Category: Book Review

Ali’s Friday Fiction: featuring Cornerstone: The Delving

‘Cornerstone: The Delving’ (the sequel to ‘Raising Rook’) is being featured on author Ali Isaac’s Friday Fiction blog! Head on over to the link below for a sneak peek, review, and other goodies, and don’t forget to take a look at Ali’s wonderful Conor Kelly series and other works!

‘Cornerstone: The Delving’ on Friday Fiction

Review: In the Name of God

In the Name of God Book Cover In the Name of God
Cameron Stauth
True Crime

When I purchase any book, but particularly one from an author with a number of works to his/her name, I expect it to be reasonably edited. This one was chock full of distracting errors, from people whose names changed from page to page (as one example, Patrick’s son went from Paul, to Pat, to Paul, to Pat, and back to Paul again), to extraneous commas, misplaced periods, find/replace errors, and others. Even a good run-through with Word’s grammar/spelling check could have found some of these.

The story itself was eye-opening and revealed a hidden world I had very little knowledge of prior to reading the book. I’ve certainly got more knowledge now. However, somewhere between a third and a half of this book was fiction, not true crime. Now, all good true crime authors take liberties to create a more engaging story by re-creating short dialogues and thought patterns. These are generally based on careful interview and often on tapes. Here, the author creates entire sections of internal dialogue and conversation, chapters long, of which he could not possibly have knowledge. No one can remember in that much detail what he or she was thinking or the course of a long conversation, especially years later, to relay it to the writer, and some of it was frankly condescending. The longer it got, and the more tangents the author went off on (history of various locations, for example), the more it bugged me. I’m sure the author could write a great mystery with his gift for dialogue, but that’s not what I thought I was getting.

Towards the end, it also got repetitive. I found myself saying, “Yes, I know. You’ve already told me that twice before,” on more than one occasion. Once again, a good edit could have fixed those issues. I also didn’t know, or didn’t remember, who the author was or how he was connected to the crimes in question when he suddenly appeared towards the end of the book. All at once there were sections narrated by ‘I’ instead of he/she/they. Here, some introductory detail would have been nice.

All in all a fascinating subject and a good writer, but with issues that bugged me too much to rate the book any higher.


Book review: The Queen and the Dagger

The Queen and the Dagger Book Cover The Queen and the Dagger
Book of Theo
Melanie Ansley

This is an excellent, richly-imagined short book for older children/younger teens, combining elements of fantasy, myth, and storytelling tradition. The reader remains fully immersed in the world from the first sentence. Editing is impeccable. There’s nothing to distract you from the well-paced storyline.

The characters are unique and carefully drawn. No one is perfect, but each has her own merits. The plot is true epic fantasy, a great introduction to swordplay, quest, and chosen-one themes that run throughout contemporary adult fantasy works. Pacing is steady, with no dead spots. The setting is unique and familiar, yet alien at the same time. It will feel most familiar to children graduating from elementary  anthropomorphic animal stories to more advanced chapter books and novels. There are betrayal, danger, and personality clashes as well as fellowship and alliance.  It has a Lion King-feel to it, of fate and inevitability not wholly under the control of the actors.

After finishing this book (in one sitting!) I immediately checked for more in the series. This is one I’d like to follow. It brought me back to the childhood tales I loved to read, yet it was sufficiently advanced for adult readers. Recommended for just about anybody.

Link to The Queen and the Dagger on Amazon

Book Review: Village of the Dead

Village of the Dead Book Cover Village of the Dead
Secret Souls
Jacob Stanley

Well, this was one of those books I should probably not have read directly before going to bed! In the best tradition of horror, much of the creepiness is not overt - it’s just a feeling you get. A feeling like something is about to go very wrong, but you’re not sure what.

This is the first of what is apparently a novella series, and here we’re introduced to a land that’s fallen out of time and space, in which dwell Stephen-King-like characters issuing vague threats. It’s well-written, easy to read, and fun, in a disturbing sort of way. The main characters are relatable and distinct, and there’s a suggestion of mystery and more to come.

Definitely recommended for horror aficionados and fans of the off-beat.

Oh, and watch out for the cats!

Book Review: Nanodaemons

Nanodaemons Book Cover Nanodaemons
George Saoulidis

This started off great; I actually laughed in certain areas. It took a while to figure out what was going on, but when I did, I loved the play-style viewpoint of the daemons and the idea that they have human-like emotions and personalities. The sections featuring the viewpoint of the nanodaemons were definitely the high points of the book.

The other viewpoints I was not so enamored of. The style switches between omniscient narrator and third person. Still, I grew to like the main protagonist, Leo, and especially Aibo, and even Leo’s love interest. The narration jumps didn’t bother me that much.

What bothered me more was frequent odd word usage, awkward in many spots. I eventually decided that the writer is likely not a native English speaker, which is fine, but the work should probably have gone through someone who could pick out those things that sound odd to an American or English ear, if it’s going to be targeted to those groups. The writing is clunky. At first it didn’t bother me much, but started to wear as things went on. Also, it seemed to get worse further on in the book, particularly when the user’s viewpoint is represented.

I also had some plot issues: (spoiler) Some deus ex machina; the girl (or her father) has the correct anti-venin for an enhanced cobra? Why was there only one warden/employee in the entire prison and why weren’t any of the doors locked? And the big one: the ‘why’ was never answered at all. Why would a Sikh want to murder the mayor? What did the mayor ever do to them? And why set up Leo to be framed, especially in this convoluted manner? It seemed a very shaky way to do it. And if he was set up to take the fall, why murder him? That would kind of defeat the purpose. (close spoiler)

It’s like the author is trying to add excitement to a book which is really about the inner workings of nanotechnology. A great idea that was stretched to work. I would have preferred that the whole thing be experienced through the eyes of the daemons.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed this novella, but would have enjoyed it more with some of the issues taken care of. I would still recommend it to future-tech aficionados, sci-fi fans, and adventure fans. A really interesting, and unique, viewpoint.


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