Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro

I have been reading a ton lately so you think I wouldn't have been this absent.  Well, I'm back with another book recommendation! Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro, a science fiction book set in the future where mankind has made it to the stars.  Two warring empires fight for control of the human race, the Skolian Empire and the Eubian Concord.  Both sides believe the other is evil, both sides believe they must destroy the other to save the galaxy.  In the middle of all this tension is Sauscony "Soz" Valdoria, a Jagernaut Primary and heir to the title of Imperitor.  She meets a man named Jaibriol Qox ,a membor of the Eubian Concord, and their destinies are intertwined forever.

This is a very very well written book and that is saying something because Asaro is not originally a writer.  Miss Asaro actually has a PhD in Physics and was a scientist most of her life. As of now, she has written more books then I am aware of, and many that are in the same universe as Primary Inversion, so I can't say that she isn't a professional writer, but, as far as I'm aware, this was her fist book and it is very very good.  It has a very compelling storyline and characters but the thing that I appreciate the most is that the science is more or less accurate.  Of course there is science that is more "future what-if" kind of stuff but its rooted in scientific principles we either know or have theories about today.  It is a very enjoyable read.

There are probably half a dozen, if not more, books set in this universe but I'd recommend starting with this one.  It sets up everything that is needed and explains how everything works.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black


I love going to the library.  I get to pick up little treasures like these two companion novels Tithe: a Modern Faerie Tale and Valiant: a Modern Tale of Faerie.  I don't normally like "dark" fantasy novels because they're always about some annoying "dark" person that has a "miserable" life because the popular people (who they don't even like anyway) don't like them.  All while they are some secret vampire/werewolf/witch/other mystical creature that has to go on some adventure with some brooding, good looking, tortured mystical creature and they end up falling in love.  That and I've never been to fond of melodramatic writing. 

These books are set in modern times where faeries exist but they aren't quite as nice as...actually...never mind, they're downright mean.  Both books are set in New Jersey and follow a separate heroin in a coming of age story.  I don't want to talk to much about the plots because I don't want to give it away.  Just read them.

Holly Black, whoever you are, you are now in the list of my favorite authors.  I found myself not wanting to put down these books.  The stories were great, the writing was superb, the characters were likable and relatable, and it kept you hooked throughout.

Ah, but if I have to critique something...the beginnings were slow?  Ha! No.  Um...the themes were to dark?  Well, a lot of the issues brought up are things that a lot of high school kids deal with.  That's actually another thing I liked about it.  It didn't sugar coat anything, a good honors kid involved in sports with good friends can take a wrong turn when something goes wrong.  A party can get out of hand and end up in a death of a friend.   Stuff happens, even to kids.

Next time I'm at the library, I am definitely seeing if they have any more books by her.

(If you must know I like Valiant better, but I like them both a lot.)

Edit: Oh, there is a sequel to Tithe.  I'm definitely picking that up.  You, go read these books.  NOW!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Androids Dream

OK, my last review was a little angry I admit.  I am happy to say that my faith in novels has been restored thanks to John Scalzi's The Androids Dream.  Another book I just sorta picked up at my local library, it kept me entertained throughout.  the beginning was promising, the middle was action packed and I totally didn't see the end coming at all.

Androids Dream is set in the future, after the earth has had First Contact with aliens and has joined the Common Confederation of Planets.  The basic plot is that one race of aliens, the Nidu, have a coronation ceremony coming up that requires a certain breed of sheep from the Earth call the Androids Dream breed. The human government is split in two on the issue, with half scrambling to procure the sheep and save the tenuous relationship between the two species, while the other half are trying to destroy all of this specific breed and start a war.  The story mostly follows Harry Creek, a war veteran with the training and expertise to try and sort out this mess and Robin Baker, a pet shop owner with past ties to the Androids Dream breed.

This story is one of the best I've read in a long while.  Scalzi is a very good writer although my one complaint is that this book was very poorly edited.  Basic mistakes like spelling and grammar were not fixed.  Sometimes whole words were missing from sentences and you were left stumbling.  If something like that really bugs you then hopefully its been fixed in a later edition than the one I picked up (if there is one).  Still, if you can get past editing mistakes I suggest you pick this up.  This was a very good book and one of the best sci-fi books I've picked up in some time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

Hi there! This is Kiki. Finally contributing to what was supposed to be a combined effort. The reason behind my belated participation is that due to school and other such nonsense I stopped reading books right about the time this blog was started. Super pathetic, I know. Well, I'm officially educated now and can start my life of leisure with the written word and let me tell you, my reintroduction was fantabulous!

