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review 2018-11-24 21:03
Fun story, great setting, and a reluctant hero/villain you’ll get to love. And a fabulous cat.
The Devil's Apprentice - Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a fun book. Written in the third-person form the point of view of Philip, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives with his mother and who lost his father when he was very young, this novel is suitable for younger readers and also for adults. If you have given up on new adult stories because of their heavy reliance on romance and low-grade erotica, you are safe with this book. Yes, there is a love interest, but the book is a great adventure first and foremost. Rather than a reluctant hero, we have here a reluctant villain (well, more or less). A tragic mistake makes Philip end up in a situation that is totally out of his comfort zone, and he has to undergo a training that I’m sure many boys and girls would take to like a duck to water, but not him. He has to learn to be bad, and it is a challenge.

There are some world-building and some wonderful descriptions (of locations, like Lucifer’s castle, a church with a very interesting graveyard, the doors of Hell…), but it is not excessively complex, and it does not slow down the adventures. Philip, like the readers, is totally new to this place, and his descriptions help us share in his adventures more fully. He gets a variety of guides and people explaining how things work there: Grumblebeard, the hospitable devil guarding the doors of Hell, Lucifax (Lucifer’s wonderful cat), Satina (a young female demon and a Tempter) and Lucifer in person (in demon?). Everything is dark and night (people do not wish each other good day, but good night, you don’t write in a diary, but in a nightary…) everywhere, there are many types of demons, each one with his own characteristics and roles to play, and bad humans (and there are a few not-unexpected jokes about politicians, although some of the others who end up in hell might be a bit more surprising) get punished in many different ways, but Hell itself is a place where demons go about their daily lives, have their jobs, go to school, get married, tend to their gardens… It is a place full of dangers but also full of interest, and Philip gets to experience plenty of new things, not all bad.

The book’s view of Heaven, Hell and moral issues is far from orthodox. Personally, I did not find it irreverent, but it is a matter of personal opinion. Even though I did not necessarily agree with all the views exposed, these are issues well-worth thinking and talking about and I am sure those who read the novel will feel the same. I enjoyed the sense of humour, and I liked most of the characters, from the secondary ones (I’ve already said I love Lucifax, but I grew fond of most, from the cook to Death himself), to the main protagonists, like Lucifer, wonderful Satina, and Philip. He is not perfect (well, he is perhaps too perfect to begin with, and then he turns… but I won’t spoil the book for you), and he learns important lessons on the way, and he is not the only one. Although I felt at first that some of the changes that take place in the book stretch the imagination, when I thought more about it, time in Hell moves at a different pace, and for a character who is as inflexible and extreme as Philip, for whom everything is black or white —at least to begin with— the process he goes through makes sense. And by the end of the novel, he has become more human and more humane.

The book is a page-turner, there are heroes and villains (or baddies and really evil characters), a few secrets, betrayals, red-herrings, tricks and deceits, an assassination attempt, and a mystery that will keep readers intrigued. And a great final twist. (Yes and a fantastic ending. I had an inkling about it and about some other aspects of the plot, but the beauty is in how well they are resolved). The novel is well-written, flows well, with a language of a level of complexity that should suit adults as well as younger readers, and it managed to make me care for the characters and want to keep reading their adventures.

A few quotes to give you a taster of the style of the pitch of the book.

“Let that be your first lesson, Philip. Down here, humor is always dark.”

“God and the Devil roll dice at the birth of every human being,” the cat explained. “A one-hundred-sided die determines the degree of evil or goodness in each person. The results fix the nature of each individual.”

I particularly loved this accusation addressed at Philip:

“You look like a devil, but you’re not one. You are nothing but a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”

I am not surprised that this book is a popular read in Denmark. I expect it will do well in its English version too. And I’ll be eagerly waiting for the adaptation to the screen. I recommend it to anybody who enjoys well-written YA books in the fantasy genre, without an excessive emphasis on world building, who don’t mind some creepy and dark elements and appreciate a good dose of dark humour. I have a copy of the second book as well, and I can’t wait to see what Philip and his underworld friends get up to next.

 

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text 2018-11-13 21:59
Tor's Monthly Freebie
The Black Tides of Heaven - JY Yang

Hurry before it's gone: 

 

Download at https://ebookclub.tor.com/ once you submit your email to get notice of each month's free ebook.

 

Publisher page for more info on the book is here

 

Book club reading the TOR freebies on booklikes is here.    

 

 

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review 2018-11-06 16:29
Shoddy SF: "Why Call Them Back from Heaven?" by Clifford D. Simak
Why Call Them Back From Heaven? - Clifford D. Simak


(Original Review, 1980-11-28)


In response to a SF fan query about computers that can interpret law, I just finished "Why Call Them Back from Heaven" by Clifford Simak. Although a minor feature of the story, the law of the land dictates the use of jury trials in which the jury is a machine. A couple of paragraphs is devoted to a discussion of how the use of machines has caused lawyers to stick strictly to the letter of the law and objective facts instead of the "sympathy tricks" and other appeals to emotion that are often used in modern day jury trials.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-11-06 12:49
Great Story and Characters
Exclusive/A Touch of Heaven - Samantha Chase

Exclusive:

Taylor heard the voice of her Senior Editor- Victoria - ask her what she knew about Jonathan Wade and then added they had received an exclusive offer to interview him. The Victoria said he requested Taylor and only Taylor to do the honors. Taylor said she didn’t know much other than he was a bestseller mystery writer. His books have been topping the New York times best sellers list for over five years, they loved him,men, women, and even teenagers. The movie adaption of his first book  was due in the theater early next year and has already gaining Oscar buzz. He has won several literary awards but has never accepted them in person- and he’s a recluse. Victoria asked Taylor how she knew Jonathan Wade since she was new to journalism and worked for a little known magazine. Taylor told Victoria she had no idea who the man was and why he wanted her for the piece. Then Victoria named Jonathan’s terms. She was to meet him in Maine on his farm. His agent will send her directions once Taylor signs the confidentiatity  agreement. The interview is to be done over a two week period. Taylor can take pictures but only her no one else. Taylor said she wasn’t sure about the interview. She knew what went on and what freaks were out there. Victoria said to ease up on the drama. Their legal department was hammering everything out to ensure Taylor’s safety and Mr Wade’s privacy. Victoria added this kind of story this early in Taylor’s career could mean big things for Taylor’s future. Taylor would only have Wade’s assistant Michael green to talk to for the first week. More and More taylor is not happy with  this assignment. It appeared Wade had appeared out of nowhere eight years ago. How could someone as popular as Wade be so hard to find? Taylor prided herself on keeping her life practical and uncomplicated as possible. Then taylor got to Wade’s farm and it was Mike Green that Taylor had known form a while ago. It had been ten years since Mike and Taylor last seen each other. Taylor had met Mike the summer after her HS graduation. He was a friend of her boyfriend Eddie . Mike was older but the three of them went everywhere together. It wasn’t until the end of the summer she realized Mike was a buffer between her and Eddie who had been cheating on her the whole time.What had really hurt Taylor is Mike knew about Eddie's cheating and hadn’t said anything about it. She had thought they were friends but she was wrong. Then one day he just stopped coming around. Taylor went downstairs to have lunch with mike and when she took his hand it was like fireworks went off in her body. Taylor had been with Newslink for three years but her dream job was to work for a newspaper or magazine everyone knows and respects. She wants to be on page one instead of page seventeen. She also  wants to write the great American novel. Mike kissed Taylor and then again the next day. Something in Taylor’s touch ignited a strong desire in Mike. Taylor response to him was more of a turn on then he ever could have imagined.

A Touch Of Heaven:

Regan hated bling and her mother-Caroline- had done their company’s shirts for the female employees with bling on them. Regan was furious. Regan reminded her mother they were partners and needed to discuss things before decisions were made. Her mother had decided to sell the house Regan grew up in, her father had passed away ten years ago and regan was on her own the house was too much for just her mother too handle. Then Caroline calls and said she had just one a house makeover bu Max Bennett who had a show called Bennetts Project on the Home Improvement Network.  Caroline felt have the house done by Max and Sawyer Bennett would draw a lot more attention to it with the tv show being famous. Sawyer said to Max he thought he was going to wait until they picked someone together for the home makeover. But if truth be known Sawyer was ready to be done with the tv show. Sawyer also said from what his father Max told him the daughter Regan is against the house makeover of her childhood home. Sawyer was the host of the tv show and does all the designing and planning of the makeovers. Regan found Sawyer in her parents bedroom mumbling to himself as he took measurements. When Sawyer shook Regan’s hand he felt like he got an electric shock meeting Regan’s eyes he was pleased to see he wasn’t the only one. Sawyer knew he wanted to get to know Regan. It had been a long time since Sawyer had wanted to get to know a woman. Regan was a gift Sawyer wanted to unwrap. It didn’t matter Regan didn’t want to like Sawyer he was once perfect specimen of a man and she could help but appreciate the fact. Sawyer went through the house telling them what he planned with every word he spoke and with every image he showed them for his design. Regan couldn’t help but be impressed. She didn’t want to be but there was no denying the man had a gift and what he planned for the house was nothing short of spectacular. Sawyer thought it was a good thing he didn’t walk away from a challenge when it came to Regan. Sawyer asked Regan after he kissed her several times if she could separate the man doing the makeover on her childhood home and the man who wanted to get to know her and Regan  said she needed some time. Every since Regan had met Sawyer and especially since they had kissed Regan had dreamed of touching Sawyer. But not professionally at her spa and as a deep tissue massage as she was about to do. Regan had never felt such an instant connection to a man, such an urgent need.

I loved both stories such well written romances and so sweet. I loved the pace and both plots. Two different novels but equally enjoyable. I loved Mike and Taylor as well as Sawyer and Regan and how they interacted with each other. I liked how close Regan and Caroline were as well as Max and Sawyer I like how Mike made something of himself and found a reason to bring Taylor to him. Even if it would have been nicer if he had been honest from the beginning. I would have like a little angst. I loved the endings of both books. I loved the characters and the ins and outs of both books and I highly recommend them both.

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review 2018-11-06 00:34
Exclusive / A Touch of Heaven by Samantha Chase
Exclusive/A Touch of Heaven - Samantha Chase

 

 

Life has one theme: "Expect the unexpected". Samantha Chase takes that adage and turns it into heartwarming, heartbreaking and inspiring tales of family, love and courage. Whether finding a second chance with first love, facing loss head on or finding a soulmate, there is realism in every hint of fantasy. Exclusive spells the beginning of a second chance for long lost friends. A Touch of Heaven is a reminder that letting go of the past can lead to new memories for the future. No matter the circumstance, despite the odds, our hearts never forget. Characters like Regan, Mike, Sawyer and Taylor speak to what makes us human. The heart.

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