Book Review: A Rip in Time (A Rip Through Time #1) by Kelley Armstrong (four stars)

Book Review: A Rip in Time (A Rip Through Time #1) by Kelley Armstrong (four stars)

“It would make for interesting detective fiction.” “No, it would not. Do you know why? Because you are not detectives.” “All the best detectives are amateurs. Every reader knows that.”

4.5 stars. Jessica Fletcher does Jack the Ripper. Twenty-first century Canadian detective vaults to Victorian Edinburgh, with a rope around her neck. Connecticut Yankee. Who would you trust? Who would trust you? Except for that leap, not-quite-paranormal. Excellent historical fiction. Great character building. A dash of humor.

“Do I even want to ask what you’re doing?” “Science.” “I see. And more specifically?”

The protagonist may blurt modern idioms, but nineteenth-century middle-class Scots shouldn’t. “Not really my thing.” “medical-school dropout.” Such phrases break the spell of the story. Edgy but not offensive language. Excellent use of crossed purposes, hasty assumptions, and thwarted expectations. Not to mention prejudices.

‘It’s a late-night knock at the back door to a funeral parlor. Of course I want to know who it is.’

Tightly focused story. No culture, sports, society, or politics. Opinions about the 1868 Representation of the People (Scotland) Act should have been on everyone’s tongue. Hardly any mention of the Queen, nor relations with England, though radicals are portrayed as anti-immigrant. (Allusions galore, starting with the title. Dr. Gray could be a fictional Dr. Joseph Bell.)

‘We may keep secrets to protect others, but they will only ever feel we didn’t trust them enough to share.’

Book Review: The Steel of Raithskar by Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron (three stars)

Book Review: The Steel of Raithskar (The Gandalara Cycle #1) by Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron (three stars)

“Terrorism and greed were the watchwords of my time. The world had learned to be cynical.”

Rousing opening to a swords-and not-very-tame-tigers fantasy series. Told first person, drawing the reader into the protagonist’s confusion and analysis. Excellent world and culture building.

These people were not homo sapiens, strickly (sic) speaking, but they were utterly human. And throughout the human history of my world, no police force had ever given up on a cop-killer.

Tame violence, language, and sex by current standards, which is a plus. Framing story surrounding framing story. Numerous typos mar the text. Published in 1981, perhaps errors resulted from an un-proofed optical character scan conversion of the text. Satisfying close to first story.

“It was as though the flim (sic) of life had stopped and I was looking at a single frame frozen on the screen. The title of the film should have been Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes.”

Book Review: Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia de Havilland (Four Stars)


Book Review: Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia de Havilland

Four Stars

“I’m not at all sure if you know that I’m alive.”

So she was/is. One hundred years old, and still living in Paris, which was the point when she wrote this book sixty years ago. She was a big Hollywood deal before most of us were born.

This short book is a chatty, personal memoir of her moving to Paris and marrying a Frenchman in the 1950s. Paris then–France then–clutched the tatters of its legacy as the center of the world, politically and in fashion. Though she still lives there; she probably doesn’t recognize today’s Paris.

“If you are loved by the French as a whole, you really feel loved.

Her adjustment to France and the French made for many humorous episodes which she relates in a conversational style. She suffered many of the misconceptions of fellow Americans and committed many gaffes, but no faux pas. (The significant difference is explained therein.)

What does every Frenchman have? A liver. And how he cares for it makes for a humorous tale in itself.

She learned, “The importance of tact, restraint, subtlety, and the avoidance of banality.”

Book Review: Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster (Three Stars)

Book Review: Spellsinger (Spellsinger #1) Alan Dean Foster

Three Stars

“The strange quasi-science [he] called magic. Or was the wizard right and science was really quasi-magic?”

Dreadfully slow pace. Almost quit after fifty pages; almost quit again fifty pages from the end when I realized nothing was going to happen in this volume. This story merely introduces the characters, world and issue for the greater series. Still, Foster tells a good story.

“This land he now found himself in was no more alien-appearing than Amazonian Peru, and considerably less so than Manhattan.”

Populating his world with human-like mammals is automatically works against stereotypes. In addition, Foster works counter expectations with an artsy male, who is repelled by the fantasy work he’s been thrown into, and an athletic female who embraces it.

“The appetite for evil far exceeds that of the benign.”

Many readers love these never-ending tales; I don’t. I won’t be back.

“It wouldn’t be any fun if it didn’t have any danger.”

Book Review: Sword of the Bright Lady by M. C. Planck (Four Stars)

Book Review: Sword of the Bright Lady (World of Prime #1) by M. C. Planck

Four Stars

“Sometimes peoples would rather cling to a pretty lie than face an ugly truth, especially if the lie is one they’ve told themselves about themselves.”

Kept from being a typical Connecticut Yankee in medieval European culture by the strong internal voice of our displaced protagonist and his strong sense of right and wrong. Better than average story of a stranger in a strange land.

“… with hope came fear. The mixture was indistinguishable from anger.”

Both magic and faith work, the latter healing and rejuvenating. The former produces fireballs.

“I must respect the will of the gods, assuming I can figure out what that is.”

Humor is integral to the story. Christopher recognizes the emperor’s clothes, but also sees worth and potential in his rustic new surroundings.

“This is how we defeat Evil. It cannot comprehend Good. Well, that and fireballs.”

Minor typos, such as “abject lessons.”

“My cynicism remains untroubled by hope.”

Cover art quibble: a revolving receiver rifle pictured while the text describes a rolling block design. Very different looking.

“You underestimate yourself. Stop it. It’s stupid and weak.”