52Under2: Week 15 Shortlist

Week 15 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.

Raven’s Heirs by Lesley Arrowsmith
Rescued from his captivity with corsairs, Owain finds his troubles just beginning as her returns home to find intrigue brewing.
The extremely basic cover of this book does a disservice to the contents. The character names in the description promise a Welsh-/Celtic-based fantasy world. The excerpt starts with an introduction to the main character in captivity and shows us some of his supernatural abilities. From there the story moves on at a good pace and the world-building is consistent and unintrusive.

Cabaret Voltaire by Trish Tonello
In a steampunk-inspired fantasy world, Alex wants to be an artist but is prevented by her rank and gender.
The ‘Second Life’-looking cover of this book is stylish, but to me doesn’t jibe with the steampunk description of the setting. I got off to a bad start with the excerpt – I had to wade through a Foreword and a Prologue that both did little but explain the setting and the stakes, rather than letting the story speak for itself. After that the wealth and variety of speech attributions – ‘moaned’, ‘lamented’, ‘drawled’, ‘spat’, ‘sighed’ – was a little dizzying. I also found the main character – a poor little rich girl who all the boys want – not that compelling.

Dreamers by Donna Hall
When Lollie’s little sister goes missing, she must venture into a world of dreams to get her back.
The front page for this book breaks off in mid-description, which is a pity, but I still gave the excerpt a try. The excerpt is well-written and fast-paced. It quickly introduces the sisters’ relationship, before getting straight into the action. Then things take a turn for the weird.

Awakening by Sarah L Robins
Eve starts experiencing strange phenomena that lead her to her hidden mystical heritage.
The cover of this book is gorgeous. I’m less enthusiastic about the excerpt. It’s always nice to find a YA book set in contemporary Britain, rather than contemporary America. However, it takes a while for this to get started. There’s a vague prologue with glowing creatures and a dream sequence, but all of this feels a little untethered, as there’s no strong indication of who the ‘I’ is in the dream sequence. When the story proper starts, the friend interactions are good and enjoyable to read. Unfortunately, things are a little let down by the author’s flaky grasp of punctuation and grammar.

A Spy Like Me by Laura Pauling
Savvy’s first date with Malcolm, on the banks of the Seine, is interrupted when he is shot at by a sniper.
I really enjoyed reading the excerpt of this book. The main character is sparky and self-confident. Her banter with her date is fun and interesting.  The action kicks off straight away with a mysterious shooting. Danger, mystery and romance are all already established by the end of the first chapter. The excerpt continues to be a fun read.
This is the book I’ll be reviewing later in the week.

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