Monday, August 29, 2016

Waypoint Kangaroo


4.5 Stars

Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket”. It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he's pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation”: an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship–and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?


I picked up Waypoint Kangaroo on a whim. I saw a tweet about it, thought hey, I'll check this out, read a couple reviews, and then had to have it. The title alone is quirky and that off-the-wall humor extends throughout the book.

Kangaroo is a spy... but he's not on a mission, he's on vacation, (Forced vacation, but still a vacation) and he has no idea what to do with his time. He's suspicious of everyone, and as it turns out, he has a right to be. He may be a top secret government spy, but this is not your typical spy book. Theres no target, no mission, he has no backup, no plan, no equipment... and he has no idea what he's doing. It's kind of a Mr. Magoo mystery/thriller, if Mr. Magoo were set in space and made really lame jokes that only he and the reader enjoyed.

Kangaroo isn't a complete, bumbling idiot, he (and his pocket) are very useful, but he can't help feeling like he's not good enough. In other words: Kangaroo is a normal freaking human being! A very relatable personality with worries and doubts and just trying to be the best he can be. And really that makes him (sorry Chen...) really freaking adorable.

He was just a kid when he signed up for all this! Orphaned, alone, always doing his best to not let the people who brought him in off the streets down. He doesn't know who he is without the agency and now, on his forced 'vacation', for the first time he'll have time to take a good look at himself and how important he truly is.

And did I mention he's adorable?

I absolutely hate romance in books... It's never realistic, or at least I sure haven't ever experienced the over the top romantic shit dished out in novels and weirdly romantic entanglements shown on tv that take one short week to know that person is 'the one'.... Anyway... Yes, there's a bit of romance in Waypoint Kangaroo, but what makes me not hate this romantic encounter is that it's totally believable, and definitely more like my (currently nonexistent) love life.

I would totally fall for this guy and his lame jokes and nervous banter. (Again, sorry Chen!) It's adorable.

Toward the end I did feel the story moved a little too fast, not that there was too much action but that I would have liked to live in that world a bit longer, had a few more details and really liven up the second half with more of their situation and drawing me into the event. I really enjoyed this book, I had to re-read a couple pages at the end to really follow what was happening and I think it had to do with keeping the end plan a mystery until it the last possible second when it happened and suddenly he's doing something completely off the wall and I just didn't pay close enough attention (which happens a lot when a three year old is attacking you with dinosaurs while trying to read the grand finale!!!!)

But, I loved this book. I enjoyed every page and really, really hope there will be another Kangaroo story.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Paternus


5 STARS

Gods, monsters, angels, devils. Call them what you like. They exist. The epic battles between titans, giants, and gods, heaven and hell, the forces of light and darkness. They happened. And the war isn’t over.

17 year old Fi Patterson lives with her stuffy English uncle and has an internship at a local hospital for the aged. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, misses her dead mother, wonders about the father she never knew. One bright spot is caring for Peter, a dementia-ridden old man whose faraway smile can make her whole day. And there’s her conflicted attraction to Zeke -- awkward, brilliant, talented -- who plays guitar for the old folks.

Then a group of very strange and frightening men show up for a “visit”...

Fi and Zeke’s worlds are shattered as their typical everyday concerns are suddenly replaced by the immediate need to stay alive -- and they try to come to grips with the unimaginable reality of the Firstborn.

“Keep an open mind. And forget everything you know...”


THAT was one hell of a day. One hell of a ride! And one damn good book. Holy shit... I have to say I'm somewhat relieved to finish this book, one, because I NEEDED answers, but mostly because I have gotten NOTHING done since picking it up. I could not stop. And my poor child had to remind me that we do, in fact, need food daily despite my insane need to keep reading, responsibilities be damned.

I have read one other book this year that had me engrossed from beginning to end, only one aside from Paternus, and that's out of 45 books since January. (The other book was The Shining in case you're interested to know...)

