Book Review – Redshirts by John Scalzi

Title: Redshirts

Author: John Scalzi

Format: Hardback

Published: 2012

 

This book came to me as a recommendation of a co-worker and friend of mine.  He told me that if I liked the TV series Star Trek I would like this book.  I was told that it is a comedic take on the classic trope of red shirts always dying.  If you know anything about Star Trek it was always true in the original series that if there was a random person in a red shirt that was part of an away team mission, they were going to die.  The book tells the story of a ship where this fact is known and no one wants to avoid away missions as they might be that person destined to die.

 

I will admit that when I started the book it felt a bit flat, the story progressed slowly as the main characters who were all ‘red shirts’ were introduced.  It also bothered me for a long while that there were two similarly named characters Duvall and Dahl.  There were times it was hard to keep them straight even though Dahl is the main protagonist, a pacifist and male while Duvall is one of the supporting main characters who is female and a bit of a partier.  Still, when first learning names it is hard to keep track particularly when they are speaking to one another.

 

However, when the characters get on the ship and Dahl starts experiencing first-hand the oddness that is the spaceship Intrepid things grow to be interesting.  One minute, Dahl can be speaking with his fellow officers and the next minute they are rushing off to get coffee or have vanished to do inventory yet again.  When this happens a senior officer walks in and recruits him for an important and impossible mission, speaking about science that makes very little sense yet must be accomplished.   Given task Dahl is supplied with a box that works much like a microwave and will give the solution to the problem at the last minute.   In addition to this oddity there is a strange yeti man who seems to know that there is more going on than meets the eye.

 

While there is so much that can be said about this book a lot of it would blow the surprises contained within.  So without blowing the story I’ll say that the story is worth the read and the effort to get past the slow start.  The story picks up with good comedy, classic tropes of science fiction and a nice sense of adventure and impending doom.   You really aren’t left lacking or wanting in the story and it satisfies you in the end giving you a story that is well worth the read.  Over all I’d give the book 4 pages.  It isn’t a book I’ll go running out to buy a copy and tell all my friends about but for the right person looking for the right book?  You-betcha, I’ll tell them about Redshirts.

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Book Review – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Title: Ender’s Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Format: Paperback

Published: 1991

 

As of late I’ve been simply hunting for books to read. I’ve been wanting something different something science fiction in nature and I don’t know what else. I’ve been struggling to find books for what I was in the mood for and decided to suck it up and read Ender’s Game. Not that I have issues with Ender’s Game. I guess it was just a matter that I read the first page once before and it didn’t grab me and it is a book that has been raved about to me before. Now as a blog that talks about books and gives recommendations it seems almost hypocritical of me to reject a recommendation, particularly when I say I take recommendations rather seriously but there is a difference between a person saying, “I think you would like this book or, I really like this book and think that everyone should read it.” Versus “This is the best book ever you got to read it! See look there is a movie so yeah read it!” The Rave I had received was a long the lines of the latter and it felt like it was a matter of the recommendation being part of the movie craze rather than being a legitimate recommendation.

 

Any way, I finally check it out of the library and started to read it and found my self uncertain. I kept reading knowing that as early into the book as I was that I couldn’t say it is bad and give it up. I kept reading and before I knew it I had devoted a whole night reading finishing the next day only because I couldn’t remain awake long enough to finish the last twenty pages, otherwise this would have been a 1 day book.

 

Normally for me a one day book indicates that it is that good of a read but I think it was more a matter that I was very much in the mood to simply read a book and Ender’s Game wasn’t bad and had a bit of intrigue to it. Over all, it is hard to say what my official opinion about the book is. The story is chiefly about a young boy named Ender who is hoped to be the answer to a long fought battle. Thus at the young age of 6 Ender is taken off to Battle School where he is pushed to his limit s to become the commander they hope he can be. The book goes through Ender’s struggles and his training and the extreme conditions that he finds himself placed under.

