Posted in Fantasy, Liked It, paranormal, Rated LI

A Discovery of Witches

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Author:     Deborah Harkness

Genre:       Fantasy

Rating:     LI

Synopsis:

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar’s depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense. The story continues in book two, Shadow of Night, and concludes with The Book of Life.

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  In Ms. Harkness’ book there are three magical races: witches, vampires, and daemons.  All three magical races stand out in a crowd.  Diana Bishop comes from a very distinguished family of witches; unfortunately she shows little magical talent.  All that changes when she pulls Ashmole 782 from the library archives to aid her in research for an upcoming lecture she is to give.  This sets in motion a series of events that forces Diana return to her magical roots.

One thing that was interesting about this world was the rampant prejudices that each magical races held about other races.  Diana in that respect is very different.  Because she has next to no magical ability (or so she thinks), she views herself as human.  These races have a covenant that forbid fraternization.  There are some hefty penalties if you violate it.  But it isn’t clear why.  But one thing is certain, the key to why the covenant was created in the first place can be found in Ashmole 782.  Unfortunately, only Diana can recall the book, but she doesn’t know how she did it, and others intend to use her or destroy her in order to get that book.

I didn’t find out about this book until after the third book was released.  I see why so many book bloggers were raving about it.  It was very interesting.  I think what I liked the most of the history of alchemy that the author included in her story.

The book also has one of the best quotes I’ve ever read.

It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.

 

 

Posted in Fantasy, Liked It

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Sword

Author: George R. R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: LI
Synopsis:

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others–a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . .

Here is the third volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Opinion: Still no Others!!! I hope I’m not spoiling it for anyone, but THE RED WEDDING. Oh my goodness! I could not believe Walder Frey. I mean, I can sort of understand you being slighted because you didn’t get to marry off one of your daughters, grand-daughters, or great-grand daughters, but touchy much!!! Anyway, my only consolation is that Walder will undoubtably be killed off before the series ends. Hopefully, it will be something very painful or humiliating to make up for what he did.

Also, I’m looking forward to see what Lady Stoneheart gets up to in the future books. Hopefully, she will disposed of Walder Frey.

Posted in Liked It, Mystery

The Moonstone Legacy:  The Age of Aquarius

Author: Tony Wild and Diane  de Gunzburg
Genre: Mystery
Rating: LI
Synopsis:

In a sacred caved high in the mountains of northern India, a white-haired hermit sits cross-legeed, and signs his final testament: “George Abercrombie, 1874…”. In present-day England, fourteen years old Lizzy Abercrombie’s mother dies in a tragic accident on the full moon. But was it really an accident? LIzzy discovers that her death may be linked to a mysterious family curse. Determined to solve the mystery, her quest takes her from the doomed Anglo-Indian mansion on the Yorkshire moors to India where she uncovers the terrible truth about her ancestor and a stole inheritance. But her discoveis put her in mortal danger from a ruthless enemy.  

Opinion:  This was the last book of the trilogy.  This part of the book details the actions Lizzie takes to deal with the Moonstone once and for all.  She seems to succeed, but with the Moonstone, you never know what the next adventure will be.  

The second and third books seemed like they belonged together.  The first one, I dunno, seemed more like a set up for the other books.  Although this book was a decent read, it was my least favorite of the three books.  I really liked the first one the best.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Liked It, Loved It

Taming of the Queen

 

by Philippa Gregory
 Author: Philippa Gregory

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

By the #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the Starz original series The White Queen, a riveting new Tudor tale featuring King Henry VIII’s sixth wife Kateryn Parr, the first English queen to publish under her own name.
Why would a woman marry a serial killer?
Because she cannot refuse…
Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives—King Henry VIII—commands her to marry him.
Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as Regent.
But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and the first woman to publish in English, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her. The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy—the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…
From an author who has described all of Henry’s queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power, and education at the court of a medieval killer.

Opinion:  You know, I can’t imagine anything more scary than being an attractive, high-born woman during the reign of King Henry VIII.  I think a serial killer is an excellent way to describe Henry.  Not only did he kill wives, he killed anyone that challenged him.  Staying in his favor was a dance that few mastered.  A lot of it was knowing when to beat a hasty retreat to a country estate, although this was not necessarily an option for Kateryn.  We hear a lot about Henry’s first three wives, but we don’t get alot about the last 3.  I suppose because the marriages were so short.  

I think it was really interesting to learn how much Henry’s last queen did to promote the Protestant faith in England.  She was quite the scholar.  

The book was well-written.  It’s amazing because even though I knew Kateryn would survive Henry, I still sat on pins and needles for her as I was reading.  

Anyway, Ms. Gregory has written about the War or Roses and Tudor England. I wonder what there is to tackle next. 

Posted in Biography, Liked It, Non-fiction

Joy

  Author:     Abigail Santamaria

Genre:     Biography 

Rating:    LI

Synopsis:

The first full biography of Joy Davidman, known primarily as C.S. Lewis’s late-in-life bride, but who here receives her much deserved rescue from that shadow.

