Book Review – Isle of Winds

isle of windsOverall review:2 Stars (2 / 5)

I chose this book, Isle of Winds by James Fahy on the strength of good reviews (for independently published works) on Goodreads.  I didn’t realize at the time that it was a middle grade/young adult book (with the emphasis on middle grade).  But, it was an interesting story line so I went ahead and decided to review it.

It is a coming of age story of the protagonist, Robin Fellows, a twelve year old boy with relatives that are either dead or extremely eccentric.  He develops friends (both human, “fae,” “panthea,” and other) who help him along in his quest to develop hidden magical abilities.  He also has evil denizens of the Netherworlde who are out to control him for their own nefarious purposes.

Character development is really geared towards a middle grade audience, and adult readers will find them a bit flat.  Harry Potter fans will probably like the book, but the characters do not have the depth of Rowling’s main characters.

The book is desperately in need of good copy and line editing.  There were numerous grammatical and punctuation errors, and some sentences that just did not make sense.

As far as writing craft, the book had a good pace I felt, with interesting and varied characters and enough conflict to keep the story moving forward and the reader engaged.  Again, the straightforward prose is fine for a middle grade audience, but older readers will find it somewhat predictable.

The cover art was not impressive, and said little about the story line.  It displayed well enough on a computer screen, which is something that I am going to be adding into the cover art critiques.

Like the other review points, worldbuilding is suitable for a middle grade audience.  But older readers will find it a bit thin.

So – overall, I think this is a good story suitable for young people 6-14 years old.

Story Line:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Characterization:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Readability:2 Stars (2 / 5)
Writing Craft:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Cover Art:3 Stars (3 / 5)
Worldbuilding:3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

Asteroid Made of Dragons

asteroid made of dragonsOverall review:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Imagine a tea party.  Frank Zappa is the host, and he makes some “special” mushroom tea.  Attendees at the party include William Goldman (of The Princess Bride fame), Lewis Carroll (Looking Glass fame [of course]), and Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide) and they are told to collaborate on a novel.

I have to say even THEY would have had a tough time coming up with a book as entertaining as Asteroid Made of Dragons.

It has been many years since I have enjoyed any book as much AMOD.  Granted, during the first couple of chapters I was in a flashing brain state of WTF is going on??, but by Chapter 3, I was totally hooked.  And laughing.

I dearly love mashups as a rule, and this book was the mashup to end all mashups.  Just about every mythological, fairylogical, pixielogical, archetypal, supernatural and general magical creature/thing made an appearance at some point (I didn’t see unicorns or Orcs, that I recall – but I could have just overlooked them).  And, there were also steampunk-type airships, ghost-pirate zombies, at least one vampire (I think – all signs point to that fact), a seer and of course, the dragon asteroid.

The story itself (once I fully committed to the ride) was an entertaining Wild Mouse twister.  I never knew WHAT was going to happen next.  Characterization was neatly and skillfully done – especially considering the gamut of creatures that appeared at nearly every turn of the page.

Editing was outstanding.  At the end of the book, the author gives credit to “Lindsay Robinson for her blistering developmental edit.”  I have a feeling that this book was not the easiest book to edit – so more power to Lindsay!

I just had one small gripe – there was a sentence in about horses/riders “looping” which made no sense (horses lope).  I am a long time horsewoman – and when I run across inaccuracies like this I always get a sour face.

The cover art is very good, accurately portraying the lighthearted feel of the book itself.  Writing craft – I would say that Adams is well on his way to journeyman status.  And, worldbuilding – pretty good – considering there was so many worlds mashed together.

All in all – a classic and a must read.

Story Line:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Characterization:4 Stars (4 / 5)
Readability:4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)
Writing Craft:4 Stars (4 / 5)
Cover Art:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Worldbuilding:4 Stars (4 / 5)

Why oh why do people like to talk to me?

ranting-homer2_1I cannot go anywhere without random strangers feeling obligated to strike up a conversation with me.  Today in two short visits (one to Wal-Mart and one to the women’s bathroom at Lowe’s) I was treated to A) a rant about people leaving milk and other perishables in carts to be “rooint” which makes “dah prices” go up for all of us and B) a loud exclamation and instructive comments on “THANK GOD THE BATHROOM HAS BEEN CLEANED!  You would not BELIEVE what it smelled like before…” (and more details that don’t even bear mentioning).

I have no idea why this is.  If these people knew what I was actually thinking they would probably fall dead in offended shock.

 

Book Review – Abomination

abomination

Overall review:4.25 Stars (4.25 / 5)

Abomination is a intricate tale of two troubled spirits both in desperate struggles against a merciless occupying army, class and gender biases. hordes of man eating horrors and overwhelming inner demons.  Set in 9th century England during the reign of Alfred the Great, it begins as a classic monster(s) hunt by noble and less than noble knights, then it becomes something much more meaningful and rewarding.

The two protagonists, Wulfric and Indra, both are believable as  typical characters in a fantasy novel but still complex enough to be interesting. And while there is some one-dimensionality in their roles as warriors, it is forgivable, because they have such tangled interior conflicts.

What I found I liked best about the book though was its unexpected message of the true meaning of compassion and forgiveness.  Not something you usually expect to find in a fantasy/horror book.  It made for an interesting and satisfying read.

The author, Gary Whitta, is best known as a screenwriter.  He has many notable credits to his name, including the original screenplay for The Book of Eli, the major feature film starring Denzel Washington and Mila Kunis.  So, as could be expected,  Abomination’s dialog was strong and amusing at times, I just wish there had been more of it.

Whitta’s writing style put me in mind of Ken Follett’s popular work, The Pillars of the Earth.  The story line was fresh and interesting, with enough plot twists to keep me up reading late into the night.  The readability (editing) was excellent – I only found one problem – a missed period.  There might have been other problems but it wasn’t enough to make me stumble while reading.  What a treat!

The cover art, done by Jason Gurley, is outstanding, that accurately reflects the story line and draws in the reader.

The book did lack in the worldbuilding aspect – I would have liked to have seen richer descriptions of England during this period, and those lack of details made the visualization of the story backdrop a bit on the muddy side.

All in all an excellent effort for a first novel.

Story Line:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Characterization:4 Stars (4 / 5)
Readability:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Writing Craft:3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)
Cover Art:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Worldbuilding:3 Stars (3 / 5)

Buy on Inkshares here:

Abomination by Gary Whitta

 

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