Wednesday, August 26, 2015
I am sad that this trilogy is complete, but happy to hear that Hylton plans to return to a few of these characters in future stories. This installment focuses on finally defeating the enemy by forming a unified battle plan and filling in gaps regarding his modus operandi. We find out why certain locations were taken out of time, the significance, and further purposes of the tools presented in the first two books.
We also travel to Kings Cross, Wisconsin to meet some new characters who will mingle with old favorites for the final showdown. I liked hearing Zed's origin story, and flip flopping between trying to decide if he was a total villain, or more an anti-hero. The struggle for power is still a paramount theme. I LOVED the inclusion of the town library, and the Rough-Shod Readers group that served a secret extra purpose.
I hope that more people will pick up this trilogy because Hylton is a great writer and constructs a very well-paced, engaging mystery/thriller/time travel/dystopian/multi-genre book! I believe most readers would enjoy this, it's not heavy on gore or violence, and it will keep you guessing. Support him by purchasing directly from his website (scroll down for the bundle option where you can get the entire trilogy for a discount) and he will personalize and possibly include some annotations in the story.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Throughout this novel, I kept having panicky "How on earth am I going to review this book?" thoughts. Since David Mitchell is British, I hope this American reviewer can get by with saying that it is bloody brilliant. This is my second of Mitchell's works, the first being Cloud Atlas, which was unfortunately a bit of a slog for me. This has a similar sense of style, but I enjoyed the story quite a bit more. I also was fortunate enough to read this with some Booktube buddies on a Voxer app, sharing thoughts back and forth, which greatly enhanced my enjoyment.
The Bone Clocks will require me to simplify extremely. Basically, the reader follows Holly Sykes, a girl from Gravesend, England, throughout the course of her extraordinary life. We meet her at age 15 in 1984, travel to the present, and eventually the future to her mid-eighties. Having certain gifts, she unwittingly becomes a pawn between two warring factions. While difficult, I feel Mitchell's work is best described as a kaleidoscope, with elements of the story blending together, shifting, and often times feeling out of focus.
Mitchell exposes the reader to a myriad of locations, so you really feel you're traveling the world with these characters. It's evident he does extensive travel and research. The insight into journalism, and the state of Iraq from the character of Brubeck was really engaging. I also liked how Mitchell explored literary criticism. His mind is so intense and philosophical in places, as evidenced by a conversation between two people on the nature of power and the possibility of deferring death into perpetuity. Similar to Cloud Atlas, this work tackles political climates of nations, and our environmental future if we continue to consume at this rate.
The writing is superb, but the difficulty emerges when you become immersed in the current narrative and the story switches perspective (and usually time), so it feels like you're starting from scratch. I'm here to tell you that you can trust Mitchell to explain and connect in due time! Patience does pay off.
If you enjoy magical realism and get on well with short stories, I think this would be a good book for you. Some of the book seems to defy explanation, other parts I'm still chewing on, and explaining the rest of the difficult bits would be too spoiler-y. Even though this read took me awhile and parts of it seemed over the top in terms of magical realism (for my taste preferences), I can't detract from the star rating for these reasons because this read is just too memorable.
Friday, August 21, 2015
I'm so excited to participate in this for the first time! Signups end soon (August 24) so join us! I will be doing an unboxing of books received upon arrival so watch this space (and subscribe to my YouTube channel) for a video of my goodies.
Signup Link: Chaotic Goddess Swaps Blog
The above is my YouTube announcement video!
Signup Link: Chaotic Goddess Swaps Blog
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Book 1 Review- Regulation 19
First off, I give props to any author who provides a recap of the previous book in a series as a preface to the upcoming book. Hylton does this through a section titled "What We Know". Rook Mountain, Tennessee is adjusting to some tough changes. While a single day hasn't passed in other parts of the country, the residents in this town have experienced eight harrowing years. PT Hylton did not disappoint with book two!
I was excited for fresh material as the mission to eradicate the enemy continues. We are introduced to a new setting called The Sanctuary in this installment, as well as some creepy new creatures to join the eery ranks of the Unfeathered. The title meaning was revealed in the second half and alluded to the ominous forest setting. We are also reunited with some old favorite characters from book one. I particularly appreciated that Hylton continued to draw strong female characters, with Sophie taking a strong position similar to Christine in the previous novel.
