Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hunger Games meets Zombieland...but with Vampires!

Author: Andrew Fukuda
Websites: Official Website for Book

Violence, Gore

Survival Rule #1: Don't do anything to stand out. 
Oh well, nice try Andrew Fukuda, but I'm afraid you blew it on the very first rule! Now that Mr. Fukuda has made the mistake of distinguishing himself through his excellent writing, dangerously drawing vampire attention to himself, I'll continue sharing the survival rules with the rest of the class.

Rule #2: Read The Hunt, by the aforementioned Andrew Fukuda!

The Hunt is the second vampire book I've read that doesn't actually use the word "vampire". (The other one is Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.) And both are among my short list for tops in the genre. Though, aside from the existence of blood suckers, neither book shares much in common with say, Twilight. The Hunt really is more like the movie Zombieland - the world is overrun with the undead and almost no humans remain. The human protagonist shares his rules for surviving in such a deadly world. In this case, he has to try to blend in and pretend that he is actually just a regular vampire like everyone else. Like Zombieland, Fukuda's story maintains a sort of surreal lightheartedness in spite of the fact that death is literally just a sneeze away. (Click here for your "Real Vampires Don't Have Allergies" T-shirt!)

Almost all joking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. And I don't want to give the wrong impression about the book's tone. There isn't a single moment when you forget that the protagonist is surrounded at all times by people who would rip him to shreds in two seconds if they knew what he was. Not when he's at swim practice with the blood suckers. Not even when he's playing spin the bottle and is forced to go into a closet and neck with the hottest girl in school who also happens to be a spawn of Dracula. He is always on guard and so was I when I was reading it. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reading Article 5 is NOT Mandatory

Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Read Chapter 1

Some violence and adult situations

After some undefined war, the United States has been taken over by an extreme religious right government and the Bill of Rights is replaced by the "Articles of Reformation". The new moral laws are enforced by the militaristic Federal Bureau of Reformation, known to the general public by the derogatory term Moral Militia. Ember Miller, a seventeen year old girl, is taken into custody as her mother is arrested for  violating Article 5 by conceiving a child outside of marriage. Among the unit sent to arrest them is Ember's childhood friend and first love, Chase Jennings. Ember is taken to a rehabilitation center run by the Sisters of Salvation, from which she plots her escape. Her only goal is to find and rescue her mother, and the entire story revolves around her attempts to do so and her now conflicted feelings for Chase.

I couldn't wait to read this book. A tyrannical government is imposing its views of morality on the populace? A small band of resistors are fighting back while a young woman finds herself thrust into the middle of the fight for human liberty? Count me in! I just love me some dystopia!

Make that: I just love me some good dystopia! And that's where Article 5 loses me.

The concept is a good one. And considering the way our governments continue to shred our liberties and trample on our human rights, the topic is timely and important. But the execution just wasn't there. Simmons doesn't give enough detail to construct a real, tangible world. There wasn't enough action to make it a quality adventure story and some aspects of the story weren't quite believable.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Holly Black is a Curse Worker

Black Heart (The Curse Workers Book #3)
Author: Holly Black

Some violence, language, 
sexual content, drinking

There is absolutely nothing that I dislike about Black Heart or the rest of the Curse Workers series! Holly Black is one of my favorite authors. She hooked me with the Tithe series and gave me no room to wiggle off the line with her current film-noir-mixed-with-some-paranormal crime drama.

****Alert: Since this a review for book three of a series, it contains spoilers for anyone who hasn't read White Cat and Red Glove. If you find yourself in that unenviable position, you need to immediately step away from your computer, use the fastest means of transportation available to you, and get yourself to a bookstore so you can begin reading what is sure to become one of your favorite series. (If you're new to Holly Black, then you've got even more catching up to do. Don't miss out on Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside!) 

Now back to the review. Cassel Sharpe is an eminently sympathetic character. He's a loyal friend/brother/son. He has a surprisingly strong sense of right and wrong, considering he was raised in a family of supernatural thieves and con artists. A family which lied to him and made him believe he was the black sheep without the power to alter people's memories, make them fall in love, or kill them with a single touch. He was the outcast since he wasn't a "Curse Worker". Just one problem: He is a curse worker. And not just any curse worker, but a transformation worker. He has the ability to turn you into anyone or anything he wants. So they used him to commit murders and to transform his best friend and only girl he ever loved into a cat, then erased his memory of it (White Cat). In attempt to set things straight his mom, the emotion worker, curses the girl to fall in love with him. So now he can't be with her because he knows it's not real and refuses to take advantage of the situation (Red Glove). It's amazing that he doesn't go on a psychopathic rampage transforming everyone into beanbag chairs!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Been Away...Still Am

Just wanted to let y'all know why I haven't been posting lately. My wife and I bought a house and so we've been spending as much time as possible getting it ready for our move. We're getting things done and we're moving soon. So before long I'll be giving you more of those reviews, soundtracks, and videos that hopefully aren't causing your eyes and ears to bleed...unless you like that sort of thing! My next review if going to be for the book Black Heart, which is book 3 of the Curse Workers series by Holly Black. If you haven't read books 1 and 2 (White Cat and Red Glove), go get those books. You won't be disappointed! Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Black Heart Soundtrack

Enjoy this soundtrack for Black Heart and the rest of the Curse Workers series by Holly Black.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Burnout Soundtrack - Spotify

Here's the Spotify version of the Burnout soundtrack.
Same songs. Better player.

BZRK Soundtrack - Now on Spotify

I've switched over to Spotify for my Soundtracks. wasn't working as well as I liked. It wasn't playing in the blog and said you had to click over to their site to listen to the playlist. Anyway, I hope this works better. Drop a comment and let me know if everything is working. Also, please let me know where I dropped the ball. What songs should I have included?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Buffy meets Blade

Title: Every Other Day
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Tags: young adult, paranormal, action, preternatural, psychic, telepathy, chupacabra, zombie, hellhound, vampire, dragon, basilisk, biomedical research, Darwin, hydra, alternate history, science fiction, suspense, family, friendship
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Publisher: Egmont USA
ISBN-10: 1-60684-169-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-60684-169-3


Read an excerpt: Chapter 1

This book would probably be PG-13. There are no language or sex issues. The violence raises this to PG-13, but no higher.

Kali D'Angelo is just your average teenage girl...except when she's not. Every other day, Kali is something else, something stronger. A nearly indestructible hunter who is driven to slay monsters, despite all the governmental regulations protecting preternatural creatures. Then she meets Bethany Davis: daughter of her father's boss, cheerleader, high school queen bee, soon to be victim of the chupacabra which has marked her for death. Kali has less than a day to save this girl. Unfortunately it's the wrong day.

I thought the concept for Every Other Day was clever. I've seen plenty of inhumanly strong heroines, but I've never met a character who alternated between human and superhuman. And Jennifer Lynn Barnes executes the concept very well. It's got a good mix of action, character development, and world building. I'm not a huge fan of the alternate history element in this story, but that wasn't a major sticking point for me.