Review: Supernova

Supernova Supernova by C.A. Higgins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My review...
Well, first thing is that this book is buried among numerous books with the same title. Frankly, I think that should be changed, but I'm just the reader not the editor.

Secondly, unless you have just read (as in finished Lightless last night), you might find yourself in a bit of a quandary because this book starts up right where the last ends. Thirdly, because of this, there is little care taken to make the reader have any empathy for the revolutionaries cause nor for the revolutionaries. There is little character development because it's all been done in book 1. The first book moved a bit slower building up an intense dislike for The System. This one does none of that, so you can't just pick up this book and expect to know what's going on.

Because of the lack of care taken to create empathy for the characters, this book doesn't click well with me. I loved the first one, but this one left me cold as space itself. I may try to read the last few chapters of Lightless again and then come back to this one. I did not care for the Constance character in the first one, so her character leaves me cold in this one. She seems very cardboardish to me.

However, Ananke and Althea's story line provoked an intriguing thought line for me. Super intelligence from a super computer that has planet-destroying capabilities is not only daunting, but highly threatening to secure living. Perhaps humans will attain that kind of creation, but I doubt it. If we did... This part of the story delves into all kinds of practical problems and stretches the imagination into the scary reaches of human/machine relationships.

About the book ...
C. A. Higgins's acclaimed novel Lightless fused suspenseful storytelling, high-caliber scientific speculation, and richly developed characters into a stunning science fiction epic. Now the dazzling Supernova heightens the thrills and deepens the haunting exploration of technology and humanity—and the consequences that await when the two intersect.

Once Ananke was an experimental military spacecraft. But a rogue computer virus transformed it—her—into something much more: a fully sentient artificial intelligence, with all the power of a god—and all the unstable emotions of a teenager.

Althea, the ship's engineer and the last living human aboard, nearly gave her life to save Ananke from dangerous saboteurs, forging a bond as powerful as that between mother and daughter. Now she devotes herself completely to Ananke's care. But teaching a thinking, feeling machine—perhaps the most dangerous force in the galaxy—to be human proves a monumental challenge. When Ananke decides to seek out Matthew Gale, the terrorist she regards as her father, Althea learns that some bonds are stronger than mortal minds can understand—or control.

Drawn back toward Earth by the quest, Althea and Ananke will find themselves in the thick of a violent revolution led by Matthew's sister, the charismatic leader Constance, who will stop at nothing to bring down a tyrannical surveillance state. As the currents of past decisions and present desires come into stark collision, a new and fiery future is about to be born.

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Review: In His Place: A Modern-Day Challenge for Readers of In His Steps

In His Place: A Modern-Day Challenge for Readers of In His Steps In His Place: A Modern-Day Challenge for Readers of In His Steps by Harry C. Griffith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Review...
Would you like to take a peek inside today's churches (regardless of denomination)? Would you like to take a peek inside how Christians rationalize their thoughts and actions? This is an eye opening read. It is not designed to make you feel guilty, nor designed spur anger at church people. It is a very well written story that highlights what is wrong with the Bride of Christ today.

Some Christians are like Saul thinking that murderous attacks will purge the Bride into righteous action, some Christians are like the immature Mark who went home rather than face conflict head on, and others are like personified Jesus without prejudice and rancor just loving the believer and unbeliever alike.

Jesus' plan was for each believer to feed and care for His sheep with the right heart attitude. Griffith makes sure we become aware of our own righteous attitude because of seeing how the characters in this novel act and react and carry through the challenges that Jesus set before his disciples and thus to each one of us.

As the pastor begins to recognize where he failed, he tries lead his church in the right direction, but fails miserably at first. Not until he has his own Jesus-come-to-meeting is he able to rise to the leadership role that God prepared for him.

This is truly a wonderful, modern day parable in the same vein as Joshua, and In His Steps. Very well worth the money and the time invested to read. I am going to suggest this book for my Bible study group. I think it will open eyes, give hope, and spur us to be better, more Christ-like Christians.

About the book...
Charles Sheldon's WWJD? was a significant challenge in its time, but God calls us to do more than wait until we are facing a decision and then choose to do what we think Jesus would do. We are to incarnate Christ in our time, being conscious of the presence and power of God within us in all of our thoughts and actions. This is what pastor Steve Long wants his congregation to understand. When Long challenges his prominent but self-satisfied congregation to become a living force for Christ in their small North Georgia town, he is blindsided by personal trials. Responding to Christ's command “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” Pastor Long tackles these difficult situations--and more--over a tumultuous week of trials and testing and ultimately learns (as he leads) what it means to walk In His Place.

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Review: Journey's End

Journey's End Journey's End by Renee Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

True reading pleasure for the most part. One thing this book has that is deeply annoying is the rehashing of territory already covered. There is a difference between discussion for solutions, and discussion to remind of what's gone before. That is okay for a serial in a monthly magazine, but not okay in a novel length book that one might read in an evening or Saturday afternoon.

Introspection of characters is good and necessary for story flow, but rehashing the same thing over and over is an insult to readers' intelligence as if we can't remember what we've read two chapters ago. It is a wordy way to pack a story to an acceptable page length. If an author must do that, it would be better to add a character than to have character's never grow past their initial mindset. You keep reading, hoping something will happen to make the character grow up... and it does... but the character stays in the rut. That is not good writing.

However, the characters in this book are very well developed and quite interesting. Each character has a charming uniqueness that does move the story along (although a bit slowly). I do recommend this book, but buyer beware: It has a soap opera feel to it.

About the book...

Having grown up on the mean streets of nineteenth-century London, Caroline St. James is used to fighting to survive.

So when her beloved mother—abandoned and ignored by her wealthy family—suddenly dies, the scrappy twenty-two-year-old devises a plan to right this terrible wrong. With nothing to lose, she sails to New York to find the man who turned a cold shoulder to her mother’s suffering: Caroline’s grandfather.

To settle the family score, Caroline infiltrates her grandfather’s privileged world, hoping to sabotage his business from the inside. But as she sets her plot in motion, she meets Jackson Montgomery, a virtuous man who is struggling to recover from a family scandal of his own. As their friendship grows, and Caroline begins to piece together the motives that led her family to turn its back, she is forced to make a decision: Should she risk everything in the name of justice? Or can she look toward the future and let love and forgiveness guide her instead?

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Review: The Domino Game

The Domino Game The Domino Game by Greg Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried. I really, really tried to get into this book. I loved Gorky Park, and some other Russian-based stories, but this one was difficult to get into because I couldn't establish a rapport with any of the characters. I just didn't care about anyone of them. As I started to grow close to one, the story would flip to another unknown. Then it all became a jumble because there were just too many characters to untangle. The story objective was unclear from the very first. Perhaps it is just me, and that I am used to better story organization. I gave it 2 stars because it does have potential for anyone who can assimilate all the characters.

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Review: Surveillance

Surveillance Surveillance by Reece Hirsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an extraordinary thriller and suspense. It gives you an insight into just how invasive to our privacy the government can be, and that is scary. The story line is non-stop flood with a pace that makes it hard to remember to breathe.

The characters are very well developed; each one acting, talking, and responding in character. In fact, the whole story is very well written, and quite believable. I found myself quite sympathetic with the main characters. One of them does something very much within character, but it was hard to believed he'd do such a terrible thing. Then he was repaid for it, and it felt like a good justification for his deed. That, to me, is great writing.

The problem a lot of authors have these days is writing with the reader in mind so that what happens to the characters as a result of their actions is felt by the reader as a logical and just consequence regardless whether is it actual justice or not. Case in point would be a married person having an affair, and that results in the break up of his or her marriage. That is justice. Betrayal of trust results in breaking a relationship. Hirsch applies this kind of justice in this story, but it isn't the same scenario because I don't want to spoil the ending.

So you have, in this book, an excellent exploration of trust, betrayal, ingenuity, and triumph. This is well worth the money!

About the book ...

When former computer-crimes prosecutor Chris Bruen and retired hacktivist Zoey Doucet open their San Francisco law firm, it’s the best day of their professional lives. That is, until their first client walks through the door.

Ian Ayres is an “ethical hacker” who was hired by a company to test the security of its online systems. On the job, he uncovered some highly classified information: the existence of a top-secret government surveillance agency and its Skeleton Key, a program that can break any form of encryption. Now Ayres is on the run. And after government agents descend on Chris and Zoey’s office during their potential client’s visit—killing two employees—they, too, are forced to flee for their lives.

From California to Ecuador to Mexico, the trio must try to evade a hired assassin, a bloodthirsty drug cartel, and their own government. But how can they escape an adversary that can access every phone call, every email, every video feed?

Surveillance is critically acclaimed author Reece Hirsch’s third book in the Chris Bruen series.

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Review: I Let You Go

I Let You Go I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is a novel with such an intriguing premise that you can't help but keep turning the pages to the end. I was fascinated to the end.

However, I was also betrayed by the author. (What follows is sort of a spoiler.) About half way through the book you suddenly find out that the first person prose is not who you have been led to believe she is. Then a little further on, and you get a whole different perspective from another first person point of view. All the while the perspective is shifted back and forth between the first first person and two detectives trying to solve the hit and run murder of a five year old boy. Then the second first person is inserted in the mix... Confused? Well, now you now how I felt while reading this book.

One thing to keep in mind, the writing is superb, but jumping into so many different heads is not well done. There are no transitions or even warnings that you are about to jump from Bristol to some rural, coastal village of Wales. So that brings the five-star writing down to three-stars. Then you must know that the characters are so well developed that brings the three stars up to four stars.

Frankly, the story is a roller coaster, and you just have to hang on, keep reading, and maybe you'll figure it all out by the last page.

I hate being betrayed by the author. It isn't a murder mystery that you must figure out who killed the boy. The author makes it plain that the guilty party admits her guilt ... or is she really guilty? Maybe she has been so abused and twisted by the second first person that she lies. Or maybe she isn't lying. Well, you'll just have to read the thing to understand what I'm talking about. I don't think hiding who the first person moves the story along or even creates any more suspense. It comes off as just what it is, a plot ploy that is just a trick. I just hate that. However, the roller coaster ride was pretty good so it almost made up for the betrayal.

On a rainy afternoon, a mother's life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

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