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May’s Book – Hybrids

May was a great month for reading, as well as travelling. The two just might have gone hand-in-hand! I managed to plough through 3 books in the one month while sitting on trains, plans and automobiles – kidding the that one, after all, those of you who know me well, know I can’t read ANYTHING in a car, not even a map, without getting sick. I’m going to make an attempt to review all three books that I read, even though my reviews are starting to get pretty heavy on one author. Yep, read another Sawyer book!

You may recall that I read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips in January,  Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams in February,  Hominds by Robert J. Sawyer in March and Humans by Robert J. Sawyer in April. Since I’d already read the first two books in the The Neanderthal Parallax  series, it only made sense for me to read the third and final installment, Hybrids.

May’s Book – Hybrids

Following is part of the description found on the Chapters website:

Now, in Hybrids, Ponter Boddit and his Homo sapiens lover, geneticist Mary Vaughan, are torn between two worlds, struggling to find a way to make their star-crossed relationship work. Aided by banned Neanderthal technology, they plan to conceive the first hybrid child, a symbol of hope for the joining of their two versions of reality.

But after an experiment shows that Mary”s religious faith – something completely absent in Neanderthals – is a quirk of the neurological wiring of Homo sapiens brains, Ponter and Mary must decide whether their child should be predisposed to atheism or belief. Meanwhile, as Mary”s Earth is dealing with a collapse of its planetary magnetic field, her boss, the enigmatic Jock Krieger, has turned envious eyes on the unspoiled Eden that is the Neanderthal world . . .
Hybrids is filled to bursting with Sawyer”s signature speculations about alternative ways of being human, exploding our preconceptions of morality and gender, of faith and love. His Neanderthal Parallax trilogy is a classic in the making, and here he brings it to a stunning, thought-provoking conclusion that”s sure to make Hybrids one of the most controversial books of the year.
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Aprils’s Book – Humans

Yes, I am well aware that we are currently in the month of June and that therefore by review of the book I read in April is VERY out of date! Hey, as I’ve often said, better late than never 🙂 You may recall that I read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips in January,  Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams in February and Hominds by Robert J. Sawyer in March. Since Hominds was the first book in a trilogy, I decided to continue along this theme and tackle the second book: Humans.

Following in the description found on Amazon:

For the most part, Ponter Boddit is happy to be back in his own world of Neanderthals. He has reunited with friends and family, and returned to his life as a physicist. Yet he can’t help but feel that unfinished business remains from his trip to the parallel world inhabited by the strange, possibly dangerous people who call themselves Homo sapiens. And he would like to see Mary Vaughan again.Humans, the second volume in Robert J. Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, tells the story of Ponter’s second trip to our world and the opening of the portal between worlds to a few other travellers. It is for the most part a quiet story of the deepening relationship between Ponter and Mary, as Ponter continues his investigation of the human world and develops a growing interest in the preoccupation of its residents with religion. Meanwhile, intercut scenes of Ponter in therapy in his homeworld contribute to a growing tension in the story, as the reason for Ponter’s feelings of guilt is slowly revealed. At the same time, scientists are beginning to notice that something odd is happening with the magnetic fields of both Earths.

I’m fairly certain that I’ve previously mentioned that Sawyer is one of my all time favorite authors, and the first two books in the The Neanderthal Parallax continue to prove this to me. As a middle book it doesn’t have the same intensity that you find in a standalone book, or the opening or closing of a series. For some this might turn them off, after all Sawyer is one who writes in a way that draws you in quickly and keeps you there. This book was much slower in pace than any other book I’d read by Sawyer, it took me pretty much the entire month of April to read. Humans is not as exciting as Hominds but I still found it to be a very well written book with great character developement. Don’t get me wrong, this is not one of my favorite books, but I still found it to be a satisfactory read.

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March’s Book – Hominids

My goodness three books to talk about already! You may recall that I read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, and Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams in February. So, what book did I read for March? I chose a book by one of my all time favorite authors, Robert J. Sawyer. The book in question is Hominids.

Over the years I’ve had a few different people suggest The Neanderthal Parallax to me. Being as the concept sounded interesting and I am a huge fan of Sawyer’s, I was interested. I used the last of my book money from Brain (great Christmas present might I add) and went shopping. I can home with Hominids among other books.

Following in the description found on the back of the book and at Chapters Online:

Hominids examines two unique species of people. We are one of those species; the other is the Neanderthals of a parallel world where they became the dominant intelligence. The Neanderthal civilization has reached heights of culture and science comparable to our own, but with radically different history, society and philosophy.

Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal physicist, accidentally pierces the barrier between worlds and is transferred to our universe. Almost immediately recognized as a Neanderthal, but only much later as a scientist, he is quarantined and studied, alone and bewildered, a stranger in a strange land. But Ponter is also befriended-by a doctor and a physicist who share his questing intelligence, and especially by Canadian geneticist Mary Vaughan, a woman with whom he develops a special rapport.

Ponter’s partner, Adikor Huld, finds himself with a messy lab, a missing body, suspicious people all around and an explosive murder trial. How can he possibly prove his innocence when he has no idea what actually happened to Ponter?

As I said, and interesting concept. Well, let’s put it this way. In spite of working two jobs, volunteering with Girl Guides, having a busy social life and two sick cats, I read this book in 4 or 5 days. I loved it.

As always Sawyer does a great job of pulling real science in. He presents it in a way that a layperson can understand and relate to. The characters he creates are once yet again interesting, complex and realistic. They have challenges, hopes, dreams and they to experience the often unfairness of life. Finally, I always enjoy the Canadian aspects and references in his books. Sawyer is a Canadian author and thankfully it means that Canada is shown in all her glory and disarray. There are landmarks that I have been to, seen, or heard of.

All in all, I am very happy with this book. That said, I would have been surprised if I found myself saying “don’t bother.” Truly I have yet to read something by Sawyer that I haven’t enjoyed!

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February’s Book – Tailchaser’s Song

As you all know at the beginning of the year I set two goals, one of them being to read one book a month. The book for January was Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, of which you can find my thoughts on here. My book for February was Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams.

Matt loaned this book to me since he figured I would enjoy it. It’s great having friends you can share books with 🙂 I’m glad he did send me on my way with it as I quite happily carried it around with me for the better part of a month. Pulling it out to read every time I found myself waiting on something!

Following in the description found on the back of the book:

“Meet Fritti Tailchaser, a ginger tom cat of rare courage and curiosity, a born survivor in a world of heroes and villains, of powerful feline gods and whiskery legends about those strange, furless, erect creatures called M’an. Join Tailchaser on his magical quest to rescue his catfriend Hushpad – a quest that will take him all the way to cat hell and beyond . . . .”

After reading the back I saw his point, I have two cats what is not to love about a book staring a cat? I’ll be honest, I was leery, very unsure about the book. I didn’t think it really sounded like something I was overly interested in. But hey, Matt knows me fairly well so if he thought I would like it, I’ll try to trust his judgement and give it a try (after all, he suggested Brida, which as we all know I LOVED).

For the first little bit I was sure I’d been right, that I wasn’t very interested in it. Then all of a sudden I became invested in the characters and I couldn’t put the darn book down. It took me over a month to read the first part of the book, but the bulk of it was read over the course of a couple of lunch breaks and an evening in front of the fire. I hate to admit it, but darn it all, Matt was right! (don’t anyone tell him I said that!).

Verdict – another book that you all should head out and read!

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January’s Book – God’s Behaving Badly

As you all know at the beginning of the year I set two goals, one of them being to read one book a month. The book for January was “Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Phillips.

I picked this book up at the Waterstones in the Pearson Airport when flying back to Halifax after the holidays. My only requirement while shopping as something that seem relatively light and like a fairly easy read. I’ll be honest, I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case I totally did. I just liked the look of it!

Following in the released description for this book(as found both inside the cover and on the Chapters Website):

“Being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life’s hard for a Greek god in the twenty-first century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn’t respect you, and you’re stuck in a dilapidated hovel in North London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there’s no way out… until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives and turn the world upside down. “

So, what did I think of this book? I enjoyed it so much that by the time I landed in Halifax (five hours later) I had almost finished it. I was right, it was an easy read and fairly light. The Gods were portrayed in an interesting and very human manner and the two starring mortals were flawed, personable with many realistic qualities. The only thing I will hold against this book is that it’s not for all ages. There are some overt sexual references and there is swearing. So, totally acceptable for older kids (parent depending) and adults.

It’s books like this one that remind me why I so enjoy picking up a new book when I travel. Would I have picked this one up on a normal day in the book store, most likely not. Am I glad I picked it? Very much so.

Final verdict? Go out, pick it up, give it a read.

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