Lancaster, PA, United States | Member Since 2008
In a land called Ravka, two orphans, Mal and Alina, are called to battle in a war; however, they are called in very different ways. Mal becomes a soldier, and Alina becomes a cartographer. Then, Alina discovers that she has powers that are unique in their world--she is a sun summoner. Because of her new powers, she leaves her post to train as a Grisha, which is a type of natural sorceress. In the book, many believe that her power will help to end the war.
I wanted to love this book, but I only barely liked it. First, let me get my biggest complaint out of the way. From the illustration on the book cover to the language used by the characters, there is an obviously heavy Russian influence in the land of Ravka. Unfortunately, that influence was terribly executed. Although the author uses some terms correctly (e.g., samovar), she invents other words or completely misuses them. There was absolutely no other Russian influence in the entire book. There was no reference to Russian culture, no reference to Russian mythology, and no reference to Russian folklore. It could be argued that, because Ravka is not Russia, these missing references should be overlooked. I cannot overlook them. If the author is going to try for a Russian feel, she should have been a bit more focused with her research. One example that made me somewhat crazy was the name of the main character, Alina Starkov. Although I can see the Russian influence in the name, would it have been so terrible to make the name Alina Starkova, which would have sounded far, far more authentic?
By the way, my complaint about the lack of a true Russian influence negatively influenced my opinion of the performance. I liked Lauren Fortgang for the most part; however, she was woefully prepared to read a book that had Russian words in it. Her pronunciation was bad. Fortunately, her accent was not. I liked the pseudo-Russian accent that she used, but she fumbled with the Russian words and the invented-Russian words.
My second complaint is with the love story aspect of the book. Why, oh why, do we need another bizarre, love-triangle story in which the heroine is (for a part of the book) torn between the boy she has loved her whole life and the bad-boy she has just met? I really feel as if this is another story that is capitalizing on the Twilight/Hunger Games trend. Don't get me wrong, I liked all of these books, but enough is enough. I have serious doubts about the future of all women if these characters represent their ideal models of relationships.
OK, now that I provided you with the complaints, I will confess that I liked the story. I didn't love it, but I liked it. If the love story could have been removed (and the pseudo-Russian corrected), it would have been great. The general concept of the Grishas was fascinating. I like the idea that these people are not really sorcerers or sorceresses; instead, they manipulate what already exists in nature. In fact, they don't refer to it is magic, but as the "small science," which seems to be a combination of magic and science. In addition, the world of Ravka is troubled, yet interesting. I would love to know more about the other people of that world.
In the end, I can say that this was an OK book. If you enjoy the love-story aspect of Twilight or the Hunger Games, you will definitely enjoy this book. If you can tolerate a bit more of it, you will enjoy the fantasy. The ending of the book was rather weak; however, I believe that there are more books to come in this series. We will see where things go in the second book!
This book was so much better than I expected. The story was compelling, and the characters were believable. I wish I would have become an astronaut.
In this short story, John Scalzi is setting up a rather impressive space opera. This story focuses on a low-end diplomatic team that becomes thrust into a high-profile mission when another (high-ranking) diplomat goes missing. While the story reads much like searching for a needle in a haystack, the approach for the search is great.
When I first started reading the story, I was rather annoyed. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that the beginning of the story draws the reader in very quickly--then slaps you in the face. I was irritated, but I'm glad I kept reading. The initial slap turns out to be necessary to set up the rest of the book, and I have forgiven the author for setting me up.
I have always had a place in my heart for a good underdog story. In many ways, that is what this book is about. The B-Team is clearly comprised of underdogs. No one expects them to succeed, yet they are full of surprises. I am eager to see where this book series goes and whether the B-Team can continue to surprise.
Imagine a world in which the dead start coming back to life. They have no memories from when they were gone; they simply start appearing all over the globe. This is the premise of Jason Mott's novel, The Returned. Prior to reading this novel, I read the three prequels, so I was very excited to see what the book had to offer. I was not disappointed.
The focus of the novel is on the Hargrave family, Harold and Lucille. Their only son, Jacob, died in 1966 when he was only eight years old. Now, the Hargraves are elderly, and their eight-year-old son has returned. He's still eight, and he has no memory from the time of his death. Harold and Lucille have very different opinions about their son's return. Lucille believes that he is a gift from God. Harold doesn't believe it's really his son. Even so, Harold continues to act as if he were his son.
In addition to the Hargrave family, the book also touches on some of the characters that were introduced in the prequels. My only disappointment with this books (and the only reason that I didn't rate it five stars) is that those other characters' stories are not as closely connected to the novel as I had hoped. I recently learned that this book (and its prequels) has been optioned for a television series. I am hopeful that more of the stories can be told in the television series.
