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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Basket of Book Reviews

I set the goal to review every book I finished. I'm not keeping up very well. Today I've got four print books in the basket. Just FYI, I bought all of these books. And I haven't regretted a penny of it.

  The Lute and the Liar by Rie Sheridan Rose

This book saved me from several hours of plane ride boredom. I picked it up from Rie at FenCon in Dallas a couple weeks ago and started it on the plane between El Paso and Los Angeles. (I hate the way Southwest charges for direct flights between Salt Lake and Dallas. It's a lot cheaper to fly all over the place but it takes forever to get home, but that's a completely different blog post.) I had the book tucked into my carryon and pulled it out while sitting on the ground waiting for the plane to take off again. One big advantage of a print book - you can read it during take off and landing.

The Lute and the Liar is the story of Mordigan Bryre, an apprentice bard who can't stop lying. Two weeks before he is to receive his journeyman's status, he is dismissed in disgrace and meets a mysterious witch who strikes a bargain with him. If he seeks out the wizard Talthos he can gain a magical lute that will make him legendary. But if he tells a lie, he will lose his golden voice. He sets out on his quest without realizing Princess Allysian is following him, determined to declare her love and bring him home. Ultimately, Mordigan faces the choice of saving her honor and reputation or his voice and his life.

I really enjoyed this tale. It reminded me of the classic fairy tales I used to devour as a child. Rie has a deft touch with characters and settings. She creates a magical world and fantastic people and still pulls in the emotional connections. Mordigan is a lovable yet flawed character. Allysian spends most of the book sitting in prison. I would have loved to see more action from her. I also wanted the book to be longer and much more involved. I loved the setting and the characters and wanted to play with them more. The ending came too soon. Overall, this is a delightful book.

4.5 stars, G rating (although I'd recommend it for ages 10+)

Adventures by Mike Resnick

The right reverend Lucifer Jones travels across Africa pulling cons and swindles on everyone in search of a fortune. The problem is that the people he's conning are even bigger scoundrels. Reminiscent of all the campy, overblown adventure stories of the pulp magazines, this book is a rollicking good read.

I've always enjoyed pulp fiction, stories of exotic locations and great adventures. Mike Resnick serves up his version with a huge dollop of spoof. Tarzan, except by a different name, makes his appearance on more than the cover. Except he's a British lord who has inherited a big swath of jungle. He spends his time reorganizing gorilla society and government and protecting the wild. This is just one example of the kind of silliness this book excels in.

4 stars, PG for mild suggestiveness

Red Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham

R.D. Henham is a cover name for a lot of different writers. This book is written by Rebecca Shelley, a very sweet woman I've had the pleasure of knowing for several years now.

Red Dragon Codex follows the adventures of Mudd, his sister Hiera, and Drakecutter as they track down Redclaw the Destroyer, each for their own reasons. Mudd must rescue the village seeress who has been kidnapped by the dragon and her dragonman, Kirak. Drakecutter seeks revenge for his dwarf village, ravaged by the dragon in an unprovoked attack. Hiera follows to keep Mudd safe from his own vision of heroism. Each of them learns to trust and help each other, each learns that together they are stronger than alone. Kirak's story kept me intrigued the most, but I won't spoil it by doing more than hinting he's not quite what he seems.

Red Dragon Codex is an entertaining story aimed at 8-12 year-old children, but good enough to use as a family read-aloud book. I've got the Brass Dragon Codex on my shelf, also written by Rebecca Shelley, that I'm looking forward to sharing with my children along with this one.

5 stars, G rating, but with some mild violence

Full Throttle Space Tales #1: Space Pirates

It's collections like these that are changing me into a fan of anthologies. Space Pirates is loaded with great stories of space pirates. From the sublimely silly Space Pirate Cookies by C. J. Henderson (my favorite in this collection) to the dark and disturbing Never Lie to Yourself by Uncle River, this collection has something for every fan of science fiction and space opera stories.

I'm very happy this is book #1 in a series. I can't wait to get my hands on the other books in this collection. If the stories are as good as they ones in this book, they promise to provide hours of great entertainment.

5 stars, PG for mildly disturbing situations