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review 2018-06-15 16:47
Darkwalker / E.L. Tettensor
Darkwalker - E.L. Tettensor

He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted...
 
Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.
 
When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doomÂ…...

 

I didn’t connect with this character as much as I did the characters in the author’s other series (The Bloodbound, Erin Lindsey), but I still enjoyed the reading experience. I’m not gonna lie, I found many of the plot points to be a bit predictable, but the writing was good enough that I was willing to forgive that. I do like a paranormal detective story, even if Nicolas Lenoir is a moody, often drunken jerk. There’s a bit too much lingering (without details) on the big bad awful thing that happened in his past that left him in this detached state.

He may initially remind the reader of Sherlock Holmes, but there are significant differences. His alcohol dependence resembles Holmes’ drug habit, but the reasons behind them are different. Holmes indulges occasionally when he’s bored, Lenoir drinks every night to forget the dark event in his past. Holmes, for all his disdain for regular people, is pretty honest & upright. Lenoir is open to bribery and willing to slack on investigations that he doesn’t consider particularly important. With his snarly, detached demeanour, Lenoir is certainly lacking a sidekick like Watson, although he has Sergeant Kody waiting in the wings to fill the position. In this volume, Lenoir has Zach, a wily orphan boy, who stands in for all the Baker Street Irregulars, to help him with his inquiries.

The setting is Victorian without being set in London. This world is obviously not ours and we learn the differences as the story progresses. Magic is very much a thing in this reality and has to be taken into account. The Adali people are very Romany-like and provide an exotic source of tension.

This author will be at the August conference that I’ll be attending. I think I’ll have read all of her books by then! She has attended before and I enjoyed her perspectives on fiction and writing, so I’m looking forward to more of the same.

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review 2018-06-05 20:00
The Hunchback Assignments / Arthur Slade
The Hunchback Assignments - Arthur Slade

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania's efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It's up to them to save their country.

 

Although others have classified this book as young adult, I would consider it to be for a younger audience than that. I would recommend it for tweens and young teens. I’m rating it three stars, but that’s for the reading experience from my current vantage point as an adult. I think that if I’d read it at the right age, I would definitely have rated it at four stars.

The story is an interesting mix of steampunk elements and allusions to classic literature. The main character, Modo (the hunchback of the title) harks back to Quasimodo of Victor Hugo and Modo’s partner in crime, Octavia Milkweed, reminds me obliquely of La Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Like Quasimodo & Esmeralda, Modo becomes enamoured with Octavia. Unlike Quasimodo, Modo has a paranormal ability to change his appearance for limited amounts of time. Because of his crush on Octavia, he spends quite a bit of time & effort to avoid being seen by her in his natural state—this is obviously a state of affairs that will progress in future volumes.

The story’s villain, Dr. Hyde, has some roots in Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, without the virtuous Jekyl state. He performs many horrible experiments on both adults and children, but nothing vivid enough to leave younger readers with nightmares, unless they are ultra-sensitive. The bolts that he inserts in his experimental subjects reminded me strongly of the popular-culture version of Frankenstein’s monster.

Unlike so many of these alternate history Victorian stories, this one seems to be aimed more at boys than at girls, although I think any girl of the right age would definitely identify with Octavia. But with Modo as the narrator of the tale, the appeal to boys is greater. Since I think that reading for young men is a neglected demographic, I am glad to know about this fun, engaging series.

The author, Arthur Slade, will be attending the When Words Collide conference this August (2018) and I am glad that I read one of his books before hearing him speak there.

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text 2018-05-31 16:14
Randall Munroe's Unique Style
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words - Randall Munroe

Randall Munroe has an extremely unique style, a blend of humor and simplicity used to explain extremely complicated things. "There's lots of stuff under the front cover of a car. The biggest thing is usually the fire box which turns the wheels to push the car." In this example, Munroe uses a unique blend of comedy and simplistic language to explain something as complex as a car engine. 

 

The aforementioned unique style of Munroe, a blend of humor and simplicity, is what makes him extremely popular. This amount of uniqueness sets Munroe apart from all other authors, especially ones who write a similar type of genre. The fact that he is set apart from all other similar authors makes his books enjoyable to say the least.

 

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text 2018-05-29 14:31
Thing Explainer
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words - Randall Munroe

Do you enjoy learning complicated things? Do the meanings of these things allude you? If so, Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe is just the book for you. This book, takes complicated-to-understand things, such as cells, nuclear power plants, and Mars rovers and uses a delightful combination of pictures and easier words to help you understand them.

 

This book is also one for lovers of humor. Contrary titles, such as "Bags of Water We're All Made of" or "Hand Computer" to explain things such as cells or cell phones creates hilarity in places where it isn't usually found. The juxtaposition of these simple titles and the complicated things they are representing creates for a refreshing new view of extremely interesting and complicated subjects. 

 

I often times wonder how graphite is put into pencils, or how locks function. With this book, I was quickly able to understand things that once confused me greatly. After reading this book, I feel that I have acquired more knowledge than I ever have before. Once you have read this book, I am absolutely sure that you will feel the same way.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/25329850-thing-explainer
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text 2018-05-27 18:13
The Authors' Words: Award Winning Author, Marilyn Meredith

The Authors' Words: Award Winning Author, Marilyn Meredith
https://jdswritersblog.blogspot.com/2018/05/the-authors-words-award-winning-author.html

Source: jdswritersblog.blogspot.com/2018/05/the-authors-words-award-winning-author.html
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