Book Review: “The Dreamshift Chronicles: Broken Dreams” by D.L. Silverman
Reading some books is like ripping the band-aid to find a healed wound. It’s a little painful in parts, but underneath it all is something good. That’s a pretty good description for Broken Dreams by D.L. Silverman. This book is the first in The Dream Shift Chronicles, and is the author’s debut novel.
Wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit, Mike Ward’s only escape from prison life is through his dreams. His night visions of a garden paradise were so vivid they felt real – but he could not imagine they would enable him to step into a reality far beyond his imaginings and on a quest to save Ganae-Den, a realm of eternal peace and beauty.
Mike discovers he is a Dreamshifter, a being who can travel to other dimensions via his dreams. As he learns to shift to other realms, he determines to never return to his earthly prison. But the Shield Tree that protects Ganae-Den is dying; LifeStealer, a Dreamshifter hungry for conquest, has stolen the magical stones from the Shield Tree. For this, the Way to other realms is closing, and the garden paradise is now open to attack.
Debut novelist D. L. Silverman draws the reader into a world where dreams become reality, and the nightmare of reality invades your dreams. Broken Dreams is the first book of The Dreamshift Chronicles Trilogy.
I’ll go over the good points first. The storyline was actually really interesting! The basic premise: Mike Ward, a prisoner wrongly convicted, escapes by shifting realms while he is dreaming only to find that the “hub” realm, where all of the realms collide, is in danger of self-destructing. He, along with several companions, undertakes a quest to find a solution. It was a well-thought out plot, and as I read more I was drawn into it. By the end I actually wanted to know what was going to happen. The different realms that were visited were unique, and the creatures there were pretty cool too!
The problem was the awkward and (sometimes) cliche dialogue. It was a bit underwhelming, and got in the way of the character development. Also, the story didn’t really begin for about one hundred pages. Since this book was 389 pages long, that was kind of a bummer. These things, and a couple of editing problems, were a constant distraction from the actual story.
That said, Broken Dreams is a quick read. It might make a good filler novel if you are in between books. As I said, the story is interesting, you just have to find it. There’s room for improvement (when isn’t there, honestly?), but I think Silverman shows promise.
Interested in checking it out for yourself? Pick it up on Amazon for only $4.99!
Book Review: “The Tale of Rawhead and Bloody Bones” by Jack Wolf
When I first heard about this book I was ecstatic. The premise was one that instantly gripped me and I was quick to line up for a chance to review this with TLC Booktours. However, while the story proved terrible intriguing, the overall experience made for a rather difficult read. This book is not all bad or good, and I advise readers to read several reviews before coming to a conclusion on whether this story is one they’d like to invest their time into.
Meet Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man of means. The year is 1751, and Mr Hart leaves his Berkshire home for London to lodge with his father’s friend, the novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding, and study medicine at the great hospital of University College. It will be a momentous year for the cultured and intellectually ambitious Mr Hart, who, as well as being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, a psychopath. His obsession is the nature of pain, and preventing it during medical procedures. His equally strong and far more unpredictable obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. Desperate to understand his own deviant desires before they derail his career and drive him mad, Tristan sifts through his childhood memories, memories that are informed by dark superstitions about faeries and goblins and shape-shifting gypsies. Will the new tools of the age-reason and science and scepticism-be enough to save him?
The strongest part of this book is definitely the story premise throughout and the atmosphere in the second half of the novel. We’re given a vantage point to peer into the mind of a psychopath and it proves gruesomely entertaining. However, it seemed to take a very long time to get to that point of enjoyment. At times the overuse of description would often pull me out of the story. I’m certainly a fan of detail, but not at the expense of fluidity. The interesting concept was severely hampered by the herky-jerky prose.
I know several reviewers have already touched on the time-appropriate capitalization used in the story, but I have to mention it as well. While it’s neat to make it historically accurate to the setting, I feel it is done at the expense of readers enjoyment. Will some people love it and find it quaint? Maybe, but it will turn off plenty of readers (myself included) as well. Also, the paragraph length sentences often forced me to have to reread portions in their entirety to follow their meaning. They where grammatically correct, but it made for difficult reading. Colons and Semi-colons often seemed to go three, even four layers deep.
If you’re willing to muddle your way through some difficultly written language, there is a story here that I did enjoy reading about. Though, the overall reading experience was not one that I enjoyed. To me, this book is not one I’d read again or recommend to anyone unless they have a strong penchant for the setting and an even stronger stomach. If written more smoothly, this could have been a good bit of fun for fans of gruesome grounded fiction.
I received this book through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Book Review: “Loki’s Wolves” by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
Continuing with my abnormal reading habits, I just finished reading Loki’s Wolves. My main reason for reading this was because I am a fan of Kelley Armstrong. I went into this read fully aware that the book was meant for middle grades, and my review assessment takes that into consideration. However, I can say that the story was intriguing enough to make it an enjoyable read for me as well, it’s just clearly geared toward a younger audience.
“The runes have spoken. We have our champion…Matthew Thorsen.”
Matt hears the words, but he can’t believe them. He’s Thor’s representative? Destined to fight trolls, monstrous wolves and giant serpents…or the world ends? He’s only thirteen.
While Matt knew he was a modern-day descendent of Thor, he’s always lived a normal kid’s life. In fact, most people in the small town of Blackwell, South Dakota, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. No big deal.But now Ragnarok is coming, and it’s up to the champions to fight in the place of the long-dead gods. Matt, Laurie, and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team, find Thor’s hammer and shield, and prevent the end of the world.
The tone of the entire novel gave me a very Percy Jackson-esque feel, and that is definitely meant as a compliment. However, unlike that series, The Blackwell Pages (this being book one in this new series) decided to put the focus on Norse mythology. As a fan of the mythos, I found this to be very interesting to read about. The story revolves around the descendants of the long dead gods having to team up to prevent the end of the world. The catch though is that all of the chosen descendants are in their early teens and still discovering the powers and identities.
There’s a really cute coming of age story in here. We get to see these kids mature and face their differences to unite behind an overall goal. Along the way there are countless trolls, and baddies that they must overcome. I liked how they learn to work together to overcome these challenges, sometimes electing to use wit over brawn. It’s an overall positive message that I would be happy to see my little sister reading.
The language used is very simple and easy to understand, which is necessary for a novel geared for the middle grade demographic. However, there are some words that will stretch a young persons vocabulary occasionally. I found this to be a very good thing as it encourages young people to expand their vocabulary without taking them out of the story due to the infrequency. The story is also wonderfully paced to hold the attention of young readers and is a quite enjoyable little quick read.
Overall, I would recommend this book to young readers and fans of YA fantasy. The only thing that prevents this book from being more accessible to YA readers is the often romantic implications that YA novels possess. If you’re looking for a clean and fun fantasy book for a 8-15 year old, this definitely a very good option from two very talented writers.
Loki’s Wolves came out today, so feel free to pick it up now!
A Daily Dose of R&R is happy to have Miles Cameron, the author of “The Red Knight,” with us today!
We threw a ton of questions at this poor man and he was kind enough to answer them for us. Truthfully, I’ve no idea how he puts up with it, but I am glad he does! If you are unfamiliar with his book, I suggest you remedy that before reading this review as some content can be considered *SPOILERS.* There you have it, ye be warned!
For convenience sake, the following has been abbreviated.
Miles – A Molly and Roger – Q
Q: What is your background, or the beginnings of your writing career? The Acknowledgement page in The Red Knight mentioned thirty or so years of study.
A: I started writing in High School. My dad is a writer. I wrote a great deal in the military, too. I’d probably write even if no one paid me.
Q: What sparked the idea for The Red Knight?
A: Gillian Redfearn at Gollancz suggested a novel with a Wild vs Man theme. Then we talked about Arthurian stuff…
Q: Did you ever have trouble balancing the many storylines in the book? Or did you ever have trouble pulling them together?
A: Yes and no. The many reviews complaining that the multiple POVs are hard to read suggest I did a highly imperfect job—at least for some readers. That said—I used to write modern espionage thrillers, so this is pretty straightforward…
Q: Your character development is amazing. Do you ever base characters off of real people?
