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Jessica G. (jaguerns) - , - Reviews

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American Gods
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 407
Review Date: 7/16/2010


Well, I made it through the book...but feel like I need to roll my eyes in disinfectant.

Shadow is a big, dumb guy. He's biding his time in jail, keeping his head down, until he can return to his wife and job when his time is up. But it doesn't quite work out like that. His wife dies, along with his former boss. Then he meets Mr. Wednesday, a well-dressed and strangely connected man that offers Shadow a job as his bodyguard and errand boy. With no other options, Shadow accepts. But Wednesday has plans for his new lackey. Big plans.

It was an interesting enough story so I kept on reading, despite the over-peppering with f-bombs. Getting through an entire page without foul language seemed like a task too big for Mr. Gaiman. But since I love mythology, I turned every swear-smeared page. It was an interesting concept, how the gods of foreign lands were reincarnated in American by true believers that journeyed to the new land only to be abandoned for new gods in the form of technology and media. I had the big twist figured out well before but the missing kids? Got that one the same time Shadow did and it ruined my whole night.


The Bell Jar (Modern Classics)
The Bell Jar (Modern Classics)
Author: Sylvia Plath
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 162
Review Date: 7/1/2012


Feeling a little lazy so I'm just copying the info here:
"This extraordinary work--echoing Plath's own experiences as a rising writer/editor in the early 1950s--chronicles the nervous breakdown of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful, but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time."

I've heard the name Sylvia Plath for ages, usually in hushed whispers from kids wearing too much black eyeliner and facial piercings. And that's just the boys. So when I was writing for a character of similar tastes, I decided it was time to delve a little deeper and see what was the appeal.

Esther Greenwood is a reflection of Sylvia Plath. She should have been blissfully happy, with intelligence, education, wealth, and her college sweetheart proposing to her, but instead she feels numb, stifled. The societal expectations is for women to only pursue husband and babies, stopping any other ambition once a match is made. Her boyfriend tells her as much, saying that once she has a baby., she won't want to write poetry. Not want to write? Seems like a miserable life. And Esther shrivels.

As someone who has struggled with depression, I could relate to the feeling of the bell jar, allowing no air to circulate, no thoughts or feelings to progress. I've felt that way. It's a difficult experience to explain and Ms. Plath captured it rather well.


Burning Water (Diana Tregarde, Bk 1)
Burning Water (Diana Tregarde, Bk 1)
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 119
Review Date: 1/10/2012


I had a difficult time getting into this book. Why can I completely relate to modern writing and even old style, like Lovecraft or Austen, but give me something after the invention of television but before the Internet, and I am just lost.

Robert and Sherry don't have an ideal marriage. He has talent but no fame and a wandering eye. She has a little boy, a stifled need to create, and turns a blind eye. So when the exotically beautiful Lupe introduces them to her sisters and offers to be Robert's model, while allowing Sherry to study their intricate clothing, it seems too good to be true. And once the murders begin, it is. Enter Mark, the police detective with shielded physic abilities, and Diana, the gifted witch with a soft heart but a mean psibolt. Together, can they discover who or what is behind the strangely ritualistic murders that are growing in number and macabre details?

The very beginning of this book - where Mark recounts how he met Diana - was gripping! Loved it and thought the rest of the book would be like that. Also? I just love the Aztec culture. However, the back of the book lets you know just what Burning Water is, although the characters don't find out until more than halfway through the book. Perhaps that contributed to my opinion that the book moved too slowly (I skipped a big chunk of pages and didn't miss anything important).Also, I completely agree with the Treegarde Creed, as she called it. The last 100 or so pages were great! Even if I had the big secret figured out from the beginning...


Cauldron (Engines of God, Bk 6)
Cauldron (Engines of God, Bk 6)
Author: Jack McDevitt
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 6/4/2010


More of a response than a review, as this is book #5 or so in the series and trying to tell you what happened in the book would take too much backstory if you aren't already familiar with the characters.

I think Jack McDevitt has gone the way of George Lucas. He's gotten caught up in the politics of the situation rather than the excitement of it. It took HALF the book to get these people on the spaceship. And I would have liked to see more of the planets they discover, have the characters spend more time with these ancient cultures than fundraising or bickering about principles back on earth.

And? The ending set up Hutch's son to take over. Subtle.


Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel
Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel
Author: Ronda Thompson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 140
Review Date: 6/4/2010


Lou is a top model, earning the big bucks and setting her own schedule. If only those dang patches of fur and the occasional fang outbreak weren't getting in the way. Ever since prom night, Lou has known she was a werewolf but never showed any signs of her...uh, condition. But Lou's got a dark past, one that's much darker than she knows. And hiring a private investigator to find her birth parents might be stirring up a big, furry mess of problems. But Lou has other distractions, like the one wearing a badge and asking her about two women who both bear a striking resemblance to Lou and who have both been brutally murdered. That's when Lou realizes those nightmares she's been having exist outside her dreams.

I liked this book more than I thought I would. The big climax was over too quickly and it wasn't like I didn't see it coming ever since that scene in Central Park. There are far too many unanswered questions, most of them seemingly intentionally left hanging as fodder for a sequel or possible trilogy. Unfortunately, the talented author died before there could be another book.

Still, I love a good werewolf book.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 4436
Review Date: 8/16/2010


Christopher knows his age in days, can name all the capitols of the world, and even knows Latin. But he can't understand what it means if someone raises their eyebrow or why a joke is funny. His dream life would be as an astronaut, tucked away in a tiny room up in space, with no one around for thousands of miles, nothing but stars, computers, and quiet. And maybe his rat, Toby. But then Christopher sees his neighbor's dog, lying dead in the yard. He undertakes the task of being a detective and seeking out the murderer of furry Wellington. But the answer does not fit into the scope of his world and threatens to shatter it.

The concept of this book - that it was from the perspective of an autistic teenager - really appealed to me. I have a nephew that has Asperger's Syndrome and know several children in varying spectrums of the Autism rainbow. At first, I thought I was missing something...the book starts at Chapter 2. In fact, the chapters aren't sequential at all but Christopher explains himself: he prefers Prime numbers so he's chosen to number his chapters that way. In fact, he explains how he sees and thinks so vividly that I don't think I've ever understood Autism better. Definitely makes me appreciate the way I "glance" at things.

I would really like to recommend this book to my Book Group...but the language might be an issue.


Dead Matter (Simon Canderous, Bk 3)
Dead Matter (Simon Canderous, Bk 3)
Author: Anton Strout
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 6/4/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Simon Canderous seems to have a handle on his psychometry (the ability to read the history of an object through touch) but then a fancy new mall electronically eats his girlfriend. The attack was an effort to keep hidden a centuries old secret. The bad news is the Simon doesn't like secrets, especially ones that suck Jane into their electrodes. Things get a lot more complicated when Simon's mentor is slowly going crazy, thinking he keeps seeing the ghost of his older brother, who disappeared as a teenager. Turns out, the brother isn't a ghost. He's a vampire.

I really like this series. Why? Because I like urban fantasy that doesn't stoop to gratuitous sex scenes. Yes, there's language but no nudity is a big plus in my book.


Dead To Me (Simon Canderous, Bk 1)
Dead To Me (Simon Canderous, Bk 1)
Author: Anton Strout
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 95
Review Date: 6/4/2010


Simon has the power of psychometry (the ability to see an person's past through touching an object) and turned his back on a life of petty crime to work for the government's team of oddities: people who possess certain abilities that make them useful in dealing with the paranormal. But when a beautiful ghost is convinced she isn't really dead, things start to get complicated.

It's an interesting story! If you like the Dresden Files, you'd enjoy it but it might not be a favorite. I like the supernatural aspects (ghosts, living bookshelves, psychic abilities) without fairies prancing around. The writing was good, not entirely predictable and not thoroughly laced with profanities (although there were some) or lots of sex. I'm intrigued enough to read the next in the series.


Deader Still (Simon Canderous, Bk 2)
Deader Still (Simon Canderous, Bk 2)
Author: Anton Strout
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 6/4/2010


I really like this series! Urban magic tales fascinate me. And to have the main character possessed of a supernatural ability while in the employ of the city government? Even better! Who knew there would be red tape to consider before hunting down a vampire?

Simon Canderous turned his back on his former days of art theft and attempted to turn his life around. Now, a member of the prestigious F.O.G.s and getting the hang of working for the DEA (Department of Extraordinary Affairs) and with his superhot cultist-turned-good girlfriend, he thinks things are getting easier. But a figure from his past shows up, threatens to reveal Simon's past unless he helps her on one last heist. Then, it seems his girlfriend is getting a little too cozy with her new boss, not to mention his partner's sudden irritation with all things Simon and it's starting to get a little dicey around here. But that's before the repeated attempts on his life plus the curse that takes away his abilities. And what's with all the zombies? It's definitely not looking like a good day.

A little predictable, but that might just be because I'm getting to know the author. His language is getting a little courser or maybe Simon was just *really mad* about all the rat goo on his jacket. Still, enjoyed it and will start looking for #3 in the series...with some version of "Dead" in it's title, I'm sure.


The Demon Awakens (DemonWars, Bk 1)
The Demon Awakens (DemonWars, Bk 1)
Author: R. A. Salvatore
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 55
Review Date: 9/1/2011


I always hear other authors compared to R.A. Salvatore, so I thought I'd better see just what this guy was all about.

The Demon Awakens is the first is Salvatore's acclaimed Demon Wars series so I started there. I'd give you the general story line but I'm really tired. And lazy. There's good guys and bad guys and some good guys who used to be bad guys.

