Book Review – Welcome to Night Vale

Book: Welcome to Night Vale – Author: Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Supernatural-ish

Description from Goodreads:

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “King City” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “King City”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.

My Review:

The Podcast – Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor have built something so completely unique with this podcast that it’s very difficult for me to describe. The cast of characters is extremely diverse: from our favorite radio host, Cecil Palmer, to the real 5-headed dragon, Hiram McDaniels, this is a crazy wonderful cast. The plots of the show are all based loosely (and not so loosely) on real conspiracy theories and contain everything from a giant glow cloud that drops dead animals (ALL HAIL) to a mysterious desert other-world to an overreaching corporation run by a smiling god. See? Very hard to explain. The best I can do is share my all-time favorite review of the podcast: “It’s like Steven King & Neil Gaiman got together to build a Sim City and just left it running for a few years”. Seriously awesome. 🙂

The Book – This book was just as wonderful as the podcast. It gave us an in-depth look at several “side characters” from the show and tied up a few plot lines. It also contained a full storyline of its own, though with several call backs that pointed out some rather clever foreshadowing they had done in the podcast.

I especially liked the Library sequence, since I’ve always been curious as to what those exactly those horrible Librarian monsters are and what a Library in Night Vale actually looks like. Turns out it looks like any other library…filled with horrific monsters that want to kill you, making any attempt to use the Library like running a gauntlet where you have to remain completely silent and hope your weaponry holds out. You know, just the usual. 😉

The King City mystery was really interesting and finally took us outside of our small town for a glimpse of what else this world holds. The authors described the town so well, that it felt like I was actually walking down the streets, looking at the abandoned shops myself. The plot line with the Man in the Tan Jacket finally cleared up the story behind this mysterious character who has been wandering around Night Vale for quite some time. Wow, I was not expecting that!

And the thing with the pink flamingos was great. I just love all the completely off the wall things these the guys come up with!

No review is complete without giving props to the Voice of Night Vale, Cecil Baldwin. I was lucky enough to purchase the audio version of this book, so I got to spend several hours basking in his melodious tones. (Really, he has a GREAT voice.) He didn’t do super well at trying to sound like the female main characters, but his voice is so naturally deep, that I’ve forgiven him for it. 😉 The rest of the book was very well done; he just makes the reading sound so natural, like he’s having a conversation with you. I’m very glad I got the audio version, reading it on paper just isn’t the same experience.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an interesting, touching, completely crazy adventure. You don’t necessarily have to have listened to the podcast to understand what’s going on, but it would definitely help. There are some small details that you won’t pick up on if you haven’t done your homework. 😉 You can find out how to listen to the show here: http://www.welcometonightvale.com/listen

Similar Book(s):

Can I just list all the WtNV books here? Lol!

Mostly Void, Partially Stars – WtNV Episodes, Year 1
The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe – WtNV Episodes, Year 2

And the new book, It Devours, is now available for pre-order!

T5W – Give Me More!

Hi all! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Authors You Want to Read More From.

Here’s my list of authors who I desperately need to read more of, regardless of whether I’ve only read one book or several.

Laini Taylor – Well, if you’ve been reading my blog the last couple of weeks, then you know I have a new obsession, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. This book was just completely wonderful; the characters were all very complex, the plot was extremely interesting, the world building was superb, and the writing in general was just beautiful. I definitely need to give her other books a try!

Neil Gaiman – Always a winner, Neil Gaiman has an amazing talent for world & character building. He manages to make even the most unbelievable stories seem completely believable. I’ve only read a handful of his novels so far; thankfully, though, he’s fairly prolific in the book department, so I can continue reading his work for a long time.

Francis Hardinge – Last year I read my first novel by this author, Cuckoo Song, and it completely amazed me. I decided then and there that I had to get my hands on more of her novels. Thankfully, my tiny library has several of her books, so I was able to snag The Lie Tree as well. I can’t wait to try out more!

Fredrik Backman – I have currently only read one book by this author, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. It was just fantastic! Apparently a lot of his books contain at least vague references to characters from his other novels, and I loved the characters in this book so much that I’m ecstatic about not having to let them go. I think I’ll read Britt-Marie Was Here next!

Fannie FlaggFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is one of my all-time favorite novels (and movies). I can’t believe I’ve never read any of her other work! I recently found A Redbird Christmas at a rummage sale and received the audio version of The Whole Town’s Talking from a Goodreads’ giveaway, so hopefully I can get more read soon.

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How about you? What authors would you recommend I try?

 

Netflix Book Tag

While scrolling through my Reader list on WordPress, I stumbled across this fun little book tag (sources at the bottom). Turns out that it’s quite the fad on Youtube!

