Thursday, December 31

Book Review: Redshirts

Title: Redshirts

Author: John Scalzi

Pages: Ebook 217

Summary: Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship's Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn't be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship's captain, its chief science...

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out strong it was funny, a bit corney and campy but funny - while I did find it lost me a bit in the middle, it did end up being a good read.

I think the most redeeming part of the book was the last paragraph of chapter 23 and chapter 24. I won't say much to avoid spoilers, but that saved the entire book for me - it just made me laugh out loud and it was fitting with the entire theme of the book - especially with how the first half of the book went.

The parts I didn't like was that during the middle the flow of the book just didn't mesh as well as it did during the first half, and some of the plot was became to jumbled - it still worked for the story but there was something about it that just didn't feel the same.

Otherwise it was a fun read - and it helped me get out of my massive reading slump I've had.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, if you are looking for a quick, mindless funny read it's a good choice.

What to read next: More by the author

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: Daydreams of Angels

Title: Daydreams of Angels

Author: Heather O'Neill

Pages: Ebook 224

Summary: In Daydreams of Angels, O'Neill's first collection of short stories, she gives free reign to her imaginative gifts. In "The Ugly Ducklings," generations of Nureyev clones live out their lives in a grand Soviet experiment. In "Dear Piglet," a teenaged cult follower writes a letter to explain the motivation behind her crime. And in another tale, a grandmother reveals where babies come from: the beach, where young mothers-to-be hunt for infants in the surf. Each of these beguiling stories twists the beloved narratives of childhood--fairy tales, storybooks, Bible stories--to uncover the deepest truths of family life.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: There were some very interesting short stories in this collection and others that were familiar stories, with an interesting twist - some of which I found to be clever and enjoyable, while others I found didn't work out as well as it could have. The writing by the author is incredible - but I found that my biggest issue with the collection were that a lot of the short stories didn't keep my attention. While a few stood out, most lost me half way through the story.

Overall, a good collection by the author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. The writing was strong the stories were good - if you're a fan of short stories than it's well worth reading.

What to read next: I'd try the other Giller finalists of 2015.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: Fifteen Dogs

Title: Fifteen Dogs

Author: André Alexis

Pages: Ebook 135

 -- I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.

-- I'll wager a year's servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable...

My Rating: 9.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book has become one of my favourite reads of the year - I went in not knowing what to expect, but I became engrossed in this book - and it was one of those reads that was hard to put down.

The characters - although they were all dogs, was what made this book to be such an enjoyable read. You cheered some on, while others you hated with a passions - but pretty much all of the characters were incredibly well written and developed. By the end of the book, I was nearly in tears, when my favourite character died - but the author wrote his story so wonderfully, it was impossible not to get attached to him.

The writing was incredible, I've only read one other book by the author, but I do plan on reading more. The author's voice pulls you into the book and he has one of those writing styles that pull you into the book and makes you want to read it through in a sitting.

All in all it was a fantastic read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would it was well written story, a little different than what was out there, but it's a must read.

What to read next: More works by the author, I enjoyed Childhood a lot. The other Giller finalists.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge

Book Review: The Love of a Good Woman

Title: The Love of a Good Woman

Author: Alice Munro

Pages: 286

Summary: Eight new stories about what people will do for love, and the unexpected routes their passion will force them to take. A prim, old landlady in Vancouver with a crime of passion lurking in her past. A young mother with a secret life who abandons her children to be with her lover. A country doctor in the 1960s discovered by his daughter to be helping desperate women, his "special patients."These and other fascinating characters weave their way through stories that track the changes that time brings to families, lovers and even to friends who share old, intimate secrets about the "prostration of love" in a collection that is clear-eyed about the clutter of our emotional lives.

The rich layering that gives Alice Munro's work such a strong sense of life is particularly apparent in the title story, in which the death of a local optometrist brings an entire community into focus - from the preadolescent boys who find his body to the man who probably killed him, to the woman who must decide what to do about what she might know.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This wasn't my favourite collection by the author but it was still an enjoyable read. I did find that a lot of the stories in this collection stood out more compared to her other collections - they almost seemed to be darker which was an aspect I enjoyed, but there was just something about this collection that didn't grip me as much as her others.

Overall it was a good collection by the author, but this one wouldn't be at the top of the books I'd recommend by her.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's not the best of Munro's short story collections, but it does have a different tone to the book, compared to her others and it, like all of her works, is wonderfully written.

What to read next: More Alice Munro

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2015 Category Challenge, 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, MTBR Challenge

Saturday, December 5

Book Review: Armada

Title: Armada

Author: Ernest Cline

Pages: Ebook 312

Summary: Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out okay. It was a little corny, but in a fun way, and I thought that it would carry forward and be a quick amusing read. But, eventually that initial appeal wore off and the book didn't exactly work out for me.

While I enjoyed the concept of the story, I didn't enjoy reading it. The constant quips of all the different science fiction references got tiring after a while. At first, they helped build the character, after it became repetitive and took away from moving the story forward.

Parts of the story were predictable, although parts were fun to read it was hard to push through to the end. Overall it was an okay read, but it wasn't impressive and I'm not sure if I'd read the author again.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm told the author's other book Ready Player one was well done, so perhaps I'd recommend that one, but I'm not sure I'd recommended this one.

What to read next: Ready Player One

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge