Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ready Player One

This one came my way via my father, Gamer Dad-- trading book recommendations has been one of our best ways of staying connected since I so cruelly went to college in another state and then stayed there. :P

Rating: 4 stars
Length: Moderate (374 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: June 5, 2012 from Broadway Books
Premise: Five years ago, an eccentric billionaire died and left his entire fortune, as well as control of the most powerful corporation in the world, to whomever could find the Easter egg hidden in his virtual reality. No one has found more than a scrap of a clue until an egg-hunter calling himself Parzival reaches the Bronze Key, kicking this half-dead world into a frenzy.
Warnings: offscreen murder and mass murder, suicidal plans
Recommendation: If you're at all a fan of 1980s pop culture, nerd subcultures in general, or virtual reality, pick this one up. It's a little black-and-white on the morality scale, but in a delightfully over-the-top way that it's hard not to love.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Rithmatist

I read Elantris several months ago and have been meaning to delve more deeply into Sanderson ever since, so I couldn't resist taking a look at his venture into the young adult section.

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Moderate (378 pages in hardback)
Publication: May 14, 2013 from Tor Teen
Premise: Joel Saxon wants, more than anything else, to be a Rithmatist, but he missed the opportunity to gain that mysterious power. He spends every free hour he can spare from classes in normal subjects to dream of fighting duels with chalk. When he becomes a summer research assistant to a Rithmatics professor, he finds himself helping in a murder investigation without the power to defend himself.
Warnings: fantasy violence that's horrifying but not gory
Recommendation: If you're looking for a lighter dose of Sanderson and don't mind the younger tone, give this one a try-- I whipped through it in the course of a long afternoon. This volume establishes a good magic system and springboards into what promises to be a fun series, though I wouldn't recommend springing for it in hardback unless you know middle-schoolers who need a good gateway to his work for adult readers. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rosemary and Rue

I came to this series by way of one my new video-reviewer addictions: Sursum Ursa, whose first review was of Grand Central Arena, also the subject of one of my own posts from last year. I think I'm a little pickier than she is, on the whole, but her commentary on really everything in the Stuff You Like series is on-point and funny. Give her a try!

Rating: 3.5 stars
Length: Moderate (346 pages)
Publication: September 1, 2009 from DAW
Premise: October Daye used to walk the line between two worlds as a changeling, but when the world of fae causes her to lose everything she loves in the human world, she withdraws from both. But the death of an old friend draws her back into the game-- the dying curse of Countess Evening Winterrose binds October to either find Evening's killer....or her own death.
Warnings: mild gore, implied torture, implied sexual abuse
Recommendation: The worldbuilding in Rosemary and Rue is quite strong, and the heroine realistically reads as older and jaded-but-hopeful. It can spend a little too much time getting lost in angst or side characters, but it's a solid series beginning and definitely worth a look.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prince of Thorns

Recommendation thanks for this one go to Agent Churchill, who's been singing its praises to me for quite a while now. Starkiller (who previously recommended The Age of Ra) did me the favor of checking this over for spoilers and is plotting a worldbuilding debate at our next encounter.

Rating: 4 stars
Length: Thorough but concise (336 pages)
Publication: August 2, 2011 from Ace Books
Premise: Prince Jorg was nine when he was strung up on a thorn bush to watch his mother and little brother die. Now he's fourteen and in command of a group of ruthless mercenaries who he keeps under control by being more dangerous than they are. When he returns to his childhood home, he rejects comfort in favor of more brutal challenges.
Warnings: torture, threats of torture, non-graphic rape (both present and in backstory), mass murder, gore, cannibalism.....Look, the main character doesn't rape or murder children, or cross the line from massacre into genocide, but this is grim stuff. Make sure you have a strong stomach if you're going into this.
Recommendation: If you're looking for an antihero and are done having patience for the ones who angst, Princes of Thorns manages a tightly-paced and grim adventure with digressions into "so, that just went there." It's dark and uncompromising and just works once it gets going, though the first few chapters are a little rough. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


My "no hardbacks" policy has finally met its end. I had enough trouble waiting for The Rook to come out in paperback, and as I put more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I'd like to be able to stay current with new releases.

Rating: 3 stars
Length: Average (429 pages in hardback with ridiculously large print and line spacing)
Publication: May 7, 2013 from Little, Brown
Premise: When she was a baby, Dol lost her entire family on the Day. The Icons came from the sky and killed people everywhere, and she still has no idea why she's alive. When she's about to learn more about what makes her different, she and her friend Furo are ripped from their home in the wilderness Mission and brought to the Embassy, where they find few answers in comparison to the torrent of new questions.
Warnings: psychological and limited physical torture, sudden death
Recommendation: If you have a soft spot for stories about aliens suddenly descending from the skies of Earth and taking over, this might be your thing; it's a little generic, but not bad.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Fair warning that this review has gotten a little....emphatic down in the red pen section. This is far from the worst book I've ever read, but finishing it was a Sisyphean uphill battle wherein I was Sisyphus and the rock was yet another exposition-laden passage that made absolutely no sense.

Rating: 2 stars
Length: Exceedingly long (480 pages in trade paperback)
Publication: March 9, 2010 from Viking Press
Premise: Sister Evangeline has been living peacefully in St. Rose Convent for years, trying to find a quiet life and forget the strange happenings of her childhood. Then a seemingly ordinary research inquiry leads her to discover a strange letter in the convent's archives. When she meets the researcher and starts asking questions about her family's true business, she's drawn into forms of danger that she can hardly begin to understand.
Warnings: implied torture, gore
Recommendation: If you really, really need to read something with evil angels in it, there are worse alternatives. Otherwise, this might serve best as a sleep aid.

I did my level best to avoid spoilers, but a few vague ones have made it into the red pen section.