Blood Relations by Caroline Fréchette – Book Review

In my continuing mission to read the first in every series I haven’t read yet but I own. I read Blood Relations.

Full disclosure I have known the author for nearly 2 years and I’d consider her a friend. She is also one of the head people at Renaissance Press, to whom I may have submitted a book.

None of this really matters cause I’d be completely honest either way, or if it was really really bad I might pretend I didn’t read it. Yeah I can be a coward.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.

BloodrelationsCharacters

I liked

The main character is involved in organized crime and has some serious “daddy” issues but is incredibly likeable. His likeability probably stems from the fact that throughout the book he is trying to help people.

The secondary characters are well fleshed out even if we don’t fully know their motivations.

I didn’t like

There is a lot of vice from the innocuous like drinking cola, to heavy drug use. The main character is a chain smoker and even though it’s important to the character development, I’m not a fan.

I also find that the style and the fact that the main character is both young and not great with other’s emotions that we don’t get as much of a depth of knowledge about the other characters.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

I normally dislike present tense. It’s very hard to do properly and I’ve rarely seen it done well throughout a novel or series. Even the Hunger Games only manages to do it well for 80% of the books.

The author however wields the first person present tense as if they’d being using it their entire life. It’s skillfully done from choice of information to description and word choice. I can’t state and stronger how impressed I am with the author’s skill.

I didn’t like

The only issues I had with style were due to the limitations of first person narratives.

I give it 5 out of 5.

Story

I liked

The flow of the novel is extremely well balanced. Being someone who takes a week or two to read a book I appreciate the slower character moments between high action scenes. The story was built to ebb and flow without spending too much time world building or dumping information.

The tropes and structure of the book are closer to Horror than Urban-Fantasy. Often times Urban-Fantasy gets bogged down by long infodumps about how the world is really different. While this story borrowed from classic supernatural horror movies and gave small bits in between action.

I didn’t like

In the same way that the Horror structure helped the flow of the novel it also detracted from the wonder that comes with Fantasy or Urban-Fantasy. The wonder of realizing that there is a great big world of supernatural. The information about the supernatural world was so sparse that it didn’t feel like the world was that big.

None of this detracted from the engrossing and fun plot.

I give the story 5 out of 5

Fun

I liked

The characters, the action, and the witty dialogue were all very fun.

I didn’t like

Again the smoking and drugs weren’t fun for me. I also felt the fight scenes with the vampires were a little fast. I also feel that the main character’s supernatural abilities didn’t progress at all, he used them a lot but never seemed to improve in control.

I give it 4 out of 5 for fun

Overall

Blood Relations is an action packed and emotional ride through a Supernatural, Horror, and film noir style story. It challenges and bends the tropes of all three styles into something completely unique and compelling. The author has a command of style and language which is rare in a first novel.

If you enjoy Horror, Urban-Fantasy, or Supernatural stories, you’re going to want to pick up this book.

Final score is 90%

Feeling Old and a Mission

Short Story Collection

The other day I came up with the idea of collecting my short stories and maybe self-publishing them. My first instinct was that I’d never have enough and I’d have to write more.

After looking through my writing folders I certainly have enough content but I’m not convinced I have enough quality… Yet.

I get a perverse joy out of reading my old stories and pretending someone else wrote them. It’s easy, seeing as even some things on this blog I don’t remember writing. Some of it is good, some of it is terrible, but boy is there a lot of it.

Feeling Old

I feel old when I look through the folder and find some of my stories that are just shy of 2 decades old. My early stories could vote. That’s frightening. I didn’t consider myself a writer until I finished my first novel “Cerulean Skies” and even then I never considered writing regularly, but looking back I’ve been writing, in one form or another, for over twenty five years. I remember the first novel I tried to write. I had almost finished it and left it in an envelope. I found it when I moved to Ottawa in 2002, but I had made the terrible mistake of using pencil and it had faded beyond recognition.

I found some Dungeons and Dragons writing that I did for my first big campaign. I remember it being massive in scope. When I looked at it today it was barely 9000 words. Or as most of my author friends would call it, a few days’ work.

I think I’ll stick to stories that were written within the past decade for the collection.

I’m Terribly Sorry

There are several serial stories that I have written that I promised to write more and I seem to have completely forgotten.

If you’re interested in reading them here are the links:

Armstrong 3 (Space ship Science Fiction) – 2009

The Professor (Archeological Action Adventure) – 2009

The Cosmic Cuckoos (Adventure Science Fiction) – 2014

I plan on not only continuing these stories but re-writing and editing them into a coherent total. One of them may even become my next serialized story.

I have a Mission

I discovered around Christmas that I’d been collecting Urban-Fantasy/Fantasy series at an alarming rate. At last count, I have over 50 of them and more than 20 that I hadn’t read. No seriously, I have one series where I own the first 8 books and I’ve never read the author before.

In order to pare down my library and make sure I like the books, I’m on a quest to read the first in each series. I’ll be posting short reviews of each of the books unless I really love them or hate them.

Here’s what I’ve read so far this year and my opinions:

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

A great start and a wonderful read. I look forward to the next one. Rating: 80%

Night Child by Jes Battis

Not a terrible book but very uneven. The author’s metaphors were awkward, the characters were stupid and the style wasn’t consistent. Not planning on reading the rest of the series.

This book had so much potential and angered me so much that it gets the lowest rating I’ve ever given with 40%

Blood Relations by Caroline Fréchette

Check out my full review this Thursday.

 

That’s 3 down and 19 more to go.

 

What’s your favourite fantasy, science fiction, or urban fantasy? Let me know and I may add it to my list.

Recommendation Tuesday – The Summer Bird and The Winter Wolf

The Summer Bird Cover The Winter Wolf Cover

Hello My Imaginary Friends.

I’m picky about my Fantasy novels except Urban-Fantasy which runs through my veins (No blood just Urban-Fantasy and coffee). As much as I love the “Magical Detective” clichés, I hate the “Farm boy / chosen one” clichés. I also find that a lot of fantasy authors embellish for embellishment’s sake.

S.M. Carrière finds a great balance between lush fantasy worlds and straight storytelling. I reviewed her first published full length novel last December.

The Winter Wolf

S.M. has written a series of Fantasy books called The Seraphimé Saga. I’m ashamed to admit, I haven’t read The Summer Bird but I did have my Nord Spy steal me a copy of The Winter Wolf.

Quick Review

A perfect blend of High Fantasy and Military Fantasy with a great big dollop of Shamanistic Magic. The author balances a fascinating world with a plethora of characters, each character with a satisfying journey and story. It’s a book that will run you through the gamut of emotions, from joy to sadness and everything in between.

I highly recommend you pick up this book.

Giveaway

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The author is giving away a free Ebook version paperback through a Goodreads giveaway. Go check it out.

Availability

The book is in pre-release now and you can preorder it on the author’s website.

I’ve heard there will be some available at Can-Con and there will be a book release party near Halloween. I’ll let you know the details closer too.

 

What are you still doing here? Go preorder or get the first in the series.

Eric

Welcome to the Land of Everdome

Hello,

Some days I sit down to write a short story and then I blink and I have an intro chapter for a novel. That’s what happened on Monday. I looked and I had 300 words around 2pm and then suddenly I noticed it was 4pm and I had 2000. I love those kinds of days.

The idea came to me while watching The Quest. What if the contestants in a fantasy reality show discover they’ve actually been transported to another world? I’m fascinated by the little scenes that would lead to them realizing what’s going on. The end of the second act would either have a death or a serious injury to make them understand they’re playing for real.

Description

The world’s most popular video game, based off a fantasy book series, is being turned into a reality television show. Only twelve people are chosen but there’s something strange about the contestants. They aren’t the biggest, strongest, or prettiest. They are however all in love with the world.

As they go through the standard, often cheesy, reality television challenges they start to wonder if it is just a television show. How does the Queen get her elf ears on so seamlessly, how do the special effects for the Court Wizard work, why are the camera’s so well hidden, and most of all why do the banished players scream as they leave?

Point of View Characters

  • Abigail: Emotionally abused by ex-fiancée and still not over him. She’ll have to overcome her dependence on other people and her lack of faith in herself.
  • Pierre: A short thin man who boasts having the highest score in The Land of Everdome game. He’s completely out of his depth without technology and everyone wonders why he applied for the show.
  • Annie: Abigail’s younger sister who is the favourite to win with her years of experience working in a Renaissance fairs and theatre as a weapons instructor.
  • Nicole: At the age of 20 she is the youngest and has the longest police record. She never applied for the show but getting out of the country was probably a good idea after her last con went south. A consummate pretender, she isn’t in the game to win, she’s in to avoid the mob hitmen that will surely be looking for her.

