Well, another month has gone by, and I seriously don’t know where it has gone. Do you think I misplaced it somewhere? But since March has left us, it’s time for Calendar Girls to be back in action, and I’m super excited to bring you a new one…even though I realize just how unprepared I […]
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve is a story about love, courage and survival amid Mobile cities, ravaging each other for resources in a barren world.
The Bad Stuff: This is an old YA novel and the authors style is a little dated. There are multiple points of view and author interjections in parenthesis throughout the story.
The Good Stuff: While the style is unusual and dated, I enjoyed this book. There are some great characters and concepts, a few unexpected turns and a well established, albeit barren, wasteland of a world.
Overall, this is a good YA novel. You’ll come to love the main characters and want to see them succeed. There are a few twists you won’t see coming, that start very close to the beginning of the story. For entertainment value and creativity, I’m giving this one 3 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Creating Character Arcs by K.M.Weiland is a guide for authors to help them improve the writing of their character arcs.
The Bad Stuff: There were a lot of examples in this book and I know they may be useful to some, especially as the examples cover different genres. There is also the fact that, what clicks with one person may not click with another, so having more examples can be beneficial. But, it felt like filler to me, padding out the pages with extra words.
The Good Stuff: Well, I read this all the way through and at the start I was thinking ‘this is all pretty obvious’ and it is, but this spells it out and makes you aware of the process and methods. It really opened my eyes to how little consideration I have put into planning my character arcs in the past. I will certainly be more aware of this in future and I think I will be inclined to give it greater consideration in future. Hopefully I will see further improvement in my writing from this.
Overall it was a good read, easy to understand and informative and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a better understanding of character arcs. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book Review – The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is a story of hope. Vin is a Skaa. A slave girl who has learnt to trust nobody. Oppressed, beaten and betrayed, her life feels worthless, until she meets Kelsier, then everything begins to change.
The Bad Stuff: Okay, I’m going to be quite critical here in a nit-picking way, because I am actively looking for something to say on the bad stuff. Honestly, for me, it came down to two things. Firstly, in the beginning, there was a lot of white boarding in meetings. This took me out of the fantasy world and dropped me into the reality of my day job. There was also some word repetition with sentences ending in the same word or the same word being used several times in a paragraph. On the whole, these things were not a big issue for me, like I said… I’m nit-picking here!
The Good Stuff: I loved this book. There is an ‘Allomantic’ magic system like I have never seen before (maybe it’s been done before, but this is the first time I have seen it). Personally, I love martial arts and I love the Matrix. The Mistborn in The Final Empire remind of both, they’re like magical Ninja’s with Matrix type abilities. Who doesn’t love a magical Ninja! Kelsier and Vin are both strong characters you will love, both with their own tear jerking stories. The Inquisitors are an original and ominous foe and the Lord Ruler is as much a god as he is made out to be. The characters work well with their individual traits and the world is well constructed with class distinctions, and a believable economy built off the backs off the Skaa.
This is a great fantasy novel and I look forward to reading the rest of Brandon’s books. If they are all as good as this one, I’m in for a very enjoyable time.
This one gets a mist swirling, steel burning 5 out of 5 golden bookmarks.
by Ian J. Miller (Goodreads Author)
Repost of Alex G’s review
3 out of 5 Stars
Feb 11, 2017
This book’s extrapolation of a US as well as global dystopia is well-researched and not impossible, especially in light of the ongoing actions of the US President Trump. I particularly liked the beebots (view spoiler). The plot is a complex one and reads almost like a docu-drama, like Dragnet.
Although the inner thoughts of the main characters were spot-on in driving the plot forward, they are mostly analytical and inner emotions are not strongly expressed. Therefore, I didn’t feel terribly invested in their various fates. There were a few scenes that were well-done: between Ken, a low-level bank manager, and a sharpshooter and Ken, again, and Taylor (aka “Miss Black”) which had a solid amount of tension and the dialogue had character. If there were more scenes like those, then it would have been a more emotionally invigorating read.
A Dreadful Daughter’s Spells
by Leah Broadby, Molly Billygoat (Goodreads Author)
Repost of Michael Swensson’s review
5 out of 5 stars
Feb 13, 2016
Chloe stared at the faces staring back at her.
“But I’m not trained… my magic is…
unpredictable. My mum says I have ADD.”
“What is an ADD?” asked Timmy.
I don’t know. I think it stands for ‘A Dreadful Daughter’
or something like that, said Chloe sniffing.
Magic is all around us, but only a select few of us can experience it. One of those is thirteen year old Chloe Barker, who has a special form of magic called ‘Magiken.’ Her mother Bev just wants Chloe to act her age, not realising that eventually with the passing of time, this magic will disappear. Chloe can already see that happenning with her older friend Patrick, who is is losing all the magic from his life and turning into a typical teenage boy, interested in girls and thinking she is a freak.
Chloe is beside herself, not only at her own draining magiken, but also the fate of Patrick and not wanting to end up like many other local magiken children who are are going missing (despite her mother thinking otherwise). Chloe’s destiny will be thrust before her when on an outing to a local beach, where she will meet a starving painting boy that has somehow escaped it’s pictures confines and come to life. Timmy as he would soon be named by Chloe, with the help of ‘sand nymphs’ Anabel and Dez, vow to help her find the missing children. They are unaware though that Chloe has come the attention of the evil Skizen, who is drawn to her because of the strong magical powers she posseses.
I am going to be totally honest here and say ‘I can’t think of any critisism what so ever for A Dreadful Daughter’s Spells. I went into this book expecting a story full of interesting quirky characters with fantasy and magical realism themes a plenty, and while that was very much the case, what I did not expect was to be totally blown away by the writing that is assured and perfectly paced. Ok I got through the book in two sittings, but there was a reason for that, as I was hooked from the first page till last(bar sleeping) and at just over 200 pages it does not out stay it’s welcome. Overall this is absolutely sublime from start to finish and and easily stands beside A Little Life as the best books I have read this year.
Repost of Michael Swensson’s review
5 out of 5 stars
Mar 29, 2016
From the day Corim Colleran is born, his life was predetermined. In his world society is strictly controlled through order that says what education, jobs and how long you will live for. At the bottom of the order ladder, Corim’s life is taught to him through school. The main things he learns is his existence is short to prevent overpopulation and everything that goes with it, sex is a vital part of a teenagers development, so some may go on to be well paid sex workers and the three E’s, Expiration, Execution and Extension.
It will be the final one of these that says if someone dies, they can be brought back to life for three days, that is the main theme of of the book. When Corim finishes his education, he gets his medial job and gets married to the only girl he really loved, Kiri. All seems well for the happy couple who are in love and then experience the joy of being parents. That joy though will be shattered when Kiri, who is a sex worker is killed by a higher order client and brought back to life. For Corim this is agony knowing he has only days left with his beloved wife, only to have a chance to have her natural life reinstated after the accused offers to do so in exchange for a change in her statements at the trial.
The moral dilemma for Kiri is overwhelming. On one hand she wants to see her young son grow up and spend time with her husband. But on the other hand she craves justice. Not just for herself but also to ensure this does not happen to other sex workers. For Corim the decision seems a simple one, but the after the trial he is left sad and bitter. Not to his darling wife, but to the world he lives in and one he is determined to find out the truth about. What he will discover, will blow the lid on a Utopian society ruled by faceless immortals, that lie and play games with there inhabitants.
To say Three Days Breathing was a revelation for me was an understatement. The world that McGuire has created is one of the most disturbing dystopian worlds I have come across in fiction and could easily be compared to the likes of 1984, Logan’s Run and Brave New World. Written with such powerful conviction, this is a book you will race through. Thought-provoking and engrossing, it is the true definition of a modern classic.
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The Start Of The End Of It All And Other Stories
by Carol Emshwiller
A review by Stef Rozitis
4 out of 5 stars
Jan 25, 2017
bookshelves: 1981-1990, short-story, women, women-writers, read-women-2017, speculative
This anthology is frequently dark and disturbing. It goes into some psycho-social places I for one like to avoid. It is full of the irrational- desires and cruelty and various asymmetries of power (which at times get turned on their heads). There is tragedy, inevitable break-down and pain and the reoccurring themes seem to be the ageing female body and smallness. The characters in these stories frequently make choices between the rational and commonplace and the mythic “other”. These choices are presented as complex, characters throughout the stories do not all make the same choice and the same choice is not always “right” nor is any choice unproblematical there is always a heavy price paid which some of the characters seem to find worthwhile and others may not.
I didn’t enjoy every moment of reading this complex and dark weave of stories and the darkness and suffering in them was too extreme. I found them well crafted, stunningly original and thought provoking so at the end I am glad I read them.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book Review – Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie follows Shy South and her ‘father’ Lamb across wild country in search of kidnapped family.
The Bad Stuff: For me, this book was somewhat different from the others I’ve read by Joe. This one had a real western feel to it, which will be pleasing to some, but I would have preferred something more in line with his previous works in this world. I also didn’t connect to the main character as well in this novel as I have to his past protagonists.
The Good Stuff: There is everything I have come to expect from a Joe Abercrombie book, right here in this novel – Blood, gore and treachery a-plenty, well developed characters and a great yarn. We see some of his old, well-loved characters like Cosca, Shivers and the Bloody Nine. I love Logen Nine Fingers and I would have liked to have seen more of him, but he does play more than a cameo role in this story and that kept my appetite sated. The characters, are in line with Joe’s style, they are hard cases you love and hate all the same. They have a visible character arc through the story and come out changed characters at the end.
This one gets a menacing, sunken eyed, evil grin with 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ground Rules for Writers by Susan Ball and Sheryl Wright is a quick and easy reference guide for writers on commonly confused words and the rules of writing. English is a second language.
The Bad Stuff: If your native language is English and you had a decent education, you are likely to know a lot of the information in this book.
The Good Stuff: Even with English being my native language I found this book useful. I do not recall being taught half this information in my English class at school, but that might be because I was more interested in chatting to the girls; maybe I should have paid more attention.
I almost didn’t download this book, thinking it would not be much use. I was wrong, and I’m so glad I did download it. Considering this came up as a freebie on Amazon when I was browsing for another title, it was well worth it. In my opinion, the information within this book is good and unless you have studied English in depth, there is something in this book that will be useful to you. It will be especially useful if English is not your native tongue or if you had low results in English and are looking to improve. I’m giving this a pleasantly surprising 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks.