Fan Art Up, mazes and blazes..

Posted On 14 August 2014

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Fan Art Up is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha at Not Yet Read.  Details here.  Each week I see if I have a book doodle or just a random doodle to  place here.  This week I’ve reading The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero and am currently reading The Godless by Ben Peek.  I found it a bit more difficult this week to come up with anything – I’ve used the Maze that features in the haunted, spooky house story and tried (not with a lot of success) to draw an eye that has flames – which is from the early chapters of The Godless.  Please ignore the horrible attempting at colouring but neither of these were good without a bit of colour.  (If they look like this now just imagine what they looked like before!)

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Tough Travelling to the rescue…

Every Thursday Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn takes us travelling through the tropes of Fantasy.  This is a really fun weekly event and all are welcome.  This weeks topic is SAVING THE WORLD

SAVING THE WORLD is something many Tours require you to do. You have to defeat the DARK LORD or WIZARDS who are trying to enslave everyone.

‘That is right, we are upping the stakes. I don’t want to see any personal journeys, or tight political thrillers. Next week it is all about emanate destruction. If the world isn’t about to end, or at least going to change in horrible ways for EVERYONE in it, save it for another time.’

I am Legend by Richard Matheson which is one of the first novels to deal with worldwide apocalypse brought about by disease.  Robert Neville is a survivor.  He goes out every day trying to eliminate those who have become the threat.  At the end of the day though – who is the monster??  Threat: virus

Black Feathers by Joseph D’Lacey – a book that deals with environmental impact on a massive scale.  Destruction and the resultant aftermath.  Plus the rise of a new ‘messiah’ type character.  Threat: environmental

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham.  Following a meteor shower the vast majority of the population are left blind allowing a particularly aggressive plant to attack people across the world.  Another apocalyptic book based on a different threat than virus.   Threat: alien/plant life

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – following the comic adventures of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect as they flit through space.  This is a tenuous link based on the start of the book where a Vogun Constructor Fleet blows up the planet earth in order to make way for a new expressway.  Read it and laugh.  Threat: Alien/planet destruction.

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey –  the main threat to the world of Pern comes in the form of spores called threads which consume at a voracious rate.  The story is a combination of sci fi and fantasy.  Combining time travel, dragons and imminent threat to the planet.  Threat: plant life/spores

 Okay, I did start off with a rather large list including, unsurprisingly LoTR!!  I tried to narrow it down – after all, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

To read or not to read?

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The topic this week over at the Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday is’ Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read’.

This is a tough one.  I mean if I bought the book I pretty much want or expect to read it – at some point in my life anyway!  It’s more that sometimes the books on my TBR lose their sparkle a little as newer shiny books are released.  I’m going with 10 books that I was desperate to have – absolutely couldn’t wait.  Practically stood on the bookstore’s doorstep awaiting opening or had the book on order and sat looking for the postman everyday – yeah, you know that feeling.  So, these books, I wanted them badly, and I will still read them.  I just need to make the time and maybe add one into each reading month.  So not so much that I’m not sure I want to read as maybe I didn’t want to read them as desperately as I thought!

  1. Dr Sleep by Stephen King I actually bought this as soon as it came out – and in fact read The Shining (even though it’s not necessary) ahead of the release date.  Plus this has has some excellent reviews – I really will pick this up soon but have decided to wait for the dark nights.
  2. Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I love The Secret History, I admit I wasn’t as keen on The Little Friend and I wonder if that’s why I”m delaying reading this – I do love this author’s writing style though so eventually….
  3. Books 2 and 3 from Game of Thrones by George RRMartin – I can’t face the rest in the series – it’s just so huge!!  I’m traumatised by how far behind I am.
  4. Malice by John Gwynne – bought this on kindle – looking forward to reading it, but, since them I’ve purchased a dozen others!  That’s one of the drawbacks of kindle (1) you don’t have a pile of books scowling disapprovingly at you and (2) as soon as you’ve made a few more purchases your earlier books get pushed off the page – let’s face it you always look on the first page of your menu – you very rarely scroll to the last pages!
  5. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa – the first was a very good start to the series.  I seriously need to pick up No.2 – but, I could probably use a refresher on No.1 by now!
  6. Eternity by Elizabeth Miles – this is the third and final book in the series and as usual I’ve bought the book and not picked it up – I think I have a ‘thing’ about reading the last book in the series!
  7. The Descent by Alma Katsu – ditto No.6
  8. The Time Traveller’s Almanac by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer- this looks like an excellent book – and it’s huge!  But, fortunately I bought this on kindle so won’t have to carry it around.  An excellent collection of authors on here.
  9. Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish – I confess I bought this based on the cover – I’m such a cover tart.  It does look like a good series though.
  10. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – the biggest surprise.  I love Gaiman and I’ve owned this book for quite a while.  I’m partly scared to read it in case I don’t like it – which is utterly ridiculous!!  I think I’ve put Mr Gaiman on a pedestal!