A: Yes. All my characters are based off real people. How could I base them off anything else? I sit in coffee shops listening to people talk, and I tend to use what I observe about character… but that said, most of what you see among the core characters was observed over years from people I know pretty well. And from watching people in positions of real power.
Q: Have you read any good books worth noting lately?
A: C. J. Cheryh’s ‘Protector’. That Foreigner Universe series never gets old for me. ‘A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail’ by Ken Swope—about the First East Asian War (1592-1598) between China and Korea on one side and Japan on the other.
Q: You mentioned in the Acknowledgements of The Red Knight that you like to hike…in full armour. How does that work? It sounds terribly uncomfortable.
A: Armour really needs to fit. Bad armour is horrible. I may have—exaggerated—by saying I like to hike in full armour, but I have done it, and it is interesting. For one thing, all those annoying branches and raspberry patches—they can’t touch you. You don’t have to go around an alder thicket…. Very tiring, though. And bad vision.
Q: A lot of interviews have touched on your love of history and reenacting. What other passions do you have that people might not already know?
A: I love to sew. There, it’s out. I love to make stuff, and fine sewing—even embroidery (which I’m just playing with) really makes me happy. I love martial arts. I love dissecting martial arts. I LOVE fly-fishing. I can stand on a wild stream for hours. It’s better to catch something, and (sorry, modern fishermen) it is even better to kill the fish, make a small fire, and eat it. Book 2 (The Fell Sword) actually opens with a fishing scene.
Q: How long did The Red Knight take to write?
A: Er, that’s classified. But I write 3-4 books a year.
Q: Which cover do you like best, the UK or the US one? Why is that?
A: I like the British one better. I know nothing about marketing, but there are things on the US cover that shout ‘This author knows nothing about arms and armour’.
Q: What characters voice spoke the clearest to you when writing this?
A: Er—Edmund the apprentice? Peter the Cook? And the Abbess. That’s my homage to my grandmother… Ser John Crayford? He’s me. It’s going to hurt when I kill him. J
Q: Which characters tended to try and takeover while writing?
A: Jean de Vrailly. He kept running off with scenes. Everyone likes ‘larger than life.’ Ditto Desiderata. I actually wrote her to be a bit banal, and she grew on me and now (Book 2-5) she has a whole new plot line. To hell with the trite Arthurian crap…
Q: You mentioned that you disliked reading fantasy books with multiple POV’s, so why did you elect to write a story utilizing so very many of them?
A: Money. It is what was requested. In my other life I write strict single POV, often first person. That said, though—this is my fantasy world that I’ve been working on since I was nine. I truly enjoy showing it off. It is much, much more vast than book 1 shows—book two will go off a bit into other places. But there’s undead elephants in my Africa, and my ‘Mongols’ are pretty fun, too. And the Faery Knight… anyway, there’s more to come. And multiple POV’s allow me to show more off…
Q: I found Gawin to be a very interesting and underexposed character. Will he play a larger role in book 2?
A: I love Gawin, and he will be a larger—much larger—presence in book 3. In book 2 he’s still a fairly minor character.
Q: Was there anything that you would liked to have kept in The Red Knight that didn’t make the final cut?
A: No. I suspect Gillian could—perhaps even should—have cut more. As it is, almost nothing was cut.
Q: Without saying who, was it difficult for you to kill characters off after investing so much time in them?
A: Not at all! I loved Old Bob, for example—especially as he’s based on one of my closest friends… But people who live by violence die by it. That’s’ the way. I have, in another genre, killed off the main character. In a way, without killing beloved characters, you cannot get ‘buy-in’ from the reader. As I said above, when Ser John Crayford gets it—that’ll hurt. He’s me! And he will die.
Q: If you had a time machine for a day, what time would you visit and what would you do? Any concerns about a time paradox?
A: Er—well, if I was concerned about paradox, I wouldn’t go… Or I would. And somewhere, I’ve already decided.
A: Anyway, I’d like to hear Socrates. And I’d like to visit a Renaissance court and see the dancing. And I’d like to watch Fiore di Le Beri fight in the lists—and perhaps Geoffrey de Charny. And I’d like to catch some pre-modern Kabuki. I’d like to peak at a British Army camp of circa 1777. In fact, I could keep the time machine quite busy just matching fabrics.
A huge thank you to Miles for stopping by! The Traitor Son Cycle is a can’t-miss for any and all fantasy readers and I encourage you all to take a look at our review of The Red Knight and keep up to date with the author over on his website!
Roger and Molly
Book Review: “The Rithmatist” by Brandon Sanderson
If you’d have told me 368 pages ago that I would read a story about people in circles fighting with chalk and actually like it, I’d have called you crazy! That’s exactly what has happened though… I’ve never been a fan of books in the YA genre. That’s not to say there aren’t books I’ve enjoyed in the genre, it just means that I often go into these reads predispositioned to dislike them. Luckily though, “The Rithmatist” is one of the rare few books, like “Ender’s Game” and “Harry Potter”, that transcends my preexisting bias and thoroughly impressed me. Brandon Sanderson is a master storyteller, I was foolish to expect anything less than an amazing read.
The magical system implemented in this novel is unlike any I had ever read before. The Rithmatist’s magical system is controlled through chalk symbols, circles, lines and doodles; each chalk marking indicates a certain magical property. These symbols and markings could easily have been dry and confusing to read about if not for the wonderfully detailed explanation and diagram sketches provided throughout the book. Everything was so vividly explained that I fully understood what was happening and why. It was nice to know that the magic system operated on certain properties, and the system was grounded by a sense of calculation.
Going into this read, I knew there were steampunk and fantasy elements, but I was surprised at how much mystery was involved with the story. I’ve never been a fan of mystery, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the guessing game Joel plays to solve the case of his Rithmatist school mate’s abductions. Throw in a war in Nebrask, an island filled with killer chalkling creatures, and the fact that no one’s willing to talk about what’s really going on there, and things are bound to get interesting.
I could tell this book was designed for younger readers, but that didn’t really impede my ability to enjoy the storytelling. Everything about the plot was satisfying for an adult reading; it was just seen through the eyes of a younger person. Luckily though, Joel, the protagonist, is a competent character that I didn’t mind following. If this story had been focused more heavily on his female friend, Melody, I might be singing a different tune right about now. She was an obnoxious little busy body with a positively tragic penchant for trouble. Luckily though, she did get better towards the end, which I was grateful for.
Overall, I couldn’t recommend this book more. It’s a very quick read, wasting no time getting the plot moving. And, most important to me, it tells a very complete story, while also clearly giving room for a larger story in the sequel. It looks like Brandon Sanderson has yet again hooked me with an epic series. Now please excuse me while I draw up a Easton Defense circle to fight some wild chalklings.
If you’d like to read this book, it’ll be available everywhere May 14th, you can pre-order now.
This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Book Review: “The Red Knight” by Miles Cameron
There is nothing quite like picking up a book, seeing that it’s 648 pages long, and knowing as soon as you read the first few sentences that you’re going to love every single second of it. The Red Knight, by Miles Cameron, is one of those books.
At first I was a little confused. I could see bits and pieces of magic scattered through the first hundred pages or so, but it wasn’t blatantly obvious. It was more like a spice than the main ingredient; magic wasn’t what the reader was meant to focus on, and I found that fact very appealing as I progressed through the book. As a fantasy fan, I often have to stop myself from rolling my eyes as I read books where the author must “introduce” magic to their story, however necessary that may be. Here, magic is more of a given. Cameron has blended it perfectly with an Ivanhoe-esque background of kingdoms, chivalry, and piety to create a well-established world that you sort of just fall into. Of course, magic becomes more prevalent later on, but it still remains an augmentation of the actual story.
The characters are also amazing. I was surprised at the sheer number of characters, but more on that in a moment. Somehow Cameron manages to make all of them, especially the Red Knight, real. It helps that they aren’t just displayed like so many paintings in a gallery. Sufficient time is taken to fill each one out gradually. The characters start out as good acquaintances. They grow to become people I can admire. The best part? All of them are human. I don’t mean physically. There are plenty of creatures in this book. However, Cameron somehow gives each and every one of them motivation, reason, and purpose. He makes them come alive. He does it in a way that shows their imperfections as well as their good points. Not one single character is perfect, but each is admirable. Well, most anyway. Some you aren’t meant to admire, but you still understand them.
Now, about the actual story. No spoilers, I promise! I just can’t say enough about how much effort went into the plot. I’m the first to admit that after five or six points of view come into a story, I get frustrated. I have trouble keeping track of the characters and the places, and generally just get exasperated. So I was admittedly a little wary when the point-of-views started multiplying. Even after finishing the book I couldn’t tell you how many actually appeared, but it was over twenty. My shock came when they kept coming and I knew exactly what was going on. They started out a little widespread, but just kept twisting together like threads until, by the end of the book, there was a single rope. Everything connected. It was amazing. The tapestry of words Cameron uses to weave his tale is impressive and shows a vast knowledge of the historical facts that, as he mentions in the acknowledgements, were used to construct his world.
The Red Knight isn’t a mystery. That said, it isn’t boringly predictable either. As the story progressed I was able to connect the dots and make little discoveries about past events or characters. This didn’t detract one bit from my enjoyment, however. It actually added fuel to the fire! I had to read more. I had to find out if I was right, to see what was going to happen next. I might have actually yelled at the book in my hands a few times…ahem. In fact, I could probably read it over and over again and find something I had overlooked in my excitement each time.
I really can’t recommend The Red Knight enough. It was, by far, one of the best fantasy books I have read in a very long time. Since the cover informs me that it is book one of The Traitor Son Cycle, I believe I can safely say that I am looking forward to more from Miles Cameron.
Check this book out yourself here!
Book Review: “Promise of Blood” by Brian McClellan
This was my most anticipated read for the year by a debut author, so I went in with very high expectations for it. I am pleased to say that it did not disappoint. This book is a bloodbath of adventure from start to finish and managed to easily keep my nose buried in it for the 500+ pages. I’d definitely categorize this book as a marathon read, as you’ll not want to put it down until you’re done.
Like every reviewer has stated, the magic system in Promise of Blood is brilliant! We’re given three distinctly different types of magic, and possibly a fourth (which I wont go into detail about). The first are the Privileged, which will be very familiar for any person regularly reads fantasy. They are the standard wizard arch-type, fireballs, lightning and what not. The second are the Marked; they control fire powder and draw strength from it. Basically, think about the movie “Wanted” where they guide bullets, only with a LSD-like power trance as well. Then, lastly, there are the Knacked. These where by far my favorite as they most closely resembled normal people. Basically, a Knack is just a person who is gifted with a specifically strong skill, which could be anything from reading a person or a photographic memory.
While I greatly enjoyed the way these three magical entities interacted and combated each other, I couldn’t help but feel like nearly every major player had some sort of magic. If you didn’t have a Knack or some sort of magical gift, you were little more than cannon fodder. In future books, I’d like to see a little larger role for an entirely normal person. The only one that comes to mind for me is SouSmith, an aging boxer-turned bodyguard who accompanies one of our leads, Adamat. I found him to be rather intriguing due to the odds being so heavily stacked against anyone not possessing a magical gift of some kind.
Not it’s time to talk about one of my favorite things about this book, the enemy. I loved how the book was written to not let the reader know all of the characters motivations right off the bat. People who may appear evil at first could then be revealed later as justified for their actions, and vice versa. This was a very nice touch, and it made me enjoy the process of peeling away at the layers of a character. Overall, the reading experience was made more intimate because of it.
That leads me to my last point, the characters were wonderfully fleshed out. Adamat, Tamas and Taniel, the three man characters are extremely well developed and distinctly different from each other. Very rarely do I read a book where I enjoy all of the POV’s equally, but Brian McClellan has managed to accomplish just that. The supporting characters are also handled quite nicely. I felt as though I was given enough to care for them, but enough was omitted to leave an air of mystery to be explored in the future installments.
Overall, I’d say this deserves to be a must-read on any fantasy readers list. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a fantasy world better realized than that of the one Brian McClellan has crafted.
If you’re interested in reading this (which you definitely should be!), the book is available worldwide here.