We have three more to say goodbye to today, unfortunately for one reason or another, these three won’t be continuing on. However, we really do encourage people to read over these reviews and try them out if they sound like they’re to your taste! Thank you to all the authors for your submissions!
Storm’s Breath By J R Ford
- Genre: GamerLit
- Read: 100%
- Review: Graham
- Status: Cut
Storm’s Breath is described as GamerLit and I’ll admit, when I saw the cover, I had high hopes. To be honest though, this book really irritated me, but not for the reasons you might expect.
The book follows a similar sort of notion as Ready Player One, in that there is a global immersive game environment, and at the beginning of the book that is really all the reader knows as we are dropped right into it.
I haven’t read massive amounts of LitRPG or GamerLit but the pattern of the books can be quite formulaic. This was the case with Storm’s Breath as the characters moved through the story, growing in experience and power. It took me a while to realise that this is a YA book. I’m not really sure of the target audience age but I’d guess probably 14+.
The story follows a young man named Pavel who is dropped into the game in a starting area. The tavern is a bit of a blood-bath as more experienced gamers prey on the newly spawned characters. Pavel escapes and, over the course of a few days, makes his way to the closest town where he meets Ana and Heather.
Ana appears to be an experienced fighter who brought her real-world fencing skills to the game. Heather, well Heather seems to be about as skilled as Pavel. Which isn’t saying much.
All three soon fall afoul of a powerful mage who has started his own guild and seems intent on ruling the game world
Edwin Casper, the mage in question, and all-around bad egg is, well… he’s a dick. He’s ruling his guild by pure force, and is your stereotypical school bully. Armed with magic, which none of our heroes have, and boosted by a powerful magical whip, he’s more than a match for Pavel, Ana, and Heather.
And so the three embark upon a quest to find the Storm’s Breath, a powerful artifact which will give them the ability to confront, defeat, or just ignore Edwin.
There’s actually a lot to like in this book. Despite the flaws which I’ll come on to next, there is a flow to the story that pulls you along with it. I’m not convinced the writer is a gamer, but if he isn’t he’s done enough research into game mechanics to let it show in the book, and it’s all the better for it.
I rather liked that Storm’s Breath sometimes also stepped away from a rigid game environment, and little touches like the player-led town militia, and the NPC’s ran by people in the game company offices, worked really well. There’s some cool things done with beta players and it’s very nice to read a book with some real racial diversity in it.
To be honest, and like I said at the start, this book really irritated me. It irritated me because I think there’s a really good story buried at the bottom of it all.
Ford is either a very clean writer, or he has hired a very good proof-reader. What Storm’s Breath desperately though needs is a good developmental edit. I know at least three editors who would rip this book apart and make it shine.
As it is the book is full of clumsily attempts to shoehorn things in that should have been explained in the opening chapters. Issues like the purpose of the game, the socio-economics of the world outside it, and even some of the most important game mechanics, are all dropped in far too late. Now, I’ve done this myself, and it’s the classic sign of a pantser writer, or one who does minimal plotting. The thing is that these issues would all have been picked up by a developmental editor, and the book would have been better for it.
The characters are just a little too one dimensional. Pavel thinks of himself as a coward but we’re never really told why this is. He spends a fair amount of time lusting after one of the female characters, and an inordinate amount of time crying. Seriously, lots of crying. Ana and Heather really need more fleshing out too. There is mention that one of them is in some kind of overly protective family, and the game is her only social outlet. This again is something that could have been explored more, and the book suffers for it not being done.
As I said earlier the book is YA. That’s fine, but YA can, and does, deal with complex emotions and circumstances, and this just needed a bit more depth to it.
Storm’s Breath is a good book. It just isn’t finished yet. Self-published books carry an often-undeserved stigma of being poorly edited and rushed. With a little more time spent on it, this would have been a much better book.
And yet, despite all of this, I couldn’t stop reading it. This book has issues, but I kind of love it, warts and all.
Recommended for a more forgiving reader who can suspend their disbelief and those who enjoy LitRPG.
SPFBO score 5/10
Amazon link: Amazon
Goodreads page: Goodreads
Author Website: http://authorjrford.com
Flight of the Skycricket by Gordon Greenhill
- Genre: Middle Grade
- POV: Young sisters
- Audiobook – Listened to 100%
- Review: Kristen
- Status: Cut
Flight of the Skycricket is a fairly entertaining middle grade adventure of the Hoover sisters, Eli, Anna, and Rose. They find an old compass in their new house, and it transports them to the land of Errus, where they go on a grand adventure through the skies from the south into the north.
Skycricket is very reminiscent of Narnia. I compared it on a few occasions while I was listening to Narnia meets His Dark Materials. I think this book would have entertained middle-school me a little more than it did adult me, as I was all about the grand adventures when I was 11 or 12. As it stands, I found it quite entertaining, but a little bit overlong, if I’m being honest.
It also has really excellent narration – as one would expect from a book written by a professional narrator and then… narrated by him.
I’d recommend Flight of the Skycricket to anyone with a curious or adventurous middle-schooler in their life, especially one who likes audiobooks!
The Servant’s Story by Peter Thomson
- Genre: classic epic
- POV: Rogue, scribe
- Read 20%
- Review: Kristen
- Status: Cut
I’m honestly not really sure what to make of this one. The first chapter begins with a rather roguish character doing some light poisoning and burglary, and the next chapter follows an entirely different character, a young law scribe, as she begins a voyage across the sea. The world is magical, with magicians of different orders or talents, but many populated areas have very strict laws that must be abided by. Places without these laws are known as The Wilds, and it is there that at least one of our protagonists is venturing to.
The problem that I faced was mostly a sense of having no idea what was going on. Characters referred to other events and people as if I was supposed to know who they were, and days would hop by over paragraphs indicating exciting events had happened (like a fight with a large, angry demon?!) that were never really described. I hopped over to goodreads to see if the blurb would help with my confusion and it… didn’t.
Many characters have odd and difficult to pronounce names that I stumbled over, and so I just had to call it quits after a while. I’m certain that this book will be someone’s cup of tea, but it just wasn’t mine. C’est la vie!