Dragon (The Emerald of Light), by Dan Watt
Rating: 2 stars
I picked up this book at Kitchener Comic Con because I talked to Watt and liked the sounds of a “Monty Python Medieval Spoof” type of story. My imagination automatically went to The Holy Grail, which is a movie I’ve loved since I was a kid.
This is not that.
It didn’t even really remind me of Monty Python much at all. There were a few “silly” moments, but they were done in such a way that I didn’t even crack a smile when I read them, never mind laugh. I found the pacing far too fast, to the point that time and distance had no meaning. Add to that errors in punctuation and word use, and I found myself not enjoying the story. Characters would get a scene at one point, and then later their name pops up again, and I couldn’t recall where I’d seen them. By the end I had little idea of what was even going on, and certainly wasn’t invested in any of the characters. And this wasn’t a long book… didn’t take me long to get through. Part of it might have been that the main character, Burnwood, was utterly terrible with names and didn’t care about anyone he met. But he’d change his mind at random about something that moments before he’d been passionate about, and it just left me with a feeling of, “Why did this scene exist?”
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling
It’s been about 3 years since I last read through the HP series, and now my son’s old enough that he asked to read them, and has been enjoying them immensely. This book doesn’t disappoint. As this was my third time through the book (the first time was so long ago it doesn’t count), I picked up on a lot of bread crumbs that Rowling put in place. It all weaves together quite well into an engaging story that both of my kids loved. After we were done my son walked up to me and squeaked, “Harry Potter has offered Dobby clothes!” So cute.
I know there are people who complain about Harry Potter books, but if they can capture the imagination of five year olds and get them interested in reading chapter books, I think they’re amazing.
Gifts for the one who comes after, by Helen Marshall
Rating: 5 stars
Marshall has a way with words that makes the macabre and creepy beautiful. While it was a little harder to get into a couple of the later short stories in the collection that were 2nd person, and there was a story that I’m certain had a deeper meaning (I’m terrible at finding those), each and every story was written with graceful prose. Once I started reading, it pulled me along, demanding that I continue from story to story to see what happened next.
There were a couple stories that were difficult for me to read with themes of miscarriage.
I think my favourite story was the one that told you right from the start how the story would end, but encouraged you to read through, because reading the end of the story first wouldn’t make any sense. I followed Marshall’s instructions, and I understood exactly what she meant. And even with her telling the reader how it would end, I still found it surprising.
The variety of voices and locations was refreshing, and it was amazing how she could get me to want to know more about all the varied characters in the stories.
Well done, and highly recommended.
Have you read one of my stories, but didn’t leave a review?
If you said “yes” to all of those, have I got a deal for you! In only one month, I’ll be drawing the winner for a mug! You don’t have to buy anything, just review the story you’ve already read on Amazon.com, and you’ll be entered to win.
If you have reviewed everything of mine that you’ve read, I offer the low-cost alternative of picking up a short story and leaving a review. You can peruse my stories to pick the one you think looks the most interesting over on Amazon.
The contest is open to people worldwide! Amazon has a policy of removing reviews from family members, so as long as you’re not family, you qualify for the draw on April 11th!
Why am I doing this? Reviews signal to others the quality of the stories, so if they see a bunch of reviews, and the story is well rated, people are more likely to give a book a try from an unknown author. So if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read and haven’t left a review, please do!
The Tale of Halfdanur the Black, by Colin Brodd
Genre: Viking fantasy
Rating: 2 stars
I didn’t really know what I was getting into with this one before hand. I mean, I knew it was about vikings, so I expected some adventure and violence.
What I read did have violence, but it was told in such a manner that it read very much like a history book (and this is not a historical account of real vikings, in case you were wondering). The tales are all told in such a way that you might think you’re sitting with a friend, having a drink, and he’s reading to you about the events. Were the events interesting? In some cases yes, in other cases no.
As a father of young children, I took exception to the youth that comes along later in the story. At 5 years old, he speaks as well as any adult (maybe better), and grasps concepts that I doubt any real five year old would be able to wrap their heads around. Sure, he’s a prophetic viking who is destined for great things, but it just rang false … sort of like the tales of Buddha being born and able to walk, with lotus blossoms growing in his footsteps, and then speaking. It’s pretty ridiculous, and no one would take that at face value (would they?). But again, as this reads like an historical account, his advanced language and cunning rubbed me wrong.
And this is a prequel story to a later work, which means the ending sort of stops, assuming you’ll continue to read on about the prophetic viking. Given that this read like a textbook, and I prefer something less dry and more exciting, I won’t find out how Haraladur’s (or whatever his name is – I glossed over all the viking names, like I expect people gloss over my demon names :P) story progresses.
The Minus Faction – Episode Four: Blackout, by Rick Wayne
Genre: Science fantasy superhero action adventure awwwweeeesome
Rating: 5 stars
The team’s assembled. Cohesive? No. Not even a little bit. But they’ve got a job to do, and they’re going to fuck it up. And when a job goes sideways for these guys, hooooolyyyyy shit.
Sorry, I don’t usually swear a whole lot, but this story hit me like an ambulance with rocket boosters.
