Review – Styx by Bavo Dhooge

By: Bavo Dhooge
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Shuster/Simon451

I stumbled upon this book at the library and immediately picked it up (mostly because I thought the author had one of the most awesome names I’ve come across) and I’m pretty happy I did. Styx, written by Flemmish author Bavo Dhooge, is a mystery novel with what is probably the most original twist on a zombie story I’ve ever seen.

No, really. Trust me on this. It’s pretty awesome.

Review: Nearly Gone

Nearly Gone
By: Elle Cosimano
Release Date: March 25th 2014
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Series: Nearly Gone #1
Award: 2015 Edgar Award Nominee

What draws you to a book? Is it the cover artwork? The title? The cover tagline? The synopsis on the back of the book? For me this time around it was all to do with the cover. The art was intriguing, showing only a portion of our main character Nearly Boswell’s face and, while her lips are on the cover it isn’t explicitly sensual. I tend to grow tired of the covers with beautiful girls in beautiful clothes in a beautiful scene somewhere. We all know that for most of those books the beautiful, idyllic cover is a lie. This time around, the haunting cover tells you everything you need to know, that nothing is okay and you’re in for an intense ride. 

Let me also state that this book has a very Pretty Little Liars feel to it in that teenagers are solving crimes and, in the process, getting themselves into trouble/making matters worse. Now that that’s out of the way let’s talk about the book itself. 

#ThrowbackThursday Review – Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Wizard's First Rule
By: Terry Goodkind
Release Date: January 1994
Publisher: Tor
Series: Sword of Truth, Book #1
Award: Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (1995)

I finally did it. I finally read Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule. I meant to read this for years. It’s my husband’s favorite book of all time. We have two physical copies and an ebook version. And, finally, after years of nagging, I sat down and read the whole thing. At once. All the way through. All 800 some odd pages. In less than 24 hours. It was just that good. I love, love, high fantasy and this one was wonderful.

Now, high fantasy can be a tricky thing in that it seems to divide everyone who claims they love high fantasy. There three groups as I see it. 1 – If I see a trope I will burn this book. 2 – Give me a Gandalf clone and give him to me now. 3 – Those who read both innovative novels and long series that rely heavily upon their predecessors in the genre.

So, where does this one fall?

Review – Overlord, Vol. 1: The Undead King by Kugane Maruyama

Overlord, Vol 1: The Undead King
By: Kugane Maruyama
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Yen On
Series: Overlord, Book #1

When I saw Overlord, Vol 1: The Undead King by Kugane Maruyama sitting on the shelf at the book store I just had to have it. I couldn’t help myself. It isn’t every day you find a translated light novel with breathtaking artwork (and hardcover no less!) just sitting around in the wild like that. Not unless you’re at a specialty book store. Sure, they have manga most of the time, but they’re usually usually way in the back and resigned to only one shelf, two if you’re lucky. And even they usually only have the old standards.

Okay, so, first. For those who don’t know, light novel is a term for a Japanese novel which is more or less the length of a long novella or a short novel, and is almost always part of a series. Overlord is one of these. This is the first volume, and, as of the time of writing this review, the only one currently available in English.

Review – Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor

Welcome to Night Vale
By: Joseph Fink; Jeffery Cranor
Release Date: Oct 20, 2015
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Series: Welcome to Night Vale
Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction (2015)

Have you ever listened to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast? Heard of it? Well, this is Welcome to Night Vale the book, written by the podcast’s creators Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor. It doesn’t follow the podcast’s narrator, Cecil Palmer, but two different characters, at least one of whom (I’m pretty sure as I didn’t go back and re-listen to 4+ years of the podcast before writing this) was mentioned offhand in an early episode of the show.

I was a little worried at first that the book would feel different from the podcast. It’s a different medium, of course, and it isn’t told from the familiar viewpoint of Cecil Palmer.

But should I have worried?

