Aug 5 E The Wise Man’s Fear***** – Patrick Rothfuss. This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind. They are the first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicle and I am looking forward to the next. Excellent world building, and characters (even the minor ones) so detailed and three dimensional I couldn’t help caring deeply about them. There are stories within the story, which itself is told as a story to a Chronicler at an inn. Intricate and enthralling fantasy, beautifully written.
Aug 7 E The Gallows Tree**** – RJ Scott. An American, fleeing an abusive relationship, comes to England and gets involved with a ghost story and a local man. The ghost element was hard to follow at times but the story was well written and charming.
Aug 8 E Hot Head* – Damon Suede. Basically porn, dressed up as a very lightweight story about New York fire fighters. It also had very strange dialogue punctuation. I hated it.
Aug 10 E Renfred’s Masquerade*** – Hayden Thorne. An intriguing YA novel of magic and mystery. I’m pretty sure teenagers would love it but although the plot hooked me the characters didn’t. I felt distanced from them and never really lost myself in the story as a result. Ghosts, magic, and mechanical marvels abound. I know the author (and indeed she has done incredibly helpful beta work for me) and I admire her YA stories but most of them don’t really appeal. For this one, she deserved a better editor – there were a lot of typos and similar errors. She has changed publishing houses and it shows.
Aug 12 E Riptide Rentboys Collection * – Various authors. I bought this because I know one of the authors well and she was excited about her new publisher. I reviewed her contribution a couple of months ago, The stories were acceptable though not special. The formatting, however, was appalling, which really annoyed me, because there is so much said about how publishers, such as Riptide, give the readers good formatting, unlike self-publishing… One story in the collection was unreadable, because the file was corrupt. The others had elementary formatting errors which kept interfering with reading enjoyment. I will pass on my comments via my friend, and I am unlikely ever to buy from this publisher again.
[Update: I contacted the publisher and was able to download another copy of the story. It wasn’t worth the effort but the publisher was polite and helpful. Also, I got a mobi download this time and the formatting was much better, so .pdfs can clearly be a problem.]
Aug 13 E In search of saints**** – Harper Fox. As usual, Harper Fox’s research and location were mind blowing and beautiful, but this time I felt that the story deserved a novel and this was only a novella. A fascinating tale of rival archaeologists and a discovery that needs to remain hidden, side by side with an m/m romance. True to form, the author introduces paranormal elements with a light touch. A lovely book, but one that should have been longer.
Aug 18 P Revelation*** – C.J.Sansom. This is a volume in the writer’s much-hyped Tudor detective series. The historical research and background details were fascinating and the plot was at times gripping but… First of all, the whole thing was too long and could well have been cut to about two thirds its length with some good editing. It was full of repetitions, ponderous info dumps and clumsy (though grammatical) sentence structures. The crime element of the story, whilst exciting, never quite convinced me, and some of the sub-plots simply petered out though of course they might re-emerge in future volumes. I was transported into Tudor England by the descriptions of everyday life and the effect was both haunting and lasting, but I won’t be reading any more books by this author. Disappointing in some ways.
Aug 20 P The Safe House*** – Nicci French. Another crime story, this time set in present day Essex. Gripping plot with a lot of twists but whilst I was caught up in the story while I read, the whole thing didn’t quite convince me when I wasn’t reading. A very unsettling ending, and I don’t think I’ll be reading any of their other books (the author is a husband and wife team).
Aug 24 E Point of Knives***** – Melissa Scott. A lovely addition to the Astreiant series which deals with ‘police’ work in a fantasy world. When Melissa Scott’s partner and co-writer died, fans of the books thought there would be no more but she has finally given us this novella which bridges the two previous books, and she is promising us another later in the year. Beautifully written, with interesting characters and detailed world-building. This story could probably stand alone but would benefit from being read after Point of Hopes. Recommended.
Aug 28 E Love Ahead*** – Madelaine Urban and Abigail Roux. Two long novellas with a modern m/m romance theme. The stories were pleasant but not particularly memorable, and the writing, whilst good, was full of American dialect and cultural references that left this Brit reader at times bewildered. I read books like this to check out the competition. I don’t think I’ll be in the same competition as these.
Aug 9 Third Man Out** – One of the Donald Strachey mystery series. Poor acting and poor filming.
Aug 14 Shelter** – very lightweight m/m romance made film length by the addition of a lot of surfing scenes and a great deal of unmemorable music.
Aug 19 Page Eight**** – beautifully directed and acted made-for-TV spy film with Bill Nighy and Michael Gambon plus a sparkling supporting cast. Reminiscent somehow of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I was disappointed by the ending which I thought was left slightly ambiguous for some kind of ‘art’ reason.
Aug 21 The Boat that Rocked*** – Nighy again, and Kenneth Brannagh, both of whom were somewhat wasted in this film. The story of UK’s pirate radio stations was one that needed to be told but the film couldn’t make its mind up over whether to be serious or comic, true to the facts or just a generalisation. It was too long for the story it ended up delivering, and was too lightweight, I thought, for its theme. The music was included in short snatches which were tantalising but unsatisfying. I have heard the CD which was better. The star-studded cast must have felt strongly about the subject matter in order to go ahead with this project. I found it disappointing.