Finally here’s the story I’ve written so far. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Story

Warning: Contains scenes of emotional and verbal abuse.

“Why the Hell is there a man in armour asking for you in the lobby?” yelled Patrick a little too loudly. He had already dressed and shaved.

The only reason Abigail could tell was from the colour differences and shiny reflection from his moist aftershave. Reaching over to the bedside table she put on her glasses and took a good look at her fiancé. He was dressed in a designer suit and looked like something from a magazine. Her own prince charming.

“Well?” he asked again. Even pouting he looked sexy.

Brushing back her mousy brown hair, she sat up and wondered why there would be a man in armour outside. It wasn’t a common occurrence in their downtown condo.

“I’ll go check,” she mumbled. She was not a morning person. She’d worked the late shift last night and Patrick had insisted they go out with some of his friends. She would have preferred to stay home and read but he’d insisted. She could never say no to him.

Getting out of bed she stumbled towards her hamper and reached into it to grab a half clean pair of jeans. They were the comfortable kind, not the pair that Patrick insisted she wear out but the kind that didn’t take ten minutes and a shoe horn to get into.

She was about to just put on a wonder woman tank top but she saw Patrick’s look and put on a proper bra before putting on the top.

As she rode the elevator down she looked into the mirrored wall and wondered what he saw in her. She was too short, too round, and her hair was as controllable as a rabid rous. Her skin was ambiguously brown and splotchy, her father had been native but she had no idea what her mother had been. She tried to put some sort of order in her paradoxically limp and curly hair and gave up when the elevator doors opened.

The knight wasn’t just in armour, he was in authentic chainmail and he wasn’t alone. There were two camera men and a photographer.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“Dame Abigail Montrose?” The knight asked in an authentic British accent.

“Yes,” she replied.

Without any delay the man fell to one knee and said, “My lady. It is my great honour to extend an invitation from Queen Tamora the sixth, to visit her in her kingdom Everdome.”

The expression on Abigail’s face transitioned from confusion to disbelief to shock and finally settled on excitement. All traces of sleepiness disappeared as she remembered what was going on.

“Oh my goddess, yes, yes, yes. Thank you.” She threw herself at the knight as he stood and hugged him tightly. “Thank you, thank you, Thank you” She squeed before letting him go.

“My Lady. Here is your invitation and all the information you need,” He was blushing and never once broke character. He gave her a large envelope with her name on it. It was pretty thick and she assumed it was the legal contracts and disclaimers she’d have to sign to be on the show.

The Land of Everdome, was the world’s most popular online videogame and was based off of a series of novels. Abigail had never played the game but she read the ten book series every year around her birthday. They were the last present her father had given her before he died.

At one point she’d considered playing the game but Patrick had flipped out, telling her that he was willing to put up with her childish obsessions but not to push him. That had ended that. He was probably right.

When they had announced a television series, Abigail had expected something along the lines of Game of Thrones. Instead they’d announced that it would be a reality show set in the world, using the characters in an original story where twelve people would vie for the honour of becoming the Champion of Everdome and fight against the evil Host, an all-powerful dark lord.

In one of the rare times that she’d been allowed to see her sister, Patrick had been away on business, they’d both applied for the show. Neither of them expected to be picked, they were fantasy nerds but neither of them played the game these shows only ever picked the most attractive contestants.

Inside the apartment, she walked to the bed and pulled out a piece of parchment from the envelope. It was aged and made to feel like leather. On it was an official invitation to Everdome and the Queen’s seal and signature. It was exact in every detail.

A chime made her look for her phone. Patrick was standing over her looking at her phone. “Your sister has sent you three texts. What does she mean by I’m in?” He’d never liked her sister. They were both strong willed and thought they knew what was best for her. She hated that they didn’t get along but Patrick knew best.

“Uhmm. Remember those books I love so much?” She suddenly felt really uncomfortable.

“Ever… whatever? What about them?”

“We’ll Annie and I applied to be on the TV show set in the world. Remember we talked about it?” She had told him about the show but he hadn’t been all that interested.

“Yeah I remember. I remember saying it was a waste of time, just like the game, and the books,” his voice was harsh. He softened as he said, “Abbi, you know I only want what’s best for you. These childish hobbies are distracting you from your studies. Don’t you want to be a nurse and do something good for the world? Something useful not wasteful?”

