Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Reluctant Knight by Doug Glener

The Reluctant Knight
by Doug Glener
Publication Date: Jan 15th 2013
Publisher: Paladin Publishing
Source: Author
Find This Book: The Reluctant Knight
Rating: 3.5/5

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

My overall impression of this book was that it was quirky and new. The concept really had a lot of potential. The book is about ninth grader Percival Adler and his adventure in the course of a week. He gets bullied by Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but the author never really says anything about them. Someone just tells them that it’s pathetic to pick on a freshman, implying that the bullies are older I suppose. The book seems a bit underdelevoped as a whole that I’ll get into later, but it also showed great potential.
It starts off with Percival running into the woods behind the school to escape his torturers where he comes across a door, which of course he goes through. These scene immediately reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia when Eustace and Jill run through a strange door into Narnia in their attempt to escape bullies. Maybe that scene was inspiration? Or just a really suspicious coincidence... I hope it's a tribute because I enjoyed that parallelism.
Through the door, Percival meets Lord Arwain and his 7 knights. The knights each knelt before a reflecting pool and whispered words of hope to people. They’re basically all the angel of the conscience (you know, the stereotypical angel/devil on the shoulder?). On the other side of the coin is Raeben and his 7 followers. They each sat next to a pool of polluted water and encourage people to do bad things. In my comparison they are clearly the devil on one’s shoulder.
Percival, with the help of his two friends Chaz and Dillon, his older sister Guinevere, and a badass samurai (named Tesshu) must stop Raeban’s goonies from the dead and his plan to destroy… well the tri-state area really, though he’ll probably expand his vision eventually. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because pretty much everything is a spoiler, but I do want to say that I thought the historical figures and weapons were researched well enough. The characters were satisfactorily described (though I’m pretty sure Tesshu’s sword was never specified which was odd considering the author wrote the specific clothes that Tesshu was wearing. So I just assumed a Katana?) Anyways, King Alfred, Raeban’s minions and the myth of Raeban’s old home was really well gone and extremely enjoyable. The plot itself was absolutely great but the writing could have been more developed, which I hope will improve in the future :)
There were cons to the book though. As mentioned above, the main characters didn’t really develop. Sure they learn to band together and Guinevere actually stands up for her brother, but they seemed very flat and unrealistic. How are things really supposed to go back to normal after a week adventure like that? And Guys/her phone can't seriously be the most important things to Guinevere, what kind of girl is she?? The kids just seemed pretty 2-demensional and forgettable when could have been so much more. The fact that Percival’s parents just happen to take him out of school for the week but don’t confront the school about his bullies- Not very realistic. On top of that these “high schoolers” acted extremely childish and came across to me as elementary students at the oldest. Even the cover makes Percival look like a 5th grader. I mean, I know guys were immature in school, but no one was THAT bad in high school. The way their age group acts doesn't seem realistic at all.
Just one more thing that really ticked me off, the fact that Percival daydreamed about vanquishing the bullies to win the affections of the prettiest girl in class. She doesn’y even come back into the book, so it’s not even that big of a deal, but why “prettiest”? That’s demeaning! She couldn’t have been the funniest? Smartest? Anything that has to do with personality or talent instead of something you can’t control like looks? I mean, the whole point of THIS BOOK was that Percival wasn’t the hero type and certainly didn’t look like a hero yet he gets his adventure to prove himself. Yet he’s shallow enough to think like this about others?
In summary though, I enjoyed this books plot and the concept was just great. Obviously I nit-picked at this a lot but these little things honestly bugged me almost the entire book. However, the Pros definitely outweighed the Cons and I hope to see more in the future from Doug Glener.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Script Kiddie by Michael F. Stewart

Script Kiddie (Assured Destruction #2)
by Michael F. Stewart
Publication Date:  August 31st 2013
Publisher: Non Sequitur Press
Source: Author
Find This Book: Script Kiddie
Rating: 5/5

A copy of this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Janus Rose is still up to no good in book two haha. She is now working on the side of good though. She is the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, where she’ll serve out her sentence of public service (from stealing data from old computers in book one). To evaluate Janus’s skills, she is given the laptop of a murderer and has to profile and expose the killer. On top of all that, her relationship with Jonny isn’t going so hot, Assured Destruction needs to hire a new employee that they don’t have the money to pay for, Peter is mysterious as ever, and Hannah is getting stalked by a creep. Can Janus possibly save everything?

