All posts by NancyD

About NancyD

Nancy E. Dunne is a certified American sign language interpreter and sighthound owner currently living in the Upstate of South Carolina. An avid reader from a young age, she is currently working at Clemson University, writing when she has a moment and reading as much as she possibly can...while still managing to eat and sleep.

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro

I must admit, I am not sure where to start to review this book. It came to me as prep material for a job I was doing, and I started reading it as I do all prep material – skimming.

That did not last long. This story is one of love and loss and the very essence of what makes us who we are. The author’s gift with word choice, pacing, character development and plot twists would be enough to keep me intrigued, but it is so much more than that.

This novel follows the story of Axl and Beatrice, two ordinary people in a completely extraordinary situation. No one in their world can remember anything that has taken place in the past – everything is in the moment, and a thick mist or fog has fallen over their land. As they start out on a quest, they discover the reason for the memory loss at the same time that they are rediscovering themselves and each other.

UGH! I’ve said before that I am one of the WORST with spoilers, and as with so many of the books I’ve read I am afraid to tell you too much – you MUST go into this book knowing very little about it, and let Ishiguro whisk you away and tell you his tale.

So good – SO GOOD. Grab your copy from Amazon today and wander through misty post-Arthurian England with Axl and Beatrice. You will not be disappointed.

The Caged Kingdom, by M.A. Price

I just finished this debut novel from author (and Twitter Friend) M. A. Price and y’all…I am blown away.

When you spend as much time as I do living in your novel world, it is sometimes hard to get your head around someone else’s universe, but the world of Broadanna immediately pulled me in and held me, spellbound and curious. Price has created characters that not only made me care but saw me expressing surprise, sadness, and even support – vocally – as I read.

Please take a moment here to feel sorry for Mr. Dunne, as I often read at night in bed while he is trying to sleep.

The pacing of the story is fast and tight – I had to make myself put the book down on several occasions because I needed sleep. I also very much appreciated the multiple POV format of the book – it only adds to the story, for me, to know what other characters are thinking and what they make of the action of the plot. I write in multiple POV so this book felt familiar from the start.

I know that I am not discussing much about the plot, but that’s because I have EPIC LEVEL problems with spoiler revelation and I don’t want to ruin anything about this book for you. Please, do yourself a favor and grab a copy today on Amazon. You will NOT be sorry!

The Thief (BDB #16)

** spoiler alert ** WARNING: SPOILERS IN REVIEW, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK 

Okay, I am a HUGE JR Ward fan and I think I have read all that she has written in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I say I think I have because it seemed that there were a lot of new-ish Legacy books that came out in a flurry, and I don’t know that I read those.

I wanted to like this one, I really did, but I had several things working against me from the start. Namely, Assail and Sola were never my favorites. I couldn’t see Sola as a 3D character – she seemed a little flat before. But as a loyal fan, I got The Thief and read it. Holy hot mess, Batman.

First, I will say that my favorite of the Brothers is V, and you can take that to mean whatever you like – and I did not even recognize him in this book. While I didn’t think that what he was planning to do at the penthouse was cheating, exactly, it was presented as such. I mean, was it cheating when he and Butch were there? Nope. The penthouse serves its purpose in V’s life and the fact that he can share that with Jane makes them tight, IMO. Butch too, for that matter. I love the relationship that the four of them (V, Butch, Marissa, and Jane) have – it’s one thing I love about Ward’s writing and the world she has created: at the end of the day they are family.

Yeah, not so much in this one. The closest thing I saw to the family dynamic from previous books was V attending the Brothers meeting wearing Jane’s My Little Pony pajama pants. And okay, let’s just think about THAT for a minute: How on earth is that even physically possible, that an enormous Brother would not know that he is wearing his shellren’s trousers? Please.

Also – the ending came as a surprise. Not in a plot twist kind of way, but in a “wait, did I fall asleep and accidentally click to the end of the book” way. While I understand that this is a series, and there will be more about the shadows and Throe, etc., in upcoming books – I honestly don’t care. This book did not make me care enough – it just seemed to hit a word/page count and drop off a cliff. 

