Gemina (Illuminae Files #2)-Should You Read It?

Related imageGenre: Young Adult Science-fiction/Space/Visual

Rating: 4.5/5

Not a full 5/5, but only because it felt a bit slower than Illuminae and not paced quite as well, but definitely still an amazing book! If you haven’t picked this series up yet, make that the next thing on your to-do list!

While Kady and Ezra fight off the Lincoln and fend for their lives against the AI AIDAN, Niklas and Hanna prepare for Terra Day on jump station Heimdall.

A day of celebration quickly takes a turn for the worst when a crew from BeiTech, sent by Leanne Forbisher, aim to destroy any evidence that leads back to the BeiTech attack on Kerenza IV. This team not only aims to take over the jump station, but will terminate anyone who gets in their way. Making preparations for the Kennedy fleet, a drone fleet that will eventually be the clean-up crew to destroy Heimdall, the BeiTech team kills the commander, tampers with the wormhole that allows for hyperspace jumps, and aims to kill Hanna, the troublesome daughter of the Heimdall commander.

When Hanna’s boyfriend turns out to be something he’s not, she turns to Niklas, a Russian gang member with a past full of crime. Not to mention the fact that Niklas likes Hanna, to no avail (yet?). With the help of Niklas’s cousin, the two fight their way through the jump station to take out the BeiTech crew. Did I mention there is a parasite type creature that has been killing a bunch of people as well? Yeah, that’s a thing, and Kaufman and Kristoff nail the biology of the creature excellently.Image result for gemina

The whole time, the reader is left with countdown pages, one for when the Hypatia (remember that ship?) will arrive at Heimdall, and one when the Kennedy Assault Fleet will arrive, adding tension and anticipation for the reader. The science of this novel is intriguing and realistic, possibly even accurate, when talking about wormholes and alternate dimensions, that is.

Along the journey, the reader is also gifted with beautiful illustrations by Marie Lu (author of The Young Elites trilogy, the Legend trilogy, Warcross, and Batman: Nightwalker). These illustrations consist of Hanna’s journal, originally a gift from her father, an item that is hard to come by so far from the core systems.

Masterfully crafted, the paperback edition comes with some extra Illuminae Files at the end, which was pretty fun. The only thing that really made this book go slower than the first one was that there were a huge amount of video surveillance sections (meaning more like regular prose) in comparison to texts, vocal chat, e-mail, or images, which slowed the reading down. Kaufman and Kristoff did well with spreading out these chapters for the most part, but there was still a huge amount of them. Overall, this was a fantastic read, highly recommended to all, because this novel series really redefines the term “novel” for contemporary readers and writers. Obsidio awaits!

Related image

Advertisements

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)-Should You Read It?

Image result for a conjuring of lightGenre: Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

The third and final installment in the Shades of Magic trilogy contains magical battles and adventures of arcane proportions! The cover art is interesting as comparing to the first two books. It is evident that A Darker Shade of Magic shows Kell as he travels between London’s evident from the London map coloration as well as Kell’s red hair. The cover of A Gathering of Shadows very evidently portrays Lila as evidences through the hairstyle, outfit, and figure, with emphasis on the pirate hat and twin daggers that become her trademark. This cover could be one of two characters, although  it can be speculated. There is quite obviously one ruler of Red London in the end of the story, whose description is close to what is depicted. But there is another character that would make the pattern of characters across the covers make sense (SPOILER-that all three covers feature one of the last Antari). Anyway, interesting stuff when doing cover analysis and looking at how the covers might give away more than they should, although the three covers together are elegant and aesthetically pleasing.

Between the various universes and their London’s, Red London finds itself under the dark spell of Osaron. Osaron, through the vessel of Holland, has come to take over Red London through old magic, the same kind that once destroyed Black London.

Now Rhy must learn to part with Kell in order to save their home country, Arnes. Lila aims to control her magic before it consumes her, and Alucard has lost one crew, but must find another to do the impossible.

