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

July 7, 2017

Mount TBR Checkpoint #2

Well, I'm just over half way there!  I think I'm actually going to make it!  29 out of 48 and still half the year to go!

Revelation by C.J. Sansom and Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay are both mysteries.  I loved them both!  Picnic at Hanging Rock was my first book by Joan Lindsay and it's set in Australia, a place I've always wanted to visit!!

I have read FOUR books all purchased on March 1, 2008 so far.  The most recent one of these is The Prophet of Akhran by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.

1.  My ex was/is:  a Trouble Magnet (Alan Dean Foster)
2.  My best friend is:  Song of Susannah (Stephen King)
3.  Lately at Work:  I've had to deal with Zombies and Other Unpleasant Things (William Bebb)
4.  If I Won the Lottery:  I'd buy The House of Bairn (Thomas K. Martin)
5.  My Fashion Sense:  makes more sense By the Light of the Moon (Dean Koontz)
6.  My Next Ride:  will be Big Trouble (Dave Barry)
7.  The One I Love is:  Flinx Transcendent (Alan Dean Foster)
8.  If I Ruled the World. I Would:  think it was A Time of Madness (Thomas K. Martin)
9.  When I Look Out My Window, I:  see Beauty (Sheri S. Tepper)
10.  The Best Things in Life are:  told by The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult)

Once Upon an Autumn Eve by Dennis L. McKiernan

Title:  Once Upon an Autumn Eve
Author:  Dennis L. McKiernan
Pages:  378
Genre:  Fantasy, Romance
Series:  Faery Series, Book 3

Synopsis:  Based loosely on the fairy tale of the Glass Mountain and the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin

Once upon an autumn eve, a wounded knight named Sieur Luc rides into the Autumnwood - and into the heart of Princess Liaze. But even as love blooms between them, dark forces snatch him away. Guided by the enigmatic Fates, Liaze sets out on a desperate quest to follow the trail of her true love no matter what perils she may encounter.

Review:  This series is one of the very few romance series I read.  These books are full of wonderful fantasy settings and characters.  I love that each of the books is a lengthy retelling of one (or more) fairy tales.

This story was quite good.  It's not the best one of the series, but it is good.

Rating:  7.5 / 10

June 29, 2017

Hive Invasion by James Axler

Title:  Hive Invasion
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  316
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #121

Synopsis:
DUST DWELLERS

Seeking refuge in a post-Armageddon America, Ryan Cawdor and his crew of misfits travel together for survival and sanity. Known as Deathlands, this lawless hellscape is defined by destruction, death and despair. Only those who persevere with the belief in a better future stand a chance in this world where each day brings a new, and potentially lethal, struggle.

HARNESSED MINDS

Desperate to find water and shelter on the barren plains of former Oklahoma, Ryan and his team come upon a community that appears, at first, to be peaceful. Then the ville is attacked by a group of its own inhabitants—people infected with a parasite that has turned them into slave warriors for an unknown overlord. The companions try to help fend off the enemy and protect the remaining population, but when Ryan is captured during a second ambush, all hope seems lost. Especially when he launches an assault against his own crew.

Review:  I've seen these books called "serial novels" and "a stupid men's action series" online and I disagree and am even a bit offended.

The front cover of this novel shows one of the main characters, Krysty Wroth.  Sure, she's eye candy for the men who assuredly read this series.  Yes, she and her long-time lover, Ryan, have fairly descriptive sex scenes in nearly every book.  She's also tough and smart and, while she's probably not exactly role-model material, I'd like to be a lot more like her.

Today, while I was reading on my lunch break outside work, a guy walked by and asked what I was reading.  I said, "A really good book!".  He asked (a little snidely), "Oh, one of those girl books?".  I assume he meant a mushy romance.  I really wouldn't know, since I've never been one of those girls.  I told him it had gun fights and lots of violence.  He looked shocked and then muttered something about that being nice and backed away.  Hah!  I smiled for the rest of the day.

