Tag Archives: book review

A Review of Rags of Time by Michael Ward.

Overview

This historical mystery is set in the turbulent times just before the English Civil War.
Michael Ward has plunged us into a violent and unpredictable world where King Charles I is pitted against Parliament. The king wants money to pursue a war with Scotland over what the Protestant Scots see as an attempt to re-establish Catholicism. Many English also think the king is going too far with his ‘reforms’ of the Church and accuse him of being overly influenced by his queen and her mother, both Catholics.
Pamphlets against the king abound, and violence can flare up anywhere at any time.
Michael Ward takes us into this hot-bed and makes it real. His discussion of the politics of the time fits in beautifully with the plot, and doesn’t seem like a history lesson, even though I have come away with a clearer picture of the times.

Plot

Thomas Tallant is the son of a spice merchant based in London. He has just returned from a trip to India when he is asked for his expertise with falcons, which he has gained on his travels.
An illustrious wool merchant has died in mysterious circumstances and falcon feathers have been found nearby. Soon, though, Thomas finds himself accused of the murder.
He must try to prove his innocence through many turns of the plot to the twist at the end.

Characterisation

The author has created varied and believable characters, from the somewhat naïve Tomas to the intelligent, pipe-smoking Elizabeth. He also brings in a few real historical characters, which adds interest.
Each character has his or her own voice as well as strengths and flaws.

Writing

There are a few slips in the writing—few typos and the odd grammar error. The version I read, an e-book, had some formatting errors as well. In one or two places a sentence broke off in the middle and a line space appeared before the sentence continued.
A bit

Like this.
But such was the excitement of the plot that it didn’t bother me.

Conclusion

In spite of those errors, mentioned above, this was a thoroughly engrossing book. I liked the characters I was supposed to like, and despised those I wasn’t supposed to like.
I found it to be an unputdownable (is that a word?) book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. I have given it 5 stars.

If you enjoyed this review, please leave a comment in the comments box.

Review of Write it Right by Mary Deal *****

Mary Deal has produced a book that every aspiring author, and even those with experience, should read.


She deals with every aspect of writing, from the beginning, when the book is just the germ of an idea, to the end, when the book is published and the dreaded marketing begins.


If you have no other book on writing, this should be the one you buy. It should be required reading for every author.

The book is easy to read, with no complicated explanations. She talks about the importance of editing and getting your manuscript the best it can be. She mentions how you can improve your plot, and how important characters are in getting the poblic to read and enjoy. Then she goes into the best ways of formatting your book for publishing, and the importance of the cover art.


There is little or nothing she doesn’t cover in this amazing book. If you are a writer, or an aspiring one, buy this book now.

I give it 5 stars.

A Review of Two Heads, Two Spikes by Jason Paul Rice

Overview.

My first impression of this book is that the author thought ‘I can write something like that’, when he read, or saw, GeorgeR.R.Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, on TV as A Game of Thrones.
The book is wide-ranging and has a vast cast. Sadly, though Jason Paul Rice is not GeorgeR.R.Martin.
Here are some similarities.
 There are many warring families.
 Mr Rice is not averse to killing his characters.
 There is a ‘good’ family, the Colberts, just as Mr Martin has a ‘good’ family in the Starks.
 The Colberts’ have a son who has a handicap, but is very clever. The Starks have a clever son who is handicapped.

Plot.

The plot is complex, and parts don’t seem to fit in easily. I admit that I did not manage to finish the book for reasons I will come to later. Perhaps it all fits together later on. I did manage to plough through two thirds of it.

Characters.

On the whole, the characters seemed a bit flat. Either good or bad. There is little that helps us see what got them to be as unpleasant as they are.
One of the most difficult things I found was the naming of the characters. The members of the ruling family of Donegal (and why use the name of a province of Ireland in a fantasy setting?) all have names beginning with Alli-. For example, there is Alli-Stanley, the king, and Alli-ster, his son. We meet Alli-Steven. And it’s not only the men, but also the royal women.
One of the golden rules of writing fiction, and I try to obey it in my own writing, is to name your characters in such a way that they are not easily confused. Even to not having the same initial letter.

Writing.
I have to admit that part of the reason I gave up on this book is the writing. It is poor, to say the least. It is a self-published book, and I got the impression that Mr Rice wrote the book and then when he wrote The End, he set about publishing it.
There appears to have been little or no editing. Typos abound, and wrongly used words, too. He gives one character gold armour! not a good idea for something to protect. Gold is a soft, easily malleable metal. Research needs to be done on things like that. There are other little things of a similar nature, too.
One of the things that is very confusing is that Mr Rice does not seem to know that, in writing dialogue, you start a new paragraph for each new speaker. He has two speakers in the same paragraph and this makes for a confusing read. This alone would have made me give up.
These things would have been sorted if the author had employed an editor, or even beta readers. He could also have joined an on-line critique group or found a group of writers near him.

The book is the first of a series, but I won’t be reading the rest.

I give this book 2 stars **

Review of Silent Payback , by Jaye Marie.

A serial killer roams the streets of Brighton, hunting for his next victim.
When the case lands on detective David Mallory’s desk, will his personal demon prevent him from bringing this vicious monster to justice?
As the body count rises, Mallory finds himself sinking under the weight of his heavy secret – one that could jeopardise his job and his reputation.
With the pressure building, can the troubled detective reconcile his issues and solve the case before more women die?

Overview.
This is an excellent story that kept me reading, wanting to know what happens next.

Plot.
The plot deals with two detectives trying to solve a series of murders in Brighton, England. But this is not all. Both David and Anna have their own individual problems to solve, and what these are remain a mystery until around half-way through the book. From then on, we follow them in their attempts to resolve both their individual personal problems and find the murderer.
The plot moves at a good pace, keeping the reader’s interest throughout.

Characters.
The main characters of David and Anna are drawn well. They are likeable, but with believable flaws. They develop nicely throughout the book.

Writing.
Sadly, this is where the book falls down. There are numerous editing errors in the text. Although this sometimes makes me not want to finish a book, the story here is strong enough that my desire to know what happens overcame my irritation at the mistakes. There are also a few plot holes. As a result of this, I have only given it 4 stars.

The Revenge of Excalibur by Sahara Foley. My Review.

revengepicture

Today I’m reviewing a book I recently read, It’s the second book in the Excalibur series and it fuly lives up to the first one.

Blurb

After Pamela’s father vanished twenty-seven years ago, her life has been content. That is, until she is visited by disturbing dreams, telling that her father is in danger.

She also receives a mysterious message, telling her that Arthur has been imprisoned on a distant planet, and only she can rescue him. To do so, she must release the evil entity trapped within the famous sword, Excalibur. If she trusts this strange messenger and releases the terrifying Shalit from its confinement, Pamela could be endangering Earth and all the other planets in the universe.

Will she be strong enough to control the Shalit, save her father, and protect everyone she loves? And can she risk destroying all life if she’s not?

 

My Review
This book is the second in the Excalibur series and I enjoyed it as much as I did the first one. This time, instead of following Arthur and Daisy on their adventures out in the Universe, we concentrate on Arthur’s daughter, Pamela. Arthur does not know of the birth of his daughter, nor that she has inherited his gifts.

Pamela feels something of a misfit on Earth as she has to hide her powers from others. If they know what she is capable of, they would fear her. One day she is whisked off to space by mysterious forces that turn out to be intelligences contained in a living spaceship. These two women, granddaughter and grandmother, tell her that her father is in danger and that he and his wife, the alien Daisy, whom he met in The Secret of Excalibur, are imprisoned.

The rescue of Arthur and Daisy involves the releasing of the Shalit from Excalibur, one of the entities known as Planet Eaters.

Pamela has to use her powers and faces great danger. She finds her true love in a most unusal person, and the twist at the end caught me by surprise.

Ms Foley has built complex worlds with strange alien creatures and a politics we can all recognise. Pamela’s change from a timid, self-conscious girl to a confident woman is believable, after what she goes through.

The writing is excellent and I have no hesitation in giving this book 4 stars.

The book is available as both an ebook and in paperback from Amazon.

If you have any comments on this post, or any others, please add them to the comments box. I’d love to hear from you.

 

An Exciting Read

I am reviewing Dissolution by C.J.Sansom today. I bought this book because I read the third Shardlake book, having bought it in a Charity Shop, and enjoyed it immensely. I decided I like the character and wanted to know more about him, so  bought  the first two. I’ve yet to read the second one. I’ll review it when I do.

Review of Dissolution by C.J.Sansom

Blurb

It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066. Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church. The country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. And under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: dissolution.

But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege.

Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell to uncover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea. But investigation soon forces Shardlake to question everything that he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes …

Review

This is the first book in CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series and I gave it five stars.

Shardlake is a lawyer at the time of Henry VIII. He is not what one might call a traditional hero. He is a hunchback whose infirmity often troubles him. He is also regarded with suspicion and superstition by those around him, but he is a clever man.

C,J,Sansom has captured the period very well in this work. There is a very real fear amongst the people that the new Protestant religion is threatening them if they are not seen to fully embrace it. The characters he has created are very believable with all the foibles of humanity throughout the ages.

The book is very well written and moves along at a fast pace, carrying the reader along with it. There are clues as to the murderer if the reader can manage to piece things together. I didn’t, and so was surprised at the ending.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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