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. 🙂
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:
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. 🙂
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.
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
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.
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:
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:
The Vintage Egg is my one and only foray into short stories, and it just received a fabulous 5/5 star review:
acflory writes some great sci-fi, and though I’ve read her novels, this was my first experience with her short stories. Her imagination and polished writing skills never disappoint, and these six stories are original and entertaining. My favorite tale was broken into two parts—The Vintage Egg and Egg Run—which bookend the other offerings. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Roast. I read this collection in under an hour and highly recommend it. A great peek at acflory’s writing talent.
I’m happy-dancing my way to the kitchen now for some lunch. Have a great day or evening. 🙂
I had a feeling this book would ruin my sleep…and it did. “Just one more chapter” kept me awake until 3am, but it was worth every minute. My Amazon review is going to start with a great big 5/5 stars, but you guys will get a sneak peek, followed by some information from the author herself. Let’s begin!
‘Liars and Thieves’, the first book in the Unravelling the Veil trilogy introduces us to the three main characters: a female Elf named Alue, a male Changeling named Tallin, and a half-cast Goblin-Elf known as Naj. But this is no cookie cutter ‘quest’ story. The three start as enemies and continue as enemies for most of the book because their races dislike and distrust each other.
We learn about those races, as we learn about the three main characters, and I have to tell you that the world building is deep. Each of the three races have unique magical talents, but the one thing they all have in common is their dependence on Savan crystals to power their societies. And guess who controls the mining of the crystals?
The Savan crystals can only be found in the Goblin’s territory, and comprises a large part of their trade along with mechanical devices that are powered by the crystals. In theory, this gives the Goblins a great deal of power, but these Goblins are not your stereotypical villains. Far from it.
In Liars and Thieves, the Goblins are the cool, calm rational ones who revere reason and logic above all else. They trade the crystals to the other races but keep supply to a minimum because they don’t trust the other races not to abuse the power the crystals provide.
As the story progresses, you realise that the Goblins are right. Alue the Elf is not a bad person but she is arrogant and impulsive, especially when she’s angry, which is a lot of the time. In many ways, she is a fitting representative of her people who seem to believe that they have the right to take what they want simply by virtue of being Elves.
The third race is represented by Tallin, a Changeling who can transform himself into any animal, or insect, for which he has learned the ‘pattern’. He uses his ability to spy on the Elves for the Changeling Queen. The Changelings believe that it’s okay to subtly spy on and manipulate the Elves because the Elves have proved that they want the natural resources that belong to the Changelings – and are prepared to cheat to get them.
Like three countries in our own world, the three Races in ‘Liars and Thieves’ have an accord that defines boundaries and lays down rules to help balance the needs of the three Races. But this is no dry historical treatise. We learn all of this world building through the characters and their interactions with each other. As we learn about them, we learn about their world, and the process is seamless.
That process is also utterly compelling. As I said in the beginning, I lost sleep because of it, and now I’m itching to find out what happens next. I’ve enjoyed all of D. Wallace Peach’s work, but this one has really, really hit the spot for me.
And now for some info about D. Wallace Peach [Diana to her friends], and the answer to a question I asked her about her writing process.
D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill.
Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked.
Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.
And now for that question. I asked Diana whether she created the plot to suit her characters or created the characters to drive the plot, or a bit of both. This is what she said:
Great question! Thanks for asking. I think there are three parts to the creation process for me. I start with the concept—a spark of inspiration bursts into my brain. In this case, a story about how untruths and biases start an avalanche of blaming and retaliation that spirals out of control and nearly destroys the world. The end of the world based on nothing real.
Seconds after the concept, the characters scramble in. Some are gung-ho. Some are wary. And some, like my goblin, would rather not participate. All of a sudden, their personalities are showing and taking over.
The plot is a work in progress as the concept turns into action and the characters tell me who they are. My outline of the plot lays out all three books, but it changes continually as the characters make choices and become who they are. I love that creative part of writing.
Thanks for indulging my curiosity, Diana. I think that balance between the characters and the world and the plot is part of what makes ‘Liars and Thieves’ such a joy to read. Oh, and…Diana’s writing is beautiful. At times it almost flows like music. At other times it’s as sharp as a shiny new pin.
