Monday, May 21, 2018

Fantasy-based Choose Your Own Adventure

Keep of the Ancient King (Fantasy Forest, #4)Keep of the Ancient King by Mike Carr
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I went home for a visit and to my surprise I found a Fantasy Forest book! I don't know what the hell it was doing in the back of a closest at my mom's house. It wasn't one of mine from when I was a kid and I don't remember my brother getting into these. Oh well! Don't look a mysterious gift horse in the mouth!

Fantasy Forest was a made-for-children offshoot of the Endless Quest books, which were the Dungeons & Dragons version of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Did you get that? To put it plain, Fantasy Forest books were fantasy-genre CYOAs for youngsters. Probably 8 to 10 would be a good age.

The Keep of the Ancient King doesn't have too many kings, but there is a prince, as well as a few trolls, minotaurs, dwarves and assorted baddies. In this light fantasy, some evil dudes have taken over an old keep and the Good Knight and his cohorts enlist the services of an innkeeper's dainty daughter to fight that evil. In this CYOA you are that girl. And might I add, you make a lovely little girl!

Since this is written for kids the adventure moves quickly along and the text does not go deep into characterization or scene description. That's fine and I probably would've been a-okay with the writing had I read this back in the day at an appropriate age. So yeah, ignore my three stars. I just picked a rating to pick a rating. This could've been anything. And it probably will be rated anything by anybody with widely varying appeal depending on the reader's age and gender, and their level of love for horsies. That last part is really important in Keep of the Ancient King.

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A Story of the Korea War

Give Me Tomorrow: The Korean War's Greatest Untold StoryGive Me Tomorrow: The Korean War's Greatest Untold Story by Patrick K. O'Donnell
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My grandfather fought in the Korean War. I can't really talk to him about it. Couple that with my impression that he's also not going to be with us much longer, so a natural and deep desire has brewed within me to know something of what he went through. This leads me to a book like Give Me Tomorrow: The Korean War's Greatest Untold Story by Patrick K. O'Donnell.

I know so very little about this war. The reasons for the conflict, the region, the location of individual battles, etc etc, it's all new to me. My ignorance hindered my enjoyment of this book. It made following the story difficult because I was trying to envision where it all took place, and while O'Donnell did a decent job describing terrain and conditions, I still felt lost.

That didn't deter from my appreciation of the story told and of the sacrifice made by the soldiers of George Company, the featured unit of the book. What they did during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir was incredible. Absolutely unbelievable. I highly recommend Give Me Tomorrow. It gave me a footing from which I will continue my education into a largely forgotten conflict.

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