Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Gates by John Connolly

Samuel Johnson, a very interesting 11 year old, was just trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a few days early. What he ends up doing is witnessing his neighbors accidentally opening a portal to Hell. Fortunately it's not a very big portal, unfortunately it's about to be one if the denizens of Satan have their way. So it's up to Samuel, his dog, a few friends, and one very bored demon to stop the end of the world.

Genre: humor; supernatural

Rating: 4.5/5

This book reminded me as nothing so much as a slightly lesser version of Good Omens. It's charmingly funny in its own way as Samuel and various other members of the community deal with the demon invasion happening. We find out that Nurd the Scourge of the Five Deities is a demon with a fondness for fast cars. We find that you can take out a demon (at least a lesser one) with a cricket bat. The one fault I found with the book is that Connolly tries to argue for science, but that intrinsically goes against the fact that all the plot of his book revolves around something supernatural. While he tries to blend them, their arguments of theory versus faith are at odds. To me he can't make the major plot of his book about demons, then try to brush aside religion. To me it's a flaw in logic that kept sticking out.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (19)

Rot & Ruin- In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Blood Red Road- Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother, Lugh, is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives bearing four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on a quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba discovers she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent—and she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Ashes- An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Gardens of the Moon- The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, their lone surviving mage, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand . . .

The Age of Ra- An alternate history of the world where the Egyptian gods have defeated all others and have carved up the planet between themselves. Only a band of Freedom Fighters and their enigmatic leader can free the Earth from their divine tyranny.

The Age of Odin- Gideon Dixon was a good solider but bad at everything else. Now the British Army doesn't want him any more. So when he hears about the Valhalla Project it seems like a dream come true. They're recruiting from service personnel for execellent pay with no questions asked to take part in unspecified combat operations. The last thing Gideon expects is to finding himself fighting alongside the gods of the ancient Norse pantheon. The world is in the grip of one of the worst winters it has ever known, and Ragnarok-the fabled final conflict of the Sagas-is looming.

Best Served Cold- War may be hell, but for Monza Murcatto, a solider of considerable fortune; it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance.

Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

This Dark Endeavor- Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.

They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (18)

Dead Iron -In steam age America, men, monsters, machines, and magic battle for the same scrap of earth and sky. In this chaos, bounty hunter Cedar Hunt rides, cursed by lycanthropy and carrying the guilt of his brother's death. Then he's offered hope that his brother may yet survive. All he has to do is find the Holder: a powerful device created by mad devisers-and now in the hands of an ancient Strange who was banished to walk this Earth.

The Doomsday Vault- In a clockwork Brittania, Alice's prospects are slim. At 21, her age and her unladylike interest in automatons have sealed her fate as an undesirable marriage prospect. But a devastating plague sends Alice off in a direction beyond the pale-towards a clandestine organization, mad inventors, life-altering secrets, and into the arms of an intrepid fiddle-playing airship pilot.

The Iron Duke- After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.
But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

The Heroes- They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbor, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.

Twelve- The voordalak--creature of legend, the tales of which have terrified Russian children for generations. But for Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov--a child of more enlightened times--it is a legend that has long been forgotten. Besides, in the autumn of 1812, he faces a more tangible enemy: the Grande Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte. Unnerved by the fact that so few can accomplish so much, Aleksei remembers those childhood stories of the voordalak. And as he comes to understand the true, horrific nature of these twelve strangers, he wonders at the nightmare they've unleashed in their midst....

Zombies: Encounters With the Hungry Undead- From a master of zombie fiction and a founding father of “splatterpunk” comes a mind-bending anthology of 32 new and classic stories from both renowned writers and rising stars

Classics Mutilated- Monster Lit meets Remix Culture in IDW's all-new, all-original story collection by top talents from horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy scenes. IDW's first foray into genre prose takes the formula of "literary classic/historic figure + supernatural element" and drives a stake through its heart with fourteen brand-new stories, all written specifically for this collection, that transform the so-called Monster Lit movement in ways the mainstream could never imagine.

