Book Reviews by Someone not Qualified to Review Books: The Calling (Dragon Age #2)

The Calling (Dragon Age)The Calling by David Gaider

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll come out and say this right away: I am a massive Dragon Age fan. So much so that it’s the only video game series that I’ve bothered to read the companion book series for. I’d read the first book in the series, the Stolen Throne, quite a few years ago but I remember being pleasantly surprised at the quality. I would say that the Calling is a actually small step up from the first book in terms of characters and storytelling and is a surprisingly solid video game book.

The Calling is set quite some time before the first game, Dragon Age Origins, and features a few familiar characters from the game, as well as the parents of one particular character who I won’t name for spoiler reasons. Just like the first book, it does quite a good job at setting out the universe, so much so that I think someone who hasn’t played the games definitely could pick it up, but of course the book is most rewarding to those who are familiar with the source material. Unlike the first book, the Calling feels very fantasy-RPG in its style, down to its merry band of heroes fighting together to stop a greater evil. You have your warriors, your mages and your rouges just as you did in the game. And similarly to the games, the book does its best to make each character feel unique, with different personalities and backstories. While a lot of the characters could be called cliche, I very much appreciated that the book does take the time to explain these characters and their motivations. In fact, the story is very character-driven, and the overall plot is often moved along by the actions and subsequent reactions of the characters. Of course, some characters stood out more than others- such as Maric, Fiona, Duncan and Genevieve, but this is not a bad thing since it means you are not flooded with too many protagonists.

The story is very prequel-esque in its nature and at times does seem to serve nothing but setting up events that will later become important in the games. The majority of the book is set in the Deep Roads- a vast network of underground passages, which can become a somewhat stale setting at times. As I mentioned before though, I think this book in more interested in telling the characters’ stories rather than become overburdened with an intricate plot and setting. And for the most part, I enjoyed all of the character arcs, even if some where a bit simple.

Also just like the Dragon Age games, the Calling features a romantic subplot. While I knew it was coming (since the relationship was alluded to in the games), it still felt rather jarring and forced in. While not the worst romance I’ve ever read, the characters involved go from “I hate you and everything you stand for” to “literally having sex on a cave floor” in a matter of days. It does seem to spring up from nowhere, and a veteran of the games will be able to tell that it seems like it was shoehorned in to quite literally conceive a character that would later appear in Dragon Age Origins.

In summary, the Calling is definitely quite a well written book that expands on characters and events from the games, and is perfect for any Dragon Age fans looking to know more about events leading up to the games. For non Dragon Age players making their way through the series, it still holds its own as a solid fantasy novel that fits very nicely into the traditional fantasy-RPG feel. I would say its a 4 star read for Dragon Age fans, but 3 stars for general readers.

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Book Reviews by Someone not Qualified to Review Books: The Midnight Sea

The Midnight Sea (The Fourth Element, #1)The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The reason that I bought this book is because it’s setting and world have a lot of similarities to a novel I’m working on myself. and I wanted to get some ideas and inspiration from the Midnight Sea.

The first thing I will say is that I am in love with the book’s premise- a world incredibly similar to our own historical one but altered ever so slightly with magic and mythology. It’s distinctly familiar, but different enough to avoid being a historical fiction. Ties to Persian and Zoroastrian mythology are prevalent throughout the book, which is something that I have not seen touched on a great deal in fantasy novels. This unique world is what drew me into the book in the first place, and then kept me enraptured for the rest of the novel.

A lot of young adult novels have touched on the relationship between a female character and some sort of bonded demon (daevas in this book), so I was expecting this book to more of the same. But this premise was done a lot better than I expected and unexpectedly touched on the morality of the situation and questioned beliefs. What the reader adamantly supported at the beginning of the novel was challenged by the end. This interesting take on the traditional “girl and her demon” story saved the book from feeling like another generic fantasy romance.

For the most part, I enjoyed all of the characters. Nazafareen and Darius were likable main characters, though some extra characterization and building of their relationship would’ve been welcomed. I was even invested in the supporting characters, who were all very distinct with different personalities and motivations.

I found the plot somewhat slow and hard to get into at first, and at around the 25% mark the book sat unread on my Kindle for a while. But after I persisted for a bit longer, the plot suddenly kicked into gear and I found myself unable to put the book down. Unexpected twists and turns suddenly shake up the entire plot, and new revelations and information throughout the book kept me glued to my Kindle.