Man this book was intense. Even after the scandal from book one, Janus keeps the Shadownet (deleting Jonny’s hard drive of course) and still tweets from all of her different personas. There is less mother-daughter action in Script Kiddie, simply because there is less ‘mother’. Janus is working with the police, getting driven around by Jonny, and spending extra time at school, on the internet, and manning the store. Her mom’s condition is getting worse and Peter is taking more control of things, much to Janus’s dislike, which I completely agree with. Peter gives me the heebie-jeebies and NOTHING is further explained about him! I’m awaiting a book 3 Michael!

While we wait I’ll highlight my likes and dislikes of Script Kiddie. The title of the name really bothered me at first. It seemed pretty ridiculous and childish after a cool name like ‘Assured Destruction’, but after the name was explained in the book the title instantly fit. The transition from Book 1 to Book 2 shows how, in perspective, Janus really is the bottom of the hacker hierarchy. Nowhere near the big leagues. A Script Kiddie. One thing that I REALLY hated was how much Janus thought about other guys (Karl and Hannah’s brother) and how much she relied on physicalities to sustain her relationship with Jonny. If she cared about Jonny, she wouldn’t compare him with others or point out his flaws or resort to being physical all the time. One thing I really enjoyed was Constable Ethan Chow and seeing him from different points of view before realizing it’s him. So adorable <3 but Jonny is still my favorite guy character. As usual, I love the incorporation of modern technology and social media in this series and also the way it ended yet again in a satisfying conclusion, but not a ‘happily-ever-after’. Realistic. This book dealt with more real world problems such as carding, illness, Internet stalkers, and debt. The book always keeps a light, yet serious tone with a subtle hint of dark throughout the plot and, again, was a really enjoyable read!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Riddle of Prague by Laura DeBruce

The Riddle of Prague
by Laura DeBruce
Publication Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Source: Author
Find This Book: The Riddle of Prague  
Rating: 5/5

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

So my first introduction to this series was by giving the author my opinion of book 2’s cover options. That book clearly seems to be set in Paris with the sun as a big deal. In contrast to this book being set in Prague and with the moon. This was completely a ‘judge a book by its cover’ moment and I’m happy I liked the cover because I loved this book!
I don’t know much about Prague, but the book seemed very well researched and believable. I love fantasy books, but my favorite is when the author can take the fantastical and turn it into something completely feasible, and I think that was done incredibly well in The Riddle of Prague. Prague’s history, architecture, museums, and paintings are taken into account throughout the book. It felt like I could really be there experiencing some of these scenes. However, more detail in the future would be nice.
Anyways, these people didn’t just magically become immortal, it was scientifically explained, and quite accurately so. When DNA replicates itself it gets worn down, so it can only replicate itself so many times before it’s destroyed and the person dies. Which, as far as my scientific knowledge goes, is completely true. So if one were to mutate him/herself to protect the replication process from destroying itself they could live indefinitely. They should still be susceptible to sickness; injuries, etc. so could die other ways, but could not die of old age.
The characters were well done, especially the immortal character’s pasts; my favorite being David and his affinity with poetry. I thought that right from the beginning Nadja wasn't all that she seemed, but could never be 100% sure. There were also plenty of other secrets to keep the book suspenseful and the pages turning. Hana came from America to reclaim her family’s house after the soviet’s iron curtain came down. She meets all these people at once and knows as much about them as the reader does, which was a nice change. The reader could discover and learn alongside Hana instead of Hana telling the reader information she already knows. Hana came to her conclusions, and I came to mine. Of course Hana made some stupid decisions, but they weren’t overboard and made the book seem more realistic. She met all of these people around the same time, so who should she trust?
 When she goes to get documents signed to make The Rockery officially her property, she meets Alex and his little sister Thalia, children of a U.S. diplomat. He is a piece of familiarity in a foreign house/city/country/continent. Alex and Hana are so cute together and his little sister is so spunky <3
The plot of this book is that Hana (with mainly help from Alex) acquires a notebook that contains a riddle to find a flask. This flask contains the key to immortality and too many people are looking for it. Don Julius and his goonies have Hana’s grandmother hostage and are willing to kill anyone to posses the flask. Simona and Michal seemed like a really cute couple and they want the flask to create copies and help humanity. David seems to just want to help Hana find it for the sake of Julius NOT having it. There are plenty of lies and deception, making The Riddle of Prague a page-turner. This book was an intense fantasy history mystery, and I loved every page of it. To the point where I was putting off everything I could to find time to read!