Monthly Archives: August 2015

Archmage by R.A. Salvatore

Archmage by R.A. SalvatoreTitle: Archmage (Homecoming, Book 1)
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Published: September 1, 2015
Pages: 384
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

The story of the returned Companions of the Hall continues in the start of a new series. Having been victorious in the war with the orcs, Bruenor Battlehammer is prepared to lead the dwarves back go Gauntlgrym to reclaim it for their people. But Drizzt and company cannot let their guard down. Even when further victories are in sight, there are forces in the Underdark that are still moving against him…and their plans don’t even seem anywhere close to finished.

I was totally pulled back into this storyline when I read the Companions story during The Sundering, and I have been continuing with the Drizzt books ever since. They are the type of high fantasy that got me reading the genre many years ago, and I enjoy being able to go back to my roots a bit with a fresh perspective.

This was a slow mover. Like really slow. Though that’s been the trend with the past couple of stories here. In part, I think it stands out because it’s in contrast to the books that came right before, which were full of action (interspersed with the various political maneuverings of the drow). But it’s still clear this is moving toward something. And I’m looking forward to whatever epic scene is yet to come.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Transition

Things have been quiet posting-wise as we work on moving the blog to an external host. Most of the pre-work is now done. Posting will resume tomorrow and then the blog will officially move sometime next weekend. There may be some downtime as a result, but we hope it will be minimal at worst.

Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada by Ernest Cline

Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline
Published: July 14, 2015
Pages: 355
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Zack Lightman lives for video games. He plays them and excels at them, and his after school job just happens to be in an arcade and game store. And the game he’s the best at is Armada, a space invader multiplayer flight battle simulation. But maybe there’s a bit more to his talent and obsession than even he realizes on its face. And he quickly learns there is much more to the video game he’s been playing than he could have imagined when he starts seeing the machines from the game in the sky near his school. Thankfully all those hours at his computer have helped prepare him for what’s to come.

If you take Ender’s Game and set it on modern Earth, you’ll get something like Armada. Video games as a training ground for an epic space battle against an alien race? A protagonist who is involved in an altercation that indicates he might have anger issues? Being thrown into battle before one is ready? A leadership that isn’t completely honest about the facts of how things got to where they are? Yeah, it’s all here. It’s not the exact same story, obviously, but it’s clear what inspired this tale very early on and throughout the book.

While it’s likely imperative to make the story work, the ease with which Zack is able to do things and get out of troublesome situations quickly seemed a bit much to me. Even in science fiction, I like to have a fair sense of a realistic basis–I didn’t think we got that as much as we could with this protagonist. That said, it wasn’t too much that I turned me off completely.

Ultimately, this was an entertaining read–and a quick one, too, despite its length. I think fans of science fiction, especially space opera (and extra points for those who enjoyed Ender’s Game, would enjoy this book, as well.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Reckless Hope by J. Leigh Bailey

25548671Title: Reckless Hope (Letting Go, Book 2)
Author: J. Leigh Bailey
Published: August 24, 2015
Pages: 193
Publisher: Carina Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Micah Burke knows all about responsibility. He’s been the head of his family since he was a teenager, and he’s also the guardian for his teenage sister while also caring for their mother, going to college, and working a job. He doesn’t have time for frivolous things–he barely ever has time to go out and have fun. And on one rare occasion when he goes out, he meets Sebastian and loses himself in a moment of what could be, only to be quickly reminded of his responsibilities. Their paths cross again, however, and Micah quickly learns that Sebastian seems like the exact opposite of him: he’s an impulsive risk-taker who seems to just dance through life doing all he can to avoid responsibility.

And Micah may not be wrong. Sebastian comes from a wealthy family and has been largely left to his own devices in recent years. He is a thrill-seeker and might even admit himself that he can be a bit reckless. Although he’s gone from guy to guy, mostly keeping things casual, there’s something about Micah that he just can’t seem to shake. He’s determined to break through Micah’s shell to get to it, and he just might break through a shell of his own at the same time.

If you can’t tell from that little bit of summary, there is some definite angst in this book. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and smooth sailing. But while it will take you up and down as a reader, it’s not all doom and gloom. This is assembled strong characters, a well-developed plot arc, and a compelling narrative–which is something i’ve come to expect from J. Leigh Bailey. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. But you’ll also be inspired.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase

25926238Title: Mad About the Hatter
Author: Dakota Chase
Published: August 20, 2015
Pages: 190
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Henry refused to believe the stories his sister, Alice, would tell about visiting a place called “Wonderland.” After all, there was no way that such a place could exist. Yet, she insisted, and her insistence only served to drive a wedge right through their entire family. But when he finds himself suddenly in an unfamiliar place, he remembers that his sister told him to “find the Hatter.” He’s not sure what it means, and when Hatter arrives he thinks he may just regret asking after him, but it’s all he has to work with.

Hatter–yes, that Hatter–faces certain execution. The Red Queen has made it clear she wants his head to roll, and there seems to be no escape. But when the Queen learns of the presence of “Boy Alice” in Wonderland, Hatter may just have the opportunity to do her a favor and save his head…literally. And why wouldn’t he gladly serve up the cantankerous “Boy Alice” to do just that.

But can Hatter really give someone else up to save himself? And might Henry’s first impressions of the Hatter soften as they journey together through this strange land? Regardless, both Henry and the Hatter are about to learn there is much more to this situation than either of them ever could have imagined.

I absolutely love a well-written retelling of a classic tale. While this isn’t a “retelling” per se, but a reimagining of the world of Wonderland and what happened after Alice left for the last time, it hits all the right points for me. There’s humor, suspense, adventure, romance…and it’s all woven seamlessly together in a truly organic way.

There is a need for high quality LGBT YA, and this book is one that helps fill that need. This is a story that I think is enjoyable for all ages, but it’s one that I particularly think teenagers would find appealing. Dakota Chase demonstrates a creativity and an original voice here that truly stands out. I look forward to more from this author, for sure!

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Diverse Book Tours: Coal by Constance Burris

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25798596Title: Coal (Everleaf Series, Book 1)
Author: Constance Burris
Published: July 1, 2015
Pages: 216
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Plot Summary:
Coal has lived most of his life in the fey realm with his elven best friend, but when a human child he promised to protect unintentionally breaks a law in front of the fey elite, he will have to choose between betraying his best friend or saving the child’s life.

Review:

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author via Diverse Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.]

I do think it’s rare right now to find a young adult fantasy that stands out as unique, with an original story and perspective. Which is why I was excited the entire time I was reading Coal. The world that Constance Burris has created has some originality to it (though we don’t get a heavy dose of backstory, there’s enough to point a picture, and it drew me in), and the characters here are compelling, especially for a young adult novel. Spoiler: Romance doesn’t save the day. Spoiler: Coal isn’t just automatically superior to everything and everyone because he’s the protagonist. Spoiler: Tough choices must be made, and the consequences for those decisions are real. We can’t have everything, and sometimes we just have to understand what we value, do what’s right, and make the right decisions.

Recommended for fans of fantasy and young adult, especially those who are looking for something different than what’s out there…

A Summer Fling by Sarah Madison

18306665Title: A Summer Fling
Author: Sarah Madison
Published: July 27, 2013
Pages: 60
Publisher: Sarah Madison
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Daniel goes through the motions of his summer job at a small resort hotel. It’s not really exciting work, and sometimes the guests require more help than he thinks should be necessary. But when he chases after a slightly awkward guest who he’s certain is going to get himself injured in a surfing accident, he finds that maybe–just maybe–he’s willing to give some guests the attention and help they need. Summer guests are only there for the summer, though, and summer has to end sometime…

This is a quick, quirky, and fun read. Although it’s short, the dynamics here don’t seem rushed at all, and I found myself really connecting to the characters and their story. I found them both very endearing, and absolutely enjoyed my visit into their world.

A Simple Misunderstanding by Derek Adams

24662175Title: A Simple Misunderstanding (For the Very First Time, Book 1)
Author: Derek Adams
Published: February 17, 2015
Pages: 30
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

When Jason made the choice to come out in high school, he knew not everyone would embrace the idea. But he also didn’t expect that Matt, the school’s star athlete, would target him because of it. And when Jason is caught starting at Matt for a little too long in the shower, he can’t help thinking the worst is yet to come…

This is a quick and fun read. You don’t get a great deal of backstory on the characters, but that’s to be expected with the length here. And, honestly, it’s not really needed as the author does a great job of showing the reader the characters in the moment as the events of the story are unfolding. It’s easy to predict where this one is headed from very early on in the story, and that was fine for me as a reader because there was enough in the “how it got there” to keep me interested to the end.

Some Transitions

Within the next few weeks, I’ll be moving the hosting of this blog from WordPress.com to an off-site host using the WordPress.org platform.  There are a number of reasons for this, among them being that my hosting costs for the year are coming due and that there are some features on the .org platform that I would prefer to be able to use.  Considering the hosting isn’t really that much over what my cost to renew on WordPress.com would be for the next year, it makes sense to make the transition now.

This may involve some downtime–some of the details are still being worked out–but I will post an update here once I have the final plan.

Happy reading!

The Pilots of Borealis by David Nabhan

23129991Title: The Pilots of Borealis
Author: David Nabhan
Published: August 11, 2015 (originally published August 1, 2011)
Pages: 238
Publisher: Talos Press
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.]

I struggle a bit in terms of how to describe this book, except to say I’d peg it as a quintessential space opera set in a dystopian future. It’s intriguing and entertaining, and it has enough twists to keep a reader interested all the way through. But I’m settling on a three-star rating because as I sit here now thinking back on it, the story isn’t one that really stands out. It is what it is in the moment, but it doesn’t stay with you like some more profound stories tend to do. And that’s fine; sometimes you want a book just like that, and this is it.