The Ninth Rain

The Ninth Rain

by Jen Williams

 

This is a satisfyingly long book which makes for a good, immersive read. I particularly loved Noon, the fell-witch character, and I really cared what happened to her. It was with great pleasure that I got to watch her story progress and unfold, and at no point was I left disappointed.

 

Although this is a fantastical and brilliant world, it felt realistic. At no point was the fantasy element used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card which so often happens in stories of this kind. Instead, our characters faced real troubles, and worked within their limited abilities to overcome them. There are several layers to the story which requires a little perseverance in the beginning, but it definitely pays to stick with it – these details are important to the story and everything comes together very nicely as it progresses.

 

I am so pleased this is part of a new trilogy from this author and I look forward to reading the next instalment.

 

Rating: *****

The Freedom Broker

The Freedom Broker

by K J Howe

 

This is an intense, fast paced book, full of action on every page. Gunfights, explosions, fires, lots of helicopters and a race against the clock to rescue a hostage… this book definitely couldn’t be classed as boring! There are some interesting insights into the job of Hostage negotiators along the way, and the various geographical locations are played out vividly in my mind. As the book progresses, we get answers to our questions in the form of yet more questions, the story creating layer upon layer of intrigue and giving plenty to think about in the rare breaks I had while reading.

Rating: *****

Q & A With Ken Luber

I’m very excited to have had the opportunity to interview Ken Luber about his latest book, The Sun Jumpers (read my review here – this was an excellent read).

 

unnamed

1. How did you come up with the plot behind “The Sun Jumpers”?
I set out to write a book about teenagers in the Stone Age. Since I was a kid, I’d seen hundreds of pictures (and some movies) of big, beefy dark-skinned men trudging around with a club in one hand and I wondered what their kids were doing, since, having two sons, both of whom went through the teenage years, I had a quick, rich connection with my fictional characters.

When we’re kids, most of us (girls and boys alike) dream of going beyond our familiar surroundings, the adventure of what’s on “the other side,” just as in our childhood, if we play within a one or two block area, we wonder what the next block holds or the next field. So I took my characters beyond their known world and settled them (in their eyes) in an extraordinary world, 21st Century America. To get there, of course, they had to surmount many challenges just as, once there, they had to deal with the challenge of not being believed, their identity questioned, and of adapting to the speed, noise and overwhelming architecture of Los Angeles. I wanted skin color to play a part in the story. The teenagers are dark-skinned and they are the bearers, in Ty and Sita, of a courage and wisdom that have no shackles on time. The heart and soul of a Stone Age person has the same wisdom, courage and humor of any contemporary teenager. If this were not true, they would not have survived and we would not be here. In the book, it is the Antelope People. And I would like the reader to see and enjoy that we are all one great human family, that time has no bounds.

 
2. How long did it take you to write your book and what were the easiest / hardest parts of the process?

 

It took five years to write The Sun Jumpers. The first draft was 125,000 words which included another teenage friend who joins the quest and a female character, Darren’s life-coach. I didn’t have a problem lopping off one of the teenagers, but the life coach was a very difficult artistic decision for me. I really liked her and so did Sita. And that was part of the problem, aside from the fact that the novel was over-written. Sita and this young woman got along very well and took away from the thrust of the novel and, to some degree, overshadowed the tension of Ty’s quest.

 

 

3. I understand that you also write for film/tv/theatre. How does writing a novel compare to this, is it an easy leap when compared to your usual work or were there big challenges? When you wrote “The Sun Jumpers” did you imagine it being made into a movie? (I know i’d love to see it!)

 

Whatever the artistic/writing endeavor, it’s always hard work to get something right. That goes for any of the arts. This is my second published novel, although I’ve written two more, unpublished, resting with sad faces in a dresser drawer. I do think that writing screenplays is more “fun,” for several reasons. After all, you’re often writing with an actor in mind or, at least, one of several actors you hope would play the role. In writing novels, your whole intention is to try and create the character; you don’t have the time to think of who would be great in the role, though in terms of story/plot, both endeavors present formidable challenges. I wasn’t thinking of The Sun Jumpers as a movie when I wrote it, not when you’re battling with characters and trying to cut 45,o00 of your own words from the manuscript. However, having finished the book, as I look at it now, yes, I think it would make a fun, very entertaining film.

 

4. What’s the one thing you hope that readers would remember from your story?

Of course, the characters, but more than that, the feeling that life is one great circle, like the world, and we are all a part of it, back and forth in time. We can reach back and we can dream forward (as great inventors and thinkers have done. We share the space with every current and rush of river from the beginning of time.

 

5. If you could travel in time, where would you go, and who would you take with you?

 
Back in time, maybe Tibet, definitely India (which I have visited twice in this lifetime), perhaps the western coast of South America. I don’t think of the future because too many malls or technological driven societies get in the way and, if they’re not there, than something terrible must have happened and I don’t want to contemplate that. Romantically, it would be fair to say my wife, but the world I contemplate might be too rugged and spare for her, so maybe my sons or my dog Bear (who is no longer with us).

 
6. If you needed advice and had to speak to one of the characters in your book, who would it be and why?

Well, Sita carries the wisdom in the book; she is the wise seer. But I probably would feel more comfortable with Ty. He is foolishly brave and that has it’s own wisdom and a teenage sense of humor I can relate to.

 

7. How can we find out more about your work?

www.kenluber.com

Facebook Page

kenluber.blogspot.com

www.esperanzathemusical.com

www.thesunjumpers.com

The Verkreath Horror

The Verkreath Horror

by Martyn Stanley

This was a good read. The characters are much more complex and well developed compared to book 1; their personalities having subtleties that make them feel much more ‘real’. Brilliant characterisation and graphic, often gruesome, vivid depictions of the scenery mean that the plot feels slower and more measured, but without ever becoming frustrating or feeling like things were moving along too slowly. I can still smell the rotting corpses of Strak and feel the claustrophobic darkness of the Warren even now as I write this review.

The relationship between Vashni and Korhan was handled well in this book and I enjoyed their more subtle budding friendship greatly. We do hear much more from the other characters and it felt much more balanced as a result. Brael still leaves me intrigued and desperate for more,  Vortrex really comes into his own while fighting the Verkreath and Saul did a lot to help the group during the journey (though I felt he was unfairly sidelined, he was actually critical to their success).

All in all, a very good read. I’m very much enjoying seeing both the developing complexities of the characters, as well as seeing the evolution of an author. I look forward to the next instalment.

Rating: *****

Mermaid Trouble

Mermaid Trouble

by Andy Mulberry

 

This short book wasn’t about mermaids unfortunately. It was about hunting a mystical something that was putting some charms on people which made them grow mermaid tails, amongst other things. If my summary sounds vague, it’s because that is all I remember despite only just finishing it. The writing felt stilted, the story didn’t really get going until around 60%-70% of the way through the book, and I just couldn’t find myself caring about the characters. If you are looking for a book about mermaids, this one isn’t it. It does have magic and unexpected events, all of which might have been much more exciting if I had been able to like the characters more. Having said all that, I did make it through to the end, there are some interesting potential themes which I could see being explored in future books, and the text itself is simple to read for younger teen readers.

 

Rating: **

The Last Dragon Slayer

The Last Dragon Slayer

by Martyn Stanley

 

This is book 1 in the Deathsworn Arc.

 

The book is not so much about the Last Dragon Slayer, who plays a relatively minor part. It is more focused on the relationship between Vashni and Korhan, two of the others that make up a rag-tag bunch of adventurers on their way to hunt down a dragon. I won’t give away what happens, but needless to say this relationship is very odd and reminds me of a magical “50 shades of grey” minus the sex and with a plotline.

Having said that, this was a much better read than the aforementioned book! The main characters are very well portrayed, although i’d like to have seen a little more of the others making up the journeying group. The pacing of the story during action scenes was spot on, and the ending was satisfying, if somewhat predictable. Overall, an enjoyable read.

Rating: ****

The Sun Jumpers

The Sun Jumpers

by Ken Luber

 

I loved the story behind this book and can imagine this playing out well in a movie. It is a fun, very positive/happy read following the adventures of a group of teenagers who end up 10,000 years in the future. Most of the book follows their adventures in trying to get to grips with the modern world and is a story of deep friendship, love and acceptance in a sometimes difficult world. The book has a slight philosophical edge that makes you stop and think, but definitely doesn’t get bogged down in details as could easily happen with a story of this kind; Luber is skilled at making you stop and think without things becoming too deep or ruining the light-hearted, playful theme.

Rating: *****