Classics

The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island

 Summary:

Five Union prisoners escape from the siege of Richmond in a balloon, are blown off course and crash on an uncharted island. They must learn to rebuild a society for themselves while awaiting rescue. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

What is so great about Verne’s books are that he seems to almost never run out of natural phenomena to explore.  Although I find it hard to believe that Smith’s crew has exactly the skills required to survive and even flourish in such a landscape, it does make it a fantastic story.  (Then again folks were much more resourceful than their modern counterparts these days.) The mystery of the island is incredibly subtle and I love how it slowly unravels throughout the book until culminating in the last few chapters.

I think this is a book that you could read and re-read many times over and still find something new to observe of understand.  Much like “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” you have to enjoy the book for challenges that the characters work through in of themselves rather than rushing towards the ending of the book.  If you’re one who wants a quick-fix, this won’t be an enjoyable read.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of adventure, slow build and an adventure for adventure’s sake.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Summary:

NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
ANCESTRY: Human
ORIGIN: Mars

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

While I absolutely adore Heinlein, this was the weakest in his books as far as I’m concerned.  I found it a very slow build (not that divergent from other Heinlein books), but without the fascinating characters to make the build all worth it to me.  Frankly, I found Valentine just plain weird.  I can see how folks in the 60’s who were into all sorts of things would adore this book, but it just didn’t work for me.

There are certainly redeeming factors.  At some points, I found the thought-experiment fascinating and an interesting project in the sense of challenge long-established beliefs and structures in our “normal” world.  That being said, once I got to the ending I had the shell-shocked “what the heck???” moment that left me feeling discontent and not a fan of this one in the end.

Warning: Contains a little bit of everything to offend anyone the least sensitive.

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Heinlein devotees, but otherwise I’d say skip or try a different Heinlein first.  I think if this was your first Heinlein it could be quite off-putting.

 Street Magic (The Circle Opens #2)

Street Magic

Summary:

It's been four years since Briar Moss began his training as a plant mage, but he still hasn't put his past behind him. Wandering through a Chammuri market, Briar comes across a street girl using powerful magic to polish stones for a merchant. He resolves to find her a teacher. But Briar understands the city's gangs as well as he understands Evvy, the young mage. When gang warfare breaks out in Chammur, Briar discovers that the fiercest gang is seeking a stone mage to lead them to hidden gems. Briar once believed gangs offered protection, but now he and his mage may offer the only protection Evvy can count on. As Briar is swept up in a bloody conflict, he must decide whether he's ready to make the final step away from his former life as a "street rat."  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This book was a great look into teenage Briar and just how much mischief he was able to get into after leaving the Winding Circle.  I love that he’s a mother hen over Rosethorn (as much as she tolerates it) yet still finds away to be himself.  As he begins to get to know Evvy, he finds someone who is just as stubborn, perhaps even more so.  As the two of them find themselves thrust into a turf war, each of them quickly have to develop into a stronger version of themselves.

This book and Sandry’s are quite similar in structure, but Briar’s approach to things is entirely different to Sandry given the circumstances.  I’d highly recommend this to fans of the series and those who want more from the Circle of Magic Universe.

Warning: Contains some violence.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Those looking for a fun magical journey, but it’ll make much more sense if you read The Circle of Magic series first.

Want to read the whole series?

Manga Classics: Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Summary:

Great Expectations has it all: romance, mystery, comedy, and unforgettable characters woven through a gripping rags-to-riches tale. Naive Pip, creepy Miss Haversham, beautifully cold Estella, terrifying Abel Magwitch, and the rest of Dicken’s fantastic cast are perfectly envisioned in this new adaptation in this 300-plus page volume featuring artwork by artist Nokman Poon. Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was my first reading of “Great Expectations” so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but eager to give it a shot through a graphic novel approach.  Perhaps because I was not previously familiar with the story, I found it quite odd.  There are some very odd choices that the characters make and frankly didn’t like Pip for pretty much the whole story.  He didn’t have appreciate what he had been given and the squandered it away.

The artwork I found fantastic and was a great description of the story.  I am eager to try other books in the same format.  This also would be a fantastic way for younger readers to have their first introduction to the overall story before giving the full novel as shot.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone who enjoys graphic novels and classic novels.