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review 2018-12-10 00:48
Before the Fall
Before the Fall - Noah Hawley,Robert Petkoff

Disclaimer:  I am giving this book a "Goodreads" two stars; not an "Amazon" two stars.  This is a "this was fair" two stars.

 

Seven passengers, one bodyguard, and three airline crew members are on a private flight from Martha's Vineyard to New York City, when the airplane crashes into the ocean.  Somehow two of the people on the airplane survive:  an artist named Scott Burroughs, and JJ, the four-year-old son of David Bateman, who runs ALC News, a cable station that appears to be a thinly veiled version of Fox News.  Against the odds, Scott is able to swim about ten miles to the shore of Montauk, Long Island, with JJ on his back, rescuing both of them.

 

Scott immediately becomes part of the 24-hour news cycle, with most reporters wishing to know more about the "hero" story.  Going against the grain is one of the talking heads at Bateman's network, Bill Cunningham.  Cunningham has recently come under fire for obtaining illegal recordings of various high-profile people's phone conversations, and he is not chastened.  Cunningham goes into tinfoil hat mode, insisting that his friend David was most definitely probably murdered as part of an elaborate conspiracy, and who was this Scott guy anyway, and who cares if he saved JJ Bateman's life, even dogs can be trained to save lives.  Or maybe it's because Ben Kipling, David Bateman's friend and a fellow passenger on the flight, was about to be indicted for laundering money from "non-friendly" nations.

 

The narrative moves back and forth in time, filling in the backstories of the various people on the plane, which also include David's wife Maggie; a former preschool teacher; their nine-year-old daughter Rachel (who had been kidnapped at age two, hence the bodyguard); Ben Kipling's wife Sarah; the Israeli bodyguard, Gil Baruch; the pilot James Melody; co-pilot Charles Busch; and flight attendant Emma Lightner.

 

The plot held my interest, and I wanted to find out why the airplane went down.  But once it wrapped up, it seemed the author was rushing.  When the book ended, I said out loud, "that's IT?"  It felt as though it should have had at least one more chapter.

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review 2018-12-05 19:27
Review: Girls of Paper and Fire
Girls of Paper and Fire - Natasha Ngan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I went into reading this one with minimal expectations, sounded good but wasn’t really expecting much as I have read so much fantasy this year, and most of it has been a mixed bag. The premise was interesting enough as was the Malaysian inspired premise – but reading in the blurb protagonist chosen to be part of a king’s harem and does the unthinkable – falls in love with someone else.

 

Initially there was a bit of eye rolling on my part and a guess – oh she’s going to fall for some guard or male servant or a prince who’s going to wind up helping her some way. Did I ever get a surprise on that department!

 

I found myself absolutely loving this book. I had started reading by ebook review galley, to find this was the book of the month in my Fairyloot subscription box and got a signed edition with the prettiest cover and pink sprayed edges. This is one of my top ten books of this year.

 

Trigger warnings – sexual assault. There is actually a warning for this on the inside cover of the hardback.

 

The world building is rich and well developed, in this fantasy there are three castes – Paper, the lowest caste, the humans, Steele – half human, half demons  - the middle cast – these people have demoneseque features and powers. Moon caste are the highest – complete demons form. The demon form is usually some sort of animal basis.

 

The heroine Lei lives a hard but happy life in her village with her father in his shop, they are both Paper, they live with her father’s assistant, a Steele class lady who has worked there as long as Lei can remember and is like family to them. Lei’s mother disappeared 10 years ago, taken by a demon army.

 

Every year a number of girls are chosen (read taken) by the Demon King’s army to be Paper Girls – the King’s Concubines – it’s not a request if you’re chosen. Lei finds herself taken by the army, she has unusual gold eyes – goddess touched – which earns her the army chief’s attention and he takes her thinking he can gain favour with the king.

 

Lei’s world is shattered. Lei has a strong voice and is fiery and determined. She was a brilliant lead, full of personality and promise, without being overly head strong or making stupid decisions and rash actions. She’s naturally completely against being a Paper Girl but figures once she’s at the Imperial Palace she might be able to find out what happened to her missing mother.

 

Paper Girls for this year’s crop have already been chosen so Lei’s addition is unusual. Her goddess touched gold eyes make her a viable option. Some of the girls there have been training for this for years and are from high class families, and your typical mean girls. Others are colder and more remote, and one girl is nice and friendly, if very naïve.

 

Lei reluctantly starts to settle into life at the Palace – an elevated life of culture and learning. The girls have a maid who helps them, and lessons, it’s very exclusive and luxurious – but there’s something quite oppressive about it as well. As there is always the threat of the reason why they are there – to serve as concubines to a demon king who doesn’t care if this is something the girls want or not.

