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Stories of Myth and Magic

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Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (Shannara, #1-3)
Terry Brooks


Pines - Blake Crouch Originally posted on my blog:

If you happened to have watched the television show based on this series, you may already know where I’m going with this. When I read the Wayward Pines trilogy, the television show had been teased, but it hadn’t aired yet. I found the idea intriguing, but I was very careful not to spoil the story for myself as I continued reading the first book. I’ll talk a little about the show later on.

And the first book was fascinating. It started off just how you want a good story to start, right in the middle of the “what in the world is going on here?” moments plaguing both the protagonist and the reader simultaneously. Then it pulls you in like a fisherman reeling in his catch.


As the story progresses, you learn things as the main character learns them, at a pace that begins slow enough to keep the suspense going but fast enough to keep the pace moving. The switching view points in the story between Ethan and some other players in the story make things seem far different from what they really are. You think you know what’s going on. You think you’ve got this whole thing figured out. You think you’re way smarter than the main character, Ethan Burke. As a secret service agent, he goes straight into detective mode to try to figure things out, not trusting anyone or anything at first.


The clues lead in one direction, so you might figure some of it out, but how far down the rabbit hole goes is the real twist here. I am unnaturally good as guessing twists, which is why I really like the ones that can trick me. I knew what was happening, so I thought I had figured out the twist. That’s not the full extent of it though. It’s not the “what” but the “why” that truly reels you in. You’d think Ethan would be a little quicker to solve the mystery, but considering how crazy it all is, it’s kind of understandable that the truth takes longer to sink in.


However, once the story moves beyond the twist itself, the plot sort of flatlines. Sure, there are still some moments of high intensity, and some good ones at that, but once the truth is revealed, the full monologue that is given to explain the whole back story left a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. That’s why book one (Pines) gets a 4.25 from me, much higher than the 3.25 (for Wayward) and the 3 stars (for The Last Town) that I gave the other two books in the series. They weren’t bad, and I decided just to ignore the parts the bothered me, but at some points I found myself stopping to complain to my husband about what I had just read. It gets a little ridiculous the further in you go, but it’s not really until book 3 that silliness begins to creep in on a larger scale. It just gets silly. Unbelievable, if you will. Not from a fiction standpoint (I realize this is a made-up story). From a human behavior standpoint. The characters, both good and bad, become merely caricatures that represent no basis in real human actions. And the ending? Seriously?

So let’s talk about that television show, shall we? Yes, it was made into a multi-season show. I have only personally watched season one, which ironically contains what appears to be the whole series. Season two delves into new yet familiar territory and adds in some new elements as far as I know, but season three may or may not come to fruition. I don’t see how it could, based on what I saw. Season one follows the whole of the three books, with several changes made along the way. Some changes were okay, some not so much. It was okay as far as television shows go, considering how much bad t.v. there is out there. But extending it beyond the original story just seems repetitive and pointless to me. Like I said, I haven’t watched season two, and I don’t plan on it. Maybe it is better than I think it will be, but based on reviews and what I’ve read, I highly doubt it. I thought the ending of the book series was questionable. Not as much as the way it was changed for the show at the end of season one. I think I know why it was changed, and it’s a stupid reason that I won’t share since it would spoil the ending. My husband never read the books, but he did watch the show with me. He had a similar reaction to it: it’s okay, with some interesting bits, but the ending could have been better, less predictable and caricaturish (yes, that’s a word I just made up).

The saving grace of the show is the lead actor: Matt Dillon (You can see him on the updated cover above). He is truly a fantastic actor, and I’ve always thought so. But guess what? He’s not in season two. Go figure.

As for the books, the lead up to the big reveal is worth the read. The first two books are enjoyable enough to make them worth your while. Reading book three is up to you, whether you just have to know the ending or if you’d rather make up a different (better) one in your head.

Their Fractured Light: A Starbound Novel

Their Fractured Light: A Starbound Novel - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner I'm going to need a few days to pull back from the emotional roller coaster this book (and series) just put me through. I'm honest but tough with my ratings, and this series (book one was the best!!) is now on my all-time favorites list. Characters that are both realistic and achingly beautiful. I can't explain it. I just felt everything. All of it. Pretty sure that Tarver is a character I will never forget.


Steelheart - Brandon Sanderson Posted on my blog

This series straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy at times, but I would certainly classify it more as science fiction based on the technology aspects (despite some elements of fantasy being involved, such as "superpowers" and some other things that come up later in the series).

Steelheart begins with a traumatic event in the early life of the narrator, continuing into the current state of affairs that involves a world shattered by the darker side of humanity. The main character, David, has a vendetta to pursue, and he will do whatever it takes to get his revenge. But things aren’t as simple as they seem. The entire series revolved around a lot of questions, most notably how and why this happened. What caused the world, and the people in it, to be affected? Why do some have powers and others don’t? Is this a fluke, a science experiment gone wrong, or something else? All of these questions come to a head, particularly in the last book. You won’t be disappointed, and you won’t be able to stop reading.

The characters in this series are just fantastic. The locales and descriptions of settings create an alternate version of our world that seems so incredibly made-up and real at the same time. The action is almost non-stop, and the twists just keep coming. Book one is phenomenal, and the series just keeps getting better. There are three books, plus one novella called Mitosis (Reckoners #1.5) that can be read between books one and two.

If you have ever heard the term “un-put-down-able,” this is it. Guys, you WILL like this one!

End Of Days

End Of Days - Susan Ee Posted from my blog:

Part 3 of my review for Penryn and the End of Days -

(2.75 stars) Something odd happened. I'm pretty sure I know what the cause was, but I could be wrong. Originally, Susan Ee said that this was going to be a five-book series. Five. Not three. Want to know what I think? Well, I'm going to tell you anyways. Subsequent goings-on have made me pause to consider this theory as possibly incorrect, but here it is: I think she was forced to close out the series by her publisher. My reason for thinking this (at the time) was the possibility of her working on a new series that her publisher decided was more important. Things like this happen far more than you probably want to know. However, I haven't seen anything new from the author, so maybe she closed it out early all on her own. I have no idea. All I know is that the story was set up to begin a new phase of the plot, and everything got pushed to the side and just...ended. No fanfare, no meaningful story, nothing. It was very, very disappointing. A new set of characters that appear in this book, characters who should (like Raffe) be older and mature, act unbelievably childish. We're talking twelve-year-old boys here. That is not even an exaggeration. My teenage daughter was cringing at that part as well. Book three left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Am I sorry I read it? The short answer is "no" because the parts I loved, I loved tremendously. I'm happy I read most of it. Some part of me wishes that I hadn't read book three, but the author writes the story. That's the story we have to live with. It still didn't upset me as much as Allegiant (Book three of the Divergent trilogy), but I still feel that this could have been an epic five-part series instead of a pretty good three-parter.

The Atlantis Gene

The Atlantis Gene  - A.G. Riddle Couldn't finish it. Just like the other reviewers state, it reads like a synopsis of a screenplay. I got about 70 percent through after multiple attempts, but there are better books to spend my time on. DNF!

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand What I loved - almost every aspect of the overall message, several of the characters (some less and less as the book went on), and the foresight required for a monumental work with such depth and meaning

What I didn't like - the length...it drags on and on in places (I like long books, but the descriptions were a bit over the top sometimes)

What I hated - the subplot!!! Hated, hated, hated the romance aspect, but not because it was romance. It was so crazy stupid how it played out and how the characters behaved. And what they put up with! And then it got worse. I wanted to scream at the absolute RIDICULOUSNESS as it neared the end.

So, if you can tolerate the not-so-good to find the REALLY REALLY GOOD in this book, I highly recommend it. I sincerely don't want to turn anyone away from the message this story brings. Please read it. But I had be honest and warn that there will be difficult bits.

The Martian

The Martian - Andy Weir 3.5 stars - review to come

The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver What a sadly depressing, but poignant tale...

The last half of the book was absolutely unnecessary and could have been condensed into a few chapters. But the first half is eerily poetic in many, many ways...

Haven: A Stranger Magic

Haven: A Stranger Magic - D.C. Akers I tried to get going with this. I just didn't like it at all. The writing needs work.


Timebound - Rysa Walker This story has depth to it that borders on surreal. First of all, let me warn you: I started the sample and put it aside after a chapter or two for a couple of months. Why? Not that it was bad, but it didn't reach out and grab me. Plus, the beginning comes across like this will be a much more juvenile novel than it really is. Let me explain.

The whole scene at the beginning with the object and grandma at dinner: it seems a bit hokey at first glance. I read and enjoy quite a bit of YA literature, so I didn't think this lightly. However, I did pick it back up and decided to give it a shot, as the overall story sounded intriguing.

And, boy, am I glad I did. That first scene doesn't seem quite so silly looking back, now that I know the backstory and so much more about the characters involved. In fact, that scene now holds a special place in the story for me.

I'll be honest: I have no clue how Rysa Walker handles the storyboard for the meandering plotlines involved in this story (and beyond into the rest of the series so far). I imagine her office to look like the scene in Heroes where all the timelines are strung up across the room. Okay, so bear with me here. It's not a light read. This book makes you think in the sense of forcing you to try to keep track of who is who and which who is which and where and when which who went... and you get the point. Parts can be confusing. But in the most exciting way! I swear you will probably either love or hate this book. But you have to give it a shot beyond a couple of chapters. The time travel mechanism and rules are some of the most well-thought out I've ever seen.

I really, really like the main character, Kate, and that isn't always the case for me with YA books. Kate is... normal. And I mean that in a good way. Yeah, she's a teenager. Yeah, she has flaws and makes mistakes. I want a main character that is human, who makes mistakes, but not every single time. And not because they are truly just annoying and selfish to their very bones. That is not a hero, or even an anti-hero. Anti-heroes are redeemable. Teenagers may be selfish to some degree in general, but they aren't all as bad as some authors would have you believe. That's all I'm saying people. And Kate is a normal girl. Thank you, Rysa Walker.

Nothing else about this book is normal though. The timelines get more complex as the story moves on, and some of it is crushingly sad in my opinion, but overall this is a wonderfully exciting thrill ride of a book...err... series. The second book is out, as well as the prequel. Both of them are awesome as well. This is definitely one of my top three series right now, and I cannot wait for the next book in the CHRONOS files to come out. Congrats to Ms. Walker on a job well done, and good luck to her in future endeavors! I'll be following this series and many more I'm sure.

Read the entire review on my blog:http://wp.me/p3UXmX-1mn


Eleanor - Jason Gurley This book had an odd effect on me, both emotionally and psychologically. I can't explain exactly why I enjoyed it so much, especially considering how strange so many aspects of the story were. If someone were to give me a full synopsis of the book, including all the of major details, I'm pretty sure I would have never picked it up.

But I'm so glad that I did. It's a beautifully written story with a heartbreaking tale of family drama and supernatural events based on a past grief that has ripped them apart. This was an emotional roller coaster of a story, with some of the weirdest paranormal and supernatural elements I have ever come across. You know what? It works. It totally works. I was reminded a bit of Lilith by George MacDonald, not in theme or storyline, but in the storytelling itself. Much of it doesn't make complete sense, but somehow it still works.

Had the author chosen a different style of telling this story, I might have balked at the concepts he touches on, possibly placing it in my "Did Not Finish" pile. I honestly didn't expect to like it as much as I did, and I don't think it would be for everyone. If you have read and appreciate the dark storytelling style of Lilith and enjoy books with magical realism and paranormal elements, you should definitely check it out.

I can't explain it, but I truly enjoyed this book. I'm excited to read more by Mr. Gurley, and I can see how Eleanor became a bestseller on Amazon so quickly, even as a self-published book. Good luck to him!

Monarch (War of the Princes)

Monarch (War of the Princes) - A. R. Ivanovich I will complete a review in due time (I hope)...

Dust (Silo Saga)

Dust (Silo Saga) - Hugh Howey **My review of Dust in particular:

I'm out of words. I cried. I couldn't put it down. And while the ending wasn't ALL I was hoping for, it certainly led in the right direction and left me with a feeling of cathartic euphoria that still pops up to say hello every time I talk about this series. Read it. Start with Wool, then Shift, and finish off with Dust. You just have to experience this to understand.

**My review of the entire Silo saga:

Hugh Howey is my new best friend. Why? Well, certainly not because he write a thoughtful reply to the email I sent him in my out-of-character (for me) fangirl moment a few months ago. No, he didn’t personally respond to the email, but he did have an extremely hilarious auto-response email set up for any and all who would like to shoot him an email (I’m not officially encouraging this, but the automatic reply is pretty darn funny!). No, he is my new best friend because he came into my life as a result of one comment, and nothing has been the same since. Now, he may or may not actually be aware that he is my new best friend (I’m guessing not unless he reads this review), but he has made a huge impact on me as a reader, as a writer, and as a human being.

I took a chance and purchased the Omnibus version of Wool (the first book in the Silo saga) because of a comment in a review for my book. Someone stated that my book reminded them a little (in certain ways) of his book. This got my attention, as I had never heard of it before. Therefore, I bought it and began reading what would become what one might call “my life” for days thereafter. I devoured this story of humanity at a threshold, of human perseverance tested beyond its limits, of the simple act of human kindness in a world where people need it most. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I cried buckets throughout the entire series as I read all three books back-to-back. I haven’t been this excited about a book in years. His story touched me in a way I can’t explain. My husband is currently reading them (he’s reading Shift now, the second book in the saga) because I pestered him to death about reading them. I couldn’t explain why. I just needed to be able to discuss these books with someone I know. I knew he’d be just as captivated as I was, but I dread the moments when he hits a sad part and gives me that look that says, “Why am I reading this, again?” But the highs and lows of Howey’s book are all part of the experience. And it is an experience. Something that seems so insignificant or fleeting will later become the crux for a major plot development. Yeah.

I noticed a little while back that some people had rated it low because they were disappointed in the science fiction label, which they felt was inaccurate. I can understand their frustration because if you are looking for hard sci-fi, this is not it. This is a dystopian world built within a science fiction setting in order to portray a story that transcends all genres (I know I sound like his publicist or something, but I swear I’m merely a lowly fan). I think the reason this upsets people is that the fans of traditional sci-fi are looking for a story built around an intricate science fiction setting as opposed to what Howey offers us: a sci-fi setting built around an intricate story. That isn't to say that science fiction can’t have intricate stories. I love all forms of speculative fiction from fantasy to sci-fi, but you need to come to this book with the understanding that he didn't write a science fiction novel. He wrote a story about people who just happen to live in a dystopian world. The message, as opposed to the world around the characters, is key. As a side note, I've read a little of his more "hard" science fiction (which many seem to like and has won awards), but I wasn't really into it. Another novel of his, Sand, is very similar to the Silo series in style. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to the sequel-in-progress. But I digress.

This book resonated with me so strongly that it has taken me months to write this review. I feel like I can’t do it justice. I tell my friends and family to read it. I can’t say enough good things about the entire series (Wool, Shift, and Dust). I can't really say anything at all without giving away too much. But if you are willing to take a chance here on something new and different, you can find something you love no matter your normal genre of reading. This series isn't for "science fiction" readers; it's for humankind.

I usually try to keep a balanced review and point out something that I felt detracted from the story. But you know what? Any issues I came across must have been trivial because I can’t even remember them.

You can read the entire review at my blog: lisamgreen.com


Haven - A.R. Ivanovich, Michelle Ivanovich Originally posted on my blog:

This series helped to develop my fascination with steampunk. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of it, perhaps just not its (full) execution.

The story starts out with the main character discovering something that is both familiar (in its pattern) and unique (in its details). You know I try to never spoil any books I review, but this one is hard to discuss without doing so a little bit. Her initial journey and quest is intriguing and brings in an entire new setting for the reader to take in.

And then the author got in her own way. She created a protagonist that tends to be rather... well, there were a few times wanted to smack her, and I'm pretty sure that was not the author's intent. She seems fairly mature at the start but quickly shows that she can be impatient (and rather dense at times). She is told many times that another character has to pretend he doesn't know her or they COULD DIE. Pretty serious stuff. But instead of going with it, at least until she's in a position to help him, she gets flustered and annoyed because he won't talk to her. Kinda selfish if you ask me. She can be strong when she wants to be, but I just felt that those moments could have been handled better.

The other main issue may or may not be attributed to the author herself. If an author hires a quality editor, and some issues arise that definitely should have been addressed by the editor, I would blame the editor not the author. As authors, we write. That's what we do. Not every writer is also an editor like I am. And before you think I'm going to gripe over some nit-picky stuff only an editor or English major would notice, hear me out. These books (particularly the first and second) are riddled with blatant errors. The author lists that she had an editor, but I don't think it was a professional. There were missing words, typos, wrong words, and other errors throughout. These are things that an editor is supposed to look for and shouldn't make it into a published draft.

Now, let me put a disclaimer on that by explaining my next point. The books were originally self-published (and no, not all self-published books have errors like that unless the author didn't hire an editor or chose not to use a good one), but they were eventually picked up by a publisher before the release of the final book, I believe. That should tell you that there are some wonderful moments in these books. They have since been released again with all new covers, one with a new title, and slightly modified series name. It is entirely possible (and hopeful) that the publishing company brought in their own editors to look back over the books and fix a lot of these issues. *fingers crossed*

The story started to drop off some in the last book, but the ending is satisfying. Book one, Haven, was interesting in its uniqueness, but I certainly preferred the second one, Paperglass (it was titled Dragoon when I read it), especially the ending chapters of that particular book. There is a character or two that may surprise you. And sadden you. Or both.

So why on Earth am I recommending this series to you. Well, I'll be honest and say that it's not my most glowing recommendation. However, I still think it's a fascinating story with several "wow" moments, and twists and turns that you won't be expecting packed in for good measure. There is one in particular that is a whopper. It seriously made my head spin.

There are some great characters in this series, but I'm not a huge fan of the main character. Some of the others are very well written and developed. This isn't high-brow literary fiction. It's geared toward a young adult audience and has some awesome (though oddly used) steampunk elements. The settings are oddly anachronistic and unexpected (you'll just have to read to see what I mean). If you are up for a light read with some sassy characters, action and adventure, and a healthy dose of political intrigue, then this book may be right up your alley.

Seventh Night

Seventh Night - Iscah I received a copy of this book by contributing to the Kickstarter. I tried. I really did. But I just can't do it. Maybe I'll come back later and try again, but I've only made it about 20 to 30 percent through, and it only seems to be more annoying the harder I try. The writing is extremely amateurish. Sorry.

World After

World After  - Susan Ee Posted from my blog:

Part 2 of my review for Penryn and the End of Days -

Reading book two, World After, was even more enjoyable because of how the first book ended. It left things in a manner that set up one of the sweetest, most awesome reunions I've ever read. Book two takes its time getting to that moment, building up the tension and allowing us to see into more of the dynamics of this universe that Susan Ee has created. Penryn becomes a little more no-nonsense in her personality, with just enough humor to keep things easing along. Relationships between characters really start to develop. So many things could have happened in this book, but didn't. I waited patiently for the third book to be released.