Friday, September 30, 2011

September '11

The Emperor of Nihon-JaThe Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan

Ebook, 438 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great book. I don't know if it is the last Ranger's Apprentice or not, but if it is, it ends on a very good note.

We basically get a taste of Japanese culture here. In some ways, greco-roman military themes and japanese samurai/bushido ideals were simplified to the point of losing what made each great, but it had to be done to appeal to a YA audience and so that the plot could advance. This is a novel after all, not a comparative on military types.

This is where Flanagan should end this series. It is on a high note and will leave a good taste in the readers mouth. I could see him starting another series following the further adventures of Will and Horace and wives, or a different YA series where Will and Horace have moved into the place that Halt occupied in The Ruins of Gorlan.

Either way, this whole series was fantastic. For those leery of magic, but wanting a relatively gore-free medieval read, this is it. Sadly, profanity started creeping in in the last few books, so I suggest a review if you are wondering about these for your kids.

WintertideWintertide by Michael J. Sullivan

Ebook, 332 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very good addition to the Riyria Revelations series. [do you know difficult it is to remember how to spell Riyria everytime? I usually try about 4 different ways, then give up and copy and paste :)]

This definitely was a much tenser books than the previous 4. Where the other ones were more happy go lucky and madcap capers, this felt tighter, darker and a bit more serious. I didn't get the feeling that everything was going to turn out ok somehow in the end, like the others.

Now I can't wait for the final book. And I can't wait to see what the Boojum actually is...

A Crown of Swords (Wheel of Time, #7)A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan

Ebook, 896 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read September 2000
Read September 2011

September 2011 Review:

This is a very hard book to review, for me.

On one hand, I loved the introduction of yet another baddy-Moridin, of Lain and Nynaeve finally getting hitched, of Rand taking down another Forsaken, new One Power tools, more info about the True Power[even if extremely measily], and the gholam.

On the other hand, I didn't like the constant bickering between Men and Women. I didn't like the cliffhanger about Matt[even though I can read the next book next month], I didn't like that there was very little about Egwene[as I remember. There may have been and it got washed away in the deluge of other info? Feel free to correct me].

Overall, a fantastic read. It just seems that the characters are very immature for the amount of hardship they have gone through/endured. I know they are young, late teens, early 20's, but hard experiences tend to either make one grow up or kill you.

So You Want to Be a Wizard (digest): Young Wizards, Book OneSo You Want to Be a Wizard (digest): Young Wizards, Book One by Diane Duane

Ebook, 408 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to start? It is definitely aimed at the children crowd, and not children AND adutls. Some YA novels can do that. Not this.

A young girl and boy find a Wizards Primer, take an oath, and Presto-Chango, they are wizards. THEN they have to save the world, all by themselves.

That is what I had a problem with. 2 young kids face the ultimate baddy and where are the senior wizards? Do they even exist? That is fine for a kids book, appeals to them in fact. But it was just too unbelievable for me to stomach. Will not be reading any more in this series.

WWW:WatchWWW:Watch by Robert J. Sawyer
Ebook, 368 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can deal with an author who believes in Evolution.

[which from a philosophical standpoint doesn't actually make sense. The language used when talking about evolution is the same type of language used for a deity. That says all I need to know].

However, when someone starts using disparaging/abusive language about those who don't agree with their viewpoint, then we have an issue.

Go read Darwin's Black Box for a good look at why "Evolution" isn't the god some seem to think it is.

Emerging minds. AI, human, animal. Sawyer seems to like the idea of consciousness and what makes it. But he can't explain it, so he gives us the run around with scientific jargon and expects the reader to be blown away and not question what he extrapolates from fuzzy science.

Plotwise, this book was kind of blase. Webmind goes public, govt's are fearful and the young female lead keeps on saying how 1984 can't be. And the author shows a couple of people making good choices and using that to "prove" that humanity can bootstrap itself to a better "all togetherness".

Won't be reading the final book.

The New Age Movement and the Illuminati 666The New Age Movement and the Illuminati 666 by William Josiah Sutton

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ok, I only got through chapter 1, but both parts!

And I had 3 pages of handwritten notes of things that were either misuse of scriptures, speculation with no historical basis, historical "facts" based on outdated and 3rd hand sources, info dumps that simply confused the issue at hand, choosing to ignore certain sources when they conflicted with the authors own opinion and general fear-mongering in tone and language.

