Monthly Archives: January 2014

KayKay #CBR6 Review #06 The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

TheWretchedofMuirwood 

First off, I just realized my titles have been labeled CRB instead of CBR (duh!) I am definitely to lazy to go back and change the past ones.  But I will try to be more cautious in my proofreading.

Now, down to business.  I’m not sure what prompted me to pick up this book, Amazon kept recommending it to me, the premise sounded decent and I easily read through the sample.  Since the book was only 2.99 I went ahead and bought it (I’ve wasted more on worse books).  I was not disappointed.  I can say that I finished it in a day (not necessarily because it was so fantastic, but I had a lot of reading time on my hands), but it did keep me interested.  I will probably be reading the next one.  I am going to give this book 3 stars.

Here’s a breakdown…

**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!

Plot

Lia, left on the doorstep of an abbey, is a ‘wretched’, she has no family, but is taken in by the abbey to work.  She and one other girl is raised by the cook.  It’s hard work, but she is warm and cared for.  Her biggest complaint is that she is unable to learn to read.  She ends up risking everything to help a rebellion against the evil king.  She has control of a magic force (The Medium) and secretly saves the day.

Plot Score: 3/5 

Characters

Lia- She is a head strong main character who makes her own choices and believes she is smart enough to either avoid getting caught or that she can weather the punishment.  She has unprecedented control of The Medium, which is a magical force that allows her to control fire, read people’s minds, move mountains, etc. etc.

Colvin- a maston (the people who learn how to control The Medium) who Lia helps join the rebellion against the evil king.  This guy was rude 90% of the book.  Eventually he warms up to Lia, but it’s almost an unnatural transition.  (One day he barely tolerates her, the next day he trusts her…)

Characters Score: 3/5

World Building

The concept of The Medium is what bothered me the most.  I kept thinking this is probably some analogy for Jesus (and I see the author is a leader in his church).  There was a theme that you needed to ‘trust’ The Medium, that it will take care of you, if you just have faith, blah blah blah.  As an atheist I didn’t want the book to go into that ‘trust in the unseen’ realm, and to be honest, it did that a little too much.  Not enough to stop me from reading the next book, but I got an eye out in case it gets too ‘preachy’.

World Building Score: 2/5

Style

There were sections that I thought were a bit YA.  Sometimes when books are YA, I feel like a sense of depth is missing, and that was a problem in this book.  I thought there was lacking in the complexity of the characters and the characters growth was abrupt.

I normally highlight parts of the book that I think are clever and interesting, but I had nothing highlighted in this book.

Style Score : 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

None

Life Lessons Score:  0/5 

Final Thoughts?

-I’d like to know who Lia’s parents are…and why the heck can’t she learn to read!

Total Score and Recommendation

11/25- If you need a easy to read filler book, this was an enjoyable story.

KayKay #CRB6 Review #05 Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

 PrinceofThorns

I can not say how much praise I have heard about this book, and how many times I’ve picked up the sample and not finished it.  Finally, and with determination, I set out to at least finish the sample.  This time I finished the sample and the entire book, and I’m glad I did.  The beginning is a bit violent (rape, murder, etc. etc.) but the rest of the book didn’t feel as extreme.  Prince Jorg is definitely an anti-hero, but I still cheered for him.  I enjoyed this book enough to pick up the second.  I am going to give this book 4 stars.

Here’s a breakdown…

**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!

Plot

As a child, Prince Jorg was with his mother and brother when they are ambushed.  Prince Jorg was thrown into a briar patch (hence the ‘Prince of Thorns’ title) which bleed him almost dry.  Helplessly he watched his mom and brother die.  After his father did not get the proper punishment from the king responsible for their deaths (Count Renar), Jorg takes it upon himself to hunt the man down and kill him himself.  Jorg travels around making mischief with his ‘brothers’ (a rough band of outlaws) – this little detour in his purpose was caused by a curse put on him by Corion (a man in Renars service).  He returns home to his father who is remarried, gives him an impossible challenge, and when Jorg completes the challenge, his father attempts to stab him.  When Jorg recovers he leaves and is able to kill Corion and Renar and take over that kingdom.  Oh yeah, all by his 15th birthday.

Plot Score: 4/5 

Characters

Jorg- (son and heir of King Olidan of the House of Ancrath) Jorg’s philosophy seems to be that he can win because he will sacrifice anything (family, friends, etc.) to win (“I’d lived a life striking blows that cut two ways”).  He has the brothers around him, but he plays them like pawns, even the ones he likes the most.  Which isn’t saying much, because he doesn’t allow himself to get close to anyone.  In the end we find a lot of his personality was driven by a curse put on him by Corion, but it’s hard to tell who he really is…

The Nuban- The most memorable brother (at least to me), Jorg rescues him from being tortured on the day he leaves his fathers kingdom.  He is quiet, wise and black (yeah!), but dies (boo!) – of course he is sacrificed by Jorg in a battle.  Prince Jorg once said “[The Nuban] never argued for the sake of being right.  I liked that in him.”