I like how Hylton plays with the changing laws in this society. In this case, we have the former Regulated days, and now the Unregulated system. It illustrates how tenuous judicial systems can be, and how a slight imbalance can tip a society into general chaos and lawlessness. The resulting uncertainty and unease made for a suspenseful second book. Going hand in hand with the legal system is the question of morality. The younger generation only knows the rough, unfair system that was in place with Zed, and wants to uphold the prior laws at any cost...unaware of how life was before. Many older folks realize the destructive nature and are warring against the "Zed Heads". This is fun for the reader as we get to see a complex power struggle.
Also, about time travel....this novel has highlighted that it can be tricky and troubling- don't think I would care to engage in it. Writers must have an interesting time outlining these types of stories, I'd love to see all the charts and notes. This was another fast-paced, action filled ending with crazy twists and turns. Looking forward to The Broken Clock, but will be sad when the trilogy ends.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Expected Publication: September 22, 2015 from Fiewel & Friends, a division of Macmillan. Hardback, 256 pgs
Before I start this review, I would like to endorse this author as a nice human being. I was in line for the book at Book Expo America this past May, and saw her interactions with other readers, specifically younger kids (who were in the age category for this book- 8-12). I heard her asking what they wanted to be when they grew up and really engaging with them. I heard her say that writing was the best job in the world and she highly recommended it. It's great to hear someone so in love with their craft!
My first reading experience with Applegate was the One and Only Ivan. My review is here. The beautiful way she wrote the human and animal interaction made me excited to pick up her other work. When I heard the premise for this middle grade novel, I made her line a priority at Book Expo America so I could get my hands on it.
Jackson is a fifth-grader whose family has fallen on hard times. The plausible reasons for this are revealed throughout the story, which is done in a well-paced way that allows the reader to connect with the family's hardships. I thought her depiction of his parent's glass half-full positivity inspiring. I hope young readers will be grateful for what they have and think carefully about how they can help those who don't. There are many good takeaways from the book
I appreciate the way Applegate tackles tough issues that kids face and does it in a heartfelt, easily understandable, and appropriate manner. As a parent, I would love nothing more than to shelter my kids from the harsh threats of the world. Unfortunately, since this isn't reality, it is wonderful to have stories that tackle difficult subjects well.
I was a bit surprised that Crenshaw was more of a background character than I originally thought he would be. However, his representation of comfort through a tumultuous time was the crucial point, no matter what animal form that took. I'm sure Applegate carefully considered an animal that matched the traits needed. Also, imaginary friends bring joy and help fill any voids, and I love the idea that they will always be around when needed the most. I wish books like this had been given to me as a child, I'm so impressed with the great literary choices our children have today.
Maud is in her eighties and is certain her dear friend Elizabeth is missing. Voicing her concerns to the police, caretakers, and Elizabeth's own son, she is mostly ignored. Unsure of her own sanity and her fragmented memories, Maud tries to piece together her memories of the last few weeks with wanderings around town and note taking. The story is told by Maud, so we acutely feel the frustration of her condition. Reading it felt oppressive at times, and therefore was a bit slow going. The flashbacks to her teenage years during World War II were a sort of reprieve, except things weren't always rosy on that side either with wartime rationing and a crisis with her sister.
I wanted to hug Maud's daughter Helen, and tell her what a good job she was doing, and not to get discouraged. We hear so many bad things about caretakers and family members in the news- this novel was a breath of fresh air in reminding readers that family members can be good to each other as well. They are often unsung heroes. The details we get on Maud's deep friendship with Elizabeth are sincere and strong, in stark contrast to her lack of immediate short term memories.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
**This is an erotic thriller. Violent content and extremely graphic sex scenes are present throughout most of the book so be warned.
I heard about this on Lindsey Rey's Booktube channel, as well as seeing it on a To-Be-Read video for Rachel for her Booktubeathon challenges. I was in between books, and on a whim downloaded it to my Kindle. I read it until 1 am (rarely do I stay up that late), and immediately finished it when I woke up in the morning.
