Quick Hit: Science Fiction full of heady ideas and well-written characters.
So I’ve never written a book review before, outside of maybe some assignments when I was in high school. In one aspect, books are similar to movies, so you’d think it’d be a natural conversion for me. However, I don’t just love books like I love movies – books are literally a huge part of who I am. I’ve alluded to this time and again, but I don’t think it literally comes across how big of a fan of the written word that I am. Except that maybe I type longer reviews than I should, and many of you know that already.
I’m consistently seeking out new and entertaining books to read, particularly in the fantastical, the science fiction, and the horror genres. I tend to use the St. Charles County Library’s “books like this one” feature, and just go on long spirals until I found books that are interesting. And I really like book series too – I just find that so much more can be done with a story when it is branched across several books, and the author (or authors) don’t feel limited. In fact, most series tend to start with authors who feel their ideas wouldn’t be best served with just one book, but need them spread out over several. That’s what happened when Stephen Baxter and Terry Prachett began to collaborate on The Long Earth and its corresponding sequels. Today’s review will be an amalgam of all five books, but mainly focused on the last one, since it’s what I read most recently (obviously).
The Long Cosmos picks up the story of the famous stepper, Joshua Valiente, as he confronts yet another Long Earth crisis. For the uninitiated, consider a deck of cards, with the Datum Earth as the center in the deck. With a “Step” you can go into the next world, a parallel one that is like our earth, but different in miniscule ways. The farther you “step” the more different these worlds seem. And there are also other species of humanoids out there – from trolls, to beagles, to elves, and even a super human braniac race called “The Next”. There’s a lot to catch up on there, I’ll just say to check out the books, particularly books one and two – I was a bit indifferent to The Long Mars and The Long Utopia myself.
I found myself feeling this way for most of The Long Cosmos as well. With Mr. Prachett’s passing, Baxter alone completed the novels, and you can feel the difference in the language at times. A lot of big book series like these contain one of my biggest pet peeves, which is extra explanation as to who the characters are, what the rules of the world are, so to speak, and all together other things that if you read the books should understand already. I know that this is because most book series have installments released years apart, but just reread the previous books if you don’t remember everything.
Probably the best part of this book is its willingness to go deeper into certain versions of the Long Earth than any other has done to this point. Most of the series has been obsessed with going deeper and deeper, rarely stopping to smell the roses. Here, the characters tend to find themselves on one world, and stay there, and it makes for a much better book than the last two treks. Valiente finds himself stranded on a world, and the trolls become not only his saviors, but one older troll nicknamed Sancho becomes his teacher and his friend. I thought that the book series was at its best exploring the characteristics of other humanoids, and that’s why here I liked it so much.
It’s a decent conclusion to the series, but it sure ends quickly. Almost all of these books tend to realize that the end of the book is in twenty or so pages and rush along to a predetermined conclusion. It’s unfortunate, because most of the characters are well-written and deserve better. But, I’ll salute this Navy novel from my twain, with only one thing left on my mind – a better earth is just a step away.
Author: Sara Gruen
When I started listening to this audio-book, I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't read a synopsis before hand, I had just heard of this novel from when it was on the bestsellers list. Plus I had watched the movie Water for Elephants long ago, and since it's by the same author I thought I'd give it a go. W
Well, the book is pretty much about a young woman, who goes on a journey to Scotland with her husband and his best friend to search for the Loch Ness Monster. That's all fine and dandy, sound completely interesting. But the book is so much better than that. It's full of the main character finding herself, finding true love, and finding out the truth about her husband... all while being in a different country across the ocean from her home.
The author also takes the reader back to before Maddie met her husband. When she was a teenager, how her parents were and who they are now. Her mother was a melodramatic woman who commited suicide, and her father cared enough to get her in the best private school, but that was pretty much it. Once she met her husband and got married on a whim, their relationship seemed to dive quickly.
In Scotland, while the boys were off monster hunting, Maddie became close with the workers in the hotel/inn she was staying out. Learning their ways and becoming close friends. This is the part I liked about the book. It wasn't until she started expressing her attitude towards the locals and changing her attitude towards her husband that the book really got good.
Man did I hate her husband and honestly, I felt like the ending was perfect. At the Water's Edge was a good listen. I give it a 4/5 stars as it was not as exciting as some other things I've read. But still worth the read for sure!
Author: B.A. Paris
This will be my first ever book review written. I’m trying to read (or listen… I love audiobooks while sitting in rush hour traffic) more so I thought it might be a great idea to incorporate my thoughts on this website along with David.
Behind Closed Doors tells the story of a couple who seem to be the perfect couple. Jack and Grace have the looks, the charm, the wealth, and the elegance of a perfect marriage. But that’s all is seen on the outside. Behind Closed Doors, Jack and Grace are not so perfect and this book sends you in a fast paced tale of a psychopathic man and the strong will of a scorned woman.
SPOILERS from here on out.
Jack is a character that you could pull right out of a Criminal Minds episode. Feeding off the fear that he instills in Grace, it’s how he gets off. Jack tricks Grace into marrying him (being charming until the day of their wedding), he convinces her to quit her job, sell her house, and allow her autistic sister to move in with them. He doesn’t really care if he has Grace, Jack just wants her sister, because the fear from a young autistic woman is everything he has ever dreamed of. The fact that he only cares about the fear is a bit interesting to me. He never does anything sexual to her and he never beats her, just the sheer fact that she is terrified is all he needs.
Grace on the other hand, is putting up with it for two reasons. One, she just can’t get away. Each time she tries, he doesn’t allow her to see her sister, which is basically her most loved thing in the world. And second, she’s trying to find a way to not allow her sister to move in with them, to save her in some way.
The relationship between Grace and her sister is a great one that I loved hearing about. Though having autism, she seemed to be smarter than Grace in a lot of things, which is excellent. She even was able to find the way for Grace to get rid of her husband and save the both of them.
Esther is a new friend to Grace, and honestly I really enjoyed their blossoming relationship (well what little they had. I found myself tearing up at the end of the book when she offers her help to Grace.
One thing that pissed me off was the dog. I’m just glad that the author didn’t go into grave and gory details in this. I almost started crying even though it was completely obvious that the story was going to take me to that point. And it made me hate Jack even more than I already did.
I enjoyed what little suspense there was in the beginning. While they were dating and while they were at dinner with their friends (the first past and present scenes) it was obvious that something wasn’t quite right with Jack by the way Grace talked, but it was unclear as to what would happen. At least until they got to Thailand, then the plot spiraled up and up until the end of the book. It was a pleasant thing to listen to (audiobook this time… I found myself thinking in Georgia Maguire’s voice a lot while listening to this book).
Behind Closed Doors is full of anticipation after each time we are told past and present events. The ending was perfect and I definitely recommend this to people who love thrillers and Criminal Minds (my favorite show by far!). I would be interested in reading some of Paris’s other books: The Breakdown and Bring Me Back which is being released this summer. I’ll give it a 5/5 for my first ever book review!