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I really enjoyed Exo, getting to dive back into science fiction was a blast! A big thank you to Jean Book Nerd Tours, Steven Gould, and Tor for giving me an ARC to enjoy, and for letting me be a part of this fabulous blog tour! My stop on the tour is a review and spotlight of the book, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post for your chance to win a copy of Exo for yourself! ^.^
Cent can teleport. So can her parents, but they are the only people in the world who can. This is not as great as you might think it would be — sure, you can go shopping in Japan and then have tea in London, but it’s hard to keep a secret like that. And there are people, dangerous people, who work for governments and have guns, who want to make you do just this one thing for them. And when you’re a teenage girl things get even more complicated. High school. Boys. Global climate change, refugees, and genocide. Orbital mechanics.
But Cent isn’t easily daunted, and neither are Davy and Millie, her parents. She’s going to make some changes in the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
STEVEN GOULD is the author of Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, and Jumper: Griffin’s Story, as well as many short stories. He is the recipient of the Hal Clement Young Adult Award for Science Fiction and has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. Gould lives in New Mexico with his wife, writer Laura J. Mixon, and their two daughters.
Exo is the book you give to a true science fiction fan just to see their eyes light up. Much of the science fiction that is out there today, at least from what I have encountered, has dramatically decreased the amount of actual science involved, and this is especially true in young adult. It has almost reached the point where sci-fi has turned into fantasy, scary I know. However, Exo is a throwback to a previous era of science fiction writing, glorifying the science that is involved instead of hiding it.
Have you ever wanted to be an astronaut? It’s a common dream for many young children, although with the deterioration of the space program a bit less so in recent times, but if you want to know just about everything involved in that process then Exo is for you. It doesn’t use the typical launch missions, spacecraft, or the like because of Cent’s powers, but there is more than enough realistic space jargon to excite your inner geek.
What makes Exo so great, though, is that it doesn’t overdo the technical aspects, or focus on just that side of the book. There is something in it for everyone! If you like some teen angst you’ll get a decent helping here, or if you prefer some daring rescues or dangerous escapes you can have your cake and eat it too! Also, if you are looking for some more of those cool teleportation displays from the previous books that’s included and even amplified to new levels!
I’ve come to really enjoy the series, especially with Cent (the main character) leading the way. She’s incredibly smart, quick witted, but not full of herself in the slightest, something that must be incredibly difficult when you can teleport all over the world with ease. Cent is also relatable, from her relationship issues (both with friends and her love life) to her squabbles with her parents for more freedom. She’s caring, but refuses to bend to anyone’s will (and I mean anyone!), and has plenty of badass in her when she needs it. Overall, Cent is just a fabulous MC, and a solid role model for YA readers, or any aged readers for that matter. She’ll inspire you.
There aren’t any real criticisms I have when it comes to Exo. The supporting cast is great and you still get the POV of her parents at times, so don’t worry if you miss the voices from the earlier Jumper books. Travelling to new areas in the world isn’t as much of a focus, mostly because SPACE!, but Gould managed to make it so I didn’t miss it, and that’s pretty difficult to do. I’d recommend Exo to any science fiction fan, regardless of age, but for teens and college-age this would be perfect. Thanks as always for reading, and good luck with the giveaway below!
Enter the Giveaway!
Red Blooded (Jessica McClain #4)
Summary From Amazon:
Jessica is going to Hell.
After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn’t have the power to stop.
Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast — new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be… or she will never make it out alive.
When I got the invitation to read Red Blooded on NetGalley I jumped on the opportunity. Full Blooded, book one in the series, was the first ARC I ever received, back when I first started blogging, and I’ve been hooked ever since. So to say I was excited to see what Red Blooded had in store would be an understatement. Also, the book came out today (Sep. 9) so if you want to go get a copy you can!
Red Blooded delivered in just about every way, giving me the diverse paranormal group I’ve come to expect, and the wide array of talents and powers displayed, all in a brand new world to explore. One of my favorite things about the Jessica McClain series is that Carlson takes the standard paranormal creatures (werewolves, vampires, witches, etc.) and alters how we think about them by combining some, and giving others new traits and personalities that you might not expect. Red Blooded has all of the paranormal beings you could possibly want, and introduces plenty of new ones as Jessica makes her way through the Underworld/Hell.