Deanna has some problems. The major one being constantly plagued with the desire to kill everyone she encounters in the slowest, bloodiest way possible. Part of this is a result of horrific family trauma as a teenager. As a freshman in college, she decides she can no longer control her urges and rents an apartment, installs a steel door, and conducts her life solely through the internet.
What ensues is a fascinating, compulsively readable book about a lifestyle that is unimaginable to me. We hear about her means of financial support, the profession of webcamming. We are given descriptions of her 900 square foot apartment, and what her day-to-day existence has been for the last three years. This includes how she acquires food and basic necessities, the strict daily schedule, the personalities and requests of her vast clientele, her continuous internal monologue, and discussions with therapists. Her loneliness, occasional despair, and lack of outside stimuli is palpable.
We also get the perspective of Jeremy, the UPS driver who leaves packages outside her door and wonders about the mysteriousness of the girl who lives in 6E. Besides this content, (which is more than enough to sustain the novel), we have a mystery/action plot line that allows us more glimpses into Deanna's tendencies and how she might possibly train herself to control them.
There was an instance with Jeremy that I found pretty unbelievable given the circumstances, and the likelihood of her carrying out one of the tasks was a bit unrealistic, but I found the story so gripping it didn't affect my overall rating. The inner demons she struggles with on a daily basis sound terrifyingly plausible, and the book makes you wonder how many people we are surrounded by that have killing tendencies. The writing wasn't super literary, but perfect for the fast-paced story. A.R Torre spent time researching the sex industry and interviewing popular webcam girls to make the story be a realistic representation of what the job would entail. This is great read if the content won't offend, and you are searching for a can't-put-it-down book. Already downloaded book two, Do Not Disturb.
Monday, August 3, 2015
Published by Six-String Books, 2015. Paperback, 312 pgs.
PT Hylton's Booktube Channel
We open on a prison. Prisons absolutely terrify me. One of my worst fears is being set up for a crime and ending up in jail a la Orange is the New Black style. It wouldn't stop there. I'd end up getting an infraction of some sort and be put in solitary. Before this thought process is allowed to go further, let's discuss this novel. Frank Hinkle has been in prison for nine years. One day, he is unexpectedly given a reprieve from his sentence on the condition that he perform a certain task. In agreement, he is released to a vastly different Rook Mountain, Tennessee to the one he left. His friends and family are unrecognizable in their behaviors and lifestyle, his brother has disappeared, regulations are in place to keep the citizens of the town from leaving, and mysterious objects are found that end up being of paramount importance. Other than the basics, the less you know the better.
This book is a nice blend of elements. We have a Dystopian Tennessee setting nine years in the future, as well as flashback sections to the time before "Unregulated". We also have mystery/thriller/fantasy components with time travel thrown in for good measure. Regulation 19 is distinct and doesn't fit into any one specific genre. Due to the gritty style and excellent writing on a mystery in a small town, I'd liken Hylton's style to Stephen King if I had to think of the closest author comparison. My favorite settings are rustic so this added to my overall enjoyment. Woods, cabins, and mountains simultaneously give the story a comforting feel, but a sinister one as well due to isolation and the event that keeps it walled off from the rest of the world. The juxtaposition makes for an intriguing story.
I enjoy creepy small town stories, and this one delivered. I felt for all the characters and was interested in their relationships with each other. There are lots of twists and turns in this book, and, as some fellow reviewers have said (and I wholeheartedly agree) I never knew where the story was going and enjoyed the continuous surprises. There are a couple devices near the end that helped provide explanation and set the reader up for the second installment in the trilogy. This could easily have felt contrived, but it was done seamlessly and that impressed me even more.
I would also like to promote P.T. Hylton as a fellow Booktuber and a very nice, articulate person. Thrilled to say that I can wholeheartedly recommend his book as well. I was lucky to receive a signed copy with annotations throughout highlighting PT's thoughts/feelings on the scene or experience while writing. If you go here, you can get signed copies and also buy all three books in the trilogy for $32.95 (includes shipping-US only.) All three can be shipped to the UK for $59.95. I recommend buying directly from him for the great personalization! I'm very excited to see how A Place Without Shadows deals with the changes presented in book one. Highly recommend!