Review – Golden Sword – Janet Morris

The Golden Sword – Janet Morris

5 stars

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Golden-Sword-Silistra-Quartet/dp/0996898271/ (UK link)

https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Sword-Silistra-Quartet/dp/0996898271/ (US Link)

Let me start by saying this is the SECOND book in the SIlistra Quartet – and it helps to have read the earlier book, although I think you could get by without it.

The action starts immediately, and thus some prior knowledge of the world and the main character is useful. That said The world building, like Janet Morris’s other books is superb and there is a helpful glossary at the back for the unfamiliar alien terms. When Morris creates a world she doesn’t hold back and this darkly sensual book ticks all the boxes for drama, cleverness and the ability to make the reader think. What is duty? What is love and how does it bind a person. Is sex merely pleasure or is there something far more profound in our genetic and cultural identity – and for that matter how fixed is it? Silistra is a world once ravaged by a war and environmental damage which almost destroyed everything – greed, vanity, selfishness and all the dark deeds of which an ‘intelligent’ society is capable. From these ashes rise the Wells and the alien but hauntingly possible culture of this world.

Silistra is a world where the ability to reproduce is perhaps the most important aspect – as wars and a bloody history almost destroyed the races. Thus sex, and the relationships between men and women, the way their society sees them, is important. And women ofter hold the power.  Yet it isn’t that simple (these things rarely are), for the various factions fight between themselves, try to hold the more technologically advanced races at bay, and seek to find themselves.  Love of those simply not worthy of it by the rational mind and of the call of one person’s allure to another.  The role of men and women, master or mistress and subordinate, of slave and free, of tribe and tribe, city and city, Silistrian and environment are woven about a tale of one woman’s quest to find out who she is and not necessarily liking the answer.

The secret of the Silistran longevity is threatened, and with it the Silistran way of life and all they hold dear. This is more than just Estri’s own fight for survival as allies and enemies duel, intrigue and switch allegiances.  Secrets are revealed, bargains struck and betrayed and threats loom from the stars without, the people within and the treachery of one’s own fear.

It’s not a book for those looking for a simple adventure, or a happy ever after. It’s not a love story, and it’s not a story for those who are easily offended. But it is a great story. There is sex, violence, betrayal, blood, death, loss, love, hatred, fear, power struggles and people being really quite shitty to one another, and in this I found a reflection of ourselves – our world as could be, and might well be. This is a book which makes one’s blood sing and one’s mind ponder.

I loved the first in the series and enjoyed this as much, perhaps more. The ending leaves the reader desperate to know what happens to Estri next – courtesan, slave, warrior, lover, rebel.  What is next for our heroine?

Review – The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett

Review The Shepherd’s Crown

5 Stars

Not perfect but extraordinary.

The last book in the Discworld Fantasy series was always going to be a book which made the reader emotional. Sir Terry Pratchett was, perhaps, one of the greatest British Fantasy writers and his books are funny, intelligent, witty, evocative and adventurous. The Discworld series has brought me many happy hours, and I am sure will continue to do so. I can happily read them over and over and always find something new, always chuckle at the rapier wit and always loose myself in the pages.

The first Pratchett book I read was Reaper Man, lent to me by my boyfriend for a long train journey. I was laughing so much I had tears streaming down my face. I am sure everyone on the train thought I was mad. I think the Discworld got me into fantasy big time.

Since then I have enjoyed every book in the series, watched the screenplays, animated plays, directed an amateur production of Maskerade, and even collected the diaries (even the clown one and I hate clowns). Discworld was a big part of my reading life. I was terribly sad to learn of Mr Pratchett’s death far too young from such a terrible illness. That said he has left a great legacy, and maybe his public fight against the disease which took his life but not his creativity, or his spirit, may bring the disease and its research to the fore.

The Shepherd’s Crown is a book of endings, of uncertainty and then determined inevitability towards the future. Many of the other reviews of this book speak of an air of frustration, the sense of things being left unfinished and I agree. All of those are there, and yet there is also the sharpness, the wit and the sense of adventure one would expect from a Pratchett book.  Characters die – and the Discworld is left rather emptier without them. Just as the literary world is left rather emptier with the death of Terry Pratchett. I must confess I had a bit of a cry over this one.

