• Category Archives Reviews
  • First Impressions – John Vamvas & Olga Montes

    The duo behind the book Wherewolves are yet another of my first Twitter followers, so I decided to give it a read.

    Click me for book.
    Click me for book.

    I’m somewhat of a novice to the horror genre, and perhaps this wasn’t the best introduction.

    Wherewolves was apparently adapted from a screenplay. Perhaps the story works on-screen, but ultimately a book must stand on its own merit.

    Wherewolves struggles and ultimately fails to break free from the shackles of its screenplay origins. The characters are almost cookie-cutter stock slasher-movie stereotypes, with little fleshed out to expand upon that. They were established just about enough for me to be completely non-invested in what happens to them, even with around half of the book dedicated to setting them up. The plot, such as it is, may be better suited to the big screen. It just wasn’t enough to build a book around without significant character work which just felt absent. It was straightforward with no perceptible twists to it.

    Even the werewolves themselves weren’t much to write home about. There wasn’t much to separate them from a more natural animal attack, if anything at all.

    The present-tense narrative made it read like a screenplay and the onomatopoeic growls and screams just ripped me from the already unsteady flow of the narrative and came across as comical. Perhaps this is supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek take on the concept of werewolves. Having read nothing else in the genre perhaps I missed the joke, but I feel as though the more likely explanation is simply that it just reads like a screenplay. The dialogue came across as clunky in general, and didn’t seem to fit the characters in places.

    Overall I’d say it’s probably better to try and find the screen adaptation if it exists, it probably has a better chance of showing the intended story in a way the novel just hasn’t managed to capture.

    This finishes up a batch of introductory works that I added to my reading list a while ago. For the near future I will now be reading some books by more established authors, however I’m always interested to find new and interesting things. If you’re a fellow indie author, or know one who has written something, let me know. It seems I’m generally more into Science Fiction and Fantasy but I’ll give any genre a go.

    What’s this contact form doing here?

    (I have had to temporarily remove the form until I can add captcha. Damn robots.)

  • First Impressions – Jordan Locke

    Jordan Locke is another of my early followers on Twitter, and I decided to read their book The Only Boy.

    Click to go to Amazon page
    Click me for book.

    I should preface this review with the fact that I am probably not the target audience for this book. I suspected that going into reading it and nearly didn’t, I feared that fact would mar my review. It almost certainly has, but ultimately my review is my opinion, it isn’t and never could be an objective measure of a book’s quality. So, with spoiler tags at the ready, let’s get to it.

    I liked the concept of the story, the idea of a post-apocalyptic world where a disease has wiped out all the men leaving only women alive, and only a few survivors at that. The notion of re-introducing a male into that scenario also seemed interesting, however it seemed as though the relationship between Mary and Taylor, the two protagonists and alternative viewpoint characters, was the focus of the story. I don’t think I’m that interested in romances so the relationship didn’t really carry the story for me, which was a shame because the rest of the narrative seemed contrived to service it.

    [su_spoiler title=”Spoilers” icon=”plus-circle”]

    For instance there is the disease itself. Obviously there would be immense difficulty in having a young romance story with an extinction-level disease rampaging through the world. So it’s firmly established that the disease isn’t contagious, and it was apparently known that the disease wasn’t contagious from the outset. Yet the Matriarch and Section One have all these rules, specifically one about “no touching” and the stated reason is the disease.
    This isn’t the only thing about the disease that doesn’t make much sense. Humans and animals have contracted it, and as stated previously it’s pretty near extinction-level. Yet exactly what it is and how it spreads seems to be very arbitrary and in service to the plot.

    The timeline for the disease is also seemingly inconsistent. I was never sure whether the “cleansing” was two centuries prior to the events of the book or a matter of decades. The women of section one live off leftover canned food and seem to use vehicles as though petrol wouldn’t be a scarce and precious resource. They also have the same attitude towards munitions and a plane which they somehow maintain.

    They also have a genetics laboratory to solve the issue of reproduction. Any post-apocalyptic society that has a functioning genetics laboratory and hasn’t, in decades of survival, managed to plant seeds in the ground stretches my wilful suspension of disbelief just a little too far. Again, like the disease, it seems to exist merely to prop up the hypothetical scenario and serve the plot.

    The above issues are setting-related and are by no means insurmountable. It just feels like they weren’t thought through.

    The romance between the main characters wasn’t really believable. There was too much of a “star crossed lovers” feel to it in my opinion. Maybe I just didn’t click with it, but it definitely seemed to be a Young-Adult romance. It’s pretty much love at first sight. They meet and suddenly they can’t bear to be apart from each other. Then plot contrivances split them up and throw them through some near misses, and there’s one point where Taylor believes, falsely, that Mary is dead. They get pulled back together and a hasty and slightly confusing epilogue slaps a “and they lived happily ever after” type bow on top.


    The first-person present tense took a little getting used to, and the constant switching between the two main characters worked at times and was simply disorientating at others. When it worked I felt it was a good choice, allowing the reader to see the same scene from two simultaneous and different perspectives. Yet I felt like some disembodied spirit on a chain being forever caught in a tug-of-war between the protagonists.

    Overall, as I said above, I liked the concepts underpinning the story. I think they’re good and original ideas. Perhaps the teen romance is just something that I personally don’t click with, and without it holding my attention I wasn’t distracted from the other issues.
    I would suggest that, if you are a fan of Young-Adult Dystopian Romance then you will probably find more value in reading this than I did.

    I give this a rating of okay because, previous comments aside, I didn’t have trouble getting to the end of it, nor do I feel I wasted my time spent reading it. The concept is good, I just feel the execution could have been better.

  • First Impressions – A E Marling

    In the first of what, I hope, will be many looks to fellow authors whom I discover for the first time, I take a look back at my recent read through of A E Marling’s Brood of Bones

    Brood of bones cover
    Click me for book.

    A E Marling was one of my first followers on Twitter (And still is, considering I only have 10 at the time of writing!) I decided to add one of his books to my reading list as a way of saying thank you. After all, word of mouth is the author’s best friend. So onto the review:

    The characters come across as fairly well-rounded and three-dimensional. Elder Enchantress Hiresha begins the story as a person returning to her home a stranger. She becomes quickly established as someone with failed ambition, prides and fears. She has command of magic, yet that command has its limitations and her affinity for it also causes her problems. The same is true of her gowns, worn as a statement of her achievements but ultimately impractical and even imprisoning. As the story is told in first-person I found myself coming to understand her in a way, and when things seemed as though they were crashing down around her I felt a compulsion to read on.

    The other primary character is the Lord of the Feast, an interesting and delightfully sinister fellow who is something of a wildcard. A master of deception, I was never sure whether he was a tragic victim of his magic as he claimed or if he was simply purchasing sympathy to use to his advantage. I hope he is a recurring character.

    The secondary characters, whilst present, were not so extensively fleshed out. This is to be expected I suppose but Deepmand and Janny, two characters who spend most of their time in the main character’s company, leave very little in my memory about them.

    The story was well put together and flowed naturally, starting out as a rather sinister mystery the twists and turns were both believable and fairly unexpected. The solution to the whodunnit is well foreshadowed; the clues were present but flew under my radar, when it was revealed it felt like the gradual solution of a puzzle rather than the simple presentation of an answer. The threat and fears of the protagonist feel real and lend weight to the final act of the story.

    The world felt substantial and well imagined, the various types and mechanics of the few forms of magic with which we are presented show a great power that has limitations and comes at a cost, and once a rule was established it was generally stuck to. I’m always a fan of so-called hard magic systems, where magic is more a tool to be used rather than an arbitrary force that acts at the whim of the author.

    All in all I was impressed with the writing style and quality and found the story to be captivating. I will definitely be looking to Marling’s other work in the near future.

    I hope to have the time to do more reviews and other spots where I look at other authors. We’ll see how it goes.