Archive for » May, 2015 «

Rivals: A Review

This is the second story in the Skid series and was gifted to me by the author, Doug Solter, in return for my review. I mentioned this coming out a while back and Doug did a guest post here last year at about the same time as the release date so I’ve been pretty excited about this book for a while. I adored the first in the series.

skid2The book picked up a little while after the previous Skid story, following our darling heroine Samantha and her boyfriend Manny. I must admit the very beginning threw me a little. Samantha was driving fast and recklessly on a normal road, something I felt was a little out of character given her past and what happened to her father. This happened again later in the book and made me feel a little frustrated.

I loved the chapters from Manny’s point of view and having Paige on the scene (Samantha’s younger sister). I also liked the general plot of the book and the extra elements added by Manny’s ex. The books was also written well in terms of pacing, and the balance of action and character  dialogue and down scenes.

But despite my desire to love this book as much as I did the first I just couldn’t. While some of how Samantha reacted felt realistic and understandable given the pressure she was under, she came across a little too immature for a girl her age. She whined a shed load, which was heavy slogging to read and although some of the things she did wrong were understandable I don’t know a single girl above the age of about 13-14 that still gives someone the silent treatment when angry.

I also have mixed feelings about where the book ended, half-way through a season and the story’s plot. While I can understand the author’s desire not to publish a sequel that’s way longer than the first one, I personally would have prefered a longer book that had a little less of the immaturity and whining and had a complete plot.

The last few percent redeemed the book a little so I’ll definitely read the next one but unfortunately this isn’t as good as the first.

London Belongs to the Alchemist: A Review

This s the fourth book in the Class Heroes series by Stephen Henning and I was given a copy of the ebook in return for my review.

London Belongs to the AlchemistThis book started a little after the third book from the usual protagonists point of view and continued the adventure of Sam, James and Lolly as they try to navigate being teenagers with superpowers. It also introduces some new characters which helps to keep the plot fresh.

As usual with these books there’s plenty of action and the characters are wonderfully consistent. I adore Lolly after book 3 and this story continued to build on the way I felt about her. Definitely think she’s my favourite character now.

Plot wise, I think I still like number 3 the best but this one wasn’t far behind. My only dislike was the book having a bit of a cliffhanger ending. I will have to read the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it.

All in all another great book in the series with more of the good bits of the previous books, just don’t start this one until the next one is out if you can’t stand a cliffhanger.

Getting lost in a good book

The wonderful thing about a good book is that you can get lost inside the world it has created, imagining your own new scenes once the book has ended. Having your own conversations with the wonderful characters.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of this. In the difficult times I had earlier in the year I filled my time when I couldn’t write with books, films and tv series. There’s some brilliant books I’ve read this year and some amazing tv. I’ve blogged my reviews of the films I’ve gone to see as I’ve seen them but with the book reviews I said I’d do that hasn’t left any friday spaces for the other books and anything else I’ve enjoyed so I made a favourites shelf on my goodreads profile here.

Who knows, maybe all this input will inspire some cool new idea soon!

Elemental Cascade: A Review

This is the third book in the Fuel to the Fire series by David Staniforth and I was given a copy in return for my review. I also reviewed both the first and second books in the series.

Elemental CascadeThis one didn’t start off quite where the previous one finished and it took me a moment to remember who everyone was and how they’d all got to where they were. I could only really remember the main character, Davran, which was probably more my fault for leaving it so long between reading book 2 and 3, but after a few chapters I had caught up with everything.

I was looking forward to finding out a few things in this book that appeared to be glossed over at first but most of my questions were satisfied by the end of the book so no complaints there. After all, every good series has some questions left unanswered.

Writing and plot wise I think this was by far the strongest of the three books. I just loved it and found it very hard to put the book down. The author had progressed through the series and really made this book work, especially all the ending stuff. The last few chapters were wonderfully woven together and not at all what I expected.

Like the first two there’s plenty of standard fantasy stuff, with dragons, creatures, different races and a bad guy. With a perfectly amazing ending that still had me feeling surprised even though it wasn’t an uncommon ending to this sort of book, I felt very satisfied by the time I’d finished.

Possibly one of my favourite books so far this year.

Flights of Fantasy: New Release

The next anthology from Raptor Retreat Press has been released and it’s only 99p!

Flights of FantasyFlights of Fantasy is pretty obviously a fantasy collection. It is raising money for Ben Cassidy as he is fighting cancer just like Brandon Hale was last year. Being in the US comes with scarily high medical bills so he needs a little help.

In here are fifteen amazing stories by some brilliant authors and it includes the prequel story to my fantasy Winter series, titled The Hope of Winter. And if that doesn’t tempt you enough here’s the amazing blurb:

A winter’s tale of mirth and wonder, flights of fantasy that make the mind ponder. From wizards tales of classic magic told of long ago places, and dragons – oh of dragon’s lore, to a king’s champion whose heart now stirs only for a common lass.

