Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Pride & Prejudice with Dragons—FLAME BRINGER, A Heartstone Novel


Flame Bringer by Elle Katharine White is the final book in the Heartstone novel series by Harper Voyager. Heartstone is the first in the series, followed by Dragon Shadow, with newly released Flame Bringer being the last in the YA trilogy. 

In the first book, Heartstone, Aliza Bentaine's family of Merrybourne Manor has secured the funds to hire esteemed dragon rider Alastair Daired to battle gryphons. It's a story about war, kingdoms, class lines, and hearts. 

The Greater Lindworm is dead in book two, Dragon Shadow. Aliza and Alastair are a happy couple in the Daireds' fortress, safe from the Tekari. Unfortunately their happily ever after is soon interrupted by the reality of the mutilated bodies of humans and Oldkind creatures. 

Book three, Flame Bringer,  starts with Wydrick, sworn enemy of the Daireds, back from the dead. My favorite thing about these books is the fantastic world-building. These stories are far more Lord of the Rings than they are Pride and Prejudice, but in a world where women hold their own in a satisfying twenty-first century style. They're stories for this generation of young adults.

Young Adult dragon stories aren't often my go-to read, but I was drawn in by the first book's Pride and Prejudice with dragons tie-in. What I've enjoyed most is that Aliza is her own person and partner with Daired. If he's battle worn and weary riding his dragon Akarra, Aliza is usually with him.

What worked most for me were the wonderful details from the angry hobgoblin in the opening of the first book, to the Mermish in the second, and onto Master Gargoyle sliding through the walls to follow Aliza in the third. 

Elle Katharine White
reading at Bell's Country Coffee Elmira Heights, NY
Elle Katharine White grew up in Buffalo, New York where she learned valuable life skills like how to clear a snowy driveway in under twenty minutes and how to cheer for the perennial underdog. I'm looking forward to her next book The Book of Dragons, which releases July 7, 2020. Harper Collins lists her with the "Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy writers working today", and I couldn't agree more. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay—How Great is This?

Photo Credit: S.R. Karfelt

This is a book I picked up at the library. I couldn't resist the title. An elevator pitch is what you call the pitch writers give to garner interest in their book. It's supposed to be a quick thirty second pitch that you can give if you happen to be in an elevator with someone.

Elevator Pitch starts off with just that. A screenwriter stalking someone he hopes will help him. Like with any stalking situation, it doesn't work out as planned. The elevator pitches to the basement.

The scenario is in the vertical city of New York where someone is messing with elevators. It's deliciously terrifying and can do for elevators what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean. I loved it and found it hard to put down. 

If I was going to give it stars, it would rate a solid five out of five stars. It's captivating, clever, original, and surprising. Mind you I read with half a cynical brain running in the background watching for clues and red herrings and what will happen next. 

This book surprised me. I LOVE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

I won't say more about that because I don't want to spoil it for you. Read this one and let me know what you think. 

Lately I have been taking out library books. Since I can't keep them long they don't wind up living in my TBR (To Be Read) pile for years. I usually choose two fun reads and one educational. 

So, get out of your wintery house and go to the library. Get books. Borrow books. Buy books. They're the antidote to too many memes sugar-coating your brains. At least they are for me. If you want to recommend any books, leave a comment below. I like pretty much anything except Amish Romance or Erotica with no plot or contractions in the entire book. I'm still scarred from judging a Romance Writers of America contest a couple years ago. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch—Book Review FIVE STARS

"Are You Happy With Your Life?"

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before his abductor knocks him unconscious. He wakes up in a world where everyone knows him, but he doesn't know them and his wife and child are missing. 

Dark Matter is Science Fiction and explores a multiverse theory and the question of what's more important, love, or dreams and aspirations. I found it hard to put this book down and tore through it in a day. I love to read when I have a deadline bearing down and I'm feeling anxious about how my own work is going. It's like taking a break in an alternate universe, a good one.

Physics fascinates me, and I've explored dark matter and string universes in my own writing. (In a Fantasy setting, see Bitch Witch or FOREVER The Constantine's Secret.) There's heart and soul in Dark Matter and I loved the twists and turns as Jason Dessen tries to keep up with reality and find his way. 

For me this book presented a fresh take and new theories. I'm far behind in my theoretical physics books, and I don't understand half of what I read anyway, so I love exploring the process in fiction.

Few books truly surprise me, and I'm so thrilled when they do. Dark Matter surprised me, several times. It stressed me out page by page too. I've never read Blake Crouch's work before. I happened upon this book in The Book of the Month Club and I have to say I've enjoyed most books I found there. 

I don't want to give anything away, other than to say this is the kind of work that took some serious blood, sweat, and tears from an author. I'm impressed, and if you enjoy Science Fiction on any level, you'll enjoy this book.