Saturday, November 29, 2008

Orson Scott Card. ENDER IN EXILE

If you know me at all, it’s no secret that my favorite author is Orson Scott Card and my favorite series is Ender’s Game. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to read ENDER IN EXILE.

First of all, it goes without saying that if you like any of the Ender books, you must read this one. The neat thing is, you could really read it anytime. If you just read ENDER’S GAME, this would be a great sequel. But it sort of continues the SHADOW OF THE GIANT timeline too. Or if you’ve already read them all, this is a wonderful way to get to visit the Enderverse again. (I’ve already read the series a few times, so a new book was a welcome gift to me).

Now I’ll get to the review. This picks up right after the war. Most of the children are going back home. But Ender, savior of the world, could end up being a pawn to anyone who gets their hands on him, so rather than be in danger on Earth, he’s sent to govern a new colony in space. Valentine knows she’ll never see him again on Earth, so she decides to join him. Peter had originally wanted him home, so he could use him for his own purposes, but realizes that he’ll be better off without Ender overshadowing him.

This novel tells the story of Ender at that first colony then follows him to another colony where his life is seriously threatened. But it’s really about a boy of thirteen figuring out how to live with the guilt of what he’s done. Several good people try to convince him along the way to forgive himself and move on (Graff, Valentine). However, he is the only one who can do that. It doesn’t matter how many people tell him to do it, he must find a way that works for him.

He finally does find a way. Or at least something that gives him great relief. I was hoping this would be the book where he found the Hive Queen.I loved hearing the story behind the writing of The Hive Queen & The Hegemon. I also enjoyed immensely seeing the interactions and relationship build between Ender & Valentine. I always loved the two of them together (almost as much as Ender & Jane).

One event that I wanted to know more about was how Ender went from "Ender - Savior of the World" to "Ender the Xenocide." It was mentioned in other books, but here we see step-by-step how the public opinion was manipulated. It’s actually pretty scary how easily that type of thing can happen.

This was an enjoyable trip, indeed. In fact, I feel like I want to go back and read more from the series.

If you’re a fan, you won’t need my prompting to read this one. If you’re not yet a fan, begin the journey with ENDER’S GAME and you’ll quickly become one.

Click here for Card's fantastic website.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Melissa De La Cruz. REVELATIONS

This is book 3 in the BLUE BLOODS saga.This series gets better with each installment. I highly recommend this one, if you haven’t read it. It’s really a great vampire saga. After the death of her grandmother, Schuyler is stuck living with her nemesis Mimi Force and her family. Mimi treats her badly, Jack acts like she doesn’t exist and Charles just ignores her. Her grandfather, Lawrence, has taken over as Regis of the Conclave and for some reason young Mimi has a seat on the Conclave. The threat of the Silver Bloods is greater than ever as everyone prepares for a battle they thought ended centuries before. When the Conclave is summoned to Rio under curious circumstances, they are greeted with a shocking surprise.
What I really like about this series is the way the author blends a complex historical world of angels and demons with the modern world of couture and high society. The characters are deeper and the world is more fascinating with each book.

As for this book, identities are revealed and more lore is explained, but many unanswered questions still remain at the conclusion, which leaves me anxiously waiting for the next installment. As depicted at the back of this book, it already has a title: THE VAN ALEN LEGACY. It’s on my list!
This vampire series is very different from TWILIGHT, but definitely worthy of just as much attention.

Check out the author's website
here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Adam Selzer. I PUT A SPELL ON YOU

