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Non-Fiction

This is the first of the non-fiction books I'm allowing myself to review here. It's a very interesting relationship aid and takes a somewhat unconventional look at relationships. It addresses the fact that Women and Men are different on many levels, and because of those differences, inner priorities are hardwired differently. As such, the messages that we need to send have to be quite different from what we would like to send so that we can properly be understood.

Dr. Emerson Eggeric draws heavily from the position of Christianity (being a pastor, not surprising), but the advice it carries towards relationship building is invaluable to any couple: established or budding. Not something that can be read swiftly, it is better read in chunks and allowed to digest. Aside from the berating of those who do not walk the Christian line and the attached implication of any non-Christian marriage is doomed to fail anyway, it was well worth reading.

7/10
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In the chronological next after Solo Command, Princess Leia faces an interesting set of options... ones that could save or destroy the Republic and her personal life. Prince Isolder, son of the Queen of sixty three worlds seeks her hand in marriage. Han seeks to equal or better the offer of the prince. Luke, for his part, continues to seek answers for questions he barely understands as a Jedi. And lurking in the shadows is an ancient evil that even Palpatine feared... an Evil that will be faced when Han goes for one last Sabaac game putting everything on the line.

Dave Wolverton weaves the story of how Han sought Leia's hand in marriage deftly and highlights the on-going quest of Luke to restore the Jedi to their former glory. Set shortly before Heir to the Empire, it is tender, quick paced and a very enjoyable read.

8/10

374 pages


 
9 / 26 books. 35% done!
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The Super Star Destroyer that Warlord Zsinj tried to capture has been destroyed... without loss of life. Wedge and Han finally feel that they are getting the upper hand on Zsinj who, for his part, cannout understand how he got second guessed. But Zsinj is nothing if not resourceful and he throws into action a set of plans that will cripple the New Republic, even if it is uncovered. And Wraith Squadron, reinforced with it's new pilots is having more than a few dificulties. Plus a traitor within is having a crisis of concience. If uncovered, she would be tried for treason for being the greatest threat faced.... yet she is also their greatest hope.

Aaron Allston concludes the third in this trilogy expertly, tying into events in other books while building on his own narrative. Enjoyable, full of action and humour, he keeps the reader guessing, yet provides clues as to what people will do and how they will act. Excellent for reading over a couple of days.

10/10

341 pages


 
8 / 26 books. 31% done!
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Second in the Wraith Squadron series, Iron Fist continues the chronicle of the new Wraith Squadron formed by Wedge Antilles, a squadron that has been baptised by fire. With members lost in combat, they are re-stocking their ranks with volunteers. But Warlord Zsinj has plans within plans and seeks nothing other than the establishment of his own empire, and will stop at nothing to do so. With a Super Star Destroyer and other capital ships at his command, as well as a seemingly uncanny ability to manipulate the New Republic, Wedge and the Wraiths take the guise of Pirates, working with General Han Solo to lay a trap for the warlord. But time is starting to run out - Zsinj is planning something... and the Wraiths are striving to uncover it.

Aaron Allston keeps the pace running in this installment and injects randoms bursts of humour that can catch one unawares, laughing hard. He describes what those who face death every day do to keep their sanity, and how risk can breed not only fear, but courage, strength and affection.

9/10

310 Pages



7 / 26 books. 27% done!
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The fifth book of the X-Wing series, this is book picks up the activities of Wedge Antilles and the formation of a brand new squadron.... with a critical difference. Rogue Squadron had been re-formed by Wedge (see books 1-4 in the series - I'm not reviewing them as this challenge is for one's I've not read) with the side quality of commando capability. The new Wraith squadron was the reverse - Commando first, pilot second. Their growing pains, losses and triumphs against one of the last imperial warlords is deftly narrated by Aaron Allston and as they head towards a powerful climax, you find yourself emeshed in seeking to understand what honour really means... and how much can the human spirit survive when death is ever present. But most importantly of all, Wedge is on a race against time. Prove the worth of the squadron within three months.... or be forever removed from commanding any fighter unit.

Pages 406

Rating 8.5/10

 


 
6 / 26 words. 23% done!
kiwifruitbat: (Reading)
Blimey! Been way way waaaay too long.

This is effectively 4 books in one - thank you readers digest. They are not overly long, condensed to 150-300 pages each, but all good.

