Tuesday, September 25, 2018

All Things True - Greg James

   2018; 102 pages.  Book 3 of “The Chronicles of Willow Grey” trilogy.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Young Adult Dark Fantasy Adventure (per the author and sounds good to me); Coming of Age.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    The Voyage of the Pale Ship is over; young Willow Grey has returned to Tirlane!  Or what’s left of it, after the evil Lamia and her unstoppable minions have devastated the fair land, killing anything and every living thing they can find.  Vibrant, green plant life has been reduced to brown-black dead fields, and the corpses of animals, large and small, lie strewn everywhere.

     A few creatures remain alive: mostly those that are fleet of foot and have found handy places to hide from the marauding predators.  Willow hopes to come across some of these, to aid her in her quest, since her beloved mentor, guide, and most of all, friend in this strange world, Henu the Wealdsman, did not make it to the end of the voyage on the Pale Ship.  Now Willow must face her Fate alone.

    Alas, only Doom lies ahead for her.  The Lamia is many times more powerful than Willow, and commands legions of fearsome and merciless beasts to do her evil bidding without question.  Yet it is Willow’s lot to face the Lamia in a battle to the death.

    It’s a struggle that Willow cannot win, and the outcome can only be her death.  Yet the puzzling words uttered by both Henu and the wise old healer Starababa keep echoing in Willow’s mind.

    “Your time with us is nearly over.  Remember, it is not death if you accept it.”

What’s To Like...
    All Things True is the final episode in the trilogy The Chronicles of Willow Grey.  The author labels it a “Young Adult Dark Fantasy Adventure”, and that seems apt to me.  The tension has been building for two books now, and it is time to face the Lamia.

    The storytelling style is the same as in the other two books:  there are lots of critters to meet and greet (most of which are deadly), lots of places to visit, zero slow spots, and lots of magical objects to ooh-&-aah over, including the thule which every creature good and evil covets.

    The amazing thing is that Greg James packs all of this, including the final showdown, into 102 pages, which my Kindle says I should be able to read in just slightly more than one hour.  That makes it a novella, but don’t think of it as a quick read for a book report that’s due tomorrow – this is not a standalone novel, and there isn’t much of a backstory supplied, so you'd have to read the whole trilogy.  Indeed, since the other two books in the series are each less than 200 pages in length, this series screams to be marketed as a bundle.

    There aren’t a lot of characters to keep track of, and since there’s a war-to-the-death going on, the mortality rate is somewhat steep.  Willow finds a couple new companions to aid her in her quest, and the lessons she’s learned during her voyage with Henu have turned her into a formidable mage, at least when confronted with beasts other than the Lamia.

    The book is written in English, not American, which I always enjoy.  So things are meagre, feathers may be moulted, and you might apologise for your lack of armour.  The 102 pages are divided into 17 chapters, and a beautiful poem that serves as the Epilogue.  This is a YA book; I recall only a single cussword: at one point an evil critter calls Willow a “bitchling”.

    There are some neat extras at the back, including a map of Tirlane and a glossary, which comes in quite handy, even for those of us who have read the earlier books.  The Table of Contents is also there, and I can't for the life of me figure out why that wasn’t at the front of the book.

    “She’s still here then?”
    “She will be until the last trace of life has left Tirlane,” Nastonik said, “which could be any day now.  The Behemoths will not rest until they have consumed everything that draws breath.”
    “D’you think she can help us stop them?”
    “Stop them?  My, my, you are either ambitious, or very stupid,” Nastonik said.
    “You don’t have to be rude.”
    “I am merely blunt.  A Beorhan says what a Beorhan sees.”  (loc. 535)

    “I’m surrounded by nothing but death.  Viril and Nastonik, I fear I will lose them too.”
    “Then, you must lose that fear and let it go.  Fear is a part of life but if we live according to it, that is no life at all.  It is said our time is like a narrow sliver of light, much like this candle’s flame, caught between two kinds of greater darkness; the time before we are born and the time after we are gone.  All we have is this and so often we spend it unwisely.”  (loc. 569)

Kindle Details...
    All Things True currently sells for $2.99 at Amazon, the same price as the other two books in the series, The Door of Dreams and The Voyage of the Pale Ship.  Greg James has a slew of other novels, novellas, and novelettes available, all of them in the $0.99 - $2.99 range.

