Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Recreated - Colleen Houck

Book Details

Book Title: Recreated

Author: Colleen Houck

Publisher
: Hodder & Stoughton

Source: Sent to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 406

Format: Paperback

Genre: Historical Fantasy

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1444784817


Audience: Those who enjoy romantic fantasy adventures, with lots of ancient mythology.

Summed up in one word: Mythological

Author Bio: Colleen Houck is a New York Times Bestselling author, a determined reader and nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter. She also lives in Salem in the USA and is the owner of multiple tigers.

First Impression: Entering this series mid-way through felt like a bit of a mistake to begin with, leaning heavily on the past book for the first 50 or so pages. This feeling was quickly alleviated by an intense, graphic and romantic journey through Ancient Egyptian mythology. This was a great book, it pushes the boundaries of historical fantasy, I was impressed by the main character, the secondary characters and the execution of the plot. My mind was taken to new lands and I am very much looking forward to going back when the next book comes out.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Onyx Webb: Book One - Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz

Book Details

Book Title: Onyx Webb: Book One

Author: Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz

Publisher
: Courage Crafters Inc.

Source: Sent to me by the authors in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 218

Format: Paperback

Genre: Horror/Supernatural

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-0990751816


Audience: Those who enjoy short episodic based fiction with horror and supernatural themes.

Summed up in one word: Audacious

Author Bio: Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz are both #1 Amazon Bestsellers and both have a passion for writing paranormal ghost stories. They are focusing on their amazing Onyx Webb series which will eventually be a 9 book/27 episode series.

First Impression: I am rather cautious when it comes to book series as I am easily sucked in and then I spend weeks and weeks having to read all the other instalments as I get rather addicted... This book was no different. The Onyx Webb series is a hooking episodic monument to paranormal/horror fiction. I have to write this review, then go an order the rest of these books as I need to know what happens next!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Fortunes - Peter Ho Davies

Book Details

Book Title: The Fortunes

Author: Peter Ho Davies

Publisher
: Sceptre

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Page Count: 268

Format: Hardback

Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-0340980231


Audience: Those who enjoy important historical events and themes, with a fictional twist.

Summed up in one word: Identity (one of many words to describe this work)

Author Bio: Peter Ho Davies was born in Britain to Welsh and Chinese parents. He is now a professor of creative writing at the University Of Michigan in the US. PHD's previous works include the Sunday Times bestseller Welsh Girl (2007), Equal Love (2000) and The Ugliest House In The World (1997).

First Impression: Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres, though it can be frustrating having to research what is true and what is not. Luckily, in The Fortunes, a large amount of the book is based on events that really happened in the last 150 years concerning Chinese people living in america. This is a perfect balance of fiction and reality. The four stories we are shown in this book are filled with cultural, emotional and personal struggles. From the building of the Central Pacific Railway in the 1800's by Chinese workers, to a couple adopting a baby from China to raise in America. This is an important book that people need to read.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Dandy Gilver & A Most Misleading Habit - Catriona McPherson

Book Details

Book Title: Dandy Gilver & A Most Misleading Habit

Author: Catriona McPherson

Publisher
: Hodder & Stoughton

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 322

Format: Hardback

Genre: Mystery/Crime

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1473633414


Audience: Those who would enjoy a complex murder mystery set in 1930's Scotland. 

Summed up in one word: Challenging

Author Bio: Born in Scotland in 1965. PhD in Linguistics from Edinburgh University. Author of the successful Dandy Gilver series (11 instalments). Full time writer who divides her time between Southern Scotland and Northern California.

First Impression: I had never heard of Catriona McPherson despite her significant presence in the crime/mystery scene in the U.K. So I entered her Dandy Gilver series at book number 11 a bit concerned, but by the end I was so impressed with the writing and events in this story that I actually forgot it was not a stand alone. It is the juggling of 30+ different characters all in the same place that impressed me the most, making each character stand out in a different way and not losing sight of the end game. There are several issues I had with this book as well so onto the review!!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Heart Of Granite - James Barclay

Book Details

Book Title: Heart Of Granite

Author: James Barclay

Publisher
: Gollancz

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 412

Format: Paperback

Genre: Military Fantasy/Science Fiction



Audience: For those who love high octane fiction, with dragons, large scale battles and a great group of characters.

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy it!

