Trial of Intentions (Vault of Heaven #2) ~ Peter Orullian

Trial of IntentionsISBN ~ 978-0765325723
Publisher ~ Tor Books; First Edition (May 26, 2015)
No. Of Pages ~ 672 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy, however, they chained the rogue god—and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortal kind—in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that contains them has protected humankind for millennia and the monsters are little more than tales told to frighten children. But the Veil has become weak and creatures of Nightmare have come through. To fight them, the races of men must form a great alliance to try and stop the creatures.

But there is dissent. One king won’t answer the call, his pride blinding him even to the poison in his own court. Another would see Convocation fail for his own political advantage. And still others believe Convocation is not enough. Some turn to the talents of the Sheason, who can shape the very essence of the world to their will. But their order is divided, on the brink of collapse.

Tahn Junell remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. One of the few who have actually faced the unspeakable horde in battle, Tahn sees something else at work and wonders about the nature of the creatures on the other side of the Veil. He chooses to go to a place of his youth, a place of science, daring to think he can find a way to prevent slaughter, prevent war.

And his choices may reshape a world . . . .

The second title in the Vault of Heaven series, Peter Orullian’s Trial of Intentions is a mesmerizing fantasy epic that turns the conventions of the genre on its head

5 Thumbs-UpYes, this is the second instalment in the Vault of Heaven Trilogy, and yes I have read the first book although I did not review it on here; the reason for this being it is a major player in my English Literature thesis.  Unfortunately though, for this book, it is not a standalone read and therefore the first must be read to make any sense of this one.

The main protagonists are many in both books, and their stories continue in this one; we see them grow from the children we first met in The Unremembered to adults that are still connected to their inner children at times.  I usually go into great detail about my likes and dislikes of characters in the books I read, but with this cast of characters I felt the mixed emotions one has when confronted with Family and all the imperfections they bring with them.  At times I just wanted to shake some sense into them and ask ‘why?  Just why?’ and at others I was in my full cheerleading garb, pom-poms and all doing high kicks to spur them on.  One thing I did find disappointing was the forced humour in the dialogue, this had come so easily in the first book as it does between friends, but in this one it seemed as if they were just trying to keep the humour going at all costs.  I am hoping that this stilted humour is more a result of the events the characters have been through up to the end of this novel, and not an indication that the Author has lost his humourous pen.  Rather than just continue expanding on characters from the first novel, the Author brings new ones into the storyline, and some that were introduced in Book One become integral to the storyline in this novel.

Unlike Book One, Trial of Intentions is up and moving from the very first chapter; the reader has moments where the pace slows down enough for them to calm their racing pulses before picking up and propelling them through to the very end of the book.  Something I was pleased to find in this second instalment that was present in the first was a musical quality that accompanies the writing of this Author; in gentle areas easy listening folk music is brought to mind in the way the language is placed on the page and I found myself reading everything rather than skipping the ‘song’ sections as I do in Lord of The Rings or The Hobbit; even when the action really picked up it was as if somewhere just out of view there was a rock guitarist playing some riff to accompany the action.  Whereas Clockwork Angels by Kevin J Anderson was music (an album of the same name by Rush) to words, this is a book that could be translated from words to music.

All of the major plotlines end on a cliff-hanger that leaves the reader waiting with baited breath for the final book in this trilogy, hopefully it won’t be as long as the wait has being for The Doors of Stone, book three of The Kingkiller Chronicle.  Despite the cliff-hanger endings, unlike so many books that finish in this manner, this one does not leave the reader feeling that the book is unfinished and that the Author decided they’d had enough and sent it off to the publisher as is.

I highly recommend both this book, and the first in the trilogy, for those who love to read this genre.  It was expansive, it was epic and it was rich with hidden things that come out when the novel was reread (I have to say I am on my fourth reading of this book).  Like an onion with its layers, this second instalment added a depth and richness to the world in which it takes place, and I hope that the Author continues in this way in Book Three.  I will definitely be waiting to read the next novel by this Author.

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Review: The Witch’s Ladder (Tony Marcella Mystery #1) ~ Dana E. Donovan

witch's ladderISBN ~ 978-1492139720
Publisher ~ CreateSpace
No. Of Pages ~ 292 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes and Noble

A group of individuals proficient in the psychic academia of clairvoyance, mental telepathy and bilocation, working to understand life’s most unusual secrets soon realize that even their abilities of mind over matter can’t save them from the blade of the surgeon stalker.

4 Thumbs-UpI didn’t realise when I read this book, and found out only when I started writing my review that this is the first of, what is currently a series of eleven books.  However, don’t let that put you off from reading it, even if you’re not looking for another long series to take up your time, this book works very well as a standalone.

