The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 3

This review is the third part of a three part series of reviews of The Gray Tower Trilogy.

Please note that by reading this review, there may some very minor spoilers for book 1 and 2 of The Gray Tower Trilogy (The Tower's Alchemist & Dark Rift) if you haven't read them yet.

Circadian Circle (THE GRAY TOWER TRILOGY #3)
AUTHOR ~ Alesha Escobar

The third and final book of The Gray Tower Trilogy, Circadian Circle is full of intense magical action from start to finish.

Demons.
Nazis.
Dragons.
Time Shifting Wizards.

Isabella George has a lot on her hands to keep the wizards of The Gray Tower together and defeat the bad guys in this action packed conclusion to The Gray Tower Trilogy.

When I say action packed, I really mean it.  The majority of this Circadian Circle is one action scene to the next.  Quite often when a novel has to much action in it, and not enough story, I tend to gloss over the action bits, getting bored with reading, how yet again, the protagonist defeats the antagonist, but in this case, I was ok with the extensive action and enjoyed it.

I think I enjoyed the heavy action in Circadian Circle because the previous two novels (The Tower's Alchemist & Dark Rift) did a wonderful job of building the story and the world that it takes place in.  When it came time for the final action packed booked, I was heavily invested in the characters, both good and bad, and wanted to find out what would happen to them and I felt the action was a benefit to the story, expanding on what I already knew, as opposed to using action to gloss over the fact that the characters are not well rounded.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and the series as a whole.  It was a fun and entertaining read, the characters had growth over the series and there was a satisfying ending.  

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 2

This review is the second part of a three part series of reviews of The Gray Tower Trilogy.  

Please note that by reading this review, there may some very minor spoilers for book 1 of The Gray Tower Trilogy (The Tower's Alchemist) if you haven't read it yet.

Dark Rift (THE GRAY TOWER TRILOGY #2)
AUTHOR ~ ALESHA ESCOBAR

Dark Rift takes place almost immediately after the events in The Tower's Alchemist, at the most, a few weeks have passed and I think I enjoyed Dark Rift even more than The Tower's Alchemist.

As with any sequel, reading the synopsis of the next books prior to reading the first book, there are potential spoilers.  I've tried to be very vague with my synopsis but if you are a purest and don't want any spoilers for The Tower's Alchemist, you might want to skip reading the rest of this review.

Synopsis

Amidst the terror of World War II, there is another battle going on, between the Nazi warlock vampires and the wizards of The Gray Tower.  

The Nazi warlocks want to get their hands on the Drifter aka: The Time Wizard as they believe that the Drifter will provide them with ultimate power and The Gray Tower wants to destroy the Drifter so no one can have this power.

Isabella George, an alchemist trained by the Gray Tower knows the identity of the Drifter and and believes that The Gray Tower is wrong to destroy the Drifter.

Isabella sets of to prove to the other wizards of The Gray Tower that the Drifter is an ally and could help to bring about the end of the war.

The second instalment of The Gray Tower Trilogy left me wanting even more than the first instalment.  The characters were well rounded and very interestingly written.  They are all also very multi-faceted, the good guys were not just goodie-too-shoes, they had depth to them that wasn't just black and white.  

Two books in, that I read back-to-back, and I was still eager to get started on the third book, Circadian Circle the moment I finished Dark Rift.  To me that is always the sign of an enjoyable story.

 

 

Review ~ Integral (Visceral Book 1)

integral

Integral (Visceral Book 1)
Author ~ Adam Thielen

Vampires and Mages?!, these are two of my favourite things to read about in speculative fiction, so I was sold on this book the moment I read the description.  Having now finished reading Integral, I'm happy to report that I wasn't oversold at all.  

The time is 2029 and the world's governments have collapsed, corporations have taken over the management of people, places and things, always with a notation of governing to improve their bottom line.  Matthias and Frank, vampires, are two investigators for Noxcorp, the public face of the ancient vampire council.  When a human is murdered, and it looks like a vampire did the deed, it's up to Matthias and Frank to find the fiend before the public does.  Things turn complicated when the University charged with "protecting" the magical born turns to Noxcorp for their assistance in tracking down one of their escaped mages, Sandra.  Quickly Matthias and Frank find themselves caught in the middle of a power grab, and Sandra appears to be at the centre of it all.

Each chapter in Integral (Visceral Book 1) is an "episode", so the whole novel sort of jumps a little bit in it's narration, but it works.  I found this futuristic world quite believable, despite the presence of vampires and mages.  The idea that corporations will take over, not unrealistic to me at all.  I also found the vampires in Integral to be refreshing, I don't want to say anything more why I found them refreshing for fear of spoiling the story (if you really want to know, just send me a message and I'll explain).  

I found Integral to be an interesting story, and I loved having vampires and mages mixed together.  There is a rather long battle sequence near the end of the book, and while it was actually well written, I personally would have liked it to be a little shorter.  The mages are also treated poorly, that whole be afraid of what you don't understand type thing, that I would love to have more background on, their history sort of thing.  I can only hope that if Thielen write a sequel, I'll get some more background on the mages.  

