'Writing for me is not about speeling, grammar or punctuation – that’s why we have editors.... No, writing for me is the ability to capture a story and put it in words.' - Fantasy Muse

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

My Books of 2014

With the end of the year upon us and Christmas next door, I though I'd reminisce on the books I've read this year, and to briefly mention my best ones of 2014. 
I've broken this down to categories as I feel it's a bit unfair to just mention one book. So without further ado:

Best Zombie book of 2014

This is a rather simple choice for me. It goes to Joshua Jared Scott The Zombie Apocalypse series. I think I did a review of the excellent first book, and both the second and third book follows in the same rich vein. 


Best Romantic Book of 2014

This goes to Gone to Ground by Cheryl Taylor. It's not technically a romantic novel but I thought the romantic aspect - which is cast amongst a back drop of a post apocalyptic world - was done really well. Normally when authors do romance, it's usually too mushy, scripted or rushed, but I felt this book was done right.


Best Urban Fantasy of 2014

I couldn't look past John Conroe's latest book Forced Ascent. His series, The Demon Accords, is the best collection of urban fantasy books I've had the pleasure of reading so far. And his latest book seamlessly picks up from the last. 
If you haven't read any of his books, then you're really missing out.


Best Fantasy Book of 2014

My top fantasy book of 2014 is none other than Daniel Hylton's concluding book in the series, 'The Stronghold of Evil'. I remember fondly the first time I stumbled upon his first book and I'm not ashamed to say I had glassy eyes when I finished reading the last book in the series. His books have had an impact on me; similar to that of Tolkien's LOTR had on me when I was a young boy.
I've already re-read the entire series three times and no doubt will again.

Worst Book of 2014

There's quite a few books that I could mention, but due to the laughable plot, and how costly it was to buy - the worst book that I read in 2014 goes to Sorrow's Point by Danielle Devor.
I found myself in the mood for a good horror book, and I rather foolishly got sucked in by the edgy cover and interesting blurb. Suffice to say, I pretty much spent the whole book rolling my eyes at the ludicrous scenes/characters. And at no point did the book ever inspire even the remotest flicker of fear. 
Think a B-rated horror movies and then take another 24 steps back to Z.


Honourable Mentions

I can't finish this post without mentioning some books that narrowly missed out but deserve a mention.




  • Blue Star Priestess by Morgan Blayde - the series as a whole is one big fuelled adrenalin ride that never lets up for a single second. The pages fly by as the main character hurtles from one fight to the other. If your looking for a badass main character then look no further.

Final words....

....finally I'd like to wish my readers a happy Christmas/Holiday and a fulfilling new year. 
I appreciate you taking the time to read my words/blog, and it means a lot to me - whether you agree or disagree with my views.
And for any regular readers out there (I'm probably being presumptuous here), please continue to follow my blog and hopefully I've given you some good recommendations. 

A pic I've taken from London, near the River Thames.



Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Thought Readers

The Thought Readers (Mind Dimensions Book 1) by Dima Zales & Anna Zaires.


Front Cover 




Synopsis

Everyone thinks I’m a genius. 
Everyone is wrong. 
Sure, I finished Harvard at eighteen and now make crazy money at a hedge fund. But that’s not because I’m unusually smart or hard-working. 
It’s because I cheat. 
You see, I have a unique ability. I can go outside time into my own personal version of reality—the place I call “the Quiet”—where I can explore my surroundings while the rest of the world stands still. 
I thought I was the only one who could do this—until I met her. 
My name is Darren, and this is how I became entangled with all the Russians and learned that I’m a Reader.


My Review 


It was more by chance than anything that I stumbled upon this book, but I'm thankful that I did.

This is an urban fantasy novel based upon mind readers, but they also have another power that allows them to detach themselves from time. Think the first Matrix film in the scene at the end when Neo stopped time and dropped those bullets.




