The epic saga that started in The Bloodbound continues… so states the first line of the blurb about this book. This is important information. You will not be able to follow half of what goes on in the book if you haven’t read the first one. As a reviewer I am often asked to review second or following books in a series and usually I can piece together the plot and characters very quickly. With this book, you will want to read the first book. I would recommend doing so as if it is any where close to as well written as this book, it is well worth reading.
The plots which dog the characters as they try to find a way to hold out against the invasion by their neighbours, the Oridians are complex and well laden. The characters make decisions, both good and bad and take their lumps. This is not an easy book to read, but it is worth the effort.
My only real complaint is that it doesn’t so much conclude as stop. I’m old fashioned and like to see authors demonstrate the ability to write a satisfying conclusion before I’m three or four or more books into the series. It is very possible to conclude a book while still leaving movement toward the next book open.
It is a minor complaint in these days, and I would recommend it to epic fantasy lovers.
Theresa M. Jones
Aislin is weird, she knows it, her family knows it, her school knows it. Only her brother, Luke and a new boy at school treat her like she isn’t. She dreams other people’s dreams, the good ones, the horrible ones, the banal ones. She can talk to people in their dreams, which is how they know she was there and why they look at her like she’s a freak.
In spite of all this she is surviving, the the unthinkable happens and Luke lies in a coma at the hospital, and maybe, just maybe she can help him.
On the whole the book is well written, and the voice of Aislin is captured nicely. The problem lies in missed opportunities and one situation in which I strongly felt the author cheated to add drama. Not huge problems in themselves, but in a book which is written to help children be themselves, both the missed opportunities and the cheat make it much less than what it could be.
I would really like to see this book about half again as long to take advantage of the possibilities and also to refuse to back away from the hard reality she avoids at the end. With that work I would be able to heartily recommend the book.
Love and Tumult
I love the lyricism of the opening paragraph of Kumar’s book. I dove into the work with high hopes. Unfortunately, the rest of the book settles into a narrated style in which we listen to Vik tells us about his adventure in Africa and love for Latha. Evocative scenes are few and far between and the story unfolds as if we watched a film with descriptive sub-titles, but little cinematography. It is a pity as Kumar can write, and write well, but the book needs more work before it becomes the powerful story it could be.
Etched in Fire
Maelen arrives in Kaelennar with her trader parents a properly naive thirteen year old girl on her first big trip away from home. Her biggest worry is the history her mother keeps teaching her. That is intended only the Esch under the leadership of demons takes the city and begins a reign of terror.
Warning, this is not a children’s book. On the other hand, it is a brilliantly written book for adults and the occasional mature young adult reader. It isn’t that any particular scene, the sex scenes are much less voyeuristic than many YA books I read. It isn’t the violence either, again it is handled with a deft touch which many YA authors could learn from. What makes it adult is the unremitting realism of the emotions and reality of her portrayal of invasion, love, loss and courage.
There are few books that not only were hard to put down, but hard to keep turning the page. Etched in Fire will stay with you for a long time after the ending which left me bereft and satisfied. The book clearly leaves room for a sequel, and likely more. I would have no hesitation buying the next book in the series, because Beth Hudson does what all too few series authors do–prove she knows how to create a riveting conclusion.
I highly recommend this book to epic fantasy lovers, to people who want gritty tales of what life in wartime is like, to people who want a book to move them. In all the years I have been reviewing books, this is one of very few I wish I could give a six star rating.
Camille and the Bears of Beisa: Drafnel
Camille is a daring attempt at a story spanning both years and dimensions. Like many first books in planned series it is mostly a set up of characters and history with just hints of the plot to come. As I got further into the book I found the characters a bit more engaging, but I still struggled with the lack of immediate plot and context. Given the quality of writing, I’m sure the series will be worth wading through the first book, but I find myself wishing that Simone had turned her considerable talents to a more self-contained story and left the series to develop more slowly.
It is not Simone’s fault that far too many ‘gurus’ suggest writing a series in order to make money as an author, what they don’t say is your first book needs to be a complete package, plot, character setting, and most importantly conclusion. I, at least, will not invest in a series in which the author doesn’t demonstrate the ability to write a climax and conclusion. To give her credit Simone’s is better than most, but she still doesn’t trust her story to bring readers back to part two.
So if you love good writing, series, and you are willing to trust that eventually there will be a conclusion, this book is for you.
