Book Review: Huw the Bard by Connie Jasperson


This book is like a good film, you can spend so long finding so-so stories that when you do find a really good one, you want to rave about it. I loved this book.

It’s loosely based in Medieval UK, (and judging by the names, Wales) I say loosely because I don’t remember reading about dragons and firedrakes in my history books! It follows Huw the Bard who suffers a tragedy in the opening chapters and has to escape his home to avoid the same fate as his father. You follow Huw from a vacuous youth to a fully rounded adult as he grapples with trials throughout his journey.

I liked that the hero didn’t have magical powers but the world did. The characters had to show ingenuity and not a small amount of bravery to get out of situations that a lesser author might have given their characters powers to just ‘wish’ their enemies away. You wonder if they will survive, who will survive and you will genuinely care if Huw the Bard gets away and finds happiness again.

I recommend this book. If you like historical fiction/fantasy then this is for you.

Top 10 of the greatest books to read before you die – and they are free…

people reading on booksI’ve got my librarian’s hat on for this post. To celebrate the publication of my A Simpler Guide to Finding Free eBooks, I decided at 1 in the morning to write a post about the top 10 books to read before you die that are available for free. Little did I know it would take hours to compile and format! Still, the list below are novels you should at least take a look at with links to Amazon and the Gutenberg Project. While you can only get Kindle versions from Amazon, you will be able to download other types of e-books from the Gutenberg Project and of course they are free.

Here are my top ten picks:

1. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

One of the first and best romance novels of all time. Set in the 19th century by a writer from the 19th century, this is a read you won’t want to miss.

Get it now as:

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2. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Rags to riches and unrequited love, this book has it all from the writer of Oliver Twist.

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3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Another classic romance, boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, split up, then get together again but this is one of the first novels and one of the best (or it wouldn’t be in this list!) Worth a look.

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4. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

I read this story when I was about ten years old. This completely freaked me out as a child and so I recommend it for the next generation! Dorian Gray is a handsome man who sells his soul for eternal youth. He doesn’t lead a good life and there are consequences…

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5. The Mill on the Floss – George Elliot

This is a fast paced love story from the Victorian era. This is a tragedy so have a box of tissues ready.

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6. Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

Ah, Mr Darcy. Who hasn’t heard of the hero of this romance? This is the original of the  often repeated tale of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

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7. The Fall of the House of Usher & other stories – Edgar Allen Poe

An old crumbling, evil house, a sick relative, a death, this is a gothic horror which builds on previous horrors to a new level. The links below take you to the Works of Edgar Allan Poe, volume 2 but this is the book you are looking for.

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8. Vanity Fair – William Thackeray

Vanity fair is the opposite to the Brontës, as in don’t expect the straight happy ending. It is a more complex read but well worth it.

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9. Moby Dick – Hermann Melville

The hunt for Moby Dick has fascinated readers for generations. Will it captivate you?

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10. Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

The last entry in this blog post is a mystery. This is one of the first detective novels ever written and if you like the Mystery genre you’ll want to see how it all began. Even if you don’t normally like Victorian literature you might be pleasantly surprised with this one.

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Book Review – A Crack in the line by Michael Lawrence

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

I’m always reading books, but I’ve set myself the challenge of reading most of the books in my library, eek.

Thinking this is a tad ambitious I’ve lately opted for new books that we order in. The last one was the Crack in the Line. I picked it up at first because it was set in the UK and was different from the usual sci-fi/fantasy I usually go for.

It’s obviously a children’s book and the hero/heroine are basically two possibilities of the same person. The title refers to a crack in the railway line which leads to a train derailment. The mother has a fifty-fifty chance os surviving the train crash. At the instant of impact the Universe becomes two universes. One in which the boy loses his mother and has a dreadful life and one where a girl (the same person but a girl) gets to keep her mother and has lots of luck and comes into money.

I enjoyed this book although it was bit slow in places. There is some swearing in it so I wouldn’t recommend it for anything below 12 years old. However it is not gratuitous swearing – it does push the story along – character development and all that.

