Saturday, May 30, 2015

Alive by Scott Sigler

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1 Star
 
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Included at the end of this ARC was an author’s note asking reviewers to not “spoil” this novel with their review. He asks that all reviewers “avoid giving away the good stuff.”Well, lucky for me there was no good stuff, so I don’t think I really have to honor that request. In the immortal words of the MC, I have the following to say:

“He thinks he can push people around. He thinks he owns people.”

WARNING: SPOILAGE

First things first, are there zero original ideas left? I guess it’s my own fault for not taking the blurb at face value, but when I read “a gripping sci-fi adventure trilogy in the vein of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner” I didn’t realize it meant it would be a jumble of every plotline from every dystopian YA book ever written (with a little Lord of the Flies thrown in for good measure).

I also didn’t realize that nothing would happen. The premise sounded both original and action-packed:

A girl wakes up in a coffin-like enclosure in a war-torn environment, discovers there are others (both living and dead) with her, and has to fight in order to survive.

Sounds promising, right?

Yeah, notsamuch. Here’s what really happens: A girl wakes up on her 12th birthday in a coffin/cradle/bed/whatever, finds other kids, and discovers although they all believe they are 12, they now look like this kind of 12 year old . . .

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Although the names contained on their “enclosures” (for lack of a better term) clearly state first initial and last name, the MC decides her name will be “Em” rather than “M” (Please note everyone else will be referred to by their last name. WTF is the point of the “Em” bullshit? Especially when her last name is SAVAGE. I would totally want to be known as motherf*&^ing Savage!), and immediately elects herself as leader. Ummmmm, doesn’t anyone watch Survivor anymore? You never want to declare yourself leader. When you do, this happens . . .

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We then deal with various other “children” losing their shit because they want to be the leader. A whole lot of this ensues . . .

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I tried to make a game out of how many times Em talked to herself about how she was the leader, but taking a shot each time made me pass out by like the 14% point so I had to stop playing. Seriously . . .

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WE GET IT. QUIT TALKING ABOUT HOW YOU’RE THE LEADER AND SUCH-AND-SUCH WANTS TO BE THE LEADER YOU F-ING BROKEN RECORD!

There are also various remarks are made about symbols the kids have on their forehead. It was all very Sneetches and I’m sure there will be a super valuable lesson to be learned by any of you who ride this turdpile out through Book #3 . . .

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Since this is a YA story, we also have to toss a little horniness into the mix. Even though the characters are all 12 (with voices of approximately 7 year olds), our MC fails to notice the carnage that surrounds her, and notices the beauty of bachelor #1 upon his emergence from his “coffin” instead. She “shamefully” fantasizes about what would happen if their clothing ripped and she *gasp* saw a “grown man” naked and in stressful times she makes sure to take note of important things like, “his eyes . . . so blue” and the way he smells “it’s distracting – almost as if I like it, but it doesn’t smell good”

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Nearly the entire remainder of the book consists of walking through hallways and every once in a while coming across stuff . . .

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But then back to walking. Always walking . . .

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Oh, and arguing about who is leader and who should be leader and WHY WON’T THEY STOP F-ING TALKING ABOUT WHO IS THE LEADER?!?!?!?!?!

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Generally in a trilogy, book #2 or 3 is the “filler” book. Not this time. Nope, #1 was the one that could have had 90% of it left behind on the cutting room floor. Hands down this was the worst start to a dystopian series I’ve read. Obviously I won’t be reading the next book. For those of you who will? Well . . .

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ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Thank you, NetGalley!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

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3.5 Stars
(rounded up for the prettiest cover I've seen so far this year)

“The only way we can rectify our mistakes is to try and undo the wrong we have done.”

This review is brought to you by . . . .

