Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars 2007 4*

Two members of Sherlock Holmes' (Jonathan Pryce) street urchin gang (Ben Smith, Mia Fernandez) are kidnapped by a vicious murdering Irene (Anna Chancellor). The audience can identify with the apprentices, absorbing forensic techniques pushed forward by Doyle, leading international true crime consultant.

In book, Adler is deviously clever, hotly passionate. Here, why does she learn embalming from scratch, execute perfectly first and only time, so glass eye rolls across hotel room rug? A simple head silhouette would do.

I like this more understated realistic presentation than longtime actor Brett's swoopy tadara extravagance. Downey-Law 2009 explodes with cartoon action, more humor. Cumberbatch TV series updates Doyle. (Also stars Bill Paterson).

Sherlock Holmes 1 2009 5* - Downey, Law, McAdams

In honor of the 2011 Downey/Law sequel Game of Shadows, I'm catching up on Holmsian books and films. Fast, furious, fun, frenetic, and authentic, including the soundtrack. Doyle's scholastic, almost pompous, duo are here mischievous rambunctious boys. The method, buildings matched to symbolic animals, is unnecessarily tangled, best reduced to Holmes deductions from Lord Coward's clothing ruffles for the climax confrontation site and solving the ginger midget's conjuring tricks.

Open scene is hot double-barrelled chase and fight to capture Lord Blackwood mid-murder in a Gothic romance sacrifice ceremony. I've seen the whole before, but only recall fights, chases, and explosions, and enjoy enough for more - costumes, architecture, nuances. Clever film effects and sound show the detective's intense focus on detail, and the worst flame-bath effectively pierces and dulls our hearing too. Holmes reasons away devil magic and resurrection with science. Although the final fate of the villain in a storm does suggest divine retribution. I could do without the recurring Poe raven. After repeated watching, I guess it to be the called-for devil demanding his due.

The dim soft gray-brown palette evokes early photographs, suits smoky Victorian London, a character herself; the conversational style is reminiscent of the books. "Give me problems. Give me work." "food for thought" Dialogue and decoding scratches on a watch are straight from "The Sign of Four". Details, such as boxing, martial arts, inventions, untidy flat, VR initials gunshot into the wallpaper, attention to detail, conceit, and wit "fast women and slow horses" are true to Doyle. Various cases lend quotes, some in different context. The greatest adaptation differences are to do with the women. In Sign of Four, the men meet Mary together without conflict or jealousy. Irene Adler, bright in crimson satin and lush lips, is tempting competitive love interest.


The doomed multiple murderer warns Holmes of a larger web, is hanged, and appears to rise from the grave, replaced with a body sought by the fascinating Irene Adler, employed unwillingly by the arch-villain Moriarty, a hint for the sequel.

Sherlock TV S1 2010 5* - Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman

The humorous, dangerous, very British BBC UK 2010 version updated Doyle with internet and mobile phones, revived my interest in Doyle's classic Victorian murder mysteries promoting early forensics and deductive solutions. Surprisingly, old and new Watson (Freeman) are both injured veterans of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The city of London is still an old character.

Cumberbatch has a lighter, less melodramatic interpretation than Jeremy Brett and not caught in explosions like Downey. Study in Pink is loosely based on Study in Scarlet, (Spoiler? having a choice of pills, placebo or poison, and a hack-cab driver hiding in plain sight). I was glad to see PBS and BBC-America bring my favorites over the pond.

Free books - updated Nov 2013

* on newest entries. In alphabetical order, not preference.
Kobo and Kindle now have free programs to read their books on your PC or phone, without buying ereader. Adobe reads epub files has color illustrations, used by Libraries and Kobo. (Bug: Windows Vista has to use old 1.7 version.)
Free reads .doc on PC without MS Word. Libraries have ebooks, paper, audio. Categories overlap. Comments welcome to keep current - winners, washouts, warnings.

BEST free eBooks with most: choice, formats (even audio), images Classics - Austen, Dickens, Doyle, Nesbit, Twain, Verne, fairy tales

Features / Limitations: obscure paper too, ship free, vast choice
*** updated to here Apr 2017 ePub, Kobo, Kindle, online Russian bios, online only, Novik, Tolkein
FreeSF sci-fi free ebooks defines words, finds books with words many formats, free previews, unwieldy free catalog - no search by author or genre collect own shelf, read/ search sample inside pages online only current best-sellers online, Canada copyright law, <=3K+ from 750 authors not WikiSource or Wiki-owned online, U.S. copyright law, <=280K+ Covers, audios, redirects. redirect, Cory Doctorow refers to google books illustrated, search author Barnes & Noble
* many formats audio Christianna Brand Nurse Matilda (Nanny McPhee) also audio e, audio, paper

Specialized writer group sites. Previews, contests, free. Some works in progress. fantasy
belgravehouse romance short stories obscure html register, works in progress read online, sign in to make collections: Margery Allingham - Albert Campion mysteries, H.E. Bates A House of Women, Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes, Allan Pinkerton detective, P.G. Wodehouse register, know title register, search author, title mostly short stories romance, 4 font sizes register, full books, contests
Robert J. Sawyer short stories and excerpts Sherlock Holmes register, writers before famous romance

Contests: contests


Publishers - excerpts, or if author offers free title free ship
* 3 Free change, others excerpts Adult filter

Single author websites. Search internet for your own favorites by author name. William Bentrim, trustworthy, amazing illustrated "childrens" for all ages untested Cory Doctorow modern fantasy, web activist Canadian funny politics ("You know why zombies won't attack Parliament? They want to eat brains" Ajay, Innerspace)
fablefaerie.blogspot YA romance contests Sherlock Holmes canon

Kobo flexible eReader also accepts ePub, Adobe files from many sources (baen, gutenberg, others). Kobo has free programs to read ebooks on your PC or cell without their ereader. Free OpenOffice reads .doc Word files on my PC.

Kindle now has programs to read on PC, phone
Amazon Top 100 free misleads, no Nooks

Pay, not free, need proprietary eReader. Kobo reads .epub .pdf ; Barnes & Noble says Nook reads .doc .epub .pdf (Adobe) after installing Adobe Digital Editions, but I cannot test; Kindle now has program like Adobe Digital Editions to read Kindle books on PC pay, Kindle pay pay, Nook
iTunes maybe free but register needs credit card
Texts include others - buy, sell, rent. not free, cheap

No. Not advised. May be legitimate, most not. Site-title gone, ask register sign in confidential data, redirect to sites where pay, trial cost, buy device. Bait-switch scam. register pdf files removed, pakistani German Buy books get free bonus strange download odd download unreadable epub on Kobo Desktop register strange download, ordinary google-type search iLivid download, why? audio sponsored links restricted strange install signin, pay

ShiftControl+ enlarges online font display; ShCtrl- shrinks.
CtrlSh may also switch French and English keyboards.

Check restrictions, fine print, currency exchange, tax, customs, shipping costs.
(UPS does not deliver to PO Box, my address.) US to Canada calculator.

add-on ePub reader for Firefox/Mozilla browser Untested
Converter .doc .epub .pdf - Have not found good one. Wise spaces too far and stamps name.
Paper books. Incomplete online, use telephone yellow pages.
- libraries: private, public, travel (condo, cruise ship, hostel USA
- used book stores and sites fun in person, free happy user, international mail more points praise in Comments below

Copyrights run out different years (50-100) after December of author's death. Protection ends according to originating country if they adhere to Berne shorter term convention: Canada 50; EU (most) 70; Mexico 100; Japan, Russia. No shorter term: Brazil, China; Colombia 80; US 75 (after 1923).

