Friday, January 16, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (5)

Reviews of my favorite 2014 books continued.

Just a Smidgen of Magic: Enchantment at the Edge of MundaneJust a Smidgen of Magic: Enchantment at the Edge of Mundane by Charlotte Henley Babb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish this book was longer. Compiled from a few short stories dealing with magic, it reads like a set of beautiful long poems.

If this was a novel, I wouldn't have liked the "flowery" language. I always say, "get on with the story." However, in such short works as these, the mundane does become the magical. For example (two of many I noted):

"She pulled the gibbering fears through her heart and into the earth below her, like a rod grounding lightning safely into the earth, where they would become life energy."


"Wizards know that white magic is poetry, and black magic is anything that works."

I've read some of Ms. Babb's other books. All whimsical, but closer to childrens' fairy tales. These stories are beautifully written little gems.

More, I say, MORE! Well done, Charlotte Babb.

Trial by Ordeal (Valda & the Valkyries, #1)Trial by Ordeal by Mark Neumayer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As Charming as How to Train Your Dragon

I really enjoyed the first in the Valda the Valkyrie stories. The plucky dwarf, Valda, finds herself tapped to be a Valkyrie by Odin. The only thing she had in common with the nordic goddesses was blonde hair, which is unheard of for a dwarf.

Since Valda has few qualifications for the job. The other Valkyies treat her like dirt, but that doesn't keep Valda down. She makes friends with the thralls and less-than-heroic warriors inhabiting Valhalla. Given the crappy jobs all the time, Valda finds a way to make it a positive experience even if she does cry herself to sleep every night. When she can get any sleep at all. The head Valkyrie, Kara, has a particular grudge against Valda and makes the dwarf girl's life as miserable as possible.

The references to the Norse myths are accurate and included a few of gods I hadn't heard of before. The author's take on how Valhalla operates is a far cry from the Avengers' Thor version, but I kind of like it better.

This is a book for kids of all ages. Since I write books for kids, I found it just at the right level, with good deeds and persistence rewarded, but without pounding a kid (even an old kid like me) over the head with a moral. Kids aren't so dumb they can't get the lesson without the author telling them what it is.

I recommend it.

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