Makin- Captain Makin Bortha of the Ancrath Imperial Guard, sent to find Jorg when he leaves, and ends up roaming the countryside with him.

The Brothers- I can’t keep all these guys straight, one is worse (by the way of trade) than the next.  They are randomly killed in Jorg’s misadventures.  Some survive, and after Corion’s curse is lifted, Jorg does promise them knighthood.

Characters Score: 4/5

World Building

So, the mystery of this world, is that it’s our world.  There is mention of Socrates and other philosophers.  The Nuban is a black man, as a boy Jorg’s tutor is Asian (and has knowledge of pain points, etc.)  But, it seems to be a post apocalyptic world.  An event called ‘Day of a Thousand Suns’ (a nuclear war) has wiped out ‘The Builders’ (us) and now there is a broken land with several kings and no emperor (I assume this is rectified in the third book called ‘Emperor of Thorns’).

At one point Jorg comes into contact with a computer with artificial intelligence, who is asking him for his name and password, which is so out of sorts in this medieval setting.  Prince Jorg’s response is “My name is Honorous Jorg Ancarth, my password is divine right.  Now open the fecking door.” LOL.

World Building Score: 5/5

Style

I enjoyed this writing, it was easy to read and it moves along quickly.  I’m glad it was from Prince Jorg’s perspective (otherwise we wouldn’t know of what drives him).  The flashbacks were handled well, as they are scattered throughout the book, and add to the story line and aren’t a distraction from the present.

Style Score : 4/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

Jorg’s Words of Wisdom:

“War is a thing of beauty, as I’ve said before, and those who say otherwise are losing.”

“Churchmen, eh? Love one minute, forgiveness the next, and then it’s eternity on fire.”

“In the end it’s about staying power.  They should put that on headstones, “Got tired.””

Life Lessons Score:  1/5 

Final Thoughts?

-I’m curious to know what was Jorg’s personality vs. Corion’s influence.  I assume we will learn more in the next book

-Will Jorg have a relationship with his aunt by marriage – Katherine?  He doesn’t seem the type…

Total Score and Recommendation

18/25- If you like a good anti-hero, then you should enjoy this.

KayKay #CRB6 Review #04 Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

 RedSkiesUnderRedSeas

Red Seas Under Red Skies is the second book in the Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch.  (Spoiler Alert on the first book) Locke has barely escaped alive from the first book, and not with out staggering losses in the friend division.  He and Jean have left Camorr and have landed in Tal Verrar to continue their gentlemanly thievery.  I enjoyed this book enough to pick up the third.  I believe I gave the first book 3 stars, I’m going to give this one 4 stars.

Here’s a breakdown…

**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!

Plot

Locke and Jean are in Tal Verrar to steal from Requin, who runs a huge casino and bank.  They are being hunted by the Bondsmage (who want revenge for what the did to the Falconer).  They are then poisoned by Maxilan Stragos (the warload of Tal Verrar) and pressed into his service.  Stragos wants them to start a naval war so his navy can once again be critical to the city, and sends Locke and Jean to the sea so they can get the pirates to attack the city.  Locke and Jean end up being taken by the pirates and finding a temporary home working with them (Pirates are the thieves of the sea).  Locke and Jean pull of their thievery of Requin, but find instead of valuable art work, they got knock offs.  They also kill Stragos, but are left with the poison in their bodies and only one vial of antidote, which Locke gives to Jean.

Plot Score: 4/5 

Characters

Locke- after the loss of his friends, Jean really has to pull him out of a funk.  Locke is not intent on building another gang, but he does want to continue stealing.  He always seems to be flying by the seat of his pants.  I never know if he’s going to make it or not (other than the fact that there is a third book and it can’t go on without Locke).  Even when things don’t look they are going well, Locke is committed to see things thru to the bitter end.

Jean- In this book Jean falls in love.  She was a pirate, and his soul mate.  And as I was reading I was hoping against all hope that Scott Lynch would not pull a George RR Martin and make us fall in love with a character and then kill her!  Of course he did, so I’m not sure what’s in store for Jean in book 3, but I don’t think it can have a completely happy ending.

Sabetha- The mysterious member of the Gentleman’s Bastards.  So far we just hear whispers about her, innuendos concerning her and Locke.  The next book she is a big player, so I hope this wraps up some story lines.

