52Under2: Week 11 Shortlist

Week 11 of my 52Under2 book reviews.

Another week where I wish I had time to read and review more than one novel. These are the Top 5 books that caught my eye on Smashwords this week and I’ll be reviewing one of them in depth later in the week.

Walking Wolf Road by Brandon M Herbert
The new kid in a Colorado town gets bitten by a mysterious animal under the light of a full moon.
The short description of this book read like pure ad copy, which I found rather off-putting. The extended description lured me back. It was pretty obvious from the cover and title that this book was going the way of the werewolves, but I really liked the spin that the extended description put on it: ‘soul of a wolf’, ‘shamanic powers’. It was nice to see a book taking a spiritual approach to the werewolf myth, especially nowadays when most of the books I read about werewolves and shapeshifters put a very medical/genetic focus on the phenomenon.
I really liked the excerpt, despite occasional semicolon abuse and overuse. The author nails the teenage protagonist’s cynical, self-deprecating voice. The first chapter manages to get a lot of background information over quickly, but not clumsily, and get the protagonist straight to his werewolf encounter and straight into the story.

Tatari by Brandon Grijalva
A depressed, rich Japanese guy becomes embroiled in a secret war between demihumans and religious forces.
I was drawn to this novel by the beautifully minimalist cover. Also I’m fairly interested in Japan and Japanese pop culture (at a Studio Ghibli /  Haruki Murakami level   – not at a deep otaku level). The short description sounded pretty good, though the choice the  the protagonist was asked to make – ‘destroy the world’ or ‘ protect his family’ – seemed a bit of a no-brainer. I started treading the excerpt with high hopes, but found it not particularly captivating. I think the problem was that it was hard to feel empathy for a protagonist who has it all – including an on call servant. Apart from a meeting with a girl, the excerpt doesn’t really contain much more than a description of this guy’s home life, so I found it difficult to get an idea of where the story was going.

Flicker by Kaye Thornbrugh
A girl with a talent in art is stolen away to server the fae as a portrait artist. She escapes them into a world that has changed and must adapt to a new life in a city’s supernatural underworld.
The long description of this book gave a lot of material that sounded interesting (without managing to give away any spoilers – a difficult balance sometimes). It sounded like there was a lot to get into in this novel. The excerpt was well-written. In particular the visual descriptions were beautiful – as befitting a novel where the POV character is an artist. The excerpt gives us a taste of the protagonist’s normal life before moving quickly to her first encounter with the faeries.

Eden’s Root by Rachel Fisher
In a near future marred by food shortages and a creeping sickness, a girl must fight to survive and save her little sister.
I was drawn in by the description of this novel, which painted it as mundane science fiction or near-future dystopia. – genres where there are lots of interesting aspects to explore. The excerpt had a good hook: the Family Food Laws – rules that were put in place to safeguard the family and make sure that food went where it was most needed. It was a fairly immediate and let the reader know straight away about the concerns of this world. The excerpt then backtracks to a time when things were normal, just before they started going wrong.

Leopard Moon by Jeanette Battista
A were-leopard goes on the run from her family, but when she meets a guy she likes it’s time to take a stand.
I liked the sound of this book because it’s been a while since I’ve come across a were-something book that wasn’t about werewolves. The excerpt was tight and well-written, plunging the protagonist straight into jeopardy – which she handles well. Another pleasant surprise in reading the excerpt was the switch of point-of-view character in the second chapter. Quite often the books I’ve read for 52Under2 have been first person or a single limited third person point of view. This excerpt seems to handle multiple POV voices well.
This is the book I’ll be reviewing later this week.

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