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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-10-09 06:30
Review: Our Dried Voices by Greg Hicket
Our Dried Voices - Greg Hickey

***Disclaimer*** I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Greg!***


This book was a delightful little read. Based on the synopsis it sounded like it would be right within my area of enjoyment and it turned out that it was. I had a few irritations with it, and there were a few struggles but I found that I did not mind those things too much because the story kept my interest well.


The book starts with a bullet pointed list of all the major accomplishments and failures of humanity in the 300-ish years leading from our present to the beginning of the story. While I found this information interesting, I would have preferred that the information was packaged in a different manner. Bullet points are not that enthralling to read. There was a short excerpt from a “history” of the same time period that we get at the end of the book and a lot of the same information was covered. It confused me why this was at the end and not the beginning. It would have been a better introduction to the story than an ending.


I also got the impression that the author struggled with his narrator a bit, which is understandable and I think anyone would have struggled with it but overall it was handled well. I could tell at times that the author really wanted Samuel to be able to describe things better but he couldn’t because he lacked the language or awareness for it at that moment. At times this led to a bit of an inconsistent narrative but not often enough that it got on my nerves.


Warning: There may be some spoilers beyond this point.


As I read other reviews for this book, I saw a lot of people wondering how humanity could get to a point of being so lazy that we experience a regression in all cognitive functioning and lose the vast majority of our language and ability to communicate. I wondered that too for a while. But then I got on social media for a few minutes and it all made sense to me. We already are practically communicating only in pictures these days with memes, GIFs, selfies and emojis. And plenty of people are so lazy that they can’t be bothered to seek out answers for themselves and instead of spending 30 seconds on Google figuring something out will instead spend an hour asking other people to do it for them. So, to me at least, I can completely see this as a future for humanity.


I really liked the series of tests that Samuel encountered trying to help his community but I also got frustrated with him at a certain point. Clearly, his efforts were going to waste. The rest of the colonists didn’t appreciate, nor even notice, his efforts to keep them content and happy so after a point I was wondering why he was still trying. This also leads me to the ending, at first I didn’t understand it. Staying with the other colony seemed like a natural step. These were people like Samuel. He could improve his own life and be with people who valued their minds, like he did. So why didn’t he?

I thought about that a lot since I finished the book last night and I think I came to a conclusion. Just like Samuel decided that he no longer wanted to waste his labor on colonists who would never progress, he equally didn’t want to waste his labor toward an effort that was directed for someone else’s benefit. He wanted to use his ingenuity, his mind, and his labor to forge his own way not just trade one master for another. In the end, I really like that message. It was an enjoyable book that I liked more than I first expected that I would.

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review 2017-12-13 08:56
Kings of Paradise- Richard Nell


Using stars, if books can ever be fairly classified in such a blunt way, this book requires five.

The first thing to note is that there isn’t much paradise here, even in the relatively mild climatic conditions of the south. Secondly, there are kings, legions of princes and princesses, and every kind of human ogre, and all have very tough lives, many characters hardly rising above the shitpits of crude existence. Generally, this is a story about the brutish nature of humanity, seen in the evil waves of real history and not just in these dystopian pages. The knife cuts every bit as deeply, with just as much pain, as in any human conflict. Little of it is truly fantastical, though we get a glimpse of fantasy spells in the final chapters, though nothing as far-fetched as fire breathing dragons in the first long tome of this eventual trilogy. The overall tone of the book is a plausible if dark read, and not at all one I recognise as fantasy genre. In fact, when fantasy elements crept in they didn’t seem to fit well at all. The balance of reality and wizardry is not my biggest problem here though, that being the overall weight of words.

There are two excellent 80,000 word stories in this long volume, plus 40,000 words of material to save for later. The quality of the writing easily sustained this reader, but as two books in a series, one about the south and one about the north, what is good reading could have been brilliant. The two main stories might be better weaved separately in the proposed series of books, rather than threading separately around each section by section. A minor grievance, as is often the case with indie authors, is that the editing isn’t always quite up to the quality of the descriptive writing, but all in all the production is very good. Some sections of the book, which may have faced late rewrites, are certainly less well chiselled.

I can see one reason for putting all this into one book, that being because the story of Ruka is just too bleak even for the dark side of grimdark, however that could be lightened considerably without losing the terror in his character. The story of the priestesses could easily be written lightly enough to act as a counterfoil, which to some degree it is anyway. I have to admit that a book focused simply on Ruka would have many readers reaching into their drug cabinet.

As mentioned, the book moves further from a classic dystopian genre towards fantasy as the abilities of Kale ‘mature’. In my view the ‘game of thrones’ feel of the script is strong enough without superpowers, and certainly Nell writes great storylines that really don’t need the escapology of supernatural talents. Exaggerated human skills, even out of body experiences, fit the foundations of the book’s world very well, but the creeping in abilities of Nordic gods, in my opinion, don’t.

My interested was sustained, I really wanted to get to the conclusion. However, when the end came we had already passed several far more powerful climaxes. That was certainly a disappointment, if one that isn’t uncommon in planned trilogies. Authors need to hold back some storylines of course, but the biggest ‘bang’ in every book in a series should be in its final chapters.

