Category Archives: Reviews

Book reviews

Book Review: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Rating: Center Centaur
Rating: Center Centaur

I finally got to reading Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy. If you’re looking for the fast version of my take on it: I’d say it’s pretty good. It’s not awesome like the first one was, but it’s still a good story. The ending is actually really cool, and the ending is why I am giving it a Center Centaur rating rather than a Grumbling Gargoyle. So, that’s the quick assessment. Here’s why and where I am coming from on it: Continue reading Book Review: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Book Review: Starship Grifters, by Robert Kroese

Rating: Hot Princess
Rating: Hot Princess

Damn, I laughed.

I know that’s probably not the most professional way to start a book review, but, I think it’s more important to be honest than it is to follow protocol. This book is just freaking hilarious. The funny thing is (okay, the book is the funny thing, but you know what I mean) the whole story is woven together by total absurdity, yet it totally works. It’s like slapstick meets equivocation meets, well, as many logical fallacies as can possibly be combined to make the most implausible situation plausible. And yet it this book, this author, carries it off.  Continue reading Book Review: Starship Grifters, by Robert Kroese

Book Review: Jet, by Russell Blake

Book Review: Jet, by Russell Blake

Rating: Hot Princess
Rating: Hot Princess

I don’t read action spy adventure type stuff very often. At least not contemporary shoot-em-up types. In fact, to give you a sense of how long ago it was that I read one, I think the last one I read was The Firm or The Pelican Brief or something like that. So that should tell you something. Frankly, I was as surprised I was reading one as anyone who knows me or reads my reviews might be. Continue reading Book Review: Jet, by Russell Blake

Book Review: Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Epic Dragon
Rating: Epic Dragon

Book Review: Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

In short, Cloud Atlas is a freaking beautiful book. I have not enjoyed reading a book this much in a long time (as you can probably tell simply by the long period of time that has passed since my last book review). The artistry and craftsmanship are stunning, and reading it is joyous as both a reader of books and writer of them. So often did I gape into the open pages of this fine work, seething with envy for Mitchell’s clever and poetic awesomeness, that I ended up having to read with a bib because I was soaking my shirts with drool. His prose rocks. End of story.

So, glowing adulation over, I’ll get to something more meaningful for those who might have not read it yet and are looking for one guy’s careful consideration of the books pros and cons. There aren’t many cons, but I’ll toss the one I had out as part of what comes below. But, pros first. Continue reading Book Review: Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Book Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Rating: Hot Princess

Book Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

As you may have noticed in the review immediately preceding this one, I bought this book in the emotional wake of having finished book one, The Hunger Games, of this series. I liked Catching Fire too, though not as much as the first one. The first one has such a great pace, I think a sequel would have had to be unfathomably mind-blowing to be better, much less “as good.” So, with that in mind, I definitely recommend this one to anyone who liked book one and is wondering if book two is worth it. It is. Continue reading Book Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Book Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Rating: Epic Dragon

Book Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Let me start by saying, “Wow.” I will follow that up by saying, “Holy crap and just, wow again.” What an awesome book. I have not sat down to a novel that compelled me to finish it in less than a day for years. I just don’t read novels like that anymore. I read them for two hours here and three hours there during the week, spending other reading time on articles, marketing stuff, or various research content. Add in reading my own writing for revisions, and, well, I just don’t crank out a book a day like I used to.

But I did with this one. (Just look how long it’s been since I posted the last review—one day!) Continue reading Book Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Book Review: Unnatural Selection, by Thomas Pryce

Rating: Center Centaur

Book Review: Unnatural Selection, by Thomas Pryce

This book has some of the best, most entertaining and even-laugh-out loud similes I’ve read in a long, long time. Thomas Pryce is a guy who has such a deft voice and a broad reach when it comes to comparative statements, I found myself completely envious. There’s so many it’s hard to pick even just one to show, but I’ll go with this one, since I think I liked it best, and I don’t think it will ruin anything for you:

Even more telling, the other dog had stopped barking, and now circled sheepishly, its tail pinned tightly between its legs. You’d think it’d just seen the K-9 equivalent of a ghost, an apparition of Michael Vick holding jumper cables perhaps.

That’s just one out of many. Many! I read through this book and just kept getting these little hits of joy from that sort of stuff, and it was from that stuff that I found my main enjoyment of the novel. Continue reading Book Review: Unnatural Selection, by Thomas Pryce

Book Review: On Canaan’s Side, by Sebastian Barry

Rating: Hot Princess

Book Review: On Canaan’s Side, by Sebastian Barry

I have to say, when I first saw this book (I was given it as a gift by a friend), I looked at the cover and thought, Oh crap. This is going to suck. Without repeating tired book cover clichés, I was wrong. On Canaan’s Side, by Sebastian Barry is an absolutely gorgeous book. The prose are beautiful, fluid and visual. Barry absolutely makes language stand up and march about, and he compels it to do his will with a facility that approaches greatness. It might even be great, although 1) I’m not sure I’m qualified to determine such things, and 2) the story itself was a bit of a downer, so I think I may have lost some love on that count. But downer or not, this is what good writing looks like, and I always enjoy watching someone at work who has such a wonderful command of language. Continue reading Book Review: On Canaan’s Side, by Sebastian Barry

Book Review: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

Rating: Grumbling Gargoyle

Book Review: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

This book was tough for me. I had a really hard time getting into it, and actually stopped twice during the first hundred and thirty pages and read other books (one is the last review I did, the other was Of Mice and Men, which I was tempted to review, but decided not to because everyone already knows that book is amazing anyway). All that said, I think in ways, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion is a beautiful book. I think the writing is wonderful. It’s just that the story started slow for me. And the ending, well, let’s just say the last two pages were so completely unsatisfying I can hardly articulate how vexed I was. Continue reading Book Review: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

Book Review: Quarter Share, by Nathan Lowell

Rating: Center Centaur

Book Review: Quarter Share, by Nathan Lowell

Nathan Lowell’s novel Quarter Share is a very pleasant read. It’s about a young man named Ishmael (yes, Ishmael like in Moby-Dick, and the author is having some fun with that), who, through an unfortunate set of events, finds himself suddenly on his own and forced to leave the “nest” as it were. He seeks his fortune on a space freighter, and the novel is underway following that experience.

I think the best part about this book is that it is a place to go and spend some time. It is a setting in which you can drop right in and experience what is happening in a very real-seeming way. Lowell is meticulous in his construction of the ship and real duties performed by its crew. I’m not a bio-tech or an engineer, or even a coffee connoisseur, but it’s all rendered very believable for me. Much of this book, in its authentic feel, speak of a fine eye for detail, a mechanical bent and real experience or at the very least research on the part of this author (in the back of the book a short bio on Lowell tells of a career in the United States Coast Guard, which is the root of the perspective he brings to this book). Continue reading Book Review: Quarter Share, by Nathan Lowell