Storm Seed is the penultimate Sacred Band novel and it’s all you’d expect from Janet and Chris Morris – dark in places, complex and multi-layered, exciting and full of action, sad and yet joyous. As with all of these novels it’s not for the faint-hearted, those who like an ‘easy read’ or those who don’t understand the nuances and lyricism of these two writers. This novel ties up many of the plotlines from previous books; the complex relationships between the Sacred Band members, estranged though they are; the re-emergence of old enemies and old bonds; the reaffirming of loyalty and friendship and, of course, a great big fight😊
What I love most are the characters in these novels. Nikodemos, especially, is such a wonderful creation. He’s the most human, the most troubled and the most courageous. Of all the characters Niko loses the most, but is, perhaps, the only one who can truly understand what it means to retain one’s humanity and sense of self. Surrounded by immortals Niko understands mortality and death more than the others, yet faces it head on and doesn’t quaver. Surrounded by the immortal Commander Tempus, Jihan the Froth Daughter, and a host of more than humans Niko, Strat and Crit fight and work as only those commanded by an immortal can – doing more than they thought possible, for the love for Tempus and each other.
Past decisions and mistakes come a-knocking and when a half-god and Death’s Queen seek revenge a world or two are ravaged. Prepare for blood, for sacrifice and for loss in this book. But be heartened by the unbreakable friendships, the courage and the glory of the Sacred Band. Cleverly woven in is the land of Sandia – a place where the inhabitants plundered their land and seas until their world was mostly barren, their children born in a laboratory and a people dying the slow death of a world ravaged at their hands. Sandia is not so far from home for us. A warning and a lesson, perhaps. Tempus himself finds it hard to understand how a people could destroy their own world in such a way.
It’s a great adventure, a great saga and a great read.
Life to you and everlasting glory.
OK let’s start with the good.
The author is obviously interested and passionate about her subject; it’s quite a specialised topic and research has been done. It is not a book which would appeal to everyone but it is a worthy read for people who like make-up and women’s history. Each chapter covers an era and the changing attitudes and tastes. I found the social aspects the most interesting – attitudes changed from women being branded as prostitutes if they wore cosmetics to it being considered odd if they didn’t in the space of a few decades. The history of the foundation (get the pun?) of some of the fashion houses and brands. particularly the older ones created by and for women was also pretty good.
The author covers everything – a brief mention of ancient cosmetics, to Victorian values, to rouge, compacts, eye make up, hair, punks, yuppies and hippies. It’s interesting to see how looks change, even within our own lifetimes, but also how some of the ‘fringe’ looks and lifestyles cling on (goth, punk, hippy). The chapter on wartime cosmetics was particularly good – how did women improvise, and harken back to older times with home-made and more natural products.
There is also a good discussion about the downsides of some of the cosmetics – lead in face whitener, hair products that eventually made you bald, and the increasing regulation on cosmetics as it became a really big industry.
Now the bad. This would work much better as a print book. The Kindle version has lots of formatting errors, typos and the pictures are small and hard to see. The errors eventually got really quite annoying (maybe it’s the writer in me). I don’t usually mark down books for this but there were so many!
I’d recommend this – but only the print version.
It’s been a while since I read 1984 – one of the masterpiece dystopian books of all time and I’d forgotten what an excellent, and terrifying book this is.
1984 is dark, it is not a happy-go-lucky read and the audio edition does not make easy listening. That said Andrew Wincott was the perfect narrator for this timeless story. It’s a deep, thought-provoking boo laced with a terrifying dystopian truth, and the narrator really nailed that in his reading. From the contemplative, yet naive Winston Smith to the intelligent and brutal O’Brian he roused emotion in the listener. I found myself transported to the frightening world of Winston Smith and thinking how familiar it seemed in so many ways.
Although set in a futurist 1980s (it was written in 1948), the book has a timeless air. History as the reader know is it very different. In Winston’s world Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace and Ignorance is Strength. Many terms people use regularly stem from this book – Thoughtpolice, Big Brother, Doublethink and many people argue that the surveillance in our own societies is reminiscent of Orwell’s world.
His view of crowd mentality is awfully prescient when one looks at recent events across the world. (When individuals may be harmless people, but as a group they become ‘A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledgehammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.’)
1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
Describing the “Two Minutes Hate”, Part 1, Chapter 1.
