I do love an underdog

Today’s book is The Hero of Zegoma Beach, by Lexel J Green – which, for once, is something I picked up of my own accord. 🙂

Book Info

Length: 160 pages

Publisher: Self-published

Released: May 16, 2017

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Website

What if you could fight a war and know that you were going to win? What if you could fight a war and know that none of your warriors had to die? What if you had the chance to get everything you ever wanted and more besides?

Would you take it?

For Quiga Salkand the answer was ‘no, thank you very much.’ He preferred things the way they were, happy in his job as a councillor to the King of the Crescent Isle.

The trouble was, Quiga’s king was a bonkers, nutjob of a king. A king who dreamt of leading an army to restore a long lost Kingdom and who might just have stolen the means to do it.

Quiga just wanted a quiet life. But you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. In addition to the mad king, Quiga must contend with two invasions, a murderous plot, ghosts, magic, and an ambitious wife who keeps urging him to snatch the throne.

He’ll be lucky to get out of this alive.

Real Quick

Well-written fantasy battle fiction, elevated by a wonderfully unusual protagonist.

Ramble

“Do you surrender?”

“…not really.”

Sold.

This is a short review, but hey, this is a short book. Here’s the gist:

I love an unconventional main character, and Quiga is just the best. Dragged kicking and screaming into daring deeds and potentially heroic endeavors, he’s completely unequipped – not to mention unwilling – and his lovable anti-heroism breathes a bit of new life into the genre. With the solid writing and the fascinating worldbuilding (which already has me eyeing the first book in Green’s Oconic Gates series), I can’t think of a reason not to pick up this book.

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Goodness gracious, I’m a guest blogger now

Today’s book is Trolled, by DK Bussell, which I reviewed over at Striking 13.

Book Info

Length: 223 pages

Publisher: Bussell Books

Released: November 28, 2016

Amazon | Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old student Nat Lawler doesn’t know her orc from her elf bow. She’s never swung a sword before, never ridden a unicorn, or fought a troll outside of the internet. And yet here she is, trapped in a fantasy world and tasked with defeating its evil queen, Drensila the Black.

Thankfully, some of Nat’s roleplayer friends were thrown into the mix too, and join her on her epic quest. They’ve spent their lives preparing for this moment, but now it’s time for action, because this fantasy just got real!

Real Quick

A heaping dose of comic fantasy goodness – see my full review over at Striking 13!

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The Indie Author’s Guide to Taming Book Reviewers

I’ve been running this little corner of bookishness and snark for seven months now – if Bookish Creature were a baby, it’d be teething.

Over this better part of a year, I’ve received too many book review submissions to count, and I’ve started to figure out what separates the great ones from the good ones. In the interest of helping authors improve their chances with reviewers (not to mention helping bloggers get more great submissions) – and with some help from the lovely gents over at Striking 13 – I’ve put together a few best practices for taming that strange and flighty beast: the book blogger.

Know Your Enemy Audience

Pay attention to each reviewer’s guidelines! Most of us only accept a handful of genres and file types – no sense sending your book out to someone if it’s not their cup of tea. If they don’t have any guidelines listed, try taking a look at their previous reviews to see what genres they tend to read.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Proofread your email. Twice. Typos happen to everyone, but an obvious lack of care in your message doesn’t give me high hopes for your book.

Put Your Best Book Forward

“Do not send every story you’ve ever written, pick one. Nothing worse than getting half a dozen emails, one after the other, from the same person, or getting a book series described in a single submission form with a multitude of attachments. If your book is well received, then by all means reach out to us again with another piece of work.” -Richard from Striking 13

Be a Tease

Back cover blurbs are great and all, but what we really want is a taster of your writing style before we commit to the whole book. If you’re not comfortable sending off a review copy right away for us to flip through, consider including the first chapter, or pointing us towards Amazon if you have their Look Inside feature enabled.

Link Me Up

Speaking of Amazon – most reviewers like to link around to various publishing outlets and social networks. Make it easy on us and include these links in your message. Amazon and Goodreads are the major ones, but including your personal website, Twitter handle, and Facebook page is also helpful.

We’re Only Volunteers

With books as in life: suggest, don’t demand. I can’t speak for every blogger out there, but if you give me a little wiggle room I’ll do my best to work within your marketing campaign – provided the deadlines are reasonable, of course. That said, life happens no matter how fast you read, and for most of us, this is just a hobby. Be patient with us. 😉

Be You

Ditch the formality! I love getting review requests that are friendly and full of personality – they stand out, they give me a sense of your writing style, and they’re far more likely to be accepted. So loosen up. 🙂 We’re all just a bunch of book nerds, after all.

Speaking of nerds – sound off in the comments! Authors, any questions? Bloggers, any more advice?

Still coming in pairs…

Today’s book is Draguntome: Heir of the Forsaken, by KM Plum.

Book Info

Length: 235 pages

Publisher: Smashwords

Released: April 10, 2017

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Website

Where knights and dragons once marched for honor at the behest of the Good King, nothing remains but sad and broken lore about the glory of the old rule. Now, titles of nobility are only christened by the spilling of blood and the destruction of everything linked to the old ways under the Order of the Black King. Even so, some still stand who are not easily dissuaded…

In the small forest village of Ark, Kalos has lived alone with his father for as long as he can remember. After a strange encounter at the exotic Mercari Fair, which arrives only once a year, the two of them must immediately depart for the port city of Blefcynn. A mysterious collection of items is urgently required by his Father, but even Kalos may be unable to learn why.

Kalos must conquer overwhelming obstacles while rapidly evolving from the boy he thought he was to a man he never expected to become throughout his journey. War, pirates and unyielding odds threaten to crush him around every corner in “Heir Of The Forsaken,” the first installment of the Draguntome saga.

Real Quick

The plot burned a bit too slow and the writing could use a little tightening up – another casualty to the Not For Me pile.

Ramble

I have a rule – if the central conflict hasn’t appeared by the 30% mark, I’m putting the book down.

The first third of Heir of the Forsaken hinted at a vibrant fantasy world and the beginnings of a daring quest… but hints were all I got. I had no reason to care about the main character because nothing was ever at stake – a few foreshadow-y things happened around him, but there was no context and no overarching plotline to keep me hooked.

The writing itself would also benefit from another round of edits. It wasn’t bad by any means, just bogged down by occasional awkward phrasing – most notably when a character’s goosebumps were described as her skin having “exploded from the neck down with prickled flesh.” Definitely made me double-take, along with another confusing scene where a minor character’s name changes several times in as many paragraphs.

Overall, it’s not a bad story. With a little cleanup and with the plot restructured to really get into gear within the first couple of chapters, Draguntome would be a great addition to any YA fantasy shelf.

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Ever just wanted to shake a main character?

Today’s book is Walking the Pendulum, by HA Dawson.

Book Info

Length: 393 pages

Publisher: Self-published

Released: February 28, 2017

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s Website

Megan’s made a hasty escape. Now she’s perplexed by the confusion sparked by events on the train journey and her effect on the locals, whose disconcerting behaviour makes her skittish. She’s determined and headstrong yet vulnerable, unaware of the imminent danger posed by the scheme hatched by her mystery assailant.

Real Quick

Unfortunately lacking the ‘heart and soul’ promised on the cover.

Ramble

The hits seem to come in pairs over here at Bookish Creature, because I had this same problem a few days ago. I really wanted to enjoy this book – the premise was intriguing and the writing was solid (if a bit wordy). But the characters…

They just didn’t act like people. The dialogue was stiff and unnatural, the conversations robotic – like this exchange between Megan and a woman she’s just met.

‘When I arrived in town, I had a premonition,’ she said cautiously. ‘I thought I saw my death.’

‘What exactly did you see?’

She pressed her arms to her middle and took a deep breath, steadying her voice. ‘A knife went into my stomach. I saw blood, lots of it.’

‘It was probably nothing…’ Megan continued, ‘an overactive imagination or stress. I keep telling myself the future hasn’t happened yet.’

She nodded uneasily. ‘You’re probably right.’

‘Having said that, I might do a bit of investigating to see if I can find out what caused it. It was very intense, very real.’

‘I’d be interested to know what you discover.’

‘Stop by my place sometime, I live near the market. 21 Rochester Street.’

She nodded. ‘I’ll do that, but I must go. Work calls.’

The actions were just as mystifying as the words. Megan’s decision-making process made no sense to me at times. After receiving a poorly-made flyer for a local art event, she follows its directions down the street, into the woods, up to a dilapidated old building – and only once she’s in the door and faced with an empty room does she stop and think, “Hey, this doesn’t look like an art event.” It felt like the author put more effort into the scenery than anything else. For example, I know that the town farmer’s market had exceptionally crisp cabbage at a competitive price, but I have no idea why Megan decided to keep trusting another character who had a live cat strung up by the back feet in their closet.

To sum it up, Walking the Pendulum has a lot of potential, but the leaps of logic and wooden cast were just too much for me to get through.

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Hey, I’m Ashley

Devouring indie books in search of the next great novel.

I'm on Goodreads and Twitter if you wanna say hi, or recommend me a book, or yell about stuff with me.

You can also hit me up at thebookishcreature {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Disclosure

Unless stated otherwise, I receive a review copy of each book I feature, but fear not - I pull no punches. All of my reviews express my honest thoughts, good or bad. 🙂

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