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Review – Drayling June 6, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Sci-Fi.
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Title: Drayling

Author: Terry J. Newman

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Indepenpress Publishing

Publish Date: March 2011 (first edition)

ISBN-10: 1907499911

Available at: Amazon Barnes and Noble

From Amazon:

Twenty-fifth century Drayling, and Britain as a whole, has benefited greatly from advances in technology and medical science, and life in the Graves’ household, and in those of their friends and colleagues, is secure, clear and very content. The desire and need for clarity, truth and order has motivated communities to live in harmony, abandoning any potentially controversial aspects or ways of life, including all religions, in favour of a modern civilised society that upholds order, simplicity, honesty, love and honour as its ideals.

Review:

We find ourselves peeking into the lives of Uri, the Local Historian, and his son Marius. They rebel against changes their government institute against their community, Drayling. Specifically, a name change. They find that the motives behind the name changes shake the basic values they have for the society they hold dear.

While we hear a lot about the society of Drayling and their country, the BFF I didn’t get any sense or picture of the community or culture.  While there are word usages such as “thence” and “whilst”, high technology is in place giving you a sense of confusion over the lack of detail for the rest of the overall feel for the culture. I also wondered why in the twenty-fifth century, why the women were relegated as homemakers and as secondary decision makers.  Was this part of their culture? Did women’s rights regress back to the nineteen-fifties? If it did. then why were they so adamant about joining the cricket’s team as equals? And then why did the men include them in some discussions and not others for fear of “worrying them”?

There was no visualization of what kind of world they actually lived in. I couldn’t envision the setting in which they dwelled in. There was little to no imagery of this self-sufficient village, if it was a village, that they were living in and fighting for. Sometimes I got the impression of a rural village. Sometimes I got the impression of a high-tech industrial complex. This vaguery left me confused.  Was this a hybrid Amish/Factory complex?

This is a very slow-moving book that’s very concerned with the minutiae of details when it came to specifics. For example, the technology they did use was described in detail. Each step of their insurgence was plotted out to a nicety. On one hand it was nice to know the author had such thoroughness. On the other hand, I became a little impatient with the book and I wished for a quicker pace.

I did like the way the book came to an end.  It was very satisfying and it almost made up for the books many flaws.

I would recommend this book to the patient reader who truly loves science fiction. The plot is well thought out. It could be a rewarding book in the end.

 

 

*I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Review – Some Prefer Nettles March 11, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Foreign, Literature.
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Some Prefer Nettles

by Junichrio Tanizaki

The conflict between traditional and modern Japanese culture is at the heart of this novel. Kaname is a smug, modern man living in a modern marriage. He gamely allows his wife to become the lover of another man, an act that does not cure the profound sadness at the heart of their relationship. So Kaname gradually retreats into the protection of traditional rituals, attitudes and tastes, eventually making love to Ohisa, his father-in-law’s old-fashioned mistress, as he abandons the modern world entirely. The novel’s other characters, including Kaname’s wife, his lover, his father-in-law, and even the cities in which they live, all symbolize the modern and ancient ways of life in Japan. Tanizaki’s characteristic irony, eroticism, and psychological undertones make Some Prefer Nettles an exceptional and compelling read.

The synopsis is somewhat misleading. Kaname doesn’t, in fact, “make love to Ohisa”. He simply spends more time with his father-in-law and his mistress.

What it is, is a fascinating insight into the psychology of the mindset of the Japanese mentality of that era as Kaname and his wife, Misako deliberate over the act of divorce. Kaname is of the “Tokyo” style and wishes to cause the least amount of inconvenience to all parties. So they choose to wait until the moment is most “opportune”.

In reality, it seems as though his heart is not made up about the parting of ways with Misako. It doesn’t seem as though Misako is entirely sure either.

I waffled between being intrigued over their dilemma and being frustrated over their indecision. What could be construed as deliberation over a very monumental decision, seemed to also be a weakness and a profound shortcoming in Kaname. So I was at once mesmerized by their dilemma and then in another moment frustrated by it.

On the whole, even though it was well written, I found it a very unsatisfying and unsettling read. I didn’t enjoy it and I wouldn’t truly recommend it for anyone looking for a breezy Sunday afternoon read. If you’re looking for insight into how a Japanese man tries to transition from traditional Japan to modern Japan then this is the book for you. Otherwise I’d be cautious about reading it.

Dragonriders of Pern February 2, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, 4 stars, Fantasy.
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Dragonriders of Pern

by Anne McCaffery

Dragonflight

Lessa was nothing but a kitchen drudge until she was chosen by a queen dragon. Now she’s Weyrwoman of the only remaining Weyr of Pern. Only no one on Pern believes the threat of Thread really exists any longer. It’s up to her and F’lar to defend the planet before it’s too late.

I read this book for the Geek Girl’s Book Club February selection. I had read it many years ago and I remembered enjoying it. I did enjoy it this time around except for the fact that the romance was shallow and rather misogynistic. In fact the whole culture and tone of the book seemed to be so.

Leesa was relegated to stoking the home fires while the men fought the good fight. She did rebel against it, but even when she did eventually come out from under the kitchen-role it was with permission from her heavy-handed mate. This rankled.

She also came out more petulant and childish then strong-willed and independent. More often then not she seemed to have temper tantrums rather then strong displays of backbone. I tried to remember how long ago McCaffery wrote the book but I just couldn’t get past that.

All in all I still enjoyed the dragons, They were truly magical. I also enjoyed the general pace of the book as McCaffery really is a good storyteller. Not to mention, Pern really is a complete world unto itself.

3 of 5 stars

Dragonquest

Seven turns after Lessa brings forward five Weyrs of Dragonriders there is strife among the Oldtimers and the Modern Dragonriders of Pern. The Oldtimers, who jumped 400 Turns forward from their time, are set in traditional ways and refuse to budge from their ways despite the changes that have occurred since their time. It’s up to F’lar and Lessa to mend the rift between the Dragonriders, Crafthalls, and the Holds. Meanwhile, Kylara, the Weyrwoman of the Southern Weyr, is up to no good with her schemes to rule a bigger and better Weyr.

This book was, in some ways, better then Dragonflight. There was less misogyny, although it was still there. I tried to remember the time the book was written which was quite awhile ago. McCaffery lived in a different era. The sexism was easier to swallow in this book then in the previous book.

Leesa was also a stronger character. It might have been because she had matured in age. She was less whiny and she had more spine.

The book was also even more imaginative then the previous book. The sights and sounds of the book became alive within the pages. Fire lizards were introduced and I wished I could have been there to see one.

Although I did find a lot of the plot engaging, I felt like it meandered from here to there. It often caused me to wish it would just get on with it. Perhaps there was just too much going on for it to be an effective story. Either way, it took away from the enjoyment of the book on the whole. This colors my judgment of the story more then anything else.

3 of 5 stars

The White Dragon

Jaxom is a young aristocrat of Pern who has Impressed the only white dragon in all the world, Ruth. This coming of age book is about their adventures.

This is also my favorite Dragonriders of Pern book. Ruth is my favorite dragon for he is without a doubt the one with the most charm and without guile. Jaxom is not without charm either. He is honest and forthright.  The character building in this novel is really well done.

The sexism that can be found in the previous two books is practically non-existent in this book. It’s still there now that I think back, but by the time I got to this book I must have been inured.

Unfortunately the same meandering plot style can be found in this book as in the previous book. This took away from some of the charm of the book. Eventually you found yourself at your destination, but it took awhile to get there. The circuitous route was a small price to pay to read about the loving relationship between the unique and wonderful Ruth and his dragonrider Jaxom.

4 of 5 stars

Destruction From Twins and Four Hundred Days January 29, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 2 stars, 3 stars, Fantasy.
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Destruction From Twins

by L. Carroll

(also available in paperback and on NOOK)

From Good Reads:

Part I (Destruction From Twins)
When a selfish enchantress seeks to steal mystical powers from her twin sister, she sentences the world of Lor Mandela and its inhabitants to death. In an effort to preserve itself, the soul of the planet appoints a Child of Balance named Audril Borloc who must solve a prophetic riddle known as the Advantiere. All hope seems lost, however, when shortly after her fourth birthday, Audril disappears without a trace.
Desperate to save their world, Lor Mandelan spies travel to Earth in search of the little girl with black hair and bright blue eyes-traits that on Lor Mandela are exclusive to the ruling family, Borloc. Instead, they find seventeen-year-old Maggie. While the age difference between the girls is obvious, Maggie has the Borloc traits-evidence enough for the eager spies. They devise a plan to get Maggie to Lor Mandela, but will their scheme be successful? And what if they have the wrong girl? Who will save Lor Mandela then?

Part II (And So It Must End)
Maggie Baker has always wished for a more eventful life. Unfortunately, she is about to get it. Following an earthquake that no one seems to have felt but her, her mundane existence is thrown into a roller-coaster ride of twists and turns as she suddenly finds herself bouncing back and forth between her hometown of Glenhill, Iowa and the distant world of Lor Mandela. On this strange planet, Maggie must learn who to trust, and who to fear. More importantly, she must find a way to convince the Lor Mandelans that she is not the Child of Balance, and her family and friends in Iowa (and herself for that matter) that she is not going insane.
Amid fighting a two-headed creature, being captured by a lawless band of Shadow Dwellers, and falling head-over-heels for the enchanting son of an evil warlord, Maggie sees the lines of the Advantiere unfold around her. It isn’t long before she discovers that her blasé reality could be the real fantasy, and that the fate of an entire world may actually depend on her.

I had a few problems with this book. One of them was that the charcters were rather shallow. I never seemed to ever become fully connected with any of them.

Also, the jokes in the book always fell flat with me. The author’s sense of humor just didn’t fall in line with me and it irritated me more often then not.

For another thing, the battle scenes made no sense. What 17-year-old girl from modern Ohio is going to jump into battle with no qualms about killing a man? With a sword? Without breaking a sweat?

As much as I had problems with the story, I did find it imaginative and inventive.   I also found Carroll’s writing style to be engaging enough to not be considered awkward or untidy. Enough so that I kept reading. I even read on to the next book.

3 of 5 stars

Four Hundred Days

by L. Carroll

(also available on NOOK)

From Good Reads:

When Audril, the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne, sneaks away to Earth to save one of her dearest friends, she finds that a power hungry tyrant from her own world has begun systematically obliterating towns and cities to get her to turn herself over to him.

On Earth, she meets a wildly eccentric old lady named Teedee Venilworth whose imaginary butler/fiance supposedly holds the key to her success. But how can someone help if he doesn’t exist? Could it be that creatures who dwell in shadow are not exclusive to Lor Mandela?

I had the same problems with this second book as with the first book. The characters didn’t develop any further with the series as I had hoped they would. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any time devoted to character development whatsoever.

I had even more problems with the plot this time around though. The villain’s actions seemed even more implausible then possible. It was frustrating to say the least and I was forced to put down the book for forced time outs several times.

Still, I read on because there were other plot events that were compelling enough to keep me going. I had to find out what happened next. This is despite the fact that the more I read the more I felt like the events were starting to feel contrived and even cliched.

The book did end in a cliffhanger but I’m forced to wonder if I’ll even continue to read this series. I usually don’t give up on these things, but my enjoyment was so little that the likelihood of my going on with this series is in serious doubt.

2 of 5 stars

The Black Prism January 24, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Fantasy.
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The Black Prism

by Brent Weeks

Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals. But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

Since I read the Night Angel Trilogy first and I loved it, I eagerly delved into Weeks’ next book. I ended up comparing the two more often then not and not often too favorably.

I thought that The Black Prism’s plot was a bit too complicated. I found myself plodding through the first 60% of the book and I was forcing myself to get through it. Trying to navigate through the plots twists and turns was like trying to play a mental game of Twister with myself.

The characters weren’t as fully developed as the characters were in the Night Angel trilogy either. I thought that many of them lacked depth and I wanted more out of them by the middle of the book. In fact, I was so dizzy with the way Weeks switched from character to character without fully fleshing them out I nearly cried out with frustration.

The magical system in the book is interesting yet at the same time it gets overly complex. There are so many things to keep up with in this book, it was hard to really keep pace with where the elaborate plot and the sub-plots were actually going.

Around the 60-70% mark I started to get into the book. The characters seemed to stop diverging into sub-plots and I could finally see a culmination of sorts.

I did like the twist in the book. It was surprising and unique. I also think I’ll read the rest of the series since the end of the book really grabbed me. I’m just very unhappy with the first half of the book.

3 of 5 stars

Bone Dressing January 17, 2012

Posted by thehypermonkey in 3 stars, Paranormal Romance.
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Bone Dressing by Michelle Brooks

Syd is a 17-year-old high school student with a whole lot of woe and angst. A little too much angst in my opinion. It seems like the first 50% of the book was devoted to an internal monologue on how she was dealing with the world and what was being thrown at her.

I wish that the description had emphasized that this was a paranormal romance. I normally don’t go for romance. It’s just not my thing and I found the romantic slant rather tiresome and tawdry.

The overall premise of the book still hooked me as well as other aspects of the plot. There’s a tame panther. There’s a precocious 8 year old. There’s also the matter of reliving Syd’s past lives to right the mistakes they made which is why I had started reading the book in the first place.

So the book wasn’t a complete loss, I also liked the characters despite Syd’s overly embittered tirades and her loss of control where her hormones were concerned over Beau. She was not a bad character. Just given to excess. I suppose that’s what teenagers do, but for the reader’s sake! Go easy!

Taking the plot into consideration and the basic structure of Syd’s character, I give this book 3 of 5 stars. I’m not sure I’m going to continue reading this series, but you never know how optimistic I can be when it comes to the written word.