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review 2019-03-24 21:00
Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey - My Thoughts
Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey

Excellent sequel to the first book of the series.  All our favourite characters have returned... well most of them.  :)  I have been firmly confirmed in my favouritism towards Amos and Chrisjen Avasarala. That being said, I love most of the characters.  And we get to meet the stellar Bobbie Draper, Martian marine extraordinaire. She and Chrisjen working together are the absolute best.

The plot of this book clips along at a decent pace and the writing style makes it an easy, fluid read.  I have to say that I've watched all 3 existing seasons of The Expanse and have found that the they're fairly faithful to the books and the changes not too jarring. 

Anyway, loved my read and am looking forward to getting to book 3, which I have on tap soon.  :)

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review 2019-03-24 20:53
The Fires of Heaven / Robert Jordan
The Fires of Heaven - Robert Jordan

In this sequel to the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Shadow Rising, Robert Jordan again plunges us into his extraordinarily rich, totally unforgettable world: . ... Into the forbidden city of Rhuidean, where Rand al'Thor, now the Dragon Reborn, must conceal his present endeavor from all about him, even Egwene and Moiraine. ... Into the Amyrlin's study in the White Tower, where the Amyrlin, Flaida do Avriny a'Roihan, is weaving new plans. ... Into Andor, where Siuan Sanche and her companions, including the false Dragon Logain, have been arrested for barn-burning. ... Into the luxurious hidden chamber where the Forsaken Rahvin is meeting with three of his fellows to ensure their ultimate victory over the Dragon. ... Into the Queen's court in Caemlyn, where Morgase is curiously in thrall to the handsome Lord Gaebril. For once the Dragon walks the land, the fires of heaven fall where they will, until all men's lives are ablaze. And in Shayol Ghul, the Dark One stirs....

 

I would certainly have to say that I find this series addicting. Once I begin one of these mammoth tomes, I feel the need to keep reading until the end. Despite the reservations that I may have about the characterization of both men and women. Because everyone in this series seems to be as stubborn as mules and to have nasty tempers. Part of me really wants to know what Mr. Jordan was like--tempermental and hard-headed perhaps? Pure speculation on my part, but what else am I to think?

Only five volumes in, and I’ve already read thousands of pages, still with 10 volumes in my future. It’s good that I’m engaged in the story despite everyone’s general grumpiness. It continues to amaze me that this much detail can be kept interesting for the reader. Most series are wrapped up in 5 volumes, but this one is just gaining steam.

I also appreciate that although this is a quest tale, Jordan has written something original--The Wheel of Time is so distinct from LOTR. Tolkien’s work may be the roots of this genre, but Jordan proves that he has made it his own. And he has taken Frank Herbert’s concept of the Bene Gesserit and made the Aes Sedai into a force to be reckoned with while still making them humanly attainable. I love the different colour groups with their associated behaviours and their bonds with their Warders. I do tire, however, of his constant struggle for control between men and women. Why can’t they acknowledge their mutual interdependence? It seems like the Aes Sedai and their Warders are the only mixed-gender teams that are working well together.

Nevertheless, I hope to read at least one more volume of WoT before this year is finished! 

Book 313 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-03-24 18:01
DREAD NATION: RISE UP by Justina Ireland
Dread Nation - Justina Ireland
Jane is at Miss Preston's school to learn how to defend and protect in the hope she will be hired by an elite family.  What she gets is the lessons but is then sent west to protect a town.  The secrets she learns cause her to seek her freedom. 
 
I liked Jane.  She is kick-ass and determined.  She knows what is what and is not willing to pretend that those is power care about her or those of her class.  She is also smart.  She has the skills to save herself and the empathy to save her friends if possible. 
 
I had a hard time putting this book down.  I hope the sequel comes soon.  I want to know if Jane makes it.  Loved this book!
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review 2019-03-24 17:50
The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
The Air You Breathe - Frances de Pontes Peebles

This is a generic work of historical fiction that has me questioning my past literary judgment – because I loved the author’s first novel, The Seamstress, to pieces, and thought it was a fantastic literary adventure, featuring two divergent but equally compelling storylines. That was nine years ago, though, and I did not find any of the wonder I remember seeing there in this eminently forgettable book.

Apparently inspired by the career of 1940’s Hollywood musical star Carmen Miranda, this book relates the story of two Brazilian girls who grow up on a sugar plantation, are enraptured by music, run away from home to make their way, and end up singing samba and finally making movies. It’s told from the first-person perspective of Dores, a hardscrabble orphan who befriends the privileged, self-absorbed Graça. Dores is the smart, practical one with a talent for songwriting, while Graça is the diva who captivates audiences.

The novel flows smoothly enough, with competent writing; it’s a quick read and long enough to live in for a little while. That said, it lacks rawness, vitality, momentum; we basically know what’s going to happen from the beginning, and then spend 450 pages following the course that’s been charted out from the start, without any real excitement or surprise, but with standard-issue philosophizing about life from a character supposed to be looking back on events from her 90s. Unfortunately, the first-person voice tends to obscure rather than reveal any personality Dores may have; it’s a generic voice for a generic character in a generic historical fiction story.

The other characters are pretty generic as well – Graça is the only one with much in the way of personality, while the supporting members of the band lack not only personalities but also lives and relationships of their own, to the point that how they feel about unexpectedly spending several years in a foreign country is never even mentioned. The two women’s antagonistic devotion to each other was never entirely convincing to me either; it largely felt like a result of the fact that the novel didn’t have room for distractions like developing their relationships with lovers or other friends, rather than anything organic.

So, unfortunately, the generic title and cover art turned out to be representative of the work as a whole – fine escapism if you want a nice long predictable novel, but nothing more than that. It isn’t terrible, but there’s nothing in the plot or characters or writing that stands out. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest music lover and don’t tend to love books about music; if you did love this, you’ll likely also enjoy The Gods of Tango, another Latin American LGBT music-focused novel (which also disappointed me). I am curious to listen to some samba, though.

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review 2019-03-24 16:36
The Silent Companions
The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell

I´m a little bit fed up with gothic horror novels. The Silent Companions is another one of these lackluster attempts at writing an atmospheric, creepy and scary book and doesn´t hit the mark on any of these three things. Add to this a main character, who I disliked from the very first page and an ending, which didn´t make any sense at all.

And I would really appreciate if an author gives a more sophisticated reason for a malicious spirit being evil. In this book it basically boils down to "The ghost is evil because the person in real life has been evil". No explanation whatsoever why said person is evil and above all, what was the objective of this ghost. Why did it do all the things it did? 

 

I get it, it´s a "devils spawn" kind of plot. I was so bored by all of it.

(spoiler show)

Since this book wasn´t scary at all, I´m not batting an eyelash at putting out the lights tonight. On to the next read.

 

 

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