Saturday, July 28, 2018

The dead ex by Jane Corry

Vicki has left her old life behind - the good and the bad.  Living in a small seaside town and working as an aromatherapist, her old life is just a memory.  Her peace and quiet is shattered when there is a knock at her door and she discovers that her ex husband has been reported missing, and that she is a suspect in his disappearance.  It's a nightmare situation, especially when the police start to uncover little things that she has keep hidden, little secrets and little actions that may be innocent on the surface but made the police very suspicious.  When she is forced to admit that she has epilepsy it changes the tone of the investigation, especially when she admits that the seizures and medication she takes can cause memory lapses.  As the police and her lawyer investigate her past, secrets that Vicki thought long buried bubble to the surface and threaten to bury her - in grief, or in prison.

As a child Scarlet and her mother would play the game.  Sometimes it was a little scary, but Scarlet was proud of the fact that she and her mother played the game together and that she did a really good job even though she was only eight years old.  That all changes when they are playing the game and the police swoop in arresting Scarlet's mother and dumping Scarlet into the foster system.  For a sheltered young child like Scarlet the foster system is a nightmare of older children who bully her, a foster mother intent on making money and taking as little care of them as possible, and moments that will scar her for life.  The only thing she wants is to be reunited with her mother, but with her mother locked up in prison that is unlikely to happen anytime soon - and when her mother does something unspeakable in prison Scarlet is left confused and vulnerable.

The dead ex is a fast paced read that switches viewpoints between characters in the past and the present.  As you move through the present time, the glimpses of the past help you to unravel the story and untangle the little mysteries about why things have happened the way they have - helping you find little clues to what might be happening and why.  For some readers the switching viewpoints and points in time may be a little confusing and/or frustrating, but using this technique allows Corry to keep the story moving along at a decent speed without clumsy introductory chapters.  

This style suits Corry very well and it was a nice challenge to see if you could figure out where the story might be moving next.  It was also unusual to have a story focused around prisons and prison staff, and the tightly controlled world that exists behind those bars - and the things that aren't as tightly controlled as they should be.  Hopefully there are many more books to come from Corry.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey

Oathbreakers us the sequel to The oathbound, and while you can read it as a standalone book you will enjoy it more if you have read The oathbound or the short stories in Oathblood.

After years of working on their own and building their reputations, Tarma and Kethry joined the ranks of Idra's Sunhawks.  It may seem an odd move for two mercenaries to join a company and follow someone else's lead, someone else's rules, but they both know that being part of a good mercenary company will teach them more about their chosen trade and help them go from good to great.  It is a lot of work, and their current campaign is both tedious and hard fought in the rain and cold.  Thankfully, Tarma and Kethry both have useful skills that have helped them rise within the ranks of the Sunhawks, and those skills are soon put to very good use in the campaign - and beyond.

When Idra returns to her home in Rethwellan to help sort out family business Kethry and Tarma are free to spend time in the Company's home town of Hawksnest - a chance for some much needed rest and relaxation.  Their R&R is short lived however, because Idra has not returned from her little trip 'home' and those closest to her are no longer receiving letters from her or news about her.  Travelling to Rethwellan is the only way to find out what happened, and it falls to Kethry and Tarma to make the journey to find out what they can.  

What they find is worse than they feared - Idra has disappeared without a trace and the no one seems to be willing to speak about Idra or the brother who allegedly betrayed the Crown and his family.  When Kethry and Tarma are forced to reveal themselves as more than the horse traders they pretend to be, they have to flee for their lives.  It is a race against time and the weather as they flee in the direction of the runaway Prince, hoping to find out what happened to Idra while also dreading what they will find.  The truth they uncover on their journey will set them on a path that will bring the wraith of the Sunhawks down on those responsible.

Someone recently reminded me that Mercedes Lackey is sometimes seen as 'puff' fantasy, or not 'serious' fantasy - and they discovered pretty quickly what I thought of that opinion!  Pretty covers not withstanding, this is some pretty hard hitting fantasy with some pretty heavy themes.  Tarma and Kethry are one of the most enduring fantasy partnerships for me not only because they compliment each other so well, but also because they are not perfect - they fight, they disagree, they have good days, they have bad days, and they face real lose.  The challenges they face are also an intriguing mix of brains, battles, and clever disguises. 

It was a pleasure to return to their lives and reconnect with them, especially as I moved on to Oathblood as soon as I finished Oathbreakers!  I hope to re-read By the sword sometime soon as with all the reminders about Tarma and Kethry it feels like it might be time to reconnect with their 'clan' too.

If you like this book then try:
  • Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Magics pawn by Mercedes Lackey
  • Winds of fate by Mercdes Lackey
  • The Elvenbane by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton
  • Throne of glass by Sarah J Maas
  • Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff
  • If I pay thee not in gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
  • Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
  • The diamond throne by David Eddings
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, July 6, 2018

The oathbound by Mercedes Lackey

When her entire clan is slaughtered, her body defiled and left for dead, Tarma defies the odds and survives.  Needing revenge for all that she has lost, Tarma seeks out the service of her goddess and becomes one of the Sword Sworn - an elite group of Shin'a'in who leave behind their clan names and become weapons for their goddess, as sexless as the weapons they weild in Her name.  It was the only choice for Tarma to make, one that she would make again, even though it means her clan will die because the Sword Sworn belong to all the clans and not just one.  As Tarma tracks the men that destroyed her clan she develops the skills she will need for her revenge, taught by warriors that have tread the same path she now walks.  

