Sci-Fi & Scary

Just a girl who reads and reviews science fiction and horror novels. Reviews are flavored with snark, bawdy humor, and the occasional firm dressing down over bad writing.

Sawfish Review (audio book)

Sawfish - Rick Chesler

I knew there was a chance that I would be disappointed when I decided to purchase Sawfish, given what I've read from the author in the past. However, I really like his ideas, and this sounded like the perfect sort of relaxing monster novel to listen to. It's been a while since I had one of those, so I decided to give Mr. Chesler another chance.

I wish I hadn't.

Sawfish has a great concept. It sets up perfectly to be this rip-roaring, monster-of-the-deep sort of novel. It had the potential to be so-bad-it's-good. Instead it was just bad. The sawfish was cool, don't get me wrong. The problem is that the author spends way too much time on the two main characters. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, except in this case both of the main characters are unlikable idiots!

For fans of The Walking Dead, Raymond is an evil Eugene. At least that's how I pictured him in my head. It didn't help that the narrator had that sort of nasal tone which built the ticked-off nerd image in your head. (The narrator was a perfect choice for this book, actually. I think it made it feel a bit more believable being told in that particular tone.) He wants revenge and then he wants to get back the attention he feels he rightly deserves. He's a toe rag.

But I will give Rick Chesler this: Even though Raymond is a douche, I still found myself rooting for him. When he's going up against the sawfish, I was hoping he'd win. He's not a likable character by any means, but you do find yourself cheering for him occasionally.


Elise is worse than Raymond is, and that's saying something. It's been a while since I disliked a female character as intensely as I disliked her. At least he had intelligence going for him, even if his personality and ego often overruled it. I spent too much of the book actively hoping something gruesome happened to her.

My favorite chapters were the sawfish attacks. The characters in them were often throwaways, but I didn't care. Those were the sections of the novel that I wanted to read more of. Anything so that I wouldn't have to listen to Raymond whine, boast, and plan.

Most of the ending was pretty good. The location and how things got rigged up was unique. The author did a great job of painting the scene in my mind. But the last few pages ruined it for me. My opinion already wasn't high on the book, and then we have something completely unbelievable happen from one of the characters. The twist wasn't believable. Not even a little bit.

Overall, it was a great concept and was voiced by a good narrator. I just didn't care for the actual execution or the characters. Can't recommend it.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/sawfish-review

Sarah Review

Sarah - Teri Polen

Teri Polen’s Sarah is a pleasingly creepy young adult horror. Fans of Supernatural will be delighted with this book. If you’ve ever watched any of those typical high-school rom-coms/dramas where guys make a bet to trick a girl, and boo’d at the screen, you’ll enjoy Sarah. It’s a twisted take on a classic plot that will make horror fans cheer. This is the version they were waiting on.

 

Cain and his best friend Finn are good kids that both have their heads screwed on straight. Cain took on a lot of responsibility after his dad’s death, and that definitely made him grow up a bit. Finn, too, has had his share of problems. They could be the male version of Mary-Sues if Polen hadn’t written in some believable flaws. But they’re not perfect, and that makes all the difference. Quick tempers, wicked tongues, and Finn’s desire to needle every one around him means that at any given time, someone’s probably thinking about punching him. Or Cain. Or both. The rest of the characters are appropriately likable or detestable. Except for Lindsay. She’s a bit of a non-entity.

 

I liked that the author made a few salient points in Sarah about the mindset towards sexual assault. There was more than one conversation or interaction when I just sat back in my chair and sighed after reading it. It was utterly realistic. Teenagers are, as a rule of thumb, very selfish individuals, and it seems like jocks in particular excel in this. They think they can get away with anything, and/or that the world revolves around them. It’s behavior that’s either never corrected, or not corrected until it’s too late.

 

Hasn’t recent events proven that if a boy can score several touchdowns per game, who cares how many girls he assaults, right? We all know they were asking for it anyways. Or if adult males make enough money, they can do anything they want to girls, because they believe they are more important than the girls are. And these types of beliefs are constantly getting reinforced in today’s society.

It’s disturbing and disgusting and Teri Polen shows the reader a path to douche-hood that hundreds of young men start down every day.

 

I did, however, have one huge problem with Sarah. Sarah, herself. Well, her dialogue to be specific. For the most part, I liked her. I liked seeing the change. I puzzled over what, exactly, was going on with her. Yes, I thought she was vengeance-crazed ghost thing, but she was a fun vengeance-crazed ghost thing. Until she opened her mouth. Pretty much every time she started talking, it was like someone just hit the ‘off’ button on my interest in the story.

 

I understand that her background means that we could expect a certain amount of dialogue that seemed unusual for her age range. I was fully willing to accept that. But Sarah presented with lines that went between disturbingly formal and super-villain monolog. Luckily, her talkative scenes appear in bursts, so for most of the story it’s really not an issue.

 

Sarah is a book that takes a bit to get going, but overall it’s an easy, enjoyable creepy read. I was definitely hooked fairly early on, and read the book in two bursts over two days. It comes in at just under 200 pages, so it’s not something that demands a lot of your time. If you like horror, but don’t like it too gory or scary, this will probably be a great choice. Teri Polen did a pretty solid job.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley for review consideration

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/sarah-review

Stone Cold Bastards Review

Stone Cold Bastards - Jake Bible

Forget clawed mutants and moody men of steel. Jake Bible’s Grotesques are the heroes this world needs. Stone Cold Bastards is outright bloody fun. I love zombies, and I’m a fan of the author’s Z-Burbia series, but I think this was much better. It is a gust of fresh air blowing away some of the rancid post-apocalyptic rot pervading the genre.

 

Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn. If you cannot watch it burn, then you at least want to see geysers of blood and rib-cage battering rams. If none of those are available, chocolate will suffice. Luckily for me, I didn’t need to resort to chocolate. Jake Bible’s Stone Cold Bastards gave me all the head-bursting violence my blackened heart could want.

 

It also appealed to the teen in me. The one who discovered the show Gargoyles and sat in front of the TV for hours on end, watching the protectors of New York kick evil guy butt. Though you daren’t call the Stone Cold Bastards anything other than Grotesques, it’s clear there is a resemblance. Living stone attached to a sanctuary are moved halfway across the world to America and take up their positions as guardians.  These herculean heroes of various proportions are a bit cruder and less puppy-doggish than the Gargoyles I knew and loved, but they have an undeniable appeal. Especially the shotgun toting fairies with mouths that would make a sailor blush.

Though Stone Cold Bastards doesn’t exactly hit the ground running, by the time you’re halfway through the book, you’ve forgotten the real world exists. A literary treat that will have you on the edge of your seat, always ready to do a fist pump and cheer the Grotesques on. Morty and company burst to life in your mind’s eye. As tension builds and the violence becomes almost non-stop, it’s impossible to put down.

 

And Bible’s world in Stone Cold Bastards is a scary one. There are no zombies, but instead, there are demons. In this new post-apocalyptic world, the gates of Hell have opened and demons are queuing up to take their turns in the meat bags there were inheriting the earth. But human bodies can’t contain the festering rot of evil for long, and as the book opens, there’s only one Sanctuary of uncorrupted humanity left.  What makes this so scary, though, is that in this world all it takes is eye contact to become possessed. Bible takes something that we take for granted and twists it effortlessly into something with terrifying consequences.

 

By the time I was 30 pages from the end of Stone Cold Bastards, I was grinning like a loon. After it had finished, I went full on fangirl squealing and bugging my book-reviewing compadres to put it on their To-Read list immediately. I haven’t shown so much geekish excitement over a book since I read Andy Weir’s The Martian a few years ago.

 

Even a few days later, I still grin every time I think about the awesomeness that is Stone Cold Bastards. It’s an unashamedly campy, no-holds-barred post-apocalyptic thrill ride that will make you cheer. And maybe do a little Snoopy dance. (Or maybe that’s just me. What can I say? Some gals go gaga for romance, some go nuts for butt-kicking.)

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/stone-cold-bastards-review

First Contact Review

First Contact - Kat Green

First Contact is a paranormal horror story with a couple unexpected elements to it. The authors that make up the Kat Green team did a good job in presenting a story that read easily and engagingly. Sloane is an interesting character that is on a quest that most people who have lost someone they love can understand. Sometimes you’re driven by grief to do things that don’t make sense.

 

The pacing is good and quick in First Contact. Everything happens in a short amount of time. It almost seems too short before you remember that in haunted houses anything can happen. The dialogue creepy and suitable. There was a red herring thrown in that almost got me, I’ll admit. I particularly liked near the end when Sloane had gotten in over her head. The descriptions were well done enough that everything was easy to visualize. I wouldn’t want to suffer the way many of the victims did, that’s for sure.