Guess I should really talk about the story now.  It's about a group of parasitic slug things that can take control of a human.  Think Aliens meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers and you'll get some idea of what I mean.  It was gross and scary but ended on a positive note.  There's no happily ever after in these books, but this one had as close as they get.  Another of the goodies!!

Rating:  8 / 10

June 27, 2017

Polestar Omega by James Axler

Title:  Polestar Omega
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  314
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #120

Synopsis:
ARMAGEDDON'S NOMADS

Banded together to survive, Ryan Cawdor and his companions travel the barren wastelands of a post-nuclear world. There are no laws in Deathlands—only fear, destruction and annihilation. As each day brings a new struggle, this group journeys toward the shaky promise of sanctuary.

COLD WAR

Ryan and his friends become the subjects in a deadly experiment when they're taken captive inside a redoubt at the South Pole. A team of scientists is convinced the earth must be purified of mutants, and now they have the perfect lab rats to test their powerful bioweapon. Within Antarctica's harsh and unstable conditions, the companions must fight the odds and take down the whitecoats before millions are killed. But in this uncompromising landscape, defeating the enemy may be just another step toward a different kind of death….

Review:  One-hundred and twenty books later and I still love this series.  The guns, the action, the blood and gore, and the same main characters I've come to know and love makes this hands-down the longest series I've ever read.

This one is set in Antarctica and between the icy cold and the 300-pound mutant penguins, it is a great deal of fun indeed (and a little scary, truth be told!).  There's also a group of scientists and soldiers who are descendants of the people who were there when the nuclear bombs fell on the entire world.  Interbred and believing that they are the last 'unmutated' humans in existence, they are pretty awful examples of humanity.

These books aren't always great, but this one was.  Finished it way too quickly and I'm hankering for more so I've already selected #121 for my next read.

Rating:  8 / 10

June 25, 2017

Big Trouble by Dave Barry

Title:  Big Trouble
Author:  Dave Barry
Pages:  292
Genre:  Comedy / Thriller
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  Dave Barry makes his fiction debut with a ferociously funny novel of love and mayhem in south Florida.

Review:  This book had me laughing out loud while sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happened next.  There are so many great characters.  Puggy, the homeless drunk who works at a bar run by Russian gun runners and who just happens to fall in love with a housemaid named Nina.  Nina is an illegal alien of Hispanic descent and she loves Puggy back.  Then, we have Eliot, the failing advertising agent whose ex-wife is getting a little tired of him being behind on his support checks.  Eliot falls in love with Anna, who is married to a man who may be the largest ass in the continental United States.  Seriously, the list goes on but I won't give the other truly hilarious people away.

Add to the great cast a suitcase sized nuclear bomb, an airplane, and some goats and the story just gets funnier and scarier.  It holds onto the laughs and the nail biting until the very end, all at the same time.  Set in Miami, it is just about the perfect book to sit down with and finish in an afternoon (at the beach, even!).  It took me longer than that but that's my fault.

I have just realized this book was made into a movie with Tim Allen starring as Eliot.  Oh, I am absolutely going to watch it!  I'll wait a while though because it cannot possibly be as good as this book was.

Rating:  10 / 10

June 23, 2017

Flinx Transcendent by Alan Dean Foster

Title:  Flinx Transcendent
Author:  Alan Dean Foster
Pages:  398
Genre:  Science Fiction
Series:  The Humanx Commonwealth, Book 26

Synopsis:  From one of the most brilliant imaginations in science fiction comesFlinx Transcendent, Alan Dean Foster’s thrilling conclusion to the series that began over thirty-five years ago–the epic adventures of Flinx and his flying minidrag companion, Pip.

Flinx is the only one with even the tiniest chance of stopping the evil colossus barreling in to destroy the Humanx Commonwealth (and everything else in the Milky Way). With time running out, Flinx is a man in search of a solution and in search of himself. His efforts take him to the land of his mortal enemies, the bloodthirsty AAnn, where chances are excellent that Flinx’s discovery–and summary execution–will eliminate all his demons and doubts in one masterstroke.

