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Monday, November 28, 2011

Tempest Child by Laura Eno

Welcome to the first review in my end of year look-back. Over the coming weeks I will be choosing books from some of the best writers I've reviewed over the year. I've got some great books stacked up from some awesome indie authors like Spencer Baum, Jamie Sedgwick and Milda Harris. If you have any favorites you'd like me to review leave a comment and I'll see what I can do!

First up is Tempest Child by Laura Eno. I first reviewed Eno back in July with her charming story the Realms of the Red Rabbit. A very unique story with classical elements, and a five star effort. 

Blurb: As future Queen and Guardian of the Elements, Princess Skylather'cha'eab thought her worst nightmare was the impending find-a-husband party until events take an ominous turn. Now she must put her life at risk to save her Kingdom. Skyla's world is turned upside-down when she enters the Crossroads. Does she have the courage to sort truth from lie, or will she die not knowing who betrayed her?

Review by Dale:

I was very impressed with the first story I read from this writer so I jumped at the chance to read this new story. I had great expectations for another awesome read.

Tempest Child is classic fantasy. It's set in a world apart from our world in a magic realm where the heroine of our story rules over the elements, or she would if she was Queen and had finished her training. The problem is trouble can't wait and the young princess finds herself pushed into the crossroads far too soon.

It took me a long time to finish this book. I just couldn't get into it, too easily distracted as the characters seem to amble about without much purpose for the first eighty pages.

The writing is good, the same tight and elegant prose that had me rapt with Realms of the Red Rabbit. It's just the story seemed a bit verbose. It wasn't until Sky was transported into the crossroads with her quirky companion that things started to gather pace.

Eno does have a great imagination and the richness of the worlds she creates certainly create magnificient environments for her stories but again this book has just a few too many parallels with the Realms of the Red Rabbit story. The constant changing of the realms, the often unseen malevolence in the realms trying to kill Sky and companions. If you haven't read Realms of the Red Rabbit then it would be moot, but for me Tempest Child can't compete with the richness and often creepy atmosphere created in that great story.

It is very difficult to avoid comparing the two, where Realms was a story with a purpose, (the realization and rehabilitation of the bad ways of the protagonist) I don't see such a boldly detailed premise here. Girl faces environmental challenges, meets hunky guy, falls in love, comes back home kicks butt and lives happily ever after? I wanted more depth.

But what if you are fourteen and reading Eno for the first time? Then if you can hang in there for the beginning the journey is still well worth the fare. Eno's writing is still full of charm and an almost scary imagination that still keeps you guessing page after page. 4 out of 5 stars for me.

Age 12+
Format: eBook
Available from Smashwords
Link to Download: Here
Price: $0.00c (at time of review)
Wordcount: 60,000 (appx)
Author: Laura Eno
Author's Blog: Here

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'll be Home for Peacemas by Shannon O'Neil

Blurb: Bailey Hamilton isn't exactly a recluse, but when it comes to Christmas, she prefers a pair of sweats and quiet time with the television - anything to stay away from her hometown, where things are anything but quiet and painful memories lurk. But after an incident with a homeless man dubs her the "Santa Slugger," Bailey finds herself in the last place she expected - home. 

 Review by Dale:

This is perhaps my second foray into chic-lit comedy? And it's probably targeted more at the adult or advanced YA reader rather than the Tween.

This is also another genre that that I don't claim to be any kind of expert in. I've seen the Bridget Jones movie and something with Sandra Bullock in it so I'm not completely nieve....

What is immediately obvious a few pages into this novel is that author Shannon O'Neil has quite a way with words. "My grandfather would sooner have seen his youngest son in full drag carrying a Jimmy Carter campaign sign than..." The whole story is punctuated with snappy little punchlines that make you laugh out loud and cause those sitting around you to eye you with suspicion and move away. Definitely better to read this when you are alone or out of earshot.

Comedy is tricky and weaving comedy into a serious story that has a great message is not a challenge for the feint hearted writer. So I think O'Neil has done exceptionally well in maintaining the comedic flow of the book whilst delivering a credible and compelling piece of dysfunctional domestic drama for us to enjoy.

I think O'Neils greatest strength maybe lies in her character development. Some of the amazing nut cases she has conjured up are absolute gems. A personal favorite being the massive lumberjack simpleton Maylene. O'Neil has given only a tiny amount of detail in describing her and yet this character has fully metastasized in my mind. The other thoroughly enjoyable character is Olivia, whose complete insanity would give Batman's arch nemesis the Joker a run for his money. I dont want to spoil the fun for any potential readers out there by giving away too many of the jokes and shenanigans contained within though.

I'll be Home for Peacemas is easy to read and moves along briskly. There are a lot of characters in this book and honestly I did get them confused at times, probably because I didn't get a chance to read this in just one or two sittings but kept coming back to it. The story itself is told as a recollection of past events and jumps randomly around the last few Christmases in the life of Bailey Hamilton. You know something big has happened, but you dont know what triggered it off and that suspense keeps you turning in the pages.

So if you are looking for something to take away for a long weekend of reading in the sun and you like that  'Meet the parents' kind of mad humour, then this is the book to pack.

 Format: eBook
Available from Smashwords 
Link to Download: Here
Price: $2.99c (at time of review)
Wordcount: 80,000 (appx)
Author: Shannon O'Neil