Would I read more by this author? Yes, for sure. But also note that I already feel I’ve read at least two of his books.



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review 2014-02-23 19:15
Attack on Titan (vol. 2) by Hajime Isayama, translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka
Attack on Titan, Volume 2 - Hajime Isayama

Story-wise, I thought this volume was a bit better than the first. Unfortunately, the story is still crippled by its terrible art. If I hadn't already seen the anime, I would likely have wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what was happening in certain panels and what had happened from one panel to the next. I really hate Isayama's overly dark, sketchy art style.

If you've seen the anime, there's almost nothing in this volume that will be new to you. The only potentially new thing I spotted was a moment during a flashback explaining Mikasa's backstory. Mikasa has a brand on her wrist that is passed down from generation to generation in her family (or at least on her mother's side). It's hard to tell whether it will end up being important, or if it was just Mikasa's mother's family's way of signifying “we are the last of the Asians.”

In the first half of the volume, the most interesting things were finding out Mikasa's backstory and seeing her in action. She's awesome and takes no crap from anyone (except possibly Eren). I found the ease with which Child Eren

murdered several grown men to be just as disturbing in the manga as in the anime. No hesitation, no doubt, just “they are animals and they must die.”

(spoiler show)

The second half of the volume has one of my favorite moments, the first appearance of

the Titan-killing Titan.

(spoiler show)

Unfortunately, again, it was crippled by the bad art. I'd honestly rather re-watch that portion of the anime than re-read it in the manga.

I will continue reading this series because I want to get to stuff that hasn't been shown in the anime. I hope it will eventually become more enjoyable.


Several pages of Attack on Titan world-related information: an illustration of the extent of territory left to the human race; illustrations of the wall-mounted artillery and its ammo; and an illustration of the relative scale of the various types of Titans vs. a soldier and a building. Also included is a rejected cover proposal sketch.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2013-12-29 21:28
Attack on Titan (vol. 1) by Hajime Isayama, translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka
Attack on Titan, Volume 1 - Hajime Isayama

Here's the thing: I've seen both seasons of the anime, and I loved the show. I disliked Eren, the main character, but that didn't seem to matter. The action scenes were fabulous, and the plot twists were so gripping I couldn't stop watching. Unfortunately, season 2 ended with lots of questions still unanswered and, right now, the best way to get answers is to read the manga.

That's pretty much the only reason why I'm going to read more than this first volume. From what I've been able to find online, Attack on Titan is Isayama's first series – he's done maybe two or three one-shots prior to this. And, oh, it shows.

I've read several manga series where the story is written by one person and the art is done by someone else. I wish that Attack on Titan had been done that way. While Isayama's story ideas are pretty good, he wasn't ready to be drawing something like this. While some panels are okay, a few are so bad that it's hard to tell what was going on. Action scenes and small panels fare the worst, human characters are often sloppily drawn, and the Titans look terrible.

Okay, now that I have some of my gripes about the art out of the way, on to the story and characters. Like I said, I've seen the anime. I can't review this like someone who hasn't. I already know what's going to happen and that, while this volume is incredibly bleak (Isayama is not shy about killing people off), all hope is not lost. I'm guessing a newbie would think otherwise, considering that one of the series' biggest early plot twists happens right at the end of the volume.

There's not really much in this particular volume to interest someone who's seen the anime, and, as a result, it's kind of boring. It's basically the same events, except the anime presented things more chronologically. The manga shows some of the chaos right after Wall Maria was destroyed and then skips straight to Eren, Armin, and Mikasa's Training Corps graduation and the next great blow to humanity's existence. There's been only one training flashback, and it was limited to a classroom lecture on Titans and the way they can be killed.

So far, most of the characters have barely had a chance to make an impression. Eren is still annoying and still unaware that Mikasa is the primary reason he has survived as long as he has. I like Mikasa and Armin, but I think that may be due more to my memories of the anime than to anything in this volume, because neither character has done much yet.

All in all, I'll continue with the series because I want to make it to scenes that weren't in the anime and volumes that haven't been adapted yet. I'm not sure how long this will take. I'm crossing my fingers that Isayama's artwork gets better with each volume.


One thing I did appreciate about this volume were the extra pages explaining a few details about the walls, the towns that jut outside the walls, and the three-dimensional maneuver gear.

A word of warning to Attack on Titan newbies: You may want to avoid reading the 3-page interview with Isayama at the end of the volume. One of his answers includes a spoiler.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2012-09-19 00:00
DESIRE (A Dystopian Fantasy) : Desire Series #1
Desire - Kailin Gow I'm pretty confused by all the good reviews this book is getting. Seriously? I thought the writing was terrible, and the characters weren't much better. I think this was actually written by a 10-year-old. Things just happened out of nowhere, new concepts introduced, and you were just supposed to roll with it with NO backstory whatsoever. I cannot emphasize enough the fact that there wasn't any backstory on anything. Even the romance that took place - just kinda popped out of nowhere in one scene! Everything felt so casually thrown in that I couldn't enjoy it at all. "Hey, the book is still crappy, let's throw in some more popular plot elements!" Judging by how often this author releases new books, she's obviously just cranking them out for cash. This is not quality work. This doesn't deserve to be called a literary work.
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