Monday, July 28, 2014

Review:: Paul Clifford by Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Paul Clifford (Pocket Penguin Classics)Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Clifford by Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton

This is a marvelous and greatly maligned piece of fiction that begins with this ever over-popularized piece of purple prose.

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

Bulwer-Lytton, Baron Edward (2012-05-16). Paul Clifford - Complete (p. 9). . Kindle Edition.

One must wonder when looking at the Point of View of this novel which seems to be some omniscient narrator who in a rather tongue and cheeky fashion keeps addressing the reader directly through the holes he creates in the forth wall. By the end of the story there are more holes in that wall than there might be in a block of Swiss cheese. This and the florid manor of writing alone cause one to suspect the author has deliberately waxed purple all the way through this seemingly florid bit of prose.

Add to this a later instance of similar quality:

It was a frosty and tolerably clear night. The dusk of the twilight had melted away beneath the moon which had just risen, and the hoary rime glittered from the bushes and the sward, breaking into a thousand diamonds as it caught the rays of the stars.

Bulwer-Lytton, Baron Edward (2012-05-16). Paul Clifford - Complete (p. 246). . Kindle Edition.

Granted there is a period here after night, but then how much different is that really than the semicolon of the former. I think that the author is having the last laugh, if he could only see how well quoted he has become.

Beyond such valuable prose this novel holds many things. I've read the analysis that it portrays the injustice of the justice system of the time holding that our hero who ends up being a rogue and highwayman is unjustly convicted and housed among other thieves where he may learn more of the craft of thievery from the real pros. And this does seem to be a major thread that runs through the novel with multitudes of soliloquies about such injustice and the justification for all men to become Robin Hoods. But there is so much more here. What I've mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another rather important thread that touches early in the story seems almost to address the issue of florid prose or at least perhaps the criticism of such.

For background; in the story, Paul has been orphaned and left to the care of Mrs. Margery Lobkins who is owner of an inn and alehouse and is rough around the edges but seems to have a heart of gold. Mrs.Lobkins who would likely never attempt to have children of her own vows to do her best to educate Paul to the fullest of her ability. To this end she enlists the help of many of her clientele who often do display higher levels of learning in some areas. The trouble is that many of these men are of ill repute and such relationships created with Paul make this reader wonder about the previous assessment that this is primarily a novel about how the system makes the young man go wrong. Enter into this group Mr. Peter MacGrawler; whose station in life seems often to be in question. He is a frequenter of the Lobkins alehouse and an editor of a magazine that promotes prints and critiques literary works. He becomes Paul's tutor and eventually his employer for a brief time after he teaches Paul the art of the critique.

This brings us to what seems to be a most scathing view of what a critique is. Paul is taught in a nutshell how to critique works of which MacGrawler seems to predestine rather arbitrarily to specific fates.

"Listen, then," rejoined MacGrawler; and as he spoke, the candle cast an awful glimmering on his countenance. "To slash is, speaking grammatically, to employ the accusative, or accusing case; you must cut up your book right and left, top and bottom, root and branch. To plaster a book is to employ the dative, or giving case; and you must bestow on the work all the superlatives in the language,—you must lay on your praise thick and thin, and not leave a crevice untrowelled. But to tickle, sir, is a comprehensive word, and it comprises all the infinite varieties that fill the interval between slashing and plastering. This is the nicety of the art, and you can only acquire it by practice; a few examples will suffice to give you an idea of its delicacy.

Bulwer-Lytton, Baron Edward (2012-05-16). Paul Clifford - Complete (p. 42). . Kindle Edition.

And as if that isn't enough MacGrawler explains it is not always necessary to read the entire piece; though they may be required to read some of a piece they tickle he offers this further explanation.

MacGrawler continued:— "There is another grand difficulty attendant on this class of criticism.—it is generally requisite to read a few pages of the work; because we seldom tickle without extracting, and it requires some judgment to make the context agree with the extract. But it is not often necessary to extract when you slash or when you plaster; when you slash, it is better in general to conclude with: 'After what we have said, it is unnecessary to add that we cannot offend the taste of our readers by any quotation from this execrable trash.' And when you plaster, you may wind up with: 'We regret that our limits will not allow us to give any extracts from this wonderful and unrivalled work. We must refer our readers to the book itself.'

Bulwer-Lytton, Baron Edward (2012-05-16). Paul Clifford - Complete (p. 43). . Kindle Edition.