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance is freaking hilarious. I was laughing out loud at some of the irreverent things Elna Baker has to say about her life and experiences. Nikki can definitely attest to the fact. She had to listen to me howling while she was trying to enjoy her own book. And please don't be deterred, this is not just for those of the Mormon persuasion. I am certain that it can be thoroughly enjoyed by all. It is a memoir about a young Mormon girl coming to New York for school and finding her faith and values questioned and analyzed. It is funny and revealing and an excellent coming-of-age story. She discusses her quest to be successful, lose weight, and find the perfect man in chronological essays that make for one rip-roarin' fun story. Baker's style is very easy and relate-able. She has a flair for storytelling and the book didn't disappoint. The only issue I found with it was that it ended. I know that's super cliche but it's true. I wanted to keep reading her interesting stories and learning about her interesting life. Her life is so fun and full, this book definitely made me want to live more and be more involved in what's happening around me.

I know this was a short review but this will probably be pretty typical of me. I will be as honest as possible but I'm not going to talk and talk and talk forever. Short and sweet, that's how I write. Although, I do promise to be around this blog more.

For a first review, though, I'm calling this a success. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Astonishing Adventure of Fanboy and Goth Girl

I hate the media and pop culture. Absolutely hate it. Especially how they portray high school.   My high school experience was nothing like their descriptions at all.  Sure there were the jocks and the nerds and all that but everyone was more or less nice to each other.  Heck, they often overlapped into each other.  Sure there was bullying because that happens everywhere but the entire school didn’t gang up on one kid because he liked comic books and was an honor student.  Honestly, nobody gave a crap.  Which brings me to today’s review, after my long absence.  I remember walking through Barnes & Noble and seeing The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga and thinking “this seems relevant to me,” but I didn’t pick it up because I was in middle school at the time and had none of the moneys.  The reason I found it intriguing at the time was because from the description it was about a boy who was trying to come to terms with being part of the sub-culture known as nerd.  Now I have some weird social anxieties and I too was trying to deal with this very same issue (yes I love sci-fi, anime and manga, comic books, video games and the sciences.  Deal with it).  Anyway, I was perusing my local library when I came across this book in the young adult section.  I figured it was worth a shot.  Ho boy was I in for a big disappointment.

So the main character is a 15 year old sophomore in high school honor student with a severe attitude problem.  Now, I am of the belief that you should have a main character that you either like or can relate to.  Otherwise, you’re reader is not going to care about what happens to him or her in the story and you’ve rendered your book unreadable.  This particular guy, who I cannot for the life of me remember his name.  If it was given at all in the book, which there’s a possibility it wasn’t, then I can remember it. That’s how annoying and boring this character was.  If he was a real guy I met in my high school I probably would have thought him a jerk and then ignored him, but no apparently everyone in his school wants to make his life a living hell because he openly admits to being a comic book enthusiast.  NOBODY CARES IN REAL LIFE! Not to mention he would have found plenty of other people just like him with the same interests and would have hung out with that crowd.  Or, maybe he wouldn’t have because the guy is a complete jerk.  He is rude to his mom, his best friend, his new friend, his stepdad, his idol, everyone.  He expects everyone to cater to his desires and whims and when they have their own lives to attend to, he gets mad and throws a tantrum.  He has a fight his best friend because he can’t go to a big comic book convention because his lacrosse game is the same day.  Just because the main character hates sports, he thinks everyone else should to.  Everyone is allowed to have their own interests!  Your hypocrisy speaks volumes to your character.

Don’t tell me that “it’s the whole point of the novel to see the character learn” or whatever, because he doesn’t learn anything! It’s sort of implied that maybe he has a change of heart or something but there is no lesson learned.  He just starts being nice to his mom all of a sudden.  Seriously, this guy really frustrated me.

I will admit the writing was decent.  After doing a bit of research on the author, I can see that he wrote for the comic book industry for a while, though I haven’t read any of his comic books, before writing novels full time.  This is his first novel, so I suppose I should cut him some slack.  I’m sorry though, his main character just really bugs me.

