My fourth grader asked me to read this since he really liked it and wanted to talk about it. As an adult and a writer, I feel that some of the writingMy fourth grader asked me to read this since he really liked it and wanted to talk about it. As an adult and a writer, I feel that some of the writing wasn't great; however, it was a fun, quick read and I could see why 9 and 10 year olds would like it.
Hopper, a pet store mouse, escapes, loses his brother and sister in the process, and finds himself lost in the Brooklyn underground where he meets up with Zucker, a rat prince, whose father Titus is king of Romanus. Hopper quickly finds out that not everyone loves the rat kingdom which has a seemingly peaceful treaty with the cats and a relocation and colonization program for other rodents. Hopper soon finds himself caught in the battle between rebels, mice, and rats, learning about betrayal and how to deal with being the Chosen One.
My main gripes:
The Chosen One. An overly used trope. Here it's not even called anything else. And of course he figures out the subway system in moments when others have been studying it for years. Younger readers would not be that aware of the trope as much, so we can sort of pass on that, but him figuring out the subway system needed something more especially since he just learned to read. I also doubt very much that seasoned veterans would take orders from a young, inexperienced pet store mouse, chosen one or not. The author could have given him a vital role, but i don't buy that he planned the entire attack.
There are a lot of cliches and filtered writing. I think even kids deserve better writing. Sometimes it bordered on lazy writing because the fixes would have been simple and quick.
On another note, I was surprised that the author did not shy away from violence especially in the cat attack. It wasn't graphic, but it did add some realism and raised the stakes and the tension of the book. There were real consequences if the mice and rat rebels lost the fight, so that's a plus to the book. ...more
Fun, quirky novel about time travel, love, and family. Annie Aster has always felt out of time and when she buys a red door on impulse, a magician's sFun, quirky novel about time travel, love, and family. Annie Aster has always felt out of time and when she buys a red door on impulse, a magician's stage prop, she learns why. Scott Wilbanks has a delightful prose style, rich without being overbearing, funny, and sweet. I loved Annie's resourcefulness and her relationship with Christian. Pay careful attention to the first third of the book, because a lot of seemingly throwaway details become significant by the end. I was willing to suspend disbelief at the convenient tie-ups at the end because it is, after all, a book about time travel.
My two problems with the book were the antagonist, Ambrosius Culler, who seemed evil for the sake of evil. There wasn't any motivation besides being the Bad Guy. Also, there were a lot of little things that crowded out the narrative at times, like the repeated motif of the crows and the Cherokee tribesmen, the bloodlines, which were not fully explored and caused the book to lose focus at times.
However, the book is fun and light-hearted (although there are a few violent scenes at the end), full of romance and intrigue. ...more
An updated version of the epistolary novel, Illumine is told through emails, chats, dossiers, and classified files. Kady breaks up with her boyfriendAn updated version of the epistolary novel, Illumine is told through emails, chats, dossiers, and classified files. Kady breaks up with her boyfriend Ezra and the next day her planet is invaded due to corporate warfare. On the three surviving ships fleeing the corporate warship, a biological nightmare breaks out, the AI of the main ship has an emotional breakdown (maybe?) and Kady, a strong and brilliant girl, must stop the destruction of all the survivors. The novel is full of twists, surprises, and gut-wrenching scenes, both physical and emotional. The "love chats" between Kady and Ezra had me rolling my eyes more than a few times, and Kady's hacking brilliance is a little convenient, but I still found myself racing through the book to see how it ended....more
I've been waiting many years for the return to Osten Ard and this little teaser to the upcoming Witchwood Crown was a great bridge between Memory, SorI've been waiting many years for the return to Osten Ard and this little teaser to the upcoming Witchwood Crown was a great bridge between Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and the upcoming Last King of Osten Ard. The Heart of What Was Lost narrates Duke Isgrimnur's attack on the Norns' home in the northern mountains. The book switches between Duke Isgrimnur, Porto - one of the non-northmen to join the fight after the attack on the Hayholt - and Viyeki, one of the Norns.
