you can easily turn into an online personality test, so on and so forth. They're handled just fine in their own right, but when you've read them over and over again, it can be a little on the boring side.

But my major problem with this book does include a spoiler so, if you don't want to read it, just skip down to the Final Verdict:

*SPOILER ALERT* Yeah, so the big problem with basing a story around a something like The Bachelor is, if you're following a contestant that doesn't win, what's the point? America does end up winning, but not in this book. It's not until the third installment of this series that she finally wins even though you could probably guess from the start of the book that she was going to anyway. At least The Hunger Games kept the actual competition to just one book and used the others to expand the story. But to read three books of increasing length only to discover the outcome is exactly what we thought it was going to be, just seems needlessly drawn out. It'd be better if the characters or the plot was actually interesting but, like I said earlier, it's just not. The premise works a little better in the sequel series, where the main character is the Bachelorette, but from this point of view it's a no-win situation. If she wins, we all know it's coming. If she doesn't win, then what was the point of all of this? It's a rock and a hard place and without interesting characters that we actually care about, there's really no point to this. *END OF SPOILERS*

Final Verdict
The Selection is an uphill battle of sappy romance and generic plot but, with those in mind, it is at least forward with it being a sappy romance and is an interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes of romantic reality TV. Personally, it's just not my cup of tea, but if it sounds like the kind of thing you'd enjoy, I'd say it's worth checking out at your local library. Check it out and decide for yourself.

Next Time: Imagine, if you will, Leverage if it took place in the world of the Grisha....

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Y'know when you're going to a new restaurant, you try it out and think "Huh. Well, that was alright. Not exactly horrible, but not my favorite." then you go home and you have diarrhea for three days. That's this book. For me. This was the upset stomach of books for me. When I put this book down, I really did think it was just okay. I didn't think anything of it, really. But the more I dwelt on it, the more it just started to tick me off!

Summary time: The story is of a young Oregon girl named Kelsey, who gets a temporary job at circus where she meets a white tiger named Ren. It turns out that Ren is actually an ancient Indian prince who was cursed to be a tiger after he and his brother got in a fight over a girl. And so it falls to Kelsey to help Ren break this 300 year old curse and so on and so forth.

Okay, it's a little more complicated than that. I just don't care. Yeah, this is another bad one. This is yet another wish fulfillment book, where it truly feels the author is building a fantastical story around themselves to make up for the fact that they live in Oregon! The character of "Kelsey" is a perfect example of a Mary Sue. For those who don't know what a Mary Sue is, it's a character that's really just the author plopping themselves into the story, who is perfect enough to not have any genuine flaws, but bland enough that any teenage girl who picks up the book can slip themselves into the story as well.

Also, this is just Twilight with tigers. It really is! You will find all the stereotypical tropes that have been associated with paranormal romances in this book. The handsome, extraordinary man falling for the plain Jane. The plain Jane being some extraordinary something-or-other who is the only one who...blah blah blah. Equally handsome third wheel, etc. etc. Also, being the oh-so-special somebody that Kelsey apparently is, she gets an all expenses paid trip to India, where she's treated like a friggin' princess and breaking the curse basically involves going to all of India's biggest tourist traps and solving puzzles you'd find in a particularly boring Zelda level! Like the Water Temple. Three times!

What I can't get my head around is that Kelsey is apparently the chosen hero of this ancient Hindu goddess, which is how she can break Ren's curse. The problem is...why is the chosen hero of a Hindu goddess some agnostic Caucasian girl from Oregon! Wouldn't it make just a little more sense if the chosen hero of an Indian goddess was...oh, I don't know...INDIAN!?

Last rant before the Final Verdict, I promise. Finally, we get introduced to our super-special-handsome-wonderful-fantastical third point of our love triangle, Ren's brother Kishan. Now, Kelsey knows that this whole curse thing started because the two brothers fought over a girl. So, when Kishan, creeper that he is, starts coming on to Kelsey (because of COURSE he would) and Ren gets annoyed about it, Kelsey get's on Ren's case for being rude! History is friggin' repeating itself and Kishan is being a total creep and here's Kelsey, giggling and twittering like an airhead. This situation is identical to what got these idiots in this mess in the first place and here you are like "Tee hee hee! You're so sweet! Tee hee hee!" You are the reason we have to put warning labels on stupid things nowadays.

Final Verdict
You know what's coming. The blatant Mary Sue and her idiotic love interests, the wish fulfillment storyline, the lack of anything realistic or likable about anyone or anything means this thing is going straight into the Waste Bin of Despair! I know a lot of people like this book Just no. The answer is no. Don't bother, you're better off without it.

Next time: Gee, I wonder if she'll win.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Micro God by K.R. Martin

When I first decided to dip my toes into this reviewing business, I decided to give several other online reviewers a look before I tried it out for myself, see their criteria and what they look for and what have you. That's when I discovered an internet reviewer who specializes in books and movies based on books. Kyle Martin or, as his fans know him, Krimson Rogue (Krimson IS spelled right) is the host of The Book Is Better, a Youtube show where he analyzes books and how Hollywood handles them when making adaptations. In his earlier episodes, he subtly hints that he has a book out there as well. Morbid curiosity got the best of me, and so I decided to review a reviewer with this latest book.

