August 16, 2017

The Blade of Shattered Hope by James Dashner

Title:  The Blade of Shattered Hope
Author:  James Dashner
Pages:  507
Genre:  Youth Fantasy
Series:  The 13th Reality, Book 3

Synopsis:  Things have changed for Atticus Higginbottom. After the near catastrophe in the Fourth Reality, Tick’s being homeschooled in the fields of science, trying to master the mysterious Chi’karda. But just as he begins to make progress, Mistress Jane reappears, now hideously scarred and much more powerful. She has tapped into the universe’s darkest secret to create the Blade of Shattered Hope, and in her quest to attain a Utopian Reality for the future of mankind, she’s ready to risk billions of lives—including those of Tick’s parents and sisters—to set her plan in motion. Her vengeance knows no bounds and when rumors begin to circulate about the secret scientific experiments taking place at the Factory, Tick and his friends—Sato, Sofia, and Paul—are faced with their most dangerous task yet. And they must not fail; for if they do, the entire universe could cease to exist.

Review:  There's only one book left in this series.  I'm sad in one way and happy in another.  I'm sad because, really, these books are very good.  I'm a little happy because they take me far too long to get through.  It's not boredom or poor writing.  They just aren't easy for me to read for some reason.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

August 13, 2017

The Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner

Title:  The Hunt for Dark Infinity
Author:  James Dashner
Pages:  446
Genre:  Youth Fantasy
Series:  The 13th Reality, Book 2

Synopsis:  It's been a quiet summer for Tick, Paul, and Sofia, but the latest message from Master George changes everything. The Realities are in danger -- and from something more terrible than Mistress Jane and the mutated Chi'karda of the Thirteenth Reality. People from all Realities are unexplainably going insane. Worse, some Realities are fragmenting, disintegrating into nothingness. Master George has learned that Mr. Chu from the Fourth Reality is working on a mysterious new weapon called Dark Infinity. But no one has any idea how to stop the weapon -- or even if it can be stopped.

To make matters worse, Tick and his friends have been kidnapped, forced to wink from Reality to Reality, solving impossible riddles in order to survive the deadly traps surrounding them.

Mistress Jane and Tick find themselves in a race to reach the weapon first -- but who will destroy it and who will become its master?

Review:  This series is really good so far.  It's fairly easy to read, but not exactly a fast read for me.  I have had trouble finishing these books in a timely fashion.

Still, this one was quite scary and the storyline is unique.  I really liked it.

Rating:  7 / 10

August 8, 2017

The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner

Title:  The Journal of Curious Letters
Author:  James Dashner
Pages:  503
Genre:  Youth Fantasy
Series:  The 13th Reality, Book 1

Synopsis:  What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created -- the life that would've been? What if those new Realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?

Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is a regular thirteen-year-old boy living a regular life until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials "M.G.," the letter informs Tick that dangerous -- perhaps even deadly -- events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal that on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen.

Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? As M.G. warns Tick, very frightening things are coming your way. Will you join Tick and his friends on an amazing journey through the Realities? What will your choice be?

Review:  I love James Dashner.  This book was a lot of fun to read, full of good humor and great storytelling.  I don't love it as much as I did his Maze Runner series, but I do love it so far.  I notice on some sites that this set of books is listed as Young Adult.  I'm sorry, but a boy in middle school is not a young adult.  Not yet anyhow.

The other realities are twisted versions of our own and some of them are quite scary.  It's an original story with original characters.  If you loved Harry Potter, you'll probably love Tick Higginbottom too.

Rating:  7.5 / 10

August 4, 2017

This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman

Title:  This Alien Shore
Author:  C. S. Friedman
Pages:  564
Genre:  Science Fiction
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  It is the second age of space colonization. The first age, humanity's initial attempt to people the stars, ended in disaster when it was discovered that Earth's original super-luminal drive did lasting genetic damage to all who used it - permanently mutating Earth's far-flung colonists in mind and body.  Abandoned by their home planet, exiles in alien star systems, these variant humans had no choice but to survive any way they could.

