28 October 2011

Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective wall. To the south, the King's powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King's new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself. A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens.

Where is the love?

We get the romance novels that are so over-the-top and unrealistic, with the swooning and ridiculous mouth-watering... And then we get the epic fantasy novels with no love at all.

Game of Thrones has a lot going on, and there's definitely political intrigue. We are drowning in political intrigue. It is interesting, sure, but only to a point. But there's a strong unbelievability to the story with the lack of love between characters. This really makes the novel less enjoyable because the characters come across as weak. There is something huge that's missing and, in the end, it makes them less real. (Also: Sex =/= Love.)

Adding to this is the lack of difference in character voice. True, the characters do have some distinct differences in their beliefs and... hobbies... but I don't get a sense that they're entirely different people. The character names as chapter titles was off-putting to start, but I can see the necessity. There would be awkward transition into the chapter as we try to identify the Point of View.

Two main characters have a lot more going for them, and I wish they would have had a lot more page-time. Arya Stark and Jon Snow (the bastard) are by far the strongest and most interesting characters in the series. Arya is curious, smart, and always up to some sort of fun. Jon (he's a bastard, by the way) is our key into the Night's Watch and the Wall. We are told Eddard is honourable, sure, but with the bastard son, Jon, we really see it in his character.

Sansa and Bran, on the other side of things, come across as the weakest - Sansa because she is a brainless parrot and Bran, no fault of his own, is not too good for much... yet. (Optimism?) He is always so sad, though, and to be totally honest - he's just not very interesting.

It's obvious but.. this is a long book, at 835 pages. It feels like a long book. It's long-winded and the author often takes us in circles with ideas and thoughts. Usually, this occurs right in the middle of some action - a fight scene, a chase, or a Grand Escape. The character starts reflecting, thinking about other things, their past, or admiring the scenery. This is not the time for that - it's awkward and really brings me out of the story that was hard enough to get "into" in the first place.

Worse, when certain chapters do start to get really interesting, especially the ones with Arya, it will end. Abruptly. And we'll get to spend some time in Sansa's head. That's not so much fun. Is this supposed to create tension? Suspense? Intrigue? Some other vaguely descriptive word? Whatever it is supposed to do, it's not working for me. As I near the end of the novel I skim more and more, picking out the more interesting points and trying to convince myself that finishing this book is not a complete waste of my time.

I started reading Game of Thrones in early July, after watching the series. The show, while amazing and beautiful, left much back-story to be desired and I wanted to fill in those gaps. Since I had just finished watching the series it was difficult to get into the novel. Plus, I kept picturing certain characters the way they were portrayed in the show, rather than how they were described in the book.

I lost interest in the book for some time, though that likely had more to do with how busy I was with work and how little time remained for reading. It was easier to get into the story later on, but it still wavered considerably in holding my interest. I finished it because it was the only book I brought with me to work in October. If I hadn't, I'd probably still have it sitting on my shelf waiting to be finished.

Jon is a Bastard.
George R.R. Martin will remind you of this every few pages that Jon, Eddard's bastard, is mentioned.
We should make a game of this.

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25 October 2011

The Unwritten Vol.1

The Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus IdentityThe Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Collecting issues 1-5. Tom Taylor's life was screwed from go. His father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. The problem is Dad modeled the fictional epic so closely to Tom's real life that fans are constantly comparing him to his counterpart, turning him into the lamest variety of Z-level celebrity. In the final novel, it's even implied that the fictional Tommy will crossover into the real world, giving delusional fans more excuses to harass Tom.

When an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that's secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world, eventually finding himself at locations all featured on a very special map -- one kept by the deadly group that charts places throughout world history where fictions have impacted and tangibly shaped reality, those stories ranging from famous literary works to folktales to pop culture. And in the process of figuring out what it all means, Tom will find himself having to figure out a huge conspiracy mystery that spans the entirety of the history of fiction.

This will be the second time I have read the book, simply because I discovered there are more books in the series and picked up the next two. When I read it the first time, I had no idea it was a series - I just happened to be in a comic book store while waiting for my train, and could not leave without at least purchasing something.

