Tag Archives: ebook

Review of INDIE EBOOK The Backworlds by M. Pax

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This YA offering seemed intriguing and when I read the first page in the Sample, I was impressed with the strong, readable style and the vivid characterisation. So I downloaded it onto my Kindle. Would it continue to be as enjoyable?

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. After the war with the backworlds1Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the planets left. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son.

Cut off from family and friends with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

The initial couple of chapters pack a real punch – Craze’s hurt and amazement at his father’s double-cross is believable and immediately had me rooting for him. Pax shows her experience in the slick handling of her protagonist – too much fury and resistance would have unduly slowed the pace, while a mere defeated shrug would have still had the reader convinced that his father was a solid bastard, but would not necessarily have engendered quite as much sympathy for the main character. After his unpleasant ejection from his village, the story follows a familiar pattern – an inexperienced youngster having to make his way in an innately hostile and uncaring world.

This time around, the worlds are hostile with knobs on. In the aftermath of an interplanetary war, no one is particularly welcoming – except for the two aviarmen he encounters on his first journey offworld… And immediately the three of them spin off into an adventure, while trying to find a foothold somewhere to make their fortunes.

The writing is pacy, direct and very readable. Pax knows how to write an interesting, detailed character, provide an entertaining and believable backdrop, while keeping the action coming. I was swept along with the action and particularly enjoyed the colourful dialogue.

Any niggles? The only grumble I’ve got is that the book wasn’t long enough. Having said that, it was being offered for free, and the sequel is under £2.00 – am I going to buy it? Of course – I want another slice of Craze’s adventures.
8/10

Review of EBOOK Storm Over Warlock by Andre Norton

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This book is the first one in the omnibus edition of Norton’s work, Visions of Distant Shores: An Andre Norton Collection, containing seven of her novels. I uploaded it onto my Kindle for the princely sum of 77p.

stormoverShann Lantee is left stranded on the alien world of Warlock after the Survey camp where he works is wiped out in an attack by the Throgs, beetle-like beings so alien no one has figured out how to communicate meaningfully with them. Shann was signed up to feed and clean out the animals and perform all the lowliest tasks. He hasn’t been trained to survive on an alien planet. How will he manage to stay alive in this hostile environment against the most voracious and implacable enemy humankind has encountered?

This book was first published in 1960, but I have to say that it doesn’t feel like it. Norton’s straightforward, unfussy style is evergreen and her characterisation – refreshingly for one of the earlier sci fi writers – is well developed. She manages to keep the narrative pace right up and her scene setting is excellent. In short, she is a technically accomplished writer who has absolutely nailed recounting a cracking adventure story set on an alien planet. I enjoyed the steady growth of her protagonist throughout the story. Shann Lantee has been brought up hard – coming from a world where there are few prospects. He was the dogsbody who happened to be performing one more grubby thankless task when the Throgs struck. Worse, he’d been targeted by one of the younger members of the Survey team, who made it his business to constantly bully Shann and get him into trouble with the Survey leaders. Understandably, he is both relieved and guilty to discover that his tormentor is one of the Throgs’ victims. He hasn’t been specifically trained in the survival skills that other Survey members specialised in, but he isn’t totally without resources. One of those grubby tasks is to tend for the two genetically enhanced wolverines who are trained to hunt out the local wildlife and warn the Survey group of anything dangerous crashing about in the undergrowth – a real boon when all sorts of things crash about in the undergrowth, other than the Throgs.

From this strong opening, when we immediately bond with Shann and care about his predicament, we watch as he steadily gains in confidence while dealing with a variety of challenges throughout the story. For anyone struggling with how to structure a novel, this is a textbook example of how to achieve an exciting, readable story – and yes, the ending also satisfactorily ties up the dangling ends, while affording an opportunity to take the plot further.

This is only the second Andre Norton book I’ve read – but I would have happily paid a whole lot more than 77p to have read this one gem. And there’s six other books in the omnibus… More than worth every penny, even if the rest turn out to be real stinkers. And from what I’ve read so far, I’ve no reason to believe that the lady wrote stinkers… If you are a bit broke at the start of 2012 and looking for a bargain, quality read to add to your Kindle, then I highly recommend Visions of Distant Shores: An Andre Norton Collection. Happy Reading!
9/10

Review of KINDLE ebook The Chosen Soul by Heather Killough-Walden

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This was the first ebook I uploaded onto my shiny new Kindle – a very smooth and easy process by the way… Certainly a HUGE improvement on the Sony e-reader I acquired two years ago.

It was a dark and stormy night when the Stranger came to call. Sarah Grey’s second child was breached; the twin was going to die. The Stranger offered help. Twenty years later, Raven Grey, the second twin born on that fated night, is now an extraordinarily beautiful woman. With a gift. But what is the price to pay for that gift? If Raven and her brother cannot escape the handsome and powerful elf prince, outwit the dark and dangerous bounty hunter, and defeat the ancient, mighty Death Mage – Raven is sure to learn just what that price is. And pay dearly.

chosensoulThe opening to this story certainly packs a punch and drew me in. And from then, the adventure just galloped off. There was action aplenty with a host of exotic characters and a variety of difficult situations that Raven was forced to negotiate. If your favourite fantasy is of the swashbuckling variety that swoops you up and doesn’t stop till the end, then this will certainly tick your boxes. Killough-Walden is adept at providing a vivid description of the setting and introducing the characters who are about to be plunged into the next episode in Raven’s life and despite the constant action, I was never in any doubt where I was and what was going on.

However, the author’s trick of head hopping – switching viewpoint characters in the same scene did at times hamper the characterisation and jarred with me. I would have preferred it if she had provided more insight into her main protagonists, which would have also slowed the pace down and given the reader a chance to draw breath and get to know Raven better when she wasn’t fleeing or fighting, which would also give the book a bit more depth.

There were also sections where the formatting of the book was slightly compromised – the left-hand margins moved to the Indent setting for no good reason that I could see. But, when is all said and done – this book cost me just 70p. Did I get I get my money’s worth? Absolutely. Despite Killough-Walden’s breathless pacing and characterisation flaws, her energetic writing and clear story-telling held me to the end. Which is something of a cliffhanger as this is the first book in a series. And although I’ve read a few reviews of this book criticising the abrupt ending, I did feel that all the main plotlines were satisfactorily resolved. It certainly enlivened a long train journey…

7/10