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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Monday Progress Report

Reviews Posted Last Week:
None

What I did Last Week

Read

I did a bit of reading last week, however I didn’t get any books done. Though I did make some progress with Rhapsody, as book that has been half read since October, so I’m happy with that.

Watched

I sort of ignored the TV this week. I didn’t watch anything I normally do each week. We did start our Christmas movie marathon and so far we watched Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special, Santa Buddies and A Garfield Christmas Special. I also watched Your Name again, because I just love this movie so much.

Life

I feel like this week I did nothing and yet I did quite a bit. I did a major cleaning of the house and discovered a pile of things I forgot to donate a while ago, so I took those to the donation place. I wrapped up some presents, make some decorations and placed them in my reading corner. I had a baking order, which was a bunch of dog treats, so that took up a good chunk of one day. Then I finally made a carrot cake, something I had been promising hubby and the boy for weeks now. Since the weather was quite nice, I took the dog for a walk several times, since it’s rare we have nice warm weather this late in the year. I also played a crap ton of World of Warcraft. I have been absolutely loving playing this game again, even though I had only stopped playing for a month, it felt like an eternity and I’m definitely it catch up mode.

What I Plan To Do This Week

Reading

I’m hoping to get some reading done, but I have no idea how much reading time I will have. I do really want to focus on Rhapsody, because that book has been partially read for more than a month, so it would be nice to finally finish it.

Watching

Not real solid plans here, except that I know we will be continuing to watch a Christmas movie every day, I just don’t know which movies we will be watching yet.

Life

There will be lots of World of Warcraft for me this week. I also have some holiday baking that I want to get done, name gingerbread and some cookies. The weather is supposed to stay decently warm, so I will be taking advantage of that and walking the dog as much as I can. I will also be setting aside a day or two this week to work on reviews and some misc blog posts that I have been putting off for far too long.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is the Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR.

Winter is my favorite time to read, because it’s usually too cold and snowy to want to leave the house for several months on end. So of course I do a majority of my reading during this time. So here are ten books from my winter TBR – though I’m hoping to get through a good chunk of these before the year is done.

  1. Prophecy: Child of Earth by Elizabeth Haydon
  2. Winter by Marissa Meyer
  3. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  4. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  5. Howl`s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  6. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  7. Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre
  8. From A Certain Point of View by Various Authors
  9. Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
  10. Leia Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

Monday Progress Report

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Binti by Nnedi Okoafor

What I did Last Week

Read

Didn’t do any reading last week. I thought about reading at several points, but never made the effort to pick up a book and read.

Watched

Last week I watched The Hunt, which was a documentary about predators, narrated by David Attenborough, and I quite enjoyed it. I caught up on the latest episodes Alaska The Last Frontier and Recovery of An MMO Junkie. Then I watched Hidden Figures and this movie was so darned good, I’m glad I finally got a chance to watch it.

Life

Last week was one of those weeks where I just didn’t want to do a darn thing, so I didn’t, but this also resulted in me being bored for the most part, wishing I was doing something. On the weekend, I started playing World of Warcraft again, which was awesome and I spent way too many hours playing it, but had tons of fun.

What I Plan To Do This Week

Reading

I don’t have any set plans here, but I do want to get some reading done. I need to see what catches my eye from my shelf and then read that. This is the start of pushing towards reading as much as I can before the year ends, trying to get those last few books from my 2017 TBR read.

Watching

I’m not sure what I will watch this week. I’m sure I have a number of things on the PVR that needs attention.

Life

Let’s be honest, I will be playing way too much World of Warcraft this week, but that’s okay, because it makes me happy and gives me something to do during the long cold winter days.

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.

Book Review: Old Man’s War

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I will admit, that I was hesitant to listen to this audiobook. After listening to Redshirts, which I reviewed earlier this month, I was worried that this book would be bogged down with “he said, she said” dialogue much like Redshirts was. While there was a lot of “said” used in this book, there were at least other descriptors used as well, so that alone made the book more enjoyable.

The narrator, William Dugris, was a bit boring at times. His voice often had a flat, almost monotone quality to it, which at times made listening a chore, because my mind would wander away from the story. Overall, it wasn’t too bad to listen to, I just had to make sure to really pay attention. He did do a pretty decent job of giving each character their own unique voice.

I found the concept of the book interesting. The idea to recruit old people to a war effort, seems very unorthodox, even with the promise of anti-aging, so I was definitely curious to see how it would work out.

I felt like things were explained well enough. It didn’t feel bogged down by scientific jargon, but some explanations weren’t perfect – like the discussion about how the “beanstalk” didn’t follow the laws of physics. I get that things like that need to be explained or else readers will complain that it was missing valuable information, but then at times those descriptions feels like they go too deep.

It was nice to have a book where the main characters are older. So many books have characters from their teens to thirties, with the only older people being grandparents or elders, and they get small roles. Of course this changed as the book progress, what with the anti-aging process happening, but it was entertaining while it lasted. And yes, I understand that, in a way, those characters are still 70+ mentally, but it certainly changed things to have them also younger again.

Things got a little weird after the “anti-aging process”.

My interest started to wane a bit about the half way point when the characters were going through all their training. I don’t know if it’s because my interest in the story had lessened or if the narrators voice was just making me not care, but I definitely had to keep reminding myself to pay attention and listen to it or else I might miss everything.

There was a decent amount of action in this book, especially in the last quarter of it. I found a few of the characters to be great additions to John, but overall, I didn’t find that any of them stood out. I get that it was technically Johns story and thus the focus was on him, but I would have liked to see a bit more from the other characters – though maybe I will if I continue with the series. I also wish we could have seen more alien species, as there were only a few mentioned and most of those were just minor “oh look there’s a __” and that was it.

I may eventually continue on with this series, but I am in no major rush to. I am glad that I finally got around to this book.

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.