Not the usual run of the mill paranormal murder mystery, this one reads more like a novel from an earlier time, with character back story being kept to a minimum and the main focus concentrating on the murder mystery at hand.  This really doesn’t spoil the book in any way though and, in my opinion added to making it a fast paced summer read, just right for these hot July days.  The Author manages to tease the reader with just enough information about the main protagonist, Tony Marcella as mentioned in the title, to make the reader perhaps want to read more the books to discover what makes this man tick.  Far from being the jaded, coming up to retirement detective readers so often come across in this type of book, I felt that there was an underlying mystery to the man himself and this in itself has made me want to read more in this series to see if my suspicions may be right.

The book is very descriptive when it comes to the actual murders themselves, so if you have a squeamish disposition or don’t like overly graphic murders in your reading material, this may not be the book for you.  In regards to the plot line though, it is full of twists and turns and definitely keeps the reader guessing.  There were several points where I thought I had it all figured out, only for the Author to take my deductions and dash them to pieces with the turn of a page.

My reasoning for this book only getting a 4 thumb review; there were several typos and grammatical errors that I felt should have been corrected by a good proof-reader and, if missed by them any editor worth their salt should have picked them up they were so obvious.  This spoilt the book in some parts for me, as I found myself having to re-read a paragraph to really understand what the Author was trying to get across.

Despite the errors it was a good read, not my usual genre as I tend to find paranormal books a bit sparkly for me, and I would recommend this book to anyone, even those like myself who are not into this genre.

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Review: Symbiosis: A Justice Keepers Novel (Justice Keepers Saga Book 1) ~ R.S. Penney

SymbiosisASIN ~ B00RKY0WJ8
Publisher ~
No. Of Pages ~ 330 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Kobo

Ten thousand years ago, a mysterious race that we only know as the Overseers took primitive humans and scattered them on dozens of worlds across the galaxy. Now, some of those people have found their way back to Earth. A young Justice Keeper named Anna Lenai has tracked a criminal through unexplored regions of space in the hopes of recovering a symbiont that grants its host the ability to bend space and time. Her search leads her to Earth, where she befriends a young man named Jack Hunter. Together, they will face enemies with advanced technology as they struggle to recover the symbiont before its power falls into the wrong hands.

5 Thumbs-UpThis is a debut novel from this Author and, if this first book is anything to go by the rest of the Justice Keepers Saga is going to be a spectacular read.

The characters in this book are extremely well written; they have a depth and feel to them that is rarely seen in a book in the YA genre.  The female protagonist is gutsy and strong-willed, but she also has a side to her that she tries to keep well hidden, and which rarely makes an appearance.  However, because of the way in which the Author develops her character it is obvious that there are hidden depths to her that will, hopefully be revealed as the Saga continues.  I liked this character immensely, she is a strong young woman who comes alive and off the page as events unfolds; true to life she is not wholly likeable but this only adds to her charm and makes her more alive and real.  The man she befriends is equally well written and, in giving both the male and female leads in this book the same careful treatment, the Author creates a novel that will appeal to both male and female readers.

World building is just as well done in this book as the character development; so well is it written that it brought to mind the descriptions of space that a reader will find in any of the books written by Peter F. Hamilton.  The descriptions of Earth make it seem familiar yet totally fresh and new at the same time, as I read through the book I wanted to travel to the locations contained within its pages and experience the adventures I found.

Thinking there is nothing new in the YA genre?  Then I highly recommend this book as it will change your mind.  Skilfully written and tightly edited it was a pleasure to read and I will definitely be reading more in this saga as it becomes available.  My only regret is that this is only available on eBook as I want to add a paper copy to my shelves.

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Adventures ahead…

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This is year that heralds great changes in our Family full of adventures and excitement.  I hope that you and your loved ones have an equally fun time in 2015.

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Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) ~ Brandon Sanderson

mistbornISBN ~ 978-0765311788
Publisher ~ Tor Books
No. Of Pages ~ 537 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Macmillan

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

4 Thumbs-UpIf you have a need to be anti-social for a while, and don’t we all at some time or another, this is the book for you and despite its title it is the first in the Mistborn series.  After featuring it in an article of what people might like to read while game of Thrones was off the air, I decided I would give this a try to see if it really was a worthy substitute.

I was immediately pulled into this book from the first line, and soon felt comfortable with characters that I came to regard as the mains in this epic.  There is a strong female who, despite all odds, manages to survive and then actually thrive in this bizarre environment the Author places her in.  Add to this a loveable rogue who teaches her everything she needs to know about using her newly found powers, and this all adds to up characters that readers can connect to and want to follow on their travels. However, not all the characterizations in this book are as well done as these two I have mentioned, some of them were lacking in descriptiveness and I found myself at some points hard pushed to remember their role in the plot.

