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Monday, June 30, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ringworld - Larry Niven

In the outskirts of space exists a strange world in the shape of a ring. Nessus, a member of the puppeteer race, has been trusted with the mission of investigating this new world as a possible living space of his species. He recruits Louie Wu, your average human of about 200 years old, and Speaker-to-Animals, a ferocious Kzin with orange fur and an appetite for raw meat. Along the way they recruit yet another member who is meant to bring them good luck.

Unfortunately, the expedition goes horribly awry when they crash land on the ring planet they merely meant to observe. With limited supplies, a hostile environment, and primitive locals, they must somehow find a way to get their ship back into space so they can get home and report their findings.

While reading this novel, I was often struck by how dated it is. The attitude toward sex is purposely meant to be progressive, but it's a bit over the top. While it does become a plot point later in the book, the only female character's naivety grows irritating quickly. Another turn-off to me was the wordiness the author often used. He would explain things in far more detail than was necessary for the reader to know for the purposes of storytelling.

I did enjoy the clash between cultures as Louie, Nessus, and Speaker-to-Animals went about their mission. The cultural misunderstandings when they land on the Ringworld is also interesting in places.

Overall, it was an okay read, but not something I'd recommend or read again.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dreaming the Soul Back Home - Robert Moss

In cultures who practice shamanism, many have a belief in soul loss. When faced with a traumatic incident, such as abuse, a piece of the soul pulls free and becomes lost in the spirit world. Moss has experienced this loss, has witnessed it in others, and he wants to help those all over the world to become complete persons again.

With the examples of workshops with people from all over the world, the reader is immersed in the versatility of healing that can be provided for an individual or even a group of people though dream work. By reentering dreams and misplaced memories, Moss brings pieces of the lost child back to the dreamer and often heals others during the process through shared experience. Spirit guides who help him come in the forms of the person's ancestors, angels, or animals. Even after the soul returns a person must keep that part of the soul connected by engaging in desirable activities, like eating old favorite foods or enjoying an old time activity.

Whether the reader is simply curious about shamanic techniques of healing or desires to heal their own wounds or the wound of others, this will be a helpful guide. This book contains only a few meditations and exercises, but provides ample examples for the reader to draw from. Moss's personable tone and easy expression makes this an accessible read even to those who are unfamiliar with shamanic techniques. Moss also provides a bibliography in the end for readers who may want to read more in-depth about the subject. Those who are familiar with this topic will still find this a worthwhile read due to the many real life examples of soul retrieval.

More from this Author:
The Secret History of Dreaming

Recommended Reads:
Dictionary of Dreams - Gustavus Hindman Miller
Soul Retrieval - Sandra Ingerman

Friday, June 20, 2014

Maleficent - Elizabeth Rudnick

Long ago in a fairy land there was born a fairy child whose parents died in an attempt to forge a truce between the humans and their kind. Despite the watchful eye of her caretakers, she still manages to get entangled with human kind and, just like her parents before her, she is betrayed.

She bides her time until she finds the perfect moment for revenge by placing a curse on the king's daughter. The king sends his daughter off in hopes of keeping her from Maleficent and her evil ways. Unfortunately for the king, Maleficent is a skilled enchantress who is determined to see her curse through.

But the longer she spends watching the child, the more her feelings change. Is Aurora doomed to a life of eternal sleep or will "true love" set her free?

This retelling of the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty is enchanting. I was immersed in Maleficent's thoughts and found myself empathizing with her throughout the novel as I related it to pieces of my own life. Readers will not be disappointed as they learn about the other side of this beloved fairy tale.

Recommended Reading:
The Curse of Maleficent - Elizabeth Rudnick
Keeping a Princess Heart: In a Not-So-Fairy-Tale World - Nicole Johnson

Source Material:
Briar Rose - Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Disney's Maleficent

Monday, June 16, 2014

King of Sword and Sky - C. L. Wilson

Ellysetta had been living among humans for years, until the day her true mate Rain, the Fae King found her. After repeated tragedy, she is thankful to have finally reached the border of the Fading Lands, the Fae world, where she will finally be recognized as a queen.

Unfortunately, she comes into her new home to find a plethora of problems awaiting. Internal turmoil fills the soldiers from too many years of battle, the high council is in conflict, and the Tairen Kitlings are dying in their shells. Elly is determined to fix all of these problems with her new found powers, but at what cost to her, her true mate, and the kingdom?

This third installment continues the intense and conflicted relationship between the two lovers, both of whom are equally stubborn when it comes to doing what they feel necessary. As the enemy acts bolder, their disagreements only become more passionate. While their arguments become repetitive and irritating, Elly's evolution into a strong and confident healer is inspiring. One of the big things that bothered me while reading were the constant cliche similes the author liked to use. While I didn't like this one as much as I liked the first two, I will probably finish out the series.

