Category Archives: Marion’s Favorite Books

Marion’s favorite books that he has reviewed.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 31: Ascending by Meg Pechenick

What if you were the only person on a spaceship with an alien race? You were the person groomed to speak an alien language and take part in an intercultural exchange between planets? You would want to do it in the first place? If you did, how you feel about it? Excited? Optimistic? Groundbreaking? Or would you feel scared? Alone? Unsure what made you reach that kind of decision?

Those questions I just mentioned in the prior paragraph are the questions that Avery Alcott, the protagonist of Ascending by Meg Pechenick has to deal with in this excellent first-contact story. The last first contact story I’ve read was The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Ascending has some similarities to The Sparrow in terms of linguistics and how does an individual assimilate into an alien culture. However, The Sparrow has a religious perspective (Catholicism) that Ascending does not. Both novels have done an excellent job of detailing the highs and lows of such an intercultural exchange.

The Vardeshi visited Earth and did not like what they saw from our planet. They vowed to never return. However, they came back twenty-five years later after their initial visit. This time, the Vardeshi agreed to accept an Earthling onto their ship to learn more about humankind. They chose Avery Alcott to be the sole representative from Earth for a year long mission to become a member on their ship headed into space.

Avery transitioned onto the Vardeshi spaceship well in the beginning but as the time passed, the conflicts and issues between cultures clashed. Pechenick does an excellent job with Avery showing realistic issues in this scenario. Also, she reveals Avery’s inner thoughts that go from eagerness to despair in a believable fashion.

I enjoyed reading Ascending and Avery Alcott was a compelling protagonist. However, I thought the reveal of a romance later in the novel did not set right with me. The hints were there earlier in the novel, but I did not feel convinced about the romance. It seemed out of place between those characters. That quibble should not stop readers from reading this excellent novel. I highly recommend Ascending and it continues my recent string of novels that have become my favorite reads of 2019.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 30: The Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

It is interesting how a certain sub-genre presents itself to you as a reader. I have not been a historical fiction reader throughout my reading life. However, I read several historical fiction novels over the past couple of years. Beginning with the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay like Children of Earth and Sky, A Brightness… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 29: The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli tells the story of Luca Vianello, heir to a gondola-making business. However, he is a participant to a tragedy that strikes the business and alters the course of his life. Luca begins to pick up the pieces of his life and becomes a boatman to an established and famed… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 26: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

One of the most often quoted verses of biblical scripture is from the New Testament book of 1 Timothy 6:10: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Even if you are a non-religious person, I’m pretty sure you have heard that verse of scripture in a secular fashion. It seems… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 24: How The Light Gets In by Louise Penny

One of the great joys of reading is coming upon a series that you would have never read at first glance. This has happened to me with the Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny. I’m a not a big mystery or crime fiction reader. However, I read The Long Way Home two years ago and… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 23: Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck

                “Sometimes a journey can take you far away from home. It can take you far away from what you believe. From the only world you have ever known. And make you realize how much we are connected to each other. Also, how divided we can be.” This… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 22: Little Dreamers by Vashti Harrison

            My 10-year-old daughter, Norah, was looking forward to reading this book together when she heard about it. Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World by Vashti Harrison celebrates the contributions of women from all over the globe.  Untold stories of women in business, art, literature, architecture, and science reveals… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 19: A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham

                A Betrayal in Winter continues the story of Otai Machi in the Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham.  A Shadow in Summer lays the foundation for Otah’s hero journey into becoming what has been destined for him.  Even though, he did not choose his destiny.  The actions… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 16: The Freelancer’s Survival Guide by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

            Reading is a subjective experience. One person may like a book you recommend to them.  But, the next person you recommend the book may hate it and never take your book recommendations again. That is the risk you always take when to come to recommending books. However, what if… Continue Reading