Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Collapsing Empire

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1)

The Collapsing Empire was such a pleasant surprise. After a gripping prologue and then a first few chapters that didn't really grab me, I settled in with this and loved it. There are three POV's here- Kiva Lagos who is the scion of a merchant house, Cardenia who becomes Emperox of known space after her father dies, and Marce Claremont who is one of the few people alive who knows that space as they know it is about to change forever. The premise here is that the Flow streams that allow humanity to travel the stars are collapsing, and when they do the human systems will be cut off from each other. Permanently.

Making matters worse is the fact that the current system gives each mercantile House a monopoly, so when colonies are cut off they are going to be drastically unprepared to be self sufficient. The fact of this is not lost on the few people who know this is coming, so you have a race to not only warn people but also the machinations of rival Houses who want to use this for their own ends. Kiva gets involved in this purely by accident when her and Marce's paths cross, while Cardenia becomes aware of this after taking over as Emperox and learning that her father knew all about it, and was in fact subsidizing research to verify it. The three of them become crucial to each other as the plot progresses and the scope of the conspiracy to hide things becomes clear.

This is a funny book as well as being an awesome space opera. I'd never read a Scalzi book before and I'm not even sure why I tried this one- it was completely a lark. Like I mentioned earlier the prologue was fantastic, and that sealed the deal. Then I was a little unimpressed by the first few chapters, but that changed fairly quick. I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did. I liked all three POV's and even the villains are grudgingly likable at times. Scalzi has a wry narrative voice and writes in such a way that he had me laughing at times even in the midst of peril.

Kiva in particular is a hoot. She's not necessarily a bad person but she's not exactly good either- she's loyal to her people but can be ruthless as well. Although once you get to know the various Houses that's not necessarily a bad thing, I guess, not if you're interested in surviving. Her and Marce made a pretty good team. And again the humor here is key. Scalzi has a way at times of almost breaking the fourth wall, of talking directly to the reader that makes for a very conversational tone. It's refreshing and different from other authors that I've read, but in a good way.

So I would say this is one of the better science fiction books I've read lately. The humor, the tone, backstabbing and dog-eat-dog nature of this universe had me skimming through the pages and laughing numerous times. I would caution that there are a lot of f- bombs in this one, so if that's not your thing just a heads- up. But otherwise I would definitely recommend this and I had an absolute blast with it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dog Days of Summer: Dog Tag

dogtag

I was tagged for this awesome Dog Days of Summer tag by Jo at Jo's Book Blog. Thanks Jo!! This tag is part of the Dog Days of Summer event being hosted by Jo's Book Blog and La La in the Library. I would definitely encourage you to go check out their posts as well- they're fun. Who doesn't love dogs??? 

I am tagging- 


QUESTIONS

WHAT WAS THE NAME OF YOUR FIRST DOG?

Prince. He was just a mutt and had an awesome personality. Unfortunately he was an outside dog, as my dad always kept them outside? I never understood that, and always wanted him to come in and escape the cold or heat. He would stay in the garage when the weather was really bad, but it wasn't the same. 

DO YOU HAVE A DOG NOW?

I do not, I have three cats but would love to get a dog.  

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BREED OF DOG? 

Not sure! I like Labs and Jack Russell terriers, and mutts are fine with me! When I was younger of course I wanted a Norwegian elkhound or a Malamute cause I thought they were awesome- and they are- but I'm over that. :) 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CANINE THEMED BOOK?

This one's tough as I don't read a lot of dog- themed books per se. I'll have to go with an old favorite. 

Related image

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FICTIONAL DOG? 

That's not hard. 

My Photo

WHAT IS YOUR TOP MVIE CHOICE WITH A FEATURED CANINE? 


DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A DOG OR A CAT PERSON? WHY?

Both? I would say a cat person only because I've always had cats (and I have three), but I had dogs growing up too and love 'em. There's really nothing better than a dog friend to lay down next to you and just be glad you're there. They really are the best friends in many ways. 

BONUS QUESTION
TELL US ABOUT A PERSONAL DOG RELATED MEMORY

When I was in college my aunt and uncle went to Florida and left their Yorky home with me to watch. His name was Dusty and he was awesome. They had him trained so if you pointed your finger at him and said bang! bang! he'd roll over like he was shot. Anyway he didn't know me from anybody so he was a little leery at first, but by the time they came back we were good friends (I was staying at their house watching) and it was tough to leave! 

Peanuts Revisited

Game of Thrones: Moqorro

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

Moqorro the red priest- a marginal figure in A Song of Ice and Fire, he only appears in a few chapters, but one could argue his importance to the story will be greater than at first imagined. Moqorro is described as a huge man with black skin and a mane of white hair, with flame- like tattoos on his face denoting his former slave status. He is called the "Black Flame" by the Greyjoy sailors who pick him up on their way to Slavers Bay. Why is Moqorro important? Well, he first crosses paths with Tyrion on the route to Qarth but is then blown overboard in a storm. He is found by Victarion ten days later adrift at sea. How does he survive ten days? And why does Moqorro want to reach Dany? 

Spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire. 

Moqorro is a red priest, like Melisandre. He sees things in the flames, tells Tyrion the Selaesori Qhoran will never reach Qarth, and he's right- they are overtaken by slavers and Tyrion is sold into slavery.  Moqorro is washed overboard before that though, only to be found by Victarion on his way to Meereen. The Greyjoy sailors want to kill him, but Victarion keeps him alive after the red priest tells Victarion he can heal his wounded hand.  

Moqorro was sent by the high priest of R'hllor to seek out Dany and ally with her, as she has been a breaker of chains and the priesthood of R'hllor is encouraging the slaves of Volantis to rise. Tyrion speaks to Moqorro in A Dance with Dragons as they are sailing. 

"Dragons old and young, true and false, and bright and dark. And you. A small man with a big shadow, snarling in the midst of it all."  

Dragons old and young? True and false? Could this refer to Dany and Young Griff (Aegon)- as a true and a false Targaryen? 

And when Tyrion asks Moqorro about the others seeking Dany, he gets this for his answer. 

"Only their shadows," Moqorro said. "One most of all. A tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood." 

This by the way is what blogger Poorquentyn partly refers to when he expounds on his "eldritch apocalypse" theory- the idea that Euron Crows Eye is going to use the devastation of both his fleet and the Redwyne fleet to bring about the rise of the Drowned God or some other monstrosity- hence the reference to a sea of blood. And there is some imagery to support this in the sample chapter for The Winds of Winter here, where Euron tells his brother Aeron what he has in mind. 

I'd like to just say here too- I'm pretty sure the prophecy of Quaithe mentions Moqorro among those who Dany should not trust. Here is what she said. 

"The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun's son and the mummer's dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal."

Kraken and dark flame? Pretty sure that's Victarion (or the Greyjoys generally) and Moqorro. 

"I thought the same, lord Captain... but he knows things. He knew that we made for Slaver's Bay before any man could tell him, and he knew you would be here, off this island."  

Even the monkeys fled the ship when Victarion reemerged from his cabin, his wounded hand smoking and charred, after Moqorro's "healing." Afterwards Moqorro served Victarion by foretelling things for him, and counseling him on how to use the dragon horn to bind dragons.  

The black priest pointed to one golden band. "Here the horn is named. 'I am Dragonbinder,' it says. Have you ever heard it sound?"

Your brother did not sound the horn himself. Nor must you." Moqorro pointed to the band of steel. "Here. 'Blood for fire, fire for blood.' Who blows the hellhorn matters not. The dragons will come to the horn's master. You must claim the horn. With blood."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Good Neighbor

The Good Neighbor

The Good Neighbor is a thriller about a woman who begins to doubt everything around her when tragedy strikes. The tragedy happens early on so right from the outset we see that not everything is right in her marriage. I thought this was a pretty good read, and at around two hundred pages it's a quick one too.

After something happens to change her life Sarah starts to notice things. Her marriage seems great and she loves her husband, but she begins to have doubts- is he having an affair? And there's something odd about the neighbors next door, perhaps she didn't know them as well as she thought. It's difficult to say much without spoiling the story, but I will say I mostly liked the characters, although there were times when I thought Sarah needed to buck up a bit. She's a writer and works from home, so she has a lot of time to think about things, which is probably good since the more she looks the more she finds! Some of it though may be just coincidence. Right?

