The Lion of Rivers (The River Chronicles Book 1)

The Lion of Rivers (The River Chronicles Book 1)

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

(Spoilers within)

The story starts with Evan, an abused boy who is studying to be a blacksmith in a rural country. A knight passing through sees that he’s being mistreated and offers to take him with him. Evan decides to go, and he and Falcon go traveling together. After that many storylines happen. Sometimes the story follows Evan while he’s trying to survive in the big city. Sometimes it’s following Falcon as he’s sent on another mission. Sometimes it’s following Bailey, who watches over Evan after Evan leaves, and once in a while a different character takes over.

Overall, I liked this story. I like Evan’s evolution as a character. He starts lowly, and by the end he has good reason to have changed and be angry. I like that some characters introduced early on end up coming back. There were some good twists in the story that I liked.

One thing I did notice is that there were errors. What it felt like to me was an author who couldn’t get someone to give it a second lookover, so some noticable errors slipped through.

Even knew there would be no more work today,

Stephen turned to guide and looked down on him,

Memory of where he was, how he got there was slow to return.

Olin’s words haunted him as set out.

He tried to sit up but the ground titled underneath him…

“I was glad when you choose me last night,” she said.

They’re the type of errors that aren’t likely to be caught with a spell checker.

There were both good and bad points with the romances. Evan is learning to become, essentially, an assassin, and he’s given a gold coin to ‘enjoy himself’ out on the town. He goes to a brothel that’s recommended (though he had no idea it was a brothel) and ends up sleeping with one of the girls there. They’re talking about running away together before he even knows her name.

Then, he meets up with her one more time quite a while later. At that point his master decides a woman can get in the way of his training. At first, I thought he would kill her, but I was pleasantly surprised that he decided to go a different route. At this point I like some of the things that happen. He bribes and threatens her, giving her money to leave and also implying that bad things will happen to her if she doesn’t She accepts the bribe and leaves. When Evan finds out that she’s gone, he says:

“I was quite relieved, actually.”

I really, really liked this. For me, that made the relationship work much better. I could believe that he got caught up in the moment and made a stupid promise that he regretted, with a girl he knows nothing about. I also like that she went ahead and left, which seemed like the smart thing for her to do. There is a hint of her seemingly wondering how much she would regret leaving Evan behind, but thankfully it doesn’t dwell on this. She’s a prostitute, and not a new one. She’s seen Evan all of twice, and it’s doubtful that he’s the first person who has made promises to her. There’s no reason someone who has experienced the world as she has such be greatly lamenting leaving behind some guy who paid to sleep with her once.

If anything, the promises and such that she had him made to her could very well be her purposely manipulating him in the hopes of leaving that life. It’s much more suitable than having a “true love” story. I didn’t like how it started because of how quickly they were talking about running away together and I was expecting the book to try and convince me that they’re super in love, so I was pleasantly surprised when he was relieved that she left and she was able to be bribed to leave. It was a good depiction of what that situation would probably be like.

On the other hand, in part of Falcon’s story, he meets up again with a knight they met early on named Aaron. While they’re escaping from a prison together and wandering in the woods, they meet a foreigner from the north named Sulla. Aaron seems interested in her fast, and while I can’t say she necessarily returns his feelings immediately, they do start to present themselves soon. That’s all right, but it seemed like their relationship developed ‘off-screen’. It’s mentioned that she starts to like his horse, and they develop some of their bond over that, but we don’t really see it.

When they arrive at her home and there’s a conflict about the fact that she’s meant to marry someone else, and she shouldn’t have a relationship with Aaron (which isn’t the only part of the conflict. There’s also the fact that people in certain jobs dedicate their lives to that job and don’t take a spouse). It didn’t strike me very hard, because while they had been traveling together for a while and the story implies that they’ve grown closer, I didn’t really see it.

I will say that in some of the scenes shown of Aaron and the late Stephen, I started to think they were a couple. I don’t think they were, and I’m saddened by that.

Were they bad characters? No. I’d say that I like the characters in this book. There were some parts that I don’t think got developed quite enough, and others that might have lingered too long, but as a whole I thought it was an enjoyable read that did go somewhere. The book is the beginning of a series, so not everything is resolved at the end, but it does have a satisfying conclusion for this novel that felt like it was earned. The author went in some directions that I didn’t expect and found refreshing.

If you’re into epic fantasies, go ahead and give it a try. I give it a good 8/10.

The Last Night on Earth

The Last Night on Earth

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

(Spoilers within)

This is very short, only about 17 pages. It takes place during a future war, switching its point of view between a few citizens. David, the husband, Kara, the wife, and Simon, an actor. We’re given hints about what their lives are like in this dreary future where over a billion have been killed.

David and Kara’s marriage isn’t going well. He wakes up to find she’s gone, and the first thing he does is check for any messages reporting her death. As it turns out, she’s elsewhere after having had an affair. She then steals the other man’s car to try and bring some thrill in her life. Simon is the man she slept with, who essentially has a job of reporting the dead in a mandatory play.

David is an angry, abusive person. While Kara is cheating and stole the car, she has other problems, too. When someone needs medical attention at the play, she simply says she “isn’t that kind of doctor” when David starts telling her to go help. He’s an angry man, but he’s also frustrated that Kara isn’t trying to save someone when she can. Kara, on the other hand, isn’t sure what the point is in bothering when a billion people can be wiped away in a single nuke anyway. Simon has a little less development going for him, mostly having lost the thrill of being able to sleep with a lot of women.

I’d agree with other reviewers I saw in that this is too short. The writing is good. The issues are there, and even though none of the characters can be described as great people you can kind of relate to their situations and how depressing it’s gotten. You can’t get overly attached to them in the short amount of time, though. It’s a very brief glimpse into their lives.

As an author, it’s probably better to hear that someone “wants more” than “wants less”.

I only noticed two errors while reading, and that’s actually the only notes I took for this book when reading it.

…only fire and chaos and says “I don’t know…

But the show must go on.The show must go on.

I’m actually not certain about the second one. The second line in it is italicized, so it looks like it’s missing a space between sentences but maybe it actually is there.

Anyway, if you’re interested then take a look. It’s well-written and it wouldn’t take very long to read, but I think its short length is a little detrimental to its impact in this case.

I give it a solid 8/10.

Al & Rollu

Al & Rollu: Part 1. Out of body (Battle for the Astral)

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

(Spoilers within)

This is a short book about a girl who can travel to the Astral when she sleeps and a boy who can heal people. In reality, not too much happens in this first book. She goes to an apartment in another country. She meets her love interest on Facebook and there’s some bad guys hanging around but they don’t do a lot. That’s mostly it.

In the very beginning Rollu is on a plane next to a man. His major sin is being unattractive. The narration goes out of its way to describe him to make him unlikable (“…bloated, sweaty and not particularly attractive…”), and insinuates that he’s he’s oggling her (although she’s also wearing something shining on her chest, so that might attract the eye). However, if you read their conversation without all of this stuff added to make the reader dislike him:

(Guy) “Do you want a coffee?”
(Rollu) “No thanks.”
(Guy) “What are you reading?”
(Rollu) “Curonian tales.”
(Guy) “Curonia – strange name for a country. I’ve never heard of it!”
(Rollu) “That would be because there’s no such country. The Curonians were a tribe that lived on the Baltic coast a long time ago.”
(Guy) “Well, well! You learn something new every day, huh? By the way, let me introduce myself – I’m Robert.”
(Rollu) “Rollu.”
(Guy) “Rollu? What an unusual name!”
(Rollu) “Yes, very rare.” – etc

When you take out the physical traits that tell us that we should hate him because he’s sweaty and likes a girl, he’s being perfectly nice, and she hasn’t said anything about not feeling like talking. This exact same conversation could be used to describe meeting the love of her life. So his major sin is that she doesn’t think he’s hot.

In a way, this first conversation wants to put him in a bad light, but it puts her in a bad light. I immediately got the impression that she was haughty. Not because she didn’t want to talk to him, because she isn’t obligated to talk to anyone, but because of the way she handled it and thought about it. See the conversation above? Here are things she thinks during it:

…she had no desire to get to know her persistent admirers. She couldn’t work out what was more annoying – their cliched compliments or shameless glances.
tedious guy
restless neighbor
tedious leech
Robert beamed at her in a way that he probably thought was charming.
clingy admirer
Robert’s insistent, dumb questions were irritating Rollu.
…Rollu said, hoping to blindside the leech…
She glanced at Robert’s chestnut bangs with hostility.

She had the perfect excuse not to talk in her hands – she was busy reading a book. She doesn’t even try asking not to be bothered and instead sits around thinking degrading thoughts not just about him, but all of her admirers (she models, too). She doesn’t come off as a nice person. She comes off as someone who turns her nose up at other people. Can guys annoy women? Yes, sure. But they’re not doing something wrong every time they introduce themselves. This guy didn’t whistle or make lewd remarks. He asked if she wanted a drink and look how negative her thoughts are.

Instead of asking if she could have quiet so she could read her book, she thrusts out her chest, talks about how she’s going to pose for an erotic magazine and the thong she’s going to wear for it, crosses her legs to purposely be suggestive, and then talks about how she goes into the Astral. It’s a very unusual way to try and discourage a guy from talking to her. I would have tried, “Sorry, I’m not really in the mood for conversation,” before talking about posing in thongs. It also didn’t jive well when not much later the narrative talks about how shy she is.

When writing sometimes you need to choose your words carefully or you might give off an impression that you didn’t mean to. By the time this next part happened, I already thought Rollu was full of herself because the story had revolved around how she “was an awakened one” and a motorcycle racer and super model material – you can have a good character with all of those traits, but those traits seemed to be about all there was to the character. The entirety of the material felt like it was saying, “Isn’t she so much better than the people around her because she’s hot and rides motorcycles?”

Then it got to her sitting alone in an apartment. This part definitely reads like it’s written by a man, where she’s gracefully going around in lingerie. A real woman would probably have traveller’s diarrhea or something. Then she goes on Facebook, and there are many ways to say that no one she knew was on, but it was put this way:

Rollu scanned through the list of her so-called friends on Facebook but couldn’t find a single worthwhile person to chat with…

It starts off by implying that they aren’t really friends, which could be a fine if she friended a lot of people she didn’t know. But, instead of simply saying she doesn’t know anyone, they’re “not worthwhile”. This goes along with the rest of the book that makes it seem like no one else is ‘worth’ her time.

The book shouldn’t jump through hoops chastizing male characters for looking at her body and then do the same thing.

And although this stunner loved posing for fashion photographers…

…except that she now looked even more stunning…

This incorporeal beauty…

It was a shame no one was there to admire her slim figure…

…looking every inch the natural beauty she was.

There’s something authors should know when they’re writing. I think it’s okay to use descriptions like “beautiful” here and there, but people vary in their definition of what “beautiful” is. It’s better to describe a character and let the reader decide what they think of those looks. What concrete description I got of her, I mostly shrugged.

It’s also a bad idea to constantly criticize male characters for gazing at her and then not only obsesses about her body but goes as far as to mention what a shame it is that there aren’t people there to stare at her.

I honestly didn’t like the way it handled this subject, either. It made it seem like men are wrong for showing interest in her based off looks. There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to someone. If she was attracted to someone it wouldn’t treat her the same way (because she’s super hot and everyone in the world wants her, so it’s okay for her to find other people attractive).

It shouldn’t treat men as wrong for finding someone pretty. It should treat them wrong when they take the wrong approach. To put it simply, if you approach a woman because you find her attractive, don’t turn around and expect her to react to you in any way besides judging if she finds you attractive in return. You can’t call her shallow and expect her to judge your inner being when the only thing you cared about was her looks.

On the other hand, if she’s into motorcycles, and you’re also into motorcycles, you’re showing more interest in her as a person if you talk to her about that. She still has no obligation to be interested in you or even talk to you (and in that case, leave her alone), but you’re giving her a lot more to react positively to.

There are other problems as well. The book used so many exclamation points that I decided to count them on one of the pages. 15. The next page had 11. 26 exclamation points in the span of two pages. I’m okay with exclamation points being used sometimes – some characters are the type to be very exciteable – but they should be especially used sparingly outside of speech.

Beyond that, there’s even more that makes the text difficult to read.

Albert was now seriously mad. He clicked the cursor onto the search bard and crashed out an entry: YOU GODDAMN LAGGING RELIC! I’M GONNA SMASH YOU TO DEATH! Having yelled these words so loudly that the neighbors probably heard, Al hit the return key, almost breaking the keyboard…

I started that paragraph with, “okay, he’s typing it”. Then, “Wait, was he supposed to be shouting it?” Then it goes back to him having typed it. Was he typing it, then shouted it aloud?

The text is full of characters’ thoughts, too, which isn’t separated by italics or quotes or anything. It got even worse when they were chatting on the computer.

Al began tapping away on the keyboard. I’m called Albert, or just Al. I’m a student – a sophomore. Well, almost a Junior actually. I’m at the state medical uni – in the sports medicine faculty. But I guess you’ve already seen all that info on my page. Nice to e-meet you 🙂 – Al added a smiley to show his goodwill.
Well then, Al, I’ll answer your question. Yes, I’m interested in death. But that doesn’t mean I like it. Do you get the difference. Rollu wrote. Even in the emotionless medium of Facebook chat it was clear she was ticked-off. She continued: I don’t understand people like you who just toss that word around mindlessly. Oh, and by the way, there hasn’t been much nice about meeting you yet.
I saw “death” on the list of your interests, and then pictures of corpses in your albums, so that’s why I thought that you liked talking about death. It was dumb of me – I’m sorry, Al replied apologetically.

That’s how it’s written and it keeps going. There’s nothing separating texts, thoughts, narrative, etc. On another point, look at how she talks again. If you thought maybe I was over-stating it on the first part of the story, she’s being negative and hostile again the second someone sends her a message – a message about something that she has all over her Facebook page. I don’t know why anyone would want to talk to her. She’s an angry jerk who looks for opportunities to take shots at people.

Rollu and Al end up deciding to meet the next day. There’s some sort of prophecy about Rollu’s betrothed having white hair, and Al has white hair and is naturally betrothed. Things that Rollu starts calling Al the first day they’ve met: hon, darling, sweetie. They walk around, some kid gets shot, and Al heals the kid’s bullet wound. But healing wounds passes the pain onto him. Rollu takes him back to her apartment in a taxi while he’s barely able to do anything.

My betrothed, my darling, my beloved. Could she say those words one day to this guy she hardly knew…

She’s already said he was her betrothed, and called him darling, so the only one she hadn’t said yet was ‘beloved’. So, yes. She then calls him “my dear” and “sweetheart” in the next paragraph.

The bad guys were at the scene of the shooting (though one was the target of the shooting, not the shooter) and have followed her to where he apartment is. At this point, one spies on her for a while and thinks about how he wants her. Then he leaves and gets mad that he was kicked out of the Astral plane before, and that pretty much what’s in this book.

I’m not going to lie, this book needs a lot of help. The way it’s written with character’s thoughts everywhere without anything separating thoughts from the narrative is distracting and confusing at times. Rollu is oddly negative and hostile, and her actions don’t match the personality she’s described to have. The romance is two people knowing each other for about a day.

If I gave advice to the author, I think the best way to approach this would be to find a female writer who would be willing to read it over and help re-write it. The book goes very far out of its way to criticize men for objectifying Rollu, and then the book objectifies her without seeming to realize it. It even has the “girl has to be a shy virgin” trope. I think the author could learn a lot if he’s willing to listen to a woman’s perspective.

I give it a 3/10.

Letters to Nan

Letters to Nan

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

(Spoilers within)

This is going to be one that is difficult to say much about. The story is fairly simple. It’s about James and his relationship with his Nan. He’s about to pursue his dream job, which means leaving to go to another country, when they find out that she has Alzheimer’s. He leaves for several years and has to deal with the fact that when he comes home she probably won’t remember him anymore.

I would say it’s written well and the characters are well fleshed out (although other characters are mentioned, for the most part James and his Nan are the only characters who appear a significant amount in it). That’s why it’s hard to say a lot. I neither have whole lot to talk about (the overall story is fairly simple) nor much bad to say about it.

I’ll admit I didn’t get very invested in the story but I don’t think it’s because anything was wrong with it. The characters have specific interests that I don’t share and they discuss them a lot. I liked them and I thought it was good, but it didn’t grab me emotionally. This isn’t even something I would suggest changing because the characters are who they are, it just didn’t get me personally attached. Someone else will probably relate to them more.

My main criticism would be that it starts out in past tense and switched to present. I usually find present tense to be jarring, but especially when there’s a switch. I would have liked it more if it had just stayed in the past tense.

I can definitely see how another person might get a lot more out of this than I did, so if you’re interested in a sad story about Alzheimer’s, I’d recommend it. I give it a 8/10, it’s pretty solid.



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

(Spoilers within)

After finishing this book, I can tell what it was going for, and the idea could work, but I can’t say it worked here for various reasons. For a brief summary, Oscar is a normal guy with a wife and two kids. He wakes up, is told he was in a coma and that his family is dead, and he keeps falling asleep and switching where he is. Sometimes he wakes up with his wife and kids, sometimes he wakes up in a strange world with a man named ‘Balder’ who claims that he’s an old friend, and that Oscar had an accident and has just woken up.

That could be a compelling story, but there are several problems that get in the way. The first thing that struck me was the writing style. There are errors, but I’m talking more about how trains of thought inside the text don’t add up with each other, and it makes it confusing.

“I don’t know how to put this, so I guess it’s better to just get it out…Lizzie and the kids – they’re gone. They couldn’t handle the grief after your accident – nobody has seen them since.”
“What are you suggesting? Are you suggesting my family are dead? …”

If this continued on and he had misinterpretted what was said, I would have written it off as Oscar being confused because he just came out of a coma. However, Balder’s reply is this:

“I’m sorry I had to break it to you this way, but that’s the hand you’ve been dealt my friend. I can’t express how sorry I am for you.”

So, a couple things about this. When I read what Balder said about the family, he mentions not having seen them since, and them not being able to handle the grief. To me that suggests that they simply left, not that they’re dead. If they’re dead there’s no reason to say they haven’t been seen. He would know they haven’t been seen because they’re buried. Nothing about the statement says, “They’re dead” to me. But not only does Oscar jump to that conclusion, but he’s also right. I have no idea how his family died. My best guesses are that they all died from grief, or a plane landed on them while they were leaving.

This also had no impact for me. After pages of Oscar waking up, this information is dumped very quickly. I’ve never seen these characters, and they haven’t been built up. He goes into a long paragraph about how he can’t believe they’re dead that just doesn’t work. People don’t generally say things like, “I will see her glistening smile” or “I will touch her soft skin and kiss her once more”, and there’s nothing about the way he speaks later that suggests he has an eccentric way of talking. This is how someone tries to write a nice sentence, not how someone speaks, and it feels that way when I read it.

These are problems that continue throughout the book. People don’t react in normal ways, everyone talks oddly and the focus goes on the strange things. When we do meet his wife, his sandwich gets more of a description than she does. The narrative even jumps from third to first person, which should be deleted:

She was certainly less than average looking I suppose you could say.

Oscar breaks the alarm clock and his wife gets really mad about this. I know it could be inconvenient to lose an alarm clock, and if you’re tight on money it sucks to have to buy a new one, but they’re not all that expensive. They never sounded so strapped for cash that they couldn’t afford little things.

She doesn’t talk like a person, either. Here’s what she says about the broken alarm clock.

“What is wrong with you? Now I must go and buy another.”

It sounds so unnatural. Unless the clock had sentimental value attached to it, I don’t get why she’s so mad about it. And the book never says there’s anything special about it.

This leads to another problem. The characters not being likable. I found myself agreeing with most everyone but Oscar. Oscar goes to work late, complains about his younger co-worker and how she’s mean to him. But, at the same time, she not only showed up to work on time but got everything ready. In this scenario she’s completely in the right. She’s there doing her job, and even though he’s only a few minutes late, he’s still late.

It’s really hard to figure out some things about this book because it’s full of holes. He works at a tiny coffee shop, where the only employees we see are Oscar, Ruby, and their boss, Kevin. Oscar is a few minutes late and this upsets Kevin enough to immediately send him home. He sends him home the next day, too, for being late. Can their business really afford to send employees home for the entire day because they were a few minutes late? It’s certainly something a boss should reprimand an employee for, but this seems like overkill.

On top of that, this entire book takes place over the course of about three days. We learn that Kevin had been planning on promoting Oscar because of what a great job he did. He’s a little late twice. And for that Kevin fires him. I can see why he would re-consider promoting him, but fire him? How extreme his reaction is suggests that this isn’t the only issue Oscar has ever had, but the fact that he was going to promote Oscar for doing so great suggests that Oscar has been a model employee and then had a somewhat bad couple of days. Who would fire an employee who has done an amazing job that quickly?

This book is too short for that kind of reaction. If it went on longer, and this was happening over weeks, I can definitely see a boss tiring of it and seeing that it’s a pattern. Two days could mean anything. For all he knows the guy just lost someone or hasn’t been feeling well. It’s too soon to take such an extreme turn on how he views an employee – particularly for doing something that is bad, but certainly not unforgivable.

Then there’s Oscar. When he first wakes up and is told he was in a coma, and learns his family is dead, he almost immediately just goes back to sleep. He sees mechanical animals and flying pigs, and only somewhat asks anything about it. For example, he learns about pigs because he feels like eating bacon, not because he asks about the weird animals. It’s frustrating waiting for him to ask about obvious things, and instead he’ll stay quiet, follow Balder, then fall asleep somewhere.

I couldn’t like him. He complains about Ruby using her looks to try and get the promotion, and yet she’s there early getting work done and she works hard. I agreed with her character more than his even though she’s supposed to be bad. He goes to work late, and when he gets sent home for some reason he drinks and falls asleep, and that’s mostly what we see of him. He doesn’t pick up after himself or get anything done. He does very little, so it’s no wonder his wife is mad.

His wife does nonsensical things too, though. I can see why she would be upset, but when she’s worried that her husband might lose his job, and they need him to have that job because they have two kids to support, it isn’t the time to let him sleep in because she’s upset. Be upset, but kick him until he wakes up and goes to work so that your kids have financial stability.

Just like with his boss, she gets angry at him very fast. If this is the first time he’s been late to work and had issues, I’d expect more sympathy. Instead she acts like this is what he always does and she’s fed up, but other things suggest he’s been fine and this is unusual for him. She even implies that he’s not like the man she married anymore. It’s been two days. Why are people having this much of a reaction to tiny little things over the course of two days?

Even when he’s in the ‘other world’, Balder doesn’t make sense many times. At one point he complains:

“Oscar, you’ve been having mad dreams lately – you keep on like I should know them all inside out – like I was really there. It’s all absurd. Just your imagination I’m afraid.”

I don’t remember if Oscar even mentioned his dreams to him before this, but if he did, it wasn’t to the extent that warranted this response. My response was, “Wait, he’s barely talked to you. Did he even mention his dreams?”

Later he says:

“It’s not as if you haven’t seen it all before. We’ve been friends for some time now. There’s nothing I could show you to shock you that you wouldn’t have already seen before…”

He says this to a man who has woken up from a coma, whom he knows has amnesia, who was just shocked by what he saw. Why would he say this? It makes no sense for him to tell the person suffering from amnesia who was just shocked by what he saw that he’s seen it before and nothing he can do can shock him.

To top it off, when Oscar does get fired for being slightly late two days in a row, he throws coffee at and punches Ruby for some reason. Ruby is probably the only likable character in the book. She shows up to work and does what she’s supposed to do.

In the end he jumps off a bridge, and it ends with him seemingly waking up, suggesting that the ‘accident’ that put him in the coma was jumping off the bridge. This doesn’t explain where he met Balder if he didn’t know him when his wife and kids were alive, and he’s been in a coma the entire time. It just didn’t fit together.

Sidenotes were also in the middle of sentences.

He remembered that for all the joy he was experienced (confusion aside) that…

…and hurried (as quickly as he could) home.

Plus there was one particular thing that confused me.

He was beginning to wonder if now might be a good time to book a one-way flight to Switzerland. He’d much rather lose his body than his mind.

Wait. Are people in Switzerland losing their bodies? I don’t know if this is a reference to something, but I’m confused.

I get what the book wanted to do. A guy is going back and forth between two lives, gets pushed over the edge and ends up causing his own accident and putting himself in the coma. But it escalated too fast over very little. There was no reason for the characters to have such extreme reactions to such small problems. Too much time is spent on the wrong things. There’s pages dedicated to the main character waking up, then almost no time spent on the fact that he just learned his family is dead. He just goes back to sleep. It doesn’t add up in the end.

It’s disjointed and the way none of the characters feel natural makes it awkward. The idea could work, but it would really need to be fixed up. This feels like a rough draft of a script, where the author has gone back and changed his mind about several things, but hasn’t updated the rest of the script yet to match up with the changes. I would suggest the author re-read it a few times and do some re-writes, making sure the facts in the story match, taking out notes from the middle of the text, and possibly speaking the dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds like something a person would say. It would also help to make character reactions more reasonable. If Oscar is only going to make small mistakes, then the book should probably be longer in order to explain why the other characters are tired of him.

I give it a 3/10.

Read more reviews here.



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

(Spoilers within)

This review will discuss some content that is NSFW.

I can sum up what I had a problem with in this book very quickly. It’s overwritten. Surprisingly, for how much information it gives the readers, I was often left confused because I wasn’t given the right information.

Now, the story itself is all right and ends with a bang. It was too much work to get there, though. It felt like there was a thesaurus involved, with words like “trapezius”, “cumulus” and “phalanx” being tossed in. It felt like every noun required at least one adjective, and every insignificant action could have an entire paragraph dedicated to describing it. For example, there was a decent sized paragraph about Saint looking slightly in a different direction. Many times the descriptions in these paragraphs included things like descriptions of clothing or the colors of different body parts, no matter what they were doing.

Here’s a few examples:

Julia reminded Saint so much of Shana, the long, wavy blonde tresses falling over a delicate pointed expression sharpened with a sensual pen, dark eyes gleaming with a piercing love thrusting through the contentment of loneliness Spike resonated.

(Yes, this is talking about Cowboy Bebop). Anyway, do we need to be told the pen is sensual? What does a sexy pen look like? The phrase “eyes gleaming with a piercing love thrusting through the contentment of loneliness Spike resonated” is so oddly written that it’s hard to be sure what it’s even supposed to mean.

It’s far from the only time something is worded strangely.

Shana’s painted nails digging into his lanky yet defined back while Saint dug into the wet walls of her details.

The dark threshold widened, the darkness in the living room brightening with the living embodiment of a sunray standing on the rotted out front deck with her veil of dirty blonde hair covering the sadness Saint felt dripping from her soft diamond countenance.

This is continuous. The purple prose is pronounced, and often takes away from a scene rather thans adds to it.

Saint and Shana found themselves in the thralls of ecstacy, Saint’s pronounced nostril taking in the scent…

…his phalanx filling Shana.

Saint jammed his cocktail sausage sized thumb…

In the sex scene do you really want to immediately send us up a character’s nose? And with his phalanx, that makes me think of a finger or toe, but the way the scene was described made it seem and if he lifted her up, sat on the bed, and she was on his lap. I’m not sure if a wrong word was used or if this was not going the way I imagined. And randomly describing people’s thumbs as cocktail sausage sized just seems silly.

We treated to all of these overwrought descriptions, and at the same time I often wasn’t sure where they were or even who some people were. Many pages into the book I didn’t know if they were at their house, at a hideout, or what. I’m guessing now they were at their house, but I honestly couldn’t even tell you for certain. The night after Saint goes out with Shana, he ends up spending time with Mariah. I don’t know who Mariah is. The book talks about her like I should know, but I have no clue. Maybe it mentioned her connection at some point between talking about what pants they were wearing and what color their lips were, but I don’t remember seeing it.

Many times, less is more. We don’t need to be told bricks are “cherry” colored, we know bricks are typically red. I don’t need the flow of dialogue interrupted to tell me someone is wearing a “wrinkled black polo and ruffled navy blue denims”. I can’t tell you much of anything about Shana, beyond what she looked like and the fact that Saint was obsessed with her. What aspirations did she have? Why did Saint like her, other than lust? How did she end up in this sort of life? No idea.

So, while I think it came to a decent conclusion and I don’t regret reading it, it’s not something I’d want to go back to. There were a few errors (“But Saint would nothing of slumber”), but my main issue was the style it was written in.

It’s a short book, so if you’re curious it wouldn’t take very long to look at it. I give it a 5/10.

Diary of a Gay Teenage Zombie

Diary of a Gay Teenage Zombie

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

(Spoilers within)

I should start this off by saying it wasn’t exactly the type of book I was interested in reading. I do like material that features gay men in particular, but I usually look more for stories where the character happens to be gay, rather than the story revolving around the character being gay. I’m also not into the zombie craze. I wouldn’t say I went into this book with something against it, but it wasn’t something that quite lined up with what catches my attention.

Since it wasn’t a subject I was attracted to, the beginning didn’t really catch me right away. Jay was very much a spoiled teenager, so he started off not being the most pleasant person to be around. Not that he was particularly horrible, but it had the sort of stuff where he complains that he didn’t get a car for his birthday as he plays on his new X-box. That sort of attitude that can be insufferable pretty quickly.

Luckily it didn’t become the main subject, but there was also a mention of him thinking he’d be the only virgin left at school. He’s 16. It reminded me of 90’s films like “Hocus Pocus” where there is a strange fixation on teenagers not having had sex yet. But, I’m glad this subject was abandoned early.

It took a while with some frustration for it to get started. Mostly entries about Jay hiding that he’s a zombie and sometimes saying he should tell someone, but he doesn’t. I’d say at around the 50% mark it gets better. As he runs into more and more problems with being a zombie, he has to make many decisions about if it’s safe for him to be around people, if he should bite his boyfriend, if he should attack an abusive man, among other things. In the later part his thoughts felt less shallow and he took greater consideration in what people around him were going through.

The character’s were fine. I was glad that CC, Jay’s ‘goth’ friend, didn’t follow stereotypes and acted like a pretty typical teenager, with smiles and jokes. Jay grows from the beginning to the end, and his parents felt like real people. When he complained about his mother, I felt more like they were “teenage complaints” than that his mother was a bad person. His mother is also shown taking in an abused woman and protecting her.

I’d say the only other character we see a lot from is Archer. Because Jay idolized him, it might have made it more difficult to put a finger on exactly what type of person he was, other than he liked Jay, too.

There were some errors in it. A little much for such a short book, I think.

…I was sure that already been drinking.

There was no way that Jay would be seen with me… (The character narrating is Jay)

…he didn’t show up f for work…

There are a few times it says “patents” instead of “parents”, as well as many times that there’s no period or comma when a character is speaking, like:

“Mom didn’t even ask me” I reminded him.

Some of the symbolism is a bit too hammered in, but it isn’t a bad read. If the summary for the story interests you, you’ll likely enjoy it. I didn’t have the excitement for it, but I found it to be an overall enjoyable story.

I give it a 7/10.

Read more reviews here.

The Lioness of Kell

Lioness of Kell

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

(Spoilers within)

My first impression of this book after reading the first few chapters was that it’s very busy. I didn’t particularly have a problem with the stories or characters, it’s just that things were flashing by so fast I didn’t have time to get absorbed into the story. For example, when Maud arrives in Port Brisa, she must have had half a dozen confrontations, all squished into one chapter. Every time she takes a step random people are popping out and attacking. It feels like an on rail shooter rather than a character in a new city.

I think it would have been better and more meaningful to have fewer confrontations, but flesh them out more. And have characters react more realistically to the fact that, though she is a woman, she’s quite a bit larger than them and obviously well muscled.

There was also so much use of the “ess” endings that it was distracting. On page one, “warrioress”, “lioness”, “tigress”… There’s six on the very first page, which isn’t including anything else that ended with ‘ess’ like “huffiness” or “breathless”. I especially didn’t think “warrioress” was necessary. It sounds very awkward and was overdoing it. This happens throughout the story with things like “archeresses”. We already know they’re a clan of female-only warriors, so it doesn’t need to be reiterated with every word they use to describe themselves.

There are many characters, and while I got to know the main ones relatively well I did get lost with side characters. Maud is a warrior who comes from a clan of all-female-only warriors. She’s large and enhanced using magic to make her even larger. She’s only 19, but she has been training her entire life. She’s sent on a training mission outside of her home with a veteran leading her.

As it turns out, Basil, the son of one of the warlocks, has a disfigurement that could have him thrown out of the warlockry and have his magic removed, in something akin to receiving a lobotomy. His father has summoned the two warriors in order to find a double for his son, in a desperate attempt to save him. His son is sheltered and finicky, but is rightfully angered that his brain will be cut up, so he runs away while Maud and her superior are still looking for his double.

For a while the stories are split, with Maud finding Basil’s body double, Jurgis, on her own and Basil fleeing with a pirate friend of his, only to end up captured by some more loathsome pirates. Maud is forced to take control of the mission when the veteran she was with passes away, and she and Jurgis end up taking another path entirely than what was originally ordered. Eventually they all meet up and have a series of adventures, uncovering secrets and finding out what truly happened to cause a war 100 years before.

Probably around 60% into the book, another two main characters are introduced: Wargall and Wemawee, both Kells. For me, the introduction of Wargall brought a lot of problems in the book. Throughout the book male Kells are constantly described as weak. Other characters compare it to the way female characters are treated elsewhere. However, when we finally do meet Wargall, a male Kell, as it turns out they’re not weak at all and they’re just not quite as strong as the women (who are enhanced by magic). It hardly feels like there’s any real challenges towards Wargall becoming a warrior. He’s not actually weak, he almost immediately picks up a sword and is able to kill a bunch of people, he doesn’t receive much resistence save from a character who had been set up as troublesome and abusive…

It made the entire comparison with how female characters were treated fall apart, as well as made almost the entire setup about how weak male Kells are feel like lip service. I was expecting male Kells to be small and soft like Basil or Jurgis were, especially considering how Maud had been attracted to them, but it ended up being a cop out.

There’s a part where he’s introduced where they discover a trap they have to disarm, and the woman who drags Wargall around, Wemawee, forces him to help disarm it because he’s expendable. After it’s disarmed, Jurgis tells Wemawee that Wargall was braver than her because he helped with the trap. I would have liked to see more of that, but after that it just turns into telling the big strong guy that he is a big strong guy. There were no real obstacles. I would have rather they ran into one of the “whores” they mention from Jurgis’ place and she became a warrior, because a character like that would have had to face much more discrimination and challenges. But, more than that, I would have liked for the male Kells to be weak as they were described, not “they’re slightly smaller than us and didn’t get enhanced with magic”.

Even when Wargall first fought I didn’t feel the struggle. He’s temporarily frightened by a large battle mage who is sending snakes at him, but then he just stabs him and it’s fine. Things like this could have been changed to make it feel a lot harder for him than it does. Like, when he runs into the mage, he could have trembling with fear and jabbed the sword forward while trying to step back from the snakes. He could have even fallen over while trying to back away. He still would have killed the battle mage, but in that scenario it would actually seem like it was something new and frightening for him.

It does serve a second unfortunate purpose as well. If the whole book has been spent telling us how weak Kell males are, and the first Kell male we bump into can pick up a sword and, completely untrained, take out several enemy soldiers and one of their giant battle mages, then how intimidating is this enemy? Send some children after them, that ought to take care of it. For the other characters their skills coincided with the lives they led.

The sex between Wemawee and Wargall bothered me, too. Not because I think that writers shouldn’t write about rape, but because of the way it seemed to brush aside the fact that it was rape. It is clearly stated that she would use him, and he didn’t want to, but then later that’s softened up with him saying he didn’t mind sex with her and that he’d have gladly done it if she just asked. It’s like it sets him up as someone who has been raped for years, and then backs off from that and tries to make it less horrible.

I liked Weamwee’s character growth for the most part, save for the fact that I didn’t feel like the sexual abuse was taken seriously enough.

As for the rest, there was still a lot happening quickly, but I did enjoy the story. I liked Maud’s and Basil’s growth. Maud starts out as a rookie, and her progression into someone who leads felt natural. She doesn’t go straight into knowing how to do everything. At times she looks back at her choices and realizes she could have done things better – she neither ignores the faults nor obsesses over them, but learns from them and moves on.

Basil himself goes from a shut-in with an ego to an adventurer with an ego. Though the relationships seemed to progress very quickly, I did like the way he was introduced to Yarwan. He’s attracted, and he spends a long time discussing how they figure out their location on a ship using measuring tools. It was good to focus less on the initial attraction – though attraction is certainly there – and have them actually talk. Not only that, but in a way that would interest both, since it’s something Yarwan loves and Basil is interested in learning. It worked.

I didn’t think Maud and Jurgis’ beginning worked out as well as theirs, with the way Jurgis got huffy and angry the second she refused to sleep with him.

I did like the main characters, and I felt like they were different from each other.

There were some pretty good parts. I particularly liked one where a rival merchant has trashed the shop of Yarwan’s mother, and the guards are demanding answers since the rival is the son of a noble. In response each character starts announcing their titles, with Yarwan now a captain, Darquine (his friend) the daughter of another prosperous merchant, Basil the Spellwarden, and Maud the ‘lioness of the Kell Queen’. It finally gets around to Jurgis, who had lived his life in the streets:

Jurgis opened his mouth, but then he shook his head. “I’ll not boast to the law of my status.’

I like the way they call back to Yarwan and Basil’s meeting later, and measure the direction an enemy flew away from two different points to determine where he was hiding.

Although I already said what I disliked about Wemawee’s part of the story, I like that when she was captured she was obstinate, even tossing and turning in her cage purposely to create noise and prevent the guards from being able to sleep.

I also liked that this was a complete story. Everything was wrapped up at the end, and while it could be continued if the author wanted, I wouldn’t feel like anything was missing if it was left as is.

There were a few errors, but not enough that I found it particularly distracting.

If the book sounds interesting to you, I would say go for it and realize a lot of stuff is going to happen almost immediately. If you can get through the opening and understand that a multitude of side characters will flutter in and out, you will probably enjoy it. The characters are overall enjoyable to be around, and I liked some of the revelations in the plot. Although it’s called the “Lioness of Kell”, there are several characters who play large roles. I would say I started out worrying that it was going to be a very long read, and ended up enjoying it in the end.

I give it a 8/10.

Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets

Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets

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

(Spoilers within)

“The Outpost” wasn’t bad but it took me a while to get into it, and in the end I was left with mostly questions. Maybe because it reads more like the first chapter to a book than a short story (I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there is a book). It’s the setup of a story rather than a complete story in and of itself. I think it overdid it with the techno-babble, too. But, if there was more to the story, I would have been interested in continuing to read. Instead I’m mostly left with questions like, “How did her dads know the pilot?”

“Blink” was about a girl who inherited a time travel machine and some of her misadventures trying to stop an embarrassing moment from happening to her. This one suffered a bit from being short, too. It was okay, but different things weren’t explained well. I’m confused if, when she time travels back a day, the other versions of herself who traveled back are also still there. Some parts seem to imply “no”, and other parts seem to imply “yes”.
I thought they did, but then one of her past selves bumped into a girl, and when she went back again that didn’t happen anymore. Also, because of the short length, the time travel aspect starts confusing the main character long before it confused me. About the second time she’s using it she starts getting overwhelmed with how many realities she has to remember, while I didn’t find it difficult at all to remember what she’d done so far.
It was an all right story.

“Courage Is” I really liked. It’s set up on a massive space ship type scenario, with billions of people flying to some destination. There’s an advanced AI, Rostom, that takes care of everything, and when people turn 16 they’re hooked up to the AI and become like a hivemind. The main character, Gracie, is 15 and her friends have turned 16, so she’s feeling alone.
But, she happens to see something odd in a building, and decides to investigate. In this case investigating means hooking up to the network. There, she meets up with another girl she knows, Georgie, who is comatose in real life but able to interact with others by having her brain hooked up to the network. As they investigate together a real threat seems to appear and goes after Georgie, who can only defend herself by using the network. She lives out of bounds of the rest of society, so Rostom won’t protect her, and it’s up to Gracie to find and save her.
I really liked this one. It’s good that it focused on a few things – the main characters, Gracie and Georgie, and Rostom as an everpresent side character who can be anywhere at anytime. It gave the short story enough focus. In the end, when Gracie gets to Georgie, I think it had a wonderful setup for more story. Georgie and Gracie had a good reason to have a close relationship, and it could be very interesting for the pair to work as a ream, with Georgie being nothing but a hologram and able to control the ship with her mind and Gracie able to take care of other things. I thought it integrated what it would be like to be comatose in the future in an interesting way, and because the story spends the majority of the time with just them it gives the reader a chance to get attached.

“Of Cat’s Whiskers and Klutzes” confused the heck out of me. The main characters are in some sort of universe that exists based on a story that one of them wrote, but they’re from completely different time periods. I don’t know why this universe exists because of a story. The main character is building a transistor. I’m also not sure why. Then one of the storybook characters who helps them out gets attacked. They go to try and help her, but it turns out the warning message they tried to send earlier got there in time and she’s fine. And that’s about it. I almost don’t know how to describe this story. A million things are thrown at the reader and none seems to really go anywhere, nor does much of anything happen.

“Robin Hacker” was probably the longest in the book, being several chapters long. There were little issues. The main character was trying to hide for example, and complained about a ship she was trying to buy looking like a typical merchant ship. If you want to hide, wouldn’t it be good to blend in? I didn’t see why that would be a complaint. Overall, though, it was fine. It probably could have been condensed into a shorter story. The concept was simple enough: a genius girl discovers they’re being deceived and used in order to do bad things. She abandons school and family, and runs away to fight against them. The entire story covers her running away, and might go into more detail than necessary. It never quite grabbed me. Maybe it had too many characters in a short time to feel connected to them, but there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it.

“Panic” is basically characters with psionic powers in training trying to fight off an infiltration of other characters with psionic powers. It sets up a tense situation and has some interesting worldbuilding. I wish I got to know more about Kion.

“Graveyard Shift” started me off on the wrong foot with the main character. She showed up late to work, then insulted her boss/coworker in her mind, and was jerk about it. It didn’t get me rooting for her. The story itself is fine with her uncovering a conspiracy, getting in trouble and getting out. It had an unearned ending, though, with her suddenly being promoted to assistant manager for no reason. The rest of the ending was fine, but that part stuck out to me, I even wrote a note that simply said, “Why?”

“A Little Bit Truer” is pretty solid. It focuses on a mother and daughter. The daughter was born with health problems and was blind, so her mother had to leave her behind to pursue her career traveling the universe. She finally comes back now that Zay is older and has been given her eyesight back with an operation, but she and Zay are disconnected and while her mother wants to have her live the high life with her, Zay is more interested in pursuing her own career as a scientist. She becomes even more suspicious when she reads that their re-uniting will be good for her mother’s ratings. It’s focused, so it works out pretty well.

“Lyra” went in a way I wasn’t expecting when I started it. It’s very Cinderella-like, with the main girl being abused by her family and her only friend being the house’s AI. But they replace the AI with a new one, named “Lyra”, who claims to have been made by her long-missing mother in order to protect her.
But it turns out to be over-enthusiastic in how it protects her. At one point she’s riding in a car with a boy, who has been nice to her, and Lyra takes over the car, throws her out and crashes it. Maybe something was just wrong with the program, but I didn’t get how something like that was protecting her when he had only ever tried to help her, and throwing her out of the car could seriously injure or kill her.
I thought it was too over the top with the abuse she received. It leaves things unexplained, like how Jeremy is a threat, but maybe it just considers everyone a threat. I think it also went too fast from the AI arriving and Elizabeth distrusting it. She immediately doesn’t like it, for no particular reason. It probably would have been better if she trusted it at first and then realized something was wrong.
It was okay, but there was just too much abuse from almost every character for me.

“Flight of the Zephyr” was another okay story. By this time I was a bit tired of the desolate future stories, especially with ones where an evil government kills people for no reason and somehow no one can oppose them. The main character discovers that the government is having people work with material that they know poisons them, and she attempts to expose them. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong.
The only thing I noticed was a part where she was “walking gingerly on the heeled shoes she’d forgotten how to wear”, which didn’t seem to fit the setting. In this world they were issued clothes, and she was essentially issued miner’s clothes her entire life. When did she ever wear heels before?
The main issue for me was that I felt like I’d seen this scenario a million times before and nothing new was done with it.

I didn’t like “The Data Tourist”. It was hard to read because it was boring. When it described what was happening it was mostly tech-babble and a bland list of things the main character was doing. Other times it was just awkwardly telling stuff that happened. Plus the present tense was awkward. I usually dislike present tense. It tends to take me out of the story immediately and then I have to overcome that to get into the story, and in this case I was never able to get to that point.

“Robot Repair Girl” was a nice, complete story. I liked the setup of robots wanting to escape and her helping them. I’m not wild about girls who are into clothes constantly being against tech girls, but otherwise I didn’t have any issues.

“The Hive” was pretty good. It’s a solid setup and gets through the main point of the story. Bees are being kept in short supply by the government in order to create a false epidemic and control through fear. The main character teams up with another woman, and brings in the son of one of the government workers.

“Fledgling” was about a hot-headed girl who is picked out by a military man to join a program that uses advanced technology. It reminds me of a sentai show, where she and others are given power suits to fight evil dictators or something. Who they’re fighting isn’t a big deal. The story revolves more around their group and the fact that they think they’re being drugged and used by the government, and trying to escape that. Each character had a personality in a short span of time. It was pretty enjoyable.

“The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” genuinely felt like a short story rather than the first chapter of a book. I liked the lizard, Cika. Viala is the daughter of a man who supposedly went crazy and killed a lot of people with his inventions, and now she’s dealing with the consequences of his actions and hide the fact that she’s a scientist, lest people believe she’s just like her father. It was a good story.

“Helen of Mars” had a boring start but became a decent story with some good action. The main character’s father invested in an android in order to mine on Mars, but his android was destroyed and his caches stolen by mercenaries. In a fit he throws away his remote, but his daughter retrieves it in order to repair it and see if she can reboot the android. With the action happening so far away, it lowered the stakes and made it harder to get invested because there was no danger to her. In the end she decides to use the droid to fight off mercenary droids and help others, though the android has been damaged and isn’t particularly built for fighting, so I’m not sure how far she’d really get. It wasn’t bad, though.

“The Keys to the Stars” was decent. Judy, the main character, gets a call for help from an alien when she’s younger. After helping, she agrees to meet them again much later in her life. The aliens are interesting, and I like that the alien was retired at the end.

“Takes a Hacker” is about a girl named, Vieve, who begs for help from the main character, Jane. Vieve was in a horrible accident and had much of her body replaced with cybernetic parts. Because of that she’s shunned. When their school is having a large contest, Vieve’s entry is sabotaged and she’s set up to look like a cheater. No one believes her, so she asks for Jane’s help to clear her name.
Jane’s boyfriend, Zared, was a bit of a strawman, but other than that it was fine.

As you can probably see from the review, this book was fairly long. The stories in it had a large range of quality.

My two favorites were “Courage Is” and “Fledgling”. These two stood out to me as something I’d liked to follow. “Courage Is” has a great setup for a pair of girls who fly through space completing missions. “Fledgling” had a good setup for something like a sci-fi sentai show. They weren’t perfect, but they were both written well and I was invested.

My least favorites would be “Of Cat’s Whiskers and Klutzes” and “The Data Tourist”. The first was just a confused mess, and the second was boring.

The rest mostly fell in the middle of the road for me. Some had the issue of not setting up the “girls with gadgets” parts very well. They would be more, “And she was super good with gadgets because” instead of putting together a reason why, or it could feel like they were interested in it because the story required it. It’s hard to explain why, so I’m not even sure if people would get the same feeling.

Would I recommend it? I suppose so. There’s a few good ones in there, and many that weren’t a bad read. I’d actually be interested in hearing other people’s opinions of “Of Cat’s Whiskers and Klutzes”, just because being as confused as that makes me wonder if I missed something. I don’t think I did, but it would be nice to have it confirmed.

I give it a 8/10 overall.

Wrath, Prequel to Tredan’s Bane

Wrath, Prequel to Tredan’s Bane

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

(Spoilers within)

This is just a prologue for a series, so it’s not very long at all. It’s about three chapters worth of a story.

It might be a little bit too short. I haven’t read the rest of the series, only this, and at times it felt rushed. There was often little description of their surroundings, so I could get lost. Sometimes descriptions didn’t actually give me a picture of what to see. For example, when Tredan is in his shop and summons a ghost, it says this:

He wore a Sciomancer’s old-fashioned Church vestments and had empty eyes.

I could see the empty eyes, but I have absolutely no idea what that outfit looks like in this fantasy world.

There’s also the issue of those fantasy names. Like “Arnl’jhott”. I have no idea how to pronounce that.

Besides that, it’s a good setup. It’s in what looks like a high fantasy world. While so much was happening in these chapters, sometimes without much explanation, but the time I finished the third chapter I had an idea of what kind of world this was and some basic overall premises. There’s some sort of Church. It’s evil and manipulative. The main character used to be part of it and has left. There’s constant magic, etc.

I could see this being a prologue for a good book. Maybe if you want to see if you’re interested in reading the series but you aren’t sure, pick this up and see if it appeals to you. It’s short, it gets a decent amount of information out in a long time, and it’s not riddled with errors or anything. If you’re looking for a high fantasy, or if you’ve read the story this is related to, I’d say go ahead and buy it.

I give it a 8/10.