“Yes of course I do,” she replied her eyes on the ground.

Lifting her head gently she saw him smiling benevolently, he was so beautiful it hurt her to upset him. “Good then. Throw that stuff out and put these childish things away.” He left the room and came back with a large box. “I think it’s time for you to put these things in storage until we have children. You’re twenty-six, you’re not a child anymore.” He started taking down her books and putting them in the box. Her heart sank as he picked up her father’s books and placed them in the box. He was probably right. It was time she started living her life instead of wasting it.

“These are pretty old and you’ve read them a lot. Instead of putting them in storage, we’ll donate them. We don’t really want our children to have silly ideas. These are the kinds of books loser guys read in their parent’s basement.”

Conflicting emotions turned her stomach as she sat on her bed watching him prepare her books to be given away. Anger won out and she yelled, “No!”

“Glad you agree with me babe,” he said dismissively.

“No. I am not giving those away.”

“Don’t be childish. Of course you are.”

Blood pounded in her head and she couldn’t stop herself from shaking, “No. I’m not. And I’m going to this.” She lifted up the envelope. He turned red and dropped the box and the books.

“You will not talk to me like that. You were nothing before me. I know what’s best. Now throw out that letter.” He took a deep breath. “Look what you’ve done. You’ve made me angry. Do you think I like being the bag guy? No. But you have to grow up and put these things behind you. You’re not twelve anymore.”

A wave of guilt flowed through Abigail. He was right. None of their friends were into this, she was being childish. She picked up the envelope and a section caught her eye. “You were chosen from over 200,000 applicants across North-America.” Could they all be childish?

“No Patrick. Those books were given to me by my father. I’m keeping them and I really want to do this. I know you think it’s childish. And it might be. But I need to do this.” She stopped herself before adding please.

Turning to face her again, he seemed to calm down. He smiled at her but she knew that smile, she only saw it when he was so angry he became calm. It didn’t touch his eyes and made him look like a Bond villain. “Fine. If you want to do this, go ahead. But if you leave, don’t come back.” Without giving her the chance to answer, he grabbed his briefcase and left the apartment.

The sound of the door closing was like an explosion. The apartment they’d shared for two years suddenly seemed hostile and too quiet.

Again her phone beeped. Her sister wanted to know if she was ok.

“I’m fine. I got the invitation too. Wasn’t the knight cool?” she texted.

“Yeah. I can’t wait for us to go.” Her sister added a smiley face after the message.

“I can’t go,” she wrote back.

“Duck Patrick. You can do better,” The autocorrect on her sister’s phone had certainly edited that line. “This is Everdome. We’ve been dreaming about this since we were kids. Would you give up your childhood dream for a guy?”

“I’m sorry Annie. I can’t.”

“Ok. I’m not going without you big sis. If you won’t go. Neither will I.”

“No, no. One of us should go.”

“Talk about it over lunch?”

She agreed to meet her for lunch and they told each other they loved each other. As she put down her phone she felt her face was wet. She was crying, just like a child, she thought.

Without thinking she finished packing her books. Looking around she was hit by how little she felt attached to the things in the apartment. Other than the bookcase with her books and photos, everything was stark black and white modern. Patrick’s taste, not hers.

The apartment and Patrick had always made her feel safe, protected, and taken care of. She went to her closet and looked inside. There were a few superhero shirts that she was allowed to wear in the apartment but that was all. The rest of her clothes were all scrubs, formal wear, or her work uniforms, dress pants or skirt with a maroon polo shirt with “Paragraphs fine Books” embroidered on it. The formal wear that she wore to events or even to the grocery store, were always picked by Patrick. She had liked that, she hatted shopping for clothes.

Taking the geek shirts and putting them in a flowered suitcase with thoughts of putting them in storage with the books, she surprised herself by putting her uniforms and scrubs in the suitcase also. She was done her nursing classes, two months and she’d be a registered nurse. Then she could work a few years before they got pregnant and then she’d take care of their kids.

Throughout the process of packing she’d been shuffling the envelope from hand to hand. Looking down at her packed suitcase, she’d taken half the clothes, all her books, and her family pictures. She packed the suitcase and her conscious mind caught up with what was going on.

It seemed unthinkable to leave Patrick but once she made the decision she felt a weight off her shoulders. She couldn’t help but think about how angry he’d be but she had made up her mind.

