Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review: Devil Dragon by Deborah Sheldon

Dr. Erin Harris may be a scientist, but she has an unscientific obsession: to find a living Varanus priscus. Cryptozoologists call it the Devil dragon. This giant Australian reptile went extinct some 12,000 years ago but like Bigfoot or Nessie, there are occasional sightings. Spurred by a credible witness, Erin cobbles together an expedition party consisting of herself, the witness, and his deer-hunting neighbours. They travel into the unexplored heart of a remote national park. Erin, believing the Devil dragon to be a larger version of the Komodo, is confident she can outwit a specimen. However, the terrifying monster that lumbers out of the bush is a savage and unpredictable predator the size of a campervan. To escape, Erin must transform herself from genteel university lecturer to hard-core survivalist.
Have you ever read a story where one of the characters got on your nerves so bad you wanted to see something ....awful..happen to them? Maybe a little Karma rolling around to teach them a lesson?  That happened to me here.

I have to admit there were several times I rolled my eyes, talked back to the book and even wondered why I kept reading. But that is exactly what happened. I wanted to see Dr Erin Harris get what was coming to her. Lets face it, she got a group of people in over their heads. A situation that she very soon learns does not apply to her book knowledge yet...somehow she seems to keep winning the survival lottery. 

I did not have to get very far into the story before I started rooting for the Devil Dragon and it's battle to keep the outsiders off it's land. It takes one of the most brutal beatings ever and still manages to fight back like a warrior. I felt that the Dr's character was wobbly at best. She seemed to have all the facts, people trusted her and followed her into this bush land, yet it seems like every single fact that she knew, turned against her, yet they all continued to listen and follow.

As for the "deer-hunting" neighbors you think that their experience will help them, but all we see is a lot of unnecessary deaths of several animals, unlawful people who feel like what they do is to support their family, but highly questionable at times. Even their hunting knowledge is no help against this incredibly tough skinned predator.

From the first page we see Dr. Erin Harris digging herself deeper and deeper into situation that the reader will feel there is absolutely no way out of. Yet hope always seems to find a way.

This is a story that was like a car wreck, where you just can't stop watching to see what is happening. Entertaining in the way that a Syfy original movie is. It's dark, gross and bloody, great for a short wild romp in the woods.. from your home. I would not recommend to read this while camping.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: Call Forth the Waves (#2) by L.J. Hatton

Earth, not so very long from now: the silent, inscrutable alien visitors who bathed the planet in transforming rains have moved on, leaving behind a world much changed.

Penn Roma, age sixteen, is blessed—or cursed—with supernatural talents she has always concealed. Her sisters, likewise afflicted, are prisoners of the Commission, the government agency tasked with controlling these strange children. Penn’s determination to save them only gains urgency when she learns of the horrifying plans the twisted Warden Dodge has for the peculiar charges.

But Penn herself must remain hidden, navigating a series of fantastical havens with her embattled allies, similarly enhanced teens also in the Commission’s crosshairs. Worse, her vast, half-understood powers have become unpredictable, failing at critical moments and activating outside of her control.

Can Penn trust a rogue warden, supposedly opposed to Dodge’s schemes, to help free her family…or has the Commission set its most nefarious trap yet?

Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 22nd 2016 by Skyscape

I really enjoyed reading Sing Down the Stars (book 1) and excited to jump into the next book to see where the story would go. This second book did not bring as much excitement for me as the first one, and from the cover I was actually hoping for more of it to take place underwater. I was not completely disappointed as we do get some under water action, exciting things to happen and even some surprises.
The majority of this story is learning more about the characters in general and their abilities. It takes place upon a floating city where the group has hidden from the Wardens. What I have enjoyed most about these books is the writing style of the author. She really has a talent for visuals and exciting new creatures/robots that really brought out a feeling of "wow, that is cool" The books have a carnival-like feel to them, yet it's a powerful modified human / alien-adjacent like story. The aliens are the ones that made the humans have certain powers, but we never really meet the aliens in the books.
What we follow is how the laws have had to change to safeguard humanity from those that had been altered, and the loved idea of those that take power for granted. I absolutely hate the villain in these books and I cannot wait to see how Penn and her unusual family will make him pay. I really enjoyed both books so far, perhaps only saddened by not getting more than what was given, but it only heightens my excitement for the next book to arrive.
A great teen magical fantasy story that is hugely imaginative and beautifully written.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Review: Breath of Earth by Beth Cato

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

When assassins kill the Wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Harper Voyager

As the story does take  place in a alternate United States I felt a bit confused in some places with our connection to other countries and the current political leaders. There is a lot of focus on the San Francisco area specifically because of the setting, but as far as what the world situation was I didn't quite get a good grip on who was ruling and where.
What I can tell you that I loved was the constant movement throughout the story and how during a time of war, the author does not shy away from being a bit, grotesque. My mouth literally fell open at one part that caught me off guard, yet really gave a good visual. As Ingrid is running for her life she goes on a wild adventure, there is constant action from the ground, the sky and under water. The way her abilities are able to save her and others during different situations was always interesting to see. I also really enjoyed the fact that the love story takes a bit of a twist, yet it all turns out very exciting. Although Ingrid is far from being a girl in distress she finds herself in several situations where her companions must help save her life. All four of them become a great team and I really enjoyed each person for their own unique person.
Even though I did get a bit confused, I really enjoyed where the story went and how much we learn about Ingrid and her family. It is really the characters that kept be going during the story, and they are the reason I am looking forward to reading the next book. This is one that I do recommend, it's an exciting read.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: A Hundred Hours of Night by Anna Woltz

Part love letter to New York, part portrait of a girl and a city in crisis as Hurricane Sandy hits New York City.

When Emilia de Wit ran away to New York City, she planned everything to a T. Plane ticket, purchased. Cute apartment, rented online. Subway map, printed and highlighted. This was no ordinary trip -- this was Emilia's declaration of independence. Her chance to escape the life her parents were ruining. To get away from the horrible scandal that had rocked Amsterdam, the scandal that was all her dad's fault. To see if her mom, the glamorous, world-famous artist, would even notice.

New York steals Emilia's heart at first sight -- even though absolutely nothing goes to plan. She didn't plan to end up homeless on a stranger's doorstep. She didn't plan to make friends with Seth, Abby, and Jim. And she could never have known that Hurricane Sandy would be barreling up the coast, straight for the city.

All she wanted was to get away from her parents, her problems, her life . . . and when the storm hits and the power goes out, Emilia feels farther from home than she could have imagined
I felt this story really focuses as the city as it's own character. I agree that it is very much a love letter to New York as the publisher has indicated and it's written in a way that you really do feel like your there, visualizing the streets, smells and weather as it takes place.
Emilia runs away from home, sneakily getting onto a flight to New York she lands only to discover the place she thought she had rented to stay at turned out to be a scam and the current residents are not going to let her stay. Finding herself in a complex situation she is able to find a place to stay the night and soon makes friends with them, they let her stay.
This is not only Emilia's story but those of the three people she meets while in New York and becomes good friends with. During the days of Hurricane Sandy in which power is down and stores, transportation and wi-fi are hard to find. These three get close and learn about each other, their quirks, their differences and especially their comfort in finding each other during a difficult time.
I'm not sure if this book is for everybody, but I believe that young readers that have an interest in New York may enjoy the story, it was a cute story with interesting characters. I thought there would be more drama in the fact that Emilia runs away...from another NEW YORK..alone. But this story takes a less intrusive (lighter) reflection of her family life.

During the time Emilia is in New York, hurricane
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books