Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Science and a Ton of History

The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by Frank Close

Summary: Speculation is rife that by 2012 the elusive Higgs boson will be found at the Large Hadron Collider. If found, the Higgs boson would help explain why everything has mass. But there’s more at stake—what we’re really testing is our capacity to make the universe reasonable. Our best understanding of physics is predicated on something known as quantum field theory. Unfortunately, in its raw form, it doesn’t make sense—its outputs are physically impossible infinite percentages when they should be something simpler, like the number 1. The kind of physics that the Higgs boson represents seeks to "renormalize” field theory, forcing equations to provide answers that match what we see in the real world.
The Infinity Puzzle is the story of a wild idea on the road to acceptance. Only Close can tell it.

Review: A very detailed, very thorough review of the history of the search for renormalization of field theory, but a tad light on the science.

I enjoy quantum mechanics and quantum physics and was looking forward to this book due to the subject matter. History always has to be told when talking about developments in science since those developments do not come about in a vacuum. But there is always plenty of science too. This book focused on time lines, who discovered what, and how those discoveries came about. It was very dry and it was hard keeping track of who was who and who did what. 

All the detailed, detailed history took away from the science behind quantum field theory. This book does explain a little about quantum field theory, QED, QCD, QFD, and the Higgs boson, but the author does not go into the depth needed for such a complex subject. I was disappointed because I had been hoping to learn more about those subjects. Quantum mechanics are complex. This book might be too complex for those new to physics. I was able to understand most of the physics since I have read at least a dozen physics book. But others might not have the background needed.


Recommendation: I would only recommend this book to those with a strong background in physics or someone with a strong interest in the history of physics. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey. This meme lets you show fellow readers what you have read, what you are reading, and what you will be reading.

I honestly didn't read that much last week. I need to read more.

Recently Read: 

Currently Reading:

To Read:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Heaven's Most Pathetic Angels

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Summary: Three angels – Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human – are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.
Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong. Then comes the brooding and popular new transfer, Jake Thorn... who just so happens to be in Bethany's class. Something about Jake seems to be hiding something darker, something more powerful than expected. That thing, and Xavier, distracts Bethany to a point that Gabriel and Ivy are concerned.
The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?

Review: Pathetic useless angels, flaunting of all Heaven's rules, no consequences for rule breaking, obsession, and stereotype upon stereotype.

I honestly wanted to throw this book at the wall a number of times. I didn't since it was a library book. The first thing that irked me were the stereotypes. Not every boy is going to want to get into your pants. Not every girl is going to care an inordinate amount about prom. Stop pigeonholing everyone. And the angels were pathetic. They supposedly had all this power, but did volunteer. What point is there was Bethany going to school (except for the author having a reason for her to meet Xavier)? Why do they even have to take human form? And there was no damn evil in the town they were in. Angels should be sent places where they can actually be useful. And paper thin wings that can hide under their clothes?

Next up is the relationship obsession between Xavier and Bethany. She falls for him almost instantly. Bethany saying that a plain name like Jake or John wouldn't suit him should have warned me. Names aren't important. The person is. Of course Xavier is hot, popular, has plenty of muscles, and falls for her even though he hasn't fallen for any girl in years. Bethany later mentions how her friend must have been getting beyond looks and muscles yet that is what she sees in Xavier. Bethany is obsessed, plain and simple. Xavier becomes her whole world, which is dangerous. You don't love each other so don't try to bring up Romeo and Juliet and true love. You don't have a relationship. 

And now for the rule breaking. Bethany and Xavier cannot be together since she is an angel and he is a human. Makes sense. Yet when Bethany reveals their secret to him and refuses to break up with him, nothing happens!!! She should have been jerked back to Heaven as fast as can be. It is obvious that she cannot handle being on Earth if a pretty boy distracts her from her mission. But there was no consequences!


Recommendation: I honestly cannot recommend this book to anyone. 

An Anne Boleyn I Actually Liked

The Secret Diary Of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

Summary: When the young Queen Elizabeth I is given her mother's diary, she discovers the truth about her lascivious and despotic father, Henry VIII -- and vows never to relinquish control to any man.

Review: An enjoyable story about an Anne Boleyn that I actually enjoyed.

