Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cripple-Mode:Series Book Two Completed

Travis Lucia Hamilton-McQueen is a teen trapped in circumstances over which she has no control. She's awakened from a coma to a life out of control and she's trying to focus towards getting it back. It's no help that her Grandfather is a suspected mass murderer, her father is a convicted killer and she's a clone suspected of being a terrorist because she's been illegally bouncing in and out of JumpSpace. The issue of control consumes her in the light of the revelation that she may be harboring not one but three parasitic entities inside her head. Someone now expects her to do their dirty work and they won't take no for an answer.

It's the parasites, which interact with JumpSpace entity, that have created a majority of the problems in her life. She'd love to get rid of them except that there might be a fine line between these parasites and what make her what she is. These entities and their parasites have somehow written all of her father’s memories into her head. She's frightened of acting against them because from all that she can tell if they leave and take the memories with them there might be nothing left of her except an empty shell. She has no recollection of her own life. She's afraid to die and has a worse fear of being alive and thrown into a darkness of nonexistence perhaps a bad as the coma she'd just come out of.

Travis has been able to survive only because of all the knowledge her father's memories have brought her. But, they have brought her some trouble also. One problem is that the memories don't contain anything about the person she is. For all intent and purposes he father knew nothing about her until his consciousness woke her up on the Medical Space Station Perl. What scares her more is that the people responsible for her creation, The clone colony collective, Special Service and League Jump Guild have some sort of agenda associated with her creation that has some sinister purpose involving the JumpSpace Entity.

Despite her misgivings she finds herself inducted into the League Jump Guild; they are the ones who control and regulate how JumpSpace is used. She has gone from being a loner to starting to surround herself with her own familial group of teachers and friends. She still has a long way to go. The temptation to let the tide of chaos around her dictate her actions is something that she's finding frustrating and difficult to fight. She must begin to take control and make her own decisions, but each step in that direction brings her in possession of more of a real life and that raises the stakes and heightens the consequences.

For Travis the question of who she is, takes second place, to should she exist? What some take as fundamental truths about the psyche and the soul are things she has to struggle with. Insidious larger issues are looming ahead as she realizes that the very technology used to jump through space may be a cloned form of a living being that's much more than just an AI. If that's true then she has much more in common with it than she could ever have imagined. She'll have to ask herself would the possession of this technology by the League Jump Guild constitute slavery. That strikes the fundamental core of what Travis Lucia Hamilton-McQueen believes and she'll be faced with a decision that will impact more than her own fate.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review::The Shifting Tides of History by Shiva Winters

The Shifting Tides of HistoryThe Shifting Tides of History by Shiva Winters

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Shifting Tides of History(Book 5 of the Salak'patan Series) by Shiva Winters

I love this series.

I enjoyed the MageWorld series of Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald; so it's easy to see, with all the magic creatures and magic land with magic crystals and magen objects, that I might really enjoy this book because it's peopled with characters that I found to be much more interesting than those in the above mentioned series. I also have mentioned my love for both the Amber Universe of Roger Zelazny and the World of Tier Universe of Philip Jose Farmer, so its just as easy to connect these books because they are peopled with characters that all start out the same way, in a normal life on a normal earth like planet only to find that they are something more than normal and to discover they not only have a history in the strange new land, but they have family there.

One wide difference is that in the Tier and Amber universe the family were almost as deadly to each other as they were to anyone else, and though that might hold true in theory with the Salak'patan series, there is less deadly squabbling among the family members than the Tier and Amber families, or at least I should qualify that it seems that way to me. There is still squabbling.

Monorth the (most) main character (there are too many outstanding characters in this book to name them all) of this series starts in humble beginnings on an earth that looks much like the one we have here. Just as with the Tier and Amber series the hero starts with another name, Raven Sinclair, but unlike those series this might be considered his real name and the name of Monorth is a special name he takes as his public identity. There are a few other differences in the beginning, mostly in that there are a group of people with special abilities, on his earth, who are being abused by the government-slash-military and Monorth is attempting to keep those people free and safe and nicely hidden from those potentially evils agencies. It's while protecting them that Monorth encounters people from the realm of Salak'patan and the Center and through this meeting he is inducted into the group to begin training and it's a considerable amount of time before he discovers that he has actually gotten his family roots from this place. All this is in the first book of this series and if you haven't read it you should, although you won't need to read it or the many that are in between in order to understand what is going on because it is all presented here in a most fantastic and entertaining way.

