The Rowan - Anne McCaffrey

I am reviewing The Rowan as part of the Anne McCaffrey Reading Challenge 2011 which I am hosting here.

If you would like more information on the Challenge, check out my post here.


Summary from Amazon:
The Talents were the elite of the Nine Star League. Their gifts were many and varied, ranging from the gently telepathic, to the rare and extremely valued Primes. On the Primes rested the entire economic wealth and communications systems of the civilised worlds. But Primes were scarce — only very rarely was a new one born. And now, on the planet Altair, in a small mining colony on the western mountain range, a new Prime existed, a three-year-old girl — trapped in a giant mud slide that had wiped out the rest of the Rowan mining community. Every Altarian who was even mildly talented could ‘hear’ the child crying for help, but no one knew where she was buried. Every resource on the planet was centred into finding ‘The Rowan’ — the new Prime, the first ever to be born on Altair, an exceptionally unique Prime, more talented, more powerful, more agoraphobic, more lonely, than any other Prime yet known in the Nine Star league.


I have to admit that when I first read the blurb I thought it would be a very complicated sci fi story and that I wouldn't love it as much as Anne McCaffrey's dragon books. Well... I was WRONG! This is one of the best book (and series) I have read in a long time. It ranks close to Harry Potter, if not higher. And I stand by what I just said.

Anne McCaffrey wrote two series in the Talents universe which involves Earth functioning thanks to the Talents of telepathic or telekinetic persons in an interstellar society. Those Talents are used to communicate and teleport spaceships through space. The Rowan is the first novel of the Tower and Hive series which counts five books in chronological order, each narrated by a different person. The novels can work as standalones but you might want to read them in the order! I have finished reading the third one and I am hooked!

This series is original, inventive, thoroughly fascinating and wonderfully written. I started reading it and thought how much it made sense that humans would have found a way to colonise other planets and that - of course - Talents exist and would take a bigger role in our society in the future. At school and University you look at history through a different timeline and try to isolate trends and maybe signs in previous generations of what would ultimately happen, and I find the Tower and Hive series to be something like a possible future for us when you think about it. (I am not making any sense, am I? Sorry!)

Aside from the fact that the plot is cleverly construed and presented in a very clear way, the story in itself is fabulous! So you enjoy a great story and at the same time it makes you think about several themes = win win :)

The Rowan is the name of the main character, a little girl on the planet Altair who loses her family in a terrible accident. Her entire village is destroyed but somehow, the child survives and is in such a panic that she broadcasts her screams both physically and mentally to a degree that everyone on the planet can hear her. She is seen as one of the most promising Talents in the Universe and is trained by Siglen, the Prime of Altair. The Rowan is also raised by Lusena who will be a mother figure for her even though The Rowan feels very much alone and not well accepted by her peers.
The book tells the story of The Rowan from infancy to her adult years so I can't delve too much into the plot without spoiling some of the story but let me tell you that there are EXCITING moments as well as some truly ROMANTIC moments (which, I have to admit, were so adorable that a lot of swoon ensued).
The Rowan is a fantastic character and it is really interesting to see her mature through the book. She is very strong but has her soft spots. I also *adore* Afra and Jeff Raven is fabulous (you'll see what I mean when you read it!).

One aspect of this book I loved was how technical the whole space transport system is. I mean, it isn't fascinating in itself but the story is so well plotted that all the technical bits and pieces are taken into account and I love how even the station assistants have an important role in the system. It also shows how dependent each planet/system is with others and how things work more smoothly with cooperation. The book really brings forward the humanity of some characters and ideas like equality and solidarity which can be applied to international relations today.

Each new Anne McCaffrey book I pick up looks weird and something I might not like at first but it takes me a few pages to immerse myself in a new adventure that is thrilling to read and fascinating to think about. The descriptions are so vivid that I can't help thinking Anne McCaffrey has the talent to see the future and she is merely reporting what will exist! I am also amazed at how contemporary some of the themes and issues presented in the book are. The stories are very visionary and I can't wait to get my hands on all the others! As per usual, I can't recommend reading Anne McCaffrey enough!

Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

Summary from Amazon:
Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek God. I was just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. That's when things started really going wrong. Now I spend my time fighting with swords, battling monsters with my friends, and generally trying to stay alive.

This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky, thinks I've stolen his lightning bolt - and making Zeus angry is a very bad idea.

Can Percy find the lightning bolt before a fully-fledged war of the Gods erupts?