Orwell’s dark story brings us politics gone insane, the nature of freedom and slavery, thoughts about what we believe history to be, the human spirit to survive, and the human will to power. Winston Smith is, to a great extent, an Everyman; a man of middling, but not great intelligence, in a rather mundane job, unsettled in his life and questioning what is around him, but not really able to understand why things are as they are.
I’d also forgotten the ending – which I won’t spoil but it did make me want to shout ‘No!!!!’ rather loudly.
I Can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s a superb story – which everyone should experience – and a brilliant rendition.
5 Stars to the narrator.
5 stars to the author.
Read 1984 or listen to this awesome retelling – it’s worth the time and it might just broaden your outlook. Read it!
Review for Tempus Unbound
This particular Tempus/Sacred Band book is a little different – for a start, it’s all from Tempus’ point of view, and we have only Tempus himself, Cime and Askelon from the former books. Don’t let this put you off, there’s a host of worthies – not least Mano the mercenary from the future and bad guys to rival anyone in Sanctuary.
Called to Lemuria, a strange citadel between the worlds, and times it’s a chance to right wrongs if only you can work out WHICH wrongs. Tempus is lonely, alone save for his petulant and truculent god. Who is who, and who needs whom? That’s one of the questions asked as Tempus fights an old enemy in a new and unfamiliar world. The future is dark, and war will out. Strife is all and king of all. And so it was in his own time, and in this possible future. We see our hero struggle with technology he can barely imagine and his friends see power and courage they can barely comprehend. Gods, magic and tech fight as Tempus tries to save his sister, and save the world from his deadly sister. Choices are made, and regrets are put aside in the names of love and courage. Ideals are questioned, and truth is harsh.
As usual, the characters are supremely crafted, with a richness that brings emotion and a real sense of reality. In Morris’s world, anything is possible, and the reader believes it. These aren’t easy reads, they have a high level of violence, sex and themes that require the reader to engage their brain. But this, and the other Sacred Band/Tempus books are worth the time, and the brainpower. Rarely does a reader find a world so rich, or characters so enchanting, or writing so lyrical. The tempo of the book is a call to war, a call to stand for what is good, and a call to give all.
Heartily recommend this – even if you’re unfamiliar with the characters, and setting Tempus Unbound takes the reader on a journey from ancient times, to a future and it’s a thrilling journey and is a great intro to Tempus and his worlds.
Wind from the Abyss – Book 3 of the Silistra Quartet – Janet Morris
The third book of the Silistra series is, perhaps, the most passionate, the most evocative and the most enthralling. This is a book about power, amongst many other things. The power of biology, of technology and the problems it can bring, the power over another, and the power over oneself. Silistra is a supremely crafted world, apart from ours but terrifyingly familiar in many ways. It is, a could be – a might be, and the denizens thereupon are reflections of humanity.
Estri – our protagonist – is a shadow of what she was, and beholden to a man who is demigod, ruler and profit. He shapes his world and brooks no competition or threat. Estri, now little more than a slave, must find herself, and her past and future and use them to save herself and her world. Does she do it? You’ll have to read to find out. I’ll just say it’s a long and difficult journey, filled with sacrifice.
You’ll quickly be entranced by the world and its characters, and although it helps to have read the earlier books, even without that it’s a tumultuous journey. This is not for the faint of heart, nor those who want an ‘easy’ read. It’s cerebral, lyrical and evocative. You have been warned.
*Welcome to Joselyn Moreno.
Where are you from? Panamá
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m just an average girl who loves to read and craves lots of books. I’m bilingual and I like blogs a lot too. I’m 30 years old, and have been reading since I could, a trait from my mom since she is a elementary teacher.
On average how many books do you read in a month?
Usually depends on the length of the books if they’re short I can read 3 to 5 of them if they’re more full-length maybe 2 a month.
Where is your favorite place to read?
Anywhere I can find to read, being my bed, my car, the mall.
*What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid?
My favorites would be romance because which girl doesn’t sigh with a good one, terror/horror love to scare myself ajajaaj, dystopia since it seems so real but at the same time sci fi and interesting.
Why are books important to you, and what does reading bring to your life?
Because they can lift my spirits whenever I need, for me they’re like my drug and well they bring a lot of good things to my life, like friends and lots of reads.
Do you have a favorite book or author? Why do you think you like this book/author so much?