Picking up her phone, packing its charger and her laptop, she texted her sister again. “I’m going. But can I stay with you until we leave?”

The Quest and The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Some days require more coffee than others. Feel free to quote me on that.

The Quest

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A few weeks ago my brother recommended that I check out The Quest. I wasn’t all that interested at first but then I watched an episode.

Let’s just say that so far I’m loving it!

For those that don’t know, it’s a reality show with a scripted storyline, set in a fantasy world. The major reason I didn’t want to see it was my lack of faith in reality TV. I expected it to be filled with bad versions of fantasy with hammy actors and cut throat pretty people as contestants.

I was wrong. It seems everyone involved loves Fantasy and they’ve gone to great depths to make it awesome. The actors are great, the contestants are fantasy geeks.

It does like to spend time on drama and some of the challenges feel a little low budget but it’s a lot of fun.

I particularly like the Hag who lives in the woods. She really got into it.

Watch it on ABC in the US or CityTv in Canada.

Novel?

I have a bad habit of being inspired by things that I like. The Quest isn’t an exception.

While I watched, I wondered what if the cameras were hidden and the contestants started to wonder if it was real or not. Imagine the emotional effect of the end of second act realization that all the “Banished” characters were killed.

Think what it would mean for the characters who don’t understand it isn’t a game.

I really like this idea for a novel and I’ve even written a proof of concept for one of the characters. I was expecting it to be 500 words but it quickly ballooned to 2000.

I’ll post it on Thursday.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I was challenged and then challenged my wife.

For those of you who live under a rock, the challenge is to bring awareness about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Charcot Disease).

It’s a terrifying degenerative disease that affects muscles. From what I understand your muscles slowly atrophy. It’s paralysing, painful, and those affected have a short life expectancy.

The challenge says that if you can, you should donate $10 to the cause if you’ve dumped a bucket of ice water on your head and $100 if you didn’t.

My video and my wife’s video.

Charity Drain

Last estimates see the challenge having raised over 80 million dollars.

Some people are saying that the success of the campaign has been stopping people from donating to other causes. I don’t want to be the reason that other causes suffer, so I’m encouraging those that can afford to donate to multiple charities at the same time.

I donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association in memory of my Mother who died of complications related to diabetes in 2008. I also donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in memory of my Father who died of brain cancer in 2010.

I encourage those that can afford to donate to:

Even a little bit helps.

 

Would you join The Quest?

Have you or someone you love been affected by ALS?

 

Thank you,

Eric

Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince by S.M. Carrière

I’ve known S.M. Carrière for a little over a year now I should have read one of her books earlier.

Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince is an otherworld novel in line with Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Fairy series by O.R. Melling, or Jack of Kinrowan by Charles De Lint.

It borrows heavily from Welsh and Irish mythology to make a well-rounded and fascinating world.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.

Characters

I liked

There were a lot of characters in this novel but it didn’t distract from the main characters’ story arcs. I really enjoyed watching Ethan’s development from listless jock to Battle Prince. It was so well done that until I thought about it I didn’t see it happening.

I also liked the unabashedly strong and intelligent women in this book. It’s not easy to write a female warrior without falling into stereotypes. S.M. did it extremely well.

I didn’t like

There were a lot of characters and a few of the secondary ones felt like they had interesting stories to tell but never really got the chance to develop. O

There were two that bothered me the most. First was a character called Mitch, who was friends with Ethan. Their seemed to be more to the character and his odd submissiveness but his story ended with a handshake and a nod.

The other was a character called Joseph who was introduced around two thirds into the book. He was interesting and worked as an emotional foil for Ethan but felt like he didn’t need to be there.

The role that Joseph ended up playing in the end of the book was what I expected of Mitch after a step character arc.

For characters, I give it 3 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The ease with which S.M. weaves mythology into her story is impressive and she manages to avoid info dumping by giving us tiny details throughout.

I particularly liked her use of vocabulary, in many otherworld novels or urban fantasies, the other keeps a very standard language akin to a hardboiled detective style. S.M. keeps the book’s voice in a tongue-in-cheek fantasy style that works perfectly with the story.

One of the strengths in this book is S.M.’s ability to write convincing dialogue. Each character has a unique voice that rings true and it makes it easier to follow which characters are which.

I was definitely taken back to a time I lived with three other guys during university.

