Sunday, November 09, 2008

Most Recent Reads

Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson

With a sadonic wit and fine attention to detail, Stephenson weaves together the lives of three characters in a tale spanning three generations from WWII to modern day: Bobby Shaftoe--tough as nails WWII Marine; Laurence Waterhouse--brilliant codebreaker working for the Allies; Randy Waterhouse--computer programmer who finds himself caught up in a plan to establish a data haven (while hunting for Nazi/Japanese gold). The story is noticeably short on plot, however, and quite lengthy. (Rating: B / B.L.: Adult)

Dune - Frank Herbert

Tired of hearing "one of the best science fiction stories of all time" only to waste several days of your life? Sink your teeth into Dune and you'll agree that Herbert has created a masterfully realized world, the perfect stage for the coming of age of the protagonist, Paul. Desolate yet vital, the planet Arrakis shapes the future of the galaxy since it's the mysterious source of melange--an addictive, prophecy-inducing spice. After political intrigue lands Paul's family and friends on this inhospitable planet, Paul must confront the terrible destiny laid before him. (Rating: A+ / B.L.: 6+)

Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein

A man raised by Martians returns to Earth and seeks to instruct humans in the path to true happiness: 1) throw away traditional morality, 2) explore physical and mental oneness through telepathy, 3) never forget "thou art god." Tastes a bit like Eastern mysticism. Not one of Heinlein's strongest, Stranger disappoints. (Rating: C+ / B.L.: ADULT)

Shadow Puppets - Orson Scott Card

In a world torn by war, Bean and Petra seek to find meaning in life even as they work to defeat their archenemy Achilles. Not as strong as the previous books, SP feels a bit forced at times. The ending however will satisfy. (Rating: A- /B.L.: 8+)

Shadow of the Hegemon - Orson Scott Card

The war against the Buggers has ended...Bean and the other Battle School grads now face a threat just as insidious--Achilles. Deftly weaving military strategy with themes of family, ambition, and belonging, Card reveals his skill in creating believable futures. (Rating: A / B.L.: 8+)

Ender's Shadow - Orson Scott Card

Possessed with a terrifyingly powerful intelligence, Bean comes alongside Ender as they give their innocence to protect the human race. Told from Bean's perspective, this novel certainly does enrich the story found in Ender's Game though some readers may chafe as Card rehashes events. (Rating: A / B.L.: 8+)

Once an Arafat Man - Tass Saada

A former sniper for the Palestinian rebel group Fatah, Tass Saada now works to reconcile enemies in the Middle East who have fought for thousands of years. This powerful narrative of his conversion also helps the reader see Muslims and Arabs in a new light. (Grade: A / B.L.: 9+)

Brisingr - Christopher Paolini

Within Paolini's well-crafted fantasy world, Alagaesia, Eragon and Saphira strive to fulfill their promises to the various races united against evil King Galbatorix as his enemy's power begins to grow. Paolini's skill has improved: figurative language and descriptive passages are stronger, the prose is more gripping, and character development succeeds in drawing the reader into the lives of the characters. Story continues in book 4... (Rating: A+ / B.L.: 6+)

The Shack - William Paul Young
After tragedy strikes his family, a grieving father has an encounter with the Heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that reshapes his views of life and the problem of pain. The Shack reads a bit more like a shallow theological discourse than a novel, and Young's characterization of the Father touches on the irreverent side. However, it gets the reader contemplating truths vital to a full life. (Rating: B / G.L.: 6+)

A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

A tale of political intrigue, battles, and becoming, A Game of Thrones is set in a fantasy world where the seasons can last a whole decade. Martin follows the lives of a multitude of characters as they each face the fallout of a fight for the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. A bit lengthy...climax could be stronger. (Rating: B / B.L.: Adult)

The Infinite Day - Chris Walley

In the satisfying conclusion to the Lamb Among the Stars trilogy, Merral and the Assembly face their greatest test yet as the Dominion sweeps across the Made Worlds toward Earth. A tale of sacrifice and faith, prayer and redemption, The Infinite Day will be well worth your time. (Rating: A / G.L. 6+)

The Dark Foundations - Chris Walley

Merral and crew discover the truth behind the words, "a house divided against itself cannot stand" even as they wrestle with their own deceptive hearts. The action intensifies in this second of three books as Farholme is lashed by the storms of war. (Rating: A+ / G.L.: 6+)

Blue Like Jazz - Donald Miller

Gritty, No-holds barred non-fiction from Miller stands as the antithesis to modern Christianity and all its trappings. Read Blue Like Jazz for a challenge to return to the roots of faith, roots sunk deep into the real world yet not tainted by its curse. (Rating: A+ / B.L. 8+)

The Shadow and Night - Chris Walley

Finally! Modern Christian science fiction that can truly claim to be descendant from C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. Set thousands of years in the future on a Made World on the edge of the settled universe, Shadow tells the story of a Eden-like world that once more must face the corrupting, insideous evil that spoiled our world so long ago. Hard to summarize...a must read. (Rating: A+ / G.L. 6+)

1 comment:

Brandon Barr said...

thanks for the reviews.

I read Ender's Shadow and loved it.