Book Review: Emergence by Rachel E. Fisher—and a Recipe Tour

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Eden’s Root Trilogy #3
Published April 30, 2013
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EmergenceEmergence
Eden’s Root Trilogy #3
Rachel E. Fisher
Rachel E. Fisher, April 2013
ISBN 9781484183915
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The pieces on the board are in motion and with both sides gathering strength, each move will be critical. When the Truthers make a play for checkmate, the Seeders are forced to respond.

Fi and her companions will face greater challenges and higher stakes than ever before, because this time if they fail, it’s for keeps.

Ah, it’s so  nice to re-connect in real life with the people we learn to love and appreciate and the same is true with the book series we read. Fi and Asher, Sara and Sean, and many of their friends have stuck in my mind and it was a real pleasure to see them again. I have also enjoyed getting to know certain other characters better than I did before, Seeders like Squeak , Darryl and Julius and even some of the Truthers, as unpleasant as they are. After all, to truly understand the two bitterly opposing sides, you first need to understand why they have become that way.

For my earlier reviews of the first two books, Eden’s Root and Seeds of War, go here.

I came across one thing fairly early on that alarmed me a bit in the depiction of the ultra-religious side, a feeling that the author’s treatment was overly harsh, making it seem as though there are no good aspects to religion. Ms. Fisher soon showed a different approach to the subject in one small but significant scene and I realized I was wrong about her intent. One other issue bothered me a little; the post-partum depression that Fi experiences is rooted in reality and I felt her descent into a personal hell, really felt it. The problem for me came when she recovered because it was just too immediate. Yes, some very good news was the impetus for her coming out of it but it happened too fast and completely for me to believe.

Putting that aside, Ms. Fisher has once again crafted a story that grabbed my attention in the very beginning and never let go until the end. Continuing with the theme of what can happen when genetic manipulation runs amok, the Seeders and the Truthers finally confront each other over how the world will go forward now that billions have perished thanks to the destruction of most of the food supply. Was war between the two sides inevitable? Yes, I believe so, for a number of reasons, not least of which is humanity’s propensity for hatred of ideas that are different. We don’t do very well at  accommodating each other’s positions or accepting that there is not just one correct way of life, do we? Ms. Fisher has done a masterful job of bringing her young characters to a point where maturity (perhaps born of great necessity) is now allowing them to be judicious even while their passions have not abated a bit. When their home is attacked and their friends and family put at great harm, Fi, Asher, Sean and Sara have only one goal in mind: to make it all right. How they will do that and still retain their own honor is at the heart of this conclusion to a captivating post-apocalyptic trilogy.

And about that ending…did I love it? Yes, heartbreak and all, but I also hated it because I don’t want to let go of these people. It’s a suitable ending, no doubt, and it wraps things up nicely, letting the readers feel a sense of completion but I have high hopes that we’re going to see these folks again considering the discovery that Asher makes in the last pages. Please, Ms. Fisher,  tell us more!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2013.

About the Author

Rachel E. Fisher

Rachel E. Fisher

I am a wife and entrepreneur living and working in Florida. I am also a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where I majored in Biology. It was always my assumption that I would end up making research my life. Though it did not work out that way in the end, my passion for Biology remains intact.
I have always loved biology-based science-fiction and the young adult genre. It is in this vein that I offer my work.

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Recipes From Rachel’s Website

Sweet Savory Crossovers – Cinnamon and Chesnuts

Cinnamon Sticks - Healthy, Sweet Savory Crossover

Cinnamon Sticks – Healthy, Sweet Savory Crossover

Like my post on Quinoa, I would like to draw inspiration from some sweet / savory crossovers that made it into the evening meal last evening.  It occurs to me that lots of people who want to eat differently need to start by doing just that…eating ‘differently’.  In other words, just expanding your food horizons will help you to discover new things, new flavors, and new ways of putting things together.

Cinnamon
Last night’s meal brought to mind how much I personally love flavors that can go with either a sweet or a savory dish.  One of the most interesting is Cinnamon.  Growing up, I always thought of Cinnamon as being a spice that goes with desserts and sweets exclusively, that is, until I saw someone use it in a chicken rub!  I was shocked but the chef was Mexican and she said that they use Cinnamon in a lot of their savory cooking.  Then I saw the same thing in an Indian meal and I was hooked on the idea.  To illustrate, I’ll describe last night’s meal: Vegan Chile Relleno

2 large roasted and peeled poblano peppers

1 giant portabella mushroom, chopped into small pieces/crumbles (can also use tofu crumbles or tempeh), marinated and seasoned and then cooked with onions.

1/2 large onion, diced and cooked.

1 cup brown rice, cooked and drained

1/4 cup of vegan almond, based pepper jack cheese, shredded

Just stuff and bake at 375 for about 8 minutes…It was delicious!  But where did the cinnamon come in?  In my mushroom mixture.  I marinated the mushroom crumble in soy sauce, mushroom broth, salt, pepper, oregano (also a staple in Mexican cooking), chili powder, and CINNAMON!

The interesting thing about cinnamon once you start using it in savory dishes is that you realize that Cinnamon is not actually a sweet taste or flavor.  Rather it is spicy or hot, just like GINGER!  The reason people reach for it with fruit pies and cookies is to help offset the sweetness, to provide a subtle heat to balance the sweet.  When you use Cinnamon in savory dishes (tofu and veggie chili for vegans, chicken and pork come to mind for non-vegans), you taste the heat and the flavor but there is nothing strange or ‘desserty’ about it.  I suggest that you give it a try in your next savory dish but GO EASY and TASTE.  It is a very strong spice and a little goes a long way.

Chesnuts

Delicious Roasted Chesnuts

Delicious Roasted Chesnuts

On a separate note, we roasted chesnuts in our oven.  This link gives you a great article and instructions from someone who has done it both right and wrong.  It is very funny!  About half came out perfect and since my husband had never tried them, it was a real treat.  Needless to say, a chesnut is a delicious sweet/savory crossover all by itself.  There is a sweetness to the meat that is delightful, but in the end the chesnut is very…meaty and savory.  It is filling and delicious and I look forward to figuring out ways to do more with them than a simple roast.  I appreciate any ideas, comments, or recipes you may find for chesnuts that goes beyond the initial roast.

By the way, it is possible to get organic nuts at many stores that offer organics.  Our chesnuts were not only delicious, they were organic.

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Prism Book Tours

Book Review: Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry—and a Giveaway!

Virus ThirteenVirus Thirteen
Joshua Alan Parry
Tor, March 2013
ISBN 9780765369543
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

Scientists James Logan and his wife, Linda, have their dream careers at the world’s leading biotech company, GeneFirm, Inc. But their happiness is interrupted by a devastating bioterrorist attack: a deadly superflu that quickly becomes a global pandemic. The GeneFirm complex goes into lockdown and Linda’s research team is sent to high-security underground labs to develop a vaccine.

Above ground, James learns that GeneFirm security has been breached and Linda is in danger. To save her he must confront a desperate terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer: Virus Thirteen.

Woe to the reader who starts Virus Thirteen thinking he’s going to get your standard pandemic disaster science fiction novel. No, indeed, this is one wild ride from start to finish with a mashup of all the scenarios that make a lot of people antsy just thinking about the possibilities. Take a bit of cloning, some global warming, a dash of power-grabbing, a little transgenics and genetic engineering, throw in some science run amok and you’ve got…

But wait! Don’t forget a whole lot of murder, a distinct lack of ethics and a Homeland Health department that watches your every bite or sip…

And there’s even more!

Besides all the plotlines—and don’t worry, they DO come together and make sense—there are some really interesting characters, good and bad. I was kind of surprised to find myself connecting the most with the secondary characters but that’s a large part of why I find this book so appealing. It’s an indication of how much care the author took with his players, even a neon orange dog and a self-doubting young man of rotund proportions, and I appreciate it.

This is one of the most entertaining and imaginative books I’ve read in a while and I’ll be honest—I’m still not sure if the author is completely serious or perhaps is making fun of all our insecurities about the future. I suspect there’s more than a touch of the latter but, either way, it doesn’t matter because Mr. Parry‘s debut is a winner of a story. He also happens to be a very good writer and his style of jumping from one scene and set of characters to another worked beautifully if his intention was to grab my attention and never let me look away. Along the way, he forced me to give a lot of consideration to where we might be heading if we’re not careful and that is never a bad thing. Joshua Alan Parry is an author I’ll be looking for again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2013.

