Book Review: The Planet Thieves

Book Title: The Planet Thieves
Author: Dan Krokos
Book Format: Paperback
Published: May 21, 2013
Pages: 254

This was surprisingly a very solid Sci-Fi middle grade level book from author Dan Krokos. I’ll be honest, the cover actually had me a bit concerned I wouldn’t like the book. Good thing I didn’t let my judgement of the cover keep me from actually reading the book. I won an Advance Readers Copy of this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway, so perhaps that was another reason why I actually read the book. It could have also been because the book was so short. No matter what the reason, I’m very glad I read the book and am hoping Krokos follows this one up with a sequel.

The story starts with a young thirteen year old cadet named Mason Stark. Mason’s ill timed practical joke on his older sister sparks a series of events that winds up putting the young boy in the captains seat of the Egypt spaceship fighting earths arch enemy the Tremist.

Humans and Tremist have been fighting for centuries, and that centuries old battle has become Mason’s responsibility to broker a deal with the Tremist to save Earth, the Tremist planet of Skars, and Nori-Blue, the planet both want and are willing to do anything to get.

There is an unexpected twist, of course, that takes the story in a completely different direction. I don’t intend on spoiling the story, so I’ll stop this portion right here. My recommendation is that you read the book yourself. This is apparently Krokos’ first attempt at a middle grade level science fiction story and I thought it was very good. I’ve not read any of his other work, but I felt the story was put forth in such a fluent way that you really feel the story could be real, even though it’s always a little hard to get past the idea of a 13 year old kid becoming captain of a star ship.I look forward to a hopeful sequel to this story. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to others.


Book Review: The Obsidian Mirror

Book Title: The Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika #1)
Author: Catherine Fisher
Book Format: Paperback
Published: April 23rd, 2013
Pages: 384

Yet again, another book I won via the First Reads giveaways at I was excited about this book as it was touted to be written by a master of fantasy/science fiction.

The story follows a young boy named Jake whose father has gone missing while jake is away at boarding school. Jake believes his Godfather, Oberon Venn, murdered his father. Jake gets himself expelled so he can go live with his Godfather to find out what happened to his father.

This begins a quest filled with time travel, supernatural beings (The Shee), Replicants, and other strange characters. I admit, I was confused for about half the book trying to keep all the different characters straight. More confusing yet was the idea of having time travel and the supernatural beings. It felt as though Fisher was trying her hardest to weave a complicated web, but for me, it felt forced.

I was also not a fan of the style Fisher chose to tell the story in. Jumping back and forth between characters to tell parts of the story that were happening simultaneously got confusing. Just as we started getting into a particular characters story, we jumped to another section. I felt those sections could have been slightly longer and then there wouldn’t have been an issue. I felt the book needed to take some Ritalin to keep itself focused.

The sad part was the story itself was a great concept. A mirror that can transport people back in time is always a good starting point. The addition of the Shee (some supernatural creatures) along with some lady called Summer who is also a Shee I believe, and then some kid named Gideon who was just a regular kid that is now a prisoner of the Shee seemed out of place. That brings me to my final critique. The book was clearly written to build a series. I don’t feel it was done well enough to warrant a series. The story deserves it, but not the way it was written. I got the impression that book one wasn’t really the focus for Fisher, that book one was really just a way to drum up interest for book two and maybe three. I don’t really care for it when a book is so obviously written to be a series.

To conclude, I felt the overall idea was great, but the execution was a little supercilious. As for reading the next book in the series, I guess Fisher did her job as I do want to know what happens next and I want to know more about these Shee characters along with Summer, but if I continue having the same feelings in book two, I will not likely continue the series.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars still because the story was interesting and still warrants a positive rating for that.

Book Review: The Singular Six

Book Title: The Singular Six (The Chronicles of Eridia)
Author: J.S. Volpe
Book Format: Paperback
Pages: 318

I won this book via the First Reads giveaways and was cautiously excited to begin reading The Singular Six. I wasn’t planning on making this one my next read, but having had to return my copy of Inheritance to the library before finishing, I needed something while I waited, and this was the first book I grabbed.

Get Ready For Crazy

J.S. Volpe has begun The Chronicles of Eridia series in a very intriguing way. We are introduced to three of the six main characters right away as they battle a band of criminals in a post cataclysmic world. We quickly discover that one of the main characters is Frankensteins monster in the flesh (or someones flesh I guess). One of the young ladies with him is taken by the gang. This begins the quest to rescue not only the young lady who was with Frankenstein but to also save all of the kidnapped women from the town of Sweetwater.

This is where the weird really gets started. The group of three becomes four, one of which is a super hero. Then, they meet two more to make it six. Without getting into too many details, there is a giant talking jaguar, rabid childrens toys, a three headed serpent, and a crazy teenage queen among other strange characters.

I was captivated from the beginning. I think it was primarily because of the insanely odd characters, but more so the story and world that Volpe was drawing before me. The characters are slowly realizing along with the reader how all of these strange characters have come about and what this cataclysmic event may have been. I’m excited to read the next chapter of this series. I hope it continues being ridiculously absurd and enjoyable.

In terms of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy story, I felt it was great, because it was so different, but also because it was a very fluid story. It was a quick read, and it always felt natural. The only critique I have, was more of an observation. I noticed that as the book matured towards the end, the profane language increased. Granted, there was more action, and that may be the reason. I didn’t find it distracting or detracting, but I simply noticed the amount wasn’t consistent throughout the book.

I highly recommend this book to all Sci-Fi/Fantasy lovers. This book will not disappoint, and is looking to continue entertaining throughout the series. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: At the Mouth of the River of Bees | Dia Chjerman’s Tale

16060188[1]Book Title: At the Mouth of the River of Bees | Dia Chjerman’s Tale
Author: Kij Johnson
Book Format: Adobe ePub
Pages: 33

This is the next short story in the series of short stories in this book. Click Here to see the first review and a link list of the other stories I’ve reviewed in this book.

Dia Chjerman’s Tale

I enjoyed this story. It was a quick and interesting story about a young girl who is passing on her grandmother from 27 generations ago story of their planets history and how they came to live on the “Ship”.

There was action, suspense, and great character development in such a short story. My favorite genre is Science Fiction/Fantasy and I felt this story could easily become a novel, or even a series. The idea of a planetary system in which there are possibly millions of planets all governed by a distant planet in which communications and interactions can take years to occur is truly fascinating. I was left wishing there was more.

I won’t get further into detail as I don’t want to divulge too much of the story, but I would highly recommend those who do and those who do not enjoy Sci-Fi read this story.

Book Review: Brisingr

Book Title: Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle)
Author: Christopher Paolini
Book Format: Kindle eBook
Pages: 748

My initial response after finishing this book was that it was Epic. I’m not saying it was the best book I’ve ever read, but there was so much that occurred in this book that one could only categorize it as epic.

I quickly realized as I read this story that I would need to take some notes if I was to be able to review this story adequately. My memory is pretty good, but there were certain pieces to the story I wanted to ensure I remembered and I knew I wouldn’t remember if I relied upon myself.

The beginning of the story jumped right into an immense battle of extreme importance. Watch for the death of a key character by an unexpected set of villains during The Battle of the Burning Plains. This battle begins much of the remainder of the story. Many other authors might have simply saved this battle for near the end of their story and focused much of their attention on building towards it. I liked the confidence Paolini had in his story to throw such a great battle near the beginning.

Shortly after the Battle of the Burning Plains we jump right into Roran and his attempt to rescue his true love Katrina from the Ra’zac. This, along with The Battle of the Burning Plains was so enthralling and came so quickly in the book. It was refreshing to have so much action so quickly.

After this, I noted that the book started to droll on a bit. One can’t expect to be on the edge of their seat forever I guess. It took until about page 300 to get back into some real action which by this time was much appreciated. The other thing that bugged me was the the seemingly new style of narrative from the Saphira. Paolini had her speaking in very choppy hyphenated speak which was truly odd. I don’t remember it being in the first two books this style of speech that the dragon takes on. To me, it was distracting and there wasn’t any real explanation as to why she had begun speaking like this.

I enjoyed the moment Eragon is tasked with replacing Zar’roc for reasons you will find out in The Battle of the Burning Plains section of the book. He is forced to choose a dwarf made sword which of course doesn’t suit him very well. Eragon must alter the way he fights because of the lower quality weapon.

The portion of the story I was most impressed with, however, was when Eragon receives his own sword, made for him. This, in my opinion, was fantasy writing at its absolute best. Paolini wove a beautiful story that recounts the actual forging of the sword along with the most unique method for performing the feat which in my opinion will go down as the most creative piece of fantasy story telling I’ve experienced thus far. It is truly difficult in this saturated Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre to come up with something truly unique and I feel Paolini did so magnificently with this portion of the story.

I’m still debating if I would consider this the best of the 3 of the Eragon books I’ve read thus far. It is definitely very close to the best. Even the lull in action was more than forgivable and some of which was explained later in the story to give reason to the need for the details. I would highly recommend reading this book (read the first 2 before of course).

Book Review: At the Mouth of the River of Bees | Names for Water

16060188[1]Book Title: At the Mouth of the River of Bees | Names for Water
Author: Kij Johnson
Book Format: Adobe ePub
Pages: 274

This is the 3rd short story in the series of short stories in this book. Click Here to see the first review and a link list of the other stories I’ve reviewed in this book.

Names for Water

When I finished this story, I literally had chills that went up and down my spine. Not because it was a creepy story, but it truly moved me. It was a very mysterious and captivating story.

This is the a story of a moment in a young woman’s life. A seemingly meaningless phone call that eventually turns out to be a foreshadowing of the future of her life and the world as well. Hala, the girl, is late for class but takes a phone call on her cell from an unknown caller. For such a short story, there was just so much there. I couldn’t wait to find out who called, what it meant, and how was Hala going to respond.

If you get this book and only read one of the short stories inside, read this one. I’m surprised just how much I liked it.

