The Results May Vary

Observations from my Mixed Up World

Books I Recommend

Here is what I am reading currently: (this page will be updated frequently)

River of Stars: Author – Guy Gavriel Kay – Genre:  Adult Fantasy/Alternate Reality

This is Kay’s second novel based on imperial China.  His last book, Under Heaven, was incredible.  I’ve only just started this one and the way that he puts together a story is so compelling.  It’s hard to put down.  This book looks at the lives of Ren Diayan and Lin Shan.  The former is a bandit with a social message and the other a young girl trained with the classical education of a boy.  I can’t wait to see how they collide.  More to come.  Stay tuned.

Here is what I have on my bookshelves:

Cinder:  The Lunar Chronicles book 1: – Author:  Merissa Meyer – Genre: YA SciFi/Fantasy

Cinder is a cyborg, a second class citizen in a semi-distopian future.  After World War 4, the Earth settled into a loose commonwealth of a few remaining countries.  On the Moon, the Lunar people are ruled by a maniacal Queen.  All Lunars have the ability to spin glamour – influence how others see and react to them – and they are feared by the Earthen people.  War looms on the horizon between Earth and the Moon and a plague strikes down the Earthen in seemingly random patterns.  This is the story of how Cinder becomes the ally of Prince Kai in attempting to thwart the Lunar Queen.  Cinder must battle her “owner” stepmother and her own sense of self-loathing to move beyond her existence as a mechanic and as the property of her stepmother.  After her own step-sister is taken in to quarantine with the plague, her stepmother “volunteers” her to be a test subject for plague research.  She becomes rapidly entangled in interstellar intrigue and politics.  This was an amazing read.  Took me less than 2 days because I could not put it down.

Everyday Living of Children and Teens – Monologues: – Author:  Adra Young – Genre: Non-fiction dramatic arts

Having a son who is an actor is pretty cool.  He’s doing thing and involved to groups that amaze me.  I’m actually jealous sometimes.  But there is behind the scenes work that can be grueling.  This book typifies one.  Actors need to audition and to audition they need monologues.  Finding good, age appropriate pieces is a real pain in the butt.  This is just one book among many that I’ve be searching through for the perfect monologue that doesn’t involve drunken parents, abuse, obsolete language or obscene language.  I did enjoy the monologue from the Greek comedy where the speaker was riding a dung beetle up to Mount Olympus and was exhorting all of Athens to not shit and thus distract his mount will he was making the journey.  Got me laughing, but not really for Milo.

A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag: – Author:  Gordon Korman – Genre: YA Fiction

When average high school jock  Sean becomes English partners with eccentric Raymond strange antics ensue.  Raymond is convinced that he must win a trip to the Greek island of Theamelpos to rid himself of his bad luck and sees Sean as his means to do it.  Classic Gordon Korman.  Totally funny and a great read so far.  Incidentally, Gordon Korman has 3 new books out right now and you can expect to see all of them listed her in the near future.

Lawn Boy:  – Author:  Gary Paulsen – Genre:  YA Fiction

Lawn Boy is a short story about a boy whose grandmother gives him an old lawn tractor.  When he gets an investment advisor as a client things start to go crazy.  By the end of the book, our lawn boy is the owner of a multi-million dollar portfolio, has a huge staff of gardeners and is the main sponsor of a boxer.  What a great 90 pages of fun.  And even better, there is a sequel.

Son of the Mob, Son of the Mob 2: – Author:  Gordon Korman  – Genre:  YA Fiction

Gordon Korman has been one of my favourite Canadian authors since I was in Grade Seven.  These two books are from the older teen section of his repertoire.  In them, Vince Luca, the son of New York’s biggest mob boss is determined to stay out of his father’s business.  Life gets very complicated when he finds out that his new girlfriend is the daughter of the FBI agent assigned to put his dad away.  Korman has an incredible talent for taking a situation and exploding it to such a hysterical farce that you can’t help but love him.  My wife reads his books to her Grade two class and they love the farce.  Books for younger kids include:  No More Dead Dogs, I Want to go Home, the Slapshot series, The Paper Towel Tigers, and more.

Quantum Gravity series: (Keeping it Real, Selling Out) – Author: Justina Robson – Genre:  CyberFantasy (alternative future)

In the 1990’s when I was in university, there was a movement to melt-weld classic fantasy and cyberpunk together that resulted in the Shadowrun series and some of Mercedes Lackey’s more esoteric work.  I thought that this sub-genre had died long ago, but here is Justina Robson resurrecting it in 2007.  A trip to the used bookstore found these for me and it looks like there are 5 books to date (which will end up on my e-reader).  Lila Black is a human spy whose mission into the elven dimension went very wrong and she was shipped home in pieces.  The spy agency spent a couple of billion dollars and welded her remains into a cyborg.  Her augmentations are pretty fierce and pose a major  psychological burden on her as she navigates various missions.  The setting has humans, elves, fairies, demons and ghosts interacting across a number of dimensions.  The stories stand up and the characters are developing nicely.  More for older teens and adults.

