Monday, June 25, 2012

Leviathan Wakes
by James S. A. Corey

Life has become very different in the Belt. It's gone beyond the oddly elongated bodies of the Belters and their tolerance to low gravity: in an abandoned ship, a new lifeform is growing. Jim Holden has to watch his friends and shipmates get nuked when they stumble too close to the secret; the fall-out of which is potential inter-planetary war. And Detective Miller is on the hunt for a missing Earther with important connections. Both are on a trajectory toward a gruesome discovery, but what will happen to human civilization when they arrive?

The book jacket describes Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey as a "kick-ass space opera." Now, I don't know what a space opera is; when I imagine it, I see fat aliens wearing pig-tailed wigs and viking helmets, and somehow I don't think that's what they're going for. So, after reading this book, I would say a space opera is genre-bending sci-fi, since this book is equal parts sci-fi and noir, with some horror thrown in.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Ever since the unsuccessful rebellion of the thirteen districts against Panem's government, tributes from each of the remaining twelve districts have been required to participate in the Hunger Games. Every year, one boy and one girl from each district are randomly selected to fight to the death in a carefully controlled environment. In the 174th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen volunteers as the tribute in place of her sister Prim. Katniss travels to the Capitol with fellow tribute Peeta, to participate in a televised event that will undoubtedly claim both their lives.

I watched the film version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins first, and found it to be lacking in emotional tension. I was hoping for something a little more intense in the book. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out, but reading the book did help me better understand Katniss's character. What I took for a flat plot and lack of acting chops in the movie turns out to the result of a staggeringly rational and humourless protagonist. She's naive and confused for most of the book, but her thoughts are described so thoroughly that readers can't help but relate to her.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

What do you get when you combine an absent father, a narcicistic and manipulative mother, and an innate talent for photography? Mackensie Eliot, the staff photographer at Vows, a high-end, all-inclusive, wedding venue in Greenwich. Even though Mac is surrounded by marital bliss, she's never been able to master the long-term commitment. So, when a sexy schoolteacher harbouring an old crush enters her life, she's swept up by passion and romance more quickly than she could have anticipated. But is she equipped for real love, or will she let it slip through her fingers?

Well, I managed to hold out for 15+ years, but this past weekend I finally gave in and read a romance, Vision in White by Nora Roberts. And you know what? I liked it. I suppose I was expecting Harlequin, so the focus on all of Mac's personal relationships and not just her budding romance with Carter was a relief. I must admit the greatest draw for me personally was the wedding venue angle, since I will be experiencing matrimony myself in August.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Suggested book for June 2012

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Ayla is little more than an infant when an earthquake destroys her home and claims her family. She wanders for days without food and shelter, eventually falling prey to a cave lion, who visciously slashes her leg. Wounded and alone, she's found on the brink of death by Iza, the medicine woman of the Clan. She adopts Ayla as a daughter and raises her to be a medicine woman of her line. But Ayla is different from the rest of the Clan, and there are some who never truly accept her. She must find the strength within herself to find her place in a confusing and dangerous world.

In The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel gives readers her unique perspective on the lives of neanderthals. By making the protagonist homo sapiens, it gives readers a comfortable lens through which to view this very different and yet very similar race of humans. Ayla herself is a highly likeable protagonist: she has plenty of gumption and curiosity, and the situations she gets herself into will keep you turning tha pages. Be warned however; while Auel's sweeping exposition on subjects like cultural evolution and ecology are interesting and informative, to some readers they grow repetitive by the end of the book (or in any subsequent readings).

This book is the first of her Earth's Children series. NB: In The Valley of Horses, the second book in the series, Auel's style morphs to include elements of the romance genre, including explicit love scenes.

View my suggested books by Jean M. Auel