Jovee winters, I love her sexy retells of classic children tales.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this?
Ebooks mostly, audiobooks are good too so I can go in the traffic hearing something cool, paperback are nice only when you have space at your home for them.
How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know?
Following authors more than anything and with my blog I receive a lot of request to read.
When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away?
For me the covers and the blurbs are it, that can convince me to give a book a try. For me to turn away a book it mean the blurb didn’t catch my attention or it was too heavy for my liking.
*Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice?
Yes sometimes I do, and not really but they could always make a book seem more interesting.
Do you “judge a book by its cover?”
Jaja well sometimes, I do love cute covers it’s a great catch to my eyes, however I do try to buy them for their story.
What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off?
Plot and characters for me is what makes a book good or bad.
Too much roundabout can make me turn off since I get bored.
Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?
Only if they do something bad to me personally if not well people are people and we can’t control them, but it doesn’t mean the books are bad.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads?
I think it’s awesome, they get to know their fans and interact with them, that is always a good thing.
If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be?
Fields of Elysium, The Veil: Awakening, Red and her Wolf
Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline?
Yes and no, Yes because they’re so few you can get to really like bookshops, and no because lots of business sells books so they are like miniature bookshops inside stores, I’m hopeful they never disappear.
If you are a reviewer why do you review?
Because I like to help people discover new books and authors to know people out there likes their books.
What factors are important in a review?
That the plot is good more than anything in my case.
What are your views on paid for reviews?
It will depend if you’re paying for a good review then it’s bad it should be honest, if you’re paying for the time someone took for reading your book it maybe be more like a donation to that person to keep reading and doing what they love.
Are you influenced by other reviews when choosing a book? What other factors influence your choice?
Not really, I do see what other people think and it’s a matter of points of view.
What influences my choice in a book will be the cover design if it is appealing to me and if the story is enticing.
When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot? Which factors do you overlook? (if any)
My criteria, plot and character making, I do overlook editing sometimes since we are humans and can make mistakes.
What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive?
Positive because that shows they care and are willing to learn from those reviews and grow as authors.
Do you feel it is appropriate to discuss author behaviour in a review, is this a factor which influences your choice?
NO its not, a review should solemnly be what you think about a book, no hard feelings in it.
If you need to say something about behavior you can always talk with the author directly.
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?
That they really liked these books, it’s not unheard of, I guess.
Do you give negative reviews?
I do try not to be negative about my reviews but if I don’t like a book I try to be professional and polite about it and I never blame a book for not liking it, it’s just not my taste that’s all.
Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone?
I usually stick with my genres but from time to time I like to try and explore a different thing, it can surprise me.
Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book? NO I review them the same way, they’re books and shouldn’t be treated differently just like people.
Have you ever been a victim of an ‘author behaving badly’? How did you deal with it?
Just one time and I think it was kind of my fault too, but I think that she was too harsh and judgmental the way she looks at things, well I did apologize to her and all but after that I didn’t want to read her anymore.
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.
*** 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.
Theogony – Hesiod.
(4 for value – ancient text and useful insight)
(3 for readability)
(3.5 for interest)
(3 for technicalities – formatting)
I’m not totally sure how to rate this – as an ancient work (8th Century BCE) it’s importance is supreme. It’s a great insight into the pantheon of the Ancient Greeks and their religion but it must be said it is NOT an easy read. This is partly as it is so old – these deities are alien to most of us, with unfamiliar names, roles and lives, if that is the right word, which are also rather fantastic. Mostly it reads as a list – so and so begat so and so. There’s a lot of that – sex is everywhere, as is violence, intrigue, deception, family squabbles and much more. From the modern view all the incest, patricide, misogyny and so forth is hard to deal with – although pretty standard for ancient religious text. The stories of Prometheus, of Earth and Sky and Earth’s revenge, plus the birth of Athena are the most outstanding accounts. In many ways it reads like a modern soap opera.
I’d say it is a great book for background information to the gods and supernatural beings of the period, but as a straight through read, or an adventure such as the Odyssey it is not nearly as exciting. The misogyny of the text is obvious – although to some extent reflects the ideas of the time.
The formatting on this version was a bit suspect – with large gaps, words running into one another and repeated phrases, which MAY have been intentional but maybe not. After a while it became fairly hard to read because of this. Some more notes to this particular version would be very useful.
Overall – I’d say a useful reference for study if one wants background into the deities of the Odyssey or Iliad, but not an especially interesting one – at least in this particular translation.
Reviews are a contentious issue, one only has to look at social media to discover that. Good Reads particularly has a lot of reviewers, and some are very vocal. It must be remembered Good Reads is a READER site, primarily but of late there have been many issues, discussions and arguments about reviews, their value, what they mean, who can give them, and their validity. There is no hard and fast answer to any of these questions.
Ultimately book reviews are for readers. Readers are, of course, consumers of books and many readers like to catalogue their thoughts on a particular book. A review is an OPINION, and thus has the prejudices, views and likes and dislikes of the particular reviewer.
What one reviewer thinks is wonderful another might hate.
Reviewer A hates typos/reviewer B overlooks or doesn’t notice them.
Reviewer A likes strong world building/reviewer B sees it as an ‘info dump’.
Reviewer A doesn’t like swearing/violence/sex in books/ reviewer B likes that type of book.
You see what I mean?
Then there are reviewers who use the review space to comment on an author’s behaviour/ideals etc. Personally I think the review should be about the book but that’s my own view. Some folks find this important and it’s true some writers forget they are the brand. If they act like a jerk online then someone will notice and likely as not the behaviour will backfire. What goes on the internet stays on the internet. This does work both ways. If a reviewer is particularly spiteful, or obviously has an agenda then other readers will see that and hopefully ignore the review.
So what do reviews mean? They mean what the review wants them to mean – his or her own views and values. A reader seeing the review might misunderstand the reviewer’s opinion, might read the book and think the opposite. People review for all sorts of reasons: Personal lists, for friends, because they loved/hated a book so much they want to share, because they enjoy reviewing, even for the author.
Again I’ll say it. Reviews are opinions.
How important are they? I haven’t a damn clue. Again that probably depends on who you ask. Some people put a lot of store in reviews, scanning a book’s reviews for the pros and cons from readers who think the same way, or perhaps to see how many ratings of a particular level they have. There are many who think a book with only 5 star ratings have fake ratings. Is this true? Not usually, but it doesn’t have to be true or false, just perceived as true. And there are authors who have bought reviews. These are in the minority.
If a reviewer says “I love this book (insert title here)” or possible “This was the suckiest book evah” that doesn’t tell anyone a great deal. It helps to add why it was liked or disliked but as I’ve said it depends on the reviewer and why and for whom they are reviewing. Some use reviews as a list of I liked this, I didn’t like this. They simply don’t want to say WHY, or aren’t confident to find the words to do so.
Then there are readers who only read a few, or don’t let reviews influence them. I’m like this. I might read reviews but I have usually made up my mind by then. I’ve even bought books based on BAD reviews. I’m actually more likely to look at reviews for non-book products. Don’t ask me why.
That said I do review – partly because I have a bad memory – and partly because I enjoy it. There’s another reason. I’m more likely to review if the book is written by an indie author. Yes I know I said reviews are for readers, and they are. I might be an author but I am also a reader. As an author I feel a writer appreciates a review – it’s always nice to learn what a reader thought of one’s books. I’ve seen many arguments saying that reviewers aren’t an indie’s beta readers – and that’s true but even the most polished work is not going to be liked by everyone. Reviews help authors to understand the market, their own work and what readers want (which might not be what the writer thinks they want).
I’ve seen the debates on Good Reads from reviewers who say that they don’t review for authors – but if the review is on a site such as Goodreads or Amazon the likelihood is the author will see it and interpret it. For better or worse.
As an author do I like getting reviews? Yes, of course. I appreciate any reader taking the time to put his or her thoughts down. Do I think they affect sales? Not a clue. Good reviews might help, then again they might not. Bad reviews might hurt, then again they might not.
Conclusion – are reviews important? Yes and no. Do they make a difference to readers? Yes and no. Do they make a difference to authors? Yes and no. As a writer you can’t please everyone. There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like the book, as there will be someone who adores it. As a reader/reviewer there are bound to be others who share your views, but many who won’t. Look at any book from Hamlet http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hamlet-Wordsworth-Classics-William-Shakespeare/dp/1853260096/ to Fifty Shades of Grey http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fifty-Shades-Trilogy-Darker-Freed-ebook/dp/B008BM9L72/ and see the selections of reviews. (For the latter some are hilarious).
There is no right and wrong.