King Callie

51H-05veIaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_King Callie

Brian Lynch

The Kingdom of Barra chooses its Kings through the power of Peacebringer. The present King is on his deathbed and his son Valric is determined not to lose his status of prince. He asks Royce, the palace seer to tell him how to save his father. Royce catches a glimpse of a devastated Barra under King Valric and decides to send Valric to his death to preserve the kingdom. After Valric departs Royce sees the Kings elder daughter Callie as King.

Not everyone in Barra is content to let Peacebringer choose the King, the axe is stolen and plots whirl through the palace.

I enjoyed the book, the world is well defined and interesting and Callie in particular is a complex and interesting character among many deftly created people. The villain is one of.my favourite kinds, they think they are doing the best thing for their country.

There are a few places where I think the plot is rushed and some opportunities for interesting side plots missed, but the writing is solid and the story enjoyable. It is the first in a series, but the reader is not left hanging by a story which stops abruptly in place of a decent ending.

I recommend it to fantasy and YA readers.

You can buy the book here.

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Dead Reckoning and other stories

511W7j4pQdL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Dead Reckoning and other stories

David Kelly

This book is a diverse collection of stories from the tale of a man who buys an afterlife only to learn it isn’t what he expected, to a astronaut named Murphy. A couple of stories feature Castaneda, a woman reminiscent of Asimov’s Susan Calvin. The collection reads much like an Asimov collection with bit of this and that with no apparent theme.

The title story is my favorite and the best developed of the bunch. All of them are fun, but I’d like to see some of them fleshed out and deepened. Still, this is a nice collection to give a few minutes of reading time here or there.

You can buy the book here.

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Irons in the Fire

516KCkq9mUL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Irons in the Fire

Antonio Urias

The story takes place in Talis, a city ruled by the Duke and Duchess, which is the focus of fairy unrest. It takes a while to learn all the characters and what they are or are not. The plotting is deliciously complicated and no one is sure who is on what side. This book is not your normal fantasy with fairies and humans,  there are real political undertones. Beyond that it has a different feel to most books brought out these days in that there is no obvious good or bad. Each faction has their grievances and their flaws. The fascination is not in cheering for the ‘good guys’ but in admiring the depth of the interaction and how the people can be simultaneously heroes and villains.

If you are going to take up just one fantasy epic this year, this book is a very good place to start. I highly recommend it to epic fantasy readers, people who enjoy the interplay of plots and power in a city which is both alive and balanced on a knife edge.

You can buy the book here.

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Jaded: The Silentwhisperer

51XlCIR2ULL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Jaded: The Silentwhisperer 

Hailey Woerner

Jade is thrown out of the orphanage for stealing food, she never explains it is for poor villagers out side the city. With nothing to do and no where to go she follows a strange boy only a little older than her into the woods. What she finds in his satchel changes her life forever. Jade meets rebels and more than one kind of monster trying to both do the right thing and to never trust anyone again.

This is the first in a series, but the ending is satisfying even as we’re left waiting for the next installment. The plot is filled with twists and the reader doesn’t know any better than Jade who to trust. Jade is an extraordinarily well-drawn character with great depth, she draws the reader into the story. The other people populating the story share various degrees of her complexity.

I enjoyed the story,  it continued to surprise as we are moved to the climax still unsure of the outcome. I heartily recommend it to YA and fantasy lovers, as well as those who like adventure of any genre.

You can buy the book here.

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The Pharaoh’s Cat

 

Untitled-1The Pharaoh’s Cat

Maria Louis Lang

Wrappa-Hamen the cat goes from being thrown out of a fish boat to being the Pharaoh’s cat when he suddenly stands on his hind legs and talks like human being. The position of Pharaoh’s cat doesn’t stop him from getting into all manner of trouble. The first half of the book is an episodic telling of all the ways he makes trouble for himself and the Pharaoh,  not to mention the Vizier who hates Wrappa-Hamen. Just when I had decided that the book was no more than a collection of amusing or touching vignettes, it develops a plot and spins off in an entirely new direction.

