**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares - A Second Look

I'm the second Tynga's Reviewer to read The Here and Now by Ann Brashares.  For Helen's take on the novel, click here!

The Here and Now takes place in our current time, but the main character, Prenna, is from the future... about 75 years into the future.  She's part of a small group of "immigrants" who have traveled from the future to the here and now because things have gone sharply south- there's a blood plague that's killing millions of people and a shortage of food and runaway inflation of currency.  In order to save her new future she must work to save her current time.

I really enjoy books that involve time travel, like Helen, but sometimes they can get so bogged down in trying to explain the time-space continuum that the plot gets buried.  Not so in The Here and Now!  Ann Brashares does an excellent job of working little bits of information into the plot and dialogue to explain the time-space continuum play without ever having a character awkwardly explaining it all to another, or any lengthy flashbacks.  Even better- it was all understandable!  I'm definitely not a physicist, and I had no trouble following the logic explaining Prenna and her community's presence in our time.

Another great aspect of this book is the character line-up.  They're all great!  Well, I mean, all the good guys are good!  (The bad guys are written well, too.  They're not over-the-top goofily evil.)  I love Prenna and her strength and intelligence, and I love Ethan for his quirkiness and kindness and intelligence.  I love them together, too!  They "fit" together so well.  I agree with Helen's description:  they're "cute."

The writing in The Here and Now is also pretty good.  The pacing was great- I had trouble putting it down, but I was never so tense that I felt anxious.  There are also some letters interspersed in between chapters from Prenna to another character.  (Can't tell you who!  No spoilers.)  I like it when an author mixes things up like that.  Unfortunately, a few plot points weren't really fully explained, and a few other plot points got wrapped up a little bit too tidily.

Overall, a really solid time-travel YA light romance.  I could definitely see myself recommending this one to library patrons.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Icon (The Persona Sequence Book 2) by Genevieve Valentine

This is the second book in this series.  In my review, I may reveal plot points or other items of significant meaning in the plot of the first book.  Those things also known as spoilers.  If you have not started but may have the desire to read this series, don't read this review just yet.  Check out Persona by Genevieve Valentine and then come back and finish this review.

Icon by Genevieve Valentine is story filled with action and political intrigue.  This is the second book in the Persona Sequence.  Set in a dystopian society where the Cult of Personality reigns supreme this series is a study in what it would be like if 'reality TV' where to get too close to politics.  Not as though that could ever happen.

The main character, Suyana Sapaki, gains quite a bit of notoriety, not to mention political clout, from surviving an assassination attempt.  She accomplished that with the assistance of a reporter. The  connection between the two seems to be a bit incomplete, at least as far as one party is concerned.

With this book, I accidentally broke one of my cardinal rules: Never start in the middle of a series especially when it there is plot that lasts through the whole series.  This books makes it particularly difficult  to do this since it rarely treads over old territory from the first book.  This makes tracking the progression of the main characters tricky.  It also hinders the significance of new characters.

The description of the setting was a little less than I would like.  Not only does it breathe a little life into the story but, it can also give a bit of context to those who haven't read the first book or even those who did but need little reminders of some aspects.

Icon by Genevieve Valentine is a very unique vision of political science fiction that could open up this sub-genre of story telling.  It is a more mature read.


Roberts Signature


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Forevermore by Kristen Callihan - Release day blitz!


Isolated and alone, Sin Evernight is one of the most powerful supernatural creatures in heaven and on earth. As an angel of vengeance, he hunts down the darkest evil, but when his long-lost friend, Layla Starling, needs him, he vows to become her protector. Even though she will be horrified by the man he has become.

Now a famous singer and the toast of London, Layla believes that Sin is only here to guard her from rabid fans and ardent suitors. However, the truth is far more sinister. Desperate to avoid losing Layla a second time, Sin will face a test of all his powers to defeat an unstoppable foe - and win an eternity with the woman he loves.

The final installment in the Darkest London series is finally here and I don't know if I should be happy I finally got to read it, or sad because it's now over! I'm a huge fan of the series, and I was lucky enough to read Forevermore already, and let me tell you, you wont be disappointed! Kristen really has a talent to articulate her characters and push them on the right path. This couple is no exception and I loved their blooming relationship, but we also discovered and spiderweb of links between the multiple characters that I never suspected! It was such a great read!

To convince you, here's an excerpt!

One might think being an immortal was a blessing, never grow old, never grow sick, never die. At one time in St. John Evernight’s life, he considered it a blessing too. He would be around long after the simple humans who surrounded him were nothing but dust. They could stare all they liked at his “strange” hair and frosty green eyes. They could gossip and speculate about him until they lost their voices. It didn’t matter. He was untouchable, and they were but fragile sacks of blood and bone.

How naive he’d been. Because living forever merely meant a lack of escape from the desolation of regret and loneliness. He knew now that he could walk down Jermyn Street endlessly, see the sands of time shift and rearrange before him, and never be a part of life.
“Brooding, Mr. Evernight?”
Sin almost jumped at the sudden sound of Augustus’s voice by his side. Damn, the blasted man loved to startle him. He gave Augustus a passing glance. Dressed in conservative brown tweed and a bowler hat, the angel appeared every inch the English gentlemen, save for his dark coloring that marked him to be from Southern climes.
“It’s really quite the trick, popping up like a soap bubble whenever you choose, Augustus. You must teach me how one day.”
The man’s mouth twitched. “With your luck, you’d pop up in the middle of a parliamentary session.”
Yes, Sin had abominable luck. Or perhaps it was more a matter of making abominable choices.
“You’re brooding again,” Augustus remarked.
“I’m not brooding. This is simply my face.”
Augustus snorted but remained silent as they walked along, past Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall.
“Care to tell me why you called me here?” Sin asked, when they came upon the grounds of Westminster. For the past year, Sin had been in Rome, soaking in the warmer temperatures, drinking espresso in cafes along the Piazza della Rotunda, under the shade of the ancient Pantheon. He’d eaten simple but delicious food, and listened to the rapid fire of Italian, and felt…well, not peace, but a measure of contentment.

Until Augustus had sent for him. Returning to England sat like a stone in his gut. But he would obey. Augustus was his mentor, and the man who’d given him salvation. The price was a lifetime of servitude. To be fair, his role was for justice, not evil, which was a nice change of pace.

A massive dray rattled past, kicking up dust and sending a fug of stale manure into the air. They hurried past the cloud and headed for Westminster Abbey. Sin hadn’t planned on visiting today, but here they were all the same. He wondered if Augustus somehow had led him to their usual meeting place or if Sin had merely headed that way because of the man’s sudden arrival.
He’d like to think the latter. It did not sit well with him having another control his actions. Not since a certain evil fae had kept Sin as a blood slave for years. Even now, the memory made his stomach turn.

Not a soul acknowledged them as they walked through the abbey and into the cloisters. Here, a rare bit of sunlight peeked through the constant cloud cover and cast lacy shadows along the walkway. The sound of their boot heels clacked out a steady rhythm as they strolled along.
“Layla returns to London tonight.”

At the mention of her name, Sin’s heart stilled within his breast. He’d tried his best to ward off all finer feelings, to remain numb, detached from life. And yet he could not, for the life of him, remain immune to Layla Starling. His childhood friend. The one woman who could take his breath, his reason, simply by laying eyes upon her.
Stuffing his shaking hands into his trouser pockets, Sin forced himself to keep an even tone. “So then I am to begin watching over her?”

God, but he did not want to. It would be agony, staying so close to her and never being allowed to show his true feelings. And yet a thrum of anticipation went through him at the mere prospect of seeing Layla once more.

“Are you ready?” Augustus asked, though his expression told Sin he fully expected an affirmative answer.
So Sin told him the only truth left to him. “I will not fail her.”


Convinced yet? Here is your chance to win 1 of 10 copies, thanks to Hachette!


Happy Reading!


Monday, June 27, 2016

Hunted by Evangeline Anderson

I'm quite obsessed with this series. Honestly, it isn't great literary fiction but it is fun and entertaining to read when you're looking for a good romance book. Sci-fi romance is a guilty pleasure of mine and this second book of the series definitely delivers.

This book tell the story of Sophia and Sylvan. In this alternate reality, Earth is threatened by the Scourge, and evil alien race. Enter the Kindred, a warrior alien race that have sworn to protect Earth's inhabitants. On one condition: the Kindred females are very rare and so, the Kindred warriors need human brides in order to guarantee the survival of their race. This genetic exchange is mandatory for all unmated human females. For some, it's a dream come true. For Sophia, it's a nightmare.

Sophia has been scared to get close to anyone ever since she was attacked on her prom night. That horrible ordeal has followed her through adulthood, along with her fear of needles and pointy things. The worse possible thing for her would be to be claimed by a Blood Kindred. She probably wouldn't mind the Beast Kindred or the Twin Kindred, but luck has her being attracked to Sylvan, a Blood Kindred. A vampire-like sub-bread of the Kindred, Sylvan feels the urge to bite and bond Sophia to him forever. However, he knows Sophia is very afraid of him and his fangs so their relationship is a complicated one. Even more, Sophia is being hunted by the Scourge for some bizarre reason and Sylvan has sworn to protect her personally. That keeps them in close proximity for flames to burn and attraction to deepen. But still, they fight the bond between themselves, Sophia out of fear, and Sylvan out of honour.

Sylvan is your typical Alpha male hero and you couldn't ask for a better leading man. As for Sophia, she really got under my skin. Quite frankly, she's pathetic. Her fears are founded, but quite honestly, by now you would think she would have out-grown and tried to get over them. In my opinion, she's too weak, too sensitive and too tortured to be considered a good heroine.

This book is quite erotic at times but also has a good storyline. We're almost guaranteed a happily-ever-after but bumps along the way makes you doubt a good ending. If you can get over the tortured and teary-eyed heroine, this is a fantastic sci-fi romance. It has action, and evil antagonist and steamy love scenes. Great for the guilty pleasure shelf, however, not so great for feminism.

stephsig moon

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


Happy Saturday everybody!!!  This has been a hectic week for me.  With that and some reading obligations that have clogged up my reading queue. I have manage to pick up a small cache of stories for myself.

STS Jun 16

I have been a long time fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and I'm so looking forward to getting into these two books.  They may not be new but, they are new to me.  As for Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper, I don't have the highest hopes for that one.

Now the big delivery this week came in the form of three badges to San Diego Comic-Con International 2016!


What bits of excitement have you had delivered?

Roberts Signature

Monday, June 20, 2016

Half Lost by Sally Green

So many feelings now that I've completed this series. Half Bad began this whole crazy adventure, Half Wild delved even deeper into the characters' motivations, and now Half Lost brings this epic story to a close. I applaud the author for staying away from the typical YA stories throughout the whole series. While the idea of witches has obviously been used in YA books countless times, Sally Green's approach was very original and highly entertaining.

This book couldn't have been published at a better time. I'm really glad to have read this book during Pride Month. LGBTQ characters are getting more and more common in books these days, and the acceptance of these characters by major publishers (in YA no less!) is definitely overdue. It's time to accept diversity in books. With the recent events in Orlando, it feels even more appropriate to discuss it now. The main character, Nathan, definitely had issues about acknowledging his romantic feelings for his best friend Gabriel, but ultimately he came to realize that love is love. Gabriel was never shy about his feelings. For Nathan, even though it took a while to realize, I don't think it was so much about loving someone of the same sex, but more about loving someone after being betrayed by another lover. Especially in times of war.

Nathan and company have amassed quite a bit of followers and fighters to wage war against the corrupted Council of White Withes in England. Together, the Alliance is stronger than ever. They're learning to bide their time and wait for the most opportune time to attack. There's a lot of preparation and planning in this book, which slowed down the pace of the story quite a bit. However, I found it helped to better understand the characters, their motivations and their relationships. There are so many sides to Nathan and the title of the book is so fitting. He has felt lost throughout the series, but it's especially true at the beginning and the end of this book. One of the major themes of this book may have been self-discovery, but it's definitely about loss too.

Although the ending wasn't quite what I expected, I think the author went in the right direction. I like that it's not your typical 'happily ever after'. Life doesn't always end up the way you planned it, but I definitely didn't see this coming. I personally think Nathan's story ended perfectly. His story wasn't just about fighting, good vs evil, and war. It was also about endurance, love and acceptance. This book may have lacked a little bit in plot development but it definitely made up with an epic final battle scene and heartbreaking end. I may have cried during the last few chapters, but this gut-wrenching conclusion will be one I remember for a long time.

stephsig moon

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Stacking The Shelves [214]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


I'm adding a few books to my shelves this week, a couple YA books and one sci-fi romance.

On another note, I wanted to share with everyone that I officially became a roller derby girl a few weeks ago! I've always wanted to try the sport and I finally passed fresh meat (the training sessions you need to pass in order to play). I'm super excited to play. My first scrimmage is next week and I know it's going to be great! Wish me luck!

sts june 18


My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Hunted by Evangeline Anderson (ebook)


Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Thanks for stoping by!

stephsig moon

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily is a more grown-up, darker re-telling of the Peter Pan story.  Tinker Bell is the narrator, and the book begins slightly prior to the traditional Peter Pan story.  It is so neat to get to see more about Tiger Lily and her family, and to learn the origin of the lost boys and Captain Hook and why no one ages in Neverland.

Yes!  You learn about the aging-not-aging thing in Tiger Lily!  You'll have to read the book to find out how it works.  ;)

Tiger Lily is told from Tink's point of view, but it mostly follows Tiger Lily, so that's interesting.  Tiger Lily is 15 and coming of age in her tribe over the course of the book.  We learn that she is an orphan who was adopted by the tribe's shaman, Tik Tok.  This book has really got something for everyone: Tik Tok is a cross-dressing single guy.  That puts a unique spin on the family and tribal relationships that are explored.  Tiger Lily has a fierce love for Tik Tok, who is a sort of outsider in the tribe.  His hut is farthest on the edge of the village, and as shaman he has power but no close friends.  Tiger Lily is also quite a loner, with only two acquaintances.  It's almost painful at some points to read her interactions with these two- the reader sees both how cold Tiger Lily can be in her reactions and conversations, and how hard Pine Sap and Moon Eye try to draw her in.

There is also a political relationship between the tribe and the Lost Boys- they agreed years and years ago to keep to their own areas.  No one from the tribe enters their part of the forest, and the Lost Boys never come near the village.  That is, until the day that Tiger Lily wanders across the boundary.  (This is one of the bigger deviations from the Disney version of events, wherein Peter is friends with the Indian chief.)  The main plot of the book follows Tiger Lily and Peter's love story.  This was also something that I was conflicted about.  Peter has been in Neverland as long as he can remember; unlike the other Lost Boys, he doesn't remember a time when he was ever in England.  He doesn't remember arriving on the island.  He's also perpetually stuck at 15.... yet for all his years of living, he's still incredibly naive and immature.  Tiger Lily is too, but with her it makes sense:  she's 15, and has only been 15 for a matter of months.  You would think (I thought) that Peter's many years of living would give him much more wisdom than is portrayed.  Some of the Lost Boys came across as having more common sense than their leader!  In fact, Peter came across as more immature than 15 even, at times.  This made it hard to root for him and Tiger Lily.  Between Tiger Lily's ice queen stoicism and Peter's immaturity, sometime I was left wondering if they really even liked each other very much.

Their love story played out very realistically.... for what it is.  I mean, there's the whole island-outside-of-time-and-space aspect, of course, and mermaids.  But other than how that affects their maturity and relationships (the mermaids are on Peter's side), the two fall in love just as awkwardly (and sometimes adorably) as any other teens.  The pressures from family and friends affect them in just the same way.  And they react to outside cultural events just like other teens.  That's what I mean when I say that the relationship plays out "realistically."  :)  The plot also progresses at a good speed- there's a nice steady cadence to it, and the ending isn't rushed.  Despite my occasional misgivings about Tiger Lily and Peter's budding romance, I found that I couldn't put the book down- I had to know how it turned out for them!  I think I could say that it's Peter Pan on the rocks with a twist of Romeo and Juliet.  If you're even the slightest Peter Pan fan you'll want to read this book!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

How should and intelligent race from another world reach out to the entirety  of this world? Approach the world leaders at the UN, land in the middle of the White House lawn?  The  Yherajk are a bit more savvy and came up with a better plan.....hire a Hollywood agent.

Most of this story takes place in and around Los Angeles so, which is just the right backdrop for a tale centered around the entertainment industry.  Even though the book is not abundant with detailed description, the scenery that is there is sufficient to convey the look and feel of story.  This is one of those stories where less is often more.

Agent to the Stars is one of those books where the plot development goes almost hand in hand with the growth of its characters.  We get to see how Thomas Stein, ambitious young Hollywood agent, transitions from up and comer to  somebody noted for something more than his ability to sell the abilities of his clients to TV and movie producers.  Thomas introduces us to some more varied and equally interesting characters.  Everything from aged agents to spoiled performers to ...well.... aliens from another planet.  There are two typical ways to show character development: show or tell.  John Scalzi  opts for a much lesser used method that I won't go into (spoilers).  Suffice it to say, this method also allows the story to move forward.

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi is an entertaining and amusing read.  This is by no means classic literature but, it is a very fun story.  One that I suspect would make a good movie.  There is very little violence but there is some language here and there as well as frank discussions of human sexuality.  For those reasons I would give this a PG13 rating.

Roberts Signature

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Hunt by Megan Shepherd

What a thrilling ride! I really enjoyed the first book of the series, but personally, I think this sequel is even better. I was in the mood for a good sci-fi novel and this book definitely delivered. It's entertaining, fast paced and intelligent.

After failing to escape The Cage in book one, Cora and her friends are scattered throughout a space station, where they're being held as prisoners. Mali, Lucky and Cora are prisoners of The Hunt, a safari and bar where some of the Kindred come to be entertained, while Rolf and expectant mother Nok are playing house while being scientifically scrutinized as part of an alien study. Leon could be considered the lucky one, still prisoner of the space station, but free to roam the ducts and working as a black market agent for Bonebreak, a Mosca. This unlikely band of humans was originally placed together in a cage, but now, despite being separated, they still form a strong bond. I think it shows the importance of solidarity and of human connection when it comes to surviving.

Despite the story being told from multiple views, Cora remains the main character, like she was in the first book. She's being trained by Cassian, a Kindred, in order to enter The Gauntlet, a series of tests that allow subjects to prove their race's intelligence. So far, there are only four intelligent species: Kindred, Mosca, Axion and Gatherers. Cassian, and a few other Kindreds, strongly believe in the Fifth of Five initiative; they strongly believe humans are the fifth intelligent race and he has made it his duty to help Cora pass the Gauntlet. If she succeeds, only then will humans be set free and no longer be slaves. In order to survive the Gauntlet, Cora must train her telekinesis abilities, but with such little time to get ready, she believes the only way to pass is by cheating.

The relationship between Cora and Cassian is a very interesting one. The Kindred are known to be a very cold race, rarely showing emotions, even when "uncloaked." Cassian has studied Cora for a while now, both on Earth and in the cage and it seems like he has developed some strong feelings for his research subject. Originally, Cora and Lucky were abducted as a mating pair, but a strong bond has formed between the alien and Cora. Some people might scream Stockholm syndrome, but I really believe there's something more to it. Cora seems to be using Cassian's feelings to take advantage of the situation, and even now, I have no clue what her true feelings are for her "captor." She probably has no clue how she feels either.

Lucky's story is a sad one. He truly believes he has a duty to protect and save the animals of the safari. He sees them as prisoners too, caged like he and his friends. They're all being used for entertainment or for research, and as fellow beings of Earth, he forms a strong bond with the animals under his care. While Cora might be the leader and the heart of the group, Lucky is the moral one. I wish Cora and Lucky could have discussed and planned more together, to avoid all the trouble they seem to be accumulating.

Ultimately, The Hunt, like The Cage, is a game of survival and human perseverance. The flow of the story is great, the characters are wonderful and I really like the direction the story is heading. I strongly recommend this book to any lover of YA science fiction books. I will definitely be looking out for book 3 next year!

stephsig moon

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Stacking The Shelves [213]

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!


 Happy Saturday!!  June... summer is here in full force!  Where I live, the temperatures are going into triple digits this weekend.  WHOA.  Being a library worker, I'd like to take a moment for a shameless plug for all your local libraries:  go check out their summer reading programs!  Many have gotten pretty easy, with online tracking of reading, and really fun, with activities counting toward your prize goals.  My little one is only seven weeks, but we've been going to Baby Storytimes at the local library!  I'm currently reading both Storm Warning by Billy Graham (overdue from the library) and Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (a book I've owned for three years but never read)... and I still keep picking up new books!  No matter how far "behind" I get on my to-read stack, I just can't seem to resist!  How about you?  What have you brought home lately?  What are you reading now?  Click on the link below to join the fun!  But first, here's what I've been bringing home...

Little Paris Bookshop Nina GeorgeComplete and Authoritative Guide Caring for Your Baby and Young Child Birth to Age 5 Steven Shelov Tanya Remer Altmann

I got two new, finished-copy books this week, and both for free!  The publisher sent me The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George in exchange for my fair and honest review (which I'll post on my other blog in the future) and The Complete and Authoritative Guide: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child Birth to Age 5 by Steven P. Shelov and Tanya Remer Altmann.  That one is HUGE!  Over 900 pages... I could use it as a doorstop if I decide it's too big (intimidating) to read!  lol

Nursing Mother's Companion Kathleen HugginsSigning Their Lives Away Denise KiernanNight Circus Erin MorgensternGolden Spruce Vaillant

And of course I've continued to collect library books (even while I have one overdue currently)!  The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins was recommended to me by my cousin/lactation consultant.  I know nothing about it, but she said it'd be a good reference to have on hand.  Then my aunt recommended Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D'Agnese (probably because I majored in Revolutionary American History in college), The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (I know- totally shameful that I haven't read this yet- I only hear good things about it), and The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant (I know nothing about this one, but I totally trust my aunt's recommendations- they've always been great).

And to conclude this post... a pic of the little one at his first Storytime!  He was totally into it.  :)

Baby Storytime

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The First Lie (A Selkie Moon Mystery) by Virginia King

The First Lie by Virginia King is a mystery unlike most others.  This is not your typical cop, PI or Wannabe PI jaunt through a bunch of clues foisted at them.  Yet, it is a mystery in the truest since.

You can't beat the setting.  Set in the beautiful and entrancing islands of Hawaii, there was plenty of rich imagery as well as history and mythology to dig into.  The historical and visual are used a bit more sparingly than I would have preferred.  There are a great many scenes that could have taken place in Kansas City and it would have fit.  I always like when an author can use the scenery to amplify mood or provide a bit of foreshadowing or even act as  a red herring.  While the author did not take advantage of these things, there was sufficient imagery to keep the story alive.  That is likely due to the story itself.  There is just enough uniqueness to keep interest up.  I was drawn in enough to keep me in the story but, it could have given a lot more.

