This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
A Reader of Fictions: September 2012

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, September 30, 2012

On My New Arrivals Shelf (23)

Guys, I should go out of town more often because I had an insanely epic book pile awaiting me on my return. Mostly, that's because I had a whole bunch of stuff I won (some very recent, some very not) all show up at once. Anyway, check out my new, slightly improved vlog (thanks to new webcam!) and my wondrous haul.

Bloggers/Blogs Mentioned:
Nori of Nori's Closet
Tara of Hobbitsies

Books for Review:
Red Rain - R.L.  Stine
The Bookie's Son - Andrew Goldstein
Under Wildwood (Wildwood #2) - Colin Meloy
The Woman Who Died a Lot (Thursday Next #7) - Jasper Fforde (x2)
Sacrifice (Legacy #3) - Cayla Kluver

The Long Goodbye: A Memoir - Meghan O'Rourke
Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) - Beth Revis (my review)
The Turning - Francine Prose
Liar & Spy - Rebecca Stead
In a Heartbeat - Loretta Ellsworth
Need (Need #1) - Carrie Jones
Fixing Delilah - Sarah Ockler
Lucky Bastard - S. G. Browne

The City of Dreaming Books (Dreaming Books #1) - Walter Moers

Digital Haul:
Sweet Shadows (Medusa Girls #2) - Tera Lynn Childs (got free for my Kindle)


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Review: Quantum Coin

Quantum Coin
Coin, Book 2

Author: E. C. Myers
Pages: 324
Publisher: Pyr
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
Ephraim thought his universe-hopping days were over. He's done wishing for magic solutions to his problems; his quantum coin has been powerless for almost a year, and he's settled into a normal life with his girlfriend, Jena. But then an old friend crashes their senior prom: Jena's identical twin from a parallel world, Zoe.

Zoe's timing couldn't be worse. It turns out that Ephraim's problems have just begun, and they're much more complicated than his love life: The multiverse is at stake—and it might just be Ephraim's fault.

Ephraim, Jena, and Zoe embark on a mission across multiple worlds to learn what's going wrong and how to stop it. They will have to draw on every resource available and trust in alternate versions of themselves and their friends, before it's too late for all of them.

If Ephraim and his companions can put their many differences aside and learn to work together, they might have a chance to save the multiverse. But ultimately, the solution may depend on how much they're willing to sacrifice for the sake of humanity...and each other.

First Sentence: "Ephraim Scott sat at the bar and swirled the ice cubes in his glass."

1: Fair Coin (review|Goodreads)
2: Quantum Coin

Obviously, you should be cautious reading this review unless you've already read Fair Coin. I will keep things as spoiler-free as possible for book one, but that's pretty tricky. First and last paragraph will be spoiler-free totally. Now, if you've read my review for Fair Coin, you know that I quite liked it, but did have some reservations. Happily, Quantum Coin proves that the second book in a series can be stronger than its predecessor. If you were on the fence about reading Fair Coin, I'm telling you now that the awesomeness of this the sequel should cause you to choose the universe where you read E.C. Myer's Coin series.

Where Fair Coin has a fantasy feel for much of the book, Quantum Coin is straight science fiction, and I revelled in that, since I don't get nearly enough of that genre. In the first book, I had some difficulty grasping the concepts, though not to the point of frustration, but I felt less a fish out of water on this second go round. I'm not saying that I completely understood everything, but I didn't have any real WTF IS HAPPENING moments either. Myers does an excellent job keeping things on a manageable level of detail.

My main stumbling block in the first book were the characters, who, while not entirely unlikable, did venture into the unbelievable sometimes. They got better as they went along, and continued to develop and grow throughout this book as well. Ephraim and Nathan are way better in this book, and I liked how everyone got to be important at some time or other, though the Jenas really did rule the whole figuring things out part. Doug may be one of the cutest kids in literature, as he charmed my miserly heart. Dick made me laugh; you'll find out why towards the end.

