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Smashwords book reviews by Cate Agosta
- The Delmar Shark Chronicles: Isola di Squalo (Book #1)
on June 19, 2013
It has been a very long time since I've read a YA (Young Adult) book of this quality. I fact, I had to keep reminding myself that I was not in the target audience for the novel, as it flowed more coherently and consistently than most YA offerings out there.
Ms. Peltier's knowledge and research into sharks and their study is apparent and, her passion for them shines through in her writing. It was a page turner, with plenty to keep you just wanting to continue reading.
The characters are very well written and believable, with the main characters developing at a nice pace throughout the course of the novel, even though the outcome between them is apparent quite early on. Possibly this is because I'm a more mature reader, and someone in the target audience may not reach the same conclusion as early in their reading. This does not, however, detract from the book at all. There is a bad guy, as in all good books, and let's just say he gets what he deserves in the end. No spoilers here.
I'm not sure of the Author has been to the area of the Mediterranean which she writes about, but this is really a moot point as her descriptions of the area are wonderful. You can almost feel the sun beating down on you, and hear the waves lapping at the shore. Even her description of italy and Sicily, in relation to one another, is spot on and one many Europeans use themselves.
My only complaint about the book was the cover art, it really did not do the content justice.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will be eagerly waiting for the next instalments of 'The Delmar Shark Chronicles'
- Trade winds to Meluhha
on July 01, 2013
From the start of the novel the hook is a murder, after which events take you travelling through modern-day Iraq to Pakistan via Oman/Bahrain. This novel just oozes the amount of time spent in research and presents a thoughtful approach to the lives and times mentioned. Information about everything from the sealed clay tablets used for communication, the description about the bead manufacturing process are authentic and, educate us about the different tools and crafts widely used at the time.
The characters, and there is a large cast of characters in this book, are very well written and actually based on research in the time period covered by the novel. But, while being believable, they became a little muted at times. The Sumerian language that they speak has been found in cuneiform script, again an indication of how much research this Author conducted.
However, despite the start of the story being very interesting, with readers becoming involved in exploring the new world around them along with what’s happening, the narrative becomes very difficult to follow as it wanders from one city to another and the cast of characters keep changing. In one portion of the novel the Author uses a language which doesn't appear to be authentic to the setting in which it is used.
After the promising start that this novel had, it takes a slight turn and commences on what can only be described as a hilly ride. It picks up, and completely gains your interest again, only to drop down a few pages later. All this culminates in an ending which, after reading the rest of the novel, seems a little bit rushed and far too convenient for me, with all loose ends being tied up nicely.
In the edition I read there was a chapter “How This Prehistoric Novel Was Written” at the end. I feel this may have been better placed at the beginning of the novel, as its explanation of places, location, and names, with respect to our modern day geography, may help future readers to appreciate the writing more. Also in the Kindle edition, the pages are full of hyperlinks to this information, and I found that to be a little annoying; if I hit one in error to have my page suddenly change to something else.
This novel is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, with a definite and obvious lack of vulgarity and violence which I didn't find believable given the time period. It is not a fast paced novel as one would expect in a murder, and it didn't evoke the emotions it could have, given the location and topics covered.
I applaud the intensive research the Author did when putting this sweeping novel together and also the way he successfully integrated fiction and non-fiction. However, when it came to the bottom line, unfortunately it didn't deliver for me. I would recommend this to other lovers of the historical genre, so they can read something a little bit different from the usual offerings.
Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/review-trade-winds-to-meluhha-vasant-dave/
- How He Comes Out of the Sun (A Digital Short Story)
on July 18, 2013
This short story was published with a lead-in to the Authors mystery thriller included.
Short stories are a great way to fill a few minutes of time when you don’t have enough time to get into something deeper, and this one filled that expectation to its full. At 21 pages in length, it is truly a short story, but a lot is packed into those pages.
The characters are all African American, and crew a B-17 during World War II. In the few pages allotted, the Author manages to transport the reader into their world, and actually make them care for his characters. The language the crewmen use is genuine, and if you are averse to swearing in your reads you may want to give this little book a miss, as there has been no sanitizing for the sensitive soul. The author, through his characters, did a wonderful job of conveying the emotions, from cowardice to heroism, that are felt by all those (My Husband included) who have been in the thick of combat.
The reader is made to feel as if they are on the B-17 through the Authors description of the scene; the smell of smoke and spent rounds, the fear that hangs in the air and the feel of the wind as it tears through the damage in the fuselage, it is very chilling and very real, giving an insight into the world of the Bomber crew.
Unfortunately though, there were quite a few typos and grammatical errors which should have been picked up in the proofreading and editing stages and, although they don’t detract from the story as a whole, it left me thinking that the Author didn’t care for his crew as much as he wanted his readers to. I also felt that this could have been published as a stand-alone short, and found the sample at the end a little misleading; instead of it being a segue into a follow on novel with the same characters; it introduces you to a whole new book that is completely unrelated.
Readers who like a good war story would probably enjoy this one, and I would also recommend it to any reader who is looking for a quick dip into something different.
Originally reviewed on:
- Dead Men and Cats
on July 26, 2013
This novella is a debut work for this Author. I also have to mention for those overly sensitive folks again, that this book does deal with matters relating to the LGBT community, so if you have issues with sexual orientation you may not want to read further. Regardless, or even because of this, I feel this Author may well be on their way to having their book spines rubbing covers with Hazel Holt and Laura Childs in the cozy mystery genre.
This is a cozy mystery of the best kind in this genre that I have read in a long time. The main character leads are both women, life partners, who just fit so comfortably into the role that this type of book demands of its ‘heroines’. They are both extremely well written and well developed characters, with their back stories being leaked to us bit by bit as we progress through the novella. There is no sudden rush of information, and no changing of the pace of the way of life these characters live, and at which pace the book was written. They were so well written I wanted to drop by and visit with them, the next time I headed North through WA State; they were the kind of people I would gladly count as my friends, and enjoy becoming involved in adventures with.
The descriptions of the Puget Sound and surrounding area were exactly as they are in reality. I live in this area so I was able to visualise where things were, or intended to be. I could see the areas of Seattle that were described; walking the streets and driving the causeway over to the Islands.
Like all books of this genre, it is fast paced and laced with twists and turns that make you think. The Author also puts a lot of emphasis on her plot development, which is apparent throughout. This is a gentle book with no graphic violence, profanity or explicit sexual scenes, and with the deaths contained within its pages happening out of the pages, instead of us having to live through each gruelling blow. This novella does have one major difference to the usual cozy mystery, and that is the victims did not deserve to die. To go into this more would be to have reveal spoilers, so to find out exactly what I mean you will have to read the novella.
I would highly recommend this book to all lovers of the mystery genre, cozy or not, as it is a fast paced novella, with several twists leading to a surprising conclusion. I am looking forward to seeing if the female leads in this novella make an appearance in future works by this Author.
Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/review-dead-men-cats-aya-tsi-scuceblu-walksfar/
on July 31, 2013
This is the Author’s debut novel, and the first in The Shardheld Sage series.
The saga is set back in history during the time of the Norsemen, and is very well researched. As the reader progresses through the pages they receive a glimpse of life as it was, not only for the Norsemen themselves, but also for the poor souls they captured and used as slaves. But don’t think that this is just a historical novel, as it’s not; it is so much more than that.
As this is the first in the series, the character development takes it time and no one character takes the foreground as being the main lead throughout this book. Each comes into focus, and then drops back for a while to give the other a chance at the limelight. I felt this worked well as it served as a ‘hook’ into the rest of the series. It made me feel as if I want to read the rest of the saga to find out where the development of the characters would lead, and who would come out on top. The part of the chattel, and again I can’t go into too much detail without revealing spoilers, is written beautifully and you can feel the anger and resentment that this person has for their master as well as others he interacts with who try to show some kindness. His bitterness, and also loss of self, engulf his every moment in this novel and, I was sure when I started reading that he would be the main lead. His master also features strongly in this first book, and is not the stereotypical Norse Man of history. He is weak, self-centred and, I have to say this, a downright coward; the kind of person who you just want to shake. However, the Author explains the reasoning why he is like this, rather than leaving us guessing and hoping it would all be explained in later books. This makes me want to read on and see will his character develop to become the type of Viking his Father can be proud of, or will he return to his habits of old.
The world inhabited by these characters is well written and descriptive; you can feel the cold of the biting wind and hearing it howling when it blows and your arms ache from the everyday tasks to keep the town alive. It’s not only a well written book from the visually descriptive angle, it also assaults your nostrils as well, which is not an easy thing to do when placing words on paper but, the Author manages to do this without effort and it adds to the well created medieval fantasy this book is.
My only criticism about this book was there were some sloppy grammatical errors that a diligent proof-reader should have picked up on, if not a good editor. Although they did not detract from the plot in any way, the repetition of some words back to back (the the, for example) eventually became irritating, and is the reasoning behind my rating this book as I have. Having said this, I would like to read the remaining books in the saga, as they are published, just to satisfy my curiosity as to how things will pan out.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a quick and enjoyable read, as it’s only 142 pages in length, but it will also appeal to lovers of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, plus readers looking for something a little different in the Norse and Viking arena.
Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/review-shardfall-paul-e-horsman/
- Trallis the Warrior and the Sword of Unimaginable Power
on Aug. 16, 2013
This is an epic book in the most tongue in cheek sense that I’ve read in a long time, as its ‘epicness’ spreads out over a whole 22 pages.
If you’re looking for magic, swords that throw up, lots of food and a hero written the style of Terry Pratchett and the Monty Python crew, this is a definite read for you.
It’s funny, fast moving and provides everyone that touches it with snacks along the way. If you like monsters in your tales; this one has them, although not in the way you would imagine. They come with their own issues and style that you won’t find anywhere else; think Shrek on a not so good day.
If you want a read that will have you chuckling at the antics our hero deals with, and he has a lot more patience than I would with his ‘chatty’ friend, pick this up and dig in. There’s nothing offensive, crude or lewd about it, so you may even want to share it with your children.
Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/review-trallis-the-warrior-and-the-sword-of-unimaginable-power-the-ridiculously-epic-saga-of-trallis-the-warrior/
- The Crying of The Children
on Aug. 17, 2013
This Authors debut novel is definitely not a book for those who have a weak stomach, or are easily upset by the written word. I’m not one of these types, but even I found that, at times, I had to put this book down and walk away to regroup my emotions and my mind.
The locations for the novel is the very grim and very private world of Victorian England so, with this in mind it is not surprising to see there is very little real depth or back story to any of the characters; and this is how it would’ve have been in real life, Wives would have known little about their Husbands and the servants would have known how to keep their mouths shut. In abiding by this social expectation, in her writing the Author actually paints in very vivid detail the personalities and traits that make up her characters; and there is a very large list of them ranging from a despicable wealthy man of society right down to the lowest of the low.
To live in poverty in 19th century Britain was not how we see living in poverty in 21st century Britain, and the Author has done an outstanding job of capturing the misery of those in this situation. She has held back no punches when it comes to describing the choices open to these people, and what they had to do just to survive from day to day. Her descriptions of ‘parental’ discipline are graphic and moving, and serve to illustrate that children were regarded as a disposable commodity.
There were places in this novel were the hand of a good proof-reader and editor would have come into play, and made the book even more haunting. In places the Author gets her characters mixed up, and I found myself having to flip back the pages to get them straight in my own head. This did detract from my enjoyment of the book, but still made it something I wanted to read on to the end to discover what the outcome would be.
I would recommend this novel to lovers of the history genre, both fiction and non-fiction as, at times, this novel becomes something more than just a story; it turns into a social commentary of the times it covers.
Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/review-the-crying-of-the-children-peggi-lennard/
on Aug. 21, 2013
This is a debut novel for this Author, although it was originally self-published in the 90’s and only recently came to the eBook arena.
World War 2 is contains a vast well of inspiration and events for Authors to pull from, ranging from the Home front in the countries affected to the ‘boots on ground’ troops on the frontline. In this novel the Author chose to depict the day-to-day struggles of the ground troops, the ways in which they endured the arduous tasks they were confronted with and also the schemes they devised to keep themselves ‘sane’
In developing the characters in his novel, the Author has done an outstanding and meticulous job of humanizing them and making the reader not only care about their well-being but, from the comfort of home, cheer them on in their efforts to return to that home safely. As in all wars that are fought mainly by young men, this novel covers that perfectly as even the ‘old soldiers’ in the unit we follow are young in age. Through skilful writing the Author shows us the inner feelings of these young men in awful situations; their worries, concerns for one another, concealed cowardice and overt bravado. Even in the heat of battle, these soldiers are imbued with a sense of compassion and empathy for the enemy. The Authors own experience as a Marine Corps veteran shines through in his depiction of these tired and weary men. The reader is made to care so much for the characters in this book that, when one of them dies, as is the nature of war, the reader experiences a sense of loss and can actually grieve whilst continuing on with the rest of the unit.
It is apparent when reading this novel that it has to be, in my opinion, one of the most accurate and heavily researched World War 2, European Theatre of War books I have read since ‘The Thin Red Line’ by James Jones. Although taking place in a different theatre of war, this book easily holds its own, and is a brilliant counterpoint to Norman Mailer’s ‘The Naked and The Dead’. In both novels, the reader is drawn in by the characters, and the combat scenes make the pulse race. This Author, unlike many who write in this genre, does not limit his storyline to combat scenes, he also effectively covers the downtime between conflicts, bringing the mind-numbing boredom and lows that the sudden stop of adrenaline causes, alive in all its misery.
I feel that this novel should be made compulsory reading for anyone who is in, or has ties to the modern-day Military community, as reading about how the troops would replace worn out clothing items and boots, essential for them to complete their mission, made me want to send out care packages in much the same way I did my Husband during his combat tours. As a social commentary of war in that era, this novel serves to show those in the Military today that they really do have a good life, even when deployed. The feelings this novel evokes in the reader is all down to the exemplary way in which it is written; it pulls no punches and makes no excuses for revealing this side of humanity in all its gritty and unsavoury detail. The only criticism I have about this novel was its ending; the summation rather detracted from all the drama we had been subject to and actually served to take away some of the impact it made. I would have preferred an abrupt ending, as war does tend to end abruptly in the field, and be left wanting more. However, the fact that this novel evokes so many emotions and responses in the reader went some way to appeasing the disappointment I felt over the ending.
I would highly recommend this novel to all lovers of the historical novel genre, and also those who like to read non-fiction World War 2 books. Because of the nature of the topic, I would probably recommend it to an age group of mature young adults upwards. I am eagerly awaiting the next novel from this Author and, personally, feel that this one would make an excellent movie.
Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/review-souvenirs-keith-c-chase/