Monday, December 31, 2012

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott - Ashley's Review

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

As a math major, I really enjoyed this book. It introduced the concept of multiple dimensions without sounding too much like a textbook, and romanticized geometry without straying too far from actual facts.

I thought the personification of the shapes and lines and points was very well done. I especially enjoyed the sections where A. Square explains how two dimensional shapes see, hear, move, and live. Although it could be slow at times, it really helped to visualize how creatures of other dimensions might behave. Especially those of a fourth dimension, since we live in a three dimensional world.

The book is highly conceptual, and while I think that someone who isn't well versed in math or theory could enjoy this book, I think that someone with at least basic understand of shapes, dimensions, and theory would come away with more. I would give this book a 4/5 though, and recommend it to all of my nerd friends, and anyone who might be interested in learning a little something about math through a fictional medium.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce - Ashley's Review

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Pre-Reading
Paul's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

I have been looking forward to reading Fathomless since I first heard that Jackson Pearce was using "The Little Mermaid" as the inspiration for her third book in the "Fairytale Retellings" series. I loved her takes on "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Hansel and Gretel," and this was no exception. I've always enjoyed Disney's take on "The Little Mermaid," and although I hadn't heard the original fairy tale until more recently, I think the darker spin on it makes it even more interesting. I loved how she took the idea of mermaids and made them all her own, and how she subtly tied Fathomless to Sisters Red and Sweetly.

I've always been interested in meeting the Reynolds girls, and I'm so glad we finally got to learn more about them and their place in the story. I thought that Celia was the most interesting of the three, and I'm very glad that one of the perspectives in this book was hers. Although her situation reminded me a little bit of Rosie March and her struggle with her sister, I think it was done very well and the story wasn't too much like the sibling relationship in Sisters Red. I also liked the each sister could see the past, present, or future and that each learns to control her powers in different ways.

Lo was probably my favorite character in this book because I have no idea if I should like her or hate her. It's sometimes hard to tell if her intentions are good or bad, and if she as actually a creature to be feared. She's such a dynamic, round character, and I really enjoyed reading the sections from her perspective.

The way Pearce writes this book is also really interesting, and I don't think I've ever read anything like it. I've heard it described as being from "2.5 perspectives," and I agree with that. I don't want to give anything away with that, but if you've read the other two books in the series, it will make perfect sense.

Although I kind of knew where this story was going, after having read Sweetly, I thought that the background and the explanation of the "mermaids" was very well done. Especially when it's revealed to the main characters how they are formed and what they later become. The pacing was excellent, and I never felt like the story dragged or had too many erroneous details.

If you've read the rest of Pearce's Fairytale Retellings, you should definitely pick up Fathomless. If you haven't, this book can be read as a standalone, but you won't get as much out of it (so go read Sisters Red and Sweetly)! I would give this a 5/5 and definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of either Jackson Pearce or twists on classic fairy tales.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Calling by Kelly Armstrong - Ashley's Pre-reading

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Calling
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Year Published: 2012

Maya Delaney’s paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is—a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they’re kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

I won this book from a HarperTeen tweetstakes a while back. So, I bought the first book (The Gathering) and read it a few months ago. I finally got around to this book, so I'm excited to find out where Maya and her friends are at now.

Expectations: I'm expecting this novel to pick up right where The Gathering left off - with the kids in a helicopter escaping the forest fire raging in Salmon Creek. I'm also expecting Maya to start coming to terms with her powers and actually using them, as well as finally shape shifting. I'm sure there will be some added mystery and some added conflict as well, although I'm not sure what exactly.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover is very similar to the cover  for The Gathering - it's just a girl's face. I probably wouldn't pick this up off of a shelf if I saw it in a book store or in the library, only because it isn't really unique and it doesn't stand out like so many covers do now. I do like it though, and I think it fits the books. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Katya's World by Jonathan L. Howard - Ashley's Review

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

*I received this book as an eARC on Netgalley from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

The whole premise of this book - that an entire civilization has come from Earth and developed on a planet completely covered with water - is what originally drew me in. I'm always up for a good story that takes place in extraordinary conditions. Throw in a little bit of mystery (what kind of monster lives in the depths of the ocean that can destroy an entire planet??), some pirates, and a strong heroine, and you've got me hook, line, and sinker. Although it wasn't exactly what I expected, Howard did not fail to deliver with Katya's World.

