Posts Tagged ‘ Holly Ice ’

The Lost Dragon – Drako – The Last Spartan Warrior

The Lost Dragon Drako Read Review Holly Ice Author

I was gifted this book on a read for review arrangement

This book surprised me. At first I thought it was going to be a “very boy” action packed fight ’em up. Then I learnt the protagonist was gay. That was a direction I was not expecting and it kept me reading!

The main character, Andreas, is a black dragon god decendant. His father, Jarel, is the black dragon god who holds as much, if not more, power than Zeus, the leader of Olympus. The story follows the action as subordinate gods and “rogues” (those who defy the rules of the gods) try to bring back an ancient power.

It is good to see books which have a twist not usual in their genre and that is what captured me, at first, with this book. However, I have to be honest and mention its faults as well as its great points.

Good Points

Originality – the content of the story does a lot to bring action fantasy out of its stale niche.

Characterisation – almost all characters are well rounded and feel realistic.

Plot – the plot flows really well, obviously crafted with a good hand for structure. It is also original, new, and kept me reading to see what happened next.

Ending – the ending set up for another book and still managed to keep most ends tied up. I myself have trouble with endings so I have to give props where props are due here.

The Discussion

The cover, for instance, would not have made me pick the book up. I understand there is an illustrator etc but it is not my style of art and the picture is not perfectly centred on the background. The writing however is appropriate for genre and looks good.

On to the intro: the protagonist is fighting for Sparta before the main time line of the story in the modern age. The plot idea here is great but this first scene needs tidying up. Words are repeated in the first scene (‘thought’ twice in the first 3 sentences – ‘slash’ is also used as a verb twice on the first page).

This is, of course, looking at the text on a micro level but these repetitions do get noticed by a reader and it makes the narrative seem clunky. There is also a little bit of over exposition here.

However, to the good points: this problem seems to disappear for the most part after the first scene. My advice would be for the author to read over this scene and double check they are happy with it. Perhaps it would read better from Andreas’ POV as a memory? This would give us greater insight into the character early on.

Narrative issues later in the story are much more minor and sparse. I think I saw one ‘site’ instead of ‘sight’ and on one page an ‘is’ was missing from a sentence etc – nothing huge at all.

The only big problem later on is the lack of description for Solaris and Cassandra. Solaris is not described beyond cliffs and big halls. It needs colour to the landscape as well as the gods and others inhabiting it.

Meanwhile Cassandra falls flat for me. All the other characters are well rounded with great characterisation and very original (more good points) but Cassandra accepts things too easily. She is pulled this way and that with no argument at all. Even for a healer, this goes too far for a woman’s personality imo, especially as she is not a mopy young pacifist.

The transition into her “new form” (trying for no spoilers here) also needs better handling. She grows but not much about her appearance or carriage is mentioned otherwise. It also seems as if her personality changes substantially. This character, I feel, needs more time devoted to her.

As a minor point, Jarel sees her as a love interest for Andreas even though he already knows why this romance cannot happen – perhaps this love interest idea should be played down, more implied than real or made more cryptic as a red herring.

The last problem I have is the fight scenes. Mostly, there are, as other reviewers have suggested, descriptive and original. However in a few places I noticed the same area of the body was hit repeatedly and yet the narrative did not say ‘again’ or imply this is recognised. A couple of times the kicks or punches seems infeasible in the positions I was lead to believe the characters were in. Also a few times different characters got hit in the same place, and way, close together. This just needs straightening out a little. Also, I feel these fights could benefit from shorter sentences rather than convoluted ones as sometimes I started to lose interest and fall out of the action.

Although I have to say that these scenes are much more original in flips and moves and injuries than I can think of on the spot so congrats to the author for that.

Considering the good points and the discussion points, as well as my definite enjoyment for the read, I have to give this book a 4/5.

It is well structured and paced with mostly great characters and very original content. This trumps the few minor slip ups as well as the need to re-evaluate Cassandra’s persona as the novel is still very readable as is.

The book can be found on amazon here: The Lost Dragon, Drako should you wish to read it.

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

I hope you liked the review. Any suggestions or additions/disagreement with what I’ve said then please comment below. Ciao!

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The Perfect Writing Retreat

love books i pinterest I author den writing author's

We all need a little down time now and again. Since I’m between finishing books, this seemed like a good time for a fun post. I’m sure many writers, including myself, have dreamed about the perfect place to write. I’m working on getting it right.

So far I have two ideas. Either a castle home with a secret doorway behind a bookcase – this then leads to a keypad which opens another door with my comfy lair orrrr something like a treehouse with electricity, no leaks, carpet, furniture, internet, and the sound of rain on the roof in bad weather. Both are appropriate for me :).

Of course, being a student in the rather ugly city of Stoke, I have neither of these. I’ve made do with a collection of what-could-bes. Here’s a couple of my favourites:

author's den writing retreattreehouse tree house writing den author's retreatmagical writing retreat writer's author's den tree house treehouse tree-house wendy beautiful

I hope these give you some ideas for where you would most love to write (and doesn’t cause you to procrastinate too much). Of course, writing can happen almost anywhere (at least it can for those of us who don’t mind too much noise/run around with headphones and a music player).

As always, I’m on twitter: Holly Ice
And more of the pictures I like can be found here

Have a great day and feel free to share your ideas below!

But A Dream – Jenny Gill – No Sleep for Me

But A Dream Jenny Gill Amazon Kindle

Well, this is another book that kept me up all night reading it.

I think the premise is what got me interested. It focuses on cellular memory. A woman that got a heart transplant begins to have dreams which make her a witness her donor’s murder.

Of course, this is an area I’m sure many authors have played around with before but the actual witnessing of a murder and the need to do something about it presents a problem. Who would believe her? How could they do anything about it? Etc.

The handling of this topic by the writer was done in an interesting style. Time moves back and forward, mostly at the beginning, to good effect. It feels (in atmosphere) something like investigative books of old – Carmilla, Dracula or Return of the Screw. This isn’t to say it’s old fashioned or boring – it just makes great use of the group investigative method and common sense. It’s welcome and different in a modern book.

The dialogue was very realistic, as were interactions with the children. The only exception to this was perhaps Richard, the protagonist’s husband. He was too soppy in my opinion and tended to repeat himself like an old record. He lacked personality in comparison to every other, fully rounded, character.

I also feel the multitude of people that needed to be filled in about the case was not only a problem for the protagonist, as  stated in the book, but for the author. There was a lot of worry over who should hear what and when. I think this would have gone smoother if the author had accepted there were that many characters and perhaps let some conflict happen over individuals not being kept up to date.

There were also a number of problems in the early pages: a missing comma, commas instead of colons, an abundance of unnecessary adverbs… At this point I think the author needs to read a sentence, taking out the adverb. If it works that way, leave it out. I say this because the imagery in the novel was very good. The adverbs only spoilt this good work.

There was also a slight clunkiness with the ‘he thought’s at the beginning. This could work better, and be more mysterious at the start, if the tags were left out.

However, all that said and done, the writing improved within a small number of pages and the grammar was generally of good standard. The story got me hooked and took me on a fun ride to its conclusion. I would recommend this as a shorter read to others. I think it took me about 2 hours or so to read. It is a book for adults and older teenagers, in my opinion.

And for the rating: 4/5 .
Good book for a summer read. Give it a go ūüôā

I found the book through E Reader News¬†, a site which collects daily some of the ‘bargain buys’ and free books on kindle. It also gives blurbs and a cover image to help you decide if you want to read them :).

From the looks of things, Jenny Gill is a self published author. She has two blogs: here and here if you would like to get to know her.

As always, yours truly is on twitter: Holly Ice

Ink Exchange – Melissa Marr – The Bubble Chuckle

Ink Exchange Melissa Marr

This is a fantasy story with fae in the modern world. It already has my interest. Add tattoos and I’m well and truly hooked. There’s even some romance thrown in here. What could be better?

I must say: what a read. The story focuses on Leslie, a human girl whose life isn’t so great. She gets a tattoo to help her get control over her life. Only, it lets Irial, a powerful fae, get limited control over her instead.

I’ll be truthful. The day after I read this book I was supposed to get my first tattoo done. I was reading this before I slept. Only, it was so good I finished the whole thing in one sitting…only getting to sleep at 8am. It was good for the nerves!

The novel also had a hallmark of a great book for me: it made me bubble chuckle. This is that little chuckle in the middle of your throat that bubbles up and down like a hiccough – uncontrollable and full of glee (well, hiccoughs aren’t usually gleeful but you get the idea).

This chuckle only happens (in my experience) with the best of characterisation and witty dialogue. The characters are great, the plot is good and I loved the story.

The only negative to this is perhaps that the king and queen of courts has been done a lot, as has the dark and light courts. Perhaps this could have been tweaked more for originality. However, this is done to an extent: by the end of the book we find the dark fae aren’t all bad. There’s some grey in here, for sure…and I spoon up grey like ice cream.

So for a serving of this I’d give… 5/5

Not much I’d change.

As always, you can also find me here: Holly Ice

Hope you enjoyed my review!

Alyson Noel – Blue Moon Night Time Reading

Blue Moon Alyson Noel Review

‘Things have changed for Ever since she fell in love with Damen. But just as her powers are increasing, Damen seems to be weakening. Panicked at the thought of losing him, Ever finds a path to the in-between world of Summerland, where she learns the¬†secrets¬†of Damen’s tortured past ¬†– and accidentally discovers a way to twist time. Now she can save her family from the accident that killed them. It’s all she ever wanted – but so is Damen. And Ever must choose between them…’

One of the books I picked up charity shop shopping. Only, I’d read it before…
Turns out it’s part of a series that I started reading a year or so ago but never finished.

I think the truth of it is the book is just a bit young for me. (I’m currently 21 for guidance here). It’s aimed at high schoolers or younger teenagers, probably those with a penchant for everlasting romance. Admittedly, I’m a closet romantic but this was too much for me.

In realistic terms, Ever is too young for her 600 year old counterpart Damen. Also, the name Damen has been swinging around in vampire and immortal circles for what seems like forever (or 600 years as the date he is attached to – heehee).

Having said that, the book is well written. It has good imagery and pacing. It also defied my expectations as I have a good memory; usually I find I can’t ¬†reread a book within 5 years of reading it. This one I could. I still knew the general plot but it was still enjoyable. For that, I give it a lot of credit.

I think the book had space, if Ever was older, to play with the darker side of their connection in a cross-time romance such as the film Beautiful Creatures (that I’ve just watched and raved about). But, this isn’t what the author has aimed for.

So, for a young adult read (or teenage read really since I feel I’m too old for it) I’d give this…4/5.

For an adult read, maybe 2.5/5

Take my comments as you will.

As always, I’m also on twitter.

Holly Ice

James Treadwell: Advent – Ambitious? (Review)

advent

Advent. 439 pages long and I felt most of them go by.

That’s not to say the book is awful. It isn’t. The side note that the protagonist, Gavin, likes¬†Victorian¬†novels does seem to be an autobiographical comment, as another reviewer has noted before me. However, this does not give the book an excuse to lose tension. Between page 250 and around 340 or so I lost interest. It was an uphill battle as I forced myself to keep reading.

In the middle section of this book not much interesting happens, simply put.

I think one of the major issues is the narrative structure. The main protagonist, Gavin, is well crafted and has a character a reader can delve into and enjoy. However, the imposition of the 1500’s magus character does not work brilliantly.

He is essential to the back story and current plot but he is cold, greedy and has no redeeming features. Yes, some villains are like this but it does not seem realistic. There has been an attempt at romance and knowledge gone dark, twisted, but the change, the contrast, is too stark, too unrealistic. He becomes a caricature.

Of course, this may have a lot to do with the layers within the book. It expects a lot of a reader if we are to understand every sly reference. The book alludes to less known corners of Arthurian legend and Faustian tales.

For this, I both reward and condemn. It assumes a reader has more knowledge than a general fantasy reader necessarily may have. Perhaps, in some ways, it is more literary than genre fiction.

However, the novel does break away from the stereotypes of fantasy and strive to create something new, if influenced by the Gothic.

As wikipedia notes from an interview with James Treadwell, the novel (and its assumable the following series) looks at what would happen to modern society should magic be reintroduced to the world as real. This is a concept I myself wrestle with in my own writing (and novel in progress: While I Slept).

