Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Marvel Comics

REVIEW: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Communication Breakdown by Gerry Duggan

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*No Spoilers*

A new era of cosmic adventure begins! The Guardians of the Galaxy have taken off into space once more on their biggest and weirdest misadventures yet! Kicking things off with the boldest heist they’ve ever pulled, Star-Lord, Rocket, and company blast their way through the galaxy with the peacekeepers of the Nova Corps hot on their tail! And soon enough, they find themselves caught in a war between the Collector and the Grandmaster! Will there be any room to explain why Groot can’t grow any bigger, what Gamora is searching for, or why Drax has sworn off violence?! You bet there will – the all-new Guardians of the Galaxy has space for all your Marvel Cosmic needs!

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My first experience with The Guardians of the Galaxy was their first movie. Ever since then, I have been interested in learning more about them and experiencing the wacky things these misfits can get up to. Now, let’s put on our favorite mixtape, and let’s dive in!

The last Guardians of the Galaxy comic book I read last left me feeling disappointed and hesitant to jump back into the series. However, I am glad I read Communication Breakdown. The story is solid, the characters are loveable as ever, and I finished this graphic novel wanting to read the next volume.

I love that in this volume, Groot is a baby. According to Rocket, Groot has remained small since the incident (assuming it had something to do with Thanos as he is mentioned throughout this story) instead of growing as a proper sentient tree would.

I like that Drax practices pacifism in this story. I think by doing this, we learn that Drax is much more than a mindless grunt. He actually feels guilty of the lives’ he’s taken and is aware that his actions have consequences.

Overall, I think this series is excellent! I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s just say there are other villains than Thanos and Galactus.

I would recommend Guardians of the Galaxy: Communication Breakdown for Marvel fans, science fiction fans, and those who are wanting another good Guardian of the Galaxy story to enjoy.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force #1) by Craig Alanson

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*No Major Spoilers*

We were fighting on the wrong side of the war; we couldn’t win. And that was the good news.
The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the Native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon come ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There go the good old days, when humans only got killed by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits.
When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved. The UN Expeditionary Force hitched a ride on Kristang ships to fight the Ruhar, wherever our new allies thought we could be useful. So, I went from fighting with the US Army in Nigeria, to fighting in space. It was lies, all of it. We shouldn’t even be fighting the Ruhar; they aren’t our enemy, our allies are.
I’d better start at the beginning…

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I have been looking for a sci-fi novel that involved first alien contact that didn’t leave the reader with their nose stuck in a military dictionary trying to figure out what was going on. I don’t usually read military fiction because the author can forget that not everyone reading their books may not know all of the military terminologies. Luckily Columbus Day explains all of the jargon and military slang. I like how the main character is telling his story like he’s talking to ordinary people, all of the lingoes is explained, and he explains various types of strategies and the pros and cons of each.

Another thing I enjoyed about Columbus Day is how the main character relates to the enemy as well as their allies. When the Ruhar first attack, Bishop and a ragtag team of military friends abduct one of the enemy soldiers to get intel on the enemy, and one of the other enemy soldiers got hurt by debris. Later, we learn Bishop felt guilty for not being able to check for injuries on the enemy.

“Soldiers are soldiers, whether they have fur, skin or scales. So, logically, the Ruhar lobbed a missile at the most imposing structure in the area, the potato warehouse, and took it out in impressive fashion. I mean, they blew the hell out of it, those soldiers must have had something against potatoes.” – Columbus Day

However, my opinion of the story took a dip when the author introduced Skippy, an all-powerful AI built by ancient beings many millennia ago. I feel like the author hit a roadblock in the story and created Skippy as a way to get the story going again. The author then forces us to read a game of “Pete and Repeat” about everything we had learned up to this point. I felt this dialogue was unnecessary to the overall plot.

I have since gotten used to Skippy helping Bishop and other human soldiers. Once you get over that significant speedbump, the story smooths back out into military space action. Even with Skippy doing a lot of the critical technical aspects of the operation, this doesn’t slow the momentum down.

Overall, if you are looking for a sci-fi space adventure, then I would recommend Columbus Day. I would also recommend this novel if you are a fan of military fiction, space adventures, and just looking for an overall good story. Columbus Day will leave you binging the whole series before the day is over.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Humans by Matt Haig

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*No Major Spoilers*

Our hero, Professor Andrew Martin, is dead before the book even begins. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t a very nice man–as the alien imposter who now occupies his body discovers. Sent to Earth to destroy evidence that Andrew had solved a major mathematical problem, the alien soon finds himself learning more about the professor, his family, and “the humans” than he ever expected. When he begins to fall for his own wife and son–who has no idea he’s not the real Andrew–the alien must choose between completing his mission and returning home or finding a new home right here on Earth.

I discovered this novel on a booklist that I receive in my email every other day. I only read the lists if the theme seems interesting to me, and that’s how I discovered this novel.

When this novel started, the commentary by the alien disguised as Andrew Martin was pointing out how alien humans looked to him. It kind of reminded me of Roger from American Dad. Roger has to dress up in various outfits to try and disguise himself so he can leave the house.

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Roger from American Dad 

I found this novel to be fascinating the way of character development from the alien’s point of view. Even though throughout the novel he remains fascinated with how us humans act, behave and believe, his overall opinion changes by the end of the novel.

Even though this isn’t a fully philosophical story, there is an over-arching plot. However, the challenges the alien faces on top of trying to stay under the radar in order to complete his mission makes for beautiful character development.

My favorite part of the story is when the alien gets sent into the mental hospital at one point, and the observations and people he meets there is fascinating for someone who has been in a mental hospital.

Humans, as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one era turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rainforests mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode.

Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass. – The Humans

I’ve got to say I really enjoyed this story on a variety of levels, everything from the character development to the philosophical approach the story had on the narrative. This story held my interest from beginning to end, the first letter to the final punctuation. This story is definitely recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi, aliens, a good overall story along with some thought-provoking undertones.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Rise Again (Rise Again #1) by Ben Tripp

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*No Spoilers*

Forest Peak, California. Fourth of July. Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle in this all-American town after her kid sister runs away from home. But when a disease-stricken horde of panicked refugees fleeing the fall of Los Angeles swarms her small mountain community, Danny realizes her problems have only just begun – starting with what might very well be the end of the world.

Danny thought she had seen humanity at its worst in war-torn Iraq, but nothing could prepare her for the remorseless struggle to survive in a dying world being overrun by the reanimated dead and men turned monster. Obsessed with finding her missing sister against all odds, Danny’s epic and dangerous journey across the California desert will challenge her spirit . . . and bring her to the precipice of sanity itself. . . .

I thought I’d make a return to the zombie subgenre after a hiatus. This novel definitely satisfied my craving for a good zombie apocalypse. There’s action, suspense, violence, and plenty of blood and gore.

My major complaint with this novel was I felt like there were too many survivors that the author focused on. I found it difficult keeping track of who’s who and what motivates them.

I did like how the author made the protagonist a female veteran. Even with what she’s seen during her service and the injuries she’s suffered from, she was still able to feel fear and confusion throughout the novel. I felt this made her more likable and relatable.

My favorite character was Amy, the local veterinarian. Even though she worked on animals before the apocalypse, she was still able to help fellow survivors and give first aid when needed. She slowly gained the ability to lead the others after Danny goes alone to look for her sister.

When Danny goes rogue from her group to go look for her sister, the finality of the apocalypse sets in really strong during this time. Towns abandoned, littered with corpses and abandoned cars. It also foreshadows the coming conflicts between various groups of survivors. You can feel the tension as Danny is on her selfish mission.

I enjoyed this novel, and I am highly interested in reading the next one in the series. I would also recommend this for lovers of female protagonists, zombie apocalypse, and science fiction.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Press F5 to Load Game by LeVar Ravel

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*No Spoilers*

All the State House gossips go abuzz when an influential senator forms an alliance with Rep. Frannie Upwood, the capital’s most famous underachiever and the favorite butt of jokes. Why his sudden interest in such a lightweight politician?

It’s up to Lars Uxbridge, the senator’s disloyal staffer, to find out after he joins a network of political spies. What Lars discovers is a secret far beyond anything other state reps can muster. To get ahead in politics, Frannie’s got something better than snappy slogans, wealthy donors, and door-to-door volunteers.

She’s got a time machine.

Frannie shows that when you’re armed with time travel, you’re the star athlete in a game where the world is your playing field, you make your own rules, and you always beat the shot clock.

But as Frannie will learn, this game has opponents to contend with. Rivals who might not play fair. When the prizes are enormous power, money, and control of time itself, watch out for cheat moves and low blows…

This novel was offered to me through the BookSends ARC Program. This novel caught my attention because I thought the concept of mixing time travel and politics sounded interesting.

I was expecting a story like other time travel media, such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Doctor Who, and Back to the Future where the main characters have a vehicle that they use for their time traveling hijinks. This took a different spin on the whole time travel subgenre. Frannie uses a clunky bracelet-type contraption with the buttons “F8” and “F5”.

As Frannie explains, F8 is to make a “quicksave” and F5 is to “reload the previous save”. So if she wanted to she could get government secrets and not live through the consequences. As soon as she goes back to her previous save, her crimes will cease to exist.

If I had to put percentages to the content, it’s 80% politics and 20% time travel hijinks. If you are fans of political thrillers, this is the novel for you.

“A good game amuses us. Even better ones create characters we can believe in, with compelling goals and treacherous obsticles. The best games of all integrate these factors with an interactive challenge for our brains and reflexes. A mix powerful enough to transplant us into a whole new world where we can role-play to our heart’s content. The kind of thing that used to be the stuff of dreams” – Frannie Upwood

I felt like the ending was rushed. When the “big reveal” happened, I felt like the ending got ridiculous. It read like the author just started throwing things at the reader in hope of sounding “plot-twisty”. I felt like I was cheated out of a good conclusion, and I wish the ending could’ve been better.

However, I felt like the characters were well developed and I could relate to them on various levels. Lars and Frannie’s relationship throughout this novel is intriguing. Lars stumbling upon Frannie’s big secret, and whether Frannie is just over-trusting or whether she knows more than she’s letting on.

All in all, I would highly recommend this novel for lovers of political thrillers, time travel, and science fiction in general.

Buy “Press F5 to Load Game” HERE