Should Books Have Happy Endings?

Let me start off by saying that this post will refer to the fantasy genre, as opposed to other genres. I’m not asking whether tragedies should have a happy ending because – hey – that’s a silly question really isn’t it?

This is something I’ve been thinking about recently. We all know the sort of stories where the knight in shining armour saves the beautiful princess from the dangerous dragon, takes her back to the glorious king who gives him her dainty hand in marriage. Happily ever after (and what a depressing use of adjectives, if I may say so!). Is that how a story whould always be? Should a fantasy author mould himself to the happy ending, giving absolution to whatever hurts the hero has gotten (I couldn’t find a synonym for ‘gotten’ beginning with a ‘h’ to get that alliteration flowing, my apologies [I seem to be waxing prose today!])? Continue reading

Advertisements

The Language of Stones (Robert Carter) Book Review

Right then, let’s get this show on the road! I have now finished the most recent book I’ve been commissioned to review by an author; ‘The Language of Stones’ by Robert Carter, the first book of a trilogy set. In fact, I came across Robert’s work myself, on the Goodreads website. I read through his biography and tre book description and I was enthralled, it sounded great. I sent Robert an email if he’d like a review of the book, and to m delight he said yes. And what a journey it’s been for me through this book.


The Language of Stones is, as Robert himself describes it, a story about a boy becomes a man. Young William (or Will, or Willand, or even Willy-Wag Staff) is a boy from a small village called Nether Norton. That’s what he thinks anyway, but a certain wizard knows more than that, and reveals even less. Master Gwydion appears at Will’s house at the dark of night, and whisks him away with all but no explanation.
A magic flows through the land, through the ligns, channels of power connecting many stones together. Stones of power. For these are the Ancient Stones, in which is contained much of the harm of the realm. Times are changing though, and the power of the lorc flows. The battlestones begin drawing men and etching out suffering to the world. Master Gwydion believes that he has the key, the young boy Willand, to prevent the calamity of war. However, Maskull, an evil sorcerer akin to Gwydion himself plots against him, and threatens to use the battlestones to wreak havoc. Gwydion and Willand must move quickly, for the third coming of Great Arthur is at hand!

Note: I have found it very difficult to summarize The Language of Stones, for it is a very deep and complex novel, and I can’t quite seem to pin it down in words. It is a tale of epic proportions; of magic, heroism and the love and loss of many. For a full description, read the author’s words on his work here. Continue reading

Dark Rift – The Grey Tower (Alesha Escobar) Book Review

Yay, my second free book review, again from the wonderful Ms. Escobar. Dark Rift is the sequel to The Tower’s Alchemist in the Grey Tower trilogy, you can see the previous review here. I hope you went and bought it, as this really is an awesome series, gripping and thrilling. You can probably tell from my buoyancy that I enjoyed this book; and you bet I did! Let’s get going, then.


In Dark Rift, Agent Isabella George knows that she is The Drifter – the time travelling wizard seeking the Akashik Records. Except she isn’t looking to infiltrate and steal the records. However, the Grey Tower law states that all Drifters must be hunted down and killed for the threat they post. Isabella’s father, a master Philsopher has them believing that he is the Drifter, and the seven trackers hunt him without pause. The war still rages through Europe, and Octavian’s forces are still pushing at the Allies. Isabella knows that she must prove to the Tower that she will use her powers as the Drifter to help them, whilst keeping them secret all the while. Octavian, however, is planning his move.


The plot of this book is not quite as fast as the previous book. There is a reason for this, however – it all adds to the sense that Isabella is treading on eggshells. She is trying to figure out the secret of her powers, and waiting for her father to contact her. She knows that time is limited, but she cannot expose herself for fear of becoming a fugitive of the Tower. There are a lot more subtleties to this plot, and it makes for a very rich read. It’s not quite as action packed as Tower’s Alchemist, but this serves to highlight the fun when it really starts blazing; and there are a few scenes where things get pretty intense. It’s a very believable plot line, and Isabella does not overstep her bounds. You see, I saw one comment on the net regarding these books which claimed that whenever Isabella gets into trouble, she just uses a new power to fix things again. This is definitely not true, the author stays within the bounds of the restrictions she has placed on her character and doesn’t use a deus ex machina! This plotline will grip you relentlessly, and I’m sure you’ll absolutely love it. Going back to the romantic subplot I discussed in the previous review, it has refined a little. Let me just say this; one of the two blokes gets knocked off, so the choice becomes pretty clear. However, Ms. Escobar doesn’t move on to begin creating a relationship there. Will we see this in the third book? I don’t know for certain, but I can’t wait to find out!