Opinion: You know for the longest time, I didn’t realize that C. S. Lewis was married.  I loved (and still do) the Chronicles of Narnia.  I’ve also read his space travel trilogy- Out of the Silent Planet.  I’ve known that C. S. Lewis was a born again believer, but I never really thought about his personal life.  

I can’t remember when, but my mom watched that movie Shadowlands.  I think I was in college.  That was the first that I realized that he married.  I didn’t think much about his wife though.  I really never thought to find out who she was.  

I know the author of this book.  We went to the same church for a little bit when we were both in high school.  I remember when she started doing the research for this book.  There wasn’t a lot out there on Joy.  I know Abby traveled to England to do some research for this book.  I remember that she got invited to the movie premier of Prince Caspian.  This book has been years in the making, and I was happy that there was finally a release date.  

Abbie’s writing was great.  There is no doubt about that.  It was easy to read, and not dry and boring (which is one of the reasons I usually don’t read non-fiction).  I think the best thing about this book, is that is changed my opinion of C. S. Lewis.  I’ve read some of his other Christian work like Screwtapes Letters.  Lewis was a devout Christian.  I think what surprised me was that Joy was so, well, not really likeable.  I mean I know that all of us have flaws, but she just didn’t strike me as being the sort of woman that Lewis would like.  I mean for crying out loud, she was still married when she started chasing him!!  I think at the end of the day, it made Lewis seem a lot more like a real man.  

I know this was completely not what the book was about.  The whole point of the book was that the reader was supposed to walk away knowing that Joy was something other thab just Lewis’ wife. And she certainly was.  She was definitely a dynamo.  I mean she was well educated; she joined the Communist party in the US; she seemed to be a prolific poetess.  

It really is a pity that she and Lewis didn’t get to spend the majority of their lives together.  

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Wars

Star Wars Lords of the Sith

Author:     Paul S. Kemp

Genre:       Science Fiction

Rating:     L



Synopsis:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
 
When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.
 
“It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted.”
 
Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.
 
On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.
 
For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  I have to say I was really impressed with the fact that Cham came pretty darned close to destroying Vader and the Empire.  If he had done a little more planning, well….

The most interesting thing about this book was the fact that it delved into the relationship of the Emperor and Darth Vader.  Something that has never been touched on in prior books is that Vader didn’t fully have the Emperor’s trust.  I believe that in the Star Wars Revenge of the Sith it was briefly alluded to that the Emperor wasn’t getting quite what he bargained for in Vader.  First, Vade was missing a lot of limbs by that point, and it was insinuated that this would limit how powerful he could become in the Force.  Second, Vader still had underlying guilt about killing his wife.  In this book, that intense guilt crops up a lot for Vader.  In fact a couple of times it becomes a somewhat deadly distraction.  It never occurred to me that Vader struggled to embrace the Dark Side, but you get to see that in this book.  I guess this is what Padme meant when she said that she knew there was still good in him.

I liked this book better than some of the other revisionist Star Wars books that they’ve been publishing.  

I still miss the extended universe though.  

Posted in Liked It, Science Fiction, Star Wars, Uncategorized

Heir to the Jedi



Author:     Kevin Hearne

Genre:      Science Fiction

Rating:      LI

Synopsis:

Luke Skywalker’s game-changing destruction of the Death Star has made him not only a hero of the Rebel Alliance but a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against the Empire. Though he’s a long way from mastering the power of the Force, there’s no denying his phenomenal skills as a pilot—and in the eyes of Rebel leaders Princess Leia Organa and Admiral Ackbar, there’s no one better qualified to carry out a daring rescue mission crucial to the Alliance cause.
 
A brilliant alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems is being detained by Imperial agents determined to exploit her exceptional talents for the Empire’s purposes. But the prospective spy’s sympathies lie with the Rebels, and she’s willing to join their effort in exchange for being reunited with her family. It’s an opportunity to gain a critical edge against the Empire that’s too precious to pass up. It’s also a job that demands the element of surprise. So Luke and the ever-resourceful droid R2-D2 swap their trusty X-wing fighter for a sleek space yacht piloted by brash recruit Nakari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul, who’s got a score of her own to settle with the Empire.
 
Challenged by ruthless Imperial bodyguards, death-dealing enemy battleships, merciless bounty hunters, and monstrous brain-eating parasites, Luke plunges head-on into a high-stakes espionage operation that will push his abilities as a Rebel fighter and would-be Jedi to the limit. If ever he needed the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi to shepherd him through danger, it’s now. But Luke will have to rely on himself, his friends, and his own burgeoning relationship with the Force to survive.

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  Well, I’m trying to be fair about this book.  It was a likeable read.  It was everything that you would come to expect from a Star Wars novel, but

WHY THE DEVIL DO THEY HAVE TO CHUCH THE ALREADY ESTABLISHED EXTENDED UNIVERSE AND START ALL OVER?  

Before this latest Star Wars movie rumor, the series was about to experience an enormous changing of the guard.  This was the subject of the book Crucible.  Since the newest Star Wars movies takes us back to practically the Rebellion, the powers that be (who are a little bit crazy in my opinion) have decided to scrap the past years of extended universe and start over.  I dunno if they think is going to capture more of the market.  

