SPR

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Smashwords book reviews by SPR

  • Infinite Sacrifice (Infinite Series, Book 1) on Nov. 16, 2011

    Am I having another morphine dream? Did I slip into a coma? Where am I? Interesting start to a book about Lazrina/Maya, who finds herself dead and speaking to her spirit guide Zachariah. From this point on, Lazrina/Maya finds herself in a place where she must now revisit all her past lives and live through the lessons each one has to teach her. This is the place between lives where she will review her past and learn her lessons. She has four lives reviewed in this book; Ancient Egypt, Sparta, Ireland/Viking Invasions and England at the time of the Black Death. Each life story is actually a vignette of that life, of a particular series of events that portray Lazrina/Maya in a situation that will teach her some meaning that she needs to be aware of from that life. About the research done on these time periods; I found them to be very accurate in their overall appearance, which made the stories that much more interesting. I am a bit of an ancient history buff and the culture and life styles of the times represented appear to be well researched and accurate. The author provides a short bibliography at the end of the book, and I recognized some of the titles and was pleased that the author used recognized historians for her research. It made the fiction that much more realistic and appealing. Very well done! I also did appreciate the little tables at the end of each chapter that showed the associations between the characters of one story and the next. It did help to keep the continuity for me, the reader. The disappointment came in the Epilogue. First, the stories ran out, and after reading the Epilogue, I was not really satisfied with the ending. The Epilogue is actually a philosophical discussion on reincarnation, its applied purpose to the story as seen by the author, and the author’s religious philosophy. After the buildup of the stories, the Epilogue was flat. While I really enjoyed the stories, I was unhappy with the Epilogue. As we all see the meanings of life and death differently, I would like to have seen a brief discussion between Zachariah and Lazrina/Maya as to how this applies to the story, not the full philosophical discussion that followed. And some kind of plot buildup into the next book would have held my interest a lot more. I assume Erna, who is spoken of in the Prologue and Epilogue, is her daughter. Finn? I would have liked more of a teaser to keep my interest, something to tie the next book into this one, other than a sneak peek at the next book. A cliff hanger would have been more welcome. At least it would have given me a reason to move to the next book. I have to give the book a 4 star rating, as I really liked the stories and appreciated the research and the story plot concept. The characters are well developed. The short story plots are interesting and carried out quite well. The tables are good; I can see the connection from one story to the next. But the ending of the book was a bit disappointing. I expected some kind of wrap up or tie in plot and segue to the next book. To her credit, the author did a really good job on editing and formatting the book. The only issue I found was with the black box that appears before each chapter in the Kindle version. I am sure it was supposed to be a graphic of some kind, but it translated only into a black box. The overall editing was excellent, and the formatting is very good. Any little formatting issues did not distract from the book at all and if there were any editing errors, I did not notice them. I also appreciated the bibliography at the end of the book. I found the stories to be first class works of historical fiction. If the author could find some way to transition from book to book, tie them all into maybe a larger plot, it would add to the story. While I appreciate the authors attempt to clarify her point of view on how reincarnation fits into the whole scheme of the universe, I would rather have had more story and less philosophy. I like my fiction as fiction.
  • Hyde's Corner - Book I - No Man's Land on Sep. 28, 2013

    The book is very nicely written and well paced. I was never for a minute bored, yet the pace was not as breathless as in so many books these days. Bergstad is a confident author who takes the time he needs to tell his story. He is good at both characterization and at describing action, including one of the most painfully clinical fight scenes I’ve ever read. Bergstad works in a lot of interesting detail about ranching and life on the prairie, helping to bring the setting to life. The Western dialect is consistent and not overdone. But Bergstad’s skills aren’t limited to those required by the genre. He has a subtle command of language. He uses touches to both paint the scene and develop tension. Bergstad does a good job of creating his main characters, Selmer Burks and his father, Silas Berks. It is not hard to see how Selmer became the hard man he is and why he takes the actions he takes, even when the reader can clearly see his mistakes (and those of his father) before he makes them. Like the little girl with the curl, the bad guys are thoroughly horrid. The good guys are often endearing, but they are mostly secondary characters. The main characters (Selmer and Silas) are more nuanced, and while Bergstad gives them clearer motivation for their actions, it is hard to call them “good guys.” In fact it is hard to even like them. Bergstad resists any urge to romanticize the situation, even as he shows the deepest suffering of the Burks family. I would have liked to have gotten to know some of the female characters a little better. The women seem to be a bit more sketchily drawn than the male characters, but I expect that in the coming books the women will play a bigger role in the action. Even readers who don’t particularly care for Westerns or family sagas will likely enjoy the way No Man’s Land works classic themes of justice, revenge, and how to build a just society. But be warned: This book ends with what may be the most compelling cliffhanger ever written.