Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Andrew Zollman

What I Read: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Mercedes Lackey's post-apocalyptic science fiction mixes magic and technology and a view of society 250 years after a series of catastrophes call the “Diseray”. Millions died and creatures once a part of legends and folktales came into the world to terrorize those who were unprotected. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares. Monsters.

Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits (Civilians) live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky. To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.

Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers, and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in—to them, Joy and her corps of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV. When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, she uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex.

What I Thought: Where should I start… Ah, although the book is set for adults, it should be noted that the book would have been better served for a young adult or transitioning teen reader. The friendships, relationships, and interactions between characters have an innocence to them that you don’t generally find in adult relationships.

Just remember that there are no bad books, just poorly written ones.

I have to say that Mercedes Lackey did not do a good job writing to build or create this new post-apocalyptic world. This may be why our library hadn’t picked up the book and series until 2016 even though it was released in 2015 as a paperback. There might have been revisions and changes for the rerelease to warrant buying it.

I know I may be ostracized for saying this, but I wish authors wouldn’t base their stories in the same type as hunger games or another series just because it is successful. Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar Series, is better constructed and well written, where Hunter was slow and painful to read. Initially, the book was hard to understand and the background of the character is barely touched upon throughout the first 25% of the book. When looking on Goodreads, I found that many readers did not finish the book at this point and gave up. I however didn’t let this daunt me, so I continued to plug away and read through.

Once again, it seems this book was written for a younger audience. The story does eventually pick up and actually start moving forward at about the halfway point. I believe if Mercedes Lackey had provided a little more information about the society and how people live, it would have given me a better understanding and made it easier to follow. Joy did learn about Cit customs and society, but these interactions were limited to semi intimate dates and interviews with Apex News reporters with Hunters. This was the reader’s only window to society and how it worked. I wish shed had fleshed out the story and built the world a little bit better.

The second half of Hunter took a complete turn back to the story and its objective. Lackey introduced the conflict and hidden side of society Hunter Joy found alarming. The conflict with other Hunters pushes the story to the true problem of society and what it was doing to the Cits and how it treats the people within and without Apex.

Hunter is not a new type of novel and despite its obvious weaknesses in the first half of the book and throughout, it is not a bad read. The content of the first book is set up to change and grow with the second book Elite. My hope is that the content will mature and become a cohesive whole to the greater issue at hand instead of smaller disputes and political maneuvering going on in Hunter. I recommend this series for younger readers more interested in following a character, learning again about fairy tales, and following the action of the Hunters. It gets better at the end so keep with it, even though it is barely compelling in the beginning.

Readalikes: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Or look this book up on NoveList!


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Elia Juarez

What I Read: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Ever since her parents died, 17-year old Emmerson can see ghosts just about everywhere she goes. The problem is, no one believes her, and her older brother has sent her to psychiatrists, psychologists, and hospitals trying to “help” her but the only thing that seems to help is heavy doses of medication that leave Emmerson feeling like a zombie. As a last ditch hope, Emmerson’s brother hires a man from an organization known as “Hourglass,” which claims to be experts in this sort of thing. That’s when Emmerson begins to the dangerous truth about what she’s really seeing, what she really is, and why this is all happening to her. 

What I Thought: Though it has an interesting premise and includes elements of both fantasy and science-fiction, this is pretty typical teen fare. Everyone is impossibly beautiful, impossibly rich and impossibly brilliant (even though none of them are even old enough to legally drink yet) and of course, there’s a kind of love triangle that starts to emerge by the end.

However, this is part of a series, and because of that, lots of strings are left loose, and frankly some of what happens here makes very little sense. Still, I want to give it the benefit of the doubt BECAUSE it is only book 1 of 3 and I am hoping a lot of my unanswered questions get answered before the series is over (book 2 is Timepiece and book 3 is Infinityglass). I did like the uniqueness of the premise, but too many characters seemed one dimensional. And the time travel elements just sort of seem scientifically unsound.

Readalikes: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Or look this book up on NoveList!


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Jim Patrick

What I Read: Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Now 70 years old, singer Carly Simon reflects on the first half of her life in Boys in the Trees: A Memoir.  The book is so brave and revealing that perhaps another Carly Simon song title would have been more fitting: We Have No Secrets.  

Thanks to an astonishing memory for details—aided by a lifetime of diary writing—Simon recounts incidents from her childhood up to the end of her marriage to singer James Taylor in 1981.  Far from her image as a spoiled rich girl—her father was the Simon of Simon and Schuster publishing—Carly Simon’s youth was scarred by her parents’ unhappy marriage and her own poor self-image.  As a pre-teen, Simon was physically molested by a family acquaintance.  She suffered for years with a stuttering impediment, and she has been treated for depression throughout her life.

Her success as a singer, originally as a duo with sister Lucy, seems to have taken Carly by surprise, and given her lifelong stage fright, Simon’s fame was a mixed blessing.  Her stardom did bring her in contact with others in the entertainment industry, and much of the book details romantic encounters with familiar icons such as Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson, Mick Jagger, and Cat Stevens.  And, yes, the mystery inspiration of Simon’s “You’re So Vain” is at least partially answered: Warren Beatty inspired one of the verses.  The latter part of the book details the decade-long marriage to James Taylor, a brilliant musician who was plagued by a heroin addiction throughout his years with Carly Simon.

What I Thought: Since this is not a “breezy” show business memoir, it does not always make for easy reading.  Carly Simon shares painful and unflattering episodes from her life, along with personal and professional joys and successes.  There were times when I would have preferred fewer intimate details (e.g. the description of her 1981 onstage panic attack in Pittsburgh), but overall I came away admiring Simon’s honesty and perseverance.  As a baby boomer who closely followed the music of Carly Simon and James Taylor at the height of their popularity, I would have liked more behind the scenes accounts of that musical era.  Although that was not the primary focus of Simon’s book, I did enjoy the musical anecdotes that were included.  And I look forward to reading the sequel.  

Readalikes: Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller; Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines: The Life and Music of James Taylor by Mark Ribowsky

Or look this book up on NoveList!