Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Book Review: The Inner Kingdom (Dragon Quest I) by S.R. Gibbs


Think of the fantasies that thrilled you as a child, and influenced me as a writer, and the usual tales, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and others come to the fore. In the case of CS Lewis' body of work, I felt that in author SR Gibb's debut novel, there lay the hallmarks of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

 Of course, this story seeks to stand on its own, and it tells the tale of three sisters, Angie, April and Ashley, who find their normal day to day routine upturned when they find themselves in a fantastical world, full of danger, thrills and excitement. The book has quite a large cast of characters, but as the action all surrounds the three sisters, and often the chapter focus is told from one sister's POV, it's an enjoyable and always engaging read.

 In particular, I loved the ending. It was a great reveal, that I didn't see coming. Thankfully, the author has another tale in the works. I think SR Gibbs is very talented and will hopefully delight us with a new release soon.

Monday, 8 December 2014

GoodReads Giveaway: Murderous Little Darlings (A Tale of Vampires #1)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Murderous Little Darlings by John    Hennessy

Murderous Little Darlings

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends January 01, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Friday, 5 December 2014

Book Review: The Genesis Reversal by Jillian Cornell


Master Jin: "Are you frightened of your wife, Ip?"
Ip Man: "No men are afraid of their wives. There are just men who respect them."

(from the movie Ip Man, 2008)

Sometimes a book makes you stop everything you're doing, and makes you think. The Genesis Reversal, by Jillian Cornell, is one such book.

If you read a book and can get into it instantly, that's great. Should the reading get too comfortable, however, it loses its possible strength.

Reading The Genesis Reversal was like watching one of those 'mirror universe' episodes of Star Trek where things were the same, but they weren't...and it does take you a little while to get used to the set up.

Fortunately, Miss Cornell's writing style is eloquent and well structured. You can 'buy' the premise of a matriarchal society here, whereas in the aforementioned Star Trek..such ideas were handled rather badly.

The main character of the story is young Tommy, who dreams of being the first male president one day. Such ideas are seen as fanciful, at best, but he watches cartoons like Captain Strong Man, who always helps others, and naturally, the Cap is a hero to him.

The overall message of the book is one of equality, and it remains a very important one. I really like the concept of women owning firearms but the men do not.

Whilst in our world, female killers are in the minority, it's more about attitude and mentality. Fairness, also. What is fairness? Is asking for more of a balance, and less control, actually fair? ask any reasonable person and they'll agree with that statement.

Men are quick to anger in this book, and it's fair to say men are generally more aggressive. I've always said I will avoid a fight where I can, but if in one...I will finish it. Guess who told me that? A woman - who was my first proper kung fu instructor.

I also loved lines like (paraphrased):

"Ruthie, would you explain why you threw rotten eggs at my house?"
"They weren't rotten when we threw them."

Coming from a Catholic family, the concept that God is a woman was a little difficult to get around, but I cannot prove otherwise, so I roll with it.

The Genesis Reversal is a true gem, because it makes you think 'what if' in a really plausible way. It also shows the power of book recommendations by your favourite authors.

I enjoyed this a lot. I'll be looking out for more from this talented author!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Book Review: Facade by J Kahele


In the best tradition of sexually charged thrillers, Facade introduces us to Ally and Liam, two characters that are literally like two asteroids colliding in space.

It can only create a big bang. Ally is a feisty heroine, and I found myself one the one hand cheering for her directness and tough attitude. On other pages pages I was like 'Ally, now why have you done that? It will only make Liam mad.'

Liam has a great relationship with his father, a successful business, and Liam knows too what he wants. Problem is, despite the many proclaimations of love for each other, Ally and Liam don't seem to want to go that bit further, or maybe...learn to back off.

Hence this is the Facade I saw in the title, and how it relates to the story.

Will they end up together, or not? You'll have to read and see. But it is so worth the read!

I think the author of the superb Mine and Mine 2, J Kahele, had a blast writing this tale. There's scope for more too - Caras is actually my favourite character - I warped mind! Anyway, this is a great read that demands your attention. Now.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cover Reveal: The Blood and the Raven (A Tale of Vampires, #2)

I'm happy to announce the second in my novella-style tale of vampires. Entitled The Blood and the Raven, the story is related to the first Tale, Murderous Little Darlings, and yet any in this series can be read on their own.

Unlike Murderous Little Darlings, which was told rather tongue-in-cheek, The Blood and the Raven is more of a straight up horror tale.

Synopsis: A group of teenagers spend a night amongst the ruins of an old priory, taking turns to scare one other with a tale of horror, each  one more scary than the last.

When it comes to Seth, the last storyteller, he is reluctant to tell the story, because once the story has been told, those who hear it, will begin to die.

As he is still alive, his friends think Seth is bluffing - but is he in fact, telling the truth?

To find out, you must dare to read the tale of The Blood and The Raven. 

Expected release: February 2015. You can read the first tale and buy it here.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Murderous Little Darlings: Paperback Release Announcement!

Hello friends and hope you're having an amazing day.

"Now hear this!" as Lt. Dan says in Forrest Gump.

The Kindle version of my first book in the Tale of Vampires series has been out for  a while now and you can get the e-version here but this post is specifically about the paperback version.

It's done now, so expect it on Amazon soon. Here's a look at the front and back cover.

Murderous Little Darlings is the first in a series of seven tales of vampires. Expect the series to twist and turn, but all relate, once the series has ended. Each story can be read as a standalone too.

I hope you'll give it a go. I had a blast writing this!

Happy reading and writing!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Book Review #31: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay had some serious living up to do. After The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire, the issue for Suzanne Collins was how to reel readers in for a third time. The possibility of another Hunger Games taking place seemed implausible, and so we are taken on a street level tour of District 13 in this book.

The rebellion appears to be in full swing, but the Capitol have a weapon in the form of Peeta. They use him in the same way that Katniss, for a large part of this book, seems to be used.

Christopher Nolan, director of the Dark Knight trilogy, at first did not want to do a third film in the series. That film, which became The Dark Knight Rises, would have almost certainly featured Heath Ledger's Joker. Given the actor's death, revisions to the script had to be made. 

The general consensus is that 'Rises' is the weakest of the three movies. But I see the series as one whole, and if you look at it in those terms, it's very enjoyable indeed. You have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Mockingjay has this too, and the ending to Catching Fire just made your pulse race harder than anything that was in the first book. Yes, it was that good, in my view. Surely after that, the only way is down? Christopher Nolan didn't want to do the third Batman film because 'how often does the third story beat out the previous ones?'

And he is right. It's so difficult to get the third story in the series right. Mockingjay also seems to have 
polarised many readers, but most seem to think this is a fitting end to the series. Here's my take on it, given I read the book nearly two years ago now, and with the new film coming out, I just had to reacquaint myself with the story.

I had previously rated Mockingjay 4 stars out of 5 on GoodReads. Would this rating stand up?

I recall that my experience mirrored many others. Book 1, read as fast as I could (in my case, 1.5 days - I even wanted to reschedule teaching lessons in order to finish the book!), Catching Fire, best part of a week, Mockingjay....nearly three months.

Was I 'Gamed out' by this point? Had I tired of Panem's situation? No, it wasn't that. The pace of Book 1 and 2 was frenetic, to put it mildly. Book 3, in contrast, was slow, plodding, and yes...a bit depressing. I wanted to know where the spirited Katniss had gone. 

She became one of my favourite heroines in book form, but Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal on the big screen elevated Katniss to something else. That's why I think the film will still be good. Is it really Suzanne Collin's fault that some readers feel let down by the pace of this final book? Most say 'I was expecting something mind blowing'? And of course, that is fair enough.

Another comment was that the publisher pushed Miss Collins to write this third book, one she never intended to write. The whole evolution of Katniss from plucky fighter who replaced her sister in the 74th Games to this inward looking girl, who cannot seem to choose between Peeta and Gale, really irked me.

I know she is young, and she has seen many horrors, but Peeta, though kind to her, was more of the Games's invention - they were star crossed lovers because that's what kept them alive. I never really bought the relationship, and I felt - always - that Gale was closer to her. 

In the latter part of Mockingjay, Katniss still seems very confused, and it's not something I was comfortable with. Maybe it is how the author saw the character growing, but I felt it was a step back. I wanted Katniss not necessarily to be the symbol of the rebellion...after all, anyone could be the Mockingjay, really - it was more that I wanted her to have a happy ending, and I am not sure Suzanne Collins gave us that.

Many of you will have read the series, but on speaking to many people I know, not so many have, so I'll leave the spoilers out.

Ultimately Mockingjay is a case of some missed chances. There's dramatic points parachuted in needlessly, whereas in the first two books, the drama was truly engrossing. These points were introduced in order to make the reader feel some emotion, but I felt a huge disconnect here.

There is one genuine shock I did not see coming, and for those who will just watch the movie, it will be a real high point of the series. 

Catching Fire - the movie, was almost certainly better than the first film. Somehow, I don't think Mockingjay will pull it off. But it will be an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

My rating holds for now.