JUNE 2015 REVIEWS
June 13th, 2015
The Roses: An Anthology
By: Andrea Mouser, Alda Nielsdóttir, and Laney Smith, et al.
"These six authors, all previously involved in "The Tenants of Building 38," an anthology supporting the battle against cancer, now come together in this new anthology to raise money for a new cause, Cystic Fibrosis.
All the proceeds from "The Roses" will go to The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation."
The Short and Sweet:
"The Roses: An Anthology" is a collection of short stories from several different authors. Each author displays a unique voice in their writing, and their stories convey different morals and sentiments. Be forewarned: these are not happy reads by any means -- they are emotional, and I believe drawing attention to the problems mentioned within the book was its chief purpose.
What I Liked About the Book:
I'll be the first to admit it: I'm not a particularly emotional guy. With the exception of dogs dying or Batman's alluded death in "The Dark Knight Rises," I don't well up or feel many tugs on my heart strings. Now, I'm not bragging, that's just how I was raised. More so, it's perfectly natural if you are an emotional person. I'm currently involved in a relationship with an empath, and although it can be annoying at times, it's also fulfilling to know there're unique perceptions of the world that differ from my own.
From a reader's standpoint, when I find a book that forces me to yell at my Kindle screen, hoping an antagonist can hear me, I know I've found something worthwhile. As an author, it's a sign you've discovered quality reading in another author, and it's something to be proud of; if a writer evokes primal feelings within their readers, they're doing it [writing] right.
The writing was simple, avoided florid prose, and was mostly considerate of the reader's time. The most important part, however, was the subject matter. These are topics that are commonly explored in creative writing classes a couple months into the coursework, when trust has been established among peers. Dark stories, often involving death. It's nice to read about the taboo from time to time.
What the Book Lacked:
When it comes to indie writing, the room for making mistakes is extremely minimal -- close to none, actually. Indies start off with the entire literary world against them. Having engaged in a debate in one of the few Facebook groups I frequent (something I try not to do as much anymore, as it's considered "writer suicide"), I learned just how biased some folks can be toward indie writers. In the public eye, there are negative preconceptions against indies...
Here's just a few:
*Indie-produced books are devoid of actual content, and their pieces, as well as future indies', are perceived as a waste of time.
*Indies do not spend enough time researching their work, so they parrot false data or create unique fallacies.
*Typos and other grammatical errors galore.
*Indie books (paperback/hardcover) are often produced in poor quality due to poor funding.
Get the idea?
Well, I hate to say it, but sometimes those preconceptions are apt. In the case of "The Roses: An Anthology," the version I had reviewed was peppered with grammatical and formatting errors. After completing the read, I contacted one of the writers to let them know, and was informed there has since been updates addressing these issues. I don't know what the current edition looks like, but I'm sure these mistakes have been mended. This was a commendable move on part of the authors, and any writer who has the decency to admit and address that type of mistake is a writer worth reading.
The stories themselves are great, though. So it's a shame this had to happen in the first place. If you're an indie reading this right now, take notes: invest in a good formatting specialist to achieve valuable professionalism.
Will I Be Reading More From These Authors?
Like I'd mentioned earlier, I was moved by this book. More so, I was informed. Short answer: yes, I will be reading more from these authors.
"The Roses: An Anthology" is an emotional read targeted toward the YA demographic, but carries adult themes. Everything from abusive relationships to dealing with a surprise diagnosis of cancer (which I felt heavily invoked "The Fault in Our Stars") in a loved one is explored. I was bummed out at parts, and I felt anger toward a few characters as well. All in all, it's a worthwhile read, so go check it out.
June 1st, 2015
By: Dean F. Wilson
"In the world of Altadas, there are no more human births. The Regime is replacing the unborn with demons, while the Resistance is trying to destroy a drug called Hope that the demons need to survive.
Between these two warring factions lies Jacob, a man who profits from smuggling contraceptive amulets into the city of Blackout. He cares little about the Great Iron War, but a chance capture, and an even more accidental rescue, embroils him in a plot to starve the Regime from power.
When Hope is an enemy, Jacob finds it harder than he thought to remain indifferent. When the Resistance opts to field its experimental landship, the Hopebreaker, the world may find that one victory does not win a war."
The Short and Sweet:
"Hopebreaker" by Dean F. Wilson is a Steampunk-action novel which reads like a character study and an action flick bundle. "Hopebreaker" takes off a little slower than I'd expected, but ends quite strong just before the end. When I'd first started reading, I felt a little let down, because I'd seen the cover of the book--a tank running through the barren wasteland that is now Altadas--and experienced a slight moment of action, wherein Jacob (the protag) was caught smuggling amulets, and then immediately the story slowed down thereafter. The life of a smuggler is one full of intense action and intrigue, so I would've loved to see Jacob kick a little more butt in the intro. Understandably, prolonged action sequences tend to make a story feel like it was written by a 12-year-old on 'roid rage, but Wilson's point of entry just didn't play off smoothly for me. I desired more. However, if you stay with the story, I promise you that it gets better. Make sure you stick around for this one--"Hopebreaker" is sneaky like that. Get beyond the 50% mark, and you'll find yourself engulfed in his world.
What I Liked About the Book:
Wilson's writing is spectacular. Not many writers can nail that Steampunk feel, but Wilson attains it quite well, and he does so whilst maintaining his pride; no cheap gimmicks in this one, folks. He has a way of building characters and settings that are both considerate to the readers and endearing. Altadas, although a horrible place that I would never want to live in, is a dystopic wonderland for fans of books like "Hunger Games" or anything Steampunk. Altadas is so damn corrupt that I can't help but love it! Furthermore, what I found even more interesting is that the plot of "Hopebreaker" felt like a Steampunk remix of one of my favorite movies starring Clive Owen, "Children of Men". The world is engulfed in chaos, infertility is rampant, and Hope is now known as a drug (try and let the symbolism escape you on that one, if you can). There were a few action sequences in this book that felt like I was watching a Hollywood blockbuster, as well. Near the end of the story, I found myself glued to my Kindle, hoping it'd never end. Spoiler alert: It does end... but not before some gruesome scenes are explored in pleasant detail.
What the Book Lacked:
Although "Hopebreaker" pulls you in during its action sequences, it does the opposite throughout a good chunk of the book. The problem lies in its dialogue. I found that Wilson's writing, when not going into awesome details about things blowing up or people getting shot, has an overabundance of exposition and lengthy dialogue exchanges. In future books, I would like to see things mixed up, and walk through the story, rather than have my hand held through it.
Will I Be Reading More From This Author?
There aren't many writers whom possess the skill to craft a quality Steampunk book. Many attempts are riddled with obligatory gimmicks as a selling point, and beneath that facade is a hollow shell. Wilson's "Hopebreaker," however, was a quality story with a few flaws here and there. Albeit slow at parts, I didn't regret reading this book. I'm hoping the sequels will be better, because I feel like the world he fleshed out shows a lot of potential. I adored the action sequences, as well.
"Hopebreaker" is a strong story in the making, which I believe is part of a much larger, more action-packed series. It's slow at parts, but Wilson knows how to write action sequences surprisingly well, as seen in the texts. I recommend picking it up immediately!