Review - Parasite by Mira Grant

Monday, January 13, 2014

 Parasite by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology #1
Publication Date: 
My Copy: library
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

Parasite was one very odd book. Weird with a capital W. I finished it with mixed feelings. This is the first book in a series, and it was largely focused on Sal Mitchell. She is a young woman who wakes up after being brain dead due to a car accident with no memory of who she is thanks to her SymboGen Intestinal Bodyguard. The Intestinal Bodyguard is a modified tapeworm designed to secrete drugs and boost your immune system. Things begin to get weird after people start falling to the sleeping sickness. They just stop walking and go slack jawed before coming back with empty eyes and increasingly violent behavior. As Sal gets pulled further into the conspiracy surrounding the SymboGen implants, she begins questioning everything she's been told.

The premise is very promising, tapeworms meant to help your health want to take over. I was hooked early in the book, but somewhere around the middle of the book, I started to get a little bored with it. Grant spent a lot of time building up anticipation for several anticlimactic revelations of something you already knew based on the book description or guessed by all of the hints and foreshadowing. There's some science babble for a few chapters, then it kind of gets interesting again near the last quarter or so of the novel. The big reveal at the end is again very anticlimactic. I feel like most people who read the book will already have caught on or at least had a suspicion about it. Sal was a little annoying through most of the book. She wanted to ask questions, but it seems like she doesn't really want the answers. She acts very much like a sheltered child who stomps her feet when she doesn't get her way. She is in some ways only 6 years old, but it's irritating as a reader to have moments when she seems very bright and moments when you just want to smack her for being so simple minded. She also has times when she acts like a child who needs to be handled gently and protected, and then she wants independence and to fight back.

Nathan is a strong support character for Sal, except for perhaps his tendency to coddle her. It will be interesting to see how his role develops in the next book. I don't want to give away too much, but Sal's dad, Dr. Banks, and another doctor introduced in the middle will make for some interesting antagonists in the next book. None are all good or all evil, but they each have their own agenda. I'm curious to see how that element might play out.

Overall, the book hit in the middle for me. Parts were fascinating and parts left me bored, but I am intrigued enough to read the next book when it comes out.

Favorite Quotes: 
"All scientists are mad scientists." {page 274}

"Certain lines can't be uncrossed,
Certain maps will get you lost,
Once you've past the border, then you'll have to play the game.
Roll the dice but count the cards,
Break the glass but keep the shards,
The world is out of order. It's been broken since you came.
The broken doors are hidden in the blood and in the bone.
My darling child, be careful now, and don't go out alone." {page 442}

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 4 stars
Pacing: 3 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Ending: 2 stars
Recommend: Maybe - if you're into invasion of the body snatchers or parasites

Read for these Challenges:
Outdo Yourself
Full House
Seriously Series
Alphabet Soup
Outside the Box

Review - Black Heart by Christina Henry

Friday, January 3, 2014

Black Heart by Christina Henry
Series: Black Wings #6
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: 29 October 2013
Genre: Mystery - Paranormal - Urban Fantasy
My Copy: bought

As a former Agent of Death, Madeline Black is no stranger to witnessing violent ends. But being the one to cause them is an entirely different story…

Despite her having saved Chicago from a vampire invasion, the Agency wants to get Maddy off their payroll—permanently. With the deadly Retrievers hot on her trail, she has no choice but to trust Nathaniel to port her to safety. But even the exotic and dangerous world that she winds up in is not as peaceful as she would have hoped. Caught in a turf war between a group of fae and a disturbingly familiar foe, Maddy soon discovers that the twisted plots of her grandfather, Lucifer, and his brothers extend even into this unknown realm.

Now, with enemies gathering on all sides, Maddy’s fate is looking darker than ever. And to protect her unborn son from her adversaries, she may have to tap into a power she hoped never to access…

*SPOILER WARNING: This is the 6th book in a series, so there may be spoilers from previous books.*

In the 6th book of the Black Wing series, we find Maddy on a new realm (or planet?). It's immediately apparent that she's learned quite a bit over last 5 books. She's more careful in her planning, although she admittedly still has a long way to go. She meets a new group of fae and a familiar group of creatures, but there's much more to both than there seems.

I LOVE this series, but unfortunately it's getting a little repetitive. I was looking forward to maybe more development in the love department for Maddy. Nothing really happened though. Most of the book is only Maddy. She gets sent to another realm, while all of her sidekicks stay back on Earth. I love Beezle, J.B., and Nathaniel, so it's disappointing to not have them in the story until close to the end. Samiel wasn't in the book at all. The author did introduce another one of Lucifer's brothers named Daharan. I really look forward to seeing how his role will play out in the series. I'm rather fond of him.

I was left with several questions, but mostly what is up with the pregnancy? I don't think the author is ready to pull that trigger on adding a baby to Maddy's life despite the fact that she threw the pregnancy into the story line. I'm also curious Henry is getting tired of writing books in the series. This one was shorter than the rest, and nothing much progressed. It seemed like a lot could have been left out, and then added the rest onto the end of the last book. I think that would have made more sense.

All in all, I was disappointed in this book, but I still have hope that the series can be redeemed. There are still many loose threads to tie up involving Lucifer's brothers, the baby, Maddy's romantic interests, and her learning control and more about her powers. Plus there's a new character added towards the end with unknown goals. I'm still interested in where this series might be going.

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 3 hearts
Pacing: 2 hearts
Characters: 4 hearts
Ending: 3 hearts
Recommend: Maybe - It's worth reading if you've been keeping up with the series so far.

Read for these Challenges:
Outdo Yourself
Monthly Keyword
Seriously Series

Happy New Year! Let's talk resolutions.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014
I'm really excited for the new year. I feel like this is going to be a good one! Of course, with the beginning of a new year comes resolutions.

Reading Resolutions:
* read at least 2 books a week
* comment on at least 5 blog posts a week to start with, then increase each month
* write and publish at least 3 posts a week, then increase as possible
* complete my challenges!

General Resolutions:
* take pharmacy tech exam to be certified
* be at my goal weight at the end of the year
* find a job with stable hours
* move somewhere, I have several options, and I really want to take advantage of one

Do you have any reading resolutions for the year? Any resolutions in general?

January 2014 New Releases

NOTE: This is by no means a complete list of book or movie releases. These are books that I am personally interested in reading and keeping track of when they are published or movies I'm interested in seeing. Book titles link to Goodreads.

7 January

Black Arts - Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock #7)
What I Had Before I Had You - Sarah Cornwell

The Line - J D Horn (Witching Savannah #1)
Forsaken - Jacquelyn Frank (World of Nightwalkers #3)
No One Else Can Have You - Kathleen Hale 
Cursed by Destiny - Cecy Robson (Weird Girls #3)
Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard - Vanessa Kelly (Renegade Royals #1)
The Descent - Alma Katsu (Taker #3)
Erased - Jennifer Rush (Altered #2)
The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson
Being Sloane Jacobs - Lauren Morrill
Flame - Amy Kathleen Ryan (Sky Chasers #3)
Independent Study - Joelle Charbonneau (Testing #2)
Love Reborn - Yvonne Woon (Dead Beautiful #3)
The Killing Woods - Lucy Christopher
Passionaries - Tonya Hurley (Blessed #2)
The Ghoul Next Door - Victoria Laurie (Ghost Hunter #8)

Thanks for Sharing
Duck Dynasty: Season 4
The Following: Season 1

14 January

Vitro - Jessica Khoury (Origin #1)
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #6)

The Spectacular Now
You're Next

21 January

Dark Bites - Sherrilyn Kenyon (Hellchaser #1)
Evertrue - Brodi Ashton (Everneath #3)
Pandemic - Scott Sigler (Infected #3)

28 January

Up From the Grave - Jeaniene Frost (Night Huntress #7)
Crimson Veil - Yasmine Galenorn (Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon #15)
Home to Seaview Key - Sherryl Woods (Seaview Key #2)
Why Earls Fall in Love - Manda Collins (Wicked Widows #2)
Into the Still Blue - Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #3)
Uninvited - Sophie Jordan (Uninvited #1)
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge
Her Dark Curiosity - Megan Shepherd (Madman's Daughter #2)
Infinite - Jodi Meadows (Newsoul #3)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Downton Abbey: Season 4

30 January

Minders - Michele Jaffe