Tag Archives: book

Review: The Dragon’s Egg by Pauline M Ross

The Dragon’s Egg is the sixth book in the Brightmoon Annals by Pauline M Ross. Like its predecessors it stands alone, introducing a new cast of characters and bringing in a few from previous books to help the protagonists along. As with the previous books, this latest fantasy adventure explores the strange magics of the Brightmoon world, and how the civilisation from before a mysterious ancient Catastrophe sought to preserve magic as they faced down their own extinction.

Disclaimer: I recieved an ARC (Advanced Reader/Review Copy) of this book in exchange for an honest review.

dragons egg

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Review: The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

Usually I stick to fantasy on this blog, with occasional forays into historical fiction and science fiction. I’m making an exception for this book. Partly because I really just want to talk about how awesome it is, and partly because I read it as part of my attempts to read more books written by local authors – Shropshire authors.

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah tells the story of Ivo, a terminally ill 40-year-old looking back through his life as part of a game suggested for him by Sheila the nurse at the care home where he now lives. It’s a life of fun, regret, love, pain, friendship and crochet. As time runs out, Ivo uses the A to Z game to put things back together before it’s all too late.

a-z of you and me

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Review: The Fire Mages’ Daughter by Pauline M Ross

After reading The Fire Mages at the end of last year, I was eager to read more from Pauline M Ross, and I picked for my next read the sequel to that one, starring as its protagonist Kyra’s daughter, Drina.

Drina is a rather sickly girl with a strong attachment to her mother, so when she is summoned by the Drashona (equivalent to a queen) who wishes to assess whether she would make a suitable heir, Drina isn’t too happy about it. Drina finds herself trained as a diplomat, and in this role meets with the new living god of the Blood Clans – a mysterious people possessing a strange and threatening type of magic. When Bennamore goes to war with the Blood Clans, Drina must protect those she cares about and see through the complications to bring about peace.

fire mages daughter

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I started reading The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman on Sunday evening. I stopped reading it when I could no longer keep my eyes open, having got more than half way through. Yesterday, on Tuesday, I finished reading it half an hour after I got home from work. So it’s safe to say I enjoyed it.

ocean at the end of the lane coverThe Ocean at the End of the Lane starts with George, a man in his forties, having come from a funeral and returning to visit the place where he grew up. What he finds there is a duckpond which is also an ocean, and the key to memories of a time when he was seven and he learned that the world was more magical, and more dangerous, than he realised. The book contains menacing beings, enchanting visuals and a family of very intruiging women. And also several cats.

It is a powerful story about memories, about childhood, and about how perspectives change between childhood and adulthood. I also think it is about belief: belief in friends, in oneself, and to a certain extent in things that aren’t seen.

It’s taken me as long as it has to write this review because it’s very difficult to come up with new and different ways of saying “it was awesome” for the length that I usually like to write a review. When writing is this good, it’s hard to pick out anything in particular to comment on; it’s hard to think about the writing at all, when it is written so seamlessly that mere words go unnoticed within the magic of the story.

So I suppose that makes a good starting point: the flow and pacing were spot on. There was no part where I felt the writing moved too slowly or too quickly for the content of the story. I finished this book in three sittings, and at the end of each I stopped for reasons which are not the fault the book – sleepiness, dinner being ready, and, okay, yes, the third one is the fault of the book; there was none of it left.

The only occasions I did have enough self-awareness to notice the writing was twice when I noticed how well chosen particular phrases were to give an impression of a visual in a masterful economy of words.

One of those visuals, of a scattering of candle flames and silk, really encapsulated one side of the magic of the world: it is full of enchantment and wonder. It is beautiful and beyond reason, and there is a comfort to its presence. The other side of the magical world mirrored it perfectly, with sinister creatures which felt genuinely creepy and dangerous, even before they actually became dangerous.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives also a very good example of how a prologue and epilogue can be used effectively to frame a story, while being both relevant to it and slightly outside it. They brought the story full circle, and gave insight into the characters and the world which could not be told from the perspective of the seven-year-old George.

This is a book I want to read again. It’s definitely going on my favourites shelf (the top shelf, alongside Howl’s Moving Castle). I am not at all surprised that it won the National Books Awards 2013 Book of the Year award. And after everything I have written above, I suspect you will not be surprised when I rate it 10/10.

How to request a review from a book blogger

I’ve written on this subject before, and me previous advice still stands, but after having received some more unusual requests, I feel it’s time for a refresh of the topic. If you’re an author with a new book you’re trying to promote, you’ll be looking for reviews. Book bloggers are a good place to get reviews because they give your book exposure to an audience who might not have seen it before, rather than just providing reviews on Amazon or Smashwords, which will only be seen by those already considering buying the book.

So how do you go about getting book bloggers to review your book?

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How to ask for reviews of your self-published novel on forums

Congratulations, you’ve published your novel! Well done, that’s a point many people don’t reach. Now you just need to sell it. And that’s harder than it looks. Statistics published in The Guardian reveal that half of all self-published authors earned less than $500 in 2011. When you consider that hundreds of thousands of books are self published annually (319,000 in 2012), you’ve got a lot of competition.

It is widely acknowledged that having reviews helps sell your novel. On Amazon Kindle, readers can browse by review rating – and any book that’s never been reviewed is cut right out. Reviews help wavering potential readers make up their minds whether or not to buy. Readers might even discover that your book exists by reading a review of it on a book blog they follow. So reviews are an important component of marketing your book.

So how do you get reviews?

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Review: The Three Fingers of Death by Tristan Gregory

The Three Fingers of Death by Tristan Gregory is a short fantasy tale set in the same world as The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth, which I previously reviewed here. Jon the smith, briefly seen in the earlier story, seeks out a master to teach him parts of his craft that have been largely forgotten, shunned because of the involvement of magic.

three fingers of death

I read this story very quickly – all in one day. The prose is accessible  and the tone is gentle, making this story very easy to consume. It has quite a storyteller-like voice. Where in Carn Nebeth, the voice was quite immediate, this is more of a “sit down by the fire and listen to my tale” sort of voice, and because of the time scale involved – the story takes place across years – this voice fits well.

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Review: Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

The first book in the Heartland trilogy, Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig  is a Young Adult novel. It tells the story of Cael, a dissatisfied young man living in a dystopian world where wealth floats on sky flotillas and below on the ground inedible predatory maize corn is grown for fuel. Cael and his friends fight for survival, seek to improve their worsening lot in life, and dream about escaping the Heartlands and living in luxury in the sky above.

Under the Empyrean Sky

Under the Empyrean Sky has good momentum, carrying the reader forward in a manner than defies and denies sleep. The pacing is fast – perfect for the intended audience (which is a bit younger than me) – but with enough space left for character development, establishing the world, and the all-important suspense.

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Review: Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

As the third and final instalment of Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series, Emperor of Thorns brings the series to a fitting close. The story continues to follow Jorg, the young anti-hero in his efforts to achieve his life’s dream of becoming emperor, while contending with the rise of the Dead King and rivals to the Empire throne.

Emperor of Thorns cover

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Giveaway: King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

A few weeks ago I reviewed King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence and gave it a 9/10 (and I also reviewed the first book in the Broken Empire series, Prince of Thorns, and gave it 9/10). Well guess what? Mark has offered up some signed paperbacks of King of Thorns for bloggers to give away. Isn’t that awesome?

NOTE 15 June 2013: This contest is now closed.

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