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review 2017-12-04 13:50
Fire (The Knights of Av'lor #3) by Sam Rook
Fire - Sam Rook
Fire is the outstanding final instalment in The Knights of Av'lor series. Kate has just returned to Av'lor and has been betrayed by Garrent. He has ensnared her daughter with a necklace that controls her, and taken her to Earth. There, he tells the rest of the Knights that Av'lor has fallen, and because he has destroyed the gate, they have no way of knowing the truth or returning home. The rest of the story is how Kate, Lan, and the rest try to find a way back to Earth, to find Rachel, to stop Garrent, and hopefully return peace to their lives.
 
My word, I could gush about this book/series for hours!!! There is so much I could write, but I've stopped myself because I don't want to ruin it for anyone else. This #Fantasy series has a bit of everything for me - love, wit, danger, sorrow, heartbreak - it's all here. The author pulls you into their world and makes you feel. You feel their sorrow, their desperation, their determination. And when it seems like everything is about to fall down around their ears, you feel their pain. It's simply amazing.
 
Books one and two both ended with a cliffhanger that had me gasping. This one doesn't, but I sort of wish it had. Don't get me wrong, I hate series when they end abruptly and you are left hanging. You don't get that with this book, but it also feels completely wrapped up, and I don't know if I'm ready to let go of this world and its characters yet.
 
I would just like to add that I re-read Hope before I read Gate. And this time I re-read both of them before I started Fire. I wasn't bored with the re-reads, I didn't skip parts. I was as enthralled and intrigued as I was the first time I read them. I really can't recommend these books highly enough. They are excellently written, with no editing or grammatical errors that spoilt my reading flow. If you want a fantasy that will take you to worlds beyond your own, then I can definitely recommend this series.
 
* Verified Purchase ~ November 2017 *
 
Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/merissa-reviews/firetheknightsofavlor3bysamrook
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review 2017-12-04 00:22
They Came for Freedom: The Forgotten, Epic Adventure of the Pilgrims
They Came for Freedom: The Forgotten, Epic Adventure of the Pilgrims - C.J. Milbrandt

One of the enduring founding myths of the United States is the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, and like all myths it was based on true events that were warped as time passed.  They Came for Freedom by Jay Milbrandt explores how and why the Pilgrims came to the shores of Cape Cod as well on how they survived when other settlements failed.

 

The arrest and trial of one Henry Barrow, who defied the Anglican Church’s version of Christianity and maybe the authority of Queen Elizabeth by his dissent, the story of the Separatists who would eventually become the Pilgrims begins.  Milbrandt followed the Pilgrims narrative through London, a small village in Nottinghamshire, to the Netherlands, and then across the Atlantic to Cape Cod.  But alternating with that of the Pilgrims was the biography of Squanto, whose own life and adventures before the landing of the Mayflower led to him being a pivotal individual for the success of New Plymouth.  Once the Pilgrims had landed, Milbrandt merged the two narratives together in a very readable detailed history that went up until the fall of 1623.  Although Milbrandt continued his history until 1646, the last 20 years was just a glimpse of tidbits of historical importance.

 

At around 225 pages of text, Milbrandt’s efforts are particularly good considering that his primary sources were few and even those were slanted to give the colony of Plymouth a good impression.  Although several historical inaccuracies did appear, they were mostly naming conventions and not detrimental to the overall book.

 

While short, They Came for Freedom is a good general history that gives the reader a sense of the real events that later became mythologized in American culture and folklore.  Overall it’s a nice, readable book about a topic most American know little able.

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review 2017-11-09 01:18
Don't judge this book by its cover
Hell from the Heavens: The Epic Story of the USS Laffey and World War II's Greatest Kamikaze Attack - John F. Wukovits

I was not expecting much from this book and did not realize it was published by Christian Audio.  I listened to the audio book and it is narrated by the author.

 

I was expecting a completely different story and essentially a story about a troubled kid who grew up in a poor family...  Also, I generally do not like it when authors narrate their own audio books and in this case I was impressed.