Darren is the main character, who is a reader. He's 21, graduated from Havard at 18 and is now working for a hedge fund company - all thanks to his powers. And so he's basically living the dream. 
He thinks he's the only one that can do the things he can but while gambling/cheating at a casino he comes across a beautiful girl who lo-and-behold also had the same powers.
The story then shifts direction as he tries to learn more about his talents. And along the way there's some baddies that want to do harm to his new crush.

I felt like I found something special when I read the book's blurb and the effusive reviews. You know sometimes when you come across a book that you just take one glance at it and you know it's going to be good.

Well, I bought the book at 10am and finished it at 5pm. So that gives you some inkling at how much I enjoyed the story (and no the book wasn't ten pages long).

The writing was superb. The sentences were witty, sharp and constantly kept the story ticking. The pace of the story was frantic, but good frantic. 

Character wise - due to it being in 1st person - you only really get to connect with Darren. He's a well done character, who's not omnipotent but not terribly weak. Rather, he's believable - he's does what you'd expect to do if you were in his position.

The only negatives I can give the book is that it felt too short despite its 300 page print length. It felt a look shorter than that.
Another negative was that it delved a little too deeply into the technical side of things, with a lot of scientific ideas thrown in. I don't mind that, if I'm in the mood for it, which is basically never. But I really am being finicky here. 


Conclusion


Fantastic book that I recommend to everyone that loves urban fantasy. Interesting ideas blended with an exciting story and a likeable protagonist makes this a special book. And whilst writing this review I've already bought the sequel.

Out of 10 Stars:


8 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Blood Memory

Blood Memory: The Complete Season One by Perrin Briar.

Front Cover



Synopsis

Blood Never Forgets  
Haven’s crew found Jordan Grant half-dead floating at sea. With a six-year hole in his memory, he remembers nothing of the Incident or the Lurchers who have claimed the land as their own. He joins the crew in their daily struggle to survive in a harsh new world where every meal is live or die. 
But when a shipwreck forces them from the safety of the sea, the crew soon discover their pursuers aren’t the only monsters out to get them. As Jordan confronts the horror of his past he unlocks a secret that threatens to destroy not only him but the future of the entire human race. 

My Opinion


I rather enjoyed this zombie novel. Normally books of this ilk are all similar in type but there was a small twist to this story that set it apart from most of the others.
The story follows Jordan, a young man who is suffering from amnesia and can't remember the last six years of his life. He's found floating in the sea by a group of survivors who manage to fish him out. From there the story follows the group as they fight to survive in a world infested by zombies.

What I liked about this book was that the zombies were not all lumbering oafs but some of them were sentient and that made the story take on an interesting turn. 

The author kept the sentences short and purposeful, which made the story flow quickly. Character development were done well and while the book was told through Jordan's perspective, the other characters had their share of growth.

A big positive for me was the main character, Jordan. He was my ideal type of hero. Not too capable to the point of being boring, but not too weak to the point where your rolling your eyes. He made mistakes, had faults but did the right things at the right time.

Conclusion


An enjoyable zombie book that is one of the better ones I've read this year. And I'll definitely be looking out for the next one in the series.

Out of 10 Stars:


7 Stars

***
Buy it here:


Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Veil: Corruption

The Veil: Corruption (Hasea Chronicles Book2) by Stuart Meczes.


Front cover 



Synopsis



It’s been six months since Alex and Gabriella stood against The Sorrow and won. The Veil still stands uncrossed, and with every passing day the possibility of finding the person stolen from Alex alive diminishes. But after an influx of new Awakenings, the Alliance is being stretched to breaking point. A melancholic Sophia is acting mysteriously and Sage Faru has set the formidable task of gathering a team of Guardians willing to enter Pandemonia. Meanwhile the looming threat of a new, stronger SOS hides in the shadows. 
But that is the least of Alex’s worries. 
Something is growing inside of him. Something dark and vengeful that whispers in the silence. Something that plagues his dreams with visions of a horrifying apocalypse.  
An apocalypse he will start.  
As Gabriella struggles to hold everything together and Alex struggles not to fall apart, one thing becomes clear. Before they can cross the Veil and stand against Hades, Alex must first defeat his greatest enemy. Himself.