 

However, there were some problems with First Contact. Mainly, Sloane’s an idiot that’s completely lacking in common sense. The bad guy all but screams “You’re next, missy!” and she walks right into danger. Repeatedly. A person that she trusts tells her “Don’t do (x) yet, wait for me.” and she refuses to listen to him.  And at the point where she’s really being stupid, it’s no longer as much about finding the ghost of her dead fiance as it is finding out what’s going on. This takes her from a mostly believable character to one that feels like she’s written just to get into the scary situations. A tool for the authors to scare us through that feels like nothing more than that.

 

First Contact felt like it didn’t take me long at all to finish it, and I definitely enjoyed myself. With that being said, I can’t say I’ll be on the lookout for anything from Kat Green in the future. It was a good read, but not good enough to make me want to come back for more. It just didn’t have enough of an impact, or feel original enough, for me to want to see what they do in the future.

Overall, a good read, though.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book whilst participating in a book tour hosted through YA Bound Blog tours.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/first-contact-review

Ninefox Gambit Review

Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee

There are some books that demand your full attention and dedication to reading the monster, but they pay off in the end. They’ll never be books you rave about, but you’re glad you read them for one reason or another. (Aurora, 2312, etc.) And there are books like Ninefox Gambit. They demand full attention and dedication to reading it, but at no point ever provide a payoff.

 

Even though most math makes me run screaming in the opposite direction, I did like the premise of a math-based system of fighting. Too bad it just feels like the author took your basic fantasy mage skills and substituted math words instead of spell words. And that ticks me off. The first fight that we see Cheris and her troops in completely caught my attention. I was entranced and ready to dive in. And then the magic, pardon the pun, started slipping away. It became just another variant (sorry) of the stuff that bores me in fantasy novels.

 

Fans of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth will find familiar ground in the faction-separated systems in Ninefox Gambit. However, unlike in Roth’s series (which I did not finish, just to be clear), there are no heroes to root for. The characters in Ninefox Gambit are pale imitations of human beings shoved into the roles needed for the author play out his epic battles. I think I was supposed to care about Jedao’s backstory, but I didn’t. Even at the end it was very much “That’s nice, dear” instead of “Oh, that explains it all!”

 

I’m willing to admit that part of my problem with Ninefox Gambit is probably a lack of cultural understanding. The closest I’ve ever come to understanding any Eastern culture is regular visits to the local noodle house. So I don’t understand the calendrical naming system, the emphasis on presentation and conformity, etc. I don’t understand how things could develop to the point they have in this novel. And the sheer amount of calm discussion and introspection in lieu of action in this book made me want to fall over and start snoring.

 

The sad thing is that about midway through chapter fifteen, Ninefox Gambit actually started to catch my interest again. Even amuse me. But it’s yet another one of those cases where it’s too little, too late.

 

Overall, Ninefox Gambit just felt like a colossal waste of time that didn’t satisfy me on any level.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/ninefox-gambit-review/#more-26992

The Devil You Know Review

The Devil You Know - Mike Carey

The Devil You Know was my second book by Mike Carey, although I didn’t realize it until after I’d already purchased the book. The first, of course, was The Girl With All The Gifts. While it wasn’t exactly filled with suspense, there was a good bit of a mystery involved in it. Carey did a great job of giving as a familiar yet unfamiliar world. You also can’t help but root for the main character.

 

There were so many snarky quips in this book that had me rolling. Michael Kramer does a great job delivering Castor’s lines with such a dry wit that it takes a minute to realize the insult that’s just been delivered. If you are quite the religious person, I highly recommend that you avoid this book. Castor is decidedly anti-church, and he let’s people know it, both in direct remarks and in thoughts.

 

A paranormal mystery with an exorcist slash beginner gumshoe, The Devil You Know is set in a world where all sorts of abnormal creatures walk the earth. There are zombies, rougaroos, ghosts, demons, succubi, so on and so forth. The world has been dealing with this new state of things for quite a while, so you get a sense of ‘the new normal’ after the world has adjusted to the big event. There were not many references to what happened, or to the details of how it happened, and I found that refreshing. Sometimes you don’t need an epic recounting of a calamitous event. The after is just as fun.

 

From beginning to end, the book is well-paced and intriguing. The characters aren’t exactly fully fleshed out, but they don’t need to be. Felix is a fantastic grey-shaded protagonist. He has no qualms with admitting to why he does things. He’s also not above blackmailing or doing whatever is necessary to get things done. Underneath it all, though, he’s essentially a good guy, and that’s part of why he’s so darn likable.

 

This is not a book for the easily offended. But, if you’re able to enjoy a little bawdy humor and a good dose of snark, you’ll love what you’re reading/listening to. I definitely intend on picking up the rest of this series. The Devil You Know was just too entertaining for me to walk away from it after just one book. (And that’s extremely rare for me.)

 

I definitely recommend fans of paranormal and supernatural mysteries pick this up. And from what I’ve read of The Dresden Files, if you’re a fan of that type of urban fantasy, The Devil You Know will be right up your alley as well.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/devil-you-know-review

Atavus Falls Review

Atavus Falls - Jack J. Carroll

I always feel bad when I'm reviewing a debut book with a negative opinion. Especially when it's obvious that the author tried really hard. I'm going to be as constructive as possible.

Atavus Falls was a great idea. The idea of language being a virus is one that has been played with a few times, and I'm definitely open to seeing more exploration of the idea. However, I think that type of story needs the hand of an experienced writer to guide it, and Atavus Falls did not have that.

-The multiple points of view did not work well. Maybe if they had been pared down a bit, it would have seemed a bit more cohesive. As it was, it was more a scramble to remember who was who when they were talking.

-The language was, ah, over the top. I think most of it is typical first book stuff. Everyone imagines him/herself to be the next great literary figurehead. They lose their story in the desire to make it sound gorgeous.

Not all stories need to sound gorgeous. Sometimes one needs to err on the side of sparsity rather than give in to the urge to be loquacious about the mundane.

-Between the excessive language and the overpopulated POV changes, the story came across extremely muddled. I spent several moments trying to figure out when and where we were in the story at times. I don't like the switches in time and space even when it's very well done. When it's not, my dislike deepens until another word fits it entirely.

There are other things, but these are the big ones.

I will say that I did like the ending. I do feel that the book got a lot better around the 65% point. I think if the author learns to make sure what he's saying is important to the story, and clear, he'll improve by bounds.

Unfortunately, I just can't recommend this story.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for review consideration.

Emerging (Subdue #2) Review

Emerging (Subdue) (Volume 2) - Thomas S Flowers

Emerging is the second book in the Subdue series by Thomas S. Flowers. I reviewed the other book, Dwelling, several months back.  Dwelling gave the reader interesting characters, and a good setup, but basically no action. Emerging, thankfully, drops right into the thick of things. Also, even though it had been a while since I’d read the last book, I had no problem picking up the threads of the story again.

 

Emerging is an easy read for the most part. I finished the first half of it in a ridiculously short amount of time. The pacing in this one is better than in the other. The dialogue is fine. There are some great lines in it. I giggled at the Pastafarian reference in particular. It was the first time I remember seeing His Noodliness mentioned in a book, and it cracked me up.

 

The characters are just as good in the second book as they were in the first. But Ricky is probably the most interesting character. Well, the most memorable at least. It’s hard to not to fixate on the insect-infested zombie who keeps showing up to his PTSD-affected best friend. Especially when you realize that he’s not there to haunt Johnathan. Instead, he’s trying to care for his wife from beyond the grave for as long as he can. Bobby was a close runner-up.  I did find that I didn’t feel as much for Jonathan as I did in the first book. He pulled some stupid moves in this book that just made me want to slap him.

 

But, the repetition got to me. Emerging got off to a great start, and it held strong at first. But I got tired of reading about cicadas, and bulbous red eyes, mandibles, and the sounds that they make. The odd emphasis on the word cicadas near the end of the book. Flowers has talent, but he seems to have let himself fall into lazy writing habits for the last part of the book. It brought the quality of the book down a good bit. It could have ended on a such a strong note, but didn’t. In fact, the closer I got to the end, the angrier I got about what I was reading, because I knew he could do better.

 

Overall, Emerging is a decent read, but it doesn’t come close to being as good as it could have been.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author for review consideration.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/emerging-review

The Devil's Prayer Review

The Devil's Prayer - Luke Gracias

I don’t feel like the blurb for The Devil’s Prayer does it justice. But I also think it would be really hard to do a blurb that really did tell you what this book was about. Some of the book is fairly typical fare. Deals with the devil, prophecies, and the possible end of the world. Then there’s the historical fiction aspect of it. Which, if you’re someone into religious history, provides enough actual facts to make you happy. For the horror hounds, there’s some of that too, around the second quarter. So, there’s obviously a lot going on.

 

The first three-quarters of The Devil’s Prayer were awesome. There was the mystery, the horror, the clues all coming together. We got the beginnings of an answer to a question that was asked early on. Once I really sat down to concentrate on the book, I read through 50 percent of it in one night. And the last quarter was good, too. But in a very different way. Unfortunately, the last quarter doesn’t really match with the first three in any way other than covering the relevant subject matter.

 

It felt like Luke Gracias got almost done with the book, and then decided to turn it into a history paper at the end. The material he covered was fascinating, and stuff I’d definitely look up in my free time when I was in the mood for it. However, when I’m three-quarters of the way through a fiction book, I’m not in the mood to come to a full stop for a preachy, hand-holding history lesson. My interest in what I was reading swiftly fizzled. Instead of getting the climax and story resolution I was hoping for, I was suddenly just hoping it would end soon.

 

The way The Devil’s Prayer is told is a bit flip-floppy. It’s told journal-style, interspersed with present-day action. My one problem with journal style – and I’ve had this thought with a couple other books – is that it feels unrealistic. No one is going to be as detailed in their journals about every little interaction as they are in these types of books. (And I know this is partially on me, for not being able to completely suspend reality, but it bothers me.) I was able to push it aside, for the most part, and just enjoy what I was reading. Luke Gracias does a good job of giving us a character we can care about in Denise Russo, even if we know she’s already dead when we start to get to know her. Siobhan is pretty much just an audience substitute in this book.

 

Overall, The Devil’s Prayer isn’t a bad read by any means. But it’s not exactly the smoothest read with the way it ends. Luke Gracias is talented, though, and obviously a religious history enthusiast. I think we’ll see some great work from him in the future. Also, I would be shocked if The Devil’s Prayer doesn’t have a sequel already being written. The book ends, if not exactly on a cliffhanger, without a feeling of plot resolution.

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author for review consideration.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/devils-prayer-review

Wrathbone and Other Stories Review

Wrathbone and Other Stories - Jason  Parent

The titular story, Wrathbone, was a fantastically disturbing read. The unreliable narrator - was he crazy? wasn't he? - was used to the fullest advantage here. That narration combined with Parent's flair for describing mind-melting scenes of horror delivered pure awesomeness. Henry Rathbone was a figure I desperately wanted to save. I felt a surprising amount of pity for him rather quickly. I found myself actually hoping things would work out for the best for the family. (Which is unusual considering I'm normally happy to see lots of death.)

 

The Only Good Lawyer was one of those cases where you knew it was going to end with a serious comeuppance. And yet knowing that it was going to end a certain way did absolutely nothing to abolish my enjoyment of the read. In fact, Parent still managed to deliver a small surprise at the end of the story. I was so caught up in what I was reading that I'd forgotten a key point. I rather enjoyed it!

 

Dorian's Mirror was odd. I didn't like it as much as the previous two, but it had an appeal that I can't deny. Obviously a riff on The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian's Mirror is for the modern age. I think what draws me to it is the obsession with eyeballing the things we see wrong with us. It's hard to look away from a perceived fault. And although Parent carries it to extremes here, the root is the same.

 

For the Birds was my least favorite. There wasn't anything wrong with it, necessarily. But, given the quality the author delivered with the other three stories, it seemed a cheap shot. Possibly even filler. This was a story I'd expect from someone who relied far more on shock and gore tactics than true talent to get someone creeped out.

 

Revenge is a Dish finishes this collection of stories, and changes my opinion on the book overall. Reading Wrathbone I thought I was in for a pure horror treat. By the time I was done with Revenge is a Dish, I feel like I've just finished with a collection of Tales from the Crypt episodes. Pretty typical revenge story fare about a chef that got caught stuffing his sausage somewhere he shouldn't have and feels he's the wronged party.

 

Overall, the stories range between okay to awesome, with Wrathbone maybe setting the bar a bit too high. Jason Parent has the ability to do some truly wicked things with his mind. I hope he continues to cultivate his talent and doesn't take the easy roads for horror too much in the future.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author for review consideration.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/wrathbone-and-other-stories-review

The Devil Crept In Review

The Devil Crept In - Ania Ahlborn

Ania Ahlborn pumps fresh blood into a familiar plot with The Devil Crept In. Small towns, unspeakable evil, and missing kids are plot staples that every horror author plays with at some time. But The Devil Crept In doesn’t feel like it’s running down a well-worn path. Instead, there’s just enough familiarity to coax you into a false sense of security. You’ll finish it with a sigh of satisfaction if you’ve been craving a classic type of horror read.

 

The main character is Stevie who is a ten-year-old boy with some form of mental illness. He is cognizant enough of his mental state to realize that he’s not normal. His word salad, hallucinations, etc, are all things that he deals with daily. He has no friends, his dad left because of it, and he’s pretty much ostracized in the town because he’s ‘the weird kid’. Basically, a fairly accurate representation of the isolation and struggles that someone with untreated mental illness goes through on a daily basis. While I do have some associations with adult schizophrenics and other people with mental illnesses, I have never talked with one suffering from echolalia or seen them deal with visual hallucinations. So, I say ‘fairly accurate’ without having specific backup experience, just to be clear.

 

So, needless to say, when the feces flies, Stevie isn’t exactly the most reliable witness. But he’s a curious, brave, and strong little boy who is determined to find out what has happened to his cousin/best friend Jude. What he finds would be enough to scare the dickens out of even the most mentally stable person. What he finds is on a level that would make even ‘normal’ kids be given the stink-eye. But Stevie, like all plucky kid heroes, doesn’t sit back and shut up. In The Devil Crept In, Stevie’s bravery bursts out.  Stevie’s communication issues never make reading the story an issue, by the way.

 

The Devil Crept In is a disturbing, atmospheric novel that channels some old-school horror greatness. Two stories are told, with one starting several years back and leading up to present day. The switching back and forth is not excessive, and Ahlborn is careful about how much she reveals. There are characters to root for (sometimes even against your will) and well-placed action. Readers with kids may find a few of the scenes to be hard to handle, but it’s worth it to push through them.

Ania Ahlborn has already proven to be a talented horror writer. If she continues to deliver novels of the calibre we see in The Devil Crept In, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with in a few years.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley for review consideration.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/the-devil-crept-in-review/#more-26478

Zombie Bigfoot Review

Zombie Bigfoot (Creature Quest Series Book 1) - Nick Sullivan

Zombie Bigfoot took a while to get going, but once it did it was quite the read. This sets out to be Syfy level campy trash (not a bad thing!), and it succeeds with wild abandon. From the ridiculous characters like the hunter to the multitudes of pulpy kills it aims to please the low-budget movie aficionado. This takes a certain amount of skill, as its way too easy to fail horribly at producing something horribly good. Nick Sullivan does a great job, especially considering this is his début work.

As I said, Zombie Bigfoot was a bit of a slow burn in the beginning. I actually put the book down a few times and read stuff that was more immediately interesting. However, I kept coming back to it, and eventually, it paid off. By the end of the book, I was completely into it and rooting for Brighteyes and… well, Brighteyes. Though Littlefoot does make an impression of his own with one particular scene that was pure epicness.

Sullivan’s take on the zombie virus isn’t exactly new but it’s so rarely done that it’s still interesting to read. In Zombie Bigfoot just because you’re undead doesn’t mean you’re stupid. You’re filled with rage and think other members of your species (and others) look tasty, but you’re definitely not stupid.

The dialogue is good, the pacing is decent, and the action is delivered in spades. If you like overly dramatic gory kills (and would you be looking at this book review if you weren’t interested in that type of thing?), then Zombie Bigfoot will make you go all squishy inside.

One of the last things (literally) that impressed me was the epilogue(s) of Zombie Bigfoot. Normally I absolutely hate them, but Nick Sullivan did the perfect ones. The first one cracked me up and the second made me excited to see what happens in the next book.

Overall, Zombie Bigfoot was an enjoyable read that gave me just enough violence, action, and over-the-top drama to make me go all warm and fuzzy inside.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author for review consideration.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/zombie-bigfoot-review

2312 Review

2312 - Kim Stanley Robinson

There were many things I loved about 2312. It was filled with imagination and a foretelling of life from the most basic level to the grandest. It had the potential to sweep the reader up and carry them off into a world that was richly detailed in all the right places, and yet left the perfect amount to the imagination. Below are some of my favorite things.

