Sleeping Giants Review

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelSleeping Giants
by Sylvain Neuvel (April 2016)

Rose is riding her new bike in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings, in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the bizarre artifact remains a mystery-its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected. But some can never stop searching for answers.

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Enjoyable
3 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

Whether you love Sleeping Giants or not will come down to how much you enjoy your science fiction filtered through interviews and written artifacts. The interview format makes for a lightning-fast read. The narrative skips from highlight to highlight, allowing a lot of story time to pass quickly. As parts of an alien robot are discovered, assembled and studied, the interviews are used as a Cliff Notes overview of significant events. The style leaves out tedious details and keeps the action moving without too much exposition.

The interview format also creates an emotional distance that keeps Sleeping Giants from being engaging. Every suspenseful moment is diluted by after-the-fact descriptions. Emotions are described (in analytic detail), not experienced. Heard only through their answers, which are often evasive or angry, characters are unsympathetic. The interviews cover complicated relationships between the investigative team, causing some sections to feel like melodramatic accounts of inter-office drama.

Sleeping Giants‘ interview format is both its strength and its weakness, and is likely to provoke polarizing extremes in its readers.

I received an advance copy of Sleeping Giants from the publisher for review.

Recommended for:
* Experimental format: through interviews
* Intriguing alien artifacts
* Interpersonal drama among science and military personnel

If you like Sleeping Giants, check out these book recommendations!

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Ten Recent Five Star Reads

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Five Star Reads

Ten Most Recent Five Star Reads:

1. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) | Pierce Brown
2. Hawkeye Vol. 4: Rio Bravo | Matt Fraction
3. The Girl With Ghost Eyes | M.H. Boroson (My review)
4. A Silent Voice (#1) | Yoshitoki Ooima (My review)
5. Station Eleven | Emily St. John Mandel
6. I Kill Giants | Joe Kelly
7. Hounded (Iron Druid #1) | Kevin Hearne
8. Gotham Central Vol. 2: Jokers and Madmen | Ed Brubaker
9. Rat Queens Vol. 2 | Kurtis J. Wiebe
10. Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) | James S.A. Corey (My review)

What a five star read means for me:
* I will recommend it often, and not just within a reader’s comfort zone.
* Weaknesses are nitpicks rather than major flaws.
* Something in the writing stands out above average, whether characterization, plotting, prose, or a challenging structure.
* For graphic novels, it must achieve that level of quality in both story AND technique.
* My ratings can change over time as I read wider in a subgenre, my technical understanding progresses, or the emotional reaction fades.

What does a five star rating mean for you?

My stats:
To get my 10 most recent five star reads, I went back 59 reads, through mid July 2015. I awarded five stars 17% of the time, and my highest ratings were split equally between books and graphic novels.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is 10 most recent five star reads.

Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
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Shadow Hero Review

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny LiewThe Shadow Hero (2014)
by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew

The Shadow Hero is based on golden-age comic The Green Turtle, whose hero solved crimes and fought injustice. But this masked crusader was hiding more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity…The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.

Seventy years later, Gene Luen Yang revives this nearly forgotten, pioneering character and creates an origin story for the golden-age Green Turtle.

Pin for laterAdd The Shadow Hero to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Graphic Novel Review

Shadow Hero is a fun superhero story with great family dynamics and a lot of humor. Hank’s mom is a powerful force, and her prodding to make Hank a superhero keeps the story moving at a fast clip. Their interactions will make you laugh, as will the quiet reactions of Hank and his dad in the background.

Shadow Hero reclaims a little known figure from golden age comics and brings his story into the limelight. Yang and Liew bring us the origin story of the first Asian American superhero. The comic works in details from immigrant life at the time, and Hing’s artwork provides a vivid vintage feel. It’s a fascinating look into the history of comics, containing an excerpt from the original Green Turtle comics and research notes. We need more kinds of stories in the comic world, and Shadow Hero is a welcome addition.

