Sift Book Reviews

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At Sift, we provide honest thoughtful reviews of self-published science-fiction and fantasy novels.

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Smashwords book reviews by Sift Book Reviews

  • The Last Real New Yorker in the World on May 09, 2011

    Foreshadowing of impending doom and a bit of dark humor woven into the story kept me waiting in suspense for what what was to come. I love this future world and I want so much more of it! I wish the writers would turn this story into a book because I would love immersing myself in Macdonald and Doyle's futuristic world. See the entire review at Sift: http://bit.ly/kuR4WZ
  • The Sixth Discipline on July 25, 2011

    Though I believe this story could have been spectacular, I believe even more so that it was not brought to it's full potential. I liked the idea behind the story, and parts of the book were exciting at times. But because of the long lulls in the plot, and the bouts of poor sentence structure, I can't say that I enjoyed the story thoroughly enough to want to continue in that world and read the next book. See the entire review at Sift: http://www.siftreviews.com/2011/06/sixth-discipline-by-carmen-webster.html
  • Lovers and Beloveds: An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom Book One on July 25, 2011

    The story is well-written and reasonably complex, displaying the politics of the Kingdom very well. As with any good new-world novel, it introduces the reader to the world gently, explaining new terms and concepts when it's necessary, with nary an info-dump or awkward explanation to be found. It's largely thanks to the main character, who's relatively ignorant of much of the world, so as he learns, the reader does. See the in-depth review at Sift: http://www.siftreviews.com/2011/07/lovers-and-beloveds-intimate-history-of.html Review by: John of Sift Book Reviews Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
  • Eternal Knight on Aug. 08, 2011

    Main Characters Hadde is our heroine; a bold and nearly fearless young girl who provides for her village as a huntress. Hadde is kind and beautiful, yet deadly with a bow. Morin, the Prince of Salador, is our cliched tall, dark, and mysterious leading man. Because the prince is one of the only people in Salador who is kind to Hadde, she quickly falls for his charm and charisma. King Boradin is at his core a good man who wants healing for his kingdom, but may not be taking the moral path to find it. Compassionate yet cruel, Boradin is a complex man. Plot When I began this book I must say I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy it. Though the story does open with a exciting fight scene, I was still a bit skeptical if the storyline itself. I've read many thrown-together indie fantasies in which nothing really connects and the author tends to throw in irrelevant things. Fortunately, this was not the case at all with this enthralling novel! Small happenings in the story that we as readers might think inconsequential come back to surprise us at unexpected times. Each part of the story connects and intertwines with the rest of the story so incredibly well that I was blown away at the cleverness of it. This storyline could have easily been confusing and annoying if done by a less skilled writer, yet Heppe pleased me immensely in keeping me surprised at every twist and turn. This is not your typical indie fantasy novel. Writing Heppe's writing is nearly perfect. There were two instances in the book in which the main character clenched her "jaws" instead of her "jaw" but otherwise I found very few typos, and no major hiccups in sentence or paragraph structure throughout the novel. Overall Out of all the indie novels I have read, this is the one that most closely reminds me of a well-written published book. To understate it, I was pleasantly surprised by a story that I wasn't expecting to enjoy. I highly recommend fantasy lovers read this story, it's well worth it! Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars Review by: Kayelee of Sift Book Reviews Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
  • Lake People and Other Speculative Tales on Aug. 11, 2011

    Lake People and Other Speculative Tales is a collection of short stories that are all so drastically different that it's really quite surprising that they were all written by one person. From the writing styles to the narrative voices to the plots themselves there is so much variety within this book that you're almost guaranteed to find something you like. The title story, 'Lake People' is without question the best of the book. The pacing is perfect, the story is beautiful and the mythology is well crafted. This story alone makes it worth buying this book. It speaks wonderfully to the universe giving you exactly what you need, when you need it, even if you yourself don't know what you're looking for. A few other favorites in this collection were 'Ten Gallons a Whore" and "Hallyhee, Cried the Trees." See the in-depth review: http://www.siftreviews.com/2011/08/lake-people-and-other-speculative-tales.html Review by: Kellie of Sift Book Reviews Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
  • Hexult on Sep. 06, 2011

    Hexult is an adventure story aimed at tweens and while it will certainly appeal to middle grade and young adult readers, it is an enjoyable read for adults too; 5 out of 5 stars. The author sets the drama of the shipwreck quickly and maintains a high level of adventure throughout the story in the form of raiders, an ill-tempered wizard, and islanders hardened by death and war. I liked how the unlikely, yet very strong, friendship between mailman Aulf and runaway/fighter/outcast Ingar was established from the start; it made me invested in them as characters and also in their relationship. The other two main characters, twins Jacob and Elya, are equally as endearing and effective at capturing the reader. Their knowledge of science, or magic to the islanders, was very entertaining and drew some interesting parallels to mankinds continuing fear of things we cannot understand. The writing style of Hexult is very clear and concise and a great level for a book aimed at tweens; it will sharpen a younger reader's vocabulary but is not too inaccessible. I have no real criticisms of Hexult. It has a real childlike innocence and sense of wonder about it that make it a great book, especially for its younger target audience. Hexult is an exciting tale of adventure from beginning to end and leaves the reader knowing that good trumps evil anyday. Review by: Erica of Sift Book Reviews Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
  • Xenofreak Nation, Book One: XBestia on Sep. 08, 2011

    The concept of this book was enough to grab my attention from the very beginning and excellent pacing and an intriguing story meant it kept my attention throughout the entire book. With few exceptions, I thought the characters were well-wrought, the story interesting, the motivations believable. Thanks to the foreign-but-similar political situation she created in her near-future sci-fi, Melissa is able to explore many different political and moral issues without preaching or being boring. Bryn was a pretty good character, though I had trouble establishing her age at the beginning. She was going to drive, so I knew she was at least 16, but she felt younger to me at first. And then later, I think maybe she acted a little too old and mature, given both her age and her situation. I enjoyed Scott's character as well, though I would have liked to have seen a little more of his motivation in his internal dialogue. When the POV changes between Scott's and Bryn's the voices are just different enough to help you differentiate between them, but similar enough to keep the same tone/atmosphere throughout the book, which is a delicate balance that Melissa pulls off wonderfully. There were many supporting characters, and I have to compliment Melissa on making each one truly unique. Often, with this many characters, I found myself having to go back and check who is who, but that was not so with this book. Each and every character had a distinct personality. The world building and the interweaving plot lines were definitely the two strengths of this book. I enjoyed the picture of an America, not too much different from our own, but is obviously crumbling in some segments. As for plot, there are many different sub-plots and motivations that all kind of come together in the end and I had fun following those paths. There were a few plot points/details that pulled me out of the story for a second (everything is electronic but Bryn has to wait for a paper check? I didn't buy Dundee's behavior during the clinic evacuation and didn't believe that Padme would have a room of her own with as jealous as Lupus is. Also, the nanoneurons capabilities felt like an afterthought and could have been eliminated or explored more if they're necessary further in the series.), but these didn't distract much from the overall story. The writing style is clean and accessible. After about 80 pages in, mistakes like missing words and words very obviously meant to mean something else became slightly more prevalent, but they're minor and it wasn't overwhelming. (The author has contacted me before publication of this review that she has fixed many typos since she sent me the book.) I read a .pdf on my nook so I can't comment too much on the internal formatting, but, for me, the cover is a total turn off. In summary, this was an extremely entertaining read with ethical implications that will leave you thinking long after you've finished the book. There are minor weaknesses, but not enough to keep me from recommending this book. I give it 4.5 stars. Review by: Sarah of Sift Book Reviews Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
  • The First Sacrifice on Jan. 26, 2012

    The First Sacrifice is a wonderfully written short story brimming with enough conspiracy and action to easily fill a full length fantasy novel. 4 stars out of 5 Overall, it is a solid story with good writing and a compelling fantasy plot. It has an exiled King, enchanted weapons, spirits, murder, revenge, and a great voice. My only real problem with the story is that it lacks an adequate build up of suspense—and given the dire events taking place, this problem could be easily remedied with some extra plot/character development and foreshadowing. The elements of suspense are there, I simply felt that I didn’t know the characters well enough to be invested in what side won or lost. I realize this is a difficult feat to accomplish given the shortness of the piece, however a greater sense of immediacy would turn this good story into a great story. The First Sacrifice has a solid, intriguing ending worthy of a fantasy book. The writing shows great Fantasy potential and I would be excited to read more from this author, especially a full length novel. Erica of Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
  • Fey Girl on Oct. 04, 2012

