But do the Young Readers Want to Read It?

One the way back from LibertyCon, Dorothy Grant read a review of a new book. Said review filled my buzzword-bingo card in the first paragraph, and the three of us laughed and groaned.

On a whim, a few days later I went to the publisher’s website to see what their take on the book was. Rather less entertaining than the earlier review, but the “Colonizer’s Comeuppance” headline is what I consider fair warning, as is the first paragraph of the blurb. Other on-line reviews… let’s just say that the half-unicorn sounds waaaaaayyyyy too passive and accepting of torment than I care to read about. If I want martyrs I’ll go through the beautiful art-book I got about saints’ lives.

I went looking at the site’s YA book reviews, out of curiosity more than anything, and with a little fear that they might not be what I’d have wanted to read when I was YA age. After all, this is Tor.com, and they’ve been pretty clear about encouraging diversity in authors and characters without always focusing on story. Continue reading

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Book Review: Seventh Son and Red Prophet

Card, Orson Scott. Seventh Son and Red Prophet: Tales of Alvin Maker Books 1 and 2. (Tor, 1987, 1988) Paperback.

Seventh Son and Red Prophet are the first two books in a five book (possibly six book) series of alternate history novels set in the early 1800s, centering on the seventh son of a seventh son, Alvin. He is a maker, someone with the ability to shape things. He also becomes a healer of sorts. These novels tell about his world, his first eleven years of life, and the tensions between whites and Indians in Card’s alternate world.
Continue reading

Book Review: The Environmental History of Medieval Europe

Hoffman, Richard. An Environmental History of Medieval Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2014) Kindle Edition

Hoffman’s work is an overview of western Europe’s environmental history from the Fall of Rome until roughly 1500. He points out that the simple “everyone knows” stories of decline from a pristine Nature before Rome and Christianity don’t always apply. The story of humans and their environment is long and complicated, and Hoffman does a very good job of relating that story as well as pointing out problems in the accepted theories in the literature.

What will interest the general reader the most are Hoffman’s case studies. He describes the problem, gives an overview (farming, water use, mining, the “tragedy of the commons”, natural disasters) and then provides a few specific examples from different locations in Europe and Britain. He has picked very good examples and uses them well to tell the story of people and landscape. Continue reading

Yep, Probably not an Accident…

As I was purchasing a copy of something else (a history of battlefield archaeology in Germany that was too heavy [literally] to buy over there), Amazon.de’s alsobot turned up a book entitled (in German) 15,000 Years of Murder and Deathblows. It’s great! It is a popular science book in the best sense, taking some very complicated science and using it to tell fascinating stories of mayhem, murder, and puzzle-solving. Continue reading

Book Review: Honor and Duty Series 1-3

Schall, Sam. [Amanda Green] Vengeance from Ashes, Duty from Ashes, Honor from Ashes [Kindle Editions]

I had bought the first one, finally got around to reading it, and devoured the other two that same week. Curse you! *shakes paw* And the fourth one is with the beta readers and not out yet. *shakes paw again* Um, yeah, I like them. Aside from the little problem that they caused me to have adrenaline dumps because I got pulled so hard into the books, but that’s not a normal reaction. Continue reading

Book Review: Jackalope Wives and Other Stories

Kingfisher, T. Jackalope Wives and Other Stories (2017) Kindle edition.

I nibbled on T. Kingfisher’s (Ursula Vernon) other collection Toad Words because of a re-envisioning of the story of Bluebeard. The Halcyon Fairy Book had too much snark and too few stories, so I did not finish it, but after reading the title story in a different anthology, I purchased this collection. All are fantasy, urban, rural, or classic, with twists and turns that I enjoyed. Continue reading

Book Review: Twelve Rules for Life

Peterson, Jordan B. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. (Random House Canada, 2018) Kindle-edition.

 

First off, I bought the book and read it just to spite all the people saying that Dr. Peterson is the Source of All Evil, Hero of the Alt-Right, Corrupter of Canadian Youth. I ended up learning a lot, cringing a lot, and deciding to make a few changes in how I manage my time and talents. I’m a little wary of Jungian-based analyses after ODing on Joseph Campbell and his acolytes when I was in college the first time, but Peterson makes sense in a lot of ways. Even if you disagree with his take on things, he’s got a wealth of material worth mulling over and considering. Continue reading