Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: Star Wars: The Old Republic: Annihilation


Star Wars: The Old Republic: Annihilation
Star Wars: The Old Republic: Annihilation by Drew Karpyshyn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



This was on par with Fatal Alliance in terms of overall enjoyment.

I was disappointed with how the Jedi leader, the Army commander and the main character all interacted. Trained professionals, all 3, but they acted like me when my blood sugar is dangerously low, ie, EXTREMELY STUPID. It just didn't fit.

I liked the whole super-bad-ship takedown part though.



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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: The Portrait of a Lady


The Portrait of a Lady
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Take a Jane Austen story in its infancy, spirit it away to the wrong side of the tracks, feed it crack and at 13, whore it out.

And that is what I felt this story was like.

James writing was so dense, so opaque, so much meaning hidden between the lines that I simply gave up trying to appreciate it and just slogged on through to get the bones of the story.

And I'm still not sure exactly what happened, or why.

I think the basic gist is of a young woman bent on not marrying, but who ends up marrying, regretting it and then at the end being taken by a man who wanted to marry her in the past?.

And other stuff dealing with family, fidelity and control.

The writing itself. Like I said, I gave up trying to pierce the veil James put up between me and the story, but I still appreciated the writing. It was well thought out. It was complex, complicated and correct. While I don't particularly like being left in the dark, at least James didn't try to sink down to the "common denominator" way of writing. His writing made me strive after something.

And we all occasionally need books like that.



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Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Heirs of the Blade


Heirs of the Blade
Heirs of the Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I have enjoyed this series, Shadows of the Apt, since the beginning. A couple of the books were kind of meh, but overall, I have had nothing but solid enjoyment from Tchaikovsky.

This book follows Che, Tynisa and the Wasp Empress [Seda?] on their journeys. Che and Seda are somehow linked due to the Slug Lord magic and Che must come to grips with the fact that she exists in the world of magic. Tynisa is possessed by her father Tisamon's ghost to fill his dreams of death in fighting.

A good story of fighting, self-discovery and magic. A great story of societal changes, turning back the clock while marching forward in time.

I have the first 5 books in the PYR imprint. Then they dropped him for one reason or another. Haven't gotten the courage up to buy the other books in a different paper format. I will eventually though, this series is worth it.



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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Eyes Wide Open


Eyes Wide Open
Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



Once again, for the final time for me, Dekker disappoints. We get some weakwilled teens who must decide what is real.

From a theological perspective, Dekker vanilla'fies his theology so much [so as not to be preachy and turn off non-christians would be my guess] that I'm not sure if he's talking about Christianity or some sort of Zen-Buddhism/New Age/Love Yourself thing.

So while I've enjoyed Dekker's past books, his recent books just don't do it for me.



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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: The Blight of Muirwood


The Blight of Muirwood
The Blight of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



A good second book in this trilogy.

It is becoming obvious that this world is an After Judgment, Different World than ours. And this world is due for it's Noah's Flood.

Plotwise, there is some succession "stuff" going on with another Wretched being the heir. And that messes around with Lia's emotions as Colver is involved.

This was much more romance'y than the first book. We find out a LOT more about how the medium works and lots of spiritual background. Pretty cool stuff.

Then comes the end and we find out Lia is actually the lost heir, and that a Blight [in the form of a plague that is 100% deadly] is coming to punish everyone for forsaking the ways of the medium.

I am impressed with Mr. Wheeler's writing.



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Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Time Bomb and Zahndry Others


Time Bomb and Zahndry Others
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others by Timothy Zahn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I remember tearing through Zahn's short story collections back in the 90's. I was an impressionable teen coming of age who loved star wars, scifi and videogames [X-Com: Terror from the Deep was the epitome of awesomeness].

Zahn's writing was clean, tight, introducing new ideas to me and great for discussions. I had another friend who also loved Zahn and we'd spend hours discussing the stories, the ramifications, etc, etc.

So I am thankful to Mr. Zahn for showing me good technical writing. [unlike some of the drek produced by "indies" today].

That all being said, the stories have paled with time. The ideas written about have been bandied about by many others since this was originally published.

Still recommended for ANY fan of Zahn's or those who enjoy S/F short story collections.



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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review: The Story of the Stone


The Story of the Stone
The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



As wonderful as the first book was, this was a bit of a let down. I certainly enjoyed the read, it just didn't pack quite the same punch as [b:Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was|15177|Bridge of Birds A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was|Barry Hughart|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327940289s/15177.jpg|958087].

Li and Ox have to deal with a long dead sadist prince. In the process they find some "kind of lost" souls, go through the 10 layers of chinese hell, do their typical wenching and eating thing, and finish things up nice and neat.



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Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Doom of the Darksword


Doom of the Darksword
Doom of the Darksword by Margaret Weis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



So you all thought Edward, from that wretched Twilight, was the original "Dark and Moody"?

Joram, and the little innocent girly, are the gag-worthy successor of Romeo and Juliet, and the precursors of Edward and Bella.

The story overall screams "Generic Fantasy". So you'll enjoy it but not be blown away. Kind of like a hamburger at McDonalds. It is "food". Good thing this is only a trilogy.



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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: The Outcasts


The Outcasts
The Outcasts by John Flanagan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I really enjoyed this, just not quite as much as [b:The Ruins of Gorlan|60400|The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1)|John Flanagan|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1293952830s/60400.jpg|810498].