I knew about this series mostly because Becky @ The Bookette kept raving about it and you know how I am with series, I need to have all of them close to me so that I can read them back to back, so I didn't want to get started without having a solid weekend in front of me. Then Friday happened. I wanted a book to read and didn't know what to choose. I have a good 200 books unread on my shelves, all of different genres, length and even language, but out of all of these, I picked up The Lightning Thief and I couldn't stop reading until I picked up and finished The Sea Of Monsters. Now I was all desolate because I only had those two home but then a shiny idea appeared to me: "Kindle!!". So I've just bought the rest of the series and pre-ordered The Son Of Neptune :) (thankfully, my Mom and my banker don't go on the blog often so I'm safe saying this here)

This series is quite simply brilliant. Like *really* brilliant. There is some fast-paced action, some awesome characters and one spunky hero! The book is also very clever and intertwines Greek myths. Now, I'm a nerd as much as the next person, but I don't appreciate the condescending tone of some books with historical or mythical background as if you're a kid and the writer is teaching you. This book is not like this at all, it ROCKS!! You learn a lot without losing interest in the story or without the action losing pace.

Percy is a sweet character and kudos to Rick Riordan for making dyslexia and ADHD not look like a handicap or something laughable. The problem with literature is that it often forgets to add realism to its character (you know, they are all healthy and bright and handsome etc.) when in reality, more often than not, everyone has their own little quirks. And not only Percy, but various characters in the book are presented, as humans, in a way and as their "birth-form" in another. It is definitely an uplifting book on that front and there is so much kindness emanating from the characters (well, not Hades of course) that you can't help feeling full of love when reading.
I love the Percy-Poseidon relation and I can't wait to read more about their powers. As a Mediterranean, the sea fascinates me and this book truly shows the latent (and sometimes not so latent) power of the sea. Poseidon is a fantastic character and definitely my favourite of the Big Three :)

I *adore* Annabeth. She is a kick-ass heroine and shines with the characteristics of her mother Athena. That's one thing I love in this book: female characters hold their own so it is truly fantastic for both boys and girls to read. I really love all the other characters so I won't be making a list here, but they all have depth in them and, when you think about it, the characterisation is fantastic when considering all the mythology that the author has put in this. All the characters make sense with their mythical persona and in the modern story. It is mind-boggling how spot on some of them are!

The book is told in Percy's point of view and I really love that kid. His voice is perfect and really brings you in the best adventures ever. I won't tell you the story but the journey from Percy-mere-clumsy-human at the beginning to son of Poseidon is wonderful. There are some really good themes in the book which are fantastic for kids to read: there is courage, friendship, loyalty and trust, but there is also the idea that no matter how small and insignificant you are, and no matter the fact that you might probably fail, the journey is always worth taking.

So you might not have noticed from this review (hee hee), but I just became a *HUGE FAN* of this series. Definitely a book for the brain, for the heart and a little bit for the soul as well, you'll see. Everything is fantastic and I can't wait to read more.

A zillion thank you to the fabulous Becky for being awesome :)

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan | 2005 | Puffin | Bought from WH Smith.

Outside In - Maria V. Snyder

Summary from Amazon:
Me? A Leader? Okay, I did prove that there's more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we're free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again while still touching base with Riley, of course. He's the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there is outside and then there is Outside. And something from Outside wants In.


Outside In is the sequel to the thrilling Inside Out (my review here), for which I have interviewed the author Maria V. Snyder (link here). This review will have spoilers for the first book, so go and read it before reading this review!

The Queen Of The Pipes is back!!!!
(I *love* Trella!!)

This is a fantastic series and the sequel is as nerve-racking as the first! When I learned what the deal was with Inside/Outside, I had this strange sensation of falling into space. I have bad vertigo so the whole idea of being *gasp* in space *gasp* - no matter how fabulous it would be  - just made me hold onto walls all day. Here, not only is everyone stuck inside, but they are helpless when something on the Outside wants to go in. 

We find Trella who spends most of her time as a consultant to the new Committee in charge of making life better Inside. But old habits die hard and "Uppers" do not wish to do manual jobs with scrubs. A lot of discontent appears among the various levels and several acts of rebellion are casting a shadow on the joy of unity at last.
Trella is also starting to have issues with Riley. He doesn't like how she never spends time with him and how she is always putting herself in harm's way. There is also the question of Dr Lamont who betrayed her and how they have to live together and how she might be her mother. So Trella's life isn't that fantastic after the rebellion, but it's nothing compared to what it will be when Outside tries to come Inside and people start to die.

I really love Trella as a character, she has her own mind and can't really shake an entire life of feeling alone and rejected. She has also her flaws which make her even more endearing! We get to have a better look at the other characters' personality, especially after there is no more distinction between Uppers and scrubs.
I find that the book is a brilliant exemple of human nature and how "easy" it is to manipulate people in being divided just by giving them the impression that the Other is different. The system implemented by the Travas in Inside Out was a clear example of "Divide to Conquer" whereas on the other side, Outside In shows how a lack of leadership isn't always a good thing because if everyone has a voice, some will always scream louder than others.

Trella makes some even more fascinating discoveries by visiting the "ship" and I am dying to know more about it (because there will be more about it, right? RIGHT?!!) and how it started and - obviously - how it will end!!! She is a fantastic character and definitely a kick ass heroine. I loved the development of her relationship with Riley and how she is maturing. I am also a huge fan of the Tech Nos like Logan! There are various personalities in the book and they reflect well the situation in which they are living in.

The book is really well written and you stay at the edge of your seat the whole time. I've read it in barely two days because I needed to know what was happening next! There are some violent passages and some sexy times but nothing too bad.

This is one of those stories where the less you say the better since the surprise will make it even more fascinating so I highly recommend this series to people who enjoy dystopia, sci-fi, thrillers and anything going on in space. The story will resonate in you in a "what if?" kind of way and you will want to continue reading for the story, if not just for the survival tips. (Yes, I see dystopia as just an anticipation of what might come in the future and as the best way to be prepared for anything.)

Note to self: Learn how to climb a rope, throw a punch and navigate in pipes.

Many thanks to Mira Ink for sending me the book!

Outside In by Maria V Snyder | 2011 | Mira Ink | Sent to me by the publisher!

The Dragon Whisperer - Lucinda Hare

Summary from Amazon:

Imagine you could talk to dragons...
Quenelda has always had a magical bond with dragons, and her greatest wish is to fly one and fight alongside her father in the war against the hobgoblins.
Root, on the other hand, wishes only to avoid the fearsome creatures, so the role of Quenelda’s esquire is the last thing he needs.
But an unexpected friendship is forged, and when Dragons Dome is besieged by a deadly plot, this unlikely duo must find a way to defeat the dark forces.
Epic battles, whispered legends and soaring magic combine in this breathtaking debut fantasy, with black and white illustrations by David Wyatt.


I'm not sure whether I'll be able to convey with words what I felt reading The Dragon Whisperer and Flight To Dragon Isle. The books were so irresistibly wonderful that I've read them back to back one after the other in a couple of days. I felt like I was ten again and that the universe was just a big adventure waiting to be discovered. This series is an absolutely fantastic story and it brilliantly fills the void left by the end of Harry Potter.

Quenelda is the daughter of the Earl Rufus DeWinter, Commander of the Stealth Dragon Service (SDS), the force composed of humans and dragons fighting in a place where hobglobins threatened the very existence of both species. Quenelda's mother is unknown and her step-brother is arrogant and proud. Unlike other ladies of the Court, Quenelda doesn't care much about etiquette or pretty dresses, she only has eyes for dragons. Quenelda meets Root, a young gnome, who is afraid of dragons but is brave, courageous and a fabulous compagnion who will stay by Quenelda's side. Theirs is a story of true friendship. They are different but are brought together by circumstances and a strong will. When a horrendous plan is put together to overthrow Quenelda's father and hurt the peace created by the SDS, Quenelda doesn't hesitate to act even though she is a girl and still a child.

I absolutely adored the dragons, their names (Two Gulps And You're Gone is the funniest dragon name!) and the way they interacted with Quenelda in particular. Lucinda Hare has created a fantastic world revolving around those fabulous creatures and you can see the passion she has for animals bursting through every page. I really wish this place existed so that I could live there!
It is a beautiful story but there is so much more to it. The story is about being different, about courage, loss, compassion and so many things which makes this series deep without trying to be serious (hence my comparison with Harry Potter). Quenelda and Root, being a girl and a gnome, fight all preconceived notions and prejudice from the entire society to get to what they want.
Quenelda has some spunk and will not let society and tradition dictate her life. Root is a sweetheart and gains confidence in himself by staying with Quenelda. With Quenelda's knowledge, we learn together with Root how to differentiate, love and take care of dragons. You cannot but love the sudden fascination he has for a dragon, Dancing With The Stars!
There is also a mystery surrounding Quenelda's mother and her strange talent with dragons and we keep wanting to know more!

This book is compelling, unputdownable and utterly irresistible. Children of all ages will love the personalities of the characters and the dragons. There are also adorable illustrations in the book so it is a great book for younger readers (and older readers) (much older). It is also a great book for either boys or girls.
They will relate to the characters' story and be shown that you might be small and laughed at by everyone but you still can save the day by pursuing what you feel is right. It is really a fantastic adventure with a lot of action and laughs!

And if you want to discover the first 45 pages of the book, click on the widget below:

And if you want to read Lucinda Hare talking about dragons, head over to her guest post here.

The Dragon Whisperer by Lucinda Hare | 2009 | Random House Children's Books | Sent to me by the publisher!