Carlson’s version of the Underworld/Hell (I have to use both because she does interchangeably, tad annoying I know) is an intriguing one. She makes it feel at times more alive than you might imagine, with vivid descriptions of ever-changing colors and textures of structures and tunnels, and the vast differences of the world at night and during the day. Alternatively, it is a very structured and clean place, with seemingly identical demons roaming around in vast numbers, and at times it seems regimented and even a bit cold. The combination makes for a really interesting experience on all sensory levels.
The character list remains pretty expansive, as I was alluding to earlier, and the new additions in the book are well worth the read by themselves. I can’t get into too much detail without spoilers, but one of the new creatures Jessica meets when she arrives in Hell has a very interesting personality, and instantly had me gravitating toward them. The supporting cast is really strong as well, from the BF Rourke to the bizarre (and adorable) young oracle Maggie, the quick-witted Ray and the incredibly stubborn Vampire Queen, and all sorts of other compelling characters make it one wild ride.
My complaints for Red Blooded are ones I’ve made consistently throughout the series, so I’ll keep them short. Jessica often seems incredibly dense, the last to pick up on what’s going on, and yet it doesn’t seem like she is intentionally being portrayed as a moron, so that’s frustrating. That leads me to my other issue, which is the repetitious conversations, weird pauses for info dumps, and the amount of info dumps throughout the book that feel awkward because it is so forced, all of which seems to stem from how slow Jessica is, and it is annoying to deal with.
Overall I definitely enjoyed Red Blooded, as I have with the rest of the series. While I do have complaints, they are for things I’ve come to accept come with the better parts of the books in the series, but those issues have kept the last few books from being five stars. I would recommend the series to anyone who enjoys a wide variety of paranormal creatures in different (and usually pretty awesome) worlds. I’m looking forward to book five to see what craziness happens next! Thanks as always for reading.
The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Summary From Goodreads:
From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.
From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that?
It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!
I received a copy of The Iron Trial via NetGalley, which I was thrilled about because I love Holly Black’s work, had never had the pleasure of reading Cassandra Clare’s, and needed some more MG in my life. The Iron Trial was a highly enjoyable fantasy MG read, filled with magic of all kinds, not just of the elements on which it is focused. There is also the magic of the bonds you make, the wonder of a new world, and the thrill of facing your biggest fears and conquering them.
With the book being by Black and Clare, it is no surprise that the writing style was fantastic, and that I easily read The Iron Trial in one sitting. The pacing is excellent, the world has been fleshed out really nicely, and the Magisterium is a fascinating place to explore. Plus, how can anyone resist elemental powers and all of the cool ways you can use them? I know I couldn’t!
The cast of characters is one of the biggest highlight of the book. Black and Clare really took their time in developing each one, not giving away too much about any one character early on, including the MC. Call (short for Callum) is not your typical main character, being more moody and reserved than a standard hero, and the way his mind works is something quite fresh and interesting, though difficult to describe. Without giving too much away, he does open up after a while, which isn’t too surprising given that the supporting cast is stellar. I can’t wait to see how they develop going forward!
Comparisons to Harry Potter have been made, and while I can see how that might be, I would argue that The Iron Trial is darker in its undertones, and with significantly better (and more interesting) twists. Also, the Magisterium is nothing like Hogwarts, of that I can assure you! If I had to give any criticism to the book it would be that (even for 12yr olds) the characters are a tad slow on the uptake for certain things, and seem a little to clueless at times, but that’s a small issue. If you are looking for a MG fantasy story in the vein of Harry Potter, but with a unique personality and tone, then I’d recommend giving this one a try. Thanks as always for reading.
“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by the fantastic people over at Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that we are excited about.
For this week my pre-publication selection that I can’t wait for is:
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
Set For Release On: January 27th, 2015
Summary From Goodreads:
A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.
Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
My first thought when I came across this book was that the cover made me excited to read it, simply because I love listening to music, and it seemed like the book might cover musical discussions, like how a specific song/artist might make a person feel. So that was certainly enough to get me to use it as a WoW post on its own.
