Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza

Many thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me this advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review. I'm sorry that it's somewhat late!

I've heard and seen a lot of good things about The Girl in the Ice. People seem to absolutely love it. I am always a little apprehensive around new writers when I see only good things about them. In fact, I worry that I will get my hopes up and have them dashed as I have many times before! Nevertheless, I dove into this book head-first and became fully submerged in the plot.

When a young woman's body, found in the grounds of the Horniman Museum in London,  is identified as that of a missing socialite, it's up to DCI Erika Foster to try and solve this case along with her team. However, she faces difficulties at every turn. The father of the dead girl wants to determine the direction the case goes in as he is part of the Establishment, and her recent past haunts her. She will even have very close encounters with the murderer. The only questions are just who is the killer, and will Erika find him in time to save her career...and her life.

There is a lot of tension throughout the novel, right from the beginning. The writer really draws the reader into the story, having created an atmosphere that electrifies the senses. He has clearly done his research into London as well with all the streets and even the sewers being brought into focus. As fr the characters, they are all so colourful and brilliantly focused. I really hated Sparks early on, and the girl's father comes across as an arrogant jerk as well. The plot is quick to move on, and I found myself finding it very hard to put down this book. I finished it in 2 days and wanted more!

The only real negative was the predictability of the plot. I guessed the killer about 20% of the way through, although I did have my doubts on several occasion about other characters. Otherwise, this was an excellent book and I will be looking out for the sequel!

Star rating: 4 from 5

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Friday, 26 August 2016

Reindeer People Duology by Megan Lindholm

A lot of people don't realise that Robin Hobb, the famous fantasy writer, wrote books under another pen name. Her writing as Megan Lindholm is very different in its style and content, but is equally as good to read. Her Reindeer People duology is a very well written pair of books which i read in 4 days.

The Reindeer People

In this well crafted first part, we are introduced to the main characters and their problems. Tillu has run from one group, with her strange son in tow, followed by the shamanand are camping in a clearing in a forest in the sub-arctic. Here they meet Heckram and his semi-nomadic group of reindeer herders which includes Joboam, a truly nasty human being. Tillu has to decide whether to join the group as their healer, or live alone with her son in the wilderness.



Wolf's Brother

The sequel to The Reindeer People sees Heckram and Tillu facing many struggles amongst the herdfolk, solving a murder, healing the dying and trying to save Tillu's son from the shaman. The plot can only lead one way, towards a confrontation that will endanger all their lives.



The books are easy to read and not excessively long...only around 620 pages. The characters are complex but relatable in their ways and feelings and the plot races along like a run away reindeer. The storyline itself is not my usual taste, but I thoroughly enjoyed this mini series!

Star ratings:
The Reindeer People - 4 from 5
Wolf's Brother - 3.5 from 5

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Lion Children by Angus, Maisie & Travers McNeice

It's not everyday you come across a non-fiction book that is better than many novels in it's story. It's especially rare to find books written by children r teenagers. It is once in a lifetime that both of these rare treats are combined in one amazing book. This is one of those moments!

My wife recommended that I read The Lion Children after she had read it herself. I put it off slightly because I had books that, for me, were more important. I now wish I had read this first (especially before Battlefield Earth!). It tells the true story of a family who relocate to Botswana and move out into the African bush. Told in the children's own style and words, it describes their life in some details, like being bitten by snakes, corralling crocodiles, and, of course, their work with the lions of the Okavango Delta. It tells of their loses and gains, the knowledge they learn, and how they learnt it, as well as giving some fascinating insights into the lives of the majestic big cat.

The important thing to remember with this book is that it is written by children, not by adults and, although it has been edited, it retains the words the children chose to use. It is also very easy to read (I read it in a day, but I had time). I would also like to add that we can all learn a thing or two from these amazing children and the life they lead.

If you love nature and want to know what it is like to live out in the wilderness, and especially if you are considering moving to Africa anytime in the future, this book is definitely for you!

Star rating: 5 from 5 - Wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh o-wim-o-weh

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Monday, 15 August 2016

The Dragon Under My House by Maria Barnes

Every now and then, I come across some lovely novellas and short stories on Kindle. The Dragon Under My House, written by Maria Barnes fits into this category perfectly.

One night, Ellie dreams that she meets a strange, talking catcalled David and travels into an unfinished story with him to help rescue it. Only, it's not truly a dream. Together, they travel to different books, rescuing the plot from abandonment and destruction caused by one man, known as Black Knight, Sorcerer, wizard or stranger, depending on the story. Can they save every book they attempt? And just who is David, anyway?

This is a lovely story, written with a lot of heart. It's also quite clever, and funny too. The plot is clever, the characters fairly bold, and the writing helps the plot along nicely. I especially enjoyed the interaction between David and Ellie. In many ways, David reminded me of the Doctor, and that isn't the only reference...I guess the writer is a fan!

Although it is by no means perfect, it is a great first book from a promising young writer. I can even imagine her sitting at her computer as she wrote this story, especially the climactic finale!

Star rating: 4 from 5

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If you want to buy this book, it is currently only available for Kindle through the Amazon website. The UK link is here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01EXF6M0O

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Galaxy Press, for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

In 2000, I watched possibly the worst movie ever made. Starring John Travolta, Battlefield Earth was expected to be fantastic. The book had been one of the best selling sci-fi novels when it was published originally in 1982 and hopes were very high, but the adaptation was awful. Given the opportunity to read the book myself for the first time, I thought to myself "how bad can it be?"...

Quite frankly, the book is nothing special. It is just over 1000 pages of average writing, average plot and pretty average characters. In fact, the only word to describe this is average! I found the plot to be a little to contrived in places, to get the main character into more and more unlikely situations which he would always, eventually, wriggle his way out of. I found myself, at times hoping Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (which sounds like a name for a dog, to be frank!) would have some kind of slip and suffer a lot more, and I was even routing for Terl, a monstrous alien known as a Psychlo, in the first half of the book.

The basic premise is that it is the year 3000. human-kind is almost extinct and the planet has been taken over by a the Psychlos. They are monsters from the living humans' knowledge, weighing 1000 lbs, around twice our height, with claws and skin which is very tough. Even the weakest is stronger than any human ever. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, a young man from a village in the Rockies, tries to find proof that there were ancient cities on the plains and finds Denver, where is is captured by Terl. The story then really begins, but there seems to be a formula...every time Jonnie solves one crisis, another emerges, threatening the whole planet many times over.

The idea for the book isn't bad, in fact, I like the premise very much, but the way it has been written and constructed left me feeling a little frustrated. Had the book been a trilogy instead of a single volume, it would have made more sense, but for me it was as monstrous as the Psychlos. Too big, and all show...

Star rating: 3 from 5 - as average as average can be!