I didn’t like

On TV, in movies, and in books I find great pride when I understand the language that the main characters don’t. However, when the opposite happens and I don’t understand, I feel kinda dumb. This book has a healthy dose of Welsh and Irish throughout. At times the conversations are long. Never do they last more than half a page but it still frustrated me.

One the other side of the coin, the author did put a translation for all these scenes at the back of the book. If I had noticed I wouldn’t have minded. I think the translations might have been better as footnotes.

I give it 3 out of 5.

Story

I liked

The story was a standard otherworld story but inversed. Instead of a regular everyday person falling into another world, a Queen fell into ours. I liked the inversion and I liked how well the character handled herself, it’s easy to think she’d panic and go nuts but she dealt pretty well.

Typically this story end after the character returns, or chooses not to return, to their own world, quite often with plot points dangling, and irritating me. The story reached that point and then proceeded to give us some extra action and extra story.

I didn’t like

The story was well crafted and other than the Mitch thing, there were only a few things that frustrated me. I felt that it was a little too neat at the end. I felt like too many people got what they deserved and all was right with the world. It rang true but it also felt like the author didn’t want to wright a sequel and made sure she didn’t have to.

I give the story 4 out of 5

Fun

I liked

The book was entertaining throughout. S.M. really knows how to keep your interest. Even through the parts that should have been slow, it was still fascinating.

I also liked the extremely subtle inclusion of herself. A character talks a lot about her roommate and I’m fairly certain that roommate is the author.

I didn’t like

This book was fun through and through. If I were to give it a fault it would be that it was a little too addictive.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun

Overall

Ethan Cadfael: The Battle Prince is the perfect otherworld novel, with enough twist and turns to keep an aficionado of the genre happy. I’d happily recommend this as a “gateway drug” to fantasy novels.

The author weaves convincing character arcs with mythology and wonderful storytelling.

I highly recommend getting this book and devouring it. It’ll leave a smile on your face.

Final score is 75%

The Beka Cooper Trilogy – Book Review

Written by the amazing Tamora Peirce. this trilogy is an adrenaline ride from start to finish.

Over the past three years I have been systematically going through her entire library of books. I’ve now read everything she’s published with the exception of short stories and comics.

It was an amazing journey, I feel like I watched her and her world grow with every book. Her encouragement of new authors on her site and her own journey as an author has helped push me towards publishing my own novels.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my post here.

Characters

With a three book series, it’s easy to fall into the trap of developing too many characters. These books find a perfect number of characters. Enough characters to hide the twist villain, or villains, but not enough to force the reader to take notes.

As for the main character, Beka is strong, intelligent, and great at her job. She has her flaws, that make her human and several attributes that make her feel real.

The secondary characters have lives around the main plots and main character. It’s easy for an author to assume that nothing interesting happens to the secondary characters when the main character isn’t around. That never happens to Mrs. Pierce, it always feels like there’s a novel hiding with the secondary characters, a new and exciting story. It’s never enough to throw you out of the story but it’s enough to feel real.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

This trilogy is a departure in multiple ways for Mrs. Pierce and for the world of Tortall. It’s the first Procedural, the first series that doesn’t have a large story arc, and the first to be written as series of journal entries.

Each book flows from one to the other but the stories are separate. Characters and lives flow between each but not mysteries. The procedural aspects of the book are fantastic. After getting used to the slang journal, I found I really enjoyed it.

The only negative I can see was the lack of rest. After the first few establishing chapters it was non stop action. I would have liked a few chapters of rest to let my poor heart rate return to normal.

For what it was, it was good. I give it 4 out of 5.

Story

The story in each of the books was fantastic. Possibly her best work and definitely some of the best books I’ve read.

That said there were a few things that bugged me. Not to go too much into detail but there was one character that felt tacked on and not all that important. Pounce is her magical cat. I found he was a little too powerful and for that reason she needed to find reasons why he disappeared. It was a nice tie in with her first Tortall Series but I found it unnecessary.

The one part of Mrs. Pierce’s writing that I don’t particularly like is her romantic plots. It often feels like her characters just fall into the relationships. I’m not sure what’s missing exactly but I feel it happens too easily.

These are little nit picks that don’t greatly affect my enjoyment.

I give the story 5 out of 5

Fun

In my opinion, Tamora Pierce is one of the best Young Adult writers. Her stories are entertaining, intelligent, and well thought out. It’s nice to find an author who doesn’t continuously writes female characters as boy crazy, indecisive dolts.

