Monthly Archives:: March 2017

Review: ‘The Cleaner of Chartres’ by Salley Vickers

March 15, 2017 Review 2

I never know what my book group is going to inflict on me next. This one I at least managed to read, although it fell short of being enjoyable. I prefer a simple story, well told, with believable characters, something that I find absorbing, even if it may not be compelling. This was deficient in all areas.

The story revolves around Agnes, who appeared one day at the cathedral at Chartres and stayed for twenty years, finding a place in the town and gaining friends along the way. How she came to be there, and how her life begins to unravel, are slowly unfolded. Agnes herself is something of an enigma. She takes on odd cleaning jobs to make ends meet, both at the cathedral and for various other people, and at first she seems to have no personality, being very compliant and passive. She appears to be mentally deficient (she can’t read, for instance), yet she makes some astute observations and notices when people need help. She’s very quiet, yet has numerous friends. She failed to learn to read as a child, yet now she learns very quickly. She was badly treated at her convent orphanage, had a baby at fifteen and was sectioned afterwards, yet is quite open and trusting in her dealings with people. I found her not very believable, and couldn’t get interested in her.

Of the other characters, most are caricatures, without any depth to them at all, and no, telling us their whole history the first time we meet them doesn’t give them depth or make them credible, it just makes the book stodgy and (frankly) boring. Once the book gets past the midpoint and the dumping of information wholesale is no longer deemed necessary, the story picks up a little speed. Even so, the unfolding plot is too predictable to be interesting and the ending was, frankly, quite unbelievable.

I know I’m a picky reader, and there’s some excellent writing in here, amid the stodge and the cartoon-like behaviour of some of the characters, and the French setting may appeal to some readers (although apart from the odd word tossed in, like patisserie, very little French atmosphere seeped through). I’m sure there’s meant to be some profound parallel between the main character’s life and the labyrinth on the cathedral floor, although I’m not sure what it is. I daresay the meaning whizzed over my head. Recommended for anyone who enjoys literary fiction and is less fussed than me about a heavy writing style, but for me it was only three stars.

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New Brightmoon covers! And a box set too…

March 6, 2017 Brightmoon world, News 2

Big changes are afoot in the Brightmoon world – my lovely covers by Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics will soon be replaced. Why change? Because Glendon gave me exactly what I asked him for – a series of striking fantasy romance covers. And it’s taken me a long time to realise that I don’t write fantasy romance! Most of my books do have some kind of romance in them, but that doesn’t make them romance books.

So, I’ve decided to start again with a clean slate and a new designer, Deranged Doctor Designs, and this time I’ve told them to make the covers epic fantasy through and through. I’m thrilled to show you what they’ve come up with. I’ll be introducing these one by one from 15th March, so if you’re a fan of the old covers and you want to complete your collection, now’s the time to do it. Here are the first three of the new designs (more to come soon):

Kallanash360FireMages360Bennamore360

And a new box set!

Most of my books are standalones, but three of them are connected, so I’ve gathered them into one convenient package for the enjoyment of those who prefer their epic fantasy in trilogies. The Fire Mages Collection contains:

  • The Fire Mages
  • The Fire Mages’ Daughter
  • The Second God

You can buy the whole set for $9.99 (or equivalent), or as always it’s available for free with your subscription to Kindle Unlimited or Prime. Click the image to link to your local Amazon to buy or borrow.

BoxSet360

And I have a favour to ask…

There are lots of reviews for the individual books but almost none for the box set. If you’ve read some or all of the books, I’d love it if you could write an honest review for the box set on Amazon so that other readers will know whether it’s their cup of tea or not. Thank you so much!

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Urban fantasy review: ‘Murdered Gods’ by Marina Finlayson

March 4, 2017 Review 0

Marina Finlayson is one of my all-time favourite authors. Her stories just seem to resonate with me, and I’ve enjoyed every single thing she’s written. Which makes it more than a little nerve-wracking whenever I pick up a new book – will this be the one that falls flat on its face? Well, no is the answer, not by a long shot.

In the previous book, Lexi got into a whole heap of trouble over a stolen ring with magical powers, although with a hot fireshaper around, there were some compensations, too. But the ring’s doing some odd things, and Lexi’s own ability is unusual too. Controlling animals seems pretty tame when you’re surrounded by shifters in a world ruled by powerful shapers, but where did that ability come from? Lexi decides to go back home to the human territories to ask the one person who knows – her mum.

Accompanied only by her faithful pal Syl, a cat shifter who refuses to take human form, Lexi heads off on what should be a simple journey. But that’s not going to happen, right? With some really, really angry people on her tail and a lot of mysterious goings on back home, the story sucked me in big time, and I just couldn’t put it down. I’m not going to say any more because – spoilers! But you can be sure that there’s a ton of action, lots of neat twists and a glorious punch-the-air moment when the cavalry arrives (in a most unlikely shape!).

Be warned, however, that some of the big questions raised in this book remain unresolved. There’s no cliffhanger, as such, but there are definitely unfinished aspects left for the next book. I can’t wait! Five stars.

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