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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones



This book is an upper elementary or middle school fantasy.  It is age appropriate with nothing objectionable in it.  It is a story of sibling rivalry and mysterious magic.

Howard's family is headed by an ineffectual father, Quentin, an author.   It is led by a strong mother, Catriona, a music teacher.  The story focuses more on Howard, the older son, and Awful, the younger daughter.   They are forced to deal with a family of very immature wizards who seem locked to their community.

The story is cute and it should keep the interest of the appropriate age group.

Web: http://www.tor.com/2015/12/16/where-to-start-with-diana-wynne-jones/


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Castaway Odyssey by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor

An interstellar voyage is cut short by a massive drive failure leading to the automatic jettisoning of the life boats.  This story tells how the mismatched survivors of the tragedy fare.

This may not be labeled young adult but it is a good young adult story.  There is tension and drama but it is of moderate intensity suitable for a younger reader.   Sgt. Campbell was a laudable adult figure that appeared practically flawless.  Sadly there are very few real flawless folks.   The kids on the lifeboat were all awesome.  Having spent some time in classrooms from K-4yr college as an instructor, I never had a more adaptable and competent group of kids.  Ones and two's but a whole group defies the imagination. 

One incident of xenophobia was very realistic and based on learned behavior so it actually made sense and the individual dealing with it was unnaturally aware of the root of his phobia. 

Reading this my comments appear to be overly critical but I did like the story.  I think many adults would find it far too tame but for a younger reader I highly recommend it.  It reminds me of the hopeful, inclusive, optimistic stories I read in the early 50's. (that is decade not age.)

Web:  Eric Flint: http://www.ericflint.net/
Ryk E. Spoor : http://grandcentralarena.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Last Best Day by Jeff Somers


This is a novella from the Ustari Cycle.   The story is of Lem and Mags.   Magic is produced by gas which is created by blood letting.   Most magic users bleed others to get the gas they need to make magic.  Lem and Mags do not believe in using the blood of others.  Lem is highly principled and Mags is not functioning at full throttle.

Mags is depicted as a very large character who is kept in check and watched over by Lem.   Lem is kidnapped and the story is based on how Mags wants to help.

Blood mages are pretty despicable and the author does nothing to change that impression.  The best of the bunch is pretty deplorable.

It was a good story, reasonable character development overall and deep character development of Mags.  

I enjoyed it.

Web:   http://www.jeffreysomers.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta




This is the tale of a dreamer.  That sounds good but it wasn’t.   Eliana is a weaver on an island where dreaming is banned.  The Council rules with an iron fist but the dreaming weaver drapes the island in wispy webs of dreams.

The story is also a love story laden with deception and betrayal.   Eliana discovers that Valeria is more and less than she seems.   The oldest citizen on the island has secrets that no one has known for hundreds of years. 

This was an interesting and occasionally confusing plot.  It moved steadily with very deep development of Eliana.  Basically the rest of the characters were supporting parts.

I recommend the book.

Web: http://www.emmiitaranta.com/
This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Dark Lord by Jack Heckel


This is a very creative fantasy.  The author and I have read many of the same books and seen many of the same movies and it appears we share a quirky sense of humor.   I know this due to his frequent references to obscure events in other books.   The protagonist is a graduate student working on his dissertation through a practicum where he is the "Dark Lord" an evil ruler.   Avery, the Dark Lord graduate student's premise is that the forces of good need to be united by their opposition to great evil.  Once the great evil is conquered there will be eons of peace and prosperity.

This all takes place on a subworld which might be identified as a parallel but not equal world.  The center of the subworld universe is Mysterium where Avery is studying magic.   Subworlds are more ephemeral than inner worlds such as Earth.   Avery hopes by stabilizing Trelari, he can keep it from devolving into chaos and destruction. 

Murphy's law leads Avery down the proverbial primrose path where his plans go off the tracks.   He is forced to return to Trelari and start a quest with the heroes that opposed him as the Dark Lord.    The quest is arduous and Avery discovers that without immense magic he isn't much of a hero.

This is an entertaining story with a complex plot and loads of humor.

Web: https://jackheckel.wordpress.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Remnants of Trust by Elizabeth Bonesteel

The Cold Between was my introduction to these characters.   I suggest reading it too but this stands alone quite nicely.  The Corp personnel, Shadow Ops, PSI and the tribes find themselves manipulated by a major corporation and a reclusive group of colonists find themselves in the middle of mayhem.

Nefarious activities don't always work out as well as the miscreants plan.   This leads to vendetta mentality rather than police action.   The characters are developed nicely with depth and color.   Bonesteel does an excellent job with her characterizations.   The romantic interplay was more prevalent in the first book and still exists here but it does not seem as important.  That isn't to say that a certain amount of relationship tension is apparent.



I really liked this book.

Web site: https://elizabethbonesteel.wordpress.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.