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review 2019-03-17 05:03
Thoughts: Leviathan
Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld,Alan Cumming


by Scott Westerfeld
audio book narrated by Alan Cumming
Book 1 of Leviathan



Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run.  His own people have turned on him.  His title is worthless.  All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service.  She's a brilliant airman.  But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way… taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

I wish I could say that this book was a wonderfully amazing read... but the truth is, it didn't really quite pick up until about midway through.  It's an intriguing world that Westerfeld has introduced us to, this alternate reality in Europe at the cusp of World War I.  In this alternate reality, rather than the Central Powers and the Allied Powers, we have the Clankers and the Darwinists, respectively.  The same countries make up these two fictional groups as the real life ones they are based on.  Westerfeld's new twist in this steampunk fantasy, however, is to give the new technologies an interesting spin.

The Darwinists are so called because of their advanced sciences in DNA experimentation with animals, somehow being able to fabricate beasts into fighting machines during wartime.  The Clankers, in contrast, have built "diesel-driven iron machines" as their weapons of war--mechanized walkers that kept giving me images of a less sleek, more clanky version of Gundam fighters of anime fame.  Obviously they are not the same thing, as the one walker we get introduced to is a gigantic mechanism housing pilots, engineers, guns... much like a walking battleship or something.

Meanwhile, the truth is, it certainly took me a bit of progression into the story before I realized that the British side of the war were using fabricated animals as weapons and transport... and were called Darwinists.  After the introduction of the Leviathan airship, I should have figured that out, but for some strange reason, it didn't click.

The Leviathan's body was made from the life threads of a whale, but a hundred other species were tangled into its design, countless creatures fitting together like the gears of a stopwatch.  Flocks of fabricated birds swarmed around it--scouts, fighters, and predators to gather food.  Deryn saw message lizards and other beasties scampering across its skin.

It certainly made more sense as to why Deryn continuously referred to the flying machine she was piloting as "Beastie."  And also why she spoke to the Huxley (which I later learned was some sort of jellyfish-like flying contraption) the way that she did.  On the other hand, the Clanker side of technology made a bit more sense, even if the story line following Prince Aleksander was a bit lackluster in comparison to Deryn's side of the narrative.

I'm guessing either it was my lack of imagination, or the fact that I only really passively paid attention as the book was narrated to me.  Then I discovered that the print book itself actually has illustrations, and the Leviathan airship does, indeed, have the likeness of a whale.  It's pretty cool, and now I'm contemplating at least getting the rest of the Kindle books to go with my audio book experience so I can at least look at pictures...

But nevertheless, once everything started making sense, I started enjoying myself a little bit more.

I'm also guessing that I had found it easy for my mind to wander because aside from Deryn and Aleksander (and maybe Count Volgar and Dr. Barlow), none of the other characters particularly stood out as significant.  In which case, I cared little for the other midshipmen who traveled in the Leviathan with Deryn, so while her interactions seemed fun, none of it really struck a cord with me until Dr. Barlow started getting more book time.  Meanwhile, Alek's interactions with Klopp and Volgar were somewhat lackluster as well, even though you kind of get more book time with the three of them together, which should have increased their significance greatly.  I just wanted to get back to Deryn's story whenever Alek's narration swung around.

Upon the ultimate meeting between Deryn and Alek that we'd been expecting since the beginning, the story finally started picking up.  I'm almost sure that this had a lot to do with the fact that a lot of the side characters were delegated to the background and didn't really come to life for me.  I can count on one hand the number of characters I recall that really meant anything to me at all as a contribution to this book's story.

Nonetheless, Leviathan slowly grew to be a rather creative world.  I'm not as familiar with the timeline and events of World War I as I probably should be outside of a lot of superficial tidbit information.  I'm considering re-educating myself just to see if I can pinpoint where fact and fiction in these books connect and diverge...  That's just a thought though.

On a side note, at the end of the book, Scott Westerfeld himself gives an afterward about some of the differences between his fictional fantasy version versus the real events in history.  It was an interesting bit of knowledge that continues to spark my interest.

I'm also not as familiar with steampunk fantasy novels, as they've never been the type of books I've picked up in the past.  So this is a rather new experience for me as well.

On a final note, this book, I think was made a bit more enjoyable via Alan Cumming's narration, though I'm not opposed to admitting that it would have been less confusing had I maybe read it as a print book, illustrations and all.  This will teach me to pay more attention to the narrator in the next two books, I guess.  Though, for future reference for anyone else, maybe this book was meant to be read as a print novel instead of listened to as an audio book.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/thoughts-leviathan.html
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review 2019-03-14 14:54
not sure I liked Ryker!
Ryker - V.L. Locey,R.J. Scott
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. **This review will be short, I really dislike writing the three star reviews!** Ryker is hockey royalty, coming up as 4th generation championship winning players. Jacob works his family farm with his mum and dad. Both end up at hockey camp for the summer, and are polar opposites in most things. Sharing a room brings them closer, then camp is over and they are on opposite sides of the country. When Ryker switches college to be closer to Jacob, will Jacob let him? I can't put my finger on why this one didn't work for me, and ya'll know how much that does my head in! So, here's what I DID like. Both Jacob and Ryker have their say, so we get both sides of the coin. Both voices are clear and very different, and their voice is in the first person. Each change is clearly headed, and comes as the chapter changes. I saw no spelling or editing errors to spoil my reading. I tagged it as a short read, because it does NOT seem as long as the billed 196 pages! One sitting read, too. There are some characters from the series this one spins off, and that makes me want to go back and read THEIR series, or at least, Jared and Ten (Ryker's dad and step dad) stories. I just . . . .DON'T know what didn't work! Or at least, that was what I thought when writing this review. Now I'm typing it up, I *think* it might be Ryker himself. I dunno, maybe. Possibly. So, gonna leave it at that. 3 good solid but maybe not for me, stars **same worded review will appear elsewhere**


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review 2019-03-13 21:50
Review ~ Awesome
American Gods Volume 1: Shadows (Graphic Novel) - Neil Gaiman,Scott Hampton,Walt Simonson,P. Craig Russell,P. Craig Russell



Book source ~ Library


I read the book years ago and then I recently found out there’s a graphic novel. Of course I had to read it, but my library didn’t have it. So I suggested the purchase and they obliged. My library is awesome!


First in a trilogy (or so I’ve heard), this volume covers Shadow’s release from prison and his introduction to Mr. Wednesday, all the way to where he’s leaving the funeral home of Ibis and Jacquel. For those who don’t think they can do the longer novel version I recommend the graphic novel because it hits all the high points of the story. Because of the medium it can’t quite get all the nuances (obviously), but it’s a really good adaptation. Since I read the book years ago, I didn’t really remember most of it until I started reading this one. Then it began to come back to me. The artwork isn’t really all that for me, but it’s nice all the same. It reminded me of some of Gaiman’s Sandman comics so I did some research and a few volumes use the same illustrators. Look at me! I recognized some artwork! Impressed myself, I did. Lol I may need to check out the tv show now. Maybe. We’ll see.

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2019/03/american-gods-vol-1-shadows.html
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review 2019-03-06 15:33
The Ruins
The Ruins - Scott Smith






















What do you think is the absolute worst thing that can happen to you when you go on a well-deserved vacation with your girlfriend and with your friends? The answer to this horror novel is not a lost luggage on an airport or kidnapping or a disappearance of a friend of sorts, but more holding you, your girlfriend, and your friends hostage, if that makes sense, on old ruins that are apparently alive in a very terrifying way, well at least its plant is alive. And what's even worse is that these ruins are surrounded by these angry villagers or protectors of the ruins that don't want that living plant to spread all over the world, so they make sure you stay on the ruins with your loved ones until you yourself die or they die either by the plant or by their arrows. Now, how the heck and how the hell can you escape from such a predicament, when the plant is slowly eating you, your girlfriend, and your friends out, and the ruins are surrounded by angry villagers who don't want you to escape their eyesight. It seems very much impossible to escape from that, but Ruins have a very cool guy, who's knowledgeable and who's really smart and inventive and wants himself, his girlfriend, and his friends to get out of the predicament they've found themselves in. But whether he succeeds or fails, that's a completely different story. All in all, the novel is not that bad and is quite fun to read, and quite tense at times, and it really makes you feel bad about all the characters and cheer for their seemingly impossible survival. So, if you're one of those who loves to read survival horrors of sorts, and likes to cheer for the lead fictional character's survival, get your hands on this novel and don't mind all the negative reviews, focus on the positive ones, for they are pretty much the ones who share the true positive side of this novel's insane story of hope and survival.     

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review 2019-02-26 18:35
Goalies aren't suppose to score much less get a 'hat trick'...
Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) - V.L. Locey,R.J. Scott

right? Well no one told this to Stan and he's about to score the 'Hat Trick' to end all 'Hat Tricks' but honestly it's not on the ice.


I adore Stan and Erik, along with Erik's son Noah and Stan's mom and sister the family they're creating is so much fun to spend time with but now with the ringing of a phone things are about to change in ways that neither Stan or Erik had anticipated...wanted but hadn't quite anticipated yet.


Stan's heading back to Russia to collect his cousin's orphaned children and bring them back to America to become a part of the 'someday' family that he and Erik want to have...only, someday maybe wasn't suppose to be quite so soon.


I loved how Stan and Erik just did this...there was no should we? shouldn't we? this is family and they need a home so yes, there were logistics to deal with but doing it, giving these two children a home was never a decision to be made but that's not to say that there weren't concerns...Stan's gay and he's in a relationship with a man...it's not a secret and Stan's heading back to Russia...not a great place to go if you're gay...but he knows people.


So while it's stressful for Stan having to go back to Russia and for Erik having the man he loves travel to a place that's maybe not the safest place for him to be on his own no matter how big of a bear he is. What there isn't is a lot of unnecessary drama...me likey! 


The focus of this story was Stan and Erik and while each man had their own pressure to deal with to make this happen they did it and they did it as a couple...no added drama or 'miscommunications' just a couple working together to make something that needed to happen...happen. Actually it wasn't even just a couple because Stan's mom was right there to do her part and Stan's sister totally stepped in to help as well because hey, this is what family does.


I adore this series it's just so easy to get into and as much as I love Stan and Erik or Ten and Mads, I'd love more about the other characters we've met as well...like...Layton and Adler, Trent and Dieter, Max and Ben or one of my other personal favorites Bryan and his tattoo artist Gatlin...more about any or all of these men would not be amiss in my world.


Sometimes it comes down to screw the angst and conflict and extra drama I just want something with characters who make me smile and stories that keep making me smile and leave me feeling like my world's a little bit of a better place and the 'Harrisburg Railers' do that for me.




An ARC of 'Hat Trick' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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