Monday, January 25, 2016

Monsterland - Michael Phillip Cash

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.  All thoughts about the book are my own.
Title: Monsterland
Author: Michael Phillip Cash
Publisher: Red Feather Publishing
Release Date: October 13, 2015
The premise behind Monsterland is simple: take all the vampires, zombies, and werewolves are placed in Monsterland theme parks around the world (supposedly in the name of keeping them safe.)  The owner, Dr. Vincent Conrad, gives out free tickets to one of the parks to Wyatt - who attends opening night with his friends and his stepdad.  The night takes an interesting turn once everyone is at the park.
It took me about two chapters to really start getting into this book.  It starts out slow, and is pretty steady until the end. There is not a lot of action or adventure throughout the book, and it's not until we get to almost one-third of the way through the book.  While the writing was decent, and the idea for the book was neat, I think the author could have done a better job of putting more action in throughout the novel.  When reading a book, I don't think the reader should have to wait until nearly the end of the novel for anything to happen.
Despite the lack of action, there are some good things about this novel.  The characters are all pretty distinct from each other.  They all have their own personalities and qualities that set them apart from the other characters.  The teen love aspect is cute, and gives the novel something more!  I appreciate seeing the teen love aspect from more a male's perspective since we were watching Wyatt make attempts towards his love interest.
Overall, I would give this book three stars - it's a good story, but just needed a few more arcs throughout to really make it great.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mothstorm - Philip Reeve

As you know, last year I read the book Larklight, by Philip Rothman.  I was absolutely entranced by it, so of course I couldn't resist reading Mothstorm.  Mothstorm is a trip and a half - and just as wonderful as Larklight.  This particular book finds Art trapped on Georgium Sidus - not Uranus, mind you.  He meets a wonderful cast of characters, including Charity Cruet, her dad, and some merpeople, and once again finds himself separated from his "dear" sister Myrtle.

If you love merpeople and action, space pirates, giants moths, people living in underground bubbles, and anything steampunk, this is the book for you.  You will get to see Charity and Art travel through some underground sponges on Georgium Sidus.  You will get to read more entries from Myrtles diary, in which she talks about her adventures with other Snilth's.  You'll get to see Ssil meet her fellow species-members.  All in all, when you read this book, you'll be in for a space trip that you won't forget. 

I loved this book as much as I loved Larklight.  Philip Reeve does a great job of drawing the reader in.  All the characters are well-rounded and distinct from one another.  Unlike other authors of middle grade books, Reeve actually writes well and has a solid story throughout Mothstorm. I was flipping pages to find out what happened next.  I especially liked Charity Cruet, and appreciated how different she was from Myrtle.  Reeve also does a good job of letting the reader figure things out.  He will give the reader just what they need to know to get from point a to point b (and doesn't give away more than he needs to until the time is right.)

This book gets a solid 5 star rating. It's definitely a book that kids AND adults will enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fishing with RayAnne - Ava Finch

I received an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley.  All thoughts and opinions about this book are my own.
Title: Fishing with RayAnne
Author: Ava Finch
Publisher:Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Fishing with RayAnne, by author Ava Finch, is a charming novel that takes place in the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota.  It is about a woman who works for public television, working mostly on a show that is a cross between a fishing show and a talk show.  It has been dubbed a sort of Oprah in a boat type of show.  RayAnne has been the "temporary" host of the show for a while, due to the inability for the show to hold on to a real, long-term host.  Despite the fact that she views it as only temporary, other people seem to love her - and the ratings for the show are up.
After becoming frustrated with her mother, the show, and the rest of her family, RayAnne takes a much needed break to Florida to visit her dear grandmother Dot.  The rest of the book is a ride through tentative relationships and quirky family drama that will leave the reader cheering for RayAnne.
I loved reading this book.  The plot was strong and believable - and was littered with enough humor to make the drama seem not so bad.  I didn't once find myself thinking "Oh, that could never happen."  As a native Minnesotan, I totally got that Minnesota vibe from this book.  I am not a fisher, but I know a lot of people who fish, and I think this book totally nailed their attitudes about fishing to a T. 
The characters in this book were unique and really stood out from each other.  My favorite character was RayAnne's mother, by far.  She was this old quirky hippy, and as much as I loved her, I could see why RayAnne would have wanted a break from her.  Through all the awkward situations RayAnne found herself in (like when "Uncle Roger" tried to convince her to give up public TV and come back to him) I found myself rooting for RayAnne and wanting things to go well for her. 
Overall, this is a five star book - I would heartily recommend it to others! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Winter - Marissa Meyer

Winter,  by Marissa Meyer, is the fourth and final book in The Lunar Chronicles series.  The series started with Cinder, a novel about a young mechanic/cyborg who later discovers that she is, in fact, Princess Selene of Luna.  In the next two books, we meet Scarlet, a farmer's granddaughter living in France, and Cress, a hacker who has been exiled to live her life in a spaceship doing bidding for the queen and her head thamaturge.  Winter brings us to Luna, where the main character is the step-daughter to Queen Levana. 