Review – The Zodiac Legacy Vol 1 by Stuart Moore

The Zodiac Legacy Vol 1
By: Stuart Moore, Stan Lee, P. H. Marcondes
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Papercutz
Series: The Zodiac Legacy, Book #1. Based on The Zodiac Legacy novel series
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)

The Zodiac Legacy #1 is a graphic novel by Stuart Moore, Stan Lee, and P. H. Marcondes based on a series of young adult novels of the same title. This is the first in a series of graphic novels involving characters with superpowers based on the Chinese zodiac.

Coming from the world of manga, it was a very nice change of pace to have all-color pages. The art style itself was nice, though I couldn’t help but think that some of the cells were a bit boring. There was a lot of talking and little action in the beginning, and there was little happening stylization-wise on the page that otherwise engaged me or caught my eye.

Review: Champion by Marie Lu

By: Marie Lu
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Series: Legend, Book #3

Again, this time I didn’t tear through Champion. I was anxious to read this book and finish the series so once I got past the second chapter I went through it fairly quickly.

We open with Day and June apart, Day working within the military and June as the Princeps-Elect. As the Republic struggles towards a peace treaty with the Colonies a biohazard plague starts ripping through the Colonies.

Review – Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker

Cure for the Common Universe
By: Christian McKay Heidicker
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

I stumbled upon Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker completely on accident, and boy am I happy I did. I was at the Harry Potter release party waiting impatiently for midnight when this caught my eye. There it was, all bright reds and oranges popping off a background of blues and greens and whites, surrounded by identical looking paranormal romance novels with dark covers and shiny lettering. It even had an interesting sounding title. So I put it on top of my already too-big stack of books and wanted to love it instantly.

And boy howdy, I was not disappointed.

Review – Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older

By: Malka Ann Older
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Series: The Centenal Cycle

Author Malka Ann Older’s debut novel Infomacracy is a brilliantly written story of political intrigue in a not quite so far future. Every ten years there is a world-wide election. Instead of individuals competing for leadership, it is government types with vastly differing ideologies. Whichever government wins the most districts becomes the Supermajority. Above all of this is Information, a global corporation dedicated to spreading accurate, real time information about, well, everything and anything. But this government type is still fairly new, and the election isn’t without a fair share of contention, which Ken and Mishima are only just beginning to learn.

This is, quite honestly, possibly the best book I’ve read (thus far) this year. It hit a lot of the right buttons for me, and I’d re-read it in a heartbeat. One of the things that stood out for me? The characters.

Review – Beacon 23: The Complete Novel by Hugh Howey

Beacon 23: The Complete Novel
By: Hugh Howey
Release Date: August 12, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Series: Originally a series of short stories.
Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction (2015

So, I’ve had a Kindle for years. Somehow I missed that you could check out a book from the Amazon store as a library book. Once I figured out that (a) this was a thing and (b) how, exactly, to do it, I checked out Beacon 23: The Complete Novel by Hugh Howey. Despite actually owning his first novel Wool, this is the first of his books I’ve actually read. (I know, I know. I’m a serial TBR pile neglector.)

Originally published in five parts, this is the complete novel edition. It is a story about a former military officer now working the lonely position of beacon operator. All alone in a largely uninhabited part of the galaxy, he works the ‘lighthouse’ – a space station whose sole purpose is to warn and guide incoming vessels of the large, very dangerous asteroid field nearby.

Each section tells a rather cohesive story from the eyes of Digger, the main character, as mishaps occur aboard the beacon, he attempts to deal with the horrors of war, and maybe even worse, being the only one in his squadron to survive it. I really liked Digger, and reading the story from his point of view. I liked the stream of visitors – both real, and, quite possibly, imagined ones – to the beacon as well.

Parts 1-3 were very, very good. They had humor while, at times, being completely unsettling as Digger loses grasp with and struggles to regain sanity. Part 4 introduced another nearby beacon operator and potential love interest. This section felt a bit different from the first three in tone, but retained the same themes and language overall.

Part 5, on the other hand, I couldn’t quite stand behind as I did the first four. The ending felt just a little bit … oh, I don’t know. Odd? It simply didn’t quite line up with the majority of the rest of the book. It does retain some similar characteristics. There is still an air of ‘did this actually happen’ about it. The quite possibly unreliable narration of Digger is stronger than ever. But, all in all, I would have been perfectly happy if the series ended at part 4.