Ariella and the Blood Curse

Ariella and the Blood Curse

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

(Spoilers within)

This particular book was written by a father and daughter team, so before getting to the book I would like to congratulate the daughter on writing. It’s good to see a father encouraging and helping his daughter out, and regardless of how the review turns out I do hope she keeps writing. What she writes at fourteen and what she writes at twenty-four will be very different, and skills can only be honed through practice.

That said, I will be reviewing the book as it stands on its own, because in the end no matter the age of one of the authors the product will be judged based on its quality. Its what you have to prepare for when you publish.

The basic story of this book isn’t too unfamiliar. It follows a young girl in a fantasy world as she joins a group of powerful fighters. I’ve seen a few books like this. Whereas most books like this spend half of the book just getting the main character into the group, Ariella joins her group relatively quickly in this one and the plot revolves more around a blood curse that is poisoning all of the crops.

I do think the book missed some opportunities. When Ariella first ended up in a “Knot” with Eleazar, I thought it would have been cute if she had said that growing up with her brothers had prepared her for it, especially since her brothers had been so over the top. Eleazar isn’t the first annoying boy that she’s dealt with.

I also would have liked her to react to Micah’s personality more. She thought he was cute, which was fine. She had a crush. But no matter what he did that didn’t seem to sway at all. He’s cute, and therefore it doesn’t matter what kind of personality he has. This happens in a lot of novels. I would have enjoyed it if she became disenchanted with him when she finally got to know him. It doesn’t matter how cute someone is, if they’re always frowning they aren’t going to be much fun to be around. I rarely see this done and it would have been nice, especially to acknowledge that personality matters in attraction, too. Plus, if she’s been daydreaming about him, it could really burst her bubble to see that he wasn’t anything like she had imagined.

It doesn’t even mean that she could never like him. She could grow to like him for who he really is, but that’s a lot different than the simple “He’s hot” route.

There was a part where Ariella first met Karlov and she woke up and told him to address her by her title. As it is it seems like the only purpose for this is to cause tension, and there’s no real explanation for it. Not long before she had been telling her captain how it was fine to call her “Ariella” because she wasn’t going to have the title anymore soon, so demanding that someone use her title not long after that seemed to contradict how she was previously. This could have been easily fixed, though. She had just been ‘drugged’ or whatever, and had just woken up. If she had done it because she forgot where she was or was groggy and out of it, that would easily explain why she was suddenly demanding him to use her title. Left as is there’s no real explanation for the sudden shift.

I was waiting for awhile for Ariella to comment on Eugenie’s lack of manners. Being a noble isn’t simply a matter of always doing whatever you want. Imagine for a moment if Ariella’s mother acted like Eugenie did. She wouldn’t be very well respected or liked. Nobility could be considered like medieval politicians, and there are those who are clever and charming and those who greatly fail at being either. The thing is, in a place where being a poor noble could get you assassinated, your reputation would be pretty important. Being a princess, Ariella would be well aware of that and is in the best position to comment on it, and it would make sense for her to mention that Eugenie was lacking in the etiquette expected of nobles.

One last thing I had hoped for was when Ariella decided to spy on her mother and the other monarchs during their meeting. I had hoped that she would bring her mother in on it.

There were a lot of errors in this book. Missing periods, capitalization problems, commas and periods used in the wrong places, wrong words, extra spaces… It does need a serious edit because the errors were all over.

All of that said, it was a pretty fun book. The characters were mostly enjoyable. Though there are ten in their Knot the story mostly follows a few of them, which is a good thing. When a book isn’t very long there’s not enough time to develop a ton of characters. I didn’t find myself getting annoyed with Ariella much, and thankfully even though the story starts with her crush on Micah it isn’t the focus of the story. It barely gets mentioned throughout most of the book, which was a relief. Too many books like this have the protagonist obsess over a guy she likes. There was a hint of, “Why doesn’t her opinion of him fluctuate at all?”, but it’s not brought up enough to ruin the reading experience.

The plot was interesting and it didn’t waste too long getting into it. As I mentioned before, most books like this spend a good portion of the time moving their protagonist into the new group, and then they have to start up the plot after their character finally gets there. Because Ariella pretty much goes straight there the plot is able to start up right away. The soil and crops are being fill with blood and all of the food is withering, putting the country in a state of peril as they run low on food. A situation like this would be devastating pretty quickly, so the stakes are high.

Each of the characters get a chance to do something, which is good. There’s never a feeling that one character is standing around doing nothing or letting everyone else think of everything. This is a problem in a lot of books, especially books with female protagonists, where they’ll wait for everyone else to make the decisions. It didn’t feel like the extreme opposite, either, where Ariella was the only one capable of doing anything. It struck a good balance.

The book also did another good thing. Though it’s a series, it didn’t just stop in the middle of the plot. It wrapped up the plot for that book and carried onto the next thing. Too many authors these days think writing a series means writing one story, chopping it up and then selling it separately. To me that’s like chopping up a single fruit and calling it a fruit salad.

Each book should have a satisfying conclusion for that book and there should be a good reason for it to be separate from the rest. This book had a comfortable beginning, middle and end even though there’s clearly more to wrap up in the future.

I would be interested in seeing what happens in the next book in the series. I hope the problems in the first book get cleaned up.

I give it a 7/10.

The Gertrude Threshold

The Gertrude Threshold: A Novella

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

(Spoilers within)

The Gertrude Threshold is about the life of one family at the end of the world and what they’re doing at the end. Each chapter focuses on a character and the trial they’re going through, what they’re choosing to do and their thoughts on it.

Sometimes I got lost because it bounces back and forth between times and I would start reading a section not knowing if it was what was happening ‘now’ or if it happened ten years ago. It was also very verbose, which some may like but isn’t my personal preference in writing styles. It could completely lose me at times.

There was also a time when a man hunted down Ellen and I was just wondering why and how. How did he know where to find her when she’d been somewhere completely unexpected for over an hour, and then was wandering around? How did this man who is starving to death have so much energy to even do this? This is a time when everyone could be dying in an hour or two, they’ve been starving for a long time and are weak and covered in burns and such. I just felt weird that he tracked her down in a place where so many got lost during this whole story, and he didn’t know her or where she stayed exactly.

I’ll also admit I was confused on the setup of their place. I get that they were underground, but I had a hard time picturing exactly where she stayed in comparison to people like the thug. It sounded like they were separated – and the enforcer yells at her asking why she’s in the same area as him and such – but then it didn’t feel like it with him going down the same path she did when she was on her way home.

The voice for the child characters also fluctuated between sounding too juvenile to too adult. (Ky (5) thinking, “The boom-booms had gone away”, which sounds more like a toddler. On the other hand, a girl about a year older than him saying, “The whole universe was breaking in two”, which sounds a bit old for her.)

The overall writing was good and the formatting of the book was fine. The worldbuilding, besides having confusion about things like placement, was solid. I knew exactly what was happening to the world and what kind of conditions the people were living in.

Oddly, I think the character I liked the most is Brandon. In the beginning he says he hates his five year old grandson, Ky. But at the same time he’s the only one there with Ky throughout this entire book. His mom has left to go to ‘Church’, and after that she wanders around and goes other places. His dad left to talk with a ‘client’ he has a crush on, and then does some drugs and stuff. You can understand why they’re having issues considering the world is ending, but the cranky old grandpa is the one who stays with him, and despite his assertions that he didn’t like him it feels like he still has standards. When the earthquake and such are happening, and his weakened body is being broken even more, he holds onto Ky, despite wanting to let go and just die.

The Gertrude Threshold is probably more realistic about what an apocalypse would look like than most books. People weren’t able to fashion out enough space underground for everyone. Only a few had ‘compartments’. People are starving to death, even those who had come from wealthy origins. People are covered in sunburns, ash, and supplies are just about out for everyone. From the start I got the sense that the characters were going to die and there wasn’t anything they could do to magically fix it. It was just a matter of how many hours they had left and what would get them first. This might be too depressing for some, but if it’s the type of book that grabs you then this is a good book to check out.

I give it a 7/10.

Einstein’s Beach House: Stories

Einstein’s Beach House

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

(Spoilers within)

This short collection of stories is a lot darker than it sounds in the summary. Though the overall setups can be on the ridiculous side, they were really more morbid than funny. For example, one of the setups is that a girl is visiting hospitals with her dad, and the people he’s ‘treating’ are dying shortly after. Another has a woman with a pet hedgehog who becomes obsessed with caring for the hedgehog, driving her lover over the edge as she screams at him for every perceived slight against the hedgehog (for example, when they discover light might be upsetting the hedgehog, she screams at him when he opened the refridgerator because it has a light inside of it). While the basic setps of “depressed hedgehog” or “a custody dispute over a turtle” sound ludicrous, they’re played straight with exes holding onto pets just for petty revenge or someone having a mental breakdown. Some people might find this material uncomfortable because a lot of it involves the breakdown of someone’s life, sometimes losing everything they have.

Another story involves a girl whose stepfather killed her mother, and shows her growing up with very obvious problems until finally, in the end, she’s she’s grown and obviously still suffering. She’s taken advantage of and sexually exploited from the time she’s young. If this is something that would be a sensitive topic for you, then you shouldn’t read this book. I would say the stories are far more on the heartbreaking side than hilarious side, despite how they sound summarized.

With that said, the author is pretty good at setting up a scenario in a short amount of time. The stories usually focus on two people and sets up a conflict quickly – for example, a couple of them revolve around someone having a pet, and one partner is far more interested in the welfare of the pet than the other.

The writing is pretty good and it’s easy to get into the stories.

There were a few parts that needed some corrections.

Lizzie bargained mutely with a god she didn’t actually believe in, offering up all aspects of model citizenship if the sex offender didn’t open the door…
…Yet, a second later, Lizzie’s prayers were answered by a chorus of multiple deadbolts unlocking.

It read funny to me because that would be her prayers not getting answered. Perhaps the story was being sarcastic, but it didn’t come through for me when I read it. I immediately looked back up to the previous sentence to make sure I had read it right.

She seems less chatty than unusual…

There weren’t a lot of spots like that, just a couple. The stories had pretty good starts and middles, but a few felt like they didn’t have an end. They just sort of stopped. Almost like the author had an idea, but then didn’t know how to tie it up. The first two I thought were suddenly over when I was expecting more.

I felt like “The Rod of Asclepius” was one of the most solid overall. “Paracosmos” definitely had me wondering what was true or not, though I had a feeling that the mother shared the same illness as the daughter.

Some of these ideas could have been expanded pretty easily, and a few felt like they should have been. But, my main complaints were that I wanted more from some and a few didn’t have solid endings. Other than that, I see a lot of talent in this author. Descriptions were good, it was easy enough to get into the stories, and most of the situations were understandable even when they were extreme. If some quick glimpses into the lives of people as they’re pushed to their limits sounds interesting to you, then take a look at it.

I give it an 8/10.

The Gift of the Quoxxel

The Gift of the Quoxxel

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

(Spoilers within)

“The Gift of the Quoxxel” is a very light-hearted and silly tale. There are two POVs: some chapters follow King Norr, and others follow Captain Gadd, the pirate.

Before I get into the story, I’d like to comment on the formatting. I usually don’t mention it, but this book is put together exceptionally well. Each chapter has a fancy header, many have a vibrant illustration at the end, there are links within the story that lead to a glossary explaining unusual words, and there are even music sheets with lyrics linked. It’s obvious the author has put a lot of time and care into this and it looks wonderful.

