Shaykitteh's World of Books

A reader, reviewer, proofreader, and editor; my goal is to share my love of books with others, so this is where I will be posting my reviews!

Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling

Back in 2008, I picked up this pretty hardcover book, which not only has the benefit of expanding upon the Harry Potter universe but the proceeds also go to charity. During a move, the book got packed away and I forgot about it, finding it again during a recent move, stored in the box it has probably been in for almost a decade.

 

First, the cover is flat-out gorgeous, and the purple lettering of the title and author name shimmers in the light. But what's inside is even better.

 

The tales are mostly new, however the last story - about the three brothers - will be familiar to anyone who read the Harry Potter books. Dumbledore's commentary after each tale is awesome, giving a glimpse into the history of the wizarding world, and the tales - similar to Muggle fairy tales - are enjoyable to read.

 

If you're a fan of Harry Potter and somehow haven't read this book yet, I highly recommend it!

 

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3JK4QGFO2NDDB

Review: The Wicked + The Divine Book 3 - Commercial Suicide

The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide - Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie

I'm so sad, because after loving the first two collections in this series, this third volume was a disappointment. With Laura gone, the tie binding the stories together is missing, leaving us adrift, the tales disjointed. The jarring sensation is aggravated by the change in the art style from story to story, and it just doesn't work for me. The artwork in the Morrigan's story was beautiful, but that was really the only part of this volume that compared to the first two collections.

 

The biggest crime is the lack of forward momentum. We left off volume two gasping in horror and shock, but instead of carrying the story forward, volume three just sort of falters, and the drive just isn't there anymore. It's like someone decided that we needed to take a break in the excitement to fill what happened earlier, and while it's interesting to learn who the gods were before and more about what they're doing now, the pacing just doesn't feel right.

 

I'll continue reading this series, but I really hope that volume four goes back to the beautiful artwork and fast-paced storyline that I enjoyed so much in the first two volumes.

 

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R935JQXJCPFY0

Review: The Circle

The Circle - Dave Eggers

Set in a time not too far in the future, a company named The Circle has gobbled up Facebook, Google, Twitter, and pretty much any other company you can think of. Being an employee - a Circler - is the dream of many, including Mae Holland. When her friend Annie gets Mae a job in Customer Experience, we're dropped straight into the crazy world on the Circle Campus.

 

The Circle seems to be a great company to work for at first. With a fun, laid-back atmosphere, free food, music, and surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds around, it seems like a dream come true.

 

The truth starts creeping in. Not only is Mae required to answer customer questions, but she is also required to have a social media presence, promote products and convince people to buy them, and is she misses one of the many company events and parties, even for a family emergency, her dedication to the company is questioned.

 

Things soon escalate, and soon having a private life is not only scorned, but may become illegal.

 

This is a fascinating book; watching the loss of individual freedom start slowly before quickly landsliding into a world where secrets are lies. The downside of the book lies in the characters themselves. Mae is so brainwashed that she's unable to see the consequences of her actions. Annie is great... But then she just kinda drops off the map, becoming an afterthought... It seemed apparent that the author used her as a plot device to introduce Mar into the world but didn't really know how to complete her story... The ending for Annie just seems a little lazy. The three "Wise Men" fascinated me, and in some cases their actions and reactions saved a scene. Mae's parents and Mercer were just too extreme in their reactions... Especially Mercer. There was no middle ground, with all of the characters either enthralled by or horrified with the Circle. 

Overall, the plot was interesting and I'm glad I read it, but the characters were the weakest part of the story.

 

*Library Copy *

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3E4J1X4T15D3F

Review: CTRL ALT REVOLT!

Ctrl Alt Revolt! - Nick Cole

Picking up Nick Cole's CTRL-ALT-REVOLT!, I was instantly hooked from the first line, which promised a "robots take over the world" type plot, but with a sense of humor. The author follows through on that promise, giving us an adventure of Thinking Machine versus Human, complete with assassins, gamers, and pop culture references. I absolutely loved the StarFleet Empires (Star Trek) online game scenes, often wishing I could skip over the more mundane (is it more mundane when robots are trying to kill humanity?) parts to see more of the battle between Jason Dare and Mara, between the Federation and the Romulans.

I love how the author takes so many seemingly separate stories and intertwines them together into one tale. We start with the Thinking Machines planning to take over the world, are introduced to Fish and his new game design, meet Mara and are brought into the Romulan side of the battle, and from where the author brings in other characters, other sides to the story, and hooks the reader with every step, finding something to interest everyone.

