Book reviewing the middle ground…

If you haven’t got anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. (Thumper’s mummy, Bambi)

This old saying is tattooed across my brain, but when it comes to book reviews things get tricky, I want to tell the truth but I don’t really want to harshly criticise someone’s hard work.  If you read a lot of reviews its clear that most people only write reviews about books they feel passionate about (not a bad thing), they either loved them and want to shout it from the roof tops or  they hated them and want to thoroughly chastise the author, the publisher or anyone remotely involved with said novels production, even the cat that may have strolled across the laptop at some point is not spared castigation (true story, I read that in a review somewhere). I just can’t do that, no matter what, the author spent hours months probably even years writing that book, and for that alone they should be applauded.

Try not to tread on toes today that may be connected to the ass you may have to kiss tomorrow (Mr Wood-ism).

On top of this moral pressure only to say nice things, is the concern that as an aspiring author I don’t really want to upset anyone who may otherwise have been there to help me in the future. People are ultimately going to find it hard to be objective about your work if you reviewed theirs and said they had the literary talent of a woodlouse, however true that may be. Ah, but shouldn’t people know if they have less talent than a light shy invertebrate, well yes, maybe, but as most of these people have been picked up by an agent had their book sold to a publisher, reviewed in multiple edit runs, beta readers, so on and so forth perhaps discretion is the better part of valour! 

So what’s prompted this moral examination of book reviews, well I read a book, unsurprisingly enough, and I liked it. So? I hear you cry, I liked the book it was okay but I LOVED the premise, I even liked the story but for me the execution wasn’t there, it just fell a little flat. The characters didn’t behave as you’d expect, the writing was a little stagnant holding me back from the story and stopping me from really getting on board with the characters. The whole thing was unique but it just didn’t deliver and it made me cross, frustrated that this book wasn’t as good as I’d wanted it to be, fur coat and no knickers spring to mind, all bark and no bite, you get the idea.  I wanted to rant and rave and give it a miserable review, but I will read what she writes next, I want other people to read it as well, I want to read her stories, I just want them to be better. So what do I put in a review, after some reflection I decided I needed to wander into that relatively barren land of the three stars, the must try harder zone.  So I am firmly pitching my tent in the middle ground, I am going to make the effort to write more reviews of the books I didn’t love or hate, hurrah for the three stars!

Hurrah for three stars

Huaquero by Gareth Worthington: 5 Stars

http://www.huahuqui.com/

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Just as you thought you could catch your breath after finishing the first book Huahuqui, the sequel, arrives and throws you right back into the action. I was really looking forward to this book and I was certainly not disappointed. The pacing is just as fast as the first book, this author once again showing his flair for mixing fact and fiction seamlessly. But, where this book surpasses the first is in the depth of the characters. We really get to see more of their personalities what makes them tick and some of the events that made them who they are. Even more impressive is the way Worthington has weaved this information into the story without detracting from the pace. I had mixed feelings about the ending (keep a tissue handy), you’ll know what I mean when you get there, but it absolutely fit the characters and I love an author who stays true to their characters.
I thought this was going to be the end of the story but fear not I have it on good authority (Gareth himself) that the third book (Huaca) is on its way and after reading the epilogue it sounds like a must read, dark and intriguing. I would highly recommend both books, especially if you’re looking for short punchy holiday reads, make sure you put on the sun cream before you start, because you won’t be able to put them down!

Huahuqui by Gareth Worthington 4 Stars

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Well what can I say this is a whole lot of story in not a lot of book, this debut novella is jam packed full of action, intrigue, conspiracy, a pinch of potential romance in the offing, and if that isn’t enough a man sized salamander (not as weird as it sounds). The breakneck pacing keeps you hooked, whisks you through the story, neatly weaving together the different threads to a satisfying if somewhat open conclusion. So why not 5 stars, well it’s pretty simple although the story is thoroughly absorbing the fast pace didn’t leave a lot of time to get to know the main character / characters, this was accentuated by it being a novella but (there is always a but) there is enough good character development to make me care what happened to them and want to know what happens next. Thank fully you won’t have to wait long as the second book Huaquero is out now!

In summary this is a solid 4 star novella but probably could have been a 5 star novel! Would I recommend it? Absolutely, there is some major potential in this new author, Huahuqui would certainly make an awesome movie and is well worth the time spent reading it!

ISBN: 0957252900

 

Resonance by J A Belfield

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After finishing Blue Moon I was desperate to read Resonance, so imagine my elation when an E-Arc arrived in my inbox! I promptly devoured this delectable little novella. The story continues on where Blue Moon left off, with, Josh trapped in the sleep of the dead despite the best efforts of Jess and the pack. Revelations abound despite the books diminutive status, family history is clarified, a whole new plane of existence is introduced and a sneak peek of what’s to come is scattered throughout. My only minor gripe is, the pace has been so quick (all the books) that we haven’t really seen Jem reflect much on her situation. How she’s gone from the meek abused wife to strong astral projecting werewolf, killing at will with little remorse. There are big changes afoot for Jem so maybe we will see more of that then. This series is one of my favourites, and I can’t wait for the release of Ethan’s book Caged, I am absolutely positive it will be well worth the wait!

Blue Moon by J.A. Belfield (@JABelfield)

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Sleep is an extremely valuable commodity in a house with 3 children under 5, so the fact that once again J.A. Belfield has lured me into giving up a large chunk of it speaks volumes for the next instalment of the Holloway Pack story.  This was a book I both couldn’t wait to read and dreaded starting, unsure whether I wanted to know what Ms Belfield was going to put the characters through this time, maybe I was better remaining blissfully ignorant……. I was wrong, these books just get better and better.

Blue Moon sees us back in the present, following Jem as she settles into life as the only female member of the pack. Life is good, so of course something is about to go very wrong.  When a pretty young woman shows up making eyes at her boys, Jem is on high alert. The boys however clearly thinking with their….. Well you get the idea, lap up (pardon the pun) the attention.  Despite Jem’s concerns the boys forge ahead with their budding romance, creating tension within the pack and ultimately leading to the final confrontation.

The pace is quick, making it extremely difficult to put down, this time round we really get to see the bonds between pack members and more of how they interact with each other. The descriptions of Jem’s emotions are raw and powerful, I loved it.  When the end came I felt both a little disappointed that is wasn’t as action packed as I thought it was going to be but mostly relieved, I don’t think I could have taken much more emotional turmoil.  Resonance is the next instalment and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

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