Tag Archives: book review

Review of Jhara, P.A.W.S book 6 by Debbie Manber Kuyper

Debbie Manber Kupfer announced the release of the latest episode of her P.A.W.S books on June 15th. I was delighted to receive a preview copy of this book, and am now posting a review here and on Goodreads. This, along with her other books, is a good read and will appeal both to teen and young adults, and adults who like the escapism of fantasy set in our real world.

Jhara (The P.A.W.S. Saga Book 6)

*****stars

Overview

This is a continuation of Ms Kuyper’s P.A.W.S. saga. It is, in fact, the 6th book. She has moved away from concentrating on Miri and the St Louis P.A.W.S., and this book is mainly set in New York, although it does have a substantial part in St Louis where Sandy, a weather mage, is situated.
I would class it as a Teen and Young Adult book, although many adults would enjoy reading it if they enjoy fantasy. It is a fantasy world that runs in our own, but that normal mortals know little or nothing about. Fairies abound, as do shapeshifters, werecreatures and animagi. And magic is real.

Blurb

Jenny has been painting fairies her whole life, but now a new fairy has emerged, one with wings of pure silver. She wishes she could share this new fairy with Jamie, but Jamie has disappeared and Jenny is worried.
Sandy is also worried. Her weather magic is out of control and she is taunted by a storm that whispers its name to her – Jhara.
Deep inside the bottle, the spirit of Jhara waits. She hates this form and detests her creator who has trapped her in there. It was not fair. You cannot create a storm and then trap it in a teacup. That worked only in idioms. And this was Jhara’s life.
The P.A.W.S. Saga continues with Jhara.

Characterisation.

The characters are well developed, with flaws and good points. Most want to do good, but their flaws let them down on occasion. Some are tied to the evil werewolf, Frederick, and in spite of their better efforts, end up doing bad things.

Writing.

There are a few typos that have got through the editing process, but that can happen to the best of writers and editors. The rest of the writing is good.
The descriptions of the places and the people bring them to life.
Ms Kuyper has a large cast of characters in this book that she handles well. Each has their own voice and are sufficiently different that we always know who is speaking. It must have been difficult dealing with so many.

Conclusion

A thoroughly enjoyable read. It adds to the on-going story of P.A.W.S., but it could be read on its own if you haven’t read the others.

Review of Dark Fire by c.j.sansom

Overview

This book is one of the books about the lawyer, Matthew Shardlake and is set at the time that Henry VIII wanted to divorce Anne of Cleves in order to marry Katherine Howard.

This is an exciting story and keeps you turning the pages. Just one more page. Oh, alright, just one more chapter. There are so many twists and turns in the plot that you simply must keep on reading?

Blurb

England, 1540: Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother horribly murdered – the formula has disappeared.

Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .

Story

Shardlake has, in the past, done work for Thomas Cromwell, and in this tale Cromwell sends for him to investigate the discovery of a mysterious substance, supposedly the mythical Greek Fire. Cromwell has promised a demonstration to the king, but unfortunately, the said Greek Fire has gone missing.

Things political are moving against Thomas Cromwell. The powerful Duke of Norfolk, Katherine Howard’s uncle, wishes a return to Rome, and his star is rising. This demonstration of Greek Fire (the Dark Fire of the title) would help Cromwell regain his position. But there are mysteries within mysteries here, and a time limit to find the stuff before the day of the demonstration.

At the same time as this, Shardlake has taken on the defence of Elizabeth, accused of murder, but whom Shardlake and her uncle believe to be innocent. Again, there is a time limit before her execution.

Characters

Matthew Sharadlake is afflicted with a twisted spine, and this causes him, not only physical problems, but he also meets with prejudices from people around him. However, in spite of this, he overcomes his physical problems, and does not let them cause him to become bitter.

He does have human flaws, though, which bring him to life as a real person, and we feel we can relate to him, and like him. His wit and intelligence get him through most things.

There are also other characters in the book who are also well-drawn. The man whom Cromwell sets to act as a help and protector of Shardlake, Jack Barak, is a complex character who is both educated and streetwise.

I cannot go through all the many characters we meet in these pages, but all are well-drawn and realistic.

Writing

The writing is excellent. I think I only discovered one typo and not grammatical errors in the whole book. Quite a breath of fresh air. Even in many traditionally published books I often find many typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

The research on the history of the time, and what life was like is exempliary. We can almost smell the rotting vegetables and other things in the streets and understand the horrors of Newgate prison. And the heat of the summer almost has us sweating along with Shardlake and Barak.

We feel along with Shardlake all his emotions and pains.

Conclusion

This is definitely a book to read if you enjoy mysteries set in past ages. I would recommend it to people who like mysteries wherever set, and also to people who enjoy books set in historical times. Perhaps not if your preference is for Historical Romance, though. Not much of that.

I’ve given it 5*

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Review of Glimpserama by Mortimer Roxburgh

Glimpserama by [Major Roxbrough]

**** stars

Overview

This is a book of short stories. They are all set in the same era, well into the future of the Solar System, when humanity has colonised Mars, and is mining the asteroids.
There are androids whose appearance makes it impossible to tell them apart from humans. They have even achieved the ability to feel some kind of emotions.
Mars is being slowly terraformed, and humans can stay outside for short periods, but humanity still has all the same foibles as we have now.
Some of the stories have the same characters appearing, but all are separate and complete.

Blurb

Glimpserama is a glimpse into one of mankinds possible futures. The first attempt is to begin colonizing the solar system and beyond. Although technology may have advanced, will Man have learned the improved ways of living along with such progress? Maybe not! We see that though Man has moved forward with technology, he is still the same marred creature he ever was, with very much the same old problems of morality and the simple ability to get along with his fellow man. Here are fifteen stories of the human condition in the thirty-third century.

Story

The stories in this book are excellent. They hold the attention throughout. I found I had to read to the end of each one.
They are very varied. From detective mysteries to explorations beyond the solar system, to wars, we find a great variety of tales.

Characterisation.

Being short stories, there is little time for the characters to develop, although it was fascinating to follow the increasing self-awareness and growing emotions in one of the androids.
The characters had human foibles (except for the androids, of course), and felt real.

Writing.

This is the weakest part of the book. There are a great many punctuation errors that I found somewhat disconcerting, especially when Roxburgh put some of the same person’s words on a different line after the dialogue tag.
He also puts the quotation marks before the comma, full stop, question mark, etc., and he does not seem to fully understand the use of apostrophes. S ometimes they are in the correct place, but other times they are scattered in plurals.
There are places where he puts commas instead of a full stop and question marks where it’s not a question.
He also has a habit of using obscure words, many of which I had to look up. Not helpful for a clear and enjoyable reading.
There are also some spelling mistakes (lead instead of led, dyeing instead of dying, for example.)and wrong word usage (like conceded instead of conceived, and peculiarly for particularly).

Conclusion

I do have to commend Roxburgh on his research, though. It is thorough and accurate as far as present day science is concerned. Who can say how accurate his foretelling might be?
All in all, in spite of the grammar errors, the stories are good, and so I decided to only remove 1 star from my review.

Did this review help you? Let me know in the comments box.

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review of cotula by debbie manber kuyper

Overview.

This book continues the saga of P.A.W.S. begun in the book of that name.
Rifka, a young Jewish girl has disappeared from her home in Safed, in Israel. She remembers nothing of her life before except what the man she is with has told her. He says she is his wife, although little more than a child.
The story is about how Rifka is saved from the man, who is the werewolf, Frederick, with the help of the mysterious stomes known as Cotula.
It ranges from Israel to London, and ends up in St Louis and New York via the mysterious shadow land of Umbrae.

Blurb

Follow the Cotula. The stone will show you the way.

Rifka is lost, far away from home, kidnapped by an insidious werewolf.
Far off in Manus Wu, a plan is set in place. An Old One sends colutae out into the world. These stones when brought together have the power to release Rifka. Yet does she truly want to go home?
Meet an empathic goat, a family of otters, a girl who loves to draw fairies, and a dragon in this new installment of the P.A.W.S. Saga.

Story

The story moves with a good pace. We are carried along with the characters through their various adventures in trying to defeat the werewolf, Frederick.

I enjoyed the tale as it continued with the people we had met in the earlier books and more are introduced, but the author manages to keep them clear in our minds.

Characters

The large number of characters is difficult for an author to manage. However, they all seem to be realistic, and have human failings and strengths. They have doubts and query themselves, and some have to fight against their own nature, as in the werewolves who do not want to feast on human flesh.

Writing

On the whole, the writing is good, but, like the other books in this series, some errors have slipped through the editing process. Ms Kuyper gives acknowledgement to her editor, but I think said editor has done a less than perfect job. I noted well over 100 errors and word repetitions in the book.

Conclusion

This is more of a YA book, I would say, although it can be enjoyed by adults, too, I am an adult, and I enjoyed it!
The drawback with offering it to a youngster would be the errors in the book.
I have given it 4*. It would have got 5 if there were fewer typos etc.

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review of argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Argentum (The P.A.W.S.Saga Book 2) by [Kupfer, Debbie Manber]


**** stars

Overview

This is the second book in Debbi Manber Kuyper’s P.A.W.S. Saga, and it begins where book 1 finished. It is a tale of shapeshifters, werewolves and animagi.
P.A.W.S. is the place where these beings live. There are many such places all over the world.
Werewolves are humans that have been infected with lycanthropy, and are forced to become wolves at the full moon. Animagi can change their shape at will into an animal, while shapshifters require a charm passed down through families, and originally made by Merlin himself.
In this second book, we take up the story where the eveil werewolf, Alistair, has been destroyed.
Or has he?

Blurb


Argentum is the thread that binds all magic …
The silver of Miri’s cat charm passed on through the generations.
The silver of Jessamyn’s scepter, the source of her illusions.
The silver of Quentin’s scrying bowl, forged by Merlin.
All intertwine in Argentum.

With Alistair gone a measure of peace returns to P.A.W.S., but Miri is tormented by nightmares. The silver charm that had recently hung around Alistair’s neck is now in Miri’s possession and seems to have taken on a life of its own. And then it mysteriously disappears.
Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair, but can he be trusted?
And what of Jenna? The young girl rescued from Alistair’s pack house holds a terrible secret. One that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.

Story


I found the story to be as immersing as the first book. Miri’s growing romance with the shapeshifter, Danny, whose alterego is a large maine coon cat, plays a big part in the story.
There is also a mystery about how her friend Josh’s mother has a photograph that looks like one she has of her grandmother when she was young.
The story, I found captivating, and wanted to know more about the whereabouts of Miri’s second charm that had belonged to her grandfather, and who took it. Was the dead Alistair influencing events? And how could this be?

Characterisation.


The characters in the book are realistic. They all have their good and bad points, just like real people. Perhaps they did not develop as much as they could have, but then there are 5 books to get through. Perhaps they will be changed by the end of the 5th book.

Writing.


This is the weakest part of the book. While the style is easy to read, I found a number of grammar mistakes that should really have been discovered and corrected in the editing stage.

Conclusion


All in all, in spite of the grammar errors, the story is good, and so I decided to only remove 1 star from my 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.

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