So enough of the eulogy, what about the book? Firstly it isn’t perfect. It isn’t QUITE as polished as some, but it doesn’t matter. After all very few authors can write quite so many books, and certainly not pen a book in the last few months of a terminal illness. The book is still complete enough to be enjoyable and it’s a fitting final book. A path travelled with familiarity and fondness but still a few rough patches is still a worthy path to take.

The story picks up after Wintersmith and the banishing of the elves – the elder witches return, and sacrifice is there. The fight is not without cost. It is more for the younger audience but death, duty, life and love are all covered. The Witches again do battle and the MacFeegles are, as always, mischievous and crafty in a very lovable way.  Tiffany is character with many qualities, and they are all tested. Granny Weatherwax’s conversation with Death is poignant one can’t help thinking of the Reaper Man waiting at the door, and bowing his head to the author as well as the greatest witch.

It’s not Pratchett’s greatest work, but despite the rather rushed ending, the not quite perfect character of Geoffrey and his intriguing goat who isn’t explained, it’s still a Discworld novel. It’s still a damn good read, a bit darker, a bit starker, a bit less full of life and a whole lot sadder, but yes it’s still a great read. I think the circumstances of the book’s very being give an air of the extraordinary.

Mind how you go, Sir Terry. You’ll be missed.

Review Notorious Murders of the Twentieth Century: Famous and Forgotten British Cases (True Crime)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20888909-notorious-murders-of-the-twentieth-century

Although some of the cases were interesting enough overall the book was a little slow and sensationalised.
The discussion about the forensics and the unsolved cases were well presented. The lesser known cases were the most fascinating, as the famous cases are easy to find elsewhere.

There were a lot of typos and formatting issues – several per chapter and this got quite annoying. Whether that was to do with kindle conversion I have no idea but it did detract from the reading experience.

3 stars

*** I’ve just checked on Amazon and apparently the book has been pulled for significant quality errors. Let’s hope the book is republished sans typos.

Review – Being Max’s Mom – Rebecca Miller

Being Max’s Mom – Rebecca Miller

5 stars!

#Biography, #autism #specialchild

This is not usually the sort of book I’d read, but it was recommended by a friend. I’m so glad I picked it up. I read the whole thing in a few hours – I seem to recall looking at the clock and it was 2 am when I finished.

Max Miller is a young man whose life has been filled with challenges, even from before he came into the world.  In a world largely against Max and his courageous and determined mother, Rebecca, knew there was a fight to be fought, and my god was it fought.

Max is autistic – branded ‘unteachable and unreachable’ his mother was advised to send him to an institution. Instead her love, a hell of a lot of support, work and sacrifice have resulted in a boy who is not only ‘a good egg’ but a writer, and advocate for autism and the organiser of an arts project. Not bad for a child written off by doctors, family, and society. Ms Miller herself continues to study, to work and to fight and her intelligence and her love show through on every page.

Ms Miller’s language is easy to follow – in many ways this book is a diary of their lives – and the reader can truly relate to a mother fighting to get her son educated and accepted. Never does she say ‘why us?’ but she is realistic.  There is no bitterness here, sadness perhaps, but no not bitterness.  Ms Miller has done her research and her views are apparent but never does she say I think you should do this – the book provides the experiences of a parent raising a disabled child – but is not a ‘how to’. Autism is complex, misunderstood and no two cases present the same.  This book is an insight into a world, little understood and widely shunned. Read this  it will open your eyes and your heart.

Review IX – Andrew Weston – Sci-fi/Military/Time Travel/Historical

IX by Andrew Weston

Historical/Military/science fiction/fantasy/time travel.

5 stars.

Synopsis:

Soldiers from varying eras and vastly different backgrounds, including the IX Legion of Rome, are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing, and transported to the far side of the galaxy. Thinking they have been granted a reprieve, their relief turns to horror when they discover they face a stark ultimatum: Fight or die.

Romans, Native Americans, fierce Celtic warriors, Special Ops, American Civil War fighters – not a huge amount in common one would think. Wrong. Death is what they expect – but not necessarily what they get – at least not where and when they think. From differing backgrounds they are thrown into a war and a world far removed from Earth. The Horde have decimated the galaxy and the Ardenese for decades and now all that remains is myth and the hidden remnants of a once mighty civilisation. The 9th intake is the last best hope for the salvation of Arden, if they can put aside their differences. Technology far beyond ours brought expansion, then it brought war.

Action takes the fore in this adventure which encompasses military, historical, science fiction and fantasy. The characters are varied, at once both complex and simplistic, and often surprising. Death stalks the pages, but his companions are loyalty, courage and dignity.  Well written with twists and turns, and a rather unexpected ending.

Great for fans of sci-fi, time travel fiction and historical.

Beyond Sanctuary – Heroic Fiction – Review

Beyond SanctuaryHeroic FantasyJanet Morris.

5 stars.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Sanctuary-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00GU0FPDG

When gods, immortals and mages fight among themselves mortals die, and die again. Tempus, an immortalised warrior, and his Stepsons must unite with some of the scum of Sanctuary, an ironically named city to be sure, to save a child and themselves from the machinations of a powerful wizard. Souls and more are at stake in a war which must be fought, and must be won, no matter the cost.

I was hooked by this from the first few lines, as it is a superbly written and very intelligent heroic fantasy. The characters are already established but it doesn’t matter, there is so much depth in both the world and the characters that the reader finds themselves on a ride of epic proportions. Not for the faint of heart the story does not hold back with the realities and moralities of battle, but beyond this there is a real sense of camaraderie among the Sacred Band and the Stepsons, loyalty which locks together men and horses in a dark world which leaves the reader wanting more.

Review – Journey To Altmortis – fantasy

Journey to Altmortis – Thaddeus White

4 stars

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00COAEOS8

This book was a lot of fun and very well written, with a lot of witty humour and well turned phrases. The characters were amusing, varied and the two female characters are as strong as their male companions.

The world building is interesting, although there could be more, and the different races of people worked well in contrast, I especially enjoyed the sneaky dwarven thief.

The plot was engaging, the suspense well built and the author was not afraid to let his imagination have free rein with the battle scenes. They were well-done and convincing, with a real sense of danger.

That said I felt it could have used more character and world background, as the action started almost immediately and it times it was rather confusing as to why people were behaving as they were. There is an event near the end which was a surprise as there had been no hint of it until that point and I did find that a little unconvincing. It was the second book, so it may well be the characters are introduced in more detail in the earlier book. I also found the ending a little rushed.

Overall a good, and enjoyable read, and well written.

Reviewer Interview Number Eight – Lade

Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Lade. I’m from Nigeria. I’ll be 17 in a few weeks. I love to read (obviously). I write. I’m also a makeup artiste and a training photographer.

On average how many books do you read a month? 
I’ll say around 10 – 12

What genres do you enjoy?
I read almost all genres but my favourites are YA, NA, chick lit, mystery, thrillers and humour

Where do you tend to review?
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/9178403-lade
My blog http://WeBlogAboutBooks.blogspot.com

Why do you review – for other readers, for author
feedback, for yourself?

I review because I like to share my opinions so I’ll say for myself and other readers.

Are you influenced by other reviews when choosing a book? What other factors influence your choice?
I read reviews to determine what to expect from a book. If a book has too many negative reviews, I want to read it to know why. Same for positive reviews.

Other things that influence my choice are a fun/strange/weird title and a fun/funky cover.

When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot? Which factors do you overlook? (if any)
I think well developed, relatable characters; a good, a well developed storyline and plot are very important to me. I can overlook a few typos and editing errors if the book covers these.

What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive?
I think that authors shouldn’t like or comment on reviews on their books. If they are going to leave a comment, it should be relevant to the review [i.e.Questions relating to problems pointed out by the reviewer or answers to questions raised in the review]. Not just something in the lines of: “thank you for your review”.

