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Anthony Hinde RSS Feed (Sydney, Australia)
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Flight (The Last Paladin Series Book 1)
Flight (The Last Paladin Series Book 1)
Price: $1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A diamond in the Ruff, Ruff., September 29, 2014
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I enjoyed the story told by Jason Cheek. It had some good world building and several promising characters. The protagonist had an admirable philosophy and his powers, while spread on a little thickly, were explained logically and consistently.

Unfortunately the book is desperately in need of editing. Regular grammatical errors, (E.g. "Using their legs, they managed to shove the body over the gunwale using their legs."), over-use of a handful of adjectives, (everything happens "suddenly" and one monster was always described as "humongous"), and simple misuse of words, (E.g. used "invent" in place of "advent"). And, my personal favourite among young authors, using the word "literally" in place of "figuratively'... "The glowing eyes filled him with a mixture of fear and awe that literally rooted him in place for several seconds." Sorry for the rant.

Normally I would have tossed this novel aside in disgust, due to the frequent jarring errors and consistent level of hyperbole, but the story was good enough to keep me engaged. Keep writing Jason. As you polish your skills, nothing will distract your readers from the adventure.

P.S. We never got to see Ironwolf transform. I expected a mano a mano battle between his battle form and the pit demon.


The Aebeling
The Aebeling
Price: $3.82

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A diamond in the rough, July 9, 2014
This review is from: The Aebeling (Kindle Edition)
This novel had a lot of rough edges, but I was never tempted to stop reading. Essentially it reads like a power fulfillment fantasy. The protagonist, Conn MacLeod, is the perfect alpha male and never falters. He seems to have every skill needed, always arrives in the nick of time and has a seemingly bottomless source of gold. The dialogue is simplistic and overly homogeneous in style and time seems to flow in strange jumps where years pass without segue.

On the plus side, the world depicted is complex enough to be interesting, without distracting from the plot. The characters are diverse and have a tantalizing scent of other Fantasy tropes; Twacuman = Elves? But the thing that I liked most was that Conn seemed to uplift every good person he met. All those around him were better off in the long-run... usually a lot better off. He even plays a long game with enemies who show promise, leaving the reader to hope that these misguided souls will find the light in later books.

There's an obvious comparison to be made between The Aebeling and the Conrad Stargard series; both being stories of modern men transforming medieval cultures. There is a major difference at the core. Conrad focused on technical and economic reform first with cultural reform happening, more often than not, as a side-effect. Conn MacLeod seems to focus on helping and developing people, using technology only when needed to further those goals. And, thankfully, with less engineering descriptions.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this story progresses, and hoping for a little more shadow in contrast to the light. It will be a challenge to create a character development arc for Conn, given that he seems to already be perfect. Regardless, I think there's a lot of promise left in this new world.


Forging Zero (The Legend of ZERO, Book 1)
Forging Zero (The Legend of ZERO, Book 1)
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honor can't be stolen, it can only be surrendered, April 16, 2013
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Being new to Sara King's work, I was amazed at the quality. Forging Zero is at the top of my 2013 book list. It strongly reminded me of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game", largely because both books feature children and don't pull any punches. But where Card's kids were the elite, so smart that they almost seemed like short adults, King's children were pulled off the streets in bulk lots and were portrayed as realistically innocent, selfish and sometimes irrational. And it was largely because they are vulnerable children that I started to feel just as protective of them as did Joe Dobbs, "recruit Zero."

You know you're invested in a story when you anguish over the death of a character. I found myself having to walk away from the book on occasion, as it started to hurt. Admittedly, these separations didn't last long and ended up in a marathon reading session that kept me awake into the wee-hours of the morning.

The author prides herself on character development and I can confirm that this is one of the novel's strengths. One of the common weaknesses in Sci-Fi writing is when an entire species is represented as a single character... writing all members as if they shared a single personality. Sara King avoids this trap and writes each of the more commonly featured species with a broad spectrum of characters, flavored by their own culture.

