November 29, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading ? #8

It's Monday What Are You Reading ? is hosted at One Persons Journey through a World of Books.

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

Where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.

Here's what I read :

What I'm currently reading : Seven Sorcerers by Caro King

Up next :

November 28, 2010

Review : Explorer X-Alpha

Title : Explorer X-Alpha
Author : LM Preston
Reading Dates : 5 Nov - 7 Nov 2010
Explorer X - Alpha
From Amazon :
For most kids, a trip to space camp is the trip of a lifetime for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment. He realizes what is happening too late for a change of fate. The full experiment is set in motion when he and his co-pilot, Eirena, crash in a distant galaxy called Shrenas, where they change and realize the full extent of their power. This turn of events forces him to grow up quickly, accept his change, and to decide to save a world, or to do what he was trained to do dominate it. His power is coveted by the warring leaders of Shrenas, and he is forced to choose sides a decision that may prove just how much humanity he has left.

Book Review of Explorer X-Alpha.
I tried very hard but I couldn't think of a reason I'd recommend this book to anyone.

There are many reasons why I didn’t like the book. The first was the stilted language which not only leaves everyone sounding fake but almost robotic in nature. I do not know if this was intentional but in any case, it disrupts the flow of the story and at one point, I thought the A.I. for a car actually sounded more natural than its human operators.

The second is the lack of individualism in the characters. I mean from the thoughts and words of the characters, you can tell what each individual is supposed to be like. The only problem is that none of their behaviour supports that. Even worse was that it was as if they couldn't decide themselves who they're supposed to be. At one moment behaving as if they're normal kids, at another super warriors and at another mature adults. It all feels as if they're all just pretending all the time to be someone else. At no time, did I find any of the characters or their predicament marginally interesting.

The third is the science fiction element. I don't pretend to be an expert but in general there is a common principle which usually lies behind each world authors create. One that should be recognisable and understandable to the readers. Here, there's no such world building being done. All the supposedly secret super cool gadgets the kids have not only lack originality but seems an amalgam of different ideas from shows I've seen as a child. It is also very strange that all the kids seem to have them and not just one or two.

My conclusion : Not my cup of tea but if you’re willing to give this a whirl, I’d suggest borrowing the book.

I won this book from Bookish in a Box.

In My Mailbox #7

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted at The Story Siren.
Anyone can participate. IMM is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week.
For Review:

Dining with Joy (A Lowcountry Romance)
From Book Sneeze:
Joy Ballard has a secret: she's a cooking show host who can't really cook.

When her South Carolina-based cooking show, Dining With Joy, is picked up by a major network, Joy Ballard's world heats up like a lowcountry boil.

Joy needs help. Then she meets chef Luke Davis who moved to Beaufort after losing his Manhattan restaurant. A cook at the Frogmore Cafe, he’s paying debts and longing to regain his reputation in the elite foodie world.

Luke and Joy mix like oil and water…until Joy is exposed on national television. With her career and his reputation both under fire, they’ll have to work together to fix the mess. Is it possible that they can learn to feast on God’s love and dine with joy?

November 27, 2010

On My Wishlist #10

On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted at Book Chick City.

On My Wishlist

Do you have any books that you desperately want but haven't bought yet? The books can be old, new or forthcoming.

The books I added to my wish list in November :

The Last Unicorn
From goodreads:
The Last Unicorn is one of the true classics of fantasy, ranking with Tolkien's The Hobbit, Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy, and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Beagle writes a shimmering prose-poetry, the voice of fairy tales and childhood:

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.

The unicorn discovers that she is the last unicorn in the world, and sets off to find the others. She meets Schmendrick the Magician--whose magic seldom works, and never as he intended--when he rescues her from Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival, where only some of the mythical beasts displayed are illusions. They are joined by Molly Grue, who believes in legends despite her experiences with a Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men. Ahead wait King Haggard and his Red Bull, who banished unicorns from the land.

