Monday, 29 May 2017

Update on My Amazon Page with new book covers

Feeling good about this.

A review of "Operation Badger" by Tabitha Ormiston-Smith


This is a beautifully written, warm and wonderful story in which Tabitha Ormiston-Smith has put the absurdness of life, the need for love and the wonder of the human soul all next to each other on a single slide under the microscope.

There are three main characters, Ben (the policeman), Tammy (hard working writer) and Tom (the cat). The plot is bonkers: it has to be the most madly conceived police operation of all time! You simply can’t take your girlfriend on a police undercover operation, riding through the bush on a horse-drawn caravan … bonkers but utterly brilliant! I suspect that is how she must see life in general.

I won’t say more about the plot (sorry if the above was a tiny bit of a spoiler). I will say that the author has created characters I believed in and absolutely felt for. She really had me yelling “No!” out loud at one point, desperately fearing for the very life of one of her main trio.

I am so glad I picked this book up. It isn’t what I normally read, and it won’t be for everyone I guess (what book is?), but it is an absolute peach of a story and an example of how to make life’s moments seem ten times as bright.

Tabitha must own a strange and magic lens to view the world through. Not having her particular prescription to hand, I will gladly settle for her description of what she sees through it: a peculiar place that is better than the real one.

A delightful little tale. Full marks!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A review of "The Call (The Silent War book 1)" by Elí Freysson


Whenever I pick up a book from a new ‘untried’ author there is always the element of risk: the experiment has not always come out well. It can be a ‘hit’ but often is a ‘miss’

In this case I have to say it has been a hit– the book is well written, the characters likeable and the overall story moves along at a good pace. Elí has started this series in a traditional manner, the young heroine (Katja) dreaming of adventure becomes the student paired to an older and more experienced warrior. She must quickly learn the skills necessary to survive her ‘Call’ against the monsters and demons that threaten the world. In this respect it is safe and oft-trodden ground (think Luke Skywalker from Star Wars or any number of other ‘hero coming of age’ stories) but then there is a reason this scenario is so often used – it works, bringing the reader along as if we too are learning about the big wide world beyond our village and gaining the skills necessary to overcome the threats around us.

Such plots are never intended to stretch the reader in themselves. In this case it does the same job as Serdra’s horse Hnut, carrying the characters forward in a very dependable fashion without ever overshadowing them, keeping them tightly knit on its back as the journey progresses. The story very much centres on the student/teacher relationship and mostly engages well. This might be because having two female leads is a little more unusual in the genre, at least in my experience. Whatever the reason, I found myself genuinely caring for the characters – yes, even Hnut the horse. That said there is still plenty of room for character development – there’s got to be more to life than slicing up monsters. As yet Katja has little of value in her young life to truly loose and the series will need some romance and more complicated relationships to fill that void.

The story is clearly influenced by computer gaming. There’s an early training period to get use to game concepts and skills. After that Katja and Serdra travel between towns, experience psychic ‘cut-scenes’’, shop for supplies, and meet monsters of increasing strength and capability. Even the rather clever ‘silent language’ is akin to the prompts used by remote players in co-operative games. But again it all works surprising well so I won’t knock it.

I also enjoyed the fight scenes. These can be incredibly hard to get right but I found myself following the technical ideas and imagination, the characters’ movements, the use of weapons…it all seemed nicely real to me. Yes, I felt that strangle hold stopping the blood getting to my brain!
So the acid test – will I be reading the next book in the series when it comes out?

Answer: YES. Elí is not yet on my very select ‘favourite author list’ but I think this work well deserves it’s above average mark. I went as high as 4 simply because I enjoyed it. I am looking forward to seeing how both the series and the author develop from this competent and solid start.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A review of "Tapasya (The Redemption of Wist Book 1)" by David Gilchrist


There are certain ingredients that any high-fantasy needs. A grand world, an interesting premise, strange creatures and, most of all, characters that blend together and suck you right into their group so that you accompany them on their great quest. This very accomplished story gets it all right.

The Redemption of Wist isn’t all about Wist though: Gilchrist has more than a fistful of interesting personalities that trek across the desert on a quest which grows and develops as they travel. In fact, Wist himself is perhaps not yet the most fully explored and developed of the characters, but then I think he is necessarily an enigma, and I am sure we will find out more of Wist and his secrets in the next instalments!

I will tell you that I just loved the Lyrat pair; the concept of them always working as a closely bonded unit is matched by the way the author uses them to push and pull the story along, helping to keep the different parts of the plot moving without friction or effort. Amongst the others, Nikka the dwarf is beautifully portrayed and the truly scary thug-priest is drawn with loving detail.

The author keeps his plot tight and he knows what’s happening - which is a lot! But some of the set scenes are wonderful and the journey by sand-whale stirs the imagination of the soul and heart.

This is the first in series and I may be being harsh in only giving it four stars because I certainly thought about giving it the full five. At the end of the day though, it isn’t a book that is meant to stand just on its own and so it has too much left hanging for me to be that generous. It’s an excellent story and there is a better way to judge how much I liked it:  I’m going to have to read the next part.

Monday, 22 May 2017

New Covers for Book series

Just completed updating my covers for the Forgotten Wings series.

It will take about a week for them to flip over to the new versions in Amazon Kindle :(

Here are the new versions.