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review 2018-12-17 11:10
Step out of reality and into an Illusion

 

 

 

 

Illusional Reality

Karina Kantas

Paperback: 150 pages

Publisher: lulu.com (March 8, 2016)

ISBN-10: 1326583662

ISBN-13: 978-1326583668

https://www.amazon.com/Illusional-Reality-Karina-Kantas/dp/1326583662

 

Reading the opening pages of this fantasy/ romance, I had the sense I was reading a modern retelling of an ancient myth, fairy tale, or legend. Perhaps it was my overactive imagination, but some of the story’s early elements sounded familiar.

 

For example, the book opens when an ordinary marketing executive named Becky, who at least thinks she is an ordinary human, is rescued from an attack in a dark alley by an “alien” named Salco. Unhappily, in her opinion, she is transported to a different realm where she discovers she is really Princess Thya of Tsinia, a city of light-hearted (mostly) tree-top dwellers. She had been hidden away on earth until she is expected to fulfill her prophesized role as a wife to establish an alliance with the powerful city called Senx. Much to her distaste, she is apparently obligated to wed Kovon, the son of the proverbial dark lord, Darthorn. Darthorn is no more fond of the wedding idea than Thya,  preferring the conquest option which he is certain he would win.

 

Learning this marriage is intended to preserve and save the magical realm on the brink of destruction, Thya spends many hours being tutored about a world she doesn’t know. Thya slowly learns about her true identity including the undesirable prophecy and the fact she has supernatural powers she doesn’t know how to use or control. Along the way, she falls in love with one of her teachers who is himself obligated to marry another.

 

After this set-up, readers experience a series of possible paths for Thya to explore and deal with as we meet a growing set of sometimes duplicitous mentors and advisors for the Princess. I admit, my interest kicked in when Thya began to assert her will and resist prophecy, no matter what her court advisors tell her what she must do. From this point forward, I felt I was reading a completely original story based on, well, whatever Karina Kandas cooked up for her heroine and her changed circumstances in this first volume of a coming duology. Thankfully, the magical ride keeps building up speed until we get to the final third of the book where everything intensifies from the psychic battles to the emotional hits to Thya and her chosen lover, Alkazer.

 

A major stroke of creativity in this novel is the lofty dialect and diction Kantas has most of her characters using. I’ve read other reviews where some readers were put off or challenged by this  I don’t see the problem.  Every sentence was perfectly clear to me. How tough is it to recognize “with certainty” means “Yes”? In addition, the tone used by most of these characters seemed perfectly spot on for high officials and palace courtesans, not to mention black-hearted warlords.

 

This book can fairly be classified as YA as there are moral lessons being taught, mainly about the importance of selflessness and putting community above yourself. So Illusional Reality is the sort of book that should be welcome under your Christmas tree, especially for those reluctant younger readers for whom this adventure should be quite inviting. Why not give them a sexy female Harry Potter with a good figure?  It shouldn’t be too long before the sequel, The Quest, will belatedly debut in 2019.

 

 

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text 2018-12-17 10:40
Reading progress update: I've read 49%. It turns out that Archchancellor Ridcully of the Unseen University had a deep understanding of AI

ridcully on AI.001

 

In the twenty-one years since I last read Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather",  Artificial Intelligence has re-emerged as the great hope and fear of technology-based visions of the future.

 

I was glad to find that, decades ago, Terry Pratchett understood things about AI that well-funded research projects are only now daring to voice.

 

I give you the words of Archchancellor Ridcully of the Unseen University:

"Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time."

 

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review 2018-12-17 03:47
The Orphan of Salt Winds - Elizabeth L. Brooks

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Tin House Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

 

 

This was an incredibly atmospheric read. The setting, particularly the marsh, had a life of its own. The author did a fabulous job describing the setting which helped set the tone and the mood for the novel. 

 

As for the story itself, I was into it, but I wasn’t thrilled by it. I think it was because I had such high expectations going in. On the cover, the book is described as being reminiscent of Jane Eyre, which is one of my all time favorite books. It’s really tough to top that book. As I was reading the book, it was hard not to compare it to Jane Eyre. The story just didn’t move me as much as I would have liked it to. I never felt that connected to Virginia. 

 

 

I did like the dual storylines of Virginia when she was adopted (which was the main storyline) and Virginia as an old woman. I think the alternation between the two were really well done. The author coordinated the unfolding of events between the two perfectly. The contemporary chapter would subtly reveal something that the next historical chapter would delve into in great detail. 

 

For me, the strongest part of the book was Mr. Deering. He was a fearsome villain. I never knew what he was going to do because he was so unpredictable and creepy. It was so unsettling every time he entered Salt Winds. He’s one of the best villains I’ve encountered in literature this year. 

 

Overall, this book has a fantastic setting and villain, but the story leaves more to be desired. 

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review 2018-12-17 02:58
The Golden Tower (Book 5 - Magisterium series)
The Golden Tower - Holly Black,Cassandra Clare

Audience: Middle Grade

 

For the first time in Call's life, the house he had grown up in looked small.

- first sentence

 

I've missed the Magisterium; I didn't realize how much until I started reading this book. It has been a while, so I went to the Book Series Recaps website and read the summaries of the first four books. Call and his friends have been through a lot in the past 4 years, and the final year of magic school isn't any easier, in fact, it may be the toughest year yet.

 

Call is full of doubt and flaws; he wants to be good, but he has reason to doubt who he is at his very core. He questions his actions and decisions constantly, but his intentions are always good. He wants to protect his friends and the school, he wants the girl to like him, he wants to please his father and impress his teachers. He insists he isn't a hero, he is just left with no choice. But he never runs from danger, in fact, he seems to find it more than most.

 

In this final year at school, Call isn't the only one who doubts his intentions. Most of the other students fear and resent him and his connection to the Enemy of Death. Many of his friends aren't exactly his friends anymore. He feels alone, except for the voice in his head that is (I won't explain this because I don't want to spoil it).

 

This book is fantastic. My only complaint is that this is the final book in the series. I keep hoping the story might continue when Call and his friends go to the Collegium, but the summary refers to this as "the monumental conclusion to the Magisterium series," so it seems like I'm out of luck.

 

I highly recommend this book especially to grades 4-8.

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-12-17 01:55
Murder at the Book Group
Murder at the Book Group - Maggie King

The group was created for two reasons, to have a group of people who like cozy mysteries and who also are trying to write their own cozy mysteries, with some success. One of the members has already written some cozy mysteries that have been published, but she has a history, including being married to her friend's ex-husband. When she dies after drinking her tea, her friend notices a scent of bitter almonds. She looks into who would kill her friend and why.

 

I just reached a point where I felt that the book just went on too long. I usually don't have trouble reading books with many pages, but this one seemed to be longer than I was able to tolerate and was glad when I was finished. 

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