I’m not impressed.  Essentially there will be another Star Wars universe.  We are headed into comic book territory now.  By this I mean that every so often, comic books reinvent the story. 

**Sigh**

Posted in Liked It, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Wars

Star Wars Tarkin

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Author: James Luceno

Genre: Science fiction

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .

Bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.

He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly . . . and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.

Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel—by intimidation . . . or annihilation.

Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin—whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy . . . and its enemies’ extinction.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: I was really surprised. I don’t think It was possible for Tarkin to be sympathetic. I found myself liking him against my will. I thought it was really interesting the relationship between Tarkin and Vader. There was a great deal of camaraderie between the pair. Tarkin has clearly figured out that Vader is Anakin. They seemed to have fought together in the Clone Wars. I don’t know that story. I hope there is a novel about it.

I thought it was also very interesting to see how Palpatine manipulated him into being his little tool.

Oh, also, Palpatine’s first name is Shreev.

You know Tarkin seems to have principles in this book. I mean, he is definitely a product of his upbringing, but he doesn’t appear to be evil. But I supposed over 18 years he eventually became to person we saw in Star Wars A New Hope.

Kudos to the author for humanizing Tarkin.

Posted in Fantasy, Liked It

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings

Author: George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: BOOK TWO

In this thrilling sequel to A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has created a work of unsurpassed vision, power, and imagination. A Clash of Kings transports us to a world of revelry and revenge, wizardry and warfare unlike any we have ever experienced.

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel . . . and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: In the aftermath of Ned Stark being killed, Westeros divides back into the seven kingdoms that it had been before Aegon the Conqueror united the kingdoms. Robb Stark, and the men of the North, want revenge for Ned Stark’s death. Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon are both fighting for their late brother Robert’s throne as they know that all of Robert’s “supposed” children are really the children of Cersei and Jamie Lannister.

Enter into this mix is a priestess who wants to rid Westeros of the old gods and turn everyone to the worship of the Lord of Light. This is the second supernatural element in this story. The priestess Melisandre is a Shadowbinder who possesses a great deal of magical skill. She is convinced that there is some supernatural war coming between the Lord of Light and some nameless other (that the read has to wonder if this is the Others mentioned in the first book).

I did like this book a great deal. But As I mentioned in my review of A Game of Thrones, I didn’t like the teasing. There seems to be a great deal of lore missing in Westeros. The inhabitants accept that summer last years and that winter comes less seldom. For what ever reason no one, but the people from the north, seem to understand that winter should be feared. The winter brings the Others. But no one seems to know how the seasons ended up so unbalanced or what the connection is between the Others and winter. For the most part, everyone thinks that the Others are merely a legend.

I have to say, that I really like the character Tyrion Lannister. Despite the fact that he’s always in brothels, he does have a surprisingly kind heart. I think he’s probably my favorite character to date. I hope the author doesn’t kill him!

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Trek

Star Trek: Seeker: Second Nature

Star Trek Seekers

Author: David Mack

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

A new mission: The late twenty-third century—Starfleet’s golden age of exploration. Desperate to stay one step ahead of its rivals, the Federation sends two starships, the scout Sagittarius and the cruiser Endeavour, to plumb the secrets of the vast region known as the Taurus Reach.

A doomed race: Drawn by mysterious energy readings to a lush green world, the crew of the Sagittarius find the Tomol: a species whose members all commit ritual suicide just as they reach the cusp of adulthood.

An old foe: The crew of the Sagittarius wants to save the Tomol from their cycle of self-destruction, but first they’ll need to save themselves—from the most nefarious Klingon starship commander in history.

Bluestockings Opinion: There is only one character from this book that readers will be familiar with and that is Captain Clark Terrell who you will remember was the black captain in the Star Trek movie The Wrath of Khan. The crew is back in the Taurus Reach. I don’t think I posted any reviews of the Vanguard series arc (I need to correct that). The new species, the Tomol, have had their genetics tampered with by the Shedai. It seems some more benevolent species, the Preservers, took the remaining Tomol from their original home world after they destroyed it, and placed them on a new world with the command that once the Change started the individuals needed to sacrifice themselves. The Preservers also gave the Tomol a way to control anyone who resisted going to their deaths; the device could turn the person to stone.

Once I understood the Preservers role in this species, I was a little bit confused. Past books, in my opinion, had shown the Preserves to be a lot different than this. I would have thought that the Preservers would have fixed the genetic damage done to the Tomol. But as the doctor makes clear, she can’t fix the genetic problems without killing the Tomol. So I guess the Preservers are simply preserving the Tomol. Perhaps the damage to the Tomol genome exceeds even the Preservers’ ability to repair.

The Change that the Tomol go through gives them almost the same powers as a Q. Unfortunately, this happens when the Tomol turn 18, so they are experiencing a great physical change while going through puberty. (Yeah talk about a recipe for disaster!). Anyway, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. I hope that Starfleet can find some way to repair the genetics of the Tomol or if not, they need to find a way to limit them to their own home world.