Required Reading

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden finds one of his staunchest supporters family is in danger. As a new Warden he finds his distaste for the way the White Council handles dissidents. When Michael’s daughter finds her snagged in Council and Fairy politics, Harry finds himself over his head again.

Butcher causes Harry to question his value system in each and every book. Soul searching seems to be a hallmark. Insurmountable odds and monumental tasks are also in each book. In spite of a similar formula, I have really enjoyed each book. Why would you ever get tired of deep, rich, yummy chocolate cake anymore than you would the Dresden files. Harry’s emotional fragility in his personal relationships and his inability to recognize how much he is respected contribute to his likeability. You see a slow maturation of Harry Dresden as the series proceeds. I highly recommend the entire series. You will be seeing more as I have finally purchased all the ones that have currently been printed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

This is biography of Abraham Lincoln. It documents his birth and his growth into a masterful politician, the architect of the Civil War and his career as a vampire hunter.

My initial reaction to this book was hardly stellar. I even hesitated to read it. Not just due to the cloyingly ubiquitous use of vampire in the title but the pairing of the grossly overworked theme with Abraham Lincoln.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered I liked the book. It had sufficient historic accuracy to sate my former history teacher roots. In addition the book had plausible explanations for why vampires came to America, why Abe wanted to hunt them and why the Civil War was really fought.

The author was able to keep my attention and curb my incredulousness. He did a good job in a dramatically overcrowded genre.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Seth Grahame-Smith

Piers Anthony's Split Infinity, The Blue Adept and Juxtaposition

The books in this trilogy are #1 “Split Infinity”, #2 The Blue Adept and the final “Juxtaposition. Piers Anthony is a mystery to me. I have greatly enjoyed some of his books such as “The Source of Magic” and “If I Pay Thee Not in Gold” with Mercedes Lackey. I just didn’t find any thing to identify with in this trilogy. I didn’t care for the story line or characterizations. I wouldn’t discount him out as an author though. He has written some very entertaining stuff. The Xanth fantasy series had some truly funny books.

Body of work of Piers Anthony
Piers Anthony’s site:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison

This is the first book of Harrison’s that I have read. I expected a Jim Butcher level of entertainment. I didn’t get it. I gave it a good effort but I just couldn’t get into the story, the characters, the setting, nothing. I wanted to like the book, I have already got a couple more of her books, assuming I would like it but alas, I didn’t. The book had too much soap opera overtone for my taste. Now I am not foolish enough to suggest that it may be more suited in the romance category of vampire loving teens but maybe… Rachel Mariana Morgan is a witch, rooming with a living vampire and a bunch of pixies and she is the familiar of a demon. Sounds like it should be page turner and obviously from Harrison’s sales for many people her books are page turners, just not for me. I do not recommend it.

Body of work of Kim Harrison


Web site:

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by Fiona Ingram

This is a tale of two boys visiting Egypt and their mysterious adventure eminently suitable for the young and even mature reader.

This is a rousting adventure story for young readers. It had nothing inappropriate. There was violence but not overblown or dwelled upon. The characters were likeable and painted clearly. Ingram did a very insightful work on the young male psychic. She clearly captures the age appropriate disregard for safety and saneness. Her protagonists blithely fly into danger with little caution for the consequences.

It is refreshing to have an adventure story for this age group that has no vampires or wizards. The setting is aptly described. You’ll find yourself seeking out liquid refreshment as you sweat in the desert scenes.

Young Indiana Jones stand back and watch Adam and Justin steal your thunder. This is the first book in a series that is sure to please.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Fiona Ingram

Web Site:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why YOU should read and why YOU should encourage reading!

In an email with Jim Jennewein, co-author of Rune Warriors, I mentioned the following experience. He strongly suggested I should post the experience.

I was on the board of VITA which is a local non-profit that promotes literacy. VITA also was the largest provider of literacy training in the Bucks County Prison system. We had a board meeting in the prison one time to discuss the program with some of the inmates. A very scary looking 30 something guy was so proud of the fact that our program had gotten him to the point that he could read at a 6th grade level. He said that just that week he had finished the first book he had ever read. He ascribes illiteracy as a major factor in crime. He said his inability to read made people think he was stupid and they treated him like he was stupid. He said that made him angry and made it easier to steal from them. Between the demeanor, tattoos and attitude this was a guy you would cross the street to avoid and yet he was so grateful for our program and his learning to read. He said he had a three year old daughter and when he got out he was going to make sure she learned to read because he didn’t want her ending up like him.

Being a life long, early reader and making sure my kids and grandkids love to read, I frankly was flabbergasted listening to this career criminal. It is just amazing that there are so many people out there who can’t read. VITA estimates there are 60,000 functionally illiterate people in Bucks County which is one of the most affluent counties in Pennsylvania. The stats are staggering.