I did not like the Jenas/Zoe, though. They are just not very nice women, despite being gorgeous geniuses. At least, Jena was less of a manicpixiedreamgirl this time. I will say, though, that Jena probably has the most in common with me, aside from bring super useful in crisis, Asian, and attractive to everyone. You know, little differences. Jena loves to read, and one of my favorite touches Myers put in the book was how when they went to different universes, books that aren't finished in our world ARE, like Jane Austen's Sanditon. I WANT TO GO TO THERE. For her love of fiction, I can't completely hate her. I mean, the world might be ending, but she still spends a lot of her time with her nose shoved in a book; I like those priorities.

The romance aspects I must admit I'm rather torn about. The whole love triangle with alternate reality versions of the same person is both very cool and very annoying. Honestly, I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. I think I'm coming down more towards the 'fascinating concept' side, just because Ephraim doesn't act like a complete jerk in that situation, when he could have tried to date both in some creepy, manly fantasy. Thankfully, he didn't do that, because I would have reached into the book and slapped him silly.

The beauty of Quantum Coin lies in the details. If you read closely enough, Myers throws in a bunch of nerdy wordplay and references, some of which made me laugh out loud, even though this isn't a humor book. Though I want to leave most of the references for you guys to find, I just have to share my very favorite one, because it was so subtle and wonderful. This is from the ARC, so it could be changed, but I hope it's not. High five for everyone who gets the reference!
"'Imagine: If shifting from one universe to another is like moving up or down to parallel layers, overlapping with one universe, then going to another timeline is like taking a jump to the left.'
   'Or a step to the right,' Jena said wryly."
It's a truly rare thing to encounter a second book that improves on the first, but Quantum Coin truly does. On the down side, this series does appear to be complete. I've gotten so used to trilogies that I was totally expecting more. I will eagerly await E.C. Myers' next writerly endeavor!

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "'We're deciding the fate of the multiverse with a flip of a coin. Heads or tails, doc. If that isn't a game, I don't know what is.'"

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: Juliet Immortal

Juliet Immortal
Juliet Immortal, Book 1

Author: Stacey Jay
Pages: 306
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Own

Description from Goodreads:
Fans of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver and Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush will relish this intense paranormal love story featuring Romeo and Juliet, literary history's most tragic couple, who meet again, not as true lovers, but truly as enemies.

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

"These violent delights have violent ends 

And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, 
Which as they kiss consume." 
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

First Sentence: "Tonight, he could have come through the door—the castello is quiet, even the servants asleep in their beds, and Nurse would have let him in—but he chooses the window, climbing through the tangle of night flowers, carrying petals in on his clothes."

In all honesty, I really didn't expect to like this. Romeo and Juliet was not my favorite play to begin with, and, because of its ubiquitousness, I've grown rather to loathe it. While I general hunt down retellings like Jaws hunts down the people of Amity, I make an exception for Romeo and Juliet most of the time. To my pleasant surprise though, I really, really was impressed with Juliet Immortal and am thrilled that I have a copy of the sequel Romeo Redeemed ready to go.

Stacey Jay made Romeo and Juliet palatable characters by completely changing things up. In this version, it turns out Romeo is totally willing to turn homicidal on Juliet in exchange for eternal life, given him by forces of evil known as the Mercenaries. Juliet, thanks to last minute intervention from Nurse, gets eternal life as well, signing on to work for the Ambassadors, the forces of light. I acknowledge that this all sounds patently ridiculous, but it's fantasy, so just take my word for it that, by and large, this paranormal plot line worked quite well for me.

Most of the narration (minus three chapters/intermezzos) is Juliet's first person perspective. Her work for the Ambassadors entails taking over another person's body, chosen seemingly at random. From this vantage point, her goal is to find a pair of lovers and make sure they reach true love, rather than one of them being recruited into the evil/eternal life scheme as happened with Romeo. While in another person's body, Juliet must avoid changing their life over much, but does try to improve things, which reminded me rather strongly of Mercy by Rebecca Lim.

