Month: August 2015

Book Review: Queen of Fire, by: Anthony Ryan

I give Queen of Fire four out of five stars for a large ending to a wonderful series. Ryan has a clear narrative voice, and is a master at constructing battle scenes. I enjoyed the characters in this series and all the adapted myth’s and intersecting alternative histories portrayed. I leave this series content with the answers provided to the many mysteries that bind the Raven’s Shadow trilogy together.

Blood Song was a story told from a single point of view, with a beautiful plot arch. Tower Lord expanded the mystery’s found in Blood Song and provided more point of views, and a fast paced engrossing story. Hold onto your mind when you start Queen of Fire, and be prepared for information propelled via fire hose. Game of thrones fans would pass out if they were given a sixteenth of the plot work that Ryan revealed in this one book.

It’s not to say I’m one hundred percent happy with the answers given to the many plot questions. I’m merely content. I still want to know where the ancient woman, her husband, and her brother came from. The alien’s, turned demons, turned afterlife power eater, turned creature afraid of hungry things in rocks, was a little much for me. Especially when this was contrasted against the trilogy’s exploration of faith and the afterlife, with cursory looks at real world current and dead spiritual beliefs. This is message fiction with a fractured twist, and it will leave you with less hope than the message fiction of C.S. Lewis.

I like books with lots of characters. I also like books that take me to new places, and have battle scenes. I never thought I would complain about a book giving me too much of any of these things, but Queen of Fire was too much. I think Ryan could have pared or combined these elements, or just written more. Written more, yes I know don’t hit me, this is epic fantasy people, and there were times where I swear I caught sight of evidence that an editor’s blade had hacked at Ryan’s brilliance. The well set pace found in the first two books was very off in this one. Anyway more or less would have improved the strength of this book. After awhile I was thinking, “Another tribe? We’re meeting another northern tribe? Haven’t we already covered all the ancient native tribes of Canada and Alaska?” Or “Another battle in the empire? Will this be a battle where key supporting characters get killed?” Battle, after battle, after battle grinding everybody into submission, but with majority of the named characters walking away alive each time, the dramatic effect of the battle scenes wore off.

In the end I wanted to get drunk with Norte and yell at Ryan because I too was mad that he killed my cat. Overall the series is a great story, and I can’t wait to see what author Anthony Ryan writes next.

I made reservations for our four night camping trip, August 16th-20th 2015, back in February 2015. At the time I had no specific park in mind. I decided this trip was a good opportunity to pick a campground that was three or more hours from our home in the Twin Cities Metro area. I wanted to go to a park new to us, with a swim beach, and in an area we would not be traveling to any other time this year. Reviewing maps and availability, Bear Head Lake State Park was the winner. As I shared our summer plans with family and friends I heard great things about the park, and I also learned it was named America’s Favorite Park in 2010. We paid $23.00 a night for drive in site 67, and there was an $8.50 reservation fee. We have an annual Minnesota state park vehicle pass, which is $25.00 and grants you access to all of Minnesota’s seventy-five parks.

Things we liked about the campsite:

  • Well maintained campfire ring
  • Picnic table
  • Wooded and with large mature trees and the sites arrayed to make them secluded from neighboring sites

Drawbacks to the campground:

  • The campgrounds were tighter than we expected. We use one family tent with a seventeen-foot span and it was a squeeze. We did not put up our dining tent because of lack of space. Looking around at other sites they are all designed on a similar footprint with exceptions being those made for larger RV’s.

Things we liked about the park:

  • They had planned staff lead activities during the weekdays and not just the weekend.
  • The park is very picturesque. It’s not your average park in Minnesota.
  • The hiking trails are well maintained.
  • The swim beach has several shaded picnic tables and shares access with a fishing dock.
  • It is near Downtown Ely, which has interesting places for both children and adults to visit. Including: The International Wolf Center, The Superior National Forest headquarters, and the North American Bear Center.
  • There is a fairly new trail center, and it is beautiful. I found it scenic enough to be a popular rental for hosting small weddings.

Wildlife observed: Native and migrating birds including loon, woodpecker, an entire family of blue jays, ravens, bald eagles, and barred owl, and hawks. We saw frogs, a giant snapping turtle, several species of butterfly and moths. We found evidence of black bear, and beaver. The most unique wildlife experience was to hear wolves howling at night.

Activities: Hiking, swim beach, fishing dock, and boat rentals for canoes/kayaks/and paddleboards.

Bear Head Lake State Park, 9301 Bear Head State Park Road, Ely, MN 55731, 218-365-7229

 

Book Review: Dead in the Water by: Carol Davis

I give this book five out of five stars for being a book you will pick up and freak out if you have to put it down, well defined characters, impeccable dialog, and tale that combines my favorite parts of investigation and the paranormal. The read was refreshingly good with characters making choices you were begging them not to make, and internal drama that overlapped with the ongoing action.

What I loved about this book:

1) The characters were engaging and full of things to love and hate. I liked how the ongoing action brought up thoughts and memories of the past within each character point of view. Each character presented was interesting and the more I learned the more I wanted to know about them.

2) Author Carol Davis has a gift for dialog. There was not a single line that rang as contrived or false. I was laughing along with the internal character thoughts, and chuckling at the banter between the main characters. Both added such a nice layer of authenticity to the relationships.

3) The pacing of the story was spot on. There were nice twists and unexpected revelations as the action progressed. Transitions were well timed, and the various point of views worked well.

This is the first book I’ve read by Davis, and I know I will seek out more of her work in the future. I hope she decides to write more books about the lives and investigations of Terry and Nick, I for sure would be eager to read them.

You can find out more about author Carol Davis and her books HERE.