Readers should be forewarned of torture scenes and battle scenes.

Books in the series:
Lord of the Fading Lands
Lady of Light and Shadow

Recommended Reads:
Warprize - Elizabeth Vaughan

Friday, June 13, 2014

Interlude - backposting

Back posting to Friday to apologize for my absence. I had some crazy bad luck recently that's prevented me from posting, but a new review will be up on Monday.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Being a young woman working your own repair shop in New Beijing is difficult. It's even worse when all of your money is going to your horrible stepmother, who won't even give you the money to buy a new cyborg foot when you've grown out of the one you have.

When Cinder comes home to find her two step-sisters being fitted for gowns for the ball, she is unsurprised to find her stepmother hasn't arranged for the dressmaker to fit her for a dress. In fact, Cinder is so used to her stepmothers attitude that she's even less surprised when she's informed of the long list of chores she has to finish before she'll be allowed to even consider going to the ball.

But Cinder has more important things to deal with than worrying about preparing for the ball. She needs to fix the Prince's robot, which will soon lead her down a road of adventure, terror, and ultimately to the discovery of her origins.

This futuristic retelling of Cinderella is something much different than any I have read before. Cinder is a capable mechanic with a tempered attitude due to years of mistreatment. Her prowess with the screwdriver and with her mind is a refreshing change from the usual damsel in distress. Meyer's world is filled with both science and magic, making it an fascinating world of possibilities. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series, inspired by age old fairy tales.

Books in the Series:

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Curse of Maleficent - Elizabeth Rudnick

Maleficent's parents died in the process of trying to make a truce between the humans and fairies. The orphaned fairy is only doomed to repeat her parents fate of betrayal when she falls in love with a young human boy.

When the boy who betrayed her becomes king and has his first child, she decides to destroy his life in the same way he did hers. She curses the child to fall into a deep sleep by her sixteenth birthday that can only be broken by true love's kiss.

To save his child from the curse, the king sends his daughter away to live with three inept fairies, who do their best to raise her. Aurora wanders the forest and befriends the animals, but she is haunted by a strange shadow. When the shadow finally reveals itself, she assumes it must be her fairy godmother. Is this creature really her fairy godmother? Will she escape her fate of eternal sleep? And who is true love?

This version is told in an alternating third person from the point of view of the good characters. While it was mostly well-written, many of the events were told in a detached narrative, making it difficult to get into the story. The illustrations are vibrant and expressive; however, the illustrations were not always placed with the pages they coincided with.

This tale tells of betrayal, revenge, love, and redemption. Many of us have been hurt in a way we feel we may never recover from, just like Maleficent. But maybe, just like this fallen fairy, we can find the strength and inspiration to become whole again.

Recommended Reading:
Maleficent - Elizabeth Rudnick
Keeping a Princess Heart: In a Not-So-Fairy-Tale World - Nicole Johnson

Source Material:
Briar Rose - Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Disney's Maleficent

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Minority Report and Other Stories - Philip K. Dick

This collection of short stories contains dystopia, mystery, and adventure all in a sci-fi setting.

While in the process of attempting to keep the unit in business, precrime Police Commissioner John A. Anderton suddenly finds himself the suspect of a predicted murder. The majority report given by the "precogs" indicate he will murder a man he hasn't even met. Now branded as an outlaw, he's on the run and determined to prove his innocence by finding The Minority Report. Being caught promises a lifetime of prison, while proving his innocence may cost him his livelihood.

In We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, REKAL promises Douglas Quail they will implant an incredibly detailed memory of his trip to Mars for a hefty fee. Fed up with his boring life, he decides to go through with it. When something goes wrong with the procedure, however, he finds himself in real danger. Perhaps more disturbing is what he finally does remember.

Jennings joins "Rethrick Construction" for a two year contract with the stipulation that his memory will be erased at the end of the term. When he goes to collect his Paycheck he finds another strange clause: Instead of accepting money, he can choose a small envelope of seemingly random objects he personally chose. Armed with the objects in the envelope, Jennings is determined to discover the secret he left behind.

The earth is in ruins after so many nuclear attacks between the west and Russia. After sending "the claws" against the Soviet Union, there is suddenly a call from the enemy for a temporary truce. The claws are not only replicating, but they are also creating new versions. Although they've been able to identify 1V, 3V, and 4V, it's still a mystery what the Second Variety looks like. And it may be the downfall of all of humanity.

In The Eyes Have It, a man suddenly realizes he's surrounded by aliens while in the midst of reading a paperback book. They can remove their limbs and use them while separate. The Eyes Have It

I enjoyed all five of these short stories for their charm and suspense. In each story I was immersed in a foreign world not too far removed from my own, which made them all the more disturbing.

Recommended Reads:
And Some Were Human - Lester Del Rey