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review 2017-12-11 22:33
Magic's Promise / Mercedes Lackey
Magic's Promise - Mercedes Lackey

The wild magic is taking its toll on the land, and even Vanyel, the most powerful Herald-Mage to ever walk the world, is almost at the end of his strength. But when his Companion, Yfandes, receives a call for help from neighboring Lineas, both Herald-Mage and Companion are drawn into a holocaust of dark magic that could be the end of them both.

 

How wonderful to have a more mature and thoughtful Vanyel to narrate the second volume of this series. Not there is no angst, but it is dealt with in a much more adult way.

A depleted & exhausted Vanyel returns from the battle front, only to discover that his family insist on his presence at home—not the most restful place for the young man. His father is having difficulty accepting Vanyel’s sexual orientation and his mother frankly refuses to believe him, proceeding to push any and every attractive young woman at him. If that wasn’t enough, he has to deal with his former master-at-arms and the local priest, both of whom made his younger life miserable.

However, Vanyel is now a hero, his exploits sung about by the bards, and he & his companion, Yfandes, are called to rescue another young man & Companion during their visit. Demonstrating his magic, skill, bravery, and good judgement, Vanyel is able to start the healing journey for his family relationships.

Book number 268 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-12-08 15:29
An Excess Male / Maggie Shen King
Excess Male, An: A Novel - Maggie Shen King

Under the One Child Policy, everyone plotted to have a son.

Now 40 million of them can't find wives. China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritatian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering.Wei-guo holds fast to the belief that as long as he continues to improve himself, his small business, and in turn, his country, his chance at love will come. He finally saves up the dowry required to enter matchmaking talks at the lowest rung as a third husband—the maximum allowed by law. Only a single family—one harboring an illegal spouse—shows interest, yet with May-ling and her two husbands, Wei-guo feels seen, heard, and connected to like never before. But everyone and everything—walls, streetlights, garbage cans—are listening, and men, excess or not, are dispensable to the State. Wei-guo must reach a new understanding of patriotism and test the limits of his love and his resolve in order to save himself and this family he has come to hold dear.

 

I have to hand it to Maggie Shen King—she takes several assumptions and trends, plays them out to their logical conclusion, and makes a dramatic book out of it. Plus I always enjoy speculative fiction that isn’t set in North America!

First, take the Chinese one-child policy. Add to that the preference for having a male child to inherit your goods. Mix in a good dose of authoritarian Communist party, which like most authoritarian regimes is ultra-conservative. This is the world that King introduces us to—where women are so scarce that men compete to be second and third husbands in polyandrous households. We meet Wei-guo, an excess male, who is rather desperate to become someone’s husband and the household that he aspires to join: that of May-ling and her two brother husbands.

Unattached young men are always a dangerous potential source of upheaval in a society, so despite the extreme shortage of women, the Chinese government frowns on single men. Many of these men, like Wei-guo, spend their free time playing war games out in the countryside, something that the government keeps close tabs on, seeing it as a potential challenge to the state instead of a way of venting aggression. Illogically, the government also disapproves of homosexuality, which really they should welcome in their demographic predicament. When the government disapproves of both of these safety values for their society, things are bound to go wrong.

All of these tensions come together to produce a human drama that is well worth your reading time.

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review 2017-12-08 12:45
Artemis by Andy Weir
Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir

 

Jasmine Bashara is pretty much a female Mark Watney. I liked her, but she quickly got on my nerves. Luckily, the author kept things moving and I didn't have a lot of time to focus on her personality.

 

Jazz has been living on the moon with her father since she was 6. She's a trouble maker, she likes sex and she can weld the heck out of anything. Her relationship with her father is rather strained as he is a devout Muslim and she's a smuggler. It's expensive to live in Artemis, the moon's only city, so Jazz is always looking for opportunities to make more money. She's offered a chance to pull in the haul of a lifetime and she takes it, even though it's extremely dangerous. Will she be successful? You'll have to read this and see for yourself!

 

I loved the world building and the city of Artemis. I loved how the author created the economy of it as well as how different races from earth took over certain industries in the city. I didn't even mind how much I learned about welding. In fact, I liked that Jazz had a job that here on earth, would mostly be filled by men.

 

What I didn't like were her constant quips and smart-ass remarks. In The Martian, I didn't mind them as much, (as I said Jazz and Mark Watney have the same sense of humor), because Watney was alone on Mars and was attempting to keep the dark away. Jazz, who has a photographic memory, by the way, didn't need this humor to get by and as such, I found it annoying at times. There were some portions where the dialogue was clunky and also, how does the daughter of a Muslim grow up to love sex, drinking and smuggling? To me, there wasn't enough information there to explain those things. That bothered me, not enough to stop me from reading, but enough to prevent me from giving Artemis all the stars.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this science fiction/action novel. I especially liked the character of the moon's mayor and I wouldn't mind reading more stories taking place in Artemis. I just wouldn't mind less of the quips and maybe just a little less welding.

 

Recommended, especially for fans of science fiction and Mark Watney.

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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text 2017-12-07 17:25
Reading progress update: I've listened 427 out of 1244 minutes.
Hyperion - Dan Simmons,Allyson Johnson,Marc Vietor,Kevin Pariseau

On my first read I liked Fedmahn Kassad´s story the least and this hasn´t changed. But only now on my reread / relisten I realise that his story is military torture porn insterspersed by passages where he is "making love" to a total stranger.

 

Rolling Eyes - Lucille, Arrested Development

[Source]

 

I really dislike this disgusting storyline and I´m glad when I´m done with it.

 

 

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review 2017-12-05 16:46
Hunger
Hunger - Michael Grant

Warning: There will be spoilers for book 1 in the series

 

 

This book takes place 3 months after the previous book ended. Food is running out and the kids are getting desperate. They are eating anything they can find. Boiling grass and weeds, random mushrooms, the occasional pigeon if one can be caught. Kids will do anything for food, including switching sides. Friends are turning on each other, allies are squabbling among themselves on all sides. Even though the children have figured out how not to blink out on their 15th birthdays, they are now considering giving up and letting it happen just to escape their misery.

 

Some kids are still developing new and unusual abilities, while normal kids are beginning to take a stand against those with powers. The challenges that Sam has to face, the pressures put on him by all the other children to make decisions and keep order really starts to wear him down. I couldn't help but feel bad for him. With constant threats from Caine and his crew, mutant coyotes and killer worms, there is also a creature living underground, controlling and manipulating some of the children. Getting into their heads and forcing them to do its bidding.

 

I read the Maze Runner a while back and I was unable to continue on with that series. The way the teens were portrayed, and how they spoke, was a big turn off for me. I was afraid this series might have a similar style, but despite the children making terrible and very dangerous decisions, I have really been enjoying the books and many of the characters.

 

There is no shortage of action in this book! There is so much going on in so many different places with different characters that my biggest complaint is that every time I get immersed in a scene and I need to know what happens next, Grant jumps over to a different group of kids and the second I get invested in the action with them, we are on to something else happening on the other side of Perdido Beach. It does exasperate me at times, but I love that there is so much action. I am never bored.

 

I'm definitely going to continue with this series. I need to know what will happen next. I recommend this series to anyone in the mood for action packed adventure.

 

 

-Shey

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