Tag Archives: book reviews

Some of the novels I have loved in October 2022

I believe in writing reviews, but like most people, unless I write one the moment I finish reading, I tend to forget. As a result, I do catch-up reviews. These are some of the ones I’ve reviewed on amazon.com recently.

The Corfu Trilogy, by Gerald Durrell. Fell in love with the TV series, loved the books.

‘This must be one of the few times when a visual representation of a work actually complements that work of prose. Both endearing and beautiful.’

Amazon link

p.s. There are over 4,000 reviews of this trilogy on amazon.com so mine was more of an ‘I loved it too!’ than an actual review.

For those who’ve never heard of the Durrells of Corfu TV series, or the books on which they’re based, the author, Gerald Durrell was the brother of Lawrence Durrell of the Alexandria Quartet fame.

All four of the Durrell siblings lived on the island of Corfu in the years leading up to WWII. The Corfu trilogy was written by the youngest Durrell, Gerald, and details the glorious, golden years he spent growing up there. The books are funny and snarky and make you want to go back in time and share that life with them.

If you get the chance, read the books and watch the TV series. You won’t be disappointed. Promise.

Val Hall: the even years, by Alma Alexander. Shorts with Heart

‘I’m not usually a fan of short stories because they end just as I’m getting into them but… Val Hall is like snippets of the same, glorious song. Each story showcases a different resident with a different 3rd class superpower, but the gentle caring of Eddie the orderly weaves all the disparate stories into one narrative. And I literally fell in love with each superhero. On to book two. :)’

p.s. As with the Corfu trilogy, my review is kind of superfluous, but I thought I’d explain that the premise of the stories is that there are three tiers of superpowers.

The top tier is godlike, the second is like Superman,

while the third is made up of almost ordinary humans who have one special power that they can use in special circumstances. That’s why they’re only third class. Each story talks about one of these third class powers and the person who wields it.

Amazon link

Cage of Souls, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Papillion at the end of the world.

‘The time is some unimaginable point in the future when our sun is starting to die. The place is the Island, a prison for those that Shadrapar, the last city on Earth, rejects. The story is told in the first person by Stefan Advani, an intellectual sentenced to the Island for…helping to write a book that the powers did not like.
I’m not a fan of first person POV because what we learn of the character is generally unappealing. It’s like seeing someone naked with all their warts and saggy flesh exposed. That said, however, I can’t stop thinking about the story and the world it portrays.
It’s memorable.

I’m a voracious reader but much of what I read disappears soon after I finished reading. It’s not memorable. The Cage of Souls is different. It’s tunneled into my imagination and won’t let go.
To me, that is the defining characteristic of a great story.’

Amazon link

I have a stack more reviews to publish so I’ll try to do a post a week. In the meantime, have a great weekend. 🙂

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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