We get to learn more about the main character, Selkie Moon, by way of her own narrative.  First person has always been my favorite point of view.  It makes it a bit difficult for the author to get all the information to the reader but, in that difficulty we get to feel the struggle of the main character.  That is one of the saving graces to this story.  We learn as Selkie does about herself, her friends as well as about the mysteries that surround her.

The First Lie by Virginia King has the potential to be the first of a series of intriguing mysteries based on supernatural subjects.  I really hope the rest of the books pick up on this and add a bit of local style and historical and mythological richness to take us even deeper into these stories.  There is a bit of language and frank (though not overly crude) discussions of sex and sexuality. For those reasons, I would give these a modest PG13 rating.

Roberts Signature

Monday, June 06, 2016

Dissolution by Lee S. Hawke

DISSOLUTION was an interesting dystopian novella that had great authentic ideas but lacked in detail and execution. I really liked the idea of corporations owning its employees and seeing them as assets to be traded and sold. However, the world building felt incomplete and the characters underdeveloped.

Madeline has waited her whole life for her Auctioning. After 18 years of waiting, after countless hours of training, she's ready for the next step in her life. In her city of Unilox, five corporations exist: ANRON, MERCE, HARLIN, PERCO, and DRAYTH. As an asset of ANRON, the pharmaceutical company, she hopes to be sold to MERCE where she'll be free to "build and fix things." One of the major problems with the novella is that we don't really know what these corporations do. The author doesn't really go into much detail about the individual companies but has a strong disliking for some. I don't know if the lack of information was done purposely, but either way, it leaves the reader confused.

The story spans only a couple of days and it's interesting to see Madeline go from an elite asset, to a hunted fugitive and then on to a merciless negotiator. I love Madeline's strength and devotion to her parents and boyfriend, but her motivations seem to lack foundation. Her relationship with her parents seems cold and the details about her relationship with her boyfriend Jake is sketchy. The fact that she has to pay to spend time with him is just bizarre, which kind of makes him seem like a escort. As an asset of ANRON, she learns, on what should have been her auctioning day, that she will never be able to be sold and will always remain the property of ANRON. As an experiment of the medical company, she's worth too much to be auctioned, but we never really learn what makes her so special. She seems to have incredible healing abilities and stamina, but the author never goes into details about what makes her so incredible, why she was never told and the details of her origin.

I love the way the author shows us how corporations are considered legal entities yet are uncaring and cold. I guess when you're looking for the ultimate antagonist, corporations are probably one of the best and strongest candidates. They have many of the rights humans have yet are very hard to hurt or kill. When it comes to facing off against ANRON, it's difficult to see how Madeline will succeed.

When it comes to description, it was hard to follow the details of the action. I think the author was trying to be too visual, and failed to give us the necessary information to follow the story. However, some of the descriptions were on par, for example, the use of implants to stay connected to society and the scene which I will simply call the river scene because I want to avoid spoilers.

Overall, the author had great ideas but as a whole, the story lacked information and detail. The characters were underdeveloped, the action was hard to follow, and the world needed more building. Personally, I believed this story would have more potential as a detailed novel, instead of a novella.

stephsig moon

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char was not what I expected, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I picked it up because of the word "library" in the title.  Yup... I'm a sucker like that.

Turns out the "library" at Mount Char is NOT your typical library and it's inhabited by folks who are NOT your typical librarians.  Carolyn and her adopted siblings live in the library with a man they call Father and they spend their days studying thousands of tomes that collectively contain all the knowledge of the universe.  Plus some.  Their knowledge extends into the very, very distant past and into the future.  It includes how to practice medicine, and how to heal completely (even from death).  It includes all the languages of the earth, past and present, and also the languages of the animals.  The catch is that no one person gets to know it all.  They each have their own "catalog" to study.  Carolyn, the main character, studies languages.

This is how it's been for decades.  Then one day the siblings find themselves barred from the library, and Father missing.  Is he within the library, which the librarians can't reach?  Or is he dead?  Carolyn, the only sibling left who still speaks enough English to get along in the outside world, starts formulating a plan to get back into the library and find out what happened to Father.  To do this she'll play on all of her siblings' strengths.  So right off the bat there's a lot of magic/fantasy elements:  there's this force field going on that's preventing the librarians from getting near the library, a force field that only affects some people and affects everyone in different ways.  Also, who is this Father guy?  Is he God?  The back-of-the-book synopsis kind of led me to think so, but you'll have to make up your own mind after you read the book.  He's definitely not the same God that Christians know, but is he a god?  Perhaps.

So that's the plot, much boiled down.  There's so much more going on.  I think The Library at Mount Char could have been twice as long, and I'd probably still want more info!  No big plot points are left unanswered, but there are enough characters and enough back story to leave the reader wanting more.  For example, there are two people mentioned throughout the book, Nobununga and Mithrangani, who are never explained.  Who are they and why do all the librarians fear them?  Where did they come from and why did they show up?  I also wanted to know a lot more about the library and how it was set up and what all the librarians studied.  The Library at Mount Char is written from Carolyn's point of view; I would totally read a companion book from Michael's or Jennifer's points of view.  (They're other librarians.)

The book's blurbs are right:  this is definitely an "unputdownable" page-turner.  Each page reveals another bizarre twist or wacky character.  You won't be able to put it down until you know what on earth is going on.  Just as you think you're starting to figure out a character, everything gets turned on it's head!  Occasionally I'd have to go back and re-read a paragraph to make sure my eyes didn't deceive me.  Like when Daniel is first described... did I really read that a 6'+ guy was running around in a purple tutu?  Yup.  And that was one of the least bizarre reveals.  I can't think of any other examples that wouldn't give away big plot points.  Carolyn herself is described as wearing a Christmas sweater with bike shorts and galoshes.  (Normal clothing choices are not, apparently, part of any of their courses of study...)

And last but not least: the writing style.  Most excellent!  Scott Hawkins has a way with words.  I can't put my finger on any concrete examples, but there were definitely passages that felt very Stephen King-esque.

Everything in the book is building toward a HUGE battle for control of the universe, and you won't want to miss finding out about the plans and the battle itself and the aftermath!


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Adventures of Tom Stranger: Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia

"Never judge a book by its cover" is an old saying that just does not apply to this book.  The Adventures of Tom Stranger: Interdimensional by Larry Correia is exactly what you would expect from the look of the cover.  the cover has an old time comic book look and feel to the artwork and that is not where it stops.

As the title suggests, this book has an interdimensional  setting.  It makes for great potential of interesting locations.  In this case it was potential squandered due to mediocre descriptions.  Everything we're given is very generic and lacking in detail.  Some authors can do a great deal with very few words.  Larry Correia does not have that magic touch at this point in his career.

Ordinarily, I like to wax poetic about characters and character development.  For this book, that would be a colossal waste of time.  In this day of graphic novels, having a novel that captures that old time comic book feel but does not take a moment to try and make a connection between reader and character is a real tragedy.  The book has many of the same archetypes we hope to see in a story in these type settings.

This is an audio book that is free until June 21, 2016.  The performance on this book goes along with the theme of the book and is often way over the top.   Adam Baldwin is the voice talent.  He has done some much better work in both movies and TV but, like I said before it actually fits with what the author seems to be going for.

This is a book for a certain audience.  For those in that audience, I sincerely hope you enjoy this story.  This one just is not my cup of tea.  There is a decent bit of violence and some of the humor is mature so it's pretty much a rated PG13 in my estimation.


Roberts Signature