 “Were you thinking bringing home a two-legged stray would be enough of a good deed to make the rain turn to vittles?”  (loc  113)
    Ah yes, what to say about the ending without lapsing into spoilers?

    It is a satisfying conclusion to everything that’s been building for three books now.  It contains a twist that I can only describe as stunning, yet is, in retrospect, quite logical.  It is powerful and poignant; at the same time both positive and dark.  Chapters 16 and 17, plus the Epilogue poem, left a lump in my throat even as they reconciled all the strange things that have been happening since the first page of Book One.

    Okay.  I’m done gushing now.  You can read the reviews of the first two books in the series here and here.

    9 Stars.  I'm guessing, but I get the feeling that The Chronicles of Willow Grey is a Labor of Love by the author, possibly for one Natalie Kaleva, to whom this book is dedicated.  All Things True particularly resonated with me, as I have recently experienced a similar situation in my life.

    Then again, it all could be just a storyline that Greg James dreamed up, and he’s simply that skilled of a writer.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Sword of Unmaking - G.L. Breedon

    2013; 264 pages.  Book 2 (out of 3) of The Wizard of Time series.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Time-Travel; Fantasy, YA, Coming of Age.  Overall Rating : 7½*/10.

    It’s true, it’s true!  The long-awaited “Seventh True Mage” has appeared, in the form of one Gabriel Salvador, much to the delight of the Council of Time and Magic, aka the “Grace Mages”, who frankly, right now, are getting their butts kicked in their struggles against the evil "Malignancy Mages".

    Let’s hope their efforts are not in vain; the fate of the world that you and I live in depends on it.  For if the Malignancy Mages succeed in destroying the Great Barrier of Probability, the universe as we know it will end.

    Sadly, the appearance of the Seventh True Mage is not enough to tip the balance in the struggle over to the good guys.  It merely means the Grace Mages aren’t getting getting whupped up on quite so thoroughly.  Ah, but the baddies aren’t a bunch of dummies.  They fully realize that as long as Gabriel lives, their victory is a little less certain.  So their path forward is clear.

    They just need to use their superior numbers (the forces of Evil always have the numerical advantage) to locate Gabriel, then attack wherever he is with an overwhelming and irresistible force.  And kill him.

    Maybe this time he’ll stay dead.

What’s To Like...
    The Sword of Unmaking is the second book in the finished “Wizard of Time” trilogy, and the book picks up about a year after Gabriel has been in training to be a mage at the dinosaur-era Windsor Castle.  In Book One he was a newbie; now he’s grown to be probably the most powerful spellcaster at the castle, although learning to control, focus, and effectively use that magic is still a challenge.

    The style in Book 2 hasn’t changed.  There’s still lots of time-travel, still lots of mage-fighting, and still lots of nods to historical eras and events.  Best of all, G.L. Breedon isn’t afraid to take on “temporal paradoxes” that should inevitably crop up in any time-travel tale.  (Eg. : Can I go back in time and kill myself?)

    The writing style and the storyline are both good, particularly if you’re a YA reader, which I’m not.  There’s an abundance of wit, mostly in the dialogues, that will entertain readers of all ages.  A major new “white hat” character is introduced – the erstwhile Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who also happens to be a gifted Heart-Tree Magic mage.  The info-dumping has been improved, and there is less ink devoted to the mechanics of magic than in Book 1, which is a plus.

