Monthly Archives: March 2013

KayKay #CBR5 Review #18 The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu

The wandering Earth

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!

After a reading Fledgling by Octavia Butler, I was in a reading ‘funk’. I tried several samples from Amazon, but could not find 1 book that caught my interest. I was wondering if I would have to stray from my current favorite sci fi/fantasy genre, when I ran across The Wandering Earth (which was free!). It drew me in, and hopefully has ended my reading funk. Here’s what I thought…

Plot

The sun is about to become a red giant. Unable to successfully build space ships to get everyone off Earth and to another planet (this logic is explained in the book), the scientist have decided to make the entire planet their rocket. They have built thousands of Earth Engines that propel the Earth out of it’s orbit and begins a 2,500 year journey to Alpha Centari, to resettle the planet there. This book covers the end of the Sun as we know it and the beginning of the journey to another solar system.

I’m not an astro physicist, so some of the science was iffy for me, and some of the imagery was hard to imagine, but the plot was so unique that it was enjoyable.

Plot Score: 4/5

Location, Location, Location

The location is everything in this book. A wandering Earth. What a concept. They actually built rockets to get Earth out of its solar system and move it to another sun. Living underground, for the most part, there are certain times when it’s safe to come above ground, and they even have flights and other technology. Some parts of the planet are in perpetual light, some are in perpetual dark. The journey that the Earth takes as it transforms from a planet to a rocket is amazing to imagine.

Location Score: 5/5

Characters and Relationships

Main Character- I just finished reading this book and I can’t recall ever getting a name for the character. I can’t find it referenced in any other review for the book either. Maybe he’s not named because he is an ‘every man’. The story is not really about an individuals journey, but the journey of the Earth.

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

The one part that really stood out to me, is where humanity is waiting for the suns final explosion and transformation to a red dwarf, but it doesn’t happen when estimated. The people revolt believing that science has fooled them into moving the planet from their happy home. And just when the revolters have won the war and taken the government and executed them, the sun transforms. Even in this amazing circumstance, we are still human, rash and violent and impatient.

Bigger Meaning Score: 3/5

Style

Opening Line: “I’ve never seen the night nor seen a star; I’ve seen neither spring, nor fall, nor winter. I was born at the end of the Reining Age, just as the Earth’s rotation was coming to a final halt.”

This is one of the best openers I’ve read. I know this was not originally written in English, but this line was translated beautifully. The book is pretty short (I don’t have page numbers on my Kindle for this one, so I can’t tell how long), so it moves along.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

-When reading the summary the concept distracted me, as it seems completely far fetched. But if you let yourself go in the book, it actually feels quite possible…

-I’d love to know what Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks about the science in this book.

Total Score and Recommendation
18/25- Read it! Its short and really creative.
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KayKay #CBR5 Review #17 Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Fledgling

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

This is my sixth Octavia Butler book this year (and I am counting the three Lilith’s Brood books as one) and the more I read, the more I feel we have lost a fantasy legend.  She has this amazing way of weaving a social message into fantasy.  Did she hit her high marks?  Here’s what I thought…

Plot

Shori, a black vampire, wakes up with no memory of herself in a cave.  After several painful days she leaves and meets Wright, who picks her up from the side of the road.  After she recovers (and ‘seduces’ Wright) she tracks down her family.  Her mom’s family was destroyed, with her being the only survivor. Her dad’s family gives her a little piece of the puzzle that she is missing, but they are also destroyed.  Shori runs to the only other vampires that the remaining humans from her dads family had visited.  They determine who is out to kill Shori (due to her familys genetic experiments), and bring them to trial.

Plot Score: 3/5

Location, Location, Location

Current day Earth where vampires exist- and have existed longer than humans.

Location Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships

Shori- a vampire in her 50’s, but looks like a 12 year old girl.  Due to a violent attack, she has lost all of her memory.  We learn as she learns.

Symbionts- Human companions of the vampires.  In this book, once a vampire has bit someone a few times, they become tied together and they need each other.

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

A common theme in many Octavia Butler books, this book explores family.  Shori’s relationship with her symbionts- which is compulsive after they have been bitten so many times.  They love it and want to stay with her, but they love it because of the venom in her bite.  It’s not completely free will.

Families are not traditional, a vampire has many symbionts, and there is some jealousy between them (as Shori has sexual relationships with many of them).  She can also mate with other vampires.  The symbionts can also mate with each other.

Bigger Meaning Score: 4/5

Style

This was a good book, and I enjoyed it when reading it, but it did not call to me when I put it down.  I didn’t think about it or necessarily want to get back to it when I wasn’t reading.  I can’t exactly figure out what was different about this book from her others which I loved so much.  Maybe I’ve read to many of her books so now the themes have become repetitive.  I’ll be taking a longer break before I read Kindred.

Opening Line:  I awoke to darkness

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

-When I read a string a good books, it motivates me to keep reading.  For some reason this book, although good, made me take a week or so off from reading.

-I wrote this review over a week after I finished the book, and after I had read another book.  Some of the details were not fresh in my mind.

Total Score and Recommendation
16/25- Honestly, unless you want to read every Octavia Butler book, skip this one.

KayKay #CBR5 Review #16 The Dragonswarm by Aaron Pogue

DragonSwarm

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!

This is book two of the Dragonprince Trilogy.  I enjoyed the plot of the first book, but was put off by the main characters constant fear.  I figured that as the character has gained power, perhaps his annoying habit of always being scared would either be greatly minimized or go away in the second book.  Did the author succeed?  Here’s what I thought…

Plot

Daven is busy in this book.  As the silly king is trying to catch Daven, Daven is getting down to business. Forced to run from Teelevon (home of his beloved Isabelle) to escape the kings pursuit, Daven is kidnapped by dragons!  A HUGE (and evil, of course) dragon Pazyarev, but Vech comes to his rescue.  Daven lives with Vech, as a part of his brood, for some time and starts to assimilate with the dragon ways.  However, thoughts of Isabelle brings him back to civilization.  He knows Pazyarev is going to attack Teelevon, and beyond that all of mankind and he wants to make a stand against the Dragonswarm.  Daven faces Pazyarev- in a amazing fight sequence- conquers him, and then gets the kings support to continue his battle.

Plot Score: 4/5

Location, Location, Location

A land filled with men, magic, dragons and wizards.

Location Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships
Daven- The hero, in this book, he is much less fearful then in the first story (which is appropriate, as he has gained some confidence).  He reminded me of Anakin/Darth Vadar.  It seems he was always struggling to control the chaos magic of the dragons (the dark side) and to not let it consume him.  (I will say, he always seemed to come back from the dark side)

“The world would not survive without my fire.  Perhaps I had to be the dragon.  Perhaps I had to embrace that dark nature.  But even as a monster I would bend my power to the good of the world, when wizards and kings could not be bothered to do that much”

Isabelle- I really don’t like this character. She encounters a dragon with Daven, he kills the dragon and she injures herself falling. The chick can’t even get out of the way without getting hurt. The story does not pick up until he leaves her and is kidnapped by Pazy.

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

Without making meaning out of things that have no meaning, I do not think there was any bigger meaning in this book.

Bigger Meaning Score: 0/5

Style

Opening Line:”My feet itched to flee, and my fingers itched for a sword.”

When action sequences are really good, I want to skim read them as fast as possible, because I get so caught up in the action that I need to know the outcome.  I actually read the last action sequence pretty quickly, then went back and read parts of it again (he ends up in the mouth of a dragon!)

I enjoyed this book more than the first one, there was less (constant) mention of Daven being scared, and once the story picked up the book was very hard to put down.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

-Does anyone else feel like Chaos is similar to the dark side in Star Wars?

-What is up with the king and his wizards?  Can’t they see there is a bigger threat then Daven?  Idiots…

-For those who have read the third book in this series- is it worth the read?

Total Score and Recommendation

13/25- I would recommend the first two in the series.  I’m not sure I’m going to read the third book as (based on reviews) seems that the author has gone back to having an annoying narrator.

KayKay #CBR5 Review #15 Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

FrostBurned

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!

I’ve been a Mercy Thompson fan for a while.  I’ve read some of the Alpha & Omega series, but I don’t like it nearly as much as the Mercy series.  I am finding with this series and others (Sookie, I’m thinking of you), that as the number of installments increase, the stories loose their uniqueness.  The plots repeat, and there become too many characters and past plot lines.  This is the seventh book in the series, and here’s what I thought…

Plot
Mercedes is in the thick of things again! Her husband, Adam- and the entire pack, have been kidnapped.  Mercy’s plan is “Decision one- preserve those who were safe.  Decision two-retrieve the rest.  Decision three- make the ones who took them regret it.”  She makes immediate arrangements to keep Jesse, Adams daughter and Kyle, Warren’s (the packs third) mate safe. She enlists some help from her vampire friend Stefan, and Zee’s (her fae ex-boss) son Tad. Once the pack has escaped (with some help from the mercenaries who helped capture them), Mercy and Adam need to figure out the truth behind the events. Despite, several distractions (Cantrip, the government, etc.) it turns out the vampires are behind it (‘Gauntlet Boy’) and the book ends in a 3 on 3 battle, with Mercy fighting with Marsilla (because of her skills with the dead).