Recommended for:
Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang* Light, funny superhero story
* Charming family relationships
* Cultural reclaiming of golden age comics

Add The Shadow Hero to Goodreads or see more reviews

Read for the 2015 Eisner challenge
2015 Eisner Nominee: Best Publication for Teens

Silver on the Road Review

Silver on the Road by Laura Anne GilmanSilver on the Road
Book 1 of The Devil’s West
by Laura Anne Gilman (2015)

On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel chooses to work for the devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. He’s a being with immense but limited power, who deals fairly with people looking for a deal, and who makes sure they get what they deserve. His wild west needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in.

Trained to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy sets out to learn the ways of the territory. She will find herself, and what it means to be the devil’s hand, on the endless road.

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

Silver on the Road delivers an original fantasy in the endless plains and arid foothills of the Old West. If you like a western setting, you’ll love. Landscapes are perfectly rendered and beautifully described. The grammar and prose is just rural enough to feel natural, without ever leaving you to decipher chicken scratch dialogue. You’ll get a feel for life on the road, from the sway in the saddle to the daily rituals of camp and campfire.

Book Quote: Silver on the Road, Laura Anne GilmanBut it’s not just the stunning setting that makes Silver on the Road a worthy read. Izzy, the devil’s hand, and Gabriel, an experienced rider who shows her the ropes, are nuanced characters to travel with. Their friendship evolves slowly, through shared silences and long miles. It’s a joy to see characters brought to life without the need for much dialogue, as they learn to read each other’s actions through experience.

The fantasy element is subtle, almost magical realism. It’s embedded in the land, in the traditions of unclaimed territory and the road that leads across it. For much of the story, it’s possible to not take much notice of the magical forces that shape events. But as Izzy and Gabriel track down a strange darkness come to the territory, they face forces more comfortably in the realm of heroic fantasy. It’s a slow-paced read, but richly rewarding for its realistic characters and rich settings.

Recommended for:
* Old West historical setting
* Vivid descriptions and subtle magic
* Believable characters that bond through shared experiences

If you like Silver on the Road, check out these book recommendations!

Ten Tales of Science Fiction Noir

Ten Tales of Science Fiction Noir

Science fiction and noir have been classic companions since Asimov and Phillip K. Dick, and the combo is still going strong. (Think Blade Runner.) If you’re in the mood for sharp shadows and dark secrets, tag along with a sci fi detective for a tale of mystery and intrigue.

Ten Tales of Science Fiction Noir:

1. Shovel Ready | Adam Sternbergh
2. The City and the City | China Mieville
3. Altered Carbon | Richard K. Morgan
4. The Disappeared | Kristine Kathryn Rusch
5. Caves of Steel | Isaac Asimov
6. Leviathan Wakes | James S.A. Corey
7. Gun, With Occasional Music | Jonathan Lethem
8. The Demolished Man | Alfred Bester
9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Philip K. Dick
10. The Prefect | Alistair Reynolds

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is If you’re in the Mood For.

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Ten Horror Stories to Creep You Out

Ten Horror Stories to Creep You Out

Here at Come Hither Books, I cover mostly science fiction and fantasy. But recently more horror has been sneaking onto my to read list. So here are Ten Horror Stories I’ve enjoyed in the last few years. Take a peek into the shadows with me.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. CoreyLeviathan Wakes, James S.A. Corey
My review
Series: Expanse #1
Teaser: Leviathan Wakes starts out science fiction noir in a world of teeming spaceports and isolated outposts, then takes a turn into Lovecraftian horror as the plot races forward. Great cross-genre read.

Revival by Tim SeeleyRevival, by Tim Seeley
My review
Series: Ongoing graphic novel series
Teaser: The dead come back to life in rural Wisconsin. But they aren’t your standard zombies. The dead keep their memories and personalities. How do you make room for those you’ve already mourned? How do you move on if you’re stuck forever?

Wild Fell by Michael RoweWild Fell, Michael Rowe
My review
Series: Standalone
Teaser: For a hundred years, the townspeople of Alvina have prayed the darkness inside Wild Fell would stay locked away. Jameson Browning purchased Wild Fell to start a new life. But what lurks in the house is devoted to its darkness and guards it jealously. It’s been waiting for him.

Tokyo Ghoul by Sui IshidaTokyo Ghoul, Sui Ishida
My review
Series: Ongoing Manga Series
Teaser: Ken Kaneki is thrilled to go on a date with Rize. But she’s only interested in his body—eating it, that is. When a morally questionable rescue transforms him into the first half-human half-Ghoul hybrid, Ken is drawn into the dark and violent world of Ghouls.

