Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review--Wayward (Wayward Pines Bk 2) by Blake Crouch

Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amidst picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden...except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture. None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise. 

Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining.


Okay guys, like I said in my review of book one, there are spoilers here. There is no way to avoid spoilers in a series like this. If you aren't privy to the big reveal then the reviews would be "I like it" or "I didn't like it". The reveal is super-important to being able to discuss the book as a whole. You have been warned. Also I read all three back to back so all of the books have been read by the time of this review.

Ethan Burke is now the sheriff of Wayward Pines. After the death of Sheriff Pope, Ethan finds himself having to dole out lies and punishments like his predecessor. He's not super thrilled with this but he is reunited with his wife and son. There is a distance between Ethan and his family that can be explained by his five year absence in their lives in Wayward Pines and the fact he cheated on his wife years ago with Special Agent Kate. They do, however, try to make the best of it. As Ethan gets an inside look at the facility running the show, he begins to question the decisions Pilcher (the leader) has made in town. At the same time one of Pilcher's agents is brutally murdered and Ethan is tasked with exposing an underground group that is against Pilcher's vision.

A lot of stuff happens in this book just like the last one. Like I said before, these are incredibly fast reads. I read book two and three in one day so trust me, devote the hours up front. You will want to keep reading.

This book deals a lot more with the ramifications of Ethan discovering the big secret. What is it? Well...would you believe it is not 2012 or 2001 or 2005 or 1995? It's actually 4028-ish. See around 2013 or so, David Pilcher put the finishing touches on his big idea. Human DNA was being corrupted and evolving to the point of humanity being wiped out at some point in the future. So being a scientist he decided to freeze 800 or so people plus his minions and wake up 2 millennia later to rebuild humanity.

Still with me?!

So that explains all the time jumps. Everyone is from different times. In fact Ethan vanished in 2012 and Theresa and Ben were abducted in 2013. There was a whole year there where they thought Ethan was dead. Also some people have been out of hibernation longer which explains why Kate is older. It also explains the big rules in town.

(1) Do not try and leave.
(2) Do not discuss the past.
(3) If the phone rings, you must answer it.

So the whole do not leave and do not discuss the past makes sense. If everyone talks about when they were taken, people are going to figure out stuff way sooner than expected. That's not good because the last time the big secret was revealed 50% of the current population offed themselves. So that part is sort of understandable. The first rule deals with what came after humanity dying out. There are these creatures called Abbies out there that look sort of humanoid but are predators. Leaving is sort of a death sentence.

The third rule? Public executions where people dress up in Halloween costumes and murder people!

Okay ignoring all the stuff about Crazy Town, the story itself is fantastic. You get a lot more perspectives in this book as we jump between Ethan, Theresa, Pam, David, etc. We get to understand just how Wayward Pines functions. It's well thought out and just a dream to read.

The conflict was perfect and as always I was reminded of Lost. You have this moment where children are being indoctrinated into this world and told to believe their parents are not really their parents. David Pilcher is God and they need to obey him. You have the adults being lied to constantly. Then you have Ethan who wants to blow the lid off everything. He wants to tell people. He wants to let people know they are basically imprisoned.

At the same time there is this side story (which is supposed to be the main story) where Ethan investigates this chick's murder (Pilcher's daughter). The interesting thing about this story is it really shows how corrupted the town is. The people who are meeting secretly and have removed their chips are actually just meeting to feel freedom. They simply drink and party and talk about their lives like an AA meeting. "Hi my name is Kate and I am from 2012. I love gin and sleeping with Ethan." "Hi Kate." Anyway the corruption is a great plotline.

The story ends at potentially the worst point ever and if I had to wait I would have been berating the author every step of the way. Can you say cliffhanger?

Regardless, why haven't you read this series yet?

3 Stars
Published by Thomas and Mercer
September 17, 2013
322 Pages
Provided by--the Library

Related Books

1. Pines [My Review]
3. The Last Town


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday--Best Books in 2015 So Far


 1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

2. The Liar by Nora Roberts

 3. Memory Man (Amos Decker Bk 1) by David Baldacci

4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


5. Libiomancer (Magic Ex Libris Bk 1) by Jim C. Hines

6. Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz



7. Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick

8. Bad Boyfriend (Bad in Baltimore bk 2) by K.A. Mitchell



9. Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi

10. The Magicians (The Magicians Bk 1) by Lev Grossman

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review--Pines (Wayward Pines bk 1) by Blake Crouch

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.



