June 15, 2017

Patrimony by Alan Dean Foster

Title:  Patrimony
Author:  Alan Dean Foster
Pages:  255
Genre:  Science Fiction
Series:  The Humanx Commonwealth, Book 25

Synopsis:  "I know who your father is . . . Gestalt." A shocked Flinx hears these dying words from one of the renegade eugenicists whose experiments with humans twenty-odd years ago shocked the galaxy . . . and spawned Flinx. So Flinx and his minidrag, Pip, venture to Gestalt, an out-of-the-way planet that may supply the key to Flinx's shadowy past and strange powers.  Unfortunately for Flinx, Gestalt also hosts a resident bounty hunter who's just learned about the stupendous reward offered for a certain dead redhead.  Flinx gets a chance to test his adversary's skills when our hero's skimmer is blasted out of the sky and into a raging river in the middle of nowhere -- a nowhere of impossible terrain and ravenous, carnivorous beasts.

Review:  Well, Flinx is back.  I knew he would be.  It's not that I don't like him, but I just don't love him.  I don't really feel sorry for him, although I suspect I'm supposed to.  He's just sort of whiny, with a whole 'poor little rich boy' thing.

Still, the story was solid and the bounty hunter was fun.  Gestalt is an interesting planet with very wonderful native beings.  All in all, it's really about the science fiction to me.  And, this is good science fiction.

Rating:  7 / 10

June 11, 2017

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

Title:  The Good Guy
Author:  Dean Koontz
Pages:  447
Genre:  Thriller
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis: Timothy Carrier, having a beer after work at his friend’s tavern, enjoys drawing eccentric customers into amusing conversations. But the jittery man who sits next to him tonight has mistaken Tim for someone very different—and passes to him a manila envelope full of cash.

“Ten thousand now. You get the rest when she’s gone.

The stranger walks out, leaving a photo of the pretty woman marked for death, and her address. But things are about to get worse. In minutes another stranger sits next to Tim. This one is a cold-blooded killer who believes Tim is the man who has hired him.

Thinking fast, Tim says, “I’ve had a change of heart. You get ten thousand—for doing nothing. Call it a no-kill fee.” He keeps the photo and gives the money to the hired killer. And when Tim secretly follows the man out of the tavern, he gets a further shock: the hired killer is a cop.

Suddenly, Tim Carrier, an ordinary guy, is at the center of a mystery of extraordinary proportions, the one man who can save an innocent life and stop a killer far more powerful than any cop…and as relentless as evil incarnate. But first Tim must discover within himself the capacity for selflessness, endurance, and courage that can turn even an ordinary man into a hero, inner resources that will transform his idea of who he is and what it takes to be The Good Guy.

Review:  I'm really not sure how I ended up with so many books by this author.  Probably because of far too many yard sales and visits to the Friends of the Library book sales.  I made a pact to finish at least a few of the great many of his books I have this year.

This one was very good.  The bad guy was deliciously evil.  The action was almost non-stop.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

June 6, 2017

The Howling Stones by Alan Dean Foster

Title:  The Howling Stones
Author:  Alan Dean Foster
Pages:  326
Genre:  Science Fiction
Series:  Humanx Commonwealth, Book 24

Synopsis:  Enter another realm in the amazing world of the Humanx Commonwealth--the interstellar empire governed jointly by humans and aliens!

The newly discovered planet of Senisran was a veritable paradise--a sprawling world of vast oceans dotted with thousands of lush islands and copious deposits of rare-earths and minerals. First-contact specialist Pulickel Tomochelor's mission to Senisran was straightforward: Secure mining rights for the Humanx Commonwealth before the vicious AAnn Empire beat them to the chase. With Senisran's Parramat clan resisting entreaty, negotiations could be difficult, but Pulickel was more comfortable with aliens than with his own species, and looked forward to a triumphant return to Earth.