My Review


This is the sequel to the first book in the Hasea Chronicles, 'The Awakening', which I reviewed a while ago. The first book was fantastic and was one of my favourite urban fantasy books of last year, so I definitely had high expectations going into the sequel.

The first book left it in a bit of a cliff hanger where the main character, Alex and his friends were about to set off to the Veil, where his father is believed to still be alive.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in the storyline. I was looking forward to reading about the Veil and discovering what adventures lay beyond, and so I felt a little let down that they they didn't get there. Instead the whole book was spent preparing to go to the Veil. However the story wasn't all bad and the novel finished on a dramatic high, with all the great traits of the first book came flooding back. 

Characterisation was spot on, and I enjoyed the twist in Alex's character as he struggled with his inner demons. He continued to grow from the first book and Meczes did a good job in adding further layers of depth to Alex. The other characters also got a fair look in.

The action scenes were brilliantly written, just like the first book, and the author has a way of creating vivid, tense scenes that are easy to picture.


Conclusion


Not as great as the first book, which admittedly set the bar rather high, thus making this review appear more critical that it perhaps warranted. The book still held much of the qualities of the first, just not enough. Now I'm looking forward to the third book in the series, which should be out soon.


Out of 10 Stars:



6 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Imperium

Imperium (Caulborn Book1) by Nicholas Olivo.


Front Cover




Synopsis

Vincent Corinthos leads a triple life. As a secret agent, he handles paranormal threats; as a god, he protects his followers from evil forces; as a stock clerk, he keeps the back room of an antique store tidy. 
When one of his fellow agents goes missing, Vincent begins with the usual suspects. His investigation reveals that Boston’s latest supernatural threat is also waging war on his followers, and presents a grave danger to the city's paranormal citizens.  
Now, with the aid of a new partner and a gremlin, Vincent must locate the missing agent, defend his followers and learn the identity of his adversaries before they can revive a malevolent force that’s been dormant since World War II.


My Review


The story is based on Vincent, who is part of a secret society called Caulborn, that are basically like police of the supernatural community. When paranormal beings are getting kidnapped, it's up to Vincent to find out who's behind it. 
As urban fantasy books go, this is fairly generic - you have your main character who is, of course like a P.I (why are they always P.I's? I mean is there no other jobs out there for them?), he has that charismatic personality (think Harry Dresden, Atticus) and he get's into trouble more times than you can count. So...

What makes Vincent different, well, he's a half-god. Like me, you may be thinking what a cool main character, Vincent, is going to be, but you'll be mistaken. Vincent is probably the weakest god (half-god) you'll ever read. There doesn't go chapter where he doesn't get his ass handed to him and it's only through the faith of his flock that gives enough powers to make a hasty get away. You see Vincent is a god of race of beings called Urisk (in my mind I'm picturing E.T) who are fae beings that live on another realm to humans.
Which isn't a criticism if you want your hero to be vulnerable and not all-powerful, but I think the pendulum has shifted from one extreme to the other, so much so, that most authors are too afraid to make their protagonists badasses in fear that it'll turn readers off. Count me in the minority, as I enjoy reading the hero who isn't constantly running away from the bad guys and who can give back as he good as he receives. That's why I read books - for the good guys to beat up the bad guys. If I want realism, I'd just switch on the news.

The other characters in the book were interesting and had unique personalities, and in fact several of them could easily have been chosen as the protagonist rather than Vincent.

In terms of writing and structure of the novel, I can't fault the author. This is a well written book, with no typos or any silly mistakes and the pace of the plot while slow at the beginning, picked up nicely in the middle.


Conclusion


I didn't enjoy this book as much as others will no doubt do. Overall the novel has a lot of appealing qualities that will satisfy most readers who enjoy urban fantasy - and so I'm in two minds on how to conclude this review. Instead, I'll finish by saying that my review is more down to individual preference.


Out of 10 Stars:


5 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Reluctant Hero

Reluctant Hero (The Dunamis Covenant Book 1) by Ron Francis.


Front Cover





Synopsis



Thomas has been living his life with no knowledge of his true destiny, until a chance encounter with Abby, a beautiful woman with a mysterious past. Shortly after meeting her, he finds out he's part of a secret race of powerful people that has stayed hidden in humanity's shadow. While continuing to learn more about himself and his heritage, he is chased halfway across the country. On the run, and separated from Abby, he no longer knows who he can trust. All the while discovering a power inside him he doesn't understand, and never knew he had. 



My Review


The story follows Thomas, a young man, who abruptly finds his life turned upside down. Thomas is part of a secret race and he's the focus of a prophecy. As urban fantasy goes this is the run-of-the-mill stuff, the type of story in which you can predict the ending from the first chapter.
Characters were all fairly generic and not one really stood out in terms of uniqueness. The plot was riddled with cliches, dialogue felt choppy and some of the sentences were disjointed.

But, saying that, the story did provide me with a feel good factor, and sometimes you want to read a book that you can cheer on the goodies and boo the baddies.

Conclusion


This is an ideal book for youngsters. If you're looking for something original and more mature then this book is not for you.

Out of 10 Stars:


6 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Farewell Kelven's Riddle

sometimes, for some inexplicable reason, a book connects with you, just, like in many ways a friend does. It may happen spontaneously, but you just know that it's something special.

After finishing the last book, in the series, I'm not ashamed to say that I had a tear in my eye (several in fact). I remember coming across the first book, 'The Mountain at the Middle of the World', many years ago, and admittedly I wasn't that impressed by the cover or the description, but there was just something about it that kept nagging at me. I put it in my wish-list, but I had no real expectation that I would buy it. The paperback was quite expensive to me at the time and I thought instead to let it sit, just in case. And yet I kept coming back to it, reading the reviews, and I finally decided to take a chance on it. And I haven't looked back since.
It is to this day one of my favourite books I've ever read - and would be my favourite if not for a certain Mr Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings.
After turning of the last page, reading the last sentence and the last few words, it feels like I've lost someone dear to me. There has only been a handful of times I've felt this way after finishing a book/series, and I can count those times on one hand - that alone is a testament at how great I found these books.
I know without doubt I'll re-read this series again and never tire of the words. To me they're timeless and will be sitting in my book shelf for a long, long time - ready to be read once again.

Books like people are distinctive by nature. If we all liked what everyone else liked, or thought like everyone else thought, then it's fair to say we'd live in a pretty boring world. There are books I dislike that receive endless comments delirious in their praise **cough**Game of Thrones**cough** and yet books that I love are obscure and receive critical reviews. 
So, while I can type thousands of words saying how great these books are and why you should buy them, I'm not going to do that. It's up to you to take that chance. All I will say is that I feel lucky that I found a story that gripped me so intensely and gave me so much joy.

Finally, I'd like to say thank you to Daniel Hylton for creating a world and characters that will live long with me. 

So, to end this post I will leave you with a riddle:

He comes from the west.
And arises in the east.
Tall and strong, fierce as a storm upon the plain.
He ascends the height  to put his hand among the stars
And wield the Sword of Heaven.
Master of wolves, Friend of horses;
He is a prince of men and a walking flame.
He enters the stronghold of evil,
To bring down the mighty,
And return peace.

Kelven's Riddle



                    

                                                        


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Mr Hartley

Mr Hartley (Alternate Places Book1) by P.S Power.


Front Cover







Synopsis


Zack needs to find work, fast. 
That's not a new thing, since jobs are hard to come by in these tough economic times. So, deciding to try something new, he takes a shortcut through a tree, to an interspatial nexus across town. It isn't the sort of thing that most people do, but this time it works out pretty well, and he finds employment. At a secret embassy, masquerading as a rather humble candle shop. 
Mr. Hartley isn't just an ordinary store clerk, however, and very soon strange things become apparent to him that few would notice. Like the vampires running the place across the way, or the attractive giantess that keeps watching him more than a little bit too closely. 
As things become more clear secrets are uncovered, and Zack's old, fairly safe, life goes away without warning. 
Now, thrown into the thick of a world that he'd always been told didn't exist, he must survive and face the worst thing imaginable.
His own memories.



My Review


This book kind of caught of sneaked up on me while browsing through Amazon. The blurb and the relatively cheap price made it hard to refuse.
The book focuses on Zack Hartley, a recluse, who has a special power that sets him apart from everyone else, in that he can travel through special gateways that allow him to go from point A to B in a matter of seconds. The story follows Zack as he develops his powers and in doing so causes a ripple effect throughout the supernatural world.

The book does start of slow and I was confused for the first few chapters at what Zack's special powers were. Initially I wasn't actually wowed over his talent but as the story progressed, his powers became more defined and the 'ohhhh now I see it' moment arrived halfway through.

Besides the main character there is a plethora of characters but the author introduced them in such a way that it didn't feel like I was drowning in names. Characterisation focused squarely on Zack and kind of ignored the rest. Which resulted in that I didn't really connect with the others.

The story does start of slow and the author details literally every step Zack makes from what he's eating to the chores he's doing. It only really picks up near the middle when more about his powers are revealed.

This book is definitely intended for adults. There is a lot of sexual description in it and some violence. Normally I'm fine with sex in books but this book had too much, and when I say too much I mean to the point where I honestly couldn't go a chapter without someone doing it.

Now, you're probably reading this post so far thinking I dislike the book, but that definitely isn't the case. I enjoyed the story -once it picked up - and I was intrigued to see how Zack would develop from an anti-social geek to a charismatic leader.

Conclusion


This book is probably more catered towards young male adults and while I did enjoy the story I did feel that the overly sexual references spoilt it somewhat.


Out of 10 Stars:


6 Stars


Buy it here:


Friday, 10 October 2014

Forced Ascent

Forced Ascent by John Conroe.

Front Cover



Synopsis

Chris Gordon has never had an easy relationship with the White House. Now, after rescuing his goddaughter from a secret base in New Hampshire, it’s reached a new low. You drop one little asteroid onto the continental United States and the entire government goes crazy. On top of that Halloween is fast approaching and demons are popping through into our world every which way. Forced into the world of high level politics, Chris and Tanya and their merry crew will have to stay two steps ahead of just about everyone if they’re going to have a chance in hell of preventing all Hell from breaking loose.

My Review


If you follow my blog then you may have read my earlier post on the Demon Accords series by John Conroe and how utterly fantastic I found each and every single book in the series. Without doubt Demon Accords is one of my - if not the - favourite urban fantasy books I've read.

And it came as quite a pleasant surprise when I found out the latest book was out. It was like Birthday and Christmas all rolled up in one.

I'm not going to go too much into the plot as it's the 7th book in the series and if you haven't read the others then you'll be lost. What I will say is that John Conroe doesn't drop the ball with this one and if anything raised it. Storyline was gripping and expands significantly, action scenes were adrenaline fuelled and such was the pace of the book that I finished it within a day.

I can't think of anything I disliked but perhaps that's my biased view clouding my judgement.

Conclusion


If you haven't read the Demon Accords series and you claim to be a urban fantasy fan then you seriously need to have a good hard look in the mirror. For those of you who have, then you won't be disappointed.

Out of 10 Stars:


8 Stars

Buy it here:


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Balanced on the Blade's Edge

Balanced on the Blade's Edge (Dragon Blood Book 1) by Lindsay Buroker.


Front Cover 






Description


Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism—he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship—but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron—what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives…  
Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.  
Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade—her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.


My Review


It's been a while since my last post. Small part of that has been down to work but the rest is simply down to a lack of enthusiasm to read. Sometimes you go through periods where reading suddenly feels like a chore and when that happens to me I prefer to step back and take a break.
Well, I'm glad to say that the itch is back and Balanced on the Blade's Edge was what brought it back. 

The story follows two main characters. You have Colonel Ridge Zirkander, a hotshot pilot, who having overstepped his mark one too many times is sent to command a prison in the middle of nowhere. It's here that he meets Sardelle Terushan, a sorceress who has just woken up from 300 years of slumber. The story then divulges into their interactions and Sardelle trying to somehow figure a way to free her soul-blade that's buried under a mountain.

I initially thought the book was sci-fi but after the first few chapters I soon learnt it was a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. Normally, merging the two never works and can produce disastrous consequences but this book has actually succeeded where many have fallen. 

The book really is beautifully presented and I wasn't even sure if it was self-published. Such was the attractive cover and the crisp, engrossing writing that you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a published book. 

One of the main positives of this book was the characterisation. I really got a sense of Ridge and Sardelle personalities. Also the setting of the book captured my imagination. The book is set in a prison on a mountain side and in my mind I pictured snow dusted mountain peaks with a stone fortress set between them. I could easily close my eyes and picture myself there.

One minor negative I found was that I felt the romance between the two characters was a bit rushed and as a result their relationship felt a bit hollow.

Conclusion


If you're looking for a light read that merges both sci-fi and fantasy with a dash of romance then give this book a read.


Out of 10 Stars:


7 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Lost Prince

My review of The Lost Prince by C.T. Hill


Front Cover




Synopsis

Three decades ago the realm bled. Today, the Lost Prince lives. 
Kareth is a legend, a mythical hero; a brigand who just so happens to be the Prince of Panthos, the realm the Silent King destroyed three decades ago. Kareth is real, he is alive, and he is looking for vengeance.  
The only problem is that the Silent King, Kareth's mortal enemy, happens to be his father.

My Take On It


The book primarily focuses on two main characters; Selene, a simple barmaid and Kareth, the lost Prince. The story follows the pair as they evade the capture of the Silent King and his soldiers. There's also a backdrop of revenge and betrayal which adds a layer of depth to the storyline. The characterisation was done fairly well and the two main characters had distinct personalities.

The story continuously alternates between flashbacks and the present. And if you've read my previous posts then you'd know how much I hate flashbacks but the author did a good job in keeping me interested - enough that I actually read those chapters instead of glimpsing through them. 

This book may be self-published but it didn't suffer at all from the stigma attached to such books. It was articulately written, with the words flowing so effortlessly that I finished it within a day. The action scenes were so well done that I got a clear picture at what was happening and the pace of the story never allowed my mind to wander.

Conclusion


At no point did the story feel clumsy, and it goes without saying that - with its fantastic looking cover and its polished writing - this book can easily hold its own against published books.


Out of 10 Stars


7 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Merek's Ascendance

Merek's Ascendance by Andrew Lashway.


Front Cover







Synopsis


Merek has spent his entire life breaking his back on his parents' farm. They're angry, ignorant, and abusive, and one day Merek realizes that if he doesn't escape he'll be trapped forever. He has to escape, but that's easier said than done. And once he's on his own, he'll face bigger challenges than he ever could have imagined. 
He has to find find food and shelter and survive encounters with bears and poachers... 
But more dangerous still is the local weather, characterized by sudden intense storms, flying rocks, and floods. Merek's skills are pushed to the limit when he stumbles across Thorald, the crown prince of Wentana, badly injured and in possession of sensitive diplomatic information.  
Merek finds himself en route to the capital city, where he is caught up in a whirlwind of political conflict, treachery, training, intrigue, and romance.  
Countless adventures await... and his ability to adapt (and survive) will be pushed to the limit.

My Review


I was in the mood for something a bit more conventional and Merek's Ascendance caught my eye. The novel follows Merek a 17yr old teenager who lives a wretched life on a farm with parents that physically and mentally torment him. After having had enough he finally musters enough courage to run away once and for all. The story then unfolds as an illiterate farm-boy who eventually becomes a knight. 

The story is nothing new and I can't recall how many times I've read something in a similar vein but unlike a majority of those books, this is well written. The author creates a well structured novel that flows nicely - sentences were not disjointed and the dialogue didn't feel clumsy. However, I did find the prose was a touch too rudimentary for me and it's clear that the book is aimed at more of a younger audience.

This is a self-published book and does suffer from the occasional mistake but nothing to annoy you too greatly.


Conclusion


This is your standard pauper-to-prince type novel and is accompanied with the usual cliches like how the protagonist tries something new and masters it within the next chapter and how everything seems to fall nicely in place but I wouldn't let that discourage you from a well written book. Its just that I would have liked it if it was more intricate, more complex.

This book is perfect for teenagers or parents reading to their children or even for those who want to revisit a good ol' fashioned coming of age story.


Out of 10 Stars:


6 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Fimbulwinter


Fimbulwinter (Daniel Black) E.William Brown.


Front Cover





Synopsis

Summoned to a world in the midst of apocalypse, Daniel Black would have his hands full just staying alive. Add in refugees, desperate soldiers, scheming nobles and a pair of thoroughly wicked witches, and life is going to be very busy indeed. Good thing he has magic of his own to even the scales. But will even that be enough? 
Warning: This novel contains graphic violence, inventive sex, unconventional opinions and a protagonist who has no interest in being normal. Read at your own risk.


My Opinion


After a brief hiatus from fantasy I've finally returned. Fimbulwinter centres on Daniel Black who has just lost his computer programming job and on that same day returns to his home to find his wife cheating on him. And if you think his life can't get any worse, well, you'll be mistaken - he gets locked up in jail for a night before being run over by a pickup-truck. But fate does offer him a helping hand. The goddess Hecate offers to heal him in return for protecting a girl. She also gifts him with whatever magic he wishes. And so the story properly starts when he is thrust into this new world.

I normally avoid reading stories where a person from a modern world get's thrown into a fantasy setting. They're normally pretty cliche and more D&D to read and while this book could be said the same I enjoyed the author's witty and direct writing. The pace of the book was swift and never really allowed time for your mind to wander as the story moved from scene to another without lingering on any one moment. And that was great for me as I wasn't looking for something elaborate to read.

The story is told in 1st person through Daniel but that didn't impeach other characters depth and involvement, which is usually the case with 1st person writing.

This is a indie book and there were the odd typo found here or there but nothing extensive or detrimental to the story.

A word of warning, this book is intended for a more mature audience and I was hard pressed not to find a sexual reference/innuendo per page. But it didn't border to gratuitous levels (although it was pretty close).
Also in the story woman are more or less treated as sexual objects and are mostly vivacious sirens. I didn't like that and I can imagine feminist liking it even less. But I can see what the author was thinking. He based his fantasy world on a medieval type setting and woman weren't treated equally during those times.

Conclusion


A fast, exhilarating story that's ideal for those looking for something quick and fun to read. I rather enjoyed this book, despite some of its flaws, but I can easily imagine it not being to others taste.


Out of 10 Stars:


6 Stars


***
Buy it here:


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse

Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse by William.H Weber


Front Cover






Blurb



John Mack, a prepper and former soldier, struggles to save his family and community after an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) takes out the country’s electrical grid. With most electronics, communications and transportation destroyed in a matter of seconds, the nation quickly collapses into anarchy.  
For John and the other residents of Willow Creek Drive, the breakdown of social order throws them back to the 1800s. As the community tries to come together, a powerful outside force appears that threatens their survival. 
Will John’s years of military and prepping experience be enough to keep them safe?  
Mixing tons of useful prepping tips into an action-packed story, Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse is a must-read for any fans of survival fiction.


My Review


For some reason I've developed a sudden craving for post-apocalyptic stories and whilst browsing through Amazon this book caught my eye. The title really is self explanatory and focuses on an America that is suffering from an EMP attack. The story centres on John and his family as they try to survive in a world where all electrical items have become meaningless.