I think my favorite part of this book was definitely the world building. Howard had to take something completely new and fashion it in a way that the reader could relate. At times, I would forget that this entire story was taking place under the ocean and then I'd be hit with some subtle detail and be amazed all over again at how Howard created such a place. Plus, all of the new devices and such the Russalkans had to create in order to adapt to living underwater just seemed so real and like something that might one day exist.

Although the name of the world is adapted from Russian, it seems like there was quite a bit of Russian influence that was lacking. I understand that after the war, many of the Russalkans wanted nothing to do with Earth and any of their ancestors, but I think it would have been a nice touch to have included a little bit more of the Russian culture into the novel.

One of the only things that really bothered me about this novel was the pacing in some places. I felt like Katya and her fellow Russalkans would be off worrying about one problem and trying to figure out a solution when all of a sudden - BAM! - here's something new and completely unrelated! While it did keep me on the edge of my seat, there were points when I felt so anxious and really would have just liked one or two simple conflicts to have been resolved.

I really liked Katya, but I didn't think that her personality was very well matched with her age. I don't see any fifteen year olds ever acting like Katya, and I think it would have been better to have had her a little bit older.  Even 17 or 18 would have made things a little more believable. The supporting characters, however, were excellent. Especially the pirates and the Leviathan. I loved how the creature was constructed and then how it evolved over time. Even if this had taken place on a normal planet, I think the characters would have carried the story and made it just as engaging.

If I were to try and explain this book to someone, I think it would be fairly difficult. It's one of those books that doesn't fit into just on genre, but I think that it definitely works in this case. You've got a little bit of dystopia and post apocalyptic going on, and definitely a lot of science fiction. I mean, they live on a world completely covered by oceans. And of course there's the YA nature of the young protagonist. So, I would probably recommend this book to anyone who enjoys hardcore Sci-Fi, but is looking for a younger cast and an easier to read story. I would give this book a  4/5, and I will definitely be looking for the rest of the Russalka Chronicles!


Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm back!

As you probably noticed, November was a very slow month here. December has started off pretty slow too.

Between school and work and everything else, I barely had any extra time, and my blogging definitely suffered because of it. But now it's Winter Break, and I have time to catch up!

Be on the lookout for quite a few posts coming your way! I'm going to try and catch up on all of my reviews and pre-readings and everything in the next couple of days.

I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get back in to the swing of things, but thanks for sticking it out!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Volume One- Force Storm (Paul's Review)

***eARC provided by Dark Horse Comics on netgalley***

Title: Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Volume One - Force Storm
Author: John Ostrander
Year Published: 2012

***Release Date: December 12, 2012***

Review: The only comic book series I have consistently read since I was a kid is Star Wars. I would save up my money to get the trade paperbacks of the Clone Wars as they came out. Recently, I have fallen behind. I read the first few volumes of the Legacy series and really liked John Ostrander's writing. When I heard about the Dawn of the Jedi series, I was very excited to get back into the Star Wars world. 

This series takes place 36,453 years before the battle of Yavin. There is no separation of the Jedi between light and dark or Jedi and Sith. The Jedi are known as the Je'daii. They don't even use lightsabers! They have swords. Ostrander did a good job of simplifying the technology. Everything takes place within one solar system. There is an outside force, though.

I liked how the many species I am familiar with from the Star Wars universe appear. The main cast is diverse and full of many interesting characters. Some classic Star Wars tropes are played with, but I can tell these characters will pave their own paths. 

I really enjoyed the art work. Star Wars comics always find a way to incorporate the original feel of the movies, having things in the background that catch your eye. This makes the world richer and fuller. 

I look forward to continuing to read the Dawn of the Jedi series. I may have to go to my local comic store and pick up the individuals as I don't know if I'll be able to wait for the trade paperbacks. 

I give Volume One a 4/5. I can't wait to see where these characters go!