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Icarus_Mark

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:37 pm

I have finished the book following Level Grind known as Boss Fight. It will be the next book I review, and then there's another book I will read before I go on the Dark Tower binge that leads up to the cinematic release of the movie The Dark Tower. However, before I can even begin the review for Boss Fight, here's a few things I left out from the review of Level Grind that I probably should have mentioned (it should go without saying, but if you have not yet read Level Grind and wish not to be spoiled, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IN THIS COMMENT:

- In the end of Pack of Lies, it is seen at the end of the novella's conflict that Alek has a vision of Jade and a dragon. It is delved into in Boss Fight and it helps me affirm that giving Pack of Lies a 9/10 was a good decision.

- As of the end of Level Grind, Jade has taken the powers of 3 different sorcerers alongside their memories. They all happened in different novellas, with the only novella in Level Grind where Jade did not eat a heart being in Murder of Crows.

- Speaking of Murder of Crows, Jade's family is visited in this novella, but the person Jade had thought to be her father actually is not him and not among the tribe in that novella. The mysteries of her biological father is revealed at some point within Boss Fight.

- Before Alek ever comes into Jade's life, Jade's group of friends included Harper, Max, the aforementioned 2's mother Rose, Levi, and Ezee. It is revealed later that Levi is married to Junebug and Ezee has a complicated relationship with Yosemite.


There's probably others, but those are the few that come from the top of my head. I'll have a review of Boss Fight up either tonight or tomorrow.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:11 pm

Boss Fight by Annie Bellet

Chapters: 44 (divided into 3 novellas and does NOT include the excerpt from the previous book)

Pages: 394 (again, NOT including the excerpt from the previous book; with excerpt, page count goes up to 404)

WARNING: This review may contain spoilers from the book. Those who wish to read this book after the review, please proceed the review with caution. You have been advised!


With the positive review of Level Grind, it stood to reason to continue reading the story and check out Boss Fight, another volume of novellas in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series.  This time, it is divided into 3 novellas, but it kind of makes up the missing novella a little as these are on average longer novellas.  Again, I will be breaking down my review by novella and from those novellas, come up with an overall rating for Boss Fight.

The first novella, technically the fifth since it states it to be the 5th in the series, is Heartache, which I guess makes sense because in this novella, Jade’s life turns into a nightmare.  It is 18 chapters long and goes from Page 5 to 138, making it the 2nd longest novella in the series thus far behind Pack of Lies, the 3rd novella in the series.  Firstly, Samir is now in the fray, coming to Jade himself for the first time in the series’ present after everything else had failed to kill Jade.  Now that Samir is here though, it really makes it the perfect novella in which to begin the so-called “boss fight”.  Also of note is that at the beginning of the novella, Jade is left to fend off on her own as her friends are called away to different places around the world.  This prompts the first fight with Samir to predictably go awry and get Jade arrested.  This is short-lived after a few chapters though as the crime she was suspected for happens again when she is behind bars, promptly getting her out of jail.  It is shortly after this that we finally get to see her friends again.  Still, everything that could have gone wrong does (not quality-wise, but situation-wise).  
Spoiler:
 
 Some new aspects we did not see in the previous book are introduced here, such as the power of flight and the feasibility of time travel.  The more I read into Heartache, the more I realize just how much was set up from the previous volume and how much this novella still sets up for the novellas to come after it.  Because I had a feel for The Twenty-Sided Sorceress by this point, getting through this novella was no problem at all despite not being overly big on character development.  Thankfully, the predictable nature that was in Hunting Season is finally done something about here as there are many aspects of Heartache I just could not have predicted happening.  It was a thrilling read from start-to-finish, and I especially love where towards the end you’re given a first-person view of what it’s like to be in the hands of death and also what it feels like to time travel.  
Spoiler:
 
 That whole instance actually reminded me of when I faced Young Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance where if I couldn’t finish off the boss fight, I would be traveled back in time to the fight and have to deplete his health all over again.  
Spoiler:
 
 All in all, Heartache is one of the ballsiest novellas in the series and the risks it took paid off, not to mention that the cliffhanger with Samir and Harper at the end was powerful and set up the next novella beautifully.  Easily 9/10, but it could not get any higher for the same reason Kingdom of Summer didn’t get a higher rating: it was my first time reading it, so I don’t know how much staying power it has.

Moving on to the next novella, I begin to notice that in media, I’ve really been seeing a LOT of blood vs. water ever since Survivor did their 27th season titled Blood vs. Water.  There was another blood vs. water season for its 29th season, Episode 4 of the 3rd season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead is titled Thicker Than Water, and NOW this 6th novella in this series is called Thicker Than Blood!  So in that sense, blood and water has become a huge trend for me lately.  Thicker Than Blood is much shorter, starting at page 145 and ending only at page 267, but it also has the longest chapters in the series on average as there are only 11 chapters in the novella.  This is especially prominent in its 2nd, 3rd, and 5th chapters, which are 15, 17, and 20 pages long respectively and individually.  It is also the first novella in the entire series where points of view will change mid-chapter.  This is first noticed in its aforementioned 2nd chapter where the point of view switches from Jade to Harper, effectively beginning to answer the cliffhanger we had at the end of Heartache.

In Thicker Than Blood, Jade feels the effects time travel had on her magic.  Much the same way as Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2, Jade has lost her powers.  In this case though, the mystery of her biological father begins to take shape and Jade is told that this is how she can get her powers back.  This means she goes back to The Archivist, who we last met in Hunting Season so she can find out how to find her old man.  This SOMEHOW is a segway into revealing that Alek has a sister, who we are going to call Kira because that’s how she’s commonly referred to in the book.  It is also this very novella that I begin to perceive just how somber and grave Yosemite really is.  When I see his character in Boss Fight, I’m always left in a brooding mood because there’s a certain sadness to his character that just takes me in.  Now, it is actually very suspenseful how Jade goes to meet her father and once again I’m left turning the page, always wanting to know more about what happens.  It was heavier on character development than the preceding novella by far, and the series touches base with its inner Dragon Ball Z again towards the end of the novella, setting up for the finale all in the meanwhile.  Think about when Goku began training with King Kai and that’s the gist of where Thicker Than Blood ends off at.  It gets a slightly lower rating, but it’s still really good.  8.5/10 I think will suffice here.  However, before I leave Thicker Than Blood, it is towards the end of this novella in which we are treated to one of the most badass book covers I have ever seen.  Just look at this!



It don’t get much more real than a legendary badass wielding a magical sword in the middle of the snow.  If that does not scream legendary badass, then I don’t know what will.

The last, but certainly not least, novella in the book is Magic to the Bone, which has a difference of 1 page lengthwise from Thicker Than Blood, going from page 271 all the way to page 394.  There are 15 chapters though, but thankfully, the multiple POV chapters make a return here.  It picks off from where Thicker Than Blood left off, at least as far as Jade goes.  In this novella, Jade trains with her father for her final battle against Samir.  In this novella, we get to see Alek’s prophetic dragon vision from Pack of Lies come to life.  However, from there, I feel like for a finale, this was pretty anticlimactic.  I will tag my main reasons why in spoilers.  First,
Spoiler:
 
 Second,
Spoiler:
 
 Now, to state why I have a problem with this, let’s think that if this really was the conclusion of the series like you can see if be treated as such at the end of this novella, then I think The Twenty-Sided Sorceress took the easy way out.  
Spoiler:
 
 This I feel to be unfair to her and the reader.  Maybe there is a Volume Three coming that will explain why it had to happen this way, but as it stands, I just fail to see how this should have been allowed as a plot point in the book.  You can’t just make your protagonist look like a villain without giving some kind of background first.  That’s not how it works.

The rest of how it all comes together though does redeem Magic to the Bone in more ways than one.  A lot of what was set up from previous novellas are explained here and I see how it comes full circle.  This is also done with multiple characters such as Harper, Jade’s training, the future of Wylde, and many things more.  It also has a lot of action in it nd it really makes the volume Boss Fight fit.  These 3 novellas embody what a boss fight should be, and Magic to the Bone, in that sense, is the book’s manifestation of a boss fight.  It was here that I realized that Level Grind and Boss Fight were perfectly titled for each other because of how it felt like in those volumes.  However, because of how anti-climatic this novella was, I have to drop the novella’s score down drastically to a 6/10.  That score could still go up yet, but in order for that to happen, there would have to be a third volume in existence, and so far, this is no Volume Three.

