This was part of my last vacation package (meaning, audio-books that I loaned from the library without knowing exactly what they were about). Apparent...moreThis was part of my last vacation package (meaning, audio-books that I loaned from the library without knowing exactly what they were about). Apparently there is an adult version of this story/world, but since I didn't read any of those books, I will try to write this review from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy (which seemed to be the targeted audience).
Nick is a smart 9th grader enrolled in a very rich school from New Orleans. That shouldn't be a problem except that Nick comes from a very poor family, which turns him into the subject for every bully's jeer. Through a series of extraordinary events we learn that Nick is meant to either save or destroy the world. No surprises in the main theme here. The whole concept of the story is based on the assumption that we are the masters of our fate (which I agree) and that we can change that fate (which I don't agree). But that's a philosophical discussion way above the level of this book.
"Infinity" is most definitely a juvenile story, but a fun one. I was giggling throughout the book, even if toward the end, maybe the author should have forgone the humor in favor of more tension. But again this novel is geared toward kids, and I believe humor is necessary to keep them reading at that age. There are quite a few quotes from this book in case you want to know what you're getting into before buying/borrowing it. I would definitely recommend it to parents who look for something interesting for their boys to read: it promotes strong characters, good morals (without being thrown in your face), and a purposeful life (again camouflaged into fast-paced zombie-action).
I read a few complains about the writing style being too "oral." Maybe because I listened to this book instead of reading it, the orality didn't strike me as an issue (after all an audio-book would hide a problem like that). Hence I can't say either way.(less)
This novel is everything I love in a fantasy book and it came as such a great surprise. Surprise because I got to listen to it it by accident and with...moreThis novel is everything I love in a fantasy book and it came as such a great surprise. Surprise because I got to listen to it it by accident and without knowing absolutely anything of it (before my vacation, I got from the library as many audio-books as I was able to find available and borrow). Once I figured out how good it was, I wished I actually read it rather than listen to it, but it was a little bit late to change the format.
I don't want to say much about the subject because I don't want to spoil anyone's pleasure of discovering it himself/herself. In Alera, when teenagers turn 10-12, they connect and join forces with one or more furies, entities that control the elements. Each person is born with an inclination toward an element or another and the same person is unable to control more than one basic element. Not only is furycrafting common, but it is so prevalent that Tavi, one of the main characters, is regarded as crippled for being the only person known not to bond with a fury by the age of 15. But what Tavi lacks in furycrafting, he makes up for in courage and intelligence. In this setting, a political struggle is unfolding between the First Lord's people and the those trying to overthrow him.
First this a definitely an action and adventure story, overlapped on a fantasy background. It is fast-paced, with plethora of characters, good and bad, with the good guys being very good, and the bad guys being very bad. I read complains that the characters are not be very well developed, but let's be honest: if you want Dostoyevsky-quality characters you don't read an action book. As far as I'm concerned, the heroes are well developed for this kind of story, with convincing motivations. The book has a little bit of description, but it is well placed in order to pen the environment and I found it neither boring nor long.
Further, I saw at least a handful of reviews calling this novel a "sword-and-magic" book. I didn't hear before of this classifying and even if I did I believe it to be wrong (or mistaken as Doroga would say :D). I understand the sword part (there are more than plenty of fights and battles along the story), but where does the magic come from? In order to have a phenomenon labeled as magical, there has to be no physical explanation for it and it has to be attained by select few. We've already established that everyone in Alera is doing furycrafting (for them is as common as turning up the light, which BTW, they do using furies). Moreover, people understand how furies control their elements and none of them thinks of it as magical. So why is this story called magic is still a mystery to me. Yes, to the readers, the doings of the furies are unusual, but none of the readers is the point-of-view of the book!
Next, and this is something that highly amused me, there were a few folks suggesting that the siege of Garrison is an "imitation" of the Battle of Helm's Deep from The Two Towers. (Here I am raising my eyebrows.) Just because there are not that many authors who incorporate sieges in their books, when someone does it, the book is automatically a "rip off?"