That brings me to a major difference in these stories from the three comparisons I have made, Shiva's style of writing: it's rightly so that this should be; and for me it has made her stand out not only from these three but from many others. Shiva has mastered a style that I found so endearing in Charles Dickens writing, the long sentence. Now anyone can write long sentences, but for many of us it might begin to sound forced and inept, to the point of creating run-on sentences, because it takes a specific talent to craft these things in such a way that they contain the one continuous thought from front to end and perhaps carry the reader with a tide that sweeps them through a pile of useful information, which makes this style an important tool for this book; because Shiva brings us up to date and offers back-story and character development while the action is taking place and this style helps her do it all at once in a coherent and entertaining manner, which is something not everyone can pull off that easily. Now as to sorting through and finding how many or few qualify as run-on as opposed to long sentences is another matter and it would seem an exhausting and useless task to take on since Shiva chose this as her style of writing and we should just enjoy it.

This story takes up with the search for Monorth who is lost in time for reasons that are explained eventually within this story but also show up in a previous book, so if you go back to the beginning and read them all you will already know this though it's not vital to this story because much of the past is explained within the heads of the characters as the narrative gives the new readers a feel for each character and their own thoughts and motivations while the action of the present is taking place. This is a form of exposition at its best. It entertains, keeps the story running, keeps the reader informed and makes this book a complete book within itself that doesn't have to rely on what the reader knows about the rest of the series. That means it contains a lot of spoiler for new readers and I really suggest that if you enjoy this you will love the rest of the books and should read them all.

As always with Shiva and her world building and her style of writing we obtain a rich picture not only of the worlds the characters visit and the people they meet, but the very magic that drives the action of the story. Shiva mentions that to do this book, number five, and the next one five point five she had to traverse a dark place that she wasn't happy about treading through. If this is so, then I will expect it is in the five point five book as this one does not strike me as all that dark.

One word of caution to those who are pernickety. If you are one who tends to bleed when encountering grammar problems, missing words, extra words, and I hate to say incorrect or missuse because this is creative writing maybe we should call it creative use of words, I will warn you that they do happen here as they do in other of Shiva's writing. I do not grade my stars on that unless they get too annoying.

There is no way that Shiva's writing is going to annoy me.

(I only wish I could say the same about my writing annoying her... but Alas ... C'est la vie.)

If you like SFF, Romance, Time Travel and epic tales this one has it all

J.L. Dobias

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review::The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt - CompleteThe Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt - Complete by Giacomo Casanova

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Complete Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

(The boy who never grew up)

I purchased what appeared to be an incomplete copy of this on Amazon and then went to the Gutenberg site to find the full 29 episodes of which one is rather incomplete. It comes with a warning:

[Transcriber's Note: These memoir's were not written for children, they may outrage readers also offended by Chaucer, La Fontaine, Rabelais and The Old Testament. D.W.]Giacomo Casanova. The Complete Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt (Kindle Locations 9-10).

Maybe this is meant to be tongue in cheek but nevertheless this book will likely offend someone.
(As it turns out the Amazon edition is complete just presented differently in the table of contents.)

The Gutenberg version is translated by Arthur Machen with added information from Arthur Symons and was transcribed by David Widger (whom I will blame for all the misspellings and possible incorrect words.) There are quite a large number of questionable word usages here such as shew skew both being used for show and I've no idea if in some ancient version of English skew was some nuance of show that is different from shew but they often show up on the same page and in context both look to mean show. A search shows that the amazon version contains the same feature, so perhaps one day I'll locate the explanation of nuance.

Giacomo Casanova was born in Venice of Spanish and Italian parentage. Both his parents were actors though it would appear that there was a promise made that once married his mother would no longer work in that profession ; that was a condition that was never meant to be fulfilled, which is fortunate since his mother was widowed while the children were still young. He later created the name Chevalier de Seingalt which he used as readily as his given name and became Knight of the Golden Spur.

He begins his memoir by calling it a confession and accepting all responsibility for his acts; good and evil. He apparently felt a need to differentiate himself from Stoic's I can only think that much of his philosophy in life leaned enough in that direction that he was often mistook for one. He espouses a believe in a immaterial God and though he believes that god has given man freedom to do as he pleases he will lose that when he allows his passion to rule him. And of passion he says there are few who are truly wise enough to have mastered it.

Stoics characterized the wicked man as being like a dog tied to a cart and compelled to go wherever it goes. Casanova styled himself to be a man free to go where the wind blows him, yet if I were to look at passion as the cart he would often be taken where ever it goes. The difference here is that Casanova did not consider himself a wicked man. This is yet to be seen.

