Child of a Mad God
Adult Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy
‘Child of a Mad God’ is set in Salvatore’s Corona universe, and this is the first novel in his ‘Coven’ series. Because of this book, I feel the need to go back and read the rest of the Corona books. I have long dismissed Salvatore as a sell-out because of his DnD and Star Wars novelizations. I know now that I have done him and myself a disservice. The book is great reading because of great writing!
Don’t read it if you expect happy endings, do read if you love good characters.
The Crucible- Arthur Miller
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction, Play, Classic
Rating: four moons
As I’m sure you know, this is a play about The Salem Witch Trials. The play is a classic and worth the read, but I felt it had tones or racism and sexism that would have been common in the age that it was written (mid Twentieth Century America). The main text is about 100 pages and worth the read.
Before She Sleeps – Bina Shah
Rating: Four Moons
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Feminist Fiction, light Sci-Fi / Speculative elements
Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
What I liked best: the emotionally depth of the characters
What I liked least: shifting POV narrative + time jumps
The book is marketed as dystopian feminist literature. But as a person not in possession of a uterus; my qualifications as a feminist are zilch. So allow me to rate it from the opposite gender perspective.
Bina has created a world deep and immersive with characters you deeply empathize with. But what struck me, as a man, is how accurately she describes the psyche of her male characters. She posses an understanding that, to be frank, I would not expect from a female. And in truth, I’m sure there are some men in the world who don’t understand men as well as she does.
Will this book join then ranks of great feminist dystopian fiction? I don’t know. But I would say it deserves a more broad audience than to be niched into that category.
The Assassin’s Blade: The Throne of Glass Novellas – Sarah J. Maas
Rating: That is no Moon! (Ok, 3 Moons- keep reading)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Ok, so here’s the deal. I tried to read this book because my wife and daughter love the series so much. They both told me I wouldn’t like it- and dagnabbit they were right.
I really can’t tell you why I didn’t like it, it is well written and well thought out. But I got about fifty pages in and at that point I just didn’t care what happened. In short the book failed to grab my attention in fifty pages, and I have a 2000 page book I’m trying to finish and review by the end of the year.
So here is where we get to the conflicting ratings. By my scale, if I can’t finish a book it gets no Moons. But 3 Moons is the rating for a good enough book if there is nothing better to read. Well, I had something better to read… which made me stop reading this. Maybe I’ll come back to this someday, part of me wants to do that, and if I do I’ll write another review. But I can’t give a dishonest review in the interim.
The take away here is that my wife and daughter know me better than I know myself.
Author Twitter: @SJMaas
Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy – Seymour Reit
Rating: Three Moons and a Gibbous
Genre: Historical Fiction, Juvenile (Ages 10-14)
Basically, this is a book about a young woman who assumed a male identity and enlisted during the American Civil War. While this certainly was not unheard of, Emma’s story stands above the rest for reasons that are explained in the book. And I’ll also say that 1860s America was far less accepting of trans-gender persons, inside or out of the military. So the sheer guts it took for her to do this is worth admiring.
This book was pretty good. I knocked it out in about two hours. My wife got it for me as a birthday gift and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was recommended to her by Amazon, but the Amazon listing (attached below, as always) didn’t say it was a juvenile book. The book is what it is and I sincerely wish I had read it as a child, but as an adult I found the book to be… well, juvenile.
I would not recommend it to adults, but I would recommend it to your kids. Kids who are interested in the time period would find the book entertaining and informative. And kids who aren’t should read it even more.
I make this recommendation as one parent to another with the disclosure that there is one instance of the ‘n’ word being used by a Confederate officer.
Ravenspur: Rise of The Tudors (Wars of The Roses IV) – Conn Iggulden
Rating: Three Moons and a Half
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult
In this final book in his ‘Wars of The Roses’ historical fiction series, Iggulden takes us from the restoration of the Lancaster King Henry VI to the destruction of the York King Richard III at The Battle of Bosworth Field. The book reads as any historical fiction / narrative should by presenting the thrill of the events without diluting their historical value… and then noting where artistic liberties were in fact taken.
Iggulden takes the traditional view of casting Richard III as a villain, down playing and questioning only his traditional depiction as a deformed monster who revels in his own deformity and cruelty. He gives voice to Richard III inner thoughts and in so doing explains how and why he would be compelled to the evils that Iggulden accuses him of. In so doing he does add depth and sympathy to the character that previous historians and artist alike have lacked. Though this probably has as much to do with the modern age of moral ambiguity as it does with modern interpretation of the events. Personally, I reserve judgment on Richard III guilt in the murder of his nephews and Henry VI. After all, who can actually know what happened 500 years later. The Princes in The Tower and the last true Lancaster king could have just as easily been killed by another rival.
Which brings me to my final point, The Tudors. The true artistic value of this book is in that the main characters, Jasper and Henry Tudor / Henry VII are barely mentioned. And Margaret Beaufort is only in two scenes. Just as in the actual events and the history books, the characters who truly benefited and probably organized much of the hidden subterfuge of the Wars of The Roses did so in such a subtle way that artist and historians can only speculate about what isn’t written.
I would definitely recommend this book, and it probably deserves a higher rating than I gave it. But I’m harboring bad feelings over Richard III being, yet again, unjustly depicted as a villain.
Saga of The Sioux (an adaptation of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown) – Dwight Jon Zimmerman
Rating: Four Moons
Genre: Historical JNF
Definitely one of the best non-fiction books I have read in awhile. This YA adaptation of Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is an essential read for everyone. It chronicles the somewhat successful, yet overwhelmingly tragic story of the nearly thirty year on-again/off-again war that the various Sioux bands and their allies fought against the US Government. Spoiler Alert- despite having a morally superior position and decisive victories in the field, the Sioux lose.
I recommend this book to anyone who is (like myself was) only casually aware of the depravity Native Americans suffered during the later half of the 19th Century. And I recommend it even more to anyone who believes in the justification of the policy of Manifest Destiny.
All that said- this is not a historical narrative. It falls some where between a dry text book and a narrative. I had always heard Bury My Heart… was an easy read, and while this book did take me less than a week and is an adaptation- I wouldn’t call it an easy read for your average fiction fan.