Monday, January 31

Book Review: A Matter of Honor

Title: A Matter of Honor (Stargate SG-1 3 Part 1)

Author: Sally Malcolm

Pages: 236

Summary: Five years after Major Henry Boyd and his team, SG-10, were trapped on the edge of a black hole, Colonel Jack O’Neill discovers a device that could bring them home.

But it’s owned by the Kinahhi, and advanced and paranoid people, besieged by a ruthless foe. Unwilling to share the technology, the Knahhi are pursing their own agenda in the negotiations with Earth’s diplomatic delegation. Maneuvering through a maze of tyranny, terrorism and deceit, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Major Samantha Carter and Teal’c unravel a startling truth - a revelation that throws the team into chaos and forces O’Neill to face a nightmare he is determined to forget.

Resolved to rescue Boyd, O’Neill marches back into the hell he swore never to revisit. Only this time, he’s taking SG-1 with him . . .

My Rating: 8.25

What I liked/disliked about the book: Another Stargate Book for me, this time it’s SG-1. These books are becoming addictive for me. They aren’t the best books I’ve read, and they have their flaws, but I can’t help but to devour the stories. I guess being a huge fan of the show, and mad the show is no longer on - I have to get my Stargate fix somewhere. This book is a two parter, and it takes off from a story from the series, where we never got complete closure.

The characters for the most part were well done and true to what we see on the show, there are some things I’m rising an eye brow too (Teal’c style), but I am very particular on my characters and how they are portrayed. Other reviews have pointed out and I agree, that some of the reasons the characters are shown in the way in the book, is because we don’t have the visual affect of an episode to show us what is happening. Facial expressions (which any fan will know is how Teal’c conveys most of his emotions and thoughts) are hard to do in print, without getting excessive.

I love the story, it’s so true to an actual episode, and it just left me there hanging. I do have the next book, but I’m waiting a bit to read it. But, it works very well with the series, and fits well into what we’ve learned so far.

Would I recommend it to read: Only to fans of the TV series. This isn’t really a book or series for that matter where you can pick the book up and enjoy it. Although for the most part all of the books are standalones, they refer to actual episodes of the TV show and the events that happened, so you’d be lost if you aren’t familiar with them. However, if you’ve watched the show, then I would recommend the book to read. It was very well done. I am impressed.

What to read next: The Cost of Honor (Stargate SG-1 5 Part 2) (for whatever reason, although this is a two part series, a book appears between the two.)

Book Review: The Birth House

Title: The Birth House

Author: Ami McKay

Pages: 387

Summary: The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babinau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing and in a kitchen filled with herbs and folk remedies. During the turbulent first years of World War I, Dora becomes the midwife's apprentice. Together they help the women of the Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, and even unfulfilling sex lives.

When Gilbert Thomas, a brash medical doctor, comes to Scots Bay, with promises of fast, painless childbirth, many in the community begin to question Miss Babineau's methods. After Miss Babineau disappears, Dora is left to carry on alone. In the face of fierce strength and fight to protect the birthing traditions and women's wisdom that have been passed down to her.

Filled with details that are as compelling as they are surprising - childbirth in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion, the prescribing of vibratory treatments to cure hysteria and mysterious exlir called the Beaver Brew - The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have to face to maintain control over their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although the book wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be, it was a wonderful book, well written and overall an interesting story. I was expecting more of a story on the actual birth house, following the women who came there for help and sanctuary, their stories and how they influenced the midwife - along with the battle between midwives and doctors. Instead I got more of a story on Dora and her life journey up to and starting the birth house. The story was still a great one, but I was expecting something a little different.

The writing was lovely; it easily drew you into the book and flowed well. The author’s ability to tell a story was almost flawless - it may not have been the story I was expecting, but the author did a fantastic job at telling her story. There were times and parts of the story that seemed to side off track from the bigger picture, (although this could be because I thought the story would go somewhere different than it did) but this was done to build the characters who were extremely well done.

I really enjoyed the story on the debate doctor vs. midwife assisted birth. Even today the debate continues, and this was an excellent example how back then men tried to influence women on what to do with their bodies. I think the author did an excellent job at showing the struggle Dora had to keep her status, her struggle within her self and her struggle to get her self back. It’s a very feminist book on how women struggle to gain status and find them selves, and I really enjoyed that side of it. It wasn’t overly in your face feminism, but a story that shows some of the struggles and walls they faced back then and continue even today.
What I didn’t like. For one, it wasn’t what I expected, as I said above. And I was hoping the author would show more of the “dirty” side of hospital/doctor assisted births. And there were a few instances with some of the characters bugged me. Dora putting up with her horrible husband because she wants a child bothered me a lot. It’s part of her character and her character’s development, but I really wanted to smack the woman and tell her to wake up. Although, this could also be that the author did such a good job at creating her characters, that you were able to enjoy them so much, you ended up actually caring for their well being.

In any event, it was a wonderful book - a great example on women and struggles they face, combined with lovely writing.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes I would recommend it to read. It’s not for everyone, but there are a lot who would enjoy the book. I think it can raise a lot of questions and discussions in a group. So I also would say it would be an excellent book in a reading group.

What to read next: The Sisters of Hardscrabble Bay, A Good House, Midwives

Book Review: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Title: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author: Helen Simonson

Pages: 358

Summary: You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of his remarkable novel he will steal your heart.

The major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and traditions?

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this book, Helen Simionson’s writing took me captive for the moment I started to read and kept me divulged into the book until the end. That, combined with a wonderful story and some intruding characters, it was a spectacular book.

The author’s writing style is what really got be hooked to the book. It was so well done and had such a powerful presence it made reading the novel that much more enjoyable. Something about the way the narrative flowed, and how the story was told, really kept me reading. It made the book hard to put down at times. And for the most part I found the story to be an interesting read. I love the relationship with the Major and Jasmina and how it grew through out the book. There was also a great sense of humour throughout the book.

The characters, for the most part, were also well down. I really fell in love with the Major, he was an enjoyable character to read about and I can safely say he is on my list of my favourite fictional characters. Richard was also well done, although I hated him with a passion - so much I had hoped the character would be hit by a bus and end it, I still enjoyed reading about him. For the most part there is a great cast of characters. Some are a bit stereotypical like the gossiping women of a small town, but overall all the characters are well down.

The only real problem I had with the book was that I did find it to drag at some points. It wasn’t a lot, but I did notice it. The story slowed down, or the plot didn’t move forward as quickly as I had hoped. Other than that a fantastic read.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I would, it has already received so much hype out there, but it is well deserved. The writing and storytelling by the author alone make it a worthy read.

What to read next: The Housekeeper and the Professor - by Ogawa Yoko. LibraryThing recommends The Help, The Forgotten Garden and Cutting for Stone. But I’m not sure on this one.

Book Review: Blood Feud

Title: Blood Feud

Author: Alyxandra Harvey

Pages: 258

Summary: He looked about eighteen, same as Magdla and me - though technically I was really 232 years old. He must be one of the legendary Drake brothers . The shape of his jaw and his narrow nose were distinctly aristocratic; he would never have been more at home among his nobles of my time. It made me both distrust him and feel oddly drawn to him. I straightened my spine. I wasn’t here to admire pretty boys It was inexcusable to be distracted, even for a moment.

It’s been centuries since Isabeau St. Croix survived the French Revolution. Now she’s made her way back to the living and she must face the ultimate test by confronting the evil British lord who turned her into a vampire and left her buried for two hundred years . . . That’s if she can control her affection for Logan Drake, a vampire whose bite is a sweet as the revenge she seeks.

My Rating:7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This is the second book in the series, and I have to say, I enjoyed it far more than the first. Although I had similar problems with this book as I did with the first book in the series, it turned out to be a pretty good story.

What I like best about the book, is that the author’s version of vampires is so different than what we see out there in the fictional world, yet familiar at the same time. There seem to be so many different subsets of them, and only a handful of details is given to the reader, that I can’t help but want to read more and learn more about the vampires in this “world.” I also enjoyed the story itself more, and what was happening ot the characters. I even enjoyed some of the background stories of the characters, although I didn’t really connect with any of them, I did enjoy (for the most part), reading about their history.

Overall I found the characters to be more tolerable, the lack of Lucy as a man focus helped a lot, but I don’t have a favourite character, and there is only so much of the young adult mindset, (how they think and pursue love etc.) I can take. The romance side of the book made me want to gag. It was a little cheesy. Again, this is a case where I enjoy the story of the book, but wish the romantic side of the book would be less emphasized. I want the characters to grow more, before we see them all matched up, just for the sake of it. I don’t see or feel any real connection between the characters except the convince and need to have then matched up. Characterization is my biggest problem with the book. I can’t connect to the characters, and so many characteristics and the way they think bug me.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. Not my favourite out there, but still a worthy read, and I will more than likely finish the rest of the series. And for a young adult book, it is pretty well done.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I have enjoyed the series so far. It’s not my favourite in the genre, but it is a well told story, fairly interesting. Not bad for a young adult book, if your not a big fan of YA Lit, but want to experiment more in it, this is a good place to start.

What to read next: The rest of the series, the third book is out and I think there is a fourth coming out in the near future. Also, I think Kelley Armstrong’s series might be a good companion. I think the first book is the Summoning, or is it the Awakening?

Challenges: 11 in 11 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Fantasy Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo,


Sunday, January 23

Book Review: Rising

Title: Rising (Stargate Atlantis #1)

Author: Sally Malcolm

Pages: 222

Summary: Atlantis will rise again…

Following the discovery of an Ancient outpost buried deep in the Antarctic ice sheet, Stargate Command sends a new team of explorers through the Stargate to the distant Pegasus galaxy.

Emerging in an abandoned Ancient city, the team quickly confirms that they have found the Lost City of Atlantis. But, submerged beneath the sea on an alien planet, the city is in danger of catastrophic flooding unless it is raised to the surface. Things go from bad to worse when the team must confront a new enemy known as the Wraith who are bent on destroying Atlantis.

Stargate Atlantis is the exciting new spin-off of the hit TV show, Stargate SG-1. Based on the script of the pilot episode, Rising is a must-read for all fans and includes deleted scenes and dialog not seen on TV

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book won’t disappoint if you’re a fan of the show, and it ended up surprising me n how well done it was. In fact it was pretty much a carbon copy of the episode from the TV series, with the extra dialog and “scenes”, and some insight to what some of the characters are thinking, how and what they feel about other characters and certain events and things around them, which you don’t really get a lot of detail in from watching the show. I loved having one of my favourite shows in my hands in book form. They did a good job at keeping the classic Stargate humour intact, although if you’ve never watched the show, or have any clue what the show is about, you would be completely lost. There is little description or explanation on what is actually going on. You would have had to have knowledge of everything Stargate from SG-1 up to the beginning of season 8 to have any clue to what is happening.

My only complaint about the book is that I was hoping for a little more detail on things we never saw in the show, which is hard, when the book is literarily a carbon copy of the episode. But when the description on the back said there were extra scenes not seen on TV, I was expecting more than I got. The other books in the series aren’t about episodes, but about stories in-between what was shown on TV, so I think I will be happy with the results. But, it was still a fun read for me. I am dying to get my hands on the rest of the series.

Would I recommend it to read: Like with Hunt and Run (reviewed earlier this month) I’d only recommend the book to people who are fans of the show, otherwise you would be completely lost. You need to have seen SG-1 up to the end of season 7/beginning of season 8, to understand everything that is talked about in the book. But, it is still fun to read, and the series has some great characters that I now get to enjoy in print form!

What to read next: The rest of the series, I’m very interested in how some of the stories play out.

Challenges: 11 in 11 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Futerisic/Sci-Fi Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, New Authors Challenge

Book Review: Kidnapped

Title: Kidnapped

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Pages: 319

Summary: As with his other "children's stories" (Treasure Island, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped is truly a tale for all ages. Bursting with heroes and villains, romance and intrigue, treachery and rebellion, Kidnapped follows the adventures of David Balfour as he journeys across Scotland in an attempt to claim his rightful inheritance from his unscrupulous uncle. Along the way, David is held hostage on a boat bound for the New World, which he is able to escape with the help of an outcast hero named Alan Beck Stewart. The unlikely pair travel through Scotland encountering dangerous conflict at nearly every turn, testing their friendship and honour. Stevenson's gift for incorporating mature and powerful themes into what he described as a "boys' novel" shines through in Kidnapped, giving the reader not only a heart-pounding adventure tale, but also a sophisticated and powerful coming-of-age-story.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I enjoyed the book. I loved the way the story was told, Stevenson has such an amazing narrative voice in this novel, and it was written so wonderfully, I found it hard at times to believe it was meant for children. There was such a clear voice throughout the novel, the storytelling was wonderful and elegant, everything love in an old classic book! Which was what kept me reading the book, as I found that the story wasn’t as interesting at I had hoped it would be. The idea behind the story was an interesting one, but I think it fell short of my expectations. I’m not sure exactly what I was hoping for, but the story wasn’t exactly what I expected, it wasn’t as adventured filled as I thought it would be, and it was slow paced for me at times. Although the storytelling ability by Stevenson certainly made up for that, there were times, I was bored. I found my self flip-flopping on whether I liked David as a character, I found him to be a bit inconsistent at times, but I did enjoy his adventure and the book overall.

Would I recommend it to read: I think I would probably recommend it to read. It isn’t my favourite classic book or story out there, but it isn’t a bad story, it just fell short of what I expected to be. Still worth reading, just on the Stevenson’s ability to tell a good story.

What to read next: I believe there is a sequel to this book, so if you enjoyed the book and want to find out what happens next, I’d say start there.

Challenges: 11 in 11 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 1001 Books Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Book Blogger Bucket List Challenge, Global Reading Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo,

Saturday, January 22

Book Review: Hunt and Run

Title: Hunt and Run (Stargate Atlantis #13)

Author: Aaron Rosenberg

Pages: 280

Summary: Ronon Dex is a mystery. His past is a closed book and he likes it that way. But when the Atlantis team triggers a trap that leaves them stranded on a hostile world, only Ronon’s past can save them - if it doesn’t kill them first.

As the gripping tale unfolds, we return to Ronon’s earliest days as a Runner and meet the charismatic leader who transformed him into a hunger of Wraith. But grief and rage can change the best of men and it soon becomes clear that those who Ronon once considered brothers-in-arms are now on the hunt - and the Atlantis team their prey.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have to say, this book surprised me. I didn’t think a book based off of one of my favourite TV series would be good. But overall the book wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either, and there were a lot of issues I had with it, especially consistency with characterization and background information about characters, place and general information from what I’ve learned watching the show, but overall was a good read.

I enjoyed learning about Ronon’s past. His character wasn’t explored to much on the show, so he was always a bit of a mystery to me, getting some insight on his life, before he joined SGA was a good idea. The story style and the way it’s told follow how all of the stories in the Stargate franchise are told, only in book form this time, and some more insight to what different characters have going on.

The main issue I had with the book, and prevented it from a higher rating was the amount of inconsistencies in it. Did the author bother to do research? Were the editors asleep? Because there were many characters who were out of character throughout the book. Teyla is one example, what happened to the kick ass survivor from the show? I wasn’t expecting an exact carbon copy from what I saw in the show, because you would really only get that from the writers of the show, minor consistency issues from show to book would have been fine, but the ones I saw were to big, making some of the characters not the same as the ones I enjoyed during the show.

Despite the amount of issues I had with it, I liked the book, and I’m looking forward to reading the entire series.

Would I recommend it to read: Only if you are a fan of the series, and a big enough fan to want to continue the series in book form. If you have never watched the show, do not start with this book. Also if you’re a huge fan like myself, be wary of the inconsistencies and down right wrong information in the book.

What to read next: I’d say read more books in the SGA series. I was surprised in how much I enjoyed the book. So if you want to read more, grab more books in the SGA franchise (or SG-1!)

Challenges: 11 in 11 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Futeristic/Sci-Fi Challenge, Global Reading Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo, New Authors Challenge


Book Reviews: Industrial Magic

Title: Industrial Magic

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 493

Summary: In the aftermath of her mother’s murder, Paige broke with the elite, ultraconservative American Coven of Witches. Now her goal is to start a new Coven for a new generation But while Paige pitches her vision to uptight thirty-something witches in business suites, a more urgent matter commands her attention.

Someone is murdering the teenage offspring of the underworld’s most influential Cabals - the supernatural equivalent of the Mafia. And none is more powerful than the Cortez Cabal, a faction Paige is intimately acquainted with because she is dating Lucas Cortex, the rebel son and unwilling heir. But love isn’t blind, and Paige has her eyes wide open as she is drawn into a hunt for an unnatural born killer. Pitted against shamans, demons, and goons, it’s a battle chilling enough to make a wild young woman grow up in a hurry. If she gets the chance.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: These books are becoming like book crack for me. I can’t get enough of them, and this was no exception. This book takes place fairly close to where Dime Store Magic leaves off, so the story was still fresh in mind, and it doesn’t take long before the story picks up and throws you into the plot. I really enjoyed getting a view at all of the different supernatural beings out there and their powers, and it was nice to see some characters I haven’t seen for a while come back for more than just a two second appearance and introduced some new characters. Although I’m unsure on how much I like some of the new faces at the moment, it was interesting to all their different powers and how they use them.

This book had a lot more action than the previous book, and we finally get to see just how dangerous some of the supernatural’s powers can be, and some of the consequences of being a supernatural can be, even the high powerful and protected ones. I love the idea of the Cabal. It can be a bit stereotypical at times in how it’s run, or how the characters in it are portrayed, but it adds a neat twist in the books. I also found that the romance side of this book really took a backseat this time, instead it focused on building the characters and setting up the plot for future stories. I’m interested where the author is going with certain characters, particularly with the next book, which I’m itching to get my hands on. Well I own it already, so get the time to read it.

I did find the pace of the book to jump around. Sometimes it had a nice steady pace, other times it slowed down, to the point I was starting to get a bit bored. Also some times things seemed to repeat themselves throughout the book, which after a while got a bit irritating. Finally sometimes I feel that the individual characters personality and voice blended together. Usually I found that there was a clear separation between each character, in this book every once in a while, it was hard to distinguish the different female characters who made an appearance during certain scenes.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It’s not my favourite of the series but I still really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading the next instalment of the series.

Would I recommend it to read: If you enjoyed the series so far, than I would. If you’ve been wanting to read the series, then be sure to read the other books first. This book does have its issues, and fans of the series will likely see them, but overall it’s a good book. A nice read.

What to read next: Haunted and Broken are the next to books in the series, so I’d try them.

Challenges: 11 in 11 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Fantasy Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo,



2011 Goals and some other stuff.

So January is pretty much over, but I finally have found the time (and energy) to sit down and write out some "goals" for 2011, what challenges I'm participating in and all of that other stuff. Lately work has been insanely busy - I am glad I finally have some time to get get caught up in blogging, currently have five reviews to write.

Goals

I had thought of having actual goals, and make a list, but when I do that I feel bad for not being able to do then. Instead I have a list of things I plan on working, but don't necessarily need to be completed.

- Read about 125 books (This one is one I really want to do, but not sure if it is possible with everything that goes on in my life.)

- Finish my challenges. I didn't go a crazy this year with challenges. I only signed up for 16, two of which were ongoing from last year. And this time around I focused only on ones I know I can actually finish, while still branching out my reading horizons.

- Branch out my reading horizons. I did this last year and I was surprised. I never pictured my self reading any type of paranormal romance books or urban fantasy, but I took a chance and found a great series. There are some books of course I won't ever really read, and some genres. But taking a dip here and there has proven to be interesting.

- I plan on going to book related convention this year. I will not be attending BEA. It's to expensive for me to go for this year, and hard for me to get to. Why can't they have Canadian version of that I'll never know. But there is Ad Astra. Which is a convention directed towards Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres of books. I'm excited about going. If you live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and love books, you should check it out. I also plan on going to Polaris. Which is more of a science fiction/horror/fantasy convention of TV and Movies, but does have some authors going. First time for both, but the author lists look fantastic! Maybe 2012 I'll be able to go to BEA!

- I'd love to meet bloggers! I know there are Canadian bloggers out there, and I'd love to have a blogger meet up. It would be nice to see them in the flesh.

Okay, so there are my "goals" for the year. Now for my challenges. You can view more details about the challenges by clicking on the "2011 Challenges" link at the top of the page)

Challenges

1) 11 in 11 - 121 books to read to finish
2) 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die - 16+ books to read to finish
3) 2011 Countdown Challenge - 66 Books to read to finish (on-going from 2010)
4) A - Z Challenge - 52 books to read to finish
5) Book Blogger Bucket List - 26 Books to read to finish
6) Canadian Reading Challenge IV - 13 Books to to read to finish (on-going from 2010)
7) Chunkster Reading Challenge - 8 books to read to finish
8) Fantasy Reading Challenge - 12 Books to read to finish
9)Futeristic/Sci-Fi Reading Challenge - 8 books to read to finish
10) Global Reading Challenge - 21 books to read to finish
11) Historical Reading Challenge - 10 books to read to finish
12) Ireland Reading Challenge - 6 books to read to finish
13) Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge - 12 books to finish **
14) NaJuReMoNoMo - read novels for the month of January
15) New Authors Challenge - 25 books to read to finish
16) Take a Chance 3 Challenge - 10 books to read to finish
17) War Through the Generations -5 books to read to finish

** For the Mental Illness Advocacy challenge, since it is a topic close to heart for me, when I complete the challenge I will be making a donation to the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. I think it is so important to advocate for all aspects of mental illness and support those and their families who are affected by it.

And that's it for my goals for the year. Now on to write those five reviews.