For the entire volume, it was overall an even more thrilling read than its predecessor, but that might be because the first volume didn’t pick up pace until relatively late whereas I read through this much easier.  A lot of setting up and execution takes place, and it works most of the time, but the times it didn’t work, it really didn’t fail lightly.  It was a BIG fail that drastically hurt the score of the last novella.  That being said, it didn’t hurt the score of the volume a whole lot, and so Boss Fight will end up with a more than satisfying score of 8/10!  I do hope there is a Volume Three that explains some of the things that the final novella left me questioning, but if not, I won’t be too sad.


And there is Boss Fight reviewed!  Like I said, before I do my Dark Tower marathon, I have one more book to get to.  I won’t reveal what it is, but according to Goodreads, it was a polarizing book, so depending on what happens, it could be an interesting review coming up.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jun 15, 2017 2:48 pm

Wicked by Joanne Fluke

Pages: 232 (up to 295 with excerpts)

Chapters: 20 plus a Prologue and an Epilogue (plus several more chapters if excerpts were included)

Warning: This review may contain spoilers!  If you do not wish to be spoiled, please proceed with caution!



Yes, this is titled Wicked.  No, it is not related in any way to The Wizard of Oz, nor is it a musical! Rather, this is about a writer’s workshop where 10 people write a book in hopes of being selected to be published.  Originally the book I was going to cover was Above by Isla Morley, but I lost that book as I was reading it, so I ended up checking this book out instead.  I don’t really regret it because I wasn’t too invested in Above, partly because the chapters of that book were never-ending.

This book’s main protagonist is Eve Carrington, an entitled girl who goes to the workshop only because her boyfriend named Ryan wanted to go.  So she goes to this place called the Sutler Mansion for their stay in the workshop, which turns out to be one of the most uncomfortable places ever for a place to stay.  She also meets this rival of hers called Angela who basically turns into a leech and steals the attention away from Eve.  Also interesting about Angela is that when she reveals what she’s writing about, it is a murder mystery that is set in the mansion with the people in the mansion with her as her characters.  On paper it sounds like a great idea, but then it turns out that Angela’s murder mystery is being made into fact as one by one, the people in the mansion get killed off.  I chose not to put this information as spoilers simply because that’s what the premise reads if you read the back cover of a paperback copy of the book (or at least it does it this way in the Kensington editions like the copy I checked out).

Let’s be honest, I was not all that impressed with Eve.  Before I began reading this book, I had really thought I could have related to her because I like writing myself.  However, her persona was too contrasted for my liking and she just wasn’t too relatable.  Eve was childish in the beginning of the book despite being the one who paid for a lot of the stuff her sorority was able to enjoy.  She changes her attitude throughout the book which I guess is a step in the right direction, but I don’t really feel she’d changed that much for me to really buy all of her new personality.  She was the obvious protagonist through and through because her way of thinking was too conventional to really be believable.  That being said, I do like how smart she was despite how obvious it was that she would be the detective of the whole group.

Speaking of obvious, Angela was pretty blatant herself.  She comes off to people as this sweet girl who could do no wrong, and that’s why she ended up stealing all the attention away from Eve.  But anyone with a brain could read how glaringly fake Angela truly was.  It was just way too convenient that Angela’s book was the one that ended up turning into a reality.  But hey, what did you think was going to happen when the premise pretty much gives everything about the book away?  Furthermore, it is because of this that character development had failed on so many levels.  I didn’t care about any of these characters because they either died before I got to know them or the ones who didn’t die I just could not connect with at all.  Actually, if you read an excerpt that is right inside the front cover of the book before you even begin said book, it is given away right then and there one of the people who die in the book.  THAT is bad!

Now, that was the big problem of the book: it gave too much away too quickly.  Also, because Eve wasn’t really a likable character to begin with, I had a very hard time with the beginning of this book.  The first quarter of it felt like it took forever to get through.  I did, however, read through this pretty quickly after I got to the 6th chapter because when the people began to get killed off or when people were beginning to investigate what had happened to the victims, that was actually fun to read and it was in that sense fun finding out who the next victims would be.  Predicting who would die was kind of easy though because you know full well who the disposable characters were and which characters actually contributed more to the plot, so it did feel like it was only there to advance the plot.

I will also applaud this about the book.  This actually WAS a murder mystery like it was advertised, so at the very least the book was honest in what it was going to give me in terms of a story and so I was given what I had expected, unlike The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which was advertised as a murder mystery but was instead a melodrama.  Yes, it could have been done a lot better, but thanks to the fact it was as I had expected, I could have gotten worse too.

All-in-all, it was a highly readable book, but its execution was lackluster and god-awfully predictable.  Although this was indeed a murder mystery, it wasn’t a very good one.  It did what it did only so it could advance the plot, but it did make for an interesting read at times.  So in the end, when it came to scoring, I actually wanted to give it a higher score, but too much having been given away and the overall laziness bogged down this book for me to really give it better than a 4/10, and that’s being generous.

So with the harshness out of the way, thankfully with The Dark Tower books to review, I should have some good ones coming for the movie, and there might be other books on the way too.  If you have any to suggest, feel free to post and I will see if I can find them to check out.  Hope you enjoyed this review, as negative as it might have been and I’ll see you on the next one, which will actually be very soon![/i]
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:50 am

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Pages: 231

Chapters: 5

Warning: This review may contain spoilers about the book.  If you are planning to read and don’t want to be spoiled, please proceed with caution!


Here begins the series of Dark Tower books, and to celebrate the movie coming out this summer, I will be reviewing EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!  Now, I read this back in 2007, but this is one of the few books I remember enough that I can still review pretty easily, and I own every book from Waste Lands on forward, so I will reread every Dark Tower book I have in my possession, and the books I don’t have in my possession, I don’t need to reread because I remember enough of them to give a fair enough review on them.  So we start with the book that started it all, The Gunslinger, which is centered on a lone surviving gunslinger named Roland Deschain.  I feel the movie will cover this book, so it’s good I’m getting a head start here by reviewing The Gunslinger.

Now some complaints I have heard people I know say about this book is that this was the slow start to The Dark Tower series, but I find that I disagree.  I actually remember when I read this that I went through it pretty fast for my age, which was unusual for me when it came to Westerns at the least.  It felt like the beginning of something great, and it took a stray away from the usual horror story I might find and it actually felt like I was going on an adventure.  This might be because Roland is on a legendary quest for The Dark Tower, which is said to be the center of the universe.  Another character you’ll meet is Jake Chalmers, a boy that goes on the quest alongside Roland.  Jake is actually really important here because he will be a major character throughout the series.  Think Clementine from Telltale’s The Walking Dead and you’ll get an idea of Jake will become throughout the series.

Another thing I liked about the book is the flashbacks to Roland’s past and where he comes from.  They’ll be present throughout the series as well, but from the first flashback you see in The Gunslinger, I really see myself get attached to Roland despite the fact that he’s made some very cold-blooded decision both present and past.  The way they come up too works because Roland tells stories of his past to Jake just to give an idea of who Roland really is and how he became the way he is.  I also love how the last chapter foreshadows and sets up the entire series.  The whole Tarot Card segment was fascinating, and I couldn’t wait to see how it all unfolded with the whole Prisoner, Lady in the Shadows, Life, Death, etc.

The only negative I really have to say about the book is actually a minor one, but although this book did seem like I was going on an adventure, I knew full well that this only seemed like one long prologue to the true novel that spans the entire series, but The Dark Tower is meant to be like that, so it’s nothing major and it really tells me that I want to read more, and in the start of a series, you always want me anticipating the next book.  I can also see why this book would confuse people.  You kind of have to go forward with the sequels to make sense of The Gunslinger, so if you get too confused with the story, I don’t blame you.  Just read on with the sequels and you might get a better understanding of what’s going on.  So while this was not a long review by any stretch of the means, and neither should the review for the next book, it’s here to show you that I really want to cover The Dark Tower series and I am very excited to go and see the movie.  So I will give the book 8.5/10, and that score is actually me being hard on this book because, as you will see later, The Gunslinger is NOT my favorite Dark Tower book in the series or anywhere close to it.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:43 pm

Never really been interested in this series, but I admire your dedication <3. I love when people tackle full series. If I was a jerk I'd recommend you read the Sword of Truth series cuz the reactions would be funny, but that would be cruel.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:56 am

I'm gonna work on a few reviews on the way today.  I'm gonna have 2 new reviews up today (one of which will be the next Dark Tower book), so be ready!  ^_^

Also, Merriska, who authors the Sword of Truth? Now if I come across it, I might try and give it a go.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:04 pm

Terry Goodkind. It starts out as pretty generic fantasy with swords and wizards, but a few books in it becomes obvious the mind behind this world is...a bit of a nut.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:12 pm

The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

Pages: 406

Chapters: 5-6

Warning: This review may contain spoilers about the book.  If you are planning to read and don’t want to be spoiled, please proceed with caution!


Picking up where The Gunslinger left off is The Drawing of the Three, and the book takes place almost entirely either at the shores of The Western Sea or in different years of New York City.  Like the previous book, I read this back in 2007, yet I still remember enough of the book to review this fairly.  Also like the previous book, this book is still setting up for the entire series because if The Gunslinger acted as a prologue, then this is, so to speak, the first chapter.

So almost right away it turns out that
Spoiler:
 
 Honestly, I like this fate in a way because it’s a mechanism to learn how to adapt.  For example, after I read this, I’ve successfully taught myself to be better at darts when I throw with my left hand despite writing with my right hand.



So this book is one of the most important books in the series as it introduces 2 of our major travelling companions, a heroin addict who we will come to know as Eddie Dean (The Prisoner) and our Lady in the Shadows, named as such because she has alternate personalities in a sweet amputee lady Odetta Holmes and ruthless, cold-blooded, yet equally amputated Detta Walker.  Our Lady in the Shadows had lost her legs because she was pushed so that her legs were in front of a subway train.  During much of their travels, Detta is the dominant personality here, which Roland and Eddie must contend with.  In every sense of the word, everything that happens in the beach was fun and intense and I loved all of that.

However, when Roland draws the three, I did begin to feel the book was going by a bit slowly.  Basically, everyone’s reaction with The Gunslinger about it being slow was, in a mild dose, my reaction with this book.  This may be that I am historically not someone who takes much interest in what happens in the past and I was especially reminded of that when he was drawing the Lady.  Either way, US History has just always been a slow subject for me, so I didn’t really care to read about the civil rights movement in a fiction book, but it was necessary and set up bringing our Lady in the way it should be done.

The last act of the book focused on “The Pusher” known as Jack Mort,
Spoiler:
 
 Throughout this portion of the book, Roland contends with Jack while Detta and Eddie have to contend with each other and the lobstrosities on the beach.  What happens afterward is that
Spoiler:
 
 That last act right there was another one of the most intense moments of the book and really helped make it shine!

So all in all, this book set up much of the rest of the series although it did feel slow at times.  Since it felt slow at times, I would have to say that this book I enjoyed a bit less than The Gunslinger, but don’t fear.  It was still a good book and well-executed and was necessary to get to the books to come in which I feel the series will truly start.  Because of the slow bits, I decided on a rating of 7.5/10.  I hope you all enjoyed the review and I’ll see you on the next one!
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jun 27, 2017 2:13 pm

Infamous by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Pages: 468

Chapters: 17 (plus a Prologue and an Epilogue)

Warning: This review may contain spoilers about the book.  If you are planning to read and don’t want to be spoiled, please proceed with caution!


It’s been overdue for me to read through the 3rd book of The Chronicles of Nick.  A few weeks ago, all of the books from the series (they have the first 6) I saw in the library were mysteriously gone.  I had found this to be quite odd seeing as how I have seen them gone one at a time quite a bit since getting my membership at the library, and I have seen other Dark Hunters books in the shelves in the library.  Surely they weren’t disposing of these books, so maybe someone had checked them all out at once?  That turned out to be the case as last week I had found the first 5 back as suddenly as they vanished.  Right away I needed to pick up Infamous before anyone else so that Invincible could still be relatively fresh in my mind.

The story starts off explaining the cliffhanger from the end of the last book.  
Spoiler:
 
Spoiler:
 

So what gets the book up and running is when during Nick’s first period class a picture of a fully naked student (Brynna Addams from Infinity to be precise) pops up on their teacher’s computer.  Honestly, I might sound like a sadistic creepo with what I’m about to say here, but hear me out.  Although I do agree with the characters in the book that this is a cruel thing to happen to someone and I wouldn’t wish that happening to any child, I like it in this case because this is a gateway to build upon Brynna’s character.  Brynna has been largely ignored up until now, so now we begin to see what kind of person she truly is.  Nick decides to try to enlist help from Bubba, Mark, and Madaug to get to the bottom of what’s going on, and then goes and visits Brynna at home to keep her from killing herself.

Now that I talk of suicide, suicide is actually a big factor throughout this book.  In this book, Nick is fifteen, and honestly, when I was fifteen years old, that was a low point of my high school career, so I found myself making that kind of connection here.  In this book, while Nick does successfully save Brynna’s life by going to her house and giving her the ultimate talk of reassurance, many other people who Nick goes to school with, as well as his own father, come after him and try to ruin his life in more ways than one, and in more than one case, Nick’s life hangs in the balance.  In one case where a classmate going for Nick almost kills him, Nick ends up in a place in the Nether Realm called Azmodea, which is literally located somewhere in Hell.  In another, Nick falsely gets arrested for rape and it throws him into a place where he learns exactly why his father stays in prison (turns out since prison is a prime source of hatred, Malachai feed upon the hatred of the inmates to gain power and that is what his father has been doing for all this time).  It is this case that Nick almost kills himself before he gets a talk from his girlfriend Nekoda and he is reminded of the very words he said to Brynna.

Now here comes something else you should know about the book.  It is also in this part of the book that Ambrose visits Nick, thinking he has a way to turn Nick in a new direction.  See, how one becomes a Dark Hunter is caused as follows: when you fall into a love so strong you cannot bear to lose your love, then when you do lose a powerful love through a death and/or betrayal, you sell your own soul to the goddess Artemis for an Act of Vengeance against the one who had hurt you.  GEEZ!  That is horrid!  However, I feel like we can kind of guess how that would happen to Nick as Ambrose does point out that Nick being a Dark Hunter is as inevitable as him working for Kyrian was.  I keep remembering back to the prologue of Infinity and I always think to myself Hmmm… Nick
Spoiler:
 
When I think about it like that, I can see that event unfolding.

All of this together gift wraps the book and makes it come together in a way that is effective enough to keep me reading, yet also get me interested in the next book in the series.  I really come to like Brynna a lot more because she’s much more fleshed out in Infamous.  What this book also does well is that it makes it very easy and believable to develop the relationship of Nick and Nekoda, it solves the conflict of the book in a subtle manner
Spoiler:
 
and it sets up future installments in ways that keep me speculating what might happen.  I also found it funny that the Grim Reaper actually does substitute Chemistry teaching as a hobby.  That’s pretty amazeballs.

Now, there is a subject I did find some people in Goodreads were appalled by when they typed their reviews for this book, and that’s Nick’s mother Cherise.  Cherise comes across as a cunt to some people on Goodreads, but when I read about Cherise, was she really so different in Infamous than she was in previous installments?  What I saw in Cherise is, yes, she’s still hard on Nick and uses excuses to ground Nick (something that I admittedly find to be annoying and desperate), but were they blind to the fact that Cherise still cares deeply for him as well?  For instance, she doesn’t like the idea of Nick dating Nekoda, but I get that because since she was 14 years old when she had Nick, she sacrificed so much for Nick such as a better life for herself and I can only imagine that she didn’t want her own son to have to go through that himself.  I can imagine that anyone who has to become a parent in their teenage years would not want their kid to have to go through the same sacrifices that they did and so they do this sort of thing.  Nekoda is the one who shows Nick what his mother went through on the day of his birth which included her decision to keep him for better and worse, and later on in the book, we get to see Cherise open up to her son herself and I really see a bond that makes this mother-son relationship so worthwhile to read.  So no, I cannot in good conscience fault Cherise for how hard she has been on Nick despite what other people might think nor can I agree with the people who do.  As long as you can take Cherise with a grain of salt, you’re fine.

Now, one gripe I did have with Infamous is that the chapters towards the beginning were god-awfully long!  I mean, I start Chapter 5 when the page number is in the 140’s, by the time I got to page 200, I was still on the 6th chapter of the book, and when I get to the 300’s, I’ve only just begun Chapter 10.  THAT is how long these chapters were towards the beginning!  They do get shorter in the second half, but while it still took me only 3 days to finish this book (that’s a really good thing by the way if I finish a nigh-on 500-page book in that amount of time), it wasn’t so masterful as to justify the length of some of these chapters, especially towards the beginning.  Only books like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or The Dark Tower books can have 30+ pages in a chapter and still have it work to their favor.  Infamous may be a good-to-great book, but it’s not good enough to be in the same league as the best Dark Tower books or the best Harry Potter books, so if you can’t beat them, don’t even try to compare to them.  Instead, have your own merit and go along with that.

