I, Robot by Howard S Smith

I, RobotNorth Korea defiantly launches a nuclear-tipped missile over Japan, exploding it in a mushroom-cloud firestorm offshore. A nuclear Iran, through its allies in Lebanon, is mercilessly lobbing missiles into Israel. A powerful China launches a killer satellite and destroys half of America’s spy satellites. Will one man’s love for a woman save the world, or destroy it? A fast read with an ending you don’t expect. The technology is cutting edge.
(From Goodreads)

It took me a while to get into this book. It starts off interesting though, as it looks like something hit the fan and the world is going to doom. Although readers may tend to wonder what this all has to do with a Japanese police officer who has a terrible OCD issue, well you just have to read along to connect the dots. To simplify it, Haruto (the police officer) attempts to solve a case, but finds out it leads to a much bigger and badder fish that are out to cause a lot more chaos and havok than usual in the world.

It’s not easy to figure out. There’s lots of scientific terminology in the book and I did find it a bit hard to understand. (There are helpful illustrations though!) The concept of these robots being used as terrifying super soldiers is interesting, although the bloodbath they would create is naturally, horrible. There are a few subplots involved in this book, some that are related to the big storyline, a few aren’t. The plot might not entirely feel solid but the reading is tolerable and can be understood once everything is put into place and perspective.

Haruto as a character, is interesting, yet quirky because of his obsessive compulsive behavior, but his sense of honor and the strict adherence to the “rules” also show a side of naivete. He’s almost like an overgrown child in some sense. His OCD issue does get in the way of a lot of things, and it’s mentioned a lot throughout the book. It can get annoying – at least it did to me.

What I expected from this book, was more robots! there is only one scene where the robot talks to Haruto, but after that, there’s nothing else. I thought there was going to be more interaction between humans and robots besides just using them as soldiers.

There are quite a few characters in the novel, and although it’s easy to tell which ones are the main characters and which ones are supporting ones, some just seem to arrive at certain points of the novel, and then fall out of existence. It would have been nice to figure out what happens them in the long run. The ending of the book was alright, although a little cliche, but it was an alright book overall.

People look at the title, and think of the movie, it’s not about that at all, there is an author’s note about that as well. I’d rather wish he didn’t name it that title as the robots aren’t really what you think (as it was, in the movie for example). However, it was a good read overall, I’d say take it or leave it. The scientific lingo might scare some readers away, or bore them, but the action isn’t too bad.

I give it a 6/10

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Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

Mine is the nightStepping from a battered coach on a rainy April eve, newly widowed Elisabeth Kerr must begin again, without husband or title, property or fortune. She is unafraid of work and gifted with a needle, but how will she stitch together the tattered remnants of her life? And who will mend her heart, torn asunder by betrayal and deception? Elisabeth has not come to Selkirk alone. Her mother-in-law, Marjory Kerr, is a woman undone, having buried her husband, her sons, and any promise of grandchildren. Dependent upon a distant cousin with meager resources, Marjory dreads the future almost as much as she regrets the past. Yet joy still comes knocking, and hope is often found in unexpected places. Then a worthy hero steps forward, rekindling a spark of hope. Will he risk his reputation to defend two women labeled as traitors to the Crown? Or will a wealthy beauty, untainted by scandal, capture his affections? (From Amazon.ca)

I have read books with wonderful writing, and this is one of them. For the length it is (it’s long in my standards) I managed to finish it in record time because the writing in this is beautifully done. Descriptions of the setting and the atmosphere were good, the character’s emotions were easily represented, but the characters themselves. Wow, you formed an attachment to them quickly and easily!

I liked reading both about Marjory and Elisabeth. They were both equally very strong women and their attempts to overcome their difficulties were admirable. My favorite would be Elisabeth though. It felt as if nothing would stand in her way and she did manage to help herself and others come out of the state she was in when the story began. The chemistry between herself and Jack was wonderful! I loved how their love for each just grew gradually as the novel progressed. I can’t even begin to describe Jack. Everything about him was nice. He was definitely one of the strong silent types but once you went underneath that front, he really is a supportive gentlemanly character to love!

The overall plot of this book was really good. Marjory and Elisabeth encountered a lot of hostility at first, and things just happened one event after another but I liked how their strength pulled them through and they worked so well together despite their hardships. The pace is even and smooth so the reading ends up being quicker than usual and you’ll find yourself wanting to stay up late to finish. The ending was also well done as it closed up all loose ties rather nicely. Not sure if there is going to be another book following this, it doesn’t leave anything open but there could be a possibility of something in the future if you were to look it that way.

I would say the only thing that did bother me was the language issue. I don’t know Scottish lingo and although this is a glossary/dictionary in the back there were a few phrases that I just could not make out. It can be distracting to readers but luckily enough most of it is easy and straight forward. Those that aren’t religious may or may not be put off with all the bible/proverb quoting. It didn’t bother me at all. Other than those two minor details, I can’t think of anything wrong with this book.

Even though I’m not religious, I enjoyed reading this book. It’s certainly a ‘feel-good’ clean romantic historical fiction that I think others who aren’t religious could enjoy. Yes there’s lots of quotes from from the bible, and other proverbs but would that really bother you if all you’re looking for is a good solid plot with beautifully written characters? I say give this book a try if you like historical fiction. I have no regrets.

I give it a 9.5/10