The ending is not the "happily ever after" that makes me cringe, so that's a plus but the author made his elves appear more like pixies and I just had a hard time with that. But the storyline is interesting enough to keep you going through all those pages (and there are A LOT). It was predictable. Even the plot twists were easy enough to see coming.

Maybe I should attempt this review when I'm in a better mood...


The Devil's Eye (Alex Benedict, Bk 4)
The Devil's Eye (Alex Benedict, Bk 4)
Author: Jack McDevitt
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 6/4/2010


Mr. McDevitt, please don't make me change my list of favorite authors. I would sure hate to delete your name.

The third book in the Alex Benedict series, The Devil's Eye takes Alex and his lovely assistant Chase to a distant planet, outside the Confederacy. Their goal is to retrace the steps of famed horror writer Vickie Greene, who, after leaving Alex a message begging for help, has her mind erased. She can't tell them what happened so the duo must figure it out on their own, going from one tourist trap to another.

The book is told from Chase's perspective and I prefer it that way but the typically namby-pamby Alex seems to be coming out of his shell, which is good. In all honesty, I didn't read the last 60 pages, once the big mystery was revealed and everything turned to politics. I don't care about politics! I would much rather have spent more time discovering the local folklore that Ms. Green sought. I don't know if there is another book in this series but I think I might be done with it...


Greywalker (Greywalker, Bk 1)
Greywalker (Greywalker, Bk 1)
Author: Kat Richardson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 118
Review Date: 6/4/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Hard-headed PI, Harper Blaine wasn't the type to believe in ghosts. It wasn't until an attack left her dead for two minutes that she started seeing the mist-like fog with the unidentifiable shapes inside. With the help of a theoretical excentric and his witch wife, Harper tries to fit her world back together.

I found the heroine to be a little flat and I don't think I ever got to the point where I felt much like empathizing with her situation. Several elements of the story were rather distracting, too. For instance, the Danzingers, the couple that attempts to help Harper. It seemed like I should already know them and their backstory, like they were characters borrowed from another book. And the vampires? Twilight fans, get ready for this: the head vampire's name is Edward. Although he looks more like a cruel Pierce Brosnan than a sparkling schoolboy. His main enemy? A petite vampire named Alice. Yeah. That's interesting.

While I thought Ms. RIchardson's short story in "Mean Streets" was more interesting, this book was still worth the read. I'd probably give this book less stars but rounded it up, as I intended to read the next one in the series.


Haze
Haze
Author: L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 9/14/2015


This reads more like a study on how to do world-buliding than an actual novel. Way too much detail on the little things (like what he eats at *every* meal) and not enough of a plot.
I finished the book because I am a big fan of the Recluse series, in all it's many layers. But I wouldn't read any more featuring this bland character. He wasn't even that curious about this entirely new world! Drove me nuts.


I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, Bk 1)
I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, Bk 1)
Author: Dan Wells
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 77
Review Date: 6/4/2010
Helpful Score: 5


WOW. No, seriously...WOW! This book was really good.

John Wayne Cleaver tries hard to be a typical teenager but he is not. A diagnosed sociopath, he creates specific rules to keep the dark side of himself -- the monster -- secured behind a wall of normalcy. Don't follow someone. Don't pay too much attention to their habits. Don't harm others.

Then a real monster comes to town; a serial killer who stalks the streets of their little community, brutally killing grown men. In the killer's methods, John sees more of himself than in his high school classrooms. Can his knowledge of serial killers help John protect his neighbors? Or will he need to release his own monster to do battle?

Written for young adults, the book has a tendency to talk down to the reader but I think that played in well with the main character. John really is smarter than everyone else. And I loved the sci-fi twist it took. Totally did not see that one coming.


The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare, Bk 1)
The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare, Bk 1)
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 34
Review Date: 10/29/2015


I went through a Steampunk phase where everything I read had to have Steampunk elements, not matter how contrived or implausible. Caught The Iron Wyrm Affair toward the end of that phase so maybe I was a little too done with the genre by then.
While this was an interesting premise, I pretty much couldn't stand the main character Emma Bannon. She's trying to be a badass (and mostly succeeds) but I wanted explanation for who she is and why she acted as she did other than "because she can." However, her Shield, Mikal, saved her for me. He saw something in her worthwhile, so I stuck with the story.
The concepts of sorceresses and mentath was fascinating to me. I might have to give the second book a try.


The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2268
Review Date: 9/6/2010


I finished this a little bit ago but let it sit, mulling it over, trying to decide if I really liked it or not.

There's not a whole lot to say about the plot, since there's been a movie made and nearly everyone knows that the book starts with fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon's murder. So I'm not going to dwell on the synopsis...you can find it easily enough.

