As a big humorous fantasy/sci-fi fan I had to give this one a go. I think I may not have been in the mood for this book to begin with. I felt that CarAs a big humorous fantasy/sci-fi fan I had to give this one a go. I think I may not have been in the mood for this book to begin with. I felt that Carrie was the most annoying, thoughtless, irritating woman and I wanted to give her a sharp rap over the head and tell her to belt up. Then something happened to the cupboard under her sink and suddenly, things began to look up, and Carrie got interesting enough for me to forgive her.
This is a pretty straightforward book, in many ways. Less half tones and subtlety than blocks of primary colours. However, in this case it isn’t a bad thing. Carrie is really quite dim to start with, but she has a good heart and you can’t help rooting for her eventually once the author’s imagination kicks in. Because what really lifts this book is the wonderful originality of thought in it. The oootoon were inspired, I liked Gavin, I particularly liked that Gavin was called Gavin, and the placktoids are a stroke of genius. This book is a piece of light fluff, total whimsy but it’s none the worse for that. You’re looking at a reviewer, here, who has written a book about lobster-shaped aliens who are covered in marmite (vegemite if you’re Australian) scented goo. Let’s just say there were aspects of this book, and I, which were pretty much made for one another.
It was a quick read, the action clipped along at a good pace and once it got going I really enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot and zipped through it in an afternoon. I also got to like Carrie by the end.
OK, so this is a book of it’s type, and in this case, it’s madcap space comedy. It’s not deep. It’s not designed to be deep, because what it is, and what it’s designed to be, is FUN. That said there is a pretty solid and commendable message about not judging by appearances, listening to both sides, thinking and evaluating before jumping to conclusions.
For me, the greatest test of a book is whether or not you think about it after you’ve read it and if you do, how long for. I found that I was chuckling about some of the creatures and ideas in this book for some time. In fact I still am, as I write because the more I think about them the more delightfully off the wall they seem. So although to start with, I was thinking, hmm… not sure, as time goes by, I am looking back on the reading experience more and more fondly.
So did I like it? Yeh. Another four stars. I will definitely be buying other books in this series. It’s not deep, but it is what it is, and I enjoyed it. Recommended....more
First impressions, this kind of reminded me of Barbara Pym in that there’s a wry wit that crops up in the observation from time to time which is reminFirst impressions, this kind of reminded me of Barbara Pym in that there’s a wry wit that crops up in the observation from time to time which is reminiscent of hers. The pace is gentle and this book is series of short stories so you can dip in and finish an instalment. For the most part I really liked the characters, and I enjoyed that some were rather trying, just as people in a real life village are. There was a great atmosphere of gossip created and I enjoyed the whole, does he or doesn’t he? thing surrounding a couple of characters and their reported misdemeanours. There’s a fair bit of comic mileage in the total madman in charge of the paper who, basically, just says ‘hello’ to you and then makes up some spurious interview.
However, these stories are much more than a light read. The characters have empathy and depth and you do start to care about them quite quickly, even the ones that are, frankly, a bit grim. There was a point where I almost felt sympathy for the village busybody and found myself hoping that she might find love, or something. We find out how and why she was transformed from a shy bookish girl to nightmare harridan. After I discovered her past I found her just as odious but at the same time, with understanding, came an ability to give her a little slack! And this depth and reality to the characters, and the way we find out little tit bits here and there as the stories proceed, just as we would if we actually lived there and were genuinely getting to know these people, was an excellent touch and really cleverly done. There is an intelligence and subtlety to it that I really liked.
As someone who grew up in a small village and sang in the church choir (for my sins) I did find it slightly unseating, at first, that the priest is Roman Catholic – it’s definitely more Father Ted than Rev in that respect. But if you, too, find that strange, it’s worth persevering because you soon get used to that.
So, all in all, I recommend this. It’s a lovely bit of light, gentle humour except that, like life, it works on many subtle levels and there’s a lot more to it than that.
I loved this, it was everything that is good about comedy sci-fi/fantasy, a secret path to a hidden land in another dimension, a pub, ridiculous namesI loved this, it was everything that is good about comedy sci-fi/fantasy, a secret path to a hidden land in another dimension, a pub, ridiculous names for drinks, the kind of mad comic scientific theories that you find in a Douglas Adams book - they're probably as well researched too. There is also a kind of loopy Ffordian whimsy running through it and echoes of Pratchett in some of the characters, too. Finally, there's a whodunnit angle which was fun.
Parts are laugh out loud funny, for me, anyway, in places.