In essence, a designated heir, family or not, owns works created by their ancestor (aka bequeather-legator-testator). As Canada-based editor for US-based Wiki and Gutenberg, responsible internet users of text and images, I tried to summarize international laws here. For laws, see current local websites.

Review: The Lens and the Looker

The Lens and the Looker
The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The Lens and the Looker" (History Camp 1) by Lory Kaufman could be x-rated for chopped-off finger and sword-slain soldiers. I like the premise, rebellious adolescents find out how good present lives are compared to a dirty smelly dangerous past. But they never learn self-reliance, how to reason and decide individually, discover and act on strengths, find and bolster friend's frailties in teamwork, expose and exploit enemy weakness. They always follow rules and their AI tutor. Research details and awkward translations are mostly parroted from AI, better when incorporated seamlessly.
Excerpts from #2 are highlights, more intriguing than straight first chapter, but personally I almost identify more with the confused yearning ugly Ugi. I know their future is safe. Perhaps if backstory shows that characteristics scamps may get in trouble for, say taking apart machinery, overhearing and copying secrets, or interpreting adult double-talk, lead to current triumphs?
Teen trio in 2437 are sentenced to reform at hard-time History camp as 1347 Verona orphan apprentices to a refugee lensmaker and family, but sneak in Pan, a genii, hologram AI created by hackers with propensity to provoke trouble, their deus ex machina. Hansum 17 exchanges long kisses with the daughter of the house and talks up technical plans drawn by portrait sketcher Shamira 15 who cooks and cleans superbly, while Lincoln 14 cleans and organizes the workroom, says more "zippy" than "Jesus/God", after clouts from their new Master. Their first stunt, laxative dose the noble, is not funny, if you've been around or performed stinky air cleanup from explosive bouts of the real thing: body, clothes, floor, walls, crevices, furniture. Their next feat risks their own existence and the fate of the world, inventing the telescope and weapons ahead of time. After initial mouthiness, they show no evidence of criminality, follow directions fully from their new AI and comply all-round. They are sappy naive from the start, on their own no match for opposing nasty murdering prince and conniving nobles. Chase and combat are lively, but feel more prerequisite than spontaneous.

When they are sure rescuers will not save them, from changing time, they continue inventing. Illogical.)

Regarding the 1347 Verona telescope (looker) cardboard parts - corrugated paper was invented in 1800s England, cardstock heavyweight paper I couldn't find an origin, and parchment in Italy was probably costly goatskin.

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Review: The Truth About Love

The Truth About Love
The Truth About Love by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The Truth About Love" (Cynsters, Barnaby 1) by Stephanie Laurens. "In the heat of the night, they'd burned. Soared. Shattered." Lots of exposure before the murderer's identity.
Deeply serious artists with seriously deep pockets, Lord Gerrard (landscapes) must paint Lady Jacqueline (embroidery) to prove true innocence in her mother's fatal fall into the sinister Gothic Garden of Night. Mutually entranced by deep eyes-endowments-charms-neckline, breath-stops betray their first-glance L-word. I languish in lush multi-syllable language depicting rich old aristocratic Britain. Bon mots may not be original "What will be will be" p375, are catchy, "such as I don't follow fashion ... We set it" p67. Pal Barnaby, curious about crimes, convinces me to stay the distance, despite others' sardonic "indeed" that incongruously reminds me of Stargate's sober Tealc. Strong brave men are comfort, protect passive women vessels. (I rate tough funny females higher; sadly identify more with weaklings. For the younger naive girl to not think of marriage first seems foolish, not forceful.) The disclosure hostage rescue finale reveals warped crazy deviant villains.
Huntress Greek Artemis is Roman Diana, Athena is also a virgin (protector), so three separate gardens seem redundant. If Gerrard's ominous dream is ignored anyway p11, couldn't an editor have cut the portent?)

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Review: I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In "I Shall Wear Midnight" by (Sir!2009) Terry Pratchett, witch Tiffany, at 16, wants to don black only when old. Yet, for her home Chalk, she already decides life or death, such as when a drunk villager attempts suicide after beating his pregnant daughter to birth. She's wise beyond years, even advising on "passionate parts" as fun fact rather than salacious description, so the rating is not x, restricted.
An evil witch-hunter spectre infects and inhabits the most susceptible. (I miss any menace in name "the Cunning Man", but stink worse than pigsty is some smell - cleared my fellow schoolbus riders away from the farmkids next-door.) Even her vaunted wee kilted Feegle protectors cannot fight vicious rumors. They can repair (maybe front to back) what they destroy in jubilant rowdiness. I'm happy to see them again.
I missed or don't remember her off-again rescue and romance with the Baron's heir (now stuffy stick) Roland, so his wedding to a (tearful) blonde in white ("Letitia! What a name. Halfway between a salad and a sneeze."), and attentive erudite Guard Preston ("I was unfortunately born clever, miss, and I've learned that sometimes it's not such a good idea to be all that clever") have not so much emotional impact. The lad who can banter p204 about conundrum, shibboleth and her favorite, susurruation, holds promise in her destiny, despite swearing "I will marry you" p260 to the other.
Omens grow tedious; oracles seem like a poor substitute for convincing believability. Cameos are a bit much when I've been away from Discworld awhile.
"Learning ia about finding out who you are, what you are, where you are and what's over the horizon, and, well, everything. It's about finding the place where you fit." p329

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Review: King John of Canada

King John of Canada
King John of Canada by Scott Gardiner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"King John of Canada" by Scott Gardiner is a 1-2* tragedy: heroic buildup (3* I like), wasteful end (0* I hate). The narrator, self-imposed suffering in dangerous icy isolation, lends gravitas to a cockamamee crash of federal Canada political rut, then suicidal guilt. Et tu, Blue? Suspense weighs down into painful doom. Our hero rises slowly, in glimpses. I do not like the second-last chapter, his unnecessary end in a twisted Camelot knock-down by jealous deliberation, amid blurry Red Yank rambles. I liked the beginning, cleverness saves Canada, not the end, bad wins. The author's philosophy is: "sex and conflict" p204 are news; "politicians create problems" p205; "bad news sells" p206.
A crown lottery-winner meets the Toronto mayor declaring secession. The couple have brilliance, brains, courage, charisma, daring, passion, compassion, luck. They spark off each other to scorch away the sluff of centuries. Real present issues are solved ("mirror diplomacy" (give us what you get) for Quebec partisans p147, geese droppings p163, conservative conservationists p169, control of guns that kill men, not animals p180, "applauding our troops" p287).
"All history is accident" p38 is disproved by the smallest gesture (twitch, opened button, daily vitamin) that direct the plot. Famous politician quotes p70, I disagree, associate Trudeau with "fuddle duddle".
Like comedy "The High Road" by Terry Fallis, this governs Canada starting with a naked woman in a boathouse upstairs bedroom, but takes a winding low dark descent. It dares: Now you know where I was going, read me again. I prefer heaven to hell, yet wish we could have authors' solutions.

