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Lonely Planets
Lonely Planets
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A primer for Astrobiology., June 25, 2016
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This review is from: Lonely Planets (Kindle Edition)
This book has a permanent place on my bookshelf. Who would have thought that there could be life on Saturn's moon Titan, with its atmosphere of methane and acetylene lakes...because "at Titan's low temperature, the chemical that is explosive on Earth could be used in metabolic processes"? (not a direct quote, just the jist as I recall it sometime later.) This book might be dated, but as a science fiction writer I regard this as the essential primer for understanding Astrobiology. This book will raise your IQ 20 points.


Pilgrimage: The Book of the People
Pilgrimage: The Book of the People
by Zenna Henderson
Edition: Paperback
46 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A book for any kind of outcast, June 25, 2016
This is a collection of stories about an insular group of Amish-like outcasts living in the remote hills. They forbid dancing, music or anything 'fun'. Many of the stories take place from the perspective of the schoolroom, where outsiders encounter this group's peculiar taboos and children of the group struggle with the People's collective fears. I guess it is a SPOILER to say that 'The People' are descendants of extraterrestrial refugees with paranormal abilities, who suffered persecution as witches. The People are natural empaths and telepaths, who, despite their traumatic history, avoid violence and hold to their values of closeness and kindness.
As a high-school outcast, this book resonated so deeply with me that I guess it influenced my entire life. I have to say this is the top book of my life. Another reason this book was so meaningful to me is that I belong to one of the most persecuted ethnic groups in history. But I think almost anyone could be touched by these warm, humane stories.


Dawn (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1)
Dawn (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1)
by Octavia E. Butler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $16.16
73 used & new from $3.23

4.0 out of 5 stars The human captive-breeding program!, May 31, 2016
The negative reviews on this book were very thought-provoking. Here, humans are essentially in the position of endangered species in a captive breeding program. Would this be good or bad? Better to go extinct than to evolve into something else? Our society desperately wants to know if there is any life out there. If we do find it, will we recoil from it in disgust, or welcome opportunities to learn and change? If aliens want to help us survive, should we tell them to 'get lost'?
Then there are the sexual parts. Here is a species that has 3 genders. (Imagine the Bathroom issues!!) A lot of people were disgusted by the so-called sex scenes between 2 humans and an alien. I didn't see any actual sex...just pheromones that made imaginary things happen. Why is this is considered disgusting, and if I don't think so, am I a pervert? Our own society is struggling over which kinds of sexuality are acceptable.
I agree with some of the comments that the characterization was flat, and that the issues should have been explored in more depth. But I enjoy speculative fiction, and I did order the rest of the series.


Contrition (The Perception Trilogy) (Volume 3)
Contrition (The Perception Trilogy) (Volume 3)
by Lee Strauss
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99
4 used & new from $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The writing and pacing were good enough that I could get through all of it, May 29, 2016
It's been a few months since I read this series, so my review is more of a general impression of the whole series. Some of my comments might refer to events in the second book rather than the third.
For starters, I don't get these titles at all. They have nothing to do with the story. Now, for the review. I believe at least part of this series was given as a freebie and I got my money's worth. The writing and pacing were good enough that I could get through all of it. However, it did not impress me as great science fiction. More like "lame teen romance that takes place 20 years in the future."
I use the word 'lame' because it just wasn't convincing. How did Zoe and Noah fall in love, other than that he is infatuated with her blond beauty and she finds him 'exotic'? Later they are thrown together through these harrowing adventures and that makes them feel undying love for each other? I guess I never was a "teenager". I just didn't get it.
The central part of the series is weak and under-plotted. The characters go into hiding, and live a miserable existence which the author describes in boring detail. While undergoing these ordeals they make eyes at each other and play the 'does she or doesn't she love me ' game. Several other characters come into the story and join their survival adventure. Why? There was no convincing reason why the Amish girls and the Fight Club siblings need to be hiding out in a desert cave with our protags. They have no real goal except survival. Meanwhile Zoe continues to notice Noah's well-defined pecs and every interaction between him and another girl. She also flirts with Jabez. In moments of great peril, she notices that so & so has well defined pecs. Seriously?
Toward the end the action picks up and some actual conflict and character growth occur. But I found much of the plotline to be contrived and not well developed. Things happen suddenly and they were not believable.
Here are some other problems that bothered me. There were many bloopers, such as the word "aqueduct" instead of "aquifer". Broken ribs make it impossible for a girl to walk. Almost nobody has a private plane, but these guys took off into the air without being detected. There are multiple references to a GPS, when they have to avoid being tracked. The country is under constant survellance, but somehow Noah is still able to get blog posts out. If so, why isn't he able to tap into some kind of underground that can help them? That was the main thing I kept waiting for: some kind of underground, some intelligent plan, interesting allies and alternative ways to survive. A real science fiction novel usually has a bigger perspective besides "boy meets girl, boy and girl avoid their feelings for each other while avoiding capture and eyeing other potential love interests, boy & girl defeat baddies and get back together."


PERCEPTION: (A Sci-fi Mystery Dystopian Romance) (The Perception Trilogy Book 1)
PERCEPTION: (A Sci-fi Mystery Dystopian Romance) (The Perception Trilogy Book 1)
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but shallow, May 11, 2016
I will have to give this a 4-star because I enjoyed reading it. However, I wouldn't say it was great literature. The word "shallow" comes to mind. The characters are vapid, sex-obsessed teenagers. Zoe is frequently distracted by Noah's lips or other physical attributes. Her skin starts "tingling". Her heartbeat "hammers out of her chest". They start to 'make out' and barely stop themselves from 'going all the way'.This seems like annoying pandering to the hypothetical sex-obsessed teen reader. (I can't recall if this was labeled YA. When I was a teenager, I read Real stuff.) In fact I could not relate to any chemistry between Zoe and Noah.
The entire scenario was like a movie set. We have our blonde Malibu surf people, and everyone else. What are the GAP "policies" Noah protests? The privileged class got more privileges, pretty much like it is in reality. The only difference was that the rich folks' computers were bigger.
I also found it jarring that the author used multiple first-person viewpoints. That is not very effective for me. I am constantly trying to remember "who is talking about him/herself here?" Why not just use 3rd person?


Of Things Gone Astray
Of Things Gone Astray
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $0.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A story that went nowhere, April 29, 2016
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Sorry, but I could not get past 20 percent of this book. It started off entertainingly enough with some weird things happening, but it never developed beyond that. New characters kept popping up, getting lost, losing things, but there was no story development whatsoever. Finally I lost something too...my patience!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2016 5:34 AM PDT


Legacy Code (Fractured Era Legacy Episodes Book 2)
Legacy Code (Fractured Era Legacy Episodes Book 2)
Price: $3.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Ending-less book, April 27, 2016
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Readers beware, this book does NOT have a satisfying ending. That is one of my worst peeves in books. Do not finish a book with the protagonist being killed. That's all. That's like inviting someone on a date & then not showing up. Dear Author, after leaving me unsatisfied, why should I spend any more time with you?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2016 7:06 AM PDT


Inca
Inca
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tragic and beautifully written page-turner, April 2, 2016
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This review is from: Inca (Kindle Edition)
There is one great problem with novels about the Incas: I already know there won't be a happy ending, for the fate of this people is one of the most crushingly tragic stories in history. For this reason I was reluctant to even start reading it. But the story is so well narrated that it captivated me before I could put it down. The portrayal of life in the Inca empire reads like some fantasy novel about an exotic imaginary kingdom.
The protagonist isn't a mighty warrior or prince, but a master accountant. His purpose in life is not self-aggrandizement or glory, but simply to run an empire so that its inhabitants can live prosperous and decent lives. I was charmed by the portrayal of "writing" with knots and strings, and of a great 'quipu house' full of yarn and counting stones. The description of the Incas' meticulous record-keeping boggles the mind. Their society wasn't exactly democratic, but somehow, during their heyday, they did manage to do better by the people of Peru than anyone since.
Narrator Haylli has misadventures with schoolmates, and later with plotting backstabbers. But it is only about 2/3 of the way through the book when the real trouble starts. A series of ever more horrific disasters befalls the narrator and his people: plague, devastating civil war, and finally the Spanish invasion. (To imagine what this must have been like, think of an invasion from space.) So no, there is no way it could end happily. Nevertheless, this story is so vivid and well-written that I could not put it down. The author says he plans to write more stories about the Incas, and I sure hope he does. Sign me up!


Watcher's Web (Return of the Aghyrians: Young Adult Science Fiction Book 1)
Watcher's Web (Return of the Aghyrians: Young Adult Science Fiction Book 1)
Price: $0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Draggy and Confusing, March 28, 2016
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watcher's web - review.
This book started out well. I liked Jessica as a cowgirl who can control animals...but she soon becomes a victim and a pawn. And she becomes annoying. It seems to be a YA trope: the "strong female lead" who is impulsive, stubborn and never listens to anyone.
After a few chapters the narrative and pacing began to sag. The characters spend a lot of time going here and there...mostly I was not sure where or why. The advice "show, don't tell", is way overdone. We get a million sensory details we don't need: the tree roots, flowers, how her underwear smells. Meanwhile the storyline becomes confused and murky. What are these characters' goals? Is there even a clear villain? Something that might have helped this book is if the author had used multiple viewpoints. It would have helped us understand the larger picture of interplanetary politics etc. Plus, it would have been more interesting than Jessica's conflicted relationships and rambles among the natives. An unsatisfying read.


From the Ashes: An Alternate History Novel
From the Ashes: An Alternate History Novel
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Hunger Games!, March 22, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I don't usually read books about Nazis and Hitler, as it is just too painfully real. But after reading several of the sample chapters, I found myself wanting more. We tend to think of Nazis only in terms of the Holocaust; we forget what an awful dystopia a Nazi regime would be for just about anyone. Anyone with a physical imperfection or disability, for instance, is treated as an unperson.
This novel starts with a few bored college students visiting the "Judenmuseum", which displays the relics of the now-extinct Jews. Who would have thought that this could lead to a worldwide revolution? "Judaism" becomes the unlikely nucleus around which the rebellion forms. At first I found this contrived; then I thought of all the fantasy and SF I have read where the protagonists resurrect symbols of a long-dead culture. In fact, the modern Neo-Pagan movement does the same thing!
Every novel about a rebellion eventually becomes a 'war' novel. The plot devolves into weapons, battles, betrayal etc. This is a weakness of the genre. Fiction about machine guns and bombs isn't really my thing. So the pace did get labored for awhile.
Ultimately the victory is about Propaganda, or more accurately the fact that "Rabbi Adolf" is a decent human being who refuses to allow a bloodbath. By the end I was comparing this book with Hunger Games. A corrupt regime? check. A lot of guns and explosions? Yep. A system of symbols that the rebels follow? Check, except that an entire religion is an even stronger symbol than a bird (the mockingjay). Finally, and here's the big plus: You don't have to read "Book Two" and "book 3" to get to the conclusion. This book is a rarity these days: it is entirely self-contained!!! For this, I thank the author profusely. Five Stars!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2016 2:38 PM PDT


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