The Eight

The Eight

1 Star

Gah. Heh…ok…breath…. Alright, I think I’m finally ready to write a review for this book. I’ve started several times, and it went something like this; “Hatehatehatehatehatehatehatehate!!!” So I had to get some distance from this story before I could really decide what made me so angry about it. Let’s look at the story itself, first off.

This book is one of the many that came out in the wake of The Davinci Code, touting jacket blurbs like “The next Davinici Code!” and “If you like The Davinci Code, you’ll LOVE The Eight!” Lies, all of them. But I digress. So I got this book from a friend with no real recommendation–he just handed it over and walked away. I see why now. The story is of a woman who gets wrapped up in a mystery. Over several thousand years, a set of chess pieces has been scattered all over the earth. It is rumored these pieces hold a great secret–one which kings have been attempting to harness since the beginning of time. The woman, an American computer contractor in Iraq, follows the clues in an attempt to unravel the mystery. She encounters danger and adventure along the way.

So, sounds good, right? That’s what I thought! That is, until I actually started reading it. The general premise is great–the mystery was interesting, the back story wonderful, the fact that it was a mystery through time just gave it that much more oomph. However, for some reason the author just couldn’t pull it together. A good adventure mystery needs to have pace–a focus on the excitement, buildup to a great payoff, a twist or two, and a grand ending that leaves the reader gasping for breath. This had all the set up for that, but none of the delivery. The author seemed to get bogged down in details–but the wrong details. I remember reading four or five pages describing a meal the main character had, with wonderful descriptions of the drinks and the food and the scenery and the in-house entertainment. All well and good, except it had nothing to do with the story line. No bit of information gathered from that meal ever came up again…the action happened afterwards.

What really irked me was after reading several of these scenes, the author completely crapped out on what could have been a great ride. She has a character enter a scene, and, in three sentences, describe a grand adventure the character embarked upon to find a missing piece of the chess set. Now, this would have been some great reading. There was a puzzle that needed to be solved, major obstacles, a pitched battle, a near death, and grievous injury. How wonderful would that have been?!? But no–instead we get pages about the texture of blended yogurt, and two sentences summing up a major part of the story line that happened somewhere else.

This happened several times. It was almost as if the author didn’t think she had the ability to really craft a great adventure, so relied on recaps to get the information across. Come on! If you’re going to write a mystery, at least do it right! It took me a long, long time to get through this book. I wanted to like it; I love the genre, and there is nothing better than a really great puzzle mystery. But the author just wouldn’t let me–I’m not sure you could write a worse mystery if you tried. If you see this book, run far, run fast, and pick up The Rule of Four instead.


Published in: on September 4, 2008 at 7:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Ender’s Game

5 Stars

When a science fiction book wins the Hugo and Nebula awards, you know going in it’s gonna be good.  Ender’s Game has all the hallmarks of good sci-fi: a future setting, space battles, neat-o technology, relativistic and gravity considerations.  It also has a well written and engaging story about brilliant children training as soldiers by playing war games.  Imagine Lord of the Flies without all the boring bits.


Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  



3 1/2 Stars

From the cover art it appears that this is a parody of Faust. I do not know Faust, but I sure enjoyed Eric. It is about a fourteen year old boy who tries to conjure a demon, but gets Rincewind instead. They travel around and have ridiculous adventures, with a pissed off Luggage following them every step of the way. This is the ninth Discworld book, and it exhibits all the irreverent humor and ridiculous disregard for narrative cohesion that I love about the series. This is an improvement over the previous Rincewind novels.


Published in: on April 1, 2008 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Everything on a Waffle


2.5  Stars

It’s usually a pretty safe bet to pick up a Newbery Honor Book…most of the time those panel members really know what they’re talking about. I was a little disappointed with this one, though. Every once in a while, the people who choose the books go a little crazy. In this case, it seemed like the panel members just didn’t want the little readers to have to deal with any heartache or drama. I’ll explain in a minute.

The story was an easy read (as I figured, given the subject and all). It was about a young girl who lost her parents and had to live with her uncle, a real estate developer. He moves to her small town with grand ideas about upgrading it, much to the chagrin of the locals (including the local diner owner, who’s claim to fame is serving all meals on a waffle, hence the name of the book).

I guess the real problem I had with this book was it had the potential to be a real story, but it copped out right at the end. Too bad! It could have been great.


Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  



4 Stars

You know, it’s a sad day when it takes me more than an month to read (let alone find out about!) the newest Redwall book. Ah, the perils of pursuing a PhD. Anyhow, I took my one day off in two months to power through my favorite of non-science related books.

It’s been awhile since a new Redwall book has come out, and I think the time off has done Mr. Jaques good. That or the time off did my reading brain good. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Some of the more recent books in the series seemed slapped together to me, but this one brought back the beauty of the stories. At one point there was even a sly reference to the very first story, which, admittedly, I first thought was the author reusing an old idea. That got me a bit upset, but he turned the tables on me! What a clever man.

Anyhow, the story is the melding of two historic destinations in the Redwall world: Redwall Abbey and Salamandastron. A hare made is sent on a dangerous mission to find Salamandastron’s new Badger Lord, who is prisoner on a vermin ship. Fates collide with a young thief, a band of shrews, and a cheeky squirrel who join forces to protect the innocents at Redwall.

Overall, this was a great book. There were laughs, daring adventures, and several teary-eyed moments. The ending gave me the predictable goosebumps and misty eyes, and I slowly read the epilogue to try and make it last longer. Interestingly, this was the first book where a Badger Lord mates for more than a few seasons, and the first book where a female badger becomes Lady of Salamandastron. I wonder if Brian Jaques has a daughter–that would explain the sudden shift in badger biology. Anyhow, it was a nice way to spend my Saturday.


Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Empire of Ivory


2 1/2 Stars

I am tiring of this series of books. The setting is great–not just the time and place, but also the characters, especially the dragons, are very interesting– but the stories are getting kinda old, even though each one is different. In this one our protagonists venture to Africa, where great adventures ensue. This was an easy read, and not bad, but it sure wasn’t great. This setting would, I think, make for a good video game or perhaps television series, but I am not too excited about the upcoming fifth volume.


Published in: on December 9, 2007 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Equal Rites


3 Stars

Terry Pratchett delves into a slightly different subject with this book. It still takes place mostly in Ank Moor-park, but it involves the first female wizard and her attempts to be accepted into Ank Moor-park’s exclusive wizarding school. Hilarity ensues.


Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 5:21 am  Leave a Comment  

The Elegant Gathering of White Snows


5 Stars

I loved this book! It’s the story of a group of women who meet once a week for drinks and general socializing. Each has her own terrible problems, and one meeting they all decide to go for a walk. The walk continues for days and day as each woman finally takes the time she needs to work through her personal crisis. The walking women capture the imagination of the nation and inspire others along the way. It’s heart warming and touching and every other warm, fuzzy word imaginable, and it was the perfect gift for my mom last mother’s day with a bottle of wine and a box of truffles. A sexist pig of an acquaintance of mine thought it was the most absurd thing he’d ever heard of (I quote “Well,that’s stupid. They women in that story just ran away from their problems!”), which only made the book more potent in my eyes.


Published in: on July 17, 2007 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment