Book Review

Review: The Rift Uprising

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The Rift Uprising by Amy S. FosterI think I had different expectations when I picked up this book. I wasn't expecting a YA novel. Once I got over that realization, however, I thought the story and plot were good, but the character development needed a little work. The best part of the novel was the idea of a rift that goes to multiple different Earths with varying points in evolution and the multiple paths taken by the different versions. The least interesting part of the story, or rather, the part of the story that needed a little more work was with the romance between Ryn and Ezra. There was just something too easy and simple about their instant attraction to each other. I guess I was looking for a little more drama. The setup of the conflict between ARC and the Citadels was very compelling and worth reading the book. I think Ms. Foster has left herself a wonderful opening for the next installment and I look forward to seeing where she takes the story from here. This was a light, easy read and I recommend it.View all my reviews

Review: The Crown Tower

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The Crown Tower by Michael J. SullivanThis has been the fantasy series I've been looking for. The characters are fun and well drawn out, the plot is not convoluted, and the writing flows easily. Having read a lot of epic fantasies lately, I really enjoyed reading a book that I could finish within a couple of weeks (and that's mostly reading a chapter a night). But it's length by no means counts against it's quality or substance. Hadrian and Royce remind me of a middle-ages version of Redford and Newman. I understand that this is the first book in a prequel trilogy and the author explains the chronological order of his books in the forward. He basically said that you could read the original trilogy first and then come back to these books or just start in chronological order. I chose to start with the latter. I'm already almost halfway done with the second book in this series and I don't anticipate stopping until I've read all six books. I highly recommend this novel for some serious fantasy fun.View all my reviews

Review: The Summer Dragon

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The Summer Dragon by Todd LockwoodI thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first thing that stood out for me was the writing. One would think that someone who has spent their professional life illustrating books rather than writing them would be lacking in the prose department. Any assumption along those lines proved highly inaccurate in regards to this book. Todd Lockwood engages the reader from the first page with this lovely story of dragons and those who breed and raise them. The villains in this tale are down right nasty and every time they appear in the book I found myself wondering how the hell anyone was going to survive. It was this combination of prose, well thought out characters, and gripping story that kept me up late several nights. This is the first in a planned trilogy and I can't wait for the next book to come out. I will be buying it the day of its release.View all my reviews

Review: The Black Widow

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The Black Widow by Daniel SilvaI've read every single one of Daniel Silva's books, going back to The Unlikely Spy (a time period I wish he would return to someday) and I must say, without a doubt, this was the best one yet. Reading about an Israeli spy who also happens to be one of the world's best art restorers always gives his readers a history lesson amidst a tense thriller plot. But what made this book so memorable and hard to put down was the timeliness of the story. With what seem like daily attacks around the world coming from ISIS, it was engrossing to get a glimpse into that horrible world and it's players. Obviously, this is a work of fiction, but Silva has a knack for hitting things close to reality with his books, and he has even foreshadowed real events in some of his earlier books. Make no mistake, the massive attack in the climax of the book is plausible and it makes the story all the more breathtaking. His writing style is breezy and flawless as it fades into the background and doesn't interfere with the joy of reading. I cannot recommend this book enough.View all my reviews

Review: Lost Stars

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Lost Stars by Claudia GrayI listened to the audiobook on audible and I rather enjoyed it. I was expecting it to take place after Return of the Jedi but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it occurred during the entirety of the original trilogy. It was fascinating to get a different perspective of the events we've all come to know over the years. Especially getting inside the heads of soldiers of the Empire after losing so many friends with the destruction of the Death Star. I thought the two main characters were well drawn out and I found their life long relationship arc to be realistic and natural.Another nice touch with the audiobooks is that they play music and sound effects in the background which adds another layer to the story. I'm sure some find that distracting but it definitely added to the experience for me. I would highly recommend this book to any Star Wars fan or YA fans in general.View all my reviews

Book Review: Star Wars: Bloodline

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I have read several Star Wars books, mostly the novelizations of the movies, but I also read Timothy Zahn's trilogy, and I enjoyed them very much. I believe I've read a smattering of other ones here and there but I wouldn't say I was a complete expert on all things Star Wars in the literature sense. Now that most of the offshoot books are not considered canon anymore, it feels like a fresh slate to start reading canon books as they come out.

Still reeling with excitement months after The Force Awakens, I was happy to delve into a little Princess Leia backstory leading up to the events in the movie. "Star Wars: Bloodline" by Claudia Gray is a good book that mimics the feel of the TFW galaxy. It feels more focused, somehow, than previous Star Wars books. It makes one wonder just how much backstory JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasden came up with while writing the screenplay.

[SPOILERS] The book focuses much of its pages on palace intrigue where Princess Leia spends her time on Hosnian Prime as a Senator for the New Republic. However, there is a large political rift in the Senate between those who want the individual worlds to have more autonomy known as the "Populists" and those who want a strong central power referred to as the "Centrists." It is the conflict between these factions that most of the book swirls around. Princess Leia and her friends are on the Populist side whilst those who think that a strong central government is the only way to bring so many disparate worlds together, are seen as Empire-loving control freaks.There are a few missions that Princess Leia and her political rival Senator Casterfo, engage in, but most of the book takes place on the capital planet of Hosnian Prime (the same planet that was destroyed by the New Order in TFA). It is because of this lack of action that some readers may be put off by this book. There's not a lot of adventure or heroics, its more about setting up the coming New Order and how it rose out of the ashes of the Empire. So for those interested in knowing all the political details of the TFA world, this is a great resource and a must read. For those looking for a one-off adventure type of Star Wars story, you'll have to wait for other books to come out. 

David

Spoiler Book Review: Seveneves by Neil Stephenson

The last Neil Stephenson book I read, I didn't finish. It was Cryptonomicon. I know that is a favorite of many of his fans but for whatever reason, I just couldn't slog through the rest. If you think Stephen King can prattle on with pages of exposition, I'm not sure he has anything on Neil.

Of course, Neil wrote probably the best cyberpunk novel of all time (sorry Neuromancer fans) in Snow Crash. That was such a fun and inventive book that was unlike anything else I had read at the time. I still haven't had the nerve to tackle Neil's Baroque Cycle, though, I do plan on reading it one day.

[Spoilers from here on out] When I heard the premise of this book, something clicked in me because I knew it was a subject Neil could take on and make very interesting. Seveneves is about the moon suddenly exploding into seven different pieces by some unknown agent. Shortly afterward, two of the rocks collide to make an eighth one. Following that event, scientists realize that the rocks of the moon will keep running into each other at an exponential rate. Eventually, trillions of these will fall toward the earth and burn up in our atmosphere and essentially light the sky on fire. The face of the Earth will be sterilized in two years and there is nothing they can do to stop it.

The solution they come up with is to send lottery-selected people up to the ISS in "Arks" that will act as a swarm that can move out of the way when asteroids threaten to hit them, like a school of fish evading a predator. The hope is that humanity can survive in orbit for the thousands of years the Earth will remain uninhabitable.

The book has three parts: The first deals with getting ready up in space before the "Hard Rain;" the second deals with the catastrophic event and it's immediate aftermath; and the third shoots forward 5,000 years later.

I felt like the first two parts were the strongest of the story. There's political bullshit that goes on, even in space under such dire circumstances, and it feels all too plausible as to why and how it happens.

Part two gets pretty dark when the ramifications of said politics prove devastating and almost wipe out humanity.

Part three is interesting more from a possible future engineering point of view rather than from story. It was a long book and I did feel like it drifted into exposition hell a few times, especially in part three, but the overall story and writing are good enough to carry you through those parts.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those who enjoy hard science fiction. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

What did you think about it?

David