Winter, the character, is a charming, if quirky, character. She is one of the few lunars who refuses to practice her "gift."  She does not use her glamour and as a result she suffers from Lunar madness.  This has left others to believe that Princess Winter is truly insane. 

At the beginning of the novel, we find Winter, Queen Levana, and a host of other people in the throne room, where a citizen is publicly executed for a "crime" he committed against the crown.  Winter is appalled by this and has a "madness" episode that prompts others to make fun of her for her illness.  It should come as no surprise that the fun at Winters expense is started by her step-mother. 

Throughout the novel, we discover many new things, not the least of which is that Queen Levana wants Winter dead.  Without giving too much away, let me say that this book is magical.  There are people taken prisoner, people escaping, revolts, death, new friendships forged, a wedding (which I still can't believe), love stories, and betrayals.  The stories told throughout this novel weave together seamlessly to create an 800 plus page book that reads like it's much, much shorter.

The plot is well developed and, as with the rest of Marissa Meyer's books, I felt like I was in the story. Even with multiple points of view coming out, the whole book fit together well and I didn't want the story to end.  Each character maintained their unique personalities - it was easy as always to tell each character apart, which is no easy feat considering just how many characters there are in this novel. 

My only complaint about this book is that we didn't get to see as much of Winter as I would have liked.  This is a book I would heartily recommend to anyone who asks - read it now.  Marissa Meyer does her job with this book, and she does it well.  You won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Splintered - A.G. Howard

I picked up the book Splintered, by A.G. Howard, because I thought it looked awesome.  I totally judged this book by the cover.  Then I read the back and fell in love with the description.  Everything about this book seemed awesome.  Then - I hiked myself to the library and checked this book out.  See, it's the first book in a series, and I didn't want to buy it if it turned out to be awful.  Turns out, I made the right decision - because this book was not nearly as good as I thought it was going to be.

Splintered is a sort of retelling of the classic Alice in Wonderland story.  According to this book, Alyssa is the great-great-great granddaughter of Alice Liddell, a woman who actually traveled to Wonderland, then told her story to Lewis Carroll and gave him permission to write about it.  Alice's daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter and so on, all have a touch of madness about them due to being descendants of Alice.  In fact, Alyssa's mom is even in a mental institution (where they do things like carry needles to the patients in their hands and dope them up with drugs sans the patients permission.) 

We meet Alyssa as she is arriving at work.  Later, instead of going straight home, she goes to a skate park where she falls and gets hurt.  Her kind of friend Jeb gives a ride to the mental institution - and later finally learns the truth about what's wrong with Alyssa's mother.  A couple of strange things happen that set off Alyssa's mom and send her into a fit in which she tries to kill Alyssa.  After hearing some strange speak from her mom, Alyssa makes her way to a mirror where she falls into wonderland followed by Jeb - who followed her because he wanted to make sure she was alright.  This leads to Alyssa's own personal journey through a land that everyone else thinks is fake. 

I think that in the hands of a better writer and a better editor, this story could have been great.  As it stands, the characters and the writing are weak, and there are some major mistakes that should have been caught.  For example, spelling errors of very basic words like thief (spelled theif in the book.)  The first thing that caught me really off guard was the fact that Alyssa's mother was in a mental institution.  This is not a valid plot point in any story because people who mental health issues do not go to institutions any more.   They stay in hospitals where trained medical doctors can oversee them and assist them in working towards integrated life with their families.  I also had a major issue with the description of the nurse giving Alyssa's mom a shot.  The nurse picked up the needle and carried it in her hand and behind her back towards Alyssa's mother.  She then injected this shot into Alyssa's mother with know forewarning and without her permission. This would not have been done.  In any normal setting, the nurse would have carried the syringe/needle to Alyssa's mother on a tray.  Also, Alyssa's mother would have been in her room, not out in some courtyard where any person could see what was happening. That raises issues of this place violating a person's right to privacy. 

The story is littered with weak sentences and situations that are thrown in just to move the story along. The characters do not change or grow at all throughout the book, and there are no real revelations in the story.  It was a dismal attempt at recreating a classic story and it did not live up to it's predecessor in the least.  You'd be better off saving your time to read something that's actually well written and well edited.  As for the rest of this series - I won't be following the "real wonderland."