The way Flinx is feeling, that might not be the worst imaginable end. After years of searching for his father, he finally has–and must bear–the truth. And now he must also seek out an ancient sentient weapons platform wandering around somewhere in the galaxy and then communicate with it, a powwow that could very well fry his already frazzled brain. Then there are the oblivion-craving assassins determined to stop Flinx before he can prevent total annihilation.

With a future that rosy, it’s no surprise he’s flirting with disaster. Still, Flinx is no quitter, and he’s got something else going for him–an uncanny ability to improvise and triumph (or at least survive) in impossible situations. He’s certainly been through enough of them, and now he’s going to need every ounce of that know-how, because he’s venturing to places where the laws of physics fear to tread, where no one’s ever been, to do what no one’s ever done, and where his deadliest enemy is so close it’s invisible.

Review:  Finally, I got to find out how Flinx would save the universe.  It's been a long time coming and I'm glad I stayed with this series.  I have two more books set in the same Commonwealth universe, but neither of them involve Flinx.  I'm glad.  I really like the ones that he's not in better.

I understand the author is writing more books about Flinx and what happens after this novel.  I'll be passing on them.  I'm happy with the closure from this book and am not really all that excited about reading more about Flinx.

Like the last book this is solid science fiction, but the main character (Flinx) is just not my favorite.  Not by a long shot.  I will most miss the Thranx.  They are incredible and believable aliens who I'd very much like to meet.  Mr. Foster has created an entire universe full of some of the most wonderful aliens (and humans) out there.  The series is well worth the time.

Oh, and I'll miss Pip.  Who doesn't want an empathic Alaspinian mini-dragon as a pet?

Rating:  7.5 / 10

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

May 12, 2017

Phantoms - The Movie

I've tried three times to watch this movie.  I have not been able to finish it.  From the very start, the story is changed so much from the book that I cannot believe the author (Dean Koontz) had anything to do with it.  Unfortunately he's credited with writing the screenplay.

The main character, Jenny, has a younger sister.  Lisa is a very young, very scared 14 year old in the book.  In the movie, she looks like a very grown up and sexually active 17 year old.  That changes a good bit of the plot right there.

To make matters worse, Frank Autry (one of the best secondary characters in the book) is just not in the movie at all.  Add that to the fact that they chose Ben Affleck to play the sheriff and all expectations go down the drain.  I love Ben Affleck, but he is NOT the right actor for the character portrayed in the book.  Instead of coming across as a very haunted and strong person, he comes across as a really obnoxious action hero.  I'll be nice and give this a half of a star since some of what I watched was scary.

May 11, 2017

Revelation by C. J. Sansom

Title:  Revelation
Author:  C. J. Sansom
Pages:  550
Genre:  Historical Fiction / Mystery
Series:  Shardlake, Book 4

Synopsis:  In Revelation, Sansom’s newest book in the series, the year is 1543 and King Henry VIII is wooing Lady Catherine Parr, a woman sympathetic to reform, whom he wants for his sixth wife— much to the dismay of Archbishop Cranmer and the embattled Protestant faction at court. Meanwhile, Matthew Shardlake is working to defend a teenage boy, a religious fanatic who is being held in the infamous Bedlam hospital for the insane. When an old friend of Shardlake’s is murdered, he vows to bring the killer to justice. His search leads him back to Bedlam but also to Catherine Parr—and the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation. As Bishop Bonner prepares to purge London of Protestants, Shardlake, with his assistant Jack Barak, uncovers a series of horrific murders that shake them all to the core.

Review:  These are some of the best historical fiction out there.  I believe I like this author as well as I do Sharon Penman and that is saying something.  Plus, his main character, Matthew Shardlake, is wonderful.  A lawyer by trade, Matthew finds himself embroiled in mysteries and politics (usually at the same time).

This story, mainly about the search for a serial killer, is chilling and full of adventure.  The descriptions of life in London in 1543 are realistic (and sometimes disgusting).  At the end, the Historical Note shows just how much research went into making this book as true to the times as possible.