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Review: The High Road

The High Road
The High Road by Terry Fallis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

#2 High Road excerpt
"The High Road" (Angus 2) by Terry Fallis is the campaign direction whereby the Angus effect, candidate integrity, tops important voter issues, defeats muckrakers. Like Gardiner's tragedy "King John of Canada", both narrated by second-in-command, this comedy starts with a naked woman in a boathouse bedroom window. Unlike apparent ramble-cum-portent influence on which to blame his doom and betrayal for downfall of all good, she is part of a team. Brave, capable, caring ladies and male equals better the world. The author keeps me on my toes with correct usage - taciturn p157, irrespective p210 at this point OR at this time, seldom both p224 - made-up announcible p156 - split infinitives (to boldly go from Best Laid Plans #1).
Angus ("looks like Charles Darwin in a force nine gale" p90) stands for federal Liberal candidate willingly this time, supported by "clean-cut Joe" p90 narrator Dan. Many chapters wake to the young aide happily entwined with lovely Lindsay, and close with journal entries from the 61-year old still grieving widowed curmudgeon. Serious balances sweet and slapstick silly. The chain-punk Petes now coordinate volunteers p53. Author blog says third book written. If the new PM is coming around, I expect his "operative ... with the apt initials B.S." p202 to fulfill threat "powerful enemy" with intense "hate on" p318.

Vivid vignettes:
Interview-tamed hair accelerated-time explodes to Tchaikovsky 1812 p87
Coal-miner cursing p206 Muriel, 81, and GOUT (Geriatrics Out to Undermine Tories) squad p99 barrage a dirtbag speaker appropriately and with cookies p150, then barricade and beribbon Tory loudspeaker Hummer p166.
Bottomless round man pops from square air vent p153.
Bearded snowsuit "geriatric sasquatch" p204 hoists unseen up onto bridge joists, drops back "direct hit on my dreams of future fatherhood" p193
Angus drags behind the hovercraft p57, then emerges with drunk frosted frantic First Lady heads-first p280

"short trip from 'do it yourself to 'blew it yourself'" p21
"waffling so much I could almost smell maple syrup" p27
"we have buttered our bread and must now lie in it" p210
"if I'd had more time I would have written less - Mark Twain" p237

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Review: Inkdeath

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"Inkdeath" (Inkheart3) by Cornelia Funke wallows in negatives - pain, agony, grief, resentment, jealousy, revenge, uncertainty. Bookbinder Mo has taken on the outlaw Bluejay identity, and protects wife Resa and daughter Meggie living on the run with the Black Prince, robbers, refugees and Motley Players. Each wants the others to return to the mundane world, while they sneak off alone on an ill-planned mission/ rescue in the fictional Inkworld. Aunt Elinor is "wallowing in misery" p113 "stuffing herself with the words on the age like an unhappy child stuffing itself with chocolate." p114 until she convinces Darius to read them inside the book too.
The plot feels like a tangled skein dropped into mud. Carefully colored individual strands snarl and tug. Orpheus uses his powerful read-to-life ability for evil against Dustfinger. Once we know the White Ladies of Death will bargain, death loses sting. So many quick cameos. Old author Finaglio writes up a couple of quick saves. Magpie poisons bodies and minds. Resa learns more than herbs from her. The final savior is unexpected.
Feelings overflow, almost poetry. I'd like to see more Chris Riddell-like illustrations. "The words danced with the pictures and the pictures sang for the words, singing their colorful songs." p109
How does Farid write his name on p119 if he doesn't know his letter AI on p120?

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Review: Changes

Changes by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Changes" (Collegium 3) by Mercedes Lackey. Mags' retained rube accent, his Mind-speak to better-than-horse, interfering reminiscences, and nasty fathers of healer Bear and Bard Lena, are less annoying than before, especially when a more pro batch of assassins are back after him and his crush, crippled Amily. Sample p51 "Be careful what ye ast fer, yer like t'get it, an' in the wust possible way."
Classic morals sneak in, to appreciate your lot, "even he, miserable creature that he had been, was able to see the breathtaking beauty in a summer morning. Now he was well-fed, healthy,, and - yes- happy."p53
Being a sometimes night-owl, I like "if people who lie abed late have any idea what they are missing ... they'd jest say 'tis same as sunset. On'y i' th' East." p53-4 "Hope for the best, expect nothing." p83 "'Tis all askin' th' right questions. Then makin' sure when ye ask 'em, there's plenty of people ... used to thinking." p113 "Change is painful." p265 "Who am I? ... Who do you want to be?" p267
Typo "You did will tonight." p185 should by "well".

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Review: Nowhere Near Respectable

Nowhere Near Respectable
Nowhere Near Respectable by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Nowhere Near Respectable" (5* Lost Lords 3) by Mary Jo Putney. Rakish club-owner Damien helps half-Hindoo (sic) Lady Kiri escape smugglers, then they foil a French plot to kidnap Princess Charlotte and assassinate all the Regency royals. Historical detail about the overprotected British-beloved teen is seamlessly woven into the tale of escalating explicit passion and danger. Plucky independent females ahead of their time who banter with male equals in courage is trademark Putney.

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Review: Thank You, Jeeves

Thank You, Jeeves
Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Thank you, Jeeves" by PG Wodehouse, is flash aristo Wooster's reply when his fish-fed-brained valet returns to the fold after they happily engage his land-rich pal to American heiress. The un-neighborly reception for his banjolele enthusiasm instigates another 30s silly country rustication escapade with crisp spot-on repartee.
Scamp Seabury imitates gangster movies, and extorts shillings for protection. Brinkley, drunk agency replacement valet, burns down cottages. Dogged country policemen roust Bertie out of his makeshift dosses when lovesick ex Pauline swims for her new crush Chuffy from her pop's big yacht.
Blackening faces in imitation of jazz minstrels was not then so politically incorrect. Mastery of flapper-era slang, proper high English, literary quotations, all so correct. Moral is the original French usage now spelled morale p241. (Library Binding ISBN 3 2441 15948028 2, Hardcover 312p, Pub McLelland & Stewart, Toronto 1934)

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Review: Dealing with Dragons

Dealing with Dragons
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Dealing with Dragons" (Enchanted Forest Chronicles 1) by Patricia Wrede begins a sweet 5* series; I already smiled my way through the rest. This gem may be my favorite, a cherry among bittersweetest chocolates, because the silliness never falls overboard, just tickles my funnybone. Along the lines of Mercedes Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms, Princess Cimorene rebels against Tradition. Her parents stopped her beloved lessons: fencing, cooking, Classics, any intellectual or physically improving learning. So she ran away.
TO the dragons. Luckily, she knew just enough for Kazul; to sort and catalog her Latin scrolls, library and treasures; to supplement a guest banquet from the borrowed Horn of Plenty with Cherries Jubilee.
Fatalities are simple, quick - wizard eaten, dragon King poisoned - without superfluous violence or gore. Dragons are human-ish (good may succumb to temptation), wizards bad, and royals can be more than decoration. Alternative use for lemony washwater: Banzai! She makes friends: another princess and witch Morwen with many cats. She cleverly outwits a jinn, and conspiring enemies. Her happy ending is better than marriage, for her.)

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Review: Searching for Dragons

Searching for Dragons
Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Searching for Dragons" (5* Enchanted Forest 2) by Patricia Wrede begins when the 20-year old King wants to heal scorched ruins drained of magic energy by wicked wizards to provoke suspicion and war against dragons. My only difficulty to criticize is long names, never abbreviated even in affection, so I attempt none.
A lovely princess, smart and brave, not the usual other simpering woe-is-me sillies seeking marriage, helps to find and free her friend, the female King of Dragons. They give and get aid along the way via a manner-proper squirrel, a pretty witch with cats, a sneezing giant with a faulty riding carpet, a renamed Rumpelstiltskin baby-sitter, a pontificating curious brilliant young wizard, and more funny imaginative flights. They temporarily melt nasty wizards, using lemony soapy water, handy to clean resulting goo or dirty dishes.
Unlike many current series, I am wholly satisfied by the self-contained volume, that neither depends on a prequel, which is not in my library, nor requires a sequel.
Appropriate to a juvenile audience, morality is straightforward. Pretty may be silly, help may be unreliable, but scraggly beards are always bad, especially accompanied by rich robes and polished wood staffs. So what if the raiment was dusty and tattered, or short and childish, or the rod was missing, hidden, changed or disguised? I'd like to read a similar adult-oriented style.
Happy ending wedding).

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Review: Calling on Dragons

Calling on Dragons
Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*** (docked for the exasperating donkey) "Calling on Dragons" (5* Enchanted Forest 3) by Patricia Wrede follows the search for the source of the Forest's power, the King's magic sword, stolen by evil wizards. As usual, the names are too long and strange for me. Young (20ish) friends from the series team up: the newly pregnant Queen, the lecturing magician, the pretty witch, her talking cats, the female King of Dragons, plus new members, irritable fire-witch brother to Rachel (aka Rapunzel), and a too-annoying whiny giant winged blue donkey (formerly white rabbit), whom I dislike. Hints of familiar fairy tales reincarnate amusingly, but the true ending is in the next book I luckily already read.

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Review: Talking to Dragons

Talking to Dragons
Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Talking to Dragons" (EF 4) by Patricia Wrede is the first-person tale of 16-year old fatherless Daystar's quest. Mother melts a threatening wizard, hands her puzzled son a magic sword, and sends him off through the forest. A pretty fire-witch learning manners and a sneezing baby dragon join him in funny escapades with a whiny princess, awkward knight, lizard, elfs, dwarfs, caves, and more, until a final major battle to save the king in the castle.

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Review: Mairelon the Magician

Mairelon the Magician
Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Mairelon the Magician" (1), by Patricia Wrede (already 5* for Dragon series), is a warm witty clever wizard masquerading as a caravan amateur, who plays sculptor Pygmalion to train 17ish boyish pauper Kim. To clear the toff's name, they seek a set of enspelled silver dishes and original London thieves from five years ago. I got a tad annoyed, tangled in names and relationships, shifty and silly shenanigans, lost track who said who did what where. How could interfering Lady Granleigh decide "quickly", without talent, that her platter was fake p265 ? A train of wannabe light-fingers troop through dark library "better than a Drury Lane" comic farce, as is the hostage shoot-out finale where all converge, disguises fall, mystery solved.
Elegant deceptive French Renee recognizes Kim is a girl immediately. I look forward to her chaperone role to come, her oolala influence on Kim's cant. (Typo p153 "more that a little bit on the go" should be "than".)
Accents and phrasing amuse. I like the conclusion "After this, anything might happen. Anything at all."

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Review: The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The Lost Hero" appears to be another Rick Riordan Greek gods of Olympus book, good even out of order, really ****, if I did not feel angry, set up, forced to buy in more. But previous hero Percy vanishes, and we only find out where he went on the very last line. Jason appears, with memory missing except for things Roman. He is recognized as son of mighty king Zeus, and leads another satyr guardian, annoying enough I would sacrifice, and his new best friends, pretty Piper, daughter of lovely Aphrodite, and inventive Leo, son of Hephaestus. Again, the quest has two goals, outwardly to rescue Queen Hera, secretly for Piper's dad. Humor, adventure, and history triumph so I checked out the author's adult fiction, and moved on. His first Percy series is 5* fun, but he's pushed his luck.

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Review: Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever

Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever
Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever by Greg Cox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like me, author Greg Cox fell in love with bantering Pete, conscientious Myka, cocky Claudia, bushy-browed professorial Artie, (serene Leena ...), nails their unique voices, spider-webs opening TV shot of main Warehouse 13 spooky shelves deep into mountain warrens. Special effect lightning explosions, even supernatural scents of fudge, then pineapple, push print maybe ahead of screen for vivid sense stimulation.
After a fear and fun piratical chantey opener, agents cross country chasing carnie healer and typhoid. Vengeful totem escapes Dark Vault. Artifacts bring historical trivia to life, terrify and creatively save when our team plays. Red Baron plane brings the final battle to Manhattan Park. Sparks escalate to thunderstorms and earthquake from dying Pete.
At first, annoying references to other cases sounded like Arthur Conan Doyle inventions, then tweak memories of past shows. Star Trek notes echo both author experience and suit series fantasy flavor. I hope to see more on screen and in print.
Typical banter p248 "Remember that time a job went easier than we expected? ... me neither."
Early questionable typos. Is Myka's hair brunette p10, auburn p11, or black (TV,dye?)? Does a security lock sound "chip" p19 open or cheep? "Starting" p32 should be "started". Ubiquitous smalltown elms p123 & earlier were decimated in 1967, started comeback 2007 to replace infected ash replacements. Protected by proximity to protective influence?

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Review: A Conspiracy of Kings

A Conspiracy of Kings
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"A Conspiracy of Kings" (Thief 4) by Megan Whelan Turner is how this book ends, but results more from long-range planning by their god(esse)s. I like the basic plot best of the series - reluctant poetry reader kidnapped, chooses to grow up and accept responsibility. "Sounis knew that sometimes his mind worked like a pig stuck in mud, but at other times, conclusions seemed to strike like lightning, one bolt after another." Despite shifting point of view, action, fights, escapes, propel the reader along.
At first unclear who is narrating, to whom addressing. Speaker Sophos reminisces, distractingly, about book 1 quest, as Sounis mage apprentice, befriending thief-now-king Gen. The Sounisians agree Gen was hiding his true self beneath whining complaints. Since Gen narrated, I am skeptical and do not want to have to re-read to verify. When the next section shifts perspective to third person, we realize to whom the first part is reporting. Less confusing to read than explain, so I won't count the hint as spoiler.

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Review: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" by Terry Pratchett is a fun take on the pied piper tale, fast and clever, as long as he's not philosophizing about the meaning of life and such. Talking con-man cat convinces enchanted Changelings, thinking rat tribe, and "looks-stupid" boy piper Keith to take on one last Uberwald village. Mayor's daughter Malicia looks at life as if everything fits in a familiar story-line. Whereas in "real life ... when someone small and righteous takes on someone big and nasty, he is grilled bread product very quickly". At least she can pick the lock into the Rat-catcher guild headquarters and disclose the evil. Co-operation (and benevolent diety) make the whole stronger than individuals, such as Keith, who claims "I'm the kind of person heroes aren't. I get by and I get along. I do my best."
"You pretend that rats can think, and I promise to pretend that humans can think too." The rat leader convinces the mayor to compromise.

