Review: Domino

Domino
Domino by Kia Heavey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Domino is a highly imaginative and surprisingly poignant look into the life of a barn cat with a big heart and a proud mind. At first, Domino’s life is going quite well. He has a peaceful territory to keep watch over, the dog is on a leash, he can prowl with buddies at night when he wants, and his people feed him well to boot. Oh, and there’s this cute little black cat in the neighboring woods! But the good life takes a turn for the worse when a spoiled city cat with delusions of grandeur brings ‘transcendent thought’ to the neighborhood. The result is an overthrow of the natural order that threatens Domino, his friends, and his very way of life.

If you are cat person like me, the spot-on interpretation of behavior and ‘thoughts’ of the furry denizens of Domino’s world will have you turning pages non-stop.

If you like a good moral to a story, you are also in luck. The theme here is that you should always be who you were born to be. Be yourself, stand up for what you know to be right, and defy those who would force you to become defenseless!

I’ll say no more about the plot, but I will say that the writing was seamless. The character development was pure. The feelings evoked were strong. I can heartily recommend this book to anyone. The only caution I give is that there are some sad parts that can make you cry, especially if you have a tender heart for animals. Even so, you shouldn’t let that stop you from enjoying the ride!

I give this book 5 stars and call it an Amazing Read!

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Review: Parallel U. – Freshman Year

Parallel U. - Freshman Year
Parallel U. – Freshman Year by Dakota Rusk

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Have you ever eaten a picnic on a beach and maybe had some food that’s gotten sand in it? The food can taste fantastic, or you might be completely famished, so you keep on eating. But every now and then you get that horrible grinding crunch in your teeth. And every time, it almost makes you want to stop eating because even though you know it’s just a bit of sand… there’s still dirt in your food.

That’s how this novel made me feel when I read it. It has finely sifted grains of liberal sand scattered all through it. I did manage to make it to the end, and I did enjoy the story… but ptoowey on some of it.

I wanted to give this book 3 stars at first, but after working on this review, I realize I can’t.

First, the book is Science Fiction, but definitely what I would call YA. That’s not a bad thing, I’ve read some decent YA books in the past. For this one though, there’s a bit too much Y and not enough A for the age group it depicts. It begins with a young woman who is about to start college… a very unique one. Parallel University is a college set up to bring students together from various parallel Earths in order to share their differences. That’s the science part. And that’s about the only ‘real’ (theoretical) science you’ll get.

From there, we dive into tropes, teen angst (female mostly), and many grains of liberal sand. The story is not bad. The writing is not bad. It had to be that way, or I would have stopped at about 10%…then 23%… the 47%. After that, I was determined to finish no matter what. I had to know how the story would end.

There are some light spoilers below, so read ahead at your own risk if you plan to check the book out.

The first grain of sand I found almost made me chip a tooth (a.k.a. book drop). It was the girl finding out that the ‘electrical field’ of her ‘body’ was shifted by the nuclear war that had occurred in her parallel Earth. This ‘field’ followed her to Parallel Prime and resulted in shorting out any electronic stuff she happened to be near. smh I really hoped this little science stinker was a quick whiff to make her not have a cell phone or something. Nope. It is a major plot point. crunch

Next we have the ‘everyone must come together to share their diversity at college’ trope crunch

After that, it was like going down a check-list of liberal thought &/or teeny-bopper dreams every other chapter.
vampires crunch
transgenderism crunch
pagan religion/witchcraft acceptance crunch
token homosexual character crunch
all the dorms are named for scientists known for liberal ideas crunch
boy crush/girl crush/triple crush triangle crunch
everyone is better than me – wait, they’re jealous of me? I guess I am special crunch
bullies are truly evil crunch
bad guys appear and tell the good guys they details of their evil plan crunch
evil corporations are the bad guys crunch

The characters seemed like they were mostly made up to showcase a particular interest the author had. They had quirks that derived from their particular parallel Earth, but the science or divergence factors used to justify them were trite at best. The antagonist falls madly in love with the vampire boy, even though they barely know or even talk to each other, and he creeps her out most of the time. omgwtfbbq It’s all a mishmash of girly dreams and luck that brings the ‘heroine’ to the climax. I persevered and finished the book, but the ending was very lack-luster and was just not believable to me.

Even a YA novel should have characters that grow up. And the Science homework was definitely not done very well. I can’t recommend this one. I give it 2 stars and call it an Immature Read.

View all my reviews

Review: Bastion Saturn

Bastion Saturn
Bastion Saturn by C. Chase Harwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My interest in this novel was peaked when I read about it on the Kindle Scout page. I voted for it and received a free copy when it won the contest for publication. Having read Chase Harwood’s Of Sudden Origin, I already knew the potential for a good read was there. I wasn’t wrong!

Bastion Saturn is about Wild West Cowboy Space Pirates and Evil Artificial Intelligence!

Well, not exactly, but the elements are there. The action is pretty much non-stop, which made it a page turner for me. The background setup is of an AI + Human Hive-Mind Singularity in 2101 forcing non-conformists to escape to space. The AI feels threatened by their very existence and takes steps to remove the threat. That dread permeates the entire work.

The struggle to establish a viable existences on the many moons of the Saturn ring system encapsulates the actions of the main characters. They come at you fast paced and fully formed. Caleb Day, the petty thief and general wanderer, annoyed me at first. I guess he was supposed to though. He finds himself in the middle of a corrupt Police action where – finding his conscience isn’t as sadistic as the other participants – he ends up throwing his lot in with the fleeing refugees. One of those, a very attractive woman named Jennifer, is also somewhat more than she lets on at times. They end up in a series of unpleasant moon hopping situations as they try to find a new way to make it in the Saturn system.

Character development isn’t a main component of the book, although there is some, especially for Caleb. The general direction of change is more of a getting-to-know-each-other kind progression where familiarity and acceptance between them bonds the gang together in a way that works. There is quirky humor employed in the book. I had a few eye-rolls at some of it. A couple of times I felt like I was missing an inside joke as if the author forgot to explain the lead in part. Hard to put my finger on though. Still, I can remember the character’s names and their quirks, so they left an impression.

I found the science to be believable and fun. It may not be as detailed as I sometimes like, but the trade-off is the action. That is epic, and kept the novel moving from start to finish. One nag I do have is the roughshod yet dependable equipment. It always seems to work, no matter how much abuse or neglect it takes. Sure, it is 100 years in the future, but space is a very hard place to live… and stay alive… in. The jumping in and out of suits and airlocks. The crashing and scraping into things. The tracking in of dust particles. All that amounts to some very serious maintenance issues to me. But again, maintenance is boring, so…. action!

I enjoyed this read, and I look forward to the sequel (if there is one). I give this novel 4 stars and call it an Exciting Read.

View all my reviews

Dragons and Rockets and Wandering Puppies – The Hopes of a Sci-Fi Fan

I don’t love dogs. I like them alright, but I don’t love them. My experience with them has been a mixed bag. Aside from one or two I’ve know, I’ve found a majority of them to be on the slow side. Dumb dogs really irritate me. And I despise the overly vociferous ones… be they large and growly or small and yappy. But, puppies are OK. I mean, who doesn’t like puppies, right? They do silly stuff, but they don’t know any better yet. They are great… right up to the point they start chewing stuff up and pooping right where you have to walk… that’s when they become dogs and a choice to like or dislike them must be made.

 

