The Third Kingdom – By Terry Goodkind

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Disappointing. That’s what I thought of ‘The Third Kingdom’. I’ve happily read Terry Goodkind for years now, having fallen in love with Wizards First Rule way back when, but the Richard from these books is nothing like the one that I was familiar with. The book repeats itself from beginning to end and it feels like a whole lot of filler. If you’re looking for a story that involves Richard and Kahlan at all, you’re out of luck. Instead you get to meet another strong Goodkind female character, Samantha. This was probably the one bright spot in the entire book because Goodkind does write female characters very well.

It doesn’t become apparent until about mid way through the book what the link is between this book and the previous one, The Omen Machine. It’s filled with violence, and no one has an easy time of anything. It felt a little too over the top for me, but again I’m remembering Wizard’s First Rule and the writing style and characters that I initially fell in love with. What happened to the strong Richard, what happened to the proud Kahlan (oh, she got kidnapped, again..), how am I supposed to believe that Nicci and Zed are powerful wizards when their powers now mean nothing at all and they cannot help any situation?

I didn’t feel that I learned anything new from this book aside from within the final chapters, and I’m wondering if I should even continue reading the series because it is so lackluster.

2 / 5 stars.

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Review: Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey

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I am not sure how on earth I ever missed reading this book way back when, but miss it I did, and just discovered it in an old used bookstore here in Kelowna. Sure, I’m quite partial to the books I have on my e-reader, it’s easy to bring them where ever I go and simple to pick up books depending on my moods, but there’s something to be said for the feel of pages between your fingers, especially if the book has been owned previously. Anyway, I’m getting carried away here.

I typically don’t enjoy science fiction. Spaceships bore me, and space discovery has never been something I was interested in reading. However. When it comes to Anne McCaffrey none of these issues seem to bug me. There are a handful of authors that have this effect, where it doesn’t seem to matter what their genre about, I will drink it up and be eternally grateful for the chance to read their work, and this book was one of those.

Killashandra Ree.

She’s a stubborn girl who starts off by being let down by the world. Turned away from her main career choice, she ‘randomly’ meets a handsome stranger who cuts crystal for a living. The main requirement is perfect pitch, which she has (of course) and a few other specifications that I don’t want to spoil for readers.

I found the whole story to be incredibly well written, even though I can’t exactly pinpoint why. The genre is one that typically doesn’t interest me but because it was written in such a descriptive way, I felt like I was almost there, through her trials and tribulations. As Killashandra learns to become a Crystal Singer her class mates came to life, and in most cases they were actually more interesting than her – plus there’s that interesting love affair with her — well, I don’t want to spoil it. Lets just say this was a great read, and I’m sad that it took so long for me to finally read it. I have already picked up the second book and can’t wait to start.

Review: Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

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This book has been going around my feeds as ‘the next big thing’ as far as books-to-read go. A few of my friends read it and loved it which is always a good sign that I may also enjoy reading it.

While I DID enjoy the book, it reminded me far too much of movies like Ender’s Game, and so I didn’t find the story unique at all. Darrow lives on Mars, and works beneath the surface at a very dangerous job. Some things happen that cause him to question what he’s doing, and who he is doing it for. Eventually through a series of events he gets recruited into an organization hoping to overthrow the caste system, but in order to help he has to impersonate one of the ‘higher’ races. He has to move through their ranks, starting with University, which is an us vs. them tactical game of capture the flag. The game turns all too real as the students are pitted against each other, and the teachers get involve taking sides. There are political undertones to the whole thing, which just makes the twists and turns more enticing.

The writing was fantastic and like I already said, I did enjoy the book but it was pretty much (to me) Ender’s Game, with more fantasy than space in certain parts of it (the university capture the flag game happens on a planet). Still, I do recommend picking up the book and giving it a read. The writing more than makes up for a repeat story, and it’s not COMPLETELY like Ender’s Game, it just reminded me a lot of it.

4/5 Stars

Review: The High Druid’s Blade, by Terry Brooks

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The High Druid’s Blade started out with a strong story, but the writing style (in my opinion) did not do it justice. The reader meets Paxon, a young boy doing what he can to help out his family. He has a sister who he is very protective of. She gets herself into some pretty serious trouble, and he goes to rescue her out of it. It felt like the first half of the book was missing a lot of descriptions. I likened it to an overview, it went along the lines of “John got up. John had breakfast. John got on his airship and flew for 5 hours, then John landed.” – I couldn’t relate to the characters or their world because I wasn’t given enough information.

Through an unusual series of events (ie: I couldn’t believe just how things “worked out”) Paxon goes to stay with the Druids who are training him for combat. They need a protector after all. While he is staying with them his sister is kidnapped by the evil Arcannan (or so he assumes) and he once more has to go to her rescue. About mid way through the book the story shifts to the sisters point of view. Things start getting a LOT more detailed but because it’s a torture scene with an underaged girl it felt very awkward. Not because of the scene itself but because this descriptive writing wasn’t in the first half of the book and I found it frustrating that the author had decided to inject it only for the torture scenes. 

It felt like throughout the story things just naturally seemed to be ‘too good to be true’ making Paxon, his sister, the druids, and the small handful of other characters unbelieveable. Near the end things get more realistic, more descriptive and that is the portion I enjoyed. I started connecting to the characters just as the novel was ending. I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the series as this was only the first book, but it was enough to pique my interest. 

The book releases March 11th, and while I did have issues with the writing style I really enjoyed the plot. I received this ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

3/5 stars 

StoryBundle and their Sci-Fi Saturday Night Bundle

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StoryBundle is promoting a wonderful collection of books picked out by the hosts at Sci-Fi Saturday Night. Now, science fiction is not one of my favorite genres, in fact I tend to stay as far away as possible but that doesn’t mean I can’t still promote great deals on wonderful books that others may be interested in. The bundle runs for another 14 days, and like the humble bundle deals you decide how much you want to pay. If you donate more than $10 you receive 3 bonus books.

Sounds like it’s win-win, to me.

If you’ve never heard of StoryBundle before, I suggest you check out their FAQ. They answer pretty much anything you would want to know – and they also look for authors to feature in their bundles. Could be some great publicity!

Review: In The Company of Thieves by Kage Baker

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I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review, my thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.

I admit, sometimes I’m pretty shallow when it comes to picking a book to read. I judge by the covers (both the front and the back). The cover to ‘In the Company of Thieves’ pulled at me and I just knew that I had to read it.

I was sad to learn that Kage Baker had passed on, and even sadder once I read the first short story in this series. It involves a robotic entity who does nothing but observe time as it passes. Down the same streets, the same city. Eventually he starts to watch and observe a woman who visits a specific park each day. She fights for the restoration of the park but no one listens to her. He watches as she becomes thinner, and thinner, and eventually she dies from her illness. It was a sad yet touching story, filled with emotion and compassion, more so once I heard of the authors own death. Funny how things can touch us that way.

The stories were chosen by the authors sister once she had passed on, and that is probably the reason why they seem to ‘hit home’ as it were. There are six short stories total and while the later ones involve a setting that Kage Baker is known for, the first ones are a bit all over the place. This isn’t a bad thing, it just left me a bit confused as I naturally looked for a tie-in between stories. I loved the writing style and the steampunk-esc settings, but still found myself wanting a bit ‘more’ out of each short story.

The book came out in 2013, so if you’re a fan of Kage Baker or are looking for some new short stories to delve into, this makes for a great choice and it certainly left me with the desire to check out some of her other work.

3.5/5 stars