I'm going to say upfront that I read all three books before posting this review. What does that mean? Spoilers Ahoy! There is no possible way to review all three books without some spoilers being brought up. You have been warned. Seriously the only way to discuss this book fully is to share the BIG reveal that happens later on in the book.

Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines a little worse for wear. He's been sent to the town to locate two missing Secret Service agents and bring them back home. Once there he is in a terrible accident and wakes up in the hospital. As Ethan begins to try and get home he discovers there is more to Wayward Pines then meets the eye. Why does Kate, one of the agents, appear to be years older? Why will no one let him leave? Why are there no crickets in Wayward Pines? How come his phone calls go nowhere? Just what is Wayward Pines?

I actually started this series by reading the first four tv show recaps. I sometimes do this with shows I do not have time to watch live. This determines if I want to watch them at all. Usually a few recaps in  I pull the plug and watch the show instead. In this case I got to the episode that said "THE REVEAL IS NEXT WEEK!" and decided to read the books first. Plus, I've been told the series (season one) can have a definitive ending with the opening for season 2. From what I've gathered all three books are being covered in Season 1. So I decided to read instead.

The thing about these books is that they are incredibly fast reads. Seriously. I sat down and two hours later I was done book one and glancing around trying to figure out where the time went. I could not believe I read through the book that fast. Now I'm a fast reader but we're talking 300ish pages in average size font. I did not expect to get through it that fast. So if you have an afternoon, pick up book one.

The thing about this story is we're supposed to relate to Ethan. The thing is Ethan, as a character means so little in book one. Basically we see ourselves in his place. We wake up with him and go through the weirdness of Wayward Pines together. We only get his perspective except for a brief window in Theresa's perspective (Ethan's wife). In essence we're the main character. Pretty quickly we're guessing and thinking Ethan should get the heck out of dodge. Clearly this town is insane.

Examples of Wayward Pines=Crazy Town

(1) Ethan has been drugged...repeatedly.
(2) Ethan has been told he's crazy and is being THREATENED WITH SURGERY!
(3) There are no crickets in Wayward Pines but there are speaker boxes in the bushes that make cricket sounds.
(4) The people are chipped.
(5) Everyone is way too happy.
(6) Kate is older.
(7) The phones do not work and no one will produce any evidence to support Ethan's arrival.
(8) The phones ring and the town kills people!!!

Seriously. Did you see that last one? Well that's a doozy.

Ethan ends up meeting this girl named Beverly who no one will vouch exists. She tells him about the crickets. She saves him from crazy surgery. She tells him about the chips. Oh and it's not 2012 for her. It's 2001-ish. So there's that.

Have you guessed what happened yet?

No. Well it's coming. I won't reveal the major spoiler in this review only to say I saw it coming and was bummed when I was right. I really thought the book would throw a curveball and really surprise. It didn't. In fact it continued on much like I expected.

Seriously though the suspense/thriller aspect was amazing. I highly recommend this. Also the television show is airing and it caught up to roughly the beginning of book 2. There have been some reveals that happened later in book 2 but in general...it's pretty close.


3 Stars
Published by Thomas and Mercer
August 21, 2012
305 Pages
Provided by--the Library

Related Books

2. Wayward
3. The Last Town


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review--Daddy Knows Best by Normandie Alleman

Career woman Tabitha is less than excited when her boyfriend, Neal, insists that she take a break from her high-stress job in Chicago and move with him to Little Haven. Despite her initial disdain for the town, Tabitha eventually begins to find a place for herself in her new community, and Neal’s increasing dominance in the bedroom leaves her longing for more. But she’s been keeping an important secret from him about her job back in the city. When he discovers the truth, will it tear them apart or will Neal be able to forgive his little girl?








Okay let me just start by saying this is not my typical read. In fact this is my first read in this category and wow did it sort of slip in there.

Tabitha is apparently a career woman but when she has health problems, her boyfriend Neal whisks her off to a small town that looks favorably on the Daddy-daughter romance. Basically she calls him Daddy and he treats her like a child. Tabitha wants to go back to Chicago but when Daddy gives her an ultimatum "Go and lose him or stay and be with him", she has to decide what to do.

Can I just say how I respect people's kinks. If they want to play these games in the privacy of their own homes then fine. Frankly as long as it doesn't invade my life, I care very little what happens at home (as long as it is consensual). I can get behind the whole D/s thing because I can understand the desire to give up control. I'll talk more about this in a minute.

