Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekly Recap #3

So, I totally missed doing this last week. Oops.

Last (Two) Week's Posts

Review: Half in Love with Death by Emily Ross
Review: Model Spy by Shannon Greenland

New Arrivals

Jockey Girl by Shelley Peterson - Netgalley

I just can't resist horse books!

Pages Read

1/17 - 32
1/18- 15
1/19 - 8
1/20 - 90
1/21 - 1
1/22 - 0
1/23 - 2
1/24 - 0
1/25 - 26
1/26 - 6
1/27 - 13
1/28 - 62
1/29 - 82
1/30 - 37

Average = 26.7

Yikes! I'm only reading half of my goal on average. And so inconsistent! Seriously, how did I read 1 page on the 21st?!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review:Model Spy

Title: Model Spy
Author: Shannon Greenland
Series: The Specialists #1
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: May 10, 2007
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Teen genius Kelly James is in a lot of hot water. A whiz with computers, she agreed to help her college RA, David, uncover some top-secret information. After all, she doesn't have many friends and David has always been nice to her. It doesn't hurt that he's supercute and irresistible, too. All she has to do is hack into the government's main computer system. 

But a few hours later, her whole life changes. She is caught and taken in for questioning, only this isn't your run-of-the-mill arrest. Rather than serve a juvenile detention sentence, she accepts the option to change her name and enlist in a secret government spy agency that trains teen agents to go undercover. As if that wasn't overwhelming enough, she discovers that David works for this agency as well!

And before she even begins to understand what is going on, she's sent on her first mission as an undercover model. And who better to partner with than David himself!

Model Spy was the kind of book that falls fairly firmly in the category of "OK." I don't have a lot of things that I particularly liked or disliked about it, which makes it a bit hard to review, but I'll do my best.

One thing I liked was the general idea of the book. A bunch of young adults with particular skills who end up in trouble, but then get recruited into a super secret government program to become spies. These kind of situations always lead to interesting missions.

I can also think of a couple minor things that annoyed me. I think the first one is just a person pet peeve, but it really annoys me when people describe members of the opposite sex as "yummy." They are not a steak or a cupcake! Kelly describes a certain guy's butt as "yummy," which totally weirds me out, like she is going to eat it or something. Pretty sure that's just a random personal preference. 

Also, the author tried to make Kelly a bit quirky by making her say things out of order when she is nervous. I get what the author was trying to do, but it didn't work for me and I just found it annoying. Again, super minor though.

Finally, I felt like the actual mission was too short. I enjoyed the build-up to it, so rather than remove anything, I just think the book should have been a bit longer and had a bit more depth in the mission.

All of these things are super minor to me, yet I also can't think of any things I particularly liked about the book either, so I will just settle on a 3 star rating. If you enjoy books about teen spies, do pick this one up, but I don't think it will become a favourite.

Find the Book:
Goodreads Amazon |  Chapters

Find the Author: 
 Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Half in Love with Death

Title: Half in Love With Death
Author: Emily Ross
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: December 16, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

It's the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline's life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She's invisible to her parents, who can't stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister's older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline's desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.

Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess's disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we'll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.

I'm having bad luck so far in 2016. Here's another book that didn't work out for me. My problem with this book was Caroline, the main character. Man was she naive. To the point of being stupid.

I felt like Caroline just kind of went with the flow and wasn't really actively choosing the direction of her life. She just did what others told her to, first her parents and later Tony. The author tried to show that she was smart with her grades at school and her apparent skill at poetry, but she took so long to figure out what was going on and made a lot of bad decisions.

Also, my feminism side a bit riled during this book. Caroline talked about how badly she wanted to go to California to find her sister. Yet she was constantly waiting on Tony's schedule. I think the book would have been way more interesting if Caroline hitchhiked to California to look for Jess herself. She should have taken control of things and gone to California on her schedule instead of always waiting on the man to take her there.

