Dec. 9th, 2010 10:42 am
fiveforsilver: (Books)
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
122. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 1
Adult, Science Fiction, 313 pages

123. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 2
Adult, Science Fiction, 317 pages

124. The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 3
Adult, Science Fiction, 316 pages

125. Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 4
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 336 pages

125 / 160 books (78%)
59 / 80 *new books (74%)
3 / 7 ^non-fiction (43%)
33684 / 48000 pages. (70%)
Audiobooks: 54h19m


Apr. 30th, 2010 02:14 pm
fiveforsilver: (Doctor Who [sonic screwdriver])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
56. Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 4
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 336 page

Zoe's Tale is another fantastic book in the Old Man's War universe. Zoe is the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan, and this book is a retelling of the timeline of The Last Colony from Zoe's perspective. Because she's a teenager, she isn't privy to everything the adults know and do - and, likewise, they don't know everything that happens to her - so Zoe's experience of that time is quite different from her parents'.

Scalzi writes the Old Man's War books so that each of them is a stand-alone as well as part of a cohesive story, and Zoe's Tale is no exception. And although I found it shelved in the adult science fiction section of the bookstore, this was intended to, and in my opinion does, bridge the divide between adult and YA. It is also hysterically funny throughout much of the book. Scalzi wrote Zoe as a brilliant, sarcastic, irreverent character who talks back to adults (human and alien alike) and uses her wits to save the day, yet still manages to act and sound like an believable teenager.

57. Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper series, book 1
Young Adult, fantasy, 563 pages

Terrier is a fun, fast-paced story about Beka Cooper, a former street urchin who is training for Dog (police) work.

The book is set up as Beka's diary or journal but reads like a first-person novel, and as with many of Pierce's heroines, Beka has special features and abilities which help her on her chosen path. It's an enjoyable book, though not without flaws, and a good set-up for the sequel Bloodhound, which is an excellent book.

58. *Doctor Who: The Story of Martha by Dan Abnett, read by Freema Agyeman
Adult/Young Adult, Science Fiction, Audiobook, 2h27m

It's an account of Martha's travels during the Year That Wasn't, while the Master and the Toclafane ruled the Earth.

Since we already know how it's going to end, it could have been extremely boring and drab, and the first half wasn't particularly exciting. But it picked up in the second half and not only becomes a pretty exciting story but also explains several things that were mentioned in the episode Last of the Time Lords.

59. Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper series, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 538 pages

(Copied from previous review)

As much as Kel (Protector of the Small) is still my favorite Pierce heroine, it is my opinion that Bloodhound is the best book so far in the Tortall series, if not the best Pierce has ever written. I wasn't overly thrilled with the first book in the series, Terrier, but this book more than made up for it. Bloodhound is well-written and the characters are believable and interesting. The plot strong and intriguing, magic is used occasionally and not as a constant crutch, and Pierce is not afraid to put characters in real, even deadly danger as fits the plot and setting.

I do have two minor technical issues with the book. The first is that, as with Terrier, Bloodhound was supposedly written as a "journal", but, again like Terrier, it reads like a first-person novel. I've read journal-style books that are good reads but also are believably journals, and this is not believably a journal. However, it doesn't detract much from the book and is amusing at times.

The second issue is that it's never explained how the coles (counterfeit coins) are being made. One can't simply melt silver and pour it over brass disks to coat them. And what kind of 'silver paint' would match so perfectly with real silver as to fool suspicious people? But as I said, this is a technical issue and it wouldn't have come up if I hadn't studied metalworking, or if I hadn't been so impressed with how she'd dealt with metalworking in the Circle series.

But those are small issues, and those two small issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes a fun fantasy read with a bit of crime drama mixed in (although you should probably read Terrier first as there are some things that will be pretty confusing otherwise).

59 / 160 books. 37% done!

27 / 80 *new books. 34% done!

3 / 7 ^non-fiction. 43% done!

16495 / 48000 pages. 34% done!
Audiobooks: 23h46m


Apr. 30th, 2010 10:00 am
fiveforsilver: (Text [So Much Wasted])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
51. *Wizards, Inc edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Loren L. Coleman
Adult, Fantasy, short stories, 306 pages

Most of the stories in this book are so-so but a few - including Theobrama by Diane Duane and No Rest for the Wicked by Mike Stackpole - are very good.

52. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 265 pages

(Copied from previous review)

A fascinating book about a girl who was in an accident and remembers very little about it or her existence before. She spends the book re-learning how to use her body, regaining old memories, discovering new things she doesn't know why she remembers at all, and learning things about herself that don't seem quite right.

This book has been compared to Skinned by Robin Wasserman and that is not an unjust comparison, but the two books are different enough that each can be judged on its own merit. In Skinned, Lia is in an accident and is uploaded into a biomechanical body that does not look like her. In this book, Jenna still looks and sounds like herself and some of her body is still her original. Both books are filled with questions about trust and friendship and family and humanity. They also look at a parent's relationship with their children, what they're willing to do - and how far they should or shouldn't go - to save their child's life.

Second time through this book and it was excellent, just like the first time.

53. Briar's Book by Tamora Pierce
Circle of Magic series, book 4
Young Adult, fantasy, 258 pages

The Circle books aren't really my favorite but I still like to reread them occasionally. In Briar's Book, a mysterious plague is infecting the city where Briar and his teacher Rosethorn are working and they must work to contain and cure it.

Briar's Book is not one of the better in the series. It drags with too much description of magical medical practices and the story just isn't all that interesting.

54. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 1
Adult, Science Fiction, 313 pages

The first book in a series. It's set in a future time, and all elderly people on Earth are given the option of joining the CDF (Colonial Defense Forces) when they turn 75. If you do it, you are taken off Earth and - on Earth, at least - declared legally dead. Nobody on Earth knows exactly what happens next...except that they somehow make you young again, to fight in the war.

I love this book and, in fact, the whole series. Scalzi's writing is energetic and always readable; the story is fast-paced and fun with believable, relateable characters; and he delights in inventing truly alien aliens for CDF to fight against.

55. The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 3
Adult, Science Fiction, 316 pages

Third book in the Old Man's War series. John and Jane are chosen to head up a colony on a new planet. Except things don't go exactly as expected and along with the normal hazards of colonizing a new planet (unfriendly lifeforms, inedible vegetation, etc), they suddenly discover that they've been made pawns in an intergalactic war.

Excellent as usual from Scalzi.

55 / 160 books. 34% done!

26 / 80 *new books. 33% done!

3 / 7 ^non-fiction. 43% done!

15058 / 48000 pages. 31% done!
Audiobooks: 21h19m


Feb. 15th, 2010 09:39 am
fiveforsilver: (Cats [We're watching you!])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
20. The Cat Who Played Post Office by Lillian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who, book 6
Adult, Mystery, 262 pages

21. *Angelmass by Timothy Zahn
Adult, Science Fiction, 531 pages

I've been told that Zahn's regular science fiction books are better than his Star Wars books, but I didn't think this was. I would have preferred more focus on fewer characters, maybe a few less random plot devices, and the twist at the end to make more sense or be more meaningful.

22. *The God Engines by John Scalzi
Adult, Fantasy, 136 pages

It's hard to say anything about this book without revealing the whole story. It's a kind of fantasy/science fiction mix. There is space travel using captured gods to power the ships and prayer and rituals have tangible effects, but things may not be quite as they seem.

This was an interesting book and well-written as always, but definitely not one my favorites Scalzi books.

23. The Cat Who Blew The Whistle by Lillian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who, book 17
Adult, Mystery, 311 pages

In some of the later books, things just start getting kind of ridiculous, and this is one of those. Everything seems rushed, there is so much going on that seems important but only happens in the background, and the characters - the reason I enjoy reading this series - take a back seat to moving the plot (such as it is) along. Not one of her best.

24. *Judge Sn Goes Golfing by John Scalzi
Android's Dream series, book 2 (chapbook)
Adult, Science Fiction, 32 pages

Short story. Judge Sn golfing and gets interrupted by people trying to assassinate him (repeatedly). Hilarious.

