Tag Archives: read-a-latte challenge 2013

Aetna Rising by Erik Wecks

Subtitle: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell, Vol. 1

Published: 2012

Genre: science fiction

Length: 154 pages

Setting: Aetna, a colony moon of Unity, in the far future

Interest: It was a random book off my Kindle

Summary: Jack is in charge of the space station orbiting the tiny moon of Aetna. Unity set up a colony there to mine hydrogen for spaceship fuel, but otherwise leaves them pretty much along. This has allowed people in the colony to branch out of their corporately-defined roles. In Jack’s case, he does a little smuggling on the side. That all changes when an administrative vice president, Timothy Randall, and his team land and take over running the colony. Everyone needs to get back to corporate discipline and Jack is forcibly recruited to use his smuggling skills for Team Randall. Jack quickly realizes he’s in an untenable situation, but can’t figure out how to get out.

Final thoughts: This is just the first bit of the story found in Aetna Adrift. He definitely ends this part of the story on a cliffhanger and uses it as a teaser to the whole story. If you’re interested, get the full story and not just the first half. The author did a great job of showing what a repressive, corporate government would do to its people if everything was based on competition and greed. Jack does grow as a character in the story, starting as someone just going along with the flow and realizing he’d better make some difficult decisions by the end. I definitely want to know what happens in the end of the story.

Title comes from: The colony is on the moon Aetna and it’s importance is rising, for some unknown reason.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 97/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge (my last book read in 2013)

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Rabbit Redux by John Updike

Published: 1971

Genre: fiction

Length: 353 pages

Setting: Brewer, a small Pennsylvanian town, July 1969 (the moon launch and landing was on the news)

Summary: Janice decides to leave Harry (aka Rabbit), mainly because he’s refused to have sex with her ever since their baby died. Harry is left taking care of their teenage son, Nelson, worrying about his mother, who has Parkinson’s disease, and working as a linotyper at a dying printer’s. Harry ends up taking in a run-away teen, Jill, who keeps her place in the house by sleeping with Harry. Harry’s also convinced to take in Skeeter, a civil rights conscious, young black man who skipped out on parole. Skeeter tries to educate Harry and Nelson on the difficulties living as a young black man. He also brings drugs into the house, which Jill cannot resist. There is a fire and Harry’s house burns down, killing Jill. Skeeter leaves ,and Janice wants to come back, but Harry isn’t sure he want her.

Final thoughts: I don’t see the attraction to the Rabbit books that many of the critics have. I will say, there were a lot of major events going on in July of 1969 – the moon landing, race riots, war, drugs, sex. With all that’s going on, Harry just kind of floats along. He’s presented with Jill who expects she needs to provide sex to live with Harry, so he has sex with her. Skeeter shows up, and Harry lets him stay until Skeeter burns the house down, even though Skeeter makes for many difficult situations.

Title comes from: The main character’s nickname is Rabbit and it’s the second book he’s featured in.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 96/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and a U in my A-Z Reading Challenge author challenge (20/26)

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Freedom Incorporated by Peter Tylee

tyleepother09Freedom_IncorporatedPublished: 2005

Genre: science fiction

Length: 513 pages

Setting: various points on a future Earth

Interest: It was a random book on my Kindle that fulfilled a letter in my author challenge. You can get the book yourself at ManyBooks.

Summary: Jen, Samantha, and Cookie are activists working together to hack into corporate computers. They live in a world where advertisers rule, Echelon monitors all internet and mobile traffic, there are portals that can instantly transport you anywhere, and everyone has a microchip in their spine for identification and monitoring purposes. They are trying to open people’s eyes to the corporate control over everything, but are labelled as terrorists because of their actions. Dan Sutherland is a bounty hunter tasked with bringing Jen into custody, but she’s also being hunted by Raven, a cyborg who wants to kill Jen, and Esteban, who wants to turn Jen into a sex slave. Esteban captures Jen, and Dan tries to find her. In the process, he learns that the material used in portal technology is unstable. They all get into Uniforce (the company hiring the bounty hunters), kill the upper management, and put Jen’s father in charge of the corporation.

Final thoughts: This was a book that tried to do too much. I liked the world and the premise that corporations had essentially taken over all the public and government functions. The bounty hunter plot was nice – who was going to get Jen first? The by the book Dan or the crazy cyborg Raven? The problem was, we had about four other subplots running around as well – some revenge, sex slaves, a conspiracy to hide a technological problem, infighting at Uniforce. It was a bit too much to shoehorn into one story. A fair amount of blood, sex and violence as well.

Title comes from: The lack of freedom people in society had and the power of the corporations.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 95/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and a T in my A-Z Reading Challenge author challenge (19/26)

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The Sanctuary by Raymond Khoury

Published: 2007

Genre: thriller

Length: 432 pages

Setting: mostly the Middle East, present day, but also Europe in the 1700s

Interest: I was looking for an author’s whose last name started with K and remembered enjoying another of his books, so I snagged this one from the library.

Summary: We follow two distinct timelines. In the 1700s, Sebastian is looking to fix a formula while being hounded by the Prince of San Severo. There are hints that Sebastian doesn’t age as other men, and that’s why the Prince is after him. In the present day, there are several researchers and a soldier on the lookout for instances of the Ouroboros. There was an ancient secret society associated with the symbol that the archeologists Evelyn and Tom were researching. Jim Corben, a soldier, also discovered the symbol when he was trying to capture the hakeem – a doctor doing highly unethical research into longevity. They all come together when Farouk tries to get Evelyn to buy some smuggled antiquities, including a book inscribed with the Ouroboros. All the players try to obtain the book with the hakeem willing to use lethal force to reach his goal of immortality. Both timelines come together at the end of the book.

Final thoughts: A good enough story that was saved by a twist half-way through the story. It’s in the same genre as Dan Brown’s books  – take a bit of interesting, unexplained history, and fit a conspiracy/supernatural explanation to it. I enjoyed the setting and the flashbacks also added quite a bit to the story. I was glad they did find the solution to the formula in the end and the hakeem didn’t survive. I usually want the bad guys to get their comeuppance.

Title comes from: The place where the secret was discovered and kept for hundreds of years.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 94/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and a K in my A-Z Reading Challenge author challenge (18/26)

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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The Fighting Ground by Avi

Published: 1984

Genre: YA historical fiction

Length: 152 pages

Setting: April 3rd-4th, 1778 in the Northeast

Interest: It was the second book chosen for the American Revolution time period for our American History Club.

Summary: Jonathan wants to fight in the American Revolution, but his father is against it. They’re hoeing a field when the bell at the tavern starts ringing to gather men. Jonathan runs into town to see what the news is and ends up following a group of men into battle with the Hessians coming up from the next town over. Jonathan runs away from the battle and is captured by three Hessians. They take him through the woods and find a house to spend the night in. The family that owned the house is found dead, and their young boy hides in the cow shed. Jonathan manages to escape from the Hessians when they fall asleep. He meets back up with a group of Americans, and discovers the family was killed by the Americans because they were Tories. Jonathan is forced to lead the American soldiers back to the Hessians, and the Hessians are unable to escape.

Final thoughts: A quick read that does a great job at describing the ambiguity of battle. I (and the boys) liked how the story was set up as a series of short snippets separated by different times. The story takes place over a 24-hour period, which keeps it exciting. It’s quite instructive to see the change in Jonathan’s viewpoint starting out eager to fight to the scariness of the actual battle. Avi manages to describe some of the ambivalence of war and the difficulty of seeing one side as wholly good and the other as wholly bad without being too graphic.

Awards won: Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 1984

Reading challenges fulfilled: 93/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and 14/12 in the Award Winning Book Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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Kindred by Octavia Butler

Published: 1979

Genre: technically science fiction, but felt more like historical fiction

Length: 264 pages

Setting: mostly near Baltimore, MD around the 1850s

Interest: Butler is one of the Grand Dames of science fiction and also important as a writer of color. I’ve sadly never read any of her works and decided to rectify that omission. It helped that she fulfilled a letter in my author challenge.

Summary: Dana is a black woman living with her white husband in 1976. They’ve just moved to a new house when Dana gets dizzy and wakes up on riverbank with a young boy drowning nearby. She saves the boy, but is threatened by the father and wakes up back in her own time. Dana discovers the boy, Rufus, is her ancestor, and she’s called back to his side every time his life is threatened. Dana saves him each time to ensure her bloodline. She only goes back to her own time when she fears she’s in mortal danger, so she spends quite a bit of time in Rufus’ household as a quasi-slave. In one jump, her husband comes with her, but isn’t touching her when she jumps back to the present so he’s stuck in the past for a time. Dana tries to influence Rufus so he’s not so cruel to his slaves, but is only partially successful.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the book, although I have a hard time considering it to be science fiction. Yes, there was time travel, but it wasn’t ever explained. That’s fine within the story – you just accept that it happens and never really wonder how, but there’s no “science” to it. It’s more of a historical fiction book. I thought the same of Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, and as long as I approach it as a historical fiction book, I enjoy it much more than as a science fiction book. In this case, there was a black person from modern-day having to fit into antebellum Southern society. It’s amazing how easily Dana falls into patterns of the day and slavery. It’s definitely told from a unique perspective. When Dana’s white husband gets caught in the same time period but has a totally different experience because of his skin color, it really made you think. The transition back to modern life and the feeling that something was lacking was also quite thought-provoking. All in all, a good book, but I want to read one of her more solidly science fiction books as well.

Title comes from: Dana was always summoned back to save Rufus’ life and he was her ancestor. They are kin and kindred spirits.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 92/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and a B in my A-Z Reading Challenge author challenge (17/26)

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Published: 1955

Genre: YA portal fantasy

Length: 95 pages

Setting: London in the 1900s and other worlds

Interest: Mr. Curiosity chose the Chronicles of Narnia as his bedtime story. This is the first book in the series (according to Lewis, even if it wasn’t the first book published).

Summary: Digory and Polly are next-door neighbors and they go exploring in the attic in the hope of getting into the vacant house one house over. Instead, they end up in Digory’s Uncle Andrew’s room. Uncle Andrew fancies he’s a bit of a Magician and he’s managed to create a set of rings that can send the bearer somewhere else. Polly picks up a ring and vanishes and Digory has to go bring her back. They end up in a Forest Between Worlds with pools that take you to different worlds. They venture into Charn, where Digory awakens the evil Queen. She follows them back to London and wreaks havoc there. The kids manage to pull her back to the Forest and then they end up in a world that is just being created. They listen and watch as Aslan sings Narnia into existence.

Final thoughts: This makes an excellent read aloud book. The chapters are just the right length to be read easily in one sitting. It’s also a very exciting book from the first chapter, so I didn’t have to cajole Mr. Curiosity into giving it a bit more time and I promise it gets better. It’s a good story for either a boy or a girl since Polly and Digory play important roles throughout (although Digory gets in the most trouble because of his actions.) There’s a reason it’s such a commonly read book and series – it really is that good.

Title comes from: Digory is one of the main characters (along with Polly) and he’s the nephew of Uncle Andrew, the Magician of the story.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 91/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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