Although the book focuses on the Hargrave family, it also looks at how the returned are affecting others around the globe. In particular, the question of what to do with the increasing number of returned is a critical plot point. The government (in its infinite wisdom) has decided that the returned need to be rounded up and placed in what could only be called concentration camps. The town in which the Hargraves live becomes one such camp. How the returned are treated there introduces a tremendous moral dilemma. Moreover, there is a battle between the returned (and their supporters) and the "true living," who do not believe that the returned are actually living. In a way, there is a type of civil war brought about by the appearance of the returned.
In many ways, this story shook me to my core. I was frequently questioning my own values and beliefs while reading the story. What would I do if one of my own family members were returned from the dead? It was a question that kept going through my head as I was reading. While I do not believe that I will ever have to face that reality, the question is still disarming. Because of my own shaken beliefs--and because of the characters in the story--I was in tears by its end. In my opinion, that is a sign of a great story. I highly recommend this book, and I am looking forward to the television series.
Imagine a world in which the dead start coming back to life. They have no memories from when they were gone; they simply start appearing all over the globe. This is the premise of Jason Mott's novel, The Returned. In this third prequel to the novel, another of the returned is introduced. When she was only 17 years old, Tracy Whitmore disappeared. Eventually, her disappearance was ruled a death. Her boyfriend at the time, Peter Galvin, was heartbroken.
Fast forward 20 years, and Tracy has returned. She is still 17 years old, but Peter is not. All she wants is to see Peter again. Unfortunately, in the years since her death, Peter has married someone else and has a daughter. Nevertheless, Peter still loves Tracy very much. His new wife, Samantha, believes that he needs to make a choice between Tracy or her. Eventually, Peter agrees to meet with Tracy--and he makes a very difficult choice.
Out of the three prequels, I enjoyed this one the most. The story was just heart-wrenching, and I couldn't imagine what I would do if I were in this situation. At this point, I really took notice of how intense The Returned would be because I was starting to question my own values and beliefs while reading The Choice. When books can make you questions beliefs to which you have held firm for many years, it's a sign of a great book. I could not wait to read The Returned.
(I also want to make a comment about the low rating I gave the performance. While I had nothing against David Ledoux as the narrator, I thought that his voice was uncharacteristic for the seriousness of the book. If he were reading "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," I think he would be amazing. His voice just didn't have the right tone for this story.)
Imagine a world in which the dead start coming back to life. They have no memories from when they were gone; they simply start appearing all over the globe. This is the premise of Jason Mott's novel, The Returned. In this second prequel to the novel, another of the returned is introduced. Ten-year-old Tatiana Rusesa, who has returned almost 20 years after she and her mother were killed by soldiers in Sierra Leone, was found on the side of the highway by Matt and Heather Campbell.
Tatiana's story occurs about six weeks after The First (the first prequel to The Returned). By this time, thousands of people have returned from the dead all over the world. Matt and Heather have often wondered what would happen if they encountered one of the returned, and now they have. Unfortunately, they do not always agree about the best course of action for the young girl.
The title of this prequel comes from a story that is told by the young Tatiana. It provides an interesting backstory that makes her tale that much more interesting. Even so, I didn't enjoy this story quite as much as I enjoyed The First. The character of Matt was not entirely pleasant, while his wife was a bit too pleasant. They didn't seem like a very good match. Their interactions with Tatiana also seem to be unusual. Nevertheless, the story is still compelling enough for me to want to read The Returned when it is released.
Imagine a world in which the dead start coming back to life. They have no memories from when they were gone; they simply start appearing all over the globe. This is the premise of Jason Mott's novel, The Returned. In this prequel to the novel, the first of the returned is introduced. Edmund Blithe died a little over a year ago, but this morning, he showed up for work.
As if this were not alarming enough, Edmund's fiancee, Emily, only just stopped wearing her engagement ring. Now, she learns that he is back. The government has intervened to question Edmund, and Emily goes on a quest to find him and get him back. She and Edmund want nothing more than to be back together--despite the odds that are clearly against them.
I read this prequel because it was free, and the premise was interesting. By the time I was done with the story, I had pre-ordered The Returned. I was completely wrapped up in the story, and I was eager to find out what would happen to this couple as well as to the other returned and their families all over the world. Jason Mott has created a great story and a great marketing tool for his debut novel.
I was fortunate to get this book for free. I don't think I would have purchased it; however, now that I've read it, I'm glad that I did. I plan to start reading the rest of the series. Cast in Moonlight is a prequel to the author's Elantra series, and it introduces the character of Kaylin Neya. Kaylin is a young teenage girl who is wrapped up in a city's investigation into child prostitution.