This time, Juliet manifests in the body of a deeply depressed, lonely girl named April. Unfortunately, Romeo, who takes over dead bodies, restoring them to life and not the zombie-looking kind, appears in the same car with her, since April and Dylan had just been in a major car crash. Basically, Dylan had a bet that he could sleep with April, she found out, he tried to force her, and she crashed the car, killing him. In other words, Dylan sucks. Guess what, though! Romeo's WAY creepier. Call me morbid, but I got serious enjoyment out of watching the 'true lovers' end up such a hot mess.

Jay's writing and concept were phenomenal, and I was never bored. However, I did have some problems with the book. The main one is Juliet's gullibility. She's depicted as this strong, determined character, who has wised up from all of the horrible things Romeo has put her through. Though she supposedly works in pursuit of true love, she doesn't really believe in it anymore, and really just hopes for a chance to revenge herself on Romeo. All of that = fantastic.

Unfortunately, Juliet, it seems, hasn't learned much of anything. She immediately instaloves with someone else, Ben, the guy who saves her from Romeo that first night. Good lord, girl! Didn't you learn the first time that it doesn't hurt to take some time and not rush into things? It's hard to believe she's got her emotional walls up, if she instaloves so easily. She doesn't even fight it very hard. Heck, the true lovers she's sent to help fight their love more than she does, for all her wordy protestations.

I just wish she had been that way in all of her life, been a bit more questioning of love the second time around. That's just not who she is, though, I guess. On an unrelated note, can we stop with the whole "I'm writing a retelling of this play set in high school, so I'll totally have the school perform this play!" thing. Yes, that was once a clever gambit, but that ship has sailed, dear authors. It has been done enough; try something new. Note: SHS doesn't actually perform Romeo and Juliet; they perform West Side Story, which is almost worse.

The ending, too, seemed a bit overly convenient. I didn't really feel like everyone could emerge from this tale quite so happily. Of course, there's always the next book, which might be slightly different. I am eminently curious to see what angle Jay takes in the next book.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "There is school and the misery of being a person unseen, the jealousy that I can't be wild and beautiful like Gemma, that I am always an audience, never a player."

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Review + Giveaway: Murder in the Rue Dumas

Murder in the Rue Dumas
Verlaque and Bonnet, Book 2

Author: M.L. Longworth
Pages: 296
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
Set in a small university in the idyllic town of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France, the charming series continues with a dumbfounding murder that nearly stumps the handsome chief magistrate of Aix, Antoine Verlaque.

First Sentence: "The friendship between Yann Falquerho and Thierry Marchive had surprised everyone at the university."

1: Death at the Chateau Bremont (Goodreads)

Despite mysteries not being my favorite genre, I read this one right on the heels of the prequel to Luther. The two could not be any more different, but both turned out to be entirely delightful vacation reads, this one especially so. In a rare occurrence, I read this book without first reading the first book in the series. While I would have preferred to read them in order, I will say that my enjoyment of the book was in no way hampered by my lack of knowledge of the first book.

I accepted the review request for this becase of the setting. I have been lucky enough in my quarter century of life to do some traveling abroad, and one of the places I have been to is Aix in Provence. Of course, I only spent a couple of days there and I certainly don't have enough memories of the place to be able to recall anything specific enough to aid in my knowledge of the book, but I still liked being able to immerse myself in smaller town French culture.

In that respect, I got absolutely everything I hoped for from Murder in the Rue Dumas. The book is so French. There is much discussion of food, wine, alcohol, and such things. Warning: this book will make you hungry. There's a certain snobbishness to it, but I found it fabulous.

