The Summer Dragon – Todd Lockwood

The Summer Dragon is the first book of a trilogy, and the author’s first book. The second book in the series is, sadly, not out yet.

The main character is Maia, the “Broodmaster’s” daughter. Her family has raised dragons for generations for the army. Maia’s biggest wish is to finally receive a qit (baby dragon) of her own to bond with and to continue her family tradition of breeding dragons.

Her world gets turned into turmoil after the “Summer Dragon”, an omen of chang

e, shows itself to her. Different factions in the country wants to twist her story and its meaning to suit their own needs, and  Maia is caught in the middle.

The story has good pacing and a good plot. I like the main character a lot, she’s well rounded and compelling and she’s not afraid to take action. The world is plausible and well thought out. And the dragons are magnificent. Lockwood has created a new and unique mythos for his world.

All in all a great read.

 

Recommended: Yes!

Reminds me of: Marie Brennan’s “A Memoir by Lady Trent” books, and very slightly of Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon” series.

Fun Fact: Todd Lockwood made the art, including the cover, and maps in the book himself. He also made the art for Marie Brennan’s “Lady Trent” series that Frida has previously reviewed.

Checks of: ”A book with a female main character”

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Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton, 1990

I’m assuming the premise for Jurassic Park is fairly well known. A private company has figured out how to clone dinosaurs and decided to make a profit by opening a theme park on a small privately owned island.

In the start of the book small reptile-like creatures has made it to the mainland and is making trouble. Investigations are made, but human stupidity and people assuming they know what the creature is make the progress very slow.

Meanwhile, before the park has opened to the public, a couple of scientist that unknowingly helped make the park a reality (paleontologists, biologists, mathematicians, etc.) are invited to the park to see what they helped create. Things start to go wrong not long after they arrive.

The buildup to the action is very long in this book, but it means that there is also a long buildup of tension. This result in it being freaking terrifying when shit goes down. When stuff start to go poorly the tension is at a crescendo, and I had goosebumps all over. I was also fairly close to hyperventilating. (Note: If you listen to the audiobook like I did, I do NOT recommend listening to this part of the book while driving).

Jurassic Park is very much a science-centric book. It mostly deals with genetics but also computer science, mathematics, and behavioural science.

The foreshadowing was well done. Sometimes it was very obvious but it worked well with the story and with keeping the tension up. You just KNOW it’s going to get worse.

I found some of the characters very annoying. At least some of these were annoying on purpose. For example: a character being willfully ignorant of the dangers and their own faults, and a young girl that was being very whiny (while completely in character for a young child) made me very annoyed. At the same time all the characters were very human with plausible, realistic, faults that affected the story in the choices they made

Overall I found it to be an interesting and occasionally deeply terrifying read.

Recommended: Yes

Reminds me of: A bit reminiscent of Asimov’s books regarding the explanation of the science. The very best parts of this book gave a similar feeling (terrifying suspense) to the very best part of ”2001: a space opera” (and by that I mean the part with HAL 9000)

Checks of (from my 2018 reading list): “A book made into a movie you’ve already seen”

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Reading Challange 2018

So I thought it would be fun to do a reading challenge!

It is heavily influenced by other reading challenges found online, but I did put it together myself.

Also, I’m a bit late, but at least it’s still January!

So without further ado, here it is:

  • A classic you’ve been meaning to read
  • A book recommended by someone else
  • A book you can read in a day
  • A book by a favorite author
  • A banned book
  • A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction
  • A book with a one-word title
  • Reread a favorite book
  • A book with a number in the title
  • A retelling of a fairytale
  • A book that involves a mythical creature
  • A book about space travel, aliens or other planets
  • A book with a male main character
  • A book with a female main character
  • A classic of genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, romance etc)
  • A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author
  • A book made into a movie you’ve already seen
  • The next book in a series you started
  • A book about a villain or antihero
  • A book about death or grief
  • A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym
  • A book by two or more authors
  • A book with alliteration in the title
  • A book about time travel
  • A book that’s published in 2018
  • A book set in the decade you were born
  • A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to
  • A book that involves a bookstore or library
  • A cyberpunk or steampunk book
  • A book you picked up based on the title
  • A book told through letters

Happy reading!

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The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

My read for this year’s ”All Hallows Read”, where you read (or give away) a scary book for Halloween.

The story begins with everyone but the youngest kid in a family being murdered. This child makes his way to a nearby graveyard and is adopted by the ghosts who live there. They name him Nobody Owens, and the book follows his life growing up surrounded by dead people.

It is a surprisingly heartwarming and sometimes funny book about growing up. It was

definitely written for kids, and while some things were clearly foreshadowed and nothing came as a big surprise I found it to be a nice reading experience.

I also like that his guardian at the graveyard, Silas, (as opposed to his ghostly adopted parents, the Owenses) is properly mysterious. We never find out just what kind of creature he is, although we know that he is not dead. I do however have some strong suspicions as to what he is.

All in all a nice, quick read.

Recommended: Yes!

Reminds me of: Other Neil Gaiman books. He does have a specific writing style. Although more Caroline than Sandman, definitely.

Favorite quote: I have to pick the iconic first line from the book: ”There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

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Mind Games – Teri Terry

Don’t let the shiny cover fool you. Mind Games is a book that has very thought-provoking themes hidden in a YA-plot. I picked it up to have something light and easy to read when I didn’t really have time to read, but it griped me tight and didn’t let me go until it was finished. I literally opened the book while standing in front of my bookshelf, and was still standing there, reading, an hour later.

The plot revolves around a young woman in high-school names Luna, and she has a secret that no one can know. Almost everyone has an implant in their brain that enables them to connect to the internet anywhere and anytime. Connection can also be made non-invasively through a “chair”.  School is mostly taught through the internet, and socialization and hobbies, games, and mostly everything takes place online and not IRL. Luna does not have an implant (because of her secret) and this sets her apart from her peers.

The most coveted employer is the company which makes the implants and controls the cyberspace. And they take an interest in Luna. Can she hide her secret from them? Will she discover her “destiny” in time? Read and find out! (Sorry, I had to)

I really do not want to spoil the ending of the book, because the twist at the end was pretty amazing, and I didn’t pick up on it until basically right before it happened.

 

Reminded me of: “Ready Plater One”, Ernest Cline meets “Divergent”, Veronica Roth

Recommended? Simply put: Yes. Mind Games is, as mentioned, a YA book with a YA plot, so if you can’t stand that then maybe this book is not for you. But the book is well written and I like the plot a lot.

“Fun” Fact: At the start of the book when the background was explained my thought process went something like: “I’ve read enough dystopias to know that getting a chip in your brain is obviously a bad idea, I would never do that.” And then they mention actually being able to visit Hogwarts (taking classes there and playing Quidditch), and it feeling like you are actually there with an implant. And my brain just went “Okay, that’s it. That’s how they get me. I would so risk my mind being controlled to be able to go to Hogwarts”.

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Beauty Queens – Libba Bray

50 Beauty Queens are on their way to the Miss Teen Dream Pageant, sponsored by The Corporation, when their plane crashes on a remote, deserted island. The survivors do what they can to survive, struggle with their own priorities and discover unexpected sides to both the others and themselves. Some have secrets and unknown agendas beyond just competing in the beauty pageant, but they are not the only ones with secrets. How deserted is the island, really? And why is it taking so long for The Corporation to find them?

This is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own accord (I picked it up because author John Green recommended it), which only goes to show that sometimes, you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (in spite of what I have previously said on this matter) – because I’m glad I did. While this book was occasionally slightly too absurd for my taste, it was mostly strikingly accurate – though outrageous – satire of our society, and very funny. Other than the elements which were too absurd for my taste, the end scene was a bit of a drawback for me – it is in a way very fitting, but I found it rather annoying (surely we’ve gotten past this kind of thing after all the events of the book?) and a bit forced. That’s not to say the ending as a whole wasn’t good though – I quite liked it, on the whole.

Recommended? Not a must read, but it is good.  Pick it up when you feel like reading something light and easy, but still are prepared to deal with the vapidness of our society.

Reminded me of: It is a bit like a mixture of the outrageous satire of Pratchett and the delicately drawn portrait of young adults of John Green, maybe?

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The colour of magic – Terry Pratchett

”The Colour of Magic” is the first book in the Discworld series, which has dozens of books and several series within itself. It gives us an introduction to the Discworld – carried through space on the back of the Great A’Tuin, a giant turtle – as well as certin recurring characters: The wizard Rincewind, who knows only one spell and mustn’t use it, but who is nonetheless a wizard, Death (yes, the Death) and a personal favourite of mine – the Luggage. Follow the world’s first tourist Twoflower as he somehow survives all manner of adventure with Rincewind as (a somewhat inept) guide, and as the Luggage comes to the rescue more than once…

I’m struggling to write this review because I have mixed feelings about the book. There are certain parts I love – such as the Luggage, Death (more on him in the Death series within the Discworld series), puns like the Circumfence (a fence which runs along the edge of the circular discworld) and the sea troll made up entirely of ocean – but I didn’t find myself drawn in to the story and eager to know what comes next. Pratchett’s writing is satire drawn to the point of absurdity, and that is always something I struggle with – or rather, it sometimes crosses a line where I find it more tiresome than fun – and perhaps there was a bit more crossing of that line in this work than in other Pratchett books I’ve read. At any rate, this is not my favourite discworld novel among the ones I’ve read so far – but I have it on good authourity Pratchett gets better and better as the series progresses.

Recommended: Yes – as an introduction to Discworld and for its imaginative imagery, it is definitely worth reading. However,  if you are like me you’ll enjoy other discworld books more – may I suggest starting with ”Equal Rites”, the first Witches book, or better yet the stand-alone ”The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents”.

Reminds me of: Well, surprise surprise –  other Pratchett books. Also certain similarities with Douglas Adams (not that I am any expert on him).

Favourite quote: ”sitting on a pitted and moss-grown milestone, a black and raggedy figure. His was the air of one who is unjustly put upon, who is dreaded and feared, yet who is the only friend of the poor and the best doctor for the mortally wounded. Death”

and

”apparently composed of water and very little else. It was as if ocean had decided to create life without going through all that tedious business of evolution, and had simply formed a part of itself into a biped and sent it walking squishily up the beach”

P.S. I thought I might as well subtly promote The English Bookshop (that’s their bookmark) – it is the best bookshop I have ever seen, and without it my bookshelves would be a good many excellent books shorter.

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Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

The End is coming. In the war between good and evil which has been raging since the beginning of time (about 6000 years or so), it is time for the final battle – as predicted in The Nice and Accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, a completely reliable but quite incomprehensible book. The demon Crowley would rather prefer not to be involved, but has been tasked with delivering the Antichrist, whom he promptly misplaces but not quite so promptly realises has been misplaced. In the meantime, he teams up with his angel friend Aziraphale to see if maybe they can prevent Armageddon – the Earth is quite nice, after all…

Style wise, I think this is pretty much exactly what you’d expect to get by mixing Pratchett and Gaiman. In other worlds it is both some accurate satire of our world, some roving storylines, some nuggets of gold in the form of characters that stay with you forever, rather absurd, and very funny. I quite like it.

In particular, I appreciate the friendship between a demon and an angel and their discussions on good and evil, the portrayal of Death, who is everywhere and never left, and various small puns and other nuggets which you’ll have to discover for yourselves.

Recommended? Yes.

Reminds me of: Other works by the two authors spring to mind, of course (and personally, this one is among my favourites among their work – up there with The Amazing Maurice and Neverwhere, respectively). But for something outside their work… for a somewhat similar british humour, you could go for ”Rivers of London” (Peter Grant series #1, Ben Aaronovitch). Otherwise something by Douglas Adams.

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Within the Sanctuary of Wings – Marie Brennan

The fifth and (sadly) final volume of Lady Trent’s memoirs, bringing the story of her famous expeditions, though not her life or scientific endevours, to a finish with an account of her expedition to the Mrtyahaima Mountains.

Brennan, as excellent as always, ties together threads I did not even realize needed tying together, threads I had thought already neatly woven into the fabric, and manages not only to not disappoint even after the brilliant volume four, but to exceed expectations. See, after volume four I figured this last volume would be a good ending – I’d expect nothing less from this author – but I didn’t think it was possible to top the adventures and scientific discoveries of the last volume. I was wrong. And that is all I will say for fear of spoiling it. I may have already said to much.

Seriously though, I love both this book and the entire series – I love the adventure, I love the romance (there is some, but it’s not a focus), I love the dry humour, I love the scandalous disregard for society’s rules, and perhaps most of all, I love how it is, at the heart of it, about the love of Science.

Recommended? Well duh. Just read it (but read volumes I-IV first).

Reminded me of: Oh, nothing would do it justice.

Favourite quote: ”Although my memoirs are of course the story of my life and career, they are also the story of discovery: of curiosity, and investigation, and learning, not only regarding dragons but many other topics. I take comfort in knowing that others will carry this tale forwards /…/ ”

Spoiler alert – read on only once you’ve finished the book

Läs mer

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Grief is the thing with feathers – Max Porter

Oh boy, this is a weird one. Or you know, experimental – as in while there is a plot, it’s as hard to follow as a unlaid jiqsaw puzzle, and the sentences come to you as the unconnected thoughts of man, children and, well, crow. If you like that kind of thing, you’ll love this – if not, perhaps stay clear.

I was drawn in by the title – a version of ”Hope is the thing with feathers”, a favourite poem by Emily Dickinson (link here for those interested)  – and the promise of crows, a favourite bird of mine. The title is apt, in its own way, but don’t expect either Dickinsonesque poetry or the hallowed birds of mythology and wilderness – expect grief, and if you’re like me, a mixture of somewhat tiresome bits and fascinating bits.

Recommended? In all honesty, no. But not everyone has the same taste, so if you like the sound of the above then go for it. It’s a quick read in either case.

Reminded me of: I suppose it is a bit like Virgina Woolfs’ To the Lighthouse in that it is, I think, a form of stream of consciousness-writing.

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