Portraying Anne Boleyn can be done in a number of ways and it is so easy to portray her as a stereotype. Some books I have read about Anne Boleyn recently have fallen into that trap. I have not read much about Elizabeth, either fiction or non fiction, so I do not have much of an opinion of her character. I personally found that Elizabeth was a bit too impulsive for a queen at times although she did show that she could be a strong person. Elizabeth's story didn't add much to the book and I think it would have been fine if it just had Anne Boleyn's diary. 

I think my favorite part of Anne's story is how she tried to develop love for Henry, but that her love was fragile and easily broken. Henry was portrayed as a man who became obsessed with a girl who had no choice but to marry him. How easily and how quickly Henry turned on Anne showed that he was obsessed with the ideal Anne, not the actual person. This Anne Boleyn was strong, intelligent, and ambitious, but she was also trapped by her gender and the ambition of her family. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who are fans of the Tudors, Anne Boleyn, or historical fiction set in 16th century England.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Power of Nonviolence

Sacred Are The Brave by James Sanderson

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Short stories about nonviolent revolution beginning in 1986 when unarmed citizens used 'People Power' to overcome the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines to the various nonviolent movements in Eastern Europe in 1989. Each of these stories presents an ordinary character who is forced to show extraordinary courage in the face of violent oppression.

Review: A powerful collection of stories. 

These stories are fiction, but have the ring of truth. I know the stories are based off of true events, but they can be applied to just about any situation where nonviolence could be applied. I appreciated the introduction that Sanderson provided about the history of nonviolence. It gave a good context for the stories. I did not realize how widespread nonviolence was and still is. There is a large focus on the year 1989. 

My favorite story was "Imelda's Shoes." It is about a reporter who makes a significant impact due to his stories. It is a very powerful story and shows that while the media can cause harm, it can cause a lot of good and spread powerful messages. I found some of the stories more emotional than the rest of the stories. The story that was just journal entries was my least favorite and it was downright boring. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy short stories, stories with a broad emotional impact, or stories dealing with civil rights. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kingdom Tour: Review and Giveaway

Note From The Author:

Now, about the tour itself: Running through July 3rd, the Kingdom blog tour will feature reviews, interviews, guest posts, giveaways, and a few other surprisesincluding an international contest to win a Kindle Fire.

The blog tour is being conduced to promote Kingdom, a dystopian, biopunk-thriller, and the first part of the Tiber City Trilogy.

Most people are familiar with the term “cyberpunk,” but “biopunk” is harder to nail down. In many ways, biopunk is similar to the cyberpunk genre, and shares many of the same themes and archetypes: the dystopian future; the overreliance on technology; mega-corporations; a constant and overwhelming flow of data; the anti-hero—these elements are integral parts of both genres. And both genres are fueled, to some extent, by the sense of rebellion and desire for individual freedom expressed by the original punk rock revolution. But the main difference—the most important difference—is that while cyberpunk focuses on invasive technological modification of the human body, biopunk explores the dehumanizing consequences of biological modification, of re-arranging our DNA in the pursuit of perfection.

And it’s these consequences that fuel the action in Kingdom.

Here’s a brief introduction to Kingdom:

In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project—codename “Exodus”—has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation’s collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.

In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead—an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.

And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution...closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus—and one man’s dark vision for the future of mankind.

Welcome to Tiber City.

If you’re intrigued, you can grab a copy of Kingdom (paperback or Kindle format) over at Amazon. Or, if you’re still on the fence, check out the first four chapters at my website, Tiber City Noir.

And, if you’re interested in entering the Tiber City Kindle Fire Giveaway, you can enter the contest through the widget on the sites hosting this tour.

Thanks again for checking out the Kingdom blog tour.



Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author in exchange for a review. 

Review: An incredible dystopian read with a philosophical twist.

The world Anderson paints is downright depressing. The worst part is how realistic it is. It is not too far in the future and although I doubt that our world will become like that world in three years, it does paint a realistic portrayal of what could have happened or what still could happen. There is so much we don't know about our genes although our knowledge is slowly gaining. The Exodus project achieves so much yet creates monsters and agony. Morrison is pure evil and I shudder to see what he does in the next two books. 

What adds a unique twist to this book is the philosophical aspect. What is a soul? The Omega gene provides a connection to the divine, something beyond the human self. It provides a perfect (book) explanation for why people turn to drugs, alcohol, and other addictions to try to replicate that connection to the divine. The Order of Neshamah comes to the same conclusion through religious means. There is a sharp contrast between Morrison and the Order. We may gain technology, but at what cost? Dylan is caught in the middle. Will he make it out sane or even alive?


