Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hunter's Run

Hunter's Run, written by Gardner Dozois, George R. R. Martin, and Daniel Abraham is a hardcore science fiction novel. I enjoy science fiction to an extent, Ender's Game is still one of my favorite novels, but this was an extreme alien immersion. And I actually enjoyed it.
The language in the novel was strong, but perfect for the character of Ramon, the rough, dregs of society that he was.
I give the book 4 of 5 stars.

The Hunger Game, by Suzanne Collins

After reading all the great reviews about this novel I was disappointed that the author was a poor writer. How you tell the story is almost as important as the story itself.
If it wasn't for the fast pace and the interesting plot, I would have cast this book aside. I shouldn't be too surprised, I mean, bad writers keep making good money and getting published. "The Gargoyle" was horrid, I didn't make it past chapter one, and it got great reviews. "Twilight." Enough said.
I gave The Hunger Games 2 and a half stars, for the plot alone. By the end of the novel I was ready to kill Katness myself if she survived the Hunger Games.

Monday, August 1, 2011

On China, by Henry Kissinger

It would be an understatement to say that this was an amazing work written by the premier statesman involved in the development of Chinese and American diplomacy. "On China" is a personal account of Kissinger's many visits to China and his dealings with several generations of Chinese leaders.

Anyone seeking a clearer understanding of China and why things are the way they are needs to read this book. I will say that there are a few things I was disappointed with, he barely mentioned Sun Yat-sen and the impact he had on transitioning China from a dynastic Imperial system. The work is so focused on the diplomatic side of things he ignores any real depth concerning who the Gang of Four were and Zhou Enlai's relationship with Mao Zedong (Mao did not attend Zhou's funeral even, and Kissinger fails even to mention that there was a split).

I was always a huge admirer of Deng Xiaoping, I remember when he died. Deng Xiaoping was the leader of China when I was born, and an amazing man. Reading these behind the scenes snapshots of Deng Xiaoping altered my perception permanently, I now admire him even more, and finally understand the why's behind some of his less-than-praiseworthy moments.

I highly recommend this book, especially to any of my students representing China this year. Five out of Five stars, despite my few criticisms.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card

You've probably heard the story before. The beautiful princess, much beloved by her people, is cursed by the wicked witch. Good witches keep the evil spell from killing the princess but she falls into a deep sleep from which she can only be awakened by true love's kiss. When he comes valiantly in to rescue the princess they live happily ever after.

“Enchantment” by Orson Scott Card takes that familiar fairy tale and turns it on its head. The Russian versions of these same fairy tales do not end with happily ever after. They involve adultery, murder, hatred, chaos, and in some versions the princess also dies. Ivan Petrovich Smetski, called Vanya but whose real name is Itzak Shlomo, comments that only an idiot would want to live through a Russian fairy tale... Continued

A pity that it is he that will be doing just that. 5 of 5 stars for another marvelous novel by my favorite author.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Winning Delegate

"The Winning Delegate, An Insider's Guide to Model United Nations" isn't exactly the type of book I would write a review for on this blog. It is, however, a book on an important facet of my life.

If you are interested in the ins and outs of a Model UN competition and/or want to improve your performance check out my full review.

And then, of course, click the link below and pick up this book. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

Read the full review here

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card is the ninth book in the Ender series. Chronologically it fits between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but to understand its content you will want to have read the entire Shadow series, the spin off of Ender's Game that follows Julian Delphiki (Bean).

I was afraid, picking this book up twelve years after having read Ender's Game, that I would be disinterested in returning to this part of Ender's life. I thought I would be lost and confused, forgetting important plot points.

I was very wrong. It was more like a reunion with long lost but never forgotten friends. I immediately recognized the banter between Peter and Valentine, between Petra and Ender, and I loved it. I fell in love with the characters all over again, and all they needed to do was show up.

I loved this novel. I love the depth Card gives his characers. And I love the deep, intellectual jabs Card includes that would be so easy to just look over if you don't get them. Things like a verbal exchange where Ender is referred to as a knot and says he is a Gordian Knot, to just cut. References to Shakespeare's The Tempest tickled me, a joke about Caliban made me lol.

In the end, this book was a stunning reminder of why Card is my favorite author.

5 of 5 stars

Monday, April 4, 2011

Faith of the Fallen, Terry Goodkind

Full review here

Yes, I have yet to put up the review for the last installment or two in this series, but I just finished this one and wanted to put up the review right away.

To be honest, I was growing tired of this series. Fiction requires a certain "willing suspension of disbelief," and by book six I was becoming unwilling to buy into this story. So I was delighted that this novel was so unexpectedly amazing.

Faith of the Fallen was probably one of my favorites of the series so far. The military campaigns were genuinely exciting and made for great reading. Life portrayed under the Order was interesting Richard's efforts to show them what freedom means-- to show them that their lives are their own-- was heart stirring.

I litterally tingled with excitement as the novel sped to the powerful conclusion. It's been a long time since the end of a nove brought a tear to my eye, and this novel managed to do it.

4 1/2 of 5 stars

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Read the full review here

This was another excellent book by my favorite author, Orson Scott Card. The novel has plenty of twiats and turns and things to keep you guessing until the last page. In typical Card fashion, the protagonist is an intelligent young man. Rigg will have to use everything he learned from his mysterious father if he is to survive a life that he is suddenly thrust into.

4 of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lots of Catching Up

So, I have been away for a while, working on my first novel, currently titled "Caym's Service." It's never a good idea to get attached to a title too soon, so that is simply the working title.

The novel evolved a great deal over time, the main character was named Bayard Ansital, he was a demon hunter searching for the demon that permanently altered his life years ago and returned to kill his wife and child.

Now the main character is named Bayrd Anstal (flows so much nicer) a demon ruined his life 5 years ago and he ran away from it, living a life of obscurity. When he finally, after 5 years, decided to move on a woman he had a date with is brutally murdered. This sets into motion a stream of events that will reveal to Bayrd what really happened five years ago and nothing is what it seemed or even now seems.

In my typical Xiao Wang duality there is a strong romantic theme in the novel that runs parallel to the violence and bloodshed. There are three significant women in Bayrd's life through the novel, and you are left guessing until the end how that turns out.

So, shameless plug over, I have read several books in that time and need to put up reviews for them. I will do so over the next couple days.