I have one more Shardlake book to read and then there is another one I don't have.  After that, there seem to be no more coming.  I'll miss them.  This author has two other novels, both set in the 1940's, and perhaps I'll give them a try, but I won't love them like I've loved these books set in the early Renaissance in England.

Rating:  10 / 10

May 5, 2017

Phantoms by Dean Koontz

Title:  Phantoms
Author:  Dean Koontz
Pages:  434
Genre:  Horror
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis: A tale of an abandoned town and the unimaginable truth behind its silence...

Now with a new afterword, Dean Koontz explains the impact Phantoms had on his career.

ARE YOU SAYING THAT WE EXIST ONLY TO BE KILLED?
YES.  YOU ARE CATTLE.  YOU ARE PIGS.  YOU ARE WORTHLESS.

Review:  Do not read this book after dark!!  It is scary and drags you in kicking and screaming.  It makes you believe in The Ancient Enemy, who calls himself by many names, including Legion and Satan.  As much as I wanted to believe that this was another horror story with superstition and fantasy as a basis, it seemed far too scientific and real.  Very scary!!

The horror is non-stop, until the very end, and just when you think it's safe....it's not.  I finished the book in just over 24 hours.  I highly recommend this story.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

May 4, 2017

Read It Again, Sam Wrap-Up

I actually completed my goal on April 24th, but I knew I had one more book and I wanted to have all the re-reads on my list before I did this post.  It's the first challenge I completed this year!!

I chose the level Feeling Nostalgic (Reread 8 books).  I re-read the following books:

1.  The Gunslinger by Stephen King
2.  The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
3.  The Waste Lands by Stephen King
4.  Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
5.  Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
6.  The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King
7.  Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
8.  Song of Susannah by Stephen King
9.  The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Some of these books had only been read once before (Doomsday Book  and the last three of The Dark Tower series) and one I read again for the *eleventh* time (The Gunslinger).  I enjoyed each and every book I chose for this challenge and I'm planning to do this challenge again next year!



The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Title:  The Dark Tower
Author:  Stephen King
Pages:  845
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The Dark Tower, Book 7

"May you find your Tower, Roland, and breach it, and may you climb to the top!"

Synopsis: All good things must come to an end, Constant Reader, and not even Stephen King can make a story that goes on forever. The tale of Roland Deschain's relentless quest for the Dark Tower has, the author fears, sorely tried the patience of those who have followed it from its earliest chapters. But attend to it a while longer, if it pleases you, for this volume is the last, and often the last things are best.

Roland's ka-tet remains intact, though scattered over wheres and whens. Susannah-Mia has been carried from the Dixie Pig (in the summer of 1999) to a birthing room -- really a chamber of horrors -- in Thunderclap's Fedic; Jake and Father Callahan, with Oy between them, have entered the restaurant on Lex and Sixty-first with weapons drawn, little knowing how numerous and noxious are their foes. Roland and Eddie are with John Cullum in Maine, in 1977, looking for the site on Turtleback Lane where "walk-ins" have been often seen. They want desperately to get back to the others, to Susannah especially, and yet they have come to realize that the world they need to escape is the only one that matters.

Thus the book opens, like a door to the uttermost reaches of Stephen King's imagination. You've come this far. Come a little farther. Come all the way. The sound you hear may be the slamming of the door behind you. Welcome to The Dark Tower.

Because when ka-tet breaks, the end always comes quickly.

Review:  The last book in The Dark Tower series is just plain incredible and scary and sad.  It's a wonderful story.  I can't say too much because I'm afraid I'll give spoilers, but rest assured that this book is an epic ending to an incredible series.

Ted Brautigan (from Hearts in Atlantis) makes an appearance, as does Patrick Danville (Insomnia).  There are so many completely happy and completely horrible moments in this story that I found myself crying one moment and laughing the next.

Now that I've re-read the entire series, I remember why this is (and always will be) one of my two favorite series of all time.

Rating:  10 / 10

May 1, 2017

A to Z ~ Reflections

I made it through all of the letters this time around and without changing my theme!  It was so nice to meet new people and visit new blogs!

