Book Reviews by Title - N, O

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Book Reviews by Title - N, O

Post by LadyKestrel » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:22 pm


The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One by Patrick Rothfuss
Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

A very enjoyable read. I virtually blasted through 736 pages in a few days. Very easy to read and the narrative has a good flow that keeps the pace up.

A chronicler comes to a bar owned by an old man with red hair and over the course of 3 nights listens as the barman tells the story of his life from a young age presumably through to the present day. Book one (Day one) details his childhood with his travelling family, to his destitution on the streets and his first few years in the university learning magic (no it's not really like Harry Potter). With the multilayed stories with stories narrative we see the beginning of what should be an epic series.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Nation by Terry Pratchett
Young Mau, on the brink of becoming a man, is the only survivor of his village after a tsunami sweeps over his home island. There is another on the island, however - a shipwrecked girl named Daphne from a land far away. As the two of them begin to pick up the pieces, more survivors begin to arrive, and the challenge of feeding, caring for, and protecting the ragtag band forces them to grow in unexpected ways. Defiance of the old ways leads to the discovery of a deeply hidden secret that will change their lives forever.

This is the first non-Discworld novel I’ve read by Pratchett. The characters are strong and the story is a good one which flows smoothly to a fine but not sappy conclusion. I found it different but still very enjoyable.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Neuromancer by William Gibson
If you are a sci-fi reader, it is almost impossible not to have this book in your pantheon. Neuromancer is the novel that changed sci-fi forever, dragging the "New Wave" artistry of Ellison kicking and screaming into the computer age. It is the book that gave us the term "cyberspace" and served as the archetype for all "cyberpunk" fiction that followed.

Dense and poetic, Neuromancer is essentially a mystery-adventure set in a dystopian future where Asian mega-corporations control the world's economy. But to simplify the novel like that is to do it a huge disservice. In a relatively short novel, Gibson addresses the futures of Man, Technology, Industry, space travel, computers, the Internet, cloning and Artificial Intelligence. And he manages to do so in a neo-lingua more razor-sharp than anything Burgess or Huxley could have ever imagined.

A must-read for any Internet junkie, sci-fi fan, sociology buff or anyone who just likes smart, lyrical prose.
~Reviewed by Bacardi Jim

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Heads up, fantasy lovers! This is one amazing tale of an ordinary guy who discovers extraordinary secrets about the underside of London that shake up his well-ordered life in ways he could never before imagine. It's a marvelously inventive and creepy tale, and I will never visit certain tube stations and landmarks in that city again without thinking of the things that might be hidden just around the corner or under my feet.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Second novel of Gaiman I've read, and once again loved every minute of it! The guy is witty, has an unbelievable imagination, writes with great originality and humor and is a brilliant story teller! In this book, one night a man named Richard helps a wounded girl, one who is part of another world that is some sort of alternative, but overlapping reality. Being pulled into her world, Richard will have to survive long enough to get back to his, and our, reality. He's in for the wildest ride of his life!
~Reviewed by Wimli

New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
I completed Paul Auster's 'New York Trilogy' too and was captivated by the stories from beginning to end. Very surreal and very well written. They certainly leave you thinking! I was so pulled in by the first, 'City of Glass', that, after reading more about it on the internet afterwards, I even went out and bought the graphic novel version of the story.
~Reviewed by Gelert

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
The Time Monks are at it again. Sam Vimes is chasing a dangerous criminal across the rooftops of Ankh-Morpork when he suddenly finds himself thirty-years in the past. This is a darker time in the city's history, and it's the eve of a street rebellion that needlessly destroyed many lives. The murderer has also been transported back and must be apprehended at all costs. Sam has a chance to change history, and to influence an impressionable young copper he knows intimately, namely himself. He is afraid he'll botch things up and never see his wife and unborn baby again, but, in typical Vimes tradition, it's a risk he must take to make things right. Although there are many humorous moments, this is the most serious of the Discworld novels I've read so far. It's excellent.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

Night Sky by Clare Francis
I also read a book published in 1983 by Clare Francis called Night Sky. It's about a young British woman who becomes pregnant out of wedlock in the early days of WWII. She flees to her French father's family in Breton to have her son and eventually becomes part of the French underground resistance. It's a fascinating book.
~Reviewed by Draclvr

The Nightside Series by Simon Green
So, here's the story, eh. My mother's a Biblical myth who killed my father while creating this dark, magical, alternative Under-London in which I live. Is it any wonder I ended up as a P.I.?

While not the most original writer ever, Green does a great job of merging classic noir plots and themes with an "urban fantasy" setting. Here is the private detective whom Harry Dresden can only aspire to be. John Taylor is funnier, cooler, slicker, and more motivated than Dresden will ever achieve. While I generally only chuckled, the seventh book in the series (Hell to Pay) had me frequently laughing out loud. There is real humor here, buried in borrowed originality. The end result is that you find yourself laughing when Taylor spouts some wiseass response to some-other-author's monster.

They are all other authors' monsters. And jokes. And ideas. Green "borrows" liberally from H. P. Lovecraft, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Monty Python (repeatedly), the computer game Anachronox, and, most particularly, from Neil Gaiman. In fact, most of the books read like Gaiman-lite.

After reading Neverwhere, I felt like I'd already been in a much-more-fully-realized version of "The Nightside."

Once Green finds a phrase he likes, he can't let go of it. He'll repeat it endlessly. Here's a list of phrases you will be sick of long before you reach the fourth book in the series:
Got it in one
Red in tooth and claw
He wears a black beret perched well back on his head to hide his spreading bald spot.
Not all of the things that look like cars are cars. And some of them are hungry.
They say he has his father's eyes.
I saved her from a house that tried to eat her and she adopted me--I had no choice.
Once I found it, it was the easiest thing in the world to......
Suzy Shooter AKA Shotgun Suzy AKA Oh, Hell, it's her, run!
Using my gift was like a beacon in the night...

The other major ugly thing is that there seems to be no consistency as to exactly how John Taylor's "gift" of being able to "find anything he's looking for" works. Often it fails him, and it sometimes (illogically) works in completely ridiculous and inexplicable (to anyone who isn't Simon Green) ways.

Overall, I enjoyed these books--at least through the first nine books, which I read compulsively. I hate that they are so short, so I barely feel like I'm getting my money's worth. And I hate that they are so derivative of other authors (and comedians) whom I so admire. But Green manages to fashion an interesting enough over-arcing storyline that it kept me buying his books at $6.50 a pop in spite of myself. It ain't great... but it's better than most else in the comparable genre.

Ignore the details--enjoy the ride.
~Reviewed by Bacardi Jim

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
In this excellent novel, a shooting in a high school leaves a small New Hampshire town reeling in shock and grief. The author writes a compelling story about the victims, the shooter, and their friends and families. She doesn't pull any punches, but she let's us see how something like this could come about. She also puts in an interesting twist that makes for a dramatic ending.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon ****
In a small village at the foot of the Italian Dolomites, the gardens of a deserted farmhouse have lain untouched for decades. But the new owner, keen for renovations to begin, is summoned urgently to the house when his workmen disturb a macabre grave.

Wild animals have done their grisly work and the human corpse is badly decomposed. Then a valuable signet ring is found close by, providing the first vital clue. It leads commissario Guido Brunetti right to the heart of aristocratic Venice, to a family still grieving for their abducted son...

I had never read a book by Donna Leon, but I instantly liked her style. While the mystery in this novel in itself was entertaining, it was the great atmosphere that she creates that made this one stand out. The main character of Guido Brunetti adds an extra layer to novel as a sort of Italian Philip Marlowe out of his depth in an aristocratic environment. A great read and a great discovery among mystery novels. I'll surely return to Leon's other Brunetti mysteries!
~Reviewed by Wimli

The Nonsuch Lure by Mary Luke
Once in a while, a book comes your way that is so moving and memorable you know that it will live forever in your mind. This is what I have found with The Nonsuch Lure. I was captivated from beginning to end. I know I will never read another book like it.

From the cover flap:

When Andrew Moffatt, a young, successful, and wealthy bachelor, finds an obscure seventeenth-century Journal in a Willamsburg bookstore, he feels impelled to travel to London on his annual holiday. There, at Cuddington House in the Strand, he is mysteriously attracted to the silver-haired, radiantly lovely Chloe Cuddington, a Tudor beauty whose ancestral lands were taken by King Henry VIII in order that he might build a palace "as there would be none such in the land."

While visiting the excavated ruins of the old Tudor palace in Surrey, Andrew finds himself in the presence of the Lure and of its guardian - a force as elusive as it is malign and utterly determined to destroy him. During hypnotic regression, it is revealed that twice before, Andrew has dueled mortally with the sinister force. Yet no evil can keep him from seeking the legendary Nonsuch Lure.

Forced to follow the path along which destiny guides him, Andrew discovers not only the Lure and its secret, but also the stunning reality of a soul's immortality, and the haunting triumph of a love that has spanned 400 years.

Based on actual incident during Tudor times, The Nonsuch Lure is a compelling love story, told with the consummate skill and human understanding which has marked the work of Mary Luke in her internationally acclaimed Tudor trilogy.
~Reviewed by Ghostlady


Omen (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi 2) by Christie Golden
The Jedi Order is in crisis. The late Jacen Solo’s shocking transformation into murderous Sith Lord Darth Caedus has cast a damning pall over those who wield the Force for good: Two Jedi Knights have succumbed to an inexplicable and dangerous psychosis, criminal charges have driven Luke Skywalker into self-imposed exile, and power-hungry Chief of State Natasi Daala is exploiting anti-Jedi sentiment to undermine the Order’s influence within the Galactic Alliance.

Forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is on a desperate mission to uncover the truth behind Jacen’s fall to the dark side–and to learn what’s turning peaceful Jedi into raving lunatics. But finding answers will mean venturing into the mind-bending space of the Kathol Rift and bargaining with an alien species as likely to destroy outsiders as deal with them. Still, there is no other choice and no time to lose, as the catastrophic events on Coruscant continue to escalate. Stricken by the same violent dementia that infected her brother, Valin, Jedi Knight Jysella Horn faces an equally grim fate after her capture by Natasi Daala’s police. And when Han and Leia Solo narrowly foil another deranged Jedi bent on deadly destruction, even acting Jedi Grand Master Kenth Hamner appears willing to bow to Daala’s iron will–at the expense of the Jedi Order.

But an even greater threat is looming. Millennia in the past, a Sith starship crashed on an unknown low-tech planet, leaving the survivors stranded. Over the generations, their numbers have grown, the ways of the dark side have been nurtured, and the time is fast approaching when this lost tribe of Sith will once more take to the stars to reclaim their legendary destiny as rulers of the galaxy. Only one thing stands in their way, a name whispered to them through the Force: Skywalker.
Since I started listening to these Star Wars books on my Ipod in they gym I have began to realise a couple of things:

1. I love my IPOD Touch :cool:
2. I'm getting waaaay fitter than I have been in years and losing weight at a steady rate.
3. I'm getting through these books like a starving man at a banquet.
4. This is the most up to date one so i'm stuck until they release the next one in a couple of weeks. :(

Anyway. The book is mostly setting up strands for the next 7 books to resolve. The trouble between the Jedi and the new government is simmering away nicely, Luke and Ben are learning new skills and tracking the path of Jacen's downfall, the Sith ship from the last series has found a lost tribe of the Sith and now they are about to head out into the galaxy with conquest on their minds.

However it was enjoyable to listen to and the pace kept up the excitement and although there hasn't been many space battles etc yet. I'm sure that is to come.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

One by Conrad Williams
This is the United Kingdom, but it's no country you know. No place you ever want to see, even in the shuttered madness of your worst dreams. But you survived. One man. You walk because you have no choice. At the end of this molten road, running along the spine of a burned, battered country, your little boy is either alive or dead. You have to know. You have to find an end to it all. One hope. The sky crawls with venomous cloud and burning rain. The land is a scorched sprawl of rubble and corpses. Rats have risen from the depths to gorge on the carrion. A glittering dust coats everything and it hides a terrible secret. New horrors are taking root. You walk on. One chance.
I thought the first part of the novel was great, the whole apocalyptic Britain thing has been done before and I applauded it for not going down the cliched zombie route of so many of the others.

The second part I was less impressed. I was initially thrown by the sudden leap forward in time I never really got back into the plotline until it vanished off the deep end with the whole Raft thing.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Once by James Herbert
It is about a man who has a stroke and needs some away time. So he goes back to the old manor servant house where he grew up. Upon returning he rediscovers things from his childhood. Some would call them faeries, witch's but there all connected to the land. As a kid he was able to see and interact with them but it takes something more as an adult for him to believe again. There is some excellent climatic scenes in this story. I really don't want to say anything else to give away the book 8-) This is a really good book full of wonder, suspence, and some eroticism thrown in. I highly recommend james herbert you can't go wrong with him. As for S. King's thoughts about him being negative towards herbert . I'd say he's right on par with kings work and in some instances surpasses him. Probably abit of jealousy on kings part.
~Reviewed by Ghost Soldier

Orbit by John J. Nance
Kip Dawson is disallusioned with life. His wife is distant, his kids blame him for the death of his first wife, he has a dead end job and one go into space.

When he wins a lottery contest to fly into low earth orbit with a private space company he is ecstatic. Once in orbit disaster strikes as a meteorite crashes into the ship killing the pilot and disabling the ship. With only a few days of oxygen left and no way to communicate with earth or fly the ship he resorts to telling his life story into the onship laptop.

Unbeknown to him a young hacker on Earth discovers that the signal is being broadcast in real time and sends the link to a few of his friends. Soon it is the biggest story on the planet and millions of people are following his every word as he writes about his life, his loves and his feelings. NASA and other space agencies race to rescue him as the political and media storm rages below as people watch with baited breath.

I really enjoyed this book. The ending was a tad unbelievable, but it was an interesting book.
~Reviewed by Lucien21

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The narrator of this unforgettable novel calls himself Snowman. As the story opens, we find him sleeping in a tree wrapped in an old sheet. As he wakes up, he mourns the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake. He has little food and searches for supplies in a wasteland where dangerous pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that once sheltered the extraordinary.

Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, which he must protect, Snowman, aka Jimmy, decides to make the dangerous journey back to the compound for more supplies. At the same time, through flashbacks, we learn the history of the current situation through Jimmy’s unique point of view.

Atwood presents the reader with a shocking senario of a future distopia without ever being preachy. She uses her sharp wit, dark humor, and beautifully crafted characters to weave a cautionary tale that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.
~Reviewed by Lady Kestrel

The Others by James Herbert
Hi again everyone. I just had to jump in again (although this isn't about the current books that are being discussed) and mention a book that I found a few days ago. I just started it last night and I am absolutely hooked! It's so rare nowadays to find a new author that grabs me, and so I was thrilled when I found myself up late last night reading under the covers while the rain lashed the windows. The books is called The Others by James Herbert, it's a British mystery with some wonderful supernatural stuff tossed in, and it's very well-written.

I had never read his work before and I think it was because Stephen King had said something about Herbert's work that was sort of negative, and since King is one of my all time favorites, I unfortunately listened to him and never gave Herbert a chance. Well I'm so glad that I finally did because this book is the most unusual thing I've read in a long time and I'm having a great time with it!

The prologue shows us a man who is trapped in hell due to his actions on earth, and he had been a man who had everything; looks, money, women, fame, etc. But he was a cold person who treated others terribly, and so here he is stuck in Hell for all eternity. Well, these beings (angels maybe?) come to him and offer him a chance to get out of Hell, but he must go back to earth and try life all over again. He jumps at the chance, and when Chapter One starts, we suddenly are dropped into the life of a man who is very different from the first one. This man is kind, keenly intelligent, works as a PI for a living, and is, unfortunately, totally misshappen. His head, face, and body are all a twisted parody of a human countenance, and he has hunch back as well. Despite the way he looks and how it hurts him inside, he braves the world each day and does his job, plus treats people well---the way he'd want to be treated.

As the story moves along, he's offered a case and while on the case, he starts seeing and hearing unusual things; a very handsome man in his mirror, the sight and sound of thousands of birds flapping in the room, and his nightmares begin to follow him straight out of his dream world.

What is going on? Well, I'm still reading the book so I can't tell you exactly, but I can say that our man from Hell is getting his second chance at life, but he's not having an easy time this time around!

I have no idea how this wonderful book is going to end, but so far it is amazing and I can hardly put it down! Even though I'm not finished with it, I just had to come tell you all about it and give a little review in the process because I'm thrilled to have found an author who is this talented! I think anyone who loves horror, the supernatural and mysteries would really enjoy this book!

Cat, who is off to read more and see if she can finish it today---I'm dying to know how this is going to end! :)
~Reviewed by Catbelly36

Outcast (Star Wars Fate of the Jedi 1) by Aaron Allston
After a violent civil war, and the devastation wrought by the now-fallen Darth Caedus, the Galactic Alliance is in crisis -- and in need. From all corners, politicians, power brokers, and military leaders converge on Coruscant for a crucial summit to restore order, negotiate differences, and determine the future of their unified worlds. But even more critical, and far more uncertain, is the future of the Jedi.

In a shocking move, Chief of State Natasi Daala orders the arrest of Luke Skywalker for failing to prevent Jacen Solo's turn to the dark side and subsequent reign of terror as a Sith Lord. But it's only the first blow in an anti-Jedi backlash fueled by a hostile government and suspicious public. When Jedi Knight Valin Horn, scion of a politically influential family, suffers a mysterious psychotic break and becomes a dangerous fugitive, the Jedi become the target of a media-driven witch-hunt. Facing conviction on the charges, Luke has only one choice. He must strike a bargain with the calculating Daala-his freedom in exchange for his exile from Coruscant and from the Jedi Order.

Now, though forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is determined to keep grim history from being repeated. With his son, Ben, at his side, Luke sets out to unravel the shocking truth behind Jacen Solo's corruption and downfall. But the secrets he uncovers among the enigmatic Force mystics of the distant world Dorin may bring his quest--and life as he knows it--to a sudden end. And all the while, another Jedi Knight, consumed by the same madness as Valin Horn, is headed for Coruscant on a fearsome mission that could doom the Jedi Order . . . and devastate the entire galaxy.
It was a quick read and I can't really pick too many faults in the stories, but it felt more like a trio of short stories than one novel.

The 3 distinct stories seem at the moment to have little in common (Esp the Han/Leia story in the mines).

I was initially glad that they seemed to be tackling the fact that the Jedi's have no real accountability and basically do what ever they like in the name of the Force. Luke realising this point just before his exile was a high point of the novel. They then proceeded to show in two of the main stories that the jedi are above the law and can meddle in foreign cultures when it suits them.

Overall though it was a quick and fun read.
~Reviewed by Lucien21
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.