Showing posts from June, 2016

The Uplift War (Uplift Series)

The Uplift War David Brin, 1987 Hugo Winner - 1988 Premise: The inhabitants of the colony on the damaged planet of Garth know they are in danger. They don’t know why Galactic strife is focused on the species of Earth, but humans, chimps, and alien diplomats prepare to defend their colony from a larger societal struggle they barely understand. This book is technically a sequel to Startide Rising , but this is a completely separate story taking place very far away from the prior book. The events of the prior book have an impact on this one, but there is no need to read this series in order or in its entirety to comprehend the story. To recap the setting, these books take place in a future in which the sentient species of Earth (humans plus the genetically modified neo-chimps and neo-dolphins) have recently joined a greater galactic civilization. One of the major principles of this civilization is uplift. A recognized species can “uplift” a pre-sentient species into a spac

World War Z

World War Z Max Brooks, 2006 (audio edition 2007) Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award Premise: After the end of the Zombie War, journalist Max Brooks travels around the world to collect the stories of survivors, to keep alive the memory of an unprecedented struggle. Look, I finished an audiobook! It helps that a) I have a new commute that takes a long time, and b) this book is basically ideal to record as an audiobook. The structure of multiple narrators and interviews is perfect for this full-cast format. I can also understand both why Hollywood snapped it up for a movie and why the adaptation was reportedly terrible. This would be a fantastic fictional documentary, or a series of short films. It would not work as a single-character adventure vehicle. I really enjoyed listening to this book, although I went back and forth on how realistic I felt it was. The immediacy and detail of each account was n

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again Thanhha Lai, 2011 Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a middle grade novel Premise: Hà is just a girl when she must leave her home, her country, and seek a new life in America. Follow her family’s journey through a series of poems chronicling the year 1975. This was recommended by a friend who is studying children’s literature, and I can see why. It’s approachable and an easy read, but emotionally, culturally, and historically complex. Lai is writing directly from her own experience, as she fled Vietnam with her mother and siblings at the end of the war. I think the author fully succeeds in her aim to convey the emotional reality of being a child going through that experience. The narrative voice is shaped by the form, and the short, evocative phrases of the poems make tangible Hà’s ambivalence, her anger or sadness or worry, her hesitancy. They give the book immediacy in all the description of small details as well as

I Am Livia

I Am Livia Phyllis T. Smith, 2014 Premise: A retelling of the life of Livia, wife to the first emperor of Rome. I do love historical semi-fiction about powerful women. Last summer I read and enjoyed (but did not review) The Summer Queen, and it occurs to me how much Livia Drusilla and Eleanor of Aquitaine have in common. Both are daughters of important families who made a young political match. Both later left their first husbands to marry a young war leader: Livia to Octavius Ceasar (later Augustus), and Eleanor to Henry Plantagenet, (aka Henry II, King of England). Both exercised a good deal of political power, whether behind the scenes or in their own right. Both founded a line of kings. Both this book and The Summer Queen also took a similar approach toward their subjects: everything is based on verifiable history, but the truth of disputed facts is decided in the character’s favor, and unknown motivations or feelings are incorporated, of course. Livia is a figure more