I only had a small number of gripes, mostly around scientific topics, but that's not too surprising in a character writer. For example, at one point it is suggested that highly evolved species have an unchanging genome, (like crocodiles I suppose). But as any biologist could tell you, there's no such thing as "highly evolved," and an unchanging genome is a major weakness, (meaning the species is no longer adapting to a changing environment). Happily, the writing was so good that it was easy to skip these little speed-bumps to get back to the ripping yarn.

As a final note; by itself this novel justifies the e-Book business model. It looks like Sara King has chosen to publish eBooks only. As I see it, the digital publishing forum allows authors to take more control of their work, including its pricing. When I looked at Forging Zero it had plenty of positive reviews, as did most of her other works, so I took a punt and paid the $3.99 - still less than half of what I'd pay for a paperback after shipping. In retrospect I would have been happy to pay $30 for a hardback version, just to read Forging Zero a month sooner. I feel like I just won the eBook lottery. Naturally I immediately read her other two "Zero" works and was not disappointed. Thanks Sara.


The Transall Saga
The Transall Saga
by Gary Paulsen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.61
81 used & new from $0.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good pace and focus, not believable, November 28, 2011
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This review is from: The Transall Saga (Paperback)
Realizing this novel is aimed at the young adult market the author still seems to make insufficient effort to create a believable situation for young Mark, the story's central protagonist. Like many books aimed at a younger audience, the plot has little foreshadowing and the character arcs are short with little flesh on the bones. Despite this the reader is drawn along effortlessly, enjoying the little narrative nuggets without having to consider the ultimate destination.

Mark is portrayed simply. He seems to stay positive regardless of the situation and if he knows fear, we rarely see it. I suppose my biggest grip is with how simply all his problems get resolved. Need to hunt; make a bow out off your shoe laces and stick. Need a distraction, create an explosive from an ill-remembered recipe, (success on the first try, without testing and nor a container for the powder).

In short, I'd recommend this for a ten year old, but not a thirteen year old. Anyone that realizes that problems are hard to solve, decisions have long term consequences and success depends on planning and preparation - will find this novel frustrating at times. On the other hand, it's an easy read and fun most of the time.


No Title Available

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How could Baen pass this up?, September 29, 2009
I was a little hesitant to order the sequel to "The TwoSpace War," despite absolutely loving the first book. One of the original authors, Leo Fankowski, had died. The prior publisher, Baen, had apparently turned it down. An unfamiliar author was co-writing with Dave Grossman. And it was being self-published through Lulu Press.

I'm very glad that I did order it. The book arrived last week but almost didn't make it into my hands due to an abrupt truncation of the delivery address. I've read it over the last two days with mounting enthusiasm. At first I was just relieved that the book's tone was so similar to the original. I had been concerned that Frankowski, of Conrad fame, was carrying the heavier writing load on the first book.

As the book progressed I was able to catch up with most of the old characters and get back into the military poetry that made the first book so distinctive. To my delight, there were new ideas, new and intriguing characters, as well new enemies to battle. The allusion to Pearl Harbour was pretty direct toward the end but was made fresh by the welcome new direction it took.

My only criticism is that Dave's military philosophy and theory were expounded on in as much detail in this novel as they were in the first. That felt a little redundant but I imagine it will be fine for anyone reading this novel in isolation.

In short, I enjoyed this outing almost as much as its predecessor and recommend it strongly to all those fans who enjoyed The TwoSpace war. Let's give Lt. Melville our support and hope his third adventure may not be long in coming.


Jumper: Griffin's Story
Jumper: Griffin's Story
by Steven Gould
Edition: Hardcover
49 used & new from $0.01

25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kill them young. It's easier... or is it?, September 16, 2007
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I've just finished Gould's reworking of the Jumper series. At first, having read the, "Note about the Novel," I felt a little cheated. Had I just paid for a re-hash of one of my favourite novels? In short, the answer is, 'no'. Despite having a completely new setting, plot and characters, I loved Griffin's Story as much as the first Jumper novel.