How on earth will I ever find the time to fit these all in!  I need to focus…..

 

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

Just finished reading The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero.  This is a very intriguing story that starts off as a gothic ghost story with a young man inheriting a fortune and a creepy haunted house and then twists into something else resembling a treasure hunt, a mystery and a race against time.  I really enjoyed this I have to admit.  It’s a read that grips you and takes you down a certain path only to turn off at the most unexpected juncture and go down another route completely.

Told through the use of notebooks (written by Niamh who is mute and records all her conversations in this way), journals, video footage and other pieces such as research articles and book extracts.  You might think that this style wouldn’t work but in actual fact it really does.  I actually enjoy this method of storytelling.  The story starts as the young man of the piece, known only as ‘A’ becomes the owner of a three storey mansion left to him by his recently deceased second cousin twice removed (Ambrose).  Axton House is located in Virginia and so A and his companion, Niamh set off to explore their new found wealth.

The house and estate is huge and feels like a throw back in time.  Once through the doors the house feels literally like the land that time forgot.  This is also perfectly matched by A’s style of notetaking and his manuals which have a very old fashioned style of writing.  The feeling created at the start of the book is definitely that of a gothic and spooky tale.  The house has a menacing past and actually has it’s own resident ghost.  On top of this there is a huge library, long sweeping hallways that seem to swallow the light and hidden rooms to be discovered.

At the beginning of the story A and N are faced with a couple of mysteries, not least of which is why the late Ambrose (the previous owner) committed suicide at exactly the same age and in exactly the same way as his father.  On top of this the butler has gone missing and it appears that the late cousin may have been involved in some strange, maybe occult, activity that results in an annual gathering at the house every solstice – and this is what all events are building towards.

It’s difficult to go too much into plot because I don’t want to give away anything.  Fairly early on A seems to be affected by the house while Niamh seems oblivious and goes around the place fixing up cameras and other recording equipment, computers and gadgetry.  A starts by encountering the ghost in the bathroom and from there begins to have quite horrible and puzzling dreams which result in him becoming excessively tired and out of character.  Strangely this part of the story put me in mind of The Shining and the slow descent into madness that Jack Torrance suffered whilst caretaking the Overlook Hotel.  The fact that Axton House has it’s very own maze which also sits at the heart of the mystery helps to encourage that impression.  I don’t in any way mean that in a negative way, this is certainly not in any shape mimicking the work of Stephen King – it was just a reflection as I was reading this part of the story.  Things fairly swiftly move forwards however and take a completely different turn.  And that’s where I’ll stop about the plot.

In terms of the characters – they almost read like the cast from an Agatha Christie novel.  There are the friendly neighbours who hesitate to tell you things about the history of the place and owners, the old lawyer, family retainer, brief appearances from a few residents in town who also seem to suffer from a heightened fear about Axon and an old acquaintance of Ambrose who seems to have something at stake, but nobody knows exactly what.  You end up suspecting everyone of foul deeds!  With regard to A and N they definitely work their charm on you – enough so that when things take a drastic turn at the end of the story I was definitely concerned for both of them.

This is probably more plot led than anything else and things move quickly forward as the two main characters struggle to follow the trail of crumbs that will lead them to the heart of the mystery.  The ending is dark, twisted and unexpected.

Regarding criticisms, personally I probably could have done with a little less explanation about the codebreaking but I have no doubt that some people will love the explanations and even go and try a few messages out themselves using the theory contained here.  I felt that element was a little too descriptive and for me it took me out of the story a little – but, once the key messages have been deciphered that element of the story moves forward.

Overall I found this quite a compelling story.  I enjoyed the narrative style and the way the novel twists from one thing to the next keeping the reader on their toes.  Nothing here is as it first appears.  On top of that, having finished and with the knowledge that the ending brings I now find myself reflecting back to certain elements of the story and thinking ‘ah hah!’  I like it when a story keeps me coming back to it even days after I’ve finished.  In fact, to be honest, I think this is probably one story that would definitely benefit from a reread, I think it would read completely differently the second time around.

Check out the two covers – totally different in style and yet I like both for different reasons.  I think the orange and black cover is very eye catching and I love the pattern of the sky.  The other cover has a very strange appearance but on investigation is overflowing with different elements of the story.

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

Moon’s Artifice by Tom Lloyd

Posted On 8 August 2014

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Just finished reading Moon’s Artifice by Tom Lloyd and will start by saying what a great start to a fantasy trilogy.  Thanks to Lisa at Tenacious Reader for this recommendation and I also agree completely that this book is greatly underrated.  Given the plot, the characters and the world building I really don’t understand why there hasn’t been more of a commotion about it.

Anyway, moving on.  To the story.  At the start of the book our main protagonist, Narin, is given a task to complete by Lord Shield.  Lord Shield is a God and therefore not somebody readily turned down.  In his quest for information Narin will uncover a plot that threatens the lives of many of the people that, as would-be Lawbringer, he is sworn to protect  He will join with three unlikely companions in a race to find the truth and during this search will encounter assassins, gods and demons alike.  As the story moves forward a dastardly plot will be uncovered and the four will face a massive task in order to save thousands of lives.

Lloyd has written a really interesting world here with magic, assassins, gods and demons.  The setting is the Imperial City which is divided into segments, each ruled by a particular noble house and then further sub divided into castes.   This is a city embroiled with court politics and a grim reflection of extremes with poverty stricken neighbourhoods rife with crime on one hand whilst huge palaces with exotic gardens nestle in the other.  The world building is very well done and easy to imagine.  The Houses all believe themselves superior and rivalry exists between them all although it seems to be universally acknowledged that House Dragon and their warriors are superior and not to be toyed with – in fact better to keep them out of things as much as possible if it can be managed as they will wade in and kick major ass.

At the start of the story we make the acquaintance of Narin – as he unwittingly becomes the focus of Lord Shield.  Narin is an investigator, currently operating under the wing and tutelage of Rye – the most respected Lawbringer in the city.  At the start of the story you could probably say that Narin is hopelessly naive to a certain extent but this is something that he will eventually lose as he develops sharper edges.  Narin is definitely a flawed character and you need only read the start of the story to find out why. He has secrets and frankly he isn’t perfect – you could almost be forgiven for wondering why his mentor Rye isn’t the main focus as he certainly seems more astute and far more capable in a tough spot.  But I kind of like that Narin isn’t perfect.  He isn’t totally ninja, he gets exhausted running up a large flight of stairs and his indiscretion has undoubtedly led him into a whole heap of trouble.

On top of this he is accompanied by his friend Enchei – an older man and supposedly a tattooist (responsible for tattooing people’s caste’s onto their shoulders) although he has many secrets of his own.  Initially he comes over as a grouchy guy who refuses to bend the knee to his so called superiors and balks at everyday convention.  Enchei is a great character and definitely one to pay attention to.  I would have welcomed a little bit more information about exactly why he has befriended Narin but it’s possible this may be more forthcoming in future instalments.  His other companions are Irato – one of the assassins’ order known as the Goshe who has mysteriously lost his memory following his clandestine rooftop adventure at the start of the story, and Kine, a fisherman’s daughter living in the poorer district and helping, alongside her sister, to keep her mother’s boarding house.

What I particularly liked about the story, including the magical elements and the slightly out of sync with the time inclusion of gunpowder weapons and other strange gadgets, was the way the Gods and Demons seem to interfere with everyday life.  They’re all playing their own little games in an almost parallel way to the regular mortals.  Each vying for supremacy.  I liked that they simply appear amongst people and everyone is completely unphased by this! In a similar way, the demons take control of certain animals who become their eyes around the city.  It is possible to call a demon and ask for help if you know the incantation.  Not something to be tried at home though!  The casual inclusion of deities and magic and the personalities of the four main characters are definitely the winning elements to this story.

In terms of criticisms.  I didn’t really have anything major.  I think the writing is very descriptive and that’s not to everyone’s taste as some prefer plot to prose but personally I enjoyed the detail.  And, I would say this definitely has a quest type feel and in that respect there is the element of you fall into trouble, you get out of trouble, then you fall into trouble and get out of trouble.  However, the pace is fast and the Lloyd definitely succeeds in building tension.

Overall I thought this was a very enjoyable read and I will certainly continue with the next book to see when Mr Lloyd takes us next.

 

 

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