When it is evident that Osaron is pretty much invulnerable, the people of the kingdom (mainly our heroes) must think of some way to defeat him. When their first trick against the creature born of Black Magic fails, all hope feels lost, but the rumor of a special item that can hold the magic within it comes forth, and Kell, Alucard, and Lila aim to find this lost relic over the sea.

In the meantime, the guests from other countries are still at the palace, since events have unfurled just after the Essen Tasch. Lives are on the line when one country aims to betray Arnes, but another fights alongside (it is interesting which countries hold which loyalties and their motives for breaking a truce).

With excellent characters returning for their third and final adventure, this book was brilliantly written and presented. The only reason I do not give this book a 5/5 is that it felt a bit slower than A Gathering of Shadows. The excitement of the Essen Tasch, Kell’s hidden identity, and Lila’s coming into magic, as well as the anticipation for their reunion, was heart-pounding and exciting. The third book is still riveting, but felt a bit dragged out in the quest to defeat the villain. On the other hand, a lot of interesting characteristics are drawn from the characters that the reader did not previously know, and making the villain so unstoppable was interesting in that not only did the characters had to figure out how to beat Osaron, but the reader was left wondering just how they would win (if they would win) with so much impossibility.

I loved this series and am glad that I chanced upon V.E. Schawb’s book signing for the release of this novel, because this is a fantasy series that really takes the genre in a fantastic direction.

On another note, there is going to be a Shades of Magic prequel comic series by Titan comics (which means they might sell out quick and end up being hard to find-that is my experience with Titan comics).

Frostfire (Kanin Chronicles #1)-Should You Read It?

Image result for frostfire hockingGenre: Young Adult Fantasy/Romance

Rating: 4/5

In the world of the Trylle…

Bryn Aven doesn’t really fit in to Kanin society. She is a tracker, one who finds changelings put out of society as babies, bringing them back to the Kanin society where they belong. With her newest find, a changeling who could end up taking the throne due to his bloodline, Bryn continues to do her job diligently.

Konstantin Black still haunts her memories, a man who seemingly tried to kill her father many years ago, a man she once loved. When She discovers that Konstantin is abducting changelings, Bryn finds that she must do everything in her power to stop this man, and find out why he once tried to murder her father. With a one-track mind to become a member of the King’s elite guard, Bryn constantly does her job while trying to prove herself, but personal queries get in the way, not to mention a (forbidden?) romance between her and her older boss, Ridley Dresden.

A bit about this book: it takes place in the same world as the Trylle Trilogy, Switched, Torn, and Ascend, books I have heard of but have not yet read. I jumped into this book knowing nothing, having won it in a Goodreads giveaway. From the title and the cover alone, it seems like a high fantasy novel, and there are definitely those elements withing. What I was not expecting were modern cities and cars and things as such, which was a bit disappointing to what I thought this book would be. Despite this, it was still a relatively interesting story, for the most part.

The main character, Bryn, seems to not take others opinions into consideration, following her own opinions and ideas without thinking about consequences to others. As a character, she was a bit bland, and the development was lacking. Ridley and Konstantin seemed more interesting and, although secondary to Bryn’s first person perspective, they seemed to have more character development. The writing itself is actually crafted well, the beauty of the prose heightening the progression and reading experience of the story.

Was this book good enough to recommend to others? I think it is for a pretty specific audience. Will I read the next one? Maybe. I haven’t decided yet, but it was a good enough read to have my interest piqued in Ice Kissed.

Otherworld-Should You Read It?

Image result for otherworld segelGenre: Young Adult Science-fiction

Rating: 4/5

Yet another work to add to the collective media of online gaming. This book falls into a similar category as James Dashner’s The Mortality Doctrine trilogy, Marie Lu’s Warcross, and Earnest Cline’s Ready Player One. In terms of anime, it would fall under the Sword Art Online, .hack//, and Log Horizon category. It seems like there is a lot of stuff out there with this genre, doesn’t it? So what makes this novel stand out more so than others? What makes this novel not a repeat of everything we have already read and seen in the genre?

In the very first chapter, the reader is immersed in Otherworld, a game owned by The Company, a company that generally owns anything and everything of life-changing proportions anyway. When Simon wins a test set of Virtual Reality gear for Otherworld, a gaming piece worth thousands of dollars, his father finds his gaming to be consuming his life when he is highly capable of doing other things. In a rage, his father destroys the VR system, and that’s the end of that (not something I was expecting to happen right off the bat). Simon has been shipped off to boarding school before, roomed with an amazing hacker, and taken the heat for some hacks that have happened. Now his hacker friend is a major asset, but Simon is back to regular high school.

For years he has lived across the forest from his childhood friend, Kat, who he has developed romantic feelings for over the years. Unfortunately, her step-father is a terrible person and might be up to some shady stuff behind the scenes. When it seems like Kat is up to some things that are out of character, new classmate Busara tells Simon to watch out. With this knowledge, Simon follows Kat to a party where everything seems fine, until a strange explosion removes the floor of the old Elmer’s factory, and someone did it on purpose, hoping for it to look like an accident.

The Company visits Kat in the hospital, explaining that she cannot return to consciousness, but they are developing a new type of Virtual Reality that allows those who cannot return from beyond their own consciousness to partake in Otherworld, to vividly feel, and smell everything in the Virtual World. Disclaimer (and here’s the part that is cliche): if a person is using this new tech and they die in the game, their body actually dies in real life because of the feeling of reality. The brain is tricked into death. When Simon notices something odd about Kat’s behavior, he investigates The Company with some assistance from his hacker friend and Busara, aiming to find out the truth behind the so-called accidents that are happening all across the state. Between using the new VR tech for himself and being pulled back to reality to find and save Kat (the new tech can only be removes by someone else), Simon has a lot to do. He meets a number of people in Otherworld who likewise have the same VR treatment, people who were in supposed “accidents.”

Simon faces some of the things we know and love about video games, such as bosses who rule over a certain domain. The various domains are ruled by different boss-type creatures, but many of the creatures in the game are developing themselves, a strong artificial intelligence that is becoming truly sentient, and they want the people out of their world.

One of the things that makes this book interesting is how it goes back and forth between the world of the game and that of reality. It is also interesting that the realms are put together in a way that is very reminiscent of video games today, but the appeal of the VR for a person to become whoever they want and do whatever they want in Otherworld is a nice feature. As far as collaborative writing goes, Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have done a fine job to set the tone and the pace. The mystery behind The Company is interesting, and I want to know more about what The Company is trying to do and how Simon, Kat, and Busara are going to stop them from killing more people for their own gains.

While it does feel slightly repetitive to the aforementioned books and animes, this novel was engaging and different enough for me to want to keep reading. I was very drawn into the world and the overarching plot with the mysteries behind The Company, and I am greatly looking forward to the next installment. I would highly recommend for someone who enjoys these video game immersing genre works for sure, but perhaps not so much for those who are not a fan of the genre or perhaps are unfamiliar with any of the books/animes mentioned previously. If you have read/seen any of those and like them, this definitely has that similar feel if you cannot get enough of the video game world!

Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 15

The Lost Hero (Graphic Novel Adaptation) by Rick Riordan and Nate Powell, et. al.

Genre: Children’s/Young Adult/Mythology/Graphic Novel

Rating: 4/5

Image result for the lost hero graphic

This adaptation features three new characters in the world of Percy Jackson: Piper, Leo, and Jason. When Jason appears at Camp Half-blood with no memories, it is soon evident that Jason is a son of Zeus. The trio are sent on a quest by Hera to prevent Gaea from awakening, which partially involves defeating the giants who counterpart each of the gods. (For more detail on the story, see my review on the full novel using the titled link above).

Overall, this adaptation was done well. Of course, some parts need to be ordered in a slightly different way to ensure the visual version flows well, ending issues or chapters with a relatively strong cliffhanger, as that is what comics are meant to do. I enjoyed the art and the graphic novel version really added to my own reading of the original novel, giving me some elaborate visuals on the setting as well as the characters, since my own mental images are not necessarily set in stone. It was fun to compare my own visual representation to the artist rendition of all the different characters, and the graphic novel is, overall, presented in a way that is clear, flows, and adds aesthetic value to the story.