Bones and All by Camille DeAngelisBones and All, Camille DeAngelis
My review
Series: Standalone
Teaser: Coming of age with cannibals. Maren is on her own at sixteen, with a horrifying habit and nowhere to turn. She sets off to discover the truth about herself and finds a makeshift family of her own. Accepting who you are is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you’re a monster.

Through the Woods by Emily CarrollThrough the Woods, Emily Carroll
My review
Series: Standalone, Graphic Novel Collection
Teaser: This collection of creepy illustrated stories for young readers shouldn’t be the scariest thing on this list. But it is. Through the Woods will remind you of the things that crept into your dreams after bedtime.

Dead Set by Richard KadreyDead Set, Richard Kadrey
My review
Series: Standalone
Teaser: After her father’s funeral, Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But Zoe’s grief leads down a dark path. In an overlooked record shop, her father’s life is stored on a record and she can listen. For a price. First, a lock of hair. Then, a tooth…

Madman's Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Madman’s Daughter, Megan Shepherd
My review
Series: Madman’s Daughter Trilogy #1
Teaser: A retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau, with all the building horror and monstrous experiments you would expect, and the addition of a new narrator – Moreau’s sixteen year old daughter, Juliet.

Bunnicula by James HoweBunnicula, James Howe
My review
Series: Bunnicula #1
Teaser: Okay, fine. This series is more funny than scary, especially when reread as an adult. But there will always be room on my horror list for this kid’s classic. How can you not love the story of a sarcastic cat and loyal dog trying to defend themselves against a vampire bunny?

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare BlakeAnna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
No review, but it’s the book that started my current horror trend.
Series: Anna #1
Teaser: Cas is a hunter, trained to kill ghosts like his father before him. But he’s never faced a ghost like Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood has killed every person who steps foot in her house. Until Cas.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is books outside your comfort zone.

Drift and Dagger Review

Drift and Dagger by Kendall KulperDrift and Dagger
by Kendall Kulper (2015)

Mal used to have a home, a best friend, and a secret. He lost all three the day Essie Roe exposed him as a blank: someone unaffected by magic. Everyone hates and fears blanks—even Mal.

Now Mal travels the world in search of dangerous magical relics with his partner in crime, Boone. When they learn of a dagger that steals magic, Mal may have found a way to even the score.

Pin for laterAdd to Goodreads or see more reviewsMy result: Recommended
4 Stars - Recommended

Book Review

Let me get this out of the way first. Drift & Dagger is a companion book to Salt & Storm, which I’m not at all interested in (too much romance for me). But Drift is a heist novel in a fantasy setting, and you know how I am about those. Reviews say it can be read separately, and even advise reading Drift first, so I did. And yes, Drift stands alone just fine.

Drift & Dagger is set in nineteenth century New England, at the height of the whaling industry, and you can practically smell the salt in the air. The world is saturated with magic, for everyone but Mal. But what makes him an outcast also makes him a uniquely-skilled thief. His quest for an illusive artifact will take him around the world, delivering enough capers and narrow escapes for anyone else who might share my weakness for con men. (If you do, check out my list of Ten Heist Novels to Fall For.)

But it’s character which keeps the story grounded. If you like morally ambiguous heroes driven by painful pasts, Mal is your man. His childhood friendship with Roe, revealed in bittersweet memories, provides the context you need to understand Mal and the quest for revenge that drives him. Drift and Dagger is a fun, fast fantasy in a unique setting, and only a minimal amount of romance.

Recommended for:
* Fast-paced heists with magic
* Flawed, morally ambiguous heroes
* Unique historical setting

If you like Drift and Dagger, check out these book recommendations!

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Ten Fantasy Books for Music Lovers

Top Ten Musical Fantasies

Music soothes the soul and draws us to dance. The beat works its magic; toes start tapping and heads bop along. With such an elemental effect, it’s no surprise that music has inspired many fantasy authors.

Here are ten books which capture the magic of music on the page. Be warned: lyrical prose and rhythms that leak off the page may have you humming along or seeking out songs online.

Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
Series: Kingkiller Chronicles #1
Why: The son of traveling performers tells an epic tale of magic and adventure in the voice of a talented poet and natural musician. You’ll be spellbound.

Soul Magic by Terry PratchettSoul Music, Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #16
Why: If madcap comedy sounds to your tastes, try Soul Music. This zany tale of music with a mind of its own also works as a good entry point to the Discworld series.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffreyDragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
Series: Pern Series; Harper Hall #1
Why: For old school fantasy, try Dragonsong, where a young woman denied her music runs away to find her destiny, and ends up teaching wild dragons to sing.

Signal to Noise by Sylvia Moreno-GarciaSignal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Series: Standalone
Why: If urban fantasy is more your style, try this little-known gem. Signal to Noise tells a tale of musical magic in Mexico City. Read with the soundtrack, filled with classic jazz, rock and roll and 80’s pop, in both English and Spanish. Read my review.

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex BledsoeThe Hum and the Shiver, Alex Bledsoe
Series: Tufa #1
Story: In the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the truth of the Tufa people hides in the music they’ve passed down for generations. Bronwyn Hyatt will have to reconnect to those roots if she is to stop the restless darkness rising in the hills. (Read with bluegrass soundtrack.)

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. MyerLast Song Before Night, Ilana C. Myer
Series: Standalone
Why: Travel to a high fantasy world of bards and poets. This song-infused fantasy is told in flowing, lyrical prose that creates the feel of music on the page. This tale of poets off to restore enchantments to the land is the perfect read to bring your musical journey to a close. Read the review.

Seraphina by Rachel HartmanSeraphina, Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #1
Why: Seraphina is a gifted musician who joins the court just as a royal is murdered. The investigation threatens to reveal the secret of her musical gift, which could endanger everything.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackThe Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black
Series: Standalone
Why: Ben has the gift of fae music and plays bard to his sister’s knight. But fae magic is hard to control, and he swears off music after a horrible accident. To save the day, he’ll have to face his fears and reclaim his magic. Read the review.

The Naming by Alison CroggonThe Naming, Alison Croggon
Series: The Books of Pellinor #1
Why: Maerad is trapped in a hopeless life of slavery and war, until a bard selects her as his next student. But the two musicians have a long road ahead, filled with danger and dark forces.

The City of Dark Magic by Magnus FlyteCity of Dark Magic, Magnus Flyte
Series: City of Dark Magic #1
Why: This bizarre, raunchy cross-genre read features Beethoven, espionage, time travel, sex and humor all rolled up into one weird story. Read the review.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Music & Books.

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Watching Shannara Chronicles

What I’m Watching: The Shannara Chronicles
When: Season one, 7 episodes so far
Where: Television; MTV
Why I watched: Terry Brooks is a classic fantasy author I’ve never read.

My verdict for the show: Loving it

The Shannara Chronicles is an addictive, enjoyable trip into a classic fantasy world. With pretty young actors and lightning fast world-building, MTV’s presentation marries surprisingly well with fantasy. The story feels very YA, with young characters trying to find their place in the world and save it from destruction in the process. Sometimes the dialogue is too full of info-dumping, but it’s a tradeoff to keep the story moving at lightning speed. Strong acting and fast pacing make MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles an addictive experience.

The world of Shannara is a high fantasy world set in a dystopian future. Artifacts of the modern world linger on in gorgeous fantasy landscapes. Gnomes, trolls and dwarves are human offshoots, after the fall. It’s a fascinating genre mix that leaves me searching the screen for details and eager to read the series. Not everyone will appreciate the YA MTV treatment, but for me it’s making a missed classic feel fresh and exciting.

Sound off!

Are you watching? Interested?

What do you think? Whether you’re new to the world or a book fan, sound off in the comments! Please clearly mark any spoilers, including whether they’re show, book, or whole series spoilers!

Based On:

Elfstones of Shannara - Book Two of the Shannara Chronicles by Terry BrooksThe Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Series: #2 of The Original Shannara Trilogy
The Summary: A magical tree is dying, and its protection against demons dies with it. An Elven princess and a half-elf boy set out to save the tree and stop the demon army.
My progress: Never read the series, but I want to now.

For comparison, check out a book fan’s reaction to the show.