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The Legacy Blog Tour – Review: The Legacy by Melissa Delport (Tracey McDonald Publishers)

Morning! Hope you’re all well and ready for the weekend! :-)

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Today is my slot on the massive blog tour organized by Tracey McDonald for the first novel in Melissa’s trilogy. :-) Melissa is a fellow South African author living in Kwa-Zulu Natal, a wife and mother of three kids, but that hasn’t stopped her from writing, and writing well, at that.

Here’s the blurb for The Legacy:

World War Three lasted twelve days. Twelve days was all it took for mankind to devastate the planet and almost eradicate the human race. No victor emerged from the ashes and billions lost their lives.

We survivors lived through the bleakest of winters. A primal existence became the new order, and the little that remained of our humanity hung in the balance.

Then one man stood up and changed the world. I believed, as did everyone else, that he was the hero of our time, the man who had saved us from our own demise. His name is Eric Dane and he is the President of the New United States of America. 

He is also my husband, and my greatest enemy.

I grew up oblivious to the truth, until my father found me when I was nineteen years old. He told me about the many horrifying facts that our new leader kept hidden from us. And he told me that beyond the borders the Resistance grew and fought for freedom from the oppression that Eric Dane had imposed on us.

My name is Rebecca Davis. I am twenty-six years old, and in me the Resistance has found the ultimate weapon.

***

Now, I haven’t read much in the Dystopian genre, mainly because I write Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror (so I read in the genres that I write), and also because there’s so much Dystopian fiction being written for Young Adults – which I’ve got absolutely nothing against. My reading tastes just lie in a different direction. So when I began reading The Legacy I was expecting another YA Dystopian tale along the lines of The Hunger Games (watched the movies, haven’t read the books), and boy, was I pleasantly surprised! The Legacy is aimed at a mature readership, so parents might want to give the book a read first before letting their kids at it.

Not being constrained by the limits of YA, Melissa was able to really delve into the characters and world of the book. These are adults fighting a war, after all, and war isn’t pretty.

The main character of the novel, Rebecca, is a wonderful addition to the ranks of Strong Female Characters – she’s highly intelligent, motivated, passionate, and focused. We meet her as a teenager, getting a glimpse into the life she was living before she became part of the Resistance against Eric Dane and the New United States of America; her father disappeared at the onset of the Nuclear War and she’s had to grow up in a radically changed world without her father and with a family not her own. And she’s happy and leads a good life, until events focus on her and force her to make a decision that will change not only her life but the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of others.

From the onset the reader knows that Rebecca has hidden depths, but the author doesn’t show all her cards at once – instead, information is revealed at key points, not only advancing the plot but adding more layers to Rebecca’s character. None of it came across as forced or contrived, and the journey of discovering Rebecca and the world she lives in is pulled off effortlessly and with respect to the reader.

There are many other characters in the novel that shine – members of the Resistance take centre stage alongside Rebecca, fulfilling their various roles well, while also building a collection of threads that all lead back to Rebecca, and before the climax of the novel begins the reader knows exactly where the characters stand and where the plot is headed – at least, I thought I did, but Melissa still managed to throw a couple of interesting surprises my way.

The world-building of the novel was pulled off well, too – there is a reason for everything, especially the new government and the Resistance. For example, I still don’t know what happened in The Hunger Games that so radically changed society to the levels shown in the movies – it’s just a fact of the story that I was forced to accept. Melissa, though, explains what happened to the world and how someone like Eric Dane could rise to take such a prominent place in it.

And what Melissa also does is write great action! There’s plenty of Bond-like subterfuge in the novel (Rebecca leads two lives, after all), sneaking around and such, but when the characters are forced into hand-to-hand combat it’s pretty evident that Melissa put a lot of thought into how the characters moved, attacked and defended. There’s a completely awesome side to the combat, regarding what some of the characters can do, but I’m not going to spoil it for you – suffice it to say that Melissa successfully melded Dystopian with a certain genre-craze that has controlled the box office for a couple of years now… :-)

Regarding the personal relationships between the characters, Melissa manages to make the various relationships both believable and heartfelt; obviously there’s more of a focus on Rebecca than the other characters, but the emotional depth of the book impressed me. Also, Melissa teaches Stephanie Meyer just how to write a believable complicated romance – totally believable and entertaining. :-)

All in all, The Legacy is a better tale, in my opinion, than The Hunger Games could ever hope to be, and is an excellent example of the kind of storytelling promise South African writers have. Melissa has written an entertaining, engaging and thoughtful tale full of intelligent, brave characters, excellent action, great world-building and a great respect and understanding of Dystopian fiction. Highly recommended!

9 / 10

Cover - The Legacy

The Legacy is available throughout South Africa at Exclusive Books branches and can also be ordered online (paperback and EPUB) – it’s also available via Amazon (Kindle and paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle and paperback), and from Barnes & Noble.

Photo - Melissa Delport LR

To connect with Melissa, check out her official website here and the official website for the Legacy Trilogy here; you can also check out The Legacy Book Club on Facebook, add the book on Goodreads and check out her publisher’s website here.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Blog Tour, Reviews

 

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Review: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh (Orbit Books)

The blurb:

In the future, love is complicated and death is not necessarily the end. Love Minus Eighty follows several interconnected people in a disquieting vision of romantic life in the century to come.

There’s Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sacrifices all to visit her in a cryogenic dating facility, seeking forgiveness but instead falling in love.

Veronika, a shy dating coach, finds herself coaching the very woman who is stealing the man she loves.

And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in a heterosexual dating center near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the years pass.

In this daring and big-hearted novel based on the Hugo-winning short story, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance.

***

This novel is, without a doubt, unique.

When I began reading it I tried not to have any preconceptions of what to expect – from the blurb I knew that I would be reading a love story set in a high-tech world; I wasn’t expecting aliens or spaceships or epic weapons, and neither should you. Rather, expect something new. For instance, the tale’s opening scene: a woman, woken from some sort of coma – except she hasn’t been in a coma. She’s dead, has been for years, and she’s been drafted (without her consent or knowledge) into what is basically a dating service.

What a premise, right? Yep, I was hooked from the beginning, too.

You see, what this story does is explore love, relationships, and friendships against a backdrop of immortality and social media – death has been eradicated, though the price is beyond exorbitant; you can live a life of influence, with all the notoriety and success that comes with such a life, but the price you pay for it is your privacy.

Each character’s tale explores aspects of this world: Rob’s path takes him into the meat and tech of the world, revealing just how insane such a world can be, yet at the same time offering a glimpse of the happiness everyone is searching for; Veronika finds herself in that quintessential Catch-22 situation: able to give advice but utterly unable to follow advice. And Mira’s situation is perfect at exploring just how we are forced do to things that aren’t in our character if it means we have just a chance at finding what we’ve been searching for.

And the tech in this tale is at once dazzling and terrifying – I really hope that Will hasn’t had an accurate vision of the future, but unfortunately I can’t help thinking that advances in technology coupled with social media are taking the world in exactly this direction.

We already live in a world where being connected (whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook or InstaGram) grants you a certain social status – if you’re connected then you know what’s happening in the world from instant to instant, leading you to believe that you’re informed and can have a knowledgeable opinion, but the cost, as explored in this tale, is that you know more about the world and less about your loved ones, and even yourself.

Love Minus Eighty” is an excellent read, at once an exploration and a vision of just how we, as emotional beings, continue to try and live alongside technology that can either increase the distances between us or bring us closer together. Highly recommended!

10 / 10

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To order your copies of “Love Minus Eighty“, click the following links: Exclusive Books, Book Depository, Amazon US, Amazon UK. And check out Will’s website for more info on him and his work.
Be EPIC!
 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Ashes of a Black Forest – Book Three of The Iron Elves by Chris Evans

Morning! Werner’s next review for you! :-)

***

This is the most mixed I’ve been after reading a series.

I enjoyed all three books but the whole way through the third book I felt that maybe Chris Evans decided to write a fourth book as surely this can’t be the last one. I was mistaken, though, and it was the end.

It just felt way too fast at the end. The entire series focuses on the Marked and the confrontation with the Shadow Monarch, but the finale spans about 30 pages only. There are also characters (Rallie) that are more then they seem, and the truth about them is only hinted at but not confirmed, which left me disappointed. Maybe if the caravan wasn’t attached and she had access to Khaman Rhal’s library, it might have turned out different (maybe things don’t always go as planed as in real life changing the outcome?) There are also the stars that play a major role in the story but we never really learn about them; again, there are hints but no confirmation. It made the world in which the tale plays off feel a bit 2D.

That being said, there is a lot to admire about the series. The magic was interesting and really made me respect trees. :) The weaving of natural energy and the natural order of things play a very important role here and how things can go very wrong if it’s out of balance. The oath the iron elves take and the effect it has on them is one of the main points in the story; how it can change ordinary soldiers into more. How power can corrupt and how we as people are not always equipped to deal with that.

The action is almost none stop when it gets underway and keeps you reading just that one chapter more to see if the characters take a breather. They rarely do.

Then there are the characters themselves, most of them memorable. Yimt the dwarf was my favorite, as I’m sure he would be with most fans of the series. He sticks with you and is comic relief without trying to be. Alwyn, the young innocent who Yimt takes under his wing, who had the biggest transformation and who I also found the most tragic. Then Konowa, the major himself, who is the main character in the story and just wants to redeem himself and the tainted elves like him. He is stubborn throughout the series and even though there is growth he stays true to himself even at the end. Lastly the crazy Viceroys – all three of them :)

Book 1 had a bit of a slow pace for me but what and ending. Book 2 was a lot darker and showed Evan’s growth as an Author. Book 3 continues with the growth. I just wanted a little more.

6/10

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If you decide to pick up the series, then all I can add is if you read it from Konowa’s perspective, you know it’s about his quest for redemption and that is your only focus then I’m sure the series will feel complete. A soldiers life is nothing if not unpredictable.

To order the book, or the entire trilogy, check out these links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books. For more information on the author, check out his official website here.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: The Pilgrims (Book 1 of The Pendulum Trilogy) by Will Elliott

Morning! Werner’s latest review for you! :-)

***

I’m not a big fan of Portal Fantasy, so when I was given “The Pilgrims” to read the only reason I read it was because it was published by Jo Fletcher Books (I still have to read a book form them I didn’t like).

The story focuses on Eric Albright and his friend, Stuart Casey, who both see a red door in the midst of graffiti – and when people come out of it they know the door opens to another world. Styling themselves protectors, they guard the door for over a week and nothing happens. Just when they doubt their sanity, Eric on his way to a job interview, hears someone calling for help. He realizes that it’s coming from the other side of the door, leaves a note in the dirt for Steward, and enters this new world. Later that same day Stuart finds the message and enters a few hour after Eric.

Will is a born storyteller, as the whole book flows. It moves naturally. I enjoyed ever second of the book and really didn’t want to put it down. I liked the pace of the story and you really feel like someone is playing chess with the characters, as they fail to be moved, sometimes, or make choices that are out of character. Some of the things that bothered me about Portal Fantasy are here, too, but Will uses these things as ‘comic’ relief (I am Batman).

He also focuses on the new world a lot more – other portal stories focus on our world a lot and I don’t like it, because I live here and want to know about the other places. This story has dragons and Gods and naked women with white angel wings – what more could a guy ask for? :) The concept of the dragon scales, especially, I found intriguing. Reminds me of tribes eating the heart of enemies for courage or the brain for wisdom.

The world is beautifully realized and scary as hell, and so strange sometimes, just what we want. The plot evolves beyond what you think and at the end you know that the next one will blow you away. I won’t say this made me a fan of Portal Fantasy, but it definitely made me a fan of Will Elliott.

7/10

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To order your copies of “The Pilgrims“, check out the novel’s page at Jo Fletcher Books, or click the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Ecko Burning (The Ecko Trilogy Book 2) by Danie Ware

Hey everyone, I’m back with a review of the sequel to ‘Ecko Rising’ – Danie Ware’s debut and the first book in the trilogy. Yep, I’m talking about ‘Ecko Burning‘. :-)

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After reading book 1, Ecko Rising, I knew that an important and inventive new storyteller had hit the vast-and-always-busy Spec-Fic scene – Ecko Rising would put Danie and her creation, Ecko, to the test -

- which both passed without a hint of effort, it seems. :-)

‘Ecko Burning’ picks up after and slots neatly beside the ending of the first book, and quickly shifts into high gear, sowing plot-seeds that not only expand upon the events of the first book but also serve to add more background and ‘flesh’ to the characters introduced in the first book.

The principle character, Ecko, continues to be the star of the tale, and it is in this book that we get a much deeper sense of the conflicts raging within him as well as his reactions to what is happening around him. Danie makes an interesting and dangerous choice here – to leave Ecko effectively rudderless and confused, reacting to what’s happening around him, not having a clear idea of just what is happening around him. Why is it dangerous? Well, readers of SF and Fantasy will agree that, most times, the main characters have an idea of what’s going on, what their goals are, who it is they’re fighting or struggling against.

Taking a risk like can lead to a mess of a book as the characters struggle to find their place and purpose again, but it’s not what happens in this novel – Danie allows Ecko to explore, to confront, to hate, and more, which allows him to eventually make a choice that comes across as natural and unforced; and the choice leaves Ecko utterly changed, so he grows as a character, too. Ecko’s supporting cast are also put through the wringer, and there’s a great split-focus on them all. so the reader get’s that all-important look at their motivations and fears, even more so than in the first book.

Plot-wise, I was damned impressed – after the conflicts that the cast had to face in Ecko Burning I was really curious as to what would happen, and I’m happy to say that not only did the action and tension escalate, but more was revealed about the world and its cultures, adding yet more layers to the considerable world-building that Danie revealed in Book 1.

I have no-idea where Danie will take the story in the third book, and I’m happy to say that I trust her to do many awesome, memorable things with this tale. In two books Danie has proved herself a writer and storyteller of considerable talent, able to create unique characters that inhabit wonderful world-building, and I’m definitely looking forward to the finale and the surprises that Danie is sure to spring on us. :-)

9 / 10

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To order your copies of ‘Ecko Burning’, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And check out Danie’s website here.

Many thanks to Titan Books for supplying me with an ARC – you guys rock!

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (Book 2: The First Law)

Hey everyone, Werner here.

When I read The Blade Itself, I was completely blown away. It was a success on every level – the story-line, the pace, but most of all the characters. It had everything that I look for in fantasy. So I was a little hesitant when it became time for book two. I had it so built up in my head and, hearing what other people had said, I wondered if the book would reach expectations. It did, boy did it…

The story picks up where it left off with the Union fighting a war on two fronts and a quieter war within. In Dagoska, the cripple questioner Sand dan Glokta is sent as the new Superior after the previous one disappears. His objective? Find out what happened, and keep Dagoska out of Gurkish hands. Glokta is only too happy to do this as years ago the Gurkish Empire tortured him and he has no intention of repeating the experience.

Win or lose, it doesn’t mater, all he knows is they will never take him alive again. In Angland the Union faces Bethod, the new ‘crowned’ king of the north. Marshal Burr is given the command and with his aide, Collem West, they need to stop the northmen. This is harder as it sounds – the dandy Ladisla, who is also the crown price of the Union, wants glory and, if given his way, West might not make it home. They meet some northmen who are not under the sway of Bethod, northmen who know the area and Bethod better than the Union. Northmen who once fought with Logen Ninefingers the most feared and hated man in the north.

And where is the Bloody nine? He is traversing the Old Empire with Bayaz, the first of the Magi, looking for something…

I enjoyed ever second of this book. It keeps the pace and complexity we have come to expect from Joe, and the characters, all of them, are some of the best drawn I have had the pleasure to read in quite some time.

But the most important thing to me was that they grow and change with the story, which they do. They are people that can make mistakes and some make big ones, and then they redeem themselves in the most unexpected ways. The story and characters are gritty and unapologetic, dark and beautiful at the same time, just like life.

If you are looking for something that’s just that little different, just that little more, then this might be for you.

8/10

Before They Are hanged

To order your copies of Before They Are Hanged, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And don’t forget to check out Joe’s website here.

P.S. I was asked a question the other day: If I could choose five people to have dinner with, alive or dead, who would it be? Well, if I could have chosen fictional people then Glokta, Logen and West would have made the cut. Though with Glokta there we probably would only have soup.

Werner

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (Book 1: The First Law)

With over 38-thousand ratings on Goodreads alone, The Blade Itself needs no introduction. It’s a book that Fantasy readers world wide have read and, in the majority of cases, really enjoyed, and it’s also one of those seminal titles that I’ve been wanting to read since I started this blog in 2008.

Finally, I got it done! :-) And damn Joe Abercrombie to the Olympus-mount of Fantasy writers – because it’s a damned good read.

As I said, most of you will know this book, and the characters, so this review will just focus on my thoughts of the experience of reading the book and meeting the unforgettable characters that populate it.

First, you’ve got Logan Ninefingers – feared, a terror of the North, fighting and then tumbling off a cliff. Definitely not the barbarian that readers probably thought they would encounter. He’s stubborn, intelligent, naive, and a peerless combatant. But he has some crazy-cool secrets, too, and the whole package makes him one of the most interesting characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in any form of fiction.

And then comes Glokta – poor, poor Glokta, or should that be brilliant, scheming Glokta? ;-) He’s the most memorable character of the novel, in my opinion, because he was the hero, the one who achieved victory and was celebrated, and the one who lost it all…

Jezal was the character I most enjoyed – he’s an utter chauvinist and whiner, but his about-turns in the novel were excellently handled, showing the reader not only his strange sense of honour but testing his limits and opinions.

These were the stars of the book, but the world Joe created for this trilogy (and which he continues to explore in the stand-alones he has since published) is a star all its own – the various cultures are expertly described, neither too much nor too vaguely, and I got a real sense of the landscapes and vistas Joe explored. It doesn’t surprise me at all the Joe has managed to explore the world so successfully – even those aspects of it just hinted at, when compared with what he shows us, were memorable.

The action in the book is hard and brutal, gory in most instances but always hard, and I stopped counting how many times I winced when blows fell. But the actions suits the characters, too – Glokta can’t wield a sword, for example; Jezal is more of a fencer, and Logan is strong and brutal with almost anything.

Plot-wise, the novel ticks along at a good clip; Joe manages to keep the pace up, even in some of the more political-passages and chapters, and the climax was both satisfying and promising, so I’m eager to Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings.

More focused on the characters, but with a great balance between world-building, plot and pacing, The Blade Itself is unique, memorable, and damned enjoyable – different enough to all the myriad ‘sub-genres’ of Fantasy available these days to stand out. I now know what the fuss is about, and I heartily agree. :-)

9 / 10

The Blade Itself UK

To order your copies of The Blade Itself, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. There is also a boxed-set of the trilogy available: US, UK, South Africa.

Do go and check out Joe’s website – plenty of info on all his work to date, an entertaining blog, and regular updates on the graphic novel-adaptation of The Blade Itself.

On Friday Werner’s review of Before They Are Hanged will go live, so until then,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Reviews

 

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