Williams' delves deeply into the Norns point of view and it easy to find yourself rooting for them. Even in the original series, Williams did a great job of giving you enough background to understand why the Norns and Ineluki hated the mortals. They weren't cookie-cutter, mustache-twirling villains. They had real reasons, real gripes and here we see the Norns through a simple Builder's point of view (one of the castes). We learn more about their structure, their society, and their philosophy. Granted, they're still a little creepy, as they keep human slaves and have no problem sacrificing themselves on a regular basis for the greater good. The Queen of the Norns, in her deep sleep, is still batshit crazy; however, we begin to see the downside of an extended, almost immortal, life with all its losses and grief. And that's the genius of the book. Viyeki only wanted to see his people survive. He has a wife who wants children, he has job ambitions, he struggles with a real crisis of conscience by the end of the book.
Surprisingly, the sections with Isgrimnur and Porto weren't as rich. It didn't seem like Isgrimnur learned anything new by his encounter with the Norns (nor did he want to) and Porto's sections didn't add anything to the narrative, other than providing a non-Isgrimnur point of view for the mortals. But perhaps that was intentional to underscore the growth of the Norn characters versus the humans.
Overall, a great book on the tragedy of war and hatred of the Other. ...more
Stay with me here for a moment. The first modern science fiction book I read, many moons ago, was Frank Herbert’s Dune. I believe I read it after haviStay with me here for a moment. The first modern science fiction book I read, many moons ago, was Frank Herbert’s Dune. I believe I read it after having an ex-boyfriend insist I watch the 1984 movie. Despite the movie’s flaws, I was hooked. The reason I bring up Dune is because of how well it has aged, perhaps becoming even more relevant now than it was when it released. The technology doesn’t date the book and its themes are eternal (at least within the scope of human existence).
C.S. Friedman’s This Alien Shore is another book that has aged well. It was originally released in 1998. Almost 20 years in a time when technology is exponentially advancing. I’ve read books written at the same time or even after, where the technology has dated the book (there’s nothing like reading a book about the future, especially the near future, that refers to ‘data tapes’).
I’m not 100% sure of this, but Friedman seems almost prophetic in This Alien Shore. Humans live among the stars, but the earliest who went into space “suffer” from genetic mutations, as do their descendants, and are known as Variants. However, these variants have discovered the ability to travel through space via Ainniqs, portions of space that function like wormholes. But therein lies the danger as other living things reside in Ainniqs – creatures that feed on human souls and only special inpilots can navigate them safely – at a price.
This timely and almost prophetic theme of prejudice the Variants experience by Earth and its “untainted” humans is woven throughout the book. Some Variants hate all Terrans because of the way their ancestors were treated once they mutated (due to the spaceship drive used during the first space age, where travel was slow and dangerous). Others, like the Guerans, have traveled back to Earth to invite the Terrans to join their fellow humans in the expanding galaxy now available to them. Terrans have followed but many are not happy and cannot stand the Variants, looking at them as less than human, as monsters.
Also, humans are wired into the datasphere. Most have implants surgically provided at birth. At one point, the hacker Phoenix is walking through one of the stations, reminiscing about teenagers using programs that overlay what they see in real life with fantasy images, everything from dragons to porn. Humans love data, love the datasphere which provides “viddie” entertainment. Also, the hardware also helps regulate bodily functions, providing warnings when the body is distressed and dispensing medication for everything from headaches to more severe illnesses and emergencies. How close are we to this? How many companies are working to get us there?
Technology aside, This Alien Shore tells a great story, which involves a young girl Jamisia on the run after her space station is attacked and destroyed. Jamisia hears voices – but is she crazy? Have these other personalities invaded her head in order to take over her body, or are they parts of her own fragmented psyche? These voices do not just speak to her. Different personalities have different skills and knowledge. Jamisia is being pursued – by Earth Corporations, by the Guild (run by the Variants, who have a monopoly on space ainniq travel) and who knows who else. They want what is in her head. The problem is Jamisia has no clue what is in her head.
She meets up with the hacker, also known as a moddie, Phoenix, who is trying to track down the source of a dangerous virus known as Lucifer that has killed several of his hacker friends, as well as inpilots who travel the dangerous ainniqs. Jamisia and Phoenix join forces with Dr. Kio Masada, a Gueran hired by the Guild Prima to find out who unleashed the Lucifer on the Guild pilots and why.
Intrigue, adventure, danger as well as a satisfying but by no means predictable, ending.
My one writerly nitpick – a lot of passive voice and filtering. Characters do a lot of telling and filtering (“she felt fear”). This can break the fiction spell slightly especially when something exciting is happening, but I feel like there’s a veil between the action and me. A small nitpick and as writing expectations have certainly tightened over the past 18 years, one I am not going to count against the book. I recently read a Hugo-winning book from the late 80s or early 90s, where this was a major problem; however, the storytelling was still fantastic. A good story with relatable characters makes up for a lot!...more
Thoroughly enjoyed this meticulously researched book, which delves into the way people lived through the night in pre-industrial times (the book's maiThoroughly enjoyed this meticulously researched book, which delves into the way people lived through the night in pre-industrial times (the book's main focus is early modern into colonial times with some references to earlier time periods). Ekirch's writing is well-informed and entertaining. Using literature, news from the day, diaries, and journals, he traces the habits of people as they prepared for the onslaught of night, as well as the development and beginnings of our modern day night time world. While we learn much about the "darker" side of night activities (crime, lack of conveniences we take for granted, bug infestations), so there's no looking back through rose-colored glasses, Ekirch makes is clear that modern people have lost something in our quest for a 24-hour lifestyle. It's definitely something to ponder. My only complaint about the book is that it wasn't longer...I wanted more!...more
Interesting concept and nicely written. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting and was a little light on history and facts (as much as they can be knoInteresting concept and nicely written. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting and was a little light on history and facts (as much as they can be known), but some really intriguing mystical discussions. Definitely something to pick up if you want a different angle on Merlin. ...more
Read this in one night! Suspenseful, chilling, and dark Blood in the Paint will keep you turning the pages. Right from the start we know the murdererRead this in one night! Suspenseful, chilling, and dark Blood in the Paint will keep you turning the pages. Right from the start we know the murderer but what happened so many years ago which makes Lyla Kyle lure men to their murders? And what does Dr. Atford, her psychologist, know about Lyla's past that even Lyla does not know? Will Officer Brighthouse solve the murders and be made detective?
The characters were rich, fully drawn and evoked both empathy and sometimes horror as we navigated the twisting mazes of their minds and their pasts. The last several chapters left me speechless as we find out just how much the past can affect the present and change the future....more
Interesting history of spiritualism and the sightings of ghosts. Regardless of one's belief in the paranormal, this book makes good argument that theInteresting history of spiritualism and the sightings of ghosts. Regardless of one's belief in the paranormal, this book makes good argument that the belief of others in ghosts and spirits has influenced our world and history. ...more
I will be upfront here when I say that the books I read usually contain aliens, elves, monsters or other fantasy/scifi elements. I don't real a lot ofI will be upfront here when I say that the books I read usually contain aliens, elves, monsters or other fantasy/scifi elements. I don't real a lot of "mainstream" literary fiction. However, I found this book enchanting and read it within one night. We start off seeing dancer Penelope Sparrow unable to move in a hospital bed after a disastrous 14-story fall. In the hospital she meets Angela, a woman dying from cystic fibrosis and Marty, the man on whose bakery truck she ell. What follows is a touching and evocative journey from depression and despair to friendship and hope and finally to new heights.
What amazed me was how my reactions to Penny changed over the course of the book. At first I saw her as a tragic figure, then mad at her despair and unreliable view of the world, especially when it came to appearances. As Penny grew, i began to understand how her sometimes twisted views were shaped by her profession as a dancer and our expectations of women's bodies in society.
The secondary characters were well-rounded also and I loved them all. The story is set in Philadelphia and being a native Philadelphian, I also loved seeing the landmarks I grew up with incorporated into the story. I'm glad I read this because it is not only a great story of redemption but also a damning criticism of what is acceptable for a woman's body to look like in the modern world, not just the dance world. ...more
As someone else said, it wasn't a bad book but it wasn't necessarily a great one. I had taken a long break from reading Anne Rice after the disappointAs someone else said, it wasn't a bad book but it wasn't necessarily a great one. I had taken a long break from reading Anne Rice after the disappointment of the Taltos book and then Memnoch. I got this book from a book trade and really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, I felt a little bored for most of it (lots of passive voice and telling, not showing things) but was intrigued with the end and the hinted at showdown with the Talamasca. I probably will continue to read the series with the hope that Rice may bring back the characters and the series to its former glory. ...more