Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review: Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Synopsis: When Cordelia Naismith and her survey crew are attacked by a renegade group from Barrayar, she is taken prisoner by Aral Vorkosigan, commander of the Barrayan ship that has been taken over by an ambitious and ruthless crew member. Aral and Cordelia survive countless mishaps while their mutual admiration and even stronger feelings emerge. (from the online description)

Note: This edition contains the short story Aftermaths.

Review:  With a feisty, complex heroine and a stalwart hero, this book is fun and engaging. It read more like a sci-fi romance, which I found amusing, consider I didn’t realize the genre stretched by to the late 80s/early 90s. As for the story, it’s lovely, with just the write about of romance, science, action, and adventure. It was a bit darker than I anticipated, in particular how it did not shy away from the realities of war. The only part the was hard for me what the romance, actually – it happened too quickly for my taste, but that’s my only true complete about the story

As for the short story included, it was superb. One of the best I’ve read in a long time. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5 / 4.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-671-7287-2
Year Published: 1986
Date Finished: 6-24-2017
Pages: 313

Monday, August 7, 2017

Review: Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Synopsis: On the world called Hyperion, beyond the reach of galactic law, waits a creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands. (from the online description)

Review: I had a hard time getting into this. Divided into several shorter stories, each told from a different character,  helped a bit, but the description of technology, or lack of, muddled me horrible. I often got lost trying to figure out the jargon and missed the story. Still, once I got into it, I was hooked and enjoyed the complex world-building, the mystery, the creepiness of the Shrike, and the character. However, the ending was not acceptable. It just...ended! Only after I discovered that the author actually wrote this and the Fall of Hyperion as ONE STORY but the publisher released it as two stories. I understand as the single volume would have been enormous but still - not cool, man.

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: Hugo Award Winner, 1990

ISBN: 0-553-28368-5
Year Published: 1989
Date Finished: 6-13-2017
Pages: 482

Review: The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books by Marta McDowell

Synopsis: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House series is a classic coming-of-age story based on Wilder’s own family and the pioneer spirit of the time. Deeply rooted in the natural world, Wilder describes the plants, animals, and landscapes in such detail, they are practically their own characters. The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by New York Times bestselling author Marta McDowell, explores Wilder’s deep relationship with the landscape. Follow the Wilder’s wagon trail starting in the Wisconsin setting of Little House in the Big Woods, through the Dakotas, and finally to Missouri. You’ll learn details about Wilder’s life and inspirations, discover how to visit the real places today, and even learn to grow the plants and vegetables featured in the series. The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a must-have treasure celebrating the American landscape through Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beautiful and wild life with original illustrations by Helen Sewell and Garth Williams and lush historical and contemporary photographs. (from the online description)

Review: With simple prose and lovely pictures, author Marta McDowell takes the reader through the ecology, botany, and agriculture that formed the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. From the sloughs of South Dakota to the apple orchard of Missouri, McDowell shows us the world Laura saw and loved. Laura loved farm life – planting, growing, raising chickens, harvest. She found great beauty and peace in the slow cycle of seasons. McDowell does an excellent job of comparing Laura’s real life to her books, and showing the reader where real life made the books richer and fuller. She also focuses heavily on the farm Laura and Almanzo create in the Ozarks, and uses detailed record kept by the Wilder’s to demonstrate their love of the earth and all growing things.
As a want-to-be Gardener and an avid Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, I found this book a delightful read. It intrigued me to read about her life, her garden, her farm, and the things she loved – what flowers and plants and vegetables she grew. I highly recommend as a must for any Wilder-lovers library and an enjoyable read for any historical gardener. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-60469-727-8
Year Published: 2017
Date Finished: 6-18-2017
Pages: 376

Acquistions: August Book Haul

I ONLY SPENT $2.00! Mostly because I got several books free. FREEEEEE!!!

River Town: Two Years on the Yanztee by Peter Hessler

Hank Zipzer: Day of the Iguana by Henry Wrinkler

The Hacking of the American Mind by Robert Lustig (Library Thing Early Review)

The Twilight Saga (Box Set) by Stephanie Meyer (Someone left this bitch in the TRASH! Whaaaa?)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Acquisition: June Book Haul

Most of these were purchased early in the month, at a book sale. I have no regrets.

Total: $34.38

The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Devils and Demons: A Treasure of Fiendish Tales Old and New ed. by Marvin Kaye

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Giant Days Volume 1 by Allison, Treiman, Cogar, et al

The Black Company by Glen Cook

The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Battletech: The Warrior Trilogy, Vol. 2, Riposte by Michael A. Stackpole

The Powers That Be by Anne McCaffrey

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Giant Days, Volume 1 by John Allison, Whitney Cogar, Lissa Treiman

Synopsis: Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of hand-wringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive. Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird. (from the online description)

Review: Advertised as a “slice-of-life” comic (so, no superheroes, aliens, or strange mystical beings), this story follows three young women as the go to University. And as you would expect, things go awry.
With warmth, humor, and a keen eye for the details of a first semester at college, the author draws the reader into a world both familiar and new. He accurately captures the uncertainty, the bravado, and the wonder of being a new at college. I particularly enjoyed the complexity of the characters and their relationships, the situations they find themselves, and how they solve the problems they often encounter.
The art is bright, bold, and expressive, and is as much a part of the story as the words. Entertaining and thought-provoking, with flawed, endearing characters and engaging stories, this is worth reading.  
Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: Two Eisner Awards and Four Harvey Awards (2016)

ISBN: 978-1-60886-789-9
Year Published: 2015
Date Finished: 6-10-2017
Pages: 56

Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Birthmarked by Carah O'Brien (Birthmarked Trilogy, Book One)

Synopsis: In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia's mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia's choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying. (from the online description)

Review: Set in a future earth, where water is scarce and supplies limited, Gaia lives on the outside of the Enclave. As a midwife, she is bound to take a quota of the babies she delivers and give them as tribute to the people inside. But it isn’t until her parents disappear and she goes searching for them, that she learns why.
I won’t spoil the story here, but I will say, this was a decent read, neither bad nor good. The world-building is an intriguing blend of science fiction, with some living in primitive style and some living in high tech wonder. The idea of women forced to surrender their children gives the story an emotional edge. But the characters lacked depth, often one-dimensional, and the plot seemed contrived and forced at points.
I finished the book and it end feeds directly into the next in the trilogy. But I wasn’t hooked enough to read the next of the series.
Readers of Young Adult fiction will enjoy this, as it has a similar premise (strong female protagonist fighting evil to save family) as many of the most popular YA books. 

Bookmarks: 3.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-312-67472-4
Year Published: 2010
Date Finished: 6-4-2017
Pages: 361