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy dystopian fiction, science fiction with a technological bent, or biopunk. 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey. This meme lets you show fellow readers what you have read, what you are reading, and what you will be reading.

Recently Read: 

Currently Reading:

To Read:

Vote For Your Favorite MERGE Blog Tour Post

Vote for your favorite MERGE blog tour post here:


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Not Quite A Retelling

Ash by Malinda Lo

Summary: Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Review: A retelling of Cinderella that actually isn't a retelling.

The first thing to know about this book is that it isn't actually Cinderella retold. As someone described it on Goodreads, it is loosely based on Cinderella and as such, it borrows some elements from the traditional fairy tale. A lot of it will look familiar to readers, but the author puts their own spin on a lot of the familiar elements. This book had a lot of potential, but I found it disappointing. Too much was crammed into one book. I would have gladly read a book that was just about the faerie, the Huntress, or the prince (if his character was developed more). 

Ash's trips into the Woods are magical and I wish more detail was devoted to them, especially during her encounters with Sidhean. I liked Sidhean. He was a ethereal faerie, but still quite human. I liked the reason for Sidhean's friendship with Ash. That alone would have made for a good story. The prince is a non-entity in this story, which I honestly didn't mind. I found it hard to believe how easily things were wrapped up with Sidhean. I was glad Ash found her happy ending and I hope it stays good for her. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to big fans of faeries or fairy tale retellings. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Devil Is Actually A Petulant Man

The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros

Summary: Emmaline Marlow is about to wed the laird of the Hepburn clan to save her father when the Hepburns' sworn enemy, Jamie Sinclair, whisks Emmaline away. His plans to use her as a pawn go awry when irresistible passion between the two of them erupts. Original.

Review: A romance that had such promise (kidnapping, Highlanders, revenge, and adventure), but fell very flat. 

Instalove. I hate instalove. Lust, yes. Affection, yes. Love, no. Also, a lot of sacrifice for sacrifice's sake and plenty of woe is me. This book started off well enough. Jamie wasn't a complete ass (although he was a bit I'm a man!!) and Emma showed plenty of spirit and actually made a few attempts at escape. Emma wasn't a wilting flower. I was eager to see the romance develop between Emma and Jamie since I liked both characters pretty well. The book went downhill about 100 pages in. 

The revenge plot (Jamie's reason for stealing Emma) becomes revealed. It gets more silly as more is learned about it. It got too convoluted and would have been better as a simple revenge plot aka I'll steal your bride since our clans don't get along. Then comes what I love to hate: instalove. Emma and Jamie fall "in love" after a few days. Yeah, Jamie wasn't a complete ass, but he was too driven by revenge and anger. The book wraps up way too neatly with everyone getting what was coming to them and a happy ending for Jamie and Emma. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy strong, brooding male heroes, romance with a kidnapping plot, or romance with Scottish Highlanders. 

Too Bad You Just Didn't Stay Home

Unicorn Bait by S.A. Hunter

Summary: Naomi accidentally goes to another planet thanks to a unicorn horn. Unfortunately, the horn doesn't come with her, and she doesn't know any other way back home, but that's not her biggest problem. That would be her brand new husband, and he's kind of scary. Her only hope is a crazy witch who knows something about catching unicorns. Which would be fine and dandy except, it's the crazy witch who introduced her to her husband. And then RAN OFF. She's going to get her for that.

Review: A disappointing fantasy story with very sudden love and boring unicorns.

I liked the idea of this story and the use of a unicorn horn to travel to another world.  The world wound up being very medieval and had very little magic which was boring. Naomi winds up in a very dangerous situation right off the bat and does a decent job of dealing with it. Tavik is nicer than expected, but I just didn't understand the eventual romance that blossoms between Naomi and Tavik, especially after such a short span of time. My favorite character was the mouse since he was full of witty lines. 

I read this book in spurts of time. I have it on my iphone, which is always with me, but I did not feel compelled to read it regularly. So I don't remember the whole story, but it seemed like one string of random events after the other. There's plenty of melodrama, fighting of evil, some magic, and unicorns. I did enjoy the facts about the unicorns at the beginning of each chapter. I do not understand Naomi's big choice in the book. Everyone winds up happy at the end of the book. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy romance sit in a medieval setting who don't mind some magic thrown in for good measure.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Giveaway For Falling - Girl With Broken Wings

Enter for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Falling - Girl With Broken Wings by J Bennett.

