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review 2019-01-20 14:02
The Sound of Silence
The Sound of Silence - Myron Ulhberg

by Myron Uhlberg

 

Non-fiction

 

This is the story of a boy with normal hearing growing up with deaf parents and the issues that caused in a time when disability awareness was significantly less than it is now. It's a very personal story and the situation put a lot of responsibility onto a small child that was often stressful and at times heartbreaking.

 

Acting as an interpreter between his parents and the hearing world from the time he could talk, young Myron was sometimes put in the uncomfortable position between his father's temper flashes and people he didn't want to insult. Worse, when his younger brother developed epilepsy, he was the one who was expected to deal with seizures that his parents couldn't hear happening.

 

It was a lot to expect of a child and prevented him from having a normal childhood. Often the cruelty of ordinary people was such that they referred to the parents as "dummies" because they couldn't communicate in ways the general population were used to. It's an ongoing problem today with companies that only offer customer service by phone, assuming anyone deaf can afford specialist equipment for phone communication and not catering to the hard of hearing at all.

 

It was well written and gave insight into the life of a person born into unusual circumstances. I felt it ended at just the right point too, though I wonder how his parents got on after he grew up and moved away. I think this kind of story is useful for people to get insight into what it's like to grow up in a family where disability creates special circumstances, so those who haven't had this experience can develop empathy for the diversity of people who live among us.

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review 2019-01-16 13:56
Empire of Sand
Empire of Sand - Tasha Suri

by Tasha Suri

 

This is a well told story with magic and mythology, as well as an exotic feel to it. Mehr is half Amrithi, as is her little sister, and they can see and smell Daivas; supernatural creatures invisible to ordinary humans. They are considered superstition and Mehr's step-mother is intolerant of Mehr's attempts to teach her younger sister how to deal with them.

 

An unexpected turn of events effectively forces Mehr into an unwanted marriage to a stranger and her independent nature is put up against the challenge of becoming a tool for political power, using her previously forbidden Amrithi abilities in ways that she recognises as wrong. Though she predictably falls in love with her husband, who is also Amrithi, both are enslaved by magical means and together they must find a way to resist the cruel machinations of the Maha, to whom they are in forced vows.

 

The one thing that bothers me about this story is that Mehr goes from one miserable situation to another. Even when something good happens, circumstances around it will create yet more misery. The poor girl never seems to get a real break!

 

It had a satisfying end though, and I felt I got a complete story which is important to me in the age of series books. The sample of the next book suggests that it will be the sister's story, so yay!

 

I liked the way that Indian mythology was worked into the plot. The characters were distinctive and I liked several of them, if not always completely. I'd say this is an author to watch, though perhaps her characters should be watching their backs!

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review 2019-01-07 12:11
The Search for Rasha
The Search for Rasha - Paul B. Skousen

by Paul B. Skousen

 

Bassam Saga book 3.

 

Rasha, daughter of the great Abdali-ud-din leader, is kidnapped during the night by bandits seeking ransom. Her fiancé, Bassam, is as determined to get her back as her father. A caravan guide, Shamar, works out that the girl his clients have with them is a kidnap victim and makes a plan to rescue her.

 

This is a well written story with desert adventure and poetic prose when Bassam speaks of his love for Rasha and resolve to bring her home, though we don't see what he's actually doing about it for a while. Rasha is intelligent and resourceful. She's a strong personality and a likeable character, as is her rescuer.

 

Some of the missives from other people break up the narrative and slow it down. Personally, I would have preferred to keep the story on Rasha and Shamar or move between them and what was being done to find her.

 

The book stands alone well and I didn't feel the lack of background from not having read the previous books in the series. I rather liked the end, though it was sort of predictable. The notes after the story were also interesting as there was historical precedent for much of the story, which I had thought was just a Fantasy.

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review 2018-12-27 13:03
Once Upon a River
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield

by Diane Setterfield

 

During a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, an injured man with a dead child are brought in from the river. The local healer is brought in and somehow, the dead child comes back to life.

 

This story had a poetic quality to the prose in the beginning redolent of a classic fairytale, yet the plot is totally original. I have to admit I wasn't sure what was going on for most of it. Is the child supernatural? Several people want to claim her, thinking it's a daughter or sister they lost. Perhaps an orphan child they might adopt. Somehow her features seem to appear familiar to all of them and each wants to take responsibility for her.

 

Eventually, towards the end, all is revealed and things begin to make sense, apart from the part that really is supernatural. It's a mystery story that moves at a slow pace, reflecting the effects of a slow moving river on the community that lives within the flood plain of its banks.

 

The only fast action is towards the end. This is one for the patient reader, and for those who like to spend most of the book working out the answer to a puzzling situation.

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review 2018-12-18 13:20
Athena's Champion
Athena's Champion - Cath Mayo,David Hair

by David Hair & Cath Mayo

 

First book in the Olympus Trilogy.

 

This is written in present tense. I can see why in the first chapter. It gives it an ethereal, mystical past feeling and as it follows some known mythology, it could have made a good start to the story if it hadn't carried on in present tense throughout.

 

As that's what it did, it reads rather slow. The story itself is interesting so I persevered, but by 18% it was becoming a real chore.

 

I'm not sure how closely it follows the actual mythology as I'm not that familiar with the Greek stories, but my impression is that it's pretty close. The plot and action are good and I liked the main character. My only problem is that it dragged terribly and could have been a really good read if it had been written properly in past tense. Why is this a thing? No Classics, NONE, are written totally in past tense!

 

The writing itself was very good. The authors are obviously able to write well. I just hope they progress from using present tense. Unfortunately I'll never know because once stung with this, I never go back to the author again.

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