07 November 2015

Sometimes it's better to not read a single review of a book, or any synopsis of it before you decide to dive in. Sometimes, when you see flurries of excitement of a book on Twitter and Instagram, you should just pick it up immediately. And then when an old college buddy recommends the audio, you just go ahead and stop procrastinating.

Here's one thing that I feel is fairly consistent with every review I've seen since I finished the book: you can't really give anything away. It wouldn't be fair to write about one piece, one thing that makes this story so very, very unique from all the other ones that have come out. You don't want to spoil it one bit. Instead, you have to just say that it's about a little girl named Melanie who is very, very smart and she goes to school every single day and loves to learn about the world and her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau. And then you throw in the part that there is also a man in the military who picks Melanie up from her cell every morning, who very meticulously straps her into a chair, following a process so specific as to keep him far from her, who then takes her to a classroom filled with other children similarly held down in their chairs. You should probably also add that there is a very ambitious doctor, a completely disturbing sociopath who evaluates them, one by one.

And then you just have to write that the story is engaging, absolutely perfect for those who like extremely smart and uniquely driven characters, who enjoy twists that are unexpected and who fancy a tale of a young girl who is smarter than your smartest human out there.

This is an adventure told by an author with an imagination who has taken our current culture of a dystopian society and placed an excellent spin to it, and is voiced through narration in the audiobook by Finty Williams, who is just powerful and PERFECT for every role. From Melanie to Miss Justineau to Gallagher to the Sergeant, this audio is one of my favorites this year, no doubt about it.

Click here to listen to a sample from Audible.com.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this book through my membership with Audible.com

About the Author 
M.R. Carey is an author of comics, novels, and films, according to Wikipedia. I couldn't track down a website for him, but it seems he's fairly active on Twitter.

Visit him:

03 November 2015

Pure, by Julianna Baggott (Audio Review)

I was completely surprised by this thoughtful and unique post-apocalyptic tale of young teenagers in the world since a massive explosion happened, an explosion so impacting and devastating that the world and people living in it would forever be changed. The new normal has become one in which bodies fused to metal or wood, or even other people or animals, has now been born.

In the nine years since the Detonations, Pressia and her grandfather struggle to live and make a life. One of Pressia's hands fused with the doll she was holding when the blasts occurred and now the doll's head has become one with her fist. Her grandfather fused with a metal fan which is now in his throat. In this new world they live in, everyone around them has had their bodies blended to something, or has been left with scars incredibly severe. No one is without blemish, unless you live in the Dome.

The Dome is hidden, filled with those who were unscathed and untouched by the blasts, protected on the very day the Detonations happened. They are known almost as a myth of an all-knowing entity, overseeing those who live outside the Dome, and who one day will come back and help those who were hurt. One day this will happen, but it's unknown when. For these nine years, the inhabitants of the Dome, also known as the Pures, have never ventured outside, and those who are fused or scarred beyond recognition, don't know the Dome's location.

Partridge is considered one of the Pures, a body perfectly clean and free of scars and marks, or fusions to objects. He is surrounded by people like him, and he does not know what awaits him outside of the Dome, but he is prepared to search for his mother. His decision to leave the Dome is unheard of and when he escapes and enters into a world where his pure and untouched face and body are so easily noticed, Pressia is the one who helps him. Along with Bradwell (fused to a bird) and El Capitan (fused with his brother), the journey begins. With unsettling and startling characters who at first might be unexpected, their disfigurements became a part of the landscape of this new world, "normalizing" it and making it unique and part of each character's personality. What a beautiful array of characters with so many incredible characteristic advantages and contributions to the adventure, and this story will stay with me for a while. I'm excited that this is a trilogy, so I'll be downloading the second installment soon.

The narrators were phenomenal. I should have realized this was going to be a homerun audiobook when I saw the list: Khristine Hvam, Joshua Swanson, Kevin T. Collins, and Casey Holloway. Khristine Hvam is the narrator for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, and she was awesome, so Pure is in extremely good company with this team. Click here to listen to an audio sample.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this book through my Audible.com membership.

About the Author (from her website)
Ah, there's a lot going on with this author! Such cool stuff. For her complete bio, visit her at the following sites:

08 October 2015

I'll write a more formal overview on October 12th, but I wanted, nay, NEEDED to, check in very quickly to let you all know that The Quick by Lauren Owen is so completely engaging that I'm trying to sneak time in as often as I can to read this gorgeously written story. It is PERFECT for a spooky season. I'm only about 120 pages in, but I'm catching up. The secrets, the overall storyline, the disturbing reality of what's happening - it's right up there with some of my favorite books.