At this point, I’m beginning to realize this review is starting to become VERY long, but given how long the chapters of Infamous were in the beginning, I don’t think I much care.  But everything else in the book worked, and some of the book’s strongest points were points such as Brynna’s development, the tackling of the subject of suicide, Nick’s relationships with Nekoda and Cherise, and the set-ups of future installments were some of my favorite aspects of Infamous.  So will I be checking out Inferno, the next book in the Chronicles of Nick?  You bet I will!  Now, as for what I will rate Infamous, I was a little undecided at first as to how high this should get, but in the end, I figured 8.5/10 is more than fair, and so that’s where Infamous will land, which makes this my favorite book of the first 3 Chronicles of Nick books thus far.

As well as the other Dark Tower books, I will probably also tackle through the next 3 books of this series, and I am also reading through another book as we speak.  Be sure to stay tuned.  Hope you enjoyed the review, and I will be back for the next go-round!
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jun 27, 2017 5:42 pm

Cherise sounds like she would be a bit of a pain tbh, but I can kind of get why when you put it like that. And omg at these lobster monsters. Nice to see you around again Mark <33
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:45 pm

We were all worried about you mark
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Wed Jun 28, 2017 2:26 pm

Well thanks lol

Anyway, that review on Infamous might have been long, but the one I'm working on now is gonna blow that one out of the water.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:59 pm



Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Pages: 509

Segments: 11 (Chapters would have been way too confusing in this case)

Warning: This review may contain spoilers about the book.  If you are planning to read and don’t want to be spoiled, please proceed with caution!


Let’s include a freebie.  How I eventually came across this back actually involves this community, so I feel as though I should include how Cloud Atlas came into my life before I begin the review proper.  So back in the days of Trailer Idol, many people who were involved in the game went absolutely ballistic over a movie trailer sent by the eventual winner of the game.  The movie trailer they had sent in was Tammy.



Tammy had become a huge fad in the IMDb Games Community, much to mine and ESPECIALLY Tom Delonge’s chagrin.  I did check out Tammy one night only because of how big it became in our community, and needless to say, it was god-awful and nigh on unwatchable.  It was somehow the big takeaway from Trailer Idol, leaving many other more deserving movies in the darkest corners of forgotten memory.  However, one other movie was sent a few rounds later.  The other judges (mostly the indie-obsessed ones) were not impressed that movie was sent in due to its science fiction elements, but I not only was impressed with the trailer despite the person sending it in being eliminated that round, I also always kept a close eye on the off-chance I might come across it.  That movie was Cloud Atlas, so to Travis who may not be here to see this, thank you for showing me this movie.

Fast forward almost a year at my work’s annual Scholastic Book Fair in October 2015 and I had finally had my lucky opening of opportunity.  Up until then, I had not known Cloud Atlas was at first a book, but it did happen to be the only thing in the book fair to really catch my eye as something to read, so I forked over the $15 they’d charged and bought the book.  You can pretty much figure from that point on that I was about nothing except Cloud Atlas for the next 2 months afterward, both book and later the movie.  It should also be known that Cloud Atlas is one of the most expensive independent films of all-time with a budget of over $128 million.

So now onto the review itself.  Cloud Atlas is actually not entirely science-fiction despite it officially being one of its genres.  Rather, it is actually 6 intertwined stories that span through 6 different points in time, starting from the middle of the 19th century and then finishing around 500 years later.  Not only that, but each story takes place in different locations of the planet, such as the South Pacific, Europe, Korea, California, and Hawaii.  As a result, not only are the 6 stories connected, but it explores through many different genres.  Although there are 2 that take place in the future and that is probably where the sci-fi pinpoint come from, it also takes in spice from other genres such as history, contemporary drama, comedy, dystopian, post apocalyptic, and mystery.  While those alone should give you an idea on how vast Cloud Atlas really is, that’s not even mentioning the fact of how the book in constructed.  See, the story does indeed start in its furthest past.  However, as the story goes on, the first 5 stories cut off halfway through, moving beginning the story that chronologically comes next in the timeline.  The only time this does not happen is in the story that takes place in the most distant future, and that story is in the smack middle of the book.  Once the story in the most distant future ends, we go back to the story that directly follows it in the past and we keep going back in time until we are back in the most distant past, almost like a layered cake or a boomerang.  This ABCDEFEDCBA format this story follows is part of what make Cloud Atlas one of the most original books the 21st century has to offer.  Of course, if you do not have an open mind, you’re going to be sorely disappointed as this is also THE textbook definition of a polarizing story.  You either love it or you hate it.  There is not much room for middle ground here.  It wouldn’t work in a movie, and the people who did the 2012 movie adaptation knew this as if you’ve watched the movie, you’d have seen scenes jump between different periods of time, as if these stories were like a tossed salad rather than our boomerang cake of a book.

The story in the most distant past is a journal of Adam Ewing’s journey through the Pacific Ocean, who reluctantly stows away a slave worker during the journey while also in an ailing condition himself.  The genre of this particular portion of the book is mainly history, and because it’s history, needless to say this was my least favorite story of the 6 as I have said in earlier reviews that history is not my thing.  On top of that, the very beginning of the book was migraine-inducingly confusing and although the vocabulary was superb, some of the words used were so complex that I could have sworn that even the Albert Einstein of vocabulary words would have had trouble reading Adam Ewing’s entries.  As a result, when I started this book, I felt as though it was going by painstakingly slow and, for a time, I had believed I would have come to dislike the book as a whole.  It is also the story that starts and ends the book (in the movie, the first and last scenes are in the story in the most distant future), and as such, has the longest separation between the 2 halves, breaking off at around Page 39 and not coming back to it again until Page 475, further hurting poor Adam Ewing.  Despite the glaring annoyances I had with this particular era in time, I will say there were still bits I liked about this era.  I was quite intrigued when it was revealed that
Spoiler:
 
and there was a journal entry in the book in which the characters were singing Shenandoah, and to be honest, I was singing along as I read the Shenandoah segment.  Now, what I’m about to bring up may sound racist and controversial, but this is only for the purposes of showing what someone in the book had said and has nothing to do with my own beliefs.  The most powerful moment of this most distant past story was during a pit stop they’d made in Raiatea as I was nearing the end of the book, Giles Horrox had made the comment during a feast of how the most powerful race of humans would conquer the hindmost race and how when that hindmost race was conquered, they’d move on to the next lowest.  Someone, I forget who, then called out the flaw in this way of thinking, stating that if a race were to feel so superior as to eliminate the hindmost and keep doing so, then eventually the foremost race would also become the hindmost.  I remember it was compared to the food chain of the animal kingdom by Henry Goose, but that is beside the point.  The point of bringing this up is that this is, in some ways, what we see as we go further along the Cloud Atlas timeline.  This is why the journal of Adam Ewing is so important.

The next story we dive into is written in the form of letters from our next protagonist, a musician named Robert Frobisher.  This is our contemporary portion of the story, taking place in the 1930’s though when in the 1930’s depends on if you’re reading the book or watching the movie.  If I remember correctly, it’s in 1932 if you’re reading the book and 1936 if you’re watching the movie.  Anyway, in this portion of the book, Frobisher takes tutelage from a renowned yet ailing musician Vyvyan Ayrs and sends and writes everything that goes down in letters to his lover Rufus Sixsmith.  During the time in which Frobisher stays in his teacher’s abode, he has romantic dispositions with 2 other people.  One is a girl around his age who at first taunts him, but as the story goes on, Frobisher finds he is attracted to her and wants a relationship with her.  The other is Ayrs’ wife Jocasta who seduces Frobisher into having sex with her several times throughout his stay.  So yeah, this guy apparently gets around.  However, although Frobisher works with his tutor on many pieces of music, he decides to try and write his own work of art which we come to know as the Cloud Atlas Sextet.  This music was realized and made for us when the movie came out as I will post here.



Now, this whole next paragraph is a spoiler alert, so if you don’t want to know what happens, skip ahead past the spoilers onto the next paragraph.  
Spoiler:
 
 
Spoiler:
 

As a whole, this 2nd story was also my 2nd least favorite because at first, it was almost as slow as Adam Ewing’s story.  However, once I got to around Page 68, I finally began to pick up and the story went by much faster.  I was never too disconnected with Frobisher despite the long distance between the 2 halves of his story because it was as I went through this first half that this boomerang cake style of writing grew on me.  Also unlike Adam Ewing’s journal, this was a lot easier to understand and so it was a great way to really start reading into Cloud Atlas.

