The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones

Cover of Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
Cover of Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
Scored a: A-
Status: Finished!


The Homeward Bounders! I’ve been wanting to reread this for ages, but was unable to because it was region locked for sale. So during a trip to the USA my billing address magically changed to match my current IP and I got a lot of books I’ve been wanting for a while.

The plot of the book is Jamie sees something he shouldn’t – what appears to be two hooded figures standing over a map of the world in a strange room. As punishment, he is sent into other worlds with the promise that one day he may be allowed ‘back into play’ if he finds his way home. Until then no one can interfere with his journey, but there’s nowhere for him that he can belong. For every time one of the mysterious Them make a move, Jamie is forced into a new world.

Along the way he picks up two very important allies.

I really like this book and my only disappointment is that Adam (he shows up later) is never set on fire.

If I had to compare it to something, I’d say DnD and Sliders.

On the cover I chose, incidentally, the character most prominent is not Jamie. It’s a girl (one of the allies I mentioned) named Helen who has a very special gift and is coded as Pakistani, if that sweetens the pot for any potential readers.

What I really liked is how they managed to fit a preteen and an old man’s world-weary perspective into one character with Jamie. The story ends with the trademark DWJ ‘DONE NOW’ so don’t get your hopes up for anything lingering.

If  you’re into fanfic, this book crosses over with anything. Anything.

Its genre is that mix of sci-fantasy that DWJ does sometimes that I’m a big fan of.

If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell

Title: If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell
Scored a: A-
Status: Finished!

Cover of If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell
Cover of If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell

I recently reviewed another book by Juliet Blackwell, Secondhand Spirits, that I did not realize was by the same author when I picked this up. Couldn’t figure out why I was getting the wrong book results when I searched for this one because I was very very tired after a long plane trip.

Juliet Blackwell’s strength, to my eyes, is how well she writes side characters. They come right to life. And there were a lot in this book, but not to its detriment.

Okay, so the plot is thus: Mel Turner has taken over her father’s historical home renovation business, even though all she wants to do is go to Paris and be wan. Things aren’t going her way towards that goal, especially when someone dies at her friend’s home renovation/demolition party and his ghost starts appearing to her asking for help solving his murder.

It’s a fun story! Mel has neat friends, she’s fun to watch interact with people and solve clues, and her supporting family cast (including her step-son from her ex-marriage and her father and his live-in friend Stan) is fun to watch and not overpowering. The romance wasn’t half bad, either. Romances seem to be de rigeur in cozies I’ve noticed and a dickish one can ruin a book fast for me.

The final confrontation was, best of all, very satisfying after all the things that happened during the course of the story. And the solution was foreshadowed pretty well, I thought. However, some ways the mystery played out knocked this down to an A- from an A+, mostly regarding a subplot that seemed overly garbled.

I’ve already bought the sequel.

Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain

Art by Ann Larimer

Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez was great! The plot: Emperor Mollusk, former Warlord of Terra (he retired after conquering the planet and deciding he didn’t feel like ruling anymore) has been targeted for assassination. Taken into protective custody by the Venusian warrior Zala (she can’t bring him to justice for his crimes against Venus if he’s dead), Mollusk is swept into finding out who wants him dead (in the narrowing down sense), and what to do if for the first time ever, he might not win? Also along for the ride is his pet ultrapede Snarg. Good girl, Snarg.

The Earth in this book’s world is an alternate history of ours, where we’ve been fighting off alien attacks for centuries and there’s even a Viking colony on Ceres (no one knows how they got there). Our narrator and main character is Mollusk, a moral-less little octopus from Neptune, but he doesn’t mean anything by it. He’s friendly and reasonable, without much blood lust. His likeability carries you through some of the weaker parts of the book quite tidily.

My only complaint about this book was that Zala and Kreegah (a Jupitron) are criminally underused. There’s some very interesting characters waiting there to be written, but unfortunately that doesn’t really happen, especially in Kreegah’s case.

A nice, light book. Shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to read this, but I made the mistake of starting writing again and it’s hard to shift my brain from one gear to the other.