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Friday, February 16, 2018

TEMPESTS AND SLAUGHTER by Tamora Pierce

TEMPESTS AND SLAUGHTER  (Book One in The Numair Chronicles)   by Tamora Pierce

Pierce is one of my favorite authors for young adult fantasy and this outing is one of her best. She has created a world that is fully populated and nuanced with peoples, animals, gods and Gods, as well as climate, flora, and laws of both nature and man. 
Her main character this time is male, unusual for Pierce who is a creator of strong females. Arram is an eleven year old mage student when the book opens, and is joined by Ozorne, a Prince of the Realm, and Varice, a female kitchenwitch, both also mage students.  There are plenty of fully realized supporting characters including teachers, gods and Gods, gladiators and other students.   
This first book in the new series covers the lower and upper years of The Imperial University of Carthak (The School for Mages) and sets up the themes for the following books.  Themes indicated are friendship, use of power, loyalty, the role of government, slavery and gladiators, justice and revenge, and kindness.
One item that shows Pierce’s attention to detail is the use of Arram’s class schedules to introduce each new season.  Each schedule shows us the progress of Arram’s studies, introduces faculty members and details the breadth of Arram’s Gift. Each also reinforces the sense of reality Pierce creates in her Tortall World.
Several interweaving plots carry the reader quickly through the more than 400 pages. A glossary at the end is helpful for newcomers to the Tortall World. You will be sorry this book has ended and be anxious for the next to be published.

5 of 5 stars

Monday, February 12, 2018

TAKE OUT by Margaret Maron

Take Out  by Margaret Maron

I love Maron’s Deborah Knott books. This is only the second Sigrid Harald novel I have read.  I was unfamiliar with the recurring characters, so I was often to turning back to see “who is this”, especially considering there are three separate plots and three sets of characters to keep straight.  Once I got familiar with them, all the plot(s) moved along quickly. 

The New York setting was on point with a number of neighborhood businesses and interest points used.  Lt. Harold’s relationship with artist Oscar Nauman is part of the plotting along with a gallery, a mobster’s family and an aging opera star.  The plots are intriguing and keep you guessing (I did quickly figure out one point, yea, me) with enough ambiguity to keep you reading.

Good reading, but I still like the Deborah Knott books better.

4 of 5 stars

Thursday, February 8, 2018

HOPE IN THE HOLLER by Lisa Lewis Tyre

HOPE IN THE HOLLER by Lisa Lewis Tyre
This delightful middle grade novel features a plucky 5th grader who has just lost her mother to cancer. Wavie is sent to live in a tiny Appalachian hamlet with an aunt she didn’t know existed.  

Wavie acts and speaks like a real 5th grader. So, too, do the other young people in her new town. Her aunt, Samantha Rose, is a horror and her cousin isn’t much better.  An uncle and a weird old man make up the rest of the main characters in this lively novel.

A mystery and secrets lead to the plot which moves along quickly.  Middle graders will love this book that emphasizes honesty, pluck, determination, kindness, friendship and bravery. This would be a good book for a parent/child book club or an all student book group. Even boys would like it as there are several interesting boy characters in the plot.


5 of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland

NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland
WOW, this book takes you for a ride with the FBI, CIA and Russian spies.  Cleveland has written a page turner that will keep you wondering how Vivian, a CIA analyst, and Matt, her husband and possible Russian sleeper spy, will keep the Russians and the Americans at bay AND keep their family intact (and out of jail)!
The fast moving plot will keep you on the edge of your seat and those pages turning. Vivian is a bit naive and one wonders how she became so trusted with so much top secret information. Her husband starts as a mild mannered house husband and good as gold Dad – and maybe he is… or maybe he is a Russian spy. Someone is.  Discovering who is the spy and who are the good guys has this book littered with red herrings, threats, secret identities, plain black cars and more.

4 of 5 stars

French Exit by Patrick DeWitt

FRENCH EXIT  by Patrick DeWitt
I just couldn’t get interested in this book or the characters in it; Frances, a middle aged widow, and her son, Malcolm.  While clearly drawn, neither was likeable or very interesting.  Their situation (about to become bankrupt) and their reactions were also not interesting.  I finished the book all the while wondering why I kept reading.  I can’t in good conscience recommend this book.
Frances is a snide, snobbish and selfish person. Malcolm is a man/child who has no ambition and no desire to do anything including attend to his long suffering fiancĂ©. The entourage they acquire is made up of misfits and ne’er-do-wells. The conclusion is a relief.

2 of 5 stars