- To Be Continued —
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:18 pm

I read this book too! I can't remember every single event because of all the different segments and characters, but I liked it.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:25 pm

Yeah, Merriska, Cloud Atlas has a 3-part review from me, and I'm still working on Part 3 of the review. If you can take what I have written for the first 2 stories and try to put them on a scale for the book, you'll have an idea of where I might stand with the book as a whole since the first 2 stories were, in my opinion, the weakest.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:35 pm

- Cloud Atlas Review: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my review of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell!  Previously on the review, I had gone over how I had come to find Cloud Atlas, included a segment on Trailer Idol in the process, described how the book is structured, and then I went over the first 2 of the 6 stories in the book.  From here, we will start with the 3rd story.

Our next story takes place in 1970’s San Francisco, but much like the previous story, whichever year you get depends on how you’re viewing the story: Book (around 1975), Movie (1973).  Now this one is written as like a mystery and is the first of the Cloud Atlas stories to feature a female protagonist as the story is Half-Lives: The First Mystery of Luisa Rey.  The scenes you see in Luisa Rey’s story are the closest things to numbered chapters you are going to get in this book. It is for that reason why I used “segments” when I began the review instead of “chapters”.  It would have been bloody difficult and time-consuming to pinpoint how many “chapters” the entire book really had.  In the Luisa Rey portion of Cloud Atlas, Rufus Sixsmith makes a return, this time as a nuclear physicist.  Do keep note that Rufus Sixsmith is the only character who is actually a character in more than one story: Robert Frobisher’s lover in the 2nd story and a character who actually makes an appearance in this Luisa Rey story.  So what he does is he comes to Luisa Rey, a journalist, and gives her the slip that this guy Lloyd Banks is corrupt and there’s evidence that goes against him.  Of course, Lloyd Banks happens to have a hitman named Bill Smoke, and so these people are the villains of Luisa Rey’s mystery.  
Spoiler:
 
 Luisa also has a kid who frequently visits her called Javi, and he happens to visit her by jumping into her window and sneaking into her home that way.  So safe to say Luisa has a lot at stake here.  It was actually in this story that I’ve begun to realize that when the story break into halves, they are in big cliffhanger moments.  So in the second half she ends up with an ally in Napiers, and together they will work together and try to bring down Bill Smoke, Lloyd Banks, and company.  Now, unlike the first 2 stories, Luisa Rey never had a dull moment and thus was one of my 2 favorite stories of Cloud Atlas.  We’ll talk about the other one later, but just know THIS is how you write a good murder mystery!  You make it suspenseful and you give it the tension it deserves, and that is what this era of Cloud Atlas did as this Luisa Rey story was written like a murder mystery.  Maybe sometime soon I’ll come across a murder mystery that is good and is entirely a murder mystery, but this is where the bar is set here.  And overall, Luisa Rey had me turning the page and biting my nails.

The next story in Cloud Atlas is called The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, and this is the story that is set in the present (if by present you mean the year the book or movie came out).  In the book, it is set in 2004 because that’s when the book came out.  In the movie, it’s 2012 because the movie came out in 2012.  If another movie of Cloud Atlas came out now, this story would be set in 2017.  Now do you see what I’m getting at here?  Timothy Cavendish is for the present which is ironic because he is an old man.  In FACT, in the book, he is actually older than Luisa Rey because in her story, she’s 26 and in his story, Timothy is 65.  Even in the movie both of these characters would be the same age.  But anyway, Timothy’s story is the one that gravitates to comedy.  In his story, he helps Dermot Hoggins publish a novel called Knuckle Sandwich, which might seem like a joke at first, but
Spoiler:
 
Knuckle Sandwich becomes a bestseller, which is great and all until Timothy finds himself on the run when Dermot’s brother threatens him for their share of the profits (profits that Timothy cannot produce).  So he gets advice from his own brother Denholme, who tells him to go to Aurora House to hide out in to ride it all out.  It is as he makes his way there that we have a connection between Timothy’s story and Luisa’s.  Turns out Aurora is a nursing home and the staff is abusive, so now Timothy has to try and get out and fast.



Let’s be fair, although I did find myself laughing quite a bit at the story, Timothy as a character was an annoying main character and so I didn’t enjoy this as much as I could have.  He was a kvetch and he reminded me of the people who find any excuse to complain against anyone they felt like, and because I was a target during that period of time, I didn’t really want Timothy to succeed.  But as this “ghastly ordeal” went on, I began to respect him more and I really did begin to want to see him pull through and to make that kind of change as a main is important.  Also, being thrown off bridges or some other manmade structure or someone wanting to do that kind of thing is a HUGE connection that is mentioned several times throughout the book throughout several stories, so do keep that in mind should you choose to read this book or watch the movie.

Now we go into the future with our 5th story, and this is the only one that is located in the continent of Asia.  More accurately the story is set in the city of Neo So Copros (Seoul in the movie).  It is set in the 22nd century (2144 if you’re watching the movie), and is written in the format of an interview.  The actual title is An Orison of Sonmi-451, so this is an archivist interviewing our new protagonist, Sonmi-451, and recording her story in an egg-shaped device known as an orison.  Sonmi-451 herself is one of many slave workers in a dystopian world.  Democracy has fallen, and in its place comes in corpocracy.  The interview style is not the only thing different about Orison though as the language you’d be reading the book in is comparable to that of George Orwell’s 1984,



but not REALLY the same if that makes sense, and it won’t be quite so prominent in the movie as it is in the book.  In the book, some of the language I read in this part of the book poked fun at big brands we use today, which I thought was a neat touch-up to the story.  For example, coffee is a starbuck, the new word for “movie” is now a “disney”, etc.  Also, words that currently start with the “ex-” prefix loses the “e” at the beginning and instead begins with an “x”, so words like “exactly” become “xactly” because that beginning “e” is dropped, and honestly, although it might be disorienting to some, I like it.  Actually, an event the workers like Sonmi-451 strive for is called Xultation, said to be the ceremony in which a worker is freed from their bondage and becomes a free citizen.

Where Sonmi-451 is condemned to slave work is at a restaurant called Papa Song’s, and in her society, she is a fabricant, meaning she was created.  Fabricants are not only condemned to slave labor, but the only form of intake they can have is when they’re imbued something referred to as “SOAP”, and no, it is not the kind you wash your hands with.  So as Sonmi-451 spends her life working at Papa Song’s, she communicates with fellow fabricant Yoona-939, who wants to escape and start a revolution.  
Spoiler:
 
 Obviously we know she’s going to choose the latter because otherwise how would we be able to begin this story?  So she ends up staying in this college student’s dorm and from there on, a chain of events happens in which Sonmi-451 becomes a rebel in essence.  It is during this chain of events that we see the connection with The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish.  See, that story that happens in what would have been the present gets made into a movie which in the world of Cloud Atlas is considered to be equivalent in quality to what The Shawshank Redemption would be on IMDb’s Top 250  Although a year of release is not mentioned in the book, in the movie it comes out in MMLXII, or the year 2062.



Spoiler:
 

Now remember when I said that Luisa Rey’s story was one of favorites in Cloud Atlas and there was another?  Well, this is my other favorite of the 6 in this book, and Sonmi-451 is my favorite protagonist of all the protagonists in this book.  She’s subdued in nature thanks to her being born in slavery, but she’s strong-willed and independent, open-minded, and all-around someone I can’t help but just flat-out love as a book character.  Her upbringings and story really resonate and make everything about An Orison of Sonmi-451 truly memorable and enduring, from the humble beginnings to the heartbreaking truths to the gut-punching, soul-shattering conclusion, and, well, were the rest of Cloud Atlas as good as this story right here, then Cloud Atlas, although already a confirmed good book by this point, could have contended for best book of all-time.  That is how much I love Sonmi-451 and everything she stands for.  Okay, let’s get the fuck over to the last story before I fanboy myself into the depths of insanity.

- To Be Concluded—
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Jun 30, 2017 3:17 pm

- Cloud Atlas Review: Part 3

Previously on my review for Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, we delved into the next 3 stories of Cloud Atlas, Luisa Rey’s story, Timothy Cavendish, and Sonmi-451.  Now we will take a look at the final story set in the most distant future and finally review Cloud Atlas as a whole, giving it a rating and giving brief thoughts on the movie as well.

After Sonmi-451 we come into Sloosha’s Crossin’ N’ Ever’thin’ After, the story farthest in the future.  It takes place in the year 2321, 106 “winters” after an apocalyptic event known as “The Fall”.  Civilization is in ruins and humanity has devolved into primitive tribes.  Life spans are halved because the radiation from our earlier eras has caused the end of civilization, and by the looks of it, humanity itself is lucky to still even be alive.  That radiation is ever-present in what the ruined Earth has become, the reason all life spans were shortened drastically, and even the language that we use today has become what some other readers have coined as “pigeon speak”.  This “pigeon speak” can make the text hard to translate and understand, and because I synthesize with this, it isn’t my favorite of the 6.  However, it is my 3rd favorite because once you can get past the language in this middle section of the book, you’re in for a fascinating story, and to be fair, thanks to being raised in Florida and having members of my family who are backwoods people, I actually didn’t even have that much of a problem understanding it, especially once I read it aloud to myself.  Now, more about The Fall is that we had actually seen this beginning to happen when we were in the story of Sonmi-451.  Neo So Copros was built from the ruins of Seoul, dead because of radiation.  This 6th and final story is after the end of civilization has hit the entire world.  If we take the movie’s timing into account, this puts “The Fall” to happen in the year 2215 which I guess is a feasible year if our world does indeed end up like that (mind you, we are only in 2017, so this future could still actually happen, and if it does, then civilization as we know doesn’t even have 200 years left, and democracy would have, at most, 127 years left to thrive).  So our main protagonist for this final story is a peaceful farmer from the valley folk, whose name is Zachry.  Throughout this story, he must with cannibalistic slavers known as the Kona, a devil known as Old Georgie, all while guiding a Prescient named Meronym through the island he comes from.  Interesting about Meronym is that her people, the Prescients, are technically sophisticated people who have all the working remnants of what civilization has left behind, and I really loved the chemistry between her and Zachry as they made their adventure through Big Island.

Now what I believe about Zachry is that
Spoiler:
 

And so with that, my long travel through Cloud Atlas is coming to an end.  It is not the brainless sci-fi action flick it might appear as to someone who only watches the trailer.  It is actually one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read and it is a story you REALLY need your brain with you for.  You have to follow it through from beginning to end if you are going to watch the movie or read the book or else you are going to get lost pathetically easy.  If we want to be honest, had this never been slow to start off as, I would have gladly given Cloud Atlas a 10/10 I rarely ever give to books.  However, the story of Adam Ewing and even part of Robert Frobisher’s story felt like it lagged on, so a 10 for the entire book is sadly not possible.  But even in those parts at times, I still felt like I was getting my money worth and then some and I knew that even with the lag it was necessary for the story, and combine that with the fact this has been so thought-provoking and absorbing ever since, not only was it well-worth my time, I would recommend this book to anyone who ever wants to read it as long as you have patience to get through its beginning.  So with all said and done, the score I ultimately decided on was a 9.5/10!  When the story shines, it isn’t like a spark, but the shine is more like a brilliant, giant star.  Its vastness and depth give it meaning in astronomical quantities as well as qualities.  The characters are masterful and the relationships are beautifully written.  A real possibility for what might happen to our world is in here too and the many messages this book gives are powerful.  There is no book like Cloud Atlas.

Now, as for the movie adaptation to the book, I loved it.  There are some differences I wish were not there, but there are others that fit in and some others yet that were necessary.  And then there was one big difference that, although was not my favorite, led me to discover the beautiful song known as Woodpigeon’s song A Slight Return Home.



I will say that before you watch the movie, you should definitely read the book first.  Otherwise, the movie’s not going to make a lot of sense to you.  With that said, while some movie adaptations completely bastardize their original source material (I’m looking at YOU, Super Mario Bros.), Cloud Atlas is not one of those movies that fails the original source material.  Rather, it gives a new take on the source material that puts a smile on my face and keeps me interested even after the end credits roll.  Although the runtime is 2 hours and 52 minutes long, I found that I didn’t mind the long runtime at all.  In fact, the movie felt like it was over long before that runtime.  So while it did not succeed in the box office and while some people still do think to this day that a “true” movie adaptation is unfilmable, just remember that if you can make me smile and think in both the book and then the movie afterwards, you have found yourself a winning combination and Cloud Atlas for me has won big and it will continue to endure for years to come.

I hope you guys enjoyed this really long review of Cloud Atlas and I do hope if you’ve not read the book, go and give it a try.  You might surprise yourself.  I’ve had a lot to say obviously, and it’s really made me think long after I read the final page and long after the end credits rolled.  I will leave this review with one last something, and in the words of Adam Ewing, “What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops”.

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:36 pm

It really was beautifully written. That song <3
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:39 am

Overturned by Lamar Giles

Pages: 341

Chapters: 62

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers.  If you wish to read the book, then proceed this review with caution.


After reviewing Cloud Atlas and given how long that review was, I am hoping this review will be short…er.  How much shorter I can manage, I don’t know, but worth a try, and I don’t think much can compare to how many thoughts I’ve put together for the previous review.  From time to time, I like to break away from sci-fi and fantasy and sometimes, a story set in Vegas or in casinos can really be the right thing to hook me onto a book.  Also a plus is how the copy I happened upon looked: the black and red hard cover, the hole in the “O” looking like the diamond you’d find in playing cards, and the red felt paper right on the inside of the covers gave it that Vegas feel, almost as if the book I picked up was a casino all in itself.  This is also a new book that had just come out earlier this year, so since this is only a few months old, this technically an early review for the book.

So this book is about 16-year-old Nikki Tate, whose father was wrongly convicted of murdering a longtime friend over what apparently was a game of poker gone morbidly awry and was sentenced to death row 5 years ago.  Now new evidence has surfaced that proved her father’s innocence and so he is exonerated from Ely State Prison, which is when and where this book begins.  Nikki, however, has been working on her own plan while he was in prison, which was to save up money for college by playing illegal card games of poker.  Now, ever since her father’s release, he’s not the same guy he was as he becomes married to trying to figure out who had framed him and why.  Even worse, this takes a toll on Nikki, who gets drawn in to her father’s precarious hunt, and everyone around her as her friends and family begin to get worried and/or frustrated with Nikki for her suckage into her father’s quest as Nikki’s life becomes the biggest gamble at stake.

Now what I will say off the bat was that although I did not think this when I’d picked up the book, this is actually another murder mystery, and unlike Wicked which had the most obvious answers ever, this actually works for some reasons.  Overturned, to begin, gives a first-row seat to how Vegas works.  How, you might ask?  Well, Nikki starts off the book living in the hotel of the casino that happens to be owned by her father.  Yep!  The same guy who was in death row owns a casino, and this is probably how this story is allowed to exist.  It’s really interesting if you think about it because you get a gist for how casinos run their businesses.  Nikki also happens to be a shark in poker, beating a dickload of people in poker just about every time she plays, which allows her dream to be possible.  She also has 2 besties: one who is described as a model who looks as though she should be on the magazine cover of Sports Illustrated (although I think more of Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who played Carly in Transformers: Dark of the Moon when imagining her) and the other apparently looks like The Rock.  We’ll call these people Molly and Gavin though, and we’ll be seeing these people a lot in the book because they’re Nikki’s besties and all, and we wouldn’t want besties to feel left out, now would we?  *mischievously grins secretly plotting to leave them out*  We also come by this guy who transfers from a rival high school (and when I say “rival high school”, I mean a rivalry so fierce, it would make the Red Wedding look like a tea party).  We’ll call him Davis.

So when Nikki, Molly, and Gavin save Davis from the high school football team, it throws another relationship in for Nikki that becomes hairy.  See, Davis is actually the younger brother to the heir of another casino called the Nysos, the casino that is supposedly going to be the seat of the empire of Las Vegas.  While this naturally means the antagonist of this book will be associated in some way with the casino, we don’t really know who the antagonist is exactly.  We might have an idea since Davis’ family owns the casino, but is it Davis or is it someone else who we are looking for?  We don’t know.  That’s why it works as a murder mystery.  The mystery is there and there is actually something to solve this time around.  It leaves subtle clues until the killer, aka the antagonist, is revealed and known.  That is where this book is smart, intelligent, yet still something you can solve for yourself.

Now, there were some aspects of the book I just did not really deal too well with.  For one, the middle part of the book when Nikki is skipping school to get clues as to why her father had been so obsessed with his finding who framed him was just cringeworthy to read and I began liking Nikki a lot less.  It didn’t develop her in positive healthy ways, but instead made Nikki look like an obsessed orangutan who grew into a careless howling chimpanzee.  Because of her attitude and her ire, I found myself wanting to skip more and more of her chapters since she was that annoying, and I HATED the parts when she was skipping school!  Now, because she’s the protagonist, I want to like her as much as I can, and towards the end it becomes an easier task again, but when the chapters were in the later 20’s, all through the 30’s, and even through a good portion of the 40’s, I just wanted to her character to either get better or be over and done with because where she was just didn’t work with me.  Oh, the rest of the characters were unbearably awful throughout this portion of the book as well, especially Molly who was acting more like a strict mother than a friend, her actual mother who by this point I already wish disappeared off the face of the planet, preferably inside a bear’s mouth, for how she behaves and treats her daughter, and then there’s Gavin who in some aspects begins to become irrelevant and is someone who I wish would start singing “The Rock Says” already so he could live up to his appearance, and some other people that just came and gone through my brain and made it seem like my brain were a train station and these characters were trains that flew by the train station without stopping.  Dan Harris (the lawyer who gets the father exonerated in the first place) and Tomas Garcia (some guy who apparently wants Nikki’s mother’s clitoris) are two such people in that group of people I couldn’t care less for
Spoiler:
 

Also, the relationships in the book, although believable in most parts, feel like they get repaired too quickly towards the end of the book.  Maybe it’s just because of the few chapters that pass between tensions A to D to Q (yeah, whoever made THAT comment in a review of Transformers: The Last Knight has just found themselves a BIG target of being mocked by me amongst other people because now I’m going to get a lot of mileage using the “A to D to Q” reference as a way of mocking other things, including possibly that same critic), but the comment about tensions between other people seeming like they get resolved quickly stands because in book distance, that’s exactly what it feels like to point it gets unrealistic at times despite there being months passing by after the main conflict is solved which, in turn, help soften the blow.  On a lighter yet still critical note, I feel like the book obviously set itself up for a sequel when I read the last line, and I quote: “What I thought … all bets were off.”  Is that supposed to be a cliffhanger ending to indicate a sequel is coming?  Will I be reading Overturned II: Revenge of the Carlitos in like 2019 or something?  Will I even care?  The world may never know.

But like I said, where this book works, it works quite well.  Before the characters overstay their welcome, the relationships are genuine.  The friendship between Gavin, Molly, and Nikki is genuine and is something I really come to root for.  Now, it was never put to the test for the most part in the beginning, you see it put to the test throughout the book and it’s a test that’s never truly resolved, but you can see that distance can be the greatest test a friendship can have and can be a true indicator of just how strong their friendship really is.  
Spoiler:
 
 Nikki and Davis is another relationship that I really found myself connecting to, but only on a degree.  As Nikki searches through her father’s history, Davis becomes more and more concerned, and it comes to a point where it really hurts both of them.  Then again, you can’t not expect it because, duh, it’s Vegas.  We’re not in the city of Honestville is the province of Niceland in the nation of Trustlandia where everyone and everything is all butterflies, rainbows, and magic unicorns singing the My Little Pony theme song.  This is the City of Sin, so treachery is going to be rampant enough to make Benedict Arnold jealous and this treachery is abundant in this book in ways closer than you think.  So, as you can see, I think if I lived my childhood in Vegas and MY dad owned a casino, I could see myself living the events described in this book.

So, as you can see with this book, I had both major praise and major gripes with the book.  When the book worked, it really worked.  When it faltered, it really faltered.  With that said, keep in mind that if you do happen to check out this book, proceed with caution; however, I do not say this because it’s a bad book because as a whole it really isn’t.  It’s just that it’s much like going into a real casino: you are taking a real risk reading this book and aspects of this book will either completely flop your opinion of the book or it will go smooth and you will end up coming to love it, making this a high risk, high reward kind of book.  Deciding on what to give the book wasn’t particularly easy, but I think a reasonable score I can give this is a 6/10 and although cases for 5/10 and 7/10 can be reasonably made, the 6 is in the end my official score for this book because I feel it is the best rating for Overturned as it s the fairest I can give it.

Maybe it still ended up as a somewhat long review, but I tried to keep it short enough that I didn’t need to divide into parts.  Next book will be a very short one, but hope you enjoyed the review and hope to see you for the next one!
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Merriska



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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:52 pm

I'm a bit curious how she seemed like a careless howling chimpanzee since it's an interesting metaphor. Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:42 pm

Merriska wrote:
I'm a bit curious how she seemed like a careless howling chimpanzee since it's an interesting metaphor. Razz


You'll probably understand better if you actually do read that particular book.

Anywho, I have an account set up on GoodReads now and decided to post the next review there. I'll post the link, so let me know if it shows:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2051283299?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1


That book the link should take you to is for The Vampire State Building by Byron Preiss.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:46 pm

It works.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:13 pm

Good. It's the first time I've tried Goodreads, so I just needed to confirm it did lol I'll use it some of the time for reviews, but I'll still post most of my reviews here.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:19 pm

Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Chapters: 20 (Plus a Prologue and an Epilogue)

Pages: 451

Warning: The following may contain spoilers from the book.  If you wish to read the review, please proceed with caution!


“Nick has a driver’s license and he’s not afraid to use it.”  Well… that’s up in the air.  Although he is not an afraid individual by any stretch of the means hence the “not afraid to use it”, he is only letting Acheron teach him how to drive when we enter this book, so no, he does not have a Driver’s License coming into Inferno, but more like a Driver’s Permit which we know is not the same thing.

Speaking of, we’re in the 4th book of a series.  After you get past the 3rd of a series, you begin to have an idea of what to expect and sometimes should probably already know beforehand.  It’s that way with series such as The Fast and the Furious, The Walking Dead after a few seasons, and the earliest example I can think of, The Land Before Time has that too.  This can be looked at as a good or bad thing, depending on what your view points are.  For me, I’m fine with knowing what to expect as long as the story itself stays interesting.  The Chronicles of Nick has gotten to a point in this timeline where you can begin to predict the general gist of what will be in the book: everything imaginable is out to claim Nick’s life, Cherise is a dragon when it comes to Nick, the Kyrian scenes are usually not much more than a scene of Nick doing shit for Kyrian and a scene where Kyrian comes to Nick’s aid, a problem sucks Nick into another situation, Nick and Caleb annoy the shit out of each other, someone gets touch-ups from their past, oh, and the epilogue is always a cliffhanger.  None of this changes here and there’s not much new that comes in this particular book.  What does get added in though is that this time around, we get glimpses of what the future could be like if Nick lets the Malachai in him win out (in all essences of the word, total annihilation in a post-apocalypse except for the few dying embers of hope and/or bravery thanks to his evil legion and him being an evil demon of phenomenal power) and we get to see more of who Acheron really is.  So really, when you think of it, Inferno has turned into something formulaic and so this whole series is in need of a change.  It does seem we’ll get something like that for the next book Illusion when reading the epilogue, so we’ll see.

Another thing that bugged me about this book was Casey Woods!  I can’t believe that Cherise is getting the most hate when you have Casey being a bonafide creep!  Before it’s even explained why she is a creep, we the reader are treated to the oh so chivalrous intrusive whacko who will just never leave Nick alone.  Yes, I’ve dealt with my fair share of intrusive people in school, but NONE were as invasive as this girl we read about in this book right here!  And she is also SO pushy!  She was grating to read and the next few chapters starting from the fifth felt like it took 1600 pages to get through.

Spoiler:
 

Now, let’s talk about my thoughts on the name “Zarelda”.  It honestly sounds like the name of a medication you’d take, kind of like how the main antagonist of the Eragon books, Galbatorix, sounds like the name of a weird ass medication.  Of course, Zarelda sounds a lot like the medication Xarelto in particular, which part of me leaves me wondering if Sherrilyn Kenyon took Xarelto and then somehow spelt the name wrong or made a play on the name to come up with the name Zarelda when she create this character.  Since I do not know Sherrilyn Kenyon, I’m leaving the possibility in the air.

One more thing about this book that I didn’t really like was how delayed some of the events here were.  
Spoiler:
 

Okay, so this is not all gripes.  This was still a fun book although it did seem slow at times.  Some of our characters were built upon even more from previous installments.  In particular, Caleb I think got it the most when I was reading about his previous life.  I felt so bad for him.  He had a life worth living:
Spoiler:
 
 Also, although people still hate Cherise, I really don’t see how her whining has gotten worse with each book.  While yes, I did find the one point in this book I heard her whining to be annoying, if anything, Cherise has been growing as a parent in these books because I’d thought her “whining” to be at its worst in Infinity, and at this point, we are well past that book.  The way I see it, Cherise is still the same caring mother she has been in past books, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, but hey, who knows?  I have also seen complaints about how preachy the book is, and while I can see it and I myself have found this book to be a bit preachy at times, it didn’t really degrade the quality of this book, especially after my other complaints I’ve had with Inferno.

Another thing that I liked from Inferno was some of the set-up I have seen with this book.  So
Spoiler:
 
 Oh, and the return of Alan and Tyree from the first book was another thing I did actually like because that needed to be resolved.

When I balance the positives and negatives of this book, well let’s see.  The same-ish parts of this book are not enough to bore me out of this because the book was still interesting in spite of knowing what to expect.  I was irritated by Casey in this book, but really, she was just one character and so when held up to the rest of the characters, Casey didn’t have much of a chance of bringing this book down to where I could dislike it.  The “how’s” that irritated me about this book were the biggest peeve, which is saying something when comparing to Casey.  How some people got their information in this book and how it took so long for some revelations to come into play when they really should have been found out earlier in the timeline was god-awfully confusing and borderline dumb.  However, the character development, valuable book’s messages, and the still overall fun of the book in general was more than enough to outweigh the cons of Inferno.  It’ll be a while before I go and read Illusion, but I’ll still be continuing on with The Chronicles of Nick.  My library only has up till Instinct, so unless more CON books come into the library shelf, Instinct could very well be the last book of this series I read, and right now, that’s only the book after the next one in this series.

As for what I will rate Inferno, it’s definitely not as good as the previous 2 books.  However, it was still an enjoyable book, so I think I will give it a 7/10, but I think I’m being generous with that rating.  Cases could be made for 6/10 as well, but 7 seems right for me for some reason.  I hope you all enjoyed reading the review and I’ll be back next time.


Goodreads review of Inferno: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2051269974?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:13 pm

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Chapters: 56

Pages: 553 (557 if the glossary is counted)

Warning: This review may contain spoilers about the book. If you wish to read the book in question, please proceed with caution.


If you’ve ever familiarized yourself with Percy Jackson, this book is the first book in a series called The Heroes of Olympus, which is actually in of itself a continuation of a larger series which started with the Percy Jackson books. The larger series is the Camp Half-Blood Series, and as such, this is all in the Percy Jackson universe. To begin, I’ve seen this series flying around at work all the time, especially the final book of this series titled The Blood of Olympus. While I would love to read The Blood of Olympus, I’d have to go through the entire Heroes of Olympus series at the bare minimum, and that happens to start with this book. Although I know Percy Jackson precedes this, you don’t HAVE to read the Percy Jackson books to follow this book. You just need to have been introduced to Percy Jackson in some way, shape, or form. From there, The Lost Hero is actually newcomer-friendly for being a continuation of another series, so I’m actually glad I started here.

So The Lost Hero has 3 new protagonists: Jason Grace, Piper McLean, and Leo Valdez. We’ll start with Jason, who is an amnesiac that wakes up in a bus full of kids and is apparently a student at the Wilderness School among other things. He has no memory of how he got there or who anyone is, but he does happen to have this keen sense that something is very, very off about the happenings of the reality he lives in. Eventually he ends up in Camp Half-Blood, where he finds out that he has to go on this quest to save Hera, which just so happens to be the goddess who wiped out his memories. He along with Piper and Leo are to be 3 of the 7 demigods who are part of a Great Prophecy to save Olympus.

Speaking of Piper, we have a girl who thinks she’s Jason girlfriend, but of course Jason does not remember this. Instead, she deals a lot with dealing having to try and get Jason to fall in love with her again, but she also is the daughter of a Hollywood actor. Now, the catch is is that her father is being held at ransom by a giant named Enceladus, and apparently, she has to bring her friends to be killed by the giant so her father can go free, or the giant eats her father. So basically, she’s in a race against time to make one of the worst decisions imaginable.

Then you have Leo who is a tool guy. Apparently this is Jason’s best friend, but we’ll get to more of that later. Leo is the tech savvy member of the trio who loves to fix and mend things. The dragon on the front cover of the book is one of the machines Leo gets under his control in the course of the book. He also apparently has had Hera for a babysitter while he was a little boy and has run away from home
Spoiler:
 

The book itself is told from the points of view of Jason, Piper, and Leo in that order for 2 chapters at a time, so it’s in a popcorn kind of format. So in that sense, the first 2 chapters are Jason’s point of view, then Piper gets the next 2 chapters, then Leo takes the 2 chapters after that before it shifts back to Jason for 2 more chapters and it goes on like that throughout the entire book. That’s actually an interesting setup, yet it’s also a dulcet one as it allows me to ease into the story and lend me a look at how these characters’ minds work.

I will say that although I liked that style of writing, I was not impressed as a whole when it came to the trio. Jason, if you don’t count the whole amnesia thing that would compare to that of Shadow the Hedgehog, is a rather bland lead. He’s painted as the Golden Boy of the group, and yes, he may be a son of Zeus, but his whole golden boy leader vibe just makes him rather banal. He isn’t all bad though thanks in part to his amnesia. It reminds me that even someone as he has his flaws and we don’t know what kind of person he’ll be if he ever got back all of his memories. Piper I actually liked even less because her feelings over Jason can be a bit excessive AND her reaction towards beauty despite being a child of Aphrodite is at first somewhat cringeworthy. She comes off as whiny in some parts of the novel, and in some others, she comes off as a fraud, mainly because she was a kind of thief before being sent to the Wilderness School and, as a daughter of Aphrodite, uses “charmspeak” to lull anyone she can to do her bidding. It’s similar to silkspeech in The Chronicles of Nick as “silkspeech” does the same thing and has the same effect as “charmspeak” does here. Either way, the whole charmspeak thing or her affections toward Jason made me very down on Piper.

For a time, I was even less than impressed with Leo, but after a time, he was the easiest to grow into. Leo’s sense of humor was a good medicine for me in the book and after a while, I began looking forward to his chapters as I continued to read. His way with tools and how he uses them helped bring him into my good graces throughout the book, and as a whole, him being in the trio helps make the trio a decent read despite never really being impressed with Piper. The positive traits about Jason and Leo help balance the book out, so even if it did at times feel like a long read, a lot of the book actually flew through for me.

My favorite characters in the book though were actually some of the supporting characters. In particular, I was impressed with how Rick handled Hera. Now, Hera hasn’t really acted like the nicest goddess ever in many iterations of Greek mythology if you discounted Disney’s Hercules, but in this book, even with her limited appearances, Hera was solid in every sense of the word. Yeah, she can exhibit some grudging qualities such as her jealousy towards demigods, but in her talks with Jason, I really begin to see another dimension to Hera’s character and it really helps Hera shine for me. In one quote from the book in particular when she is in her Juno form do I see another side to Hera that has made come to like her more as a supporting character:

Spoiler:
 

Other supporting characters I was glad to see in the book includes Annabeth from the original Percy Jackson books, Thalia Grace, Khione, and the ever-energetic Coach Gleeson Hedge. But I think my favorite outside of Hera was Leo’s dragon you see on the front cover of the book, Festus. I absolutely love dragons, and Festus is as good a dragon as any. It’s a happy-go-lucky dragon that really brings life to the book when Jason and his friends go on their initial quest. So when all that is taken into consideration, even if I wasn’t quite so impressed with leads, the supporting cast in this book really helps it a lot.

The quest itself was a lot of fun to read. From Boreas to Midas to the eventual final battle of the book, reading about each encounter and enemy was quite a treat to read, almost as if the book was a perpetual climax after the first fifteen to twenty chapters. I love the way it was all handled and I think it would be more than enough to get me reading The Son of Neptune, even if it did turn out to be a book targeted for middle schoolers. To be fair, since it’s also labeled as a “Young Adult” book as well, I found that I didn’t really mind not being the target audience as it is perfectly suitable for young adults to read as well.

So in the end, I really had to think about how much I really liked the book. I didn’t love it, but I will agree this was a fun book to read and despite its long page span, I found I didn’t mind the 553 pages it took to finish at all. I’m gonna go ahead and give it a 6.5/10, and I will read on to the next book to see how it continues. I hope you all enjoyed the review and I will be seeing you next time.


Goodreads Review is here on this link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2051187579
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