 

The girls have to attend various Court events after they are presented to the King. The King makes his choices and one by one the girls are called on to perform their duties. The reactions they have after their night with the King is different for each girl. It’s very uncomfortable to read about.

 

The King is a young man, very handsome, but brutal, a bully, he has moments where you think there might be more to him than a cold ruler who has very little thought for anyone else other than what he wants. But just as quickly as you get that glimpse – something happens and he’s horrible again. And gets worse and worse throughout the novel.

 

While regular Paper Girl life is going on Lei finds herself becoming enamoured with one of the other Paper Girls. This is one the best slow burn romances I’ve come across in a long time. It’s so so slow but the build of anticipation is brilliant as Lei gets to know the girl, Wren. Wren was one of the ones who was cold and dismissive at first, but Wren is as mysterious as she is beautiful. Lei’s yearning comes through so vividly, as she tries to figure out her ceilings, worrying about waiting for her own turn with the king.

 

As the romance slowly blossoms, Lei starts learning some of Wren’s secrets. The plot starts picking upwards the end. There’s a few mysteries and some plot twists and a good burst of action towards the end. And a really WTF cliffhanger at the end. Just when you think everything might actually be okay… of course it’s not!

 

I can’t find enough words for how much I loved this book. There’s not much more I can say without being overly spoilerly about the overall plot. It’s hard to read in some places and deals with some serious issues. It gets uncomfortable. Other places it’s beautifully written with a moving romance, and some lovely female friendships.

 

I can’t wait for more of this series.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2018-11-11 05:34
That's a Wrap: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World - Stephen Brusatte

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

A New History of a Lost World
by Steve Brusatte

 

 

The dinosaurs.  Sixty-six million years ago, the Earth’s most fearsome creatures vanished.  Today they remain one of our planet’s great mysteries.  Now The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs reveals their extraordinary, 200-million-year-long story as never before.

In this captivating narrative (enlivened with more than seventy original illustrations and photographs), Steve Brusatte, a young American paleontologist who has emerged as one of the foremost stars of the field—naming fifteen new species and leading groundbreaking scientific studies and fieldwork—masterfully tells the complete, surprising, and new history of the dinosaurs, drawing on cutting-edge science to dramatically bring to life their lost world and illuminate their enigmatic origins, spectacular flourishing, astonishing diversity, cataclysmic extinction, and startling living legacy.  Captivating and revelatory, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a book for the ages.

Brusatte traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as small shadow dwellers—themselves the beneficiaries of a mass extinction caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period—into the dominant array of species every wide-eyed child memorizes today, T. rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, and more.  This gifted scientist and writer re-creates the dinosaurs’ peak during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, when thousands of species thrived, and winged and feathered dinosaurs, the prehistoric ancestors of modern birds, emerged.  The story continues to the end of the Cretaceous period, when a giant asteroid or comet struck the planet and nearly every dinosaur species (but not all) died out, in the most extraordinary extinction event in earth’s history, one full of lessons for today as we confront a “sixth extinction.”

Brusatte also recalls compelling stories from his globe-trotting expeditions during one of the most exciting eras in dinosaur research—which he calls “a new golden age of discovery”—and offers thrilling accounts of some of the remarkable findings he and his colleagues have made, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs; monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex; and paradigm-shifting feathered raptors from China.

An electrifying scientific history that unearths the dinosaurs’ epic saga, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs will be a definitive and treasured account for decades to come.



This is one of those books that could have been cut down in size readily if we edited out a lot of the details of personal facts.  The author tended towards rambling when he starts talking about his own trips to different countries, his own achievements, and his discoveries.  He also gives more personal background information about a lot of his colleagues than I really cared to know about, and made general, sweeping declarations about how someone was "the single most important contributor to such and such" which made me feel kind of wary.

He also liked to remind the reader that he's a very, very outstanding paleontologist, and that he's worked with lots of great paleontologists, and that he, alone, has made several discoveries, none of which he actually gives names to.  Repeatedly.

There was a lot of repetition of information, bogged down with details as well.

There's a particular part of one of the chapters that kind of stood out to me, because he spends about five or six pages describing the shifting of lands that started breaking apart the super-continent of Pangaea.  He describes volcanic activity and lava flow, and how it was what had caused the first mass extinction pre-dinosaur domination.  This particular fact was talked about, repeatedly in those few pages.  Those first few paragraphs had already told me what I needed to know about the end of the Triassic period.  But he went on as if he thought he hadn't already given me enough information to understand the global significance of this event.  It got to a point where I forgot that there was another point to this particular chapter.

