Paradise Girl

Paradise Girl

by Phil Featherstone

 

Kerryl keeps a diary about her experiences after a deadly virus kills everyone she knows. Mostly, she keeps herself to herself in her house, and we follow her thoughts and feelings as time passes. The story is intense, and the twist that comes towards the end of the book takes you from the “this is a nice light read” feeling to “wow, there’s a lot to think about here” all at once. The author’s characterisation of Kerryl is fantastic; the writing economical and at all times understandable, fun and easy to read.

 

Rating: *****

The Blood Queen (Deathsworn Arc 3)

The Blood Queen (Deathsworn Arc 3)

by Martyn Stanley

 

The Blood Queen has a very different tone to the previous two books – the pace here is slower, measured and thoughtful. For the first 60% of the book this really grated on me; the author obviously has an axe to grind (or it appears that way) with the whole subject of religion and atheism and I felt the characters got caught up in it too much; I felt myself craving the fast paced action of earlier books. Later on though, I did begin to appreciate the overall picture of what is going on. In the last third of the book, Vashni really comes into her own and it was great to explore and develop her character further.

Overall, this was a good book and perhaps i have been a little harsh,  I did enjoy it despite my criticism above and will be adding the next one on to my list to read. I have grown to love these characters, and for that reason alone I am compelled to continue, and any book that leaves that feeling with you must be a good one!

 

Rating: ****

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: *****

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: ****