I was taught something new by Sue at The Great Raven.  Thanks to Sue, I now have a Followers gadget on my blog!!

I found so many great themes and posts.  My A to Z went from April Fools' Day to Zicree, with every post somehow related to books.  I think my favorite post was K ~ King.  Stephen King is just amazing!  I also really enjoyed writing O ~ One Thing.  I liked how free I felt, writing about something that means so much to me, rather than just reviewing a book or an author.

For anyone questioning whether this blogging challenge works, it does.  I usually get about 480 visitors per month, which is fine because I really just blog about books because I love doing it.  In April, it was 1,584 -- over THREE TIMES the number.  I also have six followers, which is six more than I had a month ago.  It was a wild ride.  I am glad I finished.  I'll look forward to next year.

April 29, 2017

Z ~ Zicree

Marc Zicree is yet another author I discovered quite by accident at the Friends of the Library book sale.  Yes, I have been very lucky with my used books from that source.  His Magic Time trilogy was magical.

I loved all three books.  You can read my reviews here:  Magic Time, Angelfire and Ghostlands.  I really only bought them because of the artwork (I'm a sucker for great cover art) and because the author's name started with that impossible-to-find letter Z, but I ended up finding out that they contained an original story that I loved.

Look for them.  Try the Friends of the Library book sale.  Or Amazon.  Or your local library.  They're worth finding.

April 28, 2017

Y ~ Yarrow

Charles de Lint is one of my favorite fantasy authors.  His Newford series is (as usual) very long and completely wonderful.  Yarrow starts with Y and is pretty much everything I ask for in a fantasy novel.  I remember thinking I'd never love another of his books as much as his The Riddle of the Wren, but I was wrong.  Mr. de Lint has an endless ability to write books I love.

It was a keeper, but somehow has been lost in one of my many moves.  I wish I still had it and hope one day to find another copy.

April 27, 2017

X ~ An Xt Called Stanley

An Xt Called Stanley by Robert Trebor is one of those books I love because it surprised me.  I found it, with it's interesting artwork and intriguing synopsis, at yet another Friends of the Library book sale.  When you get a book you've never heard of by an author you've never heard of for a quarter, you hope for the best and prepare to be disappointed.

This book was such a great example of classic science fiction.  I read it almost ten years ago now and still remember it with fondness.  I don't imagine it's easy to find but if you find a copy, grab it.  You will be glad you did.

April 26, 2017

W ~ Without Remorse

Without Remorse by Tom Clancy is part of the Jack Ryan universe.  This series includes so many great thrillers:  The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, The Sum of All Fears, and Executive Orders, just to name a few.

Many of them have been made into movies.  Harrison Ford has played Jack Ryan.  Sean Connery was in the movie version of The Hunt for Red October.  These are seriously some of the best political thrillers ever.

Sure, there are twenty-two novels in the series, some of which I haven't read yet, but I've yet to be disappointed and I do love a good, long series.  They are everything good thrillers should be.

April 25, 2017

V ~ Van Scyoc

Sydney Van Scyoc writes some of the most enchanting science fiction out there.  I've read nearly all of her stories and they are so very good.

I loved her series Sunstone Scrolls best of all.  It's one of my keepers and that is saying something.  I currently have 225 books, most never read, so keeping something I've read means I know I'll read it again some day.  If you love really good science fiction and haven't tried this author, you're missing out!

April 24, 2017

Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Title:  Song of Susannah
Author:  Stephen King
Pages:  411
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The Dark Tower, Book 6

From the Portland Sunday Telegram, June 20, 1999:
STEPHEN KING DIES NEAR LOVELL HOME

Synopsis: Song of Susannah is at once a book of revelation, a fascinating key to the unfolding mystery of the Dark Tower, and a fast-paced story of double-barreled suspense.  To give birth to her "chap," demon-mother Mia has usurped the body of Susannah Dean and used the power of Black Thirteen to transport to New York City in the summer of 1999. The city is strange to Susannah...and terrifying to the "daughter of none," who shares her body and mind.

