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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-09-18 06:21
Review: Alive by Scott Sigler
Alive: Book One of the Generations Trilogy by Scott Sigler (2015-07-14) - Scott Sigler

I cannot begin to tell you how dismayed I am to be giving a book by Scott Sigler just two stars. I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever given one of his books less than four stars. For me, Scott Sigler is an auto-buy, auto-read author. If he puts it into print, I will read it. And every single time, I have loved it. Until this time. When I first heard this book was being published I was a little surprised. Young Adult is not really the Sigler wheelhouse. Dick jokes and very colorful language is part of the writing style, none of which can be in a young adult book. But he’s an extraordinary writer so I didn’t worry about it too much. Surprised but not worried. In hindsight, I should have been worried.

 

Now, in order for me to be intellectually honest, I also have to mildly rebuke the author a little. On the podcast for Alive, and apparently on the book (at least the advance copies), he felt it necessary to add a little notation that said if you’re going to review this book, please don’t post spoilers and ruin it for other people. This shocked me. My jaw literally dropped. Scott Sigler has never been someone that didn’t understand the reader/author line and always been very respectful of any and all feedback. But this was not okay. Once that book is out into the world, you no longer control it as an author and you certainly don’t control the way it is read or reviewed. If someone doesn’t wish to be spoiled, they should probably not read reviews. Or look for ones that specifically state no spoilers. Let’s not repeat this pattern Scott Sigler, it’s not a good look.

 

Alright, all that finished. Consider yourself warned, there be spoilers ahead.

 

***SPOILERS***

 

Let’s talk about the redeeming qualities about this book first, that’s the shorter of my two lists. The premise of this book is very good, it’s intriguing and mysterious and horrifying at time. It was executed badly but the premise was great.

 

Em was a character with a lot of potential. A scared little girl who is thrust into a position of authority when she doesn’t know anything more about the situation than anyone else. Where Em fell short was that she ended up being largely boring. Most of her verbal dialogue and inner dialogue alike are “I’m the leader, I think that person wants to challenge me to be leader but I’M THE LEADER!!” Seriously, she repeats this so many times I was praying someone would actually challenge her leadership so she could stop stressing about it.

 

All of the other characters really don’t matter. Bello is very important to Em for some reason that I never figured out, she didn’t do anything except sit around, look pretty and be boring. O’Malley has some potential to be interesting because I got the sense that he is a secret trouble maker, he always seems like he’s supportive of Em but I think he’s undermining her behind her back. Bishop is scary and violent but, oh, those dreamy eyes and muscles of his. We hear a lot about liquid eyes and taunt muscles and flat stomachs too. Which brings me to my biggest problem with this book:

 

These kids are supposed to be 12 year olds stuck in adult bodies. Why are they all so sexually interested? Kids at 12 have crushes based on who looked at them across the playground, not because they are enthralled with their muscles and boobs. 12 year olds haven’t figured out what boobs are yet. So on one hand you have prepubescent kids acting like 16-17 year old kids, but then also calling these mysterious people who locked them away “grown ups”. I am pretty certain that most kids stop referring to adults as grown ups much earlier than 12 years old. It was very strange.

 

The kids, Em in particular, at times struck me as both a much younger and much older child and it did not make sense. She also seemed very disingenuous as a female character, often times she read like a boy. This could be explained by something I heard the author say in his podcast when he was asked how difficult it was to narrate a 12 year old girl. (Note: while in quotations, this is not a direct quote, but it’s close), “It really wasn’t that hard because the world of Alive is post-gender, post-race, post-everything except the caste system that they don’t even understand yet.”

 

This leads me to a question, if your world is post-gender, why differentiate between girls and boys at all? Presumably the “grown ups” that are cultivating their bodies for their own use don’t need to breed because they can live for millennia, so…why was this important anyway? And why exactly is everyone so obsessed with how attractive the opposite gender is, if it is really irrelevant? It was the strangest remark I’ve ever heard, I listened twice just to be sure I heard it correctly. And I am not sure what this caste system is because we were too busy obsessing over leadership and muscles to explore it at all.

