Please note: I originally read and reviewed this book in July 2011, then re-read in August, 2013. I am updating the formatting and adding the disclosuPlease note: I originally read and reviewed this book in July 2011, then re-read in August, 2013. I am updating the formatting and adding the disclosure that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Book Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of epic fantasy Trigger Warnings: Violence, torture, sexual assault Animal Abuse: horse is badly hurt
My Synopsis: The world in which Albia exists is a strange and wonderous one – Albia is the fourth realm of five, which, while all being on the same world, have no contact other than through the Veils, a metaphysical force that separates the realms. Only Artesans, those who are able to control metaforce – or life force, as it is also known – through the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, are able to pierce the Veils and travel to other realms, although that is not always wise, as some of the other realms are war-like and dangerous.
In Albia, the Artesan gift is in disfavor and decline, because Artesans from the Third Realm, Relkor, and the Fifth Realm, Andaryon, have raided Albia for so long; most Albians believe all Artesans are only out for power and gain. Therefore, when Taran’s father died two years before the start of the story, Taran was stranded at Journeyman level and had no one with whom to train so that he could advance to higher levels of prowess. He decides, in a moment of despair, to try crossing to Andaryon – which has many strong Artesans – to see if he can acquire a teacher there. To say things do not go well is an understatement. Upon his return to Albia, and his recovery, he learns that the Andaryons, who had signed a pact 20 years previously to stop their raiding, have started to raid again; Taran decides that this is his fault, due to what occurred in Andaryon, and he, his apprentice Cal, and Cal’s lover – the healer Rienne – set out for the local garrison to report what he knows to Major Sullyan, who he has heard from a family friend (and village elder), Paulus, he should contact.
When Major Sullyan is sent to Andaryon as an ambassador of Albian’s king, it is decided that Taran will accompany her, along with her captain, Robin, and Bulldog, a retired military man and member of Sullyan’s staff. However, the men are recalled the next day due to an increase in the raiding in Albia, and forced to leave Sullyan alone among the Andaryons. When she disappears, they must go back to try to discover what happened.
My Thoughts: I fear I’ve given too much away, although I’ve tried to be vague and left many things out; however, it is difficult to describe the plot otherwise. Ms. Peace is wonderfully inventive and has created a most unique world. Based upon the glossary, details given about the various realms and other addenda at the end of the book, she’s spent a great deal of time working out all the details to make sure she is able to mesh everything together smoothly. She’s even plotted the geography very carefully – I was much impressed with this, and also with her character development, which was done in stages and worked into the plot to a degree where we learned a great deal about the characters, but the action was hardly slowed down at all. All in all, a most impressive book and I will eagerly look forward to the upcoming completion of the trilogy – King’s Champion scheduled for August 2012 and King’s Artesan scheduled for August 2013. I highly recommend that fans of fantasy adventure books check this one out – it’s a great read and you will not be disappointed....more
Book Info: Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of the genre, fans of the series Trigger Warnings: Violence, terroBook Info: Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of the genre, fans of the series Trigger Warnings: Violence, terrorism
My Thoughts: This is the third book in the Monkeewrench series, following Live Bait (review here where formatting allowed—there is a link in that review to the review of the first book). I first read it shortly after its release in 2006, but did not write a review for it at that time. After acquiring books five and six, subsequent to reading the first four, I decided to re-read the whole series before book seven comes out next year.
I do not know exactly how this happened, but somewhere between the hardcover edition I originally purchased, and this e-book edition, some pretty annoying typos were introduced. I have no idea what “haifa” is, but I’m pretty sure the places where I’ve noticed it should have said “half a.” I also am fairly sure that Harley did not make a habit of calling Grace “Grade”, but I’m much too lazy to track down the hardcover to verify that. There are a number of these sorts of ridiculous typos and mistakes in this e-book version, which is really odd, because I do not recall this being a problem in the original at all. Admittedly after this much time I might have just forgotten, but... I doubt that. Speaking of errors, in the synopsis is says they are racing to save their lives, and the lives of countless others. In fact, “countless” people were not being threatened—there was a very specific number mentioned.
This book has a segment that gives you a perfect look at who Grace is, deep down inside. She, Annie and Sharon are on trip, and this conversation takes place.
Sharon: “I thought all these fancy rides had GPS.”
“Grace wouldn’t hear of it,” Annie said. “Too Big Brother. They always know where you are with a GPS.”
Sharon cocked her head at Grace. “And who is ‘they’?”
Grace shrugged. “Could be anybody.”
This really gives the reader a good look at who Grace is. We had hints of it from the very beginning, of course. She always carries at least two weapons, always wears her English riding boots outside of her own house. Once you understand her background, you understand of course (it’s all explained in Monkeewrench), but she is an intensely paranoid young woman.
Now, I’ve been to Wisconsin, and I thought it was a beautiful state, especially the woods. It’s not heavily populated, but I grew up in Montana, which borders both North and South Dakota, and I think all three states together are about the same population as Wisconsin, so I didn’t really consider Wisconsin to be all that empty. But this conversation between Annie and Sharon really brought home to me how many people, used to more populous areas, might see the Wisconsin woods.
Annie: “This is absolutely the spookiest place I have ever been in my life. I never heard of anyone famous from Wisconsin, and now I know why. Nobody lives here.”
Sharon turned around... “Ed Gein was famous. He lived here.”
“Never heard of him.”
“He used to kill people, grind them up, and eat them.”
“Hmph. Well, apparently he ate them all.”
I’d have loved to have heard what Annie had to say about Montana, or North Dakota, or South Dakota for that matter, if she thinks backwoods Wisconsin is bad. Of course, as my mom used to say, at least in the prairie you can see them coming. Who is “them”? As Grace said: Could be [just about] anybody.
I’ve seen many critical reviews of this book complaining of sexism, which really confuses me. I simply do not see it. While it is true that the men all jump up to go “rescue” Annie, Sharon, and Grace, they all also admit to themselves that these women do not need to be rescued, and that they are able to take care of themselves. They are worried, so they do what men do: take action. There is no sexism at all at work here in my opinion—just people worried over their friends and wanting to help however they can, even as they realize said friends can take care of themselves in most situations.
This book is different from the first two, in that it is not a mystery, per se, but more a suspense thriller—and it is very, very suspenseful. At the moment the suspense broke, I literally had tears in my eyes and a goofy smile on my face, simultaneously. And this was the second time I’d read the book, so it was no surprise to me, but it is so skillfully done, and such a wonderful scene, that I could not help myself. If you like suspenseful thrillers, if you’ve enjoyed the series, then definitely read this great book. Next up: Snow Blind.
Disclosure: I purchased first the hardcover and later the e-book editions of this book for myself. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Computer game company founders Grace MacBride and Annie Belinsky—along with Wisconsin deputy Sharon Mueller—are en route to Green Bay, following reports of a serial killer, when their car breaks down deep in the northern woods. A short walk through the forest leads them to the eerily quiet town of Four Corners, where they find severed phone lines and a complete absence of any life. But the quiet is deceptive. Before they know it, they witness a horrifying double murder—and discover that this is only the beginning of a race to save their own lives… and countless others. ...more
Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of Urban Fantasy
My Thoughts: This is the first of the books in this series inBook Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of Urban Fantasy
My Thoughts: This is the first of the books in this series in which I’ve seen any significant editing errors, such as a car’s “breaks” and Larry Fowler being called “Jerry” at one point. The formatting is a bit screwed up in my copy, too, but nothing too distracting; mostly it is that almost every use of “Red Court” is italicized and put upon its own line. This is an e-book edition (my backup copy), though, and a fairly old one, but take that with a bucket of salt. Or a pillar, depending upon your proclivities.
Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of the genre and series Trigger Warnings: Violence, murder, hate cBook Info: Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: Fans of the genre and series Trigger Warnings: Violence, murder, hate crimes
My Thoughts: This is the second book in the Monkeewrench series, following Monkeewrench (review here where formatting allowed). I first read this second book in the series soon after it came out in 2005, but didn’t review it at the time. Since I have acquired books 5 and 6 (after having read the first four), I decided to re-read the whole series at a go before book 7 comes out next year, and actually do reviews for all of them this time (I believe I have an old review for Snow Blind out there, which I will share when I do the next one).
One thing of the very few things that bothers me in this book (and series) is the authors’ constant focus on the weight of a couple of the characters. Admittedly, Annie and Gloria are also described as sensual and sexy, with men always tripping over themselves to gain their attention, but neither woman can be mentioned without the additional mention of how heavy she is, like this is terribly important to keep rubbing in the readers’ faces. But that’s just a personal issue, I imagine. The only other thing I have to complain about with this book is the occasional head-hopping that will occur out of the blue. Fortunately, it’s generally only a paragraph and then the narration will return to the regular style used through the book.
None of that is enough to make me change my original assessment of this, given many years ago, as a five-star book. Let me tell you why. One of the truly outstanding things about this series is that the storylines, the ideas presented, they all make you think. Consider this line by Lily, wife of Morey, whose daughter was also murdered.
“You men. You always want to know who did this or that terrible thing, so someone can find them and make them pay. Always it’s been like this for men, the eye for the eye, as if it would make any difference.”
I mean, really think about that, about what that implies, about what that means. It’s wonderful. There are things like this in every single book in this series, something really profound that will make you question your motivations, make you question your beliefs. I love that—I love that they don’t allow you to escape by using easy answers; they insist that you question your beliefs, that you really take a good, hard look at your basic assumptions and then ask, “Is that really who I am? Is that really how I feel? And is that really right?” Not to mention that the authors are wonderful about hiding the villain until they are good and ready to reveal whodunit. That makes these among some of the best mysteries I’ve read since Agatha Christie.
So, despite any minor annoyances, these books are right up there with the best of the best, and I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys a great mystery/suspense/thriller. Definitely check them out. Next up: Dead Run.
Disclosure: I purchased first a hardcover and later an e-book version of this book for myself. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are bored–-ever since they solved the Monkeewrench case, the Twin Cities have been in a murder-free dry spell, as people no longer seem interested in killing one another. But with two brutal homicides taking place in one awful night, the crime drought ends-–not with a trickle, but with an eventual torrent. Who would kill Morey Gilbert, a man without an enemy, a man who might as well have been a saint? His tiny, cranky little wife, Lily, is no help, and may even be a suspect; his estranged son, Jack, an infamous ambulance-chasing lawyer, has his own enemies; and his son-in-law, former cop Marty Pullman, is so depressed over his wife's death a year ago that he's ready to kill himself, but not Morey. The number of victims—all elderly—grows, and the city is fearful once again. The detectives' investigation threatens to uncover a series of horrendous secrets, some buried within the heart of the police department itself, blurring the lines between heroes and villains. Grace MacBride's cold-case-solving software may find the missing link—but at a terrible price. ...more
Book Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Young Adult Recommended for: Fans of character-driven YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, alternate worlds, role-plBook Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Young Adult Recommended for: Fans of character-driven YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, alternate worlds, role-playing games, Native American legends and lore Trigger Warnings: fighting, bullying including attempted murder, violence, killing, murder
My Thoughts: This is book 1 in the Behind the Walls of Sleep series. While I normally edit for this author, I was unable to do so for this book due to my recent cancer diagnosis, so instead I am reading it for review.
This is not a book for someone who likes a lot of shoot'em up bang-bang action, as a great deal of the story revolves around Daniel learning who he is, both in the waking world and in Astra, and his abilities and talents begin to manifest in both areas. Overall this is quite different from most of Rhine's other works, but still a great story. If you like strongly character-driven coming-of-age YA fantasy, including elements of sword and sorcery, role-playing and even Native American lore and legends, then snatch up this new book. It actually just became available on Amazon today, 4/13/14.
Meanwhile, book 2, Shaman, should be out by summer, if not sooner. Watch for it.
Disclosure: I was given an early version of this book and asked for my opinion. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: When we close our eyes at night, we all see the same ancient place. Exploring Astra is like living a video game. Tomorrow, I’m going goblin-tipping with some of the other wizards. The first rule of being a dream wizard is “no photos.” You don’t want the bad guys finding you where you have no powers. The waking world sucks.
Since Mom went to prison, the Nevada foster system sent me to Minnesota to meet an Uncle Joe I never knew I had. Snow loses its charm after five days. Only music and the dreams make my life bearable.
The weird thing is that elements of the worlds are bleeding into each other. Someone is trying to kill me, and I’m not sure who: the criminal underworld, the elves, or the crazy wizard causing these freaky storms. ...more
This anthology contains three suspense/thriller stories with similar themes - in fact, the first and last stories feature some of the same characters,This anthology contains three suspense/thriller stories with similar themes - in fact, the first and last stories feature some of the same characters, and honestly I've love to see it made into a book, as they are neat characters. The 2nd story had a great twist to it, which I really enjoyed. Brooks has an uncanny eye for structure and development of a great suspense story, and has very carefully cut away the dross to reveal the gleaming gem inside. Strongly recommended - great stuff!...more