Summed up in one word: Ferocious

First Impression: I was sent this by Gollancz and when I read that it is military fantasy, I was a bit dubious as I haven't read many books in that genre. I got stuck in and at first I was not really enjoying this book, I found the air battles disorientating and the lack of explanation on the events that preceded this setting confusing. Around pages 50-75 this book really kicks in and you have to hang on for dear life and it is not stop, action, adrenaline, escape, mutations, fighting, dragons, fire, battles and great moments between a squadron of talented fighters. This is the start of an amazing trilogy and readers need to support this.

Summary:
One Man, One Brief Conversation, A Whole World Of Trouble...

The world has become a battleground in a war which no side is winning. But for those determined to retain power, the prolonged stalemate cannot be tolerated.

Max Halloran is living the brief and glorious life of a hunter-killer pilot. He's an ace in the air, on his way up through the ranks, in love, and with his family's every need provided Max has everything...

Or does he?

(Synopsis from Heart Of Granite)

Review

Story: Heart Of Granite took me by surprise. The beginning of this book is disorientating. You get thrown into a fully formed world with very little explanation of how this version of earth came to be (Each chapter has a quote or an excerpt to help give context but to begin with, that is it). The author is more interested in going straight into the action. There are air battles set on various enhanced version of real life and fictional reptiles. The squadron we follow called Inferno-X ride Drakes (dragon like creatures who breath fire). The plot predominantly follows Max Halloran and Inferno-X during their time fighting the enemy in a war between the world superpowers. It also follows the politics behind the scene, all the back-stabbing, political take overs, the lying and the cover-ups. The story takes place in and around the Heart Of Granite, A behemoth approx. one kilometre long. The Heart Of Granite is a living creature that has been modified to carry an army into battle and provide all the surveillance and tactical necessities that squadrons of fighters will need. I could talk all day about the setting and the depth of detail here but it will take me many, many pages. 

The story has a difficult take off, but when it kicks in we all get such a treat. Intense air battles with dragons, squadron-family dynamics, political back stabbing, big breath-taking scenes, weird alien moments, the love between a pilot and his drake and many other elements that make this book stand out. The story is rooted in fantasy, with science fiction elements, with a lot of military dressing over the top, once I had established what the call-signs were, the dynamics of the battles and what the characters were capable of, then I really started to love this book, barely looking up until I reached its satisfying conclusion.

Characters: There are many characters here in Heart Of Granite. The most important one for this review is of course Max Halloran himself, along with his drake Martha (or princess). This duo make this book shine, Max is a unbearable, egotistical, handsome pain in the bottom, but he does what is best for Inferno-X and he loves Martha 100%. As the story develops, we find Max in many difficult situations that leave him scared, afraid, alone, but also times when he is fierce, head strong and heroic. He is a top notch lead character and with Martha along for the ride (Excuse the pun), he makes a great read. The fact that the author wrote in so many influential characters and never missed a beat really impressed me, all the members of Inferno-X gel together so well and you can really feel like your flying alongside them, watching in on their antics and their special bond. Honourable mention goes to the politicians behind the scenes, I usually HATE politics in books like this as I think it drags everything down. The politics here epic though, with all the lead staff clawing for the upper hand, back stabbing and overruling to get the outcome they want and get the promotion they are aiming for, so good :D.

Themes: Big themes include Love, Transformation, World Politics, War, Corruption, Military Tactics and Insanity. Other themes include Trust, Relationships, Capture, Fear and Freedom.

Likes: Detail. Depth. Imagination. Great Character Development. Well Executed. Continuity. Amazing Creatures. Rise and Fall Of A Hero.

Dislikes: The lack of a proper explanation of what The Fall is until later on in the book...(I won't explain here, read the book and find out for yourself!). Mainly the lack of proper explanation on elements in this book that would have made it much easier to understand and appreciate from the start. 

Rating: I could talk about this book all day. I am definitely looking forward to the next instalment. Some issues from the get go, but after you get an idea of the spirit of this story, it becomes an intense, adrenaline fuelled, emotion, fierce and beautiful reading experience. An intelligent read, with all the depth and detail you could ever want!

9/10

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cinema Alchemist - Roger Christian

Book Details

Book Title: Cinema Alchemist

Author: Roger Christian

Publisher
: Titan Books 

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 360

Format: Hardback (it is also an e-book)

Field Of Interest: Cinema



Audience: Those who love Star Wars, Alien, Cult Movies or cinematography in general.

Summed up in one word: Dedicated

Author Bio: Roger Christian is an award winning production designer and filmmaker, whose significant contributions to the global success of Alien and Star Wars are legendary. As a director, Roger's work includes Black Angel, The Sender and Nostradamus, and he acted as second-unit director on Star Wars: Episode VI and Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

First Impression: This is a must read/own for any Star Wars, Alien or cult movie fans. Cinema Alchemist is filled with secrets from some of the defining movies of the 70's and 80's. From RG's work with George Lucas on the set of A New Hope, to his significant involvement in Alien alongside Ridley Scott. There are many stories, secrets, insights and anecdotes, every reader will find a treasure trove of movie secrets and insider knowledge on the set of genre defining movies!

Summary:
For the first time, Oscar-winning set decorator and director Roger Christian tells the story of his breakthrough work on such iconic science fiction masterpieces as Star Wars, Alien and his own rediscovered Black Angel.

This candid biography delves into his relationships with such legendary cinematic figures as George Lucas, Ridley Scott, and the Monty Python team, and reveals many of the secrets of his greatest work.

The man who built the lightsaber finally speaks!

(Synopsis from Cinema Alchemist)

Review

Content: Roger Christian opens up about his time on the set of Star Wars, Alien, The Life Of Brian and his own short movie Black Angel. As one of the key set decorators involved in A New Hope, Roger Christian had a lot of say in prop design and set pieces. In this section of the book, you get an all access guide to how some of the most famous elements of Star Wars came to be. It is as good as it sounds :D. Then the mid-section of this book is dedicated to Alien, Ridley Scott, Roger Christian and the other set decorators working hard to bring us another genre defining movie full of excellent effects and memorable scenes. This section is the most juicy in terms of easter eggs and trade secrets. In between these sections, there are stories and anecdotes of other films that RG contributed to such as Monty Python's The Life Of Brian. Finally, we are treated to an in-depth piece on Roger Christian's first outing as director in the form of Black Angel. This section delves into the trials and tribulations that RG faced whilst trying to create a short film that would accompany Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Backs on its first run in cinemas. 

Author Style: There is no one that can say that Roger Christian does not work at 100%. He is a dedicated, artistic and enthusiastic human being and this definitely comes across in his writing. I felt at times that I was on the set with him, watching all the delicately prepared plans go wrong, and all the crew scrambling to fix, tweak and generate new ideas on the spot. I would like to say that RG doesn't toot his own horn to much...but being an Oscar winning artist comes with its bragging rights and RG takes several opportunities to exploit this. The main point to discuss about the writing in this book is that it is incredibly detailed. It is almost a textbook for film students at certain points, but I didn't personally find this to be an issue, it is inspiring to read such care and attention to craftsmanship.

Accomplishments: This book accomplishes plenty. RG gets to explain and open up about the props, effects and set design that he worked on in Star Wars, and especially about how it was him who created the iconic Lightsaber! RG also gets to share stories and details about working alongside Ridley Scott, this is an excellent part of the book, full of wonderful stories, content and ideas. The reader gets to see how much work and detail goes into every second of a movie, the blood, sweat and tears that accompany getting the perfect shot or sound that makes a movie scene something special.

Pros: Loads of insider information. Many funny stories. Inspiring. Informative. Awesome.

Cons: This book is a bit of a time consumer, it took me quite a while to finish as it is rather dense with information. Similar to a textbook at times. We could always do with more Star Wars insider knowledge.

Extras: There are plenty of photos in the book that compliment the text, some of which are fairly rare. There are lots of connections to other popular movies of the 70's and 80's, as well as RG taking inspiration from Arthurian Lore. 


Rating: This is a must own for movies lovers. If you enjoy know plenty about the process of making movies, or knowing more than other people about popular movie trivia then this is definitely for you. I am happy to have this on my bookshelf, I love the cinema and in many ways, Roger Christian helped make movies special, memorable and enjoyable.