 

LeCrae is articulate, enunciates well, is thoughtful, respectful, and smart.  He has learned from his mistakes and he is humble.  He overcame a lot of tough odds and walked away, perhaps unknowingly, from a theater scholarship to pursue other things.  Here is a man who by all rights should be dead or in prison and was given many, many, many second chances and God is definitely looking out for him and he has not squandered this, rather, he has turned it into many positives and is helping his fellow human.  

 

I was not intending to download this book at the time I did even though it was on my library wish list and I believe that was God's hand acting to cause me to download this book by mistake which turned out to be a blessing.

 

I highly recommend this book.  

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review 2017-11-08 03:06
Surpasses it's predecessor and sets up a killer (and hilarious) conclusion
Communication Failure (Epic Failure Trilogy) - Joe Zieja

So, Captain Rogers has escaped with his life after saving the 331st Meridian Fleet from a takeover from almost all the droids on board, now he's been made acting admiral and is faced with a potentially bigger threat: the Thelicosan fleet -- the very fleet that Rogers' ships are to keep on their side of the border -- has informed him that they are about to invade. Given the size of the fleets facing off, this is an invasion that will not go well for the 331st.

 

So how is this would-be con-man, former engineer, and current CO going to survive this? He hasn't the foggiest idea.

 

Clearly, for those who read Mechanical Failure (and those who haven't have made a mistake that they need to rectify soon), whatever solution he comes up with is going to rely heavily on Deet and the Space Marines (the Viking/Captain Alsinbury and Sergeant Malin in particular) will be heavily involved. Malin has taken it upon herself to help Rogers learn some self-defense (even if that's primarily various ways to duck), the Viking is questioning every decision her new CO is making, and Deet is continuing his exploration into human behavior/consciousness (he's exploring philosophy and spirituality at the moment -- which is pretty distracting). Basically, if Rogers is looking for a lot of support from them, he's going to be disappointed.

 

It turns out that the Thelicosans didn't intend to send that message at all, what they were supposed to communicate was very different, actually. But before Rogers and his counterpart can find a way to de-escalate the situation, shots are fired, milk is spilled, and events start to spiral out of control. Which isn't to say that everyone is doomed and that war is inevitable, it's just going to take some work to keep it from happening. There are forces, groups, entities -- whatever you want to call them -- hawkish individuals who are working behind the scenes to keep these cultures at odds with each other, hopefully spilling over into something catastrophic. Which is something too many of us are familiar with, I fear -- and something that someone with Zieja's military background is likely more familiar with. The Thelicosans and Meridians discover who these people are -- and how they are attempting to manipulate the fleets -- and the big question is how successful they'll be.

 

We focus on three Thelicosans, but spend almost as much time on their flagship (The Limiter) as we do the Meridian flagship (Flagship). Grand Marshall Alandra Keffoule is the commander of the border fleet -- at one time, she was a star in the special forces, and now she's been assigned to the border fleet as a last chance. She fully intends on taking full advantage of this opportunity to make history and restore herself to her position of prominence in the military. Her deputy, Commodore Zergan, has fought alongside her since the special forces days and is now trying to help her rebuild her reputation. Secretary Vilia Quinn is the liaison between the Thelicosan government and the fleet. Quinn's development through the book is a lot of fun to watch -- and is probably a bigger surprise to her than it is to the reader, which just makes it better. Thelicosan culture is saturated in science and math, and is full of rituals that are incredibly binding and incredibly difficult for outsiders to understand. In many ways, the culture is hard to swallow -- how a society develops along those lines seems impossible. But if you just accept that this is the way their society functions, it ends up working and stays consistent (and entertaining).

 

Lieutenant Lieutenant Nolan "Flash" "Chillster" "Snake" "Blade" Fisk, the best pilot the 331st has is a great addition to the cast -- yeah, he's probably the most cartoonish, least grounded, character in Rogers' fleet -- but man, he's a lot of fun (and I think it's pretty clear that Zieja enjoys writing him). think Ace Rimmer (what a guy!), but dumber. Mechanical Failure's most cartoonish character, Tunger, is back -- the would-be spy/should-be zookeeper finds himself in the thick of things and is well-used (as a character) and is well-suited to his activities. Basically, I put up with him in the last book, and enjoyed him here. I'd like to talk more about Deet and the other characters here -- I've barely said anything about Rogers (he develops in some ways no one would've expected) -- but I can't without ruining anything, so let's just say that everyone you enjoyed in the previous installment you'll continue to enjoy for the same reasons.