A Doctors War recounts the joney of a young doctor in the Royal Australian Army during World War II from his posting to Singapore to his capture and eventual release from the Japanese, and a brief of his life afterwards. It's a very haunting and harrowing read and you find yourself praying that he will survive without losing too much that makes him who he is. The tale is so strange, it could almost be fiction... but it is very true.

Mahboba's Promise is the autobiography of an Afgani woman when she grew up in Afganistain and tells of her life, her loss of home, family and way of life to invaders of all sorts and her flight to try and find a better life... and the promise that she made to try and help people back in her homeland.

The Ship Thieves is the gripping tale of James Porter, a colourful and shady character who was convicted in England and sent to Van Dieman's land in 1823. It is well researched and as closely narrated as possible with references to goings on at the time and how he worked his way through each ordeal.... until he reached a point of seemingly no return... and the choices that drove him.

Marley and me is the tale of a couple who buy a Labrador pup without researching into it first enough... and the utter chaos that results. Lovable, warming and gripping, the writer opens his heart and takes you through the joys, strains and trials of being husband, father and dog owner to a dog branded 'untrainable', and how he managed to cope with each new stress and strain that arose.

Highly recommended, and I really recommend tracking down the individual books and enjoying the un-condensed versions.

10/10.
575 pages.


5 / 26 Books. 19% done!
kiwifruitbat: (Reading)
I'm a little slack for the update here.

Ray Atlee is a lawyer / teacher who has managed to get a decent living despite a nasty divorce. His brother is rarely spoken to, and his father in Clanton, Mississippi is remote enough to have almost no influence in his life anymore. That is, until Ray receives a letter from his father, Judge Atlee. Such is the influence of the old judge that Ray knows that he and his brother must attend what may be the last summons as the old man is very ill. But when he arrives, Ray finds that his father is dead from peaceful means and that he has left a secret fortune that Ray uncovers. But the night following the death of his father, Ray learns that he is not the only one privy to this secret... and that the other person seems to want to keep Ray silent. Even if it means killing him.

The Summons is typical of John Grisham, with a lawyer as the central character and having to deal with a complex problem of morality as well as finding that the line of the law can be all too easily blurred. In contrast with some of his other works, the lead character proves more than human in his succumbing, even as he seeks to prove that the money is not dirty or fake.

Also typical of the author is the very slow build of pressure with occasional letting off of steam. As a result, it can take some swallowing to get through, however it does leave you with rich characters and a very believable storyline - that it could indeed be happening even now.

All in all, it is a passable read, something to nibble at over a few days until it manages to hook you half way through as the plot and intrigue start to become more evident. And in true Grisham fashion, the twist when it arrives can be both expected and a surprise.

Pages 300
Rating 6/10


4 / 26 books. 15% done!
kiwifruitbat: (Reading)
To Arms is set in the tumultuous times following the American Civil war. Belle Boyd, once a loyal southern spy, now an equally loyal member of the US Secret Service is on the path of a band of men who would see the south be allowed to depart the Union. Through murder and intrigue and in some cases luck, she uncovers lead after lead. But the question that hangs over her head - has she stumbled upon her leads too late and worse yet, can she betray those whom she once served?

Written with a grace and flow, J.T. Edson has no qualms about casting a woman in the lead role in this series. Belle Boyd is capable, resourceful and determined. She takes advantages of men who dismiss her as 'just a woman', playing them to her advantage. It was a very enjoyable 2 hour read, a nice short book that gave a bit of insight as to what may have happened in those days.

The only major problem with it was also it's strength - references are made to other characters and past events that are in other books, yet in those references unnecessary detail has been omitted. it draws soley upon the information needed for the here and now. There is also a flashback that takes up half the story, but is used to explain why the characters do what they do.

Having come into the series half way through, I don't feel at all disadvantaged as enough insight is given to the main character that I was able to enjoy the book completely and note that the references drawn to the previous books would flesh out even the supporting cast should I so desire.

Excellent for a short read to whittle away an hour or three.