Summary: The intellectual challenge of college and the warm embrace of a serious boyfriend have given Maya the wings she needs to break away from her bookish and shy reserve. Her ideal life comes crashing down when she and her boyfriend are accosted by a stranger.  A stranger with glowing hands.
Maya's boyfriend is killed. She is kidnapped. Changed.
A rescue comes, but not soon enough.
Maya’s senses sharpen, her body becomes strong and agile, and she develops the ability to visually see the emotions of those around her as colorful auras…beautiful auras…tempting auras.
And then there’s the song…
Now, Maya must struggle to control the murderous appetite that fuels her new abilities, accept her altered condition and learn to trust two vigilante half-brothers she never knew she had. As she joins the battle against a secret network of powerful and destructive beings that call themselves "Angels", Maya vows to find and destroy the one who changed her.
On the bright side, at least Maya's oldest half-brother has stopped trying to kill her. 

Check out the website for the book here. The Facebook page for the book is here.
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The End of His Days

The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant by Robert Hutchinson

Summary: A blazing narrative history that boldly captures the end of England's most despotic ruler and his court -- a time of murderous conspiracies, terrifying betrayals, and sordid intrigue
Henry VIII's crimes against his wives are well documented and have become historical lore. But much less attention has been paid to his monarchy, especially the closing years of his reign.
Rich with information including details from new archival material and written with the nail-biting suspense of a modern thriller, "The Last Days of Henry VIII" offers a superb fresh look at this fascinating figure and new insight into an intriguing chapter in history.
Robert Hutchinson paints a brilliant portrait of this egotistical tyrant who governed with a ruthlessness that rivals that of modern dictators; a monarch who had "no respect or fear of anyone in this world," according to the Spanish ambassador to his court. Henry VIII pioneered the modern "show trial": cynical propaganda exercises in which the victims were condemned before the proceedings even opened, proving the most powerful men in the land could be brought down overnight.
After thirty-five years in power, Henry was a bloated, hideously obese, black-humored old recluse. And despite his having had six wives, the Tudor dynasty rested on the slight shoulders of his only male heir, the nine-year-old Prince Edward -- a situation that spurred rival factions into a deadly conflict to control the throne.
"The Last Days of Henry VIII" is a gripping and compelling history as fascinating and remarkable as its subject.
Review: An informative and thorough history of the last days of Henry VIII.
It must have been so dangerous to live during Henry VIII's reign, especially during his last years. People who were in favor one moment could be in disfavor the next. I had gotten the impression of Henry VIII's rage and  mood swings during reading about him. This was the first book I read that focused almost solely on his last years. I was fascinated by the diagnosis that Hutchinson gives Henry VIII. The diagnosis was Cushing's Syndrome and explains a lot of Henry VIII's symptoms. His weight was always attributed to his overeating, which certainly could have contributed. It's impossible to diagnose accurately since it happened so long ago, but it is a valid explanation. 
 Treason, treason, and more treason. Luckily there was a helpful list of events and important in the book so it was easier to keep track of everyone, including who was dead and who was still alive. Everyone was trying to obtain as much power as they can and that only got worse after Henry VIII died. Including some history of Edward IV provides a perspective of how tenuous power can be. Once a king dies, nothing is certain even if he has a will created. 

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy English history, especially the Tudors.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Very Dull Anne Boleyn

