Dec 28 2012

Rewiews From My Friends On Goodreads

Posted by Mathias

The following book reviews are from my friends on Goodreads. (more…)

Nov 27 2012

Book Review: Peter V. Brett’s The Warded Man

Posted by Mathias

The world is a dangerous place at night.  Demons (corelings) from the core roam free.  The only things holding them back are wards that must be meticulously cared for or else those hiding behind them become food for the demons.

The Warded Man by Peter Brett follows three different characters (Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer) as they grow up and mature in this world; each learning how to combat the demons in their own way.  At times, the story needlessly diverges from these characters and sucks in a few other, not even secondary, characters to provide some other points of view, but these are the three main characters.  These other POV characters appear for just a brief enough period of time that they don’t detract greatly from the narrative. (more…)

Oct 28 2012

Book Review: Tina Connolly’s Ironskin

Posted by Mathias

Warning: May Contain Spoilers!

Ironskin follows the tale of twenty-one year old Jane Elliot, a survivor of the Great War with the Fey (magical, fairy-like creatures).  She was scarred by a fey bomb that left traces of their magic upon her.  Those maimed as such are cursed, making themselves and others around them feel a particular, intense emotion or sensation.  Jane’s happens to be rage.  To counteract the curse, those who are scared wear iron, for the Fey are repelled by it.  Jane’s scar is on her face, thus she wears a mask.  To say that Jane considers herself hideous to look at and suffers from self esteem issues is putting it lightly.

The story opens with Jane taking a governess position at an estate called Silver Birch.  The estate is home for a mysterious man (Edward Rochart) and his even more mysterious daughter (Dorie) who, despite not being scared, possesses Fey talents. (more…)

Oct 26 2012

Book Review: The Choosing, written by Jeremy Laszio

Posted by Mathias

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Choosing from Mr. Laszio in exchange for an honest review. 

WARNING! May contain spoilers!

The Choosing, I’m sorry to say, had a very, very difficult time even registering on my scale of 0 to 5 stars.  For the first three quarters of the book, I was seriously considering giving it less than one star.  The short reasoning for this is that this story is simply not on par with what I expect from a fantasy novel.  I think my standards are fairly reasonable.  But honestly, The Choosing feels like an unedited, or only lightly edited, draft of a story.  It is missing so much.  It does tell a story, but stumbles in doing so.  And in my opinion the story is not that solid.
(more…)

Sep 29 2012

Book Review: Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook

Posted by Mathias

Myfanwy (the w is silent) Thomas has no memory of why she is surrounded by dead people wearing rubber gloves. So starts the story told by Daniel O’Malley in The Rook. The Rook is a paranormal sci-fi / fantasy about covert British (and American) operatives who have supernatural abilities and deal with supernatural phenomena.

The story follows Myfanwy as she slowly discovers who she is. Who she is is a member of said paranormal agency, holding a position known as a Rook. She has been attacked and her memories stolen. Fortunately for Myfanwy, her former self had some prewarning that she was going to lose her memory. So the prior Myfanwy Thomas left the new Myfanwy Thomas a series of letters explaining all that she knew. (more…)

Sep 28 2012

Under the Darkened Moon Critiques (Both Good And Bad)

Posted by Mathias

I encourage people to say what they really think whenever they are reading my work in progress (Under the Darkened Moon). I haven’t had it in a formal review setting since I started the live read and final draft process. But, prior to that, I got a lot of feedback from a variety of sources including: my standard review group, writer friends of mine (published and unpublished), and people who I know and who like to read fantasy.

I’m not someone who isn’t willing to let people, whether they liked the book or not, have their say. Here is a sampling of the good and the bad that I got as feedback: (more…)

Sep 09 2012

Sometimes The Movie Is Better Than The Book – Sometimes Not

Posted by Mathias

There are some people who insist that the book is always better than the movie.  I don’t agree.  There are so many factors that go into what makes a good movie and what makes a good book.  I’ve seen my share of movies that actually trump the book they were based on.  As much as Tolkien fanboys disagree, Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring trilogy was far superior to the books in my opinion.  Tolkien’s prose is, well, cumbersome, clumsy, and a little bulky.  I still liked the books, although only The Two Towers ranks in my top 20 fiction/fantasy/science fiction books of all time.  I know, sacriledge!  Don’t care. (more…)

Jul 10 2012

The Value Of Multiple Opinions

Posted by Mathias

Lots of writers make a very deadly decision in that they do not get multiple opinions on their work. Instead, they write something and have one trusted source review their work. If they even do that at all. Many authors never seek opinions on what they have written.

The “trusted” source many authors turn to is usually a spouse, girl/boy friend, close friends or some other such person they feel comfortable with. Usually, the result of such forays is a comment like, “It’s great! Don’t change anything!”

