Review: Coyote Chronicles by Anton Le Roy

As someone who reads a fair number of books written by authors who self-publish their works, I find myself still dealing with many of the most common biases and assumptions about self-published books, the most prevalent is expect lower quality.  My presumptions have been slowly whittled away with the help of several extremely well-done books, but many of these reads often come as the result of recommendations from other reviewers, and many of these have already gotten a bit of a following.

Thanks to programs like the TBRindr, a program that pairs self-published authors with reviewers, I have had access to even more self-published books, some of which are for up-and-coming authors who have not yet caught the attention of their potential audience.  I have read dozens of books like this, and I have been waiting for that “diamond in the rough”, a book or author that is not on anyone’s radar yet but should be.

I think I found my first “diamond in the rough” with Coyote Chronicles by Anton Le Roy.  This book is not perfect, but it impressed me more than I expected for a book with only 4 ratings on Goodreads as of the time of the writing of this review (and two of the reviews are by me and the author).

“They call me Veteran. A grizzled old warrior. Always on the road, meandering through fantastic lands and bouncing from contract to contract, which usually end up in violence. I flee the past. I flee the ghosts that forever haunt me, but I know that in the end I’ll have to finally stand and face them down. And when that day of reckoning comes my sword will be singing, the world will be burning, the ghosts will be swarming and a goddess will fall.”

What I loved most about this book was the characters and the tone of the book.  There was plenty of humor and cheekiness, but also a surprising amount of depth and emotion as well.  Veteran is clearly a troubled man and I love the morally grey way that he is portrayed.  There are also a number of other supporting characters that are each a nice addition to the story.

For a relatively short book (just under 200 pages) the world-building is good, and I am hopeful that it will expand even more as this series continues.

This book will most likely appeal to fans of Eames’ The Band series and the First Law series by Abercrombe.  I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and I would love to see more people give this book a chance.  Well done Anton!  4.4 out of 5 stars – Recommended!

Thank you to the author who shared a copy of the book through the TBRindr program.  This is a fair and unbiased review.

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Review: Soul Remains by Sam Hooker

In Peril in the Old Country, we were introduced to Sloot Peril, a strangely likeable accountant who is about as uninteresting a character as one is like to meet.  And, honestly, I suspect Sloot would be perfectly OK with that description, thank you very much.  Sloot is a by-the-books, routine-driven, compulsive and predictable man who would be much happier with his ledger books than anything else.

Sloot is back in Soul Remains and again he is pushed well outside of his comfort zone (which is extremely infinitesimal) only now, it is as a ghost.  You see, sadly for Sloot his adventure in the first book ended with his death.  However it did not end his part in the story.  Many of the friends and foes that he met in Old Country are back in this new story, but many are taking on different forms: one is now a demon, another might actually be a goblin, and, well that is just some of the least bizarre.

Perhaps the most noticeable strengths of Old Country was the humor which was often very witty and smart.  The same humor is ratcheted up in Soul Remains, and I honestly felt at times as though it was in fact too much, occasionally tripping up the flow and pacing of the story and stealing the show.  While I appreciate the clever analysis and social commentary that often comes out of the humor, it would have been better for me if it would have been used a little more sparingly.  Nevertheless, it was still a highlight of the book.

The characters are developed largely through dialog (which is done well and is heavily peppered with more of the humor), and we see a very different side of Sloot.  Well, it might be more accurate to say that we get glimpses of a different Sloot.  Watching him evaluate the world through a different set of lenses than the tried-and-true, seeing him struggle to change his perspective, and rooting for him to somehow save the day, we in turn get to peek at our own faults.  I found myself asking, “Am I this afraid of change?”  “Do I avoid taking risks for these reasons?”  “Do I come across this awkwardly to others?”  (I think I can see myself in Sloot more easily than I would like to admit.)

At the end of it all, this was another enjoyable story.  Unfortunately, it took me a little while to get into the story (again because the humor was too liberally applied in the early chapters).  I would give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars, and I will round it up to 4 because I like Sloot so much.

I would recommend this book for anyone who loves silly books with smart, witty humor.  Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in return for my unbiased and honest review.

Review: The Winter Riddle by Sam Hooker

After having read and enjoyed Peril in the Old Country, also by Sam Hooker, I was excited to receive this from Netgalley for review.  This is my fair and unbiased review.

It becomes clear very early in this book that it is written with much of the same wit and humor that we saw in Peril, and also filled with ridiculous characters and unlikely situations, but it is also quite the different story altogether.

Volgha is the heir to the crown of White Queen, a position that she has no interest in whatsoever.  In fact, she simply wants to be left alone.  Her sister on the other hand embraces the title of the White Queen, and she proves to be the source of the greatest misery for Volgha, who can hardly tolerate the queen’s silly antics.  The most outlandish is revealed when the queen and her best friend, Loki (the Norse God of Mischief), create a challenge to create a riddle that Loki cannot solve.  The trick is that he has to fool himself.

Yes, it is as weird as it sounds… but in a good way.

in a good way

I was not prepared for how well the characters were handled in The Winter Riddle.  Each character was written well, many of whom had a good deal of depth.  And the cast of characters was very diverse ranging from Vikings to Frost Giants and even Santa and his elves.  Volgha (the White Witch) is taken way out of her comfort zone to partner with some and stand opposed to others as she seeks to get this over with and go back into hiding.

This book takes much of the traditional concepts of the North Pole and its inhabitants and gives them a fresh makeover, or perhaps more accurately, a complete re-boot.  While this story may not fit within the  canon of classic Christmas literature, it certainly holds its own and is well worth a read for someone who is looking for something different.