Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review:Wisdom(Blue Moon Rising Trilogy) by Bonnie Watson

Wisdom(Blue Moon Rising Trilogy) by Bonnie Watson

This is one of those free books that have a bit of extra hook. The free book was the next one and I just couldn't see reading the free one without first reading this one. So I purchased Wisdom and it's a wise choice-I think.

There are so many things to love about this book it makes it worth the struggle. When I say struggle I don't mean that as a bad thing. What I mean is that this is a story told in the high form of such classics as the Three Musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo. Add to that some interesting world building and it comes close to the classic nature of The Lord of the Rings.

If there is any problem with this book, it's that there are at least three threads being told in parallel which eventually bend into each other by the force of powerful singularity which is the creative nature of the the author, Bonnie Watson.

This book demands special care and attention to details to understand how these story lines fit together. If I were to split types of readers I would call them the slow reader (me) the scanners (me some of the time) the speed reader (Not me, but I know a few). This book is suited to the speed reader. The slow reader may muddle along and take extra time or be tempted to scan and then get lost. It's best to take the extra time and not miss any of the precious details.

As to the story of Wisdom (who starts the story as Keith Larson). The reader is introduced to Keith as a child with loving parents- that is soon a condition that will change through treachery of someone close to the family. This creates an element close to the wonderful story of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. And later when he joins a guild of thieves it becomes a mirror of Oliver Twist.

By the time Keith reaches the point of becoming a slave we would almost suspect that he'd have a thirst for revenge and be close to the Count of Monte Cristo. But the real parts that remind me of Dumas are all the bits and pieces in the building of the tale that speak of treachery and intrigue and the length it takes to build to the connection to all of these.

This is really another story of a youth who's life has been a fiction until they are thrust into reality and forced to discover what they truly are. And that perhaps explains why even as a child Keith possesses a certain quality that sets him apart from normal.

Usually I can finish these off in one or two days but this one took me three. It was well worth the time. Scanning through this book would leave me mostly wondering a variety of thing about what was going on. Going through it carefully was like savoring the flavor of a well prepared feast.

That all said there were a few choices of words that threw me off occasionally and two in particular stood out and I'd love to have someone explain what I might have missed.
The first is this one:

"Indeed." Jenario stood with an heir of newfound dignity.

Watson, Bonnie (2010-10-05). Wisdom (Blue Moon Rising Trilogy) (p. 227). Foreseer Productions. Kindle Edition.

Now I could be all wet here, by waving one foot over the rail precariously. But in this instance it would seem more appropriate to say Jenario stood with an air of new-found dignity.

That's not to say that he couldn't do the above. For lets suppose he'd just had a child and in his society that that very fact gave him a newfound dignity.
This could all be eloquently summed up with that one statement. Since the child would be his heir.

Then he might well stand with an heir of new-found dignity.
Unfortunately he didn't just have a child.

As it stands in context it confused me though it's not to say that it won't make sense to someone more acquainted with using nouns in this manor.

The next was this one:

Already, many young females had taken an interest in him, to Chronicles' discretion.

Watson, Bonnie (2010-10-05). Wisdom (Blue Moon Rising Trilogy) (p. 238). Foreseer Productions. Kindle Edition.

See to me this says to Chronicles good judgment which seems to jar with the way Chronicles seems to come off so far. Much the same as to say Chronicles was encouraging the females towards Keith; while I'm certain he would be doing the opposite.

So, this one baffles me.

These were not show stoppers and I think I understood what was going on and even if I got it a bit wrong I don't think it spoiled the story.

Please read this book and then anyone who would like to enlighten me on these two can feel free to in the comments.

This is great writing from a highly talented person and it was a pleasure to read. I recommend it to just about anyone who loves reading.

J.L. Dobias

Friday, March 22, 2013

Review:Lodestone Book One: Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway

Lodestone Book One: Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway

This book peaked my interest right away. It has a prologue-I'm not sure it needs one- the author gave it one so I guess that's that.

This is the story of Shann - a young girl with a history that puts her at odds with the prophet and his religious order. As it turns out a lot of people don't like them, but she in particular has lost her parents to them. She lives with her relatives and helps them with their Inn. As the story opens we find Lyall trying to free the slaves being taken from Shann's village. Lyall is posing as a Keltar- one of the prophets enforcer guards. Lyall fights another Keltar and almost loses his life- Shann helps him to recover and escape.