Can the Federation and the Romulans work together to fight a greater evil? Will Ninety-Nine Fishbein survive the megalodon? Can our unlikely heroine come into her own and take command? Everything comes together as the Thinking Machines learn war through our own games... but the only hope may be in the games themselves! Stay turned to find out what happens next... except that you'll just need to play this mini-game first, okay?

Actually, do you want to know what happens next? Go buy the book!

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3T63SEZEOU79Q

Review: Blink

Blink (Utility Company Book 1) - Paul K. Swardstrom, Will Swardstrom, Ellen Langas Campbell

The story started with a blink.

Some may say that the story started with a failed science experiment, or perhaps an experiment that was TOO successful, or even a dry spot on a forehead. In reality, however, the story really does start with that first blink. Looking into the mirror, Nik sees himself blink...and from there, the authors transport us into a wild adventure that crosses dimensions; full of espionage, terrorism, and a whole lot of moments that made me just hold my breath, wondering how Agent Smith was going to get out of this

BLINK is written by two brothers, Will and Paul Swardstrom, and the neat thing about it is that you can't tell it was written by two different people. Their thoughts mesh really well together, giving us well-developed characters full of life, love...hatred too. There are enough twists in the tale to keep even a jaded reader amused, plus an amazing amount of world development, especially when you realize that they really had to create two Earths and provide political and sociological context for what was happening in Earth 2.

I giggled at many of the puns, especially the wording of the agents' names. For example: Agents Smith & Wesson. Johnson & Johnson. Wall & Street. Can you tell they had just a little too much fun with this? And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their humor and wordplay.

This is a book that I didn't want to put down, even when life got in the way. As it is, it's currently 2:27 a.m. while I'm writing this, and while I should be sleeping, instead I'm pouring out my thoughts to share how much I enjoyed this book. The good news is that the authors are planning to write more in this universe, so I know that the adventure isn't over, just paused.

Now, before I go to sleep, I have to finish covering the mirrors in my house. I wouldn't want to see myself blink, after all...

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/RF6I0OWXTN3KY

Review: The Control

The Control - Will Swardstrom

When is it too much to trust blindly in your gods?

Is it when they ask you to obey them?
Is it when they ask you to die for them?
Or could it be when they ask you to live.. forever?

Bek was once a simple man until he was given the gift of immortality, but doomed to die over and over again, just to be brought back to die again, never reaching peace. I really loved watching him evolve from a simple man who followed others through to the end of the story, watching his growth through his struggles.

Though this is a short story, the author really packs in a great tale, making you want to read more, becoming fascinated by the characters and the ideas behind them.

*I first read this story as part of the Immortality Chronicles*

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R36K7O0OGCKUZ2

Review: The Diatomic Quantum Flop

The Diatomic Quantum Flop - Daniel Arthur Smith

A trip that can let you affect time itself... what would you do? Four college friends are faced with this dilemma as they learn to tap the Tibetan Kalachakra Time Travel Tantra.

The Diatomic Quantum Flop is a story that constantly evolves as I read it. Originally, when I read it as part of the Time Travel Chronicles, I wasn't sure what I felt about the story. I liked it, but I couldn't pinpoint why. After reading through it again, I decided that this is a story that will leave you thinking about the possibilities hidden within the human mind while simultaneously wondering what happens next. Though it's a little silly and chaotic, it's a story designed to make you think.

I received this book as a gift from the author.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2RJZX60EIPA3M

Review: Extant

Extant: A Time Travel Short Story - Anthony Vicino
I originally read Extant, by Anthony Vicino, as part of the Time Travel Chronicles (Future Chronicles) and it was a wonderful book to start out the collection with, and to this day it is probably one of the stories that stands out in my mind the most from the collection... and that's saying a lot, because ALL of the stories in that collection were good. Extant is something special, though, giving us a look into a complex universe that I want to learn more about.

In this short story, the author takes us into a world where the gifted can freeze time, race through it, or blink to the past. With all powers, there are those who want to use them for their own gain - but when a young woman is kidnapped, can rest of her team save her? With all good stories, not everything is perfect, even powers that allow you to relive and change time. Can knowing that you're saving the world make up for the horrifying consequences?
Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/RL101F5DHSNBQ

Review: Alt. History 102

Alt.History 102 (The Future Chronicles) - Rysa Walker, Hank Garner, Therin Knite, Drew Avera, Will Swardstrom, Artie Cabrera, Alex Roddie, Samuel Peralta, Jennifer Ellis, J.C. Brown

At one point or another, we've all dreamed of what could have happened...perhaps what should have happened. The two words that instantly spark the imagination: what if? In Alt. History 102, twelve authors expand upon those words and take us into alternate words, histories and futures alike, changed by perhaps one word or one action.

 

Jennifer Ellis' "The Most Beautiful Woman" starts us out with a story of Hedy Lamarr and Hitler. What if someone had actually recognized Hedy's genius and put her in a place where her actions could alter a war? The struggle to be recognized for who we are, rather than taken at face-value, is something that deeply resonated with me.

 

"Requiem" by Will Swardstorm takes us into another war, this one starring Mozart and Marie Antoinette. This was probably one of my favorite stories in the collection because in the midst of death and despair, the altered actions of Mozart actually bring hope to some who might otherwise be no one.

 

"Diablo Del Mar" by Artie Cabrera was...strange. Honestly, I enjoyed this story but I'm not sure why. It's a mixture of myths and beliefs, taking history as we know it and pulling it into the mystical. Perhaps the fact that I still have no idea what really happened, or what will happen, is what draws me to this story.

 

Rysa Walker's "Whack Job" reminds me that I really need to read the CHRONOS series. This story provides enough background that it can be read as a standalone, but the two other short stories that I have read in this series make me want to immerse myself into the whole adventure. "Whack Job" shows us that you can travel back into time and change the world...but should you?

 

"Drought" by J.E. Mac is an alternate history of water rights in California. Since my husband is from California and I get to hear his complaints about Southern CA "stealing" the water from Northern CA, and with the current drought conditions experiences throughout the entire state, this story rings true on so many levels. I found the politics and characterizations fascinating.

 

Asha Badron takes us into an alternate history where Hannibal destroyed Rome and Carthage survived. With two aliens stranded, playing the part of gods, "The Elissiad" leads us through the story to one left behind.

 

"The Tesla Gate" takes us into the mind of Nikola Tesla as he frantically tries to complete a time travel machine. With Samuel Clemens guest starring in the tale, Drew Avera really manages to make the readers feel the desperation and hopelessness of two men fighting against time. The twist at the end was fascinating, making me hope that the author will continue the story of Alokin.

 

With the increase of online colleges and the rising cost of student loans, it isn't too far of a stretch to imagine a world where all schooling is done through corporations. Adam Venezia's "The Black Network" shows us what could happen if that future comes to pass and students have to indenture themselves to get an education. Can one man stand against them all and make the internet free again?

 

Hank Garner's "The Visitation" was another favorite. He takes the story of the mystic, the soothsayer, and the truthteller and portrays him as a drunk, someone just trying to get by in a world where no one believes his story. Behind eyes blurred by drink and nerves shot, the truth waits: what happens when a powerful race grows tired of watching history repeat itself?

 

In the quest for a cure, a scientist is searching for someone with perfect skin in the hope to find the genetic code to unlock immunity. In this alternate world where Europeans were the ones almost decimated by smallpox, "The Finest Mask" by J.J. Brown is flat-out creepy if you think too hard on the mask Sir William Potter's wife is wearing.

 

"The Blackbird Sings" by Therin Knite takes us into an alternate present where the Cold War turned hot, leading to ruin. Thirty years after the nuclear assault, the FBI is on a mission to hunt down a terrorist determined to bring the world back to the brink of collapse.

 

Alex Roddie ends the collection with "The Locked Web," showing us what the world might be if the World Wide Web and microcomputers were never created, leaving the internet in the hands of a controlling government. It's hard to believe that in some places, censorship as shown in this story actually does exist today, making this story even more frightening, fueling the imagination with the thought of being locked up for daring to communicate thoughts and ideas.

 

Alt. History 102 is the second alternate history collection released by Samuel Peralta, and like all of his collections it's an introduction to a wonderful group of authors. While each story is a complete tale in itself, showing us what the world could be if a person or detail were changed, it also opens the reader up to so many other worlds out there, brought to life by the minds of the authors featured in this collection.

 

4 1/2 Stars

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R37MEN6GFM2U69

Finally getting back to reading!

So... A couple of weeks ago we had a pretty bad ice/snowstorm here, and I slipped and fell. The end result was pulled muscles all down my left side: shoulder, arm, and back. For one week, the pain was bad enough that I essentially zoned out watching television. Since then, I've been playing catch-up on work and starting to read again, but holding a book (even a kindle) for too long strains my left arm since an old injury means that I can't hold anything with my right hand for too long without it cramping up!

 

This has been a depressing month for someone who loves to read.

 

But that's why you haven't seen as many reviews as normal from me. Hopefully I'll be healed up soon! I have an appointment with a new doctor this week so I can hopefully figure out if it's anything more serious than just pulled muscles.

