Since the Tackle TBR challenge, I’ve had a slowdown in my reading rate. But there were a few books I hadn’t reviewed before that challenge started, and with the Book v Movie last week, I felt the need to catch up on some quick reviews. So here goes.
One Man No Plan, and Looking for Trouble (K’Barthan series books 3 and 4), by M T McGuire
When we finished Book 2, The Wrong Stuff, the Pan of Hamgee had found the Chosen One, fallen in love with her, and was desperately trying to save her from the evil Lord Vernon. But he had just stolen their portal technology to raid the secret hideout of the Underground, in a swish club in the London of our universe (as opposed to the Pan’s alternate one), with inside help from the double-dealing General Moteurs. Have I already mentioned the author’s penchant for pun-ishingly bad character names? They’re usually very funny! One Man No Plan starts where book 2 left off, with the Pan setting off to rescue the Chosen One. There’s a lot of great action in the Grongolian palace in this section of the adventure, and the Pan is in there, rescuing, escaping, and running away as usual. He’s getting increasing trouble from voices in his head, and the ring that insisted he wore it is also causing undue attention. Book 3 races through a week of wondering what to do to prevent Lord Vernon marrying the love of the Pan’s life, with excellent friends like Pub Quiz Alan rallying around when the Pan is landed with Gladys and Vera’s pub to run as his own, courtesy of Lord Vernon, and General Moteurs turning up in increasingly bizarre circumstances, raising the question of his loyalties beyond imagination. Well, I got thoroughly confused, anyway.
At last the Pan reaches book 4, knowing what he has to do, roughly, on Saturday, the wedding day, and a glimmer of understanding of what has been blindingly obvious to all his friends (and us) for at least two books. And it all ends as it has to, with the Pan’s sacrifice and the prophecies coming true. I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler, since you know how double-edged prophecies can be, and these are no different from any others in their waywardness.
The K’Barthan Trilogy (shortly to be retitled ‘series’, since some anally retentive internet users complained bitterly that four books doth not a trilogy make). Obviously they are not Monty Python fans – and the ludicrousness of some of McGuire’s inventions will be adored by Pythonesques, as well as by punners, twisters, bizarros, and weirdies. Terry Pratchett fans may well take to M T McGuire’s books. I took to them even though I’m not a Pratchett aficionado. But I do love weird, wacky and off-the-ball fun fiction. With a seriously inventive scifi bent.
And I love the Pan. And, strangely, General Moteurs and Pub Quiz Alan. Possibly Merv, too. And I want a snurd. Read the books. I’m sure if you like my blog you’ll love these books.
Tara Thunderbolt and the Sky Dancer Cat by Perri Birney
And now for something completely different, we have a troubled teen girl turning into someone with superpowers. That’s a rather trite summary of something I couldn’t quite settle my mind on. The adventures of Tara while looking for the Answer, were extremely well written, well-presented social problems, which aim to raise awareness of the many injustices heaped upon this world by multinational corporations riding roughshod over the indigenous populations in the name of profit. “You don’t have any papers saying this is your land, so we’ll take it and your country’s government will support us.”
It’s a familiar story, which is currently being pushed along by the super-powers under the heading of free trade – the TTIP. In 1999 it was the MLTA. It keeps coming back and we need to keep opposing it. I’m not sure whether the authors of this book are just intent on raising awareness among young Americans, but it does come over a little patronising if you aren’t American. The situations encountered are real for any world citizen, but must use other world citizens to demonstrate the other perspectives, so it gets a bit tricky.
I think this is a difficulty of writing in what is now a global market. You may have a perspective that is very good for your ‘home’ market, but may not translate so well elsewhere. Yet your book is available everywhere, and presented to other cultures as a global issue which, actually, may be one of your own making.
Other than that, it’s a good story with some clunky connections, and some valuable ideas for insular teens.
Turtle Feathers by Marian Allen
This has been on my kindle for years, I probably got it free, and by the look of the other reviews, I got it at the same time as them. I wished I’d got around to reading it earlier, since it’s a highly engaging set of often very funny short stories, mostly with animal protagonists of one sort or another. Wacky and delightful (and mostly for grown-ups, I think). I must read more from Marian Allen.
I have to share this review from Chris The Story Reading Ape, though, since he gets it perfectly:
“Having read a short sample of one of the stories ‘For a few bottles more’ about a penguin who thinks his fortune is made when he discovers a cache of Scotch, I bought this book anticipating a good read.
What I found was a whole bookful of great reads.”
NOTE: links in headings are to Goodreads; internal links are to reviews on this blog