Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Book Review: Fin Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson

Title: Finn Fancy Necromancy
Author: Randy Henderson
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: 13th February 2013

Synopsis: Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy at the age of 15, and exiled to the Other Realm for twenty five years.  But now that he’s free, someone—probably the same someone—is trying to get him sent back.  Finn has only a few days to discover who is so desperate to keep him out of the mortal world, and find evidence to prove it to the Arcane Enforcers.  They are going to be very hard to convince, since he’s already been convicted of trying to kill someone with dark magic.

Review: I think we can safely rename this book Finn Fancy Fun Necromancy (not that Finn needs any more nicknames adding to the list), but this book was a bit of fun. I read it over the weekend and it was the perfect journey book, swept me in, kept me going and had me suitably entertained.

The action takes place over a few days, and as such the world is built as you go long, so you're constantly learning and adding things to build up the framework, This worked for me because everything wasn't set in stone, or pre-determined , so I got to experience a different side of magic and the occult. It was also nice that every character had a different role to play in this; you had enforcers, with their lightsaber-ish batons, Finn with his talking ability, Heather and her alchemy...even Sammy with her allergy to magic all banded together to create something fun, and something modern and I liked that fresh element of a modern setting.

I loved all of Finns references and his own learning curve having missed out on 25 years in exile (not a spoiler its on the cover) and the way in which he still had that connection to the past, including full on Shatner nerd out was a nice character touch, especially since he didn't feel like the fifteen year old he was sent away as. Zeke's constant use of 'Fool' made me think Mr T was in the book, or maybe that's just the way I read it...that's how other people read it too...right? Right!? It added something either way aha, as did his choice of clothing and hairstyle. These were the little things (G-mail anyone) that gave the book some punch and made it an enjoyable read.

Great d├ębut, especially if you like a bit of fantasy,  hoping to read more of this author in the future!

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Book Review: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Title: Half the World
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: 12th February 2015
Synopsis: Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War.
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.
Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior.
She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.
Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon.
Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption.
And weapons are made for one purpose.
Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path? Is there a place beyond legend for a woman with a blade?

Review: So here we are again back travelling the Shattered Sea with (now a minster) Father Yarvi, older, wiser and a deep cunning man. This time accompanied by a new motley crew and a new mission...find allies! And as the sleek cover suggests, war is on the cards, with Half the World ( see makes sense eh...eh eh) against them so it would seem.

One of the things I really liked here was the symmetry with the first book, how the journey across the seas, reflected the journey of the charters. The role of the ship played a great part in shaping and defining the characters, which was topped up by the crew themselves. Recently I've been going to the gym (fun fact you probably didn't want to know) and 'attempting' the rowing machine, which almost made me feel like I was on back or with Thorn, and in a weird way made me keep going, for fear of Ralph if nothing else.

It was great that we got too see more of the realm here, venturing down the denied and up the divine, through the elf relics and into the first of cities. The history of the elves was a subtle addition, that flowed naturally into the story, rather than being a massive focal issue which was nice, but its still something I'd love to learn more about. Similarly the place of religion was a natural part of the story that added depth to the world, but yet isn't being thrown in your face. That's not what the book is about or trying to do. All these elements, politics, religion, war blend in nicely, woven like a nice tapestry, which a writing style I really enjoyed. What I do love is the personification of elements with proper nouns like Mother War and Father Peace, they helped give character to the world that was created. For those of you that love a bit of action, there's action aplenty, from one on one combat to battles and internal conflicts of the heart.

I still loved Yarvi as a character, and like a fine wine he's aged and grown with books. Actually I loved all the characters, Thorn was tough an feisty, Brand was more soft but has a deep character, Skrifr was eclectic and fun and her elf magic added that level of spark, whereas not so much that it made it a purely fantasy book.

This is a great series that I would encourage everyone to read, I think it appeals to a lot of different interests, and is a well written story. I am very excited (and sort of sad its ending) for the final installment!

Do let me know what you think of it!!

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Book Review - The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Title: The Fire Sermon
Author: Francesca Haig
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: 26th February 2015
Synopsis: When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. The complete set. They would have been disbelieving – nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega. Nobody.
Born as twins. Raised as enemies.
One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.
The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.
The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.
Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.
The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

Review: A lot of books work in the frameworks of their genre, here we have a dystopian novel, and there are all the classic trade marks, the event that triggered the end of the world as we know it, the evil powers that be and the resistance that stands up against them, but its then their individuality that make them as good as they are. One of the best things that I liked about this book was its concept, I felt it was fresh and unique and I liked the way it had effect throughout the books. The Alpha/Omega twinship was a great tool to use for so many reasons. It was a game changer, it affected the way we saw things, it affected the way the characters acted and more importantly it threw something else into the mix. Disability, and the ideas of judging someone based on their differences and abilities. It's an important issue to talk about, and this took that issue and presented it in a different way, not explicitly throwing it in your face but making it a prevalent issue, and one that sat close to Cass. Every time she said it's not one it's two people (that might not make any sense to you riiiight now, until you read it) I wanted to shout yes!

This is, I think, one of the main reasons I really liked Cass as a character. She carried that approach that our differences don't make us unequal and her belief that Alphas and Omegas shouldn't live in segregation was a message that resonated well. She was humanistic, and a soft but assured character. You could also feel her personal struggle being a 'Seer' and I wanted to, and still want to, know what will happen with her. I think she has great potential (as she was repeatedly told) and it will be interesting to see where this takes her.

Kip however I wasn't so keen on. I liked him to begin with, but there was something almost irritating about him as the book went, but that might just be me. You don't always jell with every characters and though I appreciate how he stood up for Cass, I think I wanted something different from him, something more.

Its hard to say certain things without spoilers aha, so I'm restricting what I say because I think you all need to experience it as you read it rather than me revealing pieces, and that we can talk about what I though...about...things!

Something I'm hoping we'll get more of an insight into is the Council. The big evil as it were. Zach was mentioned so much throughout the book, but Id love to see more into his world, walk his steps as it were, as I think it could be a great perspective. Piper was a swarve character (even the naming is great), he had that authority, and that level of presence that he stood out strong, in a similar way to Gale in The Hunger Games, and I'm looking forward to his role in events to come.

I feel like at times, though I wanted to keep going and to know what was going to happen, there was a lack of pace to it, so I wasn't flying through it the way I had hoped I would. The book was very visual though, so I could see everything really well in my mind, which gave it good atmosphere, and helped my investment in what was happening, and I like that in a book.

So as much as it lacked in parts, I think it is definitely worth a read, I think its a book people will enjoy, and I am definitely on board to see what happens next!!

I also just want to draw everyone's attention to the FANTASTIC artwork HarperVoyager have been using over on their twitter to promote the book (all credit goes to the amazing team at HarperVoyager and @CaitDavies who created these cool pictures)

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