Saving the Tower depends not only on rescuing Susannah but also on securing the vacant lot Calvin Tower owns before he loses it to the Sombra Corporation. Enlisting the aid of Manni senders, the remaining ka-tet climbs to the Doorway Cave...and discovers that magic has its own mind. It falls to the boy, the billy-bumbler, and the fallen priest to find Susannah-Mia, who, in a struggle to cope -- with each other and with an alien environment -- "go todash" to Castle Discordia on the border of End-World. In that forsaken place, Mia reveals her origins, her purpose, and her fierce desire to mother whatever creature the two of them have carried to term.

Eddie and Roland, meanwhile, tumble into western Maine in the summer of 1977, a world that should be idyllic but isn't. For one thing, it is real, and the bullets are flying. For another, it is inhabited by the author of a novel called 'Salem's Lot, a writer who turns out to be as shocked by them as they are by him.  These are the simple vectors of a story rich in complexity and conflict. Its dual climaxes, one at the entrance to a deadly dining establishment and the other appended to the pages of a writer's journal, will leave readers gasping for the saga's final volume (which, Dear Reader, follows soon, say thank ya).

Review:  Again, I was amazed.  I'd read this story before, but I'd forgotten how magical and darkly scary it is.  I promised myself I'd spread these books out, but that promise is broken.  I've already started the next (and last) book in this series.

The synopsis gives the bare bones of the plot, but doesn't mention the wonderful character that Roland and Eddie meet in Maine.  They meet John Cullum, an older man who helps them with incredible courage and hospitality at a time when they need both.  They also meet Stephen King, the creator of their epic tale.  Pretty cool stuff.

It also left me on a cliffhanger....and longing for more of the story.

Rating:  10 / 10


U ~ Untamed

Untamed by A. G. Howard is the companion novel to the absolutely wonderful Splintered series.  It is partially a rather disturbing re-telling of Alice in Wonderland and I didn't expect to love this young adult series half as much as I actually did.

The first book, Splintered, was a bit of a trial for me, but the rest were much better.  If you can get past a bit of teen angst and love a little dark, twisted fantasy, I highly recommend this series!

April 23, 2017

T ~ The Deathlands

The Deathlands series is serial science fiction.  James Axler is a name used by the publisher and there have been several authors behind the books.  It's a look at a future of what Earth could become in the wake of nuclear war.  These books are the definition of dystopia.  They're full of guns, violence, sex and gore.  They show the best and the worst of humanity.  And they are usually just so darn much fun to read.

I've read a grand total of 119 of these books.  I have five more on my TBR list.  There are two more that I don't have yet.  Then, my 16-year love affair is over.  The publisher cancelled the series back in 2015.  I was devastated and wrote a farewell post.

I'm purposefully saving these last few books.  I can hardly stand to think that someday soon I'll be done with them forever.

April 21, 2017

S ~ Stewart

Mary Stewart wrote what is, to date, my very favorite King Arthur series.  I love the idea of the sword in the stone, the magician, and the round table.  I've read dozens of books about King Arthur and Merlin.  None of them compare to this set of five books.

The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day, and The Prince and the Pilgrim were all just wonderful.  I gave them rave reviews (and several perfect 10's).  They are the one set of books that I gave away that I wish I never had.  I will have to replace them one day.

I want to read them again.

April 20, 2017

R ~ Redwall

The Redwall series by Brian Jacques is a wonderful group of stories.  All twenty-two books are about a world filled with animals that talk.  They are fantasy books written for ages ten and up, but I read them all as an adult and loved them.

I wasn't blogging back then, so no reviews, but they are so worth the time!  I know that 22 books is quite an undertaking, but you won't regret giving these stories a try.

They are magical.

Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

Title:  Wolves of the Calla
Author:  Stephen King
Pages:  709
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The Dark Tower, Book 5

"..Gilead has been dust in the wind for a thousand years."