If I were to suggest additions as a reader, I would say to add links back in the footnotes. Sometimes I accidentally hit a link when I was flipping pages, and I’d have to go find my place again. This would take more work with some words that are linked more than once, but I think it would be worth it. There were times when I skipped the notes simply because there might be five links on a page, and I knew that I would have to bookmark the page and browse back to it each time. The extra time it took doing that would mess up the pace of the story. A quick return link on the note itself would fix that.

As for the story itself, it’s very whimsical. To get the cons out of the way first, there were times that I was confused. Confusion mostly came from events happening suddenly without much explanation. For example, at one part Captain Gadd was being hung off the ship. And then he was on board the ship again and being cut free. I really wasn’t sure what happened to get him from position A to B. This is common throughout the book. An example:

“His roundness is a contributing factor,” Dingley added, “not unlike a pearl.”
“Yes!” the king concurred. “Uncle Fenwad has pearl-like attributes. No doubt we’ll find the two together in the same spot.”
“I’m sure he’s somewhere,” said Vayla. “He’s very introverted, so it’s difficult to say.”
“SOMEWHERE could be ANYWHERE,” Norr was getting frustrated.
“The pearl is not at the bottom of the stairs,” Dingley emerged out of breath from the stairwell, “but we did find Uncle Fenwad.”

It never says Dingley is going downstairs to check, he just suddenly has. In this case it was easy to figure out that he went downstairs, but other times actions aren’t mentioned and it’s harder to decipher what happened. There’s also another part where Bink meets Pearl, and is surprised that she can talk. However, he’s only just met her, so I wasn’t sure why that surprised him.

It also does need some editing. There were many places that were missing commas in particular.

Besides that, the story is cheerful and bright, full of quips and colorful (literally on some pages). It’s full of humor and clever jokes. Even the glossary has jokes. Some excerpts I liked:

“Yes, yes! Parents! Urgent!” the king motioned to Dingley. “Reminder — “Norr dictated, “leash law for children … question mark … feasibility.”
“Right!” Dingley scribbled officiously.
“Footnote,” added the unsmiling Vayla. “Muzzle law for government officials… hyphen … inevitability!!
(There is a missing quote at the end.)

“I’m Queen Vayla, dear. What is your name?” The little girl did not respond, occupied as she was making faces in a mirror.
“Apparently no name,” the king noted. “Very suspicious.”
“No doubt a criminal,” the queen joked.
“Diabolically disguised as a little girl,” Norr scrutinized.

For the moment, he would dismiss the prospect of gabthrax, eager mouth syndrome, and two annoying monkeys chattering in a nearby tree. Regrettably, he knew, one of them was probably his daughter.

“Have you never had the need for defense against hostile outsiders?” Gadd was intrigued.
“Neither insiders nor outsiders,” Norr said. “The freckled tsentaflods do get cantankerous from time to time but we’ve never found it necessary to explode one.”

“SHUT IT!” Crippen thundered. “How’s a man to mutiny proper with merry moppets mucking about?”

As you can see, there’s quite a few of them. The book is full of quips. I was interested to see what would happen when King Norr and Gadd finally met, and there definitely was a lot of fun in the story.

If you read the quotes above and enjoyed them, you would probably love this book, and I’d recommend taking a look at it. It’s also good to note that I don’t think there was anything in here that would be inappropriate for younger audiences. The characters are generally good-natured, and there isn’t much in terms of violence. It might be hard for small kids to understand because of the jargon, but I bet a teenager would get a kick out of this.

I give it a 8/10.


Roastmaster (A Coffee Novel)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(There will be spoilers).

I’ll have to admit, the style of this novel wasn’t quite for me, though it might work for other people. If you read the beginning and enjoy it, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the book.

The changing of tenses was jarring for me. Not only did chapters switch from past tense to present tense, but then there would also be a spattering of “this would happen, that would happen” thrown in there. Sometimes we’d start a chapter with Capri sitting around in present tense and suddenly be talking about something she did last week/month/year. I get what the author was going for with “Capri” being the current story and “John Mallory” being the story from the past, but I wish the tenses had been kept the same.

If this book were a piece of art, I’d say it’s an “abstract painting”. Sometimes things make sense in it, and other times it has the most bizarre descriptions of what’s going on. With how often Machu was described as having a big round head like the moon I could have easily pictured moon from Majora’s Mask sitting atop his neck.

There were odd things like, “She looked up as if she saw a morpho blue butterfly” (just an example based on my memory, it might not be written exactly like that). It left me wondering if there’s a specific way people are supposed to look when they see a morpho blue butterfly. At parts it was very confusing.

In much the same way, sometimes the dialogue was very strange and it would be hard to imagine people actually talking like that.

That said, that doesn’t mean this is a bad book. There’s definitely an interesting story there. John Mallory’s transition from American life to life in Costa Rica was done pretty well. I was actually convinced she didn’t want to leave by the end. A lot of the characters are likeable, and they weren’t stuck in a state of “having to do everything right” or “having to do everything wrong”. Everyone was all over the place in doing right and wrong.

My best suggestion would be to read a preview and see if it’s a style you like, because it keeps the same style throughout.

I give it about a 7/10.

Life, Everlasting

Life, Everlasting

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(There will be spoilers).

After finishing the book, I have to say Theresa and Gino make the story for me. Peter is all right. I felt like a lot of his stuff was just there, although there is some payoff at the end.

But Theresa and Gino are great characters. They feel real, and the way they handle their son’s death is portrayed very well. How they treat and feel about each other is realistic, too. They feel like a couple who has been apart much of their life, and who are trying to adjust to living together. While they don’t hate each other or anything, they do have some resentments over their choices. And even though they’re detached from each other there is still a hint of something there.

I liked when Theresa worried that Gino would get upset if she spent money on herself, and being pleasantly surprised when he seemed okay with it. Gino seemed like the type who didn’t talk a lot but he still wanted to support her.

There were parts that offered too many details. For example, discussions about whether to go to X restaurant or Y restaurant. I also never felt like I really knew much about their family in the afterlife. They were mostly a bunch of names for me, while I did get some impressions of the people who were still living.

But overall, I found Theresa and Gino to be great, deep characters going through an incredibly hard situation. I really wanted them to be okay in the end because they both seemed like they deserved it. I liked how they could be detached, but neither was ever portrayed as being horribly wrong or something – they just made some different life choices that the other didn’t agree with.

For example, Gino serving in the military for so long, which kept him away from his family. On the other hand, Theresa constantly letting people mooch off of her and giving away their money. Neither was a bad person but you could understand why they would get irritated.

It’s a touching book. I’d recommend it for anyone who is looking for a somewhat sad story of a family dealing with the grief of a lost son.

I’d give it an 8 out of 10.



I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

I usually don’t comment on the covers, but I will mention I like this cover. I’m a sucker for art.

This is a short but sweet book. Because of its length, I’d say the story revolves more around a concept than developing characters. We fly through certain portions of their lives, being told a lot about what happens rather than shown. If you’re looking for a quick, interesting take on a tragic love story that’s fine. It’s a pretty sweet, innocent love story with an ending that is up for interpretation.

The narration is stilted but I believe that’s done purposefully, to make it sound like it was translated from Japanese. I read Japanese translations all the time so it didn’t really bother me. The dialogue sounded more like a historical manga than a modern one to me, but I don’t pick up a lot of romances so it could just be modeled after a genre I don’t follow.

Honestly, the author could probably take this exact same story and flesh it out into something much bigger. As I mentioned, we get told a lot, so it would be easy to expand on parts and spend a lot more time with the characters. The overall story is pretty solid, and it’s a good concept.

It would be a good book for someone to pick up if they’re looking for a quick, romantic read and don’t mind some sad twists.

I’d give it about an 8 out of 10.

Tackling the Imago

Tackling the Imago

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

This was a very interesting book. Written somewhat like a diary, it follows the story of Gina as she studies English.
I think it’s a great exploration of someone’s psyche. There’s not too much hand-holding – Gina does analyze herself quite a bit, but it’s not done in an unnatural way. She mentions events in her life that have led her to be self-deprecating and desperate for attention. It all makes sense, and in many ways Gina is very relatable. It’s easy to feel for her and root for her.

As a main character, Gina can be amusing and ‘quirky’, but isn’t quirky in a way that feels forced. She expresses a lot of personal thoughts that most people probably have at times, from naughty fantasies to introspection. She can be very humorous and sometimes looks back at her own thoughts and gags when she was being overly melodramatic.

Likewise, her ‘romance’ with D is a breath of fresh air compared to most books. I’ve read a lot of books where the romance can be boiled down to, “I saw him and he was hot, so we’re in love”. In this book a lot of characters take jabs at D’s looks. With the way Gina describes him compared to the way others describe him, you could see a fairly normal looking guy who is attractive to her, and the attraction doesn’t necessarily stem from his looks. She gets a lot of praise from him and they spend time dueling with their wits, to the amusement of both.
A real chemistry is developed between them and built up over the entire span of the book. They both felt like people instead of caricatures who existed to fill a romance quota.

One of the strangest things about this book that I both disliked but understood was the word choices. This book has a bad case of what some would call “thesaurus abuse”. It can take a reader out of a book because it sounds stunted and unnatural, and if you don’t happen to know all the obscure words you either lose the meaning or have to pause to look it up.
Unlike most cases, this actually makes sense for this particular book. The story revolves around characters who are learning English as a second language, and the person writing the entries to ‘practice her English’ mentions things like memorizing words from the dictionary. Someone learning from a dictionary wouldn’t know which words people actually use. Having studied a second language, I can understand that well. Memorizing dialogue or vocabulary doesn’t give you much insight to how people actually speak.

Still, it happens so much that it’s distracting.
For one example, Gina used a word that I’ve never heard anyone say or write before, “simulacrum”. I was curious, “Are people tossing this word about and I just missed it somehow?”, so I looked it up. Google brought up half a million hits. Every single link on the first page was to dictionaries or articles explaining what the word means. Not a single one was people naturally using it in their writing. Other word choices get similar results. “Apotropaic”, “desideratum”, “potvaliancy”… some with far less results than the first example. Every word you’ve never heard of has been dug up from obscurity to make a brief cameo.

The writing style left me confused sometimes. Just as an example of how some parts might be written: Gina might be sitting next to D, go into a metaphorical paragraph about insects or something, and then the next paragraph she’d be running away while ‘pulling her clothes back on’. And I’d be left wondering, “Wait, when did the clothes come off?”

There were also times when the book lingered on something when I was ready to move on. If Gina was anxious about a test I could understand that, but I didn’t necessarily want to read several pages about it.

Overall, it was a good read with a lot of depth to it. It’s a good book to pick up if you’re looking for something different. I give it about a 7 out of 10.

Source of the River

Source of the River

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

This was an overall enjoyable story. I liked the majority of the characters. I think Kaiya stuck out the most for me.

I was surprised the main characters didn’t meet up with the antagonist longer than they did. The part where they cross paths was actually very short, and the rest of the book is essentially telling two different stories: one story where the protagonists are trying to solve a problem and another where the antagonist is trying to gain power. I can see this is building up to a larger battle in future volumes.

Sometimes the story over explained things.

“The nighttime air in the mountains was cool despite it being early summer. She pulled her cloak a bit closer to her skin, but the chill she felt had more to do with her nerves than the weather. She could sense the magic emitting from deep inside the cave and felt compelled to investigate.”

There’s nothing wrong with the paragraph, but we already know the information provided by the last sentence. We’ve been told it several times by this point and it doesn’t elaborate on how chilly the air is, so the last sentence could be removed entirely.
Sometimes it feels like the author wants to make sure she got a certain point across and repeats things like that. This can take away the ‘punch’ behind some lines, though, because sometimes being succinct is better.

“”She has no cause to harm them now,” Kaiya argued. “She must be stopped, peacefully or not.” Her words were true. She would go to any length to prevent another dwarf’s death. She could not bear the sight of another devastated family.”

Like the previous example, we’ve already been told that Kaiya would do anything to stop this, so it doesn’t need repeated. Imagine if this paragraph was shortened down to this:

“”She has no cause to harm them now,” Kaiya argued. “She must be stopped, peacefully or not.””

Let her own words speak for her. Then the power of what she’s saying isn’t dulled by exposition, and the conversation is less spaced out. Or what about this:

“”She has no cause to harm them now.” Kaiya’s eyes lingered on the mourning family. “She must be stopped, peacefully or not.””

In other words, there doesn’t need to be as much hand-holding.

It certainly wasn’t enough to take away from my enjoyment of the story. I can understand why the author did it, but I think it’s something she can look at when she continues writing.

The love stories also didn’t work for me. I didn’t dislike the characters. It’s just that they didn’t know each other for very long, so when they were struggling with being apart it felt a bit forced. If it was something more like, “She was worried about their safety” rather than “She couldn’t bear to be apart from him” it would have worked better for me. They’d only just met so it would have taken a lot more to convince me that they were sick with love.
And it wasn’t that there wasn’t anything for them to love about each other, but it came off more as “She’s pretty, I love her” and vice versa.

I did like the parents in the book. For the brief time River’s dad was around I liked him. I think Darvil is probably one of the more interesting characters in the book. He both expresses a differing opinion and plays a supportive role.

I liked the setup of the dwarven village. There’s only a few places the book concentrated on, and they’re established well.
The writing is very clean and clear. I never found myself confused by anything that was going on.

This is a good read for people who like fantasy, and I can see the next volume(s) building up to a bigger conflict.

I give it about a 8/10.

Time Shifters

Time Shifters: Episode One of the Chronicles of the Harekaiian

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a non-reciprocal review.
(This review will contain spoilers).

Time Shifters is a fairly short story. It does a pretty good job of pulling the reader into its world, where, for Akalya, shifting around through time and space is completely normal.

She and others like her blend into the background as they go through life, but someone is starting to kidnap them, and she decides she should do something to save them.

Akalya is a pretty strong character. I like that she’s a fairly old character, and I also like that she definitely had strong opinions about what she liked. I didn’t feel like she was a blank slate.

She’s pretty realistic in her motivations. On one hand, she doesn’t really know the other Harekaiian all that well. But she feels compelled to save them – not because she has some superb sense of justice, but there’s a layer of problems facing her. One of the captives is someone she’s familiar with and wants to help. She’s also worried about the fact that her people are being kidnapped, and she could be next. There’s also a smaller sense of not wanting to turn her back on them. All of her feelings about it are very understandable.

The way she uses her powers to solve problems is interesting. She has a great advantage over others, but she’s not invincible, and she doesn’t know what tricks the enemy is using.

It was a fun read. It did drag at parts where things got over-described. For example, using her powers makes her hungry and she often stops to eat in the book, but I didn’t need to know exactly what she was eating every time. Sometimes she made mental commentary – like comparing shakes in the late 60’s to modern shakes. Other times it was just a list of food.
I think the other weak spot was when she was with Marcus. We get told more about the time they spent together and don’t get shown too much of it, so the connection we’re supposed to believe they formed during their talk wasn’t as strong as it could have been. I also got a little lost in how he got to where he was. She teleported him back in time, and had him bring her food in another place, but after he brought her food what happened to him?
In the spot where it’s initially described, he kisses her, brings her food, and then is sort of forgotten in the narrative. It doesn’t say he leaves or vanishes or anything. It’s like the book just forgot he was there, and the Akalya travels through time on her own. So wouldn’t he have still been left in that time? I got a bit lost at that part.

It was a nice start for a series though, with a strong lead and an interesting plot.

I give it about an 8/10.