I'm tempted to count the many times he described Tyrannosaurus Rex's body shape and structure, specifically emphasizing the creature's puny, pathetic arms--I think there might have been at least six instances... within a couple pages.  I think I get it.  And I figure I already knew this information without it being harked upon.  And I feel like maybe we should think about T-Rex's feelings when you keep insulting his itty-bitty arms, because that's just rude.  It took him an entire chapter of emphasizing those tiny arms on this enormous apex predator before getting to the point: Why the tyrannosaur still had said small arms anyway?

The rest of the chapter wasn't actually bad, truth be told, if he'd have just stuck with the science.  Instead, he tried to be dramatic, opening the chapter with a tacky introduction, seen through the eyes of a triceratops, describing the T-Rex attack of several hadrosaurs.  It seemed highly unnecessary.  As did many of his other dramatic introductory scenes to a couple other chapters in the book.

Not all of this book is so terrible, however.  If it's one thing I could deduce while reading this book, it was that our author is, indeed, knowledgeable and passionate about his career and the study of dinosaurs.  There were a few fun new facts I, personally, learned about dinosaurs.  And if he was so inclined to go further into some evolutionary studies, I'd be interested.  He certainly touched on evolution several times.  And you even get a pretty good look at the timeline of the pre-dinosaur era, the rise of the dinosaurs, their evolution over millions of years, and then the final fall of their dominance on Earth.

I didn't need a dramatic telling of the "dinosaur outside his window" to know about the "birds are dinosaurs" tidbit.  It's one of the things they teach in a basic science course, y'know.  And his exclamation is a bit oversimplified anyway.  I did, however, appreciate that he then went into the journey that paleontologists went through to finally make and prove the connection between dinosaurs and birds, though.  But his declaration seemed a bit out of tone and unnecessary in light of the fact that, as I already said, this is something you learn in a basic science or biology course about evolution.

And, in a nutshell, evolution is so much more complicated than a simple declaration that "birds are dinosaurs."

This book could have actually been quite informational (and it was, in a way), and it could have been much more interesting to read.  But there was too much non-dinosaur story telling involved, which really just managed to make me impatient with the book.  It certainly could have used a good edit to cut out unnecessary information.

 




This book was read for the Flat Book Society as well as 24 Festive Tasks, for the New Year's Eve Book Task.

 

The Flat Book Society


And since we don't really have a graphic for the New Year's Eve door yet, I give you a brief reintroduction to Dino Baby!  Rawr!

I am the true apex predator!
I dominate all of your squee's!

 

 

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review 2018-11-07 14:49
Galactic-War: "The Fall of Worlds" by Francine Mezo
The Fall of Worlds - Francine Mezo



(Original Review, 1980-11-25)


When you see a pb cover with the author's name in bright red letters over an inch high, and the title letters in white, only a quarter of an inch in height, but you never heard of the writer, it makes you wonder. (The story doesn't read like a translation, nor is there any entry for Mezo in Clute's SF ENCYCLOPEDIA, so this is seemingly not an import.) It looked like something for my SF female protagonists’ collection, so I got it despite one of the most ridiculous cover pictures for that type.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-11-06 19:59
ARC REVIEW Never Let Me Fall by Abbie Roads
Race the Darkness (Fatal Dreams) - Abbie Roads
Hunt the Dawn - Abbie Roads

 

 

 

Fatal Dreams #3, Each of the Fatal Dreams books can be read as a standalone. While this one didn't quite have the same umph as Roads last three books it was still a fantastic read. Very deep in the internal conflict of recognizing who they are together and what they are becoming. A dark fairy tale/folklore at the root of it all tells a tale of never ending love and the power it holds and the reincarnated souls that carry on that power.

Thomas Brown lost the ability to see color when his step father tried to kick his face in, the resulting damage caused serious problems to the optic nerve. He also has the ability to see a person's "death shadow" which tells him basically how evil a person really is and after a person dies it can show him the person's life up until their death. Helena Greyse was tried and convicted for a murder she never committed and spent the last ten years fighting for her life. Helen survived many attacks while in prison some that should have killed her, even her last night there she barely made it out with her life. When they meet for the first time, the day Helen was released, they both knew their lives have unequivocally changed. Helen has brought color to Thomas' life and for the first time in ten years Helen felt safe with Thomas. Thomas and Helen's lives are tied together in so many ways but there is still one giant obstacle for them to overcome. Can their love overcome this common enemy who has been a source of pain for them both?   

Overall, this book was outstanding it's an emotional read, it's dark, it's paranormal, it's suspenseful, it's heavy on the internal conflict without the characters sounding whiny and useless. They are each other's strength, they are the balm for their souls it's a beautiful insta-love romance. The external conflict wasn't as traumatizing for me as the other two, it was still bad but it almost feels like it was glossed over and leaves you with just assuming how bad the events were; but it was still good and I loved the conclusion.  

 

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