The problem is, I won’t remember this plot in two weeks, let alone by the time the next book comes out. 
Plot Score: 3/5

Location, Location, Location

I enjoy this world.  It reminds me (a little) of Sookie’s world, but in this world, werewolves and the fae have come out, but not the vampires (although I can’t imagine that humans aren’t suspicious). 

Location Score: 4/5

Characters and Relationships

Mercy- She is the best part of these books for me.  She’s tough, she likes to do the right thing, and she protects people.  She thinks through her decisions, she does not just run off trying to save the world, she works with the people around her.  She is (sort of) the daughter of coyote, so in addition to her ability to transform into a coyote, she can also bend the rules.  At one point she is able (though some sort of ‘dream sequence’) suck the silver out of Adam and most of the pack. 

Adam- Alpha of the pack and the ‘face’ for werewolves.  He’s a great balance to Mercy’s character.

Stefan- He is Mercy’s vampire friend, who used to wear Scooby Doo T-Shirts (Until Marsilia killed most of his people, now he’s sulky). 

The fae- they don’t play a big part in the book (Zee makes an appearance, Tad helps out, and there are two fae assassins).   “One of the Gray Lords killed a US senator’s son and declared the fae to be a separate and sovereign nation.  Within minutes of the declaration, all of the fae had disappeared…” 

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

This book is purely for enjoyment purposes only.

Life Lessons Score: 0/5

Style

Opening Line: “You should have brought the can,” said my stepdaughter.

These books are easy to read, although the twistiness of the plot seems to be a bit contrived, these stories are worth the read.

Style Score: 3/5

Final Thoughts?

-I just wish Mercy could get the time to take a nap and shower and put on her own clothes!

Total Score and Recommendation

13/25- I will continue reading this series.  There is something I love about Mercy.

KayKay #CBR5 Review #14 Patternmaster by Octavia Butler

patternmaster

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

This is the last installment of the Seed To Harvest series (There is a fifth book, which is in the Patternmaster series, but not a part of the Seed to Harvest compilation).  The series has its highs (Mind of My Mind) and it’s lows (Wild Seed), where does Patternmaster fit in?  I thought it would be an epic showdown between Clayarks and Patternist, but Octavia Butler took this book in a different direction.  Here’s what I thought:

Plot

I expected a showdown between the Clayarks and Patternist, but the plot of this book circled around the struggle between Teray and Coransee.  These two brothers are the sons of the current Patternmaster (who is about to die) and his lead wife.  In fact, at the end, there was a one line note about how Teray killed “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of Clayarks, and that was it!  No showdown at all (Teray could just kill them with a thought, and once he linked with more patternist he had a pretty expansive range).

Plot Score: 3/5

Location, Location, Location

This was placed in a post-human world.  The only humans left are mutes that are controlled by Patternist.  The Clayark disease has pretty much wiped out humanity.  There are still ruins of civilization, but it’s a post-apocalyptic state.

Location Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships

Teray- All he wants is to be the head of his own house, and not someone else’s slave.  Unfortunately his brother is really working to ‘tame’ him.  He refuses to concede to his brother, although he is forced to give up his wife to his brother (but he has no problems finding and proposing to another woman).  The important thing about Teray is that he has strength (not as much as Coransee), and the ability to heal.

Coransee- All he wants is to take over as patternmaster, and he is prepared to subjugate his brother to do so.  He has more strength than anyone, but he is unable to heal.  He also is not that caring for the people in his house.  The mutes are being abused (which Teray deals with when he comes).  I was surprised that his character is presented as a jerk, but he does not kill his brother, despite repeated opportunities to do so.

Amber- The healer that Teray falls in love with (after his wife decides to stay with Coransee).  She was living with Coransee (although she was independent and not a member of his house).  She decides to leave with Teray, as Coransee is becoming too possessive.  She was a great tough chick, and wanted to be the head of her own house, and not someones lead wife.