When she closes in her quarry she discovers that she is not alone in her pursuit of the bandits - although her fellow hunter is something of a surprise.  Kethry is the last thing Tarma would have expected - she is a beautiful and talented sorceress.  It is also a surprise to discover that Kethry is not alone, she keeps the company of a sword named Need, who has bonded to Kethry with the simple purpose of helping women.  It soon becomes clear that Kethry has brains to match her beauty, and that they make very good partners indeed - even if Need seems determined to put them in harms way.  When the kyree Warrl joins their team it makes them formidable and easily underestimated.

As Tarma and Kethry set out to develop a reputation and build a name for themselves they will come across some very interesting stories indeed.  With her skills as  Sworn Sworn Tarma is a match for most, able to defend herself with steel and attack with steel and arrow.  When Tarma is outnumbered she can count on Warrl to lash out with teeth and claws, an ally smart enough to know when to fight and when to run.  With Need at her side Kethry can protect herself in a fight, while lending her magical skills of attack and disguise to whatever adventure they happen upon next.  They are a true partnership, sharing a bond deeper than friendship, but they also have to learn to trust each other and know when to trust that the other can take care of themselves.  A lesson they must learn quickly, because danger lurks around every corner and not even the deepest bond to the Goddess can protect them from everything.

The oathbound is the first book in the Vows and honour series and is both an enjoyable fantasy romp and a thoroughly inspiring read about family, friendship, and looking out for each other.  What begins in quite a brutal and horrifying fashion manages to bring elements of magic and a good dose of humour.  I have not read these books for quite a few years and it was nice to reunite with the characters and see where they started - although the original short stories are in Oathblood which is considered the third book in this series.  A great read, and a great start to re-reading the series.  

If you like this book then try:
  • Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Magics pawn by Mercedes Lackey
  • Winds of fate by Mercdes Lackey
  • The Elvenbane by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton
  • Throne of glass by Sarah J Maas
  • Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff
  • If I pay thee not in gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey
  • Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
  • Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
  • The diamond throne by David Eddings
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Exile by S.M. Wilson

Exile is the sequel to The extinction trials, and while you can read it as a stand alone book you will enjoy it more reading the series in order.  This review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read The extinction trials.

Returning from Piloria should have been the start of something amazing for Storm and her fellow trialists, but instead it has proved to be anything but.  Storm has gone from living alone and working in the outdoors to living with her "extended" family and working in the parliament.  All her years of carefully hiding what she is really capable of blown because of the Trials.  For Lincoln life after Piloria is all about trying to find a way to help his sister while trying to hold onto his job at the labs.  It seems as though there might be some hope when he discovers that the ointment they used on Piloria can help with the disease that is ravaging Arta's body - the only problem is that the cure and all it's ingredients are across an ocean that he has no hope of crossing.

When the announcement is made that they are ready to try the viruses that the labs have been developing it catches everyone by surprise - but not as much as the announcement that the former trialists are the ones who will travel to Piloria to release the diseases.  It's a sucker punch for Storm and Lincoln, and for all the other trailists hastily assembled to return - along with one rather unwilling and unexpected tag along.  Storm longs to return to Piloria, even with all the danger it was a land of rich smells and vibrant colours - not to mention the fact that no one on Piloria has to worry about rations.  It is a race against time, not only to release the virsuses where they have the greatest chance of infecting the dinosaurs, but also to find Blaine in the desperate hope he can help them make more of his miracle ointment and help them find plants to take back home.  Returning to Piloria is risky, even for the trialists because even though they have been there before they haven't seen everything - good and bad.

The extinction trials was a fast paced read, and Exile picks up shortly after it ends and carries on the story at the same speed dragging you along for the ride.  One of the great things about both The extinction trials and Exile is that Wilson swaps the viewpoints around which means you get to see and hear more of the story through the characters, but you also avoid the more impersonal "voice of god" approach to storytelling.  This makes the story more interesting and engaging, and in Exile it gives you a more intense window into the internal struggles of Storm and Lincoln, and makes them feel much more real.  You don't have to wonder about what they are going through because you feel it with them. 

This is a very good series, and is one that crosses over into a couple of different genres and will appeal to wide audience.  This is not a 'girl' book or a 'boy' book, and while it was written for teenagers it does appeal to adult audiences as well (or at least this adult audience anyway).  This series holds a great deal of promise and it will be interesting to see where Wilson takes it next, and if we get more of the backstory about how they ended up with the split between humans and the dinosaurs of Piloria (because it feels like there could be a very good backstory involved!)

If you like this book then try:


Reviewed by Brilla