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Blog-Off Entry Commentary: Balanced Storytelling

Blog-Off Entry Commentary: Balanced Storytelling

Okay, so you guys totally had to know that another one of these was coming your direction. It’s been way too long since we’ve been able to pontificate on yet another reason why there is so much crap out there in the self-published world. Or, at least, stories that feel like crap when you read them. Because, let’s be honest, the overwhelmingly large majority of story ideas out there could turn into absolutely amazing novels–heck, entire series for that matter–if they were only dropped into the head of a great author instead of an ignorant noob. That’s why it’s uber important, in our vaulted opinions, that everyone understand a few key concepts when starting out: because everyone starts out as a noob. Yes, even we at EBR were once citizens of noobdom. And yet, no one ever picks up their three-thousand dollar Facebook machine (MacBook) for the first time, says to themselves, “Self? You’re about to sit down and write an amazing novel,” and is then able to sit down and actually deliver. A lot of them make particular mistakes, and it doesn’t take long for readers like us to become painfully aware of what’s holding those stories back from making a reader’s day. So grab your notebooks, sit your own butt in a chair, and get ready for yet another round of goodness from your Friendly Neighborhood Elitists.
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Review

The Moonlight War

The Moonlight War

So a ninja, a highwayman, a witch, and a princess walk into a bar….wait, no, that’s not how it starts (my bad). So a ninja, a highwayman, a witch, and a princess decide to join a merchant caravan across terrain known to have killed experienced soldiers. Cuz adventure is out there! Or something like that.

Actually, it’s more complicated than that. The powerful Lord Myobi has decided–for reasons known only to him–to travel to a neighboring city, despite knowing that the most recent caravans have disappeared. When local merchants, desperate to reach said city with their goods, decide to join Myboi in the hopes that his elite entourage would provide the protection they need, he decides to ask the king for a caravan leader and escort. The king provides his niece, the princess Setanna, who takes charge, and must hire on cooks, muscle, and wrangle the groups into a semblance of order.
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Review

Revenger

Posted: February 23, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Revenger

So I’ve been sitting on my hands for the last five months, fairly disgruntled, that I didn’t have this story in my hands yet, because it was published in the UK last September and as part of that cycle, released in ebook/Kindle format. I’m pretty much a hard-copy only kind of guy. I don’t buy eBooks. I’ll read them. I just don’t buy them, because I so love seeing all of those bound blocks of paper sitting on my bookshelves at home. As Tracy Hickman refers to them (per my sometimes sketchy memory), the “physical reminders of the experience we found within them”. I guess I always have the option of importing hard copies, but that can get expensive fast, and for the most part I end up just shaking my head and dealing with it. Regardless, it’s always nice to get a new Alastair Reynolds book.
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Review

The Hollow Boy

Posted: March 7, 2017 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Johnathan Stroud, Horror, Middle Grade
The Hollow Boy

From Amazon: “As a massive outbreak of supernatural Visitors baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests throughout London, Lockwood & Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony Lockwood is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness in the team now that Lockwood has shared some of his childhood secrets, and Lucy is feeling more and more as if her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro.

“Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.’s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city.”

Yep. This series just gets better and better.
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Review

The Grey Bastards

The Grey Bastards

There are times that I grow tired of all the profanity and sexual content in books these days. I might have added violence here as well, but there is a part of me that realizes I’ve become fairly inured to it over the years, and as Dave Matthews has said, “I’m still a boy,” and boys do love to see a fight. 🙂 Still, it makes me happy to find a great book that avoids all the potentially offensive content. Now, up front, you should probably understand that this is definitely NOT one of those books. Yeesh no. Not by a long shot. But it was a story that made me think about the concept, because there was just so dang much of it. Now, I know many of you will likely be crying foul right now amidst references to all my “Books We Loved” reviews by authors like Joe Abercrombie and Sam Sykes. What I need to emphasize though is that in those cases it is the author’s ability to tell great story with great characters that I love, and rest of everything only plays second fiddle in comparison. But sometimes, one or two of those second fiddles can become kinda loud.
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Review