 

While we’re on the subject of gender in characters, what the fuck was with dressing 12 year olds in too-small, too-tight, busting-at-the-seams Catholic schoolkids outfits? And everyone was so completely hot? Are we really sexualizing 12 year old children? I found that to be one of the more disturbing aspects of the whole book. My brain just kept screaming “Stop it! These are children! Literally prepubescent children!”

 

I will walk away from that for awhile and move on to tropes. This book has all of them. Smoldering eyes, liquid eyes, scintillating muscles, flat firm stomachs, boobs popping out of shirts, wistful glances across fields of flowers. There was so much purple prose I was inspired to quote from Willy Wonka. Sigler, you’re turning violet Sigler!

 

Lastly, the plot. It was boring. 70% of the book was walking, arguing about leadership, gazing longingly at each other, and occasionally doing something they think is a bad idea (I shouldn’t look in that room, oh I did anyway, OMG that’s awful I shouldn’t have looked!) Then when we finally started getting answers I was presented with Brewer the Cheshire Cat who I thought was supposed to be the bad guy, but apparently isn’t. But if he is a good guy, then why the hell was he talking in so many circles. I also lost my mind when Brewer gave them a lecture about “why tell you when I can show you, that’s so much better”….and then proceed to TELL them for about 6 pages everything that was going on. That was followed with 10 more pages of the actual bad guy, Matilda, once again telling them everything they need to know about what’s going on. I thought showing was better? I could almost hear the author over my shoulder whispering in my ear, “Are you so super surprised? You never saw it coming did you?” Honestly, no I didn’t see it coming but it also wasn’t that great either. My final feelings once I turned the last page were a big, whomp whomp.

 

Unfortunately, this trilogy will tie directly into the larger Siglerverse very heavily, I can see that, so I have to read the next two. I really don’t want to, but I will. Maybe it gets better, if not, I’ll let you know.

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review 2019-06-14 21:13
Zombie Oasis (Still Alive #4) by Javan Bonds
Zombie Oasis: Still Alive Book Four - Javan Bonds,Monique Happy

Note: This is Book 4 in the series and it really does work best if you’ve read the first 3.

It was fun and had me snort laughing at inappropriate moments. It wasn’t my favorite of the series so far though. I think that is because the first half of the book spends time kind of recapping what other people are doing and also brings in some new characters that I think will be important later in the series. The second half returns us to Mo’s fumbling hands where I felt comfortable just being myself and laughing at his commentary on life.

These stories are full of juvenile humor, true, but also humor that pokes fun at life’s ‘isms’ (racism, sexism, ageism, teratophobia, homophobia, etc.). That makes me laugh because we all know people with hangups and these books show just how silly those hangups are in the face of cannibalistic nudists. Sometimes the grundge talk (how gooey those zombies really are) goes a little far for me so I don’t recommend eating while listening to this book.

Mo’s little Zombie Island (really Guntersville Island) is coming along well and the residents are in such a good place that they want to bring in more survivors. Mo must assemble a crew to take the pirate ship Viva Ancora out on a hunt. The story does leave us on a cliff hanger with the crew selected and the ship ready to sail. The crew includes Mo’s older brother, Easy, who makes me laugh because he’s such a studly dunce. Smokes and the best prepared guy in the wheelchair (with his monkey Mary) will be going as well. Hammer and Crow will also be joining them. Turns out Crow can cook far more than boring fish, proving Mo’s theory that she makes such a disappointing dish just to irritate him.

The ladies get a little more page time, but pretty much they are mothers, wives, and romantic interests. And the story pokes fun at that over used trope too. Still, I think the ladies have more to contribute. Aka (the engineer) and Easy do get married (and Crow made a scrumptious cake for the wedding). Mo gets some time with his love, even if she’s upset that he plans to go out into danger on this new mission. Mo’s mom puts in several appearances, all being motherly (especially about grammar and swearing).

All around, it was a fun addition to the series even if it wasn’t the best. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: S. W. Salzman was a lot of fun as the narrator for this book. I feel like he enjoys giving this series a voice. His voice for Mo is still my favorite, being a heavy Alabama accent. He also does well with all the female voices. I liked his version of the serial killer from Silence of the Lambs, who kinda gets a cameo in this story. The pacing was perfect and there were no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own.

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review 2019-03-28 11:24
Last Ones Left Alive - Sarah Davis-Goff

All Orpen has ever known is the island of Slanbeg, her mother Muireann and Maeve. She has been trained to fight the skrake, devourer of humans, once human themselves. But Orpen has never seen a skrake and is eager to leave the island. Then Maeve is bitten and Orpen must try to get help. On the journey Orpen discovers more about the world outside Slanbeg and about herself in the process.

 

This is a very easy to read book. The chapters are short and so the reader soon finds themselves well entrenched in the novel. The language has a special cadence to it. The novel is set in Ireland and there are hints of a melodic Irish lilt to the tone. There is the unique voice of Orpen. She has only ever spoken to two people in her life, three if you count her dog. She is used to the inflections and mannerisms of her mother and Maeve. When she encounters people she often comments that it is hard to understand them. There is also the impression that they don’t always understand her, though she comes to realise it may be how she speaks that is also confusing.

 

Orpen has been taught that men are bad. So when she encounters Cillian her first instinct is to flee. But as she interacts with him, the only man she has ever met, and the only man to feature in the story, she discovers that he is an exception to the rule her mother and Maeve imparted on her. Just as she also discovers, not all woman have been trained to fight, or even taught to read.

 

Not everything is tied up nicely in the story. The reader doesn’t find out how the skrake came to be, how long ago it all started or if it has spread to other countries. But then Orpen doesn’t find these things out. She is left with as many questions as we are.

I did get a bit distracted trying to work out how long ago the skrake appeared and the world seemed to end. I spent my time wondering why all the bodies Orpen came across in cars and the houses weren’t reduced to bone, if this apocalypse had occurred decades ago and whether her mother and Maeve’s talk of oven’s lit by gas and water from taps was from memory. My mind did wander occasionally but I read on and I’m glad I did. The story has a fitting ending, given Orpen lives in a situation that seems to have no end in sight.

 

Orpen has always been hidden by the shadow of Maeve. It is only on this journey that she can step out and realise who she actually is. She discovers a resilience she didn’t know she possessed and that not everything she had been taught, or believed, was the whole truth. Whilst she may think that her childhood ended at 7 and that she knew everything, her true learning began when she set off with the wheelbarrow.

This was an interesting read, I’ll look out for more from Sarah Davis-Goff in the future.

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review 2019-02-01 20:25
Review ~ Tired and Stale
Look Alive Twenty-Five - Janet Evanovich

2.5

Book source ~ Library

 

Stephanie Plum is a bond enforcement agent for her cousin Vinnie’s agency, but now she has to also manage a deli that the agency has acquired through the collateral on a bond skip. A deli that she finds out has had three managers go missing in the last month and all that was left behind was one shoe. Yikes. Never fear though because Lula is going to help her. *cue eye roll*

 

This series is so stale I want to slap myself for continuing to read it. At least I get the books from the library now and have for some time. The best thing I can say is it’s an easy-to-read brainless fluff book for when you just need to unwind with something completely predictable and uncomplicated. Grandma Mazur is barely in this one, but Lula is there for nearly all of it. Stephanie *still* can’t decide between Morelli and Ranger and I’m sick of her shit. Each book she’s on again, off again with Morelli who she isn’t ready to marry and apparently neither is he. But her one excuse for not considering Ranger is he isn’t looking to get married. What the actual fuck?! That makes zero sense. Plus, in this book she’s macking on Ranger while she’s still in a sort of relationship with Morelli. Ok, that’s cheating full out. At least all the other (few) times she hooked up with Ranger she and Morelli were off again. I can accept that. But this? No. Just, no. I’m not sure I can keep doing this to myself, but I probably will only because I love Ranger. He deserves so much better than Stephanie.

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2019/02/look-alive-twenty-five.html
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text 2019-01-24 00:37
Reading progress update: I've read 147 out of 320 pages.
Look Alive Twenty-Five - Janet Evanovich

Ranger had been making sandwiches for hours. He didn't have a speck of mayo, mustard, or ketchup on him. His station was immaculate. Every sandwich had been perfect and cut with precision.
"Impressive," I said.
He smiled. "I have good knife skills."


This is the funniest thing in the book so far. I may have even chortled."

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