Much of what Casanova lays out to the reader might almost sound like rationalism except that it differs as much as do the Stoics in that Casanova seems to believe that Passion plays an important role. He called it treading on the precipice without falling into it. In some way this could give him a kinship with the fool of the Tarot cards. He speaks of deception in that men and women must dupe each other for love. And he almost passionately despises the fool whom he can dupe so easily almost using that as the justification for such deception. He makes no apologies nor does he regret his transgressions often attributing it to the folly of youth. And though he despises the fool the reader soon will see that he himself has often been caught out that way.

Casanova wrote the memoir when he was old and unable to preform as he had in his youth. He is quite free with his story and it perhaps might be considered more racy then than it is today. He is clear from the beginning and throughout that he has little intention of publishing this and that if it is published in the future some time he hopes someone might enjoy it. To this end and after reading much of the memoir it was easy for me to see that as he states many times this is so that he can recapture the enjoyment of his youth in the fondest of memories. He does caution that his memoirs are not meant for certain people and applauds the intelligence of those who become his most indulgent readers. The truth remains that these were written for the authors own enjoyment, which is possible the best way to go about it.

He establishes that not everything will be found here. Qualifying that there are things many might feel repugnant and offensive. Yet after I finished reading these I felt that there was quite enough; though not as much as one might find in today's erotica. Perhaps though, for his time, it was wise if there were more extreme and explicit memories; that he desisted in expression or this might never have made it to us today. Still considering the time of these events; there are things that we find taking place that would be considered quite heinous, but are treated lightly. Such things as the marriageable age of a young girl seems to be around fourteen and that might be moved if the young girl in question has developed well enough to appear that age. While today it is unquestionably too early in most societies, even for that time has to be a prior to the time a woman develops her self esteem and this leads me to wonder if that was to make them pliable enough to be molded by their husbands.

Casanova considers himself a man of natures more than a man of mind. And he seems to believe that this is possibly the very nature of men.He says he has always had a passion for women, the fairer sex. I found in reading this that he has many qualifiers and modifiers and will never include the whole of that gender. He doesn't quite consider himself a narcissist but he is in favor of self love over self loathing as he feels self loathing leads to death. One thing that confounded me was his love of women. His view of women seemed trapped in the era in which he existed but his love led him to a dichotomy of view that sometimes seemed progressive, but always when his passion took over he adopted the contemporary view. He loved an intelligent free thinking woman more than the more simple minded and yet seemed to remain at ease with letting the simple minded remain that way. If he had a flaw it is one that comes through to our era in that he had to have whichever of these he was courting at the time wrapped in an almost impossible outer beauty that would rival the male oriented publications of today.

For me it was this love of outer beauty and sometimes brutal disdain of what he considered ugly that began to give me a true look at the nature of this man. Though he derided the bigots of his era he was bigoted in many ways and he was quick to anger, easily offended, and mostly mercenary about his forgiveness. Love for him was a matter of conquest and this entailed everything from paying the closest attention to his object of beauty to putting no limit to what he would spend for her. If the conquest took longer than he felt necessary he would become angered and sometimes bordering on abusive to downright brutal. He was a sweet talker, he could fall in love at the drop of a hat, sometimes fall out just a quickly depending on his temperament. He could love more than one woman at a time but if his current love for one was deep enough he could not allow infidelity, though other times he found himself easy to share. Most times the love would wane as distance from the object increased and waxed as it decreased.

Most, though not all of the young ladies Casanova fell in love with, might today be considered under age. He had lovers that ranged from ten years old to thirty and beyond but most of those he fell madly in love with were around or below the age of seventeen. He seemed to have a fondness for sisters and friends and had a great share of threesome's and menage a trois. His love exploits sound contrived in that he always fell deeply in love while knowing that he was certain a marriage would end his life. He'd live in constant state of bliss and mortal fear until some circumstance occurred to alleviate his obligation to consummate his promises. Usually a lover that he could recognize as being more stable for his love would arrive or he's be thrown in jail or out of the country.

The whole of the memoir reads like the old classic romance novels with duels and tete a tete.s that led to more than just a conversation; all this with the trimming that would rival the works of Dumas. One might wonder if Dumas was inspired after reading the memoirs.

Casanova is not above showing himself the fool and showing his faults. His chief fault is that he is a gamer which in his case mostly involves gambling but seems also to be acquainted with scamming people and sometimes the gambling games were not so much chance. This placed him in an element that was quite seedy and often intersected with people who were a bit more street smart than he and he would always come to bad ends with them. A handful of times he was inflicted with venereal disease leading to his abstinence from sex; for usually around 6 weeks while he effected a cure. The first instance he gives leads later to a humorous meeting with a doctor in that community some years later. The doctor puts all that is his at Casanova's disposal because he had gained such wealth from all the patients that resulted from Casanova's indiscretions the last time he visited.