7.5/10



3 / 26 books. 12% done!
kiwifruitbat: (Reading)
An interesting read. Whacker McCracker is a man who has anything but a normal life. 5 ex-wives who all keep themselves involved in his life, a reputation for oddities and strangeness, as well as a knowledge of shady deal. Still, he's maganed to get  a cafe running on Waiheke Island where the pace of life is much slower and things seem to be settling down somewhat. Until his Aunt Dot - a Harley Davidson riding, pig loving, tetoller in her mid seventies buys a vineyard and declares she's going to make it a piggery.

His name already dubious, Whacker can see only disaster until he manages to convince his Aunt to make it a winery, catering to both the Christian church and to the non-elitist masses. Whacker thinks that things are indeed going his way - then his ex-wives open a shop that mocks him, his aunt wants a chapel put as the main distribution point and worse - a 20 foot high statue. Surely things can't get worse?

Whacker McCracker's Vineyard is an enjoyable read, unpretentious and crass, yet somehow keeping some taste and class. It's humour is distinctly a New Zealand blend that non-kiwi's reading it might not get. It moves at a good pace and the chapters themselves are fairly short. It has an organic feel about it that keeps the characters alive and active as well as keeping a check on the book going too far from reality when it starts getting fantastical. Even the major arm of the law - a man who is disliked by the main character - is developed and fleshed out, and not above delivering a few small surprises of his own.

There was little that I did not like about the book - the story keeps going and summarizes the developments as they go on, as such keeping the flow of the book smooth. The language might well be found crude by some, yet it is very much a part of the lifestyle in some areas in New Zealand, especially in more rural areas - blighted though it may be in the eyes of other residents.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable read and had me laughing hard at parts. With a quick pace and natural rhythm, it was easy to forget that over two years passed in the span of just under 240 pages. Light reading, excellent for holiday vacations or the long drive but not suitable for small kids. Nothing is taboo here, even the gay and lesbian community has it's own laughs, both at themselves and at others. In a community where it's personality that really matters, Whacker McCracker finds that even when you know someone really well, you still don't know them at all.

8/10


2 / 26 books. 8% done!
kiwifruitbat: (Reading)
I set myself an interesting challenge to read this book, and found it hard going to get through. Comprising three 'books', each with several chapters, the language is of Victorian era and sadly the characters were more puppets on a stage than real characters.

The major characters are Sissy Jupe - the daughter of a circus performer, Mr Bounderby - a self made man who never lets people forget he came from the streets into influence, Thomas Gragind senior and his two children Louisa (marries Mr Bounderby) and Thomas junior (loves his sister and squanders his fathers money) and one Stephen Blackpool, a worker at the mill owned by Bounderby.

Lousia laments her childhood being lost, knowing that she has lost something, not what she has lost. Thomas for his part simply wants to escape the regime laid down by their father. Sissy Jupe is abandoned by her father (a circus clown) when he cannot make people laugh, and she is also failing in school. As Mr Gradgrind has a vested interest in his system of "Facts" working perfectly, he takes Sissy into his house to better educate her.

Stephen Blackpool in this time goes about his business, lamenting his marrige to a drunkard woman (as you later learn) and that there is no recourse for escape. His marriage was until death do you part. He loves another woman, but cannot be with her because of the laws.

Mr Bounderby proposes to Loo and she accepts, seeing as she has nothing better to do. She even remarks to her father that she cannot express the happiness and joy an unmarried young woman is supposed to express to such a proposal as she was never given the chance to learn how. The marriage being one of convenience and not of love slowly cracks in the second book and shatters at the end of the second book.

Bounderby is revealed to be a man in love with his own voice. He expresses his opinions loudly and frequently, trying to always be centre stage. This sadly carries on throughout the 3 books. Fittingly, his death is ignobious and not at all important - he dies in the streets, pennyless. The irony is that by reading carefully, one can see that the stories are not always the same. In fact, he did not have such a hard childhood as he maes out.

Thomas Junior simply wants to be free of authority and equally loves his sister, sadly this twist causes him to borrow ever increasing amounts from her, either in goods or cash. she loves him in turn and provides what he wants thinking nothing of it.

The book twists and turns in the village of Coketown and in the end, you never really feel that you get anywhere with it. There is but one happy ending and that is of Sissy Jupe who raises her children with love and laughter.

Not the best book I've read, though the reflection-look at Victorian life and ethics provided by Mr Dickens is interesting. A pity that the characters were not as rich as they could have been.


1 / 26 books. 4% done!

My first review here. I need more practice..

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Alan

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