3.5 Penguins

I received an free ARC of Integral (Visceral Book 1)via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ack! Apologies are in order

Hello everyone!  I wanted to send out a quick apology that my next book review is taking so long.  I'm actually almost finished writing it and I'll have it posted shortly.  

The reason for the delay is that I found myself getting a little overwhelmed trying to write a long and detailed review of the books I've been reading.  It it started feeling like is was a chore instead of something fun to do and as I read more and more books, the thought of writing long reviews of them became something I was dreading.  I didn't want to give up doing the book reviews, but I also needed to figure out a way to continue to enjoy reading and not dread writing the review.  

It took me some time to finally decided what I wanted to do with the book review section of my website.  In the end, I came up with the idea to write the reviews in a different manner than I had started out with, the biggest change is that I'm not going to worry about how long they are.  Some books I just really don't have anything to say and others I have a tone of stuff to say and those books that I didn't really have anything to say about them were incredibly stressful to write "enough" words about them.  So from this point forward some of my reviews might be short and to the point while others will be more detailed.  I'm going to let the writing just come and not pressure myself to reach a specific word count.  I feel that this will be a good compromise between continuing with the reviews and not overwhelming myself with trying to become a wordsmith.

You may be wondering what I have read in the meantime since my last review. Well I've read twelve and a half books between May and June.  Eleven of those books you'll find  have a short review in the post, with a fuller review of the book Pandemic (The Extinction Files #1) by A.G. Riddle as my next "full length" review.  I hope you enjoy reading the mini-reviews.

Mini Book Reviews

#1) The Seventh Plague by James Rollins
A pandemic style story with ancient Egyptian origins.  The member of Sigma Force have to discover who is trying to unleash a plague straight out of the bible.  This isn't one of my favourite of the Sigma Force stories.  I've been finding that each story seems to be getting a little bit more and more ridiculous as  this series has been going on.  I also found that The Seventh Plague seemed to be action scene followed by action scene without a ton of character development.  This being the twelve book in the series (with a bunch of novellas too) I wonder if James Rollins is getting tired of Sigma Force.  I hope the next book is better.

2.5 Penguins

#2) Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez (translated from French into English by Mark Polizzotti)
The North American debut of Frank Thilliez will provide you with one of the best murder mysteries I've read.  The story starts off with an old-film connoisseur who ends up blind after viewing his most recent acquisition, an odd film from the 50's.  While his ex-girlfriend investigates his blindness, she discovers that the film is connected with 5 bodies that were recently discovered in the woods.  This murder-thriller is filled with shocking plot twist that will have you travelling from France to Canada, Egypt and Rwanda and keep you guessing right until the very last sentence and beyond.

5 Penguins

#3) Bred to Kill By Franck Thilliez (translated from French into English by Mark Polizzotti)
The sequel to Syndrome E.  While investigating the brutal animal attack of a graduate student, it is discovered that she was actually murdered.  The investigation leads us into the Alps only to discover that a thirty-thousand-year-old virus has been discovered and their are plans to unleash it on the world.    

Bred to Kill picks up about a year after the events in Syndrome E.  While the murder mystery of Bred to Kill isn't quite as gripping as Syndrome E, the personal development of the police detectives more than makes up for it.  I wish that I could either read French or that more of Franck Thilliez's novels were translated into English.

5 Penguins

#4) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The main idea behind American Gods are that gods exist because people believe in them.  American Gods centres around Shadow and his work as an errand boy for Mr. Wednesday.  

A cross between fantasy, fiction and ancient mythology American Gods is Neil Gaiman at his best.  It's a real shame that I just don't really like Neil Gaiman.  I read the book because the show was coming out and I wanted to see what it was all about.  For 3/4 of the book, I found it just barely interesting enough to keep reading and it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that I was final hooked.  This book took be 12 days to read, which may not seem like a lot to some, but when I finish a book on average every 2-3 days, this was an extremely long time for me.

1 Penguins

#5) Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson
This short novella is a science fiction detective mystery.   At some undetermined point in the future we gain the ability to produce a "snapshot" of the day.  An exact recreation of any given date.  Detectives use the snapshot to help solves murders.  

I really enjoyed this novella.  The idea of a snapshot was quite creative.  I'm not a huge fan of short stories or novellas because just as I'm really getting into them, the story is over.  I felt that Brandon Sanderson did an excellent job of balancing the shortness of Snapshot while still providing the details needed for me to enjoy.

4 Penguins

#6) The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Some point in the future, after a great tribulation, earths humanity only has a dim relocation of humanity before, a small village roots out "deviations" and destroys them as abominations.  The Cyrysalids focuses on one boy, who hides that he his a deviation.  

I enjoyed reading The Chrysalids.  This is one of the books that tends to be on the high-school syllabus, but I always had the English teacher that taught the "other" books on the syllabus, so I never read this in school.  I was entertained throughout, my only complaint being that the ending of the book seemed a little rushed and I would like to have know what happens afterwards.

