Final Fantasy XV

Normally I do book reviews, but since I’ve been playing it and I have a good amount to say I think I’ll do a video game review here. I will be mentioning massive spoilers throughout.

First, my history with the series: As a kid I remember having FF4 as a kid. Played 5 and 6, and eventually 7 with a friend. After that I played 11 for about 7 years, and played 14. Of course, people who started playing 14 know it didn’t do very well at first. I gave it another try when they re-launched it, but it never clicked for me. The visuals were beautiful, and the gameplay might even be different now, but I never got into it like I wanted to.

I haven’t played most of the 3D Final Fantasies, though I’ve recently gotten 9.

So Final Fantasy 15 is the first single player FF I’ve tried in a while. For a brief overview before I get into details, I liked it. I recognize that it has many problems, but I enjoyed my experience.

And, I’ll state that I purposely went into the game without watching side material. I want the game to be able to stand on its own, and it should stand on its own. Especially if you have to pay to even see some of that side material. I’ve since watched Brotherhood but haven’t watched Kingsglaive.

When I started it took me a bit to get into it but I was open-minded. Of course, I didn’t know the characters yet. I’ve heard some people were annoyed by Prompto and such, but I wasn’t. I was giving them all a chance.

Perhaps an hour or so into it I was getting pretty attached to the characters and, for me, that’s really important. I forgive a lot more flaws if I enjoy the characters I’m hanging out with. It’s much harder the other way around – if you have a good story but characters I hate, I end up hating the story.

There’s a lot to say so I think I’ll divide it up by character.

Noctis: I think I liked him more than I expected. From previous trailers and based on his design, I thought he would be a lot more ’emo’. I didn’t actually find him emo at all. I felt he reacted pretty reasonably to a lot of things. When his father dies, for example, he gets angry and confused. I think that’s normal. However, I was worried he’d be a bitter character for the rest of the time after that and he really wasn’t. The dialogue of the characters is a mixture of good and bad. Sometimes they comment how nice a place is, sometimes they complain it’s dreary. Sometimes they ask if you’re attempting to kill them, sometimes they compliment you on a good job. It all feels pretty natural and Noct fits right in with it.
When he complains, it tends to be stuff I would probably also complain about. I can’t think of anything that was over the top or annoying that would make me dislike him. I was happy with him as the main character.

Prompto: Prompto is the peppy one, which is what annoyed some people. He does say one liners and panic more than the others, but considering he’s basically Noct’s schoolmate I think that makes sense for him.
I’ll get into it more later, but I think his body language is what really helped me with him at first. He joke around and such more, but when the characters were standing around his demeanor screamed that he was kind of shy. So I was fine with him.
Then Ignis went blind, and Prompto was doing everything to try and take care of him. In the next dungeon he’s helping Ignis up when he trips and it’s adorable. I really fell for his character there, and he just got better as it went on.

Ignis: Ignis was my favorite. I liked that he was pretty much the mom of the group. He has a certain refined ‘air’ about him, but he didn’t have a problem making jokes like the others, either. He could cook, he drove for me, he healed. He was the best. I loved him.
When he went blind he just shot up even more for me. He kept going anyway, and I liked him so much that I was willing to go slow in the next dungeon for him. He probably complained about his injury less than anyone else and kept pressing forward. When he tried to attack enemies and fell over I just wanted to tell him, “You keep trying buddy, you’re doing good.”
I at first wondered if they really would cure him because he said his vision would “come back in a matter of time”. But, that was just a lie – probably to make Noct feel better, but possibly because he was in denial. I’m glad he wasn’t just insta-cured. He stays blind.
I was worried that the characters would leave him behind somewhere because of it, but thankfully they didn’t. Injured or not, I still wanted him with me, and I didn’t want any ‘replacement’ characters taking his spot.
I was happy when he learned how to cook again and kept fighting in the future.

Gladio: Of the four, Gladio came off the weakest to me. People who have played probably already know exactly why. I’ve heard the explanations behind it, but it just didn’t work for me.
For people who haven’t played, there are a few points in the story where he flips out on Noctis. They seem like they’re out of nowhere. I’ve heard rumors that originally he was meant to have tension build up between Noctis and himself until it led to a duel to the death. I can kind of see that being the case, where they changed their minds but some of the old material is still there.
It’s not just that he yells at Noctis. He could have yelled at Noctis at the exact same times and it could have been done well. It just felt abrupt and disjointed to me. I was running from Titan doing my thing, and suddenly Gladio was yelling at me to get it together, and I wanted to yell back that he was the one who needed to calm down. Noctis wasn’t even complaining in a way that I thought was unusual or particularly whiny. He just didn’t like being in a pit of fire with a giant attempting to crush him, and he expressed some irritation. What he said wasn’t out of place with how the characters talked throughout the entire game.
The second time was also bizarre for me. His fiance has been murdered in front of him, Ignis has been injured, and they’re all on a train going to the next place. Noctis is quietly sitting on the train, and Gladio starts getting on him. For some reason he blames Noctis for Ignis getting injured – which I hope gets an explanation because it doesn’t make sense right now. At the time Ignis got injured, Noctis was busy fighting a god by himself. He didn’t have any interaction with them at that moment where he was the source of the injury. They were all in a crummy situation.
He also is upset that Noctis doesn’t care that Ignis got injured. However, upon waking up and seeing Ignis, Noctis had immediately asked him about it, concerned. Ignis had told him it would get better, but he was still obviously concerned about his friend. Nothing about Noctis’ reaction to me made it seem like he didn’t care. He could be upset that Lunafreya died and care about Ignis at the same time.
The biggest problem for me was that there wasn’t a counterweight. Gladio had these times where he freaked out, but there wasn’t anything on the opposite end that made me feel okay with him again and smoothed it over. I believe these needed some re-writing and some more development that felt rushed and jagged.
I don’t hate Gladio, but I definitely felt the least attached to him of the four.