I’m getting used to the head-hopping POV, so I don’t have to re-read sections too often once I figure out whose head I’m in. It mostly happens in quieter parts of the story, as though both writer and story are a little unfocused. But when the action hits, there’s no question where you are. This cast of misfits takes a lot to bond, but it’s amazing when they do.
And the ending had me all misty-eyed. This is the second time Wayne has done this to me, and I curse his name again. So good.
If you aren’t reading this series, why not? The first episode is permanently free. Go get it.
Biological warfare wiped out almost all of humanity, and these short stories chronicle some of the aftermath.
Each story was unique and evocative. I think my favourite was “Sam,” because I was kept guessing until the very end. I’d thought it was going to go all Shaun of the Dead on me, but it didn’t (I won’t spoil it, though!).
Also, every story had a satisfying ending – that’s not to say happy. It’s an apocalypse. But they wrapped up nicely and showed a wide range of trauma that people went through.
While I enjoyed the entire collection, the stories were littered with minor errors – spelling, added/missing/incorrect words, typos, punctuation – but were not enough to make me want to stop reading. Just a short pause, an, “I think he meant X,” and moving on. I did my usual thing I do with indie authors in offering to point out these sorts of errors, but was told the story already went through an editor, so I didn’t take out my notepad for the last three stories. Thus, I’ll check a sample in future works to make sure more care is put into it, especially if it’s a longer novel, because a longer book with an error on every page or two would wear on me.
All in all, a quick, entertaining read that builds up a world that I look forward to seeing more of from this author.
Alexander looked out the window. There was just the faintest hint of light on the horizon. Dawn wasn’t too far off. He could hear people going about their chores in the yard. The day was about to begin.
His blood ran cold. For the briefest moment he froze in utter terror. Whatever had just made that noise was here to kill him. He was certain of that.
The last guard backed off slowly, looking around wildly, clearly hoping for reinforcements.
The last guard inched backwards, casting his gaze about in hopes of finding help nearby.
Excelsior: Book 1 of the New Frontiers Series, by Jasper T. Scott
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Hundreds of years in the future, the Alliance (western countries) and Confederacy (eastern countries) have an uneasy truce. The Alliance is capitalist, the Confederacy is socialist, which gives you the feeling right out of the gate that you know how this is going to turn out, with the Alliance being the stalwart heroes, and the Confederacy being the hive-mind bad guys. Their truce is about to come undone with the discovery of a wormhole. When the Alliance refuses to share the discovery, World War III breaks out while Captain Alexander and his crew make haste to escape through the wormhole to whatever waits on the other side.
First off, if I remember right, this book is set in the 2700’s, so you have to suspend your disbelief for a moment that there hasn’t been a world war between now and then. I find that to be unlikely, even moreso after the US election that just took place.
There was really only one thing that bothered me with this book, and it’s not that major – it’s that the Captain at times seems perfectly comfortable in his role, and sometimes acts like he’s never done anything in space before. When he accidentally tosses all his belongings all over his room because of zero G, I was left wondering, “How are you a Captain of a military space ship, and don’t know how to act in zero G?” There were a few instances where I felt like the Captain was a rookie, despite having 10 years of experience in the navy.
That hiccup aside, the story is quite good. There were times I wished he didn’t explore other POVs to heighten the tension, and keep the reader wondering what was really going on.
The sense that something is wrong with everything after entering the wormhole is pervasive. Although the love story was predictable, the rest of the twists and turns made it so I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next with the main plot.
The ending of the story is satisfying, which is a big thing for me. I don’t feel pressure to jump into book 2 straight away. However, the teaser for the second book in the series was pretty good, and I’ll probably pick it up at some point to continue reading.
Legacy (Fractured Era Legacy Book 1), by Autumn Kalquist
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Humanity ruined not only the world, but itself. Fleeing to the stars in hopes of finding a better world, this story begins in our distant future when that fleet is in trouble. Supplies are limited, the ships are in a constant state of disrepair, the people are angry … but hope appears in the window in the form of a new planet. They need this place to be one of two things: a safe haven where they can begin to rebuild, or a world with a rare mineral that will allow them to build a jump gate to leap to a distant star where they might find solace.
This book throws a lot of stuff at you right from the start, and I almost put it down because I was feeling frustrated with all the unknown terms and the large list of characters. I’m glad I stuck with it, as the pieces started to fall into place. Fast paced, with characters I grew attached to, complicated plots with unexpected twists and turns … this book was excellent.
This book is actually three complete stories in one, the first dealing with the approach to the new planet, Soren. The second follows a worker on the ship a while after they’ve started building a temporary colony on Soren. Traitors are discovered, rules are broken, and retribution is swift. In the third is when you really start to dig into the depths of the conspiracies, with a great deal of cloak-and-dagger work going on behind the scenes.
This book ends in a cliffhanger, and from the sounds of it Kalquist is going back to do a prequel before continuing with the series, so that’s a little frustrating. I don’t care so much what happened to get the people where they are, I’m invested in the story and want to know where they wind up! I guess I’ll just have to try to remember to keep an eye out for a sequel.