But I suspect that is mostly because I've had 10 books of Mr. Flanagan and have become accustomed to him.

A good story of an underdog, who when he totally fails at the end, takes a huge step towards maturity by setting out on a journey to make it right.



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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Review: California Hit


California Hit
California Hit by Don Pendleton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Either I am getting jaded [which isn't out of the realm of possibility] or these books are getting namby-pamby.

No more guts, guns, knives and blood. Now we get boring "he shot the badguy" kind of description.

The Oomph seems to have gone out of the series. I've got up through volume 20 in my Calibre library and if the series picks up, I'll probably seek out later volumes in paper.



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Monday, April 08, 2013

Review: The Daylight War


The Daylight War
The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

My rating: 1 of 5 stars



I absolutely loved [b:The Warded Man|3428935|The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1)|Peter V. Brett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1354571949s/3428935.jpg|6589794] and really enjoyed [b:The Desert Spear|6736971|The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle, #2)|Peter V. Brett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320389818s/6736971.jpg|6527274]. However, the Krasian culture turned me off, so I went into this read with some real trepidation, but determined to enjoy it.

I almost stopped right at the beginning as we get the backstory of Inevera, Jardir's first wife. We get the seamy side of the Krasian culture rubbed into our faces, in a very smelly, graphic way.

Then the story switches to "present" time and back to Arlen and I enjoyed that.

Then we have a back and forth between The Desert Spear and Cutter's Hollow. The contrast made my disgust all the more intense.

Lots of graphicness when it comes to sex in this novel. It didn't add anything and left me feeling dirty. The training of the dama'ting, Leesha and Jardir's relationship, Jardir and Inevera's relationship, Leesha and others, Fiddle-man [I can't even remember his name] and his two wives. The merchant friend of Jardir who's wives, daughters and servants are raped by another warrior.

Every time I felt like I was getting into the plot [and I enjoyed the story overall], something came along and pulled me out of it.

I don't want to read about a culture of the Strong preying on the Weak. I read enough of that in the news. Rule of Law, of Equality for all, this is the goal I want to read about.

And then the ending! When Arlen and Jardir go over the cliff, and the book ends?. NO THANKYOU! What a cliffhanger.

Due to this book, I'll be getting rid of my hardcovers of the first 2 books and no longer recommend this series and author to anyone I know. Which is hard, because I thought [b:The Warded Man|3428935|The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1)|Peter V. Brett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1354571949s/3428935.jpg|6589794] was SO fantastic. Now I am sad...



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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Review: The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight


The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight
The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



If you liked the Lost Fleet series, and are enjoying the Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier series, then you'll like this book.

It is tough to tell if it is a standalone or the start of a sub-series in the Black Jack Geary universe.

Either way, we get to see a Syndic system [Midway, featured prominently along with the Enigma races in early books] after the fall of the Syndics.

2 CEO's make a go of creating an independent system of Midway. Along the way they must face and takedown the Syndic secret service [officially known as ISS, but popularly as Snakes], have enough trust in the other to not knife them in the back, and deal with gate-connected systems as they go through upheaval as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. There was only 1 or 2 instances of Mr Campbell's love of exposition on space fighting and whatnot. Made for a refreshing change. The story did wrap up ok, but it was completely open for future novels if he so desired.

I, for one, would like to see some more of this Universe without Black Jack. Not because I dislike him, but because writing about a duo seems to bring out a different side of Mr. Campbell's writing.



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Friday, April 05, 2013

Review: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines


Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines by David Hagberg

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



As others have written, this is pretty much a word for action of the movie.

This was a letdown, even after having seen the movie, because I've been reading some of the other Terminator books. This was stilted cardboard.

The only cool thing was the idea of a Terminator coming back and knocking off Connor's support group before they could grow up. Cut the roots one at a time if you can't cut the tree down, in other words.



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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Review: Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was


Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was
Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



A chinese fairytale. That made me laugh my butt off.

Number 10 Ox, the tenth son of a peasant, teams up with a physician, Master Li, who has one character flaw. They work together to save the children of Ox's village, who have fallen ill of a mysterious disease.

Along the way, they fight monsters, mother-in-laws, misers, monks and an immortal warlord. They fly in a basket with palm-frond blades, they kill a coward's daughter [with his blessing and help], they enjoy multiple hoards of treasures and in the end, they help restore a goddess to heaven.

This was engaging, light hearted, funny, just enough dark macabre humor to keep me tickled and serious enough so I didn't feel like I was drowning in cotton candy.



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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Review: The Recruit


The Recruit
The Recruit by Robert Muchamore

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



When I first saw this book, and its little blurb, I was thinking it was something like Spriggan, with a typical anime'esque child killers.

Instead, I got a Y/A novel about spoiled pre-teens and teens who are in the Intelligence line of work. And who practically whore around.

Sorry, 12 year olds who make out for hours on end in a bedroom, alone, is not appropriate subject matter.

The idea, of spy kids, is cool. Just didn't care for the execution.



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Monday, April 01, 2013

Review: Kris Longknife


Kris Longknife
Kris Longknife by Mike Shepherd

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Kris is embassied to another planet, and ends up saving it from a Peterwald invasion.

I am a bit tired of Shepherd emphasizing how tall, slim hipped, flat butted and flat chested Kris is. It is just annoying to be honest.

Other than that, this was a good rousing, blood soaked tale of action and adventure.



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