Here's what I did like: Heaven. Everyone's Heaven fits them and their personalities/experiences/dreams. Sometimes they overlap with dear friends and relatives; sometimes people are missing. You can't force someone to be with you if that wouldn't be Heaven to them. Things Susie saw on earth also affected her Heaven. Loved that. And I cried when Holiday arrived. Because it wouldn't be Heaven without my dog.

And what I didn't like: Omniscience. Susie sees all, even things that are happening at the same time. It gets a little overbearing and more than a little creepy. Would you want your dead sister peaking in while you lost your virginity? Yeah, more than awkward.

There's one other thing that bugged me but with time, I've decided it was fitting. I can't say what it is without spoiling the end but watch out for icicles.


Magic Street
Magic Street
Author: Orson Scott Card
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 41
Review Date: 6/4/2010


Strange things happen in Baldwin Hills on a seemingly normal day. If I told you what happens in the first few chapters, it would be enough to turn you off this book but stay with it...it gets better. After an abandoned infant is found by a boy, the neighborhood seems to adopt the child, inviting him into their homes and, unwittingly, into their dreams. But Mack Street is not an ordinary boy. He is absorbing their deepest wishes, holding them for someone with a darker purpose.

Interesting enough concept...Midsummer Night's Dream meets Malcolm X. Not sure I really buy the plot, but that seems to be the case with most of Mr. Card's book lately. In fact, I found the explanation of how he came up with the storyline almost more interesting than the story itself. If it hadn't been for all the swearing, I would have considered this a young adult novel. But I am relieved that he didn't get explicit with a few of the situations that were quickly heading that direction.


Mean Streets
Mean Streets
Author: Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, Thomas E. Sniegoski
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 83
Review Date: 6/4/2010


(A sort of "selective" review...)

I love the Dresden Files! This book contains four short stories from well-known authors, using their popular main character. I hadn't even heard of the the other three authors.

Harry Dresden is the only wizard listed in the phone book. Just don't ask him to make a love potion. In a previous book, Harry' friend and "co-worker" wields a Sword of the Cross but is critically injured during one of Harry's plans gone awry. Butcher doesn't tell you what happened to Michael, only alludes to him in a later book as "retired." This short story shows what Michael's life is like now, without the sword or full use of his body. Good enough tale, although not as intriguing as some of Butcher's longer plots.

Of the three other stories, I've decided that one author is definitely not worth my time, another is only so-so, but the third is interesting enough that I picked up the first book in her series earlier today.


Mistborn (Mistborn, Bk 1)
Mistborn (Mistborn, Bk 1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 33
Review Date: 6/4/2010


One of the best fantasy books that I have ever read! No wonder this author is so highly recommended...very enthralling.

In Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson creates a world where the seemingly immortal Lord Ruler is tyrant, oppressing the common people who must scrape out a life from the beneath the ever-falling ash. Royal-born citizens have strange abilities using certain metals. But there are those not born into wealth that have these powers. They seek something more: an existence not overshadowed by the Lord Ruler. And really, I just can't do the storyline justice so please find a copy (or borrow mine) and read it for yourself.

Some of the plot twists you see coming but others are surprising. Two things I hate in books: 1) predictability and 2) happily ever after endings. This book has neither. I am really looking forward to the second in the series!


Monster Hunter International (Monster Hunter, Bk 1)
Monster Hunter International (Monster Hunter, Bk 1)
Author: Larry Correia
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 62
Review Date: 8/8/2011
Helpful Score: 2


Not sure why I originally picked this book, but I'm glad I did!

Owen Pitt isn't exactly your typical accountant. So when his monstrous boss actually sprouts claws and attacks, Pitt draws on his childhood of marksman practice and tactical drills to save himself. After hurling his boss out the window and barely surviving, the large man finds himself with plenty new scars and a job offer from an obscure organization, one that hunts monsters. But all Owen ever wanted was to be normal, to keep the violent and out-of-control part of himself locked up tight under his business casual clothes. When the lovely Julie Shackleford, whose family owns and operates Monster Hunters International (and might just give Owen a run for his money is the "crazy family upbringing" department) asks, he can't resist. With her long legs, killer instinct, and obsessive weapons knowledge, she just might be the girl of his dreams.

I am not a gun expert. In fact, my gun skills have rusted to the point where I can tell the difference between a .45 and a 9mm but not much else. Mr. Correia, on the other hand, is an expert if not a genius. While Owen's drooling over some kick-butt piece of metal occasionally made my eyes glass over, it helped that the author then showed exactly what sort of damage those guns were capable of dishing out. I liked the premise this book offered, making monster hunting a worthwhile business with all sorts of government agency types trying to interfere. The concept is definitely action-heavy and the ending almost too "happily ever after" (I was glad to see another book, making this into a series!) for my taste but still a great read. Really made me want to get my concealed carry permit...


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