 

Post-Binary Gender. I loved the idea of a society at ease with post-binary gender. How do things change when toxic displays of masculinity and ridiculous femininity are no longer present? When we’re no longer held back by even the simplest expectation that only ‘girls’ can have the babies? Imagine being able to experience being a parent from both sides of the equation. But even better? Imagine being able to be with large groups of people that don’t judge someone because of their gender or lack thereof. For some of us that would be like heaven. I hope that people that fall into that group one day get a chance to experience it.

 

Turning asteroids into terrariums.  The idea fascinates me. There is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.9 million asteroids in the asteroid belt alone that are over a half mile in diameter. It might be a long time before we have the capability to terraform asteroids, but imagine what we can do once we can. Kim Stanley Robinson focuses on the ability to save animals from extinction by breeding them in asteroids. Notice I said “in”. He makes a very good point in 2312 that it would be much easier to hollow out an asteroid and create a protected space than it would be to try to protect people or animals on the outside of one.

 

While I absolutely love the idea of saving endangered species (and yes, being able to experiment with evolution on different ones), my first thought wasn’t about animals. It was about me. I would love to have my own asteroid that I could go to when I needed to get away from people. Wouldn’t you? Even if it was only a half mile in diameter, I would be fine with that. A half mile with no people besides myself is perfectly fine.

 

Terraforming the planets. This one just made me do a happy dance because I love Robinson’s visions. A massive city on Mercury that moves on tracks around the center of the planet so that it’s never directly in the sunlight? While it’s one of those things that really only seems like it would be done just to say you can do it, it sounds so cool!! Or putting the much-needed nitrogen into Mars’ atmosphere by freezing chunks of it on Titan, and booting it to Mars? And his speculation about ways to make Venus livable? I absolutely love this man’s mind.

 

There’s even a huge thread running throughout the book that talks about the evolution of artificial intelligence. That is pretty much a staple of science fiction classics, but the way Robinson puts the pieces in place in 2312 keeps it interesting.  After all, there are good and bad humans, so why not the same for artificial intelligence? Even just the possible development of pseudo-emotions is something to set your mind to chewing on.

 

At the end of 2312 Robinson brings everything together with a timely reminder. That though we may not see the change our actions are making now, decades from now, we will. There will be stumbles, trips, and falls. There will be times when things look hopeless, but as long as we keep pushing forward, things will change. We will enter a new age.

 

In my opinion, if Kim Stanley Robinson would just learn to throttle back on his output per book, there would be no disputing him as the best science fiction writer alive today. Unfortunately, his tendency to try to do a little too much in each book leads to an unfortunate case of bloat which can put the casual reader off.  2312 was a book full of fascinating ideas and breathtaking visualization. But it was easy to lose sight of that. Especially about halfway through the book where things slow to an ungainly crawl. His imagination is wonderful, but I don’t think the man is capable of writing a book with consistent, good pacing.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/2312-review

Biblical Review

Biblical by Galt, Christopher (2014) Hardcover - Christopher Galt

Biblical screwed with my head on so many levels. SO many. It’s been a while since I read a book took me by surprise. Even longer since I’ve read one that took me by surprise on multiple occasions. Craig Russell, writing as Christopher Galt, delivers what can only be called a tour de force with Biblical.

 

I didn’t love Biblical from start to finish as I was reading it. There were a few times while reading it that I was sure that he was going to disappointment. There were some red herrings early on that had me rolling my eyes. Luckily he only spent as much time with them as he needed to before returning to the story proper. There was even one point early on when I walked away from the story for a few days because I thought there was no way it was going to be saved from the corner it felt like he was writing into. But I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. Because soon after, it kicked into straight up Inception-level screwiness. And when it was over, I found myself sitting back and staring at the Audible app in admiration.

 

Biblical was also a hard book for me to rate. I know I just called it a tour de force, and overall it is. It would have been very easy for this book to fail horribly.  It took some serious skill to keep it from spiraling down into a hot mess. Russell avoids that, but he doesn’t quite succeed at avoiding all the issues. At the same time, whether some of them are truly issues is actually debatable. For example, there is basically no character development in this book.

 

I can see where lots of people might have a problem with the lack of character development. For me, though, it wasn’t an issue. I didn’t really care about MacBeth or anyone else. I cared about the puzzle Russell was laying out. I think everyone’s experienced deja vu at some point in their life. Biblical’s whole plot seems to be based around “Well, what if it’s not just in your head?” except for the part where its hard to tell what, exactly, is in your head. And then there’s the ethics of creating an artificial intelligence and the exploration of the powers of belief, amongst other things. Biblical grabs so many of the higher-level questions that I love to ponder on occasion, and draws them into the story in a way that kept me hooked.

 

For a book that’s all about humanity – earth’s – ‘been there, done that’, Biblical is unlike anything I’ve read in… well, ever. I honestly can’t think of a book I could compare it to.  The only thing I would possibly change about the book is the name because I’m sure there are many others that shied away from it because of the fear it would be some Second Coming shtick in the end. (I’m happy to report it definitely wasn’t.) Yeah, it has its issues, but the pros far, far outweigh the cons.

Biblical is a must read /listen. (Ray Porter narrates it, so my vote is for listen, of course!)

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/biblical-review

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) Review

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse) (Volume 1) - Dennis E. Taylor

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is a book that’s hard to describe.  Bob is an interesting character in that he seems like a nobody. I don’t mean that in a bad way. He’s just ‘that guy’. Yes, he got rich by selling off his software company, but he doesn’t even really have time to enjoy it before crap starts. He’s a snarky atheist nerd whom you probably wouldn’t look twice at on the street. But he’s a good guy. Amusing in that way that makes you regret overlooking him initially. I hesitated on getting this book for a while. The synopsis didn’t really catch my attention, and the cover was your basic science fiction one. Really, the only reason I got it was because Ray Porter narrated it.

 

The tone of We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is overall light, but this is not necessarily a light book. The author uses Bob’s predicament to examine ever-green topics in the world of science fiction. What defines life? Is Bob still ‘human’? What might life look like if we did indeed find it somewhere? What might the habitable planets out there be like? Why can’t we all just flippin’ get along?? And how is this cloning thing going to work out? Can you really clone everything that makes a person a person? Bob’s point of view is a unique one, and watching him puzzle his way through many of these questions is truly fascinating. I don’t think the synopsis does it justice, at all. I mean, in the vaguest of terms, that’s what the book is about, yes. But…not really.

 

If you are religiously inclined, you need to stay away from We Are Legion (We Are Bob). While it’s not as full of derision as some other books I’ve read Lately, it’s not religion-friendly at all. Fun will be poked at beliefs. I thought it was absolutely hilarious, of course, even as I shuddered because it seemed disturbingly realistic. Religion has been the cause of way too much fighting throughout the ages, and some of the politics are a believable extrapolation of what might happen if religion gained a foothold in the United States government. With the current state of politics in America, it’s enough to make you want to duck and cover.

 

I debated over this but eventually decided that We Are Legion (We Are Bob) qualifies as a hard science fiction book. From frame rates to the velocities of ship busters, it’s all thought out and included. It’s not even close to being on the info-dump / wall-of-impenetrable-text level, though, so no worries if you’re the type of reader that’s a bit intimidated by that thing. The only reason I even debated over it is because the science is worked so well into the fiction that it never really seemed to be something that I consciously recognized. It was all just a good part of the story.

 

Overall, We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is a great read made even better by the fantastic narration I’ve come to expect from Ray Porter. If you can get the book in this form, I highly recommend you do so. I’m definitely eagerly awaiting the release of the next book from Dennis E. Taylor.

Source: http://www.scifiandscary.com/we-are-legion-review

Unexpected Graphic Sex in Books

Mini-rant that I won't post on my site:

 

I just finished this book - Mutationem - well, by finished I mean, *I* was finished with the book, even if it wasn't finished.

 

I DNF'ed at 57% for a variety of reasons.

 

One of those reasons was the XXX adult sex in it. I mean, if you Goodreads the cover and description for Mutationem, you are given NO indication that this book is going to have a ridiculous amount over-the-top sex scenes in it. (The fact that they're lesbian sex scenes might make it even worse for some people. I didn't care.)

 

I swear I think the author put in this one character JUST for the chance to have a plethora of graphic sex scenes in it.

 

This bugged the crap out of me!

 

I don't mind reading erotica. One of the few anthologies I own is a best erotica anthology... but I DO mind when graphic sex pops up in books multiple times with no indication at all that it is that type of book.

 

Argh.

 

 

Currently reading

Agents of Dreamland by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
Progress: 13/112pages
Bound (Alex Caine) by Alan Baxter
Progress: 70%