Of course, this is no ordinary city--and no ordinary investigation. The world of Elantra is filled with a variety of individuals who possess animal-like qualities. One group in particular are the Hawks, who have bird-like qualities.
As Kaylin gets more involved in the investigation, the reader is given additional bits about her history. For example, she is oddly affected by magic. Also, she has very strange marking on her body that are a bit of a mystery.
This book was rather short, so it didn't really have enough substance to explain a lot about Elantra or about Kaylin. I suspect that was the point. As a prequel, it was able to draw me in to this world, and I'm curious about the rest of the series.
I was so lucky to have stumbled upon this book. I was fortunate enough to read the first part of the book as a preview that was included in another one of Neil Gaiman's books. Once I read that preview, I knew that I would read the entire book when it was published. I am glad that I did--it was great!
This book tells the story of a many who returns to his childhood hometown for a funeral. While there, he recalls a strange memory from his childhood that involved a neighborhood girl and her duck pond, which she always referred to as her ocean. The recollections are--at first--very pleasant; however, they take a frightening turn before too long.
Most of the story is told from the perspective of the young boy--the unnamed boy in the memory. Because of this, the book starts off very nicely. In many ways, I was reminded of my own childhood by some of the memories. This is what drew me into the story. It is not until slightly further along in the story that I realized this book was no longer just a childhood tale.
The boy's neighbors are supernatural beings in some way (which is never made entirely clear). Through a rather unfortunate sequence of events, the boy gets wrapped up in the supernatural occurrences around his neighborhood. That's when things start to get very dark. There is a particular scene in the book involving the boy's babysitter that was so creepy that it actually made me cringe while reading it--and believe it or not, I think that's a good thing!
I haven't read too many other Neil Gaiman books, but I will certain do so now that I read this one. The story was interesting, and the characters are quite memorable. If his other books have these same qualities and can also creep me out just a bit, then I'll be in for many more reads by Neil Gaiman.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do some consulting for one of the Koch Industries companies, Invista. I taught a course at its Wilmington, DE facility and then again at its headquarters in Wichita, KS. I was struck by the incredible ways in which the employees treated me--and each other! While in Wichita, I learned a lot more about Koch Industries and its business philosophy. I happened to visit the company story while in Wichita, and I saw that the CEO had written this book. I knew that I had to read it to learn more about how he built the company and how he inspires his employees. What I read was nothing short of astounding. Koch Industries should be a role model for other companies.
This book starts by providing a bit of history about how Koch Industries has become the largest privately held company in the United States in terms of revenue. It's no surprise that this was achieved through the implementation of the company's Market-Based Management (MBM) philosophy. The book goes on to describe MBM in great detail.
Personally, I had been exposed to only one aspect of MBM during my time at Invista: the Guiding Principles. There are ten Guiding Principles in MBM, and I was introduced to them because they are printed on all of the coffee cups in the corporate office in Wichita--what a great idea! The ten Guiding Principles are 1) Integrity, 2) Compliance, 3) Value Creation, 4) Principled Entrepreneurship, 5) Customer Focus, 6) Knowledge, 7) Change, 8) Humility (a personal favorite), 9) Respect, and 10) Fulfillment.
These Guiding Principles are described in the book, yet they make up only one part of the overall MBM philosophy. The other aspects of MBM include Vision, Virtue and Talents, Knowledge Processes, Decision Rights, and Incentives. Each aspect of MBM is described in this book, and examples are provided throughout. While I wouldn't say that this book is prescriptive (i.e., it doesn't tell you how to run a business), I would say that it provides a very valuable set of tools that can be used to improve any business. If you like business books, then this book needs to be read--and frequently referenced. You will really enjoy it!
When I was in middle school, I read as many Dr. Doolittle books as my school's library had. I loved the books immensely. As an adult, I had the chance to go back and re-read this book, and I was taken back to those middle school days. The book really withstands the test of time, and it can be enjoyed by children of all ages.
Dr. Doolittle love animals--all kinds of animals--and he learns to speak the animals' language. This first Dr. Doolittle book tells the story of how he leaned to the speak the animals' language and his adventure in Africa to save a group of monkeys. The story is fast-paced and easy to read. The adventure in Africa is a delightful tale, and it reminded me just how much I wish I could understand what the animals around me are saying--especially my cat!
I have read some other reviews of this book, and they are mostly positive. The only negative comments that I noticed were about the rather racist comments that are written in the book. When I was a boy, I don't think I noticed them at all; however, they did seem to strike me as quite racist now that I am an adult. Even so, I simply reminded myself that it was representative of how people spoke during the author's time, and I didn't let it take away from the delightful story. If you're easily offended by racial language, you might want to avoid this book. If, on the other hand, you can forgive the author's comments, you will be treated to a great read. There is most definitely a reason that this is a classic.
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