Review: Head On by John Scalzi

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This book was so good! SO GOOD! In a near future, folks with Haden’s disease are locked into their bodies and interact with the outside world via androids, Chris Shane is an FBI agent and a Haden who has to solve a crime involving a Haden-related sport.

The sport, called Hilketa, is a game in which one player is the goat and the other players have either try to rip their head off and use it as a ball to score points or to defend their teammate and help them keep their head on. At an exhibition game, player Duane Chapman gets his head ripped off and never recovers. This leads Chris and his partner down a rabbit hole of league politics, national politics, and Haden affairs.

This book was so interesting. There is politics, conspiracy, bad business practices, betrayals, characters you love and cheer for, characters you loathe. There is mystery and intrigue. I ripped through this novel. I couldn’t put it down.

Head On is billed as a standalone novel, but it is related to Scalzi’s novel Lock In, which I now feel like I have to look for at the library. And, to think, I wouldn’t have picked it up if the library hadn’t made it seem so enticing with its “no reserves, no renewals, 10-day check outs only) sticker.

What I’m Reading Now: Head On by John Scalzi

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I really enjoy John Scalzi‘s web presence (I feel like I’ve learned a lot about sandwiches…but maybe I’m confusing him with someone else on twitter? Oh, and kittens. He’s posted some cute kitten pictures on twitter) but I’ve never read any of his books. The book flap said, “stand alone novel” and the library said,  “Hot pick! 10-day loans only! No renewals or reserves!” so I picked this up. I mean, I had to, right? It was there. I was there. It was serendipity.

The library really knows what its doing with its marketing.

Quick Review: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

restore me It’s been a couple of years ago that Tahereh Mafi completed her Shatter Me trilogy but I guess she wasn’t finished with it because here we are with book 4.  I feel like I should went back and read the original series because there were so many things I forgot about.  The one thing I didn’t forget about is how the Mafi’s writing style changed as Juliette’s mind because more stable.  As she becomes less isolated and understands her power the writing style because more fluid and less choppy.  In this one, as things start to unravel for Juliette and Warner we start to see a return to the choppy phrasing from earlier books.  I knew as soon as Juliette’s journal appear that things are not going to end well.  Not to get too far ahead, let’s start at the beginning.  Restore Me begins a little more than two weeks after the end of the last novel.  Juliette has taken over as Supreme Commander of North American and soon discovers she is way over her head.  Not only does she know very little about politics but the people she trust have been keeping things from her.  Things start to spiral out of control when the kids of the other Supreme Commanders start showing up.  Juliette learns that as much as she wants to run from her past she can’t because in truth she doesn’t even know her past and what she doesn’t know just might get everyone killed.  I really enjoyed this and I’m glad Tahereh returned this world because clearly there is a lot to explore in Juliette’s story.

Quick Review: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

a reaper at the gates ***Minor Spoilers***

We finally made it to the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series and things are getting real.  Laia, Elias and Helena are basically on their own as they deal with the many crisis’ going on in the Empire.  Laia is focused on one two things, bringing down the Nightbringer and saving her people.  Elias is the new Soul Catcher but having trouble in his new role.  Helena is the Blood Shrike, trying to defend the Empire and the Emperor who she doesn’t like and defending what is left of their family.  As they go about their business, they have no idea that they are doing exactly what the Nightbringer wants them to do.  It frustrating as it is interesting to read as the reader knows that the characters are playing into their enemies hands but are unsure as to how exactly and horrified that they is nothing they can do about it.  I spent a fair amount of my time reading wanting to scream at Laia, Elias and Helena to STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING!  YOU ARE MAKING A DUMB MISTAKE!  Especially, Helena who was supposed to be one of the smartest in her class at the Blackcliff but time and time again was easily out maneuvered by The Commandant or the Nightbringer.  He biggest mistake is that she assumes that everyone loves the Empire as much as she does and will play fair and is shocked to find that’s not the case and even though she is told this many times she continues to make this mistake.  (I think a certain political party is the same way and is why it keeps losing)  Her unwillingness to believe or play that game keeps costing her and is even more frustrating because the one time she does, she won.  Anyway, this was a great set up to the final book that will definitely feature more pain.  Let’s hope our characters learn from their mistakes in this book.

Review: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

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This is the first book for my pop culture homework assignment! And it was so good! Okay, but before I start gushing about how much I like the book, let me tell you about it.

 

The small town (population: 212) Cryer’s Cross is  in the grip of a tragedy. Tiffany Quinn, a sophomore in high school, has disappeared. They search for her but do not find her. The school year ends, the season turns and then the following Fall another student also goes missing. The town once again comes together to search for a missing student. What is going on and why was Nico, the second missing student, distant and forgetful in the days leading up to his disappearance? The story is told from the perspective of Kendall Fletcher, high school student and best friend of Nico. To add to the mystery, the school has two new students, Marlena and Jacian Obrian, who have moved to Cryer’s Cross with their parents to help their grandfather with his farm. The cops interrogated Jacian about Tiffany’s death. Is Jacian involved in the missing persons case or is he just a grumpy high schooler who is pissed that he had to move before his senior year to the middle of nowhere? (Also, maybe the townsfolk just a little bit racist?)

 

Okay, now to gush about this book. I love Kendall. She is amazing. Much of the plot is driven forward by Kendall’s obsessive-compulsive disorder. I liked that she was portrayed as a whole person and just as a disorder. I also liked that this wasn’t a story about OCD. I also loved Jacian and Marlena. They are amazing characters. Beth and I were discussing it, and Jacian is definitely book boyfriend material.

I enjoyed this book and if you like paranormal horror/mystery, you should try it.

Okay, now for a bit of a spoiler.

Continue reading

Review: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

war storm A satisfying ending to a very good series.  It starts just minutes after the end of King’s Cage, where Mare is reeling from being betrayed by Cal choosing the crown over her.  I wasn’t really all that surprised by this because as much as he loves Mare and has been open to the red plight but he is a Silver Prince that was born to rule.  He’s going to give that up?  Anyway, Victoria does a great job of balancing her Game of Thronesque story lines.  With so many families, groups and countries vying for the future of Norta the story could have been easily bogged down but it isn’t.  Alliances are clear and who is going to betray who is clear.  We all know who is on what team and when it comes down to it who is going to side with who when it comes to the end it didn’t disrupt the storyline.  At the moment, Mare and Cal are reunited in the same objective of get Maven out of power but their alliance is shaky at best.  We know that Cal has no intention of giving up his throne as he feels he is the best to reunite his fractured nation but the Scarlet Guard has no intention of putting him on the throne.  Maven has the Nortan crown but little support.  Iris, his wife from neighboring country the Lakelands, is already scheming to take the crown from Maven as soon as he depletes his army against Cal.  The western nation of Montfort that is the only democracy in this new world that has silvers and reds working together has made their intentions known that they will not have another silver king either.  So who wins? Well that would be too spoilery but I will say i like the ambiguous ending.  Victoria has definitely left enough open that if she ever wanted to return to Norta, Monfort or the Lakelands she could but if she doesn’t then she has given her characters a good send off.  Mare is broken and bruised but is working on healing.  She has been many people throughout the four books.  She’s been Mare from the sticks, a thief.  She’s been Mareena, a lost Silver and the lightning girl a leader and inspiration for the rebellion but who is she really.  Cal’s growth is quite as strong but then again I think Cal has already had a good sense of who he was.  Maven is probably the most tragic.  The abuse that he suffered from his mother is beyond cruel but that shouldn’t excuse his many crimes he committed throughout the series.  My biggest complaint is that Cameron who was one of POV characters in the last book only makes an appearance in one chapter.  Other than that, this was a satisfying ending to a very good series.

Review: Inferno by Julie Kagawa

inferno The final book in the Talon Saga was kinda of a disappointment in the sense that I didn’t really love it only liked it.  It took a really long time to get going and for the final book the lack of urgency was a strange.  The characters kept telling each other about how the end is coming soon but really didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to prepare for it until they had no choice to and then things Finally got going.  But damn, we had to go through a lot of things to get there.  There was the unnecessary trip to Brazil to meet an ancient dragon that was never mentioned before and there was another trip to Asia for the that we all knew how it would end up.  There were past mentioned characters showing up and taking up time for no reason but fit in one more heroic arc?  I don’t know.  The finale however was worth it though.  The final battle between the Rogues, St. George and Talon made up the lackluster beginning.  It had drama, suspense and melodrama all wrapped into one.  I appreciate the theme of the series being that even though we may be different, what we all want out of life is the same.  We want to live in peace and have freedom of choice.  And authoritative governments are bad.  The best way to bring down an oppressive regime is to overcome our differences and work together and learn from each other.  I very important message for today.  That’s what you should take away from this series in the end. I just wished the last book wasn’t so bogged down in so many side trips.