I was expecting a story about Davy and Millie's child but, instead, was taken into a world that had no connection with the earlier books and had a slightly different take on the main premise, (teleportation). In the original novel I felt the whole aeroplane high-jacker angle was a little bit of a conceptual stretch, although it admirably served to explore Davy's abilities. Many fans will not be able to let go of the original Jumper universe. After a brief struggle, I did just that and fell deeply into the new story.

This novel doesn't require the "Jumper" to be quite so unique. It also manages to throw frightening challenges Griffin's way, without any improbable coincidences. In fact, Griffin is almost always in defensive mode because his opponents keep him that way. They achieve this due to their impressive resources, competence and experience. By contrast Davy always had plenty of time to regroup, consider his options and then take control. As a nine year old boy, Griffin is nowhere near that comfortable. This is a darker tale and yet the central character, Griffin, is just as warm and likeable as Davy ever was.

The story as a whole, as well as the wide open ending, seem to be setting up for a TV series to follow the film adaptation. The shadowy group which is pitted against Griffin, has barely been described. We still have plenty to learn about their abilities, structure and purpose. And what of the implied existence of other Jumpers? Why are they such a threat. Do any work for the enemy? I can't wait to find out.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 8, 2008 11:23 AM PST


White Tiger (Dark Heavens Trilogy)
White Tiger (Dark Heavens Trilogy)
by Kylie Chan
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from $0.94

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shakes the pillars of Heaven, December 13, 2006
Kylie Chan admits that she has tried to write a story that will appeal to everyone. This is her first try, so it is something of a surprise to admit how close she has come to achieving that goal.

What may, on the surface, appear to be a formulaic plot is enriched by Chan's first hand experience in Asia. This author is an Australian, who has lived in Hong Kong and is thus able to make subtle observations about the culture there and how westerners interact with it.

The protagonist, Emma Donahoe, is likeable and believable. She is our doorway into the world of Chinese gods and daemons. Her suspicions, and later discoveries, about her attractive employer, John Chen, come slowly at first. We suspect he is more than human from the first but even as the revelations begin to flood the later part of the book, we are still left with plenty of mystery. And that's good considering this is the first book in the "Dark Heavens" series.

My only complaints are minor. In the first half of the story, I found the bad guys to be one dimensional. That is to say, none of them appear to have any redeeming characteristics or challenging strategies. Things change with the introduction of a cowardly but cunning opponent and, at the last gasp, an even more powerful daemon appears who may not be totally evil, (at least he's subtle).

My second irritation, also minor, is that Emma's companions and allies seem uniformly accepting and supportive of her, particularly toward the end of the novel. They all think she's wonderful? Even JC had his Judas. As I said... a minor gripe.

Despite a few forgivable flaws, I was disappointed when the last page was turned and am waiting with keen anticipation for, what will probably be, another three books in the series, (White Tiger is one of the four guardians/winds. The others are Celestial Dragon, Heavenly Phoenix and Serpent-Turtle).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2011 7:48 PM PDT


iAudio I5-1024BL 1 GB MP3 Player with FM and Voice Recorder Black
iAudio I5-1024BL 1 GB MP3 Player with FM and Voice Recorder Black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, powerful and portable, July 2, 2005
The main reason I chose this MP3 player is because it takes AAA batteries. I'm sick of rechargeable batteries dying after a year or two. It performs really well for what I want, which is a light, portable player that can hold a couple of hundred of my favourite tunes.

Some folk complain that it doesn't have a wrist or armband option, which is true. Its plastic case does have a belt loop though so you could run with it on your belt.

One caution however. I have top-of-the-line ear-buds and this makes the bass boost on the player very noticeable. Clearly, the balance is optimised for cheaper ear phones, like the one that comes with the player. So don't lash out on an other earphone till you try them with this player.


