It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, having been preoccupied with other matters that kept deterring me. I’ll try to get back on a more regular schedule, but in the meantime, here are reviews I’ve done recently of four books by friends of mine. These are books I can unhesitatingly recommend, not because their authors are my friends but because they are well and professionally written novels worthy of attention. I should add that I don’t like giving a book a bad review, so if I’m asked to review a book and after reading it I find I cannot give it a good review, I won’t review it at all. I was not asked to review these books. After reading them, I wanted to review them. These four novels are books I have not the slightest qualm about reviewing favorably. I enjoyed reading them and look forward to reading other books by these authors.
Weapon of Blood, by Chris A. Jackson
This sequel to the fantasy novel Weapon of Flesh is every bit as good as the first book, though if you haven’t read Weapon of Flesh, I recommend starting with it. Warning: once you start reading either book, you’ll find it hard to put down. The characters are well developed and compelling, the plot is enthralling, and the action nonstop. There are thrills and surprises in every chapter. I can’t wait to read the third book.
The Alien Within, by J. M. Bolton
This is an intriguing science fiction tale with believable characters and several unexpected twists. I love space opera, which this is, but it is more than that. It delves deeply into the psychology and motivating factors that have molded the lead characters, Winter and Shaw. Both have events in their backgrounds they have suppressed and concealed, and those events must be faced and dealt with as they cope with alien attacks, difficult decisions, and questions of loyalty and to whom it’s owed.
Captive Audience, by William Hatfield
When the cruise ship Jade Viking is drawn up into the hold of a huge alien spaceship, no one on earth knows what has happened to the ship. It seems to have simply disappeared. But its passengers are all too aware of their perilous situation. Some panic, others try to bluff and bluster their way out of the situation, and some, led by actor and martial arts expert Jim Morris, resolve to find a way to free themselves. This is a rousing good adventure with intriguing characters. It kept me reading and left me eager to read the sequel. Morris’s feats of strength and agility at times strain credibility, but that quibble is easy to overlook in this fast-paced, high action space opera.
Billy Boy, by Joyce Milne D’Auria
As she did in My Blood is Royal, in this related novel D’Auria has again transported her readers to another century and another place. The mining town of Whifflet , Scotland in the mid-1800s is dirty, unhealthy, and filled with families condemned to a hard and poverty-stricken life. Despite or perhaps because of the precariousness of their existence, the people of Whifflet revel in the rivalry between the Scots and the Irish, between Protestants and Catholics, the orange and the green. Into this world comes Billy, born of an unwed young Catholic woman and a married Protestant man. His mother dies shortly after his birth, and Billy spends his first year of life in the poor house. His aunt , his father’s sister, learns of his existence and rescues him. Although the home to which she takes him is in only marginally better surroundings, his aunt is determined to give him an education and a decent chance in life. But his mother’s family are aware of who his mother is, and as he grows up and learns the circumstances of his birth, he is caught up in the rivalry between the Irish and the Scots. The vivid portrayal of the hard life led by the mining families and the difficulty of escaping that life is heart-breaking. It is assumed that all able-bodied young men will leave school at an early age and go to work in the mines. Billy cannot escape the tension between his Irish Catholic relatives and his Scottish Protestant aunt. The reader will keep turning pages, hoping that Billy will not fall into the almost inescapable hardscrabble existence that characterizes most of the villagers. Short chapters make it easy to keep reading “just one more,” eager to follow the ups and downs of Billy’s life. The novel is not all grim. There is laughter along with the tears as the pages are turned and the story unfolds in its unforgettable way.
I hope these reviews will inspire other readers to review books they’ve read recently, and I dare hope that some of you will review books of mine.