I was recommended this book on the forums on Amazon, if I remember rightly. I downloaded it but didn't read it for a long time because ... well ... yoI was recommended this book on the forums on Amazon, if I remember rightly. I downloaded it but didn't read it for a long time because ... well ... you know, it's dystopian and dystopia usually equals a thoroughly depressing read. But this book is different. I like that it's up beat. Life is hard but civilisation hasn't completely imploded, it's a future that looks like our past, which is realistic and convincing. The characters are well rounded and more importantly, likeable (well except for the baddies) which appealed to me at once.
I really enjoyed this book, it's great storytelling; vivid and compelling, and the pace is excellent and the plot unpredictable and cleverly conceived. It was difficult to put it down once I'd started reading. I also loved that it was set in Britain, a really refreshing change. As the plot thickened I found myself really and I mean REALLY wishing the next instalment was out - it wasn't at the time I read this. And I bought the sequels pretty much on launch.
In a nutshell, this is a ripping good yarn, a fine piece of story telling and an all round grand book. Even better, it's free! Highly recommended. Seriously, download it, you won't be disappointed, and the sequels get better and better....more
I'm guessing this is a psychological thriller but to me it defies categorisation. It's just a really, and I mean REALLY good story.
I have read all DavI'm guessing this is a psychological thriller but to me it defies categorisation. It's just a really, and I mean REALLY good story.
I have read all David Staniforth's fantasy books and loved them, however, I wasn't as keen on his other thriller. As a result, I started this one with a certain amount of trepidation but this one is definitely more up my street. When I hear the description 'thriller' I kind of assume it's going to be the sort of book that isn't me. In this particular case though, it's not true. It's not plastic macho blokes with guns shooting at one another - and yes, I love Bond, and I read thrillers but some of them can be a bit far fetched, or all action and not much else.
This book does have some bits of action but what it's really about is one man setting out to find out who he is and succeeding. Because the characterisation in Void is fantastic, I found I was very quickly drawn into all the characters' lives and felt emotionally invested in the outcome. The chatty informal style of the main character makes gives the book the ambience of like listening to a friend telling you a story. But telling it really, really well. I wanted things to work out for him, I thought about the characters after I'd finished. Always a good sign. The way the book unfolds made it feel almost real. Suffice it to say this is the most genuine, uplifting, cracker of a story - not sure if that's grammatically correct but I'm sure you get my drift - and well told. One of the best books I've read in a good long time.
A definite 5 stars. Thoroughly recommended....more
I am not sure where I picked up this book, possibly from a conversation on facebook or a tweet but as someone born and bred in Sussex, not so far fromI am not sure where I picked up this book, possibly from a conversation on facebook or a tweet but as someone born and bred in Sussex, not so far from Singleton, where the main character of the book hails from, I had to give it a go. I am very glad I did. The minute I started reading I was hooked. Written in the present tense, we follow Leo an army chaplain in the first world war as he finds out who he really is and what the real cause was behind a rift with a friend which has left him bruised and hurt.
It's beautifully written and the fact we follow one person gives it an extra intensity that I really appreciated. It's uplifting, but not schmaltzy and there are some wonderful awkward conversations which are so true and touching that I actually shed a tear at one point. Leo is a lovely chap and many was the time I wished he was real so I could find him and give him a hug.
This is a wonderful, uplifting, sensitive bit of writing; touching, heartfelt, fulfilling. I was completely caught up in the story and I didn't want it to end.
I have crossed paths with A.F.E. Smith on social media, to the point where I was interviewed at the FacWhere to start. Ah yes, first up, a disclaimer:
I have crossed paths with A.F.E. Smith on social media, to the point where I was interviewed at the Facebook launch party. I'd read her stuff on a critique site called Authonomy years ago so I knew it was likely to be good. I also knew that Harper Collins selected it for publication from over 10,000 manuscripts they received when they opened their lists to unsolicited submissions for a couple of months a few years ago. For all that, I wasn't sure what it was going to be like.
As it turns out, I really enjoyed this book. It had just the right amount of depth, action and romance for me.
As a whodunnit, I have to confess, I'd got the murderer pegged pretty much straight away but that isn't really the point, there's a lot more going on. We have a touching romance, a really sinister and nasty baddie and some extra twists to add an extra dimension. It starts off at a brisk pace and keeps you reading and turning pages when you really ought to be turning the light out and going to sleep.
The characters were real and vivid, I really liked Ayla and Thomas Cardew but I also had a soft spot for Myrren and Naeve Sorrow, the assassin with depth. OK I liked them all, except for the ones I was supposed to dislike who I found myself loathing accordingly.
The setting is interesting, you have a bit of a steam punk vibe going on with airships, although I never really had it as that Victorian like in my head, maybe because of the names of the sword moves - they were very oriental and with the concentric circles of the city I was imagining a kind of House of the Flying Daggers type vibe. That said, I'm sure I've seen stuff about cities that were zoned the same way as Darkhaven in South American ruins, so there were a nice feel of geographical mashing up going on. There's enough detail to give you a vivid mental picture and get you interested without it getting in the way.
It also had a very satisfactory ending which, at the same time, left plenty of scope for a sequel.
A fine debut: Recommended. Indeed, if I hadn't taken part in the launch party, I'd give it 5, but since I have, it has to be 4 because if I give it 5 nobody will believe me.
A few months back, Rick Trivett applied to join the Gumbee Fantasy Writers' Guild and as one of the people who reads the books of potential applicantsA few months back, Rick Trivett applied to join the Gumbee Fantasy Writers' Guild and as one of the people who reads the books of potential applicants, it fell to me to read Tails of Lyonesse.
What can I say? I loved this book. The story unfolds at a stately, pace which is entirely in keeping with, and suited to, the bucolic idyll of Lyonesse. It also gives you time to appreciate the humour. I enjoyed it immensely. There are some genius pieces of imaginative reckoning in here, some very clever ideas and some cracking characterisation.
In terms of what it's like, think a hybrid of Douglas Adams and Robert Rankin. It all ends very satisfactorily - no cliff hangers here - but with plenty of scope for another instalment which is coming soon I hope.
R J Trivett has definitely earned his Guild membership with this one: Recommended....more
Myrddin's Heir, Book 1 A Wizard of Dreams by Robin Chambers
To really enjoy the book, it's important to understand that it is the beginning of a long seMyrddin's Heir, Book 1 A Wizard of Dreams by Robin Chambers
To really enjoy the book, it's important to understand that it is the beginning of a long series. That puts the style and action in perspective. I forget how long the series is going to be but it's long enough to reach double figures of books and for the author to express concerns about living to finish it! I hope he does because once you get into the way the story is told it's fun. Gordon and Zac, his 'invisible' friend - or at least, invisible to everyone but Gordon friend - are winning characters and I enjoyed spending time in their company. Indeed, when I had to put the book aside for a while, I missed them and wondered what they are getting up to. That, for me, is a good sign.
The book is laid out more like a text book than a novel - it didn't surprise me to discover Mr Chambers was an ex teacher. The chapters are short and easy to digest with a glossary of words at the end of each one. What I didn't realise was that this glossary links to a wealth of explanatory end matter - 20% of the book, no less, which kind of threw me when I got to the end of the story and discovered that the next 20% was... well.. not the story. That was odd and a bit of a surprise but not unduly bothersome.
This book is best read this with an open mind. Trying to construct, second guess or reason why won't get you anywhere. Just let it carry you along. To be honest it felt like two books, a first instalment up to the point where Gordon and his mum spot a holiday cottage they'd like to go and stay in and a second story of the adventure they have while there. Big plus though, that didn't bother me either. The writing is easy to read and because Gordon and his imaginary friend, Zac, are likeable and I was soon drawn in.
There are some lovely ideas in the book; the idea of someone existing in different times and places and even being different people all at once is a really interesting one and I look forward to seeing this expanded upon in future books. I love that it's a take on Arthurian Legend, but so different to the usual.
Two things worried me slightly - first, I'm pretty sure there's a Beano character called Gordon Bennett, which had me a little nervous, on the author's behalf, of a writ from D C Comics. Second, there was a slight tendency to give accents to the bad or flawed characters: gossiping old eighteenth century ladies wanting to burn someone as a witch and a young bully in Gordon's school. The main characters - for ease of reading, I suspect, have no accents. However, the result is an unwitting generalism that a well-spoken middle class boy like Gordon, who drops no aitches = good, while the lad with the strong local accent who beats up his fellows = bad. In a children's book like this, I could imagine that might cause a few raised eyebrows among British readers. That said, it might just be me as I have to fess up to a certain amount of personal baggage about class (an imaginary concept which should be put into Room 101 and left there to rot).
So to sum up: once you're used to the style then, if you're anything like me, you'll enjoy this book. Minor quibbles aside, I'd definitely recommend it. There is promise of all sorts of adventures for Gordon as the series unfolds and I'll definitely be following them closely. I hardly ever give a book five stars these days but I think I have to give this one a five. I enjoyed it, I was caught up in it, I thought about the characters when I wasn't reading and it's very well written.
I kind of guessed what was going to happen in this but that didn't stop me from enjoying it immensely. It's not the kind of thing I usually read but iI kind of guessed what was going to happen in this but that didn't stop me from enjoying it immensely. It's not the kind of thing I usually read but it's a nice thought provoking piece and I felt it ended well, too. It's short and sweet and it'll take you away somewhere else for a while. An easy four stars, teetering on the brink of five. Recommended....more