At risk of becoming hypocritical, I just feel Treadwell could have done this better. It seems he’s thrown creatures at a page with little thought for why those particular species were picked and the punch lines in the story were too spaced out.

A good 100-150 pages of the novel could be cut and it would be a much better read as, I must say, despite all this criticism, the first 250 and the last 80 pages were a great read. The writing style and turn of phrase can also be, and often is, fantastic.

To sum up, James Treadwell is a great writer and I’m sure we will see more writing from him in future. Hopefully, those books will build on this first one and his writing will improve.

For this book, I give him a score of 3.5/5

Peek into my World, my Words…

DSC05765

My workstation – Ethereal beauty to get the story moving…
And some clutter, because that’s what my head is like…and I hate cleaning.

Quite a few of you will have clocked on to the fact I’m writing a novel by now- I’ve talked about word counts enough in my twitter feed and even on facebook. I’m two and a half weeks in and toying with the title ‘While I Slept’.

This is a peek into my creation with a few snippets. I’ll try to keep major spoilers at bay (in case you ever actually want to read the thing once I’m done tinkering with it).

A Blurb of Sorts…

Annie Vivant’s hobby is¬†archaeology¬†and, one sunny day of digging, she finds and awakens Arthur. Arthur is not the King of modern legend but the¬†unparalleled¬†warrior of older myth who defends the United Kingdom from the Otherworld – a land of redcaps, piskies, dev and all the other impossibles that don’t get along. After a series of bloody murders, Arthur realises why he has been awoken and must traverse Otherworld politics where no one is to be trusted for nothing. All the while, his old, blonde love, Katrin, plagues his mind.

A Side Note:

There’s space for comedy as well as crime and fantasy in this novel. Arthur does not understand technology, the world of today, and Annie has no clue how the Otherworld functions. The results are sometimes entertaining and sometimes disastrous.

Enjoy your three rifts into my novel below!

A Few Mini Extracts:

The coffin creaked behind her as soil from its top fell away, scuttling down the hill. She couldn’t just leave it. It was the next big find, the first English mummy or a serial killer’s personal graveyard. She considered it: ‘Artie’, no last name, date, anything. Who was he? A pet or human? Was he buried with treasure? A diary? She sniggered ‚Äď a spell book maybe?

She had to know.

She clicked something on a long, light stick I’d explored the previous night. A screen on the other side of the room flickered and brought light into the room. She had told me it was a remote. I learned to leave it to her: all the pressy bits and symbols meant nothing to me. When I tried, all I got was a black and white fuzz and an annoying buzz.

Moving pictures and people opened and closed their mouths. Sound came out of the box. She’d assured me it was normal and relegated my sword to her room when I’d tried to attack it. Still, it was weird, unnatural. The TV, as she called it, droned on. It appeared to be some sort of update or news.

I smiled but poked her side to make her calm down: this was serious. ‘There must be something that’s happened. Some big nationwide event or war or battle…’ I thought about the clash of swords and arc of blood, rich on grass and trampled underfoot. ‘Even a little skirmish?’ I missed a good skirmish, a punch to the face and a cold bag of water over an eye. It hurt, sure, but it was a great way to settle who was the better fighter.

‘Don’t think so. America is trigger happy as always but that’s nothing new. There’s been a few wars. You missed the two big ones.’ She grinned as if sharing a private joke with the air. ‘Surprised you didn’t wake up for those, actually…. Anyway, yeah, there’s nothing big.’

I ignored the mention of triggers. I assumed it was some new club or metal that could flip down in some way and cause more damage from the swing. Maybe that was why these people looked so weak in comparison to the old days. They might not need the muscle. 

And Some Teasers:

11225_large arabian_nighjts_large_wedding_tentdonestre_sketch

While you try (or give up) wondering what those three add up to, I will be writing more. Hopefully I have captivated a few of you and if not, well, there’s more to write yet. Including some more battle scenes!

I hope you enjoyed the peek into my world. 17,287 words and counting.

Happy writing!
Let me know about your projects or mine if there’s anything you have enjoyed or hated here.

Signing out,

Holly Ice – just another author like the rest of you. ūüôā

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