October 12, 2017

Fortress of Owls by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Fortress of Owls
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  394
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Tristen, Book 3

Synopsis:  "I Dreamed of Owl. That Means Wizardry is Near."

Tristen is a weapon in an ancient war between wizardry and sorcery. He is a summoning and a shaping, brought to life by a wizard. And his sword is a weapon as well. Its keen blade, marked Illusion on one side and Truth on the other, once helped Tristen win the throne of Ylesuin for the young king Cefwyn, gaining Tristen the stewardship of the brave country of Amefel.

Tristen's rule in Amefel is blessed with two extraordinary friends: one a stalwart and simple warrior, the other a young rebel with royal blood. But the scarlet banners of war are unfolding again, and far more than a kingdom is at stake. Now Tristen must take up the sword--as well as the Sihhë magic he has forsworn. He is destiny's own, created a combatant in a far older and more fearsome conflict than any ever imagined by mere mortal man. And he is about to do battle once more. . . .

Review:  Owl, a Shadow from Tristen's first days after his Summoning, has returned.  Owl is, well, an owl, but he's also a Shadow and somehow tied up in the plans Mauryl made for Tristen when he Summoned him.  He leads Tristen out of his city and into the winter snows to save two women.  The last two women Tristen would have chosen to see again.

Uwen is still my very favorite character, although I've also come to really like Ninevrise, King Cefwyn's new wife.  The army has gathered and war is coming with Spring.  I can't wait to read what happens next.

Rating:  10 / 10

October 5, 2017

Fortress of Eagles by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Fortress of Eagles
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  478
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Tristen, Book 2

Synopsis:  Tristen is both more and less than a man. A summoning, a shaping, he was brought to life by a wizard, to serve a king yet to be crowned.

Now the wizard is dead.  And young Cefwyn is king.

Cefwyn has a dream: a united Ylesuin, and a peace this land has never known.  Cefwyn needs his only friend, this young man of mysterious origins who is more brother than vassal. He relies on Tristen, and trusts him though he knows not why, as he plans the war that will bring his dream to pass...or bring ruin upon them all.

Review:  I love this series!  I tried two other books (both of which I couldn't finish) before I finally allowed myself to revisit Tristen, Cefwyn, Uwen, and all the rest of the great characters in this story.  Speaking of the story, there was plenty of excitement but not of the warlike kind.  The politicking and backstabbing of the courtiers was almost worse than war! 

Now, I'm geared up and determined.  I'm reading the rest of this series, three more books, non-stop.  Anything less is just a waste of my time.  I want to read more about Tristen, especially now that he's been made His Grace, Duke of Amefel, where the people cheer him as Lord Sihhe.

Rating:  10 / 10

September 26, 2017

The Husband by Dean Koontz

Title:  The Husband
Author:  Dean Koontz
Pages:  415
Genre:  Thriller
Series:  None

Synopsis:  What would you do for love? Would you die? Would you kill?

We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash. Landscaper Mitchell Rafferty thinks it must be some kind of joke. He was in the middle of planting impatiens in the yard of one of his clients when his cell phone rang. Now he’s standing in a normal suburban neighborhood on a bright summer day, having a phone conversation out of his darkest nightmare.

Whoever is on the other end of the line is dead serious. He has Mitch’s wife and he’s named the price for her safe return. The caller doesn’t care that Mitch runs a small two-man landscaping operation and has no way of raising such a vast sum. He’s confident that Mitch will find a way.  If he loves his wife enough. . .

Mitch does love her enough. He loves her more than life itself. He’s got seventy-two hours to prove it. He has to find the two million by then. But he’ll pay a lot more. He’ll pay anything.

Review:  This was a fast read and had plenty of excitement.  I just find so many of this author's stories to be so similar.  They are perfect for a plane ride or a day at the beach, but they aren't all that satisfying when I have so many better books to read.  Still, it was fun and a good story.

Rating:  5.5 / 10

September 22, 2017

Fortress in the Eye of Time by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Fortress in the Eye of Time
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  568
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Tristen, Book 1

Synopsis:  Deep in an abandoned, shattered castle, an old man of the Old Magic muttered almost forgotten words. His purpose -- to create out of the insubstance of the air, from a shimmering of light and a fluttering of shadows. that most wonderous of spells, a Shaping. A Shaping in the form of a young man who will be sent east on the road the old wizard was too old to travel. To right the wrongs of a long-forgotten wizard war, and call new wars into being.

Here is the long-awaited major new novel from one of the brightest stars in the fantasy and science fiction firmament.  C.J.Cherryh's haunting story of the wizard Mauryl, kingmaker for a thousand years of Men, and Tristen, fated to sow distrust between a prince and his father. A tale as deep as legend and a intimate as love, it tells of a battle beyond Time, in which all Destiny turns on the wheel of an old man's ambition, a young man's innocence, and the unkept promised of a king to come.

Review:  I very nearly gave up on this book at the beginning.  It's so detailed, with language so intricate, I was re-reading sentences over and over to make sense of them.  I persevered because I love this author.  I had faith it was worth the struggle.  Somewhere around the fifth chapter, I realized the writing was no longer bothering me.  It had become part of the magical, mythical setting in the story.  It made the story more real, which makes no sense unless you've read this story.

Mauryl the wizard and Tristen his Shaping are wonderful characters.  The evil they face is a Shadow named Hasufin and this being is horribly, wonderfully evil.  My favorite character though was Uwen.  He is assigned to be Tristen's guard and shield-mate, but he becomes Tristen's most trusted friend.  I completely loved Uwen.

I wish I had time right this second to read the next story.  There are four more and I'd binge read them all.  But, I have another book I need to read, so I'll save book two for later.

Rating:  10 / 10

September 14, 2017

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

Title:  Off the Page
Author:  Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Pages:  359
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Series:  Between the Lines, Book 2

Synopsis:  Meet Oliver, a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale and transported into the real world. Meet Delilah, the girl who wished Oliver into being. It’s a miracle that seems perfect at first. Sure, Oliver doesn’t know that you shouldn’t try to open your locker with a dagger or that there’s no such thing as “the ruler” of the local mall. But he also looks at Delilah as if she’s the only girl in the world --- the only girl in any world --- and Delilah can’t help feeling that being with him is a dream come to life.

But not every story can have a happy ending. Because the book wants Oliver back. And it will turn both worlds upside down to get him.

Oliver and Delilah will have to decide what --- and who --- they’re willing to risk for love and what it really means for a fairy tale to come true.

Review:  This book was a nice, happy ending to a fun YA series.  I can't say I'll be keeping these books, but I am glad I read them.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

September 7, 2017

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

Title:  Between the Lines
Author:  Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Pages:  352
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Series:  Between the Lines, Book 1

Synopsis:  What happens when happily ever after ... isn't?

Delilah hates school as much as she loves books. In fact, there's one book in particular she can't get enough of. If anyone knew how many times she has read and re-read the sweet little fairy tale she found in the library, especially the popular kids, she'd be sent to social Siberia forever.

To Delilah, though, this fairy tale is more than just words on the page. Sure, there's a handsome (well, okay, hot) prince, and a castle, and an evil villain, but it feels as if there's something deeper going on. And one day, Delilah finds out there is. Turns out, this Prince Charming is real, and a certain fifteen-year-old loner has caught his eye. But they're from two different worlds, and how can it ever possibly work?
"And how do you know that you're not part of a story book?  That someone's not reading your story right now?"
Review:  A book where the characters are real.  This is like The NeverEnding Story set in modern times and with a twist.  The prince from the fairy tale wants to come to the real world.  How much fun is that?  It's a whole lot of fun and the story has plenty of memorable characters.

While this is not my favorite of Ms. Picoult's books, it is a good read and it's very nice that she co-wrote it with her daughter.

Rating:  7 / 10

September 5, 2017

The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Title:  Firebrand
Author:  Marion Zimmer Bradley
Pages:  605
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Series:  None

Synopsis:  Blending archaeological fact and legend, the myths of the gods and the feats of heroes, Marion Zimmer Bradley breathes new life into the classic tale of the Trojan War - reinventing larger-than-life figures as living people engaged in a desperate struggle that dooms both the victors and the vanquished, their fate seen through the eyes of Kassandra - priestess, princess, and passionate woman with the spirit of a warrior.

Review:  Ms. Bradley is at her best in a novel like this one.  From King Priam to Helen of Troy, from Agamemnon to Odysseus, all of the characters are so life-like and so realistic.  It's like you are there in Troy when the Gods and men brought down the greatest city of the time.

Akhilles is no hero.  He is a spoiled, rotten, horrible person.  Helen of Troy is a women whose fate had been decreed by the Gods.  She is their pawn in the great game to destroy Troy.  Kassandra, the main character, has had visions of blood, fire and death from the time she was a very young girl.  Her 'gift of sight' was tempered with a curse -- no one who heard her prophecies would believe them.

The novel does not end in Troy.  It continues on into Mycenae and beyond, following Kassandra and her story.

Exciting and enchanting, with plenty of gory war scenes, this book is nearly impossible to put down.  In the author's postscript, she mentions that The Iliad makes no mention of Kassandra's fate.  She goes on to say:

"However, tablet #803 in the Archaeological Museum in Athens reads as follows:


I do not know if the tablet actually exists or not.  After reading this novel, I hope that Kassandra did indeed survive to have a family after the fall of Troy.

Rating:  10 / 10

August 29, 2017

Forbidden Trespass by James Axler

Title:  Forbidden Trespass
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  314
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #123


In the war-torn wasteland known as Deathlands, desperation and destruction have replaced dreams and peace. Each day arrives with a new life-threatening challenge for wanderer Ryan Cawdor and his fellow band of survivors….


Bizarre murders are taking place in a fertile farming community, and the locals are quick to point fingers at Ryan and his companions. But they know another culprit is responsible. A colony of mutants has been driven from its underground home, forced to find sustenance in the light of day. And only human flesh will satisfy their hunger. Caught between a rock and a horde of hungry cannibals, Ryan and the companions face an ultimatum—help the cannies reclaim their territory, or risk becoming the next meal. Except something far more sinister— and ravenous—lurks beneath the lush fields…

Review:  Not one of the better books in this series, but it did have plenty of action and thrills.

Rating:  5.5 / 10

August 22, 2017

The Face of Fear by Dean Koontz

Title:  The Face of Fear
Author:  Dean Koontz
Pages:  306
Genre:  Thriller
Series:  None

Synopsis:  To stop a brutal killer, the NYPD enlists the help of clairvoyant Graham Harris. He sees the murders in his mind--sometimes at the moment they are happening. Then he sees the most terrifying vision of all--his own murder...

Review:  This is pretty standard fare, but still pretty good.  It was exciting in many places and the bad guy was delightfully awful.  It is a fast read and I would have finished in more quickly if I hadn't been so busy.

Rating:  6 / 10

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