Lunafreya: She was barely in this game. Like Gladio, I don’t hate her, but she really felt bland. I feel like they wanted to make a strong female character and forgot to give her much personality. The game has a bunch of characters who act very human, and she acts like she belongs in a different Final Fantasy as the goddess or something. Some people complain that it’s because her backstory was removed, but from the clips I saw those didn’t add any personality and were completely unnecessary. If anything, it would have just been even more the same bland story we’ve seen a million times.
Her greatest problem is that she’s basically infallible. She doesn’t seem to have interests, hobbies, flaws, or much of anything else besides fulfilling a job role. I would have liked to have seen more to her character and had some development with the guys. The closest thing we got to her acting human was sending a shared notebook back and forth between her and Noctis. I liked that. It was cute. She needed more of that, and less scenes showing us how amazing she is because she heals everyone and is super patient and kind and never not wonderful. She needed human interactions like the guys had. I wanted to see her play video games with the guys and do anything outside of her role that she did just because she wanted to.
I don’t hate her, but I also think she barely existed as a character in this game, and that’s a big part of the problem. With Aeris, she was with you. She fought with you, you went to events with her, she was part of your team and you spent time with her. Lunafreya is always at a distance and, unfortunately, suffers for that. Maybe that will be fixed with the upcoming patches.

Cindy: I was fine with her as a character, but what was up with those clothes? I kept thinking how sunburned she would be in some places and gross and sweaty in others. They did not look comfortable at all, and I can’t really think of anyone else who looked so out of place clothing-wise in the game.
Everything else I was fine with.

Aranea: I liked her. I was kind of excited when she showed up and I instantly realized we found our dragoon. I like that the in the game you spend time with her and find out that she has dissenting opinions and is weirded out by stuff the Empire is doing, even though she’s working for them. I also liked that I was out fighting daemons once and she just randomly showed up, on her own, to help out. That was pretty neat.

Ardyn: I loved Ardyn. The first time he shows up it’s a bit disjointed and I wondered if I missed something. But he kept me on my toes throughout the game. A lot of people compare him to Kefka, and I can see why. I actually think he’s better than Kefka. Don’t get me wrong, Kefka was very memorable and I like him, but he wasn’t all that complex. I think Ardyn had multiple goals and some conflicted with each other. I can see him both wanting to die and wanting revenge.
I just wish he had let me ride with him in his car. “Too much for me to handle” my behind. Let me in!

Also, Ignis and Gladio are horrible liars. Those are not men in they’re early twenties. They’re both in their thirties. Liars.

I mentioned it earlier, but the body language in this game for the main characters is amazing. The way they grab each other, the way they’ll stand, hang out at camp, or even run is unique to each of them. I could tell Prompto was shy before he ever had his talk with Noctis just because of the way he would stand around. When I was traveling through the mines and I saw Ignis trip and fall, and Prompto help him, I actually stopped to watch. It was so adorable and perfect.

Now, when characters are just talking for quests, it isn’t as great. You’ll have NPCs looking into oblivion as they ask you to kill off the neighboring pests. But for the main guys riding around and doing their thing with each other, I think it’s some of the best body language I’ve seen in a game.

Fighting: I enjoyed the fighting. It has its issues, like the camera getting stuck in bushes or something. Overall, it usually felt pretty smooth to me. Just today I was fighting birds, and I enjoyed that I could warp my character around through the air going after them.
Storywise, you don’t have to get very high level to beat the game. Bosses like Leviathan actually aren’t that hard, either, but I really enjoyed the fight. I’m happy enough to keep the challenging sections and the story sections separate – anyone who wants to enjoy the story but isn’t necessarily great at combat could still get through the game.

Graphics: I loved the visuals. One thing I adore about the game is that big things feel big. Anytime I saw a monster that towered over me, I went, “Whooooa…” There have been lots of neat times where I’ve just randomly run into a giant monster and it’s awesome.

Chapter 13: This chapter is probably infamous in the game. I actually liked it. It was just too long. I’m glad they’re updating it.

Now, the game has it’s problems where you can see the story obviously got rushed. I suspect the issues I had with Gladio are because they didn’t have time to fix things up more. The second have of the story suddenly gets very linear and less big-open-world. Kind of like Lunafreya, you don’t really get to see Noctis’ dad much, either.