9/10

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Lock In - John Scalzi

Book Details

Book Title: Lock In

Author: John Scalzi

Publisher
: Gollancz

Source: Library

Page Count: 334

Format: Paperback

Genre: Science-Fiction


Audience: Those who love a heavy dose of science and politics, with some action

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Read

Summed up in one word: Polished

Author Bio: John Scalzi is an american science fiction author. He is also is know for his blog Whatever on which he has been posting since 1998. John Scalzi writes fiction, non fiction and columns on a wide variety of subjects and interests. 
  
First Impression: I love science fiction, I have been reading a lot of historical fiction lately and I was really looking forward to a big dose of science, action and more science. Lock In is a well rounded, enjoyable read, was I blown away? Not really, but I did have some fun with this book. Heavy on the science and the politics, thin on action and suspense. There are elements here that I loved! The dynamics of Chris and the other Hadens was impressive. The writing was so polished and confident, which was needed for a story like this. There are a few problems here though so lets get to the the review.

Summary:
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. Most of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. A few suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And 1 per cent find themselves 'locked in' - fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.
It may not seem like a lot. But in the US alone that's 1.7 million people 'locked in' ... including the President's wife and daughter.
Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can fully restore the locked in, but then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, 'The Agora', where the locked-in can interact with other humans. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, allowing the locked in to occasionally use their bodies as if they were their own.
This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse...
 (Synopsis from Lock In by John Scalzi)

Review

Story: This was an ambitious storyline and Scalzi did a great job with it. Starting with a world wide illness that eventually left a percentage of the population with 'Haden's Syndrome' which has symptoms ranging from the flu, to meningitis or ultimately 'Locked In' syndrome, Scalzi shows us the aftermath of such an event and what we can achieve to bring some normality back to those who lost everything. Science is key in this story and though it is not an overly complicated story line, when the characters get into the computer/coding talk, I lost my grasp on what they were explaining several times as it is filled with technical speak and deep explanations that I could not fully understand. 

There are two key elements to this story that made it enjoyable to me. First, John Scalzi managed to write a half decent murder mystery wrapped in a technologically advanced version of our society set in the near future, doing this whilst also brewing an underlying plot between the Hadens (those afflicted with Haden's Syndrome) and those who don't accept their needs or existence. Secondly, creating this amazing technology that the Haden's need to maintain their lifestyle even after being confined to their beds. Unfortunately parts of this element of the book were under-developed which is a shame because they had major potential, such as 'The Agora' which is an internal social network system used by Hadens to communicate and have some interaction with other Hadens, but it is barely used and it is a shame.

Characters: The characters in this book are difficult to appreciate... The protagonist is a Haden called Chris Shane who is just starting his job in the FBI when we are introduced to him in the story. Now, he has had a troublesome life, contracting 'Haden's Syndrome' when he was 2 and becoming fully 'Locked In'. Shane was the poster child for the campaign to fund research to help those who have suffered with the disease. That said, he is a moody, reckless and childish sort of character who has some good qualities when he needs them. 

Alongside Shane there is his FBI partner Vann who is a bit of cliche, hard nut with a troubled past. Other characters include, politicians, rich people, members of the Navajo Nation and computer geniuses. Each character had some good bits and some bad bits but nothing that I can really get excited about. The villain was an evil mastermind who was turning people against the Hadens to accomplish his own twisted goals, but he spent the whole book in the background and only really came into play when the book was said and done.

Themes: Several potent themes here in Lock In. Worldwide suffering, technology, science, politics, discrimination and unity. 

Likes: The technology that helps the Hadens is amazing. The story telling. Diversity. Complex story with plenty of science and technology weaved in. This book is a smooth read in terms of writing, polished and confident.

Dislikes: Lost potential. Characters need some work. Lack of action or thrills. Overly technical in parts, hard for the lay people to follow the thread. Quite a lot of politics...


Rating: Overall, Lock In is immensely readable, The story and the version of our society that it occupies is top quality. The characters are a bit of a let down, they are nothing special but the characters here are just pawns in a much bigger game, The technology that the Hadens are given is interesting and inspiring, though parts that I thought could add more depth to the story were left under-developed. I would recommend this book to those who love science and technology, those who are looking for action need to look elsewhere.

7/10

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Dead Ground In Between - Maureen Jennings

Book Details

Book Title: The Dead Ground In Between

Author: Maureen Jennings

Publisher
: Titan Books

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 297

Format: Paperback

Genre: Historical Crime



Audience: Those who enjoy nostalgic crime stories

Buy? Read? Avoid?: I recommend reading Dead Ground In Between and then if you like it then purchase the trilogy.

Summed up in one word: Authentic

Author Bio: Maureen Jennings is a Canadian teacher, writer and psychotherapist. MJ started her Murdoch Mysteries series in 1997 (7 in total to this date) and has also written the Tom Tyler Mysteries trilogy.

First Impression: This book was sent to me by Titan Books, I was not sure what to expect but I went in with an open mind. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. MJ has written many books already so her writing is comfortable and solid. This book does not break any new ground, but it does entertain, inspire and make us remember about our past. WW2 is an important time in our past and MJ treats it with the respect it deserves and provides us with some decent crime writing to go with it.

Summary:

It is late 1942, and Detective Inspector Tom Tyler is settling into his placement in Ludlow, Shropshire, which is crowded with evacuees and others fleeing the German bombs. On the town s outskirts is an Italian PoW camp, whose inmates work on local farms. Fraternizing is forbidden but, as Tyler knows only too well, the human heart has a way of crossing boundaries. 

Tyler is kept busy enforcing wartime regulations, until an old man goes missing, and his body is later discovered in a secret hideout supposedly known to very few. What s more, the two evacuee children who found the body are clearly not telling the whole truth, but when Tyler tries to question them further, they vanish from their foster home. A crime has clearly been committed, but there is no shortage of suspects...

(Synopsis from the book)

Review

Story: The story in Dead Ground In Between has many different elements. We follow Detective Inspector Tom Tyler for about 95% of this book, with little plot pieces put in for the other characters to help the development of the story. As I said before, this book does not break any new ground, the author uses a great blend of historical events and World War 2 secrets to put together this piece; though it is nothing new. The story follows the police trying to work out how an old man managed to leave his house in middle of the night and end up dead inside a place no one should know about. This story then slowly turns from a mysterious death to a town wide Whodunnit? Though rather predictable in places, I did not manage to work out the ending before I got there.

The stand out element to this story, the one I think people will appreciate when they read this is the police work. I really appreciated the fact that the author had the characters doing proper police work as apposed to spontaneous on-the-spot revelations, there were a few moments that had some convenience to them but they were so well written that you barely notice. Prisoner of War and Refugee treatment in this country during the war was not something I contemplated before I read this book. It was factors like this and other small but potent story elements that kept me reading.

Characters: In DGIB we predominantly follow DI Tom Tyler. Characters like Tyler have been written many time before, it is fortunate thought that his character does not come across as too cliche. My favourite characteristic of Tyler is his kindness, along with his bigger picture attitude. I enjoyed my time with Tyler. The supporting cast are strong, sad, annoying and emotional. (SPOILER) >>>> The Edie and Angelo romance was a strong part to this story, it added risk and emotion. The tears started flowing when we get into Jan and Pim's storyline. They start out head strong and persistent to get home, put as their plan unfolds and they come into harms way, I was deeply saddened. The other characters were hit and miss, though overall a decent cast of characters.

Themes: Some big and bold themes here. War, Poverty, Death, Family and Secrets. Additional themes that added some extra depth were Romance, Pain, Risk and Violence.

Likes: Proper police work. Solid historical influences. Good cast of characters. 
MJ capturing the everyday uncertainty that came with World War Two.

Dislikes: Some parts of the story left to assumption. Several annoying and stereotypical characters. Predictable at times. 


Rating: Overall I think people will enjoy this book. It is solid story that won't blow your mind but will entertain and make you consider the past. MJ shows she is comfortable and confident in the story and her writing capabilities. I enjoyed Tom Tyler's character, he has been done before, but with added characteristics, I think he is top quality. DGIB is predictable at times but the ending remained a mystery to me until the very last word.

8/10

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Countenance Divine - Michael Hughes

 Book Details

Book Title: The Countenance Divine

Author: Michael Hughes

Publisher
: John Murray (publishers). To be released on the 11th of August 2016.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 308

Format: Hardback

Genre: Historical fiction


Audience: Those who enjoy intricate stories with several different writing styles

Buy? Read? Avoid?: Read it, see if it suits you, if so then enjoy!! And buy!

