Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Note

A quick note to my readers to say that I will be returning soon. A few things happened in RL in September that meant blogging had to take a back seat. I have been reading, so I have no shortage of material for review. 😉

Thank you for your patience!

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Defying Drakon by Carole Mortimer: review

Defying DrakonDefying Drakon by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Drakon Lyonedes has it all: power, wealth, sex appeal…and any woman he wants! Until the beautiful Gemini Bartholomew steps into his life, that is…Confronting him over his plan to turn her family home into a hotel, Gemini intrigues Drakon. The problem? Long-term just isn’t in this infamously arrogant tycoon’s vocabulary—and Gemini is a virgin who surely wants more than one night of sizzling, scorching passion…?

She’s determined to defy him, but whose willpower will prove the strongest?

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Defying Drakon is published by Mills and Boon, so it’s no spoiler to reveal that boy gets girl! This is a slightly more realistic relationship plot than others I have read recently. For instance, Gemini, the heroine, has a shop and employs an assistant, so life went on there during the predictable “whisking away” of heroine by hero, the eponymous Drakon.

As usual, the whole book takes place in the space of 2 – 3 weeks: from complete strangers to soulmates in under 21 days! I think (it’s been quite some time since I read the book) they also got a marriage licence in record time. Marry in haste, repent at leisure springs to mind!

I bought Defying Drakon – only because I didn’t get round to cancelling my subscription in time to prevent shipment, as I had intended. I don’t recall any of the usual M&B printing glitches – no incorrect names anywhere!

I recommend Defying Drakon to all Mills and Boon lovers; it is a good example of the genre.

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I’m claiming this book as No. 57/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
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The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke: review

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

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How good is The Assassin’s Curse? It’s so good I read it in a day!

The Assassin’s Curse is an otherworld fantasy story that can hold its own with the best of the genre. The Assassin’s Curse has about it the feel of Robin Hobb – although this instalment is shorter than one of a Robin Hobb trilogy, however, I suspect that there will be four or five books in this series (if you read The Assassin’s Curse, let me know if you agree!). Since I really want to know what happens next and how Ananna and Naji deal with the challenges they’ve been given, I shall be keeping a watch on Strange Chemistry’s blog for the next in series, although since The Assassin’s Curse isn’t released until October 2012, I suspect I will have a bit of a wait!

The story begins with our heroine running away from her betrothing ceremony – and I can’t say I blame her. Thus begin her adventures and her meeting with the eponymous assassin. One of the things that I particularly liked was that  it has a strong female lead. It’s funny how fantasy books much more often have strong, independent female leads than a number of other genres. Perhaps that’s why I’ve read fantasy (and Sci-Fi) books since I was a girl. One of my favourite authors was Andre Norton; Ms Clarke is most definitely in Ms Norton’s league.

The adventures the pair of unwilling co-travellers share follow logically from one to another, although there were a few points when I felt there was a tad too much running around without purpose and without Ananna and Naji growing further. I think there may have been some over-exuberant editing or revising around the storm sequence, since the plot progression got a little mushy around there. For me, a veteran of many sail-era naval novels, the lack of detail in, and slightly inaccurate, telling of the actions on board ship (I am being intentionally vague to avoid giving any of the story away) was a minor irritation – a very minor one. I would have liked more details about the Isles of the Sky – my mental pictures there was rather sketchy.

The telling of the developing relationship between Ananna and Naji is mostly well done – and I enjoyed that it is not too much of a formulaic romance. All of the characters are well drawn and believable. I hope we meet the wizard again – he is a character with much potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Assassin’s Curse and found the standard of world building by Ms Clarke to be well executed. I would have liked a little more detail on the various peoples and their cultures & religions to be worked into the tale. Had the book been somewhat longer, this and the other additions I have mentioned could have been included. The key to adding these details is to do it as part of the story and not for the author to tell the reader directly. I suspect that the publishers, Strange Chemistry, have a standrd format in which they publish and that the books they publish are edited to this format. I hope that as time goes by, they are able to offer a range of book formats (i.e. lengths).

I really liked the cover…the script’s font and the skyline are reminiscent of ancient Arabia and get the reader in the right frame of mind for the world they are about to visit.

I think this is a debut novel for Cassandra Rose Clarke and I have great hopes for her future books.

I thank Strange Chemistry for my opportunity to read The Assassin’s Curse, as a NetGalley ARC for kindle. I also thank them for introducing me to a new (to me) author. Details of the release dates for The Assassin’s Curse can be found in my WOW post.

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I’m claiming this book as No. 121/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 6 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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I particularly liked was that

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings: review

PoltergeeksPoltergeeks by Sean Cummings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection.

In fact, there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.

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Poltergeeks is a YA witch-themed fantasy novel that will appeal to fantasy fans of all ages. It is a fast-paced and absorbing. book I really didn’t want to put Poltergeeks down, but I had to do that in order to sleep.

Sean Cummings spins a fabulous yarn, with vivid descriptions of the phenomena and battles. The various relationships are described in realistic terms; I felt that all of them rang true and were consistent throughout the book. I’m very impressed at how well this middle-aged Blackburn Rovers fan got inside a 15-year-old girl’s head. Or should I be worried…LOL…seriously, whilst reading Poltergeeks I imagined a female author, the “voice” was that good.

There are a few really clichéd phrases uttered by the characters, along with some pretty cringeworthy phrases, but somehow they fit. Marcus is a stereotypical geek, and is bullied by a stereotypical jock, but I found I was able to ignore those formulaic bits. The witchy parts of the book are well worked out, and consistent. The story itself is internally consistent: it is set in the Calgary of the here and now – how wonderful to have a book set outside the US! There’s nothing wrong with the US, it’s just nice to be treated to a different locale – and takes the view that magic is all around us but most people don’t notice it. Witches are charged with keeping the rest of humanity safe from the “bad guys”. These two aspects – normal everyday and magical – are expertly woven together. Since Julie, our heroine, has been kept in the dark about many magical society details for most of her life, we learn about the rich details of the society with her. This kept the book interesting; I wanted to know more, I made guesses based on the clues received so far and was not bored when we got to the explanations because they happened as part of the story, either as direct speech or as part of the action rather than large passages of exposition directly from the author to the reader.

Poltergeeks absolutely races along, sometimes leaving the reader almost out of breath; there are few points where the reader thinks “Ah! I can put the book down knowing all are safe for a bit”. I admit that partway through, I worked out who – but I didn’t see the why. This looping interweaving sleight-of-hand part of the book was wonderfully woven.

In addition to discovering a new (to me) author, I’ve also discovered a new imprint: Strange Chemistry, who have some fantastic books coming out over the next six months – keep your eyes open for them: check out my WoW posts for details. Details of the release dates of Poltergeeks are also given on the website.

Thank you Sean for an excellent read. Thank you Strange Chemistry for approving me to receive a NetGalley ARC of Poltergeeks. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to subsequent books.

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I’m claiming this book as No. 120/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 5 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay: review

The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery by Gay Hendricks

Tenzing Norbu (“Ten” for short)–ex-monk and soon-to-be ex-cop–is a protagonist unique to our times. In “The First Rule of Ten,” the first installment in a three-book detective series, readers meet this spiritual warrior who is singularly equipped, if not occasionally ill-equipped, as he takes on his first case as a private investigator in Los Angeles.

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I sent out a request to the Universe that I might be allow to win this book – and it was with much gratitude that I received this book as a First Reads prize.

I really wanted to read The First Rule of Ten when it arrived but practised a little delayed gratification as I completed some overdue reviews and read some author-gifted books I had agreed to review. Then finally, I could wait no longer. Once I started the book, I found it difficult to put down and after a couple of restrained sessions, I polished off the majority of the book in four hours one Saturday morning.

The First Rule of Ten is superbly written, peopled with detailed, well-drawn characters and has a multi-layered ‘who is the puppeteer pulling the strings?’ plot that moves along at a clip but without leaving the reader behind.

The whole concept of a Buddhist ex-monk (the term ex-Buddhist monk didn’t ring true to me, since Ten is clearly still a Buddhist at heart) who becomes an LAPD cop was so intriguing – and the explanation of his journey from one to another is gradually uncovered and expanded throughout the book. It is a delightful and realistic reveal that would happen if you actually met Ten. He is a warm and compassionate human being, who although flawed (aren’t we all?!) is aware, thanks to his monk’s training, of how these flaws are made manifest., He therefore works to guard against many of them, whilst accepting and acknowledging others, such as his love of his car.

The reader is able to learn from Ten, but the lessons are those of observation and never stray into that annoying realm where authors, via their characters, preaches at the reader. Instead, here the lessons are laid out in front of us and, like those presented by life, it is for us to choose to learn from them. It is well, in this situation, to remember, as we learn from the book, the First Rule of Ten: Don’t ignore the tickle …

This is an excellent book on all front and I am grateful to have read it. I thank the authors for making the book available through First Reads and the universe/random winner generator for picking me!

I’m claiming this book as No. 84/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge;  and No.4 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops: review

Salsa InvertebraxaSalsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shortlisted for Best Graphic Novel 2012 by the Aurealis Awards, Salsa Invertebraxa is a storybook unlike any other, an Alice in Wonderland for insects, set in an imaginary world as two tiny companions set out on an odyssey of discovery. With one antenna listening out for vast armies competing for dominance on the forest floor, the two friends encounter strange new species of insect among surreal gardens of terrestrial delights. At nightfall, their mischief takes on a mysterious and foreboding turn as they attempt to steal eggs from monstrous super-predators, disturbing the fragile tranquillity of this bizarre Eden. (Images from the book at http://www.behance.net/gallery/Salsa-Invertebraxa-(A-Graphic-Novel)/2349816).

After an incubation of 15 years, Mozchops has exquisitely crafted over 200 paintings to tell this story of a beautiful and dangerous world..

Salsa Invertebraxa is currently only available from the publisher’s website. Go to http://www.pecksniffpress.com/ordering.html for details.

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I am not a big fan of graphic novels. I wasn’t a big comic reader as a child. I feel I need to make these confessions up-front in this review.

Thus it was when I realised that I had won Salsa Invertabraxa in the Goodreads First Reads competition, I wasn’t particularly excited, rather a little curious and a tad guilty that I might not properly appreciate it.

When the book arrived, all the way from Hong Kong, expertly packaged in a box rather than an envelope, I sneaked a quick peak before I got home. The cover artwork only hints at the treasures within.

I read the whole book after dinner that night: twice. Salsa Invertabraxa is a fantastic object: a work of art; a primer in ecological systems; a treatise on the cycle of life; and the story of a pair of friends with the outlook on life of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I have nothing but admiration for Mozchops. This is patently the result of a labour of love.

Each page is 290 mm by 240 mm in size and every square millimetre is superbly illustrated. There are various frames and insets used throughout the book to bring different parts of the forest into sharper focus or juxtaposition with the main scene. I found the repeated motif of the ants and other forest floor dwellers quite apposite and somewhat disturbing. The detail in the drawings is astonishing – the amount of thought that has gone into the planning and preparation and the technical skill of execution blend perfectly. The artwork really is amazing; beautifully detailed and excellently imagined and executed.

The images are close enough to real life to be recognisable, yet different enough to be magical. The story is simple in outline, but amazingly detailed and complex in execution – just like life.

I found that I treated the book with a reverence, not wanting to crease the pages or get smudgy fingerprints across the pictures. It is a thing of beauty and wonder, all the more so to me for my lack of expectations. I am truly delighted to have received this gift.

There are few words in Salsa Invertabraxa – haven’t counted them, but I would not be surprised to find I have written more in this review. Those that do appear, serve to guide the reader’s thoughts and perceptions gently towards the tale in each picture. What I particularly liked was that Mozchops did not confine the words to a particular place on the page, nor within boundaries or bubbles. The size, font and colour of the words changed to suit the scene, as did the position; the positioning helped determine how much of the scene I looked at before reading the words.

Salsa Invertabraxa is not an action story, rather it is the story of life writ drawn large. It is a work to be savoured, upon which to reflect and to which to return.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to think. I feel that its pages could be used, mandala-like, to lead one into meditation. The illustrations contain beauty, symmetry and colour; speak of life and death, of nature red in tooth and claw, of the exuberance of youth, and the daring of friends working together.

I am so pleased that I won Salsa Invertabraxa and I thank Mozchops (and the Goodreads pixies) for the chance to enjoy his work. It has a treasured place in my collection and I shall read it again, soon.

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I’m claiming this book as No. 55/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
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Sunburnt by M. D. Keating: review

SunburntSunburnt by M.D. Keating

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An unemployed alcoholic writer, coping with the death of his father, is unwittingly drawn into a scandal of EPIC proportions, when his estranged childhood best friend, now a very successful offshore banker, disappears with BILLIONS of dollars that don’t belong to him … Follow our unlikely hero through a collage of rogue characters into a dangerous world of CORRUPTION, GREED, DRUGS, ARMS, and WAR …

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Sunburnt is nicely printed and bound, with easy-on-the-eye text. When I flicked through the book after opening my package at work, my first thought was “Oh heck, it’s a play!”, but I started at the beginning on page 5 (I’ve wondered since I was small why some books start numbering the story pages by counting the leaves in the book…) and by the time I got to page 7, I was hooked!

I had to stop to cook tea, feed the cats and so on, but I finished the book in around 24 hours elapsed time.  It is an excellent fast-paced book. I found the layout easy to read; the centre justification was different without being distracting.  Being a very visual person, this novel way of laying out a book really appealed to me.

The story itself was interesting; I found the change of viewpoint that came from the introduction of different interleaved characters refreshing. I enjoyed the twists of the plot and I really cared about the characters and wanted the best for them. The ending tied up all loose ends to my satisfaction.

All in all, a great read and one I would recommend to anyone.

Thank you M.D. and Goodreads for picking me to receive Sunburnt in the Goodreads Giveaway.

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I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
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Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens: review

Horses of the Sun (Outback Riders, #1)Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sunhaven Downs, a drought ravaged cattle station in outback Australia, is the home of Dane, Lani and Matthew Winter, three young outback riders whose lives revolve around their horses. When their city cousin, Amy King, comes to live with them for a year and declares she hates horses, they know their year will be ruined. What they don’t know is that Amy has a secret – a secret she is desperate to keep from her outback family, something that will ultimately save their lives on the night the drought breaks.

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I read this delightful book in an afternoon. I thought it was well written, although the “she didn’t realise that she would need this when disater struck” comments at the end of each of the early chapters were a little annoying. The plot moved along nicely with most of the actions staying within the bounds of reality. I found some of the “epilogue” actions a little unlikely, but hey, it all felt good!

I enjoyed reading this book although it is aimed mostly at the 10-14 year old market.  It is well written, with a clear plot and good characterisation.  The plot is outside the ordinary but is close enough to most people’s “real life” that it will be understood by the target audience (and they’ll all want to be Amy!).

Some of the episodes involve high drama and some difficult subjects.  These are dealt with in a straight-forward yet senstive manner.

I was particularly impressed with Leanne’s portrayal of Amy’s emotional life.  I thought Any’s reactions to events was very realistic and typical for her character.

The language of the book does not patronise its readers, and yet explains all the important parts to those who may not be familiar with them.  This is a delicate balancing act well executed.

This is exactly to sort of book I devoured as a child and I’m sure will be loved by today’s children.  It took me back to my chidhood when I hunted for new books in the “Brumby” series at my local library.  I think I may have one or two copies (bought in the library sales) stowed away in my childhood book boxes.  I may have to dig them out and read them again!

I may be persuaded to lend my copy of Horses of the Sun to my horse-mad neices! I shall look out for more books by Leanne.

I received this book after winning a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks Leanne.

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I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 3 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
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Echos at Dawn by Kathleen Ann Gallagher: review

Echoes at DawnEchoes at Dawn by Kathleen Ann Gallagher

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The strangely intertwined lives of a widowed woman, and a charismatic bachelor come together in order to show that in life, there are no coincidences… only destiny.

Waterfront restaurant chef Madeline Young adores her job. If only her love and family’s lives were as successful as her career. With a teenage son, who spends time in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning and a dementia-plagued mother, Madeline doesn’t know how much more she could handle. Then her mother enlists the help of her deceased twin sister, Mary, to guide Madeline to find true happiness. An early dawn visit from the spirit directs Madeline to volunteer at the local hospitals center for addiction recovery, where she comes alive for the first time in many years under the attention of Nat Griffin.

Nathaniel Griffin, a part-time counselor and contractor, fascinates his clients with his lectures. In keeping with his philosophy of professionalism, Nat prefers to keep his personal life private. When attraction tests his beliefs, Nat must confront his marred past. Is he willing to face his demons or take the easier path and remain isolated?

Can unworldly ghosts save this couple from their own self-destructive behavior?

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For those of a delicate disposition, I’ll warn you now that this is not a positive review. It’s a while since I read this book, and my original review appears under my Goodreads account. I’m doing some catching up on reviews on my blog and this book has come to the top of the pile.

I downloaded the ebook from Amazon when rummaging through the free ebooks there; the blurb intrigued me – the set up isn’t a standard love story (although I suspected that there would be a love story in there). I wasn’t expecting high literature; but I was expecting an interesting, thoughtful, and entertaining read. Boy, was I disappointed.

When I got to 7% in I was seriously wondering if I could bear to read the rest. I was not impressed with the writing, feeling that there was no flow whatsoever and no character interest. Quite frankly, I didn’t like the main characters. Why is a 40+ widowed mother of three obsessed with dating? [Ed’s Note: before all the middle aged ladies get up in arms, I should point out I’m close to that age myself and not a twenty-something who thinks things like that stop when one turns 30!]. She wants to start a restaurant, but doesn’t have time…because of her dating, it seems, which only makes her miserable. I decided to persevere and see if it improved.

The next day, I’d made it as far as 12% and decided that life is way too short to spend time reading such badly written drivel. Most of the time, the author failed to make her point since she seems unable to paint pictures, even simple ones, with words. She clearly does not understand the rich layering of stories made possible by using tenses to convey things happening in the story, instead she uses a mixed of the perfect and present throughout, whatever the relative temporal location of the events. In this case, the story would be better told in the perfect and pluperfect, since the events take place in the immediate past and more distant past. Since the story has a bunch of character-told flashbacks, there really ought to be a far bit of pluperfect about…but there wasn’t (“It was time for me to leave; I saw enough for one day”), just lots of present tense. This makes things both confusing and gives a child-like quality to the prose.

The author seems unable to tell a flowing story. Sentences are rarely more than 10 words long. They jump from one subject to another in a single paragraph. This make the story very jerky. This paragraph is intentionally very jerky! Her biography at the end is similarly disjointed. It becomes impossible to follow the events of any one scene, let alone follow a plot.

When Ms Gallagher does try to write longer paragraphs using commas – I skipped to the last page to find some- they are incorrectly used and lead to a muddled sentence.

At around 10-12% in, the main character Madeline, goes to the hospital for her volunteer training. At least I think that’s what is going on; it was unclear whether Nat’s talk was a orientation session for volunteers or patients. On a ward with locked doors and buzzer entry, Madeline is not asked to sign in and allowed to wander around the ward unsupervised, yet meets no patients. I couldn’t work out why the staff ignored her or why she didn’t speak to the staff. It seemed odd that the counsellor in a rehab centre would carry and smoke cigars on ward. Whilst in the ward we are told by Madeline, “I counted the moments until my orientation at the medical center. I could not wait to learn what secret (sic) would unfold, or life changing experience waited for me inside the mysterious ward.” This after she sees a patient subdued by nursing staff; I thought this a strange and inappropriate reaction. I could not find any point of commonality with Madeline, and hence had no empathy with or sympathy for her.

I know that alcoholism is a serious disease and I do not wish to belittle the subject; this book, however, does do that in my opinion. It is sanctimonious in its tone and unrealistic in its portrayal, in my opinion. Nat, the counsellor, is “scarred for life” because his oft drunk (from the descriptions provided, I’m not convinced alcoholic is the correct description) hit him once. Many people suffer much more serious abuse from alcoholic parents, so I didn’t find this back story convincing. Prior to the start of the book, Madeline’s 16 year old son comes home from a party “with drink on his breath” so she packs him off for a six week course with a counsellor. No wonder in Chapter 1 he’s drunk himself to a vomiting stupor – typical teenager rebellion. Whilst I don’t condone under-age drinking (not unsupervised anyway), isolated incidents shouldn’t lead Madeline to assume her son is an alcoholic. Encouraging him to moderate his drinking would be sensible, but she goes off and becomes a volunteer at the local rehab centre – using up what little free time she has from her “executive chef” job and thus spending even less time with her son. Perhaps if she put the time and energy she’s prepared to spend at the rehab centre into building a proper relationship with her son, he would act more sensibly.

Oh heck! I sound as if I’m preaching! It’s just that the whole story line is so unreal, that it’s made me really angry at how out of touch the author is, and that while she (presumably) thinks she’s furthering the discussion of an important topic, instead she is trivialising it.

The reason Madeline starts to volunteer at the rehab centre is that her Aunt Mary’s ghost writes the name of the hospital on the ceiling…that was a particularly badly written and unrealistic scene…yet when Madelaine gets to the hospital, Aunt Mary appears and glares at her, then disappears,  and Madeline carries on blithely wandering around. The “visions” seem to have no connection with anything else, including the plot.

From reading the last page, it seems the point was to get Madeline and Nat together. I don’t know (or care) what happened to Jeremy, the 16 year old son. I don’t care because the author didn’t write him or any of the other characters in a way that caused me to care.

I got this book as a free kindle download from Amazon. Quite frankly, it was over-priced. The writing is of high school standard, not published book standard. For example take four sentences from 12% in:

“It was such a beautiful day. I decided to stop at the waterfront. Since it was still early, I took the scenic route. I needed time to unwind, before I went home”

Why not write this as:

“I needed time to unwind before I went home. Since it was still early, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and drive the scenic route to the waterfront.” ?

OK, that could still do with some work, but at 0115 hours and very little effort, it’s still better than the original.

This is the point at which I stopped reading; I really couldn’t stand any more of the drivel.

In my opinion, the whole book needs the aid of a really good, fearless editor. The author probably has, from her nursing career, a good knowledge of the problems associated with and the treatment of alcoholism. She could make a difference, but not with this book as it currently stands. It fails to address the subject in a realistic and sensible manner.

I Did Not Finish this book. That’s a rarity for me – I estimate there are fewer than 24 books in my life that have this “honour”.

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Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes: review

Hal SpacejockHal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the fourth edition. Slightly revised and polished in August 2011, then released on Kindle and Smashwords.
“Better than Red Dwarf” – Tom Holt
Hal Spacejock, an incompetent accident-prone pilot, is given one last chance to save his ship. An ageing robot is trusted with a midnight landing in a deserted field. And a desperate businessman is prepared to sacrifice both of them to get what he wants…
Combining relentless action with non-stop laughs, Hal Spacejock explodes onto the science fiction scene with the subtlety of a meteor strike and the hushed reverence of a used car salesman.

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I think that this book is trying to be The Stainless Steel Rat, but is not written well enough. The descriptions need to be richer, but not much longer, so that the reader can see the locations and people in their mind’s-eye. These were altogether too sketchy, which was a great shame as several of the characters were worthy of more attention. When reading Hal Spacejock, all I can see are the words on the page; I don’t like reading like this, I prefer to have the images play across my imagination like a film.

The set up and plot are well thought out, it is the execution of the writing that I feel is lacking.

As the story continues, however, the individual vignettes become increasingly predictable – without an increase in humour. I felt that the characters Clyde and Albion could have been used with more effect – we started to get to know them and then they disappeared!

All in all, an enjoyable read and I will probably read more of the series if I come across them.

I downloaded Hal Spacejock for free from Amazon

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I’m claiming this book as No. tbr/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; No. 10 in the Why Buy the Cow? Reading challenge; and No. 2 in the First in Series Reading challenge.
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