Then I read the summary and immediately was reminded of one of my favorite books, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Both books have the MC listen to something (tapes or a playlist), both go over the difficult topic of suicide, and each book makes the MC take a second look at their surroundings and the people they thought they knew. I’m certainly intrigued to see how they compare and contrast.
Have you heard of Playlist for the Dead, or the Michelle Falkoff? If you have, are you planning on getting it too? What book are you “Waiting On”? Let me know in the comments and/or leave a link to your own WoW post! Thanks for checking out my Waiting On Wednesday! ^.^
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. They love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
This week on Top Ten Tuesday I’ll be talking about a bunch of my favorite characters in books to make up my ultimate lunch table! I’ll say a bit about each one and why I love them so much. Let’s get into it!
1. Ginny Weasley (Harry Potter) – This was the easiest one for me because you always want your bookish crush at the table, even though this is from back when the books were still coming out for me. I love her personality in the later books and she can cast a quick bat bogey hex on anyone causing trouble.
2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) – I’m sticking with the Harry Potter theme because Hermione is a must for all bookish conversations. She might take it a bit to the extreme though.
3. Lex (Croak) – Lex has a fantastic sense of humor and would keep the sarcasm meter high at the table. She also wouldn’t be afraid to tell it like it is which could lead to some pretty interesting conversations.
4. Globcow (Attic Clowns) – Globcow might freak people out a bit at first, but he’s such a funny little guy that I can’t help but want to include him. Keep an eye on your feet!
5. Nero (The Infects) – Nero is a bit of an oddball, but he’s another hilarious person to add to the group (I’m big on keeping the mood happy, have you noticed?) and he is my go-to if a zombie apocalypse goes down.
6. Anna (Anna) – Every lunch table needs a ghost, and Anna is my favorite ghost in literary history. She’s a bit hard to get to know, but a sweetheart once you do. She could use a few more friends too.
7. Colin Singleton (An Abundance of Katherines) – It’s always good to have a genius at the table, and Colin definitely fits the bill. He has a pretty good sharp sense of humor going for him too, but really I just need him to help the rest of us with our homework. Sorry Colin.
8. Scarlet (Scarlet) – I need someone with a bit of an edge to them, enter Scarlet. She’s a badass, and even with her soft center (at least when it comes to Robin) I think she’d keep us safe in a fight, food or otherwise.
9 & 10. Pippin and Merry (Lord of the Rings) – Nope, I didn’t pick Frodo or Sam! However, I had to go with characters from my favorite book series, and since this is more of a college-age group (in the perfect world in my head anyway) we need some people that can bring the party, and the fun liquids. Pippin and Merry know how to have a great time, and they do like their pints!
There are so many other amazing bookish people that I would love to have at my table, but these ten would definitely form my core group. Were any of these characters ones you chose or would want at your table? Who did you pick? Let me know! Thanks as always for reading! ^.^
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
Summary From Goodreads:
In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.
When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.
As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.
It’s time for a rant, befitting of a Monday such as this. Enjoy!
Glitch is a bit of a mess. It has parts that I really enjoyed, especially when the action was able to sweep me away a time or two, but there were glaring issues with it as well. Let’s start with the main character, Zoe.
Zoe is supposed to be emotionless, essentially a robot right down to the chip, but she glitches and is able to discover emotions and colors and such, albeit rather slowly in terms of comprehension. The problem is there isn’t a time in the book where she actually is emotionless, even when she supposedly reconnects to the Link network. I understand that she has been learning to keep a tiny bit of her subconscious active while being under the Link presence, but at no point does she act fully robotic without constantly saying how hard she is concentrating on keeping that blank facade going. It’s really frustrating.
Also, Zoe is a tad slow on the uptake when it comes to… well everything really. She follows the lead of anyone who she perceives to have a clue about what’s going on, acting more like a puppy than a human. She doesn’t understand what’s going on most of the time, can’t seem to grasp when people are feeling emotions that might lead to harm for her or those she cares about, and half the time she starts having crying fits and hyperventilating when she is stressed. I’ve mentioned in other reviews about characters just being shells that go in the direction the author needs them to at any given time, but this is probably the worst case I’ve seen.