     Being a history buff, I loved the historical settings: Vienna back when it was just a couple of huts, Paleolithic South Africa, 13th-century France, and Roman-era Turkey.  There is also a somber visit to the (World War 2) Auschwitz death camp, and I liked the way the author worked in some serious musings on Nazism, its inherent hatred, and the perils of “looking the other way”.

    There is some light romance in The Sword of Unmaking, albeit nothing graphic or lewd.  Gabriel experiences his first kiss at 46%, then experiences his first kiss at 52% as well.  Time-travel has some fascinating paradoxes.

    The ending is suitably climactic, and has a nice twist in it (every ending should have at least one nice twist) to set up Books 3.  The story ends at a logical spot, so it isn’t a cliffhanger.  Not all the plot threads are tied up: we still don’t know who betrayed the castle or the fate of Aurelius.  Presumably, those will be addressed in the final book, The Edge of Eternity.

    “The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll be finished.”  Gabriel climbed the stairs of the porch.
    “Half an hour walking in the woods with the most famous philosopher king in history and that’s the best aphorism you come up with?” Teresa teased as she took Gabriel’s hand.
    “He doesn’t really speak in aphorisms,” Gabriel said.
    “Am I really that famous?” Aurelius asked, his eyes suddenly shy.   (loc. 7628)

    Gabriel reached and pulled Teresa down into a kiss.
    “You are such a romantic idiot.”  Teresa shook her head and pulled back from Gabriel’s kiss.  “The castle is under attack.  There are Dark Mages everywhere.  You’re leaking blood like a punctured wine sack, and you want to kiss!”
    “You are really annoying when you’re right.  Hand me my sword, please.”  (loc. 8673)

Kindle Details...
    The Sword of Unmaking sells for $2.99 at Amazon.  The other two e-books in the series sell for the same price, or you can get all three as a bundle for $4.99, which is quite the savings.  If you have the patience, G.L. Breedon occasionally and generously discounts some of the books to free.  He has four other e-books available, including the starts for two more series, ranging from $2.99 to $4.99.

“We must have faith.”
“I prefer certainty, but I suppose I’ll take what I can get.”  (loc. 5489)
     The quibbles are trivial.  I saw through the baddies’ castle-attack ruse immediately, but I suspect many YA readers will find the ploy to be delightfully fiendish.

    There is no backstory, so you really should read Book 1 first (which I did), and then read Book 2 right afterwards (which I didn’t).  In fairness, if you buy this trilogy as a bundle, then all three books are at your fingertips.  Alas, my reading habits don’t involve reading multiple books by any author one right after another, but hey, that’s a personal problem.

        7½ StarsThe Word of Unmaking kept my interest throughout, and that’s no small feat for a Book 2 in any trilogy.  But I can’t quite call it a page-turner.  I think this is one of those series that will appeal immensely to its target audience - YA male readers – but may be a bit simplistic for adult lovers of time-travel stories.  But only “a bit” too simplistic.  Since I have the bundle version of this series, I'm sure I'll be reading Book 3 in the not-too-distant future.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Blue Labyrinth - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

   2014; 520 pages.  New Author? : No, and no.  Book 14 (out of 17) in the Agent Pendergast series.  Genre : Thriller; Murder-Mystery.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    Someone has delivered a message to FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast.  It's kinda like a Halloween prank; They rang his doorbell, then ran away before he answered the door.

    But instead a burning sack of poop, they left the body of Alban, Pendergast’s most lethal enemy, trussed up, and oh, so dead.

    Yet this is a bittersweet occurrence, because Alban also happens to be one of Aloysius’s sons.  And although they are estranged – Alban has promised to kill his dad  - the fact remains: this is, or was, his flesh and blood.  There’s no doubt that the message has been delivered, and in a most unmistakably stunning manner.  But there’s just one problem.

    Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast has no idea what the message is.

