Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Sci-Fi”

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #43 – American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I’d read American Gods right around the time it came out, and really enjoyed it. Then Amazon had a deal for the 10th anniversary edition for the Kindle, and I jumped right on it. It was as good as I remember, maybe even better.

There’s too much going on in this story to give a synopsis – but I’ll give it a shot. Our hero is Shadow. He’s leaving prison because his wife died in an accident (giving Shadow’s best friend a beej whilst he was driving). Shadow’s pretty much a man without a country, with the loss of his wife, and his friend, who was supposed to give him a job. As he’s trying to figure out what to do, he’s offered a job by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. They travel around visiting all kinds of odd people – who turn out to be old world gods that were brought over by immigrants generations ago. Each time Shadow met someone new, I had to look him/her up on Wikipedia. There are a lot of gods out there I hadn’t heard of. Since then, I’ve down/uploaded every free book on world myths I can find.  Haven’t read them yet, but maybe for CBR5.

Anyway, Wednesday is gathering the old gods because we nasty horrible Americans have turned to new gods:  TV, computers, stuff like that.  That weakens the old gods, as can be seen by the way they are living now.  There’s going to be a battle between the old gods and the new for (I guess) the soul of America.

Like I said, there’s a ton going on in this story, which follows a number of the old myths, with interruptions by the CIA like new gods and Shadow’s own doubts and derailments. There’s a reason why Gaiman is raised to the level of demi-god himself. The man can spin a yarn. If you haven’t read this book yet, please do, Kindle deal or not.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #41 – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

OK, spoiler alert – Katniss and Peeta win the Hunger Games.  Makes sense, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a trilogy.  Their victory has inspired at least some of the population of Panem to rebellion. It starts when the winners are touring the country to celebrate their victory.  They return home, and get fancy nice houses in the same neighborhood as Hamish – they’re the only ones that live there.

President Snow is, of course, perturbed, and devises a fun way to punish Katniss:  The Hunger Games All-Stars! And of course Katniss and Peeta are selected. Each decides to protect the other, without the other knowing.  If that makes sense. So now we’re back to the Hunger Games, with the training, the tributes, etc. Some of the tributes are older, and some are not quite all there.  This time they’re in a kind of biodome of death, with water, fire, nasty trees and animals, and all kinds of fun stuff.

They team up with some of the other tributes to work together, and (spoiler alert) defeat President Snow’s evil scheme again. How’d this guy get to be president, if he keeps getting outsmarted?

Anyway, this was clearly a mid-trilogy book, but it was no less exciting and gripping than the first book. I’m interested to see how the movie comes out.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #40 – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is something of a tough one to review, since everyone’s read this book and/or seen this movie.  You know the story, so there’s not much I can say about that.  Blah, blah, dystopian not-too-distant future; blah, blah, plucky survivalist, yet of course also beautiful heroine; blah, blah, really awful way of keeping the populace in line.

We all know about the sorting, we all know about Katniss taking her sister’s place (people seem to think it’s a noble sacrifice, but I don’t know one big sister that wouldn’t do the exact same for her little sis). We all know Peeta adores her, he threw burnt bread to her when they were kids, and they end up having to play up that angle during the games so that people will root for them.

I held off reading these books for as long as I could, but when the movie was coming out I felt like I should. Then I didn’t want to like them, but I did. Are they the best written books?  No.  Does that matter?  Not in the slightest.

One caution – do not read any of these books at bedtime, especially if you’re the type who gets completely submerged in stories.  You’ll lose more sleep than you care to.

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #52 14 by Peter Clines

 *Audiobook Review*

It’s interesting that the quote on the front of the book mentions Lost, because I felt that this book suffered from the same problems:  it started out great, then couldn’t figure out what to do with the premise.  The less you know about this book going in, the better.

Nate has a low-paying data entry job and moves into a new apartment.  It seems too good to be true.  The rent is super cheap, and it even includes utilities.  There are just a lot of…oddities.  Like bright-green cockroaches.  With extra legs.  Locked doors that seem to lead to nowhere.  General weirdness.

Overall, I liked this book, but I felt that the ending was kind of….nutso.  Also, even though the characters all were very vivid and had a lot of backstory, there were too damn many of them.  I couldn’t care less about Nate’s crappy temp job, and it did virtually nothing to contribute to the story.  However, the mystery of the building was intriguing and I found myself searching for opportunities to listen to this book.  I would recommend it to anyone who likes their sci-fi with a dash of horror.

4/5 Stars

Oh, by the way…


 Third time was a charm.


The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR4 Review Supplement (#s 27-43)

In all of my reading and writing it would be easy to say that I’m thinking too much about books that are meant to be little dollops of entertainment. That may well be true, books may just be meant as minor diversions for over-stimulated minds. But through the past year I realized how the various reading role models I have had in my life taught me how to read, how to love reading and how to use reading to think.

So, after I finished my half-cannonball back in August I kept right on reading and thinking. Balancing all that work with the job I’m paid to do was a little difficult and I only just finished reviews for all of the books read in that span. Rather than reprinting some or all of those reviews here, I wanted to give any readers of this site access to my other site where they can read the complete reviews of various books that might interest you. (If you or someone you know–particularly an administrator–believe this is in someway a misuse of the Cannonball Read site, I sincerely apologize and will remove it ASAP.) Take a look, click around and see what you think of everything else I managed to read this year.