 

It by Stephen King

Genre: Horror/Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Image result for it book

Derry, Maine, 1957. Six year old Georgie goes out in the rain to play with his wax boat, only to find himself killed by a clown. It, renown for it’s clown monster, is Stephen King’s 22nd novel. The clown is actually a creature with a true form that is not known until nearly the end of the novel. It takes the forms of various fears and makes an occurrence every 27 years in the small town to feed on its victims. Bill, Georgie’s older brother, seeks to destroy the monster with the help of his friends. When they seemingly destroy it, the group of children make a pact to return to Derry if the monster ever comes back. In 1984, the monster has returned, and Mike contacts the gang to return to Derry to exact vengeance against the creature only they know know how to extract from their hometown.

This book is super popular because 1) Stephen King, and 2) both the old and new movie adaptations. Despite this, the book is long and tedious, yet it has an interesting layout. This book goes back and forth between the character’s experiences in 1957-1958 and 1984-1985 and has a number of interesting literary aspects, such as dialogue, longer prose, news articles, and other elements that bring Derry’s history to life in the novel. While this book is vastly popular, it is hard to read in that the action is lacking in many areas, with more exposition than anything. The historical elements are interesting and often add to the tale being told, but are also often a bit lengthy, making this book drag out as a slower read. It is not a book that I would want to read again (albeit it is my husband’s favorite book ever), but the new movie was done well and was presented in a more enjoyable way than the book, even though some of the elements and defeating the monster is different in the two mediums.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Retelling

Rating: 3.5/5

Related image

Heartless tells the story of Cath, the young woman who is to become known as the Queen of Hearts. She wasn’t always such a menacing and terrible person, but the events in her life bring her to become the heartless queen. Cath loves baking, and her dream is to open her own bakery, even though this means she will not be among the gentle class any longer. When the King of Hearts takes interest in her, she does not want to marry or give up on her dream. Instead, she meets Jest, a court joker sent to take the heart of a queen, but alas, the two fall in love. A monster takes rise in the realm, a jabberwok (check out the original poem, “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll), Cath finds that she might be responsible for the creation of the beast. As events unfold, Cath slowly begins to change, to become a heartless person with no mercy as she takes the stand as Queen of Hearts.

What I liked about this book: It is a stand-alone, so there won’t be any waiting for a sequel (aside from reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland). It was an interesting idea to make a prequel to develop Lewis’s character, The Queen of Hearts, because she has to have some back story, right? And it is a story of romance and dreams. The baking aspect was a nice character trait.

What I did not like about this book: The writing style itself did not feel like Marissa Meyer. While I haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles yet, I have heard great things about it and own them all. On the other hand, I did read Renegades, and it was well-written and the pacing was just right. The pacing of this novel was a bit slow in terms of events, but I feel like the writing itself contributed to the feeling of slowness with this book. While the setup with Cath in the beginning of the novel was interesting, the middle was bogged down with very little character development, but picks up again at the end, the most interesting part of the novel. All in all, the book was a decent read, but not something I would read again.

 

 

High School DxD (Vol. 1) by Hiro Mishima, Ichiei Ishibumi, and Zero Miyama

Genre: Manga/Harem/Occult

Rating: 3/5

Image result for High school DxD vol 1

Vastly popular, this manga is about Issei Hyoudou, his dream in high school to eventually form his own harem. When he finds out he was killed by a demon, he is claimed by another and made a demon himself. Learning about the demon hierarchy, Issei wants to climb the ladder and become a great demon who is able to take on his own slaves, but first he must do a bunch of menial tasks or he will never be able to make his dream come true. When he meets a priest that aims to kill demons, things escalate quickly, and he is surprised to find that a girl he previously met is a holy woman, their friendship an impossibility!

