Born in Eugene, OR and a grad of the UofO, I still made a success of my life by constantly changing jobs and cashing in miserable 401K earnings. Finally, I decided to hell with it. If I'm going to be poor, I might as well be a writer.
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Smashwords book reviews by Marva Dasef
- Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom
on Sep. 21, 2009
I have a hard time reading on-line for enjoyment and I don't own one of those portable readers yet. That's to explain why it took me quite a long time to read this volume.
Once I did get to reading, I found this book virtually hard to put down. Sage is a wonderful fantasy kingdom described for the reader by the main character. Demetria is a plant wizard with the ability to control and speak to plant life, which does tend to make them grow very well. Her husband, Ward, is a dungeon master who can control stone.
All of the inhabitants of Sage have some type of magical affinity, whether to plants, stone, animals, and a variety of other talents.
The Rats who live in a neighboring kingdom, however, are not amiable with the humans of Sage. Therein lies much of the conflict in these stories. In the first tale, the Rats have sent a plague of rotten mold into Sage. Who better to fight this menace than Demetria, the master gardener? With great personal sacrifice, Demetria, assisted by other wizards, fights off the slime threatening her land.
In the second story, Demetria and Ward must rescue their son from the Rat Kingdom. They get some surprising help from those believed to be the guilty parties.
Okay, I'm writing this review before I've read the third tale, however, I will absolutely do so and know I will enjoy the heck out of it. I've become a Demetria fan. I look forward to seeing more tales from the land of Sage. But, Maria, let's get this book in print so I can take it to bed with me. Now, that's where I can read for enjoyment.
One last note for Maria: Fifty-five is NOT old!
- ...The Twain Shall Meet
on May 12, 2010
I recommend j guevera's novelization of Mark Twain's return to the world of the living as he's carried to earth riding Halley's Comet.
Set in 1986 Key West, I'll take j's word for the Key scene (never been there).
His interpretation of what Samuel Clemen's would be like if he did return to the world was spot on. I'm a Mark Twain fan and have read most (all?) of his books.
Using direct quotes from Twain and well-interpreted extrapolations on what Twain might say if he came back, j created an entertaining and interesting 'what if'.
j has an easy, very readable style. His narrator, Reid, is a "t-shirt" salesman (note: pot dealer) who becomes a Twain fan through direct association with the great American author over a month while Reid introduces Twain to such modern concepts as nude bars, Disney World, modern politics and events.
- Questing Beast
on July 21, 2010
Excellent story. I'm definitely interested in the further works of Ilona Andrews (both of you!).
- Walking Like Morpheus
on April 22, 2011
It took me a long time to get to this book, and I wish I had earlier. Thing is, this book came out in 2009, but people will immediately think the author used Inception as a basis. Well, they'd be wrong. The book pre-dates the movie. So, this is more of a "great minds think alike" deal.
Still, Walking Like Morpheus, is in most ways completely different from the movie. Both are about lucid dreaming, which is when the dreamer can control what's going on in his/her dream. Mr. Cox has taken that idea another step (which is where it coincides somewhat with the movie) of having the lucid dreamer able to control other people's dreams.
Aidan is a lucid dreamer, called an Oneiroi (in myth, the sons of Hypnos), hired by the Hypnos Corporation, which has discovered a way to use lucid dreamers to give clients what they want to dream, rather than being stuck with that random weirdness we all experience in dreaming.
During one session, something goes very wrong. Aidan loses control of the dream and is confronted with his own worst nightmare. He reports the problem to the company, realizing something is wrong with the apparatus that allows the Oneiroi to control the dream of another. Rather than looking into what is wrong, the Corporation immediately fires Aidan. After a bout of self-pity, he seeks to find out exactly what went wrong and why.
Any more and I'd be clicking the spoiler box, so I'll leave it at that.
Mr. Cox is an excellent writer and I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes science fiction and fantasy.
- The Emerald City
on Feb. 21, 2012
I liked this book a lot. It held my attention from the first line onwards. The play on Wizard of Oz is handled deftly and not heavy-handed with th "look at my in-joke" attitude I've seen elsewhere.
Most surprising to me is how well Mr. Beard portrays the first person voice for Gail. His understanding of the teenage psyche is excellent.
There are a couple of downsides, but nothing that would diminish a pleasurable read. One of my main pains in the a.. (I guess the Osland Academy's rule against cursing applies here) is a bit of muddle with the rift watchers' roles since they're referred to both by their first names, then by "Miss Lastname." Maybe my brain cells are firing at full capacity, but I hate having to stop and think who is who.
I got my copy at Smashwords and found a lot of strange errors (missing words or extra words that just didn't smell of typo). At first, I was aghast at the number of errors, but then caught on that the uploaded file to Smashwords might be corrupt. I queried the author about these errors and determined that a flawed file was at fault. The Kindle and B&N editions should be much cleaner and the author is making adjustments. If you got an earlier version with the strangeness, don't count it as a fault.
