Sunday, March 23, 2014

Darkin: A Journey East (The Darkin Saga #1) by Joseph A. Turkot

 Darkin: A Journey East (The Darkin Saga #1) by Joseph A. Turkot

Synopsis: The greatest dark wizard, long thought dead, has risen anew; in his wake marches the vast army of the Feral Brood. None could have foreseen the total evil set to descend upon Darkin.

A long age of peace has left the land devoid of heroes. Slavery has taken hold of the world’s commerce. All hope rests in the rebellious spirit of one slave.

Alien bloodlust besieges Adacon late one night—an impulse drives him to murder his guards and set out to find and kill his oppressers. Escaping into wilds unknown, he realizes the great peril awaiting him.

A strange hermit appears from under a sand dune, claiming to know “magic.” He believes that if they work together, they can build a band of warriors powerful enough to change the fate of the world. Can they find any still harboring valor and chivalry in their hearts?—or will their quest be for nought, ending in the ruin of the world?

Review: There were a number of things I didn’t enjoy about this book.

The biggest problem was probably the characters, they didn’t really have much personality to them and they didn’t really interest me.
Adacon, is supposed to be an escaped slave, had no evidence that he was. What there was of his personality didn’t match his status of being an ex-slave, he was confidant, no fears, no worries about being captured, intelligent and educated. He was also far too skilled as well, both him and his fellow ex-slave have excellent fighting skills and are able to overpower trained men despite not having practiced themselves. They have other ‘natural’ skills they shouldn’t, such as being able to ride horses skillfully.

The love story didn’t see natural either, two characters fell pretty much instantly in love and would do anything for each other. The family had no problems with the relationship. It just all seemed too easy and unrewarding.

The characters were on the whole overpowered. Most of the situations had no tension since the characters always seemed strong enough to take on even overwhelming odds.

Too often the characters would say or do something they (and the author) would think was funny or clever, but it just wasn’t.

The characters speak in a very unnatural way, almost archaic, but not really, more like a kid’s tv show from the 80’s.

One of the characters is a gnome who enjoys alcohol. The other characters are always very critical of his drinking (despite the fact the gnome had just found out his son had died), and the author is as well in the way he describes the gnome and what he does, compared to the other characters. Rather than coming across as a moral against abusing alcohol, it seemed to be preachy and it annoyed me how badly everyone was treating him.

There was a massive overuse of magic, every time the characters got into a difficult situation, the author would bring them close to defeat, then someone would use magic and save everyone. While magic is part of a fantasy novel, it shouldn’t be abused in this way, even books where the main characters are wizards (such as the Harry Potter series.) the characters use methods other than magic to save themselves.

The story was very clichéd and unoriginal, most of the plot has been seen many times before.

The descriptions were okay, but nothing special. It was generally easy to follow the action and to understand what something looked like, but it was lacking the attention to detail that most fantasy novels include.

There were large chucks of world building information and occasionally it became difficult to remember it all.

Overall this book was okay, but had many flaws. I didn’t feel connection with the characters, the death of almost any book, and I wasn’t convinced the main POV character personality suited his background. It was clichéd, and when it tried to be funny or clever it generally failed. The massive overuse of magic and overpowered characters hit another nail in the coffin by taking away any tension there might have been, and making any dangerous situation pointless and the resolution dull.

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

Rating **


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: ***** + ♥

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Aquaman, Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (Aquaman Vol. VII #3) by Geoff Johns, Paul Pelletier (Illustrations), Ivan Reis (Illustrations)

 Aquaman, Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (Aquaman Vol. VII #3) by Geoff Johns, Paul Pelletier (Illustrations), Ivan Reis (Illustrations)

Synopsis: Aquaman, who long ago lost contact with his people, must watch as armies emerge from the sea to attack the surface world. The Justice League answers the call to defend the shores from the invading Atlantean horde. But whose side is Aquaman on? With his brother Orm at the head of the undersea army, will Aquaman stand with his Earth-bound superteam? Or his own people? Find out in this exciting hardcover collecting AQUAMAN #0 and 14-16 and JUSTICE LEAGUE #15-17

This was the first comic book/sequential art book that I have read.

I thought the story was good. Even though it was vol. 3 in this series I never felt lost in the story without having read the rest of them.

The artwork was mixed in my opinion, some of it was really good other parts were pretty bad.

In this case Raj was wrong, Aquaman does not suck.