Recently Watched
The last book you finished reading 

The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates – This was a good little suspense/horror novel. Not TOO scary, but still kept me on my toes. The author included a short story he had written, which inspired this novel.

Top Pick
A book that has been recommended to you based on books you’ve previously read

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – People keep telling me that I will like this series. Apparently it’s ‘right up my alley’. I’m sure I’ll start it eventually.

Recently Added
The last book you bought 

Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer – I made myself give up buying books for Lent this year, so I bought one final present right before it started. The story sounds cute, Colfer is a good writer, and honestly, it had the word Fanfiction in the title, so I was intrigued. 😉

Popular on Netflix
Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading)

Read: Paper Towns by John Green – I really enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were all pretty interesting and the plot was fun. More light-hearted than The Fault in Our Stars, but still introspective.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I’m reading this one right now and it’s pretty good so far! I like all the characters (at this point anyway) and I’m really curious to see if they will accomplish their mission.

Not Reading: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – I love Neil Gaiman AND mythology, but I’m so far into the Myths & Legends podcast (highly recommend!) that I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all the myths that will be covered in this book. I may still read it eventually, but I’m not falling over myself to get it right now.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp – I was in high school during Columbine and I just can’t bring myself to read this book. Even seeing it brings up memories of being terrified, walking down the halls looking for hiding places, praying it wouldn’t happen at my school…I just can’t.

Comedies
A funny book: 

The Martian by Andy Weir – It’s pretty impressive that a true sci-fi book, with all the technobabble involved in that genre, can still make me laugh as much as this book did. I binged this one in 6 hours and a lot of my sticking with it had to do with the humor.

Dramas
A character who is a drama queen/king.

Can I say Harry Potter here? Will people stop speaking to me? – Order of the Phoenix especially. He’s a total butthead in that one! Granted, he’s a 15 year old boy, but really; I almost gave up on the series at that point. JK’s writing skills were the only thing that kept me going.

Animated
A book with cartoons on the cover

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh – This is one of my all time favorite books. If you are having a bad day and need a bit of cheering up, you should definitely try this one. 🙂

Watch It Again
A book/book series that you want to re-read

The Tapestry series by Henry H. Neff – I’ve been trying to purge my shelves a bit, donating to the local library and mission, and I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of these books. I really should re-read them to jog my memory of why I liked them so much!

Documentaries
A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day – Considering that it’s likely you are a nerd to some degree if you are reading my blog, I’d definitely recommend this memoir to everyone, even if you have never heard of Felicia Day (though you should really look her up if you haven’t heard of her; she’s totally awesome!)

Action and Adventure
An action packed book

Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge – This book was amazing. Well written, action-packed, suspenseful, full of interesting characters & mythology…plus you were never quite sure if the main characters were going to make it!

New Releases
A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I was shocked that my library already had this one, since it came out like a month ago, so I grabbed it immediately. All the 5-star reviews were right; this book is AMAZING! I’m completely distraught that it just came out and I have no idea when the next one will be published. 😦

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Sources: I snagged this book tag from The Paperback Pilgrim and the photo from A Book Lovers Playlist.

Book Review – Strange the Dreamer

Book: Strange the Dreamer – Author: Laini Taylor

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Supernatural-ish

Description from Goodreads:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

My Review:

There are few things more frustrating than the words “To Be Continued” at the end of an amazing book. Especially when you didn’t know it was a series. And the book just came out 3 weeks ago. AAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…YOU ALL NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

The world the author has created is amazingly detailed. Full of history and culture and so well described that even the most mythical of creatures seem realistic. This is a world that feels like it COULD exist, even as you are reading about flowers that can fly and castles that float. These are people you could know, even as they scream moths and fight ghosts.

The characters are completely genuine. I felt a kinship with the title character, Lazlo Strange. Seen as a bit of an odd duck, even around his fellow Librarians, Lazlo’s kind nature, sense of humor, and yes, love of books, endeared him to me. I also felt a strong affinity for Sarai, the other main character, who’s empathy allows her to understand both sides of the conflict and is understandably torn about choosing one or the other. In fact, all of the characters were written very complexly, allowing the reader to see bits of themselves in almost all of them.

I don’t want to go too much into the plot, because I definitely don’t want to spoil things for you. All I will say: You know that rare moment, when you are so completely caught up in a book that you realize you are physically leaning into it, as if that will somehow make the action happen faster, because you just HAVE to know what’s going to happen? I was like that for the entire last quarter of the book. The ‘To Be Continued’ is both a blessing and a curse, because I’m ecstatic that my time in Weep isn’t over, but I have no idea how long it will be until I can see it again.

This is my first foray into Laini Taylor novels and, if this one is any indication, I may have a new favorite author to add to my list. It’s not often that I finish a book and immediately rush onto my computer so I can post a review. This book, with it’s beautifully described world, amazing characters, and gripping plot, will stay with me for a very long time.

Similar Book(s):

American Gods – Neal Gaiman (More for the type of book than the plot.)

T5W – Gaming Books

Hi all! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Books that would make good video games! I’m going to cheat a bit here and do 5 gaming categories rather than just 5 books…I couldn’t narrow it down, there’s so many good ones!

Fighting Games

10137823The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson)
In this game, you fight with your drawing power! The book focuses on warriors who fight each other by drawing intricate chalk figures, which sounds kind of lame on the surface, but when you get into the tactics & strategies needed to bring down your opponent, it could be a really cool game.

Weird West Tales series (Mike Resnick)
What could be more fun than a game set in the Old West, where8253037 you can pick to be real ‘heroes’ but with crazy powers. Fight as Doc Holliday with a lightning gun, make alliances with other gunslingers like Wyatt Earp, protect notable figures like Teddy Roosevelt, and fight magic-wielding Shamans like Geronimo.

Zombie Games

15096164.jpgWayward Pines series (Blake Crouch)
One day, you get into a car accident and wake up in a perfect little town. The only problem…nothing is what it seems. This series would make an awesome mystery/zombie game. You have to find out exactly what happened to you, where you are, what’s up with this weird town, and what are those creatures outside the fence? Keep yourself and as many innocent townspeople alive as you can, while fighting off creatures and crazy doctors alike!

The End Games (T. Michael Martin)
Set in rural West Virginia (USA), you would have to travel difficult13228537 terrain and protect yourself (and your little brother) from the wilds of nature…and zombies…and other survivors. Finding your family won’t be easy, especially when the ‘safe havens’ turn out not to be so safe. On the plus side, if you survive long enough, you might be able to steal a hot air balloon. 😉

Survival Games

18007564The Martian (Andy Weir)
Trying to survive on Mars? Hella difficult. In this game you need to find water, grow food, and keep yourself from going crazy all while trapped inside a temporary shelter ON MARS. All the odds are against your survival. Can you keep yourself alive long enough for rescue?

Bedlam Stories series (Christine King)
As an investigative reporter, Bedlam seems an ideal story on which to25864970 make your name. Unfortunately, this asylum is filled with evil doctors, hidden secrets, and two enraged little girls who can bring to life the creatures from their hallucinations. Can you survive the crazed staff and the warped versions of creatures from the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland long enough to figure out the mystery?

Quest Games

21416690The Invisible Library (Genevieve Cogman)
You work for the largest library in all the worlds. Your job is to go into alternate universes and save their greatest literary treasures for posterity. Not all worlds are benign. Magic and evil await you on your journey. Go undercover, find the books, and get back to the library alive. (I REALLY want this video game!!!)

NPCs (Drew Hayes)
In a role-playing game turned on it’s head, you play as the NPCs. 22088245Four heroes suddenly die in the local pub. In order to save their town, four locals have to take their place and journey into the depths of a ferocious world. Play on your own or with your friends! Stop the evil king, save the world, and become the hero.

Kids Games

953260The Kingdom Keepers series (Ridley Pearson)
Kids would love fighting alongside their favorite Disney heroes in order to protect the world from their favorite Disney villains! Find the clues and solve the riddles in order to stop Maleficent and her crew from taking over the Magic Kingdom!

The Land of Stories series (Chris Colfer)
You magically find yourself falling into your Grandmother’s 11607446favorite book of fairytales. In order to get home, you need to find the most well-known items from your favorite stories: Cinderella’s glass slipper, a lock of Rapunzel’s fair, Snow White’s apple, and more.

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What books would you love to see turned into video games? 🙂

T5W – SFF To-Reads

I admit it, I am late again. This time, I honestly just forgot to post! Oops! But here it is, the next installment of Top 5 Wednesday!

This week’s topic: SFF books that you can’t wait to read!

While perusing my “TBR” list on Goodreads, I noticed a peculiar trend. Though I was well known in my younger years for being a sci-fi geek, there is an alarmingly small number of sci-fi books in my TBR pile! So this list will mostly be fantasy related…though I definitely intend to head over to the sci-fi genre list on GR to pick out some new tales! 😉

Abarat (Clive Barker)

768878Goodreads DescriptionCandy lives in Chickentown USA: the most boring place in the world, her heart bursting for some clue as to what her future may hold. She is soon to find out: swept out of our world by a giant wave, she finds herself in another place entirely…The Abarat: a vast archipelago where every island is a different hour of the day, from the sunlit wonders of Three in the Afternoon, where dragons roam, to the dark terrors of the island of Midnight, ruled by Christopher Carrion. Candy has a place in this extraordinary world: she has been brought here to help save the Abarat from the dark forces that are stirring at its heart. Forces older than time itself, and more evil than anything Candy has ever encountered.

Why I want to read it: This book was based on a series of paintings (as shown on the cover) that Clive Barker made himself. I really like the idea of a place where each island represents a different hour…though I will admit it sounds a tiny bit like a rip off of Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. 😉 I really like stories that can incorporate multiple worlds. It’s like peeking into the brain of the writer and seeing all of their different ideas at once.

Steelheart (Brandon Sanderson)

20342545Goodreads DescriptionDavid wants Steelheart — one of the Epics said to be invincible, who killed David’s father. For ten years, David has studied and planned for revenge. He wants to join the Reckoners. These rebels assassinate the Epics, super-powered tyrants. He has seen Steelheart bleed.

Why I want to read it: Brandon Sanderson is an amazing writer. I read The Rithmatist a couple years ago, fell in love with his style of writing, and immediately grabbed a copy of this book…and then I put it on a shelf and forgot about it. (Oops.) But I’ve added it into my reading challenge this year! And who doesn’t love a good revenge story, eh?

The Spaceship Next Door (Gene Doucette)

27809678Goodreads DescriptionWhen a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts, everyone realized humankind was not alone in the universe. The residents of Sorrow Falls took the news pretty well. This could have been due to a certain local quality of unflappability, or it could have been that in three years, the ship did exactly nothing other than sit quietly in that field, and nobody understood the full extent of this nothing the ship was doing better than the people who lived right next door.

Sixteen-year old Annie Collins is one of the ship’s closest neighbors. Once upon a time she took every last theory about the ship seriously, whether it was advanced by an adult ,or by a peer. Surely one of the theories would be proven true eventually—if not several of them—the very minute the ship decided to do something. Annie is starting to think this will never happen.

One late August morning, a little over three years since the ship landed, Edgar Somerville arrived in town. Ed’s a government operative posing as a journalist, which is obvious to Annie—and pretty much everyone else he meets—almost immediately. He has a lot of questions that need answers, because he thinks everyone is wrong: the ship is doing something, and he needs Annie’s help to figure out what that is. As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.

Why I want to read it: Well, that’s a long description. I actually DID condense it a bit, but that’s about as smooshed as I could get it without dropping plotline. 😉 Anyway…doesn’t this one sound good?!? The idea that something so strange and life altering can become so passé that no one even thinks twice about it anymore is an interesting one. Of course, it looks like that will end up NOT being the case, but it’s what first drew me to the book. Now I just want to know what happens. 😉

Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)

2744Goodreads DescriptionFat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider’s on his doorstep — about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting… and a lot more dangerous.

Why I want to read it: I LOVED American Gods. As a mythology nut, it is one of my most favorite books. It managed to squeeze all the gods I know about (and a few I didn’t know…and a few the author invented…) into a single, action packed book. Neil Gaiman is a superb writer; he managed to human-ize (is that the right term when talking about Gods?) every character and made you actually concerned for their fates. When I found out there was a sequel, I HAD to pick it up. I hope I love it just as much as the original!

Death Watch (Ari Berk)

10637834Goodreads DescriptionOne night, Silas Umber’s father Amos doesn’t come home from work. Devastated, Silas learns that his father was no mere mortician but an Undertaker, charged with bringing The Peace to the dead trapped in the Shadowlands, the states of limbo binding spirits to earth. With Amos gone, Silas and his mother have no choice but to return to Lichport, the crumbling seaside town where Silas was born, and move in with Amos’s brother, Charles.

Even as Silas eagerly explores his father’s town and its many abandoned streets and overgrown cemeteries, he grows increasingly wary of his uncle. There is something not quite right going on in Charles Umber’s ornate, museum-like house—something, Silas is sure, that is connected to his father’s disappearance. When Silas’s search leads him to his father’s old office, he comes across a powerful artifact: the Death Watch, a four hundred year old Hadean clock that allows the owner to see the dead.

Death Watch in hand, Silas begins to unearth Lichport’s secret history—and discovers that he has taken on his father’s mantle as Lichport’s Undertaker. Now, Silas must embark on a dangerous path into the Shadowlands to embrace his destiny and discover the truth about his father—no matter the cost.

Why I want to read it: Sometimes book descriptions intrigue me for no apparent reason. This is one of those descriptions. I know, I know, it sounds identical to a ton of books out there: “Kid loses his parent, gains a weird power, finds out he has to save the world and avenge his father at the same time”; this isn’t even the first book in THIS LIST that has those elements. But there’s just something about this one that makes me want to read it. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the Death Watch. I want to know what that is!!!

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Well, I hope I gave you a few SFF books you hadn’t heard of that peak your interest!

So how about you? What SFF books are on your plate?