Overall, I would recommend reading this because there is some pretty crazy info about the Fade, the Scribe Virgin, and other stuff that you will not get in future books if you miss this one. But don’t expect it to be like the old days of the BDB. Something has changed, and not entirely for the better.

Return to Sender: From the Files of Pyramid Investigations, by Tony Daniel

returntosenderEvery town has its ghost stories, and Atlanta is no exception. Crockett and Memphis Pete are just two ordinary guys caught up in them. The only thing is Crockett has become an unwitting medium who smokes too much and Pete is the reanimated mummy of a priest of Osiris obsessed with Elvis Presley. Together they help the various spirits of Atlanta and its environs find their way home.  When a legendary lost Confederate shipment of gold becomes the target of a voodoo master and a delusional historian, it’s up to the two hapless paranormal investigators to do whatever they can to make sure the good guys win. It’s a race against the clock, and time is almost up. (Goodreads.com)

 

Y’all. Here’s the thing: GO OUT AND GET THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. Okay, that wasn’t the thing I was thinking of – really it’s more that I don’t read crime fiction very often, but this one has the hook that will get me into most other genres: the paranormal.

Crockett and Pete are an excellent duo, and I mentioned to the author yesterday that after reading this I now hear everything in Mama Lady’s accent, so there’s that too. Excellent character development, with the exception MAYBE of Lucinda, but that’s not her fault that she’s a bit of a secondary story arc that is thrust into the main spotlight about halfway through. In fact, if I had any complaint about this novel, it might have been that I think the author could have developed the story in this into several novels, like a series. But that could be due to my own habit of writing books that are way too long for normal people to read.

In truth, this book was an easy read – because the scenes just flow into each other effortlessly, like a good play where you don’t realize you’ve left beat one and moved into beat two until you’re on the verge of beat three. The author clearly did his homework – since it is set in Atlanta I knew a lot of the places mentioned in the novel and never ONCE did I think anything like, “Hey, wait, he put the Varsity in the middle of Oakland Cemetary.” The characters, as I mentioned above, are compelling. I know that someone has worked hard on a character when I hear a different voice in my head as I’m reading.

I can’t seem to say anything that I want to say without spoilers, so I will just give you some bullet points that were highlights for me:

  • Peggy. Y’all. Just Peggy.
  • The depth of interaction between our detectives and Jimmy warmed my heart and broke it a few times.
  • The intricacy of writing two characters who speak in a very distinctive accent AND GETTING IT RIGHT.  (I tried that with Teeand in my Orana Chronicles novels and instead of sounding like a LOTR dwarf my British husband said he was a cross between Yorkshire and Scotland.)
  • Creating two distinct voices for a – okay, yeah – hapless detective like Crockett and the force of nature that is Pete.
  • PETE! Y’all. Love me some Pete (but then who doesn’t?).
  • The action at Stone Mountain. I could see it in my head and I haven’t been to Stone Mountain in decades.

Seriously – go read this RIGHT NOW. I’m already badgering the author for more.

*I purchased this book on my own, and am making this review on my own. I was not asked by the author or publisher to review this title.

The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

hunger gamesI don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that reading this trilogy changed my perspective on my life and the world around me. I think if I said that about the movies, that would be a lie, so I won’t say that.

These three books introduce us to a dystopian Earth – specifically the United States – after a massive war. The US has been renamed Panem and is divided into 12 districts, starting with 1 which is the most wealthy and going down to 12 which is a mining district filled with low socio-economics and poverty and all that fun stuff.

I can’t even separate them into their individual novels because I read them back to back like one long story. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, grows up over the course of the three novels – even though I think they only span three years. There was an uprising back in the day, you see, and after it was ended by the ruling class (as you would expect), they devised a yearly remembrance that would serve to keep something like that from ever happening again: The Hunger Games. Each district would put forth a tribute – a teenager, who would then participate in a reality-show-gone-wrong combat trial against all the other tributes. When I say combat, I mean to the death. Death, broadcast live to all the districts. Like what might happen if you combined Big Brother and Survivor.