I’m much more of a cat person. There’s lots of reasons why, but I won’t go into that because that’s not what I’m writing this blog for right now. Suffice it to say, cats share my personality and sensibilities. I do my own thing, and for the most part, I prefer to be left alone.
What this blog is really about is an issue that has been ongoing for several years now. I’ve never talked about it mainly because it is polarized to such an extent, that to even hint at an inclination to one point of view or the other could get you instantly ostracized by the opposite side. This will probably happen to me at some point anyway, so I’m not going to sweat it anymore. So what is this topical bush I’m beating around, you ask?
It’s the Hugo/Puppygate debacle. If you are a Science Fiction & Fantasy reader, but are not familiar with this… good. Stay ignorant. Don’t worry about it. Enjoy your books. But I caution you, if you ever look into the real world lives of your favorite authors, you may be sucked into the maelstrom. And once in, you will have an awful time extricating your mind from it.
That brings me to the explanation of ‘why now‘. Why blog of this kerfuffle if it is so ill-advised to become involved? Well, I have winced at the on-goings for a while, and have become a very Sad Kitty in my own right because of it. You see, I sort of like the writings from authors on both sides of the argument. I have strong leanings and empathy toward the points made by the Puppy side however, and as such, find myself loath to support the works of the Puppy Kicker side. That’s why I warn readers to remain ignorant. It is bliss, and you will enjoy your SF&F more that way. Alas, I am not ignorant, and have no recourse to ‘unknow‘ things.
The sad runs deep, and the doom of Things I Like seems to hover over the literary portion of fandom. The Rockets of the Hugo Award have been tarnished, if not down-right sabotaged, to the point where they are no longer Fan Worthy. Two sides of a social argument will never agree to coexist peacefully again. I do believe that the side of fiscal profitability will prevail, but the damage done by the failing side as it rails against its own self-imposed darkness will no doubt cause a backlash onto the side of the light. If you have ever read Jordan’s Wheel of Time, compare it to the Dark One’s counter-stroke against Sadin. Put plainly, some great science fiction will fail to be made because of boycotts that keep authors from making a living at it… not because of the writing, but because of the politics of the writer. That is sad.
It’s doubly sad to me because I hope to soon join the ranks of sci-fi authors by publishing my first novel. There is a divide, and it seems you must choose one side or the other. Being a cat-minded individual, that’s like holding the door open and expecting me to choose to go in or stay out! The horror of such decisions!
And I must admit my own guilt of bias against some of those authors who have been actively kicking sad puppies. I have also frowned at and declined to investigate the works written by some of the more growly and yappy puppies on the opposite side of the fight… because, again, I don’t like loud dogs. Sure, we need them to stand guard, but when they bark at shadows, or just have a howl-off with the other dogs around them, it becomes annoying to me. It isn’t always necessary to bark at every squirrel. Sometimes I just want to sit and read a good book in peace and quiet.
But… and this is the reason I write this today… there is a glimmer of hope. I think that glimmer may reveal itself fully tomorrow, when the new Dragon Awakes… The first annual Dragon Awards will be presented on Sept. 4th, 2016 @DragonCon. This award has been established on an open platform for both nominations and voting. It does not require memberships, only interest in participating. It is truly Fan Worthy. The only question is, can it avoid the taint… the backlash of the existing conflict… and be a non-gamed award?
I sure hope so.
Anyway, before anyone reading this assigns a label to me, I will present you with the one I chose for myself.
I am a Wandering Puppy. I am searching for the things I like. You can try to fence me in, but I will dig out and keep looking. If you kick me, I will not stay to receive more… I’ll run away. If there are too many growly and yappy dogs around me, I’ll run away.  I’ll keep Wandering until I find the home that’s mine. Don’t bother trying to find me and make me come home so little spoiled Suzie can pull my ears. I’ll just run away again. Your Lost Puppy signs are a wast of time, for “Not all those who Wander are Lost”.
As I thought of this analogy, I was obviously reminded of the poem from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. After re-reading that, I was struck with a comparison to the whole debacle that I think fits the poem quite well… you decide. (comparisons are mine, and probably silly)
All that is gold does not glitter,
                (Tarnished Hugo Awards no longer impress anyone)
 Not all those who wander are lost;

                (Wandering Puppies of Fandom like me keep looking for good Sci-Fi)
The old that is strong does not wither,

                (Real Sci-Fi isn’t squashed by propaganda)
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

                (Good Stories from all points of view will survive)
From the ashes a fire shall be woken

                (WorldCon fades but PuppyGate ignited a fire in Fandom)
A light from the shadows shall spring;

                (DragonCon created the Dragon Award)
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

                (The Dragon Award replaces the Hugo)
The crownless again shall be king.

                (Science Fiction Fandom retakes the throne)
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Good luck to all the nominees tomorrow, but honestly… I really hope the Fans Win.