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Larewen Evenstar (Renfrewshire)

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The Mountains of Channadran. The Winter King's War Book 3
The Mountains of Channadran. The Winter King's War Book 3
by Susan Dexter
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars a lovely ending, 15 Aug 2010
Having now read the whole of this surprisingly great fantasy series, I have to say it was worth it! Although not a 5-star series (as I have rated each book 4 stars), it was highly enjoyable and wasn't a waste.

In this book we see Tristan, Polassar, Elisena, Thomas and Reynaud all off on their final quest to defeat Nimir the Winter King. It is a LONG journey that takes up most of the book, with a wonderful amount of peril happening regularly through this book. Just when you think they are finally going to get a break, something horrible happens like Tristan being buried under several feet of snow, or someone being stabbed etc etc. But it all works, and although it seems like nothing good can ever happen to our heroes, there is always a little glimmmer of hope.

Tristan remains just about the most useless wizard ever (yes, even Rincewind from terry pratchett's discworld books may be a better wizard than our lovely Tristan), he is backed up by Elisena, who always seems to be able to perform just the right kind of magic at the drop of a hat.

There are sections of this book that, too my delight, were from Thomas's point of view (for those unaware by now, Thomas is Tristan's black cat). As a big fan of Thomas this was great!

So it's over! I'm rather sad to leave these characters behind, as I enjoyed them while it lasted. But I think I will return to these books again!

I recommend this series to fantasy fans and those trying to get into fantasy (they are relitively short and to the point, and not overly complicated!).

Temeraire (Temeraire 1) [a.k.a. His Majesty's Dragon]
Temeraire (Temeraire 1) [a.k.a. His Majesty's Dragon]
by Naomi Novik
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful read, 9 Aug 2010
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I got this book, mainly because amazon seemed insistant on recommending it to me constantly. But I am very glad that I did.

Not only is this an incredible story, with some great characters that you cannot help but love from the outset, it is also rather heartwarming. The relationship between Laurance and his dragon, Temeraire, is just so special. The only other relationship I have read like it is that between Fitz and Nighteyes in Robin Hobb's Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies, and that was a perfect relationship, so for Laurance and Temeraire to come close (for me anyway) that is something special.

Each of the dragons and characters have their own personalities as well. In some stories I've read, dragons often get lumped with the same generic persona, but here they have as much personality, if not more, than the humans.

Temeraire himself is just lovely! He is just so pure and true that I couldn't help but love him! Simple things like his excitement over a sparkly trinket or getting a bath are just fantastic little additions to this story.

Laurance, being the main character, is also rather charming. In the first few pages, I wasn't sure about him, but then his personality really began to shine through once Temeraire hatches, and I loved him from then on.

What I also enjoyed was the fact that there is a distinct lack of over-complicated phrases to do with sailing or war, everything is kept to a good, understandable minimum, making it easy to follow, but still very realistic.

I was dubious about 'Temeraire' as I'm not usually a fan of books like this, where the author has taken an event in the past, and changed it for fantasy purposes, in this case putting dragons into the battle against Napoleon. But Novik certainly pulls this off without a hitch!

Another thing I worried about, before reading this book, was the perhaps the opening would be far too long, given the descriptions on the backs of books usually tell you roughly what will happen, but usually turn out to be telling you what happens once you get about a third of the way into the book, I was worried that we would have to wait at least 100 pages before the dragon hatched. But luckily I only had to wait a few pages, as you are thrown right into the story, just after the battle where Laurance's crew manage to get the dragon egg from the French, so no waiting around, which was excellent!

I really look forward to reading the other books in this series, as I have high hopes for them given how much I enjoyed this one! Highly recommended!

The Sword of Calandra - the Winter King's War 2 (Fontana)
The Sword of Calandra - the Winter King's War 2 (Fontana)
by Susan Dexter
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another excellent book!, 8 Aug 2010
Well, having been really surprised by the first book which I wasn't expecting much from but loved, I was really looking forward to reading the next book in the series, and it didn't disappoint.

I have to say, it isn't the most epic fantasy story ever, but it is incredibly enjoyable and a good quick read, which isn't too deep and complicated. The fact that it isn't complicated like most fantasy doesn't take away from it at all.

As with the first book, the characters are full of life and well, character. There are less active character in this book, compared to the first one, where new characters were joining Tristan on his quest every few chapters. This book mainly focuses around Tristan on his quest to find the sword that will allow him to be crowned king (which he doesn't want to be, but has no choice). He is joined on his quest by my favourite of all the characters, Thomas the cat. For a cat, he has such a personality, it's wonderful!

Although, Tristan, being the lead, is actually a really great character. I find far too often in fantasy (along with other genre) that I actually don't like the lead character much, but Tristan is a lovely exception. There is something quite lovely about him. Such as him being a 'wizard' normally this would mean he would be amazing and all powerful, but in all honesty, tristan's magical ability is a bit rubbish. It improves slowly, and when he does do some magic, it is usually pretty good, but it seems to be such a hard task for him, he doesn't do it much, and usually suffers for it.

As for the story, well, it was very enjoyable too! A simple quest to find a sword, not the most original idea i must say, but Dexter pulls it off. As I've said before, it's quite a simple story, and nothing is over done. You never stick in a location just a little too long. It's a very concise story, but is still an excellent one, and that is a talent in itself! Far too many fantasy stories are over complicated nowadays, so it's nice to read something simple like this.

Along with the individual story for this book, the overall story is growing too, the hounds of Nimir are after Tristan, and he fears them more than anything, but also, the fact that spring has come but the snow is still present is made more obvious in this book. Towards the end especially, when the snow starts to become a real issue, and Tristan realises he must come face to face with Nimir to end the winter.

It's starting to build to a climax here, but also keeping it's own as a story in it's own right, which I always enjoy.

So basically, I really enjoyed this book, I recommend it (and the others in the series) to anyone who is a fantasy fan, and, in fact, to anyone who isn't really a fan, but wants to try to get into the genre.

The King of Elfland's Daughter
The King of Elfland's Daughter
by Baron Dunsany Edward Plunkett
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book, 3 Aug 2010
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There is something wonderful about this book, the writing style is exquisite, drawing you into a world like a painting, stroke by stroke. A magical world is shown to you, with beautiful characters within. It really is quite amazing.

The story itself might not be that in depth, and is basically just another fairy tale, but Dunsany writes so well that he brings a new life to the genre of fairytales.

This is the first book of his I have read, and i look forward to reading more soon!

I really recommend this book, and it's one you will probably read again and again, I know I plan to!

The Ring of Allaire. The Winter King's War Book 1
The Ring of Allaire. The Winter King's War Book 1
by Susan Dexter
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent fantasy!, 2 Aug 2010
Given that I'm usually skeptical about fantasy not written in the last 20 years, and that, from first glance, this looks like it will be a typical fantasy where the characters are lifeless and dull, they go on a quest and you couldn't care less about the result, but this is far from the truth in this case!

Yes, this is quite a short book at 231 pages, but you get taken straight into the action which is non-stop from start to finish. You feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes because there is no time to stop and breathe! But it is worth it! This was one of those books I just wanted to keep reading to see what happened, and subsequently, I'm now desperate to read the next 2 books in the series (which luckily i already have!).

Amazingly, for such a short book, it doesn't seem to loose it's depth. The fault of many short fantasy books is that the characters turn out lifeless, the story rushed and a bit pointless, but this doesn't happen here! Wonderful!

On its own, without being part of a series, this book works wonderfully. It could be a complete tale in it's own right, like all good books should.

I loved the characters, and although the human characters were great, the animal characters are as much the heroes of this tale as the humans are! Thomas the cat, minstrel the bird and Valadan the horse are all excellent characters! Thomas in particular I adored! What is it about fantasy authors and their abilities to give such great personalities to cats?! I think it's brilliant! And they aren't just sidekicks who happen to be travelling with them, they are real, useful characters who provide just as much to the story as the people.

