The Lover’s Portrait, Jennifer S Alderson

The Lover’s Portrait, Jennifer S Alderson

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson Book 2)

Zelda Richardson is done with web design. She’s tired of living in the USA. She’s decided to turn her life around, and take a Masters in Museum Studies in Amsterdam. However, with stiff competition to make it to the final cut of students accepted, Zelda takes on a volunteer internship with the Amsterdam Museum, hoping for something that will bolster her résumé. She doesn’t expect that a short internship supporting the Stolen Objects museum display will end with her trying to prove provenance on a disputed painting from World War II, and no one expects where that investigation will lead—or the calibre of the opposition.

The Lover’s Portrait is an intricate and well-written story, prefaced with the welcoming, culture-loving face of modern Amsterdam, and underlaid by the city’s wartime past—a past that rises like the tide to infiltrate Zelda’s research assignment. Jennifer S. Alderson is particularly adept at sketching in the complex connections between her characters’ pasts and their present-day actions and motivations, pulling the whole together in a fast-paced and credible plot that is supported by the detail of Zelda’s experiences as she tries to piece together the scattered shards of history. I can absolutely recommend this book to any fans of mystery or art looking for their next read – it will not disappoint.

A Clone Sacrifice, Paul Chaplin

A Clone Sacrifice, Paul Chaplin

A Clone Sacrifice

The second novel in the series, A Clone Sacrifice opens in the Unchartered Zone, with the three conjoined spaceships facing formidable defences arrayed against them. Torb is certain that his mental communion with a dead Drakna will provide him with the answers he needs, but for the time being, the answers aren’t coming and the power readings ahead of them are only increasing. However, if Torb survives this encounter, he will still have to deal with the emotional instability of his girlfriend, isolated in a different part of the ship—and it’s hard to tell which outcome is the more dangerous.

I have to be honest and admit that despite having read this novel and the first in the series, I remain confused as to what the ultimate aim of the story is. Much of Torb’s storyline appears to be a string of random incidents, and the unifying element of the plot wasn’t clear to me. In the meantime, much of the focus is on the male/female relationships in the crew. I found the character development a little lacking across both books, given how much time is devoted to the character interaction. There are two women aboard; each chooses a male partner early on in their acquaintanceship and promptly gets pregnant. By and large, these women have three basic responses to any situation—they scream, they weep, or they roll their eyes. The men spend their time leading, doing the heavy lifting, and doing the planning—this latter in fear of what their womenfolk will think of their plans. I felt that some more development in this area could have done a great deal for this story.

While the series remains a pleasant, light read, I’m sorry to say that the substance wasn’t quite there to draw me in and allow me to lose myself in the story.

Firestorm, Aaron Hodges

Firestorm, Aaron Hodges

Firestorm (The Sword of Light Trilogy)

Firestorm opens in the aftermath of a battle, with a flight of dragons about to descend to claim vengeance for their fallen kin. If Eric and his small band of adventurers manage to convince the dragons not to kill them, they still need to find a way to get themselves, and the single heir to the magic of the Trolan royal line, to Kalgan and the Sword. Without the Sword in the hands of a Trolan royal, nothing stands between the demons and control of the Three Nations – and the demons are well aware of it.

Peopled with gods, demons, magicians, and dragons, Firestorm provided a rich backdrop for the epic fantasy woven across its pages as the heroes struggle to succeed in the face of overwhelming odds. I did feel that the characters would have come across more strongly without quite so much detailed description of their feelings and reactions, and the continued use of the possessive apostrophe ‘s’ for the plural scraped its nails down the blackboard of my soul, but overall the story was well laid-out. Author Aaron Hodges has created a convincingly-built world, and laid an intriguing trail of hints through this second novel, which, despite being the second in a trilogy, functions perfectly well as a stand-alone novel.

Reviewed for Quality Bookworks.

Mortal Showdown, Nik Krasno

Mortal Showdown, Nik Krasno

Mortal Showdown

Mortal Showdown follows the continuing story of Ukrainian politician and businessman Mikhail Leonidovich Vorotavich, newly awakened from a bullet-induced coma and rapidly becoming aware that a Russian-backed sniper was only the start of his problems. With his brother in Russian hands as a hostage for his cooperation, his lines of information inextricably tangled by a month of his being out of touch, and his security force stretched thin, Mikhail is facing a series of unpleasant choices, any or all of which could mean his head. Entangled in intrigue stretching from the Kremlin to the Caymans to Kazakhstan, Mikhail’s choice of priorities is narrowing down to one: survival, personal and financial.

Nik Krasno’s gritty, action-packed and intrigue-fuelled story-telling makes for a great read, set with characters you’ll love to hate. Mortal Showdown offers confrontations where you can smell the stale vodka and cigarette smoke, view the international subterfuge, and experience the touch of the sticky fingers of the international financial markets, punctuated by drugs, women, and private jets. The contrast between the public, optimistic hopes of the Ukrainian people and the corruption-laced negotiations happening behind the scenes leaves a pithy comment on the realities of modern society, and whether Kazakh flame-eaters, Thai orgies, or black ops in darkened alleys is your thing, there’s a little something for every thriller reader in this novel.

What do we review and how do we rate? Read all about it!

What do we review and how do we rate? Read all about it!

By Rite of Word – what do we review and how do we rate?

A little while ago, we passed our 6-month anniversary here at By Rite of Word. I didn’t actually noticed until I counted fingers: I was probably reading. Or writing. Or wondering if there was any way I could do both of those and enter NaNoWriMo 2016 and keep my day job. Since no-one else nudged me about it, hopefully they were all reading, too.

Anyway, it seemed like a good time to go and have a look over the last few months, see what we’ve been reviewing the most, exactly how evil we are as per our ratings (pretty darn evil), and share the news with the world.

Turns out, in a little more than 6 months, we’ve posted reviews for 73 books. That averages out at a little over 12 books per month (way to go, bookworms!)

That breaks down to give or take 37% sci-fi, 32% fantasy, 25% thriller, and 6% weird and wild.

And… last but not least, just how evil, mean, and nasty are we? Well, not very. Our most common rating is a 4-star (36% of our reviews).

At the other end of the scale, I’m grateful to say we’ve scored exactly one Did Not Finish – we try really hard not to DNF something unless our hind brains are trying to take control of our hands and gouge our eyes out with a spoon.

However, if you want that 5 star rating, and all that comes with it (probably fan mail, possible drooling on your website pages as the reviewer haunts you for the next book)…well, there’ve only been 18 of those in recorded history.

So, basically – keep up the awesome work, and keep sending it to us!

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