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

 Rating ****

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sway of the Moon (The Sacred Oath Chronicles #1) by Nan Cederman

 Sway of the Moon (The Sacred Oath Chronicles #1) by Nan Cederman

Synopsis: "Tonight, a war between
the light and the darkness
has returned. Two warriors
clashed in the battle, which
has continued throughout the
ages. The dark one lies at
our feet, righteousness has
declared a victory" ~ Sahgi

In the year 9898HE (103BCE), tragic events compel a mystic civilization to isolate itself from outsiders. Isolation provides the serenity and freedom for the kin-people to expand innate abilities to an unearthly level. Isolation provides their dark, twisted heritage to fracture the three kindred bloodlines of the blended nation. Once again, the ancestral battle for supremacy reignites.
In the year 12020HE (2020CE), anthropologist Caeth Salkar begins to research her legacy.
Amazed by the detailed ancestral
chronicles, she decides to document their epic struggle to overcome the thirst of the dark ones.
Her research reveals 5 chosen Mystics. Each one swears a Sacred Oath to battle the dark, heinous power, which becomes stronger with each confrontation.

Review: My first big problem was with the characters. Apart from a few 'evil' characters who have fairly minor roles in the story, the entire cast of characters was way too nice. They are always saying nice things too each other, doing kind acts, having nice thoughts. It just made them all seem unrealistic and bland. Very occasionally one of the characters would get angry about something and say something unkind, but upon seeing the person upset they would immediately feel bad and apologize, and the upset person would normally also say sorry for overreacting, this is followed by more overly kind words to each other.

One of the worst example of this was when one of the characters sends his wife away after an attack. She didn't want to go, but he became angry and ordered her to leave. She is so traumatized by thinking about his words while she is traveling back, she goes into premature labor. She prays to the goddess of childbirth, who first saves the wife and child by stopping the labor, then attacks the husband (sort of). He realizes why he is being attacked and rushes to his wife, who by this time is at their home. They are both very sorry and ask forgiveness, then... they have sex! Seriously his wife just almost went into labor because she was upset with him so they solve it by having sex! What was he going to do poke the baby back in?

The evil characters were just as over the top as the good ones. The first one we meet was insane, pure evil, full of anger and acted irrationally. He had no redeeming qualities or reasons to justify what he was doing. All he needed was a mustache to twiddle and he would be a stereotypical old movie bad guy.

The second group of villains actually started with more promise, they had more diverse personalities and were interesting to read about. But after a while they begin to change, and were similar to the overly kind characters. They would be sweet, say nice things to each other, and their only real evilness was their intent to battle against the main group of characters. The change they went through was too quick and unbelievable, for example the leader of the group went from ripping out throats of those who challenged him in the slightest way, and abusing women, to wanting to do the right thing, showing kindness to his rivals and wishing to meet the approval of his 'beloved' in just a couple of chapters.

From the premise, I was excited to read about Caeth Salkar, a person from the future researching about the other characters and their history. This was an excellent idea and showed much promise. Unfortunately it was badly executed, they never had any real voice, we never learnt anything about them or their views on what they were researching. Most of the time they were just there to provide a narrative voice, explaining concepts or what happened over a period of time between chapters. In the end they became pointless and their role could have been written just as regular description.

The speech was too elegant for too much of the book, characters would often say things like "my soul dwells in darkness when you are not around." If someone said phrases like this occasionally it would be okay, but when it is used in most conversations it just becomes unbelievable, dull and loses it's value, because everyone says things like this all the time.

As well as the speech, the general writing was too long winded, had many repeating points and recaps on events that had just happened. The pacing, especially at the start was painfully slow.

Other than a couple of things, their wasn't any long term plot. A problem would arise, it would be dealt with by the characters, then once it had been fully resolved a new problem would occur. It was unbelievable and gave me less motive to want to keep reading since there was never really an issue up there for long enough for me to I want to keep reading to see how it would be resolved. Characters also tend to be able to solve problems too easily.

The point-of-view would also shift from one paragraph to the next with no clear indication of it doing so, which was sometimes confusing or at least disorientating.

The text in this book was left aligned, instead of the standard justify alignment. I found it to be a little distracting at times.

The story itself was fairly good, especially towards the end of the book. And the concept of having a character researching the history was a great one. The writing was too elegant and rich for long periods, it would have been better to have used a more natural way of speaking and describing for most of the book and only use the elegant style at certain, important points to make a more dramatic statement. It is certainly easier for an author to tone down their work at times, than to elevate it when they do not have this sophisticated writing style.
The characters need work, just because a person is on the good side, it doesn't mean they have to be completely nice all of the time.

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

Rating **


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sourcethief (Twinborn Trilogy #3) by J.S. Morin

 Sourcethief (Twinborn Trilogy #3) by J.S. Morin

Synopsis: War ravages Veydrus. Driven back by the magical might of the Kadrin Empire, the Megrenn Alliance is in a shambles.

The war spills into Tellurak. and Twinborn plots spanning the two worlds threaten the course of the war from all sides, including within the empire itself.

Desperate to find a way to counter the unstoppable power of an army led by a demon warlock, Jinzan Fehr seeks an ancient source of power.

Thus begins the Fourth Necromancer War ...

Review: The originality of the concept for this series, having characters live lives in two very different worlds, was what first struck me that this was going to be something very special. The author continues to impress me, not only did he go on with this idea but has developed it as well. The importance of passing information between worlds, having alliances that work on both sides and many other important ideas are all developed in this book.

The descriptions are again of the perfect length, there is enough detail to fully visualize the world, but they are not so lengthy that they take to you away from the story for too long.

The reminders of what has happened in the previous two books was almost always the right length, enough there to remind the reader of an event but not so long that you feel you are rereading the story again. The nature of Iridan’s death was about the only thing that I felt wasn’t detailed enough early on, although later in the story I was given enough to remember how it happened.

The characters are again enjoyable and their personalities continue to develop. I really liked how Brannis and Kyrus have blended together, both becoming stronger as a result. It was interesting to read about Kyrus’s doubts about whether he is doing the right thing and fear he will turn into another Rashan. The thoughts and feelings of all the characters are believable, interesting to read about, and come across clearly.

While it is now clear exactly who is good and who is evil, there is always enough good in evil characters, and evil in good characters to keep them realistic and more interesting. The evil characters often also see themselves as doing the right thing.

The relationships between the characters across both worlds are done well, along with the many plot points that are both in their own world and across both. For the most I was able to follow who was who, and what was going on, only a couple of times did I feel a little lost. Considering just how much is going on and how complex it all is, this was quite a feat.

We get to see even more of the world in this book, and like the characters it is varied and has real depth to it. It is really well done especially considering there are two worlds in this book.

The story is excellent, there are many plot points all being developed through the book, almost all of them are interesting and continue the overall story in some way.

The action sequences for the first three quarters of the book were rare. There was interesting things going on with the story, but I did think it could do with some more excitement at times. Also most of the early action scenes are very one sided and it was pretty obvious who was going to win (Rashan battling against unknown soldiers, Brannis and his friends fighting off some street thugs, and Jinzan with his staff attacking civilians and local militia). Since all of these main characters were so much more powerful than those they were fighting against, it took away from the tension and you never felt they were in any real danger. The battle scenes for the remainder of the book are fantastic, Avalanche really gets to live up to its name, and when the main characters finally get to face each other, the scenes are exciting, varied and you are never sure who is going to win.

Just like the previous two books this is a big one. It has a fairly small print and large page sizes so it is even longer than the 381 pages would suggest. It’s not a problem since so much happens and it is almost all interesting.

The author did an excellent job of tying up the loose ends, but left a few just loose enough that there could be more books in the series, but if there aren’t then you aren’t left feeling something has been missed out.

I have really enjoyed this series and it is easily my favorite read of 2013. It is one of those books where I found myself really hoping that the book and author will be successful in a big way. The story is so fantastic that the author truly deserves to have it be successful, the originality, story, characters, and quality of writing is so much superior to major fantasy novels out there I really want to see this series do well.

If I had to decide I would probably pick book two Aethersmith as my favorite in the series. Almost everything about this book was great, the story, the characters, the worlds, the descriptions, and the many plot points, it was just lacking a little action and fast pacing compared to the Aethersmith.

I am excited about the authors next project “The Mad Tinker Chronicles” which will pair up Tellurak with a completely new world, which seems to be more steampunky, in a new Twinborn series. I had been thinking for some time how cool it would be to have other worlds for the Twinborns to live in and I am glad to see this will be happening. And if it anywhere near as good as this series it is likely to be my favorite read in 2014.

A big thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book.

In full disclosure I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ***** + ♥