This makes Shann a fugitive who will be pursued by many Keltar including Keris who throughout seems to be questioning what she and the other Keltar are doing for the prophet. Eventually Keris will join with Shann, Lyall and Alondo in the fight against oppression. Keris will have to first meet Boxx, a Chandara(bug like being about the size of a child), who will have the evidence she needs to persuade her to go against her beliefs and join the rebellion.

From here the five of them are on the run from the Keltar while trying to reach a tower that has a transporter that will take them to the other side of the Sea of Storms. Throughout we learn of how the lodestones are used to help the Keltar fight and to fly. Shann is trained to fight as a Keltar and though Lyall doesn't at first think he needs to learn he learns to fight better than he has in the past.

Alondo has a neat deadly musical instrument which seems to almost come out of one of those MMORPGs that are so popular these days. There's an ancient communicator that talks to the past.There are plenty of conflicts on the way to make things interesting. Eventually thing go such that there is a need to make a voyage across the Sea of Storms.

Many aspects of the world-building seemed to be sketchy. The lodestones take the forefront. What's missing is how the three suns sustain a world with life and whether the planet rotates on its axis and if not how that might effect the atmosphere which protects the planet's life from radiation.(ie; there might not be a field that blocks the solar radiation that would burn most the planet life away.)Those are not showstoppers for me but some people need to know these things. Also more emphasis on the fact that the Kalanni have tails might have been in order since it seems to be important to the story. Sometimes they all seemed just too human; though it's easy to see they are not on earth and the indigenous life is all quite new and strange.

The story is well told though sometimes there are terms that leak in from British English and take a moment to think about. There are some words who's usage might be indicative of the same situation, but struck me as a sort of word of the day - use this word in a sentence- type of usage. It seems almost to be a signature trait.If the whole novel had been filled with colorful and flowery language these few gems, which are now among common stones might have been less noticed.

There are more novel's to this series but it was quite satisfactory in itself, though somewhat cliffhanger -ish.

If you like fantasy with some heavy world building and science fiction with a bit less world building and romance and mystery and adventure, this series has a great start with a lot of potential.

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review:Powerless: The Submersion by Jason Letts

Powerless: The Submersion by Jason Letts

This book is number four in the series and its one of those series that you can love and hate. The reason for this is that the pace is one that keeps building the adrenaline pump, only bringing you half way down before the next pump and it can almost get tiring.

Couple that with all the tension and wonder about how the hero's are going to solve all the problems and then add some -old serial novel traits- and it can almost become daunting. I remember reading some of those Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and getting near the last pages trying to figure out when all the plot twists are going to even out only to discover that it's not happening in this episode.

This means that many people who drop out, from exhaustion, at the third novel are going to miss out on the whole tie-up of loose ends. By the time I reached the end of the third book I felt about the same as I did near the middle of the Deathstalker series. You almost need a set of file cards to keep track of all the action and deception and intrigue.

There's also a match with all of the paranoid schizoid traits of half the cast. It's funny that some people often complain that the characters in a book seem one dimensional and unrealistic. I think it's safe to say in this book that you'll be happy for the one or two of those that show up.The characters in this story are pretty multifaceted and when they appear to deviate from what I expect I find myself reflecting back to see why they did that bit of surprise and find that it makes sense.

Mira has been jumping around like the needle on a compass in the hands of feeble trembling old man. She's naive by nature but has throughout the series undergone some changes- some for the worse at times. Some times it almost seems the naivete is cured then it starts to rear its head again.

We pick up the characters in Submersion with everyone captured and subdued by the evil Warlord. Even Mira's sister, Clara, is being held captive. The main group have been split up and everyone who survived the battle is suffering under the thumb of the warlord while building a ship, which will take him off to expand his kingdom.

There are two groups; the Sunfighters who are under the Warlords coercive control and the others who have eluded that influence but are prisoners of the Warlord and his sunfighters. None of these people are being treated well or fed and cared for well and my one quibble is that based on the chancy nature of how people are fed there should be a huge number of casualties of hunger and famine and disease and just plain loss of spirit.

Since this is a prisoner of war type novel this time through it could be rather trying if not for the constant build up and sometimes partial setbacks in the various plots to subvert the authorities.

There's a lot going on in a small space so this book really keeps the reader pumped up all the way to the end. Much similar to the third book Stasis. Thankfully the reader will be delighted with a bit more resolution to some of the conflicts that have run throughout the other three books.

There are a lot of elements revealed in this book that help drive into the last book, which is the fifth one named Carafe.

Make no mistake; despite some of the mentions above I loved this story/ series and I very much appreciate the pace that it's had to sustain. For those who love a good fantasy with lots of conflict and interesting characters those are all here and there's light at the end of the tunnel in knowing that it will wrap up beautifully in the final book.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review:Yellow Horizon War of the Auras Book Two by Jessica Acosta

Yellow Horizon War of the Auras Book Two by Jessica Acosta

This is a beautiful middle book to a trilogy.

