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review 2020-06-24 15:39
Bastard Rebellion
Shadowless - Randall McNally

One of the benefits of building a world unfamiliar to the reader and characters that can live for hundreds of years, is the size of canvas, on which the author can construct his story. Certainly, in ‘Shadowless’, Randall McNally has developed a book exploiting those epic proportions, ranging across the ‘Northern Realms’, with a large cast of characters that perhaps befits such an ambitious undertaking. The fact that this is also a debut novel merely emphasises the congratulations due to the author, for such an absorbing read.

 

Amid echoes of Greek and Roman mythology, the Northern Realms is a world that cultivates curiosity and discomfort, wonder and horror in equal measure. The book also rather morphs into a novel, as the first half comprises a series of chapters, which read almost like short stories, or vignettes, introducing the respective ‘heroes’, with their inherited power and explaining how their differing local environments are formulated.

 

The malevolent ‘villains’ in the region are undoubtedly the cohort of powerful gods, who have survived a civil war among themselves, but in the process killed all of the goddesses. As a consequence, this exclusively macho group, using their ability to assume any form, satisfy their carnal desires among mortal women, the resulting offspring being born with supernatural traits, but without shadows. The ‘shadowless’ are thus born with innate advantage and yet are destined to be marked out and damned, neither mortal, nor god. The power bequeathed by their respective fathers may grow, if they can survive, but it can also be ‘harvested’ by the relevant god, in a cynical cull of their illegitimate children. Moreover, the Northern Realms are in the thrall of temples and mortal worshippers, who seek to enthusiastically appease the gods, by deploying a militia of ‘Shadow Watchers’, to identify and sacrifice the shadowless. Survival depends often on staying hidden from public view, in aristocratic isolation, forest, dungeon, or underground community. Only the mysterious Brother Amrodan, priest within a sole religious order committed to finding and helping the shadowless, appears to be on their side. Moreover, Amrodan is the lynchpin, mapping the whereabouts of the disparate individuals over centuries and devising the plan by which the gods might eventually be challenged. For me, he was a fleeting reminder of Nick Fury, meticulously assembling the ‘Avengers’, only Amrodan’s use of the dark arts involved a primeval pool and his kickass firepower came in the shape of a black dragon!

 

In a sense, the fact that these fascinating shadowless individuals seemed to struggle to gel as a group was hardly surprising. However, as prophesied, within the group is an especially powerful ‘shadowmancer’ who didn’t really fulfil his potential in this first outing. Coming up against a 25 feet tall monster with destruction on his mind may test the mettle of any leader, but it has left me with the impression that this book is the foundation of an ongoing story, the opening battle in a war, which I hope the author will continue. Interesting as they are, I did wonder at the sheer number of characters and the juggling required to keep them all in play, but if this does indeed culminate in further volumes, then returning to the canvas analogy, the author has acres of material to work with. Certainly the polish in some of those discrete early chapters bore the hallmarks of a talented wordsmith and I hope to return for Mr McNally’s next instalment soon. Incidentally, whilst the reader should rarely judge a book by its cover, the cover art, which did well in an online competition, on this occasion, is rather a good guide to the quality within.

 

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review 2020-03-28 01:41
How to Generate Electricity on Mars
How To - Randall Munroe

Munroe takes simple "how to" questions like how to fill a swimming pool or how to how to move a house, and supplies scientifically realistic but completely insane solutions. For example, fusion reactions create water, so could you fill a pool by setting off a hydrogen bomb? Could you strap four jet engines to a house and fly it to another location? Some questions are less commons place, such as how to build a lava moat around your house or how to slow the passage of time.  My favorite piece was on how to generate electricity on Mars by attaching a tether to one of Mars' moons and have it drag a wind turbine through the Martian atmosphere at 530 meters per second.

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review 2019-12-04 18:26
Book Review: The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society on Boasting by Randall Goodgame
The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society on Boasting - Randall Goodgame

Did your kids or children try to outdo the other? Well, this book might be a good one for you and children or grandchildren. It is good for your nieces and nephews to read too. They all can learn through this book.

This book is about boasting and learning about it. Morty and Maggie learn about this though the SOERS group they join. Maggie says something that makes Morty upset.

I love the fact that these main characters need to learn about different things. They do it by making mistakes but by helping those in need in their community. This is what SOERS do and still learn lessons. Your children can learn along with with Morty and Maggie though this book.

The author does a wonderful job of teaching a lesson but also making it fun. The book does rhyme while reading the story. It is good for first-time readers as well. Children can learn to rhyme and learn a moral lesson about boasting. Learn the best way to do that through the lord.

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review 2019-11-13 03:01
Book Review: The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society
The Society of Extraordinary Raccoon Society - Randall Goodgame

The book is about sharing and giving. It is done well. Children will learn some rhyme as well with this book. Though the book is about learning what is right and wrong. There is also the lesson of giving to though that need it more.

The author does this well. Show it tough the pictures. The pictures do tell the story. Learning about giving to others is the most important thing. This book is more showing you around the secret society but also what they do.

God wants us do be a giver and share too though who needs the stuff. I enjoy the way the story is story or meaning of the story is told. Teaching children the meaning and telling about giving your stuff away to though that need it. Teaching children to share as well.

Rhyming is a part of the theme in this book. Children can learn words as well. It is fun to read. It also enjoys and can make your child or children laugh as well.

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review 2019-11-03 23:17
The Curse of Oak Island
The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World's Longest Treasure Hunt - Randall Sullivan

The riddle wrapped in a mystery inside the enigma that is a small island just barely off the shore of Nova Scotia has tantalized and tortured people for over two centuries.  The Curse of Oak Island by Randall Sullivan covers the history of the longest treasure hunt from the individuals involved in the hunt to the theories of what is or isn’t on the island including the History Channel reality series of the same name.

 

Building upon the Rolling Stone article he wrote 13 years before, Sullivan was invited back to the island by the producers of the reality show to write this book, appear on a few episodes of the show, and interview the Lagina brothers. Starting with the historical backdrop of the Oak Island area, Sullivan goes over the often-told discovery of the Money Pit but thorough research finds out that the named three discoverers is not agreed up as well as their biographies.  Throughout his 220 year history, Sullivan goes into the numerous lead searchers as well numerous theories of who made the Money Pit and what they believed was buried in there from pirate/privateer treasure to French Royal Jewels to possessions of the Knights Templar to cultural treasures connected with Roger Bacon.  The history of the last 60 years on the island which focuses on the now-deceased Fred Nolan and Dan Blankenship with their rivalry and how they joined the Laginas search as well as how the titular reality series came about is covered extensively compared to the earlier history as Sullivan had first-hand access to the participants.

 

Given the murky history of Oak Island, Sullivan did an excellent job and navigating everything connected with the long story of the Money Pit.  However, the biggest grip I had was with the intertwining of the history and the various theories, I personally felt that it would have been better to break up the history of the search in two and have all the theories discusses in-between.  Sullivan actually goes against the show’s narration of events several times in relating the history of the island and previous searchers, however he never discusses “the legend that seven must die” which is hinted at being the “curse” in the show’s open for the first four or five seasons.

 

The Curse of Oak Island is a fine look at the history surrounding the search of the Money Pit and the men who’ve dug on the Nova Scotia island.  Randall Sullivan gave the reader an idea about the individuals who kept the search going and what they believed they were searching for while also showing the toll it took on them and the island itself.  Overall it’s a fine book, but not laid out very well.

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