    Fey Girl was a difficult book for me to review: the parts I loved I loved, and the parts I disliked, let's just say I really disliked. The characterization and mundane (non-supernatural) plotline are great and written in a voice I would go as far as to compare to John Green. However, in places where the story branches into philosophy, or the paranormal, it falls apart. 3.5 stars. Chapter one was, for lack of a better description, off-putting. It is a detailed discussion of bird feeders and ecology, with no anchor (character, plotline) established. Unless ecology is of personal interest, I can not see most readers making it through. The beginning reads like a textbook existential crisis (but blatantly spelled out, instead of hid behind a storyline): stuff happens, people forget said stuff happened, soon all concrete evidence that said stuff happened is gone, and then your dead and said stuff is gone forever. Chapter one: zero plot, zero real emotion. However for my dislike of chapter one, chapter two is much much better. It follows two boys and their girlfriends and the angst and drama that comes with falling in love. The writing is much smoother, and it is when writing the interactions between characters that the author really shines. The character descriptions (their personalities and nuances) are extremely well done and I finally saw the great lyrical style and voice I raved about in my previous Kevin Newman review. The main character Jude falls in love with his friend's girlfriend and I really enjoyed the authors way of making you feel like you're there and of sympathy towards the characters. It's almost halfway through the book before anything paranormal happens, and I found that the author's description of any supernatural events lacked voice; it was more of an advancing of events. The highlight of Fey Girl is the stylish portrayal of everyday events and conflicts. It was in these moments that the authors voice broke through. The supernatural and philosophical parts of the book felt too forced; politics/philosophy that the author wanted to work into the story were too thinly veiled and left the story feeling preachy. If the same level of detail and emotion that described the non-supernatural events were worked into the paranormal parts of the book, and the first chapter revised or omitted, Fey Girl would be a great read. Review by: Erica of Sift Book Reviews Sift Book Reviews received a free copy for review from the author. This has, in no way, affected the reviewer's opinion.
  • A Titan for Christmas on Nov. 13, 2012

    I’m not normally a fan of romance, but maybe Sci-Fi romance is that sweet spot for me? After reading A Titan for Christmas. I will read more SF romance because I really enjoyed this book! Jenna, the heroine, is truly a strong female character. This is one of my big problems with most romances so I think this is what sold me on the book. She’s independent, self-sufficient and just the right amount of pig-headed. When things break, she fixes them – in the engine room and in her life. She doesn’t need a man to complete her – but that doesn’t mean she can’t want and enjoy one in her life! Grayson, the hero, is a jerk at first (of course, this is romance) but it turns out he has a really good reason for acting the way he does when they first meet. To tell you more would be a big spoiler, but it’s believable and he turns out to be very sweet. This short novella is only told from Jenna’s POV, so we don’t get to know him as well as her. I was worried about the plot sagging considering there are only two characters in a small space, but I thought the plot moved along nicely. The pacing was excellent, though I did feel the end was slightly rushed. At around 13,000 words, this can easily be read in one sitting. Readers should be aware there is one “on-screen” sex scene (which was well-done), though there is a lot of sexual tension throughout the story. All in all, it was a fun, quick read with only a few flaws. I look forward to reading more from Aria Kane!
  • A Titan for Christmas on Nov. 13, 2012

    I’m not normally a fan of romance, but maybe Sci-Fi romance is that sweet spot for me? After reading A Titan for Christmas. I will read more SF romance because I really enjoyed this book! Jenna, the heroine, is truly a strong female character. This is one of my big problems with most romances so I think this is what sold me on the book. She’s independent, self-sufficient and just the right amount of pig-headed. When things break, she fixes them – in the engine room and in her life. She doesn’t need a man to complete her – but that doesn’t mean she can’t want and enjoy one in her life! Grayson, the hero, is a jerk at first (of course, this is romance) but it turns out he has a really good reason for acting the way he does when they first meet. To tell you more would be a big spoiler, but it’s believable and he turns out to be very sweet. This short novella is only told from Jenna’s POV, so we don’t get to know him as well as her. I was worried about the plot sagging considering there are only two characters in a small space, but I thought the plot moved along nicely. The pacing was excellent, though I did feel the end was slightly rushed. At around 13,000 words, this can easily be read in one sitting. Readers should be aware there is one “on-screen” sex scene (which was well-done), though there is a lot of sexual tension throughout the story. All in all, it was a fun, quick read with only a few flaws. I look forward to reading more from Aria Kane! Review originally posted at: http://www.siftreviews.com/2012/11/a-titan-for-christmas-by-aria-kane.html