Archive for April, 2013

daylight warMy initial reaction to the arrival of “The Daylight War” in the mail was “It’s a brick”, and at 802 pages and a good 5cm thick, it very definitely is. It’s taken me a while to read it as well, because unlike some, I did not find Brett’s style especially compelling. Don’t get me wrong, the man can string words together well enough, his prose is nicely descriptive, and his characters are rich and complex. And he does have some clever ideas, notably in the way his magic works, including an innovative use for polyhedral dice. I also liked his use of the naturally occurring alloy electrum as the “magic metal” as opposed to the invented materials we commonly see in fantasy novels.

But… there are problems with the structure both of the world Brett has created and of the novel itself. Brett’s map doesn’t have a scale, but travel times suggest this isn’t a huge area, so is this “the last bastion of humanity” – or is there a “rest of the world”? In any case, the geography doesn’t make much sense. Rivers don’t just split randomly as they flow down from the mountains, and deserts form in the rain shadow of mountains, not simply to the south of forests.

Brett has three societies in conflict. To the south there is a desert people with an “Arabian Nights” culture, to the north is a wild western medieval people inhabiting temperate forests and grasslands, and then there are the alien corelings who are the principal antagonist in the series. Where the corelings come from isn’t clear, though there are hints that their appearance caused the downfall of an earlier more technological civilisation. However, this can’t be our world, simply because nowhere is there any geography, physical or social, that remotely matches. I also have difficulty understanding how humanity could have survived for so many centuries with the depredation of nightly attacks by the demonic corelings.

The novel itself doesn’t flow that well either, mainly because the narrative frequently jumps both in place and in timeframe, something that I found quite disconcerting, and forcing me to keep checking the chapter heading to figure out when it was set. For example, the prologue got me interested in one character, Inevera, growing up in the desert society, then chapter one jumped forward thirty years into the future, to the main characters from the earlier novels, with their annoying “western” accents.

It isn’t until chapter 7 that the narrative returns to Inevera, having visited various other groups of characters on the way. Around chapter 20 the novel reaches its first climax, with the wedding of two major characters followed by a major battle for the northerners. The southerners get to their climatic fight in chapter 27 after a bit more arguing. This is followed by a very odd dénouement where one major character decides to have it out with another, and then the book ends, very abruptly on a very literal cliffhanger. If I’d been the editor, I’d have sent the manuscript back for a good solid re-write with a view to straightening out the narrative, and losing a whole lot of excess verbiage. Oh, and Brett doesn’t believe in “drawing the curtain”, so this is most definitely an adult novel in both senses of the word.

Some of the difficulties I have with “The Daylight War” result from the fact that this is not simply the third book in a series – it’s the third part of what is in effect one enormous multi-volume novel. This is a tendency in fantasy writing I find deplorable, and Brett’s blatant attempt to taunt readers into buying the next book by causing them to wonder what will happen next, frankly isn’t going to work on this reader. He has not succeeded in getting me interested enough to care, and I have better (and shorter) books to read…

Harper Voyager

Supplied by Harper Collins NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui

when our jack went to warJack McKay enlists in the army in 1917 to fight in World War One.  His younger brother Tom is envious and they vow to write to each other.  Jack tells the stories about his life through his letters home; training at Trentham, travelling on a troop ship, England then France and war.  Tom writes back with details of his life at home with his mum and sister in New Zealand; learning to knit, getting a puppy, hunting with his uncle.

This is a fictional story based on research into the author’s uncle, who died at Passchendaele.  I knew the ending was not good, but I couldn’t help hoping Jack would make it.  When he survived the Battle of Messines, I began to hope but then Tom wrote a moving letter to Jack.  It described the arrival of the telegram man that so many families faced.

This is a powerful book that lets you see close up how war affects soldiers, their families, and communities.  The descriptions of characters were compelling and they became real.  I hope this book is selected for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in 2014.  It deserves recognition.

Passchendaele was New Zealand’s worst military disaster, with hundreds of lives lost that day.  Around 17000 New Zealanders died in the First World War, with 41000 wounded.  The population of New Zealand was 1 million at the time.

lest we forget

Longacre

Supplied by Random House

Reviewed by Jan

my brothers keeperMissing person’s expert Diane Rowe is hired by Karen, an ex-P addict just released from prison, to find her daughter and ensure she is safe.  The crime Karen was imprisoned for was the attempted murder of her daughter.  Diane finds Karen’s daughter, Sunny, after a quick internet search which Karen could’ve done.  Suspicious of her client’s motives, Diane goes to check on Sunny’s safety.