Please read and encourage all the children you have contact with to read. If you teach a child to read recreationally, to really enjoy curling up with a book, you will positively impact that child’s entire life.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Live Ship Series by Robin Hobb

This trilogy was the first of Robin Hobb’s work that I have read. It knocked my socks off. I couldn’t believe I had never read any of her work before. She tells a story that grabs you by the shorts and gives you an atomic wedgie. I jumped on the web and tracked down her Farseer Trilogy and loved it just as much. The Tawny Man Trilogy is the third work of hers that I admire. “Alien Earth” was published under Megan Lindholm. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the trilogies. I did find a page on the internet claiming to be her sentiment regarding blogging which she seems to feel is only for those who are not motivated or too lazy to write. I don’t know if it actually is her sentiments, if so I would beg to disagree. Perhaps a day to day diary may be indicative of a lack of interest in writing but I read a lot of blogs that are literature regardless of someone else’s opinion. However whether Robin Hobb actually believes that that Bloggers are the Vampires of the Internet, I still admire her writing, her skill and her ability to stir my emotions and intellect.

She does an admirable job defining characters and painting the scene.   The mystery of the live ships is well concealed and adroitly played.    I seldom enjoy any ones books any more than hers.   

I recommend her books.
The ones I have read:
Alien Earth
Assassin's Apprentice, The Farseer Trilogy #1
Assassin's Quest, The Farseer Trilogy #3
Fool's Errand, #1 Tawny Man Series
Fool's Fate, #3 Tawny Man Series
Golden Fool, #2 Tawny Man Series
Mad Ship, Liveship Traders Trilogy #2
Royal Assassin, The Farseer Trilogy #2
Ship of Destiny, Liveship Traders Trilogy #3
Ship of Magic, Liveship Traders Trilogy #1
This is an Amazon link to the body of work of Robin Hobb

Friday, June 11, 2010

Victory Conditions By Elizabeth Moon

Arrgghh, the series is over. I loved this series. My only complaint is there doesn’t appear to be any sequels scheduled. Ky Vatta and Rafe wrap up the action in this book.

Things come together in a big way in this book. Ky gets her ships, Rafe discovers unplumbed depths to a family member and Aunt Grace stops making fruitcakes. The character interaction is what allows Elizabeth Moon’s books to excel. You find yourself captivated by characters and immersed in their action. The pirate commander was almost a caricature of evil. Justice is served both cheerfully and ruthlessly. Young love is supported and life is rosy. Moon doesn’t hesitate to terminate characters with prejudice so you are always a bit uneasy at the conclusion of a series wondering if your favorite will survive.
I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Elizabeth Moon

Web site:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Death Mask by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is once again in the line of fire. Between his war with the Red Court Vampires and his quest for the Shroud of Turin, Harry finds a wealth of action and demands on his wizardly talents.

Reminiscent of the hard boiled detective stories but characterized by the supernatural, this series is eminently entertaining. Dresden is not a towering super hero. He is an ordinary guy trying to survive in life with what he considers his normal behavior. Always looking out for the victim, Harry is in constant danger from supernatural predators. Harry is dying to love and be loved but true love seems to be forever out of his reach.

I highly recommend the entire series. You will be seeing more as I have finally purchased all the ones that have currently been printed.

Body of work of Jim Butcher

Web Site:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Magickeepers: Pyramid of Souls by Erica Kirov

This is a captivating little book about a magical family. Nick Rostov’s place in the family and is ability to survive the families enemies provides the focus of the book. His new cousin, Isabella is his major sidekick.

The theft of the Pyramid of Souls is the quest in this story. There is magic, elephants, tigers, pyramids and more magic. The defining of the world’s magic users into good and evil provides the friction that moves the story. I enjoyed Nick and Isabella’s relationship and Isabella’s relationship with animals. My abiding love of anthropomorphism colored my affection for this book. This book is part of a series and I intend to get the whole series for my grandchildren.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Erica Kirov

Web Site:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Mushroom Planet Series by Eleanor Cameron

My first love in books is Science Fiction/Fantasy. I love to read and will read a phone book if nothing else is available. However good planning generally makes that unnecessary. A book in each room you frequent, one in the car and your PDA loaded with Baen Free Book downloads means you seldom need to read phone books. The first book I can recollect reading,that was definitively Science Fiction was “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet”. Tyco M. Bass was a scientist who had wonderful adventures. For some reason I remember “Mr. Bass’s Planetoid” as my favorite of the Mushroom Planet series.
I was impressed enough with the series that when I was a 5th grade teacher 14 years later I read it to my students. They too, seemed to derive a great deal of pleasure out of the series. The series appears to be still in print and available several places. A good site to find the series is:

If you want a great introduction to the genre for your children, this is a terrific series to start their adventure.

Nice review of “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet”.

Good overview of the author and the series.