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review 2018-02-21 05:53
Review: Changing Planes, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes - Eric Beddows,Ursula K. Le Guin

Changing Planes is a delightful book.  It delights me.

This anthropological tour through some of the stranger societies in the multiverse begins by explaining its basic premise: Airports are not only portals to other terrestrial cities, but also to other dimensions.  Interplanar travel requires no machine or vehicle, no magical incantations or special knowledge.  The remarkably simple method was developed by one Sita Dulip, who discovered it when her flight out of Chicago was delayed several times and finally canceled.  Trapped, exhausted, uncomfortable, and bored, she realized that:

By a mere kind of twist and a slipping bend, easier to do than to describe, she could go anywhere - be anywhere - because she was already between planes.



(Normally, I would have no truck with any book whose premise was based on such a ridiculous pun - but over the years I have made a few grudging exceptions to this policy.)

The rest of the book is divided into fifteen short stories - or really, ethnographies - about life on the different planes.  Some of them are moral allegories, some are social satires, some portray strange and unsettling alien philosophies.  None of the chapters have much plot to speak of, but they are all fascinating vignettes.  The formula is essentially: "Let me tell you a few things about the people of _____."

Despite this common approach, the stories are fairly diverse in style and theme.  Four of the standouts highlight some of the different tacks Le Guin takes:

Seasons of the Ansarac is an ethnographic description of the migratory people of Ansar.  On a plane where each season lasts for six of our years, the people spend spring and summer raising children in idyllic northern homesteads before heading south to the vibrant cities every fall and winter.  Le Guin's detailed description of Ansarac folkways is fascinating, but the story takes a darker turn when visitors from another plane (one similar to ours) arrive, convince the Ansarac that they are primitive, backward, and hormone-driven, and offer to help them adopt a modern lifestyle.

Great Joy satirizes the American obsession with meaningless holiday kitsch, describing a privately-owned plane where one island is always Christmas, one the 4th of July, one New Year's Eve, and so on.  This plane's sickly-sweet candy coating covers a horrifying system of slavery and exploitation - not that Christmas-loving midwestern Cousin Sulie and her fellow patrons give much of a shit about that.  "I just get right into the spirit just thinking about Christmas Island! Oh, it is just such a happy place!"

Wake Island is a cautionary dystopia about science gone awry.  Based on their theory that sleep is a vestigial trait that keeps most humans from accessing their latent genius, a group of scientists genetically design babies who need no sleep.  This is essentially the same premise as Nancy Kress's Beggars in Spain, but Le Guin's aftermath is much more disturbing.

The Island of the Immortals is in many ways a horror story, cloaked in the guise of classic science fiction.  It reminds me quite a bit of the better works of H.G. Wells, where a lone traveler encounters a society he at first cannot understand - and then later wishes he never tried.  In this story, the narrator has heard of an island on the Yendian plane which is populated by immortals.  Curious to learn the secret of their longevity, she visits - only to find the locals quiet, standoffish, and oddly somber.  There are immortals among them, yes, but they are not what the narrator expects.  This is the story that has remained in my mind most vividly since I first read this book almost a decade ago.  It is, in my opinion, one of Le Guin's most powerful and thoughtful pieces.

~

Ursula K. Le Guin died last month; I reread this book in part as a memorial (and in part because I just love it so much).  Given her recent passing, this excerpt in particular struck me:

When I was twelve or thirteen, I used to plan what I'd wish for if they gave me three wishes. I thought I'd wish, 'I wish that having lived well to the age of eighty-five and having written some very good books, I may die quietly, knowing that all the people I love are happy and in good health.'



She was 88 when she died, and she wrote a great number of incredible books.  I hope that the rest of her wish came true as well.

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review 2018-02-21 05:26
Interesting premise, odd execution.
Grand Canyon - Vita Sackville-West

So this is a book that Vita Sackville-West (member of the Bloomsberry Group, sometimes lover of Virginia Woolf) wrote half way through the second world war. I had thought going in it had a similar premise to Farthing by Jo Walton, but no, in this book the Nazis conquered the UK and Ireland, and the US having won the Pacific War made peace with the Third Reich. The story follows a group of characters in a hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon, about a year after these events. The two main characters are both English expats living in the hotel, and there are US air force officers, a bunch of college kids, and a handful of other European refugees, plus the hotel staff. Some of them will be turn out to be Nazi Fifth Column, some will be up to no good in other ways, and war draws closer by the day.

 

Sounds exciting, right? Yeah, no. It wasn't. This is a short book, and it took my ten days to read it (granted I was busy for much of it, but still!).  The two main point of view characters spend massive amounts of page time hanging out and chatting, mostly about their opinions of the other characters, especially one of the college girls. Who does not and never will have anything whatsoever to do with the plot. At all. They also talk about their experiences during the war and current events, but seriously massive page time on stuff that isn't interesting and won't matter to the story.

 

The style is very dialogue heavy. Everyone gets long monologues either aloud or internal about their feelings about each situation, and absolutely none of it is anything a human being would ever say, though maybe it works for thoughts some of the time. There is also a good deal of racism directed at the black musician characters, including the N-word a couple times, and an ambivalent relationship with the Hopi characters.

 

However, for all that? I still found it absolutely fascinating. There are some SF elements in the uses of technology (there are supersonic heavy bombers in 1942, and undisclosed WMD that was used to defeat England, and underutilised technology that can draw electricity from the air ala Tesla), and then the last third has a strong fantasy element that I won't spoil but which was used to great effect. I also really liked a lot of the responses to trauma that the female PoV character was working through, and a lot of her interactions. A lot of the writing especially the descriptions of place and emotion were gorgeous.

 

I think if you're interested in the evolution of alternate histories, especially of WWII, or of Sackville-West. If you're going to be more interested in everything that's happening off page, you might find it incredibly frustrating.

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review 2018-02-20 21:42
Book Review of Fountain of Secrets (The Relic Seekers Book 2) by Anita Clenney
Fountain of Secrets - Anita Clenney

A relics expert with a nose for mystery is torn between her sexy billionaire boss and her hot bodyguard. Each would die to save her...and win her heart.

Kendall Morgan puts her sixth sense back to work in the second book of the Relic Seekers series, divining the history and location of ancient relics. Her boss, the gorgeous billionaire Nathan Larraby, sends her to Italy to safeguard a priceless treasure belonging to the Protettori, an ancient order of monks who guard four powerful relics that Nathan believes may be the cure for his dark curse. He also sends brooding mercenary Jake Stone to watch Kendall’s back—although her back isn’t all Jake has his eye on.

Nathan joins them, and all three tumble into a labyrinth of defenses created by the monks to protect their treasures, including the Fountain of Youth. They find themselves in England on the trail of the legendary King Arthur, who along with the Reaper, seems mysteriously connected to the Protettori. Sparks fly and bonds are tested as Kendall and Nathan’s pasts are revealed and Jake’s becomes even more mysterious. The trio must stay one step ahead of the mysterious Reaper if they want to survive.

 

Fountain of Secrets twists and turns through the shadows of myth and reality as Kendall races to uncover the Protettori’s secrets and fight her growing attraction to her boss and her bodyguard.

 

Review 4*

 

This is the second book in The Relic Seekers series. I loved it!

 

Kendall Morgan is a wonderful character. However, I sometimes wanted to shake some sense into her. She works for a billionaire as a relic finder. She has a special gift that allows her to track down, as well as know things about, the artifacts she procures for her boss. When her boss, Nathan Larraby, hires her to locate four powerful relics, little does she realise the danger she will face. Not just from Nathan's reclusive nemesis known only by the name of Reaper (as in Grim), who is also after the artifacts, but from her attraction to her co-worker, Jake Stone.

 

This is an urban fantasy romance with a twist. I started reading the story and was instantly hooked. The story is told through the view points of Kendall and Jake for the most part, but as it progressed, other characters, namely Nathan, also has his say.

 

I found myself on a roller coaster of emotion as the story unfolded. I enjoyed getting to know the characters better and we are introduced to quite a few new ones.

 

This story sees the trio thrown into danger as they uncover more secrets from the secretive Protettori, and unravel the secrets hidden in their own pasts. It continues from the end of book one. Jake and Kendall grow closer together and consummate their attraction, and Nathan finds out that the changes he is experiencing is linked to an event in his past. They also uncover a mysterious connection between the Protettori, King Arthur, and the fountain of youth. This sees them travelling from Italy to England in an attempt to find the lost fountain of youth, fabled to give anyone who drinks from it not an immortal life but a longer one. The mystery and suspense kept me reading until I'd finished the book. However, I was a little disappointed that the relationship between the three didn't develop as much as I thought it could have. There is definite chemistry between the three; Jake and Nathan not so much, but they both have feelings for Kendall. I could see the potential for a threesome, but the author seems to have shied away from this aspect. Perhaps they will get together in the third book? I guess I'll just have to read it and see. The book ends in a cliffhanger and I am now looking forward to reading The Lost Chalice as soon as possible.

 

Anita Clenney has written an intriguing paranormal romance full of action and adventure. I love her fast paced writing style and the flow is wonderful. I would definitely consider reading more books by this author in the future, and there is a high probability that I would add her to my favourite authors list too.

 

Due to the above mentioned scenes of a sexual nature (which are not explicit), as well as some violence, I do not recommend this book to young readers. However, I highly recommend this book if you love paranormal/supernatural romances/romantic suspense/urban fantasy/action/adventure or myths and/or legends genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-02-20 20:13
Prince of the Blood - Raymond E. Feist

Thoroughly enjoyed this book.It was the fantasy w/o the mystical dragons,but there was magic.And to my surprise there was a mystery involving a death.  

Although it's really a coming of age story of two brothers it is mainly focused on.

They are the sons of the Prince of Krondor!

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review 2018-02-20 17:53
Horror Underground – When Blood Falls by Joshua Robertson @Robertsonwrites
When Blood Falls - Joshua Robertson,Winter Bayne

 

I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy of When Blood Falls by Joshua Roberts after seeing it on Instafreebie. That creepalicious cover did me in!

 

Cover:  Winter Bayne

 

When Blood Falls

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

 When Blood Falls by Joshua Robertson has such a fabulous cover, and I am a sucker for a great cover, that I couldn’t help but grab a copy and read of his fantasy world in the Deep underground that is filled with monsters, surprises, and a future worth fighting for.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 3 Stars

 

GOODREADS BLURB

 

Defending against the demons of the Deep has long given Tyr Og’s brethren purpose. When Tyr’s mother is robbed from him during childhood, he loses his will to live. Now, filled with rage and regret, Tyr hungers for a worthy death to bring an end to the futility of his life. In a short tale of blood and self-loathing, Tyr seeks the most honorable path to finally join his mother in the afterlife.

 

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