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Do you ever actively search for something that you know will bring you down? It’s been raining here for like 74 years and The Color of Our Sky looked like it might be a winner in the “No, I Don’t Have Seasonal Affective Disorder, I Just Read a Sad Book” category. I was spot on. I mean, look at this synopsis:

Mukta was born to a long line of temple prostitutes and due to the caste system fulfills her destiny at the tender age of 10. Tara was born to a middle-class family and a father who feels obligated to save as many children as possible from the horrible fate that awaits them. When Mukta becomes one of the children Tara’s father brings home, life changes for both girls as their friendship develops. But when Mukta is kidnapped Tara blames herself. Tara remains haunted by the past so much so that as a grown woman she embarks on a journey to find the missing Mukta and save her once again from the brothel.

There you have it. Basically this reading experience can be summed up with a few simple words . . .

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If you’re looking for a real heart-ripper-outer, this might be the book for you. I had a few problems with the story – mainly how a woman who worked three jobs in the U.S. was able to travel to India indefinitely with no means of income (especially considering her father’s wealth (or possible lack thereof when they immigrated to America) was never really detailed) and also how the corruption of various charity and welfare organizations in India was never brought up at all. The second issue could be due to me reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers not too long ago, though. However, if you are a reader who is able to just enjoy the story for what it is and can go without having every question answered you probably won’t have any issues at all. The writing was solid, the timeline flowed nicely from past to present and the characters were all well-developed. Just remember you need to go into this one knowing that whenever you think things might look up, they probably aren’t . . .

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ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Thank you, NetGalley!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

American Badass by Jeff Chacon

23164270
3 Stars
 
“Ron wasn’t stupid. He was just dead. There was a difference.”

Have you met Ron Zombie yet????

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No, RON - not Rob. Ron was your average Joe . . . until an 18-wheeler seriously f*&^ed up his day and ended his life. Lucky (????) for Ron, the Zombie Apocalypse had already started, so rather than simply becoming roadkill he became undead roadkill. How exactly did zombies come to be???? Well . . .

“The mutant virus got out, people ate people, there were zombies everywhere, blahblahblah . . . you know the story.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t take ‘Murica long to figure out having a large population of people who want to nom on the rest of the population of people probably isn’t a great idea so zombies were taken out en masse. Now Ron’s only hope of surviving is if he can make it to a magical utopia where anything goes. A place we know as . . .

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While there, Ron will attempt to get reacquainted with some people from his former life . . .

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as well as take some time to enjoy the fine dining experiences the Vegas Strip has to offer . . .

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and maybe even find himself becoming an internet sensation . . .

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If you’re looking for a lighter side of zombie life that features one horny dead guy, American Badass might be a winner for you. My only complaint? The open-ending sort of demands book #2. And really, who knows what all could happen in a sequel? Maybe an appearance by a very special guest?????

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While I wait I’ll just continue saying my prayers . . .

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ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Thank you, NetGalley!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Summer I Died by Ryan C. Thomas

18211922
3 Stars
 
WARNING: IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH, RUN AWAY FROM THIS REVIEW AND NEVER LOOK BACK!

"I would wake up soon.  I knew I would because this stuff only happened in dreams."


If you’re like me and your idea of a great date movie is something like this . . .

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over something like this . . .

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Okay, that’s kind of a lie. There’s always room in my bed life for some more Ryan Gosling. For the most part, though, I’m down for a slasher movie over a “chick flick” any day of the week. If you can’t ever seem to meet your annual quota of gore, The Summer I Died is probably the book for you.

The story begins like so many other horror stories. Two friends reunite for the summer after one has gone away for his first year of college. They have planned out a couple of months of (fairly tame) debauchery, beginning with a little road trip to the sticks where they can shoot some beer cans. Y’all know what happens when you go to the boonies, right????

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followed by . . .

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Well, yeah. Sometimes that happens too. This time, however?

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When the boys hear a woman screaming, their conscience won’t let them ignore it and walk away. Instead, they find themselves walking directly into harm’s way . . .

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The remainder of the story is . . . well, it’s enough to induce a complete and total barf-o-rama . . .

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If you’re a fan of the Saw and Wrong Turn franchises, this one is almost sure to be a winner.

I’m kind of at a loss as to what to rate this one. If I’m judging strictly on how many times I got asked “WTF are you reading that has you making those faces constantly????” this would get a 5. However, the plot is pretty much along the lines of the typical horror movie where the shock and awe factors far outweigh any character/plot development, which brings the rating down. Buuuuuuut, since I’m intrigued enough to see where the second book in the series plans on going I’m settling on 3 Stars. I don’t generally give a rip about book #2 – especially when #1 works so well as a stand-alone.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann - Illustrations by Kerasco√ęt

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5 Stars
 
Beautiful Darkness begins with Prince Hector and Princess Aurora enjoying a spot of tea when all of a sudden the roof starts dripping all over them . . .

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If you’re anything like me you’re wondering WTF kind of house are they living in that has a roof that leaks splooshy red shit all over??? You immediately regret asking that question . . .

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What the F*!?!?!?!?!

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The synopsis sums things up quite brilliantly. Beautiful Darkness is indeed an “unsettling and gorgeous anti-fairy tale.” Nearly every page is filled with breathtaking watercolor illustrations detailing some sort of delightful squickyness via a plethora of characters who literally come pouring out of the corpse. Terrifying little characters like this . . .

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and this . . .

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and these . . .

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and ones who goes from this . . . .

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to this . . .

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via this . . .

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Charming, right? All of those characters had me thinking maybe that creepy child killer had the right idea after all.

This gets 5 Stars for the sheer f*&^ery of it all (and because Mitchell said he would hurt me if I gave it less). 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Outcast by Robert Kirkman - art by Paul Azaceta

23043731
3 Stars
 
WARNING: EVEN THOUGH NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS IN THIS VOLUME, SOME OF YOU MAY CONSIDER WHAT IS POSTED BELOW TO BE SPOILERS OF ALL THE NON-HAPPENINGS

Oh snap, I just gave something by Robert Kirkman a not-so-great rating. Hold on a sec so I can gear up . . .

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Alright. Bring on the pain (and insults to my intelligence).

Is there anyone left on the planet who isn’t aware of who Kirkman is? For the three of you who need a refresher, he’s the guy who brought us this . . .

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Yep. The Walking Dead. Making him a god amongst men – who also happens to be totes adorbs . . .

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which makes the creepy concoctions his brain comes up with even more delightful.

Although Kirkman has made approximately forty gajillion dollars off of zombies, Outcast went in a different direction . . .

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Sidenote: Kudos for one of the best tag lines ever . . .

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This is the story of Kyle Barnes, a man who had to overcome being raised in a real hellhole and who lost everything dear to him as an adult. Kyle has been in a downward spiral ever since his wife and daughter left him, but has started to realize it’s time to face his past and deal with some harsh truths.

The local preacher . . .

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(Ha! Just kidding, he’s totally old and not hot at all, but how many times will I have an excuse to post Colin O'Donoghue gifs????)

has always known demons surround us, as well being aware of Kyle’s personal history, and enlists Kyle to help with the heavy work of exorcism . . .

“You clearly have an ability. I don’t know what it is or how you got it, but you have a power over these things.”

The problem is, nothing really happens in this volume. You get some of Kyle’s backstory, you get some interaction with the possessed, you get a hint of what’s to come, but you’re left being obligated to invest in Volume 2 for any real action. I know I’m no graphic novel aficionado, but nothing I’ve read so far has been the equivalent of ripping the first few chapters out of a novel and calling it “Volume 1” . . .

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STFU, Carl! I’m trying to make a point. I don’t need you agreeing with me and making everyone even madder.

So anyway, all of you superfans may not have a problem with the way this one ends because you know you will read the entire collection from start to finish. But for me??? Well, my library has like JACK SQUAT when it comes to graphic novel selections, which means I have to drop my hard-earned cash on something that I may or may not like and that will only take me like an hour to read.

Although I’m aware I know zilch about art, I feel obligated to comment on it since this is a pitcherbook and all. Here’s a sample . . .

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Me no likey.

Many thanks to The Jeff for trusting me to not completely f*&^ up a graphic novel buddy read. Mitchell says many thanks for sending him back early and not keeping him for the duration of this read. He was afraid you’d get some bright ideas about holy water and its many uses.