Cate Agosta


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Smashwords book reviews by Cate Agosta

  • Trade Winds To Meluhha : Novel Set In Ancient Mesopotamia & Indus Valley 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:
  • 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:
  • Shardfall 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:
  • 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:
  • The Struggle Trilogy on Feb. 05, 2014

    Although this is a review on a trilogy of books, I really feel it is more a review on just one book. If you are going to read this, please don’t try to break it down into three parts, just jump straight in and read it as if it is a complete book, I assure you that you will not be disappointed. While I am on this subject, I’m not sure why the Author chose to split this book into three as it works very well as a full novel on its own. Also you if have a weak stomach, be warned that this is a book set in a combat zone; the scenes of violence contained in it cannot be avoided and, in some places, they may make the reader sick to their stomach. However, this is also one of the strengths of this book, as it serves to bring right into the readers comfortable reading spot a perspective on a war that has often been used as a political tool by Governments far and wide. The main protagonist is in this book is not a likeable one at all, despite starting out with good intentions in his fight for the preservation of his life and that of his Family’s he soon slides into a world that brings about actions which truly make the reader doubt if he ever had a decent bone in his body to start with. If it had not been for several other characters I encountered in reading this novel, I think the main character would have truly made me reconsider completing this book. Other characters are written in such a way that they add depth and breadth to the story; the humanity or inhumanity of war is reflected through their actions and shown in the turmoil they face on a day to day basis. The Author has done an excellent job of taking personalities from both side of this conflict and making them equally likeable or not, regardless of their background; with a skilful pen the Author demonstrates the motivations of all the different groups operating in this war without taking a firm stand for one group or the other. Regardless of whether the reader likes the characters or not in this book, there is no avoiding the fact that we are reading about real and suffering people who endure the unthinkable and have, like all humans lapses in their moral codes. For me, I found this to be a very emotional book to read; knowing the Author is a Veteran themselves and had actually been in the same dark place my Husband had, made me realize that this was just as much as healing tool for the Author as it was a piece of fiction based on facts for the reader. The book is full of common military terms and, at times I could hear the words of the Author echoed in conversations I have had with others that were in Iraq during the early years of the war. Although many readers may think that the ending to this book is rather weak compared to the rest of the contents, I felt it was very indicative of the nature of this conflict; there are no clear rules of engagement and no nice clean happy endings, at the end of the day there are losses on both sides and each have to rebuild not only their homes but their lives as well, physically and mentally. This is a very thought provoking novel, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to get another perspective on the Iraq war and those who are interested in military books. Originally reviewed on: