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review 2018-08-15 04:17
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Sixteen people are invited to the reading of the will of Samuel Westing. This will stipulates that all the potential beneficiaries must play a game. The victor wins Westing's fortune, an estimated 200 million dollars. This game, a gauntlet of sorts, will put the players through bombings, blizzards, burglaries and mental puzzles. 

 

I heard about this book through some of my Booktube acquaintances. Apparently this is a common one for kids to get assigned in school these days? It never came up on my school reading lists but I heard so many rave reviews for this story that I was curious to see what I was missing. 

 

Well, now that I've tried it for myself ... this one is going on my list of "Did everyone else read a different book than me?" because I honestly don't get the hype here. The plot had a few entertaining moments but largely felt like a mess and was often pretty slow to boot, and most of the characters were BORING. To make matters worse for this reader, the ending struck me as aggravatingly pointless.

 

This novel won the Newberry Medal in 1978... but WHY? In the book's intro, Ann Durrell (Raskin's friend and editor) writes that when Raskin was crafting the puzzles for this story, nothing was pre-plotted... she just made things up as she went along! Initially, that sounds impressive... but I don't know, man. Sometimes there's something to be said for taking the time to craft an outline!

 

Personally, I found my curiosity struck more by the person Ellen Raskin rather than her writings, learning the little bio tidbits about her: 

 

*The Westing Game was her last book before she succumbed to a connective tissue disease in 1984 at the age of 56

 

* In addition to being an author, she was also an accomplished graphic artist, designing over one thousand book covers over the course of her career, one notable one being the first edition cover of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time 

 

WrinkleInTimePBA1.jpg

 

 

* In 1960, she married Dennis Flannagan, founding editor of the modern day layout of Scientific American magazine. This was her 2nd marriage.

 

*Raskin was a diehard Schubert fan. "Death and the Maiden" was played at her funeral. 

 

 

What's your take on The Westing Game? Was it a favorite of yours as a child?

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-13 20:26
Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold
Borders of Infinity (Vorkosigan Saga, #5.3) - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is an omnibus edition of Bujold's 3 earlier novellas, framed by Illyan's interrogation of Miles into the enormous bills the Dendarii Mercenaries seem to accumulate under his command. The framing story is set shortly after Brothers in Arms.

 

Mountains of Mourning (5++++++ stars) - set after Miles's graduation from the Imperial Service Academy, just before The Vor Game

 

already reviewed here - still dearly loved.

 

Labyrinth (3 stars) - set after Cetaganda/Ethan of Athos

 

Miles is sent to Jackson's Whole to extract a geneticist - whose terms are that Miles has to kill the last remnant of an experiment into creating super-soldiers, animal genes mixed with human DNA. But Miles doesn't find a monster, but a frightened, disillusioned girl.

 

The weakest of the 3 stories. Not because of the message, but it seems very compressed. Jackson's Whole and Taura would have deserved a longer introduction, especially because both will turn out to be quite important to Miles's growth as commander and human-being. The way the story stands now, Taura latches on too quickly... I don't know... one tumble in the sheets (well, a stone-cold floor) and she's convinced Miles takes her as fully human? And Miles thinks that the body can't lie? I mean, I'm happy Miles thinks for himself (sometimes too much) and doesn't simply follow orders stupidly - and Taura is certainly worth saving... but... still not satisfied with this story.

 

Borders of Infinity (4 stars) - set right before Brothers in Arms

 

Miles is sent to infiltrate a Cetagandan prison camp. Initially set to rescue one person he ends up organizing the whole camp.

 

Again a story that could profit from expansion because again Miles convinced those disillusioned prisoners who are merely existing instead of living, entirely without hope, that there's someting worth living for, a future worth fighting for. Bujold doesn't pull any punches describing the situation there. The Cetagandans are complying with the interplanetary charta to treat PoW... but only literally, reality is quite another thing entirely. You actually feel hope and even sanity leak from you while reading this story. In the end even escape isn't a victory to celebrate.

 

Curiously, this prison escape also marks the beginning of the end of Admiral Naismith - even if Miles only later learns that fact years later (in A Civil Campaign).

 

Overall, 3 stories definitely not to be missed in this saga.

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review 2018-08-10 16:41
3.7 Out Of 5 "Untamable Demdji" STARS
Hero at the Fall - Alwyn Hamilton

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BOOK BLURB~

Hero At The Fall

Alwyn Hamilton

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When gun slinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untamable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I have struggled with each book in the Rebel of the Sands Trilogy when I first start them, there is a lot of characters to keep straight and the story is really complex, but I have always managed to get "with" the story early on…at least with the first two books.  This third book…not so much.  It has too many small stories within the main story itself, to keep it all straight.  I also believe it could have benefitted from a list of characters, I have just learned that the book does have a list…unfortunately, the audio does not.

 

Overall, I'm glad I finally managed to listen to this final book, and I think I it was satisfying ending to the series, at least once it got to the actual story.  I would have liked it to be a tad shorter, without all those other mini stories.  I still love the characters, Amani and Jinn and lots of others who have joined the rebellion along the way.  They are what makes this story so memorable.

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

☆3.7☆STARS - GRADE=B

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3.8/5

Main Characters~ 4.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 4.2/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~3/5

Addictiveness~ 3.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 2.8/5

Backdrop (World-Building)~ 3/5

Originality~ 4.5/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Book Cover~ This one is cool…I like it. The actual cover for the audio version is not so cool.

Narration~ Soneela Nankani, she's perfect for the voice of Amani.

Series~ Rebel of the Sands #3

Setting~ Miraji Desert

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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review 2018-08-08 10:00
Release Week Review & Blog Tour with Giveaway! Entropy (Atrophy #4) Jess Anastasi!
Entropy - Jess Anastasi

 

 

 

Captain Qaelan Forster is used to trouble. He lives on the wrong side of the law and he’s on the most-wanted lists. He’s mixed up in his cousin's mess who has problems on a cosmic level—like shape-shifting aliens who want them dead. But Qaelan’s not prepared for the cheeky kind of trouble called Camille Blackstone, whose infamous father has any man interested in his daughter executed.

 

After Camille drags Qaelan into an impulsive act of rebellion, she finds herself trying to defend the sexy captain from her overprotective father's wrath, even if she has to handcuff herself to the captain to keep him alive. However, it soon becomes apparent there are much more dangerous things lurking in the dark corners of the universe than a vengeful pirate lord. And she's just landed in the middle of it.

 

 

Used to trouble, Captain Qaelan Forster is on the most-wanted lists, and mixed up in his cousin’s mess but he’s not prepared for Camille Blackstone’s kind of trouble. In an act impulsive rebellion, Camille finds herself defending Qaelan from her father and handcuffing herself to him the captain to keep him alive.

 

The fourth book in the “Atrophy” series is cosmic explosion of thrills and passion that keeps readers on the edge from beginning to end. Qaelan and Camille are two strong, charismatic characters that easily draw readers in and hold them hostage throughout their romance which is full of sizzling chemistry, explosive passion and emotional turmoil. This relationship starts off with a major life and death obstacle that keeps readers in suspense until the very end while the characters entertain readers with lots witty repertoire and daring personalities.

 

Suspense builds and action explodes throughout this fast paced plot with lots of thrills, intrigue and surprising twists that keeps readers as well as the characters on their toes. There are plenty of bad guys to inspire readers to cheer for their demise as well as conflicts regarding friends and family so there is never a dull moment and readers can’t help but feel as if they are part of the story from the very beginning as the author’s well written words and well-developed world paints vivid imagery and sparks the imagination.

 

I love the sexy, adventurous feel of this sci-fi romance series and there was no way I could put “Entropy” down until I had read every last word and the conclusion was certainly added an intriguing element to the conflict with the shape-shifting alien enemies that face the characters of the “Atrophy” series and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

 


Entropy

Goodreads - https://bit.ly/2n94pCM


Entangled - https://entangledpublishing.com/entropy.html

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/entropy-by-jess-anastasi

 

 

is the 4th book in the Atrophy series

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/series/184708-atrophy

 

which includes:
1 Atrophy
2 Quantum
3 Diffraction

 

& is available at:

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LRY5OY

 

B&N: https://bit.ly/2vDysGs

 

iBooks: https://apple.co/2AGaK2a

 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2OHUgJR

 

GPlay: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jess_Anastasi_Entropy?id=eo1iDwAAQBAJ

 

 

Excerpt 2:

 

Cami didn’t bother trying to make conversation with Captain Qaelan Forster as they left the noise and stale-alcohol smell of the bar and headed out into the balmy night. He hadn’t followed her for some kind of deep-and-meaningful or even the slightest bit of small talk.

 

The only thing he was interested in wasn’t going to require any words. Well, not any coherent ones, anyway. Not that she was looking for anyone to talk to. The last run for her father hadn’t gone well, and she’d ducked into the bar to avoid seeing him. He probably wouldn’t say anything about it, and he couldn’t be more pissed at her than she was at herself. But he’d get that look. The one that said she’d disappointed him. And she hated that look more than anything. Would rather he yelled at her.

 

So, leaving the bar with the infamous Qaelan Forster hadn’t really been about him at all. It’d been about avoiding her father. And for the fact she was sick of her demon princess- of-hell reputation. Sure, it was well warranted, and she’d always thought it didn’t matter that a bunch of people who weren’t significant thought she was an unfeeling callous bitch who believed they were all beneath her.

 

But for some reason, tonight it had gotten to her. Qaelan Forster had been there, and she couldn’t deny the tall, dark haired, blue-eyed captain was seriously hot, just like she’d heard. Kissing him to shut up a few morons up hadn’t been a chore at all.

 

In fact, it’d been the exact opposite. An instant fire had lit up her blood, and while initially she’d been planning on ditching him as soon as they got outside, now she was trying to remember the last time she’d let anyone get close to her. It’d been almost two years ago, that gorgeous blond waiter she’d seen a handful of times passing through a space station not too far out of the Belt.

 

Claude had been the first and only casual relationship she’d had. She’d thought if it wasn’t serious, then her father would be less likely to interfere or threaten anyone. Turned out she’d been wrong. He’d still managed to have a hand in messing things up. Truth be told, her heart hadn’t been in it, so she hadn’t been all that devastated.

 

Though her handful of other relationships had been short, she’d never had a one-night-stand with a complete stranger before—usually she was at least somewhat familiar with her partner.

 

And she couldn’t actually remember the last guy she’d been serious about, not clearly anyway. Her father had probably gotten him killed, or banished him, or some equally ridiculous overreaction. The second she ever looked at a guy twice, her father was plotting murder and mayhem. She glanced at Qaelan as they silently walked through the bright, night-lit streets, people spilling out of all kinds of establishments or shopping in the bazaar. Life in Tripoli never stopped. The party just kept rolling on.

 

Qaelan had his hands in his pockets, casting her glances every now and then, probably trying to figure her out. Men were always trying to figure her out. It annoyed the crap out of her.

 

For half a second, she considered cutting him loose again. Her father favored Qaelan and his even-more infamous cousin, Rian Sherron. He’d be seriously pissed if he found out Qaelan had touched her, let alone anything else. But maybe that favoritism would mean Qaelan would simply get banished, not dead. And that would only happen if her father found out…

 

 

$15 Amazon Gift Card
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjA4ZWI4ZWQ3NTUyM2VlYWJhMzFjOTYxNDNhZTI1OjE3MTY=/

 

 

Jess has been making up stories ever since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn’t deterred and now she gets to make up stories for a living. She loves loud music, a good book on a rainy day, and probably spends too much time watching too many TV shows. Jess lives in regional Victoria, Australia, with her very supportive husband, three daughters, one hyper-active border collie dog, one bunny with anger management issues, and one cat who thinks he’s one of the kids.

 

Connect:
Site: http://www.jessanastasi.com


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jess-Anastasi-Author-Page-129441077081452


Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessanastasi


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Jess_Anastasi


BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jess-anastasi


Entangled: https://entangledpublishing.com/author/jess-anastasi

 

 

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review 2018-08-07 19:33
Stars Uncharted
Stars Uncharted - S. K. Dunstall

[I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s “First To Read” program, in exchange for an honest review.]

I have a soft spot for sci-fi stories with rag-tag crews and old spaceships; unsurprisingly, this is the kind of story that will get my attention.

The story revolves around two main female characters: Nika, a body modder on the run from her abusive-slash-mafioso boyfriend, and Josune, undercover engineer on board a ship known as “The Road” (these aren’t spoilers: you learn about it in the very first chapters). As they both have to face their own brand of trouble, their paths converge towards The Road, always underlined by the shadow of a man named Goberling, who almost a century ago came back from an expedition with precious metals… but never revealed where he had found them.

This is space opera through and through, with a dash of transhumanism. It’s a world where humanity obviously colonised many worlds, and where people regularly reinvent themselves through body modding—which offers pleznty of possibilities, too, considering how many characters in the book aren’t who they claim to be. It’s also a world of commercial ships, of big corporations that no one dares to cross, and of exploration and legends: The Road’s full name is “The Road to the Goberlings”, and another ship, the Hassim, is renowned through the whole galaxy as an exploration ship whose crew has dedicated itself to finding Goberling’s lost world.

In general, I quite liked the characters, and the relationships developing between them. They’re all their own kind of badass, even the ones, like Nika, who’re not crew that learnt to fight on a ship. There’s a slight dash of hinted romance, but never enough to interfere with the story. The budding friendship between Nika and Josune never veers towards that annoying trope of “female friendships always tinged with interest for A Man”. The Road’s crew sticks together, bound with a loyalty that keeps growing with each trip. And the regular quibbles between Nika and Snow (another modder), was overall fun enough, also because you can feel the nascent respect underneath.

Other things I liked less, though. First, the pacing was sometimes weird, carried in places by short sentences and paragraphs that felt too abrupt; the characters are constantly on the run, and at times it felt that not much happened, that everything was mainly their running away, with bits of story in between.

Another problematic aspect was Nika’s obsession with modding. I enjoyed the more technical side of it (I wish we had such machines, hah!), but she too often went about imagining how she’d reinvent the people around her, from their hair to judging them too fat, which was definitely obnoxious (and motivated much more by aesthetic judgements than by health reasons). For a character who prides herself on being a trend-setter, her trends were somewhat quite… conservative, a.k.a. everybody has to be slim and trim. Somehow, I’m not convinced that if our future does hold such body modding in store, everyone will want the same.

Finally, I wasn’t fully on board (look what I did there) with some of the plot twists, because they were too easy to guess, and I could see them coming a parsec away, to the point that I couldn’t understand how the characters didn’t see it sooner. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it was made too obvious, too soon? I don’t know. And we don’t get to learn that much about Snow, which is a shame, because I suspect he also has his closet full.

Conclusion: 3 to 3.5 stars. In the end, some parts I had trouble with, others kept me hooked, so while it wasn’t the best book I read this year, it was nonetheless very entertaining, and set in a world that I wouldn’t mind revisiting, because a single book can’t possibly reveal all there is to know about it.

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