Saturday, September 20, 2014

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My Cheese?Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I attended a business meeting where this book was mentioned multiple times as a life-changing read. How could I pass up on that kind of recommendation? So, I picked it up and read through it one evening. It was short, with an obvious but poignant message. Was it a life changer? I don't think so. Did it make me think a little bit about how I am approaching current challenges in my life? Yes. The only constant is change, and we have to stay on our toes if we are going to keep up with it. Often our natures are against change; we love the status quo, but that is not where the opportunity is in life.

I like the message, but I can't say I can give it the glowing endorsement that others did.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Witches Brew (Magic Kingdom of Landover #5) by Terry Brooks

Witches' Brew (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #5)Witches' Brew by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Again, this book has so much more to offer than the previous books in this series. The only part that seemed like a hack was the ease with which Mistaya was subverted in the beginning. It isn't in keeping with her character, and makes the rest of the story, which I thought was very well done, feel contrived. Also, while I have complained in the past about introducing unrelated new characters, adding a new protagonist in this book seemed natural and not at all distracting to the past characters or plots.

Oh, and I like Strabo. I don't know why. While he often plays an important strategic role throughout the stories, his character seems like a bit of a misfit. We'll see what he grows into in the next book (when it comes out.)

A random musing: I wonder what Terry Brooks would do differently if he really could start this series over...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Tangle Box (Magic Kingdom of Landover #4) by Terry Brooks

The Tangle Box (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #4)The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, I have to point out that the quality of writing improves with every book in this series, which is probably due to the time and experience that Terry Brooks gains between each one. With the previous book published in 1987, and this one in 1995, it seems that Brooks comes back to this series in between other books for a little fun now and then, and I appreciate that. The improvements are subtle: the characters are little more authentic, the conflicts a little more real, etc. While I comment from time to time on my dream of becoming a writer, I'm not doing what I need to do to succeed at that right now (i.e. write every day) and watching his writing grow and improve gives me hope that there is still time.

Aside from my personal response, this book has some of the same problems his others did. We have yet another villain, who once again can destroy everything. At least Michael Ard Rhi from the last book was involved in a previous story line, even if only indirectly. I think it is important to have an overarching evil to fight for the whole series to tie things together. Then there is the experience of Ben and the witch while in the Tangle Box... lets just say it's a little random, and somewhat disturbing. All that I'm saying is that Brooks could have accomplished the same thing without taking it to that level.

So I liked this book as another fun read, and recognize the improvements it offers, but again it is not a quality read for me. Will I read on in the series? Of course.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wizard at Large (Magic Kingdom of Landover #3) by Terry Brooks

Wizard at Large (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #3)Wizard at Large by Terry Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The huge upgrade in this book was the danger. It was a page turner because the enemy, Michel Ard Rhi, was SO evil and SO powerful. He overthrew governments and had his own army. Our heroes had no money, no weapons and no time. This makes a great conflict that makes the reader hungry to know what happens next.

There was a significant logic error in this book. Late in the story when Quester is going to find Strabo to ask his help, we review the fact that it is impossible to cross the mists without the medallion or a dragon, yet the entire story was based on exactly that happening, not once, but twice! This seems like a huge oversight. I include things like that when I consider the quality of the book, so for me this was a fun, but low quality read.

My last issue is about the final fight. There was a huge climax with the medallion, but then there was still the storyline around the bottle hanging out there to get resolved, which had its own climax. The second resolution was smaller because Brooks stopped building it up halfway through the book. The utopian option would be to somehow resolve all of the conflicts in one confrontation, which would have required getting Nightshade to Seattle somehow, so that would have been tough. Another option would have been to continue giving updates on the crises in Landover while we worked on the other issues, which would continue to grow that second conflict until it was resolved. Just a thought. Nothing like a back seat driver with hindsight making complaints.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Black Unicorn (Magic Kingdom of Landover #2) by Terry Brooks

The Black Unicorn (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #2)The Black Unicorn by Terry Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So this is a good sequel to the first Landover book in that it further expands the characters and, being a fantasy, the world. The missed opportunity is that we didn't see a common conflict introduced or developed. Sure, we met some common enemies, but common conflict would have tied this book to the previous one (and any that are to follow) nicely. Also, I don't think that the magic in this series is explained well. I guess I don't see the theory of how it works, and for an adult fantasy I think that is important. Stuff can't just poof out of nowhere. Ironically, I was taught this fact by Terry Brooks` autobiography called Sometimes the Magic Works. I guess he figured that little tidbit out after he wrote this one.

Another thought that came to me in this book... Terry Brooks` names don't strike me as hugely creative (Ben, Willow, Quester) but they don't matter. They aren't bad names, they are just very .... English sounding. At the end of the day, I don't care. The characters are who they are, and have the problems that they have, and the story would be successful no matter what the names were, and that is my key take away.

A good, but decidedly average 3 stars.