If you are one of the lucky ones that actually do get good quality feedback from your single, trusted confidant, you are still short changing yourself. Even if you get comments that point out problems with your prose, plot, character development, etc., getting other opinions doesn’t hurt. (more…)

Jun 04 2012

Being Practical With My Showing

Posted by Mathias

You hear it all the time as an author.  They say, “show, don’t tell”.  The problem with that advice is that it is just too simplistic.  You can’t always show.  Everyone who has written anything knows it.  Prose becomes too unweildy and awkward if everything you do is “showing”.  A recent example of a book that I read which, I felt, suffered from bout after bout of over showing was The Scar by Sergey Dyachenko.

By about halfway through this story, I’ll be honest, I was burned out by the author trying to find new ways of “showing” the lead character’s fear.  Even when the showing was good, the constant showing still had ground me down.  As an author myself I would never do as much showing as Dyachenko did.  But, even though this is my opinion, there are people out there that love this sort of prose and over showing.

That makes it even more difficult as an author to determine how to balance the showing and telling in a story.  I’m still struggling with it.  All I know is that I have to pick my spots.  Every time I edit, I swap a show for a tell here and a tell for a show there.

Showing takes words.  It takes a lot more words than telling.  Telling can make prose move fast and has its places.  But short shows can have the same effect.  I

I’m trying to be more practical with my showing.  I’m not a flowery writer.  So I don’t try to write puffed up descriptions of what is goin on.  I try to make my shows short.  They almost seem like tells at times.  I’m trying to not speak outside my voice and so far, I have gotten no complaints from any of the reviewers that I did not “show” enough.  The problem is, what will publishers think? Will they agree?

Sad thing is, I won’t know for a while.  Here’s hoping that my trying to be practical with my shows versus tells is what publishers are looking for.

May 26 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Posted by Mathias

Warning! May contain spoilers!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the latest iteration of an often-told story; how people who have no beef with one another behave when forced to for survival. Whether it is any number of tales of gladiators, Koushun Tukami’s Battle Royale, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Steven King’s The Running Man or the movie adaptation, it is impossible to say that this topic has not been explored and that the concept is unique in any way. In fact, Collins’ tale of Katniss Everdeen is not unique in the grand scheme of story telling and The Hunger Games reflects many similarities to the stories I just listed. However, despite these similarities the story has enough significant differences from any of them in particular to stand on its own.

In a post apocalyptic America a totalitarian government reigns over twelve districts where residents slave to produce the goods demanded of them. Every year, as punishment for a revolt against the Capitol decades prior, The Hunger Games are undertaken. Sadistically the rulers demand that two children, a boy and a girl, from each district fight to the death until only one remains as a reminder of the power held over them. Katniss volunteers to take the place of her sister, who is initially selected, and thrown into a fight for survival along with her other Tributes from the other districts.

What I liked about the story is that it is told in the first person. Normally I find novels written in such a point of view dull and monotonous. And while the prose of this novel is extremely simple, the first person POV helps this story immensely. So many authors, when dealing with so many characters have the habit of resorting to head popping and flooding the reader with information that comes from too many sources. This has the annoying habit of turning a story into a long, drawn out trilogy of books. Had The Hunger Games adopted such an approach I dare say it would have been unbearably long and dull. Also, what I liked was how Collins kept a good pace to the novel from the mid point to the end. Even the slow points early on have purpose in the story telling.

What I liked least, I won’t say hated because that is too strong of a word, was, again the overly simplistic prose. It worked but there were many points where I felt it could have been better and more detailed. The book was, also, alas fairly predictable. The problem with first person narratives is that you are pretty much locked on to a particular character who you know is going to survive and that death is not going to touch. Sure, Katniss is in danger often, but you never fear for her and the question only becomes how will she escape this time right up until the very end.

Another thing that I liked was that Collins, while she focuses on Katniss throughout the narrative, never really makes you hate any of the other tributes, kids, fighting for their lives against her. Sure, you catch glimpses of Katniss’ disdain for the “career tributes” who, unlike her, are trained for this sort of thing out of pride, but you realize throughout the book that these are just other kids who are fighting for their lives as Katniss is. You are not given insight into the other tributes reasons, desires or particular situations except for when Katniss interacts with them. For example, late in the book, even though you have been drawn to care about Katniss and even Peeta’s, her fellow tribute from District 12, survival you catch a glimpse at how Cato, from District 2, rushes to the aide of the fallen Clove, also from District 2. You do not know what his motivations are, does he really care about her or is he just worried that he will no longer have an ally and be at a decided disadvantage? But you see that he does care about something and is not some faceless foe.

As for rating The Hunger Games as a novel I have had to consider this for a few days since penning this review. It is a good book. Part of me wants to give it three and three quarters stars just because of the simplistic prose, predictable plot and glaring similarities to previous stories tackling similar subject matter. Another part of me wants to rank it at four and a quarter stars because I still found it interesting and a good read from start to finish and one of the best books I have read in a long time. But, to give it such a high ranking would put it in league with some fabulous books I have read in the past which it really is not in the same category with. So, I have decided to split the difference and give it four out of five stars. This means that it is not in the same category as truly great books but certainly much, much better than most of what is published these days. I would highly suggest The Hunger Games.

   

Note: I have not seen the movie adaptation at this time.