Paternus is fantastic. I'd say I need book two immediately, but my mind needs a break from epic-ness... That was a lot to take in, but it is so well laid out and easy to follow (and by now you should know I'm easily lost and confused when reading intricate plot lines). You don't have to be an expert on myths and legends to get every reference, Ashton lays it out for you and uses his characters to show the significance of what's happening. 

Typically I have an issue with 'the big reveal' moment when characters stop to explain all those unanswered questions in a big lecture on the history of characters and the current situation. It's my least favorite part of books and sometimes I find I really just don't care, but not this time. By the time I started getting answers I was ready for some downtime and a little fireside chat. For me, it was perfectly timed and very well written. No overly long explanation or obvious/too revealing/unbelievably simple revelations. 

I Loved Paternus. Definitely looking forward to book two, just let me book a weekend stay-cation and a long term babysitter in preparation first, because I know I'm going to lose myself again in his work.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dark Matter

I have absolutely no idea why I can't get an image to download
so forgive me for not having a book cover inserted here...

3.5 Stars

Well, I'll just jump right to it because it's rare I find a book I don't enjoy reading. The story has been done. One day you're living your normal, basic life, wondering what could have been, and suddenly, your whole world's turned upside down and, oh no!, you miss the life you had. 

The grass is always greener right? Be grateful for what you have and all that jazz... It's been done.

Which isn't such a bad thing, it's always great to be reminded and there was a semi-interesting reason behind the occurrences and the attack of the genius main character.

The real problem I had was with the first person point of view.

Every thought was a statement.

Every statement was its own paragraph.

One line.

One thought.

After awhile it starts to become a monotone drone in your head.

And that voice lacked emotion and any real tie to the world around him.

Pretty annoying, right?

I wish I could say that was all that irked me, but his actions throughout the book... For a genius he's not very smart. Everything he did I just wanted to smack my forehead and ask, why? You couldn't come up with a better plan?

In actuality, his actions were probably a normal reaction to the situation, but I still couldn't help think, that was the dumbest thing he could have done. 

This book was given to me for review by Blogging for Books. I wish I had better news, but it's an alright read.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Black City Saint


4 Stars

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

Just finished up this sic-fi thriller and I have to say, it was intriguing. It's a great concept with a fascinating setting, back in the prohibition days of Chicago. The book had a crime/thriller feel that had me reading in an old times gangster voice for the entirety of the book, no matter how hard I tried to stop. I felt like every sentence should have ending as a question, 'see?' like the black and white  gangster films I've seen. 

As I read, I wanted to know more, but it felt like the author was really trying to add in action where it wasn't necessary. Our protagonist keeps walking into traps, most of them willingly and then fighting for his life, just barely getting away. He had no real plan but jump in and get wet. Which is a fun characteristic, there's a lot of potential for trouble makers leading the story, but the scenes still felt a bit forced and unresolved. A little more detail of the world during those battle scenes probably would have helped. They were over too quickly.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the world Knaak created for us. Faerie, Saints, Bootleggers, Gangsters and my all time favorite, the Thompson gun. Very quick read, very promising author, I look forward to another book.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

I, Q


4 Stars


Hang on to your butts, because I'm about to get Trekkie on you.

I recently picked up a copy of I, Q, a Q novel written in part by the great Q himself, John De Lancie, along with writer Peter David-who writes excellent Trek novels.

I love it, all the characters are always exactly on point with Peter David and everything is laid out in a perfect Star Trek style mystery that keeps you guessing til the final reveal.

My frustration lies in my inability to accept the story as truth... The issue is this: Peter David wrote another book, Q-Squared. In this book, Trelane is back and terrorizing the Enterprise and Picard's crew, under the lackadaisical gaze of Q. Q reveals himself to be Trelane's 'godfather' and is given the charge of reeling him in and teaching him just what it means to be a Q (a job he himself admits is a ridiculous task to fall to him and his very un-Q-like persona).

*Spoiler Alert*

In Q-Squared, Picard concludes that Q is actually Trelane's father, and his mother thought because he was so much like Q, the only person to change him would be Q himself. Q never denies he's Trelane's father, he pretty much confirms that not only is Trelane his son, but he was in love with Trelane's mother and the two had an affair, Trelane's 'father' never knowing his son wasn't really his.

So, Q has a son.

He also has another son in I, Q, with his wife, to whom he refers as 'lady Q'. So in I, Q, he's married and has another little q, nearly the same age as Trelane.

I suppose it makes sense that he has two sons... It was difficult enough to believe he would allow himself offspring in a book published in '94, now I find a book published in '99 claiming he has yet another son, AND a wife.

I'm having trouble accepting Q has enough affection or loyalty to anyone to have been married... Maybe his marriage was somewhat forced, a way of hoping he would calm down. Though his wife really does hold affection for her husband and is said to have chosen him over all other Qs.

I can more readily believe that he has more than one offspring, and this is through Q's own words. He claims he never saw himself as a father and never wanted to be, but he sees his little q as a 'means to an end'. Meaning the Q continuum has become too 'complacent' and stodgy' and the continuum needs 'new blood'.

So... just how many offsprings does Q have??? I can imagine an entire army of Q's q's taking over the continuum some day and throwing the universe into chaos...

I guess I need to do a bit more research on Q and keep reading the Q novels. But at this time, and with the facts before me, I'm concluding that Q plans to take over the continuum with his army of illicit offspring.

The book I, Q really is fantastic, I just can't get the question out of my head and I can't stop reading between the lines and trying to fill in the blanks. And I'm a little frustrated he's married... Especially when in Q-in-law he toys with, and falls for, Lwaxana Troi. He certainly has a problem. Someone needs to inform his wife... ;)

I just feel the relationship between Q and his wife, and the fact that he has a wife in the first place, too far fetched and out of character for him. I can understand his actions and feelings toward his son, it's definitely a motivator to save your child, despite any detachment or supposed nonchalance one might feel. It's a child for gods sake! Even Q can't be heartless enough to leave little q to a terrible fate. But as for his wife... I don't know. I think he'd see his freedom far more intriguing than risking his immortal neck to such high stakes for her.

Still, it's a very intriguing storyline, very well written. If only he wasn't married...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Shkode Series



The Shkode Series

4 Stars

A child plays innocently in a mother's lab and a world is torn apart. Time passes for life within the split world, history becomes lost to myth and fables and soon their reality is truly separated. Until, they start to collide. Nothing can save them from their impending doom, not even the promise of a mother to a heartbroken child.

But, as long as life exists, there remains hope. 

The Shkode series exists in a multi-dimensional universe of endless possibilities and E.D.E. Bell is stretching her imagination as far as it can go. A diverse and excitedly inclusive book, the series showcases three worlds trying to come together to save each other. 

The Banished Craft is a wonderful world building piece and sets the stage for book two. We discover what motivates the characters, what hinders them, and just exactly what they'll do to get what they want. There is a great comparison between the two separated worlds that builds in The Fettered Flame with amusing similarities and common ideas. 

The dragons are anthropomorphic, which I hadn't been expecting. It's another unique view of dragons, seeing them as free thinking, free spirited beings rather than mindless killing machines in search of war in many dragon novels I've read. I enjoyed reading how dragons would compare to humans in things like jobs and clothing and the dragon world is cleverly thought out and full of life.

The books are very inclusive and very revealing of the characters, all their faults and personal experiences. There were several moments I did not see coming. The story is definitely unexpected. There is a lot to learn about the world, but it's all in there and well laid out. I really enjoyed this series and can't wait for book 3! 

When I was approached about the books, I did ask for a favor... I asked for physical copies to give away!

I have a hardcover copy of The Banished Craft with a beautiful dust jacket and I also have an Advanced Readers paperback copy of The Fettered Flame, both signed by the author. Enter the rafflecopter and do not miss this exciting sequel!


a Rafflecopter giveaway