Longworth's mystery hearkens back to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, following more of a classic tradition in both plot arc and hero. Modern detectives seem always to come hard-boiled and violent, getting involved in a very hands-on manner in cases. Antoine Verlaque cares about solving the case of course, but he does not entirely relinquish the finer things in life to do so, nor does he have any intention of being involved in some final, dramatic confrontation with the killer. He is clever and closed off and a little bit sassy.

Bonnet, actually, is not a detective at all. She's Verlaque's girlfriend, who, I presume, he hooked up with in the first book. Their relationship is in that awkward phase where neither is quite sure how serious it is. Bonnet does help some with the case, but is, largely, on the periphery. I do like her, and I like that she isn't his partner, as that changes up typical dynamics a bit. I was not super attached to the characters, but I was entertained by them, which was enough for me.

Murder in the Rue Dumas also happens to be a very academic mystery. The murder victim works in the theology department of the same university where Bonnet teaches law. Most of the large cast of characters work in academia, so there's quite a bit of theological or otherwise very intelligent discussion. In this way, the book reminded me quite a bit of David Lodge's books, which are sort of academic humor and are in fact referenced in this novel.

This mystery will be a breath of fresh burgundy for those who miss the old days and the classic detectives. Everything happens at a slower pace and involves much less vigilante justice and a lot more thinking. I would recommend drinking a nice bottle of French wine as you read.

If you live in the US, enter to win a copy by filling out THIS FORM by October 5 at midnight.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"'Have you ever read the Persian Letters?' he asked.
   'No, I never have. Molière? Marivaux?'
   'Close. Montesquieu. There are these Turks, Usbek and Rica, who go on a grand tour of Western Europe, hilariously misinterpreting the people and customs they see along the way.'
   'Are you referring to Roussel?' Paulik asked. 'Or Yann and Thierry?'
   'No, us.'"

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cover Snark (25)

Welcome to Cover Snark where you're always free to let your snark flag fly. This week I have a really awesome collection of covers for you, by which I mean of course that they are all imminently snarkable. Some of them are really just asking for it. Also, prepare yourself for the worst indie of the week, because it's definitely a candidate for the worst indie of ALL TIME.

As always, feel free to disagree with me! Covers are subjective, so let me know what you like, what you don't, and what made you spittake. Where possible, I've linked you to GR, so you can add books that you think look awesome.

Opal (Lux #3) - Jennifer L. Armentrout
Thoughts: These books may be the shiz, and that certainly seems to be the consensus, but the covers are awful. First off, the guy creeps me the hell out. Obsidian's the worst for that with the unbuttoned shirt and creepy stare. Onyx adds a wife beater to the picture, which really doesn't do him any favors. He's finally wearing some non-creepy clothing, but he's still got scary, shiny eyes and is carrying a girl who may or may not be drugged. Maybe she's not, but as a girl who likes her heroines strong, covers like this really turn me off.

Sharp (Mindspace Investigations #2) - Alex Hughes
Thoughts: Meh. Looks like urban fantasy for men. The city in the background is pretty cool, but it's really not doing anything for me.

The Star Dwellers (The Evolution Trilogy #2) - David Estes
Thoughts: For self pubs, these are pretty good, though I don't think this one is anywhere near as interesting as the first book's. I'm really not getting a dystopian feeling from it, though, so it's not really calling to readers; it looks more film noir to me.

A Witch Alone (Winter Trilogy #3) - Ruth Warburton
 Thoughts: Is it just me or these covers getting worse as they go along? The color scheme of puke green and purple really isn't working for me at all. It also looks very poorly photoshopped. Also, why did they choose to make the ground in the background precisely the same color as her dress? UGHHHH.

Deadly Sting (Elemental Assassin #8) - Jennifer Estep
Thoughts: I like this cover. The red is an appealing shade, and the girl looks like a badass, even if her outfit does recall Tinkerbell's. However, it really doesn't seem to have anything to do with the other books in the series. Is this the beginning of a rebranding?

