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Category Archives: Public Library

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of Ship Breaker: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Audible Studios, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 9 hours and 8 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook, Version: Unabridged, Audible.com Release Date: May 4, 2010, ASIN: B003KWL65SBook Review

In a dystopic society set in the future where the gap between the wealthy and the poor is vast and impassible, and the world has been depleted of natural resources, life for the poor is almost unbearable. Nailer, a fifteen year old boy, tries to exist working as a ship breaker on the south-east coast of North America. He, along with his crew mates, scavenge abandoned oil tankers for anything of value. It is imperative they meet the quota set by their bosses, or they could end up discarded, and become beach rats with nothing. Nailer not only has to deliver the goods, but he has to do this while avoiding his drug-crazed and violent father. So what will Nailer do when faced with a choice between killing a beautiful but helpless rich girl his own age, or letting the swank live and watch his chance for the easy life slip away?

Paolo Bacigalupi has been nominated, and has won, many awards for his work. For Ship Breaker he won the Michael L. Printz Award for Best Young Adult Novel in 2011. Bacigalupi has written 5 novels including Ship Breaker, with a 6th one on its way, and he has written numerous short stories. He writes primarily biopunk, science fiction, and young-adult stories. Ship Breaker is a young-adult science fiction story told in a third-person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, Nailer.

There are many fascinating aspects to this story. The setting is well thought out and the characters are well developed. The reader is immediately drawn into the story right from the first page when Nailer is introduced climbing through a service duct tugging at copper wire. The story shows both the depth of despair that the people working on the salvage rigs face, as well as the intensity of the connection between the people working together as crew.

This is a dystopian society that takes place many years in the future, yet it is also a story about people. I really enjoyed this novel, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading YA dystopian stories. I rate this book as a very good read, and I am looking forward to reading more stories by Palol Bacigalupi.

 

 

To purchase Ship Breaker from Amazon, click here

 

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The Passage: A Novel by Justin Cronin

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series The Passage Trilogy
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Passage: 2 Treasure Boxes First book in The Passage Trilogy

Random House Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 36 hours and 52 minutes (785 pages), ASIN: B003QL14NC

The Passage is a vampire story. It is about blood sucking abominations that man-kind created while developing  a serum in the hopes of  discovering immortality. But instead of  infinite healing potential, they invented an illness that resulted in humans transforming into immortal monsters. Their experiment created millions of vampires while at the same time killing off billions of humans. While the army was secreting developing the virus they injected a special composition of it into six year old Amy, and due to her young age, she was altered in a different manner. She would have been considered a success, if the virus did not abolish the majority of mankind.  She seemingly became immortal and after 93 years appears to have only aged 10 years, she retains most of her humanity and did not become a vampire, yet she has a connection to them. She is able to communicate with them telepathically. The Passage details the development and the devastating effect of the virus during the 93 years since its inception. This book shows what has happened to mankind, and how a small group of humans are fighting back.

Justin Cronin has to date, written four novels, two of them in The Passage trilogy. The third book in the series, The city of Mirrors, is supposed to be released sometime in 2014. Cronin has won numerous awards for his writing. The Passage is a horror story, and it is told in a third person narrative using several different tactics including diary entries. I found the switch between third person narrative and diary readings to be confusing, especially when some of those diary entries were 1000 years after the events in the book. There are numerous protagonists throughout the novel, but Amy seems to be the constant.

The story was interesting and original. I really enjoyed the beginning, which I thought was well written and engaging. However, I found the middle of the book to drag a bit, and to be a bit boring. I understand that Cronin wanted to fill in some information to gap the years between the onset of the virus and year 93, but I did not enjoy how he did it. I did not like the use of the diary entries. I did think that Cronin’s concept of the vampire was fascinating. I also liked the characters that he focused on, and I thought his character development was well done. I recommend this book as a good read, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I liked how this book ended, and I could see the potential for a future story.

 

To purchase The Passage: A Novel from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Storyteller: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013), 480 pages, ISBN-10: 1439102775, ISBN-13: 978-1439102770

The Storyteller is comprised of several separate and distinct stories that interconnect. Sage is a young woman who has a disfiguring facial scar, and she is battling an inner torment that disfigures her far more than the scar on her face. Josef is a 94 year old, healthy, German man who no longer wants to live because he is tormented by his past and the things he did as a Nazi commander at Auschwitz. He asks Sage to help him end his life. Minka is Sage’s grandmother and she is many things including a survivor of the Holocaust as well as a creative writer. Within is included a story that Minka wrote about a young woman who falls in love with a vampire.

Jodi Picoult has written 20 novels, including My Sister’s Story. The Storyteller is both a drama and a historical novel. The story is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of the character whose story is being revealed.

I enjoyed the story and I liked how the past and present combined to slowly reveal the truth. I thought the characters were well developed and multidimensional. My favorite was Minka; I enjoyed reading her tale. I thought she was a strong and resourceful woman, and I found it fascinating how her fictional story about Ania and the Vampire saved her life. It provided both a sense of hope, as well as entertainment to the other prisoners, because it was a metaphor for love and redemption.   The Storyteller may have been about the Holocaust, and parts of the story provided a heart-wrenching view into what it was like, but it was so much more than that. It was really about forgiveness, and not just for Josef, but for all of the characters and on many different levels.

I liked how the story unfolded, and I was surprised by the twist at the end. I recommend this book as a very good read, and if you enjoy reading about the Holocaust, both the horror of it as well as the triumph over it, then you will enjoy The Storyteller.

 

Favorite Quote

“Mary folds her arms. “I know I’ve told you how I left the convent, but did I ever tell you why I entered it?” she says. “My mother was raising three kids on her own, because my father walked out on us. I was the oldest, at thirteen. I was full of so much anger that sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night with the taste of it in my mouth, like tin. We couldn’t afford groceries. We had no television and the lights had been turned off. Our furniture had been reclaimed by the credit card company, and my brothers were wearing pants that hit above the ankle because we couldn’t afford to buy new school clothes. My father, though, he was on vacation with his girlfriend in France. So one day I went to see our priest and I asked what I could do to feel less angry. I was expecting him to say something like, Get a Job, or Write your feelings down on paper. Instead, he told me to forgive my dad. I stared at the priest, convinced he was nuts. ‘I can’t do that,’ I told him. ‘It would make what he did seem less awful.’

I study Mary’s profile as she speaks. “The priest said, ‘What he did was wrong. He doesn’t deserve your love. But he does deserve your forgiveness because otherwise he will grow like a weed in your heart until it’s choked and overrun. The only person who suffers, when you squirrel away all that hate, is you.’ I was thirteen, and I didn’t know very much about the world, but I knew that if there was that much wisdom in religion I wanted to be part of it.””

“She faces me. “I don’t know what this person did to you, and I am not sure I want to. But forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me. It’s saying, You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.””

(page 451)

This was my favorite quote because it sums up forgiveness and why it is important.

 

To Purchase The Storyteller from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Frankenstein
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of Dead and Alive: 1 Trash Can
Frankenstein, book 3
Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (July 28, 2009), (352 pages), ISBN-10: 0739317172, ISBN-13: 978-0739317174

Dead and Alive continues the story of the modern day Doctor Frankenstein. The premise is that Doctor Frankenstein, now known as Victor Helios, has created a way to prolong life, including his own and that is why today he still appears to be relatively young. Not only has he created a way to prolong life, but he is also creating an army of genetically modified humans. 

I was not able to finish this story. I found the writing atrocious, and the story improbable, as well as gruesome. But what I disliked the most was how undeveloped the characters were, especially Victor Helios, who was one-sided, all evil. I do not recommend this story, I thought the book would be better used as tinder.

To purchase: “Dead and Alive” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series MaddAddam Trilogy
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood: 3 Treasure Boxes

Second Book of the MaddAddam Trilogy
Random House Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 14 hours and 4 minutes, ASIN: B002Q1IUNK


The Year of the Flood begins in a post-apocalyptic world with Snowman living alone and yet somehow connected with a group of human-like creatures. As Snowman stumbles through his life, the events that lead up the ruination of the world are slowly revealed through flashbacks. Snowman is the same character as Jimmie from Oryx and Crake and both stories run in parallel. I liked how The Year of the Flood explained the ending of  Oryx and Crake, because I felt that ending was a bit too open.

Margaret Atwood is a famous Canadian writer born in 1937, and she has written numerous books, short stories, books of poetry and essays. She has won more than 55 awards, both Canadian as well as international. The Year of the Flood is speculative fiction and the story is told in the first person narrative by the main protagonist, Snowman.

This trilogy presents a grim view of the havoc that genetic engineering could cause. I thought the characters were great and I liked where the story went, but at times I thought it was a bit too much preachy. I was listening to the audio book and didn’t care for the religious songs.   I am looking forward to reading the final book in the series to see where this trilogy is headed. 

I recommend this book as a very good read, but it is important to read Oryx and Crake first.

Favourite Quote: “But I prefer to say, ‘We are what we wish’. Because if you can’t wish, why bother?”

(Ch 73@5:48) Track 11 ch 2

 

 

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The Wyrmling Horde by David Farland

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Runelords
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Wyrmling Horde: 3 Treasure Boxes
Runelords, Book 7
Scions of the Earth, Book 3
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc., Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 11 hours and 38 minutes, ASIN: B008S7BBU0

Fallion, the son of the Earth King and a powerful fire wizard, has bound two shadow worlds. One shadow world, the world of Gaborn Val Orden and the place we have come to know from the previous Runelord books, has amalgamated with a dark version of itself. With the combining of the two worlds, there has been a combining of the two versions of the people within, as well as a combining of the land and the magics.

However, the darker shadow world has a ruling class of evil wyrmlings. These creatures are actually loci, sinister parasites that feed on human souls. The wyrmlings are powerful and plentiful. They have created a self-serving, cruel society that seeks to dominate and destroy the world. The wyrmlings have devised a new form of forcible, one of compassion, and it is used to transfer pain. Fallion is captured and has received hundreds of endowments of compassion. He is made to continually experience the pain of others; pain of torture, dismemberment, and despair.

This was a well told story and picks up right after the end of Worldbringer. New characters are added, and some of the older characters have changed and morphed with the combining of the worlds. We learn more about how the one true world split into thousands of shadow worlds, and we learned more about the netherworld. This is a story of good versus evil, with the underlying message that evil can only be destroyed through love.

I really enjoyed the story, but I was shocked when it ended. I did not feel that the story had come to any kind of a conclusion. It felt more like the end of a chapter than the end of the book. Luckily for me the next book, Chaosbound is available. I will be picking it up in the next few days because I am anxious to see where this story is going.

I highly recommend The Wyrmling Horde and all the Runelord books, but they do need to be read in order. These books are all very good reads, and anyone who enjoys fantasy with enjoy these stories.

To purchase: “The Wyrmling Horde” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series MaddAddam Trilogy
Book Review

Book Review

Book review of MaddAddam: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book three of the MaddAddam trilogy
Publisher: Random House Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 13 hours and 23 minutes, ASIN: B00E7YHASU

The world has been remade, because most of mankind has been deliberately eliminated and many new species have been developed. Before he died, Crake developed what he thought was the perfect humanoid, a new species of people that are beautiful, yet socially very different—they do not wear any clothing and they eat nothing but leaves—they are referred to as the Crakers. Now, all that remains in the world are a handful of humans—both good and bad, the Crakers, some sly new creatures including pigoons, pigs who have been spliced with human stem cells to enable the creation of human organs, and the resurgence of vegetation.

Margaret Atwood is a famous Canadian writer born in 1937, and she has written numerous books, short stories, books of poetry and essays. She has won more than 55 awards, both Canadian as well as international. MaddAddam is speculative, dystopian fiction and the story is told primarily in a first person narrative by the main protagonist, Toby, a woman who has survived the waterless flood and the end of mankind. Much of the book is presented in the form of stories that Toby relates to the Crakers about various events that have occurred both before and after the flood.

MaddAddam is much lighter, and included quite a bit more humour than the previous two books in the series. The story is well told and I really enjoyed it. This book continues immediately after the events in The Year of the Flood. Jimmy the Snowman is very ill, the two psychotic paintballers are still on the loose and Adam One is nowhere to be found. The Crakers have relocated themselves along with Jimmy to stay with the group who were once known as God’s Gardeners. Due to Jimmy’s illness, Toby has replaced him in the role of storyteller to the Crakers.

Through and because of the stories, much of Zeb’s past is revealed, which I found intriguing and a bit surprising. It was also interesting to watch the development of the Crakers, and even though Crake created them to be without art or religion, the human need to create and to connect seems to override what Crake intended.  It seems to me, that in light of the potential damage from genetic modifications, that this is an important tale to tell, and it comes across without being preachy, yet it also leaves the reader with an overall feeling of hope.

I recommend this book, as a very good read. However, to truly appreciate the story it is important to read all the books in the series in order which I recommend to anyone who enjoys speculative, dystopian fiction.

 

 

To Purchase: MaddAddam from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series The Lorien Legacies
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Power of Six: 2 Treasure Boxes
Book Two of the Lorien Legacies

 

John, AKA Number Four, has joined forces with Six and now the charm is broken, they are no longer protected. Instead, with the help of John’s human best friend, Sam and his shape-shifting dog, they are devising a plan to defeat the Mogadorians. But first they need to evade the evil aliens, who seem to be everywhere. Meanwhile, halfway around the world, Number Seven, AKA Marina of the Sea, has her own problems but she is certain that John is Loric and is desperately trying to figure out how to contact him.

The Power of Six was much better than the first book, I Am Number Four. There were more characters, which made the story more interesting, and we learned a bit more about the deeper story. Also there was lots of action, which was exciting. I recommend The Power of Six as a good read and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Rise of Nine.

 

 

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I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series The Lorien Legacies
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of I Am Number Four : 2 Treasure Boxes
Book one of The Lorien Legacies Series
Publisher: Harper Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 11 hours and 24 minutes, ASIN: B003YV7AKK

John Smith is one of nine children from the planet Lorien. This small group of aliens came to earth about 10 years ago, seeking refuge because their planet was destroyed by evil, extraterrestrial beings, the Mogadorians. These nine children, now all teenagers, have been isolated from each other and living incognito. Up until now, this has been necessary to ensure their safety and to allow them to develop their legacies, or super-human powers. However due to a powerful charm, the Loriens can only be destroyed in a certain order, and children one through three have all been murdered. John is next, because he is number four.

Pittacus Lore is the pen name for the dual writing team of James Frey and Jobie Hughes who wrote the young adult science fiction series, The Lorien Legacies. Not only is Pittacus Lore the name of the author, but he also plays a character in the series, a Loric Elder, from the Planet Lorien. I Am Number Four is the first book in the series, and to date three books additional books have been released. The story takes place on earth, and is told in a first person narrative by John Smith, a 15 year old teenager from the planet Lorien. James Frey is also the author of A Million Little Pieces; a book that was originally, inaccurately released as a memoir, because many details in the book are fictional.

John and his Lorien teacher and protector, Henri have never stayed in any one place for more than a few months. They know that the Mogadorians are hunting them, but when they come to a small town in Ohio, things start going wrong. This story has an interesting concept, but it is not very original. The book spends a little too much time in exposition and not enough in real character development. In some ways the characters are a little too stereotypical, and although the writing is fairly weak the story was still captivating.  I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

The book was good enough to entice me to start the next book in the series, The Power of Six. If you enjoy young adult, science fiction then you will enjoy this book.  If you enjoyed The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge then you will really enjoy I Am Number Four, because it is a much better story yet it is similar in many ways. I recommend this book as a good read.

To purchase I Am Number Four from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series The Farseer Trilogy
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of Assassin’s Apprentice: 3 Treasure Boxes
The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1
Publisher: Tantor Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 17 hours and 18 minutes, ASIN: B003ATP9VI

A young boy, FitzChivalry, is an outcast, because he is the bastard son of the King-in-Waiting. From the day he was dumped at court by his grandfather, he never felt connected to anyone or anything, except his little puppy. Fitz has magically bonded with the little dog, but soon learns this is an evil thing to do, and has his dog cruelly ripped away from his life. King Shrew has decided to earn Fitz’s loyalty by turning him into an assassin. During his training Fitz is faced with many different tasks and challenges, including uncovering a sinister plot that if successful will place a cruel and uncaring man into power. Meanwhile, the red ship raiders have a secret weapon that turns the captured citizens of the Six Dutchies into living, soulless beasts.

Robin Hobb is a pseudonym for Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden and she has written numerous books, primarily in the fantasy genre. Assassin’s Apprentice was written in 1995 and it was the first book in the world of the Six Dutchies and is the first book in The Farseer Trilogy. The Tawny Man Trilogy was released in 2001 and continues the story, but from a different point of view. Assassin’s Apprentice is in the epic fantasy style because in this world there is a form of magic, no modern conveniences and there is a ruling class of aristocrats, including kings and princes. The story is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, FitzChivalry.

The magic in this fantasy novel is subtle. There is a mental type of control, called The Skill, and it is where, if one has the ability and is properly trained, a person can enter into the mind of another person. There is also another gift, a deeper, darker gift, that is considered evil or dirty, and it is the ability to join minds with an animal. The story is original and enjoyable. Fitz, even as a young boy, is a danger to the crown as the bastard son of the King-in-Waiting. For this reason, King Shrew decides to keep him close and to earn the boy’s loyalty by secretly training him to become an assassin.

Fitz is a great character, and there are other interesting characters in the book, but most of the other players are not well developed. They tend to be one-dimensional without any real depth.  Unlike most epic fantasy novels, this story does not have any real action, but it is well told and well paced with a steady stream of tension throughout.

I recommend this book as a very good read. The story was intriguing and from start to finish, I was never quite sure where it was going and I found it hard to put the book down. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Royal Assassin.

To Purchase Assassin’s Apprentice from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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