This was okay, and that’s it. This anime/manga is very hyped up, and I am going to assume it is from all the boobs and fan service for the male audience. I did not find the story very riveting or drawing, but the art is done very well and is aesthetically pleasing. The one hitch that might keep me going at a reader is a potential romance between the Bishop girl and Issei, a demon, for angelic and demonic are mortal enemies. Other than that, there is no draw in this series and it seems like it is trying to hard in a negative way compared to other manga that contain explicit content geared toward older readers.

 

Dreamin’ Sun by Ichigo Takano

Genre: Manga/Comedy/Romance

Rating: 4/5

Image result for dreamin' sun vol 1

Shimana Kameko has a new step-mother and a new baby brother as well. When attention falls to him, she feels unwanted and unneeded in her house. Aiming to run away, she comes across Fujiwara Taiga, who offers her a room in the house he is renting out with two other friends, but Kameko has a few conditions to meet before she is welcome to stay. First, Kameko must tell Taiga why she ran away, and it better be a good reason (although he really just wants the truth). Second, she must retrieve the missing house key from one of his roommates, and third, Kameko must have some kind of dream and fall in love, two things she has never done before! With all members having some kind of dream, they are a very goal-oriented bunch, but falling in love can be tough, especially when she falls for the pretty boy that all the other girls at school like too!

By the same artist and author that brought us Orange comes this well-drawn, cute story. The art in this manga is very cute and the facial expressions are captured extremely well to give the reader the desired tone of panic, loneliness, or humor. This manga seems like a decent start to a series that has potential. The protagonist relates to readers who may have or have had similar experiences with not feeling wanted by family, making a strong connection with the narrator from the beginning. The characters are well-balances too, with smart, serious, quirky, and average people all coming to live together in the same house. The dynamic in characters makes the manga fun to read and wanting to know more about all of the characters, rather than just the shoujo heroine.

 

Voices of Winter–A Poetry Essay for 7th Grade

In my 7th grade class, students get to imagine that they are an editor for a poetry collection called “Voice of Winter” which will include the three poems “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service, “Washed in Silver” by James Stephens, and “Winter” by Nikki Giovanni. Students will write a brief introduction to the collection using a piece of evidence from each of the three poems to show how poetry can help readers share the many aspects of winter.

 

Winter’s Poetic Power

           Winter is a beautiful, harsh season that inspires poets to use figurative language and exhibit the power of poetry in a number of ways. In Robert Service’s narrative poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” figurative language is used to share the experience of the severe cold in winter. When Sam McGee feels that his time is running out, he blames his coming death on “the cursed cold…till [he’s] chilled clean through to the bone” (line 22). Service uses both alliteration to force the reader into feeling as if they are in the same situation as Sam. The repetition of “cursed cold…chilled clean” makes the reader stutter on the initial sound, as if they themselves feel that they are in the poem with the character. Image result for sam mcgeeAlliteration is one of many uses of figurative language that authors use to convey how powerful narrative poetry can be when used just the right way, setting the tone for the reader by placing them in this vast tundra of isolation. James Stephens’ lyric poem, “Washed in Silver” used precision of language to convey the beauty of winter to his readers. If someone has experience the feeling of snow before, they might relate to the poem as the speaker describes how “a silver radiance spills” as the snow reflects the moon (line 3). By using imagery, Stephens shows the reader how beautiful snow in winter can be. His word choice is specific, because the word “silver” makes the reader think of the smooth shine of metal, a beautiful color, and the word “radiance” means that the snow is glowing or giving off a brilliant light, yet another aspect related to beauty. Image result for snow landscape at nightThe poetic power of imagery can paint a picture for the reader in a way that a short story may not be able to do, because a lyric poem is precise, with significantly selected words that a poet may take great lengths to get just right for the reader. In the lyric poem, “Winter,” by Nikki Giovanni, using the title as part of the poem drives how each line of the poem conveys the importance of preparing for the winter season. During the winter, people and animals everywhere are preparing for the cold: “frogs burrow the mud/snails bury themselves…and [people] collect books” (lines 1-2, 11). Giovanni uses extended metaphor to show that both people and animals prepare for the cold during the winter season, albeit in different ways. Using the title for extended metaphor shows that winter is frogs burrowing and snails burying themselves in nature to keep warm when the land freezes over. The extended metaphor also shows that winter is people collecting books for leisure while they stay in their homes to keep warm by a fire. The use of extended metaphor connects the reader to how powerful poetry can be by bringing different things together through a common idea, such as all things alive in the world prepare for winter in some way, interconnecting all beings. Through various forms of figurative language, such as alliteration, imagery, and extended metaphor, poets convey messages about winter in various ways that readers can relate to during their reading experience.