The Poison Eaters- From the inimitable Holly Black, a collection of twelve fantasy short stories—two of which are unique to this collection. Devoted fans will be delighted to discover that several of the stories use characters and settings from her Modern Faerie Tale novels. Included in the anthology are tales involving faeries, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and all sorts of weird and wonderful and creepy creatures—there’s even a glimpse of a unicorn.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Airhead by Meg Cabot

Emerson is a typical teenage girl who crushes on her best guy friend who doesn't seem to know she's a breathing female and love video games. She has no time for fashion or girly things, which proves to be a problem when a terrible accident ends up with her brain being placed into a teenager super model's body. Now she suddenly has to care about fashion and celebrity and her former best friend doesn't know she still exists. Emerson starts to gain a new respect for how hard being famous is, but she also is baffled by the superficialness of everything she has to do now.

Genre: contemporary; fantasy

Rating: 4/5

I honestly like Meg Cabot. She's a good author and I've never read something from her that I didn't at least enjoy. This round is the same trope of a normal girl being thrown into a fantastic situation that Cabot tends to use a lot, this time with a girl suddenly being a super model. Emerson is a feisty independent girl, so being jammed into a body that is just worshipped basically for being a body is very unsettling for her. She realizes that some parts of fame are very nice and having guys fall all over her is fun, but not being taken seriously and having everyone try to run her life is not. There's also Christopher, the boy she was in love with when she was just Emerson and who has no interest in her new body.

It's a fairly smart book for dealing with a fish out of water scenario. Emerson is believably upset that no one told her she was in a new body and she's slowly starting to appreciate some of Nikki's old friends who are actually nice, if shallow. The most annoying part is the bevy of boys that Emerson now has to choose from, which makes her love for Christopher sometimes seem a little flippant.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gothic! edited by Deborah Noyes

Ten stories from well known authors all in the tradition of dark stories, some with black humor and all with a clinging sense of dust and decay. There are houses with minds of their own, vampires that no one believes are vampires, serial killers who won't stay dead, and witches performing various rites of passage.

Genre: short story; gothic; supernatural

Rating: 4.5/5

An excellent collection of short stories from everyone from Vivian Vande Velde to Neil Gaiman. Gaiman's contribution "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" is particularly good (and actually the most lighthearted of the book). Velde has maybe the most unsettling in "Morgan Roehmar's Boys". Gregory Maguire wins Hardest-Story-to-Figure-Out-What's-Happening-In with "The Prank", but then that's generally my feeling about his writing. On the whole it's a good collection. I only mark it down points for having a predictable entry or two, but it was a very good YA short story collection.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Slayed by Amanda Marrone

Daphne Van Helsing hates her life as a vampire slayer. Her parents won't hear about quiting the life and when she finally finds a nice boy in Tyler Harker, he's off limits because of family history. When strange things go down on their current job, Daphne finds herself saddled with a former child star who really wants to be a vampire hunter and won't take no for an answer. But this particular job has more than normal vampires and Daphne may need all the help she can get.

Genre: supernatural

Rating: 3/5

This book was mainly disappointing because it COULD have been much better. There were some concepts that hadn't been used before, but just like with Marrone's other writing I've read, she spends too much time on unimportant parts and skims over the actual action. We have countless pages of Daphne whining about not getting a prom, but very little of actual vampire slaying. The resolution is so quickly wrapped up, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on.

So what could have possibly been something more fun, ended up being a run of the mill vampire story light on the vampires. Those with short attention spans may like this book as it was one of the fastest reads I've had in forever, but it was nothing special.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

After satellite going out leaving me dangling both with Grimm and not being able to watch Once Upon a Time and Walking Dead (curse you, and it's a Daryl episode...so help you people making me miss my weekly dose of Norman Reedus) I went out and bought some books, or I wouldn't have had anything new this week. So I'll sit here with my books, waiting for iTunes to get the Walking Dead episode up so I can at least watch some Norman on my ipod.


The Replacement- Switched out at birth, Mackie is something not quite human and is slowly being killed by our world. When he befriends a girl whose baby sister goes missing, he descends back into the underworld he came from to find her and possibly save himself.


The Water Wars- With a world where fresh water is quickly becoming non-existant, a boy claims to know a secret about the government and their connection to the water. When he goes missing, a group decides they have to find him as their only hope, if the government doesn't find him first.


Darkness Falling- When the earth becomes blanketed with darkness, a town tries to figure out how to survive, especially when people begin disappearing and some of them come back completely changed.