This is a book no fantasy reader should miss; Beagle argues brilliantly the need for magic in our lives and the folly of forgetting to dream. --Nona Vero

November 25, 2010

Review : Hammer of God by Karen Miller

Title : Hammer of God
Author : Karen Miller
Reading Dates : 30 Oct - 2 Nov 2010
Hammer of God (Godspeaker Trilogy, Book 3)
Godspeaker Trilogy.
Hammer of God is the third and final book in the Godspeaker trilogy. Other books in the series are
From Amazon :
In Ethrea, Rhian sits upon a precarious throne. Defiant dukes who won't accept her rule threaten the stability of her kingdom. Dexterity has been banished from her court in disgrace. The blue-haired slave Zandakar, the man she thought was her friend, has been revealed as the son of a woman sworn to destroy her world. And Rhian's husband, King Alasdair, is unsure of her love.

The trading nations refuse to believe Mijak is a threat, and promise reprisals if she dares protect her realm. Only Emperor Han of mysterious Tzhung-tzhungchai knows that the danger from Mijak is real.

But is he an ally, or an enemy in disguise? As she struggles to learn the truth, and keep her embattled crown, the murderous warhost of Mijak advances ...

THE HAMMER OF GOD is the stunning finale in the Godspeaker trilogy, the new fantasy blockbuster from an author who is taking the fantasy world by storm.

Book Review of Hammer of God.
Hammer of God was an okay read. Not as good as The Riven Kingdom but better than Empress.

One of the reasons for this was the pacing of the first half of the book. Not only was it too slow but it was unnecessarily long. The story doesn't progress much from The Riven Kingdom and spends too much time on some of the characters whining. This served only to leave me annoyed and turn me against characters that I'd originally liked. Thankfully, the story picks up near the middle.

What I did find amusing about all the whining was how so many of these characters distrust or blame others for doing the same things they themselves would do or did. The difference apparently is in who are the ones doing it and who is the one benefiting. Take for instance the heroine Rhian. It was alright for her to demand that her followers act on nothing but faith in god's words when it helps put her on the throne. But keep certain truths from her as counselled by the same messenger and you're a traitor. And this is but one example. Overall, I got the impression that only savages don’t have double standards.

In the end however it was the characters I still liked that kept me interested in Hammer of God. I thought it rather telling that despite the harsh treatment of those they helped, they continued to do what they did even at great sacrifice to themselves. Han because of a faith which the Ethereans have difficulty accepting because it is different from theirs and Zandakar because of his unconditional love even for those who had betrayed him and whom they see as nothing better than a barbarian.

My conclusion : Borrow the series for a read. The combination of fantasy, politics and religious warfare is worth a read.

  • Read an extract from the book on the author's website.

November 24, 2010

A-Z Wednesday : The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub

A-Z Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Reading at the Beach.

A-Z Wednesday

To join all you have to do is go to your stack of books and find one where the author's first or last name starts with the letter of the week.

First or Last Name of Author starts with "P".

The Talisman
From Amazon:
On a brisk autumn day, a twelve-year-old boy stands on the shores of the gray Atlantic, near a silent amusement park and a fading ocean resort called the Alhambra. The past has driven Jack Sawyer here: his father is gone, his mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense. But for Jack everything is about to change. For he has been chosen to make a journey back across America--and into another realm.

One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written, The Talisman is an extraordinary novel of loyalty, awakening, terror, and mystery. Jack Sawyer, on a desperate quest to save his mother's life, must search for a prize across an epic landscape of innocents and monsters, of incredible dangers and even more incredible truths. The prize is essential, but the journey means even more. Let the quest begin. . . .

Read my review of The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

November 21, 2010

Review : The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller

Title : The Riven Kingdom
Author : Karen Miller
Reading Dates : 25 Oct - 30 Oct 2010
The Riven Kingdom (The Godspeaker Trilogy)
Godspeaker Trilogy.
The Riven Kingdom is the second book in the Godspeaker trilogy. Other books in the series are
From Amazon :
The King of Ethrea is dying. His only surviving heir is the Princess Rhian. But if her enemies have their way, Ethrea will not be ruled by a woman.

Dexterity Jones is a toymaker. To protect Princess Rhian and his country, he must place his trust in an exile from Mijak. Yet, as Ethrea comes ever closer to civil war, a greater danger awaits.

Across the sea, an Empress has already slaughtered millions in the name of her god. And the war will not end -until the world kneels before her.

Book Review of The Riven Kingdom.
I enjoyed The Riven Kingdom immensely.

However before I start talking about The Riven Kingdom, I must go back to Empress, the first book in the Godspeaker trilogy again. My brother calls the first book a prologue and after reading The Riven Kingdom, I find I have to agree. Without Empress I wouldn't have understood the significance and urgency of Rhian's destiny as neither she nor most of her supporters know it themselves. Still, I do think that Empress was unnecessarily long. It might have done better with a trimming, especially of the earlier parts of the book.

As for The Riven Kingdom, while some parts of it started rather slowly, I still liked it. So much so that I had a hard time putting it down. Overall, the strength of this particular entry lies in its characterisations. It is the thoughts and motivations of the characters in this tale which kept me enthralled and wishing for more. Regardless whether I liked or despised the characters in The Riven Kingdom, I found myself wanting to find out their next move and how it would all end for each of them. And this is why, I wouldn't miss the final book, Hammer of God, for the world.

Besides this it was also interesting to compare and see the similarities between Hekat and Prolate Marlan. It is amazing how blind and stupid supposedly intelligent people can be by ambition. Whether it is Hekat not noticing that her God cares no more for her than as another useful tool or Marlan not realizing the many mistakes he made by disregarding women. But more interesting is trying to consider who would be the greater evil. In the end, I would say it is Marlan. Hekat for all her killing is misguided and delusional. At least she believes in her God whereas Marlan does not. He sees God merely as a tool he can use to control the masses and gain what he wants. In any case, a world ruled by either would be a terrifying place.

The only complain I have against the book is the attempts at describing the surroundings and settings. It always seems rather pointless and colourless to me. There is simply no context or impact to my imaginations. Thankfully these are rare and easily ignored.

My conclusion : Definitely worth a read. But I would recommend reading Empress first to understand the importance of the events in The Riven Kingdom.

  • Read an extract from the book on the author's website.

November 18, 2010

Thursday 13 #5 : Reading ideas from Beautiful Creatures

Thursday 13

Choose a theme. Then list 13 things that fit that theme.
Here are 13 books mentioned directly or indirectly in Beautiful Creatures.

Slaughterhouse-FiveSnow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book)

The ShiningThe Phantom of the OperaThe Birds (Penguin Readers: Level 2 Series)

To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary EditionThe Catcher in the RyeThe Sound and the Fury (Vintage Classics)Gone With the Wind

The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles: Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus; AntigoneAntigone (Classic Reprint)Julius Caesar (Folger Shakespeare Library)Into the Wild

November 17, 2010

Review : Persuasion by Jane Austen

Title : Persuasion
Author : Jane Austen
Reading Dates : 18 Oct - 22 Oct 2010
From goodreads:
'She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older - the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.' Anne Elliot seems to have given up on present happiness and has resigned herself to living off her memories. More than seven years earlier she complied with duty: persuaded to view the match as imprudent and improper, she broke off her engagement to a naval captain with neither fortune, ancestry, nor prospects. However, when peacetime arrives and brings the Navy home, and Anne encounters Captain Wentworth once more, she starts to believe in second chances. Persuasion celebrates romantic constancy in an era of turbulent change. Written as the Napoleonic Wars were ending, the novel examines how a woman can at once remain faithful to her past and still move forward into the future.

Book Review of Persuasion.
I like Persuasion but it is the one I like the least of Jane Austen's completed works.

The only complain I have about Persuasion is the build up to the happy ever after of the main protagonists in the story. I know that the couple has a history and because of that their tale would not start at the beginning. But still, I always have this feeling that I missed something in the middle because of the abrupt change from Captain Wentworth's ignoring Anne to being in love with her again. No matter how many times I've re-read this, when Captain Wentworth finally declares his intentions I always have this moment of puzzlement where I wonder if I missed something.

As for the characters in the story, none of them really stand out to me. We've basically seen them before in other Austen books. While they do not bore me, I really think their foibles were somehow funnier and more prominent in her other books.

What I do enjoy though is trying to work out Captain Wentworth's feelings for Anne throughout the story. Did he never stop loving her and was merely pretending otherwise ? Or did he fall in love with her a second time after being reminded of her good qualities ? I never can decide. What do you think ?

My conclusion : An enjoyable read for Jane Austen fans.

Want to ...

Which versions of Persuasion below have you seen ?
PersuasionPersuasionPersuasion (BBC, 1971)
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