Sunday, December 28, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Sandra McDonald

Well, the sequel to Outback Stars which was The Stars Down Under, was good, but not really my thing. The story goes from a military space opera adventure in the first book to a bizarre alien encounter metaphysical approach in the second. Kind of reminds me of the direction Orson Scott Card's Ender series took after the first book. The main female character, Jodenny, is as entertaining as ever, but the focus isn't on her. It's on her husband, Terry, whom I found to be somewhat annoying in the first novel, and who became even more needy and frustrating in the second.

As has been clear in previous entries, I prefer strong female characters, but that doesn't mean I want the males to be too weak, either. And while Terry's character has reasons for being so needy, he's just a little bit too out there for my taste. I guess I like my heroes to be larger than life. They can suffer, and fail, but not consistently. I want to see them rise above obstacles in the end, and while I wouldn't say the ending of this novel is complete defeat, I certainly wouldn't call the characters triumphant, either.

If there is a third book in this series, I will probably read it, but I'm hoping McDonald will return to the strength and action seen in the first book, and have a little less of the dream-like sequences which the reader is never certain are real or imagined.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Laura E. Reeve

Finished Peacekeeper by Laura E. Reeve today. This is apparently a debut novel, and an impressive one. It takes awhile to get going. That's its primary flaw. I didn't really get into it until around page 149. However, once it caught me, it really caught me, and I flew through the rest of the novel, barely able to put it down. And since it is clearly the first of a series, I can see why it might take a while to start flowing, but have high hopes that the next book will dump me right in the middle of the action.

On the frustrating side, Reeve does a lot of things in her book with her main female protagonist that I am attempting to do with mine. It's good in that I can see ways to improve from her strengths. It's frustrating, because I can see why her agent likely wasn't interested in my book. Though they are different from one another, there were enough similarities to dissuade an agent from taking on a second book in that vein.

Reeve has great skill in writing deep third for her main character, something my mentor has been working on with me. To quote my mentor, "You need to open a vein and bleed all over the keyboard." Reeve does this. I can feel what her character feels. Good stuff.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book Review of the Day - Sandra McDonald

The Outback Stars is the first novel in a new series by author Sandra McDonald. Although I had some issues with the spiritual direction the book seemed to take by the end, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and have already ordered the sequel in hardback.

Ms. McDonald's knowledge of the military shines through in this science fiction novel. Her action is fast-paced and engrossing. Her main character, Lieutenant Jodenny Scott, is a wonderful heroine, strong, yet feminine, vulnerable, yet self-sufficient. I wasn't as enamored of her male protagonist who was a bit on the weaker side, in my humble opinion, but Jodenny more than made up for that.

I enjoyed the Australian cultural touches. Reminded me a bit of Marianne dePierres. While the spiritual aspects threw me off a bit towards the end, I am suspecting that we will see an alien connection that will explain these aspects. That will certainly be interesting and is the reason why I am eager to read the second book in this series.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Book Review of the Day - R. M. Meluch

Well, I wouldn't want to be this author. (I mean, I would, but there have been some serious setbacks for her that she might not even be aware of.) When I went to multiple bookstores searching for the latest book in the Merrimack series, none of them had it in stock. And none of them planned to. There was only one Barnes and Noble in the entire Orlando area that was carrying the hardback, and it was far away from me. I ended up ordering it from Amazon. Hate to think what her first week's sales were like.

That said, it was a great read, as has been the rest of her series. This one, called Strength and Honor, continued the development of her wonderful characters and the ongoing battle between the Americans and the Romans, along with the ever present threat of the alien Hive. I don't usually read novels in which the protagonist is not a strong female. But I thoroughly enjoy this series. The main character, I suppose, would be Farragut. He's completely likable and believable as a hero. But I would call this more of an ensemble piece. It's full of heroes, some male, some female, all well-written.

If I had to make one complaint, it would be the constant rehashing of the old threats, the Romans, the Hive. However, Meluch does it all so well, that one barely notices and gets caught up in the characters which are her strength. I also love the number of "Ah hah!" moments that come at the end of her novels. Looking forward to the next one.