Friday, 11 September 2015

Two Reviews

Happy Friday! Today, I have suggestions for two fantastic reads for your weekend. First up is Blue Karma by J.K. Ullrich, an author who I ran across on Goodreads. I thought her book sounded fascinating, as it dealt with issues I have been interested in from a very young age, thanks to a brother who campaigned for Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.


Water. It covers almost three-quarters of the planet, comprises more than half the human body, and has become the most coveted resource on Earth. 

Amaya de los Santos survived the typhoon that left her an orphan. Now she scrapes by as an ice poacher, illegally harvesting fresh water for an always-thirsty market. But when she rescues an injured enemy soldier, she's pulled into a storm of events more dangerous than any iceberg. After years of relying only on herself, she must learn to trust another...or risk losing all that's left of her family. 

Logan Arundson should be dead. After a mysterious attack destroys his military unit, he abandons his Arctic post for his native California, where droughts have made water a religion and a resource worth killing for. But when the water wars follow him home, he must face his frozen demons if he wants to save his town...and the girl he loves. 

Paul Hayes is heir to an empire. But being vice president of a powerful hydrology company isn't all gardens and swimming pools: he deals with ice poachers, water rights, and the crushing expectations of his CEO mother. His investigation into company sabotage and the miraculous appearance of a lake in a small California town lead him to a shocking discovery...and an impossible decision. 

Blue Karma is a story of choices and consequences, humanity and love.

My review:

I was hooked by JK Ullrich's "cli-fi" novel, which takes an all too plausible premise and carves out a gripping story. It's a simple but terrifying concept - water is something we all need (and take for granted), but it is a finite resource. What happens when it starts running out? Actually, we don't all take it for granted as a large proportion of the world don't have access to fresh water, and in Blue Karma this has extended to North America.

What I loved about this book is that while it had a lot of things to think about, it doesn't take a heavy-handed or preachy tone. It's a story, first and foremost, not a treatise. Ullrich gave us a great cast of characters to root for and, in other cases, despise. Logan, in particular, got much more likeable as the book went on - from at first appearing to be nothing more than an irresponsible kid, he grows into someone who is willing to put his life on the line for those he cares about. Paul's trajectory was, in a way, parallel to his, although he starts from an opposite position - the pampered, privileged heir to the most powerful water company in the world, he comes to see what life is like for those who have nothing. Amaya was likeable - a tough and quick-witted girl who is terrified of letting her guard down, but the greatest growth belonged to Sayuri. With a heartbreaking backstory, she seems at times in danger of being completely overwhelmed by events, but comes out the other end.

There were many fascinating ideas in this book, and the role that religion played was particularly intriguing, with idealistic dreamers being pitted against cynical company tycoons. I hope there will be a sequel, but if not, I look forward to other books from Ullrich.


Next, a fantastic and original addition to the YA fantasy genre from two hot new authors to watch.


Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

My review:

Woven is an engaging, fun, and action-packed entry into the YA fantasy genre. Jensen and King have come up with an excellent premise, that we are all "woven" into the great tapestry of life - so what happens when a thread comes loose? Layers of backstory are threaded expertly throughout, and we come to see there is much more to the hero, Nels, than first meets the eye. There's a great dose of humour in this book, too. Nels becomes a ghost after being murdered by the villain of the piece, and the only one who can see him is Princess Tyra, the spoilt, entitled heir to the throne. While she isn't exactly a sympathetic character initially, I couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for her, as Nels torments her until she listens and agrees to help him get his life back.

What follows is a journey which takes many thrilling turns, as well as being a journey of growth for both characters. Nels finds he can do a lot more as a ghost than what he first thought, and Tyra sees beyond her self-interest to come to a point where she is willing to do what she can to save her unlikely friend, as well as the kingdom. There are larger forces at play than what we first thought, and the villain, Rasmus, is highly entertaining as well as being devious.

As a side note, while I wasn't familiar with either author's style beforehand, it doesn't feel like a co-authored book at all, unlike some others I have read where there was a noticeable jarring of styles. The story-telling was seamless (pardon the pun). I hope we will hear more from this team in the future!


Do these sound good? What are you reading? Any recommendations to share?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Woven was good and I couldn't tell two authors wrote it.
Good to know the first one isn't preachy, because it could be.

Weaver said...

I read Woven to my hubby, and we loved it.

betty said...

I hadn't heard of either book, but putting both of my to read list. They do sound like they have interesting plots. I just finished reading "After You" by Julie Bouxbaum. It was a good book, but definitely a "chick flick" type of book :)

Enjoy the weekend!


Stephanie Faris said...

Actually, that story may not be too far from the truth. There are people who believe we'll eventually run out of water. Scary stories are made even scarier when they could become reality.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Want to read both Blue Karma and Woven. Both look good.

Liz A. said...

That's the trick with sci-fi--an author can get too heavy handed about the central theme and that detracts from the story. Glad to know it hasn't happened here. And one of these days I'm going to read Woven. I've been following King's blog and am very happy for the both of them.

Sherry Ellis said...

Both sound like great books! Thanks for the informative reviews.

Anonymous said...

These both look so good. I'm pretty sure I have a copy of Woven. I'd love to read both. There are so many books on my wish list, but I make room for more.

Heather R. Holden said...

Great reviews! I haven't heard of Blue Karma till now, but I have seen Woven across the blogosphere. Good to know the authors for that one knew how to mesh their writing styles well together!

cleemckenzie said...

I enjoyed Woven, but hadn't heard of Blue Karma. Sounds like a suspenseful adventure! Great reviews, Nick.

Nick Wilford said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I hope more check out Blue Karma. It's a timely topic, done very entertainingly. And Woven is great fun.

Meradeth Houston said...

I've seen Woven around a bit and am looking forward to it! Blue Karma sounds great--thanks for the introduction to it!

Jemi Fraser said...

I love the sound of both books! Definitely adding them to my wishlist :)

H. R. Sinclair said...

I hadn't heard of Blue Karma yet. It sounds interesting.

Christine Rains said...

Both are on my TBR list. Thanks for the reviews! Just read River Fairchild's newest collection of Death and Chronos stories. They're absolutely hilarious!

Crystal Collier said...

What a fascinating concept for Blue Karma. Terribly intriguing.

Woven has been on the TBR list for a while. Ah, time.

I've been reading, slowing, but I'm into my Halloween reads. Dark and sinister. =)

David Powers King said...

Really appreciate the review, Nick. Thank you! :)