52Under2: Week 13 Shortlist

Week 13 of my 52Under2 book reviews.

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.

Vivid by Andrea Murray
Vivian has the power to manipulate energy, this brings her into danger from the man who murdered her mother.
The excerpt of this novel starts well, using present tense and, after a short prologue mentioning the death of the protagonist’s mother, gets straight into the drama of the battleground that is high school. An incident with the school bullies causes Vivian to unleash the powers she had been trying to keep under wraps. I found it quite interesting that Vivian, in the heat of the moment, enjoys the violence she can inflict with her powers on those she doesn’t like. In a slightly contradictory way, she feels bad about using mind control on people she likes, but does it anyway. I’d be interested to see if the moral ramifications of both of these lead to conflict or inner turmoil later on in the book. Though both actions did little to endear the character to me. Also I felt like Vivian was too powerful right out of the gate, so I wasn’t sure where she could develop her powers to.

 

Otto and the Hunt for Mal Goue by Greg Blok
A young stowaway finds himself up against both the Dutch East India Company and a Pirate King.
I was glad to get a book on the list with a male protagonist. I’m female, so, rightly or wrongly, I tend to gravitate to books with female narrators. The setting sounded interesting, so I got stuck in to the excerpt to see what this book had to offer. The excerpt disappointed me. It was full of anachronistic language, confused punctuation, tense shifts, and incorrect word use. The characters felt lacking in dimension and the protagonist an utterly selfish whining individual. I stopped reading this pretty quickly; I had no desire to spend any more time in the presence of Otto.

 

Until Darkness Comes by Melynda Price
A girl with a gift finds herself in a love triangle between two handsome guys, one an angel, the other a demon.
I wish I could write a review of the excerpt of this book, but after a moment of confusion I realised that 5 Prince Publishing had uploaded the files for one of their other books instead of the files for Until Darkness Comes. (And that neither the publisher nor the author seem to have noticed for 6 days.) I’ve let them know and I assume this will be rectified soon.

 

Fable of the Swan by Jenna Katerin Moran
A dark fantasy tale with interesting characters and concepts all thrown into the world-building melting pot.
The description of this book had so much going for it. It sounded like it would include a lot of good elements: steampunk, a dark aesthetic, unusual or underutilised fantasy elements, a rich mix of concepts. There was no real inkling of what the story and its conflicts were going to be. It is also apparently part of a larger transmedia project, though I could find no additional links or information about this overarching project, so I’m not really sure what it entails. I got stuck into the excerpt, with the slightly biased expectation that I would read and review this book. Unfortunately it was not to be. The three-part introduction seemed couched in deliberately obscure and obfuscated language. It tread the line between being intriguing and irritating. For me, this went on too long and fell off the line and into irritating. I stopped reading before the first chapter.

Edit: I came back later, after I had made my pick for the week and read a little further. Once the story properly gets started it is well-written and fairly interesting, but – as indicated above – I found the barrier to entry a little high.

 

The Fairy Godmother Files: Cinderella Complex by Rebekah Purdy
When her Grandma retires from her job as Fairy Godmother, Maggie has to pick up the wand.
Another excerpt that started out with the establishment of high school conflicts, a protagonist and her friends. ( Very similar to Vivid, above. When I was writing these précis of two books whose excerpt’s I had skim read – I did occasionally have to pause and make sure that I wasn’t confusing events from the two.) The characters in this one are more fully rounded. After establishing protagonist, best friend, mean girl, decoy love interest and real love interest, the book moves straight on to set up the situation. Maggie becomes a Fairy Godmother. This was one of the aspects of the excerpt that jarred me a little – that Maggie was neither given nor asked for time to think over her decision. Another thing I didn’t like was the absolute and deterministic view of love and romantic relationships that was portrayed. You have one person who is your perfect partner, with whom you will get your happy ending, and no one else will be good enough. Hmmm. I guess this is a fairytale novel after all.
The good characters and touches of situational humour got me into this book and I’ll be reviewing it in full later this week.

 

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