Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Division Zero Book One

Genre: Scifi/Action/fantasy
Book Rating: 10
Personal Rating: 10

I love mysteries.  I love humor.  I love action.  I love scifi.  And… I love this book.  It was just fun to read.  The characters had depth, nothing flat in these pages.  They all had very different personalities.  Even the minor characters were interesting.  The plot moved along quite well.  I do a lot of skimming when I read books, for two reasons, one I just don’t have that gift of stretching a plot out for pages so I skim over what I can’t write, secondly, that stuff I can’t write I usually have no interested in reading (which is probably why I can’t write it.  Yeah I suck—but enough about me).  Even a perfect ten does not escape my skim speed read technique.  This book has the distinction of my least amount of page scanning for the year.  That is how much I loved this book.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Everlands Chronicles: The Truth
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Author: A. J. Bell
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Book Rating: 8.3
Personal Rating: 7.5

This book is brilliant.  Right from the very first pages you’re sucked into the world and brought into the precarious situation of the main character.  Even without actually knowing just what it is.  A sense of mystery and intrigue are laid out rather well.  I did enjoy reading this book, but on the other hand I didn’t.  It was a masterful work of fiction but it had some flaws nothing worthy of diminishing its awesomeness.  And speaking of awesomeness lets get into the good stuff.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Basement

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Author:  David Podlipny
Genre: Poetry/short story/Fiction
Book Rating: 6.5
Personal Rating: 6.5

Where to begin here.  Lets just say that this read like it had somewhere to go but was being intentionally illusive of the prize.  There seemed to be a point floating somewhere amongst the short stories and poems, probably about death and the banality of life, but it was deliberately covered up in some sort of overexerted agenda.  Almost as if the book was written with a pen that said ‘if you’re not smart enough to understand me, you’re an idiot.  And I can’t be bothered to explain it to you.’ That’s pretty much how I felt reading this.  Like it was intentionally designed to be ambiguous but rather than coming off as 'brilliantly aloof', it read more like it was just 'aloof' and floating in 'nowhere' while trying to say 'I’m going somewhere' and that I the reader was just too dumb to figure it out.  Lets start with the short stories.

Terran Psychosis
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Author Websites

Author: Christopher D. Votey
Genre: Scifi/humor
Book Rating: 7.7
Personal Rating: 7.5

I started of thinking ‘oh this is different.’  I knew this was a short book and the first of a series so I also expected it to be fast, direct and to the point.  You have to be to pack a punch in under 200/100 pages.  Just think Narnia or any of the Robert Dahl books.  That being said I ultimately ended up being let down.  It seemed like it was going somewhere and ended like it was still going somewhere.  It didn’t end in a way that said ‘this is done but the story isn’t over’.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The City Center

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Author—Simone Pond
Genre—Young Adult/SciFi/Post Apocalyptic 
Book Rating—10
Personal Rating—9

What can I say about this book other than it was awesome.  It flowed perfectly.  Didn’t take too long to really get going, and the lead characters and villain had great development.  The story follows it’s lead, Ava, a teen who just doesn’t feel she fits in even though everyone thinks she more than fits in.  She doesn’t trust the system but can’t do much about it.  She was created, not birthed, into a world were reading is banded. Where all forms of technology outside of the city mainframe, like tablets, phones and the like, are banned.  No information outside that of which the city creator, Chief Morray, allows is legal.  In a world where one person controls all forms of technology, Ava finds herself doubting the authenticity of the information.

Each character is very well defined.  Chief Morray has a repulsion to the human condition so he pumps mood alteraters into the city-dome and the food to repress emotions.  He also has a problem with aging so all city dwellers, including the ten governing people of the city, retire to Ret-Hav at age 36.  A supposed tropical paradise.  The truth of that is also up in the air.  What makes this intriguing is that Morray is human himself, or is he.  There’s a certain sense of intrigue and mystery laid down at the very beginning of this novel that holds up right until the end.

Even though you know what going to happen.  Girl trapped inside an enclosed city.  Girl doesn’t follow rules.  Girl has emotions even though she was engineered just like the rest of the people in the city, there are no more real births anymore.  It’s obvious she’s going to rebel against the rule and save the day.  Yet knowing this is what is going to happen does nothing to take away from the craft of the novel.  You want to travel with her like a good Colombo movie.  You already know who the killer is, but the good part is the ‘why’.  The how.  And the why and the how in this book is crafted to pure genius.

Following Ava as she learns her true role and uncovers dark secrets that have been held for over 200 years you feel for her.  Through her emotions and awareness you begin to feel for the other people in the book.  The more you like her, the more you hate the villain.  And once you do learn the secret you realise just how serious it is for the day to be saved.