The writing style was plain and simple, but it worked well and conveyed scenes, dialogue and emotion well. In fact, I was so glad to have found a book that kept its focus on characters and story rather than fancy, flowery writing. At first I thought the writing was average, but as I kept reading I found it was simply just easy to read and follow, but made itself poetic when it needed to be.

Long story short, this book really surprised me. I admit I went in with low expectations, since I am very skeptical of young adult fantasy novels. A slow start bogged me down at first, but as I kept going I began to fall in love with the world, the characters and the story. It’s unique look on real life locations and events sets it aside from both fantasy and historical fiction, and instead makes it a engaging combination of the two. The characters and story are investing, and I love the way it tackles the idea of bonding humans and demons together, while heavily relying on Zoroastrian mythology. This is the most pleasantly surprised I’ve even been with a book, and I can’t wait to start the next in the series.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Made me a Reylo Shipper (Basically a review WITH SPOILERS)

I know this review-ish thing is coming somewhat late after the movie’s premiere, but I wanted to see it twice before making a conclusion on what I think of the movie. Now you’ve probably already read a thousand reviews by people much better at reviewing movies than me, so this is less of a review and more of my general thoughts and impressions of the Last Jedi.

I’ll start with saying that I don’t think my hype was up to the same standard as the Force Awakens was (which was high, very high).  The Force Awakens was the first real Star Wars movie in a long time, and I think most of my enjoyment of that film came from the simple fact it was the first Star Wars film in ten years.  But with the Last Jedi, I had been spoiled with the Force Awakens and Rogue One, so I had plenty of fill of Star Wars already.  But perhaps this is a good thing, since my opinion was not going to be affected by sheer excitement.

Now I’m going to come out and say it loud and clear- the Last Jedi is not a bad film.  It is in fact a very good one.  But is it a good Star Wars film?  Well, yes, but that is not a resounding yes.

I thought the first act or so of the Last Jedi was very good- it felt a lot like both the Force Awakens and the original movies.  Mark Hamill, as always, does a great job and I have to admit (and hence disagree with a lot of the fanboys) that I quite enjoyed this more cynical, wiser Luke.  Its clear that he’s learnt a lot from his original trilogy days and is starting to understand how the galaxy and the Force work.  And the revelation that even Luke had flashes of instinctual violence was a good way to remind us that he is a Skywalker- a family prone to child murdering.   Though his reluctance to help his friends was a little startling- I understand Luke has changed, but a key part of his character was his devotion to his friends.  That was perhaps too much of a change in personality.  But asides from that, I kinda dig old grumpy Luke.

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I thought Rey was pretty decent in this movie as well, but she felt very similar to how she did in the Force Awakens.  But I’d probably blame the Force Awakens for that for starting her off too competent and leaving her no where else to go.  She does learn a lot about the Force in this, and a lot about Kylo.  Speaking of Kylo.

The shining star of the movie.  The light of my life.  The one and only Kylo Ren/Ben Solo.  Easily my favourite character in the movie, Kylo feels like he has the most development of everyone.  Swinging from dark to light and back to dark, but with a slither of light, was a move I was not expecting.  I expected a straight forward redemption arc but got something better.  And his newfound relationship with Rey has opened up some interesting new possibilities.  And on the topic of Kylo and Rey…

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The best parts of the film for me were no doubt the interactions between Rey and Kylo.  Their Force connection was done in an interesting and impactful way that has moved their relationship to new grounds.  So much so that it made me, a once staunch opponent of Reylo into an avid supporter.

But now to go onto what I didn’t like, and unfortunately there was a fair bit.  Just as I enjoyed every scene with Rey, Luke or Kylo, I disliked nearly every scene with Finn and Rose.  Now Rose has stirred up a lot of debate in the Star Wars fanbase, and I’ll come out and say that I don’t think she’s a bad character in herself, but what she does in the film just seems kind of pointless and forced in.  My biggest gripe with her is her barging in and ruining a perfectly good and emotion death scene near the end.  What would’ve been a touching and impactful death scene was ruined for an unnecessary romance and some god awful line about pacifism that has no place in a movie series that literally has “Wars” in the title.

26114046_1962864767374009_3969896605126572334_n.jpg(credit: Star Wars Sithposting: a New Hope)

And the whole Canto Bight sequence, including the code-breaker was absolutely unnecessary and bloated the film’s run time.  If done differently, it might have served well for some world building  and characterization but instead it ended up being pretty pointless filler.  The codebreaker was just kinda there and really didn’t end up doing much, and after that whole sequence with Canto Bight and infiltrating the ship, the plot was really no further along than it had been before.