Characters Score: 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

As always, there are several variations of families.  Coransee and Joachim run their houses in a different  manners (Coransee goes with strength, where as Joachim goes on compatibility).  And this book basically picks a replacement Patternmaster in Teray, since Coransee doesn’t have the right balance to lead the Patternist family.

Bigger Meaning Score: 3/5

Style

Opening Line: “Rayal had his lead wife, Jansee, with him on that last night.”

I love her writing style, but this book (and maybe this is due to the fact that this one was the first book she wrote in this series, although chronologically, it’s the last) left too many loose ends for me.  I liked when there are character threads between the books, Doro was apart of the first two, then Clay Dana was mentioned book 2 and 3, but I didn’t see any references to anyone I knew in book 4.

Style Score: 4/5

Final Thoughts? 

-If Rayal was blown up in the prologue, is that how he got the Clayark disease?  Did I miss something here?  At one point they were worrying about kids and laying in bed, then total destruction, then their grown sons are battling out to take over Rayals spot.

-It was a good character story, but I expected more action…

-I expected some bridge from when Mary became the first Patternmaster to Rayal (the current patternmaster).  I did not see any references to the earlier characters, did I miss something?

Total Score and Recommendation
16/25 – If you are in for the series then, you should finish with this book.

KayKay #CBR5 Review #13 Taming Fire by Aaron Pogue

Tamingfire

**SPOILER ALERT**

My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

It’s always an awkward time between books.  I normally start reading the next book as soon as I’m finished with the first one (unless the book is so powerful that it takes a few days to get out of my system).  I always like to have my escape from reality ready.  After reading another Octavia Butler story, I was not sure what book to pick up next.  I was looking for something with a little depth, and I ended up finding this book- Taming Fire.  Did it live up to my expectations?  Here’s what i thought:

Plot

Daven, the son of a thief, is recruited by Claighan, a wizard, to train at the wizards academy.  Claighan is worried about a dragonswarm attack, but human politics is gearing up for a war between lands.  Claighan feels that Daven, who is skilled at the sword, could be a weapon against the upcoming dragonswarm, if he can only get the people to move past their war.  A misstep by Claighan causes Daven to fall on the bad side of the king, but Daven continues to try to stop the war and save the king from assassination.

Plot Score: 4/5

Location, Location, Location

The book takes place over several locations.  Daven’s adventures start in a small farming village, move through several cities to a wizard school, then to a fishing village.  In this world, magic is real, and the dragons are coming.  The magic system in this book deals with using a persons force of will, and anyone can be taught magic.

Location Score: 3/5

Characters and Relationships

Daven- He was at turns cocky and fearful.  He didn’t get a chance to develop his powers much in this book (as it took him most of the book to get them), but I hope in the next installment he capitalizes on his skill.  Devans friend Themmi ends up telling him that he views Devan as a hero.  I get the admiration for Devan- as he overcomes a lot and keeps moving forward, but I was surprised that Themmi would go as far as to call him a hero.

Claighan- He’s like a bumbling wizard.  (Reminds me of the brown wizard in The Hobbit).  I wanted him to be a wise old wizard (like Dumbledore), but he was kind of odd, talking to himself all the time (never got a good reason for that behavior).  I am interested to hear his take on Daven’s adventures, but since Claighan was out of commission for a good part of the book, he didn’t get to mentor Devan.

Vech- The dragon was COOL.  I am hoping Vech and Daven have a relationship like the characters in ‘How to Train your dragon’.  Perhaps the dragonsswarm that is approaching can be a good thing!  (Doubt it!)

Characters Score:  3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

The importance of conquering your fears.  Devan always felt afraid (and we hear about his fear too much), but he always works through it.  It’s like the quote that the hero isn’t a hero because he’s never afraid, but he’s a hero because he acts despite his fear.

Bigger Meaning Score: 3/5

Style

Opening Line: On a pretty spring day early in the month of Korhah, I stood with sword in hand on a grassy hillside and faced a tall and angry opponent.  

I thought the writing was a little too descriptive for my personal taste, I found myself skim reading to get to the movement in the plot.  And I must say, I was sick of reading about Daven’s fear.  I get it- he’s ALWAYS scared.  I did not like to be reminded of it every other paragraph.

Style Score: 2/5

Final Thoughts?

– I’m hoping in the next book, Devan grows some balls and stops being so afraid of everything.

– I’m hoping that Devan will become friends with Vech…I’m wondering if “Dragon Prince” is foreshadowing of his relationship in the future.

Total Score and Recommendation
15/25- The plot carries this book, and I am planning on reading the next one.