Friday, 16 November 2018

All Those Explosions were Someone Else's Fault by James Alan Gardner

A romp through my old stomping grounds.  Okay, maybe a parallel romp since there doesn't seem to be magic in my world, but there is the University of Waterloo and it's neighbourhoods.  Author James Alan Gardner has set his book in an area he knows well, though he's tweaked it a bit and added some rather cool stuff.

Kim, her three roommates and one boyfriend are at the University of Waterloo (UW) on a stealth mission.  When Kim spies six darklings entering a lab, her curiosity is aroused. Shortly afterwards an explosion ripples through campus and the four women go to investigate.  They enter the devastated lab and become encircled/invaded by something that effects changes in themselves.  They are transformed to sparks, essentially the good or light ones who counter the darklings.  Did I mention the campus police?

This sets the four off on a series of adventures while they seek to understand what has happened to them.

There is so much wonderful stuff that happens in this book that I can't even begin to explain. I can tell you that this was a lot of fun to read and experience.  It was discussed at my book club, and we all enjoyed it and most of us plan to read the next instalment.  We couldn't put any labels on this book as it's most unique in plot. Yes, there is dark and light but there is a lot of fuzzy as well.  Suspend disbelief and just go with the story line and enjoy.

I loved that this book is set in a location that I am very familiar with.  I attended UW some years ago and it was great to re-visit sites that I have a variety of memories of.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Anyone's Game : Cross Ups #2 by Sylv Chiang

Wow, this was great.

Jaden and Cali have been friends for years and during that time have played uncountable Cross Ups games.  Now that she is living in Montreal with her dad, they can only get together during their online gaming.  Jaden has noticed that Cali has been off her game lately but doesn't know what's bothering her, maybe it's just the physical distance between them.  When he is invited to play in a tournament in Montreal, he figures he'll have a great time with her.

The online community presents a social challenge.  You can't really know the person on the other end of the connection.  This is very true in the gaming world where children can compete equally against adult players.  Both of the friends are learning that this is not always a healthy environment.

Bullying and sexist attitudes are main topics in this book.  I feel that they are handled quite well and most suitably for pre-teen readers.

While this is the second book in the series, you can read it without having read the first book.  There is a lot of gamer talk, but it does not overwhelm the storyline nor preclude non-gamers from enjoying the story.

I received a review copy of this book from Annick Press in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Many authors have written the stories of the adventures children have when they pass to another, a more magical world.  Author Laura Weymouth has told the story of what happens after the children return to their own world.  siblings Jamie, Philippa and Evelyn all have different feeling about their time spent in the Woodlands.  Not one of them is left unchanged by their years long experience.

Their stories are told from two viewpoints; first by Evelyn and then by older sister Philippa.  I found the first part to be slower and harder to enjoy. She was really struggling and not in a good frame of mind.   Evelyn was so young when their adventure began, and grew into an adult while in the Woodlands.  During those formative years she formed bonds with the residents there that she could never break loose of.

I was very moved by Philippa's dedication to her sister.  There was nothing she wouldn't do for Evelyn to keep her happy and safe.  It's been a long time since a work of fiction had me crying for characters chapter after chapter.

This book should appeal to older teens as well as adult readers.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, 5 November 2018

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Yumeko has lived her life in the Silent Winds Temple with only the monks as family and teachers.  She knows very little of the outside world.  When the temple comes under violent attack she vows to follow the wishes of her master and deliver an ancient scroll to a hidden and seemingly mythical temple in a distant part of the county.

As she begins her trek, she meets up with Kage Tatsumi who agrees to escort her.  Unknown to Yumeko, Kage is not truly a samurai, rather a demon slayer intent on obtaining the very same scroll for his own clan.

Yumeko has secrets of her own.  She has simple fox magic as she is half kitsume and half human. Most handy in those unexpected situations that tend to occur with her.

These two make most interesting travel companions.  They both seek the same goal, though for very different reasons.  Both reaching the conclusion that for now it is better if they work together while keeping their secrets hidden.  I am eager to see if they can keep their detachment from each other.

Author Julie Kagawa is a master at world building.  She has incorporated enough real world similarities to make me accept this new world.  I particularly like the kitsune and other spirits.  I felt safe and comfortable with these non-human characters.

Please write quickly Ms. Kagawa, I'm eager to read Soul of the Sword, Part 2 of Shadow of the Fox.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, 3 November 2018

A Blade so Black by L. L. Mckinney

This story imagines the possible ripple effects of Alice's long ago trip(s) to Wonderland.

Modern day Alice is distraught by the sudden death of her beloved father.  She flees from the hospital and soon finds herself lost and in a dark foreboding alley.  When a terrifying dog/beast attacks her, she is saved by a mysterious person.  Addison Hatta is surprised to find that Alice can see him.  Thus begins a strange and fantastical tale.

I didn't really enjoy much of  this book.  It seemed as though it was written by two different authors.  For the first 2/3 the author tried too hard to push the Wonderland theme and the writing style suffered.  The next third, where the Wonderland theme was left to take care of itself, the plot took centre stage and drove the story really well.  While a few story lines were drawn closed, the author left me hanging on more, making me wish for the next book in this new series.

A good showing for a debut author, it will be curious and curiouser to see where the next rabbit's hole takes her.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, 1 November 2018

Between a Highlander and a Hard Place by Mary Wine

A brawny highlander in a kilt comes to the rescue of a young woman without considering the consequences. He acted from his heart not his head.  What is he going to do with a woman, obviously a respectable one, out in the Scottish wilds.  Darn himself and his honourable ways. Now he'll have to go out of his way to return her to her family.

I was hooked from that point, or actually, from the point I read he was wearing a kilt.

The young lady is Athena Trapps, an English woman who is trying to escape a nobleman who didn't turn out to be the gentleman she thought he was.  Every move she makes seems to open up a new patch of trouble for her and for her rescuer. Can she take a chance and trust Symon Grant; is he as good a man as he appears to be.

The story is set a time when relations between Scotland and England were tense and neither trusted the other an inch.  In classic romance fashion, love is stronger than bitter distrust.  Kind of swoon worthy for me. Each time author Mary Wine describes Symon as wearing a kilt, or donning his kilt, I'm in love with him again.  Sure it's a whimsy thing, but a man in a kilt......

I loved this book and would gladly read more in this genre from Ms. Wine.

Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win another title by Mary Wine.

Also by Mary Wine:

Highland Hellcat

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I received and advance reader copy of this book from Source Books in exchange for honest review.