September 16, 2014

Doctor Who Haul Part 1

I recently acquired 4 of the newest Doctor Who novels (one of which was mentioned in my last post). As per usual, when I get my hands on Doctor Who novels I tend to go on a bit of a binge and so...I'm just going to read all four of these really quickly and review them for you all in one big post.

A quick little blurb on each of them to whet your appetite.

Doctor Who: Enemies of War by George Mann
The War Doctor faces not only the Daleks and their newest weapons but also his own people in his quest to put an end to the Great Time War once and for all. However, he doesn't have to face them completely alone. He has a new companion named Cinder and she's determined to stay by his side no matter what dangers they face. She might change her mind when she sees exactly what the Daleks are creating...

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker
The Doctor (#12) and Clara land in a sleepy little village town called Ringstone in Wiltshire. At first, The Doctor believes the TARDIS made a mistake and landed them at the wrong time in history. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the past has caught up to the present when giant insects and arachnids start terrorizing the villagers and all means of escape are cut off by massive spider webs...

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell by James Goss
When will people learn that there's really no point in trying to keep The Doctor locked in a cell? The most dangerous criminals are sent to a prison housed on an asteroid far removed from all colonized worlds. The Governor starts to suspect there is more than meets the eye regarding this 'Doctor' who keeps trying to escape and he might be right because after his arrival the murders begin...

Doctor Who: Silhouette by Justin Richards
When mysteries which seem to have no connection whatsoever (a locked room murder, a boxer killed by an undertaker, The Carnival of Curiosities, and a rich industrialist) end up being inextricably linked who could possibly put all of the pieces together? This is a case for The Doctor, Clara, Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax! Is anything really what it seems?

Are you guys ready?

September 14, 2014

True freedom is felt in the heart

I discovered from reading The Orphan Master's Son that I know precious little about North Korea. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I know a whole lot more after having read this book. (Yes, I know it's fictional but a good majority of it is based on the realities of that country and its people.) I have to admit that it was slow going at the beginning. I didn't feel the push to keep going that I usually do when reading something that is really interesting to me. However, this wasn't because the characters lacked depth. I think it stems from what I mentioned at the top of this post: I was completely in the dark about North Korea and found it hard to connect. I have since done some research into the topic on my own and I am blown away by the mastery of Adam Johnson. This is a story of a man without identity. His true self is stripped away again and again by those in power. He is not the master of his own life...and yet...His spirit will not fully submit. For the entirety of this novel, I was waiting for this man's redemption because his suffering was so great and so complete that I felt that it was unfair that he not get his happy ending. I can't say if I was rewarded at the end or not because to do so would rob you of the experience yourself. If you enjoy contemporary historical fiction and/or have an interest in a part of the world that to me has always seemed shrouded in mystery (and really it still is) then this book is for you.

The only thing better than a Star Trek novel is a Doctor Who novel and the next book up for review is one of the latter! I'm going to be reading Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann and its main protagonist is THE WAR DOCTOR. (As you may be able to tell from the CAPS, I'm slightly excited.) The story centers around The Great Time War and The Doctor's interactions with the people of the planet, Moldox, who are being rounded up by the Daleks (hiss boo his). I don't want to say anymore because I fear I'll give away something truly important to the story line but I can't wait to review this one for you guys!!

August 31, 2014

Anthropomorphic Bees

Flora 717 is a worker bee and the protagonist of Laline Paull's The Bees. It may sound completely far-fetched to write a story from the perspective of a bee but insanely it worked amazingly well. This author clearly did her entomological research. The story revolves around a sanitation bee born to a hive where she is at the lowest rung of society (in fact, others in her kin have not developed speech and she is marked as an oddity). At every turn, she defies convention and strikes out on her own course. Fraught with class division, religious fanaticism, and sexism The Bees gave me an entirely new insight into bee behavior...and made me crave honey. If you're looking for a book unlike any other then I encourage you to give this one a shot...unless you're terrified of bees in which case you'd best steer clear.

My next book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction last year: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. Pak Jun Do is a loyal Korean citizen fighting to stay alive in an ever-changing and violent society. He is a professional kidnapper and eventually the rival of Kim Jong Il. The book purports to be a tale of corruption, violence, and also love. Well, I'm certainly intrigued!

August 27, 2014

Humanity: Tender, raw, and always a surprise

Have you ever been enjoying a book so much that you feel like racing through it just so you can find out what happened to the characters at the end? Conversely, have you ever wanted to linger for an indeterminate amount of time over a narrative because you just didn't want their story to come to its inevitable conclusion? Well, I experienced both of these emotions simultaneously while reading Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists. Each chapter revolved around a different individual with ties to the newspaper and each chapter heading was a different headline from the paper. At the conclusion of each chapter, a snippet of history regarding the evolution of the paper was inserted which coincided with the information the reader had just learned about an individual from the present day. It's a mystery to me how he wove everything together so effortlessly but I fully appreciated that the pieces of the story were all interconnected to create a cohesive tale about a newspaper with more drama behind the scenes than on its pages. A brilliant read which I highly encourage you to pick up and give a shot.