The human characters, given that they are supposed to be the main characters, should also be mentioned. Tristan is a brilliant character, he isn't whiney or annoying, he's very accepting of things given that he is a wizard, but still interesting enough that you worry when tragedy strikes. The girls in the book, Allaire and Elisena are, rarely for books in general (in my opinion!), not overly annoying! They turn up and although they don't do much at first to push the story along, and really get in the way quite a bit, they are still loveable characters. Polassar is a strange one. He was a good character, he made me laugh, but I couldn't quite work out his purpose in the greater scheme of the book, but I'm still glad he was there!

I recommend this if you are a fantasy fan looking for a quick, enjoyable read, you shouldn't be disappointed!

Jane Austen's Guide to Dating
Jane Austen's Guide to Dating
by Lauren Henderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.04

4.0 out of 5 stars a good read, and useful!, 1 Aug 2010
To make this clear, this is not a book that tells you how to get a man, it's a book that tells you how to cope with dating and it's various aspects. It is also a guide to yourself and your man, as it gives you clear indications of how you should act, and things to avoid.

This is certainly not a book for someone looking for a quick fling, it's more for those girls who are wanting to find someone long term, or someone to settle down with.

The best thing about this book is that it focuses on British women. A nice change from the ridiculous number of American dating guides. The author herself even points out that the mistake many women make is to read american dating guides, and then wonder why they aren't getting the results. What to remember is that British and American cultures are not as similar as we think they are. This book is a good example of this, and it never insults either culture.

Each chapter is layed out well, she discusses relationships in terms of Jane Austen novels, but then gives modern day examples. This helps to show her points really clearly, and gives them a bit more depth or understanding.

The quiz at the end was good fun, and allows you to work out your personality type (based on Austen's characters) and also to work out your man's personality type, and then tells you if those two are compatible and why. Sounds like a regular old personality test from a cheesy mag, I hear you say! Well, it has that feel too it, but I have to say, it's results are actually pretty accurate. It got my personality down fine, and also the personality of the type of man I prefer, so that impressed me.

I'd say the thing I found most annoying about this book was the fact that there were so many examples! They are helpful, yes, but by the 4th chapter, I was getting quite fed up having to read through them all, eventually I skipped most of the chapters, and just read the summaries at the end, which were really concise.

Perhaps one more thing I think this book could have done with would be a way for women to meet men. This is a tricky thing for any author to do, so I'm not surprised she didn't, and I'm sure it wouldn't have been quite suitable for this book.

This would be a good book to keep on hand for quick reference when you do finally find a man. Although I cannot say her methods work, they are all very sensible and clear. She has done a great job of not looking out for your best interests, but saying, in the kindest possible way, that you should sometimes watch your behaviour, so as not to hurt the man you are with as well.

I recommend this to those girls who, like myself, are a bit more old fashioned in their views of things. I'm a romantic at heart, and this book really spoke to me in terms of what I should be looking for in men, and I think anyone who has similar thoughts would do well to read this.

All in all, and excellent book. Entertaining, although perhaps a little less examples, as it becomes too long winded after a while!

Alyssa's Ring (Guardian Cycle)
Alyssa's Ring (Guardian Cycle)
by Julia Gray
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars it's over!, 30 July 2010
Well, it was a long road, but this series is finally at an end. Since this is the final book in the series, I will try to review both it and the series as a whole.

Basically I found this book a little unexciting, considering it was the last in the series. All the action happens in a few chapters at the end, and doesn't have much more happening than the big fights in the previous books.

Despite this book being called 'Alyssa's Ring' there was a distinct lack of Alyssa in this book, but I'm kind of glad of that, as she tends to become annoying every couple of books, and I'm sure she was due for another annoying streak in this one. But I guess that is just a petty way to look at things.

I still adore most of the characters, especially Taryn, who I have a soft spot for, he was such a lovely and endearing character. Jax however confuses me something terrible! He seems to change his mind every five minutes. Hindering, helping, then trying to kill Terrel, finishing it off by helping him again and then getting angry at him. Out of all the characters, i'd say he was the weakest written, as he's just a bit vague and all over the place for my liking, compared to the other characters, who are quite clear.

It was an interesting read, and I'm glad I read this series as it is a good fantasy series, however, having read all 5 books now, I do feel like it should maybe only have been 2 or 3 books. So much stuff happens in the 5 books, but a lot of it seems like filler material to pass the time until real things happen. I kind of feel like she should have cut out a lot of the unimportant stuff and made it more condensed. I also feel that a little more description was in order, as I often found it hard to picture things, due to the lack of description.

But in general, it was a good read, and I recommend this series, not as highly as I would with some other series perhaps, but the characters make it worth while.

the Dark Moon Cycle in order:
The Dark Moon
The Jasper Forest
The Crystal Desert
The Red Glacier
Alyssa's ring

A Closed Book
A Closed Book
by Gilbert Adair
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.52

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars gripping & suspenseful?, 29 July 2010
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This review is from: A Closed Book (Paperback)
I think not!

All the quotes from people on the back and inside of this book seem to call it gripping and clever. I have to say I completely disagree.

There seemed to be no point at all to the story. I couldn't work out what was meant to be gripping about it because nothing was happening! I forced my way through, sure that something would happen, and it did. But only about 40 pages from the end. I think if this book had been any longer, I wouldn't have bothered reading it all, and would have given in early on. As it was quite short though, I decided to stick in there until the end.

The ending was very dissappointing. Rather cliché I felt, but also totally inappropriate to the story. It feels to me like Adair was trying to write something really clever about a mans innermost thoughts, and decided that it wasn't going anywhere, so threw in a random twist at the end. I don't think he should have bothered.

There was nothing 'thrilling' about this book, and the 2 stars are simply because I made it to the end, otherwise it would have been 1 star.

I will say it is rather well written though. Adair's ability to write an entire book with almost no outward thoughts or descriptions is very good, and not many authors could manage this, another reason that contributed to my 2 star rating of this book.

But in all honesty, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. Apart from the interesting writing style, it hasn't much going for it.

The Sword in the Stone (Essential Modern Classics)
The Sword in the Stone (Essential Modern Classics)
by T. H. White
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not too bad, 24 July 2010
Well, as a fan of Arthurian legends, I felt I had to read this. I actually have the full set under the name 'the once and future king' but given that I could only manage to read sword in the stone, I felt I should review just it, instead of all the books.

So basically, this is a quite a good story, and I think I would have loved it as a child, where the idea of turning into an animal and having adventures was pure magic. At 20 however, this doesn't hold quite the charm it would have done. I actually started wishing they'd stop turning into animals and going on adventures and give me a real story instead!

I have to say, I was a bit miffed when I got to about 10 pages from the end, and suddenly the sword in the stone was mentioned, then Arthur did his thing (I say this in the off chance you don't already know the story, I don't want to spoil it!) and then it's all over! I read a whole book waiting for the excitement of the sword, but it was a LONG wait!

Basically, this would be a great book for a child, they'd love the characters, although may find the turn of phrase and speech a bit difficult at times. The writing itself is pretty good, it just wasn't for me! I think there are probably some better Arthurian books out there.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2011 11:47 PM GMT

The Princess and the Hound
The Princess and the Hound
by Mette Ivie Harrison
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.33

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great one time read, 23 July 2010
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I thought this was an excellent book, with an extremely well-developed main character in George. He was almost instantly loveable.

The storyline was interesting, and really kept me reading right up until the end. My only critisism would be that perhaps the story wasn't big enough. I kept thinking it was going to start leading up to something huge and exciting, and although exciting and interesting things did happen, it never felt particularly epic, and I guess that's what I was really looking for in this book, which is one of the reasons I've only given it 4 stars.

The other reason would be that I felt the characters of Beatrice and Marit, despite being 'main' characters, perhaps weren't strong enough. I never felt fully attached to either of them.

All in all the storyline is good, never laboured or overdone. It could have done with some more excitement, perhaps more 'dark' elements to the story, but otherwise this is an excellent tale that is worth a read.

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