Category Archives: Reviews

Fiction series review: The Chained Adept

This 4-book fantasy series by Karen Myers, begins with “The Chained Adept.” In a magical accident when the heroine, a wizard called Penrys, is teleported to a distant continent, where she instantly defends a wizard called Zandaril from a magical attack. Penrys was found about three years ago, naked except for an unremovable golden chain around her neck, and with no memory, by a wizard at the wizard Collegium of Ellech. She had been found to have a powerful magical talent and some training outside the traditions of the Collegium, taken in, and give the title of Adept. She falls in with the wizard she defended who has been sent from his home nation of Zannib to assist another nation, the Kigali, to find what out what is behind a local invasion by a third nation, the Rasesni.

In the second book, “Mistress of Animals”, after defeating the threat in the first book, Penrys and Zandaril, whose true name was revealed as Najub, attempt to visit his home clan in Zannib. Their visit is interrupted when a disaster struck a neighboring clan. Most of the animals, and the people belonging to the clan have disappeared, except for a few wandering scattered survivors who do not know exactly what happened to the rest. Penrys and Najub trace the trouble to another chained wizard, the Mistress of Animals of the title, and are married.

In the third book, “Broken Devices” Penrys and her husband Najub are summoned by the emperor of the Kigali, to find that there has been a virtual plague of these memory-less chained wizards scattered around the world.

In the fourth, “On A Crooked Track” Penrys returns to Ellech along with Najub to investigate the mysterious origins of the chained wizards.

To be brief, I liked the series. Much of its delight comes from its intricate world building and the mysteries that are encountered and solved, hence my care to avoid as many spoilers as possible.

Book series review — The Extraordinaries

This is series of 8 alternate historical romantic fantasies by Melissa McShane. These are alternate history, are are set chiefly in Britain during and just after the period of the Regency and the Napoleonic wars, and many of the protagonists are affiliated with the military. Fantasy, because they are each centered around a protagonist with an extraordinary level of talent in fields termed Movers, Shapers, Scorchers, Bounders, Seers, Speakers, Discerners, and Coercers. They are romances, because each of these protagonists is a woman who is involved in a quest to use and master her talent, at the same time she is finding a suitable mate. The series is presumably complete, since each of the eight talents has been showcased by the heroine. The series is intertwined, since each of them have at least a cameo appearance in other books of the series, before and after they appear as main characters. I enjoyed it.

Mostly fictional stuff

It rains just as hard in Phoenix as it does anywhere else, just not as often, and I was in the right place and right time to get drenched. This has been one of the wettest monsoon seasons on record, quite the contrast from last year’s nonsoon, which in my neighborhood had not one single rainstorm all summer long. No, I don’t think it had anything to do with anthropogenic climate change: That’s how weather has always behaved.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo had a season wrap-up. I thought it did a decent job of portraying some of the difficulties an autistic person has in dealing with a “normal” world. Even if it wasn’t perfect (what is?) I thought it was well done and I wouldn’t mind seeing a season 2.

I have a certain fondness for detective stories set around acting and Hollywood. Fortunately, the vicarious experience is plenty sufficient. The “Lexi Carmichael” series by Julie Moffett, featuring Lexi, Geek Extraordinaire series had a good one. “The Worst Detective Ever” series, by Christy Barritt” features Joey Darling, who isn’t a detective but plays one on TV, and nevertheless gets herself involved in real mysteries and bumbles and fumbles her way through them. “Mean Mary” James is better known for her music, especially her fast banjo, but she also collaborates with her mother Jean James on the occasional detective story. Her extensive repertoire also has a song for each one of them.”Hell is Naked” is a good one. I had begun “Rita Farmer” mysteries by Elizabeth Sims and had the odd sensation of reading a book for the first time all over again. Yes, I read fast. Sometimes, I even skim. OK?

Book Series Review — Honor and Duty

By Amanda S. Green writing as Sam Schall. This military science fiction series opens with Ashlyn Shaw, a Captain in the Marines of the planet Fuercon, who along with most of the fellows of her unit, is imprisoned in a hellish military penal colony as a result of a treacherous betrayal. When the injustice of her sentence is recognized and they are all released from prison, she is assigned to rebuild the unit and prepare to defend her planet against a ruthless foe. In the process of battling political and military corruption and foreign espionage, she must also battle her personal demons and learn to shoulder the increasing burdens and limitations of command as she rises in rank. Her growing network of supportive superiors and subordinates give her the ability to face an escalating and exhausting series of threats just in time as her planet’s government copes with an opportunistic and unreliable ally as well as the enemy’s development of a horrific biological weapon. While Military SF isn’t to everyone’s taste, this series is well named and is among the best the genre has to offer.

TV Series Review — Extraordinary Attorney Woo

This Netflix series, a Korean courtroom drama, is centered around a female autistic savant, Woo Young-woo (played by South Korean actress Park Eun-bin) who becomes an attorney practicing criminal defense law. The series is in Korean with English captioning. I’m not usually a fan of international movies and television, but this one drew me in. The portrayal of the various behavioral and social challenges, as well as the unconventional thinking associated with autism are excellent. I’ve only seen the first episode of the first season, but I thought it was really very good. I’ll be watching more of this one.

Movie Review — A Call to Spy

“A Call to Spy”

This is a historical drama of espionage in World War II, which follows the activities of three woman who were active in assisting the French Resistance to German occupation: Vera Atkins, a secretary in the British Special Operations Executive, who recruited women as spies, Virginia Hall, an American consular clerk who was a pioneering and highly successful agent in spite of having a wooden leg, and Noor Inayat Khan, an Indian Sufi Muslim who became a wireless operator in order to fight tyranny. Sarah Megan Thomas was producer of the film and played Virginia Hall. Although somewhat altered and embellished for artistic purposes, the activities and fates of these women as depicted closely follow their true stories. For those able to tolerate scenes of violence and brutality, this is about as good as historical drama gets. Presented by Netflix.

Book Review

Oni the Lonely

C. Chancy

Kyosai Momiji and his sister Mira are oni, powerful supernatural beings from Japanese folklore, who are staying at least temporarily in human disguise in a town in Appalachia, while Kyosai studies human painting and Mira takes an interest in baking. Rain McKee is a grieving human craftswoman with a trace of Appalachian folk magic and a passion for making scented soaps and powders. Their paths cross in Rivertown Shopping Village in this tale of magic and growing friendship. Kyosai and Rain’s tale leads from a clash of culture, each bewildered at the powers the other shows, through revelation of a curse on her family, to the interference of ancient and powerful enemies. Kyosai is fascinated with Rain’s budding heroism, while Rain can’t abandon a friend. This clean fantasy will probably make more more sense to those familiar with Japanese anime and manga, but those aren’t necessary to follow the story, as the most important concepts are sufficiently explained. The conflict isn’t entirely resolved, as this is evidently the first of a series, but it is sufficiently intriguing to make the series worth following.