And last, but most certainly not least, you can find ‘Liars and Thieves’ via this universal book link: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B08FGQ2W3Q Or click on the picture of the book. It will take you to the same web address.
I’m recommending ‘Liars and Thieves’ to anyone who loves to read, irrespective of genre. A good story is a good story is a good story! Enjoy. 🙂
I was just about to toddle off to bed when I received an email from Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore, saying she’d posted an excerpt from The Godsend on her blog. -dance- And, she’s included Diana Peach’s fabulous review as well. As you can imagine, I’m thrilled.
The excerpt is a short bit about Kenneth, my broken hero. Hope you like it.
I was checking my emails after dinner when something made me open my spam folder. The first few items were genuine spam, but then I found an email from Chris Graham [aka The Story Reading Ape] alerting me to a brilliant review of Vokhtah. If this were fiction, you wouldn’t believe it!
“They were now just two frail iVokh pitting themselves against the might of the wild.”
Vokhtah is a difficult but rewarding book. If you like unusual conceptions of extraterrestrials, this is for you. Once you’ve read about half of it, the complexities begin to clarify themselves, but two readings are needed for complete understanding. For example, it took me quite a while to grasp that the Blue and the Messenger were the same individual, and I also didn’t realize that there were two traders’ caravans wending their way to Needlepoint – I thought the Junior and the Messenger were in the same caravan and I got confused. Part of the problem is that the characters don’t have names, only titles. In her end matter, the author addresses this – it seems there is a taboo in this culture about enunciating your real name.
Vokhtah is a grim and forbidding planet; it has two suns, one a hot white star and the other a red dwarf. Sometimes they both shine at once, creating a climate of extremes. The planet is populated with an assortment of mostly vicious and predatory lifeforms and that includes the intelligent ones, who prefer to consume their food animals live. It’s a tribute to the author that she can take these basically repulsive intelligent lifeforms and make them sympathetic. And I would recommend that any human ship of exploration steer clear of the planet Vokhtah – humans would probably be seen as prey animals!
My guess would be that the Vokh evolved from bat-like creatures – their ability to echo-locate is mentioned briefly. They have wings (which contain their lungs), so most of them can fly. They have two hearts. And they are telepathic hermaphrodites with seemingly magical inner powers, like mind-healing and also mind-killing (their Healers are also trained as assassins). There are two variant species – the Vokh (large and dominant) and the iVokh (meaning literally “small Vokh”). The Vokh have a serious flaw – breeding is consummated by means of violent rape; nobody wants to bear an offspring because the “female” always dies in childbirth (this doesn’t occur with the iVokh).
However, the people have a strong sense of honor and obligation – if you accept help from someone, you incur an obligation and if you don’t fulfill it, you are ostracized. In the second half of the book, after the episode at the Little Blue River, the main characters – the Messenger and the Apprentice – are shown developing a sense rare in these people – empathy, an ability to relate to and care about others with whom one has a relationship, beyond the obligations of the code of honor.
All this just scratches the surface of the author’s astonishing creation. I should also mention that the book is a cliff hanger, and no second volume has yet appeared.
I must say a few words about the language. Unfortunately, the Kindle version has no Table of Contents and so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the author provided a brief treatment of the language in the end matter. It seems to have no pronouns, and verbs are consistently rendered only with the present participle form, all of which helps to create the alien language effect. Certain words used in the text are self-explanatory, like “ki” for “no” and “s’so” for “yes.”
There is one etymological gaffe that I can’t help commenting on – the explanation of the word “boot” (a foot-covering). The character doesn’t know what the word “boot” means and it’s explained as a contraction of “bucket for foot.” And yet that derivation would be impossible since the iVokh aren’t speaking English. You have to assume that the Vokhtah words reflect a similar construction, which the author could have fabricated.
But that’s only a quibble – don’t be deterred! This really is an amazing book and while the culture may not be palatable to everyone (you need a strong stomach sometimes), I definitely recommend it to any serious reader of science fiction.
The review was written by Lorinda Taylor, also known as The Termite Writer. Some days just get better and better.