Basically I was utterly disgusted by the whole thing. It had nothing to do with kink but the stuff outside of the bedroom that bothered me. Apparently these "career women" go to Daycare and play on the playground and do little girl things. Look I can understand people wanting to take a break and have childish fun but this was every single day. The girls were supposed to walk around in pigtails and act like they were five. Oh but have sex. Yep...totally normal.

On top of that apparently Tabitha is supposed to just fall in line. She can't actually express her opinions without being labelled "bratty". She can't have her own wants because then she's being "selfish". She can't decide how to handle her own health because...well I'm not sure why.

At first I thought the story would be a lot like D/s books where at home the two played and then went on about their day. Nope I got to feel like I should be calling protective services for the whole book. It was creepy to see grown women act like they are five 24/7 and be totally cool with pretending to be the daughters of these grown men. In fact the whole Daddy/daughter thing was so much creepier on the daughter side then on the Daddy side. Neal basically acted like a Dom. He called her "princess". That was the extent of his actions. It was Tabitha and the girls' demeanor that irritated me. It was weird and sort of degrading to women. If Tabitha wanted to act like this within her home and with Neal then fine but for goodness sake she is a grown woman not a five year old in public!

The thing about D/s vs. this seems to be in the respect, self-confidence, and communication areas. In D/s relationships the D/s talk constantly. They communicate desires, needs, wants, feelings, constantly. They have to because of the amount of trust that has to happen. Those women have careers or are stay-at-homes (whichever) but they feel happy, confident, and satisfied. Not once in this book did I feel like Tabitha was happy. In the Daddy/daughter relationship (at least in the book), the daughter comes off more as a bratty servant. She's supposed to cook and clean and fall in line. She has to move when Daddy wants her to. She has to give up her job if Daddy wants her to. She finally expresses how miserable she is and it becomes how she didn't try hard enough and she's being bratty. Bullshit. She said "I'm unhappy". Listen to her for five seconds without imagining her running around a daycare and making PB& Js!

I just...I just don't know what to do with this. It bothered me to no end but I know a lot of people like these stories. I say read what you want but I won't be reading any more books in this sub-category. It made me feel squicky.

1 Star
Published by Stormy Night Publications
June 16, 2015
95 Pages
Provided by--NetGalley


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Stacking the Shelves--June 27/Weekly Wrap-Up



Review


1. Daddy Knows Best by Normandie Alleman








Library

 1. InuYasha Volume 1-10 by Rumiko Takahashi

2. Death of a Pirate King (Adrien English Bk 4) by Josh Lanyon

3. Rat Queens Volume 1, Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
4. Rat Queens Volume 2, The Tentacles of N'Rygoth by Kuris J. Wiebe






Purchased

1. We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy by Caseen Gaines [7.99]








Won


1. The Devil Wears Spurs (Texas Kings Bk 1) by Soraya Lane

2. Half the World (Scattered Sea Bk 2) by Joe Abercrombie

3. Half a War (Shattered Sea Bk 3) by Joe Abercrombie


Weekly Wrap-Up

Reviews

1. The Magicians (The Magicians Bk 1) by Lev Grossman [4 Stars]
2. Bone, Volume 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith [3 Stars]
3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik [4 Stars]

Memes

1. Top Ten Tuesday--Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List

Books Read

1. Daddy Knows Best by Normandie Alleman
2. Wayward (Wayward Pines Bk 2) by Blake Crouch
3. The Last Town (Wayward Pines Bk 3) by Blake Crouch
4. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Bosch
5. Inu-Yasha Volume 1 by Rumiko Takahashi

Currently Reading


Friday, June 26, 2015

Review--Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. 

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. 

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. 

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.



I've been looking for some new authors and genres to read so I stumbled upon this book which was a "Library Reads" pick for May or June (can't remember). Regardless it was a fantasy book which is something I totally would have picked up when I was younger.

Agnieszka lives in the valley by the Wood. The Wood is a great evil that kidnaps local people and spreads evil throughout the land. To keep the Wood at bay, the local Wizard "The Dragon" comes and takes one girl from the village for ten years. No one knows what happens to her although the girls claim he never takes advantage of them. When they return ten years later they usually leave the village and never return. On the day of the choosing Agnieszka expects to say goodbye to her best friend Kasia, but he doesn't. Agnieszka is swept away to the castle herself and there finds out not only about herself and the Dragon, but also how deep the evil of the Wood goes.