Another unique & hilarious tale from Adam Selzer. The author takes the fervor that builds up around a spelling bee in a small town and weaves a tale of mystery, corruption and intrigue. The school in this small town is called Gordon Liddy Community School, the main character is Chrissie Woodward, and the principal declares "I am not a crook" near the end. If you're an adult, you're sensing the allusions to Watergate. If you're a kid, you may not be. Nevertheless, you'll enjoy the book either way. In fact, the day I brought the book home, my son grabbed it and commenced to read it all the way through in one sitting. Then a few days later, he read it again. I finally got my chance to read it and I enjoyed it as well.
Chrissie Woodward is the school cop, in a way. She's the hall monitor with all the special privileges that entails. She's been helping the administration by keeping an eye on the students and reporting any wrongdoings. However, as the all-school spelling bee approaches, she begins to witness occurrences that lead her to believe that the principal and teachers may be up to no good. She realizes that the students are actually the ones she needs to be looking out for. Through a series of depositions from the students and Inter-Office memos between the staff, readers are led through the small town of Preston's most memorable all-school spelling bee ever. Corruption will be rooted out!
This book has so many wonderful characters. For example, Mutual Scrivener is a home-schooled kid who is finally allowed to go to public school just because his parents think it's the only way he can enter the bee. They've been preparing him for the bee his whole life. But they're reluctant, because as they've been warning him his whole life, they believe the public school system corrupts and brainwashes kids. So, when Mutual attends his first day, he's actually excited to encounter some excitement for a change. But when he doesn't run into hooligans and gang members on his first day, he's terribly disappointed.
Fun, quirky & highly recommended!

Click here for the author's website.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pnina Moed Kass. REAL TIME

Wow. What an emotional, moving book. REAL TIME brings together multiple points of view from people from very different backgrounds. You get an up close view of the struggles between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We have Thomas, who is a German teen on his way to volunteer in Jerusalem, as well as research his grandfather’s Nazi connections. Vera left her home in Odessa for a new life in Jerusalem, and she is also escaping a sad past. Also, we have Baruch Ben Tov, a Holocaust survivor, with his own disturbing past. Throw in a few other people such as a suicide bomber, the family members of terrorists, and a doctor who gets interrogated and searched on his way to work, and you have quite a recipe for a profound story. These characters are brought together by a tragedy. We get to see how it affects all the people involved. Sadly, this type of tragedy is all too common in this part of the world. I was amazed at the variety of cultures coming together. Some relating better than others. Some clash and kill, while others intermingle and actually appreciate one another. The novel reads quick, smooth and suspenseful. Even with all the points of view, it never got confusing. Each story was equally intriguing and unforgettable.
Wow.
This is one that will stick with me for a long time, like LIFE AS WE KNEW IT still does to this day.
If the author has a website, I couldn’t locate it. But I found 2 interviews with her about the book, if you’re interested:(don’t read them until after reading the book – otherwise plot points are given away)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Michael A. Banks. ON THE WAY TO THE WEB

Yes, I rarely blog about nonfiction books. But this one really captured my attention. I’ve always been fascinated with computer and Internet history.
Especially when I found out people were online & communicating long before most of us. We tend to think the history of something begins when we encounter it for the first time (sort of egotistical of us).


Anyway, here are some cool facts that I discovered in this book:

*Many people think that the Internet was created to communicate during a nuclear strike – not so.

*People were using Internet forums in the early 80’s

*In 1980, big name newspapers went online in an experiment

*The first novel uploaded to the Internet (before the book was even published) was Ender’s Game in 1983

*Online games were in use the mid 80’s

*The first public Internet service provider opened in 1989

Wow! Can you believe all that was going on in the 80’s & more!

Most of people think of the Internet and the Web as interchangeable terms, but the World Wide Web really began with Tim Berners-Lee and his HTML, which he developed in 1990.

Anyway, there were way more people and companies involved with the evolution of the Internet than most of us realize. This book details all of the main points along the way. And it has a great foreword by Orson Scott Card.

If you are at all curious about the development & history of the Internet, you’ll love this book. There is also a timeline and glossary at the back.

It’s fascinating!

Plus, on the website there is a long list of early 80’s commercials for Internet service providers, like Prodigy and other services like DELPHI and playnet. It’s really fun watching those old videos. Don’t you love going back in time!

If you're interested in not only the history of the Internet & WWW, but also how it has looked over the years, check out some of these sites:
http://www.archive.org/web/web.php
http://www.dejavu.org/
http://www.livinginternet.com/