The Great Mystery

By Travis Slone

In this book we start off with a soldier going to the emergency room, and then we’re whisked off to another realm for an adventure. The main story is a male, Amir, and a female, Eva, trying to find the great treasure to unite the world. The book is a very easy read, and would be best for younger teens. I believe I would have found the book much more gripping and surprising if I had been younger. The allegory fell on the heavy side, though it tended more towards spirituality than religion. The allegory feels rather shallow as we don’t learn much about either of the protagonists’ until the end. At the end rather than there being character development, it seems like we’re first seeing their full characters.

I would recommend this book to younger readers in search of an adventure.

Nibble {first sentence}: “Outside the doors of a state-of-the-art medical center, a team of paramedics rushed in from their ambulance with a young soldier in critical condition.”

My Rating: 4 out of 10 apples with strange carvings

I received a free paper copy of this book from First Reads via Goodreads.


Five Dances with Death

By Austin Briggs

In this book Briggs displays an incredible world drawn in historical fiction, and mixes it with fantasy. It’s set during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, which contributes to an underlying tone of eventual doom. The protagonist, Angry Wasp, is trying to keep his nation safe while also searching for his long lost daughter. Nations around him are becoming more inclined towards war, and the Spanish are beginning to march inland. There is quite a lot of violence and sacrifice in this book, but I found the descriptions tasteful and not overly gratuitous. Angry Wasp certainly lives up to his name, and in the beginning makes many impulsive decisions. In his character we see progressions, and a few recessions, in his development. Briggs’ simple language worked excellently, and most of the dialog came off as authentic and translated. The ending was actually a surprise and twist, which was lovely.

I realized towards the end of the book that I didn’t care what would happen to Angry Wasp. It was an odd realization as he’s an interesting and realistic character to read about- but between the amount of casual death and a lack of sympathy for him, I found myself rather neutral towards his fate, yet wrapped up in his story. As a warning, when reading this you really have to pay attention with the multitude of places, and jumping from reality to outer body experiences with spiritual doubles. A map in the beginning of the book would have been very helpful.

I found this a great story, that also filled a niche that should certainly be expanded. In my American history classes and books, it tended to be about how Europe colonized America, rather than placing emphasis on the people who were actually living there and being invaded. You can also feel the depth of knowledge Briggs has about this time, and it grounds the story without being distracting.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Nibble {first sentence of prologue}: “I had challenged Talon to the ballgame because my daughter Dew had been his slave as long as she knew how to walk.”

My Rating: 8 out of 10 fresh jumping apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

Enchantress of Rurne

By Chris Turner

In this short story a warrior sets out to slay his master’s killers, but is waylaid by a seductress who has her own plans for him. Turner creates rather descriptive scenes for his characters to operate in. He also tends to use very pretty and visual language. The first part of the story has a feeling of impending doom as the tension steadily builds. We’re quickly given a complete-feeling profile of the protagonist, which makes the story easy to jump into. An early inn scene displays some excellent natural dialog, even if the situation is a bit cliche. Suddenly, a flurry of action occurs, and the tension dissipates as the story comes to a close.

I found that the tension dropped off a little too quickly. I would have liked the action scenes, mainly the fight to avenge his master’s killers, to be fleshed out a little more. I also would have liked to see the protagonist develop in some way, or have some reason to empathize with him. I found the seductress a much more interesting character, with a curious backstory.

I would recommend this story to someone wanting to briefly be emerged in a fantasy hero adventure.

Nibble: “Taar’s sudden-spawned desire for her flesh flared again and her seductive aura was a promise of rapture, to which he was drawn like a burning magnet, feeling a lover’s overpowering ache for the warm, inviting woman-ness lurking beneath that soft leather.”

My Rating: 5 out of 10 dark red apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.