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Reviews Written by
Jane E. Nicholson "Jane" (London, UK)

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The Ultimate Inferior Beings
The Ultimate Inferior Beings
Price: £2.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Started laughing from the disclaimer, 17 Feb. 2013
A delightfully whimsical tale of a journey to discover what went wrong on a previous interstellar jumpship, killing all of the crew. jixX and his crew head into the singularity, but what they find there will test their sanity.

Others have said that Douglas Adams did this better. The first few chapters strongly reminded me of Adams, although the author develops the story in a very different direction later on. I was immersed in the story and found myself caught up in the characters' hopes and dreams.

Recommended, but only if you can let go of the idea that any of the things that go on should make any kind of sense...

* I was given a free copy to review

Framed for Murder: An Anna Nolan Mystery
Framed for Murder: An Anna Nolan Mystery
Price: £1.28

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable mystery, 17 Feb. 2013
Anna Nolan discovers the body of her murdered, no-good, cheating ex-husband - and is immediately the police's prime suspect. Anna will do a lot to clear her name: but what if the murderer is their son, Ben, who has never been able to forgive his father? Anna needs to find out who else has been involved with her husband since their divorce... but the question is probably, who _hasn't_?

I really enjoyed this. The prose is a bit uneven, bit a lot of the time it's brilliantly immersive. The characters are all relatable and interesting, and a lot of wit and humour shines through the writing. I particularly loved Frank's (owner of The Diner) reaction to Anna being hungry enough to eat even at the competition's joint.

The mystery is engaging and satisfying, and Anna's place in the community (which she seems to doubt) is clearly shown to be secure by their reactions to her snooping.

Well worthy of your time!

*I was given a free copy of this book.

Angels and Vengels
Angels and Vengels

3.0 out of 5 stars Suspension of disbelief too big a gap for me, 16 Feb. 2013
The story of a pair of twins who discover that one of them is very special indeed - and may have a role to play in the end of the world.

I liked the two brothers, and their friend. The absent parents were a bit strange, but the nanny/housekeeper was a good substitute for the youngsters to have to overcome to escape to their adventures. There did seem to be a large number of unusual adult characters, many of whom I expect will have significant parts to play in the sequels that explain their oddities.

The end is a good setup for additional novels, and there are hints that all is not what it appears to be...

Granted that this is a young adult novel, there were gaps in it that I thought were unnecessary. For example, it's not reasonable to suggest that a character that hasn't fought previously will learn 'defensive fighting' in one day, leaving the second for learning how to attack. And it wasn't necessary to the story that there only be two days available. I also thought it was odd that Dorian wasn't worried about the fate of his cat when it had been missing for quite a while. This seemed out of character for a boy described as very caring in general.

The book had a lot of the flavour that children might enjoy reading, of children being wiser than their adult minders.

*I was given a free copy of this to review.

Myriad (Prentor Book 1)
Myriad (Prentor Book 1)
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Too short, 7 Feb. 2013
Kalin has a destiny - he will defeat the magician who is murdering citizens as revenge on the royal family. But before that's possible, he must learn to accept himself for who he really is.

This is a very short novella, that could be expanded into a great epic novel - and I wish it had been! The writing is too compressed, focusing on events rather than description. (I get the same sense from Cherie Priest's Boneshaker.) The plot was enjoyable, and the characters showed a lot of promise for being developed further.

Last Plane out of Paris: Collectors Edition
Last Plane out of Paris: Collectors Edition
Price: £1.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Teen read better suited to a serial, 7 Feb. 2013
Bill Edwards, orphaned in the early years of the war, is sent to France to help the resistance effort. When he arrives, he discovers his mission isn't what he thought it would be.

This wasn't as good as Moxham's The Mystery of Smugglers Cove as it lacked narrative structure. The characters run around without much thought or planning, and are constantly surprised by things that, when read in context, they should probably have thought of. I put this down to the fact that the story originally ran as a serial in the old-fashioned style, which needed to end with a surprise and cliffhanger of about the same level of drama each time. This might make it quite suitable for a bedtime read to a pre-teen audience.

In the end I didn't really enjoy the book, as instead of experiencing building tension, I started instead to simply roll my eyes and think 'duh' every time the characters were stymied again. Also, Bill seemed to possess a number of unaccountable skills - engine repair, aircraft flight (including emergency landing and aerial combat!) - that started to feel contrived.

If you want a boys-own-adventure style novel about escaping from behind enemy lines during the war, I recommend Ian Serraillier's There's No Escape instead, which (for all its unconscious racism) stands up to adult re-reading.

Most of the errors mentioned in another review have been corrected in the version I read, so if you are put off the book on that grounds, you needn't worry.

* I was given a free copy for review purposes.

Misfortune (The Rainier Fields Series Book 1)
Misfortune (The Rainier Fields Series Book 1)
Price: £2.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant use of unreliable narrator, 5 Feb. 2013
This novel tells the journey of Rainier Fields, a personality created by a young boy to escape the violence and hopelessness of his past, to find friendship, acceptance, vocation, and possibly love.

Despite not having been a particularly moral character prior to the events described in the book, Fields is a very lovable hero and constantly strives to be a better man.

In a way, this reminds me of the utterly depressing works of Robin Hobb, where the same device is used - the narrator is so utterly changed by the events in the tale that the beginning of it may be completely inaccurate. The device of interrupting the narrative to flit back and forth in the sequence of events is also well done, with the characters telling each other what they have been doing both whilst separated and before they met.

I especially enjoyed the various prison scenes, for which the narrator has been prepared by his experiences with a violent childhood and so is capable of telling almost dispassionately. This is one of the very few examples of reading injustice that didn't make me too angry to enjoy it.

The sections where Fields is incapacitated by his treatment are written in a style that conveys utterly his mental state during that time that they become difficult to read, and the reader shares Fields' own bafflement. This is particularly clever writing.

Thoroughly worth reading and highly recommended.

* I received a free copy in order to review it.

The Mountain Place of Knowledge (Ancestor Series)
The Mountain Place of Knowledge (Ancestor Series)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and frustrating by turns, 3 Feb. 2013
John Henry Morgan, archeologist, is asked to investigate the circumstances of the death of his friend and colleague, Donald Courtney, during an expedition to explore an ancient Mayan site in Belize.

I like the premise, where an ancient artifact with magical powers is concealed somewhere in a Mayan tomb, and multiple teams are trying to be the first to find and control it. Initially, I was pleased to discover that Mary Ellen Rollins was a woman who was agressive and abrasive and still successful in her field. Although I disliked her on a personal level, it felt as though the author was writing a woman who was important for herself and not as a passive bystander or as a love interest. Gradually, however, I started to dislike most of the characters. Morgan is unnecessarily rude and aggressive to everyone; Rollins constantly makes foolish logical errors (and turns out to have a cliché soft centre); Calvin makes plans and then changes his mind as he executes them; Kim is a stock 'mouthpiece of the evil empire'. In the end, I didn't care who got the magical artifact as I felt none of them would make any constructive use of it!

The end was a little unclear - was Calvin alone, or with the Chinese? And why shouldn't the artifact be removed from the mountain? But as a setup for the second novel, it works.

Frustratingly, in places the prose soars and is a delight to read - showing that the author is capable of much better work - but for the most part it tended to drag or be repetitive, and the chapters that were from the perspective of the minor characters didn't interest me.

* I was given a free copy to review.

Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande (Bartleby and James Adventures Book 2)
Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande (Bartleby and James Adventures Book 2)

4.0 out of 5 stars Coherent series with interesting characters, 3 Feb. 2013
Another Bartleby & James novel. This time the duo must discover who sabotaged the airship Rio Grande, and why - otherwise all of the passengers and a large section of London will be wiped out.

It speaks well of the characterisation of the pair of detectives that when Helium instead of Hydrogen was mentioned as the fuel, I wondered immediately why James didn't leap on and correct the usage, as he is portrayed as an expert engineer and not necessarily one who thinks before he speaks!

The mystery was not quite as satisfying as And They Called Her Spider (Galvanic Century), as it doesn't feel that Bartleby and James were the agents of the solution. However, I did like the setting and the characters more than enough to make up for it.

* I was given a free copy in order to review it.

Red Madrassa: Algardis #1
Red Madrassa: Algardis #1

4.0 out of 5 stars A decent start, 3 Feb. 2013
This novel is essentially a description of the first term at a magical school for a group of students who arrive together after a series of coincidences. The characters are interesting and varied, but I couldn't see them forming a friendship naturally due to their diversity. As with one of the group, I wondered why they were still hanging out together after their arrival.

That aside, I do like the premise of the book, and the universe is very well imagined - and although I didn't feel that much plot action happened in this book I did enjoy reading it. I expect that the second book of the series will be more exciting, and this first novel contained a lot of the setup necessary for the later story.

* I was given a free copy of this to review.

Convergence: Journey to Nyorfias, Book 1
Convergence: Journey to Nyorfias, Book 1
Price: £2.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea not taken as far as I would have liked, 20 Jan. 2013
It's hard to concentrate on business when your body keeps getting taken over by a complete stranger - who thinks that she's dreaming everything that happens... but that's what Rett has to do until she can convince Pam that this is for real. Assuming that she can survive the heat of battle for that long, anyway.

As this is only the beginning of the tale, I hope that more will be made of the advantages of having two souls inhabiting one body, but for this first book it didn't feel as though the device had any point. The book also read more as a series of short stories with a loose connection, than it did a coherent narrative, although some aspects of Rett's past were explored nicely.

*I received a free copy of this book for review.

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