Sleeping Giants

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Sleeping Giants is an exciting and engaging look at how we react when finding ancient artifacts that science cannot explain. Science is about answering questions, even when we may not be ready for the answers.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 12.18.08 AMA girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.”

I mean, reread that description. How cool does this book already sound? A giant metal hand buried in the earth?! Ok, here’s more: Years later Rose and other scientists are still trying to solve the puzzle of the giant hand and more importantly…who put it there. Told in the format of interviews with each of the key players (similar to World War Z and the logs from The Martian) the story goes through the efforts of scientists and the military to unravel this ancient secret and ultimately answer the question, “Are we alone?”

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I really enjoyed this book. I was along for the ride from the first chapter when little Rose fell into a hole and discovered an ancient robot hand. I could not wait to find out what this freaking hand was and who put it there. The interview format means we don’t really get deep inside any characters heads, so there isn’t a ton of depth to them; but I didn’t find this a barrier to my enjoyment. For me the story was about this discovery process and how it effects humankind, more than it was about an single person involved. I did find the characters telling the interviewer (even the ones who hated him) their super personal (and um, sexual) details to be a bit unbelievable, but that’s due to the limit of the format.

This Sci Fi book is definitely science-light, so it should be enjoyable by everyone. While this book answered a lot of the initial questions, there’s still a ton to learn. Naturally, this book is part of a planned series of which Neuvel says there will be at least three. Because you can’t write a Sci Fi book unless it’s at minimum a trilogy. It’s hard to say much more about the story since it quickly goes into spoiler territory. I guess you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out!

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Fascinating story

Great build up for the next book without leaving a concocted cliffhanger

Kept me on the edge of my seat with each new discovery

Kara, a pilot, reminded me of her namesake in Battlestar Galactica.

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Format limited character development

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“If you are a scientist you believe that it is good to find out how the world works; that it is good to find out what the realities are; that it is good to turn over to mankind at large the greatest possible power to control the world and to deal with it according to its lights and its values.”

“Justice is usually much swifter for someone in my trade. It comes unannounced, usually from behind, and as far as I know, it is never prefaced by a meeting at the White House.”

Watching Edie

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Watching Edie, written by Camilla Way, is one of those stories that will constantly make you question the truth of what you are reading, and the reliability of the narrator. It is the story of the friendship of Edie and Heather. The book transitions back and forth from the POV present day Edie and that of in-the-past-teenager Heather. In the present Edie is pregnant and alone when her old friend Heather suddenly shows back up in her life. Edie is clearly traumatized by an event from their shared past and wants nothing to do with Heather. Through the eyes of past-Heather however, we slowly unravel what happened between the two women so many years ago that has left Edie lost and afraid.

This is a very tightly written book that will keep you guessing and trying to speed through as fast as you can to get to the end. As the book neared the moment of truth from the past I could not put it down; dying to know what happened to cause so much pain. It leads you in one direction only to pull you in another shortly after. It makes you question your perceptions and how easily you can be manipulated by characters you thought you could trust. I for one, did not see it coming. The book moves slowly enough that it doesn’t quite feel like a thriller, but it certainly kept me on my toes and messed with my head.

PROS:

Twists that didn’t feel forced

Not always sure who the villain is

Seemingly accurate (and sympathetic) representations of postpartum depression and abuse victims

Cons:

Was often hard to keep the two women straight in my head as the story swapped POVs so often

Not really a con, but the ending seemed unbelievable to me until I remembered that laws in the UK are different than laws in the U.S.

Quotable Quotes:

“He never speaks about her, but you can somehow see the memory of her there still, in his eyes and his smile, the way they do remain a part of us, those people who have hurt us very deeply, or who we have hurt, never letting us go, not entirely.”¬†

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories

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In his debut book, Luke Mogelson masterfully weaves together 10 stories linked by the war in Afghanistan. Each story shows a glimpse into the life of a veteran, a family member of a veteran, or a civilian living abroad, at some point during or after their time in Afghanistan. It demonstrates the harrowing effect of war on those we send to fight it and those they’ve left behind. Some of the stories contain characters that shows up in another story in the book and you learn something more about what happened to them before or after their previous appearance. This book illustrates that many who have fought in a war have a hard time adjusting to life outside the military once they return home. Many of the stories even seem to end abruptly, without much explanation of what happened next. This could be frustrating at times, but I think it’s poetic that the endings weren’t always tied up with a nice little bow. By now we’ve all heard of PTSD, but it can manifest itself in different ways. I think this book is an excellent example of how people cope (or don’t) in different ways.

PROS:

Beautifully written with countless haunting passages

Tragic insight into PTSD and the multitude of experiences in war

Includes stories about what it’s like for a contractor or civilian in Afghanistan during war time, which is a view that hasn’t been talked about as much as the experience of soldiers

CONS:

Some of the abrupt endings left me confused

It wasn’t always clear when a character from another story showed up, I had to reference the book jacket multiple times as it mentions all the stories that are tied together.

Quotable quotes:

“It was my favorite because it angled out to a wide base that made it difficult to knock over, because there was often vodka in it instead of coffee, and because the wide base meant that the more you drank, the harder it became to reach the bottom.”

“Nowadays, only the families remain: fathers with nothing else to give their sons, sons with no one else to be except their fathers.”

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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