Thank Christ I had this on an e-reader, or I would have thrown the book across the room and probably hit something of importance.

I like to be honest with my reviews and I generally like to find something nice, polite and worthwhile for people to read. But all I can summon is a barrage of useless insults at this book. But I will allow myself a deep breath and try to conceal my venom… if only thinly.

When I first read the synopsis for the Wolf, I couldn’t help but grin to myself. With a story involving a cross between gangsters and terrorists, I felt an inner urge well up inside me. It’s the same urge that causes me to read comic books with big-breasted women and watch a TV show that I know is ridiculous: it just seems like a lot of fun, and screw real-life. Then I found out that the author had written a novel named Sleepers, which I was told- on good authority- was a very good novel.

Fantastic, I thought, and jumped in with gusto.

But that quickly faded, as I was left with a myriad of complaints that practically jumped out of the page and slapped me in the face. Seriously, I wasn’t even looking for them- they just pulled back their hand and let it fly at my face!

Firstly, the characters are so thin they could rob my house by slipping in the crack beneath the door. Their entire life story is dumped on us in a huge rant, leaving no interest or remote surprise and the way the act and behave is like if one cliché made a baby with another cliché and they created an ultra-cliché.

See how the above line was? It was tacky and… well, ridiculous. There, that’s a taste of the writing. Imagine reading an entire novel of that. Exactly.

The writing style has barely any description. Usually, I don’t mind this, but that’s usually because the description is making room for great characters or an awesome plot. We’ve established that the characters aren’t great,so what about the plot?

Well, the plot is like a modern adaptation of Shakespeare. Yes, you’ve changed a few things, but it’s still unoriginal and has been done to death. In this case: yes, you have gangsters and terrorists, but we’ve all read more revenge novels than we can count, and this is nothing that shines.

I truly wanted to like this, and I’m sorry to say that I did not. I could not, in my right mind, ever tell somebody to read this.

One star.

Advertisements

The story-puzzle…

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

Lately, there has been frustration in the writing department. And I mean, a lot of it. Like, almost tears.

See, when I write, everything is fine… at first. The words flow, the characters peek their head out and I begin to enjoy the story that’s beginning to come out…. But then it comes time for that moment when I apply the accelerator and I get lost.

Suddenly, the words stop. My enthusiasm halts and I’m stuck not truly understanding where my story is headed. I’m suddenly afraid of where my words will leave me. So I start a new story and begin afresh, feeling more and more frustrated and angry at myself for not having the guts to go on.

I believe it comes down to planning. I don’t do enough of it and I don’t truly understand my own idea. I know the beginning, I know the end, but I do not know my middle- and that is what trips me.

Sometimes, though, the enthusiasm comes back. After months of not writing, a piece of the puzzle will click into place, and my eyes will literally widen as I realize another chunk of my story. It is like my mind reveals small parts of my story to me over time, demanding my attention and then letting it go with a smirk and a middle finger.

Today, I am going to do something I have never truly done before: I will write an outline. Step-by-step, what I will write will be outlined and worked on and the shadowy corners of my mind will be lit with the light of understanding. Maybe then I will allow myself to finish and I can finally prove to myself, and others, that I can finish what I start.

 

Jack Strong is an unusual affair- so, of course, I just had to read it.

See, Jack is a man. Kind of. In fact, he’s a man made up of men and women, souls all trapped inside the same body looking to finish their business on Earth and move on. But when there are thousands of souls within one body, doesn’t it get a little confusing?

Well yes, it does.

This is the problem with Walter Mosley’s Jack Strong. It is a great, interesting, unusual premise that both works and doesn’t work all at the same time. Jack’s confusion is evident from the start. Of course, who wouldn’t be confused with one thousand voices piping up to tell you what to do or control your body or answer your questions… or make decisions? In one foul swoop, we have one thousand characters and voices to read, and we feel the confusion Jack himself must feel. But at the same time, it is a messy ordeal and is difficult to read.

It’s a hard dilemma, I must admit.

It would be easier to read if the pace was slower, I admit that. If we, as readers, had a moment to sort through the voices and figure out what was happening, it would be much better for us to follow the story and carry on. But there is something about the narrative- something that makes you skip along to the next paragraph without turning back, forcing you to confuse yourself more and more, until you don’t have a clue what’s happening.

Luckily, the book is short, as it must be. If it were any longer, the novelty of such an effect would wear off and I would have closed it and stopped reading.

It’s hard to keep up with one thousand people. Jack Strong knows it. Now I, as a reader, know that too.

Effective and alarmingly simple, it is a book that is difficult to judge, but is a thought-provoking look into the souls of the dead and the thousands of unheard voices all around us.

*

Thank you so much to Walter Mosley and Open Road Integrated Media for allowing me to review this book. I got a copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Before I begin, I feel that I must admit something: I had my doubts when I began to read this book. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. But it wasn’t the cover that made me snobby, it was something else entirely.

See, I had not heard anything of this book before this book found its way into my hands. SL Dunn himself was not someone I had ever heard of, nor had any great reviews to inspire faith in him. This, for me, created a large amount of reluctance on my part. My inner snob came out in full force, looking for some reason to dislike and potentially trash this novel.

It was the other side of me, the reasonable side of me, which won- and I mean it won by a landslide.

The moment I opened the book and began to read, I knew that I would like this book. The prose melts smoothly from line to line, creating pictures in my imagination with extreme ease, supported fully by a cast of characters that are brought to life through wonderfully written actions and reactions. Conversations between characters are well-written and interesting. The story is intelligent and teeming with questions of ethics and science… and that is only the first chapter!

Once I began to read, any preconceptions I had of the novel faded away, and I quickly found myself engrossed in the words before me. At times, a page or two will follow the characters through a mundane task for a little while, though it never feels boring- instead, it is used as a brilliant means to show us the characters we will be reading and allowing us a little time to get to know them.

The story itself is an interesting affair, with the multiple characters having their own part to play in the events played both on Earth and in Anthem. The mix between characters further increases the intensity of the story and I constantly found myself wanting not just to see what would happen next, but who we would be alongside. This is a rare feat in itself.

The ethical issues brought up in the book, while fascinating, are largely based upon scientific and anthropologic issues, and it is evident that Mr. Dunn has a great amount of knowledge in those areas. This is both good and bad, as it brings up an interesting topic, though it makes a light read bogged down with information and facts. It was only a little jarring, and is certainly not a complaint.

Overall, I must admit that I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I very much look forward to reading an upcoming sequel to the book, and would definitely recommend it to somebody looking for something original, thought-provoking and willing to try something new.

*

Thank you so much to S.L. Dunn and Prospect Hill Press for allowing me to review this ARC for them.

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Netwars: The Code- Episode 1 is the first part of a planned series that introduces us to Strider- a vigilante hacker that bites off more than he can chew after he kills a CEO of a software company. It is a series reminiscent of a mix between Dexter and Swordfish, combining real world consequences with the virtual world of hackers.

My interest in Netwars began from my personal experience. As I read the synopsis for the book, my interest grew more and more. See, my knowledge of the Deep Web is not too shabby. True, I am no expert in hacking or any computer-related things, but my knowledge is not so bad that i couldn’t tell if random phrases were on the page as opposed to real ones. In this, however, Netwars succeeds. In brings real technology into a fictional setting quite easily and is smart enough to know its own content.

However, there are a few ways in which Netwars fails to succeed.

The character of Strider- although interesting- very quickly made me think of Batman. By day, Strider is living his everyday life, being a nerd and being a normal guy. But then when night falls, he’s the (virtually) capped crusader, hacking the computers of bad guys and dolling out justice to those that deserve it. This made the character appear a little two-dimensional and, I hate to say it, corny. I get it that Strider is super-cool and doesn’t like feelings too much. All Strider needed was a pair of sunglasses, a trench coat and a samurai sword. But that would be a bit too unrealistic.

In order to keep a reader liking your character, a writer must do more than give them some problems to solve- they must keep the mystery going. Netwars fails to perform this task the moment Strider’s entire life history is dumped onto us in the second chapter. Instead of being shown the facets of Strider’s personality, we are told everything. This creates a lapse in the speed of the narrative and takes away all interest I had in learning the character’s history and motivations all at once.

Having said all of this negativity, there are some positive moments. The prose- when not stopping to dump large amounts of information on us about hacker stuff- is fast-paced and fun. The story itself is a mysterious number that causes us to question what will happen next, and it can be a seriously cool affair, if you relax.

I would be interested to see where the series goes, though how many episodes I could read I am not too sure of yet.

For this, I give it three stars out of five.

*

This review was based on a copy of the book provided to me on NetGalley.

A big thank you to those that have allowed me the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

 

As I flick through the opening pages of Fool’s Assassin, there is a moment when I stop myself. I am at the contents page, and the realization that I am, once again, about to follow FitzChivalry Farseer through a wonderful maze of books causes my eyes to well up and an excitement to set me on edge.

So, instead of turning to the first page and ploughing ahead, I take a moment to think.

It has been eleven years since the release of Fool’s Fate, and with that comes a certain fear: though- like all fans- I wish to see a continuance of my dear Fitz’s story, I also fear the change. When I first read Fitz’s story, during the Farseer Trilogy, I was a young boy myself, barely older than fourteen years old. This created an odd connection between myself and the character, as I could easily project myself onto him.

Then, reading the Tawny Man trilogy, I was familiar enough with the world and the characters to be able to look past the difference in our age. I had grown with him, so to speak, and was ready to entre fatherhood alongside the man I now called my friend.

But now, with the Fitz and the Fool trilogy at hand, I couldn’t help but wonder: how am I going to feel, knowing now that Fitz is getting older?

Straight from page one, Fitz’s story filled me with both a profound enjoyment at being alongside my friend again, but also a melancholy realization of just how much things have changed. Over ten years have passed since the disappearance of the Fool, and Fitz is happy living a simple life beside his beloved Molly. But time changes all things, and every page is dripping with change.

Characters who were once children now have children of their own. Men and women who were old enough to be adults during Fitz’s childhood are now senile or dead, and even Molly herself is creaking with age. It hurt to see this within the beloved characters we have once loved, but is certainly an indication of the change that Robin Hobb has chosen to write about.

Fitz’s understandable reluctance to re-enter the world of politics is a large part of the story, though the nature of Fitz himself is very much called into question. Is there a part of Fitz that misses the old life? If not, why does he keep mementos of his old days? A man like Fitz can never truly move on after making so much sacrifice, surely?

These questions are what are so great about Fitz and the world around him. He is willing to look at things from many perspectives and is not just a tool used to give the reader a narration- he is a real man, with his own strengths and weaknesses, his own fears and worries. This has not changed with Fitz, nor has it changed with the entire wonderful cast of characters- both old and new. No character ever feels stale or fake.

The story seems to almost take a background route at times, while we come to terms with the changes this story has created for us. But there, hidden in the shadows, the mysterious story lies, pulling us deeper and deeper into the world and tempting us with promises of greatness. It does, however, try to trickle us with nuggets of information that any true fan could easily have come with for themselves, but the presentation of the revelations are always great and logically laid out, which certainly eases any misgivings I could have had with it.

For myself, the largest problem with the book ended up that is does end on a cliff-hanger, and I wanted to immediately grab the next book and begin again. But this is precisely what makes the books so wonderful to read.

So, dear fans and readers, prepare to feel happy and melancholic both at once, as you allow yourself to once again slip into the skin of FitzChivalry Farseer. Do not fear the changes wrought by Robin Hobb, like I did, but embrace them, and you will be once more happy.

*

Thank you very much to Harper Voyager for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book. It was an ARC from Netgalley.

This review is available both on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18658063-fool-s-assassin

 

And on A Writer’s Wonderland: http://www.awriterswonderland.com

 

So I have now reached 10,000 words of my latest work, tentatively named The Scoundrels.

Overall, I’m unsure of what to feel about it. Will it ever be great; will it ever turn out to be brilliant literature? I highly doubt it. But right now, it’s hard to have the smallest idea of how it will turn out.

You see, this is merely my first draft- and though I think it may one day show small promise- it is right now a great big, steaming pile of crap compared to what I know I can do.

The description is clunky at best. the character names are ridiculous and sentences directly contradict each other: one second it’s daytime, the next it’s nighttime. This leaves everything into an awful, confusing mess that makes sense to nobody but myself. But I’m not afraid of it, and here’s why:

I did something a few days ago. I edited the first five hundred or so words of the story. I polished those words and made them prettier, made the characterization much more wonderful and painted a picture much more clear and much less minimalistic. Then I looked back at the words and smiled.

Yes, there is potential, I told myself.

So yes, it is a pile of crap right now. But whenever I’m in doubt of what I am writing, I remind myself of those first five hundred words. I look at them and realize how different they are from the original writing and I feel okay.

I can’t tell a story and write beautiful sentences all at once. Some can; I can’t. I accept that.

One day, I hope, The Scoundrels will be a passably good work. Until then, I’ll wrinkle my nose and plow through it, trying not to heave.

 

BONUS FOR READING: READ THAT EDITED 500 WORDS!!!!

(It’s not perfect; it still needs work. But have a quick glance and tell me what you think!)

I first notice the smoke as we make our way through the forest, the dark cloud rising lazily above the trees and into the bright blue of the cloudless sky. One glance at the smoke and my heart feels heavy in my chest; though I try to tell myself it is the smoke of a local farmer’s bonfire. My heart knows my mind’s deception and the dread inside me increases, welling in my heart and moving its way down into my stomach, bubbling like a pit of lava.

‘Hurry up,’ I yell behind my shoulder as I wade through the grass. I hear no reply, though the rustling of the tall grass turns into a frenzy and I can almost discern the individual movements of all twenty men as they pick up their pace.

Fighting through the thicket of trees, low branches claw at me as I keep my eyes to the sky, my neck tipping my head back further and further as I move onwards and closer to the cause of my dread. By the time I reach the clearing, the first traces of the smoke’s scent has reached my nostrils and confirmed my heart’s prediction.

The smell of a burning body is one that is instantly recognisable to those that have smelled it before. The stench hangs in the air, pervading the senses with its acridness. The scent is a mixture of small smells, combined to create a vast, pungent odor. It is sweet, putrid and streaky all at once, and its taste forms on the tongue, leaving an aftertaste akin to burnt pork. It’s a smell you never forget, and a taste that quells even the hungriest of stomachs.

Behind me, I hear a curse, and I turn to see Sutland cupping his mouth and nose with his hands, his eyes wide. ‘The smell…’ his muffled voice says, and I grimace.

‘Yes, the smell…’ I say, and my voice sounds grim, even to my own ears.

Behind Sutland, the reactions on the men’s faces vary. Most faces mirror my own, their noses wrinkled in disgust. Others, however, seem to hold a queer calmness and I’m sure I hear the high note of a laugh somewhere further in the back.

‘Hey!’ I shout towards the sound. ‘Quit your laughing and get your ass over here!’

The laugh stops short and the forest is soon filled with silence as the men gather around me in an unorganized mess. I look at the collection of faces around me.

‘All of you can smell what we’re about to find. Some of you have seen this before; some of you are new to it. But no matter what we find, remember: the perpetrators could still be nearby, so keep your guard up.

‘When we get to the burning, split up and look for survivors. If you find any, blow your horn and everyone else will come running. You’d better all come running, because once I have the answers I need, we are leaving. If you’re not gathered with us by the time we leave, you’re catching up or you’re staying. Don’t get caught behind looting a body; do it quick and join us as quickly as you can.’ With the last sentence I look at Golt and he nods. With a nod back, I turn and continue towards the smoke, forcing a path through the last of the trees.

When I emerge, the village comes into view and I’m taken aback at its closeness. Untouched parts of the village look charming in the sunshine of the morning sky, with yellow straw-thatched roofs against a backdrop of blue.

The buildings that were burned had been left smouldering, and in places the supports still held, the wood blackened and covered in grey ash. With a look around the open field, I walk with caution towards the village, safe in the fact that a small unit of killers follow at my heels.

Behind me, I hear an arrow being drawn from Redding’s quiver and remind myself that if I should find anything that wishes to kill me, all I need to do is duck.

It takes me about a minute to get to the closest building, and I slowly poke my head around its corner and into the gap between two buildings. I see a foot and half of a leg, both covered with what looks like dirty rags.