Goodreads have just changed their guidelines regarding mentioning an author’s behaviour in a review and there are a lot of unhappy reviewers who feel this is limiting freedom of speech. Do you think it is appropriate to speak about this in a review or are their more appropriate places for this. Does it make a difference to your own choice of buying a book if the author ‘behaves badly’?
I don’t like the new guidelines. What works for me may not work for you.
It’s important to some people to know if the author has a history of harassing people, or is racist or homophobic etc and to others, it’s not.
Just like it may be important for me to know if the clothes I buy are made by child labourers so I know not to support the brand but someone else may not care.

A lot of readers comment about a book with all 4 or 5 star reviews and nothing below as being suspicious? What do you think about this?
There’s no way a book can have all ratings as 4/5 stars. Everyone has different tastes and not everyone will like your book even if it’s a masterpiece.
So yeah, I find it suspicious

Do you give negative reviews?
It depends on how define a negative review. Is it a review bashing the book/author? Then no I don’t.
If it means rating and reviewing a book below 3 stars, then yes I do.

Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone?
When it comes to books, I read most genres.
If the blurb of a book in a genre I don’t like fascinates me, I’d go for it.

What are your opinions on paid reviews? (Not including a copy of the book for review purposes only.) I think it creates an unconscious bias towards the book.
In my opinion, any author who would do this has low confidence in the quality of the book they have published.

Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book?
I review all books the same way. I don’t even bother to check which is which until I’ve finished writing my review.

Reviewer Interview Number Seven -DelSheree Gladden

Please tell us a little about yourself. Hi! I’m DelSheree Gladden. I live in New Mexico with my husband and two children. By day, I am a dental hygienist for a non-profit company that provides dental cleanings in public schools. When I’m not working I love to read, write, and spend time with my family doing all kinds of adventurous things!

On average how many books do you read a month?  What genres do you enjoy? Normally, I review 4 books a month. I just started a new job and I haven’t had time to read as much, but I’m hoping to get back on track over the next few months.

Where do you tend to review?  I post all my reviews on my blog, The Edible Bookshelf, as well as Amazon and Goodreads. If an author requests I post a review on any other sites, I’m always happy to do that as well.

Why do you review – for other readers, for author feedback, for yourself?  As an indie author myself, I know how hard it is to get reviews and promote your books. I love helping other authors get their books out. There are so many amazing indie books out there that readers just don’t know where to find.

Are you influenced by other reviews when choosing a book? What other factors influence your choice? I don’t read other reviews of books before accepting a book for review. I go purely off the summary they provide me with because I want the review to be my honest opinion not colored by anyone else’s thoughts.

When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot?  Which factors do you overlook? (if any) Characters and plot. If I can’t get into the characters, or if the plot doesn’t make sense or has holes, it won’t get a great rating from me. Editing is important as well, but if it only has a few errors I’ll overlook them. If the editing makes the book hard to read, I’ll mention it in the review as a problem. I’m tougher on traditionally published books when it comes to editing than I am on indie books because I understand it’s hard to find good editors that are affordable when you’re an indie author.

What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive? I’m always happy to have authors comment on the review. I do my best to be fair, even if I didn’t care for the book, and they usually respect that. I’ve only had a problem once where I had to speak to the person privately and address negative behavior directed at me and my blog. The majority of the authors I’ve met have been a pleasure to work with.

Goodreads have just changed their guidelines regarding mentioning an author’s behaviour in a review and there are a lot of unhappy reviewers who feel this is limiting freedom of speech. Do you think it is appropriate to speak about this in a review or are their more appropriate places for this.  Does it make a difference to your own choice of buying a book if the author ‘behaves badly?’ I don’t think a review is the place to critique the writer personally. That needs to be dealt with in a different forum. Having said that, if I hear negative things about an author’s personal life or actions (provided they are actually true) it does affect whether or not I will buy their books.

