Posts Tagged ‘books’

The husband-wife historical fiction writing duo Kathleen O’Neal and Michael Gear are best known for their First North Americans series. Each of these novels tells the tale of prehistoric people and their beliefs based on modern archeological finds. The Gears have given life and emotions to people we knew existed, but know next to nothing about; created deep beliefs out of artifacts long forgotten; and developed Technicolor pictures of a world before civilization.

Coming of the Storm: Book One of Contact: The Battle for America is remarkably different. The events and many of the characters in Coming of the Storm are part of our recorded history; we know the outcome of the European explorers’ visit to North America. Far from Disney’s version of John Smith’s encounter with Pocahontas, this story does follow Black Shell and his strong willed mate Pearl Hand as they learn about the strange Kristianos people and realize that they bring only death to the tribes and must be stopped.

I am a huge fan of the First North Americans series, but I didn’t love Coming of the Storm as much. The story was interesting, but the supporting characters were underdeveloped and the dialog was so modern that it kept pulling me out of the settings. I am not certain that I will continue to read this series.

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Sleezy petshops. Online college. Little people. Obsessive compulsive disorder. Celebrity gossip column. Kay Scarpetta impersonator. Dermatologist. Paranoia. Only Patricia Cornwell can tie these seemingly unrelated topics into one of the best Kay Scarpetta novels yet.

After disliking Trace, the last Kay Scarpetta novel I read, Cornwell won back my belief in this series with this book. Everything that Trace was lacking was perfectly executed in Scarpetta. The trail of clues were confusing but relevant.  All of the characters (both the main cast and supporting) were completely developed and their histories well defined.

Since 1990 Patricia Cornwell has come out with 18 mystery novels staring Kay Scarpetta. Scarpetta is the 16th installment in this series.  From first book to the most recent, we follow Kay Scarpetta through her life, and that of her on-again off-again boyfriend, then husband, Benton Wesley; homicide detective turned death investigator for Kay’s team, Pete Marino; and tomboy niece, Lucy Farinelli. Of the main cast, Lucy is my favorite character, at least in the later additions to the series.  When we were first introduced to her she was just a 10 year old girl, but she grows to be a strong, intelligent computer genius that worked for most of the major government organizations at one time or another before creating a search engine that she sells to those government organizations to monitor criminals.

I look forward to my next adventure in Patricia Cornwell’s world of murder and mystery.

Sacrifice is book 5 in the Star Wars Legacy of the Force series. It’s official.  Jacen has picked his sacrifice and assumes his Sith name: Darth Caedus. His decent from Jedi Knight to Sith Lord has been eerily reminiscent of his grandfather’s.  Both of them were incredibly strong in the Force, but weak in will.  They were both open to Sith instruction because the Light Side was not enough to accomplish their goals.  And they both felt justified in their actions were for the good. There is also quite a bit of a feeling of Emperor Palpetine (aka Darth Sidious) about his actions.  One side of him, the political side, knows the right things to say to the right people; the right babies to kiss to make the news holos.  But then there’s the side of him that makes decisions behind closed doors: sending Ben to assassinate Dur Gejjen. When Ben overhears a conversation Jacen is having with Lumia, he realizes that Jacen has really lost his way and confesses everything to his mom, Mara Jade. With this knowledge Mara Jade decides that Jacen must be stopped.

This book is pivotal to the Star Wars universe: huge changes take place, Jacen passes the point of no return, and a beloved character’s life is lost. Karen Traviss has handled this heavy episode tremendously.  The moment it ended I was left gasping, crashing back into reality and mourning the loss.

Exile is book 4 in the Star Wars Legacy of the Force series.  Lumia informs Jacen that before he can complete his training he must chose a loved one to sacrifice. He takes some time to look within himself and discovers that his feelings for his parents are mixed.  He realizes that if he does still love them, he will have to sacrifice one of them, killing the other to prevent retaliation. If he in fact hates them, then he will kill them both to protect himself and the galaxy from their interference. Similarly, he is wondering if his sacrifice will be Ben.  He has sent Ben on a dangerous mission alone; convincing him to run away from his family in a search that leads him to Zoist, the Sith home world.  On this world, Ben meets, and learns how to fly “Ship”, the Sith training vessel that pops back up in the Star Wars Fate of the Jedi series; yet another tie in with that series.

“Jacen smiled. Causing people to think and feel what he wanted them to, even without resorting to the Force, was becoming easier and easier.” This line completely represents that Jacen has completely lost himself to the Dark Side.  When he first began, the manipulations made him uncomfortable but he was able to justify them as a means to an end.  At this point, he has actually begun to relish his superior control of the Force over others.  At this point, he actually feels evil to me.  His motives are less for the greater good, and more for his own advancement in the Galactic Alliance.

Tempest is the third book 3 the Legacy of the Force series. Jacen Solo, son of Han and Leah, twin brother to Jaina, has completely embraced Lumiya’s teachings in the Sith ways.  He is spiraling deeper into the Dark side of the force, believing that he’s doing what’s necessary to bring balance back to the universe. But on his journey, he is losing himself, losing his sense of humor and loyalty to his family and what is right.  He begins making military decisions based on his emotions before learning facts, even firing on the Millennium Falcon KNOWING that his parents were on board, believing that they were traitors.  While Han and Leah had gone against the Galactic Alliance’s wish and entered talks with the Corellian insurgents, they were set up but those same people when they were sent to speak with Tenel Ka and to discuss and alliance with the Hapan Consortium.  Instead of talking, they were actually sent as bait to bring Tenel Ka into the open for an assassination attempt.  Caught in the middle of these factions the Solos try to use it to their advantage and gather information about the plot.  Sending notes and clues every chance they have, the Solos come under fire from Jacen Solo before they can get clear of the situation completely.

What I love about the Star Wars universe books is that they tie in with other books; characters, events.  But it has never been clearer than when I read the Fate of the Jedi series before the Legacy of the Force series.  Everything that Luke is trying to discover in Fate of the Jedi, everything that is being tried by the Galactic Alliance, is happening in this series. With so many books in the Star Wars universe it can be difficult to keep chronologies straight.  But I highly recommend this series before the Fate of the Jedi series.

It’s so difficult seeing what Jacen is doing.  How he has conned himself into believing that what he is doing is for the good.  The characters that we have come to love are being torn apart by what he is doing, by his manipulations. It’s a difficult story to read, but it’s an important one to the Star Wars universe. And Troy Denning has done a fantastic job of telling this episode.

Allies is the 5th installation in the Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi series.  In this series, Christie Golden also wrote Omen, the 2nd book.  A banished Jedi Grand Master Luke Skywalker ran into a heap of trouble at the end of Backlash, an entire fleet of Sith.  In Allies, the Sith say they to work with Luke in his investigation into what is causing the Jedi’s to go crazy, indicating that they have  apprentices of their own going bonkers.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Chief of State Natasi Daala seems to be suffering from a case of the crazies herself; giving Mandolorians free reign on the siege of the Jedi Temple. 

The last book seemed to become distracted from the journey that Luke and Ben had undertaken; tracing Jacen Solo’s path.  But I feel that we’re back on track with Allies; back to clues, and new revelations; back to advancing the original plot.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes is the 6th installment in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  Jamie must walk the fine line between Patriot and Loyalist, trying to keep his family safe from both sides but knowing which side would ultimately prevail.  As the political turmoil leading up to the Revolution intensifies, he is forced to declare himself as a Patriot; severing multiple friendships including Lord John Grey. Claire is kidnapped and during her time with the bandits discovers that one of the slimeballs is a time travellor like herself.  He was part of Robert ‘Ottortooth’ Springer’s group that tried to travel back to save the Native Americans from the European influence.  Instead, they were separated in time.  In the closing chapters of the book, Roger and Brianna were forced to make a decision to travel back to their own time to save the life of their new born daughter.

I must say, that after the first book, Outlander, I think this was my favorite.  I really enjoyed the pacing, the revelations, the events, the twists…it was a grand adventure.  But I have to ask…when did the group tell Ian that they were time travelers? I think I must have missed that conversation. Seems like it would have been something huge!

I also have to say that I have been a very uninvolved history lover throughout this series.  Oh sure, the major mile stones have been familiar, but Diana Gabaldon has integrated minor events and historical figures so flawlessly that I have just gone along for the ride; until something struck me in this novel.  A woman was going to be arriving at Cross Creek, and our 3 beloved time travelers were far more anxious to meet her than anyone else.  Which made me wonder who she is, er…was. Flora MacDonald; a real woman, born in 1722.  She was a Jacobite heroine, having saved ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie from the Hanoverian militia by disguising him as an Irish traveling companion named Betty Burke.  She immigrated to the colonies in 1774 where her husband served in the American Revolution as a British officer.  Looking up the name ‘Flora Macdonald’ really made me realize that after 5 and a half books, I have been missing out on a lot of Gabaldon’s research, and a lot of learning experiences.   

With only one more book in the series (so far), I am sad to think that my time with these characters is coming to an end.