We have gotten to watch Jamie grow from an organized yet unfocused almost wandering spirit into someone who has found a purpose in life. Then almost at the height of that she discovers a great deception that could easily rip the heart out of the hardest of soldiers.

Now we're about to witness the downward spiral of a soul who's reached a point of trying to reconcile her past and present. It's almost like having an elephant try to actualize that he's an eagle- or vice-versa. It seems absurd but, because of the human element, that possibility of attempt at actualization exists. Jamie is trying to look at her heritage and reconcile that with what she seems to have actualized and has suddenly made that realization of the ridiculous nature of an elephant trying to be an eagle.

It's going to take a lot of push to bring her out of the spiral. It's going to take the discovery that her heritage is not quite what she has been led to believe.

And even when that is said and done there are so many other obstacles and decision that stand before her that she'll be tested to the brink of death and beyond.

There are so many images in this story that are bits of symbolism possibly derived from myths- I honestly have not tried to research any of it yet. There are rich descriptions of worlds that might exist only in someones dreams.

I do know that the author, Jessica Acosta, is studying Anthropology and I would have to suspect that she's putting what she's learning to good use.

If you like mythology, if you like the study of human behavior and development and if you like fantasy and science fiction you'll be delighted by these books.

Despite my own urgency to read the third book, which is a work in progress, I will urge Jessica to take her time and the third will be the best one yet.

J.L. Dobias

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review:Powerless Series (Omnibus 1-3)by Jason Letts

Powerless Series (Omnibus 1-3)by Jason Letts

I first tested the single first book(Synthesis) for free- I believe it is still offered as free. I would recommend that someone start with that and decide if they like it enough to try the rest then I'd recommend the omnibus because it will save a little money.

I really liked the first book for getting the reader started into this world. It at first reminded me of Anne of Green Gables meets Harry Potter. It quickly shifted into Harry Potter meets Genius Girl. And that's all good. I would class this as a Young Adult fantasy though it might easily fit into some steam-punk category. The one problem was that I couldn't readily place it into any particular era or time frame. It might be alternate earth or it could somehow be ins some sort of quasi-dystopic future. It just doesn't conform to any particular framework though it does use the Earth as a reference. Certain elements of the world building seemed to be skipped over, though that did not impede the overall development of the storyline.

I enjoyed the development of the characters and though the first book almost start out a bit like juvenile fiction it segued into Young Adult much as it started to look a bit like Genius Girl. There are a number of good characters in the story and several of them undergo changes as the story develops.

The story begins with Mira Ipswich who lives a sheltered life at age fifteen. She is being home-schooled by her parents Kevin and Jeana and has no idea that there is a whole world out there. There are reasons for all of this, which will come out later in the story. It's almost an unbelievable situation and I think that that's one thing that gives this book initially a feel of being juvenile fiction. It doesn't last long because Mira is about to discover the real world that's out there and she'll be thrust into it quite abruptly.

In this world everyone has some sort of power - except Mira. This will make life difficult for Mira, but she wants to live out there in the real world and her parents home schooling has prepared her for it as much as possible. Mira will join the academy and meet the people who shall become her worst enemies and best friends. The twist here is that she may well be thrust into the thick of life in the next year. Some of these friends are Aoi and Vern,Mary and Rowland, Roselyn and Kurt, Jeremy and Chucky and many more.

There is a thread that runs in this that is reminiscent of Lord of the Flies in that it has rather young people having to deal with the horror of war early in life. That's not to say that there are not young people out there who do have to deal with this it's just not normal fare for me in my fiction. These are fifteen year-olds just edging into sixteen who are going to -at the age of 16 begin training for war.

One almost disturbing element in the story is that the youths seem to handle the situation as though this is some sort of mmorpg instead of real life. Also the adults seem to encourage this. There is a heavy element of competition and in a short time the reader finds that people can be hurt during the competition. They will all be vying for the position of leader -not just of the class but of the unit when they eventually go to war. They seem to have somehow been encouraged to make this an every man for himself competition. There are elements of this that lend to the thought- yes we need to teach them the seriousness of the war they will have to face- yet we must ask - should we kill them before they reach the field.

Mira will have to join in this competition without a special gift or power and having to use her one most powerful resource- her mind. She's not to be deterred and gets right into the spirit of the whole thing. At the same time she understands the need to bring in teamwork- which is going to be a daunting task.