I think the cover of this one captures the setting very well, as part of the story takes place in a secluded location. I did think some of the clues or red herrings were a little obvious but it wasn't a dealbreaker. Sarah tries to do the right thing and make a difference in other lives and that gives the story a multilayered approach. It was mostly realistic although the ending I thought went off the rails a bit. The biggest question is- how well do you truly know someone? Your husband or your wife, your family, friends- do we ever truly know everything, the deepest, darkest secrets? Of course we don't, and this explores what happens when some of that comes out. 

Top Ten Book Recommendations Thrillers

 

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is Top Ten Book Recommendations for Thrillers/ Mysteries. I've been reading a ton of thrillers lately and here are some favorites.  


What She Saw

A woman sees something she shouldn't. 

The Girl from the Sea

Killer twist. 

The Blue

Two women join a yacht crew and find love. What could happen? 

Emma in the Night



Gone Without a Trace

Friend Request

How Will I Know You?

 I Found You

The Woman in Cabin 10

The Lying Game

Tuesday Tagline #52

The Lying Game

Four friends. One promise. But someone isn't telling the truth. That... is not good. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

On The Run VII

The technician was halfway up the ramp, face down, and when they rolled him over they recoiled at the look on his face. He had died in terror, from the looks of it, his eyes wide and his mouth open- as if he had been screaming. Anna immediately shone her light down the rampway, but all they could see was shadows. Eric looked the technician over, found his ID card.
"Hamilton," he grunted. "Any idea which one this is?"
"No," she glanced over quickly. "I didn't catch their names."
This was wonderful. No other identifying information. He looked around, rubbing his forehead. This was not what they had wanted to find. What was going on? Can we ever catch a break?

"Let's not tackle that now," he said, nodding towards the depths. "Let's get up and see what we can see, see if the team is close, and go from there." She nodded and they retraced their steps back to ground level, Anna walking backwards with her rifle charged. Once they reached base level she knelt and left a small proximity alarm at the ramp and they hurried up the steps leading to the upper level.
"Well we know one of those guys isn't coming back," she muttered. "Think the other one is down below?"
"No idea. Doesn't bode well for him being alive though, does it?"
She just grimaced. They reached the second level and after a cursory look around kept on going. Eric wanted to get a view from the high observation deck that often surmounted these towers. When they reached the third level Anna did a sweep while Eric went right to the weird, beveled windows that looked out upon the rest of the complex. He could see for quite a ways, and there was no sign of movement.

"Clear," he heard. He turned back to explore with Anna, a little more relaxed. This was the level he always thought of as the library or leisure area- if the Precursors indulged in leisure. There was just a more comfortable vibe to it, and the machines that were  spaced at intervals looked almost like data interface points. It didn't have the same clinical feel that the lower levels did. And who wouldn't love the view?

He sat down with a sigh on one of the extrusions that apparently served as chairs for the long- lost race. They were made of a strange metallic foam that was entirely unknown to humanity, but they were comfortable enough. He fished a food bar out of his pack and threw one to Anna as well, who took up a position by the windows. He could tell she was freaked out a little, over that body. He was too. Knowing they were probably dead and finding one were not the same- especially when the one they found looked like he'd had the shit scared out of him.

He thought about their options. They had a strike team nearby, presumably hostile. They'd read the same log entry, know the technicians were missing and they had to know that he and Anna were here. So where would they go next? The answer was pretty obvious.

But why were they here? There could be any number of reasons, but the more he thought about it, the less likely it seemed that they would be here for any other reason than him. Although Anna was a target now too, he supposed. The way things were now- maybe they should just petition Control and try to sort things out at home. It was clearly out of hand.

He might have dozed, exhausted, when Anna roused him.
"Eric."
Shit. He got up and went over to see.
"Looks like they found us."
He nodded, counting.
"I see ten," he said. She nodded. "Same." They were moving with military precision, standard pattern, just coming out of the water now.
"They're going to come here first," she pointed out.
"They'll establish a perimeter first, then they'll come here," he replied. "We need to go."
Scrambling away from the balcony he took a last look around wistfully- he could have spent hours, days, here but that wasn't going to happen. Not now. They sailed down the steps, headed for the entrance. As it sphinctered open they could already see troopers fanning out across the complex. They'd have to be quick.

"Eric!"
That voice.
"Eric, are you in there? I just want to talk."
He almost laughed. How reassuring. 
"Eric, just you and I. No need for violence. Is Anna with you?"
Eric and Anna exchanged a glance, incredulous.
Andreas?