Review: Apocalypta Z

Apocalypta Z - Maer Wilson

I've read a number of zombie novels, but this was probably one of the most unique. Told partly from the point of view of a poodle puppy, we're not only able to see the apocalypse from a human perspective, but also through the eyes of an animal.

 

That's not the only thing that makes this story unique. About 50% of the way into the story, we start to learn what caused the zombies to appear, and it's not what I would have expected!

 

Maddie, Nick, Cienna, and Chloe are a wonderful bunch of main characters. But the book isn't full of just good people and animals. Just like in real life, there are selfish idiots, drunks, and violent gangs... Luckily, the majority want to work together to survive, which gives us a breath of hope throughout the entire story.

 

Even if you're burned out by the surplus of zombie everything that has been made in recent years, I suggest you give this book a try. It's a fresh and fun look into the end of the world.

 

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1R3VVE7LEWHPT

Review: Lonely is the Night

Lonely is the Night: A Short Story - Christopher Holliday

When a group of college grads and undergrads manage to create a wormhole, John volunteers as a human guinea pig to test the wormhole before funding is cut. After all, what can go wrong?

In this brilliant short story, we follow along with John on his journey... but where he goes is the real story. Is it a parallel world? Time travel? Or simply distance? I'm left to wonder if the timing of the wormhole is a coincidence...

Well written with enough mystery to keep you pondering the events past the ending of the story itself, this is a fun and interesting story that I will certainly be recommending.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/RI2VUG25W9HIU

Review: This Long Vigil

This Long Vigil (A Short Story) - Rhett Bruno

Wow... Just wow.

A number of people I know had mentioned this author as someone I needed to read, and now I understand why. It takes a very talented writer to put such depth of emotion into a short story, especially when the characters are an A.I. and a man with no real life experience.

On a long journey, the ship Hermes must always have one thousand inhabitants... Nine hundred ninety nice in a type of hibernation, and one conscious to care for them and to be a set of hands for the ship's artificial intelligence. But can life, once lived in even the smallest way, be given up again for duty?

This is one of those stories that will stay in my mind for a long time.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2AJWH0TDGGXST

Review: Helix

HELIX: A SciFi Short Story - Drew Avera

The author manages to pack an exciting adventure into just a few pages in HELIX: A SciFi Short Story. Set in a future where humanity has abandoned Earth in the quest for a place to live in peace, two boys have to work together to try to save themselves, their families, and the others on the ship.

This is a great coming-of-age novel, with a surprising amount of character development. I would love to see more set in this same universe. While this story is complete in itself, I can easily see the author expanding the story of the Helix, Ben, and Grant into a full-length story or collection of shorts.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R12LJ4RIP93QSF

Review: Star Wars: Smuggler's Run

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure (Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: the Force Awakens) - Greg Rucka, Phil Noto

Set almost immediately after the events in A New Hope, this is a fun, action-packed adventure starring Han Salo and Chewbacca. While there aren't any real hints of the events in The Force Awakens, it's fun to see more of these characters, including how reluctant Han is to be associated with the rebels at this point in the tale.

 

I also enjoyed learning more about Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon. Yes, we see them in the movies, but sometimes reading gives more details of the inner workings than you are able to see on screen. Plus, the book takes us into Chewie's thoughts a few times, which is an added bonus!

 

Well-written, this story really brings the characters and the adventure to life. It feels like it fits in perfectly with the the time and the rest of the Star Wars universe.

 

*Library Copy*

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2RH9YQWZACZ4F

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Novelization)

The Force Awakens (Star Wars) - Alan Dean Foster

No spoilers!

 

As a novelization based off of the screenplay, this book doesn't quite have the impact of the movie, but it gives some interesting insights into the characters and their motivations. I really really liked being able to get inside Kylo Ren's head... He is honestly my favorite character, not because I necessarily like him, but because I find him fascinating, and this novelization added so much more depth. There are a new changes that were obviously made for filming, mostly things that were cut for time so it's nice to have this to expand somewhat on the scenes. There are also a few points made here that explain questions brought up during the movie in regards to how someone was able to do something, or what happened next to specific characters... I can't get into details without spoilers, though.

 

This is one of the rare cases where I like the movie more than the book (I loved the movie!) but this is a good supplemental resource.

 

Source: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3N25KQIK8Q44C

Currently reading

Imager's Battalion: The Sixth Book of the Imager Portfolio by Modesitt, L. E.(October 29, 2013) Mass Market Paperback by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Solstice by Jane Redd
China: The Flense (Volume 1) by Saul Tanpepper
The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
Progress: 24%
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman