Category Archives: Reviews

Boychik – a review

I’ve loved Laurie Boris’ work since I read her novel – Drawing Breath – back in Indies Unlimited days. That book has remained my favourite until now. Boychik has the same immediacy, the same heart as Drawing Breath, and I absolutely loved it. This is the review I just left on amazon.com:

It’s hard to define what makes Boychik so wonderful because the story has it all – great characters, a great narrative and a sense of time and place like no other. For a couple of delightful days, It transported me to Prohibition New York and beguiled me with the sights and sounds and /smells/ of that era.

I don’t actually know what ‘lox’ is, but I love pickles so I could almost taste the food being made, and eaten, in the Deli. Most of all though, I experienced all of these almost alien sensations through the eyes of two young people on the cusp of growing up. And falling in love.

Yes, there is a thread of romance running through the story, but mostly it’s about love and tradition and old expectations clashing with the culture of a new country. In a strange sort of way, Boychik made me nostalgic for a time and place I’ve never known. It made me /care/.

In my not so humble opinion, Boychik really does have it all, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Read it. You’re welcome. 🙂

The only thing that makes me sad is that the story is over. But it’s a good sad. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


I’ve been interviewed! -dance-

I’ve been a huge fan of author D.Wallace Peach [Diana] since I read her speculative fiction novel, The Bone Wall , so when she asked if I’d like to be interviewed about Vokhtah, I felt honoured. Then I read her questions, and I could barely contain my joy. Here’s a taste:

THE most original sci-fi book I’ve ever read is Vokhtah by Andrea Flory. The depth of her world-building and character-construction is highly creative and intensely alien, right down to the language these insect-like creatures use. I’ve been wanting to interview her and finally got the chance. Welcome Andrea!

1. You decided to create an alien world without humans. Lots of authors do that, but their characters are often “human in disguise” with human-ish thoughts and emotions and cultural variations. Your characters are definitely NOT human. What inspired you to create a completely alien species?

Aaaah Diana! Thank you for inviting me, but…you’ve opened a real Pandora’s box here. What inspired me? I could say it was the original Mr Spock played by Leonard Nimoy, or the character of Dexter, the ‘good’ psychopath, or the aliens of The Left Hand of Darkness by the late Ursula K. Le Guin, but that would only approximate the truth.

To give you a genuine answer I would have to change your question to ‘Why do so many humans create aliens in the first place?’

To that question, my answer is that we’re looking for answers about ourselves.

You can read the whole interview, and Diana’s review of Vokhtah here:
https://mythsofthemirror.com/2021/08/05/vokhtah-sci-fi-world-building-with-acflory/

I’m off to chat to people on Diana’s blog, and I’d love to see you there as well.

Hugs,
Meeks


Reviewing books by Joel Shepherd and Jonathan P. Brazee

I write reviews in the hope that others will discover new authors and new worlds into which they can escape. Military anything has never been my cup of tea, but over the last few years, I’ve discovered a number of authors who have made me change my mind about the genre: Elliot Kay, Chris James, D.Wallace Peach, and now Joel Shepherd and Jonathan P. Brazee.

I’m still a long way from being a military enthusiast, but a damn good story is a damn good story, no matter what genre it occupies.

The two books I’m reviewing today both fall into the ‘military’ category, and both feature a female protagonist, but otherwise they are quite different. Sasha, by Australian author Joel Shepherd, is what I would call a ‘military fantasy’ in that it is very low tech with cavalry charges and swords rather than guns and tanks etc. Fire Ant, on the other hand, is ‘military scifi’ with lots of space battles. I enjoyed them both, and I think you might too. 🙂

First up is my review of Sasha:

I came to Sasha from the author’s Spiral Wars science fiction series because science fiction is my passion, but…in Sasha I’ve found a story even /better/. And a world so rich with detail that it feels real.

One of the reasons the world building is so amazingly good is because, like Dune, it contains everything – politics, multiple cultures, religions, belief systems, and…languages. Not just a few silly words made up to make you feel as if the language is real, but enough detail to make it obvious that the author /created/ a language for the story.

Do any of these details hit you over the head, slowing down the story and boring the pants off those who only want to read about the battles?

No. Shepherd has woven the world building in to the action so you absorb it much like you would absorb the world building in a movie – naturally, a bit at a time.

That same mastery of story is evident in how the author builds the characters. They all have a past. They all have quirks. They all have virtues and faults, but again, discovering the characters is part of the story.

I am more impressed than I can say. More importantly, I LOVE this story, and I’m about to buy more of it.
Cannot recommend Sasha more highly.

The next review is of Fire Ant:

I didn’t know what to expect from Fire Ant, especially when I realised that the main character was a female…a female written by a male. Would she end up being a man disguised as a woman, as so many of these kinds of ‘kick arse’ characters are?

I’m pleased to report that the author, Jonathon P. Brazee, has created a female character who is kick arse but in a genuinely female way.

The story is pretty much a coming of age tale in space, but deep enough to make it enjoyable even for oldies long past that age. 🙂

I love it when I discover new authors. It’s like finding buried treasure!

Have a great weekend everyone,

cheers
Meeks


Right to Kill, by John Barlow

I just submitted a review of ‘Right to Kill’ on amazon.com. Simply put, I loved it. Read on for the full review:

I’ve been a fan of John Barlow since first reading ‘Hope Road’ quite a few years ago. So when I was asked to write a review of his latest story, I knew it would be good, I just never expected it to be /this/ good.

Like all three books in the Hope Road series, the characters in ‘Right to Kill’ all feel as if you’ve known them, or people like them, for ages. Some you would never include on your Christmas list, but others feel so real you want to hug them, laugh with them, cry with them.

The main character, Detective Sergeant Joe Romano feels utterly real too. He’s smart and principled, a /good/ man, but he’s also a little bit broken and a little bit lost. The pillars of his life have shifted and he’s treading water, going through the motions in the hope that he’ll rediscover some meaning to life.

When Craig Shaw is found burnt to a crisp in his Mum’s old Corolla, it’s Joe Romano’s colleagues in the Leeds police force who seem to be going through the motions. Why? Because Craig Shaw is a drug dealer and general low life, and the world is probably better off without him.

But does anyone really deserve to die?

As far as Joe Romano is concerned, the answer is no and he sets out to prove it.

How Joe proves it will keep you reading long past the point when you know you should turn out the light and go to sleep. I know it had that effect on me, and I can honestly say I did not see the ending coming. And yet, Barlow told this story so well that there was a huge sense of ‘oh, of course!’ once the identity of the killer is revealed.

That fulfilling sense of resolution is why I call this story the perfect thriller. We learn as Joe learns, clue by clue. We may not be as smart as Joe in putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, but once he does, we know it’s right. It could be no other way.

Telling enough but not telling too much is a tightrope without a safety net. Walking that tightrope is damn hard, but John Barlow makes it seem effortless.

This is a story I would recommend to anyone. I wish I could give it a 6 out of 5.

The link to ‘Right to Kill’ on amazon.com is below:

Have a great weekend everyone!

cheers
Meeks


The Ferryman & the Sea Witch – a review

I just submitted this review on Amazon:

The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by [D. Wallace Peach]

The Merrow are creatures of the sea – sirens or mermaids if you will – but like humans, they like making bargains. Unlike humans, they believe in keeping them.

At the start of the story, it seems as if the Sea Witch, the ruler of the Merrow, is the villain of the piece. She struck a bargain with the Ferryman, and the two countries on either side of the ocean trench that is home to the Merrow. According to that bargain, she will allow the Ferryman to sail his ship across the trench safely, but only if he sacrifices a human life before each crossing.

Monstrous and cruel. There is no other way of looking at that bargain, yet the machinations of the two rulers on either side of the trench are just as monstrous and cruel. But they only keep their promises under duress. And they test the boundaries to see how much they can get away with.

Honestly, by the climax of the story you can’t help wondering who are the real monsters – the merrow or the humans.

Cast against this dark background are three and a half very likeable characters – Callum the Ferryman, Daylin his estranged wife, Airlee their daughter, and Grier, a bit of a rogue who kind of steals your heart even though he’s only the half character. I can’t say more without giving the story away, but I can say that it is extremely well written, fast paced yet quite beautiful, and the characters literally jump off the page at you.

From start to finish, ‘The Ferryman and the Sea Witch’ is a compelling read that will stay with you long after The End. A fantasy for the thinking woman, or man. Very highly recommended.

I’m sure no one will be surprised when I say I gave The Ferryman 5/5 stars. If you love rich, finely woven fantasy then you really must give the Ferryman a read. I promise you won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ferryman-Sea-Witch-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B095J5X8DW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Ferryman+and+the+Sea+Witch&qid=1624100413&sr=8-1

Oh, and in case anyone wonders, I provide the entire link so you can be sure of where you’re being sent before you get there. I know I’m paranoid, but with billions of passwords hacked recently, you really can’t be too careful.

Have a wonderful weekend,

-hugs-
Meeks


And then there were two…

This has never happened to me before: two reviews in the one day, the first in the US, the second in the UK. I’m a little stunned, but also incredibly happy. 🙂

Nabatea 5/5

This last book in the series has more unexpected plot twists, turns and surprises than an aristocrat’s hedge maze / labyrinth.
Whatever you thought you knew from the first two books, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

I think the thing that has given me the greatest joy is that both reviews ‘got it’ in different ways.

As a Resident of Innerscape, Miira is like a digital ghost; she can communicate with the real world, but she can no longer touch it. Yet in Nabatea she has to step up and become the hero, despite her fears and lack of power. So I gave her the courage and persistence to use what she did have. I guess I wanted to show that we don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzneger in order to be heroic. 🙂

And the series as a whole? I didn’t decide to make each book different. It just happened that way, possibly because I need to explore new challenges with each new book. But boy am I thrilled that the reviewer noticed!

This truly has been a red letter day, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet!

To all those who downloaded my books. Thank you.
To all those who read my books. I love you.
To those who made the time to leave a review, you are my heroes.

much love,
Meeks


And one for Nabatea!

I didn’t intend to post again so soon. I’m always a little wary of boring you guys to tears but…I just found this review for Nabatea:

Imagine living on in a virtual world when you can no longer exist in the real one. Innerscape is such a world, and I thoroughly enjoyed escaping into it. Miira is a compelling and resourceful protagonist, not to mention relatable and likable. In this final book of the series, she must use what resources she has within the realm of Innerscape to uncover the mystery behind her love interest’s downfall. Crisp, evocative prose and impressive world-building make for a thoroughly engaging read.

Given how slack I’ve been on the marketing side, I really didn’t expect to generate much interest for Nabatea so this 5-star review was a very welcome surprise. I am now set for the day, maybe the whole week. lol

cheers
Meeks


Laughter Lines by Sue Vincent

I just left a 5 star review for Laughter Lines: Life at the Tail End by Sue Vincent. And I still haven’t stopped smiling. The review should be up on amazon.com in a day or two, but this is what I said:

I have never been a poetry person, but there’s something about Sue Vincents poems that really strikes a chord. They’re earthy, and funny, and poignant, and paint word pictures of things we’re all familiar with. Who has not dunked a biscuit [cookie] in coffee only to have it break and fall in the cup? Such a small, every day thing, and yet Vincent makes it laugh-out-loud funny.

And then there are the poems about the author’s dog, Ani. Those ones are particularly hilarious because Ani is like every dog I have ever known and loved – affectionate, intelligent, voracious, and just a little bit cunning.

But not all of the poems are funny. Some, like the one about Valentine’s Day, speak to the meaning of love. It’s a gentle reminder that we give and receive love every day of the year, in small heartfelt ways that cost nothing and mean everything.

And that, to me, is the essence of Sue Vincent’s poetry. It’s gentle, self-deprecating and utterly human. I would recommend Laughter Lines: Life from the Tail End to everyone, even those, like me, who don’t like poetry!

What I forgot to mention in the review is how satisfying it is to read poems that rhyme! My Dad used to spout poetry [in Hungarian] when I was a kid, and every poem had a distinct rhythm to it that was both mesmerising and easy on the ear. I guess I like that kind of poetry more than I thought!

To get a taste of Vincents verses, click on the Look Inside pic below:

lol – and no, that isn’t Ani monstering someone. I think she’s actually singing…or something. 🙂

Seriously, this book is wonderful. It will make you laugh, it will lift you up, and it will touch your heart.

cheers
Meeks


More love for The Egg!

Today is going to be a very good day because The Vintage Egg has received a fabulous review from Robbie Cheadle. Robbie also reviewed an intriguing little book about low cost, crafty and very imaginative ways to create Christmas:

https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/bookreviews-short-books-by-a-c-flory-and-charlie-lee-austin/comment-page-1/#comment-18839

Click the link below the picture to go to Robbie’s reviews or click here. You can also find Robbie’s books on Amazon. They include the absolutely delightful Sir Chocolate books for children which she co-produced with her son Michael.

The Sir Chocolate books are illustrated with characters made of fondant [icing?], and the artistry is a joy:

Have a wonderful day!

cheers
Meeks


A flurry of reviews

I don’t write a lot of reviews, but every now and then, a cluster of books come along that have something about them that really appeals to me. This next lot cleaned out my TBR list and triggered my desperate plea for more reading material. 🙂

Reviews on Amazon

The first review is for ‘Allies and Spies‘, book 2 of the Unravelling the Veil series, by D. Wallace Peach :

5/5 No middle book sag here!

After falling in love with the first book of the series, Liars and Thieves, I was a little apprehensive about whether the second book could live up to the first. Second books are a bit like the ‘middle child’ of a family. You get all the surprises with the first one so what’s left for the second?

I needn’t have worried. 😀 Allies and Spies sees the story grow up and out, both in terms of the plot and the characters.

I really didn’t like Alue very much in Liars and Thieves, but she really comes into her own in book 2. I can’t tell you what she does, but she saves both Naj and Tallin from a very nasty death. More importantly, she does so by coming into her strength. She’s always been brave, but there’s a difference between physical courage and the courage needed to overcome your own shortcomings. Or even to recognize them. Yet that is precisely what all three of the main characters must do if they are ever to solve the mystery of the disappearances that have claimed so many lives.

That said, I have a secret fondness for tortured characters and in book 2, Naj suffers. That suffering serves to catapult him into a greater understanding of his world and himself, but that’s not much consolation on a personal level. I truly feel for Naj. 😦

And finally, Tallin. In many ways, Tallin the Changeling was my favourite right from the start. There’s something about his easy going nature that is very appealing. His alter ego Slick seems to encapsulate his personality perfectly – cute, cuddly, cunning, and naughty. But Tallin has demons of his own, and in book 2 he faces at least some of them.

I wish I could tell you about the plot, but if I do I’ll spoil it for everyone. Let’s just say that some things become clearer, but the forces behind the disappearances are still shrouded in impossibilities.

I can tell you about the writing though. Peach makes writing on multiple levels look easy. The prose is lyrical, the dialogue is always just right and the pace is perfect. No typos, no plot holes, no ‘what the?’ moments. Definitely no saggy middles! The story. Just. Flows. And takes us with it.

This series is character driven fantasy of the highest quality, and I recommend it to everyone, even those who don’t normally read fantasy. I’d give it 6 stars if I could.

The second review is for Tales from the Annexe, by Audrey Driscoll.

5/5 Dipping a toe into the world of Herbert West

I absolutely adored the Herbert West series and really enjoyed revisiting the world in which the series is set. Of the new stories, the one that will probably stick in my mind the longest, and give me nightmares, is The Ice Cream Truck from Hell. I will never think of Mr Whippy the same way again. lol

Beautifully written horror-ish short stories that all lovers of good writing will enjoy.

Review no. 3 is for ‘Serang‘, by C.S. Boyack.

5/5 Coming of Age in a time of chaos

Serang bears a slight similarity to the Karate Kid story, but only because the main character is young and learns martial arts. Beyond that, Serang is a lovely, unique story about a young girl who is given to the Temple to be raised by monks. These monks are both male and female, and there is no qualitative difference between them. All monks learn martial arts. Which style of martial art they learn depends upon their individual personalities – i.e. what suits each monk the best.

When the temple is destroyed, Serang is saved by one of the wandering monks who also survived the carnage. He continues Serang’s education in martial arts and living off the land. There are exciting fight scenes, but they are not the main focus of the story. Serang’s development and growth are the drivers, and I have to say that I loved the story from start to finish.

I would recommend Serang to anyone who loves reading about ‘becoming’ and the triumph of the human spirit.

And there you have it, three very different authors, genres and stories, but I enjoyed every single one.

Have a great Sunday [in Australia] or Saturday [everywhere else]!

cheers
Meeks


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