Summed up in one word: Bold

Author Bio: Michael Hughes is an author, actor and teacher. He trained in Theatre in Paris and has had acting roles under the name Michael Colgan and he studied/taught Creative Writing in London. The Countenance Divine is his debut novel!

First Impression: It is unfortunate when a reader and a book don't really work well together. I just was not compatible with this book. The parts that I followed and appreciated were impressive, I just could not keep up with all the depth and references that come with several key historical figures. The Countenance Divine is a bold effort, I can imagine that someone well read in the classics, poetry and philosophical texts would find this work more enjoyable than I did. Michael Hughes is a brave author, he put his all into this book and it really shows, there are many different layers of story and writing styles included in this piece, it truly is impressive.

Synopsis:

In 1999 a programmer is trying to fix the Millennium Bug, but can't shake the sense he's been chosen for something.

In 1888 five women are brutally murdered in the East End by a troubled young man in thrall to a mystery master.

In 1777 an apprentice engraver called William Blake has a defining spiritual experience; thirteen years later this vision returns.

In 1666 poet and revolutionary John Milton completes the epic for which he will be remembered centuries later.

But where does the feeling come from that the world is about to end?

Review

Story: For a book that only goes on for around 300 pages, there is a lot to talk about here. Michael Hughes went all out for this story, threading 3 historical figures and one historical event together over a 400 year period. We get a computer programmer who is trying to solve the Two Thousand Year Problem. We get Jack The Ripper and his letters to the various key people investigating his horrific murders. Then there is William Blake and his holy visions, working hard to fulfil his apparent destiny. Finally we spend time with Thomas Allgood who has been set on a path to meet and work with the blind poet John Milton (Paradise Lost), his story is set during the events surrounding The Great Fire Of London. If you are looking for quantity then this is your book! All these characters and events are connected in some way or another and they are all to do with one subject, the end of this world and the start of the next.

Now in terms of quality this book is also top notch... Using historical figures was an excellent choice. The only downside to this is the fact that to truly appreciate what this book is about, you need to understand the people in this book. I followed the plot lines well, I understood what was happening, I just did not fully appreciate what the events meant and the overall effect of the book. There are many people out there that will truly love this piece, its meaning, its style and what it achieves, I just was not able to.

On a final note on the story, I found spending time around the historical events in this book fascinating, being on the ground during The Great Fire Of London and seeing people struggle with the looming possibility of the world as we know it collapsing due to the Millennium Bug. These are the elements that kept me reading, but they are few and far between. 

Characters: The stand out characters in this piece are the historical figures. Spending time with Jack The Ripper, John Milton and William Blake was a real treat. I know that Michael Hughes fictionalised them all to a certain degree, but me being a history lover, I was excited to be reading about these people. Chris (the programmer) was the most effective character in this book as he was completely oblivious and naive to all that was actually going on, this meant everything had to be explained to him and therefore to me, the reader. There are some bizarre characters included in this tale, but that is a surprise for those of you who read this book :). The difference in era, writing style, language and experiences of each individual character makes this book not only diverse but also keeps the reader guessing about the plot until its last pages.

Themes: Lots of strong themes here. Religion, Death, Poetry and Humanity are the main elements to this story with many other themes included to add depth and potency to the story, for example love, violence and trickery.

Likes: I really liked the difference in characters. The spectrum of emotions and experiences really stands out here. From the gore of JTR to the poetry of Milton, the idiocy/panic of Chris to the faithfulness of Blake. The fact that MH really committed to this story line and pulled it off well is the best part to this book! The COVER ART for this book is the second best part of it, it is gorgeous and if I am rating it just on that then 10/10!

Dislikes: I was unable to truly appreciate this book from lack of understanding of certain aspects of the characters, that is not necessarily a flaw in the book, maybe just a flaw in my reading ability but it is a relevant problem. The changes in character, perspective and writing style can be confusing at first, trying to get your head around it can be frustrating, though once you get into a rhythm then you can get comfortable. This is definitely a book you read twice.


Rating: This is a beautiful looking book that will blow plenty of people's minds. It just did not hit the mark with me. There are some very well written characters and some very memorable moments in this piece. With horror, religion and gore carefully weaved through it as well, the author shows he is talented and he potential to be a best seller. The Countenance Divine is one of the most ambitious books I have ever read and you need to check it out for yourselves!

7/10