The Second Order
The Second Order is a fantasy book which follows Ander a tribesman who has trouble with houndsteeds. A strange disease strikes his people and he and two others from the tribe are sent to find a cure. The story progresses from there with love, betrayal, secret identities and more.
I liked the book, it is an easy read and the plot is enjoyable. Would love to see the characters developed more and to get closer into their heads. Ander is also somewhat of a pawn in the book. He is moved around but for the most part he reacts to situations rather than acting to create the plot. Some of this could be blamed on the complexity of the plotting. Having your character walk an already defined path is easier, if not as satisfying for the reader.
I would recommend the book for people who like light reading and are not as concerned with the depth of character.
The Golden Wizard
The Golden Wizard is a YA fantasy novel which follows Nate in his quest to become the first peasant wizard. I like Nate, and the direction the story goes, but I would really love to see more depth to the story. As a YA book it could dig a little deeper, while bad things happen to Nate, once he sets things in motion with his first decision, he mostly reacts. He isn’t an actor on the plot. Having him make more decisions, both good and bad, and learn from the consequences will make him more real.
Having said that the book is a fun and easy read and for those who are looking for that it will be a good series.
Doggie Diner – A Counting Book
Ashley Eneriz, Kelsey Bass
There are lots of counting books out there which is a good thing considering how much children enjoy them. What makes a good counting book in my opinion is a movement of the book toward a conclusion with a bit of a fun ending. Children like surprises and they are more likely to want to listen and read a book with a bit of a twist. This book has that twist along with cute pictures with lots to look at and alliteration to give the book a nice rhythm. This is a book to add to your arsenal of books to read to the little ones, and very likely it will become a favourite.
You can buy the book here.
Frozen in Amber
Frozen in Amber is set in a world where Weres live unknown in the midst of normal people. Only a few chosen normal people are in on the secret. A special branch of the FBI is in charge of keeping it that way and of maintaining the list of all the Weres in the US. Amber is a were-mountain lion, but where most of her people revealing their animal side, she fears hers, even to the extreme of eating a vegan diet in human form. On one of the rare time she hunts the mountains in cat form, she is hunted and something implanted in her hip.
For the first time in her life should gets sick, but she has no time to worry. She has a major case dropped in her lap defending a murder suspect who happens to be working on a cure for being Were. Add in a very sexy bike courier, her grandfather’s odd behavior and a possible rogue group of We’re and Amber has a lot more on her plate than she can handle.
I thoroughly enjoyed a new slant on Weres. In this world there are a wide variety and the animal side shows up as part of the human personality. That particular piece of genius makes for a mystery which is intense, thoughtful and a great ride through an interesting world. I’m hoping this is not the last we see of Amber.
You can buy the book here.
Andrew Jonathan Fine
Allouette’s Dream picks up some years after the events of Allouette’s Song. While Song was a good story it struggled with being very wordy and overly detailed dialogue. If you are interested in seeing what Asperger’s is like, Song is a good book to read. While you don’t have to have read Song to follow Allouette’s Dream it would help as it introduces the world and concept in Dream.
Allouette’s Dream is the story of Sarah Kondal Seaton, the sixteen year old daughter of Richard and Dorothy Seaton. She is the first human and first Jewish child born off-world. She is a skilled martial artist. When Margaret learns the universe is moving toward rapid destruction, she comes to Kondal to talk to her friends.
The source of the destruction is an anomaly in the time stream. The prototype for the string projector which powered the Allouette was built before any of them were born. She concluded that someone will have to go back in time to build it. What she didn’t expect at that time was that going back would ultimately carry the mission of preventing the assassination of Adolf Hitler.
Sarah is chosen to travel back with only a slight hope of returning to the future.
Sarah is a strong young woman who acts like the teenager she is, but also as a caring and ethical adult in her own right. One of the things I enjoy about Andrew’s writing is the care he takes not just to depict ethical characters but to then put their morals to the test in a way that aligns with the plot.
When you read Allouette’s Dream be prepared to get a recap of parts of Song as it affects the character in Dream. You will also get recaps of events in Allouette’s Dream which happened earlier in the book.They aren’t long enough to push most readers out of the book, but you will have a number of times of deja vu.
That isn’t a sufficient problem to stop me recommending a very good book to readers of sci fi, readers who want to see Jewish characters or people who just like a good tale.
You can buy the book here.