If you enjoy stories told in an epistolary or journal/letter-like format, this one would fit right in there, especially the section I'm currently in. Delightful, disturbing. These are the words I must use to describe it. Cannot. Get. Enough.

02 October 2015

A few years ago, I read Wool Omnibus and immediately proclaimed it to be the best book I had read all year. The best. I still stand by that when I look at the list now. And thank you, Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, for first posting about it!

And now I finally, FINALLY picked up books 2 and 3 and am kicking myself that I didn't read these in quick succession. Allow me to give you a brief review by saying you're missing out on all things incredible if you don't dive into this unique world.

I'm going to cheat a little bit and use a few lines of my review of the first installment to start:
I couldn't believe how sucked in I was. Each character was so thoroughly developed and the action so intense that I happily read the entire book on my iPhone. That means about 1200+ pages (screens?) that I flew through, desperate to know what happened next. It is one of the BEST books I have ever read in my LIFETIME, and is my absolute favorite book of the year. This, when released in print next year by Simon and Schuster, will be picked up on the day of release and will rest nicely on my bookshelf next to Stephen King's The Stand, Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, and other favorites that I always want to have at my fingertips. As many of you know, science fiction is not one I'm that used to, so I can easily assure you that if your reading preferences include political corruption, mystery, thrillers, suspense, love, and more, I highly recommend that you step outside of your boundaries and do a dual risk of reading a self-published tale and one that just happens to be labeled as science fiction. The bottom line? I LOVED THIS BOOK.

Where Wool describes a suspenseful period in the world of silos set underground, Shift goes back to the start and outlines how the silos were first envisioned, drafted, built, and ultimately inhabited. Donald, a young congressman with a friendship with a high-ranking senator results in Donald being called on to use his architectural skills and draft a "what if" scenario - if humans had to live underground, how would they do it? What would they live in? Donald, trusting and sensitive, could never have imagined that his ideas would be built, and once they are, that they would ever be used. The reason why is never fully explained to him. Why should it? This senator, so much like a father-figure, is his guide.

Shift encompasses three "shifts," work conducted by the same group over a period of many years, made possible by a simple pill created to erase the past and make mindless the workers to monitor and manage a world very different than what they ever previously lived in. While Shift was sometimes more tedious than Wool, it was a crucial puzzle piece in the overall series and can't be skipped. I would urge you, however, to not take years in-between books the way I did. It's worth it to go back to back.

And then Dust. Ahh. This beautiful installment captures the magic that was Wool and more so. It returns back to characters from Wool and places them in situations to engage with the characters from Shift, and it is awesome. Dust is what I remember Wool to be, and I keep shaking my head when I remind myself that these are self-published books (although Simon & Schuster did convince the author to release Wool in print, which brought a larger fandom). There is no big-five publisher responsible for editing any of it. This is the author, enveloping himself in such a unique world and delivering a knock-out punch to those who feel a self-published book is just not as good as one you'd pick up at the store. This entire series begs to differ with that argument, and wins. He isn't limited by the publishing world to release his books at a certain pace, and after a series of teams edit away the core of it. He writes how he wants to write and releases it whenever he wants to. He has complete control over it and for fans like me? It works because I can keep diving into these worlds whenever I want.

Hugh Howey's work is incredible. It makes no difference if you're a sci-fi or fantasy fan. His robust repertoire are stories that deal with regular people in unique worlds and situations. It's just right for someone who isn't used to these genres. Take a chance. Get his work. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Publisher of Shift: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: 1/28/13

Publisher of Dust: CreateSpace
Release Date: 8/17/13

FTC Disclosure: I purchased and downloaded this story directly to my iPhone.

About the Author
Hugh Howey is the bestselling author of the self-published phenomenon that is the Wool series. He is also the author of the Molly Fyde series and a host of others that can be found by clicking here. He is currently on the trip of his life by sailing the boat of his dreams, which he plans to be on for at least the next decade. And he's writing. Thank goodness.

Hugh Howey is extremely active with his fans and on social media (and with sailing the world, I'd really like it if he got on Periscope, too!), so here are the links where you can visit the author:

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