Book Review

If you’re looking for a good read…

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When I find myself on the hunt for a new read–and want something that is thought provoking and beautifully written, rather than quick and mind-numbing–I invariably pull up Hawthorne Book‘s catalog and pick one of their backlist that I haven’t yet had a chance to read. They are an independent publisher out of Oregon that publishes nothing but absolutely incredible work. I have studied under two of their authors (Michael Strelow and Scott Nadelson) and fallen in love with several others (Poe Ballantine of note, and I cannot wait for his new book, set to come out next year!).

Their dedication to superb work extends not only to the work they choose to publish, but to the design and printing of the books themselves. They are sleekly designed with archival quality paper and heavy duty spines to withstand rugged loving, yet provide the reader with a truly pleasant reading experience.

But enough gushing over the paper stock. I will have some reviews up soon on some of their books, including Clown Girl by Monica Drake and Scott Nadelson’s new collection Aftermath. And who knows, I’ll probably keep digging through the backlist and reviewing more of their books; frankly, I always enjoy them so much I can’t stop talking about them anyways, so you all might as well get a taste!

Here come the elves!

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Cleanse Fire, the first book of the Kinir Elite chronicles by Anastasia V. Pergakis, is a fun new take on a classic genre: high fantasy. By this, I mean the tradition of J.R.R and Dragonlance, but with an added dash of military thriller. In Cleanse Fire, the Elves we are introduced to are part of an elite fighting squadron known as the Kinir Elite; they may look like gorgeous elves, but they fight like Marines.

Some bad-ass elves here...

But enough set-up, here’s the meat. The plot is engaging, and calls to mind some of the military thrillers of Dan Brown (no, not Angels and Demons, but the Scarecrow series, much better stuff) as well as the fantasy styling of Dragonlance. The characters themselves have complex backgrounds and are not the simple one dimensional critters you sometimes find in fantasy novels that rely solely on their mythical race to provide depth. These characters are full-fledged characters.

The only negatives come in the mechanics of the writing, and those I think can be chalked up entirely to the fact that this is the first of what is sure to be a fun series. The plot and characters are enough to carry you over the rough spots, that’s for sure; and, as the stories continue, I know the writing is going to mature wonderfully.

Though one of the best aspects of the whole thing? Part of the cover price goes to charity. That’s right, a portion of each sale goes to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity dedicated to supporting wounded veterans. That in itself is totally worth the $4.99 Kindle price, where it is available now. Hardcopy books are available starting on December 21st.

My first review…

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Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams was a thoroughly enjoyable book. Usually, I am not someone who voluntarily picks up non-fiction, but I was drawn to this book as it covers a location that I am most keen in visiting eventually: Machu Picchu.

When I first heard about the book, it was billed as one man’s journey through the ruins of Peru and, eventually, Machu Picchu. What you get, however, is a blending of three stories. You have the history of the conquistadors in Peru and the resulting insurgent war, then you have Hiram Bingham trying to find the lost city of the Incas in 1911 and then you have Mark Adams following in the footsteps of that explorer, retracing the roads and paths that Bingham originally traveled.

Adams does a magnificent job weaving the three story lines together so you are not lost at any step and each informs and enriches the other. There are modern travel tips nestled in next to references from ancient religious tracts written by visiting priests–and neither seem out of place. The only hiccup in reading comes from the liberal use of Qechua names, which is only appropriate, given the context of the story. But I am someone who can’t move on until I’ve figure out how each one could be pronounced, and I would then promptly forget be the time I saw the name next. Thus, it took a bit longer to get through than my usual, but it was still highly enjoyable.

I would definitely recommend giving this book a once through if you enjoy true life adventure texts or are at all interested in the Inca history of Peru. It is well researched and splendidly presented for an overall informative and delightful read.