Sunday, 28 December 2014

Book review: Warrior Lore - Scandinavian Folk Ballads by Ian Cumpstey

Warrior Lore

'Warrior Lore' is a compilation of Scandinavian ballads translated by Ian Cumpstey. He has used various sources in order to render a modern and beautiful English translation of the ballads.

This compilation has been created for the general public, and Cumpstey has certainly achieved his goal. In preparation for this review I researched other English translations of each ballad in order to determine its level of readability. After searching, I found there were not many English translations of these ballads, at least not easily found. The only one which I was able to find in a public place was the ballad of Hilla-Lill, as the ballad inspired a famous watercolour. I found two translations, one by William Morris and the other by Whitley Stokes. Both have similar features to Cumpstey’s translation, but it is clear – and Mr. Cumpstey made mention of this in his notes – that there are different manuscripts used. This happens quite often with translations of all literature. Multiple manuscripts are used in order to produce a more fluid English translation. As it happens, sometimes using more manuscripts gives a more accurate translation, as well, and gives a bit more insight to the original intent of the ballad. I have seen this before with Chaucer’s “Truth” where only one known manuscript had an extra verse addressed to Vache and it has been argued that this has given us insight into Chaucer’s life and social circle.

Overall, the ballads are extremely readable and quite enjoyable. It is quite clear these are ballads rather than epic poems. I can imagine these being sung quite easily. Each flows well with the others and it shows a distinct style of Scandinavian ballads that I had not known before. This is the most recent translation of any of these ballads and for anyone slightly interested in medieval ballads, or specifically Scandinavian ones, I would highly suggest Cumpstey’s translation and compilation in ‘Warrior Lore.’

Click here for this book's Amazon page

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Release date review: The Infernal Lands by J.C Staudt

The Infernal Lands (The Aionach Saga, #1)

'The Infernal Lands' by J.C Staudt is what happens when an author combines nearly every genre, gives it a punch of a post apocalyptic society, and lets it run wild. At times, it's even reminiscent of the wild west.

This rarely happens to me, but I was hooked from simply the first paragraph. So much so that I had to write that down on my calendar. You may think I'm exaggerating, but you're reading it here.

Early on I got the sense of a Martin-esque world, in regards to the characters and depth. There are quite a few main plots and characters, but that only makes me want to read more and faster. It's difficult to give much of a summary with so many strings of plot, and without giving too much to say. But I can say that this saga is one you do not want to miss. The epic journey of this devastated wasteland is on the scale of Tolkien, without being bogged down by the addition of history lessons. We're given exactly what we need to know, and when. For J.C Staudt's second novel, this is definitely a winner. Keep an eye out for his future books; you absolutely will not be disappointed.

Click here for this book's Amazon page

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pre-release review: Caramel by Haji Outlaw

Caramel: Part I

'Caramel' by Haji Outlaw is the first part in an extremely dark and sinister series featuring a futuristic society where all those who have survived the harrowing climate change are boxed into one skyscraper, the Giddings. The novella mainly focuses on a teenager with no words, but is given the title name, Caramel. In the bowels of the Giddings, Caramel begins to ascend the ladder through fighting matches while those who have attempted to find sanctuary must survive the unlikeliest of foes.

It may be the world we currently live in which has jaded our minds, but most futuristic novels showcase a bleak, if not entirely hopeless, prediction of what is to come. 'Caramel' is no different. If anything, it's one of the bleakest, despite the likely unintentional homage to Monty Python. Set in 2112 (a nice sounding year to those who like symmetry such as myself) this novella has a few issues, which are equaled thankfully with the way in which the world is described. The use of songs that are not necessarily popular today is a bit anachronistic to me. I have a hard time believing that a hit song by Prince (if that's what he's still known as) will survive another 98 years. There are some other issues with clich├ęs and metaphors, but let's face it: there are plenty of issues with Game of Thrones but those haven't hindered its popularity.

Overall, 'Caramel' is an interesting story. It makes you want to know more about the mysterious characters, and more about the world - or rather the building - they live in. This seems to be the first in a series, which could have probably been written into one novel, but I'm still interested to see what happens next.

'Caramel' is available December 12, 2014.

Click here for this book's Amazon page

Friday, 5 December 2014

IndieView with reviewer N.M Sotzek

About Reviewing

How did you get started?
When I began writing professionally (or at least on track to be at the time) I joined a writer’s website where we were encouraged to critique and review each other’s work. After my first book was published I wanted to help other authors so I became a reviewer for Reader’s Favorite. I joined those reviews up with a blog I had wanted to start for a while, and that’s where I am now.

How do you review a book? Is it a read first, and then make notes, or do you make notes as you go along?
I used to take notes, more when I made critiques rather than reviews. Now I review strictly as a reader, but I try to keep a professional eye open. It’s said that doctors make the worst patients, and sometimes it can be the same for authors which is why I try to remind myself to be a reader. I keep in mind that what I find to be not-so pleasant others may enjoy.

What are you looking for?
Above all I look for a good story. Other things vary by genre. In historical fiction I look for historical accuracy, and I’ll admit that I am quite particular about that. I also look for a unique concept and storyline. There’s nothing worse than reading the same story with the same characters over and over. I also look for professionalism. If you want me to give a professional review, give me a professional novel to read. In the self-publishing business, we need to be as professional as possible.

If a book has a great plot, great characters, but the grammar is less than perfect, how do you deal with that?
I cringe, but usually look past it. If the plot takes me in far enough to forget about the grammar then I consider it a good (albeit somewhat flawed) novel.

How long does it take you to get through, say, an eighty thousand-word book?
It generally takes me from a day to two weeks depending on how much I enjoy the book.

How did you come up with your rating system, and could you explain more about the rating system?
Personally, my rating system is based on what has already been published. I want something unique, so if I get a novel about angsty vampires it likely won’t get a high rating. When giving a “star” review, I actually look at the rating system on Goodreads and keep that in mind.

What advice could you give to authors looking to get their books reviewed?
See the answer to this and more questions by going to the original post.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Book Review: Paris Syndrome by Tahir Shah

'Paris Syndrome' by Tahir Shah is the unique and dark comedic story of Miki Suzuki. It has been her life's goal to go to Paris. Obsessing over the French capital for twenty years, Miki finally has the chance to go to her beloved city. Upon her arrival, however, she discovers that Paris is nothing like the pictures in her coffee table books. She soon falls victim to what is known as Paris Syndrome. Thus ensues her hysteria and with it, the slightly exaggerated and ridiculous schism between the Japanese and French government. All due to Miki's antics, and all for the sake of a coin purse for her grandfather from Louis Vuitton.

The drama and comedy are stitched so close together in this novel that I wasn't sure where one ended and the other began. 'Paris Syndrome' is written for a very distinct audience and some of the brilliant humour may be lost on some. Despite the unnecessary number of chapters, 'Paris Syndrome' has a little bit of something for everyone: depictions of Japanese and French culture, romance, suspense, and psychology. At times the humour seems a bit vague and more frustrating than satirical but 'Paris Syndrome' is, if nothing else, a thoroughly entertaining novel.

Click here for this book's Amazon page

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Book Review: The Mine by John A. Heldt


‘The Mine (Northwest Passage #1)’ by John A. Heldt is the compelling story of Joel Smith who, despite his ordinary name, begins an extraordinary journey which inadvertently changes the lives of a tight group of friends in 1941. This is a bit of a problem for Joel. He’s from the year 2000. Quickly adapting to his new life, Joel finds himself falling for a woman from a different time. He soon realizes that he must make a difficult decision: go back to the time to which he belongs, or stay with the woman he loves and change the lives of those who have yet to be born.
At first this novel seems to be a new take on concepts we have seen in both film and literature. Reminiscent of ‘Back to the Future’ (which is referenced multiple times within the novel), ‘The Mine’ explores the theory of time travel and its consequences on those both in the past and future. On the other hand, it reminds me of the movie ‘Somewhere in Time,’ a poignant film about the type of love which spans decades. It soon becomes clear that while ‘The Mine’ is a story about time travel, it is something so much more. Heldt did a wonderful job writing a novel which draws out deep emotions and explores various aspects of what it means to have a fulfilling life. On one hand, Joel is soon to graduate which many view as an important milestone. Yet he is tempted to risk it all for the love of his life.
What impressed me was how easily I was transported back to 1941, a time when America is on the brink of war and Glenn Miller is the ‘bee’s knees.’ Heldt clearly did his research, which showed through his beautiful description of the world Joel has found himself in. ‘The Mine’ employs the clever tactic of ridiculously short chapters, one which worked extremely well on me and had me constantly telling myself I would only read “one more chapter.” There are few novels which stray from the predictable model, and I am happy to say that ‘The Mine’ is one of them. Just when all hope is lost, Heldt shows us the power of true love, and the power of his lovely and descriptive writing.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Book review: The Lineage by Dale Martin

Reviewed by for Readers' Favorite

Dale Martin tells the story of Wes Aettian, a young man ordinary in every way except for two things: he is to be king, and he is part of ancient and sacred bloodline. In Martin’s The Lineage, we follow Wes in his journey of becoming king and fulfilling a prophecy. The Aettians, the royal family of Cassia, are in hiding from the invading Naborn. Upon his father’s death, Wes discovers that, although he is the middle-born son, he is the Chosen Heir. Eventually he discovers that he is the heir to more than the Cassian throne. The Lineage is a beautiful story – reminiscent in many ways to the Bible – that allows us to watch Wes grow from a young man into a king and a man firm in his faith in God, the Creator, and one true King.

The Lineage is a wonderfully thrilling book. The writing is spot-on, from the dripping of snow melt, to the scent of death, to the ever-present love of God. Dale Martin has done a fantastic job of bringing you into a world similar to Earth, but unique in so many ways. The twists and turns were perfectly timed and most were unseen, which is a first for me. Martin’s ability to create a novel set in a different world while using the Bible, God, and Christ’s sacrifice as its centre is impressive. The faith and belief of each character was believable, including the conversion of one of the characters, to which I can personally relate. If there’s ever a book to read that speaks of God’s love, sacrifice, life as a believer, and our goal to trust in God, this is it.

Link to Amazon page

Book review: Divided We Fall by Adam Bender

Reviewed by for Readers' Favorite

In Adam Bender's Divided We Fall, we follow the story of Eve Parker and Jon Wyle. They are members of the Elite Guard: a special task force dedicated to finding and arresting those who resist the Church. After meeting during a stake-out, Eve and Jon quickly form a relationship, a relationship which is tested when Jon accepts a special mission. He is to infiltrate the rebel heretic group known as the Underground, and bring them down from the inside. But it means forgetting who he is, and who he loves. It is up to Eve to bring him back, but she finds that not is all as it seems. She questions who the true Enemy is, and the teachings she followed her entire life. She must make the decision to follow God and country, or the love of her life at the risk of losing her own.

There are few novels I can read in one sitting, but Adam Bender’s Divided We Fall was one of them. It is fast-paced, intriguing, and had me wondering what was coming just around the corner. It had me not only wanting, but needing more. Eve and Jon are both relatable characters, as relatable as possible in a dystopian setting. But is it? The idea of government surveillance has been in the news for years, and Divided We Fall goes into detail about a very real and very current issue. Eve’s revelation of the world as a mix of colours rather than black and white was beautifully written and a lesson for all. Jon’s transformation into Seven was well-written and shows us the true potential of humanity – if we strip away the bias and focus solely on the good of all, we see what Seven knew all along: united, we are stronger. But divided, we fall.

Link to Amazon page