Now on to my reading update
I've finished 3 books since my last reading update.
"The Peace and War Omnibus is a science fiction series that contains three books, The Forever War (1974), Forever Peace (1997) and Forever Free (1999) by Joe Haldeman. The Forever War and Forever Peace are basically sequels and Forever Free is described as 'a kind of sequel, though, examining some of The Forever War's problems from an angle that didn't exist twenty years ago (when The Forever War came out)."
The first two books follow the same main character, William Mandela, a space soldier who spends the first book, training in space and then fighting an unknown alien race, the Taurons. Throughout this book, he travels back to Earth, arriving hundreds of years in the future and discovering the great changes that took place while he was gone. He goes back to war a few times, regularly with the woman who will become his wife, trying to deal with life as a soldier and with a changing earth's values and lives. It's an interesting story, interesting concepts on living and fighting in space. (It's kind of a Battle Cry or Vietnam War, but set in space. (3.5 stars)
The second book, Forever Free, finds Mandela and his wife. Marygay, and children, now living on the planet Middlefinger, peopled with many other veterans, people of the new human species, 'Man' (basically a combined mind) and Taurons. They chose to live on Middlefinger (MF) because life on Earth was now too strange. However they now feel a desire to leave MF, by traveling in space, out 20 years (their time, but many years more in MF time) and returning to see what changes the future has wrought. Problems happen, forcing them to return to MF, and discovering a fantastic disaster has occurred. They then head to Earth. The story becomes an interesting discussion about whether there is a God, and if so, trying to answer the question, why is he treating us in such a shitty manner. (3.5 stars)
Forever Peace is set on Earth. The Alliance (the US and 'allies') are at war with enemies in Central, South America and Africa. They fight with 'soldier boys' an interesting concept, basically machine robots controlled by soldiers who 'jack' into the machines and fight while remaining in cells back at home base. Julian, a 'soldier boy mechanic' also teaches physics at university in Dallas. A series of events turn his life and those of his friends head over heels. They work on the Jupiter Project, an attempt to create a super collider on Jupiter's moons so they can test their theories on the Big Bang Theory. As they discover the dangers that might result from this test, they must begin a race against time, both to stop the wars on Earth and also the Jupiter Project itself, while being chased and threatened by enemies on Earth, a fanatic religious organization, The Hand of God. (4 stars)
All three stories are quite interesting. The concepts explored make you think. While the stories move slowly at times, as you get into them, they draw you in and hold your interest. Definitely worth the effort to keep with the books. I think that Forever Peace was my favorite, especially the last half (tense and action-filled) and it could safely be read on its own. The other stories should be read together; the second, Forever Peace is the best of the two but the first provides great background leading into it. Glad I tried them. (4 stars)"
"Who Killed Marilyn Monroe? by Liz Evans, the first book in the PI Grace Smith series, was an entertaining, fun surprise. I was somewhat mislead by the title, of course, it had nothing to do with Marilyn Monroe. Grace Smith is a struggling PI working for Vetch Associates, somewhere on the coast of England (struggling because she never seems to have any money and seems to get the odd ball cases).
Marilyn Monroe is a donkey, belonging to December Drysdale, who runs them down to the beach for tourists to take pictures of and to ride them. Unfortunately, Marilyn has been murdered and Drysdale doesn't think the police will take the death seriously enough. Grace 'Smithie' is assigned the case and thus begins an interesting, odd case which might also involve the murder of one of Drysdale's neighbors, a young woman, who was also murdered the same evening.
While it seems an unlikely story, but Evans puts it together nicely, making for an interesting, even fascinating story. She develops her characters with loving care and you find yourself drawn into them and the story. As Liz Lemon would say, "I want to go to there" and meet Grace and the other people in her community; from bar owner and aging rocker, Shane (who feeds Grace for free and entertains with loud rock music), her co-worker, Annie (sarcastic and a tolerant, helpful friend); the residents of the old age home, even Drysdale's donkeys. You find yourself loving these characters.
Evans weaves a fun story, somewhere between Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone mysteries. Grace Smith is at times hapless, but always determined. She's scruffy, sexy and lovable. I've already ordered the next book, JFK Is Missing!. If you like a cozy, but action-filled, at times humorous mystery, try Liz Evans (4.5 stars)"
"The Great Spy Race by Adam Diment is the 2nd of four books that feature Philip McAlpine, reluctant spy for the English. Set in the psychedelic '60s, the book is a bit sexy and filled with action, especially the last chapters.
The book reminds me of the 1967 Casino Royale, which starred David Niven, and was filled with spies in a spyish frolic, and also Mike Myers, Austin Powers. Not that the book is a comedy, but it has a similar tone, providing a picture of the time; drugs, sex, fancy clothes.
The premise of the story is that a rich, ex-spy offers intelligence that all countries might want and they have to provide spies to take part in a race, using the old-fashioned spy techniques. McAlpine is black-mailed by his boss to take part and begins a journey from London to St Tropez to Geneva and ending at an island resort in the Indian Ocean called Mali. McAlpine must use tried and true techniques like blackmail, forgery and sex to get information to continue his journey and to beat the other spies to the end. Accompanied for part of the journey with the sexy Josephine, it's a fast paced adventure. Don't expect a classic of the spy genre, rather more of a cult spy story which is entertaining and action-packed. (3.5 stars)"
To replace the three above, I've started the following books.
"The Ottoman Empire is plagued by thefts of antiquities from mosques and churches that, within days, appear for sale in Europe. Among them is a reliquary, presumed lost for four hundred years and around which an elaborate and mysterious sect has grown.
In Istanbul, magistrate Kamil Pasha is under pressure to break the smuggling ring amid rising tensions between Christians and Muslims. He confronts a mysterious adversary who will stop at nothing to get the reliquary first. With the Balkans aflame and Kamil’s personal life in upheaval, the search into the old neighborhoods where Istanbul’s crime rings reside may cost Kamil not only his position but also his life."
2. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I'm reading this as part of my Decade's Challenge. It was originally published in 1908.
"Hailed as one of the most enduringly popular works of the twentieth century, The Wind in the Willows is a classic of magical fancy and enchanting wit. Penned in lyrical prose, the adventures and misadventures of the book’s intrepid quartet of heroes - Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and, of course, the incorrigible Toad - raise fantasy to the level of myth. Reflecting the freshness of childhood wonder, the story still offers adults endless sophistication, substance, and depth. The animals’ world embodies the author’s wry, whimsical, and unfailingly inventive imagination. It is a world that succeeding generations of both adult and young readers have found irresistible. But why say more? To use the words of the estimable Mr. Toad himself: 'Travel, change, interest, excitement!...Come inside.'"
My Author's A - Z
|Orson Scott Card|
a. Ender's Game (#1) (1985).
"Andrew "Ender" Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.
But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender's two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military's purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine's abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails."
b. Speaker for the Dead (#2) (1986).
"In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told of the true story of the Bugger War.
Now long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery…and the truth."
c. Children of the Mind (#4) (1996).
"The planet Lusitania is home to three sentient species: the Pequeninos; a large colony of humans; and the Hive Queen, brought there by Ender. But once again the human race has grown fearful; the Starways Congress has gathered a fleet to destroy Lusitania.
Jane, the evolved computer intelligence, can save the three sentient races of Lusitania. She has learned how to move ships outside the universe, and then instantly back to a different world, abolishing the light-speed limit. But It takes all the processing power available to her, and the Starways Congress is shutting down the Net, world by world.
Soon Jane will not be able to move the ships. Ender’s children must save her if they are to save themselves."
a. Kushiel's Dart.
"The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of surpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear."
The other books in this trilogy are;
- Kushiel's Chosen
- Kushiel's Avatar
|Jack L. Chalker|
Midnight at the Well of Souls
Exiles at the Well of Souls
Quest for the Well of Souls
The Return of Nathan Brazil
Twilight at the Well of Souls
The Sea is Full of Stars
Ghost at the Well of Souls
In 1993, he wrote a follow-on 4 book series
Echoes of the Well of Souls
Shadow of the Well of Souls
Gods of the Well of Souls
The Watchers at the Well
The Hex World where the adventures take place is one of the most fascinating worlds you'll ever experience. Start with Midnight and see if you are drawn in.
There you go. I'm off to my physio. I'll write more as I finish off more of my June books.