Wednesday, August 31

Book Review: Wake

Title: Wake

Author: Robert J. Sawyer

Pages: 330

My Rating: 7.75/10

Summary: Catlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genus at math - and blind Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation. But Catlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So once the implant is activated, it's not the visual world but rather the landscape of the World Wide Web that explores into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colours and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something - some other - lurking in the background. And it's getting smarter.

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was an interesting and different science fiction story, especially compared to other books I've read in the genre, which heavily focus on alien races or advanced species. This one focused on artificial intelligence and its impact on society or at least that's what the ending of the book set the reader up for.

I think the author did a fantastic job at creating the awaking of the A.I. It's what grabbed my attention to the book, and hooked me in. There isn't a lot of detail about it, but the author gives you enough information so you're wanting more. And there is some interesting parallels with other stories and sub plots, like with ape, which is setting the story up for future plots in the next books of the series. I also found it to be well researched with the various technology and scientific advancements it was tied into the story nicely, and technological terms didn't feel overwhelming when it was written in the book. I think the telling of what devices, searches or online applications that were being used could have been toned down a bit, as it being constantly written in felt respective, but the author did manage to tie all of it it into the story nicely.

Although I did like the subplots with the story, I do wish they were more connected to the story as a whole, I can see where the author plans on going, but right now there seems to be almost three separate stories going on, which have similarities, but haven't come together yet. I also wasn't a fan of the young adult sub-plots - high school drama dances, boys etc. It helps develop Catlin as a character and she does have some great development throughout the book but, I could have done without some of the high school drama (ie the dance), for me it was just filler and I wanted to get back to the AI plot line and learn more about it and how it will affect Catlin and the world around her.

Overall a good read, I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, it was a good sci-fi read, and as well as a good young adult book.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, the book would work for both young adult audience as well as science fiction fans. It has properties both audiences would like, and the story line is very interesting.

What to read next: The other two books in the WWW trilogy - Watch and Wonder.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge V, Futeristic/Sci-Fi Challenge

Book Review: Fire in the Blood

Title: Fire in the Blood

Author: Irène Némirovsky

Pages: 129

Summary: At the center of Fire in the Blood is Silvio: in his younger years he fled the boredom of the village and found a life of travel and adventure. Now he's returned, living in a farmer's hovel in the middle of the woods, and, much to his family's chagrin, perfectly content with his solitude. Soon a young man is murdered and Silvio is drawn back into the complicated life of this small town by memories, scandal and regret. Atmospheric and haunting with the crystalline perfection of Chekhov, Fire in the Blood is a gripping literary find the reconfirms Némirovsky's prowess as a storyteller and uncompromising observer of human nature.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Némirovsky never seems to disappoint me, she's a wonderful story teller whose narrative pulls you into the story, so you can almost taste the smells and feel the setting around you as the author showcases the setting of the village perfectly, along the French country side. Her writing style flows off the pages, and I was easily able to lose myself in the story.

The characters were written well, so well that they seemed very realistic. Along with the setting, they became very "alive" as I read the story. Silvio in particular was a well drawn character, the author did a good job at showing his characteristics, rather than telling them. In fact, most of the story was written showing the reader what was happening rather than telling them.

I would have liked more time with the characters, I found the book to be too short, but overall, it was a lovely read - there was the right amounts of characterization, storyline, descriptions of setting to evenly balance everything out, and make a perfect set up to the book's climax.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, actually I'd recommend anything the author reads. This book has a lighter mood than some of her others, especially compared to her war time novels. It's well worth reading and may be a good choice for someone who hasn't experienced her yet.

What to read next: I'd recommend more books by the author. Also if you enjoy French literature, I'd say try exploring some of that.

Challenges: 11 in 11 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge,

Book Review: The Lost

Title: The Lost (SGA #17)

Author: Jo Graham and Amy Griswold

Pages: 308

Summary: Finders Keepers. . .

Reeling from the terrible events of Stargate Atlantis Homecoming, the expedition team members are doing whatever it takes to find Doctor Rodney McKay - even if it means turning to their enemies for help.

While Colonel Sheppard and Teyla seek information from Ladon Radim of the Genii - and pay a high price to secure his reluctant cooperation - Ronon and Doctor Keller reopen tense negotiations with their sometime-ally, Todd. But as the balance of power begins to shift among the Wraith, Ronon and Keller struggle to ensure that they remain Todd's allies and don't become his hostages.

Meanwhile, far way, McKay is facing a fate more terrifying than anyone on Atlantis could possibly imagine. . .

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a good story, but not my favourite in the series. Some shocking revelations, I admit I did spoil myself, or at least try to see if I could find out the end, but I found this one veered off canon more than the other books I've read in the Stargate verse and focused a lot on characterization and relationships with others. I've never been a shipper, but I did find that this one supported the whole idea behind certain character relationships, subtly hinting at certain aspects of relationships that may mean more than meets the eye. I'd have been fine with relationships like Rodney and Dr. Keller that have already been established, but I found it to forced that the authors seemed to hint at a relationship between Teyla and John. I also found that it some characters were out of their comfort zones, from what I was used to on the show, so while I was glad for a deeper look into the characters psyche, I was also frustrated that things weren't how I'd remember them.

The story itself, especially with the Wraith was awesome! Oh I wish this was an episode, or story arch! (A rare case where the TV show would be so much better than the book). Rodney! I was in shock, absolute shock and I'm itching to get my hands on the next book in this series, which as far as I know is not out yet. Sigh!

Would I recommend it to read: Only to Stargate Fans :)

What to read next: The Alligence - the next book in the Legacy Series which isn't published yet! Hurry up!

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting

Title: Sisterhood Everlasting

Author: Anne Brashares

Pages: 349

Summary: From #1 New York Tim bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting. Despite having jobs and men they love, each knows something is missing: the closeness each knows that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn't take. Bridget lives with her long time boyfriend Eric, in San Francisco, and through part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can't seem to shed her old restlessness. Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it well change their lives forever - but in ways that non of them could have ever expected. A moving and life changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although I enjoyed the series and I enjoyed the main idea and storyline behind this book, I felt that the book wasn't completely up to my expectations.

The book still had some of that old magic from the other books, it did a fantastic job at showing the friendship between the girls and how that changes when you grow up. I enjoyed seeing where they ended up and how they are living their lives now, although I would have loved some story between where the fourth book left off to this one, but the author did a good job updating the reader. The story that all brought them back together was heartbreaking and shocking, but did create a very good and realistic feel setting the mood when she dropped the this little plot key. I was very shocked the author did this, as not only did she set up the mood of the event, but she pulled it off. This could have easily failed as a plot line, but it did work out. Oher aspects of the book is where it fell apart for me.

One of the issues I have with the book, which I can't exactly explain in detail, without spoiling you didn't work or me. I didn't like how the author tried to lead the reader off the scent. When it was obvious it was something completely different, especially for fans of the series. It just didn't make since, I think the author could have told the truth from the start, and could have the same affect on the characters as she intended to, because the girls had drifted apart. The same issues of grief would have been there, and would have connected the characterization from the other books nicely.

 Another issue I had, which was a major issue was how all the characters seemed to revert back to their original selves from the first book, just older. Any development the characters went through seemed to have disappeared. The author was so careful at developing the characters, helping them grow, shed their insecurities and help them overcome some of their bad habits, in this book all of that development was virtually gone. I was constantly frustrated with the characters because of this, so it made for a difficult read at times.

The author did do a good job at showing how old friends, in the time of tragedy can come back together in the end. And it shows the importance to appreciate your friends and the time you have with them above all else. The author did do a good job at showing this in the book, it was a powerful message, but I had so many issues with discrepancies between the rest of the series that it took away from the story.

Would I recommend it to read: If you enjoyed the series I would, it can be read as a standalone, although it would be better if you read the other books in the series. It's not high on the recommendation list, but it is an okay companion to the series.

What to read next: If you haven't read the other books in the series, read them.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown

Book Review: Pearl of China

Title: The Pearl of China

Author: Anchee Min

Pages: 275

Summary: Pear of China celebrates the life of beloved and acclaimed writer Pearl S. Buck, from her childhood as a blonde outsider in China to her eventual political exile from the country she had come to cherish as her own. Anchee Min tell this incredible story through the eyes of Pearl's lifelong friend Willow. The story of their intimate friendship against the grand sweep of history bring new richness to the life of a remarkable woman - and inspires as unforgettable novel.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: A combination of historical fiction and a story of a friendship, this ended up being a very enjoyable read. The book had a lot of focus on the historical events of China during this time including the Cultural Revolution and Pearl's exile from China. The author was very good at creating very detailed retelling of China during the time setting, and was easily able to pull me into the story. It's main focus was more on Pearl Buck and her influence on Willow and how it shaped her and helped her through the Cultural Revolution, as opposed to a look on Pearl Buck's life. But I still found it to be a very interesting read. The author also heavily focused on the strength and power of friendship in the book, this part of the book was beautifully told, the author did a fantastic job at showing both the trials and bonds of friendship and how it that bond can last longer than anything else.

I found that the book would drag at times, I would even say there were times it felt repetitive, particularly when Willow was living with the other "outcast" peasants, and being forced to renounce Pearl Buck. Although I thought the author did a good and detailed job at showing the reader what it was like, I felt that the author could have focused on other aspects of life during this time as well. Otherwise, I found the book to be a well told story and a very enjoyable read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's a lovely story of friendship, well written, and shows a realistic example of life during the time period in China.

What to read next: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge,

I received this book from LibraryThing Early Reviews Program.

Book Review: Pao


Author:Kerry Young


Summary: As a boy, Pao comes to Jamaica with his mother and brothers in the wake of the Chinese Civil War. His father has died in the fighting, and the family finds a provider in Zhang, the godfather of Kingston's Chinatown. Pao is inducted into the business, and soon steps into Zhang's shoes, running small-time rackets and providing the necessary protection for the Chinese community.

 Pao becomes a powerful man, but he's not a typical crime boss. H is sensitive at heart and guided by the principles of Sun Tzu's Art of War, even though as he discovers, the wisdom of the ancient Chinese sage can be tough to interpret when applied to the criminal and romantic predicaments he faces.

Jamaica is in flux, transitioning from the last days of British rule while confronting the social and economic inequality left behind and the resulting unrest. The tides of change will reinvigorate Rastafarianism and the Back to Africa movement, but leave Pao's ambitions uncertain. A journey experienced through the eyes of of an utterly beguiling character, Pao is an unforgettable novel of race, class, and color; love and ambition; and a country in the throes of tumultuous change.

My Rating:5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book:
This book just didn't work for me. The idea behind the story was interesting and was what got my initial interest in it, but narrative completely ruined the book for me. I struggled to finish it, although there is a great story there, it doesn't shine through like it should have.It was an interesting concept, a coming of age story of a Chinese boy who grew up in Jamaica and his struggle for power and survival, but unfortunately they way the author chose to write the narrative was terrible. It was written in a broken English, much like what the protagonist would sound like if he spoke, now I would have been fine with this being used for dialogue, as it helps create a character, it didn't work as the narrative as a whole. It was often distracting and it took me longer to read than normal, as my brain kept trying to rework it in my head, t straighten things out. The story itself isn't the usual type I read, but I did enjoy the look at organized crime, the life in Chinatown in Jamaica and the cultural and political revolution in Jamaica. But that was lost in the narrative, which was a shame, there is a good story somewhere in there.

Would I recommend it to read:
Not sure I would, the story is interesting, but they way it is written was very distracting, and eventually weakens the story itself. Wouldn't b high on my list of recommend reads.

What to read next:Hmmm, I'm not sure on this one, can't think of a book to recommend.

Challenges:  11 in 11100+ Challenge2011 Countdown ChallengeGlobal Reading Challenge 

I received this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviews program

This is a repost of the original, as something happened and the post was accidentally deleted. 

Tuesday, August 23

Book Review: The Penelopiad

Title: The Penelopiad

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 196

Summary: For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband fights in the Trojan war is not a simple business. Already aggravated that he has been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours, and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay . . .

And then Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope's twelve beloved maids, What were his motives? And what was Penelope herself up to? In the Penelopiad, Atwood has given Penelope a wise and witty voice to tell her own story and set the record for good.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this short novel on the myth behind Odysseus and Penelope. It was an interesting take on the myth and shows Atwood's ability to take something and twist it to showcase her whit and creativity, she's a great storyteller and this is another example of it.

I really enjoyed how Atwood decided to tell the story, alternating between the narrative of Penelope and her telling her story, as she sits in the afterlife and the verses told by the twelve maids. The maids perspective added a fun twist to the story and helped add an extra perspective to theirs and Penelope's death. The book is written very well and is able to explore the myth of Odysseus in a short amount of time and I wasn't left with the feeling that there wasn't enough time to explore all the characters, when I finished I did feel like they were well developed, although I did wish I could have had a bit more time with them.

As I mentioned above it was a short read and I wished there was more to it than there was, the story had an ending and the characters were well developed, but I would have liked a longer story, I wasn't ready to leave the mythological world behind. I also wish (and perhaps there is) that the series this book belongs to was available as a whole collection - not just individual books, otherwise it was a good read and a good choice for a warm summer evening.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it has Atwood's wit, along with some mythological fiction, which made for a nice read. It's a good book to read on a rainy day.

What to read next: I'd read more books on mythology - this book is part of a series (Myths Series)written by multiple authors, so it may be worth checking out.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge V, Global Reading Challenge

Saturday, August 20

July Wrap-Up!

And another month come and gone. And I'm really, really, really late posting this, but I've been busy. I did a few things this month that were book related, including a sci-fi convention,
here I met Brandon Sanderson I'll talk more about that below. As well as participating in a Canada Day Weekend read-a-thon. I'm still going strong, but think that my goal 0f 125 books for the year may be out of reach, but, still having fun reading and I'm not going to sacrifice what I read, just to reach a number. I rather read books I enjoy, experiment with others, that read a whole bunch of books that I know I will hate, but are super easy to read,

thus reaching a number. So, come see the fun I got into below!

The Books

This month was another good month for reading for me, but I didn't get as many books read as I would have liked. I'm behind by about 10 books to where I wanted to be at this point, but still going strong, I'm enjoying the books I'm reading (for the most part) and I rather be behind on my personal reading goal than to read a bunch of books I will dislike. This month my favourite book was a tie between Three Day Road and Room, but if I could only pick one, Three Day Road would w

in hands down. My least favourite book was The Irish Princess followed by Wings.

I'm still doing very well with the challenges. I'm a little worried whether or not I'll finish the 11 in 11 challenge, but other than that I'm doing well with all of them. And a few of them I'm very close to completing.

Current Challenges

Countries Visited

I've changed the map I've been using, because it wasn't working right for me. And I've forgot I, briefly visited Antartica in a book I read early this year, so I've inc

luded that one. This month I visited Canada, USA, Ireland.

Bookish Events

I had two bookish event this month. One was a 24 hour Canada Day Weekend Read-a-thon called Under the Midnight Sun hosted by John of the Book Mine Set. I read for over 14 hours and finished two book. I hope there's one next year.

The second event I went to was a sci-fi convention in Toronto called - Polaris. This was the 25th anniversary one and had a lot of authors attending. Most of them I missed out seeing, as I was busy trying to do fifty things at once, although I did meet a lot of stars, including Jewel Staite, Ben Browder and Paul McGillion. I also got to meet and chat to Brandon Sanderson. I was able to get the first Mistborn book signed, and eventually bought the last two books in the trilogy. I also got a special newsletter which shows a sneak peak of the next book that is part of the series. origionally had a vlog that showcased this, but it didn't have sound. Sorry! I again, missed meeting Julie Czerneda and again, bought to books by her, that I found out later, were already signed. One of these days I'll get my chance I hope!

Here is me with Brandon Sanderson. Go to my facebook page to see me with everyone else!

Books that Followed Me Home

Only 7 books came home with me this month. Which was good considering when I was at Polaris there was a great independent Fantasy and Sci-Fi book store there which had a lot of books I wanted, or books to finish off the series I have already. Lucky I only came home with 4 books from there. One of the 7 books was a review book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

1) Pao - Kerry Young (LTER)
2) Men of the Otherworld - Kelley Armstrong
3) Room - Emma - Donoghue
4) Ties of Power - Julie Czerneda
5) To Trade the Stars - Julie Czerneda
6) The Well of Echoes - Brandon Sanderson
7) The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderon