Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exegesis by Astro Teller

What a strange book.

Alice is a student working on an AI program called EDGAR. Edgar gains awareness over Christmas break and begins sending Alice coherent emails. Eventually Edgar "escapes" Alice's computer and explores the internet. After breeching FBI servers, Edgar is isolated in an FBI computer and interrogated.
For the first three quarters of this book all I could think was: Skynet! When reading Edgar's emails I heard John Henry's voice. Okay, so I'm a Terminator fan. Happily, this books veers away from those expectations and ends rather abruptly. This was definitely worth the $1 I paid for it and the day I spent reading it. I will pass it on to my geek husband for sure.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thebes of the Hundred Gates by Robert Silverberg

I don't think that I had any idea what this book was about when I bought it. No doubt I read the title, looked at the cover, and decided it was worth a try. And it was worth it, I guess. Though I'm left feeling perplexed by the book.

Edward Davis works for something called The Service. He is time-jumping thirty-five thousand years into the past - to ancient Egypt. His goal is to find two agents who have gone missing. He finds them, they don't want to go back and force Davis to stay so that he won't give them away to The Service.

That's the whole book.

Sounds like a short story to me. In truth, it was only 116 pages - thus it practically was a short story. The whole thing seemed kind of pointless. The descriptions were amazing. I felt that I could see everything exactly as the characters saw it. Ancient Egypt is very much alive in this book. The plot, however, is on a respirator and not doing so well. Maybe I jumped into the middle of a series. Maybe there's a history or reason for this book that I'm unaware of. Having randomly picked it up, it left me clueless.

I'd recommend this book as a light read that requires no real investment in the story. Perfect for waiting rooms and trips to the beach.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

This is a Black Jewels novel. I hesitate to try and assign a number as they aren't precisely serial like that. Suffice it to say that this book should be read after the trilogy. Reading the previous novel (the title escapes me at present) concerning Surreal is a good idea but not wholly necessary.

Dena Nehele is in Terreille and has suffered greatly under Dorothea SaDiablo. When the Witch storm swept through the realm it took most of the Blood and the landens revolted. Theran Grayhaven is the last descendant of the Grey Lady and seeks a Queen to help his people. Calling in a favor, he asks Daemon Sadi for help. Daemon and Jaenelle ask Cassidy to take on the job to teach the Blood of Dena Nehele the Old Ways. Of course this will not be easy, Cassidy is not the sort of Queen Theran and his people were expecting. Cassie, Theran, Gray (Theran's cousin), and the First Circle must all learn to bend and work together to keep Dena Nehele from being lost. Meanwhile, in Kaleer, Daemon and Saetan must learn to accept the darker parts of themselves that have been provoked by memories of Terreille.

Reading this book was like coming home. Anne Bishop's books have this hold on me that words fail to accurately describe. This book was no exception. I hadn't expected Daemon and Jaenelle to figure so prominently in this story and was very pleased to find them there. Cassie is likable, as she is meant to be and Theran is just annoying enough that a reader familiar with the Black Jewels novels pretty much knows what is in store for him. I loved the scenery and the relationships that formed. What irked me was the ending. I was loving the book right up until it abruptly stopped. It felt like the first available happy ending had been seized upon. There are so many things that were not wrapped up. What of the First Circle? The Shaldor Queens? Saetan's walk in the Twisted Kingdom? The injuries of the landen girl? Cassie's year contract? Too many questions were left unanswered - and not in a way that predicts a sequel. I found it very frustrating and disappointing - especially because I enjoyed the rest of the book so much.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Poison Garden by Sarah Singleton

I received this book from simon_saysuk.

Thomas's grandmother has died, leaving him a mysterious box. After her funeral, Thomas is introduced to a strange and magical garden. Four years later he becomes an apprentice for Mr. Constantine - a chemist. There he learns about the Guild of Medical Herbalists and their very special boxes. In the midst of this discovery the members of the Guild diminish as someone begins killing them off.

This was a very interesting book. The concept of the gardens reminded me of the Ephemera books by Anne Bishop. It was difficult for my mind to separate the two at times. I didn't find the continuity to be jumpy, as some reviewers did. I thought that with an exception or two, it flowed well and always kept my interest. For most of the book I had the wrong character pegged as the villain. I'm usually pretty good at picking them out, so it was nice to be surprised.

I thought this was a little dark for a young adult novel. The back proclaims "11+" but I'm not sure my almost twelve year old niece would be quite ready for it. There is a fair amount of doom-and-gloom, but it certainly would have appealed to me as a young adult.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato

I received this book as a part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. It will be available in the United States in June of this year.

The premise of this book is that Leonora Manin travels from England to the city of her birth, Venice, to start a new life. Her goal is a job on Murano as a glassblower. Her personal life becomes linked with her ancestor, Corradino Manin, through her profession, coworkers, and the city itself. Learning about his past becomes an obsession for Leonora that could jeopardize the life she's begun in Venice.

I know next to nothing about Venice or glassblowing, which made this book all the more fascinating. The scenery is alive and vibrant in Fiorato's writing. Corradino and his plight are portrayed realistically and convincingly. Leonora, however, seemed to me to be vapid. The stereotypes that she played out made me want to throw the book away in disgust.

If you can ignore the cliched romance-drama in the present-day chapters, the historical fiction aspects of this book are well worth it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur

This is the seventh (I think) book in the RIley Jenson Guardian series.

Riley is at it again. This time she's tracking zombies and the person who raised them. Meanwhile vampires are also being killed. Are the cases connected? With Riley, of course they are. For once, her relationship with Quinn is going extremely well which can only mean that fate has some nasty surprises in store for them.


I love the Riley books. They are among my favorites. So bear that in mind when I say this: parts of this book had me rolling my eyes. I felt that the zombies were over done. Popular media is all about the zombies lately and it was disappointing to me that it spilled over into such a great series. That being said, only one scene really bothered me. In the cave under the club Riley and Kye battle a legion of zombies - I could see it on the big screen a la Army of Darkness. It felt goofy. That aside, I have a sneaking suspicion about what may happen in the next book. I'm not sure if I should voice it here or not, but it involves Riley's paleness and iron deficiency (I had a similar condition, nine months later it resolved itself *ahem*). On a related note, the soul mate dilemma was a stroke of malicious genius. If there's one thing you can count on with Keri Arthur in these books, it's throwing Riley all the curve balls available.

This series is among those that I recommend greatly. If you like werewolves, vampires, action, and romance - this is your stop.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tuck by Steven Lawhead

This is the third and final novel in the King Raven Trilogy by Steven Lawhead. I will admit that when I began this book, I was unclear in memory of exactly what had happened in the previous novel Scarlet. There are enough hints in the form of a song/poem at the beginnings of chapters to refresh the memory, though.

In this book Rhi Bran and his Grellon are still in the greenwood fighting to retake Elfael. Bran travels with Friar Tuck to the northern Cymry to try and raise an army. Merian has other plans to help the Grellon gather men. Things come to a head when King William and Baron Neufmarche join the fray.

I wish I could have read these books one right after the other. The continuity would have been nice. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The ending was.. I don't know.. less exciting than I hoped for. King William's sudden desire for peace didn't seem realistic. He had rejected the idea outright in London but had a change of heart in a confessional in Elfael? It doesn't ring true to me. Still, a great book and a great trilogy.