Sunday, March 27, 2016

Book Review: Danube Waves by Katharina Bordet

Summary
It’s been ten years since Maximillian Schindler-Krug found out his parents were from another world. Now, he’s facing the biggest trial of his life: his coronation. Max is feeling the pressure of a position he never asked for, and he needs one last vacation before taking the crown. Using the portals between Neu Meidling and Wien, he gets his taste of freedom. But there are problems. First, he doesn’t arrive in Wien as a human the way he’s supposed to. He’s something else entirely. Second, the portals won’t let him and his bodyguard Lily travel back. Third, there’s someone here in Wien trying to kidnap him. And worst, he left behind a kingdom threatened by revolution against the monarchy. Max’s simple escape has made a mess of things.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from Amazon
The portals between worlds have been shut down, leaving king-to-be Max Schindler-Krug trapped in our world in the form of a goat. An impending revolution, a murderer on the loose, recurring nightmares and a mad scientist stand between him and the throne. It’s going to take more than a talking swan, a fainting goat and copious amounts of coffee and cake to save the day.

Ten years since the murder of his mother, Max Schindler-Krug is having increasingly vivid dreams about the night that changed his life forever, but that is the least of his problems. His coronation as King of Neu Meidling is approaching fast, but revolution across the kingdom threatens the monarchy and the portals between the worlds have been mysteriously sealed, closing off all trade and splitting up families.
Karin’s peaceful life at the Alt Wien is turned upside-down when her daughter brings home a wounded swan, leading her to discover a lost family secret that will change her life forever. Her own husband’s place in events could rip their relationship apart.
Lily, a trainee Besch├╝tzer finds herself trapped in another world, torn between her duty to protect the W├Ąchter line and coffee trade and her love for her future king. When she meets a man who could solve all her problems, she has to make a choice that could topple the monarchy, assuming she can get the young king back home alive.

“Danube Waves” takes us back to the linked worlds of the Wiener Blut universe first introduced in “The Coffee Legacy”, revisiting beloved characters and introducing new ones, not to mention tickling the tastebuds with a range of traditional Austrian cakes.

Context
Danube Waves takes place ten years after the previous novel, The Coffee Legacy.

My Thoughts
One thing I really love about Bordet’s books is the difference in culture from my own. In each chapter, she brings in a different treat from Wien. In the first book, we explored coffee. In Danube Waves, it’s cake. So. Many. Cakes! It’s enough to make one drool, to read the descriptions of them at the beginnings of every chapter.
Bordet brought a good deal of light humor into this novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. With the time gap between this book and the one before, it lent her the opportunity to introduce some new characters and situations while still bringing back issues from the first book. I loved the addition of Gary to the cast, and almost any time he was involved in a scene, I couldn’t help but smile. He was just a joy to read.
In some ways, this book seems like an alternate universe’s soap opera, with the interweavings of different families and their conflicts and secrets. She keeps pulling new cards out of her deck of tricks. And even by the end, she still isn’t completely tapped out on the mess these people have made of one another’s lives. She pulls a new twist at the last moment to pave the way for another book. I will be looking for book 3 with eager eyes and rumbling stomach. I can only imagine what treats we’ll get with that one.

Would I Recommend This Book? Sure! If you love cake, definitely. If you’re looking for an intriguing and twisty plot set in worlds both familiar and foreign, you’ll find one here. I give Danube Waves a baked 4 of 5 stars.

For more on the author, visit http://www.maimer.net/

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Review: Owner's Share by Nathan Lowell

Summary
Captain Ishmael Wang lost his job when the CEO of his company passed away suddenly. Luckily, his portion of a salvage claim is about to make him a very rich man. Suddenly awash in the culture of those with money to spare, he finds himself at a loss of what to do. He can't give up space, but can he really afford to buy a ship of his own and start his own company? He needs advice, a ship, and a crew. But all he has is the promise of money coming to him, and the experience of decades of being in space.  
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://nathanlowell.com/owners-share/
Sometimes getting what you want is not enough.
When Diurnia Salvage and Transport undergoes a change in management, Captain Ishmael Horatio Wang finds himself adrift in a sea of red ink, and intrigue. He dives in only to find that he is over his head in a universe where cut-throat competition takes on an all new meaning.
What tragic price will he pay for his Owner’s Share?
Context 
Owner's Share takes place roughly shortly after the previous novel, Captain's Share.
My Thoughts
This book was an amazingly fitting end to the Trader Tales series in Lowell's universe. We've seen Ishmael journey throughout space, but the trials he comes up against in Owner's Share are totally different from any other conflicts he's endured. Now with the promise of money and influence, Ish faces situations that will challenge his very core and all his ethics. Where the two previous books, Double Share and Captain's Share, were very similar in theme and the magnitude of problems Ish faced, this book took things to an even larger level, and the world suddenly got even bigger. The financial and business red tape that Ish has to jump through suddenly gives new depth to the culture Ish lives in.
Personally, I was most affected by this book, and I think it is one of my favorites in the series. It's certainly the first one to bring tears to my eyes, and it did so twice. Over these six books, the reader grows so connected to Ishmael that it's hard to feel what he feels. I can't rave enough about this series. It's amazing. Period.
Would I Recommend This Book? A thousand times yes. Lowell gives us a great ending to a stellar series, though it isn't the last we'll see of Ishmael Horatio Wang. It's the end of this storyline, of Ishmael going from a penniless teenager to a multimillionaire ship captain. I plan to read these again and again. I give Owner's Share a secure 5 of 5 stars.
For more on the author, visit http://nathanlowell.com/

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Book Review: Captain's Share by Nathan Lowell

Summary
It's been years since Ishmael Wang rehabilitated the crew of the William Tinker, and he's still aboard the ship, though he's now first mate. But after his last trip, he's been surprised with an invitation to sit for his captain's ticket, and suddenly, he's got a dilemma. He's been offered a command, of the Agamemnon, the ship with the worst reputation of the whole fleet. Does he take advantage of his new rank, or should he stay on the Tinker, where he's already comfortable and which has a good crew? Or, does he give up life in space altogether, like his wife wants him to?
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://nathanlowell.com/captains-share/
A good captain protects his crew. Who protects the captain?
A shuffling of cabins puts Ishmael Horatio Wang in command of the worst ship in the fleet. He learns that being captain doesn’t make you infallible and that life in the captain’s cabin is filled with new kinds of challenge as he tries to keep the ship moving, the crew out of trouble, and turn a profit to earn his Captain’s Share.
In a ship where the officers outnumber the crew, can he keep everybody happy? Welcome to the SC Agamemnon.
Context
Captain's Share takes place roughly 10 years after the previous novel, Double Share.
My Thoughts
Captain's Share offers more of the delicious, close-quarters intrigue I've come to expect from Lowell's Trader Tales series. It's been some years since we've seen Ishmael, and his life has clearly changed. Now a man in his late thirties, we only see hints of the 18-year old he was when the series first began. He's still the same, but he's become more man than boy, and it shows. His life has taken a bit of a toll on him, but he's still the principled, decisive individual he's always been.
So when we see him in a captain's chair, fully in charge, it's great to se ehim continue to be himself while still being human. Ish makes mistakes. He doesn't immediately have the answers, and he still can't lie to save his life. We see the burdens of authority settling on him, and it affects his personal life too. All in all, this was a fitting continuation to Ishmael's story, if it did feel a little bit similar to the previous book, Double Share. Then again, the whole series has sort of been similar as Ish progresses. It's one man's story, and while there are always new challenges and conflicts, it's comfortably personal. There may be hints of repetition, similar themes between books, but it's not annoying, or retelling the same thing over and over. It's... like I said. Comfortable. These are great books.
Would I Recommend This Book? Highly! It's great to see the man Ish has become, and now we see some real significant decisions coming his way. I hate to think the next book is the last of this series, but I'm eager to read it anyway. I'm ready for some closure. I give Captain's Share a drifting 5 of 5 stars!
For more on the author, visit http://nathanlowell.com/

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Review: Double Share by Nathan Lowell

Summary 
It's been four long years since Ishmael Wang left the Lois McKendrick for the Academy to train to become an officer. Now graduated, he's landed his first posting, aboard the William Tinker. It's a very different ship, a whole different sector of the galaxy, and the crew... well, they're nothing like his old crewmates.
Things are completely rotten on the William Tinker. And it looks like those in charge want to keep it that way. The only thing between them and the lifestyle they've come to enjoy is their new Third Officer: Ishmael. Change doesn't come easy, and Ish's life will be on the line to make it happen.
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from http://nathanlowell.com/double-share/
AN INEXPERIENCED OFFICER. A DYSFUNCTIONAL SHIP. LIFE IN THE DEEP DARK JUST GOT A LOT HARDER.
In his first assignment as an officer, Ishmael Horatio Wang finds himself fresh out of school, wet behind the ears, and way out of his depth. Aboard the William Tinker the senior officers are derelict and abusive, the crew demoralized and undisciplined, and change unwelcomed and dangerous. Can Ishmael use what he learned aboard the Lois McKendrick to help the crew find the ship’s heart? Or will he discover that bucking the system may come at too high a price? Return to the Deep Dark with Ish in this fourth installment of the award winning Solar Clipper Series as he makes the transition from crew to officer. 
Context
Half Share picks up about four years after the previous novel, Full Share.  
My Thoughts
This was both unlike and exactly like the other books in the Trader Tales. We still have Ishmael, though there has been a few years' time between books. He's grown, matured (if that were possible), and is no longer aboard the Lois. The new enviroment of the William Tinker is a whole new world for both Ish and the reader, and now we get to see how Ish REALLY performs under extreme conditions. This book had me gritting my teeth in anger, shouting in frustration, and clamoring to know how things could get so bad for some people. It was a journey with an end that couldn't be seen, and yet Lowell managed to pull things off in a novel that's an excellent exercise in human nature and relationships. At least once, I made a prediction about something going on behind the scenes, only to have my ah-HA ripped away right when I was certain I was right. Lowell made such a thing somehow satisfying, so I was pleasantly surprised with how wrong I was. It is yet another example of a brilliant writer's craft.
Would I Recommend This Book? Well YES! If you want to see a group of people dig up from a chasm, see how one person and one kind thing can make a huge difference, then this is definitely a book to read. I give Double Share a grubby 5 of 5 stars.
For more on the author, visit http://nathanlowell.com/