If you remember (or have read the books) you’ll know that the characters of the books are of a really good quality. They are incredibly deep, and believable. Not much is done to advance Isabella’s character, though we do see new elements of it. There aren’t too many new characters brought in, though we meet Isabella’s family. I’ve found it quite hard to tell which (if any) of the new characters will become a major plot element. We learn the names of a few of the seven trackers, most specifically Hotaru. However, I get the feeling that his part is played by the end of the novel, as you’ll be able to tell when you read it.We meet Octavian, but there aren’t any forays as to exposing him as a character, although I’d love to find out more about him in the third book. He’s been built up as an almost godlike figure, incredibly powerful and nigh on impossible to destroy. I doubt we’ll see it, but I think it would be amazing if there were a few chapters from his point of view in the third book, so as to show just how twisted and insane he is. Isabella’s first person thought-stream is also still vivid and very enjoyable to be a part of. The characters are much in the vein of the first book, so there isn’t a huge need for adaptation.


Again, I have tried for a balanced review, and I feel that I have given it. It’s a very positive review as I really loved the book, but I hope the author can take the few pieces of advice I’ve imparted on-board. Thinking about it, it’d be really nice to think I’ve given a little bit into the final book, but that’d be indulgent of me. I really think you should purchase this book (and the first). They’re wonderful examples of modern literature, and anybody into fiction-fantasy is in for a wonderful ride! It’s only $4 on the Kindle, as it’s a very recently published novel (only a few months off of the press). Please, please download, and take a look at Alesha’s site (that’s free).

9/10. I really loved this book, and I’d recommend it highly. Congratulations, Ms. Escobar, another successful novel!

The Tower’s Alchemist – The Grey Tower Trilogy (Alesha Escobar) Book Review

Well, how’s that for a long title? Anyway, no matter. Now, I’m very excited about giving you all this book review. The reason being, it’s my first requested review! Ms. Escobar contacted me at datbookreviews.gmail.com to ask I I could review her book. I put up the ‘What Can I Do For You?’ page ages ago, but haven’t had any interest. Until now, yay! I’ve really enjoyed speaking with Ms. Escobar, and I’d love for you to visit her blog here. It’s been a pleasure chatting with Ms. Escobar via email, and she has very kindly provided me the second book for reading as well!


Isabella is a trained wizard – an alchemist by distinction. She’s working for the Allies’ Special Operations, and it’s World War 2. She’s tired though. She’s had enough of fighting, and hands in her resignation saying this mission will be her last. The mission? Extract the Warlock Veit Heilveig from where he is creating chemical weaponry for the Germans. Under the guises of Emelie and Noelle, Isabella makes as many enemies as friends as she strives to find Heilveig. When she finds him, though, he is not the person he is thought to be – and nor is she. As secrets of her dead father begin to circulate, Isabella has more and more to contend with; and love not least.


The plot of this book runs well. I wouldn’t say it’s an easy read, but it doesn’t chop around so as it doesn’t make sense. The book is written in the first person narrative voice, which means that the whole of the book is shown through Isabella’s eyes. This means that we aren’t confused by swapping perspectives and hopping around, which can make a book difficult to read. The plot moves at a fair pace, and you won’t find yourself getting bored! I myself was compelled to keep reading. I didn’t feel like the ‘romance subplot’ was a major element of the book, more a subtle undertone. However, the book isn’t a romance novel, so I think that this is right. Whether or not the author will choose to expand on this or not I’m not sure, but I found it to be an interesting part of the novel. It is kept on edge which way Isabella will go, so it isn’t a drab “yeah, she’ll choose the unlikely one”. Another subplot that Ms. Escobar has going is that of Isabella’s father. Thought to be dead, Isabella is beginning to not be so sure. It begins as a small thread of the story – a subplot if you will – but towards the end of the book it becomes more and more entwined with the solid plot, and it’s set to be a main string of the next book (I love my rope analogy – the story is a rope, and the subplots that make it up are it’s fibres. Loose ends are the frayed ones that stick out of the end, and weaker parts of the story is where the rope is worn). Either way, this plot will definitely keep you hooked.


Writing in the first person voice can be a risky manoeuvre. If you can’t feed the constant thought and emotion into the character, then it can feel like a cutout paper character with no depth. This doesn’t happen here. One thing I’ve found is that in writing first person, the perspective character seems to draw off of the personality of the author or somebody the author knows well. Let me say this; Ms. Escobar either has, or knows somebody with a very interesting personality! Unfortunately, I don’t know her well enough to say. Isabella is a very interesting and depthful (it’s a word now) lady and a pleasure to read about. You can very much tell that she has strong feelings about how she no longer wants to play the game, and the hate she has for the warlocks, especially the vampiric Cruenti. We feel her pain as she loses two of her friends, and it is all very real. There are quite a few different characters that can get a little confusing, but if you’re on the ball then you’ll manage just fine. It’s just the small difference between Brande and Bernarde (I thought it might be a nickname, but they’re separate people). I also thought Ernest and Gabriel were one person (they aren’t). It’s not something that takes from the book, just something you should watch out for. It also doesn’t help that most people go by other alias names for their spy-work, so just keep on top of it all.


