Review: Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries

Killing Ruby Rose (Ruby Rose #1)

If I’d stopped after three chapters Killing Ruby Rose might have been one of the better guilty pleasure books I’d read in a long time. For those first few chapters Jessie Humphries channels Veronica Mars at its best — with a smart, drive heroine who isn’t intimidated and refuses to back down from a challenge.

In this case, the challenge is solving the murder of her father by investigating five potential subjects, all of whom could have a connection to the case. But it’s here that the issues that ultimately dropped this novel down a lot in my estimation began to rear their ugly head.

I’m all about willing suspension of disbelief (my favorite TV show of all time features a character who can change bodies and travels through space and time in a blue box that is bigger on the inside) but sometimes it has to be earned. And it’s unfortunately not earned in Killing Ruby Rose. Even though her father was a police officer and her mother is DA, I find it hard to believe that Ruby would be able to have the amount of access to the files she does or that she could cover her tracks on having them as effectively as she does. And while I’m not female and have never worn high heels, a bit of Googling makes it hard to believe that any sane person would chose to do a bit of undercover investigation in the shoes that Ruby describes in the book. (Honestly, I can’t see Veronica Mars in high heels like this — at least while out on an investigation!).
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Top Ten Tuesday — Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

toptentuesday2

It’s Tuesday and time again for the Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s subject is your top ten books from 2014.

I’m going to go ahead and post my list, but I reserve the right to revise it in a few days if some of the things on my to-be-read pile jump up and demand inclusion.

If I’ve published a review of the selection, I’ll link to it.

1.  The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep And Never Had To by D.C. Pierson
2.  Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
3.  The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters
4.  Natchez Burning by Greg Iles
5.  Revival by Stephen King
6.  Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell
7.  Lock In by John Scalzi
8. Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick
9. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
10.  Breathe, Annie Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

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Review: Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Tunnel in the Sky

For years, a good friend has been recommending Robert A. Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky to me and for years it’s sat on my to-be-read shelf, silently accusing me of neglect. One excuse I’d used was I was part of a sci-fi/fantasy book group that read a novel by Heinlein to start the year and I figured we’d eventually get around to Tunnel.

But the book group became extinct and the book just kept sitting there, expectantly. So, I finally dusted it off and cracked the cover.

If you follow my reviews, you know that I’m not a huge fan of Heinlein. I know he’s an influential writer in the science-fiction genre, but I find that I enjoy less of his output than most people do. Part of it could be that my first entry into the universe of Heinlein was some of his later works, which I’ve come to understand aren’t the best entry points or examples of what makes him so well regarded.

I will also say that I find his “juvenile” novels to be far more entertaining and readable than some of his novels intended for more “mature” readers. And that’s the case with Tunnel in the Sky.

With Earth exploring the universe by a series of gates, young Rod Walker wants nothing more than to leave Earth behind and explore a new horizon. Signing up for a survival course, Rod and his classmates’ final assignment is to take a trip through the gate to an unexplored, unknown world and survive for up to a week. Encouraged by his older sister (who is a member of the military and took the course during his school years), Rod sets out on the assignment, but soon finds something has gone wrong. Cut off from Earth and hopes of returning home, Rod and his classmates set out to not only survive but also to create a society for themselves.
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Review: Doctor Who: Lights Out by Holly Black

Lights Out

For the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, Puffin gave readers a series of novellas by popular young adult authors, each one focusing on a different incarnation of our favorite Time Lord. With the dawn of the Peter Capaldi era, Puffin has given fans a complete set of Doctors with Holly Black’s “Lights Out” story.

And yet as I read the novella, I couldn’t help but feel this was less a Doctor Who story than one that Holly Black might tell with the Doctor inserted into it.

In many ways, this story reminded me of stories from the (then) annual Strange New Worlds collection that were written by fans about just one installment of Enterprise aired. Black’s story feels like it was written right after “Deep Breath” aired with multiple references to the Capaldi Doctor’s eye brows and his over more gruff demeanor. He comes across our first-person narrator on a future world where coffee is scarce and the two meet while waiting in line for some.

As a set-up, it’s decent enough, but even as a novella it feels like the Doctor’s involvement is tangential at best. Even given the more “at arm’s length” approach to the companions that Capaldi’s Doctor has taken, it still didn’t quite feel right here.

The second half features a few attempted twists and turns that I’m not sure work as well as they could or should.

All in all, I came away from this entry feeling a bit disappointed. I wonder if I’d read it closer to the time that Black wrote it and instead of having a dozen episodes to get to know this new Doctor if my feelings might have been different. As it stands, I have to call this one of the lesser entries in Puffin’s offerings.