Katniss, being of age, goes to the selection of the tribute knowing that she or her best friend/boyfriend Gage might end up as tribute, but it is worse than she can even imagine: her younger sister Primrose’s name is called. Unable to bear that thought, Katniss volunteers as tribute in place of her sister and the swap is allowed. From there, the first book (The Hunger Games) takes us through Katniss’s first Hunger Games in which she turns the rules of the game on their collective head. There are two tributes that make it through to the end rather than one, and as such Katniss has caught the imagination of the people of Panem as well as the attention of those in district one who would subdue the rest.

Book two, Catching Fire, brings Katniss and Peeta back into the Hunger Games arena to face winners from past games – in the hopes, clearly, that one of them will defeat her and return order to the districts that are now brimming with hope. Katniss, the Girl on Fire, is becoming a symbol of hope for the people of Panem, and while she and Peeta are being trotted out as a power couple who fell in love against all odds, this is not who Katniss truly is – but Gage has lost hope in their bond. The rebellion is rising and Catching Fire in book two – with the Mockingjay, a symbol of Katniss from the first Hunger Games, as its logo. The “mockingjay” is a hybrid bird used in the conflict to carry messages long distances – you have probably heard the whistle and the song if you saw the movies. Oh, Rue! Too soon.

Finally, in book three which was named for that sweet bird and the pin that Katniss wears – Mockingjay – we see the fruits of the rebellion’s labour, and they are not pretty. Honestly, to read them I found the first book harder to make it through than the third due to the subject matter (teenagers killing other teenagers), but the movies are of course made with the flash-bang in full swing by number three. These books are hard to read at times, uplifting and depressing in equal measure, but they will remind us that if these kids can have hope, so can we. Read them, even if you have seen the movies. They are a stark reminder of what happens with absolute power, and that even the young should have a say in their society.

Guardian: Rise of the Nature Walker

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for Tempest! Read at your own risk.]

The third and final book in the Nature Walker Trilogy dives right in where Tempest left us – is Sath dead? Will Gin get caught in the throne room, holding the weapon? Has Taeben finally managed to separate them for good, and cleared his own path to the throne of Qatu’anari? Will Tairneanach be found out to be complicit?

Gin is the Nature Walker, the supreme druid, the connection between the magic of the All-Mother, Sephine, and the citizens of the Great Forest and beyond. She is a Guardian, a member of a council formed at the end of the Forest War with the purpose of keeping the peace among the races of Orana. How will this knowledge help her against the renewed fervor of Taeben’s plan to rule the world?

You’ll have to read it to find out…and I hope that if you do, you will comment below or review the book on Amazon/Facebook/your blog/anywhere! I love to hear from my readers and from people that love Gin and Sath as much as I do.

Tempest: Fall of the Nature Walker

[This contains spoilers for Wanderer – You have been warned!]

Tempest picks up after the events of Wanderer, and follows Gin and Sath as they go their separate ways – Gin with Taeben, the wizard with mysterious ties to Lord Taanyth in Bellesea Keep and Sath with Annilanshi, the Qatu female who got the Fabled Ones embroiled in conflict with Lady Salynth, the dragonkind sorceress trapped in the Western Tower by ancient magic.

While Anni and Sath settle into their lives in an embassy building on Qatu’anari, Taeben and Gin have, unbeknownst to the Qatu couple, settled into an embassy just up the beach. The wizard is using his connection to the Princess Royal of the Qatu in his master plan to take the throne – a stepping stone to ruling the whole of Orana.

Sath has no interest in his birthright or title. Anni has kept him under the control of her magical charm – at the urging of Taeben, who is keeping Gin subdued under his own ancient magic. It is only Gin’s younger sister, Lairky – who has not forgotten her previous run-ins with the Bane of the Forest – who feels that the exiled prince and her older sister need to find their way back to each other for the good of the Great Forest AND Qatu’anari.

This second installment leads down familiar paths with unfamiliar outcomes. Come back to Orana in Tempest: Fall of the Nature Walker.

Wanderer: Origin of the Nature Walker

Yeah, this is the point where I review my own book.

NOT REALLY! I won’t tell you what I think about it, but I will give you an idea of what it’s about, and then YOU can read it and YOU can come back and review it. Fair?

Welcome to the fictional world of Orana. The Orana Chronicles consists of the Nature Walker Trilogy, the Forest War novels, and some stand-alone novels.  In the tradition of the epic fantasy saga, the books build on each other to create a new and exciting universe, bursting with promise for adventurers brave enough to take up the journey.

Wanderer is the first book in the Nature Walker Trilogy and follows the story of Ginolwenye (Gin, for short), a wood elf that leaves her home in the tree city of Aynamaede and travels to the far ends of her world. She finds herself first with a group of outcasts led by a rogue druid from Gin’s home city, then she is taken in by the Fabled Ones, a guild of adventurers that undertake quests for others (and for their own profit, truth be told). A chance meeting in a tunnel with a Qatu (a race of bipedal felines that were made sentient by Orana’s magic) named Sathlir Clawsharp (Sath, for short) changes the course of Gin’s life – and Sath’s, truth be told.

In Wanderer, Gin is on a path to avenge her parent’s untimely deaths when she comes face to face with an ancient evil lurking in a cursed palace Keep. The Fabled Ones and Sath together may not be strong enough to rescue Gin from the dragon that controls the Keep – and the minions he has conscripted to work out his evil plan to take over Orana.

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

It has just occurred to me that I never made good on my promise to tell you about The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  I honestly thought I had already posted but apparently all my good intentions came to was an empty post in the Draft folder.  Well, nevermind, now’s as good a time as any, right?

In fact, I think it’s a very good thing that it has taken me this long.  You see, when I first finished this incredibly long drawn-out detailed novel,  I hated it.  That is saying something.  There are few books that I’ve read in my life that I’ve absolutely hated and will never open again (The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt being one, a painful lesson in Pretty Covers Do Not Equal Pretty Books or When Gorgeous Covers Happen to BAD Books, but I digress).  With a bit of distance, I don’t hate the book, but I can’t say that I would easily recommend it.

The narration duty alternates between different characters as well as different time periods, which was the first bit I found to be challenging with this book.  The three main narrators span three generations:  a professor/mentor, his student, and later that student’s daughter.  All of them become quite tangled up in the search for the real Vlad Dracul, or Dracula.  The first two narrators (chronologically, in the actual text the narration bounces back and forth quite a bit among the three) are drawn into the search for Dracula by a book that appears in each of their lives.  The third narrator takes up the mantle of her father’s search, both to find him when he disappears as well as to find out more about who he was and has become as a result of the search.

There are strange plot twists and loads of characters, and I have to say I was not at all satisfied with the end but I did not see it coming.  I suppose that is one point in the favor of this tale:  There were plot twists that I saw coming almost from the beginning, but the eventual wrap up of the story wasn’t one of them.  There are loads of characters and relationships…it wasn’t quite the experience of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches that actually required me to draw up a family tree to keep everyone straight, but it was close.  I did learn a great deal about the world during the Cold War, as well as a great deal of vampire lore that I didn’t previously know.  The author definitely did her homework and the facts that she is the daughter of a librarian and a university professor, is married to a Bulgarian scholar, and spent her formative years in Slovenia are all very apparent in her writing.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, then by all means should you get a copy of The Historian and give it a read.  If you’re a fan of modern vampire fiction, it may be a bit dry for you.  But if you’re a vampire fiction buff and have enjoyed Anne Rice and others that wrote about vampires pre-Twilight et al, this may be the book for you.  To be honest, I’m still not sure what I thought of it to the point that I might read it again, and that, I suppose, is the mark of a truly good book…or at the least an intriguing story idea.