What’s To Like...
    Blue Labyrinth is the 14th book in Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s immensely popular “Agent Pendergast” series, and definitely a step up from the previous book in the series, White Fire, reviewed here.  Aloysius Pendergast is back in the spotlight, and two of my favorite supporting characters – Constance Greene and Margo Green - replace Corrie Swanson as the female leads. Detective Vincent D’Agosta returns as a major player too, and that’s a plus.  Also back is the New York Museum of Natural History, which was the setting for Book 1 in this series, Relic, reviewed here, and was how I first got hooked on this series.

     The book is mostly set in New York City, with a couple of side trips to the California desert, upstate New York, Brazil, and Switzerland.  There are three murders to investigate: a.) Pendergast’s son, b.) a technician at the Natural History Museum, and c.) the wife of a doctor from way back in the 1890’s.  They seem unrelated, but if you're a veteran reader of this series, you know that three threads are intertwined, and will inevitably merge down the line.

    As usual, the action starts immediately (Alban’s body appears on page 5), and the pacing is lightning-fast.  At long last, a lot more about the dark, dirty secrets of the Pendergast family tree are revealed, and about the enigmatic Constance Greene as well.  We are introduced to one of Aloysius’s forefathers, Hezekiah Pendergast, and he's  quite the character.

    There are a lot of references to earlier books in the series, including my favorite baddie, Diogenes, although if this is your first Agent Pendergast book, you won’t be lost.  I enjoyed learning some more phrases in French and Portuguese, the latter of which included, if I'm not mistaken, a couple handy cuss phrases.  I loved the quote from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, as well as the nod to Caravaggio, who’s probably my favorite painter this side of Salvador Dali.  I had my doubts about the uber-powerful “Triflic Acid”, which figures into the storyline, but Wikipedia confirmed its existence.  I’m embarrassed to say that as a chemist, I’d never heard of it.

    As always, there's a lot of violence and a fair amount of cussing in the book.  Blue Labyrinth is a standalone novel, despite being part of a series.  The chapters are Pattersonian in length, 78 of them covering 520 pages.  All the main threads are resolved, and I look forward to learning even more about the many skeletons in Aloysius’s closet.

Kewlest New Word ...
Diener (n.) : a morgue worker responsible for handling, moving, and cleaning a corpse.
Others : Wicking (a verb).

    “I’ve decided I want that ticket, Goodman Lickspittle.  I am going to contest that ticket, in court.  And if I’m not mistaken, that means you will have to appear in court, as well.  And at such a time I will take the greatest pleasure in pointing out to the judge, the lawyers, and everyone else assembled what a disgraceful shadow of a man you are.  A  shadow?  Perhaps I exaggerate.  A shadow, at least, can prove to be tall – tall indeed.  But you, you’re a homunculus, a dried neat’s tongue, a carbuncle on the posterior of humanity.”  (pg. 289)

    “I’ve … been having a nightmare.  It seems never to end.”
    His voice was dry and light, like a faint breeze over dead leaves, and she had to lean in closer to catch the words.
    “You were quoting the libretto of Don Giovanni,” she said.
    “Yes.  I … fancied myself at the Commendatore.”
    “Dreaming of Mozart doesn’t sound like a nightmare to me.”
    I …”  The mouth worked silently for a moment before continuing.  “I dislike opera.”  (pg. 301)

“You just put your boot so far up his ass, he’ll have to eat his dinner with a shoehorn.”  (pg. 78)
    The quibbles are minor.  One thing that hasn’t returned for a long time is the “is it natural or supernatural?” mysteries that made the early books in the series so captivating.  Of course, there’s still the matter of Constance Greene seemingly recalling her life in the 1800’s while not looking a day over 25 years old, and I can’t see that not having a this-worldly cause.

    The ending, while certainly action-packed and filled with tension, felt over-the-top to me.  I like unexpected turns as much as the next reader, but really now, a pair of civilians taking out a whole squad of highly-trained mercenary goons?  Good help is apparently hard to find these days, especially “bad good help”.

   It was too easy to figure out who would live and who would die, even among the minor characters.  If you're rotten to the core, don’t like Aloysius or Vinnie or Margo, or are just plain naturally obnoxious, you’re unlikely to be breathing by the end of the book. 

     Finally, and sinking even deeper into the depths of nitpicking, I have no idea what the book’s title refers to.  I don’t recall any labyrinth, blue or otherwise.

    8½ Stars.  Pay no attention to my quibbles.  Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are a top-notch writing team, and my expectations for their Agent Pendergast books are sky high.  I found Blue Labyrinth to be a page-turner, and the next book in the series, Crimson Shore, is already loaded and waiting on my Kindle.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Pride and Honour - Nathaniel Burns

   2013; 362 pages.  Full Title : Pride and Honour – The Battle for Saxony.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Historical Fiction; Dark Ages; Middle Ages, Sneaky Proselytizing.  Overall Rating : 5½*/10.

    Hey, tell me everything you remember from History class about The Dark Ages.

    Let’s see now.  They started upon the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 AD.  They went on for a long time.  They were …um… pretty dark.  And they lasted until the Renaissance began.

    So they were around for a thousand years or so.  Do you remember studying about any specific events that happened in Western Europe during that time period?

    Well, I remember William the Conqueror going over to England and kicking butt at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  And some time afterward, King John signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede.  That’s about it.

    How about a guy named Charlemagne?

    Oh yeah!  The Pope crowned him king on Christmas Day, but don’t ask me the year.  He founded the Holy Roman Empire.

    Well done.  And where was this kingdom?

    Well, duh!  It’s called the Holy Roman Empire.  So of course it was in Italy.

What’s To Like...
    Pride And Honour chronicles the 13-year-long struggle (772-785 AD) by King Charles of the Franks (aka “Charlemagne”) to subdue the Saxon tribes in what is present-day Germany.  There are three protagonists: King Charles, leader of the Frankish armies; Sturmius, an abbot who reprsents the Papal interests; and Widukind, who emerges as the sole lord in all of Saxony who can unite the squabbling tribes against the Frankish invaders.  Sturmius and Charles, although allies, have a complex relationship.  They seek the same end – the subjugation of the Saxons – but for different reasons, and each “uses” the other to serve his purposes.

    There are a slew of characters – Saxons, Franks, Danes, Swedes, Papal legates, and even an Anglo-Saxon from across the channel.  A “Cast of Characters” at the beginning would’ve been helpful, but I kept track of them via a long list of notes.  There is a map at the beginning, which helps the reader get oriented; but many of the cities, forts, and scattered kingdoms aren’t on it.

    I liked the fact that almost all of the main characters are “gray”, neither pure good nor pure evil.  The exception may be Widukind, but he has to contend with the fact that the Saxons are doomed to lose the war.  Sturmius reminded me of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael, and that’s a plus.

    The genre is first-and-foremost Historical Fiction, and I was surprised by how many of the characters and events were drawn from history.  Charlemagne really lived, of course; but so did Sturmius and Widukind, as well as many of the lesser nobles cited in the book, and the desecration of Irminsul really occurred.  You can read all about them in Wikipedia.  I was mildly bummed that there was no “real versus fictional” Afterword section.

    The setting had a nice “Dark Ages” feel to it, and it's always fun to read a story based in the time-&-place that I know very little about.  I liked the attention given to how the clergy influenced political matters.  Such was the case way back then, and trying to convert pagans was more a matter of who held the sword, than who had the most persuasive spiritual argument.  More on this in a bit.

    I found the ending to be so-so.  The aim is noble: the author seeks to demonstrate that the bonds forged between the Franks and Saxons proved to be of critical importance to the existence of the newly-expanded kingdom.  But our three protagonists are all gone by the time this "proof" takes place, and for me, this whole justification was too drawn-out to keep my interest.   I think it would’ve been better to limit it to being an Epilogue a couple pages in length. 

    The book is written in English, which I always like, so you get words like Honour, manoeuver, lacklustre, amock, and ageing.  Pride And Honour is a standalone novel, and not part of any series that I can tell.

Kewlest New Word ...
Baldric (n.) : a belt for a sword, worn over one shoulder and reaching down to the opposite hip.  (Google-Image it).
Others : Gode (n. ) : By context, a Saxon priest, although that definition doesn’t show up in a Google search.  And BTW, you are hereby warned not to Google-Image this one.

    “Charles will do as those before him have done.  He’ll come and defeat a levy or two.  Then he’ll go home, and we will do as our fathers did, and invade the Frankish kingdom.  Another peace treaty will be drawn and the peasants between Eder and Diemel be made to pay.  And we will again be at peace.”  (loc. 494)

    The heat in the eyes wooing her burned into her body, and her heart like hot coals. But she did not give ground.
    “I need you, Fastrada,” his words emerged almost in a groan.
    Her answer was calm and clear, “If the Lord King needs a woman, there are enough noble ones here who would willingly help him make it through the night.”
    Charles abruptly swept a cup from the table with his right hand as if pushing someone away.
    “I need you, Fastrada,” he said in a determined tone.
    The woman glowed.  (loc. 3834)

Kindle Details...
    Pride and Honour sells for $3.99 at Amazon.  I don’t think there’s a sequel, nor any other books in this setting by Nathaniel Burns.  He has a couple other standalone novels, but his magnum opus is a 10-book series titled The Mummifier’s Daughter,  with each book in the series selling for $2.99.

“When you come with your knights and your swords, you come to conquer, not convert.”  (loc. 763 )
    Alas, Pride And Honour comes with some serious issues.

    First of all, commas and semicolons keep popping up all over the place.  This was a formatting glitch, not any grammatical shortcoming on the author’s part, but it was distracting as all get-out.

    Added to this were spelling changes to a number of names.  Gottrick became Gottrik, and then became Gotrick.  Egbert morphed into Egberth.  The Oborites changed first to the Obodrites, then to the Odorites.  And Throsuk went to Thoruk.  Since the reader is usually unfamiliar with all the names, these switches are positively confusing.

    More serious, as several other reviewers have noted, is the preachiness that pops up in Chapters 35-36.  It's ill-fitting, self-serving, and boring.  Listen, if you’re going to write a religious fiction book, fine.  But at least have the integrity to then list that as the book's genre.   You’re not doing God’s will by sneaking a couple chapters of evangelism into your Historical Fiction book.  The truth is, She isn't keeping score.

    5½ Stars.  At its heart, Pride And Honour is a wonderful tale, fleshing out a piece of history that most of us know little about.  But an editor needs to be brought in to address the weaknesses cited above.  The result can be a remarkably interesting book. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Island of the Sequined Love Nun - Christopher Moore

   1997; 325 pages.  New Author? : No, but it’s been a couple years.  Genre : Contemporary Humor; Satire.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    For Tucker “Tuck” Case, life has just become monumentally unfair.  He’s a pilot by trade, and because of one teensy-weensy unplanned landing, his flying license has been revoked.

    Of course, “unplanned landing” is just a euphemism for crashing a plane.  And the fact that there was a hooker in the plane at the time complicates matters.  Ditto for her being in the cockpit.  In the pilot’s seat.  In which he was also sitting.  They call it being initiated into the “Mile High Club”.

    It’s also some very bad publicity for his employer, Mary Jean Cosmetics, since the jet had a very distinctive color – shocking pink.  And it doesn’t help that the hooker was injured in the crash, and plans to sue both Tucker and Mary Jean Cosmetics.

    So now, the only thing that Tuck can fly is a kite.  There goes his livelihood.  There goes his income.  Therefore, it was quite the pleasant surprise when some missionary on some island way over in Micronesia contacts him with a job offer – to fly the missionary’s Lear Jet, which is a slightly newer and bigger model than the one he’s been piloting for Mary Jean Cosmetics.  There’s just one thing that’s bothering Tuck.