The author even admits, on page 63, for it is still not clear this number of doom, 666, will keep God's people from buying and selling. Now if he doesn't have an answer, why is he confusing the answer by throwing more chaff into the maelstrom of this subject?

Now, if this man wanted to simply speculate, I would simply have ignored this book and gone on about my life. However, he purports to be a "Christian Authority" and as such is invoking much greater weight than he actually has.

For a couple of new Christians in our church, this book brought nothing but guilt, condemnation and fear. It did not draw them nearer to Jesus or to create in them the desire to be more Christ-like. 2nd Timothy 1:7 states for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. ESV

That is damning enough for me.

Feel free to read for fun, but as a serious theological book, this is a joke and gives Christians a bad name.

Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Ebook, 239 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I classified this as "Urban Fantasy", but after thinking about it, I think it really comes down more in the "Para-normal" camp.

I hate & despise paranormal.

But a couple of my guy friends here on GR had given it high scores, so I had to try it.

It was ok. Atticus came across as a 200 year old badass, not some 2100 year old. I don't know if having the hormones and body of a 21 year old for 2000+ years does that to one, or what, but he did NOT seem that old.

Someone that old is going to have scars, emotional and mental, that can't just be shrugged off and ignored. Maybe it came from his usually running away? But if that were the case, he wouldn't have fought like he did in this book.

So a pretty good story. I definitely would have given it 4 stars, but for all the beautiful women who just can't seem to ignore him. It was completely ridiculous. Utterly gratuitous descriptions of goddesses & boink-worthy barmaids added nothing to the story and in fact detracted from the seriousness of the situation.

We'll see how the rest of the trilogy turns out.

T2: The Future WarT2: The Future War by S.M. Stirling

DTB, 368 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a strong finish to the series. Not so nitty-gritty and one on one battles like the earlier two books [which is what we like, Mano E Terminatoro?], but a really good overall story about John becoming John Connor the great leader.
I personally enjoyed reading about Judgement Day and the immediate events before and after. The end was a bit rushed, with '4 Years Later', '7 Years Later', etc frequently popping up, but Stirling was not trying to encompass the whole war, just the beginning and the end.
What I really liked was the realization that everyone, terminators, Reese and Uncle Bob, all went through the time machine within minutes of each other. It wasn't a protracted, multiple time event. Time travel happened once, then that was it. Certainly makes it easier to understand the movies, even if it does go against the Comics canoninicalness.[which I don't think is even a real word.]

MechMech by B.V. Larson

Ebook, 328 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was disappointed. I was hoping for a mech battle or something, along the lines of what Neal Asher does.

What I got was a recopy of Vang, The Military Form, but with more POV's to break the story up[which was NOT a good thing]. Copied stuff even down to the Two Ancient Races who destroyed each other thing. And the Mech? I'm not even sure what Mech the author was talking about!

It was just such a copy that I was extremely distracted. And Vang was published back in the '80's. and is WAY cooler.

Mech 2Mech 2 by B.V. Larson

Ebook, 252 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Where Mech 1 was so distracting because of its plagairism of Vang: The Military Form, this book showed the weakness of the author. Weakness of ideas and execution.
The Mechs referred to in the title are side characters, barely there and almost sideshows. The main characters are ok, but how they are handled was not at all polished. One moment they are acting one way and then 2 chapters later they are acting in such a way that would be impossible for them if how they had been 2 chapters earlier was true. Almost like the author just made his characters be what he needed at that moment without either thinking it through or caring about continuity.
Then the side characters. A cowardly gypsy [Vlax Romani? come on], a psycho mech and the stupid Tulk Phryxx. And a bimbo and her new lover. It was a kaleidoscope of ridiculousness. I would call it a farce, but it obviously wasn't meant to be.
Then the plot. A ship that propels itself by lighting off nukes under? The invasion was almost pretty good, but it just lacked that oomph, that something to make you feel threatened.

In finish. I will not be reading any more by this author and do not recommend that you start. Like I said in my review of Mech, go read Vang: The Military Form for some really cool bio-aliens invading.

NeuromancerNeuromancer by William Gibson

Ebook, 288 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What the frack? No wonder Cyberpunk died out. Japan rules the world and everyone is on drugs or about to kill someone.