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Johnny Depp
Price: $9.01
917 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long live the Swash-Buckler, February 16, 2004
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I actually went on the Pirate’s of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land as a kid. And apart from a few scenes, (especially on the extended DVD version), there’s only a vague derivation between the ride and the film. To be honest, the film is much better.
Johnny Depp steals the show as the down-on-his-luck pirate captain, Jack Sparrow. A lot has been made of his bizarre take on this character, supposedly based on Keith Richard’s drug induced eccentricities. What he has created is a complex and intelligent soul, who also manages to lighten every scene in which he appears. Jack assumes a mentoring role for the young Will Turner, (Orlando Bloom), after they discover a shared desire to track down the legendary pirate ship, the Black Pearl.
Orlando performs well, successfully capitalising on his newly earned reputation from The Lord of the Rings. Will Turner may not get many of the good lines but he make a good fist of what he gets. As does Keira Knightley in her role as the Governor’s daughter and Will’s love interest. Her role is fairly predictable; an atavistic modern woman plopped into the eighteen hundreds.
The production values for this film are truly excellent and have been transferred flawlessly to DVD. The film’s special effects are very necessary to the plot, showing cursed pirates transforming into cadavers once in moonlight. These effects are both impressive and seamless. The DVD special features goes to quite some length to explain the creating of these images; maybe not ground breaking but interesting none the less.
All in all the film makes for a solid base which should support a long-running series of sequels/prequels. So long as they manage to keep the film’s sense of humour I feel it’s a formula that should continue to prove entertaining. “The Curse of the Black Pearl” is a wonderful stand-alone experience but I for one will enjoy seeing Jack, Will and Miss Swan taking on their next challenge.


To Kill a Mockingbird (Collector's Edition)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Gregory Peck
91 used & new from $1.59

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small town lesson for the whole world, November 17, 2003
It's easy to think "To Kill a Mockingbird" is older than it is. Released in 1962, the same year James Bond was immortalised in "Dr. No," director Robert Mulligan chose to film in black & white, despite Hollywood's rush to adopt the new Kodachrome II color film. Since the story is set in the 1930's, the classic look of the film adds weight to its historic reality.
Adapted from Harper Lee's only book, which won a Pulitzer prize, the script itself won an academy award. Added to this is a stellar cast who manage to hold their own against the amazing performance given by, Gregory Peck, an actor at the peak of his abilities. For those who also enjoy Robert Duvall's huge body of work, it may be interesting to note this film as his first, in a non-speaking but pivotal role as Boo Radley.
It would be easy to dismiss an old film that deals with the race issue in Alabama. Some might think this topic has been done to death and, to an extent, they are right. But To Kill a Mockingbird is not solely about racism. It deals with honesty, justice, fear, childhood, quick judgements and parenthood. Even the race card is dealt with fairly, without blowing things out to sensational proportions. It shows that minor, selfish decisions, which rely on the racism in others, can breed larger evils.
An adult Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch narrates much of the story but it is her father, Atticus, around which the narrative hinges. Played with subtle dignity by Peck, Atticus is a small town Lawyer who agrees to defend Tom Robinson against charges of Rape. He agrees, in the full knowledge that many of his neighbours will hate him for defending a black man and still others will expect him to put up only a token effort. Instead, Atticus does what we know he will... his best.
There is an interesting contrast between what we see of Atticus and how his two children describe him. Apparently he's too old to do anything, like play ball, and they are a bit embarrassed by his quite ways. The trial and its associated moral battles put their father squarely in the spotlight and not in a good way. He and they are attacked and ridiculed but in the end Scout and Jem see a different picture of their old Pop. A man who is strong enough to stand against hatred, and brave enough to highlight the weaknesses of flawed white girl against the strengths of an honest black man.
The name of the film is taken from one of Attcus's rules relating to using a rifle. Jem relates his father's instruction "to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird...Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat people's gardens, don't nest in the corncribs, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us."
There are several Mockingbirds in this movie; the misunderstood Boo Radley, Tom Robins and even Atticus. For me though, the film is defined when Reverend Sykes asks Scout to stand up in the court gallery, after a failed defence, saying "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin."
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2011 6:32 AM PDT


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