Jamisia has always lived in Shido Habitat, a corporate satellite in Earth's outer orbit. She has no memories of her parents, but has been nurtured by the fatherly care of her tutor. Protected by her biological brain-ware systems, and accompanied by the many voices in her head, she has grown into a resourceful, if unusual, young woman. When Shido is viciously attacked by corporate raiders, Jamisia's tutor risks his life to smuggle her onto a ship bound for the nearest ainniq - the Gueran jump station to the Up-and-Out. But before he dies, he tells her something which rocks the foundation of her world - the raiders were searching for her....

Review:  It's been far too long since I read a book by this author.  I'd forgotten just how good her science fiction is.  This was a wonderful tale, with thrills and chills and plenty of good science fiction.  I really doesn't get much better than this.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

July 31, 2017

Lethal by Sandra Brown

Title:  Lethal
Author:  Sandra Brown
Pages:  472
Genre:  Thriller
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  When her four year old daughter informs her a sick man is in their yard, Honor Gillette rushes out to help him. But that "sick" man turns out to be Lee Coburn, the man accused of murdering seven people the night before. Dangerous, desperate, and armed, he promises Honor that she and her daughter won't be hurt as long as she does everything he asks. She has no choice but to accept him at his word.

But Honor soon discovers that even those close to her can't be trusted. Coburn claims that her beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her daughter in grave danger. Coburn is there to retrieve it -- at any cost. From FBI offices in Washington, D.C., to a rundown shrimp boat in coastal Louisiana, Coburn and Honor run for their lives from the very people sworn to protect them, and unravel a web of corruption and depravity that threatens not only them, but the fabric of our society.

Review:  I cannot believe I've never read a book by this author!  It was fabulous and had me on the edge of my seat for the entire story.  I wish the ending had been just a little bit different, but the story was so good I can't really complain.

Rating:  8 / 10

July 25, 2017

The History of the Runestaff by Michael Moorcock

Title:  The Mad God's Amulet
Author:  Michael Moorcock
Pages:  124
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The History of the Runestaff, Book 2

Synopsis:  After withstanding the power of the Black Jewel and saving the city of Hamadan from the conquest of the Dark Empire of Granbretan, Hawkmoon set off for Kamarg, where friendship and love await him. But the journey is beyond treacherous. With his boon companion, Oladahn, the beastman of the Bulgar Mountains, Hawkmoon discovers the peaceful city of Soryandum, which holds the power to transcend the confines of time and space. This power, which keeps the city from falling to the Dark Empire, could keep Kamarg safe. But alas his love Yisselda is now a prisoner of the Mad God, whose powerful amulet is linked to Hawkmoon's ultimate destiny: a power that began at creation and calls heroes to arms throughout existence. Hawkmoon must rip this amulet from the neck of the Mad God if he hopes to save the city of Kamarg and free his friends and his one true love from the Dark Empire's relentless wrath.


Title:  The Sword of the Dawn
Author:  Michael Moorcock
Pages:  130
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The History of the Runestaff, Book 3

Synopsis:  In The Sword of the Dawn, Dorian Hawkmoon's quest to destroy the Dark Empire of Granbretan leads him onto the path of a man who possess a rare ring that allows men to travel through time. Hawkmoon uses this ring to travel to a far future New Orleans, where he must battle the Pirate Lords who possess the Great Sword of the Dawn, which can end the Dark Empire once and for all.


Title:  The Runestaff
Author:  Michael Moorcock
Pages:  120
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The History of the Runestaff, Book 4

Synopsis:  As it is written: "Those who swear by the Runestaff must then benefit or suffer from the consequences of the fixed pattern of destiny that they set in motion." And Baron Meliadus of Kroiden had sworn such an oath, had sworn vengeance against all of Castle Brass, had sworn that Yisselda, Count Brass's daughter, would be his. On that day, many months earlier, he had fixed the pattern of fate; a pattern that had involved him in strange destructive schemes, that had involved Dorian Hawkmoon in wild and uncanny adventures in distant places, and that was now nearing its terrible resolution.

Review:  I very rarely do this but these books are so short that it's impossible to write enough about each one to make it worthwhile to do.  It's an enjoyable series.  My only complaint is the very liberal use of deus ex machina to continue the story and get the hero and his friends out of trouble.  I realize this is a tried and true method used in plenty of fantasy novels, but these were just rife with it.

I'm glad I finished them....and I'm also glad I'm done with them.

Rating:  6 / 10

July 19, 2017

The Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock

Title:  The Jewel in the Skull
Author:  Michael Moorcock
Pages:  128
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The History of the Runestaff, Book 1

Synopsis:  Those who dare swear by the Runestaff must then benefit or suffer from the consequences of the fixed pattern of destiny that they set in motion. Several such oaths have been sworn in the history of the Runestaff's existence... - The High History of the Runestaff.

Dorian Hawkmoon, late the Duke of Koln, fell under the power of the Runestaff, a mysterious artifact more ancient than Time itself. His destiny, shaped by a vengeful oath sworn by the maddened Baron Meliadus of the Dark Empire, pitted Hawkmoon in battle against his own allies and forced him, by the Black Jewel embedded in his skull, to betray his very heritage.

Review:  This book is actually part of the larger Moorcock universe of The Eternal Champion.  I've read other novels from this universe, but this quartet of books is completely about one Champion in particular, Dorian Hawkmoon, with some scenes also including Count Brass, another Champion.

Dorian travels across the area that used to be Europe, finally ending up in Persia.  The Dark Empire is chasing him every step of the way.  This story was fun and exciting, full of sorcery and science all mixed together in this post-nuclear version of our world.  It was fun to read and very short.  I'm already starting on the next in the series.

Rating:  7 / 10

July 17, 2017

End Day by James Axler

Title:  End Day
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  315
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #122

Synopsis:
TIME WARPED
Ryan Cawdor and his six companions struggle to survive postnuclear America, a grim new world where hope for the future is lost amid the devastation.

APOCALYPSE REDUX
In pursuit of a hardened enemy - Magus - Ryan and the companions find themselves in a land more foreign than any they've encountered. After unwittingly slipping through a time hole, the group lands in twentieth-century New York City, getting their first glimpse of predark civilization. And they're not sure they like it. Only Mildred and Doc can appreciate this strange metropolis, but Armageddon is just seventy-two hours away, and Magus will stop at nothing to make sure Ryan and his team are destroyed on Nuke Day?

Review:  Well, this was a really great story!  The nuclear holocaust happened on January 20, 2001.  Ryan and his companions are shot back in time to January 19, 2001, right into the heart of New York City.

They have to escape in time and try to stop the really bad guy, Magus.  It was fun, having Ryan and his group visit a time before the nukecaust.  The excitement (and violence) kept coming and it wasn't until the very end of this book that I knew how it would turn out.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

July 13, 2017

Gauntlgrym by R. A. Salvatore

Title:  Gauntlgrym
Author:  R. A. Salvatore
Pages:  345
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Legend of Drizzt, Book 23

Synopsis:  Drizzt joins Bruenor on his quest for the fabled dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym: ruins said to be rich with ancient treasure and arcane lore. But before they even get close, another drow and dwarf pair stumbles across it first: Jarlaxle and Athrogate.

In their search for treasure and magic, Jarlaxle and Athrogate inadvertently set into motion a catastrophe that could spell disaster for the unsuspecting people of the city of Neverwinter—a catastrophe big enough to lure even the mercenary Jarlaxle into risking his own coin and skin to stop it. Unfortunately, the more they uncover about the secret of Gauntlgrym, the more it looks like they can’t stop it on their own. They’ll need help, and from the last people they ever thought to fight alongside again: Drizzt and Bruenor.

Review:  This series is very good.  I've enjoyed it up until now.  I think I waited too long to continue the series.  I read book 22 in 2010.  It took a while to get the next few books and then, by the time I had them, I had other books I wanted to read.  Now, I've just lost interest in Drizzt Do'Urden and his adventures.  I've forgotten too much of the back story and just found myself not all that interested.

I've taken the remaining three books from this series off my TBR and I won't be trying to get the rest.  For me, it's just time to part ways with the brave and exciting drow named Drizzt.  He sure was fun while it lasted though.

Rating:  6.5 / 10
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