Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Mammoth Hunters - 5 stars

Summary of The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel:
The authenticity of background detail, the lilting prose rhythms and the appealing conceptual audacity that won many fans for The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Valley of the Horses continue to work their spell in this third installment of Auel's projected six-volume Earth's Children saga set in Ice Age Europe. The heroine, 18-year-old Ayla, cursed and pronounced dead by the "flathead" clan that reared her, now takes her chances with the mammoth-hunting Mamutoi, attended by her faithful lover, Jondalar. Gradually overcoming the prejudice aroused by her flathead connection, Ayla wins acceptance into the new clan through her powers as a healer, her shamanistic potential, her skill with spear and slingshot and her way with animals (she rides a horse, domesticates a wolf cub, both "firsts," it would seem, and even rides a lion). She also wins the heart of a bone-carving artist of "sparkling wit" (not much in evidence), which forces her to make a painful choice between the curiously complaisant Jondalar, her first instructor in love's delights, and this more charismatic fellow. The story is lyric rather than dramatic, and Ayla and her lovers are projections of a romantic rather than a historical imagination, but readers caught up in the charm of Auel's story probably won't care.

I had a hard time rereading this book, because of memories of the emotional anguish I felt the first time. It really captures your heart, and your mind. I cried the first time, and the second time I wanted to hurry through the parts that I knew were coming up and would make me cry. After reading this book my emotions would be influenced for hours afterward. If the book made me sad, I would be sad afterwards and needed to be comforted. There are few books that can do this to me, and it really shows the power of the story Auel has built up. I highly recommend it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Crown of Dalemark - 4 stars

Summary of The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones:
The story's engaging first part concerns Mitt, a sensitive, courageous young man who speaks his mind. An earl and countess assign him the unpleasant task of murdering Noreth, a teen who believes it's her destiny to seek the ring, cup, and sword that will allow her to unify the land and become queen. The author then leaps ahead 200 years and introduces Maewen, 13, who is sent back in time to impersonate Noreth. Maewen is quite clueless about her purpose, but adjusts to the strangeness of being in the past and on a quest remarkably quickly. Her followers accept her as Noreth without suspicion?proving Wynne Jones's observation that people see what they want to see.

This is the conclusion of the Dalemark Quartet, and it deftly brings together the previous three books. They did not seem to connect at all, but the forth one brings it together in ways I had not thought of as I was reading the previous ones. It was literally awesome, and I finished the book in one day. I highly recommend it, but only after reading the other three because otherwise you will be confused.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Valley of Horses - 4 stars

Summary The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel:
Auel's second installment in the Earth's Children series does start out fairly slow. Not only does the plot follow Ayla and her newly-found animal companions but it also focuses on Jondalar, the handsome blonde-haired, blue-eyed wonder, and his brother, Thonalon. Most of the first half of the book tends to make you want to skip pages to get to "the good part" however, again, there is a wealth of knowledge about the Ice Age throughout the pages. Auel even uses several pages to discuss flint knapping. For those of you who aren't interested in the historical perspective, you may find the book rather dull until Ayla and Jondalar finally meet.

This book continues the story of Ayla. I found it enjoyable, but there were often parts that got boring that I skimmed, such as descriptions of how to hunt. It's information heavy, but it's still an enjoyable story. Some of the people don't seem real, but those are minor characters so it's forgivable. The summary above is a pretty accurate description of how I feel about this book.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Clan of the Cave Bear - 5 stars

Summary of Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel:
When her parents are killed by an earthquake, 5-year-old Ayla wanders through the forest completely alone. Cold, hungry, and badly injured by a cave lion, the little girl is as good as gone until she is discovered by a group who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear. This clan, left homeless by the same disaster, have little interest in the helpless girl who comes from the tribe they refer to as the "Others." Only their medicine woman sees in Ayla a fellow human, worthy of care. She painstakingly nurses her back to health--a decision that will forever alter the physical and emotional structure of the clan. Although this story takes place roughly 35,000 years ago, its cast of characters could easily slide into any modern tale. The members of the Neanderthal clan, ruled by traditions and taboos, find themselves challenged by this outsider, who represents the physically modern Cro-Magnons. And as Ayla begins to grow and mature, her natural tendencies emerge, putting her in the middle of a brutal and dangerous power struggle.

This is an excellent book! People have told me that only old ladies read these her books, and while I've noticed that to be true, it doesn't mean that others shouldn't read them. You can learn a lot from the book, and the movie is does not do it justice. You really get to love the characters, and feel for them, and understand how hard life used to be. I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Code Name: Princess - 3 stars

Summary of Code Name: Princess by Christina Skye:
This slim but action-packed sequel to Skye's previous romance, Code Name: Nanny, stars navy SEAL Hawk MacKenzie and hotel investigator Jess Mulcahey (sister to FBI agent Summer Mulcahey, the heroine from Nanny). The pair come together under tumultuous circumstances when Jess, pretending to be minor royalty, bribes a hotel manager into upgrading her to a nicer room, which turns out to be Hawk's digs. Although the hotel has changed locks, it doesn't deter Hawk, who gains entry with a "highly illicit piece of technology" and catches her in the shower—a plot twist used in Skye's last book. Hawk is hot on the trail of a stolen government lab animal, and Jess is afraid the hotel staff will seek revenge on her for a bad review. Neither has the time or patience for the other's drama, but they are thrown together time and again in the genre's usual fashion—chasing the bad guys through the fog and rain of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, easing sexual tension in a stalled hotel elevator and tracking down the lab animal, an adorable koala bear.

This book is so cheesy. It's written well, but some parts just seem very silly and unbelievable. It's a good book to read for fluff. I may end up reading the previous book, since it uses some of the same characters, but it's not like I'm in any hurry.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Leave it to Psmith - 4 stars

Summary of Leave it to Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse:
A debononair young Englishman, Psmith (“the p is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan”) has quit the fish business, “even though there is money in fish,” and decided to support himself by doing anything that he is hired to do by anyone. Wandering in and out of romantic, suspenseful, and invariably hilarious situations, Psmith is in the great Wodehouse tradition.

This book is hilarious! I could not stop cracking up laughing. I love how everyone's lives are conveniently intertwined and fate seems to be everywhere. I highly recommend reading this book for the entertainment value. It's easy to read, too, and goes quick. The summary isn't very good,but that's ok. It's basically that Psmith tries to get a girl, who works for a man whose relatives are trying to steal his sister's necklace. Complicated but easy to follow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Nerds Like it Hot - 4 Stars

Summary of Nerds Like it Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson:
Hollywood makeup artist Gillian McCormick wouldn't normally be caught dead on a cruise aimed at single geeks. But as the sole witness to a murder, hiding out may be her only chance at staying alive. With P.I. Lex Manchester guarding her, and a voluptuous disguise in place of her plain-Jane wardrobe, Gillian should be safe... if she can resist a titanic attraction to Lex that's making her fantasize about some extra-naughty cruise activities...He's rediscovered his inner nerd...Lex thought he had left behind his nerdy ways, but his suave demeanor has no chance against Gillian's bombshell image and the smart, sexy woman within. And when the scent of seduction wafts through the sea air, what's a red-blooded male to do?And the passion they've found is about to get out of control...With a passenger list that includes a mobster on a mission, a cross-dressing sociopath, and hundreds of lusty nerds, Lex must find a way to keep Gillian safe-and prove that he's truly her nerd for all seasons...

Like all her nerd books, Thompson succeeds at hooking up every character with someone, or most characters at least. It seems she doesn't like them to get lonely. I liked this one because the sex wasn't immediate, and happened at just the right time. However, I wonder about her nerds because they are getting less and less nerdy with each successful book. I wouldn't have called Lex a nerd at all, and she could have done much better to make it seem so. However, the concept of the nerd cruise made it worthwhile. I do wish she didn't use the stereotypes so much, as not all nerds look like they have no fashion sense.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, and forgive her for the issues I have with it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Mote in God's Eye - 5 Stars

Summary of The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle:
In the year 3016, the Second Empire of Man spans hundreds of star systems, thanks to the faster-than-light Alderson Drive. No other intelligent beings have ever been encountered, not until a light sail probe enters a human system carrying a dead alien. The probe is traced to the Mote, an isolated star in a thick dust cloud, and an expedition is dispatched.

In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization--at least one million years old--that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming and kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they've been unable to solve in over a million years.

This is the first collaboration between Niven and Pournelle, two masters of hard science fiction, and it combines Pournelle's interest in the military and sociology with Niven's talent for creating interesting, believable aliens. The novel meticulously examines every aspect of First Contact, from the Moties' biology, society, and art, to the effects of the meeting on humanity's economics, politics, and religions. And all the while suspense builds as we watch the humans struggle toward the truth.

This is a very engaging book. It's innovative and captivating. Despite being written over 30 years ago, I found it very plausable. The aliens were delightfully unique and realistic to what we may find in the universe. Their ways of life were wonderfully non-human. I strongly recommend this book to others, as it is well worth the read.

Adam's Navel - 3 Stars

Summary of Adam's Navel by Michael Sims:
Are we more than the sum of our parts? Perhaps, but it's fascinating nonetheless to look at our noses, ears, feet, and other bits as isolated evolutionary stories. That's just what Michael Sims does in Adam's Navel, an amusing collection of bodily facts. Sims wrote the book while laid out recovering from back surgery, jotting free association musings about whatever body part he had in mind. The result is a set of chapters with such titles as "Skin Deep," "The Not-Quite-Naked Ape," and "Our Steed the Leg." Besides anatomy and evolution, Sims turns to literature, movies, comics, and pop culture to glean references. He doesn't have patience for puritanical or non-egalitarian attitudes toward body parts, defending Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues against a "conspiracy of silence" and dismissing Camille Paglia's "nonsensical argument" that male urination is superior to that of females.

This book was interesting, but not what I was expecting at all. I thought it'd be more about what real reasons we have for body parts, not random speculation and stories that have nothing to do with why we have it. It's good for a one-time read but I wouldn't recommend buying it if you plan on re-reading books.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For the Love of Venice - 2 Stars

Summary of For the Love of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli:
Reluctantly, 17-year-old Percy sets off with his family to spend the summer in Venice. With his civil-engineer father absorbed in his work project, his artist mother flitting off to absorb the ambiance, and his engaging little brother immersing himself in the adventure, Percy finds himself listlessly wandering the beautiful old city. Then he meets Graziella. The attraction is mutual and instant, although the young woman is perplexingly adversarial. Conflicts arise when Percy discovers that she is a member of an underground political group prepared to use extremist measures. Frustrated by the language barrier and by political differences, Percy is on uncertain ground; he is unable to understand Graziella's stereotyping of him as an intruding American who is among those ruining life for native Venetians. He becomes the epitome of the confused, well-meaning, liberal-minded American. A crisis brings the two closer, and they are able to talk and expose the fallacies and truths in one another's thinking.

Eh, this book was decent. I'm glad it was short, because it just seemed absolutely silly. Things seemed very unlikely to occur and just not realistic at all. Don't read it.

Doomsday Book - 5 Stars

Summary of Doomsday Book by Connie Willis:
The year is 2048 A.D., and a young history student named Kivrin is preparing to do an on site study of the turbulent fourteenth century. Her mission has placed two of the University's professors at cross purposes, as the proponent for this study, Mr. Gilchrist, finds himself pitted against Mr. Dunworthy, Kivrin's mentor, who believes that this trip in time is far too dangerous. Mr. Gilchrist, however, is in the position to have the final say on the project.

Kivrin is scheduled to land in the rural English countryside of the fourteenth century some twenty years before the Black Death savages England. Armed with the knowledge of fourteenth century customs, dress, languages, religious practices, and history, Kivrin is raring to go back in time. When she travels back, however, an unforeseen crisis in the present places Kivrin in a potentially deadly situation upon her arrival in the past.

The book alternates between what is happening in the present and what is happening in the past, as those in the present work to unravel the mystery of what went wrong. Meanwhile, Kivrin struggles to overcome the anomalous situations she encounters that run contra to her expectations. Believing herself stranded in the past, Kivrin artfully maneuvers around the precarious situations in which she finds herself, never losing her humanity despite the horror of her situation, given what went wrong.

This book is amazing. I've read it before, and I had forgotten how good it is. I got hooked and anxious about everything going on. The book really engages you and draws you in so you experience the same emotions that everyone else is. I highly recommend this book to others.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Spellcoats - 4 Stars

Summary of The Spellcoats by Diana Wynne Jones:
"The Spellcoats" is the only book in the Quartet which is told in the first person. The voice we hear belongs to a young girl named Tanaqui, living with her family and her family's collection of gods on the banks of the great River. She doesn't speak her story, or write it - she weaves the words into an intricately detailed "rugcoat", a kind of wearable diary. The time is many centuries before the Dalemark of the first two volumes. There are no guns or bombs, scarcely any musical instruments, and the continent has a different shape, dominated by the one huge brown north-flowing river, worshipped by Tanaqui's neighbors as a god in its own right.

This is the third in the Dalemark Quartet, and I like it even more than the previous 2. I was wondering when there would finally be a heroine, and it was in this one. I wish I could remember a bit more the mythology in the previous books so I could piece them together better. The epilogue helped some, but a good cheat sheet would be better,. Despite that, the story is very engaging and enjoyable.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Men in Kilts - 4 stars

Summary of Men in Kilts by Katie MacAlister:
Mystery writer Kathie Williams firmly believes in rules when it comes to romance, and falling in love at first glance is not one of them. Yet somehow one look at Iain MacLaren and Kathie forgets the conference she's attending to dream up ways to seduce the dishy Scotsman. She accepts a surprise dinner invitation from Iain, which leads to a much more intimate kind of evening than she ever could have imagined. Throwing caution to the wind, Kathie agrees to spend the rest of her vacation with him on his sheep farm in the Scottish Highlands, but any hope of a long-term relationship with her laconic lover means dealing with his assorted relatives and neighbors, a scheming ex-paramour who is not about to let Iain slip through her clutches, and Iain's career, which involves letting adorable lambs become someone's entree.

This is another one of Katie MacAlister's genius romances, which always involve believable situations, real women (curves and all), and likable characters. I found myself finding a lot in common with Kathie, the main character. I laughed at her determination, and was also laughing at myself for doing the same thing in my own relationship. I saw her fear, uncertainness, and later trust mirror my own relationship. I really could connect with the story, which then made it even more enjoyable at the happy ending, as that's how I want my own life to end up. I definitely recommend this to the romance-enthused.

Monday, April 30, 2007

M'Lady Witch - 4 stars

Summary of M'Lady Witch by Christopher Stasheff:
M'Lady Witch is charming, a blend of adventure, intrigue, and (of course) a healthy dose of romance. Cordelia Gallowglass, daughter of SCENT agent Rod Gallowglass, has been targeted for destruction by the enemies of democracy on her native planet of Gramayre. Now emerging into womanhood, she has always thought she would marry Prince Alain. Yet Alain seems disturbingly prissy and overbearing, and Cordelia herself is not sure whether she loves him. When he, desperate to prove himself a capable suitor, decides to take lessons in gallantry and romance from her errant brother Geoffrey, she knows she's going to have to stop the two fools before enemies none of them were aware of begin to close in...

This is part of a series that Stasheff writes about "warlocks" who really just have esp powers. I have never read any of the other books, as this was purchased for me by my mother. They seem like they could be interesting. Luckily there is enough explanation that reading the previous ones is not required. While the book itself is cheesy (thee, thou, etc as well as the tagline: "Willful, wayward, wild... the Warlock's daughter is all grown up!"), it has enough adventure and plot to make it interesting. It's a good read, if you don't mind a few things left unresolved and cheesy romance.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Drowned Ammet - 4 stars

Summary of Drowned Ammet by Diana Wynne Jones:
Drowned Ammet is the story of Mitt, a boy who joins a band of Freedom Fighters in a bid to try and crush the tyrranical ruler of Holand, and at the same time, to get revenge on the people who killed his father.

I read this soon after reading the first book in the quartet, Cart and Cwidder. I finished this the next day. It's very good, and captures your interest right from the start. There are no characters I disliked; they were all very believable. Based off of the two books, I anticipate the third one being just as good. I recommend reading this book.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cart and Cwidder - 4 stars

Summary of Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones:
Cart and Cwidder is the first in the best-selling Dalemark Quartet of books and tells the story of Moril and his brother and sister who are travelling musicians journeying through Dalemark, until one day they pick up a mysterious passenger. Somehow Moril's family and the stranger are becoming bound together in terror, flight, and music.

At first I didn't like the book. Clennen really annoyed me. But then about 50 pages in things changed and I really liked how the story went. I immensely enjoyed the lack of conclusive ending, forcing you to read the second book. There were parts where I could say that normally I'd get annoyed at the cliche, but it was written in such a way that it avoided that feeling. Even though the book is meant for teens, I still highly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Water Witch - 5 Stars

Summary of Water Witch by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice:
At the instigation of her con-artist father, Deza masquerades as a witch who can control the water supply of the desert planet of Mahali, in order to deceive its rulers and become rich, but the deception backfires.

This book is EXCELLENT! I was hooked from the first page. Since this was written in the early 80s, I feared that the writing would be dense like most of Willis' early writing. I was very wrong, and I'm glad that was the case. I could not put the book down, and breezed through it. It's quite short, but that doesn't detract from its enjoyableness. I wasn't expecting how things turned out, and everything progressed with no confusion and anger at it being cliche. It was a wonderful break from the last book. It's only 216 pages, and I think everyone should read this book as it's just THAT good. :)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Wizard of London

Summary of The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey:
Lackey's latest Elemental Masters novel is set in Victorian England. The Harton School for Boys and Girls, run by Isabelle and Frederick Harton, is one of the few schools that takes students whose magic doesn't pertain to the elements, and who are, therefore, frequently ignored by the Elemental Masters. Such unheeded gifts include clairvoyance, telepathy, and the very rare ability to truly communicate with the dead. Sarah Jane's parents, missionary healers in Africa, send the 12-year-old to Harton, and she is happy there, especially after she befriends Nan, a street urchin. After an attempt is made on Sarah and Nan's lives, it is clear that a powerful Elemental Master wants one or both girls dead. Isabelle Harton must seek the aid of the Elemental Masters of London, though the Masters' Circle is led by Lord Alderscroft, who once cruelly jilted her.

*yawn* I had the hardest time reading this book. The only interesting character, Lord Alderscroft, hardly ever showed up until the end. Nan and Sarah got on my nerves, and I found myself wondering how they were always so perfect. Annoyingly perfect. I didn't find the book interesting until the last 100 pages or so, when the main part of the plot finally got going. All pages before then were just fluff and unneeded. And the bird Neville... ugh, why must Nan have a bird as well, just because she asked for it? Cliche. I really don't recommend this at all. The writing style was insanely annoying. Normally I'm a big fan of Lackey, but this one wasn't worth the read at all.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sky Coyote

Summary of Sky Coyote by Kage Baker:
Cunningly blending a pre-Columbian past with a 24th century extrapolated from every adult's nightmare about the younger generation, Baker's second installment in her Company series proves a witty match to In the Garden of Iden. Fresh from a cushy R&R after a supervisory stint in the Inquisition, time-hopping cyborg Facilitator Joseph jaunts to 16th-century Alta California. There, cybernetically outfitted with fur and paws, he apotheosizes to the cannily entrepreneurial Chumash Indian tribe so he can collect them and their entire biosystem for Company studies in the remote future. Joseph's Company is Baker's deliciously wicked platform for satirizing past, present and all-too-likely future human frailties. From sure-handed sendups of 24th-century Cinema Standard speech patterns and a dismayingly suggestive portrait of the Chumash Medical AssociationAstaring eyes, knotted hair and an air of too frequent consumption of alkaloidsAto the Company's sacred Greater Mission Statement, Baker nails her 20th-century targets: societal, religious and oh-so-personal hypocrisy.

I read the first book in this series, The Garden of Iden quite awhile back and remembered liking it enough that I wanted the second. It was years until I had finally gotten around to ordering it, and I'm pleased to find that I wasn't mistaken in adding it to my list. I love the historical context pitted against the futuristic, making it a very enjoyable read. I have now found that there are 8 (?) more novels in the series, making my work cut out for me! I highly recommend this series, starting with The Gardne of Iden since it is referrenced quite a few times in Sky Coyote.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Human Story

Summary of The Human Story by James C. Davis:
Davis, who taught history at the University of Pennsylvania, has taken on an unusual project—to relate all of human history in the simplest terms possible for the broadest audience possible. The chapter titles illustrate his method of abstracting large themes from a multitude of events—"The richer countries grab the poorer," for example, isn't a bad summary of 19th-century imperialism, but it does risk seeming remedial. At his best, Davis does for human history what Stephen Hawking did for the atom and the universe—take a step back from the details and translate them into common terms. But human history lacks the elegance of subatomic particles, so the book constantly flirts with a kind of riotous overgeneralization, treating immensely complex entities like "England" or "workers" as much as possible like single individuals in psychological terms. The method works better for events that are known widely but not in detail—an example is Stalin's purges—for which Davis can bring the reader a smattering of pungent details and move on. For more familiar subjects, the reader may feel the author is being glib. Davis elevates thinkers above leaders, devoting far more space to Newton and Darwin than to Napoleon and Caesar. It is refreshing to have a treatment of human life at once learned and optimistic, and one that so forcefully focuses on the primacy of ideas in our triumphant story.

I found reading this story of our history very entertaining. I am used to boring, dry non-fiction that is like pulling teeth to read. This was actually enjoyable, easy to read, and even included some humor. It's definitely something the average person can read and enjoy. In fact, I spent 4 hours one night reading it, which for non-fiction is quite a feat. I'd recommend this if you want a good overview of our history.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Summary of Bellwether by Connie Willis:
Pop culture, chaos theory and matters of the heart collide in this unique novella from the Hugo and Nebula winning author of Doomsday Book. Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennet O'Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But a series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions.

I've read this one several times, and I always enjoy it. Willis deftly combines truth and fiction into a book that seems ultimately plausible. She does a great job with the fad information, including tidbits before each chapter. One can't help sympathize for Sandra and her helplessness against Flip. If you are looking for a good, quick read, with an opportunity for learning thrown in, this is the book to read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Circuit

Summary of The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez:
Jimenez has created a moving autobiography that some critics have compared to John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. The story begins in Mexico when the author is very young and his parents inform him that they are going on a very long trip to "El Norte." What follows is a series of stories of the family's unending migration from one farm to another as they search for the next harvesting job. Each story is told from the point of view of the author as a young child. The simple and direct narrative stays true to this perspective, never falling into moralistic or cliched patterns. The backbreaking work and the soul-crushing effect of the endless packing and moving are portrayed through a child's dismay at having to leave a school where he has just gotten comfortable or, worse, having to miss several months of a school year in order to work. Panchito's desire to help his family by working in the fields often clashes with his academic yearning. In this case, as in the case of many Mexican migrant farm workers, the American dream never comes to fruition. Lifting the story up from the mundane, Jimenez deftly portrays the strong bonds of love that hold this family together.

This book flies by quickly. It's very short, but the stories are very interesting and give good insight into the life of an immigrant child. I'd like to know more about the author and his life, and how he ended up living. I'd recommend reading it for a view of a life unlike your own.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Phoenix and Ashes

Plot of Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey:
In this dark and atmospheric rendition of the Cinderella fairy tale, an intelligent young Englishwoman is made into a virtual slave by her evil stepmother. Her only hope of rescue comes in the shape of a scarred World War I pilot of noble blood, whose own powers over the elements are about to be needed more than ever.

This is the third book in a 4-book series. I was relatively disappointed with the first one, and the second one was good. This one would be in-between the two. There were parts of it that I skimmed because I just didn't want to read about that character, but the story itself was a good retelling of Cinderella. I'd recommend it if you like fantasy books.

It's been a long day, so you're getting a short review. :-p

Monday, February 12, 2007

Promised Land

Plot of Promised Land by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice:
Delanna returns home to the mining and farming planet Keramos to settle her mother's estate, take the money, and return to a civilized planet. To her dismay, she finds that to claim her inheritance she must stay on her mother's land for one year. She also learns that upon her mother's death she was automatically married to Sonny Tanner, a man she remembers (barely) from childhood.

Despite the numerous bad reviews, I consider this my favorite book in the whole world. I have read it at least ten times, and I have parts of it memorized. I will admit to parts of the book being annoying, but I attribute that to the fact that there were two authors collaborating and so it is probably hard to please both authors. I also noticed a few discrepancies, but nothing major and once again attributed to the pains of co-authoring.

While this novel is classified as science fiction, it's more romance set in a science fiction setting. It's absolutely cute, and no sex and whatnot, so if you are looking for a romance with real characters and real situations, this is it. The characters are believable and it's hard not to get sucked into the story and start getting annoyed when a character is acting stupidly. That's the beauty of the story. It may make you mad, but you must admit that you were pulled in and engrossed in the plot.

I have been unable to find the other 2 books these authors wrote together, which disappoints me. I gather that Cynthia Felice is not a very well-known writer, as I can't find a single one of her novels. Connie Willis is also hard to find, despite the fact that she has numerous books out and they are all wonderful. I highly recommend this book, and others by either of the authors as you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blow Me Down

All work and no play make Amy a dull girl, or so Amy's precocious daughter tells her as she convinces Amy to try a new virtual-reality game, Buckling Swashes. Amy agrees in the hope of humoring her child, but instead she winds up in the middle of an amazingly detailed world and right in the path of Corbin, one hot pirate captain who turns out to be one of the game's creators. What they also discover is that they're caught inside the game--in a trap set by a disgruntled employee--and must work together to save the game and themselves.

The first book I read by Katie MacAlister was The Corset Diaries, which I greatly enjoyed. I was unsure about this one however, because of the high standards the previous book gave me. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Some parts of the book were a little boring, but the overall story was entertaining. The love scenes are a little overdone, but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment as it is easy to skip those parts.