This is a series, and I'm definitely interested in reading the next book. Best of all, I can choose to continue the series or not. I abhor books in a series that leave a clifhanger of gigantic proportions in an attempt to force the reader to buy the next in a series. My answer is always no. Give me a fully realized story in each book in a series or you won't keep me as a reader. Mr. Beard has done very well in making me WANT to know what happens next, rather than trying to force me to find out.
on April 24, 2012
I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I have to really like a book to continue reading despite so many errors. Ms. Williams: Please look up the homonyms. You mixed up passed and past several times.
The bad stuff out of the way, this is an inventive plot and well-written (ignoring typos and not-quite-right words). The MC, Daniel, was likeable and reacted as a real person might in the strange situations he finds himself in the world of Ether. Matter of fact, all of the main characters were well-drawn and had distinctive voices, something that is often lost with secondary characters.
Despite the typos, I'd still recommend the book as a worthy edition to the non-epic fantasy genre.
- The Marconi Men
on Dec. 03, 2012
I'm not sure I would have liked this book as much as I do if it were about a fictional event. Since the Titanic is very real, Ms. Cockroft's account of the events focusing on a few real characters was very well done. The Foreword warns that some parts are fictionalized, but wasn't the movie Titanic exactly the same. Real people died on that ship and a few real people lived to tell about it.
I very much liked the story being based on the telegraph operators (the Marconi men) because historically we know who they were and we also have evidence of the actual messages sent. This lends so much reality to the story, it was quite fascinating.
- Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Report of the Anthropological Expedition to the Planet Known as Kal-Fa
on March 27, 2013
This is an excellent book. Note that I rarely give 5 stars to anything so I'll have some wiggle room on a review.
Prf. Oliva and her xenoanthropological team are secretly invited to Kal-fa. Why the secrecy? The entities of Kal-fa are considered to be the spiritual guides of the Chu-nesians, the people who live in the same system, but the next planet inward.
What they find there startle, enchant, and disturb the team. The two women, after their initial shock at the nature of the Kal-fas (not sure if this is the plural) proceed with their studies of the low-tech folk. A third member of the team doesn't get over his shock, but, instead, sinks deeper into a loathing of the Kal-fas. To tell you why here would be too huge of a spoiler.
Lorinda Taylor presents a unique situation in the encounters between humans and aliens. Presented in the form of the Proceedings to investigate what had occurred on Kal-fa. Much of the transcript is based on personal journals of the team. This allows for a unique multiple POV presentation, especially interesting because the personal journals are spotty and incomplete.
I was fascinated from beginning to end. This is a wonderful novelette well worth your time. Ms. Taylor's background as a librarian and teacher must be partly why her story seems as well-researched as if the Kal-fas and Chu-nesians were real rather than the highly imaginative output of her imagination.
- The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head: Volume One: The War of the Stolen Mother
on Nov. 20, 2013
This is the first volume in a series following the labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, a warrior of the Shshi race of intelligent termite-like people. It is set on an alien (to humans) world described in an earlier multi-volume novel covering the discovery of the world by humans. In the first book, the point of view is primarily that of Kaitrin Oliva, a human linguistic anthropologist who decodes the Shshi language.
This next multi-volume novel has no humans, only the termites. It's an epic tale told as if narrator Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer is dictating it to his scribe long after the events of the story. This is an effective means of narration because it allows for asides and personal thoughts of Di'fa'kro'mi about the story. I found it amusing when Di'fa comments how he used a bit of literary trickery to describe events happening elsewhere. That is, Di'fa invents a point of view shift. Clever of the author to come right out with it before I made a note about the "POV SHIFT!" Ms. Taylor uses multiple literary devices to get around some of the obstacles a termite might have recording a story for others to read, not just listen to in the oral tradition of the Remembrancers.
This novel is steeped in earth mythos from the role of Di'fa as the Homer of the Shshi to the obvious comparison of Ki'sh to both Ulysses and Hercules of Greek myth, the war with Troy, and a lot of other references I probably missed.
It's a really long first volume, but I'm almost getting used to Ms. Taylor's monolithic multi-volume novels. You certainly get plenty of words for your 99 cents (the price may have changed) and all of them quite necessary to the story. I will always have a problem with the names and the other con-lang (constructed language) features, but this one is footnoted for the most part. As for the names, there's a handy cast of characters and places at the beginning of the book.
What did I love about the book? Lots. The epic sweep of the story (and this is only the first volume of Ki'shto'ba's travels). The warrior is as knightly and honorable as any of King Arthur's court. The brotherly love between Ki'shto'ba and his twin brother, A'zhu'lo (highly unusual in the termite world) is touching and real. I quite enjoyed the antics of Za'dut the trickster outcast who just can't keep his claws off others' property. While playing the clown, he turns out to be quite clever and, at his heart, cares as much for the companions as any of the others.
