Heartless — Marissa Meyer

Another book for fans of all things ‘Alice and Wonderland’.

In Heartless, Marissa has certainly written a very good prequel to the Lewis Carroll books, so much so that i now feel the need to re-read Wonderland and Looking Glass.

If you’ve ever wondered why the Hatter is Mad, why the Queen of Hearts likes chopping everyone’s heads off, where Jabberwockies come from, and lots more besides, then this is the book for you.

Well written, very enjoyable and quite unputdownable.

Marissa’s Page

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Blood & Tears — Patty Jansen

The final book in this trilogy that has certainly kept me turning the pages and wanting more.

My only complaint with this book is that it’s collected together all the main protagonists from the previous two books and hops, back and forth, between each of their stories.   Not normally a problem but because there are so many protagonists, each with their own little story to tell you, there are quite a few chapters between the chapter you leave off one protagonist’s story and the chapter you pick it back up again: each chapter in between belonging to a different protagonist’s story.   This all leaves you starting each new chapter having to make an effort as to what the protagonist of that chapter was doing when you last heard from them.   It’s not unwieldly or chaotic, but just loses the flow a little bit each time you get to a new chapter and you have to stop and think about where you are in the overall story each time.

And it’s not that i’m not used to dealing with lots of protagonists with contrasting story lines, i’ve read plenty of books like that; it’s just that in this book it just seemed to not quite flow as well and i’m not quite sure why.

And then all the protagonists stories coalesce into one single main event and *** BOOM *** it’s all over, finished, thank you very much for reading.

Maybe it’s just me being rather curmudgeonly, but i kinda wanted a lot more from the ending considering how much went on to get to it.   I really enjoy a good ending — don’t we all — and this ending really didn’t balance with the story that lead to it.

Or maybe it’s just that i didn’t want the trilogy to end so soon: maybe it could have done with another 100 pages just to keep this curmudgeon happy.

Yeah, so that all said, i did enjoy this trilogy as a whole and i’ll certainly be reading the “Moonfire Trilogy” sometime in the future to see what happens once everything has settled down from the icefire chaos.

Patty’s Page

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Dust & Rain — Patty Jansen

Just when you thought it couldn’t get grimmer, Patty managed to pull it off.

So the City of Glass has shattered and icefire is spilling across the land chasing lots of surviving refugees as it burns and destroys everything in its path.

Then we throw our bunch of rather troubled protagonists from the 1st book into the refugees; have another bunch of them chasing some of them and causing lots of nasty along the way; throw a whole bunch more troubled protagonists into the country they’re heading to; stir up all the political nonsense that a time of crisis deserves and then hit the capital city with a huge bunch of the afore mentioned refugees coming via train and road — oh, and, nearly forgot, the refugees are contaminated with high levels of icefire, mostly injured, very hungry and needing shelter.

The one thing i like about this book is the pacing.   Patty keeps everything concerning the refugees really moving along at a good pace until we get to the parts with the politicians.   Suddenly, the pace slows and it feels like the story is trudging along.   This is so like real life; whenever there’s a crisis you can guarantee the only people dragging their heels — forming committees to discuss things while people are actually dying — will be the politicians who are always more concerned with what they can get out of it for their political careers.   Point well made, Patty.

It follows straight on from book one, Fire & Ice, without a pause for breath, and i’m very much diving straight into and devouring book 3, Blood & Tears, with only a little respite to write this review along the way.

So now, if you’ll excuse me, i’m off to read Blood & Tears.

Patty’s Page

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Fire & Ice — Patty Jansen

My first comment about this book is that it should be made clear at the point of sale that this book contains male on male rape scenes.   I’m pretty sure not everyone wishes to buy books with such content in them for very obvious reasons.

That said, let’s get on with the review.

As a first book in a trilogy i was very impressed.   I feel it’s certainly set the stage for some good grimdark fantasy to come.   It isn’t pleasant, the characters are flawed and too busy struggling with their own shit to worry about you, the reader — get over it!

No really, looking at some reviews i don’t think some people get this genre of story telling: you ain’t getting it laid out all spotlessly cleaned and ironed with your clean socks in the morning, it’s crumpled, still got stains and a bit of a stale wiff to it.   But they’re the only clothes you’ve got for the day so just throw ’em on and get out and enjoy the adventure they take you on.

To sum up, this was a great beginning to a trilogy that also has another trilogy following straight after.   As the stage builder for this grimdark, disturbing world that the story is set in, it’s certainly got my interest and i’m diving straight into Dust & Rain to see if what follows can meet my expectations.

Patty’s Page

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The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald

While i think that this is a really good book, and a thoroughly enjoyable read, i certainly don’t think that it deserves to be ranked as one of the ‘best novels of the 20th century’ and all the other plaudits it gets.

Basically, this story boils down to: poor young man falls in love with a rich, young and beautiful woman but doesn’t have the wealth to support her in the life to which she is obviously accustomed.

So Gatsby disappears from her life and sets out to become the wealthy man that he thinks will attract her.   In the meanwhile, once Gatsby’s disappeared from her life, she meets and marries someone more of her class, breeding and money.   But all the while Gatsby’s been stalking her until he has the courage to finally reveal himself and all the wealth he has somehow amassed.

So yeah, nothing much new there.   You can find plenty of books of that ilk, plenty better books published in the 20th century, and plenty better American novels.

But what you can’t find very often is the delightful prose in which this is written and the way the story is presented.   And the story is rather more nuanced than my simple precis above.

So yeah, definitely a good book and well worth a read, but it’s certainly not the greatest and i’m certainly not planning on ever reading it again.

Scott’s Page

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The Little Pink Book — JT Lawrence

Another delightful short from Janita.

It’s about a midwife who’s at work helping a woman give birth, as midwives are prone to do.

Apparently, one needs to trust ones midwife, and Janita assures the reader of this thus making it a fact.

Maybe it’s probably not a great book to read if you are pregnant.

Janita’s Page

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Jonathan Livingston Seagull — Richard Bach

I fail to understand why this book is lauded by so many people.   I fail to see why this book is regarded as inspirational.

It’s like: completely ignore anyone else, even if they might actually be right, and just go and do anything you feel like, no matter how dangerous to yourself or to others around you.   Remember, your ego is the most important thing in the universe so get out there and show off your ability to be better at something than everyone else.

What, you’re not better at something than everyone else?   Well you best get out there and practice and work hard every single day from dawn till dusk until you are better than everyone else.

And then when you’re better than everyone else go and tell them you are.   Make sure all that hard work and effort isn’t wasted by not having anyone be inspired by you, you super amazing thing you, oh, just look at the size of that amazing ego shining forth from your…

Do make sure to let all the dull and boring people know how utterly amazing you are as you ignore the 30 mph speed signs and drive your amazingly fast car over 150 mph down these busy, boring, urban streets; past schools and playgrounds where the children of dull and boring parents await eagerly to be inspired by your rebellion.   Ignore what anyone else has to say, even if they may actually be right and have a very good reason to say it.   Don’t worry if you kill or injure anyone while doing your stupid stunts, just make sure they all get to see how amazing you are.

Ho hum, call me curmudgeon, i’m off shopping on me moped.

Richard’s Page

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The Other Eight — Joseph R. Lallo

I admit to not being into all this super hero stuff — a bit of batman is as far as it goes with me.   So why was i reading this book?   Because it was written by Joseph — nuff said.

The reason i don’t like the normal super hero thing is that it’s all just plain stupid: get bit by a radio active spider and suddenly you can climb walls and beat the hell out of super villains.   Yeah, whatevah!   But The Other Eight takes that just plain stupid thing to the most silly it can get and just has some fun with it.   And, i have to say, it actually works.

At last a super hero story that actually sets out to be silly, rather than a silly super hero story trying it’s hardest to be serious.

So yeah, i like it.   Because every now and again one needs a bit of silly in ones life and this book fills that spot exceptionally well.   And just to make sure you actually get that message, Joseph throws in a relevant quote from the great Willy Wonker:

‘A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.’

Great writing, fun characters, fun story, just fun.


Joseph’s Page

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The Legend of Socket Greeny — Tony Bertauski

And so ends the Socket Greeny Saga, and what an ending it all turned out to be.

There was a point near the beginning of this final book where i thought it looked very clear how this was going to go, and i admit to feeling a little disappointed.

‘But wait, read on’, i told myself; ‘before jumping to conclusions.’

Tony does enjoy his plot twists and this one just seemed to keep on twisting, as further and further down the rabbit hole of Socket’s true nature we went.   My little disappointment didn’t last long at all — sorry for ever doubting you Tony.

And the final word is…


wait for it…


Yup, this whole saga has been totally enjoyable and very unputdownable.   Which, although it’s been quite a while since i read Halfskin, is what i remember feeling about that series as well.

Yes folks, Tony is a great writer who, if you’re into his kind of sci-fi, will certainly keep you engaged all the way until the last page.   Great characters, great writing, with a nice standard everyday lexicon that doesn’t leave you having to use look up at all: which does make the reading experience a lot more immersive.

All i can say is that i’m very much looking forward to next time the “Infinite Improbability Drive” picks one of Tony’s books to read.

Tony’s Page

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The Training of Socket Greeny — Tony Bertauski

Oh wow, that was rather exciting.   I usually read for about an hour or so at bedtime but last night i picked up this story at 21% in and couldn’t put it down until i’d totally devoured the lot.

The first third of the book mostly deals with Socket’s training and how bad he’s getting it from his trainer, his mother’s interference, his own issues with it, etc..   Then, while supposed to be taking a break at home it all begins to unravel for Socket as he moves closer to his final test, and then, big badda kaboom!!!   The last third of this book is relentless, and, for me at least, totally unputdownable.

Tony is a fantastic writer with a great imagination and the writing ability to convey it.

So, with that said, i’m off to dive straight into ‘The Legend of Socket Greeny’.

Tony’s Page

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