    What’s a missionary on a far-flung South Seas island doing with a Lear Jet?

What’s To Like...
    Island of the Sequined Love Nun is a relatively early Christopher Moore novel (#4 out of a total of 16 if my counting was correct), and contains the usual abundance of the author’s wit, sarcasm, and dry humor.  I’ve read ten CM books over the years, and have yet to be disappointed.

    The story is divided into three sections.  Part One, “The Phoenix” (pg. 1), details Tuck’s misadventures in trying to get from the Houston to Alualu.  Part Two, “Island of the Shark People” (pg. 87), sees him finally arriving there, and trying to figure out what the heck is going on.  Part Three, “Coconut Angel” (pg. 193), can be best described in three words: “Revolution and Resolution”.

    Christopher Moore dreams up a bunch of fascinating characters for you to rub shoulders with.  Tuck is wonderfully anti-heroic, and must contend with evil doings that pick at his moral fiber.  The good guys and the baddies all come in various shades of gray.  You’ll warm quickly to Roberto, and Vincent is just out-of-this world.  I liked the depiction of Cargo Cults (does anyone remember “The Gods Must Be Crazy”), and the whole concept of running a sham religious cult was eerily true-to-life.

    There are 68 chapters to cover the 322 pages, plus a map of the small island of Alualu at the beginning.  There’s also an “Afterword and Acknowledgements” section at the end, in which the author separates true facts from fiction, which surprised me for this type of novel.  There’s a bunch of cussing and oodles of sex;  those with prudish tastes should know by now to avoid any and all Christopher Moore tales.

    IofSLN is a standalone novel and AFAIK none of the characters pop up in other Christopher Moore  books.  It may not be as well-known as Fluke, Lamb, and Moore’s vampire novels, but it kept me entertained and chuckling throughout.

Kewlest New Word. . .
Mook (n.; slang) : a stupid or incompetent person.  (a Yankeeism)

    “Shark People no have boat.  They no leave island.”
    “No boats?”  Pardee was amazed.  Living in these islands without a boat was akin to living in Los Angeles without a car.  It wasn’t done; it couldn’t be done.
    The mate patted Pardee’s big shoulder.  “You be fine.  I have mask and fins for you.”
    “What about sharks?”
    “Sharks afraid around there.  On most island people afraid of shark.  On Alualu shark afraid of people.”
    “You’re sure about that?”
    “No.”  (pg. 144)

    When Tuck was still reckoning, he reckoned that they were traveling at an average speed of five knots.  At five knots, twenty-four hours a day, for fourteen days, he reckoned that they had traveled well over two thousand miles.  Tuck reckoned that they were now sailing through downtown Sacramento.  His reckoning wasn’t any better than his navigation.  (pg. 284)

 Leading a religion is tough work when your gods start stirring for real and messing up your prophecies.  (pg. 224)
    For a while I thought I was going to quibble about having to wait almost 100 pages before Tuck makes it to the Island of the Sequined Love Nun, but the plot thread travels full circle, and I should’ve known better than to doubt Christopher Moore’s ability to fashion a well-constructed storyline.

    The ending was good, but not particularly twisty, and I found it easy to predict how things would turn out..  Still, one reads a Christopher Moore novel first and foremost for the clever dialogue and the farcical goings-on; plotlines are secondary.  And the Epilogue is simply fantastic, so I really can’t complain.

    Island of the Sequined Love Nun is a fine effort by Christopher Moore, although if you’ve read his later and more-famous novels, you can also see how he honed his writing skills over the course of his career.

    8 Stars.  Subtract 1 star if you didn’t like his novels Fluke, Lamb, Bite Me, You Suck, etc.  If those didn’t float your boat, this one won’t either.