Synopsis:  Roland Deschain and his "ka-tet" are bearing southeast through the forests of Mid-World, the almost timeless landscape that seems to stretch from the wreckage of civility that defined Roland's youth to the crimson chaos that seems the future's only promise.

In this long-awaited fifth novel in the saga, their path takes them to the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis, a tranquil valley community of farmers and ranchers on Mid-World's borderlands. Beyond the town, the rocky ground rises toward the hulking darkness of Thunderclap, the source of a terrible affliction that is slowly stealing the community's soul. One of the town's residents is Pere Callahan, a ruined priest who, like Susannah, Eddie, and Jake, passed through one of the portals that lead both into and out of Roland's world. As Father Callahan tells the "ka-tet" the astonishing story of what happened following his shamed departure from Maine in 1977, his connection to the Dark Tower becomes clear, as does the danger facing a single red rose in a vacant lot off Second Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

For Calla Bryn Sturgis, danger gathers in the east like a storm cloud. The Wolves of Thunderclap and their unspeakable depredation are coming. To resist them is to risk all, but these are odds the gunslingers are used to, and they can give the "Calla-folken" both courage and cunning. Their guns, however, will not be enough.

Review:  I had forgotten how exciting this book is.  It's an incredibly thrilling story and very sad in places.  It also leaves you in a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I've already started the next book.  I'd promised myself that I'd space these novels out throughout the year but, like Roland, I'm getting near to the Dark Tower and, really, I can't stop now.  This is especially true because I have only read this book once before.

I'd forgotten that Father Callahan (from Salem's Lot) had such an important role to play.  He came to Roland's world in 1983.  He becomes a part of the ka-tet and his story is eerily familiar to the rest of the group.  So many coincidences are beginning to happen.  It's obvious that the Tower is near.  Roland would call it ka and he'd be right.

Unlike the beginning books of the series, there wasn't much of a wait for the next novel so I didn't need to re-read it.  This and the last two books that follow it will hold many surprises for me, I'm sure of it, since I always find new things even in the ones I've read several times.

I can't wait.

Review:  10 / 10

April 19, 2017

Q ~ Quests

There's really nothing I love better than a great fantasy story, complete with knights, dragons and elves.  A great quest is usually required.  Whether it is for a ring or whether it is to defeat an evil creature, it doesn't matter to me.

I love the sweeping drama, romance and scares.  I love the fact that the fate of the whole, entire world rests with a few unlikely heroes.  I just love a good quest.

My favorite quests have been found in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson and The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, although The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is a very close second.


April 18, 2017

P ~ The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin is a really great story.  It was recommended to me in the tiny, little library in Melrose, Florida.  That library had the most wonderful of things -- a rack of books you could take for free and keep.  You just had to bring books you were done with to trade for the books you took.

The librarian, who I can picture clearly in my mind but whose name I've forgotten in intervening years, saw that the books I brought and the books I took were almost all either Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror.  She loved The Passage and told me about it one day.  I'm so very glad she did.  It was wonderful and scary.

April 17, 2017

O ~ One Thing

The One Thing I love the most.  Yes, of course, I love books (and dogs, and games, and many other things).  But the thing I love best I love because of my books -- my bookshelves.  It's where all my old friends and my (hopefully) soon-to-be new friends hang out.

When I move, the bookshelf is last thing packed and the first thing unpacked.  I keep my books in alphabetical order by author and then by title.  I've used stacked milk crates.  I've had bookshelves built out of used cardboard boxes and tape which I considered a real triumph of ingenuity (see photo!).

Currently, I have what I would call a 'fancy shelf'.  I purchased it at Walmart and I put together myself with a screwdriver, a hammer, and some curse words.  Sure, the books are double-stacked but I always know where to find the next one I plan to read and, when you have as many books as I do, that's pretty important!

April 16, 2017

N ~ The Novice

The Novice by Trudi Canavan is the second book in the Black Magician trilogy.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was a new author to me.  I love fantasy, but know (unfortunately) that there is plenty of mediocre fantasy out there.