I’d just like to write a little about new authors. This book has opened my eyes to the fact that a book doesn’t become a bestseller off of the printing press. The authors all start somewhere. Just because you haven’t heard of the author, doesn’t mean that it won’t be as good as a printed published author. The Tower’s Alchemist is better than a good few of the books that I have on my bookshelf that are sold physically in major chain stores. This book has no reviews on iBooks, and before now I would have glided over such a book as a risky purchase. On Amazon.com most of the reviews are very good, and the overall rating is 4.5 stars. Some nut on Amazon.co.uk has given it a 2 star rating which I feel is highly unfair as it is a very good book. Shame on you, Bob. Therefore, I’d like to say thank you to Alesha for opening my eyes to the fact that authors are real people, and it isn’t popularity that makes a book, it’s the book that makes the popularity. Thenceforth, I am going to try and take this blog in a new direction in helping new authors gain publicity. Subscribe and watch the blog for more information on this.


Now, for the rating! I hope you can tell that I think thi has been a greta book, and I dearly hope you’ll all read it. It’s $2.99 for Kindle – that’s like a packet of cigarettes you don’t need, or a coffee, or maybe a McDonald’s burger. I don’t believe there’s anybody who can’t afford a coffee for a good read and to help a great writer keep writing. I promise you won’t regret this book. I’m not a big reader of spy-books, but I really enjoyed this one.

The Tower’s Alchemist left me wanting more, so I’m giving it a 9/10. What a book.

Alone On a Wide Wide Sea (Michael Morpurgo) Book Review

Since I read this years and years ago, this book has been one of my favourite books. I really don’t know what it is about it, but the story touched me in some way and I’ve never been able to forget it. I’ve picked it up and re-read it that many times, and I enjoy it just as much every time. A wonderful book, in my opinion. Of course, being a Morpurgo book it is a slightly younger reading age/style but I do really love it. I hope you do too.


Part 1: In AOaWWS, is the story of an English orphan, Arthur. Separated from his sister Kitty, Arthur is sent to Australia on a boat. He makes a friend in a boy called Marty whilst on the boat, and they refuse to be separated in Sydney. Eventually, they end up on a farmhouse with a group of other boys, under the command of the ruthless Piggy Bacon. After a long while of beatings and toil, the pair escape through the Australian bush, and come under the care of Aunty Megs. She looks after them for a time, but ultimately sends them away for work at a Boat Yard. From there, events transpire for both boys – young men now.
Part 2: Arthur now has a wife, and a daughter Alexis ‘Allie’. After hearing his story, Allie makes Arthur promise her that they would sail to England and find his sister Kitty (her Aunty). Together they design a boat – the Kitty 1, a bath toy. Kitty 2, a pond boat. Kitty 3, a river racer. Finally, there is Kitty 4, a full sea-boat. Unfortunately, Arthur dies before he can make the journey. Allie vows she will continue with the search, and sets off alone on the Kitty 4 for England, her progress tracked by the Kitty 4 website. Continue reading

The Last Legion (Valerio V. Manfredi) Book Review

It’s been about a week since I wrote my last book review (or post on this blog, for that matter), which I feel fairly guilty about. Yes, I’ve got work mounting up, but it’s all too easy to use that as an excuse. Therefore, I am imposing a two-post-a-week rule upon my reviews. Hopefully this will push me back into the swing of things.


The Last Legion is a book I picked up on impulse whilst on holiday when we were in the supermarket. I’d never heard of the author, Manfredi, and neither have I since. However, it caught my eye and I don’t bias against unknown authors – everybody’s got to start somewhere. Apparently it’s a ‘major motion picture’ too. I’ve never seen it.


The Last Legion (TLL) is the story of a legion of Romans, the ‘last’ legion. Their mission is to escort the young emperor of Rome to safety through the amassed barbarian whom are taking over the land. The emperor first must be saved from their clutches though, and they must assault the guarded place in which he is kept along with his tutor. Upon being rescued – albeit closely – he is in possession of a valuable and mythical item; ‘The Calibian Sword of Julius Caesar’. As they fly towards Britain, the plot finishes in a brilliant twist that links in with the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Continue reading

Authors on My Shelf

Just a little thing I thought might be interesting: Which authors take up the most space on my shelf! Here’s the top five.

1.Darren Shan: 45cm

2. Rachel Caine: 33cm

3. J.K. Rowling: 28cm

4. J.R.R Tolkien: 26cm

5. Angie Sage / Anthony Horowitz: 23cm

Okay, maybe this is a top six, depending on which way you look at it. I think the explanations of these are as follows. Shan’s Demom, Vampire, and spinoffs are on my shelf, lending him number one. The majority of Caine’s Morganville Vampires are there also, and that’s a long series. Rowling’s Harry Potter (obviously), plus Tales of Beedle the Bard and a few others. Tolkien is the three LOTR, Tales of the Perilous Realm, Unfinished Tales, Children of Hurin and the Hobbit (not the Silmarillion, though I’ve read it). Sage is the Sep Heap books and Horowitz’ Alex Rider.

Maybe that’s of interest to you. Maybe not. What’s on your shelf?