I think what I want to say is that this novel is deeply and touchingly human although the termite practices are entirely unhuman. The concepts of honor, love, grief, fear, jubilation, caring are all there and I truly believed them.
Well done, very well written, squeaky clean grammar and spelling. Ms. Taylor has made me a fan of the termites even if I can't always remember who's who with the secondary characters. I didn't have a problem remembering the companions who travel on this epic journey.
- The Blessing of Krozem
on Jan. 22, 2014
This short story from the Termite Writer is a complex book in few words. I've been thinking it reminded me of a famous SF author from way back in the 60's, but I can't think of who it is, so I'll write the review without (alas) the reference to famous writer I wanted to use.
Essentially, this story is a "be careful what you wish for" tale. The usual excellent writing is what I've come to expect from Lorinda Taylor.
Hey, the short is free. It won't be a waste of your time.
- The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head: Volume Five: The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine
on Nov. 26, 2014
Okay, if you haven't started with Volume 1 and worked your way through to this 5th volume, you'll have no idea what it's all about. Stop reading the review right now. Go to Amazon or Smashwords and start at the previous two-volume book, "The Termite Queen, Vol. 1" or at least at "The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, Vol. 1" which picks up events after the first book.
While an excellent addition to the epic tale of heroic alien termites, I wanted a little more to highlight Ki'shto'ba's quest's end. As the first volume of the story of Is’a’pai’a's search for the golden (fleece) fungus, it's a smooth transition into the young warrior's quest.
Yes, this is an imagining of Jason and the Argonauts. Most of the characters in the Greek myth are present and accounted for. But this doesn't need to be a deed for deed, character for character retelling. Some aspects of the Jason myth are impossible. For example, Medea as Jason's wife just won't fit into the story of neuter termite warriors. I suspect a Mother (queen) termite will stand in for Medea at some point.
Am I complaining that the epic adventures of Hercules (Ki'shto'ba) and Jason (Is'a'pai'a) are utilized as the basis for the termites' tellings? Not at all. I went to my Dictionary of Mythology to remind myself of the human equivalents to the termite heroes and deeds.
My only problem throughout the series is the con-lang (constructed language) Ms. Taylor has created. It's an impressive feat. On the other hand, it's reading a story with all the names and lots of other words are written in Urdu or Finnish. Hard to remember who is who and what is what. I got used to the main characters' names, but new characters and words introduced along the way didn't stick quite as well. This makes the book difficult to read without breaking immersion. The imaginary "translator" of the termite language text, could easily have said "Since the names are difficult, I will substitute more familiar (or shorter) terms to stand in. Please see the Appendix (yes, there is one) as needed." Thus, Ki'shto'ba would be called Kip or Kish, Is'a'pai'a could be Ike or Isa. I would definitely be easier to read.
The difficulty of maintaining immersion because of the con-lang dropped a star off the rating. In all other ways, I highly recommend both series. I look forward to reading Isa's continued quest for the golden fungus in volume 6.
- The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head: Volume Six: The Revenge of the Dead Enemy
on Dec. 19, 2014
So you think you can't empathize with a giant termite? We've had many insectoid and arachnid heroes in literature. Consider "Charlotte's Web." If you didn't get teary-eyed when Charlotte died, then you must have a heart of stone. Other stories empathetic toward multi-legged creatures: Ant Bully, It's a Bug's Life, Bee Story. I'm sure there are others. I don't usually seek out books about bugs, but I could come up with these examples in a few seconds.
So, what about the entire epic journey "The Labors of Ki'sh'toba: Volumes 1-6?" I have previously reviewed 1-5, not to mention the 2-volume "Termite Queen" saga. I liked them...a lot. I continually complained about the difficult names, places, and concepts with the conlang (constructed language) of the Termite world. Too many apostrophes and a bunch of other punctuation I have no clue how to pronounce.
I will complain no more. I still can't pronounce 90% of the termite language, but I can visually recognize the names of the main characters. All have become familiar and lovable in their own ways. Di'fa'kro'mi, the Remembrancer (story teller) is quite an adept author considering he had to invent a written language in which to tell the tales. I know, the real Remembrancer is Lorinda Taylor, but she is such a wonderful writer, I was immersed in the stories as if they were really told by Di'fa'kro'mi.
As I did when first reading "Charlotte's Web," I wept over the death of some of my favorites throughout the entire six volumes. I cried for termites? Yes, I did, and I'm not ashamed.
The entire tale of Ki'shto'ba and his labors (modeled on the Greek Hercules myth) is hard to get into, but an epic worthy of the difficulty of the journey.
I completely and thoroughly recommend the entire six volumes. But you might want to start with the Termite Queen books to allow yourself to ease into the idea of termite heroes.