Friday, July 31, 2015

Freak of Nature by Julia Crane

Freak of Nature
Author:   Julia Crane
Publisher:   Valknut Press
Release Date: February 2nd, 2013
Source: Free E-book off Amazon
Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

Freak of Nature is one of those books I liked in the beginning, then gradually lost interest in. A page turner until about the half-way point, I felt it was resolved a little early, then dragged into a stop. Most of the problems seemed to be due to plot choices, and while the writing wasn't bad, I felt like I could have just put it down halfway and felt satisfied. When the driving force, at least for me, was the romance, once that tension was released it just fell flat. The revelation of her past was sort of anti-climactic, and the conclusion felt a bit too easy. Overall, this was a book that needed a little re-arranging to maintain the easy nature it held in the opening. 

Kaitlyn and Lucas are likable enough, but the romance felt a little odd. Lucas seems to love her based on all the things he read about her, and how perfect she is now that's she's a robot. And I've never been a fan of the completely irresistibly beautiful girl. Of course she would be the one to turn into this robot, right? Now she's like, smart, beautiful, super-strong. And can put all men to shame. 

Not exactly relatable to the average person.

Kaitlyn is robotic, but still has these human thoughts and feelings. She can't feel pain, but she can still feel love, and she still feels pleasure. And no one knows she has feelings because she's hiding them, to maintain an element of humanity. She has this crush on the guy who treats her like a lab rat, and he has a crush back. It's kinda cute, but a little weird when you step back and look at it. Their eventual relationship makes it even weirder. It wasn't enough that she was perfect as a robot, but she was also perfect as a human too. and her heroic death felt really rushed and flat, as a side note. 

Oh, and the flashbacks, where she could see herself interacting with people? Pretty sure flashbacks are memories, so first perspective, you know? Definitely room for improvement. 

Clearly there were things that bugged me with this book. One of those "I'd rather be your beta than your reviewer" situations, sadly. It was nice for a quick airplane read, but it wasn't one of those "you have to read this!" stories. I'll pass on the sequel. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Life Bank by Magus Tor

Life Bank
Author:   Magus Tor
Publisher:   Self-Published
Release Date: March 13th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Daniel has no money. Daniel needs some money. Daniel will sell his soul to get it. 

A modern day version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Life Bank is a stunning novella from author Magus Tor. A fatalistic sense of doom will pull you through this thrilling new morality tale about the evils that come with taking too much unearned pleasure from life.

I got this book in exchange for an honest review, so I'm going to be pretty honest: the plot didn't feel as original as a lot of people made it out to be. The general concept was pretty interesting, don't get me wrong. That's what made me pick it up in the first place. You write your name in a book, withdraw money. Give a little of your life and problems are solved! But the general pursuit of money, falling short, money is never the answer thing? That's a moral that unfortunately felt a little predictable to me. 

When you pick up a book like this, I think you can sense the downward spiral about to happen. You already know he's going to somehow take more out than he bargains for. And a lot of the "twists" didn't feel like twists to me, but maybe because it always seems to happen in stories like this. It's the allure of stardom. You chase a pot of gold a start leaving behind what mattered. So those aspects weren't like "oooo ahhhh". 

I did like the writing though. It was a short story but the flow was nice. It was a decent reflective reminder to pay attention to the important things. But it still had some room to grow. 

Bulk Review Requests: It's Not Cool

It's time for a blunt service announcement

Authors, I know it gets really time consuming to inquire to a bunch of different reviewers. But this is just a casual warning in case you aren't aware: bulk review requests aren't cool. I don't mind if you're copying and pasting the same e-mail to me and a few other reviews. I appreciate it if you browse my blog and show you know a little about me before asking for me to read, but I know sometimes that's just not reasonable. But please, don't send a mass e-mail to me and 40 other reviewers. 

When I see an e-mail that starts with "Hey, I wanted to know if one of you would like to read my book", I am about 90% likely to just close the e-mail and walk away. Maybe it sounds cruel, but from my standpoint, why should I read a 300 page novel of yours to give you feedback when you can't take the time to e-mail me personally? And agents, you should know better! If you're representing an author, don't throw them under the bus by sending out a random press release to all active bloggers!

I've mentioned it in my review request tips before, but a reviewer is doing a lot for you as an author. I know sometimes people think we're getting a free book, we're more than compensated, but the internet is honestly full of free books. And I still buy plenty of books on the side. My reading list isn't shrinking anytime soon. And while a book may take 3 hours to read, a review can take another hour to write. That's time I'm not getting paid for. But I feel feedback is useful, so I set out to give as much as I can. Most of us review because we care about authors and we want to help. But starting out the relationship with a casual mass e-mail is a big no no. 

Are you going to send an e-mail to 30 colleges and say "Hey, your schools look cool, message me back if you think I'd be a good candidate?" Chances are, no. I can get 10 review requests in a single day. I'm not going to take them all, and chances are, if you bulk e-mail me, it's going to make that elimination process just a little bit easier. 

Send one e-mail at a time people. That is all. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author:   Diana Peterfreund
Publisher:   Balzer + Bray
Release Date: July 12th, 2012
Source: Kindle Purchase
It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

First and foremost: Slowest. Opening. Ever. 

Let me explain a little.

Despite my final rating and overall enjoyment of this piece, this was one of those stories that is so heavy in the beginning it was like a ball and chain around your ankle. No I haven't read Persuasion (maybe it could have helped?) But seriously, it was confusing and there were so many new elements and terms and it read like a crazy sad tragedy. And that tragedy element? Pretty sure it never went away. From an outsider perspective, never having read the inspiration, I just felt a bit caught up in the muck.

You know in love stories where your like, pretty sure it'll all work out? There was a point I just stopped rooting for it during this novel. It was like, depressing! There was so much woe I just wanted to read something happier...I felt like I should be coaching Elliott. "Hey, this guy is a jerk, move on! He came back and treated you like garbage and you never did anything to him!" I stayed in the story for the minor plot elements, but I honestly lost my love of Kai. I didn't feel like he ever made up for how he treated everyone. To be frank, he was an ass!

And you know, I can't make it without a spoiler, so here it is. Spoiler spoiler spoiler. When he flirts with Olivia, then is like "oh, I may have done that to make you jealous, and then she like, fell off a cliff and all and thankfully she fell for Donovan so i didn't have to deal with it."


Okay, not word for word but that's totally how it came across for me. Then it's like, "run away with me!"


This story is just a little messed up. Just a little.

So calming down. Let's talk about the good. The sort of dystopia here was sort of fun once you get into it. Kinda interesting society kind of redeveloping after almost wiping humans off the planet. Making new inventions, trying not to, you know, mess everything up again. Elliott's struggles felt very human, and other than the Kai thing, I liked her.

But man. Someone needed to kick him. Hard.

That is all.