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Mrs. E. de Jager "Liz" (London)
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Million Dollar Outlines
Million Dollar Outlines

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful!, 7 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Thoroughly enjoyed this - helpful insights and advice and examples. Glad it's on my kindle as it means I can dip in and out of it as I travel too - and being able to do that, the dipping in and out of a "how to" book is important to me - it means I can read sections as standalone without having to re-read what's gone before. I hope that makes sense!


If Snow Hadn't Fallen: A Lacey Flint Short Story
If Snow Hadn't Fallen: A Lacey Flint Short Story
Price: £1.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, SJB does it again - in short form., 9 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I genuinely enjoy reading SJ Bolton's books and this short novella has proved she can do both long form and shorter fiction.

ISHF is a very contemporary novel, featuring one of her previous characters from her novels, Lacey Flint. Lacey sees a man burned alive and races to help him. She sees his murderers but can't identify them because they are wearing masks. As she pulls the threads and sniffs around, a bigger story is revealed and one that lies at the heart of the Muslim community.

Twisty, well written, ISHF is a clever, modern story that's rooted in what we experience here in the UK - it's particularly pertinent to the riots we recently had. It had strange and uncomfortable echoes of that to be honest but SJB manages to never fall into melodrama. And Lacey is such a gutsy cool character. Highly recommended!


Unrest
Unrest
by Michelle Harrison
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A frightening frightener with a great voice, 1 July 2012
This review is from: Unrest (Mass Market Paperback)
Review by Sarah from My Favourite Books:

I don't think it's a secret that I'm a huge fan of Michelle Harrison's books. However, I'm also a terrible scaredy cat so I waited for a nice, bright summer's day (well, sort of summer) to sit down outside and open Unrest. The cover itself is enough to scare the hell out of me with it's browning edges and ghostly figure. However, Elliot has such a distinctive voice that I was hooked in the first few pages. The book starts with an account of his sleep paralysis, out of body experience and a haunting. We start to get to know post-accident Elliot and discover that he's nothing like the confident person he was before. All his previous interests have gone out of the window, he's not eating, sleeping or even washing. He certainly is a tragic figure but although all those around him are looking at him with pity I think the reader can tell that the fight is still inside him - just a hint of the person he once was.

Deciding that he doesn't want to return to college until the next year he gets a job, one that should bring him into contact with ghosts. His theory is that if he sees ghosts anywhere other than his flat then he can start to get a handle on what's going on with his life. He gets a job at a living museum and enters real life for the first time in months. However, it soon becomes apparent that his boss Hodge is seriously unpredictable and prone to fits of anger. His adopted daughter Ophelia is an enigma who draws Elliot's attention. He's not had any interest in girls for months but there's something about her that attracts him. Her previous boyfriend, Sean, ran out on her but she's being plagued by his friends and family wanting to know where he's gone. Ophelia and Elliot are thrown together by escalating events - I was a hundred percent loving their relationship. There are some seriously wonderful kissing scenes in this book. I think these two are my favourite couple of the year.

Unrest is non-stop action from beginning to end. Elliot can step out of his body but doing this means that his body is unguarded so when he returns to find his body gone he realises that he needs to find out more about his talent and quickly. The hauntings are incredibly atmospheric and creepy. I could feel his terror during his sleep paralysis. Little by little Elliot starts to gather his life back together again and part of this is accepting that he won't be the same person he was before. In terms of emotional arcs this one is particularly satisfying. Elliot's in such a low place at the opening of the book that it's almost impossible to see how he's going to get out of his slump. The secondary characters are all wonderful too - Hodge is deliciously awful but I also loved Elliot's dad and brother.

I'll stop now before I gush too much. Just to say that I did not see the twist at the end coming. Unrest is wonderful with a great main character - I urge you to read it!


Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun 1)
Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun 1)
by Mark Charan Newton
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, interesting & ambitous- read it!, 10 Jan 2010
Unfortunately I missed the chance to have a quick chat with Mark at the recent signing hosted by Forbidden Planet due to a work commitment. It's a pity, as I would have liked the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed Nights of Villjamur in person.

In Nights, he's created a world on the cusp of an ice age that is tightening its grip across the lands, freezing oceans and bringing waves of refugees to seek shelter outside of Villjamur's locked gates. Behind these uncaring walls, the shocking murder of a councillor sets an inquisitor on a path that will send him into a world of shadow and intrigue far more deadly than any ice age. Meanwhile, in the distant north, an implacable and mysterious enemy has arisen, insatiable and ruthless, slaughtering it's way across the land.

The characters are well thought out, particularly Jeryd, the inquisitorial investigator. He's a interesting, underestimated character. Shaken out of a mild case of depression, he's plunged into a quagmire of deceit and murder that begins slowly, like a snowball rolling down a long hill. As his story arc unfolds, and others fall into place alongside his, the pace subtly increases until you don't notice the pages turning anymore.

Nights is an epic fantasy chock full of fresh, off the wall ideas, yet Mark manages to keep the heady cocktail of cultists, flying soldiers, zombies, diabolical politicians, albinos and genocide under tight control, nimbly weaving the various storylines together into a satisfying whole.

It's ambitious, interesting and great opening for the Legends of the Red Sun series - bring on part 2!


The Thirteen Treasures (13 Treasures)
The Thirteen Treasures (13 Treasures)
by Michelle Harrison
Edition: Paperback

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A more-ish read!, 15 Jan 2009
The novel introduces us to Tanya who has some issues, apart from being harassed by fairies, her mother believes that she is being particularly difficult (mostly because of the pranks the fairies play), therefore sending her off to live with a grandmother she's never warmed to in a manor house that can be described as gloomy, at the best of times.

I found the novel a bit self-conscious to start with, there was a hesitancy there for the first few pages, but once the author gets into the swing of things, Tanya's adventure is full blown and it is a hairy one!

Her life at the manor house is stilted - there is no warmth from her grandmother, her days are spent avoiding the forest outside the door and trying not to draw the attention of Fabian, the grounds keeper's son. Fabian is an interesting creation and I found him very well drawn, with insecurities a mile long, a stubbornness and a weirdness, that was both endearing and a bit alarming.

Together Fabian and Tanya unravel the story of the girl that went missing in the forest, all those years ago. Fabian feels harassed by its memory - it's directly affected his family, turning his grandfather, Amos, into an unpleasant old man, locked away on the second floor of the manor house.

Throw in Fabian's dad who watches them with an eagle's eye, warning them to stay out of the forest, toss in the rumours of the hidden tunnels that run from the manor house into the small adjacent town, add into the mix mysterious disappearances of very young children in the area, pinch in a Tanya's own second sight ability which is both a curse and blessing, stir in the mystery surrounding the original owners of the manor house, fold in the weird gypsy lady who lives in the forest whose presence is a constant reminder that all is not well in the area, place in the oven and bake to perfection until you get a book with several ingredients, pulling together to make a hearty satisfying read.

I enjoyed it - I thought it was satisfyingly dark with the author reworking the Victorian image we have about fairies, shining a new light on them, their courts, making them a bit more sinister, turning them into proper adversaries to go up against Tanya and Fabian.

So much goes on in this novel that I can't even begin to put it all together into this review as it will spoil the fun you will have reading it.

I hate doing "if you like" recommendations BUT am happy to say that if you liked Holly Black's Tithe, Valiant and Ironside you will enjoy The Thirteen Treasures. Similarly, if you read Emma Bull's Finder or Midori Snyder's Hannah's Garden you will thrill to The Thirteen Treasures.


The Lost Throne
The Lost Throne
by Chris Kuzneski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Adventure, 1 Dec 2008
This review is from: The Lost Throne (Paperback)
One of my absolute favourites novel types, by one of my favourite authors. Chris Kuzneski has snuck into the adventure and UK market with two of his other books, The Sign of the Cross and Sword of God.

The boys, as I fondly refer to Jonathan Payne and his colleague and good friend, David Jones, reprise their roles as adventurers (one time military men with Payne being the leader of an elite special forces team) in this non-stop action novel about missing treasure, where Chi does indeed mark the spot, eccentric historians, deadly warriors who cling to an ancient way of life, crazy Kafka drinking Finns, an Interpol agent and mysterious Greek Orthodox Monks.

The reason why the two main characters work so well (this being Payne and Jones) is that their banter is such fun to read. The dialogue had me on more than one occasion laughing out loud. They form a good unit, complimenting each other's strengths whilst working towards negating their weaknesses.

In this instance Jones and Payne find themselves in St Petersburg (Russia) helping Alison uncover the mystery surrounding the death of her employer Richard Byrd. I have to say that the author knows how to tease out the clues, set up scenes and create an atmosphere of Bourne-like thrill and adventure, even if you are sitting on your train commuting into work. The action moves from St Petersburg to Greece at breakneck speed as the clues are reasoned out and the next stage of the plot is revealed.

What I loved about this is that the author walks away from the now tired set-up of the Crusades, Templars, blood of Christ and Mary Magdalene, the scripture, lost scrolls in the Holy Land etc., and has found a new enigma for our seekers to hunt. It makes a brilliant change and allows other parts of history to be examined by readers who might not be as familiar with the "new" treasures being sought.

I found the history of the Lost Throne very entertaining and genuinely enjoyed how the author incorporated a well known eccentric historian, Heinrich Schliemann (he "discovered" Troy and Mycenae) who used Homer's books as inspiration for his discoveries, into the storyline.

I am hesitant to make comparisons, but I can't help but point out that if you like Scott Mariani, Steve Berry, (the most dreaded comparison of all) Dan Brown, Will Adams, David Gibbins and Sam Bourne, then you will thoroughly love and enjoy Chris Kuzneski's The Lost Throne.

It is a well researched novel and it takes an interesting (and I hope fictional) view of an ancient warrior society in Greece. I found that the author treated the monastic society in the Aegean with great care, never vilifying them, which made a nice and interesting change from a reader's point of view, leaving you with enough information in the novel, to make your own mind up. I really am looking forward to the next novel as there will be repercussions from the end of this one to follow through. (note to author: hurry up and write!)

I would highly recommend reading The Lost Throne for good escapist fun, especially if you like your adventure stories with good dollops of history, lost treasure and a bit of conjecture.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2012 8:00 PM BST


The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1) (Demon Trilogy 1)
The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1) (Demon Trilogy 1)
by Peter V. Brett
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut!, 21 Sep 2008
The Painted Man is unputdownable. I resented having to leave it to the side whilst I was at work. I eventually finished reading it last after a marathon three hour session from eleven pm to one am. I couldn't bear not knowing what happened.

The thing about Mr. Brett is...he writes in a very visual way, cinematic even. I got the impression that he knew this world and his characters so well, he probably has conversations with them and a multitude of small maps to plot and plan the layouts of the cities and tiny hamlets the villagers visit.

The story is character driven, all the way. My favourite character of the three main characters the author chose to run with, has to be Arlen whom we meet as a young boy. Through Arlen we are introduced to the corelings, demons that rise as soon as the sun sets. We learn of the terror, the fear and the wholesale belief that one day a Deliverer will arise once again, like in the days of old. I loved the way we are taught this by a travelling entertainer who accompanies a Messenger to the small town Arlen grows up in. It was a very clever way of handing you the information on a platter, without it being too obvious. Arlen's subsequent flight and realisation that some men fight and some men crumble in the face of adversity is a valuable lesson and a shocking revelation. His escape from the small town to one of the Free Cities is fraught with incredible danger and makes for interesting reading. If, you are concerned about boring stories of eleven year olds growing up and being apprenticed, fear not! Yes, this is what happens but it is handled with skill and ease and before you know it, you are more than halfway through the book.

Leesha's character as healer could so easily have turned into a parody. Peter V Brett reigns himself in very tightly when writing Leesha. She could have easily been his biggest mistake in the book. But we find a strong, interesting young girl who decides to fight against what is expected of her and she chooses to march to a completely different drum. If you've ever read any of Robin Hobb's books, you will know the intense characters she creates, to the extent where you want to throw your hands up in despair because their situations just seem so dire that there is NO way they will ever get out of it, alive. I felt this way when reading about Leesha, initially but I am really happy to say that she gets out of it alive and...well, you know, go buy the book and find out.

When Rojet was introduced, I immediately thought: the last one to join the away team, which means cannon fodder. Don't get too attached. But I couldn't help it. Rojet is a true innocent initially and goes through absolute hell as a baby. He becomes a young apprentice Jongleur in one of the free cities and is beaten up on a regular basis by other performers' apprentices. But he keeps coming back and remains a true and honourable person, caring for his drunkard of a master and seeking to better himself.

I enjoyed watching the story unfold and getting to know these characters. Because you spend so much time with them, you really do get to know them well. The story runs at a good pace and because the writing is so fluent, you don't notice it. Once the three characters join up, prepare for an insane ride to the end of the book. A memorable battle ensues, friendships are forged, and quite a few storyhooks are tied up...but not all of them because, my friends, there is more to come!

The Painted Man is a strong debut from Peter V Brett and it promises to fill out the ranks of the fantasy genre in a very satisfactory way. If you like books by Scott Lynch, Mike Carey, Robin Hobb, Fiona MacIntosh and Karen Miller, you have to go and buy a copy of The Painted Man. The characters are rendered in strong vivid strokes and the world-building is very cleverly plotted. Importantly the action sizzles and fizzes and the scenes run together seamlessly, even when the years are between the chapters are indicated.


The Last Angel: A Kayla Steel Novel (Kayla Steele)
The Last Angel: A Kayla Steel Novel (Kayla Steele)
by Natasha Rhodes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.13

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new author and characther to watch!, 18 Sep 2008
One thing is quite clear from the onset - Natasha Rhodes is here to stay. A "new" author in the paranormal / urban fantasy genre, she cut her teeth working on the movie novelisations and tie ins including Blade: Trinity, Nightmare on Elm Street: Perchance to Dream.

This has clearly stood her in good stead. The girl knows how to spin a good yarn and she clearly loves Los Angeles, there is even mention of the Viper Room!

In retrospect, I should have read Dante's Girl first, as initially not a lot of the story made sense to me as I started off. But then, gradually on my part (erm, meh?) the light dawned on a few things and I got into the swing of the story as matters were explained (by a very patient author) for nitwits like me. And I loved every jot of it. Some of the storyline and references are still obscure, but that will be remedied once I've read Dante, so to be honest, that is my only gripe.

Natasha has a definite writer's skill - she writes at a tremendous pace and does expect you to keep up. The brutality is real, the characters are strong and punchy and Kayla is quite real in her "innocence" (for a lack of a better word). We get pulled deeper into the world of the Hunters as their animosities, loyalties etc. get played out against a background of a Constantine-like Los Angeles. When the book came to an end I frantically paged right to the back thinking, waitaminute! where's the rest? Sadly, we have to wait a little more for the next instalment. This however, is no hardship because, like all good books, this one can do with a re-reading. And trust me, it will go onto the TBRA pile!

Especially once I've got Dante under the belt. Who, by the way, does sound...scrummy!

If you love Blade, Constantine, Van Helsing, Kim Harris, Kat Richardson and Mike Carey, you will like Natasha Rhodes.

She writes vividly and the storyline is just that different to keep your attention, as is Kayla as a main character. There is tremendous scope to grow the character and the general storyline and I really do look forward to seeing what else Natasha has up her sleeve.

She is definitely an author to watch out for!


The Aviary Gate
The Aviary Gate
by Katie Hickman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £0.77

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fiction, 23 May 2008
This review is from: The Aviary Gate (Hardcover)
I loved this and will recommend it highly to any of my friends who enjoy historical fiction. It is lush, sexy, shocking and a thrilling read. Set during two time-frames, present day and 1599, it follows the story of Celia Lamprey a slave to the Sultan of the Ottoman empire. Hot on her heels, to discover if she was a genuine person, is the academic Elizabeth. We follow both women on their searches and find out much more than dry historic books would have you believe.

The style of writing is languorous and beautifully descriptive - it matches the setting perfectly. It gives a fascinating insight in how the west perceives harems and what goes on behind the scenes.

All I can say is: find a copy, read it and then see what you think about it. Some people, like the previous reviewer, would not like it, but others, like me, will love it, purely because the style is so very different.

Katie Hickman is a fantastic researcher and has written some excellent books, notably her Daughters of Britannia book which excels at giving a voice to women who are seen in so many instances, but hardly ever heard.


Broken
Broken
by Daniel Clay
Edition: Paperback

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rising New Writing, 5 Mar 2008
This review is from: Broken (Paperback)
I really enjoyed Broken. I laughed and I cried. Daniel Clay's created a roller coaster of a ride in this book. I've personally always thought my next-door neighbours are a bit, well, intense. It seems like Daniel took them, relocated them, roughed them up even more, gave them horns and sent them out into the world. They make a starring role as the Oswalds in Broken. They are a family from hell. Nothing can touch them, it seems. The kids run riot, bullying, stealing and intimidating, throwing reckless parties and getting stoned. The dad does all of these things, including beating people up, like teachers and neighbours.

On the other hand we have a very shy young man, Rick Buckley who becomes the Broken in the title. Because of an accusation from one of the Oswald girls, he snaps in a very tragic and heartbreaking way. He becomes a recluse. And this is only the start of his and everyone else's nightmare.

Watching all of this, is Skunk Cunningham. Who is a very endearing and genuine heroine. The book opens with her in a coma...and slowly but surely she teases the story out and you can't help but fall straight into it.

Broken is written in an intelligent and hyper-real way. No matter where you live, who you are, or what you do, you will find reflections of your own life in here. The style is very easy to read. Once you realise exactly what is happening, you feel helpless and have to sit it through, watching the inevitable onrushing train and desperately hoping that you can bail out.

Daniel Clay has a tremendous talent. He strings the reader along expertly and introduces the characters, their motivations and aspirations clearly. It becomes a bit of a fly on the wall documentary on everyday people's lives. It looks at relationships, the society we live in and makes interesting comments and observations about everyday mundane happenings that never occur to you to think about twice.

I really recommend this book. If, for instance, you liked The Lovely Bones, you will love this. I hate comparing books to one another, to be honest, but because this is a book that deserves to be read widely, you will have to somehow encourage the existing audience to do so. It is much funnier than The Lovely Bones, it is very British and very much what is happening today.

I will definitely not just recommend this book to friends, but will probably also be the one buying it for them for presents.


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