Mastiff (Beka Cooper series: Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff ):  – Author:  Tamora Pierce  – Genre:  YA Fantasy (non-earth)

Imagine a who-done-it series set in a Fantasy world where the police (called Dogs of the Crown) are so close to the criminals that it is hard to live apart.  The Beka Cooper series looks as inequality and social station as problematical in a modern state.  The characters are multifaceted and the plot is challenging to unravel.  Superior fiction for the fantasy lover.

The Uplift Series: (Sundiver, Startide Rising, The Uplift War)   – Author:  David Brin – Genre: SciFi (hardcore)

Earth’s society has been shattered by the knowledge that there are thousands of other space faring races, all of whom at some point of their evolution have been uplifted by another older species.  The patron – client relationship between races defines the political back drop of the universe.  To make matters worse, humankind is considered a freak since there is no patron species that claims them.  Earth’s citizens are split between a rugged individualist bootstrap ideology and an orphan complex of those waiting from someone to claim them.  If you like hardcore SciFi and a strong political spin on your reading, this set of books will delight.

The Son of Neptune: (The Heroes of Olympus book 2)  – Author:  Rick Riordan  – Genre:  YA Fantasy (modern setting)

  This is the second book in the follow up Percy Jackson series.  Percy has no memory and finds himself at Camp Jupiter, the camp for Demi-Gods of Roman descent.  He must undertake a quest with new friends while battling to regain his lost memories.  This expansion on the original five Percy Jackson books maintains the humour and originality of Riordan’s earlier works but expands into the ordered, marital world of Rome.  The characters continue to show depth and there is an equality between male and female leads.

Idoru:  – Author:  William Gibson  – Genre:  Science Fiction (Cyberpunk)

Written in 1996, this novel really demonstrates William Gibson’s gift as a visionary.  Set in 21st century Japan after an earthquake has destroyed most of the country, the book follows 2 characters sent to protect a rock star from his own self-destruction.  Gibson’s view of popular culture and how the media have become parasites is powerful and feels almost too real.

Protector of the Small Quartet:  – Author:  Tamora Pierce  – Genre:  YA Fantasy (non-earth)

This is Tamora Pierce’s third set of books set in Tortall.  It is one of her best written works and her ability to develop characters with depth really shines through.  The story follows Kel as she sets out to become a knight, the first female knight in over 200 years.  She faces the obvious challenges of a young woman set on success in a male dominated world.  Beloved characters from previous works reward long time readers by appearing in supporting roles.  Pierce avoids the obvious trap of making all of the male characters one sided or worse, stupid.  The writing is more mature than previous books and demonstrates real growth.

The Gathering  – Author:  Kelly Armstrong   –  Genre: Young Adult(YA) Paranormal

This is the first book in Kelly Armstrong’s new trilogy set in Otherworld.  She is an outstanding author who writes material aimed both at adults and teens.  Her characters tend to be very interesting and include a nice balance of  strong male and strong female roles.  This book is set in British Columbia in a very remote community run by a drug research company (that long term readers will know is actually a cabal of sorcerers structured like a mafia family).  Over the course of the book, you come to realize that the product the community is producing is not drug research but the children of the researcher who work there.

Mortal Coil Series: (Mortal Coils & All that Lives Must Die)  – Author:  Eric Nylund    – Genre:  Fantasy (modern setting)

Imagine that all of the gods and heroes of mythology are real and immortal.  So too are the infernal fallen angels.  Both groups vie for worldly power and control of resources with the struggle governed by an unbreakable pact to never interfere with each other.  On to this stage step Fiona and Elliot Post, the twin children of Atropos (Goddess/Fate of Death) and Lucifer.  Their mixed heritage may allow the groups to sidestep the centuries old pact of non-interference.  These two novels deal with how Fiona and Elliot step up and assume the powers and responsibilities that come from such a terrible lineage.  These two books are amazing and there are more books planned.

The Mortal Instruments Series: (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels)   – Author:  Cassandra Clare   – Genre: Fantasy (Modern Setting)

Cassandra Clare introduces readers to a modern world that is unaware of the struggle between good and evil going on around them everyday. A world where the Shadowhunters, the race founded by mixing the blood of humans with angels, govern over downworlders such as werewolves, vampires, warlocks and fairies.  They ruthlessly enforce the law and battle demonic forces to protect humanity from foes they are unaware even exist.  Clary Frey is a teenage girl who discovers that her mother is a Shadowhunter trying to flee her community.  The series follow Clary as she discovers and explores who she is and how she fits into a world that her mother fought to keep her away from.  It is a series that explores who we are and how much of who we become is defined by our families.

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