Archive for October, 2015

Way better than twilight.

So, this is a story about two adolescent kids who meet each other and fall in love. And one of them is a vampire. No-one sparkles. If Edward was this type of vampire, twilight would be a lot cooler. There’d also be a lot more dead people.

Here’s the blurb:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

The variety of vampire portrayals in books and media is fascinating.  On the one side you have the overly romanticized vampire of twilight. On the extreme other end of things, you have the kind of vampire from the book series ‘The Strain’ (which is also a TV show that I highly recommend). The Strain vampires have no redeeming features whatsoever. The infected turn into these gross things full of worms, and they shoot this strange stinger like something from their throat (usually at people they love), which drains them of blood. Plus, aside from this killing instinct, most have the brainpower of a particularly bright potato.

Eli (our vampire from this book) is somewhere between the two. They’re scary. Eli could break Edward like a twig. But they’re also capable of thoughts, of fear, and of love. Eli is even more interesting than the rest of their kind, because they were turned as a child, and their body and mind is still very much a child’s.

They like playing games, they don’t like hurting people, they make choices they haven’t thought through (very much like a child). You get to know Eli through Oskar’s eyes, and in many ways Eli is younger than Oskar, and in other ways much older. You come to fear them, and also love them, much as Oskar does.

Now some warnings. While this is a very raw, beautiful book, one of the pov characters is a pedophile and thus has some not beautiful thoughts. It’s an interesting contrast with the much more innocent povs of Oskar and Eli. We don’t see the pedophile guy do anything too icky (apart from once later in the book – but he gets just deserts for that).

If you’re a vampire fan, or a fan of raw feeling books, I think you’ll like this one. The characters are anything but two dimensional. Even the guy who’s a pedophile is really quite decent at times. He strangely enough has a very strong moral code. Oskar who is downright innocent in a lot of ways fantasizes about killing people. Eli who has the power to kill and does kill, gets no pleasure out of it, and seems to regard it as a sad fact of life.

It’s these complex characters in their desolate seeming setting that makes this book grip so strongly. Four stars. It lost a star because the pacing seemed a little off to me, but not disastrously so. I really enjoyed reading it. For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/943402.Let_the_Right_One_In

P.S: There are two films based on this book. They’re pretty much the same except one was made in Sweden, and the other America. Both are awesome. Go watch.

 

DamselKnightpart2

Sometimes the best knight is a damsel.

In a world where women are seen as weak, defenceless creatures for men to protect and own, one orphan girl wants to be different. She dreams of being a knight. Slaying dragons, taking down armies with her father’s sword. Only her foster parents don’t agree with her views. On the night of her betrothal to a man over twice her age, the King’s soldiers come to their tiny village, and in the chaotic aftermath she’s left with a choice. Go back to life she knows and marry a man she despises, or journey onward and risk death to earn the knighthood she dreams of.

The road forward isn’t a safe one for a girl travelling with only her foster brother as company. Magic lurks in dark places. Vengeance burrows deep in many equally dark hearts. And all around the circle armies are gathering to defend the Kingdom against a threat that has not been seen in a thousand years.

In the second part of this four part 140 thousand word fantasy, Bonnie and the others team up with an unlikely ally to escape the witch’s clutches, but escape is not as easy as it sounds when your enemy has magic and a forest full of lost ones on their side.

 

Great news guys! Part two of the Damsel Knight series comes out today! For my post on part one go here. 

Part two is here for only $2.99, or you can preorder the complete collection here for only $6.99. A saving of 41% over buying each individual part.

If you like some epic fantasy with girls who want to be knights, dragons afraid of heights, and the odd zombie cow thrown in, then check it out.

Parts 3, 4, and the complete collection are available for preorder now. If you decide to preorder any of them, expect part 3 arrive on your device on the 6th November, part 4 on the 20th November, and the entire collection on the 4th December.

To always be informed when there’s a new release, sale, or free review copies, sign up to my mailing list: here.

I’ve been planning on reading this series for a while. There are so many references out there. I must’ve tripped across a few dozen before I decided ‘Ok, I’ll watch the film.’ I liked the film. So I decided ‘Ok, I’ll read the book.’

Guess what. I liked the book. Five stars. Adams has this irrelevant kind of humor. Or at least it can seem irrelevant. It’s kind of like that thought process you (or at least I) had as a kid. You think of something, then your mind goes on a tangent, or you hyper focus on some detail no one thinks is worth bothering about. I still think that way sometimes, so this humor was my kind of humor.

Some don’t like it. But if you’re the kind of people who regularly questions things in life; like why do we think we’re the most intelligent species on earth? What exactly is the function of a paper pusher in the great scheme of things? Is there a meaning behind all the dancing dolphins do? You’ll love it.

We start off with the world ending. Always a good way to start a book. It’s being destroyed to make way for a galactic superhighway. Something lazy humans should’ve bothered to look up in their local (read: light years away) planning office. Thankfully for one human, his best friend is a hitchhiking alien doing research for the guide named in the title. Cue one last second escape, and lots of adventures using the guide to help them out.

We also meet Marvin (a chronically depressed robot), Trillian (who our main character met at a party once), and Zaphod (a ex-hippie president of the galaxy following a plan he doesn’t know the plan for).

The plot is fast paced, and there’s humor in almost every sentence. The world (universe) building is awesome. Not as gripping as other books, but plenty going on. I really enjoyed it. Whether you do or not depends on your sense of humor. Give it a try, or go to the following link and look at some quotes to see if it appeals to you.

For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11.The_Hitchhiker_s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

Apparently this is one of those books every child has to read. I never got that memo, so decided to rectify that.

This book is about a boy (Jess) and the deep and unexpected friendship he forms with a new girl (Leslie). For me, this was worth the hype it has. You come to love the characters. Jess for his childish reasoning and love. Leslie for her blatant disregard of social pressures, and her ability to be her own quirky self.

They develop a lot over the book. They learn that the people hurting you may also be hurting themselves. Jess learns so much about what is important in life after a big event near the end of the book that I won’t spoil. While the event is horrible, it helps him be closer to the rest of his family, who until then had been very distant from him. That helps round up the book in a pleasing way. So a satisfying ending, but you’ll shed a lot of tears before that comes.

The majority of the plot while not thrilling, is very compelling. It revolves around everyday life and different challenges they face. I enjoyed it, but if you read nothing but non stop thrillers you might find it slow.

There’s one small part that you might find a little disturbing. A minor character reveals to her friends that her father beats her ‘the kind of beating someone goes to jail for.’ Our main characters think a little badly of her for betraying her parent. They help her convince the school her friends made it up, and it never happened.

This isn’t pleasant, but I think it’s true to their childish way of thinking. No one ever talks about a child’s rights not to get beat up, so how would they know it’s important? The impressions the adults put across is that it’s important for the children to obey adults, and definitely always obey their parents. Jess faces this daily, doing the majority of the chores for his distant parents while his older sisters mostly laze around. He knows this is unfair, but still does them.

On a more depressing note, we get little details about his borderline neglect by his parents. Like how his little sister gets to run out and hug his father, but he’d never get away with it. Or how he’s always careful about what he says (or whether he even talks) to his parents because they often seem tense.

I think that goes nicely with the theme that runs through this book: it’s OK to be different. At the start Jess is very driven by social rules, and is completely flabbergasted by how easily Leslie ignores them. This lines up with his distance from his parents, and their treatment of him. He doesn’t hug his father because he’s a boy, and too old for that. His parents put him in a more responsible role than his sisters (possibly because he’s the only male child). He’s asked to do more chores, and told off whenever the baby cries. He loves drawing, but hides it because his father doesn’t think it’s manly enough for a boy to be interested in.

His experience with Leslie gradually desensitized him to breaking of social norms. And I hope that after the book this translates into his family, reminding them he’s just a child, and giving him the courage to stand up for things he likes, like art. There are hints toward the end of the book that this is the case.

This is a beautiful, emotional book. Not the most beautiful and emotional one of its type. That one for me belongs to ‘A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.’ If you like this kind of book and haven’t read that one, go read.

For more reviews of this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2839.Bridge_to_Terabithia

 

DamselKnightcomplete

Sometimes the best knight is a damsel.

In a world where women are seen as weak, defenceless creatures for men to protect and own, one orphan girl wants to be different. She dreams of being a knight. Slaying dragons, taking down armies with her father’s sword. Only her foster parents don’t agree with her views. On the night of her betrothal to a man over twice her age, the King’s soldiers come to their tiny village, and in the chaotic aftermath she’s left with a choice. Go back to life she knows and marry a man she despises, or journey onward and risk death to earn the knighthood she dreams of.

The road forward isn’t a safe one for a girl travelling with only her foster brother as company. Magic lurks in dark places. Vengeance burrows deep in many equally dark hearts. And all around the circle armies are gathering to defend the Kingdom against a threat that has not been seen in a thousand years.

Part one is out now here: USA   UK

Parts two, three, and four will be released every two weeks. Two weeks after part four comes out, the complete collection will be published.

To save over 41% over buying each individual part get the collection, available for preorder now. Here’s the links: USA   UK

This epic fantasy took a loooong time to write. It’s almost 140k! And that’s after editing. But I told the story I wanted to write. There’s a big coming of age theme in here. Lots of choices and identity finding going on amid the action, along with a few ‘what the heck is my gender?’ moments. The main character has a lot of growing to do, and she ends the story very different to how she starts.

In case you missed that, yes the main character has some gender questioning going on. The questioning is designed to suit the specific character and circumstances she grew up in, so don’t expect her experience to be representative of all. For one thing, if you happen to gender questioning or in any way non-cis yourself, I doubt your experience involved going on missions to slay dragons.

If it did, send me pictures! I want to see!

There are few extra layers to this book if you’re willing to look for them. If not then enjoy the surface tale of a girl dragging her foster-brother along on her journey to become a knight, in a world where females are expected to be nothing else but damsels. They meet some interesting friends along the way, and a lot of enemies too.

Here’s a collection of four novellas around 200 pages each. It’s a nice length. Short enough it’s a quick read, long enough for you to burrow into the story.

First up we have ‘The Langoliers.’ Yet another thing to scare you about flying. Part of this story is working out what the heck is going on, so I’ll leave you to puzzle that mystery with the characters. It’s an interesting idea. One with just enough science to understand the hypothesis the characters come up with, and not a smidgen more. Totally implausible, but somehow still scary.

The characters were two dimensional but serviceable. I did get a bit annoyed with the magic little blind girl. She was a nice person, but really? Does every little child with a disability have to have some kind of special powers? Aren’t they neat enough as they are?

The plot was decent but not something to rave about. The pacing was a little off. A bit slow in places. I’d give this three stars. I did like the ending. It made me wonder what long term effects their trip might cause them. This was my least favorite of the four, and the reason why the whole book didn’t get a five star rating.

Secret Window, Secret Garden:

Four stars.  I watched the movie beforehand, so might’ve found it more entertaining if I hadn’t know the twist. I did like the tense claustrophobic feeling the whole story has. It’s well written, and the twist is a great one. We spend most of our time with one character. He’s got a lot of similarities with most of Stephen King’s characters. A writer. A guy still suffering the aftereffects of a nasty break up. 

He’s trying and failing to write a book, and then a stranger comes and accuses him of stealing a story of his. Things get worse from there. 

I thought on the whole the story was a very good one. It required some suspension of belief as to why the guy doesn’t just call in the police. At first, sure, he can play the nice guy. But then something happened that made the animal lover in me cringe and curl up into a ball of sadness. Nothing would’ve stopped me calling the police after that. Or taking more violent action.

The story manages to stay supernatural free until right at the very end. I’m not sure the supernatural insert was needed. In my opinion the story would’ve been more powerful without it, but that’s just my view.

The Library Policeman:

Five stars. This one and the next one were my favorites of this collection. 

This one revolves around a man roped into writing a last minute speech. Being the diligent guy he is, he checks out a couple of books from the library to help. Only, he loses the books and can’t return them. He soon finds this is a bigger deal than he’d thought. 

Scary book. Heavy on the supernatural which worked well. It also has an interesting creature I haven’t come across before. It makes a frightening idea.

I found the plot worked well. The pacing kept me interested. The last showdown was pretty cool, and the conclusion was satisfying. A good story.

The Sun Dog:

A boy gets a camera for his birthday. Only, no matter what he points the camera at, the picture comes out showing a dog. And with every picture the dog gets closer. 

Five stars. It’s close, but if I had to choose between this one and the previous one, Sun Dog would win. This story had great everything. The tension stayed high. The pacing was great. When the action happened, it was thrilling enough to have me on the edge of my seat. 

I liked the characters more than the previous story which is what pushed this one into the winning spot. The boy is one of those genuinely nice, respectful kids. Mature for his age, but still enough of a kid not to seem unnatural. The other characters were varied and interesting. The father turned out to be a lot deeper of a character than the son makes out at the start. Plus he has a back-story that makes his interactions with our ‘bad guy’ interesting.

Our ‘bad guy’ is another we spend a lot of time with. He’s not really bad, just invested and ambitious. Not a nice guy, but not a terrible one. He’s the hero of his own story. 

Great story with a satisfying ending, and a tiny little extra twist that adds to the whole creepy feel. 

For more reviews on this collection go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/133266.Four_Past_Midnight