Book Review: Rushed by Brian Harmon

rushed coverIt has been a while since I did a book review.  Lately I have been re-reading some of my favorite books.  I have done reviews on a few.  Otherwise it has been a while since I read a book that I could not put down.

The first thing that caught my attention in this book is the interaction between the main character (Eric) and his wife.  My spouse and I have similar interactions.  While there are significant differences there were enough similarities to make me feel right at home and comfortable with their interactions.

The other thing that kept me hooked was the way the character interacted with his environment.  He did not just rush into anything.  He took time to examine things and think before he acted.  This process saved him a few instances and caused problems in others.  Just because you have a guide does not mean you should just blindly follow.

The Story:

Eric is an average guy, perhaps even slightly more intelligent than average.  He has a good job and family life.  One night he has a nightmare that causes him to abandon all reason and go out for a drive.  Being slightly more intelligent than the average bear, he actually stops before he gets into the car and drives.  He manages to put it off for two days before investigating the overwhelming need to drive, somewhere.

Eric only has his cell phone (with spotty reception) and wits to overcome the obstacles in his way.  Weird creatures and shady characters are common encounters as he follows the path set out before him.

I should also point out that this book is free (right now) if you have a Kindle.  Even then it is worth the pittance that would be charged (like 3 or 4 dollars.)  I bought the second book “The Unseen.”

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Night Circus –Erin Morgenstern

I was cleaning out my Kindle this past week and I ran across this amazing gem of a book. I am going to have to buy a physical copy. It is that good.

I do not remember why I picked this book from the Kindle library. All I remember is that I was looking for fantasy, fun and good (always.) I downloaded a lot of new, cheap books that day. I did not even read this one first. I read some pretty bad stuff before I chose to read this one. I did not have high hopes that evening.

uk-finished-night-circusThe story is about two wizards/ mages/ sorcerers (whatever you choose to call them. I am going to call them sorcerers; it has a slightly dark connotation to me.) They have been at odds for eons. Yes, their battle has been going on for a very long time, and the author does a great job at hinting at how long. They are fighting over who’s magic methods are the best.

I never really thought that the archaic “stand and fight” method was very magic user like. Magic duals should be sneaky, thought provoking affairs. I like when Merlin gave Mad Madame Mim a flu, instead of changing into larger and larger animals. These are the tactics our sorcerers use, sneaky and thoughtful, not stand and shoot, reload, repeat.

Our story involves two young people, one male and one female. A sorcerer adopts one each and trains them in their particular flavor of magic. One uses something similar to incantations and the other uses mental visualization and will power. The kids are trained apart and when they reach the right age the venue for the battle is set.

A traveling circus that is only open at night.

Once the main characters find out what is going on, they believe the battle is to see who can have the most spectators in their attractions. They put all their efforts into out doing each other’s shows, while trying to start a personal relationship (they are not supposed to, but are drawn together.) Too late they discover that they real victor will be the last one living. Survival of the fittest is the sorcerer’s idea of proving which type of magic is strongest.

The cast of supporting characters is great. Each is well rounded with strengths and weaknesses that drive the story and cause unexpected changes. In the end these characters are able to help the main characters “cheat” the sorcerers out of their expected outcome. It is done in a fantastic manner, all sneaky and thoughtful like.

This book is truly a work of art. The characters are well developed. Ms. Morgenstern uses her words to create vivid scenes. I swear I was watching a movie as I was reading this. Something that is not usual for me.

This is totally worth reading, several times. I think I will start tonight.

Side note: I do not know is she is related to S. Morgenstern (Princess Bride author) but they have the same last name and I thought it was kind of neat. Princess Bride is also an awesome book.

Book Review: Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

windup girlI have been thinking about this book for a while.  With the fate of our tasty banana’s and people wondering who/what Texamati is.  The only reason I know anything about these things is this book.  There is truth in fiction!

When I bought this book, I was not sure how I was going to like it.  It seemed really detailed and I was worried that it would take a long time to read and understand.  It was not so.

This book is so interesting!  I caught two main stories right away, one was the fighting between the company-nations and the other was the plight of the protagonist.  There are more things going on, but you will have to read it and see what you pick up.

First story:

The food conglomerates of the world have caused a global catastrophe.  Due to their increasing destructive corporate espionage tactics, the worlds food supply has been corrupted.  The counties as we know them have crumbled and what is left is corporation-nations.  The corporations being the ones that can supply the food and the nations are the governments that help support them.  One of the spies is trying to find another companies secrets and stumbles into our protagonists story line.

This bit is really neat.  Instead of money we use calories to pay for jobs.  Office jobs cost fewer calories and are paid in fewer foods where as physical jobs cost more calories and are paid in more foods.  Calories are king and if you want more food you have to find a way to get it.

Second story:

A mechanical girl, designed for a Japanese business man, is abandoned in Thailand.  She ends up performing in a dive to a boss who exposes her weaknesses to the patrons on a daily basis.  She is not really what we consider an android, or electronic consciousness, but she is living entity.  I considered her more like a steampunk bio-mechanical creation, that is conscious.  She is a living being.  Her dream is to escape and live a life of her own, not one that she was created for or forced into.  She crosses paths with the spy and things get interesting.

I like this book for many reasons. First is that it does have truth involved.  You learn quite about about socioeconomic issues that are relevant today. It is also a viable way for the future to happen.  Secondly, it is realistic.  People are being used and using others.  Some things work well and others fail.  Thirdly, there are things in the story that do not impact the overall path of the story, but it is there to add depth and help you understand the characters motivation.  Things that help move the story are sometimes hidden in these “needless” bits of fluff.

This is definitely one to read a few times.  I am going to re-read it once I find it in my boxes of books that I have yet to put on a shelf.

Book Review: Thirteen Reaons Why by Jay Asher

Another slow week.  I have not worked on my painting nor have I had a clear headed moment to work on any web design/development.  Life is busy and yet routine all at once. The best thing to do is read a book.

Another reason for another book review is that I LOVE reading.  I read like some people eat, breath and sleep; it is a part of my natural functions.  I read to know what the author knows, to get inside someone else’s head and understand things from a new point of view, to experience things that I will not get to experience.  I do not read just to escape, or gain knowledge, or any of the other classic reasons to read.  I want to see and understand more about everything.  Which is why there will be a wide range of books that I might review.  I take suggestions!

ImageI found out about Thirteen Reasons Why off a list of suggested books to “change the way you think.”  I had read several of the books listed and they were okay, so I read the summaries and picked a few that I might want to read.  I found Thirteen Reasons Why quickly on my e-reader and here we are.

This is a story with a serious mood.  It is busy, past paced and chock full of emotion.  It has a unique view of how suicide effects people.  Not just the victim, but the lives of the friends, family, and people the victim may not even realize are impacted.

Jay Asher does an amazing job of setting up the story and has a unique way to present the information to us, the readers.  The suicide has already occurred and we relive the deceased’s life through a classmate via some recorded cassette tapes (and a map.)  We read as the classmate listens to why someone felt that their life was not worth the effort anymore.  We are taken through a chain of events that, while small in the eyes of others, lead to a tragic death, and a bit of blackmail

While I may not have benefited from this book growing up, I know that many would have.  I want to say this is a book for teens and their parents / teachers.  It is not.  It is all to easy to substitute a school environment for a work environment, and a teen for a 30 something with a new job, new city, new life.  We could all be the victim or someone trying to be a friend who gets left behind.

I am not going to give away any more than that, not that the story would suffer if you knew more.  I just want you to read the book and have a reasonably untainted experience.

I have so much more to say about this book.  I would rather you read it and let me know what you think.  Maybe you will agree this should be something that all citizens of planet Earth should read.  Maybe it will help you, or someone close, through a difficult situation.  That is what kind of book this is.

Book Review: The City and the City by China Miéville

This book was crazy.  I got ten pages into it and had to go and do some research so I could see if I was understanding the premise.

I was not.

My initial understanding was that there were two cities, each on different planes of existence, a multi-verse theory or something similar.  These cities just happen to be kind of merged together and you could see into one from the other.  Seeing across into the other plane was not allowed and you could be arrested or “disappeared” for doing so.

Boy was I wrong, as continued reading showed.

The City and the City

The various covers for China Mieville’s The City and the City

This is a murder mystery story with some really weird quirks.  The murder is discovered in Beszel, a city of muted tones (lots of brown) and is not exactly economically stable. Beszel shares its ‘space’ with the city of Ul Qouma, a city of vibrant colors and is on the up economically.  Now you might think that the two cities are side by side like a city that was founded before a country was established and now exists in two different countries (examples here.) They are not! The two cities share the same land, same streets and even the same buildings.  Some of the areas are “total,” being all the way in one of the two cities, some areas are “crosshatch,” meaning that parts of the street are in Beszel and others are in Ul Qouma.

The investigation is hampered by the city politics.  The lead detective does not want to deal with it and tries to get the investigation taken over by their verson of international police called “Breach.”  Breach take advantage of the mental conditioning that is at work in the cities.  Since it is against the law for a citizen of Beszel to “see” across the boarder into Ul Qouma (and vice versa) the cities needed an entity to enforce things that tend to cross the boarders.  Traffic accidents,  tourists and vandalism. for example. could all happen in one city and effect the other.

Said politics keeps the case in Beszel hands and our hero must cross boarders and work with a detective from Ul Qouma.  To be able to enter Ul Qouma our hero must undergo psychological conditioning in order to change the conditioning he has as a citizen of Beszel.  We all have times when we choose not to “see” things.  Ugly buildings, the homeless, people in distress or people arguing in the street.  In the cities the citizens are trained not to “see” the other city.  To move to the other city you must alter your perceptions. “Seeing” the city you are not in is against the law and Breach will be called in to deal with you.

In the end the killer is found and punished.  Our hero is not able to return to his way of life in Beszel.  To much has happened to him and his point of view will never be the same.  He joins Breach as a detective and helps keep the piece between the two cities.

This is a gross over simplification of the story.  There was so much going on.  Conspiracies, counter conspiracies, international politics, missing people, more murder, archeology and two very crazy city layouts.

It is really a great story and I recommend this for anyone who wants a book that has lots of energy.

Book Review! The Fault of Our Stars ~John Green

I just finished reading The Fault of Our Stars by John Green, off the recommendation of kraves88 (in 5.5 hours since you will ask.)  A very thought provoking book to say the least.  I am up at one am because it has spawned many thoughts and brought up some memories as well. I did not post this at one am because my computer restarted.  I now have time to edit this post. Woo..

fault of our stars_coverThis book may have had more of an impact on me if I had not already discovered the heart wrenching books created for the Make a Wish Foundation in my early teens.  Then the Humane Society put out a series of truly depressing books about rescue pets.  I also made the mistake of purchasing some books via a mail-in book club thing that our school was doing.  This got me the book Ghost Girl by Torey Hayden.  The story is about a young girl that was being molested by her family.  Truly shocking for a girl who just entered junior high school and thought she was getting a horror story (I was really into Steven King and Dean Koontz at the time.)

Back to John Green.  Mr. Green has written several books and has a thriving YouTube Channel.  I did not even realize that he wrote this until my spouse pointed it out.  Mr. Green is very charismatic on YouTube and he writes well.  I was able to visualize much of the story and characters.

Without giving out to many spoilers, the book is about a teenage girl named Hazel that has terminal cancer.  She meets a boy and stuff happens.  Earlier today I likened the story to Romeo and Juliette only with cancer instead of poison.  I stick by my assessment.  Mr. Green does well with his words, I had a hard time putting the book down (hence the fast read.)  I only cried in two spots. Dinner in Amsterdam was just so beautiful, and the pre-funeral was brilliant.

In the end I was left with a churning mind and an after taste of sad.  One thing really I liked about the storyis that it was not as selfish as the Make A Wish books.  Humans are selfish beings, but Mr. Green manages to make Hazel, Gus and Isaac seem much less selfish than any of the protagonists in the Make A Wish books.  Those teens seemed to use their wishes on more selfish things (I would too though.)  I have a feeling that the writers may just not have used the right words or my limited understanding made it seem that way.  Alas, that is what I think.

Again, I would not recommend this book if you read for enjoyment.  The book is sad.TheDispossesed Cover

Kraves88 I have read the book.  Reviewed the book and I feel that I got a short straw on it.  I hope that you enjoy Ursula Le Guin‘s The Dispossesed.  I would recommend anything by Ms. LeGuin any day to anyone.  She has something for just about everyone.