Just for Now (Sea Breeze #4) - Abbi Glines
Thoughts: Goodness, I hate these covers. The font and the whole future sorority girls and fraternity guys on spring break vibe. Not my thing. The only one of these I like at all is Because of Low, which doesn't look like the others. Also, While It Lasts makes me laugh forever, because guy in cowboy hat is sitting on a GIANT HAY BALL.

Hollywood Holiday (Red Carpet Series #2) - Sasha Summers
 Thoughts: This sequel is brought to you by: THE UGLIEST BOUQUET EVER.

Beyond the Cell - Sara Tribble
 Thoughts: I do like the colors, but the fonts are not working, especially since the title is a little bit hard to read. Ehhhh.

Pantomime - Laura Lam
Thoughts: Really, Strange Chemistry? Why did they release the picture before the finished cover? There's now no excitement in the final release, since the title and author treatment really hasn't added anything to the picture. I am disappoint. For some possible other covers, check out Cuddlebuggery where Kat Kennedy designed some alternatives...

Just One Day - Gayle Forman
Thoughts: New Gayle Forman! Yay! Cover = odd. Coffee-loving girl with overly enthusiastic watch likes to people watch in  blurry foreign squares.

Cinder (Death Collectors #2) - Jessica Sorensen
Thoughts: That girl glows. She doesn't need the light of that giant moon to see by. I actually rather like the title treatment, though I feel like I shouldn't.

Sirens (Faithful #3) - Janet Fox
Thoughts: Janet Fox has the prettiest covers! They fail at a series vibe entirely, but who cares when they're this pretty, right? This one has a 1920s vibe AND a fantastic background AND a fun title font. I will say, though, that the way the pearls are attached to her wrists like chains are both creepy and an excellent metaphor for the gilded cage of upper class life.

Losing It - Cora Carmack
 Thoughts: I just thought this was stupid at first, but then I read the synopsis. A girl is sick of being a virgin, so she tries to have a one night stand, fails, and then he turns out to be her college theater professor. OH MY GOD. I am so creeped out. Does the guy on this cover look nearly old enough to be a professor? And the chain? Also, the way he's positioned as above and control and she's below and submissive? NO.

Dead Rise Shore - Sarah Ballance
 Thoughts: From Here to Eternity meets zombies.

Fox Forever (Jenna Fox Chronicles #3) - Mary E. Pearson
Thoughts: Oooh, I like the way this combines the elements of the previous ones. Still not as good as Mila 2.0, but very nice.

The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson
Thoughts: Steampunk horse! Looks like a middle grade? I like it, but it doesn't seem all that new either.

Between - Karey Schafer
Thoughts: Is that a dragon in that ball? That's awesome! Also, she has some sort of tattoo type deal going on on her shoulder. Plus, red hair. Who doesn't love sassy gingers?

Awakening (Dark World #1) - Arden Ashling
Thoughts: What is that shirt she's wearing? It looks so wrinkly. Also, LOOK AT THEIR FACIAL EXPRESSIONS. I do actually like the title font and the background, though. 

If He Had Been With Me - Laura Nowlin
Thoughts: Sets the tone for a dark contemporary that will make you weep enough tears to make puddles like the one depicted.

Bruised - Sarah Skilton
  Thoughts: NGL, this cover makes me giggle. However, the way the title font looks like blood splatter around the i's dot makes it look like she's just had her hand chopped off ala Luke Sky Walker.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds - Cat Winters
Thoughts: Is it just me or does this look like the family photo of some crazy aunt before she got sent to the insane asylum? The goggles are a nice touch. Seriously, though, this cover creeps me out.

Empty - K.M. Walton
1st Attempt vs. Redesign: Good job, designers. This is WAY better. Very simple and literal.

Worst Indie of the Week: Human Rights - S.L. Armstrong
Thoughts: Words: I don't have them.

Outstanding Cover of the Week:
Sirens by Janet Fox