Book Reviews: 2014 Part 1
It’s been ages since I last did some proper reviews, so I’m going to attempt to catch up with several book and movie reviews the next few weeks. Like last year I’m doing the 52 Book Challenge: read 52 books in 52 weeks. I “only” managed 40 books last year, so I was really hoping to push myself this year and read more. So far though week 22 just finished yesterday and I’ve done 15 books. Not bad, but also not on target.
Parasite – Mira Grant
I love Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire’s books. She one of my favourite writers and never fails to tell an interesting story. In Parasite, Grant sets up a world in the near future where scientists have discovered a way to keep people in perfect health: genetically engineered tapeworm implants. Six years ago after a major car crash, Sally Mitchell was the first person to be implanted with an “Intestinal Bodyguard”, but not everything about the implants are as straightforward as it seems…
I really enjoyed the book; the future world Grant describes has just enough realism and science to it that makes you believe it could actually be possible. My only complaint is that the ending is a bit predictable, but I’m curious to see how the events play out in the next book.
This Alien Shore – CS Friedman
I’ve only read one fantasy series from CS Friedman, so was interested to see what she did with a scifi story. I’m not even sure where to start with describing the plot: the background of the world she’s created is so rich and interesting, it’s impossible to describe in just a mere couple of sentences. I think the main thing though that sets it aside from other sci-fi books I’ve read: there are no aliens. When humans discovered long distance space travel, they discovered that a) they were alone and b) their long distance space travel created genetic mutations, creating basically a new alien race with each ship of colonists they sent out. After realizing this, they abandoned all the space colonies until a new form of travel could be discovered.
The Black Prism & The Blinding Knife – Brent Weeks
I really enjoyed Brent Weeks’s previous series The Night Angel trilogy, and he’s so good in telling interesting unpredictable stories. In The Lightbringer series he creates a world where magic is based on light and colour theory: mages can harness the visible light they have an affinity for and create a substance from it called Luxin. Each mage can “draft” at least one colour and each colour has its own special properties. Beyond the cool world and magic building though, the Lightbringer series so far tells such an epic story. I can’t wait until the next book of this series comes out!
The Tower & The Grove – Jean Johnson
These two books are the first two in Jean Johnson’s Guardians of Destiny series, a sequel to her previous Sons of Destiny series (8 books about 8 mage brothers). The books are about 8 different Guardians, each the protector of a great source of power bound to a specific location.
In The Tower, this takes the form of an ever-changing tower of traps, monsters and puzzles, which groups of adventurers can attempt for fortune and fame. When Guardian Kerric Vo Moss is locked out of his tower control center, he must pair up with the Painted Warrior Myal to run the gauntlet himself.
In The Grove, the Witch-Priest Aradin Teral is on a quest to find a suitable religious representative of the Kingdom of Katan to attend the Convocation of Gods and Man. He comes across Saleria, the Guardian of The Grove, a magical garden warped by the wild powers of the place.
Both of these books were so much fun! I loved reading about all the different puzzle chambers in the Tower and how the characters had to solve them. Unlike the previous series which was all set on the same island in the same country, this series visits different countries with different cultures and religions; Johnson has done a great job creating rich and intriguing stories.
What if something catastrophic happened in the world? What if you had heard about a place that was safe? Would you go? Grant’s Pass is an anthology that asks just that question. Unlike most anthologies I know though, the stories in this one are all set in the same world: a major epidemic of three engineered plagues wipes out most of the world, leaving only a handful of people behind. Just before major communications went down, one blogger’s article went viral: if anything happened, she had plans to meetup with anyone that remained at Grant’s Pass.
I loved this anthology. There are seventeen stories and each gives a unique take on the world the editor’s created. There were a couple that really stood out for me though: Ascension by Martin Livings, Animal Husbandry by Seanan McGuire and Remembrance by James M Sullivan.