Paul does well as a critic, but finds it does not pay well and when he finds that MacGrawler has been pocketing money that belongs to him he quits and this is how he moves into the world of Highwaymen.

It is through the acquaintance of his past that he's caught for someone else crime and sentenced to prison. And somewhere from prison; to escape; to joining the gang, he's introduced to the moral conundrum that allows the thieves to lie, cheat, and steal with a sense of impunity. And Paul becomes a leader among the highwaymen.

This novel is far from over because there is a romance between a roguish rake and gentle lady. There's a mystery about Paul's origins. And there is the moral comparison of those in charge of the governing of men to those who would rob them on the road.

This novel should be a must read, especially by those whose only introduction is through the first line in the novel. Sure it might act as an example of what not to do, but it contains elements that show up even in today's fiction; both romance and fantasy. Along with all the florid passages are a number of threads that feed an interesting plot. Lovers of romance should find this interesting and lovers of such fiction as The Three Musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo will certainly be entertained.

Lastly lovers of the classics in all their purple nature will enjoy this novel and perhaps revel in the humor of the delivery. (I may be seeing some humor that wasn't intended.)

Novels like this make me wonder if today we haven't taken the bite out of good fiction. We've weakened and decayed the author's teeth through a lack of Florid-ation.

J.L. Dobias

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review::Conundrum by C.S. Lakin

ConundrumConundrum by C.S. Lakin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Conundrum by C.S. Lakin

I can't make a claim to reading a lot of Psychological Thrillers; though I am a fan of Suspense Thrillers my latest foray into the genre was Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors by Benjamin X. Wretlind and that one took me way out of my comfort zone. Thankfully this one didn't drag me too far down any tough roads. There were some mighty strange places though.

It seems a good Psychological Thriller is done in first person. That way you get a real look at the psyche of the main character or POV character. I really enjoyed the book and read it straight through and I'm giving it high points, but I'm going to be honest about some of things that bothered me.

The story takes place in 1986 and though there is some relevance to some science technology of that time; other than the that; and the lack of computer Internet; and cell phone; I think this could have taken place anytime. Still the lack of cell phones figures strongly. A lot of the suspense in the story is revolving around connections with people who might have answers to questions. People don't want to leave messages they want face to face and things like that; and having to reach some home base to talk on the phone helps extend things out. At some point it gets tiring that no one wants to give information over the phone though everyone has information. Because of no Internet the hero has to use the library and micro-fiche a lot. Something that is still prevalent today especially for people doing genealogy.

Another device in the story is the cryptic letter. People leave ambiguous letters behind in their life and though it has good information it's difficult to pinpoint the truth and relevance of some of the information. Relationships and inability to communicate figure heavily in the story almost to a point of annoyance.

There are a lot of pop references and some events are mentioned all to help pinpoint that this is really 1986 and they add a small flavoring to the whole plot. Along with memories and speculation that run through the main character's head we have lyrics to songs.

And just like in Vertigo we have the Psychological weakness of a character who freezes and panics under certain conditions. This case its enclose elevators. All of this come through really well for the first half of the story. But we reach a point where the main device of the Psychological Thriller begins to feel as though it's being overused. That's the place where the main character takes every story and clue she gets and analyzes it :and because it all relates to her father's death after mysteriously contracting leukemia, she seems to go over and over the same road with occasional new twists and turns, until I reached a place where my mind shut down when I hit the passages and I would have to go back and re-read a whole section as I realized I'd gone gently half the way to sleep. That might be just me and you have to read this to get a sense of what I'm saying. To be fair though it is this part of her mind that helps envelop the psychological part of this thriller where every clue sends her through the whole series of speculations and often dredges up memories of things that happened throughout her life that she's chose to forget,[and the eventual reason for the lapses in memories in some cases are found in these memories] so it's a necessary growing process that contains a level of tedium.

Despite that bit of sleepy tone this is a well put together story and for the most part has a good pace to it. The writing is excellent in regards to mechanics and grammar though in the e-book there's a weird format problem that split words funny by separating the b eginning letter and the en d letter of a word by one extra space.

Conundrum in this case is referring to story puzzles that include this very story. The main character and her brother love solving the stories; and it's her brothers descent into manic depressive fits that might be similar to their father's behavior before his death that lead her to investigate the conundrums in her fathers death. And about three quarters of the way through the story; for those readers who haven't figured it all out; one of the minor characters offers the conundrum of what he saw but did not hear that contains the answer. She goes into her usual round of speculation and remembrance and from there on, for the reader who has it figured out, it's a matter of wondering when our character is going to get though her drama to figure it out.