This series is my favourite for the year so far. They are a lot of fun.

If you have never read a book by Tamora Pierce or if you’ve read everything she’s published, you should enjoy this series. It has enough links to the rest of the series but is completely understandable without having read anything else.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun

Overall

Final score is 90%

The Beka Cooper Trilogy – Book Review

Written by the amazing Tamora Peirce. this trilogy is an adrenaline ride from start to finish.

Over the past three years I have been systematically going through her entire library of books. I’ve now read everything she’s published with the exception of short stories and comics.

It was an amazing journey, I feel like I watched her and her world grow with every book. Her encouragement of new authors on her site and her own journey as an author has helped push me towards publishing my own novels.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my post here.

Characters

With a three book series, it’s easy to fall into the trap of developing too many characters. These books find a perfect number of characters. Enough characters to hide the twist villain, or villains, but not enough to force the reader to take notes.

As for the main character, Beka is strong, intelligent, and great at her job. She has her flaws, that make her human and several attributes that make her feel real.

The secondary characters have lives around the main plots and main character. It’s easy for an author to assume that nothing interesting happens to the secondary characters when the main character isn’t around. That never happens to Mrs. Pierce, it always feels like there’s a novel hiding with the secondary characters, a new and exciting story. It’s never enough to throw you out of the story but it’s enough to feel real.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

This trilogy is a departure in multiple ways for Mrs. Pierce and for the world of Tortall. It’s the first Procedural, the first series that doesn’t have a large story arc, and the first to be written as series of journal entries.

Each book flows from one to the other but the stories are separate. Characters and lives flow between each but not mysteries. The procedural aspects of the book are fantastic. After getting used to the slang journal, I found I really enjoyed it.

The only negative I can see was the lack of rest. After the first few establishing chapters it was non stop action. I would have liked a few chapters of rest to let my poor heart rate return to normal.

For what it was, it was good. I give it 4 out of 5.

Story

The story in each of the books was fantastic. Possibly her best work and definitely some of the best books I’ve read.

That said there were a few things that bugged me. Not to go too much into detail but there was one character that felt tacked on and not all that important. Pounce is her magical cat. I found he was a little too powerful and for that reason she needed to find reasons why he disappeared. It was a nice tie in with her first Tortall Series but I found it unnecessary.

The one part of Mrs. Pierce’s writing that I don’t particularly like is her romantic plots. It often feels like her characters just fall into the relationships. I’m not sure what’s missing exactly but I feel it happens too easily.

These are little nit picks that don’t greatly affect my enjoyment.

I give the story 5 out of 5

Fun

In my opinion, Tamora Pierce is one of the best Young Adult writers. Her stories are entertaining, intelligent, and well thought out. It’s nice to find an author who doesn’t continuously writes female characters as boy crazy, indecisive dolts.

This series is my favourite for the year so far. They are a lot of fun.

If you have never read a book by Tamora Pierce or if you’ve read everything she’s published, you should enjoy this series. It has enough links to the rest of the series but is completely understandable without having read anything else.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun

Overall

Final score is 90%

A Clash of Kings – Book Review

A Clash of Kings is the second novel in the truly epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. The series is now a successful television show on HBO called a Game of Thrones.

This is a brick of a book. I take an average amount of time to read a book and this took me the better part of two months. The softcover that I own is a thousand pages.

I’ll try to keep this spoiler free but there might be a few that sneak in.

Characters

Complex mythologies and huge casts of characters go hand in hand with fantasy. Clash of Kings isn’t an exception. There are more characters than I could possibly keep straight. There are nine point of view characters and a plethora of others.

It would be easy with nice point of view characters, and a gazillion others, to make them bland or similar. Not going to happen in this book. I believe that despite the terrible things that happen to the characters, they are the best part of this book. Each and every one of them make you feel for them. The emotions vary as much as the characters but they’re their and strong.

That characters are great but they do drop like flies. The body count is as high as the emotions. Often the most likeable characters are the ones that die.

For the strength and consistency of the characters I give this book a five out of five.

Writing Style

This isn’t a quirky or flowery writing style. Martin has a way of making every word count and make you want to keep reading. It’s also a very easy style to follow. That means you won’t spend ten minutes reading a page only to realize you can’t remember what you read.

That being said I like quirkiness, I like flowers, and most of all I like a witty turn of phrase. Martin does it but it’s always through dialogue. If the narrative weren’t so well calculated, it would be dry.
It’s not your typical sword and sorcery fantasy. This is a high fantasy with low magic. It’s gritty and bloody.

For its efficiency I give the writing style a four out of five.

Story

I’ll say this right away. This isn’t one book with one story. Its one book with nine main characters and three times that many stories. It could have been split into 3 books with 3 characters and there would be little difference. With the exception of the wonderful bicep muscles I’ve developed.

Each book in this series builds upon the stories and even adds some. It’s all interlinked and brilliant. The stories are great and plentiful.

That all said I found the twists, high points, and low points subdued in comparison to the first one. I guess the first had a lot farther for the characters to fall on their faces. When the world has already turned to shit, it can’t get much worse. It does just not as dramatically as the first book.

It’s the second book in a series that could be just one large book it does a great job at what it needs to do but isn’t as awesome as the first.

I give it a three out of five for story.

Fun

In its own way this series is a lot of fun. It’s well written, intelligent, and keeps you on your toes. Clash of Kings felt long though. It could be that I wasn’t in the right mood for it or that it didn’t have the dramatic twists of the first. I found myself longing for the next book I’d read.

In fun I give it a three out of five.

Overall

Overall, if you have the upper body strength, patience, stomach, and love of high fantasy you’ll truly enjoy this book as part of the series. If you’ve read the first one and liked, keep going.

I think it’s a solid book by a master writer with an amazing talent with characters. For that I give it a final score of 75%.

A Clash of Kings – Book Review

A Clash of Kings is the second novel in the truly epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. The series is now a successful television show on HBO called a Game of Thrones.

This is a brick of a book. I take an average amount of time to read a book and this took me the better part of two months. The softcover that I own is a thousand pages.

I’ll try to keep this spoiler free but there might be a few that sneak in.

Characters

Complex mythologies and huge casts of characters go hand in hand with fantasy. Clash of Kings isn’t an exception. There are more characters than I could possibly keep straight. There are nine point of view characters and a plethora of others.

It would be easy with nice point of view characters, and a gazillion others, to make them bland or similar. Not going to happen in this book. I believe that despite the terrible things that happen to the characters, they are the best part of this book. Each and every one of them make you feel for them. The emotions vary as much as the characters but they’re their and strong.

That characters are great but they do drop like flies. The body count is as high as the emotions. Often the most likeable characters are the ones that die.

For the strength and consistency of the characters I give this book a five out of five.

Writing Style

This isn’t a quirky or flowery writing style. Martin has a way of making every word count and make you want to keep reading. It’s also a very easy style to follow. That means you won’t spend ten minutes reading a page only to realize you can’t remember what you read.

That being said I like quirkiness, I like flowers, and most of all I like a witty turn of phrase. Martin does it but it’s always through dialogue. If the narrative weren’t so well calculated, it would be dry.
It’s not your typical sword and sorcery fantasy. This is a high fantasy with low magic. It’s gritty and bloody.

For its efficiency I give the writing style a four out of five.

Story

I’ll say this right away. This isn’t one book with one story. Its one book with nine main characters and three times that many stories. It could have been split into 3 books with 3 characters and there would be little difference. With the exception of the wonderful bicep muscles I’ve developed.

Each book in this series builds upon the stories and even adds some. It’s all interlinked and brilliant. The stories are great and plentiful.

That all said I found the twists, high points, and low points subdued in comparison to the first one. I guess the first had a lot farther for the characters to fall on their faces. When the world has already turned to shit, it can’t get much worse. It does just not as dramatically as the first book.

It’s the second book in a series that could be just one large book it does a great job at what it needs to do but isn’t as awesome as the first.

I give it a three out of five for story.

Fun

In its own way this series is a lot of fun. It’s well written, intelligent, and keeps you on your toes. Clash of Kings felt long though. It could be that I wasn’t in the right mood for it or that it didn’t have the dramatic twists of the first. I found myself longing for the next book I’d read.

In fun I give it a three out of five.

Overall

Overall, if you have the upper body strength, patience, stomach, and love of high fantasy you’ll truly enjoy this book as part of the series. If you’ve read the first one and liked, keep going.

I think it’s a solid book by a master writer with an amazing talent with characters. For that I give it a final score of 75%.