As I've mentioned before, I have quite a long TRL (To-Read List if you're new here) and I've been steadily trying to knock books off of it. This next one has been on it ever since I heard about its release earlier this year. The Bees, by Laline Paull, is the story of a bee (nope the title wasn't misleading) who defies the conventions of the hive when she challenges the Queen. It is a story of a female heroine of the bee persuasion (I might be chuckling as I write this) who chooses her own path even in the light of fierce opposition. Considering my fascination with insects (and arachnids), it was really a no-brainer that I would read this but I do have to say that I'm incredulous as to how Paull is going to pull this off. We shall soon see!

August 25, 2014

What just happened?

Have you ever been so invested in a story that you were pretty much oblivious to anything else while in its grip? Well, that's exactly what happened to me when I was reading The Rise & Fall of Great Powers. Tom Rachman put some kind of spell on me and when I reached the end I was completely set adrift. In fact, I can't seem to summarize exactly how I feel about the book now that I've finished it. Clearly, I felt it to be a compelling read as I immersed myself in it utterly and totally. However, I can't seem to articulate my feelings now that it's concluded. I guess that makes sense as a large part of this book is the importance of time and how it's all relative (reminds me of a line from Doctor Who but I won't get into that here). I hesitate to put this book into any kind of niche because I think it stands alone and separate unto itself. I can't help a feeling a bit melancholy now that it's done but the knowledge that a) I can return to it anytime I want and b) I have another book by this author waiting to be read keeps me going. :-) If you want a book that will transport you, intrigue you, and baffle you then this is the one for you. READ IT.

As I mentioned in my last post, I picked up both of Rachman's books when I was at the library. His first book, The Imperfectionists, was an international bestseller (not hard seeing why as his second book was mind-blowingly amazing). This book centers on an English-language newspaper that's on its last legs. However, the story seems to be about the individuals working at the news agency who are all living distinct and complicated lives. I AM ALREADY ITCHING TO GET STARTED.

I hope you guys are having a fantastic Monday and I look forward to meeting you back here shortly for more reviews!

August 22, 2014

Spoiler alert: It wasn't mannequins

Horrorstor as an incredibly quick, fast-paced read. I have to say that the story veered off in a direction that I was completely unprepared for (despite reading the blurb). It's somewhere between horror, thriller, and paranormal. I don't want to give anything away because I think you'd enjoy the journey a lot more with the mystery intact. I will say, however, that I enjoyed the visual aspect of the book which incorporated furniture ads like those you might see in an Ikea catalog. It was a unique approach to horror and I think you guys would get a kick out of it.

There's an author that's been on my radar for a while now (thanks to the many literary newsletters I subscribe to) and I'm happy to say that I've picked up both of his novels to review. The first one is his newest, The Rise & Fall of Great Powers. The author is Tom Rachman and he's being hailed as "one of the most exciting young writers we have". The story revolves around a woman with the odd sounding name of Tooly who is herself an odd sort of person. She owns a bookstore in a small town in Wales where she spends the majority of her days reading. However, it's her past that takes up a good chunk of the book and its mysteries are unraveled in pieces as the story progresses. At about a quarter through, I can already feel my excitement building for the astonishing conclusion (which I'm sure is going to be astonishing based on the nuggets already revealed). Review to be posted shortly!!

I hope you guys are enjoying your last few weeks of summer (or maybe you're like me and in denial that it's concluding at all) and you're reading HEAPS AND HEAPS of books. :-D

August 19, 2014

The endurance of the human spirit or The Halifax Disaster

It's a little unsettling to me that prior to reading Curse of the Narrows I had never heard of the explosion that caused so much devastation in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 6, 1917. When the munitions ship, Mont Blanc, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel, Imo, on that fateful day none of the inhabitants in Richmond could have predicted the loss that their town would incur. I have to admit that at the outset of this book I was struggling to comprehend what was occurring as much of the language was 'nautical' in nature which I've always found confusing. However, once Mac Donald began discussing the 'human element' I was hooked. Basically, the entire town was decimated in a matter of moments and thousands were killed, injured, orphaned, and made homeless. Oppenheimer used the statistics from the blast to calculate the effects of an atomic bomb (and used these calculations to create the bombs used in Nagasaki and Hiroshima). One of the unique factors in this event was that there was an historian on the ground that immediately began rounding up accounts and taking interviews in order to preserve the details of the day and the days and months preceding it. I highly encourage any fans of history (in particular WWI-era) to give this book a try. Additionally, the Appendix and Notes at the end of the book were absolutely phenomenal which is always one of my favorite parts in any nonfiction work and if you aren't reading these I highly encourage you to do so. :-D

Next up is Horrorstor (imagine the last 'o' has those little dots over it) by Grady Hendrix. I'm already impressed with the book based on its packaging (yeah, yeah don't judge a book blah blah blah) because it looks like a retail catalog. The reason for this is that the setting for the book is a furniture superstore called Orsk. When five employees agree to spend the night in the store to discover who is causing havoc each night they discover more than they had bargained for. O_O It's a horror story in a furniture store! (I am genuinely wary of mannequins so I really hope they don't turn out to be the baddies in this.) I can't wait to report back to you guys with my review!!