This is an excellent read and for those who enjoy Psychological Thrillers and Suspense; this should offer something to keep the mind active while trying to unravel the conundrum. And perhaps the largest conundrum is deciding what parts of the whole are the truth.

J.L. Dobias

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review::The Kingdom of Malinas by. E.J.Tett

The Kingdom of Malinas by. E.J.Tett

The Kingdom of Malinas is a remarkable book.
E.J.Tett's first effort at writing is by far one of the best first efforts I have read in quite some time.
She puts together all the elements of story with her own style and class that have not been matched by her peers.
She has tremendous characterizations, conflict, plot and theme nailed down.

This is a well thought out effort for a first book. And it says a lot that although I venture into the fantasy genre now and then my favorite is Science Fiction. This does give me an advantage and disadvantage in that I have little to compare it to.

The only reason I picked up this novel was because I'd been snooping around the SSFchronicle writers forum and noticed that several people there have published various works in various fashion from traditional to self and I have to say that I've up to this point been disappointed with the ones I have tried out.

I came in not expecting much after three other disappointments , one of those is a traditional published author. I'm happy to say that this one surprised me.

It starts out slow and I suppose that it could be argued that its a bit rough around the edges because it's a first effort and its self published. And I suppose that if I were coming from the place of being in a forum of writers I might tend to try to be hyper critical.

Fortunately I come from being a reader of fiction with a 50 plus year background and I have to say that I found the author's style of writing to be be fresh, entertaining, and quite tightly woven. She can only improve from there.

The story begins slowly with our main protagonist Sorrel who is a very strong female character- there are many of those in this story. Her father was a warrior and her brother is one and she wants to follow in their footsteps. Despite the families efforts she will if it kills her and as the tale unfolds it seems that fate is on her side. There is enough in the development of characters to keep me in the story. Her plot seems quite original though I admit that I lack enough exposure to this type of fantasy to truly judge.

And then:

It's at chapter 12 she grabs me- one quarter the way through the book. I found the hook that kept me reading this in one sitting. She feeds the line out carefully and then hooks you into the story so deep you can't get out until you are finished.

What's really great about this novel is that it's full of characters that can hook any reader. There are almost too may to chose from and yet she pulls it off and this is a first novel; as long as she keeps her present voice she can't go wrong.

J.L. Dobias

This was good the first time through now with all the edits it's great, so I'd still like to see more reviews.
Preferably from people who have read it. Trust me you'll like it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review::Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell, #1)Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindling the Moon:An Arcadia Bell Novel by Jenn Bennett

This was an interesting read and it did keep my interest all the way through. I will have to qualify that it is unfortunate that at this point in my reading it is rife with tropes; some of which are beginning to make me feel like they are becoming cliches.

Arcadia Bell, not her real name but that's okay, owns a bar that caters to demons. Though she is not a demon she has an aura that is like a demon. She does magic, which most demons eschew because it might be bad for them to do too much magic. So Arcadia is a magician. She's trying to lead a simple life but its a dual life and her real life parents who are supposed to be dead are wanted accused killers. Her real name is Selene and she is a Moonchild which is supposed to be a good thing; giving her great power. She hasn't seen that happen yet.

Arcadia(Selene)is being hidden and protected by her lodge but when her supposedly dead parents show up on the radar the Luxe, a lodge wants either her parents or her so they can extract vengeance upon them for the murders, all bets are off. This send Arcadia off into an adventure to find the proof that will clear her parents. Throughout all of this though she begins as a rather strong female character in the story she doesn't develop much beyond that, although her power does grow.

The main plot eventually becomes too predictable and it's such an overused trope; as a reader I kept hoping that Jenn Bennett had some massive twist coming up that would blind side me; but no that didn't happen. Either way for all of the importance those trope-ed events; I thought it should have greatly impacted the main character in a much more visible way.You will have to read the story to understand.

It is still a good solid Fantasy story with demons and magicians and bits of magic. Great for the Fantasy and Paranormal Romance lovers. A bit on the mature side for Young Adults.

J.L. Dobias

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review::Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

Wicked as They Come (Blud, #1)Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

This novel is listed as a steam-punk-paranormal romance. And though I did get paranormal romance out of it and there was mention of dirigibles and even Victorian like dress and some clockwork mechanics I would hardly want to call it steam-punk. But I might be a little unfair here because I'm not sure how well defined the genre is. What I do take away from this novel is that it's a bit like crossing Dracula with Somewhere in time and throwing in a bit of Alice in wonderland with Dorthy of Oz and I suppose that that's how we come up with blood sucking bunny rabbits.

Letitia 'Tish' Paisley Everett is an interesting character. She wants to be her own woman and escapes the smothering relationships she's had with men. And she does come off as a strong independent character. She just seems to be a magnet for controlling men. As a home care nurse Tish has been able to stay close to her grandmother helping to care for her while she cares for her regular patients. As the story begins with Tish at one of her recently deceased patients house[They are all old and infirm and on their death beds or they wouldn't need her] whose family is selling off her belongings and Tish has stopped to browse to perhaps pick up something to remember her patient. She runs across an old locket inside a book. She manages to have a medical emergency that calls her away and she ends up not paying for the locket. And so begins the strange journey.

When Tish finally opens the locket she sees the small portrait of man and her hand is burned by a red fluid which may end up being magically enhance blood from Criminy Stain. This takes Tish through the proverbial rabbit hole into an new world and another universe. Having arrived in the new world naked proves to compound Tish's problems. Criminy is a bludman which is this worlds equivalent to a vampire without some of the usual quirks of vampire. And the world itself is full of other blood sucking creatures which account for the Victorian like dress as a means of keeping her fully covered from the gnashing needle sharp teeth. Criminy is there to greet her and he seems to think he owns her, which is the last thing that Tish wants to hear. But Criminy is patient and really seems willing to give her all the space she needs while he waits for her to come around.

As Tish acclimates she discovers she is a glancer--she sees peoples past and future--and fortunately Criminy runs a circus of a sort and she fits right in with a paying job. Tish also discovers that it's possible that people who are in coma's on her world might be here just the same as she is. She also discovers that when she sleeps on this world she wakes in her own and vice versa, which means there will be no rest for her. With all the wild animals in this world having turned to blud-creatures the world is full of mechanical animals.[The only safe animals.] And the real villains in the book are the normal people who are trying to destroy all Blud-creatures including the Blud-people.

Though Tish is fascinated with Criminy and the rest of his circus, she primarily wants to get back to where she can take care of her grandmother which means she needs to either find a way to stop coming to the new world or find some way to coexist in both world without driving her self mad. But there is more evil afoot in the land of Bludmen and Pinkies and when that interferes with Tish's plans she and Criminy embark on a quest.

And once again Delilah S. Dawson has found a way to thoroughly entertain her readers.

I would recommend this to all Fantasy Fans and this should fit nicely into anyone's collection of Steam-punk as we know it these days. Any Young Adult would have to be the mature type.It's a world of Vampires and Magic out of step with ours about a hundred years.

J.L. Dobias

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review::Six Strings by Jen Sanya Williamson

Six StringsSix Strings by Jen Sanya Williamson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Six Strings by Jen Sanya Williamson

I've read plenty of books and recently I seem to be seeing a lot of time travel novels. So when someone in Goodreads suggested that this book was well written with believable characters and some jaw dropping twists; I had to give it a try.I first read the sample and of course ended up buying the e-book and finished reading it in one sitting. This novel was so awesome it kept me in the story right to the end.

Riley Witt is a time traveler but she doesn't know it yet. Her Grandmother,Mary, also is and it's her duty to pass this information to Riley to prepare her for the whole journey. The problem is that Mary has Alzheimer's and her memory loss, mood swings, and generally poor behavior are masking the truth. After experiencing severe episodes Mary has been moved into Riley's family home but her continued episodes are wearing on everyone and there is talk of institutionalizing her. The first part of the book deals with Riley's relationship with Mary and her attempts to ensure that Mary doesn't get put in a nursing home while Riley begins to suffer in her studies at school and her patience begins to run thin. Riley has her long time friend Nathan who has been somewhat helpful and in some ways without Nate she'd be in worse shape.

Riley loves music and she would like to study music in college. This means the reference to Invisible Man is likely to the Ralph Ellison book not the HG Wells. Riley's mother doesn't support her interest in music and she is constantly reminding Riley that she needs to go to college for practical skills for a good foundation in her future life. But what is really happening is that her mother has some secrets[unrelated to her grandmother's time travel secret] that have biased her against her daughter's pursuit of musical talent.

So now there are two secrets and just as a potential spoiler I'll mention that the Time Travel is a genetic thing that skips a generation and has been going on for quite some time. This means that Riley's mother does not have the gene and has a different secret:Riley has the gene. But the time travel aspect all sounds so fantastic that it makes her mothers secret, which is equally incredible in its own way, seem mild in comparison. Time is running out for Riley, even though she doesn't yet have a clue and even though eventually it might seem that time will appear to be at her beck-and-call.

Music, family, and love-at-first-sight are key elements in this story beyond the secrets. The secrets and the pain they cause help define the characters in the story, but the real heart of the story deals with music and how it influences Riley and eventually how that is tied to the time travel and how it takes her to a place that begins to answer some questions she has about the mysteries and brings her to a face to face encounter with an understanding of what love-at-first-sight looks like.

In its own way this novel is the strangest of time travel novels when it comes to history in that it's one of those that doesn't rely a lot on real history from what I could tell. A majority of the historical background seems to only need to be internally consistent within itself and even so there are a couple of paradoxes within it that show up: the first one being that since each traveler has to find the right note to musically open the time portal and future Riley has shown past Mary her's while in the past; then present Mary shows the note to present Riley so that Riley doesn't need to experiment to find the proper note.

So though this is a time travel novel and has a unique time traveling device the time travel part is about as important as the history, and this doesn't seem to be a historical novel. What it is is a well written character study of a young Riley Witt who is slowly discovering herself while at the same time uncovering the truths about her family. Riley Witt suffers from what I see as a common affliction of many youths and that's an inability to communicate with the people who could most easily answer her questions and though she often appears to be making subtle explorations in that direction it's difficult to say if she is breaking the ice or driving a wedge further between herself and the people most important to her. But Riley is still a teen and she still has to learn to assert herself, which is largely what this novel seem to be about.

Time travel may be her only way to get her answers before Mary declines to a place she will no longer be helpful; not to mention that it's not all that clear if time traveling is a choice or a given obligation to her life.

This is a great read for fans of dramatic romance and very light soft science fiction and time travel.

J.L. Dobias

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review::The Golden Daemon by Tony Jones

The Golden DaemonThe Golden Daemon by Tony Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Golden Daemon by Tony Jones

I will first make it clear that I'm not a fan of short stories that are sold as one offs and certainly not a fan of Amazon's 'no apparent base word-length limit' 99 cent [books]. Short stories belong in a magazine, anthology or possibly a book of the authors best containing ten or more tales. That much said this one is not bad as they go. Most I have seen in Amazon tend to end up being parts of a serial which is spread out into chunks of around 50 pages each which may be close to 17000 words. This one is only around 8500 words but it does come to an end and that's one thing it has in it's favor. It's complete.

A difficulty with short stories is that they are not well suited to introducing the reader to characters. So it's more about the story itself and that's where this one has me baffled. This reads almost like a story for grim faery tales or one thousand and one nights. But I was left at the end with a lack of clarity as to what the actual plot point of the story is.

The best that I could come up with is that everything comes with a price especially when pilfering ancient artifacts. And... That price does not necessarily have to be paid by the one seeking, if they bring along enough victims.

The main character, Jad, is actually one of the victims and just doesn't know it. Jad is at best a mercenary; a soldier of fortune. He seems rather lazy; laid-back and content to stay in his room unless he wants a spot of ale and he certainly doesn't want company. It's unclear how he gets involved in the first place because it's very borderline to being out of his character, but this is a short story so it might be that we've been shorted on some valuable insight. Still as we progress it seems less likely that it's lack of character development any more than it's just lack of character.

The reason I say this is because after he steps in to help the woman who's of a race he has been at war with and might even have said he hates; she pays him in gold asking him to meet her at the big city to get another equal amount of gold coin and then proceed from there on a job he will be paid for, and his first thought is that he doesn't need the rest of the coin because that small bit of gold will last him. It's only after his landlord boots him, because of his having helped the woman, that he goes to the big city and even then he is only mildly curious about the job and it's not until he gains the second bag of gold coin that he feels any obligation to help.

Truly not knowing what to expect they set out on their adventure, where they are to meet with a third party for the expedition. There is a gratuitous sex scene; I say this because it does not move the story forward and it doesn't seem to effect their relationship either way and frankly, knowing what we do about the man, it seems inexplicable; but it's there. There are some grammar and punctuation problems which I mention because as stories get shorter and shorter I find such errors a bit harder to pass up mentioning.