Unlike a regular battle, where you can have dozens and dozens of strategies, there isn't that much you can change about a siege: you have people inside the fortress and people outside the fortress - the setting is always the same. Then you have two possible strategies:
- the logical (and much more often seen through history) starvation, which unfortunately makes for terrible boring action books. Example: Day 30 - Bernard and Amara were eating a parched boot, while Bernard told her for the 10th time how to track the sheep. Wow, isn't that exciting? :)
- the power assault, which does offer more exciting adventures, but still a limited number of outcomes: no one would attack a place with a better strategical location except if they hold the advantage of the numbers. And more troupes means that, most likely, the defenders would either be defeated (possible, but let's not forget that these are the good guys) or they will need reinforcements.
You see my point? There isn't much you can change about the basic strategy of a siege, and personally I thought that Jim Butcher did a great job here.
Then there are the ones that say that Alera was clearly inspired by the Roman Empire. IMO, except for the Latin names of the official and military functionaries there isn't anything is Alera that reminds me of the Roman Empire. However, there is a part that I found extremely interesting and subtle that just shows Butcher's multidimensional writing (and unfortunately none of the reviews that I read saw it): Fidelias name comes from the Latin fidelis, which means faithful, loyal, true. I found that naming the traitor "the loyal one," "the faithful one" was superb and nuanced.
Finally, at times there was one thing that bothered me: the point of view of the story shifted occasionally without the author's intention. For instance, while in the Marats' camp, the story is presumably told from Tavi's POV. Yet Tavi is called the "Aleran boy" which doesn't make sense except if the story was told from Doroga's POV. But other than that, I thought that this book was excellent.(less)
******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have listened...more******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have listened this memoir, which I might not have purchased otherwise. -----
I am going back and forth about this review - I think I wrote it three times so far, but it still hadn't capture all the nuances of the book. First, let me tell you that I had no idea who Susie Bright was before listening to this book. I have very mixed feelings about this memoir particularly because it is a memoir and, by definition, it is not a story with which I have to identify myself, or which I have to "enjoy," but a mirror that reflects back to the reader someone else's life.
The story is partitioned into three sections, childhood, young adult, and adult. The first section is disturbing in its honesty about the mother's mental issues. However it holds your interest and it offers a good background about the author's childhood scene.
It is the second part that brought up all those mixed feelings. Indeed, not only that I can't identify myself with the two major views that characterize this section. I pretty much don't agree with the author's views, neither on 1) politics, nor on 2) sexuality (at least the opinion that sex with every and any person who crosses your path is a good/liberating thing).
Yet, it is because of these diametral opposed ways of thinking that made listening to Susie Bright's views, particularly interesting. What goes through the minds of those who look at communism through pink-coated glasses? Who are they? What is their social and intellectual background? Then of course, how can a woman jump from a partner to another and not commit emotional suicide? It is my personal belief that, by default, women are hard-wired for an emotional-fulfilling life; so how can some of them find comfort in a life lacking personal involvement?
I realize that this is a very personal point-of-view, but to me, the purpose of this section was answering those questions.
As far as the style of this section is concerned, at times, I found the story very unfocused, jumping from an aspect of her life to something completely different and, to me, unrelated. There were also some bits and pieces which I wasn't sure that brought anything to the overall story: memories about people whom the author neither met nor defined her, memories which didn't even draw a better picture of a certain generation. The example that comes to my mind is the story about the dead girlfriend of the guy whose house she used to clean.
The most interesting part for me was by far the third section. Listening to the description of the author's problems in order to publish On Our Backs, a magazine for gay women, was enlightening, disturbing, even scary to some extent. In a world dominated by overly conservative people, bringing to life a lesbian magazine proved to be a hell paved with threats (going as far as bomb threats) and little to no rewards (even coming form the gay community). My heart went to those women who were hurting no one, just trying to express who they were, to leave their mark in this world.
The issue that turned me off about this section (and dropped my rating to only 3 stars) was the author's patronizing view that, as long as you're a straight woman, you're never going to understand the bliss of open sex. Coming from a person who fought her entire life for liberating the women, this if-you're-not-with-us-you're-against-us attitude is a little bit immature in my opinion. Because in the end in order to fulfill your life (emotionally and sexually) what matters most is to find the right person; the gender of that person is utterly irrelevant...(less)
This is the third time when I start writing this review, after the first time it simply vanished and the second time my page refreshed and I lost once...moreThis is the third time when I start writing this review, after the first time it simply vanished and the second time my page refreshed and I lost once again everything. So let's say, that I'm getting tired of writing the same things three times.