We meet Tom (or Tommy) Taylor, the son of a writer who has vanished and who is named after the main character within those books. He is unhappy with his life as he follows in both his fathers' fame, and that of a fictional character. Later it is discovered he may not be who he claims, and we find out there is a lot more going on in the background than originally thought.

It's an interesting story told in a different way, and embraces both the comic form as well as prose. It is very easy to follow, and there is much to "take in". The backgrounds are well done, and there's often something to see in them - like an inappropriately-name-movie poster, to name one. There's a lot going on here, and I'll definitely be checking out the next volumes.

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22 October 2011

First Grave on the Right

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

The most noticeable thing when starting this book was the style of writing for the way the main character, Charley Davidson, speaks. The story is presented in first person and the way she talks is very... distinct. It's as if the character is trying to present herself as bold and witty, but doesn't always succeed. Sometimes it's funny, very funny, and others I find myself just shaking my head at the attempt. It's just too much of that, and not enough plot progression.

Around the half-way point for the book, I got really, really tired of Charley's attitude. She would say something that sounded (almost) sincere, in her narration, and then end it with "Not". That, to me, is very childlike behavior. I was under the impression she was in her late twenties, as a P.I., and out of college. Charley acts far younger than her age and experiences suggest, and this makes it difficult to relate to her.

Sadly, I was skimming through much of the novel - especially the chapters that contained nothing but dialogue. Charley and her best friend, Cookie, sit in a room as Charley relays memories of her own childhood. The action we get are Cookie's widening eyes, tense posture, or slight movements as she tries to feed herself. (But is just too enthralled by Charley's story!) Yes, the information is important.. but sharing it this way is incredibly boring.

Charley also lacks any real emotions and appears to be is a constant state of lusting, snarky, sarcastic, or pissed off. She is constantly getting beat up between her moments of (unreasonable and unexplained)  rudeness to other certain characters. There is a huge lack in personality in all other characters, as well - we are not given much at all in regards of who they are and what motivates their world. This is why I say Charley has unreasonable reactions - she is rude and nasty to Swopes, a coworker, and we are given nothing to back it up. Who is he? Why does Charley hate him?

And then we have Reyes, the Love Interest. Apparently, he's Hot. And our Charley is totally in lust with him because he is Hot and Mysterious. Most chapters deal with her feelings for him, which are always the same. Something about weak knees, swirls in her abdomen, and an intense heat. In the end, he's a Mysterious character with Mysterious motives and is surrounded in Mystery. It's very repetitive.

First Grave on the Right is still an "alright" read. It's simple, it's quick, and there was enough to keep me reading - if only to just figure out where it's all leading. However, unless the second book is a major improvement over the first, I highly doubt I would want to read it. It is definitely a taste I have not acquired.

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19 October 2011

Geist by Philippa Ballantine

Geist (Book of the Order, #1)Geist by Philippa Ballantine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off the malevolent haunting of the geists...

Among the most powerful of the Order is Sorcha, now thrust into partnership with the novice Deacon, Merrick Chambers. They have been dispatched to the isolated village of Ulrich to aide the Priory with a surge of violent geist activity. With them is Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne that Sorcha is sworn to protect, and bearer of a terrible curse.

But what greets them in the strange settlement is something far more predatory and more horrifying than any mere haunting. And as she uncovers a tradition of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history, Sorcha will be forced to reconsider everything she thinks she knows.

And if she makes it out of Ulrich alive, what in Hell is she returning to?

It's refreshing to find a book that is truly driven by the characters. There is a real sense of who they are, what their goals are, and what drives them to do what they do. Plus, they're all interesting and strong characters that have a sense of morals and values that are portrayed in their speech and way of thinking without being stated outright. (And repeatedly. Over and over.. I have pet peeves. I know.)

Part of what I enjoyed most, and what really made the difference, is the characters are not children or young teenagers. They're all in their 20's or early 30's so their all well past the (annoying) angst-sodden period in their lives that I have read far too much about recently. (Why do so many authors go that route? But that's a rant for another time...) So, it's about time I come across something wonderful.