Then there are the relationships. You’ve got your pick! Behind door number one is insta-love, our old favorite! Behind door number two is the aggressive arse that nearly turns into a rapist at multiple points in the story, aren’t you excited?! While Zoe seems to understand her feelings (as much as can be expected with her) pretty quickly about who she likes and who she loves, it doesn’t stop her from going between the two boys like a ping pong ball, randomly going in one direction or the other based on who convinces her more at the time.
Oh, right, the world, you probably want to know how this dystopian world is realized correct? It’s a cliche. Surprise, surprise, there was some sort of world war and to fix it some scientists and power-hungry leaders got together and programmed a chip so that everyone would behave. Oh, except they stripped the bits that make them human. As usual there are people that broke through somehow, developed a resistance, and now they are trying to make a difference. The resistance on the outside (in this case the surface) and the dystopian rat maze underground in a grid-like gray labyrinth.
As bad as all of that may sound, I actually enjoyed some of what happened with the story. Even though Anastasiu wasn’t able to convey from her MC what it would be like under the Link, she was able to show what discovering each new emotion would feel like, or how powerful the little things around us would be to someone who had never experienced taste, color, or the expansiveness of the sky. There is a better appreciation you can gain from a piece like this about the beauty of our world, especially compared to the one in Glitch.
On a less deep level, Glitch does a really nice job at displaying powers, and the variety of ways that they can be brought out. To me at least, those powers were just extensions of various feelings, and Anastasiu seemed to be using them to show an even greater depth of the feelings and emotions we can have for one another, the strongest (as corny as it is) being love. Although, hatred makes a pretty close second in this one, but the point remains.
Still, as cool as telekinesis is, I never felt like Zoe was the badass that she was supposed to be. Without there being a real connection formed for me to care about her, I guess the rest just felt too unreal, too forced. It could have been anyone using those cool powers, Zoe doing it was simply the way it happened in this case, but it didn’t feel like they belonged to her.
The rest of the characters, while somewhat interesting in their own ways, felt way too creepy for me to get behind and enjoy. Sorry future boy, but being obsessed about someone before you meet them and then being all over them when you do is not endearing, it’s just eerie. Don’t even get me started on Max. *shivers*
So no, I won’t be recommending this book, nor will I continue the series. It might get better now that the facade of being a “drone” is gone there won’t be any reason for Zoe to pretend, but it doesn’t matter. I just can’t get over the variety of issues presented with Glitch. The characters were a minus for me, the “love” interests even more so, and the world wasn’t original. Blah. Thanks as always for reading.
Bathhouse Nights by Cameron D. James
Summary From Goodreads:
In the bathhouse, anything is possible, especially at night when all the studs come out to play.
For cheerleader Daniel, his dream-come-true is a football jock named Justin, but no one in the bathhouse measures up, no matter how hard he tries to play pretend.
Justin is straight, of course. Aren’t they all? There’s no reason for Daniel to expect he’ll score with him…until the night he spots him in the hot tub.
It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!
Bathhouse Nights is something a bit different than my usual “naughty” read. I tend to gravitate toward novellas or short stories that at least have a decent amount of compelling story involved, and while I understand that is somewhat niche, it is also what separates them from being flat out written porn. James walks that fine line, but includes just enough decent plot to make it work.
There are a few issues brought up in Bathhouse Nights that are briefly examined and discussed, such as that of fixation, domination, bullying, and especially that of someone who thought they were straight having to come to grips with their reality. The transition isn’t the same for anyone, and while I can’t go into too much detail without spoiling the ending (given it’s a short story), I will say that this was a different perspective then what I’ve come across in the past.
I enjoyed that feeling of uniqueness, at least in terms of literary story if not in real life. As for the sexier moments, there were plenty of those, so if that’s what you’re into… well I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself fully. It’s all M/M, which is still somewhat rare, and the sex scenes are written out quite nicely, though they are often pretty short.
If I had to make any complaints about Bathhouse Nights it would be that its transition from Then to Now points of view were a bit to frequent, and a tad rough. This might have been better had it been a glimpse of the present, then a bulk amount of the past, before a full scene back in present time, but oh well. It’s a good piece, and I think most M/M enthusiasts will find something in it for them, as there is a decent variety of sex styles. Thanks as always for reading. ^.^