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review 2017-10-16 21:45
Great idea, less than great execution
A Plague of Giants - Deutschland Random House Audio,Kevin Hearne,Xe Sands,Luke Daniels
Let me start by saying the Kevin Hearne is a talented writer with some absolutely brilliant stories. I loved his Iron Druid Chronicles and was so excited to see this start to a new series.
A Plague of Giants comes in at 600+ pages and is quite the undertaking, especially with so many characters and situations. The premise is an exciting one and quite often, there are some amazing scenes to hold a reader's interest. The problem lies in the execution of the story. It is told by Dervan, a historian and that, in itself, wouldn't be bothersome except that Dervan is retelling the stories that the bard,  Fintan, is telling to the people gathered to listen. So, basically, this is a story of a story, or more accurately, several stories of stories. The way the bard goes about it is imaginative with the optical illusions and colorful language, but each chapter is a different story. By the time I was able to get into each individual tale, it was coming to a close and time for the next, creating a rather disjointed story. 
As this is a series, the story will continue in the next book, but by the time I got to end of this one, I found that I'm not sufficiently invested in any of the characters to see where it goes from here. 
Hearne is a favorite for this reader and I'll be looking forward to seeing what comes after this series. Unfortunately, this one missed the mark and was just okay for me. 
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review 2017-09-06 09:47
Fantastically Medieval
Plague Land - S. D. Sykes

Set in London, 1350, two years after the start of the bubonic plague in that city.

 

Not for the squeamish. The opening scene is pretty gruesome and had me muttering about superstition and stupidity.

 

In a wonderfully medieval tone, a first person account begins, told by a Lord of the manor, far too young. With several of the local authorities dead of plague, responsibility is brought to his door when a dead girl is found in the woods.

 

As a younger son who is only Lord because his older brothers fell victim to the plague, Oswald is unprepared for his role but rises to the challenge with admirable self-discipline and intelligence. Plots and intrigue make it necessary for him to learn the ways of land-grabbing Lords fast, and a superstitious priest complicates his every move.

 

I loved the writing in this. Despite the stress and some gory scenes, it's wonderfully medieval and at times even poetic in well written prose. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction or Fantasy.

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review 2017-08-17 18:03
Plague / C.C. Humphreys
Plague - C.C. Humphreys

London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God's vengeance in his heart. Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men. But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they've been . . . sacrificed.  Now the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.

 

Chris Humphreys is an inspired historical fiction author. I met him last weekend at a literary conference and he is smart, funny, and charming as the devil. He definitely benefits from his acting background, particularly his ease with performing Shakespeare (we got an excerpt from one of the Henry plays during his key-note address). During one of his panel discussions, he mentioned that as an author, one must choose how the dialog will be written—choose your form of “bygone-ese” as he called it. Humphrey’s ease with the English of Shakespeare and his playwright’s ear for what will sound good gives his fiction a feeling of reality, using just enough older vocabulary and never becoming too 21st century.

There is, of course, theatre involved in the novel—a subject that the author is knowledgeable and comfortable with. But the variety of characters, from highwayman to serial killer to royalty, gives the story a breadth that I appreciated. As a reader, you are not limited to merely the theatre of 1665, you experience many parts of London. In fact London itself could be counted as a character.

I will be working my way, gradually, through all of Chris Humphreys works and will definitely look forward to more. Highly recommended.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-08-09 08:42
A Review of the Feminist Fantasy book, A Plague of Angels, by Sheri Tepper in 6 Quotes
A Plague of Angels - Sheri S. Tepper

 

My second Tepper read was succulently good! I wanted to savor the book, so I took my time with it. I am sharing my favorite parts of the book here like I do in most reviews. However, this time, I have chosen 6 quotes that sum up how I felt about the book.

 

Quote # 1

Sometimes, it was the way the author described an emotion, such as the horror that a character felt when the Witch took her mask off.

 

 

Quote # 2

Other times, it was how a character expressed a philosophical thought about gangers simplifying language to such an extreme that they started looking down at poetry and literature. The quote below reminded me of the restrictions being placed on characters in the novel 1984.

 

If you take out the different words that describe completely different things that are also the same, what are you left with? For instance, I think love when I read the word, red. I don’t think that when I come across scarlet because I associate it with scandal. Then there is crimson, which reminds me of blood.  

 

 

Quotes # 3 & 4

Then there were times when a character stated the truth in the simplest manner. The line is easy to miss with so much else that is going on. Yet, if you stop and think about it, there is depth in those words. Two particular examples that made me shudder are mentioned below:

 

 

 

Quote # 5

As were the times when a character who is still young and inexperienced said something profound. I went back and read this quote multiple times because it resonated with me. If you find it touching your heart too, you might want to check out my review of The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

 

Quote # 6

Finally, there were some parts that sparked something in me. While reading them, I thought I could base my next story on these lines. I find that the books that end up on my favorites’ shelf have that in common. I think that each line in those books could be hiding a story in itself.

 

 

I would very much love to read the second book in the series even though it would be lacking one of my favorite characters from this one. Care to join me for a buddy read?

 

Image

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review 2017-07-17 01:03
The Final Plague Vol. 1 by JD Arnold (Author), Tony Guaraldi-Brown (Illustrator)
The Final Plague Vol. 1 - JD Arnold,Tony Guaraldi-Brown
The Final Plague begins in Lehigh Iowa on May 4, 2012.  As someone who hates any kind or rodent, this was not a good comic for me to read.  It begins when a small farming family finds that their home has become infested by rats. Helen is tough as nails and ends up killing the first one after a battle on her front porch. Helen is forced to use a shovel to decapitate it and even then, the damn thing still twitches.
 
The second rat attack happens in New York City on the same date. A homeless man is drunk in an alley when he is attacked by what can only be described as a horde of rats. There are so many rats, they quickly overpower the drunk and consume his alive.
 
The third incident happens on the same date in a lab in New Jersey. Jeremy is working with the rats and he notices that some of them have bloodshot eyes and assumes they are blind. Because he believes the rats to be sick but not contagious, Jeremy does not follow along with proper quarantine protocols, much to the disgust of fellow scientist Carol. Of course it's not Jeremy is hurt but a fellow when the rat sprays blood at her which lands in her mouth. Finally, it's decided that the rats need to go into quarantine and be dissected so that the scientists can figure out exactly what the hell is wrong with them.  
 
The one thing that is certain is that rats aren't acting the way that rats are supposed to. Normally, a rat would shy away from a human being if it encountered them but these rats are bold enough to actively attack humans when they come into contact with them. We later learn that it's not just the rats and that in fact all of the furry rodents are doing damage to humans when they encounter them. The red eyes suggest some sort of infection which is making the rodents more aggressive than usual. Alan, the exterminator posits that all of the pesticides that humanity has been using has emboldened the rats and changed their behaviour.  Of course, Alan finds out the hard way when he succumbs to the rats when he tries to exterminate them at the farm.
 
The Final Plague Vol I  quickly establishes the idea that rodents aren't behaving normally and are attacking and consuming humans. As someone with a deep fear of rodents this comic rises to the level of horror for me.  It does however make historic sense. We know for instance hat the bubonic plague was carried by fleas on rats which is estimated to have killed 50 million people.  Rodents are nothing to joke about because they carry disease, so the idea that the end of humanity might come at the paws of rodents makes perfect sense. It's particularly true in a city like New York city, where the rat population is enormous. Think about what it would mean for humanity if the rats suddenly started working in a swarm to attack humans. And since they can slip into a hole as big as a quarter and quickly reproduce, this would be a true nightmare because not only have to deal with the diseases which rats carry, we'd be attacked as prey.


What is less believable than a plague caused by rats that quickly moves onto other animals is just how quickly society falls apart. From beginning to end, it takes 24 hours before cities are burning, the main lab must be abandoned and a significant portion of society is either dead or infected. I appreciate seeing the beginning of a dystopian society; however, having society fall apart so quickly is just ridiculous, even if we are all surrounded by animals to some degree. 
 
We really haven't been introduced to a lot of characters so far. The most prominent female characters are Helen, who is a wife, mother who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and Carol who is a scientist.  What both Carol and Helen have in common is that they read like harpies.  It's Carol and Helen who demand that the men in their family and work space do something about the rats. It is suggested to each woman in turn that they are overreacting. Jeremy in particular is dismissive of Carol concerns, claiming that his name is on the research grant as well. Common sense should have suggested to Jeremy that rats with red eyes are a no go but instead what we have is a man bucking against being told what to do. It's particularly grating since Jeremy is the reason the plague exists in the first place. Jeremy's name may be on the research but it's Carol who is the head researcher and such it's Carol who takes responsibility for Jeremy's actions and creations.  So not only was Jeremy a fool who did't take proper precautions and caused the plague in the first damn place, it's Carol who is going to be held accountable.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/the-final-plague-vol-1-by-jd-arnold.html
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