Some people I think have mentioned lag, but I didn’t experience many problems with that. Leviathan had some issues and that was about it for me. I’ve been playing it on a PS4 slim. It has crashed about 2 or 3 times in the 70+ hours I’ve been playing it. I think the most annoying one was the first time. The first big boss you fight is called Deadeye, and they have a lot of (great) build-up getting to him. I finally got to his fight and it crashed, so I had to do all of the build-up over again (because you can’t save during it). I wish they just let you save anywhere because of things like that.

It seems this was awarded “Game of the Year”. I did enjoy it, and I’ve still been playing it well after beating it, but I’m not sure if it deserves that quite yet. When it gets its updates and is polished up maybe. I look forward to re-playing the story when it has the patches. And I hope they stop the flying car from exploding and giving me game overs.

The Eighth Day Brotherhood

The Eighth Day Brotherhood

I received a free copy of this book.

(Spoilers within)

As usual these days, it’s been a few days since I actually finished reading the book.

“The Eighth Day Brotherhood” is essentially about several characters and their connections to a series of murders by a cult. If you’re weak to any sort of gore, you may not want to continue.

The first murder is of a male model, who is brutally disfigured and then propped up in a public area with his eyes burnt out and wings attached to his body, in order to replicate Icarus. His lover, Remy, is distraught and determined to find the killer, but the 1800’s isn’t a place that’s very accepting or understanding place for gay lovers or occult bookstore owners.

The police are suspicious of him, but while that’s happening more bodies show up the next morning. Remy sneaks off to do his own investigation.

Meanwhile, we also follow Claude, a drunken, daydreaming artist who is captivated by one of the mental patients at an insane asylum. His father, a famous painter, passed away and he’s since been raised and trained by a friend of his father, Baltard. Baltard is another well-known painter, but his style of painting is out of fashion now. Still, they’re wealthy and famous, and he’s doing his best to train Claude to be a good painter.

I’m not sure how much I’ll have to say about this book because I didn’t take many notes. I didn’t have to make notes about mistakes or anything. As far as the downside, I think I can say mostly two things.

One: The book switches between points of view fairly often. The sections are separated, but it’s not a new chapter each time. I understood this after a bit, but because of how it started like this I became confused initially, and some of that confusion carried over throughout the book. We see the point of view of the culprit first. When we switch to Claude’s view, I thought he was the messenger because I thought it was going back and forth. I kept thinking that for quite a while.

Two: Sometimes the language is a bit flowery for me. I’m more of a short, concise person, honestly. I wouldn’t say it’s overbearing, though.

Other than that, I really didn’t have any issues. Well, I suppose maybe I had an issue with the bad guy. It can be very hard to write smug, insane bad guys without making it seem like they’re evil for the sake of being evil for the plot. He had some backstory to him, but I never felt like it was overly convincing why he and the others all partook in the murders. It was basically like a bunch of people taking a Ouija board way too seriously.

I enjoyed the plot and following different characters. The book definitely covers the unfair treatment of woman, with two lead female characters who have lost everything for one reason or another, and are basically kept like prizes for men. The insane asylum is essentially a prison for women who didn’t have anyone who would stand up for them, and they’re used and abused on a whim. Even the model who works in the wealthy home of Baltard is there because ‘he had to have her’. I don’t believe we ever even learn her real name, because he couldn’t pronounce it and just called her the name of the town she’s from.

I think, in one way, the ending was my favorite part, and I’ll spoil that here. After the The Eighth Day Brotherhood slaughters, mutilates, and displays the corpses of many models in their futile quest for immortality and finding another world, they’re readily forgotten quickly as soon as their caught. Considering their quest to make themselves so important and eternal, I think it was the most suitable punishment for them to bear – being gone and forgotten like a few grains of sand on the beach, easily replaced by the next scandal that comes up. I wish this was the sort of message that more criminals got.

If the concept is appealing to you and you don’t mind gruesome murders, I think it would be worth a look.

I give it a 9/10.

Angel’s Wings

Angel’s Wings

I received a free copy of this book.

(Spoilers within)

It’s been a few days since I finished reading the book, so hopefully I remember everything.

One day a young boy turns up on the steps of a church, murdered brutally. Inspector Arthur Harbreak has to solve the crime. But, he’s really a small-town person who doesn’t feel he’s even actually qualified for the job. He asks for help from a longtime friend of his, Doctor Thurston, and they investigate the case together.

In the beginning I wasn’t taken in by the writing style. Not that there were tons of errors or anything was particularly wrong. Something about the style just didn’t draw me in. At first, anyway. That faded the longer I read and I got more into it. I think, perhaps, it was because there was a lot of telling for the set-up instead of showing.

The story revolves around the two questioning the residents of the little village and trying to find evidence in a time before forensics were terribly reliable.

In general, there weren’t too many errors. I spotted some, but not enough to be distracting.

Thurston swallowed but keep calm.

…Anthony’s soul was more corrupt then he’d thought.

