Author Archives: theothercanary

About theothercanary

Science journalist by day, canary by night, Meg lives with a cat named Thing Two and a computer named Squishy. She has a writing degree from John Hopkins and a Nook that she plans to utilize to its full capacity the next time she needs to escape being chased by zombie raptors.

[Book Review] Crimson Crown and the book review that wasn’t

Note from the desk of CanaryTheFirst: I was browsing ancient drafts in the depths of our reading coal mines when I came across this review from theothercanary. It’s about time for it to see the light of day!

Book review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms, #4)I started reading this book, but abandoned it for meatier tales like Dresden. When I finally got back to it, I thought that’d I’d made it at least halfway through. Imagine my horror to reopen it on my Nook to discover that I was on the paltry page 68. Out of 448. I almost abandoned it again in favor of rereading Behemoth for the zillionth time.

EDIT: I wrote that much as an intro while I was still reading the book. Then on page 240, I did abandon the book to read Behemoth again. And Cold Days. And Beautiful Creatures. And Deadline. And a whole schlew of nonfiction goodies. And upon trying to return to this book, I simply couldn’t make myself do it.

Based on the stellar ratings on GoodReads, I’m among a small minority who did not utterly and completely love this book. I can see why so many love the Seven Realms stories. I did too. You can read my reviews of past books here:

But as far as the Crimson Crown goes, it’s time for me to declare this book a dead canary.


This Week’s Mine Shaft

From the deep, dark depths of the mine shaft, we emerge with this week’s sparkly book highlights – new books, cool books, see if any catch your eye. They sure caught ours.

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A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Book 14 of the Wheel of Time

Epic Fantasy

This book needs no introduction. After 23 years, the epic Wheel of Time series is finally at an end. A Memory of Light doesn’t even appear to have an official blurb - just a reminder of the fact that Brandon Sanderson took on the series after Robert Jordan passed away. Oh, and this poem:

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
May yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Those who have stuck with this tale since the beginning are sure to be entranced. And, for people like me who don’t believe in starting series that have no clear end (*cough* Game of Thrones *cough*), we can finally catch up with the rest of the world. Continue reading

[Advanced Book Review] Pantomime by Laura Lam

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Publication date: Feb 5 2013

I can’t even talk about this book. Every time I try to write this review, I immediately go into fits of sputtering rage. The whole story hinges on a single twist, one that, if revealed, ruins the gut punch of the book. But the twist is also what makes the such an unexpected and utter joy to read. I have never read a hero like that presented in Pantomime. And it’s left me positively aching for more.

This is where I would talk about the book, but I pretty much can’t. No plot, no characters, nothing. I’ve never been so utterly vexed by a review before. I’ve also never felt so compelled to not talk about a twist in a story before, because I can’t stand the idea of ruining it for even one person. (Except Canary the First, who never gets the privilege of spoiler warnings.) So I’m just going to drop the official blurb in here so that I don’t slip up and reveal anything myself: Continue reading


[Small Chirps] Books on the January Big Screen

This month’s book-inspired set of movies sure are a violent lot – but with stories that are as intriguing as they are graphic. From LA gangsters to shotgun-toting fairy-tale characters, this month has a lot of exciting movie fare to offer.

Gangster Squad

Release Date: January 11

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/03/Gangster_Squad_Poster.jpgA cast doesn’t get much more star-studded than this. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte and Sean Penn round out the cast of this gangster-sort-of-buddy-cop movie based on an eight-part LA Times series written by journalist Paul Lieberman, who expanded his true-life story in the book, Gangster Squad. The movie takes place in 1950s, when the streets of LA were overrun by gang wars. To combat the illegal underground, LAPD created their own gangster squad, cops where selected to work outside the law in order to bring peace back to the City of Angels.

I expect from the trailer alone that it will be a fairly violent film (how could it not be with a plot like that?), but for anyone who loves LA Noir or hardboiled detective novels like those of Dashiell Hammett, this movie should be right up your alley. Continue reading


This Week’s Mine Shaft

What new releases are the canaries eyeing this first week of the new year?

Altered by Jennifer Rush

YA SciFi/Adventure/Romance

They were made to forget. But they’ll never forgive.

An ominous tagline paired with a smexy cover? I’m in. Anna’s life is strange to say the least. Her father works for a secret (government?) company, The Branch, and his latest project included hording genetically altered teenage boys in a lab below their farmhouse. And, as any father who has a holding pen of teenage boys should anticipate, Anna falls for one of them – Sam. When The Branch comes to take the boys away, Anna finds herself on the run with them as an even darker secret is revealed: the person The Branch really wants is Anna herself.

Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

Science Fiction/Murder Mystery

Great North Road is billed as a science fiction murder mystery with a hefty does of political thriller.  Most writers likely wouldn’t be able to pull off so many genre descriptors, but Hamilton has proven to be more than up to the task. A current master of the space opera genre, Hamilton has a knack of weaving together a loom-worth of threads, making for exciting, satisfying reads. Such thread weaving also makes it nearly impossible to describe the plot concisely, but here’s a shot at it: Continue reading


[Small Chirp] Watch the First Four Minutes of Warm Bodies

Somewhere along the line, I became completely obsessed with zombies. I guess it’s not entirely surprising; the only thing that scares me more than zombies are sharks, and I eagerly anticipate the Discover Channel’s “Shark Week” with rabid fervor. The gateway drug that was Feed has extrapolated into a full-blown addiction.

And that’s why I let out a squeal when I heard that Fandango had a sneak peek at the first four minutes of “Warm Bodies,” the quirky teen romance based on the book by Isaac Marion. I have to say, after the video, I’m even more excited about the film. Continue reading


[Book Review] Beautiful Creatures and Awkward Audiobooks

Meg’s Review of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Audiobook read by Kevin T. Collins (with special appearance by Eve Bianco)

I haven’t read any teen paranormal romance since I attempted Twilight, which all but killed my faith in the genre and scarred my brain for life. But I’m a sucker for any book being made into a movie, so I picked up Beautiful Creatures during a nifty sale at Audible. I figured that if it sucked, at least it would only be $5 of suck.

Much to my surprise, I really liked this first installment of the four-book series. Partially, I think my enjoyment was at the deft move by writers Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl to make the narrator a teenaged boy rather than a girl. It inherently dropped the angst factor by about 75%. They also split the love story, with the majority of it revolving around the star-crossed lovers of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, but there was also the added love story of a boy mourning the loss of his mother that gave the book considerable, and quite unexpected, depth. Continue reading


[Book Watching] Not Your Typical Hobbit

It’s been years since I read The Hobbit. I considered doing so before the movie, but then realized that since the films would be stretched over three years, I might as well wait for a bit because I’ll forget the end again by the time the final installment in the trilogy came out. As a result, I couldn’t tell if scenes were actually made up in the movie or if I’d just misremembered the book so poorly.

“Was Saruman in The Hobbit?” I asked my roommate as we were leaving.

“No!” she – a rabid Hobbit/Lord of the Rings fan – replied. “No! They were just making stuff up!”

So not just me, then. Continue reading


[Book Review] I can’t tell if the dystopian socio-economics here are better or worse than in the first book

Meg’s Review of Insurgent by Veronica Roth

This review will contain spoilers for Insurgent.

The Goodreads Choice Awards 2012 are in, and Insurgent by Veronica Roth was crowned top YA SciFi Fantasy book of the year. I’m sort of baffled by this – by the fact that it beat out this whopper of a list:

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
  • The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  • The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore
  • Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass

I mean come on – beat Cassandra Clare and the wonderful new comer Cinder? Mostly I’m surprised because I read Insurgent and started this review post in July and could never get up the gumption to actually write it because I was just that unimpressed by this follow-up to Divergent.

Insurgent opens more or less immediately after the chaos of the previous book. A quick refresher about this whacko world (you can read more about it here): In some sort of post-apocalyptic Chicago, the city’s population is split between five factions: Dauntless (courage), Erudite (knowledge), Candor (honesty), Amity (friendliness), and Abnegation (selflessness). Well, Abnegation is pretty much not there anymore because of a revolt that led to all of them getting offed (long story), and the Candor and the Erudite are now in this epic pissing battle standoff, while the Amity has shut their doors and poopooed on the whole lot of them. Oh, and most of the Dauntless are mind-controlled zombies. Continue reading


[Book Review] Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Meg’s Review of Cold Days by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #14)

This review will not contain plot spoilers for Cold Days. However, all other Dresden stories are fair game!

Cold Days

As this is a fairly family-friendly blog, I won’t write what I thought during those last chapters of Cold Days. Suffice to say, the phrase started with a “holy” and ended with just about every single four letter word in existence.

Jim Butcher appears to be playing the longest con in literary history. Typically, books in a series only refer back to three books back — five, max — because, I would assume, that’s about how much authors can handle. If you’ve got a dozen books in play, with fifty different subplots running around, things just get ungodly messy. Best to keep things nice and neat and nebulous. Continue reading


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