24 / 160 books. 15% done!

10 / 80 *new books. 13% done!

0 / 7 ^non-fiction. 0% done!

6278 / 48000 pages. 13% done!
Audiobooks: 9h03m


Feb. 2nd, 2010 11:27 am
fiveforsilver: (Xmen [Angel])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
11.The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi (audio) (1h18m)
Old Man's War series, set between The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony
Adult, Science Fiction

12. *Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Young Adult, Fantasy, 352 pages

Finally, a book about faeries that has traditional faeries and an interesting story! Most books I've read with faeries either had Traditional Faeries And A Boring Standard Fantasy Story or new agey punk-type faeries, which are sometimes fun and sometimes not, but nowhere near traditional.

Great writing, great characters, great story.

13. Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce
The Circle Opens, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 355 pages

As with most of the Circle books, there are so many plots and sub-plots going on that it's difficult for any of them to get the depth they deserve. In this book, Daja and her teacher Frostpine are visiting a city to the north. Daja discovers the daughters of their hosts have magical abilities, so they need to be taught, so she needs to find teachers for them and teach them meditation. There are lots of fires going on in the city and Daja starts developing a friendship with a man named Ben who set up a fire brigade, and she decides to make living metal gloves for him so he can be more effective in rescuing people. The aforementioned daughters are teaching her to ice skate. Frostpine is investigating counterfeit coins.

And so on.

Most of the plots overlap or converge at some point, but still it just seems like the book is too short to hold it all. Also, there is a mystery that the reader learns the answer to early in the book and the characters don't discover until near the end. I found that disconcerting and I would have preferred it handled differently.

For all its flaws, it's not a bad book, just one I think could have been better. I enjoy it nonetheless; Daja is one of my favorite Circle characters - maybe I relate to her because of the metalsmithing - and also the Circle characters have a little less of a tendency toward Mary Sueishness than the Tortall women.

13 / 160 books. 8% done!

3 / 80 *new books. 4% done!

0 / 7 ^non-fiction. 0% done!

3236 / 48000 pages. 7% done!
Audiobooks: 9h03m


Dec. 21st, 2009 12:12 pm
fiveforsilver: (YW [Did I do right?])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
151. Sorcery and Cecelia, or the enchanted chocolate pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevemer
YA, historical fantasy, 326 pages

152. *Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones
Young Adult, fantasy, 393 pages

I thought I read this once before (and really, really liked it) but I remembered almost nothing about it. I liked it this time, but I think I'll need to read it another time or two before I really get what was going on.

153. Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Young Adult, fantasy, 534 pages
Tortall (Beka Cooper)

154. *The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevemer
Young Adult, historical fantasy, 326 pages
sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia

155. Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Young Adult, fantasy, 563 pages
Tortall (Beka Cooper)

156. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
Adult, Science Fiction (humorous), 365 pages

157. The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce
Young Adult, fantasy, 539 pages

157 / 157 books. 100% done!

80 / 80 *new books. 100% done!

5 / 10 ^non-fiction. 50% done!

46429 / 45000 pages. 103% done!


Dec. 21st, 2009 12:04 pm
fiveforsilver: (Firefly [stick])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
146. *Fire by Kristin Cashore
Young Adult, Fantasy, 461 pages
Companion to Graceling

Fire is a monster - an unnaturally beautiful creature who can control the minds of people and animals around her. Fire is also human. As a human monster, she is mistrusted, hated, feared, and desired. Her father was a monster and also a moster, cruel, controlling, and indiscriminate in the use of his abilities, but Fire was raised with human morals.

It's not easy to describe this book, because the story is less about people running around doing things then about the various characters learning about each other and themselves. And yet the story moves quickly and there is certainly action, since Fire's country is at war. Fire is a wonderful book.

147. *Makers by Cory Doctorow
Adult, Science Fiction, 416 pages

I liked the idea of this book and I would have enjoyed the main story and the geekery of it, but there is an odd obsession with weight and obesity starting on the first page that I found very off-putting. I suppose the idea is not inappropriate in a "near-future fable", given current political and social views, but the way it's handled made me cringe. Frequently. Fat people are (ironically) 2-dimensional characters, called "the obese" or, later "the fatkins", no matter who's talking. Doctorow assumes that all fat people want the same thing (to be thin) and will do any idiotic, untested thing to get it. And to assume that being thin will make people happy is just plain stupid. But of course they get what they deserve in the end, right?

I think I would have liked this book without that (unnecessary and cringe-inducing) subplot but it was so annoying and distracting that it overwhelmed many of the good aspects. I won't be reading it again and I don't recommend it.

148. *Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson
YA/Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories, 297 pages

Of the five stories in this anthology, I quite liked Phoenix by Peter Dickinson, absolutely loved Hellhound and First Flight by Robin McKinley, and didn't particularly care for Fireworm or Salamander Man by Peter Dickinson.

149. The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
Adult, Science Fiction (humorous), 396 pages

150. *The poison eaters & other stories by Holly Black
YA, Fantasy, short stories, 158 pages
Early Reviewer

It was like reading a book of fables, but I couldn't work out what the morals were supposed to be (which may be a plus, actually). There was a real mixture of stores I liked and stories I didn't care for but regardless, it was a fun little book and a quick read.

150 / 150 books. 100% done!

78 / 75 *new books. 104% done!

5 / 10 ^non-fiction. 50% done!

43383 / 45000 pages. 96% done!


Nov. 5th, 2009 12:45 am
fiveforsilver: (Text [the muttering retreats])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver

136. The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Adult, Science Fiction, 320p

137. Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 416p

138. *Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Young Adult, Fiction, 371p

Micah lies almost constantly, to almost everyone. This is her attempt to tell her story without lying.

In many ways, this book was exactly what I was expecting. In other ways, it wasn't what I was expecting at all, and I feel struck by a sort of mental whiplash caused by trying to figure out and keep track of what was true and what wasn't.

It is skillfully written and utterly fascinating.

138 / 159 books. 87% done!

73 / 75 *new books. 97% done!

5 / 10 ^non-fiction. 50% done!

39580 / 45000 pages. 88% done!

Audiobooks: 26h30m


Nov. 5th, 2009 12:40 am
fiveforsilver: (Holiday [Halloween cat])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver

131. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Adult, Fantasy, 405p

I was so tired from the job I had last month (among other things) that it actually took me about three weeks to read Sunshine. Usually it takes me about two days.

Still one of my absolute favorite books.

132. The Magician's Ward by Patricia Wrede
Young Adult, Historical Fantasy, 288p

133. A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
Adult, Fantasy, 280p

134. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Adult, Science Fiction, 311p

135. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
Adult, Science Fiction. 343p

135 / 150 books. 90% done!

72 / 75 *new books. 96% done!

5 / 10 ^non-fiction. 50% done!

38473 / 45000 pages. 85% done!

Audiobooks: 26h30m


Jul. 31st, 2009 07:54 pm
fiveforsilver: (Doctor Who [Tardis])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
101. The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi (audiobook) (1:18) A/SF

This is out of order; I listened to this back when I was rereading all the Old Man's War books.

This is a lovely and moving book; it makes me smile, it makes me laugh, sometimes it even makes me cry. The insight into the mind of Jane Sagan, and into the lives of the members of the Ghost Brigades, is really amazing.

102. *Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint (414) YA/Fan

This is an anthology of what seem to be urban fairy tales. Some of them are similar to well-known stories (for instance, there is one based on The Little Mermaid) but most are not based on any story I've heard before. All the stories take place in Newford and there are character overlaps between many of the stories. I definitely enjoyed it and de Lint's writing was strong as ever, but I'm not sure I'll read it again any time soon.

103. *Doctor Who: Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell, read by Bernard Cribbins (audiobook) (2:34) A/SF

103 / 150 books. 69% done!

54 / 75 *new books. 72% done!

3 / 10 ^non-fiction. 30% done!

30141 / 45000 pages. 67% done!
Audiobooks: 16h54m


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