It is often hard for an Author in this genre to come up with something new and different, but it appears in this book.  The ‘magic’ used in its pages was unique and used items that I had not come across before in other books.  From the way the magic is described and explained it is obvious that a lot of thought went into this system as the Author wrote this book, and it works well as it plays a major part in the action of which there is definitely plenty.  When writing about the battles waged using this magic, the Author was very careful to stick to the rules he had created and applied to it, and there was not a point where I found myself having a ‘hang on, didn’t you say….’ moment.  World building was not skimped on either in this novel, it is not just a strange environment that happens to be there, but has a history behind how it came to being, and this is just as interesting as the plotline itself.

The downside for me whilst reading this was the dialogue, it had a tendency to take the safe road, and use dialogue that can be found in most books of this genre which made some of the conversations a little unbelievable and also, in some cases, as if the book itself were intended for a much younger audience.  However, this was just a minor peeve and didn’t pull away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an epic fantasy read that will keep them engrossed with every turn of the page.  I will definitely be reading more in this series.

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Review: The Dragon and the Needle ~ Hugh Franks

dragon and needleThe clash between the Orient and the West is put under the spotlight in this far-reaching novel of medical and political intrigue. A mysterious syndrome is striking down political leaders across the Western world. Named Extraordinary Natural Death Syndrome, or ENDS, it has baffled medical experts. The Western prejudice against the mysteries of Oriental medicine, and the growing acceptance of acupuncture as an effective method of treatment, are just two of the contrasting approaches explored in the story. Then a brilliant young British doctor, Mike, and a glamorous American acupuncturist, Eleanor, become involved in finding the cause of ENDS. They think they are on the right track, but the implications are shocking. Could this be an audacious ideological plan for world domination? And how does Eleanor’s dead husband Chen fit in? When the secrets of Carry Tiger to Mountain are revealed, where will Eleanor’s loyalties ultimately lie?

3 Thumbs-UpIf this book doesn’t pull you in within the first few pages, you might as well lay it to one side and move onto something else; I was pulled in and sped through it in a day.

The male and female protagonists are scratchy, that is to say they have moments in the book where they really did grate on my nerves and, if it had not been for the fast paced plot I would probably have consigned this book to my not finished pile.  There were so many things about these characters I found a little hard to wrap my head round, and this really relegated them to being of a secondary nature to the storyline.  The female lead I found to be somewhat stereotypical, as she falls into the arms of the male lead without the reader really being able to understand what the attraction is between them.  I put this down to it being a matter of convenience, and the possibility they were attracted to each other’s minds; there was really no depth of emotion shown by either of them and this led to my not finding them plausible at all and the reason for my 3 thumbs review.

As to the storyline, what a great idea; holistic medicine vs. modern medicine, a debate that is constantly going the rounds but it really could have been handled a little differently, perhaps without making the usual East is evil West is wonderful statement.  With a little more expansion on the plot and some very firm dialogue editing this could have been an exceptional book, rather than just a good one.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast paced medical/political thriller, but don’t expect anything too in depth.  Would I read anything else by this Author?  Probably.

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Review: Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) ~ Chris Wooding

retribution fallsFrey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn’t just a nuisance anymore – he’s public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don’t. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he’s going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It’s going to take all his criminal talents to prove he’s not the criminal they think he is …

4 Thumbs-UpIf you are a Browncoat who is lost in lamentations over the cancellation of Firefly, this is the book for you.  I’m not saying it will replace the crew of Serenity, but it will go a long way to fill the void and feed the need for a good pirate/cowboy steampunk western.

The individual crew members of the Ketty Jay are introduced to the reader one by one, with each revealing their story, apart from the Captain.  To say he was a work in progress would be an understatement as his character was developed and grew and the novel progressed.  Most of all the characters are loveable on the Ketty Jay, maybe not so much their motives and reasoning at some points, but they each have something about them that will have the reader wanting to learn more about them and join them on their adventures;  Id’ join them if we could leave the Captain behind as I just could not warm to him and thought him to be a bit of a spineless human being.  As in all the good adventure stories the villains, are well just that, villains.  From the description of these characters, right down to the personalities they each have there is nothing that could have the reader mistaking them for being anything else than what they are…baddies.

Although, in my opinion, the story takes a while to get underway this is not a bad thing, as in these ‘slow’ moments is where the set-up for the adventure begins and when it starts it definitely moves along at a cracking pace and does not disappoint at all.  Through great writing the Author is able to provide a perfect balance of sadness alongside humour and wraps it all up in the form of shenanigans.  There is magic, gun play, sword fights and daemons; so enough of everything to appeal to most reader.

I would highly recommend this novel to all Browncoats, steampunk fans and lovers of the type of adventure novels that are so hard to come by today.  I will definitely be reading the remaining ‘Tales of the Ketty Jay’ novels.

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