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Many of the books I review were FREE in exchange for an honest review. I do not get paid to review them. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as ADs. They are promoting books but I do NOT get any money or goods for posting Spotlights. 
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Friday, May 29, 2015

The Crystal Mountain by J. Gregory Smith

This book is Greg's first foray into the young adult genre.  It is a fantasy set predominantly on an island kingdom with a benign ruler.   The island is dominated by a crystal mountain home of mystery.   The plot is a reign change from the king to his youngest son.   This causes some issues with the oldest son who expected to be the ruler.

Greg Smith did a masterful job on his first fantasy.  He created likable characters and his dialogue ran true.   His depiction of sibling rivalry and jealousy seemed very believable.  

The Crystal Mountain's entities provide a mystery that may be explored in further books.  I did think that the changes that Erik (older brother) went through may have been orchestrated by the mountain to precipitate the Capagian invasion and to eventually help deal with it.  Of course this falls under reader interpretation which may or may not be what the author intended. 

Overall the quality of the book should not be surprising as it is merely a gifted author dipping his toes into the pool of a different genre. 

I highly recommend the book. 

Past reviews of J. Gregory Smith books:

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Brass Giant by Brooke Johnson

Steampunk is always a curious genre.   This seems to be the beginning of a series called the Chroniker City.   It was a romantic Steampunk story and I liked it anyway.   The Pygmalion quality of the story was not overdone although the well to do boy meets down trodden girl is somewhat overworked, in general.  

Petra Wade is fighting for a place in a male dominated world.   Even with equal rights, statistically, even today the number of female engineers is far less than male engineers.   In Chroniker City, Petra is fighting a severe uphill battle to become a mechanical engineer.   She meets Emmerich who is not only from a different side of the tracks, he is in the career for which she aspires.  

The two of them design a "brass giant"  mechanical man and then despair to find they have both been deceived as to it's purpose.   There is action, romance and a modicum of violence.   There is also an underpinning theme of true equal rights.

I recommend the book.

Web Site: http://www.brooke-johnson.com/.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Soldiers by John Dalmas

This isn't a new book.  It was published in 2001.  Looking at Dalmas birth date, he appears to be 89 years old.   I find that interesting in that his first book that I read was The Yngling that was serialized in Analog magazine in 1969.   I guess as you age, you find other people older than you still kicking around and you have hope that you will be doing the same when you are that old.  

Soldiers depicts an alien invasion of stupendous proportions.   Play close attention in the first few pages to discover how the aliens got to our galaxy.   It is referred to several times during the story but it can be easily missed.

Dalmas takes a contrarian opinion when writing this book.   Most stories see the human race as extremely competitive and very pugnacious.   Dalmas takes a different tact an depicts the human race as having divested itself of negative, war like behavior.   He doesn't state it but the implication of multiple societies on different world provide havens for splinter groups who fail to peacefully integrate into a world wide society.   Gordon Dickson had his splinter group planets too but they weren't quite as peaceful. 

From my perspective this book really promotes the idea that if we have unlimited frontiers we can bleed off the violence of the world.  Let the Sunnis and the Shias each settle their own planet and live their own way.   North Korea on it's own planet sounds really good as they periodically are out of this world anyway.

The book does a lot of searching for solutions to an invasion after losing the innate fighting nature of human beings.   The resolution is satisfying on many levels.

I recommend the book.

Web Site: http://www.johndalmas.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Nightlife: night terrors By Matthew Quinn Martin

This is a vampire tale and it isn't.   It is a tale of a millennium old conspiracy, complete with a host of identical agents of a secret agency.   It is also a love story. 

This is an interesting book.   You get shades of X Factor, leavened with a  smidge of Twilight and a pinch of Indiana Jones.  Now that I have spewed forth enough metaphoric flotsam perhaps I can move forward.

Martin writes an entertaining tale regardless of my reviewer's drivel or is that dribble.  The story moves with good speed.   The plot is intricate with minimal confusion especially when you consider this is the third volume of the series.   There was a very minimum back story which is more alluded to than told.

Jack and Beth are on a quest to defeat evil while being pursued by those steeped in ignorance or malice.  The two are caught between two implacable foes.  As in the best of fiction,  things aren't always as they seem or as we hope.

This is a good story that I recommend.

Site: http://www.matthewquinnmartin.com/

 This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Joe Steele by Harry Turtledove

This is another alternate history by Turtledove.   This history begins with FDR's first election and ends decades later.   It is a dark, social look at totalitarian politics.

This is a tale of two brothers and how they fare in a society quite different from the one we have experienced.   It takes the nation at a crux in our social development.  The depression has kicked in and the nation is in a crisis.   Franklin Delano Roosevelt is running for President.   Joe Steele is a first generation American who has strong ideas for the country.   Instead of FDR being elected, as in our history, Steele is elected.   Steele takes the radical attitudes of a hard right politician and runs with them.

The story shows the interplay between the administration and the lives of the two Sullivan brothers both of whom are newspaper men.   Charlie goes with the flow and Mike bucks the system.  The results are the basis of the plot.

This is a dark and frightening look at how democracy can go awry.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pirates Alley by Suzanne Johnson

This is the next book in a urban fantasy coming of age of a young wizard.   It is set in post-Katrina New Orleans where boundaries have thinned between here and the beyond providing New Orleans with undead, vampires, fairies, shape shifters and historic undead.  

DJ, Drusilla Jaco, is a Green Congress wizard with a shape shifter boyfriend.  In this volume of the series, DJ, once again, runs afoul of the Wizard Elders.  She also alienates the vampires, some of the Elves, her boyfriend, her best friend and some undead.

DJ discovers some unknown family members and is questioning whether she should be a Sentinel of New Orleans.

Johnson writes a great story with lots of action and interesting characters.  Johnson has a great imagination and has crafted a “believable” paranormal environment.   In spite of some of the romantic overtones, I really like her books.

I recommend the book and the series.

Web sites:        http://www.suzanne-johnson.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

By Tooth and Claw

This is a collection of short stories. I like novels as opposed to short stories.  If the short story is good you're disappointed that it isn't a novel.  This collection is by four authors I really enjoy.  They produced four stories using the same universe setting and theme.   The authors were S.M. Stirling, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Jody Lynn Nye.   I liked Mz. Nye's story the best of the group.

The trouble with a collection of short stories in which the authors have decided on an environment is the disjointed nature of the stories.   Each story is adequate but hardly outstanding as the stories don't really mesh well.   Considering the four authors and how good they are, I found that surprising and disappointing.

The main plot of the story is the conflict between two divers species,  a lizard based species and a feline based species. Simplistically cold blooded versus mammal with characteristics ascribed through stereotype.  The lizards are the bad guys and the mammals are the good guys.   The two groups interaction and their problems are centered around an enormous natural catastrophe.

The stories were ok,  probably my  general dislike of short stories vs novels contributes to my lack of enthusiasm for the book.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.