I really, really loved this book. I read it over two days and I hated having to put it down for any reason. The world was really well-crafted and the characters were amazing. Agnieszka was particularly relatable because she was thrust into this world of magic and reacted semi-normally. She found things odd and irritating. She fought with the Dragon constantly. She burned food and dropped things. She struggled to complete her duties. She called the Dragon out on his abducting girls. She fought hard for her friends. When she learned about her own magic, she dove in to learn the most she could. She was a girl who was not going to sit back and watch the world change around her.

The story itself was classic fantasy. Good vs. Evil. There was an insidious evil in the countryside (the Wood) and it crept into everything. Quickly it became clear how the Wood served as a bit of a metaphor where evil would take root in something or someone and grow until it had overtaken the person. The only way to stop it was to rip the evil out by its roots and cast it out of the world. That, of course, was not all that easy.

The story was a little slow-going and I struggled in places to stay interested. I knew it would pick up again but there were moments where I felt myself skimming. Mostly it was because the author didn't seem to know what to do between action scenes. We basically followed Agnieszka through her daily life which was interesting the first time and then it fell apart.

A great part about the story was the ability to see the characters interact in different places. Agnieszka and the Dragon did not remain in the Tower for the whole book. They went to the village, into the Wood, to the capital, etc. They moved around the world and we, as readers, got to experience more of the excellent world-building.

If I had to wage one complaint then it would certainly be over Agnieszka's immediate acceptance and aptitude for magic. It was kind of overwhelming to me, as a reader, to believe she just became good at it. She had spent years being a normal kid and then all of a sudden she's casting really complex spells that no one has done since some Super-Hero witch from years ago. It's just a little too coincidental for me.

Otherwise it was a fantastic read and I highly recommend it. It is totally worth the time to sit down and immerse yourself in this world.

4.5 Stars
Published by Del Ray
May 19, 2015
438 Pages
Provided by--the Library

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review--Bone, Volume 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith

After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert. 

One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures... 

Humor, mystery, and adventure are spun together in this action-packed, side-splitting saga. Everyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone.






I've been looking for some new things to read and review and remembered my love for comics and graphic novels. I decided to start reading and reviewing some older, completed stories that I have never read. First up is "Bone" by Jeff Smith which covers 9 volumes. I have the Complete Version personally but each volume will be reviewed separately.

In "Bone", we are introduced to Phoney, Fone, and Smiley Bone who are cousins fleeing Boneville. Apparently Phoney has been a part of some shady business in the past and they've been run out of there. As they try to figure out where to go next the three are attacked by a group of locusts and separated. The first volume mostly follows Fone Bone as he heads into the Forest and meets some new friends. Ted, the Bug, directs him to Thorn, a girl, for help. Winter hits the valley fast and Fone needs friends. Upon meeting Thorn he is absolutely besotted and stays with her through the winter.  He also finds himself under the protection of the Red Dragon who most do not believe exists. The dragon tends to pop up in times of need and retreat after the rescue. Finally as the winter snows thaw, Fone runs into Phoney and the two make plans to track down Smiley. Of course, Phoney is up to his old tricks and goes looking for trouble first. The two eventually rendezvous with Smiley but now have to deal with a hooded figure and the rat creatures who are after Phoney for reasons unknown.

I started "Amulet" a few months ago and quickly ran through all of the available issues. I really wanted a light, fluffy story to take its place. Now I'm not sure where "Bone" is going but it is pretty innocent so far. It is even shelved in the Kid's section in the library. So I figured, how bad could it be?

Well honestly it's a bit boring. I know don't attack me! I kind of feel like I'm watching a cartoon that never gets to the part where Bugs Bunny messes with Elmer Fudd. It's very slow-paced. By the time I got done volume 1, only one thing of importance really happened. That was the attack waged by the Hooded One and the Rat Creatures. They want Phoney but it's all very cagey. In the end we learned virtually nothing about motives and we got to see the three cousins reunited. Yay?

I have to say the story is okay at best. I'm not itching to read volume 2 but I will anyway. Everyone keeps raving about the series and it has won all kinds of awards. I figure there must be something amazing inside.


3 Stars
Published by Scholastic Inc.
February 1, 2005
138 Pages
Provided by: the Library