Shadowed Souls

Shadowed Souls

When I saw that this anthology had a new Dresden story in it, I snatched it up quick and then found myself regretting the decision. Because, you see, I’m kind of still catching up on that freaking amazing series, and it only took reading the blurb on the back of the book to determine that this story takes place at a point in time significantly later than my current location in the series. Had the story been by anyone other than Jim Butcher, I likely would have canned the project and either handed the book off to another reviewer or not read the story before reviewing it the anthology myself. But the thing is, The Dresden books have been absolutely genius to read, and even though I like the twists and turns and revelations in that series a ton, so much of the story comes by living it through the experience of reading. And so, already somewhat spoiled, I committed to reading the Dresden story with the understanding that getting from where I am in the series to where this story takes place was still going to be awesome-sauce fantastic. Oh, and there were some other stories in this book too. Even some really good ones. 🙂
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Review

Assassin’s Charge

Assassin’s Charge

I am so very tired of the “tough, damaged, beautiful-but-gritty chick/superhero” fantasy trope, so one would assume this book would not thrill me. Not so, and: Lucky me! The first selection I chose to read from the 2016 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off is a winner. I will be pulling for ASSASSIN’S CHARGE, a standalone novel set in a previously explored world, and for Claire Frank. I’m hoping this book gets some attention.

Mostly taken from Amazon’s synopsis: Rhisia Sen is one of the Empire’s highest-paid assassins. Living a well-ordered life of luxury, she chooses her contracts carefully, working to amass enough wealth so she can leave her bloody trade. She is offered a new contract on the outskirts of civilization and almost refuses—until she sees the purse. It could be the last job she ever has to take. She might finally retire to a life of peaceful leisure, but when she reaches the destination she discovers her mark is a child.
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Review

Fire Touched

Posted: March 28, 2017 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Patricia Briggs, Urban Fantasy
Fire Touched

The Fae have a chip on their collective shoulder. They’ve attempted to integrate into society, but it’s had mixed results since some Fae integrate with humans better than others (those who have a hard time are, for example, the ones who like to eat humans). Several years ago they “came out,” allowing their existence to become public knowledge. That didn’t go so well, so since then they’ve retreated to the Fae reservation in Washington state, near the Columbia Basin Pack’s territory. Now the Fae are downright testy. They’ve tortured Mercy’s friend Zee, let loose trolls to sew chaos in Tri-Cities Washington, and now want back a changeling who’s escaped Underhill.

And of course it’s up to Mercy to figure out how best to protect her own.
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Review

Senlin Ascends

Senlin Ascends

So every once in a while I’ll perform what I affectionately call a “dummy test” to check and make sure I’m not being a dummy about something in particular. I have my opinions, my habits, my modus operandi, but as the world is constantly changing I figure I had better allow myself to change along with it every once in a while as well. It’s no secret (based entirely on my most recent SPFBO review) that I thought The Grey Bastards was head and shoulders better than any of the other entries that made their way into the final ten novels in the contest. After finishing my read of ALL of them, I happened to come upon some comments that Mark Lawrence made about one of the books that hadn’t made it past the initial winnowing of the bevvy of novel hopefuls: SENLIN ASCENDS. Specifically, he said that it was, “my best read, one of my favourite books of all time in fact. So read it.” Whoa. How then, I wondered, had it not won out in round one? I tried to read the story that had taken the proverbial cake in the first round of that group of stories, THE PATH OF FLAMES (EBR review), and quit after about 65 pages. So the situation left me wondering if I was a dummy, or if perhaps I might just like Senlin Ascends. So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was–or more specifically, I guess, my money where Mark Lawrence’s mouth was–and I bought both of the currently self-published Books of Babel.
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Giveaway: Recluce Tales

Posted: April 10, 2017 in Giveaways
Giveaway: Recluce Tales

This giveaway is closed.
Update 4/10/17: The winner is Darren from Virginia. Congrats! Your book is already in the mail.
EBR has a spare hardcopy of RECLUCE TALES by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. to give away to one of our readers. If you’re a fan of The World of Recluce, this collection of short stories based on the series is for you. To enter this giveaway:
1. Email us at elitistbookreviews@gmail.com
2. Include the following on the subject line: RECLUCE TALES GIVEAWAY
3. In the body of the email include your name and mailing address. This giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
Giveaway rules can be found here. Entries will be accepted until midnight of April 9 and the winner will be posted on April 10th. Good luck!