 

Mechanical Failure didn't feature a lot of world-building outside life on the ship. Zieja takes care of that this time -- we get a look at the political situation between the various governments, and the history behind the four powers. Which isn't to say that we're drowning in details like George R. R. Martin would give us, it's still breezy and fast-paced. Still, there's a handle you can grab on to, some context for the kind of madness that Rogers finds himself in the middle of.

 

One of my personal criteria for judging books that are heavy on the humor in the midst of the SF or mystery or fantasy story is judging what the book would be like without the jokes. The Hitchhiker's Trilogy, for example, would fall apart in seconds (and few rival me for their devotion to that series). Magic 2.0 would hold up pretty well, on the other hand. The Epic Failure series would be another one that would hold up without the jokes. I'm not saying it'd be a masterpiece of SF, but the story would flow, there'd be enough intrigue and action to keep readers turning pages. However, you leave the humor, the jokes and the general whackiness in the books and they're elevated to must-reads.

 

There are too many puns (technically, more than 1 qualifies for that), there's a series of jokes about the space version of The Art of War that you'd think would get old very quickly, but doesn't -- at all; and Rogers has a couple of bridge officers that make the pilot Flash seem subtle. Somehow, Zieja makes all this excess work -- I thought the humor worked wonderfully here, and I think it'll hold up under repeated readings.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait to see where Zieja takes us next.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book ARC from the author, and I can't thank him enough for it, but my opinion is my own and wasn't really influenced by that act (other than giving me something to have an opinion about).

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/11/07/communication-failure-by-joe-zieja
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review 2017-11-06 17:46
Dragonfly Song - Wendy Orr

This was kind of a hard book to review, mostly because it almost falls between genres. It's classed as an upper Middle-Grade historical fantasy, which, that's not wrong . . .

 

I felt like it had more of a classic children's fiction feel to it. It's coming-of-age, and also a sort of epic hero's journey, straddling children's lit and YA in a way that's often done more by adult literary works. It touches on many 'big ideas': deformity, religion/society, acceptance, adoption, trauma, bullying, disability, purpose/identity, fate . . . The format is creative and unique. The story arc stretches from the MC's birth to age 14 and is told in omniscient third person varying with passages in verse.

 

I'm not sure if there was a meaning to the alternating styles; at some points, I thought the dreamlike verse passages were meant to show the MC's perspective in a closer, almost experiential or sensory format as an infant, a toddler, a mute child . . . but then that didn't necessarily carry through, so perhaps it was more to craft an atmosphere for the story.

 

The setting is the ancient Mediterranean, and the story picks up on legends of bull dancing. The world feels distinct, grounded and natural, without heavy-handed world-building. It's a world of gods and priestesses, sacrifice and death and surrender. Humans seem very small within it, and as a children's book, it's challenging rather than comforting. There's death and violence and loss, handled in a very matter-of-fact manner, so I'd recommend it for maybe ages 10+, depending on the child. It's not gratuitously violent or graphic, but it's a raw-edged ancient world where killing a deformed child, having pets eaten by wild animals, beating slaves - including children - and sacrificing people as well as animals to the gods is just part of life. 

 

I was very kindly sent a hardcover edition via the Goodreads Giveaways program, and the book production is lovely. It has a bold, graphic cover with some nice foil accents, a printed board cover (which I prefer for kids books due to the durability), fully illustrated internal section pages, and pleasant, spacious typesetting.

 

Confident, mature young readers will find this an engaging, challenging and meaningful read with an inspiring story arc and some lovely writing. Hesitant readers and very young readers will probably find it a struggle. I'd give it 5/5 as a product, 4/5 as a literary work and 3/5 as kid's entertainment.

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