That's not to say Geist is perfect, though. I found, especially at the beginning, that it was difficult to get a sense of the world and what it looked like. The author really didn't focus on the look or feel of the city and it wasn't for many chapters that I really got a grasp on what the world was like. I hadn't read any descriptions of the novel before reading - aside from 'fantasy romance' I really didn't know what I was getting into. Urban fantasy, high fantasy or awesome fantasy? It really wasn't obvious from the outset.

Romance is hinted at throughout the first half of the novel and, given the set-up of the magic, it gives a sense of how the romance between characters will come about. There are some twists, which are not entirely unexpected, but it entwines nicely within the story and never seems odd or out of place. It works, and really pushes how the character-focused Geist is.

Honestly, Geist doesn't have a whole lot going against it. The characters are strong, the world is.. immense, and the potential it builds for the series is promising on many fronts. Altogether Philippa Ballantine gives us one really good book. If any of her other works are anything like this, I want to read them now.

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18 October 2011

CONTEST: Susan Bischoff's Talent Chronicles

Now, this is just cool.

Susan Bischoff is the author of the Talent Chronicles, which consists of three books. Well, rumour is that Bischoff  is running a contest on her blog for her next book in the series, Heroes Under Siege. (You should really check it out!) If you do nothing else... send an email to the address shown on the image and get that free copy of Hush Money.

I reviewed the book not too long ago and will tell you now that it is absolutely worth the read. It's a mix of romance, urban fantasy and a whole lot of action. And, after you check out the book, the contest is there for those who are up for a bit of something interesting. And the chance to be named in the next book. I am totally not being a geek about this.

17 October 2011

School Hotel

School Hotel (series 1 - 2)School Hotel by Satoshi Morie

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Apparently, the School Hotel is a place where the people who can’t show their true self at school can be themselves. The story begins when Tenno Toriko, an intelligent doormat at the High School, is invited to the School Hotel.

Seriously, walk all over her. She doesn't mind at all. Until she changes her clothes and does a complete 180 personality change and starts screaming at her new-found peers. And then decides she likes being her true-self more than hiding. Within the same chapter.

Maybe I was expecting something akin to Ouran High School Host Club when I started reading. I really don't know. It wasn't... this. I don't even know what this is.

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15 October 2011

A Bride's Story, Volume #1

A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 (A Bride's Story, #1)A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Amira is twenty years old when she marries her husband, a boy named Karluk from a neighboring village. Adjusting to life in a new household can be trying for any young bride, but Amira's husband is eight years her junior! Amira was a strong, sophisticated hunter and horsewoman in her village, but though their villages were next to each other, their customs are very different. As Amira introduces Karluk to the foods and pastimes that were popular among her comrades back home, the warmth she feels for her young husband grows

I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this series - the title would normally be enough to drive me away completely, but the cover is just so beautiful that I had to, in the very least, open the book.

It did not take me long to finish the volume, either. The romance is very light and believable for the setting, and it seemed to take a back-seat as the story was unfolding. It's more about the world, the culture, and the people than about the romance between the new bride and her (very young) husband.

The artwork is, well.. it's amazing. It's complex and beautiful, and works perfectly with a story such as this. The expressions, too, were done very well and honestly, I spent most of my time admiring both that and the backgrounds.

Later on in the series there is a slight divergence from the main story line, and I stopped reading about the same time. It's a beautiful work with an interesting world, but the type of slow-paced stories like this are not really to my liking.

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13 October 2011

Wil Wheaton is Just a Geek

Just a GeekJust a Geek by Wil Wheaton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Wil Wheaton has never been one to take the conventional path to success. Despite early stardom through his childhood role in the motion picture "Stand By Me", and growing up on television as Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Wil left Hollywood in pursuit of happiness, purpose, and a viable means of paying the bills. In the oddest of places, Topeka, Kansas, Wil discovered that despite his claims to fame, he was at heart Just a Geek. 

In this bestselling book, Wil shares his deeply personal and difficult journey to find himself. You'll understand the rigors, and joys, of Wil's rediscovering of himself, as he comes to terms with what it means to be famous, or, ironically, famous for once having been famous. Writing with honesty and disarming humanity, Wil touches on the frustrations associated with his acting career, his inability to distance himself from Ensign Crusher in the public's eyes, the launch of his incredibly successful web site, wilwheaton.net, and the joy he's found in writing. Through all of this, Wil shares the ups and downs he encountered along the journey, along with the support and love he discovered from his friends and family.

The first book I bought when I bought my kobo was Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton. I stayed up far too late reading. It became that important to finish it.

Admittedly, I heard of Wil Wheaton only vaguely in my younger years and only watched Star Trek a handful of times. It was one of the shows my dad would be watching when all I wanted to do was watch my cartoons. (And he would tell me who the characters were and why they were important, and how upset he was when it was all over.) I saw it enough to know some of the character names, and called Patrick Steward by Picard for years whenever I referred to him... and had to be corrected repeatedly until I was brainwashed taught to get it right.

Then, some time ago when I was watching Season 3 of Felicia Day's The Guild. There was a character named Fawkes that looked.. oddly familiar, but I couldn't quite place him. I didn't think too much of it just then. It wasn't until reading the collection of stories Clash of the Geeks by Patrick Rothfuss, Wil Wheaton, et al (It's quite the list), which I was introduced to on Rothfuss' blog, that I looked up Wil Wheaton's name and came across his blog. And connected the other dots. Oh.

Now, that's not a bad "ew, omg wth" 'Oh'. It's a "Wow, why didn't I realize who he was sooner I am kind of dense" type of 'Oh'. I also learned that Wil Wheaton is a writer, too, so that was interesting. When Patrick Rothfuss later recommended Just a Geek on his blog, I knew I needed to read this book, sometime.

Well, sometime only took three months (which is pretty good, considering my skill level in Procrastination) but I finally, finally got around to it. I wasn't put-off by learning that it contained some old blog posts. And it was intriguing, as I haven't read much of Wheaton's blog in the first place. (Again, Procrastination.) So the entire book was full of content that was entirely new to me. And an introduction by Neil Gaiman? That's just neat.

There were portions of this book where I literally laughed out loud. (In the living room, where my family looked at me like I'm crazy. Which I am, but that's unrelated.) And then, moments later, be either so angry or close to tears from the raw honesty within the book. I really got the sense of a real person, with real feelings, who is now able to really express all that and not feel ashamed. And yea, he really is a geek.

The decision by Wheaton to keep his old blog posts mostly intact was a very good idea - the change in writing style is evident and really helps show the passage of time, and a difference in his way of thinking. I enjoyed the book more in the later half because of that (and had to add WWdN to my list of Blogs to Follow..) Just a Geek turned out to be a whole lot more than I thought it would be. It was a pleasant surprise, and I really cannot see a reason to not rate this book 5-stars. What was it Neil Gaiman said  in the forward? Something like "sooner or later, you're not just a geek."

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11 October 2011

Kobo eReader Touch

A few days ago, late in the evening, I made a trip to Walmart. I avoid the stores like the plague, normally, but this time I had a quest mission. To purchase the Kobo eReader Touch.

Yes, I finally caved and gave-in to acquiring an eReader for myself. For the product itself it cost me around $155 CAD (including tax), not counting any accessories. I planned to buy a case that day, but Walmart provided me with one colour option - pink. I think I'll wait...

This is the first eReader I have owned, so the entire thing is new to me and I know very little of what to expect from it. That's not to say I didn't research and compare my options. Originally, I was dead-set on owning Amazon's Kindle. Until, that is, I found out how exclusive it really is. Nook was my second choice, but I ultimately chose to go with the kobo because it seemed to provide the most options, especially eBook file types, than any of the others.

One thing I found is that the software seems very, very slow. It's slow to start up after I switch the power button, slow to open a book when I make a choice, and sometimes slow to turn the page. I don't think I am being unfair to ask for an instant response... even if only just some sort of indication (even if a quick 'loading' symbol) that my input was received. I was reading Just a Geek during the Thanksgiving weekend and I'd tap the screen to turn the page and... wait.. and.. nothing. So I'd tap the screen again. And it would jump ahead 3,4,5 pages. Kobo eReader is just a little touchy.

I don't know if this is a usual thing for eReaders - as I said, this is the only one I have purchased or used. Overall, I do find it useful and do like the product, but there are a few things I know can be improved. Hopefully future software upgrades can work out the kinks.