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Review: The Untamed Bride

The Untamed Bride
The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"The Untamed Bride" (Black Cobra 1/4) by Stephanie Laurens starts (March 1822) a new series about corrupt English aristocrats (funding Regency King George) who pillage villages in India. When the youngest of a group of elite Guard "soliders" (typo p11) is typically tortured and killed finding incriminating papers sealed with the villains' unique family ring, the remaining quartet split up with copies and head for home and Cynster support. A beguiling female entangles each in passion. First, Deliah sees the evil aide shoot at Del. Kisses ("Finding.") lead to "shattered" in flowing explicit detail. I'm sure Major Hamilton and Emily Ensworth will hit the heights equally in sequel. When I read summaries, I usually remember. In "Temptation and Surrender", manor Lord Jonas hires Emily (Beauregard), on obviously identically penned references, when he falls for her smile, to run the local inn, with her step-siblings in tow. Excellent 50ish page supplement universe includes more Barnaby Adair cases I couldn't find before.

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Review: Down These Strange Streets

Down These Strange Streets
Down These Strange Streets by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"Down These Strange Streets" is 16 supposedly detective short stories, mostly gruesome, spooky, scary, rather than puzzle-solvers. If you like Charlaine Harris, "Death by Dahlia" has a petite powerhouse vampire fond of naked romping and solving murder. "Beware the Snake" by John Maddox Roberts has Roman Decius Caecilius, brother-in-law of Emporer Cesar, solve a missing temple venomous reptile and poisoned priest. Lisa Tuttle starts with clever Victorians, Miss Lane and Mr. Jesperson, like Watson and Sherlock, then degenerates to possessed artifacts "The Curious Affair of the Deodand". Gabaldon's Lord John in Jamaica, and Denton's Papa Hemingway in a remote WW2 Inuit outpost are islands, not "urban" as the cover claims. Laurie King's salamander-humans and Igguldon's anti-Holocaust spirit promote tolerance better than same-sex lecture-layer from Patricia Briggs, nagging that has worn out my interest in Dozois (co-)edited books.

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Review: Killing Floor

Killing Floor
Killing Floor by Lee Child

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Killing Floor" (Jack Reacher 1) by Lee Child has a couple meanings, one the prison level where our innocent hero faces a painful end. X-rated. A cop's smile leads to a bedroom invite. Foreign counterfeiters gruesomely obliterate leads, always one bloody grisly (and gristly) step ahead of our guy. Every loose end is tied off, including solution to decades-old needless murder that first intrigued Jack to stop in Margrave. Ten days to stop the villains, or die.
US Treasury chief Joe left close-in-childhood ex-Army brother Jack, clues, starting with a too-shiny Southern town, where a senile barber claims $1,000 week income from no customers. My first read, one of the traitors was such a shock, this time I recognized the double-dealer right away. I kept reading, maybe dreamt a warning, because Jack is a good guy. He knows it. We know it. Still surprises. I know the ending will be bittersweet, but I want that relief of beating the Sunday deadline, when the Coastguard cannot stop the smugglers. Even knowing part of the solution, recognizing clues sooner, I enjoy Child's writing.
How does Jack get around without income or owning a car in rural America? or take down superior forces? I'm never impatient with details or research, even technical money-printing, conveyed with action using all senses. Smell less, two points are exceptional for their rarity - meadow wildflower blossoms p492, used money stink p506. This series would be prime TV-film, possibly because Child wrote for British TV. He says he chose rural America setting for pioneer spirit possibilities.
Globe interview
Without belaboring guilty introspection, we share Jack's feelings. "I'd lost something I never knew I'd had." p381 "Waiting is a skill like anything else." p401 Even black humor - "a relentless downpour ... drier to stay in the pool". He admits not knowing how to do laundry p414.
We can count on Jack to do what is right. "Up on that plateau where you just did whatever needed doing. I knew that place. I lived there." p470.
Sequel "Die Trying" sounds like another fast hard read.
(Typo p533 Beretta gun "But he hadn't like it much" should be "liked". ISBN 9780515141429, so posted here, but differs. Jove 2008 Pb edition 536p. Cover red handprint on white, larger author name on top, bottom title, all caps.)

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Review: Silverwing

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Silverwing" is a colony of small dark bats, migrating south, ahead of runt Shade. Swept out to sea by a storm, he meets older Marina, banished by Brightwings who thought her band was a poison curse. She asks to join Shade's colony, led by a banded elder. They believe bands are a sign of divine promise that bats will regain the day, against present owl law. Every stranger has beliefs that challenge and rock Shade's, reminding us to question everyone.
I don't like children who misbehave and endanger others, like Lion King. When Goth, huge vicious Vampire, escapes the same direction as the young, I'm caught up. He eats pigeons, who call the owls, who rule that all bats are to be killed, all hours. I didn't need an blind albino oracle, or villain's dream, to know vanished banded father Cassiel lives, and the journey will be hard.
The lesson is to value others and ourselves for what is inside, not outer trappings. "You're the only bat who's liked me because of who I am ... That makes you the best friend I've ever had."
(series 10+ awards: Canada, US, France, Spain, ...)

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Review: Starclimber

Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Starclimber is the first steampunk spaceship, from Lionsgate, an alternate Vancouver Canada. Narrator Matt Cruse (#3) fails to qualify as one of three astralnauts. His beloved suffragette Kate can board only after accepting another's proposal. She keeps calling her new fiance by the wrong name. "He looks like a George." (I've had the same trouble.)
Fellow-student Tobias guesses their attraction. "It's the way you look whenever she mentions her fiance. My cat looks like that before he hacks up a hairball." Tobias is "a wipeout ... sit on a girl ... She was really small - I didn't see her."
Babelites infiltrate in Paris. Lives are lost, and a decimal point in crucial calculations. Explosions and narrow escapes take precedence over stolen smooches; Kate acts super selfish. "I don't know what kind of life we'll have together, with me always flying off in one direction and you in the other."
I smiled. "It's a good thing the world's round." - Matt

MC#1 Airborn awards: Red Maple, Schwartz, Gov.Gen.Children's Lit
#2 Skybreaker awards: London Times Children's Novel of the Year

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Review: The Fire Rose

The Fire Rose
The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Fire Rose" (Elemental Masters 1) by Mercedes Lackey, is 1905 newly orphaned and impoverished medieval scholar Rose, invited to San Francisco by an elusive rail baron Fire Master. Jason Cameron seeks to repair a wolf transformation spell stuck half-way. The spirited girl in spectacles has more innate talent than his current treacherous apprentice, secretly aiding an evil competitor. Despite Beauty-Beast base, the realistic pair reason out likely lonely endings. Even the Arabian stallion and Salamander servants are appealingly developed characters; bad guys are slimy sadists.
Historical facts such as grimy railcar floors and bloomers, geographical phenomena such her first sight of the Pacific Ocean and prairie thunderstorm vista come alive through her eyes. I couldn't find proof that Queen for nine days, Lady Jane Grey, was any more educated at nine years than other female nobles of the time, like her sisters Mary and Elizabeth I, certainly more than in other eras.
In Ch1 Rose feels "resignation ... stepping into the unknown". Instead of waking with "anticipation ... her only hope was that the new day would not be worse than the old ... she had an answer, in a small bottle" of poison. Jason's job revives her hope. "What you cannot anticipate, you cannot dread."
From his arrogance over superior intellect, talent, and resources, she learns daring. "A great deal could be gained simply by assuming that one would not be refused, and going ahead and pursuing what one wanted. Audacity often brought rewards; self-abasement seldom did."
(I have to create and move "Hot" to "x"-rated, because of cannibals, kiddie torture-murders, and throat-rip.)

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Review: The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans
The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars excerpts
The Best Laid Plans, from Robbie Burns' To A Mouse 1785, is a popular title. Terry Fallis, experienced in engineering and public relations, penned a podcast that grew and won the Steven Leacock Medal. Humor and honor, "passion for proper English" conquer the compromised democracy of Canadian politics. Yet p193 "through the ringer" should be wringer, two rollers that squeeze water from laundry.
At first, apparently autobiographical, disillusioned heartbroken Ottawa political aide Daniel retires to teach university English. To fulfill his last job committment, he asks his brilliant eccentric new landlord to be the local electoral candidate. Every night, engineer professor Angus, 60, Einstein-hair, food-filled beard, builds a hovercraft. He mourns his "deep abyss" aloud, in a warm Scottish burr, converses with his one-year-departed famous-feminist wife Marin. When journal/ letters to her close each chapter, we know we're in the realm of fiction. Adult content warning: the betrayal of Dan's heart and the Canadian public by their Finance Minister are slapstick silly - and explicitly euphemistically earthy, not to mention burgeoning romance with Lindsay, meeting of "minds, hearts, and more tangible parts". Muriel 80 "gives great voice" or swears like a "sailor", helped Prime Minister Mackenzie King, now matchmakes her bright pretty granddaughter. Two pierced punk rocker undergrad Petes canvass (scare) voters.
Despite Dan's guarantees - no lawn signs, interviews, appearances, or win - the outcome is guessable, no canditate is named Spoiled Ballots.

says #2 is High Road, more Angus fun (I feared such a paragon would perish by hovercraft)

#2 High Road excerpt

(Chapters 1&2 mostly recap the victory of honest integrity that changes the rules of "the game", so either #2 can stand alone, or has nothing new.)
#3 untitled manuscript is just finished.
gotchies are guy's underwear, why?

Other quotes:
"The university usually operated in geological time, but not that day."
"The old and the rested watched The Young and The Restless."
"one of the most famous split infinitives ... To boldly go"
"As Canadians' respect for democracy declines and their disdain grows, we tend to abandon the greater good, follow the politicians' lead, and grab what we can for ourselves... it's a mess."
"the use of profanity for effect to be a practice of the weak-minded"
"as useful as a seamstress in a nudist camp"
"Were not Canadians all about tolerance and acceptance ... progressive and enlightened views"
"food fragments from his beard ... part of charm ... actually part ... of last night's dinner"
"sarcaustic" (sic) tone
"'It's nice finally to meet you too' ... deftly rejoining the infinitive"
"blatherskite is a Scottish term of endearment"
"antipolitician" cares only for public interest
"there IS none"

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Review: The Queen of Attolia

The Queen of Attolia
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everyone does it. You made me do it. Where "it" is painful. Permanent. Like piercing - ears, eyebrow, navel (the bellybutton skin never healed, the eye-ring drew uncomfortable attention, the ear-lobes still itch red), tattoos (people ASK for needles? shiverrrr), cosmetic surgery (not to MY soft skin), physical abuse (a bully who can be provoked by a weakling is not strong), chop hands off thief, kill murderer. Decoration adds to beauty, attaining a cultural ideal is worth any suffering, crime deserves appropriate punishment & deterrent. Where and how do you draw the line? This is the kind of book that lingers, rubs you raw long after closing.
I do not like this book, it hurts. So what draws a reader on? I also may reconsider #1 & 2 together because unlikable boy Gen becomes so different. Caused by dramatic trauma?
"The Queen of Attolia" (Thief 2) is a superbly beautiful cold harsh fierce defender of her kingdom against even the Eddis Queen's Thief who leaves matching ruby earrings beside her valuable necklace. Megan Turner shocks me to the core with such deep pain within the first 33 pages, worst supposedly for love by the end. I am uneasy with the Young rating. (Countries have child soldiers; existence doesn't guarantee rightness.) Tedious segues into the political intrigue of balancing three kingdoms (2 queendoms?) and omitting explicit vocabulary does not protect an innocent reader. Blood is a smear on a forehead; a kiss is a brush of lips. Deep physical and emotional cuts hide behind a sword-blade stroke (p33) and impassive faces. But screams loud and long echo from the deepest dungeon into nightmares, for characters and readers.
Cameo of Sounis' magus, royal advisor, does show how Gen has grown since Book 1. A tale of a goddess who interferes with mortal marriage doesn't seem to connect with the whole, except to escalate our diety-crossed couple to unreality. Youngsters grow up to marry. Could this be YA to prepare naive children for the vissicitudes of adult life? Gods as unreasonable fate?
The deep forest green dress illustrated on the front cover makes sense on p33. The silvery curved part on same color velvet pipe-shape that she holds stayed a mystery to me until p75. There I caught on to what the object was. Why it matched her dress finally was clear at the END of the whole book.

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Review: The King of Attolia

The King of Attolia
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

feigns homesick inept fool, for the court of his new wife. Trained by the best thief and warrior of Eddis, he goads soldier Costis into a punch, then recruits him for lieutenant-scapegoat, and our point of view, to me puzzling roundabout padding. With cautionary tales of gods who enforce oaths from rulers, (spoiler: and one loud holy command) these people sacrifice and promise to a capricious pantheon. Gen must foil assassins, bring down the house of a traitor, win over subjects and Queen. He observes, manouevers, forgives loyal patriots who err, so cunning and kindness triumph. Almost like a fable moral, he helps melt her hard heart.
Like the extra, a tale of Eddis as girl, this feels like an intellectual study, a campfire dream myth (has gods) told safely indoors, unlike book #1 whiner explores, or #2 victim screams. Although all untangle mysteries. Megan Whelan Turner recounts events as if passed down, over centuries, across oceans of distance and time. Different moods all engage me.

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Paul 1*

Paul is big-eyed small scrawny (thus appealing, harmless) alien captured in 1947 intro, who meets kind bumbling British nerds-next-door on RV trip of UFO U.S. highway highlights. Unfortunately Seth Rogen voices the lead, and even adlibs from supporting Bill Hader couldn't upgrade his typical boring repetitious unfunny trash-talk.

Jason Bateman and all the pursuing Men in Black, employed by evil-voice (Sigourney Weaver), deserve special mention for their straight faces, twists, and adlib contributions. The special effect alien took hundreds of animators and looks and acts real, but one I want to spend hours with. Some fun, but more at a drunk bachelor party or graduation from kindergarten level.

Like Star Trek's Vulcan Spock and robotic Data, human children learn both civilized courtesy and humor from adults. Like the toddler who laughs at repeated forbidden words, Rogen missed. >/br?
The shy healed bible-thumper girl learning to swear could have been funny. The disrespectful implication that 60 years of U.S. "military-grade" influence led to smoking, toking, cussing, is at least balanced by the gun plus fundamentalist equals unnecessary murder equation. Although "roll the dice" is repeated twice, I think the moral is choose your priority, your path, in favor of your friends who save your life.
Stars: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Seth Rogen (voice), Jason Bateman, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig

R.E.D "Retired Extremely Dangerous" 5*

Preview. Retired Extremely Dangerous CIA assassins are targeted by CIA. Against Willis (Die Hard 1-5+), Freeman (film Wanted Fraternity leader), Malkovich, Mirren (part Russian), Brian Cox (says Helen's love interest 1974 TV) as retired KGB, not even villain Richard Dreyfuss has a chance.
Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren

A bit of quiet chat, then bang-up action scenes, blood, death, lots of tongue in cheek fun. That barely out of diapers Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) would fall for bald senior stretches credibility too far despite her romantic love of adventure and danger and his gooey inside being both clearly delineated. I get so tired of useless whiny females, at least the older trained one holds up (although she does need male rescue).

Commentary by an ex-insider says CIA wouldn't use draw guns or be overtly in charge on US FBI territory, but do have greater training in explosives, ambushes, and moving targets. DVD extras expose LSD abuse, and similar agency crimes patterned in the film. .

0* for #2 sequel = big yawn, forced ten minutes. Since local library volunteer service forbids shut-ins to borrow DVDs, had to stretch morals, find on internet. Sound track from theatre audience snickers are desperately weak. #2 is not funny, not silly, just boring, predictable. Willis's sweety Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) even more useless this time around, cannot handle loaded gun, despite warning stares straight at villain the Frog (David Thewlis - Remus Lupin in Harry Potter), jealous of supposedly Russian Miranda (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Could not push past 1/2 hour. Add to #1 same cast yields nought. Already knew casting can ruin anything, now know casting cannot save anything.

Review: Scumble

Scumble by Ingrid Law

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Scumble" defined is, in painting, to blend a color down to balance more in a painting; in Savvy #2, the control of natural ability to attain internal balance, by one of this amazing unnatural extended family. Where #1 starts with a father severely injured and goes in a silly pink bus, #2 begins and carries on with fun - wires, nuts, bolts, and beams - danger without fatal disaster. Years later, some of the same relatives continue; the story stands alone.
Ledge hits crucial 13, and explodes increasingly larger assembled mechanisms, hiding watches, toaster, such, under his bed. His mother asserts her control power instead of letting him find his own. On a road trip, they meet Sarah Jane, intrepid reporter. When Ledge explodes a motorcycle, she stows away to the family wedding. She steals, lies, writes whoppers, and gets away with it because she's pretty, unappreciated by her rich dad, and Ledge has a crush. Ooo, spoiler? Na. I can guess why she's motherless, and how Ledge will finally scumble his savvy, can't you?
"A boy's gotta fall a few times ... to pick himself up" - Grandpa Bomba p94
"It can take alot of strength just to show up and be yourself." - Rocket p240
Not much of what these people do makes sense to me, but then neither does life, at least this story is funny. "I won't put a shoe in his house" promise sounds iffy, and ch. 33 gives the answer. For 30 chapters, our hero rinses off in the cold creek, until his uncle hands him a bar of soap and hints about a hot shower. At least the final kiss is unbelievable. The closing jackalope illustration is better than I envisioned, too.
Unfortunately, Discussion Questions misspells lightning as lightnting.

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Review: Dragons Wild

Dragons Wild
Dragons Wild by Robert Lynn Asprin

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Asprin starts a new series I will not finish. Much flat exposition setup, no trademark humor. I want an opening that grabs me by the throat, makes me care and be curious about who and where. Here, rich lazy teen fumes, flees, shops, sleeps. Conspiracy of dragons dark, no hints glimmer.
Griff, new Chicago business grad, majored in cards, won sportscar (interest or research topic of author?). His guardian uncle discloses pure-bred dragon abilities burgeon, powerful groups are concerned, females are erratic, only for breeding. Oriental live-in gal Mai knows about dragons, but moves out. Sister Val says let's leave. Poker pal Jerome says come to New Orleans, meet my gang. When two trucks try to run Griff off the road, he angrily retaliates.
After 13 chapters, still skeptical, he is awash in the Quarter ambience, shops for silk to replace denim, and goes home with a cute girl. "They never did get around to watching a movie."
I skipped ahead.
A bad guy is known for his knife. Griff gets scales, wants to watch a movie, survives a truck crushing his car. Chapter 41, he dreams, never a necessity for my choice of reading. Skipped to end. Mai returns, calms Val from shotgun revenge, insists dragons plan. Yawn.

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Review: The Temptress

The Temptress
The Temptress by Claire Delacroix

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Temptress (Bride Quest 6) by Claire Delacroix. With quasi-archaic ye know naught the knots of yearning plots that perplex and beset, overly feminist inclinations, family from the series, another shrew-taming variation unfolds. More light than serious, much introspection, magic extraneous. Leisurely rhythm soothes, homage to traditional tales.
"Esmeraude knew that she would have need of naught for all her days and nights than this knight" Bayard, loyal Crusader for King Richard. "Will would find the way". "She was unpredictable", foolish, selfish. She runs off with just an old maid, leaves riddles for suitors to follow, risks rape, sleeps with (to her, not him) a stranger, "shooting star blazing" on p66/376.
Despite good advice, "You cannot tell which man will hold your heart with so little as a glance, regardless of what the old tales say", she flirts and more, learning another's "kiss made her think of the lips of fishes". Stubborn, "her heart had known Bayard from the first ... she would force Bayard to confess". Deeds are not enough, she insists on the L-word. She starts to take on responsibility, gives "counsel for those hens disinclined to surrender their eggs". But the goddess Fortuna decides to trip up her formerly favored hero. A strong silvery vine flourishes in time with his wooing ballad of Tristan, that engages her attention like Scheherazade.
He throws away his heritage for her view of honor (love achieves no property), and only his brother's love and courage provides for the newlyweds. The saints and vine are diverting, but could be made use of more to advance the story.)

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Review: An Invitation to Sin

An Invitation to Sin
An Invitation to Sin by Jo Beverley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Humor improves any Napoleon era romance. In this hot collection, Jo Beverley's Forbidden Affections and Sally MacKenzie's The Naked Prince are 4-5* giggles.
The first title is one of Gothic romances by the late owner of the Featherstone family summer rental. Anna, 16, daring, forthright, bookish, takes the Lady's recreated gargoyled bedroom, follows the secret passage to next door, where the bruised Lady was found overdosed on laudanum, and finds the handsome Earl of Carne. He fled under suspicion, now returns to thwart his cousin's claims. They arrange an assignation to solve the murder with a triple word-play on cake, as sweet tart, silly fool, and victory ("take the cake"). Clever. (I'd be happier with less age difference - personal experience.)
Second, handsome Lord K., nicknamed Prince of Hearts, attends a valentine orgy weekend to protect his best friend from an avaricious London widow. He lets months-long correspondent on Latin treatises J.A. know of their visit to the Atworthy neighborhood. But the true J. is spinster daughter Jo, and K. sees beneath the dowdy country exterior when their identities are revealed. "Her virtue was shrivelling inside her like a grape forgotten on the vine", while pallid bits bobble in the frigid February air.
*** The Pleasure of a Younger Lover by Vanessa Kelly. Brawny soldier Chris helps lifelong crush Clarissa clear the reputation of her late husband. Page-long tongue tangle leads to hot afternoon roll.
** A Summer Love Affair by Kaitlin O'Reilly has tight thin dresses more suited to other times. Meeting on a Spanish holiday, being painted as near-naked Greek gods, pairs a rich English couple for a later in-love reunion. Transparent, explicit.

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Review: Inkspell

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funke has no compunction over killing; adding another pet marten provides small (really) relief. Different names in our regular time and theirs may be easier in the German original; I finally get both. The teens exchange more kisses, otherwise little character change; mostly we're pushed around in the scary fantasy place, and home England.
We left present-day old Inkweaver Fenaglio trapped in the terrible magical medieval world he wrote. Resa, missing years, now voiceless, is back with husband bookbinder Mo Silvertongue (or is he Bluejay, like Robin Hood?), now not reading aloud. But too-rebellious daughter Meggie reads herself back into the world of death and danger, along with her crush, Arabian Nights Farid, admiring apprentice of fire-wielder Dustfinger (supporting and lead characters for this episode). When surviving villains, gloating knife-wielder Basta and poisonous wizened Mortola find callow self-named Orpheus aka Cheeseface has the reading magic of Mo and Meggie, and align with tyrant Adderhead, massacres escalate. Darius Stumbletongue and great-aunt Elinor whine, complain, frustrated, helpless, negative influence on the desperate situation. We get entranced by people, only to lose them. Turning pages for an end leads only to a cliff. #3 Inkdeath must be final.

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Review: Heartless

Heartless by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Heartless" (Parasol Proctorate 4) by Gail Carriger, is how eight-month pregnant Alexia sees the suggestion to save the life of (her and) her unborn from persistent assassination attempts by unfriendly vampire hives in supernatural Victorian London. Fun. Suspense. Action. Best-friend loner (his own kind of queen) vampire Lord Akeldama will legally adopt the child. She and werewolf husband will move in, next-door obstensibly, renovated third clothes-closet actually, to oversee. But a fading ghost warns of a plot to "kill the queen".
I noted the prophetic ambiguity, and the distracted parasol inventor, clues if we're attentive.)
Alexia enlists silly-hat atrociously-accoutred friend Ivy in a new Parasol Protectorate, and "the game's afoot". (Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes from Shakespeare's Henry V). I couldn't close my eyes a wink, while intrepid Alexia tumbles hilariously after clues, across balconies, in and out of dirigibles, ferly danger, attacks, explosions, helped and hindered by creatively-named eccentrics. I could see the trouble ahead from her final solution, so a sequel already draws my curiosity. What the baby does in father Maccon's arms, and in Akeldama's on the very last sentence, stamps Timeless PP#5 as a must-read.
I know the cast, understand their motives, so action feels continuous. I don't know if this book could stand alone without background series support. Learning back-stories seems to add reasons for re-reading from the start. I do not see the need for italicized paragraphs from a dying female ghost's point of view, unless to reinforce her identity and relationship to the mystery plot.
The extra Jaye Wells excerpt sounds ferly, no fun. I like female assassins like Nikita, but not Sabina's quick kill of her best friend in the middle of a warning, at least let him live to explain.

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Review: Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections

Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections
Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections by Robert Lynn Asprin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Magician Skeeve leaves team to battle Queen Hemlock on Klah, while he searches rude lizard dimension Perv, for Aahz, Deva bazaar company partner who resigned unhappily. Aided and blocked by mys-fits such as small djinn Kalvin, cab-driver Edvik, sidewalk entrepreneur J.R., bodyguard serpentine Pookie, and others, he explores meaning of friendship and self-reliance. Veiled in arguments with store and hotel clerks, cops and criminals, bar brawls and alley escapes, are philosophical maunderings. Fun and the search for a happy ending keep us hooked.

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Review: The Caldarian Conflict

The Caldarian Conflict
The Caldarian Conflict by Mike Kalmbach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars excerpt
I don't believe in good and evil. There be what a man can do and what he must do. - Owen, condemned to hang
(According to Murdoch Mysteries, a proper hanging should break the neck, not choke. City TV brought back Murdoch Mysteries with Jennings as consultant. Hoorah. He's prospecting in Dawson City Klondike, and the beautiful (love those dresses) friendly hotel manager is arrested for pick-ax bludgeoning a competitor. Check out the web-series in my beloved much-missed City of T.O.

Brother Mendell serves the Lord Justice god, also calling on Lady Mercy and Luck, goddesses of healing and chance, to investigate how Admiral Cain combats piracy unethically (without lecturing us). Whoever knows too much, dies, even the whole monastery is at risk. Limbs and bodies are lost. Language is crisp and clean. Fights balance mystery.

Points of view - life-value-ing pirate captain(-ess?), evil Admiral, still-learning monk, doomed informant, deceptive assassin - skip seamlessly, including ye be me hearty dialect, in a magic medieval land. Starting with quick deaths, pages flow fast. Suspense builds. Devices I normally eschew for interrupts - gods advise and aid, amulets and spirits speak to reveal murder - snowball the action. Ships explode, founder, rogue waves capsize crews. Break your signed oath? Magic severs your sword hand. Mostly men, yet strong women.

"Hesitation can kill as easily as a sword." - Sarka, nun worshipper of Lord Battle
The secret manipulator behind all is only disclosed in the final page of the epilogue; 265 pages satisfies and whets our appetites for more. Many of the stories started here beg to be expanded.

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Review: Wild Cards

Wild Cards
Wild Cards by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"Wild Cards: A Mosaic Novel" originated when editor George R.R. Martin created a game world for fellow writer friends, who contributed chapters. Juat after WW2, an alien virus transforms human genetics and goes recessive. Most victims die, others experience physical or psychic changes: aces have useful powers, deuces minor maybe entertaining abilities, jokers uglified, disabled, relegated to ghettos. Some smiles, more despair.
Real historical issues are based on fact. Red Tail US airborne, first and only black unit, never lost a bomber they escorted, although their pilots died.
(2012 movie)
Commie bashing led to witch-hunts, black-listed and destroyed lives. Rock and roll music plus drugs strung out hippies. Politicians manipulated and deceived.
Surprisingly, no mention of the pill or women's organizations. Men desire, rescue, and destroy. Women are desired, rescued, and destroyed. One man Tychon, can do all three to one woman, Blythe the Brain Trust. Female characters appear at length only in chapters with such authors, vengeful rape victim subway car from Leanne Harper, primarily passive mistress roles, such as from Melinda Snodgrass. The latter behave explicitly, as does another lead Fortunato, a mixed-race pimp powered by Tantric yoga practices. Hence Hot shelf for whole book, possibly misleading. Put part P in V or M is like furniture assembly directions, weak non-plot. The worst books are only on the Read shelf.
My favorite episode is Martin's Turtle. A bullied geek grows into a beer swiller with an emerging paunch and telekinetic ability extra-strong, to fly a car. His childhood pal owns a junkyard and bullet-proofs a Volkswagen Beetle. They motivate alcohol-saturated mind-controller Tachyon, and all rescue a fragile kind lovely lady club-owner Angelface from multiple rape by corrupt cops. Second favorite would be the human Yeoman Hunter who takes down an evil Vietnamese crime lord and rescues exotic girl healer, where normal (highly-skilled) loner veteran overcomes vanishing villain and rejoins life. Sense a theme?
The initial premise of a wild card virus that induces abilities makes more sense without the alien origin. Why doesn't the planet of inventors call back for ongoing results of the experiment? The overall mood of the book is dark, the worst of the times and people, pain, perversion, pulp-fiction sleazy reputation confirmed. Since the sequel is about Aces, I may try a few pages seeking Star Trek style optimism. Or not.

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