…creeping stealthy forward…

As if in in anger of her situation…

I usually had a pretty good idea of what was happening, too. I think the one point that confused me was when Harbreak and Thurston were having a meal out together. In the narration it specifically says that Harbreak, who often drinks, wanted to keep his head clear. So I thought he wasn’t drinking or wasn’t drinking as much as he normally would. In the end, though, he was drunk a bit later, and I didn’t really get much of an indication that he was drinking a ton, particularly compared to usual. I got the opposite indication. I think that part could be cleared up a bit more to show that, despite his intentions, he’s continuously drinking more.

Part of it was that just because he was having a drink doesn’t mean he’s getting drunk, especially if he’s used to drinking and has a tolerance for it.

I liked Harbreak and Thurston together. To be honest, I hoped they would end up together. I didn’t mind Anthony, but the relationship between him and Harbreak was mostly in the past, so we get told about it more than we see it.

It was a pretty good read. I’d say that if you find the premise interesting then go for it. I give it a 8/10.

Book Promotions

I’ve received a lot of requests to promote people’s books. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to do them before. I was sent so many and I had no idea how to promote them in a way that I thought would work, nor could I read them all.

However, I have decided to make some exceptions. It’s very simple: If you have a Rafflecopter giveaway to post along with your book, then I’ll post it. The giveaway can’t only be for copies of the book. It doesn’t have to be anything huge – it could be a $5 Amazon gift card or something like that.

Leave a comment with the following information if you want your book promoted:

When I post a promotion, I will include tags for the various traits so that people can easily look them up well after they’re initially posted. I’d like to keep this simple and clean so that people can determine if something piques their interest very quickly.

How to Be a Supervillain: And Love Life Doing It

How to Be a Supervillain: And Love Life Doing It

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

I have to say that reading this book, it might have had more of a disadvantage than others I’ve read. Some might notice that there’s been a decent amount of time between this review and the last one I’ve done. To put it plainly, I’ve had some teeth pulled and have been recovering, on top of other issues. This meant things weren’t getting done the way they usually are, and this is the book I happened to be reading while everything was going on. It took me a while to finish, and even now it’s been a while since I finished it to the time I started writing this review.

That said, I don’t think it’s a bad premise for a book. Generally, there aren’t many errors or anything like that. The artwork in the book is amazing, so major kudos to the artist.

I never quite got into it, though. I think it’s because the book sounded too much like a real self-help book, and was a bit too formulaic. I could see how things would be structured before reading it. Narrator would bring up a problem. Narrator would say that problem doesn’t have to get them down because X. Narrator would give examples of villains who didn’t follow said advice and were okay, or villains who did follow said advice and how it worked for them.

At times the text could have been written for anything. For example, there’s a whole part about dealing with stress. It wasn’t particularly villain-centric, and could have been placed in any self-help book.

I feel like the book missed some golden opportunities and ended up following this pattern. For example, in the beginning of the book it puts the definition of a villain, and then the narrator criticizes the definitions. The narrator tell about how villains have a message for the world and their actions are only considered ‘bad’ based on societal norms. But this leaves open some things that could have been addressed by the narrator. If he doesn’t like the current definition, how would he define it?

Also, in an example he gives, there’s someone who is for animal rights, and therefore does things to try and bring attention to this message. If the narrator considers this a noble cause, and essentially the basis for the actions is ‘good’, why the narrator then identify as a villain instead of a hero? I feel like this is another thing that could have been addressed that wouldn’t have followed the formula used throughout the rest of the book.

While the idea is good, this would be a tricky book to write without falling into a pattern that felt safe like that. Maybe now that it’s fully written, the author could look at it again and find more ways to add variety in the way it’s presented. I think being stuck in this genre held the book back, but it doesn’t have to. This guy is a villain, he’s there to break the rules! Have him break the rules of how self-help books are written and add something new and different.

I give it a 6/10. It may entertain some people, and there wasn’t anything particularly ‘wrong’ with it, but early on I found myself waiting to see the same pattern.



I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

There’s something I’ve been meaning to say about books for a while that I don’t think I’ve gotten to yet. Present tense immediately takes me out of a story. I’ve had many books that I’ve read where I had this problem. It’s jarring to me. I would read a part, put it down, and come back the next day not thinking about it and be rattled when I read the first few words and remembered, “Oh yeah, present tense”. I don’t think present tense has worked for me in any book, but it was an especially odd choice in this one when it’s supposed to take place a long time ago.

As I said, this isn’t so much just a “this book thing”. It’s bothered me a lot of times while reading different novels, but when I wrote the reviews for them I never got around to mentioning it because other things would come up that were more important. So, why am I mentioning it here? Well, because I actually really liked this book so I don’t have much more criticism for it. It was well-paced, kept me interested and I cared about the characters. I don’t have much interest in historical stories, but a good story is a good story (and it’s not the first novel based on historical events that I’ve liked, either, even though it’s not my personal interest).

Sebastien is a spy pretending to work at a printers’ shop while infiltrating revolutionary meetings. The problem is, while he’s interested in justice and avoiding bloodshed, he doesn’t know which side he agrees with more. He feels sympathy for the revolutionaries and their plight, though he still intends on doing his job.

While working, he pays prostitutes to give him details about the clients that meet and abuse them. One particularly prostitute, Zephine, gives him a detailed description about a man that not only horribly abuses her, but the other girls, too. He’s known only as ‘Teacher’. Sebastien takes the sketch to his superior, Allard, though his superior doesn’t seem interested in getting sidetracked from their main mission of preventing another war.

Nothing seems particularly abnormal – though Sebastien feels sympathy for the prostitutes, their plight is all too common, and even people who feel sorry for them often do little more than that. Even the prostitutes themselves sometimes defend the men who abuse them, knowing they can’t get much better anywhere else.

Then Zephine turns up dead, with a pamphlet similar to the one that Sebastien drew his sketch on stabbed into her chest with a message. Sebastien is determined to find her killer, but his life is plagued with its own problems. He lost his daughter, and the relationship between he and his wife is severely strained. They choose not to even live together anymore. On the other hand, Sebastien also has someone else who he is passionate about, though he wants to stay away because he still cares for his wife.

I liked the way relationships were handled in this. Sebastien’s wife, Marie, is not evil. Often times when there’s a relationship that isn’t working out, one partner will be painted like they’re the spawn of the devil. That isn’t the case here. They’re both flawed, and dealing with the death of their daughter was too much for them. They still care about each other, but at times they can’t stand to be around each other. Marie suspects there is someone else but, frankly, this is a time when there was little women could do about it.

Trying to solve a murder in a time before modern day forensics is not an easy task. Sebastien has little to go on but a sketch that is now missing. Even then, he has no proof the person in the sketch even was the killer. He recruits the help of an old, close friend, Gilbert, and they scour the city looking for clues, listening to gossip, talking to prostitutes, infiltrating meetings and tracking down men who had seen Zephine.

All the while, Sebastien isn’t even positive if he can trust his superior officer. He wants to, he believes him, but the sketch he created disappeared from Allard’s desk, and there aren’t many who would have known it was there. Allard, on the other hand, recognized the face in the sketch and is greatly concerned about who their suspect may be.

The story is well-written with just a few small errors I ran into. The characters are fleshed out, and I did want to know what happened to Zephine and why. There are a lot of people involved, and while I was generally able to keep track of where they were and what was going on, once in a while I would get a little lost. There’s a lot of developed characters, but many we don’t spend too much time with, too. I felt like I knew the prostitutes that Sebastien spoke to, but several of the revolutionaries were mostly names. I wouldn’t really say to change it, because I don’t need a fifty page backstory about every character he talks to, and it’s easier to go with the flow of the story and figure that I knew they were a revolutionary and I didn’t need much more info than that.

I remember in particular that Gilbert was looking for Benoit, and I was trying to remember how his name came up as a suspect and couldn’t. I’m positive it was in the book, but there are so many groups and people they speak to that it’s easy to forget details.

Someone who is sensitive may want to skip this book. There is a rape scene, and it’s very uncomfortable to read (as a rape scene should be). It also doesn’t brush around the fact that many of the people live wretched lives full of abuse, rape and starvation. Many people are missing teeth because they sold them, it isn’t uncommon to see bruises, and more and more people are falling from higher positions and trying to survive in the slums. Even small children are not only working, but offering to help find people prostitutes for money. The prostitutes themselves are barely surviving, with nothing to guarantee that they won’t be murdered or brutalized that day because they’re easily replaceable to their pimp. And yet he’s better than what they will find elsewhere.

If you can handle that sort of read, I would recommend it. It kept me interested throughout, and it’s one of the books that, after a couple of days, I sat down and finished off the rest of it instead of reading a chapter a day.

I give it a 10/10.

Nadia’s Heart

Nadia’s Heart

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

It’s been a few days since I finished reading this last book, but I believe I remembered everything I wanted to say.

First off, there are some interesting ideas and strong visuals. When I picture Georgeonus in metal armor and hover-skates, with a metallic voice (even though he technically doesn’t speak), it’s an image I like. The idea of having a main character who is missing a heart is a good plot point. It makes one wonder what’s up with that. Another unusual thing for this book that I don’t often see is the voices. Some characters are literally voices and nothing else.

It has a strong, unique magical atmosphere to it that I think could be really great, and I liked those bits about it, but I think there are some problems that got in the author’s way.

First, dialogue. I have a strong feeling the author feels uncomfortable or unsure about writing dialogue, or maybe doesn’t enjoy it. There are lengthy parts where no one says anything. Conversations tends to be short or even overlooked.

Here’s an example: The main character, Nadia, is going to fly away from a castle she’s being held hostage in. She’s instructed to take someone with her, so she goes to the kidnapped children and picks one to take with her.

He was a boy of about five-well, all right then, six. She had been corrected by him as fast as a whip.

We don’t get to hear his first line of dialogue. As a matter of fact, we don’t get any dialogue between them as she picks him out of the kids and leaves.

We get a description of him, and they leave, and then this.