9 October 2011

Review: Hana to Akuma Chapters 1-42

花と悪魔 1 [Hana to Akuma]花と悪魔 1 [Hana to Akuma] by 音 久無 (Oto Hisamu)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Ten years ago Bibi, the demon, decided to leave the demon realm and come to the human world. There he found an abandoned baby and on a whim decided to keep it. Since then he lives together with Hana... but having a 14 year-old girl around you, is it really that simple?

Hana to Akuma (literally: The Flower and the Demon, Demon With Flower, the Demon's Flower) is a story following the young Hana and her trials growing up in a house of demons. I read the first volume before realizing the story is listed as a romance, which did draw some concern for me as I recalled another series.

To start off, the artwork is certainly not terrible, but it does leave something to be desired. Certain character angles come across as awkward, stiff, and give an entirely different mood than what was intended. Other portions seem crowded and rushed, and there a number of characters that do look a lot alike. I forgot who many of the characters were when their names weren't mentioned in the chapter - they really weren't all that memorable.

This series, unlike one I reviewed previously, comes across as much more innocent and sweet. Hana is 14, though looks and acts much younger, and it's really just a cute story about a human girl that gets whatever she wants, without seeming too spoiled. (Her outfits are very elaborate.) As things progress, though, relationships and events become more complex but, even at far as I have read, nothing beyond a kiss had occurred. And it seems that nothing will ever go further than that - by chapter 42 the plot is dancing in circles and moving out of the "cute" phase and into the slightly-more-serious "tedious" phase of repetition.

I had to stop reading here. Hana to Akuma didn't make it into "creepy" territory, but it certainly went right into a circle waltz. Hana is being torn every which way emotionally and, I assume it was intended to bring  the reader along with her. (It really wasn't working.) There is far more tension than necessary and characters are acting in ways to hurt each other for the sake of hurting each other. There is no reason for it aside from stalling the plot. I stopped caring for the characters at all, and just wanted the series to end.. but not enough to keep wading through the spinning plot points. It's like a manga romance is not a romance unless it fulfills its quota of plot devices. Bonus points for cramming them all into the same story arc. With a guideline like that, Hana to Akuma passes with Aces.

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7 October 2011

Review: Hana no Kishi (Series)

Hana no Kishi, Vol. 1Hana no Kishi, Vol. 1 by Mai Nishikata

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Ever since the day Ran Kurono's older brother, was killed while protecting Sei Ohtori, she has dedicated her skills and life to one day becoming the First Knight of the next head of the Ohtori family, even concealing the fact that she's a woman forever. For generations the Kurono family has served the Ohtori family as their First Knight, but 11 other lower knights with ill intentions of using the Ohtori family's authority vie for that title. Not only that, but Sei is being tested to see if she is suitable for having the title of head of the family. Upon entering Saint Locks Academy, the days of both Ran and Sei's trials begin, all the while being helped by Sei's untidy and unrefined fiance, Ibara Tennou.

Hana no Kishi is a series by Mai Nishikata (西形 まい) that spans 5 volumes. As far as I am able to tell, it is currently not licensed in North America - the only way to read the story would be by translated versions online. (I read the manga here.) It seems to now be completed, and should be available to read on various sites until (and if) it is licensed.

The series follows Ran Kurono's life as First Knight (which is similar to a body guard, or even servant in some sense) to Sei Ohtori. It's really a sweet story, focusing on the friendship between Ran and Sei, and later Ran and a number of other Knights. It's very light on the romance, which I found worked very well. The characters and situations came across as believable, in context with the story, and I found the series quite enjoyable. More so in the later volumes - the second felt somewhat weaker, though I can't really place a definite reason on the why.

The artwork is quite pleasing, too, and flows very well from frame to frame. Mai Nishikata has a good understanding of facial expressions really makes her characters beautiful without going over-the-top with it. I did notice anatomy seeming off in some scenes, especially when showing a character walking swiftly, or running. They seemed stiff and incredibly awkward. It might be intentional, to express how the character is tense, but I am not so sure.

While the series does seem a little short, it has a definite ending and does not drag on and on (and on and on and...) like some similar mangas do. It is well thought out and that's really what I appreciate about it. It is also likely I will purchase the books should the series become available in Canada.

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5 October 2011

Review: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

Wake (WWW, #1)Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math, and blind. When she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality she perceives the landscape of the World Wide Web-where she makes contact with a mysterious consciousness existing only in cyberspace.

I saw Wake on the shelves a year ago and always intended to 'pick it up next time.' When I finally did go searching for it a few days ago, I find that not only is the second book available, but the third is out in hardcover as well. So... I bought the first two and promised myself that I will purchase the third when it is available in paperback. Hopefully my memory serves me better this time around and I actually do pick it up when it comes out. (And not years later.)

Wake follows a few characters and events and, while not all interact with each other, they are tied together in other ways. I am sure this will become more important later in the series, and I am interested in seeing how it all fits together. Robert J. Sawyer does an amazing job of connecting the reader to the story. I could not put this book down until I finished - and that really didn't take long at all. It is wonderful to find a science fiction novel that is perfectly science fiction. It's intriguing and full of wondrous ideas that are explained in such a way that is easy to understand and isn't overly technical.

I often found myself considering an idea within the book, and... seeing things in a way I had not before. (And totally staring off into space like a moron.) It's really great when a book can do this, and it does not occur often enough. It was amusing, too, in more than one sense. The main character, Caitlin, was funny and intelligent, and her little puns and jokes made me smile if not laugh outright. The writing style worked well for this too, and it never came across as silly or unintended.

Fun Fact: This is one of the few books I've needed to use a dictionary to find the meaning of a word. Usually I can discern the meaning based on how it is used in a sentence - I have been reading since I was a young child and like to think I am beyond using a dictionary. This time, though... not a clue. On the first page too -- Inchoate. Never seen the word before and, even in the sentence... Made me feel very smart.

We all need to be brought down a peg or two once in a while, I suppose.

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3 October 2011

Review: Unexpected Relationships

Unexpected RelationshipsUnexpected Relationships by Graveyard Greg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Description
When Burt discovers Kevin is homeless, it leads to an unexpected and unlikely relationship between the two.

Unexpected Relationships is a sweet short story from the world of Carpe Diem, a webcomic by Graveyard Greg and Redkam. It is a gay-themed story focused on the lives of various young friends, both at the gymnasium where they work/meet, and in their homes. The characters are anthropomorphic, commonly known as "furry", and are based on a variety of animal creatures (such as pandas, tigers, giraffes, or rhinos) but are realistic and human-like, at heart.

I read the webcomic, Carpe Diem, some years ago and came across a familiar image -the book cover- while looking through Smashwords for something interesting to read. I purchased the book for $0.99, and I knew from Greg's previous work that I would enjoy this one as well.

This story focuses strongly on the relationship and the love between the two people. Sex is mentioned, of course, but within the story it is never a focus and the work contains no explicit scenes. It's sweet and endearing, and the characters seem real and motivated by true experiences.

Unexpected Relationships is, as expected, pretty awesome. It is a story I would recommend for those interested in the Romance genre, even if only slightly.

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1 October 2011

Review: Demon Girl

Demon Girl (Rae Wilder, #1)Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Rae Wilder has problems. Supernatural creatures swarm the earth, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. Stalked by a handsome fairy who claims she is like him, demonkind, Rae thinks maybe it was a mistake breaking the rules by going over the Wall into demon territory. Plunged into a world of dark magics, fierce creatures, and ritual sacrifice, she is charged with a guarding a magical amulet. The changes to her mind and body are startling, but rather than accept her purpose she struggles against who she is destined to be. Throw in a big lust for a vampire who can't keep his hands off her, and life starts to get complicated. Rae is forced to make the ultimate choice: to live and die human, or embrace her birth-right and wield magics that could turn her into something wicked, a force of nature nothing can control.

The first few pages are slow but it does pick up somewhat. The writing style drew me in right away despite some odd phrasing and missing punctuation. However, that's what kept me from fully enjoying the story, as well. It's jarring and awkward in the descriptions, taking away from the action and the flow. The main character spends a lot of time thinking and considering, and her observations are not conveyed very well either. I found it difficult to keep focused and, ultimately, went searching for something more interesting.

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