This series started promising, under the premise of a realistic adult book. However soon it degenerated into a blatant chick-lit novel with hilarious pattens. They weren't that bad (read obvious) in the first book, but now in the second, I can hardly help myself giggle every 5 minutes. For instance:
1) Myrna (the lead female character from Backstage Pass) is a very-independent Professor, while Jessica (the lead female character from Rock Hard) is a even more independent (read b**ch) head-of-the-class-with-fellowship Law Student. Of course, it is well known that the beer-loving-fist-in-the-air rockstars have an unyielding attraction for the feminine intelligence and their intellectual conversations, which make me believe that in the third book the main character is going to be a medical researcher studying the alcohol-induced coma.
2) Both Brian (the lead male character from Backstage Pass) and Sed (the lead male character from Rock Hard) are dearly in love with their damsels, both interested in serious relationships, in which they would cherish and respect their lovers for their brains and sensibility. It reminded me one of my favorite quotes from another book, Anya's Ghost, in which Anya daydreams that the guy she wanted to date says "Oh, Anya! Let's have an intense spiritual relationship for no believable reason!" (LOL!) On the other hand both women are interested in sex only and they simply want to use those defenseless men for their bodies. Yup, you heard it right folks: those women fight to keep their relationship sexual only, while their men (fantastically good looking, good in bed, famous, rich, and with bottomless love in their hearts) try to put the bases of a family. It is truly moving!
3) So far (I'm still only 1/3 through Rock Hard) both women try to (ahem) finish as fast as possible, while their apron-prone-domestic-rock-gods beg them to have more foreplay. 8-)
About the amusing parts specific to this novel: I'm sure sooner or later this book will ignite blazing discussions and controversies about human sexuality, based a section around page 80. Here Sed, after giving her 4 orgasms in about 5 minutes, is able to hit Jessica's G-spot from a frontal position. Unfortunately, we are not told whether Jess had an unusual physical condition or whether Little-Sed was severely-J-shaped, the only two ways in which that deed could be anatomically possible.
Now seriously speaking, this book is really bad, and if it wasn't for the unsought humor, I would throw it away unfinished and read something else. Everything the girls do is "AMAZING" (which means that this word is used more frequently than THE or AND). More important, this is the absolute worse book I have read as far as character inconsistency goes. Jessica's character changes faces every half a page as if the author couldn't make up her mind how she wants her to be. It is really annoying and confusing because I can't decide if I like her or not. And no, it's not that Jessica doesn't know what she wants (which presumably is true) - it is the author who can't decide what is her main personality. -----
Update 3:52 PM 44% in, I decided not to finish this book, after a more-than-10-page-utterly-lousy sex scene. This book is terrible, with no redeeming qualities.(less)
6/16/11 I'm usually not particularly crazy about erotic books, not because I don't like sex in a book, but because most of the time, the adult novels a...more6/16/11 I'm usually not particularly crazy about erotic books, not because I don't like sex in a book, but because most of the time, the adult novels are so ridiculously absurd that I can't get my mind to enjoy the sex parts. In all of them, the main characters meet in page 1-3, and by page 10-15 they are already in bed, and I simply can't swallow that.
So how is Backstage Pass different? Well, for once the male character is in a rock band, which makes the hasty sex not only acceptable as a concept, but rather expected. I'm reading this novel (I'm only at page 60-something as I write this review) and there is (almost) nothing in it which I feel that it couldn't happen in reality.
So far the book has been believable, very funny, with really good sex scenes. So why did I say "(almost) nothing?" Because, as in any chick lit book, there have to bee some parts so over the top, that none of the intentional humor can compare with the entertainment I get from reading those sections. For instance (Spoiler Alert - skip the bullets if not interested):
*** hilarious section #1: Myrna (the girl) is interested only in some fast sex, while Brian, the guitar-player-rock-god, asks her after 12 hours since they met, whether Myrna wants a serious relationship, then asks her, (only) half joking, to go to Vegas to marry. (LOLROTF - too bad I can't post those laughing smileys in my reviews).
*** hilarious section #2: the girl asks him whether he wants to play at her back door, and he answers..... (drum rolls... or I should say guitar riffs)... "I’m not very good at—". Let me say: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And I won't even comment on his answer.
6/17/11 *** hilarious section #3: Oh, the fun of fortuitous humor! Let me tell you, this section only would have been enough to make me read this book. It's so entirely ludicrous that I could hardly contain myself. Brian, who the authors wants us to believe is head-over-the-heels in love with Myrna, suggests a threesome with his best friend (the band’s rhythm guitarist, whatever that is). Myrna, who dearly loves him too, although she would never admit it (or so we are led to believe), accepts the offer more than eagerly. But hold your horses - that was only the beginning; the fun is yet to come. The three of them start doing their thing as any in-love couple would normally do, Myrna being sandwiched between the two best friends, when...... in the mist of the passion, Trey leans over Myrna's head and starts making out with Brian......... It turns out that the two men used to be a couple when they were younger. (And here I am, laughing on the floor). Did I mention that these guys are in a METAL band?????? End of spoiler
So this being said, this book doesn't have plot, as some other reviewer wrote; it simply has some other things (grocery shopping, a bunch of random talking, etc.) between the sessions of sex. Compared to other erotic books it is though better, in the sense, that there are in fact a few other things, as irrelevant as those are to a real plot. And hence, compared to these other ones, my rating of 3-stars. (less)
“Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik “Dirae” by Peter S. Beagle “Ancient Ways” by S. M. Stirling “The Scroll” by David...moreStories included in this volume:
“Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik “Dirae” by Peter S. Beagle “Ancient Ways” by S. M. Stirling “The Scroll” by David Ball “Recidivist” by Gardner Dozois “Ninieslando” by Howard Waldrop “Out of the Dark” by David Weber
I listened to this book last year and it was OK: it wasn't great, it wasn't bad, but it was a nice relaxing reading (I mean listening). I would recomm...moreI listened to this book last year and it was OK: it wasn't great, it wasn't bad, but it was a nice relaxing reading (I mean listening). I would recommend it to young readers enjoying old-school magic fantasy.(less)
This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program.
I thought that this was an excellent read from all points of view - char...moreThis was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program.
I thought that this was an excellent read from all points of view - character development, plot, and atmosphere. What attracted my at this novel was its realism. I sometimes find the detective figure to be over-the-top in a way or another (smart, witty, valiant to foolishness, or empathic). But there is nothing excessive about Alex McKnight: he makes mistakes, he is in no particular way courageous, his level of compassion is middle-of-the-road, and his past is a(n apparent) burden. I say apparent because this is the first book in the series that I read, so I am not familiar with his history.
Maybe even more important, I was impressed with the way Mr. Hamilton chose to portray the murderer. In spite of all the horrors he did, by the time I leaned his story, I was truly sad for him. What he does is execrable, but nonetheless he is a victim.
The third part that I found outstanding was the winter atmosphere. Not only the reader can feel the chilling weather, but the elements are a character in itself, a character that participates and facilitates much of the plot.
Finally, I want to point out that this is one of the most visually grisly novels I have read. If you don't like repeated macabre details, then probably this is not the book for you.(less)
******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read thi...more******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read this novel, which I might not have purchased otherwise. -----
Having not read a comics book since I was 10 (I'm 35 right now), I welcomed "Anya's Ghost" with amusement and rather childish eyes and I wasn't disappointing. It is smart, realistic (being an immigrant myself, even if not Russian, I can tell you that the "back in Russia" comments are very much true), incredibly funny (if for now other reason, this book deserves 5 stars for the line "I could lose myself forever in that dark hair and those sweet love handles"). It has enough fantasy to keep the narration interesting, and it doesn't follow the most expected storyline.
Finally, the drawings are very realistically done - real bodies, real people, no Hollywoodish body images. (less)