4 Penguins

#7) Thrawn by Timothy Zhan
Grand Admiral Thrawn was first introduced in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire Series.  Now considered to be Legends and no longer cannon in the Star Wars world, many believe that it was this series and it's captivating antagonist that brought Star Wars back into mainstream and paved the way for the re-releases and prequels, and now an entire world of movies.  Disney was very smart to bring Grand Admiral Thrawn into Cannon and they were even smarter to have Timothy Zhan write Thrawn's history.  I grew up reading the now legends Star Wars novels, and while a lot of them were and are quite terrible stories, there were also a ton of them that were quite amazing, including the Heir to the Empire Series.  Thrawn is the first book in the new canon that I have really enjoyed.  It reintroduces us to the blue skinned, red eyed Chiss commander and documents his rise through the Galactic Empire to become a Grand Admiral.  If you've only ever seen the movies, you can easily read Thrawn and be captivated by this master of military strategy.  

4 Penguins

#8) Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson
The third and final book in the Reckoners Series by Brandon Sanderson, and my favourite of the three.  The professor has gone rogue and it's up to David and the rest of the Reckoners to save him from himself.  These stories are about the corruption that the people who've gained special powers have to face.  

I found the first two books in this series filled with a lot of teen angst, and if put me off reading the final book for a long time.  The teen angst is gone from this book which I was very relieved.  Overall, it's a good wrap-up for the series, although the ending and final climatic event felt a little rushed.

3.5 Penguins

#9) Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
During the late 1800's while the gold-rush towns are popping up everywhere, two rival palaeontologists, Marsh and Cope, are on the hunt for dinosaur fossils.  William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than common-sense makes a bet with one of his school-mates and finds himself in the West assisting on a dig.  When he is abandoned by the paranoid Marsh he joins forces with Cope and discovers a grave of huge historical significance.   With this find comes grave danger and his life is on the line.  

This is Michael Crichton at best, blending history, science and fiction flawlessly.  The palaeontologists, Marsh and Cope, are based of real people and the history of finding dinosaur fossils in the West are loosely true.  William Johnson is the fictional made up character that allows Crichton to blend history and fiction together in a cohesive story.  

4 Penguins

#10) Spin (Spin Saga #1) by Robert Charles Wilson
When the stars disappear, replaced by a black membrane, three friends will be forever changed once it's discovered that the black membrane has placed the Earth in a temporal stasis.  

With a cast of well developed characters, I was drawn into the story right from the get-go.  The narration takes place in both the past and present.  The present day narration takes some time before you understand what's going on and only until the past narration catches up do you fully get the scope of the story.  I very much enjoyed this science fiction story and at the time of writing this review I'm currently reading the second one in the series, Aixs.

5 Penguins

#11) Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn
Human Martian, Polly Newton, is sent to her with her brother Charles to the pretentious Galileo Academy on Earth.  While there Polly and Charles struggle to fit in with the privilege Earth teenagers as strange accidents start to happen.  

I really wanted to enjoy this story as it seemed very intriguing, a fish out of water type story, but I didn't.  I hated the main character, Polly.  I found her to be a whiny person filled with teen angst and never learned from her mistakes.  The story itself was well written though, which is why I was able to finish it and not give up half way through.

2 Penguins

Review ~ The Wizard Killer: Season 1

The Wizard Killer ~ Season 1
Author: Adam Dreece

Prepare yourself for an adventure in this post-apocalyptic futuristic fantasy story penned by indie author Adam Dreece. The Wizard Killer ~ Season 1 is written in an episodic, serialized style that makes this a quick and engaging read.  Each chapter is a little adventure in of itself, will all the chapters making up the overall story arc.  From the opening sentence when the protagonist wakes up in the forest, discovering that he has been impaled with a sword to the final passage where...well I won’t tell you since that would be a spoiler, needless to say I was thoroughly engaged.   

The protagonist, whose name you never do find out in Season 1, wakes up with a cloudy memory of who he is and what has happened to him.  As he sets out to find some semblance of civilization among all the desolation of this world, memories start to come back to him.  When he encounters a commune of people that have a hidden agenda the action really starts to take off.

My only real complaint with The Wizard Killer ~ Season 1 is that I can’t help but be disappointed that this story is written in an episodic serialized style.  This world that Decree has created is so fascinating.  I was so intrigued that I really wanted a longer story with more character and world development, and where I wasn’t left with quite so many questions.  What happened to this world?  Who is this protagonist?  What kind of powers does he have?  Where is everyone? Magic guns powered by mana?  Levitating Cars that no longer run?  So many questions and definitely not enough answers.  Even with my complaint of The Wizard Killer ~ Season 1 not being long enough I can’t wait to read Season 2.  Hopefully my questions will be answered, while also providing new questions to ask.  Think of The Wizard Killer ~ Season 1 as a graphic novel without the pictures and you will thoroughly enjoy it too.

4 Penguins