Anyway, final thoughts.  I know I harped a lot on the main character and the fact that it isn’t very true to real life and I didn’t really look to much at the story.  As story’s go, there have been better and worse.  Mostly it was just bland.  It sure wasn’t the astonishing adventure I was promised from the title.  If the main character hadn’t riled me up so much I probably would have just cast it off as a boring book.  I swear, a book hasn’t made me this angry since I read I am the Cheese in eighth grade.

And can you believe there’s a sequel?  People actually enjoyed this book enough for there to be a sequel.  This is exactly why I hate pop culture. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez

You ever feel like you have no idea what to say about something?  Well, that's how I feel about Divine Misfortune by A Lee. Martinez.  This book was so...bland...that I've been trying for weeks to come up with something interesting to say about it.  Unfortunately for you, I honestly cant.  I suppose if you're looking for an easy, short read to get your mind off things, its not that bad, but the concept of all the gods ever imagined existing and all vying for your devotion and worship can create some really interesting concepts and in a way he does bring a few into play but in the end the gods are just whiny, petty brats, and the people are one dimensional and incapable of being independent.  The ending didn't really solve anything, the middle was incredibly slow, while the beginning sucked you in promising an interesting story from an interesting concept.  Whats really awful is that the book itself wasn't especially bad.  It was well written, and even clever at times but the author could have done so much more with this story.  I was expecting a flavor full bonanza when I picked this up but all I got instead was a rice cake.
-Nikki

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

I love history.  It’s always been one of my favorite subjects in school and when a history documentary is on TV I will sit down and watch it, unless of course a space documentary is on at the same time.  A girls got to have her priorities straight.  But what does this have to do with books you may ask?  Well, today’s review is over Leviathan by Scott Westerfield, a story that revolves around the events preceding WWI but with a twist. 

So we open to a war scene describing a glorious army about to strike down their enemy’s.  the men are tall and proud and ready to fight for their country.  The machines are gleaming in the sun well oiled and ready to take down the enemy.  The horses stand strong and powerful and the men riding them know they are reliant.  Oh wait, never mind, it’s a child playing with his toys in his bedroom at the dead of night.  But this isn’t any boy; this is a prince, the child of the archduke of Austria.  His mentors are about to take him out of the castle to teach him how to night walk in a GIANT MECHANICAL WALKER.  Yup there’s the twist.  The Germans are “clankers” and the British are “beasties.”  The British use fabricated animals instead of machines for everything from cars to airships.  They take Darwinism to the extreme, where as the Germans have invented machines reminiscent of the giant walkers in star wars only much smaller and piloted by people who actually have a brain.

Anyway we’ve meet the Prince named Aleksander.  The other main character is Deryn Sharp, a girl pretending to be a boy to serve in the British air corps. Deryn is smart, quick witted and better then most of the boys in the service.  Now this is a heroine I can get behind!  She’s a born flier and will do anything to be in the sky, even pretend to be a boy which is actually a plus for her cause she doesn’t like girly things like dresses.  She ends up serving on the Leviathan, the first fabricated air ship and also the biggest. This is her dream come true, if she is allowed to stay when the ship picks up a Lady known as the Boffin, a scientist who works to come up with new fabricated species.  With the extra weight that the Boffin brings, they have to get rid of some crew members and Deryn and the other newbie airmen are first in line to be kicked out.  But of course, where would the story be if she did get kicked off the ship?  The book is called Leviathan; of course she is going to stay.

As we follow these two characters we see them grow and develop which I can not tell you how nice that is.  To many books keep their characters flat and one dimensional and they are so boooooooring.  Its like reading about rocks, but even that can be interesting with the right author.  And the supporting cast is interesting at times, boring at others but that’s alright. What we really want to know is what will happen to Deryn and Alek but oh wait, I forgot, there isn’t an end!  Yeah the book just stops.  No ending to anything.  Oh there’s a resolution and such, but the book itself just stops!  When Ii finished it I was baffled.  There has got to be more, Westerfiled wouldn’t just stop this book.  But he did, and its annoying.  I am ok with books setting up a sequel but not when they don’t have an ending themselves!

Besides all that though, it was a decent book with a really interesting story.  It’s obvious this book is for kids (it has pictures!) but that shouldn’t stop adults from reading it.  After all, what’s life if you can’t immerse yourself in a good book, even if that book isn’t meant for adults?
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