I received a digital ARC of this novella from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Flash: “The Man in the Yellow Suit”

yellowsuitI don’t know what Arrow or Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD have up their sleeve, but it’s going to be VERY hard for them to top The Flash‘s mid-season finale.

“The Man in the Yellow Suit” hit just about every button of what has made The Flash my favorite new show of the season.  And I couldn’t help but thinking as I watched the hour unfold that whoever is in charge of the DC movie empire might want to call up the writers from The Flash for some pointers on how to do a DC superhero movie right.    Quite frankly, this single hour of The Flash was far more entertaining and compelling that the last couple of DC related superhero movies I’ve seen (really much of anything outside the Nolan-verse Batman films) — especially Green Lantern and Man of Steel.   I’ll also have to admit it makes me less enthusiastic to see the big-screen version of The Flash simply because I’m loving what this show is doing with the character and universe here.

Call me a fan-boy if you want, but I love this show.

And “The Man in the Yellow Suit” delivered on just about every level, answering just enough questions while raising a few more.    Continue reading

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Review: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever

Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever

Considered by many to be the finest hour the original Star Trek ever produced, the televised version of “City of the Edge of Forever” is very different from the initial storyline submitted by Harlan Ellison. Ellison has been famously unhappy ever since his story was re-written by various Trek staff members including Gene Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon and Dorothy Fontana, even going so far as to publish the original script and various drafts a decade ago, along with a long rant about how terrible Gene Roddenberry was.

As a long time fan of Star Trek, I read the book though I’ll have to admit that I find reading a television script a bit dry. Years later, IDW got Ellison’s blessing to adapt the original script as a comic book and give fans a taste of what the story might have looked like visually had it gone before the cameras as Ellison intended back in 1967.

The result is the five-part mini-series collected in this volume.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t find a lot in Ellison’s original draft that is any better or more nuanced than the final version of “City on the Edge of Forever.” In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say that the televised version is a better episode of Star Trek than what we see either in the script book or in this comic book adaptation.
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Top Ten Tuesday — 2014 New (To Me) Authors

toptentuesday2

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for the Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s focus is my top ten new (to me) authors I read during 2014.

1.  D.C. Pierson‘s The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To wasn’t published in 2014, but I finally got it off my to be read shelf early in the year and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

2.  Ben H. Winters The Last Policeman was chosen for my local community read earlier this year.  And while I never quite made it to any of the discussions of the book, I still read the entire trilogy during 2014.   Set in a future Earth facing imminent collision with an asteroid, the series examines how society would crumble in the wake of a such news and how various people would react to it.   Our hero is a police detective, promoted only because so many others have abandoned their jobs, who keeps trying to close cases, even if there’s no way to really convict the culprit or even if the sentence for said culprit would be a life sentence.   The entire trilogy is superbly done and as the asteroid gets closer to Earth, it’s fascinating how society continues to break down and the various scarcities that develop.

EmilyStJohnMandel1SMALL3.  Emily St. John Mandel‘s Station Eleven is making a lot of year-end best book lists — and for good reason.   It’s a book about the end of the world that is far less bleak than The Road, but equally as compelling.    But Eleven wasn’t the only Mandel book I read this year.  I also read and enjoyed The Lola Quartet.   Both are worth every heap of praise that you’ve probably already heard.  Consider this just one more recommendation for both.

4.  William Campbell Powell.  If I had a vote for the Hugo Award for 2015, I’d give it to Expiration Day.    In the near future, the ability to have children has been dramatically reduced, leading to couples adopting robotic children.  Each year, the family goes on a “vacation” where the child body is upgraded until such time as the children get too old and they’re retired.   Our hero is one of the adopted children who realizes that she’s not human and has to struggle with the implications that her life is coming to a close and what, if anything, she can do about it.   This one may be shelved in the young adult section of your library or book store, but it’s worth finding.

5.  Miranda Kenneally’s Breathe, Annie, Breathe was outside my usual reading comfort zone, but I’m glad  I found it and read it.   Annie’s struggling with issues related to the death of her boyfriend and so to honor his memory, she vows to run and finish the Country Music Marathon.    But Annie faces more than just the physical toll of trying to get in shape for the epic run.  She faces the guilt over her memories and the guilt over her new feelings for a fellow runner and adrenaline junkie.    Kenneally brings Annie’s dilemma to life in a believable way and one that doesn’t become cliched.    And I’ll admit part of the fun was seeing familiar locations from the Music City area referenced in the book.

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