Sunday, February 23, 2014

Light in the Gloaming by J.B. Simmons

 Light in the Gloaming by J.B. Simmons

Synopsis: “The Gloaming was worse than the grave…”

Or so Tryst believed when he banished the former prince to this secret and brutal exile. Now Tryst sits on the throne of Valemidas. He feasts with nobles and prepares an army to conquer the world.

But things are never as stable as they seem. Old loyalties remain. Tryst’s half-sister wants vengeance for the disappeared prince she loved. What happens if a man survives a place worse than the grave?

Alliances will crumble, battles will rage, and souls will transform in the Gloaming.



The characters were outstanding, they had interesting and diverse personalities. The good characters had flaws. There were also some characters who appeared to be aiding the main character, but with the way the author conveys the heroes thoughts we have doubts along with him whether they are truly helping him or if they will betray him in the end. The author did an excellent job of bringing across believable thoughts and feelings from all of the characters.

It was interesting to see chapters from the point of view of the hero, Andor and his rival Tryst from first person perspective and chapters from the point of view of other characters written in third person perspective. It was an good technique and it certainly made me feel it was a story about these two main characters.

The story was excellent. It was different from your average hero having to overthrow the villain story. Since the hero had to be more subtle about it and was attempting to do it without killing his rival.

The action was fairly light and the fighting scenes tended to be short. That’s not to say there isn’t anything happening or that it is short on excitement. There is plenty of that; it just takes a different form, such as the main characters planning on how they will overthrow Tryst. Probably the biggest disappointment with the action was how the tension could build up, or something appears to being set up for an action filled sequence only to turn out to be fairly small. SPOILER The showdown between Andor and Tryst as well as the big battle were both disappointing given all of the build up to them. [END OF SPOILER]

The descriptions are very well written, every part of the world is more brilliant in the way the author describes it.

The Gloaming was a very interesting place, but sadly only fills up a small section of the book, a couple of chapters at the start and at the end, which was odd giving the title and the synopsis. The memories of the place do effect Andor during the story, but I really would liked to have seen more of it, either by having the prince spend more time there or by having more detailed flashbacks to the place.

Overall I would rate this book four and a half out of five. The lack of action, and results not matching up to the build up were my main reasons for not giving this book the full five out of five. But it is strong enough for me to be on the look out for the next book in the series.

In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. 

**** 1/2

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

 The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

Synopsis: In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet . . . That’s the old story everyone knows and loves. But now the Carpet is home to many different tribes and peoples, and there’s a new story in the making. The story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction across the Carpet. The story of power-hungry mouls—and of two brothers who set out on an adventure to end all adventures when their village is flattened.

It’s a story that will come to a terrible end—if someone doesn't do something about it. If everyone doesn’t do something about it . . .

First published in 1971, this hilarious and wise novel marked the debut of the phenomenal Sir Terry Pratchett. Years later, Sir Terry revised the work, and this special collectable edition includes the updated text, his original color and black-and-white illustrations, and an exclusive story—a forerunner to The Carpet People created by the seventeen-year-old nascent writer who would become one of the world's most beloved storytellers.

I really enjoyed this book. It was originally written and published when Terry Pratchett was just seventeen, and the reworked when he was forty-seven.

His humor and writing style are strong even though he first wrote it at an early age. The characters are great and observations into realistic human characteristics are what you would expect from him, perhaps not as strong as his later works, but still very good.

I really liked the fact he would describe everything from the Carpet peoples point of view and not from a human view. It really kept me in the story because of it. For example when they find an old penny he describes it as they view it (massive copper are with deep ridges etc.) rather than tell us the reader it is a coin or penny.

There are many good ideas here, beyond the obvious things a race of tiny people would encounter. Such as one group who remember everything, including things that haven’t happened yet.

The story itself is good, as it is aimed at a younger audience it is a little simpler than most of his discworld series. It’s not bad, just more linear.

I really enjoyed this book, it has much of what you would expect from him, although as it is an early work it isn’t as strong. And perhaps that is why it falls a little short of greatness, since he set the bar so high with his more familiar stories. If you enjoy his other books then you will probably like this one too. It did make me feel guilty and made me worry I was harming Carpet people when I was vacuuming though.

Rating: **** 1/2

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Midnight City (Conquered Earth #1) by J. Barton Mitchell

 Midnight City (Conquered Earth #1) by J. Barton Mitchell

Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by alien invaders, two teens and a young girl with mysterious powers embark on a dangerous journey. What they find will change everything...

Earth has been conquered. An extraterrestrial race known as The Assembly has abducted the adult population, leaving the planet’s youth to fend for themselves. In this treacherous landscape, Holt, a bounty hunter, is transporting his prisoner Mira when they discover Zoey, a young girl with powerful abilities who could be the key to stopping The Assembly. As they make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, the trio must contend with freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and perhaps most perilous of all: Holt and Mira’s growing attraction to each other.

Midnight City is the breathtaking first novel in the Conquered Earth series, and a stunning work of imagination from debut author J. Barton Mitchell.

 Review: The best book I’ve read in 2014 so far… okay so it’s only January and it’s the forth book I’ve read, but I’m pretty sure it will still be one of my favorite reads by the end of the year.

While I do enjoy reading dystopian and science fiction books, I tend to prefer fantasy. The fact I rated this book so highly, despite the fact it’s not my favorite genre, shows just how much I enjoyed it.

The story itself is excellent. I really enjoyed reading what was happening to the characters and the world around them.

The characters were fantastic and rarely have I seen such evenly balanced male and female in the lead roles. Their abilities are closely matched, their personalities are just as strong, neither of them outshines the other in terms of story or quality of writing, and neither of them dominated the relationship.

Speaking of their relationship I thought it was really well done, they initially dislike each other and very slowly they begin to fall in love, with very believable feelings such as denial (to themselves) of their attraction and later accepting the other is attractive but convincing themselves they are not interested in pursuing a relationship. The long journey they go through makes it more interesting. I don’t normally like much romance in reading, but I did enjoy this one, partly because of the reasons I have already listed, but also because the romance didn’t dominate the story.

The characters are developed through the story in more ways than just on a romantic level. But it is done slowly and in a believable way.

The thoughts and feelings of the characters was also written very well.

The world building is done exceptionally well. There is plenty introduced to the reader to make the world interesting, but it is spread out throughout the book so I never suffered from information overload. There was always enough information and reminders, that I never felt lost or confused.

A few times I did think things were over explained, but it was pretty rare and didn’t go on for too long. I guess it’s better to have things explained a little too much than not enough.

The descriptions were of a good length, enough detail to follow what is happening and to visualize the world, but not so much that it got boring.

The pacing was perfect, while there is plenty of action and adventure, the author was never afraid to slow things down, to give the characters more personal and intimate moments, or to give us important information about their personalities or background.

I have very few criticisms of this book. The only one that bothered me was the fact that neither Holt nor Mira never really questioned Zoey about her powers, her past, or strange way of talking. Occasionally they would ask her something but were accepting when she said she didn’t know why. This seemed to go against Holt’s and Mira’s suspicious nature.

Overall I thought this was an excellent book, with a really enjoyable story, with strong male and female lead characters, a very interesting world, excellent pacing and descriptions.

Rating: ***** + ♥