Also, this is kind of a minor gripe, but it infuriates me that I did not see a single identifiable Star Wars alien in that casino.  Would it kill them to have a few Twileks or Rodians knocking about rather than a bunch of aliens that look like partially melted play dough?

Star-Wars-The-Last-Jedi-Behind-The-Scenes-2525-2.jpgJust try and tell me you’d rather see that than a Twilek in a sweet cocktail dress

Also time to address the gold robed elephant in the room- Snoke.  I don’t quite know how to feel about his death.  On one hand, I’m incredibly annoyed we learnt next to nothing about him before his untimely demise.  But on the other hand, we knew nothing about the Emperor at his death in the original trilogy.  But to kill your main villain in the second film?  Those writers better be going somewhere with that.  But god those Praetorian Guards were awesome, and the fight scene between them and the Reylo dream team was the best.  But also while we’re on the topic of deaths that shouldn’t have happened- WHY YOU GOTTA KILL MY GIRL PHASMA?!

Goldmember.jpgAlso, why did Snoke look like Goldmember from Austin Powers?

Just like I’m not sure how to feel about Snoke, I also don’t know how to feel about Holdo.  My instinctual reaction to her was sheer annoyance- everything about her irritated me.  I was waiting for her to turn out to be a double agent or something, but instead she was just incompetent at communication.  Literally every problem that occurred to the Resistance could have been avoided if she had simply communicated her plan. While I agree that Poe was a tad rash in his actions, I understand why he did what he did.  I’d be pretty pissed too if my commanding officer was holding back vital information.  And Holdo, a character we’d know for like half a film got an amazing sacrificial death that probably would’ve been more deserved by an established character like Leia, or even Admiral Akbar.

The final act was probably the most enjoyable (asides from everything Rose does).  Crait was a visually amazing final battle, and it was great to see Kylo really falling off that deep end back into the dark side.  And while personally I would’ve liked to see a real Luke vs Kylo showdown, I understand that Mark Hamill is old and can’t be doing crazy stuff anymore.  In fact, I thought Luke’s final scene was incredibly touching and a fitting end to perhaps the most influential character in the saga.

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All in all, I am somewhat conflicted about the Last Jedi.  I think part of me loves it simply because its Star Wars.  It’s definitely a visually pleasing and well acted film.  Unfortunately, its potentially great plot is hampered by some bad scenes and poor pacing. It’s absolutely no where near as bad as some people are making out, and is still a solid edition to the saga that I will commend for taking risks.

I will give Star Wars Episode VIII 7.5 Reylo Fanfics out of 10.

Or, alternatively, 7.5 abdominal muscles out of 10 cause Kylo is BUFF

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Also Porgs are amazing and I want to hug them all.  10 Porgs out of Porg.

 

Book Reviews by Someone Not Qualified to Review Books: Tarkin

Tarkin (Star Wars)Tarkin by James Luceno

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this book, since I am a huge Tarkin fan. And for the most part, this book delivered. While technically a follow up to Lords of the Sith (a decidedly less interesting book), Tarkin doesn’t really follow on at all. And to be honest, that is fine considering how lack-luster I found Lords of the Sith.

Tarkin follows follows our favourite sentient pair of cheekbones on a hunt for rebel insurgents. Most of the book follows a bit of a wild goose chase after these rebels, but its more exciting than it sounds. With personal stakes in the rebel’s activities, it is great to finally see a different point of view of the galactic conflict. And Tarkin was the best choice for the point of view, since his collected and sensible view of the war shines a new light on the conflict- one that stirs a bit of pro-Imperial sentiment in the reader.

One of my other favourite aspects is the dynamic between Tarkin and Vader. I was not expecting them to team up, and its not something I knew I wanted until now. When they do, its an amazing combination that unveils a connection, and dare I say it, friendship between the two of them. I thought the reason that Vader follows Tarkin’s orders in a New Hope was born of Tarkin’s high rank, but after reading this you realise that Vader has a great deal of respect for Tarkin and he is probably the closest thing to a friend he has in the galaxy, which makes Tarkin’s eventual death all that more tragic.

However, once at the halfway point, the novel seems to drop off into tedium. That wild goose chase becomes less and less interesting, and actually somewhat harder to follow. A simple premise at the start eventually becomes a little hard to follow as new motivations and plans come to light. The scenes from the rebels point of view were fine, but I felt no connection or sympathy for these characters since it had all been spent on Tarkin and Vader.

There are also a number of scenes detailing Tarkin’s past, and while these were enlightening and interesting for the most part, they eventually overstayed their welcome. Especially a strange scene involving Tarkin facing down a bunch of space gorillas- I’m not even kidding.

While my three star may seem a little harsh, its because the second half of the book suffered from confusion and tedium. The story was not enough to hold me well to the end, but this insight into Tarkin we’ve never seen before was. While not all Star Wars fans may go for this, I would highly recommend it to Tarkin fans, or Empire fans who want to see the Star Wars galaxy from a mostly unexplored Imperial perspective- a perspective that brings up many good points that may change your view of the Rebellion.

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The 2017 Young Writers Award

I would like to take a brief moment out of my time today to briefly mention the State Library of Queensland’s Young Writers Award.  This great competition encourages young writers (in two categories of 15-17 and 18-25) to develop their writing.  I’ve entered a few years in a row now and this year I’m pleased to say I made it in the top 25 long-list.  This is a good boost of confidence, and I’m going to keep working on my writing and try to make the highly commended list next year.  For all those interested, you can read my short story “Discord” on Booksie- a site I’m going to start using to post my original works and short stories.  It’s a historical fiction set in WWII France, so if that seems like your thing check it out below:

https://www.booksie.com/529888-discord

If you’re interested in the Young Writers Award or want to read the winning entries for this year, follow the link below:

http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/awards/ywa

Keep writing, keep dreaming.

LisaW

Life’s a Beach: Noosa

Now free from the shackles of university, I have taken a much needed holiday.  The location of choice is Noosa, a popular and beautiful sea side located on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.  Sitting on the mouth of a river at the northernmost edge of the Sunshine Coast, Noosa enjoys a much less developed and natural feeling compared to busier seaside locations, due in part to buildings restrictions and the surrounding national park that prevents Noosa from becoming too overdeveloped.

Noosa is like a home away from home for myself as I’ve been holidaying there quite literally since I was born (my first trip to Noosa was when I was 8 months old).  Noosa is also the ancestral home for a part of my family stretching back to the 1800s, so the area means a lot to me.

It’s not just my connection to Noosa that makes me love it so much; it’s Noosa’s sub-tropical, laid back atmosphere.  While made up of a number of suburbs, I tend to break down Noosa into three areas- Noosa Heads, Noosaville and Noosa Northshore.

20171123_135231.jpgHere is a helpful map from my hotel room

Noosa Heads is what most people think of when they hear Noosa.  Nestled in between the headland, the ocean and the river, Noosa Heads is a fashionable yet naturally astounding place.  One of its main features is the famous Hastings Street- a stretch of road displaying the finest capitalism has to offer- and by that I mean its selection of pricey and exclusive boutique stores.  While my Hastings Street shopping experience is usually restricted to my beloved souvenir stores (I have more keyrings and fridge magnets than I care to admit), it is certainly a must do if you’re into shopping, especially surf brands.

The second feature of Noosa Heads and by far my favourite is Noosa Main Beach.  A strip of warm sand stretching from the headland to the river mouth, this beach is a favoured swimming spot due to its protected waters and gentle waves.  Unlike other Australia beaches, Noosa’s Main Beach seems to have found perfect balance of natural beauty and holiday developments.  You can enjoy the clear blue water with the forested headland and ocean beyond without skimping on the holiday luxuries such as lifeguard patrols, beach-side cafes and surf gear hire.  There are few places in Australia that I have been that I adore as much as Noosa main beach, and no matter how many times I go there I always think how amazing it looks.

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The second section of Noosa is Noosaville, situated a little ways down the river from Noosa Heads, is where I stay on my Noosa holidays.  Noosaville is much quieter and relaxed than the popular Noosa Heads.  Just as the crashing surf reflects the surfer atmosphere of Noosa Heads, the slower flowing Noosa River reflects the laid back nature of Noosaville.  While also lined with hotels, cafes and restaurants, Noosaville is more content to lay back and watch the boats float by than splash in the surf.  The river offers a calm place to swim, as well as ample boating opportunities.  My family brings our boat up here to Noosaville, allowing me to explore more of the river than most- from the ancient everglades to the ever shifting sand banks and islets of the river’s mouth.  Noosaville is the perfect place for relaxation- just imagine it: no loud music, no busy streets…just the sound of boats, gulls and the ambling flow of the river.

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I can’t say much about Noosa Northshore since its been many, many years since I’ve been there, but its an important member of my Noosa triumvirate.  This area encompasses the land north of the Noosa River and marks the beginning of the Great Sandy National Park.  I sometimes get to experience the tip of this natural wonder when we pull the boat up on its shore.  Asides from a few homes, a caravan park and a pub, Noosa Northsore is nothing but untouched bushland and beach for kilometers.  Since access is pretty much restricted to those with boats and four wheel drives, spending time on Noosa Northshore is like spending time on a desert island.  Just you, the beach and sea.  And of course the many avid fisherman and four wheel drivers you’ll have to avoid.

20171120_103051_Richtone(HDR).jpgThe mouth of the Noosa River.  To the right is the bottom of Noosa Heads, to the left is the North Shore.

All in all, words cannot really describe how I feel about Noosa.  To me, its the optimal holiday destination.  Along with what I’ve mentioned, there are dozens of other experiences to be found around Noosa- with Fraser Island (the world’s largest sand island) not too far north and the beautiful hinterland not to far west, there are many more wonders to be discovered beyond Noosa’s blue shores.  So no matter how many holidays I find myself enjoying in the future, I think the winds will always blow me back to Noosa.

 

Lisa W

I’m Back in Action

Where have I been for months?  The simple answer is in a pool of anxiety and despair as I finished my final semester of university.

But now its finally over and I’ve dropped the proverbial One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom.

What does this mean for me now?  Well now I may actually have time to work on my writing and maintaining this blog rather than trying to cram in what I can in the brief times of respite I had during uni.

I will be starting full time work in December, so unfortunately my writing cannot be my main focus, but I’m hoping once I settle into the swing of working I’ll have enough time and energy to devote to writing.

Part 1 of my Star Wars Revane story is *this* close to being done.  It may not be done by the end of the year as I promised, but hopefully it will be sometime in the new year.

Vessel is moving along nicely, and I’m about halfway done with the first draft.

I’m going away for the next week so I’ll likely do a post about that, and I’ve got some news regarding a recent writing competition that I’ll announce after I get back.

So that’s a little update on what’s happening.  Your favourite accounting student is now your favourite accounting graduate.

Where was I going with this?  I’m not even sure. I’m tired and need a nap.

 

Lisa W

 

 

Book Reviews by Someone not Qualified to Review Books- Indiana Jones and the Dance of Giants

Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants (Indiana Jones: Prequels, #2)Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants by Rob MacGregor

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I reviewed the first book in this series “Peril at Delphi” so this review won’t be very long since a lot of what I said about Peril at Delphi carries over to this book. However, I didn’t like this book as much compared to the first. If I could, I would rate it 2.5, since it was probably more than okay, but I certainly wasn’t blown away by it.

This time around, Indy finds himself tied up in a plot of druids, Stonehenge and Merlin, of all things. It was certainly an interesting premise, and at the start I was very interested in what they would do with it. For about half of the book, this plot continued on well, especially with the introduction of the intriguing and mysterious Adrian. But then for some reason it didn’t go much further, and by the end it seemed pointless and odd- which is all I can say without revealing anything.

We are treated to TWO whole female characters this time round- Deidre, one of Indy’s students, and Joanna, her mother. Joanna was by far the more interesting of the two, and her mysterious and knowledgeable air made it seem like she would be the match for Indy. But no, instead this book pairs him with Deidre, who more often than not came off as annoying. In fact, most of the characters in this book are not very memorable at all, but again I may be expecting too much from an Indiana Jones book.

I did like how this book ties to the first, however. I expected these novels to be very standalone, but it was interesting to see how they link together so far. I should also again praise the fact that this book at least accomplishes what it sets out to do- and that is tell a cheesy, history-inspired action adventure. While much shorter on the action than the first novel, there is still plenty of history abound, though I do admit there seemed to be a lot of creative alterations to historical fact to suit the novel. While I wouldn’t usually complain about this, some of them seemed out of place and far fetched, even for Indiana Jones.

I did enjoy reading this book as a fun, easy get away from other novels, but it did not capture me like the first one did. Again, I can only recommend this to Indiana Jones fans. Unlike Peril at Delphi, I don’t think this book would really appeal that much to history buffs because of the creative licenses it takes, although if you are interested in druids and Stonehenge, it might be an intriguing read.

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Writing Update #1: Oh Wow I’m Actually Writing

For a writing blog, there seems to be very little writing going on.  I am fully aware of that, but fret not!  I have been hard at it over the past few weeks.  I’ve been on mid-year university break which has given me some unobstructed writing time and boy have I been using that time as much as I can.

After doing a lot of scheduling and time management, I’ve decided to cut out a lot of the projects I said I was working on in that earlier post.  I’ve done a lot of thinking about each project, and decided whether they will be postponed for a while or postponed indefinitely.

Firstly, I’ll say what has been scrapped entirely.  Kings of the Bloodstone aka my Gothic fantasy novel has been postponed indefinitely, with a very high chance of it being cancelled.  After realising the market was flooded with vampire novels a few years back, I knew that my vampire story would probably just get muddled up in the mix.  Along with that, I had done very little work on it and the plot was all over the place.  It may rear its head later on down the track, but for now Kings of the Bloodstone is going to be filed away.

My second project, Man and Machine aka my science fiction novel has been postponed, but not indefinitely.  There are other things I want to work on at the moment, but I am very passionate about this project and I don’t want to forget it all together.  This one was starting to move along, and a lot of the planning is done and first draft was already starting to come together.  But it will be placed on the back-burner for now while I focus on my main projects.  But don’t say goodbye to Man and Machine forever, because like another famous cyborg story it says “I’ll be back.”

Finally, what are my current focuses right now?  Oddly enough, I chose the project with the least work done on it to be my main project.  Both Kings of the Bloodstone and Man and Machine had far more work done on them, but I decided to put the spotlight on my un-named fantasy/adventure novel.  It’s going under the working title “Vessel” at the moment, and in the few short weeks after deciding to put my focus on it, it has rocketed to first place in terms of how much content there is.  The planning is completely finished, and I am about a third of the way into the first draft.  This is certainly something considering that all I had at the start was a rough plot and some ideas for characters.  But now Vessel is well on the way to becoming my debut piece, and I hope it will be.

Along with Vessel, I am also continuing on with my Revan story.  This multipart series is more a personal project that will be published on Fanfiction and Ao3 rather than being published.  The first draft of the first novella is nearly complete, and I’ll be starting to revise it soon.  This will probably come out first, so Star Wars fans make sure you keep an eye on this blog, because I will be announcing its release here.  I did mention in my earlier post this was my biggest project, but I have switched it around with Vessel, which is taking most of my attention.

So there you have it.  Rise of Revan will hopefully be out by the end of the year, and I am working away on my first novel.  Feel free to send in questions or advice, as it will always be appreciated.  Any publishers out there are VERY welcome to send me a message.

Keep writing everyone!

Lisa W

Book Reviews by Someone not Qualified to Review Books- Damiano (Damiano #1)

Damiano (Damiano, #1)Damiano by R.A. MacAvoy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought the Damiano series because it was cheap on Kindle and the idea of Renaissance history blended with fantasy intrigued me. At first, I didn’t expect much but it became clear after just a few chapters that my expectations would be greatly surpassed. It had been a very long time since a book has gripped me as much as Damiano.

The book’s premise is what intrigued me in the first place- it is a story set in our real, historical world except that magic exists and is closely tied to faith. Despite being fantasy, this premise is done in a way that feels real. Mythical beings such as the angel Raphael and a talking dog existing in real locations amidst real conflicts blends the fantasy and historical aspects of the story together in a way that doesn’t feel forced.

At first, the writing style perplexed me a little. At times it can be hard to follow, but once you get used to its poetic style it becomes easier to read. In fact, once you start to understand the way this book is written you start to really become drawn into it.

I didn’t like any of the characters at first. They all seem infuriatingly naive, especially Damiano. But you start to learn that that naivety is an integral part of the characters, especially in a book with Christian themes about goodness and innocence. The whole book is about how this naive, young boy comes to realise the reality of the harsh world he lives in, and this tale is told beautifully.

This book is very much unlike the books I usually read as it is mostly devoid of fast paced action. But I found I enjoyed this book much more because of that. This story does not need action to string it along- instead it uses your connection to Damiano and your desire to know what will happen to him next to keep you invested. Just like its been a long time since I’ve read such an investing book, its been just as long since I’ve cared for a character in a book as much as I cared for Damiano. When the conflict comes to a point towards the end of the book, I could not stop reading because I just had to know what would happen to this young boy and his dog who I had become so attached to.

Don’t let the book’s age or Christian themes get in the way of you reading it. It is a beautifully written book that is unlike any other book I have read. It’s style may be an acquired taste for some, and it takes a bit to get over the unusual writing, but once you do, you will find yourself with a fantasy novel unlike any other.

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