Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Wind from Miilark (Norothian Cycle #3) - M. Edward McNally

I think it's time for us to return to the Norothian cycle.  If I'm lucky, I'll get all five of these books reviewed by the time McNally publishes the sixth and final book.
And I got lucky again -- I reviewed this one on Goodreads. Go me!  Here's what I said about it:
McNally has once again provided readers with a crackling good time.

In the third installment of his Norothian Cycle, John Deskata goes home to Miilark to find his ancestral home being dismantled by Miilark's new ruling house. With help from allies -- including Rhianne, his foster sister and the love of his life -- he procures a pirate ship and embarks on a war against his new foes.

Despite some old friends turning up along the way, things don't go exactly according to plan.

And Rhianne must get to know this new, battle-hardened John, and decide whether he is still the man she once loved.
I would only add that if you like pirate stories, you'll like this book.  Also: dragons.  In case you like that sort of thing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dead Man's Cove (An Al Pennyback Mystery) - Charles Ray

Al Pennyback is an interesting character.  He's a former Army guy -- Special Forces, not that he divulges that bit of information willingly -- who loves to solve puzzles, particularly puzzles that involve people.  He has a smokin' hot girlfriend named Sandra, and a good friend named Quincy whose Washington, D.C., law firm keeps him on a $10,000-per-month retainer to solve puzzles for them.  Al, you see, is a private detective.

In this outing, Al and Sandra have been invited to Quincy's retreat for the weekend.  It's a small enclave of fancy homes on an island in the Chesapeake Bay.  The tiny community of four houses is called Dead Man's Cove, in honor of a local legend about a pirate who died there, and whose fortune is reputedly still on the island somewhere.  The homes are all owned by rich people, most of whom have known each other since college.  And when one of them turns up dead, Al gets a chance to do what he loves best -- solve a puzzle.

This is the first Al Pennyback novel I've read, although it's not the first in the series. But I don't think my reading experience suffered because of that.  Ray does a great job in the first chapter of introducing Al and filling in some of his backstory.  The mystery had me going, and the murderer was a bit of a surprise to me.  Although don't judge the plot by my experience; I'm not one of those readers who enjoys challenging herself to figure out whodunit.  Instead, I read for plot and characterization, and Ray has done a fine job with both of those here.

Dead Man's Cove is an entertaining way to while away a few hours. Let me know if you figure out whodunit before the big reveal.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Edge of Shadows (Shadows #1) - Cege Smith

Oh, goody!  Another book that I actually reviewed right after I read it!

Here's what I posted at Goodreads after I finished reading Edge of Shadows:
I love the premise of this book. Ellie is a Minneapolis coffee shop owner who is finding her way after divorcing Jake, a man she never loved. She's a little whiny and self-centered, and her friends do their best to pull her out of her funk. One of them, a socialite named Linda, even goes so far as to fix her up with David, a handsome hunk of a doctor who's new in town. Of course, almost nothing here is really as it seems....

The prose is a little clunky. And I wanted to know more about the shadowy entity Jake sees over Ellie's shoulder as she's leaving him. But in all, I enjoyed it.
I've since read (and will probably review eventually) the second book in the series, Shadows Deep, so I'm going to avoid saying too much more, in case I'm mixing up the books in my head.   Suffice it to say that if you're in the mood for a spooky story, Edge of Shadows might fit the bill for you.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Queen of Wands - John Ringo

As a Neopagan, I have to tell you that Queen of Wands annoyed the crap out of me.

This book was in my freebie bag from last year's World Fantasy Convention. Ringo is known as a decent writer, and the title is the name of a Tarot card, which I thought might mean the story was Pagan-friendly.  Alas, it's not.

In the America that Ringo has created for this series (this is book two), there's a more-or-less clandestine organization for people with paranormal abilities who are called upon to fight, y'know, The Big Evil -- demons and the like.  On the side of The Big Good is Barbara Everette, Christian soccer mom and martial arts whirlwind. When she fights, she channels the power of the White God and turns into this unstoppable force.

Yes, Jehovah's called the White God -- even by the Pagans, who admit that He's much more powerful than the gods they follow.  Forget, for a moment, that I've never met a Pagan who believed that; it's Ringo's universe, and he can make it as unrealistic as he wants to.

Anyway. The book is set up in three parts.  In part one, Barbara is called to Chattanooga, TN, to work with the FBI in a battle against some demons. She also learns that her assistant Janea (an exotic dancer who's also a Norse priestess who follows Freya, because only a stripper would follow a sexy goddess like Freya, right?) has slipped into a coma due to interacting with some nasties; in part two, a bunch of Janea's friends must travel to a Dragoncon on some astral plane to rescue her. And then in part three, Barbara and Janea work together against some really nasty critters that threaten to destroy America -- prompting the President of the United States to tell every American that we all have to believe in God, or The Big Evil will win and we'll all die.  So yeah, atheists are in deep trouble. But not for long! All it takes to get them to convert is one look at Barbara in action!


Ringo writes a lot of military fantasy and it shows; the action scenes are well done. But I just can't buy his theology. And the whole Dragoncon sequence seemed to belong in another book entirely. I guess there's a "Warehouse 13" reference in the book, too, which I didn't get because I've never seen "Warehouse 13."

I guess I'm just not the audience for this book.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Flidderbugs - Jonathan Gould

Flidderbugs is a kids' book that's more than that.

Kriffle is a bug who lives with his family and their fellow Triplifers on one side of the Krephiloff Tree.  On the other side live the Quadrigons. Triplifers and Quadrigons are involved in a longstanding quarrel over how many points a Krephiloff Tree leaf has, and the quarrel has defined the political debate in the bugs' Fleedenhall.

Kriffle's father is unable to attend the latest debate in the Fleedenhall, so he sends Kriffle in his stead.  In the process, Kriffle learns many things -- about politics, about the number of points on a leaf, and about the dangers of holding an entrenched position about anything.

I liked Gould's Doodling, as you know, and so I figured I'd like Flidderbugs, as well.  And I did think this book was cute, but I found the political satire perhaps a touch heavy-handed.  But then, I'm an adult, and so I'm not really the intended age group for this book.  I think a child wouldn't have a problem with it, and would probably very much enjoy Flidderbugs.