Another good thing about this novel is how it holds the cards.  You’re not immediately certain of how the world is run.  The rules and hurdles Ava face come in tiny spurts and once the foundation is laid the book just kicks into high gear as all parties are racing to come out on top of the plot.  War and double cross, and lots and lots of relaxamist (hope I spelled that correctly).  Something I really wish I could get my hands on.  It kinda made me think of that spray in ‘Muppets go to space’ that miss piggy sprayed on stubborn people to get her way; accept it was way way better.  And the beautifiers.  If only I could just press a button and have a team of people tailor me a suit out of thin air and then give my skin a magical sheen.  All in an hour or two.  From fugly to amazing in no time.

There was a lot to take away from this novel besides the perfectly crafted plot.  But one thing this book does is it doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of an 18 ear old.  Never once did she do anything that made me think hmm, that’s ridiculous (and if so it was perfectly within character).  It also doesn’t have the villain do things that don’t make sense.  He was calculating yet flawed, but determined in his goal to perfect the human race and never understood why he couldn’t eradicate some basic human traits.  I didn’t have to wreck my brain to understand when a real person was there verses a hologram.  This book just made sense.

But the book didn’t just have two characters, Joseph, the very handsome rugged unkempt outsider was a great character too.  He was Ava’s key to outside the city.  Outside the city is a world that we are comfortable with.  Regular emotions, real trees, beaches, weather that actually changes.  And it’s always nice for a characters senses to be shocked with a reality that turns their own upside down.  And Joseph was very calculated in what he revealed to Ava.  He didn’t just overload her with information.  And some things he figured she would find out in time.  And Ava reacted accordingly to his choice in giving her information, as in she acted like she was 18 and not a over hyped angst 13yearold because she just happens to be in young adult fiction.  

The difference between the real world, and the city dome world were balanced out very well.  What I liked the most about it, is that it wasn’t the run down destroyed rich versus poor thing tat pops up so much these days.  The people outside the city, which I suspected from the first chapter, are living perfectly normal well rounded lives.  This fact again brings up the question, ‘what is this big secret’ if the horrible outsiders are okay why so much effort to keep city dwellers inside the dome?

Also the fact that people do tend to use their brains is helpful--Joseph, Ava, and Morray.  The sever lack of people getting themselves into situations just to create plot drama was great.  All tight spots for all characters seemed natural and without that forced ‘I must create drama for my teen fiction’ plot devices for my book.  

The beginning did seem a bit too slow for me, but not enough to deter me.  And I did have a bit of an issue with the ending.  It just seemed a little too in my face for me.  After over a century or two of no real births and no real marriages and incubated babies, for someone to just up and be married and pregnant seemed a bit of a stretch.  She only just learned to read about seven months prior.  After 18 years of a set culture it was a little bit too fast for me.  Conditioning doesn’t usually break in a week or two.  I could understand her getting excited about sex for the first time.  But that’s mainly because even in todays world its fun, and scary, and exciting, and a whole lot of things.  But Marriage is so much bigger than that.  Kind of like how the difference between ‘god’ and ‘the creator Morray’ was not explained to Ava.  It’s complicated.  And as far as I can tell no one in the city had parents so the idea of parenthood is already difficult enough let alone adding marriage to the mix.  I would’ve rather waited for these types of things to be explained to a culture that has not experienced them for centuries in a next book than for it to just be taken for granted as acceptable.  But then again I could be all wrong.  

Also, the villain did only one thing that made me almost be like, you idiot.  When he initialised his chase for Joseph and Ava he took the innocent until proven guilty route.  Thankfully this barely lasted a page.  If he was stupid enough to keep up this face for a chapter this may not have got a ten out of me.  And what made it work was that he knew no matter how far away she got, he was able to get to her so time was not an issue.  And all information she learned could be wiped so as not to contaminate the city dwellers upon her capture.  So even though it was a stupid decision.  He was well aware, in theory, that it would do no harm to take the time to see if she was guilty.  Regardless of if that fact were obvious enough for an embryo to figure out.

I could gush about this book forever, it’s my second perfect ten on my review blog, but this is already long enough.  If you’ve ever wondered what a world without sex, with controlled and limited emotion, and relaxamist spray that can take you straight from raging beast to Zen in a millisecond, and if that world actually would indeed be better, then this book is for you.  And the fact that it’s very well written is only a bonus.  But I would be a very, very bad reviewer if I didn’t mention this particular piece of information.  When planning an escape, always remember to wear your shoes.


The City Center is a fast-paced science fiction adventure that will appeal to young adults and seasoned readers. During the man-made apocalypse in the 21st century, a group of elites killed off a majority of the population. Only two groups of survivors remained - those selected to reside inside the utopian Los Angeles City Center and the rebels, relegated to live on the Outside. Centuries later, Ava Rhodes escapes the City Center and goes on a journey to seek the truth about her supposed utopian home, sending the City Center’s leader, Chief Morray, into an obsessive pursuit for his property.

Side note:

I have it on good authority that Simone Pond is obsessed with boston terriers.  Dogs rule.  A very good reason to purchase this book.  Other than it's awesome.