 

Over all, it is a bit of an odd book and in a lot of way s though it was written between the two book felt a bit like a mix of the Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies. With it obviously pre-dating the first and post dating the later. Having read both books, I feel that the shock value that this book could provide did not for me. In the end I think I would give this book a 3 out of 5 page review stating that you are not wasting your time with the read but it isn’t a book I’ll be running to tell people about. Though if you have read the book I would gladly welcome a discussion about it because I do feel it is a good book to have a discussion on, much like Lord of the Flies.

Writer Wednesday – Amy McCorkle/Kate Lynd

Who are you? (A name would be good here…preferably the one you write under)
I write romantic suspense, crime fiction, and gritty romantic suspense under Amy McCorkle and SciFi and Dystopian under Kate Lynd

What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
See question one.

What do you want to pimp right now? (May it be your newest, your work-in-progress, your favorite or even your first)
I’m working on a screenplay right now that I plan on producing and directing called Rain Down On Me, an indie drama about a hard drinking, embittered disabled vet and his relationship with a woman on the run from her abusive sheriff husband. A web soap called Darius and Anastasia about a mob boss and his former CIA bodyguard. And I’m launching Blackout: An Aurora Black Novel and Letters to Daniel Vol. 2 at Imaginarium.

What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
Director and producer.

What link can we find you at?
Amy/Kate’s Blog

 

*****

Enter Catchy Title Involving A Boat Here

Alone in a boat. As a writer that’s what you are when it comes to making it in your career. I remember as a kid growing up I wanted to be a writer. Or perhaps published author would be a better way of putting it. I wanted to walk into a bookstore and see my name on the shelf. I dreamed of awards and signing my name and getting paid boatloads of money to do it.

I had no idea how to make this happen. I thought you went to college to make this happen. And you can get your MA in creative writing and set out along that path if you wish. But there’s no more guarantee that you’ll make than if you take my route which is going to conventions and conferences and making connections and being left alone to develop your voice.

But I have to admit my success came by way of the small press. And I picked great house to start with MuseItUp Publishing. They’re an e-press that will consider print after a year of your book being out on the market for a year. They nurtured me and helped me hone my voice as a writer. Lea Schizas had a vision and she has seen it through.

I found her at digicon, a free online writing conference put on by Savvy Authors. I had a fabulous mentor in Julie Butcher. I now have several people who’ve reached out to me along the way and supported my career in its early stages. Stephen Zimmer the boss that he is was big on getting me included in the con scene. Pamela Turner introduced me to Stephen and Fandom Fest.

The most important thing though is, no matter how many people are there to help you, you will get nowhere if you don’t reach up that ladder for the next rung while helping someone up with the next hand. Not only is it just good karma, it makes good business sense. You don’t want to alienate people with a bad attitude. Your success ultimately depends on you. Because your career is the boat and you are the one steering it with you paddles. No one is guaranteed the million dollar paycheck with the movie deal. You must define what is success for you. Compared to February of 2011 I am doing quite well. I still could do better. You can always do better. Be more. Do more. So my advice is don’t ever give up. Keep writing. Keep revising. And don’t be afraid to submit.

Book Review – The Light by Michael Grant

Title: The Light

Author:  Michael Grant

Format: Hardback

Written/Published: 2013

Way back at the beginning of this blog one of the first few books I reviewed was a book called Fear by Michael Grant.  It was the fifth book in the six book series and I found that it had put a very rotten taste in my mouth.  That rotten taste is still there with some of the dark and disturbing imagery impossible to remove or forget no matter how much I try to.  Yet, despite it all having been through that horridly difficult book I had to see the series to the end.  I had to know how the FAYZ ended and who walked out alive and who didn’t.  In some ways it is a compulsion, and so when I realized the book was out and in the library I picked it up.

With a deep breath I opened the book and started to read hoping I would not have to trudge through the same horrors that I did before.  I wasn’t worried about the formatting which was another issue I had with Fear I just didn’t want to be left with more gruesome imagery at least not more of the kind that actually gets to me. (Yes the book was gruesome filled with a lot of death and destruction but it didn’t get to me as much as what was contained in Fear).

When I started the book Fear I was annoyed right off as Michael seemed to be going for something new and wiring the perspective of two people in the same scene at once it was confusing and annoying as I was trying to read and re-read to figure out if the thoughts and words belonged to the character Gaia or Diana.  Then things went to ‘normal’ and the book read like all the other books read where I was turning the next page wanting to know what would happened next horrified at the death of some and hoping for the death of other character.  There were moments where I was disturbed by this book particularly when it came to the character Alex but it was fortunate that his parts were not long or prevalent like the disturbing moments in Fear were.

In all, the book was a quick read for me despite being a little over 400 pages long.  It was hard to put down as I wanted to know who lived and who died and a lot of people died I will tell you that!  I found myself caring for some of the characters again rather than being put off by them and the last character I thought I would ever find myself concerned over was the one I hated to see go the most.  So, despite my complaints, Michael Grant can be a decent author – I mean of his seven books I’ve read, only two can I say I loathed.  Those are some pretty good odds in my opinion!

Thus I will give this last and final book a three page rating.  Some of you may notice that this is the same rating I gave Fear which I loathed but I will admit at the time I was much more generous with my ratings and if I could go back and re-rate fear I would give it a solid two placing The Light clearly above it.

As to the series as a whole considering I mentioned how I recommended in the past to others, might still recommend it but caution people that it can get very dark and gruesome.  If I were to rate the whole story from the first book Gone to the last The Light I would give it a three page rating, it had the potential to be a four page series but Fear just really drags it down that much.

Book Review – Warm Bodies… by Isaac Marion

Title: Warm Bodies

Author: Isaac Marion

Format: Paperback

Published/Written: 2011

Despite having already reviewed one book that has had a recent movie come out for it… I will say that it is not too often that I decide to pick up a book because a movie of it is coming out.  Yet, this was the case with Warm Bodies.  I fell in love with the story line from the first preview I saw in theaters.  I always thought it would be interesting to do a Zombie love story… I was excited to see  someone had done it even if it was just a film… I later discovered that the movie was based off a novel and I got even more excited… I knew I needed to pick up the book even if there was a forever long waiting list for it at the library…

When I sat down to crack the book open… I was surprised by how the story was conveyed.  One would not think that a zombie would make a good narrator for a first person perspective novel… but Isaac accomplishes a very realistic voice that is quite compelling and has a rather strong vocabulary.  (It enthralled me to read words that I hardly see in type let alone hear spoken.)  I know it seems bizarre for a zombie to be able to tell his story in such a way… but it works considering that the life of “R” before he became a zombie indicates that he was a well-educated man.

For me… the story gripped me right away and this book is what I would call something of an escapist book… every time I picked it up… I was lost to the world around me and entered into the post-apocalyptic America where zombies rule the world and the living are few and far between.  The root cause of this happenstance is uncertain… but not really important.  The focus isn’t so much on the how and why but on “R” as he deals with the issues of being a zombie and protecting Julie the girl he meets… after killing her boyfriend.  If you have seen the previews… you know the general plot of the story, thus I don’t feel it would be a spoiler to mention how the gradual change of “R” was masterfully done as it was so subtle… and quite powerful at times.

Over all… I found the book to be very well written… Isaac is a master of short syllabic dialogue, communicating a lot through short conversations and prose.  On the whole… I loved this book, despite knowing most of what would happen based on the movie previews… I was surprised by the twists and turns the journey took to reach the end… I do have a few complaints about the book though.  In the book there are two different narrators, the first of course being “R”… and then a second additional one.  My problem wasn’t with the second perspective, as it gave a lot of depth to the story… the problem was that it was hard at times to realize the switch right away… it didn’t take me too long to discover the change but… it was enough that I had to go back and reread some.  I also took issue with there being a shortage of dialogue tags… most of the time it was fine… considering the brevity of the dialogue but there were a few occasions where I would have to sort of count to see who said what.  This would have been more problematic if the speech patterns between some characters weren’t vastly different from one another…  it did become an issue on occasion though. With that said… I am still going to give this book a 4 page rating…it is not too often that I find a book that I can’t really put down and can finish in about two days.  So… if you are looking for something unique, or are into zombies… this book is a must read… for those not so into zombies… you might still want to give it a try… but I won’t blame you if zombies aren’t your thing…

Book Review: Captive Temple by Jude Watson

Title: Captive Temple

Author:  Jude Watson

Format: Paperback

Written: 2000

Published: 2000

Captive Temple is one of those books you expect a lot from and get very little.  It was a book that had intrigued me to no end years ago.  I was eager to read about the threat on Yoda’s life as was advertised on the back of the book.  Yet, said threat on Yoda’s life ended up being a passing thought that was in some ways easily forgotten and ignored.  Honestly the book was rather unremarkable.  It wasn’t terrible nor was it great, it just was.

 

I didn’t mind the read it was quick and interesting enough for me to stick it out till the end but there wasn’t anything stuck out to me.  Oddly enough as a reviewer I would rather have a terrible book so I could at very least rant about it rather than sit here and say that I read the book and it was decent. With that in mind I give the book a two page rating if you are bored, read it, or if you want to continue the main story arch as I do.

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Format: Hardback

Published: 2011

I first picked Divergent up because of two different recommendations.  The first recommendation came from a co-worker of mine who knew I had read the Hunger Game series.  Though I was not fond of the series as a whole as anyone who has read my previous reviews would know, the concept of another book similar to it was not a turn off but a point of intrigue.  I like the idea of the Hunger Games just not the execution, particularly when it came to its sequels and I was also curious to see if another could do it better.  I’m not sure if Veronica Roth succeeded in doing better than Suzanne Collins but she certainly didn’t do it worse even if there are some particular issues I had even with her work.  The other recommendation I received was via a YouTube video from an author that I highly respect and still need to read one of his books (I’ll get there eventually!) John Green.  It was after his recommendation that I determined that I truly needed to read the book!

Upon opening the book I found that there were certain plot elements that I recognized from a review done by Mandi, one of my fellow reviewers.  Realizing it I immediately came to the site to see if I could see if this was an eerie similarity between two different books or the same book.  Due to a fail in technology I could not find Mandi’s review and assumed that it was nothing more than an eerie similarity and continued to read to speak with my fellow reviewer and learn that she had done the book as well.   Considering I was more than half-way done with the book and it had indeed been over six months since her review it was concluded that a different perspective would not hurt anyone.

Once I got past the small feeling of deja vu with the book I admit I was skeptical at first because, seriously who ever thought it was a good idea to break the world up or rather the destroyed city of Chicago into groups based on personality traits.  I was oddly reminded a bit of Hogwarts with the Erudite being Ravenclaw, Dauntless being Gryffindor, and Abnegation being Huffelpuff (though Amenity comes close being the same) then there was Candor the random fifth group focused on the absolute truth.   Though it was explained why society broke up in such a bizarre way it was still weird and made little sense such as the reason as to why the Great Lakes were dried up something even Mandi pointed out in her review.

Yet, despite the weird situation that the novel is set in I kept reading as I found myself curious as our main heroine Beatrice debated about what to do because she is like every other human being in our time and is a Divergent, a person who doesn’t fit in to one personality type.  Of course it isn’t enough to throw a teenage girl into the situation of not knowing who she really is death has to be on the line as well in determining this idea,  just to give it a little more intrigue!

Though it comes across that I am trashing this book, I’m not really.  I enjoyed the read such to the point that I couldn’t put it down on several occasions and almost wound up late for work or not going to bet until the sun was staring to rise.  Despite the oddities of this book and the situation that Roth has placed her characters in the read is rather engrossing and if you like a little bit of odd and can ignore a few moments where the reality of the situation doesn’t gel then you will enjoy the book and I would personally give it a 4 out of 5 page rating.

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