Book Review: The Further Adventures of Xena

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ever since discovering that there is a book series of Xena: Warrior Princess stories, I have been searching for them in used book stores and buying whatever copies I can find. My latest find was this short story collection, which I was eager to read.

This book contains fifteen different short stories which are spread throughout the Xena series. For the most part I really enjoyed the stories, though admittedly there were one of two which I found less entertaining and more tiresome to read. Even so, I thought this was a great way to add some new stories to the series and allow a multitude of authors to contribute.

It also showed how each author interpreted certain characters. I feel that nearly all of them¬†portrayed Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer’s personalities and attributes properly. There were some where I questioned how much of the series they had watched, because in their stories the characters just didn’t feel right.

One great addition to this collection was a story told from Argo’s perspective. I thought this was a fantastic way to really embrace all the main characters of the series. We all know what Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer are like, their reasons for doing what they do. But there isn’t much know about Agro except that she is Xena’s horse. The story wasn’t overly long, but I felt because it didn’t focus on the main three that it was one of the better stories. Agro was in the other stories, but she wasn’t the main attraction of them. Also, there were two stories in this collection where the authors made Agro a stallion and I was a little annoyed with that, since these authors have claimed to be huge fans of the show, so they should know that Argo is female.

Overall, I felt this was a really great book and added something new to the Xena universe. Fans of the show will surely enjoy this and the other books in the series. I’m looking forward to reading more of these books as I find them.

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Book Review: Binti

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About a year ago I noticed the book Binti. I can’t recall exactly where I started seeing it, though it was probably on Twitter or several book blogs, but I was admittedly intrigued. I made a note to get the book and read it. But I then got absorbed into my already enormous TBR and swept Binti to the bottom of the pile. Then recently I started seeing more people talking about this book, and it’s sequel, and I was once again reminded of my desire to read this book. Fast forward to October, when I received a copy of this book from a friend and I finally got around to reading it.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Despite all the times I had seen this book online, I had never paid attention to what it was about, nor any details in various reviews – minus the fact that everyone seemed to love it. So, I decided to not read the blurb and dive right in.

I really loved this book. Right from page one I was pulled into the story, wanting to know more about Binti, her world, her purpose, all the technology, just everything. The world building in this novella is great, with each section you learn something new and more of the story fall into place. There is a nice variety of characters, though the focus is on Binti and the Meduse. The pace of this story is very solid. There are no slow parts, and despite very little action, there is always something happening, always new pieces to the puzzle been placed, Nnedi’s writing really brings this story to life

Really my only complaint is that it was too short. I get it, it’s a novella and therefore it’s supposed to be short. And yes, I do agree that the story was wrapped up nicely so there wasn’t too many questions, but enough left open to lead into the sequel. But I still wish it was longer. I wanted to know more, see more of the worlds, learn more about some of the species that appeared near the end of the novella. I’m sure that will happen over the course of the series.

Overall, I’m very happy that I finally got around to reading this book and I will definitely be continuing on with the series to see where the story leads. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Monday Progress Report

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Sacred Seas by Karen Amanda Hooper
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

What I did Last Week

Read

Well, I didn’t do too much reading last week. I did read Night of Cake And Puppets, which I had been wanting to read for some time now, but only got around to it now since I got my hard cover copy, as I don’t care for reading books on my ereader. I liked this one, but I didn’t love it as much as the main books in the series. I’ll be posting a full review of this one soon.

 

Watched

Much like my reading, I didn’t really watch much TV this week. I did watch an episode of Recovery Of An MMO Junkie, and I’m still really enjoying this new series. We also watched the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels. On Wednesday I got my copy of Your Name, so we had to watch it that night. This is such a great movie and even the boy loved it. Needless to say, I watched it every day after that as well. For Family Movie Night we ended up watching My Dog Skip, which was good, but not as good as I remembered it being.

Life

Life was pretty dull last week. I honestly didn’t do much, because I was lacking in motivation. Hell, I barely even did any writing as well, so now I’m quite behind on my word count for NaNoWriMo.

What I Plan To Do This Week

Reading

No real plans with this. I may read, may not. We shall see.

Watching

I will probably continue to watch Your Name throughout the week because I just love it so much. I will also be catching up on the latest episodes from Star Wars Revels and Recovery Of An MMO Junkie. I’m not sure if I will try to catch up on my PVR stuff or leave it for later.

Life

I really need to buckle down and catch up on my writing. I didn’t write for 5-6 days last week, so I have quite a bit of word to write in order to get not only caught up but be in a good position to finish NaNoWriMo and win.

Book Review: Sacred Seas

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes a book catches you by surprise, grabs hold of you and takes you on a beautiful, emotionally charged journey. This is how I felt throughout the entirety of The Sea Monster Memoirs trilogy. Tangled Tides set the foundation for it all, giving us a story about finding oneself, facing challenges head on and getting the love that you deserve. Dangerous Depths took that foundation and shook it hard, testing the characters even more and forming this beautiful tale of sorrow and perseverance. Sacred Seas came along, taking the best of both of those books, and added in new emotion, depth, trials and pushing the characters to their limits, setting us up one hell of a ride.

I do not normally read emotional books, yet Karen’s writing style allows me to enjoy feeling those emotions along with the characters. Getting that pulse of happiness, sorrow, anger, fear, elation, and that everything those characters experience, I experienced and it made me love the characters and the story even more. There is something almost refreshing when a book causes you to pause while reading and reflect on what it must be like to go through such trials and to come out the other side as a stronger person.

Let’s talk characters for a moment. One neat aspect of this trilogy, is that each book has a different set of narrators. While Yara is always one of the narrators, the other two change in each book. I feel like this really helps to showcase different aspects of the story and world, to present a well rounded tale. Having a multitude of perspectives spread throughout three books is surely a challenge to write, and yet Karen has tackled that and done it well. Her writing style has changed since the beginning of the series, and it’s a wonderful thing to see not just the story and characters evolve along the way, but the writer as well.

Then there is the Kraken. He is a force to be reckoned with. Though Yara and the others have had their fair share of obstacles to overcome, he brings a whole new meaning to the word challenge.

One aspect I really enjoy in this book is the character flaws. Of course we want characters to succeed. But not everything can, or should, come with ease. Things that may be obvious to us readers, aren’t always obvious to the characters, and when they do make those bad decisions (I’m looking at you Rownan!) there is bound to be consequences down the line. What they do when faced with those consequences really makes them grow as a character. I am glad to see these flaws included, because it makes the characters more realistic. No one is perfect.

The flow of this book is great. A little slow to start with as things are set into place, but then it picks up and doesn’t slow down. Each chapter pulls you along, diving into the next challenge that the characters must face and propelling you closer to the end. I couldn’t put this book down, since I kept wanting to know what would happen next, how would Yara, Treygan, Rownan and everyone else manage to get past their next major roadblock.

Scared Seas is a gift. Much like Medusa’s agape pearl, this story truly shines throughout. With it’s stellar fast-paced plot, multifaceted story, wonderful character growth, and a healthy dose of magic, myth and finding that delicate balance between love and loss, triumph and tragedy, and light and dark, Sacred Seas is the series ending that we deserve. This series has solidly placed itself in my list of favorites.

Book Review: The Ophelia Prophecy

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Back in 2013, I read Ghost Planet and knew I had found a new sci-fi author to keep an eye on. Fast forward a couple years and I got my hands on a copy of The Ophelia Prophecy thanks to a friend and I was so eager to read it that I dove into it not long after.

This book started off a little strange, but as I read on, I felt that it worked. It takes time to establish the setting and introduce the characters. I didn’t feel any real connection to Pax of Ashe at the beginning, but as the story progressed and I learned more about both of them, I found myself liking them more.

Unlike many sci-fi novels, the aliens in The Ophelia Prophecy are not from outer space, but originated on Earth. Not only that, but they were genetically engineered by humans to become super soldiers, but something went wrong and they nearly wiped out all of humanity. Now only isolated pockets remain, fearing the Manti, who are a mix of human and insects, and sometimes fighting back, hoping to reestablish their old lives.  The Manti were certainly a unique bunch. Each one varied on what insect features they had. Some, like Pax, looked nearly human, while others reflected the physical attributes of their insect counterparts and had very little human aspects to them.

The flow of this story is very good, it’s a bit slow at first as everything gets established, but it quickly picks up as things begin to unravel. I found the second half to really fly by. There was lots of action, romance and things were finally coming to a head among the many factions in the story.

In a way, I want more. The book ends well enough that it can be a standalone, however, it is also open enough that the author could easily write a sequel. I would honestly love to see a sequel, because there are some unanswered questions. It would be interesting to see where things lie a year, five years or even ten years down the road.

If you like fast paced sci-fi with a healthy dose of romance, then this book might just be for you. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

Book Review: Redshirts

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember why I wanted to read this book. Perhaps it was recommended to me by someone at some point, but all I know is that at some point, for some reason, I picked up the audio book of this book and finally got around to listening to it.

I went into this book fairly blind. I had only the vaguest of inklings what it was about. But sometimes it’s best not to know anything about a book and discover it all along the way.

I’ll admit, at first I fell in love with the story. Having Wil Wheaton as the narrator was a treat, especially given that this book is a spoof of Star Trek. The first few chapters were very enjoyable as the character roles and story got sorted out. The humor of the story had me laughing at various points, though I found this petered off in the second half of the book and was all but nonexistent at the end.

I have to admit, that the conversations in this book grated on my nerves a bit. Every ounce of dialog seemed to consist of very short sentences, followed by he said or she said. So over the course of five minutes, the majority of what I hear was “he said, she said, he said, she said”. It drove me bonkers. You do not have to put “he/she said” after every single bit of dialog. And there are other ways to say “said” which could have been used. This sadly continued throughout the whole book and was incredibly annoying. I don’t know if this was added because it was an audio book or if the book itself was written this way, but man did it lower my enjoyment of the book. This was especially the case when a conversation was held between two people, for example, when Dahl and Duvall were talking. So basically it was go “Dahl said, Duvall said, Dahl said, Duvall said” and so on, until the names disappeared completely and all I heard was “D said, D said, D said” and then I had to question who was saying what because the names were too damn similar when repeated that many times.

The idea behind this book was an interesting one, with real life and fiction intermingling. I liked the entire concept of the book. But sadly the dialog had already made me dislike the book as the chapters passed and by the time I was half done, I just wanted it to be over with.

To top it off, I found the final three chapters to be my least favorite. The book could have ended in the previous chapter and I would have been happy with it, but then these three extra long chapters came along and I just lost interest. In fact, I had to force myself to listen to them because I just didn’t care. Yes, they added something to the story, but I didn’t feel like the reader really needed those bits.

Overall, the book was okay. Funny at first, entertaining and then it just lost itself in the second half. I’m still glad that I listened to it, but I don’t think I would recommend this one. Also, if swearing offends you, then this book might not be for you, since it has a decent amount in it.

Book Review: Cowboy Up!

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A couple years ago, I was browsing my local used book store and stumbled upon this book, along with a couple others in the series. I was of course excited, because I love rodeos and westerns, and this book sounded like it was the perfect combination of the two.

This book is the perfect example of why I love the western genre. I loved the settings, the book was well divided between ranch life and the rodeo. Sometimes I find that western books don’t focus enough on the things that make it a western and just think “well if there is cowboys in it then it’s a western and that should be good enough”. But that was not the case with this book. I really felt like I was experiencing the western life. Reading about the men checking fences, struggling with cattle rustling, feeding the herd and tending to other ranch duties. And then of course there was the rodeo aspect of the book. I absolutely love watching rodeos and the way things were described in the rodeo scenes was exactly what I have seen and felt while watching rodeos. The way the author described the movement of the bulls and horses as the men rode then for those few short seconds was perfection.

The two main characters, Clay and Jack, were very enjoyable to read about. Jack is your typical rough cowboy who does things his way and doesn’t like change. Whereas Clay is a young up and comer who’s had a rough life and is looking to change his ways. Seeing these two men slowly form a friendship over the book, the basis of that friendship revolving around the rodeo, and to a slightly lesser extend the ranch life, really was what I was hoping for.

I devoured this book and immediately wanted more. Luckily I owned most of the series and was able to order the remaining novels shortly after. I am really looking forward to continuing on with this series. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves westerns or those who are looking for a great book that will allow them to dive into the genre.