on April 5, 2012 :
Sarah Butland’s Arm Farm starts wonderfully with a young woman walking into a field of… arms. The touches of horror blend perfectly with reality as she contemplates why she’s there—a perfectly natural explanation—and the chapter’s intriguing, disturbing and fascinating all at once.
The story becomes a little more mundane as the top-of-her-class college student proceeds to get thoroughly drunk while celebrating success with her teacher. Characters make important decisions with surprising ease, belying the complex emotions of the first chapter and tending more towards a cozy mystery style of writing. A mystery in the past concerning the murder of the protagonist’s family, bleeds into the present with a stalker whose thoughts are occasionally revealed. Red herrings are tossed into the mix then disappear, while odd remarks gradually become clear, giving a feeling that the characters have kept secrets from the author as well as the reader while the story progressed. The result is a slightly awkward cross between mystery and suspense. A few soaring scenes will stick in my mind despite occasional typos and unconvincing behavior. Meanwhile the Arm Farm of the title creates a well-written powerfully haunting wrapper to the tale.
Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)
on Feb. 27, 2012 :
After walking in from school to find her mothers lifeless body covered in blood and then being told her father had also been butchered in their family home, seven year old Natalie’s life is set on a new course. She grows up with an interest in forensic science, not consciously with the aim of solving her parents still open murder, but more so she could help other victims and their families by getting answers. Natalie’s natural skills were noticed by her professors and she was given the opportunity to attend an out of state forensic conference, this made headlines and soon after Natalie found herself as the victim of a stalker.
I wasn’t very impressed with the cover art for this book. It wasn’t eye catching, the colours are pale and the cartoon like drawing coupled with the strange title are quite misleading. I think to get this book noticed on the market it definitely needs a new front cover, one that will make it stand out from the crowd because when choosing a book buyers are initially attracted by the front cover.
The story is quite intriguing, I like the idea of it and think with quite a bit of work this could be a very good book. Punctuation and grammar are not an issue, there was nothing in those areas that jumped out at me as being a problem but the overall writing needs to be addressed.
1) The dialogue is contrived and not very realistic:- There is quite a lot of dialogue in this book but none of it sounds natural, conversations aren’t written in a way that you could ‘hear’ the people saying them, it was as if the characters were reading from a script and they were very poor actors.
2) The sentences were stilted:- There was no flow to the writing, it became frustrating to read because it was so unnatural and wooden. Some sentences were so stuffy and structured in such an odd way that I felt like I was reading something written in the 1800’s!
3) Vocabulary :- We are treated to some ‘big’ words i.e. smorgasbord for one (surely ‘varied buffet’ would have sufficed) yet the author made the very common error of writing ‘blood splatter analysis’ instead of ‘blood spatter analysis’ (which is one of my pet hate mistakes) yet it wasn’t picked up by her pre-published readers or ‘editor?’
I don’t want it to seem as if I am really down on this book because as I said earlier I found the idea very interesting, this is where a good editor comes in. As well correcting grammatical errors an editor picks out unrealistic areas of the plot and can reconstruct sentences to aid readability. A good edit and a new front cover would dramatically improve this books saleability and I think it is something the author should seriously consider.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on Nov. 3, 2011 :
Even though this book is not the normal genre I read, I really found myself drawn to the story and enjoying it. The writing is excellent and the story is full of suspense and emotion that keep you reading and hoping for closure for our young heroine. I found the forensic science parts of the story both believable and fascinating, even if I don't know a whole lot about that field myself. The author was able to make complex scientific information accessible even to those of us unfamiliar with the concepts. Definitely a worthwhile read!
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)