Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Thought's On Jen Williams' Copper Cat Trilogy

So, yesterday morning I finally came to the end of 'The Silver Tide' the final volume in Jen Williams' Copper Cat trilogy. I started out reading these books when the first one (The Copper Promise) had a small article about it in SFX Magazine about two years ago. Long story short I liked the sound of it, contacted the author through social media about the release date and waited till I could download it for my Kindle.

The Copper Promise was all I hoped it would be and more. Here were adventurers, dungeons, dragons, magic, traps, and a vividly portrayed world. From the off the adventures of Lord Aaron Frith, Sir Sebastian and The Copper Cat herself Wydrin of Crosshaven felt like time spent with friends and that is something I don't often get with fantasy fiction. I finished that book and waited for the next, The Iron Ghost.

A year later it appeared and I set into it. If anything this was even better, a new area of the world to explore, new characters added to the mix, new creatures, new magic and all tied in nicely to the previous volume. Finished it, loved it and got ready to wait for the final volume which I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of.

Starting The Silver Tide was, to be honest, a bitter sweet experience. It was great to be in the company of The Black Feather 3 again but there was also the knowledge that 'this is it', the last adventure for Wydrin and co. I didn't want it to be over. With this final volume the scene has changed again, our 3 intrepid heroes are hired by Devinia the Red, a pirate captain (who just happens to be Wydrin's mother) to help get her ship to the centre of the Isle of Euriale, a mystical place that nobody has ever returned from. We go from icy tundra in book 2 to steamy jungle here, another change of scenery that keeps everything fresh. Again, more new characters (and some returning ones I maybe wasn't expecting), new magic etc.......................and then we enter the endgame!!!!!!



I'd hoped for good things for this final instalment but never expected or hoped it would be as good as this. All the hints and foreshadowing are tied up nicely, the battle scenes are beyond epic and the imagery is both vivid and beautiful.

And the final scene, well, let's just say I had a tear in my eye but at the same time punching the air thinking 'BOOM!, that's how it's done!!'

Jen Williams has done an amazing job with this series and I highly recommend it. A proper review will follow soon

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel - A Review

Put yourself in Steve's place.

Steve lives with his parents, sister and new baby brother. The baby brother is 'very poorly' and takes up the majority of his parents time......but what if there is a simple chance that the baby can be 'fixed'. All it takes is a simple word 'Yes!'

What would you do?

A simple enough premise for a very thought provoking and engaging novel. As it starts out we are introduced to Steve, his family and the 'angels' he meets in his dreams. The 'angels' seem to know all about the problems with the baby and have a solution but they need Steve's help. It all seems clear cut but, as is often the case, not everything is. When you add in ' The knife guy' - a creepy, sinister looking fellow that not everyone can see it is easy to judge who is good, who is bad and so on.

No, no, no, no, no.....it's not as clear cut as that, and here are possible SPOILERS so you may want to come back after you've read the book

You still sure you want SPOILERS?!?!?

Last chance.........

Right, the 'angels' in Steve's dreams are actually wasps (of a variety never seen before) and their plan is to grow Steve and his family a replacement for the baby in the hive outside his house. All Steve has to do is agree to open a window when the time comes so the wasps can do the switcheroo. At first it seems a good idea but when he realises what it means for the 'original' version of the baby he changes his mind. Then things really get moving as the wasps don't like that.

"Gripping" is a word sometimes too freely used with regards to books but in this instance I really feel it's the best for the job. I was given this copy, an uncorrected proof, by a friend and started reading at the bus stop 5 minutes later. From then until I finished it 2 days later it itched at me to read just a little bit more, but there were also moments, proper edge of the seat times, that made me feel more like peeking at the next page rather than tearing straight into it. Tense times....

I guess I would bracket this book as mid-teen Sci-Fi but really I'd suggest picking it up whatever your reading preferences as it is a really good read (and, hey, I learnt how wasps make nests, which I didn't know before).

Final word goes to the illustrations - just fairly simple pencil drawings but they really add to the atmosphere.

4.5/5 stars

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Carnifex: Legend of The Nameless Dwarf book 1by D. P. Prior - A Review

First things first, let me get this out there...........I don't particularly like fantasy sagas that focus on Dwarves. Their society bores me a little. Well, that was the case until I decided to have a look at Carnifex.

As this is the first in the Legends Of The Nameless Dwarf series it is, in effect, an origin story.  There is a good deal of set up and foreshadowing but that doesn't get in the way of a bloody good yarn.

Our hero is Carnifex, a member of the Ravine Guards. He is a likeable guy, a bit gruff maybe but I guess that's a typical Dwarf. He has a brother who is a scholar and a father who was told, in a kind of prophecy, that his sons were special (I'm really trying not to drop spoilers here)

The society of the Dwarves is very insular with absolutely nobody allowed to leave The Ravine. If any Dwarf does venture into the outside world they face exile and, more importantly, being stripped of their name (you can see where we are going here can't you) and having it erased from history.

As you would expect from a fantasy 'origin' book  there is a good deal of history but not enough to bog the story down, there are 'artefacts' and monsters (mainly in the form of Golems who provide a real test to our hero.

By the end of the story I thought I had an idea of what the outcome would be but I was wrong footed I guess.

And then we come to the final scene. It's not often I'm left speechless but this was one of those times. WOW!!

I like my fantasy big and sprawling but in this instance I was happy to just spend time with the Dwarves. The city/Dwarven Homeland was believable and well thought out, the society and hierarchy worked and, to be honest, I had a bloody good time with this book.

I'm looking forward to the rest of this series, a lot.

I'm going to give Carnifex 8.5/10 stars just because I'm expecting even better in future volumes.

A very, very good 1st volume

Friday, 15 January 2016

The Monsters Inside by Belinda O'Brien - A Review

Let's face it, all kids can be prone to temper tantrums when they cannot get their own way or if they don't get the attention they crave. It's all part of growing up.

What we have here is a story about a youngster called Jack who, as the title suggests, has monsters inside. These 'monsters' are the temper tantrums that come to the fore when he gets frustrated.

With some help from his mum Jack learns how to cope with his 'monsters' and keep them inside and making things nicer for everyone.

And that is, I guess, the main purpose behind this quite lovely book. The 'coping mechanism' that Jack learns with his mum is really quite easy to learn and will benefit children and parents both (I tried it for myself and it works).

As well as been a really nicely told story (nice rhyming verse style and quite catchy) this book comes with some really beautiful illustrations by Jemina Venter that capture the approaching storm as Jack's 'monsters' prepare to raise their heads and the return to happy Jack after.

It may sound corny to say every family should have a copy of this book, or at least give it a try, but I honestly believe it.

A lovely and informative tale with beautiful illustrations - 5/5 stars

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Eye For An Eye by Graham Masterton - A Review

I have been a fan of Graham Masterton's horror fiction for 30+ years but this dip into his crime fiction left me feeling a tad short changed.

A priest is found dead in the garden of an old religious lady who has been threatened by 'Satan' on several recent occasions. 'Satan' told her, apparently, to sell up and move to somewhere else (although the police seemed to not notice when she told them that). The search for the murderer leads to a local tools firm who's land gives the only other point of access to the old lady's garden.

I made a point of finishing this as it was a short story but, to be honest, if it had been much longer I'd have probably bailed. The 'who' was pretty obvious from the outset and not exactly challenging.

There are several full length novels in this series so I may give them a try at some point but I don't have high hopes for them

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Thoughts after reading 'Nineteen Nuns On The Number 15 Bus - The Southend Zombie Apocalypse'

 Earlier this week I had several adverts on my Facebook page for 'Nineteen Nuns On The Number 15 Bus - The Southend Zombie Apocalypse' by Simon G Gosden. I was in the mood for some ZA fiction so decided to give it a go - it was only 99p so what's to lose. A lot as it turns out.

 This has turned out to be one of the worst produced books it has been my misfortune to read, which is a shame as the story itself has a lot of promise. What lets it down is the fact there is no sign of an editor or proof reader having been anywhere near it (and if it has been edited and proofed those responsible should hang their heads in shame). There are errors on practically every page and even for 99p this is unacceptable.

 Several points to remember when you are writing or have completed your book (or whatever you are producing - even if it is only a leaflet)

     1) Always get someone else to look at it - there is more chance of fresh eyes spotting an error.

     2) If you are going to use big words at least make sure you use the right ones - and yes, that happened in this book.

     3) If you don't know Formatting then get someone else to either do it for you or show you how - your book will be more appealing if it is set out well.

 'Nineteen Nuns...' is a terrible example of how a book should be published (or an excellent example of how to get it so, so wrong!) It reads very much as if the author just wrote the story and pressed 'publish' which is a shame because it could have been a decent little book with the right amount of care and attention.

 I believe 'Nineteen Nuns....' is to be republished in 2016 with a full professional edit so I will look out for it then and give it another go - hopefully it will be readable by then.

 Oh, and I've looked on Amazon - it has 4 reviews, and each one (including one by a Mr Simon Gosden - remember that name from earlier??) is a 5 star review, full of praise and with no mention of the countless errors. So I guess that leads me to point number

      4) If you are going to give your book a 5 star book and glowing reviews at least make sure your work is worth it. A self appointed 5 star review of a mess of a book will do you no favours whatsoever.

 It's your book, you put all that work into it so do what you need to to make it the best damn book you can. It'll be worth it in the long run

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Escape From B-Movie Hell by M T McGuire - a review

When Art Restoration student Andi Turbot hears voices in her head you would think the day couldn't get any weirder.........then she finds out her best friend Eric is a 7ft tall lobster shaped alien and the future of our world is at stake.

This book, as hinted at in the title, is very much in the style of B-Movies and, as such, is a whole lot of fun - so much so, in fact, that I got through this in 2 days (which was disappointing, in a good way, as I would have happily spent a lot longer in this universe). The rich cast of characters and non stop dashing about keep the reader engaged (to be fair books like this can lose pace and attenton in the middle ground) all the way through.

I'm certainly glad I decided to pick this up and give it a go, and I'll also be looking out for more from this author

A good, fun comedy space romp, more please

4/5 stars