The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn

Summary: She was the dark-eyed commoner who captivated a king, causing a monumental upheaval in the land that would sever England from the rest of the Western world. Yet, after three short years of marriage, she would die by the headsman's sword, leaving behind a young daughter destined to rule as the greatest of all British monarchs. She was enchantress and martyr, manipulator and pawn, a complex, misunderstood me lange of subtlety and fire. Her name was Anne Boleyn.
With stunning vividness and lyrical power, author Suzannah Dunn brings a tumultuous era to magnificent life, as she boldly reimagines the rise and descent of a tragic, legendary queen, the second and perhaps most famous wife of King Henry VIII. It is a story of betrayal and love, of pomp and obsession, told in two unforgettable alternating voices: that of the doomed queen herself, relating the true and twisted circumstances of her triumphs, downfall, and impending death to the innocent child who will never truly know her mother ... and that of a servant, Lucy Cornwallis, witness to great and terrible events from her place in the royal kitchens. These two women -- both serving at the whim of a volatile monarch, both prisoners in a world of power and unspeakable cruelty -- share nothing except an inside view of the intricate workings of a merciless court ... and an ultimately devastating relationship with a handsome, young musician.
With wit, grace, and masterful storytelling, Suzannah Dunn weaves a compelling and unforgettable tale rich in color and detail, peopled with larger-than-life characters rendered poignantly and painfully human by an artist's expert hand. The Queen of Subtleties is a magnificent achievement --a masterwork that will live long and stand regally proud among the most loved and respected works of historical fiction.
Review: A disappointing retelling of Anne Boleyn and her eventual downfall.
I shamelessly anything about the Tudors and Anne Boleyn is a very fascinating character so I was eager to read this book. People can write her character in different ways, but it is hard to deny that she must have been a vivacious, intelligent, and ambitious girl. Dunn manages a very wish washy Anne who denies that she wasn't even attracted to the king at first and tried to discourage his attentions. It's Henry VIII. He never gives up. Dunn gives the impression that she was forced into it, which does have some truth (her family was very ambitious), but I believe she went along with it willingly. Also, Anne is downright boring and lacks wit.
The character of Lucy Cornwallis, while somewhat interesting, added nothing to the story. Though she may have been a real person, Lucy played no part in any of the events. I guess that Dunn added Lucy to show the situation from someone directly removed from the situation. I did feel sympathy for Lucy, especially for her ill fated lust (maybe love) for Mark Smeaton. Plus, the switching of past and present was annoying. 

Recommendation: I would only recommend this to those who must read anything Anne Boleyn. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey. This meme lets you show fellow readers what you have read, what you are reading, and what you will be reading.

I'm a bit behind (I keep forgetting to do this), but I'm still just going to do the past week. 

Recently Read: 

Currently Reading:

To Read:

Conquest is Hard!

Conquest: The English Kingdom of France 1417–1450 by Juliet Barker

Summary: Author of the best-selling AGINCOURT, Juliet Barker now tells the equally remarkable, but largely forgotten, story of the dramatic years when England ruled France at the point of a sword. Henry V's second invasion of France in 1417 launched a campaign that would put the crown of France on an English head. Only the miraculous appearance of a visionary peasant girl - Joan of Arc - would halt the English advance. Yet despite her victories, her influence was short-lived: Henry VI had his coronation in Paris six months after her death and his kingdom endured for another twenty years. When he came of age he was not the leader his father had been. It was the dauphin, whom Joan had crowned Charles VII, who would finally drive the English out of France. Supremely evocative and brilliantly told, this is narrative history at its most colourful and compelling - the true story of those who fought for an English kingdom of France.

Review: A very thorough and detailed history of England's involvement in France. 

I have mainly read about the Tudors and related people during the 16th century. While that is a fascinating subject (Henry the Eighth did have six wives after all), there is so much to that time period. It was a time of religious upheaval and shifting alliances. Conquest is expensive, more expensive than I had ever dreamed. And hard too. You may have the money, but you may not have the needed troops or vice versa. Supplies are always needed and can you keep your troops in line. 

Conquest provides an incredibly detailed history. I get the feeling that Barker included all possible information that she possibly could. Fact after fact are fact is provided. I learned quite a lot about this time period and am eager to learn more. I plan on reading  Barker's Agincourt so I can learn what brought about this series of events. This book could get a bit dry at times and I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of all the people and players. I would have liked a glossary although the chronology of events is very useful. One of the coolest facts I learned was that Joan of Arc's popularity only lasted a couple of years. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy history, especially English or European history.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Book of the Month: May

We are hosting a monthly event called "Book of the Month". This is done to highlight of one the books that you have read in the previous month.

 This will enable us to comment form one blog to another. Books you recommend for others to read. Hope you guys will join us. We would love to see your favorite book of the month.

"Book of the Month" is a monthly event hosted by Book Whales

My Book of the Month (May): My Book of the Month was Green Witch by Alice Hoffman. 

Summary: From bestselling author Alice Hoffman, a resonant tale of overcoming grief and tragedy, as only she could tell it.

In this powerful, lovely sequel to GREEN ANGEL, Green must learn the stories of a number of "witches" and free her true soul mate from a prison as she grapples with life, love, and loss in a post-disaster world.

You can check out my review here.