The main characters are likeable and there are some funny interchanges between the boy and his aunt who arrives at the house to look after him while his father is away. Luckily she is quite dippy allowing him the opportunity to pass between universes to meet himself as a girl. it’s part of a trilogy and I have gone through two thirds of the second book. Admittedly it’s not the best book I’ve read but certainly not the worst. If you are bored on a rainy afternoon, these do while a way a couple of hours.

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

I read this book while holidaying in Cypress. I finished it in two days which is a reflection of how good it is. I can spend months reading a book I’m not keen on and have been known to cheekily take a sneak peak at Wikipedia for the synopsis to bluff my way through a Reading Group evening….

The story was beautifully written and at one point I thought to myself it was like poetry. I’m not a fan of poetry normally but the way the story unfolded evoked emotions and reveries which added to the ambience.

The Woodcutter is the guardian of the Wood. He is a powerful man who doesn’t seem to covet power – he does what he must. An evil queen is trying to take over the twelve kingdoms and he is the only person who can stop her.

From Snow White to Baba Yaga to Odin, the tale covers many legends and fairy stories of yore. The main characters are fleshed out, the Woodcutters wife waiting at home the only thing keeping him going at times. It blends them to a perfect mix which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I’m now looking forward to the next book…

Amazon discussions – Fantasy book club: http://www.amazon.com/forum/fantasy/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg1?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=FxRHP2KEWXI0H1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2S3FAMAQ54V47

October 2011 -Kate Danley –The Woodcutter
November 2011 -Martin T Ingham –The Rogue Investigations
December 2011 -Richard Bacon –Sinderella – The True Legend
January 2012 -J. R. Tomlin –Wings of Evil
February 2012 – Triune – Willow Poison by Triune
March 2012 -Diane Jones –Demonspell (Sunspinners)
April 2012 – Alison Deluca – The Night Watchman Express
June 2012 – Danielle Raver – Brother, Betrayed
July 2012 -David N Alderman -Black Earth: End of the Innocence:
August 2012 -Andrea K Hosth -Champion of the Rose (Darest)
September 2012 -J. Dean -The Summoning of Clade Josso: The first descent into the Vein
October 2012 – Gary Hoover – Land of Nod, The Artifact
November 2012 -James M. Vargo -Passage of the Acolyte, Part One
December 2012 -Heather C. Hudak -Breathless (The Cordelia Chronicles)
January 2013 -Patti Roberts -Paradox – The Angels Are Here
February 2013 -Muto Michelle -The Book of Lost Souls
March 2013 -Erick Flaig -Call Me Ishmael
April 2013 -Jeremy Johnson -The Legendiers and the Battle of Darkness
May 2013 -Theresa Henson -Shift: A Novel
June 2013 -Chris Howard -Saltwater Witch (Book #1 of The Seaborn Trilogy)(Book #1 of The Seaborn Trilogy)
July 2013 -Ed Gregory -As Shadows Wait (The Dayshadow Trilogy)
August 2013 -Edward W. Robertson -The White Tree
September 2013 -JS Laurenz -To Conquer the Heart of a King
October 2013 -Jeffrey Joslin -The Twilight of Miogaror: Part I
November 2013 -Jon Rosenberg -The Unicorn Crisis (The Hidden Academy)
December 2013 -Brendan Connell -The Translation of Father Torturo
January 2014 -Michael Waterhouse -Dustin Anfeald And The Vail (Anfealds World)
February 2014 -MJ Holmes -Tyme and Yon Serpent (Serpent’s Tail)
March 2014 -R.K. Finnell -Kickshaw Candies
April 2014 -Ceri Clark -Children of the Elementi special edition

 

For more great books check out Fantasy Island Book Publishers website for these great books:

Terps by Elaine Gannon

The Rose Tower by Connie J. Jasperson

After Ilium by S. M. Swartz

Children of the Elementi by Ceri Clark

Emeline and the Muntant by Rachel Tsoumbakos

Miranda Warning by Marilyn Rucker Norrod

Brother, Betrayed by Danielle Raver

Ednor Scardens by Kathleen Barker

Land Of Nod, The Artifact by Gary Hoover

Losing Beauty by Johanna Garth

The King Of Egypt by J. J. Makins

The Last Good Knight by Connie J. Jasperson

The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca

Black Numbers by Dean Frank Lappi

The Lollipop Club by J. Darroll Hall

http://fantasyislandbookpublishing.com/

Visit them now, you won’t be disappointed!