This collection of wintry tales mixes the strange and the macabre, and swirls in a touch of holiday magic. Captured within a globe of dancing mists, these stories take the reader across the worlds of Fairie and alien alike, while Texas-sized dreams fill the void of a lifetime across the fields of hardship. This varied collection touches the heart and fuels the soul to bring these worlds to life, at winter’s edge.

So here’s those buy links: Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

A Mug’s Game: A Review

I was given a copy of this ebook by the author, C. D. Swanson, in exchange for my review.

A Mug's GameThis book started of very intriguing, and had a very interesting main character. It’s a bit of a mystery/thriller type book and has some elements of science fiction with the references to advanced video gaming. I found the way of building suspense by withholding information rather than letting events build tension to grate on me a little. I’d have kept turing the pages anyway even if I’d known more, but it was only a minor irritation.

Character wise there were some really interesting and diverse characters and I liked the main character and how he wrestled with what was right and necessary. The detectives were a little stereotypical but otherwise fine as well.

I had a few problems with the formating and there were quite a few spelling mistakes still in the text, which was surprising for a book that appears to have a publishing company behind it. The first letter in each chapter was englarged and apart from one chapter the third line didn’t indent to make room for it so it covered up some words. There was also one strange bit in the third or fourth chapter where a sentence was all jumbled, then there was a gap and then the next sentence was in a completely different font.

All in all, not a bad book, although I’m not sure exactly what genre to call it. I’d read the author again but I’m not sure I think much of the publisher.

Writing Through Grief

Writing for me is now mostly a way of life. It’s part of every day, my routine and a lot of my conversations. I tell stories. I paint scenes with a thousand words, and I love doing it. For the most part it makes me feel better, makes me feel like the world is right and I’ve done something productive within it.

The writing process for me is very emotional. I draw on the full range of emotions and experiences in my memory to try and evoke those emotions in whoever might read the story. I feel everything my characters feel, I often cry when they cry, find myself smiling when they smile, my heart pounds when theirs does, and even occasionaly I laugh out loud when they laugh.

Often, when I describe it to people I say that each emotion is a different tool on my desk. I have a red pen for all the passion and romance, a black pen for all the despair, a blue pen for sadness and a glitter pen for all the sparkly happy moments etc. I paint my scene with whichever colours and shades are needed, layering them up until I have the right blend and have a complete picture of all the complicated emotions that go into being a person or, in this case, one of my characters.

When my Grandma died (and even, before that, when she was taken into hospital) it was like someone had come into my office and messed up my desk. They’d moved everything and mixed black in with all my other colours so everything came out with a smear of black. For ages the happy emotions I would normally paint a scene with were tainted so badly when I tried to use them I came out with a brown gunky mess that wasn’t anything like the scene I was aiming for. No matter what emotion I tried to access it resulted in a flood of tears, or anger that had me almost hurling the nearest object.

Slowly, day, by day, some of the black has been filtered out of the colours. A lot of them are so close to their original colours now that I doubt most people would be able to tell the difference, but I still can. And for now, sitting down at my desk and working doesn’t feel quite right, but it’s getting there, and sometimes, for a bit, I can pick up a colour and paint with it and forget that anything ever happened to upset my desk and my writing world. But sometimes I notice, and sometimes I cry.

The Avengers – Age of Ultron: A Review

I think it was pretty obvious I was going to go see this film. The first avengers is still one of my favourite films and I must have watched it 20+ times now. I also totally love Joss Whedon’s character writing skills. Not to mention his dialogue.

avengers-ultronThis film sort of picks up where the previous marvel plots have left off, so it helps to have watched the Captain America film from last year as well as the previous avenger’s film, obviously. Right away there’s the focus on character and snappy one liners that Joss Whedon is brilliant at and in that respect this film was everything the previous one was. I laughed, a lot.

Avengers-ultron-3There’s a few more heroes in this one and some new and interesting powers, as well as the new and interesting bad guy, Ultron. This was some very well done animation. I often found myself loving the way his face moved as he spoke, and the voice actor, James Spader, was particularly spectacular with the expression and emotion he managed to get into it. I know there was quite a bit of news kerfuffle when he was announced but that was some definite fantastic casting.

I’m not sure what it was about this film though, but I didn’t quite love it as much as I thought I was going to. I liked it and laughed a lot. There’s nothing I can specifically say is wrong with it. But I’m beginning to wonder if the films are just a little too formulaic and I’m finally beginning to get a bit bored. Nothing totally surprised me and I like being surprised.

Avengers-Ultron-2There were a few things I really liked. I liked the massive iron man suit thing tony boosted his normal suit with in a very transformers sort of way, although I wondered if this contradicted the ending of Iron Man 3 a bit. I was fairly sure all the suits got blown up in that and would really like some kind of explanation on what happened there. I also totally loved what they did with Jarvis and Paul Bettany, and as usual he got some great one-liners.

All in all, I came out happy and pleased I’d gone to see it, but something was a little too samey about it, even if I can’t put my finger on what exactly. If you like Marvel films though this one really won’t disappoint.