This series was really good.  It's easy to lose yourself in these stories.  I read this trilogy back in 2011 and it still sticks in my mind as a really wonderful set of books.  I gave them all a solid 8/10 or better.  

The Magicians' Guild (book 1) and The High Lord (book 3) are both equally memorable.  Give this series a try.  I can't imagine it will disappoint you.

April 14, 2017

M ~ McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey wrote dozens and dozens of books.  She is best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series, but she has written many other fascinating science fiction / fantasy novels.

I've read 47 of her novels and have another ten I haven't read yet.  There are a few more on my wish list.  After that, all that are left are her few novels involving cats, which I doubt I'll read.  Ms. McCaffrey passed away and there won't be any more.

Her son, Todd, is continuing her Dragonriders books and they are good, but he doesn't quite have his mother's talent.

I'm so glad that about 10 years ago, I wrote away for a bookplate hand-signed by Anne McCaffrey.  She sent me two.  They are treasures to me and I haven't put them in a book yet.  They are still in the envelope they came in, all the way from the Ireland.

April 13, 2017

L ~ Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, along with the other 8 books in the series, were some of my very favorites when I was young.  This picture looks exactly like my copy did (although mine was not in very good shape, having been read over and over by my much younger self).

I was also a great fan of the TV series based on these books starring Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon.

These stories were of a gentler and perhaps, in some ways, better time.  There were still unkind people and still things to be afraid of, but Pa and Ma were always there to take care of the family.  My set of books were given away or sold at a yard sale decades ago.  I'd like to find another set.  I believe I'd still be enchanted.  Definitely worth reading, even if you don't have children.

Trader by Charles de Lint

Title:  Trader
Author:  Charles de Lint
Pages:  464
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Series:  Newford, Book 5

Synopsis:  Max Trader is a luthier, a maker of guitars. Johnny Devlin is chronically unemployed. Trader is solitary, quiet, responsible. Devlin is a lady-killer, a drunk, a charming loser.

When they inexplicably awake in each other's bodies, Devlin gleefully moves into Trader's comfortable and stable existence, leaving Trader to pick up the pieces of a life he had no part in breaking.

Penniless, friendless, homeless, Trader begins a journey that will take him beyond the streets of Newford to an otherworld of dreams and spirits, where he must confront both the unscrupulous Devlin and his own deepest fears. This is a novel of identity, an adult coming-of-age story in which a man discovers his own hidden strengths with the aid of a strange and wonderful community of unexpected friends...and of a beautiful musician who is willing to follow him beyond the boundaries of the world.

Review:  There is a reason Mr. de Lint is called 'a master of urban fantasy'.  He is that and so much more.  He makes you believe, which is really pretty incredible.

This series is long and I love it.  It is one of those series that you can read a book and stop, then pick the next book up later and not be lost.  You cannot possibly forget the stories.  They are just thoroughly wonderful and scary and seem so very real.

This author is on my top five list of authors.  I can't give this book anything but perfect marks.  It read like a dream and left me wishing there were another 400 pages to read.

Rating:  10 / 10

April 12, 2017

K ~ King

Stephen King is one of the most prolific and well-loved authors ever.  I've read a whopping 62 books written by him.  Some of them were short story collections and some had more than one novel in them, so if I was to count stories...well, the number would be even higher.  This number also doesn't count the number of times I've re-read the same book because I loved it so much.  I have another half-dozen yet to read (which doesn't include the ones he's written that I don't have yet!).  And, he's not done.  Of this, I am sure.

From Carrie (1974) to Sleeping Beauties (2017), from The Stand to the Dark Tower series, this man has earned the title The King of Horror, although I think he's actually The King of Story-Telling myself.  So many of his books have been made into movies (or mini-series), it's incredible.

My favorite books remain the Dark Tower series (which I'm currently re-reading) and The Stand, which is also my favorite of his film adaptations, although the movie made from The Shining with Jack Nicholson and The Shawshank Redemption starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are very close seconds.

He is and has been for as long as I can remember the one person I'd like most to meet.
Back to Top