The boy insisted he was not cold. Indeed, his brows furrowed defensively at the accusation. Nor was he afraid, he said, since he was the son of Jasper.

We don’t hear Nadia ask him if he’s cold. We don’t hear the boy deny it. We just get told that this happened, and because of this I had trouble connecting to the characters. It was like being told about their personalities instead of witnessing it in action.

They spend an extensive amount of time traveling, which was another issue. As soon as Nadia meets Georgeonus and goes with him, it feels like constant travel for almost the entire book, which leads to lengthy descriptions of everywhere they’re going. From when they start they hardly talk. It’s just travel travel travel, and Nadia doesn’t know what’s going on and then they travel more and she doesn’t know what’s going on. She and Georgeonus don’t say much to each other and they do very little together, so it’s hard to feel any connection. Same with Richard, the boy she takes later. The book takes much more time talking about the places they’re going than developing the characters. There’s little explanation for what’s going on, either, so it was easy to get lost.

The last thing that created a problem for me was the lack of transitions. This can be a little hard to explain, but I’ll try.

So, at one point they’re taken hostage in a castle. Nadia finds Georgeonus, who is hurt. He tells her to take his armor and leaves. She’s been next to his body as he’s lying down and taking off his armor, so she must be sitting or on her knees. Then, she’s putting the skates on, and she can’t be standing up when she’s doing that, either.

She obeyed. She carefully brushed the dirt from her feet, and then felt them surrounded by warm plush. They were too big, but the buckles kept them fastened around her ankles. When Nadia looked down she lost her balance and fell.

See the problem? Sentence one, two and three, she should be sitting down and putting on skates. Sentence four she’s suddenly falling over, with nothing between those two things to say that she had changed positions. There was no transition between her sitting and her standing up, so I spend the whole paragraph imagining her on her butt and suddenly she’s falling over.

There’s another point that Nadia and Georgeonus are flying over sleds going up a mountain path. She falls and lands on a sled. Because of the force of the fall the sled sways and Nadia is worried about going over the cliff. I’m picturing them going up a steep cliff, a girl falling into their sled, the sled being pushed towards the cliff and swaying because of the force of her fall, and then… She sits on the supplies and it starts talking about where the dogs are going. I suppose it says “They rolled away from the cliff”, but I never felt like it said anything about the sled correcting itself after a being shoved to one side, so I had still been picturing an uneven weight distribution. This sort of thing happened a lot to me in the story.

Also, a girl just fell from the sky into their sled. You’d think this would warrant someone saying something, but it doesn’t. No one says anything about this, including Nadia.

So, there’s interesting stuff going on here. It’s just hard to keep track of in the constant traveling with no explanations, characters not saying anything, and sometimes feeling like a detail was left out between sentences. Particularly the seemingly missing dialogue in spots made it feel as if the book hadn’t been completed – as if the author was planning to go back later and put that in.

And I would like to see that. I feel like the author has something unique here. Maybe find a beta reader, or someone who can help point out which parts drag on or get confusing. It had a promising start, and then it focused too much on one thing without fleshing out other aspects. There’s good tidbits that want to come through – for example, Nadia is asked where her parents are. She doesn’t know, but she realizes she hasn’t even thought about it, which is weird. Most people would wonder what happened to their parents and she actually wonders why she hasn’t. The book needs more things like that, where I actually get some insight to how a character thinks, feels or acts, instead of a series of things happening. I hope to see more it re-worked a bit in the future.

I give it a 6/10.

The Sweet Ones

The Sweet Ones

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

This is another case of ‘I finished reading a while ago but I didn’t have time to write a review’. But this was a very short story and I remember it fairly well.

I’m neither for nor against the zombie apocalypse genre. I think a zombie story can be done very well, but I don’t get the current zombie craze. This was like a snippet of a zombie story.

The main protagonist is a small child named Tommy. He’s about five, and traveling with his mother, who is only called “Mother” (fair enough, it probably would be the only name a child that young would know her by) and a man named Bill. They’re being chased by zombies, or ‘sweet ones’, so they’re driving away hoping to find someplace safe. They eventually come upon a house that they decide to try and barricade.

Some soldiers also happen to come to the same house later, and as a small group they try to defend it when the zombies get there. That’s essentially the entirety of the story, leaving out the details of exactly what happens.

Before the soldiers arrive, Bill has been injured. Naturally, when the soldiers do show up they assume that his injury is from a zombie. They manage to argue for Bill to stay. “Mother” scratches her leg every now and then and I already knew what was going to happen. That isn’t to say there wasn’t any tension – this story paints some pretty frightening zombies. Not because they’re super fast or anything, but because they’re smart. They know to do things like reach inside of a door and turn the knob, or climb up and break in the second floor of a home.

That made me wonder how they had even survived this long. These zombies tracked them for miles and miles, got to the exact house they stopped at, and then proceeded to attempt various methods of getting in. If they knew the zombies could do this I’m not sure why they would bother stopping at anything other than a fortress. Mother and Bill had argued about whether to continue or not, and it seems like the only wise thing to do would be to check for supplies and continue. Your average home isn’t going to be that secure when it comes to intruders that have no reason to fear to police or anyone else from stopping them.

Zombies make it into the kitchen because someone forgot to lock the door and one of the soldiers is killed. They barricade off that part of the house as best the can, then they hear something upstairs, and a soldier goes to clean up the upstairs rooms. All the while Bill is barely able to move because of his injury but tries to help and Mother keeps scratching her leg.

Tommy is left wondering if they’re going to be able to keep ‘the bad people’ out. It is a tense situation (which, again, left me wondering how they survived this long if zombies are this resourceful, but I guess I can assume some people must have gotten lucky). The writing is fine and I was wondering if they were going to make it.

The biggest question for me was the ending. Not that I don’t get what it was going for. Tommy is scared, and Mother hugs him to comfort him. Then she turns and bites him. The soldiers have to kill her and, because he’s bitten, they kill Tommy, too. Bill’s injury was the red herring, and while they were busy arguing whether it was okay to keep him around it turned out Mother was the one bitten the whole time. I wasn’t surprised by that, I saw it coming the second she scratched her leg.

I didn’t get her motivation. Did she not know she was bitten somehow? It seems like it would be hard to miss. If she knew and hid it, why? She knew she was going to be near Tommy and that she’d end up killing him that way. Was it part of the disease that she felt the urge to hide it until she could eat them? Her actions seem to be protective of him before she turns, so I’m not sure if that’s it.

With how short the story is we don’t get to know the characters very well or understand their motivations. I’m not even sure why Bill is traveling with them. I’m guessing they met up at some point, but maybe they knew each other before the zombie break out.

It’s not bad. If all you’re looking for is to read a short, desperate struggle, you would probably enjoy it. It’s not long enough to get indepth with the characters it introduces. It doesn’t stand out in any particular way to me, but I wasn’t bored. I think it could be pretty good with some editing, and perhaps extending it. For me it needed more to it. With the short length of the novel most of the characters were little more than names and I was left wanting more explanation.

I give it a 6/10.



I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

I actually finished this book maybe a week ago, but I was too busy to write the review, so my memory won’t be as fresh for this one as most.

The first thing I noticed going into this book was the formatting. I tried not to let it taint my view, but it interrupted the flow of the story. No page breaks, awkward paragraph breaks, page numbers, the book title and author name inserted in the middle of sentences, etc.

Normally, I don’t include pictures, but I think it’s important to show this:

When I started the book and there was suddenly a number after a sentence, I thought I had gotten to a new chapter. I was confused until I realized that it was supposed to be a page number, even though it appeared in the middle of a page.

Now, to the actual book. Remedy has lost his parents, is now being raised by his grandparents, and because of the pain he was going through he accepted a demon. The book could be good at times at showing painful situations, but I did feel the plot was weak. Mainly, I never felt convinced that Remedy had a good reason to accept the demon. The demon just approached him weirdly at a funeral and told him to let him enter him to take the pain away. There was nothing about it that was particularly convincing.

As a matter of fact, I would say that the demon did very little trying to convince him at all.

“It hurts, doesn’t it?” he asked. He had a deep raspy voice that didn’t fit his figure. He was a tall slender man somewhere in his 60’s.
Remedy didn’t reply. Tears waited on the edge of his eyes and the smallest push would send him to his knees weeping.
“You know that pain in your chest that reaches down into your gut?”
“What do you want?” Remedy asked with tears falling down to his shirt.
“I can take your pain away,” he said. “All of it.”
“Give me permission to enter you.”
“What?” Remedy asked, taken aback.
The corners of the old man’s lips rose in a smile. “I promise you, the pain you feel will be gone and you will live without that sorrow, if you let me into you.”
“What? No.”

Here I cut out a part where the demon stands around while Remedy has a flashback about his family.

“Make it stop,” he breathed with the last air in his hurting lungs.
“Let me in.”
Remedy tried forcing another inhale but still couldn’t.
The absence of air set his chest on fire. He felt like he would implode at any moment.
“Please,” Remedy croaked.
“Let me in,” the man hissed.
“Okay, okay, just make it stop,” Remedy pleaded.
“Do I have permission?”

The demon didn’t really do anything. He just sort of stood around and forcefully said, “Let me in”, something that isn’t particularly impressive. It’s much more likely that someone would continue to tell him to go away because he’s annoying and being insensitive. There wasn’t anything about it that felt like it made sense for Remedy to do.

So the book had some creativity with torture, but I thought the plot and characters were lacking. Chapter titles like “A KNIFE TO MEET YOU” didn’t seem to fit the bleak atmosphere of the book, either.

There are about five characters besides the demon. I wasn’t big on Remedy, because he had a lot of negative thoughts about other people, which didn’t make him fun to be around. Vernon is his grandfather, who turns out to be an abusive Bible thumper. Mary is his wife, who I can’t say much about besides she puts up with him and seems to be a bit nicer. Harmony is the girl he has a crush on, who I can’t say a lot about, either. Grace is her protective sister, who is painted in a bad light because she’s protective but she’s probably the best character in the book. We don’t see enough of most of them to form an attachment.

When Vernon is first introduced, Remedy seems to have happy memories of visiting him, but once we find out he’s a Bible thumper he turns into nothing else. We never see the side that Remedy seems to have better memories of. Mary seems to exist because he’s required to have a wife.

Harmony exists to be a love interest, and Grace exists to get in the way. The characters all felt like they were playing those exact parts and didn’t have much more to them.

There was another smaller thing that was bothering me.

“Remedy,” something spoke. The voice was more like a hiss rather than a solid sound.

“Let me in,” the man hissed.

“Honey,” the demon hissed.

It kept saying ‘hiss’, but then there weren’t any “S’s”. Normally I’ll brush off this sort of thing, but it happened a few times so it distracted me.

Eventually, the demon possesses Remedy’s body and starts using him. He never feels scary. This was actually the part of the book where I almost wanted to roll my eyes, because the demon senses that Harmony is a virgin and, of course, tries to rape her. I just sighed at that part, especially because there’s nothing in the book that suggests the demon would even care. It’s just there because ‘demon’, and that’s supposed to be a good enough excuse.

I will say that considering the plot of the rest of the book, I do sort of like the ending. I think it could have used more explaining – we get hints in the book, but we also get things that contradict those hints. I’m going to explain the ending here so if you don’t want that part spoiled then skip the next paragraph.

In the end, it turns out he’s been possessed for a long time and has been locked up in a mental hospital when he finally wakes up. This is hinted at as he goes through his possession and other versions of himself that he meets imply that he’s been stuck there for a long time. However, while he’s going through the torture in his mind, he also feels things that happen on the outside. When his body gets stabbed his shoulder hurts. So, they say he’s been there for a long time, and at the same time he feels things that are happening when Harmony and the others are fighting his possessed self, which would indicate that it’s happening at that time, not far into the future.

So, in the end, I didn’t feel a strong attachment to this book. I didn’t get a strong sense of characterization from anyone, and the plot seemed to exist as a backdrop for torture scenes. I think the ideas need a lot more work.

I give it about a 5/10.

The Corrupted Kingdom

The Corrupted Kingdom

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

This is a short story, only about 12,000 words, so this will probably be a fairly short review.

That said, I really liked this story. The Prologue didn’t catch me. It’s only two pages, but I thought there were too many questions in the narrative in it (“When the mind-shattering images manifest with claws and teeth and repressed emotions, what good is a blade or axe? If the power we possess could subdue it, would we not have slain it in our sleep, when all the world’s laws and possibilities were at our command” etc etc).

However, that was a short part, and I really liked the first chapter – or “Part 4”, as it’s labeled. I think the dialogue between the boy and the woman is done very well, with the boy being a skeptic and demanding logic, and the woman having seen horrors and insisting that there are things people don’t yet understand, but they exist regardless of our understanding them or not. Both of their opinions make sense for their characters.

Now, the story is sort of told backwards, with the first chapter being the end and the last chapter being the start. I glanced at some reviews beforehand and knew this was going to happen, and I wasn’t sure how well it would work. I think it worked for the most part, perhaps because it is a short enough story that you’re only piecing together a few chapters. If it was much longer it would probably get too confusing.

One thing it did do was that I got confused about which character was in one of the chapters. At first I thought it was ‘the leader’, but when I double checked I realized she was someone else. Because names are often avoided in a lot of it, and it’s so short that characters only have a small amount of time, it was an easy mix-up to make.

Even so, in their brief moments I did feel something for the characters. Cynthia, for example, only appears in one chapter and dies during it, so we have very little time with her. However, the way she acts in that brief time says a lot about her. I did feel bad that she died. Taj, on the other hand didn’t get quite as much so I didn’t feel as bad about that one.

I think where the story excels is in creating terrifying situations for the characters. There really is a feeling that they have little chance of escape. Sometimes I couldn’t quite picture what was happening. For example, the leader where’s a strange helmet that’s mentioned a lot, but I’m not sure exactly what it looked like. There was something about it having a ridiculously long neck and two faces. It left me having a little trouble imagining what she looked like.

I can understand why that would happen in a book like this. When you’re trying to describe something nightmarish, something that wouldn’t really make sense, it can be hard to express it in a way that would give everyone a clear image without going into a tedious amount of details, so I chalked it up to, “she has a weird helmet” and continued on. But for the most part, I think it did a good job of dropping the reader into an improbable world with characters we would barely know, and then creating an intense situation. It was able to take something as simple as “a woman is following me” and make it scary. Not every single one worked for me – I don’t find stalagmites that frightening – but I could get what it was going for and some others might find stalagmites forming into the shape of a mouth unnerving.

I think the author could expand a lot on this concept. Right now it looks like this is his first time publishing, and I really enjoyed it. I hope he does do some more. I like a good horror and I like fantasy/medieval settings, and this was a nice mixture of both for me. And, for people looking for it, for what short time they had, I felt it had a strong set of female characters, too.

It kept me fascinated throughout, so I’m going to give it a 10/10.