Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dreams and Realities?

DreamscapeDreamscape by Paul Kidd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Kidd is a wonderful, fresh voice in fantasy - and perhaps because all of his recent books have been self-published, they have retained that sense of originality, and have not been editted to fit into a specific niche. "Dreamscape" is no exception - it takes the reader and slowly immerses them into the ideal, peaceful world of a young girl. With a surreal elegance, it portrays the world the way she conceives it - and it appears she shares some of Kidd's interests - wargaming, cafes, swordplay etc. After you have settled in and are enjoying the easy ambience, discord is introduced - slowly, innnocently at first, just a few indications that things are not all pearls and roses. Then more discord follows, until her delightful, delicious world risks total destruction. Or worse. Commercialisation. I cannot help but feel that Kidd's concept meshes rather neatly with my ideal of the afterlife.

There are issues of course. Mainly with formatting - the margins are not justified, leaving the right margin a raggedy mess of lines. And at one point the font size increases by one or two points for several sentences. The occasional typo slips through the editor as well - but none of these detract too much from the overall feeling of the book. Indeed, the only factors that actually bugged me were that the words "deliciously" and "gorgeous" were used on almost every page for the first third of the book and that his tortoise lived in a pond. And the latter could have been entirely Steel's fault.

It will not be to everyone's tastes - the slow build led me to wonder if there would ever actually be in conflict - the essential element for ever novel, anywhere. The occasional repetition. And it seems to be a little gamer-centric - somehow people who wargame, or what-not, have more worthy souls than, say, accountants (although he did give politicians a part - the key is passion, but who's to say an accountant can't be passionate about numbers?) and there is a reasonable population of furries, but it's entirely up MY alley, and I loved it. Thank you Paul, I've now gone and acquired some more of your books for my kindle - I am so happy you are still writing, and writing well.

I bought the actual book of this on Amazon (published via LuLu) but it is now available on ebook too - although not cheap, so I would recommend you try the sample first.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

A strong build becomes a real let down

Dark EarthDark Earth by Jason Halstead

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This novel started strong - the characters were interesting, the writing good and the emotions portrayed convincing and powerful. Eric's dedication to his daughter was admirable and Jessica was appealing and interesting. There were some truly tense scenes and good horror/suspense novel fare. Then things started to go downhill. The warder was a weak and pointless character, serving only to dump some information and then essentially commit suicide in a truly stupid manner. And it deteriorated further when Jessica crossed the bridge and Eric trailed after her.

Firstly - I get the impression that Jessica crossed the bridge on her voalition - nobody had captured her or whatnot, so why was it just immediately assumed she had been captured by the Evil King (cliche)? The squalid, dark and nasty lives of the peasants seemed exaggerated and unnecessary, with the only ray of light being the Smith. Now, there's a tale I would like to hear more of. Instead, it appears as though the author no longer wanted to make much effort - plot points were rushed; emotions were told, not shown and there was repetition of phrases and other such grammatic errors that choke the plot and show that the editor lost interest about partway through (and with good reason, as so did I).

Dark Earth was nowhere near as interesting as Mundania (and can you say "rip-off", I could not help but think of Xanth and Florida). It was a generic fantasy kingdom ruled by greed. Yawn. And as for the concept of the Dark Earthians taking over our world - well, that's ridiculous, given their fickle loyalties, their selfish behaviour and their primitive weaponry, I would say it was all one big farce.

And why was Jessica - by far the most interesting character - relegated to little more than a trophy to be rescued and owned. She served no purpose and showed little initiative throughout the latter part of the plot. I would suggest that the author were to step back from the first person narrative - something like this would be much stronger were we able to see what Jessica was going through - to discover who had captured her as she went through the gate and to feel her distress at watching her father tormented.

On the plus side - the kindle version was free.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sexy Lycanthropy

Changeling Moon (Changeling, #1)Changeling Moon by Dani Harper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Buy it on Amazon for $1.99 (kindle)

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and found it rather difficult to put down. At first I was sceptical - werewolf novels are a dime a dozen and tend into the cliched. But I vey quickly found myself hooked. This is probably more romance/erotica than I normally read* but I enjoyed the characters and the plot was well paced. Connor was suitably loveable - then again, I am rather drawn to sexy veterinarians - a good way to display his compassionate and empathic side. This doesn't really bring much new to the werewolf genre - there are no startling revelations or dramatic twists to the common mythology, although it does combine somewhat some of the vampire mythos to the werewolf mythos. It is not entirely generic either.

All in all, a worthy read, although now I'm hooked - the prices on her other books are a wee bit higher!

This is the story about a young female reporter with minor psychic powers. After her "curse" forces her from the city and into a small country town, she thinks life is going to be less stressful. But she's wrong, for within the first few pages she is attacked by a rather large wolf and begins to uncover the secrets of this small farming town. Then she starts to fall for the rather sexy veterinarian, Connor MacLeod, who has some rather interesting secrets of his own... Well, not very secret, because you as the reader know he's a werewolf shapeshifter from the start. But that doesn't mean Zoey is going to be so easily convinced!

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* Who am I kidding? I read Nalini Singh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A new voice in NZ fantasy

The Silver Hawk: Chronicles of Tyria: Book 1 (Volume 1)The Silver Hawk: Chronicles of Tyria: Book 1 by Ms Beaulah H Pragg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first came upon this book in a local bookstore and was intrigued - CreateSpace published novels are not readily available in NZ bookstores, and this one had a sign beside it proclaiming "local author". Upon coming home I did some further research and decided to purchase it on ebook. And I am very glad I did, for it was very well written. The plot was refreshing, and the author has some clever ideas - the concept of the two siblings - Mikael and Maat, watching a civilisation that they had created and in which they had "cast" themselves as gods, was rather nifty. It also worked well for the narrative, allowing the plot to skip several years in a heartbeat and follow the progress of various characters and their exploits. The politics also seemed quite well thought out, and the personalities of the characters well developed. With a couple of interesting twists and an ending that was complete-but-not-quite, it is definitely designed to make you seek out more. And do you know what? I think I shall!

Currently 99c on Amazon for the Kindle ebook

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