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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-24 19:52
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — April Edition

 

I know I am way behind schedule but I have been really busy what with switching jobs, earning money, and losing an important my mamujan (maternal uncle) to Parkinson’s! Please bear with me…

 

2014

 

20705702

 

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

 

So, this is weird. I didn’t have many good reads during the past Aprils. Hopefully, that will change in the future. This book stood out because I read it while still following the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. The husband-wife duo seemed to write a book that made me like the main leads again — even if I didn’t fall in love with them the way I did with Kate & Curran and still haven’t!

 

 

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The Year-God’s Daughter by Rebecca Lochlann

 

 

Find my review here.

 

2013

 

10874177

 

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

 

Witty characters, a female protagonist, Victorian sensibilities, and impossible situations, this book should have been an instant favorite of mine. It wasn’t! Maybe, it didn’t capture my interest because I read it after finishing The Parasol Protectorate series. It could also be a lack of hilarious courtship between the protags that made it less interesting.

 

Whatever it was, I am glad I continued because the subsequent books are better.

 

 

21611

 

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

 

It has been 5 years since I read this book, so I don’t remember much. What did remain behind was the authentic display of the life of a soldier. It was that and not the story that made me go out and buy the omnibus edition. And it won’t be anything else that will get me to read the graphic novel version either!

 

P.S. I reviewed the prequel here and the second in the series (via infographic– it has skulls in it, so you might wanna check it out) here.

 

 

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

 

When I read this book, I felt as if I’d read something that had shades of both Wilde and Dahl. I still feel the same about the subsequent books in this series. There is nonsensical fun and razor-sharp wit that makes me want to keep reading. They aren’t overly long either, so that is another plus. Of course, the protagonist being female and used to fighting her own battles doesn’t detract the reader from its beauty. If I remember correctly, this one featured a villain who had no ulterior motives — he only wanted to destroy the world!

 

More praises here and here

 

For the books read in 2017 and 2018, you know where to go…

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review 2018-07-23 02:39
A Star Trek adventure by a master of the genre
Planet of Judgment - Joe Haldeman

While transporting an esteemed Starfleet scientist to his new posting, the U.S.S. Enterprise encounters a situation seemingly in defiance of the laws of science: an M-class planet orbited by a tiny black hole. As the crew proceeds to investigate the implausibilities of the new planet quickly mount: teleporting down to the planet via transporter is impossible, shuttlecraft no longer function after landing, and phasers can be used to stun the aggressive fauna but will not function when set to kill. Soon the crew of the Enterprise encounter the reason for the mystery and in the process discover a threat to the existence of the entire Federation.

 

Regarded today as one of the giants of the genre, Joe Haldeman was just beginning his career as a science fiction author when he was approached by Bantam to write for their series of Star Trek novels in the 1970s. This, the first of two he would write, demonstrates all of his skills as an author: gripping action, interesting scientific ideas, and a plot that engages the reader throughout its length. Like many an episode what starts as a puzzle becomes a problem, then a challenge that threatens like lives of the Enterprise crew. Though Haldeman incorporates a trope from the original series, his employment in it is done in a way that is both fresh and with real consequences for the story. All of this makes for a delightful novel that shows the possibilities inherent in the series in the hands of a true master of the craft.

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text 2018-05-22 23:21
Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 150 pages.
World Without End (Star Trek Adventures, #10) - Joe Haldeman

Now this was an excellent read! It's unfortunate that most authors who write Star Trek novels can't write as well as Haldeman.

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review 2018-05-17 13:00
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
The Forever War - Joe Haldeman

The first time I read The Forever War was when I was in University. While I was first reading it, it didn't make an impression until after I put it down and I found myself thinking about it for a long time afterwards. I have now read it several times, and each time I get something new from it.

 

The author, Joe Haldeman, uses his experience in Vietnam War, as well as his education in Physics, to craft this tale of a futuristic war between humanity and a vaguely understood enemy named Taurans.

 

Basic plot: Near the end of the twentieth century, humanity discovers the 'Collapsar Jump,' which allows ships to travel vast distances in a fraction of second (from the crew’s perspective). Mankind begin to colonies space- but one day, a ship disappears, with an alien ship in the vicinity. Many old military types are in positions of power, and with Earths economy stagnating, they use this disappearance as justification to start a war with the unknown species. The United Nations (in the book, the U.N. is the unofficial world government) passes the Elite Conscription Act and the protagonist, William Mandella, is conscripted to the U.N.E.F. (the United Nations Exploratory Force). All conscripts are in peak physical health and fitness, highly educated and with IQ’s of 150 and over. They undergo rigorous training on Earth, the Moon and later on a planet called "Charon", which lies beyond Pluto.

 

They are then shipped off to their first battle in 1997- which turns out to be a massacre as the enemy is totally unresisting, has no concept of fighting and is slaughtered by the human forces. This expedition last two years from the soldier’s point of view, but due to time dilation, the soldiers arrive back on Earth in the year 2024. William Mandella, alongside fellow soldier and lover Marygay Potter, leaves the army, but both re-enlists due to how intolerable things have become on Earth, as well as the death of their parents (their only remaining family).

 

William survives four more subjective years of service- with over a millennium passing in ‘real’ time. He attains high rank through solely through seniority (when he argues with his superiors over his promotion, telling them he has only been in four campaigns, he is bluntly told “That is still three and a half more than the average soldier survives.”) William is in essence a pacifist, who continues to be a soldier because he feels he does not have the talent to do anything else in the ‘modern’ world.

 

Promoted to the rank of Major, William is eventually separated from Marygay, and given command of his own company. Commanding them is difficult- they are racially homogenous and uniformly homosexual. The now Major Mandella is despised by the troops under his command because the soldiers have to learn twenty first century English to communicate with him and because heterosexuality is seen as an ‘emotional dysfunction’ and a sign that he is a sexual deviate. After nearly years on the planet they are garrisoning they engage the enemy in battle- which turns out to be another massacre, this time for both sides. The enemy is totally wiped out and the human soldiers suffer an 88% causality rate. Returning to command (after seven hundred years due to time dilation), they find that peace has been reached and that the war has been for nothing. There is some good news for our hero, as Marygay has survived the war and is waiting for him on a planet called MF.

 

Now for the review: An excellent read and social commentary on the nature of the military and how troops can feel isolated from the civilian population upon their return from combat, and this sense of isolation only grows as the war goes on and society changes so drastically- both on earth and on other planets humans have colonized.

 

There is a sense of gender equality in the book- both women and men have to opportunity to be front line troops, with equal access to promotion. Early in the book, there is no bar on a person serving due to sexual orientation- one of the officers is openly gay. I loved the way the author dealt with the changes within society. In the beginning, the population is apathetic towards the war. They dislike that is takes so much tax to support it, but can accept that because the war means work. Later, it is reported that they have revolted against the war, but lost. This patter is cyclical- going from apathy to revolt several times during the course of the thousand year war.

 

Overall, I found The Forever war to be a brilliant read. However, I do have two major complaints about the book.

 

One: The views of homosexuality have not aged well. In the book, homosexuality is seen more as a personal and socially directed ''Choice'' than just been part of who a person is.

 

Two: The way women are treated. Yes they are equal in many ways- they can do the same jobs as men, they are open to the same promotion opportunities etc- but there is one scene which, to me, undermines this. As part of their military training, the original company of soldiers are sent to a plant which will (in time) become the strategic and logistical command center for the entire war and are ordered to help build improvements- the idea being that they will need to know how to build these same structures on the planets they will be fighting on. However, a large part of the company which is already stationed there is male. The woman of the 'new' company are "required by military custom, and law" to be compliant to any potential sexual partner. I don't think I have to elaborate on this topic. The book looses a star because of it.

 

Overall, a five star book that looses a star because of the above. An excellent read for the most part.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-01 08:59
February 2018 — A Wrap Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on March 1, 2018.

 

 

 

Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill

 

Several things about this book annoyed the heck outta me, including:

I have begun to detest Jamie who is a Mary Sue if there ever was one!

 

Talbot stared at Jamie, admiration on his face. “Bravo”, he said. “There are men and women a lot older than you who fail to understand that. You’re absolutely right…”

 

He is the youngest this and the smartest that while also being the best at everything! Oh, and he actually left his female friends behind because he “couldn’t bear if anything happened to you”. One of them is a vampire with superstrength and other powers. Both of them are members of a covert organization that keeps the supes under check. They are at least as old as Jamie is.

 

The worst part: they let him They understood he was just worried about them. Needlessly worried but Jamie’s just so sweet, y’know? Ugh!

 

There are at least two instances of a character who looked as if about to say something but “then the door rolled shut with a loud thunk.

 

Every development was repeated endlessly. If one character found out about it, they’d tell the others and we’d be there for every conversation!

 

We are almost 65% into the story and a new character who is supposed to be dead shows up. And I am not even talking about the other character who also died in the first book and showed up in this one alive. At least, that guy had the decency to arrive right from the start!

 

We also spend a lot of time learning about people who have nothing to add to the story. Seemed like filler so the book would swell up to 560+ pages.

 

So yeah, bad experience! Read my review of the first book here.

 

 

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

 

During my second visit to Discworld, I discovered the following to be true:

Luggage is my favorite character:

“The Luggage said nothing, but louder this time.” 

And then there is all the Pratchett-ness to love and laugh at:

“It looked like the sort of book described in library catalogues as ‘slightly foxed’, although it would be more honest to admit that it looked as though it had been badgered, wolved and possibly beared as well.” 

 

 

 

 

A big part of that is because he can poke fun at almost anything. Have a look at his disregard for the Asgardian deities:

In fact the Gods were as puzzled by all this as the wizards were, but they were powerless to do anything and in any case were engaged in an eons-old battle with the Ice Giants, who had refused to return the lawnmower.

Also, I finally figured out that I am Twoflower. Evidence:

It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate beauty, he just appreciates it in his own way. I mean, if a poet sees a daffodil he stares at it and writes a long poem about it, but Twoflower wanders off to find a book on botany.

That Rincewind will stay true to his character. Even when he has a chance to be less cowardly, he does the expected…or the unexpected!

A fun book and quickly finished.

 

 

The Dinosaur Knights by Victor Milán

 

One of the complaints that I had after reading the first book:

Insufficient dino-action. Yeah, that complaint wasn’t reirst bmotely true for this one. Epic dino-battles shook the world like literally!

A quote that stayed with me:

Through the trees on the far heights emerged a colossal silvery-grey shape. Even the Companions gaped: it was a Tirán Rey, a bull Tyrannosaurus rex, most feared of all Aphrodite Terra’s dinosaurs. Even at this range Jaume could see the monster dwarfed Falk’s albino adolescent Snowflake.
“Beautiful,” murmured Rupp. “He must weigh seven tonnes!”
Jaume found a smile inside himself. “You shame us, my friend, finding Beauty where even we find only terror.”

The other complaints, such as the princess being a pain in the butt, remained as they were. In fact, she was even more of a pain in this one. She is improving but her getting her friends killed in every scene can get tiresome!

We finally get to see the Grey Angels in action and it is pretty much horrifying what they can do. I loved every bit of it!

I wanted to rush in to read the next book in the series immediately but found out that the author recently passed away.  Sad sad news but it made me want to save the last book to read later. Because there will be no more Game of Thrones and Jurassic Park hybrids for us!

 

 

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

 

Thursday Next steals people’s hearts and I am no exception. She gets into all sorts of literary trouble but handles it in a no-nonsense way. She is into solving problems and not whining. Next also isn’t afraid to ask for help or doesn’t judge people by their looks, species, gender, or whether they are real or not. I like her; it is likely that you will too!

 

Plus, the humor in this series is decidedly Douglas Adams-ish! Next named her son Friday Next. Has a pet dodo whose son is a hooligan and doesn’t have the decency to go Plock. He goes Plick just to be contrary! This book also had cameos by the Cheshire Cat, Hamlet, and many other literary darlings.

 

 

Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

 

I was reading reviews for this book on GR and people seem to think it was dull, cheesy, and repetitive. I don’t get how it can take them 8 books to realize that! Since I will be reading it anyway, why bitch?

 

 

Endurance by Jay Lake

 

I wonder how I ever got along with the protag from this series — well enough to have completed the first book! She is annoying, reckless, rude, manipulative, and as if that wasn’t enough, she also thinks she is better than everybody else! Should I explain it all away by saying that is how teenagers are? I don’t think I should!

 

There were other issues that made this a difficult read, such as the copious amount of foreshadowing. If only she had known…if only she had done that…and so on! Aptly placed and lightly done foreshadowing is always welcome but this book didn’t have it.

The only part that made me laugh:

though five centuries past this had been the very pinnacle of architectural taste in Copper Downs.
A good education never went to waste. If I did die here, at least I would have the comfort of knowing I’d passed on amid high style.

The only part that stayed with me:

I wondered how it had been for the miners, back in the morning of the world. Had they broken open the crust of the world only to find a population of haunts and legends already awaiting them? Or had they brought their fears with them on first creating the Below?

Some readers might like the endless descriptions of everything that was around the protag at any given time but I didn’t!

So, there. If I do read the next one in the series, I wouldn’t be reviewing it.

 

 

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

 

An okayish installment since I wasn’t too worried about anything bad happening. After the horror stories we were told about Underhill, a visit to the place didn’t have that intensity or scariness.

 

Then there is the Walking Stick. I think the author got that it was turning into a deus ex machina and got rid of it — even if it took her the whole book to do that!

 

And, of course, Mercy didn’t shift. Not even once.

 

The good things about this one:

1. No Stefan. I have no idea why he was even introduced in the series

 

2. Adam finally realized what his pack had been doing to Mercy since like forever. I mean what he did next was the worst thing he could have done but at least, he opened his eyes.

 

3. A Doctor WHO reference!

 

 

4. The scary-ass little not-really-human but not-fae-either kid that the pack had to provide shelter to! He broke my heart by being so broken.

 

I hope the next installment is more exciting!

 

 

Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman

 

 

 

The book refers to a backstory that I read and reviewed before. You will find the review here.

 

 

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

 

Something about this series makes me think not-YA. It could be that the main characters are struggling with darkness and the struggle is real. Whatever it is, while the story failed to wow me — and I could see the major reveal coming from a mile away —, I still liked the book.

 

So, this is what I did in February. What have you been doing?

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