Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan

The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time, #4) The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The good: The story is building and getting deeper. It is easy to get drawn into the story and I am looking forward to more.

The bad: It is starting to get pretty spread out. Rather than one story line, this book carries three different story line, and in any other world would be 3 separate books. It is just plain hard to keep it all straight, and I know it will get worse.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time, #3) The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I made it through the 3rd book, which is an accomplishment. For anyone who decides to read this series, let me just give you a hint on keeping up with the story/characters: it is all about speed. This plot gets deep really quick and then keeps going. You have to dedicate the time to it so that you can read it quickly, which at times seems to be real-time (it takes as long to read the scene as would to act it out.)

Aside from that, this is another excellent installment in this classic epic fantasy. As Rand meets the Aiel, it is almost like there was a planned plot that got rail-roaded by a completely separate series. Two completely different cultures collide, and it will be fun to see them continue to interact in later books.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time, #2) The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So now that the series is under way, I am really enjoying re-reading these books. It is interesting though, that about half of the events I remember from my first reading (over 10 years ago) have already happened. That either speaks to how great these first two books are, or how bad the next 6 are... I'm going to stick with the first two being awesome.I like gradual building that is happening through out the series. You can see that events are tied together, and it makes the anticipation of the resolution that much greater. I also like that the "final battle" of the book doesn't go on and on. A couple of pages does the trick if you ask me.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1) The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This series was one of my favorites, but I set it aside for the last 10 years, hoping for it to come to a conclusion. Well we are still a few years away from the final book, but I thought I would start it again anyway. It really is an epic story, with all of the depth that goes with a world-building fantasy plot. I know that the series has trouble in the middle, and I am already dreading some of those parts, but for today, this book is just what I remembered it being. Immersive and addictive.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

A quick note...

I just wanted to highlight something amazing. 7 of the 14 books I have read this year were read on my Tmobile G1 cell phone. I never thought that reading on a cell phone would work. Screen size, formatting, availability, etc. But in the end this has become an awesome way to go! I have been limited in what books are available, and that has obviously affected my reading choices, but I have been traveling a lot this year for work and my phone has been a lifesaver.

I just wanted to share that tidbit. Carry on...

The Magic of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Magic of Oz (Oz, Book 13) The Magic of Oz by L. Frank Baum

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Ok, so I wouldn't have read this book except it was on my phone. It wasn't bad for what it was, but I'm the first to admit that my main reason for reading Oz books is nostalgia. The stories are mediocre for this century. Still, not bad for what it was.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4) Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

So this was the best book in the series. I had to give it four stars, just like a famous actor with a huge career, but no awards, has to get that life-time award to validate all those years of effort. The sum is greater than the parts. And so it is here. This series definitely pulled me in and took me on the ride. It made me angry when the characters were stupid, it made me laugh when the characters were happy, and I was intrigued by the setting and plot combinations that kept coming up. In the end, Bella's skills tied back to scenes in the first book, and I like that. It just pulls the whole thing together.

Weaknesses? Yes. For the first few chapters I was worried that Bella was going to get crazy with Jacob again. Then I didn't really want to read 15 chapters (or whatever) about a strange pregnancy. And Reneesme is the dumbest name I have ever heard, and I have read a lot of fantasy books, which means that the list of dumb names I have heard is pretty long. I will say that I like how Meyers tied up the issue with Jacob. It is just a complete ending to the Jacob/Edward thing--I can't believe that some people think that a Jacob storyline would have worked after reading this one.

Back to weaknesses, probably my least favorite thing about the book is the ending. It is way too abrupt, and there are still lots of questions in my mind. I say throw in an Epilogue that jumps ahead 10 or 15 years, and show us Reneesme grown up and really accepted by the Volturi. Show us that the Volturi aren't planning to descend on the Cullens in the future for revenge for losing face. Lets see Charlie in a decade and prove that he isn't going to end up in a mental hospital, or bitten by a relative. I'm not asking much. I just want to know how the story ends.

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Eclipse by Stephanie Meyers

Eclipse (Twilight, #3) Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
So this one just made me angry. Why? Let me expound:

1. Bella is an idiot. She knows that she has to end up with Edward, but can't stand up to Jacob and deliver the bad news. Come on.
2. The book was actually going great. Better than New Moon at least. New details about the vampire world, old enemies coming back as new threats, even the romance stuff seemed a little better done. We were solidly in the 3 star range, maybe even something better if the fight at the end was going to be good. And then she jumped on Jacob. How stupid was that? Lost two stars from that in my book. We only barely made it back to two stars because of an awesome missile in the form of a vampire's arm in the final battle. (Trying not to create a spoiler) That was a great touch.

Can't they just fight vampires? Do they have to cheat on true soul-mates every other chapter too? I mean come on. Get real.

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New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

New Moon (Twilight, #2) New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
New Moon barely scrapes by in the 3 stars category, and most of that because of the last few chapters where things get dicey with the Volturi. Why am I being so hard on this one? Simply put: I don't believe it.

I don't believe that Bella or Edward would have acted the way they did in this book. The characterization I praised in the last book was insulted by almost every action taken by those two in this book.

I know I have to back that up, so here are my examples:
1. Bella from book 1 would never have gone dare-devil. She was fainting at the thought of blood in the first book, and now she is out being crazy. And I don't buy the idea that the emotional distress made her change that fast. That is the kind of change we want to see in a character as they grow, but if you look at who Bella really was I think that this is a 180 degree change.

2. Edward is unbelievable. Maybe his character is a little more consistent, but I can't fathom his logic in leaving. I know it works on paper, but when the actors get off of the page to make it happen, it just seems totally wrong. Love someone so much you let them go? That is a story for young kids and wildlife (Old Yeller, Charlottes Web, Gentle Ben, Black Beauty, Fox in the Hound, etc.) Here we have two people so besotted with each other that they are in pain just being apart for a few hours. They spend days and nights together. I don't see either of them overcoming that emotional tie and walking away. Yeah, I know that apparently Edward is that guy, but I don't buy it. So the whole premise of the book is crazy.

So maybe my logic isn't rock solid, but I have at least much ground to stand on as New Moon did. Oh, and I might as well give my opinion on Jacob. Not that it matters. I feel for the guy. He is hosed. However, given the situation, nothing he does will help the rest of the saga. Besides saving Bella over and over, of course. Nothing good comes from infidelity, and I hate to say it, but that is what Bella did. Either she should have shelved Edward for good before getting involved, or she should have kept her distance. This being involved with two people at once is cheating. Literally.

So much for being brief. Also, so much for being objective. This book had its pros and cons, but as you can see, I'm knee-deep in the plot, so until we get this story straightened out, the other issues go on the back burner.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Twilight by Stephanie Myer

Twilight (Twilight, #1) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I originally put Twilight on my list to appease my wife, who is an avid Stephanie Myer fan. She drove 10 hrs just to see her after Twilight came out. Anyway, after several years of suggestions, prodding and occasional threats she finally found a way to get me into it. She knows that if I get into a book I am lost until it is over, so she just had to set the hook. What did she do? She read them aloud to me. Did it work? Yes it did.

So my thoughts:

My reasons for NOT reading these were well-founded. About 2/3 of this book could be cut out and summed up in one sentence. They love each other. Easy. Now I know that those many pages of saying the same thing in multiple ways appeals to much of her audience, but I was bored by it. What can I do?

Enough of the cons, now for the pros.
This is a bestseller for good reason. Myer's characterization is awesome, which I am guessing is typical of the romance genre, something I have no experience in. And the creative approach to mythic creatures really pulled me in, as I found completely new ways to think about old ideas.

While this book just can't compete with my fantasy favorites, I can say that I enjoyed it, and am thoroughly sucked into the plot, however sentimental it may be. I will be reading the whole series in short order, so check back in a day or two for my next review.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shards of a Broken Crown by Raymond E. Feist

Shards of a Broken Crown (The Serpentwar Saga, #4) Shards of a Broken Crown by Raymond E. Feist

For some reason it took me forever to get to this book. I will be honest: this wasn't the best book in the series. It served its necessary function of wrapping up the series, and had a lot of good aspects as it successfully developed many different characters, some old, some new. My main criticism is the ending. I don't want to write a spoiler here, but lets just say that the ending was a huge let down. Did the good guys win? Of course. It is just how it came about that is disappointing. After Feists past successes, this was just mediocre in my eyes.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-four (Penguin Modern Classics) Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Somehow I missed whatever high school English class required this book, and since it was available on my phone, I began reading it. Wow. It was more intense than I suspected. I think what makes this book a classic, and what will keep it in classrooms for years to come, is that it inevitably prompts a discussion as to what your thoughts, beliefs and political views are.

So why only give it 3 stars? Yes, it starts a discussion, but as with so many things in life, that valuable discussion is left free to wander aimlessly without purpose. Our country could use some original politcal thought right now, not more random, aimless rhetoric by those hungry for more power. This book ultimately fails because it leads to discussion, yes, but resolution, no.

In the end the characters are defeated, their humanity stripped from them; they are, in a word, helpless. And yet this book leaves us in that same state. Angry, maybe. Talking, most likely. Empowered, or at least prone to some sort of action? No.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad, Poor Dad Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a MUST READ. It is simply written from one man's experience, but just like you can constantly learn new things about an old friend year after year, revisiting this book will continue to teach you from his experiences time after time. If you haven't read this, GET IT NOW. IF you have read it, move on to the next book, Cashflow Quadrant. If you ever want to play Cashflow, email me, and I am there.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

To Green Angel Tower, Part 2 by Tad Williams

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Vol 3: To Green Angel Tower, Part 1 (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Book 3) Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Vol 3: To Green Angel Tower, Part 1 by Tad Williams

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
So I wrapped up this series. Finally. Not that it took an inordinate amount of time, but I just had to rush to the end. Unlike some other series I've read lately, I think that the last book is by far the best. Everything that has built up over the last three books winds tighter and tighter until it comes together in a great finale. I am glad I went back to this series, and have planned a few more re-reads because of it.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

To Green Angel Tower, Part 1 by Tad Williams

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Vol 3: To Green Angel Tower, Part 1 (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Book 3) Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Vol 3: To Green Angel Tower, Part 1 by Tad Williams

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Since this is only part 1 of the last book, I am diving right into the last installment. I'll let you know when I come up for air.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Vol 2: Stone of Farewell Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Vol 2: Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is part of a great series that I am happily revisting after many years. It was one of those books that years after I read it, I could remember bits and pieces of the story, but didn't remember which book they came from. Reading it again I am running into those bits and pieces that are fondly familiary. It is like running into a friend that you haven't seen in years, and you instantly rediscover all of your common interests, so you walk away wondering why you didn't keep in touch.

Unfortunately, I did notice that this book seems to get bogged down at times. To put it simply, Williams sometimes takes 10 words/paragraphs/pages to accomplish what could have been done in 2 words/paragraphs/pages. Still, it is just below the four-star level, and I am looking forward to the book 3... ok, book 3, volume 1. (Williams went yard with the third book.)

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

2008 Booklist

Back To Lists

And here is my list for 2008. I actually made time to jot down some notes on each of them. I made a goal to read 52 books (150 pg+/ea) and I made it. By one book. Not bad considering everything else I had to do that year.

#BookAuthorDate Completed
53SabrielGarth Nix30 December
52Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the BoxArbinger Institute18 December
51Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and LifeMike Krzyzewski and Donald T. Phillips18 November
50The Tale of DespereauxKate DiCamillo17 November
49Ralph S. MouseBeverly Cleary15 November
48StorytellerEdward Myers31 October
47Beezus and RamonaBeverly Cleary29 October
46The Candy Shop WarBrandon Mull26 October
45Home on the Prairie: Stories from Lake WobegonGarrison Keillor23 October
44Superior SaturdayGarth Nix18 October
43Birnbaum's Walt Disney World For Kids By KidsWendy Lefkon15 October
42I Am America (And So Can You!)Stephen Colbert13 October
41Rage of a Demon KingRaymond E. Feist6 October
40Mrs. Piggle-WiggleBetty MacDonald27 September
39Rise of a Merchant PrinceRaymond E. Feist25 September
38Lady FridayGarth Nix12 September
37Shadow of a Dark Queen Raymond E. Feist5 September
36Should I Do What I Love?: Or Do What I Do - So I Can Do What I Love on the Side? Katy McColl26 August
35Sir ThursdayGarth Nix23 August
34Drowned WednesdayGarth Nix21 August
33Grim TuesdayGarth Nix17 August
32Half MagicEdward Eager5 August
31Mister MondayGarth Nix2 August
30Prince of the BloodRaymond E. Feist27 July
29The King's BuccaneerRaymond E. Feist11 July
28The Book of LiesJames Moloney2 July
27Fablehaven: The Grip of the Shadow PlagueBrandon Mull27 June
26A Darkness at SethanonRaymond E. Feist21 June
25The StarstoneGrace Chetwin5 June
24Gregor and the Code of ClawSuzanne Collins31 May
23Jason's Seven Magical Night RidesGrace Chetwin28 May
22SilverthornRaymond E. Feist26 May
21The Crystal StairGrace Chetwin7 May
20The Riddle and the RuneGrace Chetwin5 May
19Magician: MasterRaymond E. Feist30 April
18Magician: ApprenticeRaymond E. Feist26 April
17Charlie Bone and The BeastJenny Nimmo20 April
16The Great BrainJohn D. Fitzgerald9 April
15Gom on Windy MountainGrace Chetwin2 April
14Charlie Bone and the Hidden KingJenny Nimmo28 March
13Charlie Bone and the Castle of MirrorsJenny Nimmo26 March
12How to Make Big Money In Your Own Small BusinessJeffrey J. Fox24 March
11Charlie Bone and the Invisible BoyJenny Nimmo21 March
10Charlie Bone and the Time TwisterJenny Nimmo20 March
9The HobbitJ.R.R. Tolkien17 March
8Midnight for Charlie BoneJenny Nimmo9 March
7The Bartimaeus Trilogy Bk 3: Ptolemy's GateJonathan Stroud1 March
6The Goal: A Process of Ongoing ImprovementEliyahu M. Goldratt19 February
5The Bartimaeus Trilogy Bk 2: The Golem's EyeJonathan Stroud6 February
4The Bartimaeus Trilogy Bk 1: The Amulet of SamarkandJonathan Stroud25 January
3Gregor and the Marks of SecretSuzanne Collins20 January
2Gregor and the Curse of the WarmbloodsSuzanne Collins18 January
1Gregor and the Prophecy of BaneSuzanne Collins13 January

2007 Booklist

Back To Lists

Several years ago I started making a list of all of the books I read, and it turned out to be something I have really enjoyed. I wanted to re-post my older lists because they were scattered, and for me at least, are fun to look back at. These are the books I read in 2007.

#BookAuthorDate Completed
1MagykAngie SageJanuary
2FlyteAngie SageJanuary
3Wizards First RuleTerry GoodkindJanuary
4Sometimes the Magic WorksTerry BrooksFebruary
5The Miserable MillLemony SnicketFebruary
6The Austere AcademyLemony SnicketFebruary
7The Stone of TearsTerry GoodkindMarch
8The Indian in the CupboardLynne Reid BanksMarch
9The Ersatz ElevatorLemony SnicketMarch
10The Blood of the FoldTerry GoodkindApril
11The Temple of the WindsTerry GoodkindApril
12The Vile VillageLemony SnicketApril
13The Hostile HospitalLemony SnicketMay
14The Carnivorous CarnivalLemony SnicketMay
15Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneJK RowlingMay
16Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsJK RowlingJune
17Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanJK RowlingJune
18The Slippery SlopeLemony SnicketJune
19The Grim GrottoLemony SnicketJune
20Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireJK RowlingJuly
21Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixJK RowlingJuly
22Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded PrinceJK RowlingJuly
23Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsJK Rowling22 July
24FablehavenBrandon MullJuly
25Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening StarBrandon MullJuly
26The Penultimate PerilLemony SnicketJuly
27The EndLemony Snicket20 July
28The Book of Story BeginningsKristin Kladstrup2 August
29Artemis FowlEoin Colfer28 August
30Artemis Fowl: The Arctic IncidentEoin Colfer31 August
31The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the DeepwoodsPaul Stewart and Chris Riddell15 September
32Artemis Fowl: The Eternity CodeEoin Colfer30 September
33The One Minute ManagerKenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson30 November
34Gregor the OverlanderSuzanne Collins15 December
35How to Be a Great BossJeffrey J. Fox17 December

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Completed: 12/30/08
Rating: 4.2

So I have had a lot going on and finally decided to throw responsibility out the window during the Christmas vacation and read a book for fun. And of all the books I could have read, I was lucky to pick up Sabriel. And how did I pick this one? Well, for one I have enjoyed the Keys to the Kingdom series also written by Nix, so I was looking for some of his other work. Second, I wanted something different, but solidly in the fantasy genre.

This book had me from chapter one. Even though it has magic in it, the context is narrowed from the classic good vs. evil to living vs. non-living. The action is intense, and not once did I feel like the story had slowed. The characters seemed apropriate for the story although there are one or two passages that classify this one for the 16-and-up crowd. I give this a high rating and look forward to the next installment of the trilogy. It only lost points for not being a little longer. And I am probably punishing it a bit for things I have read about the next book--it supposedly jumps the series forward in time and gives us new characters. I'm NOT done with the current characters yet. If this isn't the case I will come back and edit this post and raise the rating:)