American Neolithic (Terence Hawkins)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase: American Neolithic is a dystopian science-fiction novel full of political satire and dark humor. In a world where the Homeland Police has unlimited legal jurisdiction over all national security and creationism is widely promoted by the government, Blingbling, a present-day Neanderthal who’s a professional musician, is charged for the murder of fellow hip-hop artist Galileo. Raleigh, Blingbling’s criminal defense lawyer, faces a massive problem when he realizes Blingbling is not entirely human. Terence Hawkins’s prose has a sharp wit and themes of trust and loyalty all combined in an eccentric, unique story that is part thriller, part courtroom drama.

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The Cartiers (Francesca Cartier Brickell)

(guest post by Maple)

3.5 stars out of 5

Cut to the Chase

Francesca brings us along with her into the journey of how Cartier, a small family jewelry business transforms into what it is today-an extremely admired jewelry firm over the globe. She brings us through each generation, from Louis Francois Carter to Jean Jacques Cartier, her own grandfather. Through all of these generations, she emphasizes the importance of uniqueness, forward thinking, family, and hard work that Cartier truly represents. The work is textbook-like in its dedication to detail, and can be a bit overwhelming for those less interested in jewelry.

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What’s Working Now (Shahla Hebets)

(guest post by Olympia)

3 out of 5 stars

CUT TO THE CHASE:

Hebets emphasizes the importance of a YOU-centric business — a business that always prioritizes the customer’s needs — and gives examples of how companies (like Patagonia) utilize this model while providing useful tips for aspiring business leaders. Though it’s of interest to anyone in the business world, smaller and/or newer business owners (particularly those in the fitness industry, where many of her examples come from) might find her advice most helpful. I learned a handful of useful techniques that have applications outside business and found it to be, overall, an enjoyable, relaxing, and a somewhat informative read.

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Castle of Fountains (Douglas A.L. Smith)

3 out of 5 Stars

Cut to the Chase

Wyatt’s father has disappeared, leaving only a mysterious note (“One day you will understand). It’s a great hook and a fun beginning. The main character is a teenager from our world who’s somehow transported to this other world, and that’s where the mystery begins. That said, the rest of the book didn’t live up to premise. A lot of things are left unresolved, which is fine if it’s a planned series, but was still fairly frustrating considering where we started. Many of the characters (Wyatt in particular) are easy to relate to and well-developed, there was also a fair bit of action (our heroes getting attacked, etc.) but overall, I felt a little disappointed. Continue reading

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (Abbi Waxman)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
I wanted to like this book. I tried to like this book. I even actually liked parts of this book. Yet ultimately, I found it slow and a bit difficult to finish, which is sad considering how much of the set-up is great. You’ve got your anxious bookworm of a protagonist (see: Bridget Jones meets every romance heroine ever) who’s going through quite a few life changes (finding out the father she never knew has died and left her with a family and possibly something else in a to-be-read-later will) and of course, there’s hot hero in the background. Parts of this book were absolutely adorable, and there’s quite a bit of fun pop culture, but parts of it felt almost painfully cliche and though there’s a very, very well-written part buried about 3/4 in, I ultimately can’t quite recommend this.
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Castle of Fountains (Douglas A.L. Smith)

(guest review by Mathias)

3 out of 5 Stars

Cut to the Chase
Wyatt’s father has disappeared, leaving only a mysterious note (“One day you will understand). It’s a great hook and a fun beginning. The main character is a teenager from our world who’s somehow transported to this other world, and that’s where the mystery begins. That said, the rest of the book didn’t live up to premise. A lot of things are left unresolved, which is fine if it’s a planned series, but was still fairly frustrating considering where we started. Many of the characters (Wyatt in particular) are easy to relate to and well-developed, there was also a fair bit of action (our heroes getting attacked, etc.) but overall, I felt a little disappointed.

In Greater Detail
Wyatt a lonely thirteen-year-old boy who’s trapped in the middle of nowhere… in a foreign world. Thus, the narrator has the reader’s general expectations about what the world ought to look l ike.

He meets Marrock, who is a wolf (who talks and helps protect him). There’s an element of danger right away: there are storms that are dangerous, eventually trees that are also potentially malicious). Wyatt rides the wolf to safety and they eventually meet Lex, a winged beast who tells Wyatt about a quest he must complete in order to find the Fae Princess (there’s not a lot of explanation about why this is suddenly the quest, just characters, followed by a quest).

There’s also a background threat of war and plenty of solo adventures for Wyatt throughout the book (for example, Wyatt must go to the forest alone, where he then meeds Dryads, and eventually gets some powers).

There’s everything from a dragon a wizard, with a lot of small quests throughout.

This book was slightly disappointing even though there was quite a bit of action. I just felt like none of the larger questions were resolved, and it was a lot of somewhat standard going from one location to another, performing quests without anyone ever stopping to ask why. Perhaps I’m just grumpy or have read too much fantasy recently, but this one was, while entertaining, slightly disappointing after an interesting start.

Warcross

The short version:

Imagine Ready Player One, but Asian, and with the genders inverted.

Okay, there are slightly more differences than that, but if you started off thinking it was Asian heroine version of Ready Player One you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. The time period feels a little more “now” but otherwise it’s a girl saving the world by playing a video game.

It’s fun, quick brain candy to while away an afternoon.