Putting aside Casanova's character and personality, which did not impress me, the memoirs do seem to be a treasure trove containing information about the life and times of a wide sample of countries in part of what we call the European Union. Even though it predates the Victorian era it seems a great read for people who love Victorian romance novels and steam-punk. It could serve as a good source for the writers of those types of novels. The beginning part and end part of this book go to great length to demonstrate the veracity of this memoir not only as the work of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt but as a work of historic value.

The amazon version seems to mirror this version though its table of contents is a bit skewed.
J.L. Dobias

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review::Blood Healing(The Healers of Meligna, Book2)by K.J. Colt

Blood Healing (The Healers of Meligna, Book #2)Blood Healing by K.J. Colt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blood Healing(The Healers of Meligna, Book2)by K.J. Colt

I received this in ARC form from the author and read it immediately and should probably have had this review posted much earlier.

I was busy waiting for other events of my own to unfold on my end and then became distracted, which might have been to some benefit. As it was I was distracted into reading The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova which has some parallels to issues I struggled with in these two books of K.J. Colt's. These books are a bit out of my genre although I could almost imagine them to take place on some other world and bring the element of science fiction fantasy to them I felt more that they were about some era long ago. Not being inclined to history, I sometimes found extra sleep in those classes, I was at a loss to what era this might depict where they treated children so poorly. After reading the memoirs it would be easy to place these close to or earlier than the same time that Casanova was alive. Although I had a feeling Casanova exaggerated his life and exploits the whole does seem to give one a feel for life and society of that time.

I purchased this and reread it to refresh my memory. As I've mentioned with the past book I was moved to great anger with the parents of our heroine Adenine. I felt they did terrible things to her and though it took a while in the story I felt K.J. had acquitted herself well with a fair explanation for all of the circumstance. If you have not read that book I would recommend reading it before you read this one. This one stands well alone though, so if you are not inclined I think you will still find this one quite entertaining and thought provoking.

There is a thread or plot point that is the main thread around which everything is woven, which is a trope that I have seen in many of my favorite genre. You will have to read to recognize this because it's a major part of the story that makes it interesting and drives the main character. It is the way that it is developed here and how in this story it begins to be partially resolved that make this piece precious.

Our main character is just turning fourteen and is facing some things in life that would be troubling to many young teens today. This is one of the elements that I picked up from the memoirs if Casanova in that it seems parallel to how the children of that era were treated, especially the young girls. This goes a long way in explaining the parents but not yet acquitting them in my eyes. What they are guilty of is still severe and I find it amazing that Adenine has come to forgive them, though as I read I could easily see that in her nature that is what she would do.

As the story begins, where the last one left off, Adenine is en-route to her new life as a healer with her friend Jemely, a protector Hawrald and her nemesis Healer Euka. There are some interesting things pertaining to character development that go on in the first few pages especially when we meet Absylam with whom Hawrald seems acquainted with and has apparent reservations about, but despite this he finally relinquishes his protection over Adenine to Absylam.

In this book Jemely undergoes some hardships that make her character seem less important to the story, but it's the very hardships and their outcome that lead to the best of plot twists that will take us into the next book.

In her new life in Meligna, Adenine is shown one way of life that is quite easy and free and not at all as expected. But it is because she is being shielded from knowing all of the truth that she gets this impression. When fortune turns on her she will see things in a much different light. Adenine has grown much from the past book but, she is far from finished with her development. She has qualities that could make her a great leader, but she is naive and too trusting, which gets her into no end of troubles. This is something she shares with Casanova who, though always seeming to be so clever and accomplished in fooling others, often found himself caught up by those less intelligent but more crafty than he. It is a character flaw that stays with her throughout the book but in the end she might be better for all that has occurred. There seems no end to the drama and the intrigue that unfold in her life while Adenine goes through it unaware of the tenuous thread that holds her where she is.

Adenine spends almost too long a time rushing into things that have all sorts of catastrophic effect on her friends. Part of this might be forgiven in that she has, at the beginning, a long road to finding out who her true friends are. It seems at some point that her concern for Jemely and her refusal to be betrothed to someone she can never love will lead to her ruin, but there are other things in the mix that are bringing things to a climax.

This book contains all the twists and turns, intrigue and plotting, romance and danger that I often found in such classics as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

This is yet another well told tale by K.J. Colt in a series that has garnered my attention. I think anyone who loves the old classic masterpieces of romance and who loves good world building in Fantasy should enjoy both of these books while at the same time enjoying some interesting thought provoking ideas that may well prove too real toward our past, even though fanciful in many ways, it's possible that some of these notions might have been entertained at some distant time and had similar consequences.

J.L. Dobias

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