I was expecting possibly some sort of moral at the end, but if there is one there it went by me.

This would be a great addition to any group of shorts or anthology or maybe even part of a whole story, but it seems a bit off for such a brief piece and as a standalone it seems overpriced.

J.L. Dobias

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Review::The Mortal Instruments Series (5 books): City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels; City of Lost SoulsThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels; City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Mortal Instruments Series (5 books): City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

I found the Mortal Instruments to be a delightful surprise. I was expecting a sort of mix of Harry Potter with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I wasn't disappointed in that. What bonus I received, though; this has several elements that remind me of the Nine Princes of Amber by Roger Zelazny and even a bit of Philip Jose Farmer's Tier Series. What I mean by that is that we have a sort of parallel world living right over ours with families that seem to thrive on fealty and conflict; all driving the characters into epic battles.

Cassandra Clare doesn't waffle a bit and begins the high intrigue right at the beginning. Jase has been brought up as a Shadowhunter and Clary has lived as a normal in our normal world. Their father is possibly the most despised among the Shadowhunters and has been long presumed dead, but not everything is as it appears and Clary's mother Joselyn, who may be the only person alive who can sort this out for them, is in a self induced coma.

Clary Fray-Morgenstern and her close friend Simon are drawn into a deadly world they didn't know existed. A world that coexist with their world and includes Vampires; Warlocks; Werewolves and Faeries all who are controlled by the Shadowhunters who are the sons and daughters of Nephilim. Clary has Shadowhunter blood but has never been trained and Simon is a mere mortal. All of that is about to change when both their live are endangered when it's discovered that her presumed dead father has returned to make one more attempt to overthrow the governing body of the Shadowhunters.

I started with the five pack but after reading them all, for those who want to limit their reading I think that the first three books make one well rounded trilogy that ends satisfactorily but leaves a few threads undone. The next three round out the whole series and complete most of the incomplete threads and make for an epic story of love and betrayal and hunger for power. All the characters are well developed; each with their own strengths and weaknesses that they bring to the table. Many are truly their own worst enemies, but there are hardly any moments where the main characters get a chance to take an extra breath. I think I ended up doing a marathon read on the first three and resting before delving into the last two of this and then finally the sixth novel which comes separately.

This is a great series I think even for those in the Science Fiction Fantasy category. It might be a bit light for those who love the Pure Science Fiction but it is great in the Fantasy and it definitely is epic in length and depth. Cassandra Clare brings her own knowledge from living abroad into her work and weaves it nicely into the narrative. She has even managed to peak my interest in the Book of Enoch.

Though a reader might stop after the first three, I think it's difficult to resist the temptation to finish the next three. And for those who can't get enough of Cassandra Clare's world she has plenty of other stories within the world to offer.

One word of advice if you are reading these on your kindle you should buy them separately as it seems that Amazon and possibly the publisher have decided to punish the reader for buying them in a pack of 5 @ 37.99.
City of Bones 2.99
City of Ash 4.99
City of Glass 4.99
City of Fallen Angels 4.99
City of Lost Souls 4.99
total 22.95
add The City of Heavenly Fire @ 10.67 and you still don't reach 37.99. Maybe some day they might fix this.

J.L. Dobias

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review::Trool's Rules by George Ian Stuart

Trool's Rules (The Trebian Trilogy)Trool's Rules by George Stuart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trool's Rules by George Ian Stuart

This is one of those books that you can love and hate all at once. It uses a number of tropes and unfortunately the plot hinges upon a seriously flawed trope relating to sexual erotica elements that make this a mature read. I say that it's flawed because it is part of that trope that tries to make something special about sex and in this case augments the intellect of the aliens in the story. Think of My Stepmother is an Alien with the character Celest having to rediscover sex since her society has shunned such activities. In the same way the main character Si comes from an advanced society that shuns the messiness of sex and seems to also shun too much contact with others. The reason I call it flawed is because the whole premise of this novel relies on sex having some sort of generative or regenerative property that heightens the intellect of our Alien main character.

It just seems that this would be something that the majority who rule her world would know and sex would never have fallen into disfavor.

Thankfully the story itself devolves into more of a Dystopic novel bringing about the near destruction of all life on Earth. It's about half way through the novel that things get interesting as we follow the survivors trying to rebuild their lives and as we watch Si get drawn into helping them because of the consequences of her transgression into the world of sex. That's actually a plus to see that the consequences of sex are a driving factor in the plot.

Because there was a great difference between time on Earth and time on Si's home planet I had some issue with resolving how when and how quickly some things were taking place. Since a year on Si's planet was equal to many on Earth it becomes hazy trying to figure out what they mean when they suggest that the colonization fleet will arrive in 45 days. Aside from that; it seems that even though Si's people age more gracefully than Earth Humans they might have a similar gestation period.

This novel could have used a bit more editing, but the overall story was quite enjoyable though I have had a few qualms about the nature of some erotic parts. You will have to read this to figure that out. Though Si is not particularly the easiest character to sympathize with she is surrounded by humans who make her look much better than she really is.

This book and its cover are a good argument for not judging a book by its cover. If you don't read erotica then you might want to pass this one.

If you like different and quirky science fiction that comes off as much tongue and cheek as Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy this might be the entertainment for you.

J.L. Dobias

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review::The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant: Book One of the V Trilogy by Joanna Wiebe

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (V, #1)The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant: Book One of the V Trilogy by Joanna Wiebe

I had this book on my wish list for quite some time and it wasn't until I had a handful of paper-bounds that I wanted that I revisited it and found it at a bargain price for the hard copy. I already knew that this was going to be a bit away from my usual read, but I had read the sample and that had hooked me. Based on some other peoples responses I'd say read the sample first. The book itself is quite good despite the impression that it holds onto a number of tropes. Tropes are not really cliche's although I suppose some tired readers like to put them there.

This book is what you would get if you took and put the movies My Girl, Sixth Sense, and Ghost all together. Add a bit of the chatty nature of one Anne of Green Gables and that about sums it up. I liked all of the above so there is little doubt that this book entertained me. I've also probably given away too much just in putting all these together.

Anne has arrived at new school on a somewhat secluded island. This comes after she lost her mother, who might have committed suicide and though Anne's father is a mortician Anne is having trouble dealing with this death. But Anne has a somewhat stranger side; she admits to having kissed the corpse of a handsome, but dead, teen. And now Anne is not sure if this school, which seems to be exclusive in many ways, might in fact be more of a punishment than any thing else. She has no idea how her father can afford it and the arrangement of her life near the campus is getting stranger for everything she discovers as she goes to orientation.

The island the school is on is divided by a line where she's been told there is a strict rule that the locals don't cross over to the school and the students don't cross over to the locals. Of course that has to be the first rule for Anne to break. This has eventual tragic consequences but it is necessary to drive the plot of the story.

The school, Cania Christy, is really strange. Every student is competing to be Valedictorian of their class (year). Well almost everyone except for Pilot Stone who claims he's not trying for anything outstanding. Then there is Ben who is a mystery, but then his father is part of the faculty. Both boys take a shine to her, Pilot is friendly while Ben's air of mystery frustrates her more than anything else. All of the girls in a specific clic seem to be members of a familiar trope but Joanna Wiebe skillfully turns many of the tropes on end by the time she begins to reveal the true plot to the story.

Anne does not live on campus, another mystery, she lives with a woman named Gigi Malone. This puts Anne close to the edge of the limits or boundary and drives her into breaking the rules. The school also has a thing it calls PT which is a specific talent that the students declare that they are then graded upon how well they use the talent. The choices Anne has are puzzling and very disturbingly odd. She also gets Teddy, the person assigned to her to keep tabs of her and her progress on her PT. Teddy, it would seem, will also be spending time at the Malone house. Teddy is a rather annoying and sometimes lascivious young man.

The first half of the book builds the suspense of strange and eventually sinister things while Anne's prattling keeps the reader off guard enough to be distracted from adding too many things together .

Eventually when the gloves come off there are things we find out about Anne that begin to move the pieces all into place until the reader begins to wonder just where Joanna Wiebe is taking them in this ever darkening vision.

This is written somewhat toward the YA but I think that anyone interested in Fantasy, suspense and a bit of horror will find it entertaining unless they are easily annoyed by the mix of all the different tropes. I really think that it's necessary to read all the way to the end so that the reader can see what Joanna does with a few of those tropes to throw them on their ears.

I really enjoyed it and even though I now have to wait for the next book to come out, it was well worth the read for me.

J.L. Dobias

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