As post-apoc books go this one follows in a similar vain to most others, i.e. ex-military man who happens to be a survival nut. But I enjoyed the book nonetheless. The writing was crisp, purposeful and didn't waffle about on flowery prose. The storyline was enjoyable and flowed nicely at a natural pace. And I even appreciated the fact that the author didn't try and write an encyclopaedia on every gun the main character used. 
What I also liked was that Weber kept the book relatively light in terms of violence and didn't resort to cheap shock tactics to try and enhance the plot.

The story was told in first person which added depth to John's character but as a result it blunted everyone else's personality and in the end they just felt like cardboard cut-outs.

Conclusion


For those of you looking for a short post-apoc book to read over the weekend or on holiday then I definitely recommend this book. It's not heavy and the pages do fly by.

Out of 10 Stars:


7 Stars


***
But it here:




Saturday, 28 June 2014

Dead Air

Dead Air by Jon Shafer.


Front Cover




Blurb

When a man suffering from a rare disease receives a debilitating head injury, the treatment given him mutates his affliction into a highly contagious virus. As the disease spreads, it first kills its victims and then reanimates them into beings that are compelled to eat ravenously and crave human flesh.  
In Clearwater, Florida, Steve Wendell is following the stories of people attacking each other, but is unaware of the severity of the situation. When Heather Johansen, a Sheriff’s Deputy who is interested in Steve as more than a friend, tells him the real story of cities being overrun by the dead, Steve makes plans to barricade himself in the fifteen story bank building where the radio station he manages has its suite of offices.  
After locking himself in with Heather and eight others, the group continues to broadcast live as the dead surround their redoubt and search for a way in. Coming across a ten year-old girl that is immune to the disease, the group tries to find a way to transport her across a land filled with the flesh-eating dead to a government facility where she can be studied and a cure found


My Opinion


I suddenly felt in the mood for a zombie book whilst reminiscing about 'The Walking Dead' and I came across Dead Air. What initially struck me was the amount of positive reviews it had on Amazon. Normally when I stumble upon such type of books they're usually a mixed bag in terms of reviews. Some positive but most often than not negative - either complaining about the characters or storyline, or in fact both.
Well, anyway moving on...

Opening few chapters were as I expected and - like all the other zombie books I've read -described the zombie virus outbreak and how it all started. However, unlike most of those books, I wasn't bored witless and I thought the beginning of Dead Air was brilliant. Well, not the actual reason of how the zombie outbreak started  - I thought that was a bit out there - but the tension that the author created when he described the slow, initial, almost serene turn from normal pleasant person to a flesh devouring monster. The suspense at wondering if that person was a zombie filled me with nervous anticipation and I actually had some semblance of dread whilst reading, which was a refreshing change to the usual eye rolling that normally accompanied these type of books.
Simply put - it was done right. Zombies were actually scary to read.

In terms of characterisation, the story focused mainly on Steve Wendell, a radio station manager. As far as hero's go he was exactly the type of person you'd want by your side in such a crisis. He was calm, composed and a leader. And not your stereotypical Rambo impersonator but instead someone who used brains over brawn. In fact that's something I liked overall about the book - the story wasn't like an encyclopaedia of every gun under the sun like most authors are contagious of (pun intended).

As the book wore on the early promise began to dwindle away when the author introduced more character POVs. Personally, I really hate it when characters constantly change and so I didn't enjoy it when the scenes shifted away from Steve. What can I say, I'm a one-man type of....erm....I mean I'm a one-woman...anyway I'm sure you get the point. 

This is a zombie book (just in case you forgot) but there actually wasn't a lot of zombie craving action. Rather most of the book was contained behind the walls of Steve's radio station where the group of survivors were holed up in. The story focused more on the logistics of staying safe. Which suited me as I'm more curious learning of how one would go about being hydrated and fed in such dire predicaments instead of charging headlong into a swarm of zombies with just a hand-knife. I know I'm probably in the minority when I say that and die-hard zombie fans will no doubt be shaking their heads at me, scoffing 'amateur' under their breaths.


Conclusion


One of the better zombie apocalypse stories I've read and I would definitely recommend it to fans who have sporadic renewals of enthusiasm for such books.


Out of 10 Stars:



7


***
Buy it here: