Archive for category Four of 5 *

Carousel Tides – Sharon Lee

Enjoyed my visit to Archer Beach.

Stars: Four out of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
Summary: Kate Archer left home years ago, swearing that she would die before she returned to Maine. As plans go, it was a pretty good one — simple and straightforward.
Not quite fast enough, though.
Before she can quite manage the dying part, Kate gets notice that her grandmother is missing, leaving the carousel that is the family business untended.
And in Archers Beach, that means ‘way more trouble than just a foreclosure.. 
(quoted from publisher site)
Provenance: purchased from baen after enjoying free sample chapters.

Good book, go read it.  I would love to read more by this author and especially in this world with these characters.

Very good evocation of small resort-town Maine, and the difficulties of an unwanted family heritage. I would love to read the backstory of Kate’s life as a programmer… was magic at all a part of her life ‘out there’?

Oh yes, and one more thing. I found this cover off-putting: owned the book for a year before reading it. The cover you see here looks very… hmm… wispy-ethereal-gothic – and I don’t like all that swooning.  But in fact the book is quite gritty and down-to-earth. So, don’t pre-judge the book by this cover. 🙂

Linkage, some Spoilage below

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WWW: Wake – Robert J. Sawyer

Wake - Robert J. SawyerBut can they make a TV show?

Stars: Three and three quarters out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.  Summary: Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind.When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation.But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it’s getting smarter …(quoted from the author’s website) Provenance: Borrowed from the local library in e-book form.

Fun, fast read. I was reminded of Brin’s Earth, and of the birth of the Countermeasure at the beginning of Vinge’s A Fire upon the Deep.

I think my kids will really enjoy this.  Over the years, I have read so many ‘rise of an AI’ books that it was immediately clear what was going on.  So, in reading it, I had to look for the divergences from what I exactly expected.

The only microscopic hold-back from four stars is the occasional nagging feeling that … if only the writing were more lyrical, the result could be awesome.  Don’t get me wrong – I blitzed through this with a lot of enjoyment. I am just not sure that there’s meat on the plot-skeleton to make a second meal of it.

 Linkage Stuff and a few Quibbles below

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Dragon Haven – Robin Hobb

Draco ex machina.

Stars: Four out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.
Summary: In this sequel to Dragon Keeper:
For years now the dragons have been trapped on a swampy riverbank between forest and river, hungry and barely alive, reliant on humans to provide for them.

With their survival at stake, fifteen dragons—among them the wise golden Mercor, the haughty and dazzling silver-blue queen Sintara, and the delicate copper beauty Relpda—have set off on a dangerous trek into the unknown, up the Rain Wild River, in hopes of rediscovering the ancient Elderling city of Kelsingra, the lost haven for dragons and Elderlings alike. The dragons are accompanied by a disparate group of human keepers, rejects from Rain Wild society. They, too, yearn to find Kelsingra and create a home of their own, one in which they may make their own rules and decide their own fate. But is Kelsingra real or merely a fragment of a glorified past buried deep in the dragons’ shared memories? No map exists to guide them, and the noble creatures find their ancient recollections of little use in a land changed by generations of flooding and seismic chaos.

As the dragons, the humans—including the strong and defiant Rain Wild girl Thymara; the wealthy dragon scholar and Trader’s wife, Alise; and her companion, the urbane Sedric—and their magical supply barge, captained by the gruff Leftrin, forge their way ever deeper into uncharted wilderness, human and beast alike discover they are changing in mysterious and dangerous ways. While the bonds between them solidify, starvation, flashfloods, and predators will imperil them all. But dragons and humans soon learn that the most savage threats come from within their own company . . . and not all of them may survive.

(quoted from goodreads)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

Dragon Haven – delivers on the promise laid out in the first volume of the Rain Wilds Chronicles, Dragon Keeper. Four stars. Yay.Robin Hobb:  Finally. A Robin Hobb book I can enjoy, without missing out on backstory from ‘part one’.

I am writing up this review many months later than my reading… so this is a short one. Yes, that’s all. Onwards with the links!

Linkage, Spoilage, and many Quibbles below

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The Truth of Valor – Tanya Huff

Slogged through the mud to victory.

Stars: Four out of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Summary: Former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is attempting to build a new life with salvage operator Craig Ryder on his ship, the Promise. Turns out civilian life is a lot rougher than she’d imagined-salvage operators are losing both cargo and lives to pirates. And when they attack the Promise, Craig is taken prisoner and Torin is left for dead.When Torin finds out why the pirates needed Craig, she calls in the Marines to get him back – and to stop the pirates from changing the balance of power in known space. (from the publisher via bookdaze)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

I had a difficult three-score pages getting started with The Truth of Valor. I climbed out of this ‘mud’ when in chapter three (page 59 my book) Torin and Craig spar (verbally) over whether they should take up a fight against apparent pirates who’ve killed an ex-Marine.

Up till then, though, I was starting to worry whether Torin had jumped the shark at the end of Valor’s Trial. Was the ‘War was a Sham’ finale of the previous book going to leave her purposeless? If so, I didn’t want to see the ugly result.  But… Who knows, maybe this was deliberate meta-suspense on Huff’s part! Mean of her, if so. I was starting to worry maybe this wasn’t going to work out!

In the course of writing this review, I’ve decided that this book actually describes Torin turning an important corner in her life, now that the big war has been revealed to be a fake. She’s going to have a new mission in future books (see my liked list below if you don’t mind spoilers).

Recommended especially to Torin fans. Remember, Torin is like Heris Serrano in her purple uniform!

Linkage, Spoilage, and minor Quibbles below

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