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Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered in the drawing

for a copy of Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry. The winning name

will be drawn on the evening of Wednesday, March 20th.

Open to residents of the US and Canada.

Reconnection: The Eden’s Root Saga

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Seeds of War Banner

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Rachel E. FisherAUTHOR BIO
Rachel E. Fisher

I am a wife and entrepreneur living and working in Florida. I am also a graduate of Mount Holyoke College,

where I majored in Biology. It was always my assumption that I would end up making research my life. Though it

did not work out that way in the end, my passion for Biology remains intact.

I have always loved biology-based science-fiction and the young adult genre. It is in this vein that I offer my work.

Social Media links:

http://www.rachelefisher.com/blog

Twitter: @edensroot

http://www.facebook.com/edens.root?fref=ts

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/719277.Rachel_Fisher

Email: Rachel@rachelefisher.com

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Book Review: Eden’s Root by Rachel E. Fisher

Eden's RootEden’s Root
Eden’s Root Trilogy #1
Rachel E. Fisher
Rachel E. Fisher, April 2012
ISBN 9781469902104
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The year is 2033 and the world hovers on the edge of explosion as unexplained crop deaths lead to severe global food shortages. In the United States, the Sickness is taking lives slowly, creeping its way into every family. Fi Kelly has already faced the Sickness in her own family, toughening her beyond her years. But a shocking confession from her dying father will push her toughness to its absolute limits. Saddled with an impossible secret and the mission of saving her little sister, Fi sets out to transform herself into the warrior that she must become to survive the coming collapse. Along the way, she will discover that evil can be accidental and that love can be intentional.

It’s not easy to come up with a post-apocalyptic theme that makes some sense but Rachel E. Fisher has conceived a very plausible premise what with all the food crop modification and genetic engineering that has been going on for years. There are some holes—it’s doubtful the food rationing would come as such a surprise to people because they would have begun to notice some shortages and it’s unlikely everything would go the Family’s way for so long with no battles between the Family and Others  and no violent deaths—but the general idea is a good basis for worldbuilding.

Most of the author’s worldbuilding starts out well but could use more fleshing out. For one thing, I couldn’t get a handle on exactly where they started from. They’re heading into upstate New York but, after wintering over and Fi turning 15, it has been about a year but they’re only four days away from New York City. A comment made by Fi regarding her love of the city led me to believe that her home was not terribly far away but it takes almost two years altogether to reach Eden, which is past Montreal and there is no description of a second winter. Even with wintering over and avoiding roads, it doesn’t seem as though it should have taken nearly so long. So, where did they start and how far did they actually walk?

Worldbuilding is critical in this subgenre but so is character development. In the beginning, Fi is only 13 but she ages to 16 during the story. I don’t find it unbelievable that such a young girl would do well in martial arts and weapons training but her always being right in her decisions isn’t at all likely and I question her immense luck during her raids. I can actually understand why adults would choose to let her be the Leader because, in a time of extreme crisis, we tend to rely on those who behave as though they are prepared as Fi certainly is. On the other hand, Fi thinks the “Sickness” means all serious disease and that it is all caused by the bad food but that seems a very naive notion.

Romance plays a role, naturally, but I like the way Ms. Fisher handled it, quite appropriately for the ages involved and I also like that it takes all three of the main players quite a while to really acknowledge their feelings. It’s a combination of romance and true friendship that does exist in real life and I’m glad the author mostly steered clear of passionate embraces, longing gazes, heartfelt silences, etc.

While there are some weaknesses in Eden’s Root, there is much to like about it and I’m looking forward to the second book, Seeds of War, where I hope to find answers to some of my questions. I’ll enjoy continuing the adventure with Fi, Asher and Sean as well as many others in Eden.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2013.

Links to buy Eden’s Root:

Amazon Kindle           Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Noble Nook                  Barnes & Noble Paperback

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Book Review: Seeds of War by Rachel E. Fisher

Seeds of WarSeeds of War
Eden’s Root Trilogy #2
Rachel E. Fisher
Rachel E. Fisher, July 2012
ISBN 9781478229469
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The mission of Eden must be fulfilled and Eden’s best Seekers are needed. Forming a new group they dub the Seeders, Fi, Asher, and Sean are joined by a new addition as they set out to bring hope and support to the Topsiders in the form of radios and heirloom seeds. Their experiences Topside prepare them for the threat from marauding gangs they call Lobos, but it is a different, less obvious sort of threat that takes them by surprise. As radio broadcasts begin to reconnect Eden and the Topsiders, the Seeders stumble upon mysterious broadcasts from unknown stations. When two of their own new radio stations go silent within days of each other, Fi and her companions realize that something is terribly wrong. Eden finds itself pitted against a growing and unknown force as their very mission lights the flames of war.

When we last saw Fi, Asher and Sean, they had settled in to the community they found in Eden after a long, arduous trek. Finding sanctuary in Eden, a safe haven from a world that has become primitive after the global destruction of food crops, was the goal and the Family put full trust in Fi to lead them there. Now, though, it is time for Eden’s people to reach out to other hidden communities and begin to rebuild society, to reconnect.

Our three young action heroes are joined by Sara, Sean’s girlfriend, on a mission outside dubbed Seeding. The intent is to share heirloom seeds that are free of the modifications that destroyed the world’s crops as well as communication tools with those living outside their hidden community. At the same time, Eden is threatened by others, some of whom seem to have skewed opinions of what mercy and compassion really mean. Fi easily steps back into the role of Leader and we begin to learn about Sara’s past and what makes her who she is. Sara is a complicated girl.

I loved being reunited with these three young people and Sara is a strong and appealing addition. Once again, older members of the community place what might be unusual faith in the abilities of the younger ones but it works in this story. Should we ever find ourselves faced with a similar apocalyptic scenario, I suspect we’ll react in much the same way—we’ll heed the advice of those with experience in areas of importance but we’ll rely on the youths among us to take on the active, protective roles and to be our hope for the future. The Seeders are the ones I would want by my side.

If anything about this second book concerned me, it’s the continuing belief, found first in Fi but now apparently embraced by everyone in Eden, that the return to heirloom planting will eliminate all cancer. That seems to me a very naive outlook as so many things other than food can lead to cancer, such as exposure to asbestos. I get the feeling that the author is pushing a personal agenda, absolutely her right, but not very sustainable.

As I had hoped, we do learn more in this second book about what brought the world to such dire straits, especially what led to the creation—and eventual fate—of the government’s Diaspora communities. On a more individual level, getting to know Fi, Asher, Sean and Sara better is a pleasure but I missed spending time with the Family from the trilogy’s first book. Perhaps we’ll see more of them in the concluding novel, Emergence. I’m eager to see what awaits our young friends and all the other survivors.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2013.

Links to buy Seeds of War:

Amazon Kindle           Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Noble Nook                 Barnes & Noble Paperback

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Book Review: Germline by T.C. McCarthy

Germline (Subterrene War Trilogy #1)
T.C. McCarthy
Orbit Books, August 2011
ISBN 978-0-316-12818-6
Mass Market Paperback

In the not so distant future, war is being fought over the resources that fuel the world’s need to supply a population’s ever growing needs. Nothing new about that. But too many young men have died in these never ending wars and the opposing nation’s labs have created a new species–genetically engineered supersoldiers. The U.S. have female soldiers–deeming them less likely to go rogue. Russia has male genetics. What these Germline units have in common is that they all have a “shelf life.”  When drug addict Stars and Stripes reporter Oscar Wendell is imbedded in a subterranean fighting unit, he gets a terrifying look at war in all it’s deadly detail–and then he falls in love.

Mr. McCarthy has written a fascinating story. While Wendell is not the most endearing protagonist, he has an interesting character arc. The secondary characters provide sometimes amusing, sometimes heartrending, backup in the novel. The action shows the reader PTSD carried to extreme and brings with it greater understanding. Written with a sure hand, the concepts are thought provoking. I found Germline an excellent read.

Reviewed by C.K. Crigger, August 2011.