Ok, enough complaining about Caroline. I also disliked her entire family (besides Dicky, who basically didn't exist besides occasionally playing in the background). Caroline's dad was a bit of an alcoholic who generally wasn't that good at being a husband or a father. But he was nowhere near as bad as her mother, who took all of her stress about having a missing daughter on the rest of her family. I can only imagine how difficult that would be as a parent, but pushing away the rest of your family doesn't seem like a good solution. I feel like the author was going for the depressed housewife idea, but it didn't work for me. And Jess, who we barely see in the book, was made annoyed based on the other character's descriptions of her.

I also wished the 1960's setting has been more apparent in the book. Basically the only hint I got that this was set in the 60's is one or two mentions of the fashions and a couple mentions of The Beatles.

Overall, I just couldn't get into Caroline's head and she ended up annoying me a lot with her naivety.

Find the Book:
Goodreads Amazon | The Book Depository | Chapters

Find the Author: 
 Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekly Recap #2

So I'm a day late on this one, so my apologizes. Also, I forgot my post-it with daily stats on my kindle, so I'll have to add that in later. For now we're just looking at physical books results.

Last Week's Posts:

Review: A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe - 2 stars

Pages Read:
Guys! I lost my paper for this. I will update if I can find it later this week.

Wow, pretty lame week. But I did play all the video games on the weekend, so I'm happy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: A Borrowed Man

Title: A Borrowed Man
Author: Gene Wolfe
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

In the twenty-second century, our civilization has retained many familiar characteristics, but the population is smaller. Technology has made significant advances, and there are more robots--and clones.

One such is E.A. Smithe, a borrowed person, a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library. His personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is library property, not a legal human. 

The father of Colette Coldbrook, a wealthy library patron, has disappeared and been proclaimed dead. She decides to check Smithe out of the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was the sole item in her father's safe, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. Her brother, Conrad, turned up dead in the family home shortly after giving the book to her. 

Colette has reached the end of her options. She's afraid of the police, and there are others who might want the book's secret. Smithe is her last hope. Borrowing him might help her find the connection between the deaths and Murder on Mars

Together they find something far beyond their expectations--something almost anyone would kill for.

The premise of this book really intrigued me. Can you imagine being able to actually check out clones of your favourite authors from the library and take them home with you for a few days?! I haven't decided if that is really cool or completely terrifying or both. Anyway, this idea was the reason I wanted to read this book and I did end up enjoying that aspect of the book. The rest, however, didn't work out for me.

Let's start with the good things. The premise. As I mentioned before, the premise drew me to this book and that aspect did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the moral aspect it brings to the story. You see, our main character is Ern Smithe and he is not considered fully human by law. That's because he is a clone of a famous author and has been imprinted with the memories of his original self. Because he is a reclone, he is not considered fully human (although biologically he is) and is the property of the library. Because he is property, he can be bought and sold and even destroyed if not enough people check him out from the library (a constant fear among reclones like Ern). Obviously most readers would have a huge moral issue with this form of slavery (although, as Ern points out, slaves can be freed and he cannot), but the author just state this as fact and mores on without dwelling on it, which I enjoyed because it lets the reader get worked up about the injustice on their own, without the author dwelling on the issue.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book was a bit of a mess for me. I just didn't enjoy the storyline. I felt like the author kept having things happen and introducing characters, then taking them away, without any actually bearing on the plot. I felt like the plot was set up well initially, then most of the middle was Ern just wandering around doing stuff, then at the end the author rushed to tie the plot back together again.

Another thing that bothered me was inconsistent explanations of things. The initial world building was not bad, but then Ern makes a huge discovery, but there is absolutely no description about how that came about. It's just this fantasical thing plunked down in the middle of a vaguely sci-fi novel with no explanation whatsoever, which I found really annoying. Even if it's not super technical, I want a why!

My third major complaint was the characters. I didn't like them. They all felt flat to me. Ern seemed very bland to me. Colette was kind of interesting because of what had happened to her family, but I certainly found her situation much more interesting than her character. Georges and Mahala were the most interesting character based on the bit of backstory we get, but they pretty much just show up, do whatever Ern tells them, then disappear. Arabella had potential I think, but her character was pretty much non-exiestent and I actually didn't think she contributed anything to the story at all. The bad guys had basically two or three chapters of page time and weren't fleshed out much at all.

This book, despite it's amazing premise and moral issues, turned out to be a disappointment. The characters and plotline were both lacking, which dragged the book way down for me.

Find the Book:
Goodreads Amazon | The Book Depository | Chapters

Find the Author: 
 Goodreads | Wikipedia

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Reading Resolution + First Week Recap

So I know I'm a little late posting this, but here's my New Year's reading resolution: Read 50 pages per day!

To some of you, this might sound minuscule, but most of last year I was reading no where near that amount, which makes maintaining a book blog a bit difficult. I think 50 pages is a realistic goal.

In order to keep myself on track, I'm going to start posting a weekly recap on Sundays. This will include: pages read, the previous weeks posts and any new additions, along with anything else I feel like adding. So here's my first recap! I've included the 1st and 2nd as well because the year started on a Friday.

Last Week's Posts

Review: An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
2016 Reading Challenges

New Arrivals

Family Magic by Patti Larsen - free on Amazon

Pages Read

1/1 - 50
1/2 - 9
1/3 - 20
1/4 - 4
1/5 - 18
1/6 - 51
1/7 - 122
1/8 - 113
1/9 - 0

Weekly (+2) Total = 387 pages
Weekly (+2) Average = 43

As you can see, this week was wildly inconsistent, with pages ranging from 0 - 122. Next week I will try to read more steadily. But I wasn't too far from my goal (only 7 pages on average)

Friday, January 8, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges

The start of the new year is always exciting for me, because it's the time I get to sign up for all the book blog challenges! To be completely honest, I often don't finish them, but I love to try! Here's what I'm going to sign up for this year!

2016 Reading Bingo - hosted by Novel Heartbeat

Prequel & Sequel Challenge - hosted by Novel Heartbeat and Writer Grrl Reads

Goal = 50 points (last year I got 67!)

TBR Pile Challenge - hosted by Bookish Lifestyle

I have a few (ok, like honestly over a hundred) books of on my book shelf that I haven't read yet. I'll be realistic and go with A First Kiss as a goal, but more would be better.

1-10 A Firm Handshake
11-20 A Friendly Hug
21-30 First Kiss
31-40 Sweet Summer Fling
41-50 Could This Be Love?
50+ Married with Children

So, that's my list of challenges for now. I may be adding a few more in the next few days as I stumble across them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review: An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes

Title: An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes
Author: Randy Ribay
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: October 16, 2015
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

As their senior year approaches, four diverse friends joined by their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie's trying to cope with the lingering effects of his parents' divorce, Mari's considering an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante's working up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam's clinging to a failing relationship. The four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve--or to avoid--their problems.

Told in the narrative style of Akira Kurosawa's RASHOMAN, AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES is at turns geeky, funny, and lyrical as it tells a story about that time in life when friends need each other to become more than just people that hang out.

I was excited to read this one, as I'm an occasional D&D player and the synopsis mentions that the characters are in a playing group together. However, I found it to be disappointing.

The D&D aspect was probably the thing I was most excited for. However, this turned out to be a bit misleading. They don't play any games at all until the final chapter.

Instead, this book just got on my nerves. More specifically, the characters got on my nerves. They were so whiny! Seriously, these characters were the epitome of teenage angst, which is not really my thing. And I only liked one of the 4 main characters. Archie was acting like a spoiled little brat and I felt super bad for his dad. Mari was just an unlikable character for me because it felt like she had no interest in anything. She's a storyteller, but she had no enthusiasm for anything. Dante was the only character I was close to liking and even then I found his characterization weak. And don't even get me started on Sam. I just wanted to shake an enormous amount of sense into him. I have no idea why any of the other characters even bothered with him.

Which brings me to my other major complaint. The whole premise of the road trip together was really weak in my opinion. Sam was obviously the instigator, but why Mari and Archie would ever agree to go is beyond me.

I think it was perhaps a bit too much to have 4 major characters in a book that is under 250 pages. However, I'm not sure if more characterization would have helped my opinion of the book, since I disliked most of the characters based on what was written.

My dislike of three quarters of the main characters made it impossible to rate this book above 2 stars. 

Find the Book:
Goodreads Amazon | The Book Depository | Chapters

Find the Author: 
 Goodreads | Web | Facebook | Twitter