“Beyond The Vale” is the tale of Logan Leonard’s afterlife. Yup, our main character is dead, though he doesn’t remember how, or why, or much else really. All he knows is that in order to “earn his passage”—aka, get out of this in-between place—he needs to remember what happened, what led him to this place, and find a way to bring salvation to the other tortured souls in this land. If Logan fails, then everyone fails, everyone goes to Hell. So, you know, no pressure. This book reminded me a lot of “What Dreams May Come” mixed with “A Christmas Carrol” (tis the season after all), with a few animal guides for good measure. It was a fun ride, with a really powerful message that caught me completely off guard!
“Hiding In Third Person” is, on the surface, about an orderly in a mental institution gaining the trust of a patient in order to learn the truth behind his fantastic story about runaways and murder, and keep the troubled man from going to another facility. But things are not as simple as they appear, and the patient, Mr. Rivers, has a story that many think is false, but Ricky, the orderly, knows otherwise. It’s a storyline that should be thrilling, with an intriguing mystery as to what’s real, and who is responsible for Mr. Rivers’ ultimate fate, but the story didn’t really achieve that for me by the books’ conclusion.
“The EF76 Strain” is a short zombie story, I hesitate to call it a book because, at under 60 pages, it’s more like a novella, but a bit on the short side for that, too. The story is told through a series of loosely connected events based on the “infected” people and their struggle to save themselves, or the people they care most about. It all starts with good intentions, a doctor trying to cure world hunger with a simple pill that has drastic side effects. Ergo: zombies. Except the people we see who have taken this pill and are affected, are not the people who should have taken it. They are people in a Florida suburb, not a starving 3rd world country. So why are they infected? Not sure. But they are. And now, we get to read their, often times, gory demise.
“The Outlaws of Kratzenfels” is a fun, fast paced action-adventure young-adult novel where fantasy meets science in a delightful steampunk manner. We watch as Princess Helda has her kingdom stolen from her, and witness the lengths she goes to get it back, the dark secrets of her parent’s death, the creation of the new Iron Knights, and we meet the raggedy crew she finds along the way. There are so many fun little tidbits going on in Jones’s book—and he writes wonderfully, with fun dialogue and situational humor—that I was yearning for more! Unfortunately, at parts, the lack of “more” actually hurt this entertaining book. Allow me explain.
“The Moreva of Asteroth” is an interesting blend of science-fantasy where we are presented to a whole new galaxy occupied by blue skinned, white haired “gods”, and the humanoid people who worship them. Our main character is a rather arrogant scientist who is also a spiritual leader to the haoki, the lesser race that worships the main characters’, Tehi, grandmother. But her disdain for these people lands her in trouble, and Tehi finds herself banished to a kind of wasteland where she is tasked with learning about compassion for the hakoi, but that is far from the only thing she’ll discover. Like I said, a really interesting concept! Bland has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about her new world and crafting its language and the lands her characters inhabit. And yet…. I still struggled with this book.
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