Monday, February 29, 2016

Shada : A Doctor Who Story

Feb. - Books published after 2011

Where do I even begin about this book? Let me start with a little backstory, a "Why it was written" of sorts. Did you know that Douglas Adams was a writer for the original Doctor Who series back in the 70's? I did not. As a great fan of Adams in my late teens, I was unaware of what he was doing outside the Hitchhiker's series. In my defense, as an American I wasn't exactly the target audience for the BBC show. In 2005 when the show started back up I heard about it from all my college friends, some of whom went to Harlaxton for the study abroad program out University offered simply to be closer to all things British they loved so much. It was in 2006/7 that I discovered BBC, falling in love with random episodes of Graham Norton, Doctor Who, even Law & Order: UK! Don't even try selling me on the American version of Being Human because it is crap compared to the original. But being sucked into the world of The Doctor failed to fill me in on one of my favorite author's former hand in the show, even as I watched numerous older episodes. So imagine my excitement when I unwrapped this book one holiday or other and became nearly giddy with the possibility of mixing Adams and The Doctor!

Reading this book, Adams' hand in creating The Doctor has never been more clear! Of course his mind helped shape the Time Lord's personality! How could I never see it before! The Fourth Doctor could have been best friends with Arthur Dent!

This brings me a little further into the story behind this book. Shada was the episode they were working on when the BBC went on strike. The story line never came to an end. And while everyone was distraught over it, Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) admitting they all cried at the loss, Adams couldn't help but be relieved. Because the story was not what he had wanted. He had been forced to leave things out, drop off whole lines of thought, characters appeared only to leave the plot with no explanation!

Enter Gareth Roberts. I don't know how he got the script, why he was asked to write this book, but I am eternally grateful he did. Gareth did an incredible job of capturing Adams's voice and writing a book that I could almost believe was written by the late author I so loved. Many times I found myself sinking into a place I hadn't since first reading Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Other parts had me laughing out loud and wishing I could start up some episodes of the 4th Doctor because I definitely heard his voice in my head throughout the story.

Simply put this is such an awesome book. Perfectly told in the way of a Doctor Who episode. With all the humor, chaos, twists, and close calls one would expect to accompany The Doctor. So if you have ever read any of Douglas Adams' work and loved it, or seen an episode of Doctor Who and been enraptured, pick this book up. It is completely worth the read!

::EDIT:: I am marking the scheduled publish date on this for Feb. 29th so it will be listed on the Feb bracket, even though I didn't finish the book until March 15th.

The Eye of Minds

Feb. - Books published in the last five years.

So, I got this book at one of the Texas Teen Book Festivals, autographed of course, and it has been patiently been sitting on my shelf waiting for me to get a chance to pick it up. When I had last talked to my son about what I should read next he told me to wait until we could read this one together. So, at the beginning of February we picked this one up and started reading it in intervals.

Jareth ended up making it 2/3 of the way through it before he moved on because it is sometime hard for him to keep interested when a book is broken up so much. We hadn't been reading it every day as we should have. When I finally asked if he was done, I did continue to tell him what was going on as I read it. He was still very interested in the story.

I was a little worried that working so slowly through it would have a negative effect on my interest in the story, but when I actually sat down and read it, I slipped right back into the story and moved quickly through it. Dashner is a great author that does a wonderful job of holding the reader's attention.

The story is one that follows a gamer named Michael, a teenager that lays down in his virtual reality bed and slips into the VR world to play games with his friends. After he sees a girl rip her own Core out (the link that separates your VR mind from your real body so that when you die in the game, you don't actually die in the real world) he is contacted by the VNS, a government organization in charge of monitoring the Virtual World. An Agent Weber asks that Michael and his two best friends make their way through the system to find Kaine, a man who is slowly hijacking people for experimentation and sometimes killing them. Michael and his hacking skills are needed. But the closer Michael and his friends get to Kaine the more crazy the world becomes until Michael is having real trouble figuring out just what exactly is going on.

Not only is Dashner such a great writer, capturing the voices of these teenage gamers wonderfully to make the reader laugh, but his plotting ability is astonishing. I am still kind of reeling from the major plot twist at the end of the book. When I explained it to my husband he was shocked. Jareth literally screamed "What!?" It was just mind-blowing.

This book was a great one. Especially for me and Jareth who loved the show Sword Art Online where the gamers were stuck in the program until one of them could beat the game. The Eye of Minds is a great story because with VR slowly easing further into everyone's lives, the events of this story could actually one day take place! It makes it a great story for young adults. I look forward to picking up the next one and seeing how Michael's story progresses.

::EDIT:: I am marking the scheduled publish date on this for Feb. 29th so it will be listed on the Feb bracket, even though I didn't finish the book until March 1st.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Guilty By Association

Feb. - Books published in the last 5 years.
BONUS - This one is to be published on April 1st, 2016

The best thing about this month's theme is that it forces us to explore new writers since there is a good chance the authors we love may not have published a book in the last five years, or if they did we already read them. I picked out my two books, got excited, and then was given an opportunity. Someone in a writing group I am part of on Facebook wanted some bloggers to read and review her work to help get it out there. Best. Decision. Ever!

Guys, meet E. A. Copen, author of this new series about Judah Black, an agent working for the BSI, the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation. Judah has just been reassigned to a supernatural reservation in Texas where all kinds of people humans would consider monsters have been herded and given too many rules on how to live. Judah has been dropped into the deep end of a pool of people who don't trust her, don't want her in their business, and have more issues than Copen can encompass in one book. Before Judah can even clock in on her first day she finds a murder victim. The investigation that follows follows is a series of ups and down with plenty of road blocks giving Judah ten more questions for every answer she manages to wrangle. But Judah is damn good at her job, keep that one in mind.

I think one reason I enjoyed this book so much was because I am a huge fan of Kim Harrison's Hollow's series. While there is enough similarity between the two to drew a new fan into Copen's world, there is plenty of differences that never did I actually find myself comparing the two. Judah is a single mom that works for the government organization that hovers on threatening her entire life. In stark contrast to Harrison's series where supernatural's outnumber humans due to a tomato virus, Copen's world finds supernaturals treated like second class citizens forced to walk a very fine line so they don't rock the boat. Because that could lead to be being dragged from your home and killed while your pregnant wife watches. While Judah works for the system that controls not only where supernaturals can live but when they can have children, she isn't blind to the injustice and finds herself far more sympathetic to the plight of her new neighbors.

Literally my only complaint about the book is the occasional typo that jerked the writer in me to the side itching to correct a few words before I could continue reading. But you have to keep in mind this author threw herself out there, self published (as far as I am aware) and wrote an amazing book. Trust me, you can over look the mistakes for the awesome story.

Oh, and of course I am going to whine about the fact that now I have to wait for the next book! But you can be sure I am going to be keeping my eye very closely on this writer. I will be eagerly awaiting any news for future books. So as soon as April 1st hits, get your copy of the book (I will also be buying a paperback copy to show of on my shelf) and join me in loving this new series. I see great things in this author's future.