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Finders Keepers by Russ Colchamiro

Finders Keepers by Russ Colchamiro: Most of this novel is actually two more or less unrelated stories told side by side. The first is the tale of 20-something Jason’s adventures backpacking across Europe for the first time. Much of this plot is rushed and at times appears to be anecdotes from the author’s own experiences quoted verbatim and out of context. The other is about a jar of Cosmic Building Material lost during the construction of the Milky Way. It’s found by chance by a New Zealander, and the rest of the book is spent with various Eternitarians attempting to get their hands on the jar, which is their ticket out of their exile on Earth and back into their posh digs in Eternity. This would have been funny had it been a trifle easier to follow: I kept mixing up characters or forgetting who they were, and the fact that events jumped around in time made it all the more confusing. For the next reader, so you’re not quite so lost as I was: at some point in time, Emma and Lex are beautiful and successful Eternitarians. Some time later they are on Earth, where Emma is hugely fat and Lex is a dog. It took me far too long to figure out that the story alternated between two timelines. Sure, I got that one took place at the beginning of the Milky Way while the other was in 2005, but the character crossovers really sent my head spinning. On the bright side, everything ties up neatly and happily at the end.

In short, don’t feel bad if you have no idea what the heck is going on for most of the book. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed this one more had Jason’s coming-of-age-type story had been left out of the madcap SF tale, but I did appreciate the European scenery. Either way, it’s well-written and fairly entertaining. Worth a try if you’re looking for something unlike anything else you’ve ever read.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Exchange by Dale R. Cozort

Exchange by Dale R. Cozort: When the Exchange occurs, seemingly at random, a small portion of our world switches places with that from an alternate reality. This other Earth, known as Bear Country, is a wild, dangerous land where humans either died out or (more probably) never evolved at all, inhabited instead by strange animals such as enormous bears, twittering wolves, and minuscule poisonous bats. When Sharon’s hometown of Rockford, Illinois, is Exchanged, she is stuck in a strange world of religious cults, escaped convicts, and demanding Marines. If that weren’t headache enough, her abusive ex-husband has kidnapped their special-needs daughter and escaped into Bear Country with her. I haven’t read such an action-packed book in quite a while. There’s never a dull moment. I am fascinated by the idea of the Exchange, and can imagine many more stories set in this universe. I wish there had been some mention of Exchanges happening in the middle of the ocean, but that’s a petty quibble. I also enjoyed how I was never quite sure when people were telling the truth, without feeling like the drama emerged purely from people not telling each other things. In short, this was a fun SF adventure and a quick read. I look forward to Cozort’s future works.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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