At home in Wellington Diane’s boyfriend has bonded with her dog and her ex, her relationship has become serious, and her ex wants to sell the marital home.  Diane deals with this as her credit card balance dwindles and she keeps annoying police officers with her inability to keep her nose out of cases.  The adorable Wolf, Diane’s ex-police dog, appears throughout the book, as does the cute cop Robbie.

A strong, capable character, I’m impressed by Diane’s tenacity and her ability to have everything turn out ok in the end.  There where I few twists I didn’t see coming and the ending took be my surprise.  Set in Auckland and Wellington, the places were familiar and there were a few aspects unique to New Zealand.

I HAD to buy the second in the series as this series is so good!  Paperbacks are available from New Zealand websites only, but there is an e-book version.

HarperCollins

Bought from The Nile

Reviewed by Jan

Surrender review

Must Write Reviews

Posted: April 11, 2013 in nonfiction

mustwritereviews

lover at last bdb11Blay and Qhuinn finally get their HEA!

Part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood who battle the lesser to keep vampires safe, Blay and Qhuinn are tough, street-smart fighters.  Blay is in a relationship with Saxton, Qhuinn’s cousin and the Blind King’s lawyer.  He sees Qhuinn as eventually settling down with a female partner and is positive he loves Layla.  Qhuinn realizes he’s in love with Blay but is sure he’s in love with Saxton so buries his emotions.  After he took care of Layla during her needing in Lover Reborn she is carrying their young.  Layla is still adjusting to life on the other side and happy to have someone to love in the baby.  She can’t stop thinking about the traitor Xcor though.

Xcor and the Band of Bastards are recruiting support among the glymera to overthrow the king.  They are also fighting the lesser that are growing stronger, thanks to the new Fore-lesser and his entry of them into drug dealing.  Assail controls the flow of drugs into Caldwell and only cares about money, hence his business dealings with the lessers.  He is distancing himself from Xcor, not wanting to be drawn into political games.  Someone is watching him though, a human female who he is fascinated with.  Trez is avoiding his fellow Shadows, or s’Hisbe, who want to bring him home to be the sex slave of the queen’s daughter.  For years he has sullied himself with humans in the hopes of avoiding this fate.  The only one who can protect him is his brother, iAm.

A tight plot with several story threads intertwined, you need to be familiar with the BDB world to fully grasp who is who and understand the backstories.  There is a lot of action and violence, and it’s definitely erotica and R18.  The main story line is between two males, so if you disapprove of same sex relationships don’t read this.  I was a bit disappoint that the heroes didn’t get it together until 10 pages from the ending but look forward to seeing more of Trez in future stories.  Xcor and Layla’s story will be great!

Piatkus

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Lover Reborn: BDB10 review

cattras legacy

Risha lives a simple life, herding goats in the mountains with her father, Palon.  Shunned in her village as an outsider, when Palon dies she is turned out of the cottage they shared.  Going through his possessions she finds letters and a name from another city.  She leaves the village with a group of traders, determined to find out about her mother.

The journey provides more danger than she expected and she has to disguise herself as a boy.  Fleeing from bandits is not the only danger Risha faces, as finding who to trust can be dangerous.  Caught up in political intrigue and having to hide from those who want to kill her, Risha slowly finds the truth about her heritage.

The plot follows a classic story and is full of action, moving at a quick pace so nothing is ever boring.  The heroine Risha is a strong character who doesn’t sit round wringing her hands and waiting for rescue, preferring to rescue herself.  She develops into a strong leader and strategic thinker and grows throughout the story.

This is a wonderful book, well written and hard to put down.  I read in two days, only putting it down as I needed sleep.  I think this story is fantastic and a possible SJV contender.  I’m eagerly awaiting the next stage in Risha’s journey.

Longacre

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

anticipationanticipationJanine is a successful real estate agent who also buys derelict houses too do up and sell.  This time she buys an island to live on and while doing it up tells the story of her life, switching from her present life; to her childhood with her mother; to her recent past with her husband.  Her mother was obsessed with genealogy and finding out about her ancestor’s lives.  She used to tell Janine idealized stories of their lives, viewed though rose-coloured glasses.  Then she gets sick and Janine continues the search and recording their stories.

This is a very well written book with a tightly wound, fascinating plot that moved seamlessly between the different time periods.  You have to concentrate at first to keep everything straight but as the story continued, you got a better understanding of the story.  The character of Janine is strong and likeable, with minor character real and believable.  The stories told of ancestors are very realistic and enjoyable.  Buy this book and read it cover to cover.  It’s great.

The talented author is a New Zealander and the book is set in the Invercargill of the past and present-day Auckland.  Her second novel, this is a compelling read and raises the question of how much of our past and future we want to know.

Vintage

Supplied by Random House

Reviewed by Jan