A lot of readers comment about a book with all 4 or 5 star reviews and nothing below as being suspicious, what do you think about this? I think you have to look at the content of the reviews. If every review is gushing about how much they loved the book, but provides no real description of characters or plot, I don’t take those ratings at face value. If the reviews are well though out and tell why they liked the book, I give them much more credence. Some books really are worth 4 and 5 stars!

Do you give negative reviews? I do. If I don’t finish a book because it is poorly written of I just can’t find anything I like about it, I will contact the author and tell them I couldn’t finish the book. I don’t review these books. If I finish a book and still did not enjoy it, I will review the book as fairly as possible, pointing out both good and bad and why I did not personally connect with the book.

Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone? I review a wide variety of genres. There are a few genres I don’t review like erotica, nonfiction, middle grade, and poetry, and I don’t vary from those. Otherwise, you can find all kinds of books on my blog!

What are your opinions on paid reviews? When it comes to paid reviews, I think it’s hard for readers to believe they are honest reviews. The same could be said about a lot of review sources, though. In the end, I think readers will spot reviews that aren’t legit and not let them cloud their judgment.

Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book? I expect both indie and mainstream to be well written, have good characters readers can relate to, and a strong storyline that keeps readers’ attention. I am a little more lenient on editing with indie books, but only to a certain degree. The editing can’t get in the way of the readability. I am not concerned with how a book was published, just how good of a book it is.

Feel free to add your blog/website etc. http://www.theediblebookshelf.blogspot.com/

Reviewer Interview Number Five – Jazmen

Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Jazmen. I’m a journalism graduate. I’m in my twenties. I don’t have any children but I love my cats 🙂 I live in Georgia but I’m moving back to NYC soon, and I am very excited about that!

On average how many books do you read a month?  What genres do you enjoy? I probably read at the very least 5-10 books a month. I love pretty much all genres but my favorites are Dystopian and Contemporary.

Where do you tend to review? I usually review on Goodreads.com and my blog. I occasionally review on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Why do you review – for other readers, for author feedback, for yourself? I review for other readers and mostly for myself. I like writing in any capacity.

Are you influenced by other reviews when choosing a book? What other factors influence your choice? I am sometimes influenced by other reviews. It all depends on what exactly is the general reason reviewers didn’t like the book. If I find it justified (bad writing, character build-up, plot, world building etc.) I may sometimes pass on a book.

When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot?  Which factors do you overlook? (if any) When I’m reviewing I’m looking at the book as whole. How well was it written? How did the author do on the plot? Is it interesting? What’s missing? What was good? etc. I will occasionally overlook editing issues if it doesn’t hinder my reading. It would have to be really bad for me to point it out. I understand mistakes are made so I keep that in mind. No one is perfect.

What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive? Authors commenting on reviews doesn’t bother me. It can only harm them not me. Readers can possibly be turned off by authors who comment negatively on a review. It’s just an opinion.

A lot of readers comment about a book with all 4 or 5 star reviews and nothing below as being suspicious. What do you think about this?

Books that have only four or five star reviews are either really good or can be deemed suspicious. Some books are just “wow” and some are just not and it makes me wonder if they’re just lying to assuage the author or if they’re doing a tour or etc. I know of people who will say a book is better than it is just to spare the author. This is not something I agree with but it just makes me aware to not listen to any one opinion but I may listen to several saying the same thing. I MIGHT.

Do you give negative reviews? If I find a book “bad” for whatever reason I will review it as such. It is my opinion and I have a right to have one. Just like in publishing companies or even in school teachers/editors will chop your story or papers to shreds. You just deal and fix whatever is wrong.

Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone? I review any genre. If I only read one genre I’m not truly a reader. It’s like never going out of your own neighborhood.

What are your opinions on paid reviews? (Not including a copy of the book for review purposes only). If someone is reviewing a book without actually having read the book you’re doing a disservice to the author and the reader. It’s dishonest and I don’t agree with that

Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book? I treat every book the same I don’t care if Jane Doe wrote it or Jane Eyre. The publisher or lack thereof doesn’t change anything. Every book and every author deserves the same respect.

www.thisgirlreadsalot.blogspot.com