Friday, July 19, 2013

Ringworld by Larry Niven



Why I read this book?

This was the July official pick the Sword and Laser Bookclub.

What's the book about?

The book tells us the story of an unlikely group selected to go far in the unknown space and study a new world, if you want, that has been built by some other entity. The known space, threaten by a wave that will reduce everything to nothing and this just might be the perfect option to save several life forms.  

What was the thing I liked the most? 

It would have to be the world construction. The author was consistent with the language and environment construction in itself. 

What about the main character?

Louis Wu is a 200 year old guy, kept alive and young thanks to a plant derivate that the human species found years ago and that apparently almost everyone uses. He has lived a lot and through the years has developed a liking for being alone and far away traveling. He is supposed to be a smart and full of knowledge person, but it didn't read that way to me; he read mostly like someone full of himself.

Final thoughts

I didn't like the book...I didn't like a lot of things of the book. Teela Brown, the only main female character is portrayed as an airhead, ridiculous way of thinking, no logic at all...ugh! just frustrating. Louis, as I mentioned, is just full of himself and doesn't really bring much to the picture to be honest with you. I read someone's review saying that it was funny...really? I didn't see it, but maybe is just me. Also it was so slow!!!! I'm not a diehard Sci-Fi fan, but I expected some more action. During the first 100 pages of the book (about 30% of the book) they not even talk about Ringworld at all, is just the recruiting of the team that might be going on an expedition, but will they?. 

That said, I can see how this is a very influential book; as I said, the author is very creative with his world construction and even with language construction. I believe that probably, because this book makes part of a series, it works as just an introduction to the world. Unfortunately it did not make me want to continue the series. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Redshirts by John Scalzi



Why I read this book?

This was the official alternative pick for the Sword and Laser Bookclub for the month of July. As it turns out, I finished it before the main pick!

What's the book about?

The story follows several new recruits from the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, including Andrew Dahl. The Intrepid is known for having an exceptional amount of missions full of knowledge acquired, adventure...but also a lot of casualties, usually for the new recruits! But are this casualties inevitable? Or is there something more making them happen?

What was the thing I liked the most? 

This is the second novel I've read from Scalzi, and I loved Old Man's War. This book is very different yet as fast passed (in my opinion) as the other one. The story is quiet different too, but is very entertaining. But the part I liked the most (no spoilers) was the codas at the end.

What about the main character?

If I have to choose a main character it would be Andrew Dahl, although that would be appropriate just for the first part of the book (again, no spoilers). Once again a smart character by Scalzi. He came to the story seemingly for different reasons than adventure, yet he doesn't fear it. When the situation arises, he will be the one planning the way out...sort of. 

Final thoughts

I enjoyed this book a lot. I will admit that the first part was a bit predictable, and up to the first Coda I was planning on just giving it a 4, since it was entertaining but it wasn't giving me much more. Then the Codas happened and I was head over heels for the book. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Engn by Simon Kewin





Why I read this book?

I received this book as part of the LybraryThing Early Review and here is my review.

What's the book about?

The book tells us the story of Finn, a boy who grew up in a peasant society with the fear of being taken to Engn, a frightening place, full of machines, dark spirited men and uncertain perspectives of ever coming out again. As a I child, Finn sworn to destroy the very heart of it if ever he was to be taken in. 

What was the thing I liked the most?

I enjoyed the relationships built in the book, Finn and his family, with the woman in charge of communications and with his best friends, Diane and Connor.

What about the main character?

Finn is a boy that has settled his mind in doing what he promised, always. While this is a very nice quality, he is also stubborn in his ways. It pays off, sure, but I felt like there was no growth of the character, he was always right, he did no wrong. He is also very loyal to the people he loves, and also very bright. He is a good character, but as I mentioned he is a bit one dimensional and that makes him predictable.

Final thoughts

A lot of people said this is a steam punk/dystopian book, but I'm not sure about the steam punk part; yes there are some machines mentioned, I mean the name of the book references engines, but the whole steam part was not that big (not to my eyes) I would call it more industrial than steam punk, and even so. I'm also not sure it is settled on Earth, because at a certain point they talk about 18 hours shifts and called it half a day. Not that the book was suposed to be on Earth, but it was just never fully explained...but that's just tiny details.

As for the story itself, I thought the premise was interesting, but the whole machine world was not exploited (in my opinion) it served more like a background; I kept thinking that a similar situation for the characters could've taken place without the machine idea. 

The end was ok, not very exciting and unfortunately presented a lot of questions that were never answered, questions that would've given the whole machine perspective a better "aftertaste" for me.



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain



Why I read this book?

I first heard about this book through Bookriot and well...as an introvert myself I just wanted to see what Cain had to say about being one. When it finally became available at my local library it was just perfect.

What's the book about?

The book, as you may have guessed, talks about what it is to be an introvert; however it is not  book to "overcome" being introvert, is mostly directed to realizing the strengths as well as weakness having this character trait has. It also explores differences to a cultural level, and the last chapter is dedicated to raising and introvert 

What was the thing I liked the most? 

I liked how I could see myself reflected so much in the book, without feeling bad for it. You know how it can be painted as a negative trait, being quiet. The book shows different environments where you could find it hard to be a "more to yourself" person and how different people deal differently with their own limits.

Final thoughts

I really like this book. It made me appreciate more my extrovert friends, boyfriend (we both thought he was an introvert, turns out he is just a relatively calm person) and family members. It also made more grateful for the career choice I made, it's always nice to find more reasons to love what you do. It's not a book full of exercises to be more outgoing; is the story of different people that react to situations in a similar way that I do.

Although the book did not change the way I behave (at least not so far) it has made me more conscious of facial or body expressions I've grown used to having and how they might be taken by others. There were a lot of interesting "fun data" all over the book, like did you know that most introverts function well without sleep (this is not the case with me, but is not a black or white thing, you know), or that Introverts usually have a more sensitive nervous system than extroverts

Another thing I liked is that it doesn't say that being a extrovert is a bad thing either, mainly that we should appreciate the strengths of both and create working/studying environments that are more inviting for dual activity. 

The audio book is read by Kathe Mazur, and her voice is very appropriate for the type of book Quiet is.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella




Why I read this book?

This was right after a huge exam and after finishing The Historian...I needed a palad cleanser and Kinsella's books are just perfect for that

What's the book about?

The Plot is not that different from earlier installments of the Shopaholic series. Becky shops a lot but this time is pregnant. Also the "problems" that surge in this book are related to her impulsiveness, albeit not necessarily related to shopping.

What was the thing I liked the most? 

Say what you want about these books, but they deliver. You want something light, sometimes funny that you would read in 2 days and won't ask much of your brain? You got it.

What about the main character?

When I read Shopaholicand Sister I was starting to get tired about the fact that Becky seems to never learn out of the things that happen to her, also because she always manages to get out of them with relatively ease. In this book I guess I settled with the fact that she won't learn how to manage money, but she does a lot of the things she does with a huge heart. At least the characters around her change their ways a little bit once in a while.

Final thoughts

This book was exactly what I needed for the moment. Why am I not giving a higher grade then? Well, it might deliver, but it is quite predictable and you have to like the series from before to actually get this "far" in the story, so I wouldn't really recommend this book, per se. As a paperback or an e-book like in my case, it makes a very nice summer read.