There are so many characters with so many attributes and so much depth and Jason does a fantastic job of introducing them and keeping them all in order so its not difficult to keep track. These characters are youths that are growing and developing and I think the author does a good job here though it might put off many readers because they seem to often shift around and change more than what many readers are comfortable with. It's been said that Mira is a very conflicted character and I agree- but in truth many of the characters in the story are conflicted for different reasons. I think the author lays the seeds for this well, but has taken on an awesome task with perhaps too many characters spreading his talent a bit thin at times. Thankfully he tells a story well and keeps track of his characters as he goes.

In the first book - eventually the group is all going to be confronted with a first hand look of the horror of war and they will have to learn to work as a unit.

The next two stories The Shadowing and Stasis continue bringing our ersatz heroes into the thick of the war.

The first half of Shadowing is about the shadowing, which is how each person learns to use their skill from someone who has mastered a like skill.

This reads a bit like Karate Kid with all sorts of instruction that almost makes no sense to our somewhat anxious trainees. Most will learn once they come to an understanding , but for some their choice of masters to shadow may come close to fatal conclusions. This is all leading to another challenge for leadership, which may, in itself, prove fatal for some.

This all leads to the war in the Stasis where the reader can't help but feel sympathy for these youths who will have to grow up early. The war is so wide spread that it seems that not only do most youth end up in it, but most don't return. This third book reminded me a lot of The Death Stalker series by Simon R. Green and I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a young adult book. That's just me though.

There's two more books and if you make it this far you will want to read those. My one quibble would be that once you get this far and with the way it abruptly comes to its conclusion it leaves you thinking,"oh, he should have put the forth one in this set."

I recommend this Omnibus for anyone who likes dystopic steam-punk,mmorpg's, magic and wizards, and seat of your pants conflicts. Something for everyone and sometimes not for the faint of heart.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Review:The Planet Savers, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Planet Savers, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The copy I have of this is from the Gutenberg project. It is taken from the pages of amazing stories. And I want to share the little quote at the beginning.

[Quote] Marion Zimmer Bradley has written some of the finest science fiction in print. She has been away from our pages too long. So this story is in the nature of a triumphant return. It could well be her best to date.

Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Planet Savers (Kindle Locations 16-17). [/Quote]

I had not read this prior and it's fairly old. It's from Bradley's Darkover world and I think it's a masterpiece. Even after all this time it still holds together well as a relevant and well told tale.

This short novel easily demonstrates the author's massive ability at world creation and her skill in writing that makes this not only a marvelous work of Science Fiction but a literary masterpiece.

This is the story of Jay/Jason. A highly intelligent and driven doctor who is respected on one hand and despised on the other. He's aloof most of the time and has nothing but prejudice against most of the inhabitants of the Darkover world especially the trailmen whom he considers to be low life beasts.

Ironically Jason is also the man who as a child was rescued and raised by the trailmen in their remote mountain village. They raise him until they decide he's old enough that he needs to be returned to his kind.

It might be that this young man felt abandoned by them as he may have felt abandoned when his father died. Whatever the reason, he's pulled off a sort of Jekyl-Hyde or Sybil turn in his life where he has segmented the old Jason from the new Jay.
Now, at the time of the reawakening of a cyclical pandemic fever he is forced to bring out the Jason- trailman- side of his personality.

The Trailmen are immune to the illness because they suffer a milder form of it when they are young. The notion is that they might be able to make a serum from the trailmen blood. The problem is the trailmen never come down from their mountain. Jay even has to agree that this trip out to the trailmen is necessary because his greater understanding of medicine can see the value. They need Jason to help insure its success.

Submitting to a procedure that will bring forth this other personality he becomes Jason- a somewhat genial and reckless young man. The transformation he undertakes affects even his physical characteristics to a point that colleagues who have known him for years don't recognize him.

All this takes place in a matter of few pages all packed in expertly with the added bonus of creating the affect that the reader comes to identify and love Jason, while loathing and despising Jay.

There's a lot more to come in this story as they make the dangerous trek into the wild and up through treacherous mountains that tax even the local Darkovans.

Will they survive, will they find a vaccine, how did Jason get so messed up. All these and more will eventually come out in this gem of a short.

The skill with which Marion Zimmer Bradley weaves and fills this novel and the fact that it stands the test of time make it easy to see how she became such a respected author and remains that to this very day.

This book is a good read for anyone who wants to become acquainted with the author and her Darkover series. And for those already acquainted who may have missed this one, they should pick it up and give it a go. There is no way for you to be disappointed.

J.L. Dobias