Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Site!

Please update your links to - http://phoenixfantasyreviews.com/


Friday, December 7, 2012

Wheels, Time, and excuses!

Oh poor dear blog, I've not been very attentive! I have to confess, NanoWriMo completely hammered the whole of November for me, and I'm finding myself slow to recover! I do have a couple of reviews backed up though, and hope to get some out over the weekend, small child permitting. I think for the most part though, things will stay quiet around here until after Christmas, when I hope to be back with a bang :)

Anticipation-wise, the last book in the legendary (for both good and bad reasons!) Wheel of Time series is filling my head at the moment, and I'm contemplating a WoT re-read in readiness. Although I'm not sure if I'm tough enough just now! But it would definitely be a cool thing to do if I can find the time.

Other than that, am just hanging in there at work and waiting it out for the Christmas break. Come on holidays, get on with it!

Friday, November 30, 2012

The King's Man

Returning to the world she created for the best-selling series The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, Rowena Cory Daniells has crafted a brand new novella – available next week from Solaris! 

In the Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin trilogy everyone believed Garzik had been killed. This ebook exclusive reveals what happened to him. When Dovecote estate fell, Garzik, younger son of Lord Dovecote, was captured and sent back to Merofynia as a prize of war. Feeling responsible for the fall of his father’s estate – and therefore, ultimately, the fall of the Kingdom of Rolencia – Garzik must set things right before he can return home. He decides to turn his misfortune into opportunity, to spy for the rightful king, Byren, who yet thinks him slain at Dovecote. With fortune on his side, he may learn something that could change the path of the war, then escape, return home, find Byren and redeem himself. For Garzik is and always will be the king’s man. 

 With its explosive mix of political intrigue and magic, The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin remains the best selling Solaris series. Discover for yourself why with this new and exclusive ebook from Solaris.

King Rolen's Kin is one of my all time favourite trilogies, can't wait to read the new installment!! It's out on 6th Decemember :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Farm, Emily McKay

I have to admit right off the bat that YA isn't my usual thing, but a post-apocalyptic Vampire novel? I couldn't resist!

The Farm is more Twilight than Double Dead, but its pretty cool in its own right. Concepually there's a massive amount of potential here, and I'm not convinced that it was anywhere near realised. But I suspect this is more down to the limitations of YA and the expectations I carried over from a lot of adult horror novels. The Farm is nowhere near as dark, or as tense as it could've been, and from my own reading perspective, that was a shame.

There's an odd switch of perspective between first and third person between the two main characters. It actually works quite nicely it's just something that wrong-footed me a bit, and in fact I don't think I've seen it in a novel to date. I'm trying to figure what it brings to the table..and can't really! but it does no harm once you've got over the "hang on a minute" moment..

I really liked the notion of the "ticks" here, and while I completely get where the name comes from, I can't help but wonder how many people get the wrong end of the stick from the blurb! Visions of giant, swollen bugs running around outside..was actually scarier than the reality. For me at least. The idea of humans as a corralled food source was good too, but I've seen it done better. Again there was just that lack of tension and darkness that made it hard for me to feel on edge. It felt very tame. The collabs were more moronic than intimidating, and the attempted rape scene read as bizarrely light hearted. which was disconcerting.

The Big Twist...well, there are two of them I suppose. One was glaringly obvious, and one slightly less so. Don't go expecting any real surprises, but you might get an "Ooo.." moment at the very end.

 Honestly I think the best way I can sum this one up is a guilty pleasure. It's a bit daft if I'm honest, the notion of the 'rebels' searching for one schoolgirl that one of them remembered as being strangely influential...I don't want to go deep into spoiler territory but it's hard to express the daftness without touching on it. Regardless, McKay's writing is massively engaging and hugely readable, and I had fun with this one in spite of it not being really my thing.

One thing that I did think was genuinely unnecessary though, were the overt digs at Twilight. For a Vampire novel with elements of angsty teen romance, I think that's dangerous ground. Mckay clearly feels she's a step above Meyer, but really, how many Twilight fans are going to be picking this up? shooting yourself in the foot if you ask me. There are more than enough parallels for anyone to call her out on it. And even if there weren't, is it really necessary? it read as obnoxious.

All of that aside, it's a fast paced read, and engaging from the first page. It's the kind of novel I could see going down a storm as a film adaptation, and I have no doubt that teenage girls, especially the more precocious ones who think they're a cut above Bella, will adore it. ...and honestly? if there's a sequel..I'd read it. But I most likely wouldn't tell anyone I know ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's not Epic...but...

..it looks pretty  damn good! Penguin have surprised me by sending me a gorgeous copy of Emily Mckay's The Farm. And it looks fun enough to make me temporarily suspend my ban on books with hooded figures on the cover. Because it's a red hood. On a girl. So it's OK.

"Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. 

Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other… And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible. Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. 

Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help… Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race..."

I shall report back forthwith :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I was starting to wonder if it might just be a forlorn, doomed hope of mine...but then Night Shade books came along and proved that no, it's not just an impossible dream...it can be done!! A new Epic Fantasy release WITHOUT A HOODED FIGURE ON THE COVER!! cue the fireworks! :)

"The beginning of an ambitious fantasy saga"? Yes please! Many thanks to Night Shade for the ARC, which I can't wait to get my teeth into.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giant Thief, David Tallerman

"Meet Easie Damasco, rogue, thieving swine and total charmer. 

Even the wicked can't rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he's going to need help. Big time."

This was a really fast read, it's less than 400 pages, and the font size is huge. If you settle down with this one with no interruptions it'll only take you a couple of hours to get through. Which for a Fantasy novel is a refreshing change!

The good thing about Giant Thief is also, in a way, the bad thing though. It's fast and light and a nice brain break, but at the same time there's nothing to really get your teeth into. I think, in general, fans of Martin et al would drop this one after a hundred pages or so. Except me! Because work is doing my nut at the moment and I was quite happy to sit back and not have to think. It's like...having a fizzy drink and choccy bar for your dinner. It's enjoyable, and feels a bit naughty, but ultimately it doesn't satisfy.

I wanted to mention the cover art, which I know I shouldn't..but...it looks like YA, doesn't it? or is it just me? that plus the massive font made me wonder.

On the whole, Giant Thief was an OK read. I thought the concept was absolute genius. I don't want to include any spoilers...but...let's just say Easie's getaway vehicle was monumentally awesome. It started really, really well. And then unfortunately, after such an original opening, it settled back into complete mediocrity. I felt that the opening 10% or so, and the closing 10% were the best bits of the novel, and the 80% in the middle was below average. It's essentially just one long, drawn out chase scene. There's too much running away and it gets old, fast. To quote Easie himself;

"And that was how it went for the longest time. They came closer, we pulled away, on and on."

...he's not wrong. I got bored.

There's no World building to speak of, I think that's really where it failed for me. Saltlick is a fabulous character, Easie I could take or leave, and even with the never-ending chase I think I could have forgiven a lot more if I'd had more of an idea of the world I was in. Just little touches...would've made all the difference. I did adore Saltlick though, and him getting into the boat sticks in my mind as a wonderful scene.

In Estrada Tallerman tries to give us a strong female character, which is always nice in Fantasy as it's still stupidly rare (by strong female character I don't mean some lycra clad 'hot babe' who 'kicks ass'. *shudders*). It doesn't really work well here though as she needs to be rescued by the menfolk one too many times. Still, definitely points for effort.

Again this is hard to cover without spoilers, but the big reveal wasn't really a big reveal...and I still can't figure out why Easie didn't put two and two together when the Big Bad explained his situation to Saltlick. For a character who's supposed to be sharp witted...it doesn't really add up.

And the last thing, there's a monumentally daft suggestion on the back of the book saying "if you like this you might enjoy The Lies of Locke Lamora". I really don't know why publishers feel the need to do that. You might as well say "If you like hamburgers you might also enjoy a nice rare 16 oz rump steak. It's just...daft. There's no way at all you can compare Tallerman to Lynch here, and honestly, they'd have been much better off not mentioning him. IMHO of course.

The verdict? It's a fun read in parts. Maybe a good entry novel for younger readers want to cut their fantasy teeth. Would I pick up the sequel? Doubtful. Too many other things around to get my teeth into.