Book Reviews Channel

Broken – By Traci L. Slatton – book review

A fallen angel

Imagine feeling a deep and unending loneliness, one that is so strong that it compels you to leave everything you’ve ever known. This is where the main character, Alia, is at – emotionally speaking – at the start of Broken. The loss of a loved one, a person she was deeply connected to, is what started her extreme loneliness. This painful experience has caused her to question why God permits atrocities to happen. One might say she has lost her faith, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate.

Now, reread the first paragraph with the knowledge that Alia is a fallen angel. The emptiness and hopelessness she feels compel her to leave heaven in search of something that will fill her. She becomes a mortal woman and puts herself in a location, and time period, that is certain to evoke strong emotions. Alia is in France as World War II is starting.

Alia seeks solace in th...

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Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon – book review

An angel with glowing wings who is holding a spear glowers

Diablo III: Storm of Light is Nate Kenyon’s second book that was written in the Diablo “universe”. Like his first one, Diablo III: The Order, this book is about situations and adventures that take place just outside of the story you learn as you play through the Diablo III game.  If you ever wondered what happened in between Act IV and Act V in Diablo III, this is the book that has the answers you are seeking.

This book review will not include any “spoilers” from the book.  However, I am going to reference parts of the Diablo III video game.  If you are someone who has not yet completed the game through the end of Act IV, you may want to bookmark this review and return to it after you have seen the cinematic for Act V.

If you are someone who has no intention of playing Diablo III, but who reads books that are filled with the dramatic adventures of a group of heroes, you will like this book.  The book stands alone, while masterfully weaving in lore from other parts of the Diablo III “universe”.  Anyone can pick up Diablo III: Storm of Light even if they know absolutely nothing about the game or the lore that connects with it, and enjoy the adventure and characters in the story.  Those who are knowledgeable about the previous books in the Diablo “universe” are in for some special treats!

When players reach the end of Act IV in the Diablo II...

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – book review

The Scarlet Letter book cover

The first time I read The Scarlet Letter, I was unimpressed. I was fifteen years old, and sitting in a stuffy classroom, dreaming of being anyplace but in my English class. Nothing can kill a great work of literature quicker than being forced to listen to the droning voice of an exhausted high school teacher as she dissects each word and phrase, laying out all the little pieces of meaning for us to observe. It was almost physically painful to sit through.  Decades years later, I came across a copy of The Scarlet Letter, lying on a “free” table in the laundry room where I live, and decided to give the book another try.

Most of us are familiar with the basic story. It’s the 1840s. The setting is Boston, which then was a very conservative small town. Hester Prynne was pregnant, but was not married, and this was absolutely scandalous. It was against the law to be an unmarried mother, so Hester spends time in prison. The book starts the day Hester is let out of prison, carrying her infant daughter in her arms, to a raised scaffold. Part of her punishment includes allowing the entire town to stare at her, the bright red letter A that is affixed to her dress, and her infant.

While standing on...

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Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – book review

Green Eggs and Ham

Do you like green eggs and ham? This is the question “Sam I Am” asks, over and over again, as he strives to convince his friend to try the funny looking, but tasty, dish of green eggs and ham. Green Eggs and Ham is a favorite of many children (and adults love it, too!)

The words rhyme, and the language flows in its own rhythm. There are repetitive passages that help beginning readers figure out the words that are new to them. Preschoolers enjoy the repetition too, because of the way it sounds, and also because it allows them to “read along” with the adult who is sharing the story and reading out loud. There are crazy, cartoon-like illustrations (in the style for which Dr. Seuss is famous) on every page, and they go along perfectly with the action that is taking place.

Things get more and more outlandish as Sam I Am tries to discover the way that his friend might like to eat green eggs and ham. “Do you like them in a box? Do you like them with a fox?” It’s a fun read!

Most children go through a stage where th...

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Skinny by Diana Spechler – book review

Skinny book cover

Skinny, at first glance, looks like a “beach read”.  The cover shows two young women/teenagers wearing swimsuits.  Their arms are linked, and they are at the beach.  The story in this book, however, is not just a “fluffy summer read”.  It covers some very deep and serious concepts including body image, eating disorders, and how the guilt a person carries can influence her actions.

The book places the reader directly inside the head of the main character, Gray Lachmann.  She is 26 years old, struggling to cope with her father’s death, and stuck in a pattern of compulsive eating.  She believes that she has killed her father, and is completely consumed by guilt.  Almost on an impulse, she decides to become a counselor at a summer weight loss camp for children and teens in the hopes that it will change her life.  Things do not go as expected, and this is both good and bad.

Gray grew up being very close...

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Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon – book review

Diablo III The Order book cover

This review of Diablo III: The Order by Nate Kenyon was originally posted on the blog for the Shattered Soulstone podcast. I have been given permission to crosspost it here.  The review was first posted on May 5, 2012. Therefore, the original blog noted that the book was “coming soon”. It is now 2014, and the book has been available for about two years. Therefore, I have taken out that portion of the review. It just seemed silly to start this review here with “coming soon” in reference to a book that was released on 2012.

Diablo III: The Order was written by Nate Kenyon. It is the first book that was written with a connection to the Diablo III game. This is not the first time that Nate Kenyon has written for Blizzard.  He is also the author of Starcraft Ghost: Specters. However, Diablo ...

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The Copper Promise by Jen Williams – book review

The Copper Promise book cover

Before you read this review any further you should be aware of two things. I am acquainted with the author and would consider her a friend and the book is not currently easily available in the US.

With those caveats stated, I really enjoyed the novel. It highlights something that I didn’t know was missing in modern fantasy fiction. A sense of fun.

Our heroes are a pair of mercenaries, worldly thief Wydrin and disgraced former knight Sebastian, who are hired by the revenge-fuelled nobleman Lord Frith to guide him through a labyrinth which promises power at the centre. What initially seems like a quick way to make some coin goes wrong and soon the three have awakened something which threatens the entire world.

As the book starts it comes across in the same vein as a classic pulp story similar to Conan author Robert E. Howard. The tone is one of a generally light-hearted romp and since we start in a mysterious labyrinth it has a feel of a transcript of someone else playing D&D. Soon however we enter some dark and genuinely disturbing areas that Howard would never have touched and would never have got away with in the heyday of the pulp magazines. If the idea of torture disturbs you then perhaps this is not the book for you.

Throughout the book there are very modern ideas mixed with very old ideas. The story has a modern attitude to homosexuality and one nation in this world seems to have been taking lessons from Karl Marx. At the same time the religious life of the world has an animistic feel to it which gives a mythological tone. The world building is excellent and highlights another thing which I didn’t know was wrong with modern fantasy fiction. This book does not have a giant map taking up the first few pages, yet it doesn’t matter. As a reader you are immersed in this world and can see clearly in your imagination the geography and culture of the setting.

There is so much invention on display here. One type of creature which shows up at the beginning I have honestly never seen in a fantasy novel, and while most of the ideas and concepts which make up this world have been done before, they have rarely been used like this and rarely have been put front and centre in the story. Using self-mutilation or words written on the body as a source of power has never seemed so fresh. It’s also nice to have a world where alchemy lives side-by-side with demons. In the 50 plus years major fantasy novels have been published there is nothing new to write, but Jen Williams comes close to providing a new spin on old ideas.

While the world is fresh, t...

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1984 by George Orwell – book review

1984 book cover

The book 1984, by George Orwell, is an incredibly depressing dystopia about what it is like to live under a totalitarian government that wants to control absolutely everything – including people’s thoughts.  Written in 1949, the book describes a bleak, hopeless, future.  The reader views it all through the eyes of the main character, Winston Smith.  It is the book where the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” originated.

The first time I read t...

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The Sin War: Book Three: The Veiled Prophet by Richard A. Knaak – book review

The Sin War Book 3 The Veiled Prophet book cover

This review of The Veiled Prophet, the third book in The Sin War trilogy, first appeared on the blog of the Shattered Soulstone podcast. I have been given permission to cross-post it here.

You should read the first two books in The Sin War series before you read The Veiled Prophet. It will make a lot more sense that way. This review might have some “spoilers” in it. It is almost impossible to write about the third book in a trilogy without giving something away. I did my best to keep the “spoilers” to a minimum, however.

The Sin War is a trilog...

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Stones Skipping on Water by Richard Taylor – book review

Stones Skipping On Water Book Cover

Have this ever happened to you? You meet a complete stranger, and for some unexplained reason, it feels like you have known that person your whole life. The two of you connect right away, and one of the first conversations you have includes the phrase: “Where do I know you from?” Sometimes you find out that you used to attend the same school years ago, or that you briefly met at some party through some mutual acquaintance, and you forgot. Sometimes, though…. there is no explanation for the bond that you and this stranger are feeling. It happens to a lot of people. It certainly has happened to me! This is the kind of experience that leads people to explore religious and mystical ideas about what, exactly, is the source of this strong connection. It is this intriguing concept that is explored in Stones Skipping on Water.

John Kincaide attends an art show, and sees the beautiful Vanessa Dean for the first time. The two are instantly attracted to each other, and this attraction quickly leads to a passionate relationship. Vanessa has been making art that centers around her need to find a familiar face in a crowd, and then exploring that connection. Each of the lovers has found a little piece of what was missing from their lives in the other person, as lovers often do.

Their bliss is br...

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