Book Review: At the Mouth of the River of Bees | Fox Magic

16060188[1]Book Title: At the Mouth of the River of Bees | Fox Magic
Author: Kij Johnson
Book Format: Adobe ePub
Pages: 274

This is the next short story in the series of short stories in this book. Click Here to see the first review and a link list of the other stories I’ve reviewed in this book.

Fox Magic

I’m going to come right out and say that this story was weird. No, it was beyond weird for me, it was bizarre. I fear I missed the symbolism or creativity Kij Johnson was looking for. It was simply too strange for my liking.

The story follows a female fox who has fallen in love with a man. We follow this fox as she and her family create fox magic to make her appear as a woman to this man. She eventually marries this man and has a child with him all to have the man eventually be taken away from her.

This was a very difficult story to read. I wasn’t able to get past the fact that Johnson is essentially writing about animals tricking humans into falling in love and mating. Considering how good the first story was in this collection of short stories, I’m hoping this was just a fluke. Not a good story in my opinion at all.

Book Review: At the Mouth of the River of Bees | 26 Monkeys

Book Title: At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories
Author: Kij Johnson
Book Format: Adobe ePub
Pages: 274

This is a collection of short stories by author Kij Johson. I had heard nothing about this author nor any of her stories. Honestly, I’m not even sure what peaked my interest enough to throw this book into my queue at the library. My review will actually include a separate review for each short story noted below beginning with “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” in this post. I wanted to ensure I reviewed each short story on it’s own so as I have spare time I will read each so it may take me a while to get through them all.

  • 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss
  • Fox Magic
  • Names for Water
  • The Bitey Cat
  • The Horse Raiders
  • Dia Chjerman’s Tale
  • My Wife Reincarnated as a Solitaire
  • Schrodinger’s Cathouse
  • Chenting, in the Land of the Dead
  • The Empress Jingu Fishes
  • At the Mouth of the River of Bees
  • Story Kit
  • Wolf Trapping
  • Ponies
  • The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles
  • Spar
  • The Man Who Bridged the Mist
  • The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of

26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss

The story begins with the main character Aimee attending the strangest show. 26 monkeys go up a ladder and into a bath tub suspended in the air and then, the tub releases on one side to reveal there are no monkeys in the tub.

After the show Aimee approaches the man who owns the show and the 26 monkeys and she winds up buying the show for a dollar.

This is where the story truly began for me as Aimee tries to grasp the purpose of this show, where the monkeys go, and more importantly why the monkeys come back. Every time they come back, the monkeys show up with trinkets and other oddities they picked up from the mysterious places they go. We are informed quickly that the trick of the disappearing monkeys is not an illusion or special effect and that Aimee has no control over what happens.

I too was intrigued by the story, though I did start out a little perplexed of where the story was going and what the point was. This turned quickly into a clear story that I couldn’t wait to finish.

The end of the story brought a smile, and left me wanting more, which is one way I use to determine if a story was well thought out. The only qualm I had was the boyfriend. Not enough is known about him, though I doubt he is important to the story other than giving more information as to Aimee’s lack of direction in life. I could have done without him, but he was very brief in the story, just seemed out of place.

I am looking forward to reading the remaining short stories in this book as this one definitely provided a great deal of entertainment and mystery.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger GamesBook Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Book Format: Google Play eBook
Pages: 1,000

I was hoping to read this book before I saw the movie, but unfortunately I was patron 84 when I reserved my eBook copy from the local library. I don’t typically buy books I’m not sure I’ll read again, so I put off reading this until I saw the movie. My wife and I saw the movie in the theatre and we both were quite impressed, so I bit the bullet a couple months ago and bought the trilogy from the Google Play store. I was reading a couple other books at the time so had to wait until now to start reading it. Here is my review of the first installment of the trilogy.

From the moment I started this book, I was captivated. Perhaps some of it was due to having watched the movie, though I doubt it. The book is considerably different in story telling style from the movie as it is written in the first person by Katniss. The point of view the book is written leaves out a lot of the other details the movie fills in, which I’m sure was necessary. The story is very easy to read and kept my attention the entire time. I even found myself getting anxious near the end, even though I already knew the outcome. I thoroughly enjoyed the dystopian world Collins creates and through a societal uprising and subsequent control and Hunger Games forced upon civilization by the “Capital.” My preference is typically dark and this story does not disappoint. There is an obvious similarity to “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and I’m sure other books that venture into the world of humans hunting humans. This story certainly captures the personal anguish and internal battle between living and killing another human.

In terms of entertainment value, “The Hunger Games” gets a 10 out of 10. For those that prefer lots of detail, this might not be as fulfilling an adventure for you. This is a young adult/Teen book, so that must be taken into consideration. Overall, I was impressed and am certainly looking forward to starting the second installment of the trilogy “Catching Fire.”

For those who enjoy a quick, and entertaining story, “The Hunger Games” is a definite must read. I am glad that I chose to buy the trilogy as I will certainly read this book and I’m sure the next two books several times, which is not very common for me.