Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prism: The Color Alchemist Book One –by Nina Walker

Fiction / YA Fantasy
338 pages / 2953 KB
4 Stars

LEGALITIES FIRST: I received a free eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

According to the Source of all Knowledge (ie, the world wide web), the age range of young adult books varies between 12-18 or 15-20s. Keeping those ages in mind, I agree this is a YA novel, on the younger side of the continuum. The heroine, Jessa is just 16, while the hero, Lucas, is 18. While many adults read YA books, I think this will appeal far more to the teenybopper crowd. (Did I just date myself?)

As an adult reader, I could have done with a little less angst and a lot more explanation of the color alchemy. As a teen reader, it is probably perfect. The use of color is an intriguing concept, and that alone makes it worth the read.

Jessa comes into her powers considerably later than most, and is accused of hiding them. Actually, she thought they belonged to her kid sister, Lacey, and did try to hide them, as she did not want Lacey taken from the home and trained; never to be seen or heard of again. Instead, Jessa, whose only dream is to dance ballet, and is finally dancing a solo in front of a huge audience, including the King Richard and Prince Lucas, becomes so enraptured with her dance, she inadvertently shows the whole world her powers. Fortunately, no one was injured, and instead of Lacey being taken, Jessa is. To no good end, we may rest assured. She is too old to buy into the usual brainwashing, and or be trained as a child. Her powers are also dangerous.

King Richard wants to control her, and her magic, to control his subjects. Prince Lucas just wants her—he's in love with her, and he neither loves nor respects his father. The Resistance just wants to eliminate the Royals and return to a democracy. Oh, yes, there is lots of conflict and some mystery to go along with all that angst.

The story is told in alternating chapters, by either Jessa or Lucas. It is a book I think the younger teen girls will enjoy no end.  And many adults will read as brain candy. (Think chocolate and no calories.) A solid 4 Star debut novel. Job well done, Ms. Walker!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 –by Salman Rushdie

Nonfiction / Essays
439 pages / 1485 KB
5 Stars

I am not sure when, or where, I found my copy of this book. I do not know how long it sat, ignored, on my bookshelf. What I do know is, when I needed it, it was there, and literally fell into my hands. Of course I knew of Mr. Rushdie, but had never read anything by him. My education has begun.

Most of these 75 or so essays are short, some just a couple of pages, but all of them require thought while reading them, and several require thought after reading them; at least for me. As one reviewer noted, this is not a book to take to the gym. His insights on colonialism are fascinating. His insights on the Ghandis, Pakistan, cultures I knew little-to-nothing about were spell-binding. The articles about contemporary authors were not only interesting, but often humorous, and always enlightening.

But the articles in the last section were, for me, the most eye-opening. These were the ones where he discussed the fatwa against him, what he meant when he wrote The Satanic Verses, and the duplicity of the imams even when they agreed with him, shook his hand, said they would help reverse the fatwa, and didn't. What is a human life worth? What is a man's word worth? What is a friend worth?

The writing in these essays is often lyrical. It is always clear, and easily read and understood. I highly recommend this book for anyone with a curiosity about how our world, and those who inhabit it, think and work. Beautiful writing, and I can hardly wait for my copy of Step Across This Line... to arrive.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

French License --by Joe Start

Nonfiction / Essays
292 pages / 2305 KB
5 Stars

DISCLAIMER: I was given a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I am a fairly fast reader, and normally, when I am given a book in exchange for a review, I sit down and read it. After all, the author or publisher who entrusted it to my care is waiting for my input. Now and then, I find a book that I don't want to read in one sitting Never in a Hurry by Naomi Shihab Nye, Places Left Unfinished at the Moment of Creation by John Philip Santos and now French License by Joe Start. I started this book of essays about his odyssey of moving to France and obtaining permission from the Country to legally drive on their highways and byways and was enjoying it so much, I parsed out the essays to a few a day just to make the book last longer. Sorry Mr. Start, if I've taken too long to read it.

Having lived in Germany, many years ago, I could relate to some of his frustrations. Not that I had to deal with a drivers license, but I did have to deal with a new country, language, and culture. As much fun as it was, it still had its moments.

French License should be read by anyone who is considering moving to a different country, for whatever reason and for however long. In fact, it jolly well might be worth it to read before going on a vacation in a country with a language and culture you're not intimately familiar with.

While the basic story is about the trials and tribulations of getting his drivers license, it is also a marvelous and quite humorous look at life as an ex-pat. There is, as he learned, a major difference between Futball and Football, and though I'm not a fan of the latter, his story of going to the bar to see the game is pretty funny.

There is a lot of French thrown in, but for the most part, it's translatable from the context, and when it isn't, translation is provided by the author. The one thing I have a question on, obviously I don't speak French, is at the beginning of each chapter, after the Chapter (Number) is the word Borne and a double digit number—00, 25, 50, etc. I never did figure that one out.

Do I recommend this book? Without hesitation or reservation. A delightful read that will be savored again, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes –by Andrew Pessin

Fiction / Historical
508 pages
5 Stars

DISCLAIMER: I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you like historical fiction, sans romance and the required rescuing of fair maidens, then this is the book for you! It's a murder mystery about one of the more famous men of European history, the philosopher, René Descartes.

For untold years, it has been accepted, more or less, that Descartes did in fact die of pneumonia his first winter in Stockholm. Rumors also have abounded that he was murdered.

Andrew Pessin has taken history, and rumors, and combined them into a most enjoyable, and plausible, read. This is, primarily, a murder mystery. It isn't an adrenaline gusher, though there are a couple of times it comes close. It is the story of a young, sickly René, raised by the Jesuits who has a penchant for mathematics and not much else. It is also the story of another young boy who is the 'house boy' and René's "servant." Due to his lack of money, this young boy is self-taught, and he is every bit as much of a genius as René. Perhaps more so.

Sometimes the modern language in the dialog is a bit jarring, but not much, and I'm pretty sure the locals of the time had equivalent words. The flashbacks were superbly done, and the end of the book nicely tied all the sub-plots and mini-mysteries together. One does not need to be a student of philosophy to enjoy this book.

Well written with believable characters I would actually enjoy meeting. I highly recommend The Irrationalist to anyone who enjoys literary fiction, historical fiction, or murder mysteries.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

injunz --poems by Thomas Hubbard

40 pages
5 Stars

NOTE: There is no ISBN for this little book, which means you'll have to order it from the publisher at  Or be lucky enough to attend a poetry reading where he is. (That's how I got my copy.)

Hubbard is a mixed-blood of (probably) southeastern tribes—Cherokee and Miami—and Irish and English. He grew up in working class neighborhoods and held working class jobs. He worked hard, went to school, taught writing on the Tulalip Reservation in Washington State, was a publisher and now is a free-lance writer for Raven Chronicles. He knows his subject well.

These poems will give all who read them cause for pause, cause to stop and think about who our ancestors were, what they did, who we are and what we do. No matter where we came from, no matter where we go, Hubbard reminds us through his heritage and through his lyrical poetry, "We are all of us related."

Indeed, we are, all of us, related, whether we are the dream ponies who come to waken us, the buffalo we eat for sustenance, or the young boy named Ira, named for a real hero. We are all of us related—the young native mother who holds a job, shops in a hurry, and takes care of her husband and children, or the farmer who loves his land. Give thanks for your relations; give thanks to Thomas Hubbard for introducing us.

Buy injunz. You'll be glad you did.