While the characters are not the most rounded, the story, when it shows up is touching and with the wait. By the time I finished I had a smile on my face and was very glad I’d persevered.

I recommend the book to people who like cats, or ancient Egypt, or just a good story.

You can buy the book here.

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The Hidden Princess

d68c00164a5b9012d606d892ae6f2764The Hidden Princess

Angela Poppe

Eliza is a miller’s daughter who dreams of being a princess, one day she meets a real princess and he friend falls in love with her. A little while later the King arranges for his daughter to marry a dark prince from a neighboring kingdom in order to keep the peace.  Eliza’s friend and the real princess conspire to let Eliza and the princess switch places.

Eliza goes off to marry the dark prince, but soon learns the being a princess is much harder than she thought, and the consequences of discovery are beyond thinking of. Fortunately the real princess’ nanny is there to help, but Eliza’s life gets too complicated for even the nanny to help.

The story is told in classic folk tale with a few central character who are complex and struggle along with supporting cast of more simple people. The plot is familiar enough to be comfortable,  but with its own twist, turns and chills. It is a reminder that these tales had a dark side to them.

The Hidden Princess is thoroughly enjoyable by all age from middle school up.

You can buy the book here.

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The Hunter Awakens

61BaVhyR6sL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_The Hunter Awakens

J.R. Roper

Ethan is an ordinary kid, or he is until a storm wrecks his home and sends him and his troublemaker sister to live with their crazy grandfather and grandmother in the country. Their grandfather is a treasure hunter and pulls them into a hunt which has consumed their family for generations.

Almost unique in urban fantasy books I’ve read recently,  Roper introduces the members of the other world immediately. We get two watch them as they follow and argue over Ethan and his sister. The tactic is very successful creating tension from the beginning pages. The story is a little slow on the human side, but the watchers keep us interested with hints of magic and mayhem to come.

I recommend the book for YA readers and those who enjoy urban fantasy.

You can buy the book here.

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Carpet Diem

51eCUeqT-hL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Carpet Diem

Justin Lee Anderson

Carpet Diem is about an ordinary guy, an angel, a demon, and a bet. Simon has made a career of not being involved in the world, so understandably he panics when the door bell rings, especially as he distinctly remembers disconnecting the bell. So begin his adventures in a world he never dreamed existed.

This book is the kind edge of the absurd humour Douglas Adams wrote, with bits of Terry Pratchett tossed in for good measure. If you’re like me, don’t read it in public unless you want to try to explain why you are laughing at the antics of a crotchety old aunt inappropriate brand new twenty years old body.

If you like strange off the wall humour, this is your book, if you aren’t sure give it a try.

Buy the book here.

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The Blood of the Mystic

Blood of the Mystic

Joe Biarcardi

Blood of the Mystic tells the story of a Joseph who has a vision of a horrific accident injuring his daughter and him. When the vision comes true he uses the healing skills he learned in the East to repair the damage,  a little too thoroughly. A doctor at the hospital injects his father with serum from Joseph’s daughter and the old man is returned to health. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse as Joseph tries to convince the world of the healing power of love, while other forces wish to maintain the trillion dollars medical industry.

The story has a great message and is worth reading for that reason, but unfortunately,  the great message overwhelms the story to the point of making if somewhat predictable and shallower than it could be. More effort on creating a complex plot and three-dimensional characters would lift the book above being about a message to being a great story that leaves us something to chew on.

The book is recommended for people who like stories with a spiritual message.

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The Caretaker of Imagination

cv_the_caretaker_of_imaginationThe Caretaker of Imagination 

Z. R. Southcombe

John wants to run away from home and live great adventures, only he is forty-two. He decides to do it and soon meets a pirate and a story telling mouse named Edgar.

Edgar sends John on a quest to find the caretaker of imagination to learn why the stories are disappearing.

This easy read is an odd story, not quite children’s literature and not quite adult. It is a little like Roald Dahl, but with no children. I would really like to have seen a little more done with the plot to go with the intriguing tone of the book. While I enjoyed reading it, the ending left me asking “Is that it?”

I’m not sure who to recommend the book to, but if you like small oddities, this is your kind of book.

You can buy the book here.

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