Friday, January 25, 2008

Odyssey Reviews in "The Writer" Magazine

Odyssey Reviews appeared in February's "The Writer" magazine in an article by Jocelyn Maeve Kelley. In her article "GET YOUR self-published book NOTICED" Jocelyn offers tips to self-published authors on how to best gain exposure for their work using internet resources and services, like online reviewers.

The article featured PODdy Mouth, PODler, and Darryl's Library, as well as Lulu's partnership with Kirkus Reviews. The issue can be found of the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble store. The article is on page 27. It is our hope that perhaps it might encourage readers to come to our review sites and to buy the books we raved about.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

John Lawson; The Raven

John Lawson’s book “Witch Ember” made an impression on my sister. Only two fantasy books have done so, and she reviewed them both (self-published books) here. I read both of the books my sister said were amazing, and I have to agree with my sister. They are indeed amazing. So, I cannot deny that “Witch Ember” is a work of excellence. Now I am reviewing the sequel to “Witch Ember”, John Lawson’s “The Raven”.

I can only start by saying that I am floored. In my mind, there is no reason why this author should not be published through a major publisher. His work is without a doubt on my part, beyond exceptional. The scope of his imagination surpasses most of the commercial Fantasy books I’ve read.

What makes this book stand out is the sheer magnitude of the world that the author has created; the attention to detail, the originality of the characters and the world, even with the strong influences from our own cultures, norms and religions. His skill at world-building was brushed on in “Witch Ember”; here, it is in your face. John Lawson also plays with language, and context and adds to the mood and the expressiveness of his characters using dialect. It’s brilliant, despite the need for a glossary (which the author thoughtfully marked with a post-it flag for me).

The Raven” is a dark adult fantasy, which like its prequel, has situations and bleakness in it that are not suitable for everyone. This book’s stories are harsh and in some cases, graphic and gory. The visuals the writing produces sometimes make you wonder what the heck could possibly be going on inside the author’s head. But don’t be mistaken, this isn’t just a gore-filled blood-fest; there’s depth, substance and turmoil here; a violently tormented knight and a journey where you perceive growth and discovery, and perhaps even redemption.

Guiromélans is a holy warrior; a tainted paladin; a man whose faith has been put into question, and whose identity is so steeped in faith that his entire being is thrown into turmoil by his doubt and confusion. You will follow him as he tries to make himself right with God again, and as he travels and adventures through a world of creatures and images fresh and gloomy. The three-dimensional characters that accompany him, who pass through his stories, whose lives he affects are as rich and complex as the world they live in.

The book is as clean as a whistle with only occasional blips here and there; it is quite decently edited. It’s a thick book, and luckily, fairly self-contained, so you can pick it up without having read “Witch Ember” and not feel lost or overwhelmed.

Obviously, John Lawson has earned another five medallions from Odyssey Reviews for “The Raven”. I highly recommend this book to any serious Fantasy reader--it's a solid investment for your library. You will be refreshed by its scope and originality. You will also enjoy the collection of illustrations peppered throughout the pages.

Publisher: PublishAmerica (July 24, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1424143802

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fun Poll

Preditors & Editors is doing a series of polls for books, review sites, short stories, etc., and I've added Odyssey Reviews into the running. Please vote for Odyssey Reviews:

Also, a number of the books that I have reviewed are also on the other polls. Support our POD authors and pick (or enter) the books that have received five medallions from Odyssey Reviews!

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Michael A. Heald; A Rumor of Dragons

Marc is a Prince of Cathgar, and he seems to have little control of his own life. He is beloved by his father, and closely watched over by a Wizard named Kili. Marc has been betrothed to a Princess in Farling, a small kingdom some ways away. His future bride Alisse does not know that Marc was born without hands; and Marc’s insecurities about this betrothal are only part of his worries. Cathgar is under siege, his family endangered, and his own life in peril. He must escape to safety into a world he has been sheltered from; and learn truths that his lifelong teachings conflict with.

These characters reside on the world of Ganus. This planet is stretched to its limits every few thousand years by the passing of another planetary object. This last passing has left it scarred; and with a permanent dayside and nightside. There is a new passing to occur soon, and the world, both magical and physical is in turmoil. There are hints that dragons may be returning; after an absence so long that they’ve become myth. They are somehow linked to this planetary event; whether as part of the cause or part of the cure remains to be seen.

A Rumor of Dragons is an interesting work. There is a gritty bleakness to this world; and the characters are not the glossy, superhuman heroes of traditional fantasy, but flawed and insecure souls, with all the issues and baggage we have and more. The reader is taken chapter to chapter, switching back and forth from various character stories, as they slowly wend their way towards one another. This story ingeniously blends the forces of physics with metaphysics; magic and sorcery to tell the tale of Ganus and its people. It was artfully done.

I have a few criticisms of this book. First, there are chapters that stand out as ‘rough’ against the others. This is generally a polished work, however every once in a while, I ran into a chapter that was overly simplistic; short sentences, limited description, undeveloped conversation and motivations, and it would then segue into a chapter that is the complete opposite. It was disconcerting; as if I were reading chapters done by different authors, or done years apart. The second criticism I have is the use of the much-abused and overused device of the ‘wait-and-see’ ending. It is obvious the author intends to have a chronicle of stories based on this world, however even with closure of the main story, I felt extremely unsatisfied after following two particular characters to find that I would not know what happens until the next book. There is also a bit of a predictable nature to some aspects of the story. As a final nitpicking, the cover is beautiful, but it reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I understand how it correlates with the story; however I am not sure how well it will work in attracting Fantasy Readers. I could be wrong, but nevertheless, I’m a reviewer, so I must say these things. In general, the editing for this book was very good; I found only a few mishaps here and there.

All in all, A Rumor of Dragons is the beginning of an excellent chronicle of the world Ganus. I really resonated to the whole idea of introducing this delicious blend of science and the supernatural; I thought it was one of the most compelling elements of the story. I also reveled in each character’s flaws, weaknesses and imperfections; I found them extremely realistic and believable. To me, that’s refreshing in a Fantasy novel.

I have a lot to say about this book, but I am really torn about the rating. Despite my going through a very stressful time, I managed to finish the book. I carried it with me on multiple flights to the east coast and back, and it is dog-eared and roughed up by constant interruptions. The fact that I wanted to finish it says something. Despite my large paragraph of criticisms, I still believe this is a notable book. I think this author can go nowhere else but up from here, and so I am giving this book the full five medallions for bringing such a gripping, and unique perspective to the Fantasy Genre.

Paperback: 396 pages
Publisher: (January 10, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1430325097