Micro God is the tale of a man named Richard Clarke who, for reasons beyond him and everyone else in the world, has been gifted with extraordinary abilities. Basically, anything is possible so long as you stand within a five foot radius of Clarke. He can stop bullets, bring down entire buildings with a wave of his hand, cure any ailment and heal any injury, the possibilities are endless. But Clarke's abilities are more curse than blessing, leaving him immortal but without cause. It isn't until he meets a  strong-willed doctor in a town in desperate need of help, does Clarke find that he might still have something to fight for after all.

Mirco God is very much a character-driven story. It's about Clarke's struggles and his progression throughout the story so it's a very good thing that Clarke is someone you want to follow. The mystery of his past, what exactly he's been through during his absurdly long life, and his search for purpose pull you into the story. Clarke's personality is that of that mysterious brooder in the back of the bar, drinking alone, whom you want to approach because you know he's got some fantastic stories to tell but don't know if you'd dare to ask. You feel the weight that Clarke carries as you walk alongside him in the story, and you find yourself really wanting him to find happiness again.

That being said, it is a dark book. It's full of tension and unpleasant themes including drugs, gangs, and the murder of innocent people. The point of this being that this is just a bad place in a very bad time. It feels like it really would take someone with godlike power to face these trials, otherwise this town and the people in it are a bullet away from total devastation. Clarke's influence in the story actually inspires hope and brightens up the story, shedding light on the otherwise constant darkness.

While the focus is properly on Clarke, there's still plenty of other things in this book that warrant mention. Dr. Chloe Hall, the doctor who recruits Clarke's help, is a fine example of a strong woman who doesn't need to be brandishing a sword (or a bow) to exude her strength. She's tough, but kind and has a sense of leadership that is respectable as well as admirable. She was a delight to read about. There's also the characterization of the city in which the story takes place. The city is described so it's truly deserving of the term "wretched hive of scum and villainy". It's so dark and dirty and you really feel the grime and trashy danger of the place, it's all wonderfully described.

All those things considered, it is a short book and so it didn't take very long to get through. My big gripe would probably be the ending. Not going to spoil anything for anyone, but the ending is a heavy, tense thing that leaves you picking up the pieces of your heart. Bring your tissues, fellas. You're going to need them.

Final Verdict
Micro God is a bleak book, but an enlightening one that has good characters, a gripping story, and heavy themes. It's definitely worth the read and definitely worth your money at your local bookstore. If you wanna check out Martin's web series check the link below.

Next time: Tiger, Tiger, burning bright in the forest of...Oregon?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

At the hight of fairy tale popularity, it seemed only a matter of time before someone came up with the concept of a cyborg Cinderella. This books brings science fiction and fantasy together in an action adventure that just so happens to have parallels to one of the most famous fairy tales ever.

The story is that of a young mechanic named Lihn Cinder, a cyborg who lives with her horrible stepmother, one wicked stepsister (the other one is okay) and an android named Iko in the East Commonwealth of New Beijing. The world is several years after the fourth World War and the people of earth fear the dreaded Lunar people, who possess mysterious powers, and a terrible plague that's spreading like wildfire across the world. When Cinder meets the young Prince Kai, her world is suddenly intertwined with his, forcing her to square off against the vicious Lunar Queen and her plot to take over both Luna and Earth.

First off, this ain't no jolly little ride filled with sunshine and rainbows. Don't let the fairy tale deceive you. This story has some really harsh moments as the world that Earth has become is indeed a much harsher place. You feel the grit and danger of the world Cinder lives in and tragedy hangs over her like an axe waiting to drop. The dusty, potentially deadly atmosphere sets the mood for the looming threats of plague and the Lunars which is where the meat of the story really takes place.

The one thing I really liked about this book is that the fairy tale aspect of it is pretty irrelevant to the actual story. There are some detail that match up, such as the ball and whatnot, but overall, Cinder is really its own thing. It's the story of one girl stumbling across a take-over plot, as well as trying to survive in a world that hates her guts. The structure of the story is it's own thing. Even the iconic ball scene is a big disconnect to the source material, almost hilariously so, but with enough action and tension to keep you hanging onto every word.

There is, however, the little detail of the cyborg hate that goes on in this book. It might just be me, but I don't really get why cyborgs are so hated in this world. The artificial limbs mentioned in the book don't seem quite as different here as they do in our current world, so why do people who have them get treated like they suddenly stopped being human? I guess it makes a little more sense in Cinder's case, seeing as her robotic enhancements include a lie-detector and a computer in her head, but for those who just have fake limbs, it just seems like a bit of a stretch.

On the plus side, Cinder herself is a good character to make this journey with. She's spunky without being overly aggressive, resourceful and refreshingly mature. There are a few times when she's a little "What'll he think of me..." which can be a little wearing on one's patience, but nothing that would make me start to dislike the character.

Final Verdict
Cinder is fast-paced, story driven piece that, though based on such a famous work, stands on its own legs and support itself. Good characters, a story that goes from nail biting to heartbreaking in with each page turn and I'd say that this book is worth your money at your local bookstore.

Next time: He says the book is better, but how does his book hold up?