What It is Like to Go to WarWhat It is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes

DTB, 256 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good book, and I agreed with the author's overall assessment of the spiritual in regards to the armed forces.
But in specifics we definitely differed. Given that he is a rhodes scholar and a vietnam vet, while I'm a Fairwood Bible School graduate and a land surveyor, I'm not surprised :D
This book epitomized why I don't read that much non-fiction. I wanted to take notes upon notes for each chapter-why I agreed, why I disagreed, what I thought was good, what I thought was bad. And when I read, I want to escape life, not keep on fighting.
I think enough. I don't need more things to think about :D

The Legions of FireThe Legions of Fire by David Drake

Ebook, 368 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While this was supposed to be a romping fantasy, several items really detracted from my enjoyment of it.
1: This was a Lord of the Isles remix[which I loved by the way], with several character types and personalities mixed around a bit and a very blase badguy. I was hoping for something original, but it felt like David Eddings The Tamuli, formulaic regurgitated rehash.
2: several sexual situations that added nothing but titillation to the story. They weren't necessary and it really felt like the story became gutter worthy because of them.
3: Snappy thoughts/comebacks. Too much, too many all the time. Nobody is always clever. Nobody.
So I can't really recommend this series unless you are in love with Drake and his style of writing fantasy. If you are in love with him, you'll probably eat this up and ask for more...

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Kingdoms, #1)Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Ebook, 336 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Complete and utter over the top brutality and selfishness. The main character simply does things to spite others. While you might have felt sympathy for him because of the horrible history he had, he uses that history to grow his hate and rage to commit as great, or even greater atrocities, thus becoming a ravening beast inspiring hatred and rage in others, and thus continuing an ever-downward spiral.

I will not be reading any more by this author.

Into the Storm (Destroyermen Series #1)Into the Storm by Taylor Anderson

Ebook, 400 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had no idea what this series was about, hadn't even read a blurb, before I started it.

So I was under the impression it was about super robots, or mecha, or ninja's or something. I mean, come on, Destroyermen? Sounds like an army of unstoppable killer thingies to me!

Little did I know I was wandering into the dark of Alt-History. Shudder.

However, it turned out ok. It was an interesting story, but it seemed a little too easier for them to solve their supply problems. The Spectre of Bestiality raises its ugly head, and that was one reason I only gave this 3 stars instead of 4.

I am looking forward to more in this series.

CrusadeCrusade by Taylor Anderson

Ebook, 400 Pages
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was blown away.

This is a non-stop, seat of your pants, drag me along action sequence. It was exactly what I needed to de-stress today.

I was dragged along the emotional ups and downs right along with Cap'n Matt. Don't know why things resonated so, but I felt a real connection with his battle with despair against impossible odds.

As for the bestiality hinted at in the previous books, it is expounded on slightly in this book. I realized though, that it wasn't really talking about bestiality, because these are sentient creatures, and it IS sailors we are reading about. We'll have to wait and see how cross-species interaction works out. Definitely not over the top or lewd. It is just taking into account how deprived sailors, with no women, would react to females of another sentient species.

Hourglass DoorHourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

Ebook, 400 Pages
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Girl is not satisfied with almost perfect boyfriend. He is too "predictable". Enter the bad boy, who isn't actually bad, and can't do anything physically to the girl because of some ridiculously made up "rules".

Throw in a generous dash of the badboy telling the girl how "special" and "perfect" she is and you get this confectionary of girly fantasy.

The Eternal Champion (Eternal Champion, #1)The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock

DTB, 484 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Comprising 3 novels and 1 short story, this begins the lore of the multi-verse and the Eternal Champion.
2 stories deal with Erekose, 1 with a Von Bek and the short story deals with Tanelorn.

The Erekose stories were enjoyable as a foundation to the other Eternal Champion incarnations, and made the glimpses we see of Erekose in Elric and Corum that much deeper.

The Von Bek storyline dealt with the multiverse and the tone was scifi/psychological and didn't really fit, in my opinion. Also didn't seem to fit in with Moorcock's Law, Chaos and the Great Balance schtick.

Definitely would recommend as a start before Elric or Corum. Even though it definitely would give spoilers for those 2 characters.

Pantheon (Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith, #7)Pantheon by John Jackson Miller

Ebook, 34 Pages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

17 Novels
1 Short Story
1 Unfinished Novel
6595 Pages