Characters Score: 4/5

World Building

This book build on the word that the author has done so well to create.  I enjoyed the time on the sea as pirates, but I didn’t understand most of the nautical terms used.

World Building Score: 5/5

Style

I still feel there are several passages that were unnecessary or could be shortened.

I *really* wished this book could have been in first person.  Locke is such an interesting character, I would love for the story to be from his perspective, and perhaps alternate with Jean.

Knowing the characters and the writing style made the second one easier to read.

Style Score : 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

Words of Wisdom:
“If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.”

Life Lessons Score:  1/5 

Final Thoughts?

Total Score and Recommendation

17/25- If you enjoyed reading book one, you should definitely read this one.

KayKay #CRB6 Review #03 Ink (The Paper Gods) by Amanda Sun

ink

Minute Review

I picked up this book after seeing someone put it on their favorite list for 2013.  Science Fiction set in Japan with Ink gods, sounded like a good concept.  After I purchased the book, I noticed the following two words: Harlequin TEEN.  Unfortunately, it lived up to those words, ending up being a silly teenage romance novel.  I give it 2 (of 5) stars.

Click on the book cover for a link to the Amazon site for this book.

Here’s a breakdown…

**SPOILERS BELOW**

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!

Plot

Katie Greene moves to Japan to live with her aunt in the wake of her mothers death.  She falls in love with a boy who is ‘dangerous’, and he falls in love with her.  He has some special power of being able to make his ink pictures come to life, and when she’s around he loses control.

Plot Score: 3/5

Characters

Katie-I couldn’t stand this character.  She was alternatively a complete wimp and boldly in love.  She was the type of character who freezes up when situations occur.  The whole premise of her relationship starts when she watches him break up with another girl (who she knew he cared about).  And she immediately starts following him around.  Stalk much?

Tomohiro- Breaks up with one girl because he is too dangerous, and immediately starts seeing another girl.

Characters Score: 1/5

World Building

The setting for this book was Japan, and the author used a lot of Japanese words (all in a context where you could understand them).  The description of the cherry blossoms sounded beautiful. The only other book I’ve read based in Japan (that I can remember) is Memoirs of a Geisha.  That story really delves into the culture of that country in a way that this one does not.

World Building Score: 2/5

Style

I thought there was a lot of inconsistency in the main character.  If you read this book you will see lines like this:

“I saw it in your eyes, how you really felt”

“there’ll always be a hole in your heart.  You don’t have to fill it”
“Tomohiro was drawn to me because I was weak”

The other issue I had with this story is how Katie doesn’t speak Japanese, and sometimes she will say that, and other times she follows and participates in complex conversations.

Skim reading?  A lot of skim reading was required just to make it through

Style Score : 2/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

Don’t read anything labeled Harlequin TEEN

Life Lessons Score:  0/5 

Final Thoughts?

– I finished this book a week ago and have forgotten it already

Total Score and Recommendation

8/25- I would recommend this for teen girls who are into this type of stuff

KayKay #CRB6 Review #02 The Lost Fleet: Dauntless by Jack Campbell

Dauntless

Minute Review

After reading The Fault in Our Stars I was going to start Tell the Wolves I’m Home, but I needed a break from death.  Instead I read The Lost Fleet, which is military sci fi.  This book is about Black Jack Geary, a military legend who supposedly went down with his ship.  One Hundred years later, a military fleet found him in a survival pod.  The fleet that found him ended up deep in enemy territory and after an unfortunate event with the fleet commander, Black Jack must take over and get them home. I give it 3 (of 5) stars.

Click on the book cover for a link to the Amazon site for this book.

Here’s a breakdown…

**SPOILERS BELOW**

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!

Plot

Everyone thought John Geary went down with his ship, while holding off the enemy long enough for the rest of his fleet to get away.  He was able to escape in the ships survival pod, which was damaged so it didn’t send a signal. After being found 100 years later, he realizes that since his death he was promoted to captain and made into the legend ‘Black Jack Geary’.  Uncomfortable with that, he was happy to hide in his stateroom until the fleet arrived back home, but there was a confrontation with the Syndics and the fleet commander dies, leaving Jack in charge.  In addition to the military strategy involved, there are a lot of politics around having someone, out of touch with current military strategy, take over the fleet.

Plot Score: 3/5

Characters

John Geary- He reminded a bit of John Carter (minus the ego), the hero who can get out of any situation.  He was even perfect in his uncertainty and his treatment of his staff.  I liked that we got to see his self doubt and that he knew he wasn’t perfect (although, let’s admit, he was pretty perfect).

Characters Score: 3/5

World Building

This is a future world where humans have populated more of the universe.  They have split up into the Alliance and the Syndics.  The Syndics are  “A corporate state run by dictators who call themselves servants of the people they enslave.  The free worlds of the Alliance were a constant threat to the dictators of the Syndicate Worlds, living examples that representative government and civil liberties could coexist with greater security and prosperity than the Syndics could ever dream of. ”

There is a war going on between the two groups, and at this point, no one remembers exactly why it started.  The war is at a stalemate, neither group able to win.

World Building Score: 3/5

Style

There was a lot of talk about light speed and time delays, that I didn’t completely follow (required too much brain power for a fictional story).

Skim reading scale (0-5: 5 = no skim reading):   4- I only skim read the more technical aspects of the story.

Style Score : 3/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

“This fleet fights for victory, not pride.  It is held together by honor and courage, the belief in what we fight for and the belief in each other.  Pride is nothing by itself.  Nothing but a weapon in our enemy’s hands, a weapon he will gladly use to help bring about our destruction.”

Life Lessons Score:  3/5 

Final Thoughts?

– Will the war ever end?

-Is there non-human intelligent life?

-Will the fleet make it home?

-Even though the ‘star’ of the book is Black Jack, there were several women in high positions.

Total Score and Recommendation

15/25- Enjoyable read.  I’m not sure if I will read the next one, but I think it’s a good back up book

KayKay #CRB6 Review #01 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The fault in our stars

Minute Review

I’m a little behind in reading this book, but to be honest, I’m not entertained by stories of immense sadness (the holocaust, slavery, kids dying, etc.).  The title intrigued me, as it’s a play on the Shakespeare quote “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves”.  This book is basically about two witty teens dying from cancer.  Their entire situation is the evidence that “there is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars.”  I thought it was well written and an interesting portrayal of the life of Professional Sick Kids, I give it 3 (of 5) stars.

Click on the book cover for a link to the Amazon site for this book.

Here’s a breakdown…

**SPOILERS BELOW**

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!

Characters

Hazel- The story is told from her point of view.  She is dying of an incurable type of cancer, so through out the book her journey is never about hope for a cure, but for treatment to extend her life.  Her take on her situation is mature, and doesn’t want Augustus (Gus) to fall in love with her because she doesn’t want him to be hurt when she dies.

Augustus- When Hazel meets him, he is cancer free.  However, during their relationship (did I say SPOILER ALERT?  stop reading now if you don’t want to know) his cancer comes back and he actually dies before she does.  He has a strong desire to be a hero and for his life to be meaningful.  I actually wondered if he loved Hazel because he wanted to do good (he fell so quickly for her…)

Isaac- Their friend from support group (which is Literally in the Heart of Jesus!).  He starts with one eye, but loses the second to cancer, but he was more upset about his girlfriend breaking up with him before losing his second eye (she didn’t want to break up with him when he was blind.)

Characters Score: 3/5

Plot

There isn’t much going on here.  The book centers around two kids, dying from cancer, who fall in love.  They have several witty conversations and share an intelligence and sense of humor.  They are both intrigued by the same book- An Imperial Affliction (AIA) (about a girl dying of cancer) and use Gus’s wish to travel to Amsterdam to see the author.  The author ends up being a miserable drunk, since the book (AIA) is based on his own daughter who died of cancer at a young age.

Plot Score: 3/5

World Building

I thought the author did a good job of capturing the world of a Professional Sick Person.  From the Cancer Perks and changing relationships (“I think my school friends wanted to help me through my cancer, but they eventually found out that they couldn’t.  For one thing, there was no through”) to the effect they have on others (“I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow”), it seemed authentic.

World Building Score: 3/5

Style

I enjoyed the witty conversation between the main characters.  Some of my favorite lines:

“And I wondered if hurdlers ever though, you know, This would go faster if we just got rid of the hurdles”

“Without pain, how can we know joy…but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate.”

“That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt”

“The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed:  It was past eight thirty and still light”

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you.  I like my choices. I hope she likes hers”

Style Score : 4/5

Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)

There is definitely a lesson of enjoying your own infinity.

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.  A writer we used to like taught us that.  There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set.  I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got.  But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

There is also an exploration of what makes life meaningful:

“You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me.  I know about you.”

Life Lessons Score:  3/5 

Final Thoughts?

-I didn’t find much enjoyment in reading about kids dying of cancer.

-I kept thinking this book would end mid-sentence the way AIA ends, which story lines hanging.

Total Score and Recommendation

16/25- It’s not a bad book, just not one that I find entertaining.