He hadn't counted on the incredible secret of Parramat, though: the strange, powerful green stones that the tribe used to manipulate the forces of nature. Within those stones lay an awesome technology the origin of which was lost in time--a technology that had to be kept from the AAnn at any cost . . .

Review:  This was one of the best books of this series!  The main character in the series, Flinx, was nowhere to be found.....and I think I liked it that way.  I get a little tired of Flinx and his melodrama.  Whether that is the reason or not, I believe this is in the top three books from this set.

Engaging and incredible, the story of the Parramat and their stones is one I won't soon forget.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

June 2, 2017

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

Title:  Picnic at Hanging Rock
Author:  Joan Lindsay
Pages:  196
Genre:  Mystery
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  It was a cloudless summer day in the year 1900. Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the secluded volcanic outcropping. Farther, higher, until at last they disappeared. They never returned.

Haunting, mysterious, and subtly erotic, Picnic at Hanging Rock inspired the iconic 1975 film of the same name by Peter Weir. A beguiling masterpiece of Australian literature, it stands with Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca as a masterpiece of otherworldly intrigue.

Review:  I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel.  What I got was pure excellence.  This author's descriptions are wonderful.  The story reads like a dream.  You see the places, you care about the characters, and you wonder what really happened at Hanging Rock.

Even though it remains a mystery even after the book is done, I felt in no way cheated.  It was just too darn good of a story.  I'll be keeping this book.  I'm sure I'll read it again.  I'm so glad I read this!

Rating:  10 / 10

June 1, 2017

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

Title:  Demon Seed
Author:  Dean Koontz
Pages:  301
Genre:  Horror
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis: Susan Harris lived in self-imposed seclusion in a mansion featuring numerous automated systems controlled by a state-of-the-art computer. Every comfort was provided and in this often unsafe world of ours, her security was absolute.

But now her security system has been breached, her sanctuary from the outside world violated by an insidious artificial intelligence which has taken control of her house. In the privacy of her own home, and against her will, Susan will experience an inconceivable act of terror. She will become the object of the ultimate computer's consuming obsession: to learn everything there is to know about the flesh...

Review:  This story is told by the artificial intelligence known as Adam Two in his report to his creators who are sitting judgement on his actions.  Adam Two wanted was actually self-aware.  He was missing only one thing.  He wanted to be flesh, not circuits and wiring.  Adam Two had no conscience whatsoever in pursuing his dream.

It is a great premise.  It is, unfortunately, not at all a great story.  It took me forever to get through even though there were some harrowing scenes.  It's just very poorly done.  I understand this book was made into a movie.  I think I'll pass on watching it.

It is a shame to note that in the afterword the author mentions re-writing this story for the version I read.  I assume that is because the original version was worse than this one.  I've found that this author is either really, really great or really awful.  This one was just awful.

Rating:  1.5 / 10

May 28, 2017

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Title:  On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author:  Stephen King
Pages:  291
Genre:  Non-Fiction
Series:  Stand Alone

...books are a uniquely portable magic.

Synopsis:  Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.  King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.  Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story told well.

Traditionally, the muses were women, but mine's a guy.  I'm afraid we'll just have to live with that.

Review:  I wasn't sure what to expect with this book.  I went into it knowing that I'm not a writer.  I never will be.  I just don't have that gift.  I shouldn't have worried.  Stephen King made the book so much fun to read, even though I knew I'd never use the advice he was giving.

His memories of his childhood and the story of what happened with a van that nearly killed him in 1999 were heartbreaking and touching.  I admire Mr. King more (if that's possible!) than I did before I read this book.

His complete honesty and his interesting life make this book a great read, whether you plan to write or not.  If you are a writer (or want to be), I'd say that it's necessary reading.

Rating:  9 / 10

May 24, 2017

The Prophet of Akhran by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Title:  The Prophet of Akhran
Author:  Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Pages:  390
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Rose of the Prophet, Book 3

Synopsis:  As the Great War of the Gods rages, it seems as though the terrible Quar, God of Reality, Greed, and Law, will emerge the victor.  Even the immortals have abandoned their mortal masters to join the the battle above.

Trapped without their immortal servants on the shore of the Kurdin Sea, Khardan, Zohra, and the wizard Mathew must cross the vast desert known as the Sun's Anvil - a feat no man has ever performed.

Like the legendary Rose of the Prophet, the nomads struggle to survive the journey.  If they succeed, they will face more than combat with the enemy, for the Amir's hardened warriors are led by Achmed, the fiercest of men....and Khardan's brother.

Review:  This was a really good story, with plenty of action and adventure.  Unfortunately, the ending was a disappointment.  It ended very abruptly with no resolution to the many large problems that faced the Gods and the nomads.

I did enjoy the story but after I got to the last page, I thought perhaps there were pages missing.  I just couldn't believe the ending gave so little closure.  I felt cheated that I'd never know what happened with the main stories that I'd been following.  After how wonderful the last book was, I was expecting better than this.

Rating:  4.5 / 10

May 19, 2017

The Paladin of the Night by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Title:  The Paladin of the Night
Author:  Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Pages:  375
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Rose of the Prophet, Book 2

Synopsis:  The Great War of the Gods means nothing to the proud people on the mortal planet--until Akhran the Wandering God decrees the union of two mighty  feuding clans. Though the families are fierce Warriors, they are few in number. Even the marriage of  Khardan and Zohra is not enough to over power the  strength of the invading army or prevent the  imprisonment of their peoples.

Now, with Khardan and Zohra mysteriously missing--seemingly cowards who hid from certain defeat--the two clans have lost all  hope of ever again seeing their beloved open skies. But Prince Khardan and Princess Zohra, aided by the wizard Mathew, have been given another mission...a mission that at first seems less useful than counting the many grains of the desert sands, but soon proves to be of far more lasting importance.

Review:  This book was even more exciting than the first one!  One God, Quar, has decided to become the only God and he will stop at nothing to cause the other Gods to vanish from the world.

The Goddess Death is involved in his plans, unknowingly.  The messengers of the gods are vanishing.  People are being put to death.  It is jihad in the mortal realm and in the heavens.

Incredible, impossible to put down.  I can't wait for the final, sure to be dramatic, ending to this trilogy!

Rating:  8.5 / 10

May 16, 2017

The Will of the Wanderer by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Title:  The Will of the Wanderer
Author:  Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Pages:  444
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Rose of the Prophet, Book 1

Synopsis: Since time began, twenty Gods have ruled the  universe. Though each god possessed different abilities, each was all-powerful within his realm. Now one of the Gods has upset the balance of power, leaving the others scrambling for control in the new order...

Here is the epic tale of  the Great War of the Gods--and the proud people  upon whom the fate of the world depends. When the God of the desert, Akhran the Wanderer, declares that two clans must band together despite their centuries-old rivalry, their first response is  outrage. But they are a devout people and so reluctantly bow to his bidding.

Enemies from  birth, the headstrong Prince Khardan and impetuous Princess Zohra must unite in marriage to stop Quar, the God of Reality, Greed, and Law, from  enslaving their people.

But can Khardan and Zohra keep from betraying each other? Can their two peoples maintain their fragile alliance until the long-awaited flowering of the legendary Rose of the Prophet?

Against the powerful legions of the evil Amir, Khardan and Zohra fight to save the desert people--a fight unexpectedly joined by an exiled wizard named Mathew and the mysterious powers of his alien land.

Review:  I didn't expect to enjoy this book half as much as I did.  The women are second-class citizens.  The twenty gods and their messengers exist and interact with the people.  The setting is very much like the Middle East.  However, I did enjoy it, mostly because the story was so engaging.  It had thrills and adventure and love and magic, pretty much everything you can ask for in a fantasy novel.

I've yet to find a series of books by Margaret Weis that I loved as much as her Death Gate series but this one is well done and I've already begun the second book.

Rating:  7 / 10
Back to Top