The death of Torberta Turchin by Shannon Mawhiney

I don’t often give five stars for a book, but I’m learning to reserve them for books that really wow me, the death of Torberta Turchin is such a book.

The story I would say is aimed at the young adult market, but at the advanced age in my, ahem, early thirties, I certainly enjoyed it.

From the beginning, you are hooked and three questions stand out through the story. Is she really psychic, who is trying to kill who and what will happen to Toberta Turchin. A death can mean so many things, she could change her life, her name or take the literal meaning.

The characters are interesting and I did guess one of the plot points early on but it didn’t detract from the story and I finished it in one day.

I think this story thoroughly deserves five stars and I wish the author every success in the future for entertaining me for a day. The book is under $3 on Amazon, what do you have to lose?

Fantasy Book Review: Shifting Fate by Alexis Leno

 

As a not-so-secret romantic, I loved Shifting Fate. Set in a world where fate is predetermined by a Goddess, a force for evil is unleashed to change the destiny of the world.

The current ruling family took control by battling the former Royal Family. Who is to say if they were right or not but the legacy of the, murder? made the previous heir bitter which in turn twists him into the present day villain. A flawed bad guy which helps to make this book special.

The royal family has been preparing for the day that the prophesied evil would come. The Queen has the power of foresight but will not say what she has seen.

The heroine is a feisty lady who I believed in. I liked her but I did think she was getting obsessed with a village at one point, I felt like screaming ‘get over yourself’ at the book. Luckily for my husband nearby I managed to suppress the urge. This by no means should put you off this book. It was a great read and I am glad that I found it.

This was a book worth reading and one of the best that I have read as part of the Fantasy Book Club I started on Amazon discussions.

It has magic, a feisty heroine (I like that word, can you tell :-)), evil, deities, fate – what nore could a guy or gal ask for? This author has talent and we can only hope that she writes more!

Don’t feed the Fairies by Eileen Gormley

My favourite book of 2011! The fairies of the title are really aliens who live off the life force of other living things. Turns out humans are the tastiest and the heroine intends to farm us. Luckily she learns the error of her ways and when she is captured along with several good looking males and one female human she decides to save them.

But what can one alien do against a whole civilisation who view us as food?

This was a really enjoyable read. I finished this in two days which is a testament to how good it is. The better the book, the faster I read it. This had an ‘unputdownable’ quality which left me wanting more.

It was a light, sci-fi, funny read and I would recommend it to all my friends.

Realm Hunter: Pursuit of the Silver Dirk by Bob Greenwade

Bob Greenwade has created a compelling universe where we move from world to world in search of a master criminal.

Bear Waters accepts a job to solve the crime of the Silver Dirk. People have been hurt but what seems strange to Bear is that they are never killed. Still, blood is drawn which leads our intrepid investigator to believe that the mysterious silver dirk attacker is part of a sinister cult hell bent on summoning the Old Gods which doesn’t just mean the end of one world but possibly the universe (or at least five worlds).

The story is imaginative and my only gripe was that there were quite a few discussions about what things were in ‘our’ world. This shouldn’t put you off however as it is a great read and cleverly written.

Fans of sci-fi might spot the red shirts and Dr Hoo references. I might be reading too much into it but they made me giggle appreciatively.

This book was a great read and I could have carried on reading when it reached the end. Fans of The Dresden Files will enjoy this but the similarities are only superficial. This is an original work which made me glad I set up the Fantasy Book Club for under $3 on Amazon Discussions.

I recommend this one!

Ceri Clark

Review of Blackrayne by Nathyn Brendan Masters

I was asked to do this review on the Amazon discussions site. I didn’t want to because I don’t think I should do a review unless I can honestly give four or five stars. I have to give this book three stars and this is why:

The Good News

This is well written. Some may disagree with me from some of the other reviews on Amazon but I was never distracted during this book because of mistakes. I am extremely forgiving of spelling and grammar errors, so if you find any, sorry! I don’t agree with reviewers who concentrate on this area. To me the story is everything.

The Bad News

I didn’t like it. I adore fantasy, which is why I created the Kindle under $3 fantasy book club. I am not fussy about what sub genre a book is in either. All I care is that I like the characters and the book is a good old yarn.

This brings me to the characters. Jason Blackrayne is a thoroughly reprehensible figure with as far as I can see no redeeming features. Your first impressions of him are made when you find out he sleeps with a nymphomaniac who goes to him for treatment (he is a shrink) and when he comes into some ‘powers’ he uses it to get women into bed.

Now all I’m saying is that I didn’t like it. There are probably a lot of people who would like this story. Just be aware it is quite sexist with descriptions such as leggy blond giving you a taste of the style of book.

Another turnoff was the amount of Christian hyperbole in the story. I found it immensely distracting and found myself flicking through the sections with exaggerated sighs – much to the annoyance of my husband. If you are happy to read pages of scripture, again you might like this book.

I haven’t read anything like it before and the whole point of the book club was to find literature in my favourite genre that I would probably never normally try. In this the club was successful, I would normally have given up after three chapters.

I liked the concept but I would have liked to see the guy go through something in the middle to make him seem a little more, well likable

As with all books, download a sample and see if you like it. It costs you nothing to try!

The Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca

I enjoyed this one!

As an independent author, I am eager to help and read other indie authors. I set up a Fantasy Kindle Book Group on Kindle on Amazon discussions and also belong to the ABNA Writers Group on Facebook.

Now I’ve read quite a few books over the months and I came across some books which, ahem, I was very disappointed with but Allison DeLuca’s book is most definitely NOT in that category.

The Night Watchman Express kept me interested throughout the book. This is the book that doubters of Indie publishing should read, it shows that there are Indie books which can be and are of a high quality. In fact better than some main stream books I’ve read!

What is it about? Well it’s a historical fantasy but not the sword and sorcery variety. It is what I would call more of a realistic fantasy.

The main character is an heiress whose life is turned upside down when her guardians come to stay. Relegated to the attic, while her new ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ enjoy the trimmings her inheritance pays for, a governess suddenly appears who tames the wild creature the girl has become in her grief. The guardians have an important project which depends on a hidden device. This project has repercussions for not only the girl and their family but also a mysterious island.

The book poses a few questions, which are all (satisfactorily) explained through the book. Who is the Governess? Where did she come from? What is the device the guardians are looking for? What is the project?

The book is extremely well written and I truly cared about the characters. The fact I glared at my husband when he stopped me reading to get my attention says it all. When you read this book you will be drawn into a story that will melt reality away.

Go on buy it, you know you want to!

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News from Fantasy Island Publishing

Fantasy Island publishing is going from strength to strength with new authors and more sales.

Connie J. Jasperson’s book “The Last Great Knight” has been received well and grows readership daily. Compared to the great Wilbur Smith in her action and bawdy prose, she will be one of the great writers of fictional adventures to come.

The Last Good Knight
Connie J. Jasperson

Alison DeLuca’s new book “The Night Watchman Express” is soaring up the Amazon Kindle sales ranking and is a promising series to look forward to in the future.

The Night Watchman Express
Alison DeLuca

J. Darroll Hall and his Fantasy Island Book Publishing brand are topping Amazon sales rankings all over the Kindle book rankings. The brands bookshelves and catalog are on fire at the moment.

http://www.fantasyislandbookpublishing.com

Well I’m not going to write a blog post and not plug my book! :-):

Children of the Elementi special edition
Ceri Clark

THE KING OF EGYPT: Special edition.
www.amazon.com
Raised a warrior, Tigris, crowned Nitiqreti, is the first female pharaoh. With a beauty that can bring men to their knees and a power that reaps respect from an army, she is prepared to take on any enemy. Author J.J. Makins has written a fascinating look at one of the most beautiful and unknown rulers of Egypt.

Miranda Warning
www.amazon.com
Why is someone killing the band geeks of Richland, Texas? Miranda Beeling would like to know since she is one of them.

Author Marilyn Rucker Norrod certainly knows her subject. A musician and an attorney, she has taken that background and spun a wonderful book with great characters and lots of humor as well as intrigue.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_2?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=J. Darroll Hall