Thursday, June 30, 2016

ARC Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria #1)Title: The Waking Fire
Author: Anthony Ryan 
Publisher/Publication Date: Ace; July 5, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from the veins of captive or hunted Reds, Green, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that give fearsome powers to the rare men and women who have the ability harness them—known as the blood-blessed. But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate's last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered blood-blessed, who finds himself pressed into service by the protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted territories in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin, facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an ironship, whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world. As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake...

My Thoughts:

After a string of bad fantasy books this year, I had very high hopes that The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan would be a turning point. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing inherently bad about The Waking Fire. The first chapters of this book were just alright. They were a little slow, but after that, the story found its pace and evened out as the main conflict of the novel took shape. At that point, it was easier to get into the story, and I ended up enjoying the overall plot (plus the dragons). So, in this case, I’m glad that I stuck with it.

The Waking Fire was about Drakes and their blood. However, with every limited resources the well was bound to start drying up, and The Waking Fire begins at this point—where the potency of the Drake blood has significantly reduced over time, while the use of it by the blood-blessed still increased. The Waking Fire was very much a story about the solution to the problem and the troubles that plagued that goal.

The system of magic was setup in an interesting way, with the blood-blessed being so dependent on the drakes. Their abilities weren’t limitless, and I did like how Ryan set the limitations and used them consistently throughout the novel. There was also no shortage of action interwoven with the more informative chapters, but at some parts the story slowed to a crawl. It did pick back up again, so, that wasn’t too bad to get through. Plus, there wasn't a lack of dragons (drakes). They popped up in the novel from beginning to end, and were 
probably one of the most present parts of the story.

There were a lot of characters, but the primary cast was given their own perspectives. So it was easy to tell who took center stage, and who was a secondary character. They all came from different backgrounds with their own pasts, worries, and abilities. Cladydon Torcreek’s story wasn’t bad, and I liked it as much as I did Lizanne Lethridge’s individual plot—mainly because how the two perspectives ended up connecting. Corrick Hilmore’s side of things was also pretty interesting—plus, the majority of his perspective was set on a ship at sea.

I could tell that The Waking Fire was the opening to a series. The ending was relatively open. It answered few questions and ultimately introduced others. The Waking Fire served its purpose by establishing the story, the rules of the abilities and society, and introduced the key players. The groundworks have been laid, and I’m interested in seeing where it leads. Overall: not a bad beginning.

Rating 4/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you! 

About the Author...

Anthony Ryan was born in Scotland in 1970 but spent much of his adult life living and working in London. After a long career in the British Civil Service he took up writing full time after the success of his first novel Blood Song, Book One of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. He has a degree in history, and his interests include art, science and the unending quest for the perfect pint of real ale...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review: I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

I Almost Forgot About YouTitle: I Almost Forgot About You 
Author: Terry McMillan
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown; June 7, 2016
Genre: Womens Fiction; Chick Lit; Fiction
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale is back with the inspiring story of a woman who shakes things up in her life to find greater meaning...

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young's wonderful life--great friends, family, and successful career--aren't enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, quitting her job as an optometrist, and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Like Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, I Almost Forgot About You will show legions of readers what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to life, love, and the possibility of a new direction...

My Thoughts:

This book was about love, life, careers, and relationships. It was also about overcoming fear of change.

I Almost Forgot About You is the first book I’ve read by Terry McMillan, and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. I really enjoyed this book, and how McMillan handled themes such as love, loss, failed relationships, and attempts to reinvent oneself later in life. It was truly a joy getting to read Dr. Georgia Young’s story.

I Almost Forgot About You is basically about Georgia as she examines her life and past relationships. She feels stuck in her life, and bored by the career she’s occupied for years. After certain events, Georgia is shocked enough to take a trip down memory lane, and comes up with an ambitious plan to change her life. Really, it all worked in the end, which was great since I was really excited to read this book.

McMillan does a fantastic job handing the subject and themes of this book. Her writing had an easy flow to it, and it was hard to put down. I almost read the book in one day, but had to take a break to work on some other things. Suffice to say, I came back to the book. It had many contemporary themes, and the story was extremely interesting to me. Honestly, through all of the ups and downs, I wanted to see what the end of the book had in store for Georgia, her family, and her friends.

It's also an emotional journey as the characters each moved through their respective lives, and came to terms with unexpected changes. The friendships were also great, and it was nice to see how big of a role Georgia’s friends played in her life. One of my favorite characters was definitely Georgia’s mom. She was fantastic! She was so optimistic and really lived life to the fullest—she was, in short, a fabulous character. If she had her own book, I would probably read it.

I could really go on all day about all the things I liked about this book, but I’ve got to end this review sometime today. So, the ending was a satisfying conclusion to the story, and I was more than happy with it. Needless to say, I Almost Forgot About You is definitely one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2016.

Rating 4.5/5

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the Author...

Terry McMillan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Waiting to Exhale, A Day Late and a Dollar Short, and The Interruption of Everything and the editor of Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams

Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitchhiker's Guide, #3)Title: Life, the Universe and Everything
Author: Douglas Adams
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey Books, April 30, 2002 (First published in 1982)
Genre: Science Fiction
Source/Format: Purchased, Paperback Omnibus Edition

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads–so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation. They are Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered space and time traveler who tries to learn how to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing; Ford Prefect, his best friend, who decides to go insane to see if he likes it; Slartibartfast, the indomitable vice president of the Campaign for Real Time, who travels in a ship powered by irrational behavior; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-president of the galazy; and Trillian, the sexy space cadet who is torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox. How will it all end? Will it end? Only this stalwart crew knows as they try to avert “universal” Armageddon and save life as we know it–and don’t know it!

My Thoughts:

I’m steadily working my way through the omnibus edition of this series, and so far, I really like it. Adam Douglas’ style is interesting—classic science fiction elements mixed with humor and outrageous methods of going about life in the universe.

Life, the Universe and Everything picks up where The Restaurant at the End of the Universe left off. Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are still living under the forced confines of their latest predicament. But they, of course, manage to get out of it in the most hilarious and random way possible. From there, the story delves into new issues that involved messing around with time—and the potential consequences—the impending destruction of the entire universe and the usual variety of problems that always seem to plague Arthur.

Life, the Universe and Everything was a fantastic book, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The settings were fantastic as always and fit perfectly with the world already established by the previous books. All the old characters were back. Many of them dealing with the events that happened in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in their own ways. But trouble was afoot, and it was interesting to see how the characters dealt with it. A lot of unexpected things happened in this book, which made it interesting.

I will read on, because I’m curious to know what the next books have in-store for Arthur Dent, Trillion, Ford Prefect, Marvin, and Zaphod Beeblebox.
Rating 5/5

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ARC Review: Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter

Break in Case of Emergency: A novelTitle: Break in Case of Emergency: A novel 
Author: Jessica Winter
Publisher/Publication Date: Knopf, July 12, 2016 
Genre: Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Fiction
Source/Format: Publisher (First to Read), eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An irreverent and deeply moving comedy about friendship, fertility, and fighting for one’s sanity in a toxic workplace...

Jen has reached her early thirties and has all but abandoned a once-promising painting career when, spurred by the 2008 economic crisis, she takes a poorly defined job at a feminist nonprofit. The foundation’s ostensible aim is to empower women, but staffers spend all their time devising acronyms for imaginary programs, ruthlessly undermining one another, and stroking the ego of their boss, the larger-than-life celebrity philanthropist Leora Infinitas. Jen’s complicity in this passive-aggressive hellscape only intensifies her feelings of inferiority compared to her two best friends—one a wealthy attorney with a picture-perfect family, the other a passionately committed artist—and so does Jen’s apparent inability to have a baby, a source of existential panic that begins to affect her marriage and her already precarious status at the office. As Break in Case of Emergency unfolds, a fateful art exhibition, a surreal boondoggle adventure in Belize, and a devastating personal loss conspire to force Jen to reckon with some hard truths about herself and the people she loves most...

My Thoughts:

With this one, I had an interesting reading experience. Sometimes I was a little bored, at other times I was entertained by the antics of the characters, and the sheer ridiculous things that went on and were said. There were also moments that were serious and dealt with issues that directly concerned the characters. And, yeah, I had a few slight laughs, but even still, Break in Case of Emergency was an average read for me.

The book was basically about Jen who had reached a rocky point in her life and struggled with attempts to have a baby, job loss, and new employment—all while trying to navigate life at its best and worst. Along for the ride are Jen’s friends—Pam and Meg—and coworkers at a foundation supposedly meant to encourage/help woman.

Some of it was genuinely humorous, but at some points I felt like the book was trying too hard to be funny and didn’t really achieve the kind of effect it could have had. So, forced humor aside, there were parts that I really enjoyed. The story itself wasn’t actually bad, and the exploration of the various relationships and changes in Jen’s life were actually the highlights of Break in Case of Emergency. The relationships felt almost real and absolutely normal in a refreshing kind of way with believable ups and downs.

The foundation that Jen ended up working for was a source of occasional humor, but it was a toxic work environment. Really, the relationships are what kept me reading despite everything else, because I was curious to see where each character ended up by the end. The ending itself was alright, but I was already expecting it just based off everything I’d read up until that point.

So, Break in Case of Emergency wasn’t bad. And while it did fall short in some aspects, the family and friendship dynamics were great. So, this book had its highpoints, and I’ll give it that.

Rating 3/5

This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (First to Read) for this review, thank you!
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