Sunday, September 28, 2014

Storyteller --by Amy Thomson

Fiction / Fantasy
372 Pages
5 Stars

Ms. Thomson is one of the greatest world builders I've read. The people, or beings, who inhabit her planets are wonderful. This book is no exception.

The world of Thalassa is even more of a water world than our Earth. It is metal-poor, and when people first arrive, they end up bonding with the large "fish" that swim in the oceans, the harsel. Hars are telepathic, to those who can hear, and they not only learn words, but communicate in song. They have giant holds in their bodies for specially built pods to carry their humans and cargo as they ply the oceans.

The bonds between a har captain (the human) and the har and strong and life-long.

Teller, a master storyteller who travels Thalassa telling stories, teaching the history of the planet, while keeping a secret meets and rescues a young orphan, Samad. Teller plans to find him a good family, but he sees it as being thrown away by this woman who tells stories, and refuses to let her go without him.

Teller has a har, Abeha, who also bonds with Samad. They both have their reasons for bonding with Samad, and neither thinks to ask what he wants. And as he becomes an adult, there are the inevitable clashes between adults and child.

There is a portion of the book which may bother some, but I think Ms. Thomson handled it well, with sensitivity and grace. Samad is homosexual. The most important aspect of that portion of the book is how it confuses him, and how when his mother, Teller, finds out, she is totally accepting. Frankly, I thought it was well handled, and such a small portion of the book barely worth mentioning; however, I know there are those out there in Reader Land who may have a different view than I on the subject.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel. It is not an adrenalin gusher, it is thoughtful, delightful, there are places where I used a hanky (or three), and there are places where I not only chuckled, but also laughed out loud. A truly fun book.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jewels of the Sky --by Catherine E. McLean

Fiction / Science/Fantasy
342 pages
5 Stars

Jewels of the Sky is a great space opera. One of the best I've read in a long time. The author combined Mayan and Native American myths with her own imagination and spun a yarn of sparkling silk that wove through what we know, what we don't know, and what is yet to come.

Darq, also known as Raven, is a fighter pilot of renown. She comes from a people who are facing extinction, and will without a miracle, die out. Darq is a Wysoti, from a space-faring tribe who came to Earth in centuries past and committed heinous sins, and because of that, the whole tribe was cursed. She has no idea that she holds the key to dissolving that curse. She is a Skeptic, with a capital 'S' and does not believe in miracles or the gods who grant them.

All Darq knows is that the Doyon, a race of lizard people, are hell bent for leather on destroying the Wysoti, and she is equally set against them doing so.

Ms. McLean is a master world builder. Although she used a few too many abbreviations that I had no idea what them meant, I just kept reading, and the story was not lost. The worlds she built and populated were space stations and ships, and infinitely more interesting than the usual mundane planets.

She built worlds, and presented them full-blown, and accepted, populated by na ka ta (a sentient robot), humans, culture, religion (based on Maya beliefs and her imagination), Doyon, and others.

The battle sequences were well written and thought out, and interestingly presented. There were no transporters ala Star Trek, so one had to fly for hours to get where one needed to be. How they reacted after these hours on their butts was realistic. This is not a rework of Star Trek or Babylon 5, this is an original story and well worth the read. It has everything a space opera needs: heroes, villains, dog-fights among the stars, love, death, and a suitable and satisfying ending. Job well done, Ms. McLean, I look forward to reading more of your books.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shifting Shadows and the Were Folk

Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson –by Patricia Briggs

Fiction / Collection / Fantasy
465 Pages / 1406 KB
5 Stars

Disclaimers first: 1. I live in Kennewick, 2. I've met Ms. Briggs several times, and 3. I've never read any of the Mercy books. The latter will change shortly.

I love short stories, and thought I'd give these a try (see Disclaimers above). You know, do I really want to invest time (and money) in a pack of were wolves? Dragons have always been high on my list, but were wolves? After devouring this book (Almost made it in a single sitting) I have to admit, I want to bring a pack of were wolves into my home.

There are, I think, 12 stories. I enjoyed all of them, some more than others, and after reading many of the reviews, I can tell that if I had knowledge of the characters, the stories might have carried more meaning and been somewhat more enjoyable. There were some stories I enjoyed more than others, but all were well written, and all were enjoyable. And many will be read again. Especially after I read the books and get to know the pack members.

I love it when someone does a good job at world-building, and when someone builds a world right where I live, and that world is believable, and recognizable, I love it! I know the books are fiction, that were wolves don't really exist (do they?), but I think I now understand my "odd" neighbor just a little better. ;-) Especially on those nights when the moon is full, and all his drapes are pulled tight, and my cat cowers on my bed....

If you've never met Mercy Thompson, this may be just the introduction you've been waiting for. It certainly was for me.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Like the Moon

Like the Moon –by Mary Lewis Foote

Fiction / Humor
148 pages / 516 KB
5 Stars

I keep track of the books I read, and this is the 40th book I've read so far this year (2014) and also the 41st. Yes, I read it twice, and it truly was better the second time through as I knew what was going to happen.

Ms. Foote accomplished quite a feat in that she successful wrote in dialect, and carried it off beautifully. I've lived in the South, and traveled through the Carolinas many times, and the dialect brought back many fond memories. And while Hart County may be fictional, I swear I've been there.

Humor is difficult to write, and often seems forced. This story is a delight filled with chuckles, outright laughter, and a few sad and thoughtful places. The people are real, and are treated with respect. This is not put-down humor, but build-up humor.

As the book description says, it invites you to pull up a rocking chair and set a spell with some delightful people and listen to their stories. The story takes place in fictional Hart Country, North Carolina and is told by Lulu Quillen in her own inimitable style. The story centers around Willis Bone, Lulu and Red's neighbor, and his death and how his wife, Mattie Mae and their daughter Cherryldine, and his father, Old Man Bone settle the "estate" and keep on living.

While these people may live a hardscrabble life, their lives are filled with love and humor, collard greens and ham hocks, coon dogs, and Beethoven. Yes, Beethoven. The composer, not a kitchen hound (his name is Curtis). If you're a Yankee, it may take you a page or two to get into the dialect, but just relax, enjoy the ride, and get ready to smile and laugh out loud. 

This is the kind of book that, when you reach the end of it, you will feel better for having read it. And jolly well may be ready to start over again. I did.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Three Blind Mice

Product Details

315 pages / 1221 KB
4 Stars

If you're a hard core mystery buff, this may not be your book, but if you're like me, and pick one up now and again, and are looking more for a novel of escape and, well, brain candy, Three Blind Mice is a lot of fun. As fun as murder and wrongly accused suspects can be ;-)

Ed McBain is probably better known for his 87th Precinct novels than his Matthew Hope series. Matthew Hope is a partner in a law firm in Calusa, FL, located on the "other west coast" – the west coast of Florida, not far from where I used to live. And maybe that's one reason I really enjoyed the book; it was a bit like going home and visiting old friends, though I never knew any of those folks.

We have our requisite murders, the wrong person arrested, the district attorney who wants a fast settlement of the trial for political reasons, and a dogged attorney who wants the right person arrested and justice found.  Yes, this is McBain, perhaps not at his best, but still writing page-turners. Romance, murder, tangled webs—a great bed-time mystery that is fun, but will not give you nightmares when you turn out the light. I'm looking forward to reading other Matthew Hope books.