Refugees (Mud, Rocks, and Trees #1)

Refugees begins with three unique characters from different parts of the world and very different backgrounds. They’re young, inexperienced and looking to make their mark in the world. Each one wants to become their own person but they also have to deal with problems they never saw coming. A new star has been spotted in the sky and it represents the beginning of an ancient prophecy.

The prophecy states that a new kingdom will emerge built with the elements of mud, rocks and trees. Representing each element is one of the main characters: Amanki, Brina and Moshoi, the future leaders of the new kingdom. They all have a mentor named Baskrod that will help them but they are also being hunted by an evil emperor who wishes to put a stop to the prophecy.

Refugees (Mud, Rocks, and Trees #1) by R.A. Denny is a coming of age story in a world that is very different from ours. I love how the author does a slow build letting us learn about each character before they all experience an event that turns their world upside down. You care about them because you see them as they deal with the end of their old lives and watch them create a new life. There is  one great scene where Amanki looses his faith after the death of his mother and the destruction of his village. You also see him regain his faith through relationships with other characters. Faith seems to be a main theme in this book as well as learning to accept those who are different than yourself.

I admit I’m not a huge fan of epic fantasy but I have to admire this book and the scope of the story that is being told. R.A. Denny is creating a whole new mythology that is based on old mythologies. The attention to detail is astonishing, the author takes her time describing the characters, their lives, the societies they live in and the gods they worship. The amount of work that must have gone into creating the world of Mud, Rock and Trees is impressive.

Refugees is the beginning of a six book fantasy adventure and lays a good foundation for what’s to come in the series. It’s also a good book to help kids learn the joys of reading. My only complaint was in the beginning I felt the book was taking too much time describing the people and the world they live in. Though I guess with a story that has so much depth to it  you have to spend a lot of time setting the stage. If you love fantasy then this is a book that you  will want to pick up. Be prepared to buy the next five books in the series because your going to get hooked on these characters.

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Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths

“Life asked Death, ‘Why do people love me, but hate you?’
Death responded, ‘Because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth.’ ”
~Anonymous

Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths is an anthology edited by Karen T. Newman that’s all about death. Even though that’s the subject matter the mood isn’t always dark. This anthology spans several genres including Science fiction, horror, mystery and even some humor. Well written and well-edited, this book may be long but it’s hard to put down.There aren’t any bad stories here but to keep this review from being to long, I decided to just talk about a few stories:

Family Ties by Cara Fox deals with a daughter whose father just happens to be the grim reaper. The daughter’s name is Zoe and where the reaper’s job is to take souls, Zoe has the ability to save them but there is a price to saving souls. I loved how this story gets into the balance between life and death and the idea that in some situations a long life can be a curse.

Where I would look at Family Ties as being horror ,With Infinite Complacency
by Steve Cameron is a science fiction tale. This story follows astronauts in a space station as they witness the end of civilization due to nuclear war.  They can’t return to earth due to contamination and are stuck alone in space. I love the concept in this story and the twist at the end. I also loved the idea how would you feel if you were alone in the universe?

Proving that this anthology has a wide range of stories another great tale is Death and the Horse by Terri Bruce. This is a fantasy story about Death needing a horse in able to do his job a little faster. This story throws in a lot of different mythological characters and has a good sense of humor to it, showing that stories about death can be funny.

The Fall by Paul K. Metheney is another one with a comedic edge to it that focuses on a man who is about to jump off a cliff. Before he does, God shows up and says he will fix his life if the man can ask 20 good questions about the meaning of life. This is such a good simple story and I love how it touches on the philosophy of life and it makes a good point about accepting the bad with the good.

Pondering Eternity Over Waffles at Last Call by JCC Downing is another one that gets into the philosophy of life quite a bit. This one deals with a young woman and an older man who manages to become friends but the man has a big secret. Once again this is a simple tale with some deep meaning to it and the idea that you can’t have good without the bad is center stage.

Another good one that is very different from every other tale in this book is Selfie Warfare
by Shaun Avery. The story looks at the concept of how social media effects two people. While pleasing a virtual audience is shown as a bad thing for both characters, they both react in different ways to the problem. I think a good question raised here is what are you missing out on if you live your life online?

I think the thing I enjoyed most about this anthology is that even though it’s about death, it isn’t a sad book. Most of the stories include themes on how precious life is and how the choices we make effect us. There are several genres included in this book and they all look at the philosophy of life a little differently.  This book has a little bit of everything and no matter what form of literature you like there will be something in Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths that you will enjoy.

 

 

Batman Vol. 4 The War Of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth)

In Zero year the city of Gotham was left with no power, for a year and The Riddler ruled the night. When power was restored a war began to claim Gotham City’s underworld and the right to kill Batman between The Riddler and The Joker. This story was kept a secret but now Batman tells Catwoman what exactly happened in the Zero war.

Batman Vol. 4 The Of Jokes and Riddles is (Rebirth) written by Tom King and illustrated by Mikel Janin. The art in this graphic novel is fantastic and does a great job setting a dark mood for the story. Looking at it made me feel like I was reading an old 1930’s Noir mystery.

The story has all of Gotham’s criminals in it and non stop action. What’s most interesting in the story is the idea that the Joker can’t laugh and The Riddler can’t tell riddles until Batman is killed. The story is simple and entertaining with the art complimenting it perfectly.

One of the best lines in this book comes from Catwoman. When asked why she hasn’t picked a side in the war she answers that she doesn’t want to work with them because they are criminals. She then corrects herself by saying they’re unsuccessful criminals. Another great scene has The Joker and The Riddler describing what they plan to do with Batman as Batman listens to them as Bruce Wayne. During this scene the dialogue is excellent with The Riddler giving an elaborate plan to kill Batman while The Joker just says he’s just going to simply strangle him and that’s it. If you’re a Batman fan this is a must have book.