Friday, May 17, 2019

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception

8130012Nobody is smarter than Artemis Fowl.  And that might just be a good thing for Holly Short this time.  She is going to need the boy genius to save all of fairy civilization from the ultimate arch nemesis.

Another fantastic addition to the Artemis Fowl series.  Quick paced and fun to read, these novels are an excellent selection when I'm looking for lighthearted reads before bed.

While I was once leery to continue this series, I will now see them out to the end.  Even when they have their slow moments, they still fill a purpose in my reading schedule.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer

Image result for The Eternity CodeThere are just times when a middle grade novel is what I need to read.  That is usually after a heavy dose of academic reading.  While Appalachian Reckoning was fascinating and had the ability to spark some very interesting conversation in the house, it was extremely exhausting to read.

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code was a great way to wind down and relax my brain.  It was entertaining as any other heist story you may come across.  Artemis senior is home and ready to get on the straight and narrow.  This does not sit well with Artemis junior, however.  How are they supposed to keep their vast hordes of gold incoming with legitimate business?

In his final scheme, Artemis plans to make enough gold to keep the status quo.  Our favorite boy genius uses stolen fairy tech to entice the head of the competing big shot to set up the Fowls for life.  Unfortunately, Artemis bites off more than he can chew by trying to swindle one of the most pompous, greedy villains and almost reveals all of fairy existence to a manipulative jerk at the same time.

It becomes incredibly easy to root for the complete destruction of Jon Spiro.  The heist of the century unfolds as Artemis most enlist the help of fairy kind to save Butler and himself from his own miscalculations.

It was a fun, fast-paced read for the quick entertainment I needed after a slog through academia.  The emotions are all over the map on this one, and I just could not put it down.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy by et al.

I had never heard of Hillbilly Elegy.  (I must have been living under a rock or something.)  When Appalachian Reckoning showed up on my Netgalley list, I was instantly interested.  The subject matter is incredibly close to my heart.  I looked up Hillbilly Elegy and read some synopses.  I was aggravated.  My family made the same diaspora from Appalachia to the Rust Belt during the Great Depression.  They moved into the very town Vance worked his way out of.  They lead incredibly similar lives, but we came to very different conclusions on how to handle our situations.

I was very interested to read responses from others who live in the same region.  Were others as offended with Vance's representation as I was, or did I stand alone?  Well, honestly, I got a little more than I bargained for in Appalachian Reckoning.  The first half of the book is a collection of response essays of an academic nature.  The second half is more personal responses in all kinds of literary formats.

The high brow academic section was exhaustive to read.  Lots of citations and little heart.  While it was more than I was looking to read at the time, it was exactly as to be expected with a collection of academic essays.  I was more impressed with the second half of the book.  All in all, various authors made excellent points for and against the concepts Vance preaches to his readers. 

The appeal of reading the responses from people who come from the same place and have led similar lives is just human nature.  That sense of connectivity is something we all seek.  I was drawn to this collection by its subject and relativity to my life.  I kept reading because of the social questions it raised and the intellectual conversation it sparked. 

My brain needed a good workout after lots of fiction reading.  Appalachian Reckoning provided.  This book certainly isn't for everyone, but it should make everyone who takes the time to read it think a great deal on how human nature works.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Lady Mechanika: La Belle Dame sans Merci by Joe Benitoz

45170944What another wonderful segment in the world of Lady Mechanika.  I have absolutely loved this series.  The steampunk ascetic, the myths, the atmosphere, the great characters.  I could absolutely go on to list a hundred things I enjoy about this series.  It makes me understand why people buy serial comics when the subject is something they enjoy so thoroughly.

Volume 4 was becoming a little gruesome and dark as Mr. Lewis confronted his past.  I actually put off reading La Belle Dame sans Merci until it was published as Volume 5 actually.

Mr. Lewis's only solace was at the bottom of a bottle until he meets a beautiful and mysterious widow.  Love is certainly in the air.  But what happens when that love turns deadly?  It's old, reliable friend pitted against an irresistible spark of light.  The emotions are running high and deep in Volume 5. 

The level of fantasy in La Belle Dame sans Merci is over 9,000.  We are talking fairies, people.  The steampunk was very low key this arc, and I'm not hating it.  I felt a complete revitalization for the series.  There is enough mystery and intrigue to the overarching plot to keep me coming back for the next arc.

Can I just say--buy this volume just for the art on page 62.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  It is available now.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

6567845Rincewind saves my Discworld every time.  He is just priceless.  Our satire this time--the Art of War.  The gods are bored and decide to play a game. 

Fate is playing Imperial China on the verge of the communist revolution.  The Lady decides to counter with the one pawn Fate will never be able to anticipate, the Great Wizzard Rincewind.  The other pawns on the board are Genghiz Cohen, the barbarian invader from the north; Hex, the super conglomeration made by the Unseen wizards; Lord Hong, the dreamer of empires; the Luggage, and little luggage babies (cute!); and the return of the amazing Twoflower, tourist extraordinaire. 

Worlds collide as Cohen tries to civilize up in order to steal the empire, Lord Hong attempts a coup, and Rincewind is magically transported with Unseen University's version of physics.  The amount of fumbling in this novel absolutely restored the humor I had been missing in the last couple novels. 

What excited me the most, however, was the ending.  Instead of being transported back to Ankh-Morpork, Rincewind clearly lands in a Discworld version of the Australian outback.  Which means more novels about Rincewind!  Luck clearly has a great affinity for Rincewind, though I'm sure he doesn't see it that way.

May you live in interesting times.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Myths & Mortals by Charlie Holmberg

We pick up immediately after the face-walloping cliffhanger from Smoke & Summons.  The emotion is high intensity right from the get go and never lets go of your heartstrings.  The raw emotion of Sandis as she puts together the pieces of her life is very intense and a little overwhelming at times.  There is a lot of angst and sense of betrayal.  While being incredibly vivid and real, I actually felt it was a little too much for enjoyable reading at moments.

The action is just as fast-paced and visceral as Smoke & Summons.  Sandis and Rone are on another mad dash around Kolingrad in their ever present struggle against Kazen.  But the game is turned up a notch in Myths & Mortals as Sandis decides to turn her flight into a pursuit.  She is not going to let Kazen make her decisions any more.  She wants to put an end to the non-stop anxiety and restlessness that is dogging her heels.

There are many highs and many lows to be had on the path to her freedom and the world's salvation.  With her new found resolve, Sandis begins to question the order of the universe.  As a devout Celestian, she is an abomination.  But her personal relationship with the vessels and Ireth pulls at her faith.  She is doubtful and seeking.  The answers she has been taught don't seem to clear up any of the questions that are being asked.

This is a book that excellently highlights the struggle of reconciling faith with religious teachings.  I find the title to be incredibly appropriate for the story.  My favorite aspect of this series, though, is the foreshadowing of the conclusion to come--everything we've been taught may not be anything we anticipated to be truth.  And again with the conclusion.  You know it's coming, but it doesn't take away from the moment in any way.

The series is not perfect and perhaps could have been better developed if given more time before publication, but the deep ties to faith and the struggle to believe are too real to nitpick the mortal details.  I can't wait to read Siege & Sacrifice this September.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

19131982I have apparently hit a slump in the Discworld.  The satire has become on the most obvious of topics.  They built this city on music with rocks in it, everyone.  The largest downside to this topic are the references.  I grew up listening to music from bygone days for my age group, but this novel stretched my knowledge of rock history.  It was distracting.

The disasters of fame and fortune are the meat of the satire, but I couldn't get passed trying to figure out which rock stars were being used for cultural reference.  This is entirely a personal problem and may not bother many other readers.  I just have to put the imagery together in my mind.  If you don't have to waste your brain on connecting fiction with fact, then this could be a very entertaining book for you.