Image result for winter reading

Renegades-Should You Read It?

Related image

Genre: Young Adult/Superhero

Rating: 4/5

If you enjoy superheroes, take a dive into Renegades, a novel placed in a world where prodigy’s–those with power–might be born with, or might obtain through a traumatic event, their unique abilities. In this world, there are many prodigies; some choose to become a Renegade, while others join the faction of Anarchy, the difference between training their abilities for good or evil, but it’s all about perspective.

The main players in this novel are Nova, Anarchy alias “Nightmare” Renegade alias “Insomnia,” and Adrian, Renegade alias “Sketch,” and self proclaimed “Sentinel.” Nova has a grudge against the Renegades because her parents were murdered by a band of low-life prodigies, and the Renegades didn’t come to help. This anger intensifies when Nova finds out that Captain Chromium himself was nearby on patrol the night of her parents deaths. To bring down the Renegades and restore what was once the Age of Anarchy, Nova and fellow Anarchists Ingrid, Leroy, and Honey, among others, aim to infiltrate Renegades headquarters and dig up enough information to bring the Renegades down.

Adrian, adopted by Captain Chromium and the Dread Warden, has the power to bring his drawings to life, but it is about the intention of the drawing that makes it real. When he comes across Nova during a celebratory parade featuring the Renegades and their accomplishments for overthrowing the Age of Anarchy, he draws a clasp onto her special bracelet after being stolen by a child, making the bracelet real. Nova doesn’t recognize him until her mission to infiltrate the Renegade headquarters commences, and he does not recognize her as Nova, who he seeks as the Sentinel for the mysterious death of his mother.

Nova, with the ability to put people to sleep through touch, never sleeps, and she uses this guise in the trial to become a Renegade, hoping to be chosen by a team. Selected by Adrian’s Renegade team, Nova is dubbed “Insomnia,” since she never sleeps, but they do not know her true power or identity. As she grows closer to Adrian’s team, she learns how the tragic experiences of some have turned them into prodigies.

When a patrol mission to stake out the Librarian, an prodigy who can remember anything and who sells mass weapons to the anarchists, turns Nova to fear for her resource and her identity, she is double-crossed by the Detonator of the Anarchists, pulling off one plan to lead the Renegades astray when they had something else planned. This leads Nova to question the Anarchists, but the Renegades didn’t save her family, when they are meant to be heroes of the city.

Later, Nova finds out about Adrian’s brother, a child locked away in quarantine who has the ability to take other prodigies powers away. When she learns of his telekinetic abilities, she questions everything she knows about the Age of Anarchy and the Renegades. More and more secrets unfold, romance blossoms, and now Nova must look into herself and decide whether she is a Renegade or and Anarchist and why.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. At first, I felt like it was super generic, like X-men or Captain America or some such overdone superhero story. While it does have some of those elements we see across Marvel and DC, it has its own unique twists as well. People with powers are called prodigies, and while some are born with abilities, others gain them through a life-or-death traumatic experience, seeming to gain the ability when they are close to death or, maybe, die. The pacing was quick and laid out well, with something exciting around every corner. The character development on the initial characters was done well, but second and tertiary characters were slightly lacking, but still had some juicy moments. The writing is better than some of Meyer’s other works (I’m really just thinking of Heartless here) and the plot has a formulaic superhero plot with a few subplots and twisted paths that continue to open new doors about the world to the reader. The first in a duology, I would highly recommend that YES you should read this book, especially if you are into the superhero genre. The secrets and the lies that are kept by the characters really bring this novel to life and have the reader itching for the moment when a certain character will find out this or that.