All reviews (plus other older reviews and fancy blog style shenanigans at The Scruffy Rube

Post 1 Book Club Books:

#27–The Unbearable Bookclub for Unsinkable Girls, by Julie Shumacher (2 stars)

#28–Frozen by Mary Casanova (3 stars)

#29–Matched by Allie Condie (2 stars)

#29.5–The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind  by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon) (2 stars)

#30–A Strange Place to Call Home by Marilyn Singer (illustrations by Ed Young) (4 stars)

Post 2: Mock Caldecott Award Candidates

#30.25–Oh No, by Candace Flemming (illustrations by Eric Rohman) (4 stars)

#30.5–Words Set me Free, by Lisa Cline-Ransome (illustrations by James E. Ransome) (4 stars)

#30.75–House Held up By Trees, by Ted Koosner (illustrations by Jon Klassen) (2 stars)

#31–Extra Yarn, by Mac Bennett (illustrations by Jon Klassen) (5 stars)

Post 3: Mock Newberry Award Candidates

#32–Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis (3 stars)

#33–Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood (1 star)

#34–The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate (4 stars)

#35–Wonder, by RJ Palacio (5 stars)

Post 4: Mock Printz Award Candidates

#36–Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick (4 stars)

#37–Code Name: Verity, by Elizabeth Fein (1 star)

#38–Year of the Beasts, by Cecil Castelluci (art by Nate Powell) (5 stars)

#39–Every Day, by David Levithan (4 stars)

Post 5: Books with lessons of the year

#40–Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (5 stars)

#41–Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor (5 stars)

#42–A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster (5 stars)

#43–Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (5 stars)

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #46: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Thanks to everyone who recommended this book.  It was fantastic.  I read it like a crack head needing their next fix.  I devoured all 400+ pages in about 5 days.

One rainy afternoon Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a park and she is surrounded by dead bodies.  She doesn’t know how she got there, or even who she is.  She finds a note in the coat she is wearing, telling her what her name is, and that she has the choice to go and live under an alias, knowing she will never find out who erased her memory, or to continue to live as Myfanwy Thomas and find out who did this to her.  Luckily for us, she picks option two.

It turns out that Myfanwy works for a branch of the British Government that is in charge of the supernatural, and more importantly, keeping the general public unaware that the supernatural exists.  Also, most of the employees have supernatural abilities.  Myfanwy can manipulate other people’s nervous systems.  Basically, she can kill someone with her mind!  The old Myfanwy had to directly touch people to do it, but she was also a bit of a wuss.  The new Myfanwy is a total bad-ass.  Even better, she’s a smart-ass.

This is a great sci-fi detective story, with tons of interesting characters.  Of course there is room for a sequel, but I would definitely read it.  This is the book that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children desperately wants to be.

5/5 Stars.

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #42: Redshirts by John Scalzi

*Audiobook Review*

Yet another great recommendation from anther Cannonballer.  This book was right up my alley.  I am a huge Star Trek nerd, mostly Next Generation.  This is a loving spoof in the vein of Galaxy Quest.  I laughed my ass off when I read the title of this book.

I listened to this book about 2 months ago, so I’m a little fuzzy on the details.  A bunch of brand-new ensigns have just been assigned to the USS Intrepid, the flagship of the Universal Union.  The reason for all of the new crew members is that low-ranking ensigns tend to die on away missions.  Like a lot.  More than all of the other ships in the fleet combined.  Understandably, this makes the crew a little nervous.

This is a great meta analysis of not only Star Trek, but entertainment in general.  Why do we need so many secondary characters to die in order for a scene to have the proper dramatic impact?  I loved this book, and I am recommending it to nerds everywhere.

5/5 Stars

pyrajane’s review #48: Switch by Carol Snow

Are you in the mood for some light paranormal YA?  Switch is one of those couch reads that you can breeze through quickly on some lazy day.  It’s not the kind of book that stays with you, but it’s an interesting premise.

Switch over to my blog for more.  (Get it?  Switch???  I’m clever!)

Robert’s #CBR4 Review #12: Ring by Koji Suzuki

Ring by Koji SuzukiThe challenge of translating a novel from another language is balancing the style and tone with the literal text. Lean too far towards literary flourish and you’re radically altering the content of the book. Stay too true to the literal text and you lose the nuance of wordplay in the original language that probably can’t carry over directly.

The English translation of Ring by Koji Suzuki poses an even greater challenge. The novel centers on a newspaper reporter and a philosophy professor who use the scientific method and many hours of research to solve the riddle of a potentially deadly video tape. Is the blunt prose the intended effect of Suzuki to best represent the non-fiction world of the two main characters? Or is it an unintended side effect of translating a medical sci-